Showing 1 to 10 of 35 blog articles.
Pangolins rushing towards extinction

The primary threat to most pangolin species is illegal hunting and poaching for local use and illicit international trade. Recent estimates based on seizure data suggest that more than 895,000 pangolins were trafficked globally between 2000 and 2019. This trade mainly involves pangolin scales and meat, which are primarily trafficked to East and Southeast Asia, and to a lesser extent other body parts.

Scales for Traditional Medicines

Pangolin scales are used as an ingredient in Traditional Asian Medicine, particularly in China and Vietnam. They are believed to be a cure for ailments ranging from heart disease to cancer, and to help lactating women produce milk. Like rhino horn and human fingernails, pangolin scales are made of keratin and there is no scientific evidence that they are efficacious in medicine. Similarly, pangolin scales are used to treat myriad medical conditions in Traditional African Medicine, especially in West and Central Africa.

Meat consumed locally or as a luxury product

Pangolins have been consumed as a source of protein in virtually every range country throughout human history. In Asia, this continues, but in many places local consumption has been foregone in favor of selling the animals into illicit, international trade because of the high prices pangolins can fetch. The majority of this trade is destined to China and Vietnam, as well as other countries in Southeast Asia, where pangolins are consumed as a delicacy. The high price and perceived rarity means consumers eat pangolins as a luxury product to demonstrate their wealth and reinforce social status. In Africa, pangolins are eaten as wild meat, especially in West and Central Africa, where local rather than international trade is predominant. Estimates suggest that at least 400,000 pangolins are hunted and consumed locally in Central Africa each year.

Ongoing illegal trade despite international protection

Illicit international trade in pangolins and their parts takes place despite international protection afforded to the species. Pangolins have a long history in CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Each pangolin species was included in CITES Appendix II in 1995, meaning trade should be closely regulated, and in the year 2000, zero export quotas for wild-caught specimens traded for primarily commercial purposes were established for the Asian pangolins, in effect, a proxy trade ban. Due to ongoing concerns about the overexploitation of pangolin populations, each species was included in CITES Appendix I at CoP17 in 2016, establishing an international trade ban on commercial trade in wild-caught pangolins and their derivatives. Pangolins are also protected species in most of their range countries under national legislation, but illegal harvest and trade continues unabated.

The impact of overexploitation on pangolin populations

High levels of off take have resulted in steep declines in pangolin populations, especially the Chinese, Sunda and Philippine pangolins in China and Southeast Asia in recent decades. In some places this has resulted in the commercial extinction of the species, or the loss from some sites altogether.

Since 2008, there has been an apparent increase in the trafficking of African pangolin scales, mainly from West and Central Africa to Asian markets, which appears to be placing greater exploitative pressure on tropical African pangolin populations. Quantifying the impact of illicit, international trade and disentangling it from local use is challenging, as in Asia, in part because there is a lack of standardized population monitoring methods for pangolins. Based on the best available evidence, the IUCN Red List assessments for pangolins were updated in December 2019, resulting in the species being categorized as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable, based on past, ongoing and future population declines attributed to actual or potential levels if exploitation.

1977   1 year ago
Recon Africa, Fracking and its Impact on the Environment Wildlife

Recon Africa, a Canadian Oil and Gas Company, recently announced plans to start drilling oil and gas wells along the banks of the Kavango River in Q4 2020. The proposed site sits between Namibia and Botswana, an environmentally protected area that supplies water to the Okavango Delta in Africa.


Although, hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” has revolutionized drilling for oil and gas across the world, it has some serious negative effects on water, environment, and wildlife. Each fracking effort requires millions of gallons of water - which means two things - highly polluted leftover water and less water for fish and wildlife.


The produced water from fracking is so toxic that it will kill anything that drinks it, and it is often left on the ground or poorly disposed of, according to the US National Wildlife Federation.


The after-effects of fracking to human health such as contaminated drinking water, earthquakes, flammable faucets have been researched and spoken about many a time but the consequences to wildlife have so far been left out of the international conversation. These consequences are very real for animals, birds, fish and wildlife ecosystems. In some places wildlife is destroyed when their habitat suffers and in others water is sucked away or polluted, and fish and birds die as a result of it. Some species of birds can’t take the traffic, noise and dust that accompany extraction.


In 2006 a spill of close to 1 million gallons of fracking wastewater into the Yellowstone River resulted in a mass die off of fish and plants. Clean-up of that spill is still ongoing. - Source: The Revelator


The primary objective of ReconAfrica's initial three well drilling program, scheduled for Q4 of 2020, is to confirm a thick, active, petroleum system throughout the deep Kavango basin. Specifically, the wells are designed to test organic rich shales and more shallow conventional structures throughout the sedimentary basin as mentioned in their press release.


Studies show that there are multiple pathways to wildlife being harmed,” says ecologist Sandra Steingraber, a scholar in residence at Ithaca College who has worked for a decade compiling research on the health effects of fracking. Biodiversity is a determinant of public health — without these wild animals doing ecosystem services for us, we cant survive.” Source: The Revelator


As companies get drilling permits to drill in environmentally sensitive areas, vital wildlife habitat is altered and lost in surrounding/adjacent areas as well. The potential damage to the environment and wildlife ecosystems should not be ignored.


In one study, published in Biological Conservation in 2016, researchers examined the effects of unconventional gas drilling on forest habits and populations of birds in an area of West Virginia overlaying the Marcellus and Utica shales. The area has been at the center of the shale gas boom, with the number of unconventional wells in central Appalachia jumping from 111 in 2005 to 14,022 by the end of 2015. The study found that shale-gas development there during that period resulted in a 12.4 percent loss of core forest and increased edge habitat by more than 50 percent — and that, in turn, changed the communities of birds found in the forest. Source: The Revelator


Fracking uses a lot of water and much of the contaminated, polluted water returns to the surface loaded with toxic chemicals, radioactive substances, and high levels of salinity and in turn harms humans, wildlife and aquatic ecosystems.

 

1667   1 year ago
Challenges facing some Desert Lion Prides in Namibia. What needs to be done to save them?

REFLECTING ON THE CBNRM (COMMUNITY BASED

NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT) MODEL IN ITS CURRENT FORM- PROTECTED AREAS AND THEIR

POTENTIAL TO IMPROVE THE STATUS QUO.

By Izak Smit, chairperson of DeLHRA

(Desert Lions Human Relations Aid).

21 May 2021

 

This is OP-ED is simply based on the view

of the author based on 32 years of regularly traversing the areas in question

of which the last ten years were spent more intensively focussing on Desert

Lion Human Conflict whilst working with Conservancies and the affected communities.


NAMIBIAN CONSERVATION-BEFORE AND AFTER

INDEPENDENCE 21 MARCH 1990

Before independence, the “Suidwes Afrika

Natuurbewaring” was pretty much run autonomously in a military fashion where

every-one knew their place and a low tolerance for outsiders was maintained.

Discipline was the order of the day and maintenance of infra-structure a high

priority. To the old “Bokkiewagters” (Game Rangers), it was not a job but a

calling and way of living. The top structure ruled with an iron fist and outsiders

were viewed with suspicion and marginalized as the brotherhood stuck together,

much like in the army those years. Appointments were made on the basis of

strict vetting and merit and promotions were hard earned. No one dared to

question or challenge the top “Brass” and the public had “no business

interfering with the work of the Ministry”. NGO’s were unheard of and had no

justification as “Natuurbewaring” had it all “under control”.

In 1990 Namibia gained independence from

the South African Government and this culture was inherited by the new

governing body. The management structure was now changed, and the experienced

and knowledgeable pale males had to clear their desks as cadre deployment

became the order of the day. Few remained as mentors were needed for the

transition as empowerment manifested. Those who remained found themselves in

powerful positions as advisors and mentors as the transition process leaned

heavily on their experience and expertise. Those who were replaced who took the

“Golden Handshake” early retirement/retrenchment packages had to seek new

opportunities where their skills would be relevant and valued. This led to many

of them, people like Jan Joubert, starting up Tourism Safari businesses as

tourism started growing in Namibia while some later formed NGOs.

THE ERA OF NGO’s-

GARTH OWEN SMITH-HIS BOOK “AN ARID EDEN”

AND MARGIE JACOBSON’S BOOK “LIFE IS LIKE A KUDU HORN”

As things developed and the new Ministry of

Environment and Tourism settled in and went through its settling/growing pains,

over the years capacity and resources seemed to have become increasingly

challenged and the ministry’s mandate became more and more impossible to

execute without outside/outsourced assistance. Enters the era of the NGO’s.

Some of the ex-Nature Conservation staff availed themselves and, in time, many

NGO’s were formed. The IRDNC, Integrated Rural Development and Nature

Conservation formed by Garth Owen Smith was one of many. These then joined the

umbrella body NACSO, Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations.

Funding and grants from organisations like WWF floated the financial boats of

these NGO’s and MOU’s with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) were

signed and collaborations forged. To this day this structure pretty much rules

the roost.

In the beginning Garth Owen Smith’s

organisation was also faced some stonewalling from the MET as can be seen in

his book “An Arid Eden”. In time, after some lengthy and laborious

persuasion,  the MET endorsed his

proposed CBNRM (Community Based Natural Resource Management) model and the

first Conservancies were registered in the early 1990’s. The NGO’s that were

“in the fold and toeing the line” now had the political clout needed to operate

and relationships with the newly formed Conservancies were forged. Although

there was some collaboration, each NGO operates independently, has its own

mission and vision, agenda and interests. Many livelihoods are dependent on the

funding these NGOs receive and a number of ex Nature Conservation employees

from the old dispensation found a home here and their knowledge and experience

stood to benefit their organisations.

These NGOs now became the advisors and

consultants of many of the Conservancies and functions like Game counts and

others that the Conservancies’ inexperienced managements needed help with were

often outsourced from/guided by said NGOs.

The books written by the late Garth Owen

Smith, “An Arid Eden”, and his partner Margie Jacobsohn, “Life is like a Kudu

Horn”,  gives good perspective of the

history of the IRDNC and how it was established.

While the title of Garth’s book, an Arid

Eden, was appropriate until about 2013/14 it no longer holds true in the face

of the decimation of the wildlife in the conservancies over the last about

seven years. Someone bitterly commented that the title of the book,  “Life is like a Kudu Horn”, is actually more appropriate

now since a Kudu Horn is configured like a screw and the game population in the

conservancies are “pretty screwed” right now.

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MEFT AND

NGO’s-EX BOKKIEWAGTERS AND LIVELIHOODS-DAISY CHAIN AND INTERDEPENDENCE

As many of the NGOs are dependent on

authorisations and permits of some kind from the MET, toeing the line as

dictated by the MET had become a pre-requisite. With-holding a researcher’s

permit or an NGOs work permits needed to operate can mean the end of the line

for that entity. Unsurprisingly therefor, bonding became essential. This

resulted in an “exclusive club” and you could decide whether you are in or out

by pledging subservience to the rules or not. This, in return, ensured

“protection of your turf” and kept annoying newcomers/outsiders out. The

previous Permanent Secretary mastered the art of directing this orchestra

through bullying tactics and strategies. It worked well! In one instance a

newcomer was accepted after arranging study grants for 2-3 MET employees

through his organisation first, a fair exchange? Mutually beneficial deals

involving funding and revenue streams sweetened the arrangement or “Daisy chain”

and in some instances a researcher would team up with a select few NGOs who have

big Tourism interests, a win-win situation of note, although in contrast with

some clear permit provisos!

 

 

NGO’s AND THEIR AGENDAS AND

INTERESTS-SPONSORSHIPS

This situation therefor leaves us with a

regulating body dependent on a group of supporting NGOs for the purpose of

executing the ministry’s mandate that are being run like businesses and funded

by corporate donors and sponsors in need of maximum exposure and recognition

for “fulfilling social responsibilities”. Some of the NGOs are also supported

by the private sector and more particularly, tourism operators in a mutually

beneficial arrangement which included commercial film making and the rare high

valued privilege to see collared Lions.

Hang on you say, this sounds like mud

slinging and the usual handbag in-fighting amongst conservationists in

competition. No, it is not, it needs mentioning to give perspective on why the

current status quo needs a make-over as the CBNRM model evolved negatively

being driven by self- serving outside influences.

THE OUTDATED CBNRM MANAGEMENT MODEL-NEED

FOR MAKEOVER-SHORTCOMINGS AND MAKE UP- TRIPLICATION OF WILDLIFE-BLURRING OF

LINES-HAVING CAKE AND EATING IT-LEGISLATION AND PROTECTION

When a car starts to smoke, cough, wheeze

and generally starts performing poorly, one is forced to check for the problem.

Is it the gearbox, differential, engine or electrics maybe? If it is all of the

above, you change the whole damn thing.

The CBNRM mode has been going since the

early 1990s which makes it about 26 years old. Things evolve and influences

like climate change changes the variables and essence of such a model over time

and it, inevitably at some stage, needs reviewing. Desertification, both as a

result of overgrazing and climate change has progressed to a point where so-called

traditional farming, nomadic pastoralism and even subsistence farming may no

longer be sustainable or even possible. Traditional farming, in the modern

context has reached proportions in places emulating modern commercial farming

which has no place in an unsuitable, sensitive, arid environment.

Diversification of income is much needed and no traditional, albeit

destructive, livestock farming can hold the environment hostage to its needs

any longer. All of us on this planet are going to have to adapt or, yes, die! A

sixth mass extinction is not just a rumour, the tangible evidence is there for

all to see!

The CBNRM model caters for “sustainable

use”, which includes both consumptive and non- consumptive exploitation of

resources. Currently the lines are blurred and haphazard “zoning” which is

supposed to distinguish between farming, hunting, general, wildlife and tourism

areas, is just a thought which vanishes with the first signs of a drought when

it all becomes available as “emergency grazing” areas. This of course impacts

heavily on the availability of the very scarce nutrition the Wildlife had

become dependent upon as they adapted over centuries to survive in this hostile

environment.

In many instances we have witnessed semi-nomadic

Himba pastoralists and local farmers simply ignoring the Conservancy rules and MEFT

directives by driving large numbers of cattle into ephemeral rivers and areas

“zoned” for Wildlife and Tourism. Even worse, Reed beds would be set alight in

order to induce new growth for the starving cattle with no regard to the

destruction of the environment and ecology. The Huaruseb, Hoanib and Huabrivers

in particular became linear farms in these times to the detriment of and

causing major disturbance to the Wildlife. Since the moratorium on hunting and

utilisation had been announced after it had been discovered that the Game

populations were becoming precariously low, bushmeat poaching increased which

took its toll on the few remaining animals tasked with repopulating the

conservancies in future. Allowance was made for Game to be hunted for purposes

of catering for traditional leadership meetings and in many instances the

animals could not even be found. Some Farmers openly defied the MEFT and Law

enforcement agencies during the drought and the environment paid the price as the

result. The outcome was quite predictable and is now manifesting in starving

predators and ecological systems imploding.

The question that now arises is whether

having your Cake and eating it is possible in this context? The very

environment that attracts Tourism is under siege by Agriculture, the latter

which is clearly failing and not sustainable. In the end it will be either or……

. Either the Environment will have to be protected or it will logically be

overrun and turned into the wasteland it is already fast becoming. The Ministry

of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) is regularly on record stating that

the CBNRM model is so successful and serves as a role model to the rest of the

World. It claims that Wildlife had “triplicated” in numbers and that the

current lack of game in the conservancies had been solely caused by the nasty

drought…. . While it is true that game in Namibia has vastly increased over the

years, this can mostly be attributed to the commercial farm owners on freehold

land diversifying in order to survive financially and to optimize their return

on investment. This had been instrumental in building a big Hunting Industry

which contributes handsomely to the GDP. The difference being that the owners

of the game manage it like a business and carefully manage and invest in their

own stock for long term gains. The conservancies, however, being on state land,

are not managed in the same way at all and no real ownership and accountability

exists in this model. Windows of opportunity for corruption, maladministration

and mismanagement are abundant and exploited. This is sadly reflected in the statistics

regarding the high failure rate on financial audits of conservancies in Namibia

(over 84% failed?) and the current, sorry state of affairs regarding the

depleted natural resources.

All of this could not have been intentional

and a large portion of this failure could be attributed to the fact that the

management committees are simply in most cases not equipped to run these

“Parks”. Office bearers in responsible positions in many instances do not have

the knowledge, experience, acumen and training to execute their portfolios. I

do not fix my own plumbing as I would flood the house and possibly the town,

therefore I outsource a Plumber for that purpose. I also do not perform Heart

surgery as I am not qualified to do so. The same holds true here and it is

expected of these people to perform such tasks up to the same standards as a

highly qualified National Parks management structure would deliver? Oh, hang

on, there are many NGOs advising and assisting said Conservancies…. ? Now

therein lies the problem. Different agendas, interests, missions and visions

and in many cases the exact same lack of knowledge, training, experience etc.

and so forth exists within these NGOs. No, badmouthing them is not the purpose,

merely stating the facts here. A lot of confusion and the evident failure of

the current status quo being reflected in the affairs of the conservancies and

state of the environment bears witness to this. Also, after 26 years, if

properly empowered, surely the conservancies would have been able to function

effectively and independently by now?

 Let

us face the brutal truth, without insulting any party, the CBNRM model needs a

make-over of note and the drawing board beckons while time runs out!

In our humble opinion, the example of

Africa Parks, set in Africa over the past years as a turnaround specialist is

very relevant. In order to optimize Wildlife and Tourism areas these have to be

identified and clear boundaries defined to begin with. It should then be

gazetted as such, whether as concession area or proclaimed protected area,

either way it must emerge with a status properly protected by legislation and

through law enforcement. Farming, general and hunting areas (the latter clearly

not bordering the protected areas) should be clearly zoned with clear

distinction from the protected areas. This would have the advantage that vast

areas with huge potential like the breath-taking area between the Ugabriver and

the Southern Veterinary fence boundary along the Bergsig/Springbokwasser gate

road including the whole Huab valley can then enjoy the same protection as the

Palmwag concession area and even be integrated with the latter. This will mean

that instead of being a free for all area exploited and damaged by all

currently, it can be developed by concession holders and investors and run like

a park by custodians charged with managing Human Wildlife Conflict, security

and anti-poaching and maintenance while optimizing revenue, creating job

opportunities, skills-development and welfare for the Conservancy communities.

The aim should be proper mentorship and development with clear goal posts

ultimately enabling absolute empowerment over a period. Palmwag concession has

proven its success with Gondwana lodge and the Hoanibriver Wilderness Lodge

contributing substantially to the conservancy coffers. The wheel in this

instance, does not need to be re-invented but merely copied and pasted by

including more protected areas.

Land use guidance and assistance to

subsistence farmers enabling diversification to ensure food security while

downscaling livestock farming to provide sustenance instead of being managed as

a “traditional currency” will be of paramount importance. Considering what the

Israelis harvest from their equally arid Desert there is no shortage of options

that should be investigated and developed. Education and training will be key. Continuing

on the same destructive path currently followed in the name of “traditional

livestock farming” will be short lived considering the progressive

desertification and change and is not negotiable really.

THE DROUGHT AND POOR MANAGEMENT-RESULTS

IN PROTECTED AREAS VERSUS CONSERVANCIES

Good rains on and off had been experienced

between 2007 and 2012 and it was a “time of abundance” during which the

predators, a good barometer of the health of an ecosystem, and their prey

species had multiplied to a point considered as being well balanced. Game

counts, for such an arid environment with below 150 mm of rain falls per year,

were impressive. This was, however, clearly the end of a “boom cycle” and a dry

cycle was to be expected as per the normal and natural ebb and flow trending of

“seven fat and seven lean years” as a well-known, historical phenomena.

The quotas released for the “sustainable” utilisation

of the game were unprecedented and overly generous but according to those

responsible for the game counts, justifiable. People like the well- known

environmentalist Christiaan Bakkes  and

myself frowned upon this and we made our disgust  publicly known at the time. We encountered Zebras

that were clearly wounded and left to die in the “Red line” veterinarian fence near

Palmwag during one cull of 70 Hartmann Mountain Zebra and Christiaan Bakkes’

article in the Namibian newspaper, titled “End of the Game” described the waste

and massacre on the Giribes Plains amongst other similar cases of

indiscriminate plundering (as per his book “Plunderwoestyn”). This earned him an

end to his long career in the Tourism industry in Namibia due to the

traditional leaders and Chiefs’ wrath incurred.

Not very long after this, filling hunting

quotas started to become problematic as the number of animals available simply

did not match the numbers on the permits anymore. Hunters started to abandon

concessions due to non-viability and the question arose, “where are the

animals?”. A Moratorium on Shoot and Sell and own use was hurriedly imposed as

late as 2017 and after confronting those NGOs responsible for the game counts, we

were “confidentially” told that the scientific formula used for the estimation

of the game numbers had been found to have been flawed and hence optimistically

biased.

With no means of putting the Toothpaste

back into the tube, the damage had been done and we witnessed the resultant

sharp escalation of Human Lion Conflict in these areas from 2014/15 onwards. As

a consequence, this had a big impact on Lion mortalities through poisoning and

shooting by retaliating farmers. In one single incident a Lioness pregnant with

four fully developed and ready to be born, cubs was shot and killed.

When comparing the variance in Predator/Prey

ratios in protected areas, i.e. Palmwag concession, Etosha Park etc. versus the

same in the conservancies, the contrast is shocking. The conclusion can only be

that management, or the lack of it, should be held responsible since the

protected areas had gone through the exact same ordeal caused by the drought.

It has become apparent that, when “sustainable utilisation” quotas were

calculated no, or inadequate provision had been made for Predator requirements,

loss of game to poaching and disease/natural causes and that no contingency/allowance

had been made for core herds needed to repopulate the areas once the wet/boom

cycle begins. The results were clearly starving predators and Human Lion

Conflict escalating to an all-time high. Whenever Humans upset the equilibrium

in nature, Newton’s Law comes into play…..

THE TURNAROUND AND SOLUTION-MANAGEMENT,

BENEFITS-AFRICAN PARKS-REVERSING HABITAT SHRINKAGE-% OF LAND UNDER

“CONSERVATION”-SUCCESS CLAIMS  BY MEFT

While it is good and well for the MEFT (Ministry

of Environment, Forestry and Tourism) to boast that about 43% of land in

Namibia is under conservation, the question arises as to how the land outside

of protected areas in this category is being managed and why the disastrous results

and outcome. Having huge areas under conservation devoid of Wildlife due to

poor or inadequate, inefficient management may look good statistically but in

real terms defeats the object. It is common knowledge that the habitat of Lions

in Africa has shrunk by about 80% over that last decades and the same holds

true for the Kunene region, formerly known as Damara and Kaokoland. Where Lions

used to roam from the Ugabriver in the South right up to the Marienfluss in the

North, barring few Lions, most now only occur in the protected Palmwag

concession area. Recently the whole Huabriver Lion population had to be

translocated to a sanctuary due to starvation and more will follow. It would

make more sense to identify areas in Conservancies ideal for Wildlife and

Tourism and convert those to “Park-like concessions” with the appropriate

legislative and statutory protection surely?

A Perfect example of such successful

turnaround endeavours is that of African Parks. So far, they have taken over

management of about nineteen Parks in Africa in countries where conservation

had failed in totality. Their successes in Liuwa Plains and other parks speak

for itself. Not only do they manage the parks but the positive effects of their

Human Wildlife Conflict management, anti-poaching, skills development, job

creation, community welfare and upliftment etc. has made a huge, positive

impact on the lives of those living in close proximity to the parks as well as

conservation. By employing experts and applying sound principles, management

plans and strategies their story is one of success. It simply cannot be

expected that the same results could be obtained by incapable, inexperienced

locals advised by a a mix of, own interest driven NGOs on a hit and miss basis.

The shockingly low game counts leading to the current disastrous ecological

imbalances in the conservancies bears witness to this. The rather desperate,

urgent last-minute efforts by the MEFT to outsource the services of a consultant/advisor

unfortunately casts doubt on their grip on the situation and gives the

impression that they may be at the end of their tether…

CONCLUSION-

The reality is that it is very late in the

day and if Namibia is serious about continuing on the path towards successful

conservation of its natural heritage, no amount of political correctness will

realise this.

We need to accept that things are wrong,

learn from past mistakes and take some concrete action, even if unpopular in

some circles. One cannot simply put a Band aid on a bullet wound. The solutions

are there and need to be expeditiously implemented. For this, Political Will is

required first and foremost. Own interests/livelihoods, egos and needs will

have to take a back seat. Much like the climate change phenomena where some

drastic changes are needed to bring down CO2 emissions which involve sacrifices

and a paradigm shift, conservation has also arrived at a clear crossroad.

In hindsight, the words of Chris Bakkes may

have proven to be prophetic, this could indeed be the “End of the Game” unless

acted upon with urgency….. .

 It

would be sad to see the CBNRM model,  Garth-Owen Smith’s lifelong dream, disappear

in the Desert dust…. 

1180   3 months ago
The Tribe Endangered No. 3 - Penny

A Penny for your thoughts
And if you think about it
So many Pennys are in peril
So many pennys needed to fund
The work of protecting and rehabilitating
These shy creatures
Happy that while in rehab
You are protected and safe
Not against Hyaenas, your armour fits
Not against a lion, your scales protect
Instead against a far worse predator
The worst of the worst 
Those who won’t let you stay free
To shyly and harmlessly spend many a nocturne 
Unless of course you’re an ant!
She wouldn’t hurt a fly
But she is an anteater
Engaging in nature’s ant control
Patrolling, investigating, curling up in a ball
If a threat is detected, she just rolls
All except for one
And no ode to a Pangolin
Can take the man out of the story
But the stark, bleak sadness
Is contained in another verse
About Pascale
But here we keep it as kind
And as hopeful as (nearly im)possible
Focussing on the light in the plight
And those who care and do something
Care for the rescued Pennys and Pascales 
Show them the kind side of humans
The compassionate, the responsible
The never give up, the never quitters
Those that stand in the danger zone
The no-mans land between the species
And extinction
Yes, This is about Penny 
And the plummeting Pangolins
And other red-listed species
But also about the one species
Fighting to defend their right
To keep existing, to stay alive
Spare a thought and gratitude
For the Penny carers
But we need an army of people who care
Greater than the hoardes of exotic easters
And treaters of Pangolins as apothecaries 
Carers like @Wildatlife e.V.
Without whom Penny would end up
Just a pile of scales in a market
Or worse...

This is Penny 
Can you share a Penny for your thoughts
Tell us what you think about Pangolins
In the comments add your verse
Give us your take on them
Or more importantly, your give

A.E. (Anthony) Lovell

Photo: @Wildatlife E.v.



946   5 months ago
International Polar Bear Day: Feb 27, 2021

Information from https://www.wwf.org.uk/learn/fascinating-facts/polar-bears

photo: Florian Schulz/visionofthewild.com

1. POLAR BEARS ARE CLASSIFIED AS MARINE MAMMALS

Because they spend most of their lives on the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean depending on the ocean for their food & habitat, polar bears are the only bear species to be considered marine mammals 

photo Jon Aars/Norwegian Polar Institute/WWF-Canon

2. POLAR BEARS ARE ACTUALLY BLACK, NOT WHITE 

Polar bear fur is translucent, and only appears white because it reflects visible light.  Beneath all that thick fur, their skin is jet black. 

Photo: naturepl.com/Steven Kazlowski/WWF

3. THEY CAN SWIM CONSTANTLY FOR DAYS AT A TIME. 

As well as reaching speeds of up to 6mph in the water, polar bears can swim for long distances and steadily for many hours to get from one piece of ice to another. 

Their large paws are specially adapted for swimming, which they'll use to paddle through the water while holding their hind legs flat like a rudder. 

 photo: Steve Morello/WWF

4. LESS THAN 2% OF POLAR BEAR HUNTS ARE SUCCESSFUL 

Although about half of a polar bear's life is spent hunting for food, their hunts are rarely successful.  Polar bears main prey consists of ringed seals and bearded seals, 

though they will scavenge carcasses or settle for small  mammals, birds, eggs, and vegetation 

photo: Public Domain

5. SCIENTISTS CAN EXTRACT POLAR BEAR DNA FROM JUST THEIR FOOTPRINTS 

an innovative new technique developed by WWF and DNA specialist firm SPYGEN allows scientists to isolate DNA from a polar bear's footprint in the snow. 

Two tiny scoops of snow from a polar bear track revealed not just the DNA of the polar bear that made it, but even from a seal, it had recently eaten. 

photo from WWF.org Website

6. THEY FACE MORE THREATS THAN CLIMATE CHANGE

While climate change remains the greatest threat to the polar bear's survival, that is not all that the predator is up against.  The oil and gas industry is turning its eyes to the arctic, and with it comes potential risks of habitat destruction from oil exploration work.  Contact with oil spills can reduce the insulating effect of a bear's fur requiring them to use more energy to get warm, and can poison them if ingested.  Polar bears can also be exposed to toxic chemicals such as pesticides through their prey, which can affect a bear's biological functioning and ability to reproduce. 

photo: Klein & Hubert/ WWF

7.  GRIZZLY-POLAR BEAR HYBRIDS EXIST

As recently as 2006 genetic testing confirmed the existence of polar bear-grizzly bear hybrids, also known as 'grolar bears' or pizzly bears'.  The hybrid physically resembles an intermediate between the two species, but as wild hybrids are usually birthed from polar bear mothers they are raised and behave like polar bears.  The ability for polar bears and grizzly bears to interbreed is unsurprising when you consider that polar bears evolved from brown bears as recently as 150,000 years ago. 

 image:  WWF-Canada

8. THERE ARE AS MANY AS 19 SUBPOULATIONS OF POLAR BEAR

The total population of approximately 26,000 wild polar bears is divided into 19 units or subpopulations, of these just 1 subpopulation is increasing, 5 are stable and 4 are in decline.  The remaining 9 have not been assessed as they are data deficient. - we simply do not have enough information about them to know how they are doing.

 

photo: Steve Marello/WWF

9. MALE POLAR BEARS CAN WEIGH AS MUCH AS 10 MEN

Male polar bears can weigh up to 800kg and are twice the size of females.  This, in addition to the fact that they can measure up to 3 metres long, making polar bears the largest land carnivore in the world. 

photo WWF-US/Elizabeth Kruger

10 THEY CAN SMELL THEIR PREY UP TO A KILOMETER AWAY 

Polar Bears have a very strong sense of smell, which they use to find seal breathing holes in the ice.  Once it has found the hole, the bear will wait patiently until the seal comes up for air to attack.  They can even detect a seal in the water beneath a metre of compacted snow. 

PLEASE ADOPT A POLAR BEAR AT support.wwf.org.uk

Other cool facts about Polar Bears: 


They can overheat when in running in the summer and when temperatures rise above freezing. 

The clean themselves by rolling in snow. 

They can reach speeds of up to 25 mph on land and swim 6mph. 

They can live up to 30 years 

A female polar bear will have an average of 5 litters of cubs her lifetime 

SAFARI TRIPS TO SEE POLAR BEARS! 

Polar Bear Mother and Newborn Cubs – March

Spring Polar Bears of Baffin – March & April

Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari – May & June

Polar Bears and Glaciers of Baffin Island – August

Polar Bear Migration Fly-In Photo Safari – October & November


YES, THERE IS MORE TO KNOW! 

Polar bears touch noses to ask to share food. 

Polar bears do not prefer sea ice to land, they need sea ice to survive. 

A polar bear’s hunting and eating patterns depend completely on sea ice. Why? Because seals depend on it––and seals are the only food source with a high enough fat content and enough calories to keep a polar bear healthy. Polar bears can only reach seals from the platform of sea ice. While they are good swimmers, catching a seal in open water is extremely challenging and unlikely. Polar bears also rely on sea ice for travelling, breeding, and sometimes denning.

Habits and Behaviors:  

Polar bears communicate through body language, vocalizations, and scent markings:

Head wagging from side to side: A sign that polar bears want to play. Adult bears initiate play—which is actually ritualized fighting or mock battling—by standing on their hind legs, chin lowered to their chests, with front paws hanging by their sides.

Nose-to-nose greetings: How a bear asks another bear for something, such as food. The guest bear will approach slowly, circle around a carcass, then meekly touch the feeding bear's nose.

Chuffing: A vocal response to stress, often heard when a mother bear is worried for her cubs' safety.

Scolding: Mother bears scold cubs with a low growl or soft cuff.

Rushing: When a male approaches a female with cubs, she rushes toward him with her head lowered.

Hissing, snorting, lowered head: Signifies aggression.

Loud roars or growls: Communicates anger.

Deep growls: Signifies a warning, perhaps in defense of food.

Charging forward, with head down and ears laid back: Attack mode.

Moving downwind of dominant bears: Signifies submission.



TO KEEP UP TO DATE ON POLAR BEARS WE RECOMMEND YOU BOOKMARK:  

https://polarbearsinternational.org/




928   7 months ago
The Unsolved Mystery of Elephants Death in Botswana

The death of hundreds of elephants in Botswana has been an unsolved mystery for a long time during this pandemic in Botswana. Most of these have shown the symptoms of dizziness and walking in circles before dropping dead face-first. Government officials quote that 281 elephants have been verified to be dead with this bizarre behavior, but the conservationists and the NGOs claim that the death toll is much higher.

Initially, wild life experts have omitted the possibility of tuberculosis and believe that the cause is beyond the known diseases. Though the death number does not sound serious in population perspective, it is absolutely critical to complete the diagnosis and have accurate results in order to avoid any foul play or before elephants succumb to more of such mysterious deaths.


Botswana has an estimated 130,000 Savanna elephants and is considered to be one of the last strongholds of species in Africa. The earlier estimations were to be around 350,000 and ivory poaching in 20th century has reduced the species to one third of them today. The thousand-square-mile to the northeast of Okavango Delta, which has witnessed the deaths of elephants has around 18,000 elephants roughly. The wildlife experts and veterans believe that the possible causes could be the ingestion of toxic bacteria into the water, viral infection from rodents in the area or a pathogen infection. Conservationists are also considering the possibility of poisoning by humans.

The investigating officials of the Botswana government had sent for the testing to the laboratories in Zimbabwe, South Africa, US and Canada as well. The wild life department made a press release that the deaths are probably due to natural toxins.

However, the officials have confirmed that the conclusion could not be made about the cause yet.  Authorities have so far ruled out anthrax, as well as poaching, as the tusks were found intact. They believe that some bacteria can naturally produce poison, particularly in stagnant water.

Elephants Without Borders (EWB) is a wildlife conservation charity that first flagged about these mysterious deaths. Their confidential report with references to 356 dead elephants was leaked to the public media in early July. The charity suspected that the deaths were not restricted to any specific age group or gender and has also highlighted that many live elephants have shown signs of weakness, lethargy and even disorientation.

Presence of green lush vegetation and the fact that waterholes in the vicinity are still full of rainwater eliminates the possibility of deaths due to dehydration or starvation. Though the blue green algae can be deadly when consumed along with water, elephants generally drink water from the middle of the water bodies, but not edges. But there has been a pre-historic mass elephant deaths due to Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and this cause could only be substantiated with the laboratory results, which is still underway. The neurological symptoms like walking in circles suggests that anthrax poisoning is also a possibility.

The Anthrax bacteria occurs naturally in soil and elephants become infected if they have ingested contaminated soil or breathed in. Anthrax is known to be affecting wild life and domestic animals around the world.

Experts opinionated that it requires a detailed sampling of carcasses, soil and water in the delta area for an accurate explanation. But the challenge is the remoteness and the hot weather in the area which could have degraded the body, erasing important evidences, and scavenging animals which may eat organs making it extremely challenging for the examination. Despite the wildlife conservationists’ huge cry worldwide, there is still no confirmation on the absolute cause for the hundreds of elephant deaths.

882   1 year ago
Lucy the elephant



"Free The Wild" Director and Trustee, Anika Sleem is taking part in a live interview with MojoStreaming's Cathleen Trigg-Jones this Sunday, discussing Lucy the elephant, captive at Edmonton Zoo on Sunday!

About Lucy

Born in 1975, Lucy is an Asian elephant who has lived in the sub-artic conditions of Canada for over 40 years. She has never been with another Asian elephant and her only companion was taken away in 2006. Edmonton Valley Zoo's limited operating times means even the company of humans is few and far between.
She is 1000 lbs overweight and suffers from significant arthritis and foot disease. She has difficulty bearing weight on her back legs and, due to an inappropriate diet, suffers dental issues and painful colic issues which have caused her to collapse - seen lying down, slapping her stomach with her trunk. With no place to swim, no mud in which to wallow or trees to scratch against, Free The Wild aims to work with Edmonton Valley Zoo to find an amicable solution in securing her release. Despite being 45 years old, Lucy has another 15-20 years left of her life.

The interview takes place at Noon, Eastern Standard Time. Please check this time chart to establish the time of the interview in your time zonehttps://24timezones.com/difference/

Here is the link to the interview. Please only click on it at the start of the interview.:
Topic: Lucy the elephant in Edmonton - Anika SleemTime: Jul 25, 2021 12:00 PM America/Toronto Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/82582923997?pwd=MUNkOGFkRTNUMlZIT3hJS1h6cGU2Zz09 Meeting ID: 825 8292 3997Passcode: 978444One tap mobile+16699009128,,82582923997#,,,,*978444# US (San Jose)+12532158782,,82582923997#,,,,*978444# US (Tacoma) Dial by your location +1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose) +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma) +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC) +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago) +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston) +1 646 558 8656 US (New York)Meeting ID: 825 8292 3997Passcode: 978444Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kAidvBUKJ

860   2 months ago
The winner(s) for the 2022 MojoStreaming Wildlife Calendar

Winner $500 (USA) and Cover:  Neel Sureja

A finalist that will be featured in the calendar - above photo by  Neel Sureja

A finalist that will be featured in the calendar - above photo by  Neel Sureja


A finalist that will be featured in the calendar - above photo by Neel Sureja

A finalist that will be featured in the calendar - above photo by Trevor LaClair

 A finalist that will be featured in the calendar - above photo by Trevor LaClair

A finalist that will be featured in the calendar - above photo by:  Trevor LaClair

A finalist that will be featured in the calendar - above photo by Giovanni



A finalist that will be featured in the calendar - above photo by:  Josephine Tyler 



A finalist that will be featured in the calendar - above photo by: Shiva Kumar




A finalist that will be featured in the calendar - above photo by: Shiva Kumar



A finalist that will be featured in the calendar - above photo by: Shiva Kumar



A finalist that will be featured in the calendar - above photo by:  Tumwesigye Elasmus Godfrey


To see more of their work visit:  mojostreaming.com


Please take the time to explore and learn more about our winners and their talent.


wildlife-film.com   Trevor LaClair


gp-photography.ch    Giovanni Pelloni


josephinetylerphotography.co.uk     Josephine Tyler 


neelsureja.com    Neel Sureja 


thejungledairy.com     Shiva Kumar


interiorsafarisea.com   Tumwesugye Elasmus Godfrey










838   4 months ago
The Tribe Endangered

This is the introduction to a series on animals that are endangered or in decline, giving them a name so that we can give them a voice.

A.E. (Anthony) Lovell

Meet this tribe
These far flung ones
Precious ones we can’t let go
Little do they know
Their lives are in our hands
And in our plans
What is the plan for these friends
Endangered or in decline?
But they are not numbers
Or strange tongue twisting names
Linnaean Taxonomic classifications
They are sentient beings
We are sentient beings
We have that in common
But only we can control
Whether they get to keep ther home
In the wild, not in captivity
We want to see them in the future
In their natural estate
Not protected by being taken and contained
Effectively gone in the wild
On the shortlist to extinction
Let’s get them off the list
Let’s treat them with respect
As if their life matters
To them and us 
Directly and indirectly
We are their greatest threat
We’re giving them a name
And a face to go with it
And a tribe to recognise
These endangered ones banding together
Safety in numbers is their hope
And names as fellow creatures
Their rescue rope

We’ve anthropologised them
Within an inch of their lives
Some even further, now gone
Now we must anthropomorphise
To call them back from the brink
There are better ways in the future
Just recognise sentience
We have to lo and behold them
To hold them and keep them dear
With all the life on earth 
encircled on this sphere

The first is George...
He already has his name
Then it will be your turn
To give the others
Their names

816   6 months ago
Top 5 of the World’s Endangered Animal Species

Continued from last week, this week we count down from 5 to 1. 

5. Tooth-billed Pigeon



A relative of the extinct dodo, tooth-billed pigeons are disappearing at an alarming rate. They only live in Samoa and are currently fewer than 400 left in the wild, with no captive populations to help conservation efforts. They are elusive birds, very rarely seen. Even though illegal today, hunting has played a huge part in their decline, along with the main threat being habitat loss due to agriculture, or natural causes likes cyclones or trees.

4. Gharial



Gharials are fish-eating crocodiles from India. They have long thin snouts with a large bump on the end which resembles a pot known as a Ghara, which is where they get their name. They spend most of their time in freshwater rivers, only leaving the water to bask in the sun and lay eggs. There are only around 200 left in the wild. Their decline is due to several issues, though all human-made. Habitat loss, pollution and entanglement in fishing nets pose as some of the biggest threats.


3. Kakapo

The kakapo, also called owl parrot, is a species of large, flightless, nocturnal, ground-dwelling parrot. The total known adult Kakapo population is 209, all of which are named and tagged, confined to four small islands off the coast of New Zealand that have been cleared of predators. A kakapo’s natural reaction is to freeze and blend in with the background when threatened. It is effective against predators that rely on sight to hunt but not smell. 


2. Amur Leopard



Amur leopards are one of the world’s most endangered big cats. They are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In 2015, there were only around 90 Amur leopards left within their natural range. That number is now estimated to be less than 70. Like all species on the endangered list, humans are their biggest threat. Their beautiful coats are popular with poachers as are their bones which are sold for use in traditional Asian medicine. They are also at risk from habitat loss due to natural and human-made fires.

1. Vaquita



The vaquita is both the smallest and the most endangered marine mammal in the world. It has been classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN since 1996, and in 2018, there were only around 15 vaquitas left. The latest estimate, from July 2019, suggests there are currently only 9. Their biggest threat is from the illegal fishing of totoaba, a large fish in demand because of its swim bladder. Vaquitas accidentally end up entangled in the gillnets set for totoaba and drown because they can no longer swim to the surface to breathe. 



*All Images for this blog sourced from Google and WWF

779   11 months ago