Cat Comp

Cat Comp

Does anybody in America realize that an elephant trampling to death a child on her way to school might be more tragic than a coyote eating a schnauzer or a bobcat taking a goldfish from the deck pond?

Bobcats are being widely hunted in America and I’d characterize it as outright slaughter with 10-15% of the population harvested annually. In Africa a global scandal develops every time an elephant is shot. How do you explain this to the parent of that African child?

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Lion Love

Lion Love

One of the hunter’s best friends on the African continent has been the South African Government. Until last week.

You might remember the dentist from Minnesota a few years back who shot the famous lion “Cecil” in a private Zimbabwean reserve. The outcry was profound, the ramifications wide. South Africa kept trying to sweep it under the rug and finally agreed to a comprehensive commission. Late last week the government accepted really strict anti-hunting regulations rcommended by the panel.

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Pandemic Power

Pandemic Power

The pandemic’s effects on Africa’s wildlife is curious and surprising. Later this year I’ll be returning to the Serengeti and areas nearby to see for myself the reports I’ve compiled.

Last week I reported on how the lack of tourists seems to have altered big game behavior. So what has that meant and what will it mean in the near future to the people living in Africa?

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Ele Wreck

Ele Wreck

The helmsmen sighted disturbing clouds in the southwest, but Capt. de Noronha was in no mood to delay. To avoid but the risk of a few monster waves given his overladen ship was ill-advised. There were pirates waiting for the hesitant. Everyone knew rounding The Cape was no cake walk.

In his wildest dreams de Noronha would never have imagined a cargo as vast as was now in his charge: Several hundred massive ingots to be traded for Mollucan cloves and nutmeg worth twice as much and ten thousand times their weight in copper! Forty-four thousand gold coins and sovereigns for the moguls’ chocolate from Gao and silk from China! And twenty cannon to protect it all, much less the victuals for the men on board!

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Everything Dies

Everything Dies

The mysterious death of 330 elephants in May and June in Botswana is the result of cyanobacteria, according to the Botswana government.

“That’d be nuts if it turned out there was an exclusive elephanticidal” caused by cyanobacteria, according to Chicago bacteriologist, Dr. Peter Sullivan who specializes in cyanobacteria. “My guess is it’s something behavioral amongst the animals.”

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Elephant Bus

Elephant Bus

Suspend your belief. I found an African charity that doesn’t boil my blood.

The human/wild animal conflict in Africa is almost as politically volatile as climate change throughout much of – especially rural Africa. Elephants in particular are the problem and a tour company has done something admirable about it.

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Lion Labors

Lion Labors

The contentious struggle about what to do about lion has heated up. Two UN agencies, including CITES, are teaming up to categorize lion as endangered as rhino.

That would end most lion hunting as well as pave the way for local governments to seriously criminalize interfering with lion. There is an awful lot to unbundle from this.

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OnSafari: Mokala NP

OnSafari: Mokala NP

Yesterday I saw more endangered big game species in four hours than I usually see in a decade of safaris in Africa. Add to that a manipulated zebra species but frankly, I’m going to have to work on having enjoyed this.

Mokala National Park is South Africa’s newest national park. It’s a massive big game wilderness laboratory. Fifteen years ago there was nothing here. Today it contains the largest concentration of near extinct big game on earth.

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Toast What Study

Toast What Study

What actually did the scientists at Oxford University tell us last week about the catastrophic decline in lion populations?

We’ve known for some time that lion populations are in trouble. The world’s preeminent scholar on wild lions, Craig Packer, issued a number of striking studies before his retirement several years ago. Packer was sounding the alarm a decade ago and just before retiring was so moved by his own data that he shook loose from his life-long support of sports hunting.

But nothing happens in vacuum. If you’re the vacuum cleaner man then it may seem so, and it seems to me the researchers from Oxford University are acting like vacuum cleaner men.

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Elephant Controversies

Elephant Controversies

When I defend zoos to my clients on safari I point out the structural shift zoos began three or four decades ago away from public entertainment. Most zoos have shrunk in physical size. Most now have fewer animals on display and most spend increasing amounts of their revenue on field conservation and scientific research.

I enjoy telling safari visitors that almost all animals born today in zoos come from parents that were born in zoos. There is an exception, elephants, and that’s erupted into a major controversy.

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Culling Politicians

Culling Politicians

Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe claim to have 250,000 elephants – which is a bit high – and their Heads of State met yesterday to decide how to handle “too many elephants.”

Botswana has a hotly contested election in five months. Elephants are a hot button issue in that election with the president decrying “too many elephants” and offering absolutely useless but provocative methods to reduce them. He hopes this glitzy gathering of mostly unpopular Heads of State will help his cause.

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Simbakubwa

Simbakubwa

Sometimes you unearth amazing discoveries in the deep masquerading shade under an arch of limestone in the scorching fossil fields of a desert in Kenya. Other times it’s in the backside of a drawer!

What Ohio University scientists Nancy Stevens and Matthew Borths have discovered is no less impressive just because they didn’t get their hands dirty finding it! Intending to study the bones of ancient hyaenas tucked away in hundreds of drawers of the Nairobi National Museum, Nancy discovered the world’s biggest ever lion!

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Super Tuskers

Super Tuskers

Last month one of the last known super tuskers died. The last time I saw one was in April, 2008. A “Super Tusker” is somewhat arbitrarily defined as an elephant with two tusks each at least 1½ meters long and each weighing at least 80 kilos. It was sipping water from a pool in Ngorongoro Crater.

Looking for super tuskers isn’t just a fun hobby. Elephant survival is directly linked to the size and weight of their tusks. Unfortunately, this is also the singular characteristic that attracts poachers.

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