On The March

On The March

Western fixation with terrorism at the expense of poverty and basic human rights is finally coming home to roost in Africa.

New or reinvigorated democracies supported by the U.S. and France are imploding. Military coups are rearranging the rubble. A decade or so ago this would have represented serious political backwardness. But now it’s quite different. I’m surprised to find myself saying so, but these military coups look a lot better than the regimes they’re toppling.
Read more

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.

Read more

Robot Food

Robot Food

SAGMwarThere’s a lot in common between South Africa and the U.S. Among the very most important and very least spoken is their shared agricultural power.

South Africa outperforms the U.S. producing oranges and performs about two-thirds as well for barley. South Africa outperforms China and India in corn, barley, oranges and fresh milk as well.

So agricultural companies pay a lot of attention to South Africa, and especially after last weekend’s seed conference at the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) which focused on defeating a proposed South African law heavily favoring GM seed companies like Monsanto.

Read more

Help Lions

Help Lions

lionhuntingfunIt’s time to ban hunting lion in the wild. You can help.

Lion populations are declining drastically. My post several weeks ago provides some explanation, but I was aghast to discover that lion trophy hunting is increasing and especially from America.

Trophy hunting of lion is only one of the causes for the decline, but it is one that ought to be easily ended. “Recreational” hunting, as it’s often referred to, is appropriately named. People do it for fun.

I can’t imagine how someone considers it “fun” to hasten the decline of a species in trouble. Once I was persuaded that lion hunting in Africa contributed to its conservation, much as today duck hunters claim the same.

Whether that was true in the past or not is now irrelevant, because it definitely is not the case, today. Follow my link above to my earlier article for the scientific corroboration.

Then go to www.huntingreport.com and filter to “lion hunts.” In this morning’s report you’ll find 45 accounts of recent lion trophy hunts in Africa. (The list is actually 65 reports long, but 20 of those are mountain lions in Canada, the U.S. and Argentina.)

Of those reported hunts 15 are in South Africa, 12 in Tanzania, 10 in Zimbabwe, 3 in Namibia and 6 in Burkina Faso.

These are reports voluntarily submitted by individual hunters over the last several year period, so like any social media platform, they don’t necessarily represent an average recreational hunter.

Nevertheless, it’s the only reference we have and it’s very disturbing.

Lion is listed as “endangered” in Burkina Faso by CITES, yet recreational hunters still go there to hunt them. Given today’s science, this is unacceptable.

Legislation is pending in both Canada and the United States which would ban recreational hunters from spending any money in America or using any banks in America that facilitates hunting in Burkina Faso.

Legislation is also possible that would ban the importation of any lion trophy. That is often the most effective way to stop recreational hunting.

But I suggest you lobby your representative to go even further.

Both the EU and the United States are proposing that lions be “listed” by the international treaty that protects endangered species as threatened enough that lion hunting would be stopped or massively restricted.

Although the Obama administration can move unilaterally on this, I don’t think it will. Obama’s record on conservation has been less than stellar, and given the current political climate and upcoming elections, I think that Congress must at least be moved to consider.

Tell your Congressman to support “Fish & Wildlife’s Proposed Legislation to Protect the Lion.” Ask for documentation on his/her actions.

Those of you who have been reading my blog over the years know that my personal position on big game hunting as changed. Originally I was neutral, having had positive experiences in my life time with hunters and hunting organizations that definitely contributed to conservation.

In my view that changed a decade or more ago, and with our current science on the state of the wild and rapid decreasing of our planet’s biodiversity, “recreation” should be an easy thing to eliminate to help save the world.

And lions in particular.

Burkina Volte or Faso?

Burkina Volte or Faso?

newarabspringThe crisis in little understood Burkina Faso is not over because apparently the Arab Spring that exploded in early 2011 is not over.

No one knows this better than the dictatorial leaders remaining in Africa who control the African Union (AU) which this time was instrumental in demanding that the Burkina coup leaders give up and go home.

Let me explain.

About a year ago, the old Burkina dictator of 27 years, Blaise Compaoré, was forced to flee the country by nothing more than spontaneous street demonstrations.

No one much noticed because Burkina Faso, the old Upper Volta, is one of the world’s poorest and smallest countries, a land-locked withering land that lacks any natural resources.

Compaoré didn’t blink an eye when trouble started in Africa in 2011. He didn’t blink an eye when virtually all the countries to his southwest exploded into the horrible Blood Diamond wars of the nineties.

He didn’t blink an eye the last two years when Mali devolved into chaos or when France arrived to put it back together.

Compaoré never had much to do or mismanage. His existence quite frankly was based almost entirely on his agreements (with virtually anyone who asked) to use his centrally land-locked country as a military base.

These included the good guys and the bad guys in the Blood Diamond Wars, the U.S. (for Obama’s increased militarization of Africa), France (for fighting Mali extremists) and Nigeria (for fighting Boko Haram).

So most people were yawning when about a year ago he routinely announced that he would once again stand for President for his sixth five-year term.

Out of the blue street demonstrations organized in Facebook exploded. That’s fascinating.

Did the Arab Spring never die?

A rather self-promoting piece in the Washington Post by a Vassar professor so contends.

Unfortunately the professor spent more time promoting his forthcoming book than he did explaining his proposition, so let me try.

The Arab Spring was not a singular phenomenon in Egypt sparked as Republicans may believe by Obama’s cheer leading. Nor was it confined to the most repressive of regimes and the most liberal, denying entry by any but the most extreme.

It was a cyclical phenomenon more or less linked to generational awakening of having been oppressed.

Maybe, but if it is a cycle — like anything today — it’s massively amplified by social media, the information revolution.

It’s hard, in fact, to point to any previous cycle in Burkina Faso’s history, since following a turbulent era immediately after Independence it was a single entity – Compaoré’s Company, if you will – that held control.

But the individual power provided by Facebook to organize similar sentiment is uncontained by geopolitical borders.

First there’s dissatisfaction, and the Vassar Professor may be right in that being a generational cycle. Then there’s dismay at being unable to remedy the dissatisfaction, after which there has historically in Africa been resignation and an endless stream of strongmen.

No longer. And what’s particularly fascinating about Burkina Faso’s quick devolution into revolution was its equally quick restoration out of revolution.

Hardly a day after military associated with Compaoré successfully staged the coup, they were besieged by virtually every other African leader and institution, good guys and bad guys, to reverse and get out.

The AU was most vociferous, and the AU is controlled by some of history’s most notorious strongmen. Why did they insist on a return to “democracy?”

Because they fear what is happening in Burkina will happen to them.

And, you know what? I think they’re right.