Still a Pig

Still a Pig

Did you bathe recently? Use any body creams or lotions? Cream cheese or margarine on your bagel? Drive your Corolla to work? Then you’re one of the 4+ billion world-wide users of palm oil.

Today palm oil comes mostly from Africa. Ten times the value and quantity of oil is produced from a single acre of palm trees as from an acre of soybeans. And for the time being, anyway, it’s cheaper.

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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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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: Flowers

OnSafari: Flowers

Extremeley few Americans come to South Africa to do what my nine travelers and I are doing right now in Clanwilliam in the Cedarberg Mountains. Most Americans believe “Africa” means “lion” and little else.

Lions are one of my principal passions, but particularly when pursued in southern Africa I actually think there are other kinds of attractions that are more interesting and exciting. Like …flowers.

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Hunting or Survival

Hunting or Survival

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What wildlife authority in Africa recently issued this edict:

“Many wild animals in (?) have become displaced as the result of urban growth and habitat loss. [They] are becoming more common in urban areas and are frequently seen by people. These animals can cause problems. A resident landowner or tenant can legally capture some species of wild animals without a permit if the animal is discovered damaging property.”

Kenya, South Africa?

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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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Plastic Pity

Plastic Pity

Westerners decry plastic islands floating in the oceans and embrace with horror the fact that the weight of disposed plastics on earth will be greater than the weight of all its fish by 2050.

But for many Africans the arguments are already over. They’ve started banning them.

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OnSafari: Wisconsin

OnSafari: Wisconsin

I was sitting in our breakfast room, the corner of the house all windowed, overlooking the lake when a red Corolla with a red canoe on top raced down our driveway and a tall lanky man with wading boots and a funny hat jumped out and ran to the edge of the lake.

When he raised his binoculars my concern turned to relief. I walked out barefoot in my jammies into the 45F spectacularly clear morning and introduced myself, but I all I did was manage to agitate him as he muttered, “Yellow over red. No… pink over red.”

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Spineless Science

Spineless Science

So even scientists have been coopted, now. Today in Paris most all of the most famous scientists in the world issued an 1800-page much anticipated report detailing what the rapid loss of biodiversity is doing to us:

Killing us, essentially. By the way, what did you think about that last Game of Thrones episode? Pretty cool, isn’t it, that Alex Cora is skipping the White House meeting? Is it possible that climate change has something to do with the decline in biodiversity?

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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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OnSafari: Real Kruger

OnSafari: Real Kruger

Rather than go directly from one private reserve to another, the standard MO of most upmarket safaris in South Africa, I took my group Sunday into Kruger National Park.

You mean many Americans on safari don’t visit Kruger National Park? One of the best managed wildernesses on earth and the oldest? That’s right. Here’s why.

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