Covid Conservation

Covid Conservation

Wild animals and wildernesses are seriously endangered by the pandemic … not from disease, but from humans.

Poaching is increasing worldwide… not as in the past for black-market animals, but for food. Equally important communities worldwide are reducing their support for wildlife conservation, because wildlife authorities are ignoring the increasing human/wildlife conflict.

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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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Defining Riches

Defining Riches

Next week the Zambian High Court might obliterate one of the last great remote wildernesses on earth.

One of the most difficult and expensive and pristine natural wildernesses in Africa is the Chiawa reserve on the Zambezi river in south central Zambia. After years of bribing, subterfuge and international challenges, this remote wild might be sacrificed for copper.

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Lost Charities

Lost Charities

The West is less trusted today than at any other time in modern history; this shouldn’t surprise anyone. What is surprising is that the mistrust extends from governments to non-governments, even into wildlife organizations.

The arrogance of Western wildlife organizations is now bared to African anger. There was always suspicion: why do “Mzungu” pay so much money to save elephants? (“Mzungu” is roughly translated from the Swahili as “white man” or “European” and less so as “non-African.”)

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OnSafari with Hurricanes

OnSafari with Hurricanes

Cyclone Kenneth was the strongest hurricane ever to hit Africa and only the fourth on record. It plowed into Mozambique on April 21 with 143 mph winds.

Then, just three weeks later Cyclone Ida crashed into the same place! With winds of 127 mph it refused to move like Kenneth or normal hurricanes. It sat over Mozambique for more than three weeks wrecking untold destruction.

Like drunken gluttons these two disasters seemed to have sucked away Africa’s moisture for years to come. Terrible unpredicted droughts have popped up all over the subcontinent. My safari just ended in Botswana, a thousand kilometers west of where the hurricanes struck. It was a mess, an utter drought.

African agriculture has tumbled. Local currencies have tanked. Mozambique and surrounding areas of Zambia and Tanzania have been utterly destroyed. Millions remain displaced.

This is not the screenplay for an apocalyptic movie. It happened six months ago. The two hurricanes are the worst natural disaster in the history of Africa but unfortunately that record is not expected to stand very long.

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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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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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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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PeekABoo

PeekABoo

Hours ago a Botswana government report was released recommending that the ban on elephant hunting and culling be revoked, because there are too many elephants.

“Too many” is, of course, a subjective determination. I argue vigorously that the vast majority of deer culling in the United States is wrong including most hunting, but I agree with the Botswana government that there are too many elephants. Culling might be the only answer. Hunting is not.

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World Lion Day

World Lion Day

Today is World Lion Day, an unofficial designation employed by wildlife organizations. In the last quarter century the population of The King has declined dramatically. World Lion Day is intended to focus public interest on The King’s travails.

Needless to say public interest in The King is the highest among wild animals and that directly translates into interest at academic and public levels. Unfortunately, the huge amount of consistent data gathered on The King’s decline is not generating enough correct public policy. Most field efforts by the big-name conservation organizations fail to show sufficient consideration for the local people.

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Wildly Privileged

Wildly Privileged

Rwanda was first: hike the hourly fee for visiting a mountain gorilla to $1000. Tanzania followed: Two years ago the fee was $35/day in the Serengeti. Today (linked to where you’re staying), it’s $100.

The wilderness has been reserved for the rich. You know the rich don’t like to mess around with the hoi-polloi. Clear the Serengeti of teachers, laborers and clerks, and the parade of Gucci clad inbreds will arrive. And the eminent conservationist, Craig Packer, is thrilled.

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WIld & Diverse

WIld & Diverse

YellowstoneYellowstone, Kruger, Ngorongoro Crater, the Mara – four of the most precious ecosystems on earth – are becoming as crowded as Disneyland. Is this right? Is it necessary?

I never intended to visit an American national park in the high season, but I completely forgot about the Memorial Day weekend. It was an eye-opener. Yellowstone is a beautiful, healthy, diverse wilderness. We saw good game and the explosion of spring wild flowers is astounding. But there were so many people I had a very difficult time.

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OnSafari: Outdoor Zoo

OnSafari: Outdoor Zoo

custernpI spotted the first group of bison for a half-second before we continued sailing along the paved road and a ridge obscured the valley in which I glimpsed them. No problem. A gravel track headed out that way.

The “Wildlife Loop” road that runs around the periphery of the park is a nicely paved circuit. There are so many bison in the park you’ll certainly see many of the big, old bulls sitting near the paved road chewing their cud.

But to see the larger herds and the calves, you’ve got to leave the paved road and head to a southern plains area appropriately called “Buffalo Corrals.”

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Trump Cymbals

Trump Cymbals

tusks and cymbalsThis weekend the world’s largest big game hunting convention opens in Las Vegas very much as it has for each of the last 30 years. Except this year there’s one radically new component: It will be attended by the United States Secretary of the Interior with a delegation from the department in full hunting regalia.

That’s not surprising, but the agenda has shifted for this august group of officials. Unexpected meetings have been arranged to decide what to do about President Trump’s flipflopping about elephant tusks.

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