How safe is Zimbabwe’s wildlife?

IMG_0432 (1280x960)Not very, as it turns out.  As this article notes, The Zimbabwe embassy in Stockholm reports that 13% of its territory is reserved as parks and wildlife estates.  But the article goes on to chronicle a list of growing threats to Zimbabwe wildlife:

  • conservancy areas are being eroded through occupation under the guise of the indigenization policy
  • mining concessions are proliferating in national parks
  • Zimbabwe’s food supply and drought problems encourage small wild game subsistence hunting
  • this reduces prey available for top predators leading to increased human/predator interactions
  • foreign nationals involved with mining and other industries may be contributing to elephant and rhino poaching
  • Zimbabwe is undergoing deforestation.  In some cases road building for mines provides increased opportunity for firewood collection which is proliferating as a subsistence industry.  Road building also increases poaching access.

Donald Trump to redefine “Big 5”

Now this is getting interesting.  On Sunday Apr. 21,  Trump’s All-Star Celebrity Apprentices are tasked with redefining South Africa’s big 5 reputation, promoting other national assets.  Presumably these may relate to tourism, but could possibly refer to business features as SA is the biggest economy on the continent.  The news article refers to SouthAfrica.net which hosts and posts a variety of Top 10 lists.  You can find the lists in the drop down menu under Best of South Africa found on the top menu bar.  And I won’t be anywhere near a tv by Sunday!  I’ll be in the interior of British Columbia on a lake shore doing some fishing.

I checked when I got back home and the reviews of the show were mixed.  There were 2 packages, the adventure package; shark-cage diving, surfing, zip lines, golfing, and luxury camping and the romance package: wine, art, food, dance and spa.  I think they missed the mark.  After all, all of these items are available and most are common elsewhere in the world.  There were lackadaisical slogans and poor props.  I can think of several big 5 that are unique to South Africa – the big 5 cities for example would provide lots of avenues to talk about opportunity and doing business in an emerging BRICs country or as the leading economy of the South African continent, or economic ties to India, China, South America and Australia.  So all in all, I would characterize the show as a wasted opportunity.

Why safari in Zimbabwe?

IMG_0557 (1280x960)A link to a great article in the Globe and Mail, “Why safari in Zimbabwe?”  that explains how this country is being restored as an African safari destination in spite of political and societal difficulties. Go to original article here.

I wonder where the lions are…

Chobe Park, Botswana

Chobe Park, Botswana

Here’s some Bruce Cockburn music to go with this post.  I recalled a comment made by a guide during our “walk with the lions” in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.  He mentioned an amazing rate of decline in recent years in the lion population.  As a biologist, my first thought was, “They’re going extinct.”  Since our return from Africa, I’ve seen news articles about rhinos and crocs, but not lions.  So I went looking for more.  Lion population estimates presently vary from 20,000 to 30,000 world wide, 10% of the African lion population 100 years ago.  Some sources quote a 90% decline in only the last 30 years. The best web site I’ve found is a map at National Geographic that shows population changes across time.  Additional information is also available from National Geographic at this site.  The Panthera cat conservation site indicates that there are only 7 countries in Africa that are believed to have more than 1000 lions.  From a biologist’s point of view the problem is 2 fold, not only are the population estimates extremely low, but the geographic expanse remains relatively large which results in isolated communities and reduced opportunity for out breeding.  Here’s a Youtube video describing the conflict between farmers, urbanization and lions in Kenya.