Elephant update, parks and reserves are killing fields

IMG_0774 (1280x960)I haven’t posted about elephants since March 6.  Today’s news story about an elephant trampling a poacher to death in Zimbabwe caught my attention.  Within the article are some worthwhile facts; The Elephant Advocacy League estimates that about 40,000 elephants are killed annually.  On May 6, 26 elephants were killed in Dzanga-Ndoki National Park in the Central African Republic.  This is a world heritage site.  In Cameroon 40 endangered forest elephants were killed in 2 national parks as reported Mar. 27.   In Kenya, 24 have been killed in the Tsavo conservation area consisting of 2 national parks.  In Tanzania, there are allegations of 70 carcasses in Selous, the world’s largest game reserve and allegations of government worker involvement or complicity.  It appears that the national park / game reserve protection model is failing miserably.

No, that last statement is incorrect.  The park/reserve system is doing the job of separating day to day wildlife-human interaction.  Wildlife wandering in villages or trampling through farms or agricultural crops is a poor mix.  And in my first paragraph I ignored parks that are too successful at protecting elephants.  Think of Kruger National Park and of Chobe where there are now so many elephants that park integrity is threatened by the damage elephants do to vegetation.  I have read that in parts of Zimbabwe, elephants die as their food supply is now too distant from watering holes.  So the problem is not the parks and reserves, the problem is with adequate enforcement of protective measures, and yes the problem is that sometimes wildlife management of expanding populations may also be required.  For additional thoughts, views and information about poaching, I refer you to 2 blog posts by Rory Young, “What would effectively stop elephant poaching in Africa?“, and “How do you deal with animal poachers?” [WARNING – graphic images not for children].

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Anomie’s Child

2012-11-11 newcam2 051 (1280x960)Rory Young, that’s who.  He guides walking safaris, teaches advanced tracking to other trackers, park rangers, scouts and safari guides and writes course and training materials about tracking and other bush skills.  A former hunter, he now limits his hunting to problem animal control on suffering and dangerous animals. Rory provides information to persons contemplating southern African travels that you might not otherwise  find.  For example, see his posts about “Would an unprovoked elephant attack a human?“, “How do you track a leopard, or any other wild animal?” and a personal favourite “What is some of the most interesting wild animal poop?”  Whatever your point of view may be on the topic of hunting, professionals have a great deal of experiential information that they may choose to share.  And it’s comforting to see someone in the near distance carrying a rifle when you are on an elephant ride or walking with the lions.

Kathy’s Smilebox, Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge

Smilebox_2088936279Richard and Kathy, Gene and Rachel finished their southern African travels at the Imbabala Safari Lodge in Zimbabwe, located on the bank of the Zambezi River about 70 km (45 m.) upstream of Victoria Falls.  River cruises and land drives showed them impala, warthogs, elephants, Kudu, monitor lizards, crocodiles, hippos and bush bucks.  As you will see in Kathy’s Smilebox, this safari lodge is a nice spot to stay.

Elephants – globally, illegal ivory trade has more than doubled since 2007

2012-11-11 newcam2 045 (1280x960)A report released this month states that the global illegal ivory trade is now 3 times larger than it was in 1998.  It indicates the involvement of criminal networks operating with impunity to collect and transfer the ivory from east African nations, and that the main destination is China.  This report contrasts with our experience in Hluhluwe, Kruger and Chobe Parks where protected elephants are now so numerous that they are destroying vegetation faster than it can rejuvenate, threatening the parks’ function and biodiversity.  In Zimbabwe, elephant consumption and destruction of trees and shrubs in some locations has progressed  to the point where elephants are starving  – where water holes are now too distant from the food supplies.  To be sure, once ivory supplies in east and central Africa decline, organized poaching networks will not just call it a day and go home – they will move south.  For more information, here is the United Nations Environment Program news release.  More on this – African forest elephants decline by 62% in 10 years reported by the Wildlife Conservation Society at the CITES conference in Bangkok.  This is not attributed to habitat reduction.  Instead, forestry has provided road networks which improve access for poachers.

Kathy’s Smilebox, Wild Africa – Durban to Kruger Park

Smilebox_3311257602Oct. 28 to Nov. 1 found the tour group flying to Durban on the Indian Ocean, then driving to KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland and then back into South Africa to Kruger National Park.  Game drives were enjoyed at Hluhluwe and Kruger Parks.  Kathy’s Smilebox slide and video show includes her front seat video of a spectacular elephant crossing in Kruger Park.  A copy of the video was requested by the safari guide and has also been published on Youtube.  Kathy shares her pictures and videos of drum and dance performances, crafts, food, scenery and many many animals.