The impact of elephant poaching for ivory or bushmeat goes far and wide as elephants are keystone species known as the landscapers of Africa.
Elephants have voracious appetites to maintain nutrition for their large bodies eating grasses and different parts of trees. They will push down or break branches select trees to eat the roots and bark, this has knock-on effects:
- to create homes for smaller animals and rodents under the leafy branches that now hug the ground,
- protect the ground below allowing the grasses to grow without grazers eating it all up,
- giving smaller animals access to the nutritious leaves from higher branches previously exclusive to giraffes and elephants,
- gives more food like dead branches to termites.
The other impact of elephant poaching is that sometimes baby elephants get left behind! The stress of losing their mother, having to fend for themselves and not having the resources to do so greatly affects their survival rate.
A number of organisations around Africa have rescued these orphans and create facilities to nurture these animals back to health and eventual release them back in the wild.
I had the fortune to visit one such facility on the outskirts of Lusaka, Zambia: Game Ranger International’s Elephant Orphanage Project Nursery. Their philosophy is simple:
- Orphaned baby elephant survival and capacity to return to the wild is priority.
- Use the site for education and promotion of conservation.
Because of priority number one, human interaction with these gorgeous creatures is limited and at a distance- which I 100% support and love. This gives the elephant the best chance to survive in the wild and also means they don’t look to humans to survive and hopefully will less likely rampage through a neighbouring village feeling like it’s part of the tribe!
GRI is doing fantastic work in a holistic manner to save the elephants in Zambia:
- They have this orphanage project comprising of nursery and release facility, where older elephants are reassimilated into the wild and introduced/adopted into matriarchal herds.
- Anti-poaching unit patrolling Kafue National Park, running investigations and pinning the syndicate poaching network down in a few of the layers, not just the poachers themselves.
- Community outreach programs empowering surrounding villages so they don’t turn to poaching for a quick buck, become self-sufficient beyond just surviving, learn to appreciate wildlife and become willing to report wildlife crime.
Their community outreach has been really effective and includes school projects, women’s groups and a radio program with reminders of wildlife crime reporting to a hotline after every show!
I am excited about these guys as they have a genuine desire to effectively solve this issue and a willingness to collaborate and share their lessons learnt with others who legitimately want the same outcomes.
GRI need support as they recently got their funding halved due to a long term donor restrategising their allocations! We are hoping to support their efforts through Elephant Cooperation too!
I recently heard about the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) and it’s leader Damian Mander from my colleagues. He’s doing phenomenal work using military tactics for anti-poaching purposes in Zimbabwe.
Here is a TED Talk he gave in Sydney in 2013, which is a call to arms for those of you who love animals, treasure our planet earth or believe in a future for our planet:
Plastic free July. Can you do it?
All food establishments should allow customers to bring their on containers for takeaway or drinks. The pourers or buttons just need to have some flow measurer to automatically stop when the quantity is right. And servers need to know how many scoops of food are small, medium or large. It’s so doable.
The following article shows again why an overpopulation of humans is terrible for our planet.
It also shows how changing land use for farming actually impacts wildlife populations. They are talking about subsistence farming (people growing crops for themselves)! Even though it’s still typically a variety of vegetation and technically a green space, it’s still changed the wildlife dynamics. These large numbers of subsistence farms have overtaken the previously privately owned land that kept natural vegetation, because of land reforms.
By reducing the natural habitat, you take away areas of land that were the territories of several different species. They become homeless and may be lucky to wander off and fight another one of its kind for their territory but then one of them will still have to find a new one.
Us humans affect all wildlife numbers and hence overpopulation is a bad, bad thing.
This is in Zimbabwe with subsistence farming and based on the change in law for land reforms, which is also affecting South Africa in recent years.
Now imagine the western world, where we don’t have much subsistence farming, instead we have massive supply and demand farming and enormous monoculture farms without even any variety to sustain the variety of wildlife that previously inhabited that land.
Us humans have truly made this world uninhabitable for so long. Don’t you think it’s time we changed?
Two elephants are living in the jungle.
One is an Indian elephant and the other is an African elephant.
Which one is evicted?
The African elephant – he had the big arrears.
Southern Africa is truly blessed to have over 300 species of birds. The variety of sizes, shapes, colours and lifestyles of these birds makes Africa such a wonderful place for people to fall in love with birding.
My favourite birds tend to be the most colourful ones like the rollers and bee-eaters.
For some birds like the bee-eaters and starlings, the colour we see isn’t actually the colour of their feathers but through a trick of lighting called iridescence or due to the structure of the feathers with air cavities playing up that light refraction.
Down in the garden route of South Africa, we have the Knysna Turaco, picture above, similar in size to a Grey Go Away bird. This is one of few birds that have truly green feathers.
During a recent trip to Knysna (before the recent horrific fires), I was fortunate enough to be able to observe so many of these birds.
They are stunning and even more so when they take off and fly giving you a glimpse of the bright red underneath their wings!
Learning about birds in South Africa has truly made being out in the bush and on game drives that much more rewarding and breathtaking.
Most people associate warthogs with Pumba, the funny character from The Lion King. My first ever sighting of ones of these little creatures was at Kruger from a far distance and it was hidden behind fallen tree trunks and bushes so all I ccould see was grey and the tusks. But from where I sat without my glasses and it being my first safari, my first thought was: “Mini rhino!”
Physically, the male warthog has four warts on his face whilst the female has two. It is thought that the males have more to protect them from the tusks during their dominance fights with other males.
During my studies, these little creatures have actually endeared themselves to me as I learnt about their social behaviour, which may be similar to the domestic farm pig. Of all the animals, the warthog is a romantic, a story I love to share whenever I am on a game drive taking guests!
Humans are the number 1 negative impact affecting the environment and the natural world.
We have the capacity and capability to also be the number 1 positive impact but as a species we have as yet failed to show that.
Elephants and baboons are possibly the next ones in the queue for their influence on the environment around them being the gardeners of Africa, changing the landscape, spreading seeds and creating/destroying habitats and feedfor different animals.
This article explains how we as humans are continuing the negative impact even as NGOs trying to do our bit to alleviate the pressure on local communities to turn to poaching or trying to uplift the levels of poverty.
‘If we stopped poaching tomorrow, elephants would still be in big trouble’
Conservation is a complex business. Life, real natural life, is full of interactions, butterfly effects and things we are yet to understand.
There’s a great project to relocate animals from one park in Zimbabwe to another in Mozambique. It’s going to cost a lot and allegedly a significant portion has been provided from hunting.
What do you think of this?
Mozambique: 6,000 animals to rewild park is part-funded by trophy hunting
Endangered Wildlife Trust statement on the Knysna fires – http://wp.me/p1haFO-yl