Category Archives: wildlife

Orphaned baby elephants

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:

  1. Orphaned baby elephant survival and capacity to return to the wild is priority.
  2. 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!

Why is large scale farming bad?

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?

http://theconversation.com/how-badly-implemented-land-reform-can-affect-wildlife-a-zimbabwean-case-study-79282

The Human Wildlife Conflict 

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’

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/14/if-we-stopped-poaching-tomorrow-elephants-would-still-be-in-big-trouble?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Copy_to_clipboard

Conservation: Noah’s Ark and trophy hunting

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


https://www.theguardian.com/environment/radical-conservation/2017/jun/19/rewilding-mozambique-trophy-hunting-elephants-giraffe-poaching-zimbabwe-sango-save-zinave?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Copy_to_clipboard

Drones and Anti-poaching

Earlier this week I gave a talk at a conference on drones spelling out our lessons learnt on using UAV’s for anti-poaching and security in the commercial environment. 

Thankfully it was a well received talk and we got some good enquiries for future projects. It may have had something with us being one of few companies globally to have aviation authority BVLOS licences which means only we can the distances we fly! 

Working in Zimbabwe 

Some of my talk covered parts of the study UDS did with CSIR which outlined the versatility of RPAS as a tool for conservation and counter poaching activities. 

http://itweb.co.za/mobilesite/defenceweb/home/item_id-45909/

Together with the on the ground patrol teams we can achieve great things

Did you know …?

Did you know that there are birds out there that live to over 60 years old?

The Southern ground-hornbill is one such bird. It is a vulnerable species particularly in South Africa and there are allegedly 50 groups in Hwange National Park here in Zimbabwe where we have taken this photo. 

They are a big bird and make a wonderful deep sound that can sometimes get confused with lion contact calls.

Having had habitats change into farmlands and human habitation has been a leading cause for their demise. Additionally they aren’t especially prolific in their breeding and locals sometimes use them as medicine, or “muti”, either for protection from lightning or to bring in rain.

How 1st world consumption negatively affects wildlife globally

What a world class study. So glad to be able to share how people are directly affecting wildlife habitats and population declines. This article specifically shows consumption from people in the USA, EU, China and Japan.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/01/maps-reveal-how-global-consumption-hurts-wildlife/?utm_source=Social&utm_campaign=wild&utm_medium=Facebook&utm_content=link_fbwd20170107ConsumptionWildlife&sf49581478=1