Tag Archives: Conservation

Abstracting Owl Power for Conservation

A friend recently related how she had come across the decapitated corpses of two Spotted Eagle Owl chicks on a suburban road. Highly distressed by the discovery she approached a nearby construction site to confirm her worst fears. “Sangomas will pay a lot of money for them,” she was told.

Whitefaced owl (small)Photo credit:  The Diamond Route

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Averting the 6th Extinction

Things are aquiver on the Plains of the Karoo. There’s a buzz in the air that belies its bucolic atmosphere.

 In an area where the ancestors are renowned for their willfulness the cause of the hubbub is surprising because it’s all about custodianship and caring.

 What’s happening is this: the farmers of the Camdeboo are collaborating with the Wilderness Foundation and SAN Parks to preserve their land for future generations. Situated in the Karoo, a semi-desert area in South Africa where the consequences of relentless land exploitation are deadly and where fossils from the Permian extinction abound, it’s a match made in heaven. Continue reading Averting the 6th Extinction

In Conversation with a Knight

Mike Paxton is odd. No doubt about it. Odd in the sense that he’s an outlier. When you think of a 31 year old about to enter the prime of his life you generally think of someone who has either completed his studies and gone into a profession or you might think of so many young men nowadays who live without any direction.

 He’s neither. Paxton is a SAN Parks ranger who goes out on foot patrols to guard against, and catch, poachers.

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Legalising Rhino Horn

Will lifting the trade ban reduce poaching?

I love surprises. So when someone suggested that I research the subject of legalising the trade in rhino horn I leapt at it. I could see that the issue was ripe for some Edward de Bono-type thinking.

In Africa the black rhino is considered critically endangered and the white variety is listed as near threatened by the International Union of Nature Conservation. Black or white, population numbers are fragile. The primary cause of this situation is the continuous slaughter of rhinos by humans.

Some good out-of-the-box thinking could serve rhino well, I thought. Surely all it needs is some imagination and rational pragmatism.

The number one reason behind the killing is the demand for rhino horn in the East where it is used in muti of the Chinese kind. And so the fundamental question around the trade in rhino horn can be expanded to all geographical regions where traditional healers are faced with a dwindling supply of ingredients: at what point do we reconcile traditional values with modern reality? It is a question that requires deep introspection.

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Somali Pirates – Improbable Conservationists

I recently met a South African who’d spent some time living with the locals on the coast of Kenya at Malindi. He’s a keen spear fisherman and likes to take time out from his stressful job (that sends him to all corners of our continent) to spend time with other Africans.

While in Kenya he listened to the native drums, which asserted that all along the Swahili coast, fish stocks were on the increase.

The upsurge in Somali piracy has had an unintended benefit, fish numbers have started to revive, as fewer foreign trawlers are willing to risk East African waters.

What a difference to the usual consequence of African lawlessness, where plummeting numbers are the norm when the human wheels fall off (e.g. DRC and Zimbabwe).

The critical question, of course, is who is the plunderer?

Outsider (regional and foreign) rapaciousness is the killer. Sensible and controlled temperance is clearly a relief to natural resources and, by consequence, to the humans who rely directly upon them.

I can’t help but ask how Asians and Westerners would feel if Africans started stripping their natural resources. Would this be the moment, then, for Africa to take heed of the history lessons, and save the planet?