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Day 1: Richtersveld video diary

If you’ve ever wondered what the fuss about the vast beauty of the Richtersveld is, or what is so special about the Kgalagadi, then this documentary of our recent visit to the Arid parks of the Northern Cape will give you an idea of what to expect. We recorded this series for you to see what […]

Lake Jozini: floating islands and mythical reptiles.

Lake Jozini spreads its vast watery fingers across the bushveld of Maputoland in northern kwaZulu-Natal. Winding down from the Lebombo Mountains above, the view reminded me of the network of snaking backwaters in southern India, dotted with houseboats drifting lazily across its murky waters and fringed by an unruly matt of undergrowth.  

Diani: Paradise Lost?

My feet have taken me homeward. I’ve been away for a little while now, working on a biography in Naivasha and a ’48 hours in Nairobi’ piece for this fine publication. It always gives you a warm feeling to be returning home, but this is especially the case if home happens to be Diani Beach, […]

The 8th Wonder of the World

It was a misty morning when I first entered the gates of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area; my destination, the 8th Wonder of the World, the Ngorongoro Crater. Upon entering the park, I drove for several kilometers along the mossy afromontane forest rim. Few words can describe the emotion I experienced when I first stood on […]

The legal killing of rhino?

The latest issue of Africa Geographic carries an update on the rhino poaching crisis. When going to print, approximately 160 animals had been killed. That figure is now over 190, which means at the current rate, somewhere between 400 and 450 animals will be illegally killed by the end of this year. And the slaughter […]

Okavango Adventure

Steve’s official survey video: httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIKX9058LG8&feature=player_embedded

Game Ranger of the Year 2011

Game Rangers have a unique lifestyle. Their day ignites with the sunrise, when the animals are most active, and often ends late at night when the last guest has gone to bed. In this time, they track and locate high profile animals, 4×4 through sticky situations, interpret and explain ecology, host dinner until late – […]

Who is following the sardine run?

This week’s blog post comes once again from the Wild Coast in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. The annual sardine migration that takes place here is happening as I write, so I thought I would describe some of the major predators that take part in this wildlife phenomenon. The sardines are only small fish, but they […]

Leopard behaviour – Information technology

It is quite fascinating to follow a big cat when they are on a territorial patrol.  Last month I was able to watch the Dumatau male leopard as he went about on an early morning patrol.  He is one of the most relaxed of big cats, and takes no notice of our vehicles.  For cats […]

A different kind of line-fishing

When this female pied kingfisher dived into the waters of the Savuti Channel to catch a small fish, she got a bit of a surprise.

Cats and the memory of water

It is often said that cats don’t like water. Undoubtedly, this has some truth in it, but for cats living in and around the wetlands of northern Botswana these days, coping with water is a reality.

The Leopards of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve

Living the Dream – My Life as a Professional Safari Guide by Marius Coetzee   It was a Sunday afternoon, living in a small farm town in the North West Province, when the phone unexpectedly rang. It was my brother Hendri and he casually asked me if I would like to come and work on […]

Gorilla Doctors

I first discovered the Gorilla Doctors while writing an article about a gorilla naming ceremony in Rwanda. Since then, I’ve been in touch with Molly Feltner, a freelance writer, photographer and communicator for the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project. Molly told me how the project is made up of an international team of vets, known as […]

Serengeti Highway update

Readers are by now familiar with the controversy over the Tanzanian governments proposed new highway through the Serengeti National Park, which is a World Heritage Site . It’s been something of an ‘on-again, off-again’ saga as the pros and cons have been highlighted by the various parties involved. More recently, government plans for other infrastructural […]

You be the judge?

It’s a tricky question, and one that crops up all too often in the wild. Should you, as a human, use your power to save an animal in distress? Instinct and compassion say yes, but Ian Michler suggests that more considered thought is required. An immensely thought-provoking letter from Italian readers Marinella and Federico San […]

Another rhino bust

Late yesterday afternoon, police made another breakthrough in their fight against rhino poaching when they arrested three suspected poachers in Mookgophong (formerly known as Naboomspruit), in Limpopo Province. Acting on information passed to them, the suspects were caught in possession of an R5 rifle making it a strong possibility they are some of the lead […]

Response to canned hunting comments

My last posting on canned hunting was Shame On Us back in late November 2010 when the Supreme Court of Appeal handed down its long-awaited judgment in favour of the South African Predator Breeders Associationation. Since then I’ve been travelling in Botswana and on New Year’s day it was off to Mali for a two […]

The New Year Starts with a Bang

It’s happened – today we are thrilled to confirm 2 matings for our northern white rhinos. The first mating was between Fatu and Suni (northern white on northern white). The second mating was Sudan – our oldest northern white male – with Aramiet (southern white female). To see the old boy has still “got it” […]

Shame on us!

For so many of us involved in the wildlife, conservation and ecotourism industries in South Africa, it’s a very shameful period right now. In addition to dealing with the rhino poaching scourge, the appalling practices of canned hunting and the breeding of predators in captivity have just been given the green light to continue. This […]

Are we water wise?

My diary in November’s issue of Africa Geographic refers to water stress – this includes the increasing demand on the fixed amount of water worldwide, and the deteriorating quality of much of this water. The question I did not address was what we as individuals can do to alleviate this situation. Firstly, there are the […]

How to destroy a marine protected area?

Are South African National Parks (SANParks) and Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) about to take a decision that may well be the first step in destroying the Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area (MPA)? There is a belief amongst marine conservationists and scientists that these two departments are seriously considering opening sections of the MPA to fishing. […]

The second big bust

I have been away on safari over the last few weeks and come back to mixed news on the rhino poaching crisis. On the plus side is the huge bust by the police and other agencies of the Groenewalds and their accomplices. It was only going to be a matter of time before the authorities […]

Some Encouraging Signs from the Northern White Rhinos

It has been a while since we sent news from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the northern white rhinos. We decided that, instead of reporting on the same thing every two weeks, we would wait until there was some significant news to share with you. And we are happy to say that there are some […]

Everest Team gathers in support of the Wild Dogs

The black tie function took place on Thursday the 30th September at the Rosebank Hyatt. Thanks to you, the event was sold out with 220 people. David OSullivan hosted the event and Vaughan De La Harpe, who initiated the event, helped, in all to raise approx R700 000 for the Kruger wild dogs project! Frikkie, […]

AWFs Maasai Steppe Heartland

At the moment I’m sitting here in Arusha, after a trip to visit the African Wildlife Foundation’s Masai Steppe Heartland. The thing that struck me about the visit wasn’t the wildlife per se, but the efforts the AWF put into the people side. Working almost exclusively outside formally protected areas the organization is putting considerable […]

Manyara Ranch Conservancy

Set between Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks lies the Manyara Ranch Conservancy. The initiative, driven by the African Wildlife Foundation and the Tanzania Land Conservation Trust, has seen a government cattle ranch turned back to land for both wildlife and a dry season refuge for local Maasai herders. Nestled on the property is the […]

Udzungwa Mountains

A couple of weeks ago saw me travel to Tanzania’s Udzungwa Mountains National Park. The area is a far cry from the regular tourist circuit of the Serengeti and Mount Kilimanjaro. The beauty of the area isn’t the big mammals – of which there are several – but the whole potpourri of life the mountains, […]

After the rhino summit

Within days of the Lead SA Rhino summit, a joint resolution was released. Amongst various undertakings, the following points were listed as priorities: Agree on a national anti-rhino poaching reporting number to allow the public to blow the whistle on poachers. Coordinate the provision of intelligence from all groups to the National Wildlife Crime Reaction […]

Summit on rhino poaching

As of today, Thursday 19th August, poachers have killed 173 rhino for their horns since the start of 2010 – that is one animal every 32 hours. Taking the average weight of five kilograms per set of horns, that equates to a haul of 865 kilograms. Sources put the current value of horn leaving the […]

Predator breeder and trader arrested

Well done to the South African police – they may very well have made another crucial breakthrough in their fight against the organised crime syndicates targeting the country’s wildlife. On Friday 23rd July, an individual that is extremely well known in the canned hunting and predator-breeding industries of the Free State was arrested. According to […]

Lots of Visitors for the Northern White Rhinos

The past couple of weeks rolled around with cold, windy weather, with temperatures ranging from a low of 10°C to a high of 17°C. For the northern white rhinos, these temperatures may be slightly reminiscent of their stay in the Czech Republic, but with the cold air came warm company. We were pleased to welcome […]

Of water, trees and nutrients

This year the Okavango River is carrying more water than it has for many years. On a recent flight over the Delta I was struck by the impact the high water levels are having on trees. Much of the water in the Delta moves in big, shallow sheets, rather than in narrow, erosive channels. The […]

More lion statistics

The CITES stats I referred to in a previous blog are a comprehensive set of numbers covering everything from trophies to the export of claws and other body parts for 2008/9. They make for astounding reading and give a clear picture of how extensive breeding, trading and hunting has become in South Africa. Because supplying […]

Helicopters from Hell

The rhino poaching scourge presently underway across South Africa continues: this past week there were two incidents involving helicopters flying without flight plans. One case occurred in the Tugela Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, where a female white rhino had her horns taken off with a chainsaw. Miraculously, the rhino survived after being found by […]

The BP horror

Map showing the current impact of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Source: ifitwasmyhome.com There can surely be no one on this planet that is not horrified at the ongoing oil disaster taking place in the Gulf of Mexico. It can only be described as environmental rape of the severest kind. It is now two months […]

New date for Wild Dogs fund raiser

The fund raiser for the African Wild Dogs/EWT evening at the Rosebank Hyatt will be on 30 September 2010. Tickets are R500 per person aor R5 000 per table. Please let your friends and family know about this so we can get a full house – it is for a great cause and all proceeds […]

Stubborn Woman, New Friends and New Housing Arrangements

Stubborn Najin We are happy to announce that Najin has finally permanently moved into the large 700 acre breeding area, by Sudan’s side. But it was easier said than done. It took our team about three weeks to get Najin out of the bomas and the 400 x 400 metre enclosure. She simply refused to […]

Canned lion hunting in Botwana?

I have for a number of years been warning that canned hunting is on its way to Botswana. After taking a thorough look at the latest export and import statistics for lion Panther leo issued by CITES in South Africa, I am now almost certain that these and other associated practices are already taking place, […]

Rhino syndicate hit hard

A victim of poaching, as published in Africa Geographic September 2008. Photo: SAPS By all accounts, rhinoceros poaching in southern Africa has reached alarming levels. During this past weekend alone, four rhinos were poached in South Africa, one being shot from a helicopter registered with false license plates. A total of 220 were killed for […]

Big open spaces for the Northern Whites

A lot has happened since our last update which was sent on April 20. We sadly said goodbye to Berry White, our expert rhino whisperer, who returned home to the UK. Three of the northern whites were given access to the breeding area. And most importantly, this week, we decided to separate the two females […]

Protea stopped

As most of you are now well aware, after widespread and sustained opposition, Protea Hotels, Zambia has withdrawn its application for a 144-bed hotel along the banks of the Zambezi River. I had hoped to have posted a comment within days of the news, but it has taken Protea this long to reply to the […]

An Exciting Week for Our New White Rhino Community

The Final Translocations Since our last update, we had one more day of translocation on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, on the 10th of April. The day started early, with the aircraft going up first to spot the elusive mum and calf that had evaded us the previous day. It was a tense time for the […]

Rhino Translocation Week

Preparation for the Release At the start of this week the Ol Pejeta Conservancy was once again host to old and new friends from the UK and the Czech Republic. Our guests had no time to relax as we began an action-packed week to prepare the new northern white rhino breeding area for the eventual […]

Stop Protea Hotels

Ian Michler Protea Hotels, a mass-market operator by any definition of tourism you may choose to use, wants a slice of near-pristine wilderness along the banks of the Zambezi River. Its Zambian subsidiary is proposing a 144-bed hotel and conference centre on a prime site in the Chiawa Game Management Area. The concession is adjacent […]

Eating the oceans

Ian Michler According to a recent IUCN Red Data press release, sturgeons, one of the oldest surviving fish families, are the most critically endangered group of species on the planet. There are 27 species within the Acipenseridae family, and of these 17 are listed as critically endangered and four as possibly extinct. And the primary […]