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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 […]

Ivory traders get tusked

Ring one up for the elephants! The most recent CITES meeting in Doha, Qatar has drawn to a close and amongst the numerous resolutions, there was a significant victory for elephants and those opposed to the ivory trade. The proposals from Tanzania and Zambia to downgrade the conservation status of their elephant populations and to […]

Reunited At Last

We have very exciting news to share this week! Last Saturday, on the 20th of March, Sudan finally got his chance to go out and rejoin Najin and Fatu in their current 400 by 400 meter enclosure. As reported last week, the three animals had been given as much contact as possible through the fences. […]

Gentle Introductions at the Bomas

  Warming Up for the Re-Introductions Fatu and Najin, our two female northern white rhinos, have been getting extra contact with Sudan this week in an effort to slowly re-introduce the animals in preparation for the April release into the big enclosure. he first day went extremely well. Fatu and Najin were out in the […]

A Busy Week at the Bomas

Progress with the Fence Fence completion for the larger enclosure is set for the end of this month. It looks like we have a long way to go but the posts are going in. Stringing the wires will only take a few days. One major hurdle will be removing all large wildlife from this area. […]

Just another rainy and muddy week on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy!

The construction of the fence – for the rhinos’ new 701.5 acre enclosure – is ongoing. Our team is working as hard as they can to stay on schedule for the release of the rhinos the first week of April. Our four rhinos – Sudan, Suni, Najin and Fatu – have become much more relaxed […]

A New Release Date, Adapting to the Wild and More Mud Baths!

Important Notice ~ The release date of Najin, Fatu, Sudan &amp, Suni has been postponed from March 25th until the first week of April 2010. We will keep you posted on the new date as soon as we have additional information. Rhino Update Since last week’s update, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy has seen more rain […]

Release Date Set, Boy’s Time Out and More Rain

Release Date Set We are now in a position to confirm dates for the next phase of this project. In this next phase, Najin and Fatu will be reunited with Sudan and will have their first steps into what will become our breeding area and their home. We are working to a release date of […]

Unexpected Rains and Time Outside the Bomas for All

We have suffered an abnormally hot week on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, which was thankfully broken by three days of unexpected rain. Rain is not usual this time of year in Kenya, and we would not expect rainfall until the beginning of April. But it could not have come at a better time. There was […]

An Update on the Northern White Rhinos – Big Step for the Girls

On Wednesday, February 3rd, the two female northern white rhinos – Najin and Fatu – took their first step into the 400 x 400 meter fenced enclosure on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. This really was their “first taste of Africa!” Until today, they were kept within the confines of their holding pen, with limited daily […]

Jackals, humans and the bigger picture

The black-backed jackal is an animal that is heavily persecuted by farmers in many places in southern Africa. The jackal is an interesting and intriguing animal in its own right. Jackals exhibit a range of interesting behavior and social characteristics. They are monogamous. Mated jackal pairs sometimes have offspring from previous years acting as helpers […]

When Hunting Stops

The wildlife management areas of northern Botswana are divided into parcels of land known as ‘concessions’. These are often located close to or bordering game reserves and national parks and, years ago, most of these concessions were utilised for the purpose of controlled hunting. In the early days, there were more people visiting Botswana to […]

Children in the Wilderness

My inspiration for this week’s submission comes from Kings Pool camp, from where I have just returned. Every year, usually in the summer season, Wilderness Safaris in Botswana close off two of their camps to regular guest activities. Instead, we bring in local children from the areas surrounding the wildlife reserves that we operate in. […]