CEO NOTE: 18 June 2021
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We have an epic newsletter for you this week – so please budget for EXTRA TIME because each of the five stories below is an excellent read.
After our Botswana rhino poaching story of last week, my inbox has been flooded with further information and helpful input – thanks to all. Several people mentioned how many of Africa’s protected areas are under threat from organised crime – poaching or shady elements in extractive foresty, mining and trophy hunting. Many lamented our governments’ INABILITY to deliver on their biodiversity protection mandates. Several of our stories below bear testament to these concerns. We live in challenging times indeed.
BUT we will eventually prevail in our drive to keep Africa’s ecosystems and biodiversity safe from the evil ones. Lots has to change. Be the change.
Keep the passion
Simon Espley – CEO, Africa Geographic
From our Editor-in-Chief
The world’s most famous lion died last week. Scarface, famed king of the Maasai Mara, breathed his last while resting comfortably in the waving red oat grass. He wasn’t shredded by hyenas or mauled by young pretenders. This is not a death that many wild animals can look forward to. To some, Scarface was a controversial figure. He was given the benefit of at least ten veterinary interventions that probably extended his ‘natural life’. Far more than that, however, he was an ambassador for his species and for wilderness in general. Who knows how many tourist dollars came to the Mara, contributing to the preservation of wild places because of this grizzled legend of the plains. His image, which hangs in homes all over the world, will continue to inspire nature travel and a passion for Panthera leo.
When I started guiding in the dim mists of prehistory, we were given strict instructions never to give wild animals names. ‘They are not pets and we don’t want guests to think our cats are tame.’ As a wet behind the ears biologist, I thought this was excellent. Most guides heartily agreed, despite some rather obvious contradictions. We’d refer to the Clara Dam female as ‘Clara’ or the Pink-nose Mxabene Young Male as ‘Pinky’.
Cecil and Scarface changed my mind. Their fame built awareness for the plight of their species and the wilderness in general. In our first two stories below, we consider the nameless thousands of lions living in captivity in South Africa. What will happen to them in the wake of our government’s proposed ban on the national disgrace that is captive lion breeding and trade?
Our third story below is also quite heavy going and frustrating. Kasanka National Park in Zambia, home to the world’s largest mammal migration, is under threat from commercial agriculture. Allegations of skulduggery abound.
Our fourth story below is an encouraging tale of nature’s resilience in the face of human idiocy. Wars have ravaged South Sudan for the best part of four decades now, yet one of nature’s greatest mammal migrations appears to be almost intact.
Finally, we bring you the finalists in this year’s Photographer of the Year. It’s been such a privilege to enjoy the contributions each week. Our choices are inevitably born of human biases and subjectivity and we make them in humility, full in the knowledge that not all will agree. A huge vote of thanks to all who had the courage to enter – we hope that you will do so again next year.
The zoonotic diseases that lions carry and why lion farming is potentially harmful to human beings – new research
What happens to the thousands of caged lions now that captive lion breeding is to be banned in South Africa?
Under immediate threat: Zambia’s Kasanka NP and world’s largest mammal migration. You can help – see the call to action at the end of the article.
The massive white-eared kob and tiang migration in South Sudan continues, despite decades-long civil wars – Space For Giants
These epic images are the finalists for our 2021 Photographer of the Year – in line to win US$10,000 + a Botswana safari. And your winner would be?
DID YOU KNOW: Many wasps around the world lay their eggs on a host spider so that their larvae can feed on fresh, paralysed spider. Fifteen species in the Amazon have taken things a step further – they somehow manipulate the spiders into spinning a safe web for the parasitic wasp larvae to pupate in
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