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CEO note
Flight over Tanzania’s Lake Manyara National Park with its meandering rivers and animal tracks. 2021 Photographer of the Year entrant © Gabriela Staebler

CEO NOTE: 07 May 2021

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My heartful thanks to Minister Creecy for issuing a firm commitment to rid this wonderful country of the SCOURGE of the captive lion breeding industry (our second story below refers). The insidious tentacles of this rotten crime against lions permeate deep into our wildlife industry, and this will be no easy process – but at least she has now got the ball rolling.

THAT SAID, I have the following observations:
1. Expect the evil ones to find LOOPHOLES that will allow them to continue after cosmetic changes;
2. Others will simply operate illegally and increase the MAFIA-style methods to avoid jail time (rhino horn and lion bone combo?);
3. Some will MOVE their operations to other countries;
4. The existing caged lion populations in South Africa will likely be DESTROYED – although the most likely process will be agonising deaths as they are abandoned by an industry that operates on zero compassion. Or maybe many will be moved to accredited sanctuaries – time for the animal rights movement to DIG DEEP to fund this lengthy process?;
5. This government strategy of cleaning up this obviously rancid aspect of the wildlife industry is most likely building blocks for plans to expand the HUNTING industry as a contributor to a sustainable conservation future. This quote from the report refers: “‘The development of a national approach for increasing the opportunity, quantity and quality of hunting the five iconic species in wild areas of South Africa…”. Watch that space.

Lastly, a SHOUT-OUT from team AG to Craig Foster and the crew of ‘My Octopus Teacher’ for winning the Oscar!

Keep the passion

CEO note


Simon Espley – CEO, Africa Geographic

From our Editor-in-Chief

‘…the vuvuzela has been used to mitigate lion conflict…’ When I read that for the first time, the coffee I was drinking emerged from my nose. I imagined the King of Beasts’ horrified, incredulous visage as an enraged rural villager charged, blasting on the world’s most tuneless instrument. On the Chobe River, the human-lion conflict continues. However, there is hope, and, as our first story below explains, some good people are coming up with innovative solutions (including plastic trumpets) to help humans and lions live in peace.

This week is a lot about lions – which is good, after all, we need more lions. Believe it or not, Panthera leo used to be the most widely distributed mammal on the planet. In our second story below, the South African government has taken the first steps to ending the national disgrace that is captive lion breeding. Once you’ve read the AG story, perhaps peruse the full report (600 pages). If your life is too short to wade through the whole thing, I can recommend the goals and recommendations that start on page 278.

And that’s a neat segue into our third story below – a remarkable, horrifying and, if you’re a South African, embarrassing expose of the lion bone trade. The story and accompanying trailer will show you, sometimes in ghastly detail, just how imperative it is that our government does something to end captive lion farming and the bone trade. Kudos to the brave filmmakers for the risks they took to expose the cruelty in South Africa and the markets in Southeast Asia.

After all that heaviness, it’s time to take a deep sigh, relax with a tipple and peruse this week’s selection for our Photographer of the Year. It’s a beautiful tribute to our magnificent continent. Not much time left to enter if you’d like a chance to win 10 000USD and a glorious safari to Botswana.

For your second Friday aperitif, our video of the week showcases the Kalahari Desert in the rainy season – a thousand shades of incongruous green with gobsmacking wildlife to match.



Story 1
Lions in the Chobe River area face an uncertain future – pressured by human farmers to the north and a lack of new blood from the south

Story 2
SA government announces their intention to bring an end to the commercial captive lion industry in South Africa

Story 3
An upcoming documentary uncovers how industrial-scale lion farming in South Africa has fueled the passing off of lion bones as tiger bones in Asia

Story 4
Week seventeen of our 2021 Photographer of the Year – May is the last month for entries!


DID YOU KNOW: In 1822, German ornithologists used the finding of a 76cm spear protruding from a white stork’s neck to deduce that certain birds’ absence during winter meant they were migrating to Africa. Some theories of the time held that disappearing birds turned into other kinds of avians, mice, or hibernated underwater during the winter. These storks were given the term “Pfeilstorch” (“arrow stork”)

WATCH: An utterly stunning view of the Kalahari and its wild residents in the wet season (18:45)



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I am a proud African and honoured to be CEO of Africa Geographic. My travels in Africa are in search of wilderness, elusive birds and real people with interesting stories. I live in Hoedspruit, next to the Kruger National Park, with my wife Lizz and 2 Jack Russells. When not travelling or working I am usually on my mountain bike somewhere out there. I qualified as a chartered accountant but found my calling sharing Africa's incredibleness with you. My motto is "Live for now, have fun, be good, tread lightly and respect others. And embrace change". Connect with me on LinkedIn

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