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Solved! + Tanzania’s safari circuits explained + discovering riverine rabbits
I have just returned from the remote Liuwa Plain National Park in western Zambia, where African Parks is recreating a wildlife paradise of note from what was a poached-out wasteland. The difference compared to my first visit to Liuwa eight years ago is immense. Mark my words when I say that Liuwa is developing into a safari destination of note – including migrating wildebeest and zebra herds with attendant big cats, hyenas and wild dogs – a bit like the Mara/Serengeti ecosystem, but smaller. Like all other protected areas managed by African Parks, there are low levels of poaching in Liuwa. And there are local communities living within this large unfenced national park. Wait, what? Yes, you read right.
My temporary euphoria about this Liuwa experience came crashing back to earth when I compared it to the sliding fortunes of so many other national parks and provincial reserves in Africa – including the South African icon bordering my home town – Kruger National Park. Rampant poaching, fraud, corruption, and collapsing infrastructure are the order of the day. Sure, the privately managed reserves bordering national parks are well-run – but they depend on the larger national parks for greater ecosystem viability. Of course this mirrors what happens to most things that governments the world over touch. Governments cannot manage their way out of a brown paper bag. They are staffed by cronies of the ruling elite and simply do not possess the will, human capital or processes to manage anything sustainably.
It’s time to outsource the management of our national parks and provincial reserves – to entities staffed by qualified experts whose sole focus is to further the causes of wildlife and ecosystem conservation and related local community welfare. Huge credit must go to the few African governments that have already seen the light and taken this giant leap forward. Drops the mic, shuffles off shaking his head and mumbling to himself …
Keep the passion
Simon Espley – CEO, Africa Geographic
From our Editor – Taryn van Jaarsveld
My infant son has become obsessed with staring into the mirror. His fascination with the little person staring back has brought much comedy to our household. It will be a few months before he recognises the reflection as himself. But where does he fare in this regard, compared to other self-aware creatures of the animal kingdom?
As it turns out, he is a few steps behind A LOT of animals. Did you know that chimpanzees, dolphins, magpies, manta rays, ants, and one lone elephant at the Bronx Zoo can all recognise themselves in reflective surfaces? In each case, the “mirror test” involved marking the animals in question with a colour (usually on the face or head), and monitoring them to note if seeing their reflections led them to examine the marks on their own bodies.
On the other hand, some of the most intelligent non-human animals, including African grey parrots and gorillas, have failed the mirror test. Food for thought for the next time you find yourself watching wildlife at a very still pool while on safari.
For more fascinating insight into the wild world out there, check out our stories below. You’ll find a simple guide to understanding the complexities of Tanzania’s safari circuits, and a glimpse into the world of riverine rabbits.
TANZANIA’S SAFARI CIRCUITS
Tanzania is a bucket-list destination for safari enthusiasts & wildlife lovers. Here’s the lowdown on its four unique safari circuits
Discovering riverine rabbit populations & gathering info about this elusive species has been a challenge. Here’s why
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Collar a Lion
You can help save free-roaming lions by taking part in our ‘Collar a lion’ campaign. Lions are an essential part of Africa’s ecosystems, its tourism industry, and its livelihood. But they are under threat from human-wildlife conflict.
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You can help to save these wild lions by sponsoring a lion collar, or making a donation.
Read more about this opportunity to make your mark in lion conservation.
WATCH: Our safari experts view December as the month to seek out lush green landscapes, festive-season Cape Town and white sand beaches. Here’s all the inspiration you’ll need for booking your December safari (1:30). Click here to watch
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