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Wild Meru + Pongola’s elephant crisis + Maasai Mara photo safari
There is much debate about the impact of Kruger’s increasing elephant population on trees – especially knobthorn and marula. Often the discussions degenerate to hardliners calling for elephants to be culled in large numbers to protect trees.
Did you know that impalas destroy countless tree saplings? And that there is a growing body of evidence relating to a complex relationship between elephants, fire and climate change regarding treefall rates and bush encroachment?
Decision-makers have realised that the provision of artificial dams and waterholes is a significant reason for the ‘elephant problem’. You see, elephants remain near these water sources during the dry months and denude the nearby trees – instead of roaming far and wide as they would usually do. The removal of these manmade water sources is ongoing in the Kruger National Park. However, this same strategy is not being pursued in the contiguous private game reserves (the Greater Kruger) – probably because the negative impact on the tourism experience would be significant. I have seen some dams in the private reserves being renovated and, in the process, made larger. Hmmmmm …
Keep the passion
Simon Espley – CEO, Africa Geographic
From our Editor – Taryn van Jaarsveld
Think of the quintessential African safari and your mind will surely conjure images of the baobab-dotted savannahs of Kenya. You’ll picture wildebeest herds spread across the Maasai Mara, and elephants trundling the plains below Mt Kilimanjaro. But there is a resilient protected area in the country that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Meru National Park is a vital wilderness area in Kenya. As home to arguably one of the most famous lions in history – Elsa of Born Free fame – Meru captures the nostalgia of the true African safari. Check out our first story below for all the insights you need to visit this magnificent piece of the continent.
This week we’re also delving into a complex wildlife management issue. Pongola Game Reserve (PGR) in northern KwaZulu-Natal recently announced it would no longer be keeping elephants on its property. We have given PGR General Manager Malcolm Thomson the platform to explain the reserve’s decision. Faced with rapidly growing elephant populations and many restrictions on the management of these numbers, Malcolm explains it is no longer practical, viable or economically sustainable for PGR to host elephants. This is an important story in highlighting the management challenges elephants pose for landowners. Read about these challenges below.
Happy celebrating Africa to you all!
From our Scientific Editor – Jamie Paterson
Did you know that in a secret valley in the Maasai Mara (the Mara Triangle, to be exact), there is a forsaken Volkswagen bus? It has been there for over thirty years, abandoned after a breakdown and reclaimed by nature to be used as a jackal den. Hidden within is a geocache (for those not in the know, geocaching is a global, GPS-based treasure hunt).
Have you ever seen the Mara Triangle VW? What are some of the best-kept historical secrets of Africa’s wild spaces? Download our app and share your comments below!
Meru National Park is a resilient expanse of vital Kenyan wilderness. This Big 5 safari destination of ‘Born Free’ fame is a land reborn
Pongola Game Reserve can no longer keep its elephants. Malcolm Thomson explains the challenges of elephant management
TRAVEL DESK UPDATES:
Our most spectacular photographer-guided safari is back! New 2023 dates and prices are available for this cracker of an adventure in the Maasai Mara.
Desert & delta safari – 11 days traversing the Okavango Delta, Chobe and Nxai Pan national parks (Botswana) and Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe). Mid-range and luxury itineraries available.
OR, design your own safari – login to our app, tap/click the ‘Travel with us’ tab, select ‘lodges’. You can filter the lodges by place and even select lodges in non-malaria areas. You can add lodges to your wishlist – which will remain saved until you choose to edit or delete.
Make an impact with AG
The AG tribe has done it again! By donating to our hand-picked conservation projects via the app, you’ve made a huge difference to Africa’s wildlife. Moses Selebatso, from Kalahari Research and Conservation, writes:
“We are sincerely thankful for the donation received from Africa Geographic app subscribers. With the donation, we’ve been able to continue our annual commitment to improving the breeding success of the endangered Cape vultures in Botswana. In 2018, research findings showed that bone deformities in Cape vulture chicks were preventing chicks from flying, and in some cases causing fatalities. This inspired a new project – providing bone fragments to supplement the vultures’ diet to improve eggshell structure as well as strong bone development. The donations received from AG subscribers helped us provide this much-needed supplementation.”
Photo: Cape vultures feeding on bone fragments, photographed by KRC’s camera traps (left), and a Cape vulture pictured in flight (right).
WATCH: The warthogs and mongooses of Mweya, Uganda, have developed a very interesting symbiotic relationship. Watch to see a warthog take a trip to the mongoose spa (01:53). Click here to watch
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