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Cheetah first + self-medicating chimps + gorilla trekking
It’s time to take the management of national parks and reserves away from government and hand over to experts in the private sector. And I mean on a worldwide basis. Time and again, we see ‘protected areas’ neglected to the point that they are poached to a state of barren wasteland or government-sanctioned rape by extraction industries such as mining and logging. How often have we been told that there is no money for conservation or that other priorities are more important? Government ministers are usually political appointments – with precious little understanding of conservation, let alone the deep passion that is so necessary. Imagine if your retirement fund was run by a labour union steward or open-heart surgery performed by bookkeepers. It’s simply ludicrous that government-appointed stooges head up our precious protected areas with little to no experience or passion. And then there is the fraud and corruption that is now endemic amongst some of our ‘leaders’. That said, I need to make a loud shout-out to the rangers and others at ground level who keep the wheels turning, despite such huge odds.
Some African countries have seen the light and handed over protected area management duties to stellar organisations like African Parks. And the results speak for themselves. Well done to these far-sighted leaders. So let’s see more of that!
Keep the passion
Simon Espley – CEO, Africa Geographic
From our Editor – Taryn van Jaarsveld
A few months ago, researchers in the Kgalagadi were observing the cheetah they dubbed ‘Lizzie’ and her subadult cub Lokesh, wandering over the dunes. Behind Lokesh, small blurry bundles came into view. With the appearance of these four new cubs, our understanding of cheetah behaviour would change forever. Read our first story below to find out what is so fascinating about this occurrence, which is providing invaluable insight into our understanding of these precious cats. I can only imagine the childlike awe Lizzie’s observers experienced on this discovery – a reminder that despite the bad news, losses, and often thankless struggles faced by conservationists, there is still hope and new wonder to be uncovered.
So too are we discovering new behaviour in primates. Scientists have observed self-medicating behaviour in chimps. Read more about these and other innovative examples of animals self-medicating in our second story.
Happy celebrating Africa to you all!
From our Scientific Editor – Jamie Paterson
With limited exceptions, we know very little about the lives of individual wild animals. No matter how extraordinary, a sighting offers but a snapshot in time. So is it any wonder these wild creatures, like the cheetah of our first story, continue to surprise?
I suspect that we are destined to learn a great deal more about the complex sociality of seemingly solitary cats. Indeed, the past few years have seen the experts frantically rewriting the books on cougar social behaviours. And did you know that wild leopard and cheetah mothers may adopt another’s cubs? Take Naserian, for instance – a cheetah I spent a few months following in the Maasai Mara. She adopted her nephew and raised him alongside her young son for several months.
Isn’t the wild’s endless capacity for the unexpected simply marvellous?
A cheetah mother has been observed simultaneously raising two cheetah cubs of different age classes – never witnessed in the wild
Scientists have observed chimpanzees medicating the injuries of their peers – a behaviour never seen in the animal kingdom
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WATCH: Here’s what happens after an elephant dies. As this film crew witnessed, elephant carcasses briefly become busy ecosystems of their own. (Viewer discretion advised.) (06:47). Click here to watch
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