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Everything posted by Towlersonsafari

  1. Hello @douglaswise i am reading a book called "Shaping Kruger" by a Mitch Reardon that covers, amongst other things, the provision of artificial waterholes in the Kruger at a time of prolonged drought, and the unintended consequences that this produced, leading to a reversal of the policy. It is as you say a very complex issue and indeed a fascinating one.You will know I am sure of the disastrous effects on Sable and Roan antelope the artificial waterholes produced in the Kruger causing not only an increase in Zebra and Wildebeest numbers in areas that could not support both them and the rarer antelope, but bringing with it more lions who thus had a bigger effect on decreasing numbers of roan and Sable and Eland It also documents various culling attempts down the years, how successful-or usually unsuccessful they were, the biggest thing I have taken is just how complicated and, in the long term resilient environments can be
  2. Splendid report @monalisa with some wonderful sightings! Can I ask how the tent and food etc was at Flatdogs? It does look very good value!
  3. lovely lovely lovely @Alexander33 Jane had a slightly similar experience ( but without the fear!) when a youngster appeared from nowhere and grabbed her coat.she was backed up by the bamboo and had to sit down in it to try to avoid the gorilla and its mum who had come to investigate. Looking forward to read about your further adventures as we also went to the Nyungwe forest and stayed at some very entertaining accommodation but another wonderful place
  4. Hurrah! we saw Charles in 2005 so it is good to know he is still going strong! @Alexander33
  5. Thanks for the great report! And a palm nut vulture I would love to see one.What a varied and beautiful trip @AfricIan
  6. What wonderful photos and words @Alexander33 really enjoying your report and not just because it brings back such happy memories. The sheer joy of realising you are there sharing space with these wonderful beings has to be one of the greatest feelings in the world!
  7. Dear @optig whilst I largely share your sentiments, and read the article with interest, I don't think you can make the comment you did about an individual, not named in the article and with no evidence to suggest a may want to re-visit that and edit it to avoid any unsupported conjecture. It does seem bizarre that one can hold an auction, advertising it in china and Vietnam, that is supposed to be only for domestic customers mind you.One can certainly comment on that. and I still would love to see evidence that a legal trade in rare wildlife helps the wild population. I suspect the entertaining practice of farming Bile from Sun bears does not help the wild population, nor Tiger farming in china etc etc
  8. What a fascinating report so far @AfricIan a beautiful country
  9. Splendid trip report @lmSA84 and you are so right South Africa is a wonderful place to visit.We have used a guide from the Birding route program near Polkwane and can greatly recommend the scheme
  10. thank you for your moving introduction @Alexander33 and forgive my geography but hope you are not affected by the floods! greatly enjoying your report
  11. Wow! @Treepol what a destination- and i love the idea of feeding eels! this will be a trip report that most of us will never get to experience! one of the joys of Safaritalk!
  12. I was going to say @monalisa and @ForWildlife that looked like Pels Fishing owl! Folk try for a lifetime to see one! We have wondered about Flatdogs so looking forward to your report.lovely video of the genet
  13. I did vote @Tdgraves those male lions........ Just kidding
  14. so really @Tdgraves its your shot! Good Luck!
  15. Splendid report @deano brought back some lovely memories the lower Zambezi is a beautiful place
  16. Hello again @ice the link to the Danish language site is here but again it may be that they need the income from hunting to keep the place viable, and without it a less helpful to aardvark land use would be put in its place.I imagine any game farm, with the buying and selling of stock, may be part of a chain that includes sport hunting and any hunting on Marrick that goes on is not going to impact on the photo tourism side of things. When trying to find an alternative I came across a karoo location that openly said because it was a small reserve, they had an excess of stock that they allowed to be hunted as a way of keeping the balance and another that did not allow hunting on its land, but did host hunting parties as an accommodation base in the quieter winter months as they just could not survive without doing so.It does get very tricky!
  17. Hello @ice i was not going to mention it, but we were also looking to visit Marrick as part of a trip next year.It sounds wonderful, all the reports describe what friendly folk and committed conservationists the people who run Marrick are, and to be clear, I am very sure that is true. At least one big UK based nature tour operator visits them as part of a rare mammal trip. The chance to see Aardvark and black footed Cat is a very enticing prospect and I hope they continue to thrive. What decided us against visiting them, a purely personal decision, was that a very kind Safaritalk member emailed me to gently mention that they also carried out a certain amount of antelope hunting on site. Now as i understand it hunting in South Africa is a winter occupation.They may well need it to ensure the financial success of the game farm, and one can easily make a strong case for going to continue to show that photo tourists may be the way to go-just imagine one might even be able to see Aardvarks in winter in daylight. Other folk will not care, and that is fine.Hunting in South Africa is to many folk a way of life but for us though it seemed hypocritical to go, as our stand point is to start from an anti-sport hunting viewpoint. I was not going to mention it because i didn't want to start yet another fruitless hunting debate , especially under the Marrick name.I hope tourists continue to go there and the place thrives.One fnal point,strangely the only way we found out ourselves was searching the web and finding a Danish language website (according to Google translate)! I did spend hours agonizing over the decision and .I understand hunting and tourism is kept apart on different areas of the farm .
  18. You must have been very unlucky @Jochen if all of the self-drivers you encountered failed to turn their engines off or were aware of the animals needs! We enjoy both being guided and self-driving and must admit have rarely encountered bad behaviour anywhere-save the Masai Mara where 15 guided vehicles surrounded a leopard in a tree! On Our Feb trip to the Kruger we perhaps saw 2 instances of slightly selfish behavour-both not giving an elephant enough room to pass on the road, but that caused the elephant to move off road and denied the driver a sighting. The OSV's did seem to "hunt" in a pack but several stopped us to report sightings and we would do the same for them-as indeed did the fact several self-drivers seemed to go out of their way to give us a better view. We adopt the same tactic-hardly rocket science- as we do in the KTP-if we see a car stopped, we slow down, approach very slowly so as not to spoil a sighting, get excited in case it is something very wonderful, and try to spot what it is so as not to block a view.We will wait a few minutes to see whats what.We then found people making room or pointing-it is very pleasing to show someone else your "spot"-"look at our lions" for example!
  19. enjoying the report @deano we stayed at that chalet a few years ago and loved watching the ellies and buffalo in the lagoon, and the leopard sightings were spectacular the landscape is just beautiful
  20. Hello there @ElaineAust a splendid camp in spite of the bees! and a faint concern about using the loo at night! - imagine the embarrassment of being eaten by a hyena whilst sitting on the loo! really loved the walking there and our only ever Wild dog hunt!
  21. Hello @MeezersUK I think your eagle is a juvenile Batleur which are brown just be confusing with a dark eye and short tail
  22. It's probably no help whatsoever @TonyQ and @Galana but sparrowhawk trailing wings seem to have an S shape which is how I recognize them along with the long tail and when not soaring or hunting the flap flap glide style of flying they seem to adopt.the picture which looks like one I could easily have taken looks like a sparrowhawk to me!
  23. Thanks @ld1 i haven't read the book yet-I fear it will just make me angry!
  24. The Case against Driven Grouse Shooting Ladies and Gentleman of the Jury, I would like today to convince you of the inequity, the evil no less of the peculiar British Pastime of Driven Grouse Shooting, especially as currently practiced on ,what can only be described as , an industrial scale. Here the aim is to kill as many Red Grouse ( a subspecies of the Willow Grouse) as possible with the sportsman hiding in butts or blinds , shotguns at the ready,whilst the grouse are driven by beaters towards them. Guests paying for a day’s shooting can pay, collectively, up to £30,000 for a day’s adventure killing about a million birds in the UK every year. Today there are over one million hectares of land devoted to grouse moors in Scotland,(Scottish Land and Estates 2013). I hope to convince you that the collateral damage caused to Birds of prey, to ground predators , Mountain Hares and to the environment as a whole, including damaging valuable carbon storage and increasing flooding, is in a modern enlightened society something that can no longer be accepted. I hope to persuade you that at worst grouse moors should be vigorously licenced, at best they should now be confined to history along with bear baiting ,cock fighting and the Feudal system. To help those who do not reside in the Uk, Grouse shooting and sporting estates in the form we can recognise now, grew up in Victorian times where wealthy landowners in Scotland and the North of England invited guests to shoot grouse or deer. From the start large scale burning of heather to encourage new growth and drastic predator control was practiced. For example on the 6500 acre Glengarry Estate from 1837-1840 kills were recorded of 246 pine marten,198 wildcat 48 otter 27 White Tailed Eagle and 15 Golden Eagle. The killing alas, even though it is illegal continues. From the historical Victorian model an increasing practice has developed to lease out moors or sell them to shooting consortium's, or to have specialist firms run the estates for maximum profit. It is to describe these businesses that I use the justified term “industrial” To make a grouse moor pay, and to allow large numbers to be shot, you have to have large numbers of Grouse. It is illegal to kill Birds of Prey in the UK, for any reason, and it is illegal to disturb their nests.Yet every year such birds, from common buzzards and Red kites, to Golden and White Tailed Eagles are illegally killed on or near grouse moors according to the RSPB, 11–15% of the hen harrier population on the Scottish mainland are destroyed each year. In Scotland, the illegal use of poison during 1981–2000 was disproportionately associated with grouse moors. In the central and eastern Highlands of Scotland, where grouse moor management predominates, the golden eagle population has continued to decline to levels where increasingly large areas of suitable habitat are unoccupied by breeding pairs. In the absence of persecution it is likely that the population could expand to fill this increasingly vacant but apparently suitable habitat and would have a secure long-term future. In the Yorkshire Dales, average productivity for peregrine nesting attempts on grouse moors was only 0.68, compared to 2.07 for nests at least 2 km away from grouse moors.5 T The list goes on, Ladies and Gentleman. In 2014 around 20 buzzards and Kites ere found poisoned in the Black Isle area of Scotland. In one incident. In February this year a man was seen on a moor in a National Park, the Peak District dressed in camouflage gear with a shotgun lying in wait near a decoy male Hen Harrier, a distinctive pale bird of great beauty. When he realized he was being filmed he left.. There can only be one reason for this , to try to attract male hen Harriers to kill them. Here is the link You will no doubt make your own mind up, members of the jury, after seeing the film yourself. In England last year 5 male Harriers breeding on protected land mysteriously disappeared. England ,a country that should have over 300 birds breeding has less than 10.It is their misfortune that they chose to breed and hunt over moorland. But what of Mountain Hares? In spite of all the efforts to the contrary Red Grouse numbers on intensive Grouse moors have always fluctuated. One of the main problems that may affect large congregations of Grouse may be Tick disease. Inspite of the fact that there is no evidence to support the contention that Mountain Hares in numbers add to the Grouse getting Tick disease and in spite of the fact that Scottish National Heritage asks for voluntary restraint, or that mountain Hare numbers are decreasing, in winter large numbers of hares are chased and shot by 4 wheel drive mounted “ sportsmen” Anyone wanting to see what a truck load of dead mountain hare looks like can see here. It does not look pretty Ground predators including wild cats can still be caught in traps set on grouse moors. Now I would like to turn to the environment in general. By keeping a flock of sheep on such moors, to act as “Tick mops” the grouse moor owners qualify for agricultural subsidies, so we can pay them for the privilege. Another benefit of being classified as agricultural land means that the planning laws are less controlling so those magnificent wide open vistas can and are despoiled by temporary 4 x 4 tracks scaring the heather, new grouse butts, and even electric fencing Electric fencing can kill large endangered birds such as Capercaille, and concentrate Red deer so that they cause more damage in other areas. You will have to decide members of the jury, if you find fences in a “wilderness” visually acceptable. Another condition affecting Grouse is a parasitic worm. One of the methods now used to combat this is to coat the grit Grouse eat with the medication derived from Flubendazole. It is often placed on grit in the environment. Nobody knows what happens if it gets into the food chain, or if there is an environmental impact in the medium or long term. Finally, members of the jury indiscriminate burning leads to reduction in sphagnum moss and damage to the peat layer. The water run off is quicker and the ability to hold water is reduced. A five year study by the University of Leeds found (The EMBER study) found burning impacting adversely on peat quality and composition, and on water quality. In June 2015 the UK statutory advisory Committee on Climate Change said, “Wetland habitats, including the majority of upland areas with carbon-rich peat soils, are in poor condition. The damaging practice of burning peat to increase grouse yields continues, including on internationally protected sites.” (Committee on Climate Change 2015 Ladies and Gentleman of the Jury, I ask you now to consider your verdict.You may think that allowing Driven Grouse Shooting to continue in its current form is on a par with Maltese hunters shooting spring migrants, or indeed Elephant poaching. I invite you to condemn it
  25. I don't know if this is of any interest, but Jane, my rather wonderful wife, got me a day out as a "Falconer" at the Gauntlet Birds of Prey Centre near Knutsford as a Christmas prezzy and last Sunday a friend of mine ,Parky, and I went to see just how big a White Tailed Eagle looked rather close up.Falconry is of course a Field Sport, as we politly say in England but there is no doubt that without falconry techniques a lot of re-introduction schemes for raptors would not of got off the ground, and some species-such as the Mauritius Falcon, would not be hear now. Jane had arranged for the Eagle experience which was a day out etting close to various birds building up to holding a flying several Eagles. I say pretending to be a falconer.Off course falconry is a time consuming labour of love, bonding with a bird, finding out its personality and its ideal flying weight.We would be learning to hold the birds on the glove and flying some of them.It was all very exciting!

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