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About douglaswise

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  1. @Tom Kellie: I think that the article to which you link provides an extremely important collection and analysis of data. These represent a very serious indictment of Kenya's conservation policy. I suggest that supporters of protectionist policies ought to read this paper and either point out why the authors' conclusions are wrong or, alternatively, abandon their ideas and, instead, support a sustainable use policy.
  2. @Tom Kellie, It seems you have cited a perfect example of interesting academic research that affords little of use to wildlife managers. The results, dressed in fancy language, were entirely in line with those that could have been predicted by any competent nutritionist without ever having done the field work (based on basic theory). Mpala provides a base for visiting researchers. Perhaps the exercise was planned to give a research student practice or a more senior researcher a cheap holiday.
  3. @offshorebirder: I think you have made very good, relevant and valid points.
  4. @Towlersonsafari: The answer to your question is no. That is why I wrote "may represent" and not "does represent". In a previous debate, I acknowledged that orphanages may produce funding over and above that needed to run them and generate profit for owners thereof. However, I suspect that this extra funding is likely to go to to animal protectionist- rather than to conservation-based causes. I accept that, in areas where there is a serious poaching problem, the causes may overlap.
  5. @Tom Kellie: You raise an intriguing academic question. However, the previous point I was attempting to make was that a search for its answer would require financial investment, but is unlikely to have practical management implications. This seems to apply to a lot of ongoing wildlife research in Africa and may represent competition for funding which could better be used to provide protection for threatened habitats which are currently woefully short of funding. By the same token, I would suggest that elephant orphanages are also an unnecessary distraction from conservation as I understand it.
  6. @Lyss: I'm interested in your comments on leopard research, noting that you class yourself as a wildlife photographer, artist and researcher. I was wondering, therefore, what sort of research you'd like to see undertaken that would assist management better to conserve the species of interest. Single species research appears mainly to involve collaring, tracking and monitoring, but I'm not sure that this is very useful. I suppose that you may be concerned about lack of prey species (unlkely in the Mara), deaths by predators higher up the guild (lions and man) or by disease (which may be impractical to control). I was wondering where your priorities would lie.
  7. @Lyss: I wish you were right. However, we live in the Anthropocene era and the concept of nature unaffected by humans certainly doesn't exist today and probably hasn't for centuries. All the proximate threats to wildlife are currently anthropogenic and it has become incumbent upon man to manage rather than preserve wildlife range (think range compression and climate change, quite apart from other more obvious threats).
  8. @jeremie: I agree with @Tom Kellie that your link to the Lindsey et al paper is very useful. Having just spent an hour or so reading it, I feel that the survey undertaken was a useful way of ranking the obvious threats to both lions and their prey. I was a little disappointed that the authors didn't include elephants because there are excellent grounds for believing that surplus populations in some parts of Africa are having negative impacts on habitats, predators and prey. The main lessons that I drew (probably without time for adequate reflection) were that most protected areas suffered from considerable lack of funding and were under increasing threat from human population increase. However, complete or partial fencing and absolute exclusion of human settlement within protected areas would allow positive outcomes even with high human densities in contiguous areas. While it is reasonable to call for more international aid, funding could be increased internally by adopting sustainable use (both consumptive and non-consumptive) policies The creation of conservancies adjacent to formally protected areas has the potential to create more usable wildlife range. However, the downside is that such areas might compete for already inadequate funding.
  9. @Tom Kellie: Your cited artcles on forest elephants were very informative. A population doubling time of 41 years (in the absence of any poaching) is very worrying and three times longer than that of savanna elephant populations. It is a pity that the title you used to start this thread caused @Cosmic Rhino to grab the wrong end of the stick.
  10. @@COSMIC RHINO: I would like to correct several of your typically strident claims: The illegal ivory trade is, indeed, a remarkable destroyer of elephants. There is no unequivocal evidence that attempts to have a regulated trade have created nothing but disaster - not that it was sensible to try one-off sales. Your third point may be valid, but there are potential ways of overcoming the corruption issue. Your final point may well be correct. In fact, it is. It is your implication that is incorrect. Though elephants are known to cross boundaries, combined population numbers in north western Matabeleland and northern Botswana are regarded by most ecologists to be excessive. It is true that the separate population of elephants in the Sebungwe region of Zimbabwe is declining very fast in consequence of what many consider to be a state sponsored poaching campaign. There is also growing evidence that, in consequence of the trophy hunting ban in Botswana, elephant poaching in the northern region has dramatically increased.
  11. To be honest, I had not appreciated that this thread was intended to be about yet another elephant orphanage. I had not read @@optig's link - only the text that he addressed to me which made no mention of a sanctuary and appeared to be a response to a comment I had made on the "Zimbabwe Presidential Elephant Herd" thread. I shall desist from further comment on the current thread despite my frustration with the constant repetition of @@optig's constantly repeated, non-evidence-based opinions.
  12. @optig: How many savanna elephants would you like Africa to possess? There are currently approximately 400000. How would 800000 suit you? Since you don't accept that elephant density can be excessive, perhaps a doubling of current numbers wouldn't be enough for you. However, supposing it were and that your protectionist approach to conservation actually worked (for which there is scant evidence), you would need to cull 40000 a year to stabilise at this level - more than the number being currently poached. Thus, trade in ivory could be sustainable as it could make a very substantial contribution to the $350/sq km that I have read are necessary to protect wildlife areas from poaching. Certainly, in no other way are equivalent funds likely to be found for other than small areas of potential elephant habitat. The real conservation tragedy is that some 60% of the extant elephant population is confined to territory that is being rapidly desertified while the residual percentage is scattered in suitable but insufficiently protected areas such that populations there are dwindling.
  13. Which trees? Different species respond differently to elephant damage (eg. acacia and mopane). Elephants are mixed feeders. Overgrazing tends to destroy perennial grasses, leaving less nutritious annuals. When the nutritional potential of grazing drops, elephants make greater use of browse and damage even the more tolerant species of trees. An overpopulation of elephants has adverse impacts not only on vegetation, but on other species of mammalian wildlife. Elephant populations will self-regulate, but only at levels that are unsustainable. Please read the scientific literature rather than relying on out-of-context quotes by the likes of Prince Mupazviriho. The original aim of CITES - the establishment of sustainable trade in wildlife products - has been subverted by protectionist NGOs in the developed world (they can't vote, but they do have massive influence on decisions). The Botswana ban on hunting was, I believe, a decision made by the president in response to threats of potential boycotts by photo-tourists. The decision has apparently appalled most wildlife professionals and has directly led to an upsurge in poaching. IMO, sustainable trade in ivory offers the best hope for African elephants, but only if (a big if) the proceeds go back into conservation efforts.
  14. @madaboutcheetah: I think that @@offshorebirder was addressing the hypothetical question I posed in the post above his response - namely that, if demand destruction succeeded in eliminating poaching, how would one cope with escalating elephant numbers and consequent worsening ecosystem damage? His potential solutions included translocation, immunocontraception and culling. Somewhat over 10% of the African continent's total elephant population resides in the 14000 sq km of Hwange NP. Assuming that anyone wanted to receive translocated elephants (and very few do), it would cost not less than $40 million to carry out a sufficient population reduction. Immunocontraception is good for stabilising a small population, but is an unwieldly and slow method of effecting population reduction. However, if attempted, it would cost not less than $2.5 million in year one with subsequent annual expenditure being one third of this. A cull at the rate of 10% of the population/annum would effect the needed reduction in approximately 12 years (still a long period). This would have the potential to provide a net income of around $3 million/annum were legal trading to be allowed. Thereafter, there would need to be an annual stabilisation cull of, perhaps, 5%. Whether this extra money would find its way back to front line conservation is a moot point. There are 4 fairly discrete elephant populations in Zimbabwe. Two are severely overpopulated. One is apparently crashing in consequence of over-hunting.
  15. @@RichB It is true that our species has greater impacts (often negative) on ecosystems than any other. However, in conservation terms, the effects of elephants in Hwange are not dissimilar to those of pastoralists in Laikipia. One needs to be concerned about both. I'm not sure what you were hoping to convey with your post. Are you advocating pest control? If so, whom would you like to start on? Perhaps you were merely indulging in totally unproductive virtue signalling.

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