Sangeeta

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Sangeeta last won the day on July 30 2015

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About Sangeeta

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  1. I agree with everyone above Distances and road conditions everywhere mean that you should at least double the amount of time you think it will take you to get from place A to B, especially if there is a flight to catch at place B! Jinja & Wildwaters is a lovely idea, but allocate enough time - at least 3-4 days to do this. Otherwise, if you want to start on water, consider Pineapple Bay at Lake Victoria. They are a sister property of Clouds & you'll probably get good rates if you do both & it will save you a very long detour to Jinja by road. After that, get a flight to Bwindi. It is simply too long to do this with a young child and older parents in tow. Spend 2 nights at Clouds for the trek and to enjoy the lodge, and then nip over by car into Rwanda - spend a night here near Volcanoes NP and perhaps do a golden monkey trek? Then drive to Kigali and fly directly to northern Serengeti (you can do your hot air balloon here). You will save a lot of time & effort if you do this. Do not drive these Bwindi roads yourself. They are winding, tortuous, slippery and most importantly, they can get very rutted & flooded when it rains, which it often does (almost everyday) in these parts. Then you can certainly do a road safari in Tanzania, including time in the Serengeti, Crater, Tarangire, then cross over into Kenya - Amboseli etc. If you've spent sufficient time in the Serengeti, there is no huge reason to go to the Masai Mara, unless it is a must-do also. Rather, enjoy one of Kenya's lovely private conservancies & do something special & kid-friendly in Laikipia. Then back to Nairobi & Giraffe Manor. Finally, the Zanzi section. But having said all this, I too think this is too many places & will be very exhausting with your family members of such diverse ages. My suggestion is perhaps it would be best to prioritize the experiences, get a budget in place, and then look at the logistics and see how best you can do all the things you really want to do while still having a wonderful family holiday.
  2. Very poignant post, @Matias Cox - sadly too many 'last of species' stories. Thanks for sharing the Brauer interview link.
  3. @Geoff - amazing to think that someone right here saw her as a youngster. When we measure most things, 2002 doesn't seem so long in the past. But with Africa, it seems like a whole era has gone by since then. Thanks so much for sharing your encounter with her. Always look forward to your posts. @egilio Ditto what @wilddog said. My heart goes out to all of you who interacted with her so closely, and to Herbert Brauer, for bringing her story to light. @Caracal - thank you. Nice to beback on here and reading all my old buddies again
  4. @FlyTraveler, I am not sure what your companion calls basic, but honestly, it is sheer luxury to have a campsite in the middle of the park with fantastic views over the valley. Staying at the Park bandas will be many steps down from the mobile camping option. Btw, if he/she is concerned about toilets, you should know that they have flushing toilets at these campsites (and were in good operating condition when I visited). How basic is your basic option? I suppose we each have our own soft spots, but for me, camping wins every time because as lovely as lodges can be, they simply cannot replicate that feeling IMO. Yes, do try and schedule walks with the rangers. It is a very special park for walking. And since you're keen on culture, perhaps you can do that Ik hike if you are fit? And report back to us. A very tough hike from what we heard, though. @Botswanadreams your night drives look like they were very productive, long grass or not. In Murchison, I stayed at Baker's Lodge & Paraa and don't know the others you mention personally, but I do know people who have used Pabuka and have been mostly happy, though it is busy.
  5. A Goodbye from SafariChick and Sangeeta: Our Eulogy to Lady Liuwa Lots of you already know the story of the Last Lioness – and the resilience that helped her survive all alone in a remote Zambian park after her entire pride had been hunted down. With the help of humans, she went on to thrive and lived the remainder of her life with a new pride she eventually called her own. Hers is a story of hope and despair, both for her species and our own. @SafariChick has already written a great trip report detailing our trip to Zambia, but I was very moved by her passing and thought it would be fitting to talk today about the back story of our safari to Liuwa Plain NP in November 2014. At the time, this was the maddest trip we had ever planned. Sometime in the summer of 2013, Jane & I (and @KitSafari too, though she was not able to join us) got a strange bee in our bonnets that whatever else we did or did not do, we were going to see Lady Liuwa and Busangadude before they passed on, so help us God! Both these lions were old and had already lived long lives in the wild, and we were infected by a strange sense of urgency to make this trip happen nownownow. Liuwa is best visited in early November (or May) but that’s also when it buckets down on the Busanga Plains, and the camps there (wisely) close for the season by then. That was also the same year that Robin Pope had discontinued his Liuwa trips and suddenly, there was nowhere nice to stay in Liuwa and no easy way to get there either. The upshot to all this was that we had no place to stay on the Busanga Plains (for Busangadude) and no place to stay in Liuwa (for Lady Liuwa) You’d think we’d have thrown in the towel, but no, no, the fever raged on unabated. We wrote to everyone we knew (and many we did not) in Zambia and every last person told us that it was impossible, foolish and very unwise to try and get to the Busanga Plains once the rains had arrived. So Jane and I measured the kilometers outwards from the Busanga tree line to see if we could possibly prevail on someone do a day trip for us. And we wrote one last time to none other than our own @KafueTyrone. Tyrone & Phil were our knights in shining armor on this trip (against their better judgement, I think). But they were great sports and Tyrone eventually agreed to drive us all the way up to the plains and back again to Musekese – though we needed to be ready to spend the night in the vehicle if we got mired in Kafue’s infamous black cotton soil! Stuck in the mud? Tsetses on the Busanga treeline? Pffft, when was that a problem? High fives everywhere as we had Busangadude sorted! Now what on earth were we going to about the Lady? There were simply no camps open in Liuwa, so where could we possibly stay? After a lot of research, we finally settled on Bundu Adventures, a mobile safari outfitter who came to us highly recommended and who agreed to drive us from Kafue to Liuwa, rain or no rain. But the safari numbers they came back with were scary for just the 2 of us. And so off we went again – this time, looking for prospects to join us on the trip. We first stumbled upon a really nice young man from Chicago, equally smitten by the Lady, who was also looking for safari companions for his return trip to Liuwa. Then we were three. We still needed 1 more person to make this work and Jane finally roped her massage therapist in! Poor AM. Her first safari to Africa was going to be a road trip that crossed half of Zambia, had her staying at the Hollywood Motel in Mongu, in little dome tents and 43 degrees Celsius in the park, dark common loos with big spiders lurking and Lady-obsessed safari companions who were happy to park beside the sleeping lions for hours at an end! If there’s someone else besides Tyrone who needs a medal from this trip, it’s AM. Since then, I’ve often wondered why it is that so many of us get these bees in our safari bonnets. What is it that pushes us and pulls us and forces us to be accommodating, intrepid, persistent, annoying, adventurous and so much more? What is it about these parks and these animals that beguiles us over and over again? Sometimes, it’s just the stories… I was enchanted by Busangadude the moment I saw Swamp Lions, and was fascinated by the many stories about him that I read through @Safaridude and others who were fortunate to see him many times over his remarkable life. We never did get to see him on that trip to Zambia, but at least we know we tried and that makes us happy. He was no ordinary lion. He was a character unto himself and lived a full and storied life, doing things that you don’t expect lions to do. The Last Lioness was a haunting movie that sucked me into the life of a lonely lioness, and along with many thousands of her fans the world over, I too rooted for her to bond with the transplanted males, to have cubs (and was sad when it became clear that she could not), to enjoy her time with her new pride. Nor was Lady an ordinary lion. She too was a character and lived a full and storied life, doing things that you don’t ordinarily expect lions to do. It is sad but fitting that she passed away yesterday, on the eve of the International Day of the Lion. An Ambassador for her species until the very end. RIP Lady Liuwa. We’re so glad we made it out there to you.
  6. @FlyTraveler - I just saw your post. I was in Kidepo in 2015 and although I stayed at Apoka Lodge (which has a wonderful location inside the park), I did stop by & check out out the bandas. I would not stay there if I were you. Not only is it very close to park HQ (and therefore lots of human activity & rubbish & only some habituated animals & lots of scavenging jackals in the immediate vicinity), but I would much rather go camping à la @Botswanadreams - his basic camping with chef looks a lot better than the bandas I saw - by far. I had also checked out the campsites used by @Botswanadreams - they are beautifully positioned with superb views over the park & you will likely not experience anything like those lion brothers at night if you stay in the bandas. @BotswanadreamsPlease do post your report here - even if it's in German. It is lovely and your photos are really wonderful. So whether it's location or food or wildlife, go with the basic camping kit. It will be perfectly comfortable & with a chef/musician along, how can you go wrong? If you're at Kidepo, def go on some walks (you will need to arrange this with the park rangers). They have some beautiful walks in this park & very curious & unafraid plains game. I hope you have a lovely time. Like Paul, I agree that QENP will make it too busy & too much time on the road.
  7. Those are amazing videos of the vocalizing & chomping wolves, @michael-ibk - and those vocalizing/chomping stills are equally astonishing! Well done, you Ali Deghe looks like it's well worth spending the extra time there. hmmm, you've all given me some lovely ideas for Feb! Yay & double yay for your wonderful TRs @Atravelynn, @AndMic and @michael-ibk.
  8. I know @lmonmm, 😞 I sound like some macabre Dr Death with all my grim posts on ST these days. Ugh.
  9. Yay, glad you came back on & posted the rest! Thanks, Vikram, really a pleasure to see them & Mana as wonderful as can be!
  10. I've just heard (and these may only be rumors, which I hope to goodness, they are) that this convoy of animals for translocation encountered some big hurdles at the border & plans are to slaughter them all for meat? It all sounds horrendous - does anyone know more?
  11. And I hardly think that SA, Zim and Namibia can claim better (fewer) poaching events than Bots over this same period.
  12. http://www.tourismupdate.co.za/article/124624/Wilderness-Safaris-new-camp-set-to-open-in-Botswana?utm_source=Now Media Newsletters&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=TU Daily Mail&utm_term=http:%2F%2Fwww.tourismupdate.co.za%2F%2Farticle%2F124624%2FWilderness-Safaris-new-camp-set-to-open-in-Botswana Very interesting news - since Calitz Safaris used to be one of the most prolific ele hunting outfitters in Botswana. This news is welcome & 4-5 years after the fact, it would be great to get a list of all the former hunting concessions that have now moved over to photo concessions. There have been lots of new camps opened this past year, I suspect most of them in ex-hunting concessions. Those of you with more knowledge, please update us on the latest status of these ex-hunting concessions.
  13. The latest MET action plan for managing human-wildlife conflict in Namibia: http://www.the-eis.com/data/literature/NW Lion Management Plan 20161222_V1.pdf Plus this response by Izak Smit to NAPHA's letter referenced above (I called it a 'hissy fit' in my previous post). This post below was on FB and I have copied it here as is, because I thought it raised a number of interesting points. Questions and ANSWERS written by Izak regarding Napha's Press Release :Lion Hunt Campaign ( see attached Napha's statement ) Izak Smit :"KEBBEL’s STAY OF EXECUTION Sanity has prevailed. The Minister of Environment and Tourism of Namibia has heeded the warnings and information regarding the doubt cast on the sustainability of hunting the Desert Lion male, Kebbel, also known as XPL 81 as well as the non-compliance with the new recommendations made for the amendment of the National HWC Policy of Namibia 2009 (see response to NAPHA s letter). The Minister, in our opinion has risen above, and has broken the old bureaucratic mould and culture maintained by some of his senior office bearers, the “my way or the high way” approach and has proven that he takes his mandate to protect Namibia’s resources seriously, despite undue pressure and criticism from both pro and anti-hunting lobbies. For this we commend him. Hunting in Namibia is a much- needed industry in Namibia. The new recommendations, accepted and officiated by the MET s permanent secretary, Dr Malan Lindeque, however, clearly warns against abuse and opportunism that has frequently been the result of so-called “problem animals” that ended up providing a window to select and hunt trophy quality animals that were not the “problem animal” in question. HWC Policy and protocol and CITES recommendations often become the victims of greed and corruption and this is the problem. The increase in Human Lion Conflict incidents as of late gives the false perception that Lion numbers have increased beyond control. This phenomenon can be attributed to factors like the harsh droughts and resulting diminished prey density. Desert adapted Lion population numbers have been revised downwards by the MET from 150 to 120 which proves this point. The more effective the increasing measures to manage and mitigate Human Lion Conflict becomes, the more Lions and cubs will succumb to starvation and numbers might decrease dramatically, “naturally” and therefor “govern” itself. Let’s debate the arguments offered by NAPHA. FIRST PARAGRAPH: “NAPHA would like to express its disappointment with the 1)“ILL-INFORMED” public outcry towards a NAPHA member and outfitter regarding the marketing of a 2) “TROPHY LION” as per letter issued to Sesfontein Conservancy by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) for 3)a HUMAN WILDLIFE CONFLICT LION. This last resort effort was made by the MET in order to manage human wildlife conflict and, in part, 4) re-imburse those affected by this conflict” Let’s analyse this: 1) Define “ILL INFORMED” – We ve known and monitored the pride in question, amongst others, for the past 5 years and have the photographical footage accumulated through regular sightings to prove it. We have assisted the DLP and Sesfontein farmers (successfully) a number of times in HWC prevention and management and concur with the researcher’s recommendations and concerns regarding gender skewing ratio of on average 0.18 males for each 1.0 female and the fact that some males has to “service” 7-9 wide spread small prides. This speaks for itself in terms of the vulnerability of the adult male population of which Kebbel, XPL 81 is one. The NAPHA member in question in his marketing campaign advertised the male as RARE animal and a unique opportunity which surely confirms the fact that the hunt cannot be sustainable by own admission? 2) Define “TROPHY LION” in this perspective. If a permit had been issued for a TROPHY LION, surely the CITES recommendations would’ve been followed as well as the researchers recommendations? In both instances, this hunt would have been non-compliant in terms of age, gender, impact on population etc, etc.?! It should be clear that such a hunt would not be sustainable. 3) If a HUMAN WILDLIFE CONFLICT LION permit had been issued, let’s look at the National HWC Policy 2009 read along with the December 2016 HWC Management Plan as accepted by the MET. Some of the requirements are proper identification, motivation and verification of ID from a second party, pre-determined time frame within which the hunt should take place, perpetual harassment by the marauding Lion and consideration of the animal’s status in the population etc. We need to see the original report by Steven Kasaona, the ranger in question, however, we know the incident took place back in early June, we were there! We also know that the one incident took place near Ganamub and that the culprits were the Hoanib pride consisting of two young females and their brother as well as the older female, Einstein, XPL 59 and her four young cubs. The Ganamub farmer’s water pump had broken down and they had to temporarily move with their cattle. Being creatures of habit, some cattle returned to the now closed kraals and became stragglers, unsupervised and easy prey. Some cows were taken and shortly after this we found Einstein dying, her cubs clearly dead somewhere already. This happened not long after the four Lions, including Tullamore, the last Musketeer, had been poisoned at Tomakas……. makes you think. Einstein was photographed few weeks before with healthy bouncing cubs…. . During this time, we got a report of no less than 12 Lions that were involved in conflict in this area. The incident 13 km West of Sesfontein as well as the one just South of it where the two Donkeys had been killed. Deduct the four Hoanib Lions involved in the Ganamub kill from twelve and you have 8 left. Incidentally the Orowau pride, including Kebbel, consist of 8 members. These Lions had been reported to have taken the Donkeys. Of these Lions, surprise………….., guess who gets earmarked as the culprit……? Yes, the big, black maned trophy male Lions, who would’ve thought?! We also know it was a once off and not a perpetual incident. That was back in early June. The hunt was recently advertised for 1-14 August or 1-14 September…….TWO MONTHS TO THREE MONTHS LATER…does this still qualify as a PROBLEM ANIMAL HUNT….? Not in terms of the National HWC Policy…. No it does not! Has the “identified culprit’s” status and role been considered when “sustainability” had been evaluated or analysed…., again a thundering…No! 4) “Re-imburse those affected by this conflict” – Our sources from within the Big Three Conservancy management structure maintains that the conservancy on average receives N$32 500 for such a Lion Trophy. In this instance, it was advertise for USD65 000 or N$845 000. This specific Lion has drawn many tourists and filled many Lodge beds over many years as a tourist attraction and is clearly worth a lot more to the community alive than dead. Tourism loses, as tourist boycotts are getting real, the community lose a big asset, but gets thrown a bone. The Donkeys were apparently not kraaled and if they were compensation paid to the farmers would have amounted to N$250 per donkey….2 x N$250 = N$500…. the amount “those affected by this conflict” would’ve received versus the N$845 000 the hunting outfit would’ve received…? SECOND PARAGRAPH “This seems to strike at the heart of the general misunderstanding about the role of conservancies as well as protected areas and a general ignorance of landscape ecology overall. It seems that the public thinks of these areas as something akin to large zoos, offering absolute protection to every single individual animal, rather than conserving populations and balancing land use for all Namibians. Let’s look at the content and context • “the general misunderstanding about the role of conservancies as well as protected areas” – The general understanding is CONSERVATION of wildlife with SUSTAINABLE UTILIZATION and conservancies are zoned accordingly to accommodate this? Where does “Landscape ecology” stand in relation to unsustainable offtake, which clearly is the case here considering the pride in question? ** Also note that the researcher in his recommendations emphasized that given pride dynamics and vast ranges the OVERALL population must be considered when determining sustainable utilization before offtake. • “it seems the public thinks of these areas as something akin to large zoos, offering absolute protection to every single individual animal rather than conserving populations…” Apart from lashing out condescendingly to non-consumptive tourism here the author claims to, in this instance “conserve populations” by shooting the only known reproductive male on which at least 4 small prides, Orowau, Hoanib, Okongue and Floodplain Lions, depend to pro-create.?? THIRD PARAGRAPH “Due to these ill-informed and unfounded facts being distributed widely through various social and media platforms blame is being placed on all the wrong parties” Let us look at this • Compared to the “ill-informed” the author should maybe divulge the basis of her “superior knowledge” by advising whether a proper and current scientific based report by and recommendations from the Desert Lion Project Researcher has been obtained/requested/observed to ensure the sustainability and moral ethics of this proposed hunt. If not, why not and what basis or information was used to ensure this? In other words, explain your claim of being “well informed”? Also if blame has been placed on the wrong parties…. who should be blamed instead? FOURTH PARAGRAPH “NAPHA holds a very good relationship with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, justifiably by being an organization which stands on firm principles and beliefs and by actively participating in strategic planning and mitigation” • It is good to hear as Namibia needs such an organization. The hunting fraternity, by its own admission, needs to clean up its act. Typically, corruption and greed has in some instances blemished the industry’s reputation and knowledge of this adds to the frustration of the public. Through responsible and ethical conduct, strict regulation and discipline and resisting the lure of the mighty dollar at all cost, especially in the big game industry this could be turned around. It has been proven in the past that mere expulsion of unethical members does not deter them from going about their business as usual. As a result, the ethical operators are tarred with the same brush. Maybe NAPHA should get statutory powers affording it the tools to cancel hunting licences and permits in order to enforce a good code of conduct. They do not deserve to be criticized all the time for the misconduct of others. PARAGRAPH 5 “The Ministry of Environment has justly followed its mandate and instructions as per our National Constitution in trying to manage human wildlife conflict in a way that recognizes the rights and developments needs of local communities, recognizes the need to promote biodiversity conservation, promoting self-reliance and ensuring that decision-making is quick, efficient and based on the best available information” • This statement is factually flawed- here is why. The MET does NOT have, by own admission, the capacity to manage and mitigate Human Wildlife Conflict and the new National Policy will emphasize the need for conservancies to do it themselves and by outsourcing assistance from NGOs and other organizations or individuals. As recent as last week an Action Committee saw the minister to put their case forward. The essence of their frustrations, arguments and pleas were the ineptitude and lack of political will of the MET regarding the plight of the communities suffering because of HWC. The author is part of that committee. The MET does not engage in practical HWC Management, mitigation or prevention. No initiatives have been implemented and nothing is being done in this regard in Kunene region. The ONLY initiative underway and implemented currently in the conflict areas pertaining to Desert Adapted Lions is that of Torra Conservancy’s joint effort with Desert Lion Human Relations Aid, DeLHRA for short, through which kraals are upgraded and Predator deterring lights are commissioned, crackers distributed and assistance been given in general. This has proven successful and is being rolled out. Successful HWC management, however, would lead to LESS OPPORTUNITIES for the hunting fraternity to convert “problem animals” into Trophy hunts, so in the author’s opinion, poor HWC management or prevention suits the agenda of some less ethical hunting outfits and it may even be blocked in certain areas because of this agenda. Reference to this is being made in the new HWC Management Plan of December 2016 and not merely the opinion of the writer. PARAGRAPH 6 “The Ministry and NAPHA also recognize that it will never be possible to eradicate all human wildlife conflict, but that conflict has to be managed in the most effective and efficient way possible. It should also be recognized that people and wildlife live in an interconnected and dynamic environment, that land use patterns are changing and that wildlife distribution patterns equally are changing, as animal populations recover and recolonize former parts of their distribution areas. • Granted, but other than agreeing on the need for efficient HWC Management, what is being done to mitigate and prevent it. Is the author advocating “managing” by identifying and shooting the culprits or is the emphasis on prevention and measures like early warning, deterring etc? Does management in this context imply hunting opportunities afforded through conflict or what is the authors interest and bona fides in this regard? Through measures like the upgrading of kraals, monitoring through collaring together with an early warning system and properly geared and trained Lion rangers the frequency of incidents can diminish which will proportionally strengthen the compensation fund enabling market related compensation in the incidents that slip through the net surely? Of course, If found sustainable backed by scientific data and justification and motivation, utilization should be an option, but only then, especially regarding protected or threatened species. PARAGRAPH 7 “The claims that this specific male Lion is the “last male desert lion”, is factually not correct. Furthermore, various communities have been threatening to poison or shoot the remaining lions in the affected areas, should actions not be taken to interrupt this problem.” • Correct, it is not the last male desert Lion with reference to the whole population. However, it is the last known adult male Lion in the Sesfontein and Purros Conservancy and considering the grotesquely skewed gender ratios is crucial for the survival and pro-creation of the 4 prides in its home range thus critically vulnerable. The communities have been frustrated by the ineptitude of the MET and the lack of initiatives and undertakings to institute effective HWC Management in their areas. This has to be corrected by the MET through promoting and assisting NGO’s similar to DeLHRA who can change all this in collaboration with the conservancies and other NGO’s and stakeholders. Recent successes in Torra conservancy has proven this. To exploit the current plight of the farmers by fanning the flames in order to create more hunting opportunities is nothing short of scandalous and moral bankruptcy. The long-term benefits of non-consumptive tourism outweighs consumptive tourism benefits by far and should be cherished and protected. Tourists are not ignorant and poor conservation practises will be punished by them as is evident in the Purros area. LAST PARAGRAPH “As is stipulated in the letter issued to the Conservancy, all possible measures were taken to prevent conflict. MET was however requested to deliberate again regarding this matter and will revert back to NAPHA shortly.” • The author has not yet been privy to the content of the letter and do not understand what is meant by “all possible measures were taken to prevent conflict”. Conflict with whom or what? Requesting MET to deliberate again and revert back is good and well, but what does the author hope to achieve. Lion numbers will remain the same or given the scarcity of prey might diminish. Lions will remain a protected species and might obtain endangered status at the Manilla CITES meeting in October which is around the corner. The current CITES provisos will remain and the lack of sustainability and gender imbalance will remain for a long time. If anything, HWC management will improve if the conservancies will accept the help offered to them by instances like DeLHRA, so problem animal hunting opportunities will diminish, and if they surface it will highly likely be limited to sub adult lions or females again subject to HWC Policy limitations and provisos. • IN SHORT- Why does the author pull out all stops in order to get authorization to shoot Desert Lions. Could it be because their RARE status inflates the price tag and guarantees exaggerated profits? They are called RARE for a very good reason and this should be accepted. • Putting more pressure on the Minister who has acted in good faith and in the interest of Namibia’s protected species, is uncalled for. Imagine the potential damage to tourism if he should nilly willy reverse his decision. The economy does not need this. In conclusion, hunting and trophy hunting and utilization is an important industry in Namibia and should be promoted and sustained, however singling out rare and protected animals for hunting that is clearly not sustainable should not be allowed if the industry is to survive. The majority of people by far, will not allow this any longer it seems."
  14. Thrilled (and surprised) to report that they have withdrawn the problem animal trophy hunting permit for Kebbel! It seems that the petitions were heard and that the MET was responsive to the international outcry against this hunt. All credit to MET and I stand duly corrected re what I said about them in my previous post. Good on them! https://africageographic.com/blog/no-hunting-permit-kebbel-lion-says-namibian-minister/ The Namibian Hunting Association is having a hissy fit in response: https://m.facebook.com/NAPHAnamibia/posts/800484900111290?sw_fnr_id=1502735127&fnr_t=0
  15. So glad to see you active here, @vikramghanekar - lovely images! I am so sorry I did not see this sooner, but topics get lost very quickly on ST with so much new coming in all the time and if we're not on ST as often on as we'd like to be. Tagging people helps too. Would love to hear more about your trip and see more pictures. Wonderful to have you posting finally.

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