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Safaridude last won the day on May 6 2016

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  1. “U.K. ivory exports are stimulating consumer demand globally…”, the Guardian article says. Does supply really fuel demand? Or does demand arouse supply? If the latter… and if you choke off the supply of old, legal ivory (as in dead a long time ago before the international ban) flowing to China, how would the existing demand in China then be satisfied? The answer: from the illegal killing of elephants that are alive today. This is one of the immutable laws of economics, and such is the futility of the situation. It is important to note that we have had all the regulations we need already. An international ivory ban was imposed in 1989. Basically, the ban illegalized inter-country sales (i.e., Zambia can’t sell to Germany). In-country, trades are still o.k. if you can prove that the item is pre-ban (Some countries and some districts of countries have adopted stricter rules… apparently, the U.K. being one. The 1947 timeline in the U.K. isn’t quite correct. If you have an antique item from before 1947, you can sell it as an antique without a certificate. You can still sell post-1947 items but you need a certificate authenticating that it is an old item worked some time prior to the international ban.) So, the supposed 1947 timeline in the U.K. isn't as important as it seems. So, indeed the U.K. and the U.S. have been heavy sellers of old, legal ivory to China. This proves that there is no net demand for ivory in the U.K. and the U.S. (despite hilariously misleading media articles and beliefs out there) (Demand in the West has dropped like a rock since 1989.). Very little new, illegal ivory has entered the U.K. and the U.S. since the international ban (you would have to be “a Homer Simpson” to try to push ivory into those countries, when the demand/price is much higher in China). On the other hand, there is heavy demand from China. We all already know that. So, I guess there have been violations in authenticating old ivory as antiques in the U.K. Ok, so maybe someone in the U.K. who inherited an antique item with no paperwork attached to it tried to pose the item as pre-1947 and tried to get rid of it. Yes, that is a violation worthy of some punishment. But is that activity contributing to the current elephant poaching crisis? More importantly, what happens if you stop all the flow of old, legal ivory items to China? Again, how will the demand in China then be satisfied? These tweaks in regulations seem futile to me (and more politically motivated than anything else) at best, and counterproductive (China’s demand may get satisfied from the killing of live elephants) at worst. The only way the poaching problem will be solved is… (1) through a controlled legal trade structure (ivory from natural deaths only), which is highly unlikely at this point; or (2) a combination of demand reduction and strict enforcement against illegal (new) ivory in China. Meddling with rules in countries with no net demand is moot. If the rules include choking off exports of old ivory, it is counterproductive.
  2. @douglaswise It's funny when I hear Americans "boycotting" those countries you mention because of trophy hunting. Yet they live in America where there is plenty of trophy hunting going on. Sorry, I am not trying to make this into yet another hunting vs. non-hunting debate.
  3. In my opinion, the article is yet another sweeping fluff piece that doesn't fully explain why Botswana's conservation policy works and why it doesn't work. Several points to be made: - In order for the high-quality, low-impact tourism model to work, there must be (1) high concentration of game; and (2) few people around the periphery. Prime concessions in Botswana have the game and very few people in the nearby villages (normally hundreds, not thousands) who benefit meaningfully from the commerce that is brought in (i.e., the $$ math works). But this is not possible in areas of low game concentrations (take for example, the Mababe Depression in Botswana or the dwindling wild lands in Botswana that borders Hwange, Zimbabwe) that are ecologically just as important (since they are critical dispersal areas for game). In other parts of Africa with high game concentrations, the model doesn't work so well if you have thousands or tens of thousands of people the safari commerce must benefit (i.e., the $$ math doesn't work). In those areas, poaching and general degradation of habitat tend to still be rife, no matter how good the high-quality and low-impact tourism model is. - Botswana is still, on a relative scale, among the best African countries in terms of conservation. However, as @Paolo points out, things are not all great under the hood. Most concerning is the departure from the devolved conservation model (which was working pretty well, all things considered) to the one controlled by the state (and its sometimes random autocratic rules) (per @douglaswise). Meat poaching is through the roof in many of the areas that had been under devolved ownership. It will be interesting what the new regime (about a year away) will bring. - I think it is a mistake to measure conservation success in Africa by the number of elephants or rhinos or whatever else. If measured only by the number of elephants, Namibia (which is probably the most successful African nation in terms of conservation but has limited elephant habitat), for instance, would trail Tanzania, in terms of conservation success. - Botswana is a blessed, special case -- at least the areas around the Delta and the far north, where you can successfully implement high-quality, low-impact tourism. The trick is... how do we conserve places that are "peripheral" but just as ecologically important? Can the economics of keeping these areas wild (photographic, hunting, game ranching, communal forestry, etc.) compete with other land use options for the locals?
  4. @vikramghanekar Our South African ground handler, AfriFriends, and Benson's company (Ngoko Safaris) handled the booking of KTP.
  5. @kittykat23uk Aandeoever is lovely. Bontebok National Park can be enjoyed in morning or one afternoon. I would recommend spending more time in DeHoop if you can. At both Bontebok and DeHoop, you will see loads of bontebok, so no worries there. But at Bontebok, you can see the rarely seen grey rhebok in the hills. They are worth looking for. Also, in between Bontebok and DeHoop, keep an eye out for the beautiful blue cranes. Is it too late to change your stay to inside DeHoop? There are excellent accommodations. Below is my very short write-up on Bontebok National Park and DeHoop Nature Reserve:
  6. @Game Warden Obviously, there are many factors influencing wild dog populations, only one of which is lion density. For a couple of decades now, the Mara region and northern Serengeti have not had wild dog packs consistently denning. I believe there have only been sightings of, essentially, vagrants (perhaps some of them denned once or twice, but not consistently). A few years ago, several packs from outside national parks in Tanzania were relocated into Serengeti National Park. It may be that some of them splintered from their original packs and are showing up in some new places in the Serengeti/Mara. One thing that's not really discussed is that dogs normally don't do well on open plains. Across Africa, they do much better in lightly wooded environments. This may have to do with the detectability of the dogs' hunts by lions and hyenas, as they will steal the dogs' kills. The Mara has changed a lot in the last 40-50 years ("Mara" means spotted in Maa. The Mara used to be heavily bushed.) It is much more open than it used to be (fires and elephants). It's just not great habitat anymore for the dogs. Additionally, the lion population in Serengeti/Mara is very healthy right now. It may be due to the wildebeest population that has essentially doubled since the '70s. (Prior to the '70s, the migration did not reach the Mara.). And why has the wildebeest population doubled? Recovery from rinderpest, for sure, but also the opening up of the Mara and northern Serengeti may have had an influence. Full circle...
  7. @Kitsafari Thank you for this amazing and comprehensive account of Zakouma. I basically would like to second everything everyone has said. And many thanks also to, in no particular order, Squack, @Sangeeta, @Twaffle and Terry. Did we really not have even an infinitesimal moment of slightest friction amongst us? Kindness, respect and selflessness come to mind. I had met everyone before except Kit, and getting to know Kit was one of the highlights of the safari. And here is my little contribution to this thread… I am often asked what my favorite safari destination might be. I always answer that by saying that I won’t answer that question, because it is like asking someone, “which one of your children do you love most?” As such, I cannot say that Zakouma is my favorite safari destination. But I will say this: Zakouma was different. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - Well, that was the river. This is the sea. Woo! The Waterboys All have been quite grand. But this was different… this Zakouma… The sheer numbers at Zakouma are shocking. In East or Southern Africa, you get excited if you encounter a flock of a few thousand queleas or a couple of dozen crowned cranes. At Zakouma, queleas and cranes, not to mention many other species of birds and mammals, subsume you. One evening, as we were photographing queleas roosting in the woodland, I noticed the temperature of the woodland rising from the innumerable quelea bodies. The escalating temperature and the noise reached a breaking point: I had to leave. The very next day, I had to temporarily abort my satellite phone call to the family due to the collective honking of 500+ black crowned cranes right in front of camp. “What in hell is that noise?” she said. During our 7-night stay at Camp Nomade, Zakouma’s dry season momentum was palpable. Every day, there was less and less water available and greater and greater concentrations of cranes, geese, ducks, herons, pelicans, queleas, hartebeests and tiangs. And it was only late February/early March. The numbers would continue to build until the first rains in 8-10 weeks thence disperse the wildlife. It was difficult to imagine that, in the coming weeks, there could actually be more cranes honking in front of camp, or there are enough fish in the dwindling pans to sustain the pelicans or the tree branches, already bending, could take any more roosting queleas. Historically, these explosions of life have been the norm everywhere on the continent of Africa, but the genuine glimpses of them are now, sadly, restricted to a handful of spots – places such as Zakouma where there is minimal human footprint. My one indelible moment has to be our last morning when the queleas put on quite a farewell show. They (“they” meaning tens of thousands of them) had been coming to drink at a shrinking pool on the floodplain in front of camp every day beginning at 5:45am on the dot, in larger gatherings each successive day. At 5:51am, the last flock of the morning and the largest flock seen to date approached with an escalating drone, having reached the threshold point in which it was thick enough to completely block out the background. Orchestrated as one giant organism, the flock swooped down suddenly, sucked up the moisture only for a few seconds, and then departed forcefully with a loud whoosh, blackening the sky in its path, looking very much like a dark, filled-in, twirling lasso. With the departure of the queleas, it was as if nothing ever happened. The floodplain cleared and fell silent, at once waiting expectantly for the cranes to arrive from their nightly roosting site to fill the void. Rivers are great. But this is the sea. A roosting Marabou Stork A tiang on the move Pelicans on the Salamat River Queleas at dusk Queleas in front of camp More queleas in front of camp The magic of Camp Nomade
  8. @@Kitsafari You are not the first failure... as I am not done with you! That roan at the Tinga waterhole is most likely a record-breaking one (in terms of horn length). And according to some experts, it's a record by a comfortable margin. Our being there at the waterhole may have saved his life (for the moment anyway). The lioness, which was later seen by me and Squack chasing after a kob, had parked herself under a thick bush and was in ambush position the entire time. If the roan hadn't been disturbed by us, he could have walked right into the lioness (and the wind direction was in the lion's favor).
  9. @@Kitsafari "Sing-sing" is a Bambara word for waterbuck. Bambara is spoken in West Africa.
  10. @@Kitsafari You continue to enthrall us with your magical writing.
  11. @@Galago First of all, speciation or sub-speciation is a combination of science and art. There are no definitive markers that define two things as separate species or subspecies. The IUCN convention has six subspecies of the topi: topi, coastal topi, tsessebe, Bangweulu tsessebe, tiang and korrigum. A recent convention elevated all six into separate species, and in addition, split the "regular topi" species into 3 separate species (thereby having 8 separate topi species). This new convention is generally not accepted. (For instance, the "regular topi" that was further split into three species by this convention... up until probably 100 years ago or so, those three populations were contiguous/continuous. So, how could they really be separate species, or even separate subspecies?) So, sticking to the IUCN convention, there are six subspecies. @@Caracal The waterbuck at Zakouma is basically defassa waterbuck (the same waterbuck you see generally west of the Rift Valley... in places like Serengeti). The ones found from Chad/CAR to Senegal are often called sing-sing waterbuck or West African defassa waterbuck. These tend to show less white on the face than those defassa waterbucks found elsewhere. But the IUCN does not recognize the sing-sing waterbuck as a separate species or subspecies.
  12. @@Kitsafari There is one more: Bangweulu tsessebe
  13. A beautiful beginning... poetically written. Wonderful memories!
  14. @@wenchy Hi there. Unfortunately, I have not been to Lama.
  15. I was completely wrong on this. In the official statement by China just released, there is a paragraph on stepped up enforcement against illegal ivory. It's only a statement, but it's clearly a positive step.

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