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inyathi last won the day on October 23 2016

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  1. @douglaswise I agree perhaps this has become overly focused on elephants which is large part my doing, however, I want to clarify some of what I said and answer some of the points you raised in post 79, before moving on from the subject of elephants. Thanks for the link to Richard Law’s book, it’s not a book I’ve read, I have to say that so far, I have only rather skimmed through it, I will read it more thoroughly at some point. I wasn't for a moment trying to suggest that I think that culling is worse than starvation, without wanting to revisit everything I said in an earlier debate regarding the elephants in Hwange, I still believe that we have lot more to learn about elephants and how they communicate with each other, when a whole family group of elephants is removed by culling, we don't necessarily know how they were related to other family groups in the area. The point of culling an entire family is to avoid leaving survivors that would be traumatised by having witnessed or heard the slaughter of their family, I'm not sure that we know what impact this has on the other family groups living in the same area of the park/reserve, and they may well be related to the animals being culled. You may have a number of related family groups that live apart most of the time, but come together periodically to socialise, as was found in studies conducted by Joyce Poole. Unless you cull them at a point in time when they have all come together then I would assume that during a cull a family group may be aware that part of their extended family is being killed. Even if the elephants are unrelated if they are aware that another herd is being culled that would obviously I would suggest cause considerable stress. Elephants Call Long-Distance After-Hours This research was conducted in Namibia and I accept that the habitat is probably entirely different to that in Majete and the nature of the habitat e.g. how wooded it is may have an effect on how far elephant infrasounds travel. It is due to research like this that I have reservations about culling, specifically with regard to the idea of culling elephants in a small fenced reserve such as Majete, I don't know, but I'm not aware that elephants have ever been culled within a small fenced reserve before, I know that elephants were regularly culled in Kruger and in Hwange and other parts of Zimbabwe, Graham Child mentions Chizarira and the Lower Zambezi Valley the latter would I presume include not just Mana Pools but surrounding safari areas as well, I also knew that elephants had been culled in Murchison Falls in the past, but all of these areas are huge in comparison to Majete and with exception of Kruger unfenced. I wouldn't think people are unaware that starvation is worse, I tend think the point, is that what you are offering in a debate on say culling in Kruger is a choice between culling elephants and preserving habitat, not a choice between culling and starvation, the result of not culling would not ordinarily be starvation in the short term, unless there were a catastrophic drought. Most people given the choice between the life of a tree and an elephant would chose the elephant every time, they may not either understand the implications of choosing the elephant over the tree, or feel that it is perfectly natural for elephants to knock over trees. An overpopulation of elephants in Kruger will have a serious impact on the ecosystem and on other species but it will not in the short time result in elephants starving to death. That's maybe one part of it, the other part which I subscribe to is simply that starvation is natural, but this view requires a bit of further explanation. Having explained my reasons for having reservations with regard to culling, I am absolutely not suggesting that being shot is worse than starving I don't believe that for moment I just don't think that the question is relevant in an entirely natural situation. Death by drought is no less natural than death by lions, and for elephants death by lions is not exactly pleasant the following is copied from Wikipedia. A few years ago the wildlife filmmaker Mark Deeble filming for the BBC series Africa, filmed an elephant calf in Kenya die due to drought, and the BBC received lots of criticism for showing this and the fact that he had not intervened. The mother was simply not able to produce sufficient milk for the calf to survive, now clearly you would not advocate that he should have tried to do something to save the calf, nor that someone from KWS should have come out and shot it, because that would have been more humane than letting it die of thirst or starvation. Having seen in the Serengeti, a golden jackal running along with the half-eaten remains of a Thomson’s gazelle kid, carrying it away from the also half eaten remains of the mother, and concluding based on the evidence, that the mother had been attacked and killed in the middle of trying to give birth. Quite possibly killed by spotted hyenas as a couple of these animals arrived and one of them took the carcass away, I know that nature isn’t pleasant, perhaps the gazelle didn’t suffer, because it went into shock when it was attacked, I don’t know. As David Attenborough said when interviewed in reference to the fuss surrounding the death of the elephant calf, if he saw a cheetah about to kill a gazelle kid, should he jump out of the car and shout boo to the cheetah? He then explained how this would likely make the situation far worse. We don’t jump into to save other animals when they are facing an unpleasant but natural death so why should we do so with elephants, if you want to argue that what happened in Tsavo was entirely unnatural, perhaps due to the history of the region elephants had become unnaturally concentrated in the area, then fine that’s a different matter. I don’t hold the views of the Sheldrick’s as being more valid than anyones elses, I just think that it is wrong to imply that his decision or indecision was down purely down to sentimentality, rather than other factors including that he may have sincerely believed that the drought would resolve the overpopulation issue and that the habitat would then recover. It is I would suggest the case that the issue of elephant overpopulation hasn’t really arisen in Kenya’s parks since then, as a consequence of poaching. In the following discussion of the elephant management dilemma by I.J. Whyte Senior Scientist at Kruger NP (2001) he says HEADACHES AND HEARTACHES: THE ELEPHANT MANAGEMENT DILEMMA I was really just trying to make the point that I didn’t think that in the case of Tsavo and what happened there, that the fact that elephants were not culled was entirely down to compassion for elephants. I’m not saying it played no part either, Sheldrick’s concern about public relations, could I suppose be put down to the fact the public might oppose culling on compassionate grounds. I was simply saying that I didn’t think that David Sheldrick’s personal view of elephants was based on sentimentality, given he had been a professional hunter, but then again perhaps I’m wrong, maybe his experiences as a hunter killing elephants, had given him a sentimental view of elephants. Equally calls to cull the elephants were not based on compassion for elephants either, but out of concern for the habitat and the likely impact on other species if they were not culled. As I said he was reluctant to go ahead with a cull because of the issue of having largely stopped the poaching and was as Richard Laws states in his book, concerned about public relations. Clearly, his approach was to wait and see and critics would say that he waited too long and was just being indecisive, whether what happened caused irreparable damage to the habitat, I don’t know enough about Tsavo to know that. But, my point really isn’t so much about whether or not he made the right decision, only that the debate at the time was surely about the impact on the habitat and on other species not the welfare of the elephants. One can certainly see today that conservation policy in Kenya is significantly influenced by animal rights organisations, this is in my view not a good thing, but this surely wasn’t the case as far back as the early 60s was it? Trophy hunting was after all still legal in Kenya at the time, I would imagine that at that time, there wasn’t the huge contrast between conservation policy in South Africa and Kenya as there is today. Obviously Daphne Sheldrick is going to support the decisions made by her late husband, my point in saying I agree with what she said, is that as @Towlersonsafari have said in a drought it is survival of the fittest, that is surely what evolution is all about. Whereas with a cull you’re just deciding that you want to keep the population at around a certain level, and then selecting entire elephant families to kill, purely on the basis that removing these animals will reduce numbers to the desired level. That however is enough about Tsavo, other than to say I think people on both sides of the culling debate use what happened in Tsavo, to support their viewpoint when clearly they can't be both right, but without expert knowledge of the true ecological impact, it is difficult to know who is right. I don’t have a problem with the idea of elephants being culled pre-emptively to protect the ecology, the habitat from severe and perhaps irreparable damage, when there is no other alternative, all I’m really arguing is I don’t believe they should culled pre-emptively to prevent elephants from starving to death, except where obviously the situation is entirely unnatural. I.J. Whyte also says in his discussion on the elephant dilemma, that he believes that in the days prior to the introduction of firearms, humans would have had very little impact on elephant numbers, I said that the estimated population in 1800 was 26 million, the estimated population in 1900 is put at 10 million. Within the space of 100 years apparently 16 million elephants were killed, obviously these figures can only be guesstimates, no one can really know how many elephants there were at either date, even so it’s reasonable to conclude that there was a very substantial difference. whatever the true figures may have been, a dramatic reduction in elephant numbers occurred following the introduction of more and more firearms, his view therefore supports mine that I don’t think that human hunting was a major limiting factor on elephant numbers in pre-1800s Africa, (as some members have suggested may have been the case, either here or in another thread). While there had always been a trade in ivory from the East Coast the trade really only took of in the 19th century due the increase in demand from America and Europe, prior to 1840 most ivory from Eastern Africa went to India, after that date more and more American and European ships started arriving off Zanzibar to acquire ivory, this was used to make piano keys, billiard balls and all sorts of other ivory objects. A major expansion in the Arab slave trade up and down the East coast and in to Central Africa, combined with an influx of firearms, resulted in a substantial growth in the quantity of ivory, being taken to ports like Kilwa, Mombasa and Zanzibar. The ivory trade was completely intertwined with the slave trade, as slaves were captured in order to carry the ivory back to the coast, firearms were increasing given to tribes like the Wayao (mentioned earlier and often just called the Yao) around Lake Malawi in exchange for ivory and slaves, which in turn allowed them to capture more slaves and kill more elephants. During the second half of the 19th century as firearms technology improved and guns became more efficient, armies in Europe upgraded their weapons, this meant there was a huge supply of out of date guns, that were regarded as obsolete in Europe. These guns were taken out to Africa, by the 1880s anything up to 100,000 firearms were being imported into East Africa annually. This is undoubtedly the major factor that led to a decrease in the elephant population I would suggest. Prior to this period ivory was traded with the coast and across the Sahara, but unless you were profiting significantly from this trade, then much as I said before, I don’t see a lot of point in risking your life hunting elephants, besides to prove your manhood, because there were plenty of other far less dangerous animals, that you could hunt for meat. If pre-19th century humans did not significantly influence elephant numbers, and lions don’t hunt them enough to make a big difference either. Since this was I think this possibility was mentioned in another thread, they may have been hunted in prehistoric times by other large cats like sabre-tooths of some kind, it is suggested that in North America the sabre-toothed cat Homotherium may have specialised in killing young mammoths, however all known sabre-tooths are though to have become extinct almost 12,000 years ago. If it wasn't humans or other large predators then there must have been other factors limiting their numbers, my view is simply that drought may have been one of those factors. I simply meant that if you cull enough animals to reduce numbers below a certain level then this encourages population growth, thus in order to keep numbers at the chosen level you have to keep culling on a regular basis. Much as if you are breeding rhinos in a fenced sanctuary you have to keep the population at just below carrying capacity, in order maintain the maximum growth rate, if the population is too high then the birthrate will drop, thus periodically you have to move surplus animals to new homes. In the case of black rhinos your objective is to produce the maximum number of rhinos and keep the population growing, with elephants your objective presumably is to reduce their impact on the habitat, not to achieve the maximum growth rate. As I.J. Whyte stated in his discussion on elephant management in order to maintain the Kruger population at 7,000 it would be necessary to cull 450 elephants annually, I’m simply saying that once you start culling then you have to keep culling annually. What Daphne Sheldrick was advocating, which may not be possible nor humane was that you should take out a certain number of breeding females right across the entire population thus slowing down population growth, to achieve a one-off cull. I was really just saying that once you start culling you have to keep culling and that having a sustainable ‘crop’ might been seen as desireable, given that you need money to fund the management of these conservation areas. I was not suggesting that you are advocating that elephants should be harvested to raise money, rather than controlled for ecological reasons, but you might be seeking to as it were kill two birds with one stone. I was merely stating that culling in the way that it is carried out has the effect of encouraging the remaining population to grow, and unless your intention were to harvest elephants, then to protect the habitat and maintain biodiversity, devising a way to both reduce the population and slow the population growth as well, might be a better idea, than a system that encourages growth. The real point of what I said earlier posts was simply that elephants should be moved and not culled while there are still places nearby to move them to, in the case of Majete there are, when there are no longer such places because they have been filled up with elephants, then we will have to consider culling. It wasn’t really my intention to make this into a debate on culling. As I’ve said earlier I see part of the purpose of Majete as to breed animals for translocation to other places that need them and I would include elephants as one of these species alongside black rhinos and sables and so on. I will happily leave the subject of elephants for now. Breeding sables could perhaps be an important role for Majete and Liwonde, although I know that sables are still very common in places like Hwange they have declined markedly in other areas such as in Kruger, for reasons which I think are not as yet entirely understood, I did look up a paper on the subject, but as the full text was not available, at least from the site I was looking at I won't provide a link. Breeding sables both in the wild and ex-situ in zoos is important for the species given their decline in some areas, a few years ago a project was started reintroducing captive bred sable to the Balule Conservancy on the edge of Kruger. Back to Africa participates in a sable reintroduction in the Balule Conservancy Limpopo Province South Africa
  2. At this point I feel perhaps I should apologise to you @douglaswise and everyone else reading this, for including a somewhat misleading piece about elephant culling in my last post, it wasn’t my intention to mislead anyone, and I wouldn't want those who feel that culling may be necessary to think that I was being deliberately misleading When I wrote the part describing how elephants were culled, I admit that I took this in part from comments in an earlier debate here on culling elephants in Kruger and also from the description of culling in the following article linked below, which gives 3 views on elephant culling. Given that the article dates from 1995 it’s possible that comments in the earlier debate here, may have been based on the same article. I put my comment regarding culling in as a bit of an afterthought and unfortunately made the mistake of not reading the article thoroughly, because the author of part that describes the use of scoline, Marion Garai goes on to say that scoline will no longer be used by the parks board (SANParks I presume) for culling elephants. The elephant culling saga three views So just to be clear then scoline was used for a short time as it was thought that this might be a more humane way to cull elephants, but its use was quickly abandoned because the opposite was found to be the case and it was deemed to be inhumane. It might have occurred to me, that this was not actually how elephants were normally culled, because on my bookshelf I have a copy of the book Battle for the Elephants by Ian and Oria Douglas Hamilton and I knew this contained a description of an elephant cull in it, which I have just re-read. This is now quite an old book, the authors were attending a conference on elephant conservation held in Hwange in 1981 and by coincidence an elephant cull was taking place at the same time, Oria DH was invited to go along and witness the cull that was organised by the late Clem Coetzee, he was a highly respected conservationist who pioneered the darting and translocation of entire elephant families. Although I’d read her account of this cull before I’d forgotten the details, so after what I had written about the use of scoline I was expecting that she would describe the elephants being darted, before being killed. I was wrong, the elephants in this case were herded from the air towards the waiting hunters who had formed a partial circle, once the elephants had been driven to the chosen spot where they would be killed, the waiting hunters encircled them and simply shot them all, without the use of any drugs. Only the calves were left alive and they were tied to their dead mothers until they were ready to be taken away, this aspect of the operation was clearly extremely cruel, however, it should be remembered in saying that, that our knowledge of elephants has increased very markedly since this was done, and the people involved did not know what we know now, it was not their intention to be unnecessarily cruel to the elephant calves. Based on what we know about elephants now, arguably the cruellest thing was not killing the calves as well, to stop them growing up traumatised by what they had heard and witnessed during the cull and the likelihood is that in a modern cull they would be killed. Previously they were kept alive to sell to zoos and circuses, few people these days believe that circuses should still use elephants and there is a growing debate as to whether they should still be kept in zoos, normally animals live longer in captivity than in the wild but not in the case of elephants, generally captive elephants have shorter lives. Calves have also been used for elephant back safaris in Africa, again I don’t think many people would think that using elephant calves from culls for this purpose is a great idea, they have also been used to restock parks as in the case of Pilanesberg in SA, this caused a major problem with delinquent elephants that were attacking and killing rhinos, this not something that would be done now. If a park were being restocked a whole herd would be captured and brought in, no one would consider introducing calves from a cull any more. I just remembered from the DH’s book that there was a photograph of a Zimbabwean hunter standing on top of an elephant, administering the coup de grace with a rifle because it wasn’t dead, along with some other photos from the cull. I just couldn't remember the details of how the cull had been conducted, I should perhaps have taken the time to go and get the book and read the relevant chapter before I had posted. I asked the question is it possible to kill elephants humanely without using any drugs just guns and perhaps implied that it was not, on reflection I think if it is done right then it maybe a very humane method or at least preferable to using a drug like M99 as this would render the meat unusable. However, even with the most experience professional hunters they cannot predict what will happen, so, it will never be possible to always kill every individual cleanly with a single shot, it cannot be guaranteed that every cull will be entirely humane, but it is the intention of those involved to try and ensure that it is. What was clear from Oria DH’s recounting of this Hwange cull, is that none of the people involved took any pleasure at all from what they were doing, it was simply an unpleasant job that had to be done for the benefit of Hwange. I would still dispute that culling even done like this really is more humane than translocation, I don’t think you can guarantee that either is necessarily more humane than the other, in either case despite the professionalism of those involved something can easily go wrong. I agree entirely with the point that animal welfare has no place in conservation but I also recognise that there are plenty of things that go on in nature that are horrendously cruel and unpleasant and that it is not our job to intervene. If an elephant in Kenya for example is suffering because of bullet wounds inflicted by poachers or has been speared by an angry Maasai as sometimes happens, then a team of vets should be called out to try and treat it. If an animal has an entirely natural injury sustained in a fight say, then nature should be left to takes its course and we should not intervene. When it comes to the question of elephants dying from starvation, if this is an entirely natural situation then I see no need to intervene regardless of the fact that starvation is a horrible way to die, it is not our job to interfere with nature to prevent animals of any kind from dying horrible deaths. If the animal or animals in trouble are of a critically endangered species well then you step in, if a rhino became bogged in mud you’d try to get it out, if it were impala or other very common animal then you’d probably leave it to its fate, unless it were very easy and risk free to rescue it. If you couldn't risk a rescue without endangering yourself, you wouldn’t go and get a gun and shoot the impala to spare it an unpleasant death. If the elephants were in a fenced reserve then clearly it would not be a natural situation. If it were in an unfenced reserve/park, then obviously one could debate to what extent the cause is either natural or the result of human actions, but I do not believe, that if say as a result of a terrible drought elephants start dying, that we should automatically intervene and cull them because that is more humane, or that we should cull them in advance for fear that they will starve if we do not. By intervening, you are I would suggest, introducing animal welfare into conservation. Elephants in old age naturally die of starvation because during their lives they have 6 sets of teeth and when the last set are worn out, they are eventually no longer able to chew and can't get enough to eat. If there’s an overpopulation of elephants, I think there’s a valid case for saying that this is natures way of sorting it out. This might seem to contradict what I have said in the past about how I regard culling elephants as being different to culling other animals, because of how intelligent they are etc, but my view is that if the circumstances are purely natural, then nature will do a better job of sorting it out than we will. The point which I subscribe to is that made by Daphne Sheldrick in the article I linked above. Perhaps I take an extreme purist view, but if animal welfare has no place in conservation, then surely we have to accept that sometimes elephants will naturally die from starvation or rather lack of nutrients in a bad drought, I would further argue that if you are advocating culling for reasons of elephant welfare, then introducing animal welfare in to conservation is precisely what you are doing. The debate regarding what was done or rather not done in Tsavo primarily centres around the impact on the Tsavo ecosystem more than the suffering of the elephants as far as I can see. It is often suggested or implied that the decision not to cull was a sentimental one, given that the Tsavo Warden David Sheldrick had been a professional hunter as had most of the other white colonial park wardens at the time, I wouldn’t think that he held an overly sentimental view of elephants, having hunted more than a few of them. Culling alleviates the immediate problem of overpopulation but then encourages population growth such that you then have to keep culling regularly to counter this, that’s fine if you’re objective is to basically harvest elephants as a money-making venture to fund conservation. When elephants are culled, entire family groups are killed to avoid leaving traumatised survivors, this does not have the effect of removing breeding cows from across the population as Daphne Sheldrick is suggesting needs to happen to slow population growth. I don’t see anyone taking up her idea of mimicking what she sees as just the natural effect of drought and implementing a cull that would achieve the same effect. It is certainly true that people have probably always hunted elephants in Africa what actual effect this had on elephant populations I do not know, I’m not sure if anyone does. As I have mentioned before in another thread the Waliangulu people living in the Tsavo region of Kenya were specialist elephant hunters, they used immensely powerful bows and arrows tipped with a poison made from the sap of Acokanthera plants, the Barabaig people in Tanzania relatives of the Maasai hunted elephants with spears along with lions as a way for a man to prove himself. In the northern regions of Africa Arab peoples primarily would hunt elephants from horseback using special elephant spears or lances or even sometimes with swords. People in various regions would for example construct deadfall traps where a weighted spear would be suspended from a tree and would drop as the elephant walked underneath. Khoisan or San hunter gatherers would occasionaly hunt elephants by using essentially the same method as the Arabs but without the horses, one brave or mad hunter would run out into a herd of elephants singing as protection, when one of the elephants started to chase him, he would lead it to the other hunters, who would be hiding in the bush, they would leap out and attempt to severe the elephant’s hamstrings, it would collapse and they would kill it. It is undoubtedly the case that people have hunted elephants for hundreds and likely thousands of years. As I say I’m not sure what effect some of this hunting actually had on elephant numbers, I wouldn’t imagine that the San hunted elephants like that very often, it would have been incredibly dangerous and the were plenty of other game animals to hunt for meat that could be killed far more safely. Even for some of the Arab hunters and other natives on various parts of the coast who may have been hunting with primitive muzzle-loading guns hunting elephants would have been pretty dangerous and I presume that they wouldn’t necessarily have killed huge numbers of elephants. However, I suppose you don’t need to kill huge numbers to have an impact, given how slow breeding elephants are, so maybe the impact was bigger than I think. Back in the days when David Sheldrick was the warden of Tsavo much of the poaching was being done by a few Waliangulu hunters who would go into Tsavo and track and kill elephants in their traditional way. Sheldrick decided that this had to be stopped and launched a major anti-poaching campaign against the Waliangulu and also Wakamba poachers who were also killing elephants. Arguably these people were actually having a negligible effect on the elephant population and at the time poaching wasn’t out of control as it is now, their activities could have within reason been tolerated without threatening Tsavo’s elephants. One of leading Waliangulu hunters who eventually turned himself in, was interviewed and he stated that elephant hunting had always been a vital part of his people’s culture and they only ever did the traditional way and only targeted bulls, never cows or calves. If that’s true and they had always followed that rule then their hunting would have had very little if any impact on elephant numbers. I would tend to see historical hunting by humans as just one factor that had an impact on elephant numbers, rather than the major factor controlling their numbers. Estimates I've seen put the elephant population in 1800 before Europeans started making inroads into Africa at around 26 million the Great Elephant Census website suggests the same number for the year 1500, this is clearly a guesstimate but it doesn't suggest to me, that taking Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole that people had that big an effect on elephant numbers, although they may have done in specific locations. The early disappearance of elephants from North Africa was likely as much to do with climate change and habitat loss than over hunting by the Carthaginians, Romans and others. Part of the reason that David Sheldrick was reluctant to cull I understand was that having finally won his war to stop the Waliangulu from ‘poaching’ in Tsavo he felt that he couldn’t then very well bring in a team of professional white hunters and start culling. He had decided that if there were to be a cull, it should to be done by the park rangers not professional hunters, however nature intervened with the drought before a final decision was taken and huge numbers of elephants died. Besides having been a professional hunter as mentioned, David Sheldrick after stopping the poaching, was also involved with Ian Parker in an ill-fated and short-lived scheme, to allow Waliangulu hunters to legally kill elephants on an area of land outside Tsavo, this didn't work in large part because the colonial government, insisted on taking the money generated by selling the ivory, rather than giving it to the hunters. Besides that they had to hunt the elephants with guns rather than their traditional bows, this they did not like. He clearly didn't have a strong aversion to killing elephants, he took a hard line on poachers because he didn't like people breaking the law. It also has to be said that traditional native hunters were seen in a very different light to the way white hunters were seen, so it was acceptable for white people to hunt (with licences) but native hunters were invariably seen as poachers. There was quite a bit of opposition to the idea of allowing native people to legal hunt elephants for this reason, which didn't help their scheme to allow the Waliangulu to hunt. I certainly care about the suffering of elephants which is why I have some reservations about culling them, but according to my view as explained above, animal welfare is irrelevant, when it comes to nature, I would see the drought that occurred in Tsavo as one of the various factors that may have limited elephant populations in the past. Of course, in a fenced reserve or in a park like Hwange with its artificial waterholes then one is not dealing with a natural situation, in which case I would take a different view, because the suffering of the elephants would be the result of human actions. I don’t expect others to necessarily share my view, that nature should always be left to take its course, with elephants faced with starvation as a result of natural causes, I just think if it’s natural, their suffering is no more relevant than the suffering of other animals due to the cruelty of nature.
  3. Thanks @ForWildlife for your comments regarding Lukusuzi, I was aware that the park is in a terrible neglected state, just from reading about it, I was perhaps kind of ignoring this when I posted earlier because I don’t see that it negates my general point about Lukusuzi being somewhere for elephants to go. I did though of course suggest off the top of my head charging visitors a levy to fund a corridor to Kasungu, which obviously wouldn’t work since the park gets almost no visitors, save perhaps a few curious 4x4 drivers. The problem for the park (as you already know) is that it is on the eastern escarpment of the Luangwa Valley, a good 20 miles or so from the actual Luangwa River, it’s tributary the Lukusuzi River and other rivers in the park are very small in comparison, and most of the habitat is either mopane or Miombo woodland and certainly in the latter game viewing is usually quite difficult. It doesn’t therefore have that much tourist potential, even in the past it probably didn’t have as much game as the other parks in the valley due to there being less water and the game was not as easily visible, so no real attempts were made to develop the park, as a result all of the focus was on South Luangwa at first and then North Luangwa and Lukusuzi was forgotten about. Once the park was neglected then the game would have declined providing even less incentive to go there, there’s nothing really there to attract tourists away from the main valley, if tourists weren’t going then that took away the incentive for ZAWA (now replaced by the DNPW Zambia) to develop and protect the park. I hope that the parks inclusion in the MAZA TFCA will change this, even if the park will never much appeal to mainstream tourists. The information that MAPA give and I don’t know when this dates from, is the following As I say I’ve no idea when this information dates from so I don’t know, when they say plans for privatisation exactly what this means, whether there really are serious plans for it to be privatised in some way. If DNPW Zambia aren’t willing to look after it, getting someone else in would seem to be a very good idea, the one thing that does seem to come up with regard to Lukusuzi is that it has a sizable population of wild dogs, that alone in my book makes it worth looking after, given how rare dogs still are. It is also designated an Important Bird Area primarily because I would presume that Lukusuzi is home to a good variety of Miombo species since much of the park is dominated by Miombo woodland. I hope that the inclusion of Lukusuzi in the TFCA will eventually lead to developments in the park and to it being that much better protected. The treaty establishing the Malawi-Zambia TFCA was only signed in 2015 so perhaps it’s still rather early days, certainly the website is a bit of a work in progress I think. The one thing I have learned from it is that North Luangwa NP is now actually included as part of the TFCA and is no longer outside it, as is shown by MAPA on the map I added, it didn’t make any sense to me that it adjoined the TFCA but wasn’t part of it. The website mentions the restocking of Vwaza and Nyika but has very little to say about either Lukusuzi or Kasungu, it may just be that that they are focusing on the other parks first and will get to these two parks in the near future. Malawi-Zambia TFCA There's currently very little information about Lukusuzi on the Peace Parks website but I did find the following from 2008 WORKING WITH WCS AND COMACO I wasn't aware of COMACO and what they do, here's a link to the COMACO website and a couple of videos explaining their work Of course, when parks departments are seriously lacking in funds it doesn’t make sense to demand ever greater protection for even larger areas, but these are not newly created parks, Kazungu was gazetted in 1970 and Lukusuzi in 72. If we just allow these two parks to continue on, being forgotten and neglected we will eventually lose them, as is happening to other parks around the continent, this is in essence why AP was founded in order to prevent this from happening. Conservationist clearly have to prioritise and decide, given limited resources that some areas are in more urgent need of saving than others because they are far higher in biodiversity. If Lukusuzi is dominated by Miombo (and probably full of tsetse flies) it does not have obvious tourism potential, if developing tourism is unrealistic then other means would have to be found to generate funding, you could argue that it shouldn’t actually have been made a national park, but should be a game management area funded by hunting. Although I would think it’s unlikely that they would downgrade it from a national park to a GMA, I could have looked it up before but didn’t, the area of the TFCA immediately north of Lukusuzi is the Lumimba GMA and north of that, the area adjoining North Luangwa NP is the Masalangu GMA. I haven’t tried to establish how much revenue is generated from hunting in these and the other GMA’s in the Luangwa Valley, having not been there I don’t enough about Lukusuzi to know what the best way to fund its long-term protection would be. At this point I am just looking at the park as 272,000 ha of available elephant habitat, I haven’t at present given very serious thought to how it should be funded. AP’s 500 elephants project which saw in the end 520 elephants moved out of Majete and Liwonde to Nkhotakota and Nyika while a truly fantastic endeavour, and a great example of what can be done if there is the will and the funding, has of course only provided a temporary solution to the issue of elephant numbers in those parks. Some years down the line the issue will have to be revisited, by then the population in Nkhotakota should have increased quite significantly, there may still be room to move a few more elephant there, however I would tend to think that it would make more sense to properly secure Kasungu and Lukusuzi and move the elephants there. Kasungu is not that much further away from Liwonde and Majete than Nkhotakota is, and I would suggest is in dire need of a boost to its elephant population, I don’t know what the population is now but a count in 2013 found just 58 elephants in a park that is 233,055 ha in size, roughly 3 times the size of Majete. The figure of 58 of comes from an article on the Lilongwe Wildlife Trust website 2015 ELEPHANT CENSUS SHOWS WORRYING DECLINE There is or was a Dutch organisation called the Kasungu Elephant Foundation trying to help save the parks elephants but I’m not sure if they still go, but they do still have a Facebook page, but links I’ve tried to a website don’t work Kasungu Elephants Apparently IFAW are now working in Kasungu, I’ve found several reports on their website. Working in Kasungu will bring it back to its glory days Kasungu National Park’s wildlife is recovering after 25 years of poaching IFAW has been working for quite a while in Liwonde, perhaps now AP have taken over there, they will scale back their involvement in Liwonde and entirely shift their focus to Kasungu. Obviously the 500 Elephants project was hugely expensive, but I would think that they would be able to find the funding for another move in the future. The capture and movement of the Phirilongwe herd to Majete was funded by IFAW, despite the good work they are doing in Malawi, IFAW is not an organisation I would personally chose to support, because I see them primarily as an animal welfare/rights organisation that has moved into conservation. My choice if I’m giving money is I want it to be used solely for conservation, not for looking after domestic animals, much as I love dogs the welfare of cats and dogs around the world doesn’t concern me. However, if they can find the funds to pay for elephants to be moved around, that’s great as far as I’m concerned. If people want alternatives to culling and there are other options, but they are expensive well then, they have to reach into their pockets and pay. Of course, I’m not naive enough to think that translocating 100s of elephants will be paid for purely by animal lovers, giving what they can to IFAW or Born Free or Tusk or whoever, I know that the bulk of the money would probably come from big donors. If you watch AP’s video on the return of rhinos to Rwanda you can clearly see that the rhino crates say The Howard G. Buffet Foundation on the side of them, well that operation did cost $4 million. I don’t though doubt that it can be done, to me the point is not simply to avoid the problem of elephants becoming overpopulated in these fenced parks, it is also to put elephants back into places from which they are missing, or their numbers are too low. Since you mentioned culling @douglaswise, while I do not favour culling elephants except as a very last resort especially in a small fenced reserve like Majete, my reason for wanting elephants to be able to move around or if they can’t move themselves then be moved, is not to avoid culling them. It is because there were as I’ve already said under 100 elephants in Nkhotakota, when there should be 1,500-2,000 in the park, and in Kasungu there are just over 50 or so where again there should be thousands. In the entire Luangwa Valley region including Kasungu as recently as the 80s there were apparently around 100,000 elephants. That number is now down to under 20,000, obviously the human population has risen during this time, we can't increase the elephant population back to those numbers and I would not advocate trying to do so, but, this suggests to me that there’s still scope to increase the elephant population quite considerably from it's current level. I would never advocate for example moving elephants from Kruger to Lukusuzi, that would be somewhat absurd never mind the cost, however to cull elephants in either Majete or Liwonde would in my view be a crime, while there are only around 50 left in Kasungu and maybe not even that in Lukusuzi. I am not at all convinced by this argument that culling should be the preferred option because translocation will cause more suffering than culling, the techniques for moving elephants have improved markedly as AP very ably demonstrated I simply don’t believe that it is really that stressful or that this does any long-term damage. After all, AP have reported that the elephants in Nkhotakota are giving birth to calves that were conceived in Liwonde, that suggests to me that whatever stress was caused by the capture and move was short lived. For me in any case the gain to Nkhotakota in receiving the new elephants and for that matter the sables and other antelopes that were move far outweighs any stress or suffering caused to the animals. Besides if translocation is really so stressful to the animals, why was it okay to restock Majete in the first place or was this in fact very cruel? I'm not being serious when I ask this, but when a private hunting reserve in Zimbabwe donated I think 300 animals to Zinave NP in Mozambique, animal rights campaigners in Zim objected on the grounds that it would be to stressful for the animals. I know translocation is stressful and also animals do die, but provided everything has been done to reduce stress and animals dying then if a few do still die to me it's a case of omelette's and eggs, would we rather parks were restocked or not? Now that we have established that Lengwe is actually much larger than Majete, it does temporarily have the potential to be a home for surplus elephants from Majete, but only if it is fenced to protect local farmers and the Nchalo Sugar Estate etc, and also to protect the elephants from poachers likely from Mozambique. The cost of this fencing would though be considerable, if it’s therefore proposed, that this should be done who will pay for it? And how will its continued maintenance be paid for? Should they cull them to avoid the cost of fencing Lengwe and moving the elephants there, assuming that the cost will fall to them? Should AP at some point cull Majete’s elephants purely because they can gain financially? It strikes me that the 500 Elephants project generated a huge amount of positive publicity for AP, it attracted global media attention and I would think introduced a lot of people to the great work done by AP, who were previously entirely unaware of AP's existence. I think that the benefits to AP as well as to Nkhotakota will in the long-term outweigh the huge cost. Imagine on the other hand, the negative publicity that would have been generated, if instead of moving 500 elephants from Majete and Liwonde, they had decided to cull them instead. My assumption would therefore be, that AP will always favour moving elephants until they run out of places to move them to and that the money can be found to do this. I believe enough people care about elephants that they will pay not to see them culled, and as the money will be either donated directly to AP or to other organisations e.g. IFAW who will pass it on, then the fact that you and some others might not see this as a good use of money while that is an argument, isn’t really relevant. I don't see IFAW's projects rescuing cats and dogs off the streets of China or whatever they do, as a good use of money which is why I don't support them (plus I don't agree with their views on hunting) but it is their money, that their supporters have given them and if they think moving elephants around is the best way to spend it, then that's what they will do. I perfectly well accept that a day will come when there really is nowhere left that elephants can be translocated to, at that point then if contraception has been shown to be unworkable, it would be necessary to cull. I don’t want to change this thread into an argument about whether culling is humane or not and acceptable or not. However, purely because you suggested that culling is more humane than translocation I couldn’t ignore the issue entirely. I understand that when elephants were culled, the matriarch was immobilised from a helicopter using a dart containing the drug scoline, once she was down the rest of the herd would remain with her so they too could be darted. Once they were all safely down, the ground team would then move in, they walk amongst the conscious but effectively paralysed elephants shooting them one by one until the entire herd was dead. Well not quite the entire herd, generally, as used to be done the calves would be given a different drug M99 to anaesthetise them so that they could be captured and sold, now I doubt this would be considered and they would be killed as the more humane option. The reason scoline was used as the drug of choice rather than M99 is that M99 would taint the meat rendering it unfit for human consumption. For livestock farmers in the UK and in South Africa and elsewhere administering drugs to their animals, there is a very strict withdrawal period prior to slaughter, within a set number of days of slaughter, certain drugs cannot be administered, this allows enough time for the drug to pass through the animal’s system, so that no residue or only a safe residue is left. For culling elephants, it is clearly impossible to use any drug that has a withdrawal period, therefore, either you use scoline, which is considered inhumane as all the animals are conscious when they are being killed, then you can sell the meat, or you use a more humane drug like M99 and then can’t sell the meat. Or perhaps you just shoot the elephants and don’t use any drugs, but can entire herds be killed humanely this way? For the benefit of those unfamiliar with the issue of drug residues here’s a link to an article from the South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association Dangers of Residue from Tranquilising Drugs To return to Majete, I see the importance of Majete at present as breeding black rhinos to boost their numbers, and breeding other game including elephants in order to restock bigger and more important parks like Kasungu. When that job is done and these other parks are full of not just elephants but also sables, kudus, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, zebras etc I would have no issue with antelopes and zebras being culled sustainably to produce meat for local communities. If you go on safari to Namibia just about every lodge or camp or any restaurant you go to, will have game steak on the menu or another game dish, it’s almost always gemsbok because it’s very good meat and easier to cook right than other venison. It doesn’t bother me (but it would some people) that I may have been on a game drive during the day looking at herds of these beautiful oryx and in the then evening I’m presented with a nice juicy gemsbok steak. I know that these animals are not only not endangered, but are extremely common throughout the country and that the meat was sustainably harvested from a game farm/ranch or hunting reserve. If once Majete has fulfilled its role providing animals to restock Malawi’s other parks, I have no issue at all with some animals being cropped for meat on the presumption that the lions would not be able to keep animals numbers in check. It would have to be done in a way that is compatible with tourism, given the point that was made about how much has been invested in tourism, I don’t honestly see tourism being phased out in Majete, unless competition from Malawi’s other parks really starts to reduce tourist numbers.
  4. @Bugs that's very interesting thanks I wasn't aware of Sabie Game Park until you mentioned it,I don't know if it is perhaps intentional but their own website does not indicate where the reserve is on the map, however I assume it adjoins the bottom end of Kruger. I'm pleased to see that I was wrong that there isn't a single black rhino in Moz as the reserve has both species. I was intending at some point to say something about this region, it's good to be made of another reserve I din't know about. Here is a relevant article that mentions the Sabie Game Park. The uphill battle to save rhinos in Mozambique @Paolo's comment ties in with, what I think Michael Eustace said in his interview, that AP hadn’t considered the extent to which countries would be reluctant to outsource the management of their parks. I can see that if AP took on another park in Malawi it would start to look like they’re taking over from the DWNP Malawi entirely, rendering the DWNPM somewhat redundant even if that’s not actually what’s happening and that they are working in partnership. People might think that this indicates that the DWNPM are pretty useless that they can’t manage the country’s parks themselves and need someone else to come in and takeover. I would assume that people in the Malawian government would be mindful of not wanting Malawians to think that they have handed over the countries parks (and heritage) to a foreign organisation. I don’t how robust democracy is in Malawi, and I know that Malawi may not be like say Kenya, but it’s not impossible to imagine some opposition politician, stirring up trouble for political gain, by suggesting that the government has privatised the parks and sold them to a foreigners and has given away the country's natural heritage, depriving the people in someway. Nyika NP would be a great park for AP to take on, because although it does include a fair amount of Miombo, up on the plateau you’ve got huge areas of Afromontane grassland/moorland, carpeted with wildflowers in the wet season, there are over 200 different orchid species in the park, not to mention the other wildlife. From the point of view of protecting different biomes securing Nyika would make a lot of sense, but I don’t see that happening for the reasons that Paolo has given. What I do see is that AP will help with the other the parks by carrying out game translocations when necessary, including moving more elephants and can obviously offer advice when asked. Taking on Lengwe makes sense purely because it is right next to Majete, I certainly don’t think that AP should try to take over all of Malawi’s parks nor that they would want to. I’m assuming as already mentioned earlier that it is perhaps unlikely that AP will work in Tanzania at least at present, otherwise Kitulo and Uduzungwa Mts would be two very important parks to take on from the point of view of protecting as many different biomes as possible. Besides Buffalo Springs and Shaba in Kenya, I think that having recently secured Pendjari in Benin that if possible securing another park or parks in West Africa would be a priority, particularly in my view one of the parks protecting an area of Upper Guinea Rainforest, in say Ivory Coast or Liberia. I don’t say this with any knowledge as to whether or not AP has approached these or other West African countries, or whether this is therefore likely, only that I would see taking on a national park like say Tai Forest in Ivory Coast if that’s possible, as being more important from a conservation standpoint than taking on Kasungu in Malawi. That’s not to say I think Kasungu is unimportant it certainly isn’t, it’s just that I see AP’s objective as protecting as wide a range of biomes as possible within it’s portfolio of parks and having already acquired Majete, Liwonde and Nkhotakota and I hope soon Kafue, Kasungu would in a sense just be more of same, not really protecting many if any species not present in these other parks. However, I want to see Kasungu protected and likewise Lukusuzi because they contain large areas of habitat and should therefore provide a home for large populations of big game notably elephants and are important from that point of view, and they are both listed as Important Bird Areas. In my view the only role for AP regarding these two parks besides offering advice, would be in translocating elephants and other game animals from Majete and Liwonde or elsewhere if it is decided to restock these parks. On the presumption that the respective DWNP’s may be incapable of resurrecting these parks on their own, then I hope that other organisations will step in if only to provide funding. Part of the value in securing these parks would be to provide a home for surplus elephants from Majete and Liwonde, when those parks next have to deal with having too many. A lot of Malawi’s problems stem from the civil war in Mozambique, as you can see from the first map I added the bottom end of Malawi is completely surrounded by Mozambique. Curiously at the time Malawi under it’s dictator Hastings Kamuzu Banda had allied itself with apartheid South Africa and was to a large degree on the side of the RENAMO rebels in the civil war, even though their actions were often extremely detrimental to Malawi’s economy. Following the Nkomati Peace accords in 1984 South Africa persuaded Malawi to allow RENAMO to establish bases in Malawi, the rebels already passed through the country quite frequently. It is theorised that the governor of Malawi’s Central Bank at the time, John Tembo forged a link between RENAMO and the Malawian Police and a paramilitary organisation called the Malawi Young Pioneers, because he was determined to succeed Banda and become president. He hoped that he would be able to call upon RENAMO if necessary in his bid to secure the presidency. Whatever the case, I’m sure having depleted the game in Mozambique and significantly reduced elephant numbers and all but wiped out rhinos RENAMO rebels would have crossed into Malawi’s parks to hunt for meat and for ivory and rhino horn to fund their war. On top of this, an estimated 1 million refugees fled into Malawi, at one point the country had the highest percentage of refugees, relative to its own people of any country in the world. Not all of these people will have gone home and new refugees have arrived recently because recent fighting between RENAMO and the government. Of course, the borders have always been porous, and thanks to us Brits and our Portuguese friends, as well as these recent events, there are large numbers of people like the Wayao and the Sena amongst others who live in both countries, it’s no surprise they don’t much respect lines on a map. This recent history has contributed to the fact that Malawi is very densely populated and has obviously had a big impact on the wildlife and the national parks. I will now go back to more or less what I had intended to post before I got distracted by Lengwe but will add it as a separate post.
  5. @kittykat23uk Yes correct it is a scarlet-throated tanager from northeast Brazil, over to you.
  6. @Soukous Well you’re right about one thing colour does come into its name, but I was being deliberately mean with my choice of photo, since the bird I posted doesn’t actually have any of the colour concerned on it. @lmSA84 That’s a good guess because, I have just read some information on my bird and it did say that the females and young males are often mistaken for Chopi blackbirds. What you really need is a photo of a mature male, he looks like this. That should make it a tiny bit easier.
  7. @TulipsI'm not sure I'd caught up with the golden monkey photos until this evening, a beautiful species that I've never seen, I have though seen the yellow bird before and it is exactly as @Alexander33 says a white-starred robin.
  8. @Geoff I wasn't totally sure but I thought they had a certain Aussie look about them. Since some of the new additions have been identified very quickly I thought I'd offer up what might prove to be a challenge, if no one can offer a good guess then I'll give some clues, but for now you'll just have to make do with the photo.
  9. @Geoff It would have taken me a long time to get that warbler right, although I might have got in the end as the clue was in the fact that it was a twitch, which ruled any of the common warblers, I knew the previous two, but decided not to jump in but didn't think anyone would get them that quickly. As for this pair I will take a punt and say I can't see any wattles, maybe because they are hidden from view or these are young birds, but I think they could be red wattlebirds.
  10. Thanks @douglaswise I was working on an entirely different post, which I was almost on the point of adding, however, following your comment about the size of Lengwe, I’ve now written something new and entirely different, to what I was originally going to post. The outline on my map above is the one produced by MAPA, their accompanying information about the park states that it is 12,042 ha, I didn’t question this and just took this size and the size they give for Majete and did some simple maths, to get the size difference. The question which your comment throws up is have MAPA got the boundaries and size of Lengwe incorrect, I suspect the answer is yes they have. Knowing that Lengwe was established to protect Malawi’s only population of common nyala, I thought that a quick way to find a map showing the park, would be to look up common nyala on the IUCN Red List website go to the distribution map and zoom in on the little blob in south Malawi. With these IUCN maps if the base map is set to Nat Geo, then when you zoom in enough it shows national parks, doing this shows the park looking much like MAPA show it, Google Maps also show this boundary but clearly this doesn’t match the Malawi Tourism Guide website map you linked to. Searching the web, I have found other maps which do match the Malawi Tourism map, I do also have a paper map of Malawi and thought this might give me the answer, but while I think it shows Lengwe as on the Malawi Tourism map, it’s marked on so faintly that it’s very hard to tell. However, I then thought actually I’ve got Michelin maps covering the whole of Africa with the parks marked on them, I’ll have look at the one for south of the Equator and see what it tells me. I actually have two copies of this particular map because my first is so old that it is falling apart, so I bought a new one but I still kept the old one, the old version from 1984 shows little ‘Old Lengwe’ the newer one from 1998 shows the enlarged Lengwe NP. On the Malawi Tourism Guide website if you click the interactive map and then zoom in, because they’ve used Google Maps for the base map it doesn’t match their own map, so the pin they added for Lengwe is nowhere near the little park that the map shows. The information about Lengwe on Wikipedia perhaps throws some light on the matter, it says the following Wikipedia Lengwe National Park Clearly what is shown by MAPA and Google Maps is Old Lengwe, and if it is 120 km2 that would match the MAPA figure of 12,042 ha, and this is incorrect, the park as shown on the Malawi Tourism Guide website is correct. What I can’t quite understand then, is if the extension was added in 1975, why are MAPA etc are so out of date and only showing Old Lengwe. A Malawi guide book that I have says that the park is 887 km2 and also says that the boundary of Lengwe is the Malawi Mozambique border but the your unlikely to go anywhere near this area, only the Old Lengwe area in the eastern section of the park has been in any way developed and opened for tourism, the book illustrates this area, but the map as drawn suggests that this is not the entire park. I think this partially explains the confusion, simply the larger western section that was added on, has been in theory kept as wilderness and had no development and therefore no one really goes there. I thought the larger boundary was more likely to be correct, as when I first zoomed in on this area on Google Earth, I thought it does still look pretty much like wild bush, with just cultivation around the areas where the boundaries should be. If this is correct then it puts a rather different perspective on what I posted before, it would seem to make the parks much easier to join together, since it means that the boundaries are in fact at the narrowest distance just under 4 miles apart. Of course, having said that it doesn’t make it necessarily any easier, the issue from the point of view of connecting the parks is that with Majete fenced to keep elephants and lions in and protect rhinos and so on, you can’t just have an open corridor, the corridor or corridors would have to be fenced, that means the land has to effectively become park. There may though be a bigger problem, having actually zoomed on the area again on Google Earth, I can in fact see a certain amount of cultivation, where at first I thought there was none. This makes me assume that there are some illegal farms inside the park, that people have moved in and cleared fields, I assume that if there had been people farming there before the area was added to the park, they would have been removed. I wrote the following part before I'd seen that there appear to be people farming in the parks western section. so what follows was based on the assumption that the park is uninhabited. If you took over a little bit of farm land and created a narrow corridor and then fenced it, that would obviously be a huge inconvenience for the people living on each side, if they can’t cross the corridor because of the fence. An idea that occurred to me is that in fact if you made the corridor very narrow just wide enough to allow game to move from one part of the combined park to the other, with maybe a road for rangers and even tourists to use, you could perhaps have a tunnel or tunnels underneath to allow people to pass from one side to other. I’m assuming that tunnels for people might work better than for animals, however, alternatively you could fence Lengwe separately but bring the fence close enough to Majete at one point to leave a corridor for people and have a wildlife tunnel connecting the two parks. So that you would basically fence the existing boundary of Lengwe and then include a quite narrow fenced strip or better a couple of strips that would project out towards Majete, perhaps at each end of the gap or maybe nearer the middle but still a good distance apart. The strips/corridors would project far enough to then link the two parks using just a very short wildlife tunnel, if the tunnels were too long animals might not use them. Assuming that the tunnels would work with the fencing, wildlife (and park traffic) could then move in either direction through the tunnel and farmers could cross over the top to get from one side of the corridor to the other. This’s just an idea off the top of my head, knowing that in Kenya they have built at least a couple of tunnels to allow elephants to pass under major roads and they do use them, it might seem like a slightly unusual idea, but I don't think a crazy one, if done right it should work. This thought came to me as a bit of a lightbulb moment, but then thinking about it a bit more later, I remembered one slight complication, the river, and thought maybe tunnels aren’t going to work, but actually I would have thought that some clever person could work out a way to bridge the river, and still perhaps use tunnels but away from the river. It just struck me that with a bit of imagination, and subject to cost, there could be a way to create a link between the two parks that the animals would use to cross from one to the other, yet would only require a very minimal number of people to give up land and perhaps move elsewhere. While at the same time not causing a major problem for the local people living between the two parks. Otherwise, I see the that the problem with trying to just combine the parks as one, is the number of people living along the Mwanza River in between the two. If you are dealing with a large number of people, I think paying them handsomely to voluntarily move somewhere else, sounds good in theory, but probably wouldn’t really work, where would you find better land that they could go to, and in any case perhaps they have ancestral attachments to the land and may not want to leave, however generous an offer you make. Whereas if you could make the tunnel/bridge idea work so that the corridor or corridors linking the two parks are very narrow, you’d then only have to persuade a very small number of people to give up land and move. If there are in fact people living within the extension area, then that could seriously complicate matters, even if they are there illegally. Removing people from protected areas is always controversial and so often is done completely the wrong way, at least when it’s governments doing it, as they have a tendency to be heavy handed, and are not very good at delivering the promised compensation, or better land afterwards. If people as I assume is the case are there illegally then the the authorities would likely see no need to compensate them at all, especially as I suspect that many of them are likely to be Mozambicans. While it would seem like a great idea for AP to take on Lengwe, if there are people living illegally inside the park they may be reluctant to do so, I would be interest to know what the real situation is. I haven't found much information online. Apart from a recent article about the arrest of a group of illegal loggers made up of Malawians, Mozambicans and a couple of Chinese who were involved in a serious large scale illegal logging operation felling mopane trees in Lengwe, I've really only found one reference to people residing illegally in the park. LENGWE LOGGERS PUT BEHIND BARS The following mentions people living in the park Rural livelihoods and subsistence cultivation: From extinguishment to co-existence? Case of indigenous communities around Lengwe National Park, southern Malawi. In light of what the loggers were doing and able to get away with prior to their eventual arrest, it seems quite likely that there could be a few people living and farming illegally inside the park. Leaving aside that thorny issue, before deciding to try and join the parks you’d want to know that it’s going to be worth the effort. If the two parks were joined and both securely fenced this would allow elephants and lions back into Lengwe. The main benefit as I see it would to be to improve the genetic viability of animal populations by allowing natural gene flow between Majete and Lengwe, this would be good for lions where the population can only ever be pretty small, but would help herbivores as well. If Lengwe really is roughly 900 km2 then fencing it would also be good from the point of view of trying to grow the rhino population. If the two parks were connected then you wouldn’t need to capture animals to move them from one to the other, I would only advocate doing this if the combined park could be fully protected just as well as Majete is protected now. When I thought Lengwe was far smaller than Majete, I didn’t see much merit in considering this, but now I know that it may in fact be larger than Majete I can see potential in doing this. For me doing this would be more about the benefits to all of the larger species, than just a way of creating more space for the elephants, the elephant population would still become overpopulated again, it would just take a little bit longer to reach this point. It would appear from Google Earth the land over the border in Mozambique has a fair bit of cultivation, so I don’t think there would be any prospect of creating a transfrontier park out of Majete and Lengwe and expanding that way. Having found a map online showing the correct much larger version of Lengwe, using this map as a guide I copied a new map taken from MAPA and Google Earth and modified it painting on this much larger boundary using Photoshop.I think that the boundary is approximately correct as I’ve drawn it, it does match the map shown in the article about the illegal loggers reasonably well, I hadn't the article when I drew the map. This boundary has to be correct and the smaller boundary shown by MAPA incorrect, it's very unlikely that they would have extended the park in 1975, to protect the headwaters of the rivers, but then later removed this extension. Lengwe NP map I have actually found online some scans of large scale maps of Malawi but they appear to have been printed in 1975, and from what I can see the relevant shows Old Lengwe, whether they have printed an updated version I wouldn’t know, but I suspect I’d have to visit a shop in Lilongwe or Blantyre to find one. Bordering Lengwe to the east is fields of sugar cane, this is marked on the map as the Nchalo Sugar Estate, if you put elephants back into Lengwe I think to make sure the fences on the eastern boundary are up to the job, they wouldn’t be very happy to have a herd of elephants break into their cane fields. South Malawi map Majete-Blantyre map I also found a vegetation map which may be of interest Vegetation map Whether any of what I have suggested above makes any sense, would likely depend on the question of whether or not there are people illegally occupying areas of the park and if there are, how easy it would be to remove them, clearly Lengwe can't be fenced off while there are people living in it, I have tried to find out what I can online, but probably one would really need to speak to conservationists on the ground in Malawi to find out what the true situation in Lengwe is. I will return to what I was going to post another time
  11. @AfricIan in reference to your earlier comment. Closer to home if you are in the UK, Liverpool is a World Heritage site and is on the at-risk list because of planned developments on the city’s waterfront that are deemed wholly inappropriate. ‘Final warning’: Liverpool's Unesco status at risk over docks scheme It’s not just in war torn parts of Africa or in countries with governments that have questionable priorities as in Tanzania’s case where World Heritage Sites are at risk. I'm not a fan of dam building, but I recognise that it can be a good way to generate electricity, I would assume in the case of Norway leaving aside any ecological cost, that the number of people impacted by dam construction would be small, as I'm guessing (I've not been to Noway) that most of the dams may be in areas that are pretty sparsely populated. I'm willing to stand corrected but I can't imagine a Norwegian dam potentially impacting 200,000 people, as WWF are claiming will be the case with the Rufiji dam. I do agree though that we shouldn't tell the Tanzanians what to do, I do also think it's perhaps unfortunate that Tanzanian democracy is not of a standard that there are Tanzanians, who could present a strong enough case to at least make the government think again, so that I would feel that both sides have been properly considered and debated. Mind you here in the UK that hasn't stopped the government from pushing on with the great white elephant HS2, which will see this in my view quite unnecessary railway line laid through perhaps 98 ancient woodland sites and other ecologically important habitats, for what I think will be very little gain. Perhaps this dam will bring huge benefits to Tanzania, but I tend to think although I've not been there that the loss of Steigler's Gorge is a heavy price to pay, I suppose as some might say it's a case of omelettes and eggs. If you are in the USA then Everglades NP is on the at-risk list. List of World Heritage in Danger
  12. @douglaswise Your point about fencing the Serengeti is an interesting one, but I would think a complete non-starter regardless of whether or not you could find donor money to fund it, if you are talking about the entire ecosystem then in Tanzania this would include the whole of the NCA and also the Loliondo Game Control Area and then in Kenya the Maasai Group Ranches. The whole point of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area when it was established was that people would continue to live in it and they certainly do, I don’t know what the current population today is, but an article from 2013 says there are 42,200 Maasai people living in the NCA, they can I believe still if necessary take their livestock down into the Crater but they are not allowed to live there or cultivate there at all, in the rest of the NCA though they’re more or less free to roam as they please, the Crater only makes up a tiny of portion the 822,840 ha of the NCA. I don’t know how many people there are living in the LGCA or on the group ranches in Kenya, but the wildebeest make use of all of these areas that fall within the Serengeti Ecosystem, but are outside the Serengeti NP or Maasai Mara NR. I don’t see how you can possibly fence in areas that have thousands of people and livestock living in them, and you can’t obviously move the people out, nor can you purely fence off the park, preventing the wildebeest and other animals from using the wider ecosystem, without having a negative impact. Even if you could fence off the NCA with the park, this would then close off the wildlife corridor linking the NCA with Tarangire NP and I presume that linking Tarangire to Lake Natron. The radio collaring of animals in Tarangire NP shows that they do move as far as Lake Natron. You could certainly fence the western and southwestern boundaries of the park or adjoining game reserves if this hasn’t been done already, to protect the wildebeest and other wildlife from meat poaching which has always been an issue on the Lake Victoria side, because of the large population living between the park and the lake.. However, I take your point that really any area can in theory be fenced, the only limiting factor is the cost. On this FZS page you can view a map of the Serengeti Ecosystem, in Kenya it only shows the Maasai Mara National Reserve and not group ranches and conservancies. Here’s a link to the Tazanian Wildlife Corridors website that shows the area and the corridors Within the corridors shown is the Manyara Ranch I understand that many of the species found on the ranch simply would not survive were it not for the surrounding corridor, the ranch itself was established to help try to keep these corridors open for wildlife. Here’s another link WHERE ARE THE ELEPHANTS CORRIDORS AND OTHER WILDLIFE CROSSINGS IN NORTHERN TANZANIA? Simply allowing animals to move around is a benefit, but in Hwange’s case that may not of course happen because of the waterholes, even so purely for genetic reasons it is a good idea to try and maintain connectivity between populations, not just of elephants but all animal species. I’m not certain what the solution is for Hwange, but I believe that for some overcrowded elephant populations, it is still realistic to establish wildlife corridors, connecting them to areas where there are currently too few elephants. I don’t accept this notion that everywhere is full up with elephants, that there aren’t places that they can move to where this is not yet the case. (I will say more on this later in relation to other locations, but at the moment I want to stick to Malawi) Corridors linking areas that have an overabundance of elephants, to other areas that also have an overabundance of elephants, clearly won’t do anything about the number of elephants, but they will still have benefits in terms of genetics as mentioned and will also benefit other species. So, there is a point to establishing wildlife corridors besides the elephant overpopulation issue. However, the question of establishing wildlife corridors in the context of say Majete and inside Malawi generally would be a somewhat moot point, outside of protected areas almost all of Malawi is cultivated, whatever migration routes may have existed in the past are long gone and cannot be recreated. To help understand the situation, I have used Photoshop to produce some maps taken from Google Earth and MAPA (Mapping Africa’s Protected Areas, this is a layer for Google Earth that you can freely download, if you don’t already have it, just click this link MAPA and it should just download, I assume you already need to have Google Earth). MAPA is very useful for looking at national parks and reserves on Google Earth however, I don’t know how often it’s updated, but some of the boundaries that come up are not exactly correct. In the case of Liwonde NP if you zoom in on Google Earth on the area within the boundary that MAPA shows, you can see in the top corner of the park a huge area of cultivation, while what must be the correct boundary is clearly visible roughly 1.5 miles to the west, because the change between cultivated and uncultivated is very obvious. Mistakes, aside the general location of the park is otherwise correct and I assume that the other parks are likewise also more or less shown correctly even if the boundaries may be a tiny bit off. You can zoom in a little bit on my maps, but if you really want to Zoom in for a closer look then you’ll need to do that on Google Earth having perhaps first installed MAPA. You could in theory establish a corridor between Majete and Lengwe NP because the distance is only 8 miles in a straight line, however, given that Majete is fenced it would likely be more a question of merging the two parks, by fencing Lengwe and joining it to Majete. Really the only way to do this would be to pay for the people living in between the two to voluntarily move somewhere else, this might be difficult if the people didn’t want to move, and acquiring new land for them might not be that easy anyway. You might need to annex a significant area of land in my view to make it really worthwhile doing this, because Majete which is itself not huge is roughly 6 times the size of Lengwe, I’m not sure how much you’d gain, if you just established a narrow corridor. It might be worth considering if there was a realistic chance of acquiring the land, but, if you going to start removing people, then there has to be absolutely no hint of coercion involved. With Liwonde there is really nowhere to establish a wildlife corridor to other than the Liwonde Hills Forest Reserve but I presume there would be little to be gained from this. Or going north the Mangochi Mountain Forest Reserve, which appears to virtually adjoin the park and is designated as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International, this would necessitate fencing the reserve and effectively incorporating in to the park. Maintaining a fence around Liwonde is vital to protect the rhinos and prevent human wildlife conflict, whether it would be worthwhile to do, this either to better protect the forest or expand the area available to elephants and other animals, I don’t know. I tend to think though that the elephants would prefer to spend most of their time down by the Shire River and Lake Malombe than up in the Miombo woodlands on the mountain, I don’t suppose there’s much water in the dry season up in the forest reserve. The problem for Liwonde was well illustrated in a TV news report on elephant poaching last year, the journalist was flown over the park by AP and the boundary was very obvious because it could have been drawn with a ruler, on one side was woodland and the other maize crops. You can essentially see this on Google Earth as I said earlier regarding MAPA’s incorrect park boundary and this does illustrate why a fence around Liwonde really is essential. When it comes to some of Malawi’s parks specifically those on the country’s border with Zambia, then there is certainly a lot to be gained from establishing wildlife corridors linking them to Zambia’s parks. While there are a lot of people and cultivation between Kasungu NP in Malawi and Lukusuzi NP in Zambia, the shortest distance between their boundaries is just under 7 miles that is clearly no distance at all for elephants to cross. I would think that it should be entirely possible to find ways to establish corridors for elephants over such a short distance without impacting people too much, whether by finding ways to protect people’s crops or even persuading just a few people to voluntarily move to create a narrow corridor or a couple of corridors. Elephants generally cross hostile territory at speed and at night, if they know they are not welcome they’re not likely to hang around, I tend to think that they would very quickly learn where the safe corridors are and start to use these areas to get across. Perhaps with a bit of imagination you could establish some kind of small community wildlife reserve in between the two to act as the corridor and this could in someway be funded through tourism. Tourist could perhaps visit this area and stay with local people to experience life in rural Zambia, or maybe you could charge tourists visiting either of the two parks a small levy that would be used to compensate those farmers willing to give up land for the corridor. I don’t know I’m just thinking off the top of my head, I don’t know what would work best. I’m pretty sure that the elephant population in both of these parks has been badly depleted by poachers that is certainly the case in Kasungu so I would think there is considerable room for the elephant population to expand here, if these parks can be protected properly which I don't think is the case with Lukusuzi. Map of the Malawi-Zambia Transfrontier Conservation Area and other nearby parks/reserves Further north, the entire area within the TFCA between Vwaza Marsh and North Luangwa NP is comprised of protected areas, apart from the Lundazi Forest Reserve I mentioned earlier, I don’t know the specific names off the top of my head or where all of the different boundaries are. The map on the following website showing the protected areas of Zambia shows the entire area marked in green. Zambian Protected Areas Nyika National Park in Malawi is the countries largest, a tiny portion of the Nyika Plateau is over the border in Zambia and this is protected in an adjoining park also called Nyika National Park. So, in the case of Malawi for some parks, fences are absolutely essential to prevent human wildlife conflict, keeping elephants and lions and other animals in and also to protect the most at-risk species like black rhinos and even just general game from meat poachers. For other parks putting up fences at least all the way round is not only unnecessary but should be resisted for as long as possible to maintain corridors connecting them to other conservation areas. As mentioned earlier Vwaza Marsh is partially fenced on the south east side to avoid conflict with farmers, I don’t know to what extent Kasungu is fenced if at all, but parts or all of the Malawian side could be fenced to protect farmers and on the Zambian rather than keep the entire border open it could be partially fenced where it does not need to be kept open,and left open in certain places to maintain a corridor/s to Lukusuzi. Moving elephants as AP did in Malawi is a challenging and costly operation, far better surely to allow them to move themselves via wildlife corridors, for as long as it is possible to maintain such corridors. Since the Niassa Reserve has been mention earlier and Selous was mentioned I added both to the map, if something can be done to get on top of the poaching situation in both parks then maintaining a corridor between the two will be very important for the elephants. Testing of illegal ivory has shown that the overwhelming majority of savannah elephant ivory comes from the Selous/Niassa ecosystem. For further interest on the subject of elephants the following article recounts the story of Malawi’s last free-range elephant population the Phirilongwe herd, in order to protect the local population from these elephants to prevent the elephants from being eventually wiped out, the controversial decision was taken in 2009 to capture the entire herd and move them to Majete. AP didn’t particularly want the extra elephants but agreed to take them anyway. Besides the fact that it was a shame that there was really no way to keep the elephants where they were, it was perhaps also a shame that there was not another safe alternative to Majete back then that they could have gone to instead. Of course, I suppose it is possible that some of these elephants could have been amongst those moved on from Majete to Nkhotakota, I wouldn’t know. Tuskers’ Last Stand
  13. Somewhat controversially a few years back a large lodge Twyfelfontein Country Lodge was built within the buffer Zone of the World Heritage Site, although they did take some care to see to it that the lodge blended in with it’s surroundings, one might question why this was allowed. I have only stopped at the lodge very briefly to have lunch on the way past, I’ve not stayed here so I can comment on what it is like as a place to say, other than it is a little bit large for my liking. It is however a handy place to stay if you want to visit the engravings, the actual main site where the majority of the engravings can be found is the other side of the rocky hill behind the lodge. There are though some engravings within the grounds of the lodge at a little site known as Seremonienplatz The Place of Ceremonies, this is a little area around the huge rock on the left side of the following panorama. Although there is only a fraction of the number of engravings as there are at the main site these engravings are certainly worth looking at, if you are stopping at the lodge. You can see some of the engravings on the rock on the left Giraffe Human hand Giraffes, zebras and ostriches There are other animals in the photo above including what appears to be a possible rhino bottom left, there may also be a couple of antelopes possibly gemsbok though they don't seem to have horns any obvious horns. Zebras Ostrich White rhino The shape of this rhinos head suggests that it's probably a white rhino these animals were found in much of northern Namibia and there are reintroduced populations in various places today, whether the Khoisan artists were portraying white rhinos that they had actually seen in the vicinity of Twyfelfontein, or whether they had seen them elsewhere I don't know, but Twyfelfontein as it is today would be too dry for these animals, but not for black rhinos. It is therefore perhaps possible that it could depict a black rhino, but I think it shows more resemblance to a white one. The view from Seremonienplatz, the rhino above is in amongst a jumble of other animals on rock on the left. The art is not the only reason you might want to stop, out in front on the way in, some distance away is a river, from our high vantage point in the lodge dining room during an entirely acceptable lunch, we could just make out some large shapes moving amongst the distant river side trees. Namibia’s famed desert elephants aren’t always easy to find it was just pure luck that this herd was resting in the shade beside the river at Twyfelfontein, there’s no guarantee that if you drop in or stay at this lodge that you will find them, but it is a possibility.
  14. The next time, when I went back to the same field a few days later, I made sure I was a lot more careful and approached the fence from behind some small trees. In the late evening, positioning myself against one of the trees I had a slightly more successful time and was able to get some nice shots of the same two well grown kids from last year, that I’d seen on my previous visit. Satisfied that I had probably obtained some good photos, I also took a short video.
  15. I meant to carry on up dating this thread but then for some reason I stalled, so I will now carry on where I left off, with some more shots of western roe deer taken at home in England. Last summer just after I decided to update this thread I thought I’d see I could take a few new deer shots, setting off in the late afternoon at the beginning ofJuly, I headed for a field next to a wood where I can almost guarantee there will be at least one roe deer, usually more. I walked up to the top of a hill and then a short distance to the corner of the field, went over to the fence expecting to spot a deer but saw nothing. Deciding that it looked like there were no deer there, I walked along the fence to get to suitable place where I could climb over, concentrating on not catching myself on the barbed wire or dropping my camera, I carefully crossed into the field, only to find just as I was putting my foot down, that there was in fact a group of four deer just a few feet away beyond some long grass, that I had completely failed to notice. A buck, a doe and two big kids, I had no option but to just try and crouch down behind the grass and hope they hadn’t spotted me. Of course, the buck had seen me and didn’t think he liked what he saw, I tried to keep still but inevitably when you have to freeze you’re always in a not very comfortable position, I hoped if I kept still he might not be able to see enough of me and would settle down. At the same time, I was hoping I might be able to get a couple of shots before they spooked, however my autofocus kept fixing on the waving grass stems and not the deer. I managed to take one shot which I assumed would be a dud and then attempted to reposition myself to get a clear shot free of the grass, as I did so the buck looked in my direction, gave a loud bark and bounded off, followed by the other three. In fact, my one photo turned out OK Cursing my carelessness, I decided to keep walking out across the field and then over to the wood, I didn't find anything else to photograph inside the wood, but on returning much later to the field, I found that the deer had in fact come back and I was able to take a number of photos, however they were quite some distance away, and the following crop of the doe and her kid was the nicest shot I took.

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