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Found 13 results

  1. The news regarding the status of lions in many parts of Central and West Africa recently has generally been pretty bleak with no lions being reported at all in quite a few national parks where they were once found. One such park where there has been no sign of any lions for nearly 20 years suggesting that they had become extinct is Bateke NP in south east Gabon on the border with Congo Brazzaville. This huge plateau of largely open grassland with scattered pockets of forest was the only place in Gabon where lions had been known to occur but all evidence suggested that they were long gone like the extinct southern reedbuck that they once would have hunted. So the news that a trail camera has captured footage of lion walking a game trail on the Bateke Plateau is just extraordinary I just hope that wherever he came from that he brought some lionesses with him or that someone will turn up from somewhere. I hope also that as southern reedbuck are still very common in many other parts of Africa that one day some will be reintroduced to Bateke NP.
  2. I was very pleased to read the following story in the Daily Telegraph this morning, it would appear from looking up this story on their website that they are moving towards being a subscription only site so you may not be able to read the full story. However I have found the same story in the Sun so I will provide a link to that as well. British Army Gurkha 'super-tracker' hunting poachers in Gabon to save last remaining elephants The Gurkhas are extremely well trained in the art of jungle warfare mainly in Brunei but I presume also in Belize and when it comes to tracking Corporal Rai is clearly the best of the best, the British Army has actually been involved in ranger training in Gabon since 2015, I hope that the skills that Corporal Rai can pass on will really start to turn the tide. Forest elephants have been taking a real hammering in recent years and evidence shows that they reproduce very slowly and that the effect of poaching is even worse than it is for their savannah cousins and could cause their extinction and without intervention certainly will cause the extinction of some populations. Like the lowland gorillas that share these forests the forest elephant is a vital component of the ecology of the rainforests of Gabon and the wider Congo Basin distributing the seeds of many different tree species. Their loss would have a huge impact on the fauna and flora of this region. Besides the ecological impact, if Gabon is ever to seriously get its act together and develop a proper wildlife tourist industry then it needs to ensure that it's elephants are safe so that tourist will be able to visit and see them as I did. It is the sad reality of poaching in Africa that rangers need to have not only excellent tracking skills but also proper combat training to deal with the people that they are up against and I am extremely glad that the British Army is helping to provide the necessary training, in particular some of our Gurkha soldiers. ONE-MAN TUSKFORCE ‘Super tracker’ soldier deployed to Africa on a mission to save elephants from cold-blooded poachers
  3. ~ The June, 2017 news article from Agence France Presse explains the need for solar-powered electric fences to deter forest elephants from damaging crops raised by small farmers in Gabon. Prof. Lee White, Director of Gabon's National Park Agency, wants 500 electric fences to protect villagers’ fields. He said that poaching has encouraged forest elephants to move closer to villages.
  4. Gabon's President declared a new marine protected areas network that will cover fourth of the Gabinese waters. Small areas will be protected with strict protected areas where high restrictions will be applied (marine parks), others much larger aim to control legal activities such as fisheries and oil production. The idea is to save help regenerate main fisheries in the country, monitor the stocks throughout the years, and protect reproduction areas along the coast. If correctly implemented by Lee White, Head of the Gabon protected areas system, this would be a pioneering step for an African nation. Quotes: The network of marine protected areas covers some 53,000 square kilometers (20,463 square miles) of ocean, an area larger than Costa Rica. The marine parks and reserves could also draw tourists eager to catch a glimpse of the humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) and leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) that all shuttle through Gabonese waters. Government officials are in the process of overhauling how they manage fisheries, and they hope the move to protect Gabon’s territorial waters will improve the country’s food security and give its citizens a better chance to earn a living from fishing. Further news in French are available on the Facebook website of the Agence Nationale Des Parcs Nationaux Du Gabon:
  5. ~ This research article from the African Journal of Ecology and an explanatory article from New Scientist describe Osteolaemus tetraspis, Dwarf Crocodile, living in caves in Gabon. Bat guano in the water causes the crocodile hide to turn orange. Juvenile crocodiles living in the caves show particularly strong body mass.
  6. I’ve been meaning to post something on this for a while; I think that Travel News is probably the best place for it, rather than adding it to my old trip report, @@Game Warden if you think it would be better somewhere else please move it. Recently there was a thread If you could open a safari camp well if you’re looking for a serious challenge and you’re willing to take on a serious ‘fixer upper’ and you’ve got a pile of spare cash down the back of the sofa how about instead of a safari camp buying an old abandoned plantation house on a beautiful paradise island. Eight years ago back in 2008 I had the good fortune to visit Gabon and the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe since then while I’ve tried to keep up with anything that might be going on Gabon I haven’t really paid that much attention to São Tomé and Príncipe Africa’s second smallest country after the Seychelles. When I returned from that trip I joined Flickr and uploaded some photos but with a free account you could then only upload 200 so I didn’t upload as many as I might have and the ones I did upload I’d made very small. Just recently I decided I should replace many of these Flickr photos with slightly bigger versions and also add some additional shots. When I put photos online I always like to give them a proper title and if I have time a brief description however my memory of some of the places I visited is slightly sketchy and I’m really not certain if I’ve remembered what I was told by the guide properly. So I decided to see what I could find on the web about some of the places I visited on Príncipe the smaller of the two main islands to update the information that I’d added to my photos. During my stay on the island I stayed at the Bom-Bom Island Resort as I described in my trip report Gabon and São Tomé & Príncipe 10th Feb to 2nd March 2008 at the time aside from some simple guesthouses this was the only accommodation on the island. From there we took a day tour to some of the sights on Príncipe this included a working cacao plantation called Roça Belo Monte although it was still a working plantation the main plantation house was abandoned. The house was in a slightly sorry state but not a complete ruin unlike some of the other plantation houses on the island, our guide for the day found a key to the house and showed us around. In my report I stated that a Portuguese family had bought and restored the house but had then just upped and left for some reason I don’t know why but it seemed as if they had just walked out the door and never come back. I don’t know any more details or when they left but if the house was restored sometime after independence that would explain why it was in much better state than other plantation houses on the island. Most of the plantations were abandoned in 1975 following independence. According to my Bradt Guide that I had at the time it stated that the plantation was back in European hands and certainly there was a Portuguese farmer living in another farmhouse nearby I don't what if any connection he had to the family who lived in the main house. Here are a few of the photos I took Roça Belo Monte on Principe Island, São Tomé & Príncipe by inyathi, on Flickr Entrance gate Roça Belo Monte on Principe Island, São Tomé & Príncipe Our guide in the dining room at Roça Belo Monte Principe Island, São Tomé and Príncipe Old Family Photos Roça Belo Monte on Principe Island, São Tomé & Príncipe, it seemed slightly remarkable that these photos had been left behind. While looking for information on the Roça I discovered that it now looks very different to how it did at the time of my visit. I don’t know the exact details but in 2014 a Zimbabwean Henry Cronje who’d fallen in love with Príncipe began the challenging and no doubt very expensive task of restoring Roça Belo-Monte. Prior to the start of this work back in 2011 they built some new homes for the local people who had taken up residence in some of the buildings. The house is now a luxury boutique hotel and I have to say that although it may lack some of the romance that it had when it was semi-derelict it does look very nice. It has everything you would expect such a hotel to have including a swimming pool and as I can confirm from my visit 8 years ago it is a fantastic location with a great view out to Bom-Bom Island. The view from Roça Belo-Monte showing Ilheu do Bom Bom, São Tomé and Príncipe Just nearby is a viewpoint that overlooks Praia Banana which is said to be the prettiest beach on the island. Praia Banana on Príncipe Island, São Tomé & Príncipe A number of Roças on the main island São Tomé were restored and converted into tourist accommodation some years ago but this is the first time it has been done on Príncipe. Although it is only small it should boost tourism on the island which can only be a good thing. Having been completely unaware of the restoration I was amazed when I saw the photos of what the house now looks like on their website Roça Belo-Monte Hotel On their facebook page you can see some photos of the restoration work Here’s a video in Portuguese showing the president attending the opening of the new hotel. I don’t speak Portuguese but I’m pretty sure they said the investment was dez milhões de dólares which is ten million USD. The following is very brief bit of history that I wrote to go with my photos on Flickr. Despite their proximity to the west coast of Africa these islands were apparently entirely uninhabited when Portuguese navigators João de Santarém and Pero Escobar arrived on the largest of the two main islands on Saint Thomas’s day the 21st of December 1470. The Portuguese quickly settled the islands and were soon importing slaves from the mainland to work in their newly established sugar plantations. The sugar produced here was of poor quality compared to that from elsewhere and from the beginning of the 19th century was replaced with coffee this crop was in turn largely replaced by cocoa. Slavery in the islands’ plantations or roças carried on until 1875 when it was abolished and replaced with a system of contract labour this did not significantly improve the lives of the island’s labour force and the Portuguese continued to import labourers from their mainland colonies. At the beginning of the 20th century the plight of the plantation workers reached the outside world, protests from the Aboriginal Protection Society and the Anti-Slavery Society prompted William Cadbury to send an agent to the islands to investigate. Possibly to protect his company's own commercial interests and to allow time for them to establish their own plantations in the Gold Coast (Ghana) he chose not to act for some years until after he visited the Islands in 1909 to see for himself. Cadburys and other chocolate companies then started a boycott of Cocoa from the Islands. However little changed for the people, they still remained as virtual slaves. In 1953 a descendents of former slaves known as Forros fearing they would be conscripted and forced to work on the plantations protested at Batepa, Portuguese troops attacked the protesters and in the massacre that followed over 1,000 Forros may have been killed. This event sparked the establishment of a liberation movement however despite the Batepa Massacre unlike in Portugal’s mainland colonies there was no war for independence. Following Portugal’s bloodless Carnation Revolution in 1974 the islands demanded their independence and this was granted the following year. Although STP's independence had been achieved peacefully the Portuguese plantation owners fled abandoning their plantations and the islands. Soon afterwards the roças were nationalised by STP’s new Marxist government many of them fell in to disrepair during this period. The history of the islands is fascinating they are both very beautiful with nice beaches and in terms of area they have the highest density of endemic species anywhere in the world. Remarkably given that they are oceanic islands they have a number of endemic frog species but they are really best known for their endemic birds. I visited the islands really as an add on to my trip to Gabon because it was too good an opportunity to miss but didn’t have long enough to do them justice. Afterwards I felt that they could easily be visited as a standalone destination that there’s more than enough to see and do on both islands if you’re looking for a relaxing holiday somewhere few tourists ever get to. Tourism in Gabon has still not really developed or if anything gone backwards since my visit but you could still combine a visit to STP with Gabon as it should at least be possible to visit Loango National Park and do a bit of a safari there. Otherwise it should be possible to visit the islands in combination with a trip to Dzangha-Sangha in CAR or to Congo (Brazzaville). I was quite taken with Roça Belo-Monte and it certainly occurred to me that if done up it would make a great hotel/guesthouse for tourists, it was however Roça Porto Real that really caught my eye. This one is inland so it doesn’t have the beaches quite so nearby but it was clearly once a beautiful house and the views were pretty stunning. I think though in this case a bit of a fixer-upper is an understatement, but as far as I know nothing has been done to it so if anyone fancies a challenge and has got a good few million dollars or hundreds of billions of Dobras they’re not doing anything with, because sadly I don’t. The old plantation house at Roça Porto Real on Principe Island, São Tomé & Príncipe Roça Porto Real on Príncipe Island, São Tomé & Príncipe Roça Porto Real on Príncipe Island, São Tomé & Príncipe Actually there is someone who does have that kind of money down the back of their sofa so to speak and that’s the South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth. I didn’t know until I decided to write about Roça Belo-Monte that a few years ago he bought the Bom-Bom Island Resort where I stayed on my visit to the island and apparently he has big plans for Principe though I don’t suppose it involves restoring Roça Porto Real. There is oil in the waters around STP but so far I don’t think much has happened as far as developing an oil industry is concerned given what the Dobra is worth relative to the USD at present 1 USD is about 21,375.3 Dobra. Even so big change could be just around the corner so we can only hope that it will be positive. That Mr Shuttleworths plans will help to preserve the character, beauty and biodiversity of the islands and help to protect them from whatever change oil might bring. That he won’t in fact spoil the island. Príncipe: a haven on earth The unspoilt beauty of the islands is what will attract tourists, I hope that the arrival of more tourists will help to preserve that beauty and the biodiversity and rather than damage it. I am always keen to promote off the beaten track places and São Tomé & Príncipe is somewhere that one seldom hears anything about, I wouldn’t be surprised if many people here aren’t really even aware of these islands or if they are have never considered visiting them. So when I came across the Roça Belo-Monte Hotel’s website I knew I had to write something about it as it is a very positive development and there haven't been many of those from this region or at least not from Gabon as far as tourism is concerned. Besides I haven’t posted a lot recently and it’s a good excuse to post some photos as well as advertise São Tomé & Príncipe.
  7. A team of the WCS is working hard to create the proposed Ogouee Leketi National Park, actually known as the Lefini Reserve in Central Congo. The area, located close to the frontier with Gabon Bateke National Park, is composed of sandy hills covered with grassy savannas and forest galleries. The team is working with the communities to make sure all the stakeholders are considered in the process of uploading the status of the protected area. The Bateke plateau were once full of wildlife, including gorillas, forest buffaloes and even lions. 15 years ago, when Phillip Henshel traveled in the area looking for lions, he discovered wonderful landscapes, completely wiped out of wildlife. The area on the Gabonese side is now slowly recovering, and upgrading the Congolese side of the frontier is necessary to ensure a strict protection, to control bushmeat hunting. Logging companies have recently been asked to leave the area. A team of researched is currently stationed in one forest clearing of Baï called Mpoh, making ID of all the animals wondering in the clearing.
  8. I found one article about Gabon Loango National Park, which might motivate some persons to discover Gabon.
  9. ~ Gabon's government has implemented strong steps to stop elephant poaching such that Gabon park rangers haven't found poached elephant carcasses for a year, states this article from Bloomberg News. U.K. soldiers have trained rangers in Minkebe National Park in surveillance techniques.
  10. The following NatGeo article reports the last finding of a UNESCO team in the World Heritage Site Dja Faunal Reserve in Southern Cameroun. The team discovered there found more munitions and poaching camps in the area under study than wildlife. In the coming months, the UNESCO will probably analyze the possibility to place the reserve on the list of sites in danger. Dja is located North of Gabon, where poaching severely affect the amazing Minkebe National Park. Gabon states poachers come from the other side of the frontier. If Cameroon has done a great job in Bouba nDjida, it seems Dja has been completely neglected while it protects an exceptional biodiversity.
  11. I am planning a 6 months safari in Africa for november 2018. I will make a round the world trip starting in South-East Asia, India, Tibet, Central Asia and Oman finishing by Africa. My total budget will be around 60.000.000 chilean pesos, that is to say slightly less than 100.000 USD at the current rates. I think the budget for Africa will be from 50.000 to 65.000 USD per person, on the base of two persons traveling. These a re the places we wish to visit. I would really appreciate you can give me some recommendations considering climate to choose the best periods, logistics (self drive or operator options) and budgets. Eastern Africa: Kenya: Tsavo East and West NP, Amboseli NP, Nairobi NP, Mara NR, Lake Nakuru NP. If think I could make this part of the trip in self driving. I would like to go to Diani for 2-3 days. I am looking to trek in Northern Kenya, I was considering a guided trip to Samburu, Buffalo Springs (2 days) and Meru NP (2 days). Wandering Nomads is a company able to realize this trek for me. I would like to trek in Mount Kenya. The trek in Northern Kenya is: Road from Navaisha to Meru National Park (2 days safari) + 2 days of safari in Samburu and Buffalo Springs reserves. Then go North to Ngurunit/Mt Poi, Keisut desert and Losai Reserve - Marsabit and paradise lakes - go back and Southern Circuit to by-pass Chalbi desert - El Molo - Nabuyatom - Logipo Lake - Tuum Trekking Start Tuum Tuum - Mt Nyiru - South Horr - climb Ndoto moutains - Sererit - Milgis river - climb Mathews Range - Wamba. Logistic 4x4 return to Navaisha from Wamba through Losiolo Escarpment) Tanzania: Seregenti, Ngonrogoro, Natron Lake, Manyara, Tarangire. I would consider visits of Selous/Ruaha/Katavi according to budget. I might go to Zanzbar if it fits with my budget. I was considering self drive safaris. Uganda: Rhinos sanctuary, Murchison Falls, Kibale, QENP. Self drive safaris. Rwanda: Nyungwe, Akagera and Les Volcans NP if Virunga is closed to see gorillas... (self drive?) Congo: Kahuzi Biega (2 days) and Virunga (2 days). with operators. Southern Africa: The idea is to rent a car in South Africa and visit many places, possibly hiring guides in some very specific places. South Africa: Santa Lucia, Drakensberg, Addo NP, Hluhluwe Imdolozi NP, Kruger NP, Kglagadi NP. Mozambique: Bazaruto, Gorongosa (?) Namibia: Fish Canyon, Namib Rand (just driving on the road), Sossluvlei, Naukluf, Damaraland, Etosha, Caprivi. Botswana: Moremi, Chobe, Kwai sector of Okavango (?) Zambia: Kafue, Lowe Zambezi Zimbabwe: Mana Pools, Hwangwe Botswana: Kalahari GR, Tuli Extras: 1 month in Gabon (Loango, Nyonie, Lope, Dji Dji, Kongoue, Langoue, Lekedi provate reserve, Mpassa bai, Bateke plateaux. Chad: Zakouma Benin: Pendjari I have quite and idea how I could organize this trip, I would start by Kenya and Tanzania, finishing by Southern Africa. I am not that sure this is the correct way of programing it. When would be the best periods for each destinations according to your experience? When do you recommend me to visit Zakouma, Gabon and Pendjari? Do you recommend me a particular operator for Gabon? Do you agree with self driving in Southern Africa? Is it posible to go with South African rent 4x4 in Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe? Would you recommend me to hire guides in some specific places? I was thinking of Okavango. How can I enjoy of Bazaruto without getting to the top end lodges on the archipelago? I would like to enjoy the beaches and snorkeling on the coast, going to archipelago at a reasonable price if possible. What is the budget for each places? It will be hard to program this trip as I have lot's of questions and I am not sure my budget is sufficient. In this case, I will have to forget some places and focus on the main destinations. Thank you very much for your help! Cheers Jeremie
  12. There are new videos of the lion discovered 2 weeks ago in the Bateke region of Gabon. I think it is lone male without any potential to start any breeding population. What are your thoughts about it?
  13. It will cover 46 000 km2, representing a 23% of Gabon waters. Mayumba national park extension will ensure protection of 26 000 km2 marine hotspot. Humpback whales are really common in the Gabon waters, especially in Mayumba and Loango National Park. The Emirates will provide boats and a radar plane to ensure real protection in the protected areas. For those interested in traveling in Gabon, you can considerer a stay in the excepcional Loango National park to see gorilla, elephants and buffaloes on the beaches, while hippos surf in the waves. Here is an excellent website, a real mine of information about Gabon

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