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Found 9 results

  1. I have been too sad the past few days to post about this. But Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria may have wiped out some endangered species. With storm surges submerging hiding places and winds stripping trees bare, small birds have no options for refuge - both during the storm and for weeks or months afterwards. I have been hearing horror stories about "no vegetation left at all" on Barbuda after Irma. Hard to fathom how Barbuda Warblers could survive - if not the storm, then to evade predators for weeks or months with no hiding or resting places. Not to mention drastically reduced available nesting habitat. The island of Dominica lost a lot of forest - they have never been hit with a storm of Maria's magnitude. Species at risk of extinction on Dominica include: Imperial Parrot and Red-necked Parrot, which occur nowhere else. Endemics found on other islands that were affected by one or both storms include: Blue-headed Hummingbird, Plumbeous Warbler, Forest Thrush, Red-necked Parrot, and Brown Trembler. Bahama Woodstars are an endemic hummingbird that lives only in the Bahamas - and Hurricane Irene stripped all flowers and many leaves from plants. Going forward, I suspect plants will be spending precious resources on staying alive / foliage rather than regrowing flowers. Much of the Kirtland's Warbler population that breeds in Michigan, USA were already on the wintering grounds in the southern Bahamas. Same for Wayne's Black-throated Green Warblers, a subspecies that has a perilously low breeding population in a few coastal swamps in North Carolina and South Carolina. Puerto Rico learned some hard lessons from Hurricane Hugo in 1989 - that storm killed half the world population of Puerto Rican Parrot. They now have colonies established in multiple areas - not just El Yunque National Forest - with the help of artificial nest boxes and a captive breeding population. Adelaide's Warbler is endemic to Puerto Rico but I hope they survive in enough numbers for the population to rebound. Yellow-shouldered Blackbirds in Puerto Rico do not do well at all in tropical storms - and their population has already been brought very low by the invase species Shiny Cowbirds. Though American Flamingos will not be exterminated by 2017 hurricanes, I have heard tragic accounts and have seen horrendous photos of thousands of dead flamingoes in Cuba's Keys (small islands along Cuba's north shore). American Flamingos in the Turks and Cacos and Bahamas were also pummeled. And not only birds are at risk of extinction - but also endemic island populations of lizards, insects, etc. Here are a few research papers on the subject of hurricanes on island endemics: Spiller, D.A., J.B. Losos, and T.W. Schoener. 1998. Impact of a Catastrophic Hurricane on Island Populations, *Science *31 Jul 1998:Vol. 281, Issue 5377, pp. 695-697 Schoener, T.W., D.A. Spiller and J.B. Losos. 2001. Natural restoration of the species-area relation for a lizard after a hurricane. Science 294: 1525-1528. Schoener, T.W., D.A. Spiller and J.B. Losos. 2003. Variable ecological effects of hurricanes: The importance of seasonal timing for survival of lizards on Bahamian islands. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 101:177-181 Spiller, D.A. and T.W. Schoener. 2007. Alteration of island food-web dynamics following major disturbance by hurricanes. Ecology 88:37-41. -- I compiled some of this info from the BIRDCHAT email discussion group / Listserv.
  2. If you wonder why I'm always harping on about payment for ecosystem services, I recommend you read this article (right to the bottom - don't stop halfway). It provides helpful explanations of what nature and healthy ecosystems do for humans, and how we can put economic values on them - meaning a loss of a healthy ecosystem is an economic and humanitarian loss as well. Good explanations on why conserving ecosystems, rather than single species, is important (in other words, don't be turned off by the title)
  3. Ever since first hearing about the conservancy in 2011 from Jon Hall's failed attempt to get there (see, Ishaqbini had always fascinated me for its abundance of rare species and subspecies of mammals - the beautiful and irreplaceable Hirola, Desert Warthog, Tana River Crested Mangabey, Tana River Red Colobus, Haggard's Oribi, Coastal Topi, 'Mainless' Plains Zebra, and Wild Dog. After hearing of @@Paolo and @@twaffle's failed attempt to get there in 2013 however, I was convinced that a trip to Ishaqbini would be impossible due to the area's volatile security situation. I'll organize this trip report as a timeline as I think the events prior to the trip are as gripping/interesting as getting to Ishaqbini itself! March 2014: I then found out that in 2013, Dominique Brugiere had successfully visited the conservancy (for only half a day), but still saw Hirola, Desert Warthog, Tana River Crested Mangabey, Tana River Red Colobus, and Lion. I figured at least I might as well check about the possibility of a trip and after contacting a couple of operators, the only one that replied was Roberts Safaris. After some initial conversation, Willie Roberts suggested that we fly in from Sirikoi (Lewa Downs) and spend a half day as his contacts felt it would be too risky, expensive, and logistically difficult to set up a proper mobile camp for several nights in the area. April-May 2014: We quickly finalized the plans for Ishaqbini and things looked good. The plan was to leave at the crack of dawn from Lewa, fly into Ishaqbini, and meet a driver/guide who had taken the Garissa Road from Malindi to Hola and onwards to Ishaqbini in a proper Land Cruiser (for game drives) the previous day to meet us in the conservancy. From there, we'd spend half a day tracking wildlife in the conservancy then fly out. Things were looking very promising. June 2014: Good news at the beginning of June as Ian Craig reported that he might be in the conservancy at the time of our visit and would try to accompany us as a guide in the preserve. Then the situation took a turn for the worst with the devastating attack on Mpeketoni, not far from Ishaqbini on the coast near Lamu from June 15-17th. 80 people killed and the UK issued travel warnings for Tana River and Lamu Counties, extending them beyond the previous Garissa District warnings. At this point, Willie started thinking of contingency plans, specifically a N Kenya helicopter safari, but I wanted to stick with Ishaqbini until the very end. I was starting to get worried that Ishaqbini might not work out... July 2014: Attacks continue in NE Kenya. Attacks on Hindi and Gamba, between Lamu and the Tana River Delta, take the lives of 29 and around the same time, unknown perpetrators burn the Milihoi Security post in Amu Ranch Conservancy, N of Lamu and W of Dodori National Reserve. Civil unrest is rampant throughout Lamu County and Garissa District, with frequent attacks reported throughout (Bodhei, Galmagalla, etc.). Willie responded that provisionally Ishaqbini was off the table and they would go forward with the helicopter trip. However, I held firm in the hope that the situation might improve and convinced him to keep an eye on the situation as I really had no interest in the helicopter trip as I had come to Kenya solely for Ishaqbini. July 21, 2014: Willie says by email that Ishaqbini was still very questionable and in light of the travel warnings (which restrict their company's operation), he would have a discussion with Ian Criag (NRT) and Andy Roberts (Tropic Air) to make a final decision. I received an email later in the day apologizing that they would have to call the trip off - I was crushed. Apparently, flying into Masalani would be too risky (there was heavy curfew in place and the town was on lockdown, with recent attacks reported not far). July 22, 2014: I ask about the possibility of flying directly into the reserve, which Willie says is still totally safe according to several of his contacts on the ground. He says this not very viable - as they will have to organize a way to get fuel into the reserve, and the driver who was to come from Malindi pulled out as there were reports of shifta shooting at vehicles on the Tana River road as recently as a week before the trip. Additionally, the noisy, low-flying helicopter was risky at any rate. Ishaqbini was now off the table. I arrive in Nairobi that night and Willie calls me, apologizing. He says that they tried everything possible, but all but one of his 7 contacts said it is too risky to attempt accessing the reserve from Masalani. The curfew, frequent unrest, and inaccessibility combined to make this trip impossible. He tells me that the folks in Ishaqbini, who were really looking forward to having a tourist come in, were heartbroken. As an alternative, he would take a plane up to Sera with me and fly camp in the main lugga, watching elephants come to water and spotlighting for Honey Badgers and Striped Hyenas. At this point, this sounded like the best option for me... July 23, 2014: I had just about convinced myself that the Sera option was good when after breakfast, just after leaving Nairobi on the Thika Highway, Willie called. I was wondering what was going on when he said that we were doing Ishaqbini. Apparently, they had just resurfaced the main airstrip and it could accept the Cessna baby Caravan were were in. That way, we would avoid all security concerns, but our visit would have to be lightning for safety reasons - get in, see the Hirola, and get out; monkeys would be second priority and we may not have a chance to visit Lake Ishaqbini. Despite this, I was elated. I'd be going to Ishaqbini after all, and confirmed the day before the trip no less! Last-minute brinkmanship at its finest!! The game drive that afternoon at Lewa was very relaxing. Lots of Buffalo, Impala, Elephant, Grant's Gazelle, Somali Ostrich, Eland, Reticulated Giraffes, Plains and Grevy's Zebras, plus 50 Beisa Oryx and a White Rhino, which I got to spend 45 wonderful minutes with. That day at dinner, I spent a while talking to Willie. He talked about Ishaqbini, its progress, and even how he applied to set up a camp there (someone else got the slot, but was never able to set up a camp there); he had last visited the conservancy in 2011. We then talked about South Sudan, Ethiopia, and as always for me, the conservation migrated to CAR - the stuff of my dreams at the time. Willie, by describing 1000s of African Gray Parrots, Forest Elephants, Lowland Gorillas, Red River and Giant Forest Hogs, Bongos, and Sangha Lodge unknowingly foreshadowed my next great adventure! He also described another trip, aerial safari in Gambella and a barge trip through the Sudd - temporarily on hold pending conflict in South Sudan - this will be a truly legendary safari when completed. He also told me the name of my guide for tomorrow - Jamie Manuel, an NRT surveyor who would accompany me in Ishaqbini - apparently a real character who spends months in Ishaqbini's remote bush. July 24, 2014: This was it - my day to visit Ishaqbini had come. After a quick breakfast, we were on the road to the airstrip, stopping briefly to admire a small herd of Elephants and a resting White Rhino. We met Jamie at the airstrip, who told me that not only would we search for Hirolas, but also Mangabeys and Red Colobus, telling me to get my binoculars ready for the monkeys! We also met my pilot Lorian Campbell-Clause, a British Kenyan who obtained his pilot's license in California. The flight to Ishaqbini was just stunning. After crossing the largely deforested Nyambene Hills, we turned and followed the Tana River through Meru National Park, a beautiful wilderness of palms and red-earth grasslands and a place I'd love to spend some time in someday. After passing Adamson's Falls, Kora was a distinct contrast, barren and full of regenerating Acacia; from the air, I could see small herds of shoats grazing along the river, with no clear boundary between the park and endless rangelands beyond. Following the Tana down past Garissa, I saw very little wildlife save for a handful of Desert Warthogs, not eaten by the primarily Muslim population in these areas. We then turned away from the river, cutting across the inaccessible country W of the Tana before descending along and across the river and landing in Ishaqbini, on the white sand airstrip, watching Reticulated Giraffes and Kirk's Dik-diks scatter. Upon our arrival, we met a large crew of local conservancy workers - Mahat, the head of security, a couple of other conservancy staff, and a local tracker (who served as our "spotter"). Cramming 10 people into the small modified Land Cruiser used as a ranger patrol vehicle by the conservancy was interesting to say the least. After dropping off a couple of rangers to guard the plane, we all set off for a quick tour of the headquarters, which have now been around for a little while. We didn't see that much on the way, save for a few Kirk's Dik-diks and Gerenuks, so Mahat was keen to head out and find stuff before it heated up around noon. Shortly after leaving the conservancy, we saw a handful of Somali Ostriches, then 1 Coastal Topi and behind it, in a small grassy area, 6 Hirolas including 1 precious calf - according to Jamie, this particular family had 3 more calves; calf mortality among Hirolas is very high outside the conservancy due to the large numbers of predators (Mahat saw a group of 5 Cheetahs the day before and we found lots of Lion tracks everywhere). We then found another 4 Hirolas, a sizable group of Somali Ostriches, Vulturine Guineafowl, lots of Yellow Baboons, and a couple of Desert Warthogs before arriving at the Tana River. Walking out onto the banks, we met a huge group of 60+ Yellow Baboons and a Tana River Red Colobus. A Fish Eagle flew overhead as Hippos and Crocs lounged in the water. The banks were lined with Buffalo, Elephant, and Lion tracks. Dense curtains of vegetation draped either side of the river. Definitely as wild and remote a place as you can get in East Africa. The long drive to Lake Ishaqbini in the heat of the day was punctuated by relatively little; lots of close-up Reticulated Giraffes, but no large herds; a few Gerenuk; more Somali Ostrich and Baboons; a female Lesser Kudu; and 2 Red Spitting Cobras, which I missed. The most notable sighting were 2 Plains Zebras, one with a sparse mane and another totally Maneless Animal. The Lake was beautiful, very serene and picturesque. Enjoying lunch on the shady shore, I watched a small herd of 3 Common Waterbuck and 4 Coastal Topi come to water at mid-day; then, the search for monkeys was on. First, the tracker and I tried an area where mangabeys were present in fruiting figs a couple of days before - the tree had stopped fruiting, so wildlife was gone and all we saw was a lone Syke's Monkey. The forest on other side of camp though was filled with life. Immediately, I saw several Syke's Monkeys and Red Colobus, then the tracker whispered "Mangabey" and I got a brief look at a grayish, shaggy monkey as it disappeared into the canopy. We followed the troop further into the riverine forest before tracking them down at a large fig, where I watched a young Mangabey pose in an open branch and 2 more quickly run by. Excellent! On our way back, we decided to head into the sanctuary. The drive to the sanctuary featured another Common Waterbuck, several Plains Zebras and Somali Ostriches, and 3 Desert Warthogs. Within the sanctuary, we received incredible views of a beautiful male Lesser Kudu standing at the edge of the track, which bounded off as soon as it heard the shutter click on my camera. Ouch! We then found lots of Desert Warthogs, Gerenuk and Yellow Baboons. Within the sanctuary, we met several Hirola herds: a wonderful large breeding herd of 14 animals, another herd of 4 animals, and another small group of 3. Photos were difficult as the brush was dense (it had rained fairly recently), the car was crammed with people (limited movement), and Jamie preferred not to drive close to the Hirolas to minimize stress - understandable given that the 31 Hirolas I saw over the course of the day represent just under 10% of the world population!! On our way out of the predator-proof sanctuary, the guys spotted a person (in their words, "figure") walking along the edge of the fence. He was moving away, so we weren't sure on who they were, but the guys felt that he was a ranger. I was nervous and we decided to head back to the sanctuary to let the administrators know. In the end, it turned out it probably was a ranger on patrol. After a discussion with Mahat (I was happy to see that he was very committed to the conservancy and passionate about the Hirola), we set off back to Lewa. Flying out of the conservancy, I watched Dik-dik, Coastal Topi, Reticulated Giraffe, Gerenuk, and Plains Zebra scatter under the plane. We flew over an area just South of Arawale Reserve that Jamie had told me about and found a lone Peters' Gazelle too. Arriving back in Lewa, we headed quickly back to Sirikoi, stopping briefly for a small herd of Elephants. After such an amazing day, a relaxing evening was in order... July 25th-end: The rest of my trip was considerably less hectic - a short trip into Borana Ranch failed to get me Patas Monkeys (which were seen every day up till the day before my trip into the ranch). On the next day however, I found a beautiful herd of 7 Greater Kudu. A nice, relaxing stay at Sirikoi overall. I need to edit a few pictures before posting, most are not good due to difficult photographic conditions in Ishaqbini...
  4. This research article published in the Journal of Applied Ecology of the British Ecological Society describes a study using the Great Indian Bustard to assess the relative effectiveness of captive breeding vs in situ conservation. Although release of captive-bred bustards was useful, a strong emphasis on in situ conservation enhanced the probability of successful reestablishment.
  5. An opinion piece by Dr Bradnee Chambers Dr. Bradnee Chambers is the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Environment Programme Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). The Parties to the CMS are currently at their 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Ecuador which ends Nov. 9 >> QUITO, Ecuador, Nov 8 2014 (IPS) - A surge in wildlife crime is fuelling criminal syndicates, perpetuating terrorism, and resulting in the loss of major revenues from tourism and industries dependent on iconic species while also endangering the livelihoods of the rural poor. But this surge in wildlife crime is not only threatening iconic species, which include elephants, rhinos and tigers, but also lesser-known animals that are also on the brink of extinction << read the full article
  6. The African lion (Panthera leo leo) faces the threat of extinction by the year 2050, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe warned today. The sobering news came as part of the agency’s announcement that it has officially proposed that African lions receive much-needed protection under the Endangered Species Act.
  7. I posted this review on Trip Advisor and was encouraged by several readers to post it here also. So here goes my first Safaritalk post. I hope it provides some good info for anyone thinking of doing some conservation volunteer work in Africa. I'm not a writer or photographer, just a wildlife enthusiast and amateur conservationist, so please excuse the informal nature of this review. Just wanted to get some thoughts and photos out there from my experience. Thanks for reading! Review of Wildlife ACT - Volunteer in South Africa, Mkhuze Reserve – Feb 2013 My friend and I (both female, mid 40’s and mid 30’s respectively) spent two weeks volunteering with Wildlife ACT in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. What an amazing adventure we had! We were on a very tight budget, hoping to spend under $2,000 (USD) per person, for the project placement and all of our time on the ground (not including flight cost), which we accomplished easily. I spent no less than 40 hours researching many different groups that offer wildlife and conservation volunteer trips, over the three months prior. I considered their ethics and motives, their research validity, conservation plans, past accomplishments, focus species, safety and support system, reviews from past volunteers on Travel Advisor, Lonely Planet and other places, and of course, cost, among other things. After sorting through a mountain of info, and discounting many programs that had questionable or non-sustainable objectives, places that could (or would) not provide information on their research/accomplishments, and places that seemed to invent things for their “voluntourists” to do, I came up with a short list, and finally decided on Wildlife ACT. Over the course of 2 weeks, I learned so much and was truly inspired by the work they’re doing. The focus at their Mkhuze Reserve program is the critically endangered African Wild Dog (Painted Hunting Dog/Lycaon Pictus), the Cheetah, Black Rhino, Lappet Faced Vulture and Elephant. I’m so grateful to have been able to make a tangible contribution and share so much valuable time with the Wild Dogs, Cheetahs, and other wildlife at Mkhuze. The team at Wildlife ACT is a truly dedicated, passionate group of conservationists. They run a well-organized volunteer program that is broken into small groups so each volunteer gets to experience as much as they want to, and make a real contribution to the work. They only take 4 volunteers per reserve at a time, so you can choose to get involved and get your hands dirty in each task, or choose those tasks that you most enjoy. Of course, some things require the help of all volunteers available, like when we built a “rhino-guard” fence around the vulture hide, since the local rhinos had way too much fun playing with our man-made structure! Normally, you can choose the level of physical activity you participate in, and there’s not a lot of hiking or manual labor required, so people of reasonable fitness of any age can contribute to various aspects of the work. Whether it’s getting out of the truck and doing the dirty work, maintaining the camp, cooking/preparing food, or helping with gathering and logging data, there’s a task suitable for everyone. Orientation is a short presentation, as is safety protocol, and everything else is learn-as-you-go. So there’s not a bunch of time spent sitting around listening to someone talk. You’re out driving and working from day-one. Volunteer groups are hand-picked by the Volunteer Coordinator whenever possible, and our group was awesome and worked very well together. Some of us became great friends and still keep in touch. Some exciting things we were involved in include: bringing food to, and cleaning the water for the cheetah that was awaiting release in the boma, learning the use of Radio Telemetry for tracking collared animals, learning the use of GPS location of collared animals using Triangulation, spoor (footprint) tracking, the use of camera traps for capturing data on elusive animals, spending each amazing dawn and dusk locating and checking on the health of the critically endangered Wild Dog pack on the reserve, putting out carcasses at the newly constructed Vulture Hide, and probably the most awesome experience was being involved in the darting and removal of a poacher’s snare from one of the Wild Dogs. I was also very interested in the research side of things and was able to learn to take useful data on focus species each day, and enter that data into a computer program for current and future research studies. It’s not like a luxury photo safari, but you’ll see lots of different species and landscapes as you go about your work. Every day was different and always held a surprise. We got to see so many important species, including tracking and getting to see the resident Elephant herd with a new calf, a couple endangered Black Rhino, several White Rhino, many Giraffe including a few babies, lots of Zebra, Baboons and Vervet monkeys, Kudu, Wildebeest, Buffalo, Hyena, a Black Mamba, a Hippo, Duikers, so many Impala and Nyala we practically had them coming out our ears, and we even got to see a pride of Lions feeding on the other side of the South fence. There were also some awesome birds like a Bateleur, a Secretary Bird, a Steppe Buzzard, lots of interesting smaller species, and many huge vultures like Whitebacks and the endangered Lappet Faced Vulture. The camp at Mkhuze is comfortable and basic. Food available is simple but adequate, so if you want or need something special, you should get it before you get to camp, or you can request it or go on the weekly shopping trip. There’s also a little shop a couple minutes walk from camp that has a few supplies like some food staples, bottled water, sodas, batteries, post cards, tee-shirts, maps, beer/wine, and of course a selection of ice-creams. There’s a small bird hide there, and a bit further down the path there’s a pool with a nice sitting area that was very relaxing. There’s also a little café in the area that serves lunch and dinner. We got to experience a South African braai (barbeque) at camp one evening, and sample some of the local foods, which was a real treat. Be prepared to deal with a good many bugs and a few other interesting visitors like frogs, scorpions, geckos, bush babies, baboons, impala and nyala at camp. Most of which are harmless, and keeping your room door closed will keep most everyone out. You’ll probably get bitten by some mosquitos while there, but bug spray helps that a great deal and it’s a low-risk malarial area. Most of the volunteers didn’t take malaria drugs, got bitten a good amount, but had no ill effects. (I’m not advocating you forgo those or any other medication – follow the advice of your physician, I’m just relaying our experience). We also got a few tick bites, none of which caused any issues. Speaking as a person with a *strong* desire to avoid bugs/spiders touching me (I admit to being fairly arachnophobic) I found that I actually got used to most of the bugs and got better about the spiders. I brought a mosquito net for over my bed, though! All the volunteers got a number of assorted bug bites, but no one had any real problems with them. Be sure you have one, preferably 2, good torches for walking around camp at night, as you wouldn’t want to step on any little creatures roaming around, and it will help to scare off any unwanted animal visitors. We had no issues with even the scary baboons that hung around beyond the camp yard, and the monkeys that came in the kitchen when no one was around were easily shoo’d away. It seems that Trip Advisor wants reviews to contain “what you disliked” so I will strain to give you examples of the only minor issues we found. Our only complaints about the camp would be that my friend said her bed was a bit uncomfortable but we folded a comforter in the low spot and she said it was fine from then on, and my bed was great. Also the coffee is powdered, as is normal in much of Africa, and although we whined at first, we got quite used to it and even liked it by the end. One of the other volunteers eventually found a coffee press hidden away in a cupboard and used it to make coffee that she had brought. And finally, my friend and I are Horse Trainers and very active in our normal life, and found it a bit difficult to adapt to a less physically active schedule. There are, of course, periods of potential hard work and activity spaced irregularly throughout the days, but we found taking a daily walk (sometimes two) to be the only other form of regular exercise. We actually resorted to silly push-up and pull-up contests, but that was short-lived, as the other volunteers were fine with the level of activity. All very minor points, but they may help someone figure what extras to pack. The work schedule at Mkhuze revolves around checking on the Wild Dogs each dawn and dusk as a primary objective, so we were up early and consequently got to bed fairly early. There’s usually a midday time for lunch and relaxation/nap/socializing/pool or catching up with camp duties. They do have a maid that comes every week and she can do your laundry, with the exception of intimates which you can hand-wash yourself. There’s no washing machine. The shower has hot water, but we found it to be not quite enough for all of us. Most of the time it is very warm out and taking a cool shower was no problem for any of us. The internet is slow and not terribly reliable, being out in the bush, but we were all able to check our emails at least every few days, which was just enough to stay in touch but leave civilization blissfully behind. Most of our cell phones had fair service at camp and around the reserve and I was able to send and receive texts every day. The Wildlife ACT team is a close-knit group and key members were always there to help with anything out of the ordinary we encountered. Our Mkhuze Wildlife Monitor, Cole, was a wealth of knowledge, dedicated, passionate and adaptable. Safety protocols are taught to volunteers, but our Wildlife Monitor was always watching out for us. On several occasions we were involved in projects that required the help of other staff members and in each case, we were impressed by their professional, yet friendly attitude and by their dedication and expertise. Bronwen, the Volunteer Coordinator was amazingly helpful for everything pre-departure and even when we got to SA and Delta lost our luggage, she completely took care of getting it back to us, on the reserve. The monitoring done by Wildlife ACT, and similar groups, is an essential conservation and protection measure, as poaching is rampant in many areas, and wildlife and humans are coming into greater conflict all the time. The tracking, monitoring and observation of critical species provides physical security to the animals, as the sheer presence of monitors deters poachers. Animals that roam outside the protected areas can be tracked, identified and brought back safely. Additionally, each individual animal’s well-being is also monitored, and vet assistance and relocation services are provided or assisted by Wildlife ACT, at no cost to the reserve. The data collected by Wildlife ACT helps to inform conservation decisions in the region and contributes to important research, in order to protect critical species and their future in Africa. Overall, I feel I was able to make a real contribution to the program through the physical work I put in and the small volunteer fee. Also, with the skills I was able to learn and practice, I will be more of an asset to conservation work in the future. There are also some specific projects that need to be done around camp and in the field, where volunteers with special skills may be utilized to assist with planning and execution. This is a small, but passionate group and there’s a lot of work to be done and many projects slated for the future of conservation in each of the reserves they work on. Being able to experience the bush and South Africa’s amazing wildlife with such a great team, doing real, front-line conservation was truly inspirational. With all the heartbreaking atrocities going on with our wildlife and ecosystems today, this program is a bright light in the fight to save them. Please feel free to contact me or ask any other questions you may have regarding our trip or Wildlife ACT in general, as you may have noticed, I love talking about it. I can’t wait to go back and would highly recommend this program to anyone interested in contributing to real conservation while having a great bush adventure at the same time!
  8. In a quick twiter and facebook survey to find out which protected areas in Kenya are best managed, I got a diversity of responses from the general public that revealed a real (and scarey) ignorance of what management of a protected area involves and how to measure performance. What criteria would you use to evaluate effectiveness of park management? And, how would you go about evaluating these measures? Finally, are there any specific protected areas in Africa that really stand out for you as a role model for being "well managed", and why?
  9. Dear President Zuma, By JIM RIES | Published: Oct 27, 2012 Rhino poaching is nothing new, but what is new is the increased demand for rhino horns and the desperately low numbers of remaining rhinos left in the wild. When Olivia and Carter started One More Generation, it was so they could raise awareness to the issue of so many species being added to the endangered list. It seems like everytime you turn around, there is a new, even longer list of species in jeopardy of becoming extinct. OMG has teamed up with the folks at SPOTS (Strategic Protection of Threatened Species) in South Africa in an effort to help raise awareness to the dire issue of Rhino Poaching. Unless we can motivate South African President Zuma to take stark actions to immediately curb poaching in South Africa, Rhino’s will go extinct in our lifetime. We are asking students (and adults) to help us show President Zuma how urgent it is for him to get involved. We can make a difference for these animals by writing a letter to President Zuma asking him to do something now. Our goal is to collect 1,000 letters and or drawings addressed to President Zuma. We plan on having the letters personally delivered to President Zuma to show him and his staff how much we in America (and all over the world) care for these animals. Why has poaching for Rhino horn increased so dramatically? South Africa is home to the Big Five. While all of them are at risk, on average two rhinos are killed every day through illegal and cruel poaching. The reason for the increasing slaughter is that the horn is sold into the Asian traditional medicine markets. Rhino horns are composed largely of the protein keratin, also the main ingredient in hair, fingernails, and animal hooves, yet is has no proven medicinal value. In many cases the horn is hacked off while the animal is still alive. It is time to stop the animal cruelty and diminish the belief that the horn has any proven medicinal value. Ground-up Rhino horn powder is now valued at six times the price of gold. How are Rhino’s Killed? Syndicates use helicopters to shoot or dart a rhino with a tranquillizer gun to bring the animal down and then close in, hacking the horn off and then leaving the animal to bleed to death. However, Rhinos are more often shot with high powered hunting rifles than tranquilized with a dart gun. Often, if the cow has a calf, it is killed as well, both for the little bit of horn that it may have, but also to prevent it from interfering with the poachers as they hack the mothers horn out. Sometimes poachers are highly skilled professional hunters, who operate at ground level in a highly organized manner, with logistical support in the form of vehicles and other back-up. Less sophisticated poaching groups may consist of 4 to 6 individuals who are well armed and will infiltrate a community to get information on rhinos in the area. They will plan their kill, often shooting the animal in the knee to keep it from running away, or killing it outright. The animal is usually slaughtered and the horns are usually roughly removed with an axe or panga. Here is a video that breaks down the cold hard facts for you: Why you should get involved: Each and every one of us are supposed to be stewards of this planet and all it’s inhabitants. We are all they have got and they are depending on us to help them. Survival of many other species depend on us successfully fighting for the rhino’s survival. If the iconic rhino can’t be saved, what chance do the lesser known endangered species have? Your involvement in playing a role in conservation will be showcased on the OMG and SPOTS websites. Make this part of your resume one day. It is something to be very proud of – show the world you did not wait for someone else to take action and solve the problem. You stood up for what’s right and made your voice heard. The OMG and SPOTS letter campaign is not only about asking questions, it is also about bringing awareness to the plight of this defenseless animal. Letters will be delivered to the South African government and the media will be invited. By getting the media involved, a larger audience can be reached Remember, extinction is forever and each one of us has the power to make a difference. Please send us your letter today and we encourage you to also contact your school, church group or other community organization and ask them to also help collect letters as well. We have created an educational document on the issue which you can use to make your own presentation to schools and other community groups in your area. We will be awarding special prizes to the top three individuals who send us the most letters. Board members from SPOTS and OMG will also be picking their favorite letter and picture. If your letter or picture is chosen, you too will receive a special gift. Remember, together we can make a difference for these animals. Click on the ‘Community Rhino Presentation‘ link below to download the complete presentation. The file is very large so it may take a few minutes to download. Please be patient. If you have problems downloading the file, please email us and we can email you a copy as well. Click here to download your Presentation: Community Rhino Presentation We also found this wonderful short kids book titled Ronnie and the Rhino Horn which is great for younger kids. You can download the story here: Ronnie and the Rhino Horn Below we have added a few coloring pages you can print out and color-in and send to us. Please make sure you write your name on the picture and make sure we can read it so we can add it below: Daddy Rhino Coloring Page Mommy Rhino Coloring Page Mommy and Baby Rhibo Coloring Page Orphaned Babay Rhino Coloring Page Here are two Template Letters you can download and use if you would like, or you can just write your own letter. Either way, please make sure you mail or email us your letter today: Dear President Zuma Letter Template (4) Blank Letter for President Zuma Please address your letters to President Zuma and send them to our office at the address below. We will scan in all letters and post them below for the whole world to see. You may also email the letters directly to us at the email address below: One More Generation P.O. Box 143627 Fayetteville, GA 30214 Here is a great new music video about the need to save Rhinos for One More Generation… and beyond: Here are the letters we have received so far. Each letter is assigned a number according to the order in which they are received. We list all letters alphabetically by last name to make it easier to find your letter. Invite your friends and family members to view your letter here: Abby #152 – GA USA Abnett, Alexia #181 – Springs, Gauteng South Africa Aiaan, #88 Alex #138 – GA USA Alex #172 – GA USA Allard, Jillian #210 – GA USA Ames, Alexandra #46 – London UK Amini, Neda #7 – GA USA Amini, Naseem #8 – GA USA Anderson, Fiona #31 Anthony #139 – GA USA Anthony, Asha #224 – GA USA Arrington, Madison #27 - GA USA Avery #122 – GA USA Avery #130 – GA USA Avery #238 – GA USA Aycock, Joan #39 - GA USA Aycock, Lauren #63 Bailey, Sean #174 – GA USA Baker, Heather #141 – GA USA Barnes, Julia #217 – GA USA Barrett, Susan #182 – Somerset UK Bath, Sheila #93 – South Africa Belfo, Karen #193 – Quebec Canada Bell, Denise #102 Bettadapura, Keerthi #10 Bosley, Sandi #100 – Mexico Boswell, Katlynn #227 – GA USA Boswell, Natalie #242 – GA USA Bowes, Belinda #272 – Montreal, Quebec Canada Boxall, Ella #266 – Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom Brady, Colt #26 – GA USA Brennan, Kyran #68a Brown, Kaitlyn #151 – GA USA Bu, Julie #254 – GA USA Cadet, Ralph #198 – GA USA Carolyn, #47 Carter #129 - GA USA Carter Paul #124 – GA USA Cassell, Courtlyn #228 – GA USA Chance #153 – GA USA Chaney #236 – GA USA Chang, Leng Kar #89 – GA USA Chino, #50 Christensten, Stella #179 – GA USA Cody, #81 Collins, Abby #231 – GA USA Collins, Ava #232 – GA USA Cornett, Samantha #175 – GA USA Crawford, Bailey #234 – GA USA Cromie, Lauren #62 – USA Cutts, Sarah #230 – GA USA Danielle, #104 – NY USA Davey #117 – GA USA David #165 – GA USA De Los Santos, Adriana #187 – OH USA Delgado, Anthony #197 – GA USA Denver, Ella #86 – South Australia Douglass, Ty #199 – GA USA Drake, Victoria #222 – GA USA Dunn, Tristan #85 Dusenbury, Allison #186 – OH USA Eade, Cynthia #264 – GA USA Ebony, #87 Edmiston, Bailey #248 – GA USA Edmiston, Christopher #247 – GA USA Edmiston, Jackson #249 – GA USA Edmiston, Jonathan #251 – GA USA Edmiston, Tracy #250 – GA USA Egresi, Lori #271 – NY USA Erickson, Allie #213 – GA USA Espinel, Nicholas #260 – GA USA Faith #178 – GA USA Faulkner, Mary Katherine #192 – GA USA Faye, Allison #24 Fisk, Celine #66 Fisk, Samantha #67 Foote, Melinda #184 – OH USA Gabe #120 – GA USA Gabe #121 – GA USA Gaivin #114 – GA USA Garcia, Valentina #60 – GA USA Glasser, Dani #219 – GA USA Goodall, Jane #112 – VA USA Grace, #57 Grace #167 – GA USA Gueli, Alessandro #11 Guerremo, Paola #211 – GA USA Guerrero, Carmen #5 – AZ USA Haefer, Adrian #218 – GA USA Hamilton, Bryant #131 – GA USA Hance, Jeremy #41 – MN USA Hannah #146 – GA USA Hannah #159 – GA USA Hannah #168 – GA USA Hannah #176 – GA USA Harbin, Beth #25 Harnage, Andrew #20 Harnage, Lily #19 Harry, #82 – South Australia Harvill, Annette #112A – GA USA Healy, Valerie #110 – Glasgow, Scotland, UK. Hennum, Anna #226 – GA USA Higgins, Joanne #183 – OH USA Holsey, Iman #223 – GA USA Hope, #54 Huff, Adyson #235 – GA USA Hury, Catherine #108 – France Isabella #142 – GA USA Jack, #59 Jackie #161 – GA USA Jackson #123 – GA USA Jackson #126 – GA USA Jacob #73 Jacob #170 – GA USA Jams, Ethan #80 Jaxon #136 – GA USA Jenny, #46 John, #52 John, #55 John #164 – GA USA Johnny, #48 Johnson, Jack #259 – GA USA Johnson, Luke #258 – GA USA Joyner, Sidney #203 – GA USA Kaitlyn #150 – GA USA King, Kyle #105 – GA USA Klimitz, Lauren #158 – GA USA Kretschmer, Estie #37 – South Africa Krykwa, Noah #33 Kuitert, Heidi #103 – The Netherlands Kyle, #84 Lansdowne, Ethan #207 – GA USA Larsen, Hailey #34 Lashley, Kacie #202 – GA USA Law, Kenneth #246 – GA USA Leal, Albert (Paw Paw) #45 - MA USA Leal, Brandon #99 – MA USA Leal, Chris #92 – MA USA Leal, Maryann #40 – MA USA Levy, Rena #42 Lewis, Kathy #132 – Brownfield, ME USA Lewis, Sophie #32 Longmeyer, Cassidy #244 – GA USA Longmeyer, Ella #225 – GA USA Lopes, Shawn #220 - GA USA Lovegrove, Corey #75 Lusk, William #263 – GA USA Lynn Ann #145 – GA USA Mackenzie #140 – GA USA Mackenzie #177 – GA USA Magee, Fionna #240 – GA USA Magee, Karyn #243 – GA USA Mallett, Emily #239 – GA USA Mannum, Community College #69 – South Australia Mannum, Community College #70 - South Australia Mannum, Community College #71 - South Australia Mannum, Community College #72 - South Australia Mannum, Community College #74 - South Australia Mannum, Community College #76 - South Australia Mannum, Community College #77 - South Australia Marafioti, Alyssa #83 Marc #116 – GA USA Mariana #155 – GA USA Mariana #137 – GA USA Marilyn #149 – GA USA Markson, Laura #113 – GA USA Martinez, Axel #196 – GA USA Martinez, Charlotte #265 – Denmark Maxmin, Chloe #38 – ME USA Mayasaha #215 – GA USA McClure, Jess #209 – GA USA Mcintosh, Jim and Kay #107 – South Africa McIntosh-Ross, Michele #252 – GA USA McLaren, Goffinet #1 – SC USA McLonaghie, Jacob #205 – GA USA McMan, Chat #125 – GA USA Mercure, Ashlyn #21 Mercure, Elise #22 Michael #148 – GA USA Mielder, Bianca #65 Mitchell, Nautica #201 – GA USA Moore, Carter #36 Moore, Tara #245 – GA USA Moss, Mackenzie #229 – GA USA Moss, Maddie #233 – GA USA Motter, Stephanie #206 – GA USA Munuz, Angela #204 – GA USA Murphy, Joan #98 – Johannesburg, South Africa Mylee, #79 – South Australia Nadia #143 – GA USA Naik, Kikaw #257 – GA USA Nason #163 – GA USA Neckebroeck, Anne-Marie #111 – Wetteren, Belgium Niebanck, Peyton #221 – GA USA Nik, #78 Noah #118 – GA USA Oliver, Joel #134 – GA USA Olivier, Joel #173 – GA USA Orgbon, Charles #64 – GA USA Orr, Avery #241 – GA USA Owen, Lorelei #6 Pabst, Tori #12 – GA USA Pavao, Cole #261 – GA USA Pearthree, Patty #9 – NC USA Peck, Michelle #188 – OH USA Perera, Diyani #96 – Sri Lanka Petrino, Francesca #237 – GA USA Peyton #160 – GA USA Porter, Austin #162 – GA USA Post, Nadia #144 – GA USA Raegan, #49 Rasigatale, Nahum #68b Riddell, M #101 Ries, Carter #2 – GA USA Ries, Olivia #3 – GA USA Roberts, Amiya #200 – GA USA Robertson, Keon #94 Rose, #56 Rose, Jenny #268 – Melbourne, Australia Rose, Susan #273 – FL USA Ryan #115 – GA USA S, Jennifer #253 – GA USA Salisbury, Ian #95 – Zambia South Africa Samantha #156 – GA USA Schmidt, Ty #147 – GA USA Scotti, Kevin #185 – OH USA Sengupta, Sue #267 – GA USA Serafln, Meghan #61 – GA USA Sermeus, Ingrid #106 – Belgium Seymour, Roxanne #43 Shaw, Lisa #191 – FL USA Shumway, Andrew #208 – GA USA Shumway, Emma #216 – GA USA Siegel, Isabella #30 Skinner, Shawna #190 – OH USA Sklar, Livia #262 – GA USA Smallwood, Trenton #29 Smith, Vicky #90 – GA USA Soto, Dacota #35 – GA USA Soto, Darius #28 – GA USA Sowlant, Arina #195 – GA USA Spaeta, Brian #214 – GA USA St.Peter, Emily #44 – GA USA Stede #154 – GA USA Stella #180 – GA USA Strawn, Heather #189 – OH USA Tess #135 – GA USA Tess #157 – GA USA Tess #169 – GA USA Thomas, Rachel #23 Tori, #53 Turner #127 – GA USA Ty #166 – GA USA Vanchipurakel, Neil #256 – GA USA Vaughn, Gina #4 – GA USA Volpe, Braxton #18 Volpe, Peyton #17 Walker, Cindy #270 – Haiku, Hawaii USA Weidmann, Mikaela #212 – GA USA Weinreb, Abby #13 – GA USA Weinreb, Kim #16 – GA USA Weinreb, Sam #15 – GA USA Weinreb, Todd #14 – GA USA Wesley #128 – GA USA West, Everet #91 Whitcraft, Samantha #109 – FL USA Wiese, Cole #133 – GA USA Williams, Alex #97 Wissink, Crystal #269 – MI USA Yaynik, Keyuri #255 – GA USA Zamlinsky, Mark #194 – GA USA Zoe #119 – GA USA Zoe #171 – GA USA Thanks in advance for your support from all of us at OMG

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