Saturday, February 11, 2012

Fight Climate Change

Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Taboo Subject or Not, Overpopulation is the World's Biggest Threat

For a while it was talked about. But now, once again, overpopulation seems to have become a taboo topic. But with the populations of China, India and Indonesia all around the one billion mark, the time for such coyness is long past. China's one child policy is fine in its own way. But what is needed is population reduction. Despite what many people say food production is not the main problem resulting from too many people. The real problem is the utilisation of the world's finite resources - metals, fuels and so forth.

Ultimately unless mankind starts to control its population the world's resources will unable to sustain that population.

The time to start talking and debating and planning is NOW.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Can Speciation Assist Conservation ?

Threatened Species tend to get a lot more attention than threatened sub-species. For example the Giraffe has several subspecies whose populations are under severe threat. Recently there has been talk that Giraffes should be split into perhaps 8 or more Species. I think that this should happen as soon as possible. The result of such speciation or splitting is that a lot more attention would be focussed on the threats faced by the 'new' Species of Giraffes. For example the Reticulated Giraffe in northern Kenya. And the West African Giraffe. The creation of separate Species of Giraffe would make it much easier for conservation bodies to raise funds to save individual Giraffe Species. And of course conservation always needs charismatic species to highlight the need for conservation measures. Ultimately habitat preservation is the best form of conservation so these charismatic species also work to help conserve all the other forms of life dependant on the same habitat.

Another animal that could be helped by Speciation is the Asiatic Cheetah. At the moment it is highly threatened but because Cheetah numbers in Africa are still relatively good it is difficult to raise funds for the Asiatic Subspecies. But if the Asiatic Cheetah was given full Species status then its world population of around 100 individuals would be given much more significance. Followed hopefully by increased levels of conservation funding and assistance.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Added Value for Eco-Tourism Enterprises : Wildlife Photography Hides/Blinds

Well designed wildlife observation hides (blinds) that are sited in just the right spot can be a great draw to naturalists and wildlife photographers. With care, such hides cause no disturbance to wildlife and can allow wonderfully close observations of fascinating wildlife behaviour that it would not be possible to see in any other way.

They can add considerable value to an eco-tourism enterprise.

Wildlife photographers in particular are willing to pay significant daily fees for the use of a wildlife hide that promises good and reliable photographic opportunities.

Such hides need to be widely advertised in the eco-tourism enterprise’s marketing information. The features of the hide and the target species need to be described. Quality wildlife photographs taken from the hides need to feature in any marketing resources.

Photographic hides that enable highly sought-after species to be regularly photographed can quickly become famous and attract wildlife photographers from all over the world.

A prime example is the Vulture Hide at Giant’s Castle in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. This hide, spectacularly situated on the side of a mountain virtually guarantees close encounters with Bearded Vultures, one of the most prized birds in the world of wildlife photography. The success of this hide guarantees a constant stream of wildlife photographers to the Park.

Conclusion: Wildlife observation hides/blinds can be a valuable tool in conservation by bringing in much-needed tourist revenue.

Photos: Vulture Hide, Giant's Castle ; Bearded Vulture.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Should Conservation Charities take a bigger and more direct role in Eco-Tourism ?

An emphatic ‘Yes’.

Some of the best Conservation Organisations, such as Conservation International and the Wildlife Conservation Society, work in a lot of poorly developed regions. Typically these areas have valuable wildlife resources but local tourism infrastructure is almost non-existent.

By establishing an Eco-Tourist branch to their operations conservation bodies can take wildlife tourists to see rare and unusual wildlife in off-the-beaten-track localities. The tremendous growth in worldwide wildlife tourism can provide a constant supply of travelers prepared to be pioneer visitors to these exotic locations.

The two main criteria that must be satisfied in order for wildlife tourists to come are: 1. Safety and 2. Guaranteed (more or less) sightings of unusual wildlife.

With a little effort both can be provided. Visitors can be flown directly to the wildlife reserve to avoid traveling on bad or dangerous roads. The conservationists working in the reserve can train wildlife guides to ensure that visitors get the best opportunity to see the keynote species of the area.

Much needed tourist dollars will be brought into the country. It is vitally important, of course, that local communities share in the revenue. This will speed up the process of convincing local inhabitants that wildlife does have a significant economic value and is well worth protecting. Likewise the government will be encouraged to improve their infrastructure and create more wildlife parks to take advantage of this additional income stream.

Examples ?

Chad is a troubled country. But its wildlife resources could bring in much needed foreign currency. The stunning but endangered Scimitarhorned Oryx is native to Chad. This could be the flagship species for an eco-tourist project in the country.

Some years ago the Arabian Oryx was extinct in the wild. Happily they bred well in captivity and have now successfully been reintroduced to Arabia, their native land. The award-winning eco-tourist lodge Al Maha, in Dubai's Desert Conservation Reserve, provides a wonderful venue to see these magnificent animals in their natural environment.

Similarly the Scimitarhorned Oryx is more or less extinct in the wild. If a safe haven can be created in Chad then at last animals from private collections around the world could be used to re-establish this iconic species where it belongs, in the Sahel. Al Maha serves as a fine model of how an eco-tourist lodge can be established with trained wildlife guides. Maybe wildlife can be part of the solution for a country struggling to shrug off the ravages of civil war.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

South African Elephants: To Cull or Not to Cull ?

First Some Facts (Source: IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group):


Area of whole country: 600,000 km2
Area with Elephants: 100,000 km2 (17%)
Protected Areas for whole country: 18%
Number of Elephants: 134,000

South Africa:
Area of whole country: 1,220,000 km2
Protected Areas for whole country: 30,000 km2 (2%)
Total Protected Areas: 4%
Number of Elephants: 18,000

So the question for South Africa is really not one of ‘To cull or not to cull’.

Rather the real question is ‘Why does South Africa have so little of its land available for Elephants ?’.

South Africa does not need to cull elephants. Instead it needs to find more land for them to live on.

The International target for protected areas is 10% and South Africa is way behind, even when including the numerous private game reserves.

The South African Government has already started a number of projects to create new or larger wildlife reserve in conjunction with private enterprise but there is still a lot more to be done.

For example: An Eastern Cape private game reserve employs around 10 times more people, and in more skilled, better paid jobs, than local sheep farms on the same sized plot of land.

So land for wildlife benefits local communities by increasing employment opportunities, the economy by bringing in tourists and their tourist dollars and, of course, wildlife.

Land for Wildlife. It’s a Win-Win situation !