Chilling Out Cheetah Style And Some Timely Wildlife Good News

cheetah

Much of the wildlife news from Africa – as per mainstream media – is almost invariably negative. Of course I don’t argue at all with the need to focus public attention on the poaching of rhino horn and elephant ivory – not if it will put pressure on the nations (China, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam especially) that fund and fuel this wretched trade. But perhaps the overall effect of such reporting is to give people the idea that African nations do not care for their wildlife. This is not true. Such reporting also often overlooks the absolute heroism of African wildlife rangers (both men and women) who night and day risk their lives to defend their national parks and reserves against poacher predation, often within conflict zones such as DR Congo.

A nation like Kenya has vested interest (public and private) in maintaining and protecting its vast and varied wildlife areas. Tourism is a major income earner, although tourists themselves may at times pose a significant threat to the nation’s environment, both natural and cultural, as their every want is catered to. Also the majority of Kenya’s population are smallholder farmers and most game parks have few boundaries. The wildlife goes where it will, and one elephant can destroy a farming family’s livelihood in a few minutes of chomping and stomping about the place. Elephants kill people too.

In other words conservation has an awful lot of human angles beyond the protecting of particular animal species  and their habitats. And while some species may be under threat, it seems that others such as the Cape Buffalo are causing problems by their rising numbers in small reserves. So: just to cast a brief light on the work of the Kenya Wildlife Service (and you can follow this link for more details) here is a current progress report.

Perhaps of greatest importance to the world at large is that in October Kenya’s effort in combatting wildlife trafficking, in particular ivory poaching, was acknowledged at the 70th meeting of the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Also in October the Kenya Wildlife Service hosted its Annual Carnivore Conference which explored the impact of the increasing spread of human populations into carnivore habitat. A quick scan of the topics covered give vivid insight into the multifarious issues involved at the big cat – herder-farmer interface.

And then a week ago Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala launched the National Recovery Plan For Giraffes. He pointed out that while attention has been focussed on rhino and elephant losses, many species of plains game have been increasingly under threat. Giraffes, in particular, are targeted for the bush meat trade. Climate change and loss of habitat are also issues. (I did a post about  giraffe loss and their conservation a couple years ago). It’s good to see some concerted action between government and nongovernmental wildlife organisations.

Some cause for optimism then, though we can’t be as laid back on the matter as these cheetahs seem to be about my intrusion into their afternoon nap time.

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copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

Time Square #4

44 thoughts on “Chilling Out Cheetah Style And Some Timely Wildlife Good News

    1. Well thank you, Mak, for that generous comment. Me, telling you about your homeland – it’s a bit rich. I was wanting to ask what you thought about the SGR now it’s up and running. I know many conservationists were very anti, and the court order to stop it was just ignored. But I’m wondering if it truly has had a bad effect on the park. i.e. surely it’s the settlement to the south that risks closing off the corridor that is the actual threat?? And that’s the other thing KWS did last week, along with the International Committee of the Red Cross – planted 1,000 trees in Nairobi Park somewhere near the SGR line. Lots of school kids involved apparently.

      1. I think the second leg of the sgr to naivasha that is passing through the park is what has conservationists worried, especially, knowing this government with land. It is thought that there are people within government who see the park as prime land and by having the line through the park, a case can be made to move the animals to other habitats and make land available for grabbing. Shortsighted if you ask me but very possible. There has also been claims that several lions and other big game have been killed by the trains and that the Chinese working in the park areas could also be poaching on the side.

  1. Even in our own Country we have problems with people endangering wildlife. The recent case of the egg thief here in Norfolk (5k+eggs) or the ‘stolen’ caterpillars of the Swallowtail butterfly.

    1. Thank you, Jo. And giraffe meat definitely not, but I do remember when we were staying at Kiboko and a giraffe had been killed in a collision on the highway. This caused some excitement and the local community made short work of it. Probably many felt starved of protein. Also game meat often can have an almost mythical appeal to people who were traditionally hunters, but are no longer allowed to hunt. It’s a thorny issue all round.

  2. Animal conversation is on the rise, Tish. I’ve watched a documentary about Africa’s wildlife. Here in Canada, we are such an activist when it comes to animals. Limited hunting and we shame people who hunt for grizzly as a trophy.

    1. Yes trophy hunting is a dismal pursuit. Of course much of East Africa’s wildlife was decimated under colonial occupation, the endless pursuit of trophies for the biggest ivory/horns/black maned lions inevitably having a deleterious effect on the gene pool, ever eliminating the strongest males. Whole areas were shot out, and the shooters responsible bemoaning the loss of ‘big ivory’ and the big black-maned lions, and that they no longer saw the kind of fine specimens they had once shot in the past!

      1. I know. Judging from long history of man’s destruction of natural world… But trophy hunting! Can’t rich people limit their appetites just a little?

  3. Positive and negative – but always difficult. Trophy hunters are the worst kind. Little men who wants to feel bigger through taking the lives of defenceless animals.

  4. Indeed conservation is all about making humans realise their connectedness to and reliance on the good health of the environment they find themselves in and share with an amazing diversity of wildlife – whether in Africa or elsewhere!

  5. Conservation, wherever it is happening, seems to be very hard work, and often dangerous. Recently we lost 2 long serving, senior conservation workers in a helicopter crash. Their skills will be hard to replace. It was good to read this ‘Kenya’s current forest cover of just over 7% of her land area is still below the constitutional requirement of 10%.’ It’s brilliant when countries care enough about forest cover to include it in a constitution.

    1. A sad loss of your conservation officers. But thank you for pointing out Kenya’s constitutional requirement for tree cover. It’s well worth noting. Kenya has lost so much forest – not only from settlement creep by smallholder farmers, but more particularly to criminal excision. I think ordinary people have begun to realise the connection between their increasingly arid climate alternating with flash flooding and the loss of forest cover. It’s hopeful that some planting is happening. A lot more needed, and that would be pretty much everywhere.

  6. Point well taken Tish. A few countries such as Kenya have taken huge steps for preservation and wardens are paying a high price against poachers. Perhaps, perhaps other African countries have not been so… proactive. Never mind. The greatest challenge today is to work towards a balance between wildlife (yes, elephants do kill!) and farmers. With exploding human population, subtle boundaries must be found to preserve both. Easier said than done. 🙂
    But maybe someone will find the solution?
    Take care Rafiki.

    1. Seem to remember reading that an NGO had been working with Mount Kenya smallholders – introducing beehives strung around field perimeters. If the hives get disturbed the bees sting the elephants and see them off. And then the farmers in time also benefit from the honey.

      1. Very brave women. Landmines are ugly beasts. Saw many mutilated people in Cambodia early january. I just wondered: who planted the mines? The Americans or the Khmer rouges? Or both? 😦

  7. Thanks for this. A lot of people don’t even see the people behind the scenes trying to protect these animals. We put a lot of effort and risks into creating reserves to accommodate and protect these animals. The government isn’t always involved, but you’ll find a lot of people with private owned land trying their best to help conserve nature.Every person making a small change contributes to a bigger picture in the end.

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