West African Lions

There are a small number of lions that still live in West Africa. The population is in steep decline and is now only found reliably in one protected area with small remaining populations in a few others. The last significant population is found in a transboundary protected area between Niger Benin and Burkina Faso. This consists of Arli National park in South East Burkina Faso, Pendjari National Park in Benin and Singou Reserve. This group of protected areas is collectively called the WAP complex (W-Arli-Pendjari). Continue reading “West African Lions”

New species of Orangutan

The Tapamuli Orangutan has recently been discovered. There are only thought to be 800 of these animals left and they are only found within the Batang Toru Forest of North Sumatra. It is thought that they have been a separate from the Borneon Orangutan for 674,000 years (despite living on Sumatra they appear to be more closely related to the Orangutans of Borneo than of Sumatra). As well as having such a tiny population they also live in an area of roughly 1000 square kilometres (386 square miles). This is the first great ape species to be discovered since 1929 when the Bonobo was discovered.

Cape leopards

Cape Leopards are a fascinating part of the leopard population of South Africa. It is estimated that there are as many as 1000 cape leopards living throughout the western cape. Now the western cape covers roughly 50,000 square miles so it is a rather large area, and they are spread across a few national parks. What is interesting about this group is that they are significantly smaller than any other group of leopards with females weighing around 20kg and males 35kg (generally leopards weigh between 60 and 70kg). Continue reading “Cape leopards”

Lion (Tanzania)

The majority of my safari experience has been had within the Kruger national park in South Africa. While wild, generally the facilities there are far greater than in Tanzania. As such the campsite in the Selous national park in Tanzania consisted of a flat piece of land with a sign saying ‘Lake Tagalala camp’ and a long drop toilet. However there was no fence or barrier of any kind around the camp (you are required to pay for a night guard above the costs of camping). The washing facilities were in themselves quite an exciting prospect as you used the local lake, though you took your guard with you as when we went for a was there were crocodiles on one side of us and hippos on the other.

We were sitting by our fire at around 8.30pm that evening, listening to the sounds of wildife from the surrounding area while we ate our supper. This consisted of the insects of the bush, as well as regular grunts and splashes of the hippos in their pool about 100m distant, and the roars of the various local lion prides. The night guard had gone to be with the other group that he had spent the day with. Very suddenly out of the dark about 10m distant to where we were sitting a lioness appeared out of the dark. We were sat by a fire so she was unlikely to approach but she held our gaze as she stalked across the camp site and then back into the dark.

Bear (Croatia)

To put this sighting in context, we had spent 3 lovely days hiking in the Northern Velebit National Park national park in Croatia, it had been beautiful, but apart from a brief sighting of two deer from a large distance away we hadn’t seen any wildlife. We were moving on and so had left the park. It was quite early in the morning and due to the remote location of the park there was little artificial noise.  About 100m beyond the front gate we stopped suddenly when we heard noise from our left. Moments later the was more noise as a large bear crashed down the steep bank and started to amble across the road. It paused briefly in the middle of the road and glared at us as we sat perhaps 10m away. It then ambled across the rest of the road and crashed down an equally steep bank. At this point I got out of the car and walked to the edge of the road and looked down into the dark of the forest. The bear had not moved from the bottom of the bank, and he turned his head and fixed me with a stare for a few seconds before disappearing further into the gloom of the forest.

Transfrontier parks – allowing wildlife to exist closer to how it did before humans arrived

In Africa it is becoming increasingly common for national parks to be declared on both sides of a border. This allows the protected area to be vastly larger than either country could succeed in, on its own. This is important because many of the mammals that live in Africa need a lot of space and live at low densities. Without transfrontier parks it would be too expensive to protect a large enough area to support populations of animals such as wild dog and cheetah. In an ideal world this is a relatively simple solution, however as with everything it isn’t often that simple. With war and famine and other problems the animals could suddenly become less secure in one country than another. Continue reading “Transfrontier parks – allowing wildlife to exist closer to how it did before humans arrived”

Greening the western lifestyle

If we are to be able to continue to live on planet Earth we are going to need to stop releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It is unfortunate that at the current time, this simple fact is not looked on as a fact by some of the big world leaders.

One of the difficult things to look at is that some of the publicised success the UK has had in the last couple of decades is false. When looking carefully you can see that we have exported the emissions, by having things manufactured in India or China for example. This makes it clear that much of the pressure on manufacturers must come from consumers rather than governments. Continue reading “Greening the western lifestyle”

Does hunting pay its way?

Even in the current age where many species such as elephants and lions are facing steep declines in population and range, there are still many countries where it is legal to go and hunt them and other species. Unlike many conservationists I am not inherently against hunting, however the way it is done in many places baffles me. I realise with many people it is essentially “the bragging rights” that they are looking for. Shoot an animal and mount its head on your wall at home. One hundred years ago, when there were more animals left I could understand this idea, but nowadays, when we are likely to have to explain to our grandchildren if not children why these animals no longer live in the wild I don’t want one stuck to my wall! Continue reading “Does hunting pay its way?”