Upcoming 50|50 Episode 37, Monday 26 December 2011

Upcoming 50|50 Episode 37, Monday 26 December 2011

1) Garth Owen-Smith Interview

Bonne chats to Garth Owen-Smith on the launch of his book “Arid Eden”. Garth has spent almost his entire working life fighting – not against a conventional enemy but against official ignorance, harsh climatic conditions, poachers and other enemies of Africa’s fast-diminishing wildlife. In the process, he has lived and worked in a number of countries but his chosen battlefield has always been the most challenging place of all: the harsh, beautiful and almost unknown Kaokoveld in north-western Namibia, his “Arid Eden”. He chose sides early on, when he spent two youthful years in the Kaokoveld and not only developed a deep affinity with the indigenous Himba, Herero and Damara pastoralists but realised that they had developed the ideal form of nature conservation, a situation in which humans and their livestock could live in equilibrium with wild game, so that there was room for all.

 

In 1970 he was thrown out of the Kaokoveld as an alleged security risk, then spent a year looking into conservation and the treatment of indigenous peoples in Australia, farmed for two years in Rhodesia, and did pioneering work in conservation education for black youths in South Africa. He finally managed to get back to South West Africa in 1978, and from there embarked on his life’s work, to save the remnants of the Kaokoveld’s rich wildlife, devastated by a variety of illegal hunters. And he succeeded, although it took him and his partner, Dr Margaret Jacobsohn, 27 years. They have won some of the world’s major conservation awards, north-western Namibia is a popular tourism destination and the Kaokoveld’s wildlife has come back from the brink of virtual extinction, and thousands of people have benifitted from the links they have forged between community development and natural resource management.

2) Seven Gill Sharks

At the beginning of April a local diving website raised the alarm that in just one week, 1.5 tons of sevengill sharks were caught off Cape point – just a few miles from Pyramid Rock, a popular spot where divers swim with groups sevengills. The sharks were being driven up to Gansbaai where the livers were purchased by a couple of cage diving companies in Gansbaai as chum for attracting White Sharks. While it was not illegal it was severely frowned upon by the shark researchers, divers and conservationists. Broadmouth sevengill sharks, commonly known as Seven Gills or Spotted Cowsharks are prehistoric and rare apex predators. They are social feeders and congregate in large groups of up to 18 individuals.

 

Distinctive features include their seven gill slits (versus the usual 5) and the absence of the front dorsal fin. Diving with sevengills is becoming more and more popular in the ecotourism sector and South Africa’s coastline offers the best visibility and easiest access to these primary predators in the world. They are not a protected species and recreational fishermen in South Africa can catch 10 sevengill sharks per day. There is a huge demand for South African shark fillets in Australia and we export tons of shark meat annually after it is processed in factories in Cape Town, Strand & Gansbaai. Sevengills are not targeted for export as their meat fetches a low price on the Australian market, around R4.50/kg. However, line fishermen are finding it more and more difficult to make a living from catching fish and desperation is driving them to target sharks more and more. Braam meets the scientists, speaks to the fishing industry and shark-cage dive-operators and discusses the permitting system that regulates all of this to see what’s going on.

3) The Greater One-Horned Rhino of South-East Asia

A few centuries ago, the Indian one-horned Rhinoceros ranged across the north Indian plains. Today this survivor from the prehistoric times is found only in pockets in the north east. The threat to this rhino are not dissimilar to those being experienced by the rhino’s in South Africa. The One-horned Indian Rhinos have suffered a catastrophic population decline at the hands of poachers, due to an unfortunate Chinese and now Vietnamese superstition that the Indian rhino horn contains “special powers” to reduce pain, fever epilepsy and strokes. The rising personal incomes and “new wealth” in these regions have proven to be a deadly combination for rhino populations in both Asia and Africa, now that an unprecedented number of people are eager to pay high sums of money for illegal products derived from endangered species.

 

Wildlife officials recently discovered grass laced with poisoned salt – the latest attempt by poachers to kill rhino! Herbivorous animals are attracted to the smell of salt. Increased numbers of forest guards and anti-poaching camps have seen poachers coming up with new ideas to lure rhinos out of the park and poison the animals. Officials say poachers often enter the park posing as visitors. Many of the protected areas with rhinos have now reached the limit of how many individuals they can support. This leads to rhino-human conflict as rhinos leave the boundaries of the protected area to forage around the surrounding villages. Rhinos, mainly females, reportedly kill several people each year in India and Nepal Throughout their range, their habitat continues to dwindle fast due to illegal logging and other human pressures, and the threat of poaching is ever-present. According to a recent report prepared for CITES, Kaziranga National Park is home to the largest greater one-horned rhino population in India, and has experienced an average population growth rate of 3.4% per annum. As of September 2009, the park’s rhino population stood at 2,048, with the total in India at 2,800.

Villagers living in the vicinity frequently provide information regarding the whereabouts of rhino, in exchange for money, although it is not known if they were involved in the poisoning incident. Forest guards have been deployed to keep wildlife away from the area, which has since been placed under close watch. Differing in appearance to the African Rhino species, the Indian Rhinoceros’ skin is knobbly and falls into deep folds at its joints, making it appear as if the Rhino is wearing a coat of armour and it has only one horn. The usual weight of an Indian Rhino is 2,000 kg.

4) VeldFokus

The last VeldFokus of the season and a bumper one at that! Next time we see you will be to award that marvellous Toyota prize. Save all those wonderful pictures for next season!

5) Eco-Warriors

We review all the Eco-Warriors episodes of the season and leave you with a strong environmental message.

Updated by David Devo Oosthuizen | Devographic

Upcoming 50|50 Episode 37, Monday 26 December 2011

1) Garth Owen-Smith Interview

Bonne chats to Garth Owen-Smith on the launch of his book “Arid Eden”. Garth has spent almost his entire working life fighting – not against a conventional enemy but against official ignorance, harsh climatic conditions, poachers and other enemies of Africa’s fast-diminishing wildlife. In the process, he has lived and worked in a number of countries but his chosen battlefield has always been the most challenging place of all: the harsh, beautiful and almost unknown Kaokoveld in north-western Namibia, his “Arid Eden”. He chose sides early on, when he spent two youthful years in the Kaokoveld and not only developed a deep affinity with the indigenous Himba, Herero and Damara pastoralists but realised that they had developed the ideal form of nature conservation, a situation in which humans and their livestock could live in equilibrium with wild game, so that there was room for all.

 

In 1970 he was thrown out of the Kaokoveld as an alleged security risk, then spent a year looking into conservation and the treatment of indigenous peoples in Australia, farmed for two years in Rhodesia, and did pioneering work in conservation education for black youths in South Africa. He finally managed to get back to South West Africa in 1978, and from there embarked on his life’s work, to save the remnants of the Kaokoveld’s rich wildlife, devastated by a variety of illegal hunters. And he succeeded, although it took him and his partner, Dr Margaret Jacobsohn, 27 years. They have won some of the world’s major conservation awards, north-western Namibia is a popular tourism destination and the Kaokoveld’s wildlife has come back from the brink of virtual extinction, and thousands of people have benifitted from the links they have forged between community development and natural resource management.

2) Seven Gill Sharks

At the beginning of April a local diving website raised the alarm that in just one week, 1.5 tons of sevengill sharks were caught off Cape point – just a few miles from Pyramid Rock, a popular spot where divers swim with groups sevengills. The sharks were being driven up to Gansbaai where the livers were purchased by a couple of cage diving companies in Gansbaai as chum for attracting White Sharks. While it was not illegal it was severely frowned upon by the shark researchers, divers and conservationists. Broadmouth sevengill sharks, commonly known as Seven Gills or Spotted Cowsharks are prehistoric and rare apex predators. They are social feeders and congregate in large groups of up to 18 individuals.

 

Distinctive features include their seven gill slits (versus the usual 5) and the absence of the front dorsal fin. Diving with sevengills is becoming more and more popular in the ecotourism sector and South Africa’s coastline offers the best visibility and easiest access to these primary predators in the world. They are not a protected species and recreational fishermen in South Africa can catch 10 sevengill sharks per day. There is a huge demand for South African shark fillets in Australia and we export tons of shark meat annually after it is processed in factories in Cape Town, Strand & Gansbaai. Sevengills are not targeted for export as their meat fetches a low price on the Australian market, around R4.50/kg. However, line fishermen are finding it more and more difficult to make a living from catching fish and desperation is driving them to target sharks more and more. Braam meets the scientists, speaks to the fishing industry and shark-cage dive-operators and discusses the permitting system that regulates all of this to see what’s going on.

3) The Greater One-Horned Rhino of South-East Asia

A few centuries ago, the Indian one-horned Rhinoceros ranged across the north Indian plains. Today this survivor from the prehistoric times is found only in pockets in the north east. The threat to this rhino are not dissimilar to those being experienced by the rhino’s in South Africa. The One-horned Indian Rhinos have suffered a catastrophic population decline at the hands of poachers, due to an unfortunate Chinese and now Vietnamese superstition that the Indian rhino horn contains “special powers” to reduce pain, fever epilepsy and strokes. The rising personal incomes and “new wealth” in these regions have proven to be a deadly combination for rhino populations in both Asia and Africa, now that an unprecedented number of people are eager to pay high sums of money for illegal products derived from endangered species.

 

Wildlife officials recently discovered grass laced with poisoned salt – the latest attempt by poachers to kill rhino! Herbivorous animals are attracted to the smell of salt. Increased numbers of forest guards and anti-poaching camps have seen poachers coming up with new ideas to lure rhinos out of the park and poison the animals. Officials say poachers often enter the park posing as visitors. Many of the protected areas with rhinos have now reached the limit of how many individuals they can support. This leads to rhino-human conflict as rhinos leave the boundaries of the protected area to forage around the surrounding villages. Rhinos, mainly females, reportedly kill several people each year in India and Nepal Throughout their range, their habitat continues to dwindle fast due to illegal logging and other human pressures, and the threat of poaching is ever-present. According to a recent report prepared for CITES, Kaziranga National Park is home to the largest greater one-horned rhino population in India, and has experienced an average population growth rate of 3.4% per annum. As of September 2009, the park’s rhino population stood at 2,048, with the total in India at 2,800.

Villagers living in the vicinity frequently provide information regarding the whereabouts of rhino, in exchange for money, although it is not known if they were involved in the poisoning incident. Forest guards have been deployed to keep wildlife away from the area, which has since been placed under close watch. Differing in appearance to the African Rhino species, the Indian Rhinoceros’ skin is knobbly and falls into deep folds at its joints, making it appear as if the Rhino is wearing a coat of armour and it has only one horn. The usual weight of an Indian Rhino is 2,000 kg.

4) VeldFokus

The last VeldFokus of the season and a bumper one at that! Next time we see you will be to award that marvellous Toyota prize. Save all those wonderful pictures for next season!

5) Eco-Warriors

We review all the Eco-Warriors episodes of the season and leave you with a strong environmental message.

Updated by David Devo Oosthuizen | Devographic

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