South Africa’s wildlife attracts the attention of thousands of international tourists every year. The National Parks are famous for the big five, the smaller five and huge diversity in landscapes. The international community is also well aware of some the challenges that South African conservation faces and as a result they donate money, support our conservation industry and some even come here, to South Africa, to volunteer. Tourist-volunteers pay to be accommodated at wildlife centres and then work as labourers, cleaning cages, feeding orphaned animals and cuddling cubs. However, while these volunteers feel like they are contributing to saving a species, this is not always the case. Lions bred in captivity very rarely get put back into the wild and what happens to them once the volunteers leave? We can only guess. Some lion cubs are handled so often they sustain many injuries and more sinister is the later use of lion cubs for canned hunting and the lion bone trade. We cannot help but ask what some of these organisations are doing with so many animals? And if our international volunteers knew about some the more sinister practices, would they still be offering their services?
Tracks of Giants
While political boundaries mean the difference between nationalities, and the need for your passport, they mean nothing to the elephants of Sub-Saharan Africa. But these boundaries are becoming fences for the massive travelling herds and so a team of conservationists led by Ian McCallum and Ian Michler embarked on a five-month long trip to address some of the trans-frontier issues. They follow the ancient African elephant migration paths and travel from Namibia to Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. Their purpose – to look at conservation issues with the underlying themes being Trans-frontier Conservation, corridors for animals, appropriate land-use practices, cooperation between people and organizations, as well as the issue of hunting versus tourism. Some encounters are good and some scarier but they gather the wisdom of ancient peoples along the way.
At the beginning of the month, we saw Hurricane Sandy destroying the homes of New York residents. In the wild, our African animals have to deal with severe weather conditions as well. The floods in the Eastern Cape have changed the landscape for better and for worse in some reserves. Johann takes us to have a look at what the bush is like when under water
Our viewers have taken out those macro-lenses again to catch some of the smaller things in action. A water scorpion tries to take on a n oversized frog, we see a praying mantis lay her egg casing and we find out about some strange, red nymphs.