Category Archives: South Africa

Calling the World to help save African Elephants


African Elephants


WildlifeDirect supports the African Elephant Coalition (AEC) in the call to the world to help save African elephants.

As an organization that has been in the forefront calling for a total ban on all ivory trade, WildlifeDirect urges other African countries not represented at the meeting held in Montreux, Switzerland from 24 to 26 June 2016 to join AEC in this call to save the our iconic species that are in danger of extinction if nothing is done.

In a press release by AEC, 29 member states call on all governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations for their support, and calls on citizens around the world to ask their respective governments and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) representatives to support the five proposals and to help the Coalition in its mission to list all elephants in Appendix I.

The Coalition of 29 African member states submitted to CITES five proposals designed to reverse the poaching crisis facing elephants and to put an end to the ivory trade to afford elephants the highest protection under international law.

The five proposals are:

  1. Listing all elephants in CITES Appendix I
  1. Closure of domestic ivory markets
  1. Ivory stockpile destruction and management
  1. The Decision-Making Mechanism for a process of trade in ivory (DMM)
  1. Restricting trade in live elephants

AEC agreed to launch a social media campaign in a bid to gain support for the five proposals to the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) of CITES in September-October in Johannesburg, South Africa. We invite you to use the hashtags #WorthMoreAlive, #EndIvoryTrade and #Vote4Elephants to support the campaign.

Speaking at the meeting in Montreux, Bourama Niagaté from Mali, a member of the Council of the Elders for the Coalition noted that there was need for all relevant stakeholders to pull together for the sake of Africa’s elephants.

Kenya, a member state of AEC has taken a zero tolerance approach to poaching and ivory trafficking.

In April this year, Kenya took a bold step in burning 105 tons of ivory and 1.5 tons of rhino horn. This is reportedly the world’s largest stockpile of elephant ivory and rhino horns ever to be burnt. The historic burn demonstrated Kenya’s commitment to seeking a total global ban of ivory and rhino horns.

Speaking at the burn, President Uhuru Kenyatta said, “by destroying ivory we declare once and for all that our national heritage is not for sale”. The only value that ivory has is tusks on a live elephant.

It is this commitment from the highest level of government and collaboration with conservationists and law enforcement that has seen Kenya achieve 80 percent reduction in deaths of elephants in the last three years.


You can download the Press Release Here

Halloween Owls and witches in Africa

Someone asked me if we go ‘trick or treating’ in Africa to celebrate Halloween. Apart from expatriates, we generally do not. In fact many Africans may be surprised at the idea of celebrating scary superstitions.

Sadly superstitions abound in Africa and often to the detriment of wildlife. In South Africa it is believed that consuming the eyes of vultures will give you good eyesight.

According to Kobus du Toit

“The vulture is used because of its good eye sight and local people believe if they use certain parts of the bird (head) that it will help them to see in the future”

He recommends the banning of carbofuran because “Companies develop toxic products to be used in first world countries in a responsible way. When third world countries used these products it is not usually for the primary cause what the product was developed. When a product is misused as in the case of Furadan a company can be responsible to the extinction of a species (e.g. Cape vulture in South Africa). The monetary value that a company can earn in a third world country will never match the negative publicity when a species is exterminated from the earth”

Owls are feared around the world and in Africa are  viewed as the dreaded bearers of bad fortune and are killed indiscriminately in many parts of Africa, nests are often raided and eggs smashed or chicks killed.

Fortunately its not all bad news as some brave people are trying to change cultural traditions to save owls. Darcy Ogada and Paul Murithi have been monitoring the rare and beautiful Mackinders owls in an agricultural area of Kenya where such cultural taboos abound .

From a study of 16 pairs of owls, Darcy and Paul noted that some farming practices threaten this population, particularly the poisoning of owl prey with pesticides. They found that 28% of farmers said they controlled vertebrate pests using pesticides, but they believe the figure to be much higher and note  “we also noticed that carbofuran (tradename Furadan) was often misused to kill vertebrate pests”.

Mackinders Owl

To change perceptions about owls and therefore save them, Paul and Darcy are promoting owl tourism, these beautiful owls are a draw for bird tourists and the income generated from this supports individual farmers and community projects. Farmers who benefit from owl tourism are likely to know about owl diet and habits.  Paul is hoping that this will be key to saving them.

This work has not gone unnoticed as  Tony Warburton of the World Owl Trust has noted

“In his village of Kiawara near Mount Kenya, Paul has defied his community’s traditional fears by using owls as a tourist attraction. For the past five years he has been feeding and protecting owls in their natural habitat in the forest near his home. This has resulted in some 26 birds becoming habituated to human presence, some of which perch calmly in the branches of nearby trees, while others roost by day in caves scattered across the forest. He has erected roadside signs to attract foreign tourists who pay Paul to guide them to view these elusive birds. Thus, he has demonstrated to his fellow villagers that wildlife – even owls – can provide them with a source of income if only they and their habitat are protected. To reinforce this message, Paul encourages them to appreciate the enormous value of the birds by providing the same services to local people, free of charge. Truly a ‘Champion of Owls’ if ever I heard of one”.

Tony has nominated Paul for an award for his brave dedication to changing taboos about owls, and to encourage him to continue. We congratulate Paul and wish everyone a very happy Halloween.

South Africa’s Problem with 3,000 Canned Hunting Lions

Recently, as is usually the case, a passionate discussion erupted here at Baraza following a post about Uganda’s sport hunting plan. While I believe that Uganda’s plan to get into sport hunting is unwise, not all agreed with me. Although the ‘to hunt or not to hunt’ debate is not anywhere near the end, when a new voice comes in, a new view emerges. Most of the time, this new view continues to discredit this barbaric and unnecessary so called ‘sport’.

Lion in Kenya
A lion in Kenya (photo courtesy of Ewaso Lions)

Some time ago, an article appeared on showing the dilemma that South Africa has found itself in after a court ruling more or less banned canned the so called hunting. Now they are grappling with some 3,000 odd lions that have been bred in captivity for the sole purpose of being shot by foreign tourists at the price of  $22,000 per lion. As Mike Cohen writes on Blomberg:

“Lions bred for hunting are often shot after just a few days in the wild. In captivity they are mostly fed on donkey meat bought from rural communities. After their release from breeding cages they catch and eat game that the farmers have acquired for their estates.”

This case exposes one of the hidden vices of sport hunting – canned hunting – a cruel and mindless practice that should never have seen the light of day.

When the sport hunting becomes popular in Uganda for instance, the chances are that many ranchers will want to convert their land into wildlife producing factories where, say, lions can be bred for shooting or antelopes can be bred for feeding the lions. Eventually, someone will challenge canned hunting in Uganda and they will find themselves in the same situation that South Africa is in presently.

Kenyans are currently bothered by there being only 2,100 lions in the country and that if they continue losing the lions at the current rate of 100 lions a year, they will have no lions in 20 years. South Africa on the other hand has more lions than Kenya but they are hunting them at a higher rate, and Tanzania is even worse. Cohen says

More than 300 lions are hunted in South Africa every year, with trophy hunters coming from countries including the U.S., Russia and Spain. That makes South Africa the second-biggest destination for lion hunting after Tanzania, where wild lions are shot. About 1,000 lions are hunted each year in Africa. 

You should note that South Africa has not stopped hunting of lions. Only canned hunting – which more or leas means the captive breeding of lions for the sole purpose of being shot – has been made illegal by the court of law. Of course, the greedy business people who make millions from this ugly business have appealed to have the court ruling overturned. What did you expect?

They are even using the prospects of losing some 5,000 jobs as a reason why canned hunting should be reinstated. They even have an association for that. Cohen writes:

The South African Predator Breeders Association has warned that the judgment may shut an industry that employs 5,000 people because farmers can’t afford to keep lions on their estates for long periods of time due to the cost of the antelopes they would eat. It also argued that the lions may need to be euthanized as the legislation reduced their commercial value.  

Let’s see how the court handles this.