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My header today is the elephant in Kafue National Park who took a dislike to me and gave chase. You will notice that he is sniffing the air, meanwhile his pal who was still at the waterhole was about to join him for the attack
Hiccup ahead for the Weekly
My domain is registered with a company called GoDaddy. It is about to expire. So I may go off-air for a while. I have decided not to renew with that company. The founder, Bob Parsons, put a video on the internet of him killing an elephant. Here is his comment: It takes a guy like me to protect villagers’ crops from rogue elephants.
I can’t tell you my comment to a statement like this – it is unprintable …
From a website:
GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons posts a video showing him shooting an elephant. Parsons says the kill, in Zimbabwe, gave local farmers meat and protected their crops. Animal rights group PETA launches an online boycott of GoDaddy.
So, … I have no idea what will happen and may find myself getting a different domain. Just don’t panic … The
Weekly will continue …
During our travels in Kafue National Park in October we went north towards Lake Itezhi-Tezhi to see the elephant orphanage at Camp Phoenix. It is necessary to let them know that you are on the way, but Nanzhila Plains Safari Lodge will do that for you.
Venice and I trundled through the park watching the animals, taking photos and getting bitten by tsetse fly. All part of the fun. By the Nkala River we found Camp Phoenix and were told that the elephants would soon be arriving from their walk in the bush.
Before we could enter the elephant boma we had to don a green coat and pass infection control by walking through a dip and washing our hands. Each elephant has its own sleeping quarters – all within one shelter – with lots of grass to sleep on. Their feeding regime is written up on a board and all milk and pellets ready for feeding time.
When the elephants had marched back into camp with their keepers the two youngest ones were given a bottle of milk and the older ones a bucket of pellets.
After feeding time the elephants were left to relax in a nearby pool of water. The little ones were not very good at spraying themselves with water to cool down so, eventually, two of them decided that a sleep in the pond would be a better way of getting wet all over.
Meanwhile on the other side of the pond, Chidoba, the oldest, was using her trunk to push Rufunsa, the youngest, into the water.
We watched the elephants for about half an hour as they relaxed and realised how special a place this is
To raise orphaned elephants is not an easy job. Elephants are very intelligent animals and the bond between mother and baby is strong. When the mother is poached and the baby left alone, it not only dehydrates it also suffers extreme stress. A young elephant is dependent on its mother for 2 years, after that it becomes a member of the herd but will not mature for many years after that. Females can only conceive after about 9 years; males reach maturity at 10, although they are unlikely to be sufficiently dominant to father offspring until they are 35 years.
There are six elephants at the orphanage – Chidoba, Chamlandu, Batoka, Tafika, Kafue and Rufunsa. They and their keepers have developed a special bond of friendship, a family which offers support. The keepers are so attached to their wards and care deeply for them.
The orphanage is supported by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. David Shepherd, although now over 80 years old, is still tireless in his efforts to raise money for wildlife conservation all over the world. He and his family, though, have a special fondness for Zambia as it was home for them for many years.
Satellite-tagged Lesser Spotted Eagle killed in Zambia
A satellite tagged Lesser Spotted Eagle from Romania was killed in northern Zambia out of superstition…
On 24 October 2011 Tom Papp, President of the Milvus Group, received a letter from Zambia, David Chisala Ngwenyama a researcher who is following our online eagle tracking project and believes that one of our lesser spotted eagles was killed by locals:
“I am a researcher in Zambia’s Bangweulu Swamps and came across a story that I thought may be related to one of the Lesser Spotted Eagles your organisation is tracking. A few days ago some villagers in Kawambwa killed an Eagle, which according to the description had 2 rings and a solar powered satellite transmitter. Looking at your map, it seems that one of the Eagles from your project was in the area at the time. Could you please verify if you have lost track of one of the birds. I have attached the story below.
Best regards, David
David Chisala Ngwenyama, Bangweulu Shoebill Research
The letter was copied to the local press. Gadgets, which turned out to be a satellite transmitter and two rings, were believed by locals from Mutoba Village to have magical powers and therefore the eagle was beaten and burned to death:
“Magic Bird Hacked and Burnt In Kawambwa
By Godfrey Chikumbi in Kawambwa
An eagle believed to be superstitious was yesterday hacked and burnt to ashes in Kawambwa after it failed to fly for safety.
In what is believed to be a bizarre incident, a group of people from Mutoba village located 25 kilometers away from Kawambwa boma yesterday morning found what was believed to be a magic bird in the nearby bush. Narrating the ordeal to tumfweko.com village headman Mutoba said the bird fell from a tree that was being cut. He said when the bird fell down it lost strength and became so weak that it failed to make a flight as it was decorated with ornaments of different kind.
The headman said the creature had a metallic silver ring on each leg with inscriptions on them saying the right ring had letters ‘USA’ with the left having ‘1995’. He said on its chest the bird had a small Television screen with a solar panel and battery connected to it. The traditional leader added that on the bird’s back was a small motor car attached to a motorbike. Headman Mutoba said when some people started beating the creature with sticks it showed no sign of losing its life until after 3 hours. He said the creature was later burnt to ashes after hours of watching it.” We already suspected something was wrong with Lisa, born in Brasov County on 8th July 2011 and later fitted with a satellite transmitter. The last GPS co-ordinates were recorded on 15th October. This was followed by satellite broadcasts on October 18, 21 and 24, after which the transmitter became silent and no more messages were sent from her. In a letter sent by David Chisala Ngwenyama, he explains everything: the location indicated by the coordinate of the last record from the transmitter, and the described killing and burning at the same place and time … arising from religious fanaticism, cruelty and human stupidity – the victim being an eagle.
And, here is Lisa’s 8,535 km journey to her death in northern Zambia: Lisa’s 37 day voyage began on September 9, 2011. On 13
September she crossed the Bosporus and four days later reached Turkey. The Belen Pass on September 17, took between 6-8 hours to cross and in two days she reached the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula. Six days later, on 25th September, Lisa successfully left the Peninsula and finally succeeded in getting through the Suez Canal, reaching Africa and the Egyptian Nile Valley. She then travelled undisturbed across Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda. On 10th October she crossed the Equator. The last flight co-ordinates were recorded in Zambia on 15th October, having travelled 8,535km
Tourism Awards for Zambia
Sun International Zambia has again been recognised for its achievements. At the Imvelo Awards they won Best Social Involvement Programme and Best practice – Economic Impact. They were also finalists in the category: Best overall environmental management system. W ell done, Sun. Imvelo means ‘nature’ in South Africa’s Nguni languages. The organisation forms part of an ongoing hospitality industry campaign to encourage industry members to accept voluntary guidelines promoting responsible tourism. The awards are in line with the responsible tourism guidelines for the South African hospitality industry and the UN World Tourism Organisation’s code of ethics, and are supported by the Heritage Environmental Rating Programme.
At the World Travel Market, Robin Pope Safaris won joint Overall Winner of the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards plus winner in the Poverty Reduction category as well. Congratulations to Robin Pope Safaris
From Birdlife Zambia
Mfuwe Lodge, South Luangwa
Cathy Goody, Zambian Ornithological Society [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Not long after our arrival, we were trying to relax after an early start to the day, sitting on our balcony overlooking the stream, already considering the political correctness of finding a shot-gun to hush up a pair of demented fish-eagles, when one flew across to our chalet and went out of sight just to one side and below us. The other followed, but went to the other side, again, just out of sight. At that moment a Hadeda flew out from where the first one had disapppeared, with said Fish Eagle just behind it. At this point I realised that they had purposely flushed it out and we watched in amazement as the hapless Ibis flew to the other side of the clearing and tried to get enough height to reach to the treetops. It stood no chance – the Fish Eagle simply grabbed it effortlessly in its claws and took it down to the ground where it just kept re-adjusting its grip until, after about 15 minutes, the Hadeda ceased to struggle and lunch could begin. Interestingly, the second Fish Eagle did not partake in the spoils, but just left the area. What a start to the holiday!
News update from: Elephant Orphanage Project
Only days after little Musolole was rescued in Sioma Ngwesi, the EOP team was called out to Livingstone to help with another orphaned elephant calf!
Russell Young from Maramba River Lodge had noticed a small elephant wandering along the banks of the Maramba River, Livngstone for a few days. By day 7 it was apparent that the
calf had been isolated from his herd and was starting to lose condition. With tremendous support from ZAWA Livingstone and other volunteers the young elephant ‘Maramba’ was rescued and the EOP team arrived with a crate to safely transport the young bull to Lusaka.
On arrival to Lusaka Maramba immediately calmed down as he joined Kavalamanja and Musolole who are being kept at a staging post before their translocation to the Kafue National Park Release Facility.
Under the age of two years old elephant calves are very vulnerable and require a high level of care, especially if they have undergone periods of starvation and stress. With the ever growing herd of orphaned elephants at EOP we have identified the need to spilt the elephants into two groups: milk suckling calves and post weaned elephants. As the orphans are weaned from milk they need to spend more time in the bush, feeding for themselves and with minimal human contact, the opposite requirement to the young and newly rescued fragile babies who frequently need veterinary support. So for now the three recently rescued orphans will remain in Lusaka until they are healthier and stronger.
As always it is always so exciting to witness these orphaned elephants being brought together after their tragic separation from their natal families. Despite all being boisterous bulls, these three young elephants have already helped one another to heal their wounds and emotional scars as they learn to live within a new little family…
Zimbabwe has started using ethanol-blended petrol again. The ethanol is produced from sugar cane and can be added to normal petrol at 10% of volume. The blended petrol is available in Harare and is selling marginally cheaper – US$1.36 against US$1.44.
The sugar plantations are in Chisambanje, Southeast Zimbabwe where 7,000 hectares are under cultivation
New Mining Licences in the proposed Kavango- Zambezi Transfrontier Park
Conservancy and Tourism Association of Matabeleland has complained to government over the issuance of mining licences to four mining companies in the Gwaai-Shangani area. The Environmental Management Agency has warned of environmental damage should full- scale mining go ahead.
It seems, however, that although the companies are required to submit and Environmental Impact Assessment, some are already operating without them.
More Mining W orries
A Chinese-owned milling company in Shamva is milling ore to extract gold. Mercury is used in the process. After separation, the balance of the ore is dumped in a huge pile which is now approximately 15 feet high, 30 feet wide and 60 feet long and the complainants are concerned that there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that the mercury is removed from the waste ore prior to dumping.
There are concerns that when the rain comes the mercury will be washed out of the dump and find its way into the Mazoe River. The mercury will kill the fish and can also cause many illnesses in humans including cancer.
Harare City Council has bought 5,000 new water meters. They say that it is to curb the theft of treated water and boost revenue collection. The Director of Harare Water says that they lose about half of their treated water through theft, pipe bursts and leakage.
Gill Comment: Maybe a bit of maintenance on the pipes wouldn’t go amiss – the water delivery in Harare is absolutely shocking.
It’s not too late to save Namibia’s rhinos
Save the Rhino Trust
At the start of our Operation Stop Poaching
Now appeal, we said we feared it was only a
matter of time before the recent rhino poaching crisis started in Namibia. Very unfortunately, this is now the case. A confirmed rhino poaching incident took place in October, and there couldn’t have been a crueller way to treat an animal.
Whilst we believe that we can halt this worrying trend before it has a chance to escalate, we need your help, now more than ever.
On 25 October, a young black rhino carcass was discovered during a routine patrol by conservancy game guards in the Kunene Region in north-west Namibia. According to reports, the carcass was approximately four weeks old.
The calf was caught in a snare, which was set by poachers in a shallow hole and tied to a nearby tree. According to game rangers at the scene, “there was no chance for it to get away, he couldn’t move”. It is estimated that
it took seven days for the calf to die from starvation and thirst while it was attached to the wire snare. According to Bernd Brell, Director of Field Operations at Save the Rhino Trust, a Namibian NGO that we have supported for many years, tracks indicate that the young rhino’s mother did not leave her offspring for a number of days after it had died. Fortunately she had left by the time the poachers returned or the patrol would have found two dead rhinos.
Bernd reported that the poachers removed the horns of the calf before they cut off its hind leg to hide the evidence of a snare. They then split open the carcass’s belly from the throat to the back in order to attract scavengers, in the hope that no trace of the animal and no sign of poaching would remain. Although their plan was foiled as scavengers had not finished the carcass, it is a shame that the calf had not been tagged due to its young age.
This was very much a planned poaching incident, unlike the case in Wabi Game Reserve in May 2011. Although there have been four recorded cases of rhino poaching in Namibia since 2006 according to CITES, the evidence has tended to be inconclusive. Often any rhino horn theft has seemed most likely to be opportunistic, with a person stumbling on a rhino carcass and deciding to steal the horn, for example, rather than orchestrating a planned rhino poaching raid.
The Kunene Region has not experienced any confirmed rhino poaching since 1994 when drastic measures were undertaken to bring rhino poaching under control. This has undoubtedly been a successful approach up until
now, but with nearly 400 reported cases of rhino poaching in South Africa alone this year, conservationists across the world have expressed their utmost concern of the threat of the poaching spilling over the border into neighboring Namibia. We couldn’t agree more.
The incident demonstrates the importance of the proactive anti-poaching and monitoring work carried out by the Save the Rhino Trust in close cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. Fortunately, we have secured funding from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s Rhino and Tiger Conservation Fund for a Scene of the Crime training course to be held in Namibia in February 2012. Scene of the Crime training helps the rangers identify signs of poaching activity; poachers will sometimes leave hats or food, for example, and the rangers will sometimes find clear, usable fingerprints in the blood on the carcass. The training should put them in the best possible position to process a crime scene, leading to successful prosecution of rhino-related crimes.
You may recall from our last Operation Stop Poaching Now update that we set aside £7,000 for Save the Rhino Trust, which helps monitor the rhino population in the Kunene Region, thus providing a significant deterrent to poaching as well as detecting any illegal activity. We have also set aside approximately £10,000 for the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the government agency responsible for all of Namibia’s black rhinos.
It is encouraging that MET’s Permanent Secretary, Dr Kalumbi Shangula, and Minister Netumbo Nandi- Ndaitwah are keen advocates for the environment and fully realise the poaching threat from neighbouring countries.
Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said “We are carefully monitoring the situation in neighbouring countries as unscrupulous people driven by greed are using sophisticated methods to slaughter rhinos for short-term riches.”
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism and M TC launched a toll-free number to fight rhino poaching earlier this year. Brell urged persons with information on any incident or threat to rhinos to send a free SMS to 55555 to alert the Ministry or to report a poaching incident that has already happened.
Of course continued anti-poaching efforts are also necessary across sub-Saharan Africa to ensure that rhino poaching crisis seen in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya does not spread to other countries. You can donate to the rhino protection efforts of any of the four countries but if you prefer to support a particular country, donations to Namibia would be most timely. It’s amazing what even a small amount will buy for the teams, and we hope to be able to stop this before it is too late.
Caprivi Regional Boundary Moved
The boundary for the Caprivi Region has been moved about 100 km into the present Caprivi Strip. It seems
that the movement of the boundary was decided upon about 10 years ago by the Delimitation Commission but was never enacted. This section of the Caprivi has become part of the Kavango Region.
The residents of the affected region are angry that they were never consulted and vow to protest.
Black rhinos airlifted by their ankles to safe haven
From New Scientist
Chelsea Whyte, contributor (Image: Michael Raimondo/Green Renaissance/WWF)
A flying rhinoceros is about as likely as a flying pig, but this picture is no exaggeration.
The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) airlifted 19 black rhinos out of the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, moving them 1500 kilometres north to the Limpopo province to put the rhinos out of range of poachers.
The rotund animals, which can weigh between 800 and 1400 kilograms, were anesthetised and blindfolded before being lifted by their ankles with long straps connected to a helicopter. After a ten- minute flight, the rhinos are transferred to trucks, which transport them the rest of the journey. This new technique for relocating large animals reduces the stress on the rhinos and eases transportation through dangerous or uneven areas.
“Previously rhinos were either transported by lorry over very difficult
tracks, or airlifted in a net,” says project leader Jacques Flamand. “This new procedure is gentler on the darted rhino because it shortens the time it has to be kept asleep with drugs, the respiration is not as compromised as it can be in a net and it avoids the need for travel in a crate over terrible tracks.”
This group of 19 rhinos is the seventh population that WWF’s Black Rhino Range Expansion Project has relocated. There are only 4500 members of the species left globally.
Seven Natural Wonders of the World
I was always under the impression that the Seven Natural Wonders of the World were the Victoria Falls, Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef, Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, M ount Everest, Aurora and Parícutin volcano. It seems, though, that a Swiss-based organisation decided that there should be another list – the New 7 Wonders of the World.
Since 2007 they have been collecting photos and information of spectacular sights, making a final list of around
28, and then plugging them to governments and organisations. The cost of entry was US$199. Finally on
11.11.11, there was a global vote via the internet and the New 7 Wonders were chosen:
Amazon, Halong Bay, Iguazu Falls, Jeju Island, Komodo, Puerto Princesa Underground River, Table Mountain.
One can only wonder why this organisation took it upon themselves to find a new list and to take so much effort and go to such obvious costs … Here are some comments:
A four-year long competition to name the seven wonders of the natural world has run into controversy after governments accused the organisers of asking for millions of dollars in marketing costs.
But after initially paying a registration fee of $199 (£125) to enter, each country was then asked to take part in a high-profile global marketing campaign that included a world tour.
In May, the Maldives government moved to withdraw from the competition after receiving a “surprise” demand for half a million dollars. They were followed in August by the Indonesian government, representing Komodo Island national park, who said the organisers wanted $10m dollars in licensing fees and $47m dollars to host
the closing ceremony.
Gordon Oliver, a former mayor of Cape Town, whose Table Mountain is on the shortlist, told the Cape Times: “What authority does this organisation have to determine a natural wonder as a finalist? It’s important that our authorities get the credentials of such organisations who set themselves up as the authority to decide the prominence of natural features.”
And, finally from the Cape Times
By Tony weaver
BAH! Humbug! That’s my own personal reaction to the campaign to have Table Mountain declared one of the
“New7Wonders” of the natural world. “Wat ‘n klomp tos,” as my late friend, Ronnie Morris would have said.
Besides the fact that the entire campaign has absolutely no standing internationally, why should we be particularly worked up about trying to get some Swiss company that is making billions of bucks to declare our mountain one of the “new” wonders of the world?
Sure, Table Mountain’s a nice piece of rock, but it really is nothing more than an accident of erosion. If you want to make geologist jokes, you could say it is a “gneiss big inselberg.”
I also think that the people who’ve put together this “New Seven Wonders” campaign are remarkably unimaginative: Table Mountain is just so in your face, so obvious. A bit like Kilimanjaro, the only other contender from Africa (at least the cloud on Table Mountain lifts from time to time so that we can actually see our lump of rock, as opposed to the poor residents of Moshi and Arusha in Tanzania, who seldom get to see what Kili actually looks like.)
I mean, there are hundreds of other natural events and features in Africa that could have qualified, but then, I suppose that when you’re running a marketing campaign to make some bucks, you don’t want to promote anything that can’t pay its own way with branding, merchandising and logo copyrighting. Call me cynical, but I’ll bet their marketing guys looked at our genuine natural wonder, the Cape Floral Kingdom and the fynbos biome and said “geez, how do we design a logo that shows 8 000 plants?”
Even harder to stick on a logo (and let’s face it, you can’t really get warm and fuzzy about them) are the eight million fruit bats that migrate every November from the Congo to the Mushitu swamp forest in the Bangweulu Wetlands of Zambia’s Kasanka National Park. It’s the world’s biggest animal migration, but I suppose that doesn’t really qualify as a natural wonder because there is only limited and difficult access to the area, and the surrounding tribespeople can’t really afford the branding fees. …
If you look carefully at the 28 finalists that this Swiss company has elevated to the final countdown to their seven new natural wonders of the world, they are all international tourist attractions. Why? Because they are accessible to western travellers and are easy to market (with access to tourism dollars to pay for the branding).
Small-scale Hydro Power
One of my Canadian readers sent me some information on small-scale hydro power. So I thought I would share the information because, to me, many villages along flowing water can have small hydro schemes set up
nearby to produce enough electricity for their community. This would negate the need to run huge power lines to rural communities across the bush at vast expense. Of course, it would have work alongside solar energy. It just seems to me that countries in southern Africa are doing far too little to research alternative energy. We keep making more and more horrid big dams … surely there has to be a way we can get power without destroying our environment.
Small-scale micro hydro power is both an efficient and reliable form of energy, most of the time. However,
there are certain disadvantages that should be considered before constructing a small hydro power system. It is crucial to have a grasp of the potential energy benefits as well as the limitations of hydro technology. There are some common misconceptions about micro-hydro power that need to be addressed. With the right research
and skills, micro hydro can be an excellent method of harnessing renewable energy from small streams. This
article will attempt to outline some of the advantages and disadvantages of small scale water turbines.
Micro Hydro Pros – Advantages
Efficient energy source – It only takes a small amount of flow (as little as two gallons per minute) or a drop as low as two feet to generate electricity with micro hydro. Electricity can be delivered as far as a mile away to the location where it is being used.
Reliable electricity source – Hydro produces a continuous supply of electrical energy in comparison to other small-scale renewable technologies. …
No reservoir required – Microhydro is considered to function as a ‘run-of-river’ system, meaning that the water passing through the generator is directed back into the stream with relatively little impact on the surrounding ecology.
Cost effective energy solution – Building a small-scale hydro-power system can cost from $1,000 – $20,000,
depending on site electricity requirements and location. Maintenance fees are relatively small in comparison to other technologies.
Power for developing countries – Because of the low-cost versatility and longevity of micro hydro, developing countries can manufacture and implement the technology to help supply much needed electricity to small communities and villages.
Integrate with the local power grid – If your site produces a large amount of excess energy, some power companies will buy back your electricity overflow. You also have the ability to supplement your level of micro power with intake from the power grid.
Micro Hydro Cons – Disadvantages
Suitable site characteristics required – In order to take full advantage of the electrical potential of small streams, a suitable site is needed. Factors to consider are: distance from the power source to the location where energy
is required, stream size (including flow rate, output and drop), and a balance of system components — inverter,
batteries, controller, transmission line and pipelines.
Energy expansion not possible – The size and flow of small streams may restrict future site expansion as the power demand increases.
Low-power in the summer months – In many locations stream size will fluctuate seasonally. … Advanced
planning and research will be needed to ensure adequate energy requirements are met. Environmental impact – The ecological impact of small-scale hydro is minimal; however the low-level environmental effects must be taken into consideration before construction begins. Stream water will be diverted away from a portion of the stream, and proper caution must be exercised to ensure there will be no damaging impact on the local ecology or civil infrastructure.
General Microhydro Information from Picoturbine
They offer plans, books, and kits for renewable energy education and homebrew projects. Projects are available as free, downloadable do-it-yourself plans, as well as kits that include all the materials for a modest charge. Have some hard-to-find books on homebuilt renewable energy and classic renewable energy titles.
Beyond the Victoria Falls
I have got some more copies of my book. If anyone wants copies for their lodge or for themselves, please get in touch with me.
Otherwise, the books are available in: Livingstone – Bookworld
Lusaka – Bookworld
Vic Falls Town – Ilala Lodge and some to be delivered to Backpackers Bazaar during the week
Harare – Feredays, Sam Levy’s Kasane – Bookshop at Audi Centre Katima Mulilo – Tutwa Tourism
The book continues to get good reviews and, although I am a bit biased (!), I
think it is a handy book to carry around when travelling our region.
A man is cupping his hand to scoop water from a Highland burn.
A Gamekeeper shouts, Dinnae drink tha waaater! Et’s foo ae coo’s shite an pish!
The man replies, M y Good fellow, I’m from England. Could you repeat that in English for me.
The keeper replies, I said, use two hands – you spill less that way!!!
Have a good week