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Kruger Park e-Times

October / November 2009 - e4

How To

Feed The World in


Karoo National Park to Introduce Lions

New Trails in Kruger

Kruger National Park Steps Up Fight Against Poachers

photo: Lynette Strauss


Politicians, unite… and scientists, speak up!

Writing exclusively for a special is- sue of Physics World on the “energy puzzle”, the physicist Lord Browne, former BP chief executive, asserts that politicians need to avoid com- partmentalizing energy and climate- change issues - and to work across Government and with international partners to pursue action that binds economic prosperity, national secu- rity and environmental integrity. If all goes to plan, political leaders at December’s United Nations Cli- mate Change Conference in Copen- hagen (COP15) will agree to a succes- sor to the Kyoto protocol and make further promises to cut greenhouse- gas emissions. But the issue will, as always, be how to put those promises into action. To mark the significance of the occasion, this issue of Physics World looks at the scientific challenges of the energy and climate-change prob- lem, and at the political hurdles and the importance of communicating the right messages, at the right pitch, to much wider audiences. In addition to calling for joined-up political thinking, Lord Browne also says we should rethink the state’s role in energy markets. “The market is the most effective delivery system avail- able to society,” he says, “but it needs strategic direction and a framework of rules if it is to provide the more diversified energy structure that we urgently need.” On the challenge of communica- tion, Joseph Romm, a physicist at the US think tank Center for Ameri- can Progress, says that scientists, and physicists in particular, need to do more to warn the world of the dan- gers of climate change. As he writes, “The fate of perhaps the next 100 billion people to walk the Earth rests with scientists try- ing to communicate the dire nature of the climate problem as well as the ability of the media, the public, opinion-makers and political leaders to understand and deal with that sci- ence.”

Conservation Targets Too Small to Stop Extinction

C onservation biologists are set- ting their minimum popula-

tion size targets too low to pre- vent extinction.

rule is at least an order of magnitude too small to effectively stave off extinction,” says Dr Traill. “This does not necessarily imply that populations smaller than 5000 are doomed. But it does highlight the chal- lenge that small populations face in adapt- ing to a rapidly changing world.” Team member Professor Richard Frankham, from Macquarie University’s Department of Biological Sciences, says:

“Genetic diversity within populations al- lows them to evolve to cope with environ- mental change, and genetic loss equates to fragility in the face of such changes.” Conservation biologists worldwide are battling to prevent a mass extinction event in the face of a growing human population and its associated impact on the planet. “The conservation management bar needs to be a lot higher,” says Dr Traill. “However, we shouldn’t necessarily give up on critically endangered species num- bering a few hundred of individuals in the

wild. Acceptance that more needs to be done if we are to stop ‘managing for ex- tinction’ should force decision makers to be more explicit about what they are aiming for, and what they are willing to trade off, when allo- cating con-

s e r v a t i o n funds.” Other re-

s e a r c h e r s

in the study are Associ- ate Profes- sor Corey B r a d s h a w and Profes- sor Barry B both from the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute. The paper is on- line at con.2009.09.01 Photo: Ian Whyte


That’s according to a new study by Uni-

versity of Adelaide and Macquarie Univer- sity scientists which has shown that popula- tions of endangered species are unlikely to persist in the face of global climate change and habitat loss unless they number around 5000 mature individuals or more. The findings have been published online in a paper ‘Pragmatic population viability targets in a rapidly changing world’ in the journal Biological Conservation. “Conservation biologists routinely under- estimate or ignore the number of animals or plants required to prevent extinction,”

says lead author Dr Lochran Traill, from the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute.

“Often, they aim to maintain tens or hundreds of individuals, when thousands are actually needed. Our review found that populations smaller than about 5000 had unacceptably high extinction rates. This suggests that many targets for conserva- tion recovery are simply too small to do much good in the long run.”

are simply too small to do much good in the long run.” A long- standing idea

A long-

standing idea in species restoration programs is the so-called ‘50/500’ rule. This states that at least 50 adults are required to avoid the damaging ef- fects of inbreeding, and 500 to avoid ex- tinctions due to the inability to evolve to cope with environmental change. “Our research suggests that the 50/500





The Kruger Park e-Times is published regularly to keep you updated on conservation, science, sustainable development and tourism issues in and around South Africa’s national parks, transfrontier parks and other environmental hotspots. Send your comments and contributions to:

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Kruger National Park Steps Up Fight Against Poachers

Lynette Strauss

W ith the appointment of

57 new field rangers, the

Kruger National Park

(KNP) is stepping up its

crime fighting ability against the increas- ing incidences of rhino and other animal poaching. This according to South African National Parks, chief executive, Dr David Mabunda, who said the new recruits will be adopting a multi-disciplinary approach and will draw on the skills and expertise of various law enforcement agencies involved in the fight against poaching of South Africa’s fauna and flora. “We as a conservation agency and the public at large are paying a high price with these senseless killings of our animals, while

some leader of a syndicate is winning the minds and hearts of ordinary and poor members of society to be on the frontline of these evil operations.” Dr Mabunda was speaking at the recent field ranger training pass out parade which took place in Skukuza in October.

Mabunda warned poachers that their ‘days are numbered.’ “We are on their trail and closing up quickly on them.” He said the country continues to lose ani- mals through poaching. “Since the beginning of the year the country has lost 94 rhinos, of which 38 was lost in KNP, seven in Gauteng, nine in Limpopo, five in Mpumalanga, 10 in North West, four in the Eastern Cape and 21 in Kwa-Zulu Natal.” To date SANParks rangers have arrested 22 poachers “Our cross-border operations which include patrols with members of the South African Police Services, and our counterparts in Mozambique have yielded huge successes.” The Kruger National Park is divided into three regions - Nxanatseni in the north, Nkayeni in the central area and Marula in the south. There are 22 ranger sections. The parade was inspected by SANParks top rangers, Dr Mabunda and high ranking officials of the SAPS and SANDF border patrol units. According to Dr Mabunda a total of

R5, 2 million has been invested in the fight against poachers. “The funds allocated have been used to acquire amongst others motorbikes, bicy- cles, a bantam aircraft to be used in patrols and night surveillance equipment as poach- ers often conduct their operations at night. Dr Mabunda welcomed the decision by the South African Government to return the military to patrol the 450 km national border on the eastern boundary of the KNP. The withdrawl of the military forces in this area three years ago increased the bur- den of Kruger’s rangers . “Discussions with the military are already at an advance stage and an announcement in this regard will be made soon. Photo: Laura Mukwevho

The South African National Parks, chief executive, Dr David Mabunda and lieutenant colonel Gavin Willard of South African National Defence Force inspect the pass-out drill.

Willard of South African National Defence Force inspect the pass-out drill. kruger park times - 3

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Migration myths dispelled in UNDP report

Most migrants do not move from developing to developed countries, and when they do, rather than hurt- ing host economies, they benefit them, according to a new report by the UN Development Programme (UNDP). The UNDP’s Human Develop- ment Report 2009, launched globally on 5 October in Bangkok, dispels sev- eral myths about migration, instead underlining the economic and social benefits for countries. “Mobility can bring large gains in development,” Jeni Klugman, di- rector of the report, told IRIN. “It’s presently very much constrained by a whole range of barriers, and reform [of] these barriers could allow much greater potential to be released.” The annual report calls for sev- eral migration reforms, including for states to ensure basic rights for migrants, and the mainstreaming of migration into national development plans. © IRIN. All rights reserved.

Honorary Rangers’ Counter Poaching Raises More Than R1 million in Last Year

S ince the beginning of 2008, the Honorary Rangers Coun- ter Poaching and Ranger Sup- port Services National Project

(CP&RSS) has raised over R1 million from events and cash donations and donated two motor boats, cyber trackers and essential specialised equipment for counter poaching operations and ranger field equipment. The Honorary Rangers (HR) organisa- tion comprises volunteers who focus their efforts in support of South African National Parks (SANParks). The counter poaching section of the HR is chaired by John Turner of the Johan- nesburg region. They have developed a well tested fundraising model where they offer two popular products in the Kruger

National Park that raises funds in support of the Environmental Crime Investigation unit and to obtain equipment for the rang-

ers in the parks. These include the Sunset Serenade Weekend in Letaba Camp where classical music enthusiasts enjoy light classical mu- sic performed in the bush settings and the Mokhohlolo Bush Camp w e e k e n d s aimed at influential people who care about biodiversity and nature


tion and are happy to contrib- ute finan- cially to this cause. This year they ran five Mokhohlolo camps (two in April and three in July/Au- gust) over three nights each at a

private bush

camp 300m

from the Mokhohlolo Dam between Lower Sabie and Crocodile Bridge in section rang- er Neels van Wyk’s area. The Mokhohlolo Dam, which means “to cough” in Tsonga and aptly named after the presence of the local leopard popula- tion, has water throughout the year, even in the middle of winter and so in addition to the resident hippos, it attracts a stream of game from elephant to flocks of birds. During their stay, guests enjoy early morning and afternoon bush walks under the guidance of highly qualified trail rang- ers and the opportunity to observe a game capture exercise conducted by Johan Malan and the veterinary wildlife services game capture team. Accommodation are in two-man tents with communal ablution facilities, a mess tent and a full bar. Perhaps the most im- portant aspect is the communal camp fire where participants meet for coffee before sunrise and bond in the moonlight over a few drinks until late. The camp fire is the place where the world’s problems are fully debated and regularly solved. A typi- cal scene will see a lively discussion about biodiversity and conservation issues which often result in donation huge pledges for specific projects in the parks. The camp and events are run by the ex- perienced team of John Turner and Snowy Botha supported by section ranger Neels van Wyk and the camp offers excellent Af- rican bush cuisine. Recently the CP&RSS hosted a group of zoo keepers led by Peter Clark, director of the Adelaide City Zoo and the largest open zoo in the world. The 1 500 hectare Mon- arto Open Range Zoo, is situated north of Adelaide in South Australia. This group of well informed animal lov- ers stayed in a rugged bush camp in a wil- derness setting where they observed animals in their natural habitat. They exchanged technical notes with the game capture team on sedative darts and capture techniques. A Mokhohlolo camp accommodates 20 guests and the cost this year was R150 000 per camp or R7 500 per person. For more information about the 2010 Mok- hohlolo bush camps contact John Turner @ Photo: Dominic Barnhardt

bush camps contact John Turner @ Photo: Dominic Barnhardt kruger park times - 4- kruger

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How Birds See is Key to Avoiding Power Line Collision

C onservation-

ists at the Endangered W i l d l i f e

C onservation- ists at the Endangered W i l d l i f e rate this

rate this new knowledge into the design of marking devices as soon as possible through its strategic partnership with Eskom. Graham Martin – Professor of Avian Sensory Science at the University of Bir- mingham - is an international expert in bird vision. Professor Martin has developed a method for measuring bird visual fields (where they see) and acuity (how well they see) and is instrumental in this project, lead- ing the research that will help the EWT understand how large birds, which are par- ticularly prone to flying into power lines, experience the world while in flight. Professor Martin recently spent two weeks in South Africa, measuring visual

fields on blue cranes (Anthropoides paradiseus), white storks (Ciconia ci- conia) and kori bustards (Ardeotis kori), all species that are frequently killed as a result of flying into power lines. This is the first time that research of this nature has been undertaken with regard to bird power line colli- sions. Data were collect- ed using captive birds at two participating insti- tutions. Tygerberg Zoo in Cape Town and the Johannesburg Zoo pro- vided four blue cranes and two white storks and a kori bustard re- spectively. Various different power line marking de- vices are currently avail- able, but all are installed five to 10 metres apart along power lines that are considered to be of collision risk to birds. While these devices have been effective in reducing the number of collisions, they do not completely eliminate deaths and effective- ness varies between bird families. The EWT- WEIG is working with Eskom to improve their effectiveness. The Eskom-EWT Strategic Partnership started 13 years ago in response to problems such as bird collision and is a world leader in addressing this major un- natural cause of death in large birds. This research is funded by Eskom and was undertaken in collaboration with Pro- fessor Graham Martin of Birmingham Uni- versity, and University of Cape Town Phd student Jessica Shaw. The Tygerberg and Johannesburg Zoos provided captive birds, and expert bird han- dling expertise. photo: Lynette Strauss

Trust (EWT) have, with the financial support of Eskom, embarked on a research project that will enable them to better un- derstand how birds see in the hope that this will help them to prevent birds from flying into power lines. “Many of our bird spe- cies are prone to collid- ing with overhead power lines whilst in mid flight” says Jon Smallie, Manag- er of the EWT’s Wildlife and Energy Interaction Group (EWT-WEIG), which incorporates a long-standing strategic partnership with Eskom. “To solve this problem, conservationists and elec- trical utilities around the world have, over the last 30 years, developed vari- ous marking devices that aim to make power lines more visible to the birds. These devices have largely been developed based on what we think birds can see, but bird vision is fun- damentally different from human vision. We hope that with a better under- standing of how birds see their surroundings, we will be able to design improved marking devices and ultimately save more birds.” Preliminary findings show that bird fam- ilies differ in their ability to see, and that several of the relevant species have far bet- ter peripheral than frontal vision. This has major implications for collision with power lines that are invariably in front of birds in flight. Drawing a bird’s attention to the front, in order to see an overhead power line, may be even more important than

previously thought. The final results of the study will be ready by early 2010 and will be published on the EWT’s website at www. The EWT intends to incorpo-

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Animals now picking up bugs from people, study shows

Globalisation and industrialisa- tion are causing diseases to spread from humans to animals, a study has shown. Researchers from The Roslin Insti- tute of the University of Edinburgh have shown that a strain of bacteria has jumped from humans to chickens. It is believed to be the first clear ev- idence of bacterial pathogens cross- ing over from humans to animals and then spreading since animals were first domesticated some 10,000 years ago. The study identified a form of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus – of which MRSA is a subtype – in chick- ens, and found that the bacteria origi- nally came from humans. Genetic testing showed that the bacteria crossed over from one spe- cies to another around 40 years ago, coinciding with a move towards in- tensive poultry farming practices.

Dr Paul Du Plessis Kruger (right) officially opens the Sasol Gate as Regional Manager Lucius Moolman (left) and Park Manager Lesley-Ann Meyer look on.

Right below: Regional Manager Lucius Moolman and Park Manager Lesley-Ann Meyer officially open the newly constructed roads in Mountain Zebra National Park.

New Entrance Gate, Upgraded Roads Opened at Mountain Zebra National Park

O n October 28, 2009, Moun- tain Zebra National Park, situated near Cradock in the Eastern Cape, celebrated

the official opening of a newly upgraded entrance gate and the complete renovation of its tourist roads. The project to renovate the tourist roads was completed in just over a year, involving the upgrade of 42.7 km of existing gravel roads and the construction of 13.4 km of new roads. “Visitors can now explore all areas of the Park for wildlife viewing on roads suitable for all vehicle types, “ said Lucius Mool- man, South African National Parks (SAN-

the new 13.4 km road provided an impor- tant link between the Ubejane and Rooi- plaat Loops, making travelling around the Park easier. The road upgrade project, funded by the department of environmental affairs’ Infra- structure Development Programme saw 40 local people being employed with a spend of R11 million. Dr. Paul Du Plessis Kruger, former Sasol chairman, officially opened the Park’s new- ly upgraded entrance gate – now named the Sasol Gate - in recognition of Sasol’s contribution to Park expansion made just over 10 years ago. Sasol provided funds at a crucial stage of Park development to purchase a property that was on the market. This donation, along with other donations and fund- raising initiatives initiated by SANParks and the David Shepherd Wildlife Foun- dation, helped to increase the Park size from 6 536 hectares to over 28 000 hect- ares. Organisations such as the Barbara Delano Foundation, WildAid and Vesta Medicines also played an important role. This Park expansion facilitated the re- introduction of species such as buffalo, cheetah and brown hyena and assured the conservation of the endangered Cape mountain zebra, which now num- ber over 500 in the Park. Park Manager Lesley-Ann Meyer said she was proud to announce that the renovations to infrastructure had already succeeded in increasing both day and over- night visitor numbers. Visitor numbers have increased by a massive 40% and occupancy rate has in- creased from 61% to 70% for the first six months of the financial year. Moolman announced that the plans to link Mountain Zebra National Park to Camdeboo National Park in Graaff- Reinet to form a mega-conservation area of about 300 000 hectares had now been officially declared by SANParks. These plans envisaged a linkage formed through contractual agreements with private game reserves and landowners, some of whom had already expressed interest in the idea. Photo: Megan Ta - plin

expressed interest in the idea. Photo: Megan Ta - plin Parks) regional manager, as he officially

Parks) regional manager, as he officially opened the roads. Cutting the ribbon on the newly con- structed Link Road, Moolman added that

Cutting the ribbon on the newly con- structed Link Road, Moolman added that kruger park times

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New Trails To Open in Kruger National Park

Lynette Srtauss

T wo new adventure trails will

be launched in the Kruger Na-

tional Park within the next six

months. Both trails are based

in the northern parts of Kruger - the Phal- aborwa and Shingwedzi areas. As from November 1, 2009 adventure seekers can explore the management roads north-east of the Phalaborwa Entrance Gate on an overnight guided trail. This trail will depart on a daily basis from Phalaborwa Gate and will be avail- able throughout the year. “However, during heavy rains or other urgent management related issues, the route may be changed or even be closed temporarily,” says William Mabasa, spokesperson for the park. Only five vehicles plus the guide vehicle will be

allowed per trail, with a maximum of four people per vehicle. In April next year, the Mphongolo Back Pack Trail will allow visitors to experience

the Lowveld bush between Shingwedzi and Mphongolo rivers close to the Shingwedzi rest camp, on foot. Trailists will leave from the camp on Wednesdays and return Sundays, midday. Taking into account the rainy season, the trail will only be open from February to the end of November. “There are no overnight huts on this trail and back-packers must provide for all their needs for the duration of the trail such as sleeping bags, tents and food. The trail takes a maxi- mum of eight and a minimum of four visitors at a time and it will be guided by two experi- enced trails rangers.” The existing Nonokani 4x4 Adventure Trail, which runs in the Phalaborwa section up to the Olifants River, will be per- manently closed. “We experienced a number of visitor related problems in the

past that affected the experience of tourists who took part in this trail and that is why we are closing it now;” says Ben van Eeden, regional manager of Nxanatseni Region. Bookings can be done at the SANParks central reservation centre on 12 428 9111. Photos: Archive: Olifants River Backpack Train in KNP. Andrew Des- met

9111. Photos: Archive: Olifants River Backpack Train in KNP. Andrew Des- met kruger park times -
9111. Photos: Archive: Olifants River Backpack Train in KNP. Andrew Des- met kruger park times -

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Elephant dies of old age

The elephant cow that provoked an out- cry from an animal rights group when it was spotted, apparently distressed and in pain, on an Mpumalanga game reserve’s live we- bcam a fortnight ago, has died. “The elephant cow died on Sunday after- noon, October 4, of natural causes, i.e. old age,” Djuma Private Game Reserve owner Jurie Moolman told Sapa in an e-mail on Monday. The cow, which last week man- aged to rejoin its herd, had been at the end of its natural life, with her last set of teeth worn to the point of not being able to chew her food. Looking out for her calf “She kept up with the herd, and it is difficult not to think that she had one last thing to do before she died - ensuring that her calf was accepted into the herd. Her calf is with the herd and seems to be doing well. “Hopefully this is a lesson to us all about interfering; we should not, unless humans caused the suffering,” Moolman said. Dju- ma is one of more than a dozen lodges and reserves that make up the 65 000 hectare Sabi Sand Reserve, which shares an un- fenced 50km border with the Kruger Na- tional Park. On Monday last week, the group Animal Rights Africa demanded that the reserve’s owners help the elephant. According to the group, the elephant was suffering with what appeared to be birth complications. The Sabi Sand Reserve has a “policy of non- intervention when it comes to animals in distress not caused by humans”, but its eco- logical committee decided to take action in this case. When the animal was found by rangers, it was seen to be suffering from old age and constipation. “It was determined that she is very old - so old that her teeth are too worn for her to masticate her food properly, and thus a bolus of unchewed food is blocking her alimentary canal,” Moolman said at the time. At one point there were plans to eu- thanise the elephant, but it was granted a reprieve when it rejoined its herd. It was closely monitored over the past week. The cow - which has a three-year-old calf - was estimated to be between 50 and 60 years of age, an advanced age for an el- ephant. Moolman reported the calf was no longer suckling and should have no prob-

lems surviving without its mother. African elephants, the world’s largest land mam- mals, die more often of starvation than old age. They go through five sets of teeth in their lives, but once these are gone - worn away by the up to 250kg of bark, leaves and twigs an adult elephant chews its way through in a day - they are no longer able to eat. News 24



Wild rumors are flying about the newly developed vaccine for pandemic influenza H1N1, also known as “swine flu.” We’ve seen e-mails stating that the vaccine is taint- ed with antifreeze or Agent Orange, causes Gulf War syndrome, or has killed U.S. Navy sailors. One says the vaccine is an “evil de- population scheme.” The claims are nearly pure bunk, with only trace amounts of fact. If you are the sort who trusts anonymous e-mails more than you do doctors and ex- perts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Food and Drug Ad- ministration, you may wish to stop reading now. For others, here are the facts as stated by the best authorities we can find:

The vaccine does have some risks – the same risks as the seasonal flu vaccine. Ex-

cept for the virus, it is functionally identical to the vaccine that’s given every year. The multidose formulation of the vaccine contains thimerosal, which prevents con- tamination. Some have accused thimerosal of causing developmental disorders in chil- dren, but scientific evidence doesn’t support this. The vaccine does not contain squalene, which has been accused – also without good evidence – of causing Gulf War syndrome. There’s no reason to believe that a vac- cination would cause Guillain-Barre syn- drome. GBS was associated with several hundred flu vaccinations in 1976, but there’s been no evidence of an association since then, despite close monitoring. Update, October 23: On October 22, New York State suspended the requirement for health care workers to be vaccinated. The governor’s office cited vaccine shortage concerns as the reason for the change.


Namibian Private Game Farm Denied Permission to Import Elephants

The Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism has denied the country’s big- gest private game farm, Erindi permission to import 200 elephants from South Africa’s Kruger National Park. “Erindi needs elephants desperately and the ministry have shut the door in our face,” said Gert Joubert, the owner of the country’s biggest game reserve. Joubert said seven years ago, Erindi identified the need, with the help of experts and specialists, for a substantial amount of elephants. “We proceeded to purchase state of the art elephant catching equipment for the catching and relocation of elephant family groups according to the latest techniques and practices. The cost to us was N$1 mil- lion. We applied for a source and a permit to the ministry to bring elephants to Erindi. Unlike in South Africa, where you can pick up the phone and order elephants like groceries, in Namibia it is different, with the ministry being the only entity owning and controlling all elephant in Namibia. The ministry owns all elephants in Etosha, in Damaraland, in Kaokoveld, in Okavango, in Caprivi and more. He said for five years now Erindi has been writing letters to the ministry but it has refused to have Erindi import the ele- phants. “We have bought twelve elephants from the ministry at an auction in 1994 from Etosha Pans,” he said. I decided to ap- ply for two hundred elephant from the big- ger Kruger National Park area. We received an approval promptly for two hundred el- ephant for Erindi free of charge. All we had to do was to go and fetch them. We then applied again to the ministry for a permit to relocate these elephants to Erindi. Once again, no acknowledgment, no answer was given. “As a last desperate measure, I took the decision to see the lawyers. Six months later and N$ 200 000 out of my pocket, Er- indi Game Reserve submitted a fully com- prehensive, legally correct application with every issue covered by experts addressed to the ministry. Six weeks later, we received an answer. The ministry has now proclaimed a moratorium on the import of elephant from South Africa. No explanation was given,” he said.

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Twenty years after ivory ban, activists up in arms

Twenty years after the decimation of Afri- ca’s elephant population through poaching prompted a ban on the international ivory

trade, animal rights activists are calling for

a new all-out ban, saying partial sales have

led to a fresh spike in poaching. Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the Conven- tion on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) ban on ivory trade. The decision, taken on October 17th, 1989 in Lausanne, Switzerland, by the UN- backed CITES was in response to alarming levels of elephant poaching in Africa in the


Africa’s elephant population from about 1.2 million to 600,000 in the space of 10 years before the ban, according to the Inter- national Fund for Animal Welfare.

Following the ban, “ivory prices plum- meted and so too did the incentives to kill elephants - a good example of a conserva- tion plan,” IFAW’s Southern Africa director Jason Bell-Leask wrote in a opinion article in South Africa’s Sunday Independent this month. But as elephant populations began to recover, CITES, which has 171 members, also came under pressure to relax the ban to allow some African countries, which had

well-managed, healthy elephant popula- tions, sell off their stockpiles of the so-called white gold. In 1999, CITES allowed the first such one-off sale. Botswana, Namibia and Zim- babwe were allowed sell 50 tonnes of ivory

to Japan.

In 2007, CITES went further, allowing the same three countries plus South Africa to sell 106 tonnes of ivory that had accumu- lated in their national parks to Japan and China. South Africa estimates the four countries together have over 312,000 elephants, or over half the continent’s current estimated population of 470,000. The ivory comes mostly from elephants that died a natural death, or, in the case of South Africa, elephants that were culled before a moratorium on culling in 1995. CITES ordered that the proceeds of the sale be put towards wildlife management and community development.

IFAW, Germany’s Pro Wildlife and other animal rights group say these sales have whetted the demand for ivory in Asia,

where ivory is used mainly in carved orna- ments, and led to an increase in elephant poaching. They point to large seizures of ivory by authorities across Africa and Asia over the past year as proof of a resurgent black-mar- ket trade, which they say is leading to the killing of over 30,000 elephants a year. As the CITES ban turns 20, Tanzania and Zambia have petitioned CITES to fur- ther open up the trade by allowing them to also sell off ivory stocks, according to Pro Wildlife. Mozambique is also preparing a similar submission, the German organiza- tion says. At the same time, seven other African countries, which are battling to contain poaching - Kenya, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Togo and Congo Brazzaville - are calling for a return to a complete ivory ban CITES will decide on which route to take at its next conference, set to take place in March 2010 in Qatar. The four coun- tries that liquidated their stocks have been banned from any further trade in ivory for nine years. Earth Times

Volunteers sought to help with large-scale Olifants river pollution study

The ecological health and the entire ecosystem of the heavily polluted upper reaches of the Olifants river are to come under the spotlight in a study that kicks off this month with the collection of rainwater samples in the river’s catchment by a team of volunteers. Council for Scientific and Industrial Re- search (CSIR) principal researcher and di- visional fellow Dr Peter Ashton tells Engi- neering News that, once sampling sites for the study have been identified, the council will be in a position to say how many vol- unteers will be needed to assist with the col- lection of rainwater samples and to identify the areas for collection. He stresses that volunteers in the catch- ment are the “eyes” and “ears” of the scien- tists, who are based in Pretoria. By collect- ing rainfall data and writing down anything unusual that they observe in the vicinity of the sampling sites, they will help the scien- tists in the interpretation of analytical data

when the chemistry of the samples has been determined.

A team of more than 35 scientists and

offi- cials from the CSIR, the universities of Stellenbosch and Pretoria, the Department

of Water Affairs, the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency and the Olifants River Forum have come together in an attempt to tackle one of the country’s most polluted rivers in a multidisciplinary way. “We are not just going to monitor water quality. This will be the first time in South Africa that such a big team will look at the ecological health of the entire ecosystem in the catchment and how that impacts on wa- ter quality,” explains CSIR limnologist and project leader Dr Paul Oberholster. The team will report its preliminary find- ings by the end of 2010, when it will pres- ent them at a public hearing of the Olifants River Forum. The purpose of the hearing will be to moti- vate funding for further research needs, confirm the identity of problem areas with stakeholders and pres- ent preliminary findings as well as possible suggestions for remedial action that can be considered. Martin Zhuwakinyu, www.engi-

98 ivory tusks seized in Douala

A total of 98 ivory tusks were seized be-

tween Sunday and Monday at the Autono- mous Port of Limbe (PAL), 80 kilometres south-west of Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon, sources told PANA here. According to the Regional Delegate of Forestry and Wildlife for the Littoral, Fran- çois Issola Dipanda, the large shipment of elephant tusks were seized by Cameroo- nian customs officials in Limbe, aboard the “Monica Express”, a ship flying a Nigerian flag, as the vessel was about to set sail for Calabar, in Nigeria. The 98 tusks weigh about 500 kilo-

grammes and may have been obtained from 49 elephants killed illegally by poachers. Cameroon, with its vast surface areas of forest and Savannah, is a hub for trafficking on ivory tusk in Africa. Afrique en ligne

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Wildlife As a Source for Livestock Infections

A bacterium possibly linked to

Crohn’s disease could be lurking in wild animals. According to research published in the open access journal BMC Microbiology, Mycobacterium

avium subspecies paratuberculosis (Map), can be transmitted between wildlife and domestic ruminants, supporting the theory of wildlife reservoirs of infection.

A research team lead by Karen

Stevenson, from the Moredun Re- search Institute in Scotland, used three different genotyping techniques to identify specific strains of Map in 164 samples taken from 19 different livestock and wildlife species from the Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, The Netherlands, Norway, Scotland and Spain. The results were com- bined to investigate sources of Map infections and show the possibility of transmission between wildlife and do- mestic ruminants. “Identical genotypes were obtained from Map isolated from different host species co-habiting on the same prop- erty, strongly suggesting that interspe- cies transmission occurs”, the authors say, adding, “Map infects a variety of wildlife and host spe- cies that potentially could be reservoirs for infection of domestic livestock and have serious implications for infection control”. Related to the bacte- ria causing tuberculosis in humans and in cows, Map causes severe diar- rhea in ruminants, and has been suggested as a possible cause for Crohn’s disease in humans. The role of wildlife reservoirs for infection needs further assessment, to determine whether transmission is passive or active, and to examine the likelihood of contact between wildlife and domesticated rumi-

nants. For more informa- tion: www.biomedcentral. com/bmcmicrobiol

Trees Facilitate Wildfires as a Way to Protect Their Habitat

F ire is often thought of something that trees should be protected from, but a new study suggests that some trees may themselves

contribute to the likelihood of wildfires in order to promote their own abundance at the expense of their competitors. The study, which appears in the Decem- ber 2009 issue of the journal The Ameri- can Naturalist, says that positive feedback loops between fire and trees associated with savannas can make fires more likely in these ecosystems. “We used a mathematical model to show that positive feedback loops between fire frequency and savanna trees, alone or to- gether with grasses, can stabilize ecological communities in a savanna state, blocking

conversion of savannas to forest,” said the study’s leading author Brian Beckage, asso- ciate professor in the Department of Plant

Biology at the University of Vermont. The study’s co-authors are William Platt, professor of biology at Louisiana State Uni- versity, and Louis Gross, director of the Na- tional Institute for Mathematical and Bio- logical Synthesis and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and mathematics

at the University of Tennessee. Beckage was

a short-term visitor conducting research at

NIMBioS in 2009 and will be on sabbatical at NIMBioS in 2010.

The promotion of fire by the savanna trees increases their own abundance by limiting the establishment and growth of tree species that are better competitors for resources and that might ultimately dis- place the savanna trees. The research re- sults suggest that some trees may modify or “engineer” their environment, including the characteristic fire frequencies in a land- scape, to facilitate their own persistence at the expense of their competitors, Beckage said. The research proposes a scenario for the development of savannas in landscapes that would otherwise become closed forests. Examples of savanna trees that facili- tate frequent low-intensity fires include the longleaf pine and the south Florida slash pine, both of which frequently shed their needles providing fodder for wildfires. The savanna tree initially invades grassland, but by facilitating frequent fires, it limits its own density and thus prevents conversion to a forest. The research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation. The study was recently published in the journal The American Naturalist. It can be viewed at an/0/0 Photo: Navashni Govender

at an/0/0 Photo: Navashni Govender kruger park times - 10 - kruger park times

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Wildlife and African folklore Richard C Haw Many African tribes had a tradition re- garding

Wildlife and African folklore

Richard C Haw

Many African tribes had a tradition re- garding wild creatures. Certain birds and animals were given the status of protected creatures because of their rarity or beauty. Others were regarded as sacred. Even today there are still categories of royal game or protected species. Although many modern-day Africans grow up without ever laying an eye on animals in the wild, there was a time when certain animals were well- known to them, many being featured in Af- rican folklore. Some of these protected animals were allowed to be killed under certain circum- stances or, if they were caught, had to be taken to the local chief. Anyone finding a scaly anteater or pan- golin, had to take it to the chief alive; and after satisfying local curiosity, it was killed to provide relish for the food of the chief and his senior wife.

The scales were used for medicinal pur- poses. Porcupines were also regarded as royal game and any slaughtered animal had to be taken whole to the chief, where the quills were removed and the carcass gutted. The chief would then reward the presenter with a fowl or similar gift. In the case of an os- trich the hunter was presented with a goat, and was allowed to keep the meat, while the chief kept the feathers and any eggs that were found. Elephant and eland were also protected game, and if any were killed, the local chief would be informed. Either the chief or a deputy then had to be present when the ani- mal was skinned. The chief got the heart, the surrounding fat and certain other parts, while the hunter could keep the rest. In the case of a lion or leopard, the hides automatically became the chief ’s property, but the hunter was treated as a hero for kill- ing the fearsome animal with the primitive

weapons of the time. After taking the skin and the hairball found in the stomachs of some of these ani- mals to the chief, the hunter was treated to a drink of beer and presented with an ox which he could either slaughter on the spot or drive home to his kraal. The chief valued the hairballs, believing that they would give him power to roar or frighten his subjects. Crocodiles were not often killed. They were believed to be associated with some witch or wizard. If a killing was made, the chief or delegated headman had to be pres- ent. The ‘stone’ found near the gall bladder was prized by the chief as a charm. It was believed to confer long life if ot was swal- lowed. The crocodile carcass had to be thrown back into the water. Failing this, drought was believed to ensue. From Custos, December 1991, courtesy of SANParks. Photo: Ly- nette Strauss

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Report to Guide Cheetah and Wild dog Conservation in South Africa

A new report will guide the way forward for Cheetah and Af- rican Wild Dog conservation in South Africa. Carnivore

conservationists will establish a biodiversity management plan for these species based on this report, for submission to the department of water and environmental affairs. If accepted and signed by the minister, it will become legislated, providing an en- forceable means of achiev- ing the plan’s outlined ob- jectives. Cheetah (Acinonyx juba- tus) and wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) share similar biologi-

international, regional and local legislation, norms and standards, policies and proto- cols affecting the conservation of cheetah and wild dogs, and promote the compliance thereof; and · establish viable populations of cheetah

least 37 small to medium sized fenced re- serves, significantly increasing the num- bers and geographic range of the species. However, most of these reserves contain small populations, and without coordinated management, there is a risk that inbreeding will occur. The PHVA provided the tools to manage isolated rein- troduced populations as a coordinated meta- population, where sub- populations are linked by management inter- ventions. Following the PHVA, the National Conserva- tion Action Planning meeting for cheetah and wild dogs was held in June 2009, in Bela Bela, Limpopo. Here stakeholders mapped out a comprehensive conservation strategy for cheetah and wild dogs in South Africa. Another workshop was then held in Sep- tember 2009 to discuss the way forward for cheetah conservation. At this workshop it was agreed that the EWT’s Carnivore Conservation Group (EWT-CCG) would coordinate the process, while the EWT’s IT 4 Conservation Group (EWT-IT4CG) is well placed to develop the baseline cheetah database. This will con- tain information critical to ensuring demo- graphic and genetic integrity of the cheetah population and avoiding over-population in small reserves. The next step is to gain buy- in from all landowners with cheetah on their property and to put together a management plan for the cheetah metapopulation. The report that will form the basis for the Biodiversity Management Plan for Species has been finalised and is available at http:// The Biodiversity Management Plan for Species will take another year to finalise. The national planning process was made possible by a grant to the EWT by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation’s African Cheetah Initiative. photo: Ian Whyte

Foundation’s African Cheetah Initiative. photo: Ian Whyte and wild dogs within a matrix of land uses

and wild dogs within a matrix of land uses using a metapopulation approach in these species’ extirpated and resident distribu- tions. The Wildlife Conservation Society and Zoological Society of London are coor- dinating a continent-wide conservation planning process for cheetah and African wild dogs in Africa, under the auspices of the International Union for the Conserva- tion of Nature’s Cat and Canid Specialist Groups. This has involved the convening of a number of regional conservation plan- ning meetings, followed by national meet- ings. The southern African conservation ac- tion planning meeting was held in Jwaneng, Botswana in December 2007 and the En- dangered Wildlife Trust then took the lead role in coordinating the South African na- tional conservation action planning process. The first step in this process was the con- vening of a Population and Habitat Viabil- ity Assessment (PHVA) workshop for chee- tah to complement the PHVA conducted for Wild Dogs in 1997. During recent years, cheetah have been reintroduced into at

cal traits and face similar threats. For this reason the decision was taken to coordinate their conserva- tion. Both species are wide ranging and occur at natu- rally low densities, even in protected areas. Both are adversely affected by com- petition with other large predators, and both are de-

clining in number, primarily due to persecution by humans. The goal of this plan is therefore to im- prove the status of cheetah and wild dogs within their historical range in South Af- rica, and the objectives are to:

· develop capacity in all aspects of chee-

tah and wild dog conservation in South Af-


· improve knowledge of the conservation

biology of cheetah and wild dogs across South Africa;

· develop and implement mechanisms for

the transfer of information relevant to the conservation of cheetah and wild dogs and ensure active stakeholder commitment; · minimise and manage conflict and pro- mote co-existence between cheetah, wild dogs and people across South Africa; · minimise adverse effects of existing land use patterns and promote practices conducive to the conservation of cheetah and wild dogs;

· improve national and provincial gov-

ernmental commitment to the conservation of cheetah and wild dogs in South Africa;

· review, and where necessary amend

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Karoo National Park to introduce Lions

K aroo National Park, situated near Beaufort West, celebrat- ed its 30th Anniversary with the announcement that lions

would be introduced to the Park in 2010. Speaking on behalf of South African Na- tional Parks (SANParks) executive manage- ment, Dr. Nomvuselelo Songelwa made the announcement at an event held today to commemorate 30 years of the Park’s exis- tence after its proclamation on 12 Septem- ber 1979. “The introduction of lions will bring back

a historically-occurring species to the Great

Karoo ecosystem,” said Songelwa. Songelwa added that the introduction would take place in the first half of 2010 once measures had been put in place to en- sure the safety of visitors walking around the Park’s rest camp. The decision had been made after careful consideration of the vi-

ability of introducing this top predator, tak- ing into account the numbers of prey spe- cies most likely to be targeted by lions in the Park. Truman Prince, Executive Mayor of the Central Karoo District Municipality, opened the cel- ebrations with a welcome speech. Prince pledged the full support of the district and local municipality for Park conserva- tion initiatives in general, as well as a specific fencing issue delaying the full completion of the Park’s preda- tor-proof fencing. Upon receiving a Kuduzela from the Park manager, Prince – an ex- ecutive member of the South Afri- can Football Asso- ciation - declared that he would put

it into use at Bafa-

bution to the Park’s existence by the local community which commenced in 1976 with the donation of communal land to form the core of the Park prior to proclamation. Jonas also expanded on the role that na- tional parks play, saying: “Like the Karoo National Park, all national parks lie at the centre of our South African character. They reflect and strengthen our sense of place; they protect and support our unmatched biodiversity and increasingly, they anchor growth, job creation and hope through tourism for our communities.” SANParks regional manager, Lucius Moolman, declared that the cooperation with and support from local government was “the best experienced by any national park in the country”. Mzwandile Mjadu, Karoo National Park Manager, expanded on the major develop- ments and achievements in the Park over the 30 years of its existence. Highlights included the opening of the Park’s rest camp in 1989, the opening of SANParks first-ever 4x4 trail in 1992 and the opening of the first Braille fossil trail in the world in 1994.

More recent developments of tourist fa- cilities include the opening of the Interpre- tive Centre in 2005, Bulkraal picnic site and swimming pool in 2006 and Grantham En- vironmental Education Centre and in 2008. New 4x4 eco-trails and overnight facilities were opened earlier this year. Mjadu praised the Karoo National Park management and staff over the years for their dedication and service to SANParks, saying this is what had led the Park to its current success. Testament to the improvements in tour- ism facilities is the increase in visitor num- bers by 26% and an increase in accom- modation unit occupancy by 5% over six months. Karoo National Park’s rangers put on a parade to demonstrate their skills while the Park’s choir entertained guests with a few songs. Photo: Megan Taplin

Karoo National Park rangers dem- onstrate their skills at the 30th An- niversary celebrations

onstrate their skills at the 30th An- niversary celebrations na Bafana’s next match against Ja- pan.

na Bafana’s next match against Ja- pan. Beaufort West Executive Mayor, Juliet Jonas, high- lighted the contri-

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Clean-up campaign for SA’s borders

South Africa wants to create an awareness amongst all communities residing in the vicinity of its borders, to take care of the environment. Deputy water and environmental affairs minister Rejoice Mabudaf- hasi and Zimbabwean environmental minister Francis Nhema on Friday, October 16 launched an awareness campaign at the Beit Bridge border post. The Clean-Up Campaign is the first of its kind and is not limited to cleaning the borders, said Mabudaf- hasi. She said it would also be used to highlight other critical environmental issues, including climate change, air quality and the need for the conti- nent to forge strong links in matters relating to sustainable development. The two will also use the platform to create awareness about xenophobia. “We are starting to create aware- ness among communities residing in the vicinity of all our borders. This is being done in partnership with coun- tries with which we share borders,” said Mabudafhasi. The campaign, she went on, will be rolled out to other countries sharing borders with SA, including Botswa- na, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia and Mozambique. The deputy minister further point- ed out the need for the continent to adopt a common position at the forthcoming talks on climate change which will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark. “As the most vulnerable conti- nent we are have to speak with one voice. We are among the ones likely to bear the brunt of climate change the most. Our continent is one of the areas where the adverse effects will be felt.” - BuaNews

Learning from insects

U nseen and unheard, insects are all around us. And with more than a million different species, each one perfectly

adapted to its environment, no other form of animal life comes close to matching in- sects for diversity. Scientists now want to ex- ploit this diversity to develop and test new medicines, new methods of pest control, new industrial enzymes and even bionic systems. In search of this goal, the Justus-Leibig- University Giessen and the Fraunhofer- Gesellschaft will build and expand a col- laborative “Insect Biotechnology” research program supported by the Land of Hessen, which is providing four Mio Euros from its research fund, LOEWE (Initiative for the

Development of Scientific and Economic Excellence). “Up to now, there has been no facility that systematically develops and economically benefits from the potential of insect biotechnology”, explains Prof. Ulrich Buller, senior vice president for research planning at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft“ in Munich, Germany. Therefore, we antici- pate gaining a truly unique position within Europe.” The stated goal of the Bioresources proj- ect group is to identify new enzymes and metabolites in domestic insects that can be used in medicine, pest control and indus- trial biotechnology. For example, an array of previously unknown substances has been discovered by studying how insects success- fully defend themselves against microbes, and the Insect Biotechnology project group

will soon embark on research that will use these substances to develop new antibiotics. “The strategic alliance between these two partners is fostering synergy in the fields of medicine, nutrition and the environment,” says Hessian minister for science and the arts Eva

boon to central Hesse”. The Jason establishment Trollip

of a new Fraunhofer facility together with the university is planned in the medium- term,” adds Prof. Dr. Joybrato Mukherjee, first vice president of JLU. “Now we can work intensively from a multifaceted per- spective on a totally new kind of field of research, which will allow us to create the foundations for the targeted long-term pres- ence of Fraunhofer in Gießen. We hope to gain the state’s long-term commitment to these structural development perspectives, which are setting the trend for all life sci- ences departments at our university.” The Fraunhofer project group will ini- tially be housed at the Technology and In- novation Center (TIC) Giessen, as a satel- lite office of the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME which has facilities in both Aachen (molecular biology) and Schmallenberg (ap- plied ecology). Prof. Vilcinskas and his team have their sights set on three specific topics:

the development and testing of new drugs, innovative strategies in pest control and integrated risk management for food and feed. The third of these topics involves the use of certain insect species (e.g. rice flour beetles) as tools to develop highly sensitive test systems that can be used in the future to monitor the quality and safety of food on an affordable and reliable basis. The researchers are also focusing on in- sects with powerful immune systems, such as rat tail maggots. These larvae from cer- tain hover flies are the only animals that can survive and thrive in sludge and liquid manure pits, feeding on the microbes there. Pest control will feature strongly in the re- search because insects can be major pests in fields and in storage warehouses, but may also hold the secret to controlling other in- sect populations. It is important to imple- ment pest control without harming benefi-

to imple- ment pest control without harming benefi - Kü h n e - cial species

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activity is required for the propagation of


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them to exploit otherwise indigestible sub- stances, such as wood, as food. With bun-


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ment is a

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Working on how to feed the world in 2050

C ould the world go through

another food crisis on a scale

similar to the one in 2007/08?

there was an urgent need to regulate the global production and sale of biofuel. The world’s population is projected to in- crease from the current 6.7 billion to 9.1 bil- lion in 2050, requiring a 70-percent growth in farm production. The 300 or so experts attending the gath- ering will try to design policies and pro- pose ways to meet the burgeoning demand, which will set the scene for a global meeting of heads of state on the issue in Rome in

November. Jikung Huang, agricultural advisor to the Chinese government, said the 2007/08 crisis had been a “wake-up call” for many countries to focus on agriculture, but now “I think some countries need an even bigger wake-up call.” © IRIN. All rights reserved. photo: Lynette Strauss

“Never say never again’”, was

the general consensus at a two-day High- Level Expert Forum on How to Feed the World in 2050, organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, Italy. During a robust debate on the outlook for food and agriculture, Kitty Smith, admin- istrator of Economic Research Services (ERS) at the US De- partment of Agriculture, said the 2007/08 crisis was “symptomatic of what we can expect in the fu- ture”. Global cereal prices more than

doubled between 2007 and 2008, pushing 100 million more peo- ple into chronic hunger, and the global total of hungry people to more than a billion. Homi Kharas, an economist and expert at the Brookings Insti- tution, a US-based public policy think-tank, said there was still “uncertainty” over the reasons for the last crisis: climate shocks, market speculation, increased demand for grains in populous countries, and volatile energy prices. In the first session of the fo- rum, which began on 12 Octo- ber, the links between food and energy prices were mapped out. The 2007/08 food price crisis was partly driven by steeply ris- ing fossil fuel prices, which led to an increased demand for grain to produce biofuel as a cheaper al- ternative. Jacques Diouf, director general of FAO, said food production would face increasing competi- tion from the biofuel market, “which has the potential to change the fundamentals of ag- ricultural market systems”. He said biofuel production was set to expand by nearly 90 percent over the next 10 years, reaching 192 billion litres by 2018. Michiel Keyzer, of the Centre for World Food Studies in Am- sterdam, The Netherlands, said

of the Centre for World Food Studies in Am- sterdam, The Netherlands, said kruger park times

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2010 must be used to change Africa’s image

The United Nations Secretary Gen- eral, Ban Ki-moon, has called on 2010 FIFA World Cup organisers to use next year’s tournament to change Africa’s image reports Bua News. “There is great power in this [tour-

nament]. It is a time to present a dif- ferent story of the African continent,

a story of peace, democracy and in-

vestment,” Ban told Local Organis- ing Committee (LOC) boss Dr Danny Jordaan in a meeting in New York on Wednesday, October 21. Jordaan was in New York to update the United Nations General Assembly on the preparations towards the World Cup, with emphasis on the legacy ben- efits of the tournament for the African

continent. Ban said the tournament was about far more than the 90 minutes on the pitch and was an event which touched every corner of the globe. The game of football above all other sports, unifies people and builds soli- darity and consensus, said Ban, adding

that he believed this would be the case when South Africa hosted the World Cup in June and July next year. All members of the United Nations General Assembly this week passed a resolution to endorse next year’s event

in South Africa as a platform for social

development and peace across the Af- rican continent. “More than ever, we are beginning to see the legacy of this event take shape and it is given more impact and impetus to have the endorsement of all the 192 member states of the General Assembly,” Jordaan enthused. He thanked Ban for his assistance in helping South Africa take the message

of hope to the world, saying that peace

is not just the absence of war but it cre-

ate circumstances that create hope. “The legacy of this World Cup em- barks on changing the circumstances of many people through its social lega- cy projects, job creation and advance- ments in telecommunications and in- frastructure,” Jordaan told Ban. The LOC boss has also extended an invite to Ban to attend Africa’s first World Cup next year and later, saying that it was imperative for the UN Sec- retary General to attend the tourna- ment.

Carbon finance is key to better protection of gorillas and elephants

T he United Nations Ambassa-

dor for the Year of the Gorilla,

Ian Redmond, has called for

declined and elephants vanished from the montane area, the forest’s flora changed into denser, less diverse vegetation. Weed-like plants, which were formerly held in check by elephants and gorillas, have become much more dominant and are suffocating trees, thereby accelerating deforestation. Myrianthus fruit trees, whose seeds had formerly been dis- persed espe- cially by large m a m m a l s , are being killed by the Sericostachys scandens vines and if this c o n t i n u e s may become increasingly rare. By building nests, gorillas break off branches and create gaps in the forest can- opy that allow light through to the forest floor enabling smaller plants to grow. The survival of forests requires the pro- tection of the animals in them as well as the trees. In the long term, deforestation is as much a consequence of over-hunting as of cutting trees for charcoal or timber. Insights gained from encounters with se- nior government officials, ex-militia, park wardens, conservationists, poachers, log- gers and farmers highlight the need for a comprehensive approach to conserve rain forests and gorillas in the Congo Basin. Supporting existing national action plans to halt deforestation of gorilla habitat is one of the major objectives of the CMS Agree- ment on the Conservation of Gorilla and their Habitat during the Year of the Gorilla campaign. The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals works for the conservation of a wide array of endangered migratory animals worldwide through the negotiation and implemen- tation of agreements and species action plans. With currently 112 member coun- tries, many of them in Africa, CMS is a fast-growing convention with special im- portance due to its expertise in the field of migratory species. Photo: Pieter Strauss

the inclusion of gorillas and

elephants, as important components in Af- rican rainforests, in the upcoming climate negotiations in Copenhagen. Large mam- mals, such as elephants and gorillas, are keystone spe- cies in their relevant eco- systems. Goril- las act as ‘gar- deners’ in the rainforests of the Congo Ba- sin, and pro- tecting them helps prevent loss of flora that are ecolog- ically dependent on them. Gorillas are second only to elephants in the number of seeds they disperse each day in the forests of Africa. When eating fruit and seeds, the seeds pass through their sys- tem and are in this way prepared for ger- mination. UN Ambassador, Ian Redmond, who has just returned from a fact-finding mis- sion across eight African gorilla range states said: “The gorillas and elephants of Africa are doing the world a service. UNEP has just succeeded in its Seven Billion Tree campaign, but I would estimate that the apes and elephants of Africa disperse some seven billion seeds every day! The full ex- tent of the role they play in maintaining the health of their forest habitat - a central component of the Earth’s climate regula- tion -is still poorly understood.” Fifteen years of armed conflicts in the Great Lakes region of Africa, accompanied by illegal exploitation of minerals to finance militias, led to a sharp increase in demand for bushmeat. In addition, rapidly growing urban populations accelerated deforesta- tion through charcoal production. Conse- quently, gorillas and elephants have been

poached in large numbers. A dramatic decline in the diversity of vegetation can be observed in parts of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. As gorillas

National Park in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. As gorillas kruger park times - 16

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Trying to work from the same weather page

C limate scientists describe Af-

rica as an information “black

hole”. The World Meteoro-

The last two components will constitute a “World Climate Service System”. An intergovernmental meeting at the end

of 2009 will establish a task force to draft

a blueprint for designing and implementing

the framework, and submit its report to the

WMO congress in 2011 for action. Plans to improve climate services are al- ready underway. One reason is that the wealthier industrialized countries realize that they are also being affected by climate change. Thomas Karl, who heads the NOAA’s climate services, reported that the US has been experiencing reduced rainfall in its western states and unusually heavy precipi-

tation events in the northeastern states.

al meteorological and hydrological services, analyzed, and fed back to national decision- makers in Africa, and eventually to farmers and other clients in the field. In the first phase of the project, 19 such stations are on a trial run in Tanzania; in phase II, 489 stations will be set up across the rest of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, and become operational after technical kinks have been ironed out. The initial roll- out of 508 automated weather stations is expected to cost just under US$9 million, and the partnership hopes to expand the programme to the rest of Africa. One of the functions of the climate ser- vices framework will be to provide hard data to demonstrate to decision-makers and the public why it is important to act now. In Africa, especially, there has been an understandable tendency to spend on press- ing short-term problems and worry about the weather later, but it is becoming increas- ingly clear that major climate events like floods, droughts and cyclones are driving more people below the poverty line. Sudden increases in rainfall also increase health risks, ranging from malaria to red fever and meningitis, and decision-makers need a broader understanding of the hid- den threats of climate change. Climate emergencies cannot be avoided, but with good planning based on solid in- formation, a country’s vulnerability to such events and the often crippling costs of re- covery and reconstruction can be reduced considerably. For these reasons, climate is emerging as a major factor in development. Reducing greenhouse emissions is likely to prove more complicated, but NOAA’s Lubchenco told reporters in Geneva that the urgency of dealing with the climate is now becoming apparent, even to sceptics who previously questioned glob- al warming. “Regardless of what happens in Copenhagen [where the UN Framework Convention on Cli- mate Change will meet in De- cember to set new targets for emission cuts] the need for infor- mation will only increase.” © IRIN. All rights reserved. photo: Lynette Strauss

Sable Dam in the Kruger National Park towards the end of the dry season, October 2009

logical Organization (WMO)

notes that there are only 744 weather sta- tions, but only a quarter of them are of in- ternational standard; at least 3,000, evenly spaced across the continent, are needed, with another 1,000 in densely populated areas; ideally, Africa should have at least 10,000 stations. The need for better weather informa- tion is clear - at the beginning of Septem- ber 2009, floods inundated West Africa, dislocating 250,000 people; a quarter of the normal annual rainfall was dumped on Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, in one day. In contrast, the Horn of Africa is reporting a major drought every two years, and the countries there are taking up to five

years to recover.

At the World Climate Conference (WCC3) in Geneva, Switzerland, Michel Jarraud, Secretary General of WMO not- ed: “Strengthening weather observation in Africa will benefit Africa, but it is also go- ing to benefit the rest of us. It’s a win-win situation.” Government representatives at the conference did not have the required mandate to commit but the meeting laid out a blueprint for moving forward towards

a global framework for collecting and ana-

lyzing climate information for adaptation to climate change.

Jarraud’s sentiments were echoed by Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric

Administration (NOAA), who stressed that

it was important to standardize data and set

up a global framework for providing climate services, so that experts and weather servic- es could work from the same page.

New opportunities

Growing recognition of the seriousness

of the problem is opening the door to in-

novative ideas like “Weather Info for All”,

a global public-private partnership initiative to put automated weather stations on the cellular phone towers springing up across Africa. The project involves the WMO, Ericsson,

an international telecommunications and

information technology company; Zain,

a Middle Eastern telecommunications

company; the Earth Institute at Columbia University in the US; and the Global Hu- manitarian Forum, an annual gathering of humanitarian community leadership in Ge- neva, Switzerland. The automatic weather stations draw electric power from the cell phone towers and use sensors to measure temperature, at- mospheric pressure, humidity, wind speed, precipitation and sunshine. The information is transmitted to nation-

“Different countries have different philosophies about information related to the climate,” she said. “It is not that one is right and the other wrong; it is that they need to be har- monized.” The proposed frame- work has four components:

observation and monitor- ing; research, climate mod- elling and prediction; a cli- mate services information system; and a user interface programme. The first two components already ex- ist but need strengthening.

programme. The first two components already ex- ist but need strengthening. kruger park times - 17

kruger park times - 17 - kruger park times

digest of Rangers’ diaries: February 1941 Kruger National Park

Section 1

Patrol duties were carried out by the ranger on the 3rd, 4t, 6th, 7th, 8th, 10th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 21st, 23rd, 25th and 28th. The lorry with 20 staff went to Numbi on the 10th with locust poison as locusts are hatching there. The ranger accompa- nied them. The Numbi picket also reported small swarms of locusts near the Kruger Park boundary. The matter was investigated. Two umfaans were caught for catching a wildebeest in a snare. A zebra was also caught in a snare near the gate in the ad- joining reserve.

Section 3

Patrol duties were carried out by the

ranger on the 23rd, 24th, 26th, 27th and


On the 25th the grass in the Gomondwan area was burnt and the grass near the camp was burnt on the 26th.

Section 4

A patrol was made to Saliji and Mlondozi between the 1st and 8th. No game were seen, but the grass is tall and green all over. Some of the old veldt near Sololwe was burnt. Numerous small hatchings of hoppers are to be seen between Tshokwane and Salij, but none near human habitation. Sufficient time having now elapsed for the crocodile at Esweni picket to digest its gruesome prey, a snare was set to catch it, which was success- ful the first night. The beast was a big one

(12’6”). There is a lot of zebra and wilde- beest along the Makonkolwine road. The ranger has a bad bout of fever. Some more blasting was done on top of the mountain, thus completing the clear- ance of this road for its full length. The climb is one and 3/4 miles long. All of it needs more metaling, prior to grading. On the 13th the gang was reduced to sev- en labourers so that the work will progress only slowly. More grass was burnt along the Saliji road and Sololwe spruit, incidentally de- stroying all swarms of hoppers in that area. Large numbers of hoppers are in the Mlondozi area, but these do not, as yet, threaten any crops. There are hundreds of storks in this section praying on hoppers and all but very large hatchings will be ac- counted for by the birds. Hawks, and even

continued on page 19

will be ac- counted for by the birds. Hawks, and even continued on page 19 kruger

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digest of Rangers’ diaries: February 1941 Kruger National Park

continued from page 18 eagles feed on them in swarms, a phenom- enon observed for the first time this year. A young lion which was badly mauled and had taken up its position at the Mazite dam, was shot. An old local trespasser gave the field rangers from Esweni a headache by the aimless manner in which he had walked across country from the PEA border. They followed his spoor. He was ultimately found late in the afternoon at the Mazite dam in an exhausted state and the lorry was sent to fetch him - this undoubtedly saving him from being killed and probably eaten by li- ons, for a troupe of 10 was seen at the spot the next morning! His emaciated condition was mainly due to starvation. Mason Knoetze suffered from a fairly severe attack of fever. Large herds of wildebeeste and zebra concentrated along the Manzentodo River from Tshokwane to Kumane. It has not been a very successful breeding season for these two species in this area. Sporadic birth are still taking place at the moment, but the number of calves are still small.

Section 5

Patrol duties were carried out by the ranger on the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 18th, 22nd, 3rd, 24th and 25th. Grass was burnt on the 13th, 23rd, 24th and 25th. Four lions were killed on the 12th at Semane. Two of them were eaten by oth- ers during the night.

Section 6

Patrol duties were carried out by the ranger on the 3rd, 4th, 9th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 21st, 23rd, 25th, 26th and


Grass was burnt on the 19th, 21st, 22nd and 24th. Field rangers George, Solomon and Malunzane report having counted a herd of nine buffaloes on the Maradze spruit. About 25 wild dogs were seen at Ma- fulene on the 9th. On the same date the causeway was also under water. Total rain- fall for month 1.18”. The warden arrived at the rest camp on the 27th on his way to Punda Maria.

Section 7

Patrol duties were carried out by the ranger on the 3rd, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 19th, 20th, 22nd and 25th.

the names taken of the male Europeans. The ranger went down with fever on the 19th was taken to the hospital on the 21st and returned on the 24th.

Kruger National Park, 7th March, 1941

The Secretary National Parks Board


I have already advised the above offi- cer of what took place at the recent board meeting in connection with his application to join the Defence Force. He has not, however, yet made any official application in writing and I gathered from him verbally that there had been some hitch in connection with the appointment which he had hoped to secure. I will advise you at once of any development in this matter. (sgt) J Stevenson-Hamilton Photos: Sasha Strauss

Sections 8 and 9

Patrol duties were carried out on the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 10th, 11th, 14th, 17th, 25th and 28th. Eland were seen by the field rangers on the Mojolo side but very few calves. On his way to Pafuri Rest Camp the ranger saw very few game and in every case a very small percent of increase. On a patrol down the Shingwedsi river it was observed that

the grass is dry due to excessive heat and no rain. Game few and scattered. Lions seem to have returned to this area.

A lorry of poachers have been active

again outside the Park about seven miles from the boundary. Judging by the tracks one lorry and one light car or vanette were used. Signs show that two tsessebe were killed.

On the 10th it was gathered from field rangers and sgt Oosthuizen that buffalo have been drinking at the Punda Maria dam.

It rained in patches but

some areas are very dry. It has been noticed that the

nyala are lambing and sev- eral does were seen with very small kids.

A poacher was brought

in to the field ranger Philip from Pukwane and sent off to Punda Maria. On the 14th the field rang- ers Fifteen and July reported that a lorry with Europeans and locals were camped in the veld outside the Park boundary. The ranger went to the site and found six males and two female Europeans, a lorry and a quantity of meat also a kuku dull skin and ears. The owner was asked for his gun, and the skin and ears were also taken. The number of the lorry was noted and

kruger park times - 19 - kruger park times

and the skin and ears were also taken. The number of the lorry was noted and

demining is not a never ending story

M ozambique’s effort to become the first of the world’s major mine-con- taminated countries to be

declared mine-free is faltering on the home straight. There are a variety of reasons: Mozam- bique’s donor-dependent government no

longer sees demining operations as a prior- ity; the withdrawal of humanitarian dem- ining operations, sending the wrong signals

to donors that the job was done, and that

the focus of global demining activities has largely shifted to Iraq and Afghanistan. “We can finish this. We can get rid of

This is not a never-

ending story,” Aderito Ismael, Mozam- bique’s Mine Action coordinator for Handi- cap International (HI), a non-governmental organization, said. “I want to be out of a job by 2013, or maybe by 2012.” Handicap International, one of three hu- manitarian demining operations still work- ing in the mine-infested territory, is only continuing operations through the sup- port of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), while the HALO Trust - Mozam- bique’s largest humanitarian deminer - is working below capacity because of funding

shortfalls. APOPO is the third and smallest

of the operations in the country.

When demining activities began in 1992, predictions were that clearing anti-person- nel landmines and unexploded ordnance

left by four decades of independence and civil wars could take about 50 years. “Mozambique could set an example of

a country significantly affected by mines

ticked off as cleared

a marginal timeframe,” Hanoch Barlevi,

UNDP’s chief technical advisor seconded

to Mozambique’s Institute of National De-

mining, said. If donor funding had not subsided, Mo- zambique may have already lost its sobri- quet as one of world’s most heavily mined countries, leaving such countries as Angola, Afghanistan and Cambodia as reluctant holders of the title. Mozambique, a signatory to the 1999 Mine Ban Treaty (MBT), was granted a five-year extension of the 1 March 2009 deadline to remove all known anti-person- nel mines and unexploded ordnance on its territory, saying that “Through a relatively modest investment [about US$39 million] on the part of both the Republic of Mo-

we are talking about

them [landmines]

zambique and the international community, Mozambique can indeed fulfill its obliga- tions in a relatively short time.” The government attributed its failure to meet the deadline to the size of the job - 123 of the country’s 128 districts were iden- tified as mine contaminated - the competing needs of demining and poverty alleviation in one of the world’s poorest nations, and “some donor fatigue, which in turn resulted in a slow-down of efforts to implement Ar- ticle 5 [of the MBT].” Article 5 of the treaty states that “Each State Party undertakes to destroy or ensure the destruction of all anti-personnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or con- trol as soon as possible but not later than ten years after the entry into force of this Convention [MBT] for that State Party.”

A country that became a minefield

Exactly how many mines were planted during the conflicts is unknown - estimates vary from millions to about 500,000 - but whatever the numbers, there were enough to place the southern African country in the premier league of mine contaminated countries. Mozambique began to address the daunt- ing challenge 17 years ago. There were no records or maps of where landmines were laid, memories had dimmed, witnesses to the laying of minefields had died, and some communities still feared retribution for in- forming the authorities about where mines had been planted. Landmines were widely used. The Portu- guese colonial administration and Mozam- bique’s first post-colonial government, ruled by the Frelimo party, used them for “defen- sive purposes” to protect infrastructure. In the civil war that followed indepen- dence Frelimo often commandeered schools to use as army barracks and surrounded them with landmines to deter attacks by Renamo, the anti-government rebel move- ment. Mine belts turned villages and towns into fortresses, as much for government soldiers to defend their positions “as to ensure con- trol of population movement,” a former Frelimo soldier said. Renamo would sometimes create phan-

tom minefields, planting landmines by day in view of communities and then removing them clandestinely at night, but the effect of denying land to communities was the same.

Better information

Mozambique’s extraordinary progress to- wards becoming a mine-free state has been achieved by meticulously digging out the weapons - which have no expiry date - and more accurate assessments by deminers. The first survey in 1992 estimated there were about two million mines, but the Land- mine Impact Survey (LIS) in 2001 - the first comprehensive survey, later recognized as flawed - said that about 1.5 million Mozam- bicans, or nine percent of the population, lived in 1,374 mine-affected areas covering an area of about 561,689,063 square me- tres. Most information on the location of minefields was provided by local commu- nities, but flooding in 2000 displaced thou- sands of people and the LIS was undertak- en after the water subsided. HI’s Ismael told IRIN that the “large number of suspected sites [identified by the LIS] did not repre- sent reality”, and the survey was undertaken by people who often did not have the techni- cal skills to gauge the extent of a minefield. In 2007 the HALO Trust, which removes war debris, produced the Baseline Assess- ment after eradicating duplicate sites, con- ducting thousands of site visits, and collat- ing data from HI and Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), and concluded that 12,166,401 square metres of Mozambique at a total of 541 sites were known to be contaminated. Having a mine-free state suddenly be- came possible, as the task of clearing more than 500 million square metres was reduced to a more manageable area of just over 12 million square metres within six years. However, after 13 years in Mozambique, Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) closed its operations in 2006, following the exit of other international operators, such as the German deminer Menschen Gegen Minen (People against Landmines) in 2003, and the Washington DC-based humanitarian and commercial mine action and ordnance disposal organization, Ronco, in 2006, cre- ating the perception that mines were no lon- ger a major problem. Per Nergaard, the NPA director of mine

continued on page 21

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demining is not a never ending story

continued from page 20

action, told IRIN the organization was comforted that HALO Trust and HI re- mained in the country when the decision was made “to take our limited resources [elsewhere].” UNDP’s Barlevi said the Baseline Assess- ment and NPA’s decision to withdraw led to two different responses by donors between 2006 and 2007. Some donors used NPA’s exit to close the chapter on their funding, while the findings of the Baseline assess- ment encouraged other donors to return because the task had been defined. “The paradox is that the number of mine victims has dropped to a few a year, and if there was 50 mine accidents each year people would jump up, that is the iro- ny. The human impact is going down, but it is not going away,” Barlevi said. “There is less money around, and even less in Mo- zambique.”

An ever present danger

According to Mozambique’s 2008-2014 National Mine Action Plan, between 1993 and 2006, 269 million square metres were demined, 173,091 landmines were cleared and 133,143 items of unexploded ord- nance were destroyed. The four northern provinces of Niassa, Cabo Delgado, Nampula and Zambezia are currently undergoing a verification process following the end of demining op- erations; the remaining provinces of Tete, Manica, Sofala, Inhambane - seen as the worst affected province - Gaza and Ma- puto had yet to be cleared. Landmines had also been found along

200km of the border with Zimbabwe, as well as in a belt around the Cahora Bassa dam, and beneath about 200 electricity pylons stretching 80km between the South African border town of Komatiepoort and into the high density suburbs of the Mo- zambican capital, Maputo. Further surveys were required in areas bordering South Af- rica, Zambia, Malawi and Swaziland. Helen Gray, HALO Trust’s Mozam- bique’s programme officer, like others in

the demining community, is optimistic that the 2014 deadline can be met with “an in-

crease in funding

have 208 deminers in the field by Novem- ber 2009, but ideally require 364 deminers, excluding support staff and management, to meet the revised deadline. Gray said they needed about $4.2 mil- lion annually for the Mozambique opera- tion, but were getting by with about $2.5 million. “Achieving a milestone like [de- mining the] Maputo [pylons] will help things,” she said. Peri-urban communities scratch a liv- ing on the vacant land along the corridor created by the pylons from Komatiepoort to Maputo, growing the staple maize and other crops, often within a few metres from the estimated 20,000 landmines planted along the pylon route. Up to 200 mines have been found at each pylon, planted by Frelimo to protect

soon”. They expect to

the electrical infrastructure from saboteurs during the civil war; it takes two or three deminers about a month to clear a pylon.

but we still

might meet the

deadline by 2014,” Gray

“We are behind the curve

said. © IRIN. All rights reserved.

Economics cannot solve climate change”, researchers say

Policymakers are relying too heavily on predictions of the impacts of climate change, a new study says. As a result, they are claiming they need more research and more predictions before they can take action – and when policies are made, too little action follows. Research by Dr Mark Charlesworth of Keele University and Dr Chuks Okereke of the Oxford University’s Smith School of

Enterprise and the Environment also warns that decision-makers are assuming impacts will take effect gradually without sufficient evidence. The study, published in the journal Glob- al Environmental Change, urges govern- ments and others to rely less on cost-benefit analyses in determining policies because they may not be appropriate.

South Africa’s Sumbandila satellite lifts off

South Africa made history on the September 17, 2009 with the success- ful launch into space of its low-earth orbiting satellite, SumbandilaSat. The 81 kg microsatellite blasted into space at exactly 17:55 (South African time) from Baikonour in Kazakhstan, aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. Naledi Pandor, the minister of sci- ence and technology, was in Kazakh- stan to witness the historic occasion. Pandor said SumbandilaSat had paved the way for bigger and better things. “We look forward to implementing our space strategy so that we can join other nations in exploring the myriad possibilities presented by scientific and technological research.” Director-General of science and technology, Dr Phil Mjwara, said the launch reinforced South Africa’s role in national, regional and international space initiatives. “This is a momentous occasion, not just for the department of science and technology and its partners and stakeholders, but also for the people of South Africa. This launch is a mile- stone in our efforts to develop and en- hance space science and technology in our country.” The satellite carries a high-reso- lution camera that will produce im- ages for use in monitoring agriculture, mapping infrastructure and land use, tracking population movement, and measuring the water levels of dams. Data will be streamed to the Coun- cil for Scientific and Industrial Re- search’s Satellite Applications Centre (SAC) at Hartbeeshoek, near Pretoria, for analysis and policy development purposes. The SAC will carry out command and communication functions by tracking the satellite using a large dish antenna. In addition to the camera, the sat- ellite carries a secondary communica- tion payload from the Department of Communications and experimental payloads for the scientific community in the areas of low-frequency radio waves, radiation, software defined ra- dio, forced vibrating string and radio amateur transponder.

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No place like home: Africa’s big cats show postcode preference

T he secret lives of some of Afri- ca’s iconic carnivores, includ- ing big cats, are revealed in a new study in the journal, Ani-

mal Conservation. The results shed light on how different habitats are used by some of Tanzania’s most elusive meat eaters, such as the leop- ard. Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) carried out the largest survey of Tanzania’s carnivores, using a novel approach making use of over 400 camera trap locations. The research reveals that many species, including the leopard, are particularly fussy about where they live, actively avoiding cer- tain areas. Surprisingly, all the species sur- veyed tended to avoid croplands, suggesting that habitat conversion to agricultural land

could have serious implications for carni- vore distribution. “Camera traps provide a fantastic oppor- tunity to gain knowledge on habitat use and spatial distribution of otherwise elusive and poorly known species. This methodology represents a powerful tool that can inform national and site-based wildlife managers and policy makers as well as international agreements on conservation,” says Dr Sar- ah Durant from ZSL. Until now, many of the species had been under reported because of their nocturnal habits, or because they live in heavily for- ested areas. The strength of the technique to document habitat preference of elusive species is highlighted by camera trap obser- vations of bushy tailed mongooses – includ- ing the first ever records of this species from one of the most visited areas in the country. These data can also be used to under- stand how Tanzania’s carnivores may re-

spond to habitat changes caused as a result of environmental change. “Carnivores are generally thought to be relatively tolerant to land conversion, yet our study suggests that they may be more sensitive to development than previously thought, and that protected areas need to be sufficiently large to ensure that these charismatic animals will roam in Tanzania for the decades to come,’ says Dr Nathalie Pettorelli from ZSL. She adds: “All species were affected by rivers and habitat, and the analysis pro- vides important information relevant to the examination of future impacts of climate change.” The project continues to map carnivore distribution across the country, working closely with the wildlife authorities to sup- port local conservationists and to generate information that is used to inform conserva- tion planning. Photo: Tommy Javerfalk

that is used to inform conserva- tion planning. Photo: Tommy Javerfalk kruger park times - 22

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City sprawl, City Crisis

C airo and Alexandria, some 200 km apart, could merge in the foreseeable future, a spectra that presents a nightmare for

urban planners and managers in Egypt. A future of sprawling unending cities is already a bleak reality in other parts of the world. In Latin America, Mexico City (Mexico) has encroached upon two different states, while Buenos Aires (Argentina) cov- ers 30 different municipalities. A major feature of North American cit- ies is urban sprawl, which has been attrib- uted to permissive land-use planning and the growth of affluent households. By 2000, sprawl was increasing at twice the rate of urban population growth in the United States, with Las Vegas being the fastest growing metro area. Canada currently has three of the world’s 10 urban areas with the most extensive sprawl. They are Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. Fifty-two per cent of the world’s 3.3 bil- lion urban population live in cities and towns of fewer than 500,000 people. In developed and developing countries 54 per cent and 51 per cent of urbanites, respec- tively, live in such cities. However, as city populations grow, so cit- ies expand by consuming most of the pre- viously separated towns and cities. In some cases this results in turning such areas into metropolises, and others into peri urban entities. Either way, the process of urban sprawl is presenting a major challenge for urban planners and urban management worldwide. Urban sprawl is one of the challenges facing urban planners and local authori- ties according to the new UN-HABITAT report Planning Sustainable Cities: Global Report on Human Settlements 2009. The report argues that increasing socio-spatial challenges, especially social and spatial in- equalities, urban sprawl and unplanned peri-urbanization are some of the key chal- lenges facing the 21st century city. “There are a number of key messages emerging from the Global Report, all of them contributing towards finding a new role for urban planning in sustainable ur- ban development,” says Anna Tibaijuka,

executive director of UN-HABITAT. “One important message is that govern- ments should increasingly take on a more central role in cities and towns in order to lead development initiatives and ensure that

basic needs are met. It is clear that urban planning has an important role to play in assisting governments to meet the challeng- es of the urban century.” Asia is home to the most megacities in the world. A major trend is that urbanization is pushing past metropolitan borders, leading to the formation of enormously extended mega-urban regions (such as Shanghai and Beijing in China) that have developed along infrastructure corridors, then radiating over long distances from core cities. This has created complex planning and governance problems within the region. In Asia, urban- ization is taking ruralopolitan urban forms, an entirely new phenomenon. This is oc- curring in Bangladesh, China, India, Indo- nesia and Pakistan where vast stretches of rural lands are being engulfed by expanding cities. Sprawl of this kind, then, explains the unique mixture of rural and urban land use in this region.

son for sprawl is that population growth has intensified the density of some inner-city areas, prompting the wealthy to relocate to suburbs. Consequently, in Western Europe, sprawl is acute in Belgium; the Netherlands; eastern, southern and western Germany; northern Italy; the Paris and Madrid re- gions; Ireland; and Portugal. A major determinant of sprawl is govern- ment policy, which has been more tolerant in North America, but more stringent in Western Europe. Development of core ar- eas of many Western European and Japa- nese cities before the era of the automobile explains their relative compactness, com- pared to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. However, the need in European cities today to commute is evidence of sprawl of the North American kind. Oceania and Japan: Sprawl is a major environment concern. Throughout this re- gion, sprawl has become a major planning concern, as traffic congestion and pollu- tion have worsened. In New Zealand, cit- ies are expanding and blurring urban-rural boundaries, as peri-urban populations grow. This complicates municipal governance. In Australia, annexation and consolidation are resulting in the “disappearing towns syn- drome”. There, Hursbridge, Bellowie, Ad- inga Beach and Golden Bay-singleton dis- appeared and became parts of Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Mandurah, respec- tively. Transitional Countries: During the com- munist era, centralized decision-making structure permitted the state to establish compact, highly dense cities with functional public transport. However, since the po- litical and economic reforms of the 1990s, which presided over the whittling away of communism in these areas, low-income families and lower-level retail business has moved form inner city to low-cost neigh- bourhoods on the urban fringes. Here also, sprawl has been encouraged as private de- velopers erect exclusive and high-income suburban enclaves. The report concludes by calling on urban planners to encourage more compact cities in a bid to reduce green house gases and emissions. UN-HABITAT report Planning Sus- tainable Cities: Global Report on Hu- man Settlements 2009

Sub-Saharan Africa

Urban sprawl in Sub-Saharan Africa is not as drastic but it is occurring. Many cities are spreading out and engulfing surround- ing rural land and adjacent towns, leading to continuous belts of settlements. This pro- cess is largely informal and is driven by the efforts of low-income households to secure affordable land at reasonable locations. Another facet of sprawl characteristic of the region is the growth, primarily, in the capital city. One consequence of this merging of previously non-adjoining towns and cities around the world is metropolitanization. The process refers to the conversion of ru- ral land into urban uses and the engulfment of adjacent municipalities by larger cities to constitute new metro areas. Developed countries present a contrast- ing picture of urban sprawl. A common feature of developed countries is that urban densities have been declining, and this has been contributing to urban sprawl. Between 1960 and 1990, Amsterdam (the Nether- lands) experienced a 10 per cent reduction in its population density, but expanded its land area by more than 60 per cent. One factor that accounts for urban sprawl in these countries is economic pros- perity. The problem has been more acute in North America, where a significant segment of the population owns cars. Another rea-

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Solving Hydrogen storage Limit to Power Green Cars

Hydrogen fuel, because its only byproduct is steam, should be the ultimate in green alternatives to fos- sil fuels, but it hasn’t delivered on its promise yet because of one enormous stumbling block, storage. Now a team of chemical engineers at the Univer- sity of Massachusetts Amherst has de- veloped a computational model that shows that carbon nanotubes may of- fer a solution. Results are presented in the October 2009 online issue of the journal, Applied Physics Letters. “If this works as we expect, it’s per- haps no longer science fiction to hope for a briefcase-sized hydrogen battery to run a bus or car,” says UMass Am- herst chemical engineering professor Dimitrios Maroudas. The UMass Am- herst computational model strongly lends itself to verification in laboratory experiments, say Maroudas and col- leagues, and it provides ample testable hypotheses for future experimental re- search. Specifically, Maroudas shows that proper arrangement of carbon nano- tubes can overcome hydrogen trans- port limitations in nanotube bundles. It should also prevent ineffective and nonuniform hydrogenation, which is caused by nanotube swelling due to chemisorption of hydrogen atoms on the nanotube walls. If one were to think of carbon nano- tube bundles as something like a tooth- brush, one strategy that Maroudas and colleagues recommend for holding hydrogen atoms most efficiently is that the brush arrangement should not be too dense. If it is, when the tubules swell they’ll block efficient passage and diffusion of the hydrogen, Maroudas explains. In addition to an optimal bundle density, further improvement can be achieved by optimizing the in- dividual nanotube configurations to limit their swelling upon hydrogena- tion. Following this approach should re- sult in one hydrogen atom being able to chemisorb onto — form a chemi- cal bond with — each carbon atom of the nanotubes, leading to 100 percent (atomically) storage capacity, he adds. This chemisorbed hydrogen, bound to the surface, can then be easily released by applying heat.

Saving the planet, and money

A s South Africans grapple with huge hikes in their electricity bills, the residents of an infor- mal settlement on the outskirts

of Cape Town have turned to the sun to provide for their heating needs in Africa’s first project registered under the Clean De- velopment Mechanism (CDM). The almost 2,000 families in Kuyasa, a low-income informal settlement that is part of the sprawling Khayelitsha township, have not only managed to cut their electric- ity costs by 35 percent a year, but are also doing their bit to reduce harmful green- house gas emissions. Each solar water heater helps save around 1.29 tonnes of carbon dioxide per household per year from being emitted, which equates to the total carbon emission in a flight from Lagos, Nigeria, to Surabaya in Indonesia. The CDM, set up under the UN Frame- work Convention on Climate Change (UN- FCCC), allows industrialised countries to meet part of their commitment to reduce greenhouse gases by investing in projects that reduce emissions in developing coun- tries, while also contributing to the sustain- able development needs of the host country. Projects registered under the CDM can earn saleable Certified Emission Reduc- tions (CERs) credits, each equal to one met- ric tonne of carbon dioxide. The Kuyasa project was developed by

SouthSouthNorth (SSN), an NGO work- ing to counter climate change, for the City of Cape Town’s Environmental Resource Management Department and Urban Re- newal Programme. The project hopes to complete installing solar water heaters in 2,300 houses by 2010, with funding from the national department of environment and tourism and the West- ern Cape Province government. The Cape Town City Council, owners of the Kuyasa project, have already sold CERs to the UK government and hope to gener- ate and sell more credits so as to maintain the water heaters and invest in other com- munity development projects. Funding has come from national and provincial governments and the South Af- rican Export Development Fund (SAEDF),

a non-profit organization has underwritten

the project. Eskom, a parastatal utility, generates most of South Africa’s electricity in coal- fired power stations, and the cheap energy alternative presented by Kuyasa has stirred some interest. Zuko Ndamane, the project manager, is pushing for integration of the solar power generator model into new low-income housing developments, because “It is more expensive to retrofit houses with energy- saving devices, like we did in Kuyasa.” © IRIN. All rights reserved.

Tracking down human smell

Each of the 6.7 billion people on Earth has a signature body odor — the chemi- cal counterpart to fingerprints — and sci- entists are tracking down those odiferous arches, loops, and whorls in the “human odorprint” for purposes ranging from dis- ease diagnosis to crime prevention. That’s the topic of an article in the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS’ weekly newsmagazine. C&EN Senior Correspondent Ivan Am- ato points out that police long have used trained dogs to sniff out these uniquely personal scents in pursuing criminals. Sci- entists now are trying to decipher the chem- istry of human odor to develop technology

that can detect and classify smells. That’s

a difficult task, the article says, noting that each person’s odorprint is a complex mix- ture impacted by multiple environmental factors, including diet and cosmetics. The article describes progress in that di- rection, explaining that scientists already have identified odors in human breath and skin associated with diabetes, cancer, and other diseases. Scientists are even trying to detect the “smell of deception,” or chemical changes that occur with heightened stress that may help screen and identify, for example, ter- rorists planning to blow up an airplane and criminals intending to rob a bank.

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Treaty partners learn of 40 proposed wildlife trade rule changes

Proposals for tighter trade controls for species such as the Atlantic blue fin tuna, sharks and corals have been submitted for the next meeting of parties to the Conven- tion on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). The meeting, which will have changes to trade rules for an unusual proportion of marine species on its agenda, will be held in Quatar in March 2010. Controversy is also expected over conflicting proposals con- cerning elephants. WWF especially welcomes the proposal by the Principality of Monaco to list At- lantic bluefin tuna on Appendix I to the convention, which would ban international trade for commercial purposes and was sub- mitted as Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks are declining dramatically because of uncon- trolled overfishing. “An Appendix I listing for Atlantic blue fin tuna has become imperative if we are to save the species,” said Amanda Nickson, director of the WWF international species programme. “If we act now we can secure the future of this species and guarantee that fishing can be resumed in the future, but at a sus- tainable level.” Proposals to list several shark species on

Appendix II, which allows for international trade but imposes strict regulations and re- quires proof that trade is sustainable and legal, were also submitted. Threats such as

bycatch and shark finning and illegal fishing and overfishing have caused serious declines

in shark populations.

Also proposed for an Appendix II listing were red and pink coral, which are used

to make jewellery. Red and pink corals are

found throughout the world’s tropical and temperate seas but the absence of effective international trade controls has led to over- harvesting.

One the other hand, Zambia and Tan- zania submitted proposals that would have elephant populations within their borders moved from Appendix I to Appendix II in order to ease the permitting rules for trophy hunting and allow for the sale of govern- ment-owned ivory stockpiles. “WWF recognizes that some southern Af- rican elephant range states have successfully demonstrated that their populations should be placed on Appendix II,” said Nickson. “However, Tanzania and Zambia have yet to prove their case by demonstrating that their management of ivory stockpiles is adequate enough to prevent laundering of poached ivory. “And while we acknowledge the concerns that have motivated Kenya’s proposal, we must not forget to address what WWF sees as the main issue driving elephant poaching – that is, unregulated domestic markets in central and West Africa.” Two other of WWF’s priority species that were not the subject of listing propos- als but that will be discussed at the meeting are tigers and rhinos, which are both criti- cally endangered and are being poached in order to feed the illegal market for their parts and derivatives. Tiger numbers could now be as low as 3,200 and rhino poach- ing has reached a 15 year high according to new re- search released this sum- mer. WWF will now engage with its partners TRAF- FIC and IUCN, which will do a full analyses of the proposals in order to assess whether or not they meet the criteria required for a species to be listed in the CITES appendices. WWF will formulate its position on each proposal based on this analysis. photo: Lynette Strauss

Elephants near the Letaba Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park

Elephant debate expected to be controversial

Elephants will be a topic of debate at the CITES meeting as potentially conflicting

proposals were submitted for elephants. Ke- nya submitted a proposal – together with

a group of west African countries - that

would impose a 19 year ban on other coun- tries seeking permission for one-off ivory sales, such as the one that took place under CITES supervision in 2008, and that would suspend the legal sale of ivory souvenirs in Namibia and Zimbabwe.

that would suspend the legal sale of ivory souvenirs in Namibia and Zimbabwe. kruger park times

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Kruger Krazies’ Claim to Shame

Kruger Krazies’ Claim to Shame These photos of transgressors of Park rules are published in an
Kruger Krazies’ Claim to Shame These photos of transgressors of Park rules are published in an
Kruger Krazies’ Claim to Shame These photos of transgressors of Park rules are published in an
Kruger Krazies’ Claim to Shame These photos of transgressors of Park rules are published in an
Kruger Krazies’ Claim to Shame These photos of transgressors of Park rules are published in an
Kruger Krazies’ Claim to Shame These photos of transgressors of Park rules are published in an

volunteers get dirty at school

Volunteers, greater Hoedpsruit based- businesses and staff from the Klaserie Pri- vate Nature Reserve and Children’s Eco Training joined hands with teachers, pupils and parents of Mawuvana Primary School on a clean-up drive at the school. All contributed to the success of ‘Do- it’Day’ by planting, painting, putting in windows, restoring and fixing desks, re- placing desk tops and surprising the school with new shelves in the storeroom. “This hard work and incredible changes gave the school new hope and a sense of belonging and pride,” says Zani Kunz of Children’s Eco Training. “We would like to thank all of you, the volunteers and our sponsors, who assisted in making this an awesome experience,” says Zani. School principal S Ndlovu said he is

delighted to see their planning come into fruition. “The participation of teachers and parents are much appreciated,” he said. Sponsors: Klaserie Private Nature Reserve (main Sponsor), Gomo Gomo Lodge, Mica Hoedspruit, The Waterhole, Lowveld Building Supplies, Hoedsruit Spar, Honey Suckle, Glass Planet, Bavaria, Campfire Safaris, Johan du Preez, Bertie Vorster, Hennalie Steyn, Wil- lem van der Nest, Johan van Zyl, Gert Rautenbach, Wouter & Annamarie de Vos, Am- mie Minnaar, Chris & Barbara Huddle, Jaco & Ilonka Crau- kamp, Theo Sauerman, Auto Doctor, Maliflora, KPNR staff:

Erik Manyike, Lawrence Ma- thonsi, Newman Mahatlane,

Reuben Motloutsi (CET), CET staff: Elvis Mathebula, Thabo Mhangane and Ronald Moropane, KPNR volunteers: Nikiwe Ndl- ovu (KPNR) and Frank (Matamani camp).

Moropane, KPNR volunteers: Nikiwe Ndl- ovu (KPNR) and Frank (Matamani camp). kruger park times - 27
Moropane, KPNR volunteers: Nikiwe Ndl- ovu (KPNR) and Frank (Matamani camp). kruger park times - 27

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Cities and Climate Change

T he impact of climate change

on cities and towns, as well as

the reduction of dependency

on fossil fuels are among the

foremost challenges to urban management today in creating sustainable cities. The cre- ation of sustainable cities requires the mini- mized use of non-renewable resources; the use of renewable resources; and for cities to stay within the absorptive capacity of local and global waste absorption limits. Mea- sures taken to attain these objectives pro- vide the link between the natural and built environments, or, put another way, between the green and brown agendas.

Green and Brown Agendas

A significant dilemma for urban planners and politicians trying to implement sustain- able urban development is how to integrate different concerns of the green and brown agendas. The Green Agenda refers to the natural environment: it is about the natural systems of the local, bioregional and global ecosys- tems that cities and other settlements use as services for open space, biodiversity, water provision, waste dispersion, health air, and reliable climate, food and fibre. The Brown Agenda concerns the human environment. The agenda is essential for making a city work; for a healthy and live- able environment; and for creating the hu- man and economic opportunities that have been driving cities. This agenda is about optimizing land use; engineering of waste systems; minimizing energy consumption and transport; reducing use of materials; and creating an efficient built environment. The rapid growth of cities in the past 50 years has meant that the brown agenda of providing buildings and transport, while coping with waste, has often overwhelmed many cities, especially in the developing world. Brown functions of a city often de- grade its green resources, unless city inter- venes through processes such as urban plan- ning and environmental management. This is no longer feasible and cities need to slash their impact on the natural environment, and ensure that bioregional and global eco- systems are shielded from degradation. Key innovat ions are occurring globally

to synergise the green and brown agendas. They are as follows:

Development of Renewable Energy

This enables cities to create healthy envi- ronments using minimum fossil fuels. Some urban areas are now partly powered by re- newable energy techniques and technolo- gies, from the region to the building level. Harnessing solar, wind, hydro and geo- thermal power for urban use: Urban plan-

ning is necessary to create the infrastructure needed to support renewable sources of power at the scale necessary to help power

a city. Transport: electric vehicles can play a critical role in enabling renewable to build up as a much higher proportion of the ur- ban energy grid. Fossil fuels: The move away from fos- sil fuels requires serious localizing and lo- cal sourcing of building materials. Striving for carbon-neutral cities: The key objective of this trend for “carbon-neutral cities” is to ensure that every home, neighbourhood

and business is carbon neutral. Carbon- neutral cities are able to replace fossil fuels, thereby providing a basis for the regenera- tion of the ecology. Minimizing carbon footprints: This needs to become a feature of whole neighbour- hoods and even complete cities if the world

is to move to post-carbon cities.

Increasing photosynthetic spaces as part of green infrastructure: Growing energy and providing food and materials locally is becoming part of urban infrastructural de- velopment. Development of distributed power and water systems: this aims to shift cities from large centralized power and water systems to small-scale and neighbourhood-based ones. Newer forms of power and water are in- creasingly smaller scale: This will ensure a reduction in the use of water. Distributive systems are being tried in cities such as Mal- mo (Sweden) and Toronto (Canada). The urban eco-efficiency agenda includes the “cradle to cradle” concept for the design of all new products and new systems such as industrial ecology, where industries share resources and wastes like an ecosystem.

Sustainable Transport

Increasingly, more energy efficient cit- ies neighbourhoods and regions are being planned, by offering walk-able transitori- ented options and renewable energy pow- ered vehicles. Such cities have been able to reduce use of fossil fuels, as well as through reduced urban sprawl and reduced depen- dence on car-based infrastructure. The agenda for large cities now is to have more sustainable transport options to reduce traf- fic while reducing greenhouse gases by 50 per cent.

Street Planning and Mobility Management

As cities build freeways, more car traffic follows. On the other hand, if transit traffic is emphasised, it could enable streets to be- come an important part of the sustainable transport system. Streets can be designed to favour pedestrian and cycle traffic. When- ever this is done, cities become more attrac- tive and business friendly. now contain gro- cery stores, childcare centres and improved public toilets.

Cities without Slums

“Cities without slums” is one of the most important goals of urban planning in devel- oping countries today. Slums pose a significant threat to the green agenda, at the same time; the brown agenda is seriously compromised for those living in slums. There are two trends in resolving the phenomenon of slums: first, is upgrading of existing slums; second, is adoption of urban and housing policies that prevent the emergence of slums. Slum upgrading consists of improving security of tenure and installing new or im- proving existing infrastructure and services up to satisfactory levels, especially water supply, sanitation and waste management. This includes storm water drainage, elec- tricity, access roads and footpaths.

UN Habitat: Global report on Hu- man Settlement 2009

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Battered and Bruised - Abused Elephants to Be Rescued in Zimbabwe

T he rescue of nine abused el- ephants from a commercial training facility in Zimbabwe will begin on Monday, No-

vember 2, 2009 the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) has announced. The elephants were confiscated in April

2009 after an inspection by the Zimbabwe

National Society for the Protection of Cru- elty against Animals (ZNSPCA) found cruel and torturous methods were being used to “tame and train” them for the elephant back safari industry - a popular tourist ac- tivity in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in south- ern Africa. The ZNSPCA requested IFAW to step in and assist in translocating the elephants to a safe haven with a view to rehabilitating

the elephants and releasing them back into the wild. “These elephants have been subjected to the most appalling cruelty, all in the name of servicing an indefensible form of safari industry,” said Neil Greenwood, spokesman IFAW Southern Africa. “In fact 10 elephants were originally

caught for training. Tragically one - a young male named Dumisani - died of malnutri- tion and the abuse he was subjected to. Given all of this, IFAW has assembled a top team of cap- ture experts to translocate the remaining nine elephants to safety with the least possible stress.” The elephants will be trans- ported from a privately owned ranch in the West Nicholson area, south of Bulawayo where the elephants were being “trained,” to Hwange Nation- al Park, some 700 kilometres (437 miles) further east. The wild elephants were originally caught on protected land in October 2008. In April

2009 when the ZNSPCA in-

spected the training facility they discovered some of the following abuses taking place:

* Elephants chained on one leg and being fed from a dis- tance requiring them to stand on three legs and strain at their chains to reach their food.

This practice was intended to enforce the dominance of the handlers and caused se- vere wounds to the chained legs.

* Restricted access to water and shade.

* Varying degrees of wounds caused by

training techniques and chaining. * An adult female elephant separated from her male calf causing unnecessary

stress and physical suffering to both calf and mother.

* Chaining for long hours preventing the

elephants from socialising with each other.

The translocation of the elephants will begin on Monday afternoon, 2nd Novem- ber and has been mandated by the Govern- ment of Zimbabwe. The elephants will be darted and transported in a single group to Hwange National Park overnight before being released into a large rehabilitation boma for monitoring before eventually be- ing released into the park. For more information on the transloca- tion and on making a donation to support the move, please visit International Fund for Animal Wel- fare

visit International Fund for Animal Wel- fare South Africa to host G20 Tourism Meeting in

South Africa to host G20 Tourism Meeting in 2010

South Africa has been elected as the Africa representative to the ex- ecutive council of the United Na- tions World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) at the organisation’s 8th annual assembly in October 2009. “Our election follows an absence of ten years from the Executive Council. During this four-year term, South Africa will use its position to advance Africas development agen- da and the objectives of the New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD).We will also actively work towards the realisation of the Millen- nium Development Goals (MDGs), because we, as an African country, regardtourism as pivotal to unlocking greater economic growth, infrastruc- ture development, trade promotion and job creation on our continent,” says South Africa’s minister of tour- ism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk. He was addressing the 8th annual tourism conference which took place in Johannesburg on October 30,


In Kazakhstan, the ministerial representatives from the G20 coun- tries also met to discuss tourisms contribution to the economic stim- uli required for the recovery of the global economy. South Africas will host a first meeting of the G20 tour- ism ministers from 22 to 24 February 2010 in Gauteng under the theme Travel and tourism: Stimuli for G20 economies. As the new UNWTO Roadmap for Recovery report adopted in Ka- zakhstan highlights, there is grow- ing evidence that tourism and travel could make a valuable contribution to the process of global economic recovery, which will include amongst others rebuilding consumer confi- dence, stimulating source markets and, in the longer term, supporting the transition to a greener economy. The new UNWTO Roadmap to Recovery recognises the fact that tourism is one of the worlds top job creators (providing 75 million direct jobs worldwide) and that it drives the viability of many small and medium enterprises.

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Our Planet Reviewed

On the eve of 2010, International Year of Biodiversity, the National Museum of Natural History and Pro-Natura Inter- national are working in partnership with IUCN to launch’ Our Planet Reviewed’, an unprecedented programme of naturalist expeditions. The expeditions will span ten years to conduct a massive inventory of biodiversity in geographical areas which, up until now, have been little explored. The objective is to accelerate the scientific discovery of new species, by focusing our efforts on the re- gions of the planet which are considered a priority in terms of nature conservation. Madagascar and Mozambique received the first of a series of expeditions on sea and land in April 2009. The last is sched- uled for June 2010. Under the leadership of Professor Philippe Bouchet, from the Na- tional Museum of Natural History, and Ol- ivier Pascal, from Pro-Natura International, these expeditions aim to develop existing knowledge of biodiversity in regions which are considered to be the richest in species, but which are also lesser known and the most threatened on the planet. Over four months of research in the field, around a hundred participants across all disciplines, from all around the world, and exceptional technical resources bear witness to the scale of this inventory project. These new expeditions will draw on the expertise acquired during Santo 2006, an inventory operation carried out in the Van- uatu archipelago, in the heart of the South Pacific, which revealed several hundred new species. Essentially dedicated to neglected bio- diversity, such as marine and land inverte- brates, plants and fungi, which represent 95 percent of biodiversity and play a fun- damental role in the balance of ecosystems, the Mozambique/ Madagascar project in- tends to return this field of research, all too often ignored in favour of large fauna, to its proper place and thereby encourage new conservation policies, which are no longer solely based on emblematic species. Disappearing habitats (forests, coral reefs), overexploitation, pollution, climate

change - there are numerous causes for the disappearance of living things and the scale of the biodiversity crisis is now proven. The actual number of living species could be between eight and 30 million, yet only 1.8 million are currently known. A quarter, or even half, of these species could disappear from the planet by the middle or the end of this century; the issues at stake are therefore substantial and, now more than ever, it is time to start a new pattern of exploring and describing biodiversity. Mozambique and Madagascar are home to an exceptionally rich flora and fauna, which is still largely unknown, despite the attention which has been accorded to Madagascar, in particular, by nature protec- tion organizations over a number of years. Therefore, it is natural that these two large countries should form a strategic target for scientists. The Museum has created a bilingual website (French/English) entirely dedicated to the project: This allows the public to fol- low the expeditions, take a look behind the scenes and share the researchers day to day

experience through photos, reports, inter- views and much more. www.laplaneterevisi- and

The Ploughshare Tortoise (Astro- chelys yniphora) was uplisted from Endangered to Critically Endan- gered in 2008. This species has a very small range, occurring only around Baly Bay in northwestern Madagascar. The total wild popula- tion is estimated at about 600 indi- viduals and is declining. Its current restricted range and past declines are believed to be the result of ex- ploitation (poaching for the inter- national pet trade) and habitat loss caused by deliberate fires. It is near certain that the species will become extinct within the next generation (42 years) if the current level of threats continue unabated. Photo © Anders Rhodin.

level of threats continue unabated. Photo © Anders Rhodin. The Kruger Park e-Times is published regularly