Archive for the ‘Conservation Issues’ Category

The seed for a great miracle lies in impossibility.

April 23, 2007

They say that the condition for a great miracle lies in impossibility- but nothing on earth can keep me from leaving beautiful Uganda and the rhinos at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. But I have been left with no choice. The politics, corruption, lack of support for the project from key role players in the country and an uncertain future for me has left me with no option. I cannot believe that I have made this choice, because it is an opportunity of a lifetime for me and I am so, so passionate about the re-introduction project, but the odds are stacked so incredibly high.

As I write this there is a leopard calling on the outskirts of my garden, the rhinos are happily grazing on the lawn and the whole area around headquarters is crawling with wildlife since the cattle have been moved off the property- the pearl of Uganda I say! But its as if I am sitting in the middle of this small piece of paradise screaming my lungs out for help and support and it continuously falls on deaf ears. Pages and pages of reports and recommendations on how best to do this first of its kind project seems to make no difference- a crying shame, since the potential for this project is unending.

During my short time here I have learnt an incredible amount, met some fascinating people and have been in situations that I would not want my worst enemies to be in- but great none-the-less. To the people and organisations that have supported me and the project, I say a massive thank you. Thank you for listening, thank you for you financial contributions and thank you for flying out from all corners of the globe to see how things are going on the ground.

I have witnessed real injustices, poverty, the arrogance of power, the ignorance of foreigners, the obliteration of proud cultures and beautiful landscapes and my hands are tied to try and educate, protect and create awareness for this beautiful part of Gods creation we call Africa.

Siyabonga. Siyabonga iNkosi!

Steve Erwin?? Jeff Corwin?? Come on. I am waiting!!!

March 8, 2007

In typical Deren fashion I have gone and koeksistered myself royally!! I have probably had one of the most legendary weeks of my life and I will have to sit down and think pretty hard to find something to beat it….besides flying of course!!

The Slate Foundation, whose slogan is “So the children of tomorrow might know thehollywood-shooting-crew-plus-by-lloyd-003.jpg animals of today”, have spent the last week here at the Rhino Sanctuary filming a show that will be broadcast on Discovery Channel together with other animals such as manatees, wolves, wild horses and whales, focusing on educating children on the importance of wildlife conservation. The show revolves around a day in the lives of the biologists, scientists and conservationists who dedicate their lives to save these magnificent animals.

So why have I gone and thrown myself a curve-ball and confused the hell out of myself? Well my whole idea- personally, is to educate people and particularly kids in the role they can and should play to conserve wildlife. Working with Madison, Bill and the rest of the crew made me realise just how powerful film can be in getting this message over to the kids of today. So yes, Deren is considering a career change!

Five days of chock-a-block filming that resulted in around 40 hours of footage and somehollywood-shooting-crew-plus-by-lloyd-005.jpg unforgettable experiences has had a noticeable effect on my outlook on wildlife conservation. When I was first approached by Madison I had no idea what to expect as our last film crew who visited was rather disappointed and the rhinos did not co-operate and neither did I, as I went down with malaria the day they arrived! But these guys were incredible. Passionate, motivated, outgoing and just up for anything- it is just what I needed, and I think at the end of the day everyone involved took something special away from their time with the rhinos at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. And me who didn’t leave, my life was was enriched by a tiny self-funded, non-profit and motivated film crew who are striving (and succeeding) to educate the kids of today about our endangered species.

Check out their website. They do some incredible stuff!hollywood-shooting-crew-plus-by-lloyd-481.jpg

To Bill, Madison, Seth, Carrie, Jason and Doc, a massive, massive thank you. See you all in LA sometime. Good luck with all your work and if you need someone in your team in the future you know where to find me! And watch out for those damn sticker bushes!! Keep on keeping on guys!

Consumptive vs Non-consumptive Utilization of Wildlife Resources

February 26, 2007

Are bans on hunting and trade the best way to conserve species?

It is natural for people to jump to the conclusion that they are. After all, if no one is allowed to kill an animal, the thinking goes, surely its population will grow…

To understand why hunting and trade bans are not as effective as they are supposed to be, it is worth considering elephant conservation programmes in Africa, where countries have adopted two diverse strategies.

Elephant tusks (ivory) are used in artefacts around the world and, whether we like it or not, they command a market value similar to many precious metals. As a result, there is a constant international demand for ivory.

Unfortunately, most African economies are poor and wildlife conservation has to compete with many pressing demands for public money, such as the provision of public housing, sanitation projects, health care (particularly related to Aids) and education.

African elephant and her calf (Image: AP)

So conservation projects are going to be most successful if they can be self-supporting; in other words, if they can generate income and provide local jobs.

In southern Africa, countries have followed the philosophy of sustainable use. They have issued permits to sport hunters to kill a limited number of elephants that are pre-selected according to factors like age and sex. They cannot shoot breeding animals, for example.

Sport hunting produces significant income through hunting fees, safari costs (guides, accommodation, trophy fees, etc.) and this is reinvested into conservation programmes. Local people support it because it provides secure employment.

The result is that in Namibia, South Africa and Botswana, elephant populations are well-stocked and healthy, while incidences of poaching have been kept to low levels.

By contrast, Kenya takes a protectionist approach. Killing elephants is prohibited and the country steadfastly argues against international trade in ivory.

An unintended consequence is that poaching is encouraged because local people receive little added value from the elephants and, instead, see a local resource going to waste.

In some areas people suffer when elephants destroy crops and homes. Habitat damage from dense populations also negatively impacts many other species.

Conservation in Kenya has become largely a law enforcement operation and, inevitably, this is a drain on limited local resources.

While elephant populations have recovered, poaching remains a problem and, in stark contrast to southern Africa, people have to be paid to shoot problem animals.

Unfortunately, there is a tendency for nations to practice sustainable use at home while prescribing protectionism abroad.

This is true for African elephants, seals, sturgeon, whales, tigers, rhinos and many of the so-called “charismatic” species.

In the future, the fate of many animals may well depend on the extent to which the public around the world starts to accept the idea of utilising wildlife in a sustainable way.