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Thursday, 28 April 2011

South Africa sends in the army to stop rhino poaching in the Kruger

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) had been asked by South African National Parks (SANParks) to play a strategic role in the protection of South African National Parks, especially the Kruger National Park. The SANDF deployed to the Kruger where the park borders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe at the beginning of April 2011.

333 rhinos killed in South Africa in 2010
A total of 333 rhinos were illegally killed in South Africa in 2010, including ten critically endangered black rhinos, according to national park officials. The yearly total is the highest ever experienced in South Africa and nearly three times the 2009 figure when 122 rhinos were killed in the country. An additional five rhinos have been lost to poaching since the New Year.

146 rhinos killed in the Kruger in 2009
Kruger National Park, the world famous safari destination, was hardest hit losing 146 rhinos to poaching in 2010, authorities said. The park is home to the largest populations of both white and black rhinos in the country. Rhino poaching across Africa has risen sharply in the past few years, threatening to reverse hard-won population increases achieved by conservation authorities during the 20th century.

4 arrests
The South African Minister of Defence, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu, has congratulated SANDF for arresting four alleged poachers in the Kruger National Park. The Mozambican nationals were found in possession of hunting rifle, binoculars, axe and cell phones. They will appear at Skukuza Magistrate Court.

"We congratulate the SANDF members for arresting poachers. It has been 15 days since they deployed into the Park and we can see the results already. We will continue to work with the law enforcement agencies to secure our borders and to deal with rhino poaching", said Minister Sisulu.

"Our national parks are major assets, and we will protect them for the future and those who pose any threats to our animals will meet the full might of the law. We have declared war with poachers in all our parks," added Minister Sisulu.

The SANDF is currently deployed along the Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Lesotho borders. At the end of the financial year 2012/13 the SANDF will cover the entire over 4471 kilometres of land between South Africa and Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, and Lesotho.

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Thursday, 21 April 2011

Dehorn or Poisoning?

Last week there was a dehorning by poachers of a rhino in the Save Conservancy. The most horrifying aspect of this atrocity was that the mutilated rhino did not die in the attack and was left wandering around in agony. Coincidentally, as seen on the South African TV programme, Carte Blanche last Sunday, a very similar incident happened in South Africa recently where the horns were hacked out of a rhino and it was also left alive. The footage was extremely upsetting.

Dehorning - Limited success and other issues

Various methods are employed to try and prevent rhino from falling prey to poachers but the slaughter and maiming of this endangered species continues unabated. Dehorning is quite a popular method but this doesn't seem to deter the poachers. The rhinos endure a certain amount of stress in the dehorning exercise and once their horn has been removed, they no longer have that defence mechanism. In the case of female rhinos, when they give birth to a calf, they need the horn to help the newborn rhino to its feet. The other disadvantage of dehorning is that the horn grows back and the dehorning process has to be repeated on a regular basis throughout the rhino's lifetime.

Poisoning rhino horns.

Instead of spending money on dehorning, we believe that the best and most cost effective way to minimize the poaching and try to prevent the extinction of the species is to administer poison to the horns. This was done by a farmer in South Africa and he says the poison, whilst deadly to humans, has no effect whatsoever on the rhino. This may seem like a drastic measure but the only way to prevent rhino poaching is to discourage people from buying it and it would only need to be done once to each rhino. Signs could be erected where rhinos are kept warning poachers that the horns are poisoned. Warnings could also be issued through media campaigns worldwide and the word would soon get around that consumption of rhino horn could prove fatal.

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Pick of the week.

Campi ya Kanzi - 'Camp of the hidden treasure'

This eco-friendly lodge lies on the slopes of Kenya's Chyulu Hills (The Green Hills of Africa of Ernest Hemingway), which look toward Tanzania's majestic Mount Kilimanjaro. Most awarded eco lodge in East Africa, chosen in the best 50 eco lodges in the World by National Geographic, it is built from local materials and uses solar technology to supply hot water and electricity to the six luxury tented cottages and two tented suites.

The 400 square mile Maasai Reserve has many different environments, reflecting in a great array of wildlife. Beside the famous Big Five (elephant, rhino, leopard, lion and buffalo), many other uncommon animals are present, like wild dog, cheetah and lesser kudu. Together with classic game drives, a game walk with your professional Maasai guide and Maasai tracker will be the highlight of your safari.

Campi ya Kanzi is proud to have tried a new way of conservation, through the complete involvement of the local Maasai landlords. Guests assist with this by contributing a daily conservation fee of $100, which is spent toward the welfare of both men and wildlife. Responsible eco-tourism preserves the wildlife heritage of this important East African wilderness and allows the Maasai to continue their traditional way of life - more than a millennium old.

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Monday, 18 April 2011

Mount Meru Hotel - Press Release

To most people, the annual trek of the Wildebeest across the planes of the Serengeti is limited to a documentary on the Discovery Channel, and they are left to their own devices to imagine the smell of adrenaline in the air, the sound of thousands of hooves running through water masses and the impending humid anticipation of lurking danger. But to get up close and personal with one of nature’s most spectacular scenes does not imply surround sound or sitting closer to the screen.

Annually thousands of tourists journey to Tanzania to witness the famous voyage of herds of wildebeest across its grasslands. While the phrase “the rain falls mainly on the plane” may have become famous in the movie “My Fair Lady”, the meaning rings true to the vast numbers of wildebeest, accompanied by large numbers of zebra, and smaller numbers of Grant's gazelle, Thompson's gazelle, eland and impala who traverse these planes in search of fresh grazing and better water supplies.

Migration begins just after the first rains sweep the planes of the Serengeti in November. Towards the end of February, herds celebrate the arrival of the next generation of wildebeest and by May the trek moves North seeking water. The scene is indescribable – a wild series of moving columns, often containing hundreds of thousands of animals – any nature lover’s dream.

Situated between the highlands of the majestic Kilimanjaro and ground zero of the Serengeti, is the city of Arusha, Tanzania, boasting one of Africa’s leisure bastions, the Mount Meru Hotel. This newly refurbished sanctuary is the gateway to the migration and specializes in giving guests a truly African experience.

Professionally trained and friendly staff members will ensure that your voyage to the flatlands of Africa is not a stampede, but a leisurely experience of tranquillity and luxury. They will gladly assist in organizing an unforgettable experience, not only of the Serengeti, but also of Tanzania. If roughing it is not your cup of tea, put your feet up and relax in style whilst surrounded by the best of African hospitality.

According to the hotel’s resident “herd tracker”, aerial surveys have confirmed a vast increase in the wildebeest population in the 2010/2011 season. Heading into May (when the herds start with their epic journey North) the anticipation is palpable. Weather forecasts predict normal rainfall patterns meaning that the herds will remain in the central Serengeti for quite a while - the ideal time to make your Serengeti experience a live one, one where you can’t hit the pause button, you just have to roll tape.

You are invited to come and discover a place with broader horizons than your flat screen, a place where the heavens meet the earth, where the rhythm of nature pounds to the beat of an African drum, and where life is all about a revival of the primal spirit. Take in Africa’s splendour – visit the Mount Meru Hotel, your gateway to life’s most spectacular experiences.

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Thursday, 14 April 2011

Save the Rhino charity cycle ride.

Support Save the Rhino Trust via a charity cycle ride through Namibian desert.

These unusual images show a recent relocation by Save The Rhino Trust (SRT) of ten desert-adapted rhinos into a remote, wild pocket of Northern Namibia, known as Kaokoland. The rhino population there was poached out many years ago.

If you want to support SRT, then there's an especially adventurous way to do so - the Mike Hearn Memorial Cycle Ride, a ten-day pedal for charity across the neighbouring region of Damaraland, a wild place of eternal skies and gorgeous desert. Organised by Desert Venture and fully-supported by local specialist Wilderness Safaris, the trip consists of seven days' wild cycling - along rugged tracks and Namibia's famous dirt roads, and via craggy campsites, huge desert canyons and a study base known as World's End - and a final day of ‘chilling out', which means tracking rare rhino. There's an SRT guide on hand for this purpose, and participants might also run into desert elephant, desert lion, giraffe, oryx and springbok.

Departing 25 May, the trip costs £1,675 pp including all transfers, bike hire, cycle support, nearly all meals (seven nights camping), wine with dinner and the rhino tracking. Flights are additional. Next year's dates, if these come a tad too soon, are 12-22 May. Participants cycle around 30-50 km per day, riding during the morning then taking an afternoon siesta.

Each participant is expected to fundraise, with a final target of £1,500. Proceeds go to SRT and the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. The cost of the cycle trip is very subsidized by Wilderness Safaris, in lieu of the fundraising commitment by participants. It should cost a lot more. The fundraising is totally separate to ensure maximum transparency.

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Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Reintroduced cheetahs now thriving!

Mountain Zebra National Park - South Africa

Visitors to Mountain Zebra National Park can now join a guide in searching for the elusive cheetahs by means of tracking with radio telemetry equipment.

Cheetah were introduced to the Park in 2007 following an absence of over 100 years from the area. The species has adapted very well to the Park, increasing in number from four in 2007 to over 30 animals. A number of cheetah have been relocated to new locations in the last few months to ensure that the integrity of the natural ecosystem balance is not affected.

The new activities include two new guided walks: a three-hour route and a hike up the Salpeterskop to view a chessboard relic from the early 1900s. Guided walks, cheetah tracking and guided drives are led by fully qualified, knowledgeable guides. The opening of guided walks follows the closure of all hiking trails in July 2010 following the tragic death of a hiker who was attacked by a buffalo on one of the hiking trails.

Walking trails
The two short walking trails (1-kilometre and 2.5-kilometre trails) are available to visitors as self-walk options, having been enclosed, along with the rest camp area, with electrified fencing.

The three-day hiking trail has yet to re-open but the two mountain cottages, formerly used exclusively as hiking trail huts, are now available as an ideal rustic getaway option for visitors with high clearance vehicles.

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