The Scale of Things! Or: the Madness of Man (&Woman)

March 22, 2017
Consider this - the 2016/2017 budget for South African National Parks is roughly R 1.86 billion, for Cape Nature approximately R 304 million (2014/2015). We are well aware that not all of these budgets go into what we call “real conservation” but one has to measure this against the cost of a single F117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft - R 1.4 billion, or a South African produced Rooivalk attack helicopter at a mere R 500 million. We could go further but there is no point - governments and man have their priorities, to kill each other makes money, lots of it, but conservation is an emotional loss making exercise!

   ZAR 500,000,000.- 
By Danie van der Merwe - originally posted to Flickr as Rooivalk Attack Helicopter, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1620706

     ZAR 1,400,000,000.-
By Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon II - http://www.defenselink.mil/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3770855
 

SKA - Meerkat and conservation

January 14, 2017
There has been a lot of negativity surrounding the large tracts of land that have been bought up as part of the SKA-Meerkat astronomical observatory. It lies to the north of the Karoo town of Carnarvon, just 60 km from our home village!

In the general area we are 'threatened' by fracking for gas and open-cast mining for uranium but SKA does put a positive spin on things.

Most complaints against the large land holdings of SKA revolve around the loss of sheep farming country but many of the bough...
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Back to our pet hate - feral & domestic cats

January 14, 2017
On a recent visit to the Neusiedler See in eastern Austria, on the Hungarian border, we encountered feral cats - lots of them. This is a national park and one of the most important bird conservation areas in Austria/Hungary. 

No information is available on the impact these cats are having on the bird and other vertebrate, and invertebrate life. Going on information from England, Sweden and Germany the impact is probably considerable. So, why is nothing being done to control or eradicate this f...
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The Feral Horse Dilemma!

November 9, 2016
We recently read about the feeding of the feral horses in the vicinity of Aus in southern Namibia. Mathilde and I first encountered these horses in 2003 and we were impressed by how they had survived against all the odds from the early 20th century. But they are not part of the natural system of things and if they survive so be it but man should not intervene and feed them.

We both are horse people but where feral horses enter a natural ecosystem they should be removed or controlled. In Austra...

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CITES and Elephants

September 25, 2016
We are watching the CITES gathering in South Africa with interest (let us not consider the carbon footprint of the over 2,000 delegates from all over the world shall we!). 
Elephant poaching has escalated massively despite regulations and regular 'talk shops'. The move to put all Elephant populations on Appendix 1 - if it happens, will inevitably be a disaster for the pachyderms. The trade will continue but just be driven further underground. One just has to think of the rhino horn trade. 
If y...
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The value of game

September 25, 2016
The only reason game ranching survives and grows is because of good financial returns - and we feel that is how it should be. We don't like the trend of breeding and marketing morphs - 'golden wildebeest', etc and feel it should be outlawed!
Now along comes the Savanna Buffalo bull Inala, that sold recently for R 168 million. We admit the market is obviously there but at this sort of pricing something is not right in the world of game ranching. Profits yes, these prices are becoming an obsceni...
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The Kruger drought and cull!

September 25, 2016
Outrage over the announcement that SANParks in Kruger National Park is to cull 4,700 Savanna Buffalo and 750 Common Hippopotamus, because of the ongoing drought. Why?
Kruger is a fenced reserve, apart from some dropped sections of the international boundary with Mozambique; and as such despite exceeding 20,000 square kilometres it has to be managed. For decades there have been controlled burns, closure and opening of waterpoints, in the past culls of Elephant and Buffalo. The proposed cull wi...
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Uranium mining and fracking in the South African Karoo

August 12, 2016
We have noted the claims of 'victory' on the uranium mining front in the Karoo. This is not a victory, as it is the normal practice of mining companies to lay claim to vast tracts of land, followed by more intensive prospecting, that brings them closer to the 'mother lode'. The disruption, pollution and water extraction levels will still be there! How much of this depends on the 8 questionable nuclear power stations our government hopes to have built? An open question!

The same goes for fracki...
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The Feral/Domestic Cat Saga continued - nothing has changed

May 11, 2016
This article although published in 1991 is still relevant today. We raise the issue again because in our home village of Loxton, domestic and feral cats have reached pest proportions. Most are free-ranging and have no owner (does any cat?), a few have homes. Our feelings remain the same, in that domestic cats should be fitted with collars and bells to warn small potential prey animals (it really works) and feral cats should be trapped and euthanised. 
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Lions from South American captivity

May 10, 2016
Recently, more than 30 circus and zoo Lions were flown from South America to a facility in the north of South Africa. this has, in some quarters, been hailed as a great success for Lion conservation. Really?

These Lions have been held over several generations in captivity, and as a result are not good specimens, nor can they ever be released into the wild. Perhaps, yes, they will have more comfortable quarters, be better fed but in the long run would it not have been better to euthanize these ...
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