Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to ban all unguided walking in Mana Pools

Extract from  www.tourismupdate.co.za newsflash

“Concern about increasing unsanctioned and uncontrolled human behaviour has led the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) to ban all unguided walking. Flouting of the rules runs a whole gamut from chasing and crowding animals, to unlicensed tour operating and commercial photographers, to off-road driving. The culprits appear to be a small minority, but incidents have grown along with the park’s popularity.”

” While visitors will now have to take their walks accompanied by a ranger or professional guide, the ZPWMA’s stretched resources also come into play; it is unlikely to provide sufficient guides for this purpose. Guidance will come at a cost too – US$25 a day for groups of three to six and US$30 per hour for smaller groups (non-resident rate). Visitors will, however, be permitted to bring a professional guide with them during their stay. Founder of Bulawayo-based African Bush Camps, Beks Ndlovu, says the ban is a great pity. “We do, however, understand the reasoning behind the ban, based on the abuse that has taken place by certain visitors in the past and the affect this has had, not only on the wildlife but also on the enjoyment of other guests visiting the national park.”  See more at: http://www.tourismupdate.co.za/Home/Detail?articleId=49990#sthash.gnXiVnJP.dpuf

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International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May 2015

“SUSTAINING A HEALTHY PLANET REQUIRES ALL OUR EFFORTS THIS INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR BIOLOGICAL BIODIVERSITY”

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Extracted from EWT Newsflash 21st May 2015

“Can the planet still bear the growing human population and sustain plant and animal species to the benefit of all? With only one planet and limited natural resources available for the survival of all living creatures, including seven billion people worldwide, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) calls on all South Africans to join us in marking this International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May 2015. The over exploitation and uneven use of our natural resources is a major threat to our biodiversity.

Despite the declining rate of our biodiversity, South Africa remains one of the countries with high levels of biodiversity. South Africa occupies only 2% of the world’s land surface area and yet is home to 10% of the world’s plant species and 7% of its reptile, bird and mammal species. Our oceans are home to about 10 000 life forms representing 16% of the world’s marine wildlife. Our country ranks as one of the top birding destinations in the world and is a sanctuary to more than 9000 plants species and home to the magnificent Big Five, a big draw card for our tourism.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), globally about one third of all known species are threatened with extinction. That includes 29% of all amphibians, 21% of all mammals and 12% of all birds. If we do not address the threats to biodiversity, we could be facing another mass extinction with dire consequences to the environment, economy, human health and our livelihoods.

In line with the International Day for Biological Diversity 2015 theme “Sustainable Development”, there is a growing need for business, civil society and governments around the world to manage and protect the natural capital on which we all depend.

As one of South Africa’s leading biodiversity conservation organisations, the EWT is aware of the importance of integrating the conservation of species, habitats and ecosystem processes and we therefore focus much of our work on protecting both threatened species and habitats. The species we work with often act as indicators of the health of the ecosystems in which they occur. Successful conservation thus means protecting the habitats that support species – including human beings – and in this way entire ecosystems reap the benefits of our work.

To highlight International Day for Biological Diversity and raise awareness of the declining state of our biodiversity and the need to reverse this trend, the EWT will be facilitating awareness sessions and events.” For more information:

Contact:  Lillian Mlambo –  Communications Manager, Endangered Wildlife Trust

  Tel: +27 11 372 3600  
lillianm@ewt.org.za

ZIMBABWE CONSERVATION TASK FORCE

ZIMBABWE CONSERVATION TASK FORCE

Only after the last tree has been cut down.

Only after the last river has been poisoned.

Only after the last fish has been caught.

Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

Cree Indian Prophecy

 

18th May 2015

 RHINOS KILLED

In the past 2 weeks, we have lost one white rhino in Matopas and a black mother and baby in Save Conservancy to poaching.

EXPORT OF BABY ELEPHANTS TO CHINA  

According to information received, the sale of baby elephants to China is still ongoing. The elephants are still in Hwange National Park and we have heard that they will be sent to Angola. We are not sure if this is a tactic to send them on to China from there. Apparently, China has ordered 200 elephants in all.

Several of the major airlines around the world have now stated that they will not fly any trophies, wildlife products or live wildlife from Zimbabwe. We are very grateful to them for their assistance.

SPCA Mutare and Bulawayo and VAUZ have issued a statement (see below) for which we are very grateful although we have noted that the ZNSPCA does not seem to be involved in this.

A very big thank you to all the teams and wildlife organisations around the world who have been working tirelessly to assist us in our efforts to prevent the export of the baby elephants. For security reasons, we cannot name them but they know who they are.

Zimbabwe’s National animal welfare organisations, Veterinarians for Animal Welfare Zimbabwe (VAWZ) and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – Mutare and Bulawayo Branches – have jointly issued the following public statement following the capture of wild elephants from Hwange National Park:

  1. The SPCA and VAWZ appreciate that animal welfare standards have changed over time, particularly with respect to captive wildlife, to the extent that even the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) now plays an important role in setting standards for animal welfare. We urge the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority to take cognisance of these changed circumstances.
  2. While it is accepted that the capture and export, into captivity, of Zimbabwe’s wildlife, in particular the capture of elephant calves out of their maternal herds, may be within the terms of the CITES agreements, to which Zimbabwe is a signatory, neither this Convention, nor any other international regulatory authority, currently regulates the major animal welfare issues involved in such captures and exports. Therefore CITES, and other international organizations which control trade in wild animals are urged to re-examine their role with respect to animal welfare within trade in wildlife, and not merely  deal with the conservation or health status of species.
  3. Animal welfare in Zimbabwe is governed by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (Chapter 19:09). This Act is currently administered by the Ministry of Environment, Water Resources and Climate, under which the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority falls. This Authority which has undertaken the recent capture of elephant calves in Hwange National Park, as well as other similar captures of elephant and other species in recent times, should therefore ensure that any captures, and subsequent holding and export, of wildlife are undertaken in accordance of the provisions of this Act.

Section 3 of this Act specifically makes it illegal for any person or organization to:

  • wantonly or unreasonably do or omit to do any act, or cause or procure the commission or omission of any act which causes any unnecessary suffering to any animal; or
  • wantonly or unreasonably do, or cause, or procure the commission of any act likely to infuriate or terrify any animal

It is therefore very likely that the deliberate disruption of maternal herds of wild elephant, being amongst the most sentient of animals on this planet, and subsequent rendering of the calves as captive orphans, purely for commercial gain, would be found, in a court of law, to be in contravention of the letter and spirit of these clauses of this Act

  1. SPCA and VAWZ note that the last export of wild caught elephant calves to China, in 2012, resulted in the deaths of two of the four calves exported to that country, and that other such recent captures have ended with release of the elephant calves, usually into semi-captive situations albeit for ultimate rehabilitation to the wild in Zimbabwe. This latter course of action appears to have been the result of pressure from the international community and concerned local organizations. The present capture has again attracted wide international condemnation with possible long-term effects on Zimbabwe’s conservation and animal welfare credentials.
  2. It is inevitable that any capture and translocation of wildlife will result in stress to the captured animals. Such stress should be minimized  by adopting the following principles:
  • Capture and translocation of wildlife, especially if undertaken in Zimbabwe’s National Parks (Zimbabwe’s heritage), should have genuine conservation objectives to the benefit of Zimbabwe, and this country’s conservation ethics, and not be solely for commercial purposes. Therefore such captures should be minimal in number
  • Captures should be undertaken using the least stressful and most efficient methods, and any subsequent period of close confinement should be kept to a minimum prior to release into a suitable environment
  • Such a suitable environment should fulfil the physical and social requirements of the species and this is impossible with long-term, close confinement
  • Any non-domesticated species destined for a more restrictive environment should originate from a captive breeding establishment, of which there are many nowadays, and be obviously habituated to the close presence of people
  • No free-ranging wild animal should be captured and placed permanently in a restrictive environment unless there are critical and justifiable conservation reasons for so doing
  • No wild animal should be captured and exported for the purpose of performing or providing an unnatural spectacle to the public. This is often a feature of some wildlife parks in some countries
  • Wherever possible, and especially where there is likely to be controversy, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority should endeavour to engage independent, and reputable, national animal welfare organizations. This will create the necessary spirit of cooperation to ensure that capture, interim holding, translocation and any export of wildlife is in accordance with Zimbabwe’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, as well as internationally accepted norms. Such cooperation should include the co-inspection of any foreign destination for Zimbabwe’s wildlife
  1. It is our belief that elephants may warrant special consideration in terms of animal welfare and captive management, because of this species’ considerable intelligence and social cohesion. There does exist a draft Code of Practice for Domestic Elephant as well as, more recently, a draft Elephant Management Policy. Both these documents should pay careful attention to current scientific findings on elephant behaviour and social requirements, and therefore should include references to animal welfare practices based on this knowledge and within the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

Johnny Rodrigues

Chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force
Landline:        263 4 339065
Mobile:           263 712 603 213
Email:             galorand@mweb.co.zw
Facebook:     http://www.facebook.com/pages/ZCTF-Zimbabwe-Conservation-Task-Force/246013052094585
Website: www.zctfofficialsite.org.

The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force relies soley on public donations. Your donation can help to preserve the wildlife in Zimbabwe. If you would like to assist, please contact us.

Verraux’s Eagle rescued by Eskom and EWT

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ESKOM EMPLOYEES GIVE VERRAUX’S EAGLE A LIFELINE

14th May 2015

A Verraux’s Eagle has been given a second chance at life, all thanks to two Eskom Employees and the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT).

When two Eskom employees, Thabang Mosase and Phumzile Nikelo were inspecting a power line close to Petrusville , they came across a bird which was unable to fly. This prompted a call to Jeanine Burger, Senior Environmental Advisor, Eskom Transmission Free State Grid, who in turn reported the incident to the Eskom/Endangered Wildlife Trust partnership.Ronelle Visagie of the EWT’s Birds of Prey Programme was immediately dispatched to the scene to assist the Eskom employees. She identified the bird as a juvenile Verraux’s Eagle Aquila verreauxii.

From observation, it appeared that the eagle had been grounded for a while as its left wing was broken. The bird was taken to the Kimberley Veterinary clinic where it was stabilised and radiographed by Dr. Joe van Heerden to determine the extent of its injuries. After analysing the radiographs it was determined that the wing must have been broken at a young age and had attached at the wrong angle which would require surgery to repair.

The bird has since been sent to Dr Hank Chalmers at Spier Eagle Encounters in the Western Cape for surgery. “The ultimate objective is for the bird to be released back into the wild where it belongs. We are holding thumbs that the surgery will be a success and that the bird will once again be able to soar in the skies of the Karoo. It is an amazing experience to work with all these people who have such compassion for wildlife” said Ronelle Visagie.

Constant Hoogstad, EWT’s Wildlife and Energy Programme Manager said, ” Our appreciation has to go to the two ‘good Samaritan’ Eskom employees, Thabang Mosase and Phumzile Nikelo. Without their swift action and knowledge on what to do, the bird would have had no chance of survival. The Eskom/Endangered Wildlife Trust partnership has developed a course dedicated to wildlife and power line interactions which teaches employees amongst other things, what to do when birds are found under power lines. Over the last 5 years more than 9000 Eskom employees completed this course and we are really seeing the results in the form of increased reporting of incidents “.

Please visit www.ewt.org.za or contact WEP Manager Constant Hoogstad (constanth@ewt.org.za) for more information about the EWT-Eskom Partnership and the Wildlife and Energy Programme.

Photos available on request.

Contacts:      Constant Hoogstad
Wildlife and Energy Programme Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600 / 082 334 4176
constanth@ewt.org.za

and

Lillian Mlambo
Communications Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600
lillianm@ewt.org.za

Simangaliso’s slithering specials

Of the 36 recorded snake species known to occur in iSimangaliso Wetland Park, the beautiful Gaboon adder (Bitis gabonica) (also referred to as a Gaboon viper) is surely the most iconic one associated with the world heritage site, with iSimangaliso the largest protected refuge for Gaboon adders in southern Africa.

Gaboon1

The Gaboon adder is one of Africa’s most recognisable snakes. It’s a sedentary species renowned for its striking geometric patterning and is the world’s heaviest Adder, nonetheless notoriously cryptic in its natural environment. Stocky and often obese in appearance, the species can attain lengths up to 2 metres, although in iSimangaliso individuals rarely exceed 1.3 metres. The disproportionately large head resembles a dead leaf, complete with a dark dorsal stripe that mimics a midvein. Among snakes, Gaboon adders have the longest fangs (max. 40 mm) and highest venom yields. Bites from Gaboon adders are medical emergencies, but the species is of docile disposition and the majority of bites occur from handling of captive individuals by snake enthusiasts. Envenomation incurs mostly cytotoxic symptoms, although toxic effects to humans are not well known, and only one human death is described in the literature.

Gaboon2

Another of South Africa’s well-known venomous snakes, the Puff adder, is seen here on the left in comparison to the Gaboon adder on the right.

This extremely rare inhabitant recently had its numbers boosted by 26 following the release of neonates at three locations on the Eastern Shores of iSimangaliso. Born in captivity at the iSimangaliso St Lucia Crocodile and Education Centre, their release into the wild was in line with the release protocol suggested from a three year study (2005-2007) by registered researcher Jon Warner who recently completed his Master of Science thesis on the conservation biology of the species in South Africa.

According to Park CEO Andrew Zaloumis, “Jon’s Gaboon research was one of the 185 current registered research projects ongoing in the world heritage site. iSimangaliso encourages research in numerous fields in order to inform and improve our management strategies and contribute towards the creation of scientific knowledge. Jon’s finding points to the importance of maintaining the continuity and integrity of the entire iSimangaliso dune forest corridor for the protection and conservation of the Gaboon adder. A good example of how iSimangaliso is conserving high conservation value species through protecting their habitats.”

 

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The young Gaboon adders were collected at the iSimangaliso St Lucia Crocodile and Education Centre, seen above in a container, before being released gently into thickly forested habitat on the Eastern Shores.

Although primarily a tropical species extending into equatorial Africa, their distribution is very restricted in South Africa and it is mainly confined to iSimangaliso, highlighting the importance of the Park for the future conservation of the South African population.

Gaboon5

Researcher Jon Warner recording habitat variables and marking the exact location of the snake. The Gaboon adder, previously captured and fitted with radio-tracking device, is in the white circle.

Following the insertion of tracking devices in the belly of selected Gaboon adders, Jon was able to track and monitor their movements as part of his research.

The core area of activity averaged 6.7 hectares, with the mean male core activity centre almost five times greater than that of females. Snakes tracked (using VHF telemetry) were highly sedentary, especially during winter when individuals remained at single localities for extended periods (max. 87 days). Activity peaked for both sexes at the onset of the breeding season during March, with individuals averaging a movement distance of 598 metres.

The Gaboon adder is a terrestrial forest Adderid and its habitat preferences in iSimangaliso are strongly influenced by season, with individuals selecting open-canopied areas during cooler months. This behaviour is presumably because the forested habitat individuals utilise the rest of the year is not adequate for the species’ thermoregulatory requirements during winter. Females used slightly less shrubby microhabitats than males and “thicket” microhabitat is important for the protection, thermoregulation and food acquisition requirements of Gaboon adders in iSimangaliso.

Feeding activity of Gaboon adders varied between seasons, with individuals spending long periods of time at single localities in an ambush position, especially during summer. Snakes exhibited strong ambush site fidelity, often remaining immobile for weeks at a time. Sites where ambush behaviour was observed were frequently in close proximity (less than 1 metre) to game trails created by antelope and Gaboon adders may feed on prey as large as Red duiker (Cephalophus natalensis).

Ecological research from Jon’s study, coupled with new molecular data that shows South African and central African Gaboon adders are genetically similar, suggests the South African Gaboon adder population’s conservation status is better than what was previously assumed. However, long-term protection and management of the coastal dune forest corridor (found primarily inside iSimangaliso) is needed for a viable, local Gaboon adder population.

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St Lucia residents Charne von Plaster & Leon Steyn were cycling through the Igwalagwala Trail recently when they spotted this well-fed Gaboon lying in their pathway. Visitors walking the self-guided trails in the Igwalagwala Trail and St Lucia Nature Park areas of iSimangaliso should keep a careful eye open for these snakes as they are fond of lying in a sunny patch of path or amongst fallen leaves. Several visitors have reported spotting Gaboons, wisely choosing to leave a wide berth between themselves and the snoozing snake. A sighting should be considered a rare and special privilege, and just another example of the miracles awaiting discovery in iSimangaliso.

For more information on the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Youtube, or visit our website at www.isimangaliso.com. Media enquiries should be directed to Media Officer Siyabonga Mhlongo at siyabonga@isimangaliso.com or on 084 382 0884.

SIGN UP HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THIS NEWSFLASH

Newsflash No.: 2015.04.27

The Deepest Hole On Earth

It’s an astonishing 12km deep. That’s more than a kilometer deeper than the deepest point of the ocean.

What’s At The Bottom Of The Deepest Hole On Earth?

Remove this rusted metal cap and the world’s deepest hole tunnels miles into the Earth. However, we know more about certain distant galaxies than we do about what lies miles beneath our very own feet. For that reason, Soviet scientists in the… READ MORE…ON

http://www.IFLSCIENCE.COM

GAME RANGERS ASSOCIATION OF AFRICA’S NDUMO GAME RESERVE BIRDING WEEKEND

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GAME RANGERS ASSOCIATION OF AFRICA’S NDUMO GAME RESERVE BIRDING WEEKEND

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The Game Rangers Association of Africa invites you to join us for a long weekend of exciting birding at Ndumo Game Reserve. The Reserve is a world-renowned birding destination on the South African and Mozambique border, boasting over 400 species of birds and abundant wildlife.  This will be the tenth year that the Association has offered these tours.

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The weekend also includes vehicle tours to the Nyamithi Pan as well as opportunities to visit the bird hides and to travel around the reserve with experienced Field Guides.  The walks are planned taking into consideration the weather and the state of the Phongola Flood Plain.  These will be along the Phongola River, Shokwe Pan with its Sycamore Fig Trees, and in open woodlands will provide excellent opportunities for bird-watching with the possibility of seeing some of the Northern Zululand specials such as the Saddle-billed Storks, Retz’s Helmeted-Shrikes, Southern Banded Snake – Eagle, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike and Eastern Nicator.  There is no guarantee but there is also the possibility of seeing the more elusive African Broadbill, Pels Fishing Owl and African Finfoot.  At this time of year the migrant waders have return to South Africa and Nyamithi Pan offers good viewing of these waders.

 Dates:

  5th to 8th November 2015

12th to 15th November 2015

19th to 22rd November 2015

26th to 29th November 2015

  3rd to 6th   December 2015

 Cost: R3,500.00 per person sharing. (Single option is available for R4,500.00). The price includes accommodation, three evening meals, three brunches, tea and coffee as well as vehicle tours to Nyamithi Pan and four guided walks.

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For bookings or additional information contact:

Drummond Densham:           Tel: 033-330 4039 / 083-321 7959 & E-mail densham@sai.co.za

Or 

George Zaloumis:      Tel 033-330 6532 / 082-430 5290 & E-mail gaz@futurenet.co.za

This is a fundraising project of the GAME RANGERS ASSOCIATION OF AFRICA.

For information about the Game Rangers Association of Africa please visit www.gameranger.org.

The Game Rangers Association of Africa gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife with these fund-raising projects.

Gate entry fees – Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and iSimangaliso Wetland Park

KOSI BAY, COASTAL FOREST, LAKE SIBAYA, SODWANA BAY, UMKHUZE, FALSE BAY, CHARTERS CREEK, LAKE ST LUCIA, CAPE VIDAL, MAPHELANE

Notification of Gate Tariff Increase

Effective 01 November 2014

Date: 20 April 2015

Gate Adult Children Levy per Person Vehicles 1 – 5 Vehicles 6 – 12 Vehicles 13 – 20 Vehicles 21+ Overnight Stay
Eastern Shores (Bhangazi Gate)  

R37.00

 

R27.00

 

R5.00

 

R47.00

 

R70.00

 

R93.00

 

R160.00

 

 

R5.00 per person per night 

uMkuze (Ophansi and eMshopi Gates)  

 

R37.00

 

 

R27.00

 

R5.00

 

 

R47.00

 

 

R70.00

 

 

R93.00

 

 

R160.00

Western Shores (Dukuduku & Nhlozi Gates)  

 

R37.00

 

 

R27.00

 

R5.00

 

 

R47.00

 

 

R70.00

 

 

R93.00

 

 

R160.00

 

Sodwana Bay

 

R33.00

 

R27.00

R5.00  

R47.00

 

R70.00

 

R93.00

 

R160.00

 

Maphelane

 

 

R35.00

 

R20.00

 

R5.00

 

 

 

 

 

False Bay

 

 

R32.00

 

R20.00

 

R5.00

 

 

 

 

 

Coastal Forest

 

R22.00

 

R12.00

 

R5.00

 

R20.00

 

R20.00

 

R20.00

 

R20.00

 

Kosi Bay

 

 

R22.00

 

R12.00

 

R5.00

 

R20.00

 

R20.00

 

R20.00

 

R20.00

iSimangaliso Half-Marathon 10 May 2015

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Flora & Fauna Publications Trust

 

 

 

 

 

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Flora & Fauna Publications Trust Publications

This Trust is a PBO (Public Benefit Organisation) and promotes, through literature, the conservation of our indigenous flora and fauna. The income from books sold is used to make further literature available at affordable prices, so by purchasing any of these publications you will be aiding conservation.

Flora & Fauna Publications Trust: For further information and prices visit the website www.floratrust.co.za <http://www.gnetmail.co.za/members/link.php?M=29147&N=12606&L=10062&F=H>  and click on Books. Buying direct from the Trust means lower prices than at shops. All the books make excellent birthday and Christmas gifts.

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Part of a large buffalo herd, heading towards the river

Part of a large buffalo herd, heading towards the river

 

 

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