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Wildlife & Conservation Archives

Encyclopedia of Endangered Animals

A page from the Encyclopedia of Endangered Animals highlighting the plight of the African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus)

As part of their effort to help the environment, Konica Minolta have launched a website for children to inform them about endangered animal species.

The site is presented in the form of an Illustrated Encyclopedia of Endangered Animals and provides a comprehensive list of endangered species, together with illustrations, maps, and easy-to-follow facts and information about each endangered animal.

A quick browse through the site suggests it will be extremely useful for both parents and teachers who’d like to keep youngsters informed about threats to our dwindling animal populations and the danger of extinction of animal species due to environmental destruction.

See Illustrated Encyclopedia of Endangered Animals for more.

Help Save Africa’s Rhinos

White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum)

White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum) ... 210 rhino have already been illegally slaughtered in South Africa this year.

Africa is experiencing a ferocious resurgence in rhino poaching, caused by growing demand for rhino horn from Asia. South Africa, the stronghold of Africa’s rhino population with more than 80% of the 24 000 rhinos left in Africa, has been losing more than 20 rhinos a month.

This year, poachers have already killed 210 rhinos in South Africa, compared to 122 rhinos poached in 2009.

If the trend continues, rhino conservation gains of the past decade will be wiped out.

WWF has organised a worldwide Rhino Month campaign in support of the rhino warriors on the frontline in the fight against poaching. These intrepid men and women have to face well-armed and often military-trained poachers in their bid to protect the animals.

You can help them by helping WWF provide the support, equipment and training they need to keep themselves and our rhinos safe. Donations to WWF’s Rhino Month fund can be made at wwf.org.za.

Money raised will be used directly to buy anti-poaching patrol equipment (such as binoculars, body armor, radios) and to provide essential training for anti-poaching patrols. It will also be used for emergency veterinary treatments for injured rhino and to improve monitoring of rhino populations.

In South Africa, Rhino Month culminates in Rhino Day on Wednesday 22 September 2010. At 1pm on Rhino Day, people around the world are being asked to dust off their vuvuzelas and make some noise in a symbolic call for effective international action against rhino poaching.

“We’re using one African horn to call for help for another. It doesn’t have to be a vuvuzela … you can also blow didgeridoos or alpine horns or toot your car hooters or anything else that makes a big noise in support of rhinos,” says WWF .

The illegal trade in rhino horn is run by sophisticated international criminal organisations that use modern technology, including unmarked helicopters, to locate and kill suitable “targets”. This is too big for single governments or NGOs to deal with.

“We must all help to protect the iconic African rhino”, is the urgent plea from WWF.

So what can YOU do?

* Make a noise for rhinos at 1pm on Rhino Day, Wednesday 22 September 2010.
* Spread the word. Tell your friends and families to support Rhino Day.
* Challenge others to take part.
* Raise money and make a donation to help save Africa’s rhinos.
* Send pictures of your Rhino Day and Rhino Month activities to rhino@wwf.org.za.
* Ask friends from Asia to spread the word about how buying rhino horn is illegal and poaching for rhino horn is hurting a precious African resource and icon.

For more information visit www.wwf.org.za.

Africa’s Most Dangerous Animals

Safari guide Roddy Smith, when taking guests for a bush walk in “Big Five” country, says he’s often asked “What would you do if ….?” His usual answer: “Panic!”
Dangerous leopard partially obscured by vegetation

Dangerous male lion in long grass
Roddy says guests think he’s joking, but adds that it’s a reasonable question.

After all, the term Big Five was originally coined by hunters to refer to the five African game species most likely to kill you if you messed up.

Two of the big five – lion and leopard – are shown here as one would not want to encounter them when out on a bush walk.

The others are the African elephant, African buffalo, and black rhino, although nowdays the less agressive but bigger white rhino is also regarded as one of the Big Five.

Roddy goes on to say that there’s no definitive answer to the “what if..” question because every situation is different, but there are a few basic principles to observe when faced by dangerous animals.

See his full article, Africa’s Dangerous Animals … What If? for more – and to find out which of Africa’s animals he fears most.

Africa Road Trip

Africa Road Trip waiting for ferry at Kazangula

Waiting in line to board the Kazangula ferry for the crossing from Botswana to Zambia

On Monday 14 June I leave with four companions to travel by road from South Africa to Tanzania in East Africa.

The main objective of the trip is to see the great wildebeest migration in the Serengeti area of Tanzania, and also to experience the vast open plains with their abundance of wildlife that are such a renowned feature of East Africa.

To reach our destination, we will travel through Botswana and Zambia, staying overnight at campsites along the way. Our party is not in the luxury lodge league, so we’ll be roughing it most the time, keeping to a tight budget, particularly as entry to national parks in Tanzania is expensive, payable only in US dollars.

In addition to Serengeti National Park, we plan to visit Ruaha National Park and possibly also Tangarire and Lake Manyara Parks in Tanzania, plus South Luanga in Zambia, depending on the time available.

The trip will take from four to five weeks, during which time we’ll have no or limited internet access, so it’s unlikely I’ll be able to add any posts to the blog before I get back.

Elephant Reflections: the book

Elephant Reflections book cover
Elephant Reflections (right) is a recently published book from the University of California Press by Karl Ammann (photographs) and Dale Peterson (text).

Although the book is physically quite large and features more than 100 of Ammann’s photographs, it’s certainly not a coffee table book in the traditional sense and is meant to be read. And that’s what I’m doing now – reading Peterson’s compelling account of the elephant’s natural history and the recent field studies undertaken by intrepid researchers, working mainly in Kenya.

It’s quite amazing that as recently as the late 1970s so little was known about the African elephant that researchers initially believed the condition of heightened sexual activity in male elephants we know as “musth” was a form of sexually-transmitted disease they termed “GPD” or Green Penis Disease.

Once I’ve finished reading Elephant Reflections, I hope to add a comprehensive review, including more about the elephant images which form such a substantial part of the book.

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