Wise words from EWT’s CEO

I received the latest EWT (Endangered Wildlife Trust) newsletter this morning, and the introduction written by CEO Yolan Friedmann really struck a cord with me. So much so that I feel the need to share it with you… (hopefully both Yolan and the EWT are cool with that!)

“Numbers. Mathematical objects used to count, label and measure. Loved by politicians, journalists and teachers, adored by accountants and biologists. Depending on the context, these configurations of symbols have the power to shock us, thrill us or catalyse intense debate about not only the system of tallying which was applied, but the implication of such numbers for the object of its measure. Let me demonstrate: 38 – the number of Blue Swallow pairs left in South Africa. 600 – the number of rhino South Africa will probably lose to poachers during 2012. 48 (or so) days until Christmas and then another 7 until the end of 2012! But the scariest of them all is that there are now over 51.8 million people living in South Africa! That’s a worrying 13% increase in just 10 years! Globally, the human population crossed the 7 billion mark in March 2011. By far the most successful species to ever have existed, human beings seem to multiply despite the stresses of famine, disease, pollution, natural disasters, perpetual conflict and warfare and simply put, our increasingly unsustainable modern way of life, stresses that would probably have wiped out most other species!

So I am going to say it. It is probably no coincidence that the trends within the numbers of so many species are changing disproportionately to the trends within the numbers of humans. There are, simply put, too many humans. Yes, I have had endless debates and hours of discussion with various parties who argue that qualitative measures are more important than quantitative. So it is not about the number of humans per se, but more about the footprint of each human being, the quantity of resources we consume, destroy or just ruin, for others. The social scientists will argue that we need to reduce our impact and not our numbers; numbers alone don’t tell the story. The latter comment is of course true, but let’s consider this: we don’t always employ the ‘qualitative’ argument when we turn the discourse to other species. Numbers alone tell us that we will very possibly lose the last Blue Swallow or East Indian Ocean Dugong, the last of a range of cycads and even the last Wild Dog in South Africa in the next few years unless some drastic action is taken. Numbers alone tell us that the markets in the east for the resources in the south are simply too big to ensure sustainability. Numbers alone send shivers down our spine when the rhino poaching stats are revealed every year.

Yet numbers of humans is a taboo subject in most civilized circles. So let’s qualify the human population issue then. Person number 7 billion, when he or she was born last year, stood a 1 in 7 chance of going to bed hungry for most of his or her life. Over 18 000 people will die of hunger and over 3 000 will die from water related diseases – just today. Around 7 million children will die before they reach their 5th birthday this year. Not much quality for many, many people it seems. And the majority of the people that are counted into the stats above, come from the most populous countries with the highest population growth. Coming back home, 51.8 million folk is a lot of people to house, feed, educate and provide with work. It’s a lot of folk competing with Blue Swallows and Wild Dogs for land and food. Bottom line: Quality versus quantity aside, there are just too many people on planet earth, and if you ask me, this is the greatest and possibly most pressing challenge that the conservation community, AND the social scientists, politicians and in fact every one of us has to admit to, and address if we are ever to comprehend the notion of sustainability, for the sake of not only our wildlife but the future generations of humans too.”

Visit the EWT’s website for more information about the important work they do: https://www.ewt.org.za/

Back from the bush

Last week I was away in the bush recharging my batteries. We stayed in a private concession in the South-eastern part of Kruger, where it was quiet and off the beaten track. Total bliss – though incredibly hot!

We were blessed to see not only the entire Big 5 in one trip, but even saw cheetah to make it the Big 6! I’ve been travelling to nature reserves around Southern Arica my whole life and have not seen cheetah in the wild so it was a real treat – and of course, seeing Leopard is always amazing! Once I’ve sorted through all the hundreds of photos I took, I’ll post up a few.

We saw lots of rhino too, which these days is bitter-sweet for me, knowing how they are under such unnecessary threat. We did see a lot of the SA Army in the park, which made me feel a little better about the whole issue.

Other treats included seeing baby elephants, African wild cat, hyena and a Saddle-billed stork feeding two juveniles. 

It’s so wonderful being out there in the quietness of nature – I’m now refreshed and ready to take on the world! Let’s go!

Rhinos by numbers

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, Rhino poaching in SA is at an all-time high. Final numbers of rhino’s lost last year in SA alone was 333 – almost 1 per day.

Check out this interesting infographic done by Earth-Touch which highlights the plight of our Rhinos, based on the numbers from last year.


I’d love to think that things are getting better this year, what with all our Parks and even our Military getting in on the anti-poaching action, but unfortunately this year isn’t looking much better, and it doesn’t help that poachers that are being caught are getting off with lenient sentences.

If you hear of any activity regarding rhino horn please please please report it here or call the Rhino Poaching Hotline: 082 404 2128!

Ad campaign for “Save the Rhino”

Check out these new adverts for Save the Rhino done by local agency, Stick.
Clever message supported with great visuals. I hope it helps raise the much needed awareness about the plight of our Rhinos.

Find out about the organisation here, follow them on twitter or join their cause on Facebook.

via Between 10 and 5

Update 25 Jan:
And there is a TV commercial too.. check it out… 

via Bizcommunity

Rhino’s under threat


It’s possible that you might have missed the recent news articles about the massive increase in Rhino poaching across South Africa, so I’d like to enlighten you to this tragic turn of events happening right now.

As I type tonight, 127 rhinos have been killed in reserves and parks across the country JUST THIS YEAR. That’s 6 and a half months. That averages out at about 2 a week. Stop and ponder that number for a bit.

I’m unsure why there has been such a sudden increase in poaching over the past few years, but it’s there, it’s getting worse and we’re loosing these mostly tranquil animals in the most tragic ways. The poachers are not your opportunistic local guys – they are now heavily armed, swoop in to reserves in helicopters, dart the animals with veterinary drugs and hack off their horns before killing them (if they’re lucky… a few attempt survival with half their faces hacked off.) There are big syndicates backing the trade, and lots of money behind it all (try a final price of R7.4m per horn!!).

The tragic thing is that the horns have been medically proven to be as effective as muching on your own fingernails. The core buyers however – the Vietnamese and Chinese – seen unwavering in their need for the horn for their local medicines regardless of this fact.

Luckily there are some dedicated people trying their hardest with the minimal funds they have to try to protect our Rhinos. They’re practically fighting a war, and I commend them for that. I ask that you help them out by supporting their cause and by spreading awareness of this problem plus the fact that Rhino horn is not all it’s cracked up to be. Here’s how you can do it:

Visit these websites to visit to find out more and to donate funds to:

Sign an online petition:

Send an sms:

  • SMS “SAVE” to 31913 to donate R10 to the EWT‘s Rhino Security Project
  • SMS “Rhino” to 40706 to donate R20 to WESSA’s Rhino Initiative

Donate funds to:

I don’t know about you, but it will be a sad day for me when I am not able to be delighted by the sight of Rhino while on safari.

Pic taken by me last July at the Pilanesberg National Park.