Environment: Elephant Culling and Crisis in The Mara

In this issue of Global Voices environment, we check in with various blogs around the world. The themes are varied, and some are of global concern with commentary from Kenya about elephant culling in South Africa, commentary from Europe on “Eco-colonialism” in Botswana, Brazil, DRC, Patagonia and other countries.

Image courtesy of Wildlife Direct

Lets begin with South Africa (SA), where Elephant culling may soon return as a way to control the population of elephants in National parks. This was a banned practice, and it is still banned in other countries like Kenya. Richard Leakey of Wildlife Direct explains his position on the question

Is culling imminent for South African elephants?

Reducing elephant populations may therefore, be a necessary part of population management, and this will be done in a humane and considered manner. South Africa intends to reserve culling as a last resort after all other options such as translocations, fertility control have been exhausted. Though I find elephant culling repugnant, I can see the sense in it in some scenarios, as I imagine many others do also

He adds his recommendations to SA conservationists based on his vast experience working with wildlife in Kenya.

If culling is deemed necessary, then I would personally like to see the management authority ensure that entire families or bond groups are removed intact to eliminate or minimize the emotional trauma to remaining individuals, and secondly, to maintain smaller populations using the tested and approved fertility control. It means that the authorities have much work to do in terms of studying the family and bond groups and maintaining good records. If done well, removing or culling entire bond groups would reduce cases of rogue elephants and could eliminate or reduce the frequency of further culling in the future.

While we are still in South Africa, we get a March Update with pictures from the Cobhouse. The house is unique because it is constructed using sustainable timber, straw and clay.

Rory Williams of Carbon Copy considers the question of transportation and carbon emissions in the post “getting old clunkers off the road”.

There are three key challenges to reducing the carbon impact of transportation. One is reducing the need for motorised travel (by, for example, restructuring cities so that jobs and homes are closer, or encouraging telecommuting), another is encouraging a switch to public transport (or alternatives like ridesharing) where nonmotorised transport isn't an option, and the third is bringing to market more environmentally benign vehicles.

Andreas posts on a helpful map that can help South Africans answer the question

“Do you know if there are any trial fields for genetically modified crops near where you live?”

On Indonesia's challenge dealing with the aftermath of the devastation wrought by the tsunami, the Changing Climate blog looks at initiatives for protecting future generations.

“The casualties from the tsunami showed the vulnerability of children to disasters in the area, and the multistakeholder Committee is dedicated to identifying and addressing threats to the young ones. While these committees were formed as a response to the tsunami, the groups have now widened their scope to work for the protection of children. The villagers have enhanced the role in children in community in the post-tsunami rehabilitation, and have raised awareness that protect children against any other threat, including drought, floods, famine, or even issues related to children rights.”

John vidal writes on China Dialogue, about the The great green land grab

From Britain to Botswana, the Philippines to Patagonia, individuals and organisations are buying up vast areas of land in the name of protecting environments. But is private ownership the way to save them?

Richard Leakey posts on the recent post election crisis in Kenya, (covered by Global Voices on this special page) and its effects on the conservation efforts in the Trans Mara region.
Crisis looming in the Mara – please help:

Sadly my beloved country Kenya has been in the news a great deal in the past few weeks, and the news has not been good. We have problems and these were triggered by the outcome of the Presidential election where the result was close, and where there is plenty of evidence for rigging. The dispute led to violence which has deteriorated into inter-ethnic fighting in certain parts of the country. Tragic scenes and news fill the media and a sense of doom, gloom and fear is palpable. The violence is not directed against foreigners or tourists in any way and much of Kenya is untouched by it. The main airports are functioning normally and the National Parks, the Game Reserves and the wildlife sanctuaries are perfectly safe from this fighting.

The sense of normality in the wildlife areas is unfortunately deluding. Foreign tourists and the tourism industry has all but collapsed. Many, many people are losing their jobs and critical funding for the protection of the wildlife areas has essentially dried up. Revenue from tourism has been providing the bulk of the funding for conservation, and without these funds, patrols and essential activities will cease. In these circumstances we can expect a real upsurge in poaching; for bush meat and commercially valuable species such as rhino and elephant.

From Kenya's neighboring country Uganda, Moses Paul Sserwanga writes: MR PRESIDENT, STOP THE MABIRA GAMES:

President Yoweri Museveni is at it again; this time around reminding the country that the controversial proposal to give away Mabira forest which led to the death of three people about six months ago, is not yet resolved after all.

His remarks while meeting the NRM Parliamentary Caucus last week in effect mean that government could still go ahead a give away part of the tropical rain forest to a private investor, the Lugazi-based Mehta Group, in total disregard of public opinion.

He adds…

The negative effects that await the country once Mabira is given away, can also be prescient too. Over the years, there has been too much destruction of our forest cover and the ramifications for this obliteration have been clear for all to see including the unprecedented severe weather conditions experienced in the country this year.
The unpredictability in climatic conditions that threaten the survival of mankind, have led to the development of a basic international environmental precautionary law principle to protect and conserve nature for the benefit of present and future generations.

Is it still disinformation if the speaker believes it's true? On the Gristmill blog, Joseph Romm debunks US President Bush's statement

“… we're in the lead when it comes to global climate change.”

meanwhile a continent away, Phil of KE Environment News posted some statistics; Global Warming by the Numbers

“Global warming is the most serious environmental threat of our time. As these facts show, affordable options are available. And America cannot afford to fall behind any more in the race to invent clean, renewable energy sources.”

Not to leave you on a sad note, but from Basawad's Safari notes Omar is saddened by a report of Sea Turtles dying in Kenya.


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