Some of the places we suggest are so hidden in nature, you will find it difficult to get in touch with them for a booking request. Some of the most beautiful lodges are far beyond civilization in order to be right in the heart of the natural environment of this unique wildlife. This means however, their only contact to the outside world is radio.
www.bushdrums.com has the necessary contacts to arrange bookings for you in such a case. You will find a link at the bottom of the article called “Book online” that takes you to a form to fill in. The moment we receive your enquiry, we will let the bush drums speak and arrange your accommodation for you.
Please understand, that we offer this service only for places that cannot take bookings from the internet themselves as we do not wish to appear as competition or a travel agency, but purely as an information portal. If you do not see a link for online bookings, you will see a link to a website or an e-mail address you can send your enquiry to.]]>
Six new animal species, including this frog, were found in the forest An expedition to a remote forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo has uncovered six new animal species.
Conservationists discovered one new bat species, a new rat and two new species each of shrews and frogs.
The region, which is in eastern DR Congo, near Lake Tanganyika, has been off limits to researchers since 1960 because of instability in the area.
The survey, led by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), was carried out between January and March 2007.
It covered one square kilometre of forest.
WCS researcher Dr Andrew Plumptre said: "If we can find six new species in such a short period it makes you wonder what else is out there.
"The block of forest has probably been isolated from the rest of the Congo forest block for about 10,000 years."
Of the two new amphibian species discovered, one, a small bright green frog, is in the Hyperolius genus, the other, a 1-2cm-long black frog may belong to a completely new genus.
The conservationists believe they might also have found several new plant species in the forested region, which includes the Misotshi-Kabogo Forest.
The scientists found one new bat species
The expedition's botanists were unable to identify about 10% of the new plant samples they collected. The specimens will now be examined by specialists to confirm if they represent new species.
The team added that the area was extremely rich in biodiversity, despite the years of conflict that have plagued the region.
The forest had been used as a base for rebel activity since 1960, Dr Plumptre told the BBC News website.
The survey found that many species of birds, reptile and amphibians were living in the forest.
It also revealed larger mammals including chimpanzees, bongos (a type of antelope), buffalo, elephants, leopards and several species of monkey were present, although at lower numbers than expected, possibly because of poaching.
The researchers believe the forest contains such rich animal life because of its isolated nature and few inhabitants.
WCS said there was now a real need to protect the area.
Dr James Deutsch, director of the wildlife organisation's Africa Program, said: "The survey has found that the Misotshi-Kabogo region is biologically important enough to conserve in the form of a protected area.
"Since few people live there, it would be relatively easy to create a park while supporting the livelihoods of people who live in the landscape."]]>
The Kenyans are also moving ahead.
Oops – I should rather have said side- and backwards.
A “Draft National Land Use Policy” which virtually nobody had heard of; which proposes to abolish freehold tenure in favor of 99 year leasehold; which tries to marry African customary law with modern British law; which demands that land can be sold only with the approval of family members, etc. came to light. A Central Land Board made up of politically appointees with judicial powers superior to the country's legal system is slated to have control over all land issues, and would be able to levy taxes.
There are three significant shortcomings in this policy. First, a profound ignorance of the history of land issues in Kenya, of the policies towards to these issues adopted by successive Kenyan governments, and of the workings of current land law. Second, by concentrating almost exclusively on minority issues (important though they are) at the expense of the majority it will create greater injustices than those it seeks to redress. Third, by undermining one of the pillars of the Kenyan economy – security of private tenure and the unencumbered transfer of property rights -- it will hinder the creation and accumulation of wealth by Kenyan citizens, thus exacerbating and perpetuating poverty. Finally, implicit in the Draft Land Policy is the prerequisite for deep and radical amendments to the Constitution – a process already soundly rejected by the citizenry of Kenya (Mike Norton-Griffiths, 2007 – see also http://www.mng5.com/others.htm).
Kenya’s population largely abandoned communal tenure in favor of private tenure and freehold within an enlightened land tenure system. Private title deeds facilitated the access to capital, due to the unencumbered transfer of such rights. Kenyans and similarly South Africans and Namibian are light years ahead of the rest of the continent with this proven system. Mugabe’s disastrous experiment in Zimbabwe certainly does not invite any imitators, yet the proposed Kenyan land policy will dispossess millions of land owners and in its wake, will create, accentuate and perpetuate both rural and urban poverty.
It transpires that it is an NGO called ActionAid founded 1972 in the UK and now one of the UK's largest development agencies with its international secretariat based in South Africa, who invented this neo-Marxist document. ActionAid’s primary motivation seem to be issues of minority land rights and a wish to redress real or perceived injustices dating from the colonial era, yet the new policy launches an outright assault on private property rights, on the security of such property rights and on the free and unencumbered transfer of such property rights, without offering any sensible alternatives. The European Parliament should have a look at ActionAid’s activities and how the UK government is being dragged into these schemes.
I suggest that this issue is also of importance for the preparations of the CITES Conference of Parties (CoP 14) in The Hague later this year. Kenya's published proposals for CoP 14 show an expansion of the unholy alliance between IFAW and ActionAid towards wildlife policies not only in Kenya but across Africa. The alliance obviously held the Kenyan hand which drafted yet another set of ill-conceived proposals. ActionAid's interest in wildlife and the clandestine cooperation with and funding of IFAW has gone a long way: Their combined message: “don't go near utilization – it is a plot by wicked colonialists” is accompanied by some staffers’ private statements that they have the Minister in their pocket, as well as the Vice President and the President!
What a surprise that an obviously IFAW-leaning writer of the Kenyan paper The Nation decries on February 20th in several articles that USAID partly financed a draft policy that asks the Kenyan Government to allow sensible and regulated sustainable extractive use of wildlife! John Mbaria of The Nation applies two yardsticks at his convenience, when evaluating policy proposals – wherever it serves IFAW’s ill-conceived objectives, foreign funding is welcome, but on the matter of USAID involvement it’s considered foreign meddling! IFAW’s vociferous opposition to the proposed granting of user rights to land owners and communities living in wildlife areas; the refusal to empower them to participate in decision-making processes and to allow them to benefit from the use of wildlife resources is obviously not considered foreign meddling by Mbaria. There is anyhow a logic flaw here – in the land policy document expansion of minority rights are sought, whereas the wildlife policy objective of IFAW provides just the contrary.
It is rather strange that Mr Mbaria labels the consultative process regarding the formulation of a new Kenyan wildlife policy “Behind-the-Scenes Foreign Efforts to Change Policies” yet he conveniently forgets the four decades of constant meddling of American and European IFAW staff in alliance with the likes of the UK-based Born Free Foundation and the US-based Humane Society (HSUS). He also forgets to mention the disastrous losses which Kenya’s biodiversity had to suffer during the all-permeating influence of international animal rights organizations during the past thirty years and the dismal record of incompetence of the Kenyan Wildlife Service under IFAW guidance. He further forgets to mention the condescending attitude of the animal rightists, who corrupted untold numbers of Kenyans with easy handouts and money.
It is quite ridiculous, when another editorial of The Nation by an unknown author, published on February 26th, claims that wildlife numbers in Kenya increased since the ban on sport hunting in the late seventies. Empirical evidence shows that quite the contrary is true! The review of wildlife policy though a process of national workshops and regional seminars, and visits by the National Steering Committee to neighboring and southern African countries, was actually motivated by the loss of some 70% of all wildlife in Kenya over the last three decades – an unprecedented feat achieved nowhere else in Africa except perhaps in countries ravaged by civil strife.
Dr Stephanie S. Romañach wrote in the last issue of African Indaba (Vol. 5, No. 1) that Richard Leakey, former Director of Kenya’s wildlife regulatory agency commented on the unsustainable illegal bushmeat trade during one of the hearings, stressing that hunting in some form has never stopped in Kenya despite the ban and is widespread and out of control. Leakey further said “that decision makers should consider a policy to regulate hunting, make hunting sustainable, and to allow people to derive value from wildlife”.
Some Kenyans fear that trophy hunting will provide an opportunity for a foreign industry to exploit local resources. The Nation’s journalists constantly pour oil into this fire. Yet they fail to mention that it is Kenya’s much-lauded photographic tourism industry which suffers badly from leakage of revenues to overseas accounts and from the absence of devolving adequate benefits to communities. John Mbaria does not seem to have either an economist’s nor a conservationist’s knowledge, since he upholds that “non-consumptive tourism” is the proverbial golden goose. He omits to address the unsustainability in photo-tourism – even for the casual observer it is obvious that the hordes of tourists in their zebra-striped minibuses operating from ever-expanding lodges are extremely consumptive of Kenya’s most picturesque biodiversity hotspots and are negatively impacting on the behaviour of all animals as well as on their habitats. Mr Mbaria, don’t you know that most of the Kenyan lands suitable for wildlife (around 95%) are never visited by your much lauded photo tourists? The consequence is obvious – if the current restrictions on income generating opportunities from wildlife are not lifted – whatever is left of wildlife there will disappear. Will IFAW still be around to take the blame? Or will they have shifted their attention and funds elsewhere?
It will be a conservation disaster if the IFAW people and their Mbaria-minded helpers are successful in subverting the entire Wildlife Policy Review Process with their rent-a-mob crowds and misleading briefings to the President. Dr. Mike Norton-Griffiths wrote on his website http://www.mng5.com/: “I return here to the essentially economic basis for the catastrophic loss of wildlife in Kenya, and to IFAW’s role in trying to prevent one of the few remedial actions that has a chance to redress the situation, namely to reintroduce consumptive utilization. IFAW has every right to its opinions, but they should not use their financial muscle to subvert the representative democratic process in Kenya and usurp the powers of the elected Parliamentarians. Furthermore, IFAW’s only objective is to stop consumptive use: they offer no alternatives and clearly do not mind if all wildlife outside the protected areas is consequently lost from Kenya.”
Mr James Isiche, the regional director of International Fund for Animal Welfare in East Africa focuses on his dislike of sport-hunting in an article published in The East African Standard on December 12th last year as a reply to an editorial opinion by former EAWLS leader Dr. Imre Loefler (see Vol. 5, No 1, Page 12 for Dr. Loefler’s article). Isiche follows a well used IFAW-pattern: Focus on consumptive use, rail against hunting with half-truths and distortions and use statistics like Sir Winston Churchill in order to incite emotions where rational analysis should prevail.
Dr Loefler replied Isiche in January saying “Sport hunting is a side issue. Isiche tries to portray me as an arch advocate of hunting. I am not. I am not a hunter I am [even] apprehensive about sport hunting for a number of reasons among them my dislike for killing for pleasure and the knowledge that sport hunting is open to multifarious abuses. Notwithstanding my reservations, in line of my responsibilities in the conservation arena, I have undertaken to learn about sport hunting as much as I could. I have accompanied hunters, I studied the hunting arrangements in several countries and I familiarized myself with the thinking of hunter and anti-hunter. Anti-hunters believe that individualized, platonic ethics apply to animals as well as to humans and hence the killing of animals is unethical. The anti-hunting front is not monolithic, however, and not all anti-hunters are vegetarians, yet their thinking, at least with regard to wildlife is strongly anthropomorphic. In contradistinction to platonic ethics, utilitarian ethics seeks the maximum benefit for the maximum number, be it people, or, indeed as in this case, species.”
And Dr Loefler concluded his reply with these remarks: “Sport hunting, properly organized and regulated and free of corruption can create wealth in rural areas but in order to do so, a number of conditions need to be met and they are not easy to meet. In utilitarian terms sport hunting can benefit people and wildlife but not just everywhere. The debate on sport hunting should not be allowed to derail the wildlife policy review. Discrediting the rational discussion about the wise use of wildlife and discrediting the proponents of wildlife husbandry is a tactic animal welfarist and animal rightists often apply, one fine example being Isiche's essay.
Yes, there is a paradox in the notion that the saving of species may depend on the killing of individuals. A paradox, by definition, is an apparent contradiction, not a true one. Those who may have difficulty in comprehending the paradox may consider the status of the humble goat. Goats are everywhere. They are bred, attended to, traded and cherished because they have a value. If goats were declared wildlife, under the present policy they could not be owned, killed, eaten and their skin would be worthless too. The bush meat trade would quickly decimate goats and within a few years we would have to establish goat sanctuaries to save the species.”
Mbaria deplores that many African countries, Kenya included, do not have the capacity to adequately monitor the activities of extractive use. Shortcomings in this respect need and are being addressed. But, Mr Mbaria, do the Kenyans have the capacity exercise control over IFAW? I suggest that IFAW’s destructive actions at the time of the GG Kariuki Bill find continuation now: IFAW funds legions of so-called stakeholders – mostly urban, many non-Kenyan – and skillfully manipulates Kenyan and global media to block any rational new Kenya wildlife policy.
Move aside IFAW – move ahead Kenya. Today’s rational conservationists look at a triple-bottom-line of social, economic and ecologic results. Kenya and its wildlife deserve a fresh start!
Gerhard R Damm
Trophy hunting can play an essential role in the conservation of African wildlife, according to a growing number of biologists.
Now some experts are calling for a program to regulate Africa's sport-hunting industry to ensure its conservation benefits.
According to a recent study, in the 23 African countries that allow sport hunting, 18,500 tourists pay over $200 million (U.S.) a year to hunt lions, leopards, elephants, warthogs, water buffalo, impala, and rhinos.
Private hunting operations in these countries control more than 540,000 square miles (1.4 million square kilometers) of land, the study also found. <b>That's 22 percent more land than is protected by national parks.</b>
As demand for land increases with swelling human populations, <b>some conservationists are arguing that they can garner more effective results by working with hunters </b> and taking a hand in regulating the industry.
Sport hunting can be sustainable if carefully managed, said Peter Lindsey, a conservation biologist with the University of Zimbabwe in Harare, who led the recent study.
"Trophy hunting is of key importance to conservation in Africa by creating [financial] incentives to promote and retain wildlife as a land use over vast areas," he said.
In an upcoming edition of the journal Conservation Biology Lindsey and an international team of colleagues call for a plan to increase the conservation benefits of sport hunting, including a certification program to more tightly regulate the industry.
"To justify the continued existence of [protected] areas in the context of increasing demand for land, wildlife has to pay for itself and contribute to the economy, and hunting provides an important means of achieving this," Lindsey said.
Hunting's Checkered Past
In order to be certified under Lindsey's proposed plan, hunting operations would have to prove their commitment to animal welfare, careful management of hunting quotas, wide-ranging conservation objectives, and the development of local communities.
"The time has come for greater scrutiny from scientists to promote maximum conservation benefits from hunting," Lindsey said.
There should also be a greater effort from the hunting industry to self-regulate and ensure that unscrupulous elements are weeded out."
Trophy hunting has a bad reputation in the developed world, due in part to indiscriminate hunting by early European settlers, Lindsey observed.
Reckless hunting resulted in the extinction of species such as the quagga (a cousin of the zebra) and led to the massive decline of others, including the elephant and black rhinoceros.
But hunting has also been credited with facilitating the recovery of species, Lindsey's team argues in its paper.
The southern white rhinoceros grew from just 50 animals a century ago to over 11,000 wild individuals today, because hunts gave game ranchers a financial incentive to reintroduce the animal, the authors write.
Trophy hunting has also driven the reintroduction of cape mountain zebra and black wildebeest in South Africa, Lindsey said.
Hunters typically take just 2 to 5 percent of males annually from hunted animal populations, he added, which has a negligible effect on the populations' reproductive health.
Many animal rights groups remain fundamentally opposed to killing animals for sport.
"The idea of trophy hunting as a conservation method is an extremely tricky and contentious issue that generates disparate views from people all of whom claim to want the best for animals," said Marc Bekoff a behavioral ecologist at the University of Colorado in Boulder and author of The Emotional Lives of Animals.
Bekoff said that while the certification program is a good idea, he has difficulty believing it could work well in practice, because the bureaucracies involved in such regulation would be complex.
"It's hard to believe that the situation has reached the point where killing is the best way to conserve," he said. "There have to be more humane alternatives."
Most areas have received decent showers in the last few days and the Migration is on the move again.
Currently the herds are spread out with large numbers still in the Mara. There have been crossings almost on a daily basis. Many wildebeest can still be seen on the Bila Shaka, Musiara, Topi and Paradise plains.
As wildebeest movements have slowed down for the short time they are here, small circular herds with dominant males can be seen.]]>
I post the article below for two reasons. First this gentleman needs to be congratulated for the work he does. Secondly because of my shock in learning of 700 elephant carcasses in 3 years in one area of the country. This is shocking to me.
Coastweek - - Onesmas Kahindi is a dedicated conservationist who has successfully engaged communities in the Samburu-Laikipia area of Kenya to gain valuable insight to elephant poaching in the region.
Since 2002 Mr. Kahindi has driven over 235,000 kilometers for fieldwork alone and his (Disney funded) vehicle is now a popular visitor to these remote communities.
The Save the Elephants (STE) organization started a program called MIKE (Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants) to gather data on elephant mortality as an early warning system for changes in poaching intensities as well as a method to record changes in elephant population dynamics.
The Samburu-Laikipia site is unique in that it is comprised of a complex network of national reserves, trust lands occupied by nomadic pastoralists, private ranches, group ranches, community conservancies, small-holder agricultural farms and settlement schemes.
As Program Officer for MIKE and an Honorary Game Warden for the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kahindi is personally responsible for visiting each of these stakeholders to collect data on every dead elephant that is found.
He has worked incredibly to build a co-operative information network, building trust and respect from local people initially hesitant to cooperate.
It took considerable perseverance and communication to emphasize to the communities that no retribution was involved in divulging the location of the carcasses.
With dedication like his, Mr. Kahindi has helped the MIKE program to compile over 700 carcass reports between January 2002 and December 2005, with 60 percent of the reports coming from local people.
This conservation hero now working to train additional MIKE scouts to expand the information network he has worked so tirelessly to create, in hopes that increased communication will prove a benefit to elephant conservation.
You can have a look at the cheetahs in the photo gallery.]]>
Colobus Monkey - Photo kindly provided by the Colobus Trust
Two types of black and white colobus monkeys are found in Kenya those that inhabit coastal forests and those in inland high-country areas. Red colobus monkeys are also found in East Africa, but are quite rare. Two other types of colubus monkeys in Africa are the black and the olive.
The colobus lives in all types of closed forests, including montane and gallery forests. Bamboo stands are also popular dwelling spots for the colobus.
The colobus is the most arboreal of all African monkeys and rarely descends to the ground. It uses branches as trampolines, jumping up and down on them to get liftoff for leaps of up to 50 feet. They leap up and then drop downward, falling with outstretched arms and legs to grab the next branch. Their mantle hair and tails are believed to act as a parachute during these long leaps.
Colobus monkeys live in troops of about 5 to 10 animals—a dominant male, several females, and young. Each troop has its own territory which is well defined and defended from other troops. Adult troop members, especially males, make croaking roars that can be heard resonating throughout the forest.
Fighting over mates rarely occurs. There is no distinct breeding season although most mating probably occurs during rainy season. Because a female suckles her infant for over a year, an average of 20 months passes before she gives birth again. Other troop members often handle very young infants. In the first month when the infant still has a pink face, it may be handled three to five times an hour in resting groups. Infant mortality is high even though the young are carefully tended.
The newborn colobus monkey is covered with white fur, and at about 1 month gradually begins to change color, finally gaining the black and white adult coloration at about 3 months. The infant monkey is carried on the mother's abdomen, where it clings to her fur. As it matures it spends a lot of time playing with its mother and certain other adults and at about 7 months begins playing with other juveniles. The games they play exercise their bodies, and as they get older, these develop into wrestling matches and mock displays.
Colobus monkeys are strictly leaf-eaters and spend most of their time in treetops, preferring to eat the tender young leaves found there. However, complex stomachs enable them to digest mature or toxic foliage that other monkeys cannot.
At one time the colobus was hunted excessively for its beautiful fur, leading to its extermination in some areas. Its skin has been used to make dance costumes, hats and capes. Today, the greatest threat to its continued existence comes from loss of habitat as forests are cut down.
Photo kindly provided by Kai Keller
Bush babies have large, round eyes for good night vision and batlike ears that enable them to track insect prey in the dark. Fast, agile and accurate, they catch some insects on the ground and snatch others from the air. As they jump through thorn bush or thick growth, they fold their delicate ears flat against their heads to protect them. They fold them during rest, too.
The bush baby travels through the trees in literal leaps and bounds. In midflight it tucks its arms and legs close to the body and as it lands, brings them forward, grabbing a branch with its hands and feet. In a series of leaps a bush baby can easily cover 10 yards in seconds. The tail (longer than the length of the head and body) powers the leaps made to catch prey, escape from enemies or get around obstacles. The bush baby's other methods of locomotion are kangaroolike hops or simply walking or running on four legs.
Both bush babies and galagos often share habitats with monkeys, but as bush babies are nocturnal they do not compete ecologically with monkeys. Bush babies are found throughout East Africa, as well as in woodlands and bushlands in sub-Saharan Africa. They generally do not inhabit areas above altitudes of 6,500 feet. Most often they live in tree hollows that provide shelter. Sometimes they construct nests in the forks of branches, but these are not as commonly used as are natural holes. Bush babies prefer trees with little grass around them, probably as a precaution against wild fires. They will also shelter in manmade beehives.
Bush babies are usually found in small groups consisting of a mother and her offspring. These groups move about on their own to feed, but as bush babies seem to love physical contact, they join other groups to sleep together during the day. Aside from their babylike cries, they make croaking, chattering and clucking sounds or shrill whistles in case of danger. They frequently mark their routes with urine. By following their own scent, they can jump onto exactly the same branches each time when they go to or from their nest. Males also urine-mark the boundaries of their territories and will sometimes become aggressive toward intruders.
Females may become very aggressive just before or after giving birth. They may have singles, twins or triplets, with each newborn weighing less than half an ounce. The first three days or so the mother keeps the infants in constant contact with her. She picks them up with her hands or in her mouth, and they cling to her. After a few days she will either leave them in the nest or, if she takes them along, carry them in her mouth or let them cling to her back or belly.
The young are suckled for 6 weeks and can feed themselves at 2 months. They grow rapidly, causing the mother to walk slowly and awkwardly as she transports them. Sometimes the mother takes just one young with her, leaving the other in the nest.
The bush baby's diet changes according to the seasons. Most of its diet is made up of what is most abundant at that time of the year, including insects, leaves and fruit.
Bush babies hide during the day in order to avoid contact with predators such as eagles and large snakes. Since they are easily captured on ground they mostly stay in trees and rely on their extraordinary jumping capabilities.
Photo kindly provided by Kai Keller
The African wild dog, also called the hunting dog, is a vanishing species in East Africa. Field studies have shown that the wild dog is a highly intelligent and social animal. Like most predators, it plays an important role in eliminating sick and weak animals, thereby helping maintain a natural balance and ultimately improving prey species. The stereotype of the wild dog as a cruel butcher is slowly being replaced by a less harsh image.
The African wild dog has a colorful, patchy coat, large bat-like ears and a bushy tail with a white tip that may serve as a flag to keep the pack in contact while hunting.
Wild dogs live mostly in arid zones and in the savanna. They also are found in woodland and montane habitats where their prey lives.
African wild dogs live in packs of six to 20. The aggression exhibited towards prey is completely nonexistent between members of the pack and there is little intimidation among the social hierarchy. Their large range of vocalizations includes a short bark of alarm, a rallying howl and a bell-like contact call that can be heard over long distances. Elaborate greeting rituals are accompanied by twittering and whining. The entire pack is involved in the welfare of the pups, which are born in thick brush or in a den.
The hunting members of the pack return to the den where they regurgitate meat for the nursing female and pups. Although litters are very large, very few pups survive. Sometimes the dens are flooded, or the pups die from exposure or disease. When pack numbers are reduced, hunting is not as efficient and adults may not bring back sufficient food for the pups. The entire pack is involved in the welfare of the pups; both males and females babysit the young and provide food for them.
Wild dogs prey on gazelles and other antelopes, warthogs, wildebeest calves, rats and birds. They have a peculiar, playful ceremony that initiates each hunt: they circulate among themselves, vocalizing and touching until they get excited. When prey is targeted, some of the dogs run close to the animal, while others follow behind, taking over when the leaders tire. They can run long distances at speeds up to 35 miles per hour. Of the large carnivores, wild dogs are probably the most efficient hunters—targeted prey rarely escapes.
Throughout Africa, wild dogs have been shot and poisoned by farmers, hunters and, at one time, by rangers. Even though protected in parks and reserves, wild dog populations are dangerously low. AWF works with community scouts and supports research that examines the factors that threaten wild dogs and explores ways to reduce these threats.