Society tells us our lives will be mapped out by our youth and our ambition: what schools we attend, who we marry, or what high-paying career we take on. But those are not the only factors that determine our paths. Sometimes tectonic forces are working deep below our feet, waiting to show us paths we had not prepared for when we least expect them—after our careers, our schooling, and our lives are pretty much sorted out. Or so we thought…
In the middle of the Mashatu bush, in the early hours of the morning, I was woken by the loud roar of a male lion. I was hesitant to get out of bed and shine my touch to see if the lion was anywhere near my tent. I decided to climb back into bed. By the sound of the roar, the lion was not that close to the camp.
As the sun slowly rises over the horizon the dawn chorus of a new day starts. Crested Francolins call in duet and the birds of prey start to warm up, desperately waiting to catch a morning commute with the rising thermals. It is here on the Southern side of Ndlovu dam where JP Le Roux and myself are doing some filming for our Youtube channel while enjoying a morning French pressed coffee.
The 31st of July is World Ranger Day, let’s explore what it means to be a ‘ranger’ in celebration of this day!
I’ve always told my guest when walking out in the bush to read it like a book. Start on the horizon and scan from left to right and don’t forget to scan the trees close to you, there might be a Black Mamba looking back at you from its den. It’s definitely a question of who is looking at who out in nature.
One thing we all know is true: once you have been to the African bush, you are never quite the same again. It is an impossible experience to convey to anyone who hasn’t been, and if you are reading this, you are among those of us that never tire of going on safari.
I found myself speed walking to gate number C6 at Cape Town International airport. With way too many bags strapped over my shoulders, I shuffled towards the stairs going to the desired gate. From nowhere a friendly face stopped me and drew my attention to my shoes, this literally stopped me in my tracks.
Most people think that the Wildebeest Migration only takes place between June and October, but it is a year-round occurrence. There are various but equally exciting events that occur at different times of the year. The river crossings usually coincide with safari high season so consequently, there is a perception that it is the only time of the year that the wildebeest migrate or can be seen.
Every year, around 1.5 million wildebeest are joined by thousands of Thompsons gazelle, zebra, eland, and other ungulates (hoofed animals) in what has been called the “greatest show on earth”, The Great Wildebeest Migration.
The Great Wildebeest Migration in the plains of East Africa is one of the most spectacular displays of wildlife behavior and nowhere is there a terrestrial movement of animals as immense as the wildebeest migration. As one of UNESCO’s Wonders of the World, it is one of the most sought-after experiences for wildlife and nature enthusiasts.
Pridelands has two Black Mambas in camp at the moment and after a colorful interview, I can confirm that these ladies are way more lovely, and infinitely more hardcore than the snake.
Do you want to know why you should become a Game Ranger or Safari Guide? EcoTraining instructor Michael Anderson explains in more detail.
Did you know that “the number of rhinos poached in South Africa since the beginning of this year now stands at 281 with a total of 176 individuals arrested in connection with rhino poaching?” EcoTraining Camp Manager Emma Summers talk to us about Rhino Poaching Prevention.
Professional Trails Guide Devon Myers breaks down the differences between a Safari Guide and a Game Ranger.
Indlulamithi – above the trees for World Giraffe Day.
Today on the winter/summer solstice also know as the longest night in the Southern hemisphere or the longest day in the Northern hemisphere we celebrate a very special, unique, curious, long necked animal, the Giraffe.
So why is the 21st June World Giraffe day? This is a new annual event launched by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) to raise awareness of our iconic long-necked friends. Did you know that even though they are an iconic African species that very little research has been done on them, and because of this the tallest mammal of the African bush has been disappearing right under our noses? According to the ICUN it is now thought that there are less than 69000 mature Giraffes left across the African Continent. This might sound like a healthy population number however; when you consider that over the last three decades Giraffe numbers have decreased by around 30-40%, a staggering amount, this population estimate is beginning to not look as good as it first you first thought.
The reasons why their numbers are declining is a familiar story. War, civil unrest, explosions in the human population, deforestation, habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, disease and poaching are all contributing to their decline.
The Giraffe should have one advantage over other animals, because of its height they can reach food that other animals can’t which means that they don’t compete with other wild or domestic animals for food. However; in countries like Niger, where people are cutting down trees for fire wood, to grow crops and to sell, the Giraffes started to raid peoples crops, which in turn meant that the animals were being viewed as pests.
Currently the ICUN acknowledges the giraffe as one species with nine different subspecies. The Giraffe as a species are listed as vulnerable to extinction and if you break it down into the nine subspecies you will see that some of these subspecies are in danger of disappearing completely – the Nubian and Kordofan subspecies are critically endangered and the Reticulated subspecies is classified as endangered. The giraffes that live in Eastern, Western and Central Africa with most of them living in scattered, fragmented populations are the ones that are under the greatest threat whereas the lucky subspecies that live in Southern Africa have more stable population figures, although they are also not immune to population decline.
In recent years there has been some hope. The West Africa subspecies population declined so drastically that by the mid-nineties there were only 49 left. They used to have an extensive range, but they disappeared everywhere except in a small ‘giraffe corridor’ in Niger. Due to people recognizing the importance of them a massive conservation effort began. The Niger government gave them protected status and money was spent on anti-poaching. Thousands of Acacia trees, their favorite food have been planted, which helped to stop the Giraffes raiding people’s valuable crops. Thanks to Giraffe conservation organizations like GCF working with local people awareness of the Giraffes plight has increased and people now see these Giraffes as a positive force as they provide them with and income and jobs. All this work has had positive results. Their population numbers have increased and according to the ICUN there are now approximately 425 mature individuals. This success has enabled 8 West African Giraffes to be translocated to the protected Gadabedji Biosphere Reserve, an area they haven’t roamed for 50 years. Although this might sound like a small number these Giraffe have helped to increase the Biosphere Reserves biodiversity and most importantly these precious animals are helping to establish a second colony of West African Giraffe.
Now there we are researching Giraffe we are learning some interesting things. Thanks to genetic testing our assumptions that there are nine subspecies has been shown to be wrong and many questions are being raised. It has shown that there are four distinct species of Giraffe that have not interbreed for millions of years. Some of these species of Giraffes also have subspecies.
Whilst this might seem like an academic argument, after all it doesn’t change the conservation status of these animals, it goes to show that there is still so much to learn about them. It is also hoped that with more research, by understating their genetic makeup and what makes each species of Giraffe unique that they will be able to come up with new conservation approaches that can save this amazing animal.
|Masai giraffe||Giraffa tippelskirchi||35,000|
|Northern giraffe||Giraffa camelopardalis||5,600|
|Kordofan giraffe||G. c. antiquorum||2,000|
|Nubian giraffe||G. c. camelopardalis||3,000|
|West African giraffe||G. c. peralta||600|
|Reticulated giraffe||Giraffa reticulata||15,780|
|Southern giraffe||Giraffa giraffa||54,750|
|Angolan giraffe||G. g. angolensis||17,750|
|South African giraffe||G. g. giraffa||37,000|
When humans put their minds to it, we can change the world and when we work together with nature rather than just considering our needs, we can create a positive change.
Happy World Rhino Day 2018! On this day we’d like to recognise the successes in the fight against the extinction of this majestic animal.
International Ranger’s Day is a day dedicated to the unsung heroes who protect our fragile wildlife, natural treasures and cultural heritage. We salute you!