Possible Moz-SA border fence to fight poaching

Government officials were meeting on Monday to discuss the re-erection of a 150km border fence between Mozambique and South Africa.

Environmental affairs spokesperson Mandla Mathebula said South African National Parks (SANParks) and the departments of environmental affairs and public works were discussing the logistics.

The fence is to be re-erected following a surge in rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park.

“Their meeting is taking place,” he said. “I am unable to give further details.”

Mathebula said there was no threat to the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which incorporated national parks in South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.

“The transfrontier park will remain intact,” he said.

“This does not change the transfrontier park.

The first elephants were translocated from the Kruger to the Mozambican side of the transfrontier park in October 2001.

Former president Nelson Mandela joked at the time that the elephants were lobola for his Mozambican wife Graa Machel.

 

Extra rangers
The release of the elephants was supposed to signal the start of a fenceless mega park, incorporating the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique, the Kruger, and Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe.

But a spike in rhino poaching has caused wildlife officials to call for the fence to be re-erected.

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa told the National Press Club in Pretoria on Sunday that an additional 150 rangers would be deployed to the Kruger this year to combat rhino poaching.

She said government would add them to the existing 500 rangers currently employed in the park.

Two poachers have been killed and another two have been arrested in connection with rhino poaching in the Kruger this year.

In 2011, 448 rhino were killed in South Africa.

Another 11 have been killed in the country this year so far.

One of the department’s plans included re-erecting the 150km stretch of fence along the border with Mozambique.

Molewa said 232 people had been arrested for rhino poaching.

SANparks chief executive David Mabunda, who was also at the briefing, said the fence, if approved, would cost an estimated R250-million to build.

‘Bad state of repair’
“We still have a fence or what used to be a fence. That part of the fence is in a bad state of repair.”

The proposed fence would be electrified but would not be lethal, and serve more as an early warning system, Mabunda said.

Most of those caught poaching were Mozambican nationals with some South Africans involved. Very few Zimbabweans were involved in poaching in the Kruger.

Mozambicans living across the border of the park were extremely poor and could therefore be enticed by organised crime.

“We need an appropriate organised response,” he said.

South Africa has around 22 000 rhino, which is about 80% of the world’s rhino population.

The country’s rhino population, 22% of which is in private hands, is growing.

However, if poaching levels continued to climb, from 2015 South Africa could see a fall in its rhino population, Mabunda warned.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Africa’s rhino population was being exterminated at the rate of about 8 000 animals a year.

Rhino horn rhino is valued for dagger handles in Yemen, while in China and Vietnam it is prized in traditional medicine to treat fevers.

SANparks spokesperson Reynold Thakhuli said on Monday that most of the rhino poaching was being done in the south of the park near camps such as Lower Sabie and Pretoriuskop.

The fence, he said, was likely to cover only certain areas.

Further details would be released once the meeting on Monday had been concluded.

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA – Jan 16 2012

http://mg.co.za/article/2012-01-16-possible-mozsa-border-fence-to-fight-poaching

In the Tracks of Giants

Following ancient African elephant migration paths, In the Tracks of Giants, is a 6 month east-to-west journey connecting major conservation nodes to promote a greater awareness of conservation, human community and leadership issues specifically relevant to southern Africa. The journey aims to rekindle the rapidly declining indigenous knowledge base of the human – animal interface, and indigenous solutions to conservation challenges and issues.

A team of trackers, conservationists and media will travel by foot, cycle (in regions outside of conservation areas and wildlife parks) and kayak in the Okavango Delta and Zambezi through eight major conservation nodes. Along the way, they will meet with local communities, work with partners, survey and document animal movements and conservation issues focusing on the following issues:

  • Climate change: potential impact on biodiversity and natural habitats
  • Water: The vital role of wild natural areas in supplying water to human communities
  • Human – animal issues: identification of conflict areas and possible solutions
  • Habitat fragmentation and loss of traditional animal migration routes
  • The importance of designated wilderness regions in Transfrontier Conservation Areas
  • Preserving indigenous wildlife knowledge – tracking skills, resource use, oral history
  • Linking environmental issues to leadership issues- biological, social, psychological

Get Involved

To stay up-to-date on In the Tracks of Giants, become a fan on Facebook!  If you’d like to get involved or are interested in sponsoring the trek, please send an email to WILD (info (at) wild.org)  with the subject line “Tracks” with your contact information and how you would like to be involved.

The Big Picture

“We are all profoundly affected by ecosystem disintegration and biodiversity loss. The idea of “following ancient elephant migration routes” developed by Ian McCallum provides the opportunity to see this at ground level through the difficult choices that elephants face in a world where their horizons are rapidly contracting. Elephants, with their need for space, provide an inspiring and obvious example of how Nature needs large interconnected wild areas in order to continue providing the essential services and support for all life on earth – including humans! “How much” of wild nature should be kept intact is always a question, but increasingly science confirms that “nature needs half.” Ian McCallum’s project can bring light and awareness to this matter,” Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Founder, Save the Elephants.

Why the Elephant?

Many of the conservation challenges facing Southern Africa, and in particular wilderness regions within Southern Africa, can be highlighted or characterized through umbrella species – where protection of sufficient habitat and connectivity to assure viable populations of the umbrella species benefits other species more restricted in their range. For example, the challenges facing southern African megafauna are exemplified by issues facing southern African elephant (Loxodonta africana) populations in the region.

In this regard, the In the Tracks of Giants project has identified the African elephant as the charismatic mammal of the region and as the iconic species of this coast to coast traverse. Large charismatic wildlife, such as elephants, play an important role as ‘flagship’ species, both in terms of anchoring conservation initiatives and in attracting tourists to protected areas. Furthermore, as keystone species, elephants also play an important role in the broader landscape, through their influence on vegetation patterns.

Local distribution of elephants varies seasonally due to variation in resource availability, and the species is known to undertake long-distance movements. In the selection of the African elephant as the icon of the project, the In the Tracks of Giants journey route has been carefully selected to follow ancient elephant migration paths and to traverse current elephant habitat, thus highlighting the issues faced by southern African elephant populations (and other megafaunal populations) across their former range.

Key People & Partners

The WILD Foundation is the North American face of In the Tracks of Giants – which is a collaborative initiative spearheaded by members of the Wilderness Network (The WILD Foundation USA, Wilderness Foundation Africa, Wilderness Leadership School South Africa and the Wilderness Foundation UK) and including other non-governmental organizations, wildlife management authorities, parks and reserves management and other government, community and corporate partners.

Final participant lists are currently being addressed. The initiative will however be lead and hosted by three Conservation personalities; Dr Ian McCallum, Ian Michler and a top female African guide.

Ian McCallum, a medical doctor, psychiatrist, specialist wilderness guide, Jungian analyst and naturalist has a unique perspective on man’s relationship with the natural environment. Promoted in his highly acclaimed book Ecological Intelligence – Rediscovering Ourselves in Nature, his message is one of an urgent need to understand human history, position and responsibilities in the web of life. He is the author of an anthology of wilderness poems – Wild Gifts.

Ian Michler, a top wildlife guide, photojournalist and naturalist, has spent the last decade documenting the major conservation challenges facing Africa. An author of 6 travel books on various African countries, his work is well known to readers of the award winning magazines, Africa Geographic and Africa Birds and Birding.

Both McCallum and Michler have extensive guiding experience throughout Southern and East Africa and will be assisted be experienced local guides in each country.

The third full-time participant will be an African female guide trained and selected by the Wilderness Network.

The involvement of specialist participants is proposed as a major component of In the Tracks of Giants by providing the opportunity for their participation in the journey. Both Wilderness Leadership School and environmental seminars will be carried out within each conservation node.