Posts Tagged With: Ghana

Building Bridges or Killing Elephants?

China’s ever-increasing presence in African countries can’t be ignored. Since the 90’s, China has been staking its claim in oil, infrastructure and mining projects across the dark continent. What does their business mean to Africans? Is this an economic investment or a global takeover? Either way, what can’t be denied is the environmental sabotage in their wake. (See previous post: Africa’s Asian Invasion)

They have built  controversial damns across the continent (Gabon, Ghana, Zambia, Ethiopia, and Sudan) which have had adverse environmental impact. For example, in Ghana  the  Bui Dam Project  is flooding nearly a quarter of the Bui National Park, destroying habitat for rare hippos, forcibly resettling 2,600 people and affecting thousands more.

bui dam

Bui Dam

They are also responsible  for long-term river and farmland pollution from mining projects in South Africa and Ghana.  One recent project, the China-Africa Sunlight Energy has received permission to mine coal in  Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.  This is a delicate and crucial wildlife area that mining will likely damage, as well as exposing the wild animals to poaching.

But perhaps the most obvious infraction on mother nature is in the killing of the elephants to smuggle their ivory.

Chinese construction camps in Africa have long been suspected of smuggling ivory. A CNN report reveals that numerous camps in the Republic of Congo and neighbouring countries are suspected of facilitating the large-scale ivory trade.

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Rangers hunting the hunters in the Congo.

Although workers at the camps have at times been caught red-handed, prosecution does not come easy. Actual investigation of the camps is even more difficult, as in once incident  a regional prosecutor blocked an anti-poaching unit from searching a camp – even though ivory pieces were found there.

According to  CNN, when asked about the incident, the prosecutor said the search was halted because the translator for the Chinese was away and they couldn’t conduct a search without explaining to the Chinese why it was happening.

Many of these camps are set up near small villages, which have their own track record of poaching involvement.  Poor villagers, ivory-hungry workers-a potent combination; but add in law enforcement turning a blind eye, it’s a complete disaster.

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Ranger examining elephant trunk after poaching in the Congo.

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

King of the Jungle Dethroned

Africa’s rhino and elephant aren’t the only animals facing extinction, the African Lion is threatened. It is extremely rare to see a lion over 3 years of age in the wild.??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

*Over the last 50 years, the lion population has plummeted from 200,000 to less than 25,000

*Sadly, the rate of decline is accelerating. While the countries of Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire and the Congo have already lost their lions, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda expect them to be gone within ten years.

lion map

FACTORS EFFECTING LION POPULATION

Habitat loss and human conflict is partially to blame for their loss. The loss comes from the gradual depletion of the savannah. In an ecosystem that was once larger than the United States, there is only about a quarter of that left today. From this shrinking habitat, comes a population growth which increases human/lion conflicts. People move into an area, bring in livestock which is inadvertently bait for the lions; then when the lions come in and do what their predator skills dictate they do,  the people kill the lions. It’s  a losing situation on both sides.

Trophy hunting/canned hunting is also a factor. (See previous post: https://fightforrhinos.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/shooting-fish-in-a-barrel/). This is entirely preventable. There are currently 160 farms in South Africa alone who legally breed lions just to be hunted. Although the hunts are not completely confined to bred animals, as some ranches capture wild lions and smuggle them in. In a five-year span ending in 2011, there have been 4,062 lion trophies exported out of  South Africa.

These lions were bred to be killed at a ranch that offers canned hunts.

These lions were bred to be killed at a ranch that offers canned hunts.

Canine distemper and tuberculosis have also been widespread.  In 1994 and 2001 there were major Distemper outbreaks  resulting in a the demise of a third of the population.  Tuberculosis  started with infected cattle and moved to buffalo which was ingested by the lions. About 25 lions die each year from TB. Just as importantly, it  has an effect on social behavior, as males are weakened by the chronic disease, leading to a faster territorial male turnover and consequent infanticide, eviction of entire prides and a decrease in  lion longevity.

lions storm

NEGATIVE AFFECTS OF LION DISAPPEARANCE

If this top predator disappears, it will devastate an entire ecosystem. Lions play an integral role in the food chain, regulating the herbivores (i.e zebra, buffalo). Without the big cats, the “prey” will out-compete other animals, causing a reduction in biodiversity and eventual extinction.

Tourism will become non-existent. People go on safari to see not only the lions, but the lion’s prey (zebra, gazelle, buffalo). At the current rate of decline with  Africa’s big 5 (lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo, and leopard) there will be NO safaris.

It seems difficult for people to grasp that the “King of the Jungle” is vulnerable and needs help. But without human intervention, it seems the lions may be a species of the past, only to be seen in pictures. We can’t let that happen.

For more information on lions and how to save them please go to these organizations:

 http://www.lionaid.org/

http://lionalert.org

extremely rare to find a male lion older than the age of three – See more at: http://right-tourism.com/issues/cruel-sports/canned-hunting/#sthash.OsWKD5HF.dpuf
extremely rare to find a male lion older than the age of three – See more at: http://right-tourism.com/issues/cruel-sports/canned-hunting/#sthash.OsWKD5HF.dpuf
Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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