In Kenya's SORALO and Shompole Lands, Samantha du Toit Takes Us to the Great Rift Valley

In Kenya's SORALO and Shompole Lands, Samantha du Toit Takes Us to the Great Rift Valley

Samantha du Toit (formerly Russell) was born and raised in Kenya. After completing secondary school in Nairobi she went to England to study Zoology and Psychology at Bristol University in England

Upon returning to Kenya, du Toit went straight into working in wildlife conservation with Dr. David Western, founder of the African Conservation Centre. Her first major task was to establish the baseline monitoring of the Shompole and Olkiramatian ecosystem, over eight years ago.

Today the Shompole Conservancy is a large privately operated conservation area in the south of the Great Rift Valley, Kenya. It is located between Lake Magadi to the north and Lake Natron to the south, on the border between Kenya and Tanzania. The conservancy was registered in 1979 and is owned by the Loodokolani Maasi with over 2000 registered members representing around 10,000 Loodokilani Maasai dependents.

Today, Samantha du Toit can be found at the Lale’enok Resource Centre, which she helped establish and now plays a major role in its operations. Or we might find her in the Nairobi SORALO office, helping to manage the affairs of the South Rift Association of Land Owners. This network of shared goals and objectives operates with complementary decision-making and objectives.

Why We Need to Protect the Extinct Woolly Mammoth | A CITIES Conference Update

THE  VENUS OF BRASSEMPOUY  (FRENCH:  LA DAME DE BRASSEMPOUY , MEANING "LADY OF BRASSEMPOUY", OR  DAME À LA CAPUCHE , "LADY WITH THE HOOD") IS A FRAGMENTARY IVORY FIGURINE. IT WAS DISCOVERED IN A CAVE AT  BRASSEMPOUY , FRANCE IN 1892. ABOUT 25,000 YEARS OLD, IT IS ONE OF THE EARLIEST KNOWN REALISTIC REPRESENTATIONS OF A HUMAN FACE. THE VENUS OF BRASSEMPOUY WAS CARVED FROM MAMMOTH IVORY.  VIA WIKIPEDIA FRANCE.

THE VENUS OF BRASSEMPOUY (FRENCH: LA DAME DE BRASSEMPOUY, MEANING "LADY OF BRASSEMPOUY", OR DAME À LA CAPUCHE, "LADY WITH THE HOOD") IS A FRAGMENTARY IVORY FIGURINE. IT WAS DISCOVERED IN A CAVE AT BRASSEMPOUY, FRANCE IN 1892. ABOUT 25,000 YEARS OLD, IT IS ONE OF THE EARLIEST KNOWN REALISTIC REPRESENTATIONS OF A HUMAN FACE. THE VENUS OF BRASSEMPOUY WAS CARVED FROM MAMMOTH IVORY. VIA WIKIPEDIA FRANCE.

Why We Need to Protect the Extinct Woolly Mammoth | A CITIES Conference Update

By Zara Bending, Associate, Centre for Environmental Law, Macquarie University. First published on The Conversation.

An audacious world-first proposal to protect an extinct species was debated on the global stage last week.

The plan to regulate the trade of woolly mammoth ivory was proposed, but ultimately withdrawn from an international conference on the trade of endangered species.

Instead, delegates agreed to consider the question again in three years, after a study of the effect of the mammoth ivory trade on global ivory markets.

Why protect an extinct species?

The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement regulating trade in endangered wildlife, signed by 183 countries. Every three years the signatories meet to discuss levels of protection for trade in various animals and their body parts.

The most audacious proposal at this year’s conference, which concluded yesterday in Geneva, was Israel’s suggestion to list the Woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) as a protected species.

Specifically, it aimed to list the woolly mammoth in accordance with the Convention’s “lookalike” provision. Once woolly mammoth ivory is carved into small pieces, it is indistinguishable from elephant ivory without a microscope. The proposal is designed to protect living elephants, by preventing “laundering” or mislabelling of illegal elephant ivory.

Had it passed, it would have been the first time an extinct species has been listed to save its modern-day cousins. Most populations of woolly mammoths went extinct after the last ice age, 10,000-40,000 years ago.

Botswana Has An Elephant Poaching Problem, Not An Overpopulation Problem

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Botswana Has An Elephant Poaching Problem, Not An Overpopulation Problem

The Botswana government recently reintroduced trophy hunting after a five-year moratorium. It did so on the pretext that Botswana has “too many elephants”.

But a new academic paper shows that this argument doesn’t hold.

The researchers compared the results of two aerial surveys in northern Botswana. The first was conducted in 2014, the second in 2018. Both were conducted during the dry season. This allowed for easy detection of changes over time.

A 94,000km2 area was studied and the elephant population estimated at 122,700 in 2018. This was roughly similar to the 2014 numbers.

But comparing results from the 2014 and 2018 aerial surveys, the scientists found that the numbers of elephant carcasses have increased, especially for newer carcasses dead for less than roughly 1 year. Populations can remain stable despite increased carcass counts because of new births and immigration from other range states.

The Botswana government recently reintroduced trophy hunting after a five-year moratorium. It did so on the pretext that Botswana has “too many elephants”.

But a new academic paper shows that this argument doesn’t hold.

The researchers compared the results of two aerial surveys in northern Botswana. The first was conducted in 2014, the second in 2018. Both were conducted during the dry season. This allowed for easy detection of changes over time.

A 94,000km2 area was studied and the elephant population estimated at 122,700 in 2018. This was roughly similar to the 2014 numbers.

But comparing results from the 2014 and 2018 aerial surveys, the scientists found that the numbers of elephant carcasses have increased, especially for newer carcasses dead for less than roughly 1 year. Populations can remain stable despite increased carcass counts because of new births and immigration from other range states.

Mozambique's Niassa Reserve Celebrates One Year Of No Elephant Kills | The Women Of Gorongosa Park

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Mozambique's Niassa Reserve Celebrates One Year Of No Elephant Kills | The Women Of Gorongosa Park

Beautiful Girls Meet Animals in Central Mozambique’s Gorongosa Park,

Researching the Niassa Reserve story, AOC found this exquisite video from Mozambique’s Gorongosa Park that’s a total respite — a small escape — from the world’s tragic events on The Guardian website.

Before you watch it, consider that in March 2019, Cyclone Idai devastated the communities around Mozambique's Gorongosa Park. There was no escape, no respite for the people of Mozambique as we steal precious moments with this video.

National Geographic reminded us just now of the cyclone, with the coincidence of a feature story on Grongosa National Park in the May 2019 issue of National Geographic. Click here to learn how you can help on the National Geographic website. Also, Gorongosa itself has information about devastation from the cyclone and how to help.

Five Things to Know About Botswana’s Decision to Lift Ban on Hunting Elephants

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Five Things to Know About Botswana’s Decision to Lift Ban on Hunting Elephants

Botswana, home to the world’s largest African elephant population, has lifted its five-year suspension of elephant hunting, attracting the ire of conservationists while placating those who argue that the land giants, known to kill livestock and destroy crops, are wreaking havoc on locals’ livelihoods.

In a statement detailing the reversal, Botswana’s Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism cited the increasing prevalence of human-elephant conflict, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ inability to respond to animal control reports in a timely fashion, and the toll on communities ill-equipped to handle the unimpeded roaming of these roughly 12,000-pound creatures. The ministry further said that reinstatement will be performed “in an orderly and ethical manner.”

The exact nature of this “ethical” implementation remains unclear, as do the long-term ramifications of the decision for both Botswana’s human and pachyderm residents. But in the meantime, here’s what we do know: