Animals

Nature Roars Back

Our generation lives in the here and now. So, reaching people means we need to connect the here and now to issues that at a glance seem long-term or ineffectual on a local level. These sentiments echo the words of US President Barack Obama in an interview for the docuseries Years of Living Dangerously.

This is also a paramount goal for National Geographic, who believe in cross-platform education which inspires the most curious minds with an expanding canvas to grow and reach people in new ways. NG Live is the on ground extension supporting the societies 128-year legacy, upholding innovation and visual story-telling as the foremost touchpoint for people to connect with the challenges facing our planet.

Best known for his award-winning wildlife documentaries, Bob Poole is in Australia this week to present the NG Live event Nature Roars Back. Offering audiences the opportunity to explore Bob’s Africa, a place where nature is resilient and people play a vital part in that resurgence. Conversation is part of what makes the Live event such a powerful tool for conservation—it speaks to the curiosity of children, the concerns of parents, the interest of entrepreneurs, the inspiration of artists.

Bob’s penetrating insights and captivating enthusiasm draw out people’s natural curiosity, encouraging them to seek and see natures destiny as unwritten, full of potential, wonder and intertwined in our own story.

Tourism, Bob says is a crucial element of re-wilding Africa—“Getting people to visit” that is the inspiration Bob wants audiences to leave with. He knows that for people to care they first need to connect—to see what’s working, how their support impacts nature and be inspired by that change.

Nature Roars Back is full of intrepid inspiration…

Hear daring tales of elephant rescue and the rebuilding of trust between man and animals devastated by war, as Bob and a team of scientists battle to re-wild Africa’s lost Eden: Gorongosa.

In one of the world’s most ambitious conservation projects, he’ll share the secrets of the “Gorongosa code”— and a man’s brave journey of discovery and redemption filming the spectacular wildlife of a paradise once lost.

Join the acclaimed cinematographer and filmmaker, live on stage, for unforgettable images and stories of Gorongosa’s majestic animals—and learn how the wild places we’ve broken can be put back together.

From screen to stage the amazing encounters, heartfelt accounts and thrilling adventures of Emmy-winning filmmaker Bob Poole, literally come to life in this unique look at the rebirth of Africa’s last wilderness.

Want to know the coolest custom-bits of the Bob Mobile?

Don’t miss our exclusive interview with Bob in the next issue of Bare Essentials.

Melbourne • Arts Centre Melbourne • Wednesday 10 August
Sydney • Sydney Opera House • Friday 19 August
Perth • State Theatre Centre of WA • Sunday 21 August
Adelaide • Adelaide Festival Centre • Wednesday 24 August

Bookings: www.natgeolive.org/australia

Explore Bob’s World www.bobpoolefilms.com and @bobpoolefilms

Spread the word #BobPooleFilms

Art Wolfe talks about the incredible photographic opportunities the Galápagos Islands provided, after wrapping up back to back workshops in May 2016, teaching alongside Tom Mangelsen and Frans Lanting. This Masters of Nature Photography workshop was organized by Justin Black of Visionary Wild, and the next combined event will be South Georgia and the Falklands in November 2016. Documentary by Yuri Choufour.

www.artwolfe.com
www.visionarywild.com

Pumas, like many apex carnivores, have long been considered solitary animals. But in 2008, Panthera started uncovering the truth about the species—and capturing surprising behaviors on film. Watch this incredible clip to find out how one puma mother saved the lives of two kittens that weren’t her own.

Who: Panthera is the only organization in the world devoted exclusively to the conservation of the world’s 38 wild cat species and their ecosystems. Their core programs focus on conserving the largest and some of the most imperiled cats – tigers, lions, jaguars, snow leopards, leopards, pumas and cheetahs.

Why: Conserving big cats and their habitats supports the health and survival of thousands of plant and animal species around the globe, including people. In protecting big cats, we are protecting ourselves!

When: Act for Big Cats today! Celebrate Panthera’s 10th anniversary with a donation that supports their continued research and conservation efforts for wild cats.

In an earlier post we explored how tourism in Africa can transform poachers into wildlife guardians. Here we look at a citizen-driven network for nature, providing an anonymous platform for people to report Illegal wildlife trafficking and other wildlife issues. It is important to value the power of people (local and global) who bear witness to crimes against wildlife, explains conservation consultant, Patricia Tricorache.

Network for Nature

For thousands of years, humans have had a fascination with cheetahs. Cheetahs have been revered as protectors and companions of pharaohs; their goddess Mafdet was believed to be part cheetah. Kings and nobles favoured the sport of coursing, or using cheetahs to hunt. Kings and nobles gave cheetahs as gifts, sometimes to places beyond their natural range, as China and Europe. Akbar, the great Mogul emperor, is said to have owned up to 9,000 during his reign; all females taken from the wild, as they were believed to be better hunters than males. Their cubs were left to fend for themselves, which forebodes death in most cases as cheetahs normally spend 18 months with their mothers before they can learn how to be wild and survive.

This enormous demand for cheetahs is believed to have led to the near extinction of cheetahs in Asia. The last two cheetahs of India were shot in the 1950s, and only a small population of ~60 remains in Iran. As cheetahs became scarce in Asia, they began to be sourced from Africa. Today, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that only 6,700 cheetahs are left in Africa. This number is alarming when considering that the cheetah population at the beginning of the 20th century was estimated at 100,000.

The cheetah not only has to face loss of habitat and conflict with humans. The very qualities that make it the fastest land hunter on earth, speed and elegance, are the qualities that have make this cat be loved to near extinction.

In addition to cheetah skins, claws or teeth being traded illegally in some parts of Africa, the illegal removal of cheetahs from the wild for the pet trade is of great concern to conservationists. Cheetahs, like chimpanzees, tigers, lions or orang-utans, are popular pets in some countries, particularly in the Arabian Peninsula, where ownership of exotic animals appears to convey status. Unfortunately, this practice has devastating consequences for wild populations. It is believed that an average of 300 wild cheetah cubs are smuggled out of eastern Africa to satisfy the demand. The majority die due to inadequate care in the hands of their smugglers, and even of their owners.

Since 2005, the non-profit Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) has been monitoring cases of illegal cheetah trafficking, and organising confiscations with the help of governments, NGOs and individuals. We compile every instance of illegal trade in cheetahs that we come across, and even though the nature of this illicit activity makes it difficult to collect information, our records now include ~1,000 cheetahs or cheetah products between 2005 and 2015.

In addition to direct action, CCF participates in international forums at national and international levels to promote increased awareness, enforcement and collaboration. A major event was the inclusion of this issue by CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) in the agenda of their 16th Conference of the Parties (CoP16). A major study ensued, and in November 2015, a group of concerned countries and NGOs, including CCF, came together in Kuwait to develop recommendations that will be considered at the upcoming CITES CoP17 to be held in South Africa in September 2016.

The recommendations call for improved enforcement and collaboration between the relevant countries, as well as increased efforts to reduce demand. A month-long analysis of social media advertisements of cheetahs as pets resulted in nearly 130 dealers, many of whom displayed groups of 3, 4 or even 11 small cubs being offered for sale. CCF works closely with international enforcement authorities in an effort to stop this cyber trade.

Many of the animals confiscated from the pet trade were taken at very young ages, and thus cannot be returned to the wild. Ensuring that these animals are properly cared for is also a priority for CCF. Consequently, CCF has led training workshops for facilities holding cheetahs in countries where the demand for pet cheetahs is high. CCF has also begun collecting genetic samples of confiscated specimens in an effort to begin building a genetics database that might eventually provide enforcement authorities with evidence of origin.

Addressing human needs in countries where cheetahs are sourced is also important. NGOs like the Rangewide Conservation Program for Cheetah and Wild Dog (RWCP), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Born Free Foundation develop programmes to raise awareness and build enforcement capacity in those countries, while CCF continues to train stakeholders on ways to resolve human-wildlife conflict, which often results in the opportunistic taking of wild cheetahs for the trade. IFAW also develops awareness campaigns in the Gulf States, where some countries are in the process of enacting legislation to prohibit the import and/or ownership of dangerous pets, cheetahs included.

Unfortunately, the road to success is long and uncertain as the trade continues. It is important to raise awareness and encourage people to ensure that the wild animals or products they are buying are not from endangered species. Similarly, tourists and volunteers visiting places that offer photo ops or walks with wild animals like cheetahs or lions, should ask questions such as: where is the mother or what will happen with the cubs when they grow up. Keep in mind that in most cases, orphaned cheetahs or lions cannot be released into the wild, and that the money they pay for that quick moment of excitement might not be going to legitimate conservation efforts. Make sure that the place you are visiting is a legitimate zoo, sanctuary or conservation centre, which usually house non-releasable animals, whether captive-born or rescued, and provide them with life-long care while educating the public about their natural history and conservation.

To report cases of illegal wildlife trafficking, please email: patricia@cheetah.org.

Ecotourism providing a viable alternative to poaching, empowering the people of Africa with opportunities to preserve wildlife and escape poverty.

For impoverished communities tourism offers a future with promise, unlike the illegal wildlife trade which demands risk for reward. Those with money have power, and rarely feel the repercussions of justice—this unbalance persists under conventional approaches to conservation. Encouraging a paradigm shift by recruiting poachers to guide tourists on wildlife excursions develops their appreciation and knowledge for local wildlife whilst empowering them economically. This is the thought behind a new approach to poaching in Tanzania, lead by Chris Koslin and David Kabambo of Peace for Conservation.

Anti-Poaching Tourism

In the following article, Koslin expands on the advantages of fighting poaching through ecotourism and how travellers can support the cause!

Each day 30 Elephants are killed in Tanzania. It has become a way of life for many villagers. They do not do it because they enjoy it, they do it to survive. They kill the elephant and then cut off the tusks. The tusks are sold to brokers for pennies on the dollar. Meanwhile the brokers get rich off of the ivory that remains in high demand in many countries.

The current method of stopping this problem is by attempting to catch the poachers in the act. This is a daunting task when most of the country is open space where the poachers can easily hide. The battle has recently turned deadly with the death of a British pilot at the hands of several poachers. This situation is unacceptable and will never end. There is too much land to cover and not enough rangers to cover it. Something must be done. This is where Peace for Conservation comes in.

Through a chance encounter, I met David Kabambo of Peace for Conservation and an idea was born. The only way to stop the poaching is to give the people another alternative. The basic idea is that poachers only do it because they need money to feed their family. It is not a choice, it is a move out of desperation. Peace for Conservation plans to create a better choice.

The program will begin by setting up an ecotourism program. This program will teach local men how to run a safari that will take visitors on a scenic tour of the local wildlife. The men will become certified ecotour guides. The program will pay them much more than they could make by poaching. This will teach them that the elephant is worth more alive than dead. A recent article shows that an elephant tusk is worth around $21,000 US on the black market. The average value of an elephant over its lifetime to ecotourism is around $1.6 million dollars. This value can be transferred to the local economy.

The second step of the program is to invest in the local economy. Peace for Conservation will create a cultural center in the town. This cultural center will be staffed by local women who will teach villagers about the local culture as well as provide an outlet to sell their hand made arts and crafts. This will infuse more money into the villages. The infusion of money into the local economy is the key to winning this battle. Too many organizations want to line their pockets with the cash they generate. Unfortunately, there is often a major disconnect between what a program says it will do and what it actually does. That ends here and now.

They realize that the task is not an easy one. This is why they have also partnered with the University of South Florida’s Patel School of Global Sustainability. This partnership brings in graduate students who are experts in the renewable energy field. The students will assist in installing microgrid solar power systems for the villages. They will also set biogas systems for clean, low carbon output cooking. This will eliminate the current practice of clear cutting the forest for charcoal. Students will also assist in setting up solar and wind powered wells and water purification systems.

These changes will create a “Green Destination” that will be fully sustainable and hopefully meet Global Sustainable Tourism Council requirements. In turn, this will become a beacon of hope in Tanzania. The area will serve as a working model for other regions in Africa. They will lift themselves out of poverty and will no longer need to poach.

Peace for Conservation will also focus on education of the youth. They will implement a program of conservation classes designed to teach future generations the value of saving the environment instead of destroying. They will see their economy is based on keeping the animals alive. The need to poach will be gone. However, they will also have created an economy that is fully sustainable as well as environmentally friendly.

Where do we go from here?

The endgame is to spread this system to as many places as possible. The approach is setup to be able to be scaled up or down to fit the area it is implemented. Other areas will see that is pays better to keep the animals alive. This will choke off the supply routes of the brokers. They will have accomplished our paradigm shift on a grand scale. Poaching will be counter productive to the new economy that will be build. They will have put a larger monetary value on keeping the creatures alive to show off to tourists.

They need your help!

Peace for Conservation relies completely on donations and grant money. They currently are at a critical point in this process. They need your help to get this program off the ground. They can use any donation you are able to give. The money goes towards setting up the eco tours and renting facilities for the cultural center. They have currently put in for several grants. However, they could use your donations to bridge the gap in time.

They currently have a fundraising site: gofund.me/uuankf3j

You can also follow them on Twitter at @Peace4Conserv

Please assist them in this quest to end poaching and poverty in Tanzania and in rural towns and villages worldwide who exploit their resources instead of showing them off.