Hello EWT supporters
I am almost too nervous to write about rhino in this first edition of EWTalk for 2012. Not because they don’t matter but because, with the overwhelming amount of publicity and media exposure the rhino poaching crisis is getting, people may start to get fatigued and inclined to turn the page with yet another rhino poaching story…. So I am not writing about rhino as much as I am writing about an aspect to the human psyche that the rhino poaching crisis has revealed in us all. In recent months rhino poaching has mobilised civil society involvement in conservation in an almost unprecedented way – and this is good! Members of the public have been campaigning, blogging, lobbying, marching and raising their voices, demanding severe penalties for poachers, bans on rhino hunting, government intervention at the diplomatic level, boycotts on buying Chinese and Vietnamese products, and in general, making a great big noise about THOSE Asian folk who are decimating OUR rhino population. It has indeed become a masked attack on these other cultures and markets that demand our resources to such a degree that they will stop at no cost and have no ethical limitations to the levels of brutality they will apply in getting what they want. I have often been asked and have asked myself why civil society is so outraged by the killing of rhino for Asian markets and seem to not care one iota for the rampant killing of carnivores, birds, reptiles, marine species or a host of other creatures and plants that continues unabated every day in this country. And no, their deaths are not necessarily less brutal or less critical for the survival of their species… My personal theory is not that it is the rhino that matters more, but that the outrage stems from the fact that is not ‘us’ that is using the products, but a foreign nation whose beliefs we don’t share and whose practices we don’t understand, right or wrong. How much easier it is to attack a common enemy in the form of a foreign nation than to look within our own borders and lambaste the actions of a local tribal leader who illegally trades in Leopard skins, or a local hunter who illegally shoots caged Cheetah, or a local dealer who removes crane eggs and chicks from the wild, or a local pet store owner with a host of reptiles illegally caught and traded to often not-so-unsuspecting ‘pet’ buyers. How careful we must be to not be politically incorrect in saying what I have just said and demanding that our own people stop catching, selling and buying chameleons and tortoises on the road outside Sun City, or cycads with known falsified or absent permits, or destroying indigenous plants by the truckload in the name of ‘development’ or from poisoning, shooting and snaring thousands of animals every year in the name of the bushmeat trade, food provision or ‘conflict’ with humans. The EWT is also angry about the increasing demand for rhino horn from the East but we are equally concerned with the increasing illegal decimation of a variety of species that is perpetrated every day within the borders of this country, by ordinary South Africans, whether they know it or not. Come on South Africans, it is not just ‘them’ versus ‘us’. Please let this rhino crisis bring some much needed reflection back into all of us about how we treat our own environment and our precious wildlife heritage. Let 2012 be a year of cleaning up our own act and ensuring that our right to these animals we called ours is not a right to kill and destroy but a right to love and enjoy - matched by a responsibility to protect and revere. Let the rhino lead the charge for the other creatures we are often too casual about and let 2012 be a turning point for humankind’s largely destructive treatment of those with whom we share our earth. It starts with us.
Best wishes for a rewarding and uplifting 2012.
New programme to focus on water conservationThe habitats found in river catchments are linked to those found in the benthic habitats on the sea floor. Disruptions to ecosystem services, or habitat loss at the source of a river will therefore have a knock-on effect to ecosystem integrity and functioning of the aquatic habitats downstream. The newest EWT programme to be formed recognises this connection and is aptly named the Source to Sea Programme. It is an amalgamation of the previous Healthy Rivers Programme and Marine and Coastal Programme and will allow the EWT to address broader issues regarding the conservation of freshwater and marine resources and biodiversity in southern Africa. Anthony Bernard has come on board as the new volunteer manager for this programme, and will officially join the EWT halfway through the year. The new programme’s mission is to enable the conservation and sustainable utilisation of aquatic ecosystems and resources in southern Africa through (1) development of partnerships that promote stewardship, innovation and collaboration within society and industry; and (2) facilitation of applied research projects that address relevant conservation themes and demonstrate the benefit of science to aid conservation efforts. For more information contact Anthony Bernard.
Unseen rabbits in the mistIt seemingly does not bode well that our new Riverine Rabbit Programme Manager, Christy Bragg, has yet to see a rabbit, despite 6 months on the job, despite surveys and despite night drives galore. But it does show one thing - you can have a passion for things unseen; you can save what you can’t see. So we appeal to all the people who HAVEN’T seen a rabbit to save one today! Please donate to the EWT’s Riverine Rabbit Programme so that we can buy the digital remote camera traps we need in order to count and monitor these elusive bunnies. For the full story click here or contact Christy Bragg
Testimony to successful crane conservationFor the past 17 years the Wakkerstroom Crane Project's Field Officer, Glenn Ramke, has been monitoring cranes in the Wakkerstroom area. Most of the early nest sites still exist and many of the Blue Crane pairs from those early days are still around. However there are new pairs taking up new sites and in conversation with farmers who have been in the area for many years, if not generations, they all agree that there is an increase in Blue Cranes – not yet to what they saw as children, but more than few years ago. Glenn believes this is probably because farmers are far more aware of the environmental impact that injudicious use of poisons has and are using and storing pesticides more responsibly than in the past. Furthermore, as the farmers have grown to trust Glenn, they report crane sightings to her more often, so alerting her to the presence of cranes that she might not have known about before. This testifies to the importance of having field-based staff available to work with local communities. For more information contact Glenn Ramke.
New Primate Species Discovered in MadagascarA new species of mouse lemur has been discovered by a team of German scientists in Madagascar. The creature has been named Gerp's Mouse Lemur Microcebus gerpi in honour of the Malagasy research group Groupe d'Étude et de Recherche sur les Primates de Madagascar (GERP), which has created an inventory of the local lemurs. The lemur’s range appears to be restricted to what remains of the the lowland evergreen rain forest in eastern Madagascar, and deforestation threatens this newly discovered species. Full article available here.
International Year of Sustainable Energy for All2012 is the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, as declared by the United Nations General Assembly. It aims to raise awareness about the challenge of ensuring universal access to modern energy services, doubling the improvement rate in energy efficiency and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. These are critical points for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and for sustainable development. For more information click here.
Green DrinksThis new event aims to encourage networking and raise awareness of the EWT and the work we are doing. We aim to make this a quarterly event and look forward to meeting you.
Date: 9 February 2012
Place: to be confirmed
For further details and bookings please Contact Joy Nel on 011 372 3600 or email@example.com.
EWT Talk and Dinner – Sustainable Mining Practices and Balancing MechanismsJoin us for an informative presentation by Mariette Liefferink, CEO of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment and Associate of the Research Niche for the Cultural Dynamics of Water. Mariette presents an intriguing case study on the Witwatersrand Goldfield, which has been mined for more than a century.
Date: 21 February 2012
Time: 18:30 for 19:00
Price: Members: R50 for talk and R115 for dinner, Non-members: R75 for talk and R115 for dinner
Place: Country Club, Johannesburg. Napier Road, Auckland Park
Contact Debbie Thiart on 011 372 3600 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Super Rugby – Lions vs the CheetahsJoin us in supporting the patrons of our Carnivore Conservation Programme , the Golden Lions Rugby Union, in the first Super Rugby game of the season.
Date: 25 February 2012
Time: Kick-off is at 19:10
Place: Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg
EWT Golf DayThe EWT’s annual golf day will be held on 20 April this year. Save the date! More details to follow soon.
Date: 20 April 2012
Place: Zwartkop Country Club
Please contact Joy Nel on 011 372 3600 or email@example.com for more information.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust would like to pay tribute to the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust for their generous support during 2011.
Wild Dog conservation gets a boost