News from Around Africa

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Pedro vaz Pinto, the man who monitors the Giant Sable via the infrared cameras purchased with the assistance of Brendan O’Keeffe from South Africa and Dallas Safari Club, was honored with the 2006 Whitley Award at a ceremony in London at the Royal Geographic Society, presided by Princess Anne. The award was not only an honor for vaz Pinto’s contribution to Giant Sable conservation, but was sweetened by £30,000 dedicated to the project.

Vaz Pinto further reported that some more photos of breeding animals were taken and it appears that most females photographed were pregnant. Unfortunately the photographs revealed no sign of the bull! Unfortunately there were also incidents of poaching near the Ombe River discovered by a routine patrol operation. Realizing he had been spotted, the poacher fired three shots and the patrol returned fire. An AK-47 plus a bicycle and a backpack with clothes were found on the scene.

The foot and mouth outbreak in Botswana has not been affected hunting operations in the country. The Botswana Wildlife Management Association (BWMA) confirmed this and further informed that the disease outbreak might, however, cause certain delays in the export of trophies.

A 76 year old man was trampled to death by an elephant at a cattle post in Botswana. Another man was killed by an elephant last year in the same area. Area MP P. Kedikilwe said the growing number of elephant in the district is of great concern as they compete for land and resources with people.

Almut Kronsbein has been appointed as new Namibian Professional Hunters’ Association (NAPHA) CEO as from 1 June 2006. Carlin Sobotta took on the position of Executive Secretary, Natasha Sheldon, who is currently responsible for the capturing of Scientific Data will also resume front office duties and Barbara von Marschall will be primarily responsible for sales etc. The NAPHA office can be contacted at [email protected]

The annual Outjo catalogue game auction had 885 animals on offer and a turnover in excess of N$3 million with 36 buyers from all over Namibia participating. The top price for a white rhinoceros was N$180,000. Roan antelope fetched N$60,000, waterbuck and nyala an average price of N$8,000 and N$9,500 respectively; the highest price for sable antelope reached N$32,000, red lechwe sold for N$15,000 and eland went for N$5,000.

The current outbreak of rabies in kudu started about two years ago in the Wilhemstal area, but has also shown up east of Windhoek and southeast of Otjiwarango. Cases have also been reported at Omitara. The deadly viral disease is believed to be a consequence of an over-population of kudu, which then facilitates a rapid spread of the virus from one dense population to another through saliva and grooming. In particular, infection appears to occur when an uninfected animal browses a shrub that has just been browsed by an infected animal. Thus, moist saliva from the infected animal that is left on the shrub then is passed into the mouth of the uninfected animal as it browses there. The current outbreak has not been nearly as severe as the outbreaks in the past have been, but it is still possible that the disease could intensify during the next year or two.

Sierra Leone
The first ever photograph of a wild pygmy hippo has been taken by a camera trap during a ground-breaking wildlife survey of war-torn Sierra Leone. Hexaprotodon liberiensis is classified as "vulnerable" on the World Conservation Union's (IUCN) Red List of endangered species. Populations of these elusive hippos have been fragmented and in severe decline for many years, so much so that biologists feared it would soon follow its Madagascan cousin, Hippopotamus madagascariensis, into extinction. But the new sighting and the results of an extensive "search for survivors" suggest that the hippos have managed to endure the severe pressures of loss of habitat and subsistence hunting by rebel soldiers during 12 years of brutal civil war, says Sanjayan Muttulingam, lead scientist at The Nature Conservancy in Washington DC, which carried out the study. "The pygmy hippo is probably the rarest large mammal you could find in Africa." It most likely owes its survival to the fact that it lives in very inhospitable marshes and forests.

South Africa
Two members of the Gumbi community from northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, were taken on a visit to Damaraland in Namibia with the WWF/Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Black Rhino Range Expansion Project. The Gumbi community recently won a land-claim on 30,000 hectares of previously white-owned land in KwaZulu-Natal. As the land is good black rhino habitat and had been managed as successful game ranches, the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project is working closely with the new landowners to encourage them to become a future Project site rather than convert the land to subsistence cattle farming.

Accompanied by Chris Weaver (WWF Life Project) the Gumbi representatives visited community-run conservancies to get an understanding of the different business and institutional models that Namibian conservancies have adopted. The Gumbi land may have to be run more as a business with shareholders than a community-based conservancy. This is because the members of the Gumbi clan are widespread across the country and have not actually been on the land concerned for many years, unlike the situation in Namibia where conservancies are run by communities which live on the land.

South Africa
In a freak hunting accident 16-year-old Ryan Dankwerts was instantly killed when a ricocheting rock fragment hit the young man under the ear. Ryan was one of a group of 13 relatives and friends who went hunting to celebrate the start of the new hunting season last Saturday. The accident happened when the group of hunters spotted a bushbuck and all shot at the animal. A police spokesperson confirmed that a rock fragment was found in Ryan's skull and said that "one bullet might have hit a stone or a piece of rock and a fragment must have ricocheted and hit the boy under his right ear."

South Africa
Dr Peet van der Merwe and Prof. Melville Saayman published a national survey of the local South African hunting market. According to the study, which followed a 2004 pilot study in North West Province, the country’s approximately 200,000 hunters are estimated to spend close to three billion Rand per year, two thirds of that amount being spent on game alone. This figure comes very close to the 2.935 billion Rand published in G R Damm’s 2005 article "Hunting in South Africa: Facts, Risks, Opportunities". We noted however that an article in "Farmer’s Weekly" of 9th June 2006, about the vd Merwe/Saayman study mentioned that the local hunters "completely outperform international trophy hunters" who, according to the article only spend about 263 million Rand. This figure is definitely incorrect, since our detailed studies show that approximately 7,000 visiting hunters spent almost 900 million Rand in 2004. The expression "Complete Outperformance" is therefore somewhat biased, to say the least.

Chief Secretary Philemon Luhanjo said the Director of Wildlife in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Emmanuel Severe, was right in refusing to accept the transfer order given by his permanent secretary. Minister Anthony Diallo had asked his permanent secretary to transfer Severe and other directors from the ministry's headquarters, but they decided to stay put. Severe himself was supposed to go to the Forestry Institute in Arusha. Luhanjo said the PS violated public service regulations when he wrote transfer letters to Severe and the others who are presidential appointees. He said before doing so he should have asked for a clearance from the president who appointed the directors in the first place. "The PS also demoted them, and that was another mistake. I had to cancel out the order not to protect them but to defend the rule of law. If the PS is not satisfied he can complain to the president," Luhanjo emphasized. With this action Luhanjo in fact, overruled not only the PS but also Minister Diallo. It is reported that a Committee of Enquiry will start looking into hunting administration and that public pressure is mounting with a number of critical newspaper articles having appeared. Donors are also reported to be highly critical of the present situation

Andrew Kasirye, a lawyer previously serving on the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the mismanagement of the Global Fund against Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis has been appointed Chairman of Board of Directors of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to replace John Nagenda. The appointment took effect from May 3rd 2006. Kasirye will serve for three years.

Minister Kabinga Pande has dissolved the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) management board that was appointed in January 2005. He announced in a statement yesterday that the dissolution of the board that was constituted on a three-year term was necessitated by the need to re-align the membership so that it could effectively play its role as stipulated in the ZAWA Act of 1998. The composition of the board should have had a diversity of requisite experience to enable it help Government in effectively over-seeing the ZAWA management. He commended the outgoing ZAWA board for its invaluable contribution especially in the recruitment of ZAWA director-general who assumed office in May.

Source: African Indaba – an electronic newsletter as a public service for hunter-conservationists and all people who are interested in the conservation, management and the sustainable use of Africa’s wild natural resources. African Indaba is published six times a year and distributed free-of-charge via e-messaging service. You can subscribe to the full newsletter by sending an email with your full address to [email protected].