National Geographic

VOICES Voices Icon Ideas and Insight From Explorers

Menu

No Trophy Hunting in Botswana and Zambia?

Hunting Legends / www.huntinglegends.com

Botswana and Zambia, two premier wildlife destinations, recently banned all trophy hunting within a few months of each other. This move heralds a major shift in thinking about how Africa’s wildlife resources will be managed in the future. Why did they do this? In short: Corruption fueling unsustainable hunting and poaching that threatens species survival. Photographic safari operators, like Wilderness Safaris, have been taking over the premier safari destinations from hunting operations for decades. What is the future of sport hunting in Mozambique and Zimbabwe where the same problems exist?

Africa is home to the largest remaining migrations on earth, the last prides of lion, the gorillas and chimpanzees, and most of the remaining elephant and rhinoceros. All kept safe on the most valuable wildlife properties on the planet.

Are we adequately protecting priceless wildlife resources? Right now, tourists from around the world coming to Africa to photograph the continent’s wildlife are the biggest conservationists by far. The operators and establishment owners that attract these tourists by selling the dream of an African photographic safari are the new ambassadors for conservation.

“Putting bums in beds” is funding millions of square miles of protected areas throughout Africa. Ecotourism adds value to wilderness by creating jobs and teaching people to be proud of their wildlife. We need to do everything possible to make all major safari destinations in Africa accessible and marketable. Travelers must feel safe when they come to Africa.   

Africa’s “Great Work”, the extraordinary monument to the peoples of Africa, is the vast wildernesses that have remained wild since the dawn of time. This could, at long last, be the “African Century” with a united continent benefitting from vast mineral and fossil fuel reserves. More education, more opportunity, more prosperity without waste. A rising Africa wants to protect the continent’s natural heritage and global legacy.

Saving the great parks and wildernesses of Africa is becoming part of African national pride. Botswana must be proud that they have the largest remaining elephant population on earth. As South Africans we must be proud to have the largest rhino population in the world. Rwanda must be proud of the mountain gorilla. Tanzania proud of the largest lion population anywhere.

Africans are beginning to realize that our wilderness areas are not endless and that what we have left, the Serengeti, Okavango, Congo, Luangwa, Massai-Mara, Kruger, Namib… are, in fact, global treasures to be proud of. Africa needs things to be proud of in these troubled times. 

 

Carol Guy
National Geographic Expeditions "On Safari in Southern Africa By Private Air" in 2012/13. These tourists coming to photograph Africa's wildlife are probably the continent's biggest conservationists. (Carol Guy)
Brendon Cremer / outdoorphoto.co.za
An elephant's scene. "An image from the ODP photosafari that I recently led, on board the Nguni Voyager, Chobe River, Botswana. A small herd of elephants were feeding on on the banks of the river at sunset. The light had got too dark to shoot anything other than silhouettes, so with the use of a flash i managed this picture. The look-alike stars are actually insects lit up by the flash." (Brendon Cremer / outdoorphoto.co.za)
Steve Boyes
National Geographic Expedition stops to look at a clan of hyenas moving down a dry river near Mashatu Camp (Northern Tuli, Botswana). (Steve Boyes)
Stephen Cunliffe
The dogs of war, photographed by guide Stephen Cunliffe (stevecunliffe.com) at Liuwa Plains National Park, Zambia. "When a superior predator arrived, the dogs refused to go quietly and put up a staunch defence against the thieving hyena" (Stephen Cunliffe)
Hunting Legends / www.huntinglegends.com
Elephants enjoying a drink in the Mashatu area (N Tuli, Botswana) as a game drive vehicle moves past in the background. The 1,000 elephants in the area are completely habituated to vehicles and do not run away when approached. They needed to lear that the rumbling of a LandRover did not always mean trouble. (Hunting Legends / www.huntinglegends.com)
Steve Boyes
African elephants moving across a dry and dusty floodplain in the Mombo area. Breeding herds are very protective of their new borns, preferring to stay on smaller islands where there are less lions and hyenas. (Steve Boyes)
Steve Boyes
Lasting memories being created... These National Geographic Expedition guests are surrounded by the Endangered African wild dog or painted hunting dog that usually lives in fear of humans. (Steve Boyes)
Steve Boyes
African wild dogs are among the most beautiful canids on earth. On this expedition the guests saw these amazing dogs twice in the Okavango Delta, watching them playing together next to the vehicle. A privilege only made possible through habituation. (Steve Boyes)
Edward Peach
Bloodied wild dog. Photographed by Edward Peach guide of Ivory Tree Game Lodge, South Africa. "One of the Pilanesberg's wild dogs waiting for a response from the rest of the pack after calling them to share the impala that two of them caught." (Edward Peach)
Steve Boyes
National Geographic Expedition expert and guests photographing a herd of buffalo in Mala Mala along the Sand River (Sabi Sands, South Africa). (Steve Boyes)
Steve Boyes
Herd of buffalo move past the LandRover and behave as they would if lions were following them. Photographed here making more buffalo at Mala Mala. (Steve Boyes)
Steve Boyes
A large pride of lions needs to kill a buffalo or a zebra everyday to sustain itself. The Okavango Delta is the scene of an endless struggle between life and death. (Steve Boyes)
Marius Coetzee
Ray of light. Photographed by guide Marius Coetzee of Oryx Photographic Tours at Leopard Hills, South Africa. (Marius Coetzee)

 

Alarm bells ringing!!!

By the end of 2012, the alarm bells for wildlife war had been ringing for years.

Almost 700 rhino slaughtered in South Africa and Zimbabwe in a year. An estimated 25,000 elephant killed the year before all over Africa. The bushmeat and illegal wildlife trade has boomed in recent years on the continent.

Botswana protected areas raided by poachers on horseback for several years. We recorded evidence of poachers killing lechwe in what we thought was an inaccessible, untouched wilderness on the 2012 Okavango Wetland Bird Survey (www.okavangofilm.com).

Over 20% of the global population of African grey parrots are being harvested from the wild every year. Millions of green pigeons are being smoked as bushmeat in the Congo. Over 1,200 dead tree pangolins from Africa were confiscated by Indonesian authorities who discovered the 260 cartons of frozen pangolins weighing 5 tonnes.

Bushmeat markets flourish in and around Maputo in Mozambique as poaching escalates in the north. Poaching operations in Zambia are being supported by light aircraft. Illegal bushmeat is being smuggled by truck out of Tanzania. Rebel armies in central and West Africa feed themselves from the forests and grasslands. 

Is it justifiable in this day-and-age to hunt one of the last big tusker elephants for $100,000? Is it ethical to shoot crocodiles that are over 100 years old and elephants that are nearing 70?

Is it possible to conserve large tracts of land in Africa without hunting adding value to wildlife? Do we need to draw a line between sourcing organic meat for your family and shooting a prize wild animal for a trophy? Most especially do we need to hunt in unfenced wilderness areas where animals roam free or could we restrict hunting to areas managed specifically for this purpose? Prize wildlife is traded at lucrative markets, resulting in increasing trophy sizes on most game farms in South Africa. Trophy sizes are going down in all wild areas… 

 

Botswana and Zambia ban trophy hunting

Shocking declines in wildlife populations in northern Botswana 0ver the last 15-20 years has encouraged government to halt issuance of hunting licenses from January 2013, effectively banning all forms of hunting by 2014. This has been hailed by local conservationists and tourism operators as a visionary move by the President of Botswana, Lieutenant General Ian Khama, who sees the lasting legacy of being one of the only African countries left with healthy wildlife populations at the end of this decade. Hunting and photographic safari operations cannot operate alongside each other, as the latter need to habituate wildlife to game-viewer vehicles and people on foot. Hunting operations nearby makes wildlife viewing very difficult and sometimes quite dangerous. 

The Botswana Environmental Ministry explains that: “The shooting of wild game for sport and trophies is no longer compatible with our commitment to preserve local fauna.”

This move has ostracized the professional hunting community in Botswana and polarized the local safari industry. Many professional hunters may have to seek alternative employment and then have to turn to poaching. Botswana will continue issuing “special game licences” for traditional hunting by local communities (e.g San and baYei) within designated wildlife management areas. Botswana government must be ready for a reaction by poachers and unemployed hunters.

 

Zambia is also taking the threat of further declines in wildlife numbers very seriously. Last year, newly-elected Zambian President, Michael Sata, dissolved the board of the Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), stating that Zambia would halt the syndicates that have dominated their hunting industry for decades. Earlier this month, The Times of Zambia reported that hunting had been banned in 19 Game Management Areas in Zambia for a period of one year.

The Zambian Minister of Tourism and Arts, Sylvia Masebo, also closed all leopard, lion and elephant hunting across the country, basing her decision on corruption and malpractice between hunting operators and government departments. 

She also fired the Director-General of the ZAWA and launched an in-depth criminal investigation of ZAWA.

 

Botswana and Zambia are taking the preservation of their natural heritage far more seriously than previous decades. This bodes well for the designation of the Okavango Delta as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the advancement of regional partnerships like OKACOM and the Kavango-Zambezi Transfronteir Conservation Area (KAZA-TFCA).

We have opportunity in the KAZA-TFCA (Angola/Zambia/Botswana/Namibia) to create the largest protected area on earth in support of almost 50% of the world’s elephants. 

Many top economists write about “Africa rising”, as the continent gets rid of corruption and benefits more from abundant natural resources. Should we expect more hunting bans on the continent this year?

 

Hunting Legends / www.huntinglegends.com
Title: "Monster Elephant"... This old bull elephant was most likely not a monster, but rather one of the last-remaining "big tuskers" in Africa. In the 1850s there were many reports of mammoth-size elephant in the Kalahari and mammoth-size tusks were exported. Today these massive bulls are no longer seen. The wildlife of Africa needs a few decades to recover from the last few hundred years of carnage. (Hunting Legends / www.huntinglegends.com)
Global Hunting Resources / https://www.facebook.com/GlobalHuntingResources
Cape buffalo with hunter. Buffalo are the most dangerous member of the "Big 5" and are a sought after trophy in Botswana, where they are largely restricted to protected areas due to the cattle industry. (Global Hunting Resources / https://www.facebook.com/GlobalHuntingResources)
Hunting Legends / www.huntinglegends.com
Hippopotamus are the protectors of the remotest reaches of the inland deltas of Africa and have been hunted almost to extinction for their ivory throughout most of their distributional range. Dead hippo photographed here in Mozambique. Wildlife populations need to be given time to recover before further hunting is allowed in Mozambique. (Hunting Legends / www.huntinglegends.com)
Hunting Legends / www.huntinglegends.com
Crocodile shot dead on a sandbank... This 15+ foot nile crocodile was probably over 100 years old and planning on living for another few decades. If we farm crocodiles, why do we need to shoot them in the wild? (Hunting Legends / www.huntinglegends.com)
John Hart / Maurice Emetshu / www.bonoboincongo.com
"Danger in the forest"... A poacher hunting in a restricted area was caught on the camera trap. There will come a time when there are simply no birds or animals in these grand forests. What is the alternative to bushmeat? (John Hart / Maurice Emetshu / www.bonoboincongo.com)

 

Conservation value of the “tourist gaze”  

Hunting concessions on marginal land on the edge of protected areas have functioned as an effective buffer from poaching in past decades, aggressively pushing out poachers for at least part of the year. Sustainable hunting quotas are only possible if research on abundance is up-to-date and unaccounted for instances of poaching are kept very low. Poaching, poisoning, natural disasters and droughts have tipped the scales and forced trophy hunters deeper into the wilderness. Travelling by road through Africa you very quickly notice the difference between protected and unprotected areas. National Parks and reserves around Africa are predominantly financed by tourists travelling to Africa to see the “Big 5″ (elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhino). It is as if the “tourist gaze” helps the bush to blossom with abundant wildlife as wilderness flourishes.

The repeated beep of the digital cameras and rustling of tourists fiddling in their bags must be a comforting sound for wildlife that associate photographic safari operators with safe areas.

Lions and leopards lie in front of the vehicles as if basking in the safety they represent. The expectations of hundreds of thousands of tourists coming on safari and the dollars they bring has helped conserve Africa’s “Great Work”. The question is: Are there enough digital photographs to pay for Africa’s last wild places? Hunting has saved many areas from conversion to cattle farming and commercial agriculture. Game farms in South Africa are booming and all are funded through hunting. The times when trophy hunting happened outside of game farms establish for that purpose may have passed in Africa. It is now time to turn the “tourist gaze” upon the wildest places in Africa, as we showcase and protect the essence of this wild continent…

 

Life through our lenses…

By 2015, the number of digital photographs taken by Americans each year will go up to 105 billion or 322 per person, doubling the number taken in 2006. Better, cheaper digital camera technology and social media are driving the perception in most people that, if there is no photo or video, it obviously did not happen. The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s “2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation” found that 13.7 million people or 6% of the US population (16 years or older) went hunting that year, spending an estimated $34 billion. An essential contribution to the local economy at an average of $2,484 per hunter in 2011. This contribution is, however, far less than the $41.8 billion spent by 33 million recreational and sport anglers. Over 71 million people spent $55 billion on watching and/or photographing wildlife in the US in 2011.

So right now there are more Americans taking more photos than ever, and one third of them enjoy the outdoors. There are hundreds of millions of people around the world that are becoming interested in the natural world and may be interested in travelling to Africa to see African elephants or mountain gorillas one day.

More and more people are making the decision to go to Africa to see and photograph this primordial continent’s amazing wildlife. New people were going on “safari” and they put away the hunting rifle, preferring to rumbled around in open-top LandRovers to see lions, leopards, cheetah, elephant and much else up close. No shooting meant that this industry could start habituating wildlife to the presence of vehicles and tourists. The thrill of being within metres of a hunting lioness at night or having a old bull elephants lumber over to your vehicle is life-changing and hard to describe…

 

Steve Boyes
National Geographic Expedition enjoying a scenic sunset in the Mala Mala wilderness adjoining the Sand River. Land protected by our collective desire to see it so... (Steve Boyes)
Marius Coetzee
The greatest show on earth, by guide Marius Coetzee of Oryx Photographic Expeditions. Taken in the Masai Mara, Kenya. "More than 1,6 million animals take part in this migration yearly in their search for fresh grass and water. On my first afternoon in the Masai Mara my clients and I were fortunate to have a 'crossing' less then 800 meters from our camp." (Marius Coetzee)
Lee Whittam
Lion in water. "An unlikely match - water and cats - gave me this great photo opportunity." Photographer by guide Lee Whittam in the Okavango, Botswana. (essentialafrica.co.za) (Lee Whittam)
Keith Connelly
Elephant bull photographed in the blue evening light of a Super Moon by guide Keith Connelly at Marataba, South Africa. (Keith Connelly)
Warren Pearson
"Where to look" by guide Warren Pearson of Firecloud Adventures, Serengeti. "The full force of the migration. From east to west and all the way to the horizon. You battle to see a blade of grass." (Warren Pearson)
Steve Boyes
Migrating elephants spread across the fertile floodplains of Mombo where some of the world's most pristine wilderness remains... (http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/botswana_okavango_delta/mombo_camp/introduction/) (Steve Boyes)
Marlon du Toit
Forest Queen. Photographed by guide Marlon du Toit at Mana Pools National Pak, Zimbabwe "En route back to camp and in the absolute last light of day I captured this beauty at 1/60th of a second, a memory forever etched in my heart ." (marlondutoit.com) (Marlon du Toit)
Marius Coetzee / mariuscoetzee.com
Mara Sunrise "I have been dreaming of this image for many years, Giraffe being silhouetted perfectly by the African sunrise. I spend a month in the famed Masai Mara in search of the image. My client and I left before sunrise in search of our subjects and luckily for us we found a small journey of giraffe slowly walking to an open plain. We immediately got into position and waited patiently for the sun to make an appearance. The first 2 giraffes crossed and for a split second one of them turned around to keep on eye on the rest of the journey." Photographed by guide Marius Coetzee (mariuscoetzee.com) in the Mara, Kenya. (Marius Coetzee / mariuscoetzee.com)
James Kydd / Editor of Rangerdiaries.com
Sociable weavers returning to their nest. "We wanted to photograph a sociable weaver nest at sunset. From a vantage point high on the mountains we found the perfect nest, and just before sunset walked out to our third highlight of the day, flushing a scrub hare along the way. The nest was massive, it must have weighed more than a tonne and was almost touching the ground where it had bent the shepard's tree over. It was the noise that was so captivating: hundreds of the little birds shooting in and out of the nest holes, their alien chattering and squabbling filling the air. And to top it off the first barking geckos of the spring emerged from their burrows and added their iconic voices to Kalahari dusk." (James Kydd / Editor of Rangerdiaries.com)
Ryan Hillier
Cheetah cubs on the move by guide Ryan Hillier. Photographed at Kwandwe, South Africa. There are perhaps fewer than 1200 cheetah left in the wild, so seeing these four youngsters together was a real treat." (Ryan Hillier)
Marius Coetzee
Panic in the pan, by guide Marius Coetzee of Oryx Photographic Expeditions. Photographed in the Serengeti, Tanzania. (Marius Coetzee)
Antero Topp
Fischer's Lovebirds are native to a small corner of east-central Africa, S and SE of Lake Victoria in N Tanzania and have low population densities outside of protected areas due to capture for the wild-caught bird trade. Photographed here in the Serengeti National Park (Tanzania) (Antero Topp)

 

“Photographic safaris” taking over…

The recent escalation in the ivory and rhino horn trades has been shadowed by increases in the illegal trade in lion bones, live animals, birds, furs, bushmeat, and valuable timbers. Increasing wealth in the Far East has fueled trade in endangered species from around the world. The threat posed by growing markets in Asia are no different from the threat posed by Europe 200 hundred years ago. We are just at a more advanced stage with much more at stake.

During the 1890s, for example, a single trading post near the Okavango Delta bought over 50,000 tusks per month from local hunters. Today, an ivory bust of 1,000kg makes international news due to the significance to global population levels.

In the golden age of African exploration in the 1850s and 60s the first explorers, like Livingstone, Cameron, Stanley and Andersen, all financed their expeditions with tonnes of ivory shot or traded along their routes. The scrabble for Africa was, in the end, about ivory, rubber, timber and hunting grounds. In South Africa, the carnage in the 1800s and 20th century was so out-of-control that all we have to show for it today are rivers, valleys, roads, farms and buildings named in memory of the animals and trees that used to be there. The last 200 years have been catastrophic for African wildlife.

By the mid-1800s many large “game” species had already gone extinct in Western Cape, including the Cape lion, Cape warthog, “bloubok”, and “quagga”. By the early 1900s most of the lion, buffalo and elephants outside of protected areas in South Africa had been eradicated by local farmers or colonists. 

The original “safari” industry boomed after World War II with authors like Ernest Hemingway romanticizing the “great white hunter”. By the early 1970s the safari industry had hunted out vast tracts of wilderness in East Africa. Botswana and Zambia was used almost exclusively by hunting operators in these early years. Civil wars fed by bushmeat and ivory sales erupted when independence from the colonial powers came to Africa in the 1960s.

The next 30 years up until the mid-1990s were among the bloodiest in Africa’s history with innumerable elephant, hippo, lion, buffalos, wildebeest, rhino, gorilla, general game and people slaughtered by desperate poachers, ravenous armies, profiteering professional hunters, and hungry local communities in war-torn areas.

The number of guns on the continent increase with every conflict and has left Africa tatters by 2013. Wildlife numbers are lower than at any point in recorded history and local extinctions are occurring everyday. Hunters were the pioneers of Africa’s wilderness areas, but now that all of these have been discovered, we must look to photographic safaris as the primary economic driver. The global tourism market has shifted to a new generation of traveller from the US and Far East that grew up watching the National Geographic Channel and BBC Wildlife. Wildlife photography and ecotourism are massive growth industries and Africa is one of the main destinations. Governments around Africa see ecotourism development in remote areas as an important potential land-use. 

The photographic safari industry in Africa has grown exponentially for the last three decades with over 30,000 established hotels, backpackers, camps, guest houses, and lodges spread across the continent that host millions of tourists.

By the turn of the millenium most of the recognized wildlife destinations in Africa had shifted from being all hunting in the 1950s to mostly photographic safaris in 2000. Small hunting camps were gradually replaced with much bigger lodges and hotels with more to contribute to local communities. Low-impact photographic safaris are the way of the future.

 

Marlon du Toit
Those eyes. "As a hyena approached the base of the tree, this ten-month old leopard cub looked up at his mother for re-assurance." Photographed by guide Marlon du Toit at Singita, South Africa. (singita.com). (Marlon du Toit)
Lee Whittam / essentialafrica.co.za
"Part of the well known lion prides of Wilderness Safaris Duba Plains Camp in the heart of the Okavango Delta, Botswana. This was one of 9 kills we witnessed during the course of a 4 day safari there." (Lee Whittam / essentialafrica.co.za)
Keith Connelly
The dwindling few. Black rhino photographed by guide Keith Connelly at Kariega, South Africa. Over 600 black and white rhinoceros have been slaughtered this year in South Africa, the last remaining stronghold of these creatures. Conservation authorities do not have the finances or manpower to effectively combat the trade driven by China and Vietnam. (Keith Connelly)
Dave Pusey
Showing off for mom, by guide Dave Pusey, photographed at Leopard Hills, South Africa. "A week old giraffe calf found it's feet and decided to show off its new found agility to its mother, and us!" (Dave Pusey)
Steve Boyes
The abundance of life on a floodplain in the center of the Okavango Delta. Wildlife in the Moremi Game Reserve has not been hunted for generations and have always been seen as the "royal hunting grounds". What will a ban on all commercial hunting achieve? (Steve Boyes)
Amy Attenborough
Cheetah at dusk. Photographed by guide Amy Attenborough at And Beyond Phinda. "A male cheetah climbs a tree to scan his surroundings, looking for potential prey, as well as predators." (Amy Attenborough)
Art Wolfe / www.artwolfe.com
A hippopotamus interupts a flock of flamingos feeding in Lake Narasha (Kenya). A wonderful interaction in the wild captured from above. (Art Wolfe / www.artwolfe.com)
Dave Pusey
Pangolin. Photographed by guide Dave Pusey at Leopard Hills, South Africa. This shy, secretive ant and termite eater, hunted for its meat and supposed magical and medicinal properties, is rarely seen. (Dave Pusey)
Greg Smith
Lions and zebra. Photographed by guide Greg Smith of And Beyond Safaris at Madikwe, South Africa. "The muscles in the legs of the lion are almost as impressive as the fact that this zebra was still able to stand" (Greg Smith)
Louis Lock / www.drifters.com
Painted reed frog, (Louis Lock / www.drifters.com)
Martin Heigan
Rhino calf chasing ostrich. "A very playful baby white rhinoceros calf having fun with the wildlife. The ostriches and warthogs didn't enjoy the game as much as the mischievous little rhino". (Martin Heigan)

 

Is “game farming” the future of trophy hunting in Africa?

Smoked bushmeat can be transported in large quantities by porters, cyclists, boatman and drivers travelling thousands of miles from source to market. Consumers in distant markets have no connection to the remote forests these smoked antelope and monkey body parts came from and purchase them gladly. The vast forests of the Congo Basin are currently being denuded of all animal life by the bushmeat trade. In most areas, elephant and buffalo are long gone, as are grey parrots, monkeys and small antelope. Local hunters and commercial poachers now focus on catching tree pangolins, small antelope, snakes and anything else they can find in the forest. Millions of green pigeons are being captured to be smoked alive for bushmeat. Banning trophy or sport hunting in Zambia and Botswana could simply open up new areas for poachers. Unemployed professional hunters could become poachers themselves. The facts remain that wildlife numbers are declining rapidly and the trophy hunting industries in both Botswana and Zambia were corrupt and poorly managed. Both countries need to insure that the loss of revenue from hunting is quickly supplemented by growth in the ecotourism industry. Local conservation authorities and partnered NGOs will have to step up anti-poaching operations and make a final decision on whether to ban hunting and focus on photographic safaris or continue using wildlife management areas with hunting as a potential land-use. We need to make the right decisions and support them with subsidies and loans to stimulate positive growth. Shutting down hunting won’t solve the catastrophic decline of wildlife populations in Africa, investing local governments and communities in the future of Africa’s great wild places will give us a chance at saving this wilderness.

Today, hunting in the developed world is done mostly on well-managed private lands and remote wilderness areas were hunting quotas effectively restrict excessive off-take. Trophy hunting is highly regulated with permit and license systems that support stewardship and ecological balance. This is the theory and most of the time it works. Ownership of land and fenced-off wildlife has funded the conservation of vast tracts of land in the developed world.
In South Africa, “game farming” has been the fastest-growing agricultural land-use for many years with cattle farms being restored to natural habitat and indigenous species re-introduced. Things are moving quickly in this new world of ours with social media causing revolutions and uniting the world in a new shared global awareness of the issues facing our blue planet. It our responsibility as a global community of Earth’s citizens to reach out to those who do not have the opportunities we have for reflection on the changes happening around us, on the imminent threat to species survival in our forests, at our poles, in our oceans, and across landscapes. 
Credit crunch or not, fiscal cliff or not, we need to tighten our belts, live with less and give more. I am not necessarily talking about donating money, I am talking about investing your mind power and energy in a new future. We do not need to riot or burn things. We need to act for the good of each other and break the cycle of mistrust that fuels the current destruction of our planet.
Think about other people, think about climate change, live a mindful life that recognizes the impact of your decisions and actions. There are more and more people around the world that save money to travel to the wildest places on earth to appreciate their natural beauty and gaze in wonder at creatures greater than ourselves. We need all people on earth to have the privilege of travelling one day to a remote wilderness to be surrounded by the abundance of life and realize that we cannot exist without nature close by. In the dictum of Henry David Thoreau: “In wildness is the salvation of the world”…

Selection of photograph by Ranger’s Diaries, the “Top 25 Photographs from the Wilderness”:

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/12/03/top-25-photographs-from-the-wilderness-1/

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/12/10/top-25-photographs-from-the-wilderness-2/

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/12/20/top-25-photographs-from-the-wilderness-3/

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/01/11/top-25-photographs-from-the-wilderness-4/

 

The “Ranger Revolution” is an effort to recruit as many people around the world as possible as ambassadors of the wilderness in their local communities, sharing photographs and stories that encourage others to visit the wilderness and help the world pay for the protection of the globally important wilderness areas that we cannot do without. We need more wildlife photographers sharing the wonder and beauty of the natural world as widely as possible… Follow at: http://www.rangerdiaries.com/

Comments

  1. Kirk Hoffman
    Zambia
    May 17, 5:43 am

    Rodney Kings famous quote “why can’t we all just get along” comes to mind when I consider the huge challenge faced in conserving our wildlife heritage. There is more in common than we care to admit. For example both hunter and non-hunter agree that wildlife habitat is the single biggest threat to wildlife in Africa, with poaching coming in a close 2nd. Similarly, we both agree that local communities must benefit from the very wildlife that often threatens their very existence. These people do not see an Elephant as some majestic creature that needs to be protected when their 2 acre mealie plot has been wiped out in a single night or their cow killed by the “King of the beast”. Both sides want to conserve wildlife and I would hazard to guess that a good portion of the numbers quoted as “Photographic tourists” in this article are in fact hunters themselves. Both sides spend whatever they can afford, to pursue their dream, whether it be a photo safari in the Amboseli Nat’l Park -or- pursuing a bull elephant in a hunting concession. Both contribute to the conservation of the species. And there is the divergence of opinion- consumptive or non-consumptive conservation and yet both are needed to tackle the huge challenges facing wildlife and the so badly needed wildlife habitat. A pragmatic approach to saving wildlife is needed if it is to survive, not idealistic, entrenched viewpoints.

  2. Munali
    April 11, 7:42 am

    I read the first few lines and my blood began to boil. What do you mean “tourists with cameras are the biggest conservationists so far”. Why do you people always try to appropriate goof everything from everyone. The little amounts of money that the foreign tour operators allow to sift to the local government is not what keeps our national parks going. The reason why we have these animals is because our countries have reserved huge tracts of land for the exclusive habitation of wildlife. The governments then spend their precious resources policing these areas to mitigate the rampant decimation of these animals for the profit of foreigners who are at the root of poaching, and also purporting to be tour operators. I do not think that most foreigners realise that they are foreigners. This is our land, and it will never be yours. You are welcome to visit, but please do not imagine that the little you do is what enables our national partks to continue.

  3. Terri
    California
    March 21, 1:23 pm

    It absolutely amazes me that some people don’t know the difference between livestock and wild life.

  4. P Ackroyd
    March 19, 11:59 am

    can you believe this , for American massacrers …to go on holiday breaks . Massacring their endangered animals into extinction !!! and creating a humanitarian disaster. this is the real cost of trophy massacring .. and it can not continue , the richest people in the world exploiting the poorest . No , not in 2014 it can’t .
    “To President Jakaya Kikwete:
    As citizens from around the world, we call on you to oppose any attempt to evict Maasai from their traditional land or require them to relocate to make way for foreign hunters. We are counting on you to be a champion for your people and stop any attempt to change their land rights against their will. ”

    https://secure.avaaz.org/en/stand_with_the_maasai_b/?aQweebb

    They’re kicking us off our land to hunt lions
    http://www.avaaz.org
    Our government is doing the unthinkable to our people — all so rich princes can hunt lions and leopards. But we know attention can stop them. Please click here to help us.

    They’re kicking us off our land to hunt lions
    http://www.avaaz.org
    Our government is doing the unthinkable to our people — all so rich princes can hunt lions and leopards. But we know attention can stop them. Please click here to help us.

  5. P Ackroyd
    United Kingdom
    March 19, 11:47 am

    this is fantastic news , and i hope this encourages other countries in the world and Africa to realise there is more worth , for the animals in Africa to be alive. As soon as the Trophy Massacrers and The American Corporations Safaris are demonised and removed totally from the world , the critically endangered animals in the world are not safe. Fortunately they are creating real hatred towards them, and being rightfully blamed alongside the poachers , by billions of ordinary people , and it is hoped that in the near future laws will be changed in America before people of the world start targeting the really evil corrupt Americans at the very top of their society doing this. However , i live in hope ….

  6. Daniel Stoner
    USA
    March 15, 10:48 pm

    So let me get this straight – the solution proposed to declining species numbers, which is explicitly attributed to (a) habitat loss, and (b) poaching / corruption (not hunting), is to ban the one thing which, not only is not the problem, but actually exacerbates the known and identified problems? Since banning hunting takes hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars per year away from fighting corruption/poaching, and also away from money for conservation / preservation of lands. Brilliant.

  7. Daniel Stoner
    USA
    March 15, 10:44 pm

    The anti-hunting ignorance is just utterly mind-boggling. We KNOW what happens when hunting is banned, by just looking at Kenya – what happens is wildlife populations are DECIMATED. Hunting saves wildlife. Anyone who is for a hunting ban is also for decimation of species. You can theorize all you want to the contrary; but that’s the reality.

  8. Dante
    CA
    January 20, 4:04 am

    If you believe in “non-consumptive safaris” you could help by stop breathing for 30 minutes.

    After burning 20 tons of querosene (oil) in the upper atmosphere and arriving in Africa to take your first round at the toillet you have already done huge harm.

    There are SCIENTIFIC papers, demonstrating that you need 7 tourists on photographic safaris of EACH hunting client. And these papers DEMONSTRATE, being any doubt, that the harm to the environment is LARGER, per each dollar generated, than hunting.

    In addition, any ANTHROPOLOGICAL study has shown that you are WRONG in destroying the local culture. The local culture of Botswana is HUNTING and eating wild animals. Zimbabwe and Tanzania, have demonstrated that controlled safaris are far better conservation than banning hunting.

    Fix what is wrong! Stop corruption! But banning hunting will destroy those animals populations OUTSIDE the parks. As it has already happened in Kenya.

    What a short sight. I just want the Jouberts and the Leckeys to ACCEPT FULL RESPONSABILITY for what happened in Kenya. They are the wrongdoers, they are the culprits, they now have to be ACCOUNTABLE for their destruction.

    And you too my friend, as this article was totally biased. You will share the responsibility.

  9. Gwen hayes
    USA
    October 21, 2013, 9:18 pm

    Having spent part of the last four years in Botswana, and Zambia, I can assure you that we must save the Elephants, Lions, Rhinos, Hippos, and all the magnificent animals that are there. Each lodge I stayed in, employed a
    minimum of eighty plus local people. If you allow poaching to destoy the wildlife, thousands of jobs across Africa will be
    lost. The professional hunters now, seem to be a bad lot,
    that want to kill anything to feed their egos. There was a time
    when they did help control poaching, but that was before the
    huge presence of the Chinese in Africa. Now poachers are
    armed mercenaries, who are better armed than the local armies. Ivory has become the cocaine of Africa. The same
    men who run commercial hunting operations, have the chance to change what they do, and hunt poachers instead
    of animals….
    to

  10. Russ Gould
    USA
    October 14, 2013, 7:41 pm

    Without Trophy hunting, and the associated incentive to preserve habitat and control poaching, all the animals will become bush meat, as has happened in Kenya. There are more wild animals in South Africa than at any time in recorded history. No thanks to photographers, who spend very little on their safaris; it’s hunting dollars that have brought the animals back. Same in Namibia. Zimbabwe is a wildlife disaster … not because of hunting, rather due to the government’s “land reform” policies. The only thing I agree with is the sentiment, expressed by some posters, that there are too many people. Ban fornication not hunting if you want to save wildlife.

  11. Riaan Dames
    South Africa
    August 25, 2013, 8:48 am

    It is so interesting to follow the whole conversation about no hunting and photographic safaris. It seems that the industrial era and so-called civilization has removed a large quantity of humans so far away from nature that they believe that what they eat and consume every day, is manufactured by the machines that they have produced to enable themselves to put the tag of “civilization”(read self destructive ) around their necks. Those same individuals who’s crying for a ban on human consumption of wildlife, are flying in “human made aircraft” and are driving in “first world technology” to take pictures of the last remnants of nature remaining in the so called “dark continent” where by the grace of god their “industrial orientated minds” haven’t had the same influence than in their backyards! Back at home they continue with their highly civilized lifestyles, burning billions of liters of fossil fuels on a daily basis, directly contributing to a world wide bush encroachment and forest infestation problem whereby Africa is going to suffer most, due to its dependence on natural resources. Those same “civilized” individuals have helped to maintain a human population totally out of balance with the natural resources of the world!

    The consequences that the out of balance human population of the world is running out of food quicker than we ever predicted. Now the same people who is mainly responsible for the world and especially Africa’s over population turns literally into a “state witness” in a case where they should be the “main accused”. Suddenly they want to turn an African wilderness where humans and nature has co-evolved for centuries into an area “where they can photograph the last remaining wilderness of the world” in a last attempt to turn “state witness” and in the process pay millions of dollars to a few “civilized” individuals who enjoys more or less the same “lifestyle” quality “earned by an industrialized mindset”, while the “indigenous” population of Africa, who were co-existing with nature for centuries, have to steal and poach their own natural heritage to stay alive in an industrial era where the so called civilized world has managed to increase the human population of the world far over its ecological sustainable threshold.
    This photographic dream is l eventually going to be destroyed by the direct results of “civilization”, unless a world wide revolution is going to assist the indigenous people of Africa to also make a “human living” in the last continent with some real wilderness left. The point is photographic safaris is not going to feed the “artificial overpopulated world”. Lets strive towards ecological balance wherein the conservation of resources at least contribute in a controlled manner towards food security for the millions of hungry people of the world. Those anti hunt, anti utilization fraternity should just do a few things before they come to take their photographs, stop destroying African savannas and woodlands by creating markets for products originating from African woodlands. Also stop utilizing fossil fuels(coal and oil) which is busy destroying millions of hectares of natural resources in Southern Africa, thus reducing land for food production. Also stop eating all the processed food you buy from the “industrialized world”, since you still contribute towards the destruction of the same wilderness you want to save with your pictures. Stop eating all the vegetables and fruit you buy at your industrialized shops. The production of that fruit and vegetables have destroyed millions of hectares of wilderness around the world, yet you are prepared to continue to buy them, while you deny the “non civilized” people the right to produce their own” by trying to “own the last piece of wilderness” in a manner that acts as a smoke screen between what you have done in your own countries and what you’re trying to save to try and prevent your grand children to brand you as the most self-destructive era of human existence. First show us examples of how you have restored wilderness in your countries of origin, before you attempt to show us how to conserve something, which condemn humans as part of the natural ecosystem.

  12. Christopher M. Spellman
    Indiana, United States
    August 7, 2013, 11:28 pm

    It is sickening to see the comments here so totally devoid of reasoning. Legal hunting is important to conservation, but the most ignorant ignore the benefits, including the economic impact hunting has for the locals. One need only look at how wildlife in Kenya has been decimated by poachers and a lack of managed hunting. The anti-hunting lobby is woefully uninformed.

  13. afaelnar
    USA
    August 6, 2013, 9:01 am

    To shoot wild animals using high-powered rifles is totally unfair. If folks want to hunt them, hunt them using the bare hands. That way, the hunter and the hunted are on the same footing and makes hunting a lot more exciting and fun.

  14. Rhyan Rudman
    South Africa
    August 6, 2013, 1:16 am

    Why do humans have this need to KILL, why could they the TROPHY HUNTERS not just donate the abundance of money they have to protect these animals why are they only prepared to protect if they can have exclusive rights to kill them in the end. It really does not make any sense to me one elephant could be photographed a thousand times by photo safaris yet it is more feasible for one DUM ASS to kill it.

  15. shaun
    August 6, 2013, 12:50 am

    Lets all face it, trophy hunting isnt becuase any animal is overpopulated, elephants overpopulated? give me a break there being wiped out…trophy hunting is allowed because it makes quick bucks for land owners and governments..but the thing is the tourism industry makes more, when people like me found out that trophy hunting is allowed i swore to never go to africa and i know of others who did to. so what would african countries rather do? allow blood thristy hunters to kill your remaining wildlife for quick bucks or ban it and welcome the millions of animal loving tourists each year..until its all banned im never going near the place..they dont deserve my money..the only creature thats overpopulated is man…

  16. Van Frietz
    Botswana
    June 10, 2013, 3:29 am

    Sustainable hunting is necessary for conservation of African wildlife. For example: Elephants in Botswana are becoming over populated in areas, which leads to indigenous farmers poisoning/poaching them in order to protect their livelihood. These creatures are not pets, they are wild animals. I know many people who have been stomped by elephants, bitten by hippos, and eaten by leopards. Respect them as “wild” life, escape your artificial realm for a moment and return to reality. We are all descendants of hunters.

  17. Ar.L
    India
    May 5, 2013, 11:44 pm

    Sounds good. Needed to hear something like this for a long time now. American and European hunters have decimated Africa’s lion population, hunting over- quotas, leopards and elephant in the name of their ridiculous conservation which is bull-crap. Everybody knows this and it is no surprise that the new ministers have dissolved the wildlife boards, knowing very well that the so-called “conservation money” does not go to conservation. YouTube is full of videos of cowardly American hunters shooting lions in the back, then laughing at the “adrenaline rush” not having given the animal the chance to defend itself. Shooting leopards from trees like true cowards, white rhinos shot from the back and later in the spine. Hope these new policies can work for and bring in more people who would get an opportunity to see black maned lions, instead of dead ones on Google, with dumb American cowards. Here:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/mar/01/african-lions-american-hunter-trophies

    http://www.questia.com/library/1P2-1801655/rich-tourist-trophy-hunters-are-wiping-out-african

  18. susan.stovell
    south africa cape town
    May 3, 2013, 3:46 am

    Any animal shot theses days is a huge lost for the planet. There should be a NO HUNTING law passed in every country especially here in South Africa. To pose in front of a camera with an animal you have shot for fun, just lets everyone know you are and idiot and should not be called a MAN. No real MAN shouts for fun. If you fine a picture posted of a hunter send him a note or post it on your timeline with a comment. We all need to take a stand before it is to late.

  19. josette
    April 8, 2013, 9:44 pm

    @ Bud Wulforst: it is not because photographers tourist are actually not good for the environnement than hunting is an acceptable thing. That stupid
    murderer have to be punished and stopped. Because of them how many animals suffer and species disappear ?
    You, “innocent” humans, can’t you just respect the other alive being in the earth?Is it so difficult to understand what is an ethical way of life?

  20. josette
    paris
    April 8, 2013, 9:24 pm

    I hate that hunting stupid ridiculous people and I just hope they will be killed one day, just to see what they can’t see: what they are: crual and disgusting !

  21. Greg Chilcote
    United States
    April 7, 2013, 1:09 am

    Habitat loss, Commercial, quasi-commercial meat hunting, unregulated subsistence and ivory hunting for profit are the primary dangers to African wildlife today. To the contrary, sport hunting places real, measurable and considerable economic value on the resource, benefiting the locals and enlisting their support in conserving the wildlife as sustainable and renewable resources worthy of ongoing protection and husbandry. In country after country the cessation of sport hunting has corresponded with the destruction of the wildlife and wild places in those countries. Without a ‘value’ to the local people the wildlife ceases to be ‘valued’ and becomes a consumable and disposable commodity; witness the recent slaughter of Chad’s elephants to feed the Chinese ivory trade. Don’t destroy Africa through ignorance and pre, but ill conceived, notions of the true and lasting danger to the wild spaces.

  22. Virtuagirl
    February 9, 2013, 8:19 pm

    My partner and I stumbled over here by a different page and thought I may as well check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to looking at your web page for a second time.

  23. Bud Wulforst
    January 25, 2013, 7:55 pm

    Legal, managed hunting is a plus for most areas of the world, including Africa. Ecotourism is also a big economic gain for Africa, but consider the load on the environment that thousands of photographers create as compared to a few hunters. Done properly, hunting is very noninvasive and a boon to the local people and wildlife. Management and balance using rational processes are the only logical ways to save our wildlife populations.

  24. James Kydd
    South Africa
    January 25, 2013, 1:20 pm

    Very important article, thanks Steve

  25. Matt M
    Zambia
    January 25, 2013, 2:27 am

    Just to clarify further, hunting has only been banned in the 19 Zambian concessions that were up for tender in 2012. All other preexisting concession agreements are still valid and can be hunted, the exception being a new blanket ban on cat hunting for 2013 but preexisting quota on all other species are still there…

  26. Matt M
    Zambia
    January 23, 2013, 7:19 am

    I’d be cautious on too much optimism for Zambia, the decision to ban hunting is only for the 2013 season and is driven more by complications and corruption around the most recent tender process. It is certainly not being driven by a paradigm shift in thinking by ZAWA or the government. I would expect to see normal hunting business resumed in 2014, there is too much money to be made for it to be otherwise.

  27. Herbert M. Mwanza
    Harare, Zimbabwe
    January 23, 2013, 2:08 am

    Bold decisions being taken indeed by Zambia and Botswana worth emulating by others. As a schoolboy way back in 1970, on a school excursion through the Kafue National Park (Zambia) from Namwala to Nteme Tree Tops camp, I remember the large variety of wildlife seen on the way, and assurances of seeing game along the different loops then, including the Big 5! In 2011, passing through the same route more or less – and seeing a disappointing absence of such originally rich variety! Yes, so many reasons, but we need to respect and preserve what one of the nearby traditional leaders called ‘the animal kingdom.’ I tend to agree with him! But we must allow for systems that will indeed bring back the lost kingdom! It will require investment and management and policy and regulation. We need to protect such areas for that natural kingdom that was so designated! This is of both national parks and that of game management areas. The issue of both professional/legal and illegal ‘hunting/poaching’ needs to be reviewed. There are proposals for ‘partnership parks’ or something like that ‘in the air!’ and likely to be associated with airstrips, a variety of professionals – usually from afar! In whose interests would these be? The people of Zambia rightly, in my opinion, designated such lands for wildlife and biodiversity! Let us respect that land use allocation for the benefit of ourselves, others from elsewhere of both the present and those still to come! Away with the greedy ones! Let us strengthen the authority of the CRBs not to fall trap but preserve these ‘animal kingdoms’ where man agrees to not just preserve (national parks) but co-exist (GMAs).

  28. ThomasTorrisi
    home
    January 23, 2013, 1:49 am

    I think you should arrest anyone that are caught in the act hunting or pouching animals that are common or rare .

  29. louis w. raypon
    philippines
    January 22, 2013, 10:15 pm

    to protect and preserve these animals in the wild and let them be in their playground/habitat is utmost….