VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
Tag archives for Africa
The vultures of Jaldessa Conservancy in northern Kenya are flourishing amidst the livestock and Borana people of this region.
Honey Bees are just one of many bee species important for pollination. Stingless bees, some 500 odd species of them, provide valuable pollination services for crops in tropical and neo-tropical areas, and produce distinctive honey that is used in traditional medicines.
Post submitted by Lise Hanssen, Project Coordinator of Kwando Carnivore Project If there was checklist for setting up a lion conflict mitigation project in rural Namibia (or anywhere else I would imagine), first on the list would be engaging with the affected community. In the case of the Chobe floodplains, this means seven conservancies with…
With sore shoulders and tired legs, completely weighed down by our gear and equipment, we ambled into Maseru like pack mules. It is still difficult to catch my breath and decipher my thoughts and feelings about this place. As an outsider with a callow amount of international experience, the warmth and camaraderie is present enough…
Your latest trek through a part of central Africa that would be inaccessible for all but a very few people — hundreds of miles’ footslogging across roadless lands often devoid of people and large wildlife — was quite an adventure. You ran into some sketchy situations, including being attacked in the middle of the night by a swarm of hungry ants looking for a fleshy meal. How does this expedition fit in with — and add to — your previous explorations and experience in Africa?
At the conclusion of his 290-mile transect through the Central African Republic, National Geographic Explorer J. Michael Fay shares his big-picture observation of what he’s seen, heard and understood: The regression from colonial occupation and post-colonial nation states is making way for the ancient fault lines in the region’s geography and population dynamics. If the world at large hopes to salvage nation states in this region of Africa, the solution lies in knowing the history, the land, the people and a state presence that applies land-use management as its primary tool. It can be done; law and order can exist. Programs like the Chinko Project that work at that fundamental level, helping to manage the wildlife, vegetation, soil, water, creating organization, employment, law and order, are absolutely necessary.
The price of ivory in China has dropped by 2/3 since 2014. Can that help save living elephants?
I heard Yaya stirring and looked at my watch: 02h20. I said, Yaya it is two AM. He said: “I am ready”. Then I heard Herve and Felix. No use, time to get up.
Yaya said he heard the cattle come down to the river and he couldn’t sleep. Maybe he was a little apprehensive about our friends camping close by. Even I was getting paranoid thinking I gave this guy Cipro; if he is allergic or gets suddenly worse they will coming looking for us in the night thinking we poisoned him.
We got going just before dawn. We could still hear the cows and donkeys across the river and got a good bearing on them, so this is the first objective of the day.
We reached the river again after climbing one last hill. We saw both warthogs and giant forest hogs along the river. Also big news, very old tracks of a very large male hippo. He passed several months ago.
We can hear burros and people cutting a honey tree across the river; we will try to find them tomorrow morning.
Herve killed three tilapia and three polypteris fish with his machete. He also made the mistake of hitting an electric catfish. He said the shock that went right through the handle almost knocked him out.
The slave-raiding here continued well into the beginning of the 20th Century. Cherry saw first-hand, just before the turn of the century, the devastation of villages, and slavers on raids. He witnessed cannibalism on a large scale, of the people who were not considered to be fit to be slaves. So these bits of pottery here are the remnants of one of those villages that may have gotten raided. It was nestled deep in the hills. Further to the north here I have seen entire alternate villages built into the rocky hills for protection from the raiders.
We reached the river at our target around noon. The water has also come up here. Took an afternoon stroll and saw fresh waterbuck tracks. In the evening, when the sun is going down and it starts to cool off, I am struck by four things: the beauty, the enormity, the thought of all this habitat that is intact (yet empty), and a mixed feeling of desperation and sadness that not more has been done to protect this gem on Earth.
As we cross the landscape, I am snapping pictures of the various vegetation types, and thinking about restoring this place. Compared to endless places around the world, I thought this place is like a city for animals that is completely equipped: the water and lights work, the buildings are in place, it just lacks the wildlife. I think about old sheep farms in South Africa, where they remove the sheep, restore the vegetation and watersheds, and bring back every species of large mammal that existed there before. Here, compared to the millions of hectares already restored in South Africa, this place is a piece of cake. The savanna, its forest, grass cover, creeks and rivers, and the remnants of fauna are all here.
The team walked well. We reached the Chinko at 11h30 of marching. The water levels seem to be quite a bit lower now than when we passed by earlier. We found a beautiful spot to camp, with rocks and sandy beaches and good water and shade.
I took a stroll at 16h00. I love walking slowly in the late afternoon, kind of still hunting and enjoying this beautiful place. I saw guinea fowl and quite a few francolin, then a warthog. When I got a look at this guy, he had the biggest tusks I have ever seen on a warthog. They covered his eyes, they were so long.
I heard rustling in the leaves around 01h30. Thought maybe it was red river hogs, so got my headlamp ready to spot them. Then I heard the clang of a pot. Somebody is up? Then I heard murmurs, and by 02h00 the campfire was alive with chatter. It was like Christmas morning; the boys were up in anticipation of the return walk. I resisted until they brought me coffee at 03h00, so I got up. What the heck, I thought, I would take advantage of the excitement and get us out of camp before dawn. Everyone was in good spirits, had eaten well the night before, and Felix, even though still acting strange, looked fine. I told them, dudes, it is 60 km further going back than coming, so don’t burst any seams.