There’s been a rise in poaching in Southern Africa in recent years. Hunters are killing rare animals and selling their pelts, ivory, and other body parts to a multibillion dollar international network of dealers. The southwestern African nation of Namibia, however, has managed to avoid this trend.
This is due to strong criminal penalties and new measures implemented by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, with help from the United Nations. Namibia earns six percent of its GDP from people visiting the parks, which are rich in wildlife and beautiful scenery. Protecting the environment is a smart financial move in this developing nation, and because of this the government has more than tripled the parks’ budget in the past four years. Other African nations like Niger and Chad are hoping to cash in on the profitable safari business too, and are also cracking down on poaching.
The ministry has been hiring more staff to patrol the parks and supplying them with training and equipment. In Etosha National Park the government is setting up a radio communications system and has supplied the staff with boats so they can reach a part of the park that is cut off during the rainy season. This area didn’t get many patrols before and poachers had been taking advantage of this.
Etosha is one of Africa’s biggest and most popular national parks. Covering 22,750 square kilometers, it is home to lion, elephants, rhino, zebra–all in high demand on the illegal animal market–and hundreds of other species.
Imagine this – instead of sitting in your car, slowly driving through the Lion Safari Park in Johannesburg, one of the cast members decides to pay you a personal visit.
The 300lb lion was able to open the rear door with his teeth, and right as he was about to climb aboard for lunch, the driver hit the gas and drove off.
A car behind the vehicle was able to catch the incident with his camera, and as you can see above, the lion was pretty close to getting into the car.
The car sped off, with the lion chasing it, obviously annoyed that his delicious snack was leaving him. A park warden was able to hold the lion back by throwing stones at it.
Lesson learned: lock your car doors whenever you are surrounded by wild animals. According to the park, all animals are well fed, and it is “unlikely” that they’d attack any tourists. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not take that chance.
Browsing through YouTube last night (taking advantage of it before it gets blocked here in Dubai, just like Flickr is), I came across this astounding video that some lucky travelers at Kruger National Park in South Africa were eye witnesses to. It has been viewed over 39 million times and has almost 43,000 comments.
They have managed to get live footage of a baby water buffalo being caught by a group of 6 lions, and then of over a 100 buffaloes being summoned to come save the baby and fight off the lions. Amazing. It’s a wonderful demonstration of how “animal-families” stick together to help each other survive in the wilderness. It’s about 8 1/2 minutes long, but well worth the watch. From the 4:40 mark onwards, it’s gold. You will find yourself cheering for the buffaloes as they make the lion kings look like scared and meek deers. There is an attack scene of a few seconds, but it’s not gory, so don’t worry about seeing anything hard on the eyes. A must, must watch.
It got me thinking about what else we throw in our packs for tradition or good luck. I’ve got a little cartoon lion in a safari suit that I got from inside a Kinder Surprise chocolate egg about ten years ago.
He – strangely I’ve never named it – tags along in my money belt (the lion’s only a few centimetres high) and has probably now been to about twenty countries.
What are some other silly and unnecessary items that make the cut when you’re packing?
I expect to hear a collective series of jaws drop when eyes out there feast upon the sumptuous, majestic images of African animals by photographer Nick Brandt. These are some truly incredible pictures, and even more so because the shots appear to have been taken in the animals’ natural surroundings (i.e. Africa) rather than, say, some studio at a zoo. Take a look and keep on scrolling. Photo after photo, they just get better and more beautiful. If you ever needed a reason to donate to an African wildlife fun, well, now you have it.