120. From Lion Dog African Safaris Newsletter

The following is taken from Lion Dog African Safaris Weekly Newsletter, #18 / 2020.

Archaeology Shows How
Ancient African Societies Managed Pandemics

Every so often, a pandemic emerges that dramatically alters human society.

Source: NewBigFive.com


The Black Death (1347 – 1351) was one.
The Spanish flu of 1918 was another.
Now there’s COVID-19.

Archaeologists have long studied diseases in past populations. To do so, they study settlement layout, burials, funerary remains, and human skeletons. The insights from these studies expose some of the strategies that societies adopted to deal with pandemics. These included burning settlements as a disinfectant and shifting settlements to new locations. Social distancing was practised by dispersing settlements.

Findings unearthed in southern Zimbabwe show that it was taboo to touch or interfere with remains of the dead, lest diseases be transmitted in this way. Social distancing and isolation formed a critical part of managing pandemics in ancient African societies.
In what is Zimbabwe today, the Shona people in the 17th and 18th centuries isolated those suffering from infectious diseases – such as leprosy – in temporary residential structures. In some cases, corpses were burnt to avoid spreading the contagion.


There were multiple long-term implications of pandemics in these communities. Perhaps the most important was that people organised themselves in ways that made it easier to live with diseases, managing them and at the same time sticking to the basics such as good hygiene, sanitation and environmental control. Life did not stop because of pandemics: populations made decisions and choices to live with them.

Some of these lessons may be applied to COVID-19, guiding decisions and choices to buffer the vulnerable from the pandemic while allowing economic activity and other aspects of life to continue. As evidence from the past shows, social behaviour is the first line of defence against pandemics: it’s essential this be considered when planning for the latest post-pandemic future.

99. From Nat’l Geographic Photography Newsletter

The following is taken in part from an article in National Geographic’s Photography Newsletter, April 24, 2020.

The New Big Five


Years ago, colonial game hunters created a list of five of the toughest animals to hunt and kill on foot. Forever after, the list became known as The Big 5.
It’s time to reorient our notions of The Big 5 and highlight the struggles that so many animals must endure to simply survive.

Source: NewBigFive.com

The New Big 5 is an international initiative to create a new list of five endangered wild animals from all over the world. The list will be The New Big 5 of Wildlife Photography.

Source: graeme-green.com


The world’s wildlife is in crisis. The next ten years are critical.
Moved by a sense of urgency and love for his subjects, Graeme Green, a British photographer, journalist and travel writer, created The New Big 5 project.

The project is a celebration of wildlife photography, and it pushes for recording with a camera instead of shooting with a gun.

More than a million species are currently at risk of extinction, from large mammals like elephants and polar bears, to the “unsung heroes” and little-known frogs, cats, birds, lizards and other species, each too valuable to lose.

The New Big 5 of wildlife photography might include koalas and orangutans, or tigers and grizzly bears, or sloths and pangolins or any other animal from any continent on earth whose future existence is in doubt.

Source: NewBigFive.com



With the support of Jane Goodall and 100 of the world’s top photographers, New Big 5 is asking everyone to vote.
Before compiling the list, the creators want YOUR INPUT.

Use the link below to vote for your favorite five animals.

 
Cast your ballot for your favorite five animals.

Source: YouTube

71. Welcome to Botswana

The following was taken from a Change.org email dated March 25, 2020

– Welcome to Botswana –
Where Rich People Can Kill Elephants

Image Source: Change.org

Kenya has banned the practice of trophy hunting.
Botswana had formally joined in the ban, but has now chosen to reinstate elephant hunting.
Foreign hunters will be allowed to kill 202 of its elephants.


Most of the foreign hunters who go to Africa are from the United States.
The average cost for foreign trophy hunters to purchase hunting rights, travel, hire a professional to accompany them and pay for taxidermy is approximately $71,000.

Elephants help support the health of our planet. They spread the seeds from the plants they have eaten, dispersing plant life to other areas. They dig water holes in dry river beds that other animals use as a water source as well as creating trails that serve as fire breakers. Elephants help the local economies through eco-tourism.  Eco-tourism is a $2 billion-dollar industry, while reintroducing hunting contributes to only 1.9% of tourism.   

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has held Crush Ivory Days in various sites over the years.

In Colorado, U.S. officials destroyed more than 6 tons of confiscated ivory tusks, carvings and jewelry — the bulk of the U.S. “blood ivory” stockpile — and urged other nations to follow suit to fight a $10 billion global trade that slaughters tens of thousands of elephants each year.

There are two bills that have been introduced in U.S. Congress (the CECIL and Protect Acts) that will ban trophy hunting imports from crossing American borders. The fate of these bills is unknown at the time of this posting.

Change.org is asking everyone to consider contacting his/her representative in support of these bills.

69. Tusker Tim

“The world is mourning an icon.”
allAfrica.com


Tim, one of the last surviving super tusters, died in Amboseli National Park early last month.
According to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), he died of natural causes.
There was evidence that his wild animal friends had tried hard to resurrect him.

Famous for his rare majestic tusks, Tim was a very popular sighting for tourists who visited Amboseli National Park. He was considered an ambassador for his species.

Source: Lifegate.com, Tim in a mud-pit in 2018.


The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which helped save Tim from a swamp in 2018, sent out a statement saying, “Kenya lost a giant today. Our hearts are heavy as we remember a magnificent elephant who we grew to know and love.”

“Our hearts are broken,” said Wildlife Direct, a Nairobi-based conservation campaign group. “Tim was one of Africa’s very few Super Tuskers, and an incredible elephant whose presence awed and inspired many. He was one of Kenya’s National Treasures.”

Kimana Gate, Amboseli National Park


Tim was 50 years old. He called the Amboseli ecosystem (which spreads across the Kenya-Tanzania border) his home.
His body was found not far from the Kimana Gate.

Elephant tusks never stop growing, so enormous tusks are usually a sign of an old elephant. Both male and female African elephants grow tusks.
African elephants are referred to as “tuskers” when their tusks grow so long that they reach the ground. Due to poaching, conservationists estimate only a few dozen such animals with tusks that size are now left on the continent.

Tim’s tusks were said to weigh more than 100 lbs each.


Tim’s body was moved to a taxidermist in Nairobi so that it can be preserved for display in the national museum for exhibition and education purposes.

Source: Wild Eye, YouTube (Time: 2:57)

58. Nat’l Geographic Picture of the Day

It was nice to receive something other than a Coronavirus Alert in my inbox this morning.


Why is this rhino hanging upside down?

Source: National Geographic Newsletter, David Chancellor
Subscribe to the newsletter.



David Chancellor found out while photographing a wildlife veterinarian receiving a black rhino from a hovering helicopter in South Africa’s Eastern Cape.

“Rhinos will suffocate if their body weight is supported on their chests, such as in a body harness, and this would also result in undue pressure being placed on their hearts and associated organs,” Chancellor says. “So despite appearances, this is medically preferable—to support them by the legs for short distances.” Obviously, it’s best not to move the rhinos at all, unless their habitat has become unsafe. Sadly, Chancellor says, “to preserve these extraordinary creatures, intervention is often unavoidable.”

17. Kenya and Locusts – Yikes!

Knowing that I’m planning a trip to Kenya, my friend Robin sent me a link to an article in The Guardian (Jan. 25, 2020):
Kenya suffers worst locust infestation in 70 years as millions of insects swarm farmland
The enormity of the infestation, the pitifully few solutions to end the problem quickly, and the damage already done to the lands are of biblical proportions.

Source: New York Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Telegraph

East African nations that are already experiencing a dangerous shortage of food are now witnessing large areas of their crops destroyed.
The United Nations has called for international aid to “avert any threats to food security, livelihoods, and malnutrition”.

If reading The Guardian’s description of the effects of the plague didn’t give you the willies, then try watching this video. It’s a segment from BBC’s Planet Earth, posted on YouTube two years ago. The stars of this video are the same nasty buggers that are plaguing Kenya right now.

Source: Associated Press

The Associated Press explains one of the reasons why this is happening
How climate change feeds Africa locust invasion.”

Is anyone surprised?

7. Maktao: A Whole Lot of Cute

Maktao’s Lunch

Maktao is my temporarily adopted elephant toddler. He currently resides at the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi. In order to participate in the 5pm foster visit (much less crowded than visits earlier in the day), visitors must adopt an orphaned elephant for a year ($50).

The orphanage sends a newsletter with updates about your adopted elephant. The latest information I received read, “We can tell all our orphans apart not just by their appearance but their quirky little characteristics as well. Maktao is a playful little chap always keeping the other orphans entertained with wrestling games. He isn’t fussy who he plays with and will choose anyone on any particular day to start a pushing game with.”

Although the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) is best known for its work rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned elephants, it is also very involved in the promotion of anti-poaching programs, and the advancement of community awareness and veterinary assistance to animals in need.