119. What Else Can Mother Nature Throw Its Way?

As if locust infestations and coronavirus weren’t enough,
Kenya is now experiencing floods and landslides.

Source: .aljazeera.com

Torrential rains have triggered devastating floods and landslides across East Africa in recent weeks, aggravating an already challenging situation as countries in the region battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Source: reliefweb.int






Floods and landslides in Kenya have killed nearly 200 people, displaced 100,000 and strained critical infrastructure, after the River Nzola burst its banks.

Although May usually marks the end of the rainy season, the Kenya Meteorological Department has forecast that heavy rains, which accelerated in mid-April, are expected to continue in the coming weeks.

Source: .aljazeera.com



In western Kenya, residents have had to carry their belongings away from their submerged houses using boats and motorbikes. The government is providing food and water to the displaced people and has also requested the Ministry of Health to provide them with masks as a precautionary measure.

Source: .aljazeera.com




Floods have destroyed 8,000 acres of rice fields. Kenya was already facing a looming rice shortage due to shipping disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Source: .aljazeera.com

The heavy rains and landslides are threatening water shortages as well. The infrastructure used to deliver water has been washed away and pipelines have been clogged. Residents of several cities, including in the capital Nairobi, are being asked to use their water in a “rational” manner.

Source: .aljazeera.com

97. Poachers Kill More Rhinos as Coronavirus Halts Tourism

Edited from The New York Times, April 8, 2020
By Annie Roth

Threatened and endangered animals are becoming casualties of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rhino 911 is a nonprofit organization that provides emergency helicopter transport for rhinoceroses. Since South Africa announced a national lockdown on March 23, Rhino 911 has had to respond to a rhino poaching incident nearly every single day.

A two-month old seated rhino is rescued in a Rhino 911 helicopter on March 8.

In neighboring Botswana, at least six rhinos have been poached since the country closed its borders.

These recent incidents are unusual because they occurred in tourism hot spots that, until now, were considered relatively safe havens for wildlife.
South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, and Kenya rely on tourism to fund wildlife conservation, but thanks to border closures and crackdowns on international travel, foreigners can’t visit national parks or conservancies.

This shines a light on the fact that Africa’s wild animals are not just protected by rangers, they’re also protected by the presence of tourists.

Poachers have normally avoided places where there are lots of tourists, but
now they are feeling free to move into locations they’ve previously avoided.

Besides empty parks, no tourists means no money. National lockdowns have severely constricted Africa’s $39 billion tourism industry, which funds wildlife conservation all across the continent.

Without revenue from tourism, many parks, private reserves and community conservancies are finding it difficult to pay employees. Paid protection has dwindled.
Rangers and private game guards have found their jobs in jeopardy. Many are being laid off. Those that are still employed are working alone.

If the economic situation doesn’t improve, not only will the poaching of rhinoceros, elephants and other iconic animals escalate, but poaching for the purpose of obtaining bushmeat will increase as well.


In the hopes of alleviating the situation, the Nature Conservancy, a U.S.-based environmental organization, recently began raising money for cash-strapped parks, conservancies and private reserves in Africa that need help paying rangers and guards.

96. Is It Really a Happy Anniversary?

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.

For the occasion, National Geographic created its first-ever “flip” issue – essentially two magazines in one.
With an eye on the today’s world environment, National Geographic examines the trajectory of The Earth’s health 50 years into the future. Half of the magazine’s pages present a hopeful scenario, while half lay out a truly dark destiny.

The editors refer to this issue as “magazines of divergent realities.”

National Geographic magazine cover (back and front), April 2020

One side celebrates the optimistic view of Planet Earth’s future health in which the peoples of the world have harnessed technologies to feed a larger population, provide energy for all, prevent the extinction of plants and animals and start reversing climate change.

Spirit-lifting articles and stunning images tell of the ingenuity and persistence used to find innovative solutions to the planet’s biggest problems.

There are several pages devoted to introducing a generation of conservationists who are set to take up the environmental torch.

Progress seems inevitable.


When the reader turns the magazine over, a Dooms Day view is presented. There are stories of the flooding of Venice and low-lying U.S. coastal cities, massive fires that wipe out entire towns, longer droughts, deadlier heat waves, disappearing species, and scared, strip-mined landscapes.

Source: National Geographic
One of several “super pit cluster” coal mines in Australia. It operates 365 days a year. The owner is considering expansion.
The Golden Crowned Crane is one of the animals we are destine to lose forever.




Humans are changing the planet – and not always for the good.

Questions remain.
How far have we come to date?
How far can we go?
Is it already too late?

So, is it really a happy anniversary?

66. Jane Goodall Is Self-Isolating, Too

The following is taken from The New York Times, March 25, 2020

This is part of an edited phone conversation.
The journalist’s questions appear in bold text.

Source: New York Times

Jane Goodall is in isolation these days along with everyone else, since a fund-raising tour was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. She is staying at her family home in England, not in Tanzania, her primary home when not on the road.

Dr. Goodall changed the way the world views chimpanzees with research that began when she first went to Africa 60 years ago this July.

She later became a tireless advocate for chimps in captivity. When she began her work, chimps were routinely used in medical research, a practice Dr. Goodall helped stop in the U.S.

So this pause has let you step back a bit?
It’s catching up, you know. But there are some things that are so unbelievably worrying. In the U.S. you have people who can apply for unemployment or something. But what about in Tanzania, for example? The people running the bars, the restaurants, selling food at the side of the road — all banned now. And they make just enough to keep alive for a week and pay the rent and there’s no social security, nothing for them.

Being isolated has made me think of what it must be like for chimpanzees who were isolated in captivity, who depend on physical closeness and touch.
I think about it all the time. I’ve thought about it ever since I saw secretly filmed footage of these social beings in medical research labs in 5-foot by 5-foot cages. The first time I went into one of those labs. It was horrendous. And solitary confinement. As you say, it’s bad enough for us, but we have all these other ways of distracting. And what about these animals who have nothing?
But you know the other thing is, it has reactivated the discussion about animal trafficking – selling wild animals for food or for medicine. Everybody’s pointing fingers at China, but already the government’s made a total ban on the markets, selling animals for food and on trafficking – importing wild animals. So we just have to hope that because of the magnitude of this pandemic they will keep that ban. At the moment it’s temporary, but let’s hope they enforce it forever.

Animals, although not chimps, will be used in testing treatments and vaccines for Covid-19. What is your stance on animal experimentation?

My stance is that ultimately there will be a time with no animal experimentation. What pleased me about the chimp situation is that I was in it from the ethical point of view, but the fact that the chimps were put in sanctuaries because the research was not useful was a far better outcome than if it had been done on ethical grounds. It’s like fossil fuel. People say we want to stop using fossil fuel now. Well that’s clearly impossible. You can’t just suddenly stop something. And this medical research on animals won’t suddenly stop, although I wish it would. The trouble is that people working on alternatives just don’t get the right support.

One of Project Chimps’ indoor-outdoor enclosures, used as a temporary home to former laboratory chimps until other facilities were renovated.
Source: New York Times

1. Oh, All The Places to Go!

Last Friday The NYTimes posted its annual “52 Places to Go” for 2020. Mount Kenya is on the list. The mountain is home to some of the world’s last remaining tropical glaciers. However, glacier monitoring suggests that any permanent ice on Mount Kenya could disappear completely before 2030. According to The Times, “Now is the time to go.”

Uganda also made this year’s list, as it’s leading the way in sustainable travel. We have purchased a permit for a one day gorilla trek in the Bwindi Forest. Uganda limits the number of trekking permits. Parties no bigger than 8 are allowed to visit a gorilla family for one hour. Once you come upon the troupe, the clock starts ticking. Sixty minutes later you’re escorted back to camp.