© Karien Eigner
Knysna elephants and African lion issues.
All appears well with the Knysna elephants. Recently one night a log-loader was upturned, and two tyre's punctured by presumably the oldest bull (annual occurrence when in musth). Local Knysna transport company, Stander and Sons, took the incident really well, describing the damage as 'lekker damage' ( see news report, http://showme.co.za/knysna/news/proof-of-elephants-in-knysna/ ). These elephants are so well-loved locally, nationally and internationally.
On this subject, I heard that our documentary on the elephants, The Search for the Knysna Elephants, was screened once again, about three weeks ago, on Animal Planet.
Recently I submitted to South African Environmental Minister, Edna Molewa, my comments and objections to the Ministry's draft plan for the 'management' of lions in South Africa. Unbelievably, the draft management plan was pro-use of captive lions (canned hunting), and pro-trade in lion body parts to the East.
I have been attempting to deter trophy hunting of lions by a company investing in Mozambique, and who might acquire a concession of a vast tract of land bordering the Kruger National Park in neighboring South Africa.
A major international documentary exposing canned lion hunting, Blood Lions (www.bloodlions.org) which I was interviewed, and supplied information for, has now been completed. It will be screened very soon.
Other lion issues.
I have been trying to determine what caused the recent attack of a tourist at the Lion Park by a lioness. I now feel she had experienced some past extreme trauma, related to visitor vehicles, and related to the prohibited lowering of car windows. My thoughts and comments on this tragic incident will be published in a forthcoming edition of Animaltalk magazine (http://animalchannel.co.za/).
I was very concerned for a missing male lion that recently moved out of the Karoo National Park, and I monitored the situation closely. I was also in touch with South African National Parks, and offered to assist with the search and rescue.
Fortunately, after almost a month, he was located, rescued and returned to the safety of the Karoo National Park (see my comments in media http://www.pressreader.com/southafrica/dailynews6671/20150630/281517929775858/TextView
Other activities in the past months.
I was commissioned to write the script (lion section) for a German audio book about Africa's 'Big Five'.
I was consulted about a possible Jaguar rehabilitation project in Brazil.
I mentored a student on aspects concerning the Knysna elephants for his research project.
I was asked to commented on issues related to the endangered Florida Panther.
Update on some of Gareth's Projects and Activities - January to July 2015.
Lion Awareness Speaking Engagements.
Over the past few weeks I have given several talks. Firstly to students of the Franklin University. I then undertook three speaking events at the recent Franschhoek Literary Festival, and last week, presented a sold out talk for charity in Johannesburg (see news report on this event at http://germistoncitynews.co.za/91476/lion-man-roars-into-germiston ). All events were capacity audiences. In total, I have spoken to over 1,600 people recently.
The two new books. New memoir, The Stories Untold. Sekai African Environmentalism book for the African youth.
Good progress has been made since I started writing my new book in March, The Stories Untold ( the first three chapters and the synopsis now completed). The Stories Untold, like my current book, My Lion's Heart, www.mylionsheart.com , is also an memoir, and comprises of entirely new material, and as the title suggests, are previously untold stories!
Important Sekai (www.sekaiafrica.com) book project. With academic journalist and Sekai colleague, Louise de Bruin, we have recently identified that it is vital that awareness about African Environmentalism must be created for the African youth/learners through a book. We are planning the contents and format of this book.
Coastal Leopard–Mammal Diversity Project 2009 - 2014
Just beyond the southern boundary of the newly proclaimed 121,000 ha Garden Route National Park (GRNP) (which encompasses much of the range of the Knysna elephants I study), I have initiated the Coastal Leopard – Mammal Diversity Project.
It is vitally important that landscapes bordering unfenced protected conservation areas (such as the GRNP) are monitored, the wildlife populations surveyed, and the human impact in these areas understood. Detrimental impacts such as poaching and inappropriate land use on bordering lands in turn impact negatively on the protected area. Alternately, the creation of ecological corridors in bordering lands, linking protected areas, maintains genetic interchange vital to the overall health of wildlife and the land itself.
Initially the Coastal Leopard – Mammal Diversity Project began as a small leopard pilot project to document presence of leopard outside the southern boundary of the GPNP. This was undertaken in part by setting up remote cameras. I quickly realised that the cameras subsequent photographs, were giving me a unique and non-invasive insight into the greater ‘picture’ of wildlife existing beyond the southern boundary of the GRNP.
Since the inception of the initial leopard pilot project December (2008) and of the broader project (April 2009) a variety of mammals have been photographed including caracal, honey badger, porcupine, bushbuck and bushpig.
In addition, the camera’s recorded bird species such as fierynecked nightjar, black crow, and forktailed drongo.
The cameras have also recorded the presence of poacher’s hunting dogs, and two of my remote cameras are suspected to have been stolen/removed by poachers.
How you can help this project.
Additional remote cameras, for example, are required to record mammal diversity in the project area, to obtain photographic evidence of coastal leopard presence, to identify these individuals and to determine the extent of their ranges.