Current Affairs

The Pangolin: a mammal species being pushed ever closer to extinction by the illegal, international trade. Did you know that pangolins are the most illegally trafficked animals in the world? So exactly what is it, that makes these animals so ‘desirable’ in Africa and Asia? We take a look at the facts surrounding this exceptionally unusual creature and it's rapid demise. The Facts There are eight living species of pangolin in the world. Only 4 of these occur in Africa and just one in Southern Africa! South Africa's pangolin species is the Temminck’s ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii). This species is mainly nocturnal and is hardly ever seen during daylight. The Ground pangolin is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List Of Threatened Species and can be found in Appendix I of the CITES...

In September 2016 CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) held its 17th CoP (Conference of the Parties) in Johannesburg. These meetings occur once every 3 years, with the various other CITES sub-committees meeting in the years in between. CITES came into force on 1 July 1975 and is one of the oldest and largest conservation agreements in existence. With a current membership of 183 parties, every CoP is an important event for global conservation efforts and the world’s flora and fauna [1]. Whilst the recent CoP resulted in a number of decisions (80 pages worth in fact!), the fundamental question is does CITES actually achieve anything? Does it make a real and tangible difference to...

Author: Natalie Steiner The abundance of invertebrates in the world is staggering – arthropods (the group that includes arachnids, insects and crustaceans) represent 83% of all known living animal species [1]. Within that group, the order of Lepidoptera alone (butterflies & moths) has 180,000 individual species which equates to 10% of all living creatures on earth! Butterflies are wide spread across nearly every type of ecosystem from deserts to mountains and are a great example of why sometimes the world’s smallest animals are some of the most interesting. Here we discuss the life cycle, predation avoidance and mimicry of the African monarch as well as ways in which YOU can help butterflies worldwide. During their Askari stay, many volunteers will see the African monarch butterfly Danaus chrysippus (also known...

It is the 26th of September and so far we have recorded the return of 3 migratory bird species to Pidwa. First (as is always the case) were the lesser striped swallows. Next, came the Wahlberg’s eagles (this week a sighting of a pale and brown morph together) and then most recently, the call of a Klass’ cuckoo was heard in the Askari garden. Over 130 bird species in southern Africa are migrants, some undertaking massive journeys from Europe and Asia (Palaearctic-African migrants) while others migrate from within Africa itself (Intra-African migrants). The word migrate is derived from the Latin word ‘migrare’ which means to ‘move from one place to another’. It is normally associated with a predictable journey that...

In September this year, CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) will hold their 67th meeting in Johannesburg. On the agenda is the long-awaited discussion on the international trade in rhino-horn. A ban has been in place for this trade since 1977 but with the increasing poaching crisis, calls have been made to reverse the ban and allow the trade once again. Last week, the South African government shocked the conservation world by announcing that they will not be proposing an end to the ban on international rhino-horn trade. This is somewhat surprising after they recently legalised the domestic trade of horn within South Africa just over a month ago. Some believe that reversing the ban is the only chance left to save this iconic species of the savannah;...

A press release from the EWT released 27th January 2016 DEA SAYS NO TO LEOPARD TROPHY HUNTING IN SOUTH AFRICA IN 2016 There will be no Leopard trophy hunting in South Africa in 2016. The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) will not be authorising the issuing of any permits for Leopard trophy hunting this year after the Scientific Authority (the body responsible for ensuring that trade in wildlife is well-regulated in South Africa) a zero quota, stating that trophy hunting posed a high risk to the survival of the species. The national trophy hunting quota allocation for Leopard has been 150 animals per year since 2004. Historically, the recording of Leopard hunting has been poor with inconsistent recording of ages and sexes of...