American showjumper given 10-year ban for using electric spurs on his horses


American showjumper given 10-year

Andrew Kocher represented the US internationally at the Nations Cup. Photograph: Matt Slocum/AP

American showjumper Andrew Kocher has received a 10-year suspension for using electric spurs on his horses after a tribunal by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).

Kocher, who has represented the US internationally at the Nations Cup, was also disqualified from eight events between June 2018 and November 2019, fined 10,000 Swiss Francs ($11,000) and ordered to pay costs.

An FEI investigation was opened into Kocher after a whistleblower alleged he used an electric shock device at several competitions. FEI regulations state that subjecting a horse to any kind of electric shock is considered as horse abuse.

Kocher was provisionally suspended on 28 October 2020 and will be eligible to return to competition in October 2030. The United States Equestrian Federation said in a statement that it “unequivocally” supports the FEI tribunal decision.

“The US Jumping Team does not tolerate any form of cheating or horse abuse and fully stands behind the outcome of the FEI Tribunal decision,” said Robert Ridland, US Jumping Chef d’Equipe and Technical Advisor.

“Horses are our willing and trusted partners in sport and deserve our ultimate care and respect in the pursuit of excellence. It is our duty as athletes and leaders in the sport to put the welfare of the horse first while ensuring a fair and level playing field at all times.”

Kocher had earlier denied using electric shocks on his horses and has 21 days to appeal the FEI decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Source: The Guardian

Toads in the hole as Cape Town gets tunnels for amorous amphibians


Toads in the hole as Cape Town gets tunnels for amorous amphibians

One of the tunnels built for western leopard toads near Zeekoevlei in Cape Town.
Image: Facebook/The Friends of Zeekoevlei and Rondevlei

Cape Town has what are believed to be SA’s first tunnels built especially for toads.

The two tunnels have been built near Zeekoevlei so endangered western leopard toads can avoid being squashed by vehicles while crossing the road.

Three more tunnels are planned, and walls will be built to guide toads into them when they migrate towards the vlei during breeding season in August.

The Cape Town Environmental Education Trust, which is in charge of the “Western Cape leopard toad underpass project”, said it hoped other animals would also use the tunnels to cross the road safely.

“Five underpass tunnels are planned for installation along the road, with two tunnels (50m apart) being installed this season,” said the trust’s species conservation manager, Louise Baldwin.

“During the breeding season we will monitor these tunnels to ascertain the number of toads utilising them and determine if there is a decrease in road mortalities in the area.”

Toads in the hole as Cape Town gets tunnels for amorous amphibians

A western leopard toad crossing a road during breeding season in August.
Image: Alison Faraday

The western leopard toad is listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list and is found only in the Western Cape, where development is continually reducing its habitat.

“Within the last 20 years, the toad populations have undergone drastic declines from urban areas where they were once abundant,” said a trust statement.

“The populations are considered to be severely fragmented because no one site holds more than 50% of individuals and the distances between subpopulations are considered to be too great for dispersal within one generation.

“More than half of the occupied habitat is in small, isolated patches and more than 50% of subpopulations are considered non-viable without continued conservation.”

Source: Times Live


Marine life is fleeing the equator to cooler waters—this could trigger a mass extinction event

Marine life is fleeing the equator to cooler waters—this could trigger a mass extinction event

The tropical water at the equator is renowned for having the richest diversity of marine life on Earth, with vibrant coral reefs and large aggregations of tunas, sea turtles, manta rays and whale sharks. The number of marine species naturally tapers off as you head towards the poles.

Ecologists have assumed this global pattern has remained stable over recent centuries—until now. Our recent study found the ocean around the equator has already become too hot for many species to survive, and that global warming is responsible.

In other words, the global pattern is rapidly changing. And as species flee to cooler water towards the poles, it’s likely to have profound implications for marine ecosystems and human livelihoods. When the same thing happened 252 million years ago, 90% of all marine species died.

The bell curve is warping dangerously

This global pattern—where the number of species starts lower at the poles and peaks at the equator—results in a bell-shaped gradient of species richness. We looked at distribution records for nearly 50,000 marine species collected since 1955 and found a growing dip over time in this bell shape.

So, as our oceans warm, species have tracked their preferred temperatures by moving towards the poles. Although the warming at the equator of 0.6℃ over the past 50 years is relatively modest compared with warming at higher latitudes, tropical species have to move further to remain in their thermal niche compared with species elsewhere.

As ocean warming has accelerated over recent decades due to climate change, the dip around at the equator has deepened.

We predicted such a change five years ago using a modeling approach, and now we have observational evidence.

For each of the 10 major groups of species we studied (including pelagic fish, reef fish and molluscs) that live in the water or on the seafloor, their richness either plateaued or declined slightly at latitudes with mean annual sea-surface temperatures above 20℃.

Today, species richness is greatest in the northern hemisphere in latitudes around 30°N (off southern China and Mexico) and in the south around 20°S (off northern Australia and southern Brazil).

This has happened before

We shouldn’t be surprised global biodiversity has responded so rapidly to global warming. This has happened before, and with dramatic consequences.

252 million years ago…

At the end of the Permian geological period about 252 million years ago, global temperatures warmed by 10℃ over 30,000-60,000 years as a result of greenhouse gas emissions from volcano eruptions in Siberia.

A 2020 study of the fossils from that time shows the pronounced peak in biodiversity at the equator flattened and spread. During this mammoth rearranging of global biodiversity, 90% of all marine species were killed.

125,000 years ago…

A 2012 study showed that more recently, during the rapid warming around 125,000 years ago, there was a similar swift movement of reef corals away from the tropics, as documented in the fossil record. The result was a pattern similar to the one we describe, although there was no associated mass extinction.

Authors of the study suggested their results might foreshadow the effects of our current global warming, ominously warning there could be mass extinctions in the near future as species move into the subtropics, where they might struggle to compete and adapt.


During the last ice age, which ended around 15,000 years ago, the richness of forams (a type of hard-shelled, single-celled plankton) peaked at the equator and has been dropping there ever since. This is significant as plankton is a keystone species in the foodweb.

Our study shows that decline has accelerated in recent decades due to human-driven climate change.

The profound implications

Losing species in tropical ecosystems means ecological resilience to environmental changes is reduced, potentially compromising ecosystem persistence.

In subtropical ecosystems, species richness is increasing. This means there’ll be species invaders, novel predator-prey interactions, and new competitive relationships. For example, tropical fish moving into Sydney Harbor compete with temperate species for food and habitat.

This could result in ecosystem collapse—as was seen at the boundary between the Permian and Triassic periods—in which species go extinct and ecosystem services (such as food supplies) are permanently altered.

The changes we describe will also have profound implications for human livelihoods. For example, many tropical island nations depend on the revenue from tuna fishing fleets through the selling of licenses in their territorial waters. Highly mobile tuna species are likely to move rapidly toward the subtropics, potentially beyond sovereign waters of island nations.

Similarly, many reef species important for artisanal fishers—and highly mobile megafauna such as whale sharks, manta rays and sea turtles that support tourism—are also likely to move toward the subtropics.

The movement of commercial and artisanal fish and marine megafauna could compromise the ability of tropical nations to meet the Sustainable Development Goals concerning zero hunger and marine life.

Is there anything we can do?

One pathway is laid out in the Paris Climate Accords and involves aggressively reducing our emissions. Other opportunities are also emerging that could help safeguard biodiversity and hopefully minimize the worst impacts of it shifting away from the equator.

Currently 2.7% of the ocean is conserved in fully or highly protected reserves. This is well short of the 10% target by 2020 under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

But a group of 41 nations is pushing to set a new target of protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030.

This “30 by 30” target could ban seafloor mining and remove fishing in reserves that can destroy habitats and release as much carbon dioxide as global aviation. These measures would remove pressures on biodiversity and promote ecological resilience.

Designing climate-smart reserves could further protect biodiversity from future changes. For example, reserves for marine life could be placed in refugia where the climate will be stable over the foreseeable future.

We now have evidence that climate change is impacting the best-known and strongest global pattern in ecology. We should not delay actions to try to mitigate this.

Source: Phys Org

Adopted dog, Khaya, becomes mascot for Khayelitsha based animal clinic.


Adopted dog, Khaya, becomes mascot for Khayelitsha based animal clinic.

Bryony McCormick adopted Khaya, a black and white pavement special, from the Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha. Since then, Khaya has become the four-legged leader of a trail running community called Chicks Who Trail in Cape Town. Now Khaya has become a mascot for the animal clinic too to help them through the difficult times of Covid-19.

“I attended a kennel building event at Mdzananda for Madiba day. I wasn’t planning on adopting a dog – I just wanted to say hi to the shelter pets – and this little thing came bounding over all the dogs, lifted up her paws and scratched my face from forehead to chin. That was our meeting. Two weeks later I couldn’t get her out of my mind and I brought her home,” says McCormick. 

Today Khaya joins all the Chicks Who Trail runs. “Every week she goes and greets everybody with her ears back. She’s always happy to see everyone. Happiness is 100% what she brings to this group.”

Bryony heard of Mdzananda’s challenges during Covid-19. They lost funding, were robbed three times, were hijacked twice and are losing monthly donors due to hard times. She signed up as a Paw Member and committed to donating R100 per month. She then took it upon herself and Khaya to encourage all runners, especially those running with rescue dogs, to sign up as Paw Members. 

A heartwarming and inspiring video was compiled featuring Bryony and Khaya and the adventures they have been on. Bryony speaks about her experience of adopting a Mdzananda dog and why she supports the work they do.

“Our organisation serves up to 1000 community pets per month that would otherwise have little to no access to veterinary services,” says Marcelle du Plessis, Fundraising and Communications Manager. “We help find homes for stray pets and have a strong focus on community empowerment and education to ensure for responsible pet ownership into the future.”

Du Plessis says that Covid-19 has brought many challenges. They hope to have 1000 Paw Members sign up, each donating R100 (or whatever they can afford) per month. To date 610 members have signed up. “We have nearly reached our goal to ease lockdown struggles and hope another 290 members will open up their hearts to township pets.”

Bryony and Khaya’s video can be seen on the Mdzananda Animal Clinic’s Youtube channel (, Facebook and Instagram. To sign up as a Paw Member, visit, email [email protected] or visit their website at to find out more.

“I hope that my video will inspire runners and animal lovers to sign up as Paw Members so that the Clinic can help more community pets,” says McCormick.

Source: Mdzananda Animal Clinic

Take a “PAWS” and meet Dr Annelize Roos – One of the heroes protecting South African’s furry friends

Take a “PAWS” and meet Dr Annelize Roos – One of the heroes protecting South African’s furry friends

Take a “PAWS” and meet Dr Annelize Roos

Many people fail to recognise the fundamental and critical work provided by veterinarians all around the world, praised as being the custodians of animal health and welfare. Dr Annelize Roos is one of these unsung angels looking after domestic animals in South Africa, the founder of EnviroVet CVC, a satellite company which falls under the umbrella of the South African Veterinary Association Community Veterinary Clinics (SAVA-CVC).

With the goal of providing veterinary services to animals living in impoverished communities around the country, SAVA-CVC was established in 1998. Dr Roos followed suit by creating EnviroVet CVC in 2011 and has since brought together a strong team of dedicated individuals working to protect domestic animals belonging to those who cannot afford or access private veterinary clinics. Their primary focus is on communities in Cape Town, but mostly in the smaller towns across the Western- and Northern Cape, where no other veterinary services are available, providing a variety of essential services to guarantee the well-being of these helpless creatures. Notably, EnviroVet CVC has performed more than 60 000 pet sterilisations over the last decade.

Dr Roos has an enormous love for life and chose to engage in activities that have a component of physical demand, intellectual challenge and emotional well-being. When asked about what motivated her towards this profession she said: “An intuitive attraction to African wildlife triggered the desire to become a veterinarian”. She proudly received her BVSc degree from the University of Pretoria in 1984, then after working as a veterinary assistant for some time, she opened her own small animal clinic in 1986 in Durban. She later relocated to Cape Town in 2008, becoming involved in animal welfare activities on a full-time basis and has since studied all globally available guidelines, research publications and protocols on national animal welfare.

EnviroVet CVC focuses on the well-being primarily of dogs, cats and donkeys, and whilst sterilisation projects come first and foremost, Dr Roos and her team conduct many other critical services such as vaccinations, dipping, deworming, treatment of mange and TVT (Transmissible Venereal Tumor). She believes that a veterinarian’s role is relevant to the socio-economic reality of that specific community with the main purpose of the veterinarian being the prevention of pet abuse and suffering. This goal can only be achieved through a comprehensive pet population management approach, which includes the sterilisation of at least 70% of pets in any geographically demarcated area; she holds to the concept that this “herd immunity” principle has the potential to curb pet population growth.

A central element to the formidable work undertaken by her team is education. This means providing as much information and training as possible during their work in remote or impoverished areas. For this reason, they do not simply remove animals, perform sterilisation and then return them. This type of “confiscation” of animals can create a gap which is usually soon filled by another pet often treated as poorly as the first. Therefore, the EnviroVet group knows the majority of the animals individually, are aware of their circumstances, and beginning with the basic necessities of giving a pet a name, teaching people to respect their pets and showing them how to treat them with love. They have seen highly positive results by taking part in the journey of the intimate relationship between the animal and its owners, who in the end are far better able to understand the need for as well as the ultimate benefits of a compassionate, informed and caring attitude towards their beloved pets.

When asked how she stays motivated in her line of work she responded that “Anything with a clear purpose and a concrete, measurable outcome, results in unstoppable escalating motivation. Scientific approach to Animal Welfare Activity within the socio-economic reality of South Africa is an example of exactly this”.

To find out more about Dr Roos and the wonderful work the EnviroVet CVC team are doing please visit the website:

Source:  EnviroVet CVC


The importance of National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day 2021

The importance of National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day 2021

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of your pooch laying across your feet at night, or your cat curled up on your lap while you watch TV. While lockdown has brought with it many negatives, the positive has certainly been the extra appreciation we’ve felt for our pets. While our pets have always been there to snuggle, exercise with, cry with and play with, spending so much time at home, especially for those on their own, means our pets have carried us emotionally through this incredibly taxing time. 

On 30th of April we observe National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day, and, as Marycke Ackhurst pet behaviour expert from Hill’s Pet Nutrition explains, this year is especially significant. “Unfortunately, because of lockdown, and with it many job losses, shelters found themselves inundated with more pets looking for forever homes than ever before. Added to that shelters weren’t operating during months of hard lockdown, and many are still trying to find their way out of extra costs and overcrowding.” 

That being said, adds Ackhurst, the decision to adopt a pet shouldn’t be made on a whim. If you’ve gone through some huge life changes or aren’t planning on staying in one place for too long, maybe now isn’t the right time to adopt. Besides adoption, there are other ways to make a difference this National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day, such as visiting your local animal shelter to volunteer or donate. 

Ackhurst provides the below tips for making your adoption a success, and another if adoption isn’t an option for you right now: 

  • It’s a responsibility, so think it through carefully – It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of visiting a shelter and deciding to bring home the first, cutest or saddest doe-eyed looking dog or cat you see. However, your first choice may not be the best. Pet parenting is a major responsibility; you’re agreeing to provide care for the rest of your pet’s life. Not only is this a big commitment of time and money, but it also entails dealing with any emotional or behavioural problems your pet may have. 
  • Choosing the right pet for you and your family – While you, or your kids, may be overly eager for a new cuddly companion, choosing the right pet is a process that takes time, research, and careful planning. However, that said, when adopting a shelter pet, it’s a good idea to remain open-minded. While you may have a specific age, breed, or ‘look’ in mind, you might find a better match based on temperament, activity level and family fit.
  • Know your limitations – It’s important to ask plenty of questions about the pet and any special needs they may have.  Most shelters will do their best to make sure you are aware of any additional needs this pet may require determining if you’d be a good fit. While shelters want the pet to be adopted, their priority is ensuring a loving forever home, so don’t be discouraged if they feel you will be more suited to a different pet.
  • Bringing your new pet home – There’s nothing more secure and welcoming as a safe, cosy bed when bringing your new pet home. Remember that a new environment is scary for any pet. It is important to give them lots of time to settle and also decompress from their previous life which is very different from the life that you are offering them. Try to avoid overcrowding them and, as much as you want to show off your new family member, give them time to get to know you and your home, before introducing them to the extended family. It’s a good idea to establish the rules upfront, such as what rooms your pet will have access to, where he or she will sleep, and if your pet will be allowed on the furniture.
  • Feeding your new pet – When taking your new pet to the vet for his first check-up speak to the vet about the best food options. It’s important not to start your pet on a new food entirely as it may cause an upset tummy. Mix your pet’s current food, the shelter can advise you on this, with the new food and increase the amount gradually while decreasing the old food over at least a seven-day period.   

If you’ve already got a pet, or now just isn’t the right time to adopt one, but you’d still like to do your part, then why not make the most of Hill’s latest offer? Their small dog free toy promo* is running now meaning, when you purchase a bag of Hill’s Canine between 1.5kg and 6kg you get a free plush toy. Then, head to your nearest shelter plush toy in hand. They’re gorgeous and super cuddly and will make the perfect shelter pet snuggle companion. 

*T & C’s apply

For more information visit the Hill’s Pet Nutrition website

Media queries Julia Rice | Republic PR | [email protected] | 083 379 4633

Source: Hills


Community Rallies to Support Whisky

Community Rallies to Support Whisky

(Photo: Ansu Clarke, Marketing Manager; Cordelia Nqoqo, Whisky’s owner; Beryldene Anders, Pet sales Team leader & Whisky the dog)

Anyone who has a dog already knows how often dogs serve as a reminder of all that’s good in the world, and this uplifting story from the Garden Route SPCA is an incredible reminder of what people can do when they come together behind a worthy cause.

On 9 April 2021, Salome Bruyns from the Garden Route SPCA shared a post on Facebook describing a heart-breaking situation where she was approached by an elderly lady that needed to surrender her dog due to financial difficulties.

The post and accompanying photos, which show the dog clinging to his owner, quickly went viral with hundreds of South Africans stepping in to donate food and money.

As an insurance company that prides themselves on putting their money where their mouth is, Garden Route-based insurer stepped up to pay for the dog’s much-needed medical treatments, including sterilization, vaccines, and treatment for worms.

Community Rallies to Support Whisky also called on their extensive network for support and partnered up with Hill’s Pet Nutrition to donate six bags of Hill’s Prescription Diet Derm Defense food to the Garden Route SPCA so that they can assist the struggling pet parent with feeding her dog.

Garden Route SPCA Donation

“Almost all South Africans have been economically affected by the pandemic,” says David Roache, Chief Operating Officer of “The virality of this story is a testament to how deeply this subject matter resonates with people. We share the same passion for animals’ well-being as our customers, and we know that finding yourself in a situation where you have to give up your dog is any pet parents’ worst nightmare.”

“In these turbulent times, we’re always looking for ways we can uplift animals, people, and our communities,” continues Roache. “We think this is an incredible initiative by the Garden Route SPCA and we’re proud to play a part in keeping this family healthy and together.”

As a pet insurance company, keeping people and their pets together is more than’s business – it’s their entire reason for being.

Along with providing South Africans with affordable pet insurance options from as little as R3 per day, whenever a client buys a pet insurance policy online, donates a portion of their first premium to feeding a shelter dog for a month, at no extra cost to their clients.

If you’d like to make a donation, please use the following details:

Garden Route SPCA

Standard Bank

Account Number: 060823216

Branch: 050214

Reference: pure love

About is the first and only insurance provider in South Africa to offer Name Your Price™ flexible insurance and is also the first insurer in the country to insure exotic pets.

As SA’s #1 rated pet insurer on since December 2019 and the winner of The Star Reader’s Choice for Best Pet Insurance Company 2020, delivers better products with better service through a culture of customer value, technology, and innovation.

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The significance of celebrating World Veterinary Day

The significance of celebrating World Veterinary Day

As we celebrate World Veterinary Day (Saturday 24 April 2021) in collaboration with all the profession associations, we acknowledge and honour the immense contribution of veterinary professionals in providing veterinary healthcare and improving public health across the globe. The day seeks to highlight and promote the sterling, selfless and live-saving work performed by veterinarians. Animals play an important role in society and therefore their well-being has a direct bearing on societal wholeness. Wherever you go in the world, whatever ecosystem, whatever culture, it has been shown that people live directly or indirectly with animals. As humans, we are one of the few species that adopt and care for other animals. Our cross-species connections might be older and more important than we ever imagined, running throughout human history, driving human evolution for millions of years, and even helping us invent language and other tools of civilisation.  The effect that this has had on human psychology, territoriality, and social behaviour has been profound. 

Throughout the world, animals play an important role in lives of humans, for example in their role as workers (guide dogs, carthorse, etc.), as companions and protectors, as a source of food (meat, eggs, etc.), and as ecological balancers (bees that pollinate).  We also see animals in arts and culture, presented in films and animals are even significant for some religions. It is therefore of paramount importance that highly skilled professionals are able attend to animals and provide them with the best healthcare service they deserve.

The intricate and crucial relationship between humans and animals needs an intentional and regulated approach to ensure its sustainability and its valuable contribution to life as we know it. Veterinarians play a pivotal role in ensuring that the health of animals is prioritised, and they do everything in their power and expertise to provide veterinary care and love to animals. The South African Veterinary Association  (SAVA), as a statutory veterinary body acting in the interest of the public and animals, ensures that high standards of quality and professionalism are adhered to when veterinary care is provided. Therefore, the SAVA extends its warm heart of appreciation to celebrate the men and women who have dedicated their career life (often family life too) to serving the animal world.

World Veterinarian Day takes place on Saturday, April 24th, 2021 and the SAVA focuses on celebrating the crucial role that veterinary professionals play in society. Veterinary professionals provide a valuable service of diagnosing, treating and controlling animals’ diseases that could have a devastating impact on humans, animals and global food production.

To create awareness of this contribution to human/animal coexistence, the SAVA takes hands with various professional associations to celebrate this year’s World Veterinary Day.  These associations in partnership with the government and the SAVA are proof of the robustness of the industry.  They represent professional standards, global best practice, and sustainable thinking and education:

  • SAVC (South African Veterinary Council),
  • BVF (Black Veterinary Forum),
  • RuVASA (Ruminant Veterinary Association)
  • SAAAHT (South African Association of Animal Health Technicians),
  • SAALAS (South African Association of Laboratory Animal Science),
  • VNASA (Veterinary Nurses Association of South Africa),
  • SAAVT (South African Association of Veterinary Technologists),
  • SAAPRA (South African Animal Physical and Rehabilitation Association), and the
  • NAHF (National Animal Health Forum).

Source: SAVA

Africa’s elephants now endangered by poaching, habitat loss

Africa's elephants now endangered by poaching, habitat loss

A Savanna elephant is photographed in Kruger National Park, South Africa, in this March 4, 2020 file photo. Increasing threats of poaching and loss of habitat have made Africa’s elephant populations more endangered, according to a report released Thursday March 25, 2021, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

Increasing threats of poaching and loss of habitat have made Africa’s elephant populations more endangered, according to a report released Thursday by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The African forest elephant is critically endangered, and the African savanna elephant is endangered. The two species had previously been grouped together as a single species and were classified as vulnerable by the IUCN.

The number of African forest elephants has fallen by more than 86% over a 31-year period, while the population of savanna elephants dropped by more than 60% over a 50-year period, according to the IUCN, which rates the global extinction risks to the world’s animals.

Africa currently has 415,000 elephants, counting the forest and savanna elephants together, according to the IUCN.

The savanna elephants prefer more open plains and are found in various habitats across sub-Saharan Africa, with Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe having high concentrations. The African forest elephants—smaller in size—mostly occupy the tropical forests of West and Central Africa, with the largest remaining populations found in Gabon and Republic of Congo.

In Gabon, the fight against elephant poaching “is more than just fighting for nature. It’s fighting for the stability of our country,” Lee White, Gabon’s minister of water and forests, told The Associated Press.

Africa's elephants now endangered by poaching, habitat loss

A desert elephant is photographed in the Kaokoland near Puros, northern Namibia, in Kruger National Park, South Africa, in this Aug. 6, 2013 file photo. Increasing threats of poaching and loss of habitat have made Africa’s elephant populations more endangered, according to a report released Thursday March 25, 2021, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

“We have seen countries like Central African Republic, where poachers became bandits, became rebels and destabilized the whole country,” White said, attributing the bulk of poaching and ivory trafficking to international cross-border syndicates.

“Eighty to 90% of our ivory goes to Nigeria and ends up funding (the jihadist rebels) Boko Haram. So it’s very much a cross-border fight against organized crime and even against terrorism,” he said.

The battle to protect Gabon’s forest elephants is a war, he said. “We have transformed biologists into warriors,” White said. “We have transformed people who signed up to watch elephants and work with nature and the national parks into soldiers who have gone to war for the survival of the elephants.”

Criminal networks working with corrupt officials are a significant problem in central and western Africa, Rudi van Aarde of the University of Pretoria’s zoology department. told The Associated Press.

Africa's elephants now endangered by poaching, habitat loss

Lit by a red light, a rare forest elephant is photographed in Gabon’s Pongara forest in this March 11, 2020 file photo. Increasing threats of poaching and loss of habitat have made Africa’s elephant populations more endangered, according to a report released Thursday March 25, 2021, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

“Most of the ivory that leaves this continent for Asia is from central and western Africa. The population is suffering more because of the illegal trade in ivory instead of environmental issues like deforestation,” said van Aarde.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s elephants suffered a huge knock with a spike in poaching between 2008 and 2012. A worrying trend is that a substantial amount of that poaching occurred in East and Southern Africa where an estimated 100,000 savanna elephants were killed in northern Mozambique and southern Tanzania, during that period, he said.

“Africa’s elephants play key roles in ecosystems, economies and in our collective imagination all over the world,” IUCN Director General Bruno Oberle said, lamenting the reduced numbers of Africa’s elephants.

“Today’s new IUCN Red List assessment of both African elephant species underlines the persistent pressure faced by the iconic animals,” Oberle said. “The results quantify the dramatic extent of the decline of these ecologically important animals.”

“With persistent demand for ivory and escalating human pressures on Africa’s wildlands, … concern for Africa’s elephants is high, and the need to creatively conserve and wisely manage these animals and their habitats is more acute than ever,” said Kathleen Gobush, lead assessor in the IUCN team compiling the list.

Source: Phys Org

Elephant seal surprises Cape Town beach-goers

Elephant seal surprises Cape Town beach-goers

Beach-goers in Cape Town found themselves sharing the sands at Llandudno with an unusual visitor, a Southern Elephant seal, on Thursday.

Steve Benjamin, whose company, Animal Ocean, runs seal snorkelling trips to Duiker Island in Hout Bay, said it’s not the first time such large marine mammals have visited the Mother City.

“In 2016 we were surprised to find a young Elephant seal resting on the island with our Cape Fur seals,” he explained in a post on Facebook.

Southern Elephant seals – which can weigh up to 4 000kgs and dive to 2 388m for up to 120 minutes – are normally found in the Southern Ocean, with the closest colony being on Marion Island, 2 147km away from Llandudno.

This particular Elephant seal, Buffel, was, however, born in Cape Point and considers the seas around Cape Town to be his home.

Buffel was tagged by scientists on the Buffelsbay slipway, with a small yellow flipper tag (#16577), which helps identify him from other Elephant seals. He also has some scarring to his eye and chin.

Buffel is currently enjoying time out on Llandudno Beach having just finished his annual moult. He will be resting on the sands while his new skin toughens up.

Southern Elephant seals haul out for one month each year for what is known as a ‘catastrophic moult’, when all their skin is shed at the same time. It leaves them with a temporary sensitivity to temperature changes.

Benjamin said Buffel moults somewhere on our coastline every February and has in the past visited Fishoek Beach and Buffelsbay Beach.

Beach-goers can rest assured that he is fine.

“He is not sick or injured and doesn’t need to be chased back into the water,” Benjamin added.

The Llandudno Lifesaving Club has put a barrier around Buffel to ensure people visiting the beach give him space.

Source: South Africa News