Tag Archives: wildlife

Threatened existence

In this highly caustic lake of Bogoria, this lesser flamingo wades in the shallow waters, seeking for food. With its beak held upside down and moving from left to right in a semi-circle fashion, meals of mostly blue-algae are filtered and eaten.

The Eastern Rift Valley Lakes are home to almost 75% of the world’s population of the lesser flamingo. Lake Bogoria is a major breeding ground, and at given periods can house up to 1 million of these pink beauties.

As these lakes are high in sodium carbonate, some years back Tata Chemicals set up shop next to Lake Magadi to mine soda from the area, significantly damaging their habitat and displacing them to Bogoria, Nakuru, Baringo, and Elementeita- all relatively smaller lakes.

The soda extraction industry contributes significantly towards the economic development of the area, however the population of these birds there is now minimal. The environment around Magadi exudes a commercial and industrial feel, and Orwellian multi-level dormitories for the soda ash factory workers are scattered in the somewhat, impoverished-looking surrounds. This is no place for any bird, let alone a threatened species.

Striking a balance between economic development and conservation is never a simple task, but hopefully, we’ll figure it out before it’s too late for these birds.

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Glimmers of hope

In the struggle to secure animal rights for our creatures on this planet, we see slight glimmers of hope in pockets of the world. India’s Supreme Court is currently considering banning elephant rides in Goa and Rajasthan; Arusha and Dar-es-Salaam courts are currently prosecuting poachers, and their new President Magufuli appears to be armed with a solid stance against wildlife crimes and corruption; Kenya is planning to destroy their ivory stockpile in an apparently large public event to make a bold statement; and elephant deaths in Kenya are down by 80% vs 2013 figures. South Sudan has also recently discovered a small population of the rare and critically endangered Forest Elephant.

Amidst the doom and gloom of the ivory trade issue that we are all too familiar with, small successes show progress. And when there’s progress, there’s hope.

Of the highest caliber

A page of a catalogue is flipped. One page is adorned with a photograph of an East African Oryx. Found only north of the equator, this graceful creature has beautiful distinctive markings that can be spotted from miles away, with elegant, spiralled horns that lean towards the back. It lives in Samburu, a semi-arid savannah dotted with scrub and hills. This area was where George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness.

Exotic. Graceful. Stately. US$700. Recommended calibre: .300 Magnums.

This would be a page from a hunting catalogue if Kenya allowed trophy hunting. Elsewhere in Africa however, the industry is very much alive and legal, and continues unabated, at the expense of beautiful animals such as this oryx being killed for sport every single day.

How could it be that an animal, purposely described for its beauty, be described as a ‘beautiful game trophy’- an oxymoron, if there ever was one- on the very same page with which it is advertised?

May this antiquated sport be outlawed once and for all, and may there be a day when all animals are treated with the respect they deserve. Because all lives matter.