Hunting banned in Botswana

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Re: Hunting banned in Botswana

Postby Sfourie » Sun Nov 18, 2012 5:56 pm

Some more info of Van Aarde:

Professor Rudi J van Aarde was one of the co-authors of the scientific paper published in 2006 entitled “A scientific perspective on the management of elephants in Kruger National Park and elsewhere” The other 4 was Professors N Owen Smith, GIH Kerley, B Page and R Slotlow.

These 5 Professors state in their report: “The ultimate objectives of natural resource management are decided by society at large through democratic processes, including scientists as interested and concerned members of the public. In South Africa, the management of national parks is currently structured under a biodiversity mandate passed onto it through the institutional responsibility conferred by central Government. Society must ultimately judge the balance between local disappearance of some rare plants or the loss of a more substantial component of the ecosystem diversity, and the lives of the elephants killed to prevent this loss.”

How can society make determine which wildlife management strategies should be implemented? Does society know enough about wildlife management to make such a decision? Those who have studied wildlife and the management thereof should be the ones to make such a call. The above statement also does not conform to the Parks primary purpose of preserving that parks biodiversity.

In his paper, sponsored by the IFAW, entitled “Elephants – Facts and Fables Van Aarde states: “We have no proof of tree damage affecting bird distribution as has been speculated by some proponents of culling.” Yet leading ornithologists are erecting artificial nests across Kruger. Many raptor species are dependant on Acacias for nesting sites yet this is one of the tree species heavily targeted by elephants. In the very next sentence Van Aarde continues “A study in Zimbabwe showed that reduced tree cover induced a reduction in the number of ant and bird species in Miombo woodlands.”

Prof Van Aarde has introduced a new concept, that of natural cycles. According to him the elephant population at Chobe would collapse, the vegetation would then be restored and that elephants would ultimately return in numbers and the cycle would start again. Elephants were apparently 100 years ago standing shoulder to shoulder in Africa before the age of the ivory hunters. They say that 100 years ago the habitats had been eliminated in Botswana just as they are currently being eliminated. This is rubbish. With respect to baobabs, some of which are over 5000 years old, there would certainly have been evidence of elephants standing shoulder to shoulder. The initials David Livingston carved out on one of these trees are still visible today, 150 years on. These zoologists estimated the age of some trees in the Chobe riverine forest strip to be 100 years old, while most were double or tree times as old as their estimates. Nowhere where elephants severely altered their habitats, such as the Tsavo East National Park or Virunga National Park, has any rehabilitation of the habitat taken place. There is no scientific evidence to support this idea.

In a colloquium held at TUT Prof. Jan du Toit presented a paper which concerned the effects excessive elephants were having in the Chobe National Park. The paper recorded the destruction of the Chobe National Park’s once great riverine habitat. In conclusion Ron Thomson asked Prof. Du Toit: “In view of what you have already documented, what recommendations can you offer the Botswana Government concerning its management of Botswana’s clearly excessive elephant population?” Prof du Toit answered “My recommendation is that no elephant management actions should be taken at all. In fact, I would be devastated if the Botswana Government were to decide to institute any form of elephant culling in the Chobe. If they did that, it would mean the end of a wonderful research programme.”

Where do this man’s concerns lie? With the preservation of the Chobe National Parks biodiversity or with his research programme? Prof du Toit was reportedly a collaborating scientist with Prof van Aarde.

Do we want these people to be tasked with the management of our wildlife heritage while their concern is clearly only for their own pocket and research programmes? I do not and I will not stand back and watch them destroy what I love the most.
A Shangaan legend states that any man resting or sleeping in the shade of a baobab will become eccentric and forever be enslaved by Africa and its wilderness, guess it's too late for me.
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