Peter Borchert reports on the 17th meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties, which took place towards the end of last year in Johannesburg What do masobe geckos, silky sharks, Barbary macaques, tomato frogs and Cape mountain zebra have in common with lion, rhino, elephant and Natal ginger? Yes, they are all African life forms, but their real significance is that they and no fewer than a further 24 African species or groups of species were all up for discussion at the recent 17th meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP17), which took place in Joburg from 24 September to 5 October, 2016. You might think that events aimed at protecting wildlife from over-exploitation would be pretty straightforward, and to a large extent they are. But often consensus around whether a species might be traded and within what parameters this might take place is distressingly hard to come by. Frequently there are deep divisions leading to dissension and sometimes downright hostility among ..
Taking 18 days off the original Guinness World Record, Mark Beaumont cycled from Cairo to Cape Town in just over 41 days. Olivia Rook caught up with him to find out how he survived this epic challenge. Photographs by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, Tim Chevallier and Anton Crone What made you want to become an explorer? I started cycling very young on the farm in the Highlands of Scotland. When I was 12, I biked across Scotland and this naturally led to many expeditions by the time I left university. In the last decade I have travelled to 130 countries, made numerous BBC documentaries and written three books. So from small beginnings, a career has happened quite by accident. How did you prepare for the trip? My training took place during a very harsh Scottish winter, so I often ended up on the velodrome and in my garage on the static bike. I also fell run regularly, as it’s the best form of preparation for expedition cycling. Being unable to carry much with you, what essentials did you pack..
Your questions answered by those who really know FAMILY I have young children and need to travel in the school holidays. Is there anywhere that you would recommend for around Easter time? Wouter Vergeer, SafariBookings South Africa is an excellent safari destination for families, but you should book ahead. If you choose an organised safari, remember to tell your operator your kids’ ages. Kruger National Park, with its outstanding wildlife density, is ideal for children, who shouldn’t have to wait long to see an elephant lumber across the road. Accommodation caters for all budgets, too: Olifants Rest Camp, teetering on the brink of a spectacular bluff, is very affordable. Singita Ebony Lodge, just outside Kruger, runs a Mini Rangers programme for children. Pilanesberg Game Reserve, in the crater of an extinct volcano, is another option and has swimming pools and playgrounds. ZIMBABWE HIGHLIGHTS I have been to Africa many times but never to Zimbabwe. What, would you say, are the countr..
Safari for Real guide and author Lex Hes reflects on this quote by Adolph Murie One of the great joys and privileges of going on safari in Africa is that we have the opportunity of intimately observing wildlife and wildlife interactions in the natural world. This is because much of the wildlife has become habituated to the presence of the game-viewing vehicles and basically continues with their daily lives as though the vehicles do not exist. This is an incredible privilege, as there are few places in the world where one can spend so much quality time observing large animals behaving naturally in the wild from such close quarters. There are an unending number of joyous interactions that we get the opportunity to witness: a female leopard joining up with her cubs after a few days away hunting; hyena cubs interacting with various other individuals at the den; incredibly cute little dwarf mongooses basking in the sun on a winter’s morning; meerkats standing upright like little people; ..
How would you describe a rhinoceros? Maybe as “a large unwieldy quadruped with a horn or two horns on the nose and thick folded and plated skin”. Likewise, would you say the hippo is “a large pachydermatous quadruped inhabiting rivers, etc”? Obvious really, but how about the origins and meanings of the words ‘rhinoceros’ and ‘hippopotamus’? Well Shaka and his lads never studied much Latin or Greek and the Concise Oxford was a little out of reach, so they came up with the novel idea of using a noticeable characteristic to describe what they saw or heard. Thus, the hippo was simply “the fat one” (iMvubu). They also noticed two types of rhino – the white one was “the bulky one” (uMKhombe) whilst his black cousin was “the vicious one” (uBejane). Presumably it was experience that led them to call the elephant iNdlovu – “the trample”. Certainly it is more characterful than “a huge four-footed pachyderm with a proboscis and long curved ivory tusks”. The Zulus’ poetically-descriptive obse..
Forget Serengeti’s wildebeest herds. Africa’s biggest migration of mammals occurs once a year in a small forest in northern Zambia – and these wanderers have wings, not hooves. When Stephen Cunliffe visited the fabled bat roost of Kasanka, however, he discovered that the bats were just the start of the action. We stumbled and squelched deeper into the swamp beneath a brilliant star-studded sky. The sucking mud of the waterlogged forest floor made every step an effort. This was my first early morning foray into Kasanka’s legendary mushitu swamp forest and, as I plodded forward, I kept a watchful eye on the reassuring bobbing of my guide’s headlamp 20m ahead. Kenneth ‘Batman’ Changwe, with 15 years experience in the park as scout and guide, was my trusty companion. Soon we arrived at the base of a gigantic waterberry. “We go up there,” said Changwe, indicating a rickety-looking ladder that disappeared into the inky blackness. “Carefully!” he added. An exhilarating climb took us to a p..
Like most countries across Africa, Botswana is vast, with too many attractions to feasibly fit into one holiday. So where do you begin? To set you on your way we have compiled a list of Botswana’s key attractions and offered some advice on the practicalities. Our trade partners listed will be able to help with further advice and personal planning. Okavango Delta The jewel in Botswana’s crown, this vast wetland flexes between 6000 and 15,000 square kilometres as annual floods come and go. The delta marks the point where the Okavango River spreads out onto the 1000m-thick Kalahari sands and soaks away to nothing. Consisting of floodplains, lagoons and a maze of islands, it’s largely uninhabited and home to copious wildlife and birdlife. It’s studded with small lodges, offering game drives and walks, and rides in a mokoro (a traditional dugout canoe). The Okavango is good at any time. Tsodilo Hills Among the 800 million-year-old hills of quartzite schist are more than 5000 individual ro..
“A blind safari!” exclaimed friends. This was often the response when I said that I was going to take visually impaired people on safari to Africa. “Surely Africa is all about seeing things.” Funnily enough, I initially was inclined to agree but then when I really thought about it my first sense would be the sound of melodious honking hippos closely followed by the smell of the baked earth, then the feel of the warm sun caressing my face and then watching a lion cub discovering its surroundings. Seeing Africa is secondary, you really have to feel Africa first. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about my first safari for visually impaired (VI) and blind people, I so wanted everyone to immerse themselves into Swaziland and to genuinely visit the Kingdom, leaving with happy and insightful memories and having experienced Swaziland in every possible capacity. I had first approached Traveleyes after meeting Amar, the Director, at the World Travel Market, I genuinely believed that Swa..
The Big 5 refers to five large mammals found in Africa which are the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and cape buffalo. So why not a hippo, or a giraffe, they are quite big aren’t they? The hippo certainly is. The reason for the Big 5 name is that these five animals were the hardest to shoot by big-game hunters as they are particularly ferocious when cornered and injured. Tour operators and guides have picked up the phrase and used it as a marketing term and it very cleverly it has stuck. Most people who request to see the Big 5 are unaware of the origin of this terminology, if they did, I wonder whether it would be as used as much. It is a bit of a shame as sometimes visitors are obsessed in seeing the Big 5 and forget to pay attention to all the other amazing sights and sounds that Africa has to offer. So please give some time to giraffe, zebra and impala as well as all the birds and the smaller animals. Where to see: the Big 5 can be seen in many reserves in Africa but it is worth do..
Africa’s most iconic safari destination? It’s a tough call, but the Serengeti and Kruger National Parks can both stake a strong claim to the title. Here, Philip Briggs pits the two safari heavyweights against each other. The Serengeti, dominating the wild northwest of Tanzania, lies at the core of a vast migratory ecosystem that incorporates the adjacent Ngorongoro Conservation Area and cross-border Masai Mara Reserve to cover an area comparable to Belgium or Switzerland. South Africa’s similarly extensive Kruger, home to more mammal species than any other African reserve, is the cornerstone of a Transfrontier Park that extends into Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and shares unfenced boundaries with legendary private reserves such as Sabi Sands and MalaMala. That the Kruger and Serengeti both warrant iconic status is not in question. I’ve personally spent a total of perhaps three months in each over the years, and I doubt that the day will come when I tire of either. But if I had to recomme..