My Dear Friends, for those of us that are born optimists, 2007 has started well.
Unusual amounts of heavy precipitation may have caused some havoc in parts of East Africa, but for us here at the Conservancy the rain has had some very positive results. The vegetation is once again very lush and thick, the way it has not been for many years.
Birdlife is abundant. There have been comparatively few orphaned animals brought in, probably due to the fact that the rain has allowed nature to feed her own.
Our big New Years gift has been an unusual award: The esteemed American Association of Zoos and Aquariums every year carefully studies wildlife efforts all over the world. The Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy has been placed third on their list of…
“Top Ten Wildlife Conservation Success Stories of 2006”
Much work has gone into the Bongo breeding for rehabilitation program. All of us here are mighty proud and honored over the recognition by the AAZPA.
In my own world (of Cheetahs) there is as yet not too much progress to report.
Some years ago declining Cheetah populations prompted well intentioned worldwide conservation bodies to impose international laws to stop the “trade” in Cheetahs and their skins. While all of this has focused positive attention on the plight of the Cheetah, it has also resulted in some negative aspects.
Scientists tell us that many years ago the Cheetah population went through a genetic tunnel, meaning that all Cheetahs became as closely related as brothers. Due to their poor reproductive abilities following this decline the species came to the brink of extinction. Through the efforts of Cheetah conservation, the picture has improved somewhat. But especially in East Africa the future of these beautiful animals is far from secure.
Cheetahs Although it is agreed there is only one species of Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) with no subspecies, some scientists are totally opposed to mixing the South African with the East African Cheetah. We are not qualified to form an opinion on the merits of this highly specialized genetic intelligence. The practical result of this resistance to captive breed from other secure stock could be disastrous for the East African Cheetah.
In layman’s terms these are the facts:
South Africa, where Cheetah breeding has been most successful, does not encourage export for breeding of their captive born Cheetah. (Some say they have however exported Cheetahs to the Arab block?).
In Namibia, Cheetahs are very well preserved due to the efforts of the Cheetah Conservation Fund. In fact they are doing so well that the Namibian Government has forbidden captive breeding there, because they have too many cheetahs turned stock killers already. Export however once again is not allowed or encouraged following international regulations and/or opposition to inter-African breeding. Talk about a catch 22!!
The Chaircat To the north of us, Somalia has long struggled to control the exploitation of the shrinking populations of game there. Many animals have been confiscated and ended up in well run facilities in Dubai, where by sheer numbers successful breeding has taken place. To the best of our knowledge none have been released or repatriated to Africa. Rehabilitation to Somalia of course would at this time not make much sense for obvious reasons. Rehabilitation the northern Ranchlands of Kenya is the obvious answer. The Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy is ready and willing to participate. Let us hope that the International bodies who have successfully stopped the exploitation of Cheetahs will now see the merits in allowing the translocation of a breeding nucleus to assist the East African populations. The Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy is ready to start a breeding – for rehabilitation program.
On a more cheerful note, our talented web designer turned travel writer Chuck Cavanaugh. has joined us here to see our the operations of the Conservancy first hand.
At first Chuck, a “big city boy,” was apprehensive about the merits of life in Africa. There is an old Swahili saying: “Once you have drunk the waters of Africa you will return to drink again.” I think we have a convert and made a friend for life!!
This month two of the Conservancy’s Trustees have been invited to give a helping hand to the plight of the Asiatic Lion in India, by sharing their knowledge at a symposium there.
Iris will speak about the important role of a wild animal shelter in Conservation. Don’s expert advice is sought following successful translocations of species and rehabilitation back to their natural habitats. Both consider this invitation a great honor and a tribute to the achievements of the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy.
It seems my friends, our work is gaining international recognition!
Wishing you all a wonderful spring, I remain…