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A dikdik, one of the smallest and most graceful antelopes.

Welcome to Eco Wild!

In this issue:

1. An elephant never forgets...
2. Methane down under

1. An elephant never forgets... I would like to apologise for an error in the Sept. 19 Eco Wild where I mistakenly mentioned an exploding elephant population in Part 3. Anyone interested in conservation knows this is not the case at all (and boy, did I hear about it!). I was referring to the Sept. 12 Eco Wild issue where I outlined that some South African parks have reached their saturation points for elephants; unfortunately I had not clearly mentioned this reference in last week's newsletter. I apologise to my readers and assure you that there is NOT an elephant explosion; we must still fight to protect them!

The issue is not too many elephants, but lack of their habitat range. Due mostly to human population growth, elephants now have less area to wander, creating more damage to a specific area. African elephants spend up to 18-20 hours/day consuming 500 pounds of vegetation. They used to roam 100 miles before returning to the same area; however, now they stay in their small areas, which disturbs the ecosystem and can turn a closed woodland into grassland if the area is too small for the number of elephants. This explains why scientists are trying to translocate the elephants to a better suited area. However, translocation is expensive and needs expertise to move these 14,000 pound animals. In addition, as elephants are territorial, the newly transferred elephants become disorientated during the move and cannot always find food in their new area.

Elephant contraception is an alternative to elephant culling or translocation. This birth control device reduces elephant births by as much as 70% and lasts for a year. So if the elephant population changes and/or faces sudden decline, the birth control device can be removed in the field.

Again, this doesn't really solve the problem, since the issue is not too many elephants but lack of adequate space for them to roam. Well, at least my mistake motivated some people to submit their views! Jake Grieves-Cook of Porini Ecotourism and Tropical Places lobbied and coordinated a campaign against the ivory trade before the ban. He sums up the situation quite well:

"...And don't forget, any increase in elephant numbers over the last ten years will be made up entirely of juvenile elephants less than ten years old. With the resumption of sales of ivory by Zimbabwe to Japan there is a danger that poachers will be encouraged to start their operations again if markets are being re-opened. In fact it has been reported that over 1,500 elephants were poached in Zimbabwe last year. The problem is not increasing elephant numbers but loss of elephant rangeland through increasing human encroachment and cultivation in elephant habitat which brings the animals into conflict with people. So it is contraception for people that is required, not elephants, as it is actually the human populations that are "exploding"!

What we need are more protected areas for elephants and "migration corridors" to enable elephants to continue moving from one area to another instead of being penned into isolated parks. My own organisation, Porini Ecotourism, has set up a Wildlife Conservation Area at Eselenkei on community-owned land. We are now seeing elephants return to an area from which they had been absent for nearly twenty years after the intensive poaching of the 1980's. The community members are tolerating the presence of elephants as small-scale tourism is now producing an income for them. As this is a semi-arid area, it is not suitable for cultivation and it makes better economic sense to utilise the land for wildlife-related tourism which means allowing elephants to migrate into the area from Amboseli (National Park, Kenya)."

2. Methane down under

A mention of methane fuel-cells in last week's issue led to many enquiries about methane. I wanted to share some exciting news from the Aussies, who are making methanol gas from 30 million hectares of plantation trees! Within 50 years, they hope that using this methanol gas will reduce the carbon dioxide emissions by 400 million tonnes/year, which is just about the same amount emitted by the Australian energy sector! In addition, planting these trees restores degraded areas of land and will also create approx. 100,000 jobs in rural Australia by 2020 and 400,000 jobs by 2050. But the icing on the cake is that potentially enough methanol could be produced to replace liquid fuels made from crude oils, saving $US 18 billion by 2050. Another green point for the team down under!

I hope you enjoyed this week's issue as much as I enjoyed writing it; now I encourage you to take some action and go wild about East Africa, wildlife and ecotourism!

Thank you for your support!
Anne

Article ideas, quiz ideas, general feedback and other suggestions are always welcome! Please send them to: anne@eco-resorts.com.

If you would like to join the Eco Wild email eco forum discussion group, please send an email to: ecowild-subscribe@egroups.com. If you would prefer not to receive any more copies of the Eco Wild newsletters, please email anne@eco-resorts.com with "unsubscribe" in the subject line (sniff! !).

For permission to reprint this or any article from Eco Wild (formerly HMS corporate newsletter), please contact Anne Loehr at: anne@eco-resorts.com.

Copyright 2000 - All Rights Reserved Anne Loehr

Eco-Wild
Anne Loehr
Eco-resorts
P.O. Box 120
Watamu, Kenya

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