Category Archives: Interesting findings

Aids warning over bushmeat trade

Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 October, 2004, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK

A study of African hunters has shown that a virus similar to HIV has passed from apes to humans from bushmeat of the kind that is being sold illegally in the UK.

A leading scientist has told the File On 4 programme that the virus was probably passed on to tribesmen via body fluids when the animals were slaughtered and butchered.

Assistant Professor Nathan Wolfe, who tested more than 1,000 hunters for Johns Hopkins University, US, found a retrovirus from the same family as HIV in a number of them.

This is most likely the mechanism by which HIV emerged into the human population

Nathan Wolfe, Johns Hopkins University
“This is the area of the world where HIV came from, and this is most likely the mechanism by which HIV emerged into the human population,” he said.  Read more

Over-consumption not overpopulation will destroy the planet?!

Prospect Magazine

The overpopulation myth

Fred Pearce   8th March 2010  —  Issue 168

The idea that growing human numbers will destroy the planet is nonsense. But over-consumption will

Many of today’s most-respected thinkers, from Stephen Hawking to David Attenborough, argue that our efforts to fight climate change and other environmental perils will all fail unless we “do something” about population growth. In the Universe in a Nutshell, Hawking declares that, “in the last 200 years, population growth has become exponential… The world population doubles every forty years.”

But this is nonsense. For a start, there is no exponential growth. In fact, population growth is slowing. Read more

Life back in the Tsavo

I was pleasantly surprised when I came across a coalition of five cheetahs 2 km from the Kilaguni lodge airstrip in Tsavo West National Park. I have driven through this park over a dozen times in the last 4 years and the only cat I have ever saw was a leopard in Ngulia. But the group of cheetahs below (possibly a family) below was announcing loud and clear that Life is back in the Tsavo after the devastating drought that killed many animals particularly grazers like hippos and buffaloes. Like you may have seen in my earlier posts, even elephants died too.

When paying for my entry at the Mtito gate, I got curious when I saw an announcement by KWS informing visitors about the stench from the decomposing carcasses in the park. I understand Mzima spring was the worst affected. Though I didn’t get enough time to go there, I am sure it is time KWS removed that announcement as thing has since changed since the rains (El nino) started about 6 weeks ago……… if the photos below are anything to go by.

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Five cheetahs crossing the road majestically oblivious of excitment they had caused.

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24 giraffes, a dozen zebras and a troop of baboons all within a 200m X 200m space!!

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Two zebras grazing 200m away from the cheetahs

Iregi Mwenja

Wildlife Biologist

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Has Tanzania Broken Ranks With EAC Over Elephant Ivory Trade?

Written by Rhishja Larson

Published on November 3rd, 2009

Tanzania is reportedly preparing to ask CITES to lift the trade ban on elephant ivory, much to the dismay of its EAC neighbors, conservationists, and members of the tourism industry.

In a move that would surely undermine East African conservation efforts, Tanzania has taken up the position that a sanctioned sale of elephant ivory would provide much-needed financial support to the country’s anti-poaching measures.

This comes as a shock to the East African Community (EAC), considering that last year’s sanctioning of a one-off ivory auction is to blame for igniting a scourge of rampant elephant killings throughout Africa – particularly Kenya.

According to Tanzania’s The Citizen, both Tanzania and Zambia have prepared to appeal for the lift of the ivory trade ban at the March 2010 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in Quatar. Read More

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Qoute: “I’d rather die from eating genetically modified……”

I received this comment on a blog post I published regarding the rapid growth of the human population and the dire effects this could have on the planets resource particularly on protected areas which may give way to agriculture to feed the growing population. The comment raises the controversial issue of GMOs. Would you rather die from eating genetically modified foods than die from starvation? Is starvation a technological problem not a population one? Read the comment below and let me know your answer to my question.

Iregi Mwenja

Wildlife Biologist

The dire predictions assume one thing – that technology and/or agricultural efficiency remain about the same as they are now.

Does anyone need reminding about the poor agricultural prospects of southern California and Israel, if it weren’t for technology? Yet both have become breadbaskets for their areas, if not other areas as well.

In fact, improved efficiency and productivity in agriculture are responsible for a large amount of the increased agricultural output over the last several decades. I don’t know exactly how much, but it’s got to be at least 50%.

As I read in a newspaper recently, one man said (paraphrasing): “I’d rather die from eating genetically modified foods than die from starvation.”

Starvation is primarily a technological problem, not a populational one.

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‘Good news’ El nino in Tsavo

Finally, the long awaited rains are here! No one seems to care whether it is El nino or normal rains. But if my experience today is anything to go by, we will soon forget the ravages of drought and start wishing away the rains!!

I left Nairobi as usual for my monthly fieldwork in Taveta. As I approached Manyani, I noticed that the clouds were gathering, a sign that it would rain. This was confirmed a few kilometers ahead where I encountered a heavy downpour. Finally, the rains had arrived!! It was a great feeling watching the clouds, the drizzles and seeing the dry earth soak up the rainwater as if to quench its thirst after the prolonged drought. As I drove further along I realized that the downpour was getting heavier and what seemed normal rains soon began to change into what the Meteorological department predicted to be the long awaited El Nino rains.

It got worse as I approached Voi where small streams of raging flood water had formed along Mombasa road and at one point the road was completely flooded causing a heavy traffic snarl-up at the Mombasa road Voi railway crossing. Here, we thought that we may spend the night on the road as traffic come to a complete standstill for about an hour. Luckily, my 4X4 vehicle managed to meander through the two feet of flood water crossing the road and we safely arrived in Voi albeit late. At the Voi junction some shops were submerged in 1 foot of muddy water as you can see in the photos below. Finally, the long awaited El nino had announced to coming in a very big way here in Tsavo. The hippos of Tsavo River can now swim again!

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Driving towards Voi at Kibwezi where the first sign of rains started showing

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Signs of the rain coming in past Manyani

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Flooding caused by the heavy downpour at Mbololo

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The traffic jam at the Voi Mombasa Junction at the railway crossing

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Building under water in Voi

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Livestock caught unaware by the raging water

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Food disaster by 2050 – will the Parks make room for agric?!

With the population of the world at 9 billion in 2050, we may have 370m people facing famine worldwide. FAO says more land is needed to increase food production by 70% in 2050. In a country like Kenya where land is scarce now and famine is the order of the day, the situation will be grave serious in 40 years time when human population will have grown to over 60m people. We may be forced to sacrifice some land in our protected areas to feed this overblown human population!!! If you don’t want to contribute to this catastrophe, let us limit the number of kids per couple to 2. Please read the BBC NEWS article below for more details on the FAO report.

Iregi Mwenja

Food production ‘must rise 70%’

BBC NEWS Page last updated at 16:20 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 17:20 UK

Food production will have to increase by 70% over the next 40 years to feed the world’s growing population, the United Nations food agency predicts.

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Wildlife in National Parks no longer secures?

Kenya’s National Parks Not Free From Wildlife Declines

ScienceDaily (July 16, 2009) – Long-term declines of elephants, giraffe, impala and other animals in Kenya are occurring at the same rates within the country’s national parks as outside of these protected areas, according to a new study.

“This is the first time we’ve taken a good look at a national park system in one country, relative to all of the wildlife populations across the whole country,” Read more..

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Drought claims yet another elephant!

Yesterday I went to Kedong outside Tsavo West to witness another victim of the drought – a baby elephant being rescued. However, though calls were made to relevant authorities, no one turned up to help! This morning the sad news come, drought has claimed yet another life of an endangered species.

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The weak and emaciated baby elephant found at Kedong outside Tsavo West NP

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Community’s effort

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The sad ending less than 10 hours later

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Iregi Mwenja

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Jane Goodall Sees ‘Hope For Animals’

Jane Goodall Sees ‘Hope For Animals’

September 13, 2009

Sometimes, it seems like there’s no hope for the planet. Thousands of species go extinct every year, and climate change is closing in. But famed biologist Jane Goodall says she refuses to give up.

In her latest book, Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink, she writes, “There are surely plants and animals living in the remote places beyond our current knowledge. There are discoveries yet to be made.”

And, she says, there are species that have been pulled back from extinction by dedicated environmentalists.

The book is a collection of stories about those species and a celebration of the spirited efforts that saved them. Goodall tells Weekend All Things Considered Host Guy Raz that “if we think about only the downside of it, then we lose all hope, and then we are so discouraged that we don’t do anything.”

Goodall says one of the most important factors in saving a species is the emotional bond that develops between scientists and their subjects – like her attachment to the chimpanzees she studied in Tanzania.

“People I’ve talked with perhaps come from a discipline where it’s not considered scientific to have any kind of empathy with the animal you study,” Goodall says. “You’re supposed to be cold and scientific. But … we do have a personal connection with these creatures, and we do this work because we love it, and because we just couldn’t bear to let them vanish.”Read more