Wildlife Blog

Hunters association to defend it's decision on captive-bred Lions

The South African Predator Association (SAPA) has taken note of a press release issued by the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA).

SAPA is of the opinion that some people may find the choice of words in the title of PHASA’s press release somewhat misleading, as it may suggest that SAPA is in some way involved in a court action. SAPA wishes to make it clear that it had no participation in any court proceedings. It is entirely an internal dispute between disgruntled PHASA members and the executive committee of PHASA.

SAPA and PHASA have struck a gentleman’s agreement not to attack each other in the press, but to resolve difficulties the responsible way – around a table. It is therefore perturbing to SAPA to read in PHASA’s press release, “SAPA has failed to convince it(PHASA)…. of the conservation value of captive-bred lions.”

SAPA has not yet been afforded the opportunity to present proof of the success of its efforts to the members of PHASA, so it is unclear how SAPA could have “failed.”

SAPA calls on the exco of PHASA to clarify the nature of the court proceedings involving them and to state categorically that it in no way involves SAPA or concerns captive-bred lion hunting. The South African Predator Association is not involved in PHASA’s internal difficulties and wishes to remain so.

We also urge PHASA to make every effort to resolve the difficulties within its ranks. PHASA is a flagship organization in the South African hunting milieu and any damage it suffers due to infighting will be detrimental to every true hunter and conservationist in South Africa.



ISSUED BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN PREDATOR ASSOCIATION, 18 NOVEMBER 2016

Researchers have found evidence of seven "strawberry leopards" in the north of South Africa in what is one of very few documented cases of these ultra-rare rare big cats outside India.

The result of an extraordinary genetic twist, strawberry or erythristic leopards are slightly paler than other leopards. Their black spots are reddish brown.

Some say these are the original "pink panthers", although Dr Mark Fellowes of the University of Reading UK, one of three authors of a recently-published paper on South Africa's strawberry leopards, isn't a fan of the nickname.

Read more

 

 

It is a common occurrence for wildlife and livestock to have the same diseases. Infinitely more is known on diseases that occur in livestock, due to the fact that they are domesticated and symptoms and illnesses are discovered before the animal dies. If a wild animal dies of an illness in the veld, it often goes by unnoticed.
Due to some of the larger types of wild animal falling onto the bovine category, it is no surprise that the same diseases that affect cattle can also affect buffalo, wildebeest and zebra. But unfortunately it does not stop there.

 

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD)

FMD affects all animals with cloven hooves like cattle, pigs, sheep and goats. It also spreads to wildlife like Cape buffalo and wildebeest. Buffalo are known to be one of the main hosts and any animals found with signs of the disease cannot be moved or sold, due to the fact that the disease is spread by contact between healthy and infected animals. This disease can be found all over Africa and outbreaks have been known to have huge financial impact on livestock farmers.

Corridor disease (CD)

Corridor disease mainly occurs in cattle and only animals that graze on the same veld where buffalo has been will be infected. The disease is carried by ticks called the brown ear ticks ad Lowveld brown ear ticks. In South Africa this disease is mainly found around the Kruger National Park and parts of KwaZulu-Natal with game farms and cattle farms in close proximity.

African swine fever (ASF)

Warthogs and bush pigs are the natural hosts for this disease that can spread to and domestic pigs and cause suffering, loss of new-borns and ultimately death. Contact between wild and domestic animals to transfer the disease carrying tick is the main cause of infection. This disease has no vaccine and occurs in all regions.

Bovine malignant catarrhal fever (BMCF) "snotsiekte"

This disease is mainly found in blue and black wildebeest, as they are the maintenance host for it. Cattle are infected when they come in close contact with these infected animals. This disease can lead to death in animals. To prevent spreading it is advised that cattle and wildebeest are kept at least 1000 m apart.

Tuberculosis (TB)

This was mainly a disease found in cattle, but has spread to other animals. It has been found in buffaloes in the Kruger National Park and other game reserves, and Kudus can also play a role in spreading the disease to cattle and other animals. All infected species will develop the disease. The disease is spread by breathing in the germ or coming into contact with contaminated grazing areas. This disease also poses a threat to humans who may come in contact with it through infected cow’s milk. This disease is found all over Africa and other parts of the world.

Trypanosomiasis (nagana)

Nagana occurs in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and to a lesser extent in South Africa. All domestic animals, including dogs and even humans are at risk. African buffalo, zebra, warthog, elephant, hippopotamus, rhinoceros and antelope are maintenance hosts. The tsetse fly is the vector that spreads the disease between livestock and wildlife. Frequent spraying and dipping of animals, use of insecticide-impregnated screens and flytraps can help control tsetse flies.

This is only some of the diseases that can occur in wildlife and even domestic animals. Come join the chat on the BuyWildlife-forum to share your knowledge, and see what others have to share.

Wildlife Auctions
 

Wildlife Auctions have experienced a booming growth over the past decade or so. At the beginning of the millennium, farmers that had game on their farm would think long and hard about spending anywhere close to R1 million on a single animal. But that conservative thinking has gone out the window.

The sale of a 25% stake in a single Cape buffalo bull named Horison (Horizon in Afrikaans – for the exceptional width of the horns) for R44 million has caused the industry as a whole to take note again of the high prices that is paid for game. Where a few years ago selling game was a question of bringing new blood into your own herd, this trend has seen it develop into an investment. And nothing has a more polarising effect on this industry than exotic game and colour variations. Whether you believe it to be a sustainable market or a quick way to make a buck, could determine who sits next to you at the next auction.

But regardless of the motivation to buy a single animal for a price exceeding the GDP of many small countries, the fact that the gaming industry has grown exponentially can’t be denied. Over the past decade, the local industry has grown a cumulative 34% every year to over 12 000 commercial game farms on abut 28,4 million ha of land.

 

Wildlife Auction Studies

In a study done by the Endangered Wildlife Trust, it was found that the sale of living game in 2014 grossed nearly R4,3 billion, of which R2,5 billion was private sales between farmers. 

But many new players in this game sees the industry as an ATM, and does not consider the hard work and effort that still goes into this type of farming. If you are willing to put in the hard yards and get your animals to the next auction, have a look at this handy calendar that we have here on Buywildlife.co.za. Not only do we list all the biggest upcoming auctions, but we also offer you the opportunity to let us know of smaller auctions, or you can even sell your animals directly by placing a free ad. Who knows, maybe the next R44 million animal is just a few clicks away.

For more information on auctions and event please click here.

Syncerus Caffer, or the Cape buffalo, is the most common species of buffalo. Even though other species do live on the continent, in Southern Africa this is mostly what you will come across. Due to its size and unpredictable nature, the only predators that can threaten Cape buffalo is lions and of course humans. Unlike its Asian counterpart, the water buffalo, Cape buffalo has not been domesticated at all. It also forms part of the big five. It is widely regarded as a very dangerous animal, as it gores and kills over 200 people every year.

 

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Appearance of Cape Buffalo

This bovine species can reach a shoulder height of up to 1,7 m and a body length of up to 3,4 m. Adults can weigh anything between 300 and 900 kg. The legs are relatively short and combined with the longish body, it gives the buffalo a stocky appearance. The head is carried low with the top below the backline. The adult buffalo's horns are its characteristic feature as they are fused at the base forming a continuous bone shield referred to as a "boss". Horn length may be as long as 160 cm along the outer curve in large males, with a horizontal spread greater than 90 cm. This is usually a determining factor when it comes to the buying and selling of the animals.
The front hooves are generally wider than the rear as this is where most of the animal’s weight is carried. The hide is usually a solid colour without any patterns and the colour ranges from rich red to black depending on the subspecies. Adult Cape buffalo are extremely dark brown or black, with males typically darker than females; old male savannah buffalo may develop grizzled white patches around the eyes and are colloquially known as ‘dugga boys’.

 

Behaviour

The animals usually live in large herds of anything between 50 to 500 animals, but smaller herds are not uncommon. Up to the age of two years, offspring will stick to the mother to form a smaller group within the herd. The bond between females is especially strong but the entire herd will respond to distress calls, making it possible for blind or wounded individuals to survive in a herd setup.
Adult males sometimes form bachelor groups within the herd, or are found in a smaller group apart from the herd in a group of similar aged males. Old males are also known to be solitary.
Herds are non-migratory and usually remain in the same home range. Depending on the rainfall and the population density that the range can sustain, it can be anything between 10 and 1075 km².

 

Cape Buffalo Diet

The buffalo requires water daily, so are usually found in an area where water can be accessed. Buffalo can live on tall coarse grasses and a herd can mow down tall grasses making way for other more selective grazers.

 

Threats

The Cape buffalo is susceptible to many diseases, including bovine tuberculosis, corridor disease and foot and mouth disease. As with many diseases, these problems will remain dormant within a population as long as the health of the animals is good. These diseases do, however, restrict the legal movements of the animals and fencing infected areas from unaffected areas is enforced. Some wardens and game managers have managed to protect and breed "disease-free" herds which become very valuable because they can be transported.

 

One of the Big Five and the focus of many media reports, rhinos were once abundant in Africa and Asia. Some scientists believe these horned mammals have been around for millions of years and it’s estimated that there were around 200 000 around at the start of the twentieth century.
Today rhinos are some of the world’s most threatened animals, and three of the five species are currently listed as critically endangered. Conservation efforts around the world intensify with each passing day, but especially the Asian species are on the brink of total extinction. However, the southern white rhino’s story is one of tragedy turned triumph.

 

 

White Rhino

The white rhino is found in Africa and is divided into two species – the southern and northern white rhinos. In the early 1990 there were only 50 or so southern white rhinos left. Thanks to some massive conservation efforts this number has steadily risen to more or less 20 000 today.
The northern white rhino has a completely different story though. Only four exist today – all in captivity.
The white rhino isn’t actually white. It’s believed that it got its name due to a mistranslation of the Afrikaans word “wyd” which means wide. The white “wyd” rhino is of course then also large and the bigger of the two African species. They sport larger heads and adult males grow to weigh anything from 1 800 to 2 500kg. At birth they clock in at 40 – 60kg and females weigh between 1 800 – 2000kg. They generally reach a shoulder height of between 1.5 and 1.8m and have grey skin.
The white rhino have a hump on its back and has two horns on the end of its nose. The major difference between the white rhino and its black counterpart is their mouths. Because the white rhino feeds mostly on grass, it has a broad upper lip suitable for eating grass.

 

Black Rhino

The black rhino species has suffered the most regarding a drop in population during the last century. Between 1970 and 1995 the population dropped by 96%. By 1996 there were only an estimated he population dropped from approximately 65 000 to only 2,300 surviving in the wild.
However, since 1996 intense anti-poaching efforts have had a positive effect, bringing that number up to around 5 055.
The black rhino isn’t actually black either and it’s suspected that it derives its name from the dark mud the animals are often covered in. It’s also known as the hook-lipped rhino referring to its pointed lips adapted for feeding from trees and shrubs. This is also its most distinguishing characteristic.
Black rhinos weigh between 800 and 1350kg and are between 1.4 to 1.7m long (shoulder length).

 

Asian Rhinos

Asian rhinos include the Indian, Javan and Sumatran. Having once roamed across most of Asia, a total of less than 4 000 can now be found in just five countries, namely India, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Because of all the folds in their skin, Asian rhinos have a more armoured look than African rhinos. Asian rhinos are excellent swimmers, graze on tall grasses, shrubs, leaves and some fruits. The greater one-horned rhino and the Javan rhino only have one horn, while the Sumatran has two.
The Sumatran rhino is the smallest of the Asian species. It grows to 2.5 to 3 m long, up 1.5 m from hoof to shoulder and weighs around 800 kg. The Indian rhino clocks in between 1 600 to 2 200kg.

 

Behaviour

According to the African Wildlife Foundation, rhinos live in home ranges that sometimes overlap with each other and sometimes share feeding grounds, water holes and wallows.
The black rhino is usually solitary while the white rhino tends to be much more gregarious. Rhinos are also rather ill-tempered and have become more so in areas where they have been constantly disturbed.
When attacking, the rhino lowers its head, snorts, breaks into a gallop reaching speeds of 30 miles an hour, and gores or strikes powerful blows with its horns. Still, for all its bulk, the rhino is very agile and can quickly turn in a small space.

 

Diet

The various species of rhinos favour different foods, but all rhinos are herbivores.

 

Breeding

Females can attain sexual maturity as early as three years of age, but it’s usually closer to six years. Males usually mature more slowly, and can take as long as ten or twelve years before reproducing.
The calf can take up to 18 months to be born, but smaller species of rhino can develop in as few as 12 months. The mother gives birth to a single calf, which will stay attached to the mother for up to three years. Weaning generally occurs after a year, when the calf begins grazing or browsing for itself.

 

Predators

The main threat to rhinos across the world are poaching by humans and loss of habitat.

 

Nyala bul (3yr) on auction to help raise funds

Hey all, I have a Nyala bul (3yr) on auction. All funds go to my son Hekkie Grobler who were diagnosed with Leukemia in March this year. His project "Bone marrow for Hekkie" raised just over R130 000.00 up to date, that have covered some of the medical cost and transport from and too Unitas hospitale in Pretoria, where he have reseved medical attention, chemo aswell as his bone marrow transplant in October. His little brother Kobus donated 900ml of his bone marrow for Hekkie. The total amount still outstanding stands at +- R350 000.00. We ask you all to join the action and at the same time help raise money for Hekkie's medical bills. Comment a price that you are willing to pay and lets see if someone will beat that....Its all for a good cause!!!!

For more info regarding Hekkie please inbox me or call on 082 4466 133

 

The African lion: what faster decline of apex predator means for ecosystems

There is nothing as awe-inspiring as watching the brutal power of a lion capturing its prey. At close range, their throaty roars thump through your body, raising a cold sweat triggered by the fear of what these animals are capable of doing now, and what they once did to our ancestors. They are the most majestic animals left on our planet, and yet we are currently faced with the very real possibility that they will be functionally extinct within our lifetime.

In fact, lion populations throughout much of Africa are heading towards extinction more rapidly than previously thought, according to new research by Oxford biologist Hans Bauer and colleagues, published in PNAS. The team looked at 47 sites with credible and repeated lion surveys since 1990, and found they were declining everywhere in Africa aside from four countries: Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

West and Central African lion populations have a 67% chance of halving in size in just two decades, and East African populations a 37% chance. Almost all large lion populations that once exceeded 500 individuals outside of southern Africa are declining. These declines in Africa’s apex predator occur at the same time that the continent’s mega-herbivores are also plummeting.

 

Fences save animals

Governance problems are less severe in the southern regions. These countries have also recognised the sad reality that large dangerous wildlife often come off second best when interacting with people. Consequently, these countries often fence their conservation areas. Where lions are free to wander in and out of East Africa’s flagship reserves like the Serengeti or the Masai Mara, their cousins in South Africa’s Kruger National Park are fenced in.

This is a sad acknowledgement that our existing conservation actions aimed at living alongside wildlife are failing, but a robust analysis conducted recently points to the value of fences. Though they fragment habitats, potentially lead to genetic isolation and require costly upkeep (some say too costly) smaller, fenced reserves may be lions' best hope. It takes a lot of hard work to maintain the fences and keep the animals in – and poachers out.
Africa without its top predator

Bauer and colleagues caution that lions “may no longer be a flagship species of the once vast natural ecosystems” across much of Africa. Research I’ve carried out with colleagues just published in the same journal reinforces the devastating implications this will have on their wider ecosystems.

We predicted what the mega-predators of the Pleistocene (2.5m to 11,700 years ago) would have killed. These predators, including sabre-toothed cats, cave lions, dire wolves and Homotherium (scimitar-toothed cats), were substantially larger than their modern day equivalents and were faced with a lot more competition from rival carnivores.

The largest of these would have regularly killed prey up to the size of juvenile mammoths and mastodons. This is likely to have meant some degree of top-down limitation on numbers of mammoths, giant sloths and other mega-herbivores, protecting the landscape and keeping ecosystems balanced. When the mega-predators died off – over the past 10,000-40,000 years or so – this control was lost. And this same lack of top-down limitation of herbivores by predators is likely to happen again as today’s lion populations are lost.

We can get a sense of these changes from the fact lion pride sizes are getting smaller. Lion pride sizes averaged about 24 between 1885 and 1950, and have declined dramatically to about nine since then. Human hunting seems likely to be the driver of this decline where larger prides were easier to detect and therefore hunt, which led to artificial selection against large prides.

Given cooperation between lots of lions is needed to successfully hunt an elephant, smaller prides mean smaller prey. These days only a few sites with unusually large prides have lions that actively hunt the biggest species, including elephants.

Such a change in impacts of apex predators is likely to lead to fundamental changes in the ecosystems in which they live. There will be less control of herbivore numbers, so overpopulation may become an issue. Indeed controlling overabundant herbivores such as kudu antelopes has been the primary driver behind reintroducing large predators in Africa.

With dense bushes near rivers and other obvious ambush spots no longer being so risky, vegetation will change. Those bushes will be eaten away. This may benefit some species at the expense of others and will have cascading effects throughout the ecosystem.

As they sit at the top of Africa’s food chain, declining lion numbers highlight a wider conservation crisis. Learning more about lions and funding on-ground action to protect them, coupled with improved and open governance of states in which they live, could help to avert this crisis.

Original posted at: http://theconversation.com/the-african-lion-what-faster-decline-of-apex-predator-means-for-ecosystems-49688