Cash before conservation: New report probes the South African captive Lion industry


The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), champion of conservation in Africa, has been calling for radical change in the captive African Lion industry in South Africa since before 2009. Our key concerns include: the welfare of the animals; the safety of visitors; a lack of transparency by the facilities; and the potential impacts on wild Lion populations (EWT Position Statement). Today, our concerns are echoed in new report entitled Cash Before Conservation: An Overview of the Breeding of Lions for Hunting and Bone Trade, published by the Born Free Foundation (report).

The report finds that:

  • Trade in captive Lion parts has been linked to the trafficking of other wildlife products with prominent Lion breeders being linked to rhino poaching syndicates. The most prominent of these is Thai national Chumlong Lemtonghtai, who worked for one of the largest international wildlife smuggling syndicates, The Xaysavang Company, and who was found guilty of permit fraud related to the pseudo-hunting of rhinos. The Xaysavang Company has been linked to rhino horn and ivory smuggling.
  • The captive Lion industry has received support from key members of national and provincial government, including the current Minister of Environmental Affairs when she fulfilled various senior roles in the North West Province government – the hub of captive Lion hunting. Under her leadership, the captive Lion industry grew in the province and was promoted as an acceptable form of wildlife utlisation.
  • There is an increasing resistance to captive Lion hunting in the formal hunting industry, with international and national hunting organisations taking stands against the practice. When the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (PHASA) decided to support captive hunting in November 2017, the association was ousted from the larger hunting industry with sponsors withdrawing and the Operators and Professional Hunting Associations of Africa (OPHAA), the Namibia Professional Hunting Association, the Boone and Crocket Club in the USA, and the Nordic Hunting Club all severing ties with PHASA. Despite this, the industry continues to promote itself and receive government support.
  • There is an association between Lion breeding and the emerging trade in donkey skins to Asia. Donkeys are often used to feed captive Lions and their skins are now being exported to Asia for use in skin care products. Government officials in the North West Province are promoting the trade to create jobs while other African countries are working to shut down the trade and welfare organisations express concern around the wellbeing of the donkeys.

South Africa has approximately 8,000 Lions in captivity that are kept for various commercial purposes including: cub petting, “walking-with” initiatives, photographic tourism, and for hunting and their bones. Between 2003 and 2013, nearly 7,500 lion trophies left the country, the vast majority of which were from canned hunts. More recently, captive Lions have been used to supply the demand for Lion bones in Asia. In early 2017, the South African government announced a quota of 800 Lion skeletons that will be allowed for export. The EWT recognises the critical importance of unlocking opportunities for job creation and poverty alleviation in South Africa and we believe that the wildlife economy has great potential to do this. We do, however, remain concerned that the principles of ecological sustainability have been obscured by the increasing commodification of our wildlife resources. We are further concerned about the links between legal Lion bone trade and notorious smuggling syndicates.

The South African captive Lion industry has been under the international spotlight and many reputable conservation and hunting organisations have distanced themselves from the industry and its practices. South Africa has a world-class conservation reputation and the captive breeding of Lions for hunting and their bones is detracting from this.

We call on the South African government to act urgently to put an end to this practice, to protect South Africa’s reputation and Lions. We also call on our government to stop legitimising a practice that is merely intensive breeding of animals for commercial gain and has no positive impact on conservation.

These facilities need to be closed down to protect the staff and visitors who are frequently injured – and even killed ­ through interactions with Lions that have lost their fear of humans. Just last month a lady was killed by a captive Lion at a facility outside Johannesburg. We call on members of the public not to visit captive operations and to find ways of enjoying and appreciating Lions where they belong – in the wild.


Dr Kelly Marnewick
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Wildlife in Trade Programme
Senior Trade Officer
Tel: + 27 82 477 770

Ashleigh Dore
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Wildlife in Trade Programme
Programme Coordinator

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A remarkable observation

On the second week of this month January, I had plans to visit one of the communities in Lothair and I knew that I have to at least make a detour and pass at one of the Grey Crowned Cranes I used to monitor. As it is still time for breeding and bearing in mind late rains from last year, I had a feeling of seeing at least a pair around if not breeding.
When I approach the site like usual I drove slowly not to scare birds away as this small reed wetland not only accommodates cranes but also some water birds like Spoonbills, Egyptian geese, herons and Ibises among others. The site is also very close to the road and which makes it even interesting for the cranes not to be bothered by the passing vehicles and people. Up on arrival I saw them walking on the edge of the wetland not showing any signs of moving away and with my experience I knew that I am up for a surprise even though I did not see chicks at that moment. Just for the record, this pair also hatched two chicks last year which shows how suitable the site to them.
Remember I was actually on my way to meet community of Lothair and check how their vegetable garden was doing. I decided to leave, as I could not see chicks as they were hiding on the vegetation. As I was with the community my mind was elsewhere as I knew there is something to go back for. When arriving at the site I had my camera ready and there they were walking and this time with three chicks I thought. I was left speechless when I saw the fourth one as I thought they were only three. I told myself that my day was complete as this was something amazing I have ever seen since I monitored this pair in 2014. As I left the site, I just had one wish for the four chicks to reach fledging stage without anything happening and I am hopeful that with the planned aerial survey we will get more success in this year breeding season.

Article by Steven Segang, Highveld Community Field Officer, South Africa


Posted in African Crane Conservation Programme | 2 Comments

The Rugezi Marsh bio blitz and community surveys

From 11th December 2017 to 28th January 2018, in addition to Crane monitoring and attending different workshops, the team embarked on projects related to Rainforest Trust Project such as carrying out Rapid biodiversity and socio-economic surveys aimed at assessing the acceptability of enhancing the Protected Area status for Rugezi Marsh, and the feasibility of introducing an Ecosystem-based Management System.
On 11th December 2017 Rwanda country Coordinator, project field assistants and Dr Adalbert Aine-Omucunguzi, the regional manager together with Geographical Information System(GIS) expert Mr Concorde Nsengumuremyi from Kitabi College of Conservation and Environment management went through Rugezi marsh with a purpose of experimenting the pre-test for a successful biodiversity survey on due date. The GIS expert was so helpful and he later on designed a map of Rugezi marsh Cleary showing the transects drawn within and the map was shared amongst the team for the review.
Dr Adalbert (Regional manager), Kamanzi , Oliver (Field Assistant), Concorde (GIS expert) Cynthia from General Architecture collaborative.
Map of Rugezi Wetland with the transects for a biodiversity survey.

After the pre-test of the methodology used, different government institutions such as Rwanda Development Board(RDB), Rwanda Environment Authority(REMA) and definitely both Burera and Gicumbi district where the marsh is located were invited to delegate at least one of their technical staff to be part of the Rapid biodiversity and Socio-economic surveys at Rugezi.
On 19th Jan.2018 we conducted at REMA Conference hall under the request from the technical team from Rwanda Environment Management Authority that reviewed our request, a lots were shared through a colourful presentation on the intended project by Dr Adalbert Aine-Omucungizi, Richard Nasasira and Kamanzi, discussions experienced quite number of challenges towards having management of Rugezi marsh and one of their wishes as REMA was to have a clear defined sustainable management plan of Rugezi marsh Rwanda Ramsar site focal point said, They were so supportive and eager to learn more from the findings/outcomes of the study.
On 21st Jan, the team of experts in different aspects: Insects, mammals, Birds, plants, amphibians and reptiles gathered 36 Students 2nd year Wildlife Management class at Kitabi College of Conservation and Environment management (KCCEM) for a workshop that were facilitated by Dr Adalbert, Richard Nasasira, Kamanzi and the team of experts in the above mentioned aspects. Students were so excited and looking forward to exploring more on the field.
Dr Adalbert Aine-Omucungizi facilitating the workshop at KCCEM

The following day on 22nd Jan, the entire team travelled from KCCEM to Burera district where we were warmly received by the Vice Mayor of the district in charge of welfare and development together with directors, technical staff involved in environmental conservation, Director of district business development who expressed district interest in promoting tourism among others. The colourful welcoming to the team were a result of amazing discussion Kamanzi Jean Pierre (Country Project Coordinator) had had with The Mayor of the district on various projects with the focus of ongoing project aiming at assessing the acceptability of enhancing the Protected Area status for Rugezi Marsh, and the feasibility of introducing an Ecosystem-based Management System under Rainforest Trust Project. District Mayor was so supportive and acknowledging the impact of ICF/EWT/KCCEM partnership projects so far has made more especially in livelihoods improvement context.
Dr Adalbert, Kamanzi giving Crane Flying T-shirt to Vice Mayor, Burera District
The moments shared with district officials were remarkable, welcoming leaders provided a tremendous hospitality to the team right from the day one to day last of the survey, in fact students had gone with their camping tents and the security was guarantee, we set up 4 groups which camped in 4 different camp sites and all of them none did complain about their basic needs and security because they were provided. The entire team did a tremendous work but more especially students who put much of their efforts pricelessly to achieve the intended goal. Team work was a key to making a rapid biodiversity and socio-economic whereas each group got split into 2 on second day of the survey and each group was given an expert and 2 local persons to ensure the completion of the exercise timely.
For Biodiversity, a number of species were observed and recorded accordingly and the transects of 200 meters each were established and the team managed to make 82 transects irrespective of some barriers experienced.
For socio-economic survey, it was amazing the way the leadership was so helpful like we could only make a team of 3 to 4 interviewers and the local community was encouraged to form a group within sectors for a group discussion. Key informant and 15 households were also interviewed and we are looking forward to having positive results visa-vi our goal.

KCCEM student with a net to collect aquatic species for further identification with the team. The extreme end there is a delegate from REMA in white cape checking the camera of an expert to view different species captured.

Senyanzobe JMV(PhD candidate), Plant Expert through the marsh to identify plant species within
For some cases, while identifying plant experts and students could take pictures and collect specimens to their camping sites for further consultative specie identification in a group.
In addition to the Grey Crowned Crane, more birds species were found in Rugezi..Grey Helon to mention

Under Socio-economic, Group discussion were carried out successfully and the following image was captured during an amazing chat Rukundo Emmanuel (one of the field assistants), KCCEM Students were having with the community members of Kivuye Sector.


Throughout the entire period of carrying out both biodiversity and socio-economic surveys Students were secured but also self-secured due to the remarkable discipline they have shown said by Senior Sperterndant of Police Alex Fata who is the district police commander and he mentioned that saving cranes and even other endangered species is relatively compared to saving human lives thus securing God’s creatures.
In line with MacArthur foundation funds mission, KCCEM students were equipped and learned a lots on the field with the help of experts as it was testified by the Students Guild President spoken at the closing event while sharing lunch with ICF/KCCEM staff and district officials.
Apart from the commander of police, students had an opportunity to interact with Dr Adalbert Aine-Omucunguzi who commended the continuity of their hardworking spirit and discipline as paramount, he also mentioned that ACCP is promising full support where possible towards making them future conservation leaders.
Other district officials were also present like district immigration officer, director of district business development unlike the executive council which had gone for some meetings in Kigali, Nevertheless the May delegated district partnership coordinator who was the guest of honor.
Mayor delegate assured the continuity and fair collaboration between the district officials, local leaders and the entire community of burera district and ICF/EWT/KCCEM partnership towards introducing an Ecosystem-based Management System of Rugezi Wetland.
Besides that, as a sign of interest picked by Mayor sent a message on Kamanzi Jean Pierre (Project Coordinator)’s person cell phone acknowledging the fact that ICF/EWT/KCCEM have been good partners of the district and expressing how much people of Burera are great full and excited for the upcoming projects.
Closing day after sharing lunch with district officials: District police commander in the Uniform, Immigration officer, director of District business development,Munana Daniel, District partnership Coordinator(May delegate) and Dr Adalbert behind ensuring the students animation.

Article by Jean Pierre Kamanzi

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Win a game drive with our big cat experts this World Wildlife Day!


‘Keep them wild’ photography competition – win a drive on the wild side with the EWT’s big cat experts

World Wildlife Day is celebrated annually on 3 March, and the theme for 2018 is Big cats: predators under threat. To celebrate this, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), champion of conservation in Africa, is launching a photography competition, and asking the public to help us ‘keep them wild’.

The aim is simple – we want to see your photos of beautiful big cats where they belong, in the wild! Send your photo, featuring any of the big cats found in South Africa (Lions, Leopards, or Cheetahs) to and let us know where it was taken. This could be inside or outside of a protected area, but should not be in a captive facility.

You could win a fabulous game drive with the EWT’s big cat experts, and the chance to learn more about our amazing cats, while seeing them in the wild! Entries close on 3 April 2018, so send those photos in today!

Competition rules:

  • Entries close on 3 April 2018 at midnight, and the winner will be announced on 9 April 2018, via social media and email.
  • The judges’ decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • The prize is for the winning photographer and one guest to join the EWT’s Carnivore Conservation Programme team members on a game drive in one of the reserves where we work with Cheetahs.
  • The prize does not include travel to the game reserve selected.
  • The prize does not include interaction, such as touching or walking with, any animals.
  • Photographs must be of one of the three species of big cats found in South Africa (Lions, Leopards, and Cheetahs). These photographs must be taken in the cats’ natural habitat (inside or outside a protected area). Selfies with cubs or adult cats, or any photographs taken at captive facilities will not qualify.
  • Multiple entries are allowed.
  • Entries are open to anyone aged 12 and above.
  • Entries open to people residing within South Africa.
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Mass poisoning incident affects over 100 Critically Endangered vultures


The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), champion of conservation in Africa, is deeply saddened to report another mass poisoning of vultures in southern Africa. On 25 February 2018, EWT vulture expert, Andre Botha, assisted at a harrowing scene in the Mbashene communal area in southern Mozambique, where the deliberate poisoning of an elephant carcass affected at least 104 Critically Endangered vultures.

This has resulted in the death of at least 80 African White-backed Vultures (Gyps africanus) and seven Hooded Vultures (Necrosyrtes monachus), with the likelihood that many more fatalities may be discovered by further sweeps of the surrounding area in the next 48 hours. The small tusks taken from the young dead elephant, as well as the toxic substance used to poison the carcass, have been confiscated by law enforcement officers, and a suspect is in custody. Some of the dead birds found were mutilated, which may suggest harvest for belief-based purposes, but without all the information available at this early stage, it is difficult to speculate as to the motive for this poisoning. What is known, is that vultures in Africa are being poisoned deliberately by poachers to prevent the birds alerting authorities to the poachers’ illegal activities, or for harvesting and sale of body parts for belief-based use.

Fortunately, 17 birds that were immediately treated by the response team have responded positively to treatment thus far, and we continue to hope that they will pull through. Rapid response and appropriate treatment of poisoning victims can make all the difference. We are extremely grateful to the response team, which included the EWT’s Andre Botha and the Incomati Conservancy, which is adjacent to the communal area where the incident took place, particularly owner, Dries Gouws, and area manager, Piet Kok, as well as the responding vet, Dr João Almeida from Sabie Game Park and the State Veterinary Services at Skukuza, for their incredible response to this incident. Without their actions, the outcome could have been far worse.

The EWT’s training programme on the effective intervention of wildlife poisoning incidents, and the development and distribution of Poison Response Kits to participating organisations, in partnership with The Hawk Conservancy Trust and the University of Reading, providing them with the essential equipment to take action when they handle poisoning incidents, is proving vital in situations such as this. This work facilitates a coordinated, quicker and more effective response to incidents, with more efficient clean ups of poisoning sites, directly reducing further poisoning of wildlife.

This terrible incident is yet another stark reminder of the increasing threat poisonings pose to our dwindling vulture populations. Poisoning is the most significant threat to vultures in Africa and Eurasia and, over the last 30 years, has contributed to declines in excess of 80% in some African species. Currently, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists four species of African vulture as Critically Endangered and three species as Endangered. As obligate scavengers, vultures are incredibly vulnerable to poisoning, particularly at carcasses that are laced with these lethal substances. In addition to this, feeding habits that see hundreds of vultures gathering to feast on large carcasses, such as those of elephants, make them even more vulnerable to mass poisoning fatalities.

The EWT has been documenting wildlife poisoning and addressing the conservation threats for over 20 years, and has noted a rapid escalation in the use of poisons in recent years for various reasons. These include the use of poisons to target specific species such as elephants that provide high-value by-products for trade, as well as mammalian carnivores or monkeys that cause damage to domestic livestock or crops. We also note with concern the use of poisons to procure wildlife that may provide a food source such as game birds. We are working hard to tackle the scourge of poisoning, providing support and guidance to law enforcement officials, ensuring that proper investigation and prosecution procedures are followed, and training conservation and agricultural staff to make sure that they are equipped to deal with this terrible threat.




Andre Botha

Manager: Special Projects

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: +27 82 962 5725


Belinda Glenn

Marketing and Communications Manager

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: +27 87 021 0398

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Go green for frogs this February!

LDFF (2)

Leap Day for Frogs, coordinated by the Endangered Wildlife Trust, is South Africa’s flagship campaign for raising awareness about and celebrating frogs. This year we’re calling on all schools, businesses or organisations with a passion for conservation, to get involved and make a difference. Take part in this year’s Leap Day for Frogs on 28 February, or during that week, by dressing in green and donating R10 per learner/person towards the conservation and protection of some of South Africa’s most endangered frog species…and have some fun in the process!

Schools or organisations with the most participants stand to win an extra special frog walk with our amphibian specialist. Other prizes include an LED headlamp to help in the search for froggy friends, and a hamper from outdoor specialists, Trappers. Those wishing to participate can register here and can share their fabulous photos of the event afterwards on the Leap Day for Frogs Facebook page.

These small creatures have been around since long before the dinosaurs came and went, but are now disappearing across the planet, including in South Africa. Leap Day for Frogs provides the perfect platform to have some fun in the quest to bring the plight of frogs to the public across the country.

There are 125 frog species in South Africa, of which approximately one third are threatened as a result of loss of habitat, increasing levels of pollution in freshwater systems, disease and climate change. The EWT’s Threatened Amphibian Programme is working hard to secure populations of some of South Africa’s most threatened amphibian species, including the Critically Endangered Amathole Toad, the Endangered Pickersgill’s Reed Frog, and the Endangered Kloof Frog. This we do by protecting their key habitats, cleaning up wetlands, educating people on the role of frogs in the ecosystem and undertaking research on poorly understood species. This makes Leap Day for Frogs a very special day on the environmental calendar.

For more information please visit




Dr Jeanne Tarrant

Manager: Threatened Amphibian Programme

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: +27 83 254 9563


Belinda Glenn

Marketing and Communications Manager

Endangered Wildlife Trust

Tel: +27 87 021 0398

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Putting our money where our mouth is! Announcing the first EWT owned and managed nature reserve


The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), Africa’s conservation leader, is proud to announce the transfer of the Medike Nature Reserve in Limpopo, into the EWT’s name, as its first ever land purchase. Medike comprises some 1,400 ha of priority and unique mountain habitat in the Soutpansberg Mountains, and was bought through the generosity of the Roberts Family Trust in Australia. This is the first step in a long-term project to realise the dream of establishing the Soutpansberg Protected Area (SPA), which will ultimately span in excess of 23,000 ha and will connect the existing Happy Rest Nature Reserve in the east and Luvhondo Private Nature Reserve in the west.

This special place is South Africa’s most northern mountain range, and is home to thousands of species of insects, plants, birds and mammals, many of which are found nowhere else on earth. The EWT has identified this region as being in urgent need of protection due to the high number of threatened species, its extraordinary variety of important and unique habitat types, its crucial role in water production, and its value as a centre of cultural heritage for many communities. Despite the significance of the region, the Soutpansberg Mountains currently receive little conservation support, with less than one percent of the area being formally conserved in nature reserves.

By embarking on this journey to protect the area, and purchasing this special tract of land in the western Soutpansberg’s Sand River Gorge, the EWT is about to change all that. Medike Nature Reserve will serve as the catalyst for an ambitious project that will bring in neighbouring properties into the larger Soutpansberg Protected Area, which will safeguard the future of hundreds of threatened species and support the development of sustainable livelihoods in the western Soutpansberg Mountains. “In essence, we will work with existing landowners and local communities to make this one large protected area with the aim of saving species and habitats, providing critical ecosystem services, such as clean water, and developing climate change resilience,” says Oldrich van Schalkwyk, the EWT SPA Manager.

Environmental threats in the area include illegal killing of wildlife, such as Leopards, for the local bush meat and skin industry, and pangolins, for export trade; illegal and unsustainable harvesting of medicinal plants, as well as the uncontrolled collection of firewood; ongoing illegal sand mining in the Sand River; and illegal clearing of indigenous forest, among others. Many of these threats stem from a lack of socio-economic development in the area, and the EWT’s far-reaching vision for this region will result not only in the conservation of its unique biodiversity and the sustained integrity of its water resources, but in sustainable livelihood options for the local communities too. Much of the work will revolve around addressing human-wildlife conflict, and supporting the local communities to farm in an environmentally friendly manner. The EWT will also promote the establishment of a long-lasting conservation-based green economy, linked to innovative local micro-enterprises.

The Roberts family fell in love with this magical mountain when they visited it 2014 and their generosity has allowed the EWT to secure the Medike Nature Reserve and catalyse a bigger conservation vision for the area. The proposed SPA will result in protected area expansion, water security, socio-economic development, ‘green’ job creation and threatened species conservation in the western Soutpansberg. This vision has subsequently leveraged further support from major donors including Rainforest Trust and the Nedbank Green Trust, allowing this dream to approach reality.

Said Yolan Friedmann, EWT CEO: “The purchase of Medike signals a new era for the EWT, as we embark on one of the most exciting projects in our history: that of a private landowner and conservator, as well as driver of community stewardship and socio-economic development as a both neighbour and a supporting partner. We remain forever grateful to our investors in conservation, the Roberts Family Trust, as well as Rainforest Trust and the Nedbank Green Trust, for taking this vision forward. We also thank Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr for their enormous support in all the work of the EWT.”

The SPA will act as a demonstration project for the expansion of this work throughout the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve and other Man and Biosphere Reserves across the country and continent. We welcome contributions and partnerships from other NGOs and corporates to grow this dream and to establish this unique area as a conservation icon.




Yolan Friedmann
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Phone: +27 87 0210 398

Dr Ian Little
Senior Manager: Habitats
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Phone: +27 21 799 8460

Belinda Glenn
Marketing and Communications Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Phone: +27 87 0210 398 ext. 110

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Safeguarding our Sungazers into 2018

Catherine Hughes, Manager, Threatened Grasslands Species Programme

In the April 2017 issue of the EWT’s Conservation Matters, we featured an article by one of our overseas collaborators, Fraser Gilchrist, who is based in Scotland and is a representative of the European Studbook Foundation. Fraser has a keen interest in reptiles, and Sungazers (Smaug giganteus) in particular. In February last year, Fraser paid a visit to the beautiful Highveld Grasslands of Mpumalanga and Free State with our Senior Field Officer, Bradley Gibbons.


The Sungazer, which only occurs in South Africa’s grasslands, faces ongoing threats from various types of land transformation, including mining and agriculture. The EWT works closely with a number of landowners in the Highveld Grasslands (our “Sungazer custodians”) to ensure that pristine areas are kept intact, as these are very important Sungazer habitat, and that appropriate grazing and veld-burning techniques are used to ensure grassland health to the benefit of these lizards and other species.

In 2016, Fraser generously provided a donation of 12 environmental data loggers to record temperature and humidity readings at disused Sungazer burrows, above and below ground, every two hours for a full year. On a follow up visit in 2017, we had some challenges with finding the loggers, but were able to retrieve some valuable data. Our findings are still very preliminary, but on plotting the data, a lot of variation is evident between minimum and maximum temperatures above ground, but little variation in the temperatures below ground. This shows how effectively the Sungazers’ burrows provide a stable climate compared to the highly variant temperatures at the surface, which makes sense given the cold Highveld winters and hot summers! The aim of this research is to better understand the climate conditions of Sungazers’ burrows, so that we can assess the potential impacts of climate change on the distribution and survival of this species.


The project continues into 2018, and we hope to update you as more information becomes available. In the meantime, the EWT team has almost finalised the Sungazer Biodiversity Management Plan under the guidance of the Department of Environmental Affairs and with the participation of many key stakeholders. We also acknowledge our private landowner partners who are exceptionally proud of their Sungazer populations, and will play a vital role in the species’ survival.

Fraser can be contacted on and manages the website

Bradley can be contacted on

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Youthful crane conservation ambassadors win trip to Akagera National Park

Adalbert Aine-omucunguzi, East African Regional Manage, African Crane Conservation Programme

Grey Crowned Cranes (Balearica regulorum) have declined by up to 80% over the last 25 years, and this is particularly evident across their stronghold in East Africa. One of the key objectives of the African Crane Conservation Programme is the stabilisation of the East African Grey Crowned Crane at key sites. One of these key sites in Rwanda is the Rugezi Marsh. Our programme in Rwanda is working towards securing and improving the ecological integrity of the marsh, and other key wetlands of importance where Grey Crowned Cranes live. This is done through various interventions, including public awareness, which has a school component. In September 2017, competitions were organised for students in participating schools to showcase Grey Crowned Crane conservation interventions that work well. The theme of the competition was “Conserving Grey Crowned Cranes through wetland protection” and the prize for the winners was a fully funded trip to Akagera National Park. Nine schools participated in the competition and GS Nkanga Secondary School emerged as the winners.


On the much anticipated day of the trip, the excited students, clad in t­ shirts with pictures of Grey Crowned Cranes, and their teachers boarded a bus at 6am and headed for Akagera, singing songs about crane conservation. This was only the beginning of a fantastic excursion. The students were amazed by all that they saw in the park, including released Grey Crowned Cranes, rhinos, buffalos, elephants, zebras, and various reptiles. They exchanged different ideas with experts in conservation and of course came out determined to encourage other students to contribute to the conservation of Endangered Grey Crowned Cranes. These students are now ambassadors of Grey Crowned Crane conservation both at school and in communities.

This work is done in partnership with the International Crane Foundation.

Students using binocular

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Strengthening partnerships to combat poaching with dogs

Catherine Hughes, Manager, Threatened Grassland Species Programme

Even though it has traditional cultural roots, the hunting of animals without a permit and using domestic dogs remains illegal. Over recent years, there has also been a shift from hunting with dogs for subsistence purposes to hunting for sport. In this case, hunters place bets on the dogs’ hunting success, and many wildlife species are harmed or killed, as are livestock. There may also be damage to property and security threats to private landowners and communities.

The EWT’s Threatened Grassland Species Programme (TGSP) is concerned with the effects that this practice is having on our grassland species, including the Oribi (Ourebia ourebi), which is now Endangered in South Africa due to habitat loss and these illegal hunting activities. As has been shown by the annual Oribi census run by the Oribi Working Group and administered by the EWT, Oribi numbers have declined significantly in the last ten years.


In 2017, the EWT built on existing individual relationships with SACAN, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the KZN Hunting, Shooting and Conservation Association (KZNHSCA) and Project Rhino KZN, and has now partnered more formally with these organisations to combat poaching of wildlife in KZN, with an emphasis on poaching with dogs. We plan to provide a coordinated response system for reporting incidents; responding to any threat posed by these activities and continued conservation action and research around these issues.

If an incident of poaching with dogs is witnessed anywhere, it should be logged with SACAN on 086 167 2226, who will coordinate the appropriate response from the relevant parties. The EWT has also developed an incident register for poaching with dogs, which we will use to identify trends to inform conservation action. The reporting template is available from the EWT, and any incidents of poaching with dogs should be reported to Any information is valued. Although these efforts are KZN-focused for now, we would like to combat poaching with dogs in all provinces experiencing this problem, so landowners and other stakeholders are encouraged to use the email address from other parts of South Africa too.

The collective team also coordinates various community outreach programmes in areas that are experiencing high levels of wildlife crime, and looks for opportunities to encourage alternative recreation and subsistence activities that do not target threatened wildlife.

Suitable training and presentations relating to community outreach, the legislation and procedures in terms of wildlife crime and anti-poaching prevention measures are available. For more information, please contact, Samson Phakathi, EWT Senior Field Officer, on 082 805 4806, or the above email address.

This work is made possible by NCT Forestry Co-operative Limited.

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