• The 40,000 sq km Serengeti-Mara plain that straddles the border of Kenya and Tanzania is famous for its abundant and diverse wildlife. It is also home to one of the wonders of the world: the Serengeti-Mara wildebeest migration. Each year about two million wildebeest, zebra and gazelles migrate from Tanzania to Kenya’s Maasai Mara in search of food and water.


  • Some extinct crocs may have been keen to eat greens.

  • I find it rather sad that Don Pinnock continues to lambast the character and “type” the persons involved in trophy hunting. He refers to them as wealthy, elite, callous and cruel.

  • Trophy hunters have repeatedly sparked outrage by posting pictures of their kills on social media. Images of Tess Talley standing in front of the giraffe she shot, or Walter Palmer with a dead Cecil the lion, readily come to mind.

  • It is never pleasant to see wild animals caged and abused. A new report by the NGO World Animal Protection suggests that captive-breeding operations for lions and tigers have expanded to meet an increasing demand for big cat products used in traditional Asian medicine. While this is clearly bad news for the captive cats themselves, confined in often horrible conditions, we are not convinced by the report's findings on what this means for wild populations.

    Animal welfare organisations often suggest that farming wild species will lead to an increased loss of animals from their natural habitats. Either this is because animals are taken from the wild to stock the farms, or because the sale of farmed products increases demand for the wild version, leading to more illegal killing (also known as "poaching").

    For instance, the new report found anecdotal evidence that wild lionesses were sometimes killed in order to capture their cubs and smuggle them into captive facilities to diversify the gene pool and reduce inbreeding problems. World Animal Protection suggests that by "sustaining demand for [big cat] products" these farming operations are "exacerbating the decline" of big cats in the wild.

    However, we argue there is insufficient data to prove that overall poaching of lions or tigers has increased specifically because of these farming operations. Even if poaching has increased since farming operations have expanded, there's not yet been a cause-effect mechanism found to prove that farming has contributed to an increase in poaching. To understand this conundrum, we would need to look at the counterfactual: with all other things being equal, what happens to overall poaching numbers when there is or is not farming?

    One study that looked at the impact of South Africa's lion farms found that the trade had negligible effects on wild lion populations. Another report found that seizures of illegal tiger parts were increasing, but attributed it to expanding tiger farm operations (so more supply flowing in the illegal trade) rather than increased poaching of wild tigers. It is also not clear if an increase in enforcement effort could partly explain this increase in seizures reported. Again, to really understand a cause-effect relationship, we need more (and better) data.

    Taking the pressure off

    In some instances, farming of wild animals has helped to reduce poaching. Crocodiles for instance were once regularly hunted for their hide and meat. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation then provided assistance to set up crocodile farming operations, which took the pressure off wild populations.

    There is, however, one large difference between the crocodile trade and the big cat trade: many consumers of big cat parts say they prefer wild-caught individuals, whereas purchasers of crocodile leather products prefer farmed, as you generally get better quality hides. But people who say that they prefer wild animal products may not always then go on to buy them in real life, especially if it's easier, cheaper or more legal to buy from farms. To suggest that farming big cats increases poaching potentially is misleading without providing firm evidence that poaching of wild animals will decline without the farms.

    Though some may argue for the precautionary principle (that is, ban everything then work out what the best approach is), until we know more, closing these farming operations may have the unintended consequence of actually increasing the poaching of wild animals. In examples like the lion and tiger trade where farming already exists, we must first understand and tackle demand for these products before bans are put in place, to ensure we do not accidentally increase pressure on wild animals.

    It is tempting to act swiftly due to the widespread and alarming decline of biodiversity. However, we caution against rushed actions that, while well meaning, may not be based on firm evidence and could end up creating worse problems. What we really need first is better data on how captive-bred farming affects wild animal populations. The conditions for individual animals on many of these farms may be abhorrent, but if the main goal is to conserve wild species, we must act on science rather than emotion.

  • Every day, local hunting outfitters and organizations receive a number of hostile e-mails and phone calls decrying their contribution to the deterioration of endangered animal species, begging them to rather focus on animal conservation, or bombarding them with threats.

  •  Vusamazulu

    “If you can visualise hell on earth,” said the indigenous healer in the black and red cloth, “that is what our governing structures have created with the king of all animals.”

  • Southern African nations are threatening to quit the global wildlife trade regulator after it refused to relax restrictions on trade in ivory and rhino horn and imposed a near total ban on zoos taking African elephants captured in the wild.

  • In a world first, the single largest GPS satellite tagging of giraffes has taken place in Kenya. 

  • The Zambia National Community Resources Board Association (ZNCRBA) has called for the immediate suspension of trophy hunting in all hunting blocks until the government releases all funds owed to communities through the individual Community Resource Boards (CRBs).

  • You may wish to protect and encourage wildlife on your farm because you recognise the advantages of beneficial insects and pollinators to your farm business.

  • It’s September 2019, and I am about to embark upon one of my many pilgrimages to Mana Pools National Park – one of the finest wildlife destinations in the world that was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 3 May 2013. 

  • Across the globe the numbers of carnivore species such as leopards, dingoes, and spectacled bears are rapidly declining.

  • Rwanda has a dark history with a civil war in 1991 and the tragedy of the 1994 genocide.

  • Over the past few decades, South Africa has seen a dramatic conversion from livestock or crop farming to wildlife ranching – known locally as game farming.

  • The wild addax antelope (Addax nasomaculatus) is perhaps the loneliest mammal on the planet.

  • A ceaselessly growing human population and an ever-expanding world economy based on the unsustainable demands of a few over-consuming nations, have already caused habitat degradation, forest fragmentation, and forest loss that are unprecedented in human history.

  •  A severe drought is threatening South Africa's wildlife industry, with game farmers keeping fewer animals and tourists visiting game lodges in smaller numbers.

  • Huan greed and ignorance know no bounds. Nor do they know boundaries. Across Asia tigers are routinely killed so their parts can be used in traditional Chinese medicine.