Showing posts from November, 2016

Carnivores, colonisation and conflict

From my Africa Geographic article
Every time we turn on the TV nowadays we seem to be confronted with bad news about the environment, but is there anything that history can teach us about how to solve today’s problems? In light of the current carnivore conflict crisis in Namibia, we wanted to understand the history of Namibia’s predator management to find out how we ended up with such an intolerance of nature.
What we found baffled us and is explored in the journal, Carnivores, Colonisation and Conflict.

After scouring through documents detailing the country’s historical management of wildlife, complemented by interviews with farmers, we identified that the control of Namibia’s predators has followed a set pathway that culminated in the near annihilation of a guild of species.

How did this happen?

We based our analysis on philosopher and activist Val Plumwood’s understanding of how the world came to accept the oppression of women and nature. Plumwood identified seven steps in this oppres…

What really happened to mammoths and other ice age giants?

There might be as many as 10 million species of complex life on this planet today – a huge number. But add up all of the complex species that ever lived and some biologists think the grand total would be about five billion.

The estimate leads to an astonishing conclusion: a staggering 99% of species are not around any more. They have been driven to extinction.

More species are joining the ranks of the extinct every year. Many scientists believe we are living through an episode of remarkably rapid extinction, on a scale that has been seen only five times in the last half a billion years.

They call this current episode the sixth mass extinction – a large, global decline in a wide variety of species over a relatively short period of time. And they tend to agree that humans are the main cause.

Overhunting, overfishing, and human-driven habitat loss are pushing many species to the brink. In fact, we have changed the planet so much that some geologists are now suggesting that we have entere…

In Bangladesh, tigers are being killed by the local mafia

There are many reasons why people might want to kill a tiger, not the least of which is self-defence, but in Bangladesh the killings have a surprising motive
Even today, people still kill tigers and other endangered species. One of the most important questions to ask is why they do it, because it is only by understanding people's motives that we might change their behaviour.

Globally, tigers are an endangered species. Bangladesh was once a stronghold for them, but today it is home to barely 100. Many of the survivors cling on in the country's south, in the vast mangrove forests known as the Sundarbans.

During the British colonial period, hunting dramatically reduced the Sundarbans tiger population. Hunting was outlawed in 1974, but since then poaching has taken a severe toll on the Sundarbans tigers.

So why do people do it?

A Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) (Credit: Tony Heald/

A study published in the journal Oryx in October 2016 by Samia Saif of the Universi…