Two contrasting scenes stand out in my mind when I remember my past as a young boy herding my father’s cattle in the former wildlands of Domboshava, Zimbabwe. Mountains covered with forest full of diverse, juicy wild fruits—this was the common scenery in my early days as a herd boy, unforgettable, and one I cherished and so dearly loved. I remember the scenery changing, my beloved forests and flowing rivers were slowly replaced by bare mountains, lethargic rivers and leafless remnants of bushy trees still standing.
I’m just recently back in Lomie (on border of the Dja Faunal Reserve in Cameroon) from two days of practical training for rangers on the use of the CyberTracker/Trimble for ecological monitoring and anti-poaching.
I grew up in subtropical Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and, for all of my childhood and formative years, lived in close proximity to the relatively small but spectacular Krantzkloof Nature Reserve. For a peri-urban reserve, it has impressive biodiversity, being positioned within the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Biodiversity Hotspot.
This month, Asian Geographic published an 8-page cover story of my ‘Schools United for Elephants’ Campaign, spreading the anti-ivory trade idea in 24 places including, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Dubai, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, USA etc.
Elephants are the largest land animals, so it comes as a great surprise that for one species, we really don’t know that much. How can an animal so large be studied so little? Despite their size, African forest elephants are actually very difficult to see.