Ludovika Malemba knows the rugged hills and dusty tracks of LUMO Community Wildlife Sanctuary like the back of her hand. She has patrolled many kilometers as a wildlife scout of the group conservancy since its establishment in 2001. A native of the vast wildlife-rich landscape in Taita-Taveta connecting Kenya’s Tsavo conservation area and Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania, she found her calling close to home. “I really like the work of rangers,” says Malemba, “I was a game scout when I was in primary school — conservation is in my blood.”
Nature photographer Billy Dodson, who has been donating images to African Wildlife Foundation for years, has compiled his stunning wildlife and landscape images into a new book. From Desert to Desert: A Journey Through the Heart of Southern Africa is a personal memoir and photographic study of six distinct countries and regions in sub-Saharan Africa: Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Zambezi River Valley, and Namibia. AWF sincerely appreciates that Billy is donating proceeds from the sale of the book to support our work. Read AWF’s Q&A with Dodson.
Until 1993, the Great Ruaha River, the main source of water for wildlife in Ruaha National Park, flowed in the dry season. Since then, between September and late November every year, sections of the river disappear resulting in water scarcity for people and wildlife as well as loss of habitat which is devastating for water-dependent species like the hippo. Over these low-rainfall months, some individuals of other large mammals like elephants and buffalos move out of the protected area, sometimes raiding human settlements and farmland as they look for water.
The hippo has two habitat requirements: waters deep enough to cover them entirely — their thin epidermis and lack of sweat glands expose them to rapid dehydration out of water — and nearby grasslands where they can graze. With the rising demand and competition for water resources, plus land conversions to provide space for infrastructure development, human settlements, and intensification of agriculture, the hippo is in a very vulnerable position.
The dense tropical rainforests of Maringa-Lopori-Wamba — a biodiversity hotspot in the Congo River Basin and critical habitat for endangered bonobos — are also a valuable income-generating resource for communities. Displaced by years of political instability, people settled in the remote landscape are some of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s poorest. To scrape a living, locals clear small sections to expand their farms or cut trees to make charcoal and sell firewood. Some even resort to hunting as the illicit trade of bush meat grows.