A week or so ago I mentioned the unexplained deaths of four hundred elephants in Botswana and I have been following the situation as closely as I can from five thousand miles away.
It would seem that the deaths are reasonably attributable to tannin poisoning, which is borne out by the words of Ron Thompson, arguably the doyen of Southern African elephant men and now an adviser to the Botswana government.
In an article earlier this week he attributed the deaths to starvation due to elephant overpopulation. Let me quote.
‘The first person of authority to declare that there were too many elephants in Botswana was the late Dr Graham Child who, in 1960, was working in what is today called Chobe National Park. He was then employed by the United Nations FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation). He witnessed and recorded the destruction of the Chobe riverine forest which, that year, was already in an advanced stage of damage. He took the trouble to count and to identify all the big trees comprising that forest. Today none of them are still standing. The forest has gone! All the trees were killed by the feeding pressure of too many elephants.
He also recorded another forest at Chobe. Six hundred giant camel-thorn trees growing in a single valley away from the river. He determined that these trees were all some four hundred years old – which suggests that they grew out of a once extensive and later abandoned agricultural cropland (which is where the seeds of this tree species best germinate en masse). Despite their great size in 1960, today none of those ancient camel-thorns are still standing. All were killed by the feeding pressure of too many elephants after 1960. There were also smaller forests of Commiphora (Kanniedood) trees growing on sandy hillsides. They too have now all gone.
Graham also recorded the multiple isolated occurrences of various quite common Acacia tree species; African ebonies and many others that were commonly scattered and/or growing on anthills throughout the Ngamiland game reserve habitats between Chobe and Maun. They, too, have all disappeared!
The once common and ancient Baobab tree – some said to be five thousand years old have mostly already disappeared or they are damaged beyond redemption.’
As a result of this forest decimation – and this is me ‘speaking’ – elephants will always turn to small trees and scrubland for their food. In most of Southern Africa this is primarily mopani scrub and when the youthful mopani is attacked, it gives off tannin in an effort to drive the attackers away.
Botswana claims to have an elephant population of one hundred and thirty thousand yet in 2013 an official government count established that population at two hundred and three thousand. Personally, I do not believe that the elephant population has dropped by seventy thousand in seven years. If so, where are all the carcasses and why has there not been a fuss from the bunny hugging fraternity? At the moment, they are railing at the Botswana government for not coming up with a definitive cause for four hundred deaths damnit! Yet even if there are only one hundred and thirty thousand animals, according to the scientists that is seventeen times more elephant than Botswana can sustain.
So there are too many elephants and not enough trees. An impossible situation for the elephants I’m afraid and they are literally killing themselves by eating extensively of the mopani scrub. It is tragic, but whereas in days gone by, elephants could decimate an area of vegetation, and then move on, allowing the damaged area to recover, now they are confined by the ever expanding human population. I fear that many more ‘unexplained’ elephant deaths will occur over the next few years.
As I say in my talks on elephants, we have to either cull elephants or cull people. I know which I would prefer but it is illegal.
Even without the ivory problem, elephants seem doomed unless harsh decisions are taken by those in authority. They are there on the ground while the ‘celebrities’ and supposedly conservation supporting organisations that regard hunting and control of elephants as obscene are a long way from the problem.
I try not to comment too often on this black lives matter nonsense, but the situation really is getting out of hand. A few days ago a black athlete Bianca Williams was stopped in her car by the Metropolitan Police and immediately claimed to all and sundry that ‘the UK is very racist.’ She has called for the Metropolitan Police commissioner to quit after what was an entirely legitimate stop and search.
Yet when one examines the facts of the incident, a different picture emerges. She was in a car which was observed by police officers driving erratically, repeatedly braking hard before speeding off, and on the wrong side of the road. It accelerated away from a police car, and when it stopped, both occupants refused to cooperate with the officers. The driver refused to get out of the car.
This incident had nothing to do with the colour of Ms Williams’ skin or being an athlete or a woman or a representative of team Great Britain. If this woman feels the law should treat her differently for any of those reasons, perhaps she should resign from the British team.
An official Police statement has described the incident.
‘Officers from the Directorate of Professional Standards have reviewed both footage from social media and the body-worn video of the officers and are satisfied that there is no concern around the officers’ conduct.’
Surely that should be enough?
As ever though, the BBC and other mainstream media have taken the side of the athlete rather than the cops. They have chosen to distort the facts, even editing and omitting some details from the official police statement on their websites and articles.
Police stop-and-search tactics are often criticised as being used disproportionately against people from ethnic minorities but if crimes in a particular area are committed mainly by those same minorities, is this not an inevitable corollary? I am often rude about modern coppers but they don’t stand a chance in the febrile situation with Black Lives Matter.
Believe it or not, the Met and their commissioner Dame Dickhead ignored the official findings and apologised to Bianca Williams. Why for God’s sake?
I had hoped that when the formerly royal Biscuit and his Yank departed these shores, we would have heard the last of them. But no, it seems that Harry is going to spend the rest of his privileged life lecturing us all from his magnificent borrowed mansion ‘over there.’ Whether it be climate change or racial issues, do we really have to put up with him pontificating from his luxurious quarters while the rest of us try to keep cheerful as coronabug devastates our care homes and our economy?
The Biscuit has nothing to do with Britain any more damnit! He has made his choice. He should get on with making a living in California, relieving his Father of the burden of supporting him.
I was never an admirer of Harry but most of the British population seemed to like him and enjoy his antics. But these are the people he deserted and now speaks patronisingly to.
Listen, I don’t mind if he decides that he wants to spend his life in wherever he wants. I don’t care if he needs to rub shoulders with so-called celebrities, but I wish he would face up to the fact that by denying his birth-right he’s lost another right – to expect us to pay any attention at all to his chiding burbles, just because he was once a member of the Royal Family.
Speaking of which, his wife’s lawyers in her High Court action against the Mail on Sunday have claimed her wedding to Prince Harry generated one billion pounds in tourism revenue, arguing that her wealth and privilege has no bearing on her right to privacy.
I believe everyone has a right to privacy, but how on earth can her legal team know how much money her wedding made for us all? That’s an awful lot of mugs and tea towels.
I watched part of his latest diatribe and it made me feel vaguely queasy. This time he was attacking the Commonwealth and prattling about a need to ‘acknowledge the past.’ I couldn’t help wondering how the two were connected.
Meghan gazed at him throughout with the air of a proud mother watching her slightly stupid child recite a poem off by heart, nodding approvingly as he reeled off the approved platitudes before joining in and adding that ‘we have to be a little uncomfortable right now.’
Is that right, Dear Lady? And exactly how uncomfortable are you ‘right now,’ in your eight-bedroom Hollywood mansion with all your bills paid by your father-in-law?
And let’s face it, the Biscuit obviously has little knowledge of history. The modern Commonwealth was born as the Empire shrivelled. It was and is, an entirely voluntary organisation created in 1949 with ‘the King as the symbol of the free association of its independent member nations and as such the Head of the Commonwealth. The whole point was that no one HAD to belong.
Yet given the choice, almost all the free and independent nations which had once been part of the British Empire gladly signed up to this new creation. To this day, fifteen of them (not including Britain) freely retain Queenie as their head of state.
A few of those have even had the odd referendum on replacing her with a president but each time, the voters have vetoed the idea. No compulsion there, either.
Just as no one has ever been compelled to join this club, so those who leave or who get kicked out soon end up trying to get back in – the Maldives have just been readmitted after a few years in the cold.
It is hard to think of an organisation which has had a better record in confronting oppression in modern times, be it bringing about the end of white rule in Rhodesia or fighting apartheid in South Africa.
One of Nelson Mandela’s first executive acts on being elected president of a new and supposedly democratic South Africa in 1994 was to resume its membership of the Commonwealth and that was before it returned to the United Nations.
The Commonwealth may not be the force it once was. It might embrace diversity (encompassing every major faith on every continent) but it can also be equally diverse when it comes to human rights.
Many members, for example, still criminalise homosexuality while more than twenty of them still have the death penalty. It doesn’t pretend to be perfect, but gets things done among nations with a shared language and legal code, all of whom have pledged to improve their democratic standards.
Come on Biscuit, what does this organisation really have to be ashamed about? I fear that your Yank did not prepare you properly for your little rant or perhaps she allowed her own anti-British sentiment to creep in. You probably meant to say the British Empire but surely even you, can not confuse the two?