Archive for Endangered Wildlife Trust

UNDERDOGS reviewed in Environment Magazine

Posted in African Wildlife, Conservation, Conservation Photography, Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2012 by Neil Aldridge

A review of Underdogs – my African wild dog book – features in the latest issue of the magazine Environment. The magazine is a collaboration between some of Africa’s leading environmental organisations, including the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) with whom I worked while photographing Underdogs. The editor of Environment, Dr John Ledger, reviews the book and says:

“This is more than a ‘coffee table’ book because, although it is a large-format hard-cover edition, beautifully illustrated by the author’s excellent photographs, it also has a very informative text that imparts the scientific aspects of Wild Dog conservation…This is a lovely book to have and a very worthwhile read.”

To read the review of Underdogs in full, see the latest issue of Environment online at environmentmag.co.za/ebook/Env-12 or subscribe at environmentmag.co.za. Underdogs is now available across South Africa at leading stores, such as Exclusive Books, Estoril Books and PNA.

To order a signed copy of Underdogs, please visit my website.

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2013 wildlife calendar now available to pre-order…

Posted in African Wildlife, Conservation Photography, Photography, UK Wildlife, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2012 by Neil Aldridge

I’m pleased to announce that my 2013 wildlife calendar is now available to preview and pre-order from my website. If you place an order before October you will secure a signed copy for the special rate of just £10 and you will receive your calendar(s) as soon as they are off the printing press.

This wall calendar features a blend of 14 new, award-winning and popular wildlife images from around the world. The selection includes lions, meerkats, grizzly bears, elephants, humpback whales, wild dogs, bald eagles and peregrine falcons, amongst others. Every calendar page also features information about a species and how each photograph was taken. The calendar is A4 in size when closed and two full pages are visible when hung on the wall.

This is a pre-order special offer for signed copies at just £10 while the calendar is at print. Donations from every sale will be donated to further the essential conservation efforts of the Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Pre-order your 2013 calendar at conservationphotojournalism.com

Underdogs available on Amazon across Europe…

Posted in African Wildlife, Conservation Photography, Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2012 by Neil Aldridge

New my African wild dog book Underdogs is now available on Amazon for delivery across Europe. The book can be ordered in the UK on Amazon.co.uk, in France on Amazon.fr and in Germany on Amazon.de.

With over 140 wildlife photographs, Underdogs celebrates what is special about the endangered African wild dog. Acute senses, a lightweight body, unrivaled stamina and power in numbers may make the wild dog one of Africa’s most efficient hunters but these remarkable characteristics saw the species fare badly with the arrival of big game hunters in Africa in the late 1800s. This charismatic carnivore has been an underdog in its fight to find its place in a developing continent ever since.

Over three years, I worked closely with trackers and researchers to follow, photograph and understand the African wild dog. The result is a book that explores the ecology of a remarkable species and looks at what makes it one of Africa’s most efficient carnivores. Underdogs also explores the reasons behind the decline of the wild dog and champions the efforts being made to secure a future for the species in South Africa and beyond.

Many of the book’s photographs have achieved acclaim in major international competitions and exhibitions but Underdogs is the first time all of these award-winning photographs can be seen in one place and brought into context.

See more of the photographs on conservationphotojournalism.com

The translocation of Rory – an update

Posted in African Wildlife, Conservation, Conservation Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2010 by Neil Aldridge

A while ago I blogged on the darting and translocation of Rory, a young African wild dog, from South Africa’s Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve to his new home in KwaZulu-Natal. After some rather downbeat posts recently on the trade in wild dogs and on their endangered status, I thought I would give you an update on how Rory is doing as well as the video of his translocation that I shot earlier this year.

As an outsider joining an established alpha pair, Rory couldn’t have fitted in to his new pack and surroundings any better. The alpha female gave birth to eight pups this year and Rory has been the main babysitter and provider of food after hunts, regurgitating meat for the mother and for her litter. His care and responsibility towards them has ensured that all eight pups have made it through their first six months alive and well.

But it’s not all been hard work and responsibility…Charl Senekal, the reserve manager at Hlambanyathi Game Reserve where Rory was moved to, has noticed that the pack has taken to regularly chasing leopards up trees – a curious and dangerous game given the violent death of most of Rory’s family at the hands of predators.

The video shows the lengthy darting and translocation process that took place earlier this year to move Rory to KwaZulu-Natal. Four of the five darts fired made contact but, as is the case with such darting procedures, things don’t always go to plan. Two of the darts were ineffective and it was the fifth and final dart that had the desired effect. It is never ideal to have to intervene to such an extent in the lives of wild animals but with so precious few African wild dogs left and with their plight on our watch, it is sometimes a sensible and necessary decision. And in this case, with Rory playing his part in the survival of eight young dogs at Hlambanyathi, there can be little doubt that decision has been justified.

Visit my main website at www.conservationphotojournalism.com

Making money, not sense

Posted in African Wildlife, Conservation, Conservation Photography, Wildlife with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2010 by Neil Aldridge

I mentioned in a previous thread that South Africa’s Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape is under threat from a coal mining application. This week, the fight intensified to stop construction of an opencast and underground mine just six kilometres from the boundary of the Mapungubwe National Park with a host of non-governmental organisations appealing against developments in the process, including the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Birdlife, the Peace Parks Foundation, the Association of South African Professional Archaeologists, the Mapungubwe Action Group and the Wilderness Foundation South Africa.

Australian-based Coal of Africa Limited (CoAL) was recently granted the go-ahead to commence with the construction of the coal mine yet serious questions are being asked about the integrity and validity of the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) submitted by CoAL. The appeal details many specific concerns with the EMP, particularly how it misrepresents the consequences of mining in the area. Take a look for yourself, even to an untrained eye it is clear to see which side of the EMP’s bread is buttered.

I hope that I am wrong but I can’t help but feel this is all too little too late however. The load shedding which has afflicted South Africa in recent years has been due to a serious shortage in the country’s electricity supply. Desperate to avoid a repeat of such a ridiculous, embarrassing and shambolic situation in the future, the government was never likely to turn down a coal mining application with stocks running so low. The crippling transport strike which has damaged South Africa’s industries recently has also affected coal exports, mainly to India and China. With the government struggling to hit its coal export targets and pay for the country’s pre-world cup face-lift, the promise of a shiny new coal mine was never likely to be ignored.

The moral of the story? Never forget where you’ve come from. Mapungubwe is rightly celebrated as a great Southern African civilisation, the very place where kingdomship started in Southern Africa and a state that had vast trading links to East Africa and the Arab world. How ironic that it is the country’s modern day trade links that threaten to destroy and devalue that legacy.

Visit my main website at www.conservationphotojournalism.com

Land of giants

Posted in African Wildlife, Conservation, Conservation Photography, Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2010 by Neil Aldridge

The recent storms in South Africa’s northern Limpopo Province may have been big but they measure up against the region’s landscapes and wildlife. From its trees to its birds, mammals and the river itself, the valley of the great Limpopo River is a land of giants!

The vast landscapes of this place near where South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana meet are dominated by baobabs. These colossal trees support a whole community of wildlife – elephants eat the bark, bats feed on the nectar of the flowers (and in turn pollinate them) and barn owls roost and nest in holes in their large boughs. Many particularly large trees still bear the pegs that allowed humans to climb up and collect rain water collected in troughs in the boughs. In such a hot climate in a place where ground water will have been shared with wild animals, this would have been a vital source of fresh water…if you can reach it.

During the dry winter months, large herds of elephants move into the valley from dryer areas over the river in Botswana. The riverine forest comes alive with a mass of grey bodies shepherding their youngsters and hoovering-up vegetation and the remaining water.

Herds of eland, Africa’s largest antelope, also roam the plains of the valley. Like in much of their range, black rhino’s are here but they are hard to see. The larger and more common white rhino has become synonymous with the Limpopo valley since the discovery in 1932 of a little golden rhino at the World Heritage Site at Mapungubwe.

Even the birds here are big enough to make small children and dog owners feel wary. Black eagles rule by day, surveying the land for their quarry from a perch high up on a sandstone cliff or by soaring the thermals on huge wings. The floodplains are home to marauding secretarybirds, storks, ground hornbills and kori bustards, the heaviest flying bird in the world, while the night is owned by owls. The elusive and sought-after Pel’s fishing owl uses the large trees lining the river to roost in by day and hunt from by night. Also in the riverine bush, hunting silently on a two-metre wingspan in almost complete darkness, the giant (or Verreaux’s) eagle owl hawks for birds and small mammals.

But as rich in wildlife and archaeology as this valley is, it is a landscape under threat. If proposed coal mining in the area is allowed to go ahead, pollution is not only likely to threaten the local ecosystem but important sites further down the Limpopo River system in the Kruger National Park and Mozambique as well.

Plans for the mine at Vele, just six kilometres east of the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site, also threaten to derail proposals for a major transfrontier conservation area between South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana, a scheme committed to by the government. The Endangered Wildlife Trust and BirdLife South Africa are just two of the many organisations fighting the mining application. And while no-one can be certain what either the short-term or lasting affects of the mine will be on this overlooked and sacred corner of South Africa, with so much to experience in this land of giants, my advice is to go there and to go there now!

Visit my main website at www.conservationphotojournalism.com

Size matters: The dogs of Venetia Limpopo

Posted in African Wildlife, Conservation, Conservation Photography, Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2009 by Neil Aldridge

The wild dogs of Venetia Limpopo have had a turbulent last few years – mainly at the hands of lions – resulting in alpha female Stellar cautiously leading her small pack of five from rocky safe haven to rocky safe haven each day.

When Stellar became pregnant recently it was clear that her mind wasn’t just on survival for her pack but on growth and for a short while all seemed rosy in this colourful mopani and baobab clustered corner of South Africa. Though having lost her entire litter the previous year, the future of the pack hung desperately on her ability to find a safe den site.

The bitter irony of choosing a rocky high-ground for the den in an attempt to avoid dangerous competitors like lion and hyena was that she lead her pack straight into a leopard’s domain, a choice which cost her mate Abel his life.

The trauma of the attack split the pack leaving Stellar out on her own. Did she not flee with Fender, Rory and Baker because she had pups hidden away? It was too soon to tell as she would only bring them out of the den after a few weeks…but with one less member of the hunting pack, her chances of even keeping her pups alive that long would be slim.

We know Stellar has met up with the others but still spends time on her own. We also know a pack from Botswana and free roaming dogs have explored the boundaries of the Venetia territory. So is Stellar desperate for the support of the pack for the survival of her pups or will the others disperse and move on? It’s an interesting and crucial period in the life of the Venetia pack and one that echoes the broader fight to save Africa’s wild dogs.

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In a natural and competitive environment where size matters, wild dogs have their own battles and with only a few hundred left in South Africa alone, losing an alpha dog is a real setback and an event that can change the fortunes of a pack and the balance of a population.

As we inspected Abel’s carcass, the importance and fragility of EWT’s efforts became clear, the only consolation in the thought that at least Abel wasn’t another statistic born out of man’s misunderstanding and intolerance of these charismatic canids.