South Africa is becoming more and more popular as a tourist destination and one of the most popular reasons for visiting is the spectacular wildlife. Along with the ‘Big Five’, South Africa is also home to an abundance of mammals, spectacular birdlife and our coasts are visited by dolphins, seals and migrating whales.
However, despite all this wildlife living free in our forests, plains, mountains and coasts there is a disturbing number of facilities offering tourists the opportunity to get ‘hands on’ with wild animals. One can pet lion, tiger and serval cubs, and walk with adult lions and cheetahs. Take a ride on the back of an elephant or even an ostrich, feed monkeys and lemurs or drape a large and dangerous snake around your neck. The list appears to get longer each year with more wild animals being added to the list of those you can ‘cuddle’.
One cannot deny that any interaction with an animal, especially a wild one is an exhilarating experience leaving us feeling quite…special. But is it really ‘special’?
The escalating international criminal trade in ivory and rhino horn is well documented and, unfortunately, has seldom been out of the headlines in recent years.
Significantly less well known is the exploitation and trafficking of another product derived from a critically endangered species, often commanding black market prices up to five times higher than ivory – the carved beaks of helmeted hornbills.
EIA has been monitoring trade in ivory and rhino horn for the past two decades, from gathering intelligence via face-to-face conversations with traders in Africa and Asia to monitoring the ever-growing online sales.
Newly Discovered Fossils Hint That All Dinosaurs May Have Had Feathers!
Over 30 species of non-avian dinosaurs have been confirmed to have feathers, either from direct fossilized evidence of feathers, or other indicators, such as quill knobs. Up until now, all of those dinosaurs were confirmed to be carnivorous theropods, like Velociraptor and the ancestors of birds. However, fossilized remains of a new type of herbivorous dinosaur indicate that all dinosaurs may have had feathers. The study was led by Pascal Godefroit from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural History in Brussels and the results were published in Science.