Archive for the 'Other African Watersheds' Category

Amboseli Wetlands

January 30, 2018

by Pongpol Adireksarn for No Water No Life
Edited by Alison Jones, NWNL Director

Amboseli Wetlands 1.jpg

Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest and most well-known mountain. The Maasai call it “Ol Dolnyo Oibor” (The White Mountain) because of its snow-capped top, a symbolic landmark for centuries. Besides being picturesque, Kilimanjaro has lived up to its reputation as “The Life-giving Mountain.” It has provided water for millions of wildlife, people and their livestock in a semi-desert area with less than 340 mm [13.3 in] of rainfall annually. Amboseli National Park, a popular Kenyan safari destination, lies below the lower northern shoulders of this “Rooftop of Africa.”

In 1991 an effort began to conserve the biodiversity of Amboseli; support development of local human populations; and improve the park’s infrastructure. UNESCO and the Government of Kenya designated Amboseli National Park and its surrounding area as a “Man and the Biosphere Reserve.”

[Editor’s Note: The Man and the Biosphere Programme is an intergovernmental, scientific program launched in 1971 by UNESCO. Using science, education and economics, this program establishes benefits to human communities while safeguarding surrounding ecosystems and wildlife. Its World Network of Biosphere Reserves currently counts 669 sites in 120 countries]

Amboseli Elephant 1.jpg

On a 2005 visit to Amboseli, I saw the toll climate change is taking on Kilimanjaro: the alarming sight of less snow on the mountaintop. My most recent visit in October 2017 was disheartening. From a distance I saw only a small area of snow remaining on top of Kilimanjaro. I recalled the assessment that Kilimanjaro has lost 80 % of its snow cover since 1912; and that by 2033 the snows of Kilimanjaro would no longer exist.

Amboseli Great White Pelican.jpg

I drove deeper into the park, remembering that 12 years ago I saw a mirage of water everywhere I looked. However the mirage I saw on this drive started to disappear. Instead, what I saw before me were wide wetlands filled with water on both sides of the road. As I continued on, there were bulldozers and heavy equipment dredging these wetlands and laying large concrete pipes on both sides of the road. My local guide explained that the park is expanding the wetlands by filling existing swamps with more of the water that flows down from Kilimanjaro via underground channels.

Amboseli Elephant 3.jpg

This development fulfills the objectives set for Amboseli National Park by the Man and the Biosphere Programme. In a land of world-famous elephant matriarchs, this program is creating biodiversity havens to benefit wildlife in the immediate area of the park, while also supporting Maasai and their livestock living near the park.

Amboseli Hippo 1.jpg

The next morning, passing through an arid area with Kilimanjaro in the background, I saw a large herd of elephants walking towards the wetlands to drink and bathe. An hour later as I went closer to a wetlands, I saw several elephants and ungulates enjoying their time in the swamp. More wildlife arrived at the wetlands as the day continued. A family of hippopotamus occasionally left the swamp to graze, Hundreds of great white pelicans, winter migrants from Eastern Europe, were enjoying pleasant weather on an island in the swamp under sunny skies.

Amboseli Elephant 4.jpg

My local guide took me to Observation Hill, overlooking the vast Amboseli wetlands. As we walked up the hill, I noticed two large signs put up by International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). One sign coined two apt phrases, “Kilimanjaro, The Life-Giving Mountain,” and “Without Kilimanjaro, Many Lives would Cease!” The other sign read, “Where Life Springs Up In A Desert.” Addressing national – and indeed global – issues, it noted, “While many wetlands in Kenya dwindle and lose biodiversity because of destructive and unchecked human activities, this protected oasis will remain a source of life. Only if man does not adversely affect it.”

 

Pongpol Adireksarn was born in Bangkok, Thailand, and received a Bachelor Degree in International Relations from Lehigh University, USA, and a Master Degree in the same field from American University, USA. Elected four times as a Member of Parliament from Saraburi Province, he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Minister of Education, and Deputy Prime Minister. Pongpol wrote several novels in Thai and English using his real name and the pen name “Paul Adirex”.  In the past nine years, Pongpol has been producer and host of a television documentary program on world heritage sites which has led him to many national parks and wildlife reserves all over the world, prompting him to become seriously interested in wildlife threatened species.
All photos © Pongpol Adireksarn.

Glaciers: A Photo Essay

September 19, 2017

Edit (9/27/17): Since publishing this blog, the Washington Post reported the calving (or splitting) of a key Antarctic glacier, the Pine Island Glacier.  The article states, “the single glacier alone contains 1.7 feet of potential global sea level rise and is thought to be in a process of unstable, ongoing retreat.”  To learn more about how climate change contributed to this calving, and what the affects will be, read the article here.

 

“The alarming rate of glacial shrinkage worldwide threatens our current way of life, from biodiversity to tourism, hydropower to clean water supply.” (climatenewsnetwork.net)

During and in between NWNL’s dozens of expeditions to its six case-study watersheds, we have explored the value and current condition of glaciers on three continents, since they are a critical source of freshwater.  NWNL visited the Columbia Icefields of Alberta, Canada in 2007; Argentine glaciers in 2003 and 2005; and Rebman Glacier on the summit of Tanzania’s Mt Kilimanjaro in 2003.   We have witnessed the effect of climate change on glaciers. The melting of glaciers will affect  all forms of water resources for human and wildlife communities.  Just as upstream nutrients and pollutants travel downstream, “the loss of mountain ice creates problems for the people who live downstream.” Glacial loss must be thought of as just as important in the climate-change discussion as flooding and drought have become.

 

Jones_030809_TZ_0745Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro via the Machame Route. Tanzania, East Africa. (2003)

 

Jones_050402_ARG_0155Hole in ice of Lake Viedma Glacier in South Patagonia’s Glacier National Park, Argentina. (2005)

 

Jones_070609_ALB_2357Sign marking the former edge of the glacier. Columbia Icefields, Alberta, Canada. (2007)

 

ARG SC LVgla 059DA.tifLake Viedma Glacier at Glaciers National Park in Southern Patagonia, Argentina. (2005)

 

Canada: Alberta, Columbia Icefields Center Bus Tour, Athabasca GlacierAthabasca Glacier in Columbia Icefields. Alberta, Canada. (2007)

 

ARG SC Azul 004DA.tifGlacier melting and pouring into Blue Lake in the Andes Mountains. Southern Patagonia, Argentina. (2005)

 

Posted by Sarah Kearns, NWNL Project Manager.

All photos © Alison M. Jones.

 

Lion Populations to Decline by Half

October 28, 2015

 

East Africa, Kenya, Mara River Basin, lioness with cubs

East Africa, Kenya, Mara River Basin, lioness with cubs

Lions are currently considered “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but if upcoming assessments change their status to “endangered” they will be considered at “a very high risk of extinction in the wild”.  Scientists estimate that a mere 20,000 lions are left in all of Africa and that number will be halved in 20 years.

NWNL would like to honor these majestic animals by sharing some of our favorite lion images from our expeditions. We hope that recent public outrage over the death of Cecil, will draw attention to the plight of the African lion and boost conservation efforts.

Read related articles in the NY Times and on BBC World News.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge.)

Kenya: Maasai Mara Game Reserve, head of large-maned male lion lying in grasses

Kenya: Maasai Mara Game Reserve, head of large-maned male lion lying in grasses

Posted by Jasmine Graf, Associate Director of No Water No Life.

Happy World Elephant Day!

August 12, 2015

For 30 years NWNL has studied Kenya’s iconic, charismatic jumbos that create water access for so many other species in the Mara River Basin. What can you do to celebrate and help elephants?
(scroll down for a few ideas 🙂 )

Participate in the #elegram project ———> and tell others to participate too!

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 2.56.47 PM

Send an E-Card for World Elephant Day!

Check out the World Elephant Day website for updates and news 🙂

Zambia:  Jeki, elephant ("Loxodonta africana") crossing Zambezi R.

Zambia: Jeki, elephant (“Loxodonta africana”) crossing Zambezi River

Kenya: Maasai (aka Masai) Mara National Reserve, Mara Conservancy, Mara Triangle, Trans Mora aerial (from helicopter), elephant near muddy tributary of Mara River,

Kenya: Maasai Mara National Reserve, Mara Conservancy, elephant near muddy tributary of Mara River

Blue and Green – finding balance

October 6, 2014

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

Charcoal burning destroys Kenya’s forests

September 5, 2014

 

Africa:  Kenya; North Rift District, Turkana Land, bags of charcoal for sale

Africa: Kenya; North Rift District, bags of charcoal for sale

How many trees are cut down to make one bag of charcoal? This illegal trade destroys endangered animals natural habitat and puts pressure on the entire ecosystem.

Fact – In Kenya, charcoal provides energy for 82% of urban and 34% of rural households. Source: http://asokoinsight.com/news/illegal-logging-charcoal-burning-destroying-east-africas-forests/

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

Knowing the facts will help us SAVE ELEPHANTS

August 19, 2014
Kenya: Amboseli National Park, male elephant in mud hole, baboons in distance.

Kenya: Amboseli National Park, male elephant in mud hole, baboons in distance.

Ironically, just after our blog yesterday, about the remarkable qualities of elephants, more sad statistics were featured in today’s NY Times, p. A9.

Study Details Elephant Deaths

Poachers killed an estimated 100,000 elephants across Africa from 2010 to 2012, a huge spike in the continent’s death rate of the world’s largest mammals because of an increased demand for ivory in China and other Asian nations, a study published Monday found. Warnings about elephant slaughters have been ringing for years, but Monday’s study is the first to scientifically quantify the number of deaths across the continent by measuring deaths in one park in Kenya and using other published data to extrapolate fatality tolls across the continent. The study found that the proportion of illegally killed elephants had climbed from 25 percent of all elephant deaths a decade ago to roughly 65 percent of all elephant deaths today, a percentage that, if continued will lead to the extinction of the species. The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was carried out by experts from Save the Elephants, the Kenya Wildlife Service, an international group called MIKE responsible for monitoring the illegal killings of elephants, and two universities.

Read more about this in the Huffington Post.

Kenya: Amboseli Nat'l Park, baby elephant with herd of females in background.

Kenya: Amboseli National Park, baby elephant with herd of females in background.

An elephant’s memory of water

August 18, 2014

Jones_2005_K_9020D

The African savannah elephant is the largest land mammal in the world. In folklore, elephants are known for not forgetting. For the African savannah elephant, memory is a tool for surviving challenges that may come intermittently over decades. Long-term memory tends to be vested in the older females, called matriarchs, without which the herd could die of starvation or dehydration. During the drought of 1993 in Tanzania, elephant matriarchs that remembered a similar drought 35 years before led their herds beyond the borders of Tarangire National Park in search of food and water. Groups with matriarchs that were not old enough to remember the previous drought suffered a 63 percent mortality of their calves that year. (Source: Wildlife Conservation Society)

< Click on thumbnails below for captions and larger view. >

Elephants are not human, of course. They are something much more ancient and primordial, living on a different plane of existence. Long before we arrived on the scene, they worked out a way of being in the world that has not fundamentally changed and is sustainable, and not predatory or destructive.
~Alex Shoumatoff

Discover more interesting facts about Loxodonta africana.

Read the story of Satao, a bull elephant who lived in the arid plains northwest of Mombasa, who had tusks so long that when he walked they nearly scraped the ground.

Take the IFAW pledge to PROTECT ELEPHANTS!

Kenya: Samburu National Reserve, female African elephant with two young adults and baby drinking from Uaso Nyiro River

Kenya: Samburu National Reserve, female African elephant with two young adults and baby drinking from Uaso Nyiro River

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

I dream of rain, I dream of gardens in the desert sand – Desert Rose

July 25, 2014
Ethiopia, Omo River Valley, view of Omo River with desert rose

Ethiopia, Omo River Valley, view of Omo River with desert rose

“Water is the true wealth in a dry land.”

–U.S. author Wallance Stegner, Beyond the Hundredth Meridian

The Desert Rose is not a real rose, or a member of the rosaceae family, but a spectacular succulent! It is sometimes called the Elephant’s Foot because its trunks swell to store water from summer rains to last thru the long dry winters.

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

Botswana’s Okavango Delta: UNESCO’s 1000th World Heritage Site!

July 9, 2014

A place as extraordinary as the Okavango Delta certainly deserves to be designated as a World Heritage Site – and finally it is!  As #1000 on that list, it’s one of NWNL’s favorite natural landscapes and wetlands ecosystem. You can see why in the photos. It’s literally an oasis in an arid country with no access to the sea. The Okavango River swells to three times its size during seasonal flooding, attracting one of Africa’s greatest concentrations of wildlife, including many endangered species. No Water – No Life!

Related reading: https://www.iucn.org/?16018/Iconic-Okavango-Delta-becomes-1000th-World-Heritage-site

http://www.okavangowildernessproject.org/

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