Sadly, yesterday’s announcements from the World Wildlife Fund and The London Zoo which can be found here about species disappearances and declines come as no surprise. It has been documented many times, in many ways. It forms part of The Trouble With Lions and within that text, excerpts of which are at here I have given very specific numbers and citations for the declines of many of Africa’s megafauna. In 1989 Ian Parker and Alasdair Graham- took the time to collate the information on thirty species that is scattered throughout Jonathan Kingdon’s seven-volume masterpiece East African Mammals: An Atlas of Evolution in Africa. Among those species is the Uganda kob (Kobus kob). In this case Kingdon documented a drastic decrease in the range of a species that was once seen all the way from West Africa to Uganda. He calculated that by 1990 their range had decreased by 89%. Kingdon’s map on page 368 of his 7th volume (IIIB) tells the tale as it has occurred in Uganda. The former distribution covered more than half the country.
In 1975 the range was limited to small pockets in three national parks, including Queen Elizabeth NP where we have been working for several years with Canadian and Ugandan students. The total area is probably no more than 1% of the country. Even inside the parks, the range has further declined under the constant pressure of poaching. We have seen very direct evidence of this near Lake George, where the stone sign shown here acts as a kob monument, rather than in its intended capacity as an information-cum-warning of the presence of large numbers of kob on their mating grounds. We have stopped at the sign and never seen a kob.
Kob are but one example. Rhino, elephant, lions, wild dogs, and a considerable variety of bushmeat species are all mentioned in the book. The latest “method-of-choice” for getting rid of unwanted species is the application of minute amounts of the insecticide carbofuran, sold in East Africa as Furadan. If the recent reports (see the blog posting of May 5th) of poisoned lions in the Maasai Mara are anything to go by poachers had better be very cautious how they use the stuff, which is cheap and readily available. In the lion case the animals succumbed after they ate the carcass of a hippo that had been poisoned. A poacher or his customers might suffer the same fate if he used Furadan to kill his prey and then ate or sold the meat.
reference:- Parker, I.S.C. and A.D, Graham. 1989. Elephant declines: downward trends in African elephant distribution and numbers (part II) Intern. J. Environmental Studies. 35.