Shall We Dance?

The charismatic African penguin - Spheniscus demersus returns from sea_01 African penguins mate for life. African penguins from the Boulders colony live on the urban edge. African penguins shadow dancing.

WPC:  Shadow

The afternoon shadows lengthen as the sun slips towards the horizon and the African penguins return from a day’s fishing.  Stocks of their prey, small pelagic fish such as sardines and anchovies are dwindling in numbers and as a consequence since 2000 the penguin populations off South African have been declining, especially off the heavily fished West Coast.  Give a thought for these charismatic little creatures as they are listed as Endangered on the IUCN’s REd Data List.

Numbers

Rhino-poaching-numbers

“Since 2008 poachers have killed at least 5,940 African rhinos……

Rhino poaching is currently at a crisis point. By the end of 2015, the number of African rhinos killed by poachers had increased for the sixth year in a row with at least 1,338 rhinos killed by poachers across Africa in 2015. These statistics are compiled by by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission’s African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG).”  www.savetherhino.org

Ben’s theme this week is “Numbers”.

 

Cycads and Pterodactyls

Cycads_Pterodactyl

“Share your vision of our magnificent Earth through your lens,” challenges Jen H this week.

At Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens lush beds of cycads flourish, plants which have an ancient lineage going back 250 million years. In a time-warp take a Pterodactyl hangs suspended and the impression is of a different era.   Thinking of epochs and this ever changing dynamic earth of ours:  in the Jurassic era fossil records indicate that many of the arid deserts of the Triassic were replaced by lush rainforests.  The first birds appeared evolving from the pterosaurs.  Crocodilians made the transition from a terrestrial to an aquatic mode of life.  Dinosaurs roamed and then disappeared, wiped out.

In today’s terms of the Anthropocene: greenhouse gasses, climate change and the rapid extinction of species, one wonders about Mother Earth’s balance.

Greening-the-planet

Let’s make the planet a greener place.

As a tribute to Earth day and the green movement,  I’d like to give a shout out to an organisation here in Cape Town – www.Greenpop.org; 

“Greenpop plants trees and invites everyone to join the treevolution, see inspiration instead of gloom in the green space and create innovative and sustainable solutions. We pride ourselves in making green living fun, educating people on best practice tree care, monitoring our trees and ensuring that together we leave a lasting legacy.”

 

The call of the mountains

Tucked up in the rugged mountains of the southern Hottentot Holland range closeby Cape Town, lies the Kogelberg Nature Reserve.  It has a rather exceptional rating as a ‘biosphere’, which means it’s 18,000 ha of pristine vegetation is intact and protected as essentially wild and undisturbed.  It’s also considered the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom due to the exceptional quality of it’s fynbos and high biological diversity as well as being recognised as a World Heritage site.

Cape Nature manages the reserve and keeps it low key;  there are just five chalets which are sensitively designed with a low-impact footprint, using solar-power and compasting loos.  The grey water is also collected and recycled so that the wetlands are preserved from any effluent.

It’s a “Stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off” kindof place.  Here you can disappear from the hurly-burly of city life – hiking trails lead up mountain tracks or along the pristine rivers, where the spoor is of buck, baboon, otters and mongoose.   At this time of year winter’s breath is clear with a crisp champagne air and raptors soar on the high thermals: black eagles, peregrine falcons, fish eagles ….   My hope is that the scenic photos might convey a sense of this awesome realm?

It’s International Biodiversity Day!

This is a day to celebrate: that biodiversity is recognised across the globe, right?  The theme this year is linked to Sustainable Development.  The focus is on efforts to integrate biodiversity targets into Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).  All the buzz words and acronyms but how does it translate into actions? The goals were part of the outcome document from the Rio+20 Summit and are expected to become part of the United Nations (UN) overarching development agenda beyond 2015. There are currently 17 objectives, and the first is to ‘end poverty in all its forms everywhere’, with other goals focusing on resilient infrastructure, gender empowerment and sustainable use of natural resources.

“Biodiversity and ecosystems should be integrated and into the UN post 2015 sustainable development agenda,” says Susan Brown, Director of Global and Regional Policy at World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Andrew Deutz, Director of International Government Relations at The Nature Conservancy explains further : ” The focus of Goal 15, for example, encompasses sustainable management of ecosystems and halting and reversing land degradation and biodiversity loss. There are indicators within the SDG on food security that mention sustainable agriculture,” says Deutz. “Another Goal that deals with water discusses restoring freshwater ecosystems and managing water resources with integrated approaches.”

Deutz says one of the most important notions to come out of the SDG panel was that the environment is not a stand-alone pillar. “Environment and natural resource management need to be integrated across the full spectrum of other goals,” he says. So success looks like achievements that conserve the environment while also ensuring food security. Are these goals really achievable? In March this year during a visit to London I was lucky to get to the Syngenta Photography Exhibition held at Somerset House.  The theme explores global challenges and was titled:  “Scarcity Waste”  and was represented under four themes: “Planet under Pressure”, “Our Footprint”, “Food Waste”, and “Shaping our Future”. A picture is worth a thousand words, so the saying goes, and how relevant it is in this context.   The photographers captured seeringly desolate scenes,  scenes that chill the heart.  On the one hand the plight of the desparately poor and on the other the extravagant waste of the first world populations.  As more than 800 million people got to bed hungry worldwide, others throw away over half of the food they buy.  A third of the world’s food prodution is lost or wasted along the supply chain.  In a world of limited resources, scarcity and waste have become fundamental social, political and environmental issues of our time.  Something needs to change! Text and photographs below are those displayed at the Syngenta Photography Exhibition under the theme:

“Planet under Pressure”

Our demands on nature are increasing: we are eating into our natural capital, making it more difficult to sustain the needs of the future. We have become the dominant force that is both shaping and altering the planet as a whole. Our impact is no longer local; it’s global. The effect of a growing human population will multiply the pressure we place on natural resources.  Our challenge is to ensure that there is enough land, food and water for future generations.”

http://www.eileencrist.com/images/pdf/Crist-Choosing-a-Planet-of-Life.pdf http://www.populationspeakout.org Further reading on SBD’s  https://www.cbd.int/sbstta/doc/trondheim-full-paper-2-sdgs-en.pdf

“The economic and social needs of human populations will
continue to rely on wild species, which implies that these will
have to be used in a sustainable way, avoiding any threats of
extinction. Solutions involve much more than looking at all
living things as an economic resource, they are about changing
legal and institutional frameworks as well as individual habits,
particularly in industrialized nations, if species are to be saved.
The CBD* has not reached this level of action to drive changes
in economic systems that currently allow species to be over-
exploited and placed on the verge of extinction”

* Convention on Biological Diversity