This page of Vikali's Kopje is about the only one that has little or nothing to do with The Lion King. Yet at the same time, I feel it to be the most important. For literally millennia, animal species across the globe have (often by persecution or as a by-product) been falling in numbers, sometimes to the brink of extinction, by human means. Since 50,000 years ago at the very least, parts of the African savannah have been intentionally burned. Since before the pyramids were built, deforestation and conversion of wild land to pasture had begun. One of the main problems is human enroachment into wildlands; a prime example of this is in the Amazon, where vast swathes of the rainforest are being cleared (known as 'logging') to make way for farmland. Over 30 percent of the world's land-based animals and plant species live there. Their home and even entire species are being wiped out to grow crops such as soya beans, thousands of tonnes of which are exported to around the world in order to feed chickens that are served up in fast-food venues such as McDonald's.

Another of the problems in human/animal conflict, aside from habitat degradation, is that when farmers clear a swathe of land in order to bring in cattle. The lack of vegatation drives away the prey that the area's predators depend upon, leaving them to prey upon the livestock, and then get killed for doing so. But by far the worst crime is that known as hunting for 'sport'. Westerners pay thousands, if not millions each year to travel to Africa in order to kill socialized, unsuspecting creatures in often brutal ways, merely so they can take home parts of it as a 'trophy' or sign of their 'achievments'. But their is hope.

With organizations and charity groups such as the World Wildlife Fund and the Born Free Foundation out there, an increasing number of people (in the West more than the East, I should note) are becoming aware of and concerned about the welfare of animals. Such organizations work tirelessly in working to halt the destruction of and protect the enviroment, with projects set up all across the globe to help preserve endangered species and their habitats. A lot of charities (especially the smaller, national-only ones) aren't sponsered by any governing bodies, so rely on donations by good-hearted members of the public in order to fund them. Whether it be a giving some of your old clothing to your local animal shelter, to paying anything from a new set of binoculars, to medical treatment for a sick or injured animal, to even a warden's salary for the month. Remember: in conservation, every little counts.

~ Penned by Vikali Kupotea on the 25th of October, 2008.


    Below are a selection of pages featuring vunerable, endangered, or critically endangered animals, and various conservation details of them. While most are from Africa, I have included a couple that are not, including a few of the larger species of Felidae. All the links open in pop-up windows, so make sure you have set your browser to allow them for this site!
African Elephant African Wild Dog Amur Leopard
Cheetah Chimpanzee Cougar
Ethiopian Wolf Giraffe Gorilla
Grey Wolf Jaguar Leopard
Lion Mountain Zebra Rhinocerous
Snow Leopard Spotted Hyena Tiger

International Animal Welfare Groups

    Here I have described and listed four of the world's largest organizations centered around welfare for animals and their natural habitats:

    Born Free Foundation
    Focus: Bears, Big Cats, Elephants, Ethiopian Wolves, General Welfare, Marine Life, Primates.

    The Born Free Foundation is an international, charitable organisation for wildlife based in the United Kingdom. It was started up as the Zoo Check Campaign in 1984, then officially became the Born Free Foundation in 1991. With animal welfare as a priority, Born Free gives has campaigns centered around the Big Cats, elephants, primates, ethiopian wolves, marine life, and bears. At the heart of the charity is their Zoo Check campaign, where they investigate neglect and cruelty, campaigns for better animal welfare, and most importantly an end to wild animals in captivity. Along with numerous presences around the globe, the Foundation has two Big Cat sancturies in the South African Shamwari Game Reserve.

    Jane Goodall Institute
    Focus: General Animal Welfare, Habitat Conservation, Primates.

    The Jane Goodall Institute was founded in 1977 by the woman it is named after, and Genevieve, Princes di San Faustino. In the world of biology, Dame Jane Goodall is widely respected in relation to her knowledge and work with primates, notably her 45 years of studying the family and social interactions of chimpanzees. It's most famous program, the Roots & Shoots, was started in 1991 to promote positive changes to animals and the enviroment, with the first project being educating those who live in rural villages on how to care for chickens in their homes and markets in a more humane manner. The Institute is a global one, with offices all around the world, from Australia to Hong Kong, with it's most notable facility being the Gombe Stream Research Centre in Tanzania. Highly prioritized amongst the Institute's objectives is the preservation of primates and their habitat, though no less attention is paid to the welfare of animals in general and conservation of these wild creatures' habits.

    Wildlife Conservation Society
    Focus: African Wild Dogs, Antelope, Big Cats, Elephants, Ending the Bushmeat Trade, Giraffes, Gorillas, Habitat Conservation, Marine Life, Rainforest Conservation, Wolves.

    The Wildlife Conservation Society was started up as the New York Zoological Society in 1895. In 1897, the Zoo's Director - William Temple Hornaday - hired a field researcher called Andrew Stone to survey the condition of Alaskan wildlife. Based off his findings, Hornaday led camapaigns for the protection of wildlife and their habitat all across the United States of America. Their name was changed to the Wildlife Conservation Society in 1993, and now works in 53 countries across Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Among what they considers its priority species are tigers, jaguars, elephants, saiga and pronghorn antelope, the American bison, and marine mammals. The Society's main goal is to save wildlife and its habitat through the use of science, education, and international conservation.

    Focus: All Animals, Climate Change, Forests, Freshwater, General Animal Welfare, Marine Life, Sustainability.

    The World Wide Fund for Nature (known as the World Wildlife Fund in the USA and Canada) is an organization set up in 1961 as a chairtable trust by Max Micholson and Julian Huxley. The Fund's mission is to protect and conserve nature on Earth by protecting the habitats where wild fauna and flora live and grow, promoting sustainable use of renewable natural resources, the promotion of efficient energy and resource use, and last but not least to ensure the highest possible reduction of pollution. Among their overall concern for the welfare of animals, they also have a number which they consider to be flagship species, which include cetaceans, elephants, Great Apes, pandas, rhinoceros, and tigers. Alongside the Fund's focus on animals, they work upon preserving their enviroments, for example, the conservation of forests and oceans. With offices in over ninety countries, ranging from Africa to Australia, they offer support to both conservation and enviromental projects around the globe, alongside the vast number of projects they have running themselves.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

    I should note that I have not listed PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) in the list of animal welfare groups. This is due to the the number of animals they euthanize (nearly 85% of all they rescue), their being against the no kill movement, a number of its tasteless campaigns, but most of all for it's 20 Year Extinction plan. In 20 years, it hopes to stop Big Cats in captivity, which is all a fantastic idea. In theory. Every single Big Cat PETA 'rescues', they castrate and/or spay. If allowed to give birth, the cubs can then be weaned from their mother and reintroduced to the wilds of Africa (or where appropriate) to boost the population of Big Cats in the area. However, by castrating the males, they are preventing the continuation of Big Cat births. They have even stated that they are aware of and support the extinction of Big Cats in captivity, even to the point of supporting extinction in the wild, due to the declining numbers. Big Cat Rescue and their founder, Carole Baskins, are both part of PETA and support the very same poilicies - this includes neutering all male Big Cats they 'rescue'.

    PETA are not friends of animals and have been criticized numerous times as an extremist organization, suspected of terrorist activites by various authorities and even financing the Animal Liberation Front. If you love Big Cats, and other animals besides, do not even go near PETA. Go instead to groups such as the WWF or the Born Free Foundation.


Factual References

Photographic Credits

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