Showing posts with label africa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label africa. Show all posts

Sunday 5 May 2024

True or false that British colonialism caused African poverty and chaos?

I am thankful to Rod Liddle of The Sunday Times for the idea of this article. It will be thankfully short as it's not an area of my expertise. However, slavery is being discussed a lot at the moment and whether Britain's colonial past contributed to the country's relative wealth. Although, today, in terms of the country's future, I don't see an awful lot of wealth and another article in today's papers say that Britain is going to be poorer than Poland within five years.

True or false that British colonialism caused African poverty and chaos?
Ethiopia. Arguably as dysfunctional in terms of governance as the rest of most of Africa's countries but never colonised by GB. This is not to say that many other countries outside of Africa are not also dysfunctional in terms of governance. Think Russia for a start.

That is not to criticise Poland in anyway. However, the question being addressed in this article is whether British colonialism caused poverty in Africa and chaos on that continent. And the answer can be found, thanks to Rod Liddle in his research and I think I will quote him verbatim on this if he doesn't mind.

"As Adam Smith pointed out as early as 1776, [colonialism] was of no great benefit to the British Crown or its people: "Under the present system of management Great Britain derived nothing but loss from the Dominion which she assumes over her colonies."
And on the issue of Africa he says that this concept of Britain benefiting greatly from colonisation is wrong but it:
"gnaws away at the general believed assumption that the poverty and chaos of much of Africa is a direct consequence of our Imperial perfidy - an assumption easily refuted by examining the cases of Ethiopia and Liberia, two countries that were not formally colonised (Italy was driven out of Ethiopia after just five years) and that today face exactly the same problems as their neighbours, which were."
Britain's relative wealth is not built on slavery but on "good governance, entrepreneurship, a rapid improvement in general education and literacy, the Protestant work ethic and a primacy placed upon inventiveness". These were far more powerful and important to the success of Great Britain.

My thanks to The Sunday Times and Rod Liddle particularly.

Note: I have no personal views on this topic. If Mr Liddle had said that the evidence pointed to British colonialism causing poverty in Africa I would have accepted it. There were good and bad aspects to the colonial era. That's a fair assessment I'd say.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Monday 14 June 2021

What is the African lion's habitat?

Often people see the African lion ambling across the well-known Serengeti plains of East Africa. The Serengeti has wooded grasslands and rolling short grass plains which is quite different from the lion's habitat over much of its distribution in Africa. In general, lions live in "woodlands, dry forest, scrub, and even deserts. Visibility is the common factor throughout the various habitat types; compared with tigers, jaguars, and leopards, lions are at home in more open areas". I have taken the liberty of quoting directly from the best book on the wild cat species: Wild Cats of the World.

This is Cecil the lion. He was famous as a Walter Palmer, an America dentist tried to kill him with a bow and arrow. He failed and hie guide finished the job. There was international uproar. It is etched in the minds of millions even today as a senseless act of mindless bloodlust. Photo in public domain. The background shows you the kind of habitat the lion enjoys.

Lions are adequate climbers but less good than some other wild cat species and they are primarily terrestrial in comparison to some wild cat species such as the margay which is very much an arboreal cat i.e. it lives in trees.

It may interest readers to know that the male lions of the Gir Forest in India patrol ranges of 100-400 km² while lionesses have home ranges of about 50 km². The size of the home range depends largely on the biomass of prey available during lean times. In the prey-rich Serengeti woodlands lion prides have home territories of about 65 km² whereas prides living on the planes require over 184 km² during lean times. To be clear, this is approximately a 30 km x 60 km area of land. You can see how large the required habitat is for an African lion.

Tuesday 11 May 2021

Namibia's desert lions attack humans because they are starving due to drought

NAMIBIA, AFRICA - NEWS AND VIEWS: Starving desert lions are attacking humans in Namibia because a prolonged drought has killed off all their prey animals. Tourists have been warned about the danger that Namibia's desert lions posed to them and this small population of lions is dwindling as they battle starvation. Is this an example of global warming and climate change?

Campers have been attacked in their tent. One starving lion pounced on a 72-year-old man the previous day. The man, Denker, said that he was settling down with his wife at a camp in the north west when they spotted what they initially thought was a hyena but when the animal approached it emitted a chilling lion growl. 

Namibia's desert lions
Namibia's desert lions. Photo: Twitter.

They screamed and scared it away but the lion returned. It charged at the tent's window with the same low growl and crashed hard against the tent, dislodging the tent pole and peg and tilting the tent inwards towards them. The man fired a shot from his revolver which scared the lion off allowing them time to find safety.

Sadly, when they returned to their camp at Brandenburg, Namibia's highest mountain they found the gaunt lion chewing their tent canvas because of acute starvation. The same male lion is believed to have targeted the tour guide, David Ward, and his father a few miles away. They fought the lion off but Ward's 72-year-old father needed 20 stitches to his leg. The ribs and backbone of the lion were visible. The guide said that lions are going crazy with starvation.

Their plight is evidenced by these very rare attacks on humans and there is real concern that the lack of food and water in the desert habitat will lead to similar incidents. There must be concern, too, about their survival.

A spokesperson for the country's ministry of environment and tourism, Romeo Muyunda, said that: "Such behaviour is driven by sheer desperation because the animals have nothing to eat. We don't want anything happening to our tourists."

Namibia's desert lions attack a giraffe
Namibia's desert lions attack a giraffe. Picture in public domain.

The lion mentioned and three other malnourished cats were tracked and relocated to a private farm where there is plenty of prey animals such as antelopes. They will stay there until their condition has improved, the spokesperson said.

Sadly, two emaciated desert lions had to be euthanised because they were to weak to be saved.

The desert lions of Namibia live in what is described as the most "unforgiving patch of southern Africa" but they have adapted to the environment and survived. They are not a distinct subspecies but standard African lions.

They are leaner than average and travel longer distances in hunting for food and they've adapted to relying on the water content of their prey animals as a substitute for drinking water much like the diminutive sand cat. The sand cat is the only true desert cat.

Namibia's desert lions have been seen hunting seabirds and small seals on Namibia's Skeleton Coast. They are the only lions targeting sea life. It is believed that there are a mere 120 of these lions left and they have become a popular tourist attraction.

Farmers are affected because the lions have had to turn to livestock as a substitute for their normal prey animals.

News media: The Times.

Saturday 12 September 2020

African Golden Cat

African golden cat. Photo: Johannes Pfleiderer

The African Golden cat is a small to medium-sized wild cat species living in the African forests. It lives in sub-Saharan areas of the continent on the west side as shown in the map below. In short they live in tropical central and western Africa, including the Congo Republic and Uganda.

Map by Michael based on IUCN Red List

They are adapted to hot humid forests. They sleep in trees during daytime and hunt at dawn and dusk i.e. they are crepuscular like many other wild cat species. They are secretive and little is known about their population size but they are in danger because of extensive habitat destruction occurring throughout Africa. This is increasing as there is an increased need for precious metals for car batteries and high tech devices. This necessitates mining which leads to forest destruction.


This cat is about twice as big as a domestic cat. They have variable coats but most often it is a golden colour as indicated by the cat's name. Black and grey cats have also been recorded. The coat is slightly spotted with a paler underside. The tail is medium in length. They are solitary hunters. They stalk prey on the ground and in the trees. Their main diet consists of birds, monkeys and tree-hyraxes in the trees and on the ground they hunt rodents, small antelopes and duikers.

The length of head plus body is 69 cm to 90 cm (25.5 inches to 35.5 inches). Their weight varies between 5 kg and 12 kg which is 11 to 26.5 pounds.

Attacks monkeys

Read about an Africa golden cat attacking monkeys by clicking on this link.

Monday 16 June 2014

Kenyan Government Protects Poachers: What Happens to the Wild Cats?

Elephant Serengeti. Photo: Feans
Richard Leakey, one of the world's best known conservationists tells us that the Kenyan government is working with (yes, not against) poachers. This is a classic example of the well rehearsed dark-side of governments the world over which continues to have a catastrophic impact on wild species living in the wild.

Leakey refers to the ivory of elephants and the horns of rhino which feed the insatiable market in China but it could equally well be the bones of a lion from the plains of the Serengeti. The body parts of these glorious and increasingly precious species of popular wild animals are desired by many people. The more they are killed the rarer they become and in turn more desirable; one of the distortions of human existence.

Richard Leakey is the founder of the Kenya Wildlife Service. He says he is convinced that the Kenyan government knows who the criminals are.

The "last great wildlife species" are being slaughtered because of corruption in high places. Wasn't it ever thus but it won't change. We read these stories year-in-year-out and nothing changes in the long run, which tells me the end of poaching can only happen at the end of these species in the wild.

The reason why governments are involved in poaching themselves is because either (a) they are the poachers or (b) they get a skim-off from the profit of the poachers.

There may also be a link between wildlife trade, corruption and terrorism as the funds generated might be supporting terrorists groups says United States Trade Representative Michael Froman.

Leakey took an uncompromising stand against poaching in his role as the former head of the Kenya Wildlife Service. For example, he persuaded the then president of Kenya to burn their 12 ton ivory stock pile. They used to shoot at poachers on sight. Not anymore.

Leakey is the victim of a plane crash in 1993. He lost his legs. Was it sabotage? He has enemies. These criminals will stop at nothing. The money is big. The devastation to wildlife is also big.

It seems that Leakey doesn't know who the perpetrators are otherwise he would have gone to the police. Perhaps he knows that it is pointless because the police are corrupt as well.

John Scanlon of CITES states that the African elephants are under threat of extinction in the wild. Shocking isn't it? This is an iconic creature. The world just watches and waits for the inevitable. We are too wrapped up in our own mess i.e. the rise of Al Qaeda terrorism, which will affect us all even if it is thousands of miles away from people in the West.

Big business pays poor Africans a pittance compared to their profits to poison elephants and wild cat species. Most of the ivory (a better description is the tusks of an elephant) is shipped to China.
If we are honest the corruption almost certainly runs through every aspect of government; local and national, police and customs. It is so deeply entrenched it is impossible to stop and therefore it is impossible to stop the demise of the iconic wild species of Africa.

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