The Mountain Nyala Of Ethiopia

Hoas

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In September of 1910 the English naturalist Richard Lydekker received word from a Piccadilly taxidermist Mr. Rowland Ward. He reported that the skin, scull and horns of an unknown kudu-like antelope had been brought into his taxidermy shop. The animal had been shot in the Abyssinian Highlands by a Mr. Ivor Buxton earlier that year. It appeared to be a cross between an nyala and a kudu and it was suggested that it be known as the spotted kudu.

Lydekker received the donated specimen on behalf of the British Museum and gave it the Latin name Tragelaphus buxtoni. He thought that it looked more like an nyala than a kudu and decided on mountain nyala for it’s common name. Little did he know at the time that the link between this endemic species and safari hunting would be responsible for the preservation of Afro-montane forest in central Ethiopia in the 21st century.

Ethiopia has a human population of around 95 million and apart from the 7 to 8 million who live in the capital Addis Ababa the populace is mostly pastoral. Subsistence agriculture is the dominant economic activity. As the human population continues to grow there is an ever increasing demand for agricultural land which places extreme pressure on the country’s wilderness areas.

Forests in Ethiopia may have at one time covered as much as 35% of the country but this has since been reduced to around 2.3%. 58 Forest Priority Areas covering 2.3 million hectares have been designated to conserve the forests of the country. Despite this official protection a multitude of intertwining factors are contributing to deforestation of some 163,000 hectares annually.

This environmental degradation has forced the forest administration to seek an alternative to a government command-controlled conservation approach. In Ethiopia all land belongs to the State but participatory forest management has been established in the Forestry Priority Areas. The objective is to achieve sustainable forest management through community empowerment.

One of the income-generating options available is safari hunting and this has proved to be lucrative for these communities. The mountain nyala is the key species. Eco-tourism is also promoted but safari hunting is around 5 times more profitable. 60% of both the hunting licensing fees and the concession fees goes directly back to the villages but it is not distributed equally. Those that are seen to participate more in forest management practices receive the greater share. This weighted system of income sharing incentivizes the communities to be more conservation-minded.

The forestry authorities have realized that monetary benefits alone will not work. The people must also have controlled access to forest resources. Twice a week the villagers are allowed into the forests to recover dead wood. The felling of live trees is forbidden. Honey gathered from beehives made out of dead tree trunks is also permitted.

There are five hunting operators in Ethiopia that currently hunt the mountain nyala and they are responsible for protecting around 2 000 square kilometers of forest. Jason Roussos is a native 4th generation Ethiopian and co-owner of Ethiopian Rift Valley Safaris. He is a professional hunter but also has a degree in wildlife biology. His company currently operates in 5 controlled hunting areas and within each of these areas 15 to 20 people are employed on a fulltime basis as forest guards and game scouts.

In 2004 a scientific paper on the status of the mountain nyala in Ethiopia was published in the African Journal of Ecology. The conclusion of this study was that the total population of mountain nyala throughout the country was estimated to be less than 1 000 and that the study area, the Bale Mountains National Park, encompassed 95% of the total mountain nyala population. This implied that there were only 50 nyala in the rest of the country.

At the time there were 7 safari hunting companies operating in different areas across the country, all of which were producing top quality mountain nyala trophies. The validity of the paper had to be called into question. If the findings had been accepted by various conservation bodies such as the IUCN, CITES or the US Fish and Wildlife Service, it would have spelled the end of mountain nyala safari hunting, the mountain nyala as a species and the Afro-montane forests.

Ethiopian Rift Valley Safaris teamed up with researchers from Colorado State University, Fort Collins to undertake practical mountain nyala research in Ethiopia. Using satellite imagery, field observations and advanced statistical algorithms the researchers are able to monitor mountain nyala habitat. This invaluable work has shown that mountain nyala populations are healthy and that safari hunting actually enhances the survival prospects of the species.

The future of the Afro-montane forests of Ethiopia is inextricably linked to the fate of the mountain nyala and without safari hunting that species prospects would look grim. For wildlife conservation to work in Africa a balanced approach is needed which takes into account both economic factors and the socio-cultural needs of the indigenous people.

The mantra of the anti-hunting lobby is that hunters are not conservationists. Their claim is that hunters are only interested in satisfying a bloodlust and have little concern for wildlife or the environment. The truth of the matter is that those who utilize a natural resource are most likely to want to conserve it.


Source: http://theconservationimperative.com/?p=640
 

Hoas

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CAN A SINGLE SPECIES SAVE AN ENTIRE ECOSYSTEM?

The story of the mountain nyala of Ethiopia is an interesting one. In September of 1910 the English naturalist Rich Lydekker received word from a Piccadilly taxidermist Mr. Rowland Ward. He reported that the skin, scull and horns of an unknown kudu-like antelope had been brought into his taxidermy shop. The animal had been shot in the Abyssinian Highlands by a Mr. Ivor Buxton earlier that year. It appeared to be a cross between an nyala and a kudu and it was suggested that it be known as the spotted kudu.

Lydekker received the donated specimen on behalf of the British Museum and gave it the Latin name Tragelaphus buxtoni. He thought that it looked more like an nyala than a kudu and decided on mountain nyala for it’s common name. Little did he know at the time that the link between this species and safari hunting would be responsible for the preservation of Afro-montane woodland in central Ethiopia in the 21st century.

This 5-minute documentary follows this story and is an abridged version of the full 30-minute documentary.

The Mountain Nyala Of Ethiopia by Hoas posted Jun 29, 2018 at 5:36 PM
 

Hank2211

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Having been there and hunted mountain nyala, I can say that almost every word of this is true. Without hunters, there would be no reason to keep any forests off limits to agriculture, and there would be no forests left in a very short period of time.

The problem is that the areas which are protected now as hunting areas tend not to be huge, and tend not to be contiguous. So you have an area of a few mountains which is protected, surrounded by mountains which have been stripped of their native flora, and terraced into agricultural uses. While there is nothing to stop mountain nyala from going through agricultural areas to move between protected areas, in practice, of course, they don't do that. They don't like leaving the protection of the thick forests for any length of time, and they are very shy of people. So you end up with small areas with small and perhaps unsustainable populations of mountain nyala, which lack genetic diversity (Bale National Park aside, of course).

This is better than nothing of course, but it's far from ideal.

Oh, one other thing. The law may be that people are allowed in the forest two days a week to collect firewood. The reality is that people are in the woods every day collecting firewood and grazing their animals. it was a rare mountain meadow that did not have goats, sheep, and children minding them daily. I have never hunted in an area where people lurked behind every tree. The only law which I would say saw any enforcement was that against cutting down live trees. So the forests will continue, small as they are, but they will see extensive use by local residents.

These people are dirt poor in every sense though. If I were them, I would be doing exactly the same thing. Looking after my family would come before the mountain nyala every time.
 

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Interesting read.
 

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Thank you @Hoas for posting the article, it is very well written.

I was in the Bale Mountains hunting Mountain Nyala 60 days ago. Just as @Hank2211 stated the ever presence of humans and livestock coexisting with the wildlife came as quite a shock. For decades I have read what a difficult and elusive creature the Mountain Nyala were so I never dreamed that I would take a photo of a live Mountain Nyala with a cattle in the same frame!

When considering a mountain safari in Ethiopia, you might have a knee jerk reaction to the trophy fees with an Nyala being $15K and a Menelik Buckbuck $6K. Added on top of the 21 day minimum and you quickly exceed $60K before any incidentals, travel expenses and tips.

I recall when the gov’t jumped the fees up dramatically and I asked my old friend Bert Klineburger how he thought the clients would react. His answer - “where else are they going to get a Mountain Nyala and Menelik Bushbuck, they’ll pay it”. That was nearly a decade ago and the hunting continues.

The success of the rising population of Mountain Nyala is directly attribued to the economic value as derived from hunters. Despite the human encroachment, I believe their will always be a huntable population as long as the economic value remains. Its the loss of habitat that will be the biggest enemy of the mountain species.
 

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I can't think of another scenario where hunting is so clearly responsible for species and habitat conservation.
 

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I just saw an Altai Argali hunt for $100,000. Ethiopia isn't for everyone, and lots of people who would love the hunt can't afford it, without a doubt. Having said that, this is a specialized hunt for animals which can't be found elsewhere, and if getting the nine spiral horns matters to you . . . then to Ethiopia you will go!

The IUCN currently has mountain nyala as "endangered." There are somewhere between 2,500 - 4,000 total animals left in the wild (note that none are currently kept in captivity). The IUCN says this about hunting these animals:

Effects of current trophy-hunting programs are not well understood and current trophy hunting quotas may be unsustainable in the long-term. On the other hand, sustainable trophy hunting has very high potential for generating the revenue needed to fund effective conservation of this species.
and:

Sustainable trophy hunting in some of these areas has very high potential for generating the revenue needed to fund effective conservation of this species and the other endemics which share its habitat.
I thought long and hard before going to hunt an endangered animal, particularly one found in a country where law enforcement in terms of wildlife protection is haphazard, to say the least. I was finally convinced, admittedly in part because my goal is to get the spiral horns, but also because without some hunting, there is no reason to protect the habitat that these magnificent animals need to survive.

So in light of the small number of permits issued every year, the cost is one way to generate enough money to actually have an impact on conservation, while keeping the number of permits down to a number which (we can only hope) is sustainable. Sadly, I just don't think that mountain nyala populations could withstand the increased demand which would come with lower hunt prices.
 

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Thank you @Hoas for posting the article, it is very well written.

I was in the Bale Mountains hunting Mountain Nyala 60 days ago. Just as @Hank2211 stated the ever presence of humans and livestock coexisting with the wildlife came as quite a shock. For decades I have read what a difficult and elusive creature the Mountain Nyala were so I never dreamed that I would take a photo of a live Mountain Nyala with a cattle in the same frame!

When considering a mountain safari in Ethiopia, you might have a knee jerk reaction to the trophy fees with an Nyala being $15K and a Menelik Buckbuck $6K. Added on top of the 21 day minimum and you quickly exceed $60K before any incidentals, travel expenses and tips.

I recall when the gov’t jumped the fees up dramatically and I asked my old friend Bert Klineburger how he thought the clients would react. His answer - “where else are they going to get a Mountain Nyala and Menelik Bushbuck, they’ll pay it”. That was nearly a decade ago and the hunting continues.

The success of the rising population of Mountain Nyala is directly attribued to the economic value as derived from hunters. Despite the human encroachment, I believe their will always be a huntable population as long as the economic value remains. Its the loss of habitat that will be the biggest enemy of the mountain species.

JES,

Did you get your mountain nyala? I have been talking with Jason about a hunt for a while. He just emailed me the latest details. He is offering a 15-day hunt now. In your opinion, are 15 days enough? How about the eight hour drive to save charter expenses? Thanks for any advice you can offer.
 

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JES Adventures

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JES,

Did you get your mountain nyala? I have been talking with Jason about a hunt for a while. He just emailed me the latest details. He is offering a 15-day hunt now. In your opinion, are 15 days enough? How about the eight hour drive to save charter expenses? Thanks for any advice you can offer.

Sorry I missed your question - the drive didn’t bother me much as I slept for nearly half of it. I enjoyed the scenery and the opportunity to get to know my PH.
 

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Sorry I missed your question - the drive didn’t bother me much as I slept for nearly half of it. I enjoyed the scenery and the opportunity to get to know my PH.

Thanks JES. Please send me a PM with RVS rates for all species. Their website prices say 2010? Maybe they have not updated things in a while?
 
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JES Adventures

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Thanks JES. Please send me a PM with RVS rates for all species. Their website prices say 2010? Maybe they have not updated things in a while?
Thanks @Scott CWO, will do. By the looks of your profile we’ve chewed up some of the same earth!
 
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Scott CWO

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Thanks @Scott CWO, will do. By the looks of your profile we’ve chewed up some of the same earth!

Well that’s very generous of you but I think you are way ahead of me in that regard. I hope to catch up but am running out of time!
 

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