Leon Marshall

South Africa’s Mapungubwe National Park is no stranger to controversy. In a new twist, the enigmatic reserve is to get paid for having a mining company dig for coal a short distance from its boundary. Mapungubwe National Park on South Africa’s northern Limpopo River border with Zimbabwe and Botswana is an enigmatic reserve for both...

The assault on South Africa’s rhinos has become so catastrophic that a large-scale emergency program is underway to evacuate a minimum of 500 of the endangered animals to safe havens. The move forms part of what the authorities call an “integrated strategy” to head off poachers that are slaying the iconic animals for their horn,...

South Africans, and with them many the world over, are mourning the passing of the father of the all-race democracy that came to be known as the “New South Africa”. Children grueved at the loss of their favorite grandfather. It has always been one of the most remarkable features of the life and times of...

The audience sat in stunned silence on hearing the announcement that, with five months to go, South Africa’s rhino-poaching toll for 2013 had already shot well past the 500 mark. The occasion was a meeting in Johannesburg where stakeholders were taking stock of strategies to put a brake on the killing spree. With 536 rhinos...

The growing incursion of rhino poachers from Mozambique into South Africa’s flagship Kruger National Park is beginning to strain relations between the two countries. South African security operatives trying to stem the relentless killing of the enigmatic animals speak of it as a “border war”. They are getting increasingly fed-up with Mozambique’s security agencies for...

The number of rhinos killed for their horns in South Africa so far this year has shot up to 618. This is well past last year’s shock record of 448 and substantially more than the tally of 550 predicted at the beginning of 2012. And still there is no sign of the onslaught letting up....

The four occupants of the skiff waved merrily as they bounced their way back to shore. Some of the tourists on board our shark cage diving boat waved back, but the skipper stared fixedly ahead. “Abalone poachers,” he muttered. The sight of such small vessels riding the swells in Walker Bay off Africa’s southernmost point...

Gansbaai, South Africa — Sharks have taken a big hand in the fortunes of this fishing village on the southernmost coast of Africa. Fishing used to be the lifeblood of Gansbaai (meaning Goose Bay), and to an extent it still is. But nowadays some of the smartest boats slipping out of its rudimentary harbor at...

It has been a bad year for rhinos in South Africa. Many more got killed than in 2010, the 333 toll of which was described with words like “shocking” and “outrageous”. Most thought it couldn’t get worse. It’s got much worse. The tally for 2011 is at least 433. It could end up being higher,...

The COP17 round of climate negotiations in Durban has once again shown just how hard it is to devise a cohesive international response to this threatening phenomenon. It is for this reason that the conference’s agreement to sign up to an all-inclusive legal commitment to reduce carbon emissions has been hailed as a major breakthrough,...

The annual United Nations meeting to assess progress in dealing with climate change convenes in Durban, South Africa, next week. The meeting is known formally as the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as...

Five southern African countries have signed into place the region’s biggest and most ambitious transfrontier conservation project yet. It covers a sparsely populated region of 444,000 square kilometers (171,429 square miles; slightly larger than California) that comprises some of the most spectacular scenery on the continent. It is also an area that has suffered some...

A South African court effectively threw away the key when it jailed two smugglers convicted of trying to smuggle rhino horns out of the country. But the slaughter of the country’s pachyderms for  the spurious healing power of their horns continues unchecked. A new scheme allegedly involves sex workers posing as trophy hunters seeking to...

  The shadow of rhino poaching keeps darkening the magnificent landscape that places South Africa among the most biodiverse countries in the world. Already the figure for the year so far stands at about 200 rhinos killed. This has conservationists fearing that the toll for the year could end up exceeding the shocking 333 killed...

Leopard and cheetah are two of southern Africa’s most enigmatic cat species. But both are under growing threat from livestock farmers, trophy hunters and both the legal and illegal trade in wildlife species. Now conservationists are pushing for tighter controls. The beauty of leopards and the significance attached to their craftiness and power are demonstrated...