Blogs and News - St George's School For Girls, Edinburgh
Well done everyone! We are finally there. Thank you so much to the 16 groups from St George's who contributed to this huge endeavour by walking, cycling or running every day until we reached Bulawayo. Very many thanks to our friends at Merchiston for their daily updates and information along the route, and especially to Fiona Blair who initiated the whole enterprise. We hope you enjoyed it!
Donations are very much appreciated; if you are a taxpayer, tax relief can be claimed. The code is J301N.
As we are starting the day in Nairobi our first port of call has to be the Headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
UNEP is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda. Last June they facilitated the meeting of four Heads of State, dozens of community representatives and private sector leaders who met at the first-ever Africa Wildlife Economy Summit in Victoria Falls, in Zimbabwe.
They agreed to place wildlife and conservation at the centre of economic development, with communities as co-investors in the continent's wildlife economy.
Tanzania’s ecological highlight has to be the Ngorongoro Conservation Area which is a protected area and a World Heritage Site which spans vast expanses of highland plains, savanna, savanna woodlands and forests. Established in 1959 as a multiple land-use area, with wildlife coexisting with semi-nomadic Maasai pastoralists practising traditional livestock grazing, it includes the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest caldera.
The name of the crater has an onomatopoeic origin; it was named by the Maasai pastoralists after the sound produced by the cowbell (ngoro ngoro). Based on fossil evidence found at the Olduvai Gorge, various hominid species have occupied the area for 3 million years.
As any self-respecting VI Form Biology student will tell you, Lake Malawi was always going to be my choice for Malawi (not least because it is a textbook example of speciation!) Cichlids are found all over the world, mainly in Africa and Latin America, but they’re especially abundant in Lake Malawi, where they’ve diverged into at least 850 species. That’s more species of fish than can be found in all of the freshwater bodies of Europe combined! Interested? Check out this Smithsonian Magazine article “The Fishy Mystery of Lake Malawi”.
On paper, about 30% of Zambia is reserved for wildlife! There are 20 national parks and 34 game management areas in the country. Zambia's "big game" wildlife (including sports fishing) is the foundation of its tourism industry, now one of its biggest employers and foreign-exchange earners; Victoria Falls and cultural events come second and third in importance. Fortunately, we are now in Dry Season (May to October), so it’s simply the best time to spot wildlife! When water is scarce, the animals congregate at waterholes and rivers.
We are a little early for whale watching season in Mozambique, but that’s OK because we are heading inland towards our FINAL DESTINATION! However, it would be a shame to stray too far from the coast, and not enjoy this region fabulous biodiversity. Mozambique’s endemic plants include the beautiful, the weird and the wonderful, from a stately palm (Raphia australis) to a leopard print succulent (Orbea halipedicola).
After several years of work involving an international team of researchers, the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew been able to put together an accurate checklist of the country’s endemic flora – a key resource for plant conservation.
Well, you'll just have to watch this space!