Mark and Sophie Hutchinson started Wild Ark with the hope of being able to show their grandchildren wild lions in Africa. They are busy building Pridelands as a buffer zone between the needs of humans and wildlife protection. Pridelands is located near Kruger National Park The couple loves to teach and show others about wildlife on the continent of Africa.
Habitat Loss in South Africa
Animals living in South Africa face many different challenges. One of the largest problems is habitat loss through agriculture, industry and human settlement. As animals lose their natural habitat, they end up living in protected areas isolated from others greatly affecting the area’s biodiversity. Increased demand for traditional medicines, hunting intensity for bushmeat and cultural regalia have had a direct impact on many animals including the African wild dog, leopard and mountain reedbuck.
Oribi and other animals are threatened by illegal sport hunting with dogs. The number of white and black rhinoceroses along with pangolins continue to decline because of illegal poaching.
The Effect of Severe Drought on South Africa’s Wildlife
Another problem faced by animals in the area is climate change. Increased drought conditions in the western part of South Africa has had a direct impact on many different species including forest shrews and roan antelope. Many families who have previously raised livestock and crops have had their way of life threatened by the water shortage and shorter growing season.
Learn About Animals in South Africa
One way that Wild Ark hopes to help protect South Africa’s biodiversity is through introducing people to animals in their natural habitats. They offer several courses such as bushwalking, photography and ecotracking. It is the hope of Mark Hutchinson and others working with him that when people encounter wildlife naturally that they will care more about what happens to these animals. Participants in these specially designed courses often have their own personal boundaries challenged as they sleep out under the stars, carry very few provisions and learn to live on much less than they originally thought necessary.