National Geographic
Menu

Leon Marshall

of Environmental Journalist, News Watch South African Contributor

Nat Geo News Watch contributing editor Leon Marshall is an environmental writer in South Africa. A leading political journalist and executive editor for Africa’s largest newspaper group for years, he has won several awards, including a 2004 Reuters-IUCN Media Award for Excellence in Environmental Reporting. Leon has covered climate change from a global and African perspective, having attended conferences on the issue in many parts of the world. He has written extensively on the ambitious transfrontier-parks program of the sub-continent and is now writing a book on the subject.

Old African Fortress Inspires New Deal

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.

Kruger Park to Move 500 Rhinos to Save Species from Extermination

As the world’s largest rhino population plunges to tipping point under relentless pressure of poaching for the animal’s horn, the South African Government has directed that 500 of the charismatic mega-mammals be repositioned into places where they can be protected.

Nelson Mandela and the Power of Forgiveness

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…

South Africa Regroups in War on Rhino Horn Poachers

Relentless poaching is threatening to claim more rhinos in South Africa this year than ever before. But there is hope that a comprehensive strategy to fight the criminals could start reversing the sickening trend.

Worsening Rhino war Strains Countries’ Relations




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 not doing more to clamp down on the poachers and the rhino-horn smugglers on their side of the boundary.

Record 618 South African Rhinos Poached for Horns in 2012, so far

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.…

Shellfish Poaching Fuels Illicit Economy in South Africa

The tough shellfish known as abalone is highly prized as a delicacy in the Far East, where it is fetches excessive prices. Poachers picking abalone off the rocky shallows of South Africa’s southern coast have become brazen, plying their illegal trade in open view in daylight. Is the abalone trade fueling its own economy through corruption and big spending by the poachers?

Is Tourism Good for South Africa’s Great White Sharks?

Shark cage-diving has become big business in South Africa, luring visitors from all parts of the world. Conservationists say that the tourism could be good for the overall image people have of sharks, and the ecosystems the predators need to survive.

Record 443 Rhinos Killed by Poachers in South Africa in 2011

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, for even as the year drew to a close, reports kept coming in of more dead rhinos found with gruesome wounds or just stumps left where their horns had been.

Durban Plan for Climate Treaty Greeted With Mixed Feelings

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,…

African Penguin Colony at the Edge of Extinction

A colony of African penguins living and breeding on a small island off the southern tip of Africa is fighting an increasingly desperate battle for survival.

Durban Climate Talks to Aim for Pragmatic Results

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 African Nations Sign Up for Conservation Zone the Size of California

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.

South African Court Jails Rhino Horn Smugglers

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 harvest rhino horns through a legal loophole.

South Africa’s Rhino Slaughter Rages on

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 last year.