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Posts tagged “Namibia

ENDANGERED SPECIES FRIDAY | EQUUS FERUS CABALLUS | WILD HORSES OF NAMIBIA.

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ENDANGERED SPECIES FRIDAY | EQUUS FERUS CABALLUS

This Fridays Endangered Species Post focuses on a sub species of the E. ferus that inhabits the plains of Namibia, Africa. Image: Klein-Aus Vista – E. F. Caballus.

The species (E. ferus) I believe was identified by Professor Carl Von Linnaeus back in 1758 of which identified quite a large number of horses to be precise, however the E. F. Caballus originates from around 1915. Carl Linnaeus born (23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778), also known after his ennoblement as Carl von Linné was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who formalised the modern system of naming organisms called binomial nomenclature. He is known by the epithet “father of modern taxonomy”. Many of his writings were in Latin, and his name is rendered in Latin as Carolus Linnæus (after 1761 Carolus a Linné).

E. F. Caballus isn’t listed on the IUCN Red List that I myself can locate (although is endangered). From 1965 the species was listed as (incredibly rare). Then ‘sketchy reports’ state from 1986 to 1996 the species went completely extinct within the wild, there is no evidence to back this claim up though.

From 2008 the species was ‘allegedly’ re-discovered and listed as critically endangered (although as explained there is no criteria on the IUCN Red List relating to this sub-species). Come 2011 populations had somewhat increased slightly placing the species in the band of endangered?. The criteria relating to extinction I am currently looking into as I believe this report ‘could be incorrect’. There is certainly some image evidence (although not proven) that shows a species ‘identical to the Namibian horse’ during the so called extinction period from 1986-1996. However the sub-species has been reported on since the 1940’s.

From what I know the species is a rare feral desert horse of which populations are believed to be near extinction level. Populations are estimated to be between 90-160 mature individuals. Namibia wild horses generally lead healthy life’s although during times of extreme drought (during the summer months) is when the species is normally reported to be struggling, with a number of deaths reported annually.

The origin of the Namib desert horse is unclear, though several theories have been put forward. Genetic tests have been performed, although none to date have completely verified their origin. The most likely ancestors of the horses are a mix of riding horses and cavalry horses, many from German breeding programs, released from various farms and camps in the early 20th century, especially during World War I. Whatever their origin, the horses eventually congregated in the Garub Plains, near Aus, Namibia, the location of a man-made water source.

During the 1980’s the species was virtually eradicated because locals disliked the horses trampling and eating their crops. Fortunately up until the 1980′ the species has lived a virtually hassle free life. Humans rarely if at all bother them, and there is no evidence to prove the species is under threat from hunters, or the African medicine/animal parts trade. Furthermore there doesn’t appear to be any evidence of poaching neither which is good.

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Image: Namibia desert horse and foal. 

Namibian wild horses host a number of ‘wild predator threats’ though such as hyenas, blacked backed jackals, and leopards too. Young horses (foals) are normally taken by predators, however adults rarely aren’t.

The harsh environmental conditions in which they live are the main driver of mortality among the Namib desert horse, as they cause dehydration, malnutrition, exhaustion and lameness. Other large plains animals, including the mountain zebra, may have once sporadically utilized the area for grazing during periods of excess rainfall, but human interference (including fencing off portions of land and hunting) have eliminated or significantly reduced the movement of these animals in the area.

The endangered Hartmann’s mountain zebra does exist in the Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park portion of the Namib-Naukluft Park, but their range does not intersect with that of the Namib Desert Horse.

SOURCE: HORSE JUNCTION.

From what I know there is no evidence of wild horses inhabiting anywhere within ‘Southern Africa’, so the theory is these horses may have been imported by the Germans during the last World War, of which after the war the horses were eventually set free to do as they please. While there are numerous speculations and stories – we’ll never truly know where these horses have originated from. Furthermore due to interbreeding genetic testing has proven to be somewhat of a failure too in establishing the true origins of these magnificent beasts.

SOURCE HORSES AND GHOST TOWN CNN.

A further theory although not proven touches on a large vessel carrying thoroughbreds to Australia that unfortunately wreaked near the Orange River. On breaking up the strongest horses are ‘believed’ to have swam ashore to the Garub Plains, the home of the Namib Desert Horse, near Aus, Namibia. As explained though to date there is still no evidence to prove where these horses originated from, moreover all theories haven’t a single scrap of evidence to back such claims up.

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Image: Namibia wild horses drinking at water hole. 

One of the biggest threats that could today threaten the wild horses of Namibia is that of water shortages. For now we know the horses normally occupy areas where there is sufficient water holes, large man-made or natural lakes. With drought and climate change becoming more problematic within many Southern African countries its likely we ‘could see species extinction occur in as little as five to ten years’.

All the wild horses in the world, with the exception of a single population, originate from domestic stock. Horses were domesticated on the Eurasian steppes 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, and have been in service to humankind ever since. It was on the horse’s back that civilization advanced. Countries were explored, wars were fought, agriculture and industry progressed at the expense of the horse’s freedom.

The only horse population that was never domesticated, and still exists in its true genetic form, is Przewalski’s Horse or the Mongolian Wild Horse. So extinction could occur very soon simply because the Namibia wild horse’s natural born living instincts haven’t really adapted to the extreme wilds of Africa hence why they are commonly located around man-made or natural water sources, and human settlements?

It was reported this year back in April that drought has been responsible for many species of animals dying due to lack of water and available fresh food sources which has prompted the Namibia Wild Horses Foundation (NWHF) to appeal for funds or good quality grass during this more severe period to see the horses through the winter. NWHF was established in 2012 to monitor the well−being of the horses and to marshal funds for buying feed when the need arises during the drier cycles.

Back in April (2016) the (NWHF) stated there is little grass in the horses’ range as the drought has severely affected the central and southern parts of the country. “The foundation fears that without rain there will be virtually no grass left by the onset of winter and as the horses’ condition further deteriorates, numbers will begin to drop dramatically,” the statement reads. Spring is also now approaching Africa of which we may see further prolonged droughts, and even more deaths.

The foundation also expressed gratitude for all generous contributions for the horses during the past six months. This, it said, has provided supplementary feed – a quarter to a third of the horses’ nutritional requirements — in the form of grass and lucern and protein licks, and will sustain the herd until the beginning of June when the next phase will need to be implemented to ensure their survival; (this period is now over and donations are greatly needed to keep these horses alive). If you’d like to donate to the (NWFH) please click the donate button here: DONATE.

Concerning: The April report also highlighted that some 100 ‘old horses and some fouls’ had sadly perished since the beginning of the drought, which to date leaves exactly 160 mature individuals remaining within the desert of Namibia.

Donations to buy grass or lucern for the horses can be made to Namibia Wild Horses Foundation, First National Bank, current account 62246659489 Klein Windhoek branch ( code 281479) and swift FIRNNANX.

The future is uncertain for the species, in my humble opinion I doubt these horses are going to be inhabiting the desert much longer due to the harsh impacts of climate change increasing every year on the African continent. Furthermore due to the species not really having any ‘natural wild instincts from their ancestors’ they’ll continue to rely on humans just to stay alive. If you’d like to help the species please do so via contacting the Namibian Non-Governmental-Organisation above and donate what you can. Alternatively you can I believe volunteer to help preserve Africa’s only wild horse populations known.

Thank you for reading. 

Dr Jose C. Depre PhD. MEnvSc. BSc(Hons) Botany, PhD(NeuroSci) D.V.M.

Master of Environmental, Botanical & Human Science. 

  

 

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WHY ARE WE STILL HUNTING RHINOS FOR | WHEN NO AMOUNT OF FUNDING HAS REDUCED POACHING?

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WHY ARE WE STILL HUNTING RHINO?

Why are foreign and native Africans still trophy hunting Rhinoceros for, when no amount of funding generated from these hunts has actively decreased poaching? Image credit: (Mrs Janice Hull, Limcroma South Africa).

Over five years ago I and a group of dangerous game hunters (DGH’s) were involved within a heated debate relating to the money allegedly generated from rhino hunting. The question I asked (and continue to ask) was: “Why are we still hunting rhino for when the money generated from these hunts doesn’t appear to be having any affect whatsoever on decreasing rhino poaching or increasing conservation efforts and security for African rhinos”? (Image above: Hunter – American Janice Hull).

The answer[s] I received were mixed opinions, abuse, and lies. I aimed this question at a number of professional hunters – (PH’s) working in South Africa, and Namibia most of which were American. While the vast majority of dangerous game hunters stated money raised from hunts was directed back into rhino conservation, I’m still after five years questioning where this money is actually going because rhino poaching is not decreasing whatsoever?

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Image Credit: Trophy hunter Mr Loddie Naymola

Since 2008 poachers have slaughtered a staggering 5,940 Rhinoceros – most of which have been poached within South Africa’s flagship park identified as the Kruger National Park. From the year of 2007 rhino poaching figures began increasing rapidly. A total of 13 rhino were bludgeoned to death in 2007. Meanwhile in 2009 South Africa lost a further 122 rhinos (due to poaching).

However come 2011 we really began to see poaching figures rise, come the end of December 2011 a whopping 448 rhinos had been slaughtered by poachers to fuel the Asian demand for pseudo rhino horn medicine. Come 2013 figures shot through the roof resulting in some 1,003 rhinos poached stated the Department of Environmental Affairs come 2013 December end. Then the largest stats were reported back in 2014 of which South Africa lost some 1,215 Rhinoceros to poachers. Yet ‘hunting revenue is preserving our ionic species’?.

Unfortunately at some point from 2014-2016 the Department of Environmental Affairs Minster Honorable Edna Molewa placed a complete ban on the public reporting of any rhino poaching figures, there was no reason as to why this ban was implemented, of which to date still remains in place. Coincidentally (2015’s poaching statistics) had decreased somewhat – of which come December 2015 some 1,175 rhinos had ‘allegedly been poached’. Isn’t that coincidental, a blanket ban on poaching figures is ordered, then come the next year a decrease is seen!.

SOURCE: POACHING STATISTICS.

The SOUTH AFRICAN DEFENCE WEB stated back in January 2016 that a ‘lack of rhino poaching information was negatively affecting anti poaching’. However despite the governmental blackout on rhino poaching incidents numerous organisations such as ‘Stop Rhino Poaching  and ‘Outraged South African Citizens against Poaching’ had reported via media, press and anti poaching reports a small rhino poaching decline.

However both of these organisations didn’t obtain their reports from the government, or did they?. So last years poaching stats could indeed be higher than what has been stated in the public domain. Furthermore both Facebook/Online groups/NGO’s share there statistics openly. So in all honesty there is no evidence whatsoever to prove a poaching decline from 2015 has occurred. Moreover and as explained – I myself find it awfully suspicious that since the 2015 poaching report blackout by the South African government – poaching stats just coincidentally decrease like that?.

Elise Daffue whom ‘allegedly runs some form of rhino intelligence group’ (on Facebook – identified as Stop Rhino Poaching), and not in the actual field, stated: “The drop in kills is testimony to the huge effort being made on the enforcement side. Environment Asset Protection strategies have been formulated and implemented over the past three years, guiding the strategic and operational plans nationally – from the ranger in the bush who detects the spoor to the prosecutor who fights that bail is denied. Keeping the numbers down depends entirely on good field work and reserve security, good investigations and good convictions”

While Elise Daffue has stated there was a drop in rhino poaching due to a “huge effort being made on the enforcement side” there remains no evidence whatsoever proving there has been a decline in rhino poaching from 2014-2015. Moreover if there is evidence where has this data come from?. Furthermore whenever we see hunters and ‘animal lovers mingling together’, regardless of what you state your organisation is and does – alarm bells begin ringing, especially coming close to the next CoP summit.

The Founder of Stop Rhino Poaching is friends with a hunter identified as Gustav Collins who runs the Mattaniah Game Reserve Furthermore Elise Daffue is also associated with the individual known as Simon James Naylor who is the Conservation Manager for Phinda Private Game Reserve of which has connections to various hunting organisations and the (WWF) that supports sustainable hunting of Rhinoceros within South Africa and Namibia. Finally (among many others) we have Mr Mark Lautenbach who works as a Specialist Freelance Guide at Ukuthula Lodge. Elise Daffue founder of Stop Rhino Poaching is also friends with a Department of Environmental Affairs worker, and numerous other governmental bodies, police and hunters.

While the above details may not seem overly important, when we’re trying to locate data on hunting statistics, money generated from these activities and more, suspicions are raised when we locate so called professional organisations that are connected to numerous hunting organisations; and institutions such as ‘petting farms’ I.e Ukutala Lodge that has connections with the canned hunting industry and, has featured in a (Blood Lion documentary).

So as one can see it all becomes rather confusing when all we want is upfront and honest answers, however when we ask questions and later find out there are numerous connections to the hunting and possibly ‘pseudo hunting trade’ will we even obtain a serious, straightforward and honest answer? When we’re lied to by hunters, how can we possibly trust Non-Governmental Organisations that are aligned to the very people whom are lying, and are hunting our rhinos while pretending to be so called conservationists? Moreover we (the organisation) do not believe there has been any decline whatsoever relating to rhino poaching. We do though believe that this so called ‘decline may be playing a role in this months CoP17 Summit’ relating to rhino horn legislation. 

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Image Credit: European trophy hunter, Mr Dennis Schemmel

Back in July 2016 it was reported that Rhinoceros poaching was finally without a doubt at ‘tipping point’. South Africa has seen the largest poaching rates recorded at some 72% from 2011-2015. Namibia recorded a loss of 10.8% from 2012-2015. Zimbabwe recorded a loss of 3.1% from 2012-2015. Kenya has recorded a loss of 4.4% from 2012-2015. Finally ‘other African range states mainly in Central Africa’ recorded a loss of 2.5% from 2012-2015.

While its been reported that some 25,000 Rhinoceros remain on the African continent – a depressing near six thousand have been poached all over the continent from 2012-2015. Yet hunting revenue from one of Africa’s most expensive game animals is allegedly reducing poaching? How is this possible, when we’ve lost so many rhinos, and reports from the Global Initiative have confirmed ‘rhinos are at tipping point’.?  Furthermore how can the hunting community continue to state that revenue from rhino hunting is helping to secure the rhinos future when 1. It clearly isn’t due to poaching statistics increasing, and 2. The majority of hunters today are now supporting an international rhino horn trade ban lift?

The Global Initiative stated: “Dozens more rhino have been shot in so-called “pseudo-hunts”. Across Europe, castles and museums have been raided by criminal gangs in search of rhino horn trophies. And in the United States, businessmen, antique dealers – even a former rodeo star and a university professor – have been implicated in the illicit trade”. Driven by seemingly insatiable demand in Southeast Asia and China, rhino horn has become a black market commodity rivalling gold and platinum in value.

SOURCE: GLOBAL INITIATIVE.

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Image: Female rhino hunter, origin of hunter unknown and name. South Africa?

To date there has been very little forthcoming information in relation to revenue generated from African rhino hunts, and where exactly this hunting money is going. Furthermore with rhino poaching still increasing, and tipping points now recorded by ‘various trusted organisations’ the question must now be raised why are we still hunting Rhinoceros?

From the 1940’s tiger hunting was common among many international and local tourists in India. However so too was tiger poaching. It was alleged that revenue from tiger hunting was actually helping to preserve the tiger species and other mammals too. Unfortunately this turned out to be complete codswallop. Then in 1973, the Indian government finally under the orders of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi banned tiger hunting due to so many tigers being poached – and legally hunted at the same time. Had Prime Minister Indira Gandhi not instigated ‘Project Tiger’, the tiger would have gone extinct way back in the 1970’s.

SOURCE: PROJECT TIGER.

In the last 50 years the tiger population in Asia has plummeted from 100,000 to about 5,000. The number of tigers is dangerously low, and the conservation of the world’s remaining tigers is of global concern. Now, in this volume, 40 world authorities on tigers from Asia, Europe, and North America have summarized and identified the management, conservation, and research needs for this endangered species. Before Project Tiger was implemented tiger populations were being hammered. The same identical hunting and poaching behavior before Project Tiger can now be witnessed in Africa – primarily in South Africa where rhinos are also being hammered both by hunters, poachers and pseudo hunters. Does that ring alarm bells among the many FAKE NGO’S out there?

International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa undertook various searches relating to rhino hunting and revenue generated from these hunts within South Africa. What we found was from 2005-2015 a total of 330 ‘White Rhinoceros’ had been legally hunted from 2005-2015. The minimum hunting price was exactly $50,000(USD). While the maximum hunting price was exactly $150,000(USD). It was found that from 2005-2015 and based on the assumption these were (white rhino hunts only) and, taking into consideration the minimum price first. Revenue generated from rhino hunting at the price of $50,000(USD) resulted in an estimated total $181,500,000 million – that’s $181 million(USD) raised from hunting. Meanwhile, and taking into consideration the highest price (being $150,000(USD) a total of $554,500,000 million was generated.

While we cannot place these two equations together and provide a factual sum because we don’t know how many rhinos were legally hunted at each individual price, the sheer fact that millions of dollars has been generated from 2005-2015 should be enough to explain that something isn’t quite right here. Furthermore these figures are based on the assumption these were white rhino hunts,

MINIMUM HUNTING PRICE: 2005-2015 = $181,500,000 million(USD)

MAXIMUM HUNTING PRICE: 2005-2015 = $554,500,000 million(USD)

SOURCE: HUNTING REVENUE.

SOURCE: REPORT TROPHY HUNTING.

To date (and as you can see within the sourced links above) there still hasn’t been a single reliable report that confirms just how much money is being made from trophy hunting in South Africa. The only so called reliable report (which is about as reliable as a chocolate teapot) and, being the only report to surface thus far stated that $200 million(USD) was generated from the years of 2010-2011 (in regards to all South African trophy hunts)? Who number crunched these figures, who even dared to come up with such an absurd low revenue income? I would also like to remind hunting organisations, just because you don’t have to tell us what you’re making, we can contact other organisations/institutions, locate prices, we can phone and email. Eventually we’ll find the truth!

Now either our expert eyes and our mathematical friends are missing something here, or journalists media and the pro trade lobby are forgetting that despite hunting revenue being made pubic. Environmental Scientists can research CITES trophy hunting statistics, then locate the common maximum and minimum price, and the number of rhino trophy heads exported/imported. So as one can read above just from the years of (2005-2015 – millions was made just from Rhinoceros hunting). Moreover who ever came up with the 2010-2011 sum of $200 million USD clearly is missing a lot of money off here, and needs to undertake a mathematical course too?

Rhinoceros hunting is by far the biggest money maker within the hunting business (most of this money is made in South Africa which hosts the largest rhino populations on the planet). Furthermore it just seems too coincidental that from 2010-2011 literally every hunting organisation that’s promoting/advertising rhino hunts has mysteriously removed their prices.

Trophy hunting of rhino is strictly regulated. Every year a total of five (black rhino) can legally be hunted within each of Namibia and South Africa, which totals to a maximum of (ten) per year – five per country. Furthermore in South Africa and Namibia one white rhino can be hunted by one hunter per year – that’s one rhino per hunter every year. Unfortunately there remains no further hunting revenue and data from the years of 2014. Its been estimated by the National Geographic based on the United States Fish and Wildlife report that the United States imported a total of 328 white rhino trophies from South Africa from the years of 2005-2014. Meanwhile a total of 7 white rhino were hunted and subsequently imported to the United States from Namibia from the years of 2005-2014.

SOURCE: NAT GEO HUNTING DATA.

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Image Credit: Rhino hunter Alexander Tseytlin

Black rhino hunts have provoked much controversy over the past five years mainly because black rhinos are actually listed as (critically endangered), hence why only five black rhinos can be hunted per year in South Africa and Namibia. Since 1996-2011 the species has been listed as near extinct on the International Union for the Conservation of Natures Red List. Fortunately due to ‘private farming conservation efforts (not wild efforts) the species has allegedly and gradually increased (primarily due to hunting?)’. Both private and wild populations are believed to be increasing within South Africa and Namibia placing the total species population count from 2010 at 4,880 black rhinos.

SOURCE: IUCN BLACK RHINO.

The only reports that we ourselves can offer in regards to black rhino trophy is that of media and press reports that have documented on large scale bidding for black rhino hunts. In January 2014, Corey Knowlton bid $350,000 for a permit to hunt and kill a black rhino in Namibia (Source: Corey Knowlton). Back in June 2016 Namibia offered up three of its black rhinos to trophy hunters. While the price has not been documented its most likely be in the region of just over $1 million(USD) for the three Black Rhinoceros (Source: Namibia black rhino hunt).

Meanwhile back in 1996 a game rancher named John Hume paid about $200,000 for three pairs of endangered black rhinos from the wildlife department of the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. Among them was a male who would come to be called “Number 65,” and whose death would play a central role in the debate about conservation.

When the black rhino bull arrived, Hume’s farm manager — a burly Zimbabwean named Geoff York whose typical mode of dress is army boots and a pair of purple shorts — tranquilized him, clipped two notches in his left ear and two in the right, and gave him a number: 65. Mr John Hume later picked Mr Peter Thormahlen to organize the killing of ‘number 65’. The price was set at a $25,000 deposit on a $150,000 fee for a seven-day hunt.

Most of that would go to John Hume – the very man that is today advocating for an international legalized trade in rhino horn and has connections to a wide number of organisations such as, WWF, IUCN, CITES, The Department of Environmental Affairs and numerous other figures. Then on July 23rd 2005 Thormahlen and his client with John Hume tagging along proceeded on foot. Suddenly the rhino noticed them and rose from the dirt. The client pulled the trigger, and the first bullet pierced Number 65’s skull. The rhino, still standing, turned. A second bullet hit, and the rhino dropped dead. (Source: John Hume Rhino Hunt).

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Source: The Sacrifice, please click the source tag for more info

As you can read there is a staggering amount of money parting hands to hunt both black and white rhino. Yet poaching is still skyrocketing? South Africa has lost from 2008 almost 6,000 rhinos to poachers. Back in 2014 Namibia lost a total of 24 rhinos to poaching, then come 2015 a whopping 60 rhinos were poached. (Source: Poaching stats Namibia).

So the question still remains just what exactly is all this money going towards, can each professional hunting organisation prove to me, my organisation and the public that the money generated from rhino hunting is indeed being used to fund anti poaching operations, security, conservation, education, awareness and horn poisoning? (Etc).

While I’ve been extremely silent on this issue too since 2011 I’m going to make it pubic now. I dislike the fact that a ‘prominent South African game hunter’ is involved with the Rhino Orphanage. Back in 2011 we (the organisation) were going to submit funding for scales and equipment, however when running a trace on whom ran the main website, down to a trace on that individuals Facebook page, and more we later discovered a ‘silent partner’ that is hunting many of the big five..

..So who do we trust when it comes to facts and figures? How can we trust anyone that is stating hunting is indeed increasing rhino numbers when literally every individual and organisation are in someway aligned to one another in South Africa and over the borders? Can the Rhino Orphanage and its ‘affiliate’s’ also prove that every single rhino that’s been saved has been released back into a reserve, and not hunted for sport that clearly from this entire document has proved – no amount of hunting whatsoever is increasing rhino populations!

Hunting operations are indeed expensive. While the price of a hunt may indeed seem high. One also has to take into consideration what the farmer and/or professional hunter has to pay for too. Upkeep of land, maintenance of vehicles and buildings, fuel, service charges for gas, electricity, water, and rent Etc, food and beverages for the visiting hunters, guest house uses, damages to guest houses, travel, firearms (among many other bills). Then of course comes anti poaching being the last bill. Some of this expense can be viewed below.

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Image: Hunting Charges (Source: IFAW)

While we know that Rhinoceros trophy hunting is indeed expensive, poaching is unfortunately still increasing in various African countries, please do check the sourced links out above, and read that data carefully. The image above with source proves that no big five farmer is taking every single dollar or euro that’s advertises rhino hunting on their site or allows rhino hunting on their property.

So the question remains why are we still hunting rhino for? The question I’ve answered. Rhino hunting is nothing more than a overpaid sport that does nothing whatsoever for conservation and, is not under any circumstances whatsoever contributing to decreasing poaching. All these millions if not billions being made yet here we are still seeing rhinos poached. Finally, and the very best question of them all. If hunting revenue from rhino hunts is not decreasing poaching, how the hell is a so called sustainable rhino horn trade going to decrease poaching? Same money – same prices – going nowhere!

Thank you for reading. 

Dr Jose C. Depre PhD. MEnvSc. BSc(Hons) Botany, PhD(NeuroSci) D.V.M.

Master of Environmental, Botanical & Human Science. 

Environmental, Botanical and Human Scientist.