Stories from the field

Author Jesse Baltutis

Jesse Baltutis – Blog 4: Water in the Sky: An Exploration of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project Phase 2

This is the final in-country blog I will write from my field research in Southern Africa. The blog is a reflection of the field research I conducted in Lesotho – a land-locked mountaneous country set entirely within the borders of South Africa. Known as the Mountain Kingdom, Lesotho’s vast mountains and sweeping valleys are breathtaking in their beauty and isolation. Yet, the country faces incredible developmental challenges, including one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the world. My blog looks at the next iternation of the multi-year, multi-billion dollar international water transfer project known as the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, the largest of its kind in the world.  

Jesse Baltutis – Blog 3: The last stand for Africa’s Elephant and Rhino populations?

This blog explores the issue of illegal elephant and rhino poaching across Africa. Though the topic diverges from the issue I’ve come to South Africa to research, it is one that touches on the very nerve of wildlife conservation, not only in South Africa, but across the continent. It is a story fueled by demands from distant markets, far removed from the devastation wrought at the local level. Poverty, corruption, greed, and ignorance grease the wheels of the illegal international trade in elephant and rhino ivory. South Africa is uniquely situated as one of the last strongholds for rhino populations in Africa, and a major export destination for much of the illegal ivory from both elephants and rhinos leaving the African continent.

The decision to focus the second of my in-country podcasts on this issue was due to a chance encounter with Nick, an individual who works for TRAFFIC’s South Africa office. Having been immersed in researching water issues since my arrival in Pretoria, I was deeply moved by the conversation I had with Nick and the chance to focus my search (albiet briefly) on another issue of critical importance to the African continent. Though water and ivory are two vastly different subjects, they both are facing unprecedented pressure from forces often outside the control of where impacts are felt the most- at the local level. Focusing my podcast on the illegal trade in ivory allowed me the opportunity to gain some knowledge and insight into an issue that is critical to not only South Africa but the entire African continent, and deepen my understanding of ongoing efforts to address this critical issue.

 Much of the information used in this podcast is derived from the TRAFFIC reports, “Illegal Trade in Ivory and Rhino Horn” (2014), and  “Setting Suns: The Historical Decline of Ivory and Rhino Horn Markets in Japan” (2016), as well as information from the TRAFFIC website. The documents can be accessed at: I urge anyone interested in this issue to explore the website of TRAFFIC and some of its partner organizations.

Jesse Baltutis – Blog 2: Droughts and food production in South Africa

Jesse Baltutis

April 17th, 2016

Pretoria, South Africa

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

Droughts and food production in South Africa

This is Jesse Baltutis, CAPI intern and PhD candidate at the University of Victoria’s Department of Geography. Im currently in Pretoria, South Africa, while on placement for my Crossing Borders Scholarship and conducting my doctoral research on water governance in international river basins. This podcast – the first from the field – will explore the issue of the ongoing drought and the implications for food and water security for South Africa. 

Jesse Baltutis – Blog 1: Pre-departure interview with Cate

This podcast includes a discussion with outgoing Crossing Borders scholar, Jesse Baltutis.

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