Giraffes helped by photographers


This video is called Niger‘s Endangered White Giraffes (Full Documentary).

From Wildlife Extra:

Citizen science project launched to help the world’s giraffes

The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) with the support of the Polytechnic of Namibia has launched a project to develop an online citizen science platform for giraffes.

GiraffeSpotter.org is an easy to use web-based application that allows people to upload their photos of giraffes they have seen, together with the location where the image was taken and any other valuable information they can supply to help in conservation efforts, such as herd size, sex and age class of the giraffe.

With the help of GiraffeSpotter.org, GCF will be able to improve its understanding of giraffe ranges, distribution, numbers and ultimately the various species of giraffes’ conservation status across Africa.

At the same time, the charity hopes that the project will also engage people and raise awareness of the plight of giraffes in the wild.

North and South African vultures


This video from South Africa is called Lappet-faced, White-backed and White-headed Vultures.

From North African Birds blog today:

Eight vulture species live or have lived in the three Maghreb countries (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia), here is their complete list sorted according to their taxonomic positions. Of these eight species, 3 still breed in the region (Bearded Vulture, Egyptian Vulture and Griffon Vulture), 2 are former breeders and now extinct from the region (Cinereous Vulture and Lappet-faced Vulture), and finally 3 are accidental visitors from sub-Saharan Africa (Hooded Vulture, White-backed Vulture and Rüppell’s Vulture).

The total number of species in the list of each country: 6 species for Algeria, 8 species for Morocco and 4 species for Tunisia.

The species that still breed in each country are as follow: Algeria (Egyptian Vulture & Griffon Vulture), Morocco (Bearded Vulture & Egyptian Vulture) and Tunisia (Egyptian Vulture).

International Vulture Awareness Day, 6 September


This video says about itself:

International Vulture Awareness Day, 2011, Kenya

Kenya celebrates the International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD) by showing the diversity of species, illustrating their critical role in the environment and focusing on their main cause for their widespread decline, poisoning with pesticides.

Dr Richard Leakey makes a personal statement regarding his own experience in witnessing the decline of vultures and highlights the need for governments to tackle poisoning issues seriously, otherwise the future of vultures is certain. IVAD is a global event with awareness campaigns in the Americas, throughout Africa, Europe, Asia and the far East. Vultures have declined as much as 95% over South Asia and India because of the side-effect of diclophenac, a pharmaceutical drug meant to relieve pain in livestock.

Wind turbines and electricity lines are proving to be another serious hazard for vultures all over the world. Habitat removal and disturbance also play major roles in their declines. Vultures are one of the most beneficial animals due to their “clean-up” work and removing carcasses that would otherwise rot and encourage disease. In Kenya vultures play a vital role in not only wildlife health but in the pastoral livestock rearing lands and in community public health. Join us in celebrating the vulture!

Saturday 6 September is not only World Shorebirds Day. It is also International Vulture Awareness Day.

From North African Birds blog today:

Looking at the International Vulture Awareness Day website, we can see that two regional organisations are celebrating the event this weekend (open the link and search, Algeria, Morocco, Libya and Tunisia and see for yourself):

- The Association “Les Amis des Oiseaux” (AAO) – BirdLife in Tunisia, and

- GREPOM BirdLife Morocco

The country with more vultures than the others, Algeria, is not participating (so far).

Vultures in Africa and Europe could face extinction within our lifetime warn conservationists: here.

African penguin language, new research, videos


This video is called African Penguins go for a swim – Mountain of the Sea – BBC.

From Salon.com:

Thursday, July 31, 2014 05:12 PM +0200

How to talk to African penguins, in 6 simple videos

Researchers identified distinct calls used to express loneliness, anger, hunger and ecstasy

Lindsay Abrams

After 104 days of careful observation, researchers at the University of Turin, in Italy, think they’ve finally figured out what African penguins are “talking” about. Based on the sounds and behaviors of a colony of 48 captive penguins at the Zoom Torino zoo, the team identified six distinct vocalizations used by adults and juveniles to express just about everything that needs saying: from loneliness, to anger, to mutually experienced ecstasy.

“Vocal communication allows us to understand the many different aspects of the biology of this species,” lead author Livio Favaro explained to the Guardian. “Penguins have less sophisticated vocal mechanisms compared to song birds, but they have very sophisticated mechanisms to encode information in songs.”

The findings, written up in the journal PLOS ONE, are accompanied by a set of videos illustrating the calls. Watch them a few times, and you, too, can become fluent in the endangered species‘ language.

Contact calls are emitted by individual penguins when out of sight from their colony or partner:

The agonistic call is often emitted during fights or as a warning for other penguins to stay away. The birds stand up and stretch their necks out toward the target of their aggression:

In the ecstatic display song, the longest and loudest of African penguin calls, the birds spread their feet, stretch their neck and face upward and hold their wings out horizontally to advertise their availability to potential mates. It kind of sounds like a donkey, the researchers note, which is how the African penguin earned the nickname “jackass”:

The mutual ecstatic song is sung when mates finally get together. Partners, the researchers observed, “often emitted this call simultaneously, overlapping in a duet” — and are known to make the sound when others attempt to intrude on their twosome:

Begging moans, a newly described call, are only emitted by juveniles, and only until they’re either fed, or their parents go away:

The youngest of penguins, those under 3 months old, will emit long series of these high-pitched begging peeps for minutes on end until their parents regurgitate some food for them:

All penguin species are continuing to be at risk from habitat degradation and loss a new study finds: here.

Bahamas, built by bacteria from Saharan dust?


This video says about itself:

Wildlife of Exuma Island, Bahamas – Lonely Planet travel video

Visitors to sparsely populated Exuma, a remote island in the Bahamas, can expect a close encounter with sharks and iguanas.

From New Scientist:

Bahamian paradise built by bacteria using Saharan dust

13:40 28 July 2014 by Flora Graham

The Bahamas may have been created by bacteria thriving on minerals in dust from the Sahara desert, 8000 kilometres away.

In this NASA satellite image from 2009, it is possible to see how the many islands of the Bahamas are actually the highest points of distinct areas where the sea is shallow and turquoise.

These turquoise waters mark the top of the Bahama Banks – underwater columns of coral reef limestone more than 4500 metres tall that have formed over the past 100 million years. It was thought that tiny plants and animals generate the vast amounts of carbonate that make up the towers, similar to how coral reefs are formed. But the surrounding sea is poor in nutrients, so what would have sustained them is a mystery.

Now researchers including Peter Swart from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Florida are showing that photosynthetic cyanobacteria may actually have done much of the construction.

Cyanobacteria are involved in the precipitation of calcium carbonate in the sea, but they would have needed an enormous amount of iron to do their work. This could have been provided by the dust that blows across the Atlantic from the Sahara.

There are characteristic traces of iron and manganese in recent carbonate sediment on the banks, pointing to their Saharan origin. So the team suggests that the Bahama Banks are being built up by cyanobacteria and may also have been in the past.

The results of this research are here.