From eNature.com in the USA:
They once roamed wide swaths of Africa. Now they’re making a last stand. And you can help them survive.
From eNature.com in the USA:
They once roamed wide swaths of Africa. Now they’re making a last stand. And you can help them survive.
This video is called African Penguins go for a swim – Mountain of the Sea – BBC.
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
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.
This video is called WHO says Ebola outbreak is out of control.
From daily The Independent in Britain:
Ebola outbreak: Western drugs firms have not tried to find vaccine ‘because virus only affects Africans’, says UK’s top public health doctor
Professor John Ashton accuses pharmaceutical industry of ‘moral bankruptcy’
Jane Merrick, political editor
Sunday 03 August 2014
Britain’s leading public health doctor today blames the failure to find a vaccine against the Ebola virus on the “moral bankruptcy” of the pharmaceutical industry to invest in a disease because it has so far only affected people in Africa – despite hundreds of deaths.
Professor John Ashton, the president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, says the West needs to treat the deadly virus as if it were taking hold in the wealthiest parts of London rather than just Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. Writing in The Independent on Sunday, Professor Ashton compares the international response to Ebola to that of Aids, which was killing people in Africa for years before treatments were developed once it had spread to the US and UK in the 1980s.
He writes: “In both cases [Aids and Ebola], it seems that the involvement of powerless minority groups has contributed to a tardiness of response and a failure to mobilise an adequately resourced international medical response.
“In the case of Aids, it took years for proper research funding to be put in place and it was only when so-called ‘innocent’ groups were involved (women and children, haemophiliac patients and straight men) that the media, politicians, scientific community and funding bodies stood up and took notice.”
The Ebola outbreak has so far claimed the lives of at least 729 people across Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO), although the number is likely to be far higher.
Yesterday, a US relief organisation confirmed that two US aid workers who contracted the disease in Liberia had left the country. Dr Kent Brantly was being treated in a specialised hospital unit in Atlanta, Georgia, after becoming the first person with the disease to arrive on US soil yesterday evening. The second aid worker, Nancy Writebol, was due to land on a separate private flight.
On Friday, the WHO warned that the outbreak in West Africa was “moving faster than our efforts to control it”. The organisation’s director general, Dr Margaret Chan, warned that if the situation continued to deteriorate, the consequences would be “catastrophic” to human life. Professor Ashton believes that more money must be funnelled into research for treatment.
“We must respond to this emergency as if it was in Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster. We must also tackle the scandal of the unwillingness of the pharmaceutical industry to invest in research [on] treatments and vaccines, something they refuse to do because the numbers involved are, in their terms, so small and don’t justify the investment. This is the moral bankruptcy of capitalism acting in the absence of a moral and social framework.”
Western countries are on high alert after Patrick Sawyer, a civil servant for the Liberian government, died last week after arriving at Lagos airport – the first known case in Nigeria. International airline hubs are the focus of attention because of the high volume of passengers flying into and out of West Africa every day. Dubai’s Emirates airline began a ban yesterday on its flights in Guinea over the crisis, with the suspension lasting until further notice.
Professor Ashton welcomed the decision by the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, to convene a meeting of the Government’s crisis committee, Cobra, last week to discuss the UK’s preparedness for cases of Ebola in this country.
Development of a vaccine is in the early stages in the US, but this is on a small scale and there is little hope of one being ready to treat the current outbreak in West Africa. Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services, has said it has plans possibly to begin testing an experimental Ebola vaccine on people in mid-September, following encouraging results in pre-clinical trials on monkeys. Earlier this month, the US Food and Drug Administration put a hold on a trial upon healthy volunteers by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation to ensure their potential Ebola treatment has no ill-effects, as it sought more information to ensure the safety of volunteers.
Professor Ashton said: “The real spotlight needs to be on the poverty and environmental squalor in which epidemics thrive and the failure of political leadership and public health systems to respond effectively. The international community has to be shamed into real commitment… if the root causes of diseases like Ebola are to be addressed.”
Three of Britain’s leading Ebola specialists have said experimental treatments for the deadly Ebola virus must be offered to the people of West Africa, after two US aid workers were administered with the “cure” in Liberia. The two missionaries, Dr Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, are alive and now being cared for at a specialist isolation unit in Atlanta: here.
Investors eye profits while poor die of Ebola. The Ebola outbreak could have been contained if people had access to basic hygiene: here.
This video says about itself:
Wildlife of Exuma Island, Bahamas – Lonely Planet travel video
From New Scientist:
Bahamian paradise built by bacteria using Saharan dust
13:40 28 July 2014 by Flora Graham
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.
This video is called African Diaspora through the Americas: Slavery in Spanish America.
By Alejandro López in Spain:
24 July 2014
Government officials in Lisbon and Madrid are signaling their intention not to lag behind in the new scramble for Africa led by the United States and Europe’s main colonial powers during the twentieth century such as Britain and France.
Amid explosive social conditions in Portugal and Spain—with youth unemployment rates at 34 percent and 56 percent, respectively—both countries aim to regain influence in the Gulf of Guinea through military interventions and the use of proxy forces. Spanish and Portuguese business and military circles are seeking to profit from the region’s energy resources, while channeling social tensions in their respective countries toward militarism and war.
Last month, Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy visited Malabo, capital of the former Spanish colony Equatorial Guinea, to participate in the African Union (AU) summit. It was the first visit to Equatorial Guinea by a Spanish head of government in 23 years.
In his speech, Rajoy, the only European leader invited to the summit, promised that if Spain was elected to hold one of the non-permanent member seats in the United Nations Security Council in 2015-2016, he would assist in the “rebirth” of Africa through commerce and investment.
“We want to invest in Africa,” Rajoy said, “as we once did in Latin America.” He noted that trade between Spain and Africa has grown by 250 percent over the last 10 years and now exceeds trade between Spain and Latin America.
Rajoy reminded the African leaders of Spain’s participation in the “peacekeeping” and “humanitarian” (i.e., imperialist) wars on the African continent—in Mali, Somalia and the Central African Republic. “When an AU soldier looks at his side, he finds a Spanish soldier,” Rajoy stated, referring to the 400 Spanish troops currently deployed in five missions led by the European Union (EU) and France.
A day before Rajoy’s visit, at a joint press conference in Madrid with the secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh-Rasmussen, Spanish foreign minister Manuel García Margallo, singling out Equatorial Guinea, said that Africa “represents a continent of extraordinary importance for Spain.”
Rajoy’s visit was soon followed by Defence Minister Morenés’s remarks to the Spanish Congress. He announced that Spain, in close cooperation with Portugal, was preparing counseling and land, air and sea military training programmes in countries in the Gulf of Guinea. He said it had become necessary to take “concrete actions” in response to the growth of piracy in the area.
Morenés declared that stability and security on the southern shore of the Mediterranean were “key to the safety of Spain.” He added that addressing the “risks and threats that arise” was “a top priority for our defence.”
He referred to “large economic interests in Africa,” especially in relation to oil dependency, with 10.5 percent of Spanish oil coming from Nigeria. He also spoke of “investments in infrastructure, as well as agricultural, industrial and fishing interests.”
Morenés called for a more aggressive NATO intervention in the region, complaining of divisions among the imperialist powers over policy in the region. “Unfortunately,” he said, “neither the Spanish nor French leadership has managed to convince quite a few of our partners and allies in the EU and NATO that the southern Mediterranean, the Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea, in that order, are fully part of our immediate security environment.”
At an international conference in Lisbon, Portugal’s foreign minister, Rui Machete, said that Portugal was “on the front line” in the battle against insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea—a problem that required a concerted international response. Referring to piracy, he declared, “We must focus on preventing the phenomenon and not reacting in the aftermath, which is much more expensive and difficult.”
He added, “We can’t forget that the Gulf of Guinea is crisscrossed by important shipping routes for international trade. Imagine the devastating effect on our economies and our companies, the financial and logistical costs, of a deterioration of security in these shipping lanes.”
The Gulf of Guinea is a large gulf in the southeastern Atlantic, located on the central-west coast of Africa, bordering Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe. The importance of this region was spelled out at a meeting on foreign affairs of the Council of the European Union held in March of this year under the title “EU Strategy in the Gulf of Guinea.”
The report issued at the meeting stated: “The EU is also committed to supporting the sustainable exploitation of natural resources in the region, including hydrocarbons. Europe imports about half of its energy needs, of which nearly 10 percent of its oil and 4 percent of its natural gas come from the Gulf of Guinea.
“Nigeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon are significant suppliers of crude oil, and Nigeria of natural gas. The region’s proximity to Europe with easy sea access gives it a comparative advantage over the Middle East for our oil needs, and Europe remains a primary export market for other regional products, including forestry, agricultural and mineral resources.”
The report continued: “The region is an increasing magnet for European investment, not only in the natural resources, but in the consumer goods and services sectors, including mobile telephony. That combines with a growing importance as a potential market for exports as the region’s economic growth accelerates.”
The report cited “threats” to European interests, including terrorism, piracy, oil theft, illegal fishing and organised crime in the form of trafficking in drugs, human beings, arms, rough diamonds and counterfeit medicines. Such “threats” have repeatedly been used by the major powers as pretexts to launch imperialist wars in Africa.
Another major threat raised by the document was social discontent due to “unemployment around 40 percent, with levels of youth unemployment at over 60 percent,” “insufficient economic opportunities,” “food insecurity in the countryside,” and “rapid urban population growth…creating tensions amongst urban populations.”
The spreading civil war in the Middle East lends the Gulf of Guinea even greater strategic importance for imperialism. There is now an international competition between the United States, the former European colonial powers, China, Japan and India, all of which are looking at the African region as a safer and more reliable source of energy.
The US and Europe are trying to lessen their oil dependency on the Middle East and undermine China’s growing influence in Africa. Today, China is Africa’s biggest trading partner, with approximately US$200 billion worth of trade in goods. The US and the European powers have attempted to secure advantages over China through military interventions in Libya, Mali and the Central African Republic.
The calls by Madrid and Lisbon for stepped-up intervention comes after conferences and reports on the region by the major foreign policy think tanks of both countries. Instituto Diplomático, a think tank created by the Portuguese Foreign Ministry in 1994, recently organised an international conference titled “Security in the Gulf of Guinea.” The main lecturers included the Portuguese foreign minister, high-ranking military personnel from Portugal and Brazil, academics, and other experts on the region.
Spain’s state-financed think tank Instituto Elcano also gave high priority to regaining influence in the region in its report, “Towards a Strategic Renewal of Spanish Foreign Policy.” The report stated that Spanish foreign policy “has to elaborate an integral strategy of action in the area of Sahel, from the Gulf of Guinea to the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa…. Considering that the business ties between Sub-Saharan Africa and Spain are intensifying rapidly, this economic relation has to be translated into the political sphere.”
The report went so far as to state that “loyal participation within the EU does not mean Spain has to renounce thinking and acting for itself,” opening the door to military intervention without the support of Madrid’s allies.
The militaristic report also warns that Spanish foreign policy has to convince the Spanish population that it “provides benefits in the terrain of democracy, security, prosperity and knowledge.” It is necessary to look for “social support,” the report states.
Conscious that the Spanish working class has been historically hostile to the Spanish armed forces and its foreign interventions, Instituto Elcano calls for a propaganda campaign to convince the population that imperialist interventions will bring economic and security benefits.
Both the Spanish and the Portuguese army played a brutal role in the colonial wars of the twentieth century. The Portuguese army put an end to the First Republic in 1926 and initiated the Ditadura Nacional, which lasted until 1974. During this period, the army participated in colonial wars from 1961 to 1974—in Angola, Goa, Mozambique, Portuguese Guinea and Cape Verde.
The Spanish army, later assisted by France, participated in the wars against Moroccan nationalists in the early 1920s. Many officers who participated in these wars, including Francisco Franco, Spain’s dictator from 1939 to 1975, supported the military coup of July 1936 against the Popular Front government.
Portugal is headquarters of the Allied Joint Force Command, currently responsible for providing assistance to NATO missions in Africa. Spain has America’s Morón Air Base, one of the most strategic points controlled by the US in Europe, and the Rota Naval Station, close to the Gibraltar straits.
From Wildlife Extra:
Why cooperation among sociable weaver birds leads to their amazing nests
A new insight into one of the biggest questions in science – why some animals, including humans, work together to maintain a common good – has been achieved by scientists at the University of Sheffield.
Sociable weavers, a highly gregarious and co-operative breeding bird from the savannahs of southern Africa, build the largest nests of any bird, often weighing tonnes and lasting for decades, and housing colonies of up to several hundred birds.
The massive nests consist of individual nest chambers which are used throughout the year for breeding and roosting and are embedded within a communal thatch.
The thatch covering the nest doesn’t originate from individual chamber building but requires separate investment from colony members to build and maintain it.
As such it provides a public good from which all colony members benefit in terms of buffering extremes of temperature, supporting individual nest chambers and protecting from predators.
The question that researchers from the University’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences addressed is how sociable weavers work together to successfully build and maintain this public good, while keeping freeloaders at bay.
This is a general problem in such situations because some individuals may cheat the system by benefitting from the public good, without contributing to it.
There are several potential solutions to this problem, one of which is that co-operative behaviour is directed towards relatives.
Dr Rene van Dijk, from the Sheffield research team led by Professor Ben Hatchwell, said: “Our study shows that relatedness between colony members is low, on average, but co-operation over thatch-building is kin-directed, due to the positioning of relatives within nests.
“Sociable weavers do not contribute to thatch building equally, but those that do contribute to it are more closely related to their neighbours within the colony than are non-builders.
“Crucially, related birds are positioned close to one another within nests, so that thatch building investment also benefits their relatives.
“Additionally, relatives visit each other’s nest chambers, suggesting again that the communal benefits are shared among kin.
The study not only demonstrates that the influence of kin selection may stretch beyond that of nuclear and extended family groups thus promoting co-operation in large social groups, but it is also the first study to show that kin selection may promote the communal construction and maintenance of an animal-built physical structure.
Such structures include nests, mounds and burrows.
“This co-operation is similar to how human families may decide to accept a lodger into their home.
“If the lodger isn’t related to the family, he or she may pay rent but otherwise they will not care too much about the upkeep of the house.
“However, if the lodger is a known family member, then you would expect them to maintain the house which he or she may stay in for a longer period and possibly inherit.
“It may seem like a small difference, but it tips the balance towards a more co-operative society.”
This is an okapi video.
From Wildlife Extra:
New study sheds fresh light on okapi genetics
Very little is known about the mysterious and elusive okapi
A pioneering genetic study of the endangered Congolese okapi, using genetic techniques similar to those employed by crime scene forensics, has helped to unravel the mysteries of the species’ evolutionary origins and genetic structure.
The study, conducted by scientists from Cardiff University and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), analysed okapi faeces collected from the rainforest, skin samples from museums, clippings of dried skin and artefacts found in villages across its range in DRC.
“Our research showed that okapi are both genetically distinct and diverse – not what you might expect from an endangered animal at low numbers,” said chief investigator of the study, Dr David Stanton from ZSL’s Institute of Zoology and Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences.
He added: “Higher genetic diversity means that the okapi are equipped with the necessary genes capable of withstanding changes to their environment. Beyond that they are also more likely to survive to produce offspring bearing their own resilient genetic traits. Consequently, the population will continue for more generations because of the success of these individuals.
“This rich and distinct genetic variation is likely to be a result of periods of forest fragmentation and expansion in the Congo Basin in the ancient past. The data show that okapi have survived through historic changes in climate, and therefore indicate that the species may be more resilient to future changes.
“There is a concern however, that much of this genetic diversity will be lost in the near future, due to rapidly declining populations in the wild making efforts to conserve the species, facilitated by the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group, critical.”
It is hoped that the new information collected during the study will prove indispensable for future conservation management of the species and, ultimately, its survival.
In the past 20 years the wild okapi’s numbers have halved. Prior to the study, little was known about the enigmatic animal, endemic to the rainforests of central and north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Central Africa. Ongoing threat from armed conflict, habitat fragmentation, human encroachment and poaching has rendered the species endangered, according to a 2013 assessment led by ZSL and IUCN for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Only known to the Western world since 1901, when the species was discovered by a ZSL Fellow and described at a meeting of the Society, the elusive okapi is nearly impossible to observe in the wild because of its shy nature and the remoteness of the rainforests it inhabits; a trait that has helped it avoid getting caught in the cross-fire of Congo’s long-running civil conflict.
Dr Noëlle Kümpel, co-chair of the IUCN SSC Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group and ZSL collaborator on the research, said “The IUCN Red List assessment we carried out last year highlighted that the okapi is faring worse than previously thought, with okapi populations shrinking and becoming more fragmented. It’s therefore critical that we support ICCN to step up conservation efforts across the okapi’s range, and in particular ensure the integrity and security of the protected areas where okapi are found – which includes flagship World Heritage Sites like Virunga National Park and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.”
Download the full study here.
This music video is called African Traditional Music.
From Wildlife Extra:
Chimps shun music of West and Japan in favour of African, Indian… or peace and quiet
Not that the researchers want to be divisive.
“Our objective was not to find a preference for different cultures’ music,” said study co-author Frans de Waal of Emory University. “We used cultural music from Africa, India and Japan to pinpoint specific acoustic properties.
“Past research has focused only on Western music and has not addressed the very different acoustic features of non-Western music.
“While non-human primates have previously indicated a preference of music choices, they have consistently chosen silence over the types of music previously tested.”
Previous research has also found that some non-human primates prefer slower tempos, but the current findings may be the first to show that they display a preference for particular rhythmic patterns, according to the study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition.
“Although Western music, such as pop, blues and classical, sound different to the casual listener, they all follow the same musical and acoustic patterns. Therefore, by testing only different Western music, previous research has essentially replicated itself,” the authors wrote.
Sixteen adult chimps in two groups participated in the experiment at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University.
Over 12 consecutive days for 40 minutes each morning, the groups were given the opportunity to listen to African, Indian or Japanese music playing on a portable stereo near their outdoor enclosure.
Another portable stereo not playing any music was located at a different spot near the enclosure to rule out behaviour that might be associated with an object rather than the music.
The different types of music were at the same volume but played in random order.
Each day, researchers observed the chimps and recorded their location every two minutes with handwritten notes. They also videotaped the activity in the enclosure.
The researchers found that when African and Indian music was played near their large outdoor enclosures, the chimps spent significantly more time in areas where they could best hear the music.
When Japanese music was played, they were more likely to be found in spots where it was more difficult or impossible to hear the music.
The African and Indian music in the experiment had extreme ratios of strong to weak beats, whereas the Japanese music had regular strong beats, which is also typical of Western music.
“Chimpanzees may perceive the strong, predictable rhythmic patterns as threatening, as chimpanzee dominance displays commonly incorporate repeated rhythmic sounds such as stomping, clapping and banging objects,” said de Waal.
“Displaying a preference for music over silence is compelling evidence that our shared evolutionary histories may include favouring sounds outside of both humans’ and chimpanzees’ immediate survival cues,” said lead author Morgan Mingle of Emory and Southwestern University in Austin.
“Our study highlights the importance of sampling across the gamut of human music to potentially identify features that could have a shared evolutionary root.”
See also here.
Nature and nurture seem to contribute equally to chimpanzee intelligence, @Sara_Reardon reports: here.
This video from East Africa says about itself:
Elephant Shrew, Macroscelidea order, eats ants termites worms and makes paths to dash from when a threat appears. Although diurnal they are seldom seen.
From daily The Independent in Britain:
New species of mouse-like creature with ‘elephant trunk’ discovered
It was discovered by researchers from the California Academy of Sciences during research on their cousins in southwestern Africa.
Dr Jack Dumbacher and colleague Dr Galen Rathbun noticed that one animal differed from any they had seen before, being smaller, with rust-coloured fur and a new hairless gland underneath its tail.
Genetic analysis confirmed that they had discovered a new species and their findings will be published in the Journal of Mammology.
It is the third new species of sengi discovered in the wild in the past decade.
Dr Dumbacher, the Academy’s curator of ornithology and mammalogy, thanked colleagues for collecting “invaluable” specimens that allowed them to discover the difference.
He added: “Genetically, Macroscelides micus is very different from other members of the genus and it’s exciting to think that there are still small areas of the world where even the mammal fauna is unknown and waiting to be explored.”
Found on the inland edge of the Namib Desert at the base of the Etendeka Plateau, scientists believe the creature went undescribed for so long because of the challenges of doing scientific research in such an isolated area.
Yet it is the isolation and unique environmental conditions of the region that have given rise to the sengi and other unique organisms.
An Etendeka round-eared sengi has been added to the Namib Desert exhibit in the Academy’s natural history museum.
It joins a replica of Welwitschia mirabilis, an ancient plant also native to the Namib Desert that can live for up to 2,500 years.
See also here.
From Wildlife Extra:
This inland delta, which is situated in the northwest of the country and fed by the the Okavango River (that originates over 800 miles away in the highlands of Angola), is the largest of its type in the world and is comprised of permanent marshlands and seasonally flooded plains.
The River Okavango is at its fullest during the dry season, due to rainfall and floodwater from the Angolan Highlands, and overflows into these plains.
This attracts animals from miles around, making it one of Africa’s greatest concentrations of wildlife.
It is home to populations of some of the most threatened large mammals in the world, including the cheetah, white and black rhinoceros, elephant, the wild dog and the lion. It harbours 24 species of globally-threatened birds.
“The Okavango Delta has long been considered one of the biggest gaps on the World Heritage list and IUCN is proud to have been able to provide support to this nomination,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General.
“We congratulate Botswana’s authorities on their extraordinary commitment to make this historic listing a reality.”
“The Okavango Delta has been a conservation priority for more than 30 years and we are delighted that it has finally gained the prestigious status it deserves,” says Tim Badman, Director of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme. “Its ecological and biological importance as well as its exceptional natural beauty make it a prime example of what World Heritage stands for.”
UNESCO works to the identify, protect and preserve cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.
Read Chris McIntyre travel feature on the Delta HERE.