Mozambique reef sharks, new research


This video says about itself:

23 May 2014

In this new Shark Academy, Jonathan Bird explores the Gray Reef Shark, a small feisty shark that is one of the most common in the tropical Pacific. It’s also the species most well known for agonistic displays.

From Wildlife Extra:

New tagging scheme in Mozambique to study endangered grey reef sharks

Grey reef sharks appear to congregate around Vamizi Island to reproduce

Vamizi Island in Mozambique is launching a shark-tagging project to learn more about grey reef sharks.

This endangered species on the IUCN Red List is often seen on Vamizi’s reefs and is an important indicator of the health of the marine ecosystem.

In September 2014, a group of scientists will travel to Vamizi to assist freediving world record holder and IUCN Oceans Ambassador, William Winram, as he dives to fit satellite tags to 10 sharks.

Photographer and film-maker Mattias Klum will capture footage of the event to feature in a film he is producing on the marine eco-system that surrounds Vamizi.

In October, a further 20 sharks will be fitted with acoustic tags by marine scientists. The object of the project is to understand the sharks’ movements and breeding habits, providing invaluable information in the bid to protect them.

The grey reef shark tagging project is one of the first initiatives to be launched under a new partnership between Vamizi and the IUCN.

Large aggregations of up to 30 grey reef sharks have been witnessed between July and November at sites such as the Neptune’s Arm dive site.

All the sharks are mature females, suggesting that these aggregations may have something to do with reproduction.

This Vamizi aggregation is one of the very few known along the East Africa Coast, where shark populations are severely threatened.

By collecting data from tags fitted, the Vamizi-IUCN team will begin gathering the knowledge about their patterns of behaviour, feeding and reproduction that is needed to develop a strategy to protect them.

Known as the Vamizi ‘Big Five’ on the island, the grey reef shark, green turtle, giant grouper, bumphead parrotfish and Napoleon wrasse, all feature on the IUCN’s Red List of endangered species, and take refuge in Vamizi’s waters to feed and reproduce.

From early 2015, the project will be rolled out across several more of the most endangered species, including the populations of marine … hawksbill turtles that are frequent visitors to Vamizi’s reefs.

Four new chameleon species discovered in Mozambique


This video is called BBC World news documentary on the discovery of new species of chameleon on Mount Mabu – northern Mozambique.

From Wildlife Extra:

Four new species of chameleon discovered in Mozambique

Four new species of pygmy chameleon have been discovered in Mozambique’s sky islands. These are isolated mountains found in the north of the country that all feature pockets of rainforest, which have been separated for many thousands of years.

The researchers focused on four mountains and found a different species of chameleon at each; Rhampholeon nebulauctor (Mt Chiperone) , Rhampholeon tilburyi (Mt Namuli), Rhampholeon bruessoworum (Mt Inago) and Rampholeon maspictus (Mt Mabu).

Rhampholeon is a genus of small chameleons, commonly known as pygmy chameleons or African leaf chameleons, found in central East Africa. They are found in forests, woodlands, thickets, and savanna, and most species are restricted to highlands.

Expedition organiser Dr Julian Bayliss, from Fauna & Flora International said: “The biodiversity of the high altitude mountains of northern Mozambique is only starting to be explored and we are finding many new species from most taxonomic groups. This is just the start, and we expect many more new discoveries in the future.”

Protect beautiful Mozambique rainforest


This video says about itself:

Discovering Mount Mabu

3 March 2011

Earth Focus: Scientists discover new species of wildlife in Mt. Mabu, a remote forest region in Mozambique that was, until recently, one of the few unexplored places left on Earth. Correspondent Jeffrey Barbee follows a research team to Mt. Mabu reporting on their new finds and explaining why this lost Eden is important for conservation.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Protect the Mozambique forest found on Google Earth, scientists say

Mount Mabu rainforest teeming with new and unique species including pygmy chameleons and bronze-colour snakes

Josh Davies

Friday 3 January 2014 07.00 GMT

A remote rainforest in Mozambique discovered using Google Earth has so many new and unique species that it should be declared a protected area, scientists say.

Pygmy chameleons, a bronzed bush viper and butterflies with shimmering yellow wings are among the species in the forests covering Mount Mabu in northern Mozambique.

Discovered in 2005 by scientists using satellite images, the forests, previously only known to local villagers, have proven to be a rich ecosystem teeming with new species of mammals, butterflies, reptiles, insects and plants. The mountain forests have been isolated from a much larger forest block for millennia, meaning there has been no migration between this site and the next mountain for tens of thousands of years, allowing unique species to evolve in isolation.

One such species is a golden-eyed bush viper with bronze-edged scales (Atheris mabuensis) which Julian Bayliss, a conservation scientist for Kew Gardens, found by stepping on during a survey. His team is also waiting to describe a further two species of snake. A new species of chameleon (Nadzikambia baylissi) has already been described from the site, and the researchers are also describing another. The size of a human palm, with a warm yellow chest, green eyes and a spiky crest along its back, Rhampholeon sp. are commonly known as pygmy chameleons.

Bayliss’s team has identified 126 different species of birds within the forest block, including seven that are globally threatened, such as the endangered spotted ground thrush (Zoothera guttata). There are an estimated 250 species of butterfly, including five which are awaiting to be described, like Baliochila sp., a vibrant specimen which has shimmering yellow wings dusted with black. New species of bats, shrews, rodents, frogs, fish and plants are also waiting to be described.

“The finding of the new species was really creating an evidence base to justify its protection,” explained Dr Bayliss, “and now we’ve got enough to declare a site of extreme biological importance that needs to be a protected area and needs to be managed for conservation.”

In first step to making the forest an internationally recognised protected area – such as a national park – the team have submitted an application to have its importance officially recognised . This “gazetting” application has been accepted on a provincial and national level, but is currently waiting to be signed by the government.

If the application is successful, then the forest will be protected from logging concessions seeking valuable hardwoods currently threatening the mountain.

“The people who threaten Mabu are already there, and really what we’re trying to do now is a race against time towards its conservation. It’s getting there early enough to get the wheels in motion to make it a protected area before it’s too late,” said Bayliss.

Along the shores of Lake Niassa/Nyassa, Mozambique, the Manda Wilderness Agricultural Project (MWAP) is training community members from 15 villages in biodiversity-friendly agricultural and agroforestry methods, to increase the provision of habitat for endemic species that are crucial to the success and sustainability of ecological agriculture in the region. This is a small grant project supported by CEPF in the Eastern Afromontane hotspot through the Regional Implementation Team (RIT): here.

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New Mozambique snake discovery


Thelotornis usambaricus

From the Mozambique News Agency:

Mozambique: New Venomous Snake Discovered in Cabo Delgado

15 January 2013

Maputo — A researcher at Lurio University, based in the northern Mozambican province of Nampula, has discovered a species of highly venomous snake not previously known in the country.

The species is Thelotornis usambaricus, which belongs to a group of snakes commonly known as twig snakes. Previously, this species was only known from Tanzania, but the researcher, Harith Farooq, discovered it when he was undertaking a survey of terrestrial wild life on Vamizi island, in the Quirimbas archipelago, off the coast of Cabo Delgado province.

Farooq caught two of the snakes, which he could not immediately identify.

He sent one of the animals to the Natural History Museum in Zimbabwe to ascertain its taxonomic classification. This work was done by the zoologist Donald G. Broadley, who discovered the species in Tanzania in 2001.

The second of the snakes is now in the reptile collection kept in the branch of Lurio University in the Cabo Delgado provincial capital, Pemba.

Thelotornis Usambaricus is a member of the Thelotornis genus of back-fanged snakes. Its venom is hemotoxic – which means that it destroys red blood cells. This type of venom can disrupt blood clotting, and cause generalized tissue damage.

It is much slower acting than the neurotoxic venom (poison that affects the nervous system) of snakes such as the black mamba. However, no anti-venom has yet been developed for Thelotornis poison, and although bites are rare, fatalities have been recorded in Tanzania.

This snake usually conceals itself in trees, from which it strikes at its favoured prey – lizards, frogs and sometimes birds.

With this discovery, the number of snake species known to exist in Mozambique has risen to 96.

The black mamba has quite a reputation. It is one of the world’s deadliest snakes; it is the fastest land snake in the world; and it is Africa’s biggest poisonous snake. This snake’s potential danger has been the subject of many African myths and it has been blamed for thousands of human deaths: here.

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