New elephant shrew species discovery in Namibia


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

A mouse-like creature with an elephant’s “trunk” has been discovered in a remote desert in Namibia.

The new species is known as an “elephant shrew” and is a type of round-eared sengi.

The tiny creature is the smallest known member of the sengi family with a body just 9cm long and despite its size, is more closely related to elephants, manatees and aardvarks than to shrews.

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.

Namibian, Indonesian wildlife news


This video from Namibia is called Bwabwata National Park.

From Wildlife Extra:

Two new Ramsar sites

January 2014: Two new Ramsar wetland sites have been designated in January; Bwabwata in Okavango, Namibia, which will be the country’s fifth, and Tanjung Puting National Park in Indonesia, the country’s seventh.

Situated in Bwabwata National Park, the site covers the lower Okavango River, part of the Okavango Delta Panhandle and permanently or temporarily flooded marshes and floodplains bordered by riparian forest and open woodland. It supports IUCN Red-Listed species, including the vulnerable African elephant, hippopotamus, lion, slaty egret and the endangered grey crowned crane. The site supports one of the highest diversities of species in the Zambezian Flooded Savannas ecoregion. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded, the highest number of any site in Namibia.

While Tanjung Puting National Park is one of the most important conservation areas in Central Kalimantan, acting as a water reservoir and representing one of the largest remaining habitats of the endangered Kalimantan Orangutan Pongo pygmaeus. The site consists of seven different types of swamp, including peat swamp forests, lowland tropical rainforest, freshwater swamp forests and as well as mangroves and coastal forest. It supports large numbers of endemic species of flora and fauna adapted to the predominant acidic peat swamp environment.

Sites are recognised by the Ramsar Convention Secretariat as a Wetland of International Importance and that the country’s comitment [sic] to maintain the ecological character of them.

This video from Indonesia is called Orangutan Odysseys Tanjung Puting National Park tour.

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Dutch Sandwich tern, Ameland to Namibia migration


This video from England is called Sandwich terns return to RSPB Coquet Island.

Marjan, warden on Ameland island in the Netherlands, reports that in June 2013 a Sandwich tern was ringed at a nesting colony on the island.

Recently, people spotted that bird in Namibia in Africa.

Will it have a succesful spring migration, all the long way back to Ameland?

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Save African vultures


This video says about itself:

This bearded vulture has developed an incredibly cunning method of eating carcass bone marrow – although patience is a virtue as this bone breaking technique can take seven years to perfect! Another amazing nature video from the wild African desert. From the BBC.

From BirdLife:

A campaign to save African Vultures in the wake of new poisoning incidents

Fri, Aug 16, 2013

“I want African Vultures ALIVE – not DEAD”. This was the headline message for the African vulture campaign initiated at the BirdLife World Congress held in Ottawa, Canada, in June 2013. It resonated very well with the 600 delegates and most people stopped by to take pictures next to a banner that boldly proclaimed this message. As we speak, this message is spreading like wildfire in the social media and beyond. …

Achilles Byaruhanga of Nature Uganda (BirdLife in Uganda) likes vultures alive!
But why would anyone want these creatures alive, as they are often portrayed as ugly scavengers? Vultures play an extremely important role in nature. They keep natural and man-made habitats free of carcasses, waste and even human excrement. This way, they limit the spread of diseases, such as anthrax and botulism, a rare disease that causes paralysis. In Africa they are also of cultural value to many communities, and they have an important eco-tourism value.

Still, why this particular concern about African vultures, now? The African continent supports eleven species of vulture, of which eight are confined to the continent. The main threats to vultures in Africa include poisoning, loss of preferred habitat, persecution for various uses including traditional medicine, disturbance at breeding sites, declining food availability and collision with energy infrastructure such as wind turbines.

In West Africa for example, comparisons of censuses conducted by Jean-Marc Thiollay in the early 1970s and then repeated in the early 2000s, found that four large vulture species decreased dramatically (98%) outside protected areas in four countries.

Poisoning incidences are also being increasingly reported elsewhere in Africa. In July 2013 alone, two known poisoning incidents decimated a large number of vultures in southern Africa. An estimated 400 to 600 vultures were found dead near an elephant carcass in Caprivi, Namibia, poisoned by poachers who laced the carcass with a chemical. This was an intentional attempt to kill vultures, because vultures congregate around carcasses and are therefore often used by law enforcers as an indication of poaching activity. In another incident, about 50 vultures were found dead in a farm in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. Several sheep carcasses found on site were suspected of having been intentionally poisoned in order to control jackal predation on new-born lambs.

The generally negative public perception towards vultures worsens the situation by making it difficult to convince people that the decline of vulture populations will have negative implications on their lives, such as loss of environmental cleaning services and loss of income from tourism. Unfortunately this negative attitude permeates society at all levels at local, national and international levels and it has been a challenge to convince governments, donors and industries to support vulture conservation.

The BirdLife Africa Partnership, together with collaborators, especially through the IUCN Vulture Specialist Group, is taking action to address the looming African vulture crises. Priority actions include: first, research and monitoring to produce evidence to persuade government and industry to change their practices and commit resources to vulture conservation. Secondly, map areas where vultures are found and the threats they face. Mapping will enable identification and protection of ‘vulture hotspots’, including vulture breeding colonies. Thirdly, educate people – including donors and decision-makers – and change their perceptions about vultures. Fourthly, support local conservation action, and encourage workers from different areas of the continent to network and share experiences.

We need your support to stem the threats to African vultures! Please share this article with your network of friends, take action for your local vultures, or make a donation at www.justgiving.com/africanvultures.

THANK YOU!

The BirdLife Africa Partnership has produced the first regional State of Africa’s Birds (SOAB) report, launched at the BirdLife World Congress in June 2013 in Ottawa, Canada. The report provides a comprehensive overview of current and emerging environment and development issues in Africa as reflected from in-depth information on birds. It presents a synthesis of the work and knowledge of the BirdLife Africa Partnership in conserving birds, their habitats and other biodiversity, as well as livelihoods efforts for sustainability in the use of natural resources. The report is a one stop shop that profile the conservation activities of the BirdLife Africa Partnership and the conservation outlook for birds, biodiversity and nature in Africa: here.

Africa’s vulture population in jeopardy following mass poisoning incidents: here.