Tanzania’s whales and elephants


This video is called Tanzania – An African Wildlife Utopia.

From Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam):

Animals Who Own the Sea

By Reginald Stanislaus Matillya, 8 February 2014

BETWEEN October and November Saadani National Park provides visitors a golden chance of seeing different species of Whales on the way to Jozani Forest National park in Zanzibar.

This feature gives Saadani National Park a special taste of watching the two largest animals in the World – Elephants and Whales. With a body measuring up to 30 metres or 98 ft in length and weighing more than 200 tonnes the Blue Whale is the largest animal on Earth because one full grown male is equal to forty full grown male African Bush Elephants who weigh 5 tonnes each.

The two giants come from one big kingdom of animals, a phylum of Chordata and class of mammals which include air breathing vertebrate animals who possess mammary glands which produce milk to feed their offspring.

Female Blue Whale gives birth to a single or twin calves after a gestation period of about a year weighing three tonnes like a full grown female African Bush Elephant who approximately weighs 3 tonnes.

The African Bush Elephant which is regarded as the largest land animal gives birth to an offspring weighing about 100 kilogrammes after the longest gestation period among mammals of 22 months.

Both calves of Blue Whale and Elephant starts their life by suckling nutritious milk from their mother as the baby elephant spend five months while baby Blue Whale takes a full year suckling their mother’s milk only.

During the first seven months of its life, a baby Blue Whale drinks approximately 400 litres of milk every day while and Elephant can hardly manage to drink 15 litres of milk reach in fat and protein.

Whale’s milk is more nutritious than one from an Elephant because fifty per cent of its content is made of fat, thirty- five protein and fifteen other important nutrients. This enables a young Blue Whale to add 90 kilogrammes after every 24 hours so by the time they are weaned within six months of age they are about 52 feet long and weighing about 23 tonnes.

At the beginning of winter in northern hemisphere pregnant female Blue Whales will migrate into Tropical area and swim to shallow warm water of the Indian Ocean to give birth.

While in the labour clinic located some few miles from the city of Dar es Salaam in the middle of Indian Ocean, the mother will allow the baby to come out from her womb by the tail first then the whole body.

After giving birth the mother will assist her new born to swim into a safe area with her flippers after 30 minutes although a baby Blue is capable to swim within ten minutes of their birth.

Blue Whales reach sexual maturity when they are ten years old although it is believed that male get matured later than female.

Blue Whales start mating in late autumn on September and continue until the coming of winter in December in Northern Hemisphere. Before mating a Blue Whale will sing a special song in series of pulses, groans, and moans to attract a sexual partner who may be up to 1,000 miles or 1,600 kilometres away and hear the call.

Among Elephant society there is no special period for mating so it can take place any time of the year.

When a female feel like having an intercourse she makes a special louder voice to alert all male in that area who may be a kilometre away.

The call will attract bulls who will come and engage in a fight until a victor is obtained and accepted by a female by rubbing her body against him then the two will separate from the group to mate in a conducive situation.

The Blue Whale has a gigantic body equivalent in size with a space shuttle orbiter or NBA basketball’s court but longer than it.

Their bodies are too heavy beyond comparison with a body of any single living thing in the entire world because weighing 200 tonnes you may compare them with eight DC 9 airplanes or fifteen big buses which ply between Arusha and Dar es Salaam.

Although they have those massive bodies Blue Whales are good swimmers because they can reach a top speed of 48.5 kilometres per hour in a bust but usually they cruise at a speed of 19.5 kilometres per hour.

Sleeping is an elusive phenomena to these two giants on Earth because in middle of the Sea to avoid drowning Blue Whales do not sleep totally instead, they rest part of their brain and leave one eye opened while swimming slowly because if they go down to the floor they can not breath, eventually they will die.

Elephants are not good sleepers but when they feel that they need to rest, it will be done for a maximum of four hours involving short naps of thirty minutes with long intervals of foraging, standing and walking and repeat the cycle until they reach four hours of sleeping in a day.

Elephants sleep directly on the ground, they lie down on the ground and sleep on their sides and since they get up a lot they often switch sides.

The main reason of this is that their big bodies make it uncomfortable to sleep like other animal in the wild because when they lie down to get some rest they put all their weight on their bones.

Blue Whales use their giant mouth with a tongue large like an Elephant to take in 5,000 litres of water some of which is forced out through two blowholes on top of the head in a spay going as high as a three storey building.

Elephants are herbivorous who eat 450 kilogrammes of vegetation per day while Blue Whale is carnivorous capable of eating 4 tons of Krill which are small Shrimplike animals in a day.

Elephants are intelligent animals who possess a smart brain weighing 5 kilogrammes compared with a 200 tonnes Blue Whale with a brain weighing only 10 kilogrammes.

The brain of an Elephant is similar to that of human being in terms of structure and complexity. The smart brain gives elephants ability to use their trunk properly and to recognise and respect remains of their loved ones. It is said they moan the death of their kind like humans and take care of a baby elephant when its mother dies.

Elephant has no real enemy in the wild but people who hunt and kill them for ivories. This also applies to Blue Whale hunted and killed by people for meat and oil.

Unlike the African Elephants, in the deep sea Blue Whales face predators who attack like African wild dogs.

A lonely Blue Whale in the deep sea may fall victim to Killer Whales who hunt in deadly parks called pods consisting of about forty or more individuals.

Pods use effective, cooperative hunting techniques like those we see from wild dogs whereby they chase and kill their victim without suffocation.

They feast on marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, and even Blue whales by applying their sharp ten centimetres teeth on the flesh of their victims. It has been proved that Killer Whales are cannibals who sometime attack, kill and eat each other especially their weak fellows.

Killer Whales make a wide variety of communicative sounds and each pod has distinctive noises that its members will recognise even at a distance.

Male Killer whales typically range from 6 to 8 metres or 20 to 26 ft long and weigh 6 tonnes like a full grown African Bush Elephant in the wild.

Females are smaller, generally ranging from 5 to 7 metres or 16 to 23 ft and weighing about 3 to 4 tones.

The killer whale’s large size and strength make it among the fastest marine mammals capable of reaching a top speed of 56 kilometres per hour.

Killer whales have good eyesight above and below the water, excellent hearing, and a good sense of touch.

They have exceptionally sophisticated echolocation mechanism which enables them to detect the location and characteristics of a prey and other objects in their environments by emitting clicks and listening for echoes.

Males sexually mature at the age of 15, but do not typically reproduce until age 21 while female mature at around age 15 and bear a single offspring after a gestation period of 15 to 18 months.

Female stop breading at the age of 40 while their lifespan is 50 years and maximum age is 90 years. Males live around 29 years on average and have a maximum age of 50 to 60 years. Killer Whales are present in all sea and oceans of the World including the Indian Ocean where they are frequently seen in an area between Tanzania and Seychelles.

Both Blue Whales and Killer Whales perform a spectacular show called Breaching which involve jumping out of water into the air and slamming their bodies into the water again. Tourists follow Whales in the sea to watch these attractive games.

It is possible to see Whales in Tanzania which borders with the Indian Ocean where Mnazi Bay Marine Park, Mafia Marine Park, Maziwi Island Marine Reserve, Chumbe Marine Park, Mnembe Marine Park, Misali Marine Park, Menei Marine Park, and Saadani National Park are located.

The coastal line of Tanzania starts north on the border with Kenya and stretch about 1,424 kilometres southward to the border with Mozambique.

The country has Maritime claims of territorial sea for 12 nautical miles and an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles where the big sea mammals dwell.

The best position to watch whales may be in Zanzibar, Mafia and Mtwara.

Both The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), World Conservation Monitoring Centre and Convention on International Trade in Endangered

Species (CITES) have listed Blue Whale, Killer Whale and The African Elephant in the endangered species which need special protection.

Whales may have a previously unknown appetite for eels: here.

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Good African wildlife news


This video says about itself:

An elephant gives birth during our trip to Amboseli National Park in Kenya and in the half hour we are allowed to observe tries to coax the newborn to his feet.

From Wildlife Extra:

Amboseli is on the road to recovery

Census shows wildlife is making a strong recovery on Kenya-Tanzania border

October 2013: Numbers of elephants and other large mammals in Amboseli National Park on the Kenya-Tanzania border are recovering from the devestating drought that occurred here between 2008 and 2010, results from the first census since the disaster shows.

Kenya Wildlife Service and Tanzania wildlife authorities conduct both a wet and a dry aerial census every three years in the Amboseli West Kilimanjaro and Magadi Natron cross border landscape. This year’s counts showed that numbers have increased by 12 percent during the dry season, from 1,065 in 2010 to 1,193 in 2013; while during the wet season there was an increase of 35 percent, from 1,420 in 2010 to 1,930 in 2013.

The census aims to establish wildlife population, trends and distribution, and enhance knowledge on the relation between wildlife, habitat and human impacts. The information gathered from the census will be used to improve wildlife security and human-wildlife conflicts, and advise communities on developing community conservancies and ecotourism projects in key areas.

The census was a collaboration between the two countries and their agencies; the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), Wildlife Division of Tanzania (WD) Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA).

KWS Director William Kiprono, said: “Amboseli is one of our success stories and we owe it to the local community, which has warded off possible poachers.”

October 2013. Efforts to conserve Kenya’s dwindling population of rhinos have been significantly boosted by WWF Kenya which handed over 1000 microchips and five scanners to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS): here.

Tanzania rhino update


This video is called Saving the Black Rhino.

From Wildlife Extra:

Tanzania’s rhinos – Edging back from the brink

Rhinos in Tanzania

September 2013. Tanzania is home to the Black Rhino. In Tanzania the IUCN estimate there are just 123 black rhino remaining in the wild. Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) is currently working in partnership with (Tanzanian National Parks) TANAPA and other Tanzania authorities to increase the security in Serengeti National Park and across the country. Resource protection and monitoring of rhinos (and elephants) is of top priority.

Rhino protection in Serengeti & Selous

The major threat continues to be poaching for rhino horn. FZS are convinced that with enough effort, patience, ingenuity, money and hope the rhinos of Tanzania will become a conservation success story. FZS is involved in supporting efforts to protect rhinos in Tanzania in the Serengeti National Park and Selous Game Reserve.

Serengeti

Black rhino were once numerous across the Serengeti. It is estimated that around 500 to 700 rhinos once roamed freely in the Serengeti Ecosystem. Poaching, however, reduced this number greatly in the 1970′s.

It was feared that none were left in Serengeti National Park, but in the 1980′s two females appeared again in the Moru area of Central Serengeti, one named Mama Serengeti.

Miraculously, one of the young bulls living in the Ngorongoro Crater left the Crater and made it over 100km to Moru where he was welcomed by the two lonely females. He has happily lived ever after in his own paradise looking after his new found harem. After his arrival four calves were born and the Serengeti National Park – Moru population now has between 25 and 30 individuals.

Mama Serengeti is still alive today and was spotted a year ago with a new calf. All three rhinos in this “starting population” are still alive today. The first five of the thirty-two rhinos scheduled to be brought from South Africa for reintroduction into the Serengeti arrived in May 2010.

The President of Tanzania, Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, remarked that they are a “stark reminder of what went wrong and the past and a lesson for what needs to be done to prevent it from happening again.”

Of these 5 rhinos, 1 died of natural causes, another sadly was poached, and another gave birth to a calf. It is estimated that there are 35 rhinos (approximately) in the Ngorongoro Crater, and possibly another 24 in Kenya’s Maasai Mara, a handful of which often cross the unmarked border into Serengeti. With these three remaining rhino populations in the Serengeti ecosystem – there is hope that in the future these remarkable animals will roam again all over the Serengeti, as they did before.

Selous rhinos – Clinging on

Rhinos in Selous Game Reserve (SGR) have suffered a very high level of poaching, particularly during the 1980s. Estimates put the population at 3,000 in 1981 which declined to 300-400 individuals by the end of the 1980s. It is thought that the rhino populations still exist, but the number is unknown. Over the last year there have been confirmed sightings of three individuals at ranger posts in the northern Selous Game Reserve. Additionally, in August 2012 two dung middens were found; one was under three months old and the other was over six months old. As there is no recent data of population numbers, it is critical timing to monitor these rhinos and ensure their continued protection.

FZS are hopeful that one day, visitors to Serengeti and Selous will again frequently spot these amazing animals.

Courtesy of Frankfurt Zoological Society.

Rhino conservation pioneer Clive Stockil from Zimbabwe believes community-based conservation is vital for the survival of African wildlife and has been at its forefront for four decades. He is the founding chairman of the Savé Valley Conservancy (which is now home to one of the country’s largest rhino populations), the chairman of the Lowveld Rhino Trust and a board member of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. Here he talks to Wild Travel about his life work and being the first-ever recipient of the Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa – a lifetime achievement award – at the 2013 Tusk Conservation Awards.

October 2013. At a meeting of the five Asian Rhino range states – Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal – a common action plan was agreed with the aim of increasing the populations of Asian Rhino species by at least 3% annually by 2020: here.

October 2013. According to a Nepali National Parks’ spokesman, Nepalese police have arrested 14 people involved in rhino poaching in Nepal and India, including the ringleader: here.

Protect Tanzanian primates


This video is called Primate Questions of Conservation, Part 1/4.

From Wildlife Extra:

Tanzania primates should be protected by ‘Priority Primate Areas’

First full inventory of primates for Tanzania confirms wealth of rare species and ranks species and sites for conservation attention

July 2013. A five-year study by the Wildlife Conservation Society gives new hope to some of the world’s most endangered primates by establishing a roadmap to protect all 27 species in Tanzania – the most primate-diverse country in mainland Africa.

The study combines Tanzania’s first-ever inventory of all primate species and their habitats with IUCN Red List criteria and other factors such as threats and rarity, ranking all 27 species from most vulnerable to least vulnerable. The authors then identify a network of “Priority Primate Areas” for conservation.

9 endemic species

A third of Tanzania’s primate species are found nowhere else on earth. The study found that the most vulnerable was the kipunji, first discovered by WCS in 2003 on Mt Rungwe and described by WCS as an entirely new genus in 2006. Another extremely vulnerable species is the Zanzibar red colobus, a species whose population is currently being counted by WCS. More common species include the baboons, black and white colobus monkeys and vervets.

60 important primate areas

The study assigned a score to pinpoint the most important areas for protection. The analysis revealed more than 60 important primate areas including national parks, game reserves, forest reserves, conservation areas, and currently unprotected landscapes. However, the adequate protection of just nine sites, including six national parks (Kilimanjaro, Kitulo, Mahale, Saadani, Udzungwa and Jozani-Chwaka Bay), one nature reserve (Kilombero) and two forest reserves (Minziro and Mgambo), totalling 8,679 square kilometres (3,350 square miles), would protect all 27 of Tanzania’s primate species.

Priority Primate Areas

The authors say that the Priority Primate Areas could be applied in other nations rich in wildlife but facing burgeoning pressures from population growth. This could be similar to “Important Bird Areas” a global effort to identify and conserve places that are vital to birds and other biodiversity. In fact, Tanzania’s Priority Primate Areas were also often rich in bird life underscoring their value to conservation in general.

“We believe Priority Primate Areas can be a valuable conservation tool worldwide, similar to the successful Important Bird Area concept,” said the study’s lead author, Tim Davenport of WCS. “For a developing nation of such global conservation importance like Tanzania, priority setting is an essential tool in managing wildlife.”

Tanzania is widely regarded as the most important country in mainland Africa for biological diversity and unique species, and contains the continent’s highest mountain, deepest lakes and large parts of two globally significant biodiversity hotspots, the Eastern Afromontane and the Albertine Rift.

Highest rate of forest loss

However, Tanzania has the second highest rate of forest loss in sub-Saharan Africa, despite considerable conservation investment and a large amount of land nominally under protection.

“This study has global implications as many nations grapple with reconciling their development needs with biological conservation and the needs of wildlife,” said James Deutsch, WCS Executive Director for Africa Programs. “Science-based priority setting tools like this one are the best chance for developing nations to minimize biodiversity loss.”

The paper appears in the July 17 issue of the journal Oryx. Authors are Tim Davenport of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Katarzyna Nowak of the Udzungwa Elephant Project, and Andrew Perkin of the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group.

January 2014: The Humane Society International/UK (HIS/UK)has called for the UK Parliament to ban the keeping of primates as pets. Recent estimates suggest that upwards of 9,000 primates may be held as pets in the UK, but the true figure could be far higher as records are incomplete: here.

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African flamingo news


This video says about itself:

Sep 29, 2011

Flamingos, Cape Buffalo, Marabou Storks, Ibis and Pelicans around the shore of Lake Nakuru, a moderately alkaline lake in the Rift Valley, Kenya East Africa.

From Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam):

Tanzania: Report a Bird, Dead or Alive, With a Ring On Its Foot

By Anne Outerwater, 23 June 2013

Flamingos are mostly confined to brackish and soda lakes of the East African Rift Valley. Sometimes Greater Flamingos come to the coast and can often be seen from the Selander Bridge in Dar es Salaam.

But according to Zimmerman, Turner, and Pearson’s “Birds of Kenya and northern Tanzania” conditions suitable for breeding are found only in a few places.

Lesser Flamingos breed almost exclusively at Lake Natron in Tanzania and occasionally at Lakes Magadi and Logipi in Kenya. Greater Flamingos are not even mentioned as breeding at Lake Magadi but are found breeding in Lakes Elmenteita and Natron.

Lake Magadi in Kenya is a harsh environment. It is an alkaline lake 80% covered by soda. Water temperatures often rise above 45C and only one species of fish can live there, a cichlid. In 1962 no living person could be found who remembered seeing flamingoes breeding at Lake Magadi for at least the previous 50 years.

In the history of the Magadi Soda Company nobody had seen flamingos breeding there. Suddenly in July 1962 millions of flamingos showed up. They built platform nests rising out of shallow alkaline water with dry chips of crystalline soda. By early September 90% of the eggs had hatched, about 850,000 chicks.

The newly hatched chicks were covered with silky grey down, had swollen red legs, a short straight red beak and beady black eyes. If they fell off the nest mound during the first day it was difficult for them to climb back up because their legs were not strong enough.

The parents would then brood the chick on the flats. By the second day their legs had strengthened and they could usually climb back up to the nest to comparative safety. About a week after they hatched the young started to gather in groups which stayed under the shade provided by standing adults.

As time passed the young gathered into larger and larger groups watched over by fewer and fewer adults. After two weeks, several thousands of still downy chicks were under the supervision of about a dozen adults. At this point the greatest danger for them became apparent.

The alkaline water was supersaturated. As the chicks walked through it, the soda adhered to their legs and dried. After a few days about 100,000 of the chicks were carrying balls of soda the size of oranges on their legs. About half of them died.

Another 27,000 were saved from that fate when a small group of people from the East African Natural History Society saw the problem and took action by rescuing the chicks – catching them, tapping away the hard casement from around their ankles, and releasing them.

Official bird rings were placed on the legs of about 8000 Lesser Flamingos and 80 Greater Flamingoes – representing the overall ratio of breeding birds (10:1). For three months the parents brought the chicks food that they collected at night from Lake Natron.

It was estimated that 350,000-400,000 chicks finally flew away. By December they were gone from Lake Magadi. Very few of the rings have been recovered. A few rings from first year birds were found in Emgagai Crater Lake and Lake Magadi.

Ringed young were seen at Lake Magadi in the Ngorongoro Crater and another at Lake Nakuru. Then in July 1963 a ring was sent in from Sodere in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia, one thousand miles away. In 1997 a ringed Flamingo was recovered dead on the edge of the Western Sahara.

And five years ago a ring was recovered from Magadi which made the bird about 45 years old. Last week news came in to the Tanzania Bird Atlas from The Ringing Scheme of East Africa (run by East African Natural History Society) that a Lesser Flamingo was found freshly dead at Lake Baringo on 13th February this year. It was wearing a ring.

As reported, “The incredible thing about it is, that the ring was a BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) ring, one of those rings used for the Flamingo chicks which were born at Lake Magadi in 1962!! This bird was in fact ringed by Leslie Brown on 1st November 1962″ – meaning the bird had lived more than 50 years and 4 months.

The person who found the flamingo and reported the band is Nick Armour of Swavesey, England. Note: If anybody ever finds a dead bird with a ring on its leg contact the Tanzanian Bird Atlas or The Ringing Scheme of East Africa in Kenya.

Ape, monkey evolution discoveries in Tanzania


Artist’s impression of the newly discovered Rukwapithecus, front, and Nsungwepithecus, right (Mauricio Anton)

From Big News Network (ANI):

Oldest evidence of split between Old World monkeys and apes uncovered

Thursday 16th May, 2013

Discovery of two fossils from the East African Rift has provided new information about the evolution of primates, according to a study.

The team’s findings document the oldest fossils of two major groups of primates: the group that today includes apes and humans (hominoids), and the group that includes Old World monkeys such as baboons and macaques (cercopithecoids).

Geological analyses of the study site indicate that the finds are 25 million years old, significantly older than fossils previously documented for either of the two groups.

Both primates are new to science, and were collected from a single fossil site in the Rukwa Rift Basin of Tanzania.

Rukwapithecus fleaglei is an early hominoid represented by a mandible preserving several teeth. Nsungwepithecus gunnelli is an early cercopithecoid represented by a tooth and jaw fragment.

The primates lived during the Oligocene epoch, which lasted from 34 to 23 million years ago. For the first time, the study documents that the two lineages were already evolving separately during this geological period.

“The late Oligocene is among the least sampled intervals in primate evolutionary history, and the Rukwa field area provides a first glimpse of the animals that were alive at that time from Africa south of the equator,” said Nancy Stevens, an associate professor of paleontology in Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine who leads the paleontological team.

Prior to these finds, the oldest fossil representatives of the hominoid and cercopithecoid lineages were recorded from the early Miocene, at sites dating millions of years younger.

The new discoveries are particularly important for helping to reconcile a long-standing disagreement between divergence time estimates derived from analyses of DNA sequences from living primates and those suggested by the primate fossil record, Stevens said.

Studies of clock-like mutations in primate DNA have indicated that the split between apes and Old World monkeys occurred between 30 million and 25 million years ago.

“Fossils from the Rukwa Rift Basin in southwestern Tanzania provide the first real test of the hypothesis that these groups diverged so early, by revealing a novel glimpse into this late Oligocene terrestrial ecosystem,” Stevens said.

The new fossils are the first primate discoveries from this precise location within the Rukwa deposits, and two of only a handful of known primate species from the entire late Oligocene, globally.

The scientists scanned the specimens in the Ohio University’s MicroCT scanner, allowing them to create detailed 3-dimensional reconstructions of the ancient specimens that were used for comparisons with other fossils.

“This is another great example that underscores how modern imaging and computational approaches allow us to address more refined questions about vertebrate evolutionary history,” said Patrick O’Connor, co-author and professor of anatomy in Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The study was published online in Nature this week led by Ohio University scientists.

See also here. And here. And here.

In Tanzania, Nature Provides Unseen Value for Farmers: here.