Giraffes’ nightly humming to each other, new research

This video says about itself:

17 September 2015

Nocturnal “humming” vocalizations: adding a piece to the puzzle of giraffe vocal communication. Anton Baotic et al (2015), BMC Research Notes


Recent research reveals that giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis sp.) exhibit a socially structured, fission–fusion system. In other species possessing this kind of society, information exchange is important and vocal communication is usually well developed. But is this true for giraffes? Giraffes are known to produce sounds, but there is no evidence that they use vocalizations for communication. Reports on giraffe vocalizations are mainly anecdotal and the missing acoustic descriptions make it difficult to establish a call nomenclature. Despite inconclusive evidence to date, it is widely assumed that giraffes produce infrasonic vocalizations similar to elephants. In order to initiate a more detailed investigation of the vocal communication in giraffes, we collected data of captive individuals during day and night. We particularly focussed on detecting tonal, infrasonic or sustained vocalizations.


We collected over 947 h of audio material in three European zoos and quantified the spectral and temporal components of acoustic signals to obtain an accurate set of acoustic parameters. Besides the known burst, snorts and grunts, we detected harmonic, sustained and frequency-modulated “humming” vocalizations during night recordings. None of the recorded vocalizations were within the infrasonic range.


These results show that giraffes do produce vocalizations, which, based on their acoustic structure, might have the potential to function as communicative signals to convey information about the physical and motivational attributes of the caller. The data further reveal that the assumption of infrasonic communication in giraffes needs to be considered with caution and requires further investigations in future studies.

See also here.

New huntsman spider species discoveries in Africa

This 2013 video is called World’s Biggest Spider: Giant Huntsman Spider.

From the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Germany:

Four new species of huntsman spiders have been discovered in southern Africa

September 16, 2015

The arachnologist Dr Peter Jäger of the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt has discovered a new genus from the family of huntsman spiders. He was able to describe a total of four new species within this genus, which occurs in South Africa and Namibia. Besides special setae at the tips of their feet, which likely prevent the animals from sinking into the sand, the eight-legged creatures are characterized by their interesting mating behaviour. The study was recently published in the scientific journal “African Invertebrates“.

To discover a living in the South African deserts is a difficult feat; to study the spider in detail is almost impossible. The eight-legged animals are quick, nocturnal, and dwell in inconspicuous tunnels in the sand. “Fortunately, we have our collection that we can fall back on,” says Dr Peter Jäger, arachnologist at the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt. In his lab, Jäger was now able to identify a new genus with four associated of huntsman spiders (Sparassidae). “The spiders of one species were collected in the year 2004 by my doctoral student at the time, Dirk Kunz, and I now described them together scientifically as May bruno.” The name was assigned in the context of the bio-sponsorship program (; a daughter uses it to honour her father. Molecular-genetic studies of Jäger’s colleague Henrik Krehenwinkel confirmed that the animals belong to a .

The tips of the feet of these newly discovered desert dwellers with a leg span of 8 to 10 centimetres are particularly conspicuous. They contain unique tufts of setae with feathered tips. “They likely serve to prevent the animals from sinking into the sand and help them remain on the surface,” speculates the spider researcher from Frankfurt. Jäger is well aware of the huntsman spiders’ ingenuity when it comes to moving across the hot desert sand, at the latest since his discovery of a spider in this family that moves by means of flic-flacs or somersaults.

In addition, Jäger found yet another special trait in these spiders. All four females he inspected showed paired bite marks on their cephalothorax. “It is quite possible that these injuries were sustained during mating,” explains Jäger, and he adds, “We were unable to find these marks on the males of the ‘Love Bite Spider'”. Jäger refuses to speculate about the meaning of such behaviour and hopes that his colleagues will be able to observe the copulation in the field. However, since only 6 out of 45,000 spider species worldwide have males injuring conspecific females during courtship or mating, it is a very interesting finding.

European Montagu’s harriers migrating to Africa

This video shows a young Montagu’s harrier in Lauwersmeer national park im the Netherlands, on 2 August 2015.

Translated from the Dutch ornithologists of Werkgroep Grauwe Kiekendief:

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

The graceful silhouettes of Montagu’s harriers have become almost impossible to see in our country. Most have in fact begun their trek to the Sahel. Using satellite transmitters twelve Montagu’s harriers can be tracked on their journey.

On average, Montagu’s harriers travel some 5,000 kilometers to their wintering grounds. They do this in the fall at an average of 32 days. In spring, the migration takes about five days longer.

The birds which can be followed this season are Mark, Rowan, Roger and Rose from England, Astrid and Henry from Saxony-Anhalt [Germany], Geranda, Kees and Jürgen from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern [Germany] and Leen, Ludmila and Yura from Belarus. Ludmila was the first bird starting her migration, already on 1 August. Geranda was on September 9 still at her breeding grounds. Of the remaining harriers, some have already crossed over to Africa, but most are still in Europe.

Britain: Grouse shooting for ‘sport’ depends on intensive habitat management which damages protected wildlife sites, increases water pollution, increases flood risk, increases greenhouse gas emissions and too often leads to the illegal killing of protected wildlife such as Hen Harriers: petition here.

Migratory birds arrive in Africa, help them

This video is called Where Do Birds Go In Winter?

From BirdLife:

Africa, it’s your turn – migratory birds need you!

By Shaun Hurrell, Thu, 03/09/2015 – 15:17

Make your garden, balcony or school bird-friendly with Spring Alive

Migratory birds have already started arriving in Africa after their epic migrations from Europe and Asia. Nature is getting ready for their arrival; are you?

Nature is providing things that birds will need: budding leaves and fruits; taking insects to the air; trickling water. Millions of birds fly enormous distances every year to feed in Africa and escape the cold winter, and they need your support too. Click here for 10 reasons to get involved!

All along their migratory routes, children and adults are excitedly preparing for the arrival of birds with Spring Alive, an international project that launches its 2015 African season this week. Spring Alive is a BirdLife educational conservation initiative organised by OTOP (BirdLife in Poland) that encourages children to take action for the conservation of the migratory birds they learn about.

“At this time of year, people of Africa need to celebrate and care for their amazing migratory birds; and the people of Europe and Asia will return the favour next spring,”

says Karolina Kalinowska, Spring Alive Coordinator.

This year Spring Alive wants you to make your garden or balcony bird-friendly to help support tired birds on their magnificent migrations! We need you to spring to action and make bird boxes, bird feeders and look after your birds as they arrive. Spring Alive educational events and web pages teach children and adults how. With a record number of 6.4million people reached through Spring Alive this year, this is potentially a strong force for the celebration and care of migratory birds on the African-Eurasian flyway.

As well as the bird-friendly garden theme this year, every year by posting their first sightings of Barn Swallow, White Stork, Common Cuckoo, Common Swift, and European Bee-eater on the website, children from Europe, Central Asia and Africa create a real-time map of the incredible journeys these birds take every year. As well as by these migratory routes, Eurasian and African schools are also connected with matching initiatives like ‘Spring Twin’.

Migratory birds face threats from climate change including drought and mis-timing of the emergence of insects; agriculture; urbanisation; and hunting. With appreciation and support of local children and adults, hopefully these birds can find enough food and shelter to continue to return year after year.

Spring alive for birds! How you can get involved with Spring Alive in Africa this year:

  1. Check the Spring Alive events calendar and birds events map on the website to go to an event near you.
  2. Share in the wonder of birds with others from Europe to Asia to Africa. Share your photos of migratory birds, Spring Alive events, birds in your garden, and actions to make your gardens/balconies bird-friendly on the Spring Alive facebook page: Keep checking it for exciting photos and facts about the migratory species you can see, and tips on how to help them. 
  3. Get outside and take photos of migratory birds and birds in your garden as later this year we will be holding a photo competition on our flickr page:
  4. What would your ideal bird-friendly garden look like? Enter the “A Perfect Garden” drawing contest to show us and you could win a pair of binoculars, supplied by Opticron. Other prizes include a White Stork wall clock and bird book. Enter at
  5. Record your observations of Barn Swallow, White Stork, Common Cuckoo, Common Swift, and European Bee-eater on the website.

Spring Alive was successful in 2015 in Europe & Asia; now Africa it is your turn!

Spring Alive poster

  • Over 6.4 million people reached
  • 104 371 observations
  • 629 events held (333 outdoors, 296 indoors)
  • 55 conservation actions organised
  • At least 185 new members gained for BirdLife Partners
  • 10th anniversary of the European season of the project took place this year
  • Over 3,400 teachers helped children learn about Spring Alive species and the phenomenon of bird migration
  • 54,694 children and 13,113 adults directly engaged in Spring Alive
  • 455 volunteers directly involved in Spring Alive activities

Spring Alive is an international campaign to encourage children’s interest in nature and the conservation of migratory birds. Spring Alive is organised by OTOP, the BirdLife Partner in Poland, on behalf of the BirdLife Partnership. Wildlife groups, teachers and others who would like to become more involved in Spring Alive should contact the International Manager, Karolina Kalinowska, at

For more information go to:

Follow Spring Alive on Facebook, YouTube and flickr.

New golden jackal species discovery in Africa

This video says about itself:

DNA analysis: The African golden jackal is a WOLF

1 August 2015

Golden jackals of Africa and Eurasia are two distantly related species.

This is according to new DNA analysis carried on both of the lineages.

Lineage of new species split from that of gray wolves 1.3 million years ago.

The Eurasian golden jackal lineage split about 600,000 years earlier.

From Wildlife Extra:

New Golden Jackal species discovered

For the first time in 150 years a new canid species has been discovered in Africa, by scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

The Golden Jackal of Africa (Canis aureus) has long been considered the same species as the Golden Jackals distributed throughout Eurasia, with the nearest source populations in the Middle East.

However, recent research indicates that they are actually two different species and that some African Golden Jackals aligned more closely to Gray Wolves (Canis lupus).

This is surprising given the absence of Gray Wolves in Africa and the phenotypic divergence between the two species.

The DNA results of the study provide consistent and robust evidence that populations of Golden Jackals from Africa and Eurasia should be recognised as two separate and distinct species, and it has been suggested that the Eurasian species should be named Eurasian Golden Jackal.

Genome-wide Evidence Reveals that African and Eurasian Golden Jackals Are Distinct Species: here.