African pangolins, documentary film


This 2019 video says about itself:

Eye of the Pangolin is the story of two men on a mission to share the wonder of all four species of African pangolin on camera for the first time ever.

Follow their extraordinary journey to remote locations on the African continent, from arid savannah to exotic jungles. Become captivated by these extraordinary creatures as the filmmakers meet the people who are caring for and studying pangolins in a desperate attempt to save them from being poached and traded into extinction.

Filmed in Ultra High Definition, this ambitious documentary is freely available online for commercial-free viewing.

Our goal at Pangolin.Africa is to make Eye Of The Pangolin one of the most widely watched wildlife documentaries ever. If enough people learn to care for this animal, there is a chance that it can be saved. So please share this film with everyone you believe will be touched by this magical creature. If we don’t do something now, the illegal wildlife trade to the east will ensure that pangolins will disappear from the planet within the next 10-20 years.

The film is directed and narrated by Bruce Young, co-director of the award-winning Blood Lions documentary.

Due to the sensitive nature of some of the content on the film, we would recommend an age limit of 13 years or younger.

Copyright ©2019 Pangolin Africa NPC. All rights reserved

Giraffe conservation, new research


This 2018 video says about itself:

How fast do baby giraffes grow? How many vertebrae are in that long neck? A truly unique species, giraffes are found only in sub-Saharan Africa and can reach unbelievable heights. Learn surprising giraffe facts, such as why they need such enormous hearts and how they get by on less than thirty minutes of sleep each day.

From Penn State University in the USA

Improving success of giraffe translocations

March 19, 2020

Giraffes that are being translocated for conservation purposes should be moved in groups that contain at least 30 females and 3 males to ensure long-term population success. In two new studies, an international team of researchers identifies the ideal composition of a group to be moved and provides guidelines for all aspects of the translocation process, including decision-making and planning, transportation and monitoring of animals, and evaluation of success.

Giraffe populations declined by 40% between 1985 and 2015, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. This led the IUCN to classify the species as vulnerable — likely to become endangered unless circumstances change — and some subspecies as endangered — likely to become extinct in the immediate future.

“Translocations have been used as a conservation strategy to establish new populations, augment small or declining populations, or re-introduce the species to previously occupied areas,” said Derek E. Lee, associate research professor of biology at Penn State and leader of the research team. “Translocations could be an important conservation tool for giraffes, but until now, there has been little guidance about how best to plan, implement, or report them.”

The researchers used a modeling technique called a population viability analysis to determine the ideal size and sex distribution of a newly established population. They simulated a variety of scenarios to project long-term viability and genetic diversity — which can buffer a population against disease and environmental change — of founding populations. The researchers deemed a translocation scenario a success if there was a 95% probability that the population continued for 100 years while maintaining most of the original genetic diversity. They report their results in a paper published Feb. 27 in the journal Endangered Species Research.

A founding population of 30 females and 3 males resulted in long-term population viability, but to maintain more than 95% of the genetic diversity of the source population, groups of 50 females and 5 males are recommended. More females are required than males, because females, unlike males, provide care to young and are an important element of giraffe social structure.

“Small numbers of founders with fewer than ten females can appear to be successful in the first decades due to short-term population growth, but are not successful in the long-term,” said Lee. “Small groups can suffer from inbreeding depression, and they are more likely to lose genetic diversity due to random events in the first years after translocation.”

Because giraffes are physically difficult to move, they are often translocated as juveniles, which have higher rates of mortality than adults. A larger founding population can also buffer against the loss of young individuals.

“Most giraffe translocations in the past have moved too few animals to ensure the successful establishment of new population,” said Lee. “Our recommendation of 30 to 50 females should greatly increase the success rate of future translocations that adhere to these rules.”

The researchers provide additional guidelines about the translocation process in a paper published March 2 in the African Journal of Ecology. They reviewed documented cases of giraffe translocation and considered published accounts of giraffe biology and ecology as well as their personal experience.

The researchers describe how to set translocation goals and assess risk, including to the giraffes being moved, to the source population whose numbers are being reduced, and to other species — including humans — in the area of introduction. They explore how to select individuals and assess suitability of the new site and discuss how to transport animals, which the researchers stress should be performed by experts.

“Ongoing monitoring of the translocated population, adaptive management of the population, and documentation of the entire translocation process are also crucial, both for long-term success of the population and to improve future efforts,” said Lee.

Black and green African mamba snakes


This 8 March 2020 video says about itself:

Mambas are the most feared snakes of Africa. People think that they can chase people and try to bite them. However, when it comes to snakebites, there are other snakes, like cobras and puff adders, which are responsible for most cases. Watch this video, to actually see, how beautiful are mambas. You will see 3 species in the wild:

Black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis)
Jameson’s mamba (Dendroaspis jamesoni)
Eastern Green mamba (Dendroaspis angusticeps)

This 2018 video is about a Jameson’s mamba in Uganda.

Hungry leopardess risks death by stealing food


This 26 February 2020 video from Africa says about itself:

A Leopard Risks Her Life to Steal Food

A female leopard is risking life and limb by trying to steal food from another, male, leopard. One wrong move and the male, a third bigger than she is, could make her pay.

How African turquoise killifish stop aging


This 20 February 2020 video says about itself:

African killifish embryos enter suspended animation to survive

To survive parched pond beds during months-long dry seasons in countries like Zimbabwe and Mozambique, the African turquoise killifish (Nothobranchius furzeri) does something usually reserved for the realm of sci-fi: its embryos enter suspended animation.

For about five to six months, this killifish, roughly the size of your thumb, puts most of its embryo’s critical body processes—including muscle and nerve cell growth—on hold. The state, scientifically known as diapause, prevents the embryos from needing critical resources when none are available in its environment. It’s an extreme survival technique, but one that, surprisingly, has no negative effects on the lifespan of a fully developed adult, researchers report in Science on Feb. 21.

This video compares the embryos and lifespans of killifish who either experienced or skipped diapause, capturing time-lapses and detailed snapshots of their embryonic development. According to the researchers, these discoveries could illuminate unknown mechanisms to preserve cells and, perhaps, methods to combat aging and age-related diseases in humans.

By Erin Garcia de Jesus, February 20, 2020 at 2:13 pm:

How African turquoise killifish press the pause button on aging

The fish can double their life span by temporarily halting cell and organ growth while embryos

When the ponds where one African fish lives dry up, its offspring put their lives on pause. And now researchers have a sense for how the creatures do it.

African turquoise killifish embryos can halt their development during a state of suspended activity called diapause. Now a study shows that the embryos effectively don’t age while in that state. Genetic analyses reveal that, to stay frozen in time, the embryos put functions such as cell growth and organ development on hold, researchers report in the Feb. 21 Science.

“Nature has identified ways to pause the clock,” says Anne Brunet, a geneticist Stanford University. Knowing how killifish pause their lives could help scientists figure out how to treat aging-related diseases or learn how to preserve human organs long-term, she says.

Nematode worm larvae (Caenorhabditis elegans) can also halt development and aging when faced with a lack of food or if their environment is overcrowded. Invertebrates like nematodes, however, lack many of the features that make other animals age, such as an adaptive immune system. More than 130 species of mammals from mice to bears also have some form of diapause.

The killifish (Nothobranchius furzeri) live in ponds in Mozambique and Zimbabwe that disappear for months during the dry season, leaving the fish without a home until the rain returns (SN: 8/6/18). For adults that typically live only four to six months anyway, vanishing ponds don’t pose much of a threat. But some killifish embryos press pause on their development during dry months, until ponds fill up again.

Killifish embryos can put their growth on hold from five months up to two years, matching or even greatly exceeding their typical adult life span. If humans could do something similar, an 80-year-old person might instead have a life span from 160 to more than 400 years, Brunet says. But if, or how, these animals protect themselves from aging while in this limbo was unknown.

In the study, Brunet and her colleagues compared killifish embryos that halted their growth with those that bypassed diapause and hatched into adults. Diapause didn’t decrease an adult fish’s growth, life span or ability to reproduce — a sign that the animal didn’t age, even if it paused its development for longer than its typical lifetime, the researchers found.

The team then analyzed the genetic blueprint of embryos suspended in diapause to determine which genes were active. Although the young killifish had developing muscles, hearts and brains before diapause, genes involved in organ development and cell proliferation were subsequently turned off. But other genes were cranked up, such as some crucial for turning other sets of genes on or off.

One gene, the chromobox 7 gene, or CBX7, repressed genes involved in metabolism, but turned on those important for maintaining muscle and staying in diapause, the researchers found. Embryos without CBX7 came out of diapause sooner, and their muscles began to deteriorate after one month.

The new study shows that the embryos aren’t passively waiting for better environmental conditions — their cells coordinate responses during diapause that protect killifish from the passage of time. “We have always looked at this diapause state as more passive — nothing happens there,” says Christoph Englert, a molecular geneticist at the Leibniz Institute on Aging in Jena, Germany, who wasn’t involved in the work. But the new research “shifts the paradigm of diapause as a passive, boring state to an active state of embryonic nondevelopment.”

Researchers aren’t sure how things like temperature might spark a developing killifish to begin or end diapause. But understanding what’s going on inside an embryo is a step toward pinpointing how external signals might control when the animals suspend time, Englert says.