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.

Aardvark baby born at Dutch zoo


This video says about itself:

5 January 2015

As the sun sinks over the African savannah, a whole new set of animals sniff the breeze, emerging from their hiding places, ready to begin their day. The Aardvark is one such creature. Shy, secretive, and just plain bizarre, these seldom seen myrmecophages begin their nightly venture into the black night. Join us as we follow one of these mysterious earth movers on its nightly sojourn into the African wild.

A week ago, a baby aardvark was born in Burgers’ Zoo in Arnhem, the Netherlands. This happens only rarely. Media were told about it only today, because aardvarks often die during or just after birth.

Military bases, neocolonialism get out of Africa, film


This video is a film by Aziz Salmone Fall, saying about itself:

Africom go home, Foreign bases out of Africa

19 February 2014

AFRICOM GO HOME: No Foreign Bases in Africa is shot within the context of the fiftieth anniversary of the “Independence” of African states (OAS 1963-2013). It’s an anti-propaganda, not-for-profit film dedicated to raising public consciousness by opening up a space for discussion and building a sound information base drawn from archival records.

This documentary represents my views, and my views alone, on geopolitical challenges to both Africa and the wider world. The contents of this film can in no way be ascribed to GRILA or any of its members. It addresses Africa’s leaders, all PanAfricanists, internationalists and especially the African Youth caught up in the maelstrom of Africa’s place in the world.

AFRICOM GO HOME illuminates a vision of freedom that comes down from the mothers and fathers of panAfricanism.

This documentary takes a personal look at how events have evolved in the wake of the signing of the declaration “AFRICOM Go Home” by fifty or so organizations from Africa and Germany that are united in their opposition to the presence of AFRICOM on either African or German soil. The film is a combination of images filmed or taken off the WEB. However, the authors of those images are in no way responsible for the production or point of view of this film.

This video helps us to understand events arising out of the “AFRICOM Go Home” Declaration and what has been achieved since then.

It shines a spotlight on the history and evolution of imperialistic, neocolonial military forces within Africa over the last fifty years.

It unpacks AFRICOM and how it came into existence, what it means and provides a way of interpreting imperialist rivalries and ambitions on the continent, including why they spy on each other and exposing the contradictions that have surfaced in the “fight against terrorism”.

It articulates disbelief in claims of humanitarian goals by those who established AFRICOM for Africa after building a whole network of bases stretching as far as Germany.

It explores contradictions that also arise between Africans and within African organizations as they try to defend themselves within a context of conflicts tied to the pillage of their resources and the appropriation of their ancestral lands.

It examines the urgent need for panAfrican and internationalist resistance as well as the re-politicization of our Youth for future democracy.

The film follows President Obama when he visits Germany and Africa, highlighting the attitudes of various European, American and African presidents as well as AFRICOM’s military chiefs. There is also footage on some of the men and women who make up the opposition.

It takes stock of security policies on the continent, paying special attention to the influence of American neoconservatives and how regional power blocs are already putting some of their policies into practice.

AFRICOM GO HOME exposes the machinations of both imperialism and neo-colonialism and shows how they operate to coopt our elites and military leaders as well as civil society organizations. It paints a picture of the damage to which Africans are exposed when these bases take up residence in their midst.

Clearly, our local elites are no less responsible than their foreign bosses for [what] has evolved.

The film urges all parties to review those bases already cached on the African continent or encircling it as well as NATO‘s position, the vulnerability and tutelage of the African Union and the presence of a ravenous pack of emerging nations under the rubric of BRIC.

By way of explanation, this video mounts a hypothesis that takes note of the repatriation of Germany’s gold which had long been held captive by the US, France and the UK; the now dominant position of China in the global monetary system as well as the reasons why the base was launched so precipitously in Germany. It then goes on to provide reasons for the crisis unfolding in Mali.

This 3 May 2012 video is called AFRICOM and the Conflict in Mali. Nii Akuetteh: Why did US trained officers organize the coup in Mali?

This film unveils the AFRICOM base in Germany before the eyes of the world. In doing so, it also draws special attention to the heroic efforts of members of the public and parliamentary representatives belonging to the Linke Party and acknowledges their court action against AFRICOM’s drone strikes and targeted killings.

Beyond the security question, this video demonstrates that the crisis in capitalism as well as endemic under-development are fertile ground for culturalism, integrationism, populism and terrorism which are tools that can both create divisions across the continent and abort sovereignty.

AFRICOM and NATO have concocted formulas that they claim will protect Africa.

However, this film is an appeal for more self-determination and balance in Africa’s development. It calls for the reemergence of progressive wings of African states as well as a plan for accelerating panAfrican integration within the context of internationalism and a polycentric world that upholds all of humanity’s common “good”.

Spring Alive, migratory birds and children


This video is the film Winged Migration (2002).

From BirdLife:

10 reasons for your child to celebrate spring with Spring Alive

By Shaun Hurrell, Mon, 13/07/2015 – 07:40

It is Spring Alive’s anniversary, so we celebrate 10 big years of this amazing movement by giving 10 big reasons to celebrate the arrival of spring with migratory birds.

When we started Spring Alive, we aimed to educate children and adults about migratory birds and their plight. Now we also encourage people and especially young ones to act for the migratory birds they learn about and nature in general. With summer well-underway in Europe and Central Asia, the 2015 Spring Alive season has ended and we look forward to the start of the African season.

Ten reasons to celebrate spring with Spring Alive:

Spring Alive has grown into a popular movement!

73,032 children were directly engaged in Spring Alive in 2014. With a record number of 3.9 million people reached through Spring Alive in 2014, this is potentially a strong force for the celebration and care of migratory birds on the African-Eurasian flyway. …

Migratory birds encourage children to think big!

Recognizing the arrival of migratory birds also brings a broader understanding of nature, and when you notice the seasons more, you enjoy them more!

Some bird migrations are so huge, they are almost beyond comprehension. For local children, Spring Alive brings an opportunity to think globally.

Connection of the continents

Someone in Europe once said that when Swifts arrive in the Spring, they are really just on loan for a few months from Africa, where they spend most of the year. Like migratory birds, Spring Alive transcends country borders and encourages learning about other cultures. The Spring Twin initiative unites school classes in Europe and Africa together in the celebration of migratory birds.

Connection to nature!

There is a lot of growing evidence that children are negatively affected if they do not have a regular connection with nature and the outdoors. Spring Alive events encourage children to go outside, experience new things and appreciate the wildlife they see.

School is boring? You can’t say that about Spring Alive classes

Spring Alive not only contributes to the early education of young people about birds and nature, it makes children love their indoor and outdoor classes and keeps them connected with nature even when they grow up.

Spring Alive Bird TV is more interesting than television

With a live feed to White Stork chicks in Poland, and Swifts in Israel, Italy and England, we have seen a private insight into the real lives of migratory birds. Our video showing the special first moments the BirdLife Swifts were reunited after migration was very popular (over 3,700 views on facebook and YouTube).

Birds will thank you too

This year, Spring Alive encouraged people to make their gardens, schools or balconies bird-friendly to help support tired birds on their magnificent migrations! And there are so many other ways in which birds can be helped. …

It makes volunteers’ work even more worthwhile

Over 700 Spring Alive volunteers visited schools throughout Europe, Central Asia and Africa in 2014. The children’s shouts and smiles were great testament to their interest and how they enjoyed learning about the Spring Alive bird species and how to help them.

It is good for the planet too

Children with a connection to nature are much more likely to care for their environment as they grow into adults – helping support the biodiversity that supports their future. Children CAN make a change, let us show them how.

Here’s to another 10 years of Spring Alive to come!

Spring Alive poster

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 karolina.kalinowska@otop.org.pl

Follow Spring Alive on facebookYouTube and flickr.

Saharan silver ants survive 70 degrees centigrade


This video says about itself:

BBC Silver Desert Ant, Cataglyphis, Sahara Desert

19 feb. 2013

Clip from BBCs Africa, episode 5, Sahara 2013, narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Includes behind the scenes footage.

From Wildlife Extra:

How tiny Saharan Silver Ants stay alive in 70 degrees Centigrade

Researchers from the University of Zurich and the University of Washington have discovered two key strategies that enable Saharan silver ants to stay cool in one of the hottest terrestrial environments on Earth.

Saharan Silver Ants (Cataglyphis bombycina) forage in the Saharan Desert in the full midday sun when surface temperatures reach up to 70°C (158°F), and they must keep their body temperature below their critical thermal maximum of 53.6°C (128.48°F) most of the time.

In their wide-ranging foraging journeys, the ants search for corpses of insects and other arthropods that have succumbed to the thermally harsh desert conditions.

Being most active during the hottest moment of the day also allows these ants to avoid predatory desert lizards.

The project was initially triggered by speculation over whether the ants’ conspicuously silver coat was important in keeping them cool in the blistering heat.

Nanfang Yu, assistant professor of applied physics at Columbia Engineering, and his team found that the answer to this question was much broader once they realised the important role of infrared light in the ants’ protection.

They are the first people to demonstrate that the ants use a coat of uniquely shaped hairs to control electromagnetic waves over an extremely broad range – from the solar spectrum (the visible and near-infrared) to the thermal radiation spectrum (mid-infrared).

They have also identified in their paper, published in the US’s Science magazine, that different physical mechanisms are used in different spectral bands to realise the same biological function of reducing body temperature.

“This is a telling example of how evolution has triggered the adaptation of physical attributes to accomplish a physiological task and ensure survival, in this case to prevent Sahara Silver Ants from getting overheated,” Yu says.

“While there have been many studies of the physical optics of living systems in the ultraviolet and visible range of the spectrum, our understanding of the role of infrared light in their lives is much less advanced.

“Our study shows that light invisible to the human eye does not necessarily mean that it does not play a crucial role for living organisms.”

Their discovery that that there is a biological solution to a thermoregulatory problem could lead to the development of novel flat optical components that exhibit optimal cooling properties.

“Such biologically inspired cooling surfaces will have high reflectivity in the solar spectrum and high radiative efficiency in the thermal radiation spectrum,” Yu explains. “So this may generate useful applications such as a cooling surface for vehicles, buildings, instruments, and even clothing.”

Using electron microscopy and ion beam milling, Yu’s group discovered that the ants are covered on the top and sides of their bodies with a coating of uniquely shaped hairs with triangular cross-sections that keep them cool in two ways.

These hairs are highly reflective under the visible and near-infrared light, i.e., in the region of maximal solar radiation (the ants run at a speed of up to 0.7 meters per second and look like droplets of mercury on the desert surface).

The hairs are also highly emissive in the mid-infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, where they serve as an anti-reflection layer that enhances the ants’ ability to offload excess heat via thermal radiation which is emitted from their hot bodies into the cold sky.

This passive cooling effect works under the full sun whenever the insects are exposed to a clear sky.

“To appreciate the effect of thermal radiation, think of the chilly feeling when you get out of bed in the morning,” says Yu. “Half of the energy loss at that moment is due to thermal radiation since your skin temperature is temporarily much higher than that of the surrounding environment.”

The researchers found that the enhanced reflectivity in the solar spectrum and enhanced thermal radiative efficiency have comparable contributions to reducing the body temperature of silver ants by 5 to 10 degrees compared to if the ants were without the hair cover.

“The fact that these silver ants can manipulate electromagnetic waves over such a broad range of spectrum shows us just how complex the function of these seemingly simple biological organs of an insect can be,” observes Norman Nan Shi, lead author of the study and PhD student who works with Yu at Columbia Engineering.

Yu and Shi collaborated on the project with Rüdiger Wehner, professor at the Brain Research Institute, University of Zürich, Switzerland, and Gary Bernard, electrical engineering professor at the University of Washington, Seattle, who are renowned experts in the study of insect physiology and ecology.

Yu and his team now plan to extend their research to other animals and organisms living in extreme environments, trying to learn the strategies these creatures have developed to cope with harsh environmental conditions.

“Animals have evolved diverse strategies to perceive and utilise electromagnetic waves,” says Yu. “Deep sea fish have eyes that enable them to maneouver and prey in dark waters, butterflies create colours from nanostructures in their wings, honey bees can see and respond to ultraviolet signals, and fireflies use flash communication systems.

“Organs evolved for perceiving or controlling electromagnetic waves often surpass analogous man-made devices in both sophistication and efficiency.

“Understanding and harnessing natural design concepts deepens our knowledge of complex biological systems and inspires ideas for creating novel technologies.”

See also here.

Enchanted Kingdom, new wildlife film, review


This video is the trailer of the new film Enchanted Kingdom, aka Nature 3D. It is the first film in 3D by the BBC Earth filmmakers.

The theme of the film is wildlife in Africa, centred around water.

It was filmed in 13 African countries.

This is the first time ever that I went to a cinema and put 3D glasses on. They did enhance seeing the movie: an elephant‘s trunk seems to reach out to very close to the audience; there is more depth in mountain scenery; you see more clearly how various fish in a coral reef swim behind each other; etc.

Just after the beginning, a forest which exists because of rain water. Millions of army ants march through the rainforest, feeding on animals much bigger than the ants.

Then, a gorilla family.

Then, volcanism in Africa. It seems to make life impossible. However, at Lake Bogoria in Kenya, volcanism creates the right conditions for many lesser flamingoes to feed.

The movie continues to the almost waterless sandy desert in Namibia. And shows how snakes, lizards and insects adapt to that harsh environment. Much of this part of the film are macro lens recordings.

East of Namibia is Botswana. Also a rather dry country most of the time. Elephant herds have to migrate over long distances to find water at last. They have to be careful because of lion attacks.

Then, from an environment with little water to one of 100% water: a coral reef in the sea off Africa. Where hawksbill sea turtles, lionfish and many other animals live.

Then, to the highest level in Africa. Mountains of over 5,000 meter, like Mount Kenya. Near the top, water, especially during freezing nights, exists only in the form of snow or ice. Special plant species have adapted to these high altitude circumstances. So have gelada baboons in the Ethiopian highlands.

Eventually, the ice melts, and forms rivers which get bigger and bigger. Pied kingfishers dive for fish into these rivers. During their long migration to Maasai Mara in Kenya, wildebeest follow the water of the rain. They have to cross river water, where Nile crocodiles which have not eaten for a year may attack them.

This is a really good film. One of the good sides is that, contrary to the film Earth by the same filmmakers, and contrary to some other good wildlife films, the film Enchanted Kingdom does not have on screen greenwash propaganda for polluting corporate sponsors.