Cheetahs in Kenya, Africa, video


This 4 December 2019 video from Kenya says about itself:

Spotting A Rare Group of 8 Cheetah! | Seven Worlds, One Planet | BBC Earth

It’s rare enough to see one cheetah in the Masai Mara, so the Seven Worlds crew were ecstatic when they spotted a group of eight!

Vulturine guineafowl complex societies, new research


This 17 September 2019 video from Kenya says about itself:

Paula Kahumbu joins Wildlife Warrior Brendah Nyaguthii at Mpala Research Centre, to learn about the vulturine guinea fowls.

a href=”https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191104112811.htm”>From the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft in Germany:

Complex society discovered in birds

November 4, 2019

Multilevel societies have, until now, only been known to exist among large-brained mammals including humans, other primates, elephants, giraffes, and dolphins. Now, scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior and the University of Konstanz report the existence of a multilevel society in a small-brained bird, the vulturine guineafowl (Acryllium vulturinum). The study, published in Current Biology, suggests that the birds can keep track of social associations with hundreds of other individuals — challenging the notion that large brains are a requirement for complex societies and providing a clue as to how these societies evolved.

Multilevel societies occur when social units, such as pairs, of animals form groups that have stable membership, and these groups then associate preferentially with specific other groups. Because this requires the animals to keep track of individuals in both their own and other groups, the assumption has long been that multilevel societies should only exist in species with the intelligence to cope with this complexity. While many bird species live in groups, these are either open, lacking long-term stability, or highly territorial, lacking associations with other groups.

Vulturine guineafowl, however, present a striking exception: the researchers observed these birds, that are from an ancient lineage resembling dinosaurs more than birds, behaving highly cohesively without exhibiting the signature intergroup aggression that is common in other group-living birds. And they can manage this despite having a relatively small brain, even relative to other birds. “They seemed to have the right elements to form complex social structures, and yet nothing was known about them,” says Danai Papageorgiou, lead author on the paper and a PhD student at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior.

The study, which is the first ever conducted on the species, involved tracking social relationships over the course of multiple seasons in a population of over 400 adult birds in a field site in Kenya. The researchers individually marked all birds in the population, and by observing them they discovered that the population comprised 18 distinct social groups (with 13 to 65 individuals in each). What struck the researchers is that these groups remained stable, despite regularly overlapping with one or more other groups both during the day and at night-time roosts. To see if these groups preferentially associated with one another, the researchers attached GPS tags to a sample of individuals in each group. This meant that the position of every single group was recorded continuously each day, which allowed researchers to simultaneously observe how all 18 groups in the population were interacting. The researchers found that groups associated with each other based on preference, rather than random encounters, and also showed that intergroup associations were more likely to take place during specific seasons and around particular physical features in the landscape.

“To our knowledge, this is the first time a social structure like this has been described for birds,” says Papageorgiou. “It is remarkable to observe hundreds of birds coming out of a roost and splitting up perfectly into completely stable groups every single day. How do they do that? It’s obviously not just about being smart.”

Despite being understudied, guineafowl have challenged our understanding of how sociality has evolved. “This discovery raises a lot of questions about the mechanisms underlying complex societies and has opened up exciting possibilities of exploring what is it about this bird that has made them evolve a social system that is in many ways more comparable to a primate than to other birds,” says Damien Farine, senior author on the paper and a Principal Investigator at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior and the Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour at the University of Konstanz.

But, vulturine guineafowl hold some important clues about how complex societies might have evolved. “Many examples of multilevel societies — primates, elephants and giraffes — might have evolved under similar ecological conditions as vulturine guineafowl,” says Farine.

Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge’s under-2-hours world marathon record


This 12 October 2019 Kenyan TV video, recorded in Vienna, Austria, says about itself:

Breaking history as #EliudKipchoge, world’s greatest marathoner, becomes the first human to run a marathon in under 2 hours.

Kipchoge finished in 1:59:40.

African bats studied with satellite tags


This 2016 video says about itself:

Yellow Winged Bat (Lavia frons)

The beautiful Yellow Winged Bat. Common across East and West Africa in woodlands.

From the University of Helsinki in Finland:

Tiny GPS backpacks uncover the secret life of desert bats

August 16, 2019

A new study from the University of Helsinki using miniaturized satellite-based tags revealed that during drier periods desert bats must fly further and longer to fulfil their nightly needs. According to researchers this signals their struggle in facing dry periods.

Wildlife tracking has revolutionized the study of animal movement and their behavior. Yet, tracking small, flying animals such as desert bats remained challenging. Now a new generation of miniaturized satellite-based tags is allowing unique insights into the life of these mysterious mammals.

Researchers used 1 g GPS devices to reconstruct the movements of yellow-winged bats, one of two false vampire bats occurring in Africa and one of the few desert bats large enough to carrying this innovative technology. “GPS tags have seen up to now a limited use with insectivorous bats due to weight constraints and low success in data collection — we achieved great results in tracking such a light species,” says Irene Conenna, a PhD candidate at the University of Helsinki and the lead author of the study.

Future under the changing climate?

“Bats are some of the most successful desert mammals. Powered flight allows them to efficiently track scarce resources and their nocturnal lifestyle buffers them from the baking sun. However, they still struggle to find enough resources during the drier periods of the year,” says Ricardo Rocha, one of the co-authors of the paper.

The study was conducted in Sibiloi National Park, Northern Kenya, along the shores of Lake Turkana, the world’s largest desert lake. Researchers placed GPS loggers in 29 bats, 15 in the rainy season and 14 in the dry and, for one week. Their whereabouts were recorded every 30 to 60 minutes every night. This revealed that during dry periods bats used larger home ranges and had extended activity periods, potentially to compensate for a shortage in food resources.

Bats comprise roughly one fifth of all mammal species and deserts are home to over 150 bat species. They display wide variation in morphology, foraging behavior, and habitat use, making them an excellent indicator group for assessing how species respond to changes in their habitats. “The responses exhibited by bats offer important insights into the responses of other taxonomic groups,” explains Conenna. “These new miniaturized satellite-based tags now allow us to better understand how increased aridity affects bats foraging efficiency, leading us one step forward to understanding limits in aridity tolerance and impacts of climate change,” adds Conenna.

Deserts around the world are getting warmer and as they warm desert creatures need to cope with even harsher conditions. “Understanding how animals cope with seasonal changes is key to understand how they might react to the challenges in the horizon. New technological devices, such as miniaturized satellite-based loggers, go a long way to help us in this task”, adds Mar Cabeza, senior author of the study, University of Helsinki.

Masai Mara animals’ friendships, new research


This 2016 video says about itself:

Masai Mara – safari adventure in a wildlife paradise – Predators, big herds and wildebeest migration

The Masai Mara is one of the best-known nature reserves in Africa. The area is famous particularly for the concentration of predators. The film shows the life of a mother cheetah with her cubs and a pride of lions. But also the migration of large herds of wildebeests and zebras with the crossing of the Mara River attracts visitors in its spell.

From the University of Liverpool in England:

Animal friendships ‘change with the weather’ in the Masai Mara

July 31, 2019

When it comes to choosing which other species to hang out with, wild animals quite literally change their minds with the weather, a new University of Liverpool study reveals.

The findings, which are published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, could help conservationists better predict the risk of extinction faced by endangered species.

“In the wild, a species always exists as part of a community of other species, which affect its survival. These interactions are crucial when it comes to predicting extinction risk: if we focus only on single species in isolation we may get it very wrong,” explains the leader of the research team, Dr Jakob Bro-Jørgensen.

In this study the researchers aimed to uncover if species alter their preference for different social partners when their environment changes — a central question to forecast how current environmental changes caused by humans are likely to affect animal populations and communities.

Over a year, they followed the distribution in space and time of a dozen species inhabiting the Masai Mara plains in East Africa, including buffaloes, giraffes, zebras, antelopes, ostriches and warthogs, to see how the strength of social attraction within individual species pairs changed between the wet and dry season.

All of the savannah herbivore species underwent seasonal changes when it came to their social groupings, with rainfall affecting half of all the possible species pairs.

The researchers suggest that this could be due to a number of reasons, including species migration, climate adaption and feeding preferences. For example, the presence of migrating wildebeest during the dry season may provide a welcome social partner for some, like zebra, but be avoided by others, like buffalo, while arid-adapted species, such as gazelles, ostrich and warthog, may group together during the dry season but separate during the wet season.

“Our study shows that the dramatic changes that humans are causing to the environment at present, be it through climate change, overhunting or habitat fragmentation, will likely create indirect consequences by changing the dynamics of ecological communities,” says Dr Bro-Jørgensen.

“This can cause unexpected declines in species if critical bonds with other species are broken. A particular concern is when animals find themselves in novel conditions outside the range which they have been shaped by evolution to cope with,” he adds.

Following on from this study, the researchers now plan to investigate how predation and feeding strategies interact to drive the formation of mixed-species groups.

For four years, a team of zoologists from the universities of Liverpool and York has been studying the formation of mixed groups of herbivore species on the African savannahs in Masai Mara, Kenya. Their findings, published in Ecology Letters, show that herbivores seek out the company of species with the most informative alarm calls who can alert them to the threat of nearby predators: here.