Leopard versus lioness in Namibia


This 11 February 2020 video says about itself:

Leopard Walks Right into a Lion

Watch this incredible moment when an inquisitive & opportunistic lioness sets her eyes on what she decides could be an easy catch.

24-Year-old French biologist and freelance safari guide, Valentin Lavis, was at the perfect spot at just the right time when he caught this rare sighting on video.

He was on an 18-day private safari in Namibia where he and his guests spent the remainder of their trip in the Etosha National Park.

Valentin tells latestsightings.com the story:

“I was guiding an 18-day private safari with 2 clients for a honeymoon. We spent the first 12 days around the country visiting amazing landscapes and a bit of wildlife. My guests were super excited for Etosha National Park and so we spent the remaining 5 nights in the park with a safari every day.”

“We entered the park around midday and made our way to Olifantsrus campsite for the 1st night. We had some great sightings while on safari, but this afternoon was definitely one of the best in my life. It started with an elephant herd crossing in front of us, a tower of giraffes drinking with a honey badger having a mud bath in the middle and at around 5pm I decided to check one last waterhole before heading toward the camp to watch the sunset at the hide.”

“One of the reasons I love this part of Etosha is because it is very quiet and you can often have a sighting just for yourself without being disturbed. There was one vehicle parked next to the water, we started to approach slowly and one of my guests said ‘Lioness!’ Indeed it was! A beautiful lioness was sitting in the open not too far from the water. I soon spotted another animal drinking at the waterhole but it looked way smaller than the lioness… A leopard!!!”

“I quickly positioned the 4×4 to provide a good visual for my guests and waited for the confrontation to happen. It took mere seconds when the lioness started stalking the young female leopard who wasn’t even aware of the lioness’s presence at all! We all tensed up and waited, preparing ourselves for the dramatic but truly wild moment that had to follow, and realized that we are the only few people on earth who will experience this right as it happened.”

“My guests had their cameras ready, and, I too, started to film as steadily as possible while trying to contain my emotions. This was incredibly exciting! The lioness stalked quietly, waiting to get close enough to the leopardess before launching, but as her excitement built up, the leopardess noticed movement and became more than aware of her fate. For a moment, the two stared at each other and the lioness launched as the leopardess turned and speedily ran off into the thicket. After missing her chance, the lioness returned toward the Mopani thickets where she was lying at first. “

“I tried to follow the tracks of the leopardess who disappeared after the attack to try and find where she had run off to, we went toward the main gravel road and my client once again spotted her, she was up in a very uncomfortable thorny bush, completely terrified and alert. We stuck around for an hour or so to see if she would finally calm down and come back down from the tree. Sadly she only came about halfway down the tree when it was time for us to return to camp as the gates were about to close. All bush lovers can confirm: it’s always like this on safari!”

Rare brown hyenas in Namibian ghost town


This 5 December 2019 video from Namibia says about itself:

This Ghost Town Is Home To Africa’s Rarest Predator | BBC Earth

This elusive brown hyena has made a home in the ruins in the Namib Desert. She’s raised nine generations of cubs, can she provide for her current brood in the most hostile country on the planet?

Carboniferous ice age geology of Namibia


This 2015 video says about itself:

The “Karoo Ice Age” from 360–260 million years ago was the second major ice age of the Phanerozoic Eon. It is named after the tillite found in the Karoo region of South Africa, where evidence for this ice age was first clearly identified in the 19th century.

From West Virginia University in the USA:

Researcher unearths an ice age in the African desert

February 4, 2019

A field trip to Namibia to study volcanic rocks led to an unexpected discovery by West Virginia University geologists Graham Andrews and Sarah Brown.

While exploring the desert country in southern Africa, they stumbled upon a peculiar land formation — flat desert scattered with hundreds of long, steep hills. They quickly realized the bumpy landscape was shaped by drumlins, a type of hill often found in places once covered in glaciers, an abnormal characteristic for desert landscapes.

“We quickly realized what we were looking at because we both grew up in areas of the world that had been under glaciers, me in Northern Ireland and Sarah in northern Illinois,” said Andrews, an assistant professor of geology. “It’s not like anything we see in West Virginia where we’re used to flat areas and then gorges and steep-sided valleys down into hollows.”

After returning home from the trip, Andrews began researching the origins of the Namibian drumlins, only to learn they had never been studied.

“The last rocks we were shown on the trip are from a time period when southern Africa was covered by ice,” Andrews said. “People obviously knew that part of the world had been covered in ice at one time, but no one had ever mentioned anything about how the drumlins formed or that they were even there at all.”

Andrews teamed up with WVU geology senior Andy McGrady to use morphometrics, or measurements of shapes, to determine if the drumlins showed any patterns that would reflect regular behaviors as the ice carved them.

While normal glaciers have sequential patterns of growing and melting, they do not move much, Andrews explained. However, they determined that the drumlins featured large grooves, which showed that the ice had to be moving at a fast pace to carve the grooves.

These grooves demonstrated the first evidence of an ice stream in southern Africa in the late Paleozoic Age, which occurred about 300 million years ago.

“The ice carved big, long grooves in the rock as it moved,” Andrews said. “It wasn’t just that there was ice there, but there was an ice stream. It was an area where the ice was really moving fast.”

McGrady used freely available information from Google Earth and Google Maps to measure their length, width and height.

“This work is very important because not much has been published on these glacial features in Namibia,” said McGrady, a senior geology student from Hamlin. “It’s interesting to think that this was pioneer work in a sense, that this is one of the first papers to cover the characteristics of these features and gives some insight into how they were formed.”

Their findings also confirm that southern Africa was located over the South Pole during this period.

“These features provide yet another tie between southern Africa and south America to show they were once joined,” Andrews said.

The study, “First description of subglacial megalineations from the late Paleozoic ice age in southern Africa” is published in the Public Library of Science’s PLOS ONE journal.

“This is a great example of a fundamental discovery and new insights into the climatic history of our world that remain to be discovered,” said Tim Carr, chair of the Department of Geology and Geography.

Namibian honey badger stands up to lion


This 23 July 2018 video from Namibia says about itself:

Fearless honey badger

Male lion sneaks up on a honey badger but the little guy surprises the male lion and stands his ground and manages to escape. Filmed near Halali, Etosha. Credits via Heiko Denker.

What female and male leopards eat


This video is called Leopard Documentary – National Geographic Eye of the Leopard.

By Forschungsverbund Berlin in Germany:

Leopard meals: Females go for diversity

Female leopards have a much wider spectrum of prey species than males

May 8, 2018

Leopards, top predators of the African savannah, are known to feed on a variety of prey species. These include smaller and medium-sized mammals such as impala, gemsbok, kudus and warthogs but they can also target relatively small “appetizers” such as hares.

It has been largely unknown, however, whether they specialise in certain prey animals and which factors might influence prey preferences. Christian Voigt and his colleagues from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) in Berlin investigated these questions by studying the diet of leopards on commercial farmland in central Namibia.

Leopards avoid humans and it is difficult to observe them when they catch their prey. The team of scientists, therefore, chose an indirect method: they measured the composition of stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen in leopard whiskers. The tissue of prey animals consists of specific isotopes of an element which is characteristic for that prey species. Once leopards consumed their prey, the isotope composition of the prey is assimilated into the leopard‘s body, including their whiskers, according to the relative abundance in the overall diet. This allows conclusions about the main diet of each leopard and the variety of items it might have consumed.

While the leopards were sedated to facilitate GPS collaring and examination of their health, the researchers cut off one whisker from each of the 18 adult female and 18 male animals. Back in the laboratory the hair was then cut into 5 mm segments and analyzed on stable isotope ratios. As the whiskers of leopards grow at a rate of approximately 0.65 mm per day, each segment therefore corresponds to a period of approximately eight days. The 8 to 10 cm long whiskers allowed the scientists to look back on approximately 150 days of the “feeding history” of each animal.

Voigt, the lead author of the study, and his colleagues identified prey groups with similar isotopic composition based on the ratio of the rare and common stable isotopes of the elements carbon and nitrogen (?13C and ?15N). “The females used a significantly wider isotope food niche than males”, explains Voigt, head of the stable isotope laboratory at Leibniz-IZW. The scientists suggest that one of the reasons for this result lies in the size differences between the sexes: female leopards, at 34 kg on average, are substantially smaller and weigh less than their male counterparts at up to 58 kg. Females need less energy owing to their lower body weight, but are also restricted in their movements when rearing young cubs, which they do on their own. “The females cannot specialize on certain prey species because the abundance of these prey species would decrease over time and access to them would become more difficult in their restricted home range when rearing cubs. They therefore need to feed on a wider range of, by necessity then smaller, prey species”, says Jörg Melzheimer, ecologist at the Leibniz-IZW and initiator of the study. The males, on the contrary, have large home ranges, thus more options and specialize on a relatively small number of prey species.

In central Namibia leopards are currently spreading and increase in numbers on commercial farmland. At the same time the local population of cheetahs is apparently declining. “Whether there is a correlation between these two trends is currently unknown. However, it is known that lions, spotted hyenas and also leopards sometimes chase cheetahs away when encountered or even kill them”, explains Bettina Wachter, lead scientist of the cheetah research project of the Leibniz-IZW.

The current study is based on a previous study of the cheetah research project. “In cheetahs, we also documented a high specialization in certain prey groups, but no difference in the diet between the sexes”, Voigt explains. Unlike leopards, cheetah females are quite similar in body size to males.

The expansion of leopards in central Namibia might lead to new conflicts with local farmers. They are likely to persecute these charismatic big cats if they lose an increasing number of their livestock. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the diet of leopards and to develop solutions for potential conflicts in close cooperation with farmers.

Antlion in Namibia, video


This video, recorded in Namibia, says about itself:

Antlion Cone Death Trap – The Hunt – BBC Earth

19 July 2017

In the Namib desert where the sands can reach a scorching 70 degrees centigrade, very little is able to survive, but the Hotrod Ant can amazingly thrive and even forage for food. In this tense encounter an unsuspecting Hotrod Ant has strayed in antlion territory and faces the ultimate test of survival.

Albatross conservation update


This video says about itself:

World’s Largest Albatross Colony – Blue Planet – BBC Earth

30 January 2017

Black browed Albatross feast on the fish that live in the nutrient rich and stormy South Atlantic seas off the coast of the Falklands.

From BirdLife:

22 June 2017

How we’re saving the kings of the ocean

By Stephanie Winnard

It has been another busy year for the Albatross Task Force, and our teams have made good progress in reducing the bycatch of vulnerable seabirds in some of the world’s most deadly fisheries. We sum up one year of successes below and in our full annual report.

Albatrosses are one of the most threatened groups of birds in the world, with 15 of 22 species currently at risk of extinction. One of the major causes of their decline is being caught accidentally as bycatch on baited longline hooks or struck by trawl cables and dragged under the water.

Horrifyingly it’s estimated that around 100,000 albatross die every year in longline and trawl fisheries around the globe. For birds that are long-lived yet slow to breed, these deaths have lead to huge population declines with some colonies having halved in size since the 1990’s.

To combat these needless deaths the Albatross Task Force was set up in 2006 to find solutions to this problem, and work with fisheries and governments to save the albatross. Over the last 12 months the team has made good progress towards saving vulnerable seabirds in some of the world’s most deadly fisheries, the details of which are in our new report.

8/10 of our high priority fisheries now have regulations in place to protect seabirds, following an announcement from Argentina that seabird regulations are to be introduced by May 2018 that will require trawlers to use bird-scaring lines.

The benefit for seabirds in Argentina will be huge, as the main trawl fleet is responsible for the death of 13,500 black-browed albatross per year, an impact we expect to reduce by over 85% based on our experimental results.

Across the Atlantic in Namibia, since seabird regulations came into force there, 100% of trawl and demersal longline vessels have now been provisioned with bird-scaring lines, constructed through our collaboration with a local women’s group, Meme Itumbapo.

By next year we hope to show that Namibia has achieved significant bycatch reductions similar to South Africa where we documented a 99% reduction in albatross deaths in the trawl fishery following the introduction of bird-scaring lines. This will be a major win for albatross, as our estimates for the two Namibian fleets suggest in excess of 25,000 seabirds were previously killed annually.

Our work in small scale fisheries has also leapt forward over the last 12 months; in Chile we have shown that modifications to purse-seine net design has the potential to reduce shearwater bycatch massively, and in Peru trials of net lights have virtually eliminated bycatch of not just seabirds, but also turtles and marine mammals.

This is all hugely exciting as no mitigation measures previously existed for these types of fisheries.

All of these successes have only been possible due to the collaborative efforts between our in country partners, the RSPB and BirdLife International, plus generous funding from RSPB membership, external sponsors and many kind individual donations.

We are extremely thankful for the continued support we receive, without which we wouldn’t be able to keep up the fight to save the albatross.