See also here.
This video says about itself:
World-first: A genet rides a black rhino
21 July 2015
Rhino Africa donated their awesome multimedia team’s time to put this video together.
See also here.
For those interested in the mechanics of the proposed RAPID rhino-cam to photo rhino poachers, see this paper.
This video is called Wild Botswana: Lion Brotherhood HD Documentary.
From daily The Guardian in Britain:
Seven big cats will be taken from South Africa to Akagera national park, where lion population was wiped out, in major conservation project
David Smith in Johannesburg
Sunday 28 June 2015 16.00 BST
Seven lions in South Africa are to be tranquillised, placed in steel crates and loaded on to a charter flight to Rwanda on Monday, restoring the predator to the east African country after a 15-year absence.
Cattle herders poisoned Rwanda’s last remaining lions after parks were left unmanaged and occupied by displaced people in the wake of the 1994 genocide, according to the conservation group African Parks, which is organising the repopulation drive.
It said two parks in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province with “relatively small, confined reserves where it is necessary to remove surplus lions” are donating the big cats to Rwanda. The seven – five females and two males – were chosen based on future reproductive potential and their ability to contribute to social cohesion, including a mix of ages and genetic makeup.
From Monday they will be transferred to Akagera national park in north-east Rwanda by truck and plane in a journey lasting about 26 hours. African Parks said: “They will be continually monitored by a veterinary team with experience in translocations. They will be kept tranquillised to reduce any stress and will have access to fresh water throughout their journey.”
Upon arrival at the 112,000-hectare park, which borders Tanzania, the lions will be kept in quarantine in a specially-erected 1,000m² enclosure with an electrified fence for at least two weeks before they are released into the wild.
The park is fenced, but the lions will be equipped with satellite collars to reduce the risk of them straying into inhabited areas. African Parks said: “The collars have a two-year life, by which time the park team will have evaluated the pride dynamics and only the dominant individuals in each pride will be re-collared.”
As a wildlife tourist destination, Rwanda is best known for its gorilla tracking safaris. But Akagera, a two-hour drive from the capital, Kigali, is home to various antelope species, buffaloes, giraffes and zebras, as well as elephants and leopards. It attracted 28,000 visitors in 2014.
Last year, as part of the preparations for the reintroduction, the Akagera team ran a sensitisation programme in communities surrounding the park to promote harmonious co-existence with lions.
Yamina Karitanyi, the head of tourism at the Rwanda Development Board, said: “It is a breakthrough in the rehabilitation of the park … Their return will encourage the natural balance of the ecosystem and enhance the tourism product to further contribute to Rwanda’s status as an all-in-one safari destination.”
The International Union for Conservation of Nature listed the lion as vulnerable in an update this month of its red list of species facing survival threats. It noted lion conservation successes in southern Africa, but said lions in west Africa were critically endangered and rapid population declines were also being recorded in east Africa.
African Parks cited human encroachment on lion habitats and a decline in lion prey as reasons for the population drop. It identified a trade in lion bones and other body parts for traditional medicine in Africa, as well as Asia, as a growing threat.
Peter Fearnhead, the chief executive of African Parks, which manages Akagera and seven other national parks on the continent, said: “The return of lions to Akagera is a conservation milestone for the park and the country.”
See also here.
Apparently Rwanda plans to reintroduce black rhino as well as lions to Akagera NP this year, to have the “big five”: here.
KILLER OF CECIL THE LION IDENTIFIED “An American dentist with an affinity for killing rare wildlife using a bow and arrow has been identified as the man who shot and killed Zimbabwe’s most famous lion earlier this month, local officials claim.” The Internet backlash has been swift. [HuffPost]
This is a Knysna turaco video from South Africa.
Range expansion of non-native Acacia species: Acacia cyclops and birds
8th June 2015
Are native bird species responsible for dispersing non-native plant seeds?
University of Cape Town
The potential for birds to disperse the seeds of Acacia cyclops, an invasive non-native plant in South Africa. Thabiso M. Mokotjomela, John H. Hoffmann & Colleen T. Downs. 2015.
IBIS. DOI: 10.1111/ibi.12260.
For the first time, seed-eating doves are proven to be implicated in dispersal of invasive non-native plants in South Africa.
Our recent study published in IBIS demonstrated with field exclosure experiments set up on selected branches in the tree canopy, and with feeding trials using caged birds that a limited number of the remaining seeds of A. cyclops are removed and dispersed by birds.
The expansive spatial extent (i.e. ~ 643 000 ha) of invasions by Australian acacias including Acacia cyclops in South Africa is a reliable pointer to the availability of effective seed dispersal services. Long distance seed dispersal by birds is often implicated in range expansions of invasive non-native plants yet little is known about bird-mediated seed dispersal. Among other methods for managing invasive plants in South Africa (A), biological control agents (i.e. introduced natural enemies) are used. Two biological control agents, a Seed Weevil Melanterius servulus and a Flower-galling Midge Dasineura dielsi (B), were released on A. cyclops in 1991 and 2002, respectively. The biological control agents have substantially suppressed seed production in A. cyclops, i.e. turning seed pods into galls (C), with possible consequences for levels of seed dispersal by birds.
The amount of A. cyclops seeds taken by birds was measured by comparing branches covered in bird netting and branches available to birds. Mature seeds were harvested (D & E), and fed to caged birds. Only two frugivorous species (Knysna Turaco Turaco corythaix and Red-winged Starling Onychognathus morio,) and two granivorous species (Red-eyed Dove Streptopelia semitorquata and Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis) ate the seeds in the feeding trials (F, G, H & I). The germination rate of the seeds ingested by the birds was measured.
Seeds ingested by the granivorous Red-eyed Dove had highest germination rates thereby demystifying a long-standing misconception that the ubiquitous dove species cannot effectively disperse seeds. Two frugivore bird species: the Knysna Turaco and the Red-winged Starling also improved germination rates of ingested seeds but the granivorous Laughing Dove did not.
No clear relationship was established between birds’ body size and length of time for which seeds are retained in the gut, probably because of the laxative compounds present in many non-native fruits/seeds. This finding confounded the models for estimating seed dispersal distances using a vector’s body size as a predictor for length of seed retention time in the gut and thus the distance seeds might be dispersed.
I am now working on the use of miniaturised GPS – cellular transmitters to monitor movement patterns of the foraging birds to fill the gap of unknown spatial distributions of dispersed A. cyclops seeds. This knowledge will provide an important guide for designing spatially-explicit management strategies for many invasive plant species with seeds dispersed by birds.
Dennis, A.J. & Westcott, D.A. (2006) Reducing complexity when studying seed dispersal at community scales: a functional classiﬁcation of vertebrate seed dispersers in tropical forests. Oecologia, 149, 620–634.
Mokotjomela, T., Musil, C. & Esler, K. (2013) Potential seed dispersal distances of native and non-native ﬂeshy fruiting shrubs in the South African Mediterranean climate region. Plant Ecol. 214: 1127–1137.
Schurr, F.M., Spiegel, O., Steinitz, O., Trakhtenbrot, A., Tsoar, A. & Nathan, N. (2009) Long-distance seed dispersal. Ann. Plant Rev., 38: 204–237.
This video from the USA says about itself:
Smithsonian Museum Set to Receive Sunken Slave Ship Artifacts
31 May 2015
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will display objects from a slave ship that sank off the coast of Cape Town in 1794.
The artifacts were retrieved this year from the wreck site of a Portuguese slave ship that sank on its way to Brazil while carrying more than 400 enslaved Africans from Mozambique.
Objects recovered from the ship, called the São José-Paquete de Africa, include iron ballasts used to weigh the ship down and copper fastenings that held the structure of the ship together.
Lonnie G. Bunch III, the director of the African American history museum, said in a statement that the ship “represents one of the earliest attempts to bring East Africans into the trans-Atlantic slave trade.”
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is currently under construction in Washington and scheduled to be completed in the fall.
From daily The Guardian in Britain:
South Africa beach service to honour slaves drowned in 1794 shipwreck
Ceremony to be held on Clifton beach, Cape Town, near recently discovered wreck site of Portuguese ship that sank, leading to the loss of 212 slaves’ lives
David Smith, Africa correspondent
Monday 1 June 2015 18.03 BST
A small, solemn memorial service will be held on one of South Africa’s most popular beaches on Tuesday, close to a recently discovered shipwreck where more than 200 African slaves drowned at the bottom of the sea.
The Portuguese ship, the São José-Paquete de Africa, was sailing from Mozambique to Brazil when it sank in turbulent waters near Cape Town in December 1794. Researchers say it is the first time that the remains of a slavers’ ship that went down with its human cargo on board has been identified.
Albie Sachs, a former constitutional court judge, will give a speech welcoming diplomats, activists and community leaders at the ceremony on Clifton beach, near the wreck site. “It’s profound and terrible to feel this is one of the most beautiful beaches in the whole world and within such a short distance lie the bodies of 200 slaves who died there,” the 80-year-old said on Monday.
“Presumably they were still in shackles or they could have swum to shore. This has been an untold story that has repercussions and reverberations for us today. Somehow their memories survive even though they’re not in the history books.”
The São José was making one of the earliest voyages of the transatlantic slave trade from east Africa to the Americas, which persisted well into the 19th century. More than 400,000 east Africans, shackled in ships’ holds, are estimated to have made the four-month, 7,000-mile journey from Mozambique to the sugar plantations of Brazil between 1800 and 1865.
The São José had only been sailing for 24 days when, tossed by strong winds in view of Lion’s Head mountain, it was smashed on submerged rocks 100 metres from shore. An estimated 212 slaves perished. About 300 survived and were resold into slavery in the Cape. The Portuguese captain, Manuel João, and his crew were also rescued.
The wreck lay undisturbed for nearly 200 years but was found in the mid-1980s by local amateur treasure-hunters who misidentified it as the remains of an earlier Dutch vessel. But in 2011 Jaco Boshoff, a maritime archaeologist, discovered the captain’s account of the wrecking of the São José in local archives. Those on board “made ropes and baskets and continuing like this were able to save some men and slaves until five in the evening, when the ship broke to pieces”, it recorded.
Evidence steadily built. Copper fastenings and copper sheathing indicated a wreck of a later period, and there was also iron ballast – often found on slave ships as a means of counterbalancing the variable weights of their human cargo. The Slave Wrecks Project, an international collaboration, found an archival document in Portugal stating that the Saõ José had loaded 1,500 iron bars as ballast before she departed for Mozambique.
Further research located a document in which a slave was noted as sold by a local sheikh to the captain of the Saõ José prior to its departure, definitively identifying Mozambique Island as the port of departure for the slaving voyage.
Objects retrieved from the ship this year include fragile remnants of shackles, iron ballast to weigh down the ship and its human cargo, copper fastenings and a wooden pulley block. There has been no trace of human remains.
Boshoff, co-originator of the Slave Wrecks Project and principal archaeological investigator on the Saõ José excavation, said: “The more information we get the better. The memorial service will be a bit more emotional, but when we start work again we’ll have to dial back the emotion.”
He added: “Every day there are discoveries made but, in the history of the slave trade, this one is important. It’s the first time we’ve been able to look at a ship that sank with slaves still on board.”
The wreck site is located between two reefs and is prone to strong swells, making conditions difficult for archaeologists. So far only a small percentage has been excavated. “There is a lot to do,” Boshoff said. “We haven’t scratched the surface. It’s a wide-ranging project and I’m fortunate it’s on my doorstep.”
A public symposium, called Bringing the São José Into Memory, will be held in Cape Town on Wednesday. Some of the recovered objects are to be displayed on long-term loan at the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC.
Lonnie Bunch, director of the museum, who is due to attend Tuesday’s event, said: “Perhaps the single greatest symbol of the transatlantic slave trade is the ships that carried millions of captive Africans across the Atlantic never to return.
“This discovery is significant because there has never been archaeological documentation of a vessel that foundered and was lost while carrying a cargo of enslaved persons. The São José is all the more significant because it represents one of the earliest attempts to bring east Africans into the transatlantic slave trade – a shift that played a major role in prolonging that tragic trade for decades.
“Locating, documenting and preserving this cultural heritage through the São José has the potential to reshape our understandings of a part of history that has been considered unknowable.”
Plans for divers from Mozambique, South Africa and the US to deposit soil from Mozambique Island, the site of the Saõ José’s embarkation, on the wreck site has been abandoned due to Cape Town’s volatile winter weather and high tides.
For Sachs, an anti-apartheid activist who lost an arm and the sight in one eye in a bombing in Mozambique while in exile in the 1980s, the international flavour of the day will be important. “There is a wonderful cooperation between the Smithsonian and the Iziko Museums of South Africa. People are diving together and compiling the information together. This is a beautiful example of present-day globalisation recovering an example of terrible globalisation from the 18th century.
“It’s a healing to have people getting together to memorialise the dead. I was nearly killed by a car bomb planted by South African agents in Mozambique. Mozambicans saved my life. Here South Africans are honouring colleagues from Mozambique for this commemoration.”
This video says about itself:
7 mei 2015
NatureWatch is a new iPhone application from BirdLife International which allows you to plan your wildlife adventures, share your experiences, and help conserve some of the best sites for wildlife in the world.
Download the App from here.
NatureWatch App Launched! Watch nature, share moments, conserve sites
By Nick Askew, Mon, 11/05/2015 – 12:10
NatureWatch is a new iPhone App from BirdLife International which allows you to plan your wildlife adventures, share your experiences, and help conserve some of the best sites for wildlife in the world.
“Covering 533 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas in Australia, Cyprus, Fiji, Lebanon, Malaysia and South Africa, NatureWatch gives people who care about these sites a global voice”, said Patricia Zurita – BirdLife’s Chief Executive.
By downloading NatureWatch from the App Store, you can easily find all the information you need to enjoy your next adventure through accessing the latest maps, information sheets and sightings from each site.
The new App also allows you to share your magical moments with nature as they happen with your family, friends, colleagues and other NatureWatch users.
NatureWatch users can view lists of key bird species at each site, share their latest sightings and report any threats to the sites in real time.
“With NatureWatch in your pocket, you’re helping BirdLife and our Partners to monitor each site, plan the best actions, and respond to threats”, added Zurita.
“As you leave behind the smells of the forest and the sounds of the birds, with NatureWatch you can also give something back for the conservation of the site you have visited.”
NatureWatch has been generously supported by the IBAT Alliance (BirdLife International, Conservation International, IUCN and UNEP-WCMC), the Aage V. Jensen Foundation and UK Darwin Initiative, and has been developed in Partnership with BirdLife Partners in Australia, Cyprus, Fiji, Lebanon, Malaysia and South Africa.
This video is called Humpback Whales – BBC documentary excerpt.
From the Cape Times in South Africa:
Rescue team disentangles whale
April 23 2015 at 10:46am
South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) spokesman Craig Lambinon said that the incident happened on Tuesday afternoon.
“At 4.40pm on Tuesday, the network was activated to approximately one nautical mile offshore of Oyster Bay on reports from Nick Bournman, from the Oyster Bay Beach Lodge, of a whale appearing to be entangled in rope and buoys,” said Lambinon.
“The NSRI St Francis Bay sea rescue craft Spirit of St Francis II responded, carrying trained volunteer members of the network.
“On arrival on the scene at 5.15pm, two humpback whales were located swimming together, possibly a mother and child, and the smaller of the two whales was the one entangled in rope and three floatation buoys, with the rope entangled around the peduncle.”
Lambinon explained that an extensive operation then took place to release the whale using specialised disentanglement equipment.
“In an operation, lasting just under 30 minutes, all rope and floatation buoys were successfully removed from the whale and recovered,” |he said.
“The whale appears to not be injured from the ordeal and appeared to be swimming confidently following the disentanglement, and SAWDN is confident that the operation has been successful.”