Young African elephant, video


This February 2015 video is about a baby African elephant, having fun at Renosterkoppies Dam, Kruger park, South Africa.

See also here.

Genet ‘cat’ rides black rhino, video


This video says about itself:

World-first: A genet rides a black rhino

21 July 2015

This amazing never-before-seen footage captured by Wildlife ACT reveals a genet riding on a critically endangered black rhino.

In 2014, this genet, nicknamed Genet Jackson, was photographed hitch-hiking on a buffalo as well as a white rhino. Now, it has been filmed riding on a critically endangered black rhino.

Wildlife ACT assists Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife with monitoring endangered species and captured this groundbreaking footage in the process.

Rhino Africa donated their awesome multimedia team’s time to put this video together.

See also here.

Genets are often called ‘genet cats’, but are actually in the civet family.

For those interested in the mechanics of the proposed RAPID rhino-cam to photo rhino poachers, see this paper.

Lions back to Rwanda after fifteen years


This video is called Wild Botswana: Lion Brotherhood HD Documentary.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Lions to be reintroduced to Rwanda after 15-year absence following genocide

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]

Native birds and non-native plants in South Africa


This is a Knysna turaco video from South Africa.

From the British Ornithologists’ Union blog:

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?

Thabiso Mokotjomela
University of Cape Town

LINKED PAPER
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.

Further reading

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.

NatureWatch, new app launched


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.

NatureWatch is available in the App Store and covers 533 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas in Australia, Cyprus, Fiji, Lebanon, Malaysia and South Africa.

Download the App from here.

From BirdLife:

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.

BirdLife logos

Entangled humpback whale saved in 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

A WHALE has been rescued near Oyster Bay in the Eastern Cape after it was entangled in rope.

South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) spokesman Craig Lambinon said that the incident happened on Tuesday afternoon.

Oyster Bay is located between Humansdorp and St Francis Bay on the east coast.

“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.”