Antelope outsmarts lioness, video


This 29 July 2019 video from Tanzania says about itself:

A [Thomson’s] gazelle was drinking from a waterhole, when it suddenly realizes that it was being ambushed and thought quick to completely outsmart and outmove the lioness.

Abbott’s duikers, other Kilimanjaro, Tanzania wildlife


This 8 August 2019 German language video shows wildlife, recorded by camera traps, in the Kilimanjaro region in Tanzania.

From the University of Würzburg in Germany:

Rare antelopes and black cats

August 14, 2019

Summary: Numerous large mammals have been documented with video traps on Mount Kilimanjaro by researchers. The protected areas of the mountain are of tremendous importance for the biodiversity of this animal group.

Tanzania is home to a very elusive antelope species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. According to the Red List, it can be classified as endangered. The first photograph of one of these antelopes was taken by researches as recently as the year 2003. So far, the distribution of this species on Mt. Kilimanjaro has not been documented. Its scientific name: Abbott’s duiker (Cephalophus spadix).

This 2009 video says about itself:

The only known footage of an Abbott’s duiker in the wild. This clip of the endangered and Tanzania-endemic antelope was taken by a video camera trap in Nyumbanitu forest, Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania. OK, she’s not doing much, but she’s a beautiful and mysterious animal. By Trevor Jones of Anglia Ruskin University and the Udzungwa Elephant Project.

The article continues:

However, now there are numerous videos showing this antelope. The film sequences were taken by a research group of Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg in Bavaria, Germany. The group has been doing research on biodiversity at Kilimanjaro for years. Current research has focused, among other things, on the question of how the biodiversity of larger mammals is influenced by climate change and human activities.

“We recorded the Abbott’s Duiker with our video traps at eleven locations at altitudes between 1920 and 3849 meters for a total of 105 times,” says doctoral student Friederike Gebert from the JMU Biocenter. “There’s even a video of a mating attempt,” says the scientist. And that’s not the only special feature that has now been captured on film.

Tens of thousands of video sequences evaluated

The team led by JMU Professor Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter and Dr. Marcell Peters installed a total of five camera traps each on 66 study plots at Kilimanjaro — from the savannah in the lowlands to the forest regions at medium altitudes to the bush landscape at altitudes of up to 4550 metres. The cameras remained on site for two weeks, after which they were collected and evaluated.

Friederike Gebert had 80,000 film snippets to go through, of which 1,600 were actually showing mammals. Among them were a total of 33 wild mammal species — in addition to the Abbott’s duiker, species like bush pig and porcupine, lesser kudu and yellow baboon were documented. Serval cats were also recorded. These yellow-black patterned predators are about the size of lynxes, but more daintily built. The videos also show a very special kind of serval: an animal whose coat is completely black.

Protected areas are important for biodiversity

The results of the JMU research group will be published in the Journal of Animal Ecology. “All in all, we were able to show that the species richness of large mammals is greatest at mid-elevations of the mountain, i.e. in the forest regions,” says Friederike Gebert. The more plant biomass and potential prey there are, the greater the biodiversity.

“In the case of large mammals, biodiversity is particularly high in nature reserves, while it falls by 53 percent in unprotected areas — even though many of the unprotected areas still have natural vegetation,” says Professor Steffan-Dewenter. “Our study thus underscores the importance of protected areas for maintaining species diversity of large mammals in tropical mountain regions. To preserve the existing protected areas at Kilimanjaro and to designate further ones is a very desirable goal from the scientific point of view.

Cooperation partners and sponsors

This publication is the result of a cooperation between the University of Würzburg, the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (Arusha, Tanzania), and the College of African Wildlife Management (Mweka, Tanzania).

The German Research Foundation (DFG) has funded the work as part of the DFG Research Group 1246 (Kilimanjaro Ecosystems Under Global Change: Linking biodiversity, biotic interactions and biogeochemical ecosystem processes – speaker: Prof. Dr. Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter). Financial support was also provided by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Serengeti lion cubs play with spy camera


This 2 August 2019 video, recorded in Tanzania, says about itself:

Lion Cubs Play With Spy Cam | Serengeti: Behind The Scenes | BBC Earth

How did the Serengeti crew manage to get so close to its animal protagonists? A boulder cam is the secret to these spectacular shots.

African new deep-sea fish species discovered


This January 2019 video is called LiveAquaria® Diver’s Den® Deep Dive: Red Head Solon Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus solorensis).

Recently, relatives of that species were discovered.

From the California Academy of Sciences in the USA:

Wakanda forever! Scientists describe new species of ‘twilight zone’ fish from Africa

July 11, 2019

Africa has new purple-clad warriors more than 200 feet beneath the ocean’s surface. Deep-diving scientists from the California Academy of Sciences’ Hope for Reefs initiative and the University of Sydney spotted dazzling fairy wrasses — previously unknown to science — in the dimly lit mesophotic coral reefs of eastern Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania. The multicolored wrasses sport deep purple scales so pigmented, they even retain their color (which is typically lost) when preserved for research. The scientists name this “twilight zone” reef-dweller Cirrhilabrus wakanda (common name “Vibranium Fairy Wrasse”) in honor of the mythical nation of Wakanda from the Marvel Entertainment comics and movie Black Panther. The new fish is described today in ZooKeys.

“When we thought about the secretive and isolated nature of these unexplored African reefs, we knew we had to name this new species after Wakanda,” says Yi-Kai Tea, lead author and ichthyology PhD student from the University of Sydney. “We’ve known about other related fairy wrasses from the Indian Ocean, but always thought there was a missing species along the continent’s eastern edge. When I saw this amazing purple fish, I knew instantly we were dealing with the missing piece of the puzzle.”

Underwater Wakanda

The Academy scientists say Cirrhilabrus wakanda’s remote home in mesophotic coral reefs — below recreational diving limits — probably contributed to their long-hidden status in the shadows of the Indian Ocean. Hope for Reefs’ scientific divers are highly trained for the dangerous process of researching in these deep, little-known mesophotic reefs, located 200 to 500 feet beneath the ocean’s surface. Accessing them requires technical equipment and physically intense training well beyond that of shallow-water diving. The team’s special diving gear (known as closed-circuit rebreathers) includes multiple tanks with custom gas blends and electronic monitoring equipment that allow the divers to explore deep reefs for mere minutes before a lengthy, hours-long ascent to the surface.

“Preparation for these deep dives is very intense and our dive gear often weighs more than us,” says Dr. Luiz Rocha, Academy Curator of Fishes and co-leader of the Hope for Reefs initiative. “When we reach these reefs and find unknown species as spectacular as this fairy wrasse, it feels like our hard work is paying off.”

Using a microscope, the team examined the specimens’ scales, fin rays, and body structures. DNA and morphological analyses revealed the new fairy wrasse to be different from the other seven species in the western Indian Ocean as well as other relatives in the Pacific. The new species’ common name is inspired by the fictional metal vibranium, a rare, and, according to Rocha, “totally awesome” substance found in the Black Panther nation of Wakanda. The Vibranium Fairy Wrasse’s purple chain-link scale pattern reminded the scientists of Black Panther’s super-strong suit and the fabric motifs worn by Wakandans in the hit film.

Precious life in deep reefs

In a recent landmark paper, the Academy team found that twilight zone reefs are unique ecosystems bursting with life and are just as vulnerable to human threats as their shallow counterparts. Their findings upended the long-standing assumption that species might avoid human-related stressors on those deeper reefs. The Hope for Reefs team will continue to visit and study twilight zone sites around the world to shed light on these often-overlooked ecosystems.

In addition to this new fish from Zanzibar, Rocha and his colleagues recently published descriptions of mesophotic fish from Rapa Nui [Easter Island] and Micronesia. Luzonichthys kiomeamea is an orange, white, and sunny yellow dwarf anthias endemic to Rapa Nui, and the basslet Liopropoma incandescens (another new species published today in Zookeys) inhabits Pohnpei‘s deep reefs — a neon orange and yellow specimen collected from a rocky slope 426 feet beneath the ocean’s surface.

“It’s a time of global crisis for coral reefs, and exploring little-known habitats and the life they support is now more important than ever,” says Rocha. “Because they are out of sight, these deeper reefs are often left out of marine reserves, so we hope our discoveries inspire their protection.”

Serengeti in Africa, new BBC series


This 1 July 2019 video says about itself:

Serengeti: First Look Trailer | New John Boyega Series | BBC Earth

Lion, cheetahs, elephants, hyenas and baboons: we follow the stories of some of the most iconic characters of the Serengeti in this new dramatised natural history spectacular, narrated by John Boyega.

Coming July 4th on BBC One.

Spotted hyena matriarchy, why?


This video says about itself:

Why Do Hyenas Laugh?

23 February 2015

Are hyenas the most misunderstood animals in the wild? They’re intelligent, they have a sophisticated social order, and their famous laugh isn’t even a laugh.

From the Forschungsverbund Berlin in Germany:

How female hyaenas came to dominate males

November 20, 2018

In most animal societies, members of one sex dominate those of the other. Is this, as widely believed, an inevitable consequence of a disparity in strength and ferocity between males and females? Not necessarily. A new study on wild spotted hyaenas shows that in this social carnivore, females dominate males because they can rely on greater social support than males, not because they are stronger or more competitive in any other individual attribute. The main reason for females having, on average, more social support than males is that males are more likely to disperse and that dispersal disrupts social bonds. The study by scientists of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW, Germany) and the Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution de Montpellier (ISEM, France) was published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Spotted hyaena females are often portrayed as archetypes of powerful and ferocious females. They are on average heavier than the males, have highly masculinised outer genitalia (a ‘pseudo-penis’ and a ‘pseudo-scrotum’), and usually occupy the highest position in the society. But according to the new study, it is not their manliness that allows them to dominate males. “When two hyaenas squabble, the one that can rely on greater social support wins, irrespective of sex, body mass or aggressiveness”, explains Oliver Hoener, head of the Ngorongoro Hyena Project of the Leibniz-IZW. Differences in social support between two individuals correctly predicted who will be the dominant in almost all encounters and in all contexts — between natives and immigrants, members of the same and different clans, residents and intruders, and individuals of the same and opposite sex. Female dominance thus emerges from females being more likely to receive greater social support than males. “What is so fascinating is that it all works without any direct involvement of other hyaenas”, says Colin Vullioud, Hoener’s colleague at Leibniz-IZW and first author of the study. “In the end, it’s all about assertiveness and how confident a hyaena is of receiving support if needed.”

For their study, the scientists analysed the outcome of 4133 agonistic interactions between 748 hyaenas from eight different clans monitored for 21 years in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. To estimate potential social support, they developed an algorithm that predicted for each clan member, which of two interacting hyaenas it would support; this algorithm was derived from behavioural observations of social support and relatedness estimates based on one of the most comprehensive pedigrees of a free-ranging mammal. “To tease apart the effects of social support and intrinsic attributes such as body mass, one needs to evaluate each effect while controlling for the presence of the other” explains Francois Rousset (ISEM), who has developed statistical methods for such purposes. “When this is done, the effects of sex and body mass appear negligible.”

In many social contexts, female and male hyaenas can rely on equal social support and are equally likely to win. But there is one exception: when natives interact with immigrant clan members. “Hyaena society is highly nepotistic and social support is primarily given to kin. Native clan members live among their relatives and have a competitive advantage over immigrants because immigrants lose their social bonds when they disperse from home” explains Eve Davidian (Leibniz-IZW), co-first author of the study. “In this context, females have the upper hand because immigrants are usually males.” Female dominance in spotted hyaenas is therefore driven by the sex bias in dispersal and the demographic structure of the clan: when the clan contains a high proportion of immigrant males, female dominance is nearly absolute. But when the clan contains many native males, males win almost as often as females and the sexes are co-dominant.

“Identifying the determinants of dominance relationships between the sexes is fundamental to understanding the evolution of reproductive strategies, gender roles, and sexual conflicts,” concludes Alexandre Courtiol (Leibniz-IZW), co-senior author of the study. “Our findings show that social dominance of one sex over the other — a trait that characterises gender roles — does not need to be a direct consequence of sex or physical strength, but can be shaped by the social environment.” By demonstrating the key role of social support in mediating the establishment of dominance — and sex-biased dominance — the study improves our understanding of the social impact of nepotism, political alliances, as well as emigration and immigration patterns in animal and human societies.

Infectious diseases can substantially reduce the size of wildlife populations, thereby affecting both the dynamics of ecosystems and biodiversity. Predicting the long-term consequences of epidemics is thus essential for conservation. Researchers have now developed a mathematical model to determine the impact of a major epidemic of canine distemper virus (CDV) on the population of spotted hyenas in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania: here.

Jane Goodall and chimpanzees, new film reviewed


This video says about itself:

First Look at Jane | National Geographic

5 October 2017

Dr. Jane Goodall’s groundbreaking chimpanzee research redefined what it means to be human. Brett Morgen’s critically acclaimed film JANE will be released in select theaters starting Oct. 20.

Jane Goodall started her research without having any university degree: her family could not afford that. Before her work in Gombe in Tanzania, no one had ever properly studied wild chimpanzees. Goodall managed to get gradually closer and closer to the chimps, until they no longer saw her as a danger. This way, she managed to discover much about ape behavior never recorded before.

On 7 January 2018, I saw the film Jane, the 40th film ever about Jane Goodall, in a packed cinema. Much of the material is 1960s-1980s footage by Goodall’s first husband Hugo van Lawick; it was thought to have been lost, but was found again in 2014. Interviews with the main character, now that she is 83 years old, were added.

Before I write more about the movie, I have to go back 27 years; to something, not mentioned in the film, but relevant to its content.

In 1991, an article appeared in the New York Review of Books in the USA, written by Lord Zuckerman. The article claimed there were big, unbridgeable differences between humans and apes. One of the books reviewed in the article is Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe, by Jane Goodall. Lord Zuckerman attacked Ms Goodall for being supposedly ‘anthropomorphic’ about chimpanzees.

Who was Lord Zuckerman? Lord Solly Zuckerman (1904–1993) was a South Africa-born British zoologist and military strategist. I don’t know if he ever made any mistakes in military strategy. He certainly made major mistakes in zoology. More precisely, about Jane Goodall and chimpanzees, thirty years before his New York Review of Books article.

Lord Zuckerman, like most establishment scientists until the 1960s, believed there was absolute patriarchal male supremacy among chimpanzees. Jane Goodall’s research proved that theory was not completely right. One may argue that Zuckerman himself was ‘guilty’ of anthropomorphism. Though different anthropomorphism from what he accused Jane Goodall of, as he projected human patriarchal societies into the world of chimpanzees and other animals.

A 2014 interview with Jane Goodall mentions:

If her [Goodall’s] Cambridge colleagues had been patronizing, it was nothing compared to the treatment she received at a symposium on primates held at the Zoological Society of London in April 1962. “I gave my first scientific presentation and was terrified, says Goodall. “I practiced for hours,” she says. “I was determined not to read and not to say ‘er’ or ‘um.’ I have remained true to that ever since.”

After three days of talks, the meeting came to a close with a speech by Sir Solly Zuckerman, an anatomist who had studied monkeys in Africa, and gone on to become secretary of the Society and chief science adviser to the Ministry of Defence. Although Goodall had been well received, Zuckerman took the opportunity to fire a volley of pointed comments at the twentysomething newcomer.

“There are those who are here and who prefer anecdote—and what I must confess I regard as sometimes unbounded speculation,” he told his audience, as recounted in Dale Peterson’s biography of Goodall, The Woman Who Redefined Man. “In scientific work it is far safer to base one’s major conclusions and generalizations on a concordant and large body of data than on a few contradictory and isolated observations, the explanation of which sometimes leaves a little to be desired.”

On the morning of 7 January 2018, Dutch primatologist Jan van Hooff told Vroege Vogels radio about his memories of that meeting. Jane Goodall had discovered that chimpanzees use tools. And not only use tools: make tools. That contradicted the establishment science consensus that only humans use tools. Louis Leakey said Ms Goodall’s research made it necessary to redefine humans. If one defines a human as Homo faber, the tool user, then chimpanzees should be called humans as well (later discoveries found that not only chimpanzees but also other animal species make and use tools).

Jane Goodall also discovered that chimpanzees sometimes eat meat, hunting other animals.

Lord Zuckerman was livid, Jan van Hooff recalls. The noble lord stormed toward biologist Desmond Morris, who had invited Jane Goodall, and said: ‘Who has invited this stupid wench to talk nonsense here? Everyone knows that chimpanzees do not make tools. Everyone knows that chimpanzees eat only plants.’

Van Hooff and Morris responded politely, Van Hooff remembers. As it is not clever to sharply contradict a secretary of the Zoological Society of London who is a nobleman as well.

The 2014 interview says:

This was not Goodall’s first run-in with Zuckerman. At the end of 1961, there had been a press conference at London Zoo to announce her preliminary findings—and she had hatched a plan to use this public platform to call for an improvement in the conditions of the captive chimps at the zoo. “There was a bare cage with a cement floor,” she explains. During the summer months, the chimps had no shade: “It got boiling hot and there was only one platform, the other had broken, so the male got that and the female had to sit on the floor. It was horrible.”

Before the meeting, over dinner with the diplomat Malcolm MacDonald (who had visited her briefly in Gombe and would become governor-general of Kenya in 1963), Goodall shared her intention to champion the welfare of the captive chimps: “I was really excited.”

But MacDonald, with his experience as a politician, could see a flaw. Speaking out on behalf of the chimps to a packed auditorium would be a direct criticism of Zuckerman’s leadership of the zoo. “Do you think he’s going to allow a little whipper-snapper who doesn’t even have a degree to tell him he’s in the wrong?” Goodall recalls MacDonald telling her. “You’ll make an enemy for life, and you don’t want an enemy like that.”

Instead, Goodall suggested several simple changes to the chimps’ enclosure that would improve their welfare, and MacDonald worked behind the scenes to see them implemented. “What I learned then is: Don’t let people lose face, don’t try to do something publicly until you’ve tried every which way to do it quietly. I’ve found that so helpful to me”, she says …

Naturally, Zuckerman took the credit for the improvements to the chimps’ enclosure. “I don’t mind two hoots as long as it gets done”, Goodall says.

Decades later, Professor Jan van Hooff asked his Dutch biology students who knew who Lord Zuckerman was. Not one student’s hand was raised. Then, he asked who knew about Jane Goodall. All hands went up. ‘So, you see’, Van Hooff said.

The film shows how Jane Goodall went into the Tanzanian forest alone. How good she was at climbing trees. That she was not afraid of snakes, including poisonous snakes, as they usually don’t bite unless you step on them. That she got to know the chimpanzees better and better, starting the longest ever continuous research of wild animals, continuing till now. She recorded how chimpanzees were born, grew up and died. She differentiated between individual characters; another one of her innovations.

National Geographic sent Hugo van Lawick to Gombe to film and photograph her work. This brought Jane Goodall and ‘her’ chimpanzees to the cover of the magazine. Hugo and Jane fell in love; married; went to national parks like Serengeti together; got a son; and eventually divorced.

In 2009, Michael Barker wrote this criticism of Jane Goodall:

In October 2008 the world renowned primatologist and United Nations Messenger of Peace, Jane Goodall, traversed Australia, regaling packed houses with stories from her latest autobiographical book, Hope for Nature. Undertaking such whirlwind tours is the norm for Goodall. On average she spends some 300 days a year on the global lecture circuit to raise funds for her wide-ranging charitable activities. This gruelling schedule means that rather than conducting chimpanzee research, speaking engagements have tended to dominate her life over the past several decades. In an interview conducted last year by The Sydney Morning Herald she was asked what had prompted her to make this serious lifestyle change in the 1980s, Goodall replied:

Realising that chimpanzees were becoming extinct — the forests were going — and realising that the environmental and social problems of Africa could often be laid at the door of the elite communities around the world.

Yet despite recognizing that elites present a serious threat to the environment, she is adamant that the same elites will, with a little support from the public, provide the solutions to the very problems that they have created.

Bearing Goodall’s evidently optimist outlook in mind, it is fitting that she formerly served as a board member of the Humane Society of the U.S., a group that describes itself as “the nation’s largest… animal protection organization,” and is well supported by the elite community that Goodall apparently rails against. Here it is informative to point out that one particularly notable board member of the Humane Society is David Jhirad, who is currently the vice president for research and evaluation at the Rockefeller Foundation — an influential philanthropic group that happens to be a key democracy-manipulating organisation (see my earlier article “Pacifying Civil Society“). In addition to holding this influential position, Jhirad acts as the executive vice president of The Gemstar Group, an organisation that, according to their Web site, “work[s] with partners around the world in implementing market-based approaches to global environmental problems.” The president of The Gemstar Group, William Nitze, served as deputy assistant secretary of state for environment in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. …

Barker names other supporters of environment-destroying corporate capitalism, Big Oil corporation bigwigs etc. apparently trying to do ‘greenwashing‘ by associating with Dr Goodall’s pro-environment work. Work that apparently faces dilemmas like the WWF in Spain: which made King Juan Carlos its boss, only to discover that His Majesty killed elephants, and then having to sack him.

Barker concludes:

To surmise: the shady connections outlined within this article do not provide evidence to contradict the fact that Jane Goodall is a passionate and vocal orator on all things environmental. All the same, in spite of her evident passion, it seems more than probable that the message of hope that Goodall preaches worldwide is unlikely to promote environmental solutions that seriously challenge corporate power.

Maybe Ms Goodall’s 1961 experience of improving the London Zoo chimpanzees’ situation without a confrontation with the zoo establishment caused her to be over-optimistic on achieving change without confrontations with establishments. She supports the Green party in Britain; which sometimes does criticize the establishment, but sometimes does not go far enough in that.

Jane Goodall upset the scientific establishment and their wrong ideas. Unfortunately, she only partly sees through political and economic establishments and their wrong practices.

Anyone who peruses relationship settings on social media knows that our interactions with other humans can be intricate, but a new study in Nature: Scientific Reports suggests that researchers may be overlooking some of these same complexities in the social relations of our closest primate relatives, such as chimpanzees and macaques: here.