May 12, 2009

The Secret Seven

Filed under: Introduction — parto @ 4:13 am

Pangolin:This scaly creature curled up in a giant artichoke.The animal is widespread but notoriously elusive, it continues to frustrate many a seasoned safari wathcher.

Caracal:The field guides reveal this beautiful cat to be one oof Africa’s most widespread carnivores.

Black footed cat:To spot this tiny cat you will need to search the arid scrubland of South Africa’s Karoo by night and probably for a long time

Coelacanth:This ancient fish, presumed extinct for 65 million years, first turned up on a South African trawler in 1938. Since then more have appeared in Indian Ocean locations, including off Kenya and Tanzania. But as they generallly live at 100m or below, live sightting are only for deeep sea- divers.

Pel’s Fishing Owl: This enigmatic, apricot – coloured owl has acquired a ceratin mystique among birdwatchers. But some locations, including Zambia Luangwa valley, offer reliable sightings.

Okapi: So elusiveĀ  is this cousin of giraffe that it was not described by western science until 1902. Today it is confined to the Iluri rainforest of the Domocratic Republic of Congo, where its striped coat blend into the dappled under-storey.

Congo Peacock:This shy bird was discovered even after in 1936. Scientists were amazed to find that it has close affinities with Asian peafowl.

May 11, 2009

Bald, Beautiful and Bouncing Back

Filed under: Introduction — parto @ 10:11 am

Birds experts worldwide are all-of-a-flutter after identifying the wintering home of the northern bald Ibis, the rarest bird in the Middle East,down to a mare 65 pairs. Three tagged birds, nicknamed Sultan, Salam and Zenobia, have been followed by satellite from their summer grounds in Syria to Ethiopia – an epic journey of 3,100km.

Britain Royal Society for protection of Birds (RSPB) has described the discovery as ‘a major breakthrough’.The red list of threatened species categories the northern bald Ibis as critically endangered because of habitat loss, hunting, human encroachment and pesticide poisoning.There are thought to be only two surviving summer populations, one in Syria and the other in Morocco. Its range used to extend into Europe.

May 10, 2009

The Eight Oddball

Filed under: Introduction — parto @ 10:18 am

Aardvark:The body of a pig , ears of a rabbit , tail of a kangaroo and nose of an ant-eater – plus spade – like claws that can excavate a 13m tunnel and 30cm- long tongue that can lap up to 50,000 termites in a night.

Naked Mole Rat:This peculiar rodent has a naked, wrinkled body and huge incisor teeth. It lives in ‘anti-like’ colonies, with ‘workers’ tending a ‘queen’.

Mandrill:A male mandrill’s red nose and blue cheeks resemble the colour scheme of his rear qurters, providing a sexual come-on to females and a warning flag to rival males.

Fiddler Crab:Check out a movement in the mangroves and you might spot this eccentric crustacean waving his single, outsized claw like a giant baseball mitt.

African Skimmer:The bizarre bill of this tern-like bird has a lower mandible longer than the upper – perfect for trawling the water for titbits asĀ  the bird flies above.

Chameleon:With a tongue the length of its body, eyes that rotate 360degrees, a prehensile tail,toes fused into tongs and a skin that changes colour with mood.

Ground Hornbill:There is a beauty -and -the-beast feel to this big bird, with its odd combination of elegant eyelashes and grotesque throat sac.

Hammerhead Bat:The huge hooter on Africa’s largest fruit bat acts as a loundspeaker. Males perform in special arboreal arenas called leks, while watching females select those that most impress them.

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