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.

May 9, 2009

Rhino Removals

Filed under: Introduction — parto @ 9:09 am

The plight of the elusive black rhino is well known, with less than 3,000 of these impressive animals left in the world today. In Kenya, despite poaching reducing numbers from an estimated 20,000 in the 1970s to less than 300in the 1980s, conservation efforts have now suceeded in boosting current numbers to 539.

As the rhino population slowly recovers, however conservationists are faced with the new challenge of finding suitable areas for them to live in. In February the Ol Pejeta Conservancy began the single biggest rhino translocation ever undertaken in East Africa .

The project aims to eventually move 34 rhinos (each equipped with its own horn – mounted transmitter to enable careful post – release monitoring) from the overcrowded Solio Rhino Sanctuary into the recently expanded Ol Pejeta Conservancy in the Likipia District, providing a firther 30,350ha of prime black rhino habitat. The translocation will also hopefully maximise rhino birth rates, with final breeding population in the parkof 79 black rhino – the largest in East Africa.

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