May 8, 2009

The Noisy Nine

Filed under: Introduction — parto @ 3:30 am

Barking Gecko:The true sound of the Kalahari is the clicking of male barking gecko as dusk draws them to their burrow entrance. The noise builds as each rival takes up the challenge, like a chorus of shaken matchboxes,

Spotted Hyena:The questioning ‘whoop’ of spotted hyenas embodies a night in the African bush. It serves to call wandering individuals together so they can pirate a kill and hare the spoils.

Hadeda Ibis:Melodic is not. Bur the raucous braying of this bird heralds its arrival as surely as a trumpet fanfare – from the gardens of suburban Jo’burg to the lakeshores of Nakuru.

Bushbaby:The largest bushbaby has the loudest territorial call: piercing infant like shrieks that leave no doubt the origin of its name.

Trumpeter Hornbill:A ‘bushbaby’ heard by day is probably one of these big beaked birds, whose wailing calls help keep the feeding party together. Listenout for the whoosh of wings overhead as they lurch from tree to tree.

Tree Hyrax:If a ‘bushbaby’ sounds unhappy, then you may be listening to a tree hyrax, whose crescendo of nocturnal cries climaxes in choking screams.

Hippo: Their deep, resonant grunts – amplified by the great barrel of a body – roll for kilometres downstream.

Cicada:This ear splitting insect gensrates its relentless noise not by stridulation (rubbing together legs or wings, as crickets do), but by the rapid, rhythmic contraction of organs on its abdomen called ‘timbals’. Only males produce the sound.

African Fish Eagle:This striking raptor gets top marks for effort as it throws bach its head in yodelling duet with its mate.

May 7, 2009

Five things Africa might lose

Filed under: Introduction — parto @ 8:50 am

Snow of Kilimanjaro

Mt. Kilimanjaro’s glaciers are melting fast. They heve shrunk by one quarter since 2006, and at this rate may be gone entirely by 2015. Some scientists blame global worming . Others blame deforestration on the lower slopes, which prevent prevailling winds from picking up enough moisture to replenish the evaporating ice with water.

Lake Chad

this lake was once Africas largest body of fresh water., comparable in size with Canada’s Lake Erie. But an increasingly dry climate and the ever-growing demand for water, including massive irrigation projects, have taken their toll. In just 40 years,it has shrunk from 25,000km2 to 500km2.

Fynbos

The unique fynbos of South Africa’s cape isthe smallest, yet more diverse, of the world’s floristic kingdoms. More than 8,600 plant species, of which two thirdsare endemic, are found in an area of less than 90,000km2. But fynbos is vanishing under pressure from Agriculture, urban development and alien plants. More than one third of its original area and 36 species of plant are already gone.

Northern White Rhino

Critically endangered is an understatement for the northern white rhino: just for wild individuals remain, all of them in the DRC’s Garamba National Park.After decades of poaching , the magnificent animal is now the victim of regional unrest , with armed militias roaming the park. Its prospects look bleak.

Blue Swallow

This endangered bird is confined to a scattered handful of locations from South Africa to southern Tanzania. Its habitat – high altitude mistbelt grassland – is under intense pressure from commercial agriculture, including timber plantations, and sugar cane. Fewer than 4,000 pairs are now thought to remain.

May 6, 2009

The Olympic Eleven

Filed under: Introduction — parto @ 4:00 am

Cheetah: This big cat is the world’s fastest sprinter, reaching speed of up to 110 kph in its pursuit of nippy prey. It can only sustain this for 200-300m for fear of terminally overheating.

Whale Shark:Its 1.5m wide maw and is designed solely for engulfing planktons. Big individuals may exceed 12m in length and weigh up to 15 tonnes.

Giraffe: Thia is the worlds tallest animal, with mature bulls reaching 5m or more. It also has the largest heart of terrestrial mammal, the extra pumping power helping to get the blood to distant extremities.

Ostrich:This is the world biggest bird (up to 2.5m tall) and the fastest runner on two legs ( up to 60 kph). It has the largest eyes of any land animal (up to 5cm across) and the world largest egg – which, at1.5kg, makes a decent omelette for 25 people.

Peregrine Falcon:It has a faster flying speed than any other creature. During its aerial stoop on prey (when it folds its wings and plumments downwards on an unsuspecting pigeon or water bird), it can exceed 180kph.

Goliath Beetle:Its a huge insect which is among the world’s heaviest, with the grubs of some species weighing more than a mouse.

Red Billed Quelea:This small member of the weaver family is the world’s most numerous bird, despite being confined in Africa. Flocks millions – strong, pulsing like giant shoals of fish, can strip a harvest in hours.

Gorilla:This massive animals already scales the podium as the world’s largest primate: mature silverback males may exceed 220kgs.

Goliath Frog:Africa largest frog is bigger than its smallest antelope. The goliath frog, confined to coastal rivers in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, can weigh up to a massive 3 kgs.

Sociable Weaver:A sparrow – like bird of the Kalahari, builds the world’s largest colonial nest. The immense twig – and grass structure may span more than 5m and contain individual apartments for over 100 pairs of weaver bird.

Egg – Eating Snake: The snake can swallow an egg three times the size of its own head

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