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.

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.

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