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Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

Tuluver: The Hoax Bird Invented to Save the Vulture (Podcast and Video)

Sasol 300 Easy-to-see BirdsSasol 300 maklik sigbare voëls van Suider-Afrika100 Common Bird Calls in East Africa

In order to raise awareness about the importance of vultures, and the threat of extinction that they face, BirdLife South Africa recently launched a hoax campaign about a “newly discovered” species: the Tuluver.

The stunt included a video of the fictitious bird, as a way of getting people to pay attention to the “beautiful birds” we are already privileged to have.

BirdLife SA CEO Mark Anderson spoke to Karien Jordaan about the video. He said that although the organisation apologises for causing trouble, the campaign got a huge amount of attention.

Listen to the podcast:

Watch the video about the fictitious Tuluver bird:

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New: 100 Common Bird Calls in East Africa by Dave Richards and Brian Finch, with Accompanying CD

100 Common Bird Calls in East AfricaPresenting 100 Common Bird Calls in East Africa, by Dave Richards and Brian Finch:

Recognise birds by their calls with this handy package of CD and accompanying book. These will help identify the sounds made by a range of the most common and widely distributed East African bird species.

This is the perfect starting point for those who wish to develop their knowledge of bird calls.

  • CD features 100 bird calls.
  • Each species account features full-colour photographs, a distribution map and information on habitat, behaviour, feeding and nesting preferences, as well as a description of the call or song.
  • Common bird names given in English and Swahili.

About the authors

Dave Richards is an author and photographer who has written a number of books on travel and wildlife in Kenya. He regularly contributes articles and photographs to a range of local and international magazines and books. Dave leads photographic and ornithological safaris through Kenya and Tanzania, but also to Botswana, Madagascar, Namibia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Brian Finch is a Kenyan citizen living in Nairobi. He is co-author of field guides to the birds of East Africa, the Horn of Africa and Papua New Guinea and producer of comprehensive birdsongs for the entire East African region (1,300 species). Birds, butterflies and reptiles are his main focuses, and he has convinced a multitude of people that Kenya is the most bird-friendly country in the world.

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Is Henrietta Rose-Innes’ Nineveh Coming True? Scientists Discover A New Beetle in Noordhoek

A new species of beetle has been discovered in Noordhoek, eerily echoing the plot of Henrietta Rose-Innes’s novel Nineveh.

The odd-looking bug was found in a wetlands area and bears little resemblance to other species of beetles in Africa, leading UK-based researcher Dr David Bilton to assert that it is so unusual it should be given its own genus.

NinevehPocket Guide to Insects of East Africa African Insects

In Nineveh, a mysterious out-of-control swarm of insects hamper the development of a luxury estate in Cape Town. The critters are fighting for their own survival and the walls begin to crumble …

We’ll keep you posted!

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In a media release, Bilton, who has studied water beetles here for a number of years on annual field trips, said the find was unexpected: “(The beetle) immediately looks odd, quite unlike any previously known diving beetle.”

There are more than 4 000 diving beetle species worldwide, almost all of which are aquatic predators, carrying an air bubble with them to breathe while underwater.

“It’s fairly common to find new species of beetle, but it’s much less usual to find things which are so different they have to be put in their own genus,” he said.

Bug lovers can also have a look at Pocket Guide to Insects of East Africa by Dino J Martins and African Insects: To read, colour and keep by Sally MacLarty for more weird and wonderful creepy crawlies.

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Identify Striking and Ecologically Important Insects with Pocket Guide to Insects of East Africa by Dino J Martins

Pocket Guide to Insects of East Africa Struik Nature is proud to present Pocket Guide to Insects of East Africa by Dino J Martins:

Insects have a greater impact on human lives and livelihoods than any other group of organisms. This guide will help you to identify insects that are frequently encountered, very striking or ecologically important in the region.

Compact and easy-to-use, it features more than 400 of the interesting and diverse insect groups found in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. Full-colour photographs of all featured species are accompanied by concise text giving key identification features for each group.

About the author

Dr Dino J Martins, an entomologist and evolutionary biologist, is widely known as East Africa’s ‘Dudu Man’. (Dudu is the Swahili word for insect.) Dr Martins holds a PhD in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University. A prolific writer, he has published numerous articles in scientific, natural history, and environmental publications. He is currently Chair of the Insect Committee of Nature Kenya and The East Africa Natural History Society, where he passionately promotes interest in the study and conservation of insects.

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Incredible CCTV Footage Shows Elephant Putting Rubbish in a Dustbin

A Photographic Guide to Mammals of Southern, Central and East AfricaA Field Guide to the Tracks & Signs of Southern, Central & East African WildlifeThis amazing footage of an elephant diligently putting rubbish in the nearest bin was shared by user privateicams on YouTube. An elephant never forgets to clean up!

A Photographic Guide to Mammals of Southern, Central and East Africa and A Field Guide to the Tracks & Signs of Southern, Central & East African Wildlife by Chris Stuart and Mathilde Stuart are excellent guides to animals, their behaviour and how to find them.

Knowledgeable though they are about the African animals, the Stuarts will likely be surprised by the video of this elephant’s behaviour.

Watch the video:

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Excerpt from A Field Guide to the Tracks & Signs of Southern, Central & East African Wildlife

A Field Guide to the Tracks & Signs of Southern, Central & East African WildlifeNamibiana Buchdepot has shared an extract from A Field Guide to the Tracks & Signs of Southern, Central & East African Wildlife by Chris and Mathilde Stuart.

The extract provides instructions on how to use the field guide to identify animals by their tracks, droppings or dung. The guide contains a general droppings key to help nature lovers identify and classify animals as well as photographs and schematic drawings.

Read the excerpt to learn how to identify animal tracks:

Tracks differ with living conditions: antelope in sandy areas, for example, may have hoofs longer than usual; tracks in soft sand or mud may be splayed for better purchase. Always remember that the track of the same species can show considerable variation; this may reflect the age composition of a population (young animals leave smaller tracks), individual differences and the influences of the substrate. For example, a track left in firm, damp silt will usually be clear and will accurately portray the animal’s foot structure but if the same individual steps on loose sand the chances of reaching identification are greatly reduced. This is why it is always a good idea to follow a trail until you find a clear track. Wherever possible we have included a drawing of the “ideal” track, a photograph of a track taken in the natural state (we have tried to select for what you are most likely to see and not the perfect track) and in some cases the feet themselves where we feel that this may help in reaching a decision on identification.

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Podcast: Ronnie McKenzie Explains How to Identify a Real Meteorite – and Not Get Scammed

Meteorites: A Southern African PerspectiveRonnie McKenzie, author of Meteorites: A Southern African Perspective, spoke to Crystal Clear Radio about meteorites and how to identity them.

McKenzie has been collecting and studying meteorites for over 20 years, and says amateur collectors must be careful.

“There are a lot of meteor-wrongs that people try to pass off as meteorites,” McKenzie says, “and there’s a lot of scamming and people trying to sell you things as meteorites that are not meteorites.”

According to McKenzie, hematite, magnetite and basalt are three type of rock that are often passed off as meteorites, especially basalt, which can be slightly magnetic. Listen to the podcast to find out how to identity a real meteorite.

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Podcast: Kingsley Holgate Chats about His Latest Adventure on Lake Turkana

Africa: In the Footsteps of the Great ExplorersKingsley Holgate, the author of Africa: In the Footsteps of the Great Explorers, chatted to OFM about his recent trip around Lake Turkana, the world’s largest desert lake.

Holgate is a humanitarian who uses his adventures to raise awareness for important issues. He and his convoy of land rovers drove a total of 17 000 km journey to Turkana – from South Africa all the way up to the lake in Ethiopia and back. They used the journey for malaria awareness, distributing mosquito nets to young children and pregnant mothers along the way.

Listen to the podcast:

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Excerpt from James Clarke’s Save me from the Lion’s Mouth

Save me from the Lion\'s MouthRead an excerpt from former environmental journalist and humour columnist James Clarke’s Save Me from the Lion’s Mouth: Exposing Human Wildlife Conflict in Africa, which investigates the contentious people vs wildlife debate.

In Save Me From the Lion’s Mouth, Clarke examines the growing conflict between African wildlife and the people who, as he puts it, “live in the wilds”, as well as the “gulf of understanding” that exists between those people, who may “fear and detest” wild animals, and those who want to ensure their survival.

Namibiana Buchdepot has shared this extract from the book.

Wildlife television programmes and their depiction of the African wilds and the creatures that inhabit them tend to give the false impression that elephants are friendly creatures (while they are indeed noble beasts, they are at best indifferent to our presence), and that you can cuddle lions and make pets of hyaenas. The hippo is often seen as a rotund comical character, when in fact it is the most unhumorous animal God ever created. Few programmes, brilliant though many of them are, focus on the reality of rural Africa or help us empathise with those who live every day with wild animals as neighbours, and who not only lose livestock and crops to wild animals, but who also lose loved ones and neighbours to them.

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Appreciate Trees this Arbour Month (1 – 30 September)

Arbour Day is held on Monday 1 September, kicking off the extended Arbour Month which aims to promote the planting and maintenance of South Africa’s indigenous trees. If you’re stuck for ideas on which trees to plant, Struik Nature has a wide variety of books to refer to including the recently published updated edition of Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa by Piet van Wyk and Braam van Wyk, also available as Veldgids tot Bome van Suider-Afrika:

Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa Veldgids tot Bome van Suider-AfrikaWhat's that Tree?Watter boom is dit? Field Guide to Common Trees and Shrubs of East Africa

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