December ’14 Field Guide Report by Matt

Carmine-bee-eaterEverything is green and lush and having finally seen the carmine bee-eaters all the migrating birds are present and accounted for. The Red-billed Quelea’s are flocking which for me is sign of subtle change, when everything is at its most plentiful. I can’t help feeling though that we have been a little cheated with regards to rain this season, and the river only came up once. It doesn’t mean anything significant off hand, rain like anything has years of more or less. However while on the topic the reality of global warming will lead our area to receive more rain steadily as the warmer air will be able to support more moisture. Red Billed Quelea_Male

The good news for us, though is that the area we are in has led to a lot of the animals all in a kind of midrange for them. So change should be mild and predictable for them with certain species moving off and certain species moving in. It is oddly humans that need to adapt by building bigger and better river crossings and constant maintenance of roads and general water damage. The animals have the freedom in the Greater Kruger that if they don’t like a place within the limits of their species they move away. It is in the extremes of climates that the specialists will take show the effects of global warming the most. Polar bears are the best examples but all fringe species are showing the first signs of minimization.Sand river

This reserve is renowned for its big cats and we have had them a plenty. Dewane has pushed far east and Nyeleti is making way for him. He has really grown into a beast of a cat. Xhikave and has been seen a few times on kills, being typically xhikave she has kept them in the thickest brush, except for the impala lamb the hyenas tried to steal she put that up a Marula tree on Inyati’s access. Xikhavi leopardWe’ve been seeing Scotia a few times. Thlangisa has been taking advantage of the lambing season and her cubs don’t know what it feels like to be hungry. As such they are both growing really fast and have turned into little leopards.Day One leopard

At least one of the Othawa’s (lioness) is pregnant and is showing signs she might be ready to drop soon. This is good news because the two sub-adults have been seen with the Majingilanes with a survivable amount of hostility. The xhimungwe’s also seem to be enjoying the abundance of prey and when we see them they are snoozing away from the heat with full bellies.Ximhungwe pride

The herds of buffalo have been around as well as cheetah and the wild dog. The best thing about this time of year is the colours and the sounds as every insect, bird and plant is trying to take advantage of this time of plenty. It is also great to see the new shape the river is taking.600 buffalo herd

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Richard Branson: Rhino poaching can be crushed

Richard Branson: Rhino poaching can be crushed.

RICHARD BRANSON:  Africa’s rhinos are facing a real crisis.  In 2012, 660 rhinos were poached in South Africa alone.  Some lose their horns whilst still alive, only to later die from the wounds.

Rhino horn is used in traditional Asian medicine for a range of ailments.  In the past 40 years, rhino populations have declined 95 percent worldwide.

We faced a similar crisis in 1993 until international pressure and public awareness led to sales bans in Asia and reduced demand in places like Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan.

Up until 2008, rhino populations were recovering due to successful breeding programs in parks and private reserves.

In 2011, the Western Black rhino is declared extinct.

But Vietnam has emerged as a new market in addition to China, with its growing economy.  We need your help now, to raise awareness and reduce demand in these new markets before it’s too late.

Join us now.  Wildaid, African Wildlife Foundation, and Virgin Unite are teaming up to bring this message to consumers and we have some influential friends.  Yao Ming, Jackie Chan, and a host of movie stars and top athletes are involved.

Every year, Wildaid receives up to $200m of donated media space in China, and has changed attitudes surrounding wildlife products, like Shaopin Tsui.  We need your help to take the rhino’s message directly to consumers so please help support this work because when the buying stops, the killing can too.

Aspirin, Keratin or Herbs: Better than Horn

Fight for Rhinos

In attempts to reduce demand for rhino horn, researchers and conservationists have tried various methods of replacement; the thought being similar substitutions would give our rhinos a break.

In the early 1990s, conservationists encouraged use of Saiga antelope horn as an alternative. At the time their numbers were in the millions, overpopulating some areas. But the plan backfired, and sadly the animals declined to fewer than 30,000 due to rampant poaching. Ultimately the antelope wound up on the same endangered species list as the rhino.

Saiga antelope by: Darwin Initiative Saiga antelope by: Darwin Initiative

The horns of Buffalo, Yak and other bovine have also been used as options to rhino, both knowing and unknowingly. (As the number of rhino plummet, more counterfeit product are flooding the market.)

In the search for a more ethical replacement, there have been powders and elixirs  advertised as “rhino horn alternatives”most of which essentially contain keratin (the main ingredient in rhino horn).

One…

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