Also known as the ropefish or snake fish, the reedfish is an ancient species of fish related to bichir native to western Africa. Reefish usually inhabit slow-moving brackish/fresh water but can also survive in water with low dissolved oxygen content, due to a pair of lungs. These lungs allow them to survive for a small amount of time outside of the water. When they are in the water they feed nocturnally on worms, crustaceans and insects. Their peaceful and inquisitive nature and unique appearance have made the ropefish a popular fish in the aquarium trade.
These mice belong to the family Lemniscomys, whose members are known as striped grass mice, African striped mice, or zebra mice. There are 11 recognized species, all of which are found in sub-Saharan Africa but one, the Barbary striped grass mouse (L. barbarus). They are generally found in grassy habitats and are mostly diurnal, but they are very adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, particularly where their ranges overlap. They are very short-lived and average only a year in the wild, and feed on plants and some insects.
Gabon steps in to help protect elephants from ivory poaching at Central African Republic
by mongabay.com staff
Gabon has agreed to help battle poaching in protected areas in the Central African Republic following an elephant massacre at a renowned World Heritage site, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
According to the conservation group, Michel Djotodia, acting president of the Central African Republic (CAR) transitional government, and Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba met on May 14 to discuss a variety of issues, including the worsening ivory poaching situation in CAR. Earlier this month at least 26 elephants were killed at Dzanga Bai, a site that lies in CAR’s portion of Dzanga-Ndoki National Park and is famed for its high density of endangered forest elephants. The slaughter occurred after rangers abandoned their post due to violence in the area.
After the meeting, Gabon dispatched a group led by Mike Fay, a legendary conservationist who led an epic walk across the Congo rainforest in 1999-2000, to CAR to work with the government to secure Dzanga Bai and resume conservation activities. Conservation staff have now returned to the site, according to WCS…
Also known as the white-naped weasel, the African striped weasel while it may look like skunk is indeed a species of mustelid native to sub-Saharan Africa. Like other mustelids the African striped weasel is a carnivore and feeds mostly on small birds and mammals and the occasional reptile. They are generally solitary and hunt at night, however some individuals have been observed sharing burrows with other animals. While it is not a true skunk or a polecat the African striped weasel does posses anal glands and can emit strong smelling fluids when distressed.
The last cat on our list is the world’s fastest land animal — but it still can’t outrun the impacts of humans on its environment. The Cheetah has been listed as vulnerable to extinction, and has disappeared entirely from many of its former ranges. Once found throughout Africa and the Middle East, the cheetah is now primarily relegated to one small patch in Iran and fragmented areas of Africa.
For thousands of years, cheetahs were tamed as hunting animals and pets, and some kings or emperors would keep a thousand cheetahs at a time. But because cheetahs need large stretches of open land to be able to hunt, the impact of human encroachment, as well as hunting by humans for their furs, has taken its toll. Only around 12,400 cheetahs remain in the wild in twenty-five African countries, and cheetahs may be well on their way to the endangered species list.
Cats on the Brink - Endangered Felids: African Lion
by Jaymi Heimbuch
You wouldn’t think the king of the jungle would be in danger of disappearing but indeed, even this most iconic animal, the African Lion, is listed as vulnerable to extinction. Thankfully, it is not yet endangered but it is rapidly approaching that status. Because of habitat loss and conflict with humans, most lions are now found in eastern and southern Africa, with their numbers in serious decline.
Between 30-50% of lions have been lost in the last two decades alone, and there are now only around 47,000 (at the very highest estimates) still living in the wild. Conservation groups are working to not only preserve habitat so that lions have enough room to hunt and roam, but also to provide people with tools and knowledge for how to coexist with these big cats and reduce the number of deaths due to snaring. Hopefully we can keep this cat from making it onto the endangered species list.
Nanostructures Make Viper Skin Ultra-Black and Stealthy
by Laura Poppick
From even a short distance, this West African Gaboon viper looks just like a pile of dead leaves. New research shows that the highly-camouflaged snake owes its elusiveness to nanostructures in its black scales.
The velvety-black patches on this snake’s back are so dark and absorb so much light, they look like gaps in the snake’s body. This illusion allows the lurkers to dissolve into leaf litter as they wait for prey on the rainforest floor.
To determine what makes these scales appear so black, a team of German scientists examined the snake’s skin under a scanning electron microscope (SEM), and found differences in the nanostructures of dark and pale scales that explain the high contrast, the team reports today in Scientific Reports…
Oldest evidence of split between Old World monkeys and apes discovered
Two fossil discoveries from the East African Rift reveal new information about the evolution of primates, according to a study published online in Nature this week led by Ohio University scientists.
The team’s findings document the oldest fossils of two major groups of primates: the group that today includes apes and humans (hominoids), and the group that includes Old World monkeys such as baboons and macaques (cercopithecoids).
Geological analyses of the study site indicate that the finds are 25 million years old, significantly older than fossils previously documented for either of the two groups.Both primates are new to science, and were collected from a single fossil site in the Rukwa Rift Basin of Tanzania.
Rukwapithecus fleaglei is an early hominoid represented by a mandible preserving several teeth. Nsungwepithecus gunnelli is an early cercopithecoid represented by a tooth and jaw fragment..
(read more: PhysOrg) (illustration by Mauricio Anton)
A herd of elephants graze in Zakouman Nationak Park in this April 5, 2013 photograph. The park, located 800 kilometers east of N’Djamena, Chad, has seen 90 percent of its elephants poached in the past decade. The African elephant is the largest living animal on land, and also one of the most in-demand. The ivory in elephant tusks is believed to be medicinal in some Asian cultures, though no scientific proof exists of any such claim. Since the 1980s, the population of the African elephant has halved—from 1.3 million to around 600,000.
“Photographing this bird was one of the main reasons that took us two days to travel through the interior of The Gambia to Georgetown. It’s a difficult bird to find since it has small very localized ranges. It was very hard to photograph due to the intense heat and high humidity. Our lens would easily get blurred.”
Egyptian plover or “Crocodile Bird” - an almost mythical bird. :-) On the road to Janjanbureh - Kau-ur Wetland The Gambia.
Rhino Population in Mozambique, Likely Wiped Out, Elephants May Be Next
by Michelle Faul
Mozambique’s rhinoceros population was wiped out more than a century ago by big game hunters. Reconstituted several years ago, the beasts again are on the brink of vanishing from the country by poachers seeking their horns for sale in Asia.
A leading expert told The Associated Press that the last rhino in the southern African nation has been killed. The warden of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park – the only place where the horned behemoths lived in Mozambique – also says poachers have wiped out the rhinos. Mozambique’s conservation director believes a few may remain…
The good snail’s story, like that of the bad snail’s, seems like science fiction. But it comes with a happy ending.
Photos of the suspicious snail tipped Warriner to its identity. Both the rosy wolf snail and the giant African snail have appendices for seeing and smelling. But the rosy wolf snail has a third set, oral lappets, that help it locate other snails’ slime. It then grabs its prey and rasps it with its radula, which works like a rough tongue, Warriner explained
In addition to its extra appendices, the rosy wolf snail matures to 2 or 3 inches, considerably smaller than the potentially 8-inch giant African snail, Warriner said…
Fruit bats and bat fruits: the evolution of fruit scent in relation to the foraging behaviour of bats in the New and Old World tropics
by Hodgkison et al.
Frugivory among bats (Chiroptera) has evolved independently in the New and Old World tropics: within the families Phyllostomidae and Pteropodidae, respectively. Bats from both families rely primarily on olfaction for the location of fruits. However, the influence of bats on the evolution of fruit scent is almost completely unknown.
Using the genus Ficus as a model, the aims of this study were to explore the chemical composition of fruit scent in relation to two contrasting seed dispersal syndromes in Panama and Malaysia and to assess the influence of fruit scent on the foraging behaviour of neo- and palaeotropical fruit-eating bats…