Articles Posted in the Conservation category

Top 100 weirdest amphibians

January 22, 2008
Posted in Conservation

There’s that saying: you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince. But, we shouldn’t be so disparaging about frogs and their amphibian relatives. After all, some of them apparently have been around for about 200-million years, which means they lived about 100-million before the Tyranosaurus Rex appeared. And although they survived whatever wiped out the dinosaurs, they are now in need of help to ensure they continue to survive, according to New Scientist.

The Zoological Society of London in the UK has launched the top 100 list of the world’s weirdest, most wonderful and rarest amphibians. The Table Mountain ghost frog is one of them. (If you’re into frogs or 1,8m-long pink salamanders, there is a link to a gallery of glossy pics in the New Scientist story)

According to Helen Meredith of the Zoological Society: “An alarming 85 percent of the top 100 are receiving little or no conservation attention and will become extinct if action is not taken now.”

Saving the world one seed at a time

November 25, 2007
Posted in Green News

If you love baobabs, then Madagascar is the place to go. The island has six species of the “upside down tree”, South Africa has only one. It’s also the only place in the world you’ll find lemurs in the wild. In fact, about 70 percent of the plants and animals here are endemics (live nowhere else on Earth).

The island split from the African continent tens of millions of years ago, allowing its inhabitants to evolve in isolation, undisturbed by human beings until 2,000 years ago. But countless species in this biodiversity hotspot are gone and many others face extinction. Britain’s Kew Gardens is trying to do something about it.
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Plan to save Benguela birds, turtles and sharks

July 26, 2007
Posted in Green News

From jellyfish that have multiplied to such an extent that they interfere with fishing operations, to the deaths of large numbers of seabirds, turtles and sharks, it’s pretty clear that things are not going swimmingly off South Africa’s west coast.

About 34,000 seabirds, 4,200 turtles, and more than 7-million sharks and skates are killed in longline fishing operations in the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME) annually, according to the WWF.

The Benguela current flows northwards from the Southern Ocean along the Atlantic coast of Africa as far as Angola.

However, this week a plan to reduce the impacts of fishing on southern Africa’s marine ecosystems has been released by the WWF and the BCLME.

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World recognition for a very special desert

July 3, 2007
Posted in Conservation

halfmens.jpg South Africa got its eighth World Heritage Site last week, the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape in the Northern Cape province. The 160,000-hectares of mountainous desert in the far northwest of the country is part of the succulent Karoo biodiversity hotspot. It also sustains the semi-nomadic pastoral lifestyle of the Nama people.

It is the only area where the Nama still construct portable houses, haru oms (pictured below), a practice that was once much more widespread in Southern Africa and is thought to have persisted for at least two thousand years.

The Unesco World Heritage Committee described the Nama’s communally grazed lands as an example of “a harmonious interaction between people and nature”. It said they were “a testimony to land management processes which have ensured the protection of the succulent Karoo vegetation”.

The portable houses of the Nama people
The succulent Karoo ecosystem has 4,849 succulent plants, 40% of which are found nowhere else. One notable is the halfmens tree Pachypodium namaquanum (pictured above).

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South Africa to sell 30 tons of ivory

June 20, 2007
Posted in Green News

South Africa could earn R40-million from the sale of its elephant ivory, David Mabunda, the chief executive of South African National Parks (SANParks), told The Star newspaper in a report published on June 20 2007.

South Africa will be selling 30 tons of stockpiled tusks to Japan, Mabunda said. This follows last week’s decision by Cities in The Hague to allow a once-off ivory sale by South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

The sale of the tusks, which have reportedly been stockpiled since 1992, would be “one of the benefits of good management”, Mabunda told the Star.

“We need money for conservation,” he added.

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EWT’s joke of the bushveld

June 11, 2007
Posted in Conservation

Tourists come to Africa in their droves for the quintessential wildlife safari. But what will the African safari of the future be like? The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has posted a tongue-in-cheek look on YouTube in a video titled Joke of the Bushveld, a play on the famous South African novel by Percy Fitzpatrick, “Jock of the Bushveld”

The EWT’s objective is to highlight the potential effects of climate change on South Africa’s wildlife. It says that if we do nothing the joke might be on us.

To get us off our complacent butts, the EWT offers suggestions of things ordinary people can do to limit the effect of climate change: at home, at work, eating out and shopping. The most powerful tools we have, though, are education and knowledge, the EWT says.

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