Episode 26 Season 6: 17 May 2015
Anthrax: Nature’s hidden killer
When most of us think of anthrax, we usually think of sinister envelopes full of white powder being delivered in the mail. But in the animal kingdom, anthrax is a much more common, but just as real a threat, occurring seasonally in most wild habitats in SA. It is breeds in old bones and carcasses of animals, sometimes lying dormant for years. During times of drought, old bones lying in shallow water are exposed, and carried by scavengers to different parts of the reserve. Vultures are also an important carrier of the spores, carrying the disease for hundreds of kilometres across the country. Anthrax outbreaks are not a major concern for scientists under normal conditions, the disease is part of the natural control of weaker animal species, and usually doesn’t have too much of an effect on the system. However, in recent months ecologists in the KNP were alerted to an abnormally high number of Anthrax related deaths, with species not normally affected falling victim to this microscopic killer. Bertus headed into the KNP to find out more.
From killer to conservationist: An unlikely turtle activist
Seeing the beauty of turtles and the hardships that they must endure in order to reproduce, feed and survive in an increasingly perilous habitat, it is no wonder that the South African population of turtles is closely guarded and aggressively protected. In March 2011 Jabulani Makotikoti Zikhali was sentenced to five years in prison for killing an endangered loggerhead turtle in the iSimangaliso wetland heritage site. Some saw it as a great victory for conservation, but for Makotikoti, who grew up as a fishermen along this coastline, a 5 year prison sentence was a turning point in his life. After his sentence was served, Makotikoti returned home, and after meeting with the internationally acclaimed artist Andries Botha, he began his training as a sculptor. He vowed to become involved in the conservation of the very species that he was convicted of killing, and today, he is an important ambassador for the conservation of turtles worldwide, inspiring youth and cultivating awareness through his art.
Wildlife Wonders: The changing of the seasons
Life on the African Savannahs is ever changing, as the seasons rise and fall in a cycle as old as time, times of hardship give way to times of plenty. Clouds gather and life-giving rains quench the parched earth. In this week’s instalment of Wildlife wonders, 50/50 brings you the beauty and majesty of the natural progression of the changing of seasons in the African wilderness.
Danger files: Fires
A fire raging uncontrolled is one of the most awe-inspiring and frightening examples of nature’s unbridled power. In this week’s Danger Files, we learn more about the effect these fires have on our environment, and meet some of South Africa’s brave men and women who risk their lives battling these devastating conflagrations.
With the warmth of summer fast becoming a memory, it seems we at 50/50 are not the only ones who are looking back with nostalgia at the freshness of spring and all the new life that accompanies it. So as we get out our winter socks, let’s look at some adorable pictures viewers snapped this summer as a reminder of what we have to look forward to.