Episode 30 Season 6: 14 June 2015
Africa’s smallest carnivore? No, not a baby lion, not even the black-footed cat… The Dwarf mongoose weighs in for the feather-weight category at just over 300 grams. But don’t let their small stature fool you. They are effective little hunters, working in a team to look out for potential danger, and are able to tackle prey items much larger than you would expect! The Dwarf mongoose project, supported by the University of Bristol was set up to find out more about these fascinating little creatures, in particular, their communication techniques. For such a social animal, they must have a complex system where the troop can relay messages to one another. Unfortunately, not being able to speak mongoose, the research team had to come up with an alternative method in order to understand these chatty little creatures. 50/50 heads off to the research station to join the team going to great lengths to decipher the language of the mongoose, and to meet some very adorable characters along the way.
For most people, seeing a Puff adder is usually the cue to jump on the table screeching for help. But one man is going to great lengths to dispel the common misconceptions around these feared snakes. Xavier Glaudas is researching their diet, and how it impacts on their ability to reproduce. To do this, he must catch the snakes and fit them with transmitters. This means getting up close and personal with them. All of his experience points to the fact that they are actually not aggressive snakes at all, sometimes even allowing him to step on them accidentally without harming him as he searches the long grass. 50/50 heads off to find out more about this research, but we’ll leave all the snake wrangling to Xavier…
Rhino Brief: John Hume and the trade in horn.
The debate surrounding pro-trade vs anti-trade of rhino horn is heated to say the least. Smaller game reserves and breeders who cannot afford to properly secure their rhino often opt for selling their rhinos off at a huge loss, because of the risk of buying an animal with a veritable target on its back. Some people however, are gambling on the fact that the legal trade in horn is the next logical step in combating the poaching crisis and are breeding rhino in preparation of this event. The argument is a complex one, with many political, socio-economic and criminal aspects to take into account. In this week’s Rhino Brief Bonne interviews well known game breeder John Hume in order to better understand the thinking behind legal trade, and what it could mean for our country’s economy and rhino.
Urban Critters: Woolly necked storks
This odd looking species occurs throughout India, Indonesia and Africa. These tall black birds with white necks and black caps, get their species name from the black and white vestments formerly worn by clerics. They shows a preference for natural wetland habitats in savannah and grassland, including rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, water-holes, lagoons, dams and flood plains, marshes but they will also use artificial habitats such as flooded pastures, cultivated fields, golf courses, firebreaks and roads in tree and sugar-cane plantations. In this week’s Urban Critters, we get up close to these leggy birds, and meet the people who are lucky enough to have them living right in their back Veld Focus:
We’re building houses and getting some decorating done here on veld focus tonight; a weaver works on his ‘nest egg’, a spider takes on a new project after hours, and a caterpillar excels in the decoration department.