Episode 28 Season 6: 31 May 2015
Brown hyenas: Digging up the truth
With a slight resemblance to a small bear or a shaggy dog, it is no wonder that when a lucky few do manage to catch a glimpse of the shy Brown hyena, there is often some speculation as to what on earth the strange animal could be. It is a carnivore which has adapted to a scavenging lifestyle. It will however, supplement its diet with insects, birds’ eggs and wild fruits and even occasionally kill small animals. The total population size of brown hyenas is estimated to be between 5000 and 8000 animals, which make them one of the rarest large African carnivores. They are listed as near threatened in the IUCN Red List. The major threat to Brown hyenas is human persecution based on the mistaken belief that they are harmful to livestock. Farmers will find hyenas scavenging and wrongly assume that hyenas have killed their animals. An extensive study is being carried out in the Eastern Cape, where scientists are trying to discover more about these shy, nocturnal creatures in an attempt to spread the knowledge, and help conserve them. Join us for this special feature, as we follow the team of dedicated conservationists on their quest to uncover the secrets of the rarest hyena species on earth.
Olifants Update: Great, green and greasy
The Olifants River is one South Africa’s most important river systems. It has its origin between Breyten and Bethal, Mpumalanga Province. There are 30 large dams along the course of the Olifants River before it joins the Limpopo River and flows into the sea in Mozambique. The Olifants River has become one of the most heavily polluted rivers in South Africa, not only by human or industrial waste, but by thriving green algae. In the Kruger Park however, this pollution has had devastating effects on the park’s wildlife. In recent years, carcasses of massive crocodiles have been reported, infected with Pansteatitis, fish have been found dead in their thousands, and the pH of the water has sunk to levels of extreme acidity. Phosphate farms continue to release waste into the system, soBertus heads off to the Kruger once again, to find out exactly what the park’s ecologists are up against, and if there is any chance of the river recovering from its toxic
Surprises lurk around every corner here on VF tonight, as a pair of snakes perform a double act, a Honey guide pokes his beak into an already occupied hole, and a hoopoe nest is full to bursting with feathery arrivals.