50|50 Episode 34 Season 8: 26 November 2017
Modern conservation is turning more often to nature for ideas to solve the conflict associated with human-wildlife encounters. As space and natural resources diminish at the hands of human development, this conflict becomes more and more prevalent. Isolated protected areas exist as islands in broader human-occupied landscapes but wildlife doesn’t recognise human borders nor does it realise that it’s in their best interests to remain within the safety of conservation areas. Here lies the challenge for the biologists that are trying to manage populations of large, potentially dangerous and destructive animals like elephants. Nature offers help from an unexpected quarter.
Onderstepoort University: where art meets science
The fields of human and veterinary medicine are almost as old as human civilisation but right from the start have required practical learning and experimentation. To date, the ethical dilemma of having numerous students practice invasive techniques repeatedly on a live animal has been balanced by the argument that these same students will then be able to use the skills they learned in this way to help innumerable other animals in the future. Thanks to artist Liezl Kok who has been collaborating with Onderstepoort, this dilemma looks to be a thing of the past and students and animals alike are benefiting from skills learned through operating on functional art in the lab.
Wonderwêreld: Nile crocodile
The Nile crocodile is the only crocodile species in Southern Africa and is widespread in rivers and large water bodies. Their fearsome teeth, formidable jaws and powerful physique that they can launch 2 metres out of the water to catch prey, makes them legendary and widely feared. Like all animals, the Nile crocodile has a softer side and when it comes to mating the gentleman puts on quite a show for the ladies that subsequently prove to be the tenderest of mothers.
Mother Nature shows her ruthless side in this week’s VeldFokus episode. A baboon succumbs to the brute strength of a lioness’ jaws, a warthog learns about the dangers of porcupine quills, while a golden mole discovers that gutters are not good hiding places.