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March 2012
Contents / home
How to train a dragon
Newsletter/website create stir
Walk & talk with Hoot and Toot
Rhino poaching: are we losing?
Treats and innovations
Zoo welcomes Baboo
Cheetah tales
Good news for birders
Puff Adder gives birth
Getting close to an elephant
NZG vet teaches vets in Brazil
ZooDox - reliable data
What's up at the ZooClub?
Animal of the month:
Giant Anteater
Conservation Grapevine
Interesting links

Conservation grapevine

SOUTH AFRICA - 448 rhino were killed in 2011 in South Africa alone. SAVE OUR RHINOS is a Sting Music and Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) initiative. The double CD compilation features 40 of some of South Africa's best loved artists and groups including Johnny Clegg, Prime Circle, Dave van Vuuren, Yoav, Elvis Blue, Locnville, Wonderboom, Chris Chameleon and many more.

10% of the profits will go towards the EWT in their fight to develop workable solutions to address the scourge of rhino poaching. Already, the EWT are deploying sniffer dogs at airports, training a range of law enforcement personnel and developing support networks for orphaned rhinos. By buying this album, you will be making a contribution to raising awareness of this cause and helping to raise funds that will assist the EWT in their endeavours.

SOUTH AFRICA - A suspected poacher was killed by a buffalo in the Kruger National Park, park authorities said last week.

"A person was killed by a buffalo just north of Punda Maria. Apparently there were three men and two of them ran away," spokesman William Mabasa said.

Reports said the men were poachers, but Mabasa could not confirm this. "But you could ask yourself, what would you want in the park at night without coming through the gate."

Lt-Col Mohale Ramatseba said the 35-year-old man was trampled and died at the scene. Police have opened an inquest docket and would further investigate the case. Source: Sunday Times Live

SOUTH AFRICA - In January 2012 it was noticed that this centipede had laid eggs, a first for the National Zoo. This mother-to-be is a Scolopendra, which is a genus of centipedes of the family Scolopendridae. Scolopendra are carnivorous and will easily take on prey as large as rodents with the use of their venom. Luckily their bites are not fatal for humans, just rather painful!

SOUTH AFRICA - January marked the 5th birthday of Herman and Indie, the National Zoo's Komodo Dragons. Born at Chester Zoo in the UK, the Komodos have been residents of the National Zoo for the past four years. ETV came to join in the celebrations, filming a news slot highlighting the plight of Komodos in the wild and the fact that Herman and Indie are the only two Komodo Dragons in Africa. The birthday boy and girl enjoyed a treat of turkey on their special day.

SOUTH AFRICA - The NZG's Bird Curator, Sarah Chabangu and her team — Aubrey, Delvina and Mirriam - created this beautiful red jelly cake for the vultures and wattle cranes on Valentine's Day. Here two of the vultures get stuck into their jelly cake.

TANZANIA - A new species of brightly coloured snake has been found in a remote area of Tanzania in East Africa. The striking black-and-yellow snake measures 60 cm and has horn-like scales above its eyes.

The newly discovered snake, named Matilda's horned viper, has been described in the journal Zootaxa. The exact location of the new species is being kept a secret, because it could be of interest to the illegal pet trade. Campaign group the Wildlife Conservation Society said the snake's habitat, estimated at only several square km, is already severely degraded from logging and charcoal manufacture.

The authors of the study in Zootaxa expect the viper will be classified as a critically endangered species. They have already established a small captive breeding colony. Source: BBC News

RUSSIA - Russian scientists have revived a 30 000 year old flower. It was an Ice Age squirrel's treasure chamber, a burrow containing fruit and seeds that had been stuck in the Siberian permafrost for over 30,000 years and from the fruit tissues, a team of Russian scientists managed to resurrect an entire plant in a pioneering experiment that paves the way for the revival of other species.

The Silene stenophylla is the oldest plant ever to be regenerated, the researchers said, and it is fertile, producing white flowers and viable seeds.

Svetlana Yashina of the Institute of Cell Biophysics of the Russian Academy Of Sciences, who led the regeneration effort, said the revived plant looked very similar to its modern version, which still grows in the same area in northeastern Siberia. Source: SAPA and Sunday Times Live

AUSTRALIA - Finding Nemo is about to get a lot easier with the launch of a scientific survey that will allow anyone with access to the internet to take a virtual tour of Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

The survey, which will use a variety of high-tech underwater cameras, will carry out one of the most intensive studies of the reef up to a depth of 100 metres, with the public watching every step via Youtube and other Google sites. The images will help better understand the impact of climate change on the reef and also help scientists carry out more regular surveys of fish, turtles and other animals.

A specifically developed camera attached to underwater vehicle will take thousands of 360-degree panoramic images from locations along the length of the 2 300 km reef off Queensland state. These panoramas, when stitched together, will allow people to choose a location, dip underwater and go for a virtual dive.

Google's Panoramio site, which links pictures to locations, will eventually allow a total of about 50 000 panoramas to be uploaded and accessible via Google Earth and Google Maps. Source: Reuters

USA - Bird enthusiasts are reporting rising numbers of snowy owls from the Arctic winging into the lower 48 states this winter in a mass southern migration. Thousands of the snow-white birds, which stand 2 feet tall with 5-foot wingspans, have been spotted from coast to coast, feeding in farmlands in Idaho, roosting on rooftops in Montana, gliding over golf courses in Missouri and soaring over shorelines in Massachusetts.

A certain number of the iconic owls fly south from their Arctic breeding grounds each winter, but rarely do so many venture so far away, even amid large-scale, periodic southern migrations known as irruptions. Owl experts say the phenomenon is likely linked to lemmings, a rodent that accounts for 90 percent of the diet of snowy owls during breeding months that stretch from May into September. Source: Reuters

FIJI - A new flowering plant belonging to the Medinilla plant group has been discovered in the highlands of Matasawalevu village, on the island of Kadavu in Fiji. The plant was found during a biodiversity assessment of the Nakasaleka district carried out as part of IUCN's Water and Nature Initiative. There are around 193 known species of Medinilla, occurring in Madagascar, Africa, South Asia and the Pacific Islands. Of the 193 species, 11 can only be found in Fiji. One of them is the Tagimoucia flower, Medinilla waterhousei, the floral emblem of Fiji.

The species was found on the border of grassland and primary forest. This location makes it highly vulnerable to bush fires that are common in the area. Source: IUCN

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