Jan 12

Mammal, fish, amphibian, reptile, plant, coral, insect…the choices are never ending, but will this week’s team member choose a gentle giant like Laura Sutherland or opt for a slightly less substantial species?

George Bradford – ARKive Media Researcher

Favourite Species: Honey badger

Why? I admire the resourcefulness of the honey badger that allows it to exist over a large range and variety of habitats from savannah to rainforest. It can make a meal out of venomous snakes, small mammals and even roots and berries. It has been reported that the honey badger uses its anal gland to fumigate bee hives so it can access the larvae within. That’s street smart.

Favourite honey badger image on ARKive:

Honey badger image

Honey badger with python kill

 

The honey badger is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List. Its threats include being trapped and snared by poachers and small livestock farmers as well as bee farmers. Its claws are used in traditional medicine to confer the patient with the fearlessness and ferocity characteristic of this species.

See more photos of the honey badger.

Jan 5

Like rabbits retreating into their burrows, heads began disappearing underneath desks in the ARKive office as I made a beeline for the next ARKive team mate to pick their favourite species. Will this week’s favourite species be another ferocious feline like it was for Rebecca Sennett, or something slightly more serpentine?

Laura Sutherland – ARKive Education Officer

Favourite Species: African elephant

Why? While I was at University I spent a summer volunteering on a conservation project based in Botswana. Much of our time was spent monitoring the local elephant population, which is where I developed a soft spot for this enormous mammal. Their social structure is based around the ties within family groups; each group is led by an old female known as the ‘matriarch’. They have an amazing capacity to communicate over vast distances using infrasound and are able to recognise other individuals from their vocalisations.

Favourite elephant image on ARKive:

Photo of an African elephant

African elephant calf flapping ears

The African elephant is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List, with threats such as hunting for their ivory tusks, which are actually modified incisors, and conflict with farmers due to habitat fragmentation, posing considerable risks to their continued survival.

See more pictures and videos of the African elephant.

Dec 29

With no one wanting to be a copycat and the number of species to choose from on ARKive gradually getting lower (5 have been selected out of the 14,195 species on ARKive!) the pressure is really beginning to show. Will this week’s team member go for a cuddly critter like Hannah Mulvany or a more beastly being?

Rebecca Sennett - ARKive Media Researcher

Favourite species: African leopard

Why? The African leopard has always been my favourite species mainly because of its exceptional beauty and the fact that it is so elusive. I will never forget how I felt whilst on safari, watching two leopards drag an impala kill up onto the branch of an acacia tree, just as the sun went down below the horizon – a breathtaking and rare sight. The African leopard is a fearsome predator, combining opportunism, stealth and speed. Its distinctive, spotted coat provides excellent camouflage and enables the leopard to conceal itself in the undergrowth. With acute vision and hearing, the leopard is able move slowly and silently, frequently stalking to within metres of its prey without being detected!

Favourite image on ARKive?

Photo of an African leopard

Female African leopard grooming cub

The leopard is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List, with threats to the African population including habitat conversion for agriculture, hunting for teeth and fur and human persecution due to this species attacking livestock.

See more photos and videos of the leopard.

Jul 29

A previously unknown population of Africa’s most endangered antelope has been discovered in a highly threatened forest in northern Kenya, according to scientists.

Photo of Aders' duiker in habitat

As well as being Africa’s most Critically Endangered antelope, Aders' duiker is also one of its smallest and most distinctive.

Camera traps in the Boni-Dodori forest on the northern coast of Kenya captured over 3,300 images of Aders’ duiker, a species which had previously only been recorded from the island of Zanzibar and from small forest patches on the Kenyan coast. The new discovery represents the world’s largest known population of this rare antelope.

One of Africa’s smallest duiker species, Aders’ duiker is highly distinctive, with rich chestnut upperparts and a white band across the rump. Its populations have been in serious decline due to habitat loss and illegal hunting, and the remaining individuals are restricted to ever-dwindling forest patches.

Photo of blue duiker sitting on grass

The blue duiker, another tiny antelope living in the Boni-Dodori forest.

Important forest under threat

Set up by scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust (WWCT), National Museums of Kenya and WWF, the camera traps also revealed important populations of a number of other species, including African wild dogs, elephants, lions, leopards, and other duikers.

The pictures of Aders’ duiker also come just months after the discovery of a potentially new, giant species of elephant-shrew, or ‘sengi’, in the same area.

However, this important forest is under serious threat from rapid coastal development and the spread of agriculture, and its biodiversity is still poorly understood due to security problems and poor infrastructure, which make access difficult.

Photo of African leopard walking

Leopards, African wild dogs and elephants were also found living in and around the forest.

According to Dr Rajan Amin, a senior conservation biologist for ZSL, “This population [of Aders’ duiker] is a lifeline for the critically endangered antelope, which until now was thought to exist only in tiny populations in coastal Kenya and Zanzibar.”

Given time and conservation action we could unearth even more new species in this isolated forest, but we are running out of time to stop the forest and its hidden secrets from being destroyed by rapid coastal development.”

Calls to protect biodiverse forest

Conservationists are calling for the immediate protection of the Boni-Dodori forest, to preserve its important wildlife populations.

Andrew Bowkett of the WWCT said, “This forest is extremely biodiverse and is a very important area to conserve. We have also found other important populations of forest antelopes in the area including the Harvey’s duiker, suni and the blue duiker which was also not previously known to occur in the Kenyan northern coastal forests.”

Photo of golden-rumped elephant-shrew

A potentially new species of elephant-shrew has been discovered in the Boni-Dodori forest. Like this golden-rumped elephant-shrew, it is likely to be threatened by habitat destruction.

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) is leading the national effort to conserve the Boni-Dodori forest. Speaking about the new camera trap images, Dr Sam Andanje, Head of Ecosystem and Landscape Conservation at KWS, said, “We will use the new information on Aders’ duiker and other important findings from this research to work closely with key stakeholders to develop effective strategies to conserve and protect these areas.”

Read the full story at ZSL – Pictures captured by scientists reveal hidden wildlife hotspot.

View photos and videos of species from Kenya on ARKive.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Species Text Author

Jul 4

After much confusion, the Tanzanian government has clarified its plans for the highly controversial Serengeti highway, confirming that it now plans to build a gravel road through the park.

Photo of blue wildebeest crossing Mara river on migration

Blue wildebeest crossing river during migration

Previous plans to construct a paved highway through the Serengeti National Park had drawn much criticism from environmentalists, scientists and governments, and reports that the road had been cancelled were hailed as a victory for conservation and wildlife. Scientists were concerned about the potential impacts of the highway on the 2 million wildebeest, zebra and antelope which pass through the park on their annual migration from Tanzania to Kenya.

The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ezekiel Maige, has now confirmed that the road will still go ahead, but that the plans have been amended. “The Serengeti road project has not been abandoned… we have just revised it. But the road will be unpaved, so there will be no tarmac road or highway traversing through the Serengeti National Park,” he said.

Access to the road will be managed by the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA), with game rangers controlling traffic with gates in an effort to avoid disturbing the wildlife.

Photo of plains zebra massing to cross river during migration

Plains zebras on migration

Controversial highway criticised

Critics of the project have warned that even an unpaved road would threaten the Serengeti’s wildlife, with commercial and population pressure likely to lead to it eventually being paved and widened. As well as threatening the migration, a road could potentially affect predator populations and also impact on tourism in the area.

The World Bank had offered to fund an alternative southern route for the road, which would circumvent the park. According to Dave Blanton of the NGO Serengeti Watch, “This route is preferable to the northern route for maximum social and economic development. And it will allow a relief valve for traffic, present and future, that would travel through the Serengeti itself. The government letter says it was ‘seriously considering’ this. We need to support this effort and make sure it is accomplished. Otherwise, we’ve not gone forward.”

Photo of male Thomson's gazelle running

Thomson’s gazelle, another species that joins the Serengeti migration

Mining plans for Selous Game Reserve

The news on the Serengeti road comes amid new reports that Tanzania is to go ahead with plans to mine uranium in the Selous Game Reserve, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. This reserve is home to large numbers of elephants, black rhinos, cheetahs, giraffes, hippos and crocodiles, and is relatively undisturbed by humans.

According to Mr Maige, the plans would affect less than 1% of the Selous and would provide an important source of income for the country, as well as providing revenue to help manage the park. The UNESCO World Heritage Centre has said it will approve the plans as long as environmental assessments are carried out.

View photos and videos of the blue wildebeest on ARKive.

View other species from Tanzania on ARKive.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Species Text Author

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