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NEWS WRAP: Record seizure of pangolin scales + cameras find lone female elephant roaming Knysna forest

In this week’s news wrap Hong Kong customs have seized a record haul of pangolin scales bound for Vietnam; camera-trap technology has captured what is suspected to be the last elephant in Knysna forest; the South Africa parliament has attacked the Kruger agreement with neighbouring private reserves; Uganda seized ivory and pangolin scales worth an estimated $8 million; 20 endangered vultures die of poisoning near the Maasai Mara; thousands of baby flamingos have been rescued in South Africa as drought has put their breeding ground in peril; and a new widow spider species has been discovered – the first in 29 years.

Discovering the forest birds of Maasai Mara

The banks of the Mara River in the Maasai Mara of Kenya offer ideal habitat for birds – and for bird-watchers, especially if you find a puddle of water, and especially during the heat of the day.

Deceptive creatures: Survival in the wild

For billions of years, animals have learnt the skills required to survive and escape predation, adapting to their environment and learning a few tricks along the way.

Video: Saving the vultures of southern Africa

The loss of vultures could prove catastrophic to our natural environment, since vultures play a crucial role in keeping ecosystems sanitary by picking carcasses clean and preventing lethal diseases from spreading to humans and wildlife.

Migratory birds of South Africa

Every year South Africa plays host to an influx, and then an exodus, of more than one hundred bird species that flock to its shores during the summer months to take advantage of the rich conditions in terms of weather and food availability.

Shoebill – 7 reasons to love this dinosaur of birds

The shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) looks like a bird that belongs in the prehistoric age. Found in the marshes of East Africa, the shoebill is classified as vulnerable and is a bucket-list sighting for any avid birder. Here are seven reasons to love this big bird.

NEWS WRAP: US remains top wildlife trophy importer + Kenyan elephants relocated

In this week’s news wrap it has been reported that the United States remains the biggest importer of endangered African wildlife trophies; 30 elephants are relocated in Kenya in the hopes to end human-wildlife conflict; Kenyan MPs urge President Kenyatta to ban logging and declare it a national disaster; African penguins have succumbed to avian flu in the Western Cape; the US Embassy supports the South African wildlife crime investigations through donation of forensic trailer units; and a major seize of an abalone consignment goes down at Durban harbour.

NEWS WRAP: Over 50 elephant tails seized + new cheetah blood in KZN

In this week’s news wrap four traffickers have been arrested in Ivory Coast after 53 elephant tails were seized; new blood as plans to introduce ten new cheetahs to a KwaZulu-Natal park is underway; rare cycads face increasing threats as they become a target for theft; almost 50 vultures are poisoned in the Kruger National Park; and distressing images of a pregnant rhino mother and calf killed by poachers.

Flight of the bumble bee-eaters

With their brilliant magenta plumage and accents of coral, turquoise and black, carmine bee-eaters are truly a sight to behold, turning even those least inclined into avian enthusiasts.

Special sighting: Ground-hornbill versus snake

It was a weekend trip through the south of Kruger with friends and we had been lucky to see Big 5 on both days, but there’s always a rush of excitement when something crosses our path – like a southern ground-hornbill taking on a snake.

Video: The birds are coming!

Epic video footage of sandgrouse swooping down at a waterhole for a drink in the Sera Conservancy in northern Kenya.

Harsh times for young storks

Bird-lover or not, the impressive yellow-billed stork colony in the Nsefu sector of the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia is definitely worthwhile paying a visit.

The prime shoebill spots in Uganda

Also referred to as a “King whale-head” because of its enormous head size, the shoebill stork is named after its shoe-like bill which can grow up to 24cm in length and 20cm in width. Even though they can weigh up to 6kg, they can stand quite easily on floating vegetation while hunting for fish.

Vulture crisis = Human crisis. Get involved

Africa is experiencing a vulture crisis. The white-backed vulture is one of eight African vulture species that is on the decline. Poisoning and traditional medicine pose a substantial threat to the survival of these ecologically essential birds.

Lutembe Bay: Counting birds (and the resident shoebill)

Over 1030 bird species have been recorded in Uganda, a veritable birder’s paradise. Indeed it’s quite common for European tourists (who have dismissed all birds as LBBs (or Little Brown Birds) to come to this country and take a new interest in birds.

Titanic battle between squirrel and parrot

On the morning of the 30th May, I witnessed a tussle between one of the current occupants of the nest, a brown-headed parrot pair, and a tree squirrel which dared to venture too close to the nest.

Uganda: Bird paradise

Uganda lies alongside the equator and it’s one of the most attractive countries in Africa. It boasts more bird species than any other country in Africa with a national list of more than 1000 species recorded, contributing to more than 10% of the world’s bird species.

Southern ground-hornbill: the forgotten one

In Africa, southern ground-hornbills are classified as ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN, however, those in South Africa are classified as ‘endangered’ on the Red List of Threatened Species as only about 1500 individuals live within the country.

Mabamba Marsh: A bird-lovers paradise!

Mabamba Bay swamp is a bird-lovers dream destination. It is home to 260 bird species, including the massive shoebill – Uganda’s most sought-after bird!

Vultures: nature’s best scavengers

Often called ugly, disgusting, and unhygienic, these large birds play a crucial role in the environment as nature’s best scavengers. They will find dead animals in the environment and pick the bones clean which in turn helps regulate potential carcass borne diseases that are exposed to other fauna.