Here is the line-up for the South African TV show 50 | 50: Anniversary Season: Episode 12, on 11 November 2013. Learn how sharks are being threatened by humans, the potential discovery of a new species of sengi, and the issue of wildlife in urban areas.
Sharks threatened by extinction
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has 143 shark species listed as threatened or near threatened with extinction. The main threats to sharks are caused by humans: over-fishing, illegal fishing, shark nets and by-catch. With an increasing demand for shark meat to supplement depleting fish availability, and shark fins for shark fin soup, all odds are stacked against shark conservation. Manta and sting rays are also on the decline as they are targeted for their gill rakers which are used for pseudo-traditional Asian medicine. The decline in shark and ray species will have severe knock on effects on the entire marine ecosystem. At the recent COP 16, CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) listed 3 species of shark and 2 manta ray species on Appendix 2, meaning that only regulated trade of the species will be permitted. Will this actually help – it doesn’t seem to have worked with the rhinos? What will it take to stop the uncontrolled slaughter and de-finning of these valuable species?
It looks like a mouse with an extra-long nose but the sengi, or elephant shrew, is actually not a rodent at all. Its part of the ancient family containing elephants, dugongs and aardvarks. These tiny organisms – possibly smaller than the toenail of an elephant – are found on the African continent and islands where there are about nineteen different species. We join Bertus on a trip with researcher Hanneline Smit-Robinson who has potentially discovered a new species of sengi. These animals seem insignificant, yet they play an important role in conservation as indicator species, informing scientists when external factors are imposing a threat to specific habitats. Will the research team discover a new species? If you are nosey to find out then you won’t want to miss this one!
Wildlife in urban areas
The brown hyena is most commonly associated with the vast open plains of the Kalahari bushveld. To see this shaggy brown creature with its leathery face and short hind-legs running through the streets of Joburg is, according to some, disconcerting and even scary. On the 26 September a young female brown hyena was spotted in a JHB suburb. After being darted by a vet from the JHB Zoo it was stabilised and taken into quarantine at the zoo for rehabilitation. The young hyena was in a state of shock and its paws were shredded from running along tar roads through the city. This is apparently the third hyena to have been reported in Joburg this year! We look at the larger issue of wildlife in urban areas and how the public should respond to wild animals in and around their homes. Fear seems to be perpetuated by ignorance about wild animals. We find it is important to understand that hyenas are predominantly scavengers, feeding off rubbish and carrion in cities, and the possibility of them attacking a dog or a human is very low rather, they deserve our concern and conservation efforts.
It’s all about predatory determination with strategic cheetah hunting manoeuvres, fishing hyenas, aqua-dynamic lions and snake-wrangling servals.