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Africa Geographic
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Africa Geographic Travel

50|50 returns to South African television screens this Monday with with their 30th Anniversary Season! See below for the lineup to their upcoming episode, due for screening Monday 2 September, at 19h30 on SABC 2. 


As the demand for rhino horn soars, driven by buyers in Asia for its reputed medicinal properties and status symbolism, so too does the sophistication of the poachers. Faced with hunting gangs using helicopters, night-vision goggles and high-powered rifles, the brave people protecting the rhinos are also being forced to up their game. With almost 600 rhinos already poached this year, conservationists have been forced to look to smart technologies to save the planet’s wildlife. We need solutions that are as sophisticated as the threats the rhinos face, but there is no single silver bullet to curb the horrendous tide of slaughter. One of the latest buzzwords in discussions about anti-poaching tools is ‘drones’. While legislation around the use of these unmanned aerial vehicles is foggy, the technological trend seems to be taking off. So what are drones and how can they be employed in the anti-poaching battle? Although it is tempting to fit these flying devices with weapons that could blow up poachers, their main focus is surveillance and reaction. This kind of monitoring proves especially valuable in large areas where there just isn’t enough manpower to keep an eye on everything. But the operation is not just about launching things into the African night and hoping to find something, it’s doing it with a base of mathematics and sound science. Bonne went on a little fact-finding mission where she found herself becoming the pursued.

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Heaviside’s dolphins

The Heaviside’s dolphin has never appeared on television before, yet it spends its time frolicking in the waves off Sea Point, right under the noses of Capetonians. This dolphin is endemic to the Benguela Current system off the west coast of southern Africa and occurs nowhere else in the world. Its listing as ‘data deficient’ by the IUCN is due to the paucity of scientific research on this species. Population sizes are estimated at 800 to 1 000, but little proof exists to verify these numbers. The lack of scientific data about the Heaviside’s dolphin is of concern in terms of its conservation. Research teams from South Africa and abroad are now focusing their attention on the dolphin’s habitat ecology and behaviour – information that will go a long way to understanding the conservation status of the species. This is important because Heaviside’s dolphins get caught in fishing nets and are affected by oceanic pollution. They are only listed under Appendix II of the Conservation on Migratory Species (CMS), which encourages international agreements in the conservation and management of the species. Will this ground-breaking research help us decide if stricter conservation agreements are necessary?

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Johann takes us on a rock pool safari, moving along the east coast to teach us about rocky shore ecology. Invertebrates take centre stage and even microscopic creatures don’t escape Johann’s keen sense of tracking! From nudibranchs squirting clouds of purple ink as a defence to upside-down crustaceans (commonly known as barnacles) that filter feed on algae soup, we explore the fascinating adaptations of the rocky shores – a place of extremes: flooded when the tide is high, dry when the tide is low.

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We look at how young cats learn to hunt and how spiders fish. A cheetah mother and her young take on a male impala and mom takes a back seat as the youngsters learn the ropes. Young male lions become timid around a large female gemsbok, which stands dead still as the lions fall asleep around her instead of going in for the kill. What could be the explanation? We see a video of the amazing fishing technique of fishing spiders, which hang above a floating leaf and use vibrations to locate their prey, then grab the tiny fish that swim beneath them with lightning speed.

All photos © 50|50

50| 50

A television programme that has, for twenty-five years, presented the successes and disasters of conservation to South Africa's people. 50|50 has influenced environmental policy, stirred the public against environmental injustices, promoted the work of our dedicated conservationists, and helped to create a stronger awareness of conservation and environmental issues in South Africa. Weekly on a Monday on SABC2 at 7:30pm - 8:30pm Visit the 50/50 website , or follow us on Facebook