More than half of Africa’s rhino are in private hands. With rising protection costs, what will it take to build a resilient private industry?
Category Archives: Decoding science
A passage to India – how the journey of southern Africa’s cheetah divided the experts
The reintroduction of cheetah to India is dividing conservationists. Is this an ecologically unsound vanity project or a conservation win?
Putting elephants on the map – exploring connectivity in southern Africa
How do elephants move across southern Africa through protected areas and beyond? New research explores the value of habitat connectivity
Seven safari myths – busted
Can you separate fact from fiction when it comes to the tall tales told about Africa’s wildlife? Our experts bust common safari myths
Population growth, exploitation and climate change: safeguarding Africa’s wildlife into the 22nd century
A study on population growth, resource exploitation & climate change highlights the necessary steps for preventing loss of wild habitats & species in Africa
Hippos to be uplisted? CITES CoP19
Ten African states have proposed the transfer of the hippo from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I ahead of the 19th Conference of the Parties. What does this entail?
Vanishing lions – a 75% decline in Africa’s iconic predators in just five decades
Africa’s lions are disappearing. New research shows that lion populations across the continent have declined by 75% in just five decades
The elephant in the room – how social media attention misses more pressing conservation threats
Social media impacts conservation. Research shows that the attention elephants receive on Twitter fails to address urgent conservation issues
The state of Africa’s rhino
Here’s our analysis of the IUCN report containing the most recent rhino numbers, trends, poaching incidents, conservation measures & trade updates
Human-wildlife conflict: The ones that got away from snares and shotguns
Scientists can now detect injuries from snares & shotguns on trophy-hunted lions & leopards – quantifying the extent of previously unreported human-wildlife conflict
Elephants that creep in the dark – how elephants distinguish between human activities
Chobe elephants have learnt how to change their activity patterns to reduce risk of human encounters – new research
Lions target particular types of cows – research
Understanding how predators select cattle for prey could help in protecting livestock from lions, mitigating human-wildlife conflict
Five years until the Kalahari’s hornbills start to vanish
Scientists have predicted that the Kalahari’s hornbills will start to vanish in five years – and climate change is to blame
Hawaii’s conspicuous African chameleons
How did chameleons come to evolve their kaleidoscopic capacity? Escapees from the 1970s Hawaiian pet trade may hold the answer
Kids eat first: research on wild dog feeding habits
New research shows that there is order in wild dog hunts. Painted wolf pups are the first to eat at a carcass.
Giraffe evolution – pieces of the puzzle
Under pressure – genetic research on giraffes reveals evolutionary secrets of how they cope with high blood pressure and maintain bone density.
Making Hippocrates proud: How animals self-medicate
Scientists have observed chimpanzees medicating the injuries of their peers – a behaviour never before witnessed in the animal kingdom
Kalahari’s overlapping cheetah litters
A cheetah mother has been observed simultaneously raising two cheetah cubs of different age classes – behaviour never witnessed in the wild
Elephant bulls – breeding and trophy hunting
Does the hunting of elephant bulls with large tusks lead to the decline of Africa’s tuskers? We examine the science
Keeping count – wildlife populations in Kruger’s private nature reserves
Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR), part of Greater Kruger, completed their 2021 wildlife census. We analyse the ebb & flow of results
Counting animals – the technology helping conservationists
Counting wild animals can be a complicated process, particularly when estimating populations in some of Africa’s massive protected wild areas
Caracals of Cape Town – navigating a landscape of fear
Caracals navigate the dangers of the urban Cape, attracted to the edge of urban spaces at a significant potential risk – new research.
Wildebeest sleep and the mysteries of slumber
Wildebeest sleep for just four and a half hours in a 24 hour period – most deeply in the dead of night – says new research
How the Kilimanjaro glaciers left truth in the cold
Kilimanjaro’s disappearing glaciers have been a symbol of climate change for more than than 15 years. Science says it is much more complicated.
Do tracking collars impact animals negatively?
New research indicates that animals fitted with tracking collars, experience no long-term, negative effects. Further research is needed however.
African grey parrots in traditional medicine
African grey parrots are targeted for medicinal and spiritual practices in West Africa. The trade is a significant threat to grey parrots – new research
Translocating lions does not reduce conflict – research
New research from Botswana shows that translocating lions in conflict with livestock owners is expensive and results in high lion mortality, repeat offences and very little reduction in human-lion conflict.
Does the farming and legal trade of wildlife do more harm than good? New study
Farming and legal trade of wildlife could increase demand for wildlife products and so be negative from a conservation perspective – research
Did fences cause the elephant deaths in Botswana?
New study examines whether fences could have impacted the elephant deaths in the Seronga region of Botswana in mid-2020.
Unravelling the elaborate sex lives of spotted hyenas
High-ranked male spotted hyenas are more reproductively successful than their low-ranked rivals – hormone and behaviour analysis reveals why.
Of ivory, elephants, shipwrecks and slaughter
Ivory recovered from 500-year-old shipwreck reveals details of the ivory trade and how it has devastated forest elephant populations.
Spotting elephants from space
Artificial intelligence and satellite images can help conservationists count elephants from space, says new research.
The extinction business – South Africa’s cold-blooded reptile trade
South Africa’s amphibian & reptile trade is a growing industry that is unregulated, unsustainable, and unethical – says report
Arch-enemies? New research on lions vs hyenas
Lions vs hyenas is the ultimate African drama. New research has shed light on the dynamics between these two apex predators
Female banded mongooses incite violence for better mating opportunities
Female banded mongooses lead their groups into deliberate conflict with rival groups to increase their chances of mating – research
Forest elephants going hungry as climate change stops trees from fruiting
Forest elephants are losing body condition – most probably due to climate impacts on forest tree fruit production – say researchers
COVID-19 ‘perfect storm’ threatens conservation in Africa
A new report examines just how bad COVID-19 is for Africa’s wildlife and protected areas and what needs to be done to save our wild spaces
Saving rodents, losing primates – we need tailored strategies to manage bushmeat trade
Viewing all bushmeat trade through one lens over-simplifies the complex situation and could lead to accelerated disappearance of some species
Trophy hunting – how do African people feel?
Trophy hunting: How do African people perceive and react to trophy hunting compared to those from the Western public – research
How much water should lodges be using?
How much water should safari lodges be using? The lowering of groundwater levels could compromise the ecosystem and wildlife.
Elephants & cattle – restoring soil nutrient levels
Research shows that elephants can assist farmers by restoring soil nutrient levels when cattle have depleted those nutrients
Cyanobacteria to blame for elephant deaths – Botswana officials
Elephant deaths: The sudden deaths of over 300 elephants in Botswana were caused by cyanotoxins produced by blue-green algae, say officials
The importance of adult male elephants
The selective harvesting of old bull elephants damages broader elephant society because of the important role played by the bulls – research
Why are elephants dying in Zimbabwe and Botswana?
Elephants dying: Professor Keith Somerville investigates the mysterious deaths of more than 300 elephants in Zimbabwe and Botswana
“Lost” species of elephant shrew alive and well
Researchers have rediscovered the Somali Sengi (an elephant shrew) – which was thought to be extinct and was last seen nearly 50 years ago
Domestic cat predation on wild animals in Cape Town
The domestic cat is a honed killing machine whose impact on biodiversity in South Africa is only now being fully revealed
Counting lions: new study shows the importance of good counts for lion conservation
Counting lions using correct techniques is vital to understand how many lions there are. Historical surveys have not resulted in good data
Keeping an eye on predators
Attacks on livestock by wild predators is a common problem in Africa – and scientists say that painting eyes on cattle backsides could help
“Living dead” – elephants in Kruger NP are sterilizing palm trees, says research
Elephants feeding on fan palm trees are preventing the palms from reaching full size & reproductive potential in Kruger NP, says new study
Tiny primate: new species of mouse lemur discovered
Scientists have discovered a new species of mouse lemur in Madagascar – which is already threatened by habitat loss & climate change
Roan antelope conservation challenges
Roan antelope populations have dropped to perilously low levels, and there is every chance they could disappear from the areas such as Kruger National Park
Will legal international rhino horn trade save wild rhino populations?
Will legal international rhino horn trade save the wild rhino population? Find out here in this thought-provoking opinion post
It’s not about the worm
Mopane worms are a popular source of protein and delicious snack for rural people in Limpopo – read about a sustainable Kruger harvest program
Aardvarks and climate change
Aardvarks are being severely impacted by climate change, says research being conducted in arid areas where temperatures are expected to rise
Human impact results in leopard inbreeding – research
Human activity is affecting negatively on leopard populations – via changes in age, sex & social structure of leopard populations – research
Trophy hunting ban could harm conservation on private fenced farms in South Africa – says study
Trophy hunting on many private fenced farms in South Africa – this study examines the impact that a ban could have on biodiversity
The real economic value of Greater Kruger National Park
A 2020 study has revealed the considerable economic, social and political contributions of the Greater Kruger National Park
The rat with a deadly secret
Deadly secret: the crested rat transfers poison from the bark & leaves of a highly toxic tree to its fur as a predator-evasion strategy
Lion evolution according to genome sequencing
Scientists have used genome sequencing of lions to reveal the evolutionary history of living & extinct lion species.
20mm pygmy seahorse discovered in South Africa
A divemaster has discovered a new species of pygmy seahorse in a sandy coral reef in Sodwana Bay, South Africa, that is only 20 mm long.
Wildlife trade between South Africa and China exposed – legal and illegal
The vast scale of legal and illegal trade in wildlife species between South Africa and China – many of them CITES 1 species – has been revealed by an extensive report.
Forest elephant populations smaller than previously thought
Africa’s forest elephant populations are smaller than was previously thought, say researchers. This realisation has a significant impact on future priorities and conservation strategies.
What’s in a (scientific) name?
The weird meanings behind animal scientific names – for example, the black rhino scientific name means ‘double horn double horn’
Which African countries have the highest percentage of protected land?
We compare the proportion of each African country’s land that falls under some form of protected status – to assess their conservation ranking
Secretive forest species such as giant ground pangolins and Congo peafowl revealed by camera traps in DR Congo
Secretive forest species such as giant ground pangolin, Congo peafowl and cusimanse revealed by camera traps in DR Congo.
Elephant collaring in the Greater Kruger by Elephants Alive and Blue Sky Society Trust – a process driven by science and the need for data
What exactly is CITES and how does it work?
CITES was established to regulate the international trade of animals & plants, to avoid the over-exploitation of endangered species
CITES processes are corrupt, says report
A report from TRAFFIC explains how corruption undermines the CITES-authorised trade in wildlife and offers suggestions as to how to mitigate its effects.
Newly discovered Taita Mountain dwarf galago (bushbaby) could already be on the brink of extinction
Newly-discovered species of bushbaby (galago) in Kenya’s Taita Hills is already on the verge of extinction due to habitat loss, say scientists
The spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) is one of the world’s most misunderstood animals. Public perception often tends towards scorn and even outright hate – they are reviled as cowardly, thieving, dirty, ugly, lazy…the list goes on. These impressions are embedded in human history and public consciousness then reinforced by mainstream media and films. Fortunately, though, …
Leopard raids ground-hornbill nest
Video: a leopard raids a ground-hornbill nest in the Greater Kruger – yet another threat facing this threatened species
Elephant body language 101 – a guide for beginners
Elephant body language is a complex topic, yet there are a few simple clues and signals that explain elephant emotions and intentions
There’s a cheetah on the roof – when wildlife viewing crosses the line
How close is too close? Cheetahs regularly climb onto safari vehicles. Here is why this practice is unethical, dangerous and invasive.
Painted wolves (African wild dogs) released after rescue
Ten wild dogs have been released into a private game reserve near Kruger National Park after being rescued from intolerant landowners
Black honey badgers spotted in Gabon
4 Melanistic (black) honey badgers captured on a camera trap in Gabon.
Humans not always to blame for genetic diversity loss in wildlife
People are not always to blame for loss of genetic diversity in wildlife, says new study.
Malaria is a parasitic disease that is usually spread by the female Anopheles mosquito. Prevention is better than cure, and we provide tips
Wildebeest migration routes under threat – researchers
Migratory routes of wildebeest in East Africa are under threat as human populations expand, say scientists.
Who is who? Elephant identification tips and tricks
This is how researchers in Greater Kruger identify individual elephants.
Saving the Northern White Rhino: Third Embryo Successfully Created
International scientists and Kenyan conservation authorities have successfully created the third viable embryo of the near-extinct northern white rhino. The global initiative has taken yet another step in the long journey to pull this subspecies back from the brink.
Killifish – suspended animation & shortest lifespan of any animal with a backbone
The killifish is a survivor that scientists are desperate to learn from. Using suspended animation to survive being entombed in dry mud, combined with the shortest lifespan of any animal with a backbone, killifish could unlock secrets to human ageing.
Conservation needs diversified approaches – opinion
Scientists suggest alternative land-use models to trophy hunting – models that are more inclusive of local people.
Lion poaching: Escalating demand for claws and teeth
The escalating demand for lion teeth and claws in Asian markets is driving the increased poaching of wild lions, says report.
Elephant poaching decimates key Gabon reserve
Elephant population in Gabon’s Minkébé National Park have been decimated, with 25,000 being poached in 10 years (80% reduction), says research results.
Leopard hunting: CITES quotas not sustainable, say researchers
CITES trophy hunting quotas for leopards are arbitrary and not sustainable, says research. Read here to find what the 3 researchers recommend.
Millipedes – 10 facts that we find interesting
Giant African millipedes often have unusually brightly coloured legs and bodies.
Survival against the odds – 2 special elephants
The touching stories of two wild elephants whose struggle for survival will amaze (and humble) you, and provide a sense of perspective into the wonderful journey of life.
African grey parrots: How social media is facilitating both illegal trade and the fight against it
A recent study examines how social media marketplaces facilitate trafficking of endangered African grey parrots.
Elephants and trees
Does removing elephants save trees? This fascinating report delves into this important conservation issue.
Collaring elephants in Gilé National Reserve – wilderness at its best!
Elephant conservation in action: Collaring elephants in Gilé National Reserve in Mozambique.
Zimbabwe elephants: Report identifies existing conservation problems, calls for community involvement
Zimbabwe elephants: Report fingers ZimParks for incompetence and international NGOs for hoodwinking donors, concludes that surrounding communities have to be involved in conservation as beneficiaries.
Lions in Zambia are roaming across areas thought uninhabitable for them
Research: Lions are sneaking virtually undetected through dense human zones in Zambia, thereby ensuring genetic diversity throughout the entire Zambian lion population.
New report reveals the value of lions and their landscapes
The New Lion Economy is the first project of its kind to make the link between ecosystem services, economic development, cultural significance and the survival of lions.
Twiga Tracker – Using modern technology to save the endangered reticulated giraffe
In a world first, the single largest GPS satellite tagging of endangered giraffes has taken place in Kenya.
Daisies that close at night have camouflaged petals to protect them from herbivores
A recent study has revealed a novel way in which flowers can avoid being eaten by herbivores.
Vultures of the Old World
“When one thinks about vultures, one envisions a bald-headed, blood-thirsty scavenger waiting for something or someone to perish. We have been brought up to believe that evil surrounds vultures, and this has led to cinematography portraying the species in a negative and unloved light. This has most certainly contributed to the species being disliked and …
Leopards in Namibia – latest population census results
The results of a recent leopard census in Namibia, providing a more accurate estimate of the distribution and number of leopards in the country.
Opinion: Approval of citrus farm on Greater Kruger border puts the region’s Protected Area Expansion Project at risk
Citrus farm approved on the border of Greater Kruger. Concerned protected area managers believe that this will threaten the entire region.
The Brown Hyena
Steeped in myths and legends regarding magical powers, hermaphroditism and black magic, and more recently cast as villains by Disney, the hyena family undoubtedly suffers from a bad reputation. With their gentle, social interactions and strong kin bonds rarely witnessed, and their reputation amongst farmers as a livestock predator, the misunderstood and secretive brown hyena …