Should wolves in Europe have their conservation downgraded? Are they really stable enough to be hunted again

The European commision has proposed downgrading the protection of wolves from their current strictly protected, but it has been suggested that this is not based on any science.

A total of 9 countries (The call for a re-evaluation of the annexes of the EU Habitats Directive is included in a note put forward by Finland with the support of Austria, Czechia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden, ahead of the EU Agriculture Council meeting of 23 January).

The problem with this move, is that while in some countries like Romania, there is a large and healthy wolf population, in other countries like France it is a very different matter. If there is a change in their status, it needs to be assessed country by country, and the European Union must really require minimum levels, otherwise, this move is highly likely to lead to the extinction of the wolf across much of Europe once again.

While living alongside wolves is not always simple, it is essential to have predators to control populations of prey, such as deer. This is not something that is easily replaced by culling, and in the UK, the likely reduction in car collisions with deer would save far more than the cost of compensation for the occasional livestock that might be lost (of course, the wolf is not currently wild in the UK and the current government sees no reason to change this).

While complicated, the interest in the wolf is high, and it is highly likely that farmers would be able to supplement their farming income by money they could be paid through ecotourism and allowing people to try to see the wolves from their land. Wolves as with many other species are still slowly recovering from centuries of persecution, they are needed for our ecosystem to flourish, and can be good for everyone, with adjustments and compensation for loss of livestock.

More than 20 indigenous groups have called on the Australian government to stop culling Dingoes

For indigenous communities, killing dingoes are a cultural icon, and for them killing them is tantamount to killing a family member.

This has been raised more forcefully, after recent surveys showed that the Australian dingo is actually genetically very pure.

Given their classification of being native species, they should not be culled.

It is true that there is some question as to when the dingo arrived in Australia, and whether it arrived with early humans, however that would still mean that they arrived 50,000 years ago, which would definitely make them native in almost any regular description.

Flamingo and Grebe Species

Flamingoes and Grebes

At the top of the page is an image of every species of flamingo, below you will find some information on each species. Below this, you will find the same for the grebes.

As always, should you work in tourism or conservation of any of these species, do get in touch, we are keen to help people find you. Click on list your wild place on the homepage main menu.

American Flamingo

Found in the West Indies, northern South America (including the Galápagos Islands) and the Yucatan Peninsula. It was considered cospecifc with the greater flamingo, but they are now recognized as separate species (it is also closely related to the Chilean flamingo). 

Formerly it was a culture icon in Southern Florida, but was largely extirpated by 1900. Having said this, there are vagrant flamingos in Florida, and these now often stay in the country worldwide.

There are 80,000-90,000 left in the wild, and there are 4 breeding colonies: in South America (in the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador, coastal Colombia and Venezuela, and northern Brazil), in the West Indies (Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic and Haiti), The Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands), and tropical and subtropical areas of continental North America (along the northern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, and formerly southern Florida in the United States).

Andean Flamingo

Found in the Andes mountains of South America, it is in the same genus as the James Flamingo. Indeed, the Chilean Andea and James flamingo often share nesting sites and are relatively closely related.

It is considered vulnerable to extinction with roughly 34,000 remaining in the wild, but declining over time.

As with other flamingos they are filter feeders, though what they filter can vary from algae to small fish – which they look for in shallow salty water.

They migrate between salt lakes in the summer and lower wetlands in winter – with the capacity of covering 700 miles a day.

The threat that this species faces, is generally due to human activity of mining and other changes to their habitat.

Chilean Flamingo

Closely related to the American and greater flamingo, it is listed as near threatened in the wild with a wild population of about 200,000. Population declines are due to habitat loss and degradation, harvesting and human disturbance.

While they are only currently listed as near threatened, there is a great deal of concern about falling populations, and as such they are relatively common in zoos and there is an active breeding program..

 

Greater Flamingo

The greaterflamingo has the greatest of ranges of any species (as you can see from the map. While it is found down the East coast of Africa, it is also found on the northwest coast and the northern coast. It is also present in the middle east, and throughout much of Sothern Europe. Its range also extends into India. It is listed as least concern with a population between 550,000 and 680,000 with between 45,000 and 125,000 living in Europe – the Camargue is the most famous in Southern France

They are listed as least concern

 

James Flamingo

The James flamingo is also found on the high Andean plateau, and is closely related to the Andean Flamingo. It was thought extinct until a population was rediscovered in 1956, and the current population is thought to be around 106,000.

It is currently listed as near threatened, and on CITES appendix 2.

Lesser Flamingo

Found in Sub-Saharan Africa and India. While the smallest species, it still stands 80-90cm tall. The easiest way to tell this and the greater flamingo (with overlapping range) apart is that the greater flamingo has more black on its bill.

Estimates on the number of this species range from “above” 2 million to as much as 5 million.

They generally breed in highly caustic lakes of the great rift valley in Africa, though there are places in India and a few other places as well.

They are classed as near threatened. While their choice of nesting site protects from many predators, it is still true that many flamingos are killed. From fish eagles to baboons and big cats, there are many species who will eat a flamingo if they can get hold of it.

It is well worth seeing this animal in the wild. Seeing 750,000 lesser flamingos on lake nakuru in kenya is a site that is hard to forget.

Visits to see flamingos are well worth it, and while some live in remote places, it is usually a species which is reliable. Please get in touch if you work in tourism or conservation of this species. Click on list your wild place on the home page of the website.

Next the Grebes

While some sites claim 22 species, my list has found that some of these were extinct (indeed, according to my list there were 3 species that have gone extinct. If there are any experts out there who notice one missing, let me know

We are eager as always to help people find places to see these birds. Do let me know if you work in wildlife tourism or run a place to stay where these birds are regularly seen. Click on list your wild place on the front page of the website.

Cassowary species

 PaleoNeolitic (montage creator) BS Thurner Hof Kora27 Martin Sordilla – Wikimedia Commons

Cassowary

  • There are 3 species of Cassowary, from left to right Southern, Northern and dwarf Cassowary. The Southern Cassowary is the 3rd largest and 2nd heaviest bird in the world, after ostrich and rhea.

90% of their diet consists of fruit. Having said this, they are classed as omnivores and take a range of foods including shoots and grass seeds, fungi invertebrates, eggs carrion fish and small vertebrates such as rodents, small birds, frogs, lizards and snakes. While all of the ratite family can eat meat, Cassowaries are by definition the most omnivorous, and while other ratites will eat meat when other food is scarce Cassowaries take more meat than others.

While the southern Cassowary has part of its range on Australia, all three have their main range on New Guinea

  • The southern Cassowary is listed as least concern by the IUCN, however with a 4400 individuals other agencies class it as endangered.
  • The northern Cassowary is also listed as least concern by IUCN and this population numbers 10,000-20,000
  • The dwarf Cassowary is listed as least concern as well. Unfortunately I cannot find estimates for this species, but with an overall population of 20,000-50,000 it is likely to be the most common
Adults are formidable enough that there is no regular predation. However, a range of birds such as the Papuan eagle, mammals such as the New Guinea singing dogs, and reptiles such as pythons and monitor lizards all take young when adults are not protecting enough.
Below is any news we have written on this species, and below that will be listed places you can see this species in the wild. Should you work in conservation or tourism on this range of species do get in touch through the list your wild place link on the home page.

Ostrich

Both ostrich species Combined PaleoNeolithic photo credit Diego Delso&Ninara

Both ostrich species Combined PaleoNeolithic photo credit Diego Delso&Ninara

Ostrich

Common Ostrich 

Somali Ostrich

The common ostrich is found across a large part of the African Continent. Until 1919 there was a fourth subspecies of the common ostrich which was found across much of the Arabian Peninsular. It was completely extinct in the wild by 1972. They have now been reintroduced to Israel, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and United Arab Emirates – though it is hard to find accurate figures for how many are found there now. (Do get in touch if you operate a reserve with these birds present, we would love to help people find you).

As you can see, the other African subspecies  are still going.

The Somali Ostrich was only recognized as a separate species back in 2014, having been thought to be a subspecies until them.

A report to the IUCN in 2006 believed that this ostrich was common in central and southern Somalia until 1970-80. However, following the breakdown in the country, it is not surprising that conservation took back-stage, and it is questionable as to whether any remain (in the horn of africa).

In Kenya it is farmed for meat, feathers and eggs.

This is a map of the different Ostrich species and subspecies range

  • The yellow area, shows the range of the Somali Ostrich – Now recognized as a separate species.
  • The green area shows the range of the Massai Ostrich – while this population is listed as least concern, its numbers are in decline
  • The red is the South African Ostrich, this is generally secure, though only found within reserves.
  • The Orange is the range of the North African Ostrich: classed as critically endangered, it is only found in 6 of the 18 countries it originally roamed. It is the largest and heaviest subspecies. The countries it is still found in include fragmented pockets of Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic and Senegal. They have also been reintroduced into Chad, Morocco and in 2014 (127 years after being lost) Tunisia. They were reintroduced to Saudi Arabia in the Mahazat as-Sayd Protected Area in 1994 and this population has done well with around 90-100 now living within this reserve

There is thought to be approximately 150,000 ostrich left in the wild. Having said this, like other large species, they are prone to local extinction. The best way to see these in the wild are to head to reserves where they still exist. 

Unfortunately, they are not easy to look after – in smaller reserves with large predators, they can be hunted and face local extinction. As such, while there are other reserves where they hang on, the majority of their remaining population are split between big reserves like the Kruger and the Serengeti, and small reserves like the Cape point national park in South Africa (this reserve is only 77.5 square km, or around 30 square miles and was in the past a big 5 nature reserve. Now, only the cape leopard is present and this is very rarely seen.

If you wish to see the Ostrich look in our list of wild places. Kruger, Okavango  and the Serengeti all have ostrich (in Kruger you need to look in the more sparsely area in the north of the park).

Reversing extinction: Marwell zoo and the scimitar-horned oryx

Declared extinct in the wild back in 2000, this species is now not only re-established in the wild, but has a big enough population to now only be listed as endangered (down from critically endangered).

Apart from supplying individuals for the reintroduction, Marwell zoo also helped with strategy.

The video below is just 2 minutes long. While it talks about Marwells other work as well, it shows a number of these animals living wild back in Africa.

This has got to become the reason for zoos. What ever else they do, there are many species at risk of extinction in the wild, these need to have enough captive individuals to re-establish wild populations, should the current conservation fail.

Of course, zoos have many other roles, from education, to fostering a love of wildlife in the next generation.

One thing that they should not be, is a curio house- many zoos are far to worried about displaying albino or melanistic individuals. Now while these individuals are fascinating and can be used as ambassadors for the species, their genetic health should be looked after (all white tigers are descended from one female, and closely related individuals are regularly bred togerther to ensure this trait is passed down. Indeed, as a result of this, white tigers are often not of good health.

The majority of zoos are now like Marwell – while like many, it started as the private zoo of wealthy owners it has turned into an important place of conservation and science. Another of their successes, is the cooperative breeding that occurs as standard in current times, across Europe. Regular loaning of animals is essential, so that we can treat all of the zoo animals in Europe as one single population, thereby  making sure that all animals in the system are healthy.

There are many hundreds of zoos across Europe (some claim as many as 2000, though around 1500 is the estimated worldwide number suggesting that this is a rather large exaggeration. It is likely that around half of the worlds zoos are in Europe, and by cooperative breeding, we can make sure that healthy populations remain in captivity, so that should a population be lost from the wild, it can be returned, when the wild situation improves.

Almost all predictions about human population are expected to peak in the coming decades, and then decline after that. If this pattern is followed, it should be expected that we will need to re-establish wilderness in the future. 

Scimitar-horned oryx have been returned to the wild in Tunisia, and Chad and there are plans to return them to the wild in Niger, in the near future.

Extinction was caused by a variety of features, but the primary one was over-hunting. This has virtually been eliminated, after a ban on hunting of this species was put into effect in 2013. Should this species be allowed to fully recover. In 1985, there was a population of at least 500 of this species living in the wild, so it took only 15 years for it to disappear, as such what is clearly essential is a regular assessment on how this species is faring, allowing earlier interventions.

Saving the natural world, may require this kind of success to be a regular feature.

Albino panda spotted in the wild

Rare albino panda seen again

If anyone has been reading this blog for some time, you may remember me writing about an albino panda that was photographed in wulong nature reserve in China (click here to read it)

This bear has been caught on camera (see above) and appears to be doing well. It has started to display mating behaviour and appears to be extremely healthy. It has all the features generally associated with albinism, with white fur and red eyes.. It is now around 5-6 years old, and has been seen playing with other pandas, suggesting that its unusual colouring is not leading to it being shunned from other pandas.

It was filmed approaching a mother with a 2 year-old cub. As the mother was ready to mate again, and yet did not show aggression to this male bear getting close, it is likely that this female is the mother of the white cub.

Currently thought to be numbered 1800 in the wild, the panda is currently listed as threatened – having been delisted from being endangered in 2016. It is also an integral part of the Giant panda national park which is being created, and links 67 panda reserves, allowing the bears to travel between the former islands of habitat, giving them the ability to breed in a more natural way. This is important, as inbreeding would make panda conservation even harder.

3.4.5 Peleinae, Alcelaphinae, Hippotraginae

Subfamilies 3. Peleinae, 4. Alcelaphinae, 5. Hippotraginae

The subfamily 3. Peleinae (one species)

Grey Rhebok

Grey Rhebok

The grey rhebok or grey rhebuck, locally known as the vaalribbok in Afrikaans, is native to South Africa, Lesotho, and Eswatini (Swaziland). The specific name capreolus is Latin for ‘little goat’. Generally confined to the higher areas of Southern Africa, they typically inhabit grassy, montane habitats – for example, sourveld – usually 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) above sea level, and carry a woolly grey coat to insulate them from the cold. They are not strictly limited to this habitat as they can be found in the coastal belt of the Cape, almost at sea level.

The grey rhebok is listed as “Near Threatened”, with a population of between 10,000-18,000

4. Subfamily Alcelaphinae - Sassabies, Hartebeest, Wildebeest (6 species)

Hirola

The HIrola ( also known as the Hunters hartebeest or hunters antelope) is a critically endangered species. It was named by H.C.V Hunter (a big game hunter and zoologist) in 1888. It is the only member of the genus Beatragus, and it currently has 300-500 individuals living in the wild (there are none in captivity).

It is a widely known fact, that should the Hirola be lost from the wild, it will be the last species in its genus, and therefore the first mammal genus to go extinct in Africa in the modern era. Locals have got behind this species, with 17 conservancies protecting much of the area. There are even efforts to make some of this area devoid of predators, so as to help this species bounce back faster.

Hirola

Tsessebbe, other names regularly used include Topi Sasseby and Tiang

Tsessebbee

The Tsessebbe is part of a group of so called species, which are actually subspecies (there are 5 or 6 subspecies recognized

It is closest related to the Bangweulu Tsessebe, Less so, but still very close to the Topi, Korrigum, Coastal Topi and teh Tiang subspecies. Even the Bontebok is very closely related.

  •  Tsessebbes have around 300,000 living wild
  • Korrigum (Senegalese Hartebeest) in 2004, it was numbered 2650, split between 2 national parks. They situation has not improved
  • Topi are doing well with over 100,00
  • Currently, the Tiang still number very high.

Bontebok

Found only in Southern Africa, its range includes South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia

There are 2 subspecies:

  • Bontebok, found around the western cape -2500-3000 (vulnerable IUCN)
  • Blesbok, found in the high-veld. Closely related to the Tsessebe has a population of around 120,000 (Least concern IUCN)
The majority of this is in protected reserves, meaning that the current threat is low and this species should keep growing
Bontebok

Hartebeest

Hartebeest

The Hartebeest – as many as 70 subspecies, local variants and similar have been suggested, however there is only one currently recognized species.

Overall, the species is listed as least concern with a population of around 360,000. The red hartebeest has a population of 130,000, but at the other end the Swaynes hartebeest in Ethiopia is only thought to number 800 in the wild. The Bulbul hartebeast (light blue) is extinct. The Lelwel Hartebeest(green) is considered endangered and has around 70,000 members. The western or Major hartebeest has around 36,000. What is clear, is that if you are travelling to an area where the local hartebeest is struggling, it would be we worth paying to see them, so as to give a value to them

Blue Wildebeest

  • Other names include common wildebeest, white-bearded gnu or brindled gnu.

There has been five subspecies recognized:

 

  • C.t.taurinus (Burchell, 1823), the blue wildebeest, common wildebeest, or brindled gnu Inhabits the dark brown range

  • C. t. johnstoni (Sclater, 1896), the Nyassaland wildebeest, inhabit orange (Tanzania, Mozambique Malawi)
  • C. t. albojubatus (Thomas, 1912), the eastern white-bearded wildebeest, found in the Gold (beside the Yelow)
  • C. t. mearnsi (Heller, 1913), the western white-bearded wildebeest, its range is shown in yellow
  • C. t. cooksoni (Blaine, 1914), Cookson’s wildebeest, is restricted to the Luangwa Valley in Zambia. This is the mighter brown

In addition, the distinctive appearance of a western form, ranging from the Kalahari to central Zambia, suggests that subspecies mattosi (Blaine, 1825) may also prove distinct from subspecies taurinus. The western form can be recognised even at a distance by its upright mane, long beard, and minimal brindling.

There are around 1.5 million of this species living in the wild – so they are not endangered. Having said this, given that 1.3 million (almost 90% of them live in the Serengeti ecosystem), were something to happen, we could be in a very different position..

Blue wildebeest

Black Wildebeest

Black wildebeest

The Black wildebeest is the black wildebeest or white-tailed gnu is one of the two closely related wildebeest species.  It was first described in 1780 by Eberhard August Wilhelm von Zimmermann. It came surprisingly close to extinction, having been hunted as a pest and for its meat and hide.

The current population is now thought to be around 18,000, though 7000 of this is in Namibia (outside their natural range) where they are farmed. Their conservation status is least concern

5. Subfamily Hippotraginae

Addax

The addax , also known as the white antelope and the screwhorn antelope, is an antelope found in the  Sahara Desert. The only member of the genus Addax, it was first described scientifically by Henri de Blainville in 1816. As suggested by its alternative name, the pale antelope has long, twisted horns – typically 55 to 80 cm  in females and 70 to 85 cm in males. Males stand from 105 to 115 cm at the shoulder, with females at 95 to 110 cm. The females are smaller than the males (sexually diamorphic). The colour of the coat depends on the season – in the winter, it is greyish-brown with white hindquarters and legs, and long, brown hair on the head, neck, and shoulders; in the summer, the coat turns almost completely white or sandy blonde.

The addax mainly eats grasses and leaves of any available shrubs, leguminous herbs and bushes and can survive with no more water than that in the plants they eat for long periods of time. Addax form herds of 5to 20 members, consisting of both males and females, but they are led by the eldest female. Due to its slow movements, the addax is an easy target for its predators: humans, lions, leopards, cheetahs and African wild dogs. Breeding season is at its peak during winter and early spring. The natural habitat of the addax are arid regions, semideserts and sandy and stony deserts.

The addax is a critically endangered species of antelope, as classified by the IUCN (though the USFWS lists them as endangered, as the population is thought to have gone from under 100 to around 500 in the last few years) . Although extremely rare in its native habitat due to unregulated hunting, it is quite common in captivity. The addax was once abundant in North Africa; however it is currently only native to Chad, Mauritania, and Niger. It is extirpated from Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, and Western Sahara, but has been reintroduced into Morocco and Tunisia. On the map, they green areas are where they still live, while the red represent places that they have been reintroduced

Addax

Sable Antelope

Known for its impressive back curving horns, the sable antelope is a large antelope which inhabits wooded savanna in East and Southern Africa, from the south of Kenya to South Africa, with a separated population in Angola.

There are 4 subspecies

  • The southern sable antelope (other names include the common sable antelope, black sable antelope, Matsetsi sable antelope or South Zambian sable antelope) was the first to be described in 1838 and so is considered the nominate subspecies. Often referred to as the black sable antelope because it tends to have the darkest coat, this subspecies occurs south of the Zambezi River, particularly in northern Botswana and in large numbers in the Matsetsi Valley of Zimbabwe, but it is also found in South Africa. Currently, only about 15% pure Matsetsi sable antelopes are thought to exist in South Africa. The Matsetsi sable antelope population in Zimbabwe is only 450 (down from 24,000 in 1994). The sable antelope population in South Africa is about 7,000 (commercial and in reserves). Therefore, the Matsetsi sable antelope population apparently is less than 1,500 and declining. However, most of the sable antelope in the reserves are pure Matsetsi sable antelope. Anglo-American recently started a program of breeding pure Matsetsi sable antelope commercially and keeping them pure.
  • The giant sable antelope (also known as the royal sable antelope) is so named because both sexes are larger and their horns are recognizably longer. It is found only in a few remaining localities in central Angola. It is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List and is listed on Appendix I of CITES. There are thought to be less than 1000 left in the wild. Given a war raged for 27 years (ending in 2002), there is little tourism to the country. If this changes it is likely to give impetus for protecting what wildlife that remains.
  • The Zambian sable antelope (also known as the West Zambian sable antelope or West Tanzanian sable antelope) has the largest geographic range of the four subspecies, which extends north of the Zambezi River through Zambia, the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and Malawi into southwestern Tanzania. It is classified as Vulnerable (I cannot find a population estimate.
  • The eastern sable antelope (also known as the Shimba sable antelope) is the smallest of the four subspecies. It occurs in the coastal hinterlands of southern Kenya, particularly in the Shimba Hills National Reserve, and ranges through the region east of Tanzania’s eastern escarpment and into northern Mozambique.

In English “great sable antelope”, “sable” or the Swahili name mbarapi are sometimes used. An archaic term used in accounts of hunting expeditions in South Africa is “potaquaine”; the origin and exact application are unclear. Local names include swartwitpens (Afrikaans), kgama or phalafala (Sotho), mBarapi or palahala (Swahili), kukurugu, kwalat or kwalata (Tswana), ngwarati (Shona), iliza (Xhosa), impalampala (Zulu) and umtshwayeli (Ndebele).

Roan Antelope

Roan Antelope

The roan antelope is a large savanna-dwelling antelope found in western, central, and southern Africa. Named for its roan colour (a reddish brown), it has lighter underbellies, white eyebrows and cheeks and black faces, lighter in females. It has short, erect manes, very light beards and prominent red nostrils. It is one of the largest antelope, measuring 190–240 cm  from head to the base of the tail, and a 37–48 cm  long tail. Males weigh 242–300 kg and females 223–280 kg . Its shoulder height is around 130–140 cm.

It was first described by French naturalist Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire in 1803. It is listed as least concern by IUCN, while CITES places them on appendix 3 (I have been unable to find conservation of the subspecies, but these will be added if/ when I do.

Six subspecies are recognised:

  • H. e. bakeri (Heuglin, 1863): Occurs in Sudan (East Africa). Vulnerable 
  • H. e. cottoni Dollman and Burlace, 1928: Occurs in Angola, Botswana, the southern Democratic Republic of the Congo, central and northern Malawi, and Zambia (Southern Africa).
  • H. e. equinus É. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1803: Occurs in Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe (Southern Africa).
  • H. e. koba (Gray, 1872): Range extends from Senegal to Benin (West Africa).
  • H. e. langheldi Matschie, 1898: Occurs in Burundi, the northern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda (East Africa).
  • H. e. scharicus (Schwarz, 1913): Occurs in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad and eastern Nigeria (Central Africa).
Roan antelopes can be found in woodland, grassland, and savannah; mainly in the tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome, which range in tree density from forest with a grassy understory (such as the central Zambezian Miombo woodlands) to grasslands dotted with few trees, where they eat mid-length grasses.
 
They live in small groups and form harem groups of 5 to 15 animals with one dominant male. Males commonly fight among themselves for dominance of their herd, brandishing their horns while both animals are on their knees.

Gemsbok

The gemsbok or South African oryx, is a large antelope in the genus Oryx. It is endemic to the dry and barren regions of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and (parts of) Zimbabwe, mainly inhabiting the Kalahari and Namib Deserts, areas in which it is supremely adapted for survival. Previously, some sources classified the related East African oryx, or beisa oryx, as a subspecies.

The name gemsbok is from Afrikaans, which itself is from the Dutch word of the same spelling, meaning “male chamois”, composed of gems (“chamois”) + bok (“buck, male goat”).

It is on the Namibian coat of arms, as there are roughly 373,000 in the country. They are listed as least concern. Being a desert species, they are only found in South African reserves in the west, and are not found in the Kruger. The closely related East African Oryx lives (unsurprisingly) in east Africa.

Belsa Oryx - Also known as the East African Oryx

Belsa Oryx

The East African oryx  inhabits eastern Africa. The East African oryx has two subspecies;

  • the common beisa oryx (O. b. beisa)
  • the fringe-eared oryx (O. b. callotis).

In the past, both were considered subspecies of the gemsbok. The East African oryx is an endangered species, with 11,000-13,000 mature individuals in the wild.

Scimitar Oryx

The scimitar oryx, also called the scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah), of North Africa used to be listed as extinct in the wild, but it is now declared as endangered. Unconfirmed surviving populations have been reported in central Niger and Chad, and a semi-wild population currently inhabiting a fenced nature reserve in Tunisia is being expanded for reintroduction to the wild in that country. Several thousand are held in captivity around the world.

Schimiter Oryx

6. Subfamily Aepycerotinae (1 species)

Impala

Impala

There are currently around 2 million Impala roaming across Africa.  About one quarter of these live in protected areas in Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Around 1000 of the Black faced Impala live in the green area in the west of Africa.

In some reserves such as the Kruger, they are the most common antelope.

7. Subfamily Antilopinae

Dama Gazelle

The Dama Gazelle is a small antelope, species with a handful of small populations acros central and western north Africa. It lives in the Sahara and the Sahel desert. 

In Niger, the Dama Gazelle has become a national symbol.

There are 3 subspecies, however the Mhorr gazell is extinct in the wild (though zoos have a number) , the dama gazelle is only kept in captivity one zoo and is very rare in the wild. 

The species is critically endangered with only 100-200 left in the wild. Given that this small population is spread over a number of areas. The number of wild semi wild and captive is around 2900, so it is just the need to save the species in the wild which is the current problem.

Schimiter Oryx

Spinner Dolphin

Spinner dolphin

The spinner dolphin (also known as the long-snouted dolphin (distinguishing it from the Clymene dolphin – which is often called the short snouthed spinner dolphin) is a small dolphin found in off-shore tropical waters around the world. It is famous for its spinning  along its length, as it leaps from the water. It is a member of the family Delphinidae of toothed whales.

The four named subspecies are:

  • Eastern spinner dolphin, found from the tropical eastern Pacific.
  • Central American or Costa Rican spinner dolphin, also found in the tropical eastern Pacific.
  • Gray’s or Hawaiian spinner dolphin, from the central Pacific Ocean around Hawaii but represents a mixture of broadly similar subtypes found worldwide.
  • Dwarf spinner dolphin, first found in the Gulf of Thailand.

The species, though, displays greater variety than these subspecies might indicate. A hybrid form characterized by its white belly inhabits the eastern Pacific. Other less distinct groupings inhabit other oceans.The species name comes from the Latin word for “long-beaked.”

Spinner dolphins are small cetaceans with a slim build. Adults are 129–235 cm long and weigh 23–79 kg. This species has an elongated rostrum and a triangular or subtriangular dorsal fin. Spinner dolphins generally have three colours, one on the dorsal fin, one on the underside and one on the upper-side. Also, a dark band runs from the eye to the flipper, bordered above by a thin, light line. However, the spinner dolphin has more geographic variation in form and coloration than other cetaceans. In the open waters of eastern Pacific, dolphins have relatively small skulls with short rostra. A dwarf form of spinner dolphin occurs around southeast Asia. In these same subspecies, a dark dorsal cape dims their tripartite colour patterns Further offshore, subspecies tend to have a paler and less far-reaching cape.] In certain subspecies, some males may have upright fins that slant forward.[8] Some populations of spinner dolphin found in the eastern Pacific have backwards-facing dorsal fins, and males can have dorsal humps and upturned caudal flukes.

The spinner dolphin lives in nearly all tropical and subtropical waters between 40°N and 40°S. The species primarily inhabits coastal waters, islands, or banks. However, in the eastern tropical Pacific, spinner dolphins live far from shore. Some studies suggest they use different areas at different times of the year.

The spinner dolphin feeds mainly on small mesopelagic fish, squids, and sergestid shrimps, and will dive 200–300 m to feed on them. Spinner dolphins of Hawaii are nocturnal feeders and forage in deep scattering layers, which contain many species. The dwarf spinner dolphin may feed mostly on benthic fish in reefs and shallow water. Off Oahu, Hawaii, spinner dolphins forage at night and cooperatively herd their prey into highly dense patches. They swim around the prey in a circle and a pair may swim through the circle to make a catch. Spinner dolphins are in turn preyed on by sharks. Other possible predators include the killer whale, the false killer whale, the pygmy killer whale and the short-finned pilot whale. They are susceptible to parasites, and are known to exhibit both external ones like barnacles and remoras as well as internal parasites.


Due to the spinner dolphin foraging and feeding at night, in certain regions, such as Hawaii and northern Brazil, dolphins spend the daytime resting in shallow bays near deep water. Spinner dolphins rest as a single unit, moving back and forth slowly in a tight formation but just out of contact with one another. These resting behaviours are observed for about four to five hours daily. During rest periods, spinner dolphins rely on vision rather than echolocation. At dusk, they travel offshore to feed. They travel along the shore during foraging trips, and the individuals that occupy the same bay may change daily. Some individual dolphins do not always go to a bay to rest; however, in Hawaii, dolphins do seem to return to the same site each trip.

Spinner dolphins live in an open and loose social organization. The spinner dolphins of Hawaii live in family groups, but also have associations with others beyond their groups. Mothers and calves form strong social bonds. Spinner dolphins seem to have a promiscuous mating system, with individuals changing partners for up to some weeks. A dozen adult males may gather into coalitions. Vocalizations of spinner dolphins include whistles, which may be used to organize the school, burst-pulse signals, and echolocation clicks. The spinner dolphin has a 10-month gestation period, and mothers nurse their young for one to two years. Females are sexually mature at four to seven years, with three-year calving intervals, while males are sexually mature at seven to 10 years. Spinner dolphins live for about 20-25 years old. Breeding is seasonal, more so in certain regions than others.

Although most spinner dolphins are found in the deeper waters offshore of the islands, the rest of the Hawaiʻi population has a more coastal distribution. During daytime hours, the island-associated stocks of Hawaiian spinner dolphins seek sanctuary in nearshore waters, where they return to certain areas to socialize, rest, and nurture their young.

They get their name for their spinning jumps, a spinner dolphin comes out of the water front first and twists its body as it rises into the air. When it reaches its maximum height, the dolphin descends back into the water, landing on its side. A dolphin can make two to seven spins in one leap; the swimming and rotational speed of the dolphin as it spins underwater affects the number of spins it can do while airborne. These spins may serve several functions. Some of these functions are believed by experts to be acoustic signalling or communication. Another reason is to remove ectoparasites such as remoras. Dolphins may also make nose-outs, tail slaps, flips, head slaps, “salmon leaps”, and side and back slaps.

The protected status of spinner dolphins are CITES Appendix II and Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) protected throughout its range as well as MMPA depleted in its eastern stock. Tens of thousands of spinner dolphins, mostly eastern and white-bellied varieties, were killed in the 30 years after purse seine fishing for tuna began in the 1950s; The process killed probably half of all eastern spinner dolphins. They have also been contaminated by pollutants such as DDT and PCBs. Spinner dolphins, as with other species affected by ETP tuna purse-seine fishing, are managed nationally by the coastal countries and internationally by the IATTC. The IATTC has imposed annual stock mortality limits on each purse seine and promulgated regulations regarding the safe release of dolphins. The eastern tropical Pacific and Southeast Asian populations of the spinner dolphin are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), since they have an unfavourable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international co-operation organized by tailored agreements. In addition, the spinner dolphin is covered by Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region (Pacific Cetaceans MoU) and the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of Western Africa and Macaronesia (Western African Aquatic Mammals MoU). Spinner dolphins are susceptible to disease and two of the recorded diseases within them are toxoplasmosis and cetacean morbillivirus. The number of cases reported however is fairly low in the species.

Spinner dolphins in Hawaii receive multiple daily visits to their near-shore resting grounds, with boats taking people out daily to snorkel and interact with the local dolphin population. Such activities are increasingly coming under criticism on the grounds of possible harm to the dolphins, and efforts are being made both to educate the public in order to minimise human impact on the dolphins, and to bring in regulations to govern these activities. In 2023, 33 swimmers were arrested for reportedly harassing dolphins off the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. The swimmers reportedly broke federal law by swimming within 45 meters (50 yards) of the dolphins. The ban went into effect in 2021 due to dolphins not getting enough rest during the day to forage for food at night. The swimmers were caught by drone footage pursuing the dolphins as they tried to escape.

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Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphin

Indo-Pacific Bottlenose dolphin

The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin is a species of Bottlenose dolphin. This dolphin grows to 2.6 m long, and weighs up to 230 kg . It lives in the waters around northern Australia , South China, the Red Sea, and the eastern coast of Africa. Its back is dark grey and its underside is lighter grey or nearly white with grey spots. The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin is usually smaller than the Common bottlenose dolphin, has a proportionately longer Rostrum, and has spots on its belly and lower sides. It also has more teeth than the common bottlenose dolphin — 23 to 29 teeth on each side of each jaw compared to 21 to 24 for the common bottlenose dolphin.

Much of the old scientific data in the field combine data about the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin and the common bottlenose dolphin into a single group, making it effectively useless in determining the structural differences between the two species. The IUCN lists the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin as “near threatened” in their Red List of endangered species.

Until 1998, all bottlenose dolphins were considered members of the single species Tursiops truncatus. In that year, the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin was recognized as a separate species. Both species are thought to have split during the mid-Pleistocene, about 1 million years ago. Some evidence shows the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin may actually be more closely related to certain dolphin species in the Delphinus (genus), especially the “Atlantic spotted dolphin”, than it is to the common bottlenose dolphin. However, more recent studies indicate that this is a consequence of reticulate evolution (such as past hybridization between Stenella and ancestral Tursiops and incomplete lineage sorting, and thus support truncatus and T. aduncus belonging to the same genus. Burrunan dolphin T. (aduncus) australis has been alternately considered its own species, a subspecies of T. truncatus, or a subspecies of T. aduncus. Following the results of a 2020 study, the American Society of Mammologists presently classifies it as a subspecies of T. aduncus. The same study delineated 3 distinct lineages within T. aduncus which could each be their own subspecies: an Indian Ocean lineage, an Australasian lineage, and the Burrunan dolphin. The Society for Marine Mammalogy does not recognize the Burrunan dolphin as a distinct species or subspecies, citing the need for further research. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins are very similar to common bottlenose dolphins in appearance. Common bottlenose dolphins have a reasonably strong body, moderate-length beak, and tall, curved dorsal fins; whereas Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins have a more slender body build and their beak is longer and more slender. 

Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins feed on a wide variety of fish Cephalopod, Squid, researchers looked at the feeding ecology of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins by analysing the stomach contents of ones that got caught in the gillnet fisheries off Zanzibar, Tanzania.  Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins live in groups that can number in the hundreds, but groups of five to 15 dolphins are most common. 

In some parts of their range, they spend time with the common bottlenose dolphin and other dolphin species, such as the humpback dolphin. The peak mating and calving seasons are in the spring and summer, although mating and calving occur throughout the year in some regions. Gestation period is about 12 months. Calves are between 0.84 and 1.5 Meters, and weigh between 9 and 21kg. The calves are weaned between 1.5 and 2.0 years, but can remain with their mothers for up to 5 years, some mothers will give birth again, shortly before the 5 years are up. 

In some parts of its range, this dolphin is subject to predation by sharks. 

Its lifespan is more than 40 years. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins located in Shark Bay, Australia, have been observed using sponges as tools in a practice called “sponging”. A dolphin breaks a marine sponge off the sea floor and wears it over its rostrum, apparently to probe substrates for fish, possibly as a tool. Spontaneous ejaculation in an aquatic mammal was recorded in a wild Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin near Mikura Island, Japan, in 2012. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins have been observed to swim near and rub themselves against specific types of corals and sponges. A team of scientists followed up on this behaviour and discovered metabolites with antibacterial, antioxidative, and hormonal activities in the corals and sponges, suggesting that they might be used by the dolphins to treat skin infections. its near-shore distribution, though, makes it vulnerable to environmental degradation, direct exploitation, and problems associated with local fisheries. 

The major predators of this species are typically sharks, and may include humans, killer whales, and sting rays. In the early 1980s, many were deliberately killed in a Taiwanese driftnet fishery in the Arafura Sea, off north western Australia. Large-mesh nets set to protect bathers from sharks in South Africa and Australia have also resulted in a substantial number of deaths. Gillnets are also having an impact, and are a problem throughout most of the species’ range.

These small cetaceans are commonly found in captivity, causing conservation concerns, including the effects of removing the animals from their wild populations, survival of cetaceans during capture and transport and while in captivity, and the risks to wild populations and ecosystems of accidentally introducing alien species and spreading epizootic diseases, especially when animals have been transported over long distances and are held in sea pens.

Bottlenose dolphins are the most common captive cetaceans on a global scale. Prior to 1980, more than 1,500 bottlenose dolphins were collected from the United States, Mexico, and the Bahamas, and more than 550 common and 60 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins were brought into captivity in Japan. By the late 1980s, the United States stopped collecting bottlenose dolphins and the number of captive-born animals in North American aquaria has increased from only 6% in 1976 to about 44% in 1996. South Korea, in the 2010s, environmental groups and animal protection groups led a campaign ko:2013 to release southern bottlenose dolphins illegally captured by fishermen and trapped in Jeju Island.

In a study on three populations of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in Japan, the characteristics of acoustic signals are believed to be affected by the acoustic environments among habitats, and geographical variation in animal acoustic signals can result from differences in acoustic environments; therefore, the characteristics of the ambient noise in the dolphins’ habitats and the whistles produced were compared. Ambient noise was recorded using a hydrophone located 10 m below the surface and whistles were recorded by using an underwater video system. The results showed dolphins produced whistles at varying frequencies with greater modulations when in habitats with less ambient noise, whereas habitats with greater ambient noise seem to cause dolphins to produce whistles of lower frequencies and fewer frequency modulations. Examination of the results suggest communication signals are adaptive and are selected to avoid the masking of signals and the decrease of higher-frequency signals. They concluded ambient noise has the potential to drive the variation in whistles of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin populations.

Small, motorized vessels have increased as a source of anthropogenic noise due to the rise in popularity of wildlife viewing such as whale watching. Another study showed powerboat approaches within 100 m altered the dolphin surface behaviour from traveling to milling, and changed their direction to travel away from the powerboat. When the powerboat left the area and its noise ceased, the dolphins returned to their preceding behaviour in the original direction.

In Shark Bay, Western Australia, on dolphin behavioural responses showed significant changes in the behaviour of targeted dolphins were found when compared with their behaviour before and after approaches by small watercraft. Dolphins in the low-traffic site showed a stronger and longer-lasting response than dolphins in the high-traffic site. These results are believed to show habituation of the dolphins to the vessels in a region of long-term vessel traffic. However, when compared to other studies in the same area, moderated responses, rather, were suggested to be because those individuals sensitive to vessel disturbance left the region before their study began. Although these studies do show statistical significance for the effects of whale-watching boats on behaviour, what these results mean for long-term population viability is not known. The Shark Bay population has been forecast to be relatively stable with little variation in mortality over time. The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin populations of the Arafura and the Timor Sea are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals “Bonn Convention”. They are listed on Appendix II as they have an unfavourable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international co-operation organised by tailored agreements. The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin is also covered by Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary “Marine protected area”  in the Australian state of South Australia Gulf St Vincent, which was established in 2005 for the protection of a resident population of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins.

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