Its that time of year again, so, in no particular order my top wildlife stories from 2017.
Lioness fails to answer "call of the wild"
You can imagine the disappointment when safari goer Joop van der Linde witnessed a female lioness failing to answer the savage call of nature. In any other scenario, this leopard cub would have been snapped up like a side order of chicken-mac-nuggets. BUT, this is Africa and Africa is certainly full of surprises.
While visiting Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Joop snapped these amazing images of interspecies cooperation. Dr Luke Hunter, president of Panthera and chief conservation officer, described the images as truly ‘unique’.
Rugby Player pets ‘cuddly lion” nearly loses hand
Scott Baldwin, a Welsh international and Osprey’s Rugby Club wrote himself into the dumbest rugby-player hall of fame by sticking his hand through the bars of a lion enclosure. The incident happened at the Bloemfontein Zoo when the Osprey’s rugby team was in South Africa for a tour match. The wound required four operations and at one point Baldwin feared he may lose his hand.
Osprey’s coach Steve Tandy said, “In fairness, it was nothing to do with the lion”. Lucky for all of us living it up in the digital age, the incident was caught on camera and we now have excellent footage to show our children about the pros and cons of touching wildlife.
Earth Day 2017: Emmanual de Merode trains for the London marathon.
Earth Day 2017, in an effort to raise money for the Fallen Rangers Fund Emmanuel de Merode signs up for the London marathon. A friend offered to match anything he could raise up to $500 000. The fund supports the families of fallen rangers in Virunga and provides them with vital income. Virunga has lost over 150 Rangers since the civil war erupted in 1996.
As a result, the director of Virunga National Park in the Congo trains furiously for the event. His methods are unusual combining endurance training with speed and agility as he navigates the jungle thickets and a pair of juvenile gorillas.
The training paid off and his efforts to raise $1 000 000 were successful! It is reported that after seeing his gorilla-training methods, top olympyic atheletes have contacted Virunga to apply for a place in the gorilla training program.
What’s big enough to eat a 4.9m long Great White Shark? Killer Whales Hit False Bay
Between May and July 2017, four carcasses of Great White sharks were found washed up on the False Bay and Walker Bay coastlines. Scientists and ecologists were left baffled at the unprecedented predation on the most formidable apex predator. Each carcass had had its liver removed but was otherwise unscathed. The livers, high in energy, had been harvested by a pair of rouge killer whales. Port and Starboard have floppy leaning over dorsal fins and they were seen in the area around the same time as the attacks.
White Sharks it seems are pretty smart after all and since the last attack, they appear to have vacated the safe haven of the Western Cape waters. Nobody knows where they have gone or when they’ll be back…
Mad Dogs and… Madagascar!
One of the best stories from 2017 comes from the island of Madagascar. Madagascar is home to a plethora of endemic species that are vulnerable and under threat. The Mad Dog Initiative is thinking outside the box and making real change happen.
The initiative uses a holistic approach. They send out veterinary teams to neuter and spay feral dogs and so reduce their impact on surrounding wildlife. They simultaneously run population counts of nearby wildlife and work alongside locals to enable conservation leadership. Win win win.
Hippo Crocodile relations reach all-time low.
It is well-known fact that after mosquitoes, hippopotami are the most dangerous animals in Africa. It’s a combination of size, aggression and deceptive speed. What is less well known is that Hippo’s despise crocodiles. Over the years videos have surfaced of hippos rescuing animals that are being attacked by crocs and in 2017 there was no shortage of incredible animal encounters in the Kruger Park.
The Kruger National Park once more offered up all sorts of drama. In one clip, a wildebeest fights for its life and appears to be losing before two feisty hippos charge in and save the day. This in accordance with what we have seen before between these two semi-aquatic pond dwellers. But relations between these two species have reached an all-time low as a pod of about 30 hippopotami set about showing a crocodile what it feels like to be stuck in a washing machine with teeth.
Experts believe that the hippos were trying to convince the croc that really, vegetarianism was the way of the future… I never thought I’d ever say it but, ag shame man, poor croc!