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Volume 52, Issue 1, 2017
Human–wildlife conflict and attitude of local people towards conservation of wildlife in Chebera Churchura National Park, EthiopiaSource: African Zoology 52, pp 1 –8 (2017) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15627020.2016.1254063More Less
Human–wildlife conflict is a serious challenge undermining the integrity of protected areas in developing countries. Developing effective human–wildlife conflict mitigation strategies requires an understanding of the conflict patterns, species involved and attitudes of local people living along protected area boundaries. We hypothesised that (1) there was a high level of human–wildlife conflict and (2) the local people would have less favourable attitudes towards problematic wild animals. We assessed patterns of human–wildlife conflict and attitudes of local people along the boundary of Chebera Churchura National Park, Ethiopia from 2012 to 2014. A total of 354 households were selected randomly for interview. A questionnaire survey, focus group discussions and direct field observations were carried out in the selected villages. The major types of human−wildlife conflict in the area include crop raiding, livestock predation, increased risk of livestock diseases and direct threats to human life. A majority of the respondents (68.1%) faced crop damage and domestic animal loss, 12.3% reported threat to humans and 0.3% reported that the wildlife might cause diseases. Close proximity of the villages to the park and seasons influenced livestock predation intensity with highest predation in the wet season (56.0%). To mitigate these problems, the local people utilised various traditional methods, including guarding. Most respondents had positive attitudes towards the conservation of wildlife. However, as the frequency of conflicts increased in the last five years, the attitudes of local people might change. Active measures are to be implemented to mitigate the problem and safeguard the future of the wildlife around the park. The park has enormous potential to benefit more local people by implementing a participatory management approach to conservation.
Genetic diversity within two Tunisian wild jirds : Meriones shawi and Meriones libycus (Rodentia, Gerbillinae)Source: African Zoology 52, pp 9 –20 (2017) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15627020.2016.1269612More Less
Three Meriones species inhabit Tunisia, namely M. shawi, M. libycus and M. crassus, but little genetic data exist on these gerbils. We collected Meriones from eight localities in Tunisia, and obtained mitochondrial (cytochrome b) and nuclear (IRBP) gene sequence data for 37 and 13 specimens, respectively, belonging to two species: M. shawi and M. libycus. We also optimised three microsatellite markers previously described in M. unguiculatus to obtain a finer analysis of their genetic diversity and geographic structure, given their wide distribution. Phylogenetic inferences of cyt b and IRBP data for these species, in the context of other gerbillin data, corroborate their taxonomic affinities reported by previous studies. High cyt b haplotype diversity was observed in both species (25 haplotypes in 29 and 27 sequences for M. shawi and M. libycus, respectively) with little geographical structure for M. shawi but three divergent groups in M. libycus. The average microsatellite diversity within each population was high (HO ≥ 0.6, HE ≥ 0.8) with M. libycus populations attaining the highest values. Population differentiation was moderate for several population pairs (Fst ≥ 0.1), the highest being between M. shawi populations. However, genetic distance among populations was not significantly correlated with geographic distance in either M. shawi or M. libycus. Our results contribute to a better characterisation of Tunisian Meriones species, suggesting high geographic structure in mtDNA of M. libycus populations within North Africa.
Season, sex and age variation in the haematology and body condition of geometric tortoises Psammobates geometricusSource: African Zoology 52, pp 21 –30 (2017) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15627020.2017.1284575More Less
Body condition and haematological indices provide powerful information when assessing wildlife health. Reference intervals for these indices can facilitate wildlife management, and would benefit initiatives to save the Critically Endangered geometric tortoise (Psammobates geometricus). We collected data from 126 geometric tortoises to establish baseline values reflecting variation over four seasons (spring 2000 to winter 2001) and among three groups (female, male and juvenile). We measured body condition index (BCI; mass to shell volume), blood urea nitrogen (BUN), plasma chloride, packed cell volume (PCV), haemoglobin concentration (Hb) and red blood cell count (RBC), and used PCV, Hb and RBC to calculate erythrocyte indices. BCI correlated poorly with haematological measures but had a strong inverse relationship with BUN. BCI did not vary among groups, but all groups had low condition indices in autumn, the end of the dry season. High BUN and chloride values in autumn indicate dehydration, particularly in males. Males had the highest PCV, Hb and RBC values, especially during summer and autumn when they moved long distances, likely pursuing mates. Female and juvenile indices were similar, except that female Hb was higher than juvenile Hb, possibly to meet female energy needs associated with their large size and reproductive metabolism. Low Hb levels in winter coincided with low temperatures and reduced movements. Our results illustrate how intrinsic and extrinsic factors influence the physiology of geometric tortoises and provide reference intervals to monitor their health.
Camera-trapping and seed-labelling reveals widespread granivory and scatter-hoarding of nuts by rodents in the Fynbos BiomeSource: African Zoology 52, pp 31 –41 (2017) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15627020.2017.1292861More Less
Many plant–animal interactions can be challenging to directly observe, due to species being small, cryptic and/or nocturnal. Previous research on seed predation and dispersal by rodents in the Fynbos Biome of South Africa has relied on indirect evidence, as methods for directly monitoring rodent–seed interactions were not available. The aims of the study were to determine which resident small mammals scatter-hoard nuts and the geographic, seasonal and taxonomic extent of scatter-hoarding in the Fynbos Biome. We used camera traps focused on seed stations at eight sites in the Fynbos Biome to determine the responses of small mammals to tagged nut-like fruits (nuts) of seven endemic plant species belonging to the Proteaceae (n = 3), Rosaceae (n = 2), Restionaceae (n = 1) and Cupressaceae (n = 1), as well as commercial sunflower seeds. We found Acomys subspinosus and Gerbilliscus paeba scatter-hoarded nuts, which they typically carried and buried individually. Rhabdomys pumilio and Micaelamys namaquensis only consumed nuts. Leucadendron pubescens and L. loranthifolium are added to the list of known plant species that are scatter-hoarded by rodents. Nuts of Cliffortia cuneata and C. phillipsii, and the critically endangered Widdringtonia cedarbergensis, were consumed but not dispersed by small mammals, whereas nuts of Ceratocaryum argenteum were neither consumed nor scatter-hoarded by rodents (within its native range). Gerbilliscus paeba and A. subspinosus scatter-hoarded nuts aseasonally, outside of seed-fall periods. Scatter-hoarding was widespread throughout the Fynbos Biome, although it was highly localised across and within sampled sites. The absence of scatter-hoarding rodents at sites with rodent-dispersed plants remains an important aspect for future investigation.
Metal accumulation in House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) from Thohoyandou, Limpopo province, South AfricaSource: African Zoology 52, pp 43 –53 (2017) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15627020.2017.1293491More Less
Studies on metal pollution (cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, manganese and nickel) in South African terrestrial environments are severely lacking. Due to being relatively unaffected by industrialisation, the Thohoyandou region may provide data on natural levels of metals for use as baseline data. The House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) was chosen as a bio-indicator of metal pollution due to its abundance, non-migratory lifestyle and close association with humans. The aims were to determine the viability of using feathers as a non-lethal bio-indicator tissue compared with muscle. Plume feathers, flight feathers and muscle tissue were analysed using ICP-OES techniques. Analyses of tissue metal concentrations identified the following trend: plume feather > flight feather > muscle tissue. Within the Thohoyandou region, Magondi, which was affected by anthropogenic activities at the time of sampling, had significantly higher concentrations (p ≤ 0.05) for each of the metals, indicating potential metal contamination from various sources. Alternatively, Makonde had the lowest metal concentrations and may be an important reference site for future comparative studies. The results showed that the House Sparrow can be used as a bio-indicator organism in South African terrestrial environments. The plume feathers indicate that they are a good non-lethal tissue for determining metal pollution levels on a temporal scale, indicating recent metal exposure.
Source: African Zoology 52, pp 55 –63 (2017) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15627020.2016.1238321More Less
The major Nile crocodile Crocodylus niloticus populations in South Africa are threatened by pollution, habitat alteration/destruction, and poaching. This has highlighted the importance of other minor populations. The Phongola River Nile crocodile population was previously considered as unsubstantial. Consequently, we investigated the Nile crocodile population numbers and status and the effects of the impoundment of the Phongola River on this. In 2009–2010 we determined a minimum population number of 281 Nile crocodiles in Pongolapoort Dam using a combination of survey methods. The population structure was identified as having a minimum of 116 (41.3%) juveniles (<1.2 m total length), 31 (11.0%) subadults (1.2–2.5 m total length) and 134 (47.7%) adults (>2.5 m total length). At the commencement of the breeding season in August, crocodiles congregated at a major basking site where the main tributary entered the dam. Three major nesting areas were identified, two of which were located on the river inlet to the dam. We identified approximately 30 nesting females during the 2009/10 nesting season. Several nests were predated by the Nile monitor Varanus niloticus. There was a total recruitment failure of nests along the river inlet to the dam due to a flash flood of the Phongola River in January 2010. This preliminary study suggests that the Pongolapoort Dam Nile crocodile population has a relatively high potential reproductive output, although their annual successes may vary greatly because of loss of nesting sites as a result of water-level fluctuations and predation. It appears that the river impoundment has generally had a positive impact on this Nile crocodile population, although suitable nesting sites may become limited. Continued long-term monitoring of the Nile crocodile population in Pongolapoort Dam is required to determine if the impoundment continues to support a viable population.
Source: African Zoology 52, pp 65 –67 (2017) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15627020.2016.1270172More Less
Ingestion of man-made items by birds can reduce stomach volume and block the digestive track. In southern Africa, microtrash within the regurgitation of Cape Vulture nestlings was last documented in 1983. We present evidence of nestling microtrash ingestion after a 30-year gap. Vulture nestlings were captured at a breeding colony in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. One nestling regurgitated three microtrash fragments. Two pieces of microtrash were collected from the nest of another nestling. Neither nestling appeared to have skeletal deformities or feather stress bars. Our results highlight the persistence of microtrash ingestion by Cape Vulture nestlings, which could impact the species negatively.
Source: African Zoology 52, pp 69 –72 (2017) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15627020.2016.1276856More Less
Ethanol is a natural by-product of the fermentation process of fruit sugars. Its production started with the advent of fleshy fruits, which suggests a long-term association between ethanol and frugivores. Consequently, one suggestion is that because frugivores could use its odour to locate fruiting plants, they should show a preference for fruit with high ethanol concentrations. The aim of this study was to test this hypothesis by determining whether frugivorous birds show a preference for fruit laden with alcohol at levels equivalent to those of overripe fruits. Three species of frugivorous bird species were used for this study: the Cape White-eye (Zosterops virens), Speckled Mousebird (Colius striatus) and Red-winged Starling (Onychognathus morio). Birds were provided with two artificial fruit diets in pairwise choice tests: an experimental diet containing 1% ethanol and a control diet with no ethanol. For all species, no significant differences were observed in the amount of artificial fruit consumed between the food types. Given that the concentration of ethanol used in the study is assumed to represent that of overripe fruit, these results, in conjunction with previous studies, suggest that birds do not show a preference for fruits with high ethanol concentrations.
Author Charles L. GriffithsSource: African Zoology 52, pp 73 –73 (2017) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15627020.2017.1294504More Less
The last comprehensive guide to the decapod Crustacea of southern Africa was the landmark monograph of Barnard (1950) and the most recent checklist to species is that of Kensley (1981). Since that time, hundreds of additions have been made to the regional decapod fauna and many revisions made to the classification and nomenclature. Winks Emmerson has undertaken the monumental task of updating the regional decapod fauna and providing a new checklist of known taxa, which now number over 1 000 species. The bulk of the content of this three-volume account, which runs to over 1 800 pages, comprises detailed accounts of each of the families represented, plus 262 of the species. Each account covers topics including synonomy, description, habitat and distribution, phylogeny and etymology. Most accounts are also illustrated with a photograph. Also included in Volume 1 are sections on the history of decapod research and on exploitation of the group.
Disentangling the identities and distribution patterns of the introduced beachfleas Orchestia gammarellus and Platorchestia platensis (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Talitridae) in South Africa. African Zoology 51(4): 203–210Source: African Zoology 52, pp 75 –75 (2017) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15627020.2017.1291124More Less