1 Tahrcountry Musings: September 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fresh Hope for Critically Endangered Giant Sable Antelope of Angola

There is new hope on the horizon for the critically endangered Giant Sable Antelope (Hippotragus niger variani) of Angola. Fewer than 100 of these iconic animals that are revered by locals are believed to exist, a sequel to Angola's 27-year civil war.

Now a new breeding program to save the species from extinction has just been launched. After painstaking six years of monitoring and tracking, scientists at the Catholic University of Angola in Luanda have finally managed to capture 10 purebred antelopes, which will form the core of am ambitious breeding program. The project is still in its infancy and has a long way to go.

Giant Sable Antelopes live in herds of 10 - 30 individuals Giant Sable Antelopes prefer wooded savanna and tall grass near water sources. They stand around 120 - 140 centimeters at the shoulder and weigh between 200 and 270 kilograms. They are herbivores and feed on grass, leaves and herbs and have a preference for those that grow on termite mounds. After a gestation period of around 9 months, the female gives birth to a single young. The young are weaned around 8 months and becomes sexually mature between 2 and 3 years. The life span of a Giant Sable Antelope is around 17 years.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

V World Conference on Mountain Ungulates- Preparations Right on Schedule

The preparations for the V World Conference on Mountain Ungulates is fast apace and right on schedule. The organizing committee is working hard to make the conference a resounding success. The committee is leaving no stone unturned in their pursuit of excellence.

We at the Tahrcountry are very sure that this conference will be a memorable one.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Uncertain Future for Grizzly Bears in Canada

In Canada a sudden drop in the numbers of wild bears have been noted on salmon streams and key coastal areas where they would normally be feeding. Alarmed conservationists have started lobbying the government to suspend the annual bear-hunting season.

Environmentalists say that a dearth of salmon stocks may be responsible for the drop in numbers. According to them many bears are starving in their dens during hibernation. In the Fraser river on Canada's west coast, 10 million sockeye salmon were expected back to spawn this summer. Against the estimate only one million turned up.

Many people have rubbished the apprehensions of the environmentalists but conservation group Pacific Wild says shortage of food is a serious problem and is driving the grizzlies into town. Reports from stream walkers, who monitor salmon streams have been very consistent the group adds.. The government has promised a count of bears at the end of this season. Environmentalists are still pessimistic about the government moves.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Coming- Micro aircrafts Inspired by locusts

A micro-aircraft that flies with the maneuverability and energy efficiency of locusts is round the corner. This has been made possible after decoding the aerodynamic secrets of locusts.

Dr John Young, from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia, and a team of animal flight researchers from Oxford University's Department of Zoology, used high-speed digital video cameras to capture how the shape of a locust's wing changes in flight. They used that information to create a computer model for detailed analysis.

Locusts fly extremely long distances on very limited energy reserves. This has always been a riddle. Now scientists are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and hope to design a micro-light with the efficiency of the wings of locusts.

Details of the interesting study appear in the latest issue of journal Science.

National Moth Night in UK

Thousands of people will take part to report sightings of moths in a national attempt to track the movements of moths in UK.

Akin to bird ringing 13,000 moths will be released over the weekend marked with small spots of poster paint. Members of the public will record the sighting and the data sent to scientists. Moth night was launched in 1999 and has taken place annually.

The event was founded by Atropos (the journal for butterfly, moth and dragonfly enthusiasts) and it is now run jointly with UK charity Butterfly Conservation . The event is intended to produce information about moths, and raise awareness about the declines in moth populations.

2,500 different types of moth are seen in UK. Only six of these have been known to damage stored clothing.

Mark Tunmore is the National Moth Night co-ordinator in UK