Friday, 23 November 2012

Little by name, little by nature and the struggle of the Black Rhino.

Hello everyone and welcome to my latest blog. The weather really is closing in as we go deeper into the depths of winter! I am sitting writing this looking out the window at the large and numerous puddles and battered looking trees which serve as a reminder at the far from pleasant weather we have just been treated to, I hope you were not caught up in it. This week takes a look at Britain's smallest Owl appropriately named the Little Owl. My endangered species section looks at the problems facing the Black Rhino and a couple of other little nuggets of amusement and entertainment are included as well, as always I hope you enjoy it.


                                                          Little Owl Anthene noctura.

The Little Owl was first introduced to Britain in the nineteenth century, and is the smallest member of the Owl family to live in Britain. It is not unusual to see them in day light on top of telegraph poles and tree branches as they hunt during the day and night but can most be seen at dawn and in the night. The Little Owl can be most commonly found in the central, southern eastern regions of England as well as along the Welsh borders.

                                                          Five facts about Little Owls.

1)  Little Owls will often return to the same nest site year after year, one was even recorded using the same site for twenty five consecutive years.

2) Clutch size can be as many as six eggs at one given time which are laid in nests within hollow cavities.

3 Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of the Little Owls diet is carnivorous of which small rodents and insects make up a substantial amount. What is more surprising however is they have been recorded to also feed on plant material and berries.

4) When the Little Owl is agitated it bobs and moves from side to side. Its flight pattern is made up of a series of fast wing beats and looping glides.

5) It is estimated there are between 5,800 and 11, 600 pairs of Little Owls in Britain however the population is declining.

All information has been sourced from the Hawk and Owl Trust, BBC Nature and the RSPB.

Endangered Species: The struggle of the Black Rhinoceros Diceros bicornis.

I remember my first encounter with a Black Rhino in the wild; it was short, sharp and magnificent. I had flown from England to be part of a conservation team in South Africa and we had been given a few days to acclimatise and learn about our surroundings before the conservation work started. It was on a game drive when out of nowhere a clearly startled power house of an animal burst from the bushes not far in front of us. The speed in which it covered the ground to find its way into deeper bushveld meant I believe I am correct in thinking no one from our group had time to take a clear photograph. Sometimes perhaps the best moments in wildlife can be better appreciated without looking through a lense. We were lucky to catch another glimpse of the amazing animal before we left and we were all in no doubt how fortunate we had been to see such a rare and special sighting. So this is why this week I look further into the plight of the Black Rhino and see what the future may hold for this magnificent animal.

The Black Rhino or as it can otherwise sometimes be known as the Hook -Lipped Rhinoceros, is currently ranked by the IUCN as Critically Endangered.  Persecuted for its magnificent horns by poachers for Chinese medicine and to be made into weapons known as Yemen, as well as the constant threat of habitat destruction means that no more than five thousand Black Rhinos now remain in the wild. The fact the population has recovered at all from is a small miracle having crashed to a total of just 2,400 individuals at its lowest point, any increase in number is vital for contributing towards the survival of the species. 

Conservation efforts have helped to increase the population of the species and increase awareness of the desperate plight the Black Rhino faces. Organisations such as WWF have been particularly effective making the date 22nd of September “World Rhino Day" a great way of raising awareness. On top of this the concerted conservation from WWF, has resulted in numerous changes benefiting the species including ; expanding and improving the management of their protected areas as well as creating new ones, improving the security  monitoring of Black Rhinos as well as improving the enforcement of laws both locally and internationally to stop the trade in Rhino horns and other illegal wildlife items finally through effective tourism which provides vital funds for conservation work to continue.

Through the work of WWF and other organisations like it, the future of the Black Rhino does not look as desperate as it once did, however the work going on now must continue for many years to come if we want to avoid an already vulnerable population becoming an even smaller one or worse.

                                                     Five Facts about the Black Rhino.

1) The alternative name for the Black Rhino the Hook-Lipped Rhinoceros, was given to it unsurprisingly because of its hooked upper lip which is perfect for grasping small branches.

2) The gestation period of a Black Rhino is just over 15 months.

3) Black Rhinos are smaller than the White Rhino with males weighing up to 1,350 kg and females 900 kg, and at their maximum height can stand up to 1.6 metres tall at the shoulder.

4 Black Rhinos can run at 55km per hour, that’s  15 km faster than an Olympic 100 metre sprinter!

5) 90% of the diet of the Black Rhino is made up of fewer than 20 species of vegetation despite consuming up to 100 different species in a year’s worth of foraging.

All facts in this section were sourced from: WWF and   Save the Rhino.

                                                    A little bit of amusement.

Recently having a browse on YouTube I came across this, a very disobedient Secretary Bird! I found it quite funny and I hope you do to.

That is it from myself for this week, I hope you enjoyed the blog, have a good weekend,

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