• Follow along as "Sunday Morning" contributing videographer Judy Lehmberg reports on her two-month trip to Kruger National Park in South Africa and to Kenya's Maasai Mara. 

  • At first, I put it down to the February heat. Somewhere between Graaff-Reinet and Cradock in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, I spotted a pair of Sable Antelope — their elegant scimitar horns unmistakable — grazing next to the road. It’s not uncommon to see springbok or kudu in this otherwise featureless expanse of South Africa’s semi-desert Karoo region, but sable were long a near-endangered species confined to the great wilderness areas. Until now.

  • A new study examined the loss of mammal species in the Atlantic Forest, which is currently only about 13 percent of its historical size.
    Forest clearing for agriculture, along with hunting, has cut the number of species living at specific sites throughout the forest by an average of more than 70 percent.

  • Poachers poisoned five lions and brutally mutilated one at a South African predator park this week. The horrific incident occurred on Monday night at Akwaaba Predator Park near Rustenburg, some 80 miles west of Johannesburg in the northeast of the country. 

  • According to the study, led by researchers at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU Berlin) and published in the journal Biodiversity Researchthis week, deforestation driven by agricultural expansion — mainly for soy and cattle production — has caused the steep decline of jaguar habitat in the region.

  • Given the importance of wildlife in South Africa’s tourism industry and its international reputation, it may come as a surprise that the legal protection of wild animals in South Africa is in a state of neglect. 

  • A study of 3,588 square kilometers of privately owned land in central Kenya offers evidence that humans and their livestock can, in the right circumstances, share territory with zebras, giraffes, elephants and other wild mammals -- to the benefit of all.

  • Cheetahs continue to be illegally traded through social media platforms, according to a new analysis published by the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), a non-profit research and lobby organization based in Namibia.

  • At current rates of loss to poaching, rhino species will be extinct within our lifetimes.

  • The hunting of wild animals is an emotive issue, drawing fire from anti-hunting organisations, environmentalists as well as many ordinary citizens. But it also has its supporters, some of whom argue that hunting, in particular, is a valuable source of income and that it contributes to conservation of wildlife, that can be used to protect threatened species and be put to other good uses.

  • As an organisation established in 1949 by concerned hunters to safeguard RSA’s wildlife legacy after massive declines in wildlife, SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SA Hunters) is concerned and shocked about the apparent irresponsible hunting incidents covered in the media in recent weeks.

  • Many of the creatures that share this planet with us may not be around much longer.

  • Elephants Alive has released a comprehensive report regarding the proposed 120ha citrus farm development on the border of the Greater Kruger National Park. 

  • According to the Chinese zodiac, 2019 marks the year of the pig. So what better way to celebrate it than by taking a look at Africa’s own wild pig: the warthog!

    To avoid any confusion, there are other species of pig in Africa, such as the Eurasian wild pig (Sus scrofa)found in North Africa, as well as the bushpig (Potamochoerus larvatus) which is quite common in East and Southern Africa. As interesting as those are, the warthog is just as fascinating, and here we get to find out a bit more about this wild member of the pig family with the following facts.

    There are two species of warthog: The common warthog (Phacochoerus africanus), which has four subspecies. And then there’s the desert warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus), that has two subspecies – one of which went extinct in the 1870s. The common warthog has the widest distribution in Africa, whereas the desert warthog is only found in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia.

    The common warthog is found in much of Africa, below the Sahara desert. They are abundant in East Africa and Southern Africa, with their favourite habitat being grassland, savannah and woodlands.

    The name ‘warthog’ comes from their large wart-like protuberances found on its face. Technically they are not warts, but rather they are made of bone and cartilage. The male (boar) has two pairs of these ‘warts’ and the female (sow) one pair.

    Warthogs like to live in abandoned burrows that were dug out by other animals, such as aardvarks or porcupines. These burrows are used for a number of reasons, such as for sleeping, where they raise their young, and a safe place to escape from predators. In order to ensure their safety, and when protecting themselves from pursuing predators, they will slide into a burrow backwards, tail first, so that they can use their formidable tusks to defend themselves against unwanted guests.

    When startled or threatened, warthogs can be surprisingly fast, running at speeds of up to 50 km per hour!

    You will notice that their face is quite wide and flat, with a prolonged snout and four impressive tusks. Their eyes sit high on their heads so that they can spot predators, even while grazing. While their eyesight may be quite poor, they have an excellent sense of smell and are able to sniff out food and detect predators. Their hearing is also quite keen.

    Warthogs have specially-adapted protective pads on their wrists that allow them to ‘kneel’ down to feed. Thanks to their short necks and relativity long legs it is far easier for them to kneel while grazing than it would be for other grazers.

    Their tusks are used mainly for self-defence and when males battle it out for breeding rights.

    Quite often when you see a warthog in the wild it will either be running away with its tail straight up… or grazing. Warthogs spend much of their time grazing for food, with grass as a staple in their diet. However, they are omnivorous, meaning that they will eat both plants and small animals when given the opportunity – their diet can be quite adaptable depending on the availability of resources!

    Usually you will see them eating grass and using their snout (and sometimes tusks) to dig up bulbs and roots. Other common food items include eggs, carrion, fruit, berries, insects and mushrooms.

    Female warthogs are sociable creatures, and live in matriarchal groups called sounders with one or two adult females and their young. Sounders occupy home ranges but are not territorial. These grounds can get quite noisy as warthogs love to communicate with each other, using a range of vocals from grunts and snorts to squeals and growls!

    Young males usually form loose bachelor groups, though when reaching adulthood they will go their separate ways and lead a solitary life.

    Female warthogs will have an average of four piglets after a five to six month gestation period. Being very protective mothers, the females will leave the sounder to give birth in a separate burrow. After about 10 days they will be allowed to leave the burrow to start exploring and meeting the rest of the sounder.

    The mother will wean them at three months. Usually around two or four piglets will survive to adulthood, and mothers who have lost their own litter have been observed nursing foster piglets, a practise known as allosuckling.

    Even though warthogs are not considered endangered, they are still threatened by poaching as they are hunted for their ivory tusks and meat. Warthogs can also be a problem to farmers – for eating their crops and because they carry diseases such as swine fever that can be passed onto domestic animals. And so farmers often persecute warthogs.

    Warthogs, like every other pig out there, like to roll in the mud. They do this for very important reasons: to protect them from the harsh rays of the African sun, and against insect bites. Rolling in the mud provides a layer of natural sunscreen and helps cool them down.

  • As the world prepares for the 18th annual Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and their Conference of Parties (CoP18), four southern African countries — Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa — have submitted a petition and proposal seeking to remove restrictions and allow international trade in registered raw ivory of their elephants.

  • Namibian environment officials last week shot and killed three spotted hyenas blamed for the near extinction of its famed wild horses.

  • Pairs of elephant tusks that are separated during smuggling are illuminating the tracks of wildlife crime.

    Identifying matching elephant DNA in different shipments of tusks can help scientific sleuths connect the shipments to the same ivory trafficking cartel, a new study finds. That technique has already revealed the presence of three major interconnected cartels that are active in Africa, researchers report September 19 in Science Advances.

  • Where are black leopards found in Africa?

  • The South African game industry is so vast and so integrated with countless facets of what exactly game. Over the ensuing 25 years, an industry, unique to South Africa (and Namibia), has sprung up occupying 20m ha (20%) of South Africa’s marginal agricultural land.

  • The 40,000 sq km Serengeti-Mara plain that straddles the border of Kenya and Tanzania is famous for its abundant and diverse wildlife. It is also home to one of the wonders of the world: the Serengeti-Mara wildebeest migration. Each year about two million wildebeest, zebra and gazelles migrate from Tanzania to Kenya’s Maasai Mara in search of food and water.



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