A new documentary called "Giraffe Feast" was broadcast on Britain's Channel 5 last night as part of the Nature Shock series, and is currently available online.
The documentary features interviews and footage of Wild Nature institute scientists and our work on giraffe demography in Tarangire, Tanzania.
From the Channel 5 website: "In 2011, something strange began to happen in Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania. Research director Dennis Ikanda discovered a succession of adult giraffe carcasses littered across the landscape. It emerged that the world’s largest population of African lions, who thrive in the reserve and normally hunt game animals like antelope, wildebeest and zebra, were now targeting and taking down one of nature’s giants: giraffes."
We are gearing up for next week's survey of giraffes and other ungulates in the Tarangire-Manyara-Natron Ecosystem of northern Tanzania. This survey is timed to take place towards the end of the long dry season. During the dry season, the density of migratory wildlife within Tarangire National Park is rivaled only by that of the nearby Ngorongoro Crater. Tarangire is teeming with wildebeests, zebras, gazelles, elands, and oryx that depend upon drinking water from the Tarangire River and associated waterholes. We look forward to the survey and will report back on our findings. Meanwhile, please enjoy these photos from past surveys.
Our latest scientific paper, published this week in the Journal of Wildlife Management, documents the resilience of Spotted Owls to fire in California. Fire is a natural process that western forests and the animals living there have adapted to over thousands of years. Fire is necessary to the dynamics of these ecosystems providing important habitat to many plants and animals and does not threaten sensitive populations such as California Spotted Owls.
Fire over the past decade has affected forests in the San Bernardino Mountains of southern California, providing an excellent opportunity to examine how this disturbance, and subsequent post-ﬁre salvage logging, inﬂuenced California spotted owl (Strix occidentalis occidentalis) breeding-season site occupancy dynamics there and in the nearby San Jacinto Mountains. Using occupancy survey data from 2003 to 2011, we estimated annual extinction and colonization probabilities at 71 burned and 97 unburned breeding-season sites before and after ﬁre, while controlling for confounding effects of non-ﬁre-related temporal variation and among-site differences in habitat characteristics. We found no statistically signiﬁcant effects of ﬁre on occupancy dynamics of spotted owls of southern California. However, we found some evidence that ﬁre and logging effects could be biologically meaningful. We documented a threshold-type relationship between extinction and colonization probabilities and the amount of forested habitat (conifer or hardwood tree cover types) that burned at high severity within a 203-ha core area around spotted owl nests and roost centroids. Sites where approximately 0–50 ha of forested habitat within the core area burned at high severity had extinction probabilities similar to unburned sites, but where more than approximately 50 ha of forested habitat burned severely, extinction probability increased approximately 0.003 for every additional hectare severely burned. The majority (75%) of sites burned below this threshold. Sites where high-severity ﬁre affected >50 ha of forested habitat could still support spotted owls, so all burned sites should be monitored for occupancy before management actions such as salvage logging are undertaken that could be detrimental to the subspecies. We also recommend that managers strive to reduce human-caused ignitions along the wildland–urban interface, particularly at lower elevations where owl sites are at higher risk of extinction from ﬁre.
LINK to Journal page for this article.
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