Scotland #3 – Seabird Extravaganza

Back home in Norwich already, but I have some more Scottish tales to tell. On July 31st we went out to sea with my mate Phil from Shetland Seabird Tours. We left Lerwick harbour and headed towards Noss NNR. Phil boat is great – small enough to get close to water level, but sits very […]

Why visit?

Sunday 20th August comments: At this time of year people often ask what the Isle of May NNR has to offer? The seabirds have almost gone (apart from lingering Shags and Kittiwakes) and its still too early for Grey Seal pups (born from mid-September). However its an island to be discovered at this time of year as we have a few hidden gems…

  • Explore the 200 year old Stevenson lighthouse which is open daily during August and September
  • Marvel at the exhibition in the lighthouse which reveals the history of the May as a very important early Christianity site and see the artifacts on display which were discovered during an archeology dig in the 1990’s
  • Check out the stunning views across the Firth of Forth from the impressive west cliffs
  •  or if you just want to get away from it all and just enjoy the boat journey, a magical Scottish island and the ambiance of it all

The Isle of May has it all and its well worth a visit during these quieter times. And when we say quiet, its always worth keeping your eyes peeled as bird migrants are on the move and its a good time to spot whales in the surrounding sea. The even better news is its all free (once you’ve paid the boat fare across) and you get up to three hours to enjoy it all. We’ll hopefully see you out here…

First Legal Rhino Horn auction scheduled in South Africa

With the Department of Environmental Affairs stalling the first legal rhino horn auction actually happening remains to be seen.

First legal rhino auction scheduled in South Africa

“Rhino Horn Auction starts in 2 days” reads the website of John Hume and Van’s Auctioneers, followed by a countdown to their planned online rhino horn auction. It’s an online platform that has been translated into Vietnamese and Mandarin and will facilitate the sale of more than two hundred rhino horns, should Hume obtain the necessary permits.

However, he has not yet received the permits and today filed an urgent application with the High Court for permits authorising the selling of 264 rhinoceros horns by way of online auction, to be handed over within twelve hours. His application goes on further to say that the permits forming the subject matter of the application has already been approved and issued by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, however she has failed or refused to actually hand over the original permit, despite officials saying that the permits have been issued and are ready for collection.

Moses Rannditsheni, acting spokesman for the Department of Environmental Affairs, says, “The Minister of Environmental Affairs is opposing the application.” For now, the hearing has been postponed to 2pm on Sunday the 20th of August, less than 24 hours before the online auction is due to take place.

Hume argues that his application to the High Court is a matter of urgency because of the enormous financial burden he is under to protect the rhinos in his possession. The application requests the Court to order the Minister of Environmental Affairs to pay the costs of this application should she oppose it.

Unconfirmed reports say that the horns are stockpiled in three different provinces and that these stock piles have not been verified as required in terms of the draft regulations for the domestic trade in rhinoceros horn, or a part, product or derivative thereof.

In order to be issued with the necessary permit an application must be accompanied by a number of documents, including proof that the rhino horn has been subject to genetic profiling by a scientific institution, clear photographs of the individual rhinoceros horns, details of the marking of the individual rhinoceros horns, including the serial and microchip number of each rhinoceros horn and measurements of the horn. Failure to submit any one of the above requirements could result in the permit not being issued.

Despite attempts by hacktivists to bring down the auction website, it has remained online with bidding due to open at 12:00PM on 21st August 2017 and close at 12:00PM on 24 August 2017. A physical auction will also take place on 19 September 2017 at 11:00AM.

Prospective buyers will have to obtain a permit to enable them to register online and participate in the auction. According to the website, “anyone with a permit can participate in the auction as the government has lifted the ban on the domestic trade of rhino horn in South Africa. This means that rhino horn can be traded in the country; however, the ban on international trade is still in force.”

However, to date, no such permits have been issued and the regulations remain in draft form.

Contributed by Janine Avery and the Conservation Action Trust

[The author is solely responsible for the accuracy of the above article.]

The post First Legal Rhino Horn auction scheduled in South Africa appeared first on Nikela: Finding people saving African wildlife in an old Land Rover.

Meet Nala the Serval Kitten

On July 1, Colchester Zoo welcomed a baby Serval named Nala. The kitten currently lives behind the scenes, where she is under the expert care of zoo keepers.

Like most kittens, Nala is playful, as you can see in the video below. During play, she exhibits the amazing skill that Servals are known for: leaping into the air to pounce on top of their prey.

IMG_9662Photo Credit: Colchester Zoo

Servals live in much of Africa south of the Sahara Desert. Weighing 20-40 pounds as adults, these medium-sized Cats have the longest legs relative to body size of any feline. Their super-sized ears help them locate prey. Because Servals favor habitats with tall brush, long legs give them an advantage when tracking small mammals, birds, frogs, and reptiles through the grass. Once prey is within reach, Servals can leap more than six feet upward and ten feet forward to forcefully pounce on prey with their forepaws. A quick bite to the prey animal’s head or neck delivers the fatal blow.

Much of Africa’s Serval population lives on protected land and hunting of Servals is prohibited in many, but not all, countries. Though Servals are currently listed as a Species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, continued degradation of habitats, especially wetlands and grasslands, could pose a threat in the future.

See more photos of Nala below.