Secret life of the wild | WWF South Africa

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Secret life of the wild

To celebrate World Wildlife Day on 3 March, here’s a glimpse of what goes on at WWF project and partner sites in the air, on land and in the sea, especially when the humans aren’t watching.

© Vergelegen Wine Estate
Bacardi is an adult male leopard that roams the Helderberg and Stellenbosch areas.

Leopards and other critters in the winelands

The Cape’s famous winelands are located in the midst of mountain fynbos and home to elusive creatures like this Cape leopard. Known to researchers as BM26 (Boland Male No. 26) or Bacardi, he was snapped on a camera trap at the Vergelegen Wine Estate near Somerset West at 8.30 in the morning.

In his prime, Bacardi is a dominant male with a very large home range encompassing the Helderberg basin and tracts of the Stellenbosch and Hottentots-Holland mountains, says Cape Leopard Trust’s Jeannie Hayward.

We’re delighted that Bacardi was photographed strolling through Vergelegen Wine Estate, one of WWF’s Conservation Champion wine farms which are recognised for their commitment to farming sustainably in one of the world's biodiversity hotspots.

Not all the animals that turn up at the camera traps are large and spotty. This little porcupine, hot-footing it across the frame with a tuber in its mouth, was caught in the act at another Conservation Champion farm, La Motte.

© La Motte
A porcupine with a tuber at La Motte, one of WWF's Conservation Champion wine estates.

Black rhinos after dark

WWF’s Black Rhino Range Expansion Project (BRREP) works to establish new populations of black rhino in areas where they can expand and breed.

Any evidence of a new birth, such as this tiny calf (below) snapped with its mother by a camera trap, is cause for celebration. The flagship WWF project has successfully established 11 new populations of black rhinos in South Africa and is planning more.

Although black rhinos are generally regarded as solitary, the BRREP team has come to realise they are more social than they are given credit for, as is evidenced by the second camera trap image. It's anybody’s guess what the topic of this waterhole conversation was. 

© WWF South Africa
A tiny black rhino calf from the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project emerges after dark with its mother
© WWF South Africa
A group of black rhinos socialising at a waterhole on one of the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project sites.

Aardvark surprise

When Jannie Groenewald, the resident ecologist at Haarwegskloof, noticed a disturbance at an active termite mound he had a pretty sharp idea of who the culprit might be.
 
Haarwegskloof is a WWF reserve for highly endangered Renosterveld vegetation and is managed by the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust. Aardvark were thought to be locally extinct due to intensive crop farming in the area so everybody was delighted when this fellow turned up for a selfie.
 
Now the challenge is to secure remnant corridors of this veld type so that the aardvark and the termites it depends on can survive and thrive.

© Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust
Aardvark caught on camera at Haarwegskloof, a WWF reserve to protect endangered Renosterveld.

Rare glimpse of vultures nesting

The Southern African Wildlife College is where many of Africa’s rangers and conservationists come to study their craft. Built on land donated to WWF for this purpose, the college lies about 10km outside the Kruger National Park near Hoedspruit.

During an aerial patrol over the property late last year, pilot Bruce McDonald spotted this white-headed vulture nest, a special sighting of a vulnerable species which is rarely seen outside of national parks.

Bruce’s picture proves that the college is not only an excellent outdoor classroom for the guardians of Africa’s natural environment but also a safe haven for wildlife.

© Southern African Wildlife College
White-headed vultures are rarely found outside of large reserves. This pair was photographed at the Southern African Wildlife College.

Into the deep

The 2019 theme for World Wildlife Day’s is “Life below water – for people and planet” – which is where the Baited Remote Underwater Videos (BRUVs) in the Kogelberg come into play.
 
In a novel partnership between scientists and community fishers, this WWF-funded project works with three local fishing communities in the Kogelberg to gather scientific information about marine life both inside and outside the Betty’s Bay marine protected area.
 
The fishers help to deploy the underwater cameras and two local youngsters have been trained to capture and analyse the data. This video clip shows a rig landing on a rocky seabed and fish being attracted to the bait canister. It not only provides scientific information in the interests of more sustainable fishing practices but also give us a magical glimpse of life below the water.

What is World Wildlife Day?

World Wildlife Day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2013 to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals. 

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Andrea Weiss Photo
Andrea Weiss, Media Manager

Andrea loves all wild spaces and the wild animals and plants that call them home.

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