Category Archives: Mammals

Good News for Great Apes

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The world’s rarest great ape has found a safe haven in the mountains of the west central African nation of Cameroon. With guidance from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Cameroon’s prime minister, Ephraim Inoni, has created the world’s first sanctuary exclusively for the Cross River gorilla.Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary spans only 19.5 square kilometers but contains an important segment of the Cross River gorilla population. The species’ range consists of 11 scattered sites in Cameroon and Nigeria. Of the estimated 300 or fewer Cross River gorillas that remain, approximately 20 live in the new reserve.”The creation of this sanctuary is the fruit of many years of work in helping to protect the world’s rarest gorilla subspecies,” says Dr. Roger Fotso, director of WCS-Cameroon. Fotso and his colleagues worked in tandem with the Cameroon Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife in laying the groundwork for the sanctuary.

The rest of the details are here.I am not personally convinced that this is the rarest population of great apes. The most threatened are certainly the eastern lowland gorillas of the Congo, of which there may be only a handful left. If any.

Chimpanzee Food Sharing

Is chimpanzee food sharing an example of food for sex?

i-3691706735948748b5a89f0a306951ac-chimp_share_tree.jpgOne of the most important transitions in human evolution may have been the incorporation of regular food sharing into the day to day ecology of our species or our ancestors. Although this has been recognized as potentially significant for some time, it was probably the Africanist archaeologist Glynn Isaac who impressed on the academic community the importance of the origins of food sharing as a key evolutionary moment. At that time, food sharing among apes was thought to be very rare, outside of mother-infant dyads. Further research has shown that it is in fact rare … the vast majority of calories consumed by human foragers in certain societies and at certain times of the year comes from a sharing system, while the fast majority of calories consumed by chimpanzees is hand to mouth without sharing.

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The African Buffalo

i-1f5e45f094e922e9955cc2356ff60451-BuffaloFish.jpgThe African Buffalo is NOT a bison, and it is NOT a “water buffalo” (it is not even the same genus as water buffalo). But like these other beasts, it is a kind of cattle.The scientific name of the African Buffalo, or Cape Buffalo, is Syncerus caffir. Only the most cynical taxonomists would support the continued use of this term. “Caffer” is the same word as “Kaffir” which in modern usage has the same connotation as “Nigger.” The term “caffir” or “kaffir” has been dropped from other species names, but as far as I know, not yet from the Cape Buffalo. I don’t know why.This particular buffalo is standing tummy-deep in the mud at the base of a fairly large dam on a river in Kruger National Park, South Africa. You can obviously see that the dam (lake) is somewhat dried up. The disturbed surface of the water that you can see off to the right of the Cape Buffalo is caused by very large cat fish who are waiting for rain. Continue reading The African Buffalo