Research

Black Mamba Rescue & Research!

I love Black Mambas, and in fact, it is probably my favourite animal on the face of the Earth (it’s a close call though!). I dedicate my life to saving them. I remove them from homes and gardens all over the Greater Durban Area, some being deep in the rural community areas. It’s always an adventure!

I usually just release them straight away, but I thought I should make more use of my work, which will help the mambas out in one way or the other. So, in recent months, I decided to follow up on a tagging project which was started years ago, by the Association of Reptile Keepers KZN.

We have now been tagging/microchipping every Black Mamba that we catch, prior release. These tiny little tags, which are injected under the skin, do not have any affect on the animal. They do not act as trackers either, sadly. It’s basically an ID card for each snake. So, if we ever re-capture a tagged mamba, we could see how far it has moved from it’s release site, and from the original site of capture. We can also see how much they have grown in that time-frame too. This will give us a better understanding of mamba movements and biology. It’s fascinating

I take down GPS co-ord’s and street addresses down of every mamba I catch, or every photo that I am sent of one. This is to get a good idea of their distribution and where their ‘hot-spots’ are in the Greater Durban Area.

We’re also hoping to be able to do some telemetry/tracking work one day…hopefully…

Apart from tagging, sexing, measuring etc, we also take DNA samples (usually a scale clipping). This will be sent off to a lab for genetic studies. More info will be revealed about that soon.

I am also looking at mamba-human/pet conflict. This is something that worries people, and occasionally happens. Again, more shall be revealed about that soon!

And lastly, educating people about mambas is crucial. Apart from informing people of what Black Mamba’s are really like, through my talks and writing, I give people a hands on educational experience. When I go to release a mamba, I usually invite a small crowd, mostly children, to join on the release. They get to see this famous animal in the flesh, and they even get to touch it as we collect data. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, and it is sure to capture their attention. Most of these kids now love mambas, despite not wanting to touch them, which is perfect.

The Black Mamba is not an evil, aggressive killer. It is a shy, nervous and misunderstood animal, with a fear for humans. They are majestic predators, intelligent animals, impressive beasts, and are simply awe-inspiring and awesome!

A special thanks to the following friends for their contributions: Carl Schloms (manager of Dangerous Creatures), Cormac Price (UKZN) , Marle’Benade (SAAMBR), James Wittstock (SAAMBR), JP Wittstock (ARK KZN), Lesley Labuschagne (SAAMBR), Chantal Van Den Berg (SAAMBR), Simon Keyes (Snakes in the City).

Nick Evans- Cell: 072 809 5806- Email: nickevanskzngmail.com

Save Our Suburban Lizards!

S.O.S.L is an initative of KZN Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, and is run voluntarily, by a group of conservation-minded individuals, who have a passion for the smaller, less-popular animals.

The purpose is to gain a better understanding of the current distribution of these species, to create an awareness of the smaller things, and to educate the public, as well as to involve them.

The flagship species of the project, our ‘priority’ species, is the Durban Dwarf Burrowing Skink (Scelotes inornatus), a Critically Endangered Species found only in the Durban South area.

Along with this little skink, we are focusing on it’s cousin, the Mozambique Dwarf Burrowing Skink, as well as KwaZulu Dwarf Chameleons, Flap-necked Chameleons and the bizzarre yet interesting Large-scaled Grass Lizard. These species are not endangered, and occur well outside the area, but are at risk of becoming ‘locally endangered’. They’re disappearing from the Greater Durban Area, slowly but surely, and we don’t want that to happen!

You can help us! Simply email any photos you may have to saveoursuburbanlizards@gmail.com, along with approximate dates & addresses. Alternatively, you can submit your records to the Animal Demographic Unit’s Virtual Museum (http://vmus.adu.org.za/).
You’re also welcome to post photos of these species onto our Facebook Group:https://www.facebook.com/groups/264964963860207/

To find out more ways in which you can help, check out our website: www.durbanlizards.co.za
Email: info@durbanlizards.co.za

SOSUBLIZPP-1

 

KLOOF FROG SURVEYS

The Kloof Frog is an Endangered species, occurring from parts of the Eastern Cape, up into the southern most part of Zululand. They are very habitat specific. They occupy closed canopy forest streams or swamp forests, in pools of still or very slow-moving water. Because of there preferred habitat being very specific and not all that abundant, their small distribution, and because of constant habitat destruction, this frog is in danger of becoming extinct.

I have always had an interest in this species. I find them quite different to other frogs, structurally and behaviourally. In the spring of 2016, towards the end of the year, I took it upon myself to go and look for new sites where this species may occur. I discovered 4 new sites in the Highway Area of Durban, and confirmed their presence in two further areas (one being the most northern site near Mtunzini in Zululand). I’m pleased to say that all these sites lay in protected areas/nature reserves, which is fantastic!

I am now working with the Endangered Wildlife Trust and KZN Wildlife, in surveying these sites and collecting DNA from each locality. Hopefully the future is bright for this species, it sure looks like it will!

 

A Kloof Frog seen near Gillits, KZN. PHOTO: Nick Evans