Two Humpback Whales Rescue a Seal Under Attack by Killer Whales
According to a first-hand account written by Robert L. Pitman of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
At one point, the team witnessed a pod of killer whales (orcas) trying to knock a Weddell seal off an ice floe, presumably to eat the hapless seal.
The orcas teamed up and swam alongside each other, creating a wave that knocked the tasty-looking seal into the water — a typical hunting strategy used by killer whales.
“At one point, the predators succeeded in washing the seal off the floe,” the scientists wrote. “Exposed to lethal attack in the open water, the seal swam frantically toward the humpbacks, seeming to seek shelter, perhaps not even aware that they were living animals.”
Next thing they knew, one of the humpback whales rolled over, scooping up the seal onto his chest just before the killer whales reached their prey.
“Then, as the killer whales moved in closer, the humpback arched its chest, lifting the seal out of the water. The water rushing off that safe platform started to wash the seal back into the sea, but then the humpback gave the seal a gentle nudge with its flipper, back to the middle of its chest. Moments later, the seal scrambled off and swam to the safety of a nearby ice floe,” wrote the scientists.
Mozambican poachers target SA rhinos
The depletion of elephants and rhinos in Mozambique has prompted poachers there to target rhinos in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, a report has revealed.
The report says, besides crossing into South Africa, the Mozambicans also take advantage of rhinos that stray into their country.
“Today, the only rhinos that occur in Mozambique are those that cross the border from the Kruger National Park. Rangers refer to them darkly as ‘the suicidal ones’. There are estimated to be about twenty of them wandering across every day and, on average, ten are killed by poachers on Mozambican soil every year,” the report says.
According to the report, while some conservationists are worried about rhino poaching, Mozambique’s most pressing environmental problems is illegal logging and elephant poaching.
Experts say insatiable demand for timber in China has seen trees harvested on such a scale in Mozambique that some believe the country will be stripped of its forests “in just a few years”.
A report published by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) found that 93% of logging in Mozambique in 2013 was illegal and that “without major reforms, Mozambique’s forests and forest economy are staring down the barrel of a very bleak future”.
The report, written by Global Initiative rhino investigator Julian Rademeyer, reveals that elephants in Mozambique have been slaughtered on a massive scale, with numbers falling by 48% in just five years – from more than 20 000, to just 10 300.
“The Niassa Reserve which, at 42 000 square kilometres, is twice the size of the Kruger National Park, was hardest hit. In 2012, there were an estimated 12 000 elephants there. Today only about 4 500 remain,” reads the report.
Branding Mozambique as a country in crisis, the report cites rampant corruption, a weak judiciary, an ineffectual and criminally compromised police force, and powerful criminal syndicates, as factors fuelling poaching and other transnational crimes.