Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation
Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation42 minutes ago
Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation
Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation2 hours ago
Researchers say the discovery of very high genetic diversity in leopards found in the Highveld region of South Africa has increased the need for conservation efforts to protect leopards in the country.

The discovery was published in the journal PeerJ and builds upon another leopard study published by the research team.

Declan Morris, a Ph.D. candidate with the University of Adelaide's School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, led the research project, which discovered that the two maternal lineages of leopards found in Africa overlap in the Highveld, leading to the high genetic diversity.

One lineage can be found across most of the African continent, while the other is confined mostly to the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga regions of South Africa.

"We compiled the most comprehensive mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) data set to date to explore the trends and leopard genetics on a continental scale," says Morris.

"The results of our analysis, using a combination of mtDNA, microsatellites, and comparisons with results of other published studies, is what enabled us to determine that the leopard population in the Highveld of Mpumalanga had the highest levels of genetic diversity in the country."

Genetic diversity is important for a species' long-term survival.

"High genetic diversity increases the ability for a species to adapt to a changing environment around it; therefore, it can make species more resilient to events such as climate change or the introduction of new diseases," says Morris.

"The discovery that the leopards in the Highveld have the highest recorded levels of genetic diversity in South Africa is significant as it places a high conservation priority for the population in the region."

It is likely the two lineages of leopards diverged between 960,000–440,000 years ago due to the aridification of the Limpopo basin between 1,000,000–600,000 years ago. Both leopard lineages are now co-mingling in the Mpumalanga Province where Morris' Ph.D. work was conducted.

"We had originally hypothesized that the Highveld leopards would be isolated as they exist in a highly fragmented region, but this discovery shows us that it's not as isolated as we thought," Morris says.

"Gene flow is occurring with Lowveld areas and Kruger National Park. We found an unexpected level of connectivity, even across landscapes highly modified by humans."

Morris, whose research team included the University of Adelaide's Dr. Todd McWhorter and Associate Professor Wayne Boardman, and collaborators from University of Pretoria and University of Venda, hopes this discovery will place a higher importance on the conservation of leopard populations in South Africa.

"This information will hopefully help change attitudes towards the management of leopards and be used to inform management decisions—such as choosing translocation instead of issuing destruction permits for problem-causing animals," he says.

"One of the biggest measures that could protect leopards in the Highveld is community engagement. Building better, stronger relationships between the community, government, researchers, and conservation organizations allows for efficient, targeted management programs to be designed."

Written by Johnny von Einem, University of Adelaide, as published in Phys(dot)Org. May 14, 2024
Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation
Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation4 hours ago
One of my favourite Lion King captures. 🐾👑🐾
Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation
Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation22 hours ago
A shout out to Excelstruct 16 Kitchens And Built-in Cupboards for excellent service in manufacturing one of our cabinets, and some of our office cupboard parts!
Thank you, CJ!
Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation
Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation23 hours ago
Nature is crying out for us to slow down, take her well-being seriously, and to start protecting what is left of this beautiful planet.

Mother Earth unMasked:

My Children, listen,
It's your Mother here
The one you say you love
But really, now you seriously should fear
I'm patiently watching everything you do
and I'm hoping the kindest,
the most loving of humanity will make it through
You have so much to learn from this
like more is less - it suffocates - it isn't bliss
I gave you everything you ever might need
to live a long life, healthy, happy and free
I didn't anticipate your greed
Always wanting more and more
when it's my rich diversity
you should actually adore
I watched and waited while you fell
deeper into your home-made hell
Your plastic pollutes my rivers and seas
you senselessly kill my animals and trees
Your factory fumes, they choke me
I splutter and I cannot breathe
it breaks my heart as I silently weep
and wait for you to open your eyes and see
You multiply, diversify, you innovate and malign
what have you really, truly achieved
with your award-winning designs?
You vilify the gentle folk living off the land
respect in every seed they plant,
love in every line of their weathered hands
You worship at the altar
of your gleaming retail stores
Forever shunning the simple life
ages in the making, perfectly pleasing for aeons before
I've fed you, clothed you and comforted you
I've wanted to see you happy and fulfilled
just like human mothers do, but
You create much less than you destroy to do it
always wanting more and better
obsessed with pretty people and pricey stuff
when really I supplied more than enough
You modify genetics, you breed supposedly acceptable things
for all the gluttonous joy it brings
Your industry, it never sleeps, the noise it brings
it deafens me, and I can't listen to my birds sing
My animals, you poison them, you harm them
you kill them for some sick kind of twisted fun
My herbal medicine you perverted until none of it
was good enough for anyone
Do you get it now,
that there's no medicine, no vaccine, no other cure
for all the human arrogance, ignorance and gluttony
I have to endlessly endure?
Your labs, your scientists, they scheme and plot
manufacture and test on my children
those for whom I only ever wanted the best
You need to stop, you need to listen
When last have you really looked at a dewdrop
glistening on the edge of a leaf
When last did you really, deeply, gratefully breathe
When did you eat from the land
How long has it been since you could understand
That I am the only one who's there for you
the only one who'll be left when all others have travelled through
Did you forget to look at my sunsets and my elaborate dawns
away from computer screens and corporate pawns?
I will take all of that from you, I'll break your heart
I'll tear your families and loved ones all apart
I'll kill and hurt you like you do me
I'll destroy your fancy things and dismantle society
Like a long-suffering mother who finally had enough
I'm confiscating all of your shiny, worthless stuff
I'll teach you the hard way to once again
respect me
And here you thought that you were free
I really hope that some of you make it through
But if you were me, would you want it to be you?

Copyright © Carina Crayton (Co-Founder Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation)

Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation
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