| 1. White rhino, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
White rhinos were reintroduced to Ziwa in 2005 and it's still the only location in Uganda where you can see them in the wild. The 7,000-hectare sanctuary is home to 17 individuals.
2. Rothschild's giraffe, Murchison Falls National Park
One of the rarest subspecies, Rothschild's is the tallest animal in the world and has five horns - other giraffes have two.
3. Shoebill, Mabamba Wetlands
With its shoe-like bill ending in a ferocious hook, this is one of the most extraordinary birds in Africa, if not the world. The shoebill is frequently described as a stork, but it's probably more closely related to pelicans.
4. Lion, Queen Elizabeth National Park
Lions in the Ishasha sector of the park are famous for climbing and resting in trees, reputedly one of only two populations in the world tha behave in such a way. Lolling about on a branch may offer the cats relief against the tetse flies or the heat.
5. Mountain gorilla, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Mountain - as opposed to lowland - gorillas only became known to the western world in 1902, and are one of the most sought-after animals for wildlife lovers across the planet.
6. Giant groundsel, Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Despite the prosaic name, giant groundsel is a must-see. This member of the sunflower family can grow to 20m (65ft) high, creating candelabra-like structures in the process.
1. What’s in a name
The Latin name for orca or killer whale is Orcinus orca. Orcinus translates to “of the kingdom of the dead” and is probably derived from Roman God of the underworld Orcus, a reference to the fierce hunting reputation of this animal.
2. A case of mistaken identify
Commonly known as killer whales, orcas actually belong to the dolphin family Delphinidae. The world’s largest dolphin species uses its teeth to breakdown food.
3. Heavy weight
When born an orca weighs as much as a motorbike at about 180kg and is 2 to 3m long. An adult male can weigh about 8600kg and grow up to 10m in lenth and an adult female can weigh about 5400kg and grow up to 9m in length.
4. Diverse diet
Orcas have separated into two ecotypes (a distinct form or race of a animal species occupying a particular habitat). Northeastern Pacific residents are fish-eaters whereas their transient counterparts eat mostly marine mammals for example. Orcas residing in waters off New Zealand have even been known to eat sharks and rays.
5. On the hunt
Orcas are very fast swimmers and have been recorded at speeds of up to 54km/h. Herding fish before stunning them with tail strikes is one of many ways in which these predators hunt their prey. Orcas also work together in coordinated attacks to create waves that can knock prey off floating ice into the water.
6. Clear identity
Orcas have a distinctive appearance, a large black body, a white underside, a white patch above and behind the eye, ‘saddle patch’ behind the dorsal fin.
7. Half asleep
Cetaceans, including orcas, have the ability to rest one side of their brain at time. This allows the side that’s awake to regulate breathing and prevents drowning, while the other side takes a nap.
8. Marine herd
A group of orcas is known as a pod. It usually consists of a mature female, her adult offspring, and her daughters’ offspring.
9. Whale talk
In the ocean orcas rely on using clicks and whistles to exchange information with the rest of the pod. At the surface they have been known to use body language to communicate, including breaching, slapping their flippers or tail, and spyhopping (bringing their head out of the water).
How to take part in Orca Watch 2016
This year’s Orca Watch takes place on 21 to 28 May to coincide with the annual passage of orcas observed in the Pentland Firth. The aim of Orca Watch is to collect vital data on this and other cetacean species in the area, while informing the public about these enigmatic animals. Find out how you can get involved.
Butterfly chrysalises are naked, vulnerable and apparently defenceless, since they are not hidden inside a tough or camouflaged silken cocoon as moth pupae are.
They rely on being disguised as dead grass stalks (skippers); buds (orange-tip); curled leaves (speckled wood); bird droppings (black hairstreak); or another bit of ignorable plant material. Some have warning colours, such as the mottled black and white of the large white, which contains distasteful chemicals sequestered from its cabbage foodplant.
Nevertheless chrysalises are frequently attacked by parasitoid wasps, which try to lay eggs inside the nutrient-rich soup of rearranging organs and musculature, as metamorphosis performs its magic.
Many will writhe to try to dislodge an attacker, and this has produced the oddest defence – squeaking. This is particularly apparent in hairstreak chrysalises, which have rows of microscopic grooves and teeth on adjacent abdominal segments that produce an audible ‘song’ when rubbed together.
However, they do this not to deter attackers, but to attract ants. Confused, the ants take the pupae down to the nest where they can transform into butterflies in the relative safety of their host colony
Sea otters use rocks and empty shells to feed on marine snails, crabs, sea urchins and mussels. There are only a handful of non-primate species known to use tools, including dolphins and octopuses.
2. Back from the brink
Sea otters were brought close to extinction in the 19th century, widely hunted for their fur. This was stopped by the establishment of the International Fur Seal Treaty in 1911. Populations in Canada and California are now doing well.
3. Guardians of the ecosystem
Sea otters are vital to the health of carbon-absorbing kelp forests. They prey on sea urchins that feed on kelp. In environments where sea otter populations have been reintroduced, tall kelp forests are flourishing.
4. Big appetites
A sea otter can consume up to 11kg of food every day to support its high metabolism – that’s about a quarter of its own body weight! The energy demands of a sea otter mother increases by 17 per cent after giving birth.
5. Fur coat
A sea otter’s pelt is the thickest of any mammal. It is made up of a waterproof top layer and a short underlayer, which can contain as many as one million hairs per square inch. This makes up for its lack of blubber in the cold Pacific water.
6. Dedicated mothers
Sea otters give birth in water. Most females have only one pup at a time. The mother will produce milk, hunt and teach the pup how to dive for food until the youngster is five to eight months old and can fend for itself.
7. Lazy days
While extremely agile, sea otters are slow swimmers. They spend the majority of their lives on their backs, only flipping over onto their fronts when greater speed is required. To swim faster they use their webbed feet for propulsion and undulate their bodies.
8. Making friends
Sea otters are polygynous. While mothers and pups are usually solitary, sea otters can form social groups of up to a few dozen. A group of up to 2,000 sea otters is the largest recorded.
| 1. Muck-spreader
When defecating, hippos swish their tails back and forth, scattering their droppings like a muck-spreader. The resulting slapping noise echoes downstream and helps proclaim territory.
2. Surprising history
Hippos, along with other megafauna such as lions and elephants, would have been a common sight in prehistoric Britain – their remains have been found underneath Trafalgar Square.
3. Small appetite
Male hippos weigh 1,600–3,200kg, and females 650–2,350kg. Despite their size they eat just 1–1.5 per cent of their body weight every day.
4. Sinking feeling
Hippos sink in water. They run along the river bottom instead of swimming.
5. Teething problems
The international ban on trade in elephant ivory led to an increase of 530 per cent in the annual export of hippo teeth within two years. The animal’s canines measure upwards of 50cm in length.
6. Four stomachs are better than one
A hippo’s stomach has four chambers in which enzymes break down the tough cellulose in the grass that it eats. However, hippos do not chew the cud, so are not true ruminants like antelopes and cattle.
7. Home from home
A wild hippo named ‘Jessica’ often visits (and wanders into) the waterside home of South Africa’s Tonie and Shirley Joubert, who helped her out as a calf.