Whilst crowds listened to the banging beats of the music festival Latitude, just 10 miles up the A12, an enthusiastic team from the Zoological Society of East Anglia were busy listening for another beat – the click click click of a bat detector!
Africa Alive!, located in Kessingland, is home to over 80 species of animals from Africa, but also provides a range of habitats for a whole host of native species. Over the weekend of the 20th and 21st of July, the Conservation Education Team were joined by species recorders from across Suffolk and Norfolk to help record all of the zoo’s native wildlife including birds, plants, invertebrates and fungi.
Ruth Wallis, Senior Education Officer at Africa Alive!, said ‘The aim of the event was to try and build on previous species counts and reach over 1,000 species, but also to engage our guests with the amazing array of UK wildlife that calls the zoo home’.
Highlights of the weekend included spotting some HUGE insects –the UK’s largest resident moth, the privet hawkmoth and also one of our largest dragonflies, the emperor dragonfly.
Visitors to Africa Alive! this summer cannot help but notice the flashes of colour whizzing around Wader’s Lake and the Lemur Island moats as the dragonflies and damselflies dip and dive over the water’s surface. Africa Alive! is home to 20 species of damsel and dragonfly, with 15 of these spotted during our July count.
The nocturnal highlight was definitely the bat recording! Seven species of bats have been detected on site so far, mostly hunting small insects over Wader’s Lake and our Plains of Africa paddock.
As well as supporting conservation projects across the world, ZSEA has been focussing its attention on what we can do to protect, save and conserve the wonderful wildlife we have here in the UK. The wildlife surveys at Africa Alive! have now recorded well over 1,000 different species using the zoo, although the final figure may be greater as more records come in. This information is sent on to national databases, and is also used to create a Native Species Conservation Plan for Africa Alive! Large areas of previously mown grass is now being left as meadow to help increase the biodiversity of the site, so hopefully even more species will be documented over coming years.
ZSEA would like to say a massive thank you to all of the guests, scientists and recorders who helped make our 2019 count such a success and encourage you all to get out into nature and start spotting!