African Astronaut Ants? BBC Africa with Sir David Attenborough

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Image from BBC.co.uk, Felicity Egerton

Just when you think you’re grown up, worldly-wise and pretty confident you know what an ant looks like- probably black, maybe red… But gleaming silver?

If you have been watching the most recent cinematic masterpiece on the box, ‘Africa’, you will know what I’m talking about- the Saharan silver ant (or Cataglyphis bombycina to the science buffs among us). Seemingly iron-clad armies of beasties that can withstand the scorching temperatures of the midday Saharan sun (easily reaching over 50 degrees celcius) by reflecting a high proportion of incoming solar radiation with their silver colouring- likened by Sir David Attenborough to astronomical space-suits. This evolutionary adaptation allows them to scurry out of their burrows when the heat is simply too much for any potential predators to cope with- leaving them free to scavenge for food. But even these hardy fellows can only cope with the temperatures for a maximum of about 10 minutes.

It’s not all about ants. The six part documentary has been giving us all an insight into the spectacular and astounding inventions that our ancestral continental home has conjured up over millennia. Black rhinoceri grunting and snuffling by a twilit lake, conversing and socialising in secret; African elephants parading along a tropical sandy beach; rolling dunes of the sandseas moving in super-quick time like ocean waves.

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Image provided by BBC Africa

It’s fantastic to see all of these natural phenomena on film. We’re going to see on Wednesday evening the final installment of the series, which is focused on the future of Africa. Because the continent spans across so many latitudes, it is home to the greatest range of biomes on Earth. Conserving these spectacular habitats is a priority for hundreds and thousands of conservationists across the world. If you want to be a part of conserving the future of Africa and some of the amazing creatures and habitats it is home to from the comfort of your home, Healthy Planet’s Conservation Community may be just the ticket.

The new online platform, which is launching very soon, allows you to pick a project and tailor your donations to fit you. That’s not all- you can then keep up to date with exactly what your donation is doing, who or what it is helping, and the progress your chosen progress is making with regular updates. So if you decide you want to help a project which specialises in ridding the Kenyan desert of illegal elephant traps set by ivory hunters, you could do just that. Or perhaps you’d like to help a small rural community on the banks of Lake Victoria harvest timber sustainably, in a way that will see them supplied for generations. Healthy Planet are continually growing their list of projects and you can get involved with the global conservation community.

Enjoy the final installment of Africa tomorrow- and let us know what you thought!

Useful Links

Learn about our conservation work at Richmond Park alongside Sir David Attenborough and our conservation partners Friends of Richmond Park here…

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Sir David Attenborough and the Healthy Planet Team at Richmond Park

Take a sneak peak at our Conservation Community online platform here…

Or if you fancy learning more about BBC Africa head to their homepage…

This blog was written by Admin & Comms intern Fiona King

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