Saturday, 31 March 2018

Western Sahara Wildlife

One of our main focuses over the last week was to look for Western Saharan mammals and other desert wildlife. We did two dusk to mid-night night-drives, some moth trapping and on the last day sea watching for cetaceans. 

A great haul of desert and regional mammal specialities including Sand Cat, African Wildcat, Fennec Fox, Ruppell's Fox, Desert Hedgehog, African Savannah Hare, Pygmy Gerbil, Lesser Egyptian Jerboa and we also found the Atlantic Hump-backed Dolphins in Dakhla Bay. Also had a Bat sp. and other members of the group had Lesser Egyptian Gerbil. 

On the herping front we had Sand Viper, Elegant and Dune Geko, Brongersma's Toad, Dumeril's Fringe-toed and Golden Fringed-fingered Lizards, Spiny-tailed Lizard and a probable Three-toed Skink. 

Not a lot in the moth and butterfly department- an Acacia Blue buttefly and Morrocan Orange-tip butterfly, a few un-identified micro-moths and a few Crimson Speckled Moths. 

 Sand Viper- several juveniles on the road on our first night drive
 Fennec Fox - note the diagnostic black tipped tail (the somewhat similar large eared, sandy coloured Ruppell's Fox have a white tipped tail) 
 African Wildcat- the long legged, leaner structure is distinctive from Eurasian Wildcat but the banding on the tail and legs is reminiscent. For Wildcat id see HERE
 Atlantic Hump-backed Dolphin- up to three animals in Dakhla Bay. Note the small fin on the hump back and the strongly arched diving posture (exposing the fluke on completion). There are also Bottle-nosed Dolphins in the region that invite confusion. 
Male Dumeril's Fringe-toed Lizard
 Female Dumeril's Fringe-toed Lizard- cheers Pierre for id! 
 Spiny-tailed Lizard- up to 40cm in length with a conspicuous wide spiny tail, Id from PAC- Uromastyx dispar flavifasciata- a species distinct from the common one in Northern Morocco 
 Dune Geko Stenodactylus petrii (cheers Pierre!) 
Elegant Gecko  Stenodactylus sthenodactylus- cheers Pierre for id. This gecko prefers more rocky terrain than the Dune Gecko above.
 Acacia Blue sp. 
 Pyralid/crambid sp? Matin Honey from NHM is looking into the id of this- it is one of the eremic erebid noctuids. 
 Crimson Speckled 
Praying Mantis sp Message from Bill Urwin (cheers Bill!) : According to Judith Marshall (NHM) via Paul Brock, your mantis is a male Blepharopsis mendica. According to Wikipedia devil's flower mantisEgyptian flower mantisthistle mantis, and Arab mantis are among its common names.

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