New York, Jan. 19, 2024 – Azraa Ebrahim, a PhD candidate at Wits University, shares insights into her Tswalu Foundation-funded research on puff adder thermal biology and space use. Dispelling misconceptions, she sheds light on the significance of her work in understanding the impacts of climate change on these fascinating creatures.
Background: The Tswalu Foundation, initiated by Jonathan and Jennifer Oppenheimer, supports environmental research at Tswalu Kalahari. Azraa's research focuses on puff adder thermal biology and space use.
Research Objective: Ebrahim aims to understand how puff adders in a hot and arid environment cope with increasing temperatures. The study holds implications for other species facing similar conditions.
Challenges Posed by Climate Change: Rising temperatures in the Kalahari may affect the foraging success of puff adders, particularly ambush-foraging species. Ebrahim emphasizes the need to assess behavioral changes and potential impacts on snake activity.
Research Methodology: Puff adders are opportunistically captured, and transmitters with data loggers are implanted by veterinarians. The devices record body temperature, providing valuable thermal data for analysis.
Public Awareness: Ebrahim addresses the misconceptions and fears surrounding puff adders, advocating for increased public awareness. Understanding their ecological roles, such as regulating rodent populations, is crucial for conservation efforts.
Importance of Reptiles: Ebrahim highlights the key role snakes play in regulating rodent populations, emphasizing the potential consequences for food production if these predators disappear.
Challenges in Conservation: Reptiles, often overlooked in conservation discussions, require more research to understand their predator-prey dynamics and ecological contributions.
Fascination with Snakes: Ebrahim expresses awe at snakes' ability to camouflage effectively. She encourages public engagement and education to improve perceptions and contribute to their welfare.
Acknowledgments: Ebrahim acknowledges the financial support from the Tswalu Foundation and the valuable contributions of veterinarians in conducting research. Guest visits to Tswalu Kalahari contribute to conservation work and fund research studies.
Future Aspirations: Ebrahim expresses a desire to continue researching the physiology of reptiles, emphasizing the importance of perseverance for those entering the conservation industry.
This conversation provides a glimpse into the world of puff adders, offering valuable insights into their behavior, challenges, and the broader implications of climate change on reptilian species.