Goliath Tigerfish

The Goliath Tigerfish, Hydrocynus goliath, is a ferocious predatory fish native to the Congo River Basin in Africa. It can grow up to 1.5 meters long and has be known to prey on small crocodiles and tearing large catfish into pieces! It occasionally attacks human since it is able to sense low frequency vibration in the water. It prefers to hunt in fast flowing water where smaller fish struggle to swim. Its massive teeth perfectly slide into distinct patches along its jaw. The Goliath Tigerfish is very rarely kept in any sort of aquarium although I did manage to spot a few at the Singapore River Safari the other day! See video below 🙂

Building with Nature

The Netherlands constantly has to battle against the threat of flooding from the ocean and rivers as a vast area of its land is below sea level. However, the last major flood was way back in 1953. The success of water management in Netherlands is largely rooted in careful spatial planning and ‘building with nature’ to achieve a resilient flood-proof landscape. The concept of Building with Nature was invented by the the Dutch water authority, Rijkswaterstaat, and several other research institutes and consultancy agencies. The concept basically develops waterworks by integrating infrastructure, nature and society for sustainable water management solutions. Working with nature, rather than against it, is seen as being more efficient and less costly. One such example is giving room to the river “ruimte voor de rivier“. During peak discharges, usually in winter and spring, the river has special designated areas along its banks where water can be stored and transported. These so called uiterwaarden or flood plains in English are of low commercial values with almost no buildings being built on them. In this way, the (financial) damage the river can cause is minimal. During normal water levels, these areas are normally used for recreation and cattle grazing.

In the picture and clip below you can see the river Waal near Nijmegen which has been fed large amounts of rain and meltwater from Switzerland and Germany in recent weeks. Despite it looking rather serious, the situation is very much under control as the flood plains are compensating for the high water level. It shows that Building with Nature is the way to go!


Calabar Python

The Calabar Python, Calabaria reinhardtii, is probably one of the most toughest snakes on the planet. Its skin is more than 15 times thicker than an average snake. Scientists believe that this thick layer of skin protects the snake from bites by mother rodents protecting their young. The Calabar Python preys exclusively on young rodents, hence the need to protect itself from protective mothers. Despite the thickness of the skin, it remains flexible. Pharmaceutical companies have shown interest in mimicking the qualities of the snakes skin to develop puncture-resistant medical gloves! The Calabar Python does have some limitations. It cannot swallow large prey like other snakes normally do. This partly explains their preference for small rodents. It also has a very small clutch size for a snake laying an average of 4 eggs per clutch. Other snakes normally lay up to 100 eggs per clutch 😊


Illustration and data retrieved from Mongabay Newsletter “The toughest snake on Earth lives in Central Africa and eats baby rodents”

The Importance of Phosphate Recovery

Sooner or later, worldwide phosphate reserves will be depleted. Currently, phosphate is seen as a pollutant due to the high amounts phosphate run-off from agricultural lands. In the future, however, phosphate will become a strategic resource since it is only available in limited amounts. It is highly essential that society starts establishing ways of recovering this valuable resource. Phosphate is essential for people, animals and plants as its incorporated in DNA, bones, ATP and enzymes. Annually, 40 million tons of phosphate are mined mainly in Morocco, China and USA. The total world reserves are estimated between 3600-8000 million tons. The production of artificial fertilizer uses by far the most amount of phosphate. 80% of the world phosphate consumption is used for the production of artificial fertilizer. From this, it is clear that in the agricultural sector there needs to be a fundamental mind-switch towards recovering phosphate. Research shows that more than half of the applied phosphate on agricultural fields is lost through run-off and leaching…what a waste!! The recovery of phosphate not only recovers a vital element for life on earth, but it also reduces pollution loads into the environment.

(Obtained data from Wageningen World Magazine, Nr. 4, 2017).