50/50 explores the sport of shark fishing


Bronze whalersOn Sunday, 3 May, at 17:30, episode 24 of season 5 of 50/50 will air on SABC3. This episode takes a look at the sport of shark fishing, visits rhinos who were saved after having their horns hacked off, investigates different cranes and has some fun with young animals.

Bronze whalers: A shark’s tale

Shark fishing specifically is a branch of angling that is particularly contentious. The monetary value of a dead shark is extremely low, and in the past, fishing for sharks was just another way of decreasing the number of man-eating monsters, intent on biting both of one’s legs off the minute the one stepped foot into the ocean. As the importance of sharks in the marine environment becomes better recognised, many anglers are moving towards catch-and-release style fishing, but there is still a huge impact on these animals as they are hauled out the water. In a stroke of genius, scientists in Cape Town intent on studying Bronze whaler sharks are teaming up with anglers during their competitions in order to learn more about the sharks, while educating the fishermen about the best way to catch and handle these beautiful creatures with the least possible trauma.

Rhinoplasty: A nose-job with a difference

In the cruel underworld of rhino poaching, animals are often incapacitated as quickly as possible so as to attract the least amount of attention to the scene by anti-poaching teams. Occasionally this means that animals are wounded only to the point where poachers can hack off the horn – attached to the skull through the nasal passages – but are not killed. They are then either left to die slowly from their wounds, or they are found alive by park rangers who are forced to end their suffering. In 2013, disaster struck the Kapama game reserve, and the park’s rangers were notified of three rhinos stumbling around the reserve with their horns removed. After a long search, one of the bulls was discovered, dead. The adult cow and her calf were still alive, but with gaping wounds on their faces and parts of their skulls exposed. After a serious discussion, a decision was taken to attempt to save them, and a dedicated team of specialist vets were brought in. 50/50 heads to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre to bring viewers the whole bitter-sweet story.

Urban critters: Cranes

Even though it is the Secretary bird that appears on South Africa’s coat of arms, the national bird is actually the Blue crane. Tall, beautiful and poised, these blue-grey birds are always a treat to watch. They are joined by two other species of crane within South Africa, and all three of these species are under threat. In Urban Critters, 50/50 takes a good look at these magnificent birds, and how farmers and conservationists are working together to help conserve them.

Wildlife wonder: Play time

For even the most composed animals, youth is a time to practice all those activities that will help them survive into adulthood – be it pouncing, stalking, pushing and shoving or learning to change direction quickly, it is all rehearsed through play. In Wildlife Wonders, 50/50 enjoys some childish fun in nature’s playground.

Veld Focus

Camo colours are back in this autumn, and 50/50 is taking lessons on ‘how not to be seen’, from a variety of experts on cunning camouflage. A couple of spiders demonstrate how it’s meant to be done, a mantis scores top marks – and the dunce of the class gives the game away with some rather unusual behaviour.

This episode of 50/50 airs on Sunday, 3 May at 17:30 on SABC3.