It is not only the large animals that are vital for the future of Africa. Here at headquarters in Zinave National Park, Hannes, the Peace Parks Aviation Manager and Chief Pilot, holds a stick insect that is happily hanging about on the building structure.

As its name suggests, the stick insect resembles the twigs among which it lives, providing it with one of the most efficient natural camouflages on Earth. Stick insect species, often called walking sticks, range in size with females usually being longer than the males. They generally mimic their surroundings in colour, normally green or brown. During the winter it has this dry-looking colour, but in summer it will change its colour, turning greener to fit in with the surrounding foliage.

This one is mimicking the dry foliage of the trees in order to avoid being eaten by predators. Mainly nocturnal creatures, they usually spend much of their day motionless, hidden under plants.

Little is known about stick insects, making it difficult to declare the vulnerability of their status in the wild. What is known is that all insects are vital to the biodiversity of life in southern Africa. Insects play a vital ecological role, influencing agriculture and human health. Insects create the biological foundation for all terrestrial ecosystems by cycling nutrients, pollinating plants, dispersing seeds, maintaining soil structure and controlling populations of other organisms. They also provide a major food source for other species.

Africa is home to a rich and diverse animal, plant, and marine biodiversity that provide critical ecosystem services, driving the continent’s economy and serving as buffers to climate change. However, the continent is experiencing a dramatic loss of biodiversity. So, creating the environment in which all animals can thrive, from the largest elephant to the tiniest insect, is an important part of Peace Parks’ work.

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