Greenland is loosing 30 million tonnes of ice per year.

The Greenland ice sheet is melting

The Greenland icesheet is vast, which can bee seen from this image, which had to be taken from space to show the scale.

Greenland is in fact only slightly bigger than Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom together. Looking at it another way, it is the size of the DRC in Africa, or is 71% of the size of India, and 80% of this vast landscape is covered in ice. 

Now we realize the scale of the ice on Greenland, we need to recognize that it is melting. 0.17% of all water on earth is locked up in ice on Greenland. Now, while that does not sound much, remember that the Antarctic ice cap is also melting, though currently far slower, and this consists of 1.56% of global water. If all the ice on Greenland melted, is enough to raise global sea levels by 7 meters, which would be the end of countries like Bangladesh among quite a few more.

So, the Greenland Ice sheet is loosing 30 million tonnes of Ice every hour! How can we put that in perspective? Given that an Olympic swimming pool contains 2500 cubic meters of water, this is the same as 12,000 extra Olympic swimming pools of water in the worlds oceans ever hour or 10 extra swimming pools every 3 seconds. It is not going to run out of water, any time soon, given that it currently has over 2 million cubic kilometres on the island. Never-the-less, this quantity of water hour in, hour out (it is loosing 720 million tonnes of ice per day, or 3/4 of a cubic kilometre every single day.

This is 20% than even researchers had thought, and it is perhaps unsurprising that this vast amount of fresh water being deposited into the ocean every day is having an impact on things like currents – the North atlantic ocean current is the only reason that places like the UK have warmer climates than similar latitudes in Canada.

Greenland has lost 1 trillion tonnes of ice since 1985 since my birth – and this is just from glaciers. 

Global warming is happening, and it is happening now. This is not something that you need to be aware that your children will have to face, it is something that we will all have to face in the next few decades.

This shows us: global warming is not something that we avoid and just leave to our children, this is our problem too.

Mountain goats are rapidly becoming nocturnal due to the heat: impacts?

Just bare in mind, with the video above, if you have problems with heights, the view when you start the video above will not be pleasant.

So, if you are a species who spends its days moving around on cliffs, which most species would spend their lives avoiding often even if the alternative choice is death, clearly it is extreme. 
The fact of the matter, is that heights are not the only threat that animals like mountain goats face when living in the mountains: Bears, wolves, eagles, and wolverines and even animals like snow leopards that live in the mountains, will get the majority of their calories from meat. Animals like mountain goats, along with various deer species, will be the mainstay of these predators in the mountains.

What is, unfortunately a fact, is that mountain goats do not fly. As such they need to be able to see the cliff, so as to be able to step carefully and not loose their footing. 

This means that goats cannot become nocturnal, as without enough light, they will fall to their deaths. As such mountain goats tend to be crepuscular – active in the early morning and late evening

 However, this move has already happened, so all that this move might do, is reduce the length of time that mountain goats can remain active, which is likely to lead to starvation amongst much of the wild population.

Should wolf hunting return to Western Europe?

The grey wolf or gray wolf (Canis lupus) standing on a rock. A large wolf stands high on a rock in a Central European forest.

Wolves still exist in large numbers in Eastern Europe, and are even doing alright in central Europe (this wolf was photographed in Slovakia).

Back in the 1960s, while small populations survived in Western Europe, the wolf had been exterminated from the majority of their former habitat. There was a remnant population of around 500 in the Northwest of the Iberian peninsular (Spain/Portugal) an Italian population of perhaps just 100 in the early 1970s. While the last Scandinavian wolf was shot in the early 1970s they returned in 1977. Although there has been an unpleasant atmosphere for wolves in scandinavia for a very long time, there is a very healthy population in western Russia, as the whole of Russia is thought to have around 300,000 wolves.

So, with all that said, is it time for wolf hunting to return? The suggestion is that, by allowing hunters to kill wolves, culling would not be required, and this would control the population better. It should be noted, that the same attitude in the USA did not work, as the population was eradicated from various areas all together.

Some of this conversation has been prompted by incidence such as the mauling of Ursula von der Leyen’s pet pony. While this is sad, is it actually a sign of how things are working? or is it bad luck?

The green areas mark the current range of the European wolf

Even in hunting areas, generally the take number is not normally above 10%, and given that the wolf is still a recovering population, it should be recognized that hunting quotas, should likely be below 5%.

So we will look at each population in turn. To see my analysis scroll down to below the overview of each European population.

  • Iberian wolf: current population is around 2500. Data shows that between 2008 and 2014 944 wolves were killed, with 333 of these illegally. This works out at around 10% a year, though without the illegal killing, this number would have been just over 600- not far above 5%. However, it should also be noted that wolf watching is highly popular, with the are around the Sierra de Culebra bringing in just short of €1,000,000. Legal hunting has now been banned, though it is a sensible move to remove it, as ecotourism has always given more money. Illegal wolf killing is harder to know, though much is as a result of predation of livestock. There are increasing numbers of livestock farmers who happily coexist with the wolves – eco-tourism and the money that this can bring in, will certainly make this easier. I have had brief glimpses of wolves from this population, as well as hearing a few wolf packs howling.
  • Andalucian wolf (Southern Iberian wolf population) thought to number around 50-60 back in 2010, the Andalucian wolf was officially declared extinct in 2023. While there may be a few left, there are probably not enough to recover on their own. Wolf populations in the North-west are no longer hunted, which will hopefully lead to these wolves spreading slowly around other suitable parts of the country.
  • Pyrenees wolf and the French alps: The Pyrenees population is small, thought to consist of around 16 wolves, while the total number of wolves in France was estimated 2022/2023 at 1104 in 128 packs (as well as a few pairs). This is a dramatic increase in 30 years, from the 2 that crossed from Italy back in 1992. They certainly have not had everything their own way, with culls keeping this population from expanding too fast. Wolves are capable of travelling great distances when dispersing, and they have been seen in Normandy in recent years. There is much empty space in France, which means that there is much space for a wolf population, and with a boar population of around 2 million, as well as many red and roe deer, there is plenty of food – and keeping these herbivores moving, makes sure that road kill is kept to a minimum.
  • Italian wolf: Wolves survived in Italy, through the whole of the 20th century, with their minimum of around 500 hit in around the 1970s. Since then, the population has rebounded to around 3300, and it is this population which is the origin of the French wolf. Known as the Apennine wolf (living along the Apennine mountain range, the population is relatively stable. While the illegal wolf hunting does continue (resulting in around 200 dead wolves a year) there is no legal hunting quota. There is a sizable wolf tourism market, though from personal experience, this does not exist everywhere that the wolf does.
  • Dinirac/Balkans wolf: These wolves roam through areas, formerly controlled by Yugoslavia, in countries such as Croatia. This whole population is thought to number 3900, but there are few places where the wolf is easy to see. Having said this, there are places in Croatia, where you can expect at least 1 sighting a week (Croatia is thought to have around 200 of the wolves living within their border).
  • Norway Sweden border: Norway has decided that its population, wild as it is, cannot cope with many wolves. Around 45 wolves live exclusively in Norway, with a further 45 holding territories which are split between Norway and Sweden. Sweden has roughly 450 wolves. In 2017, when Norway’s wolf population was estimated at 65, the government said that 47 could be recreationally hunted – that is roughly 75% and is clearly not sustainable. It should be noted, that in Norway, the Caribou are considered wild roaming domesticated animals, and as such, despite being there, it is considered predation if they are killed (at this time, there were 9 wolf packs, with the governments target of just 4-6). In Sweden, last year they set the target number of wolves to be hunted at 75 (twice the 2022 so-called “scientific” number) , though they only recorded 56 deaths – though you should note, that this is still above the 10%.
  • Finally (other than Eastern Europe, covered below) there is a small population in North Eastern France, as well as 2 other small isolated populations in Germany (at roughly the same latitude). These were only settled in recent years, which brings hope that they will spread, and join with larger populations in the area.
  • Eastern Europe, into Russia: This is perhaps the only wolf population in Europe, which might be able to stand significant hunting. The wolf population of eastern Europe, is considered at roughly 10,000, though it is linked to the Russian wolf population which is perhaps a further 30,000. This population is not equally spread, with Romania holding 2500-3000, Poland 1900, Germany up to 2000, Slovakia around 500, and 2000 in Ukraine, and 2000 in Belarus. Lithuania has around 500, with Latvia having 700-800 and Estonia 360 (I recognize that this is over 10,000, which is not surprising, as it is common knowledge that wolf populations are usually overestimated, as this allows bigger culls). Protections in these countries vary, with some countries having laws and others none at all. The population here is generally stable, but tourism money would help sustain this population

So, do I agree with Ursula von der Leyen? No!

Apart from anything, looking at the map of where wolves are found, Northwest Germany is not an area which wolves have yet settled in, so this attack was likely from a roaming wolf. I have every sympathy with her loss, and these roaming wolves are certainly the hardest to deal with. They are usually young, having left their birth packs in recent times, and as such are less adept at hunting, and more likely to go for the easy kill. As their experience grows, they tend to take less and less livestock (provided the wild populations are not overly depleted by humans).

It is definitely a complicated task for livestock owners to live alongside wild carnivores. Unfortunately, that is the reality. Having said this, it needn’t be a negative. Guard dogs, electric fences and a variety of other methods, can reduce predation to negligible levels (though admittedly, doing nothing can cause problems). Whether to help with the cost of these measures to protect livestock, or as an extra, there are also large numbers of people in Europe, who would love to catch a glimpse of a wolf in the wild.

If you live in a place where wolves roam regularly, do get in touch (click on “list your wild place” and fill in the form under “in the shadow of mankind”, we would love to link you with people who might like to see wolves in the wild. We are keen to help the world reach a point where wild animals on your land may complicate your world, but they also increase your earning potential.

Should wolves in Europe have their conservation downgraded? Are they really stable enough to be hunted again

The European commision has proposed downgrading the protection of wolves from their current strictly protected, but it has been suggested that this is not based on any science.

A total of 9 countries (The call for a re-evaluation of the annexes of the EU Habitats Directive is included in a note put forward by Finland with the support of Austria, Czechia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden, ahead of the EU Agriculture Council meeting of 23 January).

The problem with this move, is that while in some countries like Romania, there is a large and healthy wolf population, in other countries like France it is a very different matter. If there is a change in their status, it needs to be assessed country by country, and the European Union must really require minimum levels, otherwise, this move is highly likely to lead to the extinction of the wolf across much of Europe once again.

While living alongside wolves is not always simple, it is essential to have predators to control populations of prey, such as deer. This is not something that is easily replaced by culling, and in the UK, the likely reduction in car collisions with deer would save far more than the cost of compensation for the occasional livestock that might be lost (of course, the wolf is not currently wild in the UK and the current government sees no reason to change this).

While complicated, the interest in the wolf is high, and it is highly likely that farmers would be able to supplement their farming income by money they could be paid through ecotourism and allowing people to try to see the wolves from their land. Wolves as with many other species are still slowly recovering from centuries of persecution, they are needed for our ecosystem to flourish, and can be good for everyone, with adjustments and compensation for loss of livestock.

Company Green Grazing from Vietnam is aiming to grow and sell red seaweed, as an additive to livestock feed

Why is this important?

red seaweed photo credit Peter Southwood

Around the world there are around 3 billion cattle and sheep. These produce around 231 billion pounds of methane each year, which is around 10 billion metric tonnes of methane into the air. Remember that over the first 20 years (it reduces after this) methane traps roughly 80 times the same amount of carbon dioxide. So this is the equivalent of a huge amount of carbon.

To put this in perspective, if we shrink the worlds carbon emissions to zero, but are left with all this methane, we are likely to have runaway global warming anyway.

So what does this seaweed do? It essentially causes the cows and sheep to create less methane. How much? Well, while around 100 million tonnes of this seaweed would be needed, they could eliminate 98% of the methane emissions from these livestock!

In 2019 around 34.7million tonnes of seaweed was farmed, which is leading some sceptical researchers to suggest that it cannot be done. However, if we look logically, this is already enough seaweed to reduce methane emissions by 1 third – not to be sneezed at.

Another problem, is that currently Greener Grazing is restricted to only growing 1/3 of the year, as the water temperature kills the seaweed the rest of the time. However, this could be fantastic – if cross breeding can give this seaweed the ability to cope with warmer water, they might be able to meet the whole worlds demands.

More work is needed, and other tests have proved less successful in the reduction of methane, but still, this is a field, where we might be able to green peoples behaviour without requiring them to stop eating meat.

Now, of course, if meat grown in a lab could reach price parity, it may deal with this problem overnight, though it would also eliminate many peoples source of income.

Time will tell if this company is going to have a large effect or not. We need to have farmers wanting this additive, thereby creating a valuable market for coastal communities around the world.

Largest offshore windfarm just powered up, and its just off UK

This vast wind farm can produce around 3.6 gigawatts of power when turned on. To put that in perspective, peak demand in the UK is currently around 61 gigawatt hours, This means that even at peak demand, this wind turbine is capable of providing roughly 5% of the UK power demand. By contrast, the average house in the UK has a low-point in power demand, during the night, when around 0.2kwh is used an hour. This equates to around 5gigawatt hours. In other words, this single wind farm is likely to be able to deal with all baseload demands of the UK housing. Of course there is other demand, from shop lights being left on, to night shifts in factories.

However, what is clear, is that this is a significant amount of power, and is likely to greatly reduce the amount of gas required to be burnt for power production.

Given that this adds to the already installed stock, we now can create around 30gwh of electricity from wind – when it is at its peak.

Now, of course the wind does not blow at this required rate to produce the maximum amount of power 24 hours a day, so these numbers are not available all day.

To put these numbers in context, in 2022, wind delivered around 26% of UK electricity. Given all the large wind farms planned, this will grow.

“EU must cut carbon emissions 3 times faster to meet targets”

A new report has calculated that the EU is only cutting carbon emissions at 1/3 of the rate which is required in order to meet the 55% cut – from buildings, transport and agriculture by 2030

While emissions are falling, they are not falling anywhere near fast enough

Over the last 30 years, carbon emissions have dropped by 32% . while this is an impressive amount, it is far short of the promise.

The best predictions for the future, are that by 2050 the EU will have cut emissions by around 43%. While this is an important step, it is far short of what has been promised.

More importantly, at the current rate, we will have only met a further 1/3 by 2050.

The job is not done – much of the carbon emissions from the last 3 decades have been easy to achieve. They have been achieved through efficiency gains, and moving production offshore. Very little change in the EU behaviour has been required.  

An easy gain, both for individual cost, and emissions is electric cars. A faster transition is likely to save countries much money too (though it is true that at the current time, there is an issue with the tax revenue coming from fossil fuel sales.

It is far cheaper to run clean alternatives, so we must make that show in the figures.

Some governments are making efforts to help, but not in every way. For instance, in the UK, you can get money towards an electric car, but not a used one (which given the reduction in price, is likely to go further and help more. On heat pump the government is doing better – with the increase in the air-source heat pump grant, the cost to individuals has reduced to around 3500 (on average buying a heat-pump as well as installing and changing radiators to work with the lower temperature (bigger) the cost is around £11,000. However, many people have missed the advertising, and are unaware. It is true that new build homes will not be allowed to install boilers after 2025. 

However, older houses with gas boilers will be unaffected by the change until 2035. But the average cost for a new boiler, plus installation is thought to be around £4000, in 2023, meaning that for many homes, it will be cheaper to replace now.

Furthermore, while an air-source heat pump is thought to be around £50 more to run each year, should something like a thermal solar panel be added, the cost is far lower.

With carefully designed rules for builders, the switch to low cost private transport, and low cost private house heating can be cheap and obvious. At the current rate, though, this is not being met.

In the UK, clearly better understanding and education is essential, and builders need to see that adding things like thermal solar panels is a must.

Will it happen? will the EU meet our 55% target? at current speed, it is clear that this will be hard work. However, if this money is not found, we are likely to need far more in the future to adapt to the world we are creating.

Porcupine

African Porcupine

Photo credit: Eric Kilby from Somerville, MA, USA

Porcupine family

The porcupine family is a highly varied thing. There are a total of 11 species of old world porcupines (Africa and Asia and Europe) and a total of 20 species in the Americas (new world)

Firstly the old world Porcupines: Family Hystricidae

African brush-tail porcupine

This is a species of rat-like porcupine, found in a broad belt of Equatorial Africa, right across the continent from Guinea to Kenya. 

40-50cm long and weighing 3kg, with short legs and long body, it does look like a very large rat (without a long tail). It has webbed feet, and light small quills, which are thinner and more like a brush on the tail. It makes a rattling noise when it moves.

Living in family groups of around 8 (they are not territorial and will share ranges with other groups) they defend themselves, like other porcupines by charging backwards. They are herbivorous, eating leaves, flowers and fruits from the forest floor. They also eat roots and palm nuts. They are happy to eat from carrion (dead animals) be it the remains of a kill, or simply deceased animals. They will also happily invade crops of maize, cassava and bananas to feed, when these are close to the forest. Pregnancy lasts 110 days, and young are fully developed at 2 years old, and can live to around 13 years.

Despite it being used extensively for bushmeat – it is popular, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as being of “least concern”. At the current time, it appears that the bushmeat trade is not overly pressuring the population, as it has not apparently gone even locally extinct. Still, the population should be watched, as if the amount consumed were to increase, this chould change quickly.

 

Asiatic brush-tail porcupine

It is a nocturnal (and a good digger, spending much of its time under ground) occurring in subtropical and tropical montane forests. It is found on the forest floor, often in areas with profuse undergrowth.

It makes burrows, which may be occupied by up to three animals. The female produces one or two litters a year, of a single young, after a gestation period of around 100 days.

Known to be one of the rarest porcupines in South Asia, the species is protected under Schedule II of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, though bizarrely not listed in CITES. It has been recorded from Namdapha National Park in India. It is present in a number of protected areas in Southeast Asia.

Studies have found that while it usually looks for food at night (usually for 3 hours after midnight) this behaviour is affected by other animals, which if present in its vicinity, will mean it will only be active at dawn and dusk. They eat similar things to their African cousins (species to the left.

They are hunted for both bushmeat and their quills, but again are currently listed as least concern. This population should also be watched to make sure that this does not change.

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Below is a video of this species in the wild

Cape porcupine

The Cape porcupine (also called Cape crested porcupine or South African porcupine, is a species of Old World porcupine) found in central and southern Africa. These are the largest porcupine species, as well as the largest African rodent.

They avoid dense jungle swampland, and driest of desert, and are not found above 2000m,but short of this they are widespread.

Cape porcupines eat mostly plant material including fruit roots, bulbs and bark. They have a long small intestine and large caecum, employing hindgut fermentation to break down the tough materials in their food, which includes bones and carrion, which they have been known to consume where they encounter it. They are often considered pests by local farmers, because they can feed on crops and damage trees, though in savannahs their debarking of trees may also be helping to prevent the development of denser forested environments. 

Within national parks, they are not generally seen often (partly as a result of being nocturnal). I have only seen them once in the Kruger, during a night drive. They are clearly more common than this, we have encountered their quills lying on the ground, all over the place.

Home range varies from around 2/3 -2 square km. 

Its first defence is to freeze, but it will charge backwards, if the threat continues. They can live for 10 years in the wild and even up to 20 in captivity.

Crested porcupine

The crested porcupine,  (also called the African crested porcupine) is native to North Africa (though it may be locally extinct in Egypt) and sub-Saharan Africa. It is also found in Italy, where the romans introduced it as an extra food source. While accurate estimates on the population size are not seemingly easy to find, Tuscany has a large enough population for it to be one of the more often sighted species when active (at night). Below, I have embedded some footage of an Italian Porcupine

It rarely climbs trees, but can swim well.

If disturbed, as other porcupine species, it will eventually charge backward. Given quills are not particularly clean, it can cause infection. Quill injuries have killed lions leopards and hyenas, as well as humans.

They are classed as least concern in the wild.

 

Below is a video of the crested porcupine in their native habitat. The video shows an African leopard trying to take a baby porcupine, however the parents are more than a match on this occasion

Indian porcupine

The Indian  porcupine is a rodent species native to southern Asia and the Middle East. It weighs 11-18kg and is 70-90cm long. It has similar looking quills to the African Porcupine, and has a similar diet.

 crested

While its lifespan in the wild is unknown, a captive female lived to 27 years.

It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, and in parts of its range is common enough to be considered a pest.

 

 

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Long-tailed porcupine

The long-tailed porcupine is a species of rodent like other porcupines. It is found in Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Usually weighing between 1.7kg and 2.3kg, they can weigh less. They are 28-48cm long, with a tail of around 24cm. They can drop their tail to save themselves from predators, though it will not regrow. They have large paws, and they are good climbers, allowing them to browse at the top of bushes and trees. While they are good seed dispersers, their feeding on trees can kill them. They are also considered nuisance by humans, as they can destroy crops.

They are listed as least concern.

 

Malayan porcupine

The Malayan porcupine or Himalayan porcupine is a species of rodent. The head and body measurement are around 56-74 cm and the tail is about 6–11 cm. They weigh around 10 kg-18 kg. They normally feed on roots, tubers, bark and fallen fruits. They also eat carrion, insects, and large tropical seeds. They forage at night and rests during the day. It may be found singly or in pairs. It can also swim and gnaw. The sow usually has one, but twins have also been recorded.

They are hunted for meat and traditional medicine, but currently have a conservation status of least concern.

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Sumatran porcupine

Found only on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, this species is hunted for food. This appears to be yet to have any impact on the population as a whole, as it is still listed as least concern. This does require the scientific community to keep an eye on it, and make sure that the consumption of this species does not start causing its extinction.

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It can weigh up to 30kn and measure up to 1m in length.

 

Sunda porcupine

The Sunda (or Javan) porcupine  is a species of rodent. It is endemic to Indonesia. Due to the popularity of the hunting and consumption of the Sunda porcupine as an aphrodisiac, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in Indonesia has listed this species as a protected animal as of June 2018.

As of yet, the IUCN listing stays at least concern.

A short video, little choice, just some facts (sorry about the music)

 

Thick spined porcupine (borneon Porcupine)

The thick-spined  porcupine  is a species of rodent It is endemic to the island of Borneo. it is found in a wide variety of habitats ranging from natural forest to agricultural land and from sea

 level up to 1200m. Although this porcupine is hunted for food, it is not  considered a concern due to its wide distribution and high tolerance for habitat changes.

In 1996, the species was Near Threatened, but by 2008, this had improved to Least Concern.

Philippine porcupine

The Philippine porcupine (also called Palawan porcupine) is a species of rodent endemic to the island of Palawan in the Philippines. It is known locally as durian or landak.

Its population is claimed to be stable, butkilled farmers. Common in some areas, the species is found in primary and secondary forest in the mountains and in the lowlands. This species also lives in caves and under tree buttresses or in rock crevices. It endemic and restricted to the Palawan Faunal Region. 

This mammal appears to have no natural enemies.  It’s 40–90cm long, with tail 2.5–20cm  and weighs 3.8–5.4 kg.It is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN

Andean porcupine

The Andean porcupine or Quichua porcupine is a species of rodent. It is found in the Andes of northern Ecuador and Colombia as well as in Panama. This porcupine is little known, but is probably arboreal, nocturnal and solitary like its relatives. The species is thought to be uncommon to rare and the population decreasing. It is threatened by deforestation, habitat fragmentation and agriculture. It is 60-80cm long (including tail), and weighs 2kg when fully grown. The ecology of this species is little known. Its behaviour is likely to resemble that of its close relatives in being nocturnal and arboreal, and feeding on fruit and leaves.

Although it looks different, it has sometimes been described as a subspecies of the bicolored-spined porcupine, however, genetic studies have shown it to be closest to the stump-tailed porcupine . Rothschild’s porcupine of Panama was formerly considered a distinct species, but phylogenetic evidence indicates that both are synonymous.

Its IUCN rating is data deficient, but given the destruction of its forest home, it is unlikely to be doing well. It is rarely seen, making it hard to study.

Bahai hairy porcupine

The Bahia porcupine, is a New World porcupine species endemic to the Atlantic Forest of south-eastern Brazil.  Sphiggurus pallidus was formerly considered a separate species but known from two young specimens only, is a synonym of this species.

Its conservation status is least concern.

Bicoloured spiney porcupine

The bicolored-spined porcupine (Coendou bicolor) is a species of nocturnal and arboreal rodent in the family Erethizontidae.

The head and body of Coendou bicolor measure about 543 mm, and another 481 mm is tail. The body is covered with dense spines, pale yellow at the base and black-tipped, and significantly darker on the midback. The bicolored-spined porcupine has a fully prehensile tail that is primarily free of spines.

Its conservation status is least concern

Black dwarf (Koopmans) porcupine

The black dwarf porcupine also called Koopman’s porcupine, is a porcupine species from the New World and is endemic to northern Brazil. It occurs in the Amazon rainforest east of the Madeira River and south of the Amazon River. It inhabits primary forest and possibly second growth. It was described as Coendou koopmani by Charles O. Handley Jr. and Ronald H. Pine in 1992, but was subsequently found to be identical to a species described in 1818. It is nocturnal and herbivorous.

Black tailed hairy porcupine

The black-tailed hairy dwarf porcupine is a porcupine species, found in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.

This species was formerly sometimes assigned to Sphiggurus, a genus no longer recognized since genetic studies showed it to be polyphyletic. Its closest relatives are the frosted hairy dwarf porcupine, the brown hairy dwarf porcupine  and the streaked dwarf porcupine.

Brown hairy dwarf porcupine

The brown hairy dwarf porcupine is a species of rodent in the family Erethizontidae. Found in the Andes in Colombia and Venezuela, its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. It is not easy to study as it is only known from a few specimens and wasn’t recorded from 1925 until the 2000s. The porcupine is nocturnal and arboreal, feeding on leaves, shoots, and fruits. Habitat loss severely threatens it and it may even be extinct. Formerly listed as vulnerable, it is now designated data deficient. It is not known from any protected areas or conservation measures.

This species was formerly sometimes assigned to Sphiggurus, a genus no longer recognized since genetic studies showed it to be polyphyletic. Its closest relative is the frosted hairy dwarf porcupine.

Its conservation status is data deficient.

Paraguaian hairy dwarf porcupine – Coendou speratus ,

The Paraguaian hairy dwarf porcupine is a porcupine species from the family Erethizontidae. It is found in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

They have a short tail and grey brown quills and feed on fruits, ant pupae, vegetables and roots.

This species was formerly sometimes assigned to Sphiggurus, a genus no longer recognized since genetic studies showed it to be polyphyletic. The population formerly recognized as the orange-spined hairy dwarf porcupine has been reclassified to this species. Its closest relatives are the bicolored-spined porcupine and the black dwarf porcupine.

Frosted hairy dwarf porcupine

The frosted hairy dwarf porcupine is a porcupine species in the family Erethizontidae from Colombia and northern and eastern Venezuela. It was formerly sometimes assigned to Sphiggurus, a genus no longer recognized since genetic studies showed it to be polyphyletic. The species lives in lowland tropical rainforest and cloud forest at elevations from 50 to 2,600m. Its closest relative is the brown hairy dwarf porcupine.

It is listed as least concern

Mexican hairy dwarf porcupine

The Mexican hairy dwarf porcupine or Mexican tree porcupine is a species of rodent. It is found in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Mexico, Nicaragua and Belize.  Its closest relatives are the Andean porcupine, and the stump-tailed porcupine.

This porcupine has a pale head and a dark-coloured body. The length of head and body is 32cm-45cm, with a tail ranging from 20-36cm. The maximum weight is about 2.6 kg.

 This porcupine is covered with short yellowish spines but these are hard to see, due to the long black hair covering the body. Sometimes the spines on the shoulders and back are visible projecting through the hairs. By contrast, the head is hairless, revealing the yellowish spines. The snout is pink, broad and bulbous, and the eyes are small. The tail is prehensile, spiny and broad at the base, tapering to a point. This porcupine differs from Rothschild’s porcupine in that Rothschild’s is more obviously spiny and lacks the hairy coat.

Living in the trees, it uses its prehensile tail to hold onto branches. It is nocturnal and is usually more active on dark nights. The day is spent in a hollow tree, concealed on a leafy branch, or in highland areas, in a clump of bamboos. As it uses the same hiding place each day, a pile of droppings accumulates which produces a strong odour. The diet consists of buds, young leaves, fruits and seeds. It particularly favours fruiting trees such as Inga, Cecropia, Ficus and Brosimum.

Individuals normally live alone and are silent, but in the breeding season it is more vocal, emitting screams and yowls. The female usually bears a single offspring.

Its conservation status is least concern.

 

North American Porcupine

The North American porcupine, also known as the Canadian porcupine, is a large quill-covered rodent in the New World porcupine family. It is the second largest rodent in North America after the North American beaver. The porcupine is a caviomorph rodent whose ancestors crossed the Atlantic from Africa to Brazil 30 million years ago, and then migrated to North America during the Great American Interchange when central America became a bridge between the two continents. There are 7 recognized subspecies.

  • E. d. dorsatum
  • E. d. bruneri
  • E. d. couesi
  • E. d. epixanthum
  • E. d. myops
  • E. d. nigrescens
  • E. d. picinum

It has 30,000 quills all over its body (these are modified hair. It can raise and lower them as reqiured.

It also has a strong odour, which warns away predators. It is also a good climber. Natural predators of this species include fishers (a cat-sized mustelid), wolverines, coyotes, wolves,[American black bears, and cougars, as well as humans. The only known avian predators of this species are golden eagles and great horned owls. All the quills have barbs on them, which means that even if the porcupine is killed by the predator, they often die afterwards, from infection transmitted from the quills.

They can live for 30 years, but death is usually a result of starvation, predation, falling out of a tree or being run over.

As a species, it is least concern however areas like Mexico have an alarmingly low population.

Roosmalens dwarf porcupine

Found in northern Brazil,  it has not been assessed properly, and only a few specimens have been found

It is listed as data deficient

Rothschild porcupine

The Rothschild’s Porcupine is a mysterious animal in many ways. An uncommon and nocturnal species, it has barely been studied in the field and its behavior and ecology remain poorly known. Its taxonomic status is also in dispute. Most interestingly for our purposes, the Rothschild’s Porcupine has never been recorded with certainty outside of Panama and so is officially regarded by many sources as a Panamanian endemic. With some luck, these porcupines can be found on nighttime excursions, or even at daytime roosts, at or around all three Canopy Family properties, although they are most often seen near the Canopy Tower.

The Rothschild’s Porcupine is almost entirely covered with black and yellowish-white spines, excepting its underbelly and its bulbous pink nose. Its tail is prehensile, as its lifestyle is mostly arboreal. It is active at night. Its diet includes fruits and leaves, and Canopy Family guides have observed that it is especially fond of Membrillo fruits.

The natural predator most often hunting it, is the Ocelot.

 

Santa Marta Porcupine

The Santa Marta porcupine is a rodent . It is known from dry forests on the lower slopes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and Serranía del Perijá mountains of northern Colombia, at altitudes below 500 and 1100 m, respectively, and intervening lowlands, and may also be present in nearby parts of Venezuela.

There is some debate as to whether it is a subspecies, or not, we will leave this conversation to finish before deciding.

Spine tailed porcupine

Streaked dwarf porcupine

Stump tailed porcupine

Brazilian or Prehensile tailed porcupine

Rishi Sunak is making a stupid decision – end of combustion car sales in 2030?

It was only 3 years ago that the government said from 2030 there would be no more combustion engine, yet his most recent decision rolls this back (though it should be noted that he is still aiming for 80% electric car sales by 2030) along with reducing the requirements landlords to insulate their homes so it is cheaper for their renters to heat their home.

Will this foolish back-track be undone after the next election? Will it be seen as a senseless foolish move in the future? I think that this government will struggle to claim climate responsibility in the future

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Lab grown milk could arrive in shops by 2024 – without the cows or carbon

Milk is an important part of the diet of many people in the west, alongside other dairy products. It has, in recent years been one of the problems: while many people have cut down on eating beef, far fewer has cut down on dairy – but now, if you do not eat beef, you can stop supporting dairy farmers all together.

This is not to say that dairy farmers are bad. Governments need to create different careers and paths for these people to take out of their current work.

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