Javan rhinos: is the Indonesian government lying? misleading? or being straight with the world.

It appears that the counters of the Javan rhino, have continued to count animals which have not been seen for years. Given how much poaching has been going on, this seems much more than simply misleading.

Play Video

 Unfortunately, this counting issue, takes the Javan rhino from a species which is recovering at an impressive rate, to a species which might disappear within a decade. In the latest count 3 rhino were included, which are known to have died back in 2019.

According to the official numbers, in 2011, when the cameras were installed there were 35 rhino, and that number has climbed steadily to a current number of roughly 72.

 

Continue reading

Can simple changes help the Javan rhino recover?

Above is a fascinating video about a photographers journey to try to see this rhinos in the wild (spoiler alert, it was a success, as you can see from the thumbnail). The problem is that despite this video being from 8 years ago, the Javan rhino has not recovered a great deal in the intervening years.

So, when I say it has not recovered much in those years, what do I mean? Well in 2015 the Javan rhino population was estimated at 72, it is now thought to number 76.

A new study has suggested a number of idaes that might accelerate the recovery of this rhino.

These are captive breeding, and forest clearance to give more areas for the rhino to feed.

While the latter may well have some merit, the former may not. It should also be noted that currently 13 of the rhino show signs of inbreeding. So why not bring some of the remaining rhino into captivity, in order to breed? This has not proved highly successful in the past, and indeed often a number of individuals die in the early stages. With a population of just 76 individuals, we do not have spare rhino to gamble with.

Like the Sumatran rhino, the small population left in Java is a relict of a species which roamed a great area of Asia, until not that long ago. If we can save this Javan population there is a potential in the future to reintroduce them to a wide variety of countries in this part of Asia, both mainland and islands.

Will this happen? who knows

Is the Javan tiger extinct? Update on image

This is a post origially put out 2 years ago, however, I found the video had not worked, so here it is again.

There are still sizable areas of protected land in Java, and in 2017 a warden took the below photo.

 

 

Now it is hard to see it clearly, but to me I think it looks more like a leopard unfortunately

Now I am unsure about this picture but would be pleasantly pleased to be proved wrong.

If not, the Javan tiger is very similar to the Sumatran tiger. As such, with a recovery in the wild Sumatran population if a reserve is not suffering poaching, it would be possible to bring the tiger back to Java.

There has been no more sightings of this animal, which suggests that this sighting cannot have been real, but who knows.

It should be noted, that while rangers decided that it must be showing a leopard, this is still exciting. This is because, while a leopard is not a species declared extinct 48 years ago, the Javan Leopard is a species that is highly threatened. The current estimate of the population of this leopard species is between 188-571, most likely around 250 leopards is an accurate figure.

The video below is a clip filmed of the Javan leopard

Reversing extinction: Marwell zoo and the scimitar-horned oryx

Declared extinct in the wild back in 2000, this species is now not only re-established in the wild, but has a big enough population to now only be listed as endangered (down from critically endangered).

Apart from supplying individuals for the reintroduction, Marwell zoo also helped with strategy.

The video below is just 2 minutes long. While it talks about Marwells other work as well, it shows a number of these animals living wild back in Africa.

This has got to become the reason for zoos. What ever else they do, there are many species at risk of extinction in the wild, these need to have enough captive individuals to re-establish wild populations, should the current conservation fail.

Of course, zoos have many other roles, from education, to fostering a love of wildlife in the next generation.

One thing that they should not be, is a curio house- many zoos are far to worried about displaying albino or melanistic individuals. Now while these individuals are fascinating and can be used as ambassadors for the species, their genetic health should be looked after (all white tigers are descended from one female, and closely related individuals are regularly bred togerther to ensure this trait is passed down. Indeed, as a result of this, white tigers are often not of good health.

The majority of zoos are now like Marwell – while like many, it started as the private zoo of wealthy owners it has turned into an important place of conservation and science. Another of their successes, is the cooperative breeding that occurs as standard in current times, across Europe. Regular loaning of animals is essential, so that we can treat all of the zoo animals in Europe as one single population, thereby  making sure that all animals in the system are healthy.

There are many hundreds of zoos across Europe (some claim as many as 2000, though around 1500 is the estimated worldwide number suggesting that this is a rather large exaggeration. It is likely that around half of the worlds zoos are in Europe, and by cooperative breeding, we can make sure that healthy populations remain in captivity, so that should a population be lost from the wild, it can be returned, when the wild situation improves.

Almost all predictions about human population are expected to peak in the coming decades, and then decline after that. If this pattern is followed, it should be expected that we will need to re-establish wilderness in the future. 

Scimitar-horned oryx have been returned to the wild in Tunisia, and Chad and there are plans to return them to the wild in Niger, in the near future.

Extinction was caused by a variety of features, but the primary one was over-hunting. This has virtually been eliminated, after a ban on hunting of this species was put into effect in 2013. Should this species be allowed to fully recover. In 1985, there was a population of at least 500 of this species living in the wild, so it took only 15 years for it to disappear, as such what is clearly essential is a regular assessment on how this species is faring, allowing earlier interventions.

Saving the natural world, may require this kind of success to be a regular feature.

Dominica’s mountain chicken frog is heading to extinction faster than anything recorded before

Once so common that they were cooked as a national food on the island. Yet in just two decades, the animal is one of the rarest in the world, with an estimated population of just 21.

Growing to 20cm long and weighing over 1kg, it was one of Dominica’s apex predators. eating small mammals, snakes and other frogs.

It’s decline is notable, as its calls were formerly something that you heard across the island.

Now, silence from this frog has fallen across most of the island.

Initially, its decline was caused by a fungus, which impacted amphibians skin – important, as many amphibians breathe through there skin, and all breathe through their skin.

The breakout of this fugni led to a decline of 80% in just one year. Known to only occur on one other island (Montserrat), scientists urged strict quarantine measures to stop it arriving, but these warnings failed to have any effect.

A number of these frogs were removed in 2009 as the illness began to spread, and they are housed around the world in various zoos, such as London zoo.

In recent times, a few surviving individuals have been discovered. These appear to be naturally resistant to the chytrid fungus that is at fault.

Unfortunately, shortly after, hurricane Maria hit, and the population declined a further 80%, back into double digits.

Due to the lack of immunity to this fungus, it would appear that zoo individuals that were rescued back in 2009 are all irrelevant. Whether with such a small wild population, it is worth capturing more (it is possible that these new individuals could be bred with already captive individuals, bit this may not retain the immunity).

The remaining wild frogs are found in 2 populations, and neither are found on protected land. As such, the situation could change fast if land use changes would occur.

The conservationists in the wild are still working, but it is thought that there is only 2 years left to save the species from extinction.

Baji or Chinese river dolphin

Baija or Chinese river dolphin - Extinct

Almost definitely extinct, this species of river dolphin lived in the Yangtze and was also known as the white dolphin among other names.

The last confirmed sighting was now more than 20 years ago, and given the incredibly polluted state of their river home it is unlikely that any did survive. There may well be much debate in the future, as to whether similar river dolphins from elsewhere could replace them. What is clear is that this is irrelevant for a significant length of time, as it is likely to be many decades before the river is capable of supporting significant populations of fish, never-mind a river dolphin.

Below is a rare clip of it from before extinction, and below is any times that it is mentioned on this site. Given that it is extinct, its mentioning may not be helpful for seeing it, but may well be of interest. Below this video, is an automated list of any articles from this site which mentions this species. Unfortunately, as the species is extinct means that the local population cannot benefit from ecotourism, but there are many other species that still cling on in China. All wildlife has the capacity to bring in money for those who live nearby. Help us make this happen

Amazon River Dolphin

Amazon river dolphin by Oceancetaceen sometimes known as the Orinoco

Amazon Dolphin

The Amazon river dolphin, (other names include boto, bufeo or pink river dolphin), is a species of toothed whale endemic to South America and is classified in the family Iniidae. Three subspecies are currently recognized: Amazon river dolphin,, Bolivian river dolphin and the Orinoco river dolphin while position of Araguaian river dolphin  within the clade is still unclear The three subspecies are each found in a separate river basin (in order) the Amazon basin, the upper Madeira River in Bolivia, and the Orinoco basin.

The Amazon river dolphin is the largest species of river dolphin, with adult males reaching 185 kilograms (408 lb) in weight, and 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) in length. Adults acquire a pink colour, more prominent in males, giving it its nickname “pink river dolphin”. Sexual dimorphism is very evident, with males measuring 16% longer and weighing 55% more than females.

Like other toothed whales, they have a melon, an organ that is used for bio sonar. The dorsal fin, although short in height, is regarded as long, and the pectoral fins are also large. The fin size, unfused vertebrae, and its relative size allow for improved manoeuvrability when navigating flooded forests and capturing prey.

They have one of the widest ranging diets among toothed whales, and feed on up to 53 different species of fish, such as croakers, catfish, tetras and piranhas. They also consume other animals such as river turtles, aquatic frogs, and freshwater crabs. However, this is not particularly surprising, as there are so many forms of life in the Amazon rainforest, and plenty is likely to occasionally find themselves in the river.

In 2018, this species was classed as endangered, by the IUCN with a declining population. Threats include incidental catch in fishing lines, direct hunting for use as fish bait or predator control, damming, and pollution; as with many species, habitat loss and continued human development is becoming a greater threat.

While it is the only species of river dolphin kept in captivity, almost exclusively in Venezuela and Europe, it is difficult to train and often die very young, when kept in captivity..

Life expectancy of the Amazon river dolphin in the wild is unknown, but in captivity, the longevity of healthy individuals has been recorded at between 10 and 30 years. However, a 1986 study of the average longevity of this species in captivity in the United States is only 33 months. An individual named Baby at the  Duisburg Zoo, Germany, lived at least 46 years, spending 45 years, 9 months at the zoo.

Below you will find any news articles on Amazon dolphin (though articles with both words also get sucked in). Also  we will add any information on where you can go to see these in the wild, beneath both of these.

All rhino species of the world

Rhino have been hit hard in the last few decades. These species are all of the currently surviving species of wild rhino. Indeed, no species of rhino have been lost in modern times – in recent times the woolly rhino was lost. Further back, there are dozens of rhino species which are only known from fossils, with as many as 45-50 different species in the Americas alone.

There are links for the black and white rhino species, as these are found in the savannah ecosystems that we have listed, however, we will add more over time as we make contact with people in the field.

Elephant death mystery solved, but no nearer to a solution

In Zimbabwe, elephants started dropping dead, no-one knew why. This has now been solved, but were not any nearer to ending the problem, and now its spreading.

It is unfortunately a fact, that in the majority of instances, sudden deaths from an unknown illness are impossible to prevent until we know more.

In total, 300 died in Botswana with another 35 dying in Zimbabwe just 2 months later. 50 more elephants have died since in Botswana.

It turns out that these animals have fallen as a result of an obscure bacteria, and scientists are concerned that it could spread to other species.

Should something similar happen amongst, say the lions of an area, we could quickly see all the lions die.

It took 3 years but a wildlife veterinarian at the Victoria Falls wildlife trust has worked out what happened. Although initially thinking it was anthrax, it was spreading in a strange way, and killing to many animals.

It turns out that a bacteria called Pasteurella Bisgaard taxon 45 was responsible. It is relatively rare, and had not been known to kill elephants. Unfortunately, in previous heatwaves, similar issues have been known to jump the species barrier and kill large numbers of antelope – particular during a heat wave. This bacteria caused blood poisoning, and mostly killed recently weaned young, which are generally weaker anyway.

It is unfortunate that outbreaks like this are so easily linked to high temperatures, as our behaviour means that these high temperatures occur more often – so deaths like this may become a way of life. Given the slow rate of reproduction in elephants, this could threaten populations if not dealt with rapidly.

The same bacteria is thought to have been responsible for 200,000 saiga antelope dying on the steppe of Kazakhstan in 2015.

Oddly, this bacteria is thought to live happily in the mouths of a variety of animals from elephants and antelope, to lions tigers and even chipmunks. If all it takes for this bacteria to become deadly is an increase in temperature, we have a hard task ahead of us.

Currently, there are 350,000 savannah elephants in Africa, but this number is already declining by around 8% a year (around 26,000 animals each year, or the equivalent of twice the total elephant population of the Kruger national park – one of the largest in the world. While it is possible to turn this around it is not easy.

The worlds top sovereign fund is cutting ties with a dam which will likely lead to the extinction of the Tapanuli Orangutan

In most countries, if a dam was to cause so much destruction to the last habitat of a species, the dam would likely not get permission to be built.

It is true that the dam will only take about 20% of the land in question, directly. It will also split the population in half.

It is not surprising that the Norwegian sovereign fund has pulled out of this dam

Given that only around 800 Tapanuli Orangutans survive in the wild, the loss of just a handful is bad. A loss of 20% of the remaining population could quite rapidly push the population towards extinction, particularly as it will split the few remaining Orangutans into separate populations which cannot interbreed.

Norway has a huge sovereign fund, into which it pours the countries earnings from fossil fuel extraction. Perhaps recognizing that this has a shelf life which is not far from ending, Norway has made sure that for the most part its sovereign fund is good for the natural world (alongside giving good returns)

Generally rules on financing should have ruled this project out in the past, so it is good that this decision has been eventually made.

Will the dam still get built? We will have to wait and see.

See Animals Wild