Black and gold howler monkeys avoid power cables when they can in Paraguay.

Many species of primate within the Amazon rainforest has become quite content moving around in human areas, as they have sprung up fast across the region.

Yet, these cables are not surprisingly dangerous, carrying high voltage. As such, in some places an alarming number of them die as a result.

As these towns are built within the Amazon, we must make sure that it does not kill wildlife that wanders into town

Maned wolf shown on planet earth 3

For those watching this amazing series, you will have see the beautiful animal – looking rather like a fox on stilts, the maned wolf is a species that lives on the plains of the cerrado in South America. It is unfortunately greatly under threat. Time will tell what will happen in the future.

These animals are heavily under threat, and as such, it is essential that locals see them as a benefit. This means that tourism to this region will help their long-term future. 

It is a particularly difficult issue for those who are concerned, because while we want to cut our carbon emissions, we must also find a way for enough people to visit, to warrant their long term protection.

We have a page for the maned wolf, and we have embeded a video from a bbc wildlife documentary on this species from a few years ago (though you can also watch a good clip of it from planet earth 3 episode 3)

Click here to visit the page.

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

La Plata Dolphin

La Plata dolphin

Also known as franciscana or toninha, this is a river dolphin, found in the coastal waters of southeastern South America. Being a member of the Inioidea family, it is only capapable of living in saltwater, so is found in the ocean and saltwater estuaries. This has an unfortunate effect of being around the mouth of rivers, and therefore being effected by all the pollutants picked up the whole route of the river.

It is also regularly noted, that this run-off kills off the fish which this dolphin species requires for survival. It was first described in 1844.

It is thought that fewer than 30,000 of these animals remain in the wild.

There is some tourism around this species. As we get links they will appear beneath the news section below.

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.

Ecuadorians have voted to halt oil drilling in an Amazonian national park – GOOD NEWS!

The referendum on Yasuni reserve will benefit a huge range of species, along with several groups of uncontacted tribes of indigenous people. The vote was not close, with 90% of votes counted protection won by around 20%. It will also keep around 726 million barrels of oil in the ground. Given that one barrel is 158 litres, that is 114 billion liters of oil, and as each one emits at least 3 kg of carbon dioxide, this is going to save 350 billion kg of carbon dioxide released into the air. This is a huge win for the environment, but also for the wildlife of the Yasuni reserve.

Amazon deforestation has fallen over 60% since last July

Great progress is being made in slowing rainforest destruction in Brazil with great falls in the last year. It is true that this rate needs to fall to zero in the near future, but great progress is being.

A lot of this progress is as a result of the end of the Bolsonaro regime, and could swing back should a similar person come to power.

However, what is clear is that if the Amazon reaches a tipping point and starts to dry out, it will rapidly die, and at this point there is unlikely to be enough rain for the regions croplands to remain (the crops will no longer grow as a result of the lack of rain).

It is essential that the rest of the world invests heavily in this region, in order to give a clear alternative to soy and cattle rearing in order to earn a living.

Brazil has enough unutilized cattle pastureland, to allow soy cultivation to increase by a third without any further deforestation

There is a constant tug of war, between developed countries which are encouraging developing countries to continue to protect their wildernesses, and the developing countries wish to be able to develop – to lift their citizens out of poverty.

Granted, the majority of deforestation does not benefit the people on the ground, but it does not stop politicians in these countries arguing that those in the west cannot stop development by demanding conservation of ecosystems.

However, the amount of land that has been deforested in Brazil, is far in excess of what is needed for cattle pasture and experts have calculated that Brazil (the worlds number one Soy producer, and biggest beef exporter) could increase the amount of land used to grow Soy by a third without cutting one extra tree down.

We can only hope that with the election of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the unregulated deforestation will stop. There is a great deal of space in Brazil for intensifying agriculture, which would allow a significant increase in productivity and goods coming from the agriculture lands, without cutting down any more rainforest.

Of course, this is partly a matter of survival. While some people on the ground in Brazil may wish to cut down more rainforest in order to have more cropland, the more forest is cut down, the less rain the remaining forest produces.

Soy cultivation can expand in Brazil, by one third without cutting down another tree – by taking over unused grazing land

There is a constant tug of war, between developed countries which are encouraging developing countries to continue to protect their wildernesses, and the developing countries wish to be able to develop – to lift their citizens out of poverty.

In one shot: soy farming at the front, rainforest behind and you can see cattle grazing areas at the back

In one shot: Soy cultivation at the front, standing rainforest is next and in the back you can see areas of cattle grazing
Continue reading “Soy cultivation can expand in Brazil, by one third without cutting down another tree – by taking over unused grazing land”

Lula wins!

Time will tell how good Lula is, but the world has had a reprieve!

WE MUST KEEP OUR EYE ON THIS SITUATION, BUT FOR NOW WE CAN RELAX

Lula, the new president of Brazil – it would be hard to be worse than Bolsonaro

So what has Brazil turned its back on?

Jair Bolsonaro time in office was characterized by attacks on:

  • Democratic institutions (from human rights institutions to deforestation watch, many more)
  • The Media
  • The Left (given Bolsonaro was far right, this means virtually every opponent politician)
  • The Amazon rainforest

So what did Lula run on?

  • Social Justice
  • Environmental protection
  • Defending democracy
  • Reunifying the country

Will there be a peaceful handover of power? No one knows. Jair Bolsonaro, like Donald Trump before him has stated many times over the last few months, that he cannot loose a fair election. As an outsider, it is hard to see how he would ever win a fair election but there we are.

He has the support of much of the army (a former soldier himself) and there is much concern that he could throw the country into chaos, and would have a far greater chance of actually overthrowing the government than Trump did in the USA.

He only won with a margin of 2%, and as of yet Bolsonaro is still yet to comment on the results. If Lula is allowed to retake the presidency, then it will mark the end of an incredible comeback,

Lula was president from 2003-2010. After this, he spent time in prison for corruption convictions – later annulled.

Pro – Bolsonaro Truckers have blocked highways across Brazil in protest, but nothing worse has yet occurred.

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