A new study from Monteray Bay Aquarium has once again highlighted the importance of sea otters for the health of the Kelp forests

These kelp forests have an essential little helper for its survival. It has become clear that sea otters are essential members of communities of the kelp forests off the coast of California. Sea weed, which includes Kelp, locks away around 200 million tonnes of carbon each year and so are an essential part of the fight against global warming.

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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

Albino panda spotted in the wild

Rare albino panda seen again

If anyone has been reading this blog for some time, you may remember me writing about an albino panda that was photographed in wulong nature reserve in China (click here to read it)

This bear has been caught on camera (see above) and appears to be doing well. It has started to display mating behaviour and appears to be extremely healthy. It has all the features generally associated with albinism, with white fur and red eyes.. It is now around 5-6 years old, and has been seen playing with other pandas, suggesting that its unusual colouring is not leading to it being shunned from other pandas.

It was filmed approaching a mother with a 2 year-old cub. As the mother was ready to mate again, and yet did not show aggression to this male bear getting close, it is likely that this female is the mother of the white cub.

Currently thought to be numbered 1800 in the wild, the panda is currently listed as threatened – having been delisted from being endangered in 2016. It is also an integral part of the Giant panda national park which is being created, and links 67 panda reserves, allowing the bears to travel between the former islands of habitat, giving them the ability to breed in a more natural way. This is important, as inbreeding would make panda conservation even harder.

Algonquin wolves -origin different than we thought?

The Algonquin wolf, also known as the Eastern wolf is a species which has been discovered in the eastern USA and Canada (click on the bold name above, to visit the species page). 

Perhaps, understandably, it is hard to find a new species in the USA unless it is already pretty rare. This species is only thought to have around 500 individuals, throughout its range (eastern USA and north into Canada).

South-eastern Canada has been known for a race of wolves and coyotes, that do not appear quite right for some time. This study suggested that this group of wolves split from the rest of wolves around 67,000 years ago. This appears to recent to give rise to the significant genetic differences, but it appears that this population also bred with coyotes around 37,000 years ago, and has continued to have genetic exchange between both species (on occasion) since.

As such, it is suggested that the Eastern wolf largely owes its appearance to hybridization between all three.

Has this lead to a more successful species? Well, one may well suggest not, given the small number of these wolves that survive at this time.

However, this is a well settled part of North America, suggesting that in fact it could be down to human hunting rather than natural forces.

Panda bear behaving like a meat eater/scavenger?

This bear was filmed, gnawing on a bone from a takin, a species of wild cattle.

For a species which is thought to survive exclusively on bamboo, this would be strange behaviour.

However, pandas do not survive exclusively on bamboo as roughly 1% of their diet comes from other foods. In fact, their digestive system is typical of a carnivore, so the remaining 1% of their diet can include eggs, small animals and carrion – like this bone. Pandas are also known to forage in farmland for pumpkin, kidney beans, wheat and domestic pig food.

The thing is, pandas eat up to 38kg a day, which means that during the week, they eat around 3kg of food that is not bamboo. This is significant, and while much of this may well be other vegetation, if the time spent on other food sources was around 1% of the time, it would suggest at least 1 hour a week spent eating other things.

One must remember that their intelligence is on a par with Chimpanzee and gorilla -like other bears, so they are capable of working things out.

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.

African Dwarf crocodile

African dwarf crocodile

The dwarf crocodile (also known as the African dwarf crocodile, broad-snouted crocodile -a name more often used for the Asian mugger crocodile) or bony crocodile), is an African crocodile that is also the smallest living species of crocodile.

Found in lowlands to mid-height areas, in small and mid-size streams (they avoid large rivers). Generally, they live in rivers that lie in rainforest, though they will venture into the open.

They are known, in places, to be found in pools deeply isolated in Savannah. In western Gabon, there are also a group which have been living long-term in caves. It is considered vulnerable by the IUCN and is Appendix i of CITES. Where they are declining, it appears largely as a result of deforestation and hunting for the bushmeat trade. As a result, while in some regions they have a healthy population, in others (like Gambia and Liberia) they are almost lost.

In zoos in the USA and Europe there are a few of this species, however, records are not good, and quite a few of them are clearly hybrids with little conservation use. I should note, a zoo I occasionally volunteer at (marwell zoo) had one of these crocodiles until last year when it went to another zoo for breeding.

We hope to be able to list places for you to visit to see this species as soon as possible. Any of these will appear below the video and the news section (this lists all the times that this species has been mentioned (if any) in this blog). Below this, we will list all the easiest places we have connections to, to see this species.

 

See Animals Wild