Cassowary species

 PaleoNeolitic (montage creator) BS Thurner Hof Kora27 Martin Sordilla – Wikimedia Commons


  • There are 3 species of Cassowary, from left to right Southern, Northern and dwarf Cassowary. The Southern Cassowary is the 3rd largest and 2nd heaviest bird in the world, after ostrich and rhea.

90% of their diet consists of fruit. Having said this, they are classed as omnivores and take a range of foods including shoots and grass seeds, fungi invertebrates, eggs carrion fish and small vertebrates such as rodents, small birds, frogs, lizards and snakes. While all of the ratite family can eat meat, Cassowaries are by definition the most omnivorous, and while other ratites will eat meat when other food is scarce Cassowaries take more meat than others.

While the southern Cassowary has part of its range on Australia, all three have their main range on New Guinea

  • The southern Cassowary is listed as least concern by the IUCN, however with a 4400 individuals other agencies class it as endangered.
  • The northern Cassowary is also listed as least concern by IUCN and this population numbers 10,000-20,000
  • The dwarf Cassowary is listed as least concern as well. Unfortunately I cannot find estimates for this species, but with an overall population of 20,000-50,000 it is likely to be the most common
Adults are formidable enough that there is no regular predation. However, a range of birds such as the Papuan eagle, mammals such as the New Guinea singing dogs, and reptiles such as pythons and monitor lizards all take young when adults are not protecting enough.
Below is any news we have written on this species, and below that will be listed places you can see this species in the wild. Should you work in conservation or tourism on this range of species do get in touch through the list your wild place link on the home page.

The end of Whaling in Iceland, end of an era, or sensible financial move

Whaling went on for centuries, in many parts of the world. One of these was Iceland, where due to the latitude, it is often hard to grow much food. Iceland did not end whaling when it was banned by the international community, and since then have hunted and killed around 1800. They returned to hunting fin whales last year, but what is clear, is that not only do the Icelandic people not want to eat the whale meat, but there is little hunger for it elsewhere in the world. Indeed, whaling is incredibly expensive, and has only stayed afloat through government support.

Whales are essential to the worlds oceans, both through their fertilization through their waste, and the vast amounts of carbon that they sequester over their lives. For the foreseeable time we need every living whale we can have, in the fight against the damage which humans are doing to the planet.

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.

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.



The Aardvark is an incredibly rarely seen animal. It is found on the savannahs of Africa, and generally lives well in and out of protected areas. It is quite a sizable aniimals, and has relatively high densities throughout its range (roughly 1 per square km in habitats that it is best suited to).

So why is it so rare to see this animal? They are one of the most exclusively nocturnal species that you can find. These are animals for which wildlife guides get excited.

The name, translated from Afrikaans means earth-pig. They are incredible diggers, and many of the burrows in the savannah are dug by them, who ever ends up using them.

The are insect eaters, and are well suited. Their claws are strong, allowing them to dig into the incredibly hard termite mounds, it has a long tongue of around 30cm, which they can direct down ant holes to get hold of their food. They have an incredible sense of smell and hearing to allow them to find the animals, and can shut their eyes and nose so as to avoid being attacked back.

Although rarely seen, there are places which have learnt how to watch them, giving you a great chance to see an animal few know about. Over recent decades, they have started appearing in zoos, with Colchester in the UK (should you visit, it is a species that needs patience, otherwise you are likely to just see a pile of aardvarks sleeping in their burrow.

It is at the top of animals I would like to see in the wild. Given, their range both in and out of reserves, I am hoping over time to build up plenty of places to see them out in the human world. Please get in touch if you are a farmer, who has these on your land.

Any of the savannah ecosystems on our wild places list will host these animals, however a great deal of luck will be needed to see them in the wild. However, we will add an special places we find where your odds are higher. For now, click here, if you want to visit a savannah ecosystem in the near future.

Spinner Dolphin

Spinner dolphin

The spinner dolphin (also known as the long-snouted dolphin (distinguishing it from the Clymene dolphin – which is often called the short snouthed spinner dolphin) is a small dolphin found in off-shore tropical waters around the world. It is famous for its spinning  along its length, as it leaps from the water. It is a member of the family Delphinidae of toothed whales.

The four named subspecies are:

  • Eastern spinner dolphin, found from the tropical eastern Pacific.
  • Central American or Costa Rican spinner dolphin, also found in the tropical eastern Pacific.
  • Gray’s or Hawaiian spinner dolphin, from the central Pacific Ocean around Hawaii but represents a mixture of broadly similar subtypes found worldwide.
  • Dwarf spinner dolphin, first found in the Gulf of Thailand.

The species, though, displays greater variety than these subspecies might indicate. A hybrid form characterized by its white belly inhabits the eastern Pacific. Other less distinct groupings inhabit other oceans.The species name comes from the Latin word for “long-beaked.”

Spinner dolphins are small cetaceans with a slim build. Adults are 129–235 cm long and weigh 23–79 kg. This species has an elongated rostrum and a triangular or subtriangular dorsal fin. Spinner dolphins generally have three colours, one on the dorsal fin, one on the underside and one on the upper-side. Also, a dark band runs from the eye to the flipper, bordered above by a thin, light line. However, the spinner dolphin has more geographic variation in form and coloration than other cetaceans. In the open waters of eastern Pacific, dolphins have relatively small skulls with short rostra. A dwarf form of spinner dolphin occurs around southeast Asia. In these same subspecies, a dark dorsal cape dims their tripartite colour patterns Further offshore, subspecies tend to have a paler and less far-reaching cape.] In certain subspecies, some males may have upright fins that slant forward.[8] Some populations of spinner dolphin found in the eastern Pacific have backwards-facing dorsal fins, and males can have dorsal humps and upturned caudal flukes.

The spinner dolphin lives in nearly all tropical and subtropical waters between 40°N and 40°S. The species primarily inhabits coastal waters, islands, or banks. However, in the eastern tropical Pacific, spinner dolphins live far from shore. Some studies suggest they use different areas at different times of the year.

The spinner dolphin feeds mainly on small mesopelagic fish, squids, and sergestid shrimps, and will dive 200–300 m to feed on them. Spinner dolphins of Hawaii are nocturnal feeders and forage in deep scattering layers, which contain many species. The dwarf spinner dolphin may feed mostly on benthic fish in reefs and shallow water. Off Oahu, Hawaii, spinner dolphins forage at night and cooperatively herd their prey into highly dense patches. They swim around the prey in a circle and a pair may swim through the circle to make a catch. Spinner dolphins are in turn preyed on by sharks. Other possible predators include the killer whale, the false killer whale, the pygmy killer whale and the short-finned pilot whale. They are susceptible to parasites, and are known to exhibit both external ones like barnacles and remoras as well as internal parasites.

Due to the spinner dolphin foraging and feeding at night, in certain regions, such as Hawaii and northern Brazil, dolphins spend the daytime resting in shallow bays near deep water. Spinner dolphins rest as a single unit, moving back and forth slowly in a tight formation but just out of contact with one another. These resting behaviours are observed for about four to five hours daily. During rest periods, spinner dolphins rely on vision rather than echolocation. At dusk, they travel offshore to feed. They travel along the shore during foraging trips, and the individuals that occupy the same bay may change daily. Some individual dolphins do not always go to a bay to rest; however, in Hawaii, dolphins do seem to return to the same site each trip.

Spinner dolphins live in an open and loose social organization. The spinner dolphins of Hawaii live in family groups, but also have associations with others beyond their groups. Mothers and calves form strong social bonds. Spinner dolphins seem to have a promiscuous mating system, with individuals changing partners for up to some weeks. A dozen adult males may gather into coalitions. Vocalizations of spinner dolphins include whistles, which may be used to organize the school, burst-pulse signals, and echolocation clicks. The spinner dolphin has a 10-month gestation period, and mothers nurse their young for one to two years. Females are sexually mature at four to seven years, with three-year calving intervals, while males are sexually mature at seven to 10 years. Spinner dolphins live for about 20-25 years old. Breeding is seasonal, more so in certain regions than others.

Although most spinner dolphins are found in the deeper waters offshore of the islands, the rest of the Hawaiʻi population has a more coastal distribution. During daytime hours, the island-associated stocks of Hawaiian spinner dolphins seek sanctuary in nearshore waters, where they return to certain areas to socialize, rest, and nurture their young.

They get their name for their spinning jumps, a spinner dolphin comes out of the water front first and twists its body as it rises into the air. When it reaches its maximum height, the dolphin descends back into the water, landing on its side. A dolphin can make two to seven spins in one leap; the swimming and rotational speed of the dolphin as it spins underwater affects the number of spins it can do while airborne. These spins may serve several functions. Some of these functions are believed by experts to be acoustic signalling or communication. Another reason is to remove ectoparasites such as remoras. Dolphins may also make nose-outs, tail slaps, flips, head slaps, “salmon leaps”, and side and back slaps.

The protected status of spinner dolphins are CITES Appendix II and Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) protected throughout its range as well as MMPA depleted in its eastern stock. Tens of thousands of spinner dolphins, mostly eastern and white-bellied varieties, were killed in the 30 years after purse seine fishing for tuna began in the 1950s; The process killed probably half of all eastern spinner dolphins. They have also been contaminated by pollutants such as DDT and PCBs. Spinner dolphins, as with other species affected by ETP tuna purse-seine fishing, are managed nationally by the coastal countries and internationally by the IATTC. The IATTC has imposed annual stock mortality limits on each purse seine and promulgated regulations regarding the safe release of dolphins. The eastern tropical Pacific and Southeast Asian populations of the spinner dolphin are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), since they have an unfavourable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international co-operation organized by tailored agreements. In addition, the spinner dolphin is covered by Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region (Pacific Cetaceans MoU) and the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of Western Africa and Macaronesia (Western African Aquatic Mammals MoU). Spinner dolphins are susceptible to disease and two of the recorded diseases within them are toxoplasmosis and cetacean morbillivirus. The number of cases reported however is fairly low in the species.

Spinner dolphins in Hawaii receive multiple daily visits to their near-shore resting grounds, with boats taking people out daily to snorkel and interact with the local dolphin population. Such activities are increasingly coming under criticism on the grounds of possible harm to the dolphins, and efforts are being made both to educate the public in order to minimise human impact on the dolphins, and to bring in regulations to govern these activities. In 2023, 33 swimmers were arrested for reportedly harassing dolphins off the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. The swimmers reportedly broke federal law by swimming within 45 meters (50 yards) of the dolphins. The ban went into effect in 2021 due to dolphins not getting enough rest during the day to forage for food at night. The swimmers were caught by drone footage pursuing the dolphins as they tried to escape.

We are eager to work with people who run boats to see these animals – provided they are run with due care for the animals. Do get in touch, or fill in a form you will find in ‘List your wild place’ at the top of the page (or click here).

Atlantic humpback dolphin

Atlantic Humpback Dolphin

The Atlantic humpback dolphin is a dolphin species that is found on the west coastal areas of Africa. Unfortunately the IUCN classes it as critically endangered. Apart from their difference in range with the Indo-Pacific dolphin, they are also different in appearance, particularly colouring. 

It is found along the coast from the Sahara to Angola, generally in water less than 20m deep. It is generally shy, does not ride the bow wave of boats and ariel jumps are pretty rare. Usually found in groups of 1-8, occasionally they have been seen in groups of 20-40.

Generally they look for food in the shallows, and occasionally right in the surf. They have been known to engage in cooperative fishing methods with Mauritanian Imraguen fishermen. They do this by driving the fish towards the shore and into the nets. They favour inshore fish such as mullet.

As in many other parts of the world, and other dolphin species, one of the biggest threats they face is incidental capture in gill nets.

It is considered critically endangered, partly because it has been shown to be damaged by coastal development, and this is increasingly common in its range. We are eager to support its future survival, through any tourism (this helps giving value to the species, and therefore makes sure that local people are invested in its future survival. If you work in tourism of this species, click on the “list your wild place” link on the home page. These links when added, will be added at the bottom of the page. If you work in conservation of this species, do join as a member, we are keen to publish any news that you might have.

Harbour Porpoise

Harbour Porpoise

This is one of the smallest cetaceans, which spends the majority of its time in estuaries and harbours – though it will sometimes venture up rivers, and have been found 100km from the coast.

They get their name from an anglicized version of the french word Porpois. This in turn comes from a medieval Latin amalgamation of two word – these are porcus (pig) and Piscus (fish). I think that these names are rather unfair, but still.

Its range is the North Atlantic, North Pacific and the Black sea. The populations are not continuous and as such there is a series of sub-populations that are geographically limited.

They are thought to have a global population of around 700,000, the Baltic sea is the only one which is seriously endangered, and that is the Baltic sea population which is thought to be around 500. Others could become endangered if current trends continue such as the Black sea population which is currently estimated to number around 12,000.

They have to spend a great deal of time looking for food, as they need to eat 7-8% of their bodyweight each day.

Generally, they live 8-13 years although individuals have been recorded living to over 20.



Generally, the source of any so called unicorn horns, they have a tooth that can extend more than 3m from their mouths and some have 2. Most recent populations suggest around 170,000, Induit from Canada and Greenland have hunted them for both meat and ivory.


They migrate in winter, and much of their food comes from Arctic cod and Greenland Halibut and live around 50 years. Young narwhals are predated by both Polar bears at breathing holes and Greenland sharks.

They are essentially an odd looking species of dolphin. There are around 123,000 individuals, living in 12 different groups in areas around the arctic.

Sei Whale

Sei Whale

The third largest after the blue and the fin whale, it is found in most of the worlds deep oceans, though it avoids the tropics and the polar regions. It can reach lengths of 19.5m and weights of 28 tonnes, it is capable of consuming 900kg of food in a day.

It can reach speeds of over 30 mph (50kmh) over short distances making it one of the fastest whales. During commercial whaling, around 250,000 were taken, and the population fell to between 7000 and 13,000. This has thankfully recovered to 80,000 but is clearly still not near its pre-whaling numbers.

Sei is the Norweigen word for the Pollark fish which appears off the coast at the same time of year, to feast on the plankton which is abundant at that time of year.

They generally migrate away from the poles to spend the winters in warmer waters.

Mass stranding events (over 300 dying at a time on occasion) happen from time to time, and while we are not sure what causes this, we think it is likely some sort of poisoning of their waters – such as a red tide. 

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