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.

Primate family tree main and great and lesser apes

Primate family tree

The primates are in some ways one of the most successful families. It is true that many are now endangered, however, unfortunately, that is as a result of the run-away success of the most successful member of the primate family us! Having left the rainforests behind, we have been reducing their coverage dramatically over the last few centuries. 

The sad thing, is that while we have pushed many of our closest cousins towards extinction, the loss of forests may well cost us dearly in the future as well. As a species, we need to pull together to meet this challenge. in order to jump to the various families, click on the family of interest above – though all can also be reached by scrolling down.

Great Apes

Great ape Family split is thought to have split from its nearest relative – the gibbon family, around 17 million years ago.

4 million years later the Orangutan family split from the gorilla line and the human/chimp line.

3 million years after this (so around 10 million years ago) the gorilla family split from the Homo (humans) and Pan

Finally the human line (homo) split from the Pan line 5-6 million years ago.

It should be noted, that chimpanzees and Bonobos split from a common ancestor just 1.8 million years ago. This occurred as the two populations ceased to be able to have contact with each other – the Congo rive formed between 1.5 and 2 million years ago.

For more information on each species, click on their photo and this will take you to their page

It should be noted that while I have grouped eastern western and skywalker gibbon together, there is some contention that the skywalker gibbon should be in its own genus, having diverged around half a million years aog


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.

aaa Pureto princesa subterranean river national park

Pureto princesa subterranean river national park, Philipenes

Located in the St Paul mountain range on the west coast of the island of Palawan, the park contains the Puerto princesa subterranean river. 165 species of bird have been recorded in the park including the blue naped parrot and this Tabon scrub-fowl. There are also a total of 30 mammal species recorded, the long-tailed macaque is most often seen in the forest canopy or looking for food along the sea shore at low tide. Other mammals include the Palawan bearded pig, the Palawan stink badger and the Palawan porcupine. There are also a list of 19 reptiles which include the common reticulated python, the monitor lizard, and the green crested lizard.

If you have been lucky enough to have an encounter with wild Boar, like me you will have recognized them as like pigs but different – but …

Wild boar are the wild ancestors of the modern pig. This is why pigs and boar can interbreed – The domestication occurred in Europe, but started about 9,000 years ago, about 3000 years after we started farming crops. It appears to have happened slowly over time, not all at once as some other domestication moves have been. It is thought that this process started in Turkey, and a couple of millennia later in China. There is some evidence that it also occurred elsewhere in Europe.

The modern pig appears to be descended from a variety of different species of wild boar, suggesting a certain amount of mixing of the different domesticated pigs. It is also clear that human preference had a great impact, as very similar pig like animals appeared in several different parts of the world independently.

In the UK, wild boar populations have accidently been created. These have grown fast, and are currently requiring big culls most years. I would like to see some of these boar moved rather than being killed. Forests with wild boar in, are far more healthy with more young saplings naturally sprouting. I believe that we should accept that the boar is back and reintroduce it into every significant area of woodland in existence.

It is true, that they can be dangerous however so can deer. As with all wild animals, provided you do not get too close you should be fine. Now I would argue that natural predators would be the best control on numbers, but I think in the UK we are not there yet.

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