Sunday, 1 March 2015

Did This Man Catch A Giant Catfish, Or The Spawn Of Cthulhu?

The Huffington Post | By Sebastian Murdock

Posted: 02/26/2015 3:24 pm EST Updated: 02/27/2015 2:59 am EST

Italian man Dino Ferrari reeled in a 280-pound catfish behemoth in Italy's Po River last week, reminding us all that we are but mere mortals at the mercy of otherworldly demons.

Ferrari fought with the beast for 35 minutes before Cthulhu and the Great Old Ones deemed our hero worthy enough to pull victory from the murky abyss.

Here's video of Ferrari holding the demon, seemingly afraid to move lest he suffer the wrath of the ancient creature.

Ferrari released the fish back into its netherwordly home. In exchange, Ferrari gets to keep his soul.

Amphibian chytrid fungus reaches Madagascar

February 26, 2015

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ

The chytrid fungus, which is fatal to amphibians, has been detected in Madagascar for the first time. This means that the chytridiomycosis pandemic has now reached a biodiversity hotspot. Researchers are therefore proposing an emergency plan. This includes monitoring the spread of the pathogenic fungus, building amphibian breeding stations and developing probiotic treatments, say the scientists.

DNA analysis is latest weapon in combating illegal ivory trade

DNA proves conclusively whether ivory comes from African or Asian elephants

A collaborative project between Thailand’s Department of National Parks, the Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, has trialled forensic DNA examination of ivory products commonly available in local markets to assess their origins.

One hundred and sixty items of small ivory products legally acquired by TRAFFIC researchers, primarily from retail outlets in Bangkok, were subjected to DNA analysis at the DNP’s Wildlife Forensics Crime Unit (WIFOS Laboratory).

The aim of the exercise was to determine whether the ivory products were made from African Elephant or Asian Elephant tusks. 

The forensic results showed that African Elephant ivory accounted for a majority of the items tested. 

The eyes have it: Cats put sight over smell in finding food

February 26, 2015

University of Lincoln

Cats may prefer to use their eyes rather than follow their nose when it comes to finding the location of food, according to new research by leading animal behaviourists.

Felines have a tremendous sense of smell and vision, but the new study by researchers at the University of Lincoln, UK, has for the first time investigated which sense they prefer to use under test conditions -- and suggested sight may be more important than smell.

A group of six cats were placed in a maze which had 'decision' points -- and the cats had to choose which avenue they took based on their preference for using images or smell. They were simultaneously presented with two squares of paper, each containing a different visual and odour cue. One combination of stimuli indicated they would receive a food reward, whereas the other led to no reward.

Once the cats had learned the rules of the game and received food rewards for correctly choosing either the visual stimulus or the olfactory stimulus, the researchers separated the cues (visual versus olfactory) to investigate whether the cats were using their eyes or nose to solve the task.

China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

But their habitat is still under threat from fragmentation, caused by physical barriers such as roads

Sunday 01 March 2015

They have acquired a reputation as being rather picky when it comes to sex, but giant pandas in the wild appear to have been busy. According to a new census in China, the population of the animals has gone up by 268 since 2003, taking their total numbers to 1,864 – an increase of nearly 17 per cent. The bears have also extended their territory to more than 2.5m hectares – a 12 per cent increase.

Nicola Loweth, conservation group WWF UK’s regional officer for India and China, said: “The increase in population is due to the implementation of a number of successful conservation actions by the Chinese government, nature reserve staff and local communities.”

She said that the panda population’s growth had wider benefits. “This news is not just about giant pandas. We’re also talking about their habitats. It means that very important eco-systems are being protected for a whole range of other species.”

Their numbers are thought to have been boosted by the establishment of the Giant Panda Nature Reserve Network, measures to ban logging in certain areas and steps to reduce poaching. The number of designated nature reserves has also been increased from 40 to 67 since 2003, so that about two-thirds of the wild panda population now live in protected areas.

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