Friday, 19 December 2014

Specialist anti-poaching air squadron set to launch in Tanzania

Speaking at a hand over of donated 4×4 vehicles the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism in Tanzania, Lazaro Nyalandu, has announced that a special air squadron of 5 helicopters is set to take to the skies in the New Year as the country continues its fight against poachers.

Despite the loss of a helicopter which crashed last month killing 4 staff, the Ministry has said that the new squadron will be ready to take on the poachers within weeks.

The crashed helicopter is covered by insurance and will be replaced. A second helicopter is currently on the way to Tanzania and once new pilots have been trained in South Africa and the United States the squadron will be bought up to strength.

The minister made the announcement as the wildlife service received a donation of five Toyota Land-Cruiser Pickup trucks from the Wildlife Conservation Foundation of Tanzania.

Hainan gibbon ‘clinging on’ with 25 left in China

Scientists say a disease outbreak or typhoon could push world’s rarest ape species towards extinction

Jonathan Kaiman in Beijing

Friday 19 December 2014 13.45 GMT

Scientists are racing to save a critically endangered ape species that lives only in the rainforests of southern China’s Hainan island. With 25 known individuals remaining, a disease outbreak or a strong typhoon could “massively impact” the species’s chances of survival, the scientists say.
Samuel Turvey, a senior research fellow at the Zoological Society of London, said the Hainan gibbon was “definitely the world’s rarest ape species, the rarest primate species, and one of the rarest mammal species. They’re kind of clinging on, literally and metaphorically, to patches of forest in the mountains which people haven’t gotten around to cutting down yet.”

He said both the species and its habitat were protected under Chinese law, but “the population is so low now that simply removing the threat isn’t enough … If by chance one or two of them die from disease, or a typhoon, their chance of recovery [would be] massively impacted.”

Turvey added: “The Hainan gibbon can become one of the world’s conservation success stories if everyone works together and the right steps are carried out.”

Hainan is China’s smallest and southernmost province, an island of rainforests, mountains and sandy beaches in the South China Sea. The gibbons – gangly creatures with small black faces and thick beige fur – live in the Bawangling national nature reserve, a 26 sq mile swath of rainforest more than 120 miles from the provincial capital, Haikou.

Time management skills keep animals primed for survival

December 18, 2014


Many animals may have a previously under-appreciated ability to make up for lost time with more effort, according to new research.

This capability could help scientists better understand how animals make efficient decisions in changing environments -- and ultimately help ensure the survival of a species.

Researchers from Princeton University challenge the conventional view that animals face a simple trade-off between the speed and the accuracy of their decisions. Adrian de Froment, Daniel Rubenstein and Simon Levin instead suggest that this picture of a two-way trade-off is missing a crucial third component: an ability to expend effort at a greater rate to compensate for any limit to the time spent making a decision.

The researchers use the theory of statistical decision-making to show that if an animal can control not only the time it invests in each decision, but also the amount of effort it invests within each unit of time, then it can swap effort for time as the situation demands. For example, if an animal comes under pressure to decide quickly, it can limit any loss in accuracy by expending more effort in the time that remains.

New record for deepest fish

19 December 2014 Last updated at 01:01

By Rebecca Morelle
Science Correspondent, BBC News, San Francisco

A new record has been set for the world's deepest fish.

The bizarre-looking creature, which is new to science, was filmed 8,145m beneath the waves, beating the previous depth record by nearly 500m.

Several other new species of fish were also caught on camera, as well as huge crustaceans called supergiants.

The animals were discovered during an international expedition to the Mariana Trench, which lies almost 11km down in the Pacific Ocean.

The 30-day voyage took place from the Schmidt Ocean Institute's research vessel, Falkor, and is the most comprehensive survey of world's deepest place ever undertaken.

The Hadal Ecosystem Studies (Hades) team deployed unmanned landers more than 90 times to depths that ranged between 5,000m and 10,600m. They studied both steep walls of the undersea canyon.

A hyena for Christmas? You're having a laugh

They've had lousy PR but these animals can be adorable – and they need our protection

Sunday 14 December 2014

They have been maligned for millennia – from the days of antiquity when they were despised as grave robbers to Disney's portrayal of vicious, laughing henchmen in The Lion King.

But the Born Free Foundation hopes to persuade us that hyenas are "utterly adorable" and worth saving. In the run-up to Christmas, the charity has launched an "adopt a hyena" scheme to help to fund conservation work in Africa. For £2.50 a month, "parents" will get a cuddly toy hyena, a photo and a family history.

The conservation charity admits it may be a tough sell. Mark Jones, a vet and the foundation's wildlife policy programmes manager, said: "Most people would be used to Born Free promoting adoptions for lions and elephants. This is something a little bit different … perhaps not something most people would think of right at the top of the list of animals to adopt. They do get a bit of a bad rap, which is a great shame because they are fascinating and really important animals.

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