Thursday, 31 July 2014

Underwater elephants: Mixed impacts of the world's largest -- and threatened -- parrotfish

July 29, 2014

University of California - Santa Barbara

Scientists recently got back to basics in order to discover the positive and negative effects that bumphead parrotfish exert on coral reef ecosystems. Using direct observation, animal tracking and computer simulation, the researchers sought to understand whether the world's largest parrotfish is necessary for positively shaping the structure and functioning of ecosystems. The answer is yes and no.

British turtles are booming

Posted by: Kevin Heath / 1 day ago

It may take more than a day trip to the coast to see the booming turtle population but the numbers of green turtles on British dependency Ascension Island are booming. The latest survey shows that turtle numbers on the main beaches now total 24,000 nests – an increase of 500% since records began in the 1970′s

The increase means that the beaches around the Ascension Island are now the second largest breeding population in the Atlantic Ocean. The future could be even brighter for the turtles and other wildlife as the governor signed in to existence 7 new nature reserves yesterday (28th July 2014) which included 3 main green turtle nesting sites. The new sites means a fifth of the Island is now protected as nature reserves.

The new sites which were signed of by Island’s Governor Mark Capes will also secure the future of nesting sites for over 800,000 sea birds. The sites were part of a biodiversity action plan that was developed by the Ascension Island Government and the University of Exeter. The new action plan followed on from over 2 years of research on the island.

Supportive moms and sisters boost female baboon's rank

July 30, 2014

Duke University

A study of dominance in female baboons suggests that the route to a higher rank is to maintain close ties with mom, and to have lots of supportive sisters.

Thai Airways bans shark fin from cargo flights

30th July 2014

Thai Airways has banned shark fin from its cargo flights as part of a growing global campaign against the popular delicacy in Asia.

The carrier joins a host of other airlines in taking a stand against shark fin, highly prized by many in the region, especially in Hong Kong and China where it is commonly served as a soup at wedding banquets and corporate parties.

"As part of the world community sharing in the great concern for the protection of endangered species and the environment, Thai Airways International has implemented its own official policy to place an embargo on the shipping of shark fin products," the airline said in a statement Tuesday.

Conservationists say booming demand for fins has put pressure on the world's shark populations, prompting calls for measures to restrict their trade.

Thai Airways officially stopped flying shark fin from 15 July but has avoided shipping fins for over a year, according to the statement.

Greek landfill site puts sea turtles at risk

Greece’s decision to keep operating a landfill within Zakynthos National Marine Park, has been condemned by the European Union’s Court of Justice and has left the survival of sea turtle nesting sites vulnerable.

The landfill site is close to the Sekania beach on Laganas, which is home to one of the most important nesting beach of the loggerhead sea turtle in the Mediterranean.

By keeping the dump active, despite it not having the necessary permits and environmental conditions, the Greek authorities have openly defied European environmental legislation. 

It is in particular disregard of European regulations that apply to “Natura 2000” sites (EU protected areas), which, thanks to its population of endangered sea turtles the site has been part of since 2006. 

Deep-sea octopus broods eggs for over four years -- longer than any known animal

July 30, 2014

University of Rhode Island

Researchers have observed a deep-sea octopus brooding its eggs for four-and-a-half years—longer than any other known animal. Throughout this time, the female kept the eggs clean and guarded them from predators.

Full extent of tiger farming revealed

A report on tiger ‘farming’ across Asia has revealed more than 5,000 tigers in China are living in unnatural, cramped conditions, in rows of cages.

These sites range in size from a handful of tigers to two establishments that have more than 1,000 tigers in each, and are often open to the public, with tigers displayed in entertainment shows.

Despite a 1975 ban on international tiger trade, seizures of tigers and tiger products across the Asian region prove there is a growing market for the products. These farms are therefore a ready source of such products.

Therefore conservationists are concerned captive-bred tigers are not only feeding demand for tiger products across Asia but are also stimulating it, placing an additional and unsustainable pressure on their wild counterparts.

Future of Italy's Tuscan palios in doubt after horses put down following race

Animal rights activists scream abuse and spectators watch in stunned silence as the injured animals are carted off to be destroyed during the race in Pistoia

Monday 28 July 2014

The future of the medieval horse race in the Tuscan city of Pistoia was in doubt after two horses were put down after breaking their legs during the race.

Animal rights activists screamed abuse and spectators watched in stunned silence as the injured animals were carted off to be destroyed soon after the start of their heats in the 2014 Giostra dell’Orso (Golden Carousel) race in Pistoia, north-west of Florence, on Friday evening.

The deaths of two animals have reignited the seasonal controversy over the palio, of which the most famous takes place in Siena. Friday’s race in Pistoia was allowed to take place in the confines of the town’s medieval central piazza, even though heavy rain had made conditions more treacherous than usual.

The accidents came in the penultimate and final rounds when the horses, Oracle Force and Golden Storming, set off at breakneck speed around the square as their riders attempted to throw spears at a target.

After the second accident in a matter of minutes, Golden Storming limped off the course, its right hind leg twisted sickeningly out of shape, to shouts of “shame” and “bastards”, from protesters. Vets quickly destroyed both animals. The riders suffered only minor injuries.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Australian Citizens Are Helping To Save Koalas

July 29, 2014

Australian citizens are pitching in to help save the koala, one of our most iconic and vulnerable species, environmental scientists say.

By linking the public’s sightings of koalas with changes in the landscape and climate, scientists from the National Environmental Research Program’s Environmental Decisions Hub (NERP EDH) have quantified how many threats affect koala populations in New South Wales (NSW) and have identified the impact of these threats across the state.

“Using data collected through citizen science projects, we found that koalas in the west of NSW are substantially more at risk of decline compared with those in the east of the state,” says Dr Jonathan Rhodes of NERP EDH and The University of Queensland. “The major threats to koalas are the loss of forest combined with drought and higher temperatures. In the east, the major threats are associated with forest loss and urban development.

“In Eden, NSW, for example, climate, fire and human population growth have combined to cause the local koala population to decline significantly over the past 35 years.”

Currently, koalas are distributed widely across eastern Australia, Dr Dan Lunney of the Office of Environment and Heritage NSW explains. While this reduces the chance of the species as a whole going extinct, it also means that the animals are spread across a wide range of different lands, climate zones and vegetation types.

“So they’re exposed to different threats in different places, and this makes it incredibly difficult to plan for their recovery because we can’t apply a ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy. The challenge, then, is to identify the key threats that are driving the decline in a particular area,” Dr Lunney says.

National Jellyfish Survey gives a tally of UK sightings for the first time in 40 years

A new report by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and the University of Exeter details over 5000 reports of jellyfish sightings of eight different species sent to MCS by beach-goers between 2003 and 2011.

The National Jellyfish Survey is the largest of its kind in the UK and has been attracting a growing number of jellyfish sightings, with 2013 proving a record year when 1,133 reports were received.

This is also turning out to be a good year, with over 500 reports received by mid-July.

“Our survey puts jellyfish on the map in the UK,” said Dr Peter Richardson, Biodiversity Programme Manager for the MCS. “In this latest paper we show where and when these species now occur throughout UK coastal waters.

“The last time the national picture was described was well over four decades ago, so this study provides a very timely update.”

Prof Brendan Godley of the University of Exeter said, “By taking stock of our jellyfish in this way, we provide an important baseline of information which will help us understand how jellyfish species react to environmental changes that influence our coastal seas, including climate change.”

The main species found in British waters are the moon, compass, lion’s mane, blue and barrel jellyfishes.

'Killer sperm' prevents mating between worm species

July 29, 2014

University of Maryland

Most cross-species mating is merely unsuccessful in producing offspring. However, when researchers mated Caenorhabditis worms of different species, they found that the lifespan of the female worms and their number of progeny were drastically reduced compared with females that mated with the same species. In addition, females that survived cross-species mating were often sterile, even if they subsequently mated with their own species.

Pangolins are being eaten into extinction

The heavy-duty scales of the pangolin are unfortunately no defence against human hunters

The enigmatic pangolin, or scaly anteater, is literally being eaten out of existence, report the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

According to the latest update of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, all eight species are now threatened with extinction.

Resembling an artichoke with legs and a tail, the pangolin is the world’s only truly scaly mammal.

However, their scales act as armour against natural predators but offer no defence against poachers.

The IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Pangolin Specialist Group, which is hosted by ZSL, warns that pangolins are now the most illegally traded mammal in the world, with more than one million individuals believed to have been taken from the wild in the past decade. 

Frog Population Decline Linked to Killer Pathogen

Jacqueline Conciatore, National Science Foundation | July 28, 2014 02:06pm ET

A virus lethal to wood frog tadpoles may be partly responsible for the alarming and widespread extinction of amphibians seen in recent decades.

The study from the NSF-funded National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) showed that ranavirus, a killer pathogen that causes frogs' internal organs to bleed profusely, could lead to the extinction of isolated populations of wood frogs. "We looked at isolated populations because we wanted to know if it was at all possible that ranavirus could cause extinctions, and isolated populations were the most likely," said lead researcher and NIMBioS postdoctoral fellow Julia Earl.

Would you dare stick pins into a lion? Vet performs acupuncture on animal's sore foot (after a VERY large dose of anaesthetic)

  • Lucifer the lion had treatment to ease pain of earlier tumour removal
  • The 11-year-old was given an anaesthetic before needles inserted in foot
  • He is the first animal to receive acupuncture at Paignton Zoo in Devon
  • Zoo staff say the lion will make a swift recovery following the treatment

You need the courage of a lion to stick needles into a big cat like Lucifer – or an extremely effective anaesthetic.

Happily for vet Nicki Grint the dose given to the 30st animal worked perfectly while she used acupuncture on a sore foot where a tumour was removed.

She has used the method on dogs before but not cats. 

And 11-year-old Lucifer is the first animal to have acupuncture at Paignton Zoo in Devon where he lives.

The needles stay in for 15 minutes and are being used with conventional therapy to relieve pain and improve blood flow to the wound to help it heal.

Invertebrate numbers nearly halve as human population doubles

July 24, 2014

University College London

Invertebrate numbers have decreased by 45 percent on average over a 35 year period in which the human population doubled, reports a study on the impact of humans on declining animal numbers. This decline matters because of the enormous benefits invertebrates such as insects, spiders, crustaceans, slugs and worms bring to our day-to-day lives, including pollination and pest control for crops, decomposition for nutrient cycling, water filtration and human health.

Bengal tiger discovered locked up in abandoned house in Mexico

Police officers searching a property in Guerrero, Mexico, found the endangered big cat locked in a cage.

By Mark Molloy

1:59PM BST 24 Jul 2014

Mexican authorities searching an abandoned house were left stunned when they discovered a Bengal tiger locked in a cage.

Police officers, who found the endangered animal after a tip-off from a member of the public, say it is a “complete mystery” how the tiger got there.

They were searching a property in the municipality of Chilapa de Alvarez, in the state of Guerrero, when they heard a strange noise.

The female tiger was found inside a locked room and police suspect it was illegally owned.

Police spokesman Leonidas Bueno Escamilla said the big cat was in a “good condition”.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

New Jersey snake hunt ends after officials find no evidence

Unconfirmed sightings this month of a snake, perhaps an anaconda as long as 16ft, raised concerns among visitors and swimmers

Associated Press in Jefferson, New Jersey, Thursday 24 July 2014 19.08 BST

A 16ft exotic snake reportedly slithering around New Jersey's largest lake is apparently a suburban legend. Or the snake just isn't hungry.

The state has stopped looking for the reptile after scientists failed to find any evidence of it in Lake Hopatcong and traps baited with chicken were left untouched.

Three unconfirmed sightings this month of a snake, perhaps an anaconda as long as 16 feet, raised concerns among visitors and swimmers. The state investigated, erring on the side of public safety.

State wildlife experts found no scientific or biological evidence that an exotic snake is in the area, state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Ragonese said. "There were no signs of droppings or skin," he said.

Summer heatwave may encourage 'tourism' of rare butterflies and bees to the UK, experts say

The sighting of a yellow-legged tortoiseshell butterfly, last seen in the UK in 1953, has confirmed that we are set for an extraordinary summer


Friday 25 July 2014

The hot weather may have prompted reports of bug infestations, but this summer could also be a great opportunity to spot beautiful rare butterflies and bees not seen in the UK for decades.

Britain looks set to play host to a swarm of insects that are extremely rare – and in some cases new to the country – as the warm weather across Europe sparks a “mass insect migration”, experts said.

The recent sighting of a yellow-legged tortoiseshell butterfly, which has only been seen once before in the UK in 1953, has confirmed suspicions among entomologists that we are set for an extraordinary summer.

“Looking at the weather map, the potential for mass insect movement all over Europe is very real – for butterflies, moths, dragonflies, hoverflies and ladybirds,” said Matthew Oates, a wildlife specialist at the National Trust.

Dinosaurs fell victim to perfect storm of events, study shows

July 28, 2014

University of Edinburgh

Dinosaurs might have survived the asteroid strike that wiped them out if it had taken place slightly earlier or later in history, scientists say. They found that in the few million years before a 10km-wide asteroid struck what is now Mexico, Earth was experiencing environmental upheaval. This included extensive volcanic activity, changing sea levels and varying temperatures. At this time, the dinosaurs' food chain was weakened by a lack of diversity among the large plant-eating dinosaurs on which others preyed.

Mysterious big cat spotted near Lugwardine last night

Updated 10:13am Monday 28th July 2014 inNews

A HEREFORD woman did not expect to come across a rather mysterious big cat on her way to work last night.

Debbie Smithers was travelling from her Whitecross home to St Michael’s Hospice at around 8.55pm on Sunday evening when she came across what she describes as a “large, dark cat” on Lumber Lane, nearLugwardine.

“It was about three feet high, stood on the opposite carriageway of the road, facing Hereford,” said Mrs Smithers, a nurse at the hospice.

“Within seconds its tail went up and it sort of gracefully jumped across into the verge and into the hedge.”

Mrs Smithers said she has only seen similar animals in a Safari Park or Zoo.

“I just thought ‘what on earth is that?’ I was just amazed really, more than anything. I was quite taken with the elegance of how its tail went up and it jumped into the verge,” she added.
Have you seen any big cats in the area?

If so, email or call 01432 845884.

Japanese monkeys' abnormal blood linked to Fukushima disaster – study

Primates in Fukushima region found to have low white and red blood cell levels and radioactive caesium, Thursday 24 July 2014 16.34 BST

Wild monkeys in the Fukushima region of Japan have blood abnormalities linked to the radioactive fall-out from the 2011 nuclear power plant disaster, according to a new scientific study that may help increase the understanding of radiation on human health.

The Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) were found to have low white and red blood cell levels and low haemoglobin, which the researchers say could make them more prone to infectious diseases.

But critics of the study say the link between the abnormal blood tests and the radiation exposure of the monkeys remains unproven and that the radiation doses may have been too small to cause the effect.

The scientists compared 61 monkeys living 70km (44 miles) from the the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant with 31 monkeys from the Shimokita Penisula, over 400km (249 miles) from Fukushima. The Fukushima monkeys had low blood counts and radioactive caesium in their bodies, related to caesium levels in the soils where they lived. No caesium was detected in the Shimokita troop.

Leaf-mining Insects Completely Disappeared With The Dinosaurs

July 28, 2014

By A’ndrea Eluse Messer, Penn State

After the asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous period that triggered the dinosaurs’ extinction and ushered in the Paleocene, leaf-mining insects in the western United States completely disappeared. Only a million years later, at Mexican Hat, in southeastern Montana, fossil leaves show diverse leaf-mining traces from new insects that were not present during the Cretaceous, according to paleontologists.

“Our results indicate both that leaf-mining diversity at Mexican Hat is even higher than previously recognized, and equally importantly, that none of the Mexican Hat mines can be linked back to the local Cretaceous mining fauna,” said Michael Donovan, graduate student in geosciences, Penn State.

Insects that eat leaves produce very specific types of damage. One type is from leaf miners — insect larvae that live in the leaves and tunnel for food, leaving distinctive feeding paths and patterns of droppings.

Donovan, Peter Wilf, professor of geosciences, Penn State, and colleagues looked at 1,073 leaf fossils from Mexican Hat for mines. They compared these with more than 9,000 leaves from the end of the Cretaceous, 65 million years ago, from the Hell Creek Formation in southwestern North Dakota, and with more than 9,000 Paleocene leaves from the Fort Union Formation in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. The researchers present their results in PLOS ONE.

Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger, dying out - a majestic animal on its knees

Sunday 27 July 2014

Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger, dying out - a majestic animal on its knees

To mark International Tiger Day, The Independent and the World Wildlife Fund are working together to highlight the dangers these iconic animals face

Smoke rose in the distance, above a homestead deep in the Siberian forest. The nearest neighbours lived miles away, so isolated is this barely populated spot five hours by car from Vladivostok. By the time they got close, the blaze had caught hold. The house was burning.

The property belongs to Vladimir Aramilev, whose work protects some of the world’s last surviving tigers. The cause of the fire was animal poachers who had doused it in petrol and lit it with a match. The objective: to force him out, so they can keep on killing.

Black scorch marks can still be seen today along the outside of the window frames. Inside, where the fire raged, the damage was near total. Wooden facings on the house’s walls and ceiling were burnt to ash while belongings simply melted in the heat. “I was shocked,” Mr Aramilev admits of the attack on his property. “Definitely I’m scared. I have a four-year-old daughter. My work is to protect animals. But now I know the risk to me is part of that job, too.”

Tigers once covered a vast stretch of Asia. They could be found in the tip of India, all the way across to Bali and even into eastern Turkey. Now they survive in a few pockets, primarily in India, South-east Asia, and here in Russia’s eastern Primorsky region. Worldwide numbers are estimated at little more than 3,000. In every one of these locations, they are under mortal threat.

Koala found clinging to car’s grille after 88km drive in Queensland

Furry stowaway nicknamed Timberwolf discovered with only minor injuries when driver stopped at a service station

Oliver Milman, Monday 28 July 2014 10.06 BST

A koala named Timberwolf has suffered only minor injuries after he was found clinging to the bottom of a car that travelled 88km before the furry stowaway was discovered. 

The four-year-old marsupial was discovered clinging to the grille of the vehicle by its occupants when they stopped at a service station in Gympie, Queensland, on Friday.

The family in the car did not know they had a koala passenger for the 88km journey from Maryborough.

Staff at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital treated the koala, naming him Timberwolf after their football team.

Luckily, Timberwolf suffered only minor injuries from his joy ride, with a torn nail being the worst of his woes. However, staff discovered the koala also has chlamydia, which will require antibiotic treatment.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Perils of the English countryside

27 July 2014 Last updated at 04:15

By David McKenna
BBC News

Most people would be wary of crossing a large snorting bull in a field but, every year, scores of people are injured or even killed by other animals in the English countryside.

Many are creatures that may not instantly spring to mind - and have caused injury or terrified people who were otherwise enjoying a rural idyll.

But which animals are dangerous and why do they attack?

Frogs with vivid colour markings to ward off predators can also appear invisible - via Herp Digest

June 23rd, 2014 ( —Frogs that rely on their vivid colour markings to ward off predators can also appear invisible, Deakin University scientists have discovered.
Researchers from Deakin University's Centre for Integrated Ecology found the anomaly among a species of frog in which some individuals use their rainbow hues to warn they are poisonous or toxic while others rely on their colourings to make them difficult to detect.
Centre for Integrated Ecology evolutionary biologist Professor John Endler and his Ph.D. student and co-author studied poison dart frogs in the wild and identified the reason behind the paradoxical observation that the amphibian's colourful markings varied between each animal.
Studying the vibrant blue and yellow poison dart frogs (Dendrobates tinctorius) in their natural habitat in French Guiana, Deakin researcher Bibiana Rojas found that one group of frogs exhibited bold or elongated patterns, the other demonstrated mottled and more variable markings.
The paradox was that the more variable the frog's markings, the less likely were predators to learn to recognise the danger. But if different colour patterns accompanied different behaviour, then pattern variation can be an advantage instead of a disadvantage.
"We found that some frogs move frequently in the same direction while others moved randomly, and that this movement behaviour variation corresponded to the colour patterns," Professor Endler said.
"The frogs with elongated patterns moved continuously in the same direction to create an illusion of static pattern, or a pattern travelling at a slower speed, to thwart predators attempting to track their trajectory.
"But frogs which moved randomly and changed directions frequently, rely on interrupted colour patterns that appear visually disruptive and hard to see at a distance, giving them an advantage in predator detection rather than tracking.
"These findings are quite exciting as we believe they might have application in the human world for defence camouflage," Professor Endler said.
"Alternatively, taxis, police cars, and ambulances could be painted with horizontal stripes to make them more easily seen when they are going past."
Professor Endler has been studying aposematic animals for many years - species that use colour in the wild to either attract a mate or ward off predation.
In Australia, Blue-ringed octopus and redback spiders, and the introduced Monarch Butterfly are among a variety of animal species instantly recognised for their chromatic colours that warn of their danger to would-be predators.
Black, red, yellow and white are among the bold colour schemes employed in nature to warn of danger.
The researcher's report, "Paradox lost: variable colour-pattern geometry is associated with differences in movement of aposematic frogs", has been published in the latest copy of the prestigious Royal Society Journal Biology Letters.
More information: Bibiana Rojas, Jennifer Devillechabrolle, and John A. Endler. "Paradox lost: variable colour-pattern geometry is associated with differences in movement in aposematic frogs." Biol. Lett.. 2014 10 6 20140193; DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0193 (published 18 June 2014) 1744-957X

Provided by Deakin University

Green turtle links Costa Rica's Cocos Island with Ecuador's Galapagos - via Herp Digest

Lindsay Fendt, 6/23/14, Tico Times
One normal migration for turtles, one giant discovery for humankind.
With his 14-day journey from the waters of Costa Rica’s Cocos Island National Park to the Galapagos Marine Reserve in Ecuador, “Sanjay,” an endangered green sea turtle, established the first direct migration link between the two protected areas.
Sanjay was one of three green sea turtles tagged by scientists from the marine conservation groups Turtle Island Restoration Network and PRETOMA during a 10-day research expedition. Using a $4,000 satellite tag, biologists from the organizations were able to map Sanjay’s exact migration.
“It’s truly remarkable. Sanjay knew where he was headed, and made a beeline from one marine protected area to the next,” said Alex Hearn, conservation science director for Turtle Island Restoration Network. “These protected areas of ocean are hot spots for endangered green sea turtles, but we also need to think about their migratory corridors between protected areas.”
Though the two organizations have tagged hundreds of sea turtles over the years, Sanjay is the first to show movement between the two protected areas. Sanjay’s migration is the latest piece of evidence linking the green turtles of the Galapagos and Cocos Island, a link that biologists have long suspected due to the populations’ genetic similarities.
The project’s researchers hope that the new evidence will help encourage the development of conservation programs between protected areas.
“These species are protected while they are in the reserves, but as soon as they swim beyond the no-fishing zone, they are being hammered by industrial fishing vessels that set millions of hooks in the region,” said Todd Steiner, executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network. “Our goal is to collect the necessary scientific data to understand the migratory routes and advocate for ‘protected swimways’ to protect these endangered species though out their migration.”

Do butterfly wing patterns really mimic predator eyes?

23 July 2014 Last updated at 05:32

By Ella Davies
Science writer

A bumper crop of spikey black caterpillars have appeared on the nation's nettles this summer.

Clad in velvet coats peppered with white dots, the creatures have been sunning themselves and munching through the weeds in remarkable numbers prompting a flurry of enquiries and reports to the charity Butterfly Conservation.

They might not be so familiar in this form but the insects will grow up to be arguably Britain's most colourful and recognisable butterfly - the peacock.

As they prepare for their annual Big Butterfly Count, experts at the charity are predicting a bonanza of the butterflies.

Last year, the species surged to third position in the survey which asks the public to record how many butterflies they see in 15 minutes of sunny weather.

Following on from this success, peacocks emerged in good numbers after their winter hibernation according to Butterfly Conservation's Surveys Manager Richard Fox. The warm, dry weather since the spring has provided ideal conditions for breeding, egg-laying and the development of caterpillars.

Humans share fairness concerns with other species

July 24, 2014

American Psychological Association (APA)

Humans aren’t the only species to react strongly to actions they consider unfair. A similar drive for fairness in monkeys and some dogs may offer insight into people’s desire for equity, according to experts.

Honey bees sting Texas man about 1,000 times

Jul 24, 2014

(AP)—A North Texas street department worker has been stung about 1,000 times by aggressive bees that also attacked two co-workers who tried to help him.

Wichita Falls officials blamed Thursday's attack on Africanized honey bees.

Spokesman Barry Levy (LEE'-vee) says a swarm attacked a worker mowing grass along culverts near the Weeks Park Tennis Center. He says the man was in good condition at a local hospital.

Levy says two co-workers also were stung when they came to the man's aid. One worker fled into a nearby tennis center, bringing the swarm with him.

One of the co-workers also was hospitalized in good condition, the other was treated and discharged.

The center, a nearby trail and part of a golf course remain closed until personnel confirm the bees are gone.

Why Are Whales Not Recovering? (Op-Ed)

By Luke Rendell, University of St Andrews | July 26, 2014 04:00am ET

This article was originally published at The Conversation.The publication contributed the article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

When commercial whaling was banned in 1986 it put an end to a harvest that threatened the existence of some of the most majestic animals on Earth. With several species reduced to tiny fractions of their original populations, once the moratorium was introduced the expectation was that whale populations would recover. But in the decades since, only some have.

There are many possible reasons why this might be, including chemical pollution, climate change, man-made noise, and loss of cultural knowledge among whales that prevent their descendants returning to habitats in their former range. A further risk, highlighted by a new study of blue whales off the coast of California, is deaths and injury caused by being struck by ships. In most populations, we don’t yet know how big a problem it is, but for some it is almost certainly holding back recovery.

Wandering Turtles Clog Runways at Kennedy Airport - via Herp Digest

JFK, situated in the middle of Jamaica Bay, has been a favorite habitat for diamondback terrapin turtles
By Marc Santia, NBC News, 6/20/14  
Wildlife biologists working to keep turtles from wandering onto the runways of Kennedy Airport are beginning to see their efforts pay off.
JFK Airport, situated in the middle of Jamaica Bay, has been a favorite habitat for diamondback terrapin turtles, which only leave the brackish waters and step on shore to lay eggs.
But airplane and turtles sharing the same runway could pose a threat. 
"Anything can be a hazard to aircraft, so we monitor all kinds of wildlife population here," said Laura Francoeur, one of Port Authority's wildlife biologists helping to keep the balance between passenger safety and nature preservation. 
"Keeping terrapins off also saves the terrapins so they don't get run over potentially, and it also helps eliminate any operational impacts delaying flights at the airport," said Francoeur. 
June is the main nesting season for turtles, making it the busiest time of the year for biologists working on the terrapin tracking project. 
Two years ago at this time, more than 800 turtles were captured and released into the wild. Last year, the number was 400. 
This year, there have only been 80 turtles stopped near the runways of JFK, thanks to new efforts like a black corrugated plastic fence acting as a turtle barrier. 
Francoeur says the fence allows the terrapins to actually nest outside the barrier so there's still a habitat available for them to nest in. 

But every once in a while, a bold turtle comes out of its shell and makes it past the fence. Port Authority biologists are constantly patrolling the airport and will scoop up the reptile before they reach the runway. The turtles are then tagged, released and tracked. 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Giant anteaters kill two hunters in Brazil

26th July 2014
9 hours ago by Kerry Sheridan

Giant anteaters in Brazil have killed two hunters in separate incidents, raising concerns about the animals' loss of habitat and the growing risk of dangerous encounters with people, researchers said.

The long-nosed, hairy mammals are not typically aggressive toward people and are considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), largely due to deforestation and human settlements that encroach on their territory.

However, they have poor vision and if frightened, they may defend themselves with front claws that are as long as pocketknives.

The case studies of two fatal attacks by giant anteaters were described in the journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, which released the paper online this month, ahead of its publication in the December print issue.

Bears Face Being Shot For Grave Robbery

Terrified mourners were chased out of a cemetery in Russia after local bears discovered the graveyard was filled with sweets and other food left as tributes for the dearly departed by Orthodox Christian believers.

Members of the Orthodox Russian church believe that leaving an offering of food can help ease their loved ones journey to the afterlife but the bears have also discovered that it eases their job of looking for something to eat.

As a result the bears have been heading to the local cemetery and chasing off the mourners so that they can eat their fill in peace.

Local resident Alexander Koltsov, 48, said: "I was always told if you see a bear you should raise your hands in the air to make yourself seem bigger and hope it leaves you alone. When I saw this bear though I just ran for it, and luckily it didn't seem interested in chasing me further as it began munching honey cakes."

The parish priest, Spiridon Bezrukov, at the cemetery in Apatity, a town in Murmansk Oblast in north-west Russia, said: "I have not even been able to stage funeral services recently because of the bears. Although most of the food seems to have been eaten, there is a mother bear there with two cubs that seems to have taken up residence and won't leave."

Russia Loses Contact With Satellite Containing Gecko Experiment

July 26, 2014

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redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

Russian space officials said that they have lost contact with a satellite containing geckos participating in an experiment to see what impact microgravity will have on their biology and their sexual behaviors.

According to Jonathan O’Callaghan of the Daily Mail, a total of five lizards (four males and one female) were sent into space on a Photon-M satellite on July 19. Now, less than a week later, ground control has confirmed that the probe is no longer responding to commands, jeopardizing the mission.

“The two-month mission was planned to monitor by video how well the geckos sexually reproduce in space before returning them safely to Earth,” O’Callaghan said. “Following the launch, the satellite was failing to respond to commands to start its engine and move to a higher orbit… [but] the rest of its systems are operating nominally.”

“The equipment which is working in automatic mode, and in particular the experiment with the geckos is working according to the program,” added Oleg Voloshin, a spokesperson with the Russia’s Institute of Medico-Biological Problems, which is in charge of the experiment.

Nearly 50 years of lemur, other primates data now available online

July 24, 2014

National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)

A 48-year archive of life history data for the world's largest and most diverse collection of endangered primates is now digital and available online. The database allows visitors to view and download data for more than 3600 animals representing 27 species of lemurs, lorises and galagos -- distant primate cousins who predate monkeys and apes -- with more data to be uploaded in the future.

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