Sunday, 31 August 2014

Florida man caught killing, and eating, threatened tortoises

28th August 2014

By Daniel Wallis

MIAMI (Reuters) - Wildlife authorities in Florida caught a man who killed and ate 15 gopher tortoises and planned to slaughter 11 more of the threatened reptiles, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said a tip-off led an officer to woods in Citrus County on Florida's west coast where he found tire tracks and shells dumped on the ground. Returning the next day, he found a container holding 11 live gopher tortoises.

"He hid himself and waited, figuring the subject would return that afternoon," the FWC said in a statement, adding that when the man came back he admitted to feasting on the threatened species.

Can a Severed Snake Head Still Kill? It's Possible

By Elizabeth Palermo, Staff Writer | August 30, 2014 07:00am ET

Venomous snakes are scary when they're alive, but there's also reason to fear these fanged creatures after they're dead, a recent news report suggests.

The tale of a chef in China who was preparing a rare delicacy known ascobra soup and was fatally bitten by the decapitated head of one of the snakes he had chopped up for this unusual stew was reported last week, in the U.K. Daily Mirror.

While this story might sound too weird to be true, scientific evidence suggests it is entirely plausible.

New DNA Study Reveals Lost History Of The Paleo-Eskimo People

Chuck Bednar for – Your Universe Online

The Paleo-Eskimo people that lived in the Arctic from roughly 5,000 years ago to about 700 years ago, were the first humans to live in the region and survived there without outside contact for more than 4,000 years, researchers reported Friday in the journal Science.

In addition, lead investigator Eske Willerslev of the Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark and her colleagues report that the Paleo-Eskimos represented a distinct wave of migration that was separate from both the Native Americans (who crossed the Bering Strait far earlier than the Paleo-Eskimos) and the Inuit (which traveled from Siberia to the Arctic several thousand years later).

“The North American Arctic was one of the last major regions to be settled by modern humans,” the museum explained in a recent statement. “This happened when people crossed the Bering Strait from Siberia and wandered into a new world. While the area has long been well researched by archaeologists, little is known of its genetic prehistory.”

According to BBC News, much of our understanding of this culture’s history was based on artifacts acquired by archaeologists. In order to discover a more complete picture of the Paleo-Eskimos, however, Willerslev and more than 50 experts from institutions all over the world conducted a new genetic analysis and discovered that they and modern-day Native Americans arrived in separate migrations.

14 detained trying to prevent Faroe Island dolphin hunt

31st August 2014

Fourteen animal rights activists have been detained on the Faroe island of Sandoy in the North Atlantic while trying to stop a controversial dolphin hunt, their organisation said Sunday.

The activists were detained Saturday when attempting to save a pod of 33 pilot whales, members of the dolphin family, as the mammals were driven to shore to be killed by waiting hunting parties, according to environmental group Sea Shepherd.

"The 14 have been under arrest since Saturday, and three of our boats have also been seized," Lamya Essemlali, president of Sea Shepherd France, told AFP.

Large numbers of pilot whales are slaughtered each year on the Faroe Islands, an autonomous territory within the kingdom of Denmark.

Asian countries commit to tackling wildlife crime at second annual meeting

Posted by: Shubhobroto Ghosh / posted on August 30th, 2014

The three-day Second Annual Meeting of the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) culminated today in Kathmandu, Nepal, where the eight South Asian countries finalized and endorsed the SAWEN Statute and updated their collaborative roadmap for fighting wildlife crime in South Asia.

“Strengthening transboundary cooperation and collaboration for intra-country law enforcement initiatives through intelligence sharing on poaching and trade trends, along with exchanging knowledge and skill for fighting wildlife crime across South Asia” was the unequivocal concern of the representatives of the South Asian countries at this meeting that was held from 26-29 August 2014.

This push from the SAWEN member countries places the region firmly in the spotlight of a growing international commitment to dealing with increasingly organised illegal wildlife trade networks as part of a broader strategic approach to combat trans-national organised crime.

The meeting was particularly successful in adopting the SAWEN Statute and beginning an intense process for developing an action plan for the next six years. The Statute clearly details the vision, goal, objectives and the crucial role that SAWEN will play in combating wildlife crime in the region. The Statute, endorsed by member country delegates to the meeting, will now await the final endorsement from the Governments of the eight South Asian countries.

Hundreds of giant African snails seized in US

US captures 1,200 of molluscs, considered a delicacy by some, as they can affect eco-systems and spread diseases to humans, Friday 29 August 2014 14.49 BST

The giant African snail damages buildings, destroys crops and can cause meningitis in humans. But some people still want to collect – and even eat – the slimy invaders.

The US agriculture department (USDA) is trying to stop them and since June has seized more than 1,200 live specimens of the large snails, also known as giant African land snails. All were traced back to one person in Georgia, who was selling them illegally.

The USDA discovered the snails through a tip from social media at the end of June. It seized more than 200 snails in Long Island, New York, from a person who identified the seller in Georgia.

The department interviewed the trader and seized almost 1,000 more snails, plus one each in Indiana, Pennsylvania and New York. Agriculture officials said the investigation was ongoing and they would not identify any of the individuals.

Red squirrels being killed by form of leprosy in Scotland in latest threat to declining species

Friday 29 August 2014

Red squirrels in Scotland are being killed by a form of leprosy that makes them lose their fur and die after causing painful swelling to their noses, ears and feet.

The new infection is the latest threat to the rare animals that have been in decline for years due to competition from invasive grey squirrels and the deadly “squirrelpox” virus.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have discovered six cases caused by bacteria similar to Mycobacterium lepromatosis, which causes leprosy, since 2006.

Little is known about how the disease spreads and it has never before been seen in red squirrels.

Professor Anna Meredith, from Edinburgh’s Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies, urged members of the public to report sightings of infected animals.

“We suspect this disease is more widespread than the six cases we have confirmed,” she told the BBC.

Badger cull legal challenge in Somerset and Gloucestershire fails

29 August 2014 Last updated at 11:29

A High Court bid to halt this year's badger culling, which will take place without independent monitoring, has failed.

The Badger Trust argued the "controlled shooting" in Gloucestershire and Somerset should only take place with independent observers overseeing it.

Defra lawyers said the monitoring was only intended to run in the first year.

Dominic Dyer, of The Badger Trust, said the group was "considering its options" following the ruling.

Mr Dyer called on Environment Secretary Liz Truss to halt the culls or reinstate monitoring.

He added the High Court ruling "does not detract from the serious public concerns over the continuation of the cull".

Saturday, 30 August 2014

NOAA's Marine Debris Program reports on national issue of derelict fishing traps

August 27, 2014

NOAA Headquarters

Thousands of fishing traps are lost or abandoned each year in U.S. waters and become what are known as derelict traps, which continue to catch fish, crabs, and other species such as turtles. These traps result in losses to habitat, fisheries, and the watermen who depend on the resources -- losses that are largely preventable, according to a newly published NOAA study.

The report, published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, is the first of its kind to examine the derelict fish trap problem, and so-called "ghost fishing," nationally, and recommends actions to better manage and prevent it.

Specialization: Choosy wasps survive better, study shows

August 27, 2014

Université de Fribourg

Specialized parasitic wasps, such as those using only a few host species, have a greater chance of establishing stable populations than generalist species, a new study shows. These results help with understanding the appearance of specialists in the history of animal evolution and could improve the effectiveness of biological control programs against insect pests.

Photos of 'Yeti Footprints' Hit the Auction Block - via Mark Raines

Ardent believers in the existence of a mythical creature known as the Yeti may be excited to learn that rare photographic "evidence" of this mysterious beast is now up for auction.

Yeti footprint photos for sale.In 1951, British mountaineer Eric Earle Shipton was leading an expedition on Mount Everest when he took a series of photographs of what he believed might be the footprints of a bipedal, apelike creature known as the Yeti. The photos sparked debate in Europe about the existence of the mythical Himalayan creature, according to Christie's, the auction house handling the online sale.

Four of Shipton's 12-inch by 13-inch (30 by 33 centimeters) photographs will be sold to the highest bidder in a two-week-long online auction that began on Aug. 27. Two of the photos feature thealleged Yeti footprints alongside human footprints for the sake of comparison. The other two photos give the viewer a better sense of the scale of these enigmatic prints — showing the Yeti footprint next to an ice ax and a booted foot, respectively.

No Picnic Safe: Smart Bears Use Tools

by Becky Oskin, Live Science Senior Writer | August 28, 2014 01:58pm ET

Despite their reputation as wily "pic-a-nic basket" nappers, it's brute force — not cleverness — that gets bears into coolers and trash bins.

But a new study may upend some assumptions about bear smarts.

In the just-completed study, bear experts at Washington State University in Pullman dangled doughnuts from a string, out of reach of grizzly bears. Six out of eight bears pushed stumps or plastic boxes across their play yard and placed these objects under the tasty treats, then boosted themselves up and pawed their prize.

Evolution used similar molecular toolkits to shape flies, worms, and humans

August 27, 2014

Yale University

Although separated by hundreds of millions of years of evolution, flies, worms, and humans share ancient patterns of gene expression, according to a massive analysis of genomic data. Two related studies tell a similar story: even though humans, worms, and flies bear little obvious similarity to each other, evolution used remarkably similar molecular toolkits to shape them.

200 elephant carcasses found in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem

Nearly 200 elephant carcasses have been counted in an aerial survey of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem.

A total of 192 elephant carcasses were counted, of which 117 were in Kenya and 75 in Tanzania. More shocking is that of all the carcasses found in Kenya, 84 per cent were outside of the Masai Mara National Reserve, and each had its tusks missing.

These statistics have alarmed conservations in Kenya and Tanzania, who are calling upon the two governments to strengthen their elephant management strategies, as well as deploy technology in the fight against poaching. Furthermore, the conservationists are calling for better management of elephants outside protected areas through strengthened community conservancies.

Tree Infesting Insects Love the City Heat (Op-Ed)

by, staff | August 29, 2014 12:00am ET

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

About a year ago, I found myself sitting ruefully in a patch of chiggery grass by the side of the road near the little town of Bahama, North Carolina, waiting for a tow truck. I had stuck the lab pickup firmly in a ditch. It was tilted at an embarrassing, sickening angle and had one wheel lodged against the mouth of a culvert. Helpful passers-by with chains and four-wheel drives kindly offered to pull me out, but really only made matters worse.

My memory is already fuzzy about the sequence of events, but somewhere in there—between slipping into the ditch, the failed rescue attempts, and the final arrival of the giant tow truck—I did actually hike into the woods and get what I came for: eight slender red maple branches, clipped from trees growing in NC State’s Hill Forest.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Three Things You Didn’t Know About the Arachnids That Live on Your Face

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

You are not alone. Your body is a collection of microbes, fungi, viruses…and even other animals. In fact, you aren’t even the only animal using your face. Right now, in the general vicinity of your nose, there are at least two species of microscopic mites living in your pores. You would expect scientists to know quite a lot about these animals (given that we share our faces with them), but we don’t.

Here is what we do know: Demodex mites are microscopic arachnids (relatives of spiders and ticks) that live in and on the skin of mammals – including humans. They have been found on every mammal species where we’ve looked for them, except the platypus and their odd egg-laying relatives.

Paleontologists describe a possible dinosaur nest and young 'babysitter'

August 27, 2014

University of Pennsylvania

A new examination of a rock slab containing fossils of 24 very young dinosaurs and one older individual is suggestive of a group of hatchlings overseen by a caretaker, according to a new study.

Continued ...

Investigation reveals a highly organised ivory trade across Asia and Africa

A new report uncovers the fact that Chinese ivory traffickers are present in virtually every African state, and operate at nearly every point along the supply chain. 

A car covered in carved ivory and yak 
bone was auctioned in 2010 in China
The report, called Out of Africa; Criminalisation of the African Ivory Trade, was commissioned by Born Free USA and C4ADS (a nonprofit organisation that is dedicated to data-driven analysis and evidence-based reporting of conflict and security issues worldwide), and focuses on the entire supply chain from source to end user.

It found that despite its global scale, the majority of the illegal ivory trade is dominated by a small number of networks, and that the majority of the ivory is shipped via just 100 large annual consignments that make up 70-80 per cent of the trade.

Seizures across multiple countries and commodities often appear to trace back to the same individuals and networks, and traffickers, particularly Chinese, straddle Africa and Asia and are linked to seizures in nearly every African range state and at nearly every stage along the supply chain.

New research reveals how wild rabbits were genetically transformed into tame rabbits

August 28, 2014

Uppsala University

The genetic changes that transformed wild animals into domesticated forms have long been a mystery. An international team of scientists has now made a breakthrough by showing that many genes controlling the development of the brain and the nervous system were particularly important for rabbit domestication. The study gives answers to many genetic questions.

How the zebrafish gets its stripes: Uncovering how beautiful color patterns can develop in animals

August 28, 2014


The zebrafish, a small fresh water fish, owes its name to a striking pattern of blue stripes alternating with golden stripes. Three major pigment cell types, black cells, reflective silvery cells, and yellow cells emerge during growth in the skin of the tiny juvenile fish and arrange as a multi-layered mosaic to compose the characteristic color pattern. While it was known that all three cell types have to interact to form proper stripes, the embryonic origin of the pigment cells that develop the stripes of the adult fish has remained a mystery up to now. Scientists have now discovered how these cells arise and behave to form the 'zebra' pattern

Continued ...

Real-life mutant ninja turtle: Reptile with TWO HEADS is found amongst huge shipment from China

Two-headed snapping turtle discovered at turtle farm in Amagon, Arkansas
Baby turtle is yet to be named, but the farm plans to find it a new home
Turtle, which arrived from China in shipment of 30,000 of the reptiles, is expected to be sold to a collector 

PUBLISHED: 15:51, 27 August 2014 | UPDATED: 18:03, 27 August 2014

They do say two heads are better than one, but workers at a turtle farm in the U.S. had never before seen anything like this.

A two-headed snapping turtle has been discovered at the Northeast Ark Turtle Farm, in Amagon, Arkansas, in a shipment of 30,000 of the reptiles shipped from China.

The baby turtle is yet to be named, but representatives at the farm have confirmed they will be looking for a new home for the young reptile. 

The baby turtle was discovered at the farm last week, according to The Jonesboro Sun.

A state biologist has said turtle mutations are rare, but are becoming more common. 

Workers at the farm have previously discovered a hatchling with one neck and two heads, but that died at birth.

Albino dolphin spotted in the Mediterranean could be one of just 20 in the world, say researchers

Marine researchers spotted the incredibly rare dolphin off the coast of Italy
The mammal, thought to be a male, is good health according to experts 
There are only believed to be 20 albino dolphins in the wild
Bottlenose dolphins are normally grey in colour unless there is a mutation 

PUBLISHED: 20:22, 27 August 2014 | UPDATED: 10:47, 29 August 2014

Marine researchers in Croatia have revealed how they have found a previously unrecorded albino dolphin, one of only 20 in the world.

The rare mammal - named Albus by the research team - was found in the Mediterranean swimming between Croatia and Italy. 

Experts say the dolphin - who they believe to be male - appears to be in good health.

Albus was first spotted in the sea at outskirts of the eastern Italian port city, Ravenna.

A spokeperson for Plavi Svijet, an Croatian environmental organisation, said: 'We have observed an extremely rare albino bottlenose dolphin.

'This appears to be the first albino dolphin spotted not only in the Adriatic Sea, but in the entire Mediterranean.

'Albus was, when we met, with another, normally coloured bottlenose dolphin. Both animals swam and fished, and almost completely ignored us,' they added.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

More wolf spiders feasting on American toads due to invasive grass, study shows

August 27, 2014

University of Georgia

An invasive grass species frequently found in forests has created a thriving habitat for wolf spiders, who then feed on American toads, a new study has found. Japanese stiltgrass, which was accidentally introduced to the US in the early 1900s, is one of the most pervasive invasive species. Typically found along roads and in forests, it has been found to impact native plant species, invertebrate populations and soil nutrients.

Woburn Safari Park celebrates rare bongo antelopes' birth

28 August 2014 

The birth of twin East African bongo antelopes is "fantastic news" for the "critically endangered" species, say conservationists.
The female calves, born at Woburn Safari Park, Bedfordshire, are seen as "vitally important" to the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).

Experts believe there are fewer than 100 bongos now living in the wild.
Bongos at Woburn Safari Park
A park spokesman said only two other sets of bongo twins born in captivity have ever survived in zoos worldwide.

The pair were born to nine-year-old Millie, in the reserve's 14-acre woodland habitat.

Wolves susceptible to yawn contagion: Social bonds may increase yawning contagion between wolves

August 27, 2014


Wolves may be susceptible to yawn contagion, according to a new study. Researchers suggest that contagious yawning may be linked to human capacity for empathy, but little evidence apart from studies on primates, exists that links contagious yawning to empathy in other animals. Recently, researchers have documented domestic dogs demonstrating contagious yawning when exposed to human yawns in a scientific setting, but it is unclear whether this phenomenon is rooted in the evolutionary history of mammals, or has evolved in dogs as a result of domestication.

Zoos stave off extinction for many reptiles and amphibians

A frog that doesn’t croak, the largest living lizard, and a tortoise that can live up to 100 years are just some of the species staving off extinction thanks to the help of zoos, according to a new report.

The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), which promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums, has compiled a list of the top 10 reptiles and amphibians benefitting from the aid of its members in the UK and Ireland.

Dr Andrew Marshall from BIAZA’s Field Programmes Committee co-ordinated the compilation of the list with input from conservation experts based at BIAZA collections.

He said: “Zoos are part of a global conservation community. Last year, BIAZA published a report on the top 10 mammals most reliant on zoos, which highlighted the work being done to help safeguard their future. This year, we have focused on 10 prevailing examples of reptiles and amphibians.

Cheetah menu: Wildlife instead of cattle

August 27, 2014

Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB)

Cheetahs primarily prefer wildlife on their menu to cattle, scientists have confirmed. The cheetah is a vulnerable species that only exists on Namibia’s commercial farmland in large populations. Here, local farmers see cheetahs as a potential threat for their cattle.

Giant panda fakes pregnancy to get more food

A giant panda is believed to have faked her pregnancy in order to get better food, The Independent has reported.

Six-year-old panda Ai Hin began to show signs of being pregnant, which included reduced appetite and mobility, in July, but after two months of observation, experts have told state news agency Xinhua that she wisn't pregnant as her behaviour and physiological tests showed her to be normal

Her keepers at Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre in China’s Sichuan province believe she has learned that exhibiting this behaviour will earn her better food. This is because captive pandas have difficulty in successfully giving birth and are therefore treated to round the clock care and attention.

Winchester woman finds 3ft wasp nest on bed

27 August 2014 Last updated at 14:44

The wasps had chewed through the pillows and the mattress of the bed in order to make their nest larger

A pest controller said he took on "the biggest job of his career" when he was called to deal with a nest of more than 5,000 wasps.

John Birkett, of Longwood Services Pest Control, said removing the 3ft (91cm) nest from a bed in Winchester was his most unusual job in 45 years.

He said it would have been "extremely dangerous" if the homeowner had tried to remove it herself.

"I just stood back in amazement," Mr Birkett said.

The nest was discovered by a woman at her house in St Cross, in an unused spare room, where a small window had been left open.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Rare sei whale spotted off Cornwall's coast in Penzance

A rare whale has been spotted off the coast of Penzance.

Experts believe these photographs show a sei whale – the creatures rarely visit water around the UK.

Sei whale mother and calf Christin Khan NOAA.jpg
Wikipedia file photo
Sei whales are the third largest rorqual after the blue whale and fin whale.

These photographs were taken by Penzance-based marine wildlife tour company Marine Discovery.

Hannah Jones, from Marine Discovery, said: “We're usually the last people to try and make things sound rarer than they actually are - after all simply seeing any whales off the coast of Cornwall is exciting enough. Reasons we think this whale was a Sei Whale; very visible blow, but probably not dense or tall enough for a fin whale; blow and fin seen at same time; "chin up" surface with pronounced rostrum (the "seam" running from the blowholes to the tip of the upper jaw); spots! On one of the photos, there are visible pale spots behind the fin; swathes of pale colouration on the back (though minkes do often have this as well) Feasibly large, sickle shaped fin, though you can never ID rorqual whales from the fin alone.”

Huge insect diversity revealed by genetic technologies

( —The diversity of plants, mammals and birds in Australia is well-known, but scientists have very little idea of how many hundreds of thousands of species of Australian insects exist.

Researchers from The University of Queensland are using DNA technology and chromosome analysis to tackle the difficult task of finding out just how many bugs are out there.

UQ PhD candidate Penelope Mills said accurately assessing diversity was made particularly difficult by the number of "cryptic" species.

"Cryptic species are groups of organisms that appear identical but are genetically quite distinct," she said.

"With the availability of inexpensive DNA sequencing technology it has become apparent that the number of distinct species is much higher than previously thought.

"Our recent research into scale insects revealed triple the number of recognised species, and we expect that the further we look into insect diversity, the more species will be revealed."

Spider personality study shows evidence of 'social niche specialization'

( —A team of researchers with the University of Pittsburgh (and one from the Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Müggelseedamm, Germany) has found evidence of "social niche specialization" in a species of social spiders. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, the team describes how they experimented with 84 artificially created colonies of the spiders and what they learned about their behavior as a result.

Social niche specialization is a theory of animal behavior that describes individual behavior within a social group—the idea is that the more social individual members are, the more individual differences emerge, leading to niche personalities for individual members. Groups with member niches are thought to be stronger and more organized.

To find out if Stegodyphus dumicola, a social spider native to the Kalahari, conform to the theory, the researchers created 84 web colonies artificially and allowed time for acclimation. Soon thereafter, the colonies were disturbed, causing the need to recreate the structure that bound them together. Some groups of the spiders were allowed to remain together, their initial units intact. Other groups were separated and interspersed. It was by watching how the two different types of colonies emerged that the researchers found evidence of social niche specialization—spiders in the colonies that remained with their initial units tended to be bolder, indicating a stronger social structure.

Indian woman kills leopard that attacked her

By Shiv Prassad JoshiDehradun
Kamla Devi spoke to the media from hospital, where she is stable

An Indian woman armed only with farm tools is stable in hospital after killing a leopard that attacked her.

Kamla Devi, 56, sustained multiple bites, cuts and fractures during the half-hour battle.

She had been fetching water in northern Uttarakhand state when the leopard pounced on her from nearby bushes - she fought back with a sickle and spade.

"I thought I was dead but I did not lose patience and courage," she told reporters after her lucky escape.

Smashed teeth

Ms Devi was carrying water from a canal to her field near the village of Sem Nauti in Rudraprayag district when she was attacked on Sunday.

She said she managed to smash some of the animal's teeth during the struggle.

"I fought head on with it for almost half an hour. Then I came to know it was dead," she told reporters from hospital in the nearby town of Srinagar Garhwal.

'Two simple rules' explain sheepdog behaviour

27 August 2014 Last updated at 01:33

By Claire MarshallBBC environment correspondent

The relationship between a shepherd and his sheepdog has always seemed almost magical, but scientists now say it can be explained by two simple rules.

Researchers have used GPS data to reveal the mathematical secrets of how sheepdogs do their job.

The new model helps to explain why one shepherd and a single dog can herd an unruly flock of more than 100 sheep.

It could be used to help develop "shepherd robots", for controlling crowds or cleaning up an oil spill.

The first rule: The sheepdog learns how to make the sheep come together in a flock. The second rule: Whenever the sheep are in a tightly knit group, the dog pushes them forwards.

Animals first flex their muscles: Earliest fossil evidence for animals with muscles

August 26, 2014

University of Cambridge

A new fossil discovery identifies the earliest evidence for animals with muscles. An unusual new fossil discovery of one of the earliest animals on earth may also provide the oldest evidence of muscle tissue -- the bundles of cells that make movement in animals possible. The fossil, dating from 560 million years ago, was discovered in Newfoundland, Canada

Orphaned hippo Douglas has been successfully released back into the wild

An orphaned baby hippo named Douglas, who captured the hearts of many after he starred on ITV1’s ‘Paul O’Grady’s Animal Orphans’ with his two terrier friends Molly and Coco, has been successfully released back into the wild in zambia.

Back in February 2013 Douglas was just two weeks old and close to death when he was rescued by Conservation Lower Zambezi and sent to the Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust (CWET) to be under the care of experienced wildlife rehabilitators Anna and Steve Tolan. This was the first time Anna and Steve, had taken in a hippo.

Steve Tolan said: “We constructed a pool and brought in dedicated carers to look after Douglas who initially was bottle fed and looked to his human carers for reassurance and companionship and even swimming lessons.

“Douglas has now been fending for himself since he was weaned in January and is surviving and thriving. He has made his first few attempts to join the wild pod in the Luangwa River. It will probably be a long, slow process until he is fully accepted into the pod but he is on his way.”

Watch Douglas's story below 

Badger cull targets announced for Gloucestershire and Somerset

A target number of badgers to be killed in this year's pilot cull has been announced.

Authorisation letters for the cull have been issued by Natural England. A minimum of 615 in Gloucestershire and 316 in Somerset need to be killed.

In 2013, 921 badgers were killed in Gloucestershire and 940 in Somerset in a bid to tackle TB in cattle.

The companies carrying out the cull have not announced when it will start this year.

A maximum number of badgers that can be culled this year has been set at 1,091 in Gloucestershire and 785 in Somerset.

Original population estimates for badgers have now been revised by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to 1,904 in Gloucestershire and 1,876 in Somerset.

The four-year pilot cull aims to kill 70% of the initial population to test how effective, humane and safe a cull can be.

Rhino Reproduction Could Get Boost from Hormone Tests

Laura Geggel, Staff Writer | August 26, 2014 03:07pm ET

Rhino reproduction may undergo a renaissance in European zoos, as researchers try to tap into how they can boost the success of these massive animals mating in captivity, according to a new study.

The endangered black rhino, illegally hunted for its horn, has low birth rates in European zoos, the researchers said.

Curious as to why some captive rhinos breed with ease whereas others never reproduce, researchers in England launched a detailed study of 39 captive rhinoceroses, which make up about 90 percent of Europe's rhino population. 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

A tiny, rare snail in Malaysia has big consequences for global cement giant

A new species of snail is believed only to exist in a limestone quarry mined by cements giant Lafarge, Tony Juniper challenges the company to protect it from extinction

Guardian Professional, Monday 25 August 2014 07.00 BST

For the first time ever, a ‘new’ species has been named after the company that has the power to either conserve or destroy it. It’s a snail and, although small, has the potential to leave a permanent legacy for a giant global business.

The snail in question was recently discovered living on an isolated limestone hill called Gunung Kanthan in the northwest of Peninsular Malaysia – its only known home on Earth. Many species with tiny geographical ranges are at particular risk of extinction, but this one more so than many as the only place it has ever been found is in the corner of a limestone quarry run by global cement and aggregates giant Lafarge.

The quarry, or at least those parts of it that have yet to be blown apart to provide material for cement manufacture, has proven a remarkably fertile place for new species. It has recently been the source of three new kinds of plant, a trapdoor spider, another snail and new kind of Bent-toed Gecko. Given the very restricted known distributions of these species, all of them are presumed to be at critical risk of global extinction, and all face threat from further quarrying.

Star-crossed wolves produce litter of seven

Incredible footage just broadcast in the Italian media reveals that the celebrity wolves Slavc and Juliet have just had a litter of seven cubs.

On 1 March 2012, a camera trap set by a hunter in a remote valley in the Dolomites in Italy captured footage of a wolf. 

A she-wolf adopts a classic female canid posture to urinate. This is Juliet in March 2012, captured on a camera trap set by a local hunter

From the wolf’s posture during urination (in the first seconds of the clip), it appeared to be a she-wolf. This was exciting for two reasons. One: it was the first clear evidence in almost 100 years that a female wolf had entered the region. Two: a radiocollared he-wolf from Slovenia had crossed the Austrian Alps in mid-winter, entered Italy and was heading in the female’s direction. Alessandro Brugnoli (wildlife manager for theTrentino Hunters’ Association) sent a copy of the she-wolf footage to Hubert Potočnik, the Slovenian biologist tracking Slavc’s movements (whose work you can read about in more detail in my last post). “There were some jokes and “bets” over when Slavc would “meet” his bride,” recalls Potočnik.

Conservationist's claims that European eels are 'critically endangered' challenged by trader

The conservation body that assesses the level of threat to animal species has been reported to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) by a company that sells eels – for describing the fish as "critically endangered".

The classification, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), suggests the European eel is at greater risk of extinction than giant pandas, blue whales and mountain gorillas, all considered to be merely "endangered".

Peter Wood, who owns the Gloucester-based UK Glass Eels, which sells eels as food, said that since the designation in 2010 the European market for eels had shrunk by 50 per cent.

"There's a lot at stake," he said. "The eel classification is damaging. It's not a balanced view and it's not evidence-based. The giant panda is 'endangered', but it's at far greater risk than the eel – there are only 2,000 of them left. For the eel, we are talking about a population of hundreds of thousands of millions."

Marine biologists unlock the secrets of Antarctica

Monday 25 August 2014

Marine biologists from across the world have produced an atlas of sea life in the Antarctic Ocean from microbes to whales, finding thousands of new species in the process.

Among the discoveries were crabs that are able to live within the clouds of sulphur emitted by live underwater volcanoes and a new type of barnacle that has stems 50 times longer than its head.

They also found that climate change had potentially caused changes in the breeding patterns of penguins.

The project was the first of this magnitude since the publication of the Antactic Map Folio Series 45 years ago.

Dr Katrin Linse, an expert in Antarctic molluscs at the British Antartic Survey, told The Independent: “Since 1969 there has been no update but lots of science done in that period and lots of species discovered.

Related Posts with Thumbnails