Thursday 29 April 2021

Saiga story


Weird, wonderful and woefully close to extinction

Saiga are, in terms of antelope species, fantastically peculiar.

Long floppy noses, glorious twisting horns and a wonderful pale coat make them appear practically other-worldly. They migrate thousands upon thousands of miles, in truly enormous herds.

But in 2015 these creatures were hit by a calamity unlike almost no other.

A bacterium in their gut suddenly turned on them and became deadly. There was nothing any veterinarian could do.

Hundreds of thousands died, in the space of just a few days.

The scenes were utterly sickening.

With numbers having already declined 95% before the disease outbreak it pushed them to the very brink of extinction.

And their situation is still precarious. We would love to be able to tell you they made a full recovery since that devastating event - we’d love to tell you that their herds are now safe and secure.

But we can’t.

Poaching has ensured that.

Their recovery is continually hampered by unremitting hunting for their horns, which are used in traditional medicines. Those without horns are hunted for their meat.

The same bacterium is still sitting dormant in their gut. Under the right conditions it could attack them again and, with numbers so dangerously low, poaching could be what pushes them over the edge next time.

We must end the poaching.

Through your donations we are putting patrols in the fields and supporting border checks with sniffer dogs trained to detect trafficked horns, to help put an end to this brutal trade. If we have the resources to do that, we can give them time to finally recover.

That - through your support - is the only way we can guarantee their survival into the future. It’s the only way we can ensure these marvellous antelopes stay part of our world for generations to come.


Please help pull saigas back from the brink. If everyone reading this donates just £3, you could help provide patrols and border checks with the vital resources they need to ensure these animals remain protected. Thank you.

Wednesday 28 April 2021

MONGABAY: Researchers take up the cause of the mysterious and maligned Chaco eagle


Researchers take up the cause of the mysterious and maligned Chaco eagle

Fénix, a female Chaco eagle, lived at San Rafael Zoo in Mendoza province, Argentina, until the zoo shut down in 2016. She was later transferred to the Buenos Aires Ecopark,

MONGABAY: Bolsonaro abandons enhanced Amazon commitment

Bolsonaro abandons enhanced Amazon commitment same day he makes it

The Brazilian president offered up conservation promises during the Earth Day global Climate Leaders Summit, then slashed the environmental ministry’s 2021 budget by $44 million.

230,000 Acres of Tropical Rainforest Protected as Biodiversity Hotspot For Jaguars in Belize

Decades ago, a radical idea was born to protect the Maya Forest in Belize. What if NGOs, the government, community leaders, and businesses could form a coalition to conserve one of the world’s last remaining pristine rainforests?

Now that dream is a reality, with more than a dozen organizations coming together to protect 236,000 acres of land that represents an irreplaceable linchpin in the conservation of the largest remaining tropical forests in the Americas, outside the Amazon.

This new protected area is contiguous with and nearly doubles the size of the adjacent Rio Bravo Conservation Management Area previously protected through efforts led by The Nature Conservancy. Combined, it represents 9% of the landmass of Belize and secures a vital wildlife corridor in Central America’s dwindling forests.

Read on...

Monkeys Unite and Form Unlikely Alliances After Hurricane Maria Ravaged their Island

An interesting new study seems to indicate that monkeys increase the size of their social circles during times of strife or resource scarcity.

Researchers observed Puerto Rico’s rhesus macaque populations on Cayo Santiago in the aftermath of 2017’s Hurricane Maria, and observed each individual increase the amount of grooming activities, as well as the number of other monkeys groomed, following the disaster.

By the numbers, there was a greater than 50% increased chance that the monkeys would be seen grooming after the hurricane when compared to before, and they were four times more likely to be sitting close to another monkey.

Read on...

The World’s Oldest-Known Wild Bird—Named Wisdom—Hatches Another Chick at 70 (WATCH)


Every year, millions of albatrosses return to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge to their same nesting site—and reunite with the same mate.

In the world’s largest colony of albatrosses, Wisdom and her mate, Akeakamai, have been hatching and raising chicks together since at least 2012, when biologists first banded the male.

Read on...

Amazon, Unilever, and Nestlé join the UK, US and Norway in New $1Billion Initiative to Preserve Tropical Rainforests

 This week, during the international Climate Summit, three governments and nine giant corporations announced a groundbreaking coalition, called LEAF, which is mobilizing to raise at least $1 billion this year, alone, for large-scale forest protection and sustainable development.

Read on...

After Fatal Disease Arrives, Zoo Calls in the Only Team of Turtle-sniffing Dogs in the World to Help Out

 In order to preserve a species threatened by an infectious disease, Saint Louis Zoo scientists have hired an elite team of sleuths—turtle-hunting dogs.

John Rucker with 7 Boykin spaniels tracking box turtles – Saint Louis Zoo

Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park is a 425-acre site christened last year to be used as part of the zoo’s extensive conservation programming. Last week, seven Boykin spaniels began sniffing for three-toed box turtles, a species that has been in decline due to development—but, recently, due to an emerging pathogen called Ranavirus.

Not much is known about the disease. It affects turtles, fish, and amphibians, but is particularly fatal in box turtles—about 80% fatal.

Read on...

Common Human Antibiotic Can Heal Coral Diseases – 95% Success Rate With Amoxicillin

 Diseases continue to be a major threat to coral reef health, but a new study by Florida researchers reveals how a common antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections in humans is showing great promise.

Joshua Voss PhD –FAU Harbor Branch, Coral Reef and Health Ecology Lab

A recent outbreak of an infectious disease called stony coral tissue loss has affected 20 different stony coral species. First discovered in 2014 in Miami-Dade County, the disease has spread throughout Florida’s Coral Reef and into parts of the Caribbean.

In treating disease-affected Montastraea cavernosa coral colonies (the Great Star Coral widely found in the Atlantic)...

Read on...

Sunday 25 April 2021

Ivory bill?

Run, don't walk to nearest phone if you spot rare woodpecker
The mystery, intrigue and perhaps myth of the ivory-billed woodpecker will continue. Only time will tell if it will go the way of the Loch Ness Monster or ...

Bear ransacked house

Bear Breaks Into Home and Ransacks Kitchen in Duarte
"He went through my whole pantry. He ate prunes and the cat food. A big thing of trail mix, he ate the whole thing of trail mix," Barbara Rogers said.
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Friday 23 April 2021

DURRELL: Earth Day 2021


A healthy planet is not an option – it is a necessity

Nature's diversity plays a vital role in regulating the climate, water systems, soil production, food provision, and crop pollination; all of which enable the existence of humankind.  

Across Durrell's rewilding sites, we are working to rebuild healthy and resilient ecosystems in which wildlife can thrive and people can enjoy a deeper connection with nature. 

Today, on Earth Day, we want to share some of our projects that are helping to restore our Earth. 
  • Reconnecting isolated areas of forest in Brazil to ensure black lion tamarins can travel safely across their habitat, as well as rebuild a thriving population of these tiny monkeys. 
  • Conservation efforts to save the world's smallest and rarest pig – the pygmy hog – have also helped to drive the restoration of India's precious Assamese grasslands.  
  • Protecting Madagascar's wetlands also ensures the protection of many native species, as well as the local communities whose livelihoods depend on these important habitats.  
  • Rewild Carbon is Durrell's new carbon offsetting initiative that will help to restore biodiversity and combat climate change. 
  • Over 6,000 people from 149 countries have been trained by Durrell, increasing the global community of conservationists fighting to save threatened species and ecosystems. 

Loyal supporters like you have made this possible. But the world's wildlife still needs our help.  

Together, we can breathe life back into our landscapes and restore diversity back to our one and only home: Planet Earth. 

Image credits Jim & Tonic Films, Laurie Hedges, Nautilus CreativeSlingshot Films 

Thursday 22 April 2021

FFI: Devastating eruption in Saint Vincent


The volcano devastating communities and wildlife and leaving fear in its wake

It’s called La Soufriere. It sounds exotic, almost mystical. It was once painted by the renowned artist J. M. W. Turner.

But it’s anything but mystical or magical; it’s a four-thousand-foot stratovolcano on the Caribbean island of St Vincent and it’s erupting - now. 

On Monday the largest eruption yet rocked the island, leaving 20,000 people homeless and thousands more in fear.

The island is choking. Tonnes of toxic ash are pouring down on homes and businesses, destroying lives and livelihoods. People are without water, electricity, and food supplies are short. This is a humanitarian and nature crisis not seen in this tropical paradise for generations.

Our appeal starts today. Please donate. 

Vast areas of forest and natural habitat are dying. Fragile ecosystems don’t stand a chance against the pyroclastic flows obliterating everything in their path. Hot ash spewing from the volcano is covering the island in darkness.

For endangered wildlife living around the volcano, the situation is devastating. 

Some of the island’s most iconic species, which include St Vincent parrots, whistling warblers, St Vincent blacksnakes and St Vincent frogs, have been found suffocating in ash. With no escape, they are dehydrated and on the edge. Now local foresters and conservation teams face a desperate race against time to find and rescue injured and starving animals.

Without urgent help, extinctions are a real possibility.

FFI never shirks its responsibilities - when we commit to a country, a town, a village - we’re in for the long haul. We’re 100% dedicated. Which is why our history is steeped in stories of stepping in and stepping up, facing the wreckage brought on by tsunamis and earthquakes.

Our partners on the island are anxious to assess the damage and rescue endangered wildlife, but lack the basic equipment to make it safe to do so. Rescued wildlife desperately need suitable enclosures, food and veterinary equipment. 

Over 100 personnel from the Forestry Department, working tirelessly to clear fallen trees and restore the nation’s water and power supplies, need respirator masks, medical supplies, flashlights and walkie-talkies to do their job safely.

Nobody knows when the eruptions will end, or how much further the damage will extend.

Winning this battle will be no mean feat. 

Your support is urgently needed by those on the front line working to save helpless species and restore essential water supplies and other services to the country. Your donation will allow the brave men and women to continue their vital work, and come to the rescue of the people and wildlife of St Vincent.


Please help the people and wildlife of St Vincent by donating to our appeal. If everyone reading this donates just £3, you could help rescue wildlife, restore vital water supplies and provide teams on the ground with essential safety equipment. 100% of your donation will reach the island. Thank you.

BBC: Mouse deer born at Bristol Zoo is the height of a pencil


image captionThe tiny mouse deer is only 20cm (8ins) tall to its shoulder

A tiny mouse deer, born during lockdown at Bristol Zoo, is only 20cm (8ins) tall to its shoulder, the height of a pencil.

The lesser Malayan mouse deer was born to first-time mother Brienne and father Jorah almost a month ago.

Its gender is not yet known however it is only the second mouse deer to be born at the zoo in the last decade.

Mouse deer are native to South East Asia and when fully grown the infant will weigh about 3lb (1.5kg).

Senior mammal keeper Paige Bwye said it would be a little while before the zoo was able to determine the gender of the fawn as they are so small and shy.

"It's doing really well though, and has recently started to discover new tastes, such as sweet potato," she said.

Read on...

Tuesday 20 April 2021

BBC: Deer graze on east London housing estate


Deer rest on a housing estateIMAGE COPYRIGHTALEX SARZI-SARTORI
image captionDeer rest on a housing estate

Residents were stunned to see a herd of deer grazing outside their front doors on an estate in east London.

The animals had walked across the busy A12 in Harold Hill, Romford, from their home in Dagnam Park.

They are thought to be one of five herds in the area that have been breeding there for hundreds of years.

A local conservation group has requested that people give the animals space and warned against taking selfies with them.

Read on...

BBC: 'World's oldest' Humboldt penguin celebrates birthday


Rosie the penguin
image captionRosie, who has arthritis, eats a special diet to keep her active with her fellow penguins

A Humboldt penguin who is thought to be the oldest in the world has celebrated her 31st birthday.

Rosie has lived at Sewerby Hall in East Yorkshire since 1990 when she was brought from a bird park in Surrey.

Native to South America, Humboldts can live up to 20 years in the wild and are classed as "vulnerable to extinction".

Staff at the Bridlington zoo said "the grand old lady" had been the "centre of attention", with a special watermelon and fish cake made for her party.

Read on...

Monday 19 April 2021

A halved gynandromorph?

 Apricot, a very rare chimera cat with its nose split in two

Both mothers of cats say, "It's great to see their kittens and they are so beautiful. They take care of each other's puppies .... Who better to welcome two ...

Sunday 18 April 2021

Amphibious Scolopendra


Researchers from Tokyo Metropolitan University and Hosei University have discovered a new species of large, tropical centipede of genus <i>Scolopendra</i> in Okinawa and Taiwan. It is only the third amphibious centipede identified in the world, and is the largest in the region, 20 cm long and nearly 2 cm thick. It is also the first new centipede to be identified in Japan in 143 years, testament to the incredible biodiversity of the Ryukyu Archipelago.

The story of the Cupola Gecko


In 1968 a student found a distinctively marked gecko in an alpine basin. There had only been one confirmed sighting since until a remarkable discovery.

Brand-new spider in Miami


Miami already has invasive snakes and iguanas and now it has a brand new species of spider, and it's a large spider too.

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