Wildlife

Mice Brutally Attack and Devour Albatross Chicks

House mice that were introduced to Gough Island in the South Atlantic are attacking and killing both adult and baby albatross.

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Wildlife

Koala Apocalypse

An inquiry into koala populations and habitat in NSW is expected to hear evidence that more than 2000 of the native Australian marsupials may have died on the state’s north coast in recent bushfires. The state parliament’s upper house inquiry will hold an urgent hearing on Monday to discuss the extent of damage to the koala population from bushfires.

Thousands of hectares of koala habitat across northern NSW and southeast Queensland have been destroyed in the recent bushfires.

Koalas are listed as vulnerable in Queensland, NSW and the ACT, largely a result of habitat clearing.

Wildlife

Dolphin Dextrality

Researchers have observed that almost all bottle-nose dolphins appear to have a dominant right-hand side.

A team from the Florida-based Dolphin Communication Project say bottlenose dolphins appear to have an even more pronounced right-side bias than humans. The right-flipper trait is most evident when the mammals are chasing prey.

They almost always use the right flipper to make sharp left-hand turns just before digging their beaks into the sand to grab a meal. This appears to keeps their right eye and their right side close to the ocean floor during the forage.

Trump administration re-reauthorizes wildlife-killing M-44 ‘cyanide bombs’ despite strong opposition

After withdrawing an interim decision instituting minor restrictions on the use of sodium cyanide in wildlife-killing devices called M-44s, or “cyanide bombs,” the Trump administration today reissued a revised decision with slight modifications. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has now, again, approved cyanide bomb use on public lands even though they inhumanely and indiscriminately kill thousands of animals every year and have a history of severely injuring people.

Rare Siberian Tiger cubs

A hidden camera at Land of the Leopard National Park in Russia showed three Siberian Tiger Cubs playing as they waited for their mother who was hunting. The three cubs are four months old which is the most playful age and when hunting skills begin to develop.

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Wildlife

Birds are shrinking – Study

Birds are getting smaller. So shows an analysis of migratory birds that died after colliding into buildings in Chicago and were collected as specimens for the Field Museum of Natural History.

David Willard, a Field Museum ornithologist, has measured the Windy City’s dead birds since 1978. Data from his calipers and scales reveal decades-long trends in bird bodies: Their legs, on average, are growing shorter. They have lost weight. Their wings are getting slightly longer.

These changes are present in nearly all of the species he measured, according to a study of 70,716 bird specimens from almost 40 years published Wednesday in the journal Ecology Letters. Morphing birds, Willard and his colleagues say, reflect a changing climate.

The study authors examined precipitation, vegetation and other factors that could contribute to bird size. They determined an increase in summer temperatures is the strongest predictor for smaller birds.

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Nature – Images

Interesting Images

Some Wildlife Photography Award Finalists

A hunting Pallas’ cat in the Mongolian grasslands.

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A mother polar bear and her cubs in Wapusk National Park, Manitoba,

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A humpback whale feeding off the coast of Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada

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Some well-disguised reindeer in Svalbard, Norway.

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An orangutan being forced to box in a show in Safari World, Bangkok.

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Wildlife

‘Litter Ball’ Found Inside a Dead Sperm Whale

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When workers with a whale strandings agency in Scotland performed a necropsy on a recently beached sperm whale, they found a gruesome surprise: The animal had died with around 220 lbs. (100 kilograms) of trash in its stomach. The young male sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) washed ashore on Nov. 28 at Luskentyre beach in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides islands. It died shortly thereafter.

Fishing nets, rope bundles, tubes and an assortment of plastic garbage formed a compact mass — a so-called litter ball — inside the 20-ton whale, “and some of it it looked like it had been there for some time.

While the amount of garbage inside the whale was “horrific,” the animal appeared to be in good health and wasn’t malnourished, according to the post. It’s likely that the trash ball interfered with digestion, but SMASS experts didn’t find any signs that the ingested debris blocked the whale’s intestines.

Australia’s Extinct Species

It’s well established that unsustainable human activity is damaging the health of the planet. The way we use Earth threatens our future and that of many animals and plants. Species extinction is an inevitable end point.

It’s important that the loss of Australian nature be quantified accurately. To date, putting an exact figure on the number of extinct species has been challenging. But in the most comprehensive assessment of its kind, research has confirmed that 100 endemic Australian species living in 1788, such as the Tasman tiger, are now validly listed as extinct.

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Wildlife

Chimp Attacks

Chimpanzees have begun attacking children in western Uganda during recent years in a shocking trend that has resulted in serious injuries and deaths.

A highly publicized and gruesome attack in 2014 saw a chimp savage a 2-year-old child after snatching it from its mother. At least three more fatal attacks on infants have occurred since then, accompanied by a half-dozen other attacks that resulted in injuries or narrow escapes.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority points to the destruction of the chimps’ forest habit outside of protected areas to grow crops. It says this is sending the primates into villages in search of food, leading to the attacks.

Light Pollution

A new scientific review points to light pollution as a major contributor to the “insect apocalypse” decimating many species.

An earlier study this year blamed pesticide use, habitat destruction and climate change for the loss of nearly half of the planet’s insects since 1970.

But writing in the journal Biological Conservation, an international team of experts says artificial light is disrupting insect reproduction and navigation, as well as drawing insects to untimely deaths.

“Artificial light at night is human-caused lighting – ranging from streetlights to gas flares from oil extraction. It can affect insects in pretty much every imaginable part of their lives,” said senior author Brett Seymoure.

Wildlife

Malaysia Says Goodbye to its last Sumatran Rhino

The last Sumatran rhino in Malaysia, a female dubbed “Iman,” died on Saturday (Nov. 23) at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in Sabah, Malaysia. Her death at age 25 marks the extinction of her species in that country and is a grim reminder of the animals’ vulnerability; fewer than 80 wild Sumatran rhinos (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) remain in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature

Wildlife

Koalas ‘Functionally Extinct’ After Australia Bushfires

As Australia experiences record-breaking drought and bushfires, koala populations have dwindled along with their habitat, leaving them “functionally extinct.”

The chairman of the Australian Koala Foundation, Deborah Tabart, estimates that over 1,000 koalas have been killed from the fires and that 80 percent of their habitat has been destroyed.

Recent bushfires, along with prolonged drought and deforestation has led to koalas becoming “functionally extinct” according to experts.

Functional extinction is when a population becomes so limited that they no longer play a significant role in their ecosystem and the population becomes no longer viable. While some individuals could produce, the limited number of koalas makes the long-term viability of the species unlikely and highly susceptible to disease.

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Wildlife

Insect Apocalypse Warning

A new report suggests that half of all insects on the planet have been lost since 1970 from a combination of habitat destruction, climate change and the increased use of pesticides.

Published in the journal Biological Conservation, the report warns that 40% of the 1 million insect species known to science are facing extinction.

But conservationists say many of those insects can be rescued by slashing pesticide use and making areas around our global communities more wildlife friendly.

“If we don’t stop the decline of our insects, there will be profound consequences for all life on Earth [and] for human well-being,” said Dave Goulson of Britain’s University of Sussex.

Amazon Losses – Update

Deforestation of Brazil’s Amazon region soared to its highest level in a decade as agribusiness, miners, loggers and developers felled portions of the world’s largest rainforest.

Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research announced that 3,769 square miles of forest were lost during the 12-month period ending in July, or about a 30% spike from the previous 12 months.

Environmental advocates blame the increase on Brazil’s president, who has slashed the budgets and staff of the agencies in charge of preventing such illegal activities in the Amazon.

Wildlife

Great Barrier Reef annual mass coral spawning begins

A mass coral spawning has begun on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, with early indications the annual event could be among the biggest in recent years.

Buffeted by climate change-induced rising sea temperatures and coral bleaching, the world’s largest reef system goes into a frenzy once a year with a mass release of coral eggs and sperm that is synchronised to increase the chances of fertilisation.

The natural wonder, which has been likened to underwater fireworks or a snowstorm, occurs just once a year in specific conditions: after a full moon when water temperatures hover around 27℃ to 28℃. Soft corals are the first to release, followed by hard corals, in a process that typically spans between 48 and 72 hours.

Coral along large swathes of the 2300km reef have been killed by rising sea temperatures linked to climate change, leaving behind skeletal remains in a process known as coral bleaching.

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Wildlife

Rhino, calf and zebra electrocuted by collapsed power pylon

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A female rhino, her calf and two zebra were electrocuted when an Eskom electricity pylon collapsed at Tshwane’s Rietvlei Nature Reserve near Pretoria, South Africa. Scrap metal thieves have been targeting electricity pylons across Gauteng Province, removing structural members to sell as scrap metal to illicit dealers. It seems that this may have been the cause for the failure of one leg of the pylon.

Poachers killed in motor vehicle accident – South Africa

Eight people died in a head-on collision between a bakkie and car on the R531 road between Hoedspruit and Swadini, Limpopo Province, on Saturday. One of two injured people transported to hospital for treatment after the crash died later. The police endangered species unit was called to the scene after buckets containing snake skins, starfish, crabs and other dead sea creatures were found scattered about the crash site.

Wildlife

Dought-hit Zimbabwe readies mass wildlife migration

Zimbabwe is planning an enforced mass migration of wildlife away from a park in the country’s south, where thousands of animals are at risk of death due to drought-induced starvation. At least 200 elephants have already died at two other parks due to lack of food and water, along with scores of buffalo and antelope.

The animals will continue to die until the rains come. The biggest threat to the animals right now is loss of habitat. The El Nino-induced drought has also taken its toll on crops, leaving more than half of the population in need of food aid.

Zimparks plans move 600 elephants – as well as giraffe, lions, buffalo, antelope and spotted wild dogs – from Save Valley Conservancy in southern Zimbabwe to three other national parks.

This is the biggest translocation of animals in the history of wildlife movement in Zimbabwe across distances of more than 1,000 kilometers.

It will start once the summer rains come. Those are expected to start this week, which would offer major relief for the stricken animals and for farmers who are preparing for the 2019/20 planting season.

The migration will also help to save the conservancy’s ecosystem by depopulating it because the animals “are now becoming a threat to their own survival.Zimbabwe is home to some 80,000 elephants, around a fifth of Africa’s total, conservationists estimate. Overall numbers have declined sharply in recent years, mostly due to a combination of poaching, illegal hunting and drought.

Wildlife

Zimbabwe Drought Killing Wildlife

Elephants, zebras, hippos, impalas, buffaloes and many other wildlife are stressed by lack of food and water in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park, whose very name comes from the four pools of water normally filled by the flooding Zambezi River each rainy season, and where wildlife traditionally drink.

At least 105 elephants have died in Zimbabwe’s wildlife reserves, most of them in Mana and the larger Hwange National Park in the past two months, according to the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. Many desperate animals are straying from Zimbabwe’s parks into nearby communities in search of food and water.

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Wildlife

Mobile Roaming Charges for Eagle Trackers

Russian researchers studying eagle migration with trackers that use mobile phone networks ran up huge SMS roaming charges when the birds unexpectedly flew southward into airspace over Iran and Pakistan.

The data stored in the birds’ trackers while they were outside the domestic coverage areas in Russia and neighboring Kazakhstan were later transmitted en masse through the foreign mobile carriers’ networks.

The volunteers tracking the birds were later able to pay off the roughly $1,600 bill through a crowdfunding appeal dubbed “Top up the eagles’ mobile.”

Sea Urchins Plunder Kelp Forests

The population of ravenous purple urchins in parts of the Pacific off California and Oregon has soared 10,000 percent since 2014, which an Oregon state scientist says has ravaged the kelp forests and other species in the marine environment.

The loss of the kelp to the echinoderms has created vast “urchin barrens,” where the kelp was once so thick that boats could not navigate through it.

While vast numbers of the urchins are starving to death on the now-empty seabed, the species can go dormant without reproducing and live for years without food. Experts warn that this means the kelp forests may never be able to rebound.

Scientists say climate change is likely a factor in the urchin explosion.

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