Wildlife

Endangered Giant Salamanders of Mexico

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When the Aztecs settled the Valley of Mexico in the 13th century, they found a large salamander living in the lake surrounding the island where they built their capital, Tenochtitl├ín. They called the salamander “axolotl” after Xolotl, their god of fire and lightning. Xolotl was said to have transformed into a salamander, among other forms, to avoid being sacrificed so the sun and moon could move in the sky. He was eventually captured and killed.

In the same vein, axolotls were commonly killed for food by the Aztecs and are still eaten today in Mexico. They’ve also become one of the world’s most popular pets, thanks to their easy care and charisma. The creatures’ extraordinary regenerative abilities have made them an interesting study subject for scientists. But in their native home, the salamanders have almost disappeared.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources considers axolotls critically endangered and their population declining. Surveys in 1998 and 2008 found that the population density had dropped from about 6,000 individuals per square kilometer to 100 individuals per square kilometer. A more recent survey in 2015 found about 35 individuals per square kilometer.

Pollution has been particularly detrimental to the species. Poor waste regulations and increasing tourism in Mexico City mean that trash, plastics, heavy metals and high levels of ammonia spilled from waste-treatment plants clog the canals where the salamanders live.

Aussie bats suffer mass starvation event

A mass starvation event affecting bats in the Australian State of Queensland has left rescue organizations inundated and prompted a call to the public to leave food out in their backyards to support the struggling creatures.

The affected population are a native species known fruit bats, or flying foxes, which normally feed on fruit and nectar.

With the recent drought, developments and deforestation, there’s just not enough food supply and especially with the recent bushfires which aggravated the situation because there has been a lot of habitat loss.

Aggravating the problem is the issue that a number of bats are now failing to return to their colonies during the day and are instead remaining with food sources, leaving them vulnerable to birds, people and other dangers. They’re so desperate for food, when they do find a food source, they’re staying there and they’re guarding it and they’re refusing to leave.

Residents in the Gold Coast region are being told if they want to help the bats they can thread apples onto wire and hang them at least two meters from the ground in their gardens where the bats can feed safely during the night.

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