Wildlife

Extinct Bird Rediscovered

An exotic bird thought to have gone extinct 140 years ago has been “rediscovered” by researchers on a tiny island off Papua New Guinea. The black-naped pheasant pigeon was spotted in images from remote cameras on Fergusson Island.

“It is the kind of moment you dream about your entire life as a conservationist and birdwatcher,” said expedition co-lead John Mittermeier. The team initially had help from one local who reported seeing the pheasant-pigeon several times in an area with steep ridges and valleys, and described hearing the bird’s distinctive calls.

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Shark Protection

Representatives attending the world’s largest wildlife summit have voted for the first time to regulate the hunting of sharks, which kills millions of the fish each year to meet the huge demand for shark fin soup.

The 186-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, signed an agreement to regulate the commercial fishing of 54 shark species, including tiger, bull and blue sharks, which are the most targeted for the fin trade.

Wildlife

Fire Ant Invasion – Hawaii

The discovery of millions of fire ants in Kauai, Hawaii, marks the island’s most extensive infestation since the invasive species was first detected there in 1999. The infestation of millions of ants poses a risk to pets, the agriculture industry, and residents and tourists visiting Hawaii’s fourth-largest island.

Now when people go out hiking and go to the beach the ants rain down on them and sting them. There are a lot of reports of the ant stinging people while they sleep in their beds.

Fire ant stings can cause red, swollen welts that burn and itch. They can also, on occasion, cause painful pus-filled lesions. Welts caused by the stings can last for weeks.

Global Warming

Climate Change – The Devastating Toll On Africa’s Animals

Climate change has produced a number of threats to wildlife. Over time, changing rainfall patterns have transformed habitats and forced animals to move. Increasing temperatures are causing mass die-off events during heat waves and making it hard for animals to find food.

Drought is recurring in parts of the continent. The increased frequency means there’s little or no time to recover before the next one occurs. The wildlife in some of these regions lives alongside people who are also struggling to survive and keep their livestock alive. This puts people and wildlife into conflict as they compete for diminishing sources of water and food.

Climate change can also strongly influence the physiology, behaviour and breeding success of animals. Over the past two decades, the Horn of Africa – specifically Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya – has experienced more intense and frequent droughts. Drought adds to the pressure on resources like water and pasture. This makes livestock and wildlife more susceptible to malnutrition, disease, mass mortalities and competition with each other over resources.

Gabon is home to some of the highest densities of forest elephants. Many of them live in Lopé National Park, a 5,000km² protected area. The condition of these elephants has declined by 11% since 2008 due to a massive collapse in tree-fruiting events.

For birds in arid zones, rising temperatures pose a significant problem. They usually breed in response to rainfall, which often occurs during the hottest time of the year. And birds are mostly active during the day, when they are exposed to the sun’s heat. This is when their vital processes for reproduction take place – such as territorial defence, courtship, finding food for their young and attending the nest.

Breeding attempts of the Kalahari Hornbill all failed when average daily maximum air temperatures exceeded 35.7°C. In the Kalahari, air temperatures have already risen more than 2°C in a few decades. At this rate, by 2027, these birds will not breed at all at this site. They will quickly become locally extinct.

Wildlife

Tame Wolves

Wolves in one area of the Netherlands have become so unafraid of humans that authorities are authorizing the use of paintballs to scare them away.

The move followed the emergence of a video that showed a wolf confidently walking past a clearly nervous young family in the Hoge Veluwe national park. The animal-rights group De Faunabescherming says wolves are naturally wary of humans and believes park wardens are taming them by deliberately feeding the predators to keep them away from sheep and other animals.

Wildlife

Beavers Protected

It is now illegal to deliberately capture, injure, kill or otherwise disturb beavers in the UK. “Changing the legal status of beavers is a game-changer for these amazing eco-engineers, which benefit both other wildlife and people,” says Joan Edwards, director of policy and public affairs at The Wildlife Trusts, which has pioneered their reintroduction.

Wildlife

Kenya Drought hits Wildlife

Hundreds of animals, including elephants and endangered Grevy’s zebras, have died in Kenyan wildlife preserves during East Africa’s worst drought in decades, according to a report released Friday. The Kenya Wildlife Service and other bodies counted the deaths of 205 elephants, 512 wildebeests, 381 common zebras, 51 buffalos, 49 Grevy’s zebras and 12 giraffes in the past nine months. Parts of Kenya have experienced four consecutive seasons with inadequate rain in the past two years, with dire effects for people and animals, including livestock.

Wildlife

Poaching Spurs Rhino Evolution

The average size of prized rhinoceros horns appears to have shrunk during the past 130 years, most likely due to poaching techniques, according to a study that examined photos spanning more than a century.

The horns are lucrative for poachers, prompting them to target rhinos with the largest horns to be sold for traditional Chinese and Vietnamese medicines. Targeting only rhinos with the largest horns has encouraged the survival and breeding of small-horned rhinos. However, hunters will now have to shoot more rhinos if they want the same amount of horn, researchers say.

Long-Haul Flight

A tagged bar-tailed godwit set a new nonstop flight record by winging 8,435 miles from Alaska to Tasmania. The 11-day marathon initially went on a southwesterly course toward Japan, then the bird turned to a more southerly course along the International Date Line to New Caledonia before making a sharp right turn to its final destination at Tasmania’s Ansons Bay.

Guinness World Records lists the previous longest migration by a bird without stopping for food or rest as 11,265 kilometres by a satellite-tagged male bar-tailed godwit flying from Alaska to New Zealand.

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Wildlife

Climate change threatens emperor penguins with extinction

It is the only animal that dares to breed during the Antarctic winter. It endures gale-force winds and freezing temperatures to lay and protect a single egg.

Now climate change threatens Antarctica’s emperor penguin with extinction, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared Tuesday, as melting sea ice upends the habitat it needs to breed, feed and protect itself from predators. The loss of sea ice driven by climate change will put the penguin’s long-term survival in jeopardy.

While sea ice around Antarctica has proved more durable than ice near the North Pole, nearly all emperor penguin colonies in the southern continent would be pushed to the brink of extinction by the end of the century without dramatic cuts to global greenhouse gas emissions.

Wildlife

Snow Crabs Disappear

The Bering Sea’s snow crab population has been in decline over the last five years, but this season the population has collapsed.

Snow crabs in the Bering Sea once numbered in the billions. But after a recent and massive population crash the crabs have all but vanished from these waters — and they may not be coming back anytime soon.

In 2018, about 3 billion mature snow crabs (Chionoecetes opilio) inhabited the Bering Sea along with roughly five billion immature crabs, the Seattle Times reported(opens in new tab). But by late 2021, those numbers hovered around 2.5 million and 6.5 million, respectively — a loss of nearly eight billion crabs in just three years. In Februarythe Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) made the difficult decision to cancel the season’s snow crab harvest for fear of wiping out the crustaceans altogether.

What caused the snow crab crash? The main culprit was almost certainly human-caused climate change, though unsustainable fishing practices may also have played a role.

Snow crabs thrive in the cold northern waters of the Bering Sea floor. For these crabs, water temperature isn’t just a matter of comfort; it plays a critical role in their lifecycle. As seawater cools, it becomes less salty and less buoyant, causing it to sink to the bottom of the ocean known as the “cold pool. Many fish and other types of marine life avoid the cold pool, but for juvenile snow crabs, it’s a sanctuary. With virtually no predators willing to venture into this layer’s frigid waters, young crabs can grow up in peace.

But lately that protection has waned. Record heat waves in 2016, 2018 and 2019 stunted cold pool formation in the Bering Sea, leaving baby crabs vulnerable to predators. What’s more, the warmer waters likely sped up the adult crabs’ metabolism, causing them to starve.

Wildlife

Wildlife Collapse

Human activities since 1970 have caused animal populations to decline on average by almost 70%, according to a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report. Researchers working to create the WWF Living Planet Index looked at data from 32,000 populations of more than 5,000 species of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds and fish.

They found that in areas rich in biodiversity, such as the Caribbean and Latin America, including the Amazon, animal population loss was as high as 94%. The report points to habitat degradation due to development and farming, exploitation, the introduction of invasive species, pollution, climate change and disease as the main drivers of the wildlife loss.

Bluefish Blitz

Beachgoers on North Carolina’s Outer Banks were startled and amazed by the sight of thousands upon thousands of terrified fish throwing themselves onto an Ocracoke Island beach to escape the sharp teeth of ravenous migrating bluefish.

Social media videos showed the baitfish causing the surf to seemingly boil as they frantically tumbled over each other while tourists watched. Some visitors collected the free fish in buckets for later meals. The Tradewinds Tackle Shop said the “bluefish blitz” went on for a few days.

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Wildlife

Thousands of cannonball jellyfish wash ashore

Thousands of globular cannonball jellyfish (Stomolophus meleagris) have washed ashore along a stretch of North Carolina coastline in what is being dubbed a “jellyfish jamboree.”

The “large swarm” washed up along the northern edge of Ocracoke Island, one in a chain of islands that makes up the Outer Banks. The sudden influx of these squishy, stinger-less blobs coincides with the presence of red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), a species of saltwater fish that’s currently in the midst of spawning season — the fish’s larvae also happen to be the preferred snack for the jellyfish, according to the post.

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Wildlife

Climate change is driving monkeys and lemurs from trees to the ground

The stresses of warming temperatures and forest losses are driving dozens of species of monkeys and lemurs that normally shelter and feed high in the tree canopy to spend more time foraging on the forest floor, according to a study published Monday.

More than 100 scientists who spent some 151,000 hours observing animals across Madagascar and Central and South America found that the primates are risking exposure to new predators to escape the heat and find food, though they still spend the vast majority of their time in trees.

Those species most inclined to adapt to spending time on the ground — whether because they have more diverse diets, live in the relative safety of large groups or are physiologically more capable of ambling on the forest floor — are most likely to descend from the trees, and thus may be more likely to survive into the future.

The findings demonstrate how human-caused climate change is forcing animals to adapt and disrupting the ecological web they inhabit. As global warming accelerates and deforestation and wildfires spread, those primates less advantaged for such a transition will be increasingly imperiled.

Wildlife

Rewilding Europe

With wildlife suffering dramatic declines due to climate change and habitat loss, conservation efforts across Europe have seen several mammal species make strong comebacks.

A new report by the Zoological Society of London, BirdLife International and the European Bird Census Council for Rewilding Europe documents “exciting” recoveries.

Brown bears began to decline during the Roman Empire, but the report says their numbers have increased by 44% to more than 50,000 since 1960. Europe’s beavers started to decline in the 17th century due to hunting, with only about 1,200 still living by the 20th century. But between 1960 and 2016, their numbers increased by 16,000% as their range expanded.

Crabs vs Mussels

Warming waters of the English Channel due to climate change have allowed the normally migratory and ravenous spider crabs to infest the French coast most of the year and ravage its mussel population.

Mussel farmers in Normandy and Brittany are demanding they be allowed to use dredging nets to drag the crabs farther out to sea to protect their shellfish and livelihoods. “They are like a carpet moving slowly across the seabed, ravaging anything on the ground and leaving nothing in their wake,” said Vincent Godefroy, the president of the National Mytiliculteurs (mussel farmers) Group. He said his members first noticed the invasion about five years ago,

Environment

Australia to set aside at least 30% of its land mass to protect endangered species

Australia will set aside at least 30% of its land mass for conservation in a bid to protect plants and animals in the island continent famed for species found nowhere else in the world. Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent and has one of the worst rates of species decline among the world’s richest countries, a five-yearly environmental report card released in July by the government showed.

That report showed the number of species added to the list of threatened species or in a higher category of risk grew on average by 8% from the previous report in 2016.

Wildlife

Ant Kingdoms

German and Chinese researchers say they know the approximate number of ants currently crawling across the planet. Based on data from 489 ant studies, they determined there are 20 quadrillion individual ants, with a dry weight far heavier than that of all the wild birds and mammals on the planet combined. The number 20 quadrillion is 20 followed by 15 zeros.

For every human, there are nearly 2.5 million ants scurrying, eating and breeding across the landscape. “They are very important for nutrient cycling, decomposition processes, plant seed dispersal and the perturbation of soil,” said entomologist Patrick Schultheiss of Germany’s University of Würzburg.