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Three Rare Javan Rhino Calves Born

Three Rare Javan Rhino Calves Born

There was some good news on the rhino conservation front. According to a report by National Geographic, there is evidence which suggests the critically endangered Javan rhino is reproducing in Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park. The park serves as home to the last 60 Javan rhinos on the planet. Video taken from the park’s camera traps show there are now three new rhino calves. The footage shows there is cause to be optimistic says Barney Long director of species conservation for WWF who maintain the camera traps.

“It is evidence that Javan rhinos are reproducing in the wild, I think the key thing to remember is that [these] rhinos are recovering. The videos demonstrate that with the right conservation measures, you get more babies.” Mr. Long said in an interview with National Geographic.

The Javan Rhino Used To Roam Throughout Asia

The Javan rhino used to roam all the way from Northeastern India, throughout South East Asia including Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia as well as Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. Over the last 150 years, their range and population have declined drastically as a result of poaching and habitat loss. Today their last refuge remains the Ujung Kulon National Park. There is reason to have hope however. In the last 50 years, the population of Javan rhinos has slowly doubled, though there are two things that could affect the fate of the species. Close by too Ujung Kulon National Park is Anak Krakatau which is an active volcano which could erupt and wipe out the species. The second risk is that the number of Javan rhinos could reach the maximum number the park is physically able to sustain.

As populations rise birth rates fall

According to National Geographic, a female rhino gives birth to a calf once every three to five years, however when the population of rhinos becomes dense, the number drops off. In order to keep the Javan rhino birth rate stable as their numbers grow, Mr. Long says WWF is seeking another home for this rare species.

“We need a lot more attention paid to this species,” Long told National Geographic. “We can recover it, we know how to recover it … we just need to make sure the world is paying attention.”

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Rare Species Of Wallabies Spotted For The First Time In Two Decades


For the first time in two decades, the extremely rare black flanked wallaby has been spotted about 580 kilometres North of Perth in the Kalbarri National Park. The two marsupials which measure just 45cm high are also referred to as warru or black footed wallaby. The animals were photographed by a rock climber in a gorge back in August. Albert Jacob, the environment minister for Western Australia said it was obvious that these shy animals have been living in the national park unseen since 1995 when they were last sighted.

 “Despite extensive searches for the elusive species, they have not been seen there for 20 years, so it was amazing to discover they have survived after all this time,” he said.

Feral goats the main reason for disappearance

Mr. Jacob added that whilst the foxes and feral cats do prey on the wallaby, the main reason behind the disappearance from the park was thought to be the feral goat. This is because goats compete with wallabies for food and also push them out of the gorge area where they are hunted by cats and foxes.

 “The Department of Parks and Wildlife has undertaken aerial goat culling in the park since 2006, and has controlled goats to the extent that wallaby numbers will now be able to build up again.” Mr. Jacob added.

Conservation efforts being undertaken

The exact number of this elusive species in the wild is unknown, however they are listed as being vulnerable. In Western Australia, there are 14 known populations.  The Department of Parks and Wildlife has established camera traps and other types of monitoring methods to see if they can capture another glimpse of the wallabies.

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Sumatran Rhino On The Brink Of Extinction


The Sumatran rhino is very near extinction according to a leading conservation organisation. There are less than 100 of the animals left on Indonesian island of Sumatra’s rainforests and the Kalimantan province of Borneo. It has been nearly two years since the last Sumatran Rhino was spotted in the Sabah region of Borneo and experts have now declared the species extinct in Malaysia. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is now warning the future is far from bright for the fate of the species which could become extinct without urgent action.

 “It takes the rhino down to a single country,” said Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN’s species survival commission. “With the ongoing poaching crisis, escalating population decline and destruction of suitable habitat, extinction of the Sumatran rhino in the near future is becoming increasingly likely.”

Only 200 rhinos left

It is estimated that the Sumatran rhino has seen is population halve in just the last decade. The last census took place in 2008 and it estimated the number of Sumatran rhinos at roughly 250. Mr. Stuart says that with the benefit of hindsight, the true number was probably about 200. Poachers hunt these animals for their horn which is much more valuable than the horns of African rhinos.

 “For hundreds of years, we’ve been unable to stem the decline of this species. That’s due to poaching. It’s due to the fact they get to such a low density the animals don’t find each other and they don’t breed. It’s due to the fact that if the females don’t breed regularly, they develop these tumours in their reproductive tract that render them infertile,” he said.

Political and financial commitment required

Mr. Stuart says that a good plan has been developed on how to save the Sumatran rhino however Indonesia needs to make a political commitment and international donors need to finance it. The strategy includes a survey that would accurately identify the remaining animals and bring them together to help them breed and ensure they are protected from poachers with military like levels of security.

 “It’s a fantastic animal. It’s the weirdest of all the rhinos. They meow like a cat,” Stuart said. “No one is going to get rich on Sumatran rhinos other than those illegally trading in the horn. There are frankly no economic benefits to saving it, it’s just a moral obligation.”

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Story of The Starving Polar Bear

Story of The Starving Polar Bear

Last year, during the summer, a male polar bear that was completely emaciated was seen wandering across a large sheet of ice in the Svalbard Archipelago. Based on its size it appeared as if the bear had not eaten for many months. The polar bear was so lean that researchers placed it in the thinnest category to describe its level of fat stores. Human induced climate change has caused the sea ice to melt, making it harder and harder for bears to find prey.

Bear needs to find food

The bear needed to find food and to do it quickly. He spotted three bearded seals in the open seawater and saw his chance. Very slowly the polar bear slipped into the ocean and took aim at the closest seal in what is known as an “aquatic stalk”. This is a stealthy hunting technique used by polar bears to sneak up on their prey. They first glide through the water without making a sound and locate the exact position of a seal before diving and then attacking it from below.

The aquatic stalk

Most bears will surface periodically to see whether they are aiming for the correct place, often hunting behind ice chunks. This polar bear however did not. The first seal may have been warned by the splash of the bear as it began to examine its surroundings. 32 seconds after the polar bear first began to dive the seal too disappeared under water. The second seal was perhaps 12-13 metres further away.

Under water for over three minutes

After over three minutes the bear exploded out of the water propelling himself halfway onto the ice exactly in front of the second seal say researchers. The hunt was observed by Rinie van Meurs an eco tourism guide as well as the ship’s captain, his crew and several passengers. A team actually filmed the unsuccessful hunt and were later able to confirm the polar bear was submerged for a total of three minutes and ten seconds.

The longest observed dive

To date this was the longest observed dive for a polar bear. The previous record was set in 1970 and lasted 70 seconds. Despite its efforts things did not go well for the bear that had to stay hungry. Whilst he managed to grab one of the seal’s flippers momentarily, he was unable to catch it. Instead the polar bear was forced to watch his pretty swim away whilst he rested on the ice panting heavily before turning back to the water to look for more seals.

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Zebra Stripes Do Not Help When It Comes To Evading Predators

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Despite what most people think, zebra stripes do not help them evade predators. According to a new study their distinctive pattern may even make them easier to catch instead of making it harder. The research debunks the theory that zebra stripes offer what is known as motion dazzle which is thought to have evolved in animals like zebras and was even used to camouflage ships during the two World Wars.

Human trials

The study consisted of people playing a computer game in which they were required to capture targets. It was found that humans were able to capture striped targets more easily than grey targets when there were several targets present. This contradicts previous assumptions about the evolution of stripes when it was thought that stripes made it harder to capture a single animal moving in a group like zebras.

Stripes make animals more conspicuous

Stripes and other contrast markings make animals very conspicuous which one would expect would make them much more visible to stalking predators. It is argued that perhaps movement is the reason for the evolution of such patterns. The thinking is that contrast markings may help to confuse predators which limits the likelihood of being captured and killed. This concept is known as ‘motion dazzle’.

Horizontal stripes the easiest to capture

The study involved 60 human participants, each of whom played a game to test how much stripes influenced their perception of moving targets. The game required the participants to ‘catch’ moving targets that appeared on a touch screen in two scenarios. The first was when there was only a single target on the screen and the second scenario was when there were several targets that appeared simultaneously. It was found that horizontal striped single targets were present, they were easier to capture than any other type of target. When multiple targets were presented, any target with a stripe regardless of its orientation was much more easily captured than uniform grey targets

“Motion may just be one aspect in a larger picture. Different orientations of stripe patterning may have evolved for different purposes. The evolution of pattern types is complex, for which there isn’t one over-ruling factor, but a multitude of possibilities,” said Anna Hughes of the University of Cambridge who led the study.

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Northern White Rhino On The Brink Of Extinction

Northern White Rhino On The Brink Of Extinction

There are only three females and one male Northern white rhinos left in the world and none have the ability to naturally reproduce. This has means that the species is quite literally on the brink of extinction and the only hope for the species to perpetuate itself is through in vitro fertilisation. Unfortunately this procedure has never been carried out successfully in the past, leaving scientists very worried.

GoFundMe campaign launched

Recently a GoFundMe campaign has been launched by the Ol Pejeta Conservancy which is East Africa’s largest black rhino sanctuary in combination with the Dvůr Králové Zoo in Czech Republic. The money raised will be used to finance the further development of IVF for the Northern white rhino which is seen as a last minute effort to save the species from extinction. It is estimated that the development, testing and implementation of an IVF technique and embryo transfer will cost somewhere in the region of US$800,000

“If the remaining females die before this method has been developed, one of the last chances to save the northern white rhinos will vanish,” the conservation partners stated.

Only one male left

The last Northern white male rhino in existence is named after his birthplace Sudan, but lives in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, in Kenya. Sudan is now 42 years old which is very advanced for a rhino. This means the probability of him successfully reproducing with a female is close to nil.

In vitro fertilisation is the only hope

The only hope for the species to survive possible extinction is to develop assisted methods of reproduction which would enable new Northern white rhino calves to be born. The females that are left have reproductive issues as well, but it is hoped that IVF and an embryo transfer is still possible. Scientists are hoping to combine stored Northern white sperm with eggs from the remaining female that could be carried by surrogate Southern white rhino females. Experts say there is no guarantee the methods they employ will work. If they are successful however, the whole rhino sub species could be saved.

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Global Warming Causing Walruses En Masse To Migrate To Alaskan Beaches

Global Warming Causing Walruses En Masse To Migrate To Alaskan Beaches

Walruses are being adversely affected by global warming which is causing sea ice that they use to melt and in the process forces them to congregate on a remote island in Alaska near Point Lay. A decade ago people who lived in Point Lay said at most only a handful of walruses used to come ashore every year, however now walruses are arriving en mass every summer.

30,000 walruses

In 2014 over 30,000 walruses landed on the shore, which was a record. It is too early to tell whether this year’s haul will be more. What can be said is that of the nine events that have taken place in previous years, this year’s haul is the third earliest according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The event started on August 20th locals said.

Ice is melting

Jim MacCracken who is a biologist that works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that surface and air temperatures in Arctic have risen perhaps twice as fast as they have in lower latitudes. This has meant the ice is melting at both a faster rate and earlier every year, whilst the freeze up is starting later. When the ice is completely melted the Walruses are being forced on shore and hauling out.

Obama will be visiiting

President Obama will be making the first every trip by a U.S. President to the Alaskan Arctic later this month. He will be visiting Kotzebue which lies just 200 miles south of where the walruses congregate. The White House is saying the president will be using the occasion top see first hand the effects of climate change

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Just 106 Wild Tigers Left In Bangladesh

Just 106 Wild Tigers Left In Bangladesh

There are as little as 100 Royal Bengal tigers now living in Bangladesh’s Sunderbans forest which is much less that what was previously through according to the latest data. Based on a survey that made use of hidden cameras, forestry officials counted 106 wild tigers on the Bangladeshi side of the largest mangrove swamp in the world. It is estimated that on the Indian side there are about 74 tigers left.

Disappointing numbers

The numbers are incredibly disappointing, and mark a decline from 10 years ago when there were 440 tigers recorded. Experts say the fall in numbers is due to rampant poaching. They add however that numbers also represent the fact the surveying techniques are much more accurate. In previous counts, tiger paw prints which are unique to each tiger were used to count tigers. Hidden camera produce lower numbers that are more accurate. Gangs are killing tigers to profit from the trade in skins and body parts.

“The numbers have declined largely because of poaching, which is the main threat to the tigers in Sunderbans. The threat comes not only from stray poaching, which is rampant, but also from organised gangs of poachers. Unless we have an independent, dedicated anti-poaching unit, the future is not bright for the tigers in Bangladesh.” Dr Anwarul Islam, Professor of Zoology at Dhaka University said.

Less than 2,300 tigers left in the wild

There are less than 2,300 Bengal tigers left in the wild. These tigers roam mainly in Bangladesh and India however there are small populations that live in Myanmar, China, Bhutan and Nepal. The Sunderbans is a piece of land that is 10,000 square kilometres of dense forest that straddles Bangladesh and India.

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New Device Could Change The Way Conservationists Respond To Poachers

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Elephants, tigers and rhinos could all be saved from the threat of poaching by a collar which monitors their heart rates combined with a video camera and a global-tracking device. According to Paul O’Donoghue, chief scientific adviser for British conservation company Protect, the instant a poaching event occurs, the heart rate monitor will trigger an alarm that pinpoints the animal’s location within a few metres. This essentially means park rangers can be at the scene of the event within minutes by helicopter leaving not enough time for poachers to harvest the animal parts or make an escape.

Lots of animals being poached

Last year there were 1,215 rhinos illegally killed in South Africa which was a record. Since 2010 the elephant population in Tanzania has fallen by an astonishing 60 per cent as a result of increased poaching. The number of tigers left in the wild in countries such as India and Vietnam are falling. The good news is that Protect is ready to start testing the invention in the field.

“We finally have the technology to catch these people red handed, and if they know that, then they’ll think twice before killing another beautiful rhino. Finally we might have a fighting chance of saving this astonishing species from extinction.” Ricky Gervais, British comedian, actor and anti-poaching activist, said in the statement.

Device could be a game changer

Most of the last remaining rhinos in the world live in South Africa and poaching is on the rise. Demand for their horns has increased in countries such as Vietnam and China because of the misguided belief that they can cure diseases such as cancer. Dean Peinke, specialist mammal ecologist for the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency in South Africa says that it requires a lot of resources to patrol the vast landscapes and poachers still manage to find a way through. He adds that these devices may tip the balance in the conservationist favour. If poaching events can be identified as they happen, the response can be much faster and it may become possible to apprehend the poachers.

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Global Warming Is Leaving Polar Bears Starving

Global Warming Is Leaving Polar Bears Starving

Polar bears have not been able to adapt to warmer summers in the Arctic which has meant that less food is available. Previously scientists thought that the bears would enter into a type of walking hibernation when deprived of food, however the latest research suggests that when food is scarce in hotter conditions, polar bears simply starve.

Lack of sea ice is the problem

The authors of the research says prospects for the species survival in a world which is much warmer are grim. In 2008, polar bears were listed as being a threatened species in the United States. Back then the government agency responsible for conservation highlighted the fact that the greatest threat the species faced is the dramatic decline in sea ice. Polar bears mainly feed on seals which are hunted on the sea ice. However because of the reduction in sea ice, there has been a reduction in seal numbers which means the bears are finding it hard to find food to feed on.

Walking hibernation

In the past some scientists have suggested that the polar bear would be able to survive with less food by entering into a state which they call walking hibernation which is very similar to the way many species of bear deal with the winter. Researchers embarked on a very dangerous and expensive trial to test this idea, attaching satellite collars and other tracking devices to track the movements of bears.

The study looked at over 24 bears in the in the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska and it was concluded during the summer months, the bears did not slow down and when food was in short supply, they simply starved.

“Their metabolism is very much like a typical food limited mammal rather than a hibernating bear. If you or I were to be food-limited for weeks on end we would look like the bears’ data.” said John Whiteman from the University of Wyoming.

Polar bears have an amazing ability to swim

Whilst the bears were unable to change how they behave when it comes to food, they do display an an amazing adaptation which enables them to swim in cold water. Polar bears can allow their outermost portion of the body to cool off which keeps their inner most vital organs protected said Dr. Whiteman. The researchers gave one example of the extraordinary swimming ability of polar bears with one female surviving a nine day, 400 mile swim from shore to ice. When the bear was next captured about two months later, she had lost 22 per cent of her body weight and a cub.

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