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Man Fends Off Cougar Attack On His Pet Dog

Cougar Attack

If anyone should be considered for “Pet Owner of the Year” it should be Will Gibb. Mr Gibb deserves the award after managing to save his dog named Sasha by fighting off multiple attacks from a cougar. Yes, you heard that correctly! He single-handedly managed to ward off a cougar in attack mode. Mr Gibb rather innocently allowed his two husky’s Sasha and Mongo off his truck and into a Tim Horton’s parking lot where he was meeting his friend. A cougar suddenly appeared and attacked Sasha and Mr Gibb heard his cries and ran to investigate.

“I saw something wrapped around her so I ran up and punched it in the side of the head. at that point I realised it was a cougar.” Gibb said, in an interview.

Punching a cougar

He then punched the cougar on its head to save Sasha. If the story ended there it would still be incredible but that is only half the tale. After punching the cougar Mr Gibb tried to shoo the big cat back into the woods following which he turned his back to tend to his dog who naturally was quite rattled from the attack and ended up biting him. The cougar then reappeared and began its attack on Sasha again.

“[Sasha] was fighting for her life, and I was trying to keep the cougar at bay with my right, and it was pawing at me and I was throwing punches at it.”

To summarise, on boxing day there was a man in a Tim Horton’s parking lot with a dog latched on to his right hand trying to fend off a cougar attack with his left hand. The story continues with Sasha running off at which point the cougar turned its attention to Mr Gibb second dog Mongo who was also in the parking lot.

“I could see the cougar going for him, so I got between him and the cougar and started swinging and screaming at it, and called for my brother and friend to come give a hand,” Gibb said. “And then I reached down for the closest, biggest stick that I could find and I ran back into the trees to go fight the cougar.”

All’s well that ends well

After managing to fend off three attacks from a big cat, the animal made a retreat back into the woods. Mr Gibb rushed his dog to a vet who treated her for bite wounds and cuts but is otherwise unharmed and recovering well. Mr Gibb had some cuts on his arms. The cougar was found by police in the woods and put down.

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World’s Oldest Captive Panda Passes Away

Bei Bei The Panda Unveiled To The General Public

The world’s oldest living captive male panda died at the end of last year. Pan Pan was extremely virile and a quarter of all captive pandas can trace their origins back to Pan Pan. The panda is survived by more than 130 direct descendants living in zoos all over the world. Pan Pan’s nick name was “hero father” passed away on Wednesday 28th December in Sichuan Province China said the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Great Panda. By the time he reached 31 years of age, Pan Pan was the equivalent of a 100 year old human.

Extremely virile

Pan Pan was born in the wild back in 1985 and was brought to the facility in Sichuan province at just 2 months old according to a Chinese newspaper report. Pan Pan was well known for both his strength and agility. His most important quality however was his virility which was critical in growing the global population of pandas. The Huaxi City Daily, a Chinese newspaper says that Pan Pan was only one of four males with the ability to engage in natural mating during the late 80’s and early 90’s. He first became a father in 1991 and has since then sired many more direct descendants until old age prevented him from further breeding.

Quarter of all captive pandas can trace their origin back to Pan Pan

As was said earlier, there are now more than 130 pandas in zoos all over the world that can trace their origin back to Pan Pan and it is estimated that a quarter of all captive pandas around the world are from Pan Pan’s lineage. Some notable descendants incline Bai Yun who currently lives at the San Diego Zoo in California as well as Tai Shan and Hua Mei both born in the United States and subsequently returned to China.

Died of cancer

The Panda Research Centre’s official Weibo account stated the grand old panda’s health was deteriorating over the last year as a result of cancer. The illness took its final turn just a few days before Pan Pan passed away. Pan Pan’s death was preceded by the death of the oldest living captive female panda, Jia Jia in Hong Kong earlier in the year.

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Giraffe’s Are Now Vulnerable To Extinction

giraffe status changed

Over the last 3 decades there has been a dramatic drop in the number of wild giraffes. The drop has been so precipitous that the world’s tallest land mammal is now being classified as vulnerable to extinction. To get a sense of how grave the situation is, in 1985 there were approximately 155,000 wild giraffes. That number has fallen to 97,000 in 2015 says the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The reasons behind the drop are poaching, habitat loss and civil war in parts of the African continent.

A change in status

Until recently the IUCN had considered the status of giraffes as “least concern” however, in its latest Red List of threatened species the organisation reclassified the species as “vulnerable” which means that in over three generations the population of the species has fallen by more than 30%. Dr Julian Fennessy who is part of the giraffe specialist group at the IUCN says that we are witnessing a “silent extinction” of the species.

“If you go on a safari, giraffes are everywhere. While there have been great concern about elephants and rhinos, giraffes have gone under the radar but, unfortunately, their numbers have been plummeting, and this is something that we were a little shocked about, that they have declined by so much in so little time.”

Human encroachment

The growth in human populations has meant that more land is now used for farming or other types of development. This means that the giraffe’s range has become extremely fragmented in large parts of Africa. Civil unrest has also had a major impact on giraffe numbers. Dr Fennessy adds that in war torn areas giraffes are basically war fodder. It is basically a large animal that can feed a lot of people

Solutions exist

It is believed by researchers that local populations of giraffes may not make it, however they are also optimistic about the species long term future which they think can be secured.  For example, giraffe numbers in Southern Africa have been kept high and that success boils down to how the game parks are managed for tourists. Experts also believe the additional attention resulting from the IUCN listing will benefit the species.

Take the right conservation steps

Chris Ransom of the Zoological Society of London says a good example is South Africa which has managed wildlife where lots of animals are moving between different conservation areas. The situation in the rest of Africa however is very different. Mr Ransom says he believes giraffes will be able to survive provided the right conservation steps are taken. The most recent edition of the IUCN Red List now contains 85,000 species of which 24,000 are at risk of extinction.

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Burmese Python Kills And Eats Three Deer In Florida

Florida Seeks To Get Rid Of Invasive Burmese Python

A Burmese python living in the Florida Everglades seems to have developed a tasted for venison, gobbling three whole deer including one doe and two fawns. The python was stopped from its rampage by wildlife officials who captured and euthanized the snake according to the results of a new study. The feat actually represents a new record because it is the first time an invasive species of snake (Burmese python) has been caught with three deer in its gut said one of the lead authors of the study Scott Boback.

90 day killing spree

It is quite likely that the python killed and ate the deer at different times over a three month period Mr Boback said. Whilst 90 days may seem like a long time it is actually quite rare for snakes to eat three enormous meals within such a relatively short time span he adds.

“If a python is capable of eating three deer in three months,” what else are they eating that we don’t know about, he asked. “We don’t even know how many of them are out there [in the Everglades].”

No one knows how the python arrived in Florida

The Burmese python as its name would suggest is native to South-East Asia. However, they managed to establish themselves in the Florida Everglades during the 90’s and till date no one knows how that happened. The snakes can grow as long as 18 feet in the Everglades. In South-East Asia the species has been known to grow up to 26 feet long. Burmese Pythons use their muscles which are incredibly powerful to wrap themselves around prey constricting its blood flow until circulation ceases.

Deer trio

We still don’t know how the python was able to attack the deer, but it is theorised the python might have hidden itself in water, waiting for the deer to stop and take a drink. This would have left the deer vulnerable to a strike from the snake Mr Boback said. The snake was a 15.6 feet female and had almost completely digested its three huge meals before being captured. An autopsy conducted on the snake showed the snake had an empty stomach but had intestines filled with poop.

Python invasion

Pythons have huge appetites and have wreaked havoc on the ecosystem of the Everglades Mr Boback said. The snakes hunt and kill other species that are native to the region including mammals birds and at least on one occasion an American alligator.  Other studies have shown there is a relationship between the presence of pythons and a drop in the number of mammals. The latest study shows that it is possible for pythons to eat more than one deer within a short time span.


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Orangutan Achieves A Guinness World Record

Indonesian Wildfires Threatening Orangutans Of Borneo

A Sumatran Orangutan that lives at the Perth Zoo in Western Australia has been awarded the Guinness World record for being the oldest of her species in the world. The irony is she couldn’t care less. Puan is a 60-year-old female orangutan and is matriarch of the zoo’s orangutan colony. She was born in 1956 and has been at the zoo since 1968 after being presented as a gift by Malaysia’s Sultan of Johore.

Curmudgeonly great grandmother

Puan is a great grandmother that is famous for her attitude which her keepers say is a curmudgeonly introverted type who does not get on well with others. Puan has played an extremely important role in the zoo’s breeding and release program which has been very successful. Her main handler Martina Hart said in a statement that the orangutan has no problem telling you off and stamping her feet if her food is delayed too long. Ms Hart adds that nevertheless, Puan is the grand old dame of the zoo’s colony and all her keepers treat her with the respects that befits a woman of her age.

Queen of everything

Puan is considered the queen of everything and spends her days bathing in the sun eating lovely food that is fresh from the farm and staying low on the ground. She no longer like to climb these days. In the wild it is extremely rare that a female Sumatran orangutan will live past 50, so reaching the grand old age of 60 is a real achievement and makes Puan an international treasure. The Sumatran orangutan is critically endangered in the wild because of deforestation and poaching. Palm oil and rubber plantations have been replacing what used to be pristine rainforest which is a real shame.

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Three Pygmy Marmosets Stolen From A Wildlife Park In Australia

pygmy marmoset

At the end of last month, three pygmy marmosets were stolen from an Australian wildlife park. The species is incredibly rare so losing them was very bad news. The good news was whilst the marmosets were reported missing from their enclosure at Symbio Wildlife Park in South Sydney, the female marmoset Sophia and a baby were found alive the very next day. However, Gomez a male marmoset continues to remain missing.

Rare species

The pygmy marmoset is the smallest species of monkey in the world and people are prepared to spend as much as A$5,000 on the black market to acquire them. According to police, two men were pulled over in a car Southwest of Sydney and they were surprised to find the four-week old baby marmoset in the vehicle.  Police charged the two men aged 23 and 26 but are still on the hunt for the people that were actually responsible for the thefts. The adult female marmoset was found roughly 20 kilometres away in Campbletown.

The baby could have died

Zoo keepers were worried that the baby marmoset which has still not been named would die within 48 hours because it would not have been able to feed from its mother. Fortunately, the little critter was found just in time. John Radnidge who owns the wildlife park said the monkey was resting. According to Mr Radnidge, he was extremely frightened but his condition was reasonable.

“You cannot keep a critically endangered species without being detected. If you have the world’s smallest monkey in your home people are going to wonder where you got it.” Mr. Radnidge said.

Asking the public for help

It is believed that because it is the Chinese Year of the Monkey, demand for the species has spiked. Marmosets are a species that are native to South America. Police have reached out to the general public to help them find the third monkey.

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Panda Status As Endangered Has Been Reclassified

Bei Bei The Panda Unveiled To The General Public

A top global conservation groups has taken the giant panda off its endangered species list. This is a great result and is the product of decades of conservation efforts. Despite this fact, the Government of China refused to accept the decision claiming the situation of the country’s most beloved symbol is no less serious.

Wild panda populations growing

Last week the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) issued a report which reclassified the giant panda as a “vulnerable” rather than “endangered” species. The decision reflects the fact that the species population in the wild has been growing in Southern China. According to the IUCN, wild panda numbers rose from 1,596 in 2004 to 1,864 in 2014. The rise is the result of the work Chinese conservation agencies have been putting in to enforcing bans on poaching and expanding forest reserves.

Climate change is a spoiler

Despite the good news the report also warned that whilst better forest protection had increased the population of wild pandas, climate change is going to eliminate as much as 35 per cent of the species natural bamboo habitat. In a statement China’s State Forestry Administration said it did not agree with the reclassification because the species natural habitat has been fragmented by both human and natural causes. This means that pandas live in small, isolated groups with as few as 10 bears that find it difficult to reproduce and still face the risk of extinction.

“If we downgrade their conservation status, or neglect or relax our conservation work, the populations and habitats of giant pandas could still suffer irreversible loss and our achievements would be quickly lost,” the forestry administration said. “Therefore, we’re not being alarmist by continuing to emphasise the panda species’ endangered status.”

Conservation groups thrilled

Despite the Chinese Government’s pessimism, animal groups hailed the recovery of the black-and-white bear that has long been a symbol of the global movement for conservation as well as China itself. The species population reached an approximate low of just under 1,000 during the 1980’s due to poaching and deforestation. Beijing then decided throw its entire weight behind efforts to preserve the panda. The animal was sent to a number of zoos around the world. WWF whose logo has been a panda since 1961 has revelled in the reclassification and says it proves that aggressive investment does produce dividends.

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Anti-Poaching Team Save Drowning Elephant

African Elephants Could Become Extinct Within Decades

A couple of members of ant-poaching team were patrolling Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park early in the morning when they chanced upon a truly awful sight according to National Geographic. Tom Lautenbach one of the members of the patrol said to their surprise they noticed four very large grey legs sticking out of the man-made water trough, which was established to provide clean drinking water. Mr Lautenbach adds that they then realised the legs belonged to an elephant.

Assumed elephant was dead

Mr Lautenbach and his colleague Gift Kgadima both of whom work as drone pilots from the anti-poaching team known as Air Shepard first assumed the elephant had been killed by poachers who have been known to drop kilos of cyanide into popular watering holes frequented by elephants. However, the sad sight became one of optimism when the upside-down elephant began to thrashing about. The team realised the elephant was not dead but it was at risk of drowning.

 “One of the guys held its trunk out [of the water so it could breathe] and [another] went for help, If we had not seen it, [it] would have been dead 20 minutes later” One of the rescuers said in an Air Shepherd post on Facebook.

Call for help

The drone pilots first attempted to save the elephant by tying a rope around its foot and physically drag it out of the water using their vehicle. However, that strategy did not work and they called for help from the National Park. Another rope was brought to the scene along with a team of rescuers who were then able to pull the animal to its feet.

Exhausted elephant

Mr Lautenbach says the elephant was of course exhausted and was unable to stand initially, so the team waited for the elephant to recover and then decided to push the animal towards the shallower end of the trough where he would be able to easily able to walk away, which he ended up doing. Air Shepard crews have been flying drones in South Africa’s iconic Kruger National Park to combat poachers for about four years. The team makes use of silent drones which fly at night making them incredibly hard to detect. Word has spread that drones are being used in a particular area amongst criminals often driving them away.

Sitting targets

During the dry season, which is taking place now, animals tend to congregate around watering holes making them easy targets for poachers. As a result, Air Shepard patrols those areas. In particular, the watering holes which are near villages or the watering holes that are the easiest for poachers to get to. Fortunately, this time around the young elephant wasn’t killed by poachers and the story has a happy ending.

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India’s Most Loved Lion Dies

Lions On The Lose In Nairobi

According to a report by the BBC, one of India’s most loved lions as well as its oldest passed away in the wild from old age. The lion named Ram was found dead at the Gir sanctuary in Western Giujarat. Ram’s age was estimated to be approximately 15 years old. He was very popular with forest officials who described Ram as being both “beautiful and flamboyant”. They added that Ram was without a doubt their most photographed lion.

Died from natural causes

The Gir sanctuary serves as home to over 500 lions and is the only place in the world where the Asiatic lion can be found. Ram along with his brother Shyam were extremely famous and over the last few years, ruled over the Gir forest. Forest officials conducted a post mortem on Ram to determine the exact cause of death and found that he died from natural causes. Ram was cremated in the presence of government and forest officials according to Mr Ram Ratan Nala who is the deputy conservator of forests.

“Ram along with his brother Shyam ruled over Gir for many years and the two fathered many cubs over the years. At one point, the duo had about two dozen cubs in their pride,” Sandeep Kumar, who was Mr Nala’s predecessor, said.

Named after a Bollywood film

The two brothers were named Ram and Shyam which are very popular names in India but also served as the name of a Bollywood film that was big hit. In contrast to tigers who are not sociable animals and refuse to share their territory with other males, lions tend to form alliances with another male member of their family. Together the two males will act as protector of their territory said Mr Kumar.

Territory likely to be taken over by younger males

Mr Kumar adds that every kingdom must eventually come to an end. In this case Ram has died and Syam is not getting any younger and it will be extremely difficult to protect his territory now that Ram is gone. It is extremely likely that the territory will be taken over soon by younger male lions.

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WWF Report Claims We Are losing Wildlife At An Alarming Rate

Global Warming Is Leaving Polar Bears Starving

A new report by WWF claims that as many as two thirds of the worlds wildlife could be extinct by the end of the decade if action is not taken immediately. Since 1970, 58 per cent of the numbers of fish, mammals, birds and reptiles have already disappeared says the latest bi-annual Living Planet Index commissioned by WWF. If that figure is accurate, it means that wildlife across the planet is disappearing at the rate of 2 per cent a year.

WWF conservation scientist Martin Taylor says the cause is definitely human impact and it is safe to say we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction.  The main reason is because humans are using so much of the planet’s resources that we are destroying animal habitat. The report reiterates much of what Mr Taylor says and blames rapid extinction on loss of habitat, over exploitation of resources, pollution and climate change.

 A threat to our future

One of the species mentioned in the report are elephants whose population has declined by as much as 20 per cent in just ten years. Other species that have seen big declines include sharks and rays. Mr Taylor says the decline of species of animals and fish around the world do not just represent a threat to biodiversity, but to humans as well.  He adds that governments need to take action to halt the decline in biodiversity.

In order to prevent a sixth mass extinction, Mr Taylor says that government need to act immediately to reduce emissions and stop habitat destruction. There is a lot of things people can do even if they are not wealthy. This includes using renewable energy, purchasing certified sustainable products and most importantly talking to your member of parliament and asking for stronger environmental laws.

Report findings criticised

Many conservationists agree with the overall findings, but argue the results of the report could be misleading. Stuart Pimm of Drake University says it is fairly silly to claim there has been a 58 per cent decline in wildlife populations. This is because it combines what is going on in the ocean with what is happening on land. It mixes the study of bird populations in Europe with mammal populations in Africa and the report has very few data points about what is happening in South America. Mr Taylor responds that WWF has been extremely transparent about the data’s variability.

 “There’s always going to be criticisms, we know that there’s a lot of variability in the data and that’s all expressed quite openly in the report itself … we know that this not an easy task to try and aggregate numbers across an entire planet,” he said.

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