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Leopards Have Lost An Awful Lot Of Their Historic Range

Leopards Have Lost An Awful Lot Of Their Historic Range

Leopards all over the world have lost about 75 per cent of their historic range the results of a new survey suggest. The survey is the first effort at getting a sense of the leopard’s global paw print. The survey was conducted in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London, Panthera and National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative. The researchers looked at over 1,300 sources of information regarding the leopard’s historic and current ranges.

Not a pleasant picture

The results of the survey did not present a pleasant picture for the Panthera Pardus and its nine subspecies. The survey results showed that today the leopard occupies a range of 3.3. million square miles which is substantially less than its historic range of 13.5 million square miles. Andrew Jacobson of ZSL who was the lead author of the study says the results challenge the conventional assumption that the species is relatively abundant and not seriously threatened.

The species has all but disappeared in some parts of the world

The research team emphasised the fact the leopards have all but disappeared in several parts of Asia and the species continues to struggle throughout Africa. They add that more attention needs to be paid to subspecies which are most at-risk.

“We found that while leopard research was increasing, the research effort was primarily on the subspecies with the most remaining range, whereas subspecies that are most in need of urgent attention were neglected. Of these subspecies, the Javan leopard (P. p. melas) is currently classified as critically endangered by the IUCN, while another — the Sri Lankan leopard (P. p. kotiya) — is classified as endangered, highlighting the urgent need to understand what can be done to arrest these worrying declines.”the authors wrote

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Tiger Poaching On The Rise

Tiger Poaching On The Rise

The good news is the global population of wild tigers is on the rise. The bad news according to the Wildlife Protection Society of India is that poaching is also on the rise. According to a census report released last month, the number of tigers that have been illegally killed in 2016 already exceeds the total tally in 2015. As of the end of April, at least 28 tigers have been killed or seized which is 3 greater than last year’s final count.

Census results troubling

The results of the report are troubling particularly for environmental groups who have worked hard in recent years to curb the illegal killing or capture of wild tigers. One program called Guardians of the Wild has been working since 2011 to train as many as 7,000 wildlife guards to investigate poaching activity. That represents almost a third of India’s total anti-poaching force. Tito Joseph the group’s program manager says he is extremely worried by the statistics.

Black market trade

Tiger meat and bones are trafficked on the black market for use in ancient Chinese medicine, whilst tiger skins are bought and sold as luxury items. According to the report poachers use guns, steel traps, poison and even electrocution in order to kill their prey. The results of the census come less than year after another report suggested that the global population of wild tigers rose from 3,200 an all-time low in 2010 to 3,890 in 2015. To put those numbers into context, at the start of last century, there were at least 100,000 tigers roaming in the wild says WWF.

Law enforcement concerned

According to the last count, the largest population of wild tigers is in India which has over 2,200 of the big cats roaming from the Southern tip of Kerala, to West Bengal’s Eastern swamps. People caught poaching tigers in the wild face up to three years in prison and fines in excess of hundreds of thousands of dollars. For his part Mr. Joseph says it will only be possible to stop poaching when there is coordinated intelligence led enforcement.

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Chacha The Chimp Attempts Daring Escape From Japanese Zoo

Chacha The Chimp Attempts Daring Escape From Japanese Zoo

A chimpanzee living in a zoo in Northern Japan made a daring escape and climbed up an electricity pole before he was hit by a sedative dart, falling harmlessly from the wires into a blanket held by rescue workers. Chacha the chimp survived falling from a great height with just a few minor cuts and bruises zoo officials said. The whole encounter thrilled Japan however, with television viewers glued to their screens as Chacha managed to evade capture and swung from power lines in a high state of agitation.

Didn’t get very far

Chacha’s escape lasted for nearly two hours following his disappearance from Sendai’s Yagiyama zoological park. The city is set to play host to the G7 finance minister’s meeting which will take place this month. Electricity to 1,848 homes had to be turned off briefly during the incident according to Tohoku Electric Power Company. Witnesses say the chimp was able to climb over the wall of his enclosure and then made a dash for freedom by climbing up a telephone pole and leaping on to power lines. Chacha didn’t get very far and was captured just 250 metres away from the zoo.

Shot by tranquilliser dart

Television footage showed the chimp sat atop a pole clearly agitated and screaming at his handlers below. One zoo worker shot Chacha in the back with a dart that sent him running along the wires. The chimp managed to pull the dart out but it had already delivered a dose of sedative. Chacha then appeared to lose his grip as the sedative began to take effect and suddenly fell head first into the blanket. Chacha is a middle aged chimp and zoo officials say he will feel the effects of the sedative for a couple of days but will completely recover.

Japanese television viewers captivated by great escape

Japanese viewers were transfixed by the entire episode which took place just a few weeks after another animal breakout which was also televised and occurred in Gifu prefecture. At the end of March, a zebra went on the rampage on a golf course, chased by portly policemen after breaking out of a nearby horse riding farm. That escape did not end well with the zebra drowning after falling into the water following being hit by a tranquilliser dart.

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Inky The Octopus Makes Daring Escape From Aquarium

Inky The Octopus Makes Daring Escape From Aquarium

An octopus living in a New Zealand aquarium has made a daring dash for freedom and is now believed to be roaming in the Pacific Ocean. Inky the octopus apparently took the opportunity to escape through a small gap in the enclosure he was being housed in at the National Aquarium in Napier. Remarkably Inky was able to squeeze himself out through the gap and then slide across the floor to a drainpipe that is 15cm wide which fortunately for him, ends up in the sea. Rob Yarrall who manages the aquarium said that following maintenance work, the lid of the tank was left ajar.

“He managed to make his way to one of the drain holes that go back to the ocean and off he went – didn’t even leave us a message,” Mr. Yarrall said in an interview with Radio New Zealand.

Octopuses have amazing ability to shrink

Following the great escape members of the aquarium staff found octopus tracks which revealed the route taken by Inky to escape. The breakout happened much earlier in the year but was only reported by the zoo recently. Inky has a body which is about the size of a rugby ball but he is extremely squishy which means he has the ability to pass through what seem like impossible gaps. Even large octopus have the ability to shrink right down to the size of their mouth which is the only hard part of the species body.

First time this has ever happened

Of the two octopuses housed at the aquarium, only Inky decide to attempt an escape which leaves his buddy behind. Mr. Yarrell said the situation was most unusual and this was the first time he had ever experienced an escape at the aquarium. Now he is a little wiser he says he will be keeping a closer eye on the other octopus.

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WWF Thrilled That Wild Tiger Numbers Are On The Rise


According to the latest data from WWF and the Global Tiger Forum the world’s population of tigers in the wild has increased from an all-time low of 3,200 to 3,890. WWF expressed its pleasure at the latest statistics with the organisation’s international director-general, Marco Lambertini saying that after decades of constant decline, for the first time, the number of wild tigers is on the rise. In fact, this is the first time the global wild tiger population has risen since 1900 when there were 100,000.

Most tigers are in India

More than half the world’s wild tiger population are in India. It is estimated that as many as 2,226 live in reserves that are spread across 18 states according to a census performed in 2014. There was also an increase in tiger numbers across Russia, Nepal and Bhutan. Whilst experts were pleased they urged caution because some of the increase may be attributed to better data gathering techniques as well as improved protection.

Steep declines throughout Asia

In 2010 Bangladesh saw a steep decline in tigers from 440 in 2010 to just 106 last year, however conservationists believe this could be attributed to an over estimate of the population in 2010. In Indonesia, tiger numbers have dropped precipitously as a result of intense habitat destruction. Cambodia is thinking about re-introducing the species after recently declaring them functionally extinct. There has been no evidence of the big cat in the country since 2007. Deforestation and habitat destruction as well as poaching have devastated tiger numbers throughout Asia.



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Recently Discovered Sumatran Rhino Dies In Captivity

WWF Worried By Rhino Poaching

Less than a month after being discovered and captured, a rare Sumatran rhino has died. According to Indonesian environmental officials, the female rhino died of an infection to her leg. Arnold Sitompul WWF’s Indonesian conservation director says the death it still being investigated however it appears as if the infection was severe and was most likely caused by snares from an earlier poaching event. The death is tragic because the rhino’s discovery was hailed as a success as the species had thought to be extinct in the region.

 “This demonstrates the threats faced by the Sumatran rhino and underscores why we need to continue our efforts with the strong support of the government and other experts to save the remaining population of Sumatran rhinos in the area,” Mr. Sitompul said.

Numbers have declined dramatically

Of the five species of rhinoceros, the Sumatran rhino is the smallest and hairiest. Sumatran rhinos were once ubiquitous throughout South-East Asia, however poaching and habitat destruction caused by agriculture and mining has resulted in a dramatic fall in their numbers. Last year they were declared by the Malaysian part of Borneo as being extinct in the wild. Conservationists could not tell whether the elusive species sill lived in Indonesian Borneo. In 2013 however camera traps captured images of one and it was estimated that roughly 15 of the animals lived in Indonesian Borneo whilst another 85 lived in Sumatra.

Amazingly in March humans found a Sumatran rhino in Indonesian Borneo for the first time in over 4 decades when the animal fell into a pit trap. WWF lauded the capture as being a huge achievement for Indonesian rhino conservation.

 “This is an exciting discovery and a major conservation success,” Efransjah, the chief executive of WWF-Indonesia, said at the time. “We now have proof that a species once thought extinct in Kalimantan still roams the forests, and we will now strengthen our efforts to protect this extraordinary species.”

Death might have been prevented

At the time WWF said the rhino would be transported by helicopter to a protected forest roughly 90 miles away. It was intended for the forest to become Indonesia’s second Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary. The International Rhino Foundation which also participates in managing Indonesia’s existing Sumatran rhino factory expressed its anguish at the captured rhino’s death in a post on Facebook. The organisation said the death could have been prevented had the animal been taken to the established facility.

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Rare Sumatran Rhino Discovered In Borneo

Rare Sumatran Rhino Discovered In Borneo

For the first time in over 4 decades a rare species of rhino has been spotted in Kalimantan which is located in the Indonesian part of Borneo. The female Sumatran rhino was caught in a pit trap last month according to World Wildlife Fund which recently announced the discovery. There are only two species of rhino that exist in Indonesia and the Sumatran rhino is one of them.

“This is an exciting discovery and a major conservation success,” said Efransjah, the CEO of WWF-Indonesia. “We now have proof that a species once thought extinct in Kalimantan still roams the forests, and we will now strengthen our efforts to protect this extraordinary species.”

The rhino will be moved to a safe space

WWF has always believed that Sumatran rhinos were not extinct in Indonesia because footprints had been spotted and one had been caught on camera. This particular specimen will be transferred to a protected forest a few hundred miles away. The Sumatran rhino is the smallest of the five species of rhino that roam the planet. The species is covered with patches of stiff hair particularly around its ears.

Solitary animals

This species is dark red in colour and prefers to reside in mountain forest which is dense. The Sumatran rhino is extremely elusive and are usually solitary animals that live on fruit, leaves and twigs. They have the ability to find one another by leaving scent trails which they are able to pick up because they have a keen sense of smell.

One of the rarest animals on the planet

An adult Sumatran rhino can weigh as much as 1,760 pounds (800 kilos) and can reach a length of between 8 to 10 feet (2.5 to 3.2 metres). The species is extremely endangered and it is estimated that there are only 100 Sumatran rhinos left in the wild, most of which are located on the island of Sumatra which means they are one of the rarest animals on the planet.

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Huge Colony Of Adélie Penguins Under Threat

Huge Colony Of Adélie Penguins Under Threat

A whole colony of Adélie penguins is facing the prospect of extinction after an iceberg that is bigger in size than Luxembourg ended up landing at Commonwealth Bay and is blocking the penguins access to the sea and forcing the birds to travel considerably further in order to feed. The population of the colony has dramatically dropped from 160,000 to 10,000 since the iceberg hit the shore in 2010.

Penguins are trapped

The iceberg has effectively trapped the colony of penguins which used to thrive courtesy of easy access to Commonwealth Bay. However once the iceberg became grounded, the distance required for the penguins to travel and feed became 75 miles round trip. Adélie penguins tend to return to the same colony where they were hatched as well as return to the same mate to nest and it is very rare from the species to deviate from this behaviour.

“They don’t migrate, they’re stuck there. They’re dying …The ones that are surviving are clearly struggling. They can barely survive themselves, let alone hatch the next generation. We saw lots of dead birds on the ground … it’s just heart-breaking to see.”Chris Turney, professor of Climate Change and Earth Sciences at the University of New South Wales said.

Global warming not helping

The iceberg measures 1,120 square miles and comes in at a whopping 60 miles long. Unless the iceberg moves or breaks up the entire colony  of Adélie penguins at Cape Denison could be destroyed by 2020. Dr Turney says that as the earth warms, more ice will melt and the reality is that there will be more icebergs released from Antarctica that will end up embedded along the coastline which make the distance some of these colonies have to travel for food much further than they ever have been.

Melting ice could also be a boon

There is however some positive news, because some of the fast ice that is associated with the iceberg has started to break up in Commonwealth Bay over the last year says co-author of the study Chris Fogwill of the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre.

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Adelie Penguins Populations Expected To Rise

Adelie Penguins Populations Expected To Rise

If you are a penguin lover then there is some great news. Glaciers in the East Antarctica region have been shrinking which has resulted in a higher birth rate of the Adelie penguin. According to research over the last 14,000 years the population of Adelie penguins has expanded by as many as 135 times, largely as a result of more breeding sites coming online as glaciers retreat. The explosion in the penguin population suggests that the present conditions of the environment are more favourable to the Adelie penguin when compared to the end of the last ice age.

“Shrinking glaciers appear to have been a key driver of population change over millennia for Adelie penguins in East Antarctica,” said Jane Younger from University of Tasmania in Australia who led the study.

Climate change is the driver

When we study the response of these birds to previous climate change events, it is possible to predict how well the species of penguin will respond in future she adds. Until now the research has only looked at short term changes that take place of years or decades, however the climate change that is taking place today is likely to have effects spanning millennia

“We need to consider millennial-scale trends alongside contemporary data to forecast species’ abundance and distribution changes under future climate change scenarios,” Younger noted.

Effects will not be consistent

Despite the massive rise in numbers of penguins, the research suggests that the impact of climate change will be far from consistent. There will be large geographic variability which means distant populations of Adelie penguins will see very different environmental impacts. The authors of the study believe that in some parts of Antarctica, penguin numbers may actually decline.

Over a million breeding pairs

30 per cent of the global population of Adelie penguins live in East Antarctica and it is estimated there are about 1.14 million breeding pairs. As climate change continues it is expected that ice sheets and glaciers in Antarctica will retreat further. The penguin species are very sensitive to changes in sea ice because they combine to create breeding colonies on land which is free from ice along the coast of the continent and forage for food in the pack ice when mating season takes place.

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The UK Celebrates Earth Hour By Going Dark

The UK Celebrates Earth Hour By Going Dark

A number of iconic London and UK landmarks went dark for an hour last Saturday to mark the occasion of Earth Hour. The buildings in London that went dark included Buckingham Palace, The Shard, The Palace of Westminster and Ritz Hotel. Across the rest of the country, Old Trafford and Edinburgh Castle were also among a number of other famous British buildings that dimmed their lights. Across the rest of the world many famous landmarks such as the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower and Tokyo Tower all faded into the night sky. In fact as many as 350 global landmarks participated in the event which required the lights to be dimmed between 8.30 pm to 9:30 pm local time last Saturday.

Now an institution

Earth Hour has become an institution that was started by WWF in Sydney back in 2007 and is now a worldwide phenomenon that encourages people to demonstrate that they care about the future of the environment by switching their lights off. This year as many as 10.4 million people in the UK participated in the global blackout which now counts 178 countries worldwide that celebrate the event.

People throughout the UK took part

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon came together with as many as 30 MP’s to join the event and uploaded their photographs to social media using the hash tag £passthepanda. In Wales there was huge support for the event which saw all 22 local councils sign up for the blackout. People throughout the UK took to social media to post candle-lit selfies. The theme of this year’s celebration was titled “places we love” which includes forests, beaches, national parks, reefs, river and mountains, all of which are facing existential threats from climate change.

Taking care of the Planet’s future

In a statement made just before the event WWF said Earth Hour has now become a global celebration where both individuals and iconic buildings turn their lights off to show their solidarity with one another and to express the fact that they care about our planet’s future. The event is symbolic and when the lights go out it sends a big message that we need to take care of our planet.

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