May 23rd, 2013
Swainson’s toucan. Photo by Rhett A. Butler / mongabay.com
By Hannah Lindstrom
Panama has a total of 972 bird species, of which 20 are considered to be globally threatened. Since the 1940′s, Panama’s tree cover has been reduced by over 50% which is having an effect on the avifauna of the nation. Species in Panama range from Giant Harpy Eagles, Panama’s national bird, to small species of kingfishers, with many in between.
Harpy eagle, the world’s largest eagle. Photo by Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay.com
Unidentified bird in Panama. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.
May 9th, 2013
by Phyllis Sena
Photo by Joanne Iredale.
The ZSL London Zoo welcomes baby Anvil, an Eastern Black and White Colobus monkey who is the new pride and joy of her mother, Sophia. Even though there is a stark contrast when it comes to appearance between mother and daughter, the jet-white newborn will eventually become black and white and better resemble her mother once she gets older. Anvil’s aunty Thumbelina is the only member of the family that is allowed to hold and cuddle with the two-week old baby, and if often spotted showing off her adorable nephew to excited onlookers at the zoo.
The Eastern Black and White Colobus species of Old World monkeys naturally reside in the forests of Africa, and eat mainly fruit, leaves, flowers, and twigs. Because of their herbivorous diet, they are important for seed dispersal from their sloppy eating habits and their digestive systems. These monkeys are vital creatures to Africa’s ecosystem, and unfortunately they are popular prey for Africa’s forest predators and are threatened by bushmeat trade from hunters, logging, and habitat destruction.
May 8th, 2013
by Jemma Smith
Baby sun bear at a rehabilitation center in Malaysia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.
The Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) is the smallest member of the bear (Ursidae) family. A patch on their chest enables them to be individually identified by the size, color and pattern variations between individuals. Very little is known about the sun bear; however, they are believed to be found throughout Southeast Asia, from India to Borneo. Listed as vulnerable on the IUCN’s Red List and are believed to be extinct in some countries including Southern China, Tibet and Bangladesh. Sadly this species, like many others, is in decline due to habitat loss and poaching.
April 26th, 2013
By Phyllis Sena
Nicknamed “Howlers”, Howler monkeys are famously known for their deafening calls that can be heard up to three miles (five kilometers) away in the jungles of Central and South America. A cacophony of loud cries can be heard during dusk and dawn in order to send a message to other monkeys that the territory is being occupied by their group. Howlers are also considered to be the loudest land mammal on Earth.
Howlers are considered New World monkeys, which are the only monkeys with prehensile tails unlike the Old World species of monkeys such as baboons and macaques. Most howler monkey species live in groups of 6 – 15 individuals, usually with one dominant male, a couple of other males, and multiple females for mating.
The red howler monkey species is the most common, but it is often targeted for bushmeat in South America. Some species are even considered to be critically endangered according to the 2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species , such as the Red-Handed Howler Monkey, the Azuero Howler Monkey, and the Northern Brown Howler Monkey.
April 22nd, 2013
Written by Jemma Smith
Photo by Ullas Karanth / WCS
This image of a 4-5 month old tiger cub was recently captured on a remote camera in the India’s Bhadra Tiger Reserve.
The Bhadra reserve was identified by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) as one of 42 ‘source sites’ that are essential for the future of tigers. These sites are found within 9 different countries and are home to 70% of the remaining tiger population; although only make up 6% of their range.
Individual tigers can be identified by their unique striped pattern. WCS conservationist, led by Ullas Karanth, a tiger expert, conduct annual surveys in this area photographing and identifying tigers.
Data collected by WCS shows that within the Bhadra reserve the tiger population has increased and prey populations doubled due to their conservation effort. This success confirms the value of these ‘source sites’ and stands out as a model of tiger conservation success.
The tiger’s greatest threats include poaching, illegal killing, loss of prey and habitat loss. Due to urban expansion, populations of tigers become isolated in small fragmented areas and eventually die out. A decrease in food source leads to conflicts with farmers. Reserves, such as Bhadra, which protects them from many of these threats, are important in the future survival of this iconic animal.
April 18th, 2013
By Jordanna Dulaney
A Olive Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) hatchling. The Olive Ridley is named for its olive-colored heart-shaped shell, which changes from dark grey to olive as the turtle matures. Like other sea turtles, the Olive Ridley nests and hatch in tropical waters and then migrate to subtropical areas like the southeastern or eastern central Atlantic.
Although it is considered the most abundant sea turtle in the world with 800,000 nesting females estimated, Olive Ridleys are ranked “Vulnerable” by the IUNC. Major reasons for the ranking are habitat pollution, by-catch in fisheries (becoming caught in fishing nets), and devastating egg harvests and hunting.
April 15th, 2013
By Jemma Smith
Members of the Village Crocodile Conservation Group prepare to release three of the nineteen Siamese crocodiles. Credit: Alex McWilliam/WCS.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has recently released 19 baby Siamese crocodiles into a local wetland in Lao PDR. The eggs of the crocodiles were discovered and collected during a wildlife survey back in 2011, hatched and reared at Lao Zoo as part of the Community-based Crocodile Recovery and Livelihood Improvement Project.
The 19 month old hatchings were released near to where the eggs were found into a ‘soft release’ pen to acclimatise to their new surroundings. They will remain in the pen for several months until the water levels rise and they can swim away during the rainy season. In the mean time members of the Village Crocodile Conservation Group will guard and provide supplementary food to the hatchlings.
“We are extremely pleased with the success of this collaborative program and believe it is an important step in contributing to the conservation of the species by involving local communities in long term wetland management,” said Alex McWilliam a conservation biologist with WCS’s Lao PDR Program.
The hatchings, which were approximately 27 inches in length when released, will grow up to 10 feet when fully matured.
These animals are listed at Critically Endangered on the IUCN’s Red List due to overhunting and habitat degradation and loss. They are now extinct in much of their former range through Southeast Asia except Cambodia. It is estimated there are less than 250 individuals left in the wild. This success is positive news for their future.
A member of the Village Crocodile Conservation Group prepares a Siamese crocodile for release. Credit: Alex McWilliam/WCS.
The Siamese crocodiles enjoy their new habitat after a long and bumpy eight hour journey from the Lao Zoo. Credit: Alex McWilliam/WCS.
April 13th, 2013
by Hannah Lindstrom
Caterpillars are the larval form of moths and butterflies. Since these creatures are so rich in protein, they tend to be a favored food source of many species. As a result, caterpillars have developed many a coping mechanism for this issue. Predators can easily be deterred by the appearance or size of a caterpillar. Bright colors, as seen in these pictures, usually makes an animal think poison, so they will tend to stay away. While some caterpillars may fake it, there are indeed some truly poisonous caterpillars out there as well. Also, spikes make a good predator deterrent because of the lack of appeal they present to being eaten.
April 8th, 2013
Written by Jordanna Dulaney
The woolly monkey (Lagothrix lagotricha) is listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN’s Red List. In fact, studies predict that the species will decline at least 30% in the coming 45 years. The IUCN cites hunting, habitat loss due to the expansion of farming land, and pet trafficking. These pictures were taken at a rehabilitation center for animals in the pet trafficking trade in Amacayacu National Park, Colombia.
Woolly monkeys are named for their thick, woolly fur. Coloring ranges from dark grey to a light red hue, and serve to camouflage the monkey in the forest canopy. Woolly monkeys grow large: both males and females grow to around 20 inches long. The monkeys sport a tail as long as their body, equipped with a pad near the end to grip trees and branches. Studies show that wooly monkeys in the wild often eat fruits, young leaves, and flowers.
Amacayacu Park (Amacayacu means “River of Hamocs” in the indigenous language) runs along the Amazon River, in the south of Colombia. The park is a common stop for eco-tourists and boasts lush rain forests, scenic river views, and over 5,000 different plant species.
April 5th, 2013
Written by Jemma Smith
To commemorate this years Earth Hour and raise awareness of turtle conservation, the Chinese organization Sea Turtles 911 released two Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) back into the wild during this special hour.
Earth Hour encourages businesses and households worldwide to switch off their lights for one hour between 8.30pm and 9.30pm on the 23rd of March. This is to raise awareness of climate change. This provided a great opportunity for Sea Turtles 911 to highlight the threats turtles suffer from climate change and other human impacts such as artificial light.
Sand temperature determines the sex of turtles during incubation. Sea Turtles 911 Founding Director Frederick Yeh said, “As the global climate’s average temperature increases, more females will be hatched, jeopardizing sea turtle populations with an unbalanced sex ratio.”
Light along the shore line can confuse nesting females and hatched baby turtles who rely on moon light to guide them to the sea, leading further inland.
This species is listed as Endangered on the IUCN’s red list and listed on Appendix 1 of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Hence making the trade of this animal or part of the animal illegal, however illegal poaching is still a big problem for this species and the black market thrives.
Sea Turtles 911 has linked up with a local resort The Ritz Carlton Sanya on Hainan island, China to put together this special event. This has helped increase awareness of the threats to turtles, using education and engagement, which is a vital part in protecting the future of these stunning marine reptiles.
The two turtles released were given the names “Diqiu” and “Xiaoshi” which together means Earth Hour in Chinese.