January 06, 2014
January 05, 2014
The outbreak this week of arctic air can be very dangerous to your pets. Don't think because you can layer up that your dog will love walking in -15 degrees to -50 degrees wind chill. You can serious harm to your dogs and their paws.
You should make sure their paws are protected, that they don't have prolonged outdoor exposure and if possible, find safe warmer places for them to relieve themselves.
Pets can suffer easily from hypothermia and frost bite very quickly with this upcoming arctic cold wave. Younger and older pets are especially vulnerable. The brutal cold pavement when you walk your dogs can literally burn their paws with the wind chills expected.
THIS IS NOT THE SAME AS THEM ROMPING AROUND IN SNOW. These brutal wind chills can do serious damage to your dogs and cats. A dogs fur will protect it from the cold but wind chill depletes the body warmth of the same dog.
If you know of neighboring cats and dogs who are left outside, help by seeking and creating a warm place for them with some sort of make shift shelter, straw, blankets or just bring them inside in a closed room until the worse has passed. Make sure they have water since their water bowls can freeze easily
December 24, 2013
Africa Geographic has a story on the Fosa. What in the hell is a Fosa? Well, it is little known creature that exists in Madagascar that for years was thought to be a member of the 'cat family'. In reality it is a species all of its own and is often known in scientific circles as 'that false feline'
The site gives us five facts about the very endangered Madagascar Fosa.
It has taken scientists years to make up their minds about these intriguing creatures. The fosa was first described in 1833 when it was thought to be a cat. Current genetic analysis, however, has revealed distant shared connections with the African mongoose.
Curious and voracious, fosas have been known to ransack unoccupied tents and eat bars of soap, malaria pills and even leather boots. But their diet consists mainly of lemurs, rodents and other vertebrates.
The fosa is Madagascar’s largest carnivore and an excellent arboreal hunter. It is an agile climber with powerful forelimbs, paws with retractable claws and ‘reversible’ ankles. The latter enable it to grasp both sides of a tree trunk when ascending or descending headfirst.
The fosa and the other seven endemic carnivores of Madagascar have evolved from a common ancestor that arrived on the island by rafting some 20 – 25 million years ago. They have been placed in their own family, Eupleridea.
The naturally low population densities combined with the loss and fragmentation of habitat make the species incredibly vulnerable. The latest Global Mammal Assessment estimates a total population of fewer than 2 500 fosas on Madagascar.
December 22, 2013
Here they are:
1. Amur Leopard
An Amur leopard named Usi from Nebraska's Omaha Zoo is captured in mid-prowl in this picture by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore.
Found in the Primorye region of Russia, the Amur leopard is a very rare subspecies of leopard: A 2007 census counted only 14 to 20 adults and 5 to 6 cubs. That makes the big cat one of about 2,300 species that are considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This gallery will highlight some of these animals that are literally on the edge of extinction.
2. Sumatran Rhinoceros
Harapan, a four-year-old male Sumatran rhinoceros at Florida's White Oak Conservation Center, appears to emerge from the shadows in this photograph.
The total population of this critically endangered species is estimated at fewer than 275 individuals. Like other rhinos, this species has been heavily targeted by poachers who are after its horns
3. Western Lowland Gorilla
Seemingly in awe, a six-week-old female western lowland gorilla has its picture taken at the Cincinnati Zoo.
Surveys since the 1980s suggest that commercial hunting and outbreaks of the Ebola virus are behind the gorilla species' plummeting numbers in its native Africa
4. Mountain Pygmy Possum
The pygmy mouse is the only Australian mammal that lives in alpine environments.
But the small creature has been declining as its habitat is severely fragmented or destroyed by various construction projects and ski resorts
5. Philippine Crocodile
The Philippine crocodile, pictured above, is a relatively small freshwater crocodile: Males usually don't grow more than about 10 feet (3 meters) long, and females are even smaller.
The reptile's habitat-lakes, ponds, marshes, and other bodies of water-has been widely converted into rice paddies. The animal has also suffered from hunting and destructive fishing methods such as the use of dynamite, according to IUCN.
6. Sumatran Orangutan
A Sumatran orangutan at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, seems to pose for a portrait.
Native to the island of Sumatra, Indonesia (map), Sumatran orangutans are almost exclusively tree dwellers—a lifestyle that's led to their decline as Sumatra's forests increasingly fall to logging.
The great ape has dropped in number by 80 percent in the past 75 years, and scientists estimate there are only about 7,300 left in the wild.
7. Northern Bald Ibis
The northern bald ibis (pictured, an individual at the Houston Zoo) was thought extinct until it was rediscovered in the Syrian desert near Palmyra in 2002. Habitat disturbance and hunting are the main drivers behind the bird's decline in its Middle Eastern habitat. (See more bird pictures.)
According to a Turkish legend, the northern bald ibis was one of the first birds that Noah released from the ark, as a symbol of fertility
8. Black-Eyed Tree Frog
Photographed at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, this black-eyed tree frog belongs to a species that scientists predict will decline by more than 80 percent over the next ten years.
Native to Mexico and parts of South America, the frog is under threat from habitat destruction and the chytrid fungus, an infectious disease that is decimating amphibians around the world
9. Lord Howe Island Stick Insect
A Lord Howe Island stick insect, photographed at the Melbourne Zoo, seems to peer into the camera.
The insect was thought to have become extinct around 1920 after the introduction of rats to Lord Howe Island (map), which is located between Australia and New Zealand.
However, in 2001, the species was rediscovered on Ball's Pyramid, a rocky outcrop located about 15 miles (22 kilometers) from Lord Howe Island.
10. White Antelope
Sartore photographed this addax, or white antelope, at the Gladys Porter Zoo.
Scientists estimate that only 300 wild individuals of this critically endangered species remain; its population has plummeted due to hunting, drought, and even pressure from tourism. Once widespread throughout large swaths of Africa, it is now found only in Niger.
December 17, 2013
African Geographic is reporting the exciting news that at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre that a African Black Footed Cat has given birth to kittens! This is the first time in six years for the Centre.
The site reports:
The black footed cat is Africa’s smallest wild cat and although only listed as vulnerable on IUCN Red List, they are rarely seen owing to their strictly nocturnal nature. Though small in size, the black footed cat has the personality of a tiger and can even catch and kill prey larger than itself, such as the Cape hare.
As the threats to their survival include indiscriminate methods of predator control, habitat destruction and depletion of prey, it is incredibly important that a viable captive breeding population is established and maintained – unfortunately, black footed cats are difficult to keep and even more difficult to breed. That is why the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre is incredibly proud and privileged to announce the birth of two black footed cat kittens!
This is the first time in six years that the centre has successfully bred with these beautiful cats.
December 04, 2013
The moral of this story is don't plant a mango tree next to your home because each year a herd of elephants will be walking through it! At Mfuwe Lodge in Zambia, each year when the mangos ripen, a herd of elephants crash through the hotel lobby for their annual treat.
To believe that Americans thinking that swallows returning to the Inn at San Juan Capistrano is a big deal is overshadowed by the 'elephant in the room'!
Mail Online reports:
The moment was photographed by general manager of the lodge Ian Salisbury, 62, after he decided to capture the extraordinary event.
'This is the very unusual, and quite unique phenomenon of an annual elephant trek through the lodge's reception/lobby area,' explains Ian, who is originally from Bacup, Lancashire.
'From late October every year, families of elephants visit the lodge grounds to feed on the fruit of a 'wild mango' (Cordyla africana) tree which grows in the lodge courtyard.
'Whilst the elephants can access this tree by a variety of routes, they often choose to take a shortcut through the actual building.
'They climb the steps at the lodge entrance and trundle through the lobby, giving the lodge guests a real treat with their antics.
'Whilst the tree is fruiting, through November and into December, the elephants visit at all hours of day and night.
Taking the trek to and from the tree at least once a day, the elephants usually take the journey in herds of three to six.
Mr Salisbury explains: 'There is usually great excitement when the elephants walk though, but we try to keep everyone calm and allow them to best view.
'The elephants are usually very relaxed and pay little attention to people.
'On occasions they have demonstrated how relaxed they are by falling asleep!
'We have had one mother elephant bring her new born calf to the lodge when only two days old, that same baby is now four years old, but still confidently returns each year, which is great to see.'
With a 10 ft tall reception, the lodge can only accommodate the female and younger male elephants, as well as the calves.
Although, one regular large bull, nicknamed 'George' by the lodge, manages to squeeze his way through the lobby every year.
Mr Salisbury added: 'This unusual behaviour demonstrates a trust of humans that is quite rare in the wild.
'These elephants are by no means tame, and past generations have suffered from illegal hunting and poaching, but their behaviour clearly shows that mother elephants teach their offspring about the world and pass on their behaviour traits.'
'For most of the year the elephants wander over a wide area, but the same elephants return each year as soon as the fruit is ready.'
November 29, 2013
In this day and age, it is always simply astounding to discover a new species, fish or plant. However it is especially amazing to discover a new species in the cat family. National Geographic is reporting that the Tigrina has been discovered in Northeastern Brazil.
The site reports:
Scientists have discovered that two populations of tigrina previously thought to be one species do not, in fact, interbreed and thus are distinct, according to results published today in Current Biology.
“So much is still unknown about the natural world, even in groups that are supposed to be well-characterized, such as cats,” says the study’s lead author, Eduardo Eizirik of Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.
“In fact, there are many basic aspects that we still don’t know about wild cats, from their precise geographic distribution and their diets.”
Eizirik’s results have implications for conservation efforts—particularly laws about poaching and the designation of national parkland. Such measures are often focused on individual species.
Recognizing the northeastern tigrina as distinct means that biologists will have to assess its conservation status and determine what steps need to be taken so that both species of tigrina can be adequately protected.
Eizirik and colleagues weren’t looking to discover a new species. Instead, they were looking to understand the evolutionary history of what were thought to be three species of cat from the genus Leopardus:
The Pampas cat (Leopardus colocolo) looks like a large, heavy-set, long-haired house cat. It lives in the grasslands and scrublands of South America, from southern Argentina and Chile up through Peru and Ecuador along the western third of the continent.
Geoffroy’s cat (Leopardus geoffroyi) is roughly the same size as the Pampas cat, with a brownish-yellow or gray coat, black spots on its trunk, and dark bands across its tail and limbs. Like the Pampas cat, Geoffroy’s cat likes scrublands and lives throughout Argentina.
The tigrina (Leopardus tigrinus), also known as the oncilla or little spotted cat, lives throughout much of Central and South America. With a yellow-brown coat and black rosettes, the tigrina looks like a house cat-sized leopard. Scientists had previously identified four sub-populations of tigrina, including the southern tigrina, which lives primarily in Brazil’s mountainous forests, and the northeastern tigrina, which lives in savannahs and grasslands. The coat of the northeastern tigrina is slightly lighter, and the rosettes are sightly smaller, than those of its southern relative.
Eizirik and colleagues obtained DNA samples from a total of 216 different Leopardus cats across their ranges. Analysis of the DNA sequences found in the mitochondria, the cell’s power plant, revealed ancient interbreeding between the Pampas cat and the northeastern tigrina.
Since an individual only inherits mitochondrial DNA from its mother, researchers could peer into the ancient history of these two felines, and found that they mated together frequently before the two cats split into separate species.
Although the Geoffroy’s cat and the southern tigrina divided into separate species over a million years ago, they began to mate together in the more recent past in the areas of southern Brazil and Bolivia where their habitats overlap. While the two cats interbreed regularly at this contact zone, the mating doesn’t extend to farther areas and the two species remain distinct.
When Eizirik and colleagues analyzed the genetics of the two different tigrina populations, however, they were surprised to learn that genes did not appear to be moving between the northeastern and southern tigrinas. (See “Pictures: 7 Cat Species Found in 1 Forest—A Record.”)
“This observation implies that these tigrina populations are not interbreeding, which led us to recognize them as distinct species,” Eizirik says. The researchers have suggested that the northeastern tigrina retain its current name of L. tigrinus, while dubbing the southern tigrina L. guttulus.
“Very little was—and still is—known about this species,” says Eizirik. “There have been some initial studies on its diet, but still most of its basic biology remains poorly known, including density, habitat use, and population trends.”
November 19, 2013
The world's largest snake has invaded Florida and is here to stay.
The monster Green Acaconda snake has arrived in the Florida Everglades. Unlike the Burmese Python whose population is controlled by fire ants, the Green Acaconda is expected to rapidly spread through the Everglades and other sections of Florida.
The monster snake can grow up to thirty feet long and weight up to 550lbs! The snake is about twelve inches around. They live up to ten years and are as long as a school bus.
National Geographic reports:
Anacondas live in swamps, marshes, and slow-moving streams, mainly in the tropical rain forests of the Amazon and Orinoco basins. They are cumbersome on land, but stealthy and sleek in the water. Their eyes and nasal openings are on top of their heads, allowing them to lay in wait for prey while remaining nearly completely submerged.
They reach their monumental size on a diet of wild pigs, deer, birds, turtles, capybara, caimans, and even jaguars. Anacondas are non-venomous constrictors, coiling their muscular bodies around captured prey and squeezing until the animal asphyxiates. Jaws attached by stretchy ligaments allow them to swallow their prey whole, no matter the size, and they can go weeks or months without food after a big meal.
Female anacondas retain their eggs and give birth to two to three dozen live young. Baby snakes are about 2 feet (0.6 meters) long when they are born and are almost immediately able to swim and hunt. Their life span in the wild is about ten years.
November 18, 2013
For years, there has been deer, coyotes and other smaller wildlife in the Hollywood Hills. Further away in the hills of Ventura and Orange County you can usually find cougars/mountain lions.
Now Hollywood has its very own wild cougar captured on film and clearly ready for his close-up!
These photographs were taken by legendary photographer Steve Winter and it took him over fourteen months to get these perfect shots. National Geographic has written about Winter's quest to get these classic photographs.