Research Shows Frog and Toad Populations Declining at an Alarming Rate

Research Shows Frog and Toad Populations Declining at an Alarming Rate
Photo Credit: Guardian.ng

Recent studies have shown that the number of toads and frogs across the country have been in decline at an alarming rate. The RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch, which also lets participants submit sightings of non-bird garden visitors has shown that since 2014 toad sightings have dropped 17% and frog sightings by a third. This decline has been reflected in other surveys, with data from Froglife’s ‘Toads on Roads’ scheme finding that toad sightings specifically have dropped by two-thirds over the past thirty years. It is worth remembering that this data primarily concerns sightings of frogs and roads in urbanized areas; experts warn that in the countryside numbers could potentially have decreased in the hundreds of thousands.

Research Shows Frog and Toad Populations Declining at an Alarming Rate
Photo Credit: thehsi.org

According to the ‘Toads on Roads’ data, areas in the South-East of England have seen the largest and most consistent decline; whilst numbers in Wales, South-West and West England have declined they have stayed at a consistent level for the past ten years. However, it is not just this country where we are seeing a rapid decline of both frogs and toads; Switzerland and the USA have also reported a decrease in population numbers. The team’s results, published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE can be found here: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0161943



The evidence is undeniable, but what are the causes and what can be done to prevent this decline any further? Considering that toads in particular are usually very adaptive this continuous decline has experts worried. Unfortunately there is no clear evidence which allows for the direct identification of any specific issue or element which may be contributing to this decline. Among those that have been suggested, urbanization, loss of ponds and even changes to farming practices could be aggravating matters. Climate change is also believed to be having an impact as warmer winters have a negative impact on hibernating toads. Disease could also play a factor; around 2010 an outbreak of the Ranavirus disease caused large numbers of frogs to die across the country.
Research Shows Frog and Toad Populations Declining at an Alarming Rate
Photo Credit: livescience.com

The RSPB are encouraging people to install ponds in their gardens to help try and combat this decline and ensure that frogs and toads have access to environments that support their way of life.  Whilst for a lot of people a garden is a luxury, let alone a garden big enough to support a pond or the money to build and maintain a pond, even just a washing up bowl of water in the garden will do. As long as there is some sort of access for the creatures (a ‘platform’ of sorts – although it is recommended to try and avoid stone, as this can get extremely hot in high temperatures) then it could make a difference. If you can place it by long grass, a pile of logs or even an upside down plant pot then this could additionally serve as a place for toads to hibernate during the winter, and provide additional shade in the summer.

Frogs and toads eat insects, spiders, and other garden pests and are an important part of our local ecosystem. Whilst conservation efforts have in the past been more commonly focused on rare animals, the declines seen in many species that were once considered abundant and ‘safe’ – frogs and toads being such examples – have meant that researchers are now paying more attention to more traditional British wildlife. Long term plans to monitor their numbers as well as research into the causes of these declines and possible solutions are gaining more traction in the hope that action can be taken before it’s too late.


Article First Published in wildlifearticles.co.uk by Jessica Howard

Rhinoceros: The Endangered Species

The worlds last male white rhino is dead
Photo Credit: time.com


With a small brain that weighs 400-600kg, unusual for animals their size, the mammals are members of the family of the rhinoceros with thick protective skin made from collagen with one or two horns weighing a tone in weight. Rhinoceros is a name used for any of the five species (usually abbreviated as Rhino), two of which are native to Africa and three to southern Asia.

Rhinoceros are herbivorous; they generally eat leafy material, although their ability to ferment food in their hindgut allows them to subsist on more fibrous plant matter when necessary, although the two African species of rhinoceros lack teeth at the front of their mouths, relying instead on their lips to pluck food.

Hunting and poaching activities has altered the natural distribution of the rhino population. The horns of rhino are bought in the black market. By weight, rhino horns cost as much as gold on the black market. People grind up the horns and consume them, believing the dust has therapeutic properties. East Asia is the largest market for rhino horns. The IUCN Red List identifies the Black, Javan, and Sumatran rhinoceros as critically endangered.

Species


The world mourned over the death of the last male rhino in the world in the Ol Pajeta Conservation in Kenya
Photo Credit: flickr.com

There are two subspecies of white rhinoceros: the southern white rhinoceros and the northern white rhinoceros.  The white rhino has an immense body and large head, a short neck and broad chest. Females weigh 1,600 kg and males 2,400 kg. The world mourned over the death of the last male rhino in the world in the Ol Pajeta Conservation in Kenya


There are only four species of the black Rhinoceros
Photo Credit: streamafrica.com

There are four subspecies of black rhino: South-central, the most numerous, which once ranged from central Tanzania south through Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to northern and eastern South Africa; South-western which are better adapted to the arid and semi-arid savannas of Namibia, southern Angola, western Botswana and western South Africa; East African, primarily in Tanzania; and West African which was declared extinct in November 2011.



Indian rhinoceros animal once inhabited many areas ranging from Pakistan to Myanmar and maybe even parts of China
Photo Credit: saveus.in

Indian rhinos once inhabited many areas ranging from Pakistan to Myanmar and maybe even parts of China. However, because of human influence, they now only exist in several protected areas of India and Nepal, with a few pairs in Lal Suhanra National Park in Pakistan


The Javan rhinoceros is one of the most endangered large mammals in the world
Photo Credit: Animalsake.com

The Javan rhinoceros is one of the most endangered large mammals in the world. According to 2015 estimates, only about 60 remain, in Java, Indonesia, all in the wild.


The endangered Sumatran rhinoceros is the smallest extant species of this family
Photo Credit: Rhinos.org

The Sumatran rhinoceros is the smallest extant rhinoceros species, as well as the one with the most hair. It can be found at very high altitudes in Borneo and Sumatra. Due to habitat loss and poaching, their numbers have declined and it has become the most threatened rhinoceros.


Climate change puts the Pacific Walrus population on thin ice

Climate change puts the Pacific Walrus population on thin ice
Photo Credit: wwf.panda.org


Every autumn for about the last decade, the residents of Enurmino—a tiny, Russian village located along the Chukchi Sea—have witnessed a strange sight. Tens of thousands of Pacific walruses have exited the chilly ocean waters and assembled en masse along the shoreline.

This phenomenon, known as a “haulout,” occurs when large hordes of mostly females and calves pull themselves onto the beach to rest. The walruses climb on to shore because of declining sea ice cover.

“Typically, walruses spend most of their time at sea hauled out on ice floes as they forage for food on the ocean floor” explains WWF’s Nikhil Advani, “but as sea ice declines, they’re increasingly hauling out on land instead.”

Throughout the Arctic, sea ice is forming later in the season and disappearing earlier, limiting the amount of space available for walruses to congregate. Floating summer sea ice is also receding further north to where the water is too deep for the animals to dive and feed. This forces them to desert the ice and seek refuge ashore. Once on land, the walruses must travel much longer distances—up to 250 miles round trip—to reach their food supply.

Climate change puts the Pacific Walrus population on thin ice
Photo Credit: mmc.gov

Researchers first observed large haulouts off Alaska’s Point Lay in 2007, when summer Arctic sea ice reached its second-lowest minimum extent in recorded history. As the extent of summer sea ice has continued to decline in Arctic waters, the number of walruses coming ashore has grown considerably.

In 2014, around 35,000 walruses hauled out along a small stretch of beach in Point Lay.

These massive haulouts can be incredibly dangerous for walruses. The crowded animals are easily spooked; any sound or scent—an airplane flying by, a human, or a whiff of a predator—can cause a deadly stampede. In their rush to the ocean, the heavy walruses—which can weigh up to 1.5 tons—can trample other walruses, especially young calves, which are susceptible to injuries and death. Last year, disturbances to a haulout near Cape Schmidt, Russia caused more than 500 deaths.


Climate change puts the Pacific Walrus population on thin ice
Photo Credit: photoartinc.com

In addition to posing risks for individual animals, these mass aggregations are a troubling sign that Pacific walruses and other species are under serious threat from climate change-driven habitat loss. “Some projections suggest that the Arctic could be ice-free in the summers as early as 2040,” says Advani. “That means sea ice-dependent species like walruses and polar bears will be spending more time on land, which could decrease access to their prey base and increase human-wildlife conflict.”

Pacific walrus numbers reached record-low numbers in the early 1960s, but rebounded by the 1980s following significant conservation efforts. Unfortunately, the Pacific walrus population is once again in decline—with just 129,000 animals left.



Marine Animals Tanked in Captivity in Aquariums

Should marine animals be kept in aquariums
Photo Credit: dreamaquarium.com

Aquariums are such a beauty to behold with marine lives swimming within a restricted and confined space, colorful and radiant. The British and Irish association of zoos and aquariums holds that 25 million people visit the aquariums and zoos every year, and that is about a third of the population of the United Kingdom, now you can imagine how much people love to see marine animals swim and display with their beautiful colors and trilling motor moves.

Animals in aquarium
Photo Credit: bpaquarium.com

Individuals, organizations and businesses now put up aquariums in their houses and office spaces, just to enhance the aesthetic of their apartment oblivious of the welfare and condition of the animals. Marine lives are definitely a beauty to behold especially when you are viewing them from a very close range in captivity.

Just like the zoo and circuses, the effect of captivity is not just physical but psychological. Some orcas have destroyed their  teeth by chewing on metal cage bars and all captive adult male orcas have collapsed dorsal fins, a condition that rarely occurs in wild orcas, and this case of the orcas is just one amongst many too numerous to mention.

The animal right activists are strongly pushing-on to free animals that have been tanked in captivity. There have always been pros and cons to circumstances as this, just like in the case of the zoo and circus in my previous articles but you will find in most cases that the merit is much bigger than the demerits.
Should marine animals be kept in aquariums
Photo Credit: aquariumfiltersetup.com
 Animals in an aquarium are usually confined in small tanks and they can get bored and frustrated. In an effort to provide more natural environments for the animals, different species are often kept together, which lead to predatory animals attacking or eating their tank mates. Tanks are also stocked either with captured animals or animals bred in captivity. Capturing animals in the wild is stressful, injurious and sometimes fatal; breeding in captivity is also a problem because those animals will live their entire lives in a tiny tank instead of a vast ocean. Some individuals believe that animals can be better studied for scientific purposes but that does not justify the suffering and right infringement of the animals living in tanks.
 Should marine animals be kept in aquariums?
It is undeniably true that we need to connect with nature; marine and all its components, but should we do that by keeping them in captivity?


Top Five Endangered Animals of Miwildlife


Top 5 endangered animals
Photo Credit: gizmodo.com

"Orangutan" Man of the forest, as translated in Malay is Critically endangered and it is found in Borneo, Sumantra and Tapanuli, with population 104,700, 13,846, 800 respectively. Sumantra and Borneo were the only known spots where orangutans have been untill 2017 when 800 Orangutans were found in Tapanuli



Top 5 endangered animals
Photo Credit: Popsci.com

The Tasmanian devil became the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world following the extinction of the thylacine in 1936..Experts estimate that the devil has suffered a more than 80% decline in its population since the mid-1990s and that only around 10,000–15,000 remain in the wild as of 2008, recent research has proven that the population is still declining as a result of the devil facial tumor disease.



Top 5 endangered animals
Photo Credit: wwf.org

At the turn of the 20th century, there were about 100,000 Asian elephant but today the population ranges from 35,000 to 40,000, habitat loss has been one of the major factor facing  Elephants, as well as Poaching activities.




Top 5 endangered animals
Photo Credit: theverge.com


Since it was discovered in 1983, the Ili Pika population is thought to have declined by nearly 70 per cent. With only 1,000 left, the small mammal is now thought to be one of the world's most endangered species. The species is a native to the remote Tianshan mountain range in the Xinjiang region of northwestern China. 




Top 5 endangered animals
Photo Credit: Savenaturesavehuman.blogspot.com

No accurate Survey has been made on the Saola.  Accurate population estimates would be exceedingly difficult to obtain even if the species were not rare, due to its reported secretive behavior, the difficulty of making direct observations in dense, rugged and remote forest habitat, and the fact that signs of the species cannot at present be unequivocally distinguished from other ungulates of similar size in its range .The IUCN estimates the total Saola population to be between 70 and 750.




Should Animals Perform in the Circus?

animals in the circus are maltreated
Photo Credit: Peta.org

Entertainment took a different turn when Philip Astley, the father of modern circus, opened the first circus ever in London, in 1968, where he performed the trick riding. He rode in a circle rather than a straight line and this along with many other formats brought up the name “CIRCUS”. 


Animals performing in the circus
Photo Credit: Cairoscene.com

A circus is a band of entertainers who perform activities that incites smiles, laughter, happiness, joy, and fulfillment just like any other entertainment outfit.  Shows in the circus usually includes clowns, tightrope walkers, dancers, magicians, hoopers, jugglers, trapeze act , unicyclist and animals.

Today, a lot of circuses around the world keeps wild animals (trained) in captivity for entertainment in the circus, performing various animal shows and stunts. Animals used in the circus include the giraffe, lion, elephant, tiger, leopard, cheetah, monkey, rabbit e.t.c

Animal activists around the world has pushed against keeping animals in the circus, giving a whole lot of cogent reason for this fight and this is sure bad for business, for circus owners. The Mexican congress banned the use of animals in circuses in 2014, the UK government is now set to ban the use of animals in circus in 2020 and theunited states of America was not left out.

It is believed that Animals in the circus, as well as animals in captivity are being physically abused, mistreated and they go through an unimaginable process and pains just to perform as expected in a circus. Some animal trainers even go as far as using whips for the animals, electric shockers and bull hooks, so they will act accordingly.  According to PETA an animal right group, during an undercover investigation of Carson & Barnes Circus, video footage was captured showing animal care director Tim Frisco training endangered Asian elephants with electrical shock prods and instructing other trainers to “beat the elephants with a bull hook as hard as they can and sink the sharp metal hook into the elephant's flesh and twist it until they scream in pain”.  These animals are so cruelly treated that even the lions, tigers and leopard and elephants do not get as much outside exposure as they are supposed in their natural habitat because they are always locked in cages and in shackles.
Should animals be kept in the circus?
An elephant being shocked with electric, Phot Credit: Peta2.com


These then brings us to the big question “Should these animals be kept in the circus at the mercies of their cruel trainers, or taken to the zoo or perhaps sent to the wild and forest reserve”?

How the Giant Panda Almost Got Extinct

china and the giant panda extinction saved
Photo Credit: worldwildlife.org

The beautiful big black and white colored giant panda with thick hair that shields it from cold is one of the world’s most beloved and famous animal, as it has featured, in movies, books and cartoons especially the comic martial “Konfu Panda” cartoon movie but yet it has suffered a great deal of misdeed from so many factors, putting it in an endangered spot in 1990 but that changed in 2006, drawing a new status of the IUCN as a “Vulnerable specie”.  Now, what factors could have led the pandas to the endangered list, and how were they able to bounce out of it to the vulnerability state in the IUCN watch book?  But Let’s talk about the Famous giant panda a bit and why it is so famous.
 
saved from extinction by the Chinese government
Photo Credit: time.com

The Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is native to mountain forest of southwest china. With a distinctive black and white coloring, their eyes, ears, muzzles, shoulders
and leg are black while every other part of their body is white. Although they belong to the order carnivore, their main diet which makes up 99% of their feeding culture is bamboo. Bamboo is not too rich in nutrient and that’s why the giant panda consumes 20-40 bamboos a day, they can as well feed on fish, egg and rodent but this barely makes 1% of their diet. In captivity, they are compelled to feed on whatever they are fed.
They have a protruding wrist bone, a pseudo thumb, an adaptive feature that helps them grab bamboo while they munch on it. Panders reach sexual maturity between 4-8 years and may reproduce until the age of 20 years. Gestation period is usually from 95 to 160 days.
 
china and the giant panda endangered extinction saved
Photo Credit: csmonitor.com

Now, let’s see what led the giant panda to the endangered list in the first place

Deforestation: this is the major cause of reduction in the population of the giant panda. Humanactivities in the 80s altered their natural habitat, destroying the forest and bamboos in a bid to build more houses and develop lands, forcing the giant panda to starvation and death.

Reproduction: A mother bear can give birth to 3 cubs but sadly, she will give attention to just one forcing the other two to malnutrition and possible death, this is because their basic bamboo diet has not enough nutrient to support a lactating mother and her 3 cubs.

Poaching: Poaching has always been a major problem in the animal kingdom. Illegal hunting of the giant panda for their fur, bones, skins has contributed effectively in reducing their population.

Adaptation: some animals adapt perfectly well outside their habitat, like the raccoon. Sad enough, the giant panda cannot adapt very well outside its natural habitat even when put in captivity.

So how where they able to bounce out of the danger zone?

Panda Population increased by Chinese government conservation program
Photo Credit: time.com
Since 1940, TheChinese has put efforts to conserve the habitat of the giant pandas. Today there are more than 67 panda reserves in the country breeding them in captivity.

The census taken in 2014 has indicated a 17% increase in population since 2003. Now the total number of pandas found in the wild has now reach 1864 individuals. Furthermore, reforestation has increased the occupied habitat by 11.8% and useable habitat by 6.3%.

The Chinese government has put up more conservation programmes to ensure push up in the panda population and some other organizations like the world wild life are still putting efforts together to ensure that the Giant panda doesn’t rest on the vulnerability status but  totally safe from extinction.



Should Animals be Kept in the zoo?

should animals be kept in the zoo? zoo animals freedom, animals in the zoo, animal welfare
Photo Credit: CHRGD.ca
Zoos has been a major point where people comfortably view and study animals both for pleasure and research purposes. There are so many zoos in the world housing different kind of animals ranging from the small sized mouse to the big sized elephant. The first modern day zoo opened in 1793, in Paris, France following the London Zoological Gardens, which was opened for scientific study in 1828 and to the public in 1857 and since then the love for viewing wild animals in captivity increased. It is a stale truth that one cannot just walk into the forest, unskilled to view or study animals, it will be putting the individual in a great risk of life and death. Over the years, the growth of zoos around the world increased the captivity of wild animals. Being held in captivity takes  away your natural freedom, limits you motor activities and mobility and then causes a lot of mental stress. Now, these animals are just like humans with developed body system and a brain (some are not too advanced though) and they are bound to feel all the downtrend coming up from Captivity in the zoo. Zoos hold strongly that they maintain a strong welfare standards for animals in their care but nevertheless, going round some of the zoos will tell you otherwise. This will bring me to the big question in a bit, Should animals be kept in the zoo?
should animals be kept in the zoo? zoo animals freedom, animals in the zoo, animal welfare
Photo Credit: topchinatravel.com

While there continue to be challenges in the global implementation of animal welfare standards, the world association of zoos and aquariums (WAZA) has set up codes of ethics and animal welfare , guidelines on animals interaction  and positive animal welfare.  "The World Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare Strategy recommend that zoos and aquariums should apply a simple welfare model – the "Five Domains" – and make an ongoing commitment to animal welfare in all operations and to all animals in their care. The Strategy recommends continued education and training of staff in animal welfare, and a commitment to animal welfare research, to applying animal welfare knowledge to exhibit design and to being leading centre for animal welfare".

Keeping wild animals in the zoo and in captivity has its benefits and demerits, and we will take them one at a time.

BENEFITS
* Endangered Species: The zoo is quite a safe place for some of the endangered species as against their natural habitat where they will be opened to poachers  who care for nothing more than economic gain.
* Research and study: A lot of scientific research has cropped up from zoos with animals in the zoo as subjects. This has helped in the mental, social and physical study of animals which has led to the development of vaccines and drugs to maintain a good health condition.
* Health: Zoo managements keep up with the routine of checking the health status of animals to prevent illness and possible death
* Educate: Students from different schools around the world visits the zoos to get a firsthand experience of what they are being taught in their various institution.

DEMERITS
* The health standards in some zoos are and comparatively too low
* Some animals does not do so well in captivity
* Zoo owners puts their profit motives before the welfare of the animals

The world association of zoos and aquariums and governments at all levels should put up enforcement measures to ensure that the welfare of animals is a priority to zoos and zoo owners. Cruel treatment of animals should be discouraged and zoos selling animals to circus should be frowned at. Some animals do not do well in Captivity, as such they need to be left in their natural habitat, where they can live freely and reproduce to ensure continuity and prevent extinction.

At this point, I will say that Animals but not all animals should be kept in the zoo.

Now tell me, what do you think, should animals be kept in the zoo?




The Australian Thorny Devil

reptiles, thorny devil, thorny dragon, mountain dragon, dragon, animals, desert, australia
Photo Credit: australiangeographic.com.au
Thorny devils  (Moloch horridus) are thought to have branched away from another lineage of lizards, about 15 million years ago. The thorny devil  is  quite different when compared with other lizards. It is found in Australia. its look; the two large horned scale on its head gave it its name.

The thorny devil also known as the mountain dragon or thorny dragon dissuades attackes by predators with its hard spines and scales covering all part of its body. Swallowing the thorny devil is quit a difficult and painful task and that sure gives predators a frustrating and tough time. Most of the lizards are camouflaged in shades of desert brown and tan.

reptiles, thorny devil, thorny dragon, mountain dragon, dragon, animals, desert, australia
Photo Credit: pinterest.com
Thorny dragons grow up to 7.9 inches and the females are usually larger than the males. Their life span is usaully between 15-20 years.

reptiles, thorny devil, thorny dragon, mountain dragon, dragon, animals, desert, australia
Photo Credit: flickr.com

The Thorny dragon lives in arid scrubland and deserts, feeding mainly on ants. The Moloch horridus is of least concern in the IUCN  redlist.

Poaching! Poachers, who are they?


Poaching, poachers, who are they? Poaching is the illegal hunting and capturing of wild animals
Photo Credit: theplaidzebra.com
Poaching is the illegal hunting and capturing of wild animals; usually to sell a part of their body in the black market for monetary gains or for meat by locals whose forest mass has been taken over by forest reserve and conservation with little or no animals to cover for the basic protein faction of their diet. Rhinos, elephants and leopards have been a major target  by poachers in the African region, this has led to drastic reduction in world's rhino population, although there is a  light of hope  that the rhino population will assume a reasonable figure in due time.

Poaching in all part of the world has been frowned at by Government at all levels, boosting their anti-poaching efforts to the maximum to curb the menace. The Philippines were the first country to destroy their national seized ivory stock In 2013. China came next as they destroyed six tons of ivory as a symbolic statement against poaching.  The international anti-poaching foundation has also played a major role in this fight.

wildlife poaching and trafficking of endangered species alarming
photo Credit: guardianlv.com

Who are the poachers?
Hunting  has been the main source of animal protein for tribal people, and is central to their identity. But where control of their land has been taken from them, such as when an area is made a national park, hunters suddenly become poachers.

Also, Organization and industries in need of animal products, seeks the professional help of hunters who hunt for commercial gains to carry out poaching. Then throwing up an employment space for poachers.

Poachers are not just the tribal people, professional hunters but also the organizations, industries and companies who pays and delegates hunters to poaching.

Poaching, poachers, who are they? Poaching is the illegal hunting and capturing of wild animals
photo Credit: noanimalpoaching.org

Effect of Poaching
1. Reduction of animal populations in the wild and possible extinction.
2. The effective size of protected areas is reduced as poachers use the edges of these areas as open-access resources.
3. Spread of Virus and diseases.
4. Wildlife tourism destinations face a negative publicity; those holding a permit for       wildlife-based land uses, tourism-based tour and lodging operators lose income; employment opportunities are reduced.

All these poaching effects can be summed up as economic, environmental, health and social effects. Poaching has been fought with great strength and force over the years and this should continue with renewed effort and strategy as the poachers get creative each day on how to go about their poaching stride with sophisticated weapons.
Endangered animals poaching might take us forever
Photo Credit: pri.org