The Cayote

The coyote from Nahuatl is a canine native to North America. It is smaller than its close relative, the gray wolf, and slightly smaller than the closely related eastern wolf and red wolf. It fills much of the same ecological niche as the golden jackal does in Eurasia, though it is larger and more predatory, and is sometimes called the American jackal by zoologists.

The coyote is listed as least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to its wide distribution and abundance throughout North America, southwards through Mexico, and into Central America. The species is versatile, able to adapt to and expand into environments modified by humans. It is enlarging its range, with coyotes moving into urban areas in the Eastern U.S., and was sighted in eastern Panama (across the Panama Canal from their home range) for the first time in 2013.

As of 2005, 19 coyote subspecies are recognized. The average male weighs 8 to 20 kg (18 to 44 lb) and the average female 7 to 18 kg (15 to 40 lb). Their fur color is predominantly light gray and red or fulvous interspersed with black and white, though it varies somewhat with geography. It is highly flexible in social organization, living either in a family unit or in loosely knit packs of unrelated individuals. It has a varied diet consisting primarily of animal meat, including deer, rabbits, hares, rodents, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates, though it may also eat fruits and vegetables on occasion. Its characteristic vocalization is a howl made by solitary individuals. Humans are the coyote's greatest threat, followed by cougars and gray wolves. In spite of this, coyotes sometimes mate with gray, eastern, or red wolves, producing "coywolf" hybrids. In the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, the eastern coyote (a larger subspecies, though still smaller than wolves) is the result of various historical and recent matings with various types of wolves. Genetic studies show that most North American wolves contain some level of coyote DNA.

The coyote is a prominent character in Native American folklore, mainly in the Southwestern United States and Mexico, usually depicted as a trickster that alternately assumes the form of an actual coyote or a man. As with other trickster figures, the coyote uses deception and humor to rebel against social conventions. The animal was especially respected in Mesoamerican cosmology as a symbol of military might. After the European colonization of the Americas, it was reviled in Anglo-American culture as a cowardly and untrustworthy animal. Unlike wolves (gray, eastern, or red), which have undergone an improvement of their public image, attitudes towards the coyote remain largely negative.

Coyote males average 8 to 20 kg (18 to 44 lb) in weight, while females average 7 to 18 kg (15 to 40 lb), though size varies geographically. Northern subspecies, which average 18 kg (40 lb), tend to grow larger than the southern subspecies of Mexico, which average 11.5 kg (25 lb). Body length ranges on average from 1.0 to 1.35 m (3 ft 3 in to 4 ft 5 in), and tail length 40 cm (16 in), with females being shorter in both body length and height. The largest coyote on record was a male killed near Afton, Wyoming, on November 19, 1937, which measured 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) from nose to tail, and weighed 34 kg (75 lb). Scent glands are located at the upper side of the base of the tail and are a bluish-black color.

The color and texture of the coyote's fur varies somewhat geographically. The hair's predominant color is light gray and red or fulvous, interspersed around the body with black and white. Coyotes living at high elevations tend to have more black and gray shades than their desert-dwelling counterparts, which are more fulvous or whitish-gray. The coyote's fur consists of short, soft underfur and long, coarse guard hairs. The fur of northern subspecies is longer and denser than in southern forms, with the fur of some Mexican and Central American forms being almost hispid (bristly). Generally, adult coyotes (including coywolf hybrids) have a sable coat color, dark neonatal coat color, bushy tail with an active supracaudal gland, and a white facial mask. Albinism is extremely rare in coyotes; out of a total of 750,000 coyotes harvested by federal and cooperative hunters between March 22, 1938, and June 30, 1945, only two were albinos.

The coyote is typically smaller than the gray wolf, but has longer ears and a relatively larger braincase, as well as a thinner frame, face, and muzzle. The scent glands are smaller than the gray wolf's, but are the same color. Its fur color variation is much less varied than that of a wolf. The coyote also carries its tail downwards when running or walking, rather than horizontally as the wolf does.

Prior to the near extermination of wolves and cougars, the coyote was most numerous in grasslands inhabited by bison, pronghorn, elk, and other deer, doing particularly well in short-grass areas with prairie dogs, though it was just as much at home in semiarid areas with sagebrush and jackrabbits or in deserts inhabited by cactus, kangaroo rats, and rattlesnakes. As long as it was not in direct competition with the wolf, the coyote ranged from the Sonoran Desert to the alpine regions of adjoining mountains or the plains and mountainous areas of Alberta. With the extermination of the wolf, the coyote's range expanded to encompass broken forests from the tropics of Guatemala and the northern slope of Alaska.

Coyotes walk around 5–16 kilometres (3–10 mi) per day, often along trails such as logging roads and paths; they may use iced-over rivers as travel routes in winter. They are often crepuscular, being more active around evening and the beginning of the night than during the day. Like many canids, coyotes are competent swimmers, reported to be able to travel at least 0.8 kilometres (0.5 mi) across water.

The Aye-aye


The aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) is a lemur, a strepsirrhine primate native to Madagascar that combines rodent-like teeth that perpetually grow and a special thin middle finger.

It is the world's largest nocturnal primate, and is characterized by its unusual method of finding food: it taps on trees to find grubs, then gnaws holes in the wood using its forward slanting incisors to create a small hole in which it inserts its narrow middle finger to pull the grubs out. This foraging method is called percussive foraging, and takes up 5–41% of foraging time.The only other animal species known to find food in this way is the striped possum. From an ecological point of view, the aye-aye fills the niche of a woodpecker, as it is capable of penetrating wood to extract the invertebrates within.

The aye-aye is the only extant member of the genus Daubentonia and family Daubentoniidae. It is currently classified as Endangered by the IUCN; and a second species, Daubentonia robusta, appears to have become extinct at some point within the last 1000 years

Due to its derived morphological features, the classification of the aye-aye has been debated since its discovery. The possession of continually growing incisors (front teeth) parallels those of rodents, leading early naturalists to mistakenly classify the aye-aye within the mammalian order Rodentia and as a squirrel, due to its toes, hair coloring, and tail. However, the aye-aye is also similar to felines in its head shape, eyes, ears and nostrils.

The aye-aye's classification with the order Primates has been just as uncertain. It has been considered a highly derived member of the family Indridae, a basal branch of the strepsirrhine suborder, and of indeterminate relation to all living primates. In 1931, Anthony and Coupin classified the aye-aye under infraorder Chiromyiformes, a sister group to the other strepsirrhines. Colin Groves upheld this classification in 2005 because he was not entirely convinced the aye-aye formed a clade with the rest of the Malagasy lemurs, despite molecular tests that had shown Daubentoniidae was basal to all Lemuriformes, deriving from the same lemur ancestor that rafted to Madagascar during the Paleocene or Eocene. In 2008, Russell Mittermeier, Colin Groves, and others ignored addressing higher-level taxonomy by defining lemurs as monophyletic and containing five living families, including Daubentoniidae.

Further evidence indicating that the aye-aye belongs in the superfamily Lemuroidea can be inferred from the presence of petrosal bullae encasing the ossicles of the ear. However, interestingly, the bones themselves may have some resemblance to those of rodents. The aye-ayes are also similar to lemurs in their shorter back legs.

The aye-aye is a nocturnal and arboreal animal meaning that it spends most of its life high in the trees. Although they are known to come down to the ground on occasion, aye-ayes sleep, eat, travel and mate in the trees and are most commonly found close to the canopy where there is plenty of cover from the dense foliage. During the day, aye-ayes sleep in spherical nests in the forks of tree branches that are constructed out of leaves, branches and vines before emerging after dark to begin their hunt for food. Aye-aye are solitary animals that mark their large home range with scent. The smaller territories of females often overlap those of at least a couple of males. Male aye-ayes tend to share their territories with other males and are even known to share the same nests (although not at the same time), and can seemingly tolerate each other until they hear the call of a female that is looking for a mate.

5 Amazing Giraffe Facts

Five amazing giraffe facts-science on the web.

The giraffe

The giraffe (Giraffa) is a genus of African even-toed ungulate mammals, the tallest living terrestrial animals and the largest ruminants. The genus currently consists of one species, Giraffa camelopardalis, the type species. Seven other species are extinct, prehistoric species known from fossils. Taxonomic classifications of one to eight extant giraffe species have been described, based upon research into the mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, as well as morphological measurements of Giraffa, but the IUCN currently recognizes only one species with nine subspecies.

The giraffe's chief distinguishing characteristics are its extremely long neck and legs, its horn-like ossicones, and its distinctive coat patterns. It is classified under the family Giraffidae, along with its closest extant relative, the okapi. Its scattered range extends from Chad in the north to South Africa in the south, and from Niger in the west to Somalia in the east. Giraffes usually inhabit savannahs and woodlands. Their food source is leaves, fruits and flowers of woody plants, primarily acacia species, which they browse at heights most other herbivores cannot reach. They may be preyed on by lions, leopards, spotted hyenas and African wild dogs. Giraffes live in herds of related females and their offspring, or bachelor herds of unrelated adult males, but are gregarious and may gather in large aggregations. Males establish social hierarchies through "necking", which are combat bouts where the neck is used as a weapon. Dominant males gain mating access to females, which bear the sole responsibility for raising the young.

The giraffe has intrigued various cultures, both ancient and modern, for its peculiar appearance, and has often been featured in paintings, books, and cartoons. It is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as Vulnerable to extinction, and has been extirpated from many parts of its former range. Giraffes are still found in numerous national parks and game reserves but estimations as of 2016 indicate that there are approximately 97,500 members of Giraffa in the wild, with around 1,144 in captivity.

The Hedgehog

The Hedgehog

A hedgehog is any of the spiny mammals of the subfamily Erinaceinae, in the eulipotyphlan family Erinaceidae. There are seventeen species of hedgehog in five genera, found through parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and in New Zealand by introduction. There are no hedgehogs native to Australia, and no living species native to the Americas (the extinct genus Amphechinus was once present in North America). Hedgehogs share distant ancestry with shrews (family Soricidae), with gymnures possibly being the intermediate link, and have changed little over the last 15 million years. Like many of the first mammals, they have adapted to a nocturnal way of life. Hedgehogs' spiny protection resembles that of the unrelated porcupines, which are rodents, and echidnas, a type of monotreme.

The name hedgehog came into use around the year 1450, derived from the Middle English heyghoge, from heyg, hegge ("hedge"), because it frequents hedgerows, and hoge, hogge ("hog"), from its piglike snout. Other names include urchin, hedgepig and furze-pig. The collective noun for a group of hedgehogs is array.

Hedgehogs are easily recognized by their spines, which are hollow hairs made stiff with keratin. Their spines are not poisonous or barbed and unlike the quills of a porcupine, do not easily detach from their bodies. However, the immature animal's spines normally fall out as they are replaced with adult spines. This is called "quilling". Spines can also shed when the animal is diseased or under extreme stress.

A defense that all species of hedgehogs possess is the ability to roll into a tight ball, causing all of the spines to point outwards. The hedgehog's back contains two large muscles that control the position of the quills. When the creature is rolled into a ball, the quills on the back protect the tucked face, feet, and belly, which are not quilled. Since the effectiveness of this strategy depends on the number of spines, some desert hedgehogs that evolved to carry less weight are more likely to flee or even attack, ramming an intruder with the spines; rolling into a spiny ball for those species is a last resort. The various species are prey to different predators: while forest hedgehogs are prey primarily to birds (especially owls) and ferrets, smaller species like the long-eared hedgehog are prey to foxes, wolves, and mongooses.


Adopt-a-hedgehog

Hedgehog numbers have fallen by 30% in the last 10 years and it is thought that there are now less than a million left in the UK. You can help by adopting a hedgehog today devonwildlifetrust  for £23.

VIDEO

Ecuador Amazon Parrot Project


VIDEO: LATEST UPDATE FROM THE ECUADOR AMAZON PARROT PROJECT
THE ECUADOR AMAZON PARROT IS ONE OF THE RAREST BIRDS IN THE WORLD AND ITS POPULATION IS DECREASING DUE TO HABITAT DESTRUCTION. OUR TEAM OF EXPERTS HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH OUR PROJECT PARTNERS TO BRING THESE AMAZING BIRDS BACK FROM THE BRINK OF EXTINCTION. (https://www.actforwildlife.org.uk)





The Chester Zoo team have been working in Ecuador to assess the current population of the parrots, as well as their habitat. They’ve also been hard at work installing nest boxes and working with the local community to increase their understanding of the parrots’ behaviour.
Our project partners, Fundación Pro-Bosque, are based in the dry forests of the Cerro Blanco, running assessments and also protecting the forest from fires, hunters and other threats to the ecosystem. We’re also working with local independent biologists with invaluable knowledge of the area and the animals.

The Giant Forest Hog

The Giant Forest Hog
The giant forest hog (Hylochoerus meinertzhageni), the only member of its genus, is native to wooded habitats in Africa and generally is considered the largest wild member of the pig family, Suidae; a few subspecies of the wild boar can reach an even larger size. Despite its large size and relatively wide distribution, it was first described only in 1904. The specific name honours Richard Meinertzhagen, who shot the type specimen in Kenya and had it shipped to the Natural History Museum in England

The giant forest hog is, on average, the largest living species of suid. Adults can measure from 1.3 to 2.1 m (4 ft 3 in to 6 ft 11 in) in head-and-body length, with an additional tail length of 25 to 45 cm (9.8 to 17.7 in). Adults stand 0.75 to 1.1 m (2 ft 6 in to 3 ft 7 in) in height at the shoulder, and can weigh from 100 to 275 kg (220 to 606 lb). Females are smaller than males. Females weigh a median of approximately 167 kg (368 lb), as opposed to males, which weigh a median of 210 kg (460 lb). The eastern nominate subspecies is slightly larger than H. m. rimator of Central Africa and noticeably larger than H. m. ivoriensis of West Africa, with the latter sometimes being scarcely larger than related species such as the bushpig with a top recorded weight of around 150 kg (330 lb). The giant forest hog has extensive hairs on its body, though these tend to become less pronounced as the animal ages. It is mostly black in colour on the surface, though hairs nearest the skin of the animal are a deep orange colour. Its ears are large and pointy, and the tusks are proportionally smaller than those of the warthogs, but bigger than those of the bushpig. Nevertheless, the tusks of a male may reach a length of 35.9 centimetres (14.1 in).

Giant forest hogs occur in west and central Africa, where they are largely restricted to the Guinean and Congolian forests. They also occur more locally in humid highlands of the Rwenzori Mountains and as far east as Mount Kenya and the Ethiopian Highlands. They are mainly found in forest-grassland mosaics, but can also be seen in wooded savanna and subalpine habitats at altitudes up to 3,800 m (12,500 ft). They are unable to cope with low humidity or prolonged exposure to the sun, resulting in them being absent from arid regions and habitats devoid of dense cover.

The giant forest hog is mainly a herbivore, but also scavenges. It is usually considered nocturnal, but in cold periods, it is more commonly seen during daylight hours, and it may be diurnal in regions where protected from humans. They live in herds (sounders) of up to 20 animals consisting of females and their offspring, but usually also including a single old male. Females leave the sounder before giving birth and return with the piglets about a week after parturition. All members of the sounder protect the piglets and they can nurse from all females.

As all suids of Sub-Saharan Africa, the giant forest hog has not been domesticated, but it is easily tamed and has been considered to have potential for domestication. In the wild, though, the giant forest hog is more feared than the red river hog and the bush pig (the two members of the genus Potamochoerus), as males sometimes attack without warning, possibly to protect their sounder. It has also been known to drive spotted hyenas away from carcasses and fights among males resulting in the death of one of the participants are not that uncommon. Despite its size and potential for aggressive behaviour, they have been known to fall prey to leopards (probably almost exclusively large male forest leopards which are often larger than their savannah-dwelling equivalents) and clans of spotted hyenas. Although in some localities the lion may also be a predator of giant forest hogs, the species are usually segregated by habitat, as African lions do not generally occur in the densely forested habitats inhabited by this suid.

The Fossa

The Fossa
The fossa is a cat-like, carnivorous mammal endemic to Madagascar. It is a member of the Eupleridae, a family of carnivorans closely related to the mongoose family (Herpestidae). Its classification has been controversial because its physical traits resemble those of cats, yet other traits suggest a close relationship with viverrids (most civets and their relatives). Its classification, along with that of the other Malagasy carnivores, influenced hypotheses about how many times mammalian carnivores have colonized Madagascar. With genetic studies demonstrating that the fossa and all other Malagasy carnivores are most closely related to each other (forming a clade, recognized as the family Eupleridae), carnivorans are now thought to have colonized the island once, around 18 to 20 million years ago.

The fossa is the largest mammalian carnivore on the island of Madagascar and has been compared to a small cougar. Adults have a head-body length of 70–80 cm (28–31 in) and weigh between 5.5 and 8.6 kg (12 and 19 lb), with the males larger than the females. It has semi-retractable claws (meaning it can extend but not retract its claws fully) and flexible ankles that allow it to climb up and down trees head-first, and also support jumping from tree to tree. The fossa is unique within its family for the shape of its genitalia, which share traits with those of cats and hyenas.

The species is widespread, although population densities are usually low. It is found solely in forested habitat, and actively hunts both by day and night. Over 50% of its diet consists of lemurs, the endemic primates found on the island; tenrecs, rodents, lizards, birds, and other animals are also documented as prey. Mating usually occurs in trees on horizontal limbs and can last for several hours. Litters range from one to six pups, which are born blind and toothless (altricial). Infants wean after 4.5 months and are independent after a year. Sexual maturity occurs around three to four years of age, and life expectancy in captivity is 20 years. The fossa is listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is generally feared by the Malagasy people and is often protected by their fady (taboo). The greatest threat to the species is habitat destruction.

The Zebra

The Zebra
Zebras are several species of African equids (horse family) united by their distinctive black and white striped coats. Their stripes come in different patterns, unique to each individual. They are generally social animals that live in small harems to large herds. Unlike their closest relatives, horses and donkeys, zebras have never been truly domesticated.

There are three species of zebras: the plains zebra, the mountain zebra and the Grévy's zebra. The plains zebra and the mountain zebra belong to the subgenus Hippotigris, but Grévy's zebra is the sole species of subgenus Dolichohippus. The latter resembles an ass, to which zebras are closely related, while the former two look more horse-like. All three belong to the genus Equus, along with other living equids.

The unique stripes of zebras make them one of the animals most familiar to people. They occur in a variety of habitats, such as grasslands, savannas, woodlands, thorny scrublands, mountains, and coastal hills. However, various anthropogenic factors have had a severe impact on zebra populations, in particular hunting for skins and habitat destruction. Grévy's zebra and the mountain zebra are endangered. While plains zebras are much more plentiful, one subspecies, the quagga, became extinct in the late 19th century – though there is currently a plan, called the Quagga Project, that aims to breed zebras that are phenotypically similar to the quagga in a process called breeding back.

The Cheetah

The Cheetah
The cheetah is a large cat of the subfamily Felinae that occurs in Southern, North and East Africa and a few localities in Iran. The species is IUCN Red Listed as vulnerable, as it suffered a substantial decline in its historic range in the 20th century due to habitat loss, poaching, illegal pet trade, and conflict with humans. By 2016, the global cheetah population has been estimated at approximately 7,100 individuals in the wild. Several African countries have taken steps to improve cheetah conservation measures.

It is the fastest land animal. The only extant member of the genus Acinonyx, the cheetah was formally described by Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber in 1775. The cheetah is characterised by a slender body, deep chest, spotted coat, small rounded head, black tear-like streaks on the face, long thin legs and long spotted tail. Its lightly built, slender form is in sharp contrast with the robust build of the big cats, making it more similar to the cougar. The cheetah reaches nearly 70 to 90 cm (28 to 35 in) at the shoulder, and weighs 21–72 kg (46–159 lb). Though taller than the leopard, it is notably smaller than the lion. Typically yellowish tan or rufous to greyish white, the coat is uniformly covered with nearly 2,000 solid black spots.

Cheetahs are active mainly during the day, with hunting their major activity. Adult males are sociable despite their territoriality, forming groups called coalitions. Females are not territorial; they may be solitary or live with their offspring in home ranges. Carnivores, cheetah mainly prey upon antelopes and gazelles. They will stalk their prey to within 100–300 m (330–980 ft), charge towards it and kill it by tripping it during the chase and biting its throat to suffocate it to death. Cheetahs can reach speeds of 112 km/h (70 mph) in short bursts, but this is disputed by more recent measurements. The average speed of cheetahs is about 64 km/h (40 mph). Cheetahs are induced ovulators, breeding throughout the year. Gestation is nearly three months long, resulting in a litter of typically three to five cubs (the number can vary from one to eight). Weaning occurs at six months; siblings tend to stay together for some time. Cheetah cubs face higher mortality than most other mammals, especially in the Serengeti region. Cheetahs inhabit a variety of habitats – dry forests, scrub forests and savannahs.

Because of its prowess at hunting, the cheetah was tamed and used to kill game at hunts in the past. The animal has been widely depicted in art, literature, advertising and animation.


The king cheetah is a variety of cheetah with a rare mutation for cream-coloured fur marked with large, blotchy spots and three dark, wide stripes extending from their neck to the tail. In 1926 Major A. Cooper wrote about an animal he had shot near modern-day Harare. Describing the animal, he noted its remarkable similarity to the cheetah, but the body of this individual was covered with fur as thick as that of a snow leopard and the spots merged to form stripes. He suggested that it could be a cross between a leopard and a cheetah. After further similar animals were discovered, it was established they were similar to the cheetah in having non-retractable claws – a characteristic feature of the cheetah.

English zoologist Reginald Innes Pocock described it as a new species by the name of Acinonyx rex ("rex" being Latin for "king", the name translated to "king cheetah"); However, he changed his position on its species status in 1939. English hunter-naturalist Abel Chapman considered it to be a colour morph of the spotted cheetah. Since 1927 the king cheetah has been reported five more times in the wild; an individual was photographed in 1975.

In May 1981 two spotted sisters gave birth at the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre (South Africa), and each litter contained one king cheetah. Each sister had mated with a wild male from the Transvaal region (where king cheetahs had been recorded). Further king cheetahs were later born at the Centre. They have been known to exist in Zimbabwe, Botswana and northern Transvaal. In 2012 the cause of this alternative coat pattern was found to be a mutation in the gene for transmembrane aminopeptidase Q (Taqpep), the same gene responsible for the striped "mackerel" versus blotchy "classic" patterning seen in tabby cats. Hence, genetically the king cheetah is simply a variety of the common cheetah and not a separate species. This case is similar to that of the black panthers. The appearance is caused by a mutation in a recessive gene. As a result, if two mating cheetahs have the same gene, then a quarter of their offspring can be expected to be king cheetahs.

The cheetah is a felid with several distinctive features – a slender body, deep chest, spotted pelage, a small rounded head, black tear-like streaks on the face, long thin legs and a long spotted tail. Its lightly built, slender form is in sharp contrast with the robust build of the big cats. The head-and-body length ranges from 112–150 centimetres (44–59 in). Adult cheetahs average 70–90 cm (28–35 in) at the shoulder, and weigh 21–72 kilograms (46–159 lb). It is taller than the leopard, which stands nearly 55–70 centimetres (22–28 in) at the shoulder. The weight range of the cheetah overlaps with that of the leopard, which weighs 28–65 kilograms (62–143 lb). On the other hand, the cheetah is significantly shorter than the lion, whose average height is nearly 120 centimetres (47 in). Moreover, it is much lighter than the lion, among which females weigh 126 kilograms (278 lb) and the much heavier males weigh 186 kilograms (410 lb). Based on measurements, the smallest cheetahs have been reported from the Sahara, northeastern Africa and Iran. A sexually dimorphic species, males are generally larger than females.

The head is small and rounded. Saharan cheetah have narrow canine faces. Small, short, and rounded, the ears are marked by black patches on the back; the edges and base of the ears are tawny. The high-set eyes have round pupils. The whiskers, shorter and fewer in number than those of other felids, are fine and inconspicuous. The pronounced tear streaks are unique to the cheetah. These streaks originate from the corner of the eyes and run down the nose to the mouth. Their role is obscure – they may be serving as a shield for the eyes against the sun's glare, a helpful feature as the cheetah hunts mainly during the day; another purpose could be to define facial expressions. Basically yellowish tan or rufous to greyish white, the coat of the cheetah is uniformly covered with nearly 2,000 solid black spots. The upper parts are in stark contrast to the underbelly, which is completely white. Each spot measures nearly 3.2–5.1 centimetres (1.3–2.0 in) across. Every cheetah has a unique pattern of spots on its coat; hence, this serves as a distinct identity for each individual. Cheetah fur is short and often coarse. Fluffy fur covers the chest and the ventral side. Several colour morphs of the cheetah have been identified, including melanistic and albino forms. Black cheetah have been observed in Kenya and Zambia. In 1877–1878, English zoologist Philip Sclater described two partially albino specimens from South Africa. A ticked (tabby) cheetah was photographed in Kenya in 2012. Juveniles are typically dark with long, loose, blue to grey hair. A short mane, about 8 centimetres (3.1 in) long, on the neck and the shoulders, is all that remains of the cape in adults. The exceptionally long and muscular tail measures 60–80 centimetres (24–31 in), and ends in a bushy white tuft. While the first two-thirds of the tail are covered in spots, the final part is marked with four to six dark rings or stripes. The arrangement of the terminal stripes of the tail differs among individuals, but the stripe patterns of siblings are very similar. In fact, the tail of an individual will typically resemble its siblings' to a greater extent than it resembles its mother's or any other individual's.

The cheetah is sometimes confused with the leopard, and can be distinguished by its small round spots in contrast to the leopard's rosettes in addition, the leopard lacks the tear streaks of the cheetah. The cougar possesses neither the tear streaks nor the spotted coat pattern of the cheetah. The serval has a form very similar to that of the cheetah but is significantly smaller. Moreover, it has a shorter tail and spots that fuse to form stripes on the back.

Hope for shy Albatross(wwf)

Artificial nests bring new hope for vulnerable shy albatross(WWF)


Over 100 specially built mudbrick and aerated concrete artificial nests were airlifted on to Bass Strait’s Albatross Island off the northwest coast of Tasmania in July 2017 to trial a program aimed at increasing the breeding success of the shy albatross.


Luckily, the artificial nests appear to be working.
“Shy albatross lay a single egg in late September and those eggs have now hatched,” said Dr. Rachael Alderman, a biologist with the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. “At this stage in the trial, the breeding success of pairs on artificial nests is 20% higher than those on natural nests. There are many more months ahead for all the chicks, and a lot can change, but so far it’s very promising.”

Endemic to Australia, shy albatross only nest on three islands off the coast of Tasmania—Albatross Island, Pedra Branca, and Mewstone. In some parts of the Albatross Island colony, birds struggle to find and keep sufficient nesting material, resulting in poor quality nests.

Conservation scientists and funding partners from the Tasmanian and Australian governments, WWF-Australia, WWF's Wildlife Adaptation Innovation Fund, CSIRO Marine Climate Impact, and the Tasmanian Albatross Fund have worked together to place nests in areas where they were typically of lower quality. Recent monitoring shows that the birds are accepting the nests and personalizing them with mud and vegetation.

High quality nests help keep eggs and chicks safe from the harsh weather that hits Albatross Island. Darren Grover, WWF-Australia's head of living ecosystems, recently visited the project site and found that while many of the natural nests had already begun to deteriorate, the artificial nests remained intact. 

When the chicks are fully grown and about to fly from the island for the first time, scientists will attach tiny satellite trackers to them to capture the movements of their first few months at sea. This will provide crucial information about why fewer juveniles are surviving.

As the climate continues to change, scientists need to develop, test, and evaluate new approaches to protecting vulnerable species. This collaborative innovation is an encouraging step for the future of the shy albatross and can serve as a model for other wildlife recovery efforts.

"This is a really innovative project, and exactly the kind of thinking we need if we're to help species adapt in a changing world," said Nikhil Advani, lead specialist for WWF's climate, communities, and biodiversity work. 

Dr. Sally Box, Australia’s threatened species commissioner, agreed: “We all have a role to play in protecting our threatened species, and thanks to contributions by government, scientists, and non-government partners, we are starting to see some really positive outcomes for the shy albatross in Tasmania.”

WWF’s Wildlife Adaptation Innovation Fund supports the testing of new ideas through on the ground projects which have potential to reduce the vulnerability of species to changes in climate. Success and lessons learned from these pilot projects will provide useful guidance that move conservation beyond business as usual approaches and rapidly scale promising efforts to help wildlife endure under conditions of rapid change.

The Bontebok

The Bontebok
The bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus) is an antelope found in South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia. The bontebok has two subspecies; the bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus), occurring naturally in the Fynbos and Renosterveld areas of the Western Cape, and the blesbok (Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi) occurring in the highveld.

The bontebok is a tall, medium-sized antelope. They typically stand 80 to 100 cm (31 to 39 in) high at the shoulder and measure 120 to 210 cm (47 to 83 in) along the head and body. The tail can range from 30 to 60 cm (12 to 24 in). Body mass can vary from 50 to 155 kg (110 to 342 lb). Males are slightly larger and noticeably heavier than females. The bontebok is a chocolate brown colour, with a white underside and a white stripe from the forehead to the tip of the nose, although there is a brown stripe across the white near the eyes in most blesbok. The bontebok also has a distinctive white patch around its tail (whence the Latin name), while this patch is light brown/tan in blesbok. The horns of bontebok are lyre-shaped and clearly ringed. They are found in both sexes and can reach a length of half a metre.

Blesbok live in highveld, where they eat short grasses, while bontebok are restricted to coastal Fynbos and Renosterveld. They are diurnal, though they rest during the heat of the day. Herds contain only males, only females, or are mixed, and do not exceed 40 animals for bonteboks or 70 for blesboks.

Bontebok are not good jumpers, but they are very good at crawling under things. Mature males form territories and face down other males in displays and occasionally combat.

Bontebok were once extensively killed as pests, and were reduced to a wild population of just 17 animals, but the species has since recovered. Blesbok are extinct in their natural habitat, but they have increased in population to the point where they are now very abundant and avidly farmed, because they are popular quarry for hunters and are easy to sustain.

The Orangutan

The endangered orangutan found only in the rainforest of borneo and sunatra
The orangutans  are three extant species of great apes native to Indonesia and Malaysia. Orangutans are currently only found in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. Classified in the genus Pongo, orangutans were originally considered to be one species. From 1996, they were divided into two species: the Bornean orangutan (P. pygmaeus, with three subspecies) and the Sumatran orangutan (P. abelii). In November 2017 it was reported that a third species had been identified, the Tapanuli orangutan (P. tapanuliensis).

Genomic comparisons show that the Tapanuli orangutan separated from the Sumatran orangutan about 3.4 million years ago. The Tapanuli orangutan separated from the Bornean orangutan much later, about 670,000 years ago. The orangutans are the only surviving species of the subfamily Ponginae, which also included several other species, such as the three extinct species of the genus Gigantopithecus, including the largest known primate Gigantopithecus blacki. The ancestors of the Ponginae subfamily split from the main ape line in Africa 16 to 19 million years ago (mya) and spread into Asia.



Orangutans are the most arboreal of the great apes and spend most of their time in trees. Their hair is reddish-brown, instead of the brown or black hair typical of chimpanzees and gorillas. Males and females differ in size and appearance. Dominant adult males have distinctive cheek pads and produce long calls that attract females and intimidate rivals. Younger males do not have these characteristics and resemble adult females. Orangutans are the most solitary of the great apes, with social bonds occurring primarily between mothers and their dependent offspring, who stay together for the first two years. Fruit is the most important component of an orangutan's diet; however, the apes will also eat vegetation, bark, honey, insects and even bird eggs. They can live over 30 years in both the wild and captivity.

Orangutans are among the most intelligent primates; they use a variety of sophisticated tools and construct elaborate sleeping nests each night from branches and foliage. The apes have been extensively studied for their learning abilities. There may even be distinctive cultures within populations. Field studies of the apes were pioneered by primatologist Birutė Galdikas. All three orangutan species are considered to be critically endangered. Human activities have caused severe declines in populations and ranges. Threats to wild orangutan populations include poaching, habitat destruction, and the illegal pet trade. Several conservation and rehabilitation organisations are dedicated to the survival of orangutans in the wild.

The endangered orangutan found only in the rainforest of borneo and sunatra
Photo Credit: orangutan.org

The name "orangutan" (also written orang-utan, orang utan, orangutang, and ourang-outang) is derived from the Malay and Indonesian words orang meaning "person" and hutan meaning "forest", thus "person of the forest".

The Malay words used to refer specifically to the ape are maias and mawas, but it is unclear if those words refer to just orangutans, or to all apes in general.[citation needed] The first attestation of the word orangutan to name the Asian ape is in Dutch physician Jacobus Bontius' 1631 Historiae naturalis et medicae Indiae orientalis – he reported that Malays had informed him the ape was able to talk, but preferred not to "lest he be compelled to labour". The word appeared in several German-language descriptions of Indonesian zoology in the 17th century. The likely origin of the word comes specifically from the Banjarese variety of Malay.

Cribb et al. (2014) suggest that Bontius' account referred not to apes (which were not known from Java) but rather to humans suffering some serious medical condition (most likely endemic cretinism) and that his use of the word was misunderstood by Nicolaes Tulp, who was the first to use the term in a publication.

The word was first attested in English in 1691 in the form orang-outang, and variants with -ng instead of -n as in the Malay original are found in many languages. This spelling (and pronunciation) has remained in use in English up to the present, but has come to be regarded as incorrect. The loss of "h" in Utan and the shift from n to -ng has been taken to suggest that the term entered English through Portuguese. In 1869, British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, co-creator of modern evolutionary theory, published his account of Malaysia's wildlife: The Malay Archipelago: The Land of the Orang-Utan and the Bird of Paradise.

The name of the genus, Pongo, comes from a 16th-century account by Andrew Battel, an English sailor held prisoner by the Portuguese in Angola, which describes two anthropoid "monsters" named Pongo and Engeco. He is now believed to have been describing gorillas, but in the 18th century, the terms orangutan and pongo were used for all great apes. Lacépède used the term Pongo for the genus following the German botanist Friedrich von Wurmb who sent a skeleton from the Indies to Europe.

The Viper Fish

The Viper fish with the vampire teeth is a marine animal characterized by long needle like teeth
Photo Credit: Davian Art


A viperfish is any species of marine fish in the genus Chauliodus. Viperfish are characterized by long, needle-like teeth and hinged lower jaws. A typical viperfish grows to lengths of 30 to 60 cm (12 to 23.5 in). Viperfish stay near lower depths (250–5,000 feet [80–1,520 m]) in the daytime and shallower depths at night, primarily in tropical and temperate waters. Viperfish are believed to attack prey after luring them within range with light-producing organs called photophores, which are located along the ventral sides of its body, and with a prominent photophore at the end of a long spine in the dorsal fin reminiscent of the illicium of the unrelated deepsea anglerfishes. The viperfish flashes this natural light on and off, at the same time moving its dorsal spine around like a fishing rod and hanging completely still in the water. It also uses the light producing organ to communicate to potential mates and rivals.

Viperfish vary in color from green, silver, to black. A viperfish uses its fang-like teeth to immobilize prey and would not be able to close its mouth because of their length, if it were not able to fold and curve them behind its head. The first vertebra behind the head of the viperfish absorbs the shock of biting prey. As with other deepsea fish, they are able to undergo long periods with scarcely any food.

Viperfish are believed to live from 30 to 40 years in the wild, but in captivity they rarely live more than a few hours. Some species of dolphins and sharks are known to prey upon viperfish. Scientists believe they can swim at a speed of two body lengths per second, but this is not yet an official speed.

Although it may look like it is covered in scales, it in fact is covered by a thick, transparent coating of unknown substance. Extremely large, fang-like teeth give the fish a slightly protruded lower jaw which makes catching prey easy for this deep-sea predator. The viperfish is lined with three different types of photophores which some speculate is used to lure in unsuspecting prey  They have microscopic spheres without a pigment layer that are scattered over the dorsal side, large spheres with a pigment coat, reflectors, and lens, and finally, large, bell-shaped organs with a pigment coat, reflectors, and lens that are grouped together in rows along the dorsal surface. Photophores can also be seen along the ventral and lateral surface of the fish.

Because viperfish live in bathypelagic environments inaccessible to humans, very little is known about their habits. They are found from a depth of 1000 to 4000 meters with an average temperature of 4 degrees Celsius. Viperfish are thought to engage in a daily vertical migration, as they have been observed in the mesopelagic region during the night, which lies directly above the bathypelagic region. More direct observation is needed to confirm this assumption, however.

Viperfish do not appear to have any preferred prey: stomach contents of captured individuals have contained lanternfish, bristlemouthes, and other fish, suggesting that they attack and swallow whatever random prey they encounter. With their dark coloration, they can appear invisible and have been observed to remain motionless for hours ready to strike on unsuspecting prey. Prey is captured and killed by being pierced by the viperfish's long teeth as the prey is grasped in the viperfish's mouth: subdued prey is then swallowed whole. The photophores along the viperfish's belly are thought to help lure prey closer to it, though further observation is needed to confirm this hypothesis.

The Elephant

Elephants are large mammals of the family Elephantidae and the order Proboscidea.
Photo Credit: defenders.org

Elephants are large mammals of the family Elephantidae and the order Proboscidea. Three species are currently recognized: the African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana), the African forest elephant (L. cyclotis), and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). Elephants are scattered throughout sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Elephantidae is the only surviving family of the order Proboscidea; other, now extinct, members of the order include deinotheres, gomphotheres, mammoths, and mastodons.

All elephants have several distinctive features, the most notable of which is a long trunk or proboscis, used for many purposes, particularly breathing, lifting water, and grasping objects. Their incisors grow into tusks, which can serve as weapons and as tools for moving objects and digging. Elephants' large ear flaps help to control their body temperature. Their pillar-like legs can carry their great weight. African elephants have larger ears and concave backs while Asian elephants have smaller ears and convex or level backs.

Elephants are large mammals of the family Elephantidae and the order Proboscidea.
Photo Credit: pbs.org

Elephants are herbivorous and can be found in different habitats including savannahs, forests, deserts, and marshes. They prefer to stay near water. They are considered to be keystone species due to their impact on their environments. Other animals tend to keep their distance from elephants while predators, such as lions, tigers, hyenas, and any wild dogs, usually target only young elephants (or "calves"). Females ("cows") tend to live in family groups, which can consist of one female with her calves or several related females with offspring. The groups are led by an individual known as the matriarch, often the oldest cow.

Elephants have a fission–fusion society in which multiple family groups come together to socialise. Males ("bulls") leave their family groups when they reach puberty and may live alone or with other males. Adult bulls mostly interact with family groups when looking for a mate and enter a state of increased testosterone and aggression known as musth, which helps them gain dominance and reproductive success. Calves are the centre of attention in their family groups and rely on their mothers for as long as three years. Elephants can live up to 70 years in the wild. They communicate by touch, sight, smell, and sound; elephants use infrasound, and seismic communication over long distances. Elephant intelligence has been compared with that of primates and cetaceans. They appear to have self-awareness and show empathy for dying or dead individuals of their kind.

Elephants are large mammals of the family Elephantidae and the order Proboscidea.
Photo Credit: thoughtco.com

African elephants are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) while the Asian elephant is classed as endangered. One of the biggest threats to elephant populations is the ivory trade, as the animals are poached for their ivory tusks. Other threats to wild elephants include habitat destruction and conflicts with local people. Elephants are used as working animals in Asia. In the past, they were used in war; today, they are often controversially put on display in zoos, or exploited for entertainment in circuses. Elephants are highly recognisable and have been featured in art, folklore, religion, literature, and popular culture.

The Mosquito Causing Malaria

Mosquito has survived everywhere in the world causing malaria except in Antarctica.
Photo Credit: sciencenews.org
Clocking in at just three millimeters at their smallest, the common mosquito, even tinier than the tsetse fly, ranks as the second most dangerous on our list due to the sheer amount of deaths each year attributed to the various pathogens carried by several of the more than 3,000 species around the world. Found in every region on the planet except Antarctica, the irritating insects—primarily those from the genera Aedes, Anopheles, and Culex—are the primary vectors of diseases such as malaria, Chikungunya, encephalitis, elephantiasis, yellow fever, dengue fever, West Nile virus, and the Zika virus, which collectively afflict an estimated 700 million and kill roughly 725,000 people each year. 

Mosquito has survived everywhere in the world causing malaria except in Antarctica.
Photo Credit: treehugger.com

As the World Health Organization notes, more than half of the human population is currently at risk from mosquito-borne diseases. Given that the pests are attracted to our body temperatures and the CO2 we exhale, our best tools to prevent infection lie in the usage of insect repellents high in active ingredients like DEET and picaridin.

The Dangerous Tse-tse Fly

the most dangerous fly is the tse-tse fly causing sleeping sickness
Photo Credit: bbc.com
Often regarded as the world’s most dangerous fly, the tsetse fly—a small speck of insect that measures between 8 to 17 mm, or about the same size as the average house fly—is commonly found in sub-Saharan countries, especially those in the center of the continent including the Sudans, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Angola. While the flies themselves are nasty bloodsucking bugs that usually feed during the peak warm hours, their true terror lies in the protozoan parasites they spread known as Trypanosomes.

the most dangerous fly is the tse-tse fly causing sleeping sickness
Photo Credit: fieldandstream.com



These microscopic pathogens are the causative agent of African Sleeping Sickness, a disease marked by neurological and meningoencephalitic symptoms including behavioral changes, poor coordination, as well as the disturbances in sleeping cycles that give the illness its name. It can cause death if left untreated. While there are no vaccines or medications available to prevent infection, methods of protection include wearing neutral-colored clothing (the tsetse fly is attracted to bright and dark colors, especially blue), avoiding bushes during the day, and using permethrin-treated gear in more remote areas.


Saltwater Crocodile


Salt water crocodile, the largest riparian predator in the world.
The saltwater crocodile is the largest of all living reptiles, as well as the largest riparian predator in the world. Males of this species can reach sizes up to 20.7 ft and possibly up to  23.0 ft in length. However, females are much smaller and often do not surpass 3 m (9.8 ft).

As its name implies, this species of crocodile can live in marine environments, but usually resides in saline and brackish mangrove swamps, estuaries, deltas, lagoons, and lower stretches of rivers. They have the broadest distribution of any modern crocodile, ranging from the eastern coast of India throughout most of Southeast Asia and northern Australia.

Salt water crocodile, the largest riparian predator in the world.
Photo Credit: oceana.org

The saltwater crocodile is a large and opportunistic hypercarnivorous apex predator. Most prey are ambushed and then drowned or swallowed whole. It is capable of prevailing over almost any animal that enters its territory, including other apex predators such as sharks, varieties of freshwater and marine fish including pelagic species, invertebrates such as crustaceans, various reptiles, birds and mammals, including humans. Due to their size, aggression and distribution, saltwater crocodiles are regarded as the most dangerous extant crocodilian to humans, alongside the Nile crocodile.

The Black Mamba

The black mamba snake of sub-sahara Africa is the longest species of the venomous snake indegenous to Africa
Photo Credit: change.org
The black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) is a highly venomous snake endemic to parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Skin colour varies from grey to dark brown. Juvenile black mambas tend to be paler than adults and darken with age. It is the longest species of venomous snake indigenous to the African continent; mature specimens generally exceed 2 meters (6.6 ft) and commonly attain 3 meters (9.8 ft). Specimens of 4.3 to 4.5 meters (14.1 to 14.8 ft) have been reported.

Although most mamba species are tree-dwelling snakes, the black mamba is not generally arboreal, preferring lairs in terrestrial habitats in a range of terrains. These include savannah, woodlands, rocky slopes and, in some regions, dense forest. It is diurnal and chiefly an ambush predator, known to prey on hyrax, bushbabies and other small mammals, as well as birds. It is also a pursuit predator; in this it resembles other long, speedy, highly venomous species with well-developed vision. Over suitable surfaces it is possibly the fastest species of snake, capable of at least 11 km/h (6.8 mph) over short distances. Adult mambas have few natural predators.
The black mamba snake of sub-sahara Africa is the longest species of the venomous snake indegenous to Africa Photo Credit: change.org
Photo Credit: wallup.net

In a threat display, the mamba usually opens its inky-black mouth, spreads its narrow neck-flap and sometimes hisses. It is capable of striking at considerable range and may occasionally deliver a series of bites in rapid succession. Its venom is primarily composed of potent neurotoxins that may cause a fast onset of symptoms. Despite its reputation as formidable and highly aggressive, it usually attempts to flee from humans unless threatened or cornered. The black mamba is rated as least concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)'s Red List of Endangered species.

It is an elapid within the genus Dendroaspis. Although it had been known to missionaries and residents, before 1860, by the name "mamba", which was already established in the vernacular and taken from the Zulu word "imamba", the first formal description was made by German-British zoologist Albert Günther in 1864. A single specimen was one of many snake species collected by Dr John Kirk, a naturalist who accompanied Dr David Livingstone on the Second Zambesi expedition. In 1873, German naturalist Wilhelm Peters described Dendraspis Antinorii from a specimen in the museum of Genoa, which had been killed by Orazio Antinori in what is now northern Eritrea. This was subsequently regarded as a subspecies, and is no longer held to be distinct. In 1896, George Albert Boulenger combined the species (Dendroaspis polylepis) as a whole with the eastern green mamba (Dendroaspis angusticeps), a lumping diagnosis that remained in force until 1946, when FitzSimons split them again into separate species.