The Leafy Seadragon


About The Leafy Seadragon
The leafy seadragon or Glauert's seadragon, Phycodurus eques, is a marine fish in the family Syngnathidae, which includes seadragons, pipefish, and seahorses. It is the only member of the genus Phycodurus.
It is found along the southern and western coasts of Australia. The name is derived from the appearance, with long leaf-like protrusions coming from all over the body. These protrusions are not used for propulsion; they serve only as camouflage. The leafy seadragon propels itself by means of a pectoral fin on the ridge of its neck and a dorsal fin on its back closer to the tail end. These small fins are almost completely transparent and difficult to see as they undulate minutely to move the creature sedately through the water, completing the illusion of floating seaweed.

Reproduction
As with seahorses, the male leafy seadragon cares for the eggs. The female produces up to 250 bright pink eggs, then deposits them onto the male's tail with her ovipositor, a long tube. The eggs then attach themselves to a brood patch, which supplies them with oxygen. After 9 weeks, the eggs begin to hatch, depending on water conditions. The eggs turn a ripe purple or orange over this period, after which the male pumps his tail until the young emerge, a process which takes place over 24–48 hours. The male aids in the eggs hatching by shaking his tail, and rubbing it against seaweed and rocks. Once born, the young seadragon is completely independent, eating small zooplankton until large enough to hunt mysids. Only about 5% of the eggs survive.

Movement
The leafy seadragon uses the fins along the side of its head to allow it to steer and turn. However, its outer skin is fairly rigid, limiting mobility. Individual leafy seadragons have been observed remaining in one location for extended periods of time (up to 68 hours), but will sometimes move for lengthy periods. The tracking of one individual indicated it moved at up to 150 m (490 ft) per hour.

Kiwa, God of Shellfish, Crab



About Kiwa 
Kiwa hirsuta is a crustacean discovered in 2005 in the South Pacific Ocean. This decapod, which is approximately 15 cm (5.9 in) long, is notable for the quantity of silky blond setae (resembling fur) covering its pereiopods (thoracic legs, including claws). Its discoverers dubbed it the "yeti lobster" or "yeti crab"

Characteristics
The animal has strongly reduced eyes that lack pigment, and is thought to be blind. The "hairy" pincers contain filamentous bacteria, which the creature may use to detoxify poisonous minerals from the water emitted by the hydrothermal vents where it lives. This process is known as chemosynthesis. Alternatively, it may feed on bacteria, although it is generally thought to be a carnivore.

Although it is often referred to as the "furry lobster" outside the scientific literature, Kiwa hirsuta is a squat lobster, more closely related to crabs and hermit crabs than true lobsters. The term "furry lobster" is more commonly used for the family Synaxidae.

The Vampire Squid from Hell

The Vampire Squid

About the Vampire Squid
The vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis, lit. "vampire squid from Hell") is a small cephalopod found throughout temperate and tropical oceans in extreme deep sea conditions. Unique retractile sensory filaments justify the vampire squid's placement in its own order, Vampyromorphida, as it shares similarities with both octopuses and squid. As a phylogenetic relict, it is the only known surviving member of its order. The first specimens were collected on the Valdivia Expedition and they were originally described as an octopus in 1903 by German teuthologist Carl Chun, but later assigned to a new order together with several extinct taxa.

Description
The vampire squid can reach a maximum total length around 30 cm (1 ft). Its 15-cm (6-in) gelatinous body varies in colour from velvety jet-black to pale reddish, depending on location and lighting conditions. A webbing of skin connects its eight arms, each lined with rows of fleshy spines or cirri; the inner side of this "cloak" is black. Only the distal halves (farthest from the body) of the arms have suckers. Its limpid, globular eyes, which appear red or blue, depending on lighting, are proportionately the largest in the animal kingdom at 2.5 cm (1 in) in diameter. The name of the animal was inspired by its dark colour, cloak-like webbing, and red eyes, rather than habit—it feeds on detritus, not blood.

Mature adults have a pair of small fins projecting from the lateral sides of the mantle. These fins serve as the adult's primary means of propulsion: vampire squid "fly" through the water by flapping their fins. Their beak-like jaws are white. Within the webbing are two pouches wherein the tactile velar filaments are concealed. The filaments are analogous to a true squid's tentacles, extending well past the arms; but differ in origin, and represent the pair that was lost by the ancestral octopus.

The vampire squid is almost entirely covered in light-producing organs called photophores, capable of producing disorienting flashes of light ranging in duration from fractions of a second to several minutes. The intensity and size of the photophores can also be modulated. Appearing as small, white discs, the photophores are larger and more complex at the tips of the arms and at the base of the two fins, but are absent from the undersides of the caped arms. Two larger, white areas on top of the head were initially believed to also be photophores, but are now identified as photoreceptors.

The chromatophores (pigment organs) common to most cephalopods are poorly developed in the vampire squid. Although the animal is, therefore, incapable of changing its skin colour in the dramatic fashion of shallow-dwelling cephalopods, such ability would not be useful at the lightless depths where it lives.

The Serval

About the Serval
The serval is a wild cat native to Africa. It is rare in North Africa and the Sahel, but widespread in sub-Saharan countries except rainforest regions. On the IUCN Red List it is listed as Least Concern.

It is the sole member of the genus Leptailurus and was first described by German naturalist Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber in 1776. Eighteen subspecies are

Active in the day as well as at night, servals tend to be solitary with minimal social interaction. Both sexes establish highly overlapping home ranges of 10 to 32 km2 (4–12 sq mi), and mark them with feces and saliva. Servals are carnivores – they prey on rodents (particularly vlei rats), small birds, frogs, insects, and reptiles. The serval uses its sense of hearing to locate the prey; to kill small prey, it leaps over 2 m (6 ft 7 in) above the ground to land on the prey on its forefeet, and finally kills it with a bite on the neck or the head. Mating takes place at different times of the year in different parts of their range, but typically once or twice a year in an area. After a gestational period of two to three months, a litter of one to four is born. Weaning occurs at one month, and kittens begin hunting on their own at six months. The juveniles leave their mother at 12 months.

Characteristics
The serval is a slender, medium-sized cat; it stands 54 to 62 cm (21–24 in) at the shoulder and weighs 8 to 18 kg (18–40 lb), but females tend to be lighter. The head-and-body length is typically between 67 and 100 cm (26–39 in). Males tend to be sturdier than females.[8] Prominent characteristics include the small head, large ears, spotted and striped coat, long legs and a black-tipped tail that is around 30 cm (12 in) long.[16][18] The serval has the longest legs of any cat relative to its body size, largely due to the greatly elongated metatarsal bones in the feet. The toes are elongated as well, and unusually mobile.

Reproduction
Both sexes become sexually mature when they are one to two years old. Oestrus in females lasts one to four days; it typically occurs once or twice a year, though it can occur three or four times a year if the mother loses her litters. Observations of captive servals suggest that when a female enters oestrus, the rate of urine-marking increases in her as well as the males in her vicinity. Zoologist Jonathan Kingdon described the behaviour of a female serval in oestrus in his 1997 book East African Mammals. He noted that she would roam restlessly, spray urine frequently holding her vibrating tail in a vertical manner, rub her head near the place she has marked, salivate continuously, give out sharp and short "miaow"s that can be heard for quite a distance, and rub her mouth and cheeks against the face of an approaching male. The time when mating takes place varies geographically; births peak in winter in Botswana, and toward the end of the dry season in the Ngorongoro Crater. A trend generally observed across the range is that births precede the breeding season of murid rodents.

Gestation lasts for two to three months, following which a litter of one to four kittens is born. Births take place in secluded areas, for example in dense vegetation or burrows abandoned by aardvarks and porcupines. Blind at birth, newborn weigh nearly 250 grams (9 oz) and have soft, woolly hair (greyer than in adults) and unclear markings. The eyes open after nine to thirteen days. Weaning begins after a month of birth; the mother brings small kills to her kittens and calls out to them as she approaches the "den". A mother with young kittens rests for a notably lesser time and has to spend almost twice the time and energy for hunting than do other servals. If disturbed, the mother will shift her kittens one by one to a more secure place. Kittens eventually start accompanying their mother to hunts. At around six months, they acquire their permanent canines and begin to hunt themselves; they leave their mother at about 12 months of age. They may reach sexual maturity from 12 to 25 months of age. Life expectancy is about 10 years in the wild, and up to 20 years in captivity.

‘Catastrophe’ as France’s bird population collapses due to pesticides



Bird populations across the French countryside have fallen by a third over the last decade and a half, researchers have said.

Dozens of species have seen their numbers decline, in some cases by two-thirds, the scientists said in a pair of studies – one national in scope and the other covering a large agricultural region in central France.

“The situation is catastrophic,” said Benoit Fontaine, a conservation biologist at France’s National Museum of Natural History and co-author of one of the studies.

“Our countryside is in the process of becoming a veritable desert,” he said in a communique released by the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), which also contributed to the findings.

The common white throat, the ortolan bunting, the Eurasian skylark and other once-ubiquitous species have all fallen off by at least a third, according a detailed, annual census initiated at the start of the century.

A migratory song bird, the meadow pipit, has declined by nearly 70%.

The museum described the pace and extent of the wipe-out as “a level approaching an ecological catastrophe”.

The primary culprit, researchers speculate, is the intensive use of pesticides on vast tracts of monoculture crops, especially wheat and corn.

The problem is not that birds are being poisoned, but that the insects on which they depend for food have disappeared.

“There are hardly any insects left, that’s the number one problem,” said Vincent Bretagnolle, a CNRS ecologist at the Centre for Biological Studies in Chize.

Recent research, he noted, has uncovered similar trends across Europe, estimating that flying insects have declined by 80%, and bird populations has dropped by more than 400m in 30 years.

Despite a government plan to cut pesticide use in half by 2020, sales in France have climbed steadily, reaching more than 75,000 tonnes of active ingredient in 2014, according to European Union figures.

“What is really alarming, is that all the birds in an agricultural setting are declining at the same speed, even ’generalist’ birds,” which also thrive in other settings such as wooded areas, said Bretagnolle.

“That shows that the overall quality of the agricultural eco-system is deteriorating.”

Figures from the national survey – which relies on a network of hundreds of volunteer ornithologists – indicate the die-off gathered pace in 2016 and 2017.

Drivers of the drop in bird populations extend beyond the depletion of their main food source, the scientists said.

Shrinking woodlands, the absence of the once common practice of letting fields lie fallow and especially rapidly expanding expanses of mono-crops have each played a role.

“If the situation is not yet irreversible, all the actors in the agriculture sector must work together to change their practices,” Fontaine said.

News Source: Focusing On Wild Life

The Kinkajou


About The Kinkajou
The kinkajou is a rainforest mammal of the family Procyonidae related to olingos, coatis, raccoons, and the ringtail and cacomistle. It is the only member of the genus Potos and is also known as the "honey bear" (a name that it shares with the sun bear). Kinkajous may be mistaken for ferrets or monkeys, but are not closely related to either. Native to Central America and South America, this mostly frugivorous, arboreal mammal is not an endangered species, though it is seldom seen by people because of its strict nocturnal habits. However, they are hunted for the pet trade, for their fur (to make wallets and horse saddles) and for their meat. The species has been included in Appendix III of CITES by Honduras, which means that exports from Honduras require an export permit and exports from other countries require a certificate of origin or re-export. They may live up to 40 years in captivity.

Size
An adult kinkajou weighs 1.4–4.6 kg (3–10 lb). The adult body length is 40–60 cm (16–24 in); in addition to body length, the length of the prehensile tail is 40–60 cm (16–24 in).

Diet
Although the kinkajou is classified in the order Carnivora and has sharp teeth, its omnivorous diet consists mainly of fruit, particularly figs. Studies have shown that 90% of their diet consists of (primarily ripe) fruit. To eat softer fruits they hold it with their forepaws, then scoop out the succulent pulp with their tongue. They may play an important role in seed dispersal. Leaves, flowers, and various herbs make up much of the other 10% of their diet. They sometimes eat insects, particularly ants. It has been suggested, without direct evidence, that they may occasionally eat bird eggs and small vertebrates. Their frugivorous habits are actually convergent with those of (diurnal) spider monkeys.

The kinkajou's slender five-inch extrudable tongue helps the animal to obtain fruit and to lick nectar from flowers, so that it sometimes acts as a pollinator. (Nectar is also sometimes obtained by eating entire flowers.) Although captive specimens will avidly eat honey (hence the name "honey bear"), honey has not yet been observed in the diet of wild kinkajous.

Range and Habitat
Kinkajous range from east and south of the Sierra Madres in Mexico, throughout Central America to Bolivia east of the Andes and the Atlantic Forest of southeastern Brazil. Their altitudinal range is from sea level to 2500 m. They are found in closed-canopy tropical forests, including lowland rainforest, montane forest, dry forest, gallery forest and secondary forest. Deforestation is thus a potential threat to the species.

Reproduction
Female kinkajous give birth to one offspring in spring or summer. The baby is born with its eyes shut and cannot see for a month. It develops quickly, however, and by the end of the second month, it is already able to hang upside down from its tail.




True fact about the cuttle fish

Cuttlefish



Cuttlefish or cuttles are marine animals of the order Sepiida. They belong to the class Cephalopoda, which also includes squid, octopuses, and nautiluses. Cuttlefish have a unique internal shell, the cuttlebone. Despite their name, cuttlefish are not fish but molluscs.

Cuttlefish have large, W-shaped pupils, eight arms, and two tentacles furnished with denticulated suckers, with which they secure their prey. They generally range in size from 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 in), with the largest species, Sepia apama, reaching 50 cm (20 in) in mantle length and over 10.5 kg (23 lb) in mass.

Cuttlefish eat small molluscs, crabs, shrimp, fish, octopus, worms, and other cuttlefish. Their predators include dolphins, sharks, fish, seals, seabirds, and other cuttlefish. The average life expectancy of a cuttlefish is about one to two years. Recent studies indicate cuttlefish are among the most intelligent invertebrates. Cuttlefish also have one of the largest brain-to-body size ratios of all invertebrates.

The 'cuttle' in 'cuttlefish' comes from the Old English name for the species, cudele, which may be cognate with the Old Norse koddi ('cushion') and the Middle Low German Kudel ('rag'). The Greco-Roman world valued the cuttlefish as a source of the unique brown pigment the creature releases from its siphon when it is alarmed. The word for it in both Greek and Latin, sepia, now refers to a brown pigment in English.

The family Sepiidae, which contains all cuttlefish, inhabit tropical/temperate ocean waters. They are mostly shallow-water animals, although they are known to go to depths of about 600 m (2,000 ft). They have an unusual biogeographic pattern: they are present along the coasts of East and South Asia, Western Europe, and the Mediterranean, as well as all coasts of Africa and Australia but are totally absent from the Americas. By the time the family evolved, ostensibly in the Old World, the North Atlantic possibly had become too cold and deep for these warm-water species to cross. The common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis), is found in the Mediterranean, and North and Baltic Seas, although it has been suggested populations occur as far south as South Africa. They are found in sublittoral depths, between the low tide line and the edge of the continental shelf, to about 180 m (100 fathoms)."The cuttlefish is listed under the Red List category of "Least Concern" by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This means that while there has been some over-exploitation of the marine animal in some regions due to large-scale commercial fishing, their wide geographic range prevents them from being too threatened. Ocean acidification, however, caused largely by higher levels of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere, is cited as a potential threat.

Male cuttlefish challenge one another for dominance and the best den during mating season. During this challenge, no direct contact is usually made. The animals will threaten each other until one of them backs down and swims away. Eventually, the larger male cuttlefish mate with the females by grabbing them with their tentacles, turning the female so that the two animals are face-to-face, then using a specialized tentacle to insert sperm sacs into an opening near the female's mouth. The male then guards the female until she lays the eggs a few hours later.

On occasion, a large competitor arrives to threaten the male cuttlefish. In these instances, the male will first attempt to intimidate the other fish. If the competitor does not flee, the male will eventually attack it to force it away. The cuttlefish that can paralyze the other first, by forcing near its mouth, wins the fight and the female. Since there are, on average, four or five ( and sometimes as many as ten) males for every female, this kind of behavior is inevitable.

Cuttlefish are indeterminate growers, so smaller cuttlefish always have a chance at finding a mate the next year when they are bigger. Additionally, cuttlefish unable to win in a direct confrontation with a guard male have been observed employing several other tactics to acquire a mate. The most successful of these methods is camouflage; smaller cuttlefish will use their camouflage abilities to disguise themselves as a female cuttlefish. Changing their body color, concealing their extra arms (males have four pairs, females only have three), and even pretending to be holding an egg sack, disguised males are able to swim past the larger guard male and mate with the female.

The Tasmanian devil



The Tasmanian devil is a carnivorous marsupial of the family Dasyuridae. It was once native to mainland Australia and is now found in the wild only on the island state of Tasmania, including tiny east-coast Maria Island where there is a conservation project with disease-free animals.

The size of a small dog, the Tasmanian devil became the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world following the extinction of the thylacine in 1936. It is related to quolls and distantly related to the thylacine. It is characterised by its stocky and muscular build, black fur, pungent odour, extremely loud and disturbing screech, keen sense of smell, and ferocity when feeding. The Tasmanian devil's large head and neck allow it to generate among the strongest bites per unit body mass of any extant mammal land predator, and it hunts prey and scavenges carrion as well as eating household products if humans are living nearby.

Although it usually is solitary, it sometimes eats with other devils and defecates in a communal location. Unlike most other dasyurids, the devil thermoregulates effectively and is active during the middle of the day without overheating. Despite its rotund appearance, the devil is capable of surprising speed and endurance, and can climb trees and swim across rivers.

The tasmanian devil, the size of a small dog, the largest carnivorous marsupial in the worldIt is believed that ancient marsupials migrated from what is now South America to Australia tens of millions of years ago during the time of Gondwana, and that they evolved as Australia became more arid. Fossils of species similar to modern devils have been found, but it is not known whether they were ancestors of the contemporary species, or whether the current devils co-existed with these species. The date that the Tasmanian devil became locally extinct from the Australian mainland is unclear; most evidence suggests they had contracted to three relict populations around 3000 years ago. A tooth found in Augusta, Western Australia has been dated to 430 years ago, but archaeologist Oliver Brown disputes this and considers the devil's mainland extinction to have occurred around 3000 years ago.

This disappearance is usually blamed on dingoes, which are absent from Tasmania. Because they were seen as a threat to livestock and animals that humans hunted for fur in Tasmania, devils were hunted and became endangered. In 1941, the devils, which were originally seen as implacably vicious, became officially protected. Since then, scientists have contended that earlier concerns that the devils were the most significant threat to livestock were overestimated and misplaced.

Devils are not monogamous, and their reproductive process is very robust and competitive. Males fight one another for the females, and then guard their partners to prevent female infidelity. Females can ovulate three times in as many weeks during the mating season, and 80% of two-year-old females are seen to be pregnant during the annual mating season. Females average four breeding seasons in their life and give birth to 20–30 live young after three weeks' gestation. The newborn are pink, lack fur, have indistinct facial features and weigh around 0.20 g (0.0071 oz) at birth. As there are only four nipples in the pouch, competition is fierce and few newborns survive. The young grow rapidly and are ejected from the pouch after around 100 days, weighing roughly 200 g (7.1 oz). The young become independent after around nine months, so the female spends most of her year in activities related to birth and rearing.

Since the late 1990s, the devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) has drastically reduced the devil population and now threatens the survival of the species, which in 2008 was declared to be endangered. Programs are currently being undertaken by the Government of Tasmania to reduce the impact of the disease, including an initiative to build up a group of healthy devils in captivity, isolated from the disease. While the thylacine was extant it preyed on the devil, which targeted young and unattended thylacine cubs in their dens. Localised populations of devils have also been severely reduced by collisions with motor vehicles, particularly when they are eating roadkill.

The devil is an iconic symbol of Tasmania and many organisations, groups and products associated with the state use the animal in their logos. It is seen as an important attractor of tourists to Tasmania and has come to worldwide attention through the Looney Tunes character of the same name. Starting in 2013, Tasmanian devils are again being sent to zoos around the world as part of the Australian government's Save the Tasmanian Devil Program.

Devils are found in all habitats on the island of Tasmania, including the outskirts of urban areas, and are distributed throughout the Tasmanian mainland and on Robbins Island (which is connected to mainland Tasmania at low tide). The north-western population is located west of the Forth River and as far south as Macquarie Heads. Previously, they were present on Bruny Island from the 19th century, but there have been no records of them after 1900, and they were introduced to Badger Island in the mid-1990s but are thought to have died out by 2005. A study has modelled the reintroduction of DFTD-free Tasmanian devils to the mainland in areas where dingoes are sparse. It is proposed that devils would have fewer impacts on both livestock and native fauna than dingoes, and that the mainland population could act as an additional insurance population. In September 2015, 20 immunised captive-bred devils were released into Narawntapu National Park, Tasmania. Two later died from being hit by cars.

The "core habitat" of the devils is considered to be within the "low to moderate annual rainfall zone of eastern and north-western Tasmania". Tasmanian devils particularly like dry sclerophyll forests and coastal woodlands. Although they are not found at the highest altitudes of Tasmania, and their population density is low in the button grass plains in the south-west of the state, their population is high in dry or mixed sclerophyll forests and coastal heaths. Devils prefer open forest to tall forest, and dry rather than wet forests. They are also found near roads where roadkill is prevalent, although the devils themselves are often killed by vehicles while retrieving the carrion. According to the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, their versatility means that habitat modification from destruction is not seen as a major threat to the species.

The devil is directly linked to the Dasyurotaenia robusta, a tapeworm which is classified as Rare under the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995. This tapeworm is found only in devils.

Females start to breed when they reach sexual maturity, typically in their second year. At this point, they become fertile once a year, producing multiple ova while in heat. As prey is most abundant in spring and early summer, the devil's reproductive cycle starts in March or April so that the end of the weaning period coincides with the maximisation of food supplies in the wild for the newly roaming young devils. Occurring in March, mating takes places in sheltered locations during both day and night. Males fight over females in the breeding season, and female devils will mate with the dominant male. Females can ovulate up to three times in a 21-day period, and copulation can take five days; one instance of a couple being in the mating den for eight days has been recorded. Devils are not monogamous, and females will mate with several males if not guarded after mating; males also reproduce with several females during a season. Females have been shown to be selective in an attempt to ensure the best genetic offspring, for example, fighting off the advances of smaller males. Males often keep their mates in custody in the den, or take them along if they need to drink, lest they engage in infidelity. Males can produce up to 16 offspring over their lifetime, while females average four mating seasons and 12 offspring. Theoretically this means that a devil population can double on an annual basis and make the species insulated against high mortality. The pregnancy rate is high; 80% of two-year-old females were observed with newborns in their pouches during the mating season. More recent studies of breeding place the mating season between February and June, as opposed to between February and March.

Gestation lasts 21 days, and devils give birth to 20–30 young standing up, each weighing approximately 0.18–0.24 grams (0.0063–0.0085 oz). At birth, the front limb has well-developed digits with claws; unlike many marsupials, the claws of baby devils are not deciduous. As with most other marsupials, the forelimb is longer (0.26–0.43 cm or 0.10–0.17 in) than the rear limb (0.20–0.28 cm or 0.079–0.110 in), the eyes are spots, and the body is pink. There are no external ears or openings. Unusually, the gender can be determined at birth, with an external scrotum present.

Tasmanian devil young are variously called "pups", "joeys", or "imps".[106] When the young are born, competition is fierce as they move from the vagina in a sticky flow of mucus to the pouch. Once inside the pouch, they each remain attached to a nipple for the next 100 days. The female Tasmanian devil's pouch, like that of the wombat, opens to the rear, so it is physically difficult for the female to interact with young inside the pouch. Despite the large litter at birth, the female has only four nipples, so there are never more than four babies nursing in the pouch, and the older a female devil gets, the smaller her litters will become. Once the young have made contact with the nipple, it expands, resulting in the oversized nipple being firmly clamped inside the newborn and ensuring that the newborn does not fall out of the pouch. On average, more females survive than males, and up to 60% of young do not survive to maturity.

Milk replacements are often used for devils that have been bred in captivity, for orphaned devils or young who are born to diseased mothers. Little is known about the composition of the devil's milk compared to other marsupials.

Inside the pouch, the nourished young develop quickly. In the second week, the rhinarium becomes distinctive and heavily pigmented.[101] At 15 days, the external parts of the ear are visible, although these are attached to the head and do not open out until the devil is around 10 weeks old. The ear begins blackening after around 40 days, when it is less than 1 cm (0.39 in) long, and by the time the ear becomes erect, it is between 1.2 and 1.6 cm (0.47 and 0.63 in). Eyelids are apparent at 16 days, whiskers at 17 days, and the lips at 20 days. The devils can make squeaking noises after eight weeks, and after around 10–11 weeks, the lips can open. Despite the formation of eyelids, they do not open for three months, although eyelashes form at around 50 days. The young—up to this point they are pink—start to grow fur at 49 days and have a full coat by 90 days. The fur growing process starts at the snout and proceeds back through the body, although the tail attains fur before the rump, which is the last part of the body to become covered. Just before the start of the furring process, the colour of the bare devil's skin will darken and become black or dark grey in the tail.

The devils have a complete set of facial vibrissae and ulnar carpels, although it is devoid of anconeal vibrissae. During the third week, the mystacials and ulnarcarpals are the first to form. Subsequently, the infraorbital, interramal, supraorbital and submental vibrissae form. The last four typically occur between the 26th and 39th day.
Their eyes open shortly after their fur coat develops—between 87 and 93 days—and their mouths can relax their hold of the nipple at 100 days. They leave the pouch 105 days after birth, appearing as small copies of the parent and weighing around 200 grams (7.1 oz). Zoologist Eric Guiler recorded its size at this time as follows: a crown-snout length of 5.87 cm (2.31 in), tail length of 5.78 cm (2.28 in), pes length 2.94 cm (1.16 in), manus 2.30 cm (0.91 in), shank 4.16 cm (1.64 in), forearm 4.34 cm (1.71 in) and crown-rump length is 11.9 cm (4.7 in). During this period, the devils lengthen at a roughly linear rate.

After being ejected, the devils stay outside the pouch, but they remain in the den for around another three months, first venturing outside the den between October and December before becoming independent in January. During this transitional phase out of the pouch, the young devils are relatively safe from predation as they are generally accompanied. When the mother is hunting they can stay inside a shelter or come along, often riding on their mother's back. During this time they continue to drink their mother's milk. Female devils are occupied with raising their young for all but approximately six weeks of the year. The milk contains a higher amount of iron than the milk of placental mammals. In Guiler's 1970 study, no females died while rearing their offspring in the pouch. After leaving the pouch, the devils grow by around 0.5 kg (1.1 lb) a month until they are six months old. While most pups will survive to be weaned, Guiler reported that up to three fifths of devils do not reach maturity. As juveniles are more crepuscular than adults, their appearance in the open during summer gives the impression to humans of a population boom. A study into the success of translocated devils that were orphaned and raised in captivity found that young devils who had consistently engaged with new experiences while they were in captivity survived better than young who had not.

Embryonic diapause does not occur.

Guiler has reported that consecutive hermaphroditism (sex change) has occurred in captured devils, while Pemberton and Mooney recorded in 2004 the case of an animal with a scrotum and a non-functional pouch.

In an apparent response to reduced competition caused by devil facial tumour disease, female devils in regions with the disease are now more likely to begin breeding at the age of one year. The disease has also led to the reproductive season being less well-defined, with births more spread out throughout the year. Litters born to mothers with DFTD have more female pups than male pups.

A slow-release hormonal contraceptive implant for female devils is being developed and tested in a joint program between the Save the Tasmanian Devil program, the Zoo and Aquarium Association, the Taronga Conservation Society and the University of Sydney. This wildlife contraceptive program is aimed to help the devils continue with their wild behaviour by mating freely, but without certain females contributing too much to the next generation, which "can have long-term genetic consequences for the insurance population". Contraceptive trials in male devils showed that their testosterone increased, instead of decreasing as other male mammals' testosterone does. Early studies suggest that the female contraception has been successful, and the female contraceptive implants will be tested in the Maria Island insurance population.

Find out more interesting facts about the tasmanian devil on animalfactguide

The Atlas beetle



The Atlas beetle (Chalcosoma atlas) belongs to the family ‘Scarabaeidae’. The Atlas beetle is found in southern Asia, particularly Malaysia. It is remarkable for its size which can be between 25 and 145 millimetres. Like many insect species, the male is larger than the female and usually two males will fight for dominance, the winner permitted to mate with the female in question.

The Atlas beetle is, like other beetles of the genus Chalcosoma, notable for its size and its horns that are located on its head. It is a very strong beetle and can carry 4 grams in weight. The Atlas beetle differs from other Chalcosoma species as its cephalic (relating to the head) horn is much broader.

One fascinating fact about the Atlas beetle is that its larvae is known for its fierce behaviour. The larvae is capable of biting, even if only touched. It is also known that larvae that live together will fight to the death if there is not enough space or food.

The name of the Atlas beetle may have originated from the ‘Atlas Mountains’.

9 reasons for hope in the face of climate change

Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing people, wildlife, and the planet. From warming temperatures to more extreme weather, communities in the US and around the world are already feeling the impacts.

But we can create a safer and more resilient future if we work together to rethink the way we produce and consume energy, food, and water; protect the world’s forests; and help people prepare for inevitable change. Such a task can feel overwhelming and daunting at times. After all, doing so requires swift and collective movement from every nation at a time when visions don’t always align.
Although the US government has announced its intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement—the world’s roadmap for addressing climate change in coming the years—a new generation of climate leaders in America is committed to ensuring the US remains a global leader in fighting climate change. With the help of WWF, millions of people, America’s leading businesses, cities, states, colleges and universities are joining world leaders to tackle climate change.
We believe that addressing climate change requires collaboration from everyone. Here are nine reasons why we’re hopeful in the face of this threat:
  1. Thousands of US CEOs, college presidents, mayors, governors, tribal leaders, and communities of faith are standing shoulder to shoulder, declaring with one voice that America is “still in” on fighting climate change. As part of the We Are Still In movement, these 2,600 leaders are committed to delivering on the US’ goals under the Paris Agreement and to ensuring the US remains a global leader in reducing emissions.
  2. More than 1,800 businesses and investorsrepresenting over $2.3 trillion in annual revenue and employing over 4.7 million Americans—are part of the We Are Still In movement. As the face of the US economy, these businesses and investors can make a significant impact in the global fight against climate change.
  1. Today, 18 states and tribes, and more than 250 cities and counties are part of the We Are Still In movement, representing 130 million residents and roughly one third of the entire US economy. Cities and states must reduce their carbon emissions in order for the US to deliver strong action on climate change.
  1. 335 of America’s colleges and universities are committed to climate action and the We Are Still In movement. These institutions are cutting their carbon pollution and equipping more than 4.2 million students with the skills and knowledge to build a low-carbon future.
  2. Half of America’s Fortune 500 companies have a goal to cut climate pollution. Their efforts are equivalent of taking more than 40 coal fired power plants offline for a year.
  1. A total of 74 American companies seek to power their operations with renewable energy—the equivalent of powering 6.2 million American homes. They’re calling for greater access to renewable energy across America to power their businesses, and encouraging other companies to follow their lead.
  2. More than 300 companies around the world are setting targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions based on climate science. Just this week, McDonald’s set a new science-based climate target, becoming the first global restaurant company to do so. By aligning their business plans with the Paris Agreement’s global temperature goals, companies are driven to find new and innovative ways to reach them—and encouraging their supply chains to make similar pledges. Companies that reduce emissions and cut energy use can often save money, too.
  3. More than 3.3 million Americans are employed in the clean energy economy. There are more American jobs in renewable energy than in traditional fossil fuels.
  4. You! People like you who care about our planet are standing together to take action on climate change. Join us by turning off your lights for Earth Hour at 8:30 local times this Saturday and spread the word to friends and family through word of mouth and on social media using #EarthHour. Every individual gives Earth Hour a louder voice.
News Source: World Wild Life

The Woodpecker



Woodpeckers are part of the family Picidae, a group of near-passerine birds that also consist of piculets, wrynecks, and sapsuckers. Members of this family are found worldwide, except for Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, Madagascar, and the extreme polar regions. Most species live in forests or woodland habitats, although a few species are known that live in treeless areas, such as rocky hillsides and deserts, and the Gila woodpecker specialises in exploiting cacti.

Members of this family are chiefly known for their characteristic behaviour; they mostly forage for insect prey on the trunks and branches of trees, and often communicate by drumming with their beak, producing a reverberatory sound that can be heard at some distance. Some species vary their diet with fruits, birds' eggs and small animals, and tree sap. They mostly nest and roost in holes that they excavate in tree trunks, and their abandoned holes are of importance to other cavity-nesting birds. They sometimes come into conflict with humans when they make holes in buildings or feed on fruit crops, but perform a useful service by their removal of insect pests on trees.

The Picidae are one of nine living families in the order Piciformes, the others being barbets (comprising three families), toucans, toucan-barbets, and honeyguides in the clade Pici, and the jacamars and puffbirds in the clade Galbuli. DNA sequencing has confirmed the sister relationships of these two groups. The family Picidae includes about 240 species arranged in 35 genera. Almost 20 species are threatened with extinction due to loss of habitat or habitat fragmentation, with one, the Bermuda flicker, being extinct and a further two probably being so.

Woodpeckers range from tiny piculets measuring no more than 7 cm (2.8 in) in length and weighing 7 g (0.25 oz) to large woodpeckers which can be more than 50 cm (20 in) in length. The largest surviving species is the great slaty woodpecker, which weighs 360–563 g (12.7–19.9 oz), but the probably extinct imperial woodpecker and ivory-billed woodpecker were both larger.

The plumage of woodpeckers varies from drab to conspicuous. The colours of many species are based on olive and brown and some are pied, suggesting a need for camouflage; others are boldly patterned in black, white and red, and many have a crest or tufted feathers on the crown. Woodpeckers tend to be sexually dimorphic, but differences between the sexes are generally small; exceptions to this are Williamson's sapsucker and the orange-backed woodpecker, which differ markedly. The plumage is moulted fully once a year apart from the wrynecks, which have an additional partial moult before breeding.

Woodpeckers, piculets and wrynecks all possess characteristic zygodactyl feet, consisting of four toes, the first (hallux) and the fourth facing backward and the second and third facing forward. This foot arrangement is good for grasping the limbs and trunks of trees. Members of this family can walk vertically up a tree trunk, which is beneficial for activities such as foraging for food or nest excavation. In addition to their strong claws and feet, woodpeckers have short, strong legs. This is typical of birds that regularly forage on trunks. Exceptions are the black-backed woodpecker and the American and Eurasian three-toed woodpeckers, which have only three toes on each foot. The tails of all woodpeckers, except the piculets and wrynecks, are stiffened, and when the bird perches on a vertical surface, the tail and feet work together to support it.

Woodpeckers have strong bills for drilling and drumming on trees, and long sticky tongues for extracting food. Woodpecker bills are typically longer, sharper and stronger than the bills of piculets and wrynecks; however, their morphology is very similar. The bill's chisel-like tip is kept sharp by the pecking action in birds that regularly use it on wood. The beak consists of three layers; an outer sheath called rhamphotheca, made of scales formed from keratin proteins, an inner layer of bone which has a large cavity and mineralised collagen fibers, and a middle layer made of porous bone which connects the two other layers. Combined, this anatomy helps the beak absorb mechanical stress. Species of woodpecker and flicker that use their bills in soil or for probing as opposed to regular hammering tend to have longer and more decurved bills. Due to their smaller bill size, many piculets and wrynecks will forage in decaying wood more often than woodpeckers. The long sticky tongues, which possess bristles, aid these birds in grabbing and extracting insects from deep within a hole in a tree. It has been reported that the tongue was used to spear grubs, but more detailed studies published in 2004 have shown that the tongue instead wraps around the prey before being pulled out.

Many of the foraging, breeding and signaling behaviors of woodpeckers involve drumming and hammering using the bill. To prevent brain damage from the rapid and repeated impacts, woodpeckers have a number of physical features evolved to protect the brain. These include a relatively small and smooth brain, narrow subdural space, little cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) surrounding it to prevent it from moving back and forth inside the skull during pecking, the orientation of the brain within the skull (which maximises the contact area between the brain and the skull) and the short duration of contact. The skull consists of strong but compressible sponge-like bone which is most concentrated in the forehead and the back of the skull. Computer simulations have shown that 99.7 percent of the energy generated in pecking was stored in the form of strain energy, which was distributed throughout the bird's body, with only a small remaining fraction of the energy going into the brain. The pecking also heats up the woodpecker's skull, which is part of the reason why they often peck in short bursts with brief breaks in between, giving the head some time to cool. During the millisecond before contact with wood, a thickened nictitating membrane closes, protecting the eye from flying debris. These membranes also prevent the retina from tearing. The nostrils are also protected; they are often slit-like and have special feathers to cover them. Woodpeckers are capable of repeated pecking on a tree at high decelerations on the order of 10,000 m/s2 (33,000 ft/s2) (1000 g).

Some large woodpeckers such as Dryocopus have a fast, direct form of flight, but the majority of species have a typical undulating flight pattern consisting of a series of rapid flaps followed by a swooping glide. Many birds in the Melanerpes genus have distinctive, rowing wing-strokes while the piculets engage in short bursts of rapid direct flight.

The scarlet macaw




The scarlet macaw is a large red, yellow, and blue South American parrot, a member of a large group of Neotropical parrots called macaws. It is native to humid evergreen forests of tropical South America. Range extends from south-eastern Mexico to the Peruvian Amazon, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela and Brazil in lowlands up to 500 m (1,640 ft) (at least formerly) up to 1,000 m (3,281 ft). It has suffered from local extinction through habitat destruction and capture for the parrot trade, but locally it remains fairly common. Formerly it ranged north to southern Tamaulipas. It can still be found on the island of Coiba. It is the national bird of Honduras.

It is about 81 centimetres (32 in) long, of which more than half is the pointed, graduated tail typical of all macaws, though the scarlet macaw has a larger percentage of tail than the other large macaws. The average weight is about 1 kilogram (2.2 lb). The plumage is mostly scarlet, but the rump and tail-covert feathers are light blue, the greater upper wing coverts are yellow, the upper sides of the flight feathers of the wings are dark blue as are the ends of the tail feathers, and the undersides of the wing and tail flight feathers are dark red with metallic gold iridescence. Some individuals may have green in the wings.

There is bare white skin around the eye and from there to the bill. Tiny white feathers are contained on the face patch. The upper mandible is mostly pale horn in color and the lower is black. Juveniles have dark eyes; adults have light yellow eyes.

It is frequently confused with the slightly larger green-winged macaw, which has more distinct red lines in the face and no yellow in the wing.

Scarlet macaws make very loud, high and sometimes low-pitched, throaty squawks, squeaks and screams designed to carry many miles to call for their groups.

The scarlet macaw can live up to 75 years in captivity, although a more typical lifespan is 40 to 50 years.

While comparatively docile at most times of the year, scarlet macaws may be formidably aggressive during periods of breeding. Scarlet macaws are monogamous birds, with individuals remaining with one partner throughout their lives. The hen lays two or three white eggs in a tree cavity. The female incubates the eggs for about five weeks, and the chicks fledge from the nest about 90 days after hatching. and leave their parents about a year later. Juveniles reach sexual maturity at five years of age.

Last male northern white rhino dies

He was known as the Last Male Standing and attracted the attention of people around the world, but on March 19, 2018 the last male northern white rhino died. Sudan, 45 years old, had been under armed guard to protect him from the threat of poachers. 
His death is heartbreaking. The extinction of the northern white rhino is happening before our eyes.

Why has this happened?

Rhinos are the targets of poaching because of an insatiable demand for their horns on the black market. It's thought that an average of three rhinos are lost to poachers every day, and poaching gangs are becoming increasingly sophisticated.
Sudan was guarded and cared for by Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya and died at an old age, but for many rhinos it's a different story.
It's illegal to buy and sell rhino horn, but the trade continues because of a belief in the horn's medicinal properties. It's a stark example of the devastating impact of the illegal wildlife trade on threatened species.
Urgent action to tackle the illegal wildlife trade is needed now more than ever. To prevent more tragedies like that of the northern white rhino, everything possible must be done to cut demand, crack down on corruption, and tackle poaching.

Cause for hope

The story is almost over for the northern white rhino, with only two females remaining in the world, but there is good news elsewhere. The southern white rhino has recovered from a population of fewer than 100 in the late nineteenth century to just over 20,000 today, and rhino poaching in Nepal has been reduced to almost zero.

An illegal logger in Tanzania becomes a forest defender

When his three daughters were hungry, Omary Mbunda would turn to illegal timber for money. For him and others in his village of Mbondo, Tanzania, the trees and wildlife in nearby Liuninga Forest Reserve were reliable sources of income and food.

That changed when the CARE-WWF Alliance—a partnership focused on creating food systems that better nourish vulnerable communities while supporting healthy ecosystems—began promoting sustainable forestry management and conservation agriculture in Mbondo in 2015. Mbunda’s neighbors elected him to participate in a local committee to conserve the surrounding landscape and its natural resources, including timber. Who better to protect the forest than someone who’s intimately familiar with illegal logging?

Mbunda began employing his deep knowledge of the Liuninga Forest to collaborate with village game scouts to apprehend illegal poachers and loggers.

“The CARE-WWF Alliance intervention in Mbondo village…gave us insights on forest conservation and its significance,” Mbunda said. “The forest brought us rain, water, as well as good breathing air. Together with the district council’s officials, [the Alliance] has strengthened our understanding on forests conservation and its benefits. Also, they taught us proper ways of harvesting timber and other forest products for relatively cheap prices, by getting proper licenses and permits.”

Now, rather than selling a single illegally harvested piece of timber for less than a quarter, the Village Natural Resources Committee selectively harvests whole trees—determined by a combination of the forest’s regeneration capacity, market demand, and economic value—to turn a greater profit.

With the support of the Alliance, illegal forest activities like unsustainable logging and poaching are far less tolerated. Villagers tend to comply with bylaws, procedures, and guidelines put forward in the forest management plan, and those who don’t face fines, permit fees, and confiscation of timber. The natural resources committee has collected several thousand dollars from violators, which they’ve used to purchase three bicycles to help village game scouts more effectively patrol the Liuninga Forest and larger wildlife management area and development priorities as determined by the community, including latrine construction and buying desks for Mbondo’s primary school.

When Mbunda turned away from illegal logging, he redoubled his farming efforts, formerly his secondary source of income. Alongside his wife, he now devotes himself to growing a mix of cash and staple crops to support his family, including maize, sorghum, sesame, and peas. He's also considering adopting climate-smart agricultural practices taught by the Alliance’s Farmer Field and Business School (FFBS) to increase their yields and incomes, reducing annual expansion into nearby forests.

“Now I see the FFBS plot performing wonders, so am more convinced that I personally can do the same,” Mbunda said. “Without [the Alliance], our fragile natural resources would be in jeopardy [and] the future generation would not perhaps get a chance to see them.”

Alliance interventions may serve as an important catalyst, but sustainable livelihoods and forest conservation are driven by the openness to change and hard work of people like Mbunda.

News Source: World Wild Life.

An important win for the world's largest tropical wetland


The world’s largest tropical wetland notched an important win today with new commitments that require sustainable development of the Pantanal, a 42-million-acre wetland that touches three countries. It ensures that all future development of this essential landscape is balanced with the needs of wildlife and people.

Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay signed the landmark declaration that calls for sustainable development of the Pantanal. The decision follows years of collaboration among the governments that are securing a prosperous future for one of the most biologically rich ecosystems on the planet. WWF has assisted this effort and applauds this landmark move.

The Pantanal is a surprisingly well-kept secret in comparison to the Amazon, despite its massive size and the more than 4,700 animal and plant species that live within it.

Millions of people living downstream rely on its crucial natural resources and benefits, including natural flood control, groundwater recharge, river flow for boats to navigate, and absorption of carbon. A study conducted by Brazil's Agricultural Research Corporation concluded that these natural benefits are valued at $112 billion a year.

An essential resource under threat
All of the Pantanal’s natural wealth could be highly threatened if it is not developed in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. Harmful land uses in the Pantanal have already contributed to the loss of more than 12% of the region’s forest cover. And scientists predict that the Pantanal’s native vegetation will disappear by 2050 if we don’t act now to combat this trend. Inadequate development planning by any of the three countries could damage not only the region's lucrative economy and the well-being of its inhabitants, but also the stability of the world’s fifth-largest basin, the Rio de la Plata, in which the Pantanal is located.

By signing the Declaration for the Conservation, Integrated and Sustainable Development of the Pantanal, Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay recognize their shared responsibility to steward this vital resource. Together they’re ensuring that development of this beautiful and essential wetland is balanced with the needs of the environment and people.

News Source: World Wide Life.

What about the Yak?



The domestic yak  is a long-haired domesticated bovid found throughout the Himalayan region of the Indian subcontinent, the Tibetan Plateau and as far north as Mongolia and Russia. It is descended from the wild yak (Bos mutus).

Yaks belong to the genus Bos and are therefore related to cattle (Bos primigenius species). Mitochondrial DNA analyses to determine the evolutionary history of yaks have been inconclusive.

The yak may have diverged from cattle at any point between one and five million years ago, and there is some suggestion that it may be more closely related to bison than to the other members of its designated genus. Apparent close fossil relatives of the yak, such as Bos baikalensis, have been found in eastern Russia, suggesting a possible route by which yak-like ancestors of the modern American bison could have entered the Americas.

The species was originally designated as Bos grunniens ("grunting ox") by Linnaeus in 1766, but this name is now generally only considered to refer to the domesticated form of the animal, with Bos mutus ("mute ox") being the preferred name for the wild species. Although some authors still consider the wild yak to be a subspecies, Bos grunniens mutus, the ICZN made an official ruling in 2003 permitting the use of the name Bos mutus for wild yaks, and this is now the more common usage.

Except where the wild yak is considered as a subspecies of Bos grunniens, there are no recognised subspecies of yak.

Yaks are heavily built animals with a bulky frame, sturdy legs, rounded cloven hooves, and extremely dense, long fur that hangs down lower than the belly. While wild yaks are generally dark, blackish to brown in colouration, domestic yaks can be quite variable in colour, often having patches of rusty brown and cream. They have small ears and a wide forehead, with smooth horns that are generally dark in colour. In males (bulls), the horns sweep out from the sides of the head, and then curve forward. They typically range from 48 to 99 cm (19 to 39 in) in length. The horns of females (cows) are smaller, only 27 to 64 cm (11 to 25 in) in length, and have a more upright shape. Both sexes have a short neck with a pronounced hump over the shoulders, although this is larger and more visible in males. Males weigh 350 to 580 kg (770 to 1,280 lb), females weigh 225 to 255 kg (496 to 562 lb). Wild yaks can be substantially heavier, bulls reaching weights of up to 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb). Depending on the breed, domestic yak males are 111–138 centimetres (44–54 in) high at the withers, while females are 105–117 centimetres (41–46 in) high at the withers.

Both sexes have long shaggy hair with a dense woolly undercoat over the chest, flanks, and thighs to insulate them from the cold. Especially in bulls, this may form a long "skirt" that can reach the ground. The tail is long and horselike rather than tufted like the tails of cattle or bison. Domesticated yaks have a wide range of coat colours, with some individuals being white, grey, brown, roan or piebald. The udder in females and the scrotum in males are small and hairy, as protection against the cold. Females have four teats.

Yaks grunt and, unlike cattle, are not known to produce the characteristic bovine lowing (mooing) sound, which inspired the scientific name of the domestic yak variant, Bos grunniens (grunting bull). Nikolay Przhevalsky named the wild variant Bos mutus (silent bull), believing that it did not make a sound at all.

Yaks mate in the summer, typically between July and September, depending on the local environment. For the remainder of the year, many bulls wander in small bachelor groups away from the large herds, but, as the rut approaches, they become aggressive and regularly fight among each other to establish dominance. In addition to non-violent threat displays, bellowing, and scraping the ground with their horns, bull yaks also compete more directly, repeatedly charging at each other with heads lowered or sparring with their horns. Like bison, but unlike cattle, males wallow in dry soil during the rut, often while scent-marking with urine or dung. Females enter oestrus up to four times a year, and females are receptive only for a few hours in each cycle.

Gestation lasts between 257 and 270 days, so that the young are born between May and June, and results in the birth of a single calf. The cow finds a secluded spot to give birth, but the calf is able to walk within about ten minutes of birth, and the pair soon rejoin the herd. Females of both the wild and domestic forms typically give birth only once every other year, although more frequent births are possible if the food supply is good.

Calves are weaned at one year and become independent shortly thereafter. Wild calves are initially brown in colour, and only later develop the darker adult hair. Females generally give birth for the first time at three or four years of age, and reach their peak reproductive fitness at around six years. Yaks may live for more than twenty years in domestication or captivity, although it is likely that this may be somewhat shorter in the wild.

Vanikoro flying fox



The Vanikoro flying fox, also known locally as basapine, is a species of bat in the family Pteropodidae. It has only been found in the Vanikoro island group located in the southern Solomon Islands. The species as a whole was originally known from just a few specimens collected sometime before 1930 but following surveys conducted on the island in the early 1990s did not detect this species again causing the Vanikoro flying fox to be listed as extinct.However, the species was rediscovered by a survey conducted in late 2014 which indicated a population in the high hundreds or low thousands and reported all observations.

The Vanikoro flying fox is a small flying fox that has an average body length was indicated by surveyors as about half the size of a Pacific flying fox, with large heads and small ears. Coloration includes a dark brown pelage with dark brown-black skin.
The Vanikoro flying fox is mostly a solitary animal that can be found roosting individually or occasionally in pairs in the middle understory of trees with significant overhead cover and close to a food source. These bats forage during the day up until late afternoon.

Originally the IUCN Red List listed the Vanikoro flying fox as "Vulnerable" in 1996, but as of 2008 its status has been updated to "Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct)". However, as of 2014, large numbers of the species were recorded by a Heritage Expeditions survey conducted on threatened birds and flying foxes in the Santa Cruz islands and Solomon Islands. Due to its imperiled status, it is identified by the Alliance for Zero Extinction as a species in danger of imminent extinction. In 2013, Bat Conservation International listed this species as one of the 35 species of its worldwide priority list of conservation.

The main island of Vanikoro was extensively logged without any reforestation plan in the 1920s through 1960s which resulted in major habitat degradation. Since then, there has been some forest regeneration, however, logging was recommenced by a Malaysian company in 2014. The loss of suitable habitat has also pushed the Vanikoro flying fox into coconut farms where they are often killed as they are thought to negatively affect the fruits. Opportunistic hunting in some areas can also contribute as a threat to the species.

The Wallaby



A wallaby is a small- or mid-sized macropod found in Australia and New Guinea. They belong to the same taxonomic family as kangaroos and sometimes the same genus, but kangaroos are specifically categorised into the six largest species of the family. The term wallaby is an informal designation generally used for any macropod that is smaller than a kangaroo or wallaroo that has not been designated otherwise.

There are 11 species of brush wallabies (g. Macropus, s.g. Protemnodon). Their head and body length is 45 to 105 cm and the tail is 33 to 75 cm long. The six named species of rock-wallabies (g. Petrogale) live among rocks, usually near water; two species are endangered. The two species of hare-wallabies (g. Lagorchestes) are small animals that have the movements and some of the habits of hares. Often called "pademelons", the three species of scrub wallabies (g. Thylogale) of New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, and Tasmania are small and stocky, with short hind limbs and pointed noses.

Wallabies are hunted for meat and fur. A similar species is the short-tailed scrub wallaby, or quokka (Setonix brachyurus); this species is now restricted to two offshore islands of Western Australia. The three named species of forest wallabies (g. Dorcopsulus) are native to the island of New Guinea. The dwarf wallaby is the smallest member of the genus and the smallest known member of the kangaroo family. Its length is about 46 cm from nose to tail, and it weighs about 1.6 kg.

Although members of most wallaby species are small, some can grow up to approximately two metres in length (from head to end of tail). Their powerful hind legs are not only used for bounding at high speeds and jumping great heights, but also to administer vigorous kicks to fend off potential predators. The Tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii) has elastic storage in the ankle extensor tendons, without which the animal’s metabolic rate might be 30–50% greater. It has also been found that the design of spring-like tendon energy savings and economical muscle force generation is key for the two distal muscle–tendon units of the Tammar wallaby (Macropus-Eugenii). Wallabies also have a powerful tail that is used mostly for balance and support.

Wallabies are not a distinct genetic group. Nevertheless, they fall into several broad categories. Typical wallabies of the genus Macropus, like the agile wallaby (Macropus agilis), and the red-necked wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus) are most closely related to the kangaroos and wallaroos and, size aside, look very similar. These are the ones most frequently seen, particularly in the southern states.

Rock-wallabies (genus Petrogale), rather like the goats of the northern hemisphere, specialise in rugged terrain and have modified feet adapted to grip rock with skin friction rather than dig into soil with large claws. There are at least fifteen species and the relationship between several of them is poorly understood. Several are endangered. Captive rock wallaby breeding programs like the one at Healesville Sanctuary have had some success and a small number have recently been released into the wild.

The banded hare-wallaby (Lagostrophus fasciatus) is thought to be the last remaining member of the once-numerous subfamily Sthenurinae, and although once common across southern Australia, is now restricted to two islands off the Western Australian coast which are free of introduced predators. It is not as closely related to the other hare wallabies (genus Lagorchestes) as the hare wallabies are to the other wallabies.

New Guinea, which was until fairly recent geological times part of mainland Australia, has at least five species of wallaby.