Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Printable Version

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How much is a golden lizard worth? - Bronco - 03-12-2017

a whopping Rs.20 crore (that's about 3 million US $), go figure  shocked

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RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Apollo - 03-12-2017

Surgeons remove 915 coins swallowed by Thai sea turtle

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Tossing coins in a fountain for luck is a popular superstition, but a similar belief brought misery to a sea turtle in Thailand from whom doctors have removed 915 coins. 

Veterinarians in Bangkok operated Monday on the 25-year-old female green sea turtle nicknamed "Bank," whose indigestible diet was a result of many tourists seeking good fortune tossing coins into her pool over many years in the eastern town of Sri Racha. 

Many Thais believe that throwing coins on turtles will bring longevity. Typically, a green sea turtle has a lifespan of around 80 years, said Roongroje Thanawongnuwech, dean of Chulalongkorn University's veterinary faculty. It is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 

The loose change eventually formed a heavy ball in her stomach weighing 5 kilograms (11 pounds). The weight cracked the turtle's ventral shell, causing a life-threatening infection. 

Five surgeons from Chulalongkorn University's veterinary faculty patiently removed the coins over four hours while "Bank" was under general anesthesia. The stash was too big to take out through the 10-cm (4-inch) incision they had made, so it had to be removed a few coins at a time. Many of them had corroded or partially dissolved.

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"The result is satisfactory. Now it's up to Bank how much she can recover," said Pasakorn Briksawan, one of the surgical team. While recovering in Chulalongkorn University's animal hospital, the turtle will be on a liquid diet for the next two weeks. Bank was brought in to veterinarians by the navy, which found her ailing in her seaside hometown.

It was only after a detailed 3D scan that veterinarians pinpointed the weighty and unexpected problem. As well as the coins they also found 2 fish hooks, which were also removed today.

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The surgery team leader said Monday that when she discovered the cause of the turtle's agony she was furious. "I felt angry that humans, whether or not they meant to do it or if they did it without thinking, had caused harm to this turtle," said Nantarika Chansue, head of Chulalongkorn University's veterinary medical aquatic animal research center. 

Thai media began publicizing the turtle's tale last month after she was found, and in response, some 15,000 baht ($428) in donations was raised from the public to pay for her surgery.


RE: How much is a golden lizard worth? - Paleosuchus - 03-15-2017

Tokay's are overexploited, it's sad.

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - sanjay - 03-18-2017

Stolen pets skinned alive in the street of China, for everyone to see!

Dogs being skinned alive in China
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These have to be one of the most appalling images to have ever been taken in the history of mankind. Pet dogs – stolen from their loving owners – get skinned alive in broad daylight, for everyone to see.

The process of skinning dogs alive has gotten so mundane that no one actually intervenes, simply because they have gotten so used to it.

Read full story

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Ngala - 03-29-2017

The World's Rarest and Most Ancient Dog Has Just Been Re-Discovered in the Wild
The first sighting in more than half a century.
BEC CREW 27 MAR 2017

After decades of fearing that the New Guinea highland wild dog had gone extinct in its native habitat, researchers have finally confirmed the existence of a healthy, viable population, hidden in one of the most remote and inhospitable regions on Earth.

According to DNA analysis, these are the most ancient and primitive canids in existence, and a recent expedition to New Guinea's remote central mountain spine has resulted in more than 100 photographs of at least 15 wild individuals, including males, females, and pups, thriving in isolation and far from human contact.

"The discovery and confirmation of the highland wild dog for the first time in over half a century is not only exciting, but an incredible opportunity for science," says the group behind the discovery, the New Guinea Highland Wild Dog Foundation (NGHWDF).

"The 2016 Expedition was able to locate, observe, gather documentation and biological samples, and confirm through DNA testing that at least some specimens still exist and thrive in the highlands of New Guinea."

If you're not familiar with these handsome creatures, until now, New Guinea highland wild dogs were only known from two promising but unconfirmed photographs in recent years - one taken in 2005, and the other in 2012.

They had not been documented with certainty in their native range in over half a century, and experts feared that what was left of the ancient dogs had dwindled to extinction.

But maybe they were just really good at hiding?

Last year, a NGHWDF expedition made it to the Papua province of western New Guinea, which is bordered by Papua New Guinea to the east and the West Papua province to the west.

Led by zoologist James K McIntyre, the expedition ran into local researchers from the University of Papua, who were also on the trail of the elusive dogs. 

A muddy paw print in September 2016 finally gave them what they were looking for - recent signs that something distinctly dog-like was wandering the dense forests of the New Guinea highlands, some 3,460 to 4,400 metres (11,351 to 14,435 feet) above sea level.

Trail cameras were immediately deployed throughout the area, so they could monitor bait sites around the clock. The cameras captured more than 140 images of wild Highland Wild Dog in just two days on Puncak Jaya - the highest summit of Mount Carstensz, and the tallest island peak in the world.

Pregnant female. Credit: NGHWDF

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Highland wild dog pups. Credit: NGHWDF

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The team was also able to observe and document dogs in the area first-hand, and DNA analysis of faecal samples have confirmed their relationship to Australian dingos and New Guinea singing dogs - the captive-bred variants of the New Guinea highland wild dog.

Due to the lack of evidence of the species, it's been unclear exactly how dingoes, singing dogs, and highland wild dogs actually relate to one another, but that's a question that will hopefully soon be answered, because these animals truly are our best bet for getting a better understanding of canid evolution.

As the NGHWD explains:

"The fossil record indicates the species established itself on the island at least 6,000 years ago, believed to have arrived with human migrants. However, new evidence suggests they may have migrated independently of humans.

While the taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships with related breeds and Australian dingoes is currently controversial and under review for both New Guinea singing dogs and highland wild dogs, the scientific and historical importance of the highland wild dog remains critical to understanding canid evolution, canid and human co-evolution and migrations, and human ecology and settlement derived from the study of canids and canid evolution."

As far as dogs go, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more attractive one - their coats are most commonly golden, but there are also black and tan, and cream variants. Their tails are carried high over their backsides in a fish hook shape, like a Shiba Inu.

In all of the dogs observed so far, their ears sit erect and triangular on the top of the head.

A wary observer. Credit: NGHWDF

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Though it's yet to be confirmed, the highland wild dogs could make the same unique vocalisations of their captive-bred counterparts - the New Guinea singing dogs.

According to the NGHWDF, there are roughly 300 New Guinea singing dogs remaining in the world, living in zoos, private facilities, and private homes, and they're known for their high-pitched howls, which they will perform in chorus with one another, and sometimes for several minutes at a time:

The research into these amazing dogs is ongoing, and a scientific paper on the discovery is expected to be released in the coming months.

And the good news is the researchers are optimistic of the highland wild dogs' chances of survival.

Local mining companies have been tasked with taking special environmental stewardship measures to protect the remote area and ecosystem surrounding their facilities, which means they have "inadvertently created a sanctuary in which the HWD could thrive", says the NGHWDF.

You can read more about the expedition and discovery here.

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Ngala - 04-04-2017

World’s most endangered marine mammal down to 30 individuals
By Virginia MorellFeb. 1, 2017 , 5:15 PM

Vaquitas die when trapped in gillnets.
FLIP NICKLIN/ MINDEN PICTURES/National Geographic Creative

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The vaquita, a small porpoise found only in Mexico’s Gulf of California, now faces extinction, scientists say in a report published today. Only about 30 individuals remain, according to an acoustic survey that counted the animals’ clicking noises last summer. The report dashes hopes that naval patrols and Mexico’s emergency gillnet ban, authorized in May 2015, would halt the vaquita’s precipitous decline. The numbers also add new urgency to a controversial plan to capture some of the remaining animals for a captive breeding program, scientists say.

“The situation is completely out of control,” says Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, a cetacean expert at the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change in Ensenada, Mexico, and member of the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita, an international advisory group to the Mexican government. “Of course, there’s a risk in capturing the vaquitas. But it’s clear now that they will be killed [in gillnets] anyway.”

A 2015 survey estimated the vaquitas at about 60 individuals. They’re dying out because they get trapped in illegal gillnets, many set to catch another endangered species, the totoaba fish. The fish’s swim bladder commands extraordinarily high prices (sold for as much as $100,000 on the black market, according to a report last year from the Environment Investigation Agency) in China and some other Asian markets, where it is erroneously thought to help with a range of ailments from liver disease to arthritis. The demand has so far proved impossible to control, says Rojas-Bracho, adding that criminal organizations now control the totoaba fishery.

Efforts to develop alternative gillnets that the vaquitas could escape (as exist now for sea turtles) have also failed, largely because of opposition from and sabotage by suspected totoaba fishers, Rojas-Bracho says. And the 2016 agreement between Mexican President Peña Nieto and former U.S. President Barack Obama to permanently ban gillnets throughout the vaquitas’ range has not changed local fishers’ behavior so far.

Vaquitas are shy and rarely seen, but they make clicking noises while hunting. To track their numbers, scientists deployed a grid of 46 click detectors for 60 days throughout the animals’ range in the summer of 2016, using the same sites they’d monitored in 2015. The team also added detectors at 47 new sites in areas where vaquitas spend most of their time. In the 46 standard sites, the number of recorded vaquita clicks per day dropped by 44% from 2015 to 2016, indicating a 49% decline in the cetaceans’ population. The clicks recorded at the additional sites did not alter this grim statistic, or the final conclusion: Vaquitas will be extinct in a few years.

Vaquita numbers have plunged precipitously in the past few years.
Comité Internacional para la Recuperación de la Vaquita, adapted by J. You/Science

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In a last-ditch effort to save the species, the scientists will attempt to capture an unspecified number of vaquitas in October. Hoping to avoid frightening the porpoises, the recovery team plans to use bottlenose dolphins from the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program to spot them in the gulf’s dark waters. The vaquitas are familiar with dolphins, which also inhabit the gulf.

Although details remain to be worked out, the naval trainers say through a spokesperson that they will use standard operant conditioning techniques (think clicker-trainer with your dog) to teach the dolphins to locate the vaquitas. The training will teach the dolphins to use their sonar to seek out “air-filled lungs.” After a dolphin identifies a target, it will learn to touch a plate on the side of the boat to alert its handler, and then swim in the direction of the animal and leap in the air. The dolphins have already completed a successful test run, locating harbor porpoises, which are about the same size as vaquitas, in San Francisco Bay.

In the real event, after a dolphin spots a vaquita, members of the recovery team will head toward the porpoise in a small boat, equipped to bring the animal on board. “We have no idea of how they will react,” says Jonas Teilmann, a cetacean biologist at Aarhus University in Denmark, who helped develop methods for working with harbor porpoises, another species that scientists had difficulty keeping alive when captured because they often stopped breathing. “Based on our work with harbor porpoises, we know we must watch their blowhole, and monitor their heart rate.” When porpoises dive, Teilmann explains, the water pressure on their breastbone, which is softer than ours, tells them to stop breathing so that they do not drown. Unfortunately, when removed from the water and placed on a hard surface, the cetaceans also experience this pressure through gravity—a sensation they’ve never felt before—and often automatically stop breathing. Teilmann’s team discovered that putting the porpoise on a stack of thick baby changing pads somehow removes that pressure, and the cetaceans  begin breathing normally again.

Rojas-Bracho and the team wish that they could begin the capture and breeding program sooner. Unfortunately, the legal curvina fishing season is to open shortly. Between 600 and 1000 permits may be given, says Rojas-Bracho, who calls the action “madness,” particularly because it is not yet clear whether the gillnet ban will continue to be enforced. Illegal totoaba nets remain a danger, too. Indeed, already this year, a fisherman showed Rojas-Bracho a photo of another dead vaquita in a gillnet. “If there were 30 at the end of last summer, there are probably fewer now,” he says.

“We wish we could leave them in the wild,” Teilmann adds. “But right now there’s no other way to stop their extinction.”

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Ngala - 04-09-2017

April 5, 2017

Puntung as seen on Wednesday, being fed by a Sabah Wildlife ranger on Wednesday, April 5. – Photo credit Sabah Wildlife Department

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KOTA KINABALU: Puntung, one of the last three Sumatran Rhinos in Malaysia, is critically ill with an abscess deep inside her upper jaw, the Sabah Wildlife Department disclosed Wednesday.

Augustine Tuuga

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SWD Director Augustine Tuuga said there is grave concern because there are signs that Puntung’s infection is deep and very likely has spread even deeper and it has not responded to drainage and antibiotic treatment.

“We are especially worried about sepsis, an infection that can spread quickly through the body and rapidly cause death,” he said in a statement.

Sabah is home to only three out of last few tens of the critically endangered Sumatran rhino, the last all being in Indonesia.

All three Malaysian rhinos are cared for at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Lahad Datu, Sabah, by Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA), a non-governmental organization contracted by Sabah Wildlife Department.

Puntung was captured in 2011 and was subsequently found that she was the last remaining wild rhino in the Reserve.

The abscess as seen last week which has not responded to treatment.

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“We estimate that Puntung is around 25 years old. Sumatran rhinos have a life expectancy of around 35 years,” said Datuk John Payne, BORA executive director.

“The loss of Puntung now would be a tragedy, because she potentially has quite a few years of egg production left.”

Veterinarian Dr Zainal Zahari Zainuddin has been caring for Puntung since the day of her capture and he is doing all that possible to treat Puntung, added Payne.

When Puntung was first captured, the idea was to allow her to contribute towards preventing the species extinction by mating her with male, Tam, in a managed, fenced facility.

It was then found that Puntung had a severe array of cysts lining her uterus, which were resistant to treatment, making her unable to bear a pregnancy.

Puntung in a temporary treatment point in her forest paddock last week.

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Since 2014, with the capture of one more female rhino in Sabah, efforts have been directed towards trying to make rhino embryos through in vitro fertilization, the merging of a sperm and egg in the laboratory.

This has been done by Professor Thomas Hildebrandt and his team of specialists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany, Professor Cesare Galli of Avantea laboratories in Italy, and Professor Arief Boediono of Institut Pertanian Bogor.

If successful, embryos could be offered to Indonesia for implantation into surrogate mother rhinos of the same species in Sumatra.

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Jimmy - 04-10-2017

Greater one horned rhino translocation is under way in Chitwan national park. After a gap of seven years the second batch of rhinos was finally let loose in the far western Shuklaphanta national park following the decision to shift atleast five rhinos to the park. And some twenty five to the Bardia national park later in year. Here are some amazing moments captured by phographer Prakash Mathema.

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RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - sanjay - 04-10-2017

@Jimmy, Images are not visible.

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Jimmy - 04-10-2017

@sanjay Really, i had inserted All the URL to the imgage code.... looks like @Rishi has seen. if not here is the news in nepali but it's a photo blog so you can get an idea. http://www.mysansar.com/2017/04/27182/

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - sanjay - 04-10-2017

Never mind,
I fixed it. The images has last extension as .webp, I replaced it with .jpg and its working now
I read the news and its awesome to see the incident even in Image, Also video is worthwhile to mention

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Rishi - 04-18-2017

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Started searching after reading article in "Ebala" a local newspaper.
Turns out...

Buzz over wolf sighting in Sunderbans
TNN | Apr 18, 2017, 06.00 AM IST

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Kolkata: An Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) has reportedly been sighted for the first time in the Sunderbans, taking wildlife enthusiasts by surprise. This is the first photographic evidence of the animal in the entire Sunderbans spread over both India and Bangladesh, they claim.

The sighting is significant since wolves in Bengal are mostly found in the western parts bordering Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. An endangered animal, the Indian wolf prefers to live in scrub lands, grasslands and semi-arid pastoral/ agricultural landscape. Less than 2,000 wolves are currently found in the forests of India.

The animal was sighted by naturalist Riddhi Mukherjee during a photographic tour on April 14 at Jatirampur village in Pakhirala, just opposite the Sajnekhali wildlife sanctuary. "We sighted it for about 15 minutes before it vanished into the thickets," Mukherjee said.

Sunderbans Tiger Reserve field director Nilanjan Mullick said there were camera traps in the area that could confirm the presence of the animal. "We can only comment about the species and its origin after seeing the photograph," he said, adding that presence of the Indian wolf has never been recorded in the Sunderbans.
Chief wildlife warden Pradeep Vyas said he has seen Mukherjee's photograph, but would comment only after checking the camera trap images. "Wolves are usually found in a pack. This is a solitary animal. So, we have to investigate," he said.

Wildlife Institute of India (WII) scientist Y V Jhala said the "facial markings show it's an adult wolf". "Since wolves can travel long distances, it's possible that this animal has probably dispersed from the western part of Bengal. Probably, there's a pack. It's a great sighting."

State wildlife advisory board member Joydip Kundu, though, cautioned against creating euphoria. "It's a very important discovery, but we should not get carried away creating euphoria but focus on conservation of the species with locals."

Sources said there have been reports of bird and cattle lifting from the fringe villages of Pakhirala, Ayenpur and Jatirampur over the past few says. Locals suspect the involvement of the photographed wolf behind this.

Sources said rigorous experiment now needs to be carried out to find out whether the Sunderbans is a natural habitat for the particular animal or whether it is an introduced species.

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Rishi - 04-30-2017

https://news.mongabay.com/2017/04/scientists-launch-global-search-for-25-lost-species/ )

Scientists launch global search for 25 ‘lost’ species
19 April 2017  

Shreya Dasgupta
Mongabay interviewed Robin Moore, communications director of Global Wildlife Conservation, to find out more about the Search for Lost Species campaign.

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  • The first phase of the this campaign, launched today by the Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC), will see groups of scientists spreading out across the world in search of "25 most wanted lost species".
  • Collectively, these 25 species have not been seen in more than 1,500 years.
  • The top 25 species include 10 mammals, three birds, three reptiles, two amphibians, three fish, one insect, one crustacean, one coral and one plant, found across 18 countries.

Unseen for decades in the wild, many species are now feared extinct. Some exist only as museum specimens, others are only known from old drawings or photographs.
But some of these missing species may still be out there, lurking in remote, unexplored regions of our planet. And to find them, scientists are embarking on what is believed to be the largest-ever global quest for our world’s forgotten animals and plants — the Search for Lost Species campaign.

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The Top 25 Lost Species. Poster by Global Wildlife Conservation (click on the image to enlarge).

The first phase of the this campaign, launched today by the Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC), will see groups of scientists spreading out across the world in search of “25 most wanted lost species”. These include the the tiny bullneck seahorse from Australia that has never been seen in the wild; the Himalayan quail that was last recorded 141 years ago in India; the Wondiwoi tree kangaroo, known only from a single specimen collected in 1928 in Indonesia; the pink-headed duck, once-widespread across India, Bangladesh and Myanmar, but last seen in 1949; and the Fernandina Galápagos tortoise, last seen in 1906 on the Galápagos’s youngest and least-explored island.
“These species include quirky, charismatic animals and plants that also represent tremendous opportunities for conservation,” Robin Moore, GWC communications director and conservation biologist, said in a statement. “While we’re not sure how many of our target species we’ll be able to find, for many of these forgotten species this is likely their last chance to be saved from extinction.”
The top 25 species in GWC’s long list of more than 1,200 lost animals and plants, include 10 mammals, three birds, three reptiles, two amphibians, three fish, one insect, one crustacean, one coral and one plant, distributed across 18 countries. Together, these 25 species have not been seen in more than 1,500 years, GWC said in the statement.
While some of these species are listed as critically endangered (and may even be possibly extinct) by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, others are listed as endangered, vulnerable or data deficient.
Mongabay interviewed Robin Moore, the brain behind the exciting Search for Lost Frogs initiative in 2010, to learn more about the Search for Lost Species campaign.
An interview with Robin Moore:
Mongabay: Why look for lost species? What do you hope to achieve?
Robin Moore: Put simply, to create flagships for conservation. To engage people in the protection of endangered species and critical habitats by raising the profile of some of the world’s forgotten species.
Rediscovery is such a powerful vehicle of hope — and hope is a much more powerful motivator than despair. I know I have gotten pretty used to talking to people about what we are losing, because I see it and live it every day, but we also need to be reminded that there is still an incredible, diverse world out there that is worth fighting for. I hope that by inviting people to join us on this quest — from its inception — we can rekindle those embers of curiosity and inspire people to connect with the wonder and awe of the natural world on a deeper level.

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Pink headed duck. Photo courtesy of Global Wildlife Conservation.

Mongabay: How did you shortlist the 25 ‘most wanted’ lost species?
Robin Moore: We invited experts from over 100 Specialist Groups of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to nominate candidate species. We took these nominations — over 1,200 species in total — and applied a number of criteria to determine the top 25 — a few of which are outlined below:
Firstly, we selected species representing a diversity of taxonomic groups — from mammals, birds and reptiles to corals, crustaceans and plants.
Secondly, we tried to achieve a good geographic spread to represent many of the biodiverse but imperiled habitats around the world.
Third, we assessed the likelihood that a species could be found. We took into account previous search effort and expert opinion on the added value of further searches. We omitted any species classified by the IUCN Red List as Extinct, instead focusing on species that are possibly extinct or simply too little known to gauge.
Fourth, we assessed the scientific and conservation importance of a rediscovery, reaching out to partners on the ground to assess possible follow-up conservation actions to protect the species and its habitat.
Finally, species with a compelling back story made strong candidates for the Top 25, because it is easier for people to connect with species whose story draws them in. It’s hard to overstate the power of a good story.
Mongabay: Why do mammals form the bulk of the top 25 species?
Robin Moore: Ten out of our Top 25 Lost Species are mammals, largely because we had fuller back stories on many of these species, which helped elevate them to candidates for poster species of the campaign. People generally connect more easily with mammals than they do with species further away from us on the evolutionary tree. There is a reason that most flagships for conservation are large-bodied mammals. But we want to use the “charisma” of a lost colobus monkey and tree kangaroo to draw people in, and to learn more about the Sierra Leone Crab, Wellington’s Solitary Coral, and Velvet Pitcher Plant, for instance. But we have to get our foot in the door with people’s attention first.

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The Namdapha flying squirrel is known only from a single specimen collected in Namdapha National Park in 1981. Photo from Zoological Survey of India (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Mongabay: How does the campaign work with local partners? How many scientists and organizations are likely to be involved in this?
Robin Moore: We have collaborated with more than 100 scientists and conservation partners around the world to compile the list and develop searches. Our aim is to make this a truly collaborative campaign, and to work with as many local partners as possible, as this is our model at Global Wildlife Conservation. Our aim is to establish long-term partnerships that will lead to the protection of these species and their habitats. We also want to engage people beyond our conservation and scientific partners in the search, and have created a project within iNaturalist so that anyone can submit observations of lost species. We also invite people to nominate lost species that may be missing from our list.
Mongabay: How do you fund such an expansive search?
Robin Moore: Creatively! We will be adopting a number of approaches to raise the funds for expeditions, from an auction of lost species artwork by renowned artists, to enticing individuals and companies to sponsor expeditions, to crowdfunding.

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A live bullneck seahorse has never been seen in the wild. Image by Sara A. Lourie.

Mongabay: Shouldn’t we be focusing our efforts and funds on saving species that we know are out there and are imperiled?
Robin Moore: We definitely should. But it is also not a zero sum game. One of the primary goals of this campaign is to raise support for conservation that would otherwise not be available, by inspiring people to become engaged in the cause.
Global Wildlife Conservation has worked with partners around the world to create more than 20 new nature reserves, home to more than 100 threatened species. And we continue to do this important work. But there is a reason I am being asked about this campaign instead — it taps into something very different inside of us. It is a promise to bring people with us on an odyssey of exploration and discovery to uncharted lost worlds, to feel the tingle of excitement at the first glimpse of an animal that has not been sighted in 100 years, and never before photographed.
Mongabay referred to our Search for Lost Frogs as “one of conservation’s most exciting expeditions”. It is this excitement that I think we need to connect with more deeply, as this is what we feel when we first fell in love with the natural world, and it is what is going to inspire a new generation of conservationists. We are also tapping into our innate tendency to value more what we have lost than what is right in front of us to create novel flagships for conservation and inspire action.
It’s important to note that species rediscoveries often result in conservation efforts that benefit not just the species but also their habitats and other wildlife. Take the Jamaican Iguana — after four decades without trace it was rediscovered and brought back from the brink of extinction by an international consortium — it is now a flagship for the conservation of an imperiled dry forest habitat in Jamaica.
Mongabay: What are some of the hurdles you foresee in your search?
Robin Moore: Many of the places in which these species live are extremely remote, and the species themselves are elusive and poorly known. Take the Bullneck Seahorse — it has never been seen in the wild, and so it is unclear exactly where to target a search. Also, as we discovered during the Search for Lost Frogs, the weather does not always cooperate with the best laid plans, and in one instance torrential rains and mudslides forced a team back before they really got going. It’s hard to plan to find something that hasn’t been seen for 100+ years — but if it weren’t so challenging, it wouldn’t all be so tantalizing.

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Fernandina Galápagos tortoise was last seen alive in 1906 on the Galápagos’s youngest and least-explored island. Image by John Van Denburgh courtesy of Global Wildlife Conservation.

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The Himalayan quail was last seen 141 years ago in India. Photo from ARKive of the Himalayan quail (Ophrysia superciliosa) – http://www.arkive.org/himalayan-quail/ophrysia-superciliosa/image-G66137.html

RE: Big herbivores! - brotherbear - 05-03-2017

Are hippos cuddly, supersize herbivores or giant, cannibalistic killing-machines? Scientists take a closer look at nature’s most misunderstood 'muses

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Rishi - 05-14-2017

First Syrian brown bear in 60 years caught on camera in Lebanon


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A Syrian brown bear in Heidelberg Zoo, Germany (Wikimedia Commons

The Syrian brown bear has long been considered extinct in Lebanon. That's why a recent, exceptionally rare sighting has conservationists and the Lebanese public so excited. 
In late December, a group of men in the Beqaa Valley in the eastern part of the country, near the Syrian border, reportedly filmed the female bear ambling along in the snow with a young cub in tow.

Editor’s note: The first few seconds of this video feature a different bear filmed in Armenia by the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC). Footage of the recent Beqaa Valley sighting follows.

The footage was sent along to the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL), who verified that the animals were, in fact, Syrian brown bears. SPNL director general Assad Serhal told The Independent that the "historic" discovery was a "positive development".

"What is unusual about this finding is that no bear has been recorded in Lebanon for over 60 years and the closest big population would probably be more than 500km away in Turkey. Also, brown bears would usually be hibernating or tucked in their dens during this time of the year," adds an update on the SPNL website.

Though it can still be found in the Caucasus Mountains of Russia and in countries like Georgia, Armenia and Iran, the Syrian brown bear (Ursus arctos syriacus) has been considered extinct in Israel and Lebanon for decades. Even its namesake country, Syria, classified the bears as extinct in 2009 (and the subspecies had not been seen there for decades before that).

Populations have been declining for some time. In Lebanon, the bear was first identified in 1828, and it steadily lost ground to habitat destruction and overhunting over the next 130 years. 

The SPNL is not certain of the circumstances surrounding the sighting, and it's unclear at this stage whether the Beqaa Valley appearance is a sign of an ursine comeback here – the bears may simply have been passing through. The fact that they were spotted in the winter, when would normally be hibernating, suggests this pair may have been fleeing danger or conflict elsewhere. 

For the SPNL, the rare footage has raised many questions. "Could there really be a Syrian brown bear, subsisting on human-grown fruits and possibly wild juniper, roaming the hills on the Syria-Lebanon border? Was this a stray bear, perhaps wandering over from Syria or even Turkey or Iraq? Did the war in Syria make it cross the border?" writes the group.

This isn't the only fairly recent evidence of the presence of wild Syrian brown bears in the region – paw prints likely belonging to the subspecies were found in Syria in 2004. Other tracks have been documented in the years since. 

The unusual sighting has sparked much public interest, and according to The Independent, there have been calls for the Lebanese Ministry of the Environment to protect the immediate area in order to keep the roaming bears safe from hunters.