Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Printable Version

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RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Rishi - 05-18-2017

Tigers kills six elephants in Kerala’s Wayanad as drought triggers fierce water war

Officials say large-scale migration of animals from nearby Bandipur and Mudumali wildlife parks to the Wayanad sanctuary in search of water amid a debilitating drought have probably brought things to a head.

May 10, 2017 07:59 IST

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Ramesh Babu 
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram

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As Kerala is slipping into an unprecedented drought man-animal conflict has risen sharply. Wild animals like elephants have started raiding human settlements frequently. (HT Photo)

Eighteen elephants have died in Kerala’s Wayanad wildlife sanctuary over the past four months, including at least six in tiger attacks that officials say could have been triggered by bitter turf wars over scarce water.
Officials say large-scale migration of animals from nearby Bandipur and Mudumali wildlife parks to the Wayanad sanctuary in search of water amid a debilitating drought have probably brought things to a head.
While six elephants were killed by tigers, two tuskers died fighting each other.
Tiger attacks on elephants are rare because the latter move in large herds.

“This year Wayanad is witnessing a mass influx of wild animals. Naturally high density of animals is bound to trigger intense fights between them,” said Wayanad wildlife warden Dhanesh Kumar.

“Though we can’t attribute these deaths directly to drought, the pressure is intense on wild animals during severe weather conditions,” Kumar added.

Veterinarian Arun Zacharia pointed out that the summer temperature this year was at least 4 degrees Celsius more than in the previous years, causing immense stress to the animals. “During scant rainfall, elephants have little option but to come out of their comfort zone in search of greener pastures,” he explained.

Wayanad witnessed 12 elephant deaths during the corresponding period last year.

With water bodies drying up in view of the crippling drought, thought to be the worst in Kerala in 115 years, locals are reporting increasing incursions by elephants into human habitation. At least four people have been trampled to death and 120 elephant incursions reported in the past four months.
The current drought has been caused by successive failed monsoons. The south-west monsoon was deficient by 33.7% and the northeast monsoon less by 60%. A majority of the state’s 44 rivers are also either dry or near-dry.

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Rishi - 07-12-2017

The droughts are over & floods are here... Kaziranga has been engulfed by the annual monsoon deluge.

Kaziranga park turns into watery grave - Assam police to keep an eye out for poachers

Ritupallab Saikia

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A rescued hog deer near Methoni tea estate on Tuesday. Picture credit: Bhaskar Choudhury/IFAW-WTI

Golaghat, July 11: Seventy per cent of Kaziranga National Park, a World Heritage Site, is under water following incessant rain over the last few days, forcing animals to cross National Highway 37 to seek refuge in the hills of Karbi-Anglong. The park is 200km east of Guwahati.
A park official today said additional police are being deployed to protect the animals from falling prey to poachers.

Thirty Assam police personnel reached Kaziranga today and more will join in a day or two. They will patrol NH-37 that runs through the park and keep a strict vigil on speeding vehicles.

"Seventy per cent of Kaziranga National Park and around 120 camps are under water," park director Satyendra Singh said, adding that the situation is critical.

Last year the park authorities faced one of the worst floods in recent times and 107 animals were rescued. The rescue efforts were led by the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC), a joint venture of the International Fund for Animal Welfare-Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW-WTI) and the Assam forest department.

A statement issued by CWRC, the jointly-run wildlife care facility of the Assam forest department, IFAW and WTI today said it had rescued nine hog deer in the flood-hit park.

The CWRC has released three of them back to the wild. Two seriously injured deer died during treatment and one is under care at CWRC. Three deer were found dead by the rescue team.

One hog deer was found taking refuge in a house near a tea garden market and rescued after tranquillisation.

"In a bid to avoid such mishaps, we, in collaboration with the Bokakhat and Kaliabor administrations, have been issuing entry cards to vehicles plying on the 28km stretch from Amguri to Haldibari. We are slapping a fine of Rs 5,000 if any vehicle crosses the fixed speed limit of 40km per hour. The speed of vehicles is being controlled between Bokakhat and Jakhalabandha. The Bokakhat and Kaliabor administrations have imposed Section 144 CrPC from Burapahar to Latabari area of the park," the divisional forest officer of the park, Rohini Ballav Saikia, told The Telegraph today.

"Till date, we have fined 12 vehicles for violating the speed limit and drones are also being used in Bagori and Kohora ranges of the park to monitor movement of animals," Saikia said.

The National Green Tribunal in May had passed an order saying that any vehicle found overspeeding inside the park will have to pay a fine of Rs 5,000 under the Motor Vehicles Act.

Agriculture minister Atul Bora and forest minister Pramila Rani Brahma visited the relief and forest camps yesterday at Kaziranga and took stock of the situation. They reiterated that there is a need for more highlands inside the park.
"The park authorities have failed to complete construction of 33 highlands before the monsoon and as a result wild animals are suffering the flood fury. Wild animals would have been in a better position had the highlands been constructed before time," Raju Phukon, organising secretary of the All Assam Students' Union, said.

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Rishi - 08-13-2017

India's elephant population stable & expanding: Census
Jayashree NandiTNN | Updated: Aug 13, 2017, 04:16 AM IST

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NEW DELHI: An elephant census released by the Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change on Saturday revealed an expansion in elephant areas, even while the jumbo population remained "stable" at 27,000, of which 150 roam the forests of Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh & Myanmar as well.

The report 'Synchronised elephant population estimation India 2017', released on World Elephant Day, estimates that the exact population of jumbos in the country is 27312, with Karnataka reporting the highest population at 6049, followed by Assam at 5719.
Though there has been a staistical decline in overall elephant population from 29391-30711 in 2012, but it is only due to a difference in the counting method, as there was much double-counting as the jumbos moved from one state to another. "We have a healthy elephant population in India. There is no question of a decline. In fact, there may have been a slight increase," said elephant expert and head of Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF) R Sukumar.

The elephant census is also showing an interesting but worrying trend. Many states that never reported any elephant population in previous census have reported elephants, which indicates a gradual expansion in elephant area.

Experts termed the "expansion" trend as worrying because it could lead to an increase in human-animal conflicts. Jumbos have been reported for the first time in Manipur, Mizoram, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and even on some new islands of Andaman & Nicobars, indicating disturbance in the wild animals' original areas or climate change impacts like temperature and precipitation modification.

"This expansion has been happening gradually over 30 years. It is worrying because it will be difficult to manage. The real challenge is that elephants are moving to other forest areas, which could increase the potential for conflicts with humans," Sukaumar said, adding that the last mass translocation was reported from Tamil Nadu in 1983, following a major drought. Herds of elephant had moved to Andhra Pradesh, where the jumbo population had been absent for over two centuries.

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

381 new species discovered in the Amazon
From Phys.org, August 31, 2017

Credit: Zig Koch / WWF

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A new WWF and Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development report, released on 30 August, reveals that a new animal or plant species is discovered in the Amazon every 2 days, the fastest rate to be observed this century. The findings come as huge parts of the forest are increasingly under threat, sparking further concern over the irreversible - and potentially catastrophic - consequences unsustainable policy and decision-making could have.

New Species of Vertebrates and Plants in the Amazon 2014-2015, details 381 new species that were discovered over 24 months, including 216 plants, 93 fish, 32 amphibians, 20 mammals (2 of which are fossils), 19 reptiles and 1 bird.

The latest 2014-2015 survey indicates the highest rate of discovery yet, with a species identified every 1.9 days. The average number of new species found in the Amazon in WWF's 1999-2009 report was 111 a year, or one new species every three days, while the 2010-2013 report revealed that at least 441 were discovered, which works out at a rate of one new species every 3.3 days.

A great enigma
Ricardo Mello, coordinator of WWF-Brazil Amazon Programme, says that life within this biome is still a great enigma: "We're in 2017, verifying the existence of new species and even though resources are scarce, we are seeing an immense variety and richness of biodiversity. This is a signal that we still have much to learn about the Amazon".

Mello also states that the new findings should compel decision-makers, both public and private, to think about the irreversible impacts caused by large-scale projects such as roads and hydroelectric dams in the Amazon.

"This biodiversity needs to be known and protected. Studies indicate that the greatest economic potential of a region such as the Amazon is the inclusion of biodiversity in the technological solutions of a new development model, including development of cures for diseases, relying on new species for food purposes, such as superfoods. "

Credit: Zig Koch / WWF

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The report comes the week after Brazil's government passed a decree allowing mining in the National Reserve of Copper and Associates (Renca), a huge protected area the size of Switzerland which encompasses nine protected areas. Opening protected areas of the forest up for deforestation and mining, could be disastrous for wildlife and local cultures and indigenous communities. While the decree has since been revised to clarify that mining will not be allowed in conservation or indigenous areas within the former reserve, following national and global outcry, challenges persist for the world's largest tropical forest.

Informing conservation strategies
For João Valsecchi do Amaral, technical and scientific director at the Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development, the new knowledge brought by this report will help to identify areas or species that are reeling under pressures, to monitor this biodiversity and establish new strategies of conservation.

"For the conservation of species, it is necessary to know what they are, how many there are and their distribution. These are key details to ensure that ecological and evolutionary processes are understood and maintained to ensure the species survival," he explained.

Protected areas
The creation of protected areas is among the strategies cited in the report to lessen the negative impact of the development that the Amazon is and will continue to be subject to.

The description of new species and the dissemination of scientific results can help raise public awareness and understanding on the importance of the Amazon and the need for greater and more comprehensive knowledge of its biodiversity. They can also form the basis for strategies related to the establishment of protected areas and public conservation policies.

Freshwater fish, Amazon River. Credit: Michel Roggo / WWF

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Due to its vast size, variety of species and diversity of habitats, the gaps in scientific knowledge about the Amazon are still enormous. The majority of species recordings are based on observations and collections made along the main rivers, near big cities and in the few protected areas most frequently studied. As a result, new studies on the Amazon's biodiversity, particularly those conducted in the forest's most remote areas, continue to reveal large numbers of species that are as yet unknown to science – and humanity.

New species discovered
As well as recording the new species of vertebrates and plants discovered in the Amazon between January 2014 and December 2015, the report also includes an update on species identified in a previous 2010- 2013 report.

The report, which consolidates the findings from a number of different researchers, highlights some of the most fascinating finds, including:
  • A new species of pink river dolphin (Inia Araguaiaensis) - Estimated to have a population of around 1,000 individuals, the species is under threat from the construction of hydroelectric dams, and industrial, agricultural and cattle ranching activities. Pink river dolphins are an important part of the local culture around the Amazon, with a number of myths and legends around them.
  • Fire-tailed titi monkey (Plecturocebus miltoni) – This striking monkey from the southern Amazon owes its name to its long bright orange tail. The species is under threat from deforestation.
  • A bird that pays tribute to the Brazilian rubber tapper (Zimmerius chicomendesi) – Discovered after its unknown call attracted attention, this bird's name - Chico's Tyrannulet - is a tribute to the rubber tapper and environmentalist Francisco Alves Mendes Filho. Better-known as Chico Mendes, he was a leader of the rubber tapping communities, and played a key role in opening the world's eyes to the problems faced by the Amazon.
  • A bird named after former US President Barack Obama and found in a huge area between Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador (Nystalus obamai);
  • Another bird named after the famous anthropologist and explorer Marechal Cândido Rondon, found in the South of Amazonas (Hypocnemis rondoni);
  • A stingray which has "honeycombs" on its surface, registered in Rondônia, in the region of Alto Madeira (Potamotrygon limai);
  • A bird found at the south of Amazonas, in the Sucunduri region, where WWF-Brazil maintains conservation projects (Tolmomyias sucunduri).
The Amazon contains nearly a third of the earth's remaining tropical rainforests and, despite covering only around 1 per cent of the planet's surface, it is estimated to be home to 10 per cent of the earth's known species. Globally, it is estimated that 80 per cent of species are yet to be identified.

The current rate of human-related extinction of species is between 1,000 and 10,000 times that of the natural rate of extinction. Knowing the total number of species in the region provides a baseline to monitor current and future biodiversity losses. The discovery of new species is important for environmental and natural resource management, and can guide the establishment of protected areas to safeguard wildlife and the communities that depend on these resources.

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Brehm - 11-03-2017

New Orang Utan subspecies discovered in Sumatra! The so called "Tapanuli - Orang - Utan", an isolated group of about 800 specimens. Recently discovered and already an endangered species....


RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Jimmy - 11-24-2017

It's not a news but something worthwhile mentioning, Camera trap installed in Chitwan reveals a presence of wolf along with dhole and a striped hyena!!! These three animals finding niche in similar overlapping eco-system is simply remarkable.

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RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Ngala - 11-29-2017

Pennsylvania hunters kill 659 black bears on first day
LANCASTERONLINE | Staff Nov 20, 2017

Pennsylvania is home to some extraordinarily large black bears.

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The first day of Pennsylvania’s statewide bear season resulted in a harvest of 659 black bears, according to preliminary totals released Monday by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Archery-bear and other early-bear season harvest data are not included in this preliminary harvest for the statewide four-day bear season, which runs from Nov. 18 to Nov. 22.

Bears have been harvested in 49 counties during the statewide season so far.

The top 10 bears processed at check stations by Monday were either estimated or confirmed to have live weights of 535 pounds or more.

The largest of those bears – a male estimated at 700 pounds – was taken in Oil Creek Township, Venango County, by Chad A. Wagner, of Titusville, Pa. He took it with a rifle at about 8 a.m. on Nov. 18, the season’s opening day.

Other large bears taken in the season’s opening day – all taken with a rifle – include:

648-pound male taken in Dreher Township, Wayne County, by Joseph D. Simon, of Newfoundland, Pa.
609-pound male taken in Abbott Township, Potter County, by Michael R. Neimeyer, of Spring City, Pa.
595-pound male taken in St. Marys Township, Elk County, by Stephanie A. Siford, of North East, Pa.
595-pound male taken in Charleston Township, Tioga County, by Zachery L. Martin, of Wellsboro, Pa.
586-pound male taken in Oil Creek Township, Crawford County, by Brian K. Baker, Titusville, Pa.
576-pound male taken in Homer Township, Potter County, by Kirby R. Kornhaus, of Jonestown, Pa.
561-pound male taken in Ross Township, Luzerne County, by Richard B. Kollar, of Shickshinny, Pa.
536-pound male taken in Dean Township, Cambria County, by Matthew J. Lidwell, of Dysart, Pa.
535-pound male taken in Blooming Grove Township, Pike County, by Bradley S. Delikat, of Telford, Pa.

The 2017 first-day preliminary harvest is a decrease compared to 1,297 bears taken during the 2016 opener. Hunters in 2015 harvested 1,508 bears on the opening day.

The overall 2016 bear harvest was 3,529, the fifth largest is state history. In 2015, hunters took a total of 3,745 bears – the fifth-largest harvest all time. The largest harvest – 4,350 bears – happened in 2011, when preliminary first-day totals numbered 1,936.

Other previous first-day statewide bear harvest totals were 1,623 in 2014; 1,320 in 2013; 1,751 in 2010; 1,897 in 2009; 1,725 in 2008; 1,005 in 2007; 1,461 in 2007; and 1,461 in 2006.

The preliminary first-day bear harvest by Wildlife Management Unit was as follows: WMU 1A, 1 (9 in 2016); WMU 1B, 11 (24); WMU 2C, 18 (90); WMU 2D, 32 (37); WMU 2E, 5 (27); WMU 2F, 65 (145); WMU 2G, 129 (303); WMU 2H, 31 (45); WMU 3A, 43 (7); WMU 3B, 74 (95); WMU 3C, 44 (39); WMU 3D, 101 (105); WMU 4A, 29 (83); WMU 4B, 14 (51); WMU 4C, 20 (44); WMU 4D, 26 (102); WMU 4E, 14 (25); and WMU 5A, 2 (1).

The top bear-hunting county in the state on the first day of the season was Tioga County, with 58. It was followed by Pike County with 55.

Opening-day harvests by county and region are:

Northwest (90): Warren, 22 (41); Clarion, 17 (19); Venango, 16 (35); Jefferson, 14 (29); Forest, 12 (38); Crawford, 7 (8); Butler, 2 (5);.

Southwest (23): Somerset, 8 (40); Fayette, 6 (21); Armstrong, 4 (6); Cambria, 4 (10); and Indiana, 1 (10).

Northcentral (263): Tioga, 58 (76); Lycoming, 47 (106); Clinton, 41 (97); Potter, 31 (65); Elk, 28 (43); Cameron, 20 (43); McKean, 16 (39); Clearfield, 12 (46); Centre, 5 (34); and Union, 5 (9).

Southcentral (57): Huntingdon, 16 (37); Bedford, 12 (42); Fulton, 9 (25); Mifflin, 5 (14); Franklin, 4 (10); Juniata, 3 (22); Perry, 3 (17); Adams, 2 (0); Cumberland, 2 (3); and Blair, 1 (15).

Northeast (211): Pike, 55 (34); Wayne, 32 (27); Sullivan, 24 (19); Monroe, 18 (27); Luzerne, 15 (37); Wyoming, 15 (8); Lackawanna, 14 (16); Susquehanna, 13 (20); Bradford, 10 (28); Carbon, 9 (12); Columbia, 4 (12); Montour, 1 (0); and Northumberland, 1 (1).

Southeast (15): Dauphin, 9 (16); Berks, 3 (1); Schuylkill, 2 (12); and Northampton, 1 (1).

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Ngala - 01-31-2018

The Gabonese rainforest has not yet finished to surprising!!

Camera trap captures spotted hyena in Gabon national park, the first in 20 years
by Mongabay.com on 29 January 2018

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  • The spotted hyena was thought to be extinct in Gabon’s Batéké Plateau National Park for 20 years as a result of wildlife poaching.
  • But the camera trap image captured has given conservation groups hope that protection of the park is working and allowing wildlife to return.
  • Camera traps have also recently snagged images of a lion, a serval and chimpanzees.
Researchers have captured a camera trap photograph of a spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) in a national park in Gabon where the predator hasn’t been seen for two decades.

Conservation groups have heralded the hyena’s return as a sign that wildlife is returning to Batéké Plateau National Park.

“During our 2001 Batéké lion survey, besides a single image of one small antelope in this vicinity, we only photographed poachers coming in from Congo,” Philipp Henschel, a wildlife biologist and head of Panthera’s West and Central Africa Regional Lion Program, said in a statement. “To see these large carnivores in the same landscape now is incredibly exciting and promising.”

The lone lion of Gabon photographed recently in the Batéké Plateau National Park. Photo and caption ©Panthera/Gabon National Parks Agency/The Aspinall Foundation.

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Poaching decimated wildlife species, including lions and hyenas, in the 2,034-square-kilometer (785-square-mile) park, which the government of Gabon established in 2002. But since then, reintroduced western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN, have taken up residence in the park. And in 2015, a camera trap also nabbed a picture of a lion (Panthera leo).

“Gorillas, lions, hyenas — the remarkable return of these headline-making species is not only an indicator of the success of two decades of hard work, but also inspires us to keep pushing the restoration forward,” said Tony King, who coordinates the reintroduction program at the Aspinall Foundation, the organization that spearheaded the release of the gorillas beginning in the 1990s.

“The Batéké Plateau has many more surprises hidden away,” King added in the statement.

Western lowland gorillas have been successfully re-established in Batéké through the Aspinall Foundation’s long-running reintroduction program. Photo and caption ©The Aspinall Foundation.

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Camera traps have also snagged images of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and a small cat called a serval (Leptailurus serval) in the park. The scientists suspect that the hyena may have come from Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo.

In 2017, Panthera, an NGO focused on the conservation of wild cats and the ecosystems in which they live, partnered with Gabon’s National Parks Agency, known as ANPN, to bolster the protection of Batéké Plateau National Park and its growing wildlife population.

“The return of these large carnivores is a great demonstration that the efforts of our rangers and partners are having a positive effect on Batéké wildlife,” Lee White, who directs the ANPN, said in the statement.

“Predators are gravitating to this protected zone, where prey numbers are recovering as a result of a long-term commitment by ANPN and the Aspinall Foundation to protect the area.”

Chimpanzees caught on a camera trap in the savannahs of the Batéké Plateau National Park, Gabon. Photo and caption ©Panthera/ANPN/TAF.

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A serval, typically a savannah species, caught on a camera trap in the Batéké Plateau National Park, Gabon. Photo and caption ©Panthera/ANPN/TAF.

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Banner image of a spotted hyena caught by a camera trap recently in the Batéké Plateau National Park in Gabon ©Panthera/ANPN/TAF.

RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Jimmy - 02-01-2018

recently i came across an article on Facebook talking about a possibility of restoring forest corridor running from Chitwan to Manas in what will be a Terai Arc Assam linkage. Here is the article explaining this, looks credible.
Terai Arc Landscape currently extends for around 50,000 sq.km from Chitwan/parsa to Corbett/rajaji.

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In Nepal there is a already an initiative to extend the current corridor up to atleast Koshi Tappu floodplain reserve in what is termed as 'the Greater Terai Arc' by Wwf.

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If the greater Terai Arc is restored in the near future then there is substantial possibility to connect Assam and Terai (note: elephants migrating  to koshi Tappu have come from the existing forests of  North Bengal, India which lies in the east.)

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RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Jeffrey - 07-14-2018

Kenya: Seven of 14 rhinos die after being moved between national parks 

Seven out of 14 critically endangered black rhinos died after being moved to a new reserve in southern Kenya, wildlife officials have revealed.

Kenya Wildlife Service refused to comment on the rhinoceros deaths but, speaking on condition of anonymity, one official said on Friday: “Seven of the rhinos died but it has not been established as to why.”

Souirce: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/13/kenya-rhinos-die-after-being-moved-between-national-parks

#Kenya #Africa #rhinos

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RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Jimmy - 08-23-2018

good news from Chitwan National Park, amidst setback that saw 6 translocated buffaloes to Chitwan die, Now they seem to have adjusted to their new home with two buffaloes giving birth and the other one being pregnant. there are altogether 7 females of breeding age and 2 males. Now with two births there are 11 wild buffaloes.

Source: WWF Nepal
#Chitwan National Park welcomed its first #WildWaterBuffalo calf in 70 years! The calf was born last week to one of the 15 animals translocated in 2017. While 6 died from natural causes the new addition does bode well for the endangered species.

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Source: National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), Nepal
With the second new-born calf today, the #WildWaterBuffalo (#Arna in Nepali) population in #ChitwanNationalPark has increased to eleven in the past one week. Definitely reassuring that #Arna translocation efforts in #Nepal is slowly and steadily beginning to bear fruit.

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RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Jeffrey - 08-27-2018

Zambia to allow trophy hunters to kill 250 hippos a year, without evidence of overpopulation

Zambia wants to allow culling of hippos in the Luangwa River, and safari companies are already advertising to hunters. 

Though there is no evidence of overpopulation, 250 hippos a year could be killed. 

... In 2006, a similar plan was rolled back after backlash by environmental and animal rights groups. Now, the proposal had made its way again, with the country’s Government insisting that it would be in bid to control numbers and stop the spread of anthrax ...

Source: https://www.lifegate.com/people/news/zambia-culling-hippos

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RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Jeffrey - 08-27-2018

USA: New study highlights successful shark protections as well as vulnerabilities to fishing bycatch

A new analysis shows that the habitats of three shark species (great hammerhead, tiger, and bull sharks) are relatively well protected from longline fishing in federal waters off the southeastern United States, but that that some prime locations are still vulnerable to fishing.

The new study led by scientists at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science has important implications to further protect these at-risk species from unintentional fishing, known as bycatch, in U.S. federal waters.

Source: https://phys.org/news/2018-08-highlights-shark-vulnerability-fishing.html

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RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Jimmy - 09-10-2018

Another birth of a wild water buffalo in 9th Sept, 2018, 3 calves have been born in one month from the translocated batch of wild water buffaloes bubalus arnee in Chitwan.

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the news (in Nepali)
Along with tiger, calves will be especially vulnerable to mugger crocs since they spend considerable time in water. here is a 'reminder' pic of domestic buffalo alerted by a mugger croc in chitwan. pic: Bichitra poudel

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RE: Animal News (Except Bigcats) - Suhail - 10-25-2018

Elephants in the African veld: climate heroes? 

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A female African elephant and her calf graze at the Singita Grumeti Game Reserve, Tanzania on October 7 2018. Picture: REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Africa’s megaherbivores — elephants, rhinos and hippos — could potentially play a major role in mitigating climate change, says Professor Graham Kerley, director of the Centre for African Conservation Ecology at Nelson Mandela University.

He is one of six authors of a paper published in October in the journal Philosophical Transactions. Titled "Trophic rewilding as a climate mitigation strategy?" the paper was co-authored by Kerley and researchers from Sweden, SA, the Netherlands and New Mexico.

“The Nobel prize for economics has just been awarded to people who work on climate change as it is the biggest threat facing society. Far bigger than global terrorism, it will affect everyone,” he says. “This study looks at an area that has not been addressed previously: the role of large and megaherbivores in mitigating climate change.”

The study emanated from speculative discussions between scientists and proposes using Africa as a living laboratory to understand how these animals influence the landscape and climate.

“Megaherbivore communities globally have significantly changed over the last 15,000 to 20,000 years,” Kerley explains. “Before then, the world was dominated by megaherbivores, but North America, South America and most of Eurasia have lost all theirs, including the mammoth, mastodon, gomphothere (four-tusk elephant), giant ground sloth and woolly rhinoceros.

“This is a very recent extinction and the consequences have been profound in terms of how the climate has shifted due to the large-scale loss of megaherbivores worldwide. Megaherbivores, hind gut fermenters that produce far less methane, have since largely been replaced with livestock — particularly sheep and cattle — that produce far more methane.

“Today, we define a megaherbivore as an animal weighing over 1,000kg.  The prehistoric megaherbivores were far larger and heavier than the megaherbivores of today still found in Africa. In SA, megaherbivores occurred just about everywhere except very dry areas like the Kalahari, and the hippos would have inhabited the water course areas.”

Some scientists believe that the reason why only Africa retained its megaherbivores in sizeable numbers is because they evolved alongside the first human populations. The African animals were therefore more alert to human hunting, they speculate, and more naïve and easy prey on other continents when humans arrived there.

With their lengthy gestation periods and slow growth, reproduction by megaherbivores could not keep up with the assault. In Africa, conservation initiatives were  put in place before the megaherbivores were hunted to extinction, but the current poaching onslaught is expected to reverse the recent growth in their numbers.

The effect on the global climate as a result of the mass loss of megaherbivores in other parts of the world is finally being understood, and is explained in the paper in terms of their contribution to climate change mitigation.

The mega browsers — in Africa these are the black rhino and elephant — help to maintain the balance in savanna systems between trees and grasslands, working in synergy with the mega grazers, Kerley explains. Without the mega browsers, trees and bushes would take over the grasslands, and without the them, grasslands would take over the tree and forest areas.

“The importance of vast areas of grassland, in addition to their role as water production areas, is that they reflect the sunshine, and therefore reduce solar radiation.

“This might prove to be even more important in keeping the planet cool than dark areas, such as trees and forests which absorb heat and carbon and play an important role in carbon sequestration (long-term carbon storage).

“The megaherbivores also play a major role in nutrient recycling, soil health and seed dispersal. Elephants, for example, contribute to the dispersal of the seeds for hardwood trees and are therefore essential to the growth of hardwoods that grow slowly and hold their carbon for long periods.”

The authors of the paper emphasise that the megaherbivore proposition is not a single solution, but a contribution to the climate change mitigation strategy.

“The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that we have to do a lot more to keep the world from warming by more than 1.5°C and to reverse the changes to the atmosphere in order to avoid catastrophic climate consequences, including large-scale extinction,” says Kerley.

He refers to an article in The Conservation Africa on October 10 by systems ecologist Professor Robert Scholes from Wits University’s Global Change Institute,  who writes: “It seems inevitable that the planet will overshoot the 1.5°C global mark, and probably also the 2°C mark. Cooling the atmosphere later in the century would require the removal of up to a trillion tons of carbon dioxide.

“The world doesn’t yet have affordable, proven technology to do this at the required scale. The approach that is most commonly punted — mass tree-planting — is a non-starter in most of southern Africa, where the arable land and water resources are needed for food production, and the marginal land is too dry to grow forests."

The potential of megaherbivores to mitigate climate change  raises the interesting discussion of what it would mean to reintroduce them into Eurasia, North America and South America where they have been driven into extinction by humans.

“We need to do far more research into this, with many questions to be answered. These include: if you have an equal biomass of elephants and cattle, what happens to respective landscapes when you have systems dominated by megaherbivores and wildlife versus systems dominated by domestic livestock?” Kerley says.

“What are the implications for climate mitigation, land use and food security? Will the world need to create larger areas for megaherbivores and other wildlife? How are we managing our wildlife for climate change mitigation? What are the consequences of not having megaherbivores?

“If megaherbivores do play a significant role in climate change mitigation, Africa could play a major environmental and economic role in making them available to the rest of the world. Would the world be open to this, are we ready for this?

“All these ideas and questions are somewhat speculative, but we need to explore them, and, as a matter of great urgency, come up with new, large-scale, innovative climate mitigation strategies.”

Link: https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/life/2018-10-25-elephants-in-the-african-veld-climate-heroes/