Wildlife

US Lifts Ban on Import of African Elephant Hunting Trophies

Earlier this week, the Trump administration lifted a ban on importing hunting trophies from African elephants into the United States, claiming that this policy change would benefit elephants — but conservation officials are skeptical.

Representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced yesterday (Nov. 16) that the department would begin issuing permits allowing the import of sport-hunted trophies collected from elephants killed in Zimbabwe from Jan. 21, 2016, through Dec. 31, 2018. However, a ban remains on importing elephant trophies from Tanzania, according to the statement.

According to the FWS, hunting trophies are defined as raw or preserved animal parts collected by a recreational hunter “for personal use.” This may include “bones, claws, hair, head, hide, hooves, horns, meat, skull, teeth, tusks or any taxidermied part, including, but not limited to, a rug or taxidermied head, shoulder or full mount.”

The African elephant’s (Loxodonta africana) conservation status is listed as “vulnerable” by (IUCN), which is applied when a species’ numbers have declined by more than 30 percent over the past decade or when their habitat is fragmented, deteriorating or greatly reduced. It warns that the species is facing a high level of vulnerability in the wild.

However, many conservation organizations are skeptical of the benefits of legal and trophy collection for preserving and protecting elephants. In addition, there is the additional concern that lifting the trophy ban will send a troubling message to poachers about the United States’ commitment to ending trade in animal products from threatened and endangered species

This is the wrong move at the wrong time for protecting Africa’s wildlife, according to conservationists.

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Wildlife

Seahorses Return

A breeding population of short-snouted seahorses has been discovered living in England’s River Thames in what biologists say is proof the once-polluted waterway is becoming cleaner.

The creatures are typically found from the Mediterranean Sea and Canary Islands to the English Channel.

Announcement of the discovery was delayed until the species became protected under law, with fines or imprisonment imposed on those found killing, injuring or capturing the seahorses.

Bat Slaughter

The carcasses of dozens of rare grey-headed flying foxes have been found along Australia’s Queensland coast after a slaughter locals describe as “horrific.”

The protected species is Australia’s largest bat and is crucial for pollination in Queensland’s forests.

The killings are the latest in a spate of animal mutilations that have mainly been focused in Victoria state, and include kangaroo, wallaby and koala.

Those who found the bat carcasses said they tried to help the baby bats whose mothers had been killed, but were able to save only two.

Wildlife

Prehistoric, Dinosaur-Era Shark Found Swimming Off Coast Of Portugal

The rare frilled shark is considered a “living fossil,” as its makeup has remained unchanged for 80 million years. This summer, researchers found one alive and thriving off the coast of Portugal, adding evidence regarding the resilience of this ancient sea creature.

The shark was discovered off the Algarve coast by researchers. The frilled shark has remained the same, both inside and out, since the time of the dinosaurs, with scientists dating it back to the Cretaceous Period, a time when the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops still roamed the planet. The creature is incredibly simply and unevolved, most likely due to the lack of nutrients found in its deep-sea dwellings. The examination revealed that its diet is 61 percent cephalopods—the same class that squids and octopus belong to.

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Nature – Images

Interesting Images

Burning Elephants!

An image of two elephants fleeing a mob that set them on fire in eastern India highlights the ongoing human-elephant conflicts in the region. The image shows a calf on fire as it and an adult elephant run for their lives — as a crowd of “jeering” people throw “flaming tar balls” and firecrackers at the pair. According to the Sanctuary Asia Foundation, these type of scenes are common in the Bankura district of West Bengal.

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Wildlife

Bonus Monarchs

Tens of thousands of migrating monarch butterflies are stuck in northern climes this autumn because of unusually warm weather and strong winds that have grounded them.

Biologist Elizabeth Howard, director of the monarch tracking group Journey North, says the colorful insects have been seen from far southern Ontario to near Cape May, New Jersey. Monarchs typically arrive in their central Mexican winter home about Nov. 1.

Howard points out that many of the stragglers are a sort of “bonus generation” that was able to emerge late in the season because of the delayed chill.

Salmon Crisis

Not a single wild salmon returned to a key breeding river in New Brunswick, Canada, to spawn for the first time on record.

“It means for the Magaguadavic River, whatever wild salmon that existed there are now extinct,” said Neville Crabbe, spokesman for the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

The federation says the decline in the once-abundant wild salmon from Atlantic Canada to Maine is partly due to an increase in salmon farming in the region.

Other factors include the construction of dams, loss of habitat, pollution, climate change and overfishi

Wildlife

Octopuses crawl to shore en masse

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More than two dozen octopuses were spotted slogging along a shoreline in West Wales, worrying beachgoers, who spent some time picking up the critters and plopping them back into the ocean.

It is uncertain why the octopuses were engaged in what has been described by scientists as “odd” behaviour. There could be several reasons that they moved on to the beach, including spawning, weather and water temperatures. As the areas where they are exhibiting this odd behavior coincides with the two areas hit by the two recent low-pressure depressions and associated storms of Ophelia and Brian, it could be supposed that these have affected them. Or it could simply be injuries sustained by the rough weather itself or there could be a sensitivity to a change in atmospheric pressure.

Octlantis – Octopus Community off Australia

n the briny waters of Jervis Bay on Australia’s east coast, where three rocky outcrops jut out from piles of broken scallop shells, beer bottles and lead fishing lures, a clutch of gambol among a warren of nearly two dozen dens..

The bustling community belies conventionally held notions of the cephalopods, once thought to be solitary and asocial. Scientists have discovered the normally gloomy and reclusive octopuses living at high densities in Jervis Bay, Australia, where they are interacting with one another, signaling, mating and throwing one another out of their dens.

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Wildlife

Sea Lions Washing Ashore From Disease

An outbreak of a bacterial disease has caused sick or dead sea lions to wash up on Oregon and California beaches.

Researchers say the culprit is leptospirosis, a bacteria that can cause kidney failure, fever, and muscle pain. Young male sea lions are usually affected and may exhibit dehydration and depression.

Leptospirosis can be spread through the urine of an infected animal. So if a dog touches or somehow ingests the urine of that animal they can in turn become sick themselves. Pet owners have been asked to take care when walking their dogs along affected beaches.

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Nature – Images

Interesting Images

Bubble-Blowing Wasp

Several of the industrious insects were recently observed with droplets dangling from their mouths. Turns out, they were removing excess moisture from their nest by hoovering up water and then expelling it as minuscule water globes, which makes the wasps look like they’re blowing perfectly round bubbles.

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Wildlife

Magpie Attacks

Residents of Melbourne, Australia, have been warned of increased attacks by swooping magpie birds that have resulted in an alarming number of eye injuries. “In the last week, we saw five in the one day, including a penetrating eye injury that needed to go to theatre (surgery),” said Dr. Carmel Crock of the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

A special online map has been prepared to show where the highest numbers of attacks have occurred. Officials say that since the birds may be less likely to swoop if they think people are watching them, people are advised to draw a pair of “eyes” on the backs of their hats and helmets.

Wildlife

Hungry Bears

Two people have been killed by bears in Russia’s Far East this fall due to dwindling food sources, according to a forestry worker.

AFP reports that authorities on Sakhalin Island say they were forced to shoot dead 83 of the bears during the past week because of their aggressive behavior.

The worker told the agency that there are not enough fish, berries and nuts for the bears to store up their usual fat reserves for winter. He added that overfishing of local salmon has also led to the ursine hunger.

Wildlife

Alarm over decline in flying insects

Scientists have long suspected that insects are in dramatic decline, but new evidence confirms this. Research at more than 60 protected areas in Germany suggests flying insects have declined by more than 75% over almost 30 years. And the causes are unknown.

The study is based on measurements of the biomass of all insects trapped at 63 nature protection areas in Germany over 27 years since 1989. The data includes thousands of different insects, such as bees, butterflies and moths. Scientists say the dramatic decline was seen regardless of habitat, land use and the weather, leaving them at a loss to explain what was behind it. They stressed the importance of adopting measures known to be beneficial for insects, including strips of flowers around farmland and minimising the effects of intensive agriculture. And they said there was an urgent need to uncover the causes and extent of the decline in all airborne insects.

The loss of insects has far-reaching consequences for entire ecosystems. Insects provide a food source for many birds, amphibians, bats and reptiles, while plants rely on insects for pollination.

Wildlife

Australia Parrot being Massacred in Tasmania

Critically endangered Swift Parrots are under threat from squirrel-like sugar gliders in a battle for space in Australia’s ancient forests, scientists said Wednesday as they race to save the rare birds.

Swift Parrots are migratory and only breed in the southern island state of Tasmania. But the nomadic nectar-eating birds’ nesting grounds — gum trees — are also popular with sugar gliders, small possums believed to have been introduced to Tasmania in the early 19th century. The marsupials, which launch themselves from tree to tree and rarely descend to the ground, eat the nesting birds as well as their eggs and chicks, the Australian National University scientists said.

This year, both species are battling for real estate on Tasmania’s east coast due to abundant eucalypt flowering in the region, which contains some of the world’s oldest trees.

Swift Parrots usually arrive from the Australian mainland in August before flying back north in February and March after the breeding season, according to the Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service. There are no recent estimates of their population, but a 2011 assessment cited by the Australian government estimated there were only about 2,000 mature birds, with the population declining.

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Wildlife

Penguin catastrophe

A penguin colony in Antarctica has suffered a massive breeding failure, with only two chicks surviving the disaster.

Terre Adélie (Adélie Land) is home to more than 18,000 pairs of Adélie penguins, but this year almost all the seabirds’ babies starved to death. The World Wildlife Fund said unseasonably extensive amounts of sea ice around the colony in East Antarctica had forced the adult penguins to travel further than normal to forage for food. Dead penguin chicks were strewn across beaches in Adélie Land.

It is the second time in recent years that the colony has been badly hit during the breeding season; four years ago no chicks survived when rain followed by a sudden cold snap meant they became soaked and subsequently froze to death.