Taita Hills, Kenya, new natural history guidebook


This video is called Taita Hills, Kilimanjaro, Kenya.

From BirdLife:

Welcome to Taita Hills, Kenya – a guide is now available!

By Obaka Torto, Wed, 20/08/2014 – 11:15

A guide to Taita Hills’ unique natural history has just been released. This book, authored by Lawrence Wagura, a naturalist and fieldworker based at the National Museums of Kenya is the first published guide for this important site. In simple language, backed up by colourful pictures, Lawrence comprehensively describes the site: he includes, among other topics, its history, geography, value, indigenous culture, and various types of plants and animals found there.

A Guide to Taita Hills Unique Natural History book cover
A Guide to Taita Hills Unique Natural History book cover

The book is not only useful for visitors and researchers; Lawrence also intends to use it as a tool for educating the youth and other residents of the Taita Hills on the value of conserving the site.

“With support from teachers, I have already been giving talks in schools in the area and I often take students for educational trips to the forests. I will now distribute free copies of the book to the schools, and in future use them for my educational talks”, says Lawrence. “With the initial support I got, only 400 copies of the book were printed. Although a good start, these copies are not enough. Some of the copies will therefore be sold to those who can afford to pay and the proceeds used to print even more copies that can be freely distributed to schools and communities”, he adds. Lawrence hopes that the book will also encourage tourists who venture into the lower Tsavo plains and other areas to include a visit to the Taita Hills, thus bringing income to the communities.

Located in south-eastern Kenya, the Taita Hills forests form part of the Eastern Arc Mountains and are part of the Eastern Afromontane global biodiversity hotspot. The hills rise from the Tsavo plains at 600 to 2200 metres above sea level. They have patches of rain forest at the hill tops, which act as water towers feeding the lowlands. They also support 34 globally threatened species. They are therefore categorised as an Important Bird Area (IBA), a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) and an Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) site. They host over 200 bird species including the two rare, endemic and Critically Endangered birds: the Taita Apalis Apalis fuscigularis and Taita Thrush Turdus helleri.

Lawrence is excited about this initiative and thanks all who supported him in collecting information, editing the book and its printing. He is happy to see the fruits of over five years spent undertaking field observations in the Taita Hills. Printing of the initial copies of the books was supported by BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat and Nature Kenya (BirdLife Partner) as part of a project funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF).

Story by Mercy Kariuki – BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat

Hunch-backed dolphins off Bahrain


This video is called Chinese White Dolphin (Sousa chinensis chinensis).

In Bahrain, there is not only ugly torture and beautiful birds, but also beautiful dolphins.

From the Bahrain News Agency:

Hunch-backed dolphins sighted in territorial waters

01:52 PM – 31/08/2014

Manama, Aug. 31: The rare species of hunch-backed dolphins (sousa chinesis)

Sic: Sousa chinensis. In scientific names, the first, genus, name always begins with a capital. While the second, species, name does not. Many people make mistakes in this.

have recently been sighted off Sitra Island.

A female dolphin accompanied by a swarm of dolphins was seen attempting to resuscitate her dying youngster who eventually succumbed. Regional experts were consulted to verify the specifies

Sic: species

. According to a previous study conducted in 2006, there were 227 dolphins in Bahrain’s territorial waters during the study period which prefer to inhabit shallow island waters.

The Supreme Council of the Environment (SCE) urged fishermen, seafarers and captains of commercial vessels to take care upon sighting this rare species and other wildlife in order to ensure their safety and contribution in natural habitats and the boom and flourishing of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s maritime ecology. This rare species of dolphins is also known as the White Chinese Dolphin measuring 3.5 meters, weighing 250 kg. It had been sighted for the first time in Hong Kong waters in the fifteenth century. It is now listed as one of the endangered species.

The SCE urged the public to cooperate and to call the Hotline: 80001112 in order to report any damage to the environment which harms wildlife and fauna of all sorts.

The SCE has urged fishermen to comply with national regulations and to avoid incurring damage to marine mammals, dolphins and turtles.

Grizzly bear orphan returns to the wild in Canada


This video says about itself:

Grizzly Bear Encounters

Of all the species I have filmed in the wild I have to admit nothing can quite compare to the Grizzly! They are a powerful and majestic mammal that in one glance takes us back to the time of the last ice age when mega fauna roamed the earth. Like all bears, they are a curious and intelligent species. This footage was taken during the spring and these bears were busy looking for food after a long winter.

Close Grizzly bear encounters happen usually when people roam into the territory of the bear and as you’ll see in this film, sometimes people tend to get much closer then they should.

All grizzlies are technically called “Brown Bears” and they are omnivores like their Black Bear cousins. Unlike the Black Bear, a Grizzly female will protect her young very aggressively instead of sitting by while the cubs climb a tree as a Black bear would. In fact they will even stand up to a larger male grizzly if that’s what it takes to protect her cubs. If you ever do run across the cubs in the wild keep your distance, mama bear is sure to be close by and she wont appreciate the company. Please remember that these beautiful bears need clean and healthy habitat to continue to allow us to have amazing Grizzly Bear Encounters!

I’m Mark Fraser and to read up on future wildlife adventures and how you can protect help wildlife habitat, visit my web page.

From Wildlife Extra:

Grizzly orphan returns to the wild in British Columbia

A one-year-old orphan grizzly cub, called Littlefoot, has been released back into the wild near Cranbrook in British Columbia, after being found in the spring severely underweight. It is believed he was orphaned last autumn.

During this time he has been cared for by the Northern Lights Wildlife Society (NLWS) and gone from a scrawny 12.7kg to a far more respectable 48kg.

Lightfoot is part of a project, run by International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Northern Lights Wildlife Society, and the British Columbia Ministries of Environment, and Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, that monitors whether orphaned grizzlies can survive when released back in the wild.

Lightfoot is the sixth release since the pilot project began in 2008, and is the first one-year-old that NLWS has prepared for release. He has been fitted with a satellite collar and will be monitored for the next 18 months.

“When he came in, Littlefoot was older than most of the bears we receive for care,” said Angelika Langen of NLWS. “Because he had lost his mother last fall and hibernated by himself, he was in bad condition.

“Thankfully, the Ministry of the Environment allowed this bear into our care for a limited time period to give him a chance to gain weight so he could look after himself.

“We’ve picked a great release site for him away from people with a good berry crop out there, and I think he has a good chance of survival.”

“We were thrilled to see the approval for a yearling cub to enter the rehabilitation process,” said Kelly Donithan, Animal Rescue Officer at IFAW. “Our wildlife rescue and rehabilitation pilot projects around the world have been providing evidence that animals can be rehabilitated from a young age and, upon release, not only survive but thrive in their natural habitat.

“We are excited to see how Littlefoot navigates his new lease on life and becomes a fully functioning wild bear.”

Spotted skunks in North America, dancing and stinking


This video, recorded in North America, says about itself:

Enter the amazing world of the spotted skunk with this brilliant clip from BBC wildlife show ‘Weird Nature‘. A chance to see skunk defences at first hand, this short video includes images of a spotted skunk performing foot stomping, hand stands, and predatory spraying to ward off potential attackers.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

The Spotted Skunk Is One Talented, But Smelly Acrobat

Posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 by eNature

The skunk that most of us in the U.S. know best, the Striped skunk, is just an entry-level stinker.

Its cousin, the Spotted skunk, possesses an even more potent musk. And the Spotted skunk is also the better entertainer.

A Seldom Seen Skunk

The smallest skunks found in North America, Spotted skunks are sleek, fast, and skilled climbers. They’re highly nocturnal, too, which means that few of us ever see them.

One of the two sub-species, Western Spotted or Eastern Spotted skunk, can be found in most of the continental U.S. There’s very little difference between two sub-species, although the Eastern tends to be slightly larger than the Western.

These skunks’ nocturnal nature means that while we’re spared their malodorous weapon, we’re deprived their acrobatic performances. These start when the spotted skunk feels itself threatened.

Fancy Dancers

First, the animal rapidly stomps the ground with its forefeet. Next, quite remarkably, it rises up on its front legs and performs one or more handstands. And if the threat persists, the skunk will drop back onto all fours, curve its body so that both front and back ends face the interloper, and deliver a blast of skunk musk up to 16 feet away.

The video above, from the BBC show Weird Nature, shows the Spotted skunk performing its distinctive dance, although it’s in an unusual setting. Researchers speculate that this performance (which they refer to as a demonstration) has evolved as a warning to predators and other animals. Once a would-be predator has seen it and then been sprayed, the thinking is that subsequent demonstrations act as warnings and discourage further attempts at predation.

It all sounds quite entertaining, as long as you’re not on the receiving end!

What To Do If The Unfortunate Happens?

The malodorous oil that skunks spray is produced by glands around the anus. The secretion of Spotted skunks differs from that of Striped skunks— and can actually smell stronger if water is used to remove it. One of the most effective ways to remove the oil’s unpleasant smell is to oxidize the active elements in it with baking soda or hydrogen peroxide when bathing humans or pets.

Have you encountered a Spotted Skunk, or even a Striped one? We’ve heard many good skunk stories over the years and would enjoy hearing yours.

Humpback whales, what do they eat?


This video from California in the USA is called Surfer Almost Swallowed by Whale.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

What Does A Humpback Whale Really Eat For Dinner?

Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2014 by eNature

Despite the title of the video above, Humpbacks don’t eat surfers!

Eves so, that video has received lots of attention around the internet when it appeared— and for good reason.

It shows a surfer’s VERY close encounter with a humpback whale off the beaches of Santa Cruz, in Northern California.

But it’s also interesting because it’s a great close-up view of how a Humpback feeds and the sort of marine life that makes up its diet.

How To Eat Without Teeth?

Humpbacks are baleen whales and have no teeth. They feed by using the large plates of baleen in their mouths to filter out shrimp-like krill and other small creatures from the water. Plated grooves in the whale’s mouth allow water that was taken in to easily drain, leaving a mouth full of dinner.

But most folks don’t realize that baleen whales such has humpbacks also consume fish— mainly small schooling fish they hunt in same fashion as krill.

In the video you can clearly see lots of small prey fish scattering in all directions just before and as the whale breaches. (Double click on the video if you want to see a bigger version of it). You an also see the whale’s baleen plates and the water rushing from its mouth as it filters out its prey.

Blowing Bubbles For Dinner

Humpbacks are energetic hunters, taking krill and small schooling fish such as herring, mackerel, pollock, and haddock. They’re also quite clever and have been known to use a technique called bubble net feeding.

A whale or group of whales swims in a shrinking circle blowing bubbles below a school of prey, encircling and confining the school in an ever-smaller cylinder. The whales then suddenly swim upward through the ‘net’ with their mouths open, filtering huge quantities of water and capturing thousands of fish in one gulp.

It’s a pretty amazing thing to observe…

And one other fun thing to note in the video is all the seabirds following the whales as they feed. These birds know that breaching whales panic fish and make them easy pickings for an alert bird. Looking for flocks of seabirds working the ocean’s surface is time-honored way for fisherman to locate schools— and for whale watchers to find whales.

Have you had a chance to see Humpbacks or other whales? We always love to hear your stories.

Fallow deer alpha male, video


This video is about an alpha male fallow deer which does not want two younger males to come too close.

E. Neuteboom made the video in the Amsterdamse Waterleiding Duinen in the Netherlands.

Red fox marks its territory, video


This is a video about a red fox marking its territory with smell signals in Meijendel nature reserve in the Netherlands.

Lammert Heine made the video.