Good tiger, rhino, elephant news from Nepal


This video says about itself:

Wildlife encounters on safari in Nepal at the … Bardia National Park. Wild elephants, one-horned rhinoceros, and amazing encounters and charges by the Royal Bengal Tiger.

From Wildlife Extra:

Nepal celebrates zero poaching year

March 2014: Celebrations are running high in Nepal because for the second time in recent years it has achieved a major milestone in conservation, a zero poaching of tigers, rhinos and elephants for the period February 2013-February 2014. (The last time was in 2011).

At a time when tigers and rhinos are being rampantly poached around the world, this success it is a great reward for the country’s work and commitment to combating wildlife crime, and resounds hope for wildlife.

“The success of achieving zero poaching throughout the year is a huge achievement and a result of prioritising a national need to curb wildlife crimes in the country,” says Megh Bahadur Pandey, Director General of Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. “A national level commitment is key to encouraging complementing efforts, right down to the grassroots level, in order to address this biggest threat to wildlife not just in Nepal but across the world.”

It is due to strengthened protection and enforcement efforts across the country, led by the government and supported by its conservation partners such as WWF and the National Trust for Nature Conservation. The newly developed Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and the establishment of its 16 district cells together with the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police has also helped create the needed balance between central and local level enforcement to curb wildlife crimes.

“It is a matter of great pride to mark the first World Wildlife Day with the announcement of a year of zero poaching in Nepal,” says Anil Manandhar, Country Representative of WWF Nepal. “We are committed to work with the government, conservation partners and the local communities to redouble efforts to sustain this success.”

“We congratulate Nepal on reducing poaching to zero within its borders,” says Yolanda Kakabadse, President of WWF International. “This achievement serves as a model for WWF’s goal for drastically reducing wildlife crime worldwide – with a combination of brave policy making, determined implementation and robust enforcement.”

To read Sue Watt’s trip report to Bardia National Park in Nepal when she went on the trail of the elusive Bengal tiger please click here.

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Elephants comfort distressed herd mates


This video is called Asian Elephants Console The Distressed.

From Wildlife Extra:

Asian elephants reassure each other when distressed

February 2014: Asian elephants console others who are in distress, using physical touches and vocalizations just like humans, say scientists.

The findings are the first empirical evidence of consolation in elephants, “For centuries, people have observed that elephants seem to be highly intelligent and empathic animals, but as scientists we need to actually test it,” says lead author Joshua Plotnik of Emory University.

A group of 26 captive Asian [elephants] at an elephant camp in northern Thailand were observed for nearly a year by the researchers, who recorded stress incidences of individuals and the responses from other nearby elephants.

“With their strong social bonds, it’s not surprising that elephants show concern for others,” says co-author Frans de Waal, an Emory professor of psychology and director of Living Links at Emory’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center. “This study demonstrates that elephants get distressed when they see others in distress, reaching out to calm them down, not unlike the way chimpanzees or humans embrace someone who is upset.”

The study found that nearby elephants would then comfort the distressed individual through directed, physical contact which often included using their trunk to gently touch the distressed elephant’s face, or put its trunk in the other animal’s mouth, in a move a bit like a handshake or hug.

Plotnik says. “It’s a very vulnerable position to put yourself in, because you could get bitten. It may be sending a signal of, ‘I’m here to help you, not hurt you.’”

In addition, elephants frequently responded to the distress signals of other elephants by adopting a similar body or emotional state, a phenomenon known as “emotional contagion,” which may be related to empathy. Groups of nearby elephants also were more likely to bunch together, or make physical contact with each other.

The current elephant study’s limitations include the fact that it was restricted to captive animals. “This study is a first step,” Plotnik says. “I would like to see this consolation capacity demonstrated in wild populations as well.”

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Tanzania’s whales and elephants


This video is called Tanzania – An African Wildlife Utopia.

From Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam):

Animals Who Own the Sea

By Reginald Stanislaus Matillya, 8 February 2014

BETWEEN October and November Saadani National Park provides visitors a golden chance of seeing different species of Whales on the way to Jozani Forest National park in Zanzibar.

This feature gives Saadani National Park a special taste of watching the two largest animals in the World – Elephants and Whales. With a body measuring up to 30 metres or 98 ft in length and weighing more than 200 tonnes the Blue Whale is the largest animal on Earth because one full grown male is equal to forty full grown male African Bush Elephants who weigh 5 tonnes each.

The two giants come from one big kingdom of animals, a phylum of Chordata and class of mammals which include air breathing vertebrate animals who possess mammary glands which produce milk to feed their offspring.

Female Blue Whale gives birth to a single or twin calves after a gestation period of about a year weighing three tonnes like a full grown female African Bush Elephant who approximately weighs 3 tonnes.

The African Bush Elephant which is regarded as the largest land animal gives birth to an offspring weighing about 100 kilogrammes after the longest gestation period among mammals of 22 months.

Both calves of Blue Whale and Elephant starts their life by suckling nutritious milk from their mother as the baby elephant spend five months while baby Blue Whale takes a full year suckling their mother’s milk only.

During the first seven months of its life, a baby Blue Whale drinks approximately 400 litres of milk every day while and Elephant can hardly manage to drink 15 litres of milk reach in fat and protein.

Whale’s milk is more nutritious than one from an Elephant because fifty per cent of its content is made of fat, thirty- five protein and fifteen other important nutrients. This enables a young Blue Whale to add 90 kilogrammes after every 24 hours so by the time they are weaned within six months of age they are about 52 feet long and weighing about 23 tonnes.

At the beginning of winter in northern hemisphere pregnant female Blue Whales will migrate into Tropical area and swim to shallow warm water of the Indian Ocean to give birth.

While in the labour clinic located some few miles from the city of Dar es Salaam in the middle of Indian Ocean, the mother will allow the baby to come out from her womb by the tail first then the whole body.

After giving birth the mother will assist her new born to swim into a safe area with her flippers after 30 minutes although a baby Blue is capable to swim within ten minutes of their birth.

Blue Whales reach sexual maturity when they are ten years old although it is believed that male get matured later than female.

Blue Whales start mating in late autumn on September and continue until the coming of winter in December in Northern Hemisphere. Before mating a Blue Whale will sing a special song in series of pulses, groans, and moans to attract a sexual partner who may be up to 1,000 miles or 1,600 kilometres away and hear the call.

Among Elephant society there is no special period for mating so it can take place any time of the year.

When a female feel like having an intercourse she makes a special louder voice to alert all male in that area who may be a kilometre away.

The call will attract bulls who will come and engage in a fight until a victor is obtained and accepted by a female by rubbing her body against him then the two will separate from the group to mate in a conducive situation.

The Blue Whale has a gigantic body equivalent in size with a space shuttle orbiter or NBA basketball’s court but longer than it.

Their bodies are too heavy beyond comparison with a body of any single living thing in the entire world because weighing 200 tonnes you may compare them with eight DC 9 airplanes or fifteen big buses which ply between Arusha and Dar es Salaam.

Although they have those massive bodies Blue Whales are good swimmers because they can reach a top speed of 48.5 kilometres per hour in a bust but usually they cruise at a speed of 19.5 kilometres per hour.

Sleeping is an elusive phenomena to these two giants on Earth because in middle of the Sea to avoid drowning Blue Whales do not sleep totally instead, they rest part of their brain and leave one eye opened while swimming slowly because if they go down to the floor they can not breath, eventually they will die.

Elephants are not good sleepers but when they feel that they need to rest, it will be done for a maximum of four hours involving short naps of thirty minutes with long intervals of foraging, standing and walking and repeat the cycle until they reach four hours of sleeping in a day.

Elephants sleep directly on the ground, they lie down on the ground and sleep on their sides and since they get up a lot they often switch sides.

The main reason of this is that their big bodies make it uncomfortable to sleep like other animal in the wild because when they lie down to get some rest they put all their weight on their bones.

Blue Whales use their giant mouth with a tongue large like an Elephant to take in 5,000 litres of water some of which is forced out through two blowholes on top of the head in a spay going as high as a three storey building.

Elephants are herbivorous who eat 450 kilogrammes of vegetation per day while Blue Whale is carnivorous capable of eating 4 tons of Krill which are small Shrimplike animals in a day.

Elephants are intelligent animals who possess a smart brain weighing 5 kilogrammes compared with a 200 tonnes Blue Whale with a brain weighing only 10 kilogrammes.

The brain of an Elephant is similar to that of human being in terms of structure and complexity. The smart brain gives elephants ability to use their trunk properly and to recognise and respect remains of their loved ones. It is said they moan the death of their kind like humans and take care of a baby elephant when its mother dies.

Elephant has no real enemy in the wild but people who hunt and kill them for ivories. This also applies to Blue Whale hunted and killed by people for meat and oil.

Unlike the African Elephants, in the deep sea Blue Whales face predators who attack like African wild dogs.

A lonely Blue Whale in the deep sea may fall victim to Killer Whales who hunt in deadly parks called pods consisting of about forty or more individuals.

Pods use effective, cooperative hunting techniques like those we see from wild dogs whereby they chase and kill their victim without suffocation.

They feast on marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, and even Blue whales by applying their sharp ten centimetres teeth on the flesh of their victims. It has been proved that Killer Whales are cannibals who sometime attack, kill and eat each other especially their weak fellows.

Killer Whales make a wide variety of communicative sounds and each pod has distinctive noises that its members will recognise even at a distance.

Male Killer whales typically range from 6 to 8 metres or 20 to 26 ft long and weigh 6 tonnes like a full grown African Bush Elephant in the wild.

Females are smaller, generally ranging from 5 to 7 metres or 16 to 23 ft and weighing about 3 to 4 tones.

The killer whale’s large size and strength make it among the fastest marine mammals capable of reaching a top speed of 56 kilometres per hour.

Killer whales have good eyesight above and below the water, excellent hearing, and a good sense of touch.

They have exceptionally sophisticated echolocation mechanism which enables them to detect the location and characteristics of a prey and other objects in their environments by emitting clicks and listening for echoes.

Males sexually mature at the age of 15, but do not typically reproduce until age 21 while female mature at around age 15 and bear a single offspring after a gestation period of 15 to 18 months.

Female stop breading at the age of 40 while their lifespan is 50 years and maximum age is 90 years. Males live around 29 years on average and have a maximum age of 50 to 60 years. Killer Whales are present in all sea and oceans of the World including the Indian Ocean where they are frequently seen in an area between Tanzania and Seychelles.

Both Blue Whales and Killer Whales perform a spectacular show called Breaching which involve jumping out of water into the air and slamming their bodies into the water again. Tourists follow Whales in the sea to watch these attractive games.

It is possible to see Whales in Tanzania which borders with the Indian Ocean where Mnazi Bay Marine Park, Mafia Marine Park, Maziwi Island Marine Reserve, Chumbe Marine Park, Mnembe Marine Park, Misali Marine Park, Menei Marine Park, and Saadani National Park are located.

The coastal line of Tanzania starts north on the border with Kenya and stretch about 1,424 kilometres southward to the border with Mozambique.

The country has Maritime claims of territorial sea for 12 nautical miles and an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles where the big sea mammals dwell.

The best position to watch whales may be in Zanzibar, Mafia and Mtwara.

Both The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), World Conservation Monitoring Centre and Convention on International Trade in Endangered

Species (CITES) have listed Blue Whale, Killer Whale and The African Elephant in the endangered species which need special protection.

Whales may have a previously unknown appetite for eels: here.

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Mammoths extinct because of lack of flowers?


This video is called Woolly Mammoth: Secrets From Ice – Documentary.

From Reuters news agency:

Disappearance of wildflowers may have doomed Ice Age giants

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON Wed Feb 5, 2014 6:20pm EST

Flower power may have meant the difference between life and death for some of the extinct giants of the Ice Age, including the mighty woolly mammoth and woolly rhinoceros.

Scientists who studied DNA preserved in Arctic permafrost sediments and in the remains of such ancient animals have concluded that these Ice Age beasts relied heavily on the protein-rich wildflowers that once blanketed the region.

But dramatic Ice Age climate change caused a huge decline in these plants, leaving the Arctic covered instead in grasses and shrubs that lacked the same nutritional value and could not sustain the big herbivorous mammals, the scientists reported in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

The change in vegetation began roughly 25,000 years ago and ended about 10,000 years ago – a time when many of the big animals slipped into extinction, the researchers said.

Scientists for years have been trying to figure out what caused this mass extinction, when two-thirds of all the large-bodied mammals in the Northern Hemisphere died out.

“Now we have, from my perspective at least, a very credible explanation,” Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen, an expert in ancient DNA who led an international team of researchers, said in a telephone interview.

The findings contradicted the notion that humans arriving in these regions during the Ice Age caused the mass extinction by hunting the big animals into oblivion – the so-called overkill or Blitzkrieg hypothesis.

“We think that the major driver (of the mass extinction) is not the humans,” Willerslev said, although he did not rule out that human hunters may have delivered the coup de grace to some species already diminished by the dwindling food supplies.

The Arctic region once teemed with herds of big animals, in some ways resembling an African savanna. Large plant eaters included woolly mammoths, woolly rhinos, horses, bison, reindeer and camels, with predators including hyenas, saber-toothed cats, lions and huge short-faced bears.

The scientists carried out a 50,000-year history of the vegetation across the Arctic in Siberia and North America.

They obtained 242 permafrost sediment samples from various Arctic sites and studied the feces and stomach contents from the mummified remains of Ice Age animals recovered in places like Siberia. They determined the age of the samples and analyzed the DNA.

While many scientists had thought the ecosystem had been grasslands and the big animals were grass eaters, this study showed it instead was dominated by a kind of plant known as forbs – essentially wildflowers.

“The whole Arctic ecosystem looked extremely different from today. You can imagine these enormous steppes with no trees, no shrubs, but dominated by these small flowering plants,” Willerslev said.

Christian Brochmann, a botanist at the Natural History Museum at the University of Oslo, said the permafrost contained “a vast, frozen DNA archive left as footprints from past ecosystems,” that could be deciphered by exploring animal and plant collections already stored in museums.

(Reporting by Will Dunham, editing by G Crosse)

Did flowers take out the woolly mammoth? Here.

From Russia with love: baby mammoth on way to London Museum: here.

Woolly Mammoths’ Birth Defects May Have Contributed To Animals’ Extinction: here.

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Eritrean elephant mystery in ancient Gaza battle solved


This video is called The Elephant Documentary.

From LiveScience:

Elephant Mystery at Ancient Syrian Battle Solved

By Tia Ghose, Staff Writer

January 21, 2014 08:01am ET

The mystery of an ancient battle between two warring troops of elephants has been solved, thanks to a modern genetic analysis of the lumbering beasts.

Researchers have now found that Eritrean elephants, which live in the northeastern portion of Africa, are savanna elephants, and are not related to the more diminutive forest elephants that live in the jungles of central Africa.

That, in turn, discounts an ancient Greek account of how a battle between two warring empires played out, with one side’s elephants refusing to fight and running away, the scientists report in the January issue of the Journal of Heredity. [10 Epic Battles That Changed the Course of History]

Ancient battle

In the third century B.C., the Greek historian Polybius described the epic Battle of Raphia, which took place around 217 B.C. in what is now the Gaza Strip, as part of the Syrian Wars. During these wars, Seleucid ruler Antiochus III the Great fought against  Ptolemy IV Philopator, the fourth ruler of the Ptolemaic Dynasty in Egypt, whose last leader was Cleopatra. The matchup included tens of thousands of troops, thousands of cavalry and dozens of war elephants on each side.

The elephants were the “ace in the hole,” able to trample the enemy and sow terror with their massive size.

“Elephants were considered the tanks of the time, until eventually the Romans figured out how to defeat war elephants,” in later times, said study co-author Alfred Roca, an animal scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Antiochus had easy access to Asian elephants from India, but Ptolemy didn’t. Instead, he set up outposts in what is now modern-day Eritrea to get African elephants.

Unfortunately, that strategy didn’t work out so well: According to Polybius’ account, the African elephants turned tail and ran when they saw how gigantic the Asian elephants were. Ptolemy, however, was able to recover due to missteps by Antiochus and eventually won the battle.

African elephants

In reality, Asian elephants are smaller than African elephants, so some historians speculated that perhaps the Ptolemies were using African forest elephants, which tend to be smaller, Roca said.

So Roca and his colleagues conducted a thorough genetic analysis of the elephants found in Eritrea, the descendants of the losers in the ancient battle.

“We showed using pretty much every genetic marker, that they were savanna elephants,” Roca told LiveScience. “This was contrary to some speculation that there may be forest elephants present in that part of the world.”

Ancient myths

The findings suggest that Polybius had it wrong, and the African elephants got spooked for some other reason than the overpowering size of the Asian elephants.

In other ancient documents, “There were these ancient semi-mythical accounts of India, and they claimed that India had the biggest elephants in the world,” Roca said.

Polybius, who wasn’t actually at the battle, likely read those accounts and surmised the Asian elephants’ bigger size caused their opponents to panic.

In fact, until about the 1700s, when scientists actually measured the two, most people still thought Asian elephants were the larger species, Roca said. (And even now, games such as Age of Empires that recreate the Battle of Raphia depict the Ptolemaic elephants as smaller.)

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Good African elephant news


This video says about itself:

The Elephant Documentary

24 July 2013

Elephants are large mammals of the family Elephantidae and the order Proboscidea. Traditionally, two species are recognised, the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), although some evidence suggests that African bush elephants and African forest elephants are separate species (L. africana and L. cyclotis respectively). Elephants are scattered throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. They are the only surviving proboscideans; extinct species include mammoths and mastodons. The largest living terrestrial animals, male African elephants can reach a height of 4 m (13 ft) and weigh 7,000 kg (15,000 lb). These animals have several distinctive features, including a long proboscis or trunk used for many purposes, particularly for grasping objects. Their incisors grow into tusks, which serve as tools for moving objects and digging and as weapons for fighting. The elephant’s large ear flaps help to control the temperature of its body. African elephants have larger ears and concave backs while Asian elephants have smaller ears and convex or level backs.

Elephants are herbivorous and can be found in different habitats including savannahs, forests, deserts and marshes. They prefer to stay near water. They are considered to be keystone species due to their impact on their environments. Other animals tend to keep their distance, and predators such as lions, tigers, hyenas and wild dogs usually target only the young elephants (or “calves”).

Females (“cows”) tend to live in family groups, which can consist of one female with her calves or several related females with offspring. The latter are led by the oldest cow, known as the matriarch. Elephants have a fission-fusion society in which multiple family groups come together to socialise. Males (“bulls”) leave their family groups when they reach puberty, and may live alone or with other males. Adult bulls mostly interact with family groups when looking for a mate and enter a state of increased testosterone and aggression known as musth, which helps them gain dominance and reproductive success. Calves are the centre of attention in their family groups and rely on their mothers for as long as three years. Elephants can live up to 70 years in the wild. They communicate by touch, sight, and sound; elephants use infrasound, and seismic communication over long distances. Elephant intelligence has been compared with that of primates and cetaceans. They appear to have self-awareness and show empathy for dying or dead individuals of their kind.

African elephants are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), while the Asian elephant is classed as endangered. One of the biggest threats to elephant populations is the ivory trade, as the animals are poached for their ivory tusks. Other threats to wild elephants include habitat destruction and conflicts with local people. Elephants are used as working animals in Asia. In the past they were used in war; today, they are often put on display in zoos and circuses. Elephants are highly recognisable and have been featured in art, folklore, religion, literature and popular culture.

From Wildlife Extra:

Elephant births at Zakouma National Park in Chad represent a big win against the poachers

January 2014: The birth of 21 elephant calves at Zakouma National Park in the Republic of Chad, one of the last strongholds for migratory herds of savannah elephants in the central African region, has been welcomed as a turnaround in the fortunes of the park’s beleaguered elephant herds.

Poaching had reduced the Park’s elephant population from 4,000 to 450 between 2006 and 2010, leaving the traumatised herd too stressed to breed. Although African Parks stabilised the population after it took over the management of Zakouma in 2010, only five calves were born between 2010 and 2013.

Rian Labuschagne, Zakouma’s Park Manager, said that a lion study they carried out around 2005 found that elephant calves made up 23 per cent of the big cats’ diet at that time. “It was a direct result of the then rampant poaching that left substantial numbers of calves orphaned and easy prey for the lions,” he said.

The flush of elephant calves sighted by Labuschagne and his team shortly before Christmas now changes the status of Zakouma’s elephant population from “stable” to a “definite increase in numbers” and is testimony to the success of the intensive anti-poaching strategy implemented from late 2010 by African Parks, a non-profit organisation that takes on total responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities.

Anti-poaching measures have included the year-round deployment of patrols and specialised anti-poaching technology in the extended elephant range, aerial support for patrols, the fitting of satellite collars to individual elephants and establishing a park-wide radio communication system. They have also implemented increased intelligence-gathering and a reward system for information. As a result, there has been no poaching of elephants in Zakouma for more than two years.

Labuschagne concluded: “We are thrilled that Zakouma’s elephant numbers are now growing but are mindful of the continual challenges that we face. At the moment we are implementing major new anti-poaching initiatives to combat ongoing threats that now include the deteriorating situation in the Central African Republic to the south of us.”

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Good Indian elephant news


This video from India says about itself:

Gajraj, A story of the Asian Elephant

26 March 2012

The largest of land mammals GAJRAJ, as the elephant is popularly known in India, is inseparably woven with the culture, history & tradition and symbolizes strength, prosperity and wisdom.

This film shot in the idyllic surrounding of the Jim Corbett National Park, typical elephant country, takes viewers through the elephant’s natural history- from its evolution 55 million years ago to its present distribution and depicts its physiology & ecology and also talks of history, of gestation & mortality, of domestication & conservation and about poaching for ivory.

From Wildlife Extra:

Indian elephant corridor restored in Meghalaya state

Indian elephants will benefit from a new wildlife corridor

Indian elephants are one step closer to being able to travel freely from the Emangre Reserve Forest to the Rewak Reserve Forest in Meghalaya state. These forests in the south Garo Hills are home to more than 1,000 elephants, and protecting them and allowing them to move freely across the region has become increasingly important in recent years. The principal occupation of the area is agriculture and elephants are troublesome visitors to the Garo villages as they raid crops and cause damage to fencing and other infrastructure. The villagers have to mount 24-hour guards and can retaliate with firecrackers to scare the elephants.

Over past few years Meghalaya has been creating what are called ‘elephant corridors’, which help to keep the animals away from the villages, and allow them to live natural lives, interacting with other elephants in other forests and reserves.

Currently there is a corridor between Siju Wildlife Sanctuary and Rewak Reserve Forest. The new corridor will increase the elephants’ range and will eventually connect with a network stretching across the country.

An elephant corridor is roughly defined as a stretch of forested (or otherwise) land that is protected from expansion of human settlements, cultivation and mining, and that links larger habitats and forms a conduit for animal movement between them. The Meghalayan corridors will eventually help enhance species survival and birth rate.

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Baby elephant video from Indonesia


This video from Indonesia says about itself:

Baby elephant learns to use her trunk

20 Dec 2013

This adorable baby elephant was born to a mother who is part of an elite team of critically endangered Sumatran elephants that help protect communities from conflict with wild elephants in Indonesia.

She’s nearly 4 months old, growing fast and starting to imitate her mother’s behaviour. Here it looks like she’s getting to grips with using her trunk!

Read more about the fantastic work of WWF-Indonesia’s elephant Flying Squad and the newest addition here.