Stolen endangered iguanas are back in the Bahamas


This video is called Seacology: Protecting the Iguanas of San Salvador, Bahamas.

From Wildlife Extra:

Smuggled endangered iguanas fly back to the Bahamas

Twelve critically endangered San Salvador rock iguanas seized from smugglers at London’s Heathrow Airport have been returned home to the Bahamas.

The reptiles were discovered stuffed inside socks in the baggage of Romanian nationals Angla-Alina Bita, and Vitora-Oliva Bucsa by staff carrying out customs checks.

Following the seizure, officers from Border Force’s specialist CITES team worked with the Bahamas High Commission in London to arrange their return to their native islands.

They have been transported to a government research station on the island of San Salvador where they will be monitored by experts, with the eventual aim of retuning them to the wild.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), said: “We are pleased that the criminals involved have been brought to justice and that these critically endangered animals have been returned home to live out their lives in their natural habitat. Wildlife belongs in the wild.”

Skinks in North America


This video from the USA says about itself:

Four-Lined Skink Found In Bush Alongside Brownsville Texas

11 February 2014

Plestiodon tetragrammus. The four-lined skink is a species of lizard, which is endemic to North America. It feeds on insects and spiders. It is a medium-sized member of the Plestiodon skinks. It ranges through Central and southern Texas, south into Mexico, north to south-central Arizona and extreme southwestern New Mexico.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

Blue Streak Special— Ever See A Skink?

Thursday, July 10, 2014 by eNature

There’s a rustling in the leaves. You look to see what made the sound, and bam—a blue streak vanishes into the duff. Was it a snake? A lizard? Was that intense cobalt color even real?

Yes, it was real. The creature responsible for the streak was a lizard called a skink. Now’s the time when the newborns hatch, and the intense blue tails of the juveniles are as bright as neon signs.

There are fifteen species of skinks in North America, a small percentage of the 1,200-plus species found worldwide (it’s the largest family of lizards). Most species keep their blue tails for the first two years of life; the tails of adults fade to gray or brown. As for why the young skink needs such a gaudy appendage, the standard textbook answer is that predators like birds and mammals will grab first at the bright tail. Because the tail easily detaches, the lizard escapes—tailless, yes, but at least still alive.

If this strategy is so advantageous, though, why don’t adult skinks have blue tails? One possible explanation is that young skinks tend to spend more time above ground where they’re subject to more predators. When they become adults, skinks establish territories inside rotting logs or under rocks and spend little time moving from place to place. (To tell the difference between a mature male and a mature female, look for the orange highlights on the male’s head.)

Mating takes place in the spring. Then, in late spring, the adult females retreat to burrows or other sheltered recesses, often deep in the ground, where they lay eggs and remain with them until hatching. A female may keep its eggs moist by licking them or otherwise moistening them or it may simply guard the clutch of two to six eggs. When the eggs hatch, adult females and their brightly colored newborns come to the surface to feed on insects and spiders for the summer. The first chill of autumn sends them underground, where they wait until the first warm days of spring beckon them back to the surface.

Have you come across skinks or other colorful amphibians? We always enjoy your stories!

Skinks are not amphibians, of course, but reptiles.

Lizards in the Netherlands, video


There are four lizard species in the Netherlands: sand lizard, common lizard, wall lizard and slow worm.

All four of them are in this video.

English Merseyside sand lizards get help


This video is called Hundreds of rare [sand] lizards released in the UK.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rare Merseyside lizards get a helping hand with egg laying

North Merseyside Amphibian and Reptile Group (NMARG) is celebrating the successful creation of egg-laying sites especially for the Merseyside sand lizard, a unique form of this rare and strictly protected species which has very specific egg-laying requirements.

Volunteers from the Amphibian and Reptile Group network have been spearheading emergency habitat restoration for the sand lizard on the Sefton Coast over the winter months.

They have created over 150 sand patches among the dunes of the Sefton Coast for the animals.

Now they can report that initial indications are that the sand lizards have adopted these egg-laying sites.

At one location where the species had formerly been in decline, NMARG found 11 female lizards, many investigating the newly managed sand patches where they will soon lay eggs.

Mike Brown, Chairman of NMARG said: “This clearly shows that habitat and species monitoring, combined with targeted habitat management, can have positive results in a very short space of time.”

With funding from the British Herpetological Society and ARG UK, volunteers from several ARG groups linked forces with conservation professionals from The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust and Sefton Council to remove vegetation shading the sand lizard habitat.

Monitoring of both site habitat condition and the species, carried out by NMARG, has allowed prioritisation of management activities, and the work goes on.

“In spite of the success of the habitat management work, there is a great deal more to do, especially tree and scrub removal and sand patch creation, to ensure the local sand lizard survives and increases in numbers,” said Brown.

For more information, and to find out how you can help, visit www.arc-trust.org.

Costa Rican doves and common basilisk


White-winged dove, 25 March 2014

Still 25 March 2014 in Costa Rica. After the Tarcoles river, the land near that river again. Including this white-winged dove.

Near our room: a rufous-tailed hummingbird visiting a flower.

Also, a scaly-breasted hummingbird.

Great kiskadee nest, 25 March 2014

Near the swimming pool, great kiskadees have built a big nest on a pole, with at least one youngster inside.

Great kiskadee nest, parent feeding, 25 March 2014

The parents come often to feed.

Hoffmann's woodpecker, 25 March 2014

A male Hoffmann’s woodpecker on a tree.

On the other side of the river, a white ibis.

Inca doves, 25 March 2014

Inca doves.

Common basilisk, 25 March 2014

A common basilisk.

A rufous-naped wren.

Muscovy duck, 25 March 2014

A muscovy duck swimming in the river. Then, standing on the bank, cleaning its feathers. Wild muscovy ducks have a reputation of being shy; so, this is probably a domestic individual.

Buff-rumped warbler, 25 March 2014

A bit higher up the river, along the bank: a buff-rumped warbler. Certainly not a domestic animal, but a wild bird, living from Honduras in the north to Bolivia in the south.

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Common lizard with tick problem, video


This video is about a common lizard in the Netherlands; with a tick just behind its front leg.

Christ Grootzwagers made the video.

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Saving New Zealand skinks


This video from New Zealand is about Otago skinks.

From Wildlife Extra:

Endangered skinks collected in NZ for breeding

Eighty-five endangered grand and Otago skinks have been collected near Wanaka in New Zealand as part of a as part of a breed-for-release programme

Ongoing decline in western grand and Otago skink populations has prompted the Department of Conservation (DOC) and several other agencies to collect the skinks from their Grandview Range habitat in the Lindis. The skinks will be housed temporarily at zoos, wild life parks and eco-sanctuaries throughout New Zealand, as part of a breed-for-release programme.

“This programme aims to increase numbers of both species so they can be released back into secure sites within their former range,” Grand and Otago Skink Project Manager Gavin Udy said. “It is a great example of conservation agencies and individuals working together to ensure the ongoing survival of an iconic, unique and endangered New Zealand species,”

Grand and Otago skinks are two of New Zealand’s most distinctive and impressive lizards. Known as giant skinks, they are the country’s largest lizards, with Otago skinks growing up to 300mm in length and grand skinks 230mm.

These omnivorous lizards are diurnal, and don’t hibernate. They can live for up to 20 years in the wild, and give birth to live young – two or three a year. Both species are unique to Otago and are two of New Zealand’s rarest reptiles. They are now found in only eight percent of their former range and have the highest possible threat status, ‘Nationally Critically Endangered‘.

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Sunbitterns, tiger heron in Costa Rica


Montezuma's oropendola nesting colony, 17 March 2014

Still 17 March 2014 near the Sarapiqui river in Costa Rica. Not only frogs and spiders there; but, of course, also birds. Like this Montezuma’s oropendola nesting colony.

Montezuma's oropendola male at nesting colony, 17 March 2014

Some oropendola males do their mating season gymnastics performances, while singing their songs.

Montezuma's oropendola male, at nesting colony, 17 March 2014

And a female white-necked jacobin hummingbird.

A yellow-crowned euphonia. And an orange-billed sparrow.

Red-throated ant tanager, 17 March 2014

A male red-throated ant tanager, singing on a branch.

Red-throated ant tanager male, 17 March 2014

Red-throated ant tanager female, 17 March 2014

There was a female as well.

Sunbitterns with fish, 17 March 2014

At the river bank, two rare sunbitterns. One of them catches a fish. It is not as dexterous at swallowing it as real bitterns.

Sun bitterns are called “zonneral”, sun rail, in Dutch. But they are not closely related to either rails or bitterns.

Sarapiqui river, 17 March 2014

We go a bit further along the river.

Pug-nosed anole, 17 March 2014

A lizard on a tree trunk. A pug-nosed anole male?

Fasciated tiger heron, 17 March 2014

A fasciated tiger heron among the rocks.

Fasciated tiger heron catches food, 17 March 2014

It catches food from the river.

Fasciated tiger heron, Sarapiqui river, 17 March 2014

A spotted sandpiper.

A neotropic cormorant flies along.

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New lizard species discovery in Sri Lanka


This video is called Monitor Lizards of Sri Lanka.

By Mrinalini Erkenswick Watsa:

Scientists discover new gecko hanging-on in single forest fragment

February 17, 2014

Scientists have identified a new species of day gecko that is the largest in its genus (Cnemaspis) to be found in Sri Lanka. To date, it has been observed only within the Rammalakanda Reserve in southern Sri Lanka, an area spanning just 1,700 hectares, raising questions about the viability of this population and hence the species’ long-term prospects.

The gecko belongs to the enigmatic genus of Cnemaspis, which in 2003 contained only four representative species within Sri Lanka. Since then, scientists have discovered 18 further species in the island country, but none as large in size as this most recent discovery. Known locally as the ‘Rammale day gecko’ (Rammale pahalpalli in Tamil, and Rammale diva huna in Sinhalese), the new gecko measures around 53 millimeters from snout to vent—a small reptile to us, but a giant in comparison to other gecko species in the area.

Its most distinctive features are its large size and numerous scales on the ventral side or belly. In fact, the Rammale day gecko possesses nearly 22 percent more scales than the next closest species, Cnemaspis alwesi, while approaching the size of Cnemaspis sisparensis, the largest gecko recorded to date on the entire Indian peninsula.

Scientist Dulan Ranga Vidanapathirana, and his colleagues from the Herpetological Foundation of Sri Lanka and the Center for applied Biodiversity Research and Education in Kandy, reported this discovery in the journal Zootaxa.

“The occurrence of such a large species in a small forest patch at the edge of the wet zone is unexpected,” they write.

Rammalakanda Forest Reserve spans the border between Hambanthota and Matara districts in southern Sri Lanka, and supports a rich diversity of flora and fauna, including 99 species that can be found only within the reserve and nowhere else. The National Conservation Review recognizes it as one of the top 70 forests requiring conservation action within Sri Lanka.

Despite the Reserve receiving some protection from the government, concerns are high for the future of this rare and cryptic species that has eluded discovery until today.

“Illegal tree felling to cultivate tea has become a major threat in the area, ” write the authors. “Tea plantations and human settlements in the surrounding areas are slowly expanding, and are encroaching towards the forest, slowly destroying the habitat of this species.”

It is unfortunate that the celebration of a newly discovered species must immediately be tempered by anxiety for its future, but this is the increasing reality for scientists and conservationists working in the world’s tropical forests. As for this gecko, in honor of the place in which it was discovered, it has been named Cnemaspis rammalensis.

Citations:

D. L. Vidanapathirana, M. D. G. Rajeev, N. Wickramasinghe, S. S. Fernando and L. J. M. Wickramasinghe. (2014) Cnemaspis rammalensis sp. nov., Sri Lanka’s largest day-gecko
 (Sauria: Gekkonidae: Cnemaspis) from Rammalakanda Man and Biosphere Reserve in southern Sri Lanka. Zootaxa 3755 (3): 273-286.

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Qatar lizards, new research


This video from Qatar says about itself:

Desert Monitor Lizard (Dabb Lizard), Qatar.

29 June 2013

An endangered reptile; needs conservation.

In Qatar, there are not only ugly human rights violations, but also beautiful animals. Including lizards.

From Dr. Essam OH Saifelnasr in Qatar:

4-Feb-2014

Where do lizards in Qatar live? First distribution maps for the state

The state of Qatar occupies a small peninsula of 11,500 km2 within the Arabian Peninsula. Both Qatar’s population and economy have increased rapidly during the last decades, thus putting a strong pressure on native species. The commitment of the Qatari government towards sustainable development has triggered a variety of studies of its dwindling biodiversity.

A recent lizard inventory project has confirmed the occurrence of 21 lizard species, two of them being the first records to the fauna of Qatar, the Persian leaf-toed gecko and the Gulf sand gecko. The Qatari lizards belong to eight different families, but the most abundant family is Gekkonidae with nine species of nocturnal Geckos.

The authors of this study have found that while some lizard species are widespread, others are only present in few locations. In fact, lizard species richness varied between one and eleven species per grid square of 10×10 km. The most abundant lizard species are associated with artificial habitats made by human activities, and some of these are probably introduced. Other lizard species appear to be rare and would require urgent conservation measures. Despite the small size and flat relief of the country, some areas are not easily accessible and were under sampled. The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

The authors believe that additional lizard species might be present. “Additional efforts and funds are needed for future field surveys including all protected areas and private farms in order to complete the inventory of lizards of Qatar”, explains one of the authors Dr. Cogalniceanu. “The complete distribution database will be valuable to identify and plan adequate conservation measures for lizards. The data will also allow for species distribution modelling and predicting shifts in species range under different climate change scenarios and human impact factors.”

This study was possible thanks to the efforts and close collaboration of a large international team from Qatar (Ministry of Environment, Qatar Foundation and Qatar University) and several European institutions from Spain (University of Zaragoza, Aranzadi Society of Sciences, Forest Sciences Centre of Catalonia-CTFC, Spanish National Research Council-CSIC) and Romania (University Ovidius Constanţa).

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