Dutch seventeenth-century art about Brazilian animals


Giant anteater by Frans Post

This drawing, by Dutch painter Frans Post (1612-1680), depicts a giant anteater.

In 1637-1644, Post was in northeast Brazil, then part of the Dutch colonial empire. He painted local landscapes. And he also made 34 drawings of Brazilian animals; these drawings were only recently found again.

From 7 October 2016 till 8 January 2017, there will be in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in the Netherlands an exhibition showing these drawings, paintings and stuffed animals of the depicted species from the collection of Naturalis museum in Leiden.

Some of the animal species depicted by Post can also be seen alive in Artis zoo in Amsterdam. On 7 October, a drawing contest will start of depictions of these animals by zoo visitors.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Friday, March 4, 2016, 1:30 pm

The Dutch painter Frans Post was the first European-trained artist to paint landscapes in the New World. His depictions of the Dutch colony in northeast Brazil provided Europeans some of the earliest glimpses of South America. After a seven-year stay in Brazil, Post returned to the Netherlands to create for the Dutch art market numerous landscape paintings of this remote and exotic place. James Welu, Director Emeritus of the Worcester Art Museum, in Massachusetts, explores the wealth of information these paintings offer, both about the land that inspired them and the people who acquired them.

23 baby giant pandas, video


This video from China says about itself:

23 Baby Pandas Make Debut at southwest China Breeding Base

29 sep. 2016

Twenty-three giant panda cubs made their public debut at a panda base in southwest China’s Chengdu City on Thursday, offering the cutest scene one can imagine.

The baby pandas, aged one to four months, were all born at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding this year.

“I think this is just about the cutest thing in the entire world. I never imagine there will be so many baby pandas in one place,” said a U.S. tourist named Aaron.

“I thought they were toys because they were lying there motionless. Then I realized they were cute baby pandas,” said Zheng Shuo, a tourist from central China’s Hunan Province.

This year, experts from the base also witnessed the birth of another four pandas overseas, raising the total number of the base’s newborn pandas to 27, a rare record since the establishment of the base.

The number of this year’s newborn pandas at the base has almost doubled that last year. Experts attribute this to the improvement in breeding technology.

“We used to mate the pandas by observing their behaviors to decide the timing for mating. But now we combine behavior observation with endocrine analysis to get more accurate timing, thus ensuring a fairly high breeding rate,” said Wu Kongju, animal management director at the base.

What’s more, among the 27 newborn pandas there are 10 pairs of twins, accounting for 74 percent of the total.

Since its establishment nearly 30 years ago, the base has bred 176 giant pandas, the world’s largest artificially-bred giant panda population.

Read more here.

American chipmunk’s corn cob food, video


This video from the USA says about itself:

29 September 2016

Chipmunk shucks an entire ear of dried corn in record time and stores it away for cold winter days. That is not an easy task when the corn cob is bigger than you are! Admirable little rodents with an impressive work ethic and survival skills.

Barnacles’ information about whales


This video from California in the USA says about itself:

Rare Blue Whale with Many Barnacles

9 July 2015

Just very close and shallow to the shore of the Torrey Pines Cliffs, with the depth of between 150 and 200 feet, the blue whale had so many black specks all over its body! It also had a dorsal fin that had been torn off and shaped like a sickle! It is very unusual for a blue whale to have very many barnacles.

From Science News:

Barnacles track whale migration

Chemical composition of hitchhikers’ shells might reveal ancient baleen travel routes

By Thomas Sumner

12:01pm, September 27, 2016

DENVER — Barnacles can tell a whale of a tale. Chemical clues inside barnacles that hitched rides on baleen whales millions of years ago could divulge ancient whale migration routes, new research suggests.

Modern baleen whales migrate thousands of kilometers annually between breeding and feeding grounds, but almost nothing is known about how these epic journeys have changed over time. Scientists can glean where an aquatic animal has lived based on its teeth. The mix of oxygen isotopes embedded inside newly formed tooth material depends on the region and local temperature, with more oxygen-18 used near the poles than near the equator. That oxygen provides a timeline of the animal’s travels. Baleen whales don’t have teeth, though. So paleobiologists Larry Taylor and Seth Finnegan, both of the University of California, Berkeley, looked at something else growing on whales: barnacles. Like teeth, barnacle shells take in oxygen as they grow.

Patterns of oxygen isotopes in layers of barnacle shells collected from modern beached whales matched known whale migration routes, Taylor said September 25 at the Geological Society of America’s annual meeting. Five-million-year-old barnacle fossils have analogous oxygen isotope changes, preliminary results suggest. Converting those changes into migration maps, however, will require reconstructing how oxygen isotopes were distributed long ago, Taylor said.

Very close African elephant encounter


This video from South Africa says about itself:

Extremely Close Elephant Encounter

Silence is most definitely golden when it comes to being so up close and personal with this incredible giant tusker….

Eswe Ras, Front of House manager for Sausage Tree Safari Camp, on the Balule Private Game Reserve, was lucky enough to have experienced this heart pounding encounter with such a majestic animal.

Eswe is a qualified guide and occasionally does the tracking on game drives (as per this incident).

“This was a unique experience for me, but occasionally trackers do get approached by various animals out of curiosity.”

This happened in February 2016 shortly after we departed for the afternoon drive from camp. We approached a small group of elephant bulls and parked about 30 metres away from them, respecting their space. They gradually started moving closer to us, this is when Ezulwini (the elephant bull) approached the vehicle to pass on by. As seen on the video he came towards me and stood in front of me (what is not seen on the video is that he put his trunk around my one ankle, smelling me) for a few seconds. Our head guide Kevin van der Linde was filming the incident.

It was certainly quite intimidating having such a huge animal so close to you & touching you but I never felt that I was in any danger. Ezulwini is an elephant well-known to guides & trackers here on Balule and he is a very gentle-natured animal. The feeling I think would best be described as complete awe and definitely an adrenalin rush.”

After Ezulwini’s curiosity faded, he simply moved off and resumed feeding along with the other bulls.

Rufous-tailed scrub-robin, curlews in the Netherlands


This 24 September 2016 video is from the Maasvlakte area in the Netherlands. Mainly about the rufous-tailed scrub-robin, very rare in the Netherlands; also about other birds, like curlews.

Maasvlakte grey seals, common seals: here.

New rainforest national park in Liberia


This video, recorded in Ghana in 2014, is called Yellow-headed Picathartes (=White-necked Picathartes).

From BirdLife:

Threatened African rainforest teeming with unique life declared a National Park

By Alex Dale, 23 Sep 2016

It is one of the last strongholds of the Guinean Forest, a moist forest eco-region that once covered West Africa like a blanket from Guinea to Togo, but has shrunk by 70% over the last several centuries due to human activities in the region.

It offers vital resources to the communities who live on the forest edges, and harbours an impressive array of animal and plant life both big and small, many of which are endemic, and are now threatened by the fragmentation of their forest habitats.

But the future of Liberia’s Gola National Forest, a large block of evergreen and semi-deciduous rainforest that stretches into neighbouring Sierra Leone, was, until now, far from secure. This vital area, which forms part of the largest remnants of the Guinean Forest, has been severely threatened by a number of factors, such as mining and quarrying, charcoal production and bushmeat hunting.

However, thanks to many years of tireless work from Society for the Conservation of Nature in Liberia (SCNL, BirdLife Partner), Gola Forest was officially declared a National Park on September 22, providing protection and security to this internationally-recognised biodiversity hotspot.

Gola Forest National Park will connect with Sierra Leone’s similarly-named Gola Rainforest National Park, which was established in 2011, effectively creating a transboundary ‘peace park’ which covers over 395,000 acres of protected land. Two decades ago, the sounds of gunshots were commonplace in this area with Liberia in a state of civil war and high tensions in Sierra Leone; now the transboundary forest is a symbol of peace and dedication of the countries’ governments to nature conservation.

The area has previously been recognised by BirdLife as an Important Bird & Biodiversity Area (IBA), with over 300 species recorded, including species which transcend the countries’ international border. The Lofa-Gola-Mano Complex IBA is home to numerous species categorised by BirdLife for the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable, including Yellow-beared Greenbul Criniger olivaceus; Western Wattled Cuckooshrike Campephaga lobata; and Yellow-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna elata. Perhaps the most recognisable and charismatic of the IBA’s Vulnerable species is White-necked Picathartes Picathartes gymnocephalus, a large passerine whose unusual looks have gifted it the alternative name ‘bald-headed crow’, and is a symbol for ecotourism in the area.

The declaration of Gola Forest National Park is also welcome news for the area’s incredible megafauna, such as African bush elephant Loxodonta africana, common chimpanzee Pan troglodytes, (both classified as Endangered), and pygmy hippopotamus Choeropsis liberiensis (listed as Vulnerable).

However, it could be argued that the newly-formed park’s most interesting inhabitants are actually its smallest; recent surveys into the area have revealed several species new to science, including six dragonfly and damselfly species, three butterfly species and one frog species.

With less than three percent of Africa’s remaining forests officially protected, it is possible many other animal species will be lost before we even get a chance to discover them. The formation of this new transboundary park, right in the heart of West Africa, is a huge step in the right direction.

BirdLife launches Regional Implementation Team for the Guinean Forests of West Africa Biodiversity Hotspot: here.