Wildlife in 2016


This 2014 video is called Brazil Wildlife National Geographic Episode 1.

From the Wildlife Conservation Society in the USA:

Dear Friend of WCS,

I look back with great pride on this year’s wins for wildlife: the establishment of new protected areas around the world; a historic transect of the Madidi National Park in Bolivia; eight nations taking a stand for elephants with the destruction of ivory; and China and the United States taking action to close ivory markets. Our WCS team works each day to achieve victories like these, which would not be possible without your support.

I can’t help but be overwhelmed with optimism for the coming months. I asked some of my colleagues and friends to share what they are most enthusiastic about for year ahead.

“Why are you optimistic about wildlife conservation in 2016?”

Joel Berger, WCS Beringia Program (Arctic)

“My optimism for 2016 could not be greater. Here, on the Roof of the World (Tibetan Plateau) and in the Gobi Desert, we have little-known icons that inspire and whose successes need to be told and re-told. There are wild yaks and kyang. There are chiru and saiga and argali. And, despite challenges, there are reasons to celebrate as the establishment of core protected areas from Mongolia to western China is enabling wildlife to multiply and expand.”

Stacy Jupiter, Director of WCs Melanesia Program

“On a recent expedition in Solomon Islands, I was overjoyed to find thriving coral reef communities with healthy populations of reef fish that are depleted in most other places of the Pacific. In 2016, WCS will expand its newly developing Solomon Islands program to work with local communities to ensure these resources are protected for future generations.”

Paul P. Calle, WCS Chief Veterinarian

“The revolutionary changes in the use of RNA and DNA for diagnostics have made it possible to almost immediately obtain laboratory results in the field. In 2016 we are excited to be able to deploy these technologies throughout the world in our conservation programs.”

Katie Dolan, WCS Trustee

“Online shark conservation programs for local teachers; 5K runs at the Bronx Zoo; an ivory crush in Times Square; mesmerizing animal images on the new WCS website; a report showing coral reefs with numerous species are more resilient: all hopeful signs that WCS is building a powerful movement to save wildlife, now and in the future.”

Julie L. Kunen, Executive Director of WCS Latin America and Caribbean program

“Because of the broad coalition we’ve built of over 20 institutions in 3 countries in support of our Amazon Waters Initiative, I’m optimistic that in 2016 we can more effectively conserve the world’s greatest and most diverse freshwater system.”

Antonia M. Grumbach, WCS Chair of the Board

“As we approach the reopening of the renovated New York Aquarium, and the opening of the new Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit, I look forward to the Aquarium’s transformation into an even stronger beacon of education and conservation. This new Aquarium will give our visitors a greater appreciation of the marine world which surrounds New York City.”

Cristian Samper, WCS President and CEO

As for me, I am encouraged by the growing collective understanding of why wildlife conservation matters, and the willingness by governments and people to promote sustainable development. The results of the Paris climate talks last month signal a commitment by governments and the private sector to change business as usual. I see all of this helping to influence the actions of my two young children, and children worldwide, who are ready to advocate for wildlife. We work every day to make their dream a reality, and we could not do it without your support.

Thank you for all that you do for wildlife, and best wishes for the year ahead.

Cristián Samper

President & CEO

‘Extinct’ Brazilian butterfly found again


This video says about itself:

Science Bulletins: Fire Ants Raise Brazilian Butterflies

13 March 2012

When researchers in Brazil studied the early larval stages of the butterfly Aricoris propitia, they discovered that the larvae had solicitous caretakers—fire ants. Fire ants are a notorious invasive species and are frequently seen as pests, but A. propitia butterflies actively seek them out when choosing a location for egg-laying. The ants attend the larvae, transporting them to shelter during the day and carrying them out again at night to feed on the host plant.

The ants appear to benefit from the larvae’s “ant-organs,” which dispense a type of nectar and a substance that produces a stimulating effect. Fire ants are extremely adaptable, especially in distressed environments, and as deforestation and development reduce the butterflies’ habitats in Brazil’s Amazon and Cerrado regions, this highly successful partnership may inform scientific understanding of the future distribution and success of the two species.

From Scientific American:

Lost Butterfly Rediscovered After 56 Years

This critically endangered Brazilian butterfly had only been seen twice before

By John R. Platt on December 14, 2015

In late 2014 the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul added a monkey, a tapir, a weasel-like species called the tayra and 18 butterflies to its red list of endangered species.

One of those butterflies, a metallic-winged species known only as Stichelia pelotensis, was a bit of a mystery. It was first described in the 1950s, but all attempts to find it again in its original location had proven fruitless. The species had only been seen one time since then, a female found 250 kilometers from the first site. With this rarity in mind, the state government declared the butterfly critically endangered and warned that it faced extinction due to ongoing habitat loss in the region where it had first been seen.

A year later, we have good news about that lost butterfly. According to research published Nov. 28 in the journal Revista Brasileira de Entomologia, S. pelotensis has finally been found.

Researchers from Universidade Federal do Paraná and two other Brazilian institutions found the butterfly in a marshy grassland habitat about 17 kilometers from where it was observed in the 1950s. Their first sighting consisted of a single male. They had to wait nearly two months for their next observation, but patience paid off. This time they saw four additional males. A week later they saw both a male and a female.

As recounted in their paper, the male and female were seen feeding on a flowering plant called Eryngium elegans. “After feeding,” they wrote, “both specimens flew away in a rapid and erratic flight and were not seen again.”

Lead author Ricardo Russo Siewert, a biologist with Universidade Federal do Paraná, calls this “an important find” but says this is just the first step toward understanding this rarely seen species. We don’t know much about its behavior or ecological needs, including the host plant on which it lays its eggs. We don’t know how well the butterflies are doing, how many of them, or if they exist in other locations. “We still need to perform well-optimized inventories to search for other populations of this species,” he said.

Time is of the essence there. Siewert notes that “only 0.14 percent of these grasslands habitats in Rio Grande do Sul state is represented in preserved areas.” That tiny percentage doesn’t include the habitat where the butterfly was found. “The remaining field (or campos) habitats are losing area by the expansion of agricultural and silvicultural [forest crop] activities,” he says.

For now, Siewert considers this once-lost butterfly to still be critically endangered and in need of conservation. But at least the mystery of its existence has for now been solved.

More migratory bird conservation needed


This video says about itself:

Red-spectacled Parrot, Amazona pretrei

13 June 2013

Every year thousands of Red-spectacled Parrots migrate to Urupema, Santa Catarina in southern Brazil, where they congregate in austral autumn and winter between March and July, providing one of the most amazing nature phenomena.

From BirdLife:

World failing to protect its migratory birds

By Ade Long, Thu, 03/12/2015 – 19:10

A new study published in Science has called for a greater international collaborative effort to save the world’s migratory birds, many of which are at risk of extinction due to loss of habitat along their flight paths.

More than 90 per cent of the world’s migratory birds are inadequately protected due to poorly coordinated conservation around the world.

The research, which included using BirdLife International’s data on migratory bird distributions and Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), found huge gaps in the conservation of migratory birds, particularly across China, India, and parts of Africa and South America. This results in the majority of migratory birds having ranges that are well covered by protected areas in one country, but poorly protected in another.

Major declines

“More than half of migratory bird species travelling the world’s main flyways have suffered serious population declines in the past 30 years. This is due mainly to unequal and ineffective protection across their migratory range and the places they stop to refuel along their routes,” says lead author Dr Claire Runge of Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and the University of Queensland (UQ).

“A typical migratory bird relies on many different geographic locations throughout its annual cycle for food, rest and breeding. So even if we protect most of their breeding grounds, it’s still not enough – threats somewhere else can affect the entire population,” she says. “The chain can be broken at any link.”

Remarkable journeys

Co-author Dr James Watson of CEED and UQ explains that these birds undertake remarkable journeys navigating across land and sea to find refuge as the seasons change, from endurance flights exceeding 10,000 kilometres by Bar-tailed Godwits to the annual relay of Arctic Terns, which fly the equivalent of the distance to the moon and back three times during their lives.

Other examples include the Sooty Shearwater which flies 64,000 kilometres from the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas to the Arctic, and the tiny Blackpoll Warbler, which flies for three days non-stop across open-ocean from eastern Canada to South America.

Inadequate protection

The CEED study found that of 1,451 migratory bird species, 1,324 had inadequate protection for at least one part of their migration pathway. Eighteen species had no protection in their breeding areas and two species had no protection at all along their whole route.

For migratory bird species listed as threatened on the IUCN Red List by BirdLife International, less than three per cent have sufficient protected areas. “For example, the Red-spectacled Amazon—a migratory parrot of Brazil—is threatened by habitat loss,” says Dr Stuart Butchart, Head of Science at BirdLife International and a co-author of the study. “And yet less than four per cent of its range is protected, and almost none of its seasonal breeding areas in southern Brazil are covered.”

IBAs need more protection

The team also examined over 8,200 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas that have been identified as internationally important locations for migratory bird populations. They found that just 22 per cent are completely protected, and 41 per cent only partially overlap with protected areas.

“Establishing new reserves to protect the unprotected sites – and more effectively managing all protected areas for migratory species – is critical to ensure the survival of these iconic species,” Dr Butchart adds.

Joined up conservation needed for migratory species

Co-author Associate Professor Richard Fuller of CEED says the results highlight an urgent need to coordinate protected area designation along the birds’ full migration route: “For instance, Germany has protected areas for over 98 per cent of the migratory species that pass its borders, but fewer than 13 per cent of its species are adequately protected across their global range.

“It isn’t just a case of wealthy nations losing their migratory birds to a lack of protection in poorer nations. Many Central American countries, for example, meet the targets for more than 75 per cent of their migratory species, but these same species have less protected area coverage in Canada and USA.”

While protected areas are usually designated by each country, collaborative international partnerships and inter-governmental coordination as well as action are crucial to safeguard the world’s migratory birds.

“It won’t matter what we do in Australia or in Europe if these birds are losing their habitat somewhere else – they will still perish. We need to work together far more effectively round the world if we want our migratory birds to survive into the future,” Dr Fuller says.

More information:

The study “Protected areas and global conservation of migratory birds” by Claire Runge, James Watson, Stuart Butchart, Jeffrey Hanson, Hugh Possingham and Richard Fuller is published in Science.

The study was led by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED).

New toad species discovery in Brazil


This 22 February 2015 video from Brazil shows two Melanophryniscus admirabilis toads, relatives of the three newly discovered species, mating.

From AFP news agency:

Brazil scientists discover three new toad species

December 2, 2015

Brazilian scientists announced Wednesday the discovery of three previously unknown species of poisonous toads in the fast-shrinking Atlantic forest of southern Brazil, an area dubbed an “incubator” of new life forms.

The tiny creatures, measuring from one to 2.5 centimeters (up to one inch), were found in Santa Catarina state, a zone of mountains and forested valleys that is considered an important center of biodiversity.

“The great importance of this discovery is that this forest serves as an incubator for the origin of species,” said Marcos Bornschein, a researcher with the Federal University of Parana, who helped identify the creatures.

“It’s a laboratory of huge importance for the mapping and conserving and understanding of biological processes,” he said.

The Atlantic forest once covered most of Brazil’s coastline, but only eight percent has been preserved. Most of the country’s 204 million people live along the coast.

The toads are dark brown with red markings and are speckled with warts. They eat ants and mites and during digestion create a chemical in the skin that can poison predators, principally snakes.

“They are not dangerous to humans,” Bornschein said. “During the fieldwork, some researchers felt a numbing in their finger ends after touching them, but nothing more.”

The discovery of the toads, all classified as part of the Melanophryniscus genus, was described Wednesday in the scientific journal Plos One.

The article said that the discovery of the toads in a fairly restricted geographical area—they were found between the cities of Garuva and Blumenau, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) apart—suggested that the species “might be severely underestimated.”

But it added that the “status of these species is of particular concern, given that one of them is at risk of extinction.”

Lapwings stop Brazilian football match


This 12 November video is about a flock of birds, invading a football pitch in Brazil, stopping the match.

This was an under-20 Copa do Brasil game between São Paulo and Joinville.

The birds were southern lapwings.

Brazilian Atlantic forest wildlife film at Rotterdam festival


This video is the trailer of the film Brazil, a natural history: Fragile Forest.

At the Wildlife Film Festival in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, are not only films from Africa, but also this film.

The organisers write about it:

This enigmatic forest once stretched along the coast of Brazil for thousands of kilometres. Now there is only 7% left. Yet it is still home for many remarkable animals. Muriqui are the largest monkeys in South America. These very rare, highly social creatures greet each other with hugs – the closer the friendship, the more intense the hugs.

Great dusky swifts fly through the tumbling waters of the mighty Iguaçu Falls to build their nests on the slippery rock faces behind the curtains of water.

Coatis are curious looking creatures with their long flexible noses and banded tails, making them quite comical. But appearances can be deceptive; coatis are efficient hunters. They are also very social, living in all-female gangs that are composed of sisters, mothers and aunts. The females support one another in their day-to-day lives, keeping a watch out for predators.

Blue manakins are also social, but in a completely different way. In the depths of the forest, the males of these startlingly colourful birds work as a team to court a female. Like miniature circus performers they jump and bounce on a branch, one after the other, to excite their audience. Only the lead artist gets to carry out the last act.