Chinese elephants saved from reservoir

This video says about itself:

Wild elephants rescued from reservoir in SW China

12 October 2016

Three wild Asian elephants, two adults and a baby, were trapped in a reservoir in southwest China’s Yunnan Province for more than two days, which may cause them to choke on the water and die from hunger.

Rescuers tried many ways and finally managed to save these endangered animals on Tuesday by digging out a path from one side of the pond.

Dutch NOS TV writes today about this (translated):

Over two days, they were stuck in a five-meter deep tank: two wild adult elephants and a baby elephant. Foresters found the animals in south[western] China after getting information from locals, but could not immediately launch a rescue operation because of heavy rains.

Probably the baby elephant first fell in a tank full of water and its parents then fell in a rescue attempt. Images on Chinese state TV show how other elephants ran around the edge of the reservoir. In order to save the trapped animals, the other elephants first had to be driven away with firecrackers.

Eventually, rescue workers with a backhoe demolished the wall of the tank, and the elephants could get out.

African elephants, how they walk

This 2014 video is about African elephants walking on a savannah in Kenya.

From Science News:

African elephants walk on their tippy-toes

by Helen Thompson

7:00am, October 10, 2016

Elephants don’t wear high heels, but they certainly walk like they do.

Foot problems plague pachyderm conservation efforts. But it’s not clear if being in captivity causes changes in walking gait that drive these foot problems or whether the environment messes with their natural walking style.

Testing walking in wild elephants is challenging, so evolutionary morphologist Olga Panagiotopoulou of the University of Queensland and her colleagues opted for the closest thing. Researchers trained five African elephants (Loxodonta africana) at a park in South Africa to walk over pressure-sensing platforms to map the distribution of weight on their feet. The team compared their data to similar tests of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in a zoo in England.

Regardless of species or setting, a trend emerged: Elephants put the most pressure on the outside toes of their front feet and the least pressure on their heels, scientists report October 5 in Royal Society Open Science. Thus, elephants naturally walk on their tiptoes, and harder surfaces of captive environments must cramp their walking style. As a potential monitoring system, the pressure plates used in the study could aid conservationists and elephant podiatrists.

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.

Strange mammoth discovered in California, USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

Strange Mammoth Skull Discovered In California Baffles Scientists

18 September 2016

A unique fossil discovery has baffled scientists as they dig through a California Island looking for clues about human migration and mammoth extinction.

Deep within centuries of dirt, the team uncovered a well-preserved complete mammoth skull on Santa Rosa Island that they say exhibits features unlike any of its kind.

The skull is not large enough to be identified as a Columbian mammoth, yet not small enough to qualify as a pygmy – experts hope the creature’s fossilized teeth will reveal its true identity.

‘This mammoth find is extremely rare and of high scientific importance,’ Just Wilkins, a paleontologist at The Mammoth Site in South Dakota, said in a statement.

‘It appears to have been on the Channel Islands at the nearly same time as humans.’

‘I have seen a lot of mammoth skulls and this is one of the best preserved I have ever seen.’

Mammoths roamed North America some two million years ago, with Columbian mammoths appearing a million years later.

It is believed that the Columbian mammoths migrated to the Channel Islands during the past two ice ages when sea levels were lower and the island land mass was closer to the mainland coast.

Over time, descendants of the migrants downsized from approximately 14 feet to a six feet tall pygmy form, becoming an endemic species known as Mammuthus exilis.

The scientific team is particularly curious about the newly-discovered mammoth’s tusks.

The right tusk protrudes 1.4 meters in a coil characteristic of an older mammal, while the shorter, sloped left tusk is more typical of a juvenile.

From Science Alert:

Palaeontologists can’t explain the strange mammoth skull found in a California park

Its tusks don’t make sense.


19 SEP 2016

An exceptionally well preserved fossil of a complete mammoth skull has been unearthed on a tiny island off the coast of California, and it’s got palaeontologists rethinking how these massive animals might have lived alongside humans.

Dated to 13,000 years ago, the skull was uncovered near a stream on Santa Rosa Island – part of California’s Channel Islands National Park. That date is important, because it happens to coincide with the age of the Arlington Springs Man – the oldest human skeletal remains found in North America.

“This mammoth find is extremely rare and of high scientific importance,” said one of the team, Justin Wilkins, a palaeontologist from the Mammoth Site museum in South Dakota.

“It appears to have been on the Channel Islands at the nearly same time as humans,” he adds. “I have seen a lot of mammoth skulls and this is one of the best preserved I have ever seen.”

Based on an analysis of the skull, the team suggests that new type of mammoth could have been roaming the Channel Islands with some of its earliest human inhabitants.

The remains of the Arlington Springs Man were also discovered on Santa Rosa Island – about 42 km (26 miles) off the coast of Santa Barbara, California.

Archaeologists have placed his life at the end of the Pleistocene, when the four northern Channel Islands formed one mega-island called Santarosae.

We know from previous evidence that mammoths roamed the continent of North America approximately 2 million years ago, and a species called the Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) managed to swim to Santarosae between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago.

But this skull doesn’t look like a Columbian mammoth’s.

Over several thousand years, these Columbian mammoths rapidly evolved to suit their new island lifestyle, and shrunk from 4.2 metres tall to 1.8 metres, and their features became so different, a new species arose – the more diminutive pygmy mammoth (Mammuthus exilis), the smallest mammoth in the world.

But this skull doesn’t look like a pygmy mammoth’s either.

The team explains that the skull is not large enough to be a Columbian mammoth’s, but it’s not small enough to be a pygmy mammoth’s. So the two most likely explanations is that this is a juvenile Columbian mammoth, or it could represent a transitional species that was partway through evolving from Columbian to pygmy.

Of course, the juvenile scenario would be a whole lot easier to explain, except for the fact that its tusks are all weird.

“The right tusk protrudes 1.4 metres (4.5 feet) in a coil characteristic of an older mammal, while the shorter, sloped left tusk is more typical of a juvenile,” they explain.

Instead, this could be the first evidence that there were two sets of Columbian mammoth migrations to Santarosae.

“The discovery of this mammoth skull increases the probability that there were at least two migrations of Columbian mammoths to the island – during the most recent ice age 10 to 30,000 years ago, as well as the previous glacial period that occurred about 150,000 years ago,” says one of the team, Dan Muhs, from the US Geological Survey.

It’s important to note that this is pure speculation right now – the team has only done preliminary measurements and analyses on the skull, and will need to prepare their findings for peer-review in the coming months.

But this strange skull could be our first glimpse into how these incredible extinct creatures used their trunks as snorkels not once, but twice, to get a taste of that sweet, sweet island life.

Indians mourn elephants killed by power lines

This video from India says about itself:

Two elephants die of electrocution in tea garden – ANI News

Siliguri, Sep 11 2016 (ANI): Two elephants were found dead in Kiranchandra tea garden, 30km from Siliguri under Darjeeling district of West-Bengal. The villagers yesterday alleged that elephants from Bagdogra forest used to come to their villages regularly to feed on paddy crops and the tuskers might have been electrocuted after coming in contact with the electric pole.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Electrocuted elephants get funeral in India

Today, 15:25

Two elephants have been given a ceremonial funeral in a town in northeast India. The animals were electrocuted yesterday by a high voltage cable on a tea plantation.

Dozens of residents of Darjeeling town came to the farewell ceremony for the elephants. The Indians laid flowers on the dead bodies of the animals. Some crouched at the corpses to pray. Many Indians consider elephants to be sacred animals.

High voltage cable

The animals belonged to a herd of thirty elephants crossing the tea plantation. “These two became entangled in high-voltage cables,” says an Indian ranger. “Because it was raining hard, the animals were electrocuted.”

According to the villagers first one of the elephants got stuck in the power lines. The other animal is said to have become trapped when it tried to free its comrade.

Elephants play an important role in Hinduism, the most numerous religion in India. One of the principal Hindu deities Shri Ganesh is depicted with the head of an elephant.

It looks like these elephants might have been still alive, if that power line would have been either underground or so high that it could not harm elephants or other wildlife. Work should start now making power lines safe for wildlife, in Darjeeling and all over the world. The example of Sudan shows this is possible.

Saving elephants in Kenya

This video about Kenya says about itself:

Risking Their Lives To Protect Elephants – This Wild Life – BBC Earth

11 September 2016

In Samburu the team of community ranger must be constantly vigilant to prevent poachers from harming the local animals.

Elephant conservation in Kenya

This, video, recorded in Kenya, says about itself:

The Frontline of Elephant Protection – This Wild Life – BBC

9 September 2016

Not only are the team in Samburu trying to win over the hearts and minds of the local community, they are also mobilising them to help enforce the much-needed anti-poaching laws.

What should drive conservation action: morals or money? By BirdLife News, 25 Oct 2016: here.