Dutch birdwatching TV game show


This 13 July 2015 video introduces the new Dutch TV show In de ban van de condor.

On 4 September 2015, on Dutch TV, there will be the start of a new game show about birdwatching. The name of the show is In de ban van de condor (Fascinated by the condor).

Teams consisting of one birdwatcher and one celebrity will compete who is best at birdwatching.

Among the birdwatchers will be Debby Doodeman, and Camilla Dreef. Among the celebrities will be actress Inge Ipenburg and model Sylvia Geersen.

The first round of the game show will be in four areas in the Netherlands: Biesbosch national park, Texel island, the Veluwe, and Waterland.

The winners of the first round will go to Georgia, where there is massive autumn bird migration.

The final round will be in Peru: looking for the Andean condor.

Abused Peruvian ex-circus bear’s rehabilitation


This video says about itself:

Cholita the bear takes her first steps to freedom!

1 May 2015

Cholita the ‘real-life Paddington bear‘ who was abused at the circus and captured the world’s hearts has taken her first steps to freedom with Animal Defenders International (ADI). The hairless bear was signed into the organisation’s custody and rescued in a two day mission. Cholita is now safe in the ADI ‘Spirit of Freedom’ rescue centre where she is receiving specialist care ahead of her flight to the United States where she will enjoy a new life along with 33 lions who have been rescued from circuses across Peru and Colombia by ADI.

Find out more about ADI’s campaign to save Cholita and our Operation Spirit of Freedom rescue here.

From Wildlife Extra:

Film footage show Cholita the abused ex-circus bear taking first steps to freedom

The abused circus bear Cholita rescued from a zoo in Peru by Animal Defenders International (ADI) has taken her first steps to freedom.

Cholita is an endangered Spectacled bear who was kept illegally by a circus. The stress and trauma of her living conditions has left Cholita suffering from severe hair loss – where she should have thick, black fur she has none, leaving her almost completely bald.

Other scars of her abusive past include fingers brutally cut down to stumps to remove her front claws, and broken teeth, leaving her defenceless.

She is now at the rescue centre in Peru where, for the first time in her life, she is nesting in straw, enjoying a natural diet including her favourite grapes, playing in her bath while being closely monitored to establish her level of health ahead of her flight to the United States where she will enjoy a new life along with 34 big cats who have been rescued from circuses across Peru and Colombia.

ADI President Jan Creamer said, “Cholita has taken her first steps to freedom and is clearly enjoying herself at the ADI rescue centre, making cosy deep straw nests and eating her favourite foods, especially grapes. She is elderly and quite frail so we are keeping her under close observation to monitor her health. With the public’s continuing and heartfelt response we can give this sweet bear the brighter future she deserves.”

Cholita was confiscated from a circus in Peru ten years ago and has been living in a zoo near Piura ever since, as no suitable permanent home could be found for her due to her poor health and lack of hair.

Peruvian authorities requested that ADI find a home for Cholita, along with the 33 lions and a tiger saved during the ADI Operation Spirit of Freedom rescue mission, planned for rehoming at The Wild Animal Sanctuary in the US. Over the past eight months ADI has assisted Peru’s wildlife officials with the enforcement of the country’s ban on wild animals in circuses, and has started the same process to save animals from Colombia’s circuses.

Cholita’s rescue brings the number of animals saved by ADI since August last year, to 79. ADI has worked with Peru’s authorities to raid circuses all over the country in the biggest rescue and enforcement operation of its kind. During the mission, the organisation has also saved dozens of monkeys and other animals from the illegal wildlife trade.

New lizard species discovered in Ecuador and Peru


This video says about itself:

Signalling behaviour of the Anolis lizards of Ecuador

10 November 2013

Video by Andrea Narvaez.

Species: Anolis otongae is displaying in front of Anolis gemosus (the green one).

Location: Otonga (cloud forest).

From National Geographic:

Colorful New ‘Dwarf Dragons’ Found in South America

The newfound wood lizards live in Ecuador and Peru—and chances are, there are more yet to be discovered, scientists say.

By Danielle Elliot

PUBLISHED April 06, 2015

Attention Game of Thrones: Three new species of “dwarf dragon” have been discovered in Peru and Ecuador, a new study says.

Due to political unrest in Ecuador, it took nearly a decade for scientists to identify the reptiles, which are commonly called wood lizards. They are the Alto Tambo wood lizard (Enyalioides altotambo), rough-scaled wood lizard (E. anisolepis), and Rothschild’s wood lizard (E. sophiarothschildae).

Wood lizards—which resemble miniature versions of mythical dragons—are among the largest and most colorful lizards in South American forests, making their discovery even more notable, according to scientists. (Also see “Colorful New Lizard Identified in Vietnam.”)

The study, published April 6 in the journal ZooKeys, brings the total number of wood lizard species to 15. That’s nearly twice the number of species known in 2006—giving this group of South American reptiles one of the fastest discovery rates of the past decade.

“I am a very lucky guy,” said study leader Omar Torres-Carvajal, curator of reptiles at the Museo de Zoología QCAZ at the Catholic University of Ecuador in Quito. A prolific discoverer of wood lizards, Torres-Carvajal is also a research collaborator with the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History.

“As I became more expert in the group, it became easier for me to suspect that something’s weird or new.”

Lizard of a Different Color

Scientists spotted the first new species, E. altotambo, in November 2005 in the northern Ecuadoran village of Alto Tambo (map). Bright green and black with smooth scales along most of its nearly five-inch-long (13-centimeter) body, the animal looked just like a related species, E. oshaughnessyi, which has been known since 1881.

But when the team brought the reptile to their lab at the Museo de Zoología, they noticed one major difference: This new lizard had brown eyes, with golden rings around the pupils. E. oshaughnessyi has bright red eyes. (Also see “Dragon-Like, Feathered Dinosaur Was Ace Flyer.”)

They also noted that the scales of the Alto Tambo are smoother than those of E. oshaughnessyi.

One specimen is hardly enough to confirm a discovery, so they decided to wait until they found another specimen. That took five years, because the lizards come from a region of Ecuador that isn’t considered safe for scientists to conduct field research.

“These guys are usually more abundant. The reason we didn’t find more is that we didn’t actually look,” Torres-Carvajal explained.

“We just were too scared to go and look for more.”

“This Is Something New”

Then in 2014, field researchers working along the border of Ecuador and Peru found a large group of wood lizards with distinctly white throats.

The lizards also had spiked scales and dark spots scattered all over their bodies, in combinations that differ from those in related species.

“I’m looking at them saying, ‘This is something new, because it has a combination of traits that I’ve never seen before.’ It was almost immediate—immediate and very exciting,” he said of their identification.

Taxonomist Pablo Venegas, who consults with the Ecuadoran museum but is based at the Center for Ornithology and Biodiversity in Lima, Peru, recognized the white throat scales from wood lizards he had first seen in northern Peru in 2003 and again in 2008.

DNA testing proved the 2003, 2008, and 2014 specimens belonged to the same species, which was dubbed E. anisolepis. (Also see “Pictures: Peru Park Boasts Highest Diversity of Amphibians and Reptiles.”)

As they continued examining other lizards Venegas had collected, the international team recognized a third new species, E. sophiarothschildae.

This reptile also has a white throat, as well as a splash of black and turquoise scales.

That’s not the end of the story. Torres-Carvajal predicts that in southern Ecuador and northern Peru, many more mini-dragons are waiting in the wings.

See also here.

Giant manta ray at play, video


This video, recorded off Peru, says about itself:

Curious giant manta ray surprises manta researcher! The manta researcher was collecting a photo ID, used to monitor population trends that can help identify the effects of fishing pressure on this population of manta rays.

Full story here.

See also here.

Spider monkeys rescued from Peruvian circus, restaurant


This video says about itself:

11 February 2015

Watch the moment when Pepe met Valerie.

Pepe, an intelligent, playful monkey had been kept alone and chained by the neck for eight years. The circus had snapped off Pepe’s canine teeth so that he could not defend himself. Now, in the most moving chapter of his story so far, Pepe has finally been reunited with his own kind as part of Operation Spirit of Freedom.

From Wildlife Extra:

Two spider monkeys come out of solitary confinement for the first time

A spider monkey that was rescued from a Peruvian circus in the Andean town of Cusco by Animal Defenders International (ADI) has been introduced to another spider monkey for the first time.

Pepe had been kept alone and chained by the neck for eight years, and his canine teeth had been snapped off so that there was no danger of him biting anyone.

ADI has been assisting the Peruvian authorities to enforce their ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, as well as with the relocation of animals seized from the illegal pet trade – a mission called Operation Spirit of Freedom.

Pepe was brought up to full health and his teeth were repaired by a veterinary dentist. The next step was to socialise him with others of his kind.

In January, the ADI rescue centre outside Lima received Valerie, a young female spider monkey who had been illegally trafficked and was being kept for entertainment in a restaurant.

At first the two monkeys were encouraged to get to know each other through the bars of their cages but then, to both animals’ great excitement, they were put together and immediately began playing and chattering to each together.

Jan Creamer, President of London-based ADI says: “Pepe is a gentle soul with a big heart and we are absolutely thrilled to see him and Valerie together, knowing they both spent so many years alone – it was a very emotional moment.”

ADI has a temporary rescue centre just outside Lima, with a full-time veterinary team acting as a hub for Operation Spirit of Freedom in Peru. It is caring for 21 lions and over 20 other native wild animals there – mainly monkeys.

As part of the rehabilitation programme, ADI experts assess the individual animals and form family groups so they can be relocated to suitable habitat and rehomed together.

You can see Pepe and Valerie’s first moments together in the video above.

For more information and to support the work of ADI and Operation Spirit of Freedom click here.

New frog species discovery in Peru


This video says about itself:

An Array of Frogs Calling in the Peruvian Amazon

4 February 2012

Nine species of frog are seen here. From left to right, and top to bottom: Hypsiboas geographicus, Dendropsophus sarayacuensis, Hypsiboas lanciformis, Hypsiboas punctatus, Scinax chiquitanus, Phyllomedusa palliata, Leptodactylus rhodonotus, Leptodactylus sp., Leptodactylus sp.

All frogs were recorded in the Madre de Dios region of Peru.

From Wildlife Extra:

New yellow frog discovered in Peru

A new water frog species has been discovered on Pacific slopes of the Andes in central Peru, an area scientists had thought was poor in biodiversity.

The name of the new species Telmatobius ventriflavum comes from the Latin for yellow belly (venter and flavus) and refers to the golden yellow and orange coloration on the body.

Water frogs are a subfamily of frogs endemic to the Andes of South America. The populations of several species of Telmatobius have declined dramatically over the past 30 years, and the genus is now thought to be extinct in Ecuador. These declines have been associated with the spread of the fungal disease chytridiomycosis.

“The discovery of a new species in such arid and easily accessible environments shows that much remains to be done to document amphibian diversity in the Andes,” said the lead author Dr. Alessandro Catenazzi of Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The study detected the presence of the chytrid fungus, but the impact of chytridiomycosis on the new species is unknown. The authors recommend disease surveillance to prevent outbreaks that might endanger the survival of this endemic species.

The scientific description of the new species is here.

Baby bird imitates toxic caterpillar


This video says about itself:

Baby bird mimics a toxic caterpillar

11 December 2014

To avoid being eaten by snakes and monkeys, the chicks of a rather drab grey bird mimic the look and movements of a poisonous caterpillar.

From New Scientist about this:

The bird that mimics a toxic caterpillar

13:29 11 December 2014 by Sandhya Sekar

Species: Laniocera hypopyrra
Habitat: Lowland Amazonian rainforests in South America

In the warm, humid tropical forests of the Peruvian Amazon, a rather drab grey bird makes its way to a cup-shaped nest made of dry leaves, its beak stuffed with a juicy insect.

Inside the nest, however, there are no gaping mouths and crying chicks begging for food. Instead, a creature starts sliding around inside the nest. On closer inspection it seems that a huge, bright orange caterpillar has ravaged the nest.

But something magical happens next. The bird gives out a call and the caterpillar transforms into a hungry chick eager to get its meal.

The chick is as different from its parents as can be. It mimics the look and movements of a poisonous species of the caterpillar family Magalopygidae, to avoid being eaten by snakes and monkeys. This trick is known as Batesian mimicry, and is more common in invertebrates. Think of the harmless butterflies mimicking poisonous species from the same area. Among birds, the only other recorded example is of burrowing owls producing hissing sounds like an agitated rattlesnake when disturbed.

But in Laniocera hypopyrra‘s (the cinereous mourner) mimicry is more complex, involving both looks and behaviour, something not spotted in birds before.

The medium-sized bird, found in lowland forests in the Amazon basin in South America, has one brood per year and mainly feeds on insects. It builds unlined, cup-shaped nests from dry leaves in areas with relatively open undergrowth.

Cinereous mourner parents spend a lot of time foraging away from the nest, and return to the nest only once each hour. This is a very low feeding rate for such a small bird, and the chicks grow slowly, taking around 20 days to start flying. This gives ample time for predators to eat up chicks.

The intense predation pressure, which could be as high as 80 per cent among birds in habitats where the mourner lives seems to have driven the evolution of complex anti-predatory strategies in the species.

Gustavo Londono, now at the University of California, came across a nest of the species in 2012, and later set up cameras to observe what happens in it.

The chick has bright orange feathers, some lined with black ridges and tipped with white barbs, so it looks and moves like a caterpillar.

The most risky period in their life is the first 18 days, after that the orange down feathers and barbs thin out, and body and wing feathers emerge fully. During those early days the chick is also similar in size to the 12–centimetre-long moth caterpillar.

By bobbing its head from side to side it gives the appearance of a sliding caterpillar. Movement and appearance combined would probably be enough to deter predators, Londono says.

Adding to the visual illusion is the unusual behaviour of the chick – it does not beg for food as soon as the parent appears, it assumes the new arrival is a potential predator and so it behaves accordingly until the parent gives a particular call.

As well as mimicry, the just-hatched chicks’ bright orange colour could double up as camouflage, as they blend in nicely with the dried leaves lining the nest.

“Mimicry plays a major role in deterring predators, but camouflage is also likely to occur when the nestling is on the nest,” says Londono. “To know more about the relative importance of these strategies in this species, we need studies with larger sample sizes.”

Journal reference: American Naturalist, DOI: 10.1086/679106

See also here.