Animals

Science • Animals
Tasmanian devils are reintroduced to Australia after 3,000-year-absence
Tasmanian devils are reintroduced to Australia after 3,000-year-absence
Credit: Mathias Appel / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

Tasmanian devils are returning back to Australia after a 3,000-year-absence. Eleven of the carnivorous marsupials have been released into a 400-hectare wildlife sanctuary north of Sydney, New South Wales, Australian, the conservation group Aussie Ark that aided in the reintroduction program said in a statement.

"In 100 years, we are going to be looking back at this day as the day that set in motion the ecological restoration of an entire country. Not only is this the reintroduction of one of Australia's beloved animals, but of an animal that will engineer the entire environment around it, restoring and rebalancing our forest ecology after centuries of devastation from introduced foxes and cats and other invasive predators," so Aussie Ark president Tim Faulkner.

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Tasmanian devil returns to mainland Australia
Tasmanian devil returns to mainland Australia
Credit: unsplash.com / David Clode

For the first time in 50 years Tasmanian devils live on the Australian mainland again through a reintroduction action. Since Tasmanian devils play a crucial role in the ecosystem as scavengers, science has made great efforts to re-establish them in the mainland ecosystem. The 26 released animals now live in a 400 hectare fenced area of Wildlife Sanctuary north of Barrington Tops National Park.

Science • Animals
Scientists use false turtle eggs to track illegal egg trade
Scientists use false turtle eggs to track illegal egg trade
Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Scientists have successfully used 3D-printed turtle eggs to track down the journey of robbed turtle eggs. Each of the artificial eggs had a transmitter in them to track the position, and the eggs were placed among 101 turtle nests on four beaches in Costa Rica.

Around a quarter of the fake eggs were stolen, giving the researchers insights into the trade behind the stolen eggs. Most of them remained in the region, giving them the researchers now the opportunity to do more to raise awareness among the population about the damages to the turtle species that are done by consuming the eggs.

According to the study published on the Current Biology journal, "Illegally collected clutches of turtle eggs containing a decoy transmitter enabled us to track the movements of traffickers, and thus gain a better understanding of illegal trade routes."

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France plans to ban the use of wild animals in marine parks and circuses
France plans to ban the use of wild animals in marine parks and circuses
Credit: unsplash.com / Becky Phan

France's minister of ecological transition, Barbara Pompili, has announced that "in the coming years" bears, tigers, lions, elephants and other wild animals will not be banned from being held in traveling circuses.

With immediate effect, the three marine parks located in France won't be allowed to bring in and breed dolphins and killer whales.

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Botswana: Mystery death of elephants solved
Botswana: Mystery death of elephants solved
Credit: Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Earlier this year, hundreds of elephants in northwestern Botswana inexplicably died. The government now states that their death was due to a neurological disorder caused by water contaminated by toxic blue-green algae.

It's unclear why the contaminated water only affected elephants and not other animals.

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T-Rex skeleton for sale
Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton to be auctioned
Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton to be auctioned Credit: CHRISTIE’S

You could soon own a T-Rex skeleton. One of the world's biggest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons, nicknamed Stan, will be auctioned off on October 6. The skeleton could fetch a record price, with estimates as high as $8 million.

Until its auction, the approximately 67-million-year-old Stan can be viewed at Christie's in New York.

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Healthy new baby born to Orca that carried dead calf for 17 days
New calf, J57, with mom, J35
New calf, J57, with mom, J35 Credit: Katie Jones, Center for Whale Research

In the United States waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, a new calf was spotted swimming next to J35. The Center for Whale Research had spotted J57 and stated that they "know that it was not born today because its dorsal fin was upright, and we know that it takes a day or two to straighten after being bent over in the womb". They assigned "its birthday as September 4, 2020".

According to them, the Southern Resident Killer Whales population is now at 73.

The orca whale J35 who is also known as Tahlequah, had carried her dead calf for 17 days and over 1,000 miles two years ago.

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Numbers of elephants in Kenya have doubled over the last three decades
Numbers of elephants in Kenya have doubled over the last three decades
Credit: Kenya Wildlife Service via Facebook

Kenya's Tourism Minister Najib Balala has announced that the authorities of the country have "managed to tame poaching" over the past decades which lead to the doubling of the elephant population in the country.

While in 1989 only 16,000 lived in the country the number has grown to over 34,000 in 2018 according to the Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) John Waweru.

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New Emperor penguin breeding sites have been found by satellites
New Emperor penguin breeding sites have been found by satellites
Credit: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA (Open Government Licence v3.0)

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) - the national Antarctic operation of the United Kingdom - has discovered new breeding sides of Emperor penguins. Through satellite images from the Europan Union's Sentinel-2 the BAS was able to identify the poo of the Penguins giving information about the location.

This discovery lifts the known global population of Emperor penguins by 5-10% as possibly as many as 278,500 pairs are breeding there. The new images have increased the number of known breeding sites from 50 to 61.

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Ecuador discovers fishing fleet of over 260 trawlers around 200 km from Galápagos Islands
Ecuador discovers fishing fleet of over 260 trawlers around 200 km from Galápagos Islands
Credit: amalavida.tv from Ecuador (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Around 200 miles into off the coasts from the Galápagos Islands, about 260 vessels have been spotted. Most of them have Chinese flags and all of them are outside the protected economic zone of 188-miles around the island.

The former minister of environment and conservationist Yolanda Kakabadse has stated that "this fleet’s size and aggressiveness against marine species is a big threat to the balance of species in the Galápagos".

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India: Tiger population has almost doubled in last 12 years
India: Tiger population has almost doubled in last 12 years
Credit: unsplash.com / satya deep

The Indian Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar has announced that India is home to 70% of the world's tiger population. According to him: "in 1973, there were just nine tiger reserves which have now increased to 50" and added that all of the tiger reserves are in good quality.

The published report covering the status of Tigers in India states that 1,923 tigers live in all reserves combined which makes 65 percent of the Indian tiger population.

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Owl rescued out of 40 metres deep airless well
Owl rescued out of 40 metres deep airless well
Credit: Freiwillige Feuerwehr der Stadt Bad Segeberg

After a citizen from the city of Bad Segeberg in northern Germany reported an animal in distress to the police, the Technical Relief Agency and fire brigade were able to rescue an owl from the bottom of an abandoned 40m deep well.

A special measuring device had been lowered on a long line to determine the ambient air in the weel which indicated poor oxygen levels after a few meters. With the help of binoculars and a spotlight, the owl could be spotted at the bottom of the well. The fire brigade then lowered an oxygen bottle into the well to provide the animal with oxygen and the Technical Relief Agency tried to lure it into a new. As this did not work, one of the emergency helpers was equipped with ropes and breathing protection and lowered into the well.

The owl could then be rescued out of the well and will now be looked after by the professionals from the Noctalis Bat Centre, who supported the rescue work the whole time.

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Orca whale, who carried her dead calf for 17 days, is pregnant again
The picture panel above shows her shape change between September 2019, when she was several months into pregnancy, and recently in July 2020 when her increased width at mid body clearly indicates she is in the late stages of pregnancy. Pregnancy in killer whales typically lasts 17-18 months. Photos by SR3 and NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in 2019 and SR3 and SEA in 2020, collected under NMFS research permit 19091.
The picture panel above shows her shape change between September 2019, when she was several months into pregnancy, and recently in July 2020 when her increased width at mid body clearly indicates she is in the late stages of pregnancy. Pregnancy in killer whales typically lasts 17-18 months. Photos by SR3 and NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in 2019 and SR3 and SEA in 2020, collected under NMFS research permit 19091. Credit: SR3 (Reproduction)

The orca whale known as Tahlequah, who carried her dead calf for 17 days and over 1,000 miles two years ago, is pregnant again. The pregnancy was discovered by John Durban, senior scientist of Southall Environmental Associates, and marine mammal research director Holly Fearnbach of the non-profit organisation SR3, who captured drone images of a community of 72 Southern Resident killer whales. The whale community, which is made up of three pods of whales, is frequently seen in the southern end of Vancouver Island and the marine waters of Washington state. Further pregnancies were spotted in all three pods.

Though pregnancies among orca whales are not unusual, Tahlequah's first pregnancy was believed to be the first in about three years among this whale community. Two of the Southern Resident whales have given birth since.

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Vietnam bans import of wild animals
Monkey in Con Son Island, Vietnam
Monkey in Con Son Island, Vietnam Credit: Marek Michalsky

As one of the biggest Asian consumers of wildlife products, Vietnam has announced a suspension of all imports of wild animal species. The prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has signed a directive that bans the import of "dead or alive" wild animals and fathers contains a vow that all illegal markets across Vietnam will be "eliminated".

The order also covers parts of these animals, their eggs or derivatives. The chairman of the anti-animal-trafficking group Freeland, Steven Glaster, has stated that "Vietnam is to be congratulated for recognising that COVID-19 and other pandemics are linked to the wildlife trade".

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Rare yellow turtle discovered by farmer in India
Rare yellow turtle discovered by farmer in India
Credit: @susantananda3 via Twitter (Reproduction)

A rare yellow turtle that has been found by a farmer in eastern India has been handed over to forest conservation experts. The turtle shows features that indicate albinism, mainly its yellow card and pink eyes. Siddhartha Pati, executive director at the Association for Biodiversity Conservation, reported that it had been released back into the wild in Balasore.

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Uganda: Wildlife poaching doubled as tourism income dwindles
Rafiki, a silverback gorilla, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in South Western Uganda was killed in a poaching incident recently
Rafiki, a silverback gorilla, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in South Western Uganda was killed in a poaching incident recently Credit: unsplash.com/Mike Arney

The Uganda Wildlife Authority recorded 367 wildlife poaching cases between February and June, twice as much as during the same period last year. This is due to many people who rely on income from tourism now have turned to poaching to make money or obtain food.

“They set snares for other animals that they want to eat. Like, the small antelope. Or a bushpig," Gladys Kalema Zikusoka, founder and chief of non-profit wildlife group Conservation Through Public Health, said. "They’ll go for those to eat them. And when they set these snares, gorillas can accidentally get caught in the snare. But worse still, we’ve had cases of people spearing gorillas. Yet they were not going for gorillas, they were going for diker and bush pig.”

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Botswana: Mysterious death of hundreds of elephants
Botswana: Mysterious death of hundreds of elephants
Credit: Bernard DUPONT (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Botswana reports the death of hundreds of elephants since May. The cause of their death is still unknown, and Anthrax poisoning has been ruled out. Elephants were found with their tusks, so poaching was also ruled out. Authorities have collected samples which will be tested in Canada, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

"We have had a report of 356 dead elephants in the area north of the Okavango Delta, and we have confirmed 275 so far," reports the director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Cyril Taolo.

Science • Animals
Endangered smoky mouse that had been feared to be extinct discovered alive

After the Australian bushfires in the beginning of 2020 the critically endangered smoky mouse had been feared have become wiped out. Now the New South Wales Office of Environment has spotted multiple of them alive in the Australian Kosciuszko national park. Matt Kean the New South Wales environment minister has stated that "We are relieved and delighted by this news as we were fearing the worst as more than 90% of their habitat was burnt".

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Turmoil due to feral chickens in Auckland suburb
Turmoil due to feral chickens in Auckland suburb
Credit: unsplash.com/William Moreland

In what locals described as "something out of a Stephen King movie", feral chickens have invaded and disturbed peaceful Auckland suburb Titirangi, leaving the neighbourhood "wrecked". In 2019, the number of feral chickens in Titirangi had grown to 250 but most of them were captured and relocated to nearby farms. Amid the lockdown, the birds have returned and are once again disrupting the residents' sleep and damaging the area.

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First animal discovered that doesn't need oxygen

In a study published in the journal of PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists described their findings of a jellyfish-like parasite without oxygen dependency, called Henneguya salminicola. The microscopic parasite has less than 10 cells and has been found to live in salmon muscles. This discovery has changed the assumption that multicellular organisms need a mitochondrial genome to live. The paper further states that "H. salminicola provides an opportunity for understanding the evolutionary transition from an aerobic to an exclusive anaerobic metabolism".

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First brown bear sighting in Spain National Park in 150 years

Documentary makers captured footage of a brown bear, an extremely rare and protected species since 1973, in the Invernadeiro National Park in Northern Spanish. The park's rangers believe the bear has spent the last couple of months in the park and has probably migrated from the Sierra del Caurel mountains which do have a small brown bear population.

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No whales will be killed in Iceland in 2020

Both of the Icelandic companies that hunt and kill whales have announced that they'll forgo killing whales in 2020. This makes the first time in 17 years that no whales will be killed during the summer season in the waters around Iceland. Thee general manager of IP-Utgerd, one of the two companies, has said that the hunting has become more expensive due to an extension of a no-fishing zone near the coasts of the island. Instead the company will focus on fishing sea cucumbers.

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After Australian wildfires: first koalas released back into nature

After being rescued from the wildfires that destroyed large parts of nature in Australia, 12 koalas have been released back into nature, their natural habitat in the Blue Mountains. The Taronga Zoo in Sydney had taken care of the animals and "while they have coped well in care, we are delighted to finally send our koalas home", said Dr. Kellie Leigh the executive director of the Science for Wildlife organization.

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97 endangered sea turtles hatch on a Brazilian beach

The 91 hawksbill sea turtles have hatched on a beach in Paulista in the state of Pernambuco. Only government workers have witnessed the hatching and successful walk of the endangered seat turtles into the Atlantic ocean.

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Colorado Wild Animal Sanctuary has rescued 39 tigers from zoo shown in "Tiger King" on Netflix

The staff of the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado has rescued 39 tigers and three black bears from the roadside zoo shown in the Netflix documentary "Tiger King". The Chief Science and Welfare Officer at the sanctuary, Becca Miceli, has said how difficult it was seeing the exploitation of the animals with them being held in "small enclosures, the indiscriminate breeding" and other forms of abuse. After rescuing the animals the sanctuary now provides them with large open spaces for the animals to run and decide what they want to do for themselves.

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Zookeepers move into Paradise Park zoo to care for animals during pandemic

In order to continue the care for the zoo animals, four zookeepers have moved into a house on the zoo grounds for the next three months, while the zoo itself is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Endangered African Black Rhino population is slowly increasing

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published an update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In the statement, they announced that the number of the endangered Black Rhino population has grown from an estimated 4,845 to 5,630 wild animals between 2012 and 2018. According to the IUCN, the main reasons for the increase are "continuing law enforcement efforts and successful population management measures". Even though the numbers have increased and further population growth is estimated, the Black Rhino stays endangered.