Wildlife

Science • Animals
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.

Politics • African
Zimbabwe: Coal mining banned in national parks
Elephants at a water hole in the Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
Elephants at a water hole in the Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe Credit: JackyR / Wikimedia Commons

Zimbabwe banned coal mining in all national parks. Previously the country allowed two Chinese firms to explore for coal in the country's biggest national park Hwange. The decision came after campaigners, in an effort to prevent "ecological degradation" in parks, took the government to court.

Numerous species live in the national parks, including 40,000 elephants and the endangered black rhino.

"Steps are being undertaken to immediately cancel all mining titles held in national parks," Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said as she announced the ban. The ban is effective with immediate effect.

Science • Animals
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.

Science • Animals
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.

Science • Animals
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.

Science • Animals
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.

Science • Animals
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.

Science • Animals
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".

Science • Animals
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.

Science • Animals
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.”

Science • Animals
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
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.