ThinkingShift species watch

July 4, 2007 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

Over 3,000 people in one day visited my recent post on endangered species, so I will assume one of two things. Either a whole bunch of you out there are interested like me in what’s happening to our fellow species; or over 3,000 people became lost in cyberspace at around about the same time and accidentally stumbled onto the post. Mmmm….think I’ll go for the first assumption! In light of this, I’ve been on the lookout for some good news about endangered species to share with you. There are some wonderful efforts at species recovery or discovery and this post highlights the top ones I’ve found so far. You may know of others, so leave a comment if you like.

070622-bat-picture.jpgThe world’s ugliest bat? I’ve never been a fan of bats; I think I watched too many vampire movies as I was growing up and the poor mammal has a dark and dreadful reputation that’s not really deserved. So National Geographic brings us news that the Maclaud’s Horseshoe Bat has been photographed for the first time whilst going about its business in Guinea, West Africa. It certainly isn’t the prettiest animal I’ve ever seen but 16 members of the species decided it was time to parade for a glossy photo shoot so the world could finally see this cheeky-looking bat. The Maclaud’s bat, with its frilly-face, is one of about 70 known species of horseshoe bat and many more appear to exist than thought. The skinflaps (or noseleafs) around the bat’s nose aid in echo location. Apparently, this bat is very sensitive to its environment, which is rich in iron ore. Let’s hope its habitat isn’t threatened. Photo credit: National Geographic.

Bald eagles. On the brink of extinction, the US Bald Eagle has made a dramatic resurgence and has just been removed from the endangered and threatened species list. Considering this regal looking bird is the US National symbol, it would have been tragic if the eagle had snuffed it. Apparently, the bald eagle once existed in every US state except Hawaii but was shot or poisoned mainly by farmers until only 417 nesting pairs were left in the lower 48 states by 1963. Decades of hard work by conservationists and volunteers has resulted in there now being 9,789 breeding pairs – the largest population since World War II. Let’s hope this eagle continues to soar.

Siberian Tigers. These are amongst the world’s rarest animals and fewer than 400 of them survive in the wild, mainly in China and Russia. Human activities and poaching have encroached on this elegant cat’s habitat but 84 cubs have just been born at a northeastern China breeding centre. The plan is to train the cubs to survive in the wild. Let’s hope the cubs don’t eventually face the fate of Xiang Xiang – the captive bred Chinese panda who was released back into the wild and died in February 2007.

National Geographic imageThe Mona Lisa of birds. National Geographic sports news of the first photo of a rare, smiling bird. Seems lots of species are coming out these days for their photo shoot! The bird is the recurve-billed bushbird and has been rediscovered in Colombia after a 40 year absence. The curving beak gives the impression that this little chap is smiling, happy to have an audience of admirers. The researchers also found and photographed the extremely rare Perija parakeet, of which only 30 to 50 individuals likely survive. Photo credit: National Geographic.

An unexpected migration. Southern Sudan has been subject to years of war, desertification of the land, poaching, hunting and drought. It’s a wonder anything lives there let alone more than a million animals. News from Live Science tells us that elephants, buffalo, ostrichs, giraffes, lions and a rare type of stork have been spotted migrating across the Southern Sudan region. A huge surprise considering no animals have been seen in the region over the last 25 years! An impressive comeback indeed. Since 2005, scientists have been able to take aerial photographs and surveys and were stunned to see around 8,000 elephants along with other animals and they believe this to be the third largest migration of animals. I’ve seen the migration of zebra, wilderbeest and so on in the Masai Mara, Kenya. I will always remember the landscape filled to the brim with all kinds of animals silently walking side by side from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya. A conservationist said: “I think what we found in Sudan is nothing short of extraordinary“.

Rare giant mussel. The BBC has news that a rare giant mussel, previously thought to be extinct has been discovered (or is that rediscovered) in Irish waters. Known as the fan mussel, it was only thought to swim in the waters of Plymouth Sound and off the west of Scotland. Divers from the Environment and Heritage Service and the Ulster Museum came face to face with the mussel and also discovered two species of sea anemone, one of which may be a new species. The mussel has now had a photo shoot and its location will be kept a secret – good idea since it’s very vulnerable to polluted waters and trawling.

Flickr photo from heyjules45 publicAnd to finish this post: news that is more curious really -when squirrels go wild. Some Germans were on the suffering end of a rampage from a squirrel. Three people in a German town were attacked by an aggressive squirrel recently. The squirrel began its rampage by running into a house, where it leapt onto a woman and sank its teeth into her hand. With the squirrel hanging from her hand, the woman (who was pretty alarmed!) ran into the street and managed to shake the animal off. But the squirrel was up for some more and ran onto a construction site where it jumped onto an unsuspecting construction worker and bit his hand and arm. Up for more, the feisty squirrel then rushed off into an elderly man’s garden, attacked the man, but was despatched by the man’s cane. Apparently, the squirrel may have been ill or suffering from the ecstasy of mating season. Either way, when I next see a furry, cute-looking squirrel, I will be very cautious indeed:)-

And of course, to all US ThinkingShift readers – happy American Independence Day!


Entry filed under: Animals, Endangered species, ThinkingShift species watch.

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