Jul 29

It’s no secret that the ARKive Education team enjoys creating fun, interactive and educational activities using ARKive’s extensive collection of threatened wildlife imagery. But, to be honest, the best part of the job is play-testing all of our new resources with kids in the classroom!

Recently, we’ve launched two new education resources and we couldn’t have done so without first trying them out with helpful educators and eager students. Here’s a look at the newest additions to the ARKive Education teaching resources and a peek into the work that goes into creating them.

ARKive Geographic: Biodiversity Around The World

ARKive Geographic - Exploring the World's Biodiversity

ARKive Geographic: Biodiversity Around the World introduces students to concepts of biodiversity and helps to open their eyes to the incredible variety of plant and animal species around the globe. The activity consists of custom-made ARKive species cards that are included in the activity pack along with a map of the continents that can be printed as large or as small as the teacher likes to fit the size of the classroom.

By placing the species cards around the world via the continent maps, students get a glimpse of just how biologically diverse Earth really is!

Students take turns holding up their species card and quizzing fellow students on the biological information on the back.

Students take turns holding up their species card and quizzing fellow students on the biological information on the back.

To create this lesson, we worked with a local teacher to iron out the basics of the new activity and then got to work drafting up Teacher’s Notes, a suggested classroom Power Point presentation and any additional handouts for the session. We then visited the teacher’s classroom to play-test the nearly final product and to make any tweaks after the students have completed the activity.

We also play-tested this activity in Chicago during our Biodiversity Quest pilot program.

ARKive staff visit the classroom to introduce ARKive and play-test new education modules.

ARKive staff visit the classroom to introduce ARKive and play-test new education modules.

 Lonely Planet: An Introduction to Endangered Species

Endangered Species Bingo

Who doesn’t like to play a round of Bingo? We’ve found that kids (and adults!) of all ages enjoy this timeless game and when you involve images of species that are rarely seen, it makes it even better. In this new activity, students are introduced to the definition of an endangered species and some of the factors that contribute to a species’ status. After a presentation and class discussion, it’s time to reinforce this new knowledge with a round or two of Endangered Species Bingo!

Having spotted one of the species called out during Endangered Species Bingo, a student marks it off on her game card.

Having spotted one of the species called out during Endangered Species Bingo, a student marks it off on her game card.

While working with an educator to create this activity, she mentioned that, instead of putting the letters B-I-N-G-O across the top, why not exchange them with the different species’ conservation statuses: Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, Critically Endangered, Extinct. We then filled the columns underneath with species from ARKive that currently have that status. This was a great suggestion and helped students understand the different conservation categories. An even better idea came from one of the students who, while playing the game, suggested the winners shout out ‘ARKive’ instead of ‘Bingo’!

You can find both of these new resources on ARKive Education now. If you use these or any other activities from ARKive Education in the classroom, please tell us about it. We just might publish your story on ARKive to share with other teachers around the world.

Liana Vitali, ARKive Science, Education and Outreach Officer, Wildscreen USA

Jul 28

We’ve all had those mornings where we just want to hit the snooze button for five more minutes and most people would agree that some days are harder to get out of bed than others. Well, you may be surprised to learn there are species in the animal kingdom that just might agree with you.

We’ve compiled our top ten list of ARKive’s sleepiest critters…let’s see if you are still yawning by the end of it!

Wiped out fellow

Photo of gentoo penguin chick sleeping

I would be tired too if I were capable of impressive diving feats like the gentoo penguin who can pursue prey up 170 metres or 550 feet deep down in the ocean.

Sweet sleeper

Photo of a sleeping arctic fox club

Although taking a moment to catch up on some sleep here, the Arctic fox is usually always on the search for food and amazingly, can reduce its metabolism by half, while still being active, to help conserve energy while on the hunt.

Sprawled out slumber 

Photo of a male brown bear sleeping

It’s well known that most bears hibernate through the winter months but sometimes it’s worth a reminder about how truly unique this process is. Once brown bears enter their hibernation period, they don’t eat, drink, urinate or defecate for up to six months!  Could you imagine not getting out of bed for anything for 6 months?

Chameleons catch forty winks

Parson's chameleon sleeping, photo

It seems as though Parson’s chameleons start off as sleepy critters. With one of the longest incubations periods in the reptile world, it takes a whopping 20 months for a Parson’s chameleon egg to hatch. I guess if I had a nice safe place to sleep, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to hatch either!

Out for the count

Photo of African lions sleeping

It’s not surprising to catch all these big cats sleeping in the middle of the day. Lions are inactive 20 out of 24 hours a day and reserve their energy for the cool and darker times of day, such as sunrise and sunset, to hunt.

Submerged snoozer

Photo of a Florida manatee sleeping on river bed

Manatees need to come up for air approximately every 20 minutes or less making them the top napping species on the list. Since manatees never leave the water, they don’t experience long periods of slumber like humans and so frequent, short bouts of sleep while resting on the ocean floor are enough for them.

Daytime dozer

Photo of a little owl sleeping

Although most owls are nocturnal, meaning they are active at night and mostly inactive during the day, the little owl is actually diurnal and prefers to do most of its hunting during the day. This little owl, however, seems to have taken the opportunity to catch a few winks before bedtime.

Curled up to catch z’s

Photo of a common dormouse hibernating

The dormouse is such a sleepy creature that its name is thought to derive from the French word ‘dormir’ meaning ‘to sleep’. When ready to begin hibernation, which can last up to 7 months, the dormouse enters a state of extreme torpor where its body processes slow to a fraction of their normal rate.

Cat-napping koala

Photo of koala sleeping in branches

Another sleepy species, the koala spends a vast majority of its time snoozing away and even when awake, it’s a very sedentary species. You’ll find koalas often catching Z’s while balancing on branches in trees well out of harm’s way.

What a yawn! 

Thylacine with mouth agape

Although extinct, we still know some very interesting facts about this species and that when it yawned, the thylacine could open its jaw wider than any mammal on the planet. Are you yawning yet?

Can you find other sleepy creatures on ARKive? Can you think of other interesting species sleeping facts? Why not share them with us in the comments below!

Liana Vitali, ARKive Science, Education and Outreach Officer, Wildscreen USA

Jul 28

Populations of tigers, elephants, rhinos and many other species are being decimated by immense organised crime syndicates and the illegal wildlife trade, according to a recent paper by WCS conservationist Elisabeth Bennett.

Photo of a Sumatran tigress

Sumatran tigress

Illegal trade in wildlife parts is becoming increasingly sophisticated, backed by highly efficient organised crime rings. This, coupled with dated enforcement methods, is causing populations of some of the world’s most charismatic species to plummet on an unprecedented scale.

The paper, published last month in Oryx, suggests that much of the trade is driven by wealthy East Asian markets that have a ‘seemingly insatiable appetite’ for wildlife parts.

Demand driven by East Asian markets

High-value body parts and products, such as rhino horn and bear bile, are just two of the much sought after items often destined for East Asian markets. Each year, international organisations such as TRAFFIC and CITES report on hundreds of cases of illegal trade in wildlife from around the world.

According to Bennett, sophisticated smuggling operations carried out by organised crime syndicates have allowed the gangs to devastate wildlife populations more than ever before.

Photo of skins of poached Indian rhinoceros, Nepal

Skins of poached Indian rhinoceros, Nepal

Current enforcement systems were not established to tackle wildlife crime seen on today’s scale, and weak governance and inadequate resources facilitate the flourishing trade. The paper highlights some of the elaborate methods used by the crime rings, including hidden compartments in shipping containers, rapidly changing smuggling routes to avoid detection, and the use of e-commerce (buying and selling online), making it difficult to detect locations.

“Unless we start taking wildlife crime seriously and allocating the commitment of resources appropriate to tackling sophisticated, well-funded, globally-linked criminal operations, populations of some of the most beloved but economically prized, charismatic species will continue to wink out across their range, and, appallingly, altogether” says Bennett.

Urgent need for law enforcement

In her paper, Bennett highlights that enforcement of wildlife laws is an immediate short-term solution to stave off local extinction of wildlife.

Enforcement includes everything from increasing the numbers of staff at all points of the trade chain, to ensuring that staff are highly trained and well-equipped. New technology may also help with enforcing wildlife laws, such as smart-phone apps with species identification programs.

Photo of a guard showing all the animal traps collected within two months in Virunga National Park, habitat of the mountain gorilla

Guard showing all the animal traps collected within two months in Virunga National Park, habitat of the mountain gorilla

Enforcement is critical,” says Bennett, “Old-fashioned in concept but needing increasingly advanced methods to challenge the ever-more sophisticated methods of smuggling. When enforcement is thorough, and with sufficient resources and personnel, it works.”

Success in tackling the devastating illegal trade in wildlife, says Bennett in her paper, will necessitate commitment from governments and non-governmental organizations and the support of civil society.

Read the WCS Press Release.

Read the paper in Oryx.

Helen Roddis, ARKive Species Text Author

Jul 28

New species and more photos, videos and texts are added to ARKive every alternate week. Here is a summary of this week’s update: 

The stats 

  • 168 new species
  • 783 new photos
  • 57 new videos
  • 17 new media donors
  • 27 new texts

What’s new – our favourite new species

Photo of St John's rollandia with flowers

One of our Most Wanted species, the Critically Endangered St John's rollandia.

What’s new – our favourite new image

Photo of a dwarf minke whale

Beautiful new images from Mark Carwardine, including this common minke whale.

What’s new – our favourite new videos

Photo of Suriname toad with young emerging from its back

New footage showing Suriname toadlets 'hatching' from the adult’s back.

Photo of a Magnificent bird-of-paradise

Stunning footage of a male magnificent bird-of-paradise displaying to a female.

Get involved!

If you have any photos, footage or species information that you think we should add into ARKive please let us know. There are many ways to get involved with ARKive, from contributing your photos to just spreading the word about us – every little helps!

Full details 

Subscribe to our RSS feeds for full details of what’s new to ARKive.

Jul 28

Currently the most popular video on ARKive, the osprey is definitely deserving of the limelight. This widespread and magnificent bird of prey occurs on every continent except Antarctica, and is an agile aerial predator. It feeds almost exclusively on live fish which it spots using its excellent eyesight before plunging into the water to snatch the unfortunate fish with its long talons.

Photo of an osprey

Osprey fishing

The courtship display of the osprey involves more aerial acrobatics with the male making repeated flights over the chosen nesting site whilst clasping nesting material or a fish. The large stick nest can be built in a number of places including high up in a tree, on a cliff, rocky outcrop, telephone pole, dilapidated building, or even just on the ground.

Photo of an osprey carrying nesting material while in flight

Osprey with nesting material

Female osprey lay around two to four eggs which, once hatched, require a plentiful supply of fish in order to keep the chicks well fed. Although the young may leave the nest after only a month and a half, they remain dependent on the parent birds to feed them for another two to three months, that’s a lot of extra fish!

Photo of osprey adult feeding young

Osprey feeding young

To see the amazing osprey in action, watch ARKive’s most popular video.

Becky Moran, ARKive Media Researcher


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