Apr 17

It’s that time of year again (arguably our favorite time of year) when ARKive staff in the US have the chance to talk to thousands of science teachers from across the country and even abroad. Of course, we’re talking about the National Science Teachers Association, where nearly 10,000 science educators came to Indianapolis to celebrate all things science!

ARKive at NSTA

What did we do?

Over the course of three days, we spoke to over 500 teachers who told us stories about everyday life in their science classrooms and the different ways they plan on using ARKive in the future. One elementary teacher said she’d like to use the convenient, short video clips during transitions from rowdy outdoor recess to quiet and focused indoor learning. A college professor liked that many species pages include links to organizations that are working to save species from extinction and was brainstorming a conservation project for her students requiring them to reach out to an organization to identify an action that students can take today, in their hometown, to help save species.

ARKive at NSTA

We also hosted a session called “ARKive.org: Creating virtual learning experiences within conservation education” that was attended by a variety of educators who taught different age groups and disciplines.  As an introduction to the 30+ ARKive Education resources, participants put on their thinking caps and imagined all sorts of new mini-beasts as part of the Marvellous Mini-beasts – Design a Species lesson. One imagined species was a beetle with legs poking out all around its center making it “able to scurry in any direction with the blink of an eye!”

Our Creative Climate Change Twitter Challenge

During NSTA, ARKive was hosting the Creative Climate Change Challenge, encouraging young people around the world to come up with a unique way to spread the word about climate change, from rapping to poetry and more. We took a tech-savvy spin on this at our conference booth and asked teachers with Twitter accounts to come up with their best creative caption for the images below. By tweeting their caption, they were entered into a draw for a signed copy of Jane Goodall’s “Hope for Animals and Their World”.

Some of our favorite tweets included:

Polar bear: “Man, this iceberg used to be a whole lot bigger!”

Polar bear photo

Woodland jumping mouse: “Oh no, where has all the snow gone? Thanks a lot, climate change!”

Woodland jumping mouse photo

Emperor penguin: “Last one in is a frozen egg!”

Emperor penguin photo

We’re already making big plans for NSTA next year including the unveiling of a whole new ARKive Education program. However, we can’t spill the beans just yet, but be sure to stay up-to-date with ARKive in the coming weeks to find out more!

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

Apr 14

This week we’ve crossed The Atlantic once more to find out if, like Ellie, the Wildscreen USA team think sea life is supreme or if their loyalties lay with life on land.

Maggie Graham – Program Assistant, Wildscreen USA

Favourite species? Lion

Why? They are a symbol of raw courage, beauty and freedom to me.

Favourite image on ARKive:

Lion image

The lion is classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Conflicts with farmers are not uncommon as much of the lion’s original range has been converted into agricultural land, reducing the amount of available prey and habitat and providing new, easily accessible prey in the form of cattle. In certain areas, lions are viewed as pest species and are often shot or poisoned.

See more photos and videos of the lion on ARKive.

Apr 13
Female gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) photo

Female gharial (Gavialis gangeticus)

Species: Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Interesting fact: The gharial is one of the largest crocodilians and has the narrowest snout!

Named after the bulbous nasal appendage of the male (which resembles an Indian pot called a ‘ghara’), the gharial is a unique species of crocodilian found in India and Nepal. A true piscivore, the extremely narrow snout of the gharial is superbly adapted to whip through the water quickly to snatch fish with its small, razor-sharp teeth. The gharial has relatively weak legs, and when fully grown is unable to raise its body off the ground. This may explain why it is one of the most aquatic of all crocodilians! The ghara on the male may be used as a visual sex indicator, a sound resonator or a bubbling devise used during courtship, although its exact function remains unknown.

The gharial came close to extinction in the 1970s, prompting a long-term captive breeding and re-introduction program. The gharial is still suffering huge declines as damming, irrigation and mining by an ever-growing human population cause habitat loss and degradation. The gharial survives in just 2% of its previous range, and as few as 200 breeding adults remain in the wild. Current conservation programmes aim to protect the gharial habitat and remaining populations.

For more information on the gharial and its conservation, visit the Gharial Conservation Alliance website.

 View images and videos of the gharial on ARKive.

Apr 12

When biologist and photographer Alexandr Pospech got in touch with ARKive to offer some rare primate images we were understandably excited. During June 2011, Alex explained that he had participated in an expedition and study led by Brent Loken of Ethical Expeditions in the Wehea forest, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. In order to monitor the local wildlife, the team set up camera traps around a newly discovered mineral spring or ‘sepan’, and when checking the images three weeks later they turned up some surprising results.

Miller's grizzled langur photo

Dr. Stanislav Lhota confirmed that the team had recorded images of Miller’s grizzled langur, an Endangered subspecies of Hose’s langur. Miller’s grizzled langur is extremely rare and was previously listed as one of the world’s 25 most endangered primates – at one time some people even feared that it may have become extinct. The team’s discovery not only confirmed that a population of Miller’s grizzled langurs remains, it also provided evidence that the subspecies’ range extends further than previously thought.

Miller's grizzled langur photo

With the help of his assistant Yatim, Alexandr visited the place several times during following week and was able to build hides in which he spent 3 days in order to observe and photograph the langurs, producing the first ever high quality images of this rare subspecies, which he has kindly contributed to ARKive.

Miller's grizzled langur photo

Alexandr told us “I put a lot of energy into my photos with the goal of helping nature conservation. The days spent on photographing these langurs were extremely exhausting. When I came back late in the evening, took care of all the photo equipment and prepared for the next day, there were only about 3 hours left to sleep before setting up to the forest again. When I first saw the langurs in the viewfinder, I knew the effort was worth it. But the task of protecting wildlife all over the World has just started. And everyone can help.”

Make sure you check out Alexandr’s images on ARKive, and read more about his work on his website. You can also read the article produced by the team, which was published earlier this year in the American Journal of Primatology.

Claire Lewis, ARKive Media Researcher

Apr 11

This week, the Russian government resolved to establish a new National Park to protect the majestic and Critically Endangered Amur leopard.

Amur leopard image

The beautiful Amur leopard is thought to be the world's most threatened wild cat

Feline rarity

With fewer than 50 individuals remaining in the wild, the Amur leopard is thought to be the world’s rarest wild cat, and the creation of a new protected area in Russia is an important step towards the conservation of this highly threatened species.

Situated in Primorsky Province in Russia’s Far East, the 262,000 hectare Land of the Leopard National Park covers 60% of all remaining Amur leopard habitat and encompasses all known breeding grounds for this species.

The establishment of the park marks the positive culmination of more than a decade of work by WWF.

Amur leopards are literally teetering on the brink of extinction,” says Sybille Klenzendorf, head of WWF’s Species Program. “With the establishment of Land of the Leopard National Park, in conjunction with other conservation efforts, we can now start to focus on how to begin bringing them back.”

Amur leopard image

The Amur leopard is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List

Land of the Leopard National Park

Amur leopards live in the temperate forests of Russia’s Far East, between Vladivostok and the Chinese border. At present, Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve and Leopardoviy Federal Wildlife Refuge are the only Amur leopard habitats in Russia, and the Land of the Leopard National Park will encompass parts of both of these areas, as well as some territory surrounding the two parks.

The establishment of Land of the Leopard National Park is certainly a positive step forwards, but care must be taken to ensure that preservation measures across the entire area are put into place to protect the health of the leopard habitat. Several military facilities are located within the Leopardoviy refuge, and poor forest management can aggravate the problem of forest fires in the area. Last month, almost 1,500 hectares of leopard habitat was destroyed as a result of a fire.

Following an investment of more than $16 million from the Russian government, the new park is set to include several ‘zones’. A 30,000 hectare zone will be strictly protected, and includes some of the most important leopard habitat areas on the Borisovskoe Plateau. A further 120,000 hectare area will be created along the Russia-China border, and will be subject to a special management routine with limited access by special permit only. An economic development zone will include all farmlands, lands around towns and military territories, while the remaining area will be deemed a recreational zone to be used for the development of eco-tourism.

Amur leopard image

The Amur leopard has been hunted to extinction in most of its range

Further benefits

The establishment of the new reserve will help to protect many other species besides the Amur leopard, including the Siberian tiger. Russia recently ended the logging of cedar trees in tiger habitat, resulting in an increase in cedar nuts, which in turn led to a boost in the wild boar population, a favourite prey of the stealthy big cat.

Recent surveys have revealed that ten of the world’s 450 Siberian tigers are present within the Land of the Leopard National Park, and will therefore be afforded additional protection.

Approximately ten Amur leopards are known to be present in China, which has two wildlife reserves on its side of the border. As a next step, WWF has announced that it hopes to establish a cross-border reserve territory to expand the available leopard habitat and allow the animals to move freely between countries.

Read more on this story at WWF Russia – Land of the Leopard National Park is established.

Learn more about the Amur leopard on ARKive.

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Species Text Author

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