Jun 22
Wild Bactrian camel  (Camelus ferus) photo

Wild Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus)

Species: Wild Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)     

Interesting Fact: In some areas, wild Bactrian camels have developed the ability to drink salt-water slush: they are the only mammals capable of this.

Wild Bactrian camels usually form family groups led by a dominant male, although in the rutting season herds of up to 100 may gather together. These camels migrate vast distances in search of food and water, and feed mainly on shrubs. Their humps are a rich fat store, allowing them to go for long periods without food.

Wild Bactrian camels are well adapted for the harsh desert life. They can conserve water by producing dry faeces and little urine. They also allow their body temperature to fluctuate, limiting water loss through sweat. These camels are able to drink as much as 57 litres at one time in order to replenish lost water reserves. Dense eyelashes and narrow nostrils can be closed tightly in sandstorms, their feet are able to spread widely on sandy ground, and their coat becomes thick and shaggy in the winter to handle temperatures of -30 degrees Celsius. 

A distinct species from domestic camels, wild Bactrian camels were previously found across the deserts of southern Mongolia and north-western China. Centuries of hunting for their meat means that now only fragmented populations remain. Continued persecution, competition with domestic animals and hybridisation with domestic camels further threatens this species. 

The Wild Camel Protection Foundation (WCPF) began a captive breeding programme in 2003 in Mongolia. Wild camels are protected in the Great Gobi Reserve in Mongolia, and the ‘Lop Nur Wild Camel Reserve’ in China, in an effort by both governments to protect this trans-boundary migrating routes.

Find out more about the wild Bactrian camel on the Wild Camel Protection Foundation website

See photos and videos of the wild Bactrian camel on ARKive.

Jun 21

More amazing photos, videos and texts are added to ARKive every alternate week. This week the ARKive team reached a new milestone, we now have over 15,000 species profiles on ARKive! Here is a summary of our latest update:

The stats
  • 34 new species
  • 200 new images
  • 4 new videos
What’s new – our favourite new species
 
Reef manta ray photo

We've added a new profile for the Vulnerable reef manta ray

 

Red-crowned roofed turtle photo

We have also added the Critically Endangered red-crowned roofed turtle

What’s new – our favourite new images

Kloss’s gibbon photo

We have added great new images of Kloss’s gibbon in the wild

What’s new – our favourite new videos

Common agama photo

Check out new videos of the common agama

 

Eastern whip-poor-will photo

We've also added new footage of the oddly named eastern whip-poor-will

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.

Jun 16
Eastern long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bartoni) photo

Eastern long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bartoni)

Species: Eastern long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bartoni)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Interesting Fact: The eastern long-beaked echidna is a monotreme, so unlike most mammals it actually lays eggs instead of giving birth to live young.

The eastern long-beaked echidna looks remarkably like a hedgehog with an elongated snout. Its diet consists almost entirely of earthworms. Using an excellent sense of smell, the echidna can track down prey in dense undergrowth and uses its probing snout to root them out of the leaf letter. It’s long, thin and flexible tongue is covered in a sticky secretion, and instead of teeth it has horny spines at the back of the mouth to grind up prey.

A solitary and nocturnal creature, the eastern long-nosed echidna will dig large burrows to shelter in. When threatened, the echidna can curl up into a ball, showing only spines to a potential predator. A single egg is laid into a pouch on the mothers abdomen. After hatching, the spineless young will continue to grow and develop in the pouch for 6 to 8 weeks, feeding on milk from the mother’s mammary glands.

Intensive hunting, combined with a loss of habitat has pushed the eastern long-beaked echidna into a precarious position. The key populations of this species are now restricted to the highest parts of New Guinea’s mountains. Few conservation measures are currently in place. It is, however, on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which means that international trade in this species is carefully monitored.

Discover more about the eastern long-beaked echidna on the ZSL Edge of Existance website.

See the eastern long-beaked echidna profile on ARKive.

Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Media Researcher

Jun 15

Explore mammals that survive the extremes of the Arctic, discover the Critically Endangered reptiles of India or watch videos of species affected by climate change, all with the help of the new and improved ARKive search.

Whether you start your journey from the search box or the explore menu, it’s now even easier to browse, navigate and filter ARKive’s collection of over 15,000 species as well as our amazing videos, images and topic-led featured pages.

Simple keyword searches provide even better results than before but what we are most excited about is giving you the ability to refine your search results for species and media on ARKive. Whether you want to search by country, taxonomy, conservation status, group, topic, eco-region or even the date things were added – ARKive is your oyster!

Screenshot of ARKive's new and improved search results

Screenshot of ARKive's new and improved search results

ARKive search box

The improved suggestions you see when typing in the ARKive search box

ARKive’s technical team have enjoyed learning about lots of endangered species whilst playing with the cutting-edge technology behind the new search system because there are almost limitless ways to stumble upon fascinating new results.

For example, you can look for all videos of extinct amphibians or all mammals in Uganda. Since you can combine these refinements with a normal keyword search you can find even more specific items such as all images of mammals and amphibians eating grass.

You’ll also notice that we have improved the quick suggestions that drop down after you type a few characters into the main search box – when you know exactly what you’re looking for, this can be a very quick way to jump straight to the correct page on the site.

The software powering our new search is called Solr. Despite Google’s suggestions to the contrary, it has nothing to do with the Sun, nor climate change! The ARKive technical team have been very impressed with its speed and the new features that we can now offer so we hope that you will appreciate it too.

We are keen to start work on more improvements so please help us by offering your feedback on the new ARKive search.

We hope you have as much fun exploring the new search as we have had testing it!

Chris Tomlinson, IT Systems Architect

Jun 14

After a century of decline, the cougar, also known as the puma or the American mountain lion, is now rebounding in parts of the United States.

Cougar (Florida panther) lying on log

Cougar (Florida panther) lying on log

Making a comeback

Despite having the greatest natural distribution of any terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere, cougar populations in the US have drastically declined over the last 100 years, largely due to hunting and reduced prey availability.

Cougar populations in some parts of the United States plummeted to such an extent that in 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the eastern cougar, considered by some scientists as a subspecies of cougar, extinct.

However, according to researchers, the cougar’s population is now rebounding, and the range of this large and versatile predator is now extending outside of its traditional western habitats.

Florida panther scratching at tree trunk

Florida panther scratching at tree trunk

Range expansion

In the past, cougars have been considered a threat to livestock and humans, and in many U.S. states a bounty was paid to hunters for killing these powerful carnivores. As a result, population numbers declined, and the magnificent cougar became restricted to habitat in areas around the Black Hills of Dakota.

Around 40 years ago, cougars were reclassified as a ‘managed game species’, limiting hunting levels and causing the population numbers to grow. Since then, populations of this solitary cat have steadily increased, while its range has expanded across the United States.

Now, researchers have published the first scientific evidence showing that cougars can now be found as far south as Texas and as far north as the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba.

Writing in the Journal of Wildlife Management, researchers say that limits on hunting and the return of large prey species, such as elk and mule deer, have been key to increasing the cougar’s population in the United States, which is now said to number around 30,000 individuals.

Florida panther warning sign for motorists

Florida panther warning sign for motorists

 

Cougars are territorial animals and as populations have grown, these big cats have been forced to extend their range in an effort to reduce competition.

What’s happening is that, as the young males are moving out of the areas they were born in, they are coming into contact with other young males and they don’t have anywhere else to go so they’re kind of being forced out of these western populations and into these areas of vacant habitats in the mid west,” says Michelle LaRue, one of the authors of the study from the University of Minnesota.

To confirm the cougar’s range expansion, the research team used sightings, carcasses, DNA evidence and cases of attacks on livestock across 14 states and provinces. According to the scientists, the spread of the cougar is likely to continue.

I would assume that with the continued management practices that have allowed for the rebound, cougars have the potential to continue to move eastward into areas of available habitat,” said LaRue.

Read the full story on the BBC – Cougars make a comeback after a century of decline

Find out more about the cougar on ARKive

Helen Roddis, ARKive Text Author

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