Dec 28
Photo of Maathai's longleg male holotype

Maathai’s longleg (Notogomphus maathaiae)

Species: Maathai’s longleg (Notogomphus maathaiae)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: First described in 2005, Maathai’s longleg is a clubtail dragonfly belonging to the genus Notogomphus.

More information:

Also known as Maathai’s clubtail, this dragonfly is commonly referred to as ‘longleg’ on account of its extended hind thighs. Maathai’s longleg is a fairly dark-coloured dragonfly, distinguishable thanks to the bright green markings on the sides of its thorax.

Dragonflies start their life as aquatic nymphs. They pass through a series of developmental stages and undergo several moults as they grow before metamorphosis occurs. There is no evidence to suggest that this species is seasonal. Two female Maathai’s longlegs have been observed laying eggs in water.

Maathai’s longleg has been recorded from the forests of Mount Elgon National Park, Katamayu Forest and Marioshoni Forest, Kenya. It is found from around 2,200 to 2,600 metres above sea level, in and around clear montane forested streams.

The forest habitat on which this species appears to rely has been widely destroyed in recent decades, and Maathai’s longleg is therefore presumed to have suffered significant declines. As deforestation continues, this rare dragonfly is expected to be up-listed to Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List before too long.

In the densely populated Kenyan highlands, Maathai’s longleg serves as an indicator of habitat quality and is therefore being promoted as a flagship species to raise awareness of the need to protect the natural forest and watershed. Protection of its riverside forests will not only help this endangered dragonfly, but also the farmers of the foothills, by guaranteeing soil stability and a steady flow of water. To this end, dragonflies such as this species are being dubbed the ‘guardians of the watershed’ in East Africa, helping to raise their profile in the field of conservation.

 

Find out more about Maathai’s longleg at Enchanted Landscapes.

See images of Maathai’s longleg on ARKive.

Phoebe Shaw Stewart, ARKive Text Author

 

Dec 22

With the holidays approaching and Christmas just around the corner, the ARKive team brings you their guide to the ultimate festive films, with a wildlife twist of course!

Dove Actually

Collared dove photo

These collared doves could give the actors in this romantic comedy a run for their money when it comes to courtship!

Elf(in skimmer)

Elfin skimmer photo

While Buddy is probably the tallest elf you’ve ever seen, the elfin skimmer is the smallest dragonfly in North America!

The Polar (Bear) Express

Polar bear photo 

Although they may look bulky, polar bears can actually reach speeds of about 40 kilometres per hour over short distances!

How the Finch Stole Christmas!

 Greenfinch photo

This greenfinch might not have stolen Christmas, but he doesn’t look too happy at the thought of someone stealing his berries!

Jingle All the Ray

 Reef manta ray photo

These reef manta rays might not have to brave a toy store on Christmas Eve, but this feeding frenzy looks almost as chaotic!

The Nightjar Before Christmas

 Nightjar photo

While it may not really be the stuff  of nightmares, the eerie nightjar is most active during the twilight and superstition has it that this species used to steal milk from goats! 

Home Abalone

 Black abalone photo

It may not be completely ‘alone’ yet, but sadly the black abalone is Critically Endangered and has suffered serious declines.

Jack(daw) Frost

 Jackdaw photo

While the jackdaw might not be much use in a snowball fight, this handsome member of the crow family does have distinctive frosty blue eyes!

Barnacle on 34th Street

 Goose barnacle photo

It might not be miraculous, but it was once widely believed that barnacle geese developed from goose barnacles like these on the sides of ships!

The Muppet Christmas Caracal

 Caracal photo

With ears this large, the caracal wouldn’t look out of place in a Muppets line up!

Can you think of any other festive wildlife films we’ve missed? Post your suggestions in the comments section below!

Claire Lamb, ARKive Content & Outreach Officer

Dec 21
Photo of snow leopard lying in snow

Snow leopard (Panthera uncia)

Species: Snow leopard (Panthera uncia)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: At almost a metre long, the thick tail of the snow leopard is used for balance and can be wrapped around the animal’s body for warmth.

More information:

The beautiful snow leopard  has smoky-white fur with a yellow tinge, and is patterned with dark grey to black spots. The snow leopard has many adaptations for its cold habitat, such as long body hair, thick, woolly belly fur and large paws. It has unusually large nasal cavities to warm the cold, thin air as it is breathed in.

Snow leopards are solitary animals and are most active at dawn and dusk. They are opportunistic predators, capable of killing prey up to three times their own weight. Snow leopards usually have two or three cubs per litter, which become independent of their mother at around two years old.

The majority of snow leopards are located in the Tibetan region of China, although fragmented populations are also found in the harsh, mountainous areas of central Asia. They are generally found at elevations between 3,000 and 4,500 metres, in steep terrain broken by cliffs, ridges, gullies and rocky outcrops.

The natural prey of this majestic species has been hunted out of many areas of the high central Asian mountains, and the snow leopard turns to domestic stock as an alternative source of food. This can incite retaliation from local farmers. Snow leopard fur was once highly prized in the international fashion world, and around 1,000 pelts were traded per year in the 1920s. A further threat to this species is the increasing demand for its bones for traditional Oriental medicine.

The snow leopard is protected throughout most of its range, and international trade is banned by this species’ listing on Appendix I of CITES. The International Snow Leopard Trust and the Snow Leopard Conservancy are the world’s leading organisations dedicated to conserving this endangered cat. Local people are involved in various conservation initiatives and there are plans to link fragmented populations by habitat corridors.

 

Find out more about the snow leopard at the Snow Leopard Trust and the Snow Leopard Conservancy.

See images and videos of the snow leopard on ARKive.

Phoebe Shaw Stewart, ARKive Text Author

 

Dec 20

We live on an amazing planet

From the mighty blue whale to the diminutive pygmy seahorse, the myriad life forms with which we share this world are an endless source of wonder and awe.

ARKive's blue whale species page

ARKive's pgymy seahorse species page

 

Wildlife photographs and films are essential for sparking the connection between people and nature. Of the 1.3 million or so plants and animals discovered and named by science so far, the average human will only personally encounter a fraction of these species. Images and films are the only way the faces and stories of many species are shared.

This is the heart of ARKive’s mission; to use the power of stunning wildlife imagery to inspire everyone to discover, value and protect our amazing natural world. 

Please donate

This holiday season, your donation will help us to continue to bring the natural world into the hearts and homes of people around the world. No donation is too small and every donation of $15 or greater will be matched by a family foundation that passionately supports ARKive.

Planning to do your holiday shopping online?

AmazonSmile is a simple way to support your favorite charity: ARKive!  Amazon Smile has the same prices, products and tools as Amazon.com but with the added benefits of supporting ARKive while you shop! Click on the link below, search for and select WildscreenUSA (spearheading ARKive efforts in the US) and start shopping. Through Amazon Smile, 0.5 % of your purchase will go towards supporting the work of ARKive both in the US and worldwide.

ARKive's Amazon Smile link

Click to start donating 0.5% of your purchases to ARKive

No matter which donation option you choose, we are incredibly grateful for your support. With a helping hand from you,

ARKive's Sumatran orangutan species page

we can work together to keep ARKive a free and inspirational resource for all!

Happy holidays,

The ARKive Team

Dec 17

The Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA), Rainforest Trust, Global Wildlife Conservation and the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation have committed one million dollars to protect vital frog habitats around the world in the coming year.

Current figures from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimate that around 30.2% of amphibian species are currently under threat of extinction, with 12.5% of birds and 20.6% of mammals also at risk. These statistics show that amphibians are by far the most threatened group of species and its members are in dire need of conservation efforts to secure their future survival. Amphibians are at the forefront of what is being described as the ‘sixth mass extinction event on earth’, with 120 species disappearing in recent years and around 7,000 amphibian species in decline.

Southern gastric-brooding frog image

The southern gastric-brooding frog is thought to have gone extinct in 1981

Sensitive souls

The class Amphibia contains frogs, salamanders, caecilians and toads, among many others. As a group, amphibians are extremely sensitive to environmental change and are often the first species to become locally extinct in a disturbed habitat.

It is thought that habitat loss is the primary threat to amphibian populations around the world, and the Leapfrog Conservation Fund will be used for management and protection of key habitats. Don Church, Executive Director of the ASA, said, “Habitat loss is the single biggest threat to the survival of amphibians worldwide. This million-dollar commitment represents a landmark in the battle to stem the alarming loss of frogs, salamanders and caecilians. We hope that it will encourage others to step forward and make a commitment to protecting amphibians and habitats.”

Although habitat loss is thought to be the primary cause of global declines, many other factors are also decreasing amphibian population numbers, including climate change, invasive species, over-collection and diseases such as chytridiomycosis.

Lemur leaf frog image

The Critically Endangered lemur leaf frog exists in just a few pockets of its former range due to the negative effects of habitat loss and chytridiomycosis

Action plan

The million-dollar Leapfrog Conservation Fund will be dispersed through the ASA and will be used to manage key amphibian habitats around the world. It is thought that there are around 940 amphibian species living in unprotected areas around the world, and many of these species have a very restricted range, which may be as small as a single stream or pond. The most threatened habitats will be prioritised and targeted for protection. As well as having a positive effect on the amphibians within the habitat, the fund will undoubtedly help to boost populations of other species.

Western Ghats waterfall image

Areas such as the Western Ghats rely on their amphibian biodiversity to sustain the ecosystem

Success story

Previous alliances between the ASA and other conservation organisations have been very successful. The forest of Sierra Caral in Guatemala was at risk of being destroyed for agriculture, before a team of amphibian specialists surveyed the area, finding 12 amphibian species, 5 of which were endemic to the area. Funds are now being raised to further protect the area and the species which inhabit it.

Partnerships are the key to success,” said Robin Moore, Conservation Officer with the ASA, Rainforest Trust and Global Wildlife Conservation. “We all have a stake in the future of our environment, and what is truly exciting about the Leapfrog Conservation Fund is that it represents an opportunity for unique collaborations to achieve a common goal – saving amphibians and habitats upon which we all depend.”

Hidden salamander image

The hidden salamander is one of Sierra Caral’s Critically Endangered amphibians

The future is bright

Dr Paul Salaman, Chief Executive Officer of the Rainforest Trust, said, “Amphibians represent an opportunity to stem biodiversity loss through relatively modest investments. We can literally save entire species through strategic habitat protection. We are thrilled to be able to make this commitment to protecting the most threatened vertebrate group in priority sites worldwide.”

For some amphibian species, such as the golden frog, it may be too late, but the Leapfrog Conservation Fund is definitely a step in the right direction to protect other species from a similar fate.

Golden frog image

The extinct golden frog has not been seen in the wild since 1989

For more information on the Leapfrog Conservation Fund or to apply for funding for a project, visit the Amphibian Survival Alliance homepage or contact Robin Moore at rdmoore@amphibians.org.

See the top 50 amphibians on ARKive, and many more amphibian photos and videos.

Hannah Mulvany, ARKive Content Officer.

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