Feb 27

Arkive’s Week in Review — Wildlife News

ICYMI: Arkive has compiled some of the biggest and most interesting headlines from this week.

Article originally published on Friday, Feb 20, 2015 

Evolution favors the big: Marine mammals have grown larger over time

potato-cod-head-detail

Potato cod

The average marine creature today is about 150 times larger than its counterparts that lived during the Cambrian period. The study looked at body size data for marine species groups including the echinoderms and chordates.

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Purple-sea-urchin

Purple sea urchin

 Article originally published on Saturday, Feb 21, 2015

Shy kangaroos prefer bigger groups

Female-and-young-eastern-grey-kangaroos

Female and young eastern grey kangaroo

Shyer or risk-averse female kangaroos feed in larger groups than bold or braver individuals.  Researchers hypothesize that shyer females like bigger groups because individuals in larger groups are safer from predators.

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 Article originally published on Sunday, Feb 22, 2015

Kingpin responsible for killing 20 rhinos caught by authorities

Indian-rhinoceros-feeding-on-water-hyacinth

Indian rhinoceros feeding on water hyacinth

Authorities have arrested the leader of a poaching gang that killed 20 Indian rhinoceros in Nepal.  Today there are over 2,500 Indian rhinos and the population is still rising.

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 Article originally published on Monday, Feb 23, 2015

Small predator diversity is an important part of a healthy ecosystem

Western-leopard-toad-head-detail

Western leopard toad

Biodiversity, including small predators such as dragonflies that attack and consume parasites may improve the health of amphibians. The study suggests that dwindling global environmental biodiversity and worldwide spikes in infectious diseases may be linked.

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Slim-scarlet-darter

Slim scarlet-darter

 Article originally published on Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015

Amur leopard population booms – to 57

Amur-leopard-cub

Amur leopard cub

There are now at least 57 Amur leopards in Russia. These leopards are scattered across more than 36,000 hectares.

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 Article originally published on Wednesday, Feb 25, 2015

$7 million could save lemurs from extinction

Alaotran-gentle-lemur-with-young-on-back

Alaotran gentle lemur with young on back

Last year, scientists released a three year plan they said could save the world’s lemurs from world extinction and cost just $7.6 million. To facilitate this process, Lynne Venart the head of a design firm created the Lemur Conservation Network that brings together over 40 conservation groups and research institutes with the purpose of empowering the individual to support conservation.

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Grey mouse-lemur

 Article originally published on Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

U.S ‘pet’ tiger trade puts big cats at great risk

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Female bengal tiger with juveniles

Some tigers in the United States end up at roadside zoos, which lack the knowledge and resources to provide appropriate care. Other tigers end up in the pet trade and some are even killed illegally and their body parts sold.

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 Enjoy your weekend!

William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA

 

 

Apr 10

The Amur leopard, considered to be one of the world’s most threatened big cats, is showing signs of a population recovery, according to the results of a new survey.

Amur leopard image

The charismatic Amur leopard is one of the world’s rarest cats

Positive signs

A majestic species, the Amur leopard sports the heaviest coat of any leopard, an attribute which enables this highly threatened cat to survive the long, harsh winters which envelop its pine forest habitat in the Russian Far East.

At its lowest point, it is thought that the Amur leopard population may have fallen to just 25 individuals, sparking grave concern that this incredible big cat could soon become extinct. However, results from a new survey indicate that the population may have risen to as many as 50 individuals, representing about a 50% increase from the last survey conducted in 2007.

While we cannot help but be gladdened by this fact, it is no reason to let down our guard. 50 is still a critically small number for long term persistence of [the] population,” said WWF-Russia in a news release.

Amur leopard image

The Amur leopard population may have increased by about 50% in the last six years

Camera traps and conservation

During the latest survey, researchers counted Amur leopard tracks along snowy trails to determine an estimated population size. Tracks from 23 individuals were counted, and this number was then extrapolated to estimate a minimum of 43-45 adult leopards and 4-5 cubs surviving in the wild.

The results of the survey also revealed that, as the population grows, Amur leopards are shifting and expanding their range. While most Amur leopards are known to be found in Russia, recent camera trap photos have shown that a few individuals now occur on the Chinese side of the border, and in addition sightings have been reported from North Korea.

With the promising news comes an urgent need to scale up conservation actions aimed at protecting the charismatic feline. “The Far Eastern leopard, the rarest cat on the Earth, is stepping back from the brink,” said Yury Darman, Director of the Amur branch of WWF-Russia. “We started the recovery programme in 2001 and now can be proud of almost 50 leopards in the wild. The most crucial role is played by the establishment of large unified protected areas with huge state support, which cover 360 thousand hectares of leopard habitat in Russia. It is necessary now to accelerate the creation of a Sino-Russian trans-boundary reserve that would unify six adjacent protected areas encompassing 6,000 square kilometres.”

Tiger image

Siberian tigers may be posing a threat to the Amur leopard

New rising threat

The Amur leopard has long been at risk from a variety of threats, from habitat loss and inbreeding to poaching. Poachers not only target the leopards directly, but also the prey base on which the cats depend, including deer and boar. Yet a new rising threat to the Amur leopard is becoming evident: the Siberian tiger.

The Siberian or Amur tiger is also undergoing a population increase in the region. While the recovery of the populations of both the Amur leopard and the Siberian tiger is welcome news, it has resulted in clashes between the two powerful predators. As the world’s largest cat, weighing up to six times the weight of the Amur leopard, the Siberian tiger is a lethal opponent for the smaller species. In the last few years, WWF-Russia has reported that three Amur leopards have been killed by tigers, and the organisation is calling for more research to be conducted on the relationship between these two big cats.

Read more on this story at Mongabay.com – Amur leopard population rises to 50 animals, but at risk from tigers, poachers.

View photos and videos of the Amur leopard on ARKive.

 

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Text Author

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