Jan 14
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ARKive Geographic: Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is a beautiful country in Central Asia best known for its walnut forests and vast mountain ranges. Tall peaks, deep valleys, and glaciers make up Kyrgyzstan’s breathtaking geography. Its diverse wildlife makes Kyrgyzstan quite a gem in Eurasia and certainly a country worth exploring. Join us on a virtual tour of this country full of wild surprises and much more!

Fine feathered friend

Eurasian golden oriole photo

The name Eurasian golden oriole says it all. This golden-feathered bird lives in deciduous forest habitat however, despite its bright plumage, the golden oriole can blend into dense foliage. If you listen closely, you may hear this bird whistle a flute-like song or even a “chr-r-r” alarm call.

Gallant galloper

Asiatic wild ass photo

This mammal looks a lot like a horse, doesn’t it? The Asiatic wild ass roams freely in Kyrgyzstan feasting on woody plants. Even though it lives in semi-desert conditions, it’s always found close to a water source and actually gets its water from snow throughout the winter.

Frequent flier

Red chaser photo

While photos have been taken of the red chaser, not much is known about this species. One thing we do know is the red chaser goes through several stages of life development. This insect begins its life cycle as aquatic larvae and then molts several times before transitioning into adulthood.

Restful reptile

Afghan tortoise photo

Don’t be fooled! While the Afghan tortoise‘s scales and shell look like it’s heavily armored and ready for action, this tortoise actually isn’t very active at all. It tends to stay dormant during the summer and hibernate most of the winter. Sometimes this reptile is only awake three months out of the year!

Beautiful boar

Wild boar photo

The wild boar is a social animal living in herds of 6 to 20. With its omnivorous appetite, the wild boar feeds on seeds, roots, fruit, and even animal matter. The wild boar is considered an ancestor of most domestic pig breeds and can be found nearly everywhere as it has one of the largest distributions of all land mammals. Quite extra-oink-inary!

Lengthy lizard

Desert monitor photo

Desert monitors are opportunistic predators; they will do just about anything to find food including climbing trees, swimming, and digging! Despite being a rather gangling looking reptile growing to three feet in length or longer, the desert monitor makes impressive ground in a day sometimes traveling 5-6 kilometers!

Blue-billed bird

White-headed duck photo

The white-headed duck is one of the rarest wetland birds. It is a very skilful swimmer and does much better in water than on land. When it dives, the white-headed duck can stay under water for forty seconds at a time. An interesting fact about the white-headed duck? In late winter, this bird loses its feathers and cannot fly!

With its varied geography and ever-changing climate, it’s no wonder Kyrgyzstan is filled with amazing species. The animals on this list have found clever ways of adapting to their environments. Have you explored the hundreds of other species on ARKive that call Kyrgyzstan home? Have a look today!

Andrea Small, Education & Outreach Intern, Wildscreen USA

Nov 17
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Are you a wildlife geography genius?

Happy National Geography Awareness Week! If you’re a fan and follower of the ARKive blog then you know one of our favorite blog series is ARKive Geographic where we take readers on explorations of different countries around the world almost every month to learn about the unique species that live there. This year’s theme, ‘Celebrate Geography and The New Age of Exploration’ ties in perfectly to what ARKive Geographic is all about but this month, we want to explore YOUR geography knowledge!

We’ve created a short quiz that will test how much you really know about species from around the world. If you get stumped, explore previous ARKive Geographic blogs for clues or dive into the ARKive collection and start searching. Will you end up a Wayward Wildlife Wanderer or a Species Seeking Extraordinaire? There’s only one way to find out:

Question 1

Mongolia’s top canid, members of this species can work together to take down prey up to ten times their size.
A. Coyote
B. Maned wolf
C. Dhole

Question 2

Dubbed ‘living fossils’, this reptile of New Zealand can live to be 100 years old.
A. Tuatara
B. Aeolian wall lizard
C. Black caiman

Question 3

This species is not only the largest but also the rarest crane in all of Africa.
A. Wattled crane
B. Sarus crane
C. Sandhill crane

Question 4

Found in Mexico, this incredible looking amphibian is able to regrow missing tissue, and even whole limbs, when wounded.
A. Blanco River Springs salamander
B. Axolotl
C. California tiger salamander

Question 5

Having been classified as ‘biologically dead’ in the 1960’s , the Thames river is rebounding and is home to this slippery fish.
A. Moray eel
B. Electric eel
C. European eel

Question 6

This insect, found in South America, can spend up to 10 years of its life in the larval stage, while its adult phase only lasts a few short months.
A. Wasp beetle
B. Long-horned beetle
C. Titan beetle

How do you think you did? Check off your answers with the key below and see where you land on the wildlife geography expert spectrum. Don’t forget to share your score on the ARKive Facebook page or Twitter feed!

Answers: 1. C,   2. A,   3. A,   4.B,   5. C,   6. B

Score: 1-2 points
Wayward Wildlife Wanderer - We hate to break it to you but your wildlife geographic exploration skills are a little rusty. How bout taking a dig into the ARKive collection like this banded mongoose for a little practice?

Score 3-4 points
Advancing Animal Adventurer – You’re making an effort to learn about wildlife and geography and it’s showing! Keep up the good work and never lose sight of the top just like this lioness!

Score 5-6 points
Species Seeking Extraordinaire – You have the mind and willpower equaling the world’s greatest explorers.  Be proud and consider yourself at the top of the world like this alpine marmot!

Liana Vitali, Education & Outreach Manager, Wildscreen USA

Aug 30
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ARKive Geographic: Australia

Beyond the signature kangaroo or koala, did you know that Australia is also home to a wide range of lesser-known and somewhat bizarre-looking species such as the spotted handfish or the southern hairy-nosed wombat?  With astounding habitats including Barrow Island, the Great Barrier Reef, and the outback, we thought we would take the opportunity to highlight just some of the unique species found in this spectacular land!

Weedy wader Leafy seadragon swimming

The leafy seadragon is endemic to Australia, meaning it is found nowhere else on Earth. Living in shallow coastal waters, these slow-moving creatures call underwater seagrass meadows home, blending in perfectly due to their leaf-like appendages.

King croc

Immature saltwater crocodile swimming underwater

The largest of all crocodilians, the saltwater crocodile roams both the land and sea. By using its powerful tail and webbed hind feet, this species is an effective aquatic predator. The saltwater crocodile feasts on large land animals such as wallabies, dingoes, and even humans!

The face of climate change

Found only in northern Australia, the lemuroid ringtail possum may become Australia’s first victim of global climate change. Being unable to withstand temperatures over 86°F (30°C), this species is extremely vulnerable to heatwaves, which are expected to increase in frequency as the climate changes. In fact, a heatwave in 2005 was thought to have wiped out the entire population until a few individuals were finally discovered in 2009.

Misunderstood marsupial

Adult Tasmanian devil

Known for its frightening nocturnal screeches, the Tasmanian devil is the largest of the carnivorous marsupials. Contrary to its savage reputation, the Tasmanian devil is actually quite shy and is only aggressive when feeling threatened or when in competition with other devils.

Snack and swim

Dugong with remoras

Strictly feeding on plants, the dugong is often referred to as the ‘sea cow’, but it is actually more closely related to elephants than cows! Found off the coast of northern Australia, the dugong uses its flexible upper lip to rip whole plants apart, leaving ‘feeding trails’ on the sea floor. What a messy eater!

Water-free wallaby

Black-footed rock wallaby with young on rock

Found throughout Australia, the black-footed wallaby lives its life in groups of 10 to 100 individuals. Found primarily in rock piles and granite outcrops, this wallaby feasts mostly on grasses and fruit, and, interestingly, obtains nearly all of its water through its food.

Burrow builder

Southern hairy-nosed wombat

An expert digger, the southern hairy-nosed wombat is able to construct burrows that support a constant inside temperature of 78°F in the summer and 57.2 °F in the winter. These burrows are often formed as networks of up to thirty meters long that can host five to ten wombats.

Smooth sailing

Sugar glider on branch preparing to leap

The softly furred sugar glider uses the membrane along its body to glide distances of up to 150 feet between trees. This agile possum also has a rather distinctive alarm call, which is said to resemble a yapping dog!

Cultural croaker

Northern corroboree frog

Found only in the northern Australian Alps and the Australian Capital Territory, the northern corroboree frog has a local cultural story attached to its name. ‘Corroboree’ is an aboriginal word used to describe a gathering, where traditionally attendees are adorned with brightly colored yellow markings similar to those of this frog.

Aquatic ambler

Spotted handfish

A fish with ‘hands’ that can walk the ocean floor? It’s true! The spotted handfish, one of the world’s most endangered fish, is able to use its characteristic ‘hand-like’ fins to walk the sea floor, occasionally sucking on prey like shrimp and small fish. Threatened by development, a restricted distribution and a low reproductive rate, the spotted handfish population may be restored in the future through successful re-introduction programs.

If you’re looking to continue your ‘walkabout’ around Australia on ARKive, check out the new Barrow Island topic page or search the 1,200+ Australian species on ARKive today. Feel free to share your favorite Aussie species in the comments below!

Jade Womack, Education & Outreach Intern, Wildscreen USA

Jun 27
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ARKive Geographic: Indian Ocean islands

Fed up of the lack of sun? In need of a holiday? Let ARKive transport you off to the wonderful islands of the Indian Ocean with our new topic page.  From the coral reefs of the Maldives to the unique wildlife of Madagascar, the islands of the Indian Ocean boast a wide range of beautiful habitats and fascinating species.  To get you started, here is a taster of a few of the unusual endemic species which call the islands of the Indian Ocean home.

The Maldives is just one of the island nations featured on the Indian Ocean islands topic page

A hedgehog? A shrew?

Madagascar, made popular by the hit DreamWorks film of the same name, is the fourth biggest island in the world and boasts a wide range of endemic species. The ring-tailed lemur, the fossa and the aye-aye are among the more well-known species which inhabit this island, but there are also many other less well known but interesting critters. An example of such a species is the lowland streaked tenrec, an insectivore which looks like a cross between a shrew and a hedgehog. It is not just the appearance of tenrecs which is unusual – they are also the only mammal to communicate using a technique called stridulation. Stridulation is when animals communicate by rubbing two body parts together. In the case of the tenrec, it produces a high-pitched ultrasound by rubbing together specialised quills on its back.

Tenrecs only exist in Madagascar

A tree that bleeds?

The most distinctive plant on Socotra, an island located in the north-western Indian Ocean, is probably the dragon’s blood tree.  This species gets its name from the dark red resin it naturally exudes, known as ‘dragon’s blood’, a substance which has been highly prized since ancient times. This resin has been used to colour wool, decorate houses and pottery, and for many medicinal purposes.

The bizarre shape of the dragon’s blood tree helps it to survive in often arid conditions

From the brink of extinction

A bird from Mauritius which seemed to be following the same fate as the dodo was the Mauritius kestrel. However, a world-renowned conservation programme rescued it from the brink of extinction. Once widespread across Mauritius, by 1974 the population of this species only numbered six individuals, two of which were in captivity. An extremely successful reintroduction programme, supported by the Government of Mauritius, the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust International (now known as the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust), the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and the Peregrine Fund, led to a spectacular recovery, with the bird being downgraded from Endangered to Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

Released Mauritius kestrel individuals show a greater tolerance for degraded habitats and open areas

Pollinating bat

Endemic to the islands of Anjouan and Moheli in the Comoros archipelago, Livingstone’s flying fox is one of the largest bats in existence, with an average wingspan of 1.4 m! This species does not use echolocation, but instead locates fruit with its well-developed vision and sense of smell. Due to the Livingstone’s flying fox’s diet of fruit and flowers, it plays an important role as a pollinator and seed dispersal agent.

The Livingstone’s flying fox is one of the most threatened bat species

Minute marvel

From one of the largest to one of the smallest, the Gardiner’s tree frog is one of the tiniest frogs in the world, growing to a maximum length of only 11 mm. Endemic to the Seychelles, the nocturnal Gardiner’s tree frog forages for small invertebrates at night. Unlike most frogs, which lay their eggs in water, this frog lays its eggs in small clumps on moist ground. The young then hatch from these eggs as fully formed froglets, not tadpoles.

The Seychelles has the highest number of endemic amphibians in the world

If you want to find out more about the different islands these species inhabit, or if you just fancy a quick trip to paradise, don’t forget to check out our Indian Ocean islands page.

The Seychelles are composed of 115 islands

Jemma Pealing, ARKive Researcher

Apr 29
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ARKive Geographic: Brazil

This time on ARKive Geographic, we’re taking you on a virtual trip to the largest country in South America – Brazil!  Brazil’s vast geography and rich biodiversity make it a great topic for conservation discussions and scientific study. Because of its tropical climate, Brazil has several kinds of ecosystems: grasslands, coastlines, swamps, and the world famous Atlantic forest. In fact, a whopping eight percent of all the worlds’ plants species are found in the Atlantic rainforest and researchers believe there are many more plant and animal species yet to be discovered.

We’ve had a search through the 900+ species on ARKive that call Brazil home and shared some of our favorites below. Join us for a whirlwind species adventure across Brazil!

Flashy flycatcher

Photo of Atlantic royal flycatcher

Check out the headpiece on this fellow! The Atlantic royal flycatcher is endemic to Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest where habitat loss poses a constant threat. Only an estimated 8% of the original rainforest remains today and reforestation efforts are a large conservation priority in Brazil. As its name suggests, this flycatcher is particularly keen to dine on flying insects, particularly dragonflies.

Airborne arthropod

Photo of long-horned beetle

Think this long-horned beetle can’t fly? Think again! Underneath its unique black and brown patterning are delicate wing cases. Even more unique is the fact that the long-horned beetle can spend up to 10 years of its life in the larval stage, while its adult phase only lasts a few short months.

Healthful hardwood

Photo of pau brasil tree

Brazil takes its name from the Endangered pau brasil tree which is a huge source of red dye and an integral part of the country’s trade history. Its vibrant yellow leaves give off a strong smelling perfume and scientists have even utilized extracts from this tree for potential cancer treatment. Native Brazilian trees star in the new, free, online game from ARKive called Team WILD showing that scientists are true superheroes!

Ample alligator

Photo of black caiman

Not to be confused with the American alligator, the black caiman is the largest of all the alligator species. Its tough, dark scales help it camouflage easily in the water however was also highly prized by hunters since the 1940’s resulting in a 99% decrease in the wild populations. Captive breeding and reintroduction programs in Bolivia have been successful however, programs in other countries are needed to assist in the full recovery of this special reptile.

Troupe of team-workers

Photo of Brazilian bare-faced tamarin

This New World monkey is currently one of the most Endangered primates in the Amazon due to fragmented range and habitat loss. Highly social, the Brazilian bare-faced tamarin seems to embody the phrase “it takes a village to raise child” as various members of the groups assist with caring for the young!

Azure amphibian

Photo of dyeing poison frog

This little frog sure packs a mighty punch! The poison of the dyeing poison frog is strong enough to paralyze and even kill large spiders and snakes. Interestingly, this species is able to generate its poison through its rainforest ant diet.

We hope you enjoyed this glimpse of Brazil’s striking wildlife. If you’d like to find out more about more species in this diverse country, try exploring our Brazil species search results page where you can discover new (to you!) species.

Andrea Small, Intern, Wildscreen USA

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