Mar 13

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, Mar 6, 2015

As forests burn, conservationists launch global wildlife rescue

Scarlet-macaw-landing

Scarlet macaw landing

Extreme events and long-term warming caused by climate change compound the existing threats to wildlife like habitat loss and degradation. Using small aircraft to detect and map threats like forest fires and illegal clearing can significantly reduce the incidence of severely damaging forest fires. One of many affected forests is that of Guatemala, which is home to the scarlet macaw and the ocellated turkey.

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Ocellated-turkey-side-view

Ocellated turkey side view

Article originally published on Saturday, Mar 7, 2015

Four large species of snake added to restricted import list

Reticulated-python-juvenile-coiled-around-sapling

Reticulated python juvenile coiled around sapling

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared that the Beni anaconda, green anaconda, DeSchaunsee’s anaconda, and the reticulated python are “injurious” under the Lacey Act. The Lacey Act prohibits the export, import, buying, selling or acquisition of wildlife and plant species named on the list.

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Green anaconda close up

Article originally published on Sunday, Mar 8, 2015

Back from the brink of extinction: hunting for the world’s rarest frog

Corroboree-frog-crawling-on-moss

Corroboree frog crawling on moss

A research team found only four coroboree frogs within the southern part of New South Wales, its entire range. Recently, experts from Melbourne Zoo and Taronga Zoo along with NSW wildlife officials released 80 frogs into a fungus-free area of New South Wales within Kosciuszko National Park.

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Article originally published on Monday, Mar 9, 2015

Amphibians, already threatened, face increased susceptibility to disease from stress, research shows

Plethodon-shermani--on-leaves

Red-legged salamander on leaves

Researchers treated red-legged salamanders with either corticosterone, a stress hormone, or oil. They then exposed them to the chytrid fungus. Researchers found that “stressed” salamanders had a greater abundance of the chytrid fungus.

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Article originally published on Tuesday, Mar 10, 2015

The truth about giant pandas

Infant-giant-panda-portrait

Infant giant panda portrait

Thinking of the giant panda as cute and cuddly is only half the truth. In reality, the giant panda is a formidable species  who delivers one of the highest bite forces of any carnivore.

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Article originally published on Wednesday, Mar 11, 2015

If apes go extinct, so could entire forests

Male-bonobo-lying-down

Male bonobo lying down

Many tree and plant species in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are purely dependent upon the bonobo for seed dispersal. If the bonobos disappeared it could create a cascading extinction cycle.

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Article originally published on Thursday, Mar 12, 2015

World’s whaling slaughter tallied at 3 million

Blue-whale-underwater

Blue whale underwater

In the last century, nearly 3 million cetaceans were wiped out. Some estimate that blue whales have been depleted by up to 90%. The North Atlantic right whale also hovers on the brink of extinction.

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North-Atlantic-right-whale-swimming

North Atlantic right whale swimming

Enjoy your weekend! William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA

Sep 16

Saturday was International Red Panda Day, a day designed to raise awareness about the plight of the red panda as well as a chance to raise funds to support the operation of a new community conservation centre in Nepal. For those of you unfamiliar with this curious and charismatic creature, fear not, as the ARKive team have rustled up their favourite red panda facts to give you the lowdown.

Quick Facts

  • The red panda is the original panda, having been discovered 48 years before the giant panda.
  • Red pandas are found in Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar and Nepal.
  • There are two subspecies of red panda; Ailurus fulgens styani and the smaller, lighter Ailurus fulgens fulgens.
  • Red pandas produce a number of vocalisations, the strangest of which is a ‘quack-snort’.

Is it a cat, is it a bear, is it a fox..?

Photo of red panda Photo of Northern raccoon

Actually, the red panda is thought to be most closely related to species in the racoon family. The classification of the red panda has caused continued controversy since it was first described in 1825. While its scientific name means ‘fire-coloured cat’, and it shares similarities with both bears and racoons, today it is placed with the racoons but in its own separate subfamily, the Ailurinae. Interestingly, the Chinese name for the red panda is “hunho”, which translates into English as “firefox”, hence the famous logo of Mozilla’s web browser.

Dexterous Digits

Red panda photo

Like the giant panda, red pandas posses a modified wrist bone that acts as a sixth digit or thumb which is used for grabbing bamboo. While technically classified as a carnivore, red pandas actually feed almost exclusively on bamboo, although roots, fruit, eggs and small animals are sometimes eaten too. They have semi-retractable claws, which allow them to be efficient climbers and when not foraging, pandas are usually found in the trees.

Cute Cubs

Red panda cub photo

Red pandas are ready to breed at around 18 months old. After a relatively long gestation period for their body size (roughly 135 days) red pandas usually give birth to two young in a hollow tree. The young, known as cubs, are born blind and helpless, opening their eyes after 18 days.

A species under threat

Red panda photo

Sadly, red pandas are a species under threat, currently classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. The most serious threat they face is habitat loss, as throughout their range forests have been cleared for timber extraction, agriculture and development. Their lustrous coats also make them a target for hunters, and hats made from their pelts were traditionally given to newlyweds in Yunnan as they were thought to symbolise a happy marriage. In China the species is thought to have undergone a decline of around 40 percent over the last 50 years.

How can you help?

If you would like to get involved International Red Panda Day you can download an activity pack here. Kids can get involved in a whole host of fun red panda themed activities as well as becoming a “Red Panda Ranger”, a special title given to children that help spread the word about red pandas.

Make sure you check out the red panda species profile on ARKive for lots more information, images and videos.

You can also find out more about red pandas and their conservation by visiting the Red Panda Network.

Claire Lewis, ARKive Researcher

Jun 28

China is set to launch its once-a-decade giant panda census in an effort to determine how many individuals of this endangered mammal live in the wild.  

Photo of giant panda feeding on vegetation

The giant panda is universally admired for its appealing markings and seemingly gentle demeanour, and is an international symbol of conservation.

State media reported that around 70 trackers are being trained at the Wanglang Nature Reserve in the south-western province of Sichuan. This area is believed to harbour the largest number of wild pandas in China, and is one of the last six isolated forests where giant pandas remain.  

As part of an initial pilot study, the trackers will search for giant panda droppings for ten days, as the animals themselves are so shy and reclusive that they are rarely seen in their fog-shrouded, mountainous, forested habitat. The nationwide study is expected to start at the end of July. 

Photo of infant giant panda

The success of giant panda captive breeding has markedly increased in recent years, thanks to significant advances in managing the health of captive pandas and a greater understanding of the species’ reproductive biology.

Each giant panda is thought to defecate up to 40 times a day, leaving its own trail behind it from which scientists can identify the individual by running a DNA test. The census should not only provide an accurate figure for the panda population, but also determine the average age of the population and how its habitat is changing.  

The previous census, in 2001, counted 1,596 wild giant pandas in China, although some scientists have since estimated the number of individuals to be as high as 3,000. 

View more species from China on ARKive

View more images and videos of the giant panda on ARKive

Alex Royan, Species Text Author

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