Apr 10

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, Apr 3, 2015

‘Lazy’ sea lion sons rely on mothers milk while diligent daughters learn to hunt

Galapagos-sea-lion-pup

Galapagos sea lion pup

For the first two years of their life, male Galapagos sea lions barely make any effort to hunt. Meanwhile, many young females hunt at sea even before their mothers wean them.

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Article originally published on Saturday, Apr 4, 2015

How do hummingbirds fly in wind and rain?

Ruby-throated-hummingbird-male-feeding-on-kalanchoe-flower

Ruby-throated hummingbird male feeding on flower

Researchers placed hummingbirds within a wind tunnel to observe their response to different wind speeds. They twist their bodies to accommodate the airflow which expends more energy, but allows them to continue flying in place.

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Article originally published on Sunday, Apr 5, 2015

Florida wildlife officials ask people not to ‘help’ gopher tortoises

Gopher-tortoise-in-burrow-entrance

Gopher tortoise in burrow entrance

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Department urged people to not help gopher tortoise hatchlings to the ocean, since they cannot swim.  The announcement was made after three instances occurred of people trying to help.  The public was reminded that not all turtle species can swim.

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Article originally published on Monday, Apr 6, 2015

Aceh’s purge of illegal oil palm at 3,000 hectares and counting

Young-Bengal-tiger

Young Bengal tiger

Oil palm plantations are being removed to protect the people from ecological disaster. The plantations lie within the protected Leuser Ecosystem (KEL), the last place where the Sumatran rhino, elephant, tiger, and orangutan coexist in the wild.

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Indian-elephant-bull

Indian elephant bull

Article originally published on Tuesday, Apr 7, 2015

Overfishing leads to crashes in sardines and other forage fish

Pacific-sardine

Pacific sardine

Forage fish are essential food for bigger predators thus playing a vital role within the ecosystem. U.S. fisheries managers are deciding whether to shut down fishing for Pacific sardines since stocks are declining.

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Article originally published on Wednesday, Apr 8, 2015

The truth about magpies

Magpie-stealing-Partridge-egg

Magpie stealing partridge egg

Magpies have a notorious reputation for being thieves of shiny baubles and preying upon the defenseless chicks and eggs of songbirds.  The reality however, is that they are interested in objects, their shininess is irrelevant. While they may prey on songbirds, there is no evidence to suggest they cause population crashes.

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Article originally published on Thursday, Apr 9, 2015

Farmers urge return of jaguars to protect crops

Female-jaguar-resting-in-vegetation-by-river

Female jaguar resting in vegetation

White-lipped peccaries damage farmers’ crops in Brazil as their populations grow and farmers are considering alternatives to hunting. One option is maintaining well-connected jaguar habitat on their agricultural properties thereby allowing jaguars to naturally control peccary populations.

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White-lipped-peccaries-caught-on-camera-trap

White-lipped peccaries caught on camera trap

Enjoy your weekend!

William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA 

Apr 3

The Sumatran rhino has not been seen in the state of Kalimantan, Borneo, for more than two decades, but recent evidence has been found to suggest that this threatened species still occurs in the Indonesian state.

Sumatran rhino image

The Sumatran rhino is one of the most threatened mammals in the world

Encouraging evidence

Now considered to be one of the world’s most threatened mammals with just 200 to 275 individuals remaining in the wild, the Critically Endangered Sumatran rhino once roamed across the Himalayan foothills and east to southern China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Viet Nam and Peninsular Malaysia. However, this impressive range has since been dramatically decreased as a result of hunting and habitat destruction.

Also known as the ‘hairy rhino’ due to a covering of reddish-brown to black hair, the Sumatran rhino is known to survive in small populations on Borneo in the Malaysian state of Sabah, but this is the first time that scientists have been able to confirm the presence of this shy and elusive species in the state of Kalimantan for over 20 years.

While conservationists from WWF-Indonesia have yet to spot a rhino in Kalimantan, the discovery of footprints, mud wallows, tree markings and signs of rhino feeding all indicate that at least one Sumatran rhino persists in the area.

This is a very important finding to the world, and especially to Indonesia’s conservation work, as this serves as a new record on the presence of Sumatran rhinos in East Kalimantan and especially in West Kutai,” said Bambang Noviyanto, the director for biodiversity conservation at the Forestry Ministry.

Sumatran rhino image

The Sumatran rhino is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List

Numbers

In such small and fragmented populations, it has become difficult for populations of the Sumatran rhino to breed successfully, and cases have been reported in the past of single rhinos surviving alone in a small forest fragment. The rarer the species becomes, the more challenging it is for scientists to count and monitor the number of remaining individuals.

As yet, there is no information on whether the recent evidence has been left by just one rhino or a small group, but scientists believe it is unlikely that the group is large.

The Sumatran rhino is on the very brink of extinction. The fact that this discovery comes more than a decade after the last evidence of the species in Kalimantan, despite the opening up of previously remote areas during that period, suggests that this might be just one or a small number of individuals,” explained John Payne, a conservation scientist with the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA). “If so, they might not have been breeding. There may be inbreeding, or a skewed sex ratio, or simply old or otherwise infertile rhinos.”

Sumatran rhino image

WWF-Indonesia is working on determining how many rhinos may be living in Kalimantan

Breeding programmes

Along with other scientists at BORA, Payne is currently working to breed two Sumatran rhinos in large, semi-wild enclosures in Sabah, Malaysia, one of which was found living alone in a fragment of forest with no hope of finding a mate to breed with.

A similar breeding programme in Sumatra led to the first successful birth of a captive Sumatran rhino since 2001. Given that it was only the fourth captive Sumatran rhino birth in the last century, this was an impressive achievement, but Payne believes that more rhinos will need to be captured to increase genetic diversity within the population and ensure that the breeding programmes are successful in the long term.

I would hope that consideration might be given to capture to add to the global captive population of 10 individuals,” said Payne. “New genes are needed. Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA), although a Malaysian NGO, would be happy to collaborate with WWF-Indonesia and the Indonesian authorities. Such collaboration would help in exchanging information and ideas, and help to better secure collaboration on this species between Indonesia and Malaysia.”

At present, WWF-Indonesia is focusing its efforts on determining how many rhinos are currently living in East Kalimantan, and the organisation is working with local communities to ensure that the area is protected.

Read more on this story at Mongabay.com – Sumatran rhino found in Kalimantan after unseen in region for 20 years.

View photos and videos of the Sumatran rhino on ARKive.

 

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Text Author

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