Feb 20

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 13, 2015

Male black widows smell hungry cannibal females

Black-widow-female-showing-distinctive-red-egg-timer-shaped-markings-on-abdomen

Female black widow

Female black widows only eat courting males about 2% of the time. However, just in case, males can smell how peckish a female is just from the pheromones in her silk.

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  Article originally published on Saturday, Feb 14, 2015

 Wildlife: Southwest wolf populations tops 100 for first time in modern era

Mexican-wolf-portrait

Mexican wolf portrait

The Mexican wolf population in New Mexico and Arizona has grown by 31% to  109 individuals total.

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  Article originally published on Sunday, Feb 15, 2015

 Increasing number of stranded sea lion pups being rescued this year

Female-California-sea-lion-on-rock

Female sea lion

So far 185 sea lion pups have been rescued in 2015 in the San Diego area. Stranded pups are nursed back to health and once healthy released into the wild.

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   Article originally published on Monday, Feb 16, 2015

 Cold-blooded animals grow bigger in the warm on land, but smaller in warm water

Velvet-swimming-crab

Velvet swimming crab

Arthropods like crabs and insects, grow larger on land in warmer climates. Moreover, researchers hypothesize that reduced oxygen availability in water causes aquatic animals to reduce their body size more.

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Golden-ringed-dragonfly

Golden-ringed dragonfly

 Article originally published on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015

 42 pangolins rescued…then sold to restaurant

Sunda-pangolin-side-view

Sunda pangolin

On Feb. 1, local Vietnamese police seized 42 live Sunda pangolins from poachers. Police handed them over to forest rangers who in turn ended up selling them to restaurants for a reported $56 a kilo.

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  Article originally published on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015

Grizzly bears are waking up too early

Brown-bear-walking-Alaskan-population

Brown bear walking

Grizzly bears are emerging from their dens a month early according to Yellowstone Park officials. The warmer weather appears to be the reason for the grizzlies’ altered schedule.

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  Article originally published on Thursday, Feb 19, 2015

Great white sharks are late bloomers

Great-white-shark-swimming-anterior-view

Great white shark swimming

Male great white sharks take 26 years to reach sexual maturity. This differs significantly from the previous estimate that suggested that males reached maturity between 4 and 10 years of age.

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 Enjoy your weekend!

William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA 

Feb 15

Happy World Pangolin Day!

Once again the third Saturday in February marks World Pangolin Day, a celebration of the eight different species of pangolin, four of which are found in Asia, and four in Africa. Despite looking ready for battle, these intriguing mammals, also known as scaly anteaters, are only likely to wage war against colonies of ants and termites, their favourite food!

Check out our Spotlight On: Pangolins to learn more about these weird and wonderful creatures!

Ground pangolin image

Ground pangolin

Apr 16

A Chinese vessel which crashed into a coral reef in the protected Tubbataha marine park in the Philippines has been found to contain 400 boxes of frozen pangolin meat. 

Photo of ground pangolin walking

The illegal trade in pangolins is driven largely by demand for their meat and scales in China

On the 8th April, a Chinese ‘fishing vessel’ illegally entered Filipino seas and crashed straight into a protected coral reef. Upon re-inspection of the boat, the coastguard discovered its sickening cargo: 400 boxes containing over 10 tonnes of pangolin meat. The scales and meat of this insect-eating mammal are in high demand in China; its meat is regarded a delicacy and its scales are believed to have properties that are beneficial to breast-feeding mothers.

Pangolin demand

Illegal trade in pangolins has all but wiped out populations across China, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and hunters are now infesting its very last remaining habitats in Java, Sumatra and the Malaysian peninsula. As pangolin species become rarer, the demand for their meat and scales increases, as does their price, despite the fact that there is absolutely no evidence for the touted medicinal properties of their scales.

It is bad enough that the Chinese have illegally entered our seas, navigated without boat papers and crashed recklessly into a national marine park and World Heritage Site,” said head of WWF-Philippines, Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan. “It is simply deplorable that they appear to be posing as fishermen to trade in illegal wildlife.”

Photo of Sunda pangolin on the forest floor

The Endangered Sunda pangolin is heavily hunted within its range

The crew of the boat have been arrested for poaching and attempted bribery, potentially facing 12 years in prison and $300,000 (£196,000) in fines. Posing as fishermen, the men claimed to have accidentally sailed into Philippine waters on their way from Malaysia. It is possible that they will face further charges for possession of pangolin meat, for which they can be fined and imprisoned for up to six years, and for damaging a coral reef.

The species of pangolin contained within the shipment are not yet known, but of the species listed on the IUCN Red List of threatened species, the majority are classified as Near Threatened or Endangered.

Chris Shepherd of the wildlife trade group TRAFFIC said, “There is no way a slow-breeding species like the pangolin can withstand this huge pressure for long.”

Photo of Chinese pangolin

Hunting is the main threat to the Chinese pangolin, which is now extremely rare in many countries within its range

Crackdown not enough

Law enforcement has so far been unable to significantly reduce the trade in pangolin meat and scales, which is forcefully driven by the extremely high prices they fetch in China, with hunters being paid hundreds of dollars per kilogram.

“We have seen a really obscene amount of seizures but very few people are arrested and even fewer convicted”, Shepherd continued. “There is not enough investigation into who is behind the networks.”

Photo of three-cusped pangolin

Investigation is needed into who is behind the trade networks

The seizure is among the biggest on record, with other large finds including the 23 tonnes of frozen pangolins confiscated within a week in Vietnam in 2008, and the 7.8 tonnes of meat and 1.8 tonnes of scales impounded in China in 2010. In 2007, an abandoned ship was discovered off the coast of China containing 5,000 rare animals. The illegal trade in wildlife from Southeast Asia is leaving in its wake what the IUCN has described as “ghost forests”.

It appears that more investigation is needed into who is behind the trade networks in order to really crack down on the illegal trade in wildlife, particularly in Asia.

 

Read more on this story at The Guardian – Chinese vessel on Philippine coral reef caught with illegal pangolin meat and Mongabay – Double bad: Chinese vessel that collided with protected coral reef holding 22,000 pounds of pangolin meat.

View photos and videos of pangolins on ARKive.


Kaz Armour, ARKive Text Author

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