Jan 23
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Celebrate New Year with ARKive’s Chinese Zodiac

As today marks the start of the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Dragon to be precise, the ARKive team decided to take a closer look at the Chinese Zodiac. Based on a cycle of twelve years, each year is assigned a different animal, and it is said that those born in the year of a particular animal take on its attributes and personality. Intrigued, we thought we would have a rummage through the ARKive vaults and meet some of these cosmic creatures…

Rat

Brown rat photo

It is said that people born in the year of the rat are intellectual, charming and sociable. Historically, the brown rat is believed to have originated from China and is indeed highly sociable, living in ‘packs’, it is also one of the most adaptable species on earth.

Ox

 Muskox photo

Those born in the year of the ox are strong, dependable and hardworking, much like the magnificent muskox. Muskox are known for their characteristic defence behaviour, in which the herd bunch together, forming an impenetrable line or circle to protect their calves from predators.

Tiger

Tiger photo

People born in the year of the tiger are said to be powerful, courageous and affectionate. The tiger is a mighty predator, capable of taking prey much larger than itself, including water buffalo, rhinos and even small elephants.

Rabbit

Rabbit photo

If you were born in the year of the rabbit, you are said to be kind, sensitive and flexible. The rabbit certainly is highly adaptable, and living in groups of up to 30 individuals, it will warn other rabbits of danger by thumping its back legs on the ground.

Dragon

Komodo dragon photo

It is said that those born in the year of the dragon, which begins today, are self-assured, noble and natural born leaders. The powerful Komodo dragon is the largest lizard in the world, and the strong males will wrestle each other for access to the females.

Snake

Smooth snake photo

Those of you born in the year of the snake are thought to be wise, calm and responsible. The smooth snake itself is extremely secretive, catching its prey with a quick strike and subduing it by squeezing with the coils of its body.

Horse

Przewalski's horse photo

People born in the year of the horse are thought of as cheerful, energetic and quick-witted. Przewalski’s horse certainly has reason to be cheerful – it had been declared Extinct in the Wild, but a careful captive breeding and conservation programme has since seen it successfully reintroduced.

Sheep

Bighorn sheep photo

If you were born in the year of the sheep, it is said that you are creative, sincere and sympathetic. The impressive looking bighorn sheep is well adapted to its rocky environment, with great agility and keen eyesight, it can also climb near vertical rock faces to escape from predators.

Monkey

Blue monkey photo

It is thought that people born in the year of the monkey are energetic, upbeat and good motivators. Sociable blue monkeys share the parenting duties between them, and live in groups of closely-bonded females, usually with a single male.

Rooster

Red junglefowl photo

Those born in the year of the rooster are thought to be practical, honest and perfectionists. Red junglefowl are the wild ancestors of all domestic poultry, although the bold and brilliant rooster is said to be more brightly coloured than its tame relative.

Dog

Dingo photo

People born in the year of the dog are said to be loyal, amicable and easy going. Many dingo populations live near human settlements, and can become very tame, although this brings with it the risk of hybridisation with domestic dogs – a real threat to the species.

Pig

Forest hog photo

If you were born in the year of the pig, you are said to be thoughtful, intelligent and well-mannered. The forest hog lives in groups of up to twenty, with the piglets protected by all the members of the group and able to nurse from any female.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. In honour of the Year of the Dragon, this week we will be revealing a different ARKive dragon on Facebook every day, as well as a whole host of fun facts, and fortune cookies to reveal what the future might hold for each species. Make sure you check it out!

You can also wish your friends, family and colleagues a Happy Chinese New Year by sending one of our Komodo dragon e-cards.

And finally, why not get creative and download our new dragon mask to cut out and decorate – the perfect accessory for your Chinese New Year party!

Claire Lewis, ARKive Media Researcher

Dec 21
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In the News: Conservation success in Thailand

Camera trap studies have shown that scaled-up anti-poaching efforts in Thailand’s Western Forest Complex have proven to be successful.

Clouded leopard image

The elusive clouded leopard is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List

Candid camera

Thanks to a camera trap project led by the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Asia Program, rare glimpses of endangered animals have been captured on film during the last year in the Western Forest Complex. The area includes 17 protected areas in Thailand and Myanmar, and houses a wide variety of fascinating species including the elusive clouded leopard and the impressive banteng, a rare species of wild cattle. The footage demonstrates that the increased anti-poaching efforts which have been established in the area are proving to be successful, and are having a positive effect on the local wildlife.

Green peafowl image

Images of the beautiful green peafowl were captured during the project

Elusive species become stars on screen

The footage captured by the camera traps features a vast array of forest-dwelling species, including many which are classified as threatened on the IUCN Red List such as the Vulnerable sun bear, and the green peafowl and Malayan tapir, both classified as Endangered. The camera trap project has also documented a variety of behaviours, from an Indochinese tigress and cubs drinking at a watering hole to a skittish banteng, and has demonstrated the species richness of the Thai forests.

Joe Walston, director of the WCS’s Asia Program, is delighted with the effects that increased patrolling has had on the local biodiversity, “The video represents a huge payoff for the government of Thailand, which has invested considerable resources in protecting wildlife and preventing illegal hunters from plundering the country’s natural heritage.

Indochinese tiger image

Indochinese tiger populations in the area have stabilised

Good news for tigers and more

The information gleaned from the video footage by WCS indicates that the numbers of Indochinese tigers, as well as populations of their prey species, have now stabilised in the region. It is estimated that there are now between 125 and 175 tigers in the area, which also contains one of the largest Asian elephant populations in Southeast Asia.

Overall, the news for Thailand is good with WCS stating that the country has one of the best anti-poaching records in Asia.

Read more on this story at Mongabay – Camera trap videos capture stunning wildlife in Thailand.

Explore species found in Thailand on ARKive.

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Species Text Author

Nov 17
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In the News: Wild cats caught on camera in a threatened forest

A WWF camera trap survey has captured photographs of five wild cat species in a threatened Sumatran forest.

Photo of a male Sumatran tiger

The Sumatran tiger is a Critically Endangered species

Photogenic felines

Many species of wild cat can be somewhat secretive, but this latest camera trap survey, carried out in a threatened forest corridor which links Bukit Tigapuluh forest and the Rimbang Baling Wildlife Sanctuary in Riau Province, has yielded some wonderful images.

Five different species of wild cat were photographed in the as-yet unprotected area of forest in Sumatra, Indonesia’s largest island, including the Sumatran tiger which is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Photographs were taken of the Sunda clouded leopard, also known as Diard’s clouded leopard, and the marbled cat, which are classified as Endangered and Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List respectively. Two further felids captured on camera were the elusive Asian golden cat and the small leopard cat.

Photo of a male marbled cat

Male marbled cat

Deforestation

Sumatra suffers from one of the highest levels of deforestation in the world, and since 1985 has lost half of its forest cover, according to a detailed report released by WWF. With approximately half a million hectares of forest being cleared annually, Sumatra has become a focus in the fight to save the rainforests.

Aditya Bayunanda, WWF-Indonesia’s coordinator for the Global Forest Trade Network (GFTN) programme, highlighted the main threats to the area’s forests and biodiversity: “Much of the natural forest area in the landscape is threatened by large scale clearance for industrial logging, pulp and paper, as well as illegal encroachment for palm oil plantation development.”

Photo of a captive leopard cat at night

Leopard cat

Threatened forests

Part of Bukit Tigapuluh forest has been designated as a national park and therefore is protected, yet forests surrounding the park, which have already been selectively logged, are now at risk of being completely cleared.

Except for the leopard cat, all of the species caught on camera in WWF’s survey are protected by Indonesian government regulations.

This underscores the rich biodiversity of the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape and the forest corridors that connect to it,” says Karmila Parakkasi, coordinator of the WWF-Indonesia Tiger Research Team. “These amazing cat photos also remind us of how much we could lose as more of these fragile forests are lost.

Capturing images of five different cat species is certainly an impressive feat, although the largest number of cat species reported to be present in a single habitat was in a recently protected forest in India, where seven were recorded.

Photo of a Diard's clouded leopard resting on board walks

Diard's clouded leopard, also known as the Sunda clouded leopard

Action for protection

Aditya Bayunanda believes that the presence of these fascinating cat species should encourage the Indonesian government to take action to save the forest in which they live: “Concession licenses of companies operating in these areas, such as Barito Pacific, should be reviewed and adjusted according to Indonesian Ministry regulations, which state that concession areas with the presence of endangered species should be protected by the concessionaire.

As well as a variety of cats, Bukit Tigapuluh is home to thousands of other species, including Sumatran orang-utans and Sumatran elephants, and WWF-Indonesia hopes that the National Park will be expanded to better protect its biodiversity.

Read more on this story and see the camera trap images at Mongabay.com – Photos: five wild cat species documented in Sumatran forest imperiled by logging.

View photos and videos of cat species on ARKive.

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Species Text Author

Aug 23
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ARKive’s Top 10 Cats

With over 40 species of felid on ARKive, it was no easy task to whittle the list down to a purr-fect top ten.  But I lapped up the challenge and have highlighted the paws-able species out there. If there are any felids you think should have been honoured on the list and it is a catastrophe that they are not featured, do let us know!

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

Photo of cheetah mid-sprint

Straight out of the starting blocks, the record breaking cheetah. Renowned for being the fastest land mammal, the cheetah can reach speeds of up to 87 kilometres an hour, beating the fastest human over 100 metres by a whopping 3 seconds. Unlike other cats, the cheetah’s claws are not retractable, helping it to grip the ground in high speed chases.

Pallas’s cat  (Otocolobus manul)

Photo of a Pallas's cat climbing over rocks

Its dense fur coat gives Palla’s cat a distinctly endearing appearance. It has got a practical purpose though, as Palla’s cat is found in cold, frosty uplands. Unlike other small cats, the pupils in the large eyes of Pallas’s cat contract to small circles rather than slits.

Sand cat  (Felis margarita)

Sand cat photo

A favourite in the ARKive office, the sand cat is expertly adapted to the desert. With footpads covered in thick hair, they can move comfortably over scorching sand, and they don’t need water sources, getting all the water they need from their food. But the real reason we love the sand cat? They’re just so darn cute 

Fishing cat  (Prionailurus viverrinus)

Photo of young fishing cats fishing at water's edge

Ever seen a cat that likes to swim? Not all felids are as hydrophobic as you’d think. The fishing cat, as the name suggests, frequently gets wet to prey on fish, diving to hunt or just scooping them out. We’ve some fantastic footage of this on ARKive so check it out!

Caracal  (Caracal caracal)

Caracal cub photo

The caracal gets its name from the Turkish “karakulak”, meaning black-eared, and it’s easy to see why. The distinctive tufts at the end of the ears are thought to aid in communication between individuals. Showing tremendous bursts of speeds, the caracal is also a formidable predator, shown superbly in this infrared footage.

Wildcat  (Felis silvestris)

Photo of a European wildcat hunting edible frog

The wild ancestor of the domestic cat, the wildcat is very similar in appearance to the common moggy. Close to our own hearts here in the ARKive office, it is the only native cat species to the UK. Found in Europe, Africa and Asia, the wildcat currently has the largest range of any wild felid.

Clouded leopard  (Neofelis nebulosa)

Clouded leopard photo

The clouded leopard is an absolutely stunning animal. Named after the “cloud” patterns on its coat, the clouded leopard has a lengthy tail equivalent to it’s body length, providing essential balance for its impressive tree climbing abilities – it’s been seen running head first down tree trunks and hanging upside down by its hind legs. A true arboreal acrobat!

Tiger  (Panthera tigris)

 Photo of a Bengal tiger in forest

A solitary species with fantastically effective camouflage, you’d be extremely lucky to spot one of these striped cats in the wild. The tiger is an endangered species, and with three out of nine subspecies becoming extinct in the 20th century, it’s imperative to resolve human conflicts with this fearsome predator and conserve the remaining subspecies.

Jaguarundi  (Puma yagouaroundi)

Jaguarundi photo

The Jaguarundi is possibly the strangest looking cat species, looking more like a weasel than a felid. But it’s not just its appearance that makes this unusual felid the odd one out. They have unusually large ranges for a cat, and are mostly active in the day, making them easier to spot. They’ll eat any small animals they can catch, and have even been known to swat birds from the air!

Lion  (Panthera leo)

Photo of an African lion rolling in dirt

And finally, no top ten cat list would be complete without the king of them all, the majestic lion. One of the largest cats, the lion uses brute strength to prey on animals many times its size. Although this footage shows they’re not always boss! Once the most widespread large land mammal after humans, lions are now restricted to sub-Saharan Africa and western India.

Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Media Researcher

Jul 29
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Global Tiger Day

The 29th July marks Global Tiger Day, a chance to celebrate these beautiful cats in all their glory and highlight their need for protection.

Bengal tiger photo

A very handsome Bengal tiger family

Although the tiger probably tops many people’s list of favourite animals, hunting has sadly pushed this magnificent feline to the brink of extinction. Once spread throughout central and southern Asia, now only scattered populations remain in India, Southeast Asia, Sumatra, China and the Russian Far East. Nine subspecies of tiger are recognised and only six of these remain today, after the Bali, Javan and Caspian tigers all became extinct in the latter part of the 20th century.

South China tiger photo

It seems likely that the South China tiger may now be Extinct in the Wild

Sumatran tiger photo

The Sumatran tiger is also considered to be Critically Endangered

While the future may seem bleak for the Critically Endangered South China and Sumatran tigers, recent news that tiger numbers in India may be beginning to rise has inspired conservationists that all may not be lost. Mike Baltzer, Head of WWF’s Tigers Alive Initiative says that “these results show that with good protection, unyielding government commitment and robust participation from partners and civil society, poaching can be reduced and tigers can thrive”.

Photo of Bengal tiger cubs playing

Is the future looking brighter for these playful Bengal tiger cubs?

With this in mind, Global Tiger Day should be seen as a chance to celebrate, whilst increasing public awareness about what can be done to help. WWF offices in tiger countries will join governments and the general public in a range of celebratory events from film screenings and tv shows to educational talks and even a tiger painting competition!

Bengal tiger photo

It's harder than you think to spot a tiger!

If you are holding your own celebration we would love to hear from you!

For more information on Global Tiger Day you can visit the WWF website.

And finally, why not check out ARKive’s fantastic tiger photos and videos.

Claire Lewis, ARKive Media Researcher

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