Dec 30
Grandidier’s baobab image

Grandidier’s baobab (Adansonia grandidieri)

Species: Grandidier’s baobab                            (Adansonia grandidieri)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: The flowers of Grandidier’s baobab are said to smell like sour watermelon!

A long-lived species, the magnificent Grandidier’s baobab is only found in Madagascar. These unusual looking trees have massive cylindrical trunks and, at certain times of the year, a flat-topped crown of bluish-green leaves. The flowers of this species open after dusk and are thought to be pollinated by nocturnal mammals, such as fork-marked lemurs, which feed on the nectar from the baobab’s flowers. Grandidier’s baobab bears ripe fruit in November and December, and the kidney-shaped seeds are thought to be dispersed by water. There are a number of animal species that may have acted as seed dispersers in the past, but these have become extinct since human colonisation.

Grandidier’s baobab is heavily exploited, with the fruit and seeds being used for food and oil and the bark used to make rope. It is also threatened by habitat loss, with many trees being cleared for agriculture. Many organisations are currently working to protect the unique biodiversity of Madagascar, and plans to increase the amount of protected land will hopefully help to conserve this amazing tree.

Find out more about conservation in Madagascar: Madagascar Wildlife Conservation.

View images of Grandidier’s baobab on ARKive.

Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author

Dec 29

With no one wanting to be a copycat and the number of species to choose from on ARKive gradually getting lower (5 have been selected out of the 14,195 species on ARKive!) the pressure is really beginning to show. Will this week’s team member go for a cuddly critter like Hannah Mulvany or a more beastly being?

Rebecca Sennett – ARKive Media Researcher

Favourite species: African leopard

Why? The African leopard has always been my favourite species mainly because of its exceptional beauty and the fact that it is so elusive. I will never forget how I felt whilst on safari, watching two leopards drag an impala kill up onto the branch of an acacia tree, just as the sun went down below the horizon – a breathtaking and rare sight. The African leopard is a fearsome predator, combining opportunism, stealth and speed. Its distinctive, spotted coat provides excellent camouflage and enables the leopard to conceal itself in the undergrowth. With acute vision and hearing, the leopard is able move slowly and silently, frequently stalking to within metres of its prey without being detected!

Favourite image on ARKive?

Photo of an African leopard

Female African leopard grooming cub

The leopard is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List, with threats to the African population including habitat conversion for agriculture, hunting for teeth and fur and human persecution due to this species attacking livestock.

See more photos and videos of the leopard.

Dec 28

This weeks A-Z blog has been inspired by a couple of recent school visits where the classes were looking specifically at endangered species and the responsibilities humans have to the environment. As the aim of ARKive is to raise awareness of threatened species worldwide it seems particularly fitting for the ‘E’ edition of A-Z to be endangered-themed, so please join me on my exploration of the endangered species of ARKive.

Photo of southern bluefin tuna swimming next to fish farm net

Southern bluefin tuna are endangered due to overfishing

Life on the EDGE

We work closely with lots of other global conservation organisations including our friends at the EDGE of Existence programme, who are working to promote and conserve the most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered species. They are the only global conservation initiative to focus specifically on threatened species that represent a significant amount of unique evolutionary history, including weird and wonderful creatures such as the purple frog, the platypus and the shoebill.

Photo of Shoebill showing detail of head

The shoebill is a potential EDGE species

See where the golden-rumped sengi, pygmy three-toed sloth and Chinese giant salamander come on the blog of ARKive’s Top 10 EDGE species.


The word that strikes fear into the hearts of all conservationists, which is hardly surprising considering that at present it is believed that 1/4 of all mammals and 1/3 of amphibians are at risk of extinction. It might sound rather odd but there are actually varying degrees of ‘extinct’ according to the IUCN Red List. Species can either be Extinct in the Wild (EW), which means the only remaining populations are captive, such as the scimitar-horned oryx, or Extinct (EX), such as the golden toad which was last seen alive in 1989.

Photo of a male golden toad

The golden toad is classed as Extinct (EX)


Ethiopian wolf

Living high in the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia this wolf is the most threatened canid in the world. Human encroachment on their habitat and its subsequent conversion to agricultural land is reducing their available habitat. With humans come their dogs, which carry diseases such as rabies and canine distemper to which the Ethiopian wolves have no resistance.

Photo of the Ethiopian wolf hunting

The Ethiopian wolf is the most endangered canid in the world



The South American country of Ecuador, nestled between Colombia, Peru and the Pacific Ocean, is host to a huge variety of species including the giant otter, the boto and the giant antpitta many of which are endangered. The Galapagos Islands are also part of Ecuador which means much of the Ecuadorian biodiversity is endemic. Species from the Galapagos, such as the Galapagos marine iguana, face a plethora of threats including the introduction of domestic pets, marine pollution and the effects of environmental fluctuations such as El Nino.

Photo of a male Galapagos marine iguana

The Galapagos marine iguana faces a number of threats


Watch out for our new Endangered Species education module and activity coming soon to our education pages. For more information why not check out our Endangered Species page.

What is your favourite ARKive E?  Perhaps you’re a fan of elephants or the echidna, how about the eastern sandfish or the earthworm? Let us know…

Laura Sutherland, ARKive Education Officer

Dec 28

With the end of 12fast approaching there will soon be celebrations taking place all around the world to see in the New Year. Here at ARKive we have been taking some inspiration from the animal kingdom in order to come up with five vital tips to ensure that you have a happy and enjoyable New Years Eve.

Go Easy on the Booze

Many of us will be indulging in a tipple or two over the holiday season. Obviously it is a good idea to stay within your limits and not to take a leaf (or bamboo shoot!) out of the Eastern gorilla’s book. Photographer Andy Rouse captured this picture of two merry Eastern gorillas in the mountains of Rwanda. It was found that they had been drinking the alcoholic sap from bamboo shoots. When the photographer retuned the next day the Gorillas were supposedly looking worse for wear with what we can only suspect was a primate hangover – what a pair of party animals!

Photo of silverback and blackback mountain gorillas playing, drunk on bamboo shoots

This pair of eastern gorillas have had a bit too much festive cheer...


Break out with dancing fever

New Years Eve is a chance to relax, let your hair down and strut your stuff on the dance floor. The courtship dance of the Antipodean albatross is a visual spectacle and involves classic moves like bowing, bill touching and head shaking. Despite busting out all these moves the male may have to perform this dance for several seasons before succeeding in finding a mate.

Photo of antipodean albatross pair performing courtship dance

Will these dance moves be enough to impress the female Antipodean albatross?


Be Careful with Fireworks

There is nothing like a few fireworks to get your New Years Eve kicking off with a bang. It may not be quite the display of lights and sounds that traditional fireworks are but the bombardier beetle has a defence similar to fireworks, at least in the sense that it is also an extreme exothermic reaction. When threatened, the bombardier beetle squirts a mixture of two chemicals from glands in the abdomen which react violently with each other and raise the temperature of the mixture to nearly 100 degrees Celsius. Enough to give any potential attacker a burn they will remember!

Photo of a bombardier beetle

It may look harmless now, but when threatened the fireworks start!


Remember your party trick

Grab yourself some attention and become the talk of the town by performing an interesting party trick for your fellow New Years Eve revellers. The male superb lyrebird’s party bit is impersonations. It has been know to imitate up to twenty other local birds such as the laughing kookaburra in order to make it’s song as complex as possible in the hope a female will be impressed enough to seek him out. Chainsaws and camera shutter imitations have also been incorporated into the songs of birds closer to the activities of humans.

Photo of superb lyrebird vocalising

Superb lyrebird vocalising


And finally – bring your best food dish

Bringing some homemade delights to a New Years Eve party is a sure way to start some conversations. The European bee-eater’s choice of party food may not be to all tastes however, unless you’re partial to dragonfly that is. Like many other birds male European bee-eaters will often offer the female caught prey items as a courtship gift to persuade her to mate.

Photo of a european bee-eater offering prey as a courtship gift
A european bee-eater offering prey as a courtship gift to the female

To all our supporters, contributors and users, the ARKive Team wishes you very Happy New Year!

George Bradford, ARKive Researcher

Dec 27

As we near the end of the year, we decided to look back at ARKive’s most popular blog posts of 2011 – from conservation news stories to our terrific top tens. Which one will be your favourite?

10. Meet the Survival characters – Komodo Dragon

This year saw the launch of ARKive’s free mobile app, a fun, addictive and educational game in which you have to tap, drag, scroll, swipe and pinch your way through a series of quick-fire mini-games. Read more about our app and our survival characters, such as the Komodo dragon, and let us know if this is your favourite blog in our poll!

Komodo dragon image

9. Get fit for summer with ARKive’s animal personal trainers

A post that many seemed to enjoy featured an animal work out with some of our favourite species, such as this leaping Verreaux’s sifaka, to inspire you to get active yourselves. Read more about some active animals, you never know this may be handy for that post-Christmas bulge!

Verreaux's sifaka photo

8. ARKive Challenge: Spot the animal

Have some fun trying to spot these elusive creatures, which are all well adapted to hide in their habitats. From a pygmy seahorse to this well hidden Arctic hare, can you find them all? Let us know if this is your favourite!

Arctic hare photo

7. In the News: Eastern puma declared extinct

One of our most popular blogs featured the sad news of the extinction of the Eastern puma, a subspecies of the puma, ending its 38 years on the Endangered Species Act. Read more on this story, and let us know if you think this is the most important story of 2011.

 Photo of an Eastern puma

6. In the News: Spiders under threat

It is great to see that so many of you care that many spiders are vulnerable to human impacts, such as this Critically Endangered peacock parachute spider. Have a look at our blog about this study, and vote if you are a creepy crawly fan!

Peacock parachute spider photo

5. ARKive’s Top 10 Sharks

A fascinating and diverse group, our blog about sharks proved popular this year, with ten of our favourites and some great facts about them. With species like this tasselled wobbegong, it is not surprising this blog was so popular!

Tasselled wobbegong photo

4. ARKive’s Top 10 Ugliest Animal Babies!

Something to make you laugh, this blog features some great pictures of some of the least beautiful animal babies! With shrivelled-looking hedgehogs and this ghoulish turkey vulture chick, this blog is sure to make you chuckle! Let us know if it is your favourite.

Turkey vulture chick photo

3. ARKive’s Top 10 Grumpiest Faces

Another blog to giggle at, with some of ARKive’s grumpy-looking species. We all feel grumpy at some point, so this blog celebrates some animals we can all relate to, featuring some weird and wonderful creatures like this forlorn looking shortnose batfish.

Shortnose batfish photo

2. In the News: Rhino poaching in South Africa continues to surge in 2011

Another serious story with the terrible news that in the first half of this year alone, 200 rhinos were killed in South Africa. Read more in our blog, and let us know if you think this is the best or most interesting blog of 2011.

Black rhinoceros photo

And the blog that was read the most in 2011 was…

1. In the News: Rare forest antelope captured on camera

The fascinating news that Africa’s most endangered antelope, the Critically Endangered Ader’s duiker, was caught on camera traps in the highly threatened Boni-Dodori forest in Kenya. Is this your favourite blog?

Ader's duiker photo

Have a read of our top ten blogs from this year – from those that make you laugh, to those that inform about the latest endangered species stories from the news, and vote in our poll for your favourite!

Rebecca Taylor, ARKive Media Researcher


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