Dec 29
Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus) photo

Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus)

Species: Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus)

 Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: The Barbary macaque is the only primate, apart from humans, to live in Europe, and the only macaque to live outside of Asia.

The Barbary macaque can be found in Algeria, Morocco, and Gibraltar. These large monkeys are highly social and live in troops of 12 to 60. In an unusual mating system, females may mate with all male members of the troop. This means that males can never be sure of paternity and encourages all males to play with, groom and protect the young troop members.

Barbary macaques were once found throughout North Africa but now only exist in small areas. This species is threatened by habitat loss from logging and human settlements, as well as hunting, forest fires, livestock grazing and drought. Seen as a symbol of Gibraltar and valued as a tourist attraction, these macaques are given some protection. There are plans to reintroduce these monkeys to national parks in Libya and Tunisia. Active and effective conservation policies are needed to protect this charismatic species.

Find out more about the Barbary macaque on the Natural History Museum website.

See images and videos of the Barbary macaque on ARKive.

Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Researcher

Dec 25

Season’s greetings to all our supporters, contributors and users, and a very Happy New Year!

 Season's Greetings from ARKive!

Dec 24

To round off 2012 the ARKive team brings you a little festive fun with some side-splitting, wildlife-themed holiday jokes.

Whether you love them or loathe them, for many of us around the world festive jokes are as traditional as mistletoe and carol-singing at this time of year. So to give our jokes an animal twist, we have turned to nature’s comedians for inspiration and delved into the ARKive collection to unearth our wittiest wildlife quips.

So hold onto your hats and indulge in ARKive’s top ten holiday jokes!

Ho, Ho, Ho!

Reindeer © Niall Benvie / Wild Turkey © Rolf Nussbaumer /
What do reindeer hang on their Christmas trees?
Why did the turkey gobbling match get cancelled?
There was too much ‘fowl’ play!
Eurasian lynx © Mark Hamblin / American beaver stripping bark from felled trees
How do cats greet each other at Christmas?
“A furry merry Christmas & happy mew year!”
What did the beaver say to the Christmas tree?
Nice gnawing you!
Emperor moth © Laurie Campbell / Fly agaric © Duncan McEwan /
What do caterpillars do on New Year’s Day?
Turn over a new leaf!
Why invite a mushroom to the Christmas party?
Because he’s a ‘fun-gi’ to be with!
Forest elephant © Martyn Colbeck / Great white shark © Andy Murch /
What’s the elephant’s favourite Christmas carol?
The holly and the ‘ivory’!
Who delivers sharks’ presents at Christmas?
Santa jaws!
Mallard © North American porcupine © Barbara von Hoffmann / Animals Animals
What’s a duck’s favourite food at Christmas?
Christmas ‘quackers’!
What kind of pine has the sharpest needles?
A porcupine!

Season’s Greetings to all our supporters, contributors and users, and a very Happy ‘Gnu’ Year!

From all at ARKive and Wildscreen.

Dec 22
Christmas frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi) photo

Christmas frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi)

Species: Christmas frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Interesting Fact: Males have a scarlet gular pouch (a large pouch below the bill) which becomes more vibrant during the mating season and is inflated during courtship displays.

Spending most of their time at sea, the Christmas frigatebird only returns to land to roost and breed. The frigatebird is only known to breed on Christmas Island in the northwest Indian Ocean. These large seabirds feed mainly on flying fish and cephalopods from the surface of the water, but will also harass other seabirds for food.

The Christmas frigatebird is confined to a few breeding colonies on a single island, making the population vulnerable to chance events. In the past, these birds have been threatened by habitat destruction and human predation. Pollution from phosphate mines caused a major nesting site to be abandoned, and displaced birds may now be using much poorer habitats in which to breed. Two of the three current breeding populations are found within Christmas Island National Park, and these birds are protected by Migratory Bird Agreements between Australia and other countries. The population size still needs close monitoring as this species remains highly vulnerable to extinction.

Find out more about the Christmas frigatebird on the Australian Government website.

See images and videos of the Christmas frigatebird on ARKive.

Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Researcher

Dec 19

South Africa is a nation rife with natural beauty. Found on the southern-most tip of the African continent it is bordered by five other countries including Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Swaziland.

Famous for its captivating and exquisite wildlife, South Africa is a popular travel destination for travellers wanting to experience spectacular flora and fauna. To help you save on the air fare, we thought we would showcase just some of the amazing species found in South Africa as part of this months installement of ARKive Geographic.

Sandy Serpent

Photo of Namaqua dwarf adder camouflaged in the sand

Sometimes the best things come in small packages, or perhaps the most powerful! The Namaqua dwarf adder is one such example, being the smallest venomous snake in the world. Reaching a maximum of 28 centimetres, this true viper has an attractive broad and triangular head, a heavy body covered in protruding scales, and retractable hollow fangs used to inject venom into its prey. This dune-dwelling reptile is classified Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, primarily due to mining activities and collection for the pet trade.

Rooted in Riches

Silver tree leaves

The silver tree is a shining beauty, growing on the slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town. What makes this tree unique is its silver sheen and velvety leaves, which are covered in tiny hairs to protect it from desiccation and being eaten. The fruit of the silver tree will ripen over several months and is sometimes not released from its woody sheath for several years. This hearty plant can live for up to 80 years, yet is considered Vulnerable due to excessive leaf collection and other invasive plant species.

Shy Guy

Brown shyshark on seabottom

Lacking the fierce predatory nature of its larger relative, the great white shark, this brown shyshark is much less dominating in appearance and behaviour. In fact, its name comes from its tendency to coil its tail around its eyes as a defense against predators when it is caught or picked up. It prefers to feed on lobsters and smaller fish, and is endemic to waters around South Africa in the western Indian Ocean.

Stately Stepper

Male secretary bird displaying

The secretary bird is a large bird of prey from the African grasslands, whose name stems from the peculiar long feathers on the back of its neck which are said to resemble the quill pens that secretaries used over a century ago. This unique bird is also known as the ‘marching eagle’ as it prefers to move around on foot. It can easily cover 20-30 kilometers a day hunting opportunistically for food, taking mongooses, hares, snakes, lizards, squirrels and even freshwater crabs! The secretary bird has an intricate courtship routine that involves pendulum displays in flight.

A Rare Hare

Riverine rabbit

The critically endangered riverine rabbit is one of the rarest terrestrial mammals endemic to South Africa. What makes this lagomorph unique is that it typically produces only one kitten (baby rabbit) a year. The riverine rabbit is nocturnal and feeds on flowers and grasses at night. Over the past century, two-thirds of its habitat has been lost and it is estimated that only 250 individuals remain in the wild.

A horse of a different colour

Cape mountain zebras

What would a zebra be without its stripes? While zebras may all blend together in a herd, different zebra species have distinguishing characteristics, and each individual has a unique stripe pattern. The mountain zebra is discernible from other zebra species by the thin and relatively closely spaced vertical black lines on its neck and torso, and the ‘grid iron’ pattern of narrow stripes across the rump. The Mountain zebras also has a square flap of skin, or dewlap, on its throat. Hunting and habitat loss are primary threats to this black and white beauty.

Savannah Sovereign

African lioness covered in blood from a kill

While the range of the lion is not restricted to South Africa, it is difficult to overlook this ‘king of beasts’. An iconic species, lions inspire us with their courage, strength and spirit. This magnificent big cat is built to prey on animals many times its size, including African buffalo, hippos, and even elephants while hunting cooperatively! Male lions are larger than females and possess a mane of hair around their heads, a unique feature unique amongst the cat family. Some of the biggest threats that lions face are habitat loss, human conflict and over-hunting.

While these species are truly magnificent, they are only a small sample of what you can see in South Africa. Haved you visted before, or is it on your travel wishlist? Let us know, and please share your favourite South African species with us on our Facebook or Twitter page!

Maggie Graham, ARKive Program Assistant


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