Feb 1

Species name: lappet-faced vulture

Nominated by: Pro Wildlife

IUCN Red List classification: Endangered

What is so special about your species?

In our society vultures are an omen of death. The myth that vultures circle dying animals waiting for their meal is deeply rooted and has badly damaged the image of those majestic animals. However, vultures fulfil an important function within our ecosystems and are highly specialised. For example, their strong stomach acid can kill deadly bacteria which allows them to safely digest carcasses infected with dangerous diseases such as anthrax and hog cholera bacteria.

Many vulture species are threatened with extinction which has the potential to destabilize entire ecosystems, as vultures play an important role in disposing of dead animals.

What are the threats to this species in the wild?

Habitat loss and degradation, and toxins are the main threats faced by vultures.  African species, such as the lappet-faced vulture, have become victims of the cattle drug ‘diclofenac’ and poisons used to kill predators such as jackals and hyenas.  Vultures are also deliberately poisoned by poachers as their circling behaviours act as an alarm for authorities and expose the poachers’ illegal activities.

Vultures only produce a few offspring during their lifetime, resulting in a slow recovery from dramatic population crashes.

What can people do to help your species?

Worldwide banning of the chemicals that kill vultures indirect would help them to recover themselves. By combating illegal poaching in Africa, the cause for systematic poisoning of vultures can be tackled. Pro Wildlife supports local organisations to stop the illegal hunting of animals and to maintain the balance of the ecosystem.



Feb 1

Species name: red-footed booby

Nominated by: Chagos Conservation Trust

IUCN Red List classification: Least Concern

What is so special about your species?

With a funny name comes some funny feet, but no one can deny that the red footed booby is one of the most beautiful seabirds found in the Chagos Archipelago and certainly stands out in a crowd!  With their bright red feet they are ready for Valentine’s Day every day.  These colourful birds spend much of their time on the islands of the archipelago with regular visits to the ocean to feed.  Having an aerodynamic body and closeable nostrils means they can dive into the water to catch squid and small fish with ease.

What are the threats to this species in the wild?

In the Chagos Archipelago invasive black rats are one of the biggest threats to red footed boobies. These seabirds nest on the ground providing easy access for these introduced predators to prey on eggs and chicks. Out at sea, overfishing threatens the food supplies for red footed boobies.

What can people do to help your species?

Always choose sustainably sourced seafood to ensure that there is enough available for the other species that depend on seafood for their survival. You can also support the Chagos Conservation Trust in its efforts to eradicate invasive black rats from the islands of the Chagos Archipelago.





Sep 29

Thirteen ocean creatures have surfaced all around Bristol’s BS5 postcode, snapped by some of the world’s very best wildlife photographers. To prove how turtle-y awesome they all are, we’ve created blogs on all of the featured species sharing ten epic facts about them! Sail your way around the exhibition by downloading your very own map and guide.

1) Northern gannets are the largest gannet subspecies, and also the largest seabird in Britain.

2) Scotland is home to over 40% of the world’s northern gannet breeding population.

3) If you’re lucky enough to see gannets travelling out to sea you’ll notice that they do so in large groups, sometimes up to 1,000 birds strong – a seabird squadron!

4) Seabirds have to be light enough to soar in the sky for long stretches of time and buoyant enough to float when they rest on the ocean’s surface. Some seabirds are so light and buoyant that they actually have trouble getting under the water at all!

5) Gannets are champions among the divers and can plummet into the ocean from as high as 40m, diving as deep as 35m.

6) When these seabirds hit the surface of the water they can be travelling as fast as 96km/h!

7) Air sacs between the sternum (chest bone) and chest muscles help to cushion the impact of fast diving.

8) They have nostrils that open inside, not outside, their bill to prevent water rushing up their nose when they dive.

9) Gannets don’t take off with their catch, they quickly swallow their fish before resurfacing, often whole. Greedy guts!

10) During the breeding season, gannets increase blood flow to their feet, helping them to incubate their eggs. The feet act like little hot plates to keep the eggs nice and toasty.

Sep 29

Thirteen ocean creatures have surfaced all around Bristol’s BS5 postcode, snapped by some of the world’s very best wildlife photographers. To prove how turtle-y awesome they all are, we’ve created blogs on all of the featured species sharing ten epic facts about them! Sail your way around the exhibition by downloading your very own map and guide.

1) Sorry if this ruins many of the Christmas cards that you see from now on, but no penguins live at the North Pole.

2) Penguins swallow pebbles and stones as well as their food. Scientists believe that the stones may help grind up and digest their food.

3) Penguins can drink seawater, despite its heavy salt content.

4) The characteristic black and white plumage of penguins serves as camouflage while swimming. The black plumage on their back is hard to see from above, while the white plumage on their front looks like the sun reflecting off the surface of the water when seen from below, making them masters of disguise.

5) The fastest species is the gentoo penguin, which can reach swimming speeds up to 35km/h! To put that in to perspective, Michael Phelps swims at about 9.6km/h.

6) Little penguins are the smallest penguin subspecies, averaging around 33cm in height.

7) Unlike most birds which lose and replace a few feathers at a time, penguins moult all at once, in what is called a ‘catastrophic moult’, during which time they remain on land.

8) Because many male penguins incubate eggs, pudgy males – with enough fat storage to survive weeks without eating – are most desirable. Bring on the Dad bod!

9) Penguins can dive to depths of over 250m, although the deepest dive ever recorded was by a female emperor penguin who dived to 535m!

10) Climate change is likely to affect the numbers of krill, and thus affect the penguin numbers as well. Since the 1970s, krill density in some areas has decreased by 80%. When the bottom of the food chain is wiped out, it is seriously bad news for everyone else.

Feb 7

#LoveSpecies nominee: helmeted hornbill

Nominated by: World Land Trust

Why do you love it?

The fierce appearance of the world’s largest hornbill, with a battering ram of solid keratin fixed to their face, suits its medieval mating rituals. The males clash mid-air in head-to-head combat (an impressive display called aerial jousting) to win access to fruiting fig trees. Females then lock themselves up in nesting holes with mud, where they lay their eggs and rely entirely on their mate for their survival, and that of their offspring. 

What are the threats to the helmeted hornbill? 

The helmeted hornbill is targeted by poachers for the helmet-like casque on the upper half of its beak. Unlike other hornbills, this casque is made from a solid ivory-like substance, which makes them a prime target for the illegal wildlife trade.

In recent years, demand for hornbill ivory has seen a concerning rise, with around 6,000 helmeted hornbills lost every year, causing them to be classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List.

Helmeted hornbills are also highly threatened by the rapid rates of forest loss. The escalation of illegal logging and land conversion, as well as forest fires, has significantly reduced suitable habitat for the species.

What are you doing to save it?

World Land Trust (WLT) works in Malaysian Borneo with conservation partner Hutan to preserve habitat for endangered species like the Helmeted Hornbill. As well as funding the purchase of land to create important wildlife corridors, WLT funds the employment of members of local communities to manage and protect the land, and to encourage sustainable, traditional practices.

As the hornbill’s natural habitat is declining Hutan has also established a next box programme to provide safe nesting locations where hornbills can be monitored.


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