Radiated Tortoise Falls Victim to Illegal Trade

iridating tortoise 0011 Radiated Tortoise Falls Victim to Illegal Trade

Radiated Tortoise Tortellini? A pet tortoise named Fido? If ether of these thoughts appeals to you, we know who to come after. Illegal trade of Madagascar’s radiated tortoise – both for pets and for food – are to blame for the endangered status of this precious reptile.

Found along a narrow section of Madagascar’s southern coast, the radiated tortoise (Geochelone radiata) is among the largest and most beautiful of the world’s tortoises. Natural herbivores, their diet consists mostly of grass and pasturage, with fruits and succulent plants thrown in as a delicacy.

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Whales Should Watch Out For Ships | Not Vice-Versa

northern atlantic right whales predator ships 011 Whales Should Watch Out For Ships | Not Vice Versa

If you think whales are only under threat by the Japanese and the Norwegians, you might be surprised to learn that we Americans are on the animals’ most feared list as well.
How, you ask? Ships. Off the Georgia coast, “slow-moving, endangered whales” crawl along their migratory route. The trouble is, Charleston Harbor falls in the middle of that route and it harbors of a lot shipping interest.

So, the ships just need to steer clear, right? Well, yes. In theory. However, whales are already in the danger zone.

Ships are one of the leading causes of unnatural death among the North Atlantic right whales. “Scientists have warned that the unnatural death of even one breeding female has the potential to tip the species toward extinction. From 2002 to 2006, there were 17 confirmed deaths by ship strike, at least six involving adult females”. The right whale grows to about 60 feet and is “black with distinctive white markings”. Heavy hunting in the 1800s severely depleted stocks. The remaining whales are now extremely rare. Particularly at risk are the female whales, who come to the area to birth and nurse. As they don’t feed during this time, they’re often weaker and more susceptible to being hit than their male counterparts.

northern atlantic right whales predator ships 021 Whales Should Watch Out For Ships | Not Vice Versa

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Cambodia Poachers Get a New Job Title, Ranger and Bodyguard!

spot billed pelicans Cambodia Poachers Get a New Job Title, Ranger and Bodyguard!

From poachers to rangers, a tale of 30 men who help seven species of rare waterbirds enjoy a population comeback of epic proportions. Sounds like the synopsis of a Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s actually real life.

A new report by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) reveals that the population of several rare waterbirds from Cambodia’s Tonlé Sap region have rebounded due to a novel project which employs former hunters and egg collectors as park rangers to provide Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Create Your Own Safe Haven for Endangered Pecos Sunflower

pecos sunflowers1 Create Your Own Safe Haven for Endangered Pecos Sunflower

Franz Heigl painted them. So did Claude Monet. Vincent Van Gogh immortalized them forever, while H. Vogel penned a mathematical model for the pattern of their florets.

In case you haven’t guessed, I’m writing about sunflowers. They were given their name because they display heliotropism (or an orientating response to the sun) at bud stage. The heads literally follow the sun from east to west. But did you know that some species of sunflower are endangered? Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

A Restraining Order For Sea Lions?

nautre sea lions restraining order A Restraining Order For Sea Lions?

Upon hearing the term “restraining order”, one usually conjures up images of domestic disputes between the rich and famous. But what about a restraining order imposed by the Human Society of the United States on the National Marine Fisheries Services over the capturing or killing of sea lions who feast on salmon in a Columbia River dam?

Interesting, right? With more legs than a salacious E! special. (Not that seals or salmon have legs, but you know what I mean.)

In a motion filed in the U.S. District Court, the Humane Society wants a permanent injunction imposed on agents from the Fisheries Service to prevent them from taking sea lions from the Bonneville Dam. If the request is denied, they plan to seek a temporary restraining order instead.

nature sea lion A Restraining Order For Sea Lions?

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Abominable Lizard Found

abominable lizard found oldest fossil1 Abominable Lizard Found

Did you hear the one about Charles Darwin’s abominable mystery? No? Well, it goes something like this… For the vast majority of earth’s history, plants didn’t have fruits or flowers. So, how did we go from gymnosperms (primitive plants without flowers) to angiosperms (flowering plants), and when?

The answer could lie in the recent discovery of the oldest known plant-eating lizard.

The 130 million-year-old jaw and skull bones of the Kuwajimalla kagaensis was recently found in the Ishikawa Prefecture of Japan. Its discovery knocks the 100 million-year-old North American Dicothodon off the top spot as the oldest known plant-eating lizard. The discovery of this plant-eating lizard could indicate that angiosperms were in existence millions of years earlier than previously thought. “By finding this particular fossil from Japan, it might suggest that flowering plants were already there, but we don’t have direct evidence yet,” said study team member Makoto Manabe of Japan’s National Science Museum in Tokyo.

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Ominous Shadows on Our Oceans

human shadows on our oceans 01 Ominous Shadows on Our Oceans

Scientists from several institutions around the world just released a report showing that roughly 40% of all oceans – deep water and areas in and around coastlines – are highly impacted by humans. Hardly a revelation, right? (I’m giving this one a 10 on the “No Duh!” scale.) What really took me by surprise is the fact that this information is just now being published.

To their credit, the scientists have been compiling data from 17 different data streams – a very tricky enterprise – that include shipping, fishing, pollution, temperature changes, acidification (from excess CO2), and invasive species. The good news is that 4% of the oceans rated as “pristine”; the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans remain intact. But as global temperatures rise and fish stocks decline, we’ll probably have a negative impact there as well. Maybe we’ll even engineer corn that will grow in both salt water and snow.

human shadows on our oceans 04 Ominous Shadows on Our Oceans

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What’s Bugging The Bees (Experts Have Some Clues)

bee yellowflower01 What’s Bugging The Bees (Experts Have Some Clues)

G Living has been covering the very important story about the Worlds Bee populations dying at a very alarming rate. Entire colonies just die off, leaving bee keeps to come back to empty hives. A German theory that radiation given off by mobile phones and other hi-tech gadgets is a possible answer to one of the more bizarre mysteries ever to happen in the natural world – the abrupt disappearance of the bees that pollinate crops. But now a new story in the L.A. Times says the more likely answer is a fungus.

(summary of l.a.times.com article) A fungus that caused widespread loss of bee colonies in Europe and Asia may be playing a crucial role in the mysterious phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder that is wiping out bees across the United States, UC San Francisco researchers said Wednesday. But the results are "highly preliminary" and are from only a few hives from Le Grand in Merced County, UCSF biochemist Joe DeRisi said. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

The Maternal Instincts of Side-Blotched Lizards

nature side blotched lizard1 The Maternal Instincts of Side Blotched Lizards

Even those of us without kids of our own can comprehend the maternal instinct women have to protect their children. (If you can’t comprehend this, you might be a threat to society and should submit yourself for testing.) Mothers, consciously or not, have a predisposition toward arming their offspring with the necessary skills to survive in this crazy world of ours. Research has shown that animals have this instinct as well. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Kakapo | Long Live New Zealand Birds

kakapo new zealand birds1 Kakapo | Long Live New Zealand Birds

The last time I wrote about an endangered New Zealand bird, it was Rachel Hunter’s portrayal of Ginger on “The Real Gilligan’s Island” (the danger came courtesy of her competition, “the other Ginger” — Baywatch’s Nicole Eggert). Yeeeesss.

Let’s start again, shall we…?

Good news for New Zealand’s most endangered bird, the kakapo. This year’s breeding season is going swimmingly with two fertile eggs being laid on Codfish Island and “two female birds, previously thought to be too young, also laying eggs”. These are the first eggs in three years and, according to Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick, it’s a welcome surprise that two six-year-old birds produced eggs when it was previously believed that the minimum breeding age was nine. (Isn’t it funny that in the bird community this is seen as good news, whereas in human society, it would be creepy? Right, Jamie Lynn?)

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The Return of the Welsh Reef Worm

nature alveolata honeycomb worm 011 The Return of the Welsh Reef Worm

Okay, so worms don’t make cute T-shirts or catchy slogans. “Save the worm” is about as appealing as “doing the worm” on a first date. However, the 4 cm long sabellaria alveolata or honeycomb worm as it’s known in the hood, is capable of some pretty impressive reef building. After a 60 year absence, the worms are back in North Wales, and in just two years, they’ve created an incredible lunar-like reef along a 350 m long beach in Llanddulas, situated between Old Colwyn and Abergele, Conwy.

“Many areas of honeycomb reef have been lost from our shores, possibly due to pollution, coastal engineering work or even bait digging” said the Countryside Council for Wales’ intertidal team leader, Gabe Wyn. “But the reef worm’s return to Llanddulas means that the conditions here must be just right for it and is an encouraging sign about the health of the environment along this part of the Welsh coast.”

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Saiga | Is the End in Sight?

saiga antelope1 Saiga | Is the End in Sight?

If you type “saiga” into the fountain of all knowledge (I refer you to the infamous Wikipedia), it redirects you to the Saiga Antelope, adding: “For the shotgun named after the antelope, see Saiga-12”. Which is ironic when you think about it, as poaching is one of the main reasons this beautiful creature is now an endangered species. With its population dwindling a staggering “95% in just 20 years” — from one million in 1988 to a mere 50,000 today — the saiga is facing the threat of extinction Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

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