Tag Archives: Animals

In Just 2 Years, 4 Amazing Animals Rediscovered on ‘25 Lost Species’ List’

Andy Corbley 
Aug 20, 2020

Just over two years since Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) promoted their ’25 Most Wanted’ list of ‘lost species’, a series of rediscoveries has reduced that number down to 20.

On expeditions around the world, in recent months scientists have been going into the deepest jungles, and to the remotest parts of various countries, all in the name of preserving biodiversity.

Take a look at the charismatic flora and fauna that are now known to still be with us, and celebrate these fascinating finds.

From ‘Lost’ to Found

1. Jackson’s Climbing Salamander
Last Seen: 1975. Rediscovered: 2017

Credit: Carlos Vásquez Almazán

The first species on the 25 Most Wanted list to be rediscovered happened by complete accident, and actually occured months before a GWC-planned expedition to Guatemala’s Cuchumatanes Mountain range to look for the animal.

Discovered by a guard at the GWC-founded Finca San Isidro Amphibian Reserve while on patrol, the story of the “golden wonder” rediscovery will make your heart swell with joy, and includes the culmination of herpetologist Carlos Vásquez Almazán’s life’s work, as well as the rediscovery of two other lost salamander species in the process.

Long and gold like crystallized honey, with a black racing stripe down its back, the salamander’s rediscovery was “for me personally… a moment of sheer joy,” says Vasquez.

2. Wallace’s Giant Bee
Last Seen: 1981. Rediscovered: 2019

38 years is a long time to go without seeing the world’s largest species of bee, one that possesses a wingspan of 2.5 inches. Four times larger than the European honey bee, this giant insect was rediscovered in 2019 on the Indonesian islands known as the North Moluccas.

You can hear the passion in Clay Bolt, the man responsible for its rediscovery, when he spoke to GWC about what it was like to scratch the second species off the 25 Most Wanted List.

“It was absolutely breathtaking to see this ‘flying bulldog’ of an insect that we weren’t sure existed anymore, to have real proof right there in front of us in the wild,” said Bolt, who spent years researching the right habitat type with trip partner, Eli Wyman.

“To actually see how beautiful and big the species is in life, to hear the sound of its giant wings thrumming as it flew past my head, was just incredible. My dream is to now use this rediscovery to elevate this bee to a symbol of conservation in this part of Indonesia, and a point of pride for the locals there.”

3. Velvet Pitcher Plant
Last Seen: 1918. Rediscovery: 2019.

Illustration credit: Originally published in Danser, B.H. 1928

As mentioned above, this species disappeared from the scientific record just as quickly as it entered. Hailing from the bizarre world of carnivorous plants, the velvet pitcher plant was rediscovered in May 2019 on the slopes of a mountain called Kemul, which GWC describes as sitting in the “most remote, last-remaining large patch of true wilderness in Borneo.”

4. Silver-Backed Chevrotain
Last Seen: 1990. Rediscovery: 2019.

Credit: Global Wildlife Conservation

Knocking three species off the 25 Most Wanted list in a year, GWC was delighted when they were able to confirm the existence of the aptly-named “fanged mouse deer”—the first mammal on the list to be rediscovered.

Scientists know almost nothing about the general ecology or conservation status of this species, making it one of the highest mammal conservation priorities in the Greater Annamite Mountains of Indochina, one of GWC’s focal wildlands.

Using local knowledge, the GWC-backed research team placed camera traps around areas where locals claimed to have seen a chevrotain with a silver stripe down its back, distinguishing it from the lesser mouse deer, which is far more common.

This resulted in 275 photos of the species. The team then set up another 29 cameras in the same area, this time recording 1,881 photographs of the chevrotain over five months.

5. Somali Sengi
Last Seen: 1968. Rediscovered: 2020.

Credit: Steven Heritage at Global Wildlife Conservation

The discovery, as GNN reports, of the “tiny elephant shrew” marks the first African animal on the 25 Most Wanted list to be found, as well as the only one to be found living in relatively stable and healthy populations.

A distant relative of goliaths like the manatee and elephant, this tiny incarnation of trunked-mammals races around as fast as an olympic sprinter, vacuuming up ants with its nose in much the same way as the aardvark.

An expedition beginning in 2019 looked to utilize local knowledge about the sengi from the people of Djibouti, rather than the country of the sengi’s namesake. The locals got it completely right, and it took only one trap filled with coconut, peanut butter, and yeast to find the little guy.

“It was amazing,” Steven Heritage, a research scientist at Duke University in the US, told the Guardian. “When we opened the first trap and saw the little tuft of hair on the tip of its tail, we just looked at one another and couldn’t believe it. A number of small mammal surveys since the 1970s did not find the Somali sengi in Djibouti—it was serendipitous that it happened so quickly for us.”

Looking forward

Using renowned and talented artists to help depict the 25 Most Wanted on the GWC website, the conservation charity tries to portray the animals as works of art, and their potential extinction as akin to losing a priceless painting or sculpture.

GWC is currently awaiting a DNA test result to confirm whether or not the Fernandina Galapagos Giant Tortoise can become the first reptile on the list to be rediscovered. So who knows? Soon that Most Wanted list may go down to just 19.

‘Extinct’ Large Blue Butterfly is Reintroduced in the Wild After 150-year Absence

ELIAS MARAT
August 15th, 2020

A large blue butterfly that was previously extinct has been successfully reintroduced to the UK, with the pollinator repopulating large parts of the country after an absence of 150 years.

Some 750 of the large blue butterflies, which are marked by distinct rows of black spots on its forewing, have been spotted this summer around Rodborough Common in Gloucestershire, southwest England – a higher number than anywhere else in the world.

In 1979, the butterfly was declared extinct and hasn’t been seen in the Rodborough region for 150 years. The Large Blue is one of the rarest of Britain’s Blue butterfly species, reports BBC.

Last year, conservationists released some 1,100 larvae to the region after meticulously preparing the landscape for the butterflies’ return.

The globally endangered large blue butterfly has a unique life cycle that begins with tiny caterpillars tricking the area’s red ant population (myrmica sabuleti) into hauling them to their nest, while even “singing” to it, after which the parasitic larvae feast on ant grubs before emerging a year later as butterflies.

“In the summer when the ants are out foraging, nature performs a very neat trick — the ants are deceived into thinking that the parasitic larva of the large blue is one of their own and carry it to their nest,” said research ecologist David Simcox in a statement.

“It’s at this point that the caterpillar turns from herbivore to carnivore, feeding on ant grubs throughout the autumn and spring until it is ready to pupate and emerge the following summer.”

Controlling the red ant population was a crucial component of the project to reintroduce the blue butterflies.

For five years, a range of experts from the National Trust, Butterfly Conservation, the Limestone’s Living Legacies Back from the Brink project, Natural England, Royal Entomological Society and the Minchinhampton and Rodborough Committees of Commoners collaborated to prepare the area for the butterflies.

Cattle grazing was kept in check and the area’s scrub cover was reined in to help the area’s ant population, while wild thyme and marjoram plant growth was encouraged to ensure that the butterflies have their natural source of food and egg-laying habitats.

“Butterflies are such sensitive creatures, and with the large blue’s particular requirements they are real barometers for what is happening with our environment and the changing climate,” said commons area ranger Richard Evans. “Creating the right conditions for this globally endangered butterfly to not only survive but to hopefully thrive has been the culmination of many years work.”

The butterfly was reintroduced to the UK after caterpillars were brought to the country from Sweden in an ecologist’s camper van, writes The Guardian.

Experts now say that the large blue butterfly has “stronghold” sites around the country and have also naturally colonized areas across southern England.

The return of the rare large blue to the region marks one of the most successful insect reintroduction projects to date, and marks the culmination of a nearly four-decade conservationist effort in Europe.

“One of the greatest legacies of the re-introduction is the power of working together to reverse the decline of threatened species and the benefit the habitat improvements will have for other plants, insects, birds and bats on the commons,” Evans said.

Great News For Tiger Populations Surging in India and Discovered in Thailand – On World Tiger Day 2020

In a triumphant moment for the endangered species, new photos released today on World Tiger Day 2020, revealed sightings of numerous new tigers in a region of western Thailand for the first time in four years.

Issued for the 10-year anniversary of global awareness around tigers, the high-definition videos and photos were obtained with remote camera traps utilized as part of an ongoing wildlife monitoring program by Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), Panthera, a global wild cat conservation group, and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

The region is adjacent to the largest remaining, and only second-known breeding population of Indochinese tigers in the world.

These sightings are extremely encouraging for the future of tigers in our country and beyond,” said Chief of the Wildlife Research Division for DNP, Dr. Saksit Simcharoen.

The partners ultimately hope to achieve Thailand’s goal of increasing tiger populations by 50% by 2022.

RELATEDCouple Buys Up Acres Around Indian Tiger Reserve For Reforesting So Big Cats Can Roam

Panthera’s Dr. John Goodrich, stated, “In a sea of news casting doubt on the future of our planet’s wildlife, this development is a welcome sign of hope and potential turning of the tide for the Endangered tiger in Thailand.”

Panthera

At the first global tiger summit, and the launch of the first International Tiger Day, the governments of the 13 tiger range countries resolved to double the number of tigers by 2022—and “great” progress has been made.

“Tigers are finally making a remarkable comeback in much of South Asia, Bhutan, Russia, and China,” said WWF in a statement today.

Nepal reported it was the first country to double its tiger population in 2019, but India, in particular, has been touting its success.

A tiger census released last year in India, where 70% of tigers are located, reported that populations there had nearly doubled in 12 years—from 1,400 to nearly 3,000 in 2019.

LOOKTiger Family Pose For Amazing Selfies Before Knocking Out Camera’s Memory Card

In 1973, India had just 9 tiger reserves, but today, the nation has 50 reserves with a total of 2,967 tigers, reported Union Forest and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar yesterday.

Around 3,900 tigers remain in the wild across the globe, according to World Wildlife Fund.

WATCH the HD camera trap video… (Top photo by Vincent van Zalinge in India)

Check out the first-ever tiger prosthetic, and all of GNN’s tiger good news stories here.

For the Love of Animals: New Bill Would See Convicted Animal Abusers Displayed in Online Registry

Elias Marat, TMU
Waking Times

A bipartisan bill introduced in North Carolina would create an online registry of residents convicted of abusing animals, with their photos and names on display for at least two years.

The bill, titled the North Carolina Abuser Registry Act and introduced by North Carolina Sens. Floyd McKissick (D-Durham) and Danny Britt (R-Robeson), would see the state’s Department of Public Safety create a public online registry that would display a mug shot of the abuser from their time of booking, their full name and other identifying information.

The registry would work in a similar manner to state sex offender registries. While first-offenders would be placed on the registry for two years, subsequent offenses could land someone on the list for five years. Additionally, repeat offenders would be forced to give up their animals and would also be prevented from owning an animal for five years under the proposal.

According to local television outlet WRAL, last year over 100 pending court cases in North Carolina would qualify for such an animal abuse registry similar to one that has existed in the state of Tennessee since 2015, which focuses on violent felony pet abuse. Cases include a cat-hoarding woman, a man who beheaded his mother’s miniature pinscher, and cases involving violent crimes toward pets.

Yet the North Carolina Abuser Registry Act has a much broader definition of abuse, which includes everything from neglect to cockfighting, inhumane animal transportation and maliciously chaining up dogs. Under the act, residents in the state such as a woman who recently pleaded guilty to 10 misdemeanor animal cruelty charges after her horses were discovered starved to death would certainly be listed on the proposed registry.

Speaking to CNN, Sen. McKissick noted that the legislation is a result of his “longstanding interest” in the problem.

“There’s been increasing instances of animal abuse and we really need to do anything we can to let people know this just isn’t acceptable conduct,” he commented, adding that the proposal joins a number of similar actions in other states to create registries of animal abusers.

In Indiana, lawmakers are also looking to create a similar registry. The bill is currently being considered by the state Senate Judiciary Committee.

Speaking to WRTV, Sen. J.D. Ford (D-Indianapolis) noted that Indian’s bill is popular and aims to protect local animal populations. The senator also noted that the problem isn’t solely a question of animals alone, explaining:

“Not only do we need to take animal cruelty seriously, but keeping an animal abuse registry would also help illuminate the link between animal abuse and violence towards humans. Intentional animal cruelty can be a sign of psychological distress and many times will identify individuals who are predisposed to committing acts of domestic violence.”

Florida has also considered a bill that would establish an animal abuse registry. In Ohio, a large county also launched a registry following the passage of a law that elevates some animal abuse cases from a misdemeanor to a felony.