(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)
At least 11 wild elephants died after plunging from a waterfall in a national park in Thailand, wildlife officials said Tuesday.
Five elephant carcasses were confirmed Tuesday from drone cameras days after six elephants were first spotted, said Sompote Maneerat, spokesman for the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department.
The animals were found at Haew Narok – Ravine of Hell – waterfall in Khao Yai National Park.
Park officials said five adult elephants and a calf were found at the waterfall Saturday. Officials said the baby elephant drowned and the five adults, found in a ravine below the baby, fell trying to reach it.
The five additional elephants confirmed Tuesday were from the same herd, and only two elephants from the herd survived the incident, said Nattapong Sirichanam, governor of Nakhon Nayok province, according to Reuters.
The two surviving elephants had been trapped on a cliff above the baby elephant, park officials said.
A similar incident killed eight elephants at the same waterfall in 1992, and Sompote said the 11th death is the highest number of elephants to die in a single incident in Khao Yai.
According to Reuters, 3,500 to 3,700 wild elephants remain in Thailand. The park is home to about 300 elephants, the news agency reported.
Asian elephants are classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The surviving elephants will probably experience grief. When two elephants died this year at an Indianapolis zoo, officials confirmed that the rest of the herd reacted emotionally.
“We know that elephants grieve. They are intensely social,” Indianapolis Zoo President Rob Shumaker said.
Contributing: Joel Shannon, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
Follow USA TODAY’s Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller
The Rafah Zoo in the southern Gaza Strip was known for its emaciated animals, with the owners saying they struggled to find enough money to feed them.
In April, international animal rights charity Four Paws took all the animals to sanctuaries, receiving a pledge the zoo would close forever, AFP reported.
But last month it reopened with two lions and three new cubs, penned in cages only a few square meters in size.
Critics say the owners want to bully Four Paws or other animal welfare organizations into giving them thousands of dollars to free the animals into their care.
Four Paws paid the zoo’s owners more than $50,000 in the year before its closure for medical treatments, food and caretakers.
The zoo’s owner insists the reopening is solely for the enjoyment of local residents.
Meanwhile, when AFP visited the zoo recently, the badly stuffed corpse of a lion was displayed near the entrance. An ostrich in a three-meter-square pen pecked endlessly at the cage’s bars, while two monkeys sat chewing on litter.
At the far end the lion and lioness were kept in separate cages, each only a few square meters.
The owners were seeking to remove the cubs from their mother to play with visiting children.
To do so they hit the lioness with sticks and banged on the cage to confuse her, with staff later taunting her when the cubs had been taken out.
“A lion needs 1,000 square meters to play in. Here they have seven square meters,” Mohammed Aweda, a prominent animal enthusiast in Gaza, told AFP.
“The zoo won’t survive during the winter, because they are lacking in daily goods which cost a lot. For you or I or anyone who owns a zoo (in Gaza), the economy is very tough.”
The newly reopened zoo’s manager Ashraf Jumaa, from the same family that owned the old one, said they brought the new lions through tunnels from Egypt. However others suggested they were bought from another animal centre in northern Gaza.
He denied they wanted to blackmail Four Paws.
“The first goal is entertainment, not trade. The main reason we reopened the zoo was people in the area that supported us,” he said.
He said it would be less expensive because there were fewer animals, but admitted they would struggle to afford enough food once the cubs were fully grown.
“Every day they will need between 22 and 30 kilos of meat costing between 100 and 150 shekels (between $28 and $43),” he said.
They currently receive around 50 visitors a day, he said, with tickets on average costing two shekels (around $0.50).
Four Paws said footage it saw from the zoo was “very concerning”.
“The animals are not kept in species-appropriate conditions. They seem to be in bad conditions and urgently need medical attention and proper food,” it said
An official from the Gaza agriculture ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there had been no coordination regarding the zoo’s reopening.
According to AFP, he said Gaza needed a large park meeting international standards.
The age of the dinosaurs has fascinated the modern imagination for centuries. Often, we are tempted to think of the era as an ancient time when all our favorite dinosaurs squared off against one another in a battle of survival.
However, dinosaurs ruled Earth for a period spanning hundreds of millions of years, during which world-ending events occurred, and the planet changed in ways that are almost difficult to imagine. Here is a guide to the different time periods during which the dinosaurs roamed the planet.
The overall time period in which the dinosaurs lived was known as the Mesozoic Era. The Mesozoic Era lasted 180 million years, from 248 million years ago to 65 million years ago. It was preceded by the Paleozoic era, during which life began to take shape, and was followed by the Cenozoic Era, in which we live.
The Mesozoic Era is divided into three distinct time periods:
During the Mesozoic Era, mountains rose, climates shifted, and life reshaped itself multiple times.
The first period of the Mesozoic era was the Triassic period. During this time, all the continents were still connected in one giant super continent, known as Pangaea. Temperatures were warmer and there were no polar ice caps.
The oceans teemed with life during this period. Turtles and fish were common, and the corals developed alongside mollusks and ammonites. Large marine reptiles were present as well, such as the plesiosaurus and ichthyosaurus.
On land, early dinosaurs and mammals evolved, and the first flying reptiles, the pterosaurs, took to the skies. There were no flowering plants or grass present during the Triassic period, but cycads, ferns and ginkgoes grew near water sources such as rivers or streams. Small forests of conifers grew in some parts of Pangaea, but for the most part, inland areas were arid deserts with little or no plant or animal life.
The Triassic period came to an end with a mass extinction that wiped out over 90 percent of the species on Earth. The animals that survived this event began to repopulate the planet and usher in the Jurassic period.
The Jurassic period was marked by the slow break-up of Pangaea into two smaller landmasses known as Laurasia and Gondwana. When the supercontinent split, new mountains arose in the sea, pushing the sea level up and creating a much wetter, more humid environment.
Ferns and mosses covered much of the ground while the small coniferous forest of the Triassic period expanded to cover wide swaths of the two continents.
Giant dinosaurs ruled the land, the largest of which was the plant-eating Brachiosaurs, which scientists believe could grow to be 80 feet long and 50 feet tall. These large herbivores were hunted by massive carnivores such as the Allosaurus.
The Jurassic period also saw the first birds diverge from the reptile family, and the Archaeopteryx flew above these massive dinosaurs.
During the Cretaceous period, the continents continued to drift apart and end in the locations that we know them today. The climate became both wetter and cooler, resulting in the emergence of the polar ice caps and setting the stage for the glaciers that covered large parts of North America, Europe, and Asia in the following era.
The drifting continents resulted in increased specialization and many new types of dinosaurs. Triceratops and Iguanodon traveled in herds, feasting on the ancestors of the flowers, herbs and broad-leaved trees that populate Earth today.
These massive plant-eating animals were hunted by the famous Tyrannosaurus Rex. Snakes first developed during this time period, as well as crocodiles and turtles. Insects and pterosaurs flew in the air, and the first mammals scurried across the ground.
Despite the proliferation of life during this period, another mass extinction followed a natural disaster at the end of the Cretaceous period. While both reptiles and mammals survived in small numbers, the age of the dinosaurs came to an end.
In light of this vast history, do you ever wonder what lies ahead for both Earth and us?
(CNN)A newly-identified eel living in the Amazon basin can deliver record-breaking electric jolts, according to a study published Tuesday.
One of the most notorious invasive species around, the lionfish, is known for its voracious appetite and can literally eat its competitors out of an ecosystem. And that’s what the striking fish is doing, feasting its way through waters that stretch from the Gulf of Mexico to the Eastern Seaboard.
Now, scientists and startups are crafting methods for capturing and killing the hungry invaders. But while these new ideas show promise, tried-and-true spearfishing seems to be the most effective way to eradicate lionfish, scientists told Live Science.
“It’s actually hard to describe how a lionfish eats because they do it in a split second,” said Kristen Dahl, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Florida. Lionfish use a complex series of tactics that no other fish in the world is known to employ. In the blink of an eye, a lionfish goes from silently hovering above its prey to flaring its fins, firing a disorienting jet of water from its mouth, unhinging its jaw and swallowing its meal whole, scientists reported in a study published in 2012 in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series. The attacks happen so quickly that nearby fish don’t seem to notice.
“It’s actually nice when I’m looking at gut contents,” Dahl said, “because if something has been freshly eaten, it’s in immaculate condition.”
Lionfish (Pterois volitans) are one of the most notorious invasive species in the United States. Their bold colors and frilly fins make lionfish popular in the aquarium trade; over the past 25 years or so, it seems aquarium fish owners have sometimes dumped unwanted lionfish — which are native to the Indo-Pacific region — into the Atlantic Ocean, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Their popularity in the aquarium trade has also spurred several breeding programs.
Lionfish are fast and powerful, but their biggest advantage is novelty. Atlantic prey fish simply don’t know what’s going on. Biologists call this phenomenon prey naivete, and they believe it is largely responsible for the lionfish’s dramatic success as an invader.
Since the first breeding populations were spotted off the coast of North Carolina in 2000, lionfish have rapidly overtaken coastal environments in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.
“Sightings increased rapidly in 2004 along the Atlantic seaboard of the United States,” according to Pam Schofield, research fishery biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey.
“Lionfish sightings quickly spread throughout the Caribbean and then the Gulf of Mexico,” Schofield, who tracks non-native marine fish in U.S. waters, told Live Science. There are now breeding populations in the coastal waters of Venezuela, throughout the coastal Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. On the Eastern Seaboard, breeding populations extend into North Carolina, and stray individuals are seen as far north as Massachusetts, Schofield said. Reports of lionfish sightings have tapered off since their peak in 2010, but that’s probably not because their populations have decreased — lionfish are so pervasive that spotting one is no longer noteworthy.
Lionfish aren’t easily caught when traditional fishing techniques are used, so a number of research groups and startup companies are developing novel tools for managing the invasion. These include specially designed traps that lure in lionfish while sparing native species, remotely operated vehicles that allow a human pilot to remotely spear lionfish and autonomous hunting vehicles that use artificial intelligence to find the fish themselves. While some progress has been made in new technologies, spear guns used by scuba divers still seem to be the tool that’s most effective tool at killing them, Dahl said.
Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a leader in lionfish management, has a number of incentive programs to entice recreational and commercial scuba divers to harvest lionfish, according to the FWC. The lionfish derby is one of the most successful management tools being used today. At a derby, spearfishing divers spend a day working together to remove as many lionfish as they can. At the larger derbies, organizers award prizes to the teams or individuals who catch the biggest, smallest or most lionfish. “The derbies are a good opportunity to educate people about the lionfish and about the danger of releasing aquarium fish into the wild,” Dahl said. She’s worked and volunteered at dozens of derbies. “If enough people learn about this invasion, maybe there won’t be another ‘lionfish.'”
Culling lionfish one by one will never eliminate the species from the Atlantic, but it can help mitigate their effects. While a single lionfish can eat a lot of native fauna, lionfish wreak havoc on a reef only after their populations reach a certain density, researchers reported in 2014 in the journal Ecological Applications. And the incentives seem to be working. At a handful of popular dive sites in the Florida Keys, recreational divers are so diligent in culling invasive lionfish that it is unusual to see a single one, according to several dive tour operators.
Scientists knew from the start that population growth would eventually taper off as lionfish populations reach the point at which there’s no more food or habitat to support additional individuals. But the number of lionfish in parts of the Gulf of Mexico where Dahl and her colleagues have tracked their populations for several years have actually declined. It’s too early to say what’s behind the change, but Dahl points to a poorly understood parasitic skin lesion that “has put a dent in their population.”
Now, less than two decades since the invasion began, ecologists are still trying to learn enough about lionfish to manage the new invasion.
“We’re not sure if [the population decline] is going to last or if it’s a boom-bust population cycle,” Dahl said. “It could be a little bit of both. We aren’t really sure.”
Originally published on Live Science.
Sharks are magnificent predators that represent an impressive evolutionary success story. They’ve swum the oceans for more than 400 million years, diversifying over time to inhabit rivers and lakes as well. About 500 known species are alive today, and there are likely even more yet to be discovered.
Sharks can be huge, like the massive whale shark (Rhincodon typus); or human-hand-size, like the pocket shark (Mollisquama parini). However, it’s the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) that typically commands the public’s imagination. These sharks have a reputation for aggressiveness toward people, shaped by decades of terrifying portrayals in movies. In fact, these fearful pop-culture portraits of great whites are so pervasive that they might lead some people to wonder if the world would be better off with no sharks at all.
But what might the oceans look like if all of the sharks disappeared?
Related: 7 Unanswered Questions About Sharks
Sharks make their homes in ecosystems around the world, including shallow mangrove habitats, tropical coral reefs, frigid Arctic waters and the vastness of the open ocean. Regardless of where sharks live or how big they are, all of them are predators and, therefore, are vitally important to the health of their habitats, said Jenny Bortoluzzi, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Zoology at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland.
Fish-hunting sharks weed out weak and sick individuals, ensuring that the fish population remains healthy and at a size that the habitat’s resources can support. These fearsome predators can even help to preserve their ecosystems through their presence alone, Bortoluzzi told Live Science in an email. For example, tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) that live in seagrass meadows scare away turtles and keep them from overgrazing the vegetation, she explained.
Sharks also play a role in regulating oxygen production in the ocean, by feeding on fish that devour oxygen-generating plankton, Victoria Vásquez, a doctoral candidate with Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in California, told Live Science in an email.
Coral reef environments are another good example of sharks’ importance for overall biodiversity and ecosystem health, said Toby Daly-Engel, an assistant professor in the marine science department and director of the Shark Conservation Lab at Florida Tech.
“If the sharks disappear, the little fish explode in population, because nothing’s eating them,” Daly-Engel told Live Science. “Pretty soon, their food — plankton, microorganisms, little shrimps — all of that is gone, so all the little fish ultimately starve.”
When that happens, algae and bacteria move into the reef, covering the coral so that it can’t photosynthesize. “The coral will die, leaving just its skeleton behind, which eventually turns into limestone,” Daly-Engel said. “Then, in come the animals like starfishes and sea urchins; we call those grazers. So instead of a bunch of different species — sharks, bony fishes, invertebrates and mollusks — you end up with a reef with four to five species in it, tops. That’s a dead reef.”
Sharks serve another important role in ocean food webs: They are food for marine carnivores. Dead great white sharks that washed up on South African beaches without their livers were thought to have been victims of orca attacks. And video footage recently showed a dogfish shark (Squalus clarkae) feeding frenzy on the bottom of the Atlantic that ended with a grouper swallowing one of the sharks whole. Even octopuses are known to feed on sharks, as demonstrated in a video that National Geographic posted to YouTube in 2009.
Migrating sharks, such as the gray reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos), also provide nourishment for organisms in multiple locations in the ocean, by leaving behind generous helpings of their nitrogen-rich poo, marine biologist Melissa Cristina Márquez wrote in Forbes earlier this year. Márquez is the founder of The Fins United Initiative, which provides educational resources about sharks and their close relatives skates and rays.
In fact, gray reef shark forays between coastal waters and the deep sea in the Pacific Ocean’s Palmyra Atoll bring the reef more than 200 lbs. (95 kilograms) of nutritious nitrogen per day, Márquez wrote.
Approximately 25% of all shark, skate and ray species are currently threatened with extinction, according to the Smithsonian Institution’s Ocean Portal. Because sharks have few babies and are slow to mature, their numbers aren’t replenishing quickly enough to keep up with losses from commercial fishing, Daly-Engel said.
In recent decades, some shark populations have declined by up to 90%, reflecting an unsustainable trend of overexploitation in ocean habitats, according to Bortoluzzi.
“Many species also face the loss of habitats, with refuge areas such as mangroves being destroyed to accommodate our growing human population, and habitats such as seabeds and reefs being damaged by destructive fishing methods such as trawling,” Bortolozzi said.
What does the future hold for sharks? Federal legislation and international treaties such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora can help to protect vulnerable populations. But many shark species are poorly understood, which can hinder conservation efforts, said Michael Scholl, CEO of the nonprofit Save Our Seas Foundation.
“Government institutions must have validated information to support significant decline in populations, for example,” Scholl told Live Science in an email. To that end, Save Our Seas works alongside marine researchers to gather shark data that can inform much-needed protective measures; the nonprofit also works to raise public awareness of shark diversity and its importance to their marine ecosystems, Scholl said.
But sharks may be running out of time. And if they were to disappear, the repercussions on ocean food webs would ultimately affect humans, too.
“Fisheries may collapse, with artisanal fishers being the likely most affected, and popular tourism destinations which rely on sharks to attract tourists will also suffer greatly,” Bortoluzzi said.
“It’s important to understand that as much as our oceans need sharks, so do we,” she added.
Editor’s note: The article was updated on Sept. 9 to correct the species of dogfish shark that was swallowed by a grouper in a YouTube video: Squalus clarkae, not Squalus acanthias.
A Georgia kayaker says he could only think of paddling faster after realizing he wasn’t alone in a pond.
Bo Storey told WRDW-TV , “I just paddled and paddled. …” on Monday to get away from a 10-foot, 360 pound (163.29 kilogram) alligator that got as close as 5 feet (1.52 meters) from the back of his kayak.
News outlets report Richmond County deputies received a call from Storey saying he was being chased by the behemoth. Storey was practicing for a bass fishing tournament. Deputies arrived on the scene and wrestled the massive gator with help from hunter Trey Durant and his friend Robby Amerson.
The alligator was clearly not afraid of humans and was deemed a nuisance so it was legally killed by Durant.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)
Wildlife officials are investigating why panthers and bobcats in three Florida counties are walking abnormally and having extreme difficulty controlling their back legs.
The cats appear to have no trouble using their front legs, but their hind legs crisscross and sometimes completely give out under their weight as they walk, causing them to stumble, then struggle to continue walking, trail footage from counties of the west coast of southern Florida shows.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said Monday that the agency has confirmed neurological damage in one panther and one bobcat, while video footage captured in Collier, Lee and Sarasota counties show eight panthers and one bobcat demonstrating varying degrees of the leg condition.
Another panther photographed in neighboring Charlotte County could also be suffering from the condition, according to the FWC. The affected panthers in the video are mostly kittens, while the bobcat is an adult.
Wildlife officials are also reviewing video footage from other areas, but the problem seems to be localized.
“While the number of animals exhibiting these symptoms is relatively few, we are increasing monitoring efforts to determine the full scope of the issue,” Gil McRae, director of the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, said.
McRae said experts have ruled out “numerous diseases and possible causes,” leaving the cause a mystery. “We’re working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a wide array of experts from around the world to determine what is causing this condition,” he said.
The FWC is now testing the cats for toxins, including rat poison, along with possible infectious diseases and nutritional deficiencies.
The agency asked local residents to share personal surveillance footage that might show the animals having trouble with their legs.
Florida panthers, which are native to the state, are an endangered species, with approximately 120 to 230 adult panthers in the population.
Postcards From Around The World
It's all about life and it's glory. No negativity in it though it always remains in everyone's life.It is our duty to make sure that negativity doesn't stop us from living a life of King Size.
Presenting and Preserving the Past
It might not always go according to plan. But plans are made to be broken.
You mustn’t be afraid to sparkle a little brighter!
Just another WordPress.com weblog
discover what's in my heart, let our minds travel and discover, see the world in my head
Dogs are animals of integrity. We have much to learn from them.
Loving One Another