Friday, 23 January 2015

Wildlife news and discoveries.

Hello and a belated happy new year to you all ! I hope you  had a great Christmas and spent plenty of time with your friends and family. Some of you may be wandering why there has been such a long gap between this and my last post. Well, the primary reason has been the result of an unfortunate incident wood chopping. Although this allowed me to sport a very impressive bandage for a while and able to tell a tale of woe to tell anyone who would listen, it also rather incapacitated my left hand and made typing far trickier ! Anyway, stitches removed and now over my traumatic ordeal, I'm back and keen to share with you some awesome wildlife news ! As always I appreciate feedback so feel free to comment and I hope you enjoy reading about the latest incredible findings in the natural world as much as I did. 

India's Tiger population on the increase.

Despite the sickening illegal trade in tiger parts still present as one of the primary threats to the worlds tigers, new research  on India's tiger numbers are encouraging. Between 2006 and 2014, an increase of 60% in population mean India is now home 2,226 individuals at the time of research. This makes up more than half of the worlds tiger population. This  increase in tiger numbers has been credited as the result of improved protection and management in tiger reserves and tiger protected areas.
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Cambodia home to new species of legless amphibian. 

In the Cardamom Mountains of Cambodia, Ichthyophis cardamomensis of the amphibian order caecilian, has been discovered. This new species is only the second caecilian species now known to inhabit Cambodia. In tropical and subtropical areas, caecilians feed on a variety of invertebrates, while they themselves are a key prey item for the red tailed pipe snake. 
The Cardamom Mountains which are home to 80 species threatened with extinction, have shown a glimpse into a biodiversity largely unknown to science. This new discovery further illustrates their importance to the natural world. The region is under threat however as a result of logging, land concessions and varying forms of habitat destruction. I am sure I am not alone in finding the thought of losing this ecological gem deeply disturbing.

To access the full article

How to deter an Elephant.

There can be little doubt that elephants are truly majestic animals. With humbling family bonds and remarkable intelligence, they are a perfect example of nature at its most magnificent. They can and often do however spell disaster for farmers in Africa and Asia who can suffer devastating losses as a result of the damage inflicted to their crops. Tragically, human loss of life also occurs with locals often unwittingly startling elephants with dreadful consequences. There are a variety of measures now in place to deter elephants from encroaching into areas of human habitation, here are a couple of my favorites.

Recorded tiger vocalization has been found to prevent elephants from entering crop fields. This comes as a result of elephants natural caution towards tigers as their calves have been recorded as prey items of the big cats. Research conducted in 2010 situated around two areas in southern India, found that when elephants heard the growls of captive tigers and leopards as a consequence of tripping an infra red beam, they would react by silently leaving the area. Research is now ongoing into creating commercially available  devices for farmers in the near future.  

Chili as a deterrent.

Capasaicin, the chemical responsible for the heat in chilis, has been found to cause elephants to cough, sneeze and eventually retreat research has found.  In Africa, some farmers are using this to their advantage by planting chili plants around their crops which then serve as a source of extra income. The Elephant Pepper Development Trust now teaches South African farmers to use rope fences which have engine oil and chili smeared on them and mount them with cow bells to act as a deterrent to elephants.
In Asia, farmers are also using chili as a way to deter elephants away from their crops. For example, in southern India farmers employ a mix of red chili pods, tobacco, hay and seeds encased in newspaper to cause a foul smelling smoke. Experts however warn of the risks of unguarded fields and advise chili to be used in combination with other deterrents rather than as an isolated form.

To read more of the deterrents being developed to reduce the risk of human- elephant conflict follow this link -

And speaking of Elephants......

Courtesy of GPS, it has been found that elephants can find rainfall from 100km away.  There is no definitive explanation for their ability to do this, but scientists believe  it may be they are able to hear the low ultrasound created by thunderstorms. 
BBC Wildlife January 2015.

Remote control Eels.

Not only do electric eels use their incredible predatory adaptions to stun their prey, new research has revealed their prey have further reasons to fear their underwater nemesis. While searching for their hidden target, eels produce pulses of electricity which are able to attach the prey species nervous system, causing involuntary twitches and subsequently reveal its position.

BBC Wildlife February 2015. 

Life Story.

Anyone who watched this series will surely consider it a privilege, I certainly did, it was truly breathtaking. I've attached the trailer for the series below to give a sample of the incredible wildlife behavior captured on film during the series.

That is all for this occasion and thank you for reading. I will be shortly producing a new blog dedicated to paleontology.  If that is of interest to you, your support would be much appreciated ! Have a great weekend,
Twitter- reallywildwykes.