Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Silky Anteater - The Smallest Anteater

The silky anteater, sometimes known as the pygmy anteater is the smallest anteater in the world, just slightly bigger than your hand!  What does the silky anteater have in common with some monkeys?  The silky anteater has a prehensile tail, meaning they can hang onto trees by their tail, leaving their hands free to eat.  The silky anteater eats up to 5000 ants a day, so you can understand why they would need to have their hands free!
The baby anteater is adorable.  Both parents care for the baby anteater and dad will give the baby anteater piggy back rides until the baby anteater is 9 months old and able to move by itself!  The baby anteater enjoys a healthy diet of regurgitated ants that its parents bring back.  Who's hungry?
If you are looking for a silky anteater try looking in Southern Mexico, through to Bolivia and parts of Brazil but your chances of seeing a silky anteater aren't very good since they are nocturnal (active at night), although you might hear one since the silky anteater emits a shrill call when scared or threatened.  Sources:  EDGE Mammals: Silky Anteater, Silky Anteater. See a video of a silky anteater

Help Save the Silky Anteater
The population of silky anteaters is not known since they are so hard to find, but it is thought that the silky anteater has been negatively impacted by habitat destruction, primarily due to cattle, soybean plantations, agriculture and logging.

(top) Silky anteater photo courtesy of:  Fincas Las Brisas
(right) This looks like a photo of a baby anteater, but it's actually an adult female silky anteater.  Silky anteater photo courtesy of:  Sabalolodge

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Vaquita - One of the Rarest Animals on Earth

If you ever get a glimpse of a vaquita, you will have the honor of reporting the 66th sighting of a live vaquita ever!  That's right, to date only 65 confirmed sightings of vaquita have ever been reported.  Despite its critically endangered status, the vaquita is very easy going, taking its time swimming and even eating.  If you see a large vaquita, chances are its female and not male, since female vaquitas are larger than male vaquitas. 

Vaquitas live close to shore in shallow lagoons where there is a strong tidal pool mix, meaning lots of choices for dinner, but vaquitas are not picky eaters. 

Vaquitas are elusive creatures and are shy of boats.  If you have never heard of a vaquita, it may be because these shy creatures also go by other aliases including cochito and gulf porpoise.  These shy creatures are also the smallest marine cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises) on earth!

Why One of the Rarest Animals on Earth Needs Our Help
Becuase it is one of the rarest animals on earth with an estimated  population of only 150 vaquitas remaining.  Vaquitas are only found in the Gulf of California in Mexico and have the most limited habitat of any cetacean.  The biggest threat to vaquitas is being caught as by catch in commercial fishing operations where they became entangled in fishing line and drown.  The government of Mexico is working to remove all gill nets from the vaquita habitat and to buy out affected fishermen.  Vaquitas habitat has also changed dramatically with the damming of the Colarado River in the U.S. which had a negative impact on the vaquita.  Sources:  Animal Info -Vaquita, Expedition Vaquita, Animal Bytes - VaquitaSee a video of a vaquita.   

Help Save One of the Rarest Animals on Earth - The Vaquita
Vaquita photo courtesy of:  SavetheVaquita

Friday, March 5, 2010

Red Uakari - the Red Faced Monkey

You are looking at a handsome red uakari, and he is not blushing, the red uakari always has a  face that red. Handsome you say? Why of course, because of his red face. The redder the face, the healthier the red uakari is thought to be. A pale face likely means that a red uakari is sick. The red uakari is also a social butterfly living in troops of up to a hundred individuals, then breaking into smaller groups during the day to look for food. The red face of the red uakari may also help them see each other in the dense forest. Unlike most New World primates, the red uakari has a short tail, but that doesn't stop it from making jumps of 20m+ across the rainforest canopy. Who needs a tail for balance, when you're so sure of your skill!

The red uakari is an endangered monkey and is only found in Peru and Brazil in the Amazon river basin living in swamp forests. There are reports that the red uakari has also been seen in Columbia, but these sightings have not been confirmed. The main threats to the red uakari are habitat loss, being hunted for food. I can't imagine eating a red uakari. Sources:  National Geographic:  Red Uakari, See a video of a red uakari in action!

Help Save the Red Uakari
Volunteer with the red uakari on an EarthWatch Expedition
Buy a photo of a red uakari, proceeds go to the Red Uakari Monkey Project
Visit the Amazon Animal Orphanage in Iquitos Peru, where rescued red uakaris may be seen
Volunteer at the Amazon Animal Orphanage and help rescued red uakaris
Donate to the Amazon Animal Orphanage and help pay for the care of rescued red uakaris

Red uakari photo courtesy of flickkerphotos
If you like monkeys, you may also like:  Cute Monkey Pictures  Monkey Mountain in Germany and Observing Endangered Samango Monkeys in iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

Monday, February 22, 2010

European Eel,Why Eel Fishing Needs to Stop and a Cool Eel Video

The European Eel is a fascinating creature and the eel migration is considered one of the great migrations on earth, with European eels travelling up to 6000 km each year from the sea to tributaries an canals along the coast of Europe and the Mediterrean!  European eels are very determined and come overcome many obstacles, Watch the European eel migration in action as European eels climb a wall in this eel video.  European eels are considered a caladromous species - one that lives in fresh water but spawns in the sea, hence the need for the eel migration.

Some obstacles such as dams or other barriers are too difficult for European eels to overcome on the eel migration so eel ladders are built in which eels "climb" the ladder to continue their great eel migrations, Check out how an eel ladder works on this eel video.

European eels make look like snakes, but they're actually fish!  Learn more by watching this European eel video on Monitoring European Eels

Threats to European Eels
European eels are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN with their population decreasing by approximately 90% in the last tweny years.  The major threat to European eels is unsustainable eel fishing.  Over 118,000 tons of European eels are caught each year, many of them when they are in the glass eel stage and haven't spawned yet.  European eels are caught for food and for stock in eel aquaculture in Europe and Asia where they are eaten.  A ban on European eel fishing has been implemented in some countries but many fishermen do not support this and continue eel fishing and risk the fine, which puts further pressure on the almost ready to collapse European eel population.  Complicating matters is a parasite that is predicted to impact 30-100% of the European eel population.  Sources:  IUCN European Eel, Marine World:  Eel stocks dangerously close to collapse

European Eel Conservation
  • - Do not eat European eel
  • - Do not support restaurants that serve European eel
  • - Ban restaurants that do serve European eel such as  the  Baltic ferry operators, including Silja Line/Tallink, Viking Line and Eckerö Linjen, all from Finland who still serve eel to their guests
  • - Write to your local state representative and encourage them to ban eel fishing as Norway has done, the Netherlands has a 3 month ban, but this is not enough
  • - Show your support for a ban on exporting European eels outside of Europe by contacting your state representative
  • -Join Save the European Eel from Extinction Cause on Facebook

European eel picture courtesy of:  Treehugger eel picture

Friday, February 19, 2010

Caribou Facts and Woodland Conservation

The caribou migration is one of the largest in the world with caribou travelling over 2500 km (1600 miles) each year!  Females lead the way in the annual caribou migration with males following a couple of weeks later. 

How do you tell a male from a female caribou?  It's not always easy since caribou are the only deer species in which the females also have antlers.

Baby caribou are also impressive.  When they're born, they are shaky on their feet and can only stand a few minutes, but the very next day, they're starting to migrate.  Talk about fast learners!  Source:  Caribou, National Geographic

Watch the Caribou Migration

Keep the Caribou Migration Going
Caribou are a threatened species and considered endangered in some areas.  The primary threat to caribou is destruction of their woodland habitat due to forestry and natural resource extraction.  Source: Caribou, CPAWS

Take Action for Woodland Conservation
More info:
Help Save Animals
Volunteer Work with Animals
Books About Animals
Canadian Wildlife in the Rocky Mountains

Caribou herd photo courtesy of:  peupeloup

Monday, February 15, 2010

Emperor Penguin Facts

Emperor  penguins were the stars of the movies March of the Penguins and Happy Feet and  for good reason, emperor penquins are fascinating creatures.  Emperor penguins are excellent swimmers and can dive up to 500 m.  Emperor penguins also like to have fun and are good at sliding on ice, no sled required!

Emperor penguins like being around other penguins which is a good thing since they huddle to stay warm and take turns staying in the center of the group which is the warmest, ahh, who knew that emperor penguins were so thoughtful. 

In most species it is the mom who takes care of the babies, but in emperor penguins the father will babysit the egg for up to two months while the mom goes and gets food.  When she comes back the emperor penguin chick is hatched and she feeds him by reguritating her food (throwing up in its mouth).   Yum, anyone hungry?  Source:  Save Happy Feet

Save Emperor Penguins so that the March of the Penguins will continue
Thankfully emperor penguins are not endangered yet but they need our help to stop global warming so that their ice doesn't melt.  You can help save emperor penguins:
More info:

Help Save Animals
Volunteer Work with Animals
Books About Animals

Emperor penguin photo courtesy of:  Take Pride in Utah

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Giant Panda Bear

The giant panda bear cubs are world reknown for their cuteness and love of play.  Who can resist a giant panda bear cub or a panda bear cub playing?  The giant panda bear cub has an enemy that you might not think of, in addition to snow leopards, owls will also eat giant panda bear cubs. 

The giant panda bear loves to eat bamboo, so much so that 95% of their diet consists of this single food!  For a single giant panda bear that means 30 - 45 pounds of bamboo every day!  Even a giant panda bear cub can eat 5 - 10 pounds of bamboo a day!  So much for variety in your diet.  Source an for more information on the giant panda bear. 

Why the Giant Panda Bear is Endangered
The giant panda bear is endangered primarily because of habitat destrictution due to deforestation and farming.  Poaching is another threat.  The giant panda bear lives in restricted mountainous habitats in China.  There is estimated to be less than 1000 giant panda bears living in the wild.

Help Save the Endangered Giant Panda Bear
More info:
Help Save Animals
Volunteer Work with Animals
Books About Animals

Giant panda bear picture courtesy of:  atlassb

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Scalloped Hammerhead Shark and Shark Conservation

The scalloped hammerhead shark is one of the strangest looking sharks on earth with their intriguing shaped head which actually contains sensory organs that help the scalloped hammerhead shark sense the electrical fields of animals.  Even if an animal is not moving, the scalloped hammerhead shark can find prey just by their heartbeat!  Source:  Hammerhead Shark, National Geographic.

At a few spectatcular locations in the world, like Cocos Islands, and the Galapagos you can see large schools of the scalloped hammerhead shark.  These scalloped hammerhead sharks are all female and the most dominant ones are in the center of the school where they are likely to find the best mates. 

Why the Scalloped Hammerhead Shark Needs Immediate Shark Conservation Action
The status of the scalloped hammerhead shark is not known, but  as with all species of sharks, the scalloped hammerhead shark is frequently caught for its fins, which is then made into shark fin soup. Usually the shark fins are cut off the shark while they are still alive and then the remainder of the shark’s body is thrown back into the ocean alive.  The shark suffers a cruel wasteful  death. Last year 100 million sharks were killed for their fins. The scalloped hammerhad shark and and all shark populations everywhere are decreasing rapidly because of shark finning. Scientists estimate that shark populations have decreased by 90% in the past ten years.  

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark Conservation
  • Do not eat shark fin soup.  This is the number one shark conservation act you can do.
  • Support shark conservation by Scuba Diving with Sharks at shark hot spots such as Cocos Islands, and the Galapagos to see the scalloped hammerhead shark and to increase shark conservation efforts
Sign Shark Finning Petitions to show support for shark conservation

See the movie Shark Water to see the challenges of shark conservation. 

Join the Shark Trust to show your support for shark conservation

Participate in a scalloped hammerhead shark tagging expedition at Cocos Islands to help scalloped hammerhead shark conservation at Cocos, one of the few hot spots for the scalloped hammerhead shark in the world!

The scalloped hammerhead shark photo is of one of the females of the infamous schools at Galapagos.

For information on:
Shark Diving in South Africa:  No Cage Required

Whale sharks
Help Save Animals
Volunteer Work with Animals
Books About Animals

Friday, February 5, 2010

Bald Eagle

With a bald eagle you never have to worry about bad body odor since the bald eagle doesn't sweat, but stays cool by panting and staying in the shade.

Did you know that it takes 5 years for a bald eagle's head and tail to turn white?  Up until then, they are a mixture of brown and white and don't look anything what we tend to think a bald eagle looks like.  Source:  American Bald Eagle Information Listen to a bald eagle.  See the Eagle Cam Live Feed.

Why the Bald Eagle Needs Our Help
The bald eagle is listed as threatened in Canada and vulnerable in the United States.  The biggest threat to the bald eagle is illegal shooting.  Lead posioning from eating ducks who have eaten lead, electrocution from powerlines and habitat loss are also threats to the bald eagle.  Source:  Bald Eagle, Defenders of Wildlife.

Save the Bald Eagle
Bald eagle image courtesty of:  Andrew_N

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pygmy Hippo

The pygmy hippo is smaller than their close relatives, the Nile hippo. Their eyes are on the sides of their heads which is also different from the Nile hippo. The pygmy hippo is an elusive creature, they are nocturnal and solitary and spend their days hiding in swamps. One thing we do know though is that you may not want to stand behind a pygmy hippo as they are famous for muck spreading - wagging their tail and defecating so that poop goes everywhere - an efficient way to mark for the pygmy hippo to mark its territory! Source: Pygmy Hippo Fact Sheet.   Video of a newborn pygmy hippo

Why the Pygmy Hippo Needs Help
The pygmy hippo is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. It is estimated that there are only several thousand of the pygmy hippo left. The pygmy hippo only lives in small pockets in West Africa and are primarily threatened by loss of habitat, especially deforestation.

Help Save the Pygmy Hippo

Donate to EDGE's Pygmy Hippo conservation efforts
Sign up for Fauna and Flora's E-Newsletter to find out more about the pygmy hippo
Conduct hippo research. Contact Rebecca Lewison

Pygmy hippo photo courtesy of: Nick Lawes