Monday, November 30, 2009

Greyhound Dog Facts and How You Can Save Them

You may know that greyhound dogs are the fastest breed of dog reaching speeds up to 45 mph, but did you know that greyhound dogs are also considered couch potatoes? That's right, while greyhound dogs are known for their speed, they're not known for their endurance and are quite happy to get in a few runs a week and take it easy in between. Source: Greyhounds

Why Greyhound Dogs Need Our Help
Thousands of greyhound dogs are killed every year when they are no longer able to race. Even when they are racing many are not treated well spending most of their time in small kennels and muzzled.

Help Save Greyhound Dogs

Greyhound dog photo courtesy of: Kjunstorm

Friday, November 27, 2009

Clouded Leopard Facts and How You Can Save Them

Clouded leopards are among the best climbers of all cats - they can even hang upside down from branches! Clouded leopards spend a lot of their time in trees but it's thought that they do most of their hunting on the ground, although they may hunt for monkeys in the trees. They are very mysterious secretive cats that live in the tropical rainforests of Asia - so much so that we know very little about their social behaviour. Listen to a clouded leopard.

Why Clouded Leopards Need Our Help

Clouded leopards are listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Act and a vulnerable species by the IUCN. Clouded leopards are threatened by forest destruction and degradation primarily due to logging, agriculture, especially palm plantations. Clouded leopards are also hunted by commercial poachers and subsistence hunters. Although it is illegal to internationally trade clouded leopards, they are still illegally traded in a corrupt system and are popular as pets and in zoos. Sources: The Clouded Leopard Project

Help Save Clouded Leopards

Clouded leopard photo courtesy of: tim ellis

Red Panda Facts and How You Can Save Them

Red pandas definitely have the cute factor and upping their cute factor even more is that they use their long fluffy tails as wraparound blankets, since they're solitary and don't have a mate to cuddle up with - ahhhh.

Red pandas can be found in the forests of Nepal, northern Myanmar and China. They spend more than 85% of their time in trees and despite only being the size of a raccoon can eat up to 200,000 bamboo leaves in one day! Quite the appetite!

Why Red Pandas Need Our Help
Red pandas are endangered due to deforestation from logging and to make room for agriculture. Habitat fragmentation, poaching for the pet and fur trade have also lead to their endangered status. In China their fur is used to make hats and clothing. Sources: Animal Info: Red Panda, National Geographic: Red Panda

Help Save Red Pandas
Red panda photo courtesy of: Tambako the Jaquar

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fun Narwhal Whale Facts and How You Can Save Them

Narwhal whales are best known for their long unicorn like tusk, which is actually a tooth! If you see a narwhal whale with a long tooth you know it's a male, since female narwhals have a much smaller tooth. Scientists are not sure what function the long tooth serves but it may be used as a weapon, mating, to establish dominance or for channeling solar pulses. I don't think any of my teeth have those abilities!

Despite their long tooth, narwhal whales are preyed upon by polar bears, orcas and hunted for subsistence by Inuits. I'm guessing they must be pretty hungry to go after such a large whale with a gigantic tooth! If you have never been to the Arctic waters where narwhal whales live, you probably have never seen a narwhal whale since they don't do well in captivity. Listen to a Narwhal Whale. Source/more info: Defenders of Wildlife: Narwhal.

Why Narwhal Whales Need Our Help
Narwhal's have long been called the "ivory of the Arctic" and hunted for their long tooth. They are not currently at risk for extinction with estimates of 45,000 - 50,000 narwhals, but they could be if trade for their parts continues. The U.S. and Mexico ban imports of all marine mammal products but many other countries do not which could endanger the narwhal whale, along with many other marine mammals. Source: National Geographic: Hunting Narwhals

Help Save Narwhal Whales

Narwhal whale photo courtesy of: Whale Release and Stranding Newfoundland and Labrador

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fun Komodo Dragon Facts and How You Can Save Them

Komodo dragons are the largest lizards on earth, and can reach 2-3 meters in length! Their large size is due to island gigantism - a biological phenomenon where the size of animals isolated on an island without predators increases over time.

Young komodo dragons hang out in trees - to avoid being eaten by adult komodo dragons. Despite occasionally eating young komodo dragons, birds, bird eggs and the odd monkey or king cobra, komodo dragons primarily eat carrion - carcases of already dead animals.

Komodo dragons rarely attack humans, but will occasionally dig up fresh graves - they are carrion eaters after all! It's a good think komodo dragons aren't overly interested in us since their saliva is very high in e-coli bacteria and can cause severe infection, not to mention the damage their teeth can do. Sources/more info: Wikipedia: Komodo Dragons, The Fierce and Ugly Komodo Dragon Fights On

Why Komodo Dragons Need Our Help

Komodo dragons are listed as vulnerable and are protected under Indonesian law. Unfortunately they're still vulnerable to volcanic activity, earthquakes, poaching, loss of habitat and loss of prey. There are an estimated 4000 - 5000 komodo dragons left.

Help Save Komodo Dragons

Komodo dragon photo courtesy of:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fun Monarch Butterfly Facts and How You Can Save Them

The monarch butterfly's migration from Canada or the U.S. to Mexico is considered one of the most spectacular natural phenomenas in the world! Monarch butterflies fly 1200-1800 miles (1900 - 2900 km) round trip! Pretty impressive for such a small insect!

Most monarch butterflies only have a lifespan of 4-5 weeks, but every fall a special generation of migrating monarch butterflies is born and they live for 7 to 8 months! In human terms, that's equivalent to your children living to be 525 years old.

Why Monarch Butterflies Need Our Help
The monarch butterfly migration is recognized as an endangered biological phenomena. Habitat preservation, especially the wintering habitat in Mexico is key to the survival of the monarch butterfly and is considered the first priority in world butterfly conservation. Sources/more information: Monarch Butterflies: The Monarch of Migration

Help Save Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterfly photo courtesy of: Creativity+TimothyK Hamilton's Photostream

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Blue Footed Boobies and How You Can Save Them

Blue footed boobies are memorable if not for their name (which comes from the Spanish word "bobo" meaning fool or clown, since blue footed boobies are clumsy on land) then for their blue feet which play a role in courtship - the bluer the better when it comes to attracting a mate!

Blue footed babies also exhibit some interesting parenting skills in the Galapagos. They nest on the ground and once the booby chick is hatched they leave it to fend for itself while they go off in search of food. Fortunately the blue footed booby has no predator so the booby chicks are safe - except for the flash of all the tourist's cameras, but the blue footed boobies don't seem to mind, some of them actually seem to appear to pose for the camera. Born stars!

Why Blue Footed Boobies Need Our Help

Fortunately blue footed boobies are considered a species of "least concern" by the IUCN. Their habitat is also protected and they have no predators so they are in better shape than many other species. However they do feed exclusively on fish so it is important to ensure the waters and marine life in the Galapagos are protected.

For more information on the Galapagos see: Travel to Galapagos, Galapagos at the Crossroads: Book Review, Fun Galapagos Giant Tortoise Facts and How We Can Save Them

Help Save Blue Footed Boobies

Blue footed booby photo courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fun Manatee Facts and How You Can Save Them

Would you believe that manatees closest relatives are elephants and hyraxes? That's right manatees are though to have evolved from 4-legged land animals over 60 million years ago.

Manatees are also sometimes called sea cows but despite their slow movements they have a lot going on - their intelligence, learning ability and long term memory is similar to that of dolphins!

Did you know that manatees have bones in their flippers that are similar to the human hand? These bones enable the manatee to move through the water, bring food to their mouth and hold objects. They even have "finger" nails on each flipper.

Look closely at the photo. Notice anything missing? Manatees don't have eye lashes!

Why Manatees Need Our Help
Manatees are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN and endangered by the Endangered Species Act. The leading cause of death for these gentle giants is boats - either by propeller or hull, both of which result in serious if not fatal wounds. Most manatees have scars on their back which scientists use to identify individuals. Global warming, which leads to toxic algae blooms and loss of coastal and fresh water habitat and degradation of their habitat are also threats to the manatee. Sources: Manatee Fun Facts, Florida Manatee

Help Save Manatees

Manatee photo courtesty of: windy234

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

African Wild Dog Facts and How You Can Save Them

African wild dog packs are submission based hierachies, rather than dominance based, meaning that they will beg for food rather than fight for it. African wild dogs will even bring back food, well regurgitate it, for injured or old members of the pack who can't keep up with the hunt. Who knew African wild dogs had hearts of gold?

African wild dogs are also very successful predators with ~80% of their hunts resulting in a kill, a much higher success rate than other carnivores. Perhaps in part African wild dogs are such successful hunters because they have the highest bite force quotient (strength of the bite relative to their body mass) of all carnivores. Pretty impressive!

Why African Wild Dogs Need Our Help
African wild dogs are one of the world's most endangered canids with only ~3000 - 5500 individuals remaining in eastern and southern Africa. They've been persecuted by humans for years, negatively impacted by human overpopulation which has led to habitat loss. They've also been hunted for game and by livestock owners. African wild dogs also live in unprotected areas since most of the national parks are too small to support their packs. Sources: Wikipedia: African Wild Dog, African Wild Dog Conservancy.

Help Save African Wild Dogs
African wild dog photo courtesy of: digitalART2

Monday, November 16, 2009

Greater Horseshoe Bat Facts and How You Can Save Them

One of the coolest things about horseshoe bats is that they give birth upside down hanging by their feet! Can you imagine? They can also live up to 30 years.

Greater horseshoe bats are one of the largest bats in the U.K., but are still only the size of a small pear.

Listen to a greater horseshoe bat. It's a very cool sound.

Did you know that all bat species and their roosts are protected in the U.K. under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981? That's great news for bats!

Source: Bat Conservation Trust: Greater Horseshoe Bat

Why Greater Horseshoe Bats Need Our Help
Greater horseshoe bats like many bats in the U.K., are endangered and the greater horseshoe bat is one of the most endangered mammals in the world. They can now only be found in SW England and S. Whales. Their population numbers have decreased by approximately 90% in the past 100 years. Greater horseshoe bats are threatened in large part because of roost disturbance, agriculture, and the use of pesticides, which has reduced the numbers of one of their favourite foods - beetles.

Help Save Greater Horseshoe Bats

More info: How the bat flap will save endangered species

Greater Horseshoe Bat photo courtesy of: Bat Ecology and Bioacoustics Laboratory, Dept of Biosciences, University of Bristol.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Coral Reefs in Danger and How You Can Save Them

Did you know that while coral reefs might look like plants, they're actually made up of coral polyps which are tiny animals that live in colonies? When they die, their bodies form the reef structure made of limestone.

Many of us have heard of the Golden Triangle, but have you ever heard of the Coral Triangle? It is the most diverse marine environment in the world and encapsulates the Western Indonesia archipelago, Malaysia and a small part of Thailand.

25% of all fish call coral reefs home including reef sharks, clown fish, eels, crustaceans and turtles to name but a few. I'd say they all have a good eye for interior design, since coral reefs are beautiful. Source and for map of coral reefs in danger: Major Endangered Reef Regions

Coral Reefs in Danger
Many coral reefs are in danger from water pollution, bleaching caused by the rising ocean temperature, overfishing, dynamite and cyanide fishing - which is common when fishing for clown fish and napoleon fish, sedimentation and disease. It is estimated that 25% of all coral reefs have already disappeared and 66% of all coral reefs are in danger. 88% of coral reefs in SE Asia are in danger, including the Coral Triangle. We need to act quickly before we destroy the "rain forest of the sea" and the world's most biodiverse ecosystem on earth. Source: Coral Reef Facts

Coral Reef Conservation
Thank you for taking time to help save coral reefs!
Photo of a coral reef in the Red Sea courtesy of: Marcus
You may also be interested in Clown Fish - The Bravest Fish in the Sea?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Purple Frog Facts and How You Can Save Them

The purple frog was only discovered in 2003, perhaps because of it's reclusive lifestyle -it lives underground coming out only during monsoons for about 2 weeks to breed, or perhaps its self conscious about its unique looking appearance?

The purple frog is the first new family of frogs to be discovered since 1926 and has independently been evolving for 130 million years. Can you imagine having cousins that were 130 million years old? The purple frog is thought to have lived with dinosaurs 175 millions years ago. Hmmm, I wonder how dinosaurs and purple frogs got along? Maybe that's why they spend so much time in the ground - hiding from dinosaurs?

Purple frogs are only found in Western Ghats India and their population numbers aren't known. Check out the purple frog's first ever public appearance on video. Source/More info: EDGE: Purple Frog, Purple Frog Pops Up

Why the Purple Frog Needs Our Help
Purple frogs are endangered primarily because of habitat disturbance from humans in the form of habitat loss due to coffee, cardamom and ginger plantations. It's difficult to imagine that we are damaging to the point of endangering such a reclusive species.

Help Save the Purple Frog
Photo courtesy of: EDGE Blog

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Riverine Rabbit Facts and How You Can Save Them

Riverine rabbits are endemic to South Africa and are Africa's only digging rabbit. Females dig boroughs for their newborns, which is nice of them since like all rabbits, newborns are born blind and hairless, completely dependent on their mother.

Riverine rabbits are slower than other rabbits in South Africa so rely on camouflage for protection. You're not likely to see a riverine rabbit unless you are a night owl as they are nocturnal.

Riverine rabbits are not adventurous eaters, with 90% of their diet comprising of Karoo shrubs. This specialized diet means they have limited suitable habitat, none of which is protected -see below.

Why Riverine Rabbits Need Our Help
Riverine rabbits are critically endangered with less than 250 individuals left. They are South Africa's most critically endangered animal and the 13th most endangered animal in the world. None of their habitat is protected and most of it is on farmland. Riverbank degradation, riverine habitat destruction, overgrazing which leads to soil erosion, habitat fragmentation which prevents populations from mingling and therefore breeding and illegal hunting have all lead to the riverine rabbit's critically endangered status. Sources:
Endangered Wildlife Trust Riverine Rabbit, Riverine Rabbit Working Group

Help Save Riverine Rabbits

Photo courtesy of: Ravine Rabbit Conservation Project

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spotted Eagle Ray Facts and How You Can Save Them

The spotted eagle ray, or eagle ray as it is also called, is one of the oddest looking creatures on earth that appears to fly through the water.

Spotted eagle rays frequently travel in schools and it literally looks like a flock of birds flying overhead, except that its a school of spotted eagle rays "flying" gracefully through the water. Truly one of the most impressive sights I have ever seen. To see what I mean, check out this short video of schooling eagle rays.

Spotted eagle rays are also known to leap out of the water, especially when being chased, quite an impressive sight I imagine.

Although spotted eagle rays have a venomous tail spine, they are generally shy and are no threat to humans unless provoked.

Also interesting is that spotted eagle rays, like all rays, are cousins of sharks. Who knew? I personally don't see the family resemblence. Source: Floria Museum of Natural History, Spotted Eagle Ray

Why the Spotted Eagle Ray Needs Our Help
Spotted eagle rays are considered near threatened by the IUCN. Their population numbers are not known making it difficult to define their conservation status. Although spotted eagle rays are rarely eaten for food, they are frequently caught as by catch which is believed to be having a dramatic impact on their numbers. Source: ARKive Spotted Eagle Ray

Help Save the Spotted Eagle Ray

Spotted Eagle Ray in the Galapagos photo courtesy of K Malik

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fun Arabian Oryx Facts and How You Can Save Them

One of the rarest mammals on earth, the Arabian Oryx is a fascinating creature which rivals, perhaps even surpasses the camel in its ability to go without water. Of all the oryx's, the Arabian Oryx live in the hottest and driest habitat so it's a good thing they have a low water requirement.

Surprisingly, or perhaps not, given the hot climate they live in, Arabian Oryx will not win any speed competitions, as they are poor runners, however they have excellent endurance when it comes to walking and have been know to walk over 70 km in one night!

If you are ever fortunate enough to see an Arabian Oryx in person, look closely, at 100m they are almost invisible to the human eye since their hair lacks glare and reflection. Source: The Arabian Oryx Project

Why the Arabian Oryx Needs Our Help The Arabian Oryx' is one of the rarest animals in the world with less than 900 individuals in total. It is a highly endangered species found in Bahrain, Israel, Oman and Saudi Arabia. All of the Arabian Oryx have been reintroduced in each of these countries, as they were previously extinct in the wild and only existed in captivity. In the past, the main threat to the Arabian Oryx was being over hunted for both meat and hides, as well as being hunted for recreation by motorized groups. Illegal poaching of re-introduced oryx's is a constant threat today.

The Oman population faces special problems. Arabian Oryx's are caught illegally for sale to private collections, which is the main threat in Oman. As soon as the animals wander outside the protected areas where they have been released, their safety cannot be guaranteed.

Further compounding the problem is the limited choice of future release sites due to drought and overgrazing. Source: Animal Info: Endangered Animals

How You Can Help Save the Arabian Oryx

  • Visit the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman which was also the region's first UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site and the first one to be deleted Source: UNESCO

  • Sign up to receive updates from the World Wildlife Fund

  • Unfortunately I couldn't find a lot of information on further actions you could take to directly save the Arabian Oryx. If anyone has any, I would love to hear from you to expand this list.

Arabian Oryx photo courtesy of: clairity

Monday, November 9, 2009

Toucan Facts, Toucan Habitat and Toucan Conservation

Toucan Facts
Toucans are best know for being the mascot of Fruit Loops, but there is so much more to these wonderful birds. For starters, there are 42 toucan species ! That's a lot of different toucans!

Toucan's bills are more than half the length of their bodies but are actually quite light. They're made of keratin, the same material your finger nails are made out of. New research shows that their large beaks may actually help them cool off, just like sweating helps us cool off. Wouldn't you rather have a cool beak than sweaty armpits to help cool you off? Source: BBC News Hot Secret Behind Toucan's Bill

The toucan also has an unusual tongue, it is similar to a feather which it uses to catch food, then flick down its throat.  Can you imagine having a tongue that was like a feather?  Another interesting fact about toucans.

Perhaps what the most interesting toucan fact it that they're poor fliers and usually hop everywhere they go rather than fly. Who knew that tropical birds living in the rain forest could be poor fliers? Source: Animal Bytes: Toco Toucan. Listen to a toucan!

Why Toucans Need Our Help
Toucans are close to being a threatened species, with one species listed as endangered. Habitat loss due to logging and agriculture are threatening them as toucans require an undisturbed forest. Toucans do not like to fly in open spaces so roads and clearing are also threatening this delicate species. Source: Toucans: Ramphastidae - Conservation Status. Toucans are also victims of the pet trade since they are so colourful.

Toucan Conservation
Toco Toucan photo courtesy of: Andras Jancsik

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Whale Shark Facts and Whale Shark Conservation

Whale Shark Information
The whale shark is the largest fish in the sea reaching lengths of up to 12 m (40 ft), that's about the size of a bus. You usually feel their presence before you see them, it's a strange feeling to look up and see a 12m fish swimming above you.

Whale sharks have huge mouths, in fact you could fit a Volkswagen beetle in their mouth - gulp! Fortunately their throats are very small and whale sharks feed on plankton and are of no threat to humans. Diving or snorkeling with whale sharks is truly a once in a lifetime experience and I would encourage everybody who has the opportunity to do so. Holbox, Mexico is famous for its opportunity to swim with whale sharks.  If you would like to dive with whale sharks, the Galapagos is a good choice during "whale shark season".  We saw four in two days!

Whale sharks also have their own sort of finger prints - the spots on their body. Each whale shark has its own unique marking, just like we each have our own unique finger prints. In fact if you can ever are fortunate enough to be up close to a whale shark, you are encouraged to snap a photo and send it to the Whale Shark Project where the data is used in migration studies to gain a better understanding of whale sharks. More Info on whale sharks: Whale Shark Facts

Why Whale Sharks Need Our Help

Whale sharks are hunted for their fins which are used in shark find soup, which is very popular in Asia, especially Hong Kong. Over 100 million sharks are slaughtered every year for their fins.

The photo above is of a whale shark we saw in the Galapagos. The tail should be straight but is damaged - likely because of an accidental run in with a boat motor. Whale sharks are considered to be a threatened species but it is widely agreed that more information is needed before their status can be confirmed.
Whale Shark Conservation
It really is amazing all the actions you can take to save whale sharks, even if you are land locked like I am. Thank you for your work on whale shark conservation!

For information on Hammerhead sharks, Leatherback turtles, Coral reefs

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fun Harp Seal Facts and How to Save Harp Seals

Harp Seal Facts
Don't ever try and have a hold your breath competition with a harp seal - they can hold their breath for 16 minutes! You also don't want to have a diving competition with a harp seal - they've been known to dive to depth of 280 meters! You also don't want to have a swimming competition with a harp seal - not only are they fast swimmers and will beat you on speed, but they will also beat you on endurance as well since when they migrate the can cover distances of between 6000 - 8000 km a year! I'm feeling pretty inadequate all of a sudden, how about you?

Why Harp Seals Need Our Help - Sad Harp Seal Facts
Despite being amazing animals, the harp seal hunt, along with hooded and grey seals runs  from mid - Nov to mid-May of each year in Eastern Canada, in what is the biggest slaughter of marine mammals in the world, the harp seals are especially prized. This year the Government of Canada is allowing 280,000 seals to be killed justifying it on economics. Harp seal pups that still have their white fur are no longer killed, but harp seal pups lose their white coats when they are 12 days old, so harp seal pups are still killed, not to mention that the killing of the 280,000 other seals is torture where they are either shot or clubbed to death in front of other seals.

Save Harp Seals
Photo courtesy of: Hugo I-I

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fun Galapagos Giant Tortoise Facts and How We Can Save Them

These fun Galapagos Giant Tortoise facts will focus on the world's most famous tortoise, Lonesome George. Lonesome George has a story that you won't soon forget. He is the last surviving turtle from Pinta Island. Researchers found him and moved him to the Charles Darwin Research Station where they put him in an enclosure with two females. You think that Lonesome George would be excited to see other tortoises after being alone for so long, especially females, but that was not the case. Lonesome George remained elusive, so elusive in fact that he was celibate for 60 years - talk about a dry spell!

In July he finally mated and a female laid eggs. I was fortunate enough to see George at the Charles Darwin Research Station in person a few weeks after this big adventure and waited anxiously with thousands of other people to see if the eggs would be fertile. In September researchers at the Charles Darwin Research Station announced that the eggs were fertile and moved the eggs to an incubator -YEAH! Galapagos giant tortoises live up until 150 - 200 years so Lonesome George still has quite a few years left but hopefully he will live on long after his passing. I can't wait to see what the little Lonesome George's will look like.
Sources: Galapagos Giant Tortoise, Galapagos Conservation Trust
Further reading about visiting the Galapagos : Galapagos Travel

Why Galapagos Giant Tortoises Need Our Help
In the 18th and 19th many tortoises were killed for food by whalers and believe it or not - pirates. Tortoises can go months without food and water so they were the perfect food for long voyages. Then another culprit was introduced. Any guesses? Believe it or not, the goat. Goats multiplied quickly, destroying all the vegetation so Galapagos Giant Tortoises literally starved to death with nothing to eat. The largest animal eradication on earth occurred on Santa Cruz Island where 100,000 goats were eradicated by sharp shooters from the air. It is a fascinating story and I would encourage you to read Galapagos at the Crossroads for more of the story along with other threats to the Galapagos Giant Tortoises and the Galapagos in general. Today, all Galapagos Giant Tortoise eggs are incubated at the Charles Darwin Research Station and then when the tortoises are old enough to survive they're released back into the wild.

Help Save Galapagos Giant Tortoises

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Squirrel Monkey Facts and How You Can Save Them

I must start by offering you some advice, If you ever happen to meet a squirrel monkey, don't try to be polite and shake hands - squirrel monkeys urinate on their hands and feet then walk around to mark their territory. No wonder why squirrel monkeys aren't into shaking hands.

Squirrel monkeys live in large groups with up to 300 individuals. You can imagine how difficult it might be to get the groups attention, but squirrel monkeys are clever and have figured out a way to do this - simply stand up and show off your genitalia. Now that I have your attention.....

Squirrel monkeys make chirp like sounds which sound more like birds than monkeys to me. Listen to a squirrel monkey. What do you think?
Source: Animal Bytes: Squirrel Monkey

Why Squirrel Monkeys Need Our Help
For the first time in decades, NASA is using monkeys to see how the squirrel monkeys will react to the extreme radioactive environment of space. 18 to 28 squirrel monkeys will be used for this experiment. This is barbaric and not necessary. Can you imagine subjecting the adorable squirrel monkey above to radiation which very likely will kill him or leave him in a lot of pain? Get the full story at Discovery News NASA to Start Irradiating Monkeys. Not to mention that squirrel monkeys are an endangered species.

Help Save Squirrel Monkeys
Photo Courtesy of: ifijay

If you like primates check out these links:
Cute Monkey Pictures  
Monkey Mountain in Germany
Observing Endangered Samango Monkeys in iSimangaliso Wetland Park 
Cheeky Vervet Monkeys in Uganda
Macaques in Thailand

Monday, November 2, 2009

Great Grey Owl Facts and How You Can Save Them

I love the great grey owl face, with its distinctive facial disks (feathers around the eyes), but the great grey owl is more than just a pretty face. The great grey owl is able to move feathers on the facial disk to redirect sound to its ears enabling it to find prey easier. Also interesting is that the great grey owl's ears are not symmetrical. One ear is lower than the other so that the owl can choose which ear to redirect the sound too. Can you imagine being able to redirect sound with your face? Pretty impressive.

Despite having much better hearing than eye sight, there's no hiding from the great grey owl. They can actually locate prey in up to 60 cm (2 feet) of snow and then crash through snow that is capable of holding a 180 lb person! We are talking about one of the world's largest owls after all!

Do you know what great grey owls (well all owls actually) have in common with sharks? No, this is not a trick question. Both great grey owls and sharks have a third eye lid called a nicitating membrane. As they go in for the kill when they're hunting prey, the clear eye lid covers the eye protecting it. Pretty cool!

Any idea what baby owls are called? They're not not called chicks, but owlets. How cute is that?

Listen to the calls of the Great Grey Owl.

Why Great Grey Owls Need Our Help
Great Grey Owls are considered a species of "Least Concern" by the IUCN. This is good news for great grey owls but their biggest threat is loss of habitat from logging, especially clear cutting. We need to continue to ensure suitable habitat to ensure the continued success of great grey owls.

How You Can Help The Great Grey Owl

Photo Courtesy of: rogeranderson

Sources and for more information: Owl Pages, Great Grey Owl Wikipedia

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tasmanian Devil Facts and How You Can Save Them

I confess that I didn't know much about the Tasmanian devil until I started researching for this post, perhaps this is because outside of Australia, the only Tasmanian devils are found in the Copenhagen Zoo. This is due to Australian laws, but what I discovered is truly fascinating.

First of all, did you know that the Tasmanian devil is the world's largest surviving carnivorous marsupial. Quite the mouthful! The Tasmanian devil is also known for a less dubious honour. It has terrible body odour when agitated. Some say it rivals the skunk. Note to self, if you see a Tasmanian devil do not irritate it.

Also interesting are the vocalizations of the Tasmanian devil which is often described as a screech. Listen to a Tasmanian devil. I can't say I've ever heard a sound like that before.

Why Tasmanian Devils Need Our Help

Tasmanian devils are only found in Australia in the state of Tasmania. They are an endangered species. It was believed they hunted livestock so Tasmanian devils were shot for what they might do, when in fact they are opportunistic feeders, feeding mostly on carrion (animals that are already dead). Fortunately it is now illegal to kill Tasmanian devils, but they now face a rather unusual threat - the strange devil facial tumour disease, an aggressive parasitic cancer that is capable of wiping out between 20 -100% of Tasmanian devil populations.

Help Save Tasmanian Devils
Source and photo credit of Tasmanian Devil with devil facial tumour disease: Wikipedia
Photo of Tasmanian Devil courtesy of: themachobox