Archive for July, 2010

Asia’s Most Endangered Otter Rediscovered in Malaysia

Camera traps in the Deramakot Forest Reserve of Malaysia’s Sabah state have captured images of the hairy-nosed otter. The otter had not been seen in Sabah in a century, and the last one known in all of Borneo was an animal that was struck and killed by a car in Brunei in 1997. The otter was photographed as part of the Conservation of Carnivores in Sabah (ConCaSa) project being conducted by the German-based Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research and the Sabah Forestry Department. Although the photograph was taken in 2008, the identity of the species had to be verified by experts before the results were published in the journal of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission (IUCN/SSC). The ConCaSa project also captured the first-ever video footage of the otter civet. Read the full story (and see a photograph of the otter and a still from the civet video) at Free Malaysia Today.


Permission to Come Aboard?

This is too bizarre not to share. A southern right whale breached right next to a pleasure yacht off the coast of South Africa and then slammed onto the deck of the boat, snapping the mast in twain and destroying various other portions of the boat that I imagine are crucial to the whole sailing bit (I don’t know boats). The couple on board the boat were unharmed and were able to use the engine to putter back to shore. They seem to count themselves lucky that the hull of the boat was steel instead of fiberglass, since a less sturdy boat could have been sunk by the unexpected visitor quite easily. The couple speculates that the whale, which was probably a youngster based on its size, escaped serious injury and is probably just “very badly bruised.” See the full story, with incredible photos, at The Daily Mail.


Lincoln Park Zoo Breeds Two Micronesian Kingfishers

Micronesian Kingfisher
Originally uploaded by SARhounds

The Lincoln Park Zoo successfully bred 2 Micronesian kingfisher chicks this Spring. The mated pair of kingfishers laid 2 eggs, and the keepers stole one of the eggs since 1 sibling usually kills the other. So while 1 chick is being raised by the parents, the other chick is being fed by keepers using tweezers and a hand puppet. Only 132 Micronesian kingfishers remain in the world (these new chicks increase the number to 134). In their native habitat, the birds were almost completely wiped out by invasive brown tree snakes introduced to the island after World War II. When zoos first started raising the birds in captivity, they were mystified by the fact that the birds often died at 2-4 years of age. They eventually learned that the kingfishers need to have lizards in their diet in addition to insects and chopped mouse meat. The birds can also be difficult to breed because not all male/female pairs make a love connection. Some would prefer to squabble, while others would prefer to remain platonic friends. But Lincoln Park Zoo and other zoos have had good success with their breeding programs. Unfortunately, the birds can’t be released back to their native habitat just yet since the invasive snakes have proven tough to eradicate. Conservationists hope another island might be identified that could serve as a new home for these endangered birds. Read the full article about these new chicks and the folks who raise them at The Wenatchee World.


Mexican Wolf Pups Debut in St. Louis

Mexican wolf (Canis lupus)
Originally uploaded by Jim Scarff

Five Mexican gray wolf pups, which include four males and a female, were born May 2nd at the Endangered Wolf Center outside St. Louis, Missouri. The pups will be released into the wild when they reach the age of 18 months to 3 years. Only 42 wolves currently live in the wild. The center has been central to the recovery of the Mexican gray wolf population, with 162 pups having been born there. Executive Director Max Sebald says these 5 pups can make a big difference to the recovery of this species. He is quoted in the Associated Press article as saying, “When you start with essentially zero in the wild, these five lives make an immeasurable difference.” Read the full article and see a pic of one of the cute pups at the News-Leader.


New Tasmanian Devil Exhibit Opens in Australia

The Huffington Post has a delightful slideshow of the new Tasmanian devil exhibit at Sydney, Australia’s Taronga Zoo. The new breeding center was opened as a kind of insurance policy against the facial tumor disease that is devastating the wild devil population.