Category Archives: Africa

Giraffe Sunset

Photo by Christopher Michel / CC BY 2.0

Giraffe Sunset

A Lizard in Southern Namibia

Photo by Joachim Huber / CC BY-SA 2.0

A Lizard in the Namibia Desert

Flamingos on Lake Nakuru, Kenya

Photo by Paul Mannix / CC BY 2.0

Flamingos on Lake Nakuru, Kenya

The Declining Bone Health of Larger Rhinos

A rhino’s bones work very hard to support it’s size and activity. And as these mammal’s evolve and grow larger, their bones have to support more and more.

A new study from the Universities of Chicago and Oregon examined the bone health of rhinos and what changes have occurred over the species existence. The researchers found bone degradation, inflammation or infection in several rhino species, including the extinct North American and living African and Asian species.

To examine the issue further, the researchers analyzed the bone health of six extinct and one living rhino species. They looked into bone structure and total body mass changed, and how that has changed over the past 50 million years. They found that bone diseases increase dramatically from 28% to 65-80% as new species evolved. In addition, bone health decreased significantly as body mass increased.

The study’s findings may help in predicting the long-term bone health of these animals, other animals and maybe even humans.

 
 
Featured image by jumblejet / CC BY 2.0

11 of the World’s Most Jeopardized Forests

Imagine our world without up to 656,000 square miles of forest – an area than twice the size of Texas. Our world would look a lot different.

According to a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report released in April, this could be the case by 2030. The report identified 11 regions around the world with the greatest expected loss of forest over the next 15 years.

These forests are home to countless animals, including rare and endangered species, and such habitat loss would be detrimental to them. And even worse, it could all happen in as little as 15 years from now unless we address major forest threats like mining, illegal logging, agriculture and road construction.

Here are the 11 forests identified in the WWF report:

1. Amazon

/ CC BY-SA 2.0
/ CC BY-SA 2.0
The Amazon jungle is the world’s largest forest, but it’s also projected to have the greatest habitat loss. Over a quarter of the forest will be gone if current trends persist, especially today’s cattle ranching and agriculture in the region.

 
2. Atlantic Forest/Gran Chaco

Photo by Alex Popovkin / CC BY 2.0
Photo by Alex Popovkin / CC BY 2.0
The Atlantic forest spans parts of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina and is one of the richest rainforests in the world, with more biodiversity per acre than the Amazon. But 75% of the Brazilian population lives there, causing deforestation in both the Atlantic forest and the neighboring dry forest Gran Chaco.

 
3. Borneo

 Photo by Col Ford and Natasha de Vere / CC BY 2.0

Photo by Col Ford and Natasha de Vere / CC BY 2.0
In 2030, there could be as little as 33% of the lowland Borneo rainforest left. Weak government and instability only exacerbate deforestation as more and more people create palm oil plantations in the region.

 
4. Cerrado

Photo by A. Duarte / CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo by A. Duarte / CC BY-SA 2.0
The Cerrado is a high plateau region in Brazil that isn’t as well-known as the Amazon but is just as threatened. Cattle ranching and converting forest to soy plantations are the major causes of deforestation.

 
5. Choco-Darien

Photo by Tio Tigre / <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Photo by Tio Tigre / <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Running along South America’s northwestern Pacific coast, these forests face deforestation from roads, power lines, mining and oil exploration. Most damage has occurred in the Ecuadorian Choco, but the regions in Panama and Colombia are also in jeopardy.

 
6. Congo Basin

Photo by Julien Harneis / CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo by Julien Harneis / CC BY-SA 2.0
The Congo Basin is one of the world’s most important wilderness regions, containing 20% of the planet’s tropical forests and the most biodiversity in Africa. These forests are especially threatened because the human population is expected to double by 2030.

 
7. Eastern Africa

Photo by CIAT / CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo by CIAT / CC BY-SA 2.0
This region has the miombo woodlands and coastal and mountain forests, all of which are threatened. The forests are illegally logged, over-harvested for timber and fuel wood or converted to livestock and cash crops. Sadly, the coastal forests of Tanzania and Kenya are already down to 10% of their original area.

 
8. Eastern Australia

Photo by Christoph Rupprecht / CC BY-SA 2.0OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Photo by Christoph Rupprecht / CC BY-SA 2.0OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Although there have been recent reductions in deforestation in the states of Queensland and New South Wales, weak legislation raises concerns about forest loss. Conversion of forest land to pastures for livestock is the main cause of deforestation, but key species are affected, including koalas, possums, gliders and birds.

 
9. Greater Mekong

Photo by Allie_Caulfield / <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Photo by Allie_Caulfield / <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Because of a booming economy, the region’s forest land is being converted for sugar, rice, rubber and biofuels. But as more and more of the forests are converted for economic development, the area’s animals become increasingly threatened and the Greater Mekong forests are rich in species. For instance, in 2011 alone, 126 new species were discovered there, including fish, snakes, frogs and bats.

 
10. New Guinea

Photo by Danumurthi Mahendra / <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Photo by Danumurthi Mahendra / <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
New Guinea and neighboring islands are home to the largest remaining regions of tropical forests in the Asia-Pacific area and home to more than 6% of the world’s species. But with agriculture on the rise, the forests and their inhabitants are in jeopardy.

 
11.Sumatra

Photo by Andrew H / CC BY-ND 2.0
Photo by Andrew H / CC BY-ND 2.0
Indonesia’s palm oil production is now centered in Sumatra, and particularly the Riau province, causing deforestation in the area. It even affects protected forests and national parks, threatening the region’s rhinos, tigers, orangutans, and other wildlife
 
 
What Can We Do?
WWF believes that stopping deforestation now is more strategic and cost-effective than dealing with the consequences later. Deforestation accounts for around 15% of global carbon emissions – more than the total emissions from every single the motor vehicles, airplanes and ships in the world. If we don’t address this issue and take action, we could lose over 600,000 square miles of our planet’s forests. With that, we would lose the benefits those forests provide, including jobs, clean water and wood, and we would lose precious habitat for much of the world’s wildlife and many endangered species.
 
 
Featured image by David Evers / CC BY 2.0

The National Bird of Kenya

A lilac-breasted roller bird, national bird of Kenya.

Photo by Stuart Richards / CC BY-ND 2.0

The National Bird of Kenya

A Hippo Soaking

Photo by Ben Haeringer / CC BY-ND 2.0

A Hippo Soaking

How Elephant Societies are Surviving the Poaching Crisis

As many as 100,000 elephants fell victim to poaching in just two years, between 2010 and 2012.

In the elephant poaching world, poachers target males first because they have the largest tusks and then they move on to females. You’d think this latter move would break up elephant societies, as they are matriarchal, but that isn’t the case.

So how do elephant societies survive such an aggressive onslaught?

A new study found that the elephants’ extended families are stepping up to lead the societies when matriarchs were killed. The elephants’ social structure is maintained because the middle-aged females – who were now the oldest in the group – took over leadership roles. These females had enough social knowledge to recreate patterns they learned from the elders.

The study reviewed 16 years of data on elephants from Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve, tracking which individual elephants associated themselves with others. The elephants were identified by ear shape, body markings, or other unique characteristics.

Photo by Brad / CC BY-ND 2.0
Photo by Brad / CC BY-ND 2.0

Doctoral student at Colorado State University who coauthored the study, Shifra Goldenberg, says:

“It shows that elephants are socially resilient. In a highly social species, they depend on social bonds, so the fact that we haven’t seen social collapse is good news.”

Still, there are other unknown implications to losing the oldest females, including its effects on elephant calf survival, communication patterns and long-term knowledge of the area and range.

Featured image by Vaughan Leiberum / CC BY 2.0

The 25 Most Endangered Primates in the World

There are 703 species and sub-species of primates in the world, from apes to monkeys to lemurs. And more than half of them are facing extinction.

Most of the endangered statuses of these primates are caused by habitat loss and destruction, like burning forests, as well as poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.

Leading primatologist and director of conservation at Bristol Zoological Society in Britain, Christoph Schwitzer says:

“This research highlights the extent of the danger facing many of the world’s primates. We hope it will focus people’s attention on these lesser-known primate species, some of which most people will probably have never heard of.”

First timers on the most endangered list include the Philippine tarsier and the Lavasoa dwarf lemur from Madagascar – a species discovered just two years ago. Other primates on the list, like the Roloway monkey from Ghana and the Ivory Coast, are on the brink of extinction.

The red colobus monkey in Africa and some of South America’s howler monkeys and spider monkeys are also threatened. These species are larger primates, which makes them easy targets for bushmeat hunting.

Photo by Harvey Barrison / CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo by Harvey Barrison / CC BY-SA 2.0

In a statement, Schwitzer added:

“Some of these animals have tiny populations remaining in the wild. Support and action to help save them is vital if we are to avoid losing these wonderful animals forever.”

Here is the list of the 25 most endangered primates for 2014-2016, along with their estimated remaining population size. Five of the primates are from Madagascar, five from Africa, 10 from Asia, and five from Central and South America:

    1. Lavasoa dwarf lemur – unknown
    2. Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur – about 2,500-5,000
    3. Red ruffed lemur – unknown
    4. Northern sportive lemur – around 50
    5. Perrier’s sifaka – 1,700-2,600
    6. Rondo dwarf galago – unknown, but remaining habitat is just 40 square miles
    7. Roloway monkey – unknown, but thought to be on the verge of extinction
    8. Preuss’s red colobus monkey – unknown
    9. Tana River red colobus monkey – 1,000 and declining
    10. Eastern lowland gorilla – 2,000-10,000
    11. Philippine tarsier – unknown
    12. Javan slow loris – unknown
    13. Pig-tailed langur – 3,300
    14. Cat Ba langur (golden-headed langur) – 60
    15. Delacour’s langur – 234-275
    16. Tonkin snub-nosed monkey – less than 250
    17. Kashmir grey langur – unknown
    18. Western purple-faced langur – unknown
    19. Hainan gibbon – 25
    20, Sumatran orangutan – 6,600
    21. Ka’apor capuchin – unknown
    22. San Martin titi monkey – unknown
    23. Northern brown howler monkey – less than 250 mature animals
    24. Colombian brown spider monkey – unknown
    25. Ecuadorian brown-headed spider monkey – unknown

The list comes from a report that was put together by the IUCN, Bristol Zoological Society, International Primatological Society and Conservation International and is updated every two years

Featured image by Peter Schoen / CC BY-SA 2.0

A Giraffe in the Serengeti Sunrise

Photo by Yoni Lerner / CC BY 2.0

A Giraffe in the Serengeti Sunrise