Posts Tagged ‘endangered’

Pyrenean ibex, Baiji Dolphin, Western Black Rhinoceros and the Japanese River Otter have all recently been declared extinct. How long until the Giant Panda(Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is to join this list? With less than 2000 recorded in the wild and only a handful more in captivity, the Giant Pandas time, sadly, may come sooner rather than later if conservation efforts do not prove successful.

The Panda used to found in both lowland and mountainous areas across China; however deforestation and farming has restricted their natural habitat to the mountains in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu. The broadleaf/coniferous forest areas in which the Pandas reside are often found so high up the mountains they are surrounded by clouds. As solitary animals, Pandas spend most of their lives alone, coming together only to mate, and communicating through scents and calls.

Tian Tian (Sweetie) at Edinburgh Zoo - Photo by Milca G photography (check out her facebook page link at bottom article)

Tian Tian (Sweetie) at Edinburgh Zoo – Photo by Milca G photography (check out her facebook page link at bottom article)

While their digestive system is designed for a carnivorous diet, they feed almost entirely of bamboo. Given the poor nutritional value of bamboo they have to eat very large quantities each day, up to a third of their own weight. This specialist diet is also a player in their endangerment due to the damage of bamboo forests limiting their habitat further. Occasionally they will eat small rodents and eggs, but this makes up only about 1% of their diet. The Panda is active both night and day and spends most of its time eating, finding food and sleeping.

A female Panda is only fertile for 2-3 days, once a year, and the duration of a pregnancy is varied. This leaves very little margin for error and if that window is missed, there is another years wait. A Panda will usually give birth to two young, however in the wild it is very common for only one to survive. There are reintroduction programs in place; however they have not seen much success over the years and Pandas numbers in the wild continue to decline.

Yang Guang (Sunshine), the male Panda at Edinburgh Zoo - Authors own

Yang Guang (Sunshine), the male Panda at Edinburgh Zoo – Authors own

These majestic creatures are currently listed as endangered and it looks to remain so for a very long time. One can only hope their situation does not get worse and we can sustain the wild population that is present with hopes of an increase over the years. The WWF, Chengdu Research Base, Pandas International etc are all organisations which work for Panda conservation worldwide. Zoo’s across the world are also involved in Panda conservation by means of raising money for research, sanctuaries and breeding programs, as well as being involved in breeding programs themselves.

The photos featured in this article were taken in Edinburgh Zoo this year. Edinburgh Zoo are one such zoo which aid in Giant Panda conservation by means of putting money back into conservation and educating their visitors about the Giant Panda. They are currently home to two beautiful Pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, with whom they are hoping to successfully breed from over the coming years while they are on loan. I one day hope to see Giant Pandas in the wild, but for now seeing them in Edinburgh was truly inspiring.

 

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Did you know that there are less than 1000 Bactrian Camels left in the wild? The number is currently estimated to be around 500-600. This is a startling number, considering how popular these two-humped ungulates are in zoos and circuses across the world, not to mention thousands of Bactrian camel herds which have been bred domestically over the years living in large herds (app 2million).

The wild Bactrian Camel is currently found only in Northwest China and in Southwest Mongolia (Gobi Desert).In order to survive the harsh conditions of their main habitat the Bactrian Camel features a double set of eyelashes, a hair lined inner ear and thin nostrils to protect against dust and sandstorms. After the harsh winters they can quickly shed their thick shaggy coats to adjust effectively to the changing seasons.

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Batrian Camel shedding lumps of fur for the warmer weather.

Food and water are not always readily available and the Camel has a great coping mechanism for this as well , being able to last sometimes for months on end without water. They do this by converting the fat stored in their two large humps into water when resources are scarce. It also helps that they can feed on dry and sometimes thorny plants that most herbivores avoid as well as drink salt water when fresh food and water are hard to find.

The Bactrian Camels demise is entirely down to human interference. The main reasons for their endangerment being: Habitat loss due to industrial development, and increasing human population forcing the mixing of wild populations and domestic herds. While they are masters of survival in their harsh habitats the battle against humans and extinction is proving one battle they may not win unless conservation efforts see a huge turn around in the future.

For more information on the conservation of the wonderful Bactrian Camel check out :

http://www.wildcamels.com/

http://www.edgeofexistence.org/mammals/species_info.php?id=8

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The resent death of a male surfer, off the coast of Western Australia after being attacked by a Great White Shark has spurred a debate as to whether or not this, the biggest of the shark species, should remain protected. This is the fifth fatal attack in this area since the start of 2012, recorded as the highest fatality rate in a given area due to Great White attacks. This has caused a bit of friction between the local fisheries/politicians and conservationists.

The question is: Who has the right to freedom in the waters surrounding Western Australia? The fatalities are no doubt tragic and I sympathise with the families of the deceased however my vote in this instant goes to the shark. They have been around much longer than humans have and while its behaviour is surrounded with a lot more mystery then a lot of its shark relatives, study suggests that humans are not considered a food source by the Great Whites. Why should Great white Sharks be culled for safer human recreation when there are much bigger threats to people out there which are not natural? Sharks just do what sharks do best, swim around, and occasionally chomp down on anything that looks like a potential food source.

Biologists have researched shark attacks for years and have come up with a theory for why sharks attack humans. They are a curious animal and may simply be “test biting” objects that intrigue them. It does not lessen the risk to people in shark inhabited areas but at least shows they are not simply “out to get us” as the film Jaws has suggested to people for years. Politicians are also suggesting that the Great White Shark population is increasing and that the ban, that was introduced in 1999 to protect them, should now be lifted in order to reduce the number of attacks. Sharks are difficult to survey but there is no evidence as of yet to support this. Plus the 5 fatalities could simply be a once off in statistics and it is too soon to launch out an attack on the Great White Shark based on a bad year.

At the end of the day, the surfers know the risks, and if wise will take as many precautions one can against a Shark attack. Potential Shark attack zones should be clearly marked and then people can make up their own minds about the risks before entering the water. Let the Great White sharks be, seeing as they are still listed by ICUN as “endangered” and let’s try to not get another species extinct due to human greed.

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