Livestock Market, Jalalabad.

Jalalabad, Afghanistan
People shop for livestock at a market before Eid al-Adha.
Muslims around the world are preparing to celebrate the annual ‘festival of the sacrifice’, which marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
Image Credit: Photograph: Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty
Source: Gravy wrestling and the Burning Man festival: today’s top photos | News | The Guardian

Whales Visit Paddle Boarder off west coast.

Jaimen Hudson became quadriplegic after a motorcycle accident, but can control his drone with his thumbs and shoulder movements and here captures his friend Dave Price paddle boarding with whales off the west coast of Australia.
“It just so happened that he was out at the time, and a few people let me know there were whales on the beach and it all just went from there,” Hudson said in an online interview.
“They were really curious and came over to meet [Dave]…
Just very inquisitive about him, I don’t think it was really that dangerous at all.”
Source: Drone Catches Whales Visiting a Standup Paddleboarder — 5 things I learned today

Can the Rare Gobi Bear be Saved?

78738-cb1397592558Slowly, as I discover where to look, animal forms emerge: A lizard rests in the thin shade of a saxaul shrub. A saker falcon lifts off from a distant cliffside. Gerbils poke their heads from burrows.
But many days pass before I finally lay eyes on the animal I crossed half a world to see: a Gobi bear, among the rarest and least known large mammals on Earth. There are perhaps no more than two or three dozen left in the wild, and none live in captivity anywhere.
This male stops at an oasis to sip water, then rests nearby. Elated by our good luck and mesmerized by the sight, my companions and I watch the bear for two hours, from late afternoon to nightfall.
Most bears become active toward day’s end, but this one remains oddly still. When he finally attempts to walk, his gait seems pained and slow. He must have traveled a great distance to reach water, I tell myself, and the journey might have left him exhausted and temporarily lame.
In reality, the bear is dying. A week later a ranger finds his body near the same oasis. The old male had likely emerged from hibernation in poor condition at a time when food plants were just starting to grow.
78743.adapt.676.1The starchy, underground tuber of wild rhubarb (at left) is a staple of the Gobi bears’ diet. They also eat golden buttons, which appear after a rare rain.
via Can World’s Rarest Bear Be Saved?.

Dingos aren’t Wild Dogs.

For over two centuries, Australians have referred to the dingo as their continent’s native dog. But as a new study shows, it’s not really a dog at all, but rather a species in its own right.
The confusion started in the 18th century with a simple drawing and description made by Australia’s first governor, Arthur Phillip.
Since that time, scientists have lacked a proper scientific description of the animal.
Typically, animals have an official description based on an actual specimen (and not just a “rudimentary” illustration) that’s used to distinguish one species from another.
The new study, conducted by Mathew Crowther from the University of Sydney, corrects this oversight.
Scientists now say that dingos are distinct from domestic dogs and a distinct form of canid.
Consequently, scientists have resurrected the species name Canis dingo which was adopted in 1793 by a German naturalist.
Now, this is not to say that dingos and domesticated dogs don’t have a common ancestor. They most certainly do.
Dingoes were introduced to Australia around 3,000 to 5,000 years ago, with genetic evidence suggesting dingos are descended from East Asian domestic dogs.
via No, Australia’s Dingos Are Not Wild Dogs.

The Salt Mining Elephants of Mount Elgon.

Large herbivores such as elephants often seek out natural mineral deposits such as rocks and soil to supplement their dietary intake of sodium whenever the mineral is not obtained in adequate quantities from woody plants and natural water which elephants consume.
So it is not uncommon to find elephants devouring soil and licking rocks high in sodium content.
In Mount Elgon National Park on the Kenya-Uganda border, elephants have taken this activity a step further—they have learned to quarry sodium-rich rocks on the base of a 24-million-years-old extinct volcano called Mount Elgon.
Mount Elgon is believed to be the oldest extinct volcano in East Africa.
Because of its unusually large form—an 80 kilometer wide base and a peak that rises 3,000 meters from the surrounding plains— Mount Elgon doesn’t have the typical sharp rise of a volcanic mountain.
The rise is more gradual, and as the land rises the vegetation changes and so does the climate. The forest becomes thicker and air becomes chilled.
Many rare plants and animals seek shelter in the higher slopes of Mount Elgon to escape the heat of the plains.
The elephants prefer to stay in the lower slopes where there are a number of caves and salt is plenty.
These caves are quite voluminous, with up to 150 meters long, 60 meters wide, and some 10 meters high.
There is evidence that these caves have been artificially expanded by thousands of years of mining—not by humans, but by the pachyderms.
Source: The Salt Mining Elephants of Mount Elgon | Amusing Planet

The Queen of the Night.

The Queen of the Night
Image Credit: Photograph by Seyms Brugger, South Africa.
This image was a once in a lifetime experience, photographed from an underground hide at Zimanga Private Game Reserve in South Africa.
While one when can only dream that a pride of lions would come to drink, it became a reality when the local pride arrived just before 1900 hours
Source: The Queen of the Night | Smithsonian Photo Contest | Smithsonian