The Happy Snubfin Dolphin.

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Article and Photo by Alex Brown, Doctoral candidate at Murdoch University in Western Australia.
The snubfin dolphin appears to smile from its smooth, round head, like an old friend who’s lost his hair but still has an abundance of happiness to share.
Of course, that’s reading a lot from the unusual – for a dolphin – looks of the snubfin. It’s a marine mammal and smiling isn’t one of its tricks. That’s just the way it is, but those looks do make them endearing to humans.
The snubfin is found only in Australia’s tropical north and probably in the southern areas of the island of New Guinea and was only recognised as a separate species in 2005. Before that everyone thought it was a type of river dolphin found in south-east Asia.
Little is known about them.
Alex Brown, a a doctoral candidate at Murdoch University in Western Australia, says the snubfin’s shy behaviour, coupled with the inaccessibility of much of their habitat, makes them difficult to study.
He’s working on estimating the population size now after several trips to look at different groups of the dolphins along the coast in the north west.
The general scientific thinking is that there are well below 10,000 mature snubfin dolphins.
By numbers alone, this would place them in a vulnerable classification.
Read more via Meet Australia’s Amazing And Mysterious Snubfin Dolphin, The Happiest-Looking Mammal In The Sea | Business Insider.

The Bengal Tiger of Asia.

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Photograph by Steve Winter
Scientists estimate only about 3,000 wild tigers are left in the entire world.
Tiger territory once stretched from Turkey to the Russian Far East and just a century ago, before the terrible toll of hunting and habitat destruction, 100,000 tigers inhabited the wilds of Asia.
Now their descendants hang on in a tiny fraction of their former range, prowling fragmented pockets of habitat where keeping enough tigers alive to breed is increasingly difficult.
Three of the nine tiger subspecies (Bali, Javan, and Caspian tigers) became extinct during the 20th century, leaving only the half dozen living species featured in this gallery.
Recent studies show in just three tiger generations (21 to 27 years) the big cats’ population has shrunk by 50 percent and their range has also been halved.
Shrinking space and rampant poaching for traditional Chinese medicine present a formidable challenge to the future of wild tigers.
About half of all living tigers are Bengal tigers (pictured here), sometimes called Indian tigers because most live in that nation.
Others are in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China, and Myanmar. Given space and prey Panthera tigris tigris can thrive in many types of forests or grasslands, and the Bengal is the only subspecies that also inhabits mangrove forests, in the Sundarbans island group in the Bay of Bengal.
via Tiger Subspecies Pictures — National Geographic Animals.

Rainforest destruction threatens Sumatran Tiger.

A Sumatran tiger.
New analysis has found that rainforest destruction caused by rampant palm oil plantations damage threatens more than 190 threatened species, including orangutans and tigers like the sumatran tiger.
Image Credit: Photograph by Bernard Spragg/IUC
Source: The week in wildlife – in pictures | Environment | The Guardian

The Rare Bearded Vulture returns.

2A bearded vulture has been seen flying once again over Romania, for the first time in 83 years, according to a statement of the Romanian Ornithological Society.
The bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) is one of the four species of vultures that used to live in Romania.
However, the vulture was last seen on Romanian territory in 1933.
The vulture that is now flying over Romania is named Adonis and is one of the birds that were supposed to contribute to the restoration of the bearded vulture population in France.
The vulture was released in the Massif Central in France in 2014, but didn’t stay there.
The bird left France and flew over several countries such as Denmark, Slovakia, Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, and now Romania.
A satellite transmitter tracks the bird’s route. The bearded vulture is a diurnal bird of prey, characteristic to mountain areas, being typically present at altitudes between 500 and 4,000 meters.
However, it was also found at 7,500 meters altitude, in the Himalayas. It is 105 –125 cm long and weights between 4.5 and 7.8 kg. The female is slightly larger than the male. The wingspan is between 235 and 275 cm.
Irina Popescu, irina.popescu@romania-insider.com
Source: Bearded vulture flies over Romania for the first time in 83 years – Romania Insider

Tasmanian Devils listed as ‘vulnerable.’

tasmanian-devil_736_600x450Tasmanian Devils are solitary and nocturnal, spending their days alone in hollow logs, caves, or burrows, and emerging at night to feed.
They use their long whiskers and excellent sense of smell and sight to avoid predators and locate prey and carrion.
They’ll eat pretty much anything they can get their teeth on, and when they do find food, they are voracious, consuming everything—including hair, organs, and bones.
Mothers give birth after about three weeks of pregnancy to 20 or 30 very tiny young. These raisin-size babies crawl up the mother’s fur and into her pouch. However, the mother has only four nipples, so only a handful of babies survive. Infants emerge after about four months and are generally weaned by the sixth month and on their own by the eighth.
Once abundant throughout Australia Tasmanian devils are now indigenous only to the island state of Tasmania.
Their Tasmanian range encompasses the entire island, although they are partial to coastal scrublands and forests. Biologists speculate that their extinction on the mainland is attributable to the introduction of Asian dogs, or dingoes.
Efforts in the late 1800s to eradicate Tasmanian devils, which farmers erroneously believed were killing livestock (although they were known to take poultry), were nearly successful.
In 1941, the government made devils a protected species, and their numbers have grown steadily since.
Survival Threatened
Tragically, though, a catastrophic illness discovered in the mid-1990s has killed tens of thousands of Tasmanian devils.
Called devil facial tumor disease (DFTD), this rapidly spreading condition is a rare contagious cancer that causes large lumps to form around the animal’s mouth and head, making it hard for it to eat.
The animal eventually starves to death. Animal health experts are sequestering populations where the disease has not yet appeared and are focusing on captive breeding programs to save the species from extinction.
Because of the outbreak, the Australian government has listed Tasmanian devils as vulnerable.
via  National Geographic.

Maasai Warriors help Protect Lions in Kenya.

Maasai warrior Kamunu Saitoti scans the Kenyan rangelands for a signal from a number of lions that have been fitted with radio collars.
Saitoti is part of an organisation called Lion Guardians, a conservation initiative started in 2007 to find ways for the Maasai and lions to coexist.
Scientists estimate that lion populations in Africa have fallen by more than 40% in the past 20 years and the 20,000 or so wild lions that remain occupy just 8% of the species’ historical range.
Image Credit: Photograph by Marcus Westberg/Life Through A Lens.
Source: Travel photo of the week: the warriors helping to protect lions in Kenya | Travel | The Guardian