Grizzly Bears may lose Federal Protection

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The United States Fish and Wildlife Service plans to draft a rule to delist the grizzly from the federal Act, and turn management over to the state of Montana.

The 1000 bears of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem habitat is Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, the Mission Mountains and parts of the Blackfeet and Flathead Indian reservations. This covers 3 zones; zone two a likely corridor for bears to reach the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem., and the area is connected to grizzly populations in Canada.

The plan doesn’t specifically discuss hunting grizzlies, but it has already been suggested that Montana state officials could add that as a tool for controlling bear numbers., which seems contrary to “recovery”.

Montana wildlife already has threats from logging and mining- and grizzly habitat would be under more stress if the plans for the XL Pipeline are approved. This is absolutely the wrong time to delist grizzly bears in Montana from federal protections as their recovery is not yet complete, although it is better than when they were first listed as endangered 37 years ago.

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Even Crocodiles have a fetish for fruit

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It is hard to reconcile visions of a sharp-toothed, scaly, and ferocious with anything other than a completely carnivorous diet. We have been bombarded with gory kill scenes in which crocodiles take down everything from impala to buffalo, but new evidence suggests we need to rethink crocodilians altogether.

When Steven Platt, a herpetologist for the Wildlife Conservation Society, was a young graduate student in the 1990s, he learned that scientists had begun to suspect that turtles could consume fruits and disperse their seeds. However, crocodilians were never likely candidates for reptilian seed dispersal, or as scientists call it “saurochory.” They had no need to eat fruit, and were even considered incapable of digesting plant material.

Ever since that class two decades ago, Platt wondered if perhaps biologists had it wrong. Now, his recent article in the Journal of Zoology forces scientists to reconsider these very efficient butchers in a softer light, placing crocodilians among the ranks of a handful of rare carnivores with a bizarre fondness for fruit.

Platt and his team have found fruit in crocodilian stomachs for years. The usual explanations suggest that the fruit were accidentally eaten along with other prey, or could be from the stomachs of recently consumed animals. In one of the first papers Platt ever published, he ventured the idea that crocodile species in alluvial floodplains used seeds as gastroliths, or stomach stones, but contended that fruit was not a source of nutrition to these archaic carnivores.

Today, Platt says, “I was just plain wrong, we were all wrong. It was just one of those things that was under our eyes for years, but nobody gave it much thought.”

There are 23 extant species of crocodilians, including , caiman, salt and freshwater crocodiles, gharial and the tomistoma (or false gharial). Platt and his co-authors re-examined years of data on every species, and conducted a literature search for the most obscure reports on crocodilian feeding ecology. The result is a compendium of instances of intentional frugivory, or fruit-eating, among crocodilians, with 13 of the 18 species (72.2%) for which dietary data exists exhibiting frugivory to some degree.

There are reports of seeds in the stomach contents of ten crocodilian species, and observations of frugivory in at least three others, both in the wild and in captivity. Even the idea that crocodiles could not digest plant-material has now been wholly debunked.

Over half the seeds consumed by crocodiles (from 34 families and 46 plant genera) belonged to fleshy fruits, including large seeds such as the extremely hard Sacoglottis, and avocado-like Persea. Crocodilians were even spotted eating corn from wildlife feeders in Louisiana, and feasting on the fruit of Opuntia in Texas. Two tropical fruits—the alligator-pear (Persea americana) in Belize, and the alligator-apple (Annona glabra) across the Neotropics—have been named for the affinity that alligators have for them. The majority of fruit consumption data, however, comes from the analysis of stomach contents, a messy but rewarding endeavor.

In his time, Platt has certainly “caught a lot of crocodiles, and pumped a lot of stomachs.” Since crocodilians do not chew their food but swallow their prey whole, they lack a gag response. This allows Platt to feed a tube into their esophagus, distend the stomach with water, and then just invert the animal to recover its last meal.

“Pumping a crocodile’s stomach is like opening a Christmas present,” Platt tells his students. “You never know what you are going to get.” His team has recovered everything from half-digested rats to live fish, after which many a student volunteer has joined the crocodilian in losing their lunch, according to Platt.

Adult crocodilians establish extensive home ranges (up to 5,000 hectares) and aggressively defend smaller territories within those areas. They achieve this by traveling remarkable distances during the day, from 12 kilometers in only two hours to a maximum of 23 kilometers in a single day. This incredible propensity for movement, coupled with extended gut passage times, could render crocodilians extremely influential seed dispersers.

Platt hopes that this discovery will spur a series of new studies. Together with the authors of this paper, he is eager to begin seed germination experiments, where crocodiles are fed fruit and the effect on the seed in the digestive tract is recorded.

“I think we are still a far cry from demonstrating that they are effective dispersal agents but the fact that they consume fruit, and a lot of it, reveals their potential to be important seed dispersers,” notes Platt. Crocodilians are not the only carnivores that some times consume fruit; others, such as margays and bush dogs, also eat fruit, and are occasional seed dispersers.

Crocodilians are an ancient group of reptiles, thought to have evolved approximately 80 million years ago. Nearly 20 million years before they emerged, fruiting plants (or angiosperms) radiated across the tropics, replacing other older plant groups. Thus, it is possible that the consumption of fruit has been occurring ever since the first crocodilians walked the earth.

Despite their savage image, crocodilians are important ecosystem engineers, affecting both wetland systems and prey populations. It now appears they may be important to seed dispersal as well—another strong reason for the conservation efforts of groups such as the Wildlife Conservation Society.

This article was written by for Mongabay.com

Blobfish voted world’s ugliest animal

The (), a species that lives at great depths and is rarely seen but resembles a marine Jabba the Hut, has been voted the world’s ugliest animal. More than 3,000 votes were cast in the online competition, with 795 for the .

The campaign, run by the Ugly Animal Preservation Society to decide its new mascot, was set up to raise awareness for endangered and aesthetically challenged animals. With 200 species becoming extinct every day, it says ugly animals need more help because of their less than “pinup” appearance.

Simon Watt, the society’s president, said: “We’ve needed an ugly face for endangered animals for a long time and I’ve been amazed by the public’s reaction. For too long the cute and fluffy animals have taken the limelight, but now the blobfish will be a voice for the mingers who always get forgotten.”

 

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Animal of the week: Spotted-tailed Quoll

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The Quoll is a member of the Dasyurids family, it is a Marsupial, and it is carnivorous, it is one of the largest of carnivorous marsupials in Australia. It’s colors are a rich rufus brown above, paler below, with white spots of different size all over the body including the tail. The head and body length is 38-75 cm in males; females are smaller 34-45cm. The male weighs up to 7 kg, the female 4 kg. Tail length is almost the same size as the body length in both male and female. It is found on the east coast in sclerophyll forest and rainforest, unfortunately most of us will never see one in the wild. Due to land clearing that has destroyed suitable habitat, competition from feral cats and foxes, the number of this species have been greatly reduced. It is estimated that less than 500 individuals of Spotted-tailed Quoll are only in existence. making this marsupial endangered to extinction.

 

 

Elephant Abuse at A’Famosa Resort in Melaka, Malaysia

A’Famosa Resort in Melaka, Malayasia has 9 elephants and as we can see their conditions are beyond horrible. This resort is huge with many animals which perform in their Animal World Safari, including the elephants which also give rides.

A video was taken of their mahout beating their poor starved bull, Rock. Friends of The Orangutans. which discovered the elephants’ shocking conditions, says the story was reported on a TV station but was taken down by powerful political connections. The abuse was reported, but Malaysian investigators found “nothing wrong.” To overcome this Malaysian authorities must feel the full glare and outrage of the world.

The cruel treatment of elephants by A’famosa Resort contravenes section 86(1) of the much lauded Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 and the full force of the law needs to be brought to bear on A’Famosa’s management, both for keeping the elephants in such a despicable manner and also for the elephant beating. It will also set a moral example against other zoo and resorts – cruel inhumane acts towards animals will not be tolerated anymore by the Malaysian public.

We demand the resort immediately halt its elephant shows, rides and all elephants be placed in a spacious enclosures, unchained. The Malaysian public will also want to see the nine elephants given the respect and care they deserve.

The resort management
must end all abuse and exploitation of its elephants and place them in an enclosure with adequate environmental enrichment.

We also demand all elephants be urgently assessed by a qualified, independant vet, especially the emaciated male, in the presence of Friends of the Orangutans and the local media.

http://www.fotomalaysia.org/?p=1050

Please join A’Famosa’s Abused and Exploited Elephants Need Our Help Fb page to follow more of what you can do to help these unfortunate elephants.

From the Founder: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival