Brilliant news as these extremely rare Javan rhinos have been captured by hidden cameras in an Indonesian park. Once one of the most widespread species of rhino, now only two populations are thought to exist in the wild, with none in zoos. The Ujung Kulong park is one of these areas and thought to be home to around 50 rhinos…with the other, Cat Tien in Vietnam estimated to have only around 8 rhinos. This sighting is significant as the video shows calves are being born into this population, bringing hope for this critically endangered species.
Despite its status, rhinos are still in danger from poachers who use their horn for traditional Chinese medicine and destruction of their habitat.
Archive for February, 2011
The brown hare was once a very common animal in the UK with it’s ‘March madness’, when adults males would ‘box’ each other in the run up to mating. (Although it was once thought these sparring matches were between males competing for females, it seems it also happens as females battle off unwanted attention!)
But recently hare numbers are up thanks to wildlife-friendly farming and artist Andrew Haslan has recently written about his encounters with these beautiful animals. His dog kept bringing leverets, baby hares, back to the house and Andrew found himself rearing them. Unlike many other animals, hares are precocial, they are literally born ready! Fully furred and their eyes bright and wide open, the animals are prepared for action. Andrew’s book, the Winter Hare, is out now…!
Romeo is the name the builders have given this cheeky little fox. He was found living in the UK’s tallest skyscraper, the Shard on the London’s South Bank.
He was picked up on the 72nd floor of the 945ft high building and has apparently been surviving on the scraps of food left by builders. He was checked over (and from his photo he looks in pretty good nick!) and released nearby as foxes tend to live in family groups with a joint territory.
PS English pedants will know that the line from Shakespeare actually means why are you called Romeo not where…but I couldn’t resist!
It may sound like science fiction…but apparently young mice have the ability to regenerate their hearts if injured!
Scientists studied mice with a reduced heart muscle…but after three weeks the heart was seen to be regenerated and working normally. This kind of tissue regrowth isn’t new and has been seen in fish and amphibians but this is the first time it’s been found in mammals and it seems to imply that self-repair is possible for mammals.
Here’s a habit I hope we don’t inherit from our monkey cousins…capuchin monkeys have been seen urinating on their hands then rubbing this into their fur. The scent from the urine is used by the males to signal to any females that they are available for mating. Scientists tested females’ reactions to both available adult males and juvenile males and found that they responded more positively to the adult and much more suitable mate.
The older the male monkey is, the more testosterone he produces in his urine…but also the higher up in the group’s pecking order he is, the more testosterone he produces, so it seems the males use this scent to indicate their status too.
Seagulls fall asleep in waves scientists have discovered. They learn that its safe to fall asleep from each other as others take it in turns to stay guard.
Although, like many other species, they open their eyes every so often, even when asleep, to make sure they are safe, sleeping is still a dangerous time. Scientists found the birds tend to keep an eye on what their neighbours are doing…if they are all awake, the bird will open their eyes more often.
Seagulls aren’t alone in social groups copying behaviour…after all there is the great human phenomena of contagious yawning!
They may look quiet and docile, but the cuddly male koala actually makes a deep growl to attract mates…and the females can tell from his voice how big and therefore how attractive they are.
This contrasts with what scientists believed; that only one male bred, the alpha male. Males are typically larger than females (about 12kg compared to 8.5kg) and its thought this extra size allows them to bellow over such large areas. The larger and longer the bellow…the larger the male and therefore the more attractive he is to all the females.
Bizarrely, koala fingerprints are extremely identical to human fingerprints and are sometimes difficult to distinguish!
Scientists have discovered that monkeys share the human reactions of self-doubt and uncertainty. Macaques were taught computer games but would ‘pass’ on brainteaser questions rather than risk getting the wrong answer. They appear to know that they might give a wrong answer showing a high level of cognition.
If you’re a little put off by the weather today…you can still do a bit of wildlife spotting from the comfort of your own sofa! Wildlife Whispers have set up four webcams in their garden so you can see in real time what the local creatures are up to. I’ve been following a very zippy little house mouse foraging on the ground with a blackbird. Apparently today a blue tit couple were seen inspecting the nest box…so fingers crossed there might be some bluetit chicks very soon!
The National Geographic have some amazing footage of the annual salmon migration…and the shark that stands in its way. Every year millions of salmon heading to their spawning ground are attacked by the thousands of waiting shark in the icy Alaskan waters.