Tuesday, July 19, 2005
LIONS (Panthera leo)
Lions are the only big cats found living in large family groups, called prides. A typical pride consists of two males and seven females and several cubs, every pride differs in size and formation. Females are typically sisters and/or cousins which have been raised together and are usually the hunters of the pride. Hunting is done as an ambush, females chase the prey into the grasps of hiding males. Females are better suited to the chase, and males with the larger bodies have the ability to knock down large prey such as the wildebeast. Lions are more likely to fail than succeed in their attempts to kill.
Weight: males can weigh in at 150-250kg(330-550lbs) and females 120-182kg(275-400lbs).
Height: measured at the shoulder, 1-1.2m(36-48 inches) for males and slightly smaller for females.
Lifespan: the lions life span in the wild is 15-18 years, in captivity 25-30 years.
Habitat and Range: Many thousands of years ago, lions roamed over the whole of the African continent as well as throughout southern Europe, southern Asia, eastern and central India. With the exception of some 300 highly protected animals in the Gir National Park of India, today the only naturally occuring lions are found in Africa and have been virtually eradicated in the north. Lions do not live in heavy forests and jungles, rather the grasslands, acacia thickets and savannas. Lions do not inhabit desert areas, probably because of the scarcity of game.
Lions once lived in southern Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia. Today, however, they are confined mainly to the game reserves of Africa, with a few still living in the Gir Forest of India.
An adult male can be 2.4 m long and weigh as much as 238 kg. The female is smaller and lacks the male’s heavy mane. Lions live in open country, in groups known as prides, consisting of from 6 to 30 members headed by one or two mature males. They hunt co-operatively and, while the females are better hunters and do most of the work bringing down the prey, the males eat first, followed by the females, and lastly the cubs get their share. Lions prey mostly on hoofed animals, although they occasionally consume fallen fruit.
The initial charge of the lion only lasts for 50 to100 m, and if the target is quick enough to keep ahead of the predator for that distance, the lion usually abandons the attempt. Lions spend about 20 hours of each day doing absolutely nothing.
Killer Whales (Orcinus orca)
Killer whales are social animals that live in stable family-related groups. Killer whales display a high level of care for their offspring. In addition to the mothers, various pod members (mainly adolescent females) perform most of the care for the calves. As with most mammals, killer whales are very protective of their young.
Different killer whale pods "sound" different. Each pod has their own dialect of sounds. They can easily recognize their own pod from several miles away based on the differences in calls.
Killer whales are often compared to wolves because both species are top predators, maintain complex social relationships, and hunt cooperatively.
To some, killer whales look exactly alike however they can be distinguished from one another by the shape and size of their dorsal fins, the distinctive grayish-white saddle patches behind their dorsal fins, as well as distinctive scars, nicks and marks on their dorsal fins.
Population: The worldwide population of orcas is unknown.
Threats: Recent studies have found that orcas are among the most contaminated marine mammals in the world. Pollution and chemical contamination make orcas more susceptible to disease and likely cause reproductive difficulties.
Survival: Orcas live 30 to 50 years in the wild.
Scientists say killer whales may be the cause of the Some killer whales, like this one with a Steller sea decline of Steller sea lions in Alaska's Bering Sea and lion pup in its mouth, are predators of marine Aleutian Islands. mammals. But researchers found that most killer whales in the western Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Islands target only fish.
Red-Cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis)
DESCRIPTION: About the size of the common cardinal, the red-cockaded woodpecker is approximately 7 inches long (18 to 20 centimeters), with a wingspan of about 15 inches (35 to 38 centimeters). Its back is barred with black and white horizontal stripes. The red-cockaded woodpecker's most distinguishing feature is a black cap and nape that encircle large white cheek patches. Rarely visible, except perhaps during the breeding season and periods of territorial defense, the male has a small red streak on each side of its black cap called a cockade, hence its name.
The red-cockaded woodpecker feeds primarily on beetles, ants, roaches, caterpillars, wood-boring insects, and spiders, and occasionally fruits and berries.
REPRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT: Red-cockaded woodpeckers are a territorial, nonmigratory, cooperative breeding species, frequently having the same mate for several years. The nesting season lasts from April through June. The breeding female lays three to four eggs in the breeding male's roost cavity. Group members incubate the small white eggs for 10 to 12 days. Once hatched, the nestlings remain in the nest cavity for about 26 days.
Upon fledging, the young often remain with the parents, forming groups of up to nine members, but more typically three to four members. There is only one pair of breeding birds within each group, and they normally raise only a single brood each year. The other group members called helpers, usually males from the previous breeding season, help incubate the eggs and raise the young. Juvenile females generally leave the group before the next breeding season, in search of solitary male groups.
RANGE AND POPULATION LEVEL: Historically, this woodpecker's range extended from Florida to New Jersey and Maryland, as far west as Texas and Oklahoma, and inland to Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Today it is estimated that there are about 6,000 groups of red-cockaded woodpeckers, or 15000 birds from Florida to Virginia and west to southeast Oklahoma and eastern Texas, representing about 1 percent of the woodpecker's original range. They have been extirpated in New Jersey, Maryland, Tennessee, Missouri and Kentucky.
HABITAT: The red-cockaded woodpecker makes its home in mature pine forests. Longleaf pines (Pinus palustris) are most commonly preferred, but other species of southern pine are also acceptable. While other woodpeckers bore out cavities in dead trees where the wood is rotten and soft, the red-cockaded woodpecker is the only one which excavates cavities exclusively in living pine trees. The older pines favored by the red-cockaded woodpecker often suffer from a fungus called red heart disease which attacks the center of the trunk, causing the inner wood, the heartwood, to become soft. Cavities generally take from 1 to 3 years to excavate.
The aggregate of cavity trees is called a cluster and may include 1 to 20 or more cavity trees on 3 to 60 acres. The average cluster is about 10 acres. Cavity trees that are being actively used have numerous, small resin wells which exude sap. The birds keep the sap flowing apparently as a cavity defense mechanism against rat snakes and possibly other predators. The typical territory for a group ranges from about 125 to 200 acres, but observers have reported territories running from a low of around 60 acres, to an upper extreme of more than 600 acres. The size of a particular territory is related to both habitat suitability and population density.
The red-cockaded woodpecker plays a vital role in the intricate web of life of the southern pine forests. A number of other birds and small mammals use the cavities excavated by red-cockaded woodpeckers, such as chickadees, bluebirds, titmice, and several other woodpecker species, including the downy, hairy, and red-bellied woodpecker. Larger woodpeckers may take over a red-cockaded woodpecker cavity, sometimes enlarging the hole enough to allow screech owls, wood ducks, and even raccoons to later move in. Flying squirrels, several species of reptiles and amphibians, and insects, primarily bees and wasps, also will use red-cockaded woodpecker cavities.
The major threat to the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker has been the dramatic decrease in old-growth pine forests. Present-day practices normally call for short- term timber rotation, much to the dismay of the trees' avian inhabitants.
Unfortunately, the red-cockaded woodpecker has declined dramatically throughout its range and was listed as an endangered species in 1970.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Tigers (Panthera tigris)
Recognized throughout the world for its ferocity and unmistakable beauty, the tiger faces an uncertain future. Due to increases in both natural and human threats, the wild tiger population suffered major losses during the 20th century and has become one of our most endangered species. By the 1950s, tigers living around the Caspian Sea were extinct; between 1937 and 1972 the population of tigers that once inhabited the islands of Bali and Java disappeared; the South China tiger, with at best 20 to 30 individuals, is nearly extinct in the wild.
India today has the largest number of tigers, numbering somewhere between 3,030 and 4,735 and it is estimated that only 5,100 to 7,500 individual tigers now remain in the entire world. These remaining tigers are threatened by many factors, including growing human populations, loss of habitat, illegal hunting of tigers and the species they hunt, and expanded trade in tiger parts used for traditional medicines.
The tigers, one of the five species of the genus Panthera, are composed of eight subspecies:
The bengal (Indian) tiger Panthera tigris tigris, distributed throughout the humid forests and grasslands of bangladesh, bhutan, China, India and nepal. Estimates of population size vary from about 3,000 to 5,000 Bengal tigers in the wild today.
The indochinese tiger, Panthera tigris corbetti, distributed throughout the humid forests and grasslands of cambodia, China, laos, malaysia, myanmar, thailand and vietnam. Estimated population size varies from 1,000 to 1,800 of the subspecies in the wild today and 50 to 70 living in various zoos throughout the world.
The South Chinese (amoy) tiger, Panthera tigris amoyensis, distributed throughout the humid forests and grasslands of central and eastern China. Estimated population size varies from 30 to 80 of the subspecies in the wild today and about 50 in zoos located in China.
The Siberian (amur/ussuri/northeast China/Manchurian) tiger, Panthera tigris altaica, distributed throughout the humid forests and grasslands of China, North korea and the central asiatic areas of russia. Estimates of population size vary from 150 to 450 of the subspecies in the wild today and 500 to 700 living in various zoos throughout the world.
The Sumatran tiger, Panthera tigris sumatrae, is found only on the Indonesian island of sumatra. Estimates of population size vary from 400 to 500 of the subspecies in the wild today, located within the island's five national parks. Approximately 250 Sumatran tigers live in various zoos throughout the world.
The Caspian tiger, Panthera tigris virgata, has become extinct in the past 50 years. It once ranged throughout the humid forests and grasslands of afghanistan, iran, mongolia, Turkey and the central Asiatic areas of Russia.
The javan tiger, Panthera tigris sondaica, formerly roamed on the Indonesian island of java but has become extinct in the last 25 years.
The balinese tiger, Panthera tigris balica, formerly roamed on the Indonesian island of bali but has become extinct in the last 50 years.
Blue Whale (Total Remaining: approximately 5,000)
The blue whale is the largest animal ever to inhabit the Earth. This gentle giant has grayish- blue skin with light spots. It has about 300 to 400 baleen plates instead of teeth which it uses to strain food from the ocean water.
The blue whale may be the largest animal ever to inhabit the earth. It may have reached lengths of up to 31 meters (100 feet)--roughly the length of a basketball court. Blue whales have weighed up to 146 metric tonnes (160 tons). They feed on small shrimp-like crustaceans. The whales consume up to eight tons of animals a day during their feeding period. The loudest sound ever recorded from an animal was produced by a blue whale, and some scientists have speculated that they may be able to remain in touch with each other over hundreds of miles. The number of blue whales in the southern hemisphere was severely depleted by whaling. Due to commercial whaling the size of the population is less than ten percent of what it was originally.
The snow leopard is an endangered big cat that inhabits the rugged and mountainous terrain of Central Asia and the Himalayan region. It is currently threatened by hunting for the illegal wildlife trade and revenge killings by herders; habitat loss; and diminished food supply. A 2003 study by TRAFFIC, WWF and the International Snow Leopard Trust found a dramatic decline of the big cats in many countries over the previous decade. It is estimated these threats are reducing the snow leopard population to numbers approaching those of the endangered tiger. The remaining animals live in only 12 countries in South and Central Asia.
Although the snow leopard is usually nocturnal, it is also active during the daytime, especially in the morning and late afternoon. Snow leopards are generally considered solitary animals except during the breeding season when the males and females can be found together. It has been suggested that some pairs hunt cooperatively, one chasing the prey, while the other waits in ambush.
The snow leopard breeds in winter. It has a gestation period of 3 -3½ months. The average litter size is 2 to 3 cubs every other year. They are born in a den that is lined with the fur of the mother. Cubs weigh approximately 11 to 26 ounces, open their eyes after 7-9 days, and begin to crawl after 10 days. Cubs take solid food at 2 months, follow their mother at 3 months, and become independent after 18 to 22 months. Females reach sexual maturity at just under 3 years of age. Males maintain a well-marked home-range that may overlap extensively with those of several female snow leopards. In captivity, snow leopards live approximately 15 years, but in the wild, few reach more than 12 years.
Threats to Survival:
For many years the snow leopard has been hunted for its beautiful thick coat. Depletion of its natural prey by hunting and/or overgrazing forces to increase their feeding on domestic animals. Large scale pika and marmot poisoning has also impacted the food base on the Tibetan Plateau. Most recently, the demand for snow leopard bones as a substitute for tiger bone in traditional Chinese medicine has added a new threat to this species. In 1994, traders paid as much as $190 for snow leopard skeletons in Tibet.
Monday, July 11, 2005
Today's Endangered Animal Species:
Giant Panda The lovable and charismatic panda is one of the most popular animals in the world. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most endangered.
Found only in China, one of the world's most populous countries, the giant panda clings to survival, facing habitat fragmentation and poaching as its greatest threats. It is estimated that as few as 1,600 pandas remain in the wild today. WWF works to help giant pandas in the wild through a variety of programs, including scientific assessments, habitat conservation and outreach to local governments and people within the panda's home range.
Pandas have been an integral part of our mission for more than two decades. In 1979, WWF was the first international organization to be invited into China to work on panda conservation. To this day, we remain the primary international conservation organization protecting pandas in the wild, and with your help we can ensure their survival.
Pandas are bear-like animals with a white coat and black fur around their eyes, on their ears, muzzle, legs and shoulders. An adult giant panda has a head and body length of 3 to 4 feet, and weighs between 185 and 245 pounds. The unique physical features of the giant panda include broad, flat molars and an enlarged wrist bone that functions as an opposable thumb - both of these adaptations are used for crushing and eating bamboo.
1. There are as few as 1,600 pandas left in the wild.
2. The giant panda has the largest molar teeth of any of the carnivores.
3. Although classed as a carnivore, the panda's diet consists almost exclusively of bamboo and it usually spends 14 hours a day eating.
4. Pandas stand on their head and forelegs to place scent high up on tree trunks.
5. The forepaws of the panda have an extra "thumb" which, when used in conjunction with its "forefingers," enables the panda to grasp even small bamboo shoots with precision.
6. The panda does not hibernate because it cannot store enough fat on a bamboo diet.
7. Pandas usually roam in the forest, but mothers will stay in caves or hollow trees when giving birth and remain there for three to four months after their babies are born.
8. The giant panda was unknown in the Western world until 1869, when a skin was found by Pére David, a French missionary.
9. Pandas are good at climbing trees. They can also swim.
10. Pandas like to live alone and will not often meet other pandas unless they get together during the mating season.
11. A day-old panda looks rather like a small white rat and weighs about 3.5 ounces, about 1/900 of the mother's body weight.
12. A female panda only comes into season for 72 hours a year.
13. Pandas can live for about 20 years in the wild.
14. Female pandas can start to give birth at 4-5 years old. A female can have 5-8 babies in the wild.
15. Pandas have occurred on earth for over 3 million years. They are called "living fossils" because many species that survived together with pandas in the past, such as stegodon (a big tusked elephant) and Chinese rhinos, are extinct already.
16. It is very difficult to see a panda in the wild because they live in thick bamboo, mostly in old-growth forests - their favorite habitat.
17. There are many other rare animals living in the same habitat with pandas, such as red pandas, takins and golden monkeys.
"cool design""cool design"
Today's Endangered Animal Species:
Marine Turtle Having traveled the seas for over 100 million years, marine turtles have outlived almost all of the prehistoric animals with which they once shared the planet. Marine turtles survived the extinction of the dinosaurs and are still present in the world's oceans today.
Each of the seven marine turtle species has distinct features, and their populations are spread throughout the oceans. But all marine turtles advance through the same life cycles and they possess many shared characteristics. Unfortunately they also all face common threats to their existence: Six of the seven species of marine turtles are endangered or critically endangered.
- Hawksbill turtle
- Kemp's ridley turtle
- Leatherback turtle
- Loggerhead turtle
- Green turtle
- Olive ridley turtle
- Flatback turtle
Worldwide, marine turtle species are in grave danger. With populations in serious decline (reduced by up to 90 percent in some locations) and several species being pushed into critically endangered status, preserving marine turtles and their habitats is one of WWF's most important and urgent missions. Thanks to dedicated conservation efforts based on sound science and community involvement, WWF is achieving conservation results around the world upon which we will continue to build.
Today's Endangered Animal Species:
Elephants are the largest living land animals, with adults sometimes weighing six tons or more. Of the two species, the African elephant is larger and more plentiful than the Asian elephant. But both are threatened by shrinking living space and poaching for the ivory trade.
Modern elephants are the last survivors of the old and varied "trunked" family of mammals that once ranged the entire planet. These heirs of such mighty creatures as the extinct mastodon and mammoth and occupy a unique place in their habitat in Africa and Asia. As huge and powerful consumers, elephants are considered to be a keystone species in their environment, affecting biodiversity in the regions they inhabit. They open up areas of forest where light-dependent plants can take hold, for example, creating habitat for grazing animals. Such elephant roadways also act as fire breaks or drainage conduits and are littered with partially digested, ready-to-germinate seeds conveniently fertilized in elephant dung. The wells elephants dig in search of water are used by virtually all other wildlife in a given region, particularly during periods of drought. On the other hand, elephant activity can also be seen as destructive, particularly under the pressures of human landscape transformation that force the animals into smaller areas. As habitat shrinks, their voracious appetite can bring them more frequently into conflict with people.
Of the two species, the African Elephant is larger and more plentiful than the Asian Elephant, although both are threatened by shrinking living space and poaching for the ivory trade. There are 300,000 to 600,000 African (in 37 range countries) and 35,000 to 50,000 Asian elephants (in 13 range countries) left in the wild.
African elephants, the earth's largest land animals, can be up to 11 feet wide at the shoulder, have an average length of 20-25 feet and weigh more than six tons. Their potential life span is approximately 60 years. Both male and female African elephants have tusks, which can be straight or curved upward. Tusks first appear at age two, they continue to grow throughout an elephant's life, and are used when feeding, in social encounters as instruments of display, or as weapons. African elephants have saddle-shaped backs and two prehensile finger-like projections at the tips of their trunks.
Asian elephants mostly inhabit Asian tropical forests and use their gray coloration to conceal themselves in their shady habitat. Female Asian elephants usually lack visible tusks, as do males in some populations, such as those in northeast India. Wide, padded feet enable them to walk quietly. Large, flappable ears help these huge animals cool off, although elephants often must retreat to the shade or water during the hottest part of the day. Asian elephants grow up to 21 feet long, stand up to 10 feet tall, and weigh up to 11,000 pounds - smaller than their African counterparts. Even smaller are Sumatran and Bornean elephants which are more diminutive than the elephants in mainland Asia. Females reach around eight and a half feet tall and weigh less than males. Asian elephants can live to be 60.
Asian elephants have been tamed as beasts of burden for about 4,000 years. Most elephants recruited for such work as hauling and lumber are still taken from the wild.
1. Among their many uses, elephants' trunks sometimes serve as snorkels, allowing submerged swimming elephants to breathe as they cross deep rivers or lakes.
Today's Endangered Animal Species:
Channel Islands Fox (Urocyon littoralis) is a Critically Endangered canid restricted to six of the California Channel Islands off the coast of southern California, USA. The population has suffered declines of more than 80% in recent years, primarily caused by golden eagle predation and possibly also introduction of canine disease such as canine distemper virus (CDV). Population decline is expected to continue.
The island fox (Urocyon littoralis) is the largest of the Channel Islands' native mammals. A descendent of the mainland gray fox, the island fox evolved into a unique species over 10,000 years ago. The island fox has similar markings to its ancestor, but is one-third smaller.
Environmental and ecological factors such as drought or food scarcity may have contributed to the natural selection for a smaller size. At 12 to 13 inches in height and 4 to 5 pounds, the island fox is about the size of a housecat. Island foxes have gray coloring on the back, rust coloring on the sides, and white underneath. The face has a distinctive black, white, and rufous-colored patterns.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Today's Endangered Animal Species:
|Nassau Grouper (Epinephelus striatus) is a large, coral reef fish occurring from Bermuda and Florida throughout the Bahamas and Caribbean Sea. The species is fished both commercially and recreationally, with much of the catch coming from spawning aggregations. Suitable habitat for this grouper is also believed to be in decline, with 29% of coral reef habitat in the Caribbean estimated to be under high risk of degradation from human activities. The global population of Nassu Grouper has declined by approximately 60% over the last 30 years and the species is listed as Endangered.|
Description: color light background with brown or red-brown bars on sides; stripe in shape of tuning fork on forehead; third spine of dorsal longer than second ; pelvic fins shorter than pectorals; black dots around the eyes; large black saddle on caudal peduncle.
Similar Fish: red grouper, E. morio.
Where found: range limited to south Florida; somewhat site specific; smaller individuals NEARSHORE, adults OFFSHORE on rocky reefs.
Size: most catches under 10 pounds.
The Nassau grouper is found throughout the tropical western Atlantic Ocean, including Bermuda, Florida, Bahamas, and throughout the Caribbean Sea, south to Brazil. Occurs in the Gulf of Mexico in limited locations including the Yucatan, Tortugas, and Key West.