Ours will! The young loggerhead sea turtle that’s been displayed in our Open Sea galleries is winging it back to the North Carolina Aquarium right now and will soon be returned to the wild. If all goes well, a new baby sea turtle wil take its place Friday night!
Follow the journey on Twitter at #TravelingTurtle.
Reversing local extinction: scientists bring the northern bald ibis back to Europe after 300 years
by Federica Di Leonardo
The northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita), also called the hermit ibis or waldrapp, is a migratory bird. Once, the bald ibis lived in the Middle East, northern Africa and southern and central Europe, but due to hunting, loss of habitat and pesticide-use, the birds disappeared from most of these areas and is currently considered Critically Endangered.
It became extinct in Europe 300 years ago; the bird is almost gone in Syria, with only a single individual recorded at the country’s lone breeding site in 2013; and the only stronghold left is a small population of around 500 birds in Morocco. But now, a team of scientists from Austria is working to reestablish a self-sustaining, migratory population of bald ibis in Europe.
In 2002 Johannes Fritz, who had been a doctoral student in biology at the Konrad Lorenz Research Station in Austria, came up with the idea of taking northern bald ibises from zoos and imprinting them, in effect becoming their foster parent to teach them a new migratory route to Italy…
The Hay’s Spring Amphipod, Stygobromus hayi, is a rare crustacean endemic to the District of Columbia in the United States. It is known to occur only in five springs along a three-mile stretch of Rock Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River.
This species is threatened by the degradation of its urban habitat. Most recently, it has become the center of attention in a debate about the environmental impacts of a planned transitway across Rock Creek for a local light-rail project: http://wapo.st/1b96i2e
About half of eastern North America’s Monarch butterflies migrate to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico each fall. Their arrival usually coincides with the local corn harvest around November 1, leading to the local name “harvester butterfly”.
The colonies of overwintering butterflies have in the past numbered up to a billion individuals, and the counts at the reserve are used to gauge population levels across North America. This year, however, the monarchs arrived about a week late and number only 3 million - just a tiny fraction of their usual numbers, around 350-450 million. In fact, just a fraction of the 60 million that arrived last year, which itself had been considered an alarming decline.
Four factors have been blamed for the crash: continuing habitat loss, widespread pesticide use, changing gardening approaches, and climate change, which has resulted in more numerous and more severe weather events that affect both the adults’ survival and their reproductive success. You can help by providing milkweed and nectar-rich plants in your garden, by reducing your use of pesticides, by leaving some of your property to naturalize, by planting wildflower meadows, and/or by encouraging your local municipality to cut back on mowing along roadsides and other wildflower-rich areas.
Of monarchs and milkweeds: How one species’ pest is another’s repast
by Nathanael Johnson
The monarch butterfly is a prime example of charismatic minifauna. Charismatic megafauna — bears, sharks, wolves — evoke feelings of awe, but there’s a subtle contradiction in sheltering species that sometime eat us. With charismatic minifauna, however, that contradiction disappears. It may be harder to empathize with insects, but nurturing them comes a bit more naturally.
People like Debbie Jackson, a conservation specialist with Monarch Watch, have been nurturing the insects for decades.
“I started this as a little girl the cornfields of the Midwest, just enjoying them,” she said. “Feeding the caterpillars on milkweed and watching them grow.”
Now monarchs are in trouble — in part because there’s not much milkweed left in the cornfields of the Midwest(herbicides…).
“The numbers are astronomically horrible,” Jackson said. The monarch overwintering spot in the mountains of Mexico once hosted a billion butterflies. But just 3 million have shown up so far this year, she said.
When we received a call that a wild bobcat was found tangled in a backyard fence, Big Cat Rescuers rushed to the property to help!
The bobcat, later named Fencer was sedated and transported to ACT (Animal Coalition of Tampa) to be examined. Amazingly Fencer had no major injuries, but he did have a broken toe which required 6 weeks of rest at Big Cat Rescue before we could release him back into the wild!
BIG CAT TV is a close look into our day-to-day operations, the conservation efforts we support, and the 100+ feline residents of “Big Cat Rescue” in Tampa, FL. USA. Big Cat Rescue is an educational non-breeding sanctuary and a registered non-profit 501c3 so your donations are tax deductible!
Good News: New Camera Trap Photos Prove That Critically Endangered Amur Leopards Are Breeding in China
by Jeremy Hance
Good news today about one of the world’s rarest mammals today: camera traps in China’s Wangqing Nature Reserve have captured the first proof of breeding Amur leopards in the country, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The photos show a mother Amur leopard with two cubs. A recent survey by WWF-Russia estimated the total wild population of Amur leopards at just 50 individuals, but that’s a population on the rise (from a possible nadir of 25) and expanding into long-unused territory.
“This incredible find is important for two reasons,” notes Joe Walston, WCS Executive Director for Asia Programs. “Firstly, it shows that our current efforts are paying off but, secondly, it shows that China can no longer be considered peripheral to the fate of both wild Amur leopards and tigers.”
Amur leopards and Amur—or Siberian—tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) share much of the same ecosystem, and both big cats hunt large large hoofed prey like deer and boar. Yet both species were also pushed to the very edge of extinction by decades of poaching, until conservationists and countries responded. Amur leopards are currently listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, while Amur tigers are considered Endangered with around 360 animals surviving in the wild…
New Zealand Mantises and the Deadly Allure of the Exotic
by Sid Perkins
Males of a praying mantis native to New Zealand, Orthodera novaezealandiae, are more attracted to the cannibalistic females of an invasive species introduced in the 1970s, Miomantis caffra, than they are to the noncannibal females of their own kind, a new study suggests.
In lab tests, a native male (smaller mantis in image) was placed in a Y-shaped maze whose branches contained a female of one species or the other. At the fork in the road, the male turned toward the invasive female in 11 out of 13 trials, researchers report online today in Biology Letters…
Audubon of Florida has put out the 2013 edition of the environmental state of the Everglades, in South Florida. Have a read of this free online publication, and see how this huge, critical, and diverse ecosystem is fairing…
With the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act just a month away, we are gearing up all our efforts to get the word out so our partners can celebrate this monumental law and let people know about all the plants and animals it protects.
Our most recent issues of Fish & Wildlife News takes a look at the Act, its history and milestones, success stories from around the nation and more. Check it out!
Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Red Knots Proposed for Endangered Listing
by Brianna Elliott
What could the western yellow-billed cuckoo, a river-loving songbird, and the rufa red knot, an East Coast shorebird, possibly have in common? Both are Audubon Priority Birds, and they’ve been in steep decline since the late 20th century, adversely affected by habitat degradation and declining food supplies. Climate change has taken its toll on each, too: Extended droughts have affected cuckoo habitat, while rising sea levels have damaged red knot feeding grounds. But now, after years of intensive monitoring by Audubon and many partner organizations, there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon for these birds.
In early October the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing the birds as threatened under the Endangered Species Act; a final decision is anticipated next summer. If the verdict favors the birds, the resulting habitat protection could give them a greater chance at rebounding.
Endangered species listing isn’t always the most effective strategy, and Audubon and other conservation favor using it judiciously. In the case of the greater sage-grouse, for instance, Audubon and its partners figured—correctly, as it turned out—that working with government agencies and private landowners would be the most effective way to conserve the species. With the yellow-billed cuckoo and the rufa red knot, however, listing could be the last, best hope…