As some of you may recall, back in June one of the subjects of my recurring Weird Wildlife Wednesday post was an extremely endangered cetacean known as the Vaquita. I recently came across this article at TakePart.com about a single simple way that biologists are saying they could be saved. Check it out at this link!
The Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), a member or the Crocodilians, is definitely weird compared to some of its more commonly known relatives. If the elongated snout weren’t funny looking enough, the males possess a rounded growth on the tip of their snout.
They are found in rivers of areas mostly in and around India. When they are fully grown, they eat primarily fish, but the young also feed on other invertebrates. They are long lived animals and can grow as long or longer than 13 feet. Fun fact about their reproduction: their eggs are the largest of any crocodilian species.
Unfortunately, these guys are listed as critically endangered and nearly went completely extinct back in the 1970’s. Now they are making some slow recovery. As with a lot of reptiles in that region of the world, they are hunted for suposed medicinal purposes. They are also a vistim of habitat loss. Captive breeding and release is a challenge when decent release sights are in short supply.
Here’s some news from my neck of the woods. Peregrine Falcons were once on the brink of extinction due to the use of the pesticide DDT which caused thinning of their egg shells. Now, because of conservation efforts and the banning of DDT in the United States, their numbers have been bouncing back quite successfully. In California, the raptors are now threatening other endangered shorebird nesting areas. Because of this, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it will not allow any more chick rescues from San Francisco Bay Area bridges. This will undoubtedly result in several chicks falling and drowning in the water below. It sounds brutal, the USFWS says it is now time for nature to take it’s course.
This is a controversial issue, especially to those who worked so hard to save the species from extinction. When a species has been so close to extinction, it is often difficult to really know when it is time to step back and let them fend for themselves again. Who’s to say that something else won’t cause their numbers to decline again?
Sorry I’ve been bad about updating for a little while! I just started a new full time job as a veterinary assistant and it’s been draining my time!
Since I missed last weeks Weird Wildlife Wednesday, this week I am giving you two. The first is the Tufted Deer (Elaphodus cephalophus cephalophus). These guys aren’t necessarily listed as endangered yet but they could be in the future if habitat destruction and encroaching human populations continue. The main reason I selected the Tufted Deer for Weird Wildlife Wednesday is because of the little tusks the males develop. They remind me of prehistoric sabertooth animals and I think qualify them as weird. In captivity, they can live to be 15 years old or older even, but it is unknown how long they may live in the wild. They are relatively small compared to other deer species and males are larger than females. Tufted Deer are found in Asia, mostly in China and live in jungles and mountainy forests.
Keeping with the theme of odd tusks, the second animal for this Weird Wildlife Wednesday is the Babirusa (Babyrousa celebensis). They have not only a pair of bottom tusks but also a pair of top tusks. Native to a small Indonesian island, these hogs live in swamps and forests nears rivers and lakes. They also have bizarre tusks and one of the ugliest faces you’ll ever see. They are listed as a threatened species from habitat distraction and overhunting.
A little green nocturnal Australian ground bird, known as the Night Parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis), was recently seen and filmed for the first time in over a century. The naturalist who found the bird has decided to keep its whereabouts secret to protect it and others from visits by humans. His decision is being supported by the director of CISRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) which is a governmental research body. The bird has been listed by the IUCN as critically endangered since 2012, it’s populations being threatened by feral cats and other animals and by human development since European settlement.
I always find stories like this fascinating when an animal that hasn’t been seen in so long makes an appearance. It gives me hope. To read the full source article, click here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/05/night-parrot-australia_n_3548811.html?utm_hp_ref=green
Keep an eye out for critters this Fourth of July. Don’t aim your fireworks at wildlife, no animal needs your alcohol, and be careful not to do fireworks near trees or houses. Stay safe!
The Pink Fairy Armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus) is the smallest known species of armadillo, tipping the scales at less than one pound. They are only inches in length and don’t look like what initially comes to mind when you think of an armadillo. These guys are mostly furry with a scaly covering over its back and top of its head, and with big scaly feet. The Pink Fairy Armadillo uses it’s proportionally massive feet to dig, and will burry itself as a defense mechanism. They are found in Argentina in grassy dry habitats that are perfect for their digging. They are omnivorous and will eat all kinds of little foods like snails, worms, plant matter, and ants, though ants are their top food preference. They will find places near ant hills to dig their burrows just to be close to their favorite food.
Because they only give birth to one baby at a time and because of habitat loss and destruction, these little guys have been listed as threatened since the 1970’s.