Category Archives: Rare Species/ Breeds

Rare Species: Vaquita


The Vaquita is the rarest marine mammal in the world; a little porpoise, that wasn’t discovered until 1958. Now, almost 60 years on and they are on the brink of extinction. They are often caught in nets in marine protected areas, within Mexico’s Gulf of California, and drown as a result. Sadly, more than half of the population has been lost in the last three years.

The Vaquita is pale grey along its’ sides, dark grey on the dorsal surface (on top), and light grey/ white ventral surface (along the bottom). They have dark rings around the eyes and lips, and a dark thin line from the lips to the pectoral (front, side) fins. Newborns are darker in colour, with pale grey along the dorsal surface and head.

Since the freshwater River Dolphin species, the Baiji, went extinct in 2006 the Vaquita has taken the title of the world’s most endangered cetacean. As of 2016, there is suspected to be less than 30 left in the wild; a drastic drop in numbers since 1997 when there were approximately 600 in the wild.

The poaching of the endangered Totoaba fish, for its’ swim bladder – a Chinese delicacy, using gill-nets (fixed fishing nets) is the main cause of the Vaquita’s declining numbers. Vaquita’s get caught in gill-nets, and drown, as they cannot get free to get to the surface for air.

Gill-nets, though usually put in place for a single species, do not discriminate – many different species get caught, and often die. Whales, dolphins and porpoises all get trapped – some get away with injuries, whilst most die.

Dr. Anna Hall, of the Porpoise Conservation Society, said, There is nothing else we need to worry about other than gill-nets. If we remove the gill-nets, we will likely save the Vaquita.”


All images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of my social media pages…
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Javanese Songbird Trade


Songbirds on the brink of extinction due to being wild caught, and then sold as pets in Java (Indonesia). Markets full of beautiful songbirds bundled into cages. Forests erily quiet as the songbirds that should occupy the trees are being sold in these markets; including protected bird species, being illegally caught and sold. These animals are treated as possessions of status as opposed to being cared for as companions. Songbird species native to Java are headed toward extinction – according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Many species are critically endangered with no signs of improving.

Songbird Market, Java

Despite the efforts of conservationists and breeding programmes, for some species it may be too late. But thankfully, these programmes are still going, still hoping. Maybe some species will recover but the people of Java need to release these birds back into/ stop taking them from the wild, to have them die in cages a stones throw from their natural habitat.

Sumatran laughingthrush

I was made aware of this awful practice by a short segment in between news stories on the BBC – for more information of this on the BBC website please follow this link.


All images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of my social media pages…
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Rare Species: Ili Pika


For over two decades this little lagomorph was winning at the “hide” part of the game “hide and seek”! Until it was finally spotted again in 2014, after being thought to be [practically] extinct.

The Ili Pika (scientific name: Ochotona iliensis) is an eight-inch long rabbit and hare relative, and is one of the world’s most endangered animals. The census carried out in 2014 showed that less than 1,000 individuals of this tiny animal is believed to be left in the wild. That more endangered than the Giant Panda. Unfortunately, little more is known about this species – thought to be diurnal with some nocturnal activity.

First discovered by Li Weidong in 1983, this man has watched as the species he discovered has declined in number over the years, becoming endangered – with no one working to protect this species, or their habitat, their numbers may well keep decreasing. It was named after where Li first spotted the Pika, on the far west side of China’s Xinjiang province; the Ili Prefecture. They live in holes in the rocks, high up in the mountains – at heights of between 2,800-4,100 metres.

The cause of the reduction in the habitat of this little furry creature is unknown; however contributing factors may include the increasing population of people moving further into the habitat of the Pika, due to climate change – the reduction of snow at lower altitudes,  and causing a reduction in grazing areas. Whatever the cause, there is no conservation system in place currently; however the rediscovery of this species has boosted them into the media since 2014, raising awareness.

 


All images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of my social media pages…
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Rare Species: Hirola


The hirola (Beatragus hunteri) is also known as “Hunter’s Antelope” or “Hunter’s Hartebeest”,  and even “four-eyed antelope”.

The hirola is the only surviving species of the  Beatragus genus; a genus of antelope which there used to contain  many different species. If the hirola becomes extinct, it would mean not only the loss of a species, but also of the entire Beatragus genus of antelope. Due to this, the hirola is often referred to as a ‘living fossil’.

The species is so rare, that it is classed as critically endangered on the Endangered Species List. The next step down, is extinct in the wild and after that it’s completely extinct.

The hirola is a medium sized antelope, weighing (approximately) between 68-115 kg. They are a sandy brown colour, with a paler underside. The species has well developed horns in both genders; which are tall and ridged.  As hirola get older their  horns accumulate more ridges, and their coat darkens to a slate grey. The hirola have what’s referred to a white ‘spectacles’ – white rings around the eyes , joined by a line across the head. The white facial markings also surround scent glands under the eyes, which is why the hirola is often called the “four-eyed antelope”.

Adult hirola

Lifespan in the wild is unknown, however the average captive lifespan is ten years. The hirola is now thought to be restricted in distribution to the south-eastern coast of Kenya, south of the Somalian border.

It is estimated that the population size is between 600 and 2,000 individuals in the wild; however the actual number is thought to be closer to 600.
The main threats to the survival of the hirola today include disease, poaching, predation, competition with domestic livestock, habitat loss,  and drought. The species has been legally protected from hunting in Kenya since 1971 and in Somalia since 1977; unfortunately the enforcement of this law is poor and poaching is still a large threat.
In my opinion, we as a species (humans) need to protect what animals that still survive on the earth, before following generations are left with none. The number of animal species on the planet has declined majorly over generations; largely due to our selfishness.

All images are open source, Google images, or my own.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of my social media pages…
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World Elephant Day: 12 August 2016


#WorldElephantDay on social media to spread awareness (www.worldelephantday.org).

Common Elephant Facts:

  • It is thought that there used to be approximately 350 different species of elephant on the planet, at one time.
  • Today there are only two species left; the Asian elephant, and the African elephant .
  • Wild lifespan of 60-70 years; captive lifespan of below 40 years.
  • Gestation (pregnancy): 22 months.
  • Live together in (familial) herds of 10-100 elephants, led by the matriarch.
  • Young males will leave the family heard, and often form smaller bachelor groups, once sexual maturity is reached.
  • Known to visit ‘elephant graveyards’ and mourn the death of herd members.
  • Their trunk is used like a finger/hand – to grab things, such as food or to move obstacles out of their way; as well as sometimes being used to hold onto the tail of the elephant in front during walkies!
African_elephant_(Loxodonta_africana)_reaching_up_1
African Elephant – using trunk to get food (Open Source Google Image)

Asian Elephant Facts:

  • also known as the Indian elephant.
  • smaller in size than the African, weighing up to 5 tonnes, reaching 6.4 metres in length, and 3 metres in height.
  • small ears, straight at the bottom.
  • only males have tusks; not all males get tusks.
  • five toes on the front feet; four toes on the back feet.
  • estimated to be less than 50,000 remaining in the wild – classification: endangered.
Asian Elephant (Open Source Google Image)
Asian Elephant (Open Source Google Image)

African elephants:

  • larger of the two elephant species, weighing up to 6 tonnes, reaching 7.5 metres in length, and 3.3 metres in height.
  • large, round edged ears; used as fans in the heat (plus excess heat is released from the large surface area).
  • of the African, there are two subspecies; bush or savanna and forest.
  • both males and females have tusks.
  • African elephants are left or right-tusked (like we are left or right-handed); the dominant tusk is often smaller due to wear and tear.
  • five front toes; three hind toes.
  • estimated to be 470,000 remaining in the wild – classification: vulnerable.
African Elephant (Open Source Google Image)
African Elephant (Open Source Google Image)

Rare Species: Gooty Tarantula


warning

The scientific name for this arachnid is Poecilotheria metallica. Some other names for this blue beauty include; Gooty sapphire ornamental tree spider, Gooty sapphire tarantula, Metallic tarantula, and Peacock tarantula. This tarantula is so named due to the location of the only known habitat of the species – this tarantula species is (so far) known to inhabit a protected forest in the town of Gooty, India. The known distribution of this rare species is less than 39 square miles.

Juvenile Gooty Tarantula
Juvenile Gooty Tarantula

The blue colour is more intense in males than females. The young start off as more of a lavender colour, which gradually becomes blue, and then gets more intense into adulthood – as seen in the image above, the juvenile still retains the lavender colour, but has already begun to change to blue.

Adults grow up to 6-8 inches (14.5-20 cm) in length, on average. The Gooty Tarantula matures between 1-2 years old; and can live anywhere between 12-30 years – living longer in the wild (up to 30 years), with shorter captive lifespans (averaging 12 years old).

Gooty Tarantula - Open Source Google Image
Gooty Tarantula – Open Source Google Image

As you can see by the image above, this is an arboreal tarantula species – meaning that they live off the ground, in the trees and plants (as opposed to being a terrestrial species; living on the ground/ in the undergrowth). The species is so rare, that it is classed as critically endangered on the Endangered Species List. This species was thought to be extinct for 102 years; it was rediscovered in Gooty in 2001.


All images are open source, Google images – not my own.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of my social media pages…
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World Tapir Day


As it is World Tapir Day, I have decided to do a post with a few fact about Tapirs – enjoy!

The Tapir is a large, solitary mammal; with a short, prehensile snout (looks like a mini trunk). Being prehensile, this can be used as a we would a finger/hand – the Tapir uses it to wrap around branches and pull of the tasty leaves and vegetation it feeds on. The Tapir is a herbivore; using this “mini trunk” to help it obtain food, as it will spend a lot of time foraging for food. The Tapir eats twigs/ branches, leaves, shoots, buds, berries/ fruits, and even aquatic plants.

Tapirs live in the jungle and forest regions of South anf Central America, and Southeast Asia. They live within the dense undergrowth on the jungle or forest floor – except for the Mountain Tapir (as the name suggests).

These have all been classified as endangered or threatened species. They are relates to other ungulates, including horses and rhinoceroses. They are however odd-toed ungulates, unlike the horse.

There are four species of Tapir:

  • Brazilian Tapir
  • Mountain Tapir
  • Malayan (or Asian) Tapir
  • Baird’s Tapir

The Baird’s Tapir has cream coloured markings lining the tips of the ears, under the chin, and continuing down to the chest  – making it easy to identify. It inhabits forests of Central and South America.

Baird's Tapir (Open Source Image)
Baird’s Tapir (Open Source Image)

The Malayan Tapir is the largest of the Tapir species. It has a distinctive colouration; being dark grey/ black in colour with a white band around from the midriff to the hind; around the body. The Malayan Tapir inhabited the tropical forests across South East Asia; however, today has a much smaller habitat range (due to habitat loss caused primarily by man). This species is my personal favourite.

Malayan Tapir (Open Source Image)
Malayan Tapir (Open Source Image)

The Mountain Tapir is the smallest of the Tapir species and lives in mountainous regions; unlike the other three species. It can be found in the high forests in the Andes mountains (Colombia, Ecuador and parts north of Peru). This is the furriest species- needing a thicker coat to help keep it warm in the mountains. The Mountain Tapir has the same cream tipped ears as the Baird’s Tapir, however it also has cream markings around the mouth (personally I think it looks like cream coloured lipstick!) making it easy to distinguish.

Mountain Tapir (Open Source Image)
Mountain Tapir (Open Source Image)

The Brazilian Tapir is known to be a great swimmer and the is generally found close to water; in the Amazon Rainforest. The colouration of this species is a light brown; with an even paler colouration running under the body. The Brazilian Tapir also has slightly smaller ears, that sit further to the side (rather than the top) of the head – when compared to the other three species.

Brazilian Tapir (Open Source Image)
Brazilian Tapir (Open Source Image)

Baby Tapirs are usually brown in colour, with spots and stripes on their coats; this helps them blend in to the undergrowth, and helps them to stay hidden from predators – as they cannot run as fast as mum to get away, hiding is the best option for the little ones.

Baby Tapir (Open Source Image)
Baby Tapir (Open Source Image)

National Visit the Zoo Day


In tribute to all the species kept in zoos and safari parks, enjoy some pictures of species that are wild, unusual, rarely seen (outside of zoos/ safari parks), and protected species/ last of their species.

Not everyone agrees with zoos or safari parks – there can certainly be improvements made; but on the other hand, we all enjoy visiting the zoo or safari park and taking in the exquisite and diverse animal species.

Picking a Pet


There is plenty to consider when you think about getting a pet… I doubt I will cover anything but I hope to get across some of the main things in this post. So I’ll just dive right in…

What kind of pet is right for you?
Species, breed, age, lifespan, lifestyle requirements, environment – these are all important factors to consider when thinking about a pet.
– what sort of pet would fit in with your lifestyle?
– is your home suitable for the pet you want?
– what type of pet is your home suitable for?
– do you have time to give the pet the attention and care it needs?

Chilean Rose

Think about what pet you want. Think about whether or not you can commit. Can you commit to…
–  walking a dog daily, often multiple times daily?
–  ensuring a cat is exercised daily?
–  cleaning the glass, substrate, decor and filter of a fish tank?
–  cleaning a rodent cage multiple times a week?
–  the lifespan of the pet you desire?
If you cannot commit, either choose a different species or consider waiting until you are in a positions to commit fully to the pet you desire. If you do not have the time or the space for the kind of pet you want; then you may need to look into either waiting, or consider a different species/ breed.

Horses

There are many things to consider before adding a pet into your family.

Consider your finances – can you afford the pet you want? – Not just the one off payment for the pet and accessories; but the regular payments towards food, healthcare, replacement bedding, etc.

Space – Where will the pet live? Does it require specialised housing? Will it have free run of your home/ garden? Is your home suitable for the pet you want? Does this pet require large housing building/ buying? Do you know what housing type is best for the species you want?
Consider the positioning of any specialised housing – not near busy thoroughfares, or in direct sunlight/ under bright lights,  anywhere too dark, too cold, too hot, etc. Does the housing need to be outside? Do you have enough outside space to accommodate the animal?

Socialisation – Do yo need to buy more than one due to the animal being of a social species? Does the animal need socialising outside of the home? What is the best way to socialise the species?

There are many things to consider! So do some research, ask a professional (nb. not every person who works in a pet store, etc. is a professional!), check out a few different individuals of the species you want, and be as prepared as possible before diving in to pet ownership!

 


If you have any questions or comments, or would like any more information or advice regarding this post; or if you have anything specific you would like me to cover in a future post, then either leave a comment below, or contact me via one of my social media pages:-
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Pet Travel Safety


People don’t think about safety during travel with regards to there pets, as much as they should; especially with dogs in cars. Travelling with our pets is something we almost all do at some point – even if it’s just a trip to the vets.

Safety is important when travelling – smaller pets ought to be in a safe, secure pet carrier; suitable for the size of your pet. Someone ought to securely hold the small pets in the carrier, or the carrier ought to be secured in your vehicle; so that the carrier does not move about too much or tip over.

Hamster in carrier

Larger animals can be in larger pet carriers and crates/ cages, and secured in your vehicle. This can be a carrier that is mobile, or fitted in your vehicle.

Dog in crate
Dog in crate

Alternatives for larger pets, such as dogs and cats, are pet seat belts. These consist of harnesses and some way to fasten them into the seat belt buckle; some plug straight into the buckle plug, others have a loop in which the seatbelt goes through and plugs in as normal.

Dog Car Harness (loop)
Dog Car Harness (loop)

What is important to remember is that it’s not just your pet you put at risk by leaving them loose during travel. They could be a distraction and cause an accident without meaning to, and they are a weight that can be thrown into a person or out a window/windscreen if you get into a crash. Now my little Bedlington, in the image above, is 17″ to the shoulder and weighs upwards of 10kg – if he was lose in my car and there was an accident, 10kg slamming into a person could kill them; 10kg shooting out the window/windscreen could kill your pet too…

It is one of my biggest pet peeves (no pun intended) is seeing pets loose in a vehicle – the danger for the pet and people is greater than we tend to give credit to.