Category Archives: Mammals

Endangered Earth


In the past 10 years we have lost several animal species – in this day and age we consider ourselves better than our predecessors, yet we are still the main cause of animals going extinct… we’re no better than those before us – in some ways we’re worse, as we are not doing what we do to survive; we are doing it for “fun” or “progress”. In what civilised or ‘advanced’ society is there place for this abominable behaviour? Yes, this post is looking to be an informative rant-type…

In the past century many animal species have been wiped from the planet, below is a selection (from the past decade) of those lost forever:
(1) 2015 – Eastern Cougar
(2) 2014 – Malagasy Hippopotamus
(3) 2013 – Formosan Clouded Leopard
(4) 2012 – Pinta Tortoise
(5) 2012 – Zanzibar Leopard
(6) 2012 – Japanese River Otter
(7) 2011 – Western Black Rhinoceros
(8) 2010 – Alatora Grebe
(9) 2010 – Derwent River Sea Star
(10) 2009 – Christmas Island Pipistrelle Bat
(11) 2008 – Spotted Green Pigeon (Liverpool Pigeon)
(12) 2008 – Caribbean Monk Seal

Many species that are extinct today is due to humans – we hunt to extinction, we destroy habitats, we remove animals from the wild for fashion or entertainment – we first make them extinct in the wild and then we deplete the captive animals until they’re gone… and many other reasons.
The ICUN Red List contains information of the endangerment of species.
We used to hunt sustainably for food, and in many countries/cultures this is still the case, but most of the hunting (at least in first world cultures) is for “fun” or “sport” and is unjustifiably cruel and unnecessary. The man that hunts to feed his family and/or community is not the reason Elephants and Rhino’s are depleting in number and becoming extinct; the cruelty of riding out with a pack of dogs to have them tear apart an innocent fox is not for any justifiable reason; the mind-set of people needs to change to make a difference… the bans we have in place need to be enforced to make a difference… we all want a better world but that won’t happen if we cannot really change.

We have bans (in certain countries) on things like fox hunting, whale hunting (whaling), shark finning, dog and cock fighting, removing animals from the wild (with conservation excepted), and many more abhorrent things – yet these bans are not universal, and often not enforced. If there are no consequences for these actions, or these consequences are not adhered to and/ or enforced, then what power do these bans have? Where then is the protection for these creatures?

Red Fox

Animals are a lot more important to their ecosystems than people give them credit for – the removal or addition of one species has an affect on everything around it. Take the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park for example – video link here (this is in no way my video) – thanks to wolves being back in the ecosystem, the rivers went back to how they used to be, plants that had been destroyed by the overpopulation of deer returned, because the wolves kept down the deer population – things went back to the way they were; back to how they should be. Why did the ecosystem breakdown in the first place; why did the wolves become extinct in Yellowstone? Because of us. Because of humans. Because we killed them off…Grey Wolf

The way we are going, the same thing will happen again and again, with more species. We, as a species, need to change before we are the only species left on a dying planet – small steps to ensure that other species don’t become myth and fairy-tales, instead of living, breathing creatures that share this planet.

Your cat and the big outdoors


New cat or kitten? Wanting to let them roam the big, wide world outside? Stop and think before you do, to ensure the safest way to introduce your cat to the outdoors.

Kittens Outside

You must note that there are differences in introducing a young kitten and an adult cat to the outdoors.

With an adult cat, keep them indoors 3-6 weeks before letting them venture outdoors; cats have a great ‘homing beacon’ and if you let them out straight away will find their way back to where home was before you brought them home with you. Keeping your cat indoors for minimum of 3 weeks will sort of ‘re-set’ this, so your home becomes theirs and they will then find their way back to you. This also applies with adult cats when you move house – keep them inside until your new location becomes theirs.

With a kitten there is a bit more preparation before letting them outside – this is first for a new kitten! Ensure your kitten is micro-chipped in case they get lost; vaccinated to avoid illness or disease; and neutered at the appropriate age to avoid any unplanned litters!

Work on recall in the home before letting your cat/kitten out – calling them and shaking their favourite bag of treats, or something similar so they know to come back when called.

Cat Collar

If you want to put a collar on your cat/kitten (many people choose to so a bell can be added), ensure you get a collar that can has some sort of [emergency] release so the collar will break if it is stuck on something, and it won’t harm your pet. Bells on collars do reduce the success rate of hunts, however won’t ever completely prevent the occasional successful hunt.

At first it is wise to monitor your cat/kitten on their first adventure outside to ensure they don’t get into too much trouble, and so you’re on hand if they do! You may wish to firstly take your cat/kitten out on a harness and lead to let them get used to the smells and surroundings and layout of your garden in a controlled environment.

Whilst outside, sit and play and explore with your pet to allow them to get used to, and enjoy this new setting. Practise recall in the garden with your pet, being sure to reward, fuss and praise them when they come back when called.


Kitten exploring

Eventually allow your cat/kitten more time outside without you, until they want to venture out on their own.

As cats are nocturnal, they spend the nights active and hunting – to allow your pet outside of an evening/night it is advisable to get a cat flap. With a cat flap, you won’t have a restless cat that has been cooped up all night, and you won’t be disturbed by your pet asking to be let out. The best options are cat flaps that open via magnets (one in the flap and one on the collar of your cat(s)), or that open when registered microchips are within a certain proximity. These kinds of flaps ensure no cats that are not of your household can enter.

For any further advice or any questions on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact me via any of the methods below.


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Christmas Camel (Dromedary)

Yes it does seem like an odd title for a post – “hot” and “dry” and “sandy” are words that tend to come to [my] mind when thinking of camels; whereas “cold” and “frosty” and “snowy” are words that tend to come to [my] mind when thinking about Christmas… however there is logic!

Think of the school nativity play you played a role in (no matter how small) as a child – no room at the inn, Mary and Joseph in the stable, the birth of baby Jesus, and of course the visitors: the shepherds and their sheep, and the three wise men who rode in on their camels!

As Jesus was born in Bethlehem (a town south of Jerusalem), and lived in Nazareth (a city in north Jerusalem) – the camels the wise men rode in on were likely have been dromedary camels as they came from the East (and it took them about two years to get there, so they wouldn’t have actually visited Jesus in the stable).

Camels are even-toed insulated, with a hump or humps. Each hump is a mound of fat – stored up so that the animal does can go travel great distance without stopping to refuel! When the store has been used up the hump(s) will flop and become limp, until the animal has refuelled; the hump(s) will then return to their upright position

The dromedary or Arabian camel (scientifice name: Camelus dromedarius) is the one-humped camel; the smallest of the three remaining camel species. This species is found in the Middle-East and the Horn of Africa; likely the species the wise men travelled on. (The other camel species being the Bactrian.)

Standing between 1.7-2.0m tall and weighing 300-600kg the dromedary has a diet consisting of a range of desert vegetation; including thorny plants, dwarf shrubs, herbs, desert grasses, vines, and trees. They will graze for 8-12 hours each day.

A male camel is known as “bull”, a female is a “cow”, and the young as “a calf” or “calves”. After a 12-15 month gestation period the female will give birth in solitude, usually to a single calf, however on occasion may give birth to twins. The mother will then care for the young for up to two years.

Unfortunately, the dromedary has not naturally existed in the wild for a long time; thought to be around 2000 years. However there are feral camels of this species found, particularly in Australia (where they were introduced around 1840). But with breeding programmes around the world in animal collections, this species is still strong in number [for the time being].


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


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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.


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International Rabbit Day: 24 September 2017

Happy International Rabbit Day

Initially classified as Rodents but, in the early 20th Century, re-classified as Lagomorphs; rabbits in the wild exist on every continent except Asia and Antarctica, and domestically world-wide.

A male rabbit is known as a Buck and a female is known as a Doe. Baby rabbits are often mistakenly thought to be known as Bunnies, but a young rabbit is actually known as a Kit or a Kitten.

For more information about rabbits, check out another of my posts, Bunny Basics – http://alisanswers.com/index.php/2014/03/28/bunny-basics/ 

International Day of the Seal (22.03.17)

International Day of the Seal is a day to raise awareness of the cruel practise of seal hunting – it was declared a universal day by congress in 1982.

This day has, however, become an international day to recognise the plight of seals worldwide – not just those endangered from hunting, but those endangered by other causes too.

Harp seals are hunted in Canada in the largest marine mammal hunt in the world! This hunt is supposed to be of adult seals only (once all the white fluff is gone); however this is, unfortunately, not the reality – too often seal pups are killed, for their fluffy white pelt. This is a sport. There is no necessity for this brutality – there is a ban on selling the pelts, the seals are not hunted for meat, it is not a cull to control population… Around the world, many other seal species are also hunted for sport.

Other issue many seal species face include being hunted for meat/ blubber, being caught in fishing nets, pollution, destruction of habitat, and lack of food (often due to human greed).

In my opinion; we need to step up and start caring for animals – we are responsible for what we do to our planet, and the species we share it with. More and more species are becoming endangered and extinct; we need to change attitudes and protect animals.


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


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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.

 


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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.


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Want To Know More? Polar Bear

During this (supposedly) snowy season, I thought I’d do a post in relation to an animal that deals with frosty  conditions a lot chillier than we do! So here is some information you may not have known… about Polar bears!

Scientific name, Ursus maritimus, translates to ‘sea bear’. Polar bears are the world’s largest land-based carnivores; however most of their lives are spent around ice and (in) water. They’re at particular risk from their Arctic, icy habitat melting; without the ice there is nowhere for the bears.

Polar bears are listed as Threatened on the endangered species list; with a population of 22,000-31,000 in the wild.

Polar Bear

Polar bears live in five places across the world: Alaska (USA), Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Norway. Polar bears do not live in Antarctica, but Penguins do. Have you ever heard the joke: (Q) Why don’t Polar Bears eat penguins? (A) Because they can’t get the wrapper off (referring to the chocolate biscuit)! – Well know you know the real reason; they live nowhere near each other!

Adult Polar bears can measure over 6ft in length, and weigh over 800lbs. They are usually between 1.8-2m in height, with females being larger. The large size and weight is what makes this species the largest living carnivores on land! They live on average, approximately, 18 years – however in captivity have been known to live 30+ years.

These bears have thick, water resistant, insulating, white fur – however their skin underneath is black. The black skin helps to absorb and retain heat, to keep the animal warm. They have small ears and tail, and large, powerful paws equipped with razor-sharp claws. They have webbing in between their toes, to help them swim. Polare bears are amazing swimmers, and have even been spotted 100km away from shore!

Their nose has an incredible sense of smell, and these animals can smell prey from 15km away – and through the ice! Their prey; mainly seals. Polar bears have been known to resort to cannibalism if desperate enough.

Polar bears do not hibernate; however females will live in a den, burrowed under the snow, to gestate and give birth. During this time, the female will live off her fat reserves, and will not emerge again until the cubs are old enough. Polar bears typically give birth to two cubs; although they can have anywhere from one-three cubs at a time. Cubs stay with their mother for two years, learning from her, before venturing out on their own.

Young, Adult Polar Bear


All images are open source, Google images.


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