Category Archives: Mammals

Ethiopian Wolf (Canis simensis)

Ethiopian-wolf-hunting-prey

  • Name: Ethiopian wolf
  • Latin: Canis simensis
  • Classification: Mammal
  • Origin: Ethiopia, Africa
  • Lifespan: 8-10 years
  • AKA: Red fox, red jackal, simien fox

Taxonomy

Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrates)
Class: Mammalia (Mammals)
Order: Carnivora (Carnivores)
Family: Canidae (Dogs)
Genus: Canis (Wolves, Dogs and Jackals)
Species: Canis Simensis (Ethiopian Wolf)

Apperance

Length: Average of 3.3ft
Weight: 24-42lbs

The Ethiopian wolf is very fox-like in appearance with its long legs and muzzle more pointed that its European cousins. It has a reddish coat with white underside and a black tip to its tail. The colour of its fur often gets darker with age.

Relatives

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  • Grey wolf (Canis lupus) -LEAST CONCERN-
  • Red wolf (Canis rufus) -CRITICALLY ENDANGERED-
  • Maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) -NEAR THREATENED-
  • Himalayan wolf (Canis himalayaensis) -CRTICALLY ENDANGERED-

Habitat & Distribution

Packs of Ethiopian wolves tend to live in isolated pockets of alpine grassland and Heathland where there are plenty of rodents to feast on. They live at high altitudes of 3,000 meters above ground level in Ethiopia, Africa.

The rainfall at these high altitudes varies between 1-2m/year and have one pronounced dry seasons from December to February/March.

Map of distribution of the Ethiopian wolf
Map of distribution of the Ethiopian wolf

Diet

Ethiopian wolves are carnivores and their diet mainly consists of the rodents that are abundant in their homes. They will hunt and eat hares, giant mole rats and common grass rats. They have also been known to feed on eggs, goslings and young ungulates and will occasionally scavenge on carcasses.

They have strong social bonds but spend most of their day hunting alone. They hunt by sneaking up of their prey silently and pouncing when close enough.

Behaviour

Ethiopian wolves form strong social bonds with others in their pack but spend the majority of each day hunting individually for rodents. They are territorial candids that form territorial packs. The packs contain roughly 12 adults with a skewed mating ratio with several males for each female.

They congregate for social greetings and border patrols at dawn, noon and evenings and rest together at night. They use scent to mark their territories via urine posts, scratching and faeces. Vocalizations are also common in advertising and maintaining territories.

Aggressive interactions with neighbouring packs are common. These are always highly vocal and always end with the smaller pack fleeing from the larger.

Reproduction

Mating between Ethiopian wolves occurs between August and November. This includes a short courtship which involves the male accompanying the female wherever she goes. Females are receptive to all males including those outside the pack. Up to 70% of matings involve male from outside the pack.

The females give birth once a year between October and December. The pups are born with their eyes close, no teeth and a dark coat, the latter of which becomes lighter once they leave the den. This occurs about 3 weeks after birth. The pups are kept in a den dug by the female and are regularly shifted between dens to ensure their safety.

It is the responsibility of all members of the pack to help guard the den, chase away potential predators and bring hunted food to the pups. Subordinate females may assist the dominant female in suckling her pups. At least half of the extra nursing females show signs of pregnancy and may have lost or deserted their own offspring before joining the dominant females den.

Ethiopian wolf cubs
Ethiopian wolf cubs

Adaptations

  1. The Ethiopian wolf has a narrow, pointed muzzle, ideal for fitting into rat holes to catch their prey.
  2. The Ethiopian wolf has small, widely spaced teeth which helps it to hold on to small, wriggling animals.
  3. The Ethiopian wolf tends to hunt alone which matches the habits of its prey. A large pack is not required for taking down rodents and the wolf does not have to share his kill with others.
  4. The dark orange colouring of the Ethiopian wolf’s fur provides excellent camouflage for it, meaning it can sneak up on its prey undetected.

Threats

Ethiopian wolves are one of the most endangered species of canine with their worldwide population being less that 500 separated into only seven isolated populations. They live in packs in altitudes as high as 10,500 feet.

Their threats include destruction of habitat by human populations to make way for farmland, roads and areas for livestock grazing. This loss of habitat forces them closer to humans, which is the cause of another of their threats. Ethiopian wolves can catch disease from domestic dogs, such as rabies and sometimes canine distemper.

Another big killer of these wolves is the hunting and poisoning of them by human farmers. It is widely believed that they hunt and eat the farmer’s livestock. However, this belief is in fact false. Ethiopian wolves feed primarily on rodents, and hunt solitary. A singly wolf would not be able to take down an animal such as a cow or even a pig on its own.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Endangered

There is a huge organisation designed solely to protect the Ethiopian wolf called the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme (EWCP). It was founded in 1995 by Dr. Claudio Sillero. The strategies designed for the conservation of this wolf also protects the fragile afroalpine ecosystem of Ethiopia, Africa.

The EWCP protected the Ethiopian wolf by monitoring their numbers and where they live. It also vaccinates domestic dogs to reduce the spread of disease, provides a comprehensive education programme for local school children and employs local residents which raises the standards of living of the people of Ethiopia and in turn raises motivation to protect the wolf.

Fun Facts

Male: Brute
Female: Bitch
Young: Pup
Group: Pack

-Is an animal of many names including Abyssinian Fox, Red Fox, Red Jackal, Simien Fox and Simien Jackal.
-They are more closely related to wolves and coyotes than to the foxes they so closely resemble.
-They live in packs which involve about 3-13 individuals.
-One of the most endangered animals on the planet with less than 500 individuals.

Coyote (Canis latrans)

Adult-coyote

  • Name: Coyote
  • Latin: Canis latrans
  • Classification: Mammal
  • Origin: North America
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • AKA: American jackal, prairie wolf

Taxonomy

Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrates)
Class: Mammalia (Mammals)
Order: Carnivora (Carnivores)
Family: Canidae (Dogs)
Genus: Canis (Wolves, dogs and jackals)
Species: Canis Latrans (Coyote)

Apperance

Length: 30-34inches Tail: 12-16inches
Height: 23-26inches
Weight: 15-45lbs

The Coyote is grey-brown to yellow-grey in colour and have white throats and underbellies. They have reddish-brown feet, fore legs, heads and muzzles and their drooping, bush tails are tipped with black.

Their ears are large and pointed and their muzzles are long and slender. While running they carry their tails below the horizontal line of their backs, a trait that distinguishes them from dogs and wolves.

Relatives

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  • Grey wolf (Canis lupus) -LEAST CONCERN-
  • Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) -LEAST CONCERN-
  • Maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) -NEAR THREATENED-
  • Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) -LEAST CONCERN-

Habitat & Distribution

The coyote’s habitat can be anywhere. They can be found in forests, plains and even in deserts. As humans move into their homes they are forced to leave and set up residence elsewhere. However, they are extremely adaptable and can easily live anywhere.

The coyote can be found living in the middle of Alaska down towards Mexico. They also live in Canada and part of the United States of America.

Map of distribution of the coyote
Map of distribution of the coyote

Diet

Coyotes are opportunistic and can and will eat almost anything they come across. Their broad diet can include small mammals such as chipmunks, rabbits and squirrels, as well as birds, snakes, lizards, frogs and toads. They will also hunt and eat small dogs and cats and even larger domestic animals such as sheep and goats.

Coyotes will hunt day or night, alone or in packs. When hunting in packs they can take down large prey such as adult deer and elk. They have also been known to wander in to urban towns and rummage through rubbish bins for scraps.

Probably their most intriguing feeding behaviour is that where it teams up with American badgers to hunt for food. The coyote will use its excellent sense of smell to sniff out small rodents hiding underground; the badger will then use its powerful claws to dig them out. The two will then share their winnings.

Behaviour

Coyotes have been observed travelling in large groups but primarily hunt in pairs. A typical pack will consist of about 6 closely related adults and their young. Their social behaviour seems to be closer to dingo’s than of wolves, this is because they have an early expression to aggression and they reach full growth in one year, where wolves take two years to be fully grown.

They car capable of digging their own burrows but will sometimes take the abandoned home of groundhogs or American badgers. Their territorial range is about 19 kilometres in diameter around their den and travel occurs along fixed trails. They also seem to be better than dogs at observational learning.

Reproduction

Reproduction happens between late January and late March, when the female is in heat. She will stay in heat for 2-5 days. Once a female chooses a partner, the couple may remain monogamous for a number of years.

The gestation period lasts 60-63 days and the litter size ranges from 1-19 pups (the average is 6). The pups however, have a high mortality rate, with 50-70% not reaching adulthood.

The pups are approximately 250g at birth and are initially blind and limp eared. Their eyes open and their ears become erect after about 10 days. They emerge from their den 21-28 days after birth and are fully weaned after 35 days. Both parents will feed weaned pups with regurgitated food. Male pups will leave the den at 6-9 months, but females will stay with the pack for life.

Coyotes are full grown at 9-12 months and sexual maturity is reached at 12 months. Unlike wolves, mothering coyotes will tolerate other lactating females in the pack.

Young coyote cubs vocalising
Young coyote cubs vocalising

Adaptations

  1. The coyote can adjust its hunting style to suit the prey. If it is hunting small animals it will stalk and pounce, and if it is after something bigger, such as a deer, it will hunt in a pack.
  2. The scent of coyote urine is extremely strong and can scare away predators from its territory.
  3. The coyote has very thick coat over the most vulnerable parts of its body, such as the stomach and throat. This protects them from injury.
  4. The coyote has a very good sense of smell and uses this to track down its prey.

Threats

Coyotes have few predators, but the few they have include the mountain lion and the wolf. The pups are also preyed upon by large birds of prey (vulture) and also wolves. They are also shot by humans, mainly because they prove themselves to be a nuisance by going through rubbish bins and killing livestock. They are also shot for sport.

Another threat to coyote populations is their high mortality rate. 50-70% of pups will not reach adulthood.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Least Concern

There is no real need for conservation efforts for the coyote as their numbers are already high, and are kept high due to their amazing ability to adapt.

Humans also make sure their populations don’t dwindle because of their love for hunting and coyotes are a common target.

Fun Facts

Male: Yote
Female: Bitch
Young: Pup
Group: Pack, Band, Rout

Coyotes will follow circling birds, knowing they will lead them to dead meat.
In North American stories, Coyotes are clever and tricky.
They are North American fasted mammal, and can run at speeds of 65kpm.

Common Warthog (Phacochoerus africana)

Common-warthog-female-in-long-grass

  • Name: Common warthog
  • Latin: Phacochoerus africana
  • Classification: Mammal
  • Origin: Africa
  • Lifespan: Up to 15 years

Taxonomy

  • Kingdom: Animalia (animals)
  • Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)
  • Class: Mammalia (mammals)
  • Order: Artiodactyla (even-toed ungulates)
  • Family: Suidae (pigs)
  • Genus: Phacochoerus (warthogs)
  • Species: Phacochoerus africana (common warthog)

Apperance

  • Length: 9-1.5m (3.0-4.9ft)
  • Weight: F: 45-75kg (99-165lbs) M: 60-150kg (130-330lbs)

The warthog is covered with sparse hair which is usually brown or black in colouration. They have a large flat head with two warts and two pairs of tusks (present in both sexes). The upper pair curve upwards and over the snout, while the lower pair are shorter and are sharpened by rubbing against the upper pair every time the mouth is opened and closed. The warthog has a black mane that runs down the spine to the middle of the back and their long tails end with a tuft of hair. The species is slightly sexually dimorphic with the males being heavier than the females.

Relatives

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  • Pygmy hog (Porcula salvania) -CRTICIALLY ENDANGERED-
  • Bush pig (Potamochoerus larvatus) -LEAST CONCERN-
  • Red river hog (Potamocherus porcus) -LEAST CONCERN-
  • Sulawesi babirusa (Babyrousa celebensis) -VULNERABLE-

Habitat & Distribution

The common warthog is usually found in open and wooded savannas, grass steppes and semi-deserts throughout Africa. They prefer open areas and avoid rainforest and severe desert. The warthog has been found living at elevations of up to 3,000ft on Mt. Kilimanjaro and along the coastal regions of Africa. The common warthog lives outside forested areas in Africa, from Mauritania to Ethiopia and south to Namibia and eastern and south Africa.

Map of distribution of the common warthog
Map of distribution of the common warthog

Diet

The common warthog is the only pig species that has adapted to grazing in savanna habitats. They are omnivorous and eat grasses, roots, berries, bark, fungi, eggs and carrion. Their diet is seasonally variable depending on the availability of food items. During the wet season, they primarily graze on short grasses and during the dry, they eat mostly bulbs, rhizomes and nutritious roots.

When feeding, the warthog will often bend their front legs backwards and move around on their wrists, on which there are calloused pads formed during early development of the foetus. They will use their snout and tusks to dig up rhizomes and bulbs, these foods provide water during periods of drought. The common warthog will also eat their own dun and that of rhinos, African buffalo, waterbuck and francolin. This animal is very hardy and are able to survive long periods without water, as much as several months in one season.

Behaviour

Common warthogs are not territorial but do keep to their home ranges. Females will live in groups with their young and other females. The males will leave the natal group at around two years of age but will stay within the home range. Sub-adult males form bachelor groups, but become solitary when adults.

These animals have two facial glands, tusks and sebaceous. Both sexes will begin to mark at six to seven months of age. The male of the species tend to mark more often than females and will mark sleeping and feeding areas and around waterholes. The tusks are used for courtship, antagonistic behaviours and to establish status.

Primarily diurnal, the warthog will often take refuge at night in their own or abandoned aardvark burrows. They cope with the high afternoon temperatures by wallowing in mud or water and cope with the low temperatures of the night by sheltering in burrows and huddling together.

As a species, the common warthog has poor eyesight but keen hearing and smell. When alarmed, they run with their tails held upright as an alarm for others. During friendly encounters, they will rub their preorbital glands against each other.

Reproduction

Mating between common warthogs is seasonally dependant. Females will become fertile four to five months after the rainy season and will give birth in the dry season. They have a polygynandrous mating system, meaning that both sexes will have multiple mates. Males do not defend territories but ritualized fighting can occur between males over oestrous females, however, injuries and fatalities are rare. Males will employ one of two mating strategies during the breeding season. There is the ‘staying tactic’, where a male will stay and defend females or resources valuable to them, or there is the ‘roaming tactic’ where the male will seek out oestrous sows and compete for them. Adult males are normally solitary but will join female groups for mating.

Prior to giving birth, females will become solitary and will give birth in a burrow. This in important for regulating the body temperature of the piglets as they cannot do this themselves for the first few days of life. The common warthog has the longest gestation of all pigs and can range from 170-175 days. Litter sizes range from one to seven piglets but on average will have a litter of three. The young will spend six to seven weeks in the burrow before venturing out with their mother and are weaned at 21 weeks of age. When threatened, the piglets will run head first into their burrow with the mother following after them. She will then turn and block the entrance with her tusks pointing forward, protecting her offspring from predators.

The males will leave their mother at two years of age but will not usually mate until they are about four and the females will stay with their mother until they are sexually mature (around 18-20 months) but will often return to the natal group throughout their lives.

Common warthog female with young piglets
Common warthog female with young piglets

Adaptations

  1. Both sexes are armed with hard tusks on their faces. The males will use these as weapons when competing for females but are more commonly used by both males and females as tools for digging up roots and tubers from the earth.
  2. The ‘warts’ for which these animals are named are actually pockets of fat located on the face. These are used for protection from rival males and predators.
  3. Warthogs have developed hard calluses on their knees as a response to their feeding behaviour. They will kneel down and walk on their knees which makes digging for roots easier and they can also stand and run from predators quickly from this position.
  4. The characteristic behaviour of common warthogs is to run with their tail pointing straight up. This is thought to help other individuals see where it is running and to follow.

Threats

The common warthog are currently not undergoing any significant decline however they are very susceptible to periods of prolonged drought and are also hunted extensively by trophy hunters. They are also persecuted by farmers for crop damage which has resulted in them becoming extirpated from some regions. The common warthog is also unfortunate enough to have an extensive list of predators, including lions, leopards, cheetahs, eagles and crocodiles among others.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Least Concern

The common warthog is present in many protected areas across its range and is part of many respected zoological collections across the globe. To prevent its population falling into a significant decline, the trade in ivory and bushmeat needs to be monitors and additional data can be collected on their distribution and population trends.

The subspecies of the common warthog, Phacochoerus africanus aeliani is threatened however, and requires additional research and some suggest captive breeding programmes to increase the population of this rare pig.

Fun Facts

  • Male: Boar, Hog
  • Female: Gilt, Sow
  • Young: Piglet
  • Group: Sounder

-These are adaptable animals and are able to change their foraging times / patterns in accordance to predator attendance.

-The common warthog will often utilise abandoned aardvark burrows rather than dig their own.

-The common warthog is gregarious and will live in groups of up to 40 individuals.

References

Arkive (2014) Common warthog (Phacochoerus africana) [Online] Available at: http://www.arkive.org/common-warthog/phacochoerus-africanus/image-G65244.html [Accessed: 16 July 2014]

BBC Nature (2014) Warthog [Online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Warthog [Accessed: 16 July 2014]

Creel, E (2005) Phacochoerus africanus – common warthog [Online] Available at: http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Phacochoerus_africanus/#habitat [Accessed: 28 July 2014]

Denver Zoo (2008) Common Warthog – Phacochoerus africanus [pdf] Available at: http://www.denverzoo.org/downloads/dzoo_warthog.pdf [Accessed: 18 June 2015]

IUCN (2015) Phacochoerus africanus [Online] Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/41768/0 [Accessed: 18 June 2015]

National Geographic (2014) Warthog – Phacochoerus africanus [Online] Available at: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/warthog/ [Accessed: 28 July 2014]

San Diego Zoo (2015) Common Warthog (Phacochoerus africana) Fact Sheet 2015 [Online] Available at: http://ielc.libguides.com/content.php?pid=664508&sid=5503080 [Accessed: 18 June 2015]

WAZA (2014) Common warthog (Phacochoerus africana) [Online] Available at: http://www.waza.org/en/zoo/visit-the-zoo/pigs-and-peccaris/phacochoerus-africanus [Accessed: 16 July 2014]

Wild Pig Specialist Group (2014) Wild Pigs of the World [Online] Available at: https://sites.google.com/site/wildpigspecialistgroup/iucnssc-wild-pig-specialist-group/wild-pigs-of-the-world [Accessed: 16 July 2014]

Wikipedia (2014) Warthog [Online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warthog [Accessed: 16 July 2014]

Common Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

Young-bottlenose-dolphin-breaching

  • Name: Common bottlenose dolphin
  • Latin: Tursiops truncatus
  • Classification: Mammal
  • Origin: Temperate and tropical waters
  • Lifespan: 40-50 years

Taxonomy

  • Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
  • Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrates)
  • Class: Mammalia (Mammals)
  • Order: Cetacea (Cetaceans)
  • Family: Delphinidae (Oceanic Dolphins)
  • Genus: Tursiops (Bottlenose Dolphins)
  • Species: Tursiops truncatus (Common Bottlenose Dolphin)

Apperance

  • Length: 2-3.9m (6.6-12.8ft)
  • Weight: 150-200kg (331.5-442lbs)

The common bottlenose dolphin has a sleek, streamlined body with smooth skin which feels rubbery to the touch. The skin is hairless and has no sweat glands. The dolphins skin in 10-20 times thicker than that of terrestrial mammals and its cell turnover rate is nine times faster than a human (the outermost layer may be replaced every two hours), this is to ensure a smooth body surface. The skin colour is light-dark grey with white undersides.

The dolphin has pectoral (located on either side of the body), fluke (located at the end of the tail) and dorsal (located on the back) fins used for locomotion through the water. It has a rounded head (aka melon) with a long hard beak filled with conical, interlocking teeth. The animal is topped with a blowhole which is used for breathing, which is closed when relaxed and opens when muscles contract.

Relatives

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  • White beaked dolphin (Lagenomychus albirostris) -LEAST CONCERN-
  • Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) -LEAST CONCERN-
  • Baiji (Lipotes vexillifer) -CRTICIALLY ENDANGERED-
  • Dusky dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) -DATA DEFICIENT-

Habitat & Distribution

Bottlenose dolphins can be found living in temperate and tropical waters worldwide, keeping to temperatures of between 10-32’C (50-90’F). They have been found to be living in coastal waters and the open ocean.

In the Pacific Ocean they are found from Northern Japan to Australia and from Southern California to Chile. While in the Atlantic, populations of this dolphin live from Nova Scotia to Patagonia and from Norway to South Africa. They can also be found in the Mediterranean and Black seas.

Map of distribution of the common bottlenose dolphin
Map of distribution of the common bottlenose dolphin

Diet

The diet of the bottlenose dolphin mainly consists of bottom-dwelling fish but will also eat squid, shrimps and cephalopods.

Their hunting methods vary, as they will hunt either alone or in groups. Echolocation is used to detect prey. The dolphin can produce up to 1,000 clicking sounds in a second. These sounds waves hit objects and bounce back to the dolphin, telling it about its location, size and shape. Dolphins will also follow fishing boats and eat any leftover fish thrown overboard. The bottlenose dolphin has also been observed to follow sting rays, which by using electroreceptors on the undersides of their bodies, are able to locate squid and octopuses hiding in sea grass.

In Brazil, these dolphins have been observed hunting co-operatively with people. They will drive fish into the nets of the local fisherman, who then give a share to the dolphins. Dolphins living in shallow water have been observed to hunt by swimming in tight circles around a shoal of fish and beating their tail hard, stirring up the silt behind them. This circle of mushrooming silt acts as a net, trapping the fish. In a blind panic the fish jump to escape, right into the mouths of the dolphins.

Behaviour

Bottlenose dolphins are very social animals and will live in groups of a few individuals up to 100. They can also be found living in three distinct groups, nursery groups, juvenile groups and adult male groups. Members of pods will often form a hierarchy based on the age, size and gender of the individuals. Large adult males will always dominate a group; however, in the absence of males, the largest female will take charge of the pod.

These dolphins have also proven themselves to be incredibly intelligent in their ability to solve complex problems and with the speed and effectiveness by which they can perfect behaviours. They also have the capacity to rest one half of their brain at a time, allowing them to remain conscious enough to keep surfacing for air.

Bottlenose dolphins have also been known to display epimeletic behaviour, meaning they will care for another individual during time of need. They will protect injured members of their pod and help them to the surface for regular breathes. This behaviour is most commonly observed in mothers whose calves have died.

Reproduction

Bottlenose dolphins are polygamous and will engage in mating behaviour in one of two ways. Males can look for females that are oestrous and will then separate her from her home range for a chance to mate with her. The male will also flank her to restrict access by other males and ensure a higher possibility that her calf will be his. Males may take on this form of searching for a mate, as waiting for a female to become sexually receptive can take several weeks.

Alternatively, males will wait for an oestrus female to enter his home range. He will then preform courtship by arching his back, stroking and nuzzling the female, clapping his jaws and yelping. Copulation will then occur belly to belly.

Females reach sexual maturity between 5-10 years of age, males at 8-13. The reproductive seasons of bottlenose dolphins vary from region to region. The females will ovulate at certain times of the year while the males will remain sexually active throughout the year (with a testosterone peak when females ovulate).

Gestation will last for about 12 months with each pregnancy producing only a single calf. The calves are nursed on their mother’s milk and are weaned at 18-20 months of age. A female dolphin will reproduce every 3-6 years and calves can be born at any time of the year, although there is a peak in birth rates during the warmer months. Female dolphins can also reproduce well into their forties.

Common bottlenose dolphin calf
Common bottlenose dolphin calf

Adaptations

  1. A bottlenose dolphin has thick skin which stops its blubber flapping in the water and reduces drag.
  2. The bottlenose dolphin has a fusiform shape, meaning it is one smooth shape. This allows for a streamlined body and thus faster movement in the water.
  3. The dolphin has very efficient lungs and can exchange 80% of its air in each breath, whereas a human can only exchange 17% at a time. The bottlenose dolphin can hold its breath for up to 12 minutes at a time.
  4. The bottlenose dolphin has a higher metabolic rate than land mammals of a similar size. This increased metabolism is used as a form of thermoregulation and allows it to maintain a body temperature of 36-37’C (96.8-98.6’F), about the same as a human.

Threats

Bottlenose dolphins have several threats including human disturbance, entanglement in fishing nets, hunting, disease and predators. They are also directly harvested in Japan and Taiwan for use in aquariums and shows and many others are slaughtered for their meat, leather and oil.

They are also susceptible to many kinds of disease and illnesses including viral, bacterial and fungal infections, stomach ulcers, urogenital and respiratory disorders, heart and skin disease and parasites (tapeworm, fluke and roundworm).

Their predators include large shark species such as tiger, dusky and bull sharks. They are also very rarely predated upon by killer whales. These dolphins are also vulnerable to chemical and noise pollution, heavy boat traffic, habitat destruction and competition with fisheries.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Common bottlenose dolphins are listed under Appendix II of CITES (which prohibits all commercial trade) and Annex II and IV of the EC Habitats Directive. All cetaceans are listed on Annex A of the EU Council Regulation 3 38/97, in addition all UK cetaceans are fully protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.

All populations of bottlenose dolphins in the North and Baltic Sea, western Mediterranean and Black Sea are protected under Appendix II of the Convention of Migratory Species and Appendix II of the Bern Convention.

Fun Facts

  • Male: Bull
  • Female: Cow
  • Young: Calf
  • Group: Pod
  • Bottlenose dolphins can breech as high as 4.9m (16ft).
  • These animals can swim at speeds of up to 5-11kph (3-7mph).
  • One dive can last 8-10 minutes.
  • An adult eats about 4-5% of its body weight a day.

References

Bottlenose Dolphin [Online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bottlenose_dolphin [Accessed: 7 October 2013]

Bottlenose Dolphin: Habitat & Distribution [Online] Available at: http://www.seaworld.org/animal-info/info-books/bottlenose/habitat-&-distribution.htm [Accessed: 18 October 2013]

Bottlenose Dolphins: Adaptations for an Aquatic Environment [Online] Available at: http://www.seaworld.org/animal-info/info-books/bottlenose/adaptations.htm [Accessed: 20 October 2013]

Bottlenose Dolphins: Physical Characteristics [Online] Available at: http://www.seaworld.org/animal-info/info-books/bottlenose/physical-characteristics.htm [Accessed: 7 October 2013]

Bottlenose Dolphin: Tursiops truncatus [Online] Available at: http://animals.nationalgeographic.co.uk/animals/mammals/bottlenose-dolphin/ [Accessed: 19 October 2013]

Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) [Online] Available at: http://www.arkive.org/bottlenose-dolphin/tursiops-truncatus/ [Accessed: 19 October 2013]

Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) [Online] Available at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/cetaceans/bottlenosedolphin.htm [Accessed: 20 October 2013]

Common Bottlenose Dolphin [Online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Common_Bottlenose_Dolphin [Accessed: 7 October 2013]

Dolphin Species [Online] Available at: http://everythingdolphins.com/dolphin-species.html [Accessed: 7 October 2013]

Longevity and Causes of Death [Online] Available at: http://www.seaworld.org/infobooks/Bottlenose/deathdol.html [Accessed: 20 October 2013]

Tursiops truncatus: Bottlenose Dolphin [Online] Available at: http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Tursiops_truncatus/ [Accessed: 19 October 2013]

Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)

Black-rhinoceros-anterior-view

  • Name: Black rhinoceros
  • Latin: Diceros bicornis
  • Classification: Mammal
  • Origin: Africa
  • Lifespan: 35-50 years
  • AKA: Hook-lipped rhinoceros

Taxonomy

  • Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
  • Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrates)
  • Class: Mammalia (Mammals)
  • Order: Perissodactyla (Odd-toed Ungulates)
  • Family: Rhinocerotidae (Rhinos)
  • Genus: Diceros (Double Horned Rhinoceros)
  • Species: Diceros bicornis (Black Rhinoceros)

Apperance

  • Height: 132-180cm (52-71in)
  • Weight: 800-1,400kg (1,800-3,100lbs)

The black rhino is a large, grey coloured animal with thick overlapping skin. They are smaller in size than the other African rhino, the white rhino and have less of a pronounced hump on the back of their necks. They are hairless apart from the ears, tip of the tail and eyelashes. They are distinguished from white rhinos by their pointed upper lip which is used for browsing from trees and bushes.

The black rhinoceros has two horns on its face made of keratin. The front horn is larger than the other and grow as much as three inches (eight centimetres) in a year and can grow up to five feet (1 ½ meters) long. The black rhino is slightly sexually dimorphic with the males being fractionally larger than the females.

Relatives

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  • White rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) -NEAR THREATENED-
  • Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) -CRITICALLY ENDANGERED-
  • Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) -CRITICALLY ENDANGERED-
  • Greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) -VULNERABLE-

Habitat & Distribution

Black rhino can be mainly found living in grassland – forest transition zones but can range from the desert in south-western Africa to montane forests in Kenya. They often restrict their territories to areas within 25km of water sources and can also be found in mud or water wallows to cool themselves.

Historically, they could be found throughout sub-Saharan Africa with the exception of the Congo basin. However, in the 1970s-80s, a poaching epidemic caused numbers to decrease by 40-90%. Since 1981, the black rhino has disappeared from many areas of Africa including Ethiopia, Malawi, Sudan and Botswana.

Today, 98% of the total population of black rhino is found in just four African countries; South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya. 40% of the total wild population live in South Africa.

Map of distribution of the black rhinoceros
Map of distribution of the black rhinoceros

Diet

Unlike their cousins, the white rhino, black rhinos are browsers and eat leaves, twigs and branches. Consumption of long grass is usually very low, making up only 30-40% of their overall diet. If water is available, they will drink everyday however; they also handle drought conditions very well and can go up to five days without drinking so long as their food contains enough moisture. If only dry forage is available, they can be found within a day’s travel to a water source. They are also not effected by the poisonous tannins that can increase during a time of drought.

The black rhinoceros feeds mostly during the early morning and the evening and use their horns to dig up roots and break branches for easier access to their food. Like zebra and horses, the black rhinoceros is a hind gut fermenter and digests the high amount of cellulose it eats using bacterial fermentation.

Behaviour

The black rhinoceros is a usually solitary animal, only coming together to breed however, they have recently been observed coming together at night at water holes to form bonds. They are not very territorial and home ranges depend on the availability of food and water. These animals are also known to be aggressive and due to their poor eyesight, will charge at anything it deems a threat (they have been observed to charge at tree trunks and termite mounds). They will also fight each other and have the highest rate of mortal combat of any mammal.

Black rhino have a varied vocabulary of vocalisations including growling; trumpeting (when fighting), long snorts (anger) and sneeze like calls (indicate danger). When started by a newcomer, they wrinkle their nose, prick their ears and release short snorts. A high pitched honk indicates fearfulness and a puffing snort is a common greeting between males and females.

Reproduction

Males will begin courtship by following the female for 1-2 weeks and will accompany her even as she sleeps. Before mating occurs, the male will walk with a stiff legged manner and brush his horn along the ground in front of the female. Many mounting attempts are usually made by the male before he is successful however; if the female isn’t ready she will make a series of attacks and charges at the male. When copulation is eventually successful, it can last between 20-40 minutes.

Breeding can occur at any time of the year and gestation will last for around 15 months. The female will carry and give birth to one offspring at a time which will weigh around 20-25kg at birth. The young are weaned after 18 months but will remain dependant on their mother for up to four years. Females will reach sexual maturity at 5-7 years and males, 7-8 years.

Young black rhinoceros
Young black rhinoceros

Adaptations

  1. Black rhino have a pointed, prehensile lip which is used to pull branches and stems into its mouth for consumption.
  2. Black rhinos have a behavioural adaptation of wallowing in mud. This behaviour provides a natural sun block and bug repellent.
  3. Black rhino have two horns positions on the front of their face. These are used for fighting with rivals and breaking branches for easier access to food.
  4. Despite their large size, black rhino are very graceful on their feet and can run at speeds of up to 30mph.

Threats

Poaching is the biggest threat to black rhinos. Rhino horn is in high demand on the black market and is used in Traditional Asian Medicines as a cure for fever, also the poaching wave in the 1970’s and 80’s was to meet the demand in Yemen for ceremonial daggers made from rhino horn. Unfortunately, while the demand for rhino horn exists, there will be people willing to exploit it.

Black rhino are also affected by hunting. In the early 20th century, European settlers killed huge numbers of black rhino as vermin. They were also killed for food or sheer amusement and were common for five or six to be killed in a single day. As ever, habitat loss is also a threat.

In 1970, there were around 65,000 individual black rhinoceroses and by 1992 there remained only 2, 300. 96% of the total population of black rhino had disappeared during this time.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Critically Endangered

Several groups around the world are currently working towards the conservation of the black rhinoceros including the Zululand Wildlife Project, the AWF (African Wildlife Foundation), Save the Rhino and the International Rhino Foundation.

The WWF (World Wildlife Fund) is currently working to improve security monitoring o protect these rhinos against the threat of poaching, expanding existing protected areas and establishing new ones. The ZSL (Zoological Society of London) has been working with the KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) since 1993 and provides training and technical support for many conservation activities including wildlife monitoring, anti-poaching patrols, metapopulation management and habitat assessments.

The black rhinoceros was listed under Appendix I of CITES in 1977 which prohibits all international trade of black rhino and their products. In addition, many of the remaining black rhino population are concentrated in intensive protection zones, conservancies and fenced sanctuaries, also monitoring of wild populations can provide information to guide management of rhinos and increase their population growth.

Fun Facts

  • Male: Bull
  • Female: Cow
  • Young: Calf
  • Group: Crash, Herd, Stubbornness
  • Black rhino can develop a symbiotic relationship with oxpeckers (also known as tick birds) which sit on the animal and eat ticks and blood sores. They can even warn the rhino of danger.
  • Although a herbivorous animal, black rhino have no natural predators (except man).
  • Black rhino have very thick skin (up to 1.5cm thick) which can deter potential predators.

References

Black Rhino [Online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Black_Rhinoceros#intro [Accessed: 2 November 2013]

Black Rhinoceros [Online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_rhinoceros [Accessed: 2 November 2013]

Black Rhinoceros [Online] Available at: http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/rhinoceros/african_rhinos/black_rhinoceros/ [Accessed: 5 November 2013]

Black Rhinoceros [Online] Available at: http://www.planetwildlife.com/information/species/black-rhinoceros?section=behaviour [Accessed: 5 November 2013]

Black Rhinoceros [Online] Available at: http://www.oregonzoo.org/discover/animals/black-rhinoceros [Accessed: 8 November 2013]

Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) [Online] Available at: http://animals.nationalgeographic.co.uk/animals/mammals/black-rhinoceros/ [Accessed: 2 November 2013]

Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) [Online] Available at: http://www.arkive.org/black-rhinoceros/diceros-bicornis/ [Accessed: 8 November 2013]

Black Rhino, Diceros bicornis [Online] Available at: http://library.sandiegozoo.org/factsheets/black_rhino/black_rhino.htm [Accessed: 5 November 2013]

Black Rhino Information [Online] Available at: http://www.savetherhino.org/rhino_info/species_of_rhino/black_rhinos/black_rhino_factfile [Accessed: 2 November 2013]

Diceros bicornis [Online] Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/full/6557/0 [Accessed: 8 November 2013]

Diceros bicornis – black rhinoceros [Online] Available at: http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Diceros_bicornis/ [Accessed: 5 November 2013]

History and Threats of the Black Rhino [Online] Available at: http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/where_we_work/project/projects_in_depth/kwazulu/area/species/blackrhino_history.cfm [Accessed: 8 November 2013]

Rhino Species – Rhinocerotidae [Online] Available at: http://www.rhinoresourcecenter.com/species/ [Accessed: 2 November 2013]

Rhino Conservation in East Africa [Online] Available at: http://www.zsl.org/conservation/regions/africa/black-rhino/ [Accessed: 8 November 2013]

Rhino Population Figures [Online] Available at: http://www.savetherhino.org/rhino_info/rhino_population_figures [Accessed: 8 November 2013]

Species of Rhino [Online] Available at: http://www.savetherhino.org/rhino_info/species_of_rhino [Accessed: 2 November 2013]

Bald Uakari (Cacajao calvus)

Red-bald-headed-uakari-draped-over-branch

  • Name: Bald uakari
  • Latin: Cacajao calvus
  • Classification: Mammal
  • Origin: South America
  • Lifespan: 15-20 years

Taxonomy

Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrates)
Class: Mammalia (Mammals)
Order: Primates (Primates)
Family: Pitheciidae (New World Monkeys)
Genus: Cacajao (Uakaris)
Species: Cacajao Calvus (Bald Uakari)

Apperance

Length (body): 54-57cm
Length (tail): 14-18.5cm
Weight: (Male) 3.45kg (Female) 2.9kg

The bald uakari has a long shaggy coat which varies from reddish-brown to orange. It has a striking bald head and a bright red face, which is a sign of good health. Unlike other monkeys, the bald uakari has a very short tail. However, its long limbs are more than capable of swinging nimbly through the trees.

Relatives

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  • Atlantic titi (Callicebus personatus) -VULNERABLE-
  • Black-headed uakari (Cacajao melanocephalus) -LEAST CONCERN-
  • White-nosed saki (Chiropotes albinasus) -ENDANGERED-
  • Monk saki (Pithecia monachus) -LEAST CONCERN-

Habitat & Distribution

Bald uakaris live only along the Amazon River basin in South America. They prefer to live in permanently or seasonally flooded rainforest and locations near water sources, such as small rivers and lakes.

Map of distribution of the bald uakari
Map of distribution of the bald uakari

Diet

The diet of the bald uakari consists mostly of seeds, flowers and even some small animals. Its diet is determined by season. In the rainy season, it stays in the treetops and feeds on fruits, but in the dry season it ventures to the forest floor to forage for seedlings.

Behaviour

Bald uakaris live in groups containing males and females, and its size usually ranges between 10-20 members. However, troops containing over 100 individuals have been recorded. These monkeys have been known to socialise with other similar primates, such as squirrel monkeys and will forage for food together. The bald uakari is diurnal, meaning it is active during the day and sleeps during the night.

Reproduction

A female bald uakari will be able to produce a single young once every 2 years. It has no specific breeding season and pregnancy will normally last around 182 days. The young are nursed for 3-5 months then they can begin to eat soft fruits. Females are sexually mature at 3 years old, males at 6 years.

Bald uakari juvenile
Bald uakari juvenile

Adaptations

  1. The bald uakari’s main characteristic is its red face. A female will only pick a male to mate with if it has a very red face as it is a sign of good health.
  2. Like most monkeys, the bald Uakari has long limbs which help it to be swift and nimble when moving through the tree tops.
  3. This monkey has long brown fur which keeps it warm during the cold forest nights in the trees.
  4. The bald Uakari has sharp incisors and canines which help it to break into nut and fruit shells.

Threats

The bald uakari is rarely hunted because its appearance is said to be too human-like. The main threat to their survival is the loss of its flooded forest habitat. The deforestation of its habitat is down to small scale agricultural activity in the area and logging.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Vulnerable

The bald uakari is protected by CITES Appendix I, the Primate Protection Centre (PPC), the Pitheciine Action Group (PAG) and the Peruvian government which prohibits hunting, capturing, owning, transporting and exportation of this animal for commercial purposes.

It is also protected by the following actions:
Land/water management,
Site/area management,
Species management,
Harvest management,

Fun Facts

Male: Male Monkey
Female: Female Monkey
Young: Infant
Group: Troop

-Red faces are a symbol of good health,
-Females are bigger than males,
-Forms large social group of up to 100 individuals,
-Diurnal (awake at day, sleep at night),

Asian Golden Cat (Catopuma temminckii)

asiatic-golden-cat-portrait

  • Name: Asian golden cat
  • Latin: Catopuma temminckii
  • Classification: Mammal
  • Origin: Asia
  • Lifespan: Up to 18 years
  • AKA: Asiatic golden cat, Temminck’s golden cat

Taxonomy

  • Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
  • Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrates)
  • Class: Mammalia (Mammals)
  • Order: Carnivora (Carnivores)
  • Family: Felidae (Cats)
  • Genus: Catopuma (Asian cats)
  • Species: Catopuma temminckii (Asian golden cat)

Apperance

Length: Body: 66-105cm (36-41in) Tail: 40-57cm (16-22in)
Weight: 6-15kgs (13.2-33lbs)

The Asian golden cat is a medium-sized, well-proportioned cat which is generally twice the size of a regular house cat. It has short round ears with a deep golden coat which fades to white on its undersides. Faint brown spotting is also evident on this cat. They have distinctive grey patches behind each ear and a white line, boarded in black runs from each eye to the top of its head.

Relatives

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  • Snow leopard (Panthera unica) -ENDANGERED-
  • Cheetah (Acinonyx jabatus) -VULNERABLE-
  • Lion (Panthera leo) -VULNERABLE-
  • Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) -VULNERABLE-

Habitat & Distribution

The Asian golden cat is generally found in dense tropical and sub-tropical forests. In the Himalayas, they can be found in altitudes of up to 10,000 feet.

These cat can be found from Tibet (China), Nepal and Sikkim (India) through southern China, Myanmar, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra (Indonesia). Areas of good habitat still exist in Bhutan, parts of north-eastern India and China though it is thought to be uncommon in these areas.

Map of distribution of the Asian golden cat
Map of distribution of the Asian golden cat

Diet

The primary prey of the Asian golden cat is small to medium sized animals, including tree hyraxes, large and small rodents, small antelopes and birds. Fallen, injured monkeys and scavenged eagle kills are also an important part of their diet. They are mainly nocturnal and crepuscular and hunt using the stalk and rush method.

Behaviour

Not much is known about the behaviour of the Asian golden cat because of it elusiveness and what is known has been observed from cats in captivity. They have a wide range of vocalizations including hissing, spitting, meowing, purring, growling and gurgling. Other methods if communication include scent marking, urine spraying, raking trees and logs with their claws and rubbing their heads against various objects, much like that of a domestic house cat. They are a territorial and solitary species who prefer to be on the ground, although they are capable of climbing trees if necessary.

Reproduction

After a gestation of approximately 80 days, the female Asian golden cats will give birth to a litter of 1-3 kittens, with 1 being the average. The new-borns weigh approximately 8.75 ounces at birth, their eyes open after 9 days and are weaned at around 6 months. The females reach sexual maturity at 18-24 months and the males at 2 years.

asian-golden-cat-cub
Asian golden cat kitten

Adaptations

  1. The Asian golden cat has a dark brown coloured coat which helps it to blend in with its surroundings and remain undetected by its prey.
  2. Like a lot of cats, the Asian golden cat uses scent marking to establish a territory. It does this through urine spraying and clawing on trees and logs.
  3. The Asian golden cat also has very powerful muscles and can take down prey much larger than itself, such as water buffalo calves.
  4. The Asian golden cat has very powerful claws which it uses to help it climb into trees and bring down its prey.

Threats

The main threat to the survival of the Asian golden cat is deforestation but it is also hunted for its pelt and bones. Its meat is considered a delicacy and often the whole animal is roasted on a spit. The bones are ground into powder and then given to children as a medication for fever. They are also persecuted by livestock farmers.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Vulnerable

In their native countries, Asian wild cats are protected by nature reserves and wildlife parks, which protects them from poachers. Also, 8 European zoos are participating in the European Endangered Species Programme which is working to increase their numbers, although there are only 20 individuals produced by this programme since December 2008. The Asian golden cat is also bred in many other zoos around the world.

Fun Facts

Male: Tom, Gib
Female: Molly, Queen
Young: Kitten
Group: Clowder

-According to regional legend, burning the fur, eating the flesh or carrying a single hair of the Asian golden cat will drive tigers away.
-Believed by the locals to be fierce but is actually docile and tranquil.

Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus)

arctic-fox-portrait-winter-coat

  • Name: Arctic fox
  • Latin: Alopex lagopus
  • Classification: Mammal
  • Origin: Arctic Tundra
  • Lifespan: Up to 3 years
  • AKA: Polar fox, Snow fox, White fox

Taxonomy

  • Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
  • Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrates)
  • Class: Mammalia (Mammals)
  • Order: Carnivora (Carnivores)
  • Family: Canidae (Canines)
  • Genus: Vulpes (True foxes)
  • Species: Vulpes (alopex) lagopus (Arctic fox)

Appearance

Length: 46-68cm (tail – 35cm)
Weight: 3-8kg

The arctic fox has a fluffy, thick coat which provides excellent insulation against the harsh cold of the arctic. They have small ears, fur covered feet and a small muzzle, which combined gives this canine a cat-like appearance.

Arctic foxes can shed their coats according to season. In the winter, their coat is a creamy colour with white markings. In the summer, their coat changes colour to greenish-yellow.

Winter coat
Winter coat
Summer coat
Summer coat

Relatives

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  • Grey Zorro (Lycalopex griseus) -LEAST CONCERN-
  • Swift Fox (Vulpes velox) -LEAST CONCERN-
  • Bengal Fox (Vulpes bengalensis) -LEAST CONCERN-
  • Bat-Eared Fox (Octocyon megalotis) -LEAST CONCERN-

Habitat & Distribution

Arctic foxes are specialised to be able to live and survive in the planets northern extremes. Their fur provides excellent insulation against the Polar Regions icy wastes. The only vegetation that grows here is a specialised, cold-loving algae that grows on the surface of the snow.

Arctic foxes are mostly found throughout the Arctic circle, along the coasts of North America, Europe and Asia. They have also been found in the Arctic archipelago up to Ellesmere Island, the coasts of Greenland and throughout Iceland. Also, an isolated population has also been discovered living in Mongolia.

Map of distribution of the Arctic fox
Map of distribution of the Arctic fox

Diet

Arctic foxes are able to eat almost any meat available to them, but their prey primarily consists of lemmings and voles. However, they will also eat arctic ground squirrels, hares, seal pups, birds (ptarmigan), eggs, fish, crustaceans and molluscs.

When hunting, the arctic fox can hear prey hiding up to 1.5 meters below the ice and is able to claw through it to get to its prey. They will exploit any source of carrion and its keen nose can detect a carcass from up to 50km away.

Arctic foxes are opportunistic scavengers and packs of them will often follow polar bears hoping to feed off scrapes of their kills. Like most arctic creatures, they show no fear of man and will regularly eat human refuse. Their populations can bloom in the presence of garbage dumps.

Behaviour

Arctic foxes do not maintain complex social groups and prefer to stay in their monogamous pairs. Due to the extreme weather conditions and low food resources of the harsh arctic, the offspring leave their mothers at a young age. Arctic fox pairs will stay together for life or until one of them dies. These creatures communicate with each other by barking.

Reproduction

Arctic foxes are monogamous and usually mate once a year, although in times of abundance may mate a second time. They are often found in small family groups consisting of one male, two females and the years littler. One of the females is quite often a daughter of the mother from the previous year who stays behind to care for the new cubs before moving on.

The mating season is between February and May with the cubs being born between April and July. The average gestation period for this species is 52 days and the average litter size is between 6 and 12. The cub weighs just 57 grams at birth. The young reach independence at 9 months and are sexually mature at 10 months to a year of age.

Arctic fox cub
Arctic fox cub

Adaptations

  1. The arctic fox has small, rounded, furry ears which helps to reduce heat loss and conserve body heat.
  2. The coat of the arctic fox will change colour and become thinner during the summer months. This lets the fox blend in during the summer months and will not allow the fox to overheat in the hotter days.
  3. The arctic fox has a very high breeding rate in spite of its short lifespan. A female can give birth to up to 25 cubs a year.
  4. Like most mammals that live in the same extreme environment, the arctic fox has thickly haired footpads. This helps to reduce heat loss through the feet and acts as snowshoes to stop it sinking into the snow.

Threats

The biggest threat to arctic foxes is climate change. These animals rely on the frozen seas to survive the harsh winters of the arctic tundra. They live on the icy sea and survive by eating seal carcasses left by polar bears. There are fewer predators and food is easier to find on the ice covered sea. The arctic foxes aren’t able to survive the winter because the ice is melting sooner than usual, leaving them without protection and a source of food.

The other threat to them is hunting, mainly for the fur trade and for game. However, the number of arctic foxes killed for their fur has declined due to the illegalisation of the fur trade.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Least Concern

The arctic foxes are currently being protected by two organisations. One is known as the Polar Conservation Organisation (PCO) which aims to protect and conserve all polar animals. It tries to do this by raising public awareness and funding projects that help these creatures.

They are also protected by SEFALO, which is a joint project between Sweden, Finland and Norway (first set up in 2007). It tracks arctic foxes by applying tracking collars to a number of individuals. It hopes to gain more understanding about their population and behavioural patterns. They also supply feeding supplements to help reduce the mortality rate of these creatures.

Fun Facts

Male: Dog, Regnard, Tod
Female: Vixen
Young: Kit, Cub, Pup
Group: Skulk, Leash

-Can run at speeds of up to 30mph.
-Have been known to skid over ice to get somewhere quickly.
-Has the warmest fur of its kind.
-Only member of the dog family able to change the colour of its fur.
-Shed their fur twice a year.

Amazonian Manatee (Trichechus inunguis)

Captive-Amazonian-manatee-showing-ventral-patterns

  • Name: Amazonian manatee
  • Latin: Trichechus inunguis
  • Classification: Mammal
  • Origin: South America
  • Lifespan: 50-60 years
  • AKA: South American manatee, yara

Taxonomy

  • Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
  • Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrates)
  • Class: Mammalia (Mammals)
  • Order: Sirenia (Fully aquatic, herbivorous mammals)
  • Family: Trichechidae (Sea cows)
  • Genus: Trichechus (Manatee)
  • Species: Trichechus inunguis (Amazonian manatee)

Appearance

Length: 2-8m (9.2ft)
Weight: 360-540kg (790-1,200lbs)

The manatee is a large, cylinder shaped animal where the general coloration is grey, although most Amazonian manatees have a distinct white or bright pink patch on the chest. The forelimbs have been modified into flippers and have a flat, rounded, horizontal paddle at the rear. The upper lip has evolved into a large, bristly surface.

Relatives

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  • West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) -VULNERABLE-
  • West African manatee (Trichechus senegalensis) -VULNERABLE-
  • Dwarf manatee (Trichechus pygmaeus) -NOT RECOGNISED-

Habitat & Distribution

The Amazonian manatee occurs exclusively in freshwater and is the only manatee to do so. It prefers blackwater lakes, oxbows and lagoons. They seem to live most successfully in temperatures of 22-30’C (72-86’F).

The Amazonian manatees range is throughout the Amazon River Basin of South America, its range is also said to include the Orinoco River Basin.

map
Map of distribution of the Amazonian manatee

Diet

Manatees are primarily herbivores and feed on a variety of submerged, emergent, floating and shoreline vegetation and they will consume about 4-9% of their body weight in wet vegetation every day. Amazonian manatees fast during the dry season (November and December) and live off their fat reserves, also, because of their low metabolic rate; Amazonian manatees can fast for up to seven months if necessary.

Manatees can feed off the bottom, in the water column and at the surface. They can crop overhanging branches, consume acorns and partially haul themselves out of the water to eat bank vegetation, such as the leaves of mangrove trees. Manatees use their front flippers to manipulate this vegetation.

All manatees require a source of fresh water for drinking. Manatees have been seen drinking from hoses and sewage outlets and will congregate at river mouths to drink. Amazonian manatees do not have this problem as they live in fresh water lakes and rivers.

Behaviour

Amazonian manatees live almost entirely underwater and are active both day and night. They are gregarious and can be found in small groups of 8-10 individuals. They are herbivorous, aquatic mammals and their diet consists of aquatic vegetation such as emergent grass, water lettuce and floating vegetation, which grows near lake edges. These animals can consume up to 8% of their body weight in food every day.

Reproduction

The gestation period of an Amazonian manatee is one year. Breeding has been reported to occur throughout the year but reproduction in the Central Amazon Basin is seasonal as nearly all births take place from December – July (mainly from February – May when the water level rises).
A female manatee will give birth to one calf every two years. The calf will measure about 30 inches (80 cm) at birth. It will begin to nurse after a few hours by suckling from a teat under the pectoral flippers and will do so underwater.

The young will be weaned after a year but will remain with their mothers for two. The young learn about feeding and resting areas from their mother, as well as travel routes and warm-water refugees. The female manatees will carry their young on their back or clasped onto their sides.

Adaptations

  1. The manatee has muscular lips which it uses with its front flippers to grab food and pull it into its mouth.
  2. The Amazonian manatee has a large paddle like tail which helps propel it through the water. It moves at 5mph but can reach speeds of up to 15mph.
  3. The manatee has thick stubby bristles on this mouth. This helps it to uproot foot on the river bed.
  4. The manatees body is streamlined which helps reduce drag when travelling through the water.

Threats

The Amazonian manatee’s main threat is hunting by subsistence and commercial hunters. They have been sought for their meat, oil and fat, and in the past, its hide, which could be used for water hoses and belts. Other threats to this creature include accidental drowning in commercial fishing nets and degradation of food supplies by soil erosion, which is caused by deforestation.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Vulnerable

International trade of the Amazonian manatee and any of its products is prohibited under Appendix I of CITES. Other local projects and organizations helping to conserve the manatee include Projeto Peixe-Boi / Centre for Aquatic Mammals, Mamiraua Project and The Friends of the Manatee Association. Amazonian manatee hunting has been prohibited since 1973; however, its population trend is still decreasing.

Fun Facts

Male: Bull
Female: Cow
Young: Calf
Group: Herd, Pod

-Manatees are closely related to elephants,
-Another name for the Amazonian manatee is Yara, which is a Brazilian Indian word meaning ‘Lady of the Water’.
-Manatees are believed to be the origin of the mermaid myths.

Fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox)

Adult male fossa prowling on deciduous forest floor

(http://www.arkive.org/fossa/cryptoprocta-ferox/)

  • Name: Fossa
  • Latin: Cryptoprocta ferox
  • Classification: Mammal
  • Origin: Madagascar
  • Lifespan: 15 years

Taxonomy

  • Kingdom: Animalia (animals)
  • Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)
  • Class: Mammalia (mammals)
  • Order: Carnivora (carnivores)
  • Family: Eupleridae (carnivores native to Madagascar)
  • Genus: Cryptoprocta (fossa)
  • Species: Cryptoprocta ferox (fossa)

Apperance

  • Length: 610-800mm (tail: 610-800mm)
  • Weight: 7-12kg

The fossa is the largest land predator on the island of Madagascar. It has short and dense red to bark brown fur and has a cat-like head with a dog-like snout. Its tail it around the same length as its body and the fossa uses it for balance when in the trees. It has large, forward-facing eyes, small, rounded ears and has a number of feline features including curved, retractable claws and slightly webbed feet. The fossa has only slight sexual dimorphism with the females being slightly smaller than the males.

Relatives

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  • Eastern falanouc (Eupleres gouclotii) -NEAR THREATENED-
  • Giant fossa (Cryptoprocta spelea) -EXTINCT-
  • Narrow-striped mongoose (Mungotictis decemlineata) -VULNERABLE-
  • Ring-tailed mongoose (Galidia elegans) -LEAST CONCERN-

Habitat & Distribution

Like many of the living species found in Madagascar, the fossa is found nowhere else on earth. They prefer to inhabit the dense forested areas because of the ample food supply and also because there is enough space to establish a territory.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossa_%28animal%29)

Diet

The diet of the fossa is strictly carnivorous with over half of its diet being lemurs, which it catches and consumes in the branches of trees. It will also eat however, birds, baby bush pigs, civet cats, fish, rats, eggs, snakes, frogs and insects. Occasionally, it will raid domestic farmland and steal chickens and small sheep and goats.

Behaviour

The fossa uses its large tail to manoeuvre through the trees of Madagascar quickly and can be active during the day or night. They tend to be solitary unless mating and prefer to live in dens or holes. Their anal glands secrete a very powerful and unpleasant odour which is used to establish territories. It lives at low population densities and requires undisturbed forests.

Reproduction

Mating occurs between September and December. A female will establish a breeding ground and can attract up to 8 males who will compete for her attention using vocalizations. The female will then chose a male to mate with.

Mating can last up to three hours. The reason it is such a lengthy process is because of the physical nature of the male’s penis, which has backwards facing spines along its length. The male will remain with the female for up to an hour after mating. After, the female will leave to be replaced by another.

A mother fossa will have a litter of up to six cubs in a concealed location such as an underground den or a rock crevice. Gestation can last up to 90 days with the young being born in December to January. The new-borns are born blind and toothless and weigh no more than 100g (3.5oz) and the fur is thin and grey-brown. After two weeks, the eyes open, they become more active and their fur darkens to a pearl grey. They take solid food at three months and leave the den at four and a half months and are weaned shortly after. The cubs are independent of their mother after a year and their permanent teeth show at 18-20 months. They reach physical maturity at two years and sexual maturity at three to four years.

Young fossa

(http://www.arkive.org/fossa/cryptoprocta-ferox/image-G124589.html)

Adaptations

  • The red to dark brown colouring of the fossas coat provides excellent camouflage when hunting lemurs through the tree tops.
  • Not only can the fossa climb trees quickly but they are also able to descend from then head first. This can be accomplished because they have very flexible ankles, which can twist almost completely around.
  • The fossa tail is about the same length as its body. This provides excellent balance when climbing through the tree tops. The fossa can keep balance on the thinnest of branches.
  • The fossa can produce a very powerful and unpleasant odour from its anal glands. This is used to establish territories and breeding grounds.

Threats

There are fewer than 2,500 individuals left on Madagascar and only 10-15% of their country remains wild, the majority of which has been lost in the last 50 years. Their biggest threat is habitat loss, usually for logging and for clearance for farmland. Also, as their home become increasingly smaller, they are forced into human settlements and occasionally steal chickens and small sheep. For this they are killed by farmers. They also have a possible threat from bush meat hunters.

Conservation

  • IUCN Status: Vulnerable

The fossa is listed on Appendix II of CITIES and is present in many protected areas throughout Madagascar such as Kirindy Forest and Ranomofana National Parks. They have been part of successful ex-situ captive breeding programmes since 1994 and there are around 70 individuals in zoos, mainly in Europe and North America.

Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and from Duke University are studying the fossa and the competitive threat posed by the Indian civet and introduced wild cats. They are also working to raise awareness among the people of Madagascar of the role the fossa plays in pest control and are training local people to study and conserve this animal.

Fun Facts

  • Male: Male
  • Female: Female
  • Young: Pup
  • Group: Troop
  • The fossa is the largest carnivore in Madagascar.
  • Have retractable claws like a cat.
  • Can descend from trees head first.