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The Endangered Unknown: Vaquita

By Peter Kleinhenz
November 28, 2011
File under: Animal Protection, Endangered Species, Habitat Loss, Species Profiles, Wildlife

In 2006, one of the most remarkable creatures on the planet ceased to exist for the rest of eternity. The Yangtze River Dolphin holds the distinction of being the first cetacean (think whales and dolphins) species to be driven to extinction in recent years. Sadly, that distinction may soon be held by another species, the Vaquita.

The Vaquita, Phocoena sinus, is a porpoise native only to a small area in the northern part of the Gulf of California. This species typically lives close to shore in water that is less than 120 feet deep where it hunts fish, squid, and crabs. The Vaquita is the smallest cetacean in the world, reaching a maximum size of about five feet long.

Vaquitas don’t have beaks like many porpoises and dolphins and can be distinguished by the black rings around their eyes and black-lipped mouth. Little is known about the daily lives of this species given their secretive nature, but researchers believe …read more of The Endangered Unknown: Vaquita here

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The Endangered Unknown: The Orange-bellied Parrot

By Peter Kleinhenz
September 26, 2011
File under: Birds, Endangered Species, Species Profiles

Some animals, it seems, got the wrong end of the deal when it comes to having a simple life. Twice every year, a bird that isn’t a great deal larger than your hand flies all the way from southwest Tasmania to the southern coast of Victoria.

The brilliantly-plumaged Orange-bellied Parrot, Neophema chryogaster, is just one example from a group of animals that is known for its awe-inspiring global trips. Most birds, however, are not in the perilous state that Orange-bellied Parrots are in.

One hundred years ago, Orange-bellied Parrots were far more common than they are today. …read more of The Endangered Unknown: The Orange-bellied Parrot here

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Kids Connect! Wild Meows

By Christine DePetrillo
September 20, 2011
File under: Children, Education, Endangered Species, Research, Wildlife

How many of you love cats? I do. I have two, a black one and a striped one, and they are so much fun to play with and watch. Many of the behaviors they engage in are exactly the same as our planet’s BIG cats, such as lions and tigers. Unfortunately, unlike domestic cats that we keep as pets, wild cat numbers are decreasing.

Let’s take a look at the four big cats.


Wild lions currently exist in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia. …read more of Kids Connect! Wild Meows here

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In The Tree

By Corinne Kendall
September 19, 2011
File under: Animal Behavior, Animal Stories, Endangered Species

Carcasses can be found almost everywhere. Over the course of the migration, thousands will be found in the river. Lions and hyenas often enjoy dragging their kills into the darkest recesses of the bush but more often then not, carcasses are lying out in the open plains just waiting for the vultures to find them.

On rare occasions, dead animals can get dragged into trees. In my first year, I had the pleasure of watching two White-headed vultures feed on a treed Thompson gazelle carcass before being pushed off by some tourists who seemed more interested in the carcass than the birds. …read more of In The Tree here

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The Endangered Unknown – Asiatic Cheetah

By Peter Kleinhenz
September 14, 2011
File under: Animal Stories, Conservation, Endangered Species

Painting by George Stubbs

The fastest land animal is also fast in another category: going extinct. The Asiatic Cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus venaticus, once prowled the deserts and dry grasslands of the Caucasus region of central Asia to the Indian subcontinent, but now survives only in Iran, where it still hunts gazelle in the Kavir desert.

Reports from Pakistan have trickled in over the years, claiming that a few cheetahs are still eking out an existence there, but this has yet to be confirmed by the scientific community. Either way, researchers agree that there seem to be less than 100 Asiatic Cheetahs remaining on the planet. …read more of The Endangered Unknown – Asiatic Cheetah here

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By Corinne Kendall
August 17, 2011
File under: Conservation, Endangered Species, Wildlife

The focus in the Mara is generally on the carnivores (and in my case the vultures), but there are so many other fascinating little creatures to behold in this amazing savannah. Banded and dwarf mongoose are common and I often stop to watch the antics of these social little creatures.

Most recently I even saw a small group of banded mongoose at the crossing, darting among the vultures and Marabou storks in search of some wildebeest meat. Then while over in Musiara marsh I had some great views of this dwarf mongoose. The tiny creature wandered around in search of its small insect prey only to find a nice hollow tree to scavenge through. …read more of Anecdotes here

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Super Mom

By Corinne Kendall
August 4, 2011
File under: Animal Sightings, Conservation, Endangered Species, Wildlife

Carnivores have it easier in the Mara, especially this time of year when the park is filled with wildebeest. As I drive around searching for carcasses, the number of lion, leopard, and cheetah kills has been staggering (though the number of vultures at these carcasses is usually minimal). Thus it shouldn’t be too surprising that some carnivore moms are atypically successful.

For no animal could this be more true than the cheetah I saw today. We drove up to see just one cheetah sitting in the short grass under the shade of a small Orange Leaf Blossom bush. She didn’t have a kill and I was just about to head out when I realized there were many more spots in the bushes. …read more of Super Mom here

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It’s Vulture Time!

By Lucy Dimitrova
July 19, 2011
File under: Birds, Endangered Species, Wildlife

Egyptian Vulture © BSPB

Like my fellow blogger and wildlife enthusiast Corinne Kendall already explained a while ago (well done Corinne, you rock!), vultures play a vital role for the environment despite being among the most misunderstood creatures of all time. That misunderstanding is, just for me, a very odd phenomena.

How could anyone not like these magnificent birds? Who would not appreciate seeing them proudly  soaring in the skies of Europe, Africa and Asia? Maybe the ones, who never had the great chance to see something so amazing – a once in a lifetime experience. …read more of It’s Vulture Time! here

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The Endangered Unknown: Chinese Giant Salamander

By Peter Kleinhenz
July 17, 2011
File under: Amphibians, Endangered Species, Wildlife


For a crayfish inhabiting rocky, high-altitude streams in China, there is nothing more terrifying than the Chinese Giant Salamander, Andrias davidianus. These prehistoric beasts seem to come right out of the Mesozoic Era, yet they are still top predators today.

Growing over five feet long, these massive creatures are the largest amphibians on Earth and only their close relative, the Japanese Giant Salamander, even remotely approaches them in size. Crayfish, small fish, and frogs comprise their diet and these large amphibians need abundant food resources to maintain their incredible growth rates.

The poor eyesight these animals possess might seem to make hunting impossible in rushing currents, but sensory organs running the length of the salamander’s body allow it to find prey in even the most adverse conditions. There are many predators of young Chinese Giant Salamanders in their native habitat …read more of The Endangered Unknown: Chinese Giant Salamander here

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Shop so Orangutans don’t Drop

By Laurel Neme
July 14, 2011
File under: Animal Protection, Education, Endangered Species, Wildlife

Young orangutan. Photo credit: Rhett Butler,

Next time you shop, consider orangutans. While U.S. grocery stores may be physically far from the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia, where these endangered primates live, the impact of supermarkets on orangutan survival is not so distant.

About one in every ten products on your grocery store shelves contain palm oil. The problem is that unsustainable production, meaning “palm oil that’s developed at the expense of the remaining habitat of orangutans, is the single greatest threat to the survival of the species,” says Michelle Desilets, Executive Director of the Orangutan Land Trus

Palm oil is a key component in thousands of common household items, including cosmetics, processed food products like cookies and crackers, dairy products, soap and biofuels. It is widely used because its shelf life is longer than other vegetable oils and it is less costly and more efficient to grow. …read more of Shop so Orangutans don’t Drop here

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Whether you’re a scientist working in the field or a young person in your backyard, this is where you get to share your stories through pictures, videos and articles with the rest of the world. Without your voice, these stories go unshared, and our planet’s ecology, wildlife and natural resources go unexplored. Connect with each other and us and let’s enjoy this process of learning from one another.

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