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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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Off the Beaten Path in Costa Rica: Exploring Manuel Antonio and Rainmaker Reserve

By Lavanya Sunkara
August 4, 2011
File under: Rainforest, Travel, Wildlife


The first Jeff Corwin Experience DVD I bought was about Costa Rica. I had seen the show so many times that I’d say the lines even before him. “It’s time to go from a quadruped to a biped in search of a no-ped”, is one of my favorites.

When I made my trip to the beautiful country, I didn’t have to search for any snakes. A gorgeous boa constrictor crawled from the nearby jungle onto the front yard of Costa Verde, the hotel I was staying in. It wasn’t a surprise because wildlife is abundant; more so in Manuel Antonio than in other places.

I also knew that the snake was non-venomous, but kills its prey by wrapping around it. Some boa constrictor species are endangered as they are excessively hunted for their exotic skin. As I touched this boa’s fine ornate layer, while it was being gently held by the security guard, I couldn’t help but feel exhilarated. …read more of Off the Beaten Path in Costa Rica: Exploring Manuel Antonio and Rainmaker Reserve here

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The Endangered Unknown – The Kirtland’s snake

By Peter Kleinhenz
August 3, 2011
File under: Animal Stories, Species Profiles, Wildlife


Snakes occupy a very special place in my heart. For as long as I can remember, they’ve been my favorite group of animals.

My first experience with a snake was at the age of six when I mistook a garter snake for a rattlesnake, ran away crying, then returned thirty minutes later only to cry again due to my inability to find it a second time.

From that point forward, I have searched for many different kinds of snakes in many different places. No snake find, however, elicits quite the response from me that a Kirtland’s snake, Clonophis kirtlandii, does. …read more of The Endangered Unknown – The Kirtland’s snake here

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Why Red Spotted Newts Are Super Cool

By Valorie Titus
July 22, 2011
File under: Amphibians, Species Profiles, Wildlife


Most everyone in the eastern United States at one point of their life or another spent time as a child flipping rocks in the woods only to find bright orange little salamanders.  These pretty little dudes are what we herpetologists call Notophthalmus viridescens, or the Red Spotted Newt.  They are still reasonably common throughout their range and are a joy to find due to their brilliant coloration.

Why would a tiny little salamander want to have bright colors so easy to see?  The bright coloration is basically saying “don’t eat me, I’ll make you sick!”, as they have toxic skin secretions that can harm even the largest of predators.  Once a predator tries to eat one, they are likely not going to try to eat another.  If something makes me sick, I certainly won’t want to eat it again.  What’s really cool is that you only see this coloration during what we call the newt’s “eft”, or juvenile stage.

Amphibians generally have several life stages as they develop.  What’s so neat about the red spotted newt is their juvenile stage is on land; they are born in the water and they return to the water when they reach adulthood! …read more of Why Red Spotted Newts Are Super Cool here

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Sea Turtles of Florida’s Canaveral National Seashore

By Lavanya Sunkara
July 21, 2011
File under: Conservation, Interviews, Research, Turtles, Wildlife


I was in awe of hearing that more than 100 turtles crossed an active runway at New York’s J.F.K airport recently. These diamondback terrapins that inhabit the surrounding brackish wetlands delayed air traffic and caused quite a sensation.

The turtle crossings happen every year during breeding season, with more activity in some years than others. The turtles were safely taken from the tarmac and deposited in a sandy nestworthy area out of harm’s way. Then it dawned on me that we are the ones invading their space.

Many of the turtle species are endangered. Reasons range from global warming to party balloons (who knew?). To learn more, I reached out to a sea turtle conservation expert. Dr. Candace Carter, …read more of Sea Turtles of Florida’s Canaveral National Seashore 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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Meet the Species: Sumatran Rhino

By Rhishja Larson
July 8, 2011
File under: Endangered Species, Species Profiles, Wildlife

Photo credit: Yayasan Badak Indonesia, photographer Dedi Candra (courtesy of Susie Ellis, IRF)

The Sumatran rhino has suffered a 50% decline in numbers over the last 15 years. Sadly, it is now believed there are only around 200 Sumatran rhinos surviving in fragmented populations in Southeast Asia.

Like the other four rhino species, the Sumatran rhino population has been decimated because of the alleged medicinal properties of rhino horn. However, rhino horn has been scientifically tested and does not actually provide any curative benefits.

Besides being killed for their horns, the Sumatran rhinos’ habitat is being destroyed by development and agriculture. Conservation groups, such as the International Rhino Foundation and Yayasan Badak Idonesia, are working to save the increasingly rare Sumatran rhino by implementing habitat programs, strengthening anti-poaching efforts, monitoring trade of rhino horns, managing protected areas, and raising public awareness. …read more of Meet the Species: Sumatran Rhino here

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Scientific Studies Find No Medicinal Value in Rhino Horn

By Rhishja Larson
July 6, 2011
File under: Animal Protection, Black Market, Education, Wildlife

Photo courtesy of Pam Krzyza

As one of the most widely recognized animals on our Planet, rhinos are unfortunately also one of the most endangered. Sought after for centuries because of the alleged healing properties of their distinctive horns, these giant herbivores are still the victims of long-standing myths.

Here, we shed some light on the misinformation that is behind the continued killing of these proud pachyderms.

Rhino horn and Traditional Chinese Medicine

For thousands of years, rhino horn has been a key ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, which has credited rhino horn with powerful healing properties. …read more of Scientific Studies Find No Medicinal Value in Rhino Horn here

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