by Editor on August 20, 2015

A little brown bat objects to being handled by a researcher. Photo: USFWS

A little brown bat objects to being handled by a researcher. Photo: USFWS

Likely Cure Found For White Nose Syndrome

In the eastern U.S. and Canada, anyone who has regularly spent time outdoors during the past several years has probably noticed that once-plentiful bats have almost disappeared from our evening skies. This worrisome scarcity is due to the ravages of a fungal illness known as White Nose Syndrome (WNS), which to date has killed an estimated 6 million of the insectivorous flying mammals in the U.S. and Canada—up to 90 percent of the bat population in some areas. Conservationists have been concerned that WNS—which was inadvertently introduced to North America from Europe—might eventually push some bat species toward extinction.

But biologists are reporting that they may finally have a handle on the problem. In May, scientists in Missouri released 75 bats that had that been successfully treated for the deadly illness using a bacterium (Rhodococcus rhodochrous) found to inhibit the growth of the fugus that causes it. Further trials of the promising treatment are planned. [click to continue…]



by Editor on July 19, 2015

A Bottlenose Dolphin Hitches A Ride From A Humpback Whale Off Hawaii

A Bottlenose Dolphin Hitches A Ride From A Blue Whale Off Hawaii

Interspecies Play

The behavior depicted in the photo above—a bottlenose dolphin sliding down the back of a humpback whale—is not a fluke. Scientists and tourists alike have witnessed this strange and marvelous interspecies interaction time and time again in the waters around the Hawaiian Islands.

While most animal behaviors are connected in some way to the animals’ survival, scientists say that in this case, the most logical explanation is that the two species merely enjoy playing together. More information is available here.



by Editor on April 22, 2015

A Species Of Giant Rat Native To Africa Is Being Used To Keep People Safe. Photo: USFWS

A Species Of Giant Rat Native To Africa Is Being Used To Keep People Safe. Photo: USFWS

This Huge Rodent Is Better Than A Metal Detector At Sniffing Out Deadly Land Mines

In some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, hidden land mines are a major threat to the civilian population. Left over from military conflicts that periodically sweep the continent, they often injure or even kill children at play and adults who are trying to work farmland or otherwise go about their daily business.

Finding and disposing of buried mines is usually a slow, difficult, and dangerous process because, while they can be located with electronic metal detectors, the devices constantly give out false alarms caused by such non-lethal pieces of lost or discarded metal as nails, screws, and machine parts. So, mine hunters in the formerly war-torn country of Angola are increasing relying instead on the Gambian rat, a native rodent with a cat-sized body and an exquisite nose for buried items that emanate odors, including explosives.

The Gambian rat, also called the African rat, or the pouched rat, is a common sub-Saharan species that has been domesticated. The animals are sold around the world in the pet trade—in fact, they’ve become an invasive species in Florida, where enough of them have escaped or been released to form a breeding population. [click to continue…]



by Editor on March 12, 2015

There Are Now More Wild Pandas Than There Have Been In Several Decades

There Are More Wild Pandas Now Than There Have Been In Several Decades (Although This Photo Is Of A Captive Panda)

The Population Of Wild Pandas Has Gone Up Since The Animals Last Were Counted

Good news is often hard to come by in the world of endangered species conservation. So when we hear something positive we like to celebrate. What we’re most happy about right now is a report from the Chinese government that the number of giant pandas in the wild has undergone a sizable increase in the last dozen years.

According to Chinese wildlife officials, there are now 1,864 pandas living in the bamboo forests of Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces in southern China, up from a population of 1,596 in 2003. This is an increase of nearly 17 percent. [click to continue…]



by Editor on March 2, 2015

Zoology for Kids

Zoology For Kids: An AAW Book Review

The wildlife field is full of interesting careers, including—but certainly not limited to—veterinary work, environmental writing, field biology, conservation law enforcement, and hands-on work with captive wildlife. These sorts of jobs are extremely exciting to a lot of kids—but also seemingly about as attainable as the moon. In fact, a lot of young people might think they’d have as much chance of becoming an astronaut as they would a zookeeper or a zoologist.

So it’s terrific that a new book called Zoology for Kids: Understanding and Working with Animals has come along to demystify and demythologize the wildlife professions and make them seem more like something that, with the right amount of time, effort, and desire, any kid could end up doing for a living. The entire second half of this well-written, informative, and beautifully designed book is called “Working on the Wild Side—Zoology in Real Life”—and it discusses an array of jobs studying, caring for, and protecting wild animals, from being a zookeeper or a professional aquarist to becoming a scientist or a wildlife conservationist. Topics covered include the kinds of daily activities that are involved in each of these careers, as well as some of the requirements for getting there. The authors, the husband and wife team of Josh and Bethanie Hestermann, offer their young readers a lot of practical career encouragement, including the terrific advice to begin gaining experience and building their resumes through volunteer work at a wildlife center or veterinarian’s office. [click to continue…]



by Editor on February 28, 2015

The Most Important Wildlife Movie In Decades

The Academy Award-nominated film, Virunga, released in November, 2014, is one of the most important wildlife films in decades. It chronicles the effects of corporate greed, government corruption, poverty, and war on the people and wildlife in and around Congo’s Virunga National Park. While the movie’s charismatic stars are the eastern Congo’s rare mountain gorillas, its heroes are the rangers and park officials who look after the gorillas and other wildlife, fending off disturbing threats of increasing seriousness until they end up risking their own lives to protect them even as heavily armed troops battle all around. [click to continue…]



by Editor on February 11, 2015

A Critically Endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros. Photo: Willem V. Strien

A Critically Endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros. Photo: Willem V. Strien

The Obama Administration Announces New Action Against Illegal Traffickers In Wildlife

The Obama Administration announced February 11 that it was taking new action to protect endangered species and other wildlife currently being decimated by growing and increasingly powerful international networks of illegal wildlife traffickers. Poachers and traffickers are destroying populations of elephants, rhinos, tigers, gibbons, pangolins, and many other species of birds, reptiles, and mammals in order reap huge profits by satisfying demand for wild animal parts and products in Asia, the U.S., and other illegal markets. Poaching and wildlife trafficking have become the main factor driving many species toward extinction.

According to a report published in The New York Times, U.S. actions will include using American intelligence agencies to track the operations of international criminals involved in trafficking, an activity estimated to generate $20 Billion in black-market profits each year. For the first time, U.S. agents will be dispatched to other countries in the fight against trafficking. In addition, the U.S. will put diplomatic pressure on the governments of countries where illegal wildlife products are sold. The Administration also plans action to curb U.S. imports of banned products. By some estimates, the U.S. is the second largest consumer after China of illegal wildlife and wildlife products. [click to continue…]