by Editor on December 31, 2011

Black Rhinos In Kenya. Photo: Harald Zimmer

Accelerated Poaching Made 2011 The Worst Year Yet For All Species Of Rhinoceros

Despite a muscular increase in South Africa’s anti-poaching law enforcement efforts, the illegal killing of rhinos has continued its aggressive upswing in that country—as well as in almost every other country to which rhinos are native.

In mid-December, the international anti-poaching organization, TRAFFIC, reported that 430 South African rhinos had been illegally killed in 2011—with two weeks still remaining in the year. The number was an increase over the number of rhinos poached in 2010, when over 300 rhinoceroses were slaughtered for their horns—and the 2010 toll was triple the number of South African rhinos killed in 2009. [click to continue…]

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by Editor on December 31, 2011

A Great White Shark Smiles For The Camera. Photo: Mila Zinkova

The Great White Shark Is The World’s Most Dangerous Species of Shark

There are at least ten species of sharks that will occasionally bite, and even kill, humans who enter their habitat. By far, however, the species responsible for the most attacks, non-fatal as well as deadly, on human beings is the great white shark (Carcharodon charcharias).

According to the International Shark Attack File, of 1,279 attacks on humans documented between the years 1580 and 2010 for which the species of attacking shark was identified, 403, or nearly one out of three, were by great whites. Of these great white attacks, however, only around 65 were fatal. [click to continue…]

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by Editor on December 31, 2011

A Baby Zoo Elephant With Its Mother. Photo:William Warby

Elephant Gestation: A Long Pregnancy

The most frequently asked question about elephants here on All About Wildlife is how long do elephants live? However, the second most popular pachyderm question is, what is the elephant’s gestation period—in other words, how long does an elephant stay pregnant? [click to continue…]

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by Editor on December 15, 2011

Cloning Endangered Species

Researchers Have Unsuccessfully Attempted To Bring Back Tylacines—Tasmanian Tigers—Via Cloning. The Last Ones Died In Zoos During The 1930s

A New York Times Writer Suggests Replacing Wildlife Habitat With Frozen Zoos And Cloning

An All About Wildlife article, Why Cloning Won’t Save Endangered Animals, recently received a link from an essay in the online version of The New York Times that made the opposite argument.

In his December 7 piece, Species Protection and Technology, economics writer Casey B. Mulligan suggested that we needn’t worry too much about saving endangered species, since future scientists will likely be able to clone as many copies as we want of any particular animal, extant or extinct. Mulligan linked to us as a source for the idea that a population of cloned animals, having necessarily been produced from the genes of only a handful of individuals—or maybe just one or two—would lack the genetic diversity needed for survival in a natural setting. He argued against our point, saying, “Another objection is that a cloned species would not be genetically diverse enough to survive, because it would be cloned from just a few DNA samples. But that objection also springs from today’s technology. Scientists may learn . . . to produce genetic diversity themselves.” [click to continue…]

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by Editor on December 11, 2011

Wild reindeer Are Having A Harder Time Finding Food Because Of Global Warming. Photo:Perhols

This Christmas, Give A Thought To The Survival Of Wild Reindeer And Other Arctic Wildlife

We can safely assume that Santa’s reindeer are reasonably well nourished because of all the sugar plums and other goodies the elves feed them at the North Pole. Wild reindeer, on the other hand, which are native to Arctic and sub-Arctic regions all around the top of the earth, are finding it a little harder to find food these days. That’s because global climate change is altering their habitat in a couple of significant ways. Many other Arctic wildlife species are also being affected by the ongoing warming of our planet’s atmosphere.

Climate change, caused primarily by people’s use of fossil fuels, is warming the polar regions—the Arctic and Antarctic—much faster than it is affecting the earth’s middle latitudes. One effect this has on reindeer habitat is that plant species native to warmer, more southerly areas are spreading north, and can potentially compete with and even crowd out the plants that reindeer feed upon. [click to continue…]

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by Editor on October 2, 2011

The American Red Wolf Has Been Extirpated From Most Of Its Range. Only a handful remain at large in the wild.

Extirpation Means ‘Local Extinction’

Everyone knows what the words “extinct” and “extinction” mean. They tell us that a species has vanished from the earth, just like the dinosaurs. Since life began on our planet, about 99 percent of all species that ever lived have gone extinct—most of them due to natural causes. Extinct are the tyrannosaurus rex, the woolly rhinoceros, the mastodon, the trilobite, and the saber-toothed tiger.

Humankind played no role in most of these extinctions. However, we are responsible for many hundreds of the most recent ones. The passenger pigeon is gone because of us; so is the wild dromedary camel, the dodo bird, the Javan tiger, the dusky seaside sparrow . . . the list could go on and on.

But many other species, although not yet extinct, have disappeared from large areas of their original, natural habitat. Wildlife experts say that these creatures have been extirpated from parts of their former range. [click to continue…]

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by Editor on September 5, 2011

No, It's Not A Rat! It's A European Hamster. The Species Is Not Endangered—But It Is Listed As 'Vulnerable.' Photo:H. Zell

Are Hamsters An Endangered Animal?

How could the hamster possibly be an endangered species when we see them in every pet store we visit?

For one thing, there are around 25 different species of wild hamster. They occupy grassland habitats in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Populations of some hamster species are more abundant than others, and many species face serious threats due to human activities that affect their ability to find food and nesting sites. [click to continue…]

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