Exuma, a district in the Bahamas is stunningly beautiful. It consists of almost four hundred small islands, positioned languidly along 250 miles of the Atlantic Ocean north of Cuba. Many of the islands are uninhabited. Yet one of them, Big Major Cay has a population that might surprise you. There are pigs on the island and when they are not doing their best impression of beach bums they take to the water. These are the swimming pigs of the Bahamas.
Many people dream of the Bahamas as their ultimate holiday destination. For these lucky pigs, however, what was probably intended only as a brief prelude to their place on the dinner table has become a life of lazy leisure. When they are not enjoying the beach they take to the water to retrieve food thrown from passing yachts. They may not qualify for the next Olympic games but they know how to do a rather graceful piggy paddle.
This is one of those videos that, when it ends, you sit there for a few seconds just willing there to be more… Created by director and cinematographer Alan Nogues, Wildlife in Highspeed focuses in on the wildlife of New Caledonia, a French territory consisting of hundreds of islands in the South Pacific. So many of these moments would be over in the blink of an eye: however, Nogues’ ability to capture them at 1000 frames per seconds ensures that we get to savor them.
Some people just don’t like worms despite the fact that their usefulness to humanity is long established and recorded. Worms aerate the soil, break down organic matter and even excrete fantastic fertilizer. Yet still they are hated: if accidentally picked up they are flung away with Olympian exuberance, often with ear-shattering shrieks as accompaniment. What, then, would those haters make of this, the bizarre hammerhead worm? Prepare to meet a strange beast indeed – not to mention one of the messiest eaters on the planet.
Strictly speaking, the hammerhead is a flatworm. They come in many species not to mention shapes and sizes but all have one thing in common – they are immensely predatory (but more of that later). They belong to a family called the Geoplanidae which are commonly known as land planarians.
Beneath the red hot sand of an Indonesian island something stirs. A large egg is hatching and soon the newborn creature will dig its way out to the surface and take its first gulps of fresh air. Yet no parent watches over it. This sounds as if it should be a young turtle, thrusting its flippers sideways as it makes its desperate lurch towards the ocean. It is not, however. This is a bird. More remarkable still is that when it emerges the chick will already be able to fly.
The Maleo is a surprising bird. Although it only numbers around ten thousand in the wild – and close to zero in captivity – it is remarkable amongst our feathered friends for the unique way it cares for its young. Instead of incubating their eggs, the Maleos lay theirs in the baking sand of Sulawesi island – the only place in the world in which they can be found in the wild. It sounds like an April Fool trick, but be assured, this bird is very much alive and kicking. Whether it will be around in another fifty years, however, is altogether a different question.
The rock of Gibraltar is shared between two primate species: people and monkeys. The Barbary Macaques (the only wild monkey population in Europe) came to live on the upper rock long before the latest human inhabitants, the British, arrived, and now, 300 years on, there are tensions between the two. Attempts to expel the monkeys from the town with peashooters are in vain, as the animals rise to the challenges of the new game. This leads the government to resort to more drastic tactics.
During the 18th and 19th century the Common Crane almost disappeared from Western Europe. We drained their wetland habitats and hunted them. But right now over 300.000 Common Cranes migrate each year from their breading habitats in Scandinavia to Southern Spain. The numbers rise each year too – but as you will discover from this wonderful short by Tim Visser Creations, although we helped to restore the number of cranes to their former heights, it was purely accidental conservation.
The tropical zone of planet Earth contains many wonderful species which have adapted over time to their environment. The Jaçana (the c is pronounced like the one in façade) consists of eight species; all are found within the tropical zone and all in possession of something quite special which equips them take best advantage of their habitat. At home in shallow lakes with lots of vegetation, the Jaçana has evolved enormous feet and claws. They are, literally, the big foot of the bird world. Once seen, never forgotten.
The vegetation which floats upon many shallow lakes in the world’s tropical zone contains a veritable smorgasbord for any bird able to reach them. Most are home to a huge variety of insects and other invertebrates. Yet the vegetation which houses this feast is what disables access to it. Now, if only a bird could walk on the vegetation without submerging it (and itself) with the weight, all this food would be theirs for the taking. Enter the Jaçana.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is home to many remarkable creatures. In the language of the original Alaskans it means sacred place where life begins. It is vast, serene and other-worldly yet our own world is impinging on it more and more. Can this lovely place be saved before its pristine beauty is destroyed forever? There are many who wish to see its preservation – as this superb film by Florian Schulz shows. Sit back, grab a coffee and open your mind to wonder - this contains some of the best wildlife photography you can see. For more information about how to help save this place, visit We Are The Arctic.
In 2016 Dan Sadgrove traveled to South Africa to visit The Black Mambas - the worlds first all female anti-poaching unit operating in the Balule Game Reserve in South Africa. Coming from disadvantaged communities and breaking strong patriarchal tradition, these courageous women focus on eliminating illegal wildlife trade through conservation, education and the protection of wildlife, helping to ensure the long term survival of threatened and endangered species in the area. Each day they patrol up to 20km, unarmed, looking for poachers, wire-snares, and break-ins along the fence line. Their lives are at constant risk from poachers and the dangerous wildlife they protect.
High up in the Ethiopian mountains lives the Gelada. It lives nowhere else and although its closest living relative is the baboon, with its hairless face and short muzzle the gelada looks more like a chimpanzee. Isolated in these remote Ethiopian Highlands (often called The Roof of Africa) this primate has developed a way of existence (one might call it a culture) all of its own.
To begin with the gelada is a graminivore which means that it only eats grass. Fortunately, the highlands in which they live are cooler and a lot less arid than many parts of Ethiopia and they rarely experience any kind of food shortage. They will also become granivorous when the grass is in seed. In fact, they actively prefer the seed to the grass – it is probably a welcome change.
Twice a day, Joseph Sekar goes to the roof of his camera repair shop in Chennai, India, and feeds 8,000 parakeets. That's right, 8,000 birds, twice a day. He spends 40% of his income on feeding the birds, who were displaced after the 2006 Southeast Asia floods. It's a lot, but for Joseph, nothing brings more joy than watching the birds fly and knowing they are well-fed and healthy. He's the Birdman of Chennai—and he couldn't be happier.
We don’t just publish serious reportage and videos about animals on this website – there is plenty of room for cute on the Ark in Space too! So, Edgar's Mission Farm Sanctuary in Australia has furnished the world with this – the cutest moments from 2016 of life on the farm. If you don’t go ‘aaaw’ about ten times through this video then you are probably quite heartless! Enjoy!
Life, it is said, is something of a gamble. If that is indeed the case, then the high risk takers are probably the Galapagos iguanas. Survival is the name of the game – this is not like stargames or any of the online games we can enjoy without the threat of our imminent demise. This is something altogether different.
When the hatchling iguanas emerge they are small but identical in every other way to adults. Their eggs are laid away from the sea to avoid them being washed away. This comes at a price, however. As soon as the hatchlings try to make a move they attract the attention of a very unwanted predator!
This remarkable footage shot for the Life on Earth II series by the BBC shows the iguanas’ enemy, the racer snake, forever on the lookout for a meal. When a hatchling is spotted the snakes make a dash from their retreats to try and secure a meal. What is even more astonishing is that the snakes look like they are working together as they pursue the new-borns.
However, they are not. The racer snakes, too, are taking something of a gamble. If an iguana is caught the snakes do not share the meal, as lions would do in the wilds of Africa. The iguana is eaten whole and that means that only one snake can have the meal. This means that even if ten snakes pursue a baby iguana only one will be able to partake of the feast!
It’s almost enough to make you feel a little sorry for the snakes – but not quite, I suspect. Life on the Galapagos islands can be short and harsh but the gamble that these incredible iguanas take usually pays off and, as you can see in the video above, many get to join their parents by the sea-shore.
Sometimes it is simply play, at others it is in deadly earnest. Yet when animals fight there is something that draws us to watch despite the potential fatal outcome. Perhaps it appears to something visceral and basic in our instincts - or perhaps we just like to watch a good old fashioned tooth and claw fight.
We often read about people taking over the natural habitat of other species but it is rare to come across a case where the animals come back and reclaim their territory from us. Yet this is exactly what has happened in San Francisco. Local Californian Sea Lions have always been present in the city’s bay but had been pushed out to Seal Rocks, a small formation at the north end of the Ocean Beach. Pier 39’s K-Dock was developed and opened in 1978. Little did we know that the sea lions also had their eyes on this particular piece of seaside real estate.
They bided their time but their opportunity to move in (or back, if you argue that their presence along the Californian coastline predates human occupation by tens of thousands of years) came just over a decade later in 1989. It was then that it was decided that the docks needed refurbishment. In order to facilitate this all the boats had to be removed from Pier 39. This left large open spaces inside the Bay. A small number of sea lions saw their opportunity. They metaphorically weighed anchor from the stony slopes of Seal Rocks and began to arrive at Pier 39.
We thought we would take a break here at the Ark in Space. A break from rare species, unusual bugs and dangerous beasties. We thought we would take time out to bring you a real cutefest – something which, as you can see by the title of this post, still raises a question or two. Why bring you this glorious gallery of the cutest kittens on the net? No real reason. Except because we can! Prepare to say aaaw a lot - enjoy!
OK, now we know that this has been done before - however, these are not pictures ripped (and ripped off) from a quick search. As ever, here, all the pictures are licensed through Creative Commons. We would like to thank the photographers for their huge generosity in allowing us to share their photographs with you. You can visit their photostreams on Flickr by clicking each picture!
This strange looking creature, with its immensely long and delicate snout is the gharial (Gavialis gangeticus). Until very recently it thrived throughout the Indian sub-continent but now it numbers less than a few hundred in the wild. It seems destined for extinction, like so many other species. Will it be just another victim of what may be seen in the future as the sixth mass extinction event in the history of our planet? Is there a future for the gharial on earth, our ark in space?
The answer is only a tentative maybe. Once it flourished and could be found in all of the major rivers of India and Pakistan. The Indus, which has its source in Tibet and flows through Pakistan and Northern India had gharials along almost its entire length. Now, in this vast river not a single one may be found.
Ask anyone what color an elephant should be and you may get a raised eyebrow (or two) but the answer will normally be grey or greyish – perhaps even black or brown. The more observant might say there is pinkness around some parts of the body such as the ears and trunk. Red would almost certainly not be the answer even though some would swear they had witnessed pink elephants on parade. Yet in the Kenyan National Park of Tsavo East you will find red elephants aplenty.
When dogs are in their training stage a question that comes up a great deal is why do dogs lick their noses? While it is tempting to simply go with the old chestnut of an answer – because they can – there are a number of reasons why a dog might lick its own nose. One thing is for certain sure, however: while they are doing it they often bring a smile to the faces of their human companions. As you can see from this spread of pictures, it is sometimes difficult to resist this particular canine photo opportunity.
You may just have done something of a double take. Yet these small creatures huddled together are indeed bats. They are Honduran White Bats (Ectophylla alba) and they do not easily fall in to a number of bat stereotypes: they do not live in caves and they do not suck blood. Additionally their fur, as you can see, is snow white.
It is found only in a few Central American countries. If you are very, very lucky you might be able to find it in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and, of course, the country from which it gets its name, Honduras.
Yet it is extremely rare and, moreover, it is tiny – the largest examined have never exceeded 5cm in length. Not only that, but its white fur has evolved for a reason: camouflage. (Note: the above was caught by using mist nets in Costa Rica and was later released).