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Jaçana – The Big Foot of the Bird World

Sunday, 15 January 2017

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.

Saving the Last Wilderness


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.

The Rhino Guardians


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.

The Gelada: Unique Primate from the Roof of Africa

Sunday, 8 January 2017

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.

The Birdman of Chennai


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.

The Cutest Moments of 2016


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!

Why Galapagos Iguanas Take a Huge Gamble

Wednesday, 14 December 2016



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.

Fight!

Saturday, 10 December 2016

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.

Image Credit Flickr User Tambako the Jaguar
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. Mohandas Gandhi  
The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights. Muhammad Ali 

Sea Lebrities: The Sea Lions of Pier 39

Sunday, 23 October 2016

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.

Are These the Cutest Kittens on the Internet?

Sunday, 2 October 2016

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!

The Gharial – Good News for the Critically Endangered Indian Crocodile?

Saturday, 24 September 2016

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.

The Red Elephants of Kenya

Sunday, 18 September 2016

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.

Why Does a Dog Lick Its Nose?

Saturday, 10 September 2016

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.

The Honduran White Bat

Sunday, 28 August 2016

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).

Synchronized Swimming in the Animal Kingdom

Sunday, 21 August 2016

With the Olympics coming up in 2012 one of the buzz words is participation. Certainly, the British Olympic Committee who are organising the upcoming games are very keen to get ordinary people in to participating in sporting activities. It seems the message is getting across – and in the animal world too. Yet while some sports are popular in the human world it seems that it is synchronized swimming which is really taking off among the animal population...

The Amazing Hummingbird Hawk Moth

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

It hovers, it hums – but it is not a hummingbird. Take a look at one of, if not the most amazing, certainly the coolest insects on the planet - The Hummingbird Hawk Moth.

The Duck Squad


Do you have a pest problem? Then perhaps you should consider calling in the Duck Squad!  This team of over 1000 ducks have a serious job – to keep down the number of snails and other pests on the South African winery they call home.  Created by Great Big Story, this is a charming portrait of how animals can be used rather than pesticides to keep the grapes growing.  The sight of over 1000 ducks ambling through the countryside in formation is quite something!

Cat on the Menu

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Sometimes you should take things a little more literally!  This charming picture was taken outside of the Dolphin Restaurant in Sultanahmet, Istanbul.  We would not dream of giving places which would serve up cat for lunch or dinner a molecule of the oxygen of publicity! Yet, for at least one day there really was cat on the menu at the Dolphin Restaurant!

The Silver Fox: Vivacious Variant of Vulpes vulpes

Friday, 12 August 2016

If you came to this page looking for a feature on George Clooney, Harrison Ford or Sean Connery then sorry to disappoint you – this is the wrong place!  This particular silver fox has been around a good deal longer than the movies though its story could be easily made in to a film without a doubt.  You could also be under the impression that the silver fox is a species related to the red fox. There, too, you would be mistaken.  They are the same species.

The Bobbit Worm Catches its Prey


If you are of a nervous disposition then you may not want to press play.  Otherwise, steel yourself for the remarkable site of a bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois) catching its prey.  The worm lives on the ocean floor, burying it body which can grow up to three meters in length in the seabed.  It waits and when one of its five antennae is stimulated by an approaching sea creature it attacks.  This is done with such speed that it has been seen to slice its prey in half.

You might wonder what the bobbit worm does when the prey is larger than it is.  Although it quite often kills its quarry on the first strike the bobbit worm injects a fatal toxin in to the prey animal.  This incredible video was shot by Khaled Sultani, filmed with Light & Motion Bluefin pro housing / CX550 with Sola lights.

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