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Maleo - The Bird That Can Fly The Moment it Hatches

Sunday, 22 January 2017

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 Monkeys of Gibraltar

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.

The Rise of the Common Crane Migration

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.

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!

Amung Feedjit