We really do live in an amazing age of technology that brings us news about all sorts of things going on in the world that we previously would have known nothing about. Not a huge fan of social media I still acknowledge the power of it to inform and galvanise people into action. The animals of the world have certainly known more attention with the sharing of stories around the world that highlight the plight of many species which in turn becomes concern and engagement that can help save them. Only today I read about the effort to get vet help to a critically endangered female Sumatran rhino named Puntang that desperately needed the right care to save her life. She was a rescued animal suffering from a huge abscess that threatened her life. There are only 100 of these ancient animals left so every one saved is significant. With online collaboration and teamwork a vet dentist from Thailand was flown in along with other experts in the field to assist in the delicate surgery to remove three of Puntangs teeth. She is making a great recovery thanks to on post that started it all from across the world a long way from where Puntang lives. Hats off to everyone involved.
A trillion plastic bags per year. That staggering number is what ends up in land fill and our oceans so imagine if we could do something about it. A chance discovery has led to hope that nature has provided an answer to this overwhelming problem in the form of a grub which is the larvae of the wax moth. This little creature has proven it is capable of eating through significant amounts of plastic which has given scientists unexpected hope that on a large scale our plastic waste might become a thing of the past. This amazing discovery was made by a scientist who was cleaning the caterpillars from the honeycomb of her bee hives. The wax moth lays its eggs in the honeycomb so that when they hatch they have food. She found that the grubs had eaten holes in the plastic bag she put them in and it turns out that more studies have revealed some astonishing facts about these little critters that could transform our plastic waste.
The mothering instincts are very strong in a lioness. At a game reserve in South Africa a single lioness is mothering 7 cubs after her sister died leaving 4 month old orphans late last year. It is not uncommon for lioness to birth at the same time which gives them the advantage of sharing mothering responsibilities. Feeding 7 hungry cubs is a huge task for one lioness but reports are good that all the cubs are thriving and happy. The lioness will be kept busy hunting to feed this many cubs as they grow and she also has to deal with threats from other lions particularly roaming males. Fiercely protective female lions without the protection of a pride face many dangers defending young ones so I hope she continues to thrive and that rangers in the reserve are looking out for her. I think she's amazing.
That giraffes are a declining species should be no surprise to anyone who is interested in wildlife. These statuesque animals are facing all the problems many of the other animals in Africa face, habitat loss and human predation. In more recent times shockingly the tails of giraffe have become a trophy item which really makes you wonder at the extent of human persecution, to kill such an amazing and huge animal just for it's tail is really tragic I think. These animals are perhaps not as studied as some of the other more well known species facing extinction such as big cats and rhino but just as worthy. In just 15 years populations of giraffe have dropped from 140,000 to just 80,000 and just 150 years ago there were millions of them. Let's not allow giraffes to go the same way of the rhino, big cats, elephants and the myriad of other animals across the globe disappearing because they can't compete with us to survive.
China is living up to it's commitments to end the ivory trade. The country announced it would end all trade in elephant ivory at the end of 2017 and towards that goal have just pledged to close 67 carving factories and shops that deal in ivory by this Friday. There is hope after all. As the worlds largest market for ivory that sees as many as 30,000 elephants killed every year they have a huge responsibility to do something constructive to end this awful slaughter of elephants as quickly as possible. It has been reported that wholesale prices of ivory have also dropped significantly as more people are responding to the anti ivory advertising and programs but what about the UK and Japan ? Apparently both countries have no such bans in place and I wonder why ? What is going on that the UK have done nothing. Surely every country in the world should be making a commitment to end the trade not just some.
More amazing news on another thought to be extinct animal comes this week and it's the New Guinea Mountain Dog. Camera traps have conclusive evidence of their existence showing many separate individuals from pups to adults. Not sighted in more than 50 years and considered extinct these wild dogs are thought to be related to the dingo and perhaps the link between domestic and wild dogs. Found in the New Guinea Highlands at elevations of 11,000 - 14,000 feet these dogs are living a long way from human habitation which may account for the survival. Such good news and I hope everything can be done to protect them.