Lessons in the "Animals" Category

Cecil the Lion Killed by American Poacher

Recently, we heard the sad news that Cecil the lion had been killed by an American poacher in Zimbabwe. Dr Walter Palmer, a dentist and a father of two from Bloomington, Minnesota, USA, is now begging forgiveness. He said he didn’t know he was breaking Zimbabwe law by killing the defenceless African lion, or for that matter that Cecil had been coaxed away from the game reserve he lived on.

Why do Zebras have stripes?

Why do Zebras have stripes? The question has plagued scientists for centuries. Now biologists at the University of California have come up with an answer, which is that their stripes help protect them from biting flies. The scientists believe zebra monochrome markings evolved in order to repel biting insects, such as horseflies, which tend to avoid striped surfaces.

So next time you go on holiday and you are attacked by mosquito bites wear some striped clothing and it should help protect you. Certainly it will help cut the risk of you being bitten. Scientists though have cautioned this last thought. Tim Caro, lead author and UC Davis professor of wildlife biology explains…

Category: Animals / Zebras / Africa

Elephant poaching in Africa

Today, let’s talk about elephant poaching in Africa. The killing of these giant beasts for their ivory is truly shocking. Africa has seen its elephant population decimated because of it.

The situation was at its worst during the 1980s, when more than half of Africa’s elephants were estimated to have been wiped out by man. Most of them were killed by poachers for their ivory.

Category: Africa / Elephants Poaching / The Ivory Trade

Baby gorillas being trafficked endangers species

In recent months the Democratic Republic of Congo has seen a surge in the number of baby gorillas being trafficked The Guardian newspaper in Britain recently reported. This is posing a fresh risk to the endangered species wildlife officials have warned. The authorities in the country say they are powerless to combat the trade in which poachers demand up to US$40,000 (£25,350 or €29,150) an animal. In an undercover sting operation recently by the authorities the poachers demanded this price.

This has been a record year for the poachers who are trying to feed a growing black market demand for baby gorillas. Mountain gorillas are critically endangered, with about 790 remaining in the world - about 480 in the Virunga volcanoes conservation area (shared between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Uganda) and just over 300 in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda. Eastern lowland gorillas are more numerous but are largely outside protected areas and are still in decline. The baby gorilla trafficking is in the rebel controlled areas of eastern DRC.

Category: Africa / Gorillas / Endangered Species

Horse enjoys a refreshing pint in his local pub

A horse walks into a pub and says, “Mine’s a pint please!” Really? Well, Basil the horse does! The Welsh Cob stallion visits his favoured watering hole every Sunday at the Meynell Ingram Arms in Burton, Staffordshire. In fact, Basil finds nothing more relaxing than a refreshing pint in his local pub.

He enjoys mingling with the locals as he relaxes and sups on his favourite tipple in the country boozer. His favourite drink is the locally brewed ale Marson’s Pedigree, which is always waiting for him at the bar in his very own glass.

Category: England / Pubs / Horse in Pub

Scientific advances could bring back the dodo & mammoth

Long-extinct creatures like the dodo and the woolly mammoth could be brought back to life again thanks to the advancement of science. Other such creatures could live again such as the fearsome sabre-toothed tiger, the Tasmanian tiger and the woolly rhinoceros. We could even see the lumbering Neanderthal return, not too mention a glyptodont, which was a VW Beetle sized armadillo which last roamed the earth 11,000 years ago.

A recent edition of the New Scientist said that while such feats were well beyond the means of today’s best brains, advances in science could lead to a day when they are brought back from the dead. After all, who would have believed 50 years ago that we would now be able to clone animals such as Dolly the sheep or be capable of reading the instructions for making humans (DNA).

Category: Science / DNA / Extinct Animals

Killer spiders invade Sydney!

Never mind crocodiles and sharks, it is killer funnel-web spiders that you have to look out for in Sydney, Australia. Recently several residents were bitten by a plague of these poisonous arachnids. The spiders are a real menace at this time of the year, especially for Sydneysiders. The backyard spider, if it bites can kill you in the space of two hours - so meeting one is best avoided.