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US federal officials are seeking a ban on swimming with Hawaii's spinner dolphins, saying the encounters popular with tourists are harming the nocturnal creatures' sleeping habits. The proposal by the National Marine Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would ban swimming with Hawaiian spinner dolphins or approaching the animals within 50 yards (45 meters). "We are taking this action because spinner dolphins in the main Hawaiian islands are experiencing intense pressure from swimmers and other ocean users looking for a dolphin encounter," Ann Garrett, of the NOAA's Fisheries Office of Protected Resources, told reporters earlier this week.
PANA, Thailand (AP) — To stop wild elephants from rampaging through their produce, farmers in Thailand put up electric fences, set off firecrackers and even switched their crops from pineapples to pumpkins, which the pachyderms don't relish much. Nothing worked, so the villagers decided on Plan Bee.
A wildlife park in Israel is celebrating a new arrival for one of its species - a baby white rhino. Female Tanda this week gave birth to a male calf at the Ramat Gan safari park zoo near Tel Aviv. "She is nursing him and taking very good care of him," said Gali Berkovich, an enrichment coordinator and animal trainer at the park.
By Nidal al-Mughrabi GAZA (Reuters) - The last survivors of a Gaza zoo, where dozens of animals died of starvation and children petted stuffed carcasses, left on Wednesday for sanctuary outside the Palestinian territory. Economic hardship deepened by war with Israel brought death to most of the menagerie of 200 at the privately owned complex in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the enclave. Israel, which maintains tight restrictions on its border with Hamas Islamist-run Gaza, allowed the animals through the frontier and dubbed the transfer "Operation Safari".
Conservationists are filling condoms with chili powder and firecrackers … to keep elephants away. This scare tactic, part of a multistep alarm system, has been developed to protect farmland and villages from elephants, without harming the animals. Honeyguide Foundation, with support from The Nature Conservancy, has been training villagers to use the alarm system, and though unconventional, the chili condoms have already shown promise.
Standing in line for a special ceremony, uniformed soldiers of His Majesty the King of Norway's Guard are carefully inspected -- by a penguin. Sir Nils Olav, a resident king penguin at Edinburgh Zoo, was honored with the title of brigadier on Monday during a parade in the Scottish park. The bird is the mascot of His Majesty the King of Norway's Guard and was made a knight in 2008.
The twin panda cubs born at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo turned 16 days old on Tuesday and are said to be fit and healthy. Releasing a video of mother Yang Yang holding the tiny cubs in her paws and licking them, the zoo said the giant panda was "extremely relaxed in her care" of her babies, which were continuing to "develop splendidly". "The young pandas stretch, wave their little paws in the air and make first tentative efforts to crawl on their mother's tummy," zoo director Dagmar Schratter said in a statement.
By Patpicha Tanakasempipat BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's tiger tourism business is booming and the captive tiger population is growing fast, experts say, more than two months after Thai wildlife authorities found scores of dead cubs while rescuing animals from the popular Tiger Temple. Animal rights activists called on tourists to shun Thai animal attractions, which they say are cruel and should be shut down, after the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province, west of Bangkok, closed in June. Thai wildlife authorities vowed to inspect other tiger attractions, and confiscated 24 tigers from two venues, but the scrutiny has been short-lived.
By Emmanuelle Landais DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Hunched over her laptop, eyes locked on the screen, Marième Seye listens to the step-by-step instructions given by her teacher. With 24 other Senegalese students, she is learning to develop a mobile app to raise awareness about the environment. In small groups, the students develop apps focusing on environmental issues, in the format of their choice – such as a game, quiz or a platform to look up potentially unfamiliar terms, such as "endangered species".
An orangutan living in an Australian zoo has created a jazz riff which his keeper hopes will help raise awareness about the plight of the hairy primates. Pij Olijnyk said he was constantly looking for ways to entertain Adelaide Zoo's 21-year-old Sumatran Orangutan called Kluet and was one day showing him some photos and videos on his phone. Just 7,000 Sumatran orangutans are estimated to be left in the wild, according to the zoo, which said the critically endangered species could become extinct within the next decade.
Ötzi the Iceman's hard-core leather outfit would have made animal rights activists shudder. The 5,300-year-old iceman mummy, whose remarkably preserved body was found frozen in the Tyrolean Alps in Austria, once sported an outfit made almost completely of animal skin, new genetic evidence suggests. "We have discovered that the iceman's clothes were composed of an array of different animals," said study co-author Niall O'Sullivan, a doctoral candidate in archaeology at the University College Dublin in Ireland and researcher at the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman, EURAC research in Bolzano, Italy.
A giant panda on loan from China to Austria has given birth to two naturally conceived twins, an exceptionally rare event for the endangered species, Vienna's famous Schoenbrunn Zoo said Tuesday. Initially the zoo thought mother Yang Yang had only given birth to one panda because the delivery happened inside a dark nesting box and was only observed via an infrared camera. "The cubs have little round bellies and panda mummy Yang Yang is very relaxed," zoologist Eveline Dungl said.
Actors Jonah Hill and Miles Teller take on the roles of arms dealers in dramedy "War Dogs", the latest offering from "The Hangover" director Todd Phillips. The movie, inspired by a true story, follows the pair as they get a $300 million deal through the U.S. Department of Defense to arm the Afghan military. "We went all around the world (to shoot the movie) and that was kind of the most interesting and insane and probably helpful because this is what these guys actually did," Hill said at the movie's premiere in Los Angeles.
Giant panda Yang Yang gave birth nine days ago and CCTV monitoring at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo did not show her secret until late last week - she had not one but two cubs keeping warm between her massive paws. "It sounded as though two cubs were squealing, but we only ever saw one," zoo director, Dagmar Schratter, said in a statement on Tuesday. "On Friday, the zookeepers were first able to make out two of them on the screen." Yang Yang is being monitored by cameras in a private pen so as not to disturb her and panda cubs are rarely seen because their mothers constantly warm them between their paws.
Doing good for nature is just a mouse-click away. Citizen science, or the general public's participation in scientific research, allows the average person to help conservationists do extraordinary, impactful work. Websites that help facilitate this are often filled with simple yet entertaining tasks, which will educate you on the natural world while also freeing up time for conservationists to do the heavy lifting. SEE ALSO: The struggle and resilience of the world's tigers, in photos Find the right site, and the work is anything but menial — and it can have a massive impact, no science degree required. You just need a passion for helping the environment, vulnerable animal populations and those on the frontlines of conservation efforts. Here are nine nature websites that will help you save the earth. 1. Monitoring osprey feeding habits Image: Explore.org Using this 24-hour osprey livestream by bird conservation nonprofit the National Audubon Society and Explore.org, citizen scientists can help researchers monitor feeding patterns of the birds of prey. Users simply keep tabs on the cam, and grab their best snapshot when there's a feeding on the nest. Sure, tragedy sometimes strikes the nest when an eagle swoops down for a snack — but that's just the ruthless reality of nature. The majority of the time, however, the soothing sound of the water makes for peaceful background noise while you're waiting to take your shot. 2. Classifying bat calls Image: Batdetective.org Identifying bat calls isn't as difficult as it might seem. Bat Detective allows users to listen to and sort bat calls so scientists can better understand the behavior of bat populations. Users classify three-second bat call clips as either for social, searching or feeding purposes depending on their pitch and frequency. Don't worry, it's easier than it sounds — and you'll learn a lot about these slightly creepy (but very important) creatures. 3. Identifying wild animals for a cause Image: Zooniverse.org A partnership between big cat nonprofit Panthera and citizen science web portal Zooniverse created your new favorite way to do some good. Through Camera CATalogue, citizen scientists can help classify wild animals to help Panthera researchers learn more about big cat populations. Users sort through photos taken by Panthera's "camera traps," which take an image every time movement is indicated in the wild. Those photos can capture a number of wild animals — from hartebeests and wildebeests to cheetahs and leopards. Sometimes you'll even run across images of people caught checking up on the cameras, or a jeep speeding by. The cataloging will allow you to learn more about animals in the wild, while helping conservationists learn more about wild habitats and the big cats that call them home. 4. Decoding nature's past for an improved future Image: transcription.si.edu If your hidden talent is reading scrawled handwriting, then these citizen science projects are for you. Scientists have meticulously documented nature for ages — long before the advent of technology. Their handwritten observations now need to be transcribed and documented through computer cataloging — and you can help. Science Gossip lets you classify Victorian-era reports and drawings to help map some very early observations of nature. Notes From Nature allows citizen scientists to transcribe and document fascinating museums records on nature — complete with scans of actual specimens of beautiful flowers and plants. The Transcription Center at the Smithsonian Institute lets you transcribe records — some nature-themed — from one of the most famous museums in the world on a rotating basis. Current selections include a bug diary and field notes from noted scientists. 5. Sorting snapshots of the Serengeti Image: snapshotserengeti.org If you always wanted to hang out with the wild animals of Tanzania, now's your chance. With Snapshot Serenget i , you can sort through images taken by camera traps set up by the University of Minnesota's Lion Center, with the goal of helping researchers understand the food webs, biodiversity and sustainability of the region to assist lion conservation efforts. By categorizing and identifying animals, citizen scientists get an education themselves, learning the difference between a caracal and a wildcat, or a genet and a civet. And it's all while helping researchers monitor vulnerable wild lion populations and save their habitats. 6. Simply counting whales and dolphins Image: Zooniverse.org Everyone's favorite massive mammals of the ocean need your help — and counting skills. This Zooniverse endeavor, dubbed Snapshots at Sea, is the first step in helping researcher identify individual whales as part of the — wait for it — Whales As Individuals project. It couldn't be simpler. All users have to do is identify whether there's one or more whales or dolphins in a photo. It's super easy — and super helpful — in cataloging the animals for further research and identification. 7. Counting condors in California Image: Condorwatch.org Condors in California face devastating lead poisoning — and documenting their locations and behavior can help conservationists curb its impact. Condor Watch, an initiative from those on the frontlines of condor conservation, can help. Users simply look at photos of condors taken by motion-activated cameras set up by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service and Ventana Wildlife Society. By identifying the tag number of each condor and its behavior around a feeding carcass, these organizations can judge if the bird's behavior indicates possible lead poisoning. Just try not to get squeamish from the very visible animal carcasses. 8. Picking through pictures of plankton Image: Planktonportal.org Plankton Portal asks you to mark images of plankton taken by underwater imaging systems in the Mediterranean and off the coast of California. The photos then go on to help researchers learn more about the health and stability of the planet's oceans — and hopefully help conservationists in their quest to improve overall ocean health. As Plankton Portal says, no plankton means no ocean life. So take time to show appreciation for these microscopic organisms' impact on your favorite aquatic creatures. 9. Helping computers understand animal faces Image: Zooniverse.org Are adorable pictures of animals more your speed? With Understanding Animal Faces , another Zooniverse endeavor, users simply draw a box around the face of each animal in photos. This simple task trains computers on how to identify faces — which can be incredibly valuable to researchers. The eventual goal is to establish an annotated database of animal faces, comprising hundreds of different animal species. Maybe you'll stumble on American bulldogs, polar bears or even a mountain gorilla. The possibilities — and the species — are nearly endless.
By Steve Gorman LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Three groups of California's rare island fox were removed from the U.S. endangered species list on Thursday, and a fourth was downgraded to threatened, marking the fastest recovery yet for an American mammal once deemed to be on the brink of extinction. The population of the four subspecies in question on California's Channel Islands, which had plunged to fewer than 200 animals during the late 1990s, has bounced back to nearly 6,000 as of 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported. The agency said the island fox rebound was hastened by an intense recovery program that included captive breeding of the animals, removal of feral pigs from the islands and reducing an influx of golden eagles from the mainland that had become an invasive predator.
A real-life story of two Miami friends who found military business opportunities during the Iraq war was “crazy” and “unbelievable” enough for actor Jonah Hill to star in the Hollywood big screen retelling. “War Dogs,” out in theaters on Aug. 18, is a dramedy inspired by two young men, played by Hill and Miles Teller, living in Miami Beach during the Iraq War who exploit a little-known government initiative that allowed small businesses to bid on U.S. military contracts. “it's just a story that's so crazy you can't believe it actually happened,” Hill told Reuters on Thursday for a special screening of the film.