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Dogs big and small, and some in tandem with their owners, braved the large swell that greeted them at a surfing competition with a difference in California. Some dogs bailed off their boards in spectacular wipeouts as waves pounded the shore, but that didn't prevent many of the pups from wagging their tails at the Surf City Surf Dog event in Huntington Beach. Dogs and their owners came from as far away as Florida, Australia and Brazil for the eighth edition of the annual event in aid of animal charities.
The number of African elephants has dropped by around 111,000 in the past decade, a new report released Sunday at the Johannesburg conference on the wildlife trade said, blaming the plummeting figures on poaching. The revelation, the worst drop in 25 years, came amid disagreement on the second day of the global meet over the best way to improve the plight of Africa's elephants, targeted for their tusks. With Namibia and Zimbabwe, wanting to be allowed to sell ivory stockpiles accrued from natural deaths to fund community elephant conservation initiatives, Zimbabwe's Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri rejected the "imperialistic policies" of opposing countries, branding them a "clear infringement on the sovereign rights of nations".
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In a story Sept. 23 about a bill to protect whales from fishing gear for Dungeness crab, The Associated Press erroneously reported the name of an environmental group that backed the legislation. The group is the Center for Biological Diversity, not the Center for Environmental Diversity.
The two five-year-old Albanian bears carry physical and mental scars from their days of mistreatment and captivity -- Pashuk has marks from the tight chain on his neck, while Tomi is an alcoholic. The pair are temporarily staying in Tirana zoo after they were rescued from their jailers, amid a new drive to liberate the Balkan country's cruelly caged brown bears. There are up to 250 of them roaming free in Albania's mountains, according to the international animal rights group Four Paws.
By Ziyanda Yono MARBLE HALL, South Africa (Reuters) - Almost 40 years after the first human test-tube baby was born, South African scientists have produced something bulkier: the first Cape buffalo brought into the world by in vitro fertilization (IVF). Pumelelo the buffalo bull calf was born on June 28 and was unveiled to the world this week at a game farm north of Johannesburg in South Africa's Limpopo province. The technique holds hope for far bigger and more endangered species such as the northern white rhino - only three of them are left on the planet.
The illegal trade in pangolins, helmeted hornbills and other wildlife products is thriving in Laos, a monitoring group said Friday, urging the Southeast Asian nation to crack down on a lucrative commerce largely fuelled by demand in neighbouring China. The authoritarian country has long been top transit hub for the smuggling of wildlife products, with widespread corruption and weak law enforcement allowing the criminal activity to flourish. Wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC said Friday that endangered species such as pangolins and helmeted hornbills were being openly sold in Laos and that law enforcement against the illegal trade remained threadbare.
The 17th meeting of the U.N.'s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) kicks off in Johannesburg on Saturday and runs until October 5. This meeting comes against the backdrop of a surge in elephant and rhino poaching in recent years in Africa, which has raised the emotional, ecological and economic stakes in this round of big animal diplomacy.
A King penguin chick, hatched in Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo four weeks ago, has emerged from the folds of a protective parent's body. The zoo published pictures and video footage on Thursday of the little gray bird with its much larger and more brightly colored parents. King penguins are the second-biggest species of penguin after Emperor penguins.
The battered residents of the Edhi Animal Home, just outside Karachi along Pakistan's gleaming new Super Highway, are a pitiful sight. Paralysed cats that have been crushed beneath speeding vehicles, sit alongside exhausted donkeys too weak to carry another burden, and dozens of wounded or abandoned dogs. Animal rights are at their nadir in Karachi, but a handful of activists and veterinarians are fighting to find a middle ground between stray dogs and a population that, often for religious reasons, finds them "putrid".
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is a treaty to protect wild animals and plants against over-exploitation through commercial trade. The signatories of the treaty, which came into force in 1975, are 182 countries and the European Union, with 5,600 animal and 30,000 plant species on their radar. The Johannesburg conference starting Saturday will sift through 62 proposals to tighten or loosen trade restrictions on some 500 species.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday proposed listing the rusty patched bumble bee, a prized but vanishing pollinator once widely found in the upper Midwest and Northeastern United States, for federal protection as an endangered species. One of several wild bee species seen declining over the past two decades, the rusty patched bumble bee is the first in the continental United States formally proposed for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Named for the conspicuous reddish blotch on its abdomen, the rusty patched bumble bee -- or Bombus affinis, as it is known to scientists -- has plunged in abundance and distribution by more than 90 percent since the late 1990s, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Hundreds of national wildlife refuges that provide critical habitat for migratory birds and other species are crippled by a staffing shortage that has curtailed educational programs, hampered the fight against invasive species and weakened security at facilities that attract nearly 50 million visitors annually, a group of public employees and law enforcement said Wednesday.
An enormous fire is destroying vast stretches of the Amazon rainforest in Peru, threatening natives and wildlife, officials said, blaming traditional slash-and-burn farming. The fire broke out on September 10 in an indigenous community called Pitsiquia, in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon, said the National Civil Defense Institute.
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — A huge bust of Hall of Fame Dolphins coach Don Shula that appears to be chipped from a stone and brick wall. Splashy swirls of graffiti spray-painted two stories tall along half a football field. A photo of Miami's cityscape at night, reimagined with layers of texture and colors.
By Ed Stoddard KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, South Africa (Reuters) - South Africa's Kruger National Park is littered in places with the trunks of trees uprooted and stripped of bark by a surging population of elephants, a frequent sight in the reserve. Africa's elephants are still threatened by poachers seeking to kill them for their ivory tusks but in several southern states populations have rebounded, helped by conservation policies and the remote locations where many of the herds live. The numbers are now so big that some countries say the world's largest land mammal is causing too much damage to crops, threatening the livelihoods of poor subsistence farmers and the populations of other species including birds, bats and woody plants in forests uprooted by elephants.
Brawling elephants triggered a stampede at a temple in southern Sri Lanka which left one woman dead and a dozen wounded, police said Saturday. A mahout tried to separate the two animals by poking one with a sharp-edged hook, causing the elephant to run away in pain late Friday, a police official said. "The elephant did not harm anyone, it was trying to get away from the mahout, but people panicked and started running," a local police official told AFP by phone.
In the future, it will be written that September 2016 was the month of “Kaepernick Anthem Takes,” With many athletes taking the lead of the San Fransico 49ers quarterback and not standing for the national anthem in protest of social injustices against African-Americans, your social media feed at any time throughout the day is guaranteed to be filled with an overdose of Kaepernick-‘Merica hot takes. A tweet posted to WPLG Channel 10 (Miami) news reporter Derek Shore’s account shows a group of Dolphins fans definitely doing the opposite of tweeting through it.
The species of alligator roaming Florida's swamps and golf courses may be millions of years older than previously thought, scientists from the University of Florida said. What's more, the sharp-toothed reptiles we see today may be almost biologically identical to their millennia-old ancestors — an incredibly rare trait for most living species, according to a pair of studies shared with Mashable this week. "What we saw 8 million years ago in Florida is virtually the same thing as what we have there today," Evan Whiting, the studies' lead author and a vertebrate paleontologist, said by phone from Gainesville. SEE ALSO: Greenland sharks could be the world's longest-living vertebrates Whiting and his research team compared the fossils of the American alligator ( Alligator mississippiensis ) with those of extinct alligator species. They found that the minute differences in each species' forms were instead just variations of the same singular species. Greetings from your nightmares. Image: RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images Their findings extend the American alligator's lineage by about 6 million years, according to the study published in the Journal of Herpetology . Scientists had previously believed the species emerged about 2 million years ago, when the most recent Ice Age began. "To hit this exact set of features in the American alligator, and for them to keep such a huge presence in the area that's now the Southeast U.S. for 7 to 8 million years, is nothing short of spectacular," Alex Hastings, the assistant curator of paleontology at the Virginia Museum of Natural History, told Mashable . "The fact that their populations are doing pretty well today is a testament to their evolutionary success," said Hastings, who was not involved in the University of Florida studies. The Florida researchers also found that, millions of years ago, American alligators shared the Florida peninsula with a species of 20-foot-long crocodiles, according to a separate study in the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. While the crocs fed mostly on marine-based prey, the alligators stuck to freshwater or terrestrial sources — a trait that still persists in American alligators, which lack the salt-secreting glands needed to thrive in saltwater. The Alligator mississippiensis has proved resilient to naturally occurring changes in the climate and environment over millions of years. But in the modern era, the species' survival is increasingly at risk. Map of the modern continental U.S. showing the rough geographic range of the American alligator.. Nebraska inset (top right) shows approximate localities for Alligator thomsoni (1) and Alligator mefferdi (2) fossils. Florida inset (bottom right) shows approximate localities for the Alligator olseni (3) fossils and the location of the Moss Acres Racetrack Alligator (4). Image: journal of herpetology/"Cranial Polymorphism and Systematics of Miocene and Living Alligator in North America" Florida's booming population and sprawling real estate have steadily destroyed the alligators' habitat in recent decades. The reptiles landed on the U.S. endangered species list in the late 1960s, although the species was removed in the 1980s after the population recovered thanks to habitat protection efforts. Encroaching on alligators' habitat has dangerous consequences for humans, as well. In June, an alligator killed a toddler visiting Walt Disney World in Orlando, marking the fourteenth deadly alligator attack in Florida since 2000. Human-caused climate change poses another serious threat to the American alligator. Florida's low-lying landscape and porous bedrock make it particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and saltwater intrusion, which could destroy the gators' freshwater dwellings along with homes and communities across the peninsula. An American Alligator swims in Everglades National Park, Florida, on June 23, 2016. Image: RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images "With increasing sea levels, we may see the available habitat for American alligators disappear," Whiting said. As Florida sinks underwater and global temperatures warm, the alligator may move north over centuries to perhaps as far north as modern-day South Dakota and Nebraska, where Alligator mississippiensis likely originated. "These things could be recolonizing parts of the United States that they haven't occupied in millions of years," Hastings said.
Donana National Park, part of southern Spanish wetland used by 6 million migratory birds, could dry out completely unless the Spanish government tackles the threat of dredging, mining and intensive farming, a report said on Thursday. The World Wildlife Fund said Spain was failing to safeguard the 54,000 hectare (209 square mile) site, which stretches along the Guadalquivir River at its estuary on the Atlantic Ocean in Andalusia. Poor management and over-extraction of water are causing Donana to dry out and the area now receives only 20 percent of its natural water input," WWF said in the report.
By Alister Doyle OSLO (Reuters) - Big fish and other large ocean creatures face higher risks of extinction than small ones, overturning a 500 million-year pattern and indicating that human hunting is to blame, scientists said on Wednesday. Fossils from five mass extinction events, most recently when an asteroid struck the Earth 65 million years ago, showed that small marine animals were slightly more likely to be wiped out than big ones in the pre-historic cataclysms, a study published in the journal Science said. By contrast, large modern fish such as tuna and sharks, as well as mammals including whales and seals were more likely to be on a global "Red List" of endangered species than small fish and molluscs.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - (Yesterday's story corrected to show in paragraph 6 that three marine mammals died within four months in late 2015 and early 2016 instead of three orcas died at SeaWorld's San Antonio park within a six-month span in 2015) California will no longer allow the breeding of captive killer whales such as those used in SeaWorld's famous "Shamu" shows under a measure signed on Tuesday by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. The move comes months after the embattled entertainment company pledged to stop breeding orcas, or killer whales, in captivity, amid criticism by animal rights groups and negative publicity linked to the documentary film "Blackfish." The company pledged last year to replace its signature Shamu killer whale shows in San Diego with modified presentations of the animals that focused on conservation.
Locals scuffled with animal rights activists Tuesday at a centuries-old Spanish festival held for the first time since the event was banned from spearing its half-tonne bull to death. "Bastard politicians, respect traditions," read a giant placard set up at the entrance to the central town of Tordesillas about 200 kilometres (120 miles) northwest of Madrid. Every September, men on horseback and on foot have chased a bull on a plain near the town and speared it to death in front of thousands of onlookers as part of the annual Toro de la Vega festival held for nearly seven centuries.
Animal rights activists clashed with locals holding an annual bull-lancing festival in central Spain on Tuesday at which participants were for the first time in centuries banned from killing a bull after chasing it on horseback. The "Toro de la Vega" (Bull of the Plain) festival, in the small town of Tordesillas, dates back to 1534 and traditionally involves hunters on horses and on foot hounding a bull from the streets into a pine forest until it is brought down with spears and lances. Regional authorities said in May that the festival could no longer culminate with the hunters slaying the bull.
The giant panda may have been taken off the endangered species list, but the emblematic black and white bear still faces a plethora of risks including epidemics and climate change, Chinese breeding centres say. Every morning, with the dawn light shimmering on their patchy coats the young residents of a panda breeding centre in southwestern China shred their favourite breakfast -- bamboo. The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding was set up in 1987 when the animals were considered to be under increasing threat of extinction -- a catastrophic scenario that seems to have been avoided for now.
Dolphins can carry on conversations in an advanced spoken language made up of pulses and whistles, a new study has found. While marine biologists have long understood that dolphins communicate within their pods, the new research, which was conducted on two captive dolphins, is the first to link isolated signals to particular dolphins. The findings reveal that dolphins can string together "sentences" using a handful of "words." "Essentially, this exchange of [pulses] resembles a conversation between two people," Vyacheslav Ryabov, the study's lead researcher, told Mashable . SEE ALSO: Marine conservation efforts just took a major step forward "The dolphins took turns in producing 'sentences' and did not interrupt each other, which gives reason to believe that each of the dolphins listened to the other's pulses before producing its own," he said in an email. "Pulse, pulse-pulse, pulse pulse pulse." Image: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images The study was published Aug. 21 in Physics and Mathematics , a journal of St. Petersburg Polytechnic University in Russia. Ryabov is a senior researcher with the T. I. Vyazemsky Karadag Scientific Station – Nature Reserve, which is located in Feodosia — a port town in Crimea, the Ukrainian territory that Russia annexed in 2014. For the study, Ryabov and his team recorded the acoustic signals of two quasi-stationary Black Sea bottlenose dolphins: Yasha, a male, and Yana, a female. The duo has lived in the same concrete pool for about 20 years and have normal hearing. Researchers used a two-channel system — with a frequency band of up to 220 kilohertz and a dynamic range of 81 decibels — to listen to "packs" of non-coherent pulses coming from each of the dolphins. Their audio recordings showed that the waveforms and spectra of each pulse changed from one pulse to another in every pack. This suggests "that the set of spectral components in each pulse is a 'word' of the dolphin's spoken language, and a pack of [non-coherent pulses] is a 'sentence,'" Ryabov said. "Dolphins' acoustic signals ... apparently are the signals of a highly advanced spoken language," he added. Example of the recordings displaying the sequence of the non-coherent pulse packs produced by Yana (down arrows) and Yasha (up arrows). The numbering of the packs corresponds to their sequence; I and II are the numbers of the recording channels. Image: T. I. Vyazemsky Karadag Scientific Station–Nature Reserve Michael Walsh, the clinical coordinator of the University of Florida's Aquatic Animal Health Program in Gainesville, said the dolphin study was an "important" development in the scientific quest to decode the acoustic signals of flippered mammals. Walsh, who has studied dolphins for around 30 years and is a former head veterinarian at SeaWorld in Florida, was not involved in Ryabov's research. Walsh said that, despite the excitement stirred up by the study, the finding that dolphins have conversations offers only a "small window" into understanding how dolphins actually relate to one another. For both dolphins and humans, the vast majority of our communication is non-verbal (or non-acoustic), meaning we largely convey thoughts and feelings through eye contact, body language, gestures and other forms that don't involve words and pulses. "There are many more aspects out there that are complementary [to language] and very important to how we understand animals in the wild," Walsh told Mashable . Beyond communication, he noted that marine wildlife experts across the U.S. are conducting extensive research on deafness in dolphins. A 2010 study, for instance, found that around half of bottlenose dolphins that are stranded on the beach had significant hearing deficits. "To me, that's ground-breaking," Walsh said of the research on dolphin deafness. "That results in them not being able to function anymore."
News flash to cat owners: Your indoor kitty is probably profoundly bored and unchallenged by its bottomless food bowl. Food puzzles are contraptions that make cats work for their food. The puzzles can be as simple as putting dry food in a closed and empty yogurt container and cutting a hole in the side, so that the cat has to bat around the container to get the food to fall out, the researchers said.