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Sun, 18 Feb 2018
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Animals

Eye 2

Signs and Portents: Two-headed snake found in China

two headed snake
While two headed snakes are found in the wild, a snake has one head on each end has shocked a passerby in China.

Mr Yang discovered a 20-centimetre-long (7.9 inches) reptile as he took a walk in a park after lunch in Qingyuan, Zhejiang Province on February 1.

Footage shows it writhing its body on the ground as Mr Yang used a stick to move it around carefully.

The two heads seem to be fighting each other to control the body.

The snake was released back to nature shortly after Mr Yang took a video and shared it online, according to QingYuan News.


Butterfly

Report shows a sharp drop in monarch butterflies wintering in California

Goleta Butterfly Grove

Goleta Butterfly Grove
The number of monarchs wintering in California has dropped to a five-year low, despite more volunteers counting more sites in search of the orange-and-black insect that is arguably the most admired of North American butterflies, a report said on Friday.

The latest tally of 200,000 monarchs in forested groves in California's central coast has dropped from the 1.2 million counted two decades ago, indicating the number of butterflies found west of the Rocky Mountains, or the so-called western population, continues to sharply decline, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation said in a report.

"It's certainly concerning," said Sarina Jepsen, endangered species program director for the Xerces Society.

Western monarchs are born on milkweed plants in such states as Arizona, Idaho, Utah and Washington before embarking on a seasonal migration to California.

Sheeple

Signs and Portents: Lamb born with 5 legs in Cornsay, UK

This little texel lamb was born two weeks ago at Lodge House farm in Cornsay, County Durham

This little texel lamb was born two weeks ago at Lodge House farm in Cornsay, County Durham
Just when you think you have seen it all.

This little female texel lamb was born two weeks ago at Lodge House farm in Cornsay, County Durham.

Her owner Angie Jewitt named her Hope because she beat the odds to be alive.

She now plans to keep the newborn as a pet.

Five-legged lambs are a one in a million occurrence in the UK.

And it's unclear what the odds of a five-and-a-half-legged lamb are.

Attention

17 rare river dolphins die in 4 months in Bangladesh

The river dolphin population in Bangladesh is dwindling

The river dolphin population in Bangladesh is dwindling
The official status of river dolphins is "critically endangered"

As many as 17 river dolphins have been found dead in Chittagong's Halda River since October last year.

Experts have mainly blamed pollution, river dredging and the plying of mechanized vessels for the deaths.

River dolphins, locally known as Shushuk, have been classified as "critically endangered" in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

Fifteen dolphins were found dead between October last year and January 5. Bodies of two more were found floating in the Halda River on January 20 and February 1.

According to Halda River Research Laboratory, the river dolphin population will not exceed 1,200 across the globe and about 250 of them are believed to be found in the Halda River.

Attention

5 dead dolphins found on the coast of Almeria, Spain

SAD SIGHT: One of the dolphins to become stranded last month.
© Equinac
One of the dolphins to become stranded last month.
Five dolphins have been left stranded on the Almeria coast since the turn of the year.

According to animal rescue agency Equinac, in the first month of 2018, five dolphins, one of them common, have been found dead, washed up on various parts of Almeria's coastline.

The animals were reportedly found on the Playa de los Genoveses, Nijar, Almerimar, El Ejido, Roquetas, Retamar and in the Cabo de Gata. The numbers follow an alarming trend in the region, which saw more than 155 animals stranded on Almerian beaches between 2013 and 2015. And data released by Equinac earlier this year revealed that an estimated 80 sea animals, including dolphins, whales and sea turtles, died on Almerian shores last year.

Attention

Thousands of dead penguins wash up on beaches in Northland, New Zealand

Thousands of blue penguins are dying on New Zealand's east coast, including in Northland.
© NZ Herald
Thousands of blue penguins are dying on New Zealand's east coast, including in Northland.
Rough seas and strong easterlies - and a successful breeding season - could be behind the deaths of possibly thousands of little blue penguins on Northland's east coast.

Many east coast beaches have been strewn with bodies of the world's smallest penguin species, in Maori called korora, along with shearwaters, petrels and other seabirds.

Although the sight has shocked some visitors to the region, even locals used to seeing dead seabirds are concerned at the number of birds in trouble and carcasses, Whangarei birdman Robert Webb said.

The Whangarei Bird Recovery Centre which he manages is caring for dozens of injured or exhausted seabirds brought in this week.

Comment: See also these 2 recent reports from other areas of New Zealand: Hundreds of dead and starving seabirds wash up on beaches at Tasman Bay, New Zealand

Mass of dead and dying seabirds on Bay of Plenty shores in New Zealand


Question

The riddle of hundreds of starlings falling from the sky in Rome

dead birds

Dead starlings in Rome
The flocks of starlings that create choreographed patterns in the skies over Rome have mysteriously lost their aplomb, with hundreds falling to their deaths after colliding with each other

The birds began plummeting from the sky last weekend, leaving a litter of tiny corpses across roads and pavements. Normally, they weave intricate shapes in the sky, twisting and turning in formations known as murmurations to deter predators while providing a show for locals.

But at Porta Pia, one of the gates of Rome, and in other neighbourhoods, residents had to tiptoe around fallen birds' bodies, while mopeds risked skidding on corpses crushed by passing cars. "It was like a Hitchcock film — there was a lot of blood and the smell became horrible," Paolo Peroso, head of the Porta Pia residents' association, said.

Black Cat

Tiger defies instincts to 'seek out human help' in Russian village after suffering painful gum problems

An endangered tigress defied all its normal instincts and walked out of the wild into a village to seek human help over a severe teeth and gum problem

An endangered tigress defied all its normal instincts and walked out of the wild into a village to seek human help over a severe teeth and gum problem
An endangered tigress defied all its normal instincts and walked out of the wild into a village to seek human help over a severe teeth and gum problem.

The rare predator - one of only 500 or so Siberian tigers living in their snowy natural habitat in eastern Russia - found a remote house and quietly lay down on the porch.

The big cats - the largest in the world - normally shun all human contact, but it was clear the exhausted and emaciated animal could no longer eat and needed urgent dental assistance.

Galina Tsimano, who lives in far-flung Solontsovy - 3,915 miles east of Moscow - explained how her neighbour on the outskirts of the village found the unexpected big cat on his doormat in the early morning.

Question

Millions of kangaroos wiped out by mystery disease that causes massive haemorrhages and internal bleeding

Red kangaroos have died from massive ­hemorrhaging and internal bleeding (stock image)

Red kangaroos have died from massive ­hemorrhaging and internal bleeding (stock image)
A mysterious illness has been killing millions of kangaroos which has left experts scratching their heads.

In NSW, wildlife researchers have found the red and grey varieties of kangaroos have died as a result of massive ­hemorrhaging and internal bleeding around the joints.

'You would see a whole family sitting there but they were all dead,' veterinarian Greg Curran told The Australian.

'It's a disease, it's not a genetic problem. We haven't been able to find a bacteria, we haven't been able to find a virus.

'Parasites, they aren't part of it. Given the huge area and different kinds of country and feed, its very unlikely to be a plant poisoning. You've ruled out all the known causes of diseases.

"The drop is so great it can't simply be due to culling rates. The number of ­animals that have been harvested for the meat market is low. It can't possibly be starvation or malnutrition,' Dr Curren added.

Attention

Large whales are dying along the East Coast at an alarming rate - 29 minkes in a year, 62 humpbacks in 2 years and 18 right whales in 8 months

whale
© Jason Minto, The News Journal
Three of the five large whale species known to frequent First State waters have been washing up on East Coast beaches at an alarming rate.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday announced minke whales - as well as humpback and endangered North Atlantic right whales - are experiencing what officials call "an unusual mortality event."

This is the first time the agency has seen three unusual mortality events of large whale species occur at the same time and in the same place, said Teri Rowles, coordinator of NOAA's Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Program.

"We're still going through the analysis to determine what might be the cause, and as we pull that information together across all the [species], then we'll have a better idea if there is a common causal or contributing agent that can be driving those [deaths]," Rowles said.