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Thu, 24 May 2018
The World for People who Think



One in eight bird species are at risk of being wiped out, researchers warn

Puffins could be consigned to the history books as a report has found that it is one of the 40 per cent of bird species that are in decline.

Puffins could be consigned to the history books as a report has found that it is one of the 40 per cent of bird species that are in decline. One in eight is at risk of global extinction
Forty per cent of all bird species are in decline and one in eight is at risk of global extinction, according to a new report.

Iconic birds such as the snowy owl, turtle dove and the puffin are all struggling to survive and humans are to blame for the shrinking numbers, scientists warn.

Agriculture and logging are the main culprits, with climate change and hunting also a major concern.

Despite some limited conservation success over the past decade, the global crisis is worsening, scientists said.


Peeved pachyderms: Elephant kills 3 people in as many days in Nepal

Charging elephant
© Getty
Charging elephant
An adult male elephant at Parsa National Park (PNP) has killed three persons in the last three days. Just two days after killing Sadhu Kamalesh Giri on Thursday, the wild tusker attacked and killed Saga Bahadur Dong and Manmohan Dhakal on Saturday.

Haribhadra Acharya, the park's chief conservation officer, said the elephant has been wandering around Rambhauribhatha area for the past few weeks.

Sadhu Kamalesh, who was living in the forest for meditation, was killed on Thursday morning. His body was discovered on Friday.

Dong, a resident of Thori-4, Parsa, and Dhakal, who hailed from Manahari, Makwanpur, were attacked as they were visiting a fair on the New Year's day.

Comment: Elsewhere in just the past week wild elephants have killed a woman in Botswana, 2 children in Zimbabwe, 2 women in separate incidents in Tamil Nadu, India and cyclist in Bengal.

When taken in conjunction with the following selection of additional reports over the last year or so, it all seems to indicate an increasing trend of attacks lately.

Rogue elephant kills 15 people over a month in India

Two killed by elephant in West Bengal, India; 108 such deaths across the state in 2016

Wild elephant kills 4 in Tamil Nadu, India

Wild elephant kills two in Karnataka, India

Elephant kills 2 and injures 5 in Nepal

Woman killed by elephant at Kruger National Park, South Africa

As regards the 2nd report listed above it's also worth bearing in mind that 108 fatalities due to elephant attacks in just one state of India over a year does seem extremely high given the fact that some other sources claim that elephants kill a total of around 500 or 600 people annually across the world.


Dolphin found dead near Wellington, New Zealand - 3rd for the area in 2018

Department of Conservation workers collected the body of a dolphin found in Pauatahanui inlet just outside Wellington.
© Department of Conservation
Department of Conservation workers collected the body of a dolphin found in Pauatahanui inlet just outside Wellington.
A dolphin has been found dead in Pauatahanui inlet just outside Wellington.

The cause of death was unknown, and the body would be shipped to Otago University Marine team for inspection.

Department of Conservation (DOC) Wellington operations manager Jack Mace said the adult male was the third such discovery in Wellington this year.

"In this instance, a karakia was performed at the beach and Ngāti Toa Rangatira have approved the dolphin being sent to Otago University for teaching and research purposes."


Dead humpback whale found in cove at Lubec, Maine

A dead humpback whale was found floating in a Lubec cove, and scientists are eager to find the cause of its demise.
A dead humpback whale was found floating in a Lubec cove, and scientists are eager to find the cause of its demise.
A dead humpback whale was found floating in a Lubec cove, and scientists are eager to find the cause of its demise. The discovery comes at a time of increasing mortality rates for the species.

People who have seen the whale estimate it's about 26 feet long. Ralph Dennison, the Lubec Harbormaster, visited the shore at Boot Cove, near Quoddy Head, to get a view of the animal.

"It was just starting to get kind of bloated," Dennison said. "It had a seagull on it, starting to eat some of the carcass, and there was some eagles flying around, and bits of it starting to wash to shore. That wasn't pretty, but that's the way nature is, I guess."

Dennison, who also captains a whale watch boat, said that judging from the large size of this whale's pectoral fins, it was likely a humpback.


Here be monsters: Deep sea Java expedition uncovers over 800 bizarre new species

© South Java Deep Sea Expedition/National University of Singapore
New crab species dubbed “Big Ears”
A deep sea expedition to unexplored depths of the Indian Ocean has revealed a sea rich with peculiar inhabitants from over 800 species, including at least a dozen entirely new to science.

Among the extraordinary treasure trove of new creatures is a spider crab with fuzzy spines and blood-red eyes, a small wood-dwelling sea star, and a giant cockroach almost a foot (30 centimeters) long.

The monstrous-looking ocean dwellers were identified during the first such scientific expedition to the southern coast of West Java, Indonesia.

Around 12,000 specimens belonging to 800 species were collected during the two-week mission, while over a dozen new breeds of hermit crabs, prawns, lobsters, and crabs were discovered.


Belted kingfisher from North America turns up in the Isles of Scilly, UK

belted kingfisher on St Mary’s

The belted kingfisher on St Mary’s
An unusual visitor from the US is getting bird watchers in a flap — because it is only the fourth time it has been seen in the UK.

The arrival of a belted kingfisher on St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly is a bit of a mystery, said ornithologist Will Wagstaff.

'We've had the wrong wind for it. We expect American birds with westerlies but we've had southerlies and southeasterlies,' he said.

The mild autumn may have seen the bird 'hang around in Europe' before heading north. Another US bird — a laughing gull — was recently seen on the nearby island of St Martin's. 'That's not as rare by any stretch but still a good rarity,' he said.


Shark attack in Keoneloa Bay, Hawaii

shark attack
Dylan McWilliams, a visitor from Colorado was attacked by a small shark at Shipwreck's Beach early Thursday.

McWilliams, a 29-year-old bodyboarder, was surfing in Keoneloa Bay about 7:30 a.m. when he was attacked by an estimated six-foot shark. Spectators say the man was bitten on the right leg while floating north of Shipwreck's and close to the jumping cliff favored by area fishermen.

Beach-goers said the surfer suffered three small puncture wounds. Emergency responders stopped the initial bleeding. The man sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported by a private vehicle to seek medical care.


Old woman killed by bison in Maharashtra, India

Wild gaur

Wild gaur
A senior citizen was mauled to death in a bison attack on Thursday morning at the forest officials' colony at Radhanagari.

According to the forest officials, Rakhamabai Shelke (65), mother of the forest guard (wildlife) Ranjana Shelke, was sweeping the front yard of their home at around 6.15am when the lone bison attacked her. She died on the spot.

Shelke was a resident of the colony for past one-and-a-half year. Range forest officer (wildlife) Ajit Sajane saw the attack while he was on his way for the morning walk.

Comment: Other such attacks in recent years include: Gaur (Indian bison) gores farmer to death in Goa, India

Wild gaur attacks two children in Tamil Nadu, India; second recent incident for the area

Woman dies following attack by wild gaur in Tamil Nadu, India; 3rd such incident for the locality in 2 years


Soon the largest creature on Earth will be a cow!

© Tony Hutchings/Getty Images
Land of the giants. For your great, great grandchildren, cows might be the biggest megafauna around.
In a couple of hundred years the largest animal walking on land may well be a cow, new modelling predicts.

A paper published in the journal Science uncovers for the first time a startling correlation between human migration and the extinction of large animals.

The link between the loss of big creatures and the spread of Homo sapiens and other hominin species was well established by the time humans left Africa around 125,000 years ago, researchers led by biologist Felisa Smith of the University of New Mexico, US, found.

With no indication that the trend is abating, the team predicts that all currently endangered large terrestrial species will pass within the next couple of centuries, leaving cows, at an average weight of 900 kilograms, the biggest things left.

To make their finding, the scientists used two data sets. The first was a global record of all terrestrial species known, and classified according to body mass and diet, for the late Quaternary period, which started around a million years ago. The second was a similar record for all known species in the Cenozoic period, which started 66 million years ago and is known colloquially as the Age of Mammals.

Black Cat

Horror as leopard severely mauls tourist dragging him from camper van by his head in Namibia

Hardy was badly injured

Hardy was badly injured
A german tourist has been left with horrific injuries after being mauled by a leopard which savaged his head in Namibia.

Hardy Specker, 61, and partner Petra Windmeisser, 60, had pulled over to sleep in the Kuiseb Canyon in Namibia when a scratching noise woke them up.

Mr Specker got up to shut the window at around 1am, but the beast jumped up and gripped his head in his claws and jaws.

Ms Windmeisser engaged in a tug of war with the leopard trying to drag her husband back in through the window by his legs.

She told The Namibian he was screaming as the leopard's claws tore out bits of his skin.