1 Tahrcountry Musings: December 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Frontiers For Tigers In Thailand

Thailand right now has a population of 720 tigers. Wildlife experts say this could go up to 2000 with sagacious planning. The basis for this enthusiastic forecast is based on a study by Thailand's Department of National Park, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation and the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society. The authors of the study conducted intensive surveys of tigers in Huai Kha Khaeng reserve, using camera traps. According to the scientists the primary thrust should be curtailing of habitat loss and strict enforcement of antipoaching activities. Thailand has some of the most notorious poachers in South East Asia. Another stumbling bock was the fact that until now the courts have refused to jail tiger traffickers, choosing instead to hand down small fines. December issue of the journal Oryx has all the details of this fascinating study which opens the door of hope for the Tiger enthusiasists against a global decline in population. The global estmate right now is around 500 tigers.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Driving Out Large Mammals – The Human Angle

The fact that human beings, in their inexorable desire for development, drive out large mammals from their habitat is an accepted fact. Now scientist have come out with facts and figures. The research was carried out by a team of scientists from Princeton University and WWF-US. Researchers found that at least 35% of mammals over 20kg had seen their range cut by more than half. The researchers compared the current ranges of the world's largest 263 land mammals with their distribution 500 years ago. Tigers, leopards, lions, American bison, elk and wolves have suffered the most. The details appear in the Journal of Mammalogy.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Return of the Beaver

Returning of locally extinct wildlife back to original habitat is music to the ears of conservationists. Here is some music from Scotland. Beavers were hunted to extinction in Scotland in the 16th Century. Now the the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland are planning to release beavers into the Scottish wild for the first time in 500 years. The first beavers could be reintroduced to Mid-Argyll in Scotland in spring 2009. Beavers play an important role in aquatic and wetland eco-systems. In Scotland it is expected to give a boost to tourism also.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

New National Park for Russian Tigers

Here is some happy news from Russia. The Russian Government is constitituting a new national park for the endangered Amur Tigers. Christened Anyuiskii national park this is in Khabarovsk province, located in the Russian Far East. The formal declaration came on December 15. Anyuiskii Park serves as an ecological corridor in the region and will become a link in the chain of ‘the tiger econet’, a network of protected areas, which is now being created. Tiger enthusiasists all over the world are elated at this initiative by Russian Government. Hats off to the conservationists who have worked hard to bring this dream to fruition.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Apes and Facial Mimicry

Another ability once thought to be exclusively human,mimicking expressions of others, has been breached. Research by behavioural scientist Marina Davila Ross and colleagues from University of veterinary medicine, Hanover,Germany has proved that Apes share this ability with us. In Apes mimicry was more prevalent in juveniles and adolescents. The findings suggests that this ability precedes the origin of our species. Full details appear in the latest issue of Biology letters.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Kicking the CO2 Habit

The United Nations is chipping in with its mite for worldwide effort to become climate neutral. Members of the UN attending the crucial climate convention meeting in Bali announced that they are offsetting their greenhouse gas emissions linked with travel to and from the event. The move also includes the Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, and his team. This is around 3,370 tonnes of carbon dioxide worth approximately $100,000 at current carbon prices. UN bodies have jointly agreed to invest in credits accumulating in the adaptation fund of the Kyoto Protocol. Norway, one of four countries that have pledged to go climate neutral nationally, reconfirmed that it is backing the UN system-wide work towards climate neutrality with an initial investment of $820,000 for the UNEP-hosted Environmental Management Group.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Long-Eared Jerboa caught on Film

The mysterious long-eared jerboa (Euchoreutes naso ) which hops like a kangaroo,has been caught on camera for the first time.The animal was flmed in the Gobi desert during an expedition led by Dr Jonathan Baillie of Zoological Society of London (ZSL). The distribution of this rare animal is restricted to deserts of China (Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang) and South of Mangolia(Trans-Altai Gobi). The species is classified as endangered on the IUCN Red list

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Building of Mental Maps by Elephants

Royal Society journal, Biology Letters has some interesting facts about elephants in the latest issue. Accounts of how Elephants build mental map of absent relatives by sniffing out their scent are fascinating. Elephants keep track on up to 30 absent relatives. The research was undertaken by the University of St Andrews. They studied 36 family groups of elephants living in Amboseli National Park. One of the ploys used was to collect samples of female elephant urine from the ground and present it to relatives to trick them into believing that the elephant had recently passed by. Elephants showed surprise when they encountered the scent. This and a host of other details will keep you riveted to the pages.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Photographic Memory of Chimps

Researchers of Kyoto University have come up with some amazing facts. In memory tests devised by Japanese scientists, young chimps outperformed university students. Dr Matsuzawa the lead scientist and colleagues tested three pairs of mother and baby chimpanzees against university students in a memory task involving numbers. Each subject was presented with various numerals from one to nine on a touch screen monitor. The numbers were then replaced with blank squares and the subjects had to remember which number appeared in which location, then touch the appropriate square. Young chimps outsmarted University students. The research is published in Current Biology.