Sea Turtle Recovering After Being Stepped on and Beaten for Selfies
The animal is receiving care from a rescue group after incident on a Lebanon beach, which is the latest in a string of attacks on wildlife.
This female loggerhead turtle is recovering at Animals Lebanon after a harrowing day at the beach.
Photogrpah by Jason Mier, Animals Lebanon
By Brian Clark Howard
PUBLISHED June 24, 2016
An endangered loggerhead sea turtle suffered a painful ordeal on a beach in Lebanon last week, when people allegedly dragged it out of the surf, stepped on it to take selfies, and then beat it with sticks.
Suffering serious injuries, including cracked bones on its head, the female turtle was rescued and is being rehabilitated by the charity group Animals Lebanon.
That group is working with the country's Ministry of Agriculture and Civil Defense to "make sure this sea turtle does not die from this unnecessary, avoidable, and illegal cruelty," Animals Lebanon writes on its website.
Harassment of the animal reportedly took place at Havana Beach in Beirut. After someone allegedly dragged it onto the beach from the water, a crowd gathered around it. A child stood on the turtle's back while people snapped photos.
At the Animals Lebanon facility, the turtle is being treated with antibiotics and has received x-rays.
"The damage is visible and evident—the blows and trauma she suffered have broken through the top of her head, and water from the sea has reached her sinus cavities," the group writes.
The charity is working with vets to help the turtle recover. Without help, the injuries had a good chance of being fatal. (Learn about the death of a bison calf in Yellowstone after tourists picked it up.)
Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) are endangered. Persistent population declines due to pollution, shrimp trawling, and development in their nesting areas, among other factors, have kept this wide-ranging seagoer on the threatened species list since 1978.
Over the past few years, activists have worked to protect nesting sites on southern Lebanon beaches from development, sometimes clashing with local government.
The largest of all hard-shelled turtles, loggerheads have massive heads, strong jaws, and a reddish-brown shell, or carapace. Adult males reach about three feet (nearly one meter) in shell length and weigh about 250 pounds (113 kilograms), but large specimens of 1,000 pounds (454 kilograms) have been found.
The turtles range around the world, in all but very cold water. They primarily eat fish and invertebrates, with some seagrasses. Starting around age 25, mature females often return to the beach where they hatched to lay their eggs, often traveling thousands of miles.
News of the turtle's attack comes a few months after outrage was sparked when a baby dolphin died in Argentina, after a crowd of people passed it around for photos. Last week, a jaguar that was used in an Olympic torch ceremony in Brazil was killed, after it tried to escape. A few years ago, a woman was arrested for riding a manatee in Florida.
Such incidents raise questions about humans' relationship to other living things, particularly in an era of selfies and social media.
For Zebras on the Run, Stripes May Provide Protection
The theory known as “motion dazzle” suggests that dramatically patterned animals in motion can confuse, and elude, their predators.
Photograph by Martin Harvey, Corbis
By Rachel Hartigan Shea
This story appears in the July 2016 issue of National Geographic magazine.
If a zebra zigs, will its stripes make a predator zag? That’s the idea behind motion dazzle, a century-old hypothesis about why some animals sport high-contrast patterns. Unlike camouflage, which allows prey to blend into surroundings, motion dazzle may mask movement, confusing predators about direction and speed. “We have all these ideas about animal patterns,” says Cambridge University biologist Laura Kelley, “but very few of these hypotheses have actually been tested.”
To find out whether patterns make prey difficult to catch, Kelley and her colleagues have developed an online game with humans as the predators. Dazzle Bug players try to nab patterned “bugs” skittering across natural backgrounds. The easy-to-catch critters disappear; the evasive ones reproduce. Eventually only the hardest-to-catch patterns remain. Says Kelley, “We’re trying to determine the ideal pattern for avoiding capture during movement.”
World's Ugliest Dog winner is blind chihuahua with oozing sore
Owner will use $1,500 for removal of tumor on SweePee Rambo’s gum
Himisaboo, ‘dog that looks like Donald Trump’, fails to place
Worst in show: how the world’s ugliest dogs get competition ready: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jun/24/how-worlds-ugliest-dog-get-ready-california
Associated Press in Petaluma, California
Saturday 25 June 2016 20.41 BST
A 17-year-old Chinese crested chihuahua with legs bowed out like a frog and an oozing sore won the 2016 World’s Ugliest Dog contest on Friday night.
SweePee Rambo took home the title at the annual Petaluma World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds after besting 15 other malformed pooches, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported.
Judges in the contest, now on its 28th year, take into account factors including stench, poor complexion and other inherited and acquired maladies.
SweePee has a mohawk that glistens in the sun and a tongue that sticks out. She is blind in both eyes and has to wear doggie diapers.
Owner Jason Wurtz, 44, of Encino, said he got the dog as a gift for his first wife but after a week she didn’t want anything to do with it. Wurtz said he couldn’t bear to let her go, calling her a “ride or die chick” in the description he wrote for the contest.
When the 4lb dog was announced the winner, Wurtz’s younger brother, Jeffrey Wurtz, burst into tears, shouting SweePee’s name and shaking a homemade sign that read “SweePee Rambo for President 2016”.
The presidential election was a theme throughout the contest. One pup named Himisaboo, who didn’t place, had a flowing golden tuft that resembled that of the presumptive Republican nominee.
“Whether you love him, or loathe him, a vote for Himisaboo is a vote for a dog that looks like Donald Trump,” said Heather Wilson, Himisaboo’s owner, who drove from Idaho for the occasion.
Jason Wurtz and SweePee took the title and trophy and a prize of $1,500. Wurtz said he would use the money to pay for the removal of a tumor that recently popped up on SweePee’s gum line.
How the dormouse is returning to England’s hedgerows after 100 years
Moves to save the tiny woodland mammal from extinction could herald the reintroduction of larger lost species such as the wolf and sea eagle
Sunday 26 June 2016 07.30 BST
More than 100 years after they were last recorded by Victorian naturalists in Yorkshire’s Wensleydale valley, rare dormice have returned to a secret woodland location there.
Last Thursday, 20 breeding pairs of rare hazel dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius) were reintroduced in the Yorkshire Dales national park as part of a national scheme to reverse the decline of one of Britain’s most threatened mammals.
The tiny, golden-brown creatures, known for their sleepy disposition and winter hibernation, were once widespread throughout England and Wales. Exact numbers are unknown, but their distribution and population has declined significantly over the past 100 years, and the species is now classed as vulnerable to extinction.
We want to create a landscape for dormice and that will make the population more robust
Dormice depend on well-managed woodlands and healthy, connected hedgerows for their survival. But changes in land use since the second world war have been so drastic that the dormice that remain in southern Britain have limited living space and are increasingly isolated.
“Throughout most of our history we have used and managed woodlands, but since the end of the last war that stopped,” said Ian White, who as dormouse officer of the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES)is in charge of the reintroduction programme. “Now woods are mostly used for people to walk their dogs. The dormouse is a species that really benefits from that management – it’s because we stopped that they struggled and became extinct in places.”
Last week’s release, led by the PTES and supported by a coalition of conservation groups, is the 22nd in the last 23 years. More than 800 dormice have been released at 21 different sites across 12 English counties where they had become extinct.
“One of the exciting things about this release is that dormice were known to be at Wensleydale valley in 1885, so we really are putting them back within the counties where they have been lost,” said White.
Ahead of the release, he and his team found a site of dense, good quality woodland while the captive-bred dormice waited in quarantine. After checks by vets, the dormice were then paired up and placed in “soft release” cages – secure wooden nest boxes fitted to the trees and surrounded by a metre-square mesh cage that allows them to gradually acclimatise to their new habitat.
For 10 days, the dormice will be checked and fed daily, then a small opening will be made, allowing them the freedom to explore their new home while retaining the security of the cage. These will be removed in October, when the animals start to hibernate.
“The hope is that we have a free-living population in the wood, but we won’t know how they have fared until next year,” said White. Unsuitable habitat, captive-bred animals and incorrect management could all scupper the chances of success. A distinctive factor of this release is the aim of linking up with another released dormouse population three miles away by managing the land between. “We want to create a landscape for dormice and that will make the population more robust,” said White.
Woodlands were traditionally managed through coppicing, which provided varied food and plenty of light for dormice. But the practice has been lost, with remaining woodland sliced up by roads, railways and fields. England lost more than 50% of its hedgerows between 1946 and 1993, from an estimated 500,000 miles to 236,000. And as dormice spend all their time off the ground, the scheme aims to create links between populations in the form of improved hedgerows, woods and drystone walls.
“It’s very important that we reintroduce the dormouse because they are a good species to get people involved with conservation,” said White. “They are a fascinating species that is rare but you can still see. They promote good woodland management and what’s good for dormice is good for a large range of species like birds, bats and butterflies.”
Helen Meech, the director of Rewilding Britain, an organisation campaigning to restore lost species and habitats to the British countryside, said that such reintroductions would increase people’s tolerance to living with more wild animals once again.
“People’s everyday wildlife experience is becoming grey squirrels and pigeons,” she said. “We are increasingly disconnected from nature. In 30 to 40 years’ time, we might get to the point where we can start to think about bringing back wolves, bison or moose, but let’s start with species that will have a lighter impact for now.”
Lost British species
Over centuries, Britain has lost many key species such as beaver, boar and wolf that are critical for healthy ecosystems. Here are some of the species conservationists are proposing to reintroduce…
Believed to have disappeared from Britain about 1,000 years ago. Experts say the return of the lynx would help control the fast-growing population of red deer, allowing forests to regenerate and support greater biodiversity. The preference of the Lynx, a shy animal, to stay in its woodland habitat would make a threat to livestock or humans unlikely. The Lynx UK Trust is seeking a licence for trial releases in Scotland and the Kielder forest in Northumberland.
After an absence of 400 years, beavers are back in Britain. The Devon Beaver project cites improvements in biodiversity and water after the reintroduction of a pair near Okehampton in 2011. Scotland’s first reintroduction, in Knapdale forest in 2009, was hailed an “outstanding success”, but an unlicensed free-living population in the river Tay has caused problems. Wales also has reintroduction plans.
Lost to Britain in the 1700s, the wolf is the most controversial species proposed for reintroduction given its potential to kill livestock. But they are critical to the restoration of ecosystems that have been overgrazed by deer. Despite their fearsome reputation, they present a low risk to people. Because of the space a wolf population would need, the Scottish Highlands would be the obvious place for their reintroduction and could generate millions of pounds in tourism.
The sea eagle, also known as the white-tailed eagle, was driven to extinction in Britain earlier this century. A reintroduction programme by Scottish Natural Heritage and the RSPB has seen it return to the Inner Hebrides island of Mull. Proposals to bring it back to the east of England failed following concerns from landowners about the threat to livestock. Successful schemes in Europe have offered compensation.
Boar disappeared in the 13th century because of hunting. They increase biodiversity and create space for trees and plants to grow, but can cause damage to crops and gardens. The species has been quietly re-establishing itself in the woodlands of Britain for several decades.
Orphaned tree kangaroo is all grown up and going to live in Singapore
Makaia was raised in Adelaide zoo by a yellow-footed rock wallaby but is on his way to Singapore zoo, hopefully to mate with a Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo
Australian Associated Press
Monday 27 June 2016 06.18 BST
An orphaned Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo that was saved when it was adopted by a wallaby is set to leave Adelaide zoo for a new home in Singapore.
In what was regarded as a world first for the endangered species, Makaia, whose mother died suddenly when he was seven weeks old, was saved in 2014 when vets and keepers used cross-fostering to have him raised by a yellow-footed rock wallaby.
“Cross-fostering” is a breeding technique that Adelaide zoo began pioneering in the 1990s. It involves transferring endangered joeys to the pouch of a surrogate mother of a different wallaby species.
— Nine News Adelaide (@9NewsAdel)
June 27, 2016
Orphan tree kangaroo heads to Singapore: https://t.co/jiUshJdTpu
Makaia stayed with his surrogate mother for more than three months and grew to a healthy, maturing adult.
The zoo has been successful over the years cross-fostering between wallaby species, but it had never been used on a Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo so it was a huge achievement, a senior vet, Ian Smith, said.
“He is extremely genetically valuable for the region and we are hopeful he will form an important part of the international breeding program working to save this endangered species from extinction,” he said.
Orphaned tree kangaroo raised by surrogate wallaby mother in Adelaide zoo
Makaia had his final health checks on Monday and will leave for Singapore zoo next week.
Once he settles in it is hoped he will mate with another tree kangaroo sent from Sydney’s Taronga zoo.
Agency to sterilize mustangs for first time to slow growth
Originally published June 26, 2016 at 3:54 pm Updated June 26, 2016 at 10:53 pm
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will begin sterilization of the West’s overpopulated wild mustang herds, though ranchers continue to call for their slaughter
By SCOTT SONNER
The Associated Press
RENO, Nev. — Mustang advocates across the West are condemning a new approach by a federal agency to sterilize wild horses on U.S. rangeland to slow the growth of herds.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management also continues to resist calls from ranchers and some House Republicans to euthanize or sell for slaughter the animals overflowing holding pens to clear the way for more roundups.
Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director Steve Ellis delivered those messages at an emotional congressional hearing last week. He spoke of the challenges facing the agency that has long struggled with what it says is a $1 billion problem.
Highlights of the hearing included Nevada’s state veterinarian calling for the roundup and surgical sterilization of virtually every mustang in overpopulated herds, a protester who briefly interrupted the proceedings by denouncing “welfare ranchers,” and an Arkansas congressman speaking about his puppy getting neutered.
Rep. Tom McClintock, chairman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, took aim at those who object to euthanizing mustangs “and yet seem perfectly willing to watch them succumb to excruciating death by starvation, dehydration and disease.”
“That is the future we condemn these animals to if we don’t intervene now,” the California Republican said.
Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., said the 1971 law protecting mustangs allows for their destruction if they go unadopted. But since 2012, Congress has required horse purchasers to sign documents promising not to resell them for slaughter, and the Bureau of Land Management opposes lifting those restrictions.
Ellis said the estimated 67,000 wild horses and burros on federal land in10 states is 2.5 times more than the range can support. However, there’s no more room in government corals and leased pastures, where 47,000 horses cost taxpayers about $50,000 per head over the course of their lifetimes.
Ellis said the agency’s “road map to the future” includes use of temporary contraceptive vaccines as well as sterilization.
“We feel that before we can implement a spay-neuter program on the range, we’ve got to do the research to make sure we can do it efficiently and safely,” he said. “It is going to take a little time to do that.”
Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, head of the Natural Resources Committee, said it’s time to have “that real tough conversation about something more permanent.”
Other Republicans turned on the lone horse advocate called to testify — Ginger Kathrens, founder of The Cloud Foundation based in Colorado Springs, Colo., and member of the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse Advisory Committee.
But Kathrens said most Americans want to see mustangs “roam freely on their native home ranges as intended.”
“Castration, sterilization and long-term confinement of horses in holding facilities … is unnecessary, cruel, unhealthy and fiscally irresponsible,” she said.
Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., countered that “thousands of domesticated animals are spayed and neutered every day.”
“I’ve got a new puppy and he’s got his day coming soon,” he said.
That prompted an outburst from Edita Birnkrant, campaigns director for Friends of Animals.
“They are wild animals. They are not cats and dogs,” she shouted as McClintock banged the gavel and called for her to be removed from the area. “The solution is getting welfare ranchers off of our public lands, which have been turned into feedlots,” she continued.
J.J. Goicoechea, the Nevada Department of Agriculture’s veterinarian and a longtime rancher, urged the gathering of “as close to 100 percent of horses as we can” in overpopulated herds for surgical sterilization before returning some to the range.
“Those of us who truly make a living caring for animals … have a moral obligation to manage populations in balance with natural resources,” he said.