Kangaroo Dundee: saving orphaned joeys

I caught the end of a BBC documentary yesterday called Natural World and from what I could gather, it was about a man in Australia working to help orphaned kangaroos. Brolga, otherwise known as Chris Barns, first established a kangaroo rescue centre for joeys in Alice Springs in 2005. He rescues and cares for orphaned baby kangaroos by becoming their mum and letting them live in safety on the sanctuary, which he opened in 2011, with other rescued marsupials.

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Credit: Helen Orr

Kangaroos are the largest species of marsupial (mammals that carry their young in a pouch) in the world. There are four species of kangaroo, with the red kangaroo weighing in at a whopping 90kg and measuring two metres tall. They are instantly recognisable by their large feet and long muscular tails, which help them balance when hopping at speeds of 60kph.

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Credit: Melanie de Coster

From the segment I saw (hopefully I’ll be able to catch the full programme on BBC iPlayer), Brolga is clearly very passionate about what he does and loves each and every one of the joeys he cares for. Many kangaroos are orphaned as a result of road accidents or their mothers being hunted for their meat and skin, which is why Brolga’s work is so important – without him the baby kangaroos would surely die.

To find out more about this amazing sanctuary and discover how you can help support the sanctuary and kangaroo hospital, click here.

International Women’s Day – celebrating the females of the animal kingdom

Every year on the 8 March, females are celebrated for their brilliance and amazing achievements, and the issue of inequality and bias is brought to the forefront.

This International Women’s Day I want to raise awareness of the strong, powerful and overall amazing females of the animal kingdom.

animal big standing fur

Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

Despite being better known as the ‘King of the Jungle’, it’s actually the female African lions who lead the prides. They spend their whole lives in the area they were born in giving them the advantage of knowing where all the best hunting grounds and watering holes are. They are also pretty good at defending their cubs against aggressive adult males (who commonly seek to kill cubs belonging to other males to ensure the survival of their own offspring), hunting and protecting their territory.

Orcas, otherwise known as killer whales, have been known to live into their 90s. The pod is led by a matriarch who holds valuable knowledge on their surrounding area as to where the best food can be found.

large elephants near lake

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When it comes to elephants, herds are led by the largest and eldest female cow, also known as the matriarch. They are the ones who have earned the respect of the rest of the herd based on their confidence, wisdom and the connections and relationships they have with the other elephants. The group, which is made up of the matriarch’s daughters and granddaughters, will rely on this elder to make the major decisions in times of crisis and lead them to reliable food sources.

To create life there must be a male and a female, right? Wrong. There are some species on this planet in which the females are able to reproduce offspring all on their own. This includes the largest lizard on Earth, the Komodo dragon. The process is known as parthenogenesis – laying eggs without having mated. Female Komodo dragons have both the male and female sex chromosomes allowing them to develop perfectly healthy embryos.

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Photo by THESP4N1SH

Another interesting female within the animal kingdom is the octopus. It is not uncommon for a female octopus – which are often much larger than the males – to strangle the male octopus with her tentacles and eat him after they have mated.

Celebrating World Wildlife Day 2019

Since 2013, the 3 March has been recognised as UN World Wildlife Day – a day in which the world’s wild animals and plants are celebrated with the aim of raising awareness of their existence, the benefits of conservation efforts and, quite often, the risks these animals are facing.

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Photo by Belle Co on Pexels.com

This year’s theme was “Life below water: for people and planet”, shining a spotlight on the creatures living beneath the waves for the first time in the day’s history. According to the World Wildlife Day official website, almost 200,000 species have so far been identified but there could be millions more out there just waiting to be found. Over three billion people also depend on these waters but sadly, the ocean is under great threat.

It’s estimated that as much as 40% of our world’s oceans are heavily affected by over exploitation of its marine species, wildlife crime, pollution, climate change and loss of coastal habitats.

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Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

You may be reading this and thinking “well, what good could I do? I can’t get out in to the ocean to help!” The good news is, you don’t have to. There are plenty of things you can do to help and you don’t even need to leave dry land. National Geographic has put together a helpful list but here’s a few things to get you started:

  • Reduce your carbon footprint by swapping lifts and escalators for stairs; walk or cycle instead of using the car for short journeys; and put layers on indoors instead of turning up the heating.
  • Use less plastic by carrying a refillable water bottle, taking reusable bags when you go shopping and storing food in non-disposable containers.
  • Support the businesses that help protect the oceans either by making financial donations or volunteering your time.

Saving the endangered ibis four young birds at a time

This week four endangered northern bald ibis, who were bred at ZSL London Zoo, were safely transported to Spain. This is where they will soon be released as part of a special conservation project, which is helping reintroduce these unique looking birds to Europe.

Northern bald ibis 3 (c) ZSL London Zoo

ZSL London Zoo

The quartet – who were lovingly nicknamed Iris, Indigo, Igor and Ivan by the zoo’s keepers – hatched last year. On 20 February, they travelled to Southern Spain’s Jerez Zoo where they will learn how to be wild before being released in Andalucia.

The species vanished from Europe almost 300 years ago. It’s now believed that there are just 600 northern bald ibis left in the world, reduced to one small part of Morocco (and two breeding pairs in Syria) where they are threatened by habitat loss, hunters and pesticides.

“We’re really hopeful that they’ll go on to breed in the wild – ultimately securing the future of the species” said Paul Atkin, ZSL London Zoo’s bird keeper.

To find out more about the northern bald ibis, head to birdlife.org

Sensational species Saturday: the mighty mountain gorilla

These incredible creatures can only be found in two parts of Africa – the rainy, cold mountain forests of Virunga Volcanoes and the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

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wwf-congobasin.org

Much of their habitat has been lost to make way for farms and homes. Weighing up to 180kg, these mighty mammals are rarely poached by humans but this doesn’t mean that they don’t get caught up in traps and snares, that have been set up to catch other animals such as buffalo or antelope. Since they’re so similar to us, they can also catch human illnesses – even the common cold.

It’s not all bad news however as since 2010, these creatures have experienced an increase of 25%. This is thanks to intensive conservation work, which focusses on helping locals and gorillas live along side one another in harmony. For example, the International Gorilla Conservation Programme, along with WWF, helped reduce the locals need to enter into the gorilla’s habitats along with promoting eco-tourism projects to help these locals earn a living from gorilla conservation. The most recent count revealed that there are more than 600 individuals living in the wild.

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iucnredlist.org

ZSL welcomes baby tamandua!

On 31 May, London Zoo announced that they’d recently had a surprise arrival at the zoo. Meet Poco – the tiny tamandua.

Tamandua baby (c) ZSL London Zoo 1

Tamandua baby (c) ZSL London Zoo

Poco was born to proud parents Ria and Tobi (who only moved to the zoo last October as a hopeful companion). Keepers welcomed the newborn’s arrival, which took place just five months after the pair of tamanduas had been introduced. The cute Easter arrival clung to Ria’s fur but now, at two months old, Poco is beginning to venture away to explore the Rainforest Life home.

Tamanduas are nocturnal creatures, native to South America. Part of the anteater family, these mammals are impressive climbers and have tongues that can grow up to 40cm long. This species has very small eyes and poor vision, so relies on its hearing and strong sense of smell.

Tamandua baby (c) ZSL London Zoo 2

Tamandua baby (c) ZSL London Zoo

Get involved in the Great British Bee Count 2018

This year at Dennis Publishing, the company is supporting The Bumblebee Conservation Trust – a UK based charity dedicated to reversing the dramatic decline in the bumblebee population by ensuring the country is filled with suitable habitats rich in colourful wildflowers.

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uksafari.com @2009 Rosemary Lehan

Bumblebees are vital in the survival of the planet. These small striped creatures, along with other insects, are responsible for pollinating more than 80% of the crops grown for humans to eat – that’s around 400 different types of plants, including fruits, vegetables and nuts. However, our wild bee population still faces many threats from intensive farming, habitat loss and climate change.

On 17 May, Friends of the Earth launched their fifth annual Great British Bee Count. They’re encouraging the public to identify and record all of the different species of bee they spot until 30 June – of which approximately 270 have been recorded in Great Britain. To help with telling the different bees apart, Friends of the Earth have published a handy identification guide, which can be found here.

Nature: Exploring my forte

My writing career began at one of the most famous wildlife and nature titles in the world… National Geographic Kids. Now, among other pages, I’m the sole writer of the Animals and the Environment page for The Week Junior and have never been happier to provide content on such a wonderful topic that is so close to my heart.

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Every week, I research and pitch stories suitable for the Animals and the Environment section of the magazine, but since we are limited to the number of stories we can feature, many amazing tales go untold. So each week, I’m planning on sharing my favourite wildlife story to spread awareness and, overall, joy when it comes to the wonderful world of nature.

The natural world

#181: Describe your first memorable experience exploring and spending time in nature. Were you in awe? Or were you not impressed? Would you rather spend time in the forest or the city?

 

I’ve been thinking about this for at least 20 minutes and, quite sadly, have to admit that I can’t think of a single time where I’ve explored/spent a substantial amount of time (not even half an hour!) just taking in nature. I do remember when I was younger spending time lying on the grass, watching the butterflies flitting around our huge buddleia tree in the garden but I’m guessing that doesn’t count. Although I do remember how enchanting it was to watch them – sounds silly but they do have a mysterious way of moving and just being. 

 

That said, I would love nothing more to go to somewhere like Borneo (Orangutans), Rwanda (Gorillas), Uganda (Chimpanzees), or even on an African Safari (Giraffes, Elephants, Lions etc) where I could simply sit and watch the wild animals live their lives. I can imagine that is an absolutely incredible thing to witness!