The maleo is an endangered bird found only on the island of Sulawesi, in Indonesia. The maleo is about the size of a chicken, but it lays eggs up to five times as large as chicken eggs. The bird has yellow facial skin, a red-orange beak, a black ‘helmet’, and a black back and pink stomach.
Recently, the conservation of this strange bird has been helped by the purchase and protection of a stretch of beach used for breeding. The maleo buries its eggs in the warm sand of the beach to incubate. The eggs are then abandoned. Upon hatching, the chicks are able to fly and live on their own.
The stretch of beach was purchased for approximately $12,500. Funds were donated by the Lis Hudson Memorial Fund and the company Quvat Management. The 36 acre beach is now owned by Pelestari Alam Liar dan Satwa, known as PALS, a local conservation group.
A recently hatched rare reptile, the tuatara, has been discovered in New Zealand for the first time in 200 years. The species’ lineage dates back to the dinosaur age. The tuatara was found in the wild in the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellington.
While numbering in the tens of thousands on the islands surrounding New Zealand, the tuatara was nearly extinct on the main island. Their near extinction was brought about by the introduction of predators, including rats.
The hatching of the tuatara is a sign that reintroduction and conservation efforts are working.
The Florida panther, a small subspecies of the cougar that inhabits southwest Florida, has grown in population from a mere 20 cats in the 1970s to 100 panthers currently.
However, the US Fish and Wildlife Service will only deem their conservation plan successful when three colonies of 240 panthers thrive. In the current space of 3500 square miles, this may not be possible. Scientists believe the area has reached maximum capacity for the large felines.
So far, possible plans to establish cougar colonies in Arkansas, Georgia, and northern Florida have not come to fruition. In the meantime, human population and development has increased significantly in southwest Florida in past years, decreasing the possiblity of expanding the panther population there.
At a national conference held in Rapid City, South Dakota, the Wildlife Conservation Society released a survey regarding how people view the American bison. According to the results, most of the people surveyed value the herd animal as a national symbol. However, less than 10% of those surveyed understood the status of the bison population in North America today.
Before European settlers came to the New World, the American bison numbered at around 30 million, and their range stretched all the way from Alaska to Mexico. Today, only 16,000 bison freely roam in North America.
The Wildlife Conservation Society hopes to promote the restoration of bison populations by appealing to government agencies, conservation groups, and ranchers. Ecological restoration of the American bison would mean that large herds could roam freely within their historic range and interact with other native species.
The Cincinnati Zoo has announced the arrival of three male cheetah cubs. The cubs were bred at the zoo’s cheetah breeding facility, Mast Farm, in Clermont County, Ohio. Two will be transferred to the Columbus Zoo, while the other, Tommy T, will remain at the Cincinnati Zoo in the Cat Ambassador Program. You can follow Tommy T’s everyday activities in the blog, www.cheetahdays.com.
The success of the zoo’s breeding efforts is significant. Cincinnati Zoo has partnered with the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Namibia, Africa, the Columbus Zoo and the De Wildt Cheetah & Wildlife Trust in South Africa to preserve the species. The IUCN currently characterizes cheetahs in the wild as vulnerable and in decline mainly due to loss of habitat and fragmentation.
Popi, the orangutan who starred as Clint Eastwood’s pet in the movie Any Which Way You Can and who later headlined a slapstick comedy show in Las Vegas has recently moved to Iowa’s Great Ape Trust. The 37-year-old ape is the oldest of six total orangutans at the research and conservation center. Popi has already settled in and befriended two of the other orangutans.
Robert Shumaker, the trust’s orangutan research director, regards the arrival of Popi as a significant event. “I think as far as ape welfare, this is one of the most important things I’ve been involved with in my career.”
Shumaker has opposed apes working in the entertainment field because many trainers abuse animals. Furthermore, when people see orangutans on screen, they assume the apes are abundant, when in fact, orangutans are endangered in the wild.
A month ago, two tigers were born as part of the Save China’s Tigers (SCT) breeding project in South Africa. They were born under natural conditions without human intervention or observation.
The cubs’ arrival is especially important as they are among a very limited number of South China tigers. According to Li Quan, founder of SCT, “[The cubs’ birth] is another important step in our rewilding and breeding project and a major achievement in tiger conservation history.” There are only 76 South China tigers in captivity and possibly as few as 30 in the wild.