Animal Travels: Alaska

This week’s instalment of Animal Travels is going to explore the amazing wildlife of Alaska. Alaska is an amazing place to visit if wildlife is your passion and in this instalment we’re going to explore the best places to visit if you want to see the species of Alaska in their natural habitats!

2010-kodiak-bear-1.jpgAlaska is definitely home to more than a few bears and if you want to view them in the wild the best places to visit are either the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Centre or Fish Creek which has road accessible bear viewing. If you want to head to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Centre you’ll be able to see bears (Brown and Black) year round although it will cost you around $15 for entry. Fish Creek however, costs $5 for a day pass but is slightly less accessible and you can only view bears between July and September when the fish are in.

chinook.jpgAlaska is also famous for its Salmon and there are a few places you can go if you want to see them. Perhaps the best place to see them is of course in the same place as the bears, so again head to Fish Creek and you’ll get to see both the Salmon and the bears of Alaska in one go!

01mooseWAQ.jpgAlthough Canada is more famous for Moose, Alaska is also home to this species. If you want to see the Moose in the wild in Alaska the best places to head are either to Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, Moose Pond or Earthquake Park.

 

KARIM_ILIYA_F8B0880.jpgIf whales are more your thing then Alaska also has some great spots for whale watching. You can head to the Kenai River Viewing Platform which is a popular spot for viewing Belugas, Lowell Point Road which is known for having Humpbacks; or to Barwell Island where you can hop on a boat and head out into the ocean to see Humpbacks are Orcas.

walrus-morse_10.jpgAnd the final species for this instalment of Animal Travels is the Walrus. If you head to Round Island in Alaska between May and August then you’ll get to witness giant herds of walruses as they nest in their tens of thousands throughout the summer. You’ll also get to see several species of seabirds such as puffins as they also call Round Island their home. However, if you are visiting Alaska later in the year and still want to see these Walruses then you can head to Cape Peirce where the Walrus can be seen between August and November as they head North for the winter pack ice.

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Animal Travels: Borneo & Sumatra

Many people have heard about Borneo and Sumatra due to their famous animal inhabitants. In the week’s instalment of Animal Travels we’ll explore the wildlife of Borneo and Sumatra!!

Bornean-Orangutan-Male-1020x610.jpgSumatran_Orangutan_8.6.2012_Why_They_Matter_XL_257639.jpgOf course it only makes sense to start with the most popular animal resident of the islands. The Orang-utan is  best located in the Danum Valley, Gunung Leuser and the Kinabatangan River. There are two species of Orang-utan. The Bornean Orang-utan (Pongo pygmaeus) and the Sumatran Orang-utan (Pongo abelii). Both of the orang-utan species are in grave danger as both as classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ by the IUCN Red List. Fun fact: Orang-utans share around 97% of the same DNA as humans!

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Moving on to another famous Sumatra species, the Sumatran Rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis). The best places to visit in order to see these rhinos in the wild is to the Gunung Leuser, Bukut Barisan Selatan and Way Kambas National Parks. The Sumatran Rhino has recently been declared as Extinct in the Wild in Myanmar. Fun fact: Sumatran Rhinos are the smallest (and hairiest!) rhino species.

Sumatran-Tiger-HeroOne of my favourite species is the next in this Animal Travels adventure. The Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is a subspecies of tiger. The best place to visit to view this species in the wild is by heading to the Satwa Sumatra Birding Guesthouse or visit Way Kambas National Park. You will need luck to be on your side to see this animal in the wild as their numbers are dwindling and they are known for being notoriously difficult to spot. Fun fact: Sumatran Tigers are the smallest subspecies of tiger in the world.

Proboscis_monkey.jpgBorneo and Sumatra are also home to the Proboscis Monkey (Nasalis larvatus) famous for its nose! To see in the wild the best place to head is to the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary which is located about 38km from Sandakan airport. These monkeys are facing problems from habitat destruction which is severely reducing their population numbers. Furthermore, the species is relatively lethargic which makes them easy to hunt and without legal measures being put into place the species is likely to be hunted into extinction. Fun fact: Baby Proboscis monkeys are born with black fur and a bright blue face!

1a-sunbear.jpgSun Bears (Helarctos malayanus) can also be found in Borneo and Sumatra and are particularly abundant. To find a Sun Bear in Borneo you just need to head to one of the tropical rainforests on the islands. Fun fact: Also known as the Honey Bear as this is their favourite food (Winnie the Pooh would be jealous).

7aecec2e64a66a49eb3cbb9d366dba2f--clouded-leopard-twitter.jpgFor the final species of this week’s Animal Travels, the Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi). Clouded Leopards were originally considered a single species until recent years when they were split using analysis from mitochondrial DNA, micro-satellites and chromosomal differences. The best place to visit if you want to spot the Sunda Clouded Leopard in the wild is to head to the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, the Tabin Forest Reserve or into the Danum Valley. Fun fact: Clouded Leopards spend nearly all their lives in the trees, so if you want to spot one, don’t forget to look up!

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Animal Travels: Australia

When you say wildlife to someone chances are the places they think of are either Africa or Australia. Therefore for this week’s instalment of Animal Travels we’re going to exploring the wildlife of Australia.

image.adapt.1200.HIGHStarting of with Australia’s most famous resident, the Kangaroo. There are three species of kangaroo in Australia; the Red Kangaroo, the Western Grey Kangaroo and the Eastern Grey Kangaroo. All three species can be found all over Australia but perhaps the best place to view them is Murramarang National Park which is on the NSW (New South Wales) South coast. The park is 44km of coastline and there is a great abundance of both kangaroos and wallabies. All three species of kangaroo are classified as ‘Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. Fun fact: Kangaroos use their tails like an extra leg.

162626-004-C076EDBD.jpgMoving onto Australia’s next most famous resident, the Koala. Koala’s are an amazing species, surviving off leaves that are poisonous to every other species. Koalas have a unique digestive system that allows to eat eucalyptus leaves. Again koalas can be found all over Australia but at You Yangs in Victoria there is a disease free population. Koalas are unfortunately suffering from chlamydia which is severely affecting their numbers. Fun fact: Koalas are the only mammal besides primates to have fingerprints.

Quokka

 

 

Quokkas are also quite a famous Australia resident, however there isn’t many places that you can see this species anymore. They were once widespread over Australia but now there is only a small collection left on the mainland. This small collection can be found at a nature reserve at Two People’s Bay. Off the mainland though they are found on Rottnest Island near Perth. Fun fact: Quokkas can survive for a long time without food or water using the fat that is stored in their tails.

Laughing_Kookaburra_0Moving onto one of the famous birds of Australia, the Kookaburra. There are actually four species of kookaburra but the most famous is the Laughing Kookaburra which are famous for their calls. Kookaburras are extremely widely spread throughout Australia and can be found in all NSW National Parks. Fun fact: Laughing Kookaburras are the largest member of the kingfisher family. However, they don’t actually feed on fish.

whale_shark_pictureAustralia’s land isn’t the only place you can find some amazing wildlife. The waters surrounding Australia are also home to some fantastic species. If you head to Ningaloo Reef which is just off Exmouth in Western Australia you are likely to find the largest fish in the seas, the Whale Shark. Fun fact: Whale sharks can reach up to 46 feet in length!

01humpbackwhalesWhale sharks aren’t the only marine life you can find off the coast of Australia. In fact the waters of New South Wales are known locally as ‘Humpback Highway’ as these waters are part of the Humpback Whales’ migration route. Fun fact: Like a human fingerprint the tails of all humpbacks are unique. You can see a catalogue of all the known Alaska whales here.

Total_internal_reflection_of_Chelonia_mydas.jpgAustralia is also home to a few species of Sea Turtle. If you want to see sea turtles such as the Loggerhead and the Green sea turtle then Heron Island is the place to head to. The turtles lay their eggs on the beach from November and the hatchlings emerge and make their way to the sea between December and May. Fun fact: Sea turtles can hold their breath for longer in colder waters.

mo-mantas1689-920-410Another species that Australia has an abundance of is Manta Rays. Mantas are the largest of the ray family and a noticeable by their cow horn shaped body. The best place to view mantas in the wild is by heading to Lady Eliot Island in Queensland. There are several companies that offer diving with mantas. Fun fact: Mantas need to constantly swim as the movement washes water over their gills.

getty_669374512306062175.2e16d0ba.fill-1200x600-c100_tUhgVZzThe final species that I want to mention on this week’s instalment of Animal Travels is the Tasmanian Devil. This species is in grave danger from a fatal infectious cancer known as Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD). The majority of the population is suffering from this fatal cancer. However, on Maria Island there is a conservation project running which is home to disease free animals. If you want to see a photo of an infected individual please click here as I don’t want to post on the actual blog in case it is disturbing for some people.

For tips and advice for viewing wildlife when visiting Australia. Feel free to contact me via email, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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Animal Travels: Brazil

Brazil is full of many weird and wonderful species, and in this instalment of Animal Travels we are going to explore all the amazing wildlife that Brazil has to offer.
mommyslothStarting off with the mammals of Brazil and everybody’s favourite lazy animal, the sloth. More specifically the sloths in Brazil are Maned Sloths. Maned Sloths are one of the rarest of the six sloth species and they can only be found in Brazil. They gained their name due to their manes of black hair. If you want to view of the Maned Sloths in the wild you’ll need to head to the rainforests around Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Espirito Santo and Sergipe as these are the only places that the Maned Sloth is still surviving in the wild. Although not yet Endangered, the Maned Sloth is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List.
Giant-Anteater-Brazil-©-Jonathan-RossouwFrom sloths to anteaters. Brazil is home to the Giant Anteater, which can weigh anywhere from 40 to 140 pounds. They are generally solitary animals and are not normally aggressive but can become so if cornered. The Giant Anteater has also been known to fight off pumas and jaguars. If you want to see Giant Anteaters in the wild you’ll need to head into Brazil’s Cerrado. Fun fact: Giant Anteaters have the longest tongue of any animal! Again the Giant Anteater is considered Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List.

armadilloThe Brazilian Three-Banded Armadillo is the only armadillo species that is endemic to Brazil. They can be recognised by their blackish brown armour plating that can allow they to roll into a ball to protect their vulnerable underbody. The three-banded armadillo has been spotted in Bahia, Alagoas, Rio Grande do Norte and the Federal District of Brazil. The three-banded armadillo is yet another species that the IUCN Red List classifies as Vulnerable with a decreasing population.

Coati-S004The South American Coati is a member of the raccoon family that can be easily recognised by its reddish-brown fur and banded tail. Locals claim that they best place to view coatis in the wild is in Pantanal. The coati population is doing well and they are currently classed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List.

braziliantapir2A zoo favourite Tapirs are also found in Brazil. The species is known by several different names, the South American Tapir, Brazilian Tapir or the Lowland Tapir. The Brazilian Tapir is one of four tapir species, and although the most abundant of the four, the Brazilian Tapir is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. Tapirs are hunted for their meat and hide and their habitat is being reduced by deforestation. If you want to see a tapir in the wild they inhabit the rainforests of Brazil and are most likely to be spotted in or around water as they are extremely capable swimmers and divers.

CarKoxxBrazil is also famous for its Capybaras, the world’s largest rodent. Capybaras are classified as Least Concern. They are good at avoiding predators as they can stay underwater for up to five minutes. In previous years capybaras were hunted for their meat, now the hunting of capybaras is prohibited in Brazil. To see a capybara in the wild you’ll need to visit some densely forested areas that are near water as this is the natural habitat of the capybaras.

nws-st-brazil-jaguarFrom big rodents to big cats, Brazil has a variety of species. For example, Brazil is home to the Jaguar, the biggest of the South American felines. They can be found over most of Southern and Central America but they are notoriously difficult to spot. Most reports of sightings by tourists and locals come from Pantanal or from the Refugio Ecologio Caiman in Mato Grosso do Sul. Jaguars are recognised by their spotted coat and large stature. Fun fact: Jaguars have one of the most powerful bites in the animal kingdom. These powerful bites can allow them to hunt caimans as one bite can pierce the skull of the caiman. The IUCN classifies Jaguars as Near Threatened.

Toco-Toucan-Pantanal-Brazil-_J4A6380Brazil is also famous for its birds. Brazil is home to the largest species of toucan the Toco Toucan. Toucans are easily recognised by their large colourful bill. Although they spend most of their lifetime in trees, Toco Toucans are not very adept at flying and prefer to manoeuvre around the treetops by hopping. Fun fact: Toucans regulate their body temperature by adjusting the flow of blood to their bill. Toco Toucans are doing quite well on the conservation front as the IUCN classifies them as Least Concern.

Scarlet-MacawsPerhaps the most famous Brazilian bird is the Scarlet Macaw. Macaws are the largest parrots in the world and they mate for life. They spend the majority of their time in tall, deciduous trees near rivers. In Brazil Scarlet Macaws are found in eastern Brazil. Again, Scarlet Macaws are classified as Least Concern.

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Sources:

  • The IUCN Red List
  • Fun Animal Facts
  • Wikipedia

 

Animal Travels: Tenerife

Having just returned from a ten day holiday to Tenerife it seems fitting to make it this week’s Animal Travels location. Although I didn’t specifically go on a wildlife holiday Tenerife gave me plenty of opportunities to get face to face with the wildlife of the island.

StingrayThe first wildlife I came across was stingrays swimming around the rocks at La Pinta beach. Judging from the pictures that I took and from viewing the rays they looked like Common Stingrays. However, many other species can be found around the island such as the Round Stingray, Round Fantail Stingray and the gargantuan Roughtail Stingray.

Siam Park Sea LionsLater in the week, we headed to Siam Park which is rated as the world’s best waterpark. One of the biggest draws to Siam Park for me was the sea lions that were housed there. Although they are captive animals they are an easy view for tourists who are less into wildlife hunting and they appeared in good health and condition.

The absolute wildlife highlight for me was a Whale and Dolphin tour which was simply amazing. On the trip we weren’t luck enough to see loads of species, but we did get to witness two different pods of short-fin pilot whales, which are permanent residents of Tenerife. Seeing the whales in the wild is a truly humbling experience and makes you realise how much the oceans need protecting. On the return trip the captain of the boat headed towards the fish farms which are just off the coast as turtles frequent these farms. Surely enough we managed to spot a Loggerhead turtle bobbing along on the surface of the water.

Short-fin Pilot WhaleIf anyone is heading to Tenerife and wants to do a Whale and Dolphin tour like this, please use the Bonadea II. I can’t sing their praises high enough, they are not just a tourist money making boat, they are true conservationists with a passion for marine life. If you look through their Facebook page you can see how much of the ocean they have cleaned and how much they respect marine life. They are also a Blue Boat which means they are approved to take tourists on tours without disrupting the animals that call the seas around Tenerife their home. While on the boat trip we witness another boat which definitely was not a Blue Boat as they drove straight on top of the whales forcing them to dive under and also chased the whales.

Short-fin Pilot Whales are not the only cetaceans in the Tenerife waters. They are also home to Bottlenose Dolphins, Sperm Whales, Pygmy Sperm Whales, Humpback Whales, Blue Whales,  Bryde’s Whales and even occasionally Killer Whales. Along with cetaceans you can also come across Leatherback Turtles.

DSCN0174We also managed to make friends with an African collared dove who we nicknamed Marlon. African collared doves are popular on the island and are not extremely wary of humans so you may have the chance to feed one on your hands.

Speaking of wildlife that you may find in your apartment or hotel, I will make an honorable mention for cockroaches, considering we had one that kept us awake until 2am. If you have a fear of them, make sure you buy some bug spray from the local supermarket and keep it handy; and also don’t leave any windows or doors open at night as they will always find a way in.

On that note, if anyone is travelling to Tenerife, leave me a comment and let me know and I can give you some wildlife finding tips or just some general travel advice.

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Animal Travels: Galapagos

The Galapagos’ Islands are home to a multitude of species, many of which are endemic and so can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Unknown.jpegStarting with the Galapagos’ most famous resident the Galapagos Giant Tortoise. There are currently ten subspecies of Giant Tortoise. The 11th subspecies’ final individual “Lonesome George” died in June 2016. They are best viewed on the islands of Isabela, Santiago, Pinzon and Santa Cruz. All 10 subspecies are now classed as Endangered, Critically Endangered or Extinct in the Wild by the IUCN Red List.

Cq_SVXbXYAASyaZPerhaps the other most famous residents of the Galapagos are its finches, made famous as Darwin’s Finches and in his research into evolution. There are lots of endemic species of finch on the islands, such as the Ground Finches, Vegetarian Finch and the Tree Finches among others. The finches can be viewed on all the islands depending on which species you are looking for. Luckily, the majority of the Galapagos finches are not threatened of facing any major threats to their numbers.

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The Galapagos Penguin is classed as Endangered by IUCN

Moving onto more marine animals. The Galapagos has its own species of penguin, which is one of the smallest species of penguin in the world; and is the only penguin to breed entirely within the tropics. The Galapagos penguins are best viewed on the islands of Santiago, Bartolome, Isabela and Fernandina. Unfortunately, these penguins are facing issues such as introduced species hunting them, oil spills are other human made issues.

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Galapagos sharks are Near Threatened

Penguins aren’t the other marine animal that the Galapagos has its own species of. They are also home to the Galapagos shark. These sharks are best viewed around the islands of Floreana and San Cristobal. They are silverly-grey shark with a light underbelly. Humans bait-fishing activities are causing problems for these sharks and their populations are in decline.

 

americas_galapagos_aggressor_whaleshark2_galleryAlong with the Galapagos shark, the islands are also home to several other shark species such as the Hammerhead sharks and the Whale Shark, which can all be viewed off the coasts of the islands.

imagesca0oqf2z.jpgOne of the biggest draws to the Galapagos islands is for diving wishing to see Manta Rays in all their glory. Mantas are the largest of the rays and are extremely widespread in the Galapagos waters.

 

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The Galapagos Sea Lion is also facing trouble and is classified as ‘Endangered’

The Galapagos also has its fair share of marine mammals. The islands are home to the endemic Galapagos sea lion and the Galapagos fur seal. The sea lions pups are often seen swimming with humans due to their curious nature. The sea lions make their home alone the coasts of the islands. However, the fur seals are much shier and make their home on the rocky shores of the islands.

The waters around the Galapagos islands are also filled with many marine mammals, some are merely visitors, but some are now considered residents.

 

Animal Travels: Yellowstone

For this Animal Travels post. I’m going to be exploring the wildlife of Yellowstone National Park and where best to find all the popular species that the park has to offer.

yellowstone-bear-grizzly-bp-readerFirst off the park is famous for its Grizzly Bears. Grizzlies are larger than their relatives the black bear and it is advised to stay well away from them if viewing them in the wild. Park rangers suggest 100 yards is the safest distance to view from. Grizzly bears are active mainly at night and occasionally during dawn and dusk. In spring, they can be seen around Yellowstone Lake, Fishing Bridge, Hayden and Lamar valleys, Swan Lake Flats, and the East Entrance. However for mid-summer viewing the best places to head to are the meadows between Tower–Roosevelt and Canyon, and in the Hayden and Lamar valleys.

489473-1411080341-wideYellowstone is also home to the largest wild bison herd in the United States. The best place to view the herd depends on the time of year visiting Yellowstone. If you visit in Winter the best location is in the hydrothermal areas and also in Blacktail ponds. If visiting in Summer than the herd is found in the grasslands of Yellowstone.

Leggero_moose1Yellowstone is also home to Moose. Unfortunately things are going to well for them in Yellowstone as there are fewer than 200 individuals left and the population has been declining for the last 40 years due to the loss of forests surrounding the park and the burning of habitat and increased numbers of predators. Moose are best viewed year round along lake shores and rivers.

Gray wolves are seen nearing a Bison in Yellowstone National Park in this undated handout photographPerhaps one of the species that Yellowstone is most famous for is its reintroduced Grey Wolves. From 2009 wolf numbers in Yellowstone have increased from around 80 individuals to a booming 528 wolves which were counted in 2015 and the numbers are on the increase. Wolves can be see year round in Yellowstone and in most locations within the park. However, the northern regions of Yellowstone are where the wolves are most abundant and visitors will have the greatest chance of spotting a pack.

Share your pictures and experiences with me if you have visited Yellowstone in the comments section below. I’d love to know your thoughts on Yellowstone.