Lost Forever: Caribbean Monk Seal

Cms-newyorkzoologicalsociety1910.jpgIts time to look backwards at the animals of the past that couldn’t quite survive into our present. This week we will be looking into the Caribbean Monk Seal (Neomonachus tropcicalis) and what ultimately led to its extinction.
The Caribbean Monk Seal went extinct in 1952 with the last confirmed sighting off Serranilla Bank. These seals used to inhabit the Caribbean Sea and they were the first type of seal to go extinct from human causes.

HABITAT & DIET
220px-Caribbean_monk_seals_New_York.jpgThey could be found in the water around rocky or sandy coastline and islands which they used for resting and breeding. Their diet is unknown but was believed to be eels, lobsters, octopus and reef fish.

MAJOR THREATS
Caribbean-Monk-Seal.jpg
The only known predators of the Caribbean Monk Seal were sharks and humans. They were hunted for their skins and oil and were also put in danger due to the fishing industry. It was ultimately the tough pressures from humans that led to their extinction.


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Animal Travels: France

With almost 250,000 square miles of space France is packed with wildlife from the Alpine Ibex to the Common Genet.


ALPINE IBEX
(Capra ibex)
MG_5228_950Pixels_WM.jpgListed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List with a increasing population trend. There is estimated to be around 31420 mature individuals remaining in the wild.

HABITAT, DIET & BEHAVIOUR
You can find an Alpine Ibex on open and rocky habitats at high altitudes. They feed on alpine grasses and are a diurnal species that is most active in the early morning and late afternoon.

MAJOR THREATS
Currently they are not believed to be facing any threats but there are concerns about their genetic diversity. Their habitats are surrounded by high densities of domestic goats and sheep which can carry a risk of parasites and disease.

CONSERVATION
The Alpine Ibex is listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention.

KINGDOM PHYLUM CLASS ORDER FAMILY
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

BEECH MARTEN
(Martes foina)
beech marten.jpgThe Beech Marten is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List with a stable population trend.

HABITAT
Beech Martens prefer open areas, however in countries such as France they are becoming more common in urban and suburban areas. In these countries they can be found nesting in attics, barns and even in car engine spaces.

MAJOR THREATS
These little animals can sometimes be persecuted as a pest and some of them also suffer from rabies.

CONSERVATION
Beech Martens are also listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention.

KINGDOM PHYLUM CLASS ORDER FAMILY
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae

CHAMOIS
(Rupicapra rupicapra)
chamois-4-640x425.pngThis species is also luckily listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List with around 440,000 mature individuals remaining in the wild.

HABITAT & DIET
The Chamois likes to live on steep, rocky areas in the mountain and they feed on grasses, herbs, leaves, buds, shoots and fungi.

MAJOR THREATS
They are currently suffering from poaching and overhunting; and they are also facing competition from domestic livestock. There have also been outbreaks of pestivirus and sarcoptic mange in some populations.

CONSERVATION
Yet another species from France that is listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention.

KINGDOM PHYLUM CLASS ORDER FAMILY
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

COMMON GENET
(Genetta genetta)
CommonGenet.JPGListed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List and with a stable population trend.

HABITAT & DIET
The Common Genet prefers wooded habitat and can often be found around water. They feed primarily on small mammals but they will also take birds, vertebrates, insects and fruit depending on the availability of prey.

MAJOR THREATS
The main threats for these animals come from road traffic collisions and hunting. They are killed for their meat, body parts, skin and fur.

CONSERVATION
They are mostly found in protected areas and they are also listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention.

KINGDOM PHYLUM CLASS ORDER FAMILY
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Viverridae

ALPINE MARMOT
(Marmota marmota)
marmot.jpgThese little rodents are listed as Least Concern (YAY FOR FRANCE!!) by the IUCN Red List with a stable population trend.

HABITAT & DIET
They live in alpine meadows and high altitude pastures eating a fully herbivorous diet.

MAJOR THREATS
Alpine Marmots are hunting for their meat, fur and fat.

CONSERVATION
They mostly occur in national park and are listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention.

KINGDOM PHYLUM CLASS ORDER FAMILY
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Rodentia Sciuridae

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Dog Breeds 101: Vizsla

Vizsla_SERP.jpgThe Vizsla or Hungarian Vizsla as it is sometimes known is a large sized breed in the Gundog group. They reach heights between 53-64cm and can weigh between 18-30kg; with a lifespan of between 9 and 15 years.

CARE
vizslasf2.jpgVizslas don’t adapt well to apartments and need a large sized house with plenty of garden space for them to explore. They are extremely energetic and need lots of vigorous daily exercise otherwise they can become hyperactive. Vizslas hate the rain and many will simply refuse to go out in it. In these instances, you could potentially use an indoor treadmill to help burn off some of their extra energy.

Grooming wise they are very low maintenance, just needed a brush once a week. The breed also is a low shedding breed so you are less likely to find hairs everywhere.

TEMPERAMENT
thumbs_1-forwardstance.jpgVizslas are a highly intelligent and loyal breed and so make great family pets and they are good around children of all ages. Their intelligence makes them relatively easy to train, however they are a sensitive dog so they can be easily hurt. They can also suffer from selective hearing and stubbornness so consistent training is key. Unfortunately, Vizslas hate being left alone and can suffer from separation anxiety.

 
HEALTH
Vizslas are considered one of the healthiest dog breeds, with a long life expectancy for their size. However like all breeds they are prone to certain conditions.

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Idiopathic epilepsy
  • Allergies
  • Polymyopathy
  • Glaucoma
  • Cerebellar ataxia
  • Cancer
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Dwarfism

I hope this post helped you decide on whether you have what it takes to adopt a Vizsla into your home.

If you need any more advice of information just leave me a comment and I will gladly get back to you.

If you’ve got a Vizsla I’d love to see some photos, you can leave them in the comments or send them to me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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Animal Travels: New Zealand

New Zealand is probably less thought about than their big next door neighbours when it comes to wildlife; but with almost 103,500 square miles of land and a population of almost 5 million, this little island is no stranger to animals.

New Zealand is famous for its Kiwis and is home to 5 species of them:

  1. Southern Brown Kiwi (Apteryx australis) Vulnerable
  2. Great Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx haasti) Vulnerable 
  3. Northern Brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) Endangered
  4. Little Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx owenii) Near Threatened
  5. Okarito Brown Kiwi (Apteryx rowi) Endangered

OKARITO BROWN KIWI
(Apteryx rowi)
120048Birds online CD1 084.jpgAlthough these kiwis are endangered they have an increasing population trend with around 200-250 mature individuals remaining in the wild.

HABITAT
The native population of the Okarito Brown Kiwi has now been restricted to 10,000ha of forest between the Okarito River and the Waiho River.

MAJOR THREATS
These kiwis are affected by habitat loss and predation of introduced mammals. Chicks are predated by stoats and some adults are killed by dogs and in road traffic collisions.

CONSERVATION
Operation Nest Egg has been put in place to help reduce the affects of predation. Eggs are removed from nests and the chicks are hand reared until they are large enough that they are no longer the prey of stoats.

NORTHERN BROWN KIWI
(Apteryx mantelli)
TeTuatahianui.jpgAgain, these kiwis are endangered but they current have a stable population trend.

HABITAT
These kiwis can be found in dense, subtropical, and temperate forests but can also occasionally be found living in shrub lands.

MAJOR THREATS
These kiwis face threats from the predation of dogs and ferrets.

CONSERVATION
These kiwis are also a part of Operation Nest Egg.

KEA
(Nestor notabilis)
kea-for-kate.pngThese birds have a declining population trend with around 3300 mature individuals remaining in the wild. They are classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List.

HABITAT AND DIET
The Kea prefer high altitude forests and alpine basins, feeding on a diet of shoots and berries.

MAJOR THREATS
Climate change, deforestation and killings by farmers are the most current threats to the numbers of Kea.

CONSERVATION
Kea are listed on CITES Appendix II and there is a population census planned to take place soon to get a more accurate count of the remaining individuals.

HECTOR’S DOLPHIN
(Cephalorhynchus hectori)
hectorsjump_labelled_cropped_22629.jpgThese dolphins are Endangered with around 7500 mature individuals remaining in the wild and a decreasing population trend.

HABITAT AND DIET
Hector’s Dolphins inhabit the shallow coastal waters within 15km of the shore of New Zealand; feeding on squid and several species of small fish.

MAJOR THREATS
The largest threat to the Hector’s Dolphin is entanglement in gill nets. Around 60% of deaths were due to entrapment in gill nets.

CONSERVATION
They are listed on CITES Appendix II and they occur mostly in protected areas (consisting of two sanctuaries).

NEW ZEALAND SEA LION
(Phocarctos hookeri)
sea-lion565.jpgThese Sea Lions are Endangered with a decreasing population trend and around 3000 mature individuals remaining in the wild.

MAJOR THREATS
Commercial sealing in the early 19th century until the mid-20th century depleted the population. They are also in danger from epizootic outbreaks.

CONSERVATION
The New Zealand government has protected these Sea Lions since 1881 and they are also covered under the Marine Mammal Protection Act 1978.

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Positive vs. Negative Training

DEFINITIONS

what-is-positive-reinforcement-training-for-dogs-51ee483b4146c.jpg
Positive Reinforcement
The process of encouraging or establishing a pattern of behaviour by offering a reward when the behaviour is exhibited.
Providing a treat when a dog ‘sits’ when asked.


Negative Reinforcement
The process by which an animal learns a behaviour to stop an unpleasant experience.
A dog learning to walk to ‘heel’ to avoid being choked by their collar.

Positive PunishmentConfusion-About-Negative-Reinforcement-During-Dog-Training-1.jpg
Presenting an aversive or unpleasant consequence after an undesired experience is exhibited.
Pulling on a choke lead when a dog is walking too far in front. Sending a dog into their bed or other room after excessive barking, biting or other undesirable behaviour.

Negative Punishment
Removing a reinforcing stimulus after an undesired behaviour is exhibited.
Removing a dog’s toy if they are chewing instead of playing. 

BUT WHICH METHOD IS THE BEST?

puppy  play.jpgSeveral studies have compared these different training methods to test their effectiveness. Lalli et al, 1999 found than the compliance of participants was higher when it produced an edible item rather than a neutral response such as a break.

Blackwell et al. 2008 sent out a questionnaire survey to dog owners to discover which training methods they used. 16% only used positive reinforcement, 12% used a combination of positive and negative reinforcement. 40% used a combination of all methods and 72% used some form of positive punishment. The mean number of undesirable behaviours was 11.3 per dog and formal training classes didn’t significantly affect the total numbers of undesirable behaviours reported. However, dogs that attended puppy socialisation classes were less likely to exhibit undesirable behaviours suggesting that socialisation at a young age is much more important than training in order to reduce the incidence of undesirable behaviours.

Unknown.jpegHiby et al. 2004 found that owner’s ratings of dog obedience correlated positively with being trained using rewards. They also found that when dogs were training using punishment, they were more likely to exhibit problematic behaviours; because of this it was suggested that positive training methods are more useful for the pet owning community.

Judging from the above studies, it seems that the best training method is positive reinforcement as a way to reduce undesirable behaviours; but perhaps the best way to avoid undesirable behaviours developing is to ensure that puppies are properly socialised from a young age.

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Lost Forever/Animals We’ll Never See Again: Great Auk

240px-Great_Auk_(Pinguinis_impennis)_specimen,_Kelvingrove,_Glasgow_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1108249.jpg

The Great Auk (Pinguinis impennis) was a large, flightless bird that went extinct in 1844 when the last known specimens were killed on the 3rd July at Eldey Island, Iceland. The nearest living relative of the Great Auk is the Razorbill.

 

HABITAT AND DIET
Historically, the Great Auk only bred on remote, rocky islands. Young birds fed on plankton, while the adults dived for fish.

 

MAJOR THREATS
Great Auk Painting.preview.jpgGreat Auks were hunted for their feathers, meat, fat and oil. As the birds became more scarce, early conservations believed that the collecting of specimens was necessary to help save the species. Unfortunately, this specimen collecting was what lead to the ultimate demise of the Great Auk.

In remembrance of the errors that early conservationists made, the peer reviewed academic journal of the American Ornithologists Union is named the Auk.

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Animal Travels: Holland

With 2119 square miles of space and a population of almost 6 and a half million, Holland has its own ‘Big Five’. The Red Deer, Wild Boar, Roe Deer, Badger and the Red Fox.

RED DEER
(Cervus elaphus)
Unknown.jpegThe Red Deer is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List and they have an increasing population trend.

HABITAT AND DIET
Red Deer can found in a range of habitats including: open deciduous woodland, mixed forests and coniferous woodland, upland moors and mountainous areas; but they prefer broadleaved woodland that is interspersed by large meadows. Red Deer feed mainly of shrub and tree shoots but they will sometimes dine on grasses, fruits and seeds.

MAJOR THREATS
Red Deer are facing trouble from habitat loss and overhunting. They are also susceptible to the spread of parasites and diseases from introduced species.

WILD BOAR
(Sus scrofa)
Wild-Boar-1_public-640x425.jpgThese mammals are classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List however, their current population trend is unknown.

HABITAT, DIET AND BEHAVIOUR
Again, Wild Boars can be found in a wide variety of habitats, whether that is temperate and tropical habitats such as semi-desert regions and tropical rainforests. They can also inhabit temperate woodlands and grasslands. Wild Boars are omnivorous, although vegetable matter makes up around 90% of their diet. These Boars are most active in early mornings and late afternoon and they spend around 4-8 per day foraging.

MAJOR THREATS
Globally, there are no major threats to Wild Boars; but locally, they can be susceptible to habitat destruction and hunting pressures.

ROE DEER
(Capreolus capreolus)
Roe-deer-buck-moulting-into-summer-coat%2c-Pigneys-Wood%2c-Julian-Thomas%2c-11-May-2015-(small).jpgAgain, the Roe Deer is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List with an increasing population trend. There are around 15 million mature individuals remaining in the wild.

HABITAT
These deer prefer landscapes with a mosaic of woodland and farmland.

MAJOR THREATS
There is an increased mixing of various genetic pools which could leave the Roe Deer susceptible to diseases and parasites. They also face danger from poaching, free-roaming dogs and collisions with vehicles.

CONSERVATION
There have been re-introductions of Roe Deer into depleted populations.

EURASIAN BADGER
(Meles meles)
140506.jpgThe Eurasian Badger is another species that is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. These Badgers currently have a stable population trend.

HABITAT AND DIET
Badgers prefer either deciduous woods with clearings, or open pastureland with patches of woodland. They are opportunistic foragers with an omnivorous diet, feeding on fruits, nuts, cereal crops, invertebrates and some vertebrates such as hedgehogs, moles and rabbits.

MAJOR THREATS
Land use changes have caused a loss of suitable habitat for the badgers. Badgers are also persecuted as a pest and in places like the UK they are believed to be associated with bovine TB and so this lead to a cull. Also, rabies reduced numbers of badgers throughout Europe.

RED FOX
(Vulpes vulpes)
150px-Red_fox.jpgThe final of Holland’s ‘Big Five’ is also classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List with a stable population trend.

HABITAT
The Red Fox can survive in extremely diverse habitats such as the tundra, deserts and forests as well as in city centres. Their natural habitat is a dry, mixed landscape with scrub and woodland. Foxes now appear to be closely associated with people and so can be found wherever there is human life.

MAJOR THREATS
Threats to Red Foxes are highly localised and include habitat degradation, loss and fragmentation. Globally, Red Foxes don’t face any major threats. The Red Fox is classed as a pest and so is unprotected throughout all its range. In the future, this could potentially cause problems.

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