Animal Travels: Antarctica

Antarctica is over 5 million square miles and has some extremely well adapted species living there!

There are six species of penguin that call Antarctica home.

  1. Aptenodytes_forsteri_-Snow_Hill_Island,_Antarctica_-adults_and_juvenile-8.jpgEmperor Penguin
    (Aptenodytes forsteri)
    Near Threatened
    595,000 mature individuals remaining in the wild with no current major threats.
  2. 152708-004-5B3C83E2.jpgChinstrap Penguin
    (Pygoscelis antarcticus)
    Least Concern
    Declining population trend can be attributed to threats from recent volcanic activity, human disturbances of breeding colonies and the harvesting of Antarctic krill which makes up the bulk of their diet.
  3. gentoopenguin.jpgGentoo Penguin
    (Pygoscelis papua)
    Least Concern
    774,000 mature individuals.
    Major threats come from the collection of eggs and disturbances from tourism which decrease breeding productivity.
  4. main-qimg-84bebfb4702b4086740772ded2d31fd8-c.jpegAdelie Penguin
    (Pygoscelis adeliae)
    Least Concern
    7580,000 mature individuals remaining in the wild and an increasing population trend.
    Their major threats come from climate change, the building of research stations which change their habitat and from the disturbance from tourists and scientists.
  5. Right-Whale-Bay-King-Penguin-1.jpgKing Penguin
    (Aptenodytes patagonicus)
    Least Concern
    Increasing population trend but faces threats from increasing sea temperatures, disturbance from helicopter flights which causes breeding failure; and disturbances from scientists and tourists.
  6. Macaroni_penguin.jpgMacaroni Penguin
    Eudyptes chrysolophus)
    Decreasing population trend which has faced major threats from commercial fishing, the warming of oceans, disturbance from scientists and tourists. Also increasing numbers of Fur Seal is leading to increased predation.

(Orcinus orca)
There are 5 types of Orca in Antarctic waters.

  1. antarctic_type_a.jpgType A
    A very large orca: reaching lengths of up to 31 feet.
    Hunt Minke whales.
  2. Pitman whale and seal.jpgType B Large
    Also known as Pack Ice Orcas.
    Hunt seals and are famous for their “wave-washing” hunting technique.
  3. 17b769b5aef86dc4c15d519f3e4b3f60-nature-animals-wild-animals.jpg
    Type B Small
    Also known as Gerlache Orcas.
    They are believed to feed on penguins.
  4. full_Paul_Ensor__Gateway_Antarctica__University_of_Canterbury_5322_small.jpgType C
    Also known as the Ross Sea Orca.
    They are the smallest orcas reaching lengths of 20 feet.
  5. image_1172_1-killer-whale-type-d.jpgType D
    These are Subantarctic orcas.
    They look different from other orcas and are easily distinguished by their large melon.
    Very little is known about these orcas.

To read more about orcas, you can read my post “All About Killer Whales

Leopard-Seal-1.jpgLEOPARD SEAL
(Hydrurga leptonyx)
Least Concern
18,000 mature individuals remaining in the wild.

There are no major threats from human activity currently. However, climate change is leading to loss of sufficient pack ice for pupping and resting. There is also becoming less penguins available as prey for the leopard seals.


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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

(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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

These kiwis are also a part of Operation Nest Egg.

(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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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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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.

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

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.

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

(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.

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.

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

(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.

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

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.

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

(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.

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.

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.

(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.

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.

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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Animals You Might Not Have Heard About: Dugong


Now unless you are a Harry Potter fanatic, you’ve probably never heard the word Dugong or know what one is. In this post, I’m going to introduce you to the fourth member of the Sirenia family.

The Dugong (Dugong dugon) may look like a manatee and they do belong in the same family but they are different species. The dugong is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List with a decreasing population trend. The Dugong lives between East Africa and Vanuatu.

spd0816_species_istock_000032507042_web.jpgThe Dugong lives in coastal areas in waters that are shallow to medium-deep and between 15-17ºC. The Dugong can be found in the Indian Ocean, Red Sea and in the northwest and western Pacific Ocean.

Dugongs face threats from incidental capture from fishing gear. They are also hunted both legally and illegally. Boat strikes and boating activities such as acoustic pollution are causing problems for the dugong. There has been damage, modification and loss of their habitat and there has also been chemical pollution such as oil spills in their range. Although dugongs are legally protected in most of their range the enforcement is typically weak or non-existent.

Dugongs are covered under three international conservation conventions:

  1. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  2. The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
  3. The Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)

They are also included in the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI). The IUCN believe that the most promising initiative is the UNEP Dugong, Seagrass and Coastal Communities Initiative.

Animalia Chordata Mammalia Sirenia Dugongidae



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Big 5 Week – Leopard


For the final day of Big 5 Week, we are exploring all about the Leopard (Panthera pardus). The Leopard is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List with a decreasing population trend. There are nine recognised subspecies of Leopard worldwide:

  1. Panthera pardus pardus – African Leopard
  2. Panthera pardus nimr – Arabian Leopard
  3. Panthera pardus saxicolor – Persian Leopard
  4. Panthera pardus melas – Javan Leopard
  5. Panthera pardus kotiya – Sri Lankan Leopard
  6. Panthera pardus fusca – Indian Leopard
  7. Panthera pardus delacouri – Indochinese Leopard
  8. Panthera pardus japonensis – North-Chinese Leopard
  9. Panthera pardus orientalis – Amur Leopard

leopard-slider.jpgLeopards can be found in a wide variety of habitats such as desert and semi-desert regions, rugged montane and savannah grasslands. Leopards prefer medium sized ungulates but will feed on reptiles, birds, insects, small mammals and also large ungulates. Their diet is based largely on the availability of prey.

The main threats to leopards come from habitat fragmentation, reduced prey bases and conflicts with livestock. They are also popular targets for trophy hunters and are subject to illegal trade of skin and bones which are used in traditional ceremonies and for medicines in eastern cultures.

1-explore-kruger-leopard-portrait-henrich-van-den-bergLeopards are listed on CITES Appendix I and the trade of leopard skins and products has been restricted to 2560 individuals in 11 countries in Africa. Trophy hunting has been banned in several countries; most recently in 2016, South Africa suspended the trophy hunting of leopards. To address the use of leopard skins in traditional ceremonies, conservationists have partnered with textile companies in South Africa to create and provide faux-fur alternatives.


If you want to donate to leopard conservation, you can do this with the Born Free Foundation where you can adopt a leopard family for £2.50 a month. In the adoption pack you receive a cuddly toy, a leopard photo, a personalised certificate, the full story of the leopard family, a Born Free window sticker, a Born Free folder and a copy of adopt! magazine. The adoption lasts for a year.

You can read my Animal Travels: Kenya post or you can read about more Big 5 with the Lion, African Elephant, African Buffalo and Rhinoceros posts.


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Big 5 Week – Rhinoceros


The Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) is classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List. Luckily they currently have an increasing population trend.

rhinocloseup_351196.jpgBlack Rhinos can be found in a wide variety of habitats from desert areas to wetter, forested areas. However, they tend to be found in the highest densities in savannahs. Black rhinos are browsers and spend the majority of their time eating vegetation.

Rhinos’ biggest threat comes in the form of poaching (illegal hunting) for the international rhino horn trade. Rhino horn has two main uses:

  1. Traditional use in Chinese medicine
  2. Ornamental use

In recent years there has been an upsurge in black market prices for rhino horn, which has also increased the amount of poaching that is taking place.

black-rhino-200x300.jpgThe Black Rhino is listed on CITES Appendix I and has been since 1977. All commercial trade in Black Rhinos and their predicted have been prohibited and many of the remaining rhino are in fenced in sanctuaries, conservation zones and intensive protection zones. The IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group is the coordinating body for rhino conservation throughout Africa.

You can donate to rhino conservation at Save The Rhino. You can choose to donate as little or as much as you like to help save this struggling species.

You can read my Animal Travels: Kenya post or you can read about more Big 5 with the Lion, African Elephant and African Buffalo posts.


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Big 5 Week – Lion


The Lion (Panthera leo) is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List with a declining population trend. There is estimated to be between 23000-39000 mature individuals remaining in the wild.

4178030_4178030_960x0.jpgLions are only absent from tropical rainforests and the interior of the Sahara desert, making themselves at home in all other habitats. Lions can live relatively independently of water and in very arid conditions as they are able to obtain their moisture requirements from prey and plants. Their preferred prey is medium to large sized ungulate such as zebra and antelope; but they can and will take almost any other animal. Lions are also known to scavenge and will displace smaller predators, such as the Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta), from their kills. Lions are the most social of the cats with non-related females remaining in prides.

ap_668819555077-1--53688ebf9ea42fc8eb6c1761b36f3e6dda337c74-s300-c85.jpgLions face difficulty from prey base depletion and habitat loss and conversion. They are also a favourite animal of trophy hunters and so face many human killings. There is also a large illegal trade base for lion body parts. All these factors have lead to the decline of the numbers of lions in the wild.


Lion-2014-Pamela-Reed-Sanchez-Chester1-e1461541649929.jpgLions are listed on Appendix II of CITES. Also, in Africa most lions are present in large and well managed protected areas. As lions are a popular tourist favourite, the wildlife tourism profits help to go toward the conservation of lions.

However, the continued decline in the numbers of lions have shown that the political priority and funding for conservation is not currently sufficient.

2014-04-18RHawk050Lion_Xerxes-horiz.jpgIf you want to donate to the conservation of lions, there are a couple of way you can do this.

If you visit Born Free you can adopt a lion for £2.50 a month. In the adoption pack you receive a cuddly toy, a picture of the lions you can adopt (Sinbad and Achee), Sinbad and Achee’s full story, a personalised adoption certificate, a Born Free window sticker and a Born Free folder. You will also receive the ADOPT! magazine twice a year with update on the lions.

You can also donate to LionAid if you don’t want to adopt and just want to donate. At LionAid you can pick the amount you wish to donate and how often.

You can also read more on my Animal Travels: Kenya post.


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