Fewer than 2,000 rhino remain in Kenya, and the country’s wildlife service needs to keep tabs on them to make sure they thrive. It’s a major undertaking, involving a helicopter, 4x4s and a lot of rangers
Here comes a chopper … a helicopter is used to dart the highly aggressive black rhino
Kenya has the world’s third largest rhinoceros population: a total of 1,890 including 966 black rhinos, 922 southern white and two northern white. But how to keep track of them and ensure the species are thriving? Every two or three years, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) carries out an ear-notching exercise in all rhino sanctuaries in the country to ensure that at least 60% of the animals are uniquely identifiable. Continue reading →
The energy industry is turning waste from dairy farms into renewable natural gas – but will it actually reduce emissions?
Have we reached ‘peak meat’? Why one country is trying to limit its number of livestock
On an early August afternoon at Pinnacle Dairy, a farm located near the middle of California’s long Central Valley, 1,300 Jersey cows idle in the shade of open-air barns. Above them whir fans the size of satellites, circulating a breeze as the temperature pushes 100F (38C). Underfoot, a wet layer of feces emits a thick stench that hangs in the air. Just a tad unpleasant, the smell represents a potential goldmine. Continue reading →
The wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 are some of the best-studied mammals on the planet. Biological technician and park ranger Rick McIntyre has spent over two decades scrutinizing their daily lives, venturing into the park every single day. Where his previous books focused on three notable alpha* males, it is ultimately the females that call the shots and make the decisions with lasting consequences. This book is a long overdue recognition of the female wolf and continues this multigenerational saga. Continue reading →
As understandings of human intelligence evolve, so, too, do understandings of animal intelligence.
Human beings — with our big brains, technology and mastery of language — like to describe ourselves as the most intelligent species. After all, we’re capable of reaching space, prolonging our lives and understanding the world around us. Over time, however, our understanding of intelligence has gotten a little more complicated. Continue reading →
Martha Nussbaum has never appeared in our pages, nor has this podcast series. Moral philosophy is usually (but not always) outside the range of topics we pay attention to. But when the topic is animal justice, we are in. If you want a primer prior to the discussion, this profile helps:
“What I am calling for,” Nussbaum writes, is “a society of citizens who admit that they are needy and vulnerable.” Photograph by Jeff Brown for The New Yorker
Martha Nussbaum’s far-reaching ideas illuminate the often ignored elements of human life—aging, inequality, and emotion.
Martha Nussbaum was preparing to give a lecture at Trinity College, Dublin, in April, 1992, when she learned that her mother was dying in a hospital in Philadelphia. She couldn’t get a flight until the next day. That evening, Nussbaum, one of the foremost philosophers in America, gave her scheduled lecture, on the nature of emotions. “I thought, It’s inhuman—I shouldn’t be able to do this,” she said later. Then she thought, Well, of course I should do this. I mean, here I am. Why should I not do it? The audience is there, and they want to have the lecture. Continue reading →
A video showing dozens of vehicles moving in on a pair of big cats in a Kenyan game reserve highlights how “aggressive tourism” can put endangered animals at even greater risk.
The video surfaced online around October. Filmed from a distance, it shows an antelope grazing on the African plain. Suddenly, two cheetahs race toward it and the antelope takes off, running toward the camera. But the cats are too fast. They converge on it and bring it down. They begin to feed. Continue reading →
Dawn rises over a forest outside Orono, Me. Researchers want to understand what leads mice, voles and other small animals to bury seeds that become forests.
There really are coincidences that have nothing to do with the overreach of internet companies who see what you are reading in one place and put something in front of you instantly, and for a long time following, based on that first subject. In this case, I was reading about the endless quest for a better mousetrap, and then came upon this fascinating article about the ecosystem services that mice convey. This was as smile-inducing a juxtaposition as my reading has provided me lately. I hope I am correct that this pure chance and not some creepy algorithm, which would wilt my grin:
A deer mouse, temporarily captured for a behavioral test before being rereleased to the grounds of a study site at the University of Maine in late October.
Scientists are unearthing a quiet truth about the woods: Where trees grow, or don’t, depends in part on the quirky decisions of small mammals.
It’s easy to look at a forest and think it’s inevitable: that the trees came into being through a stately procession of seasons and seeds and soil, and will replenish themselves so long as environmental conditions allow.
Hidden from sight are the creatures whose labor makes the forest possible — the multitudes of microorganisms and invertebrates involved in maintaining that soil, and the animals responsible for delivering seeds too heavy to be wind-borne to the places where they will sprout. Continue reading →
50 years ago, President Nixon signed the Marine Mammal Protection Act into law. The act has been hugely successful in restoring the abundance of the marine species it protects. But some say it’s too successful.
Tribes in particular say their treaty rights to fishing are under threat because now, too many seals and sea lions are feasting on endangered salmon. Continue reading →
Although recent spikes in temperature affect all of us, our urban critters have had to find their own ways to beat the heat. Sometimes they “sploot.”
It’s summertime in New York City–birds are chirping, insects are scurrying, and everything feels alive! While recent heat waves have pushed a lot of us indoors to the respite of air conditioning, the critters of this city were left to fend for themselves. Continue reading →
A giant Galápagos tortoise, only as old as it feels. Meridith Kohut for The New York Times
When I learn a new word–even if it is a word I cannot picture using in conversation but it represents a concept that is interesting and surprising, I consider that a good day. Jack Tamisiea, thanks for the science reporting here, and especially for the word senescence:
Tortoises and turtles don’t just live for a long time — they barely age while they live.
The black marsh turtles displayed negative rates of senescence, meaning their mortality risk decreased as they aged. iStock/Getty Images
For mammals like humans, aging is inevitable. No matter how many vitamins we take, skin sags, bones soften and joints stiffen over time. However, turtles and tortoises age more gracefully. Despite their wrinkled skin and toothless gums, species like Galápagos giant tortoises seem unscathed by the ravages of aging. Some show few signs of slowing down as they plod into their 100s.
To determine what drives these ageless wonders, two groups of researchers examined turtles, tortoises and their ectothermic, or coldblooded, brethren in a pair of studies published Thursday in the journal Science. Continue reading →
Spectacle floods into my eyes whenever I watch a wildlife documentary. A vortex of small fish is gradually picked off by waves of oceanic predators. Snakes chase after marine iguanas. Giraffes clash at sunset. Continue reading →
Nonhuman creatures have senses that we’re just beginning to fathom. What would they tell us if we could only understand them?
One evening almost sixty years ago, a Tufts University researcher named Roger Payne was working in his lab when he heard a radio report about a whale that had washed up on a beach nearby. Although it was a cold, wet March night, he decided to drive to the shore. Continue reading →
Near the location of the future Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, a volunteer for the National Wildlife Federation carries a cardboard cutout of a mountain lion known as P-22. Photograph by Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times / Shutterstock
When we linked to earlier stories about mountain lions in urban California, P-22 was already the it-cat. And the story below, by Emily Witt, shares some anecdotes about P-22’s less fortunate wider family. But mainly it is about one hopeful initiative that P-22 seems to have unwittingly helped make happen:
The crossing will span Route 101, providing safe passage for mountain lions and other animals hemmed in by the freeways that surround the Santa Monica Mountains.
It was just after midnight on April 21st when the radio collar of P-97, an eighteen-month-old mountain lion, sent its last signal. P-97 had only recently separated from his mother, setting out east in the Santa Monica Mountains in search of territory to call his own. (The “P” stands for puma; the number, 97, marks how many mountain lions the National Park Service had tagged when he received the designation.) Continue reading →
Jacqueline Kennedy, in 1962. Photograph from Getty
When Jacqueline Kennedy was living in the White House, in the early sixties, she relied upon the taste of Oleg Cassini, the costume designer turned couturier, to supply her with a wardrobe that would befit her role as First Lady, one of the most photographed women in the world. In 1962, Cassini provided her with a striking leopard coat. Knee-length, with three-quarter sleeves and six buttons that fastened across the chest, the coat was not made from a synthetic leopard-patterned fabric. Continue reading →
Volunteers modify a wire fence in Wyoming to allow wildlife to pass through. ABSAROKA FENCE INITIATIVE
If we take Robert Frost’s poetic license into the realm of how humans and wildlife might coexist more successfully, then the image above is powerful. Good fences might make good neighbors if they allow wildlife to migrate as needed.
A guanaco at a fence in southern Chile. WOLFGANG KAEHLER / LIGHTROCKET VIA GETTY IMAGES
While working in the Patagonia region of Chile, 2008-2010, I saw images like this in the photo to the right regularly. On occasion the sight would be more gruesome. Ranchers had erected fences without regard for the need of guanacos to wander.
From the U.S. West to Mongolia, fences are going up rapidly as border barriers and livestock farming increase. Now, a growing number of studies are showing the impact of these fences, from impeding wildlife migrations to increasing the genetic isolation of threatened species.
The best of this week’s wildlife pictures, including a patient great tit, a hungry lemur, and a lucky escape for one humpback whale
Icelandic horses walk on the snow in Hunavatnshreppur. The horses are unique in that they have five gaits, while other horses typically have three or four. Photograph: Nacho Doce/Reuters
Weekends are the busiest part of our work week; for us the photos are a motivator for that work; so thanks to Joanna Ruck for these. Click any image to go to the source.
Honeybees venture out of their hive box on a warm afternoon on a farm near Elkton in western Oregon, US. Honeybees become active and start foraging at approximately 12.8C. Full foraging activity is not achieved until the temperature rises to 19C. Photograph: Robin Loznak/Zuma Press Wire/Rex/Shutterstock
In “Aesop’s Animals,” zoologist Jo Wimpenny provides a guided tour of animal behavior drawn from the classic fables.
SEVERAL CHAPTERS into “Aesop’s Animals: The Science Behind the Fables,” zoologist and science writer Jo Wimpenny explains that, as a very young girl, she sometimes wanted to be a dog. (In a footnote she credits growing up in Wales for encouraging her “to think outside the box.”) This childhood fantasy, as the reader can readily imagine, involved crawling along the ground on all fours. But that only gets one part-way toward doghood, as the grown-up Wimpenny would come to realize. Continue reading →