When they want to move as a group, meerkats call to each other. Capuchin monkeys trill. Gorillas grunt. Honeybees make what is called a piping sound.
African wild dogs sneeze. And that’s a first.
No other social animal has been reported to cast a vote, of sorts, by sneezing, although in humans sneezing may once have expressed a negative opinion, as in, “nothing to sneeze at.”
Wild dog sneezing is different. For one thing it seems to indicate a positive reaction to a proposal before a group of dogs. When a pack of these dogs is getting ready to hunt, scientists reported Tuesday, the more sneezes, the more likely they are to actually get moving.
Full story at http://nyti.ms/2xUE7IC
As people continue their efforts to either leave or stay in town during Hurricane Irma, there are some Palm Beach County residents that don’t have as many options – animals living at various zoos, preserves and other facilities. Here’s what’s being planned to protect our animal friends:
Loggerhead Marinelife Center: Public relations and communications coordinator Hannah Deadman says that the Juno Beach facility has gotten “permission from the states of Florida and Georgia to transport the turtles to the Georgia Aquarium or SeaWorld if necessary. We won’t make the official decision until (Thursday) morning at the earliest — but we are preparing for it all as we continue to follow what the storm is doing.”
Staff is also putting down sandbags, and Deadman notes that the county has “started to remove pier deck boards as well” from the Juno Beach Pier, which Loggerhead manages. During 2016’s Hurricane Matthew, resident turtles were put in dry dock in the facility’s hospital and its learning center, although she acknowledges that “this is a different storm.”
Palm Beach Zoo: Hurricane Irma is “not our first rodeo” at the Palm Beach Zoo, according to director of communications Naki Carter, so the staff has been monitoring the storm for a while. They’ve “already started relocating some of the cages of the birds and smaller animals” to storm shelters around the zoo, which has more than 150 animals. Hurricane shelters house the Class 1 or most dangerous animals, including the panther, bear, jaguar, Komodo dragon and tigers.
Full story at http://pbpo.st/2xUYHsk
“Trophy,” an extraordinary documentary from Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau, is filled with astonishing sights. An American hunter welling up over the body of the lion he has just shot; a South African rhino breeder calmly sawing the horns off his helpless charges. The intimacy of the film’s images and the surprising candor of its participants are disarming: Whatever your initial response, be prepared to re-evaluate.
Wading hip-deep into the moral, emotional and economic confluence of big-game hunting and wildlife conservation, the movie reveals a world where animals must pay for their keep or risk extinction. From a hunt in Namibia to a safari lodge in South Africa, from an animal control program in Zimbabwe to a Las Vegas convention hall, the narrative becomes only more complex and confounding. At any moment, whoever is onscreen — the hunter who believes he has a God-given right to shoot animals; the anti-poaching officer whose work is financed in part by the hunting industry; the poor villagers endangered by animals that the wealthy pay to kill — might challenge our assumptions and expose our ignorance.
Layered, thoughtful and infinitely curious, “Trophy” is shot so simply and beautifully, and with such nonjudgmental calm, that it’s easy to miss the ingenuity of its construction. Intervening solely to offer the occasional devastating statistic, the filmmakers allow our perceptions to shift and slide with each new piece of information. Here, canny businessman and genuine animal lover share the same skin, and a high-end safari outfitter is no less concerned for his beasts than the most vehement anti-hunting activist.
This blurring of lines is nowhere more pronounced than in the efforts of John Hume, the rhino breeder, to discourage illegal poaching by legalizing the sale of rhino horn. A profoundly polarizing and finally tragic figure, Mr. Hume opens himself for condemnation. But be careful: That moral high ground you’re standing on might not be as solid as you think.
Full story at http://nyti.ms/2xV0EoK
In the arid far-western region of South Africa is a vast flatland covered with white quartzite gravel known as the Knersvlakte – Afrikaans for “Gnashing Plain” – because it sounds like grinding teeth when you walk across it. It’s a good place to watch unpeopled horizons vanish into ripples of heat haze, but to appreciate its real value you must get down on your knees. The Knersvlakte holds about 1,500 species of plants, including 190 species found nowhere else on earth and 155 that are Red-Listed by conservation biologists as threatened with extinction. To protect them, 211,000 acres have been set aside as the Knersvlakte Nature Reserve.
Melita Weideman, then a Knersvlakte ranger, had just finished work one July afternoon in 2015 when she was called to check out a mysterious pickup truck parked just outside the reserve. Weideman saw a man and woman walking through the approaching winter sunset toward the vehicle and then noticed empty cardboard boxes on the double-cab’s back seat. “That’s very weird,” she recalls thinking. “It looks like they’re collecting things.”
The couple had no reserve entry permits. When Weideman asked to see inside their backpacks, they initially refused. “It was quite a stressful situation because we [rangers] are not armed, and I didn’t know if they were armed.” But Weideman persisted and the bags were opened, revealing 49 of the the small, cryptic succulent plants that grow between the Knersvlakte’s stones. Jose (aka Josep) Maria Aurell Cardona and his wife Maria Jose Gonzalez Puicarbo, both Spanish citizens, were arrested. A search of their guesthouse room in a nearby town revealed 14 large boxes containing over 2,000 succulents, including hundreds of specimens of threatened and protected species, courier receipts showing that many more had already been sent to Spain, and notes documenting their extensive collecting trips across South Africa and neighboring Namibia.
Authorities soon discovered that the couple had been selling poached plants through their anonymously-operated website, http://www.africansucculents.eu, and calculated the value of the plants in their possession at about $80,000. After 16 nights in nearby jails, Cardona and Puicarbo accepted a plea bargain, paid a $160,000 fine — the largest ever for plant thieves in South Africa — and were banned from the country forever.
Full story at http://bit.ly/2xV9v9W