Sunday, October 31, 2010

An Orangutan eats pumpkin during a 'Halloween-breakfast'

An Orangutan eats pumpkin during a 'Halloween-breakfast' in its enclosure at the Hagenbeck Zoo in the northern German city of Hamburg October 29, 2010.

Orangutan clan chief 'Tuan' eats pumpkin during a 'Halloween-breakfast' in his enclosure at the Hagenbeck Zoo in the northern German city of Hamburg October 29, 2010.

Orangutan 'Kejutan' drinks some water from a pumpkin during a 'Halloween-breakfast' in their enclosure at the Hagenbeck Zoo in the northern German city of Hamburg October 29, 2010.

Orangutan clan chief 'Tuan' (R) gets some pumpkin from four-year-old 'Kejutan' during a 'Halloween-breakfast' in their enclosure at the Hagenbeck Zoo in the northern German city of Hamburg October 29, 2010.

Orangutan 'Harapan' plays with a pumpkin during a 'Halloween-breakfast' in its enclosure at the Hagenbeck Zoo in the northern German city of Hamburg October 29, 2010.

Orangutans eat pumpkin during a 'Halloween-breakfast' in their enclosure at the Hagenbeck Zoo in the northern German city of Hamburg October 29, 2010.

An Orangutan eats pumpkin during a 'Halloween-breakfast' in its enclosure at the Hagenbeck Zoo in the northern German city of Hamburg October 29, 2010.

photo: Reuters

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Is this Emperor? Tantalising picture that suggests the great stag of Exmoor might not have been shot dead after all


A mystery solved? This picture taken by wildlife tracker Dave Webb shows the antlers of a stag (circled) concealed by a tree

Partially concealed behind a tree, surrounded by a harem of females, could this be the Emperor?

A deer hunter yesterday claimed this tantalising picture could prove that the magnificent stag at the centre of a mystery which has gripped Exmoor could actually still be alive.

The 9ft tall, 21-stone deer – believed to be Britain’s largest wild animal – has not been seen since locals reported he had been gunned down earlier this month.

News of his alleged demise provoked not only anger that such an impressive beast could be shot, but also a search for the perpetrators who had apparently spirited away the body.

But then a second theory emerged: That Emperor was not dead and that reports of his death were a ‘myth’ intended to discourage poachers from taking the biggest prize in the country at the height of the rutting season.

Last night this picture, taken near the village of Winsford in North Devon, served only to add to the puzzle.

Winsford is ten miles from Rackenford, where Emperor was last seen alive more than two weeks ago.

Wildlife tracker Dave Webb has been running deer safaris on Exmoor for five years and has seen the Emperor many times over the years.

Myth: Since Emperor's death was reported, no evidence has been produced to support the kill, leading local villagers to believe that he could still be alive

Mr Webb searched for the giant stag from dawn in the hills around Winsford yesterday and believes his efforts could have paid off in the form of this photo, taken shortly before dusk.

He said: ‘The stag in the picture could indeed be the Emperor. The space between his antlers is very similar to that of the Emperor.

‘There are a few large stags around the area at the moment and it is possible that someone shot one of those and not the Emperor.

‘The only way you would be able to confirm whether it was him or not would be to look at his antlers.

‘Unfortunately, the photograph was taken too far away to tell for sure but it could be possible. I would like to see it closer up and face on to tell if it was definitely him.’

Murder mystery: Since the death of Emperor was reported, there have been numerous reported sightings of the beast

The tentative sighting is unlikely to be the last to excite those searching for the animal.

The only facts they have is that some time around dawn on October 8 two women who have been able to observe Emperor for the best part of a year on 80 acres they own at Rackenford heard two shots – and the once much-spotted stag has not been seen since.

This weekend is expected to see record numbers out on Exmoor mounting their own searches for the elusive stag, or the sad proof that he is dead.

As far as those who live there were concerned last night, the hunt for Emperor is still on.

source: dailymail

Friday, October 29, 2010

Grandmother whose 'micro pig' grew into eight-stone hog says 'I was told porkies by the man who sold it to me'


Hogwash: Pensioner Margaret Smith was told the micro pig she bought would grow to just 12 inches - but now it is an eight-stone monster hog named Pigwig

It was supposed to be a cute companion to a pensioner that would spend its days snuffling around her home.

But after Margaret Smith spent £450 on her so-called micro pig, she was shocked when the the creature started to grow longer than the 12 inches she was assured it would reach.

It wasn't long before Margaret realised she had been told a few porkies and that instead of being the owner of a micro pig, she was sharing her home with a monster eight-stone hog.

The last straw came when the hog she named Pigwig tore a radiator off the wall and the 65-year-old had to move the beast outside and contain it with a stable door.
Margaret has now set up a Facebook group called 'the truth about minipigs' which has almost 150 members who have had similar experiences.

Members travel around the country to inspect each others' hefty hogs.
Margaret, of Ringwood, Hants, said: 'Pigwig was only as big as chick when I bought him.

'But when he was about seven months old he suddenly shot up and we couldn't even pick him up any more.

'It was ridiculous, I phoned the breeder and demanded my money back. He's an incredibly powerful pig but it's not his fault.

Margaret Smith with her the piglet she was told was a micro pig. It grew so big it tore a radiator off the wall

'The breeder did not tell us the truth about his size but we love Pigwig anyway, he's a very happy and mischievous pig.'

After Margaret's complaint the breeder agreed to refund her most of the 450 pounds she had paid for the pig.

Now she has also also bought a kuene kuene pig, which are smaller than average pigs, after Pigwig became lonely.

Margaret's daughter, Emma, 26, said: 'I don't believe there was ever such a thing as a micropig, they were just called that when they were piglets and sold before they grew.

How they should look: Micro piglets were the next big (or tiny) thing, favoured by pop stars and celebrities

'We've heard about people who have one bedroom flats and buy them but then suddenly they grow and they have to get rid of them.

'It's actually quite sad because they have been interbred to keep them smaller but then they can become ill and die.

'People have seen David Beckham and Paris Hilton with them and are falling over themselves to get hold of one - some are paying up to 1,200 pounds.'

source: dailymail

A baby lowland gorilla

A baby lowland gorilla munches on pumpkin in its habitat at the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo on October 26, 2010 in Washington, DC.

A baby lowland gorilla in its habitat at the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo on October 26, 2010 in Washington, DC.

A baby lowland gorilla looks out from its habitat at the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo on October 26, 2010 in Washington, DC.

A baby lowland gorilla in its habitat at the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo on October 26, 2010 in Washington, DC.

Photo: Gettyimages

Mjukuu, a female western lowland gorilla

Mjukuu, a female western lowland gorilla, rests with her newborn baby at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) London Zoo in this undated handout photo. First-time mother Mjukuu gave birth on the afternoon of October 26, 2010 to the healthy male gorilla, according to a media release by the ZSL.

Mjukuu, a female western lowland gorilla, plays with her newborn baby at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) London Zoo in this undated handout photo. First-time mother Mjukuu gave birth on the afternoon of October 26, 2010 to the healthy male gorilla, according to a media release by the ZSL

Mjukuu, a female western lowland gorilla, cradles her newborn baby at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) London Zoo in this undated handout photo. First-time mother Mjukuu gave birth on the afternoon of October 26, 2010 to the healthy male gorilla, according to a media release by the ZSL.

photo: Reuters

Two Orangutans watch zoo goers from high on a cable

An Orangutan watches zoo goers from high on a cable that stretches one side of the habitat to the other at the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo on October 26, 2010 in Washington, DC.

Two Orangutans watch zoo goers from high on a cable that stretches one side of their habitat to the other at the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo on October 26, 2010 in Washington, DC.

Two Orangutans watch zoo goers from a perch in their habitat at the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo on October 26, 2010 in Washington, DC.

photo: Gettyimages

Meet Jack, the sheepdog that was so good no one knew he was blind


Superdog: Despite his blindness Jack was so good at herding sheep that he won the hearts of the family, who have now kept him as a pet

It's only fair to make allowances for a newcomer.

So when their new sheepdog missed rounding up the occasional ewe, farmers Barry and Liz Edwards put it down to inexperience and gave him a bit of extra training.

After all, their new recruit was a willing learner, had settled well into the farm and won the hearts of the family.

Unknown to them, it was amazing that Jack was doing any work at all. The four-year-old sheepdog was blind – a fact the Edwards only discovered when he ran straight into a wooden peg sticking out of the ground.

A check-up with the vet confirmed Jack had lost vision in both eyes. It changed their view of him from a trainee with a few teething problems to undisputed superdog.

Read more:
'An inspiration': Owner Liz Edwards says that Jack carried on as if nothing had happened

‘He is such an inspiration,’ said Mrs Edwards, who has 150 breeding ewes and 100 cows on the family’s farm at Warmington, Cheshire.

‘This dog goes blind and yet he has carried on as if nothing has happened. He must have had our farm mapped out in his head. He knows exactly where everything is.’

The Edwards bought Jack for £1,250 from a farmer and sheepdog trainer in March last year.

In hindsight, they believe he was probably going blind when he was being trained. Certainly the trainer had no idea he had problems with his vision. Jack is believed to have lost his eyesight because of a disease he picked up from something he ate.

When he arrived on the farm at lambing time he wasn’t required to herd sheep immediately and was ‘given time to settle in’.

There were a few incidents, such as when he failed to move out the way of a flailing cow and injured his back leg. But the family thought nothing of them.
Now Jack, who is taking part in the Drontal pet competition, has been retired and is being kept simply as a pet.

‘He has a great quality of life,’ Mrs Edwards said. ‘He can chase and fetch a ball, as long as it makes a noise and he still occasionally rounds the sheep up. He really is incredible.’

source :dailymail

So THAT'S how the elephant got its trunk (in a lucky escape from a crocodile)


Tug of war: The baby elephant digs his feet into the mud as tries to pull his stretching trunk out of the crocodile's jaws

It looks like the perfect illustration for the tale of how the elephant got its trunk.

Sadly for this youngster, however, this was no scene from Kipling’s Just So Stories but all-too-painful reality.

Under the watchful eye of its family, the baby elephant had gone to the edge of an African waterhole for a drink.

Cooling off: There was no sign of the impending danger as the herd of elephants met at a watering hole to have a drink

Unfortunately, the leafy pond was perfect camouflage for a hungry crocodile, which clamped its teeth on to the end of its surprised victim’s trunk and began a tug-of-war.

Or, as Kipling writes in The Elephant’s Child: ‘And the Elephant’s Child spread all his little four legs and pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and his nose kept on stretching; and the Crocodile threshed his tail like an oar, and he pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and at each pull the Elephant’s Child’s nose grew longer and longer – and it hurt him...’

Spooked: Sensing something was wrong the elephants scattered in all directions, however the baby was left behind

A happy ending: Safely recovered, the baby takes a stroll across the waterhole wirth other members of the herd

Hearing the baby’s calls of distress, the herd of elephants immediately went to its rescue, scaring off the crocodile by trumpeting and stamping the ground. After the attack the herd stayed with the youngster.

When the baby had recovered the herd crossed the waterhole together in safety, only yards from where the crocodile had been hiding.

These pictures were taken by amateur photographer Johan Opperman in the Kruger National Park in South Africa.

He said: ‘The crocodile was hoping for a nice lunch with elephant on the menu.
‘From a couple of experts, I’ve heard that this is very rare, and that crocodiles do not normally try to catch elephants.’

source :dailymail

Thursday, October 28, 2010

First gorilla to be born at London Zoo for 20 years... but he will never see his father


Breakthrough: The baby gorilla has become the first to be born at London Zoo in 20 years and is pictured today with its mother. Both are said to be doing well

After tragedy, there was joy in the gorilla enclosure at London Zoo today with the arrival of a new baby - the first to be born there in 20 years.

And now staff are starting the delicate process of introducing the as-yet unnamed male to the head of the family - hulking Kesho.

The newborn western lowland gorilla was born to mother Mjukuu, 12, on Tuesday.

His father, Yeboah, died at the zoo in March after arriving in November 2009. He had been brought in as a mate to three female gorillas, Mjukuu, Zaire and Effie.

Yeboah was the second male gorilla to die at the zoo after Bobby, a 25-year-old silverback, died in December 2008.

Staff at the zoo began the 'sensitive' process of introducing the baby gorilla to his step-father, 11-year-old Kesho.

Mother and baby: The gorilla is expected to grow into a 25-stone silverback gorilla

In a statement, the zoo said: 'Introducing the baby to Kesho is not without its risks, however staff are making every effort to assist a smooth introduction and hopefully ensure the gorillas form a cohesive family group.'

Visitors to the Gorilla Kingdom attraction were also being told they may have to wait to see the young gorilla because of the delicate introduction process.

The baby was born after a labour described as 'straightforward' and was closely monitored by zoo staff. He is expected to grow up to become a 25-stone silverback gorilla.

Zoological director David Field said: 'Mother and baby are both doing brilliantly, although it's still early days.

'Aunties' Zaire and Effie were at the birth and have remained with Mjukuu throughout.'

The baby gorilla was getting 'lots of cuddles' this morning as zoo staff prepared to introduce him to 25-stone Kesho.

His step-father, who arrived in London from Dublin Zoo, is 11 in human years and 18 in gorilla years.

A spokeswoman for ZSL said staff were keeping a close eye on mother and baby as they bonded in their enclosure.

She said: 'The keepers said they are doing really well. The baby is with mum and he is getting lots of cuddles.'

Habitat:The baby gorilla will live at Gorilla Kingdom at London Zoo which has been designed to keep its gorilla inhabitants entertained

source: dailymail

Out of Asia? Ancient ancestor of modern man walked Sahara 39million years ago


Afrotarsius (top left) Karanesia (top right) Biretia (bottom left) and Talahpithecus (bottom Right) were early pre-cursors to humans

The human family tree may have to be rewritten after scientists found evidence that the ancient ancestors of humans, apes and monkeys evolved in Asia - rather than Africa - tens of millions of years ago.

The astonishing claim follows the discovery of four species of early primate in the Sahara desert, dating back 39 million years.

The creatures - or anthropoid primates - are unlike anything seen before in Africa from the same time period or before, suggesting that they evolved elsewhere.

Scientists say there is overwhelming fossil evidence that mankind evolved from ape-like creatures in Africa, two to three million years ago.

The last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees lived five to seven million years ago, while we split off from the gorilla branch of the family tree around 10 million years ago.

Many researchers have believe that the common ancestors of all apes, monkeys and humans also evolved in Africa.

But the new finding challenges that view.

'If our ideas are correct, this early colonization of Africa by anthropoids was a truly pivotal event—one of the key points in our evolutionary history,' says Dr Christopher Beard, of Carnegie Museum of Natural History and an author on the paper in today’s Nature journal.

At the time, Africa was an island continent. When these anthropoids appeared, there was nothing on that island that could compete with them, he said.

'It led to a period of flourishing evolutionary divergence amongst anthropoids, and one of those lineages resulted in humans. If our early anthropoid ancestors had not succeeded in migrating from Asia to Africa, we simply wouldn’t exist.'

Although the researchers found only fossilised teeth at the Dur At-Talah escarpment - part of the unspoilt, remote Sahara in central Libya - they have a rough idea of their size and shape.

The ascent of man: Human evolution, from apelike beings of 20million years ago to modern man

The four creatures were small, weighing between four and 16 ounces, and resembled monkeys or lemurs.

Three of the creatures came from distinct families, or 'clades', of primates - showing that they had been evolving from a common ancestor for a long time.

The researchers say there is no evidence of similar primates from Africa before 39 million years ago.

So either there is a “striking gap” in the fossil record of North Africa - despite more than 100 years of fossil hunting expeditions in the region - or the early primates came from elsewhere, said Dr Beard.

“This extraordinary new fossil site in Libya shows us that 39 million years ago there was a surprising diversity of anthropoids living in Africa, whereas few if any anthropoids are known from Africa before this time,” he said.

“This sudden appearance of such diversity suggests that these anthropoids probably colonised Africa from somewhere else. Without earlier fossil evidence in Africa, we’re currently looking to Asia as the place where these animals first evolved.”

The human family tree gets more complicated with every new fossil discovery.
Scientists now believe the first human like ancestors or hominids appeared around two to three million years ago.

The first homo sapiens appeared around 400,000 years ago, while modern humans emerged in the last 100,000 years.

The latest thinking is that modern humans evolved in Africa and left to colonise the world around 50,000 to 1000 years ago.

There they met the descendants of previous migrants who had left Africa much earlier - including the Neanderthals of Europe.

source: dailymail

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Who said I wanted to learn how to swim? Lion cub is less than impressed after dip in zoo moat


Wet and wild: The unhappy lion cub tries out swimming in the moat at the zoo in Washington DC

They say elephants never forget, but what about grumpy lion cubs forced to do something they hate?

Let's hope this little growler doesn't remember who decided to find out if he could swim, when he grows up.

The eight-week-old cub didn't appear to be very pleased at all when he was 'thrown in the deep end' in a zoo's moat in Washington DC.

Making a splash: The lion cub does not appear to be best pleased to find itself having to doggy paddle

Water torture: The reluctant lion cub finally gets into the swim of things at the zoo

And he he didn't seem to appreciate being grabbed by scruff of his neck either as he was gently put in the water.

Cats, big or small hate the wet stuff, but the staff at the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo were just being very considerate.

Zookeeper Craig Saffoe and his colleagues Leigh Pitsko had to conduct swimming tests on four of the lion cubs to make sure they could negotiate the moat.

The cats went in one at a time and the reaction was exactly the same - that's grrrruesome!

The moat surrounds the lion habitat, so once that hurdle is cleared, the cubs will then be allowed to join their mother and go on display to the public later this year.

Water torture: The lion cub touches water for the first time and isn't impressed at all

In you go: Zookeeper Craig Saffoe pus the cub into the moat at the Smithsonian Institute's zoo and then he's joined by colleague Leigh Pitsko as they take the bedraggled cub off to be dried after its unexpected swim

source: dailymail

I'm over here... Polar bear says hello to Arctic cruise ship with a friendly wave


Hans missed the amazing moment the first two times and had to wait for the bear to take part in a third and final performance

Living in the limelight can be difficult but as these fantastic pictures show for one bear the tourist train never stops.

This arctic animal loves nothing more than an audience and will even climb out of his snowy bed to give the crowd a wave.

The antics of the friendly polar bear were caught on camera by Swedish photographer, Hans Strand.

During a cruise through Svalbard in the Arctic, the 54-year-old snapped the fame-hungry bear as he came out to pose for the excited crowd.

But it was third time lucky for Hans who missed the amazing moment the first two times and had to wait for the bear to take part in a third and final performance.
Hans, from Stockholm, said: 'I was on board the ship just taking in the view when I suddenly saw a head pop up from behind the ice about 15 yards away.

'Everyone on the ship got really excited and started rushing over to the one side to get a better view.

'He was yawning as though he'd just woken up but even so he seemed to be enjoying all the attention and walked over to us.

'He waved twice and everyone was pointing and cheering but I had to change the battery in my camera.

'I was willing him to wave a third time and then he finally lifted his hand and started again. Thankfully I managed to capture the shot.

'After that he kept standing up on his back legs and playing up to the camera.
'He was really enjoying himself and kept us entertained for a good few minutes.
'I couldn't believe it, I've never seen anything like it before.'

The fame-hungry bear as he came out to pose for the excited crowd

Hans, from Stockholm, said: 'I was on board the ship just taking in the view when I suddenly saw a head pop up from behind the ice

source : dailymail

Paul the psychic 'World Cup octopus' is found dead


Paul correctly predicted the results of six World Cup games involving Germany, including the final when he went for Spain

He probably saw it coming. But for fans of Paul the psychic octopus, the news of his sudden death yesterday was a shock.

The British-born oracle, who dazzled the world with his accurate World Cup predictions over the summer, passed away peacefully in his tank in Germany.

His owners – who turned down lucrative offers for the octopus from zoos and restaurants around the world – say he died of natural causes, and that there was nothing fishy about his end.

Paul passed away in the night aged two and a half years, when all three of his hearts ceased to beat at once.

He was unmarried and leaves no larvae.

‘Management and staff of the Oberhausen Sea Life Aquarium were devastated when Paul was found dead,’ the centre said in a statement.

‘We will erect a monument to the little brown octopus whose astounding predictive powers turned him into the true star of the tournament.’

The unlikely celebrity was one of the few bright spots in a bleak summer of World Cup football for England fans.

He correctly predicted Germany’s results throughout the championship by selecting mussels from boxes draped in the colours of teams about to meet on the pitch in South Africa.

He also correctly forecast the result of the final between Holland and Spain. The odds of him getting all eight predictions right were one in 256 – but he succeeded.

After his summer triumph he was appointed ambassador for England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup. He spent his last few months in retirement, feasting on clams and mussels.

Yesterday, tributes to the octopus poured in from around the world.
‘Paul delighted people from all continents with his seven consecutive correct predictions for the matches of the German national team and for the final,’ said the aquarium’s general manager, Stefan Porwoll. ‘He was dear to all our hearts and we will sorely miss him. He died peacefully in the night of a natural death.

‘It is a comforting thought that he had a good life with us with the best possible care delivered by a committed team.

‘His success made him almost a bigger story than the World Cup itself.

‘We may decide to give Paul his own small burial plot within our grounds and erect a modest permanent shrine. While this may seem a curious thing to do for a sea creature, Paul achieved such popularity during his short life that it may be deemed the most appropriate course of action.’

Paul was hatched from an egg in January 2008 at the Sea Life Centre in Weymouth, where he spent his formative years as a larva before moving to Germany.

After predicting Spain’s World Cup victory he became a hero in Iberia, and Spanish businessmen raised around £26,000 as a ‘transfer fee’ to have Paul as the main attraction at a gastronomic festival.

Manuel Pazo, a fisherman and head of a business club in the northwestern Spanish town of O Carballino, made assurances that Paul would be presented alive in a tank and not on the menu. But his owners rejected the offer.

Paul will achieve immortality in a range of enterprises, from clothing lines to mobile phone applications. He will also feature in a documentary to be released next year.

His final prediction was that England would win the right to host the World Cup in 2018.

source: dailymail

Bees' tiny brains able to beat computers at complex mathematical problems


Bees are able to calculate the shortest distance to a number of different flowers

Bees can solve complex mathematical problems which keep computers busy for days, research has shown.

The tiny insects learn to fly the shortest possible route between flowers discovered in random order.

Effectively, they are capable of solving the 'travelling salesman problem' - unlike any other animal known besides humans, say scientists.

The classic conundrum involves finding the shortest route that allows a travelling salesman to call at all the locations he has to visit.

Computers solve the problem by comparing the length of all possible routes and choosing the one that is shortest.

Bees manage to reach the same solution using a brain the size of a grass seed.
Dr Nigel Raine, from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London, said: 'Foraging bees solve travelling salesman problems every day. They visit flowers at multiple locations and, because bees use lots of energy to fly, they find a route which keeps flying to a minimum.'

Dr Raine's team used computer-controlled artificial flowers to test bee behaviour.
The researchers wanted to know whether bees would follow a simple route defined by the order in which they found the flowers, or look for the shortest route.

After exploring the location of the flowers, bees quickly learned to fly the best route for saving time and energy.

The research, due to appear this week in the journal The American Naturalist, has implications for the human world.

Modern living depends on networks such as traffic flows, internet information, and business supply chains.

Learning how bees solve the travelling salesman problem with such a tiny brain may lead to simple ways of managing these everyday connections.

'Despite their tiny brains bees are capable of extraordinary feats of behaviour,' said Dr Raine. 'We need to understand how they can solve the travelling salesman problem without a computer. What short cuts do they use?'

source: dailymail

Discovered, the unfortunate monkey with a misshapen nose which makes it sneeze when it rains


Oddity: The snub-nosed monkey, Rhinopithecus strykeri, has upturned nostrils which collect rain and is pictured in this computer-generated image

A new species of monkey with an unfortunate infliction caused by the shape of its face has been discovered in the forests of northern Burma.

The snub-nosed monkey, Rhinopithecus strykeri, has upturned nostrils that fill with water when it rains, making the creature sneeze.

Although new to science, local people living near its habitat say the monkeys are easy to spot in rainy weather.

To avoid sneezing, the animals spend days sitting with their heads tucked between their knees.

R. strykeri is known as 'mey nwoah' - 'monkey with an upturned face' - in the local language.

The black-furred monkey is believed to live in a confined area around the Maw River in Kachin State, north-eastern Burma, now renamed Myanmar.

Around 260 to 330 individuals are thought to inhabit a distribution area of just 270 square kilometres.

As a result, the animal is officially classified as 'critically endangered' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

An international team of biologists and primatologists made the discovery early this year after following up reports of sightings by local hunters.

The monkeys are believed to spend the summer months between May and October at higher altitudes in mixed temperate forests.

In winter, when snowfall makes food scarcer, they descend closer to human settlements.

Artist's impression: Just 330 individuals are thought to exist i a small area of jungle in Myanmar

Mark Rose, chief executive of the conservation group Fauna & Flora International, whose experts helped to locate the monkey, said: 'We are committed to taking immediate conservation action to safeguard the survival of this important new species, together with our partners and local communities in Myanmar.'

Species of snub-nosed monkey are found in parts of China and Vietnam, and all are considered endangered.

Until now no species have been reported in Burma.

The new species is threatened by the construction of logging roads through its habitat by Chinese companies.

source: dailymail

A fifth of the world's animals face oblivion: Scientists fear 'sixth mass extinction' has begun


The panda is one of those species most at risk according to the list

One in five of the world's mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians are under threat of extinction, according to a major new stock take of life on Earth.

The shocking study found that the number of endangered vertebrates, or animals with backbones, is still rising and that humans are largely to blame.

Many scientists believe the world is going through a 'sixth mass extinction' and that more wildlife is going extinct now than at any time since the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago.

The report comes as governments are taking part in UN talks in Nagoya, Japan to tackle the global threat to wildlife.

It looked at the status of more than 25,000 species on the Red List - a database of threatened animals created by the respected International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Around 20 per cent of the world's vertebrates are threatened, including 25 per cent of all mammals, 13 per cent of birds, 22 per cent of reptiles and 41 per cent of amphibians.

The scientists also found that 33 per cent of 'cartilaginous' fish - species such as shark, rays and skates whose skeletons are made from cartilage, were threatened, along with 15 per cent of bony fish.

Species at risk include the iconic polar bear, panda and Iberian lynx. Others include the Tasmanian devil - which has been badly hit by an infectious form of cancer, the Caspian seal and the Asian fishing cat.

British species on the list include the European eel whose numbers have plummeted by 99 per cent because of pollution and overfishing, the schelly - one of Britain's rarest freshwater fish which is found in only four lakes in the Lake District, and the aquatic warbler - a yellow brown visitor to southern Britain in the late summer.

The report, published in the journal Science and written by 174 scientists, found that an average of 52 species of mammals, birds and amphibians slide a step closer to extinction every year - moving into a more threatened category on the list.

One of the world's leading ecologists, Professor Edward O. Wilson, from Harvard University, warned: 'The 'backbone' of biodiversity is being eroded.

'One small step up the Red List is one giant leap forward towards extinction. This is just a small window on the global losses taking place.'

Southeast Asia is losing most wildlife thanks to the expansion of agriculture, the logging and burning of forests and over-hunting. Species are also threatened by the invasion of alien species from other countries.

The report showed that extinction rates had exceeded the normal background rates by two or three orders of magnitude over the last 40 years.

However, without action from conservationists, the situation would have been far worse - with 20 per cent more species moving into a more threatened category.

Sixty four species had seen an improvement in their status as a result of work to help protect them and their habitat.

'This paper is proof that conservation is working. Now we have to scale-up our efforts to match the unprecedented threats faced by the natural world,' said Prof Jonathan Baillie, Director of Conservation Programmes at the Zoological Society of London.

A separate report by the Zoological Society of London warned that common animals were also declining.

The Evolution Lost report said populations of mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and fish species had declined on average by 30 per cent in the past 40 years.

Over the past decades, land mammal populations are estimated to have declined by a quarter, marine fish by a fifth and freshwater fish by up to 65 per cent.

The report also warned that entire 'lineages' of species such as marine turtles and pandas are on the brink of being lost - with no similar species able to fill the ecological niches or functions they inhabit.

The world's largest animal the Blue Whale is also under threat from hunting. Talks are currently underway to tackle the global threat to wildlife

source: dailymail

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