Wild View http://blog.wcs.org/photo/ An Eye on Wildlife (c) 2017 Wildlife Conservation Society, All Rights Reserved en-us Sun, 19 Feb 2017 11:55:09 +0000 Sun, 19 Feb 2017 11:55:09 +0000 Whales and Dolphins of Tanzania http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/02/18/whales-and-dolphins-of-tanzania/
I probably shouldn’t confess this, but until recently, I had no idea how many species of whales and dolphins were found in Tanzania. It is small consolation to discover I am not alone in this lack of knowledge. Research to produce illustrations for this poster revealed confirmed sightings of 19 cetaceans – including three first recorded by the Wildlife Conservation Society – and the high probability of six other species based on regional records. All this highlights just how much remains unknown about many of these marvelous animals, including their behavior, population numbers, preferred habitat, diet, and, most crucially, threats. Science underpins all of WCS’s work and provides the basis for guiding conservation. Communicating the findings of research is therefore a key component of protecting species and their habitats. Through creating posters like this (above), we aim to raise awareness of Tanzania’s amazing biodiversity and inspire people to get involved in its protection. Editor’s Note: Today is World Whale Day raising awareness of the need to conserve these giants of the ocean.

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Sat, 18 Feb 2017 11:00:39 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/02/18/whales-and-dolphins-of-tanzania/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/02/18/whales-and-dolphins-of-tanzania/#comments 0
Striking Symmetry http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/02/16/striking-symmetry-namibia-africa-gemsbok-antelope/
As I drive along a dusty road in Namibia’s Etosha National Park, I notice a small herd of antelope in the distance. As I approach them quietly, the unmistakable tan coats, long and heavily grooved horns, and striking black and white face masks reveal that I am in the presence of gemsbok, or as they are also called, the southern oryx. Gemsbok live in the deserts, scrubland, and brushland of Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa, and are truly adapted to harsh dry conditions such as those in Etosha. They are able to extract all the moisture they require from the vegetation they eat and survive for most of the year without drinking water. I stop the car and notice two young males that have separated from the rest of the herd and are parading side by side. Suddenly, they stop, face each other, and slam their heads together. As the animals duel in the desert dust, I am fascinated by symmetry of their face masks when their heads clash. After a few shots, I capture the striking pattern created by the jostling heads.

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Thu, 16 Feb 2017 11:00:46 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/02/16/striking-symmetry-namibia-africa-gemsbok-antelope/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/02/16/striking-symmetry-namibia-africa-gemsbok-antelope/#comments 0
Reflecting on Waterfowl http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/02/13/reflecting-on-waterfowl-bird-bronx-zoo-duck/
During each of my visits to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, I make it a point to stop at the ponds to check out the waterfowl. While I enjoy the goldeneyes, mergansers, and ruddy ducks, I’m always eager to see the wood ducks. Wood ducks are among my favorite photo subjects. The hen is pretty although not as colorful as the drake. The male’s spectacular plumage in wild color combinations make it seem almost artificial. This wood duck drake, standing on some ice along the stream, struck me as a rather comical pose.

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Mon, 13 Feb 2017 11:00:32 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/02/13/reflecting-on-waterfowl-bird-bronx-zoo-duck/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/02/13/reflecting-on-waterfowl-bird-bronx-zoo-duck/#comments 0
Calling All Bird Lovers http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/02/09/calling-all-bird-lovers/
Yes, it’s cold outside, and you may feel like staying in your home to hibernate. Instead, come to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo this season. Each winter, the artists from the WCS Exhibits and Graphic Design department are enlisted to maintain and improve the bird displays. They have accomplished a great deal. The red-legged seriemas, Cariama cristata, are enjoying their indoor flight with a new mural, perching, and fresh plantings. Red-legged seriemas capture the attention of our zoo visitors inside the Aquatic Bird House with their loud vocalizations that sound like a yelping puppy. In their native range from the grasslands of eastern Brazil to northern Argentina, seriemas benefit people as “watch birds” by protecting chicken coops with their boisterous calls when predators are near, but their numbers in other areas are declining due to hunting and degrading habitats. You can see our seriemas year round. They will again be outside on Astor Court this summer.

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Thu, 09 Feb 2017 11:00:08 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/02/09/calling-all-bird-lovers/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/02/09/calling-all-bird-lovers/#comments 0
Uptown Wildlife http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/02/06/uptown-wildlife-snow-leopard-central-park-zoo/
Have you ever wondered how biologists can identify individual snow leopards? It is something everyone can do. Each snow leopard has a unique spot pattern, like a fingerprint, that identifies it as an individual. But if we want to identify them, we must first keep them from going extinct. There are only 3,000 to 7,500 snow leopards left in the world today. To be able to see snow leopards is awesome. River and Summit live at the Central Park Zoo. I got to watch them interact with each other. I also found out that they are twins just like my brother and I. Both the Central Park Zoo and Bronx Zoo have snow leopards. Both zoos are part of the Wildlife Conservation Society, an organization that is working to save these big cats so future generations can identify them, too.

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Mon, 06 Feb 2017 11:00:30 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/02/06/uptown-wildlife-snow-leopard-central-park-zoo/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/02/06/uptown-wildlife-snow-leopard-central-park-zoo/#comments 1
Kinship with a Grumpy Cat http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/02/02/kinship-with-a-grumpy-cat-asia/
I feel kinship with the Pallas’s cat, also called a manul. These flat-headed animals, about the size of obese housecats, are the grumpy uncles of the cat world. They are pudgy, disheveled beasts that plod along the high-altitude Central Asian steppe hunting small mammals and birds. Manuls are listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species due to habitat loss and hunting of these cats and their prey. Grace and agility are common feline attributes — the manul and I lack them both. Their default expressions are ones of apparent disapproval or suspicion. Manuls probably think they are lithe and balletic, but they are not. They hide behind rocks too small to conceal their girth, and they are poor runners who exhaust easily. Me? Check, check, and check. Having recognized these shared attributes, I feel affection for the manul. The manul? It probably doesn’t care what I think.

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Thu, 02 Feb 2017 11:00:49 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/02/02/kinship-with-a-grumpy-cat-asia/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/02/02/kinship-with-a-grumpy-cat-asia/#comments 2
A Lizard from a Land Like No Other http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/01/31/a-lizard-from-a-land-like-no-other-iguana-madagascar/
Madagascar is home to only a few species of lizards in the family Iguanidae. Most of the others live in the New World. One exception is the Madagascan spiny-tailed iguana (Oplurus cuvieri) found in the northern and western parts of this island off the east coast of Africa. It is the largest known member in genus (Oplurus), which is comprised of six species native to Madagascar. Though not endangered, it is threatened by habitat destruction and exploitation as food by the local population as well as the introduction of non-native species. Mostly arboreal in nature, this lizard can remain motionless on the trunk of a tree camouflaged by black, white, and grey speckled scales as it waits for unsuspecting prey, primarily insects, to come within range. When threatened, it will retreat to the crevice of a rock or tree trunk. If unable to completely conceal itself, this iguana has adapted to shield its body with its heavily armored and spiked tail. After breeding occurs, a female iguana will lay her eggs in the ground. She disguises her nest by covering it with sand, leaves, and twigs in the hope of protecting her offspring (above, a hatchling) from the giant hognose snake (Leioheterodon madagascariensis.)

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Tue, 31 Jan 2017 11:00:25 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/01/31/a-lizard-from-a-land-like-no-other-iguana-madagascar/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/01/31/a-lizard-from-a-land-like-no-other-iguana-madagascar/#comments 0
Year of the Rooster http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/01/28/year-of-the-rooster-junglefowl-malaysia/
According to the Chinese Zodiac calendar, worldwide, the Year of the Rooster begins on January 28. This also means that the Year of the Monkey ends on January 27. Among the monkeys seen by our Wildlife Conservation Society field staff throughout Malaysia this past year include species such as gibbons, langurs, macaques, and the Bornean endemic, the proboscis monkey. The orangutan, which is an ape, is sometimes also considered a monkey by local communities in Sarawak. A check on our ‘rooster-like’ list of birds in our WCS field sites include the following: junglefowl, crested fireback, crestless fireback, Bulwer’s pheasant, mountain peacock pheasant, Malayan peacock pheasant, and of, course the great Argus pheasant with its piercing calls. Much has been highlighted about the poaching and killing of tigers, killing of elephants for their ivory, and the mass harvest of pangolins throughout their range. Is there any wildlife trade concerning these rooster-like, ground-dwelling birds? Sadly, it appears that there is. Bulwer’s pheasants were sought after by breeders throughout the late 1980s and 1990s as they were rare and exotic. A wild pair of Bulwer’s was rumored to be valued at about $10,000. The firebacks were not as sought after as they were less ‘handsome’ or rare. And what about the other birds, such as the junglefowl, the ancestor to the domestic chicken? From the 1980s to 2000s, there was not much trade in junglefowl as they were initially merely seen as ‘wild chickens’. However, worryingly, some quarters are now viewing these majestic, colorful birds as having medicinal or magical properties. There is concern that there may be increased demand for these wild birds, and this, coupled with the continued loss of habitats to commercial agriculture could mean decreased distribution of junglefowl throughout their range in Malaysia (above, a green junglefowl, a relative of the red junglefowl, has similar conservation issues in Indonesia.) All over Malaysia, in wild areas where WCS is operating, anti-poaching efforts are carried out using SMART software to stop all wildlife trade that is deemed illegal. This would include focusing on poaching of junglefowl and other pheasant-like birds. Let us hope that our work is successful. All of us would love to hear rooster-like calls into the future ranging from the piercing calls of the Argus pheasant to the cock-a-doodle-do of the junglefowl.

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Sat, 28 Jan 2017 11:00:03 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/01/28/year-of-the-rooster-junglefowl-malaysia/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/01/28/year-of-the-rooster-junglefowl-malaysia/#comments 0
Is That a Rock or a Rhino? http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/01/26/is-that-a-rock-or-a-rhino-namibia-africa/
Large animals in the wild can be surprisingly difficult to spot. Many times, I’ve seen elephant or giraffe melt away into the surrounding bush land as if they were never there. You wouldn’t think you’d have that problem in the desert—but I did. Damaraland, in the northwest of Namibia, is a rugged landscape with abundant sunshine and little vegetation to block the view. Despite what would seem like ideal animal viewing conditions, I almost missed a black rhino right in front of me. Rhinos spend a lot of time sleeping in the heat of the day, and passing by a Damara milk bush (Euphorbia damarana), my eye failed to pick out the male rhino sleeping in the afternoon sun until I was almost past him. In my peripheral vision, I thought he was a rock. Looking closer, I realized it was one of the elusive desert black rhinos that I had specifically come to see.

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Thu, 26 Jan 2017 11:00:29 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/01/26/is-that-a-rock-or-a-rhino-namibia-africa/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/01/26/is-that-a-rock-or-a-rhino-namibia-africa/#comments 0
A Quail Tale http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/01/23/a-quail-tale-bird-california/
In May of 2015, I spent a month volunteering at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California. Every day I would get up at the crack of dawn and bike through the Marin Headlands on my way to work. The morning was always cold as the fog rolled through the valley, but by midday the hills would come alive with all manner of critters looking to catch the sun. Every so often I’d see a bobcat running the trail, but only for a second, and usually from a distance. I tried for a photograph a number of times, but I always came up empty-handed. Fortunately, the valley was teeming with life, so I set my sights on something a little less ambitious – a California quail. Charming and dapper, but less ambitious? Hardly! These birds are quick, agile, and unbelievably quiet. Not to mention timid. And there was no shortage of brush in the area. I sat next to a clearing and hoped for the best, but I soon learned that quails were clever. I went back to the brush and tried again. It wasn’t long before I happened upon one, but tracking its movements without scaring it off was a challenge in and of itself. Even if I managed to keep up, I still had to find an angle that provided a clear line of sight. It didn’t take long for the bird to slip past me unseen. Or so I thought. Perhaps it found refuge deep in the undergrowth. I decided to wait it out. Twenty minutes went by before the quail popped its little head out of the top of a nearby bush, no doubt checking to see if I was really that obstinate. Whatever the case may be, in the end, I got what I came for.

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Mon, 23 Jan 2017 11:00:19 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/01/23/a-quail-tale-bird-california/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/01/23/a-quail-tale-bird-california/#comments 1