Wild View http://blog.wcs.org/photo/ An Eye on Wildlife (c) 2017 Wildlife Conservation Society, All Rights Reserved en-us Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:29:32 +0000 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:29:32 +0000 Tiny Toads: Back to Tanzania http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/25/tiny-toads-back-to-tanzania-bronx-zoo-africa/
Part I   When working on a project for four years, one becomes very invested in its success – even if that success takes place almost 8,000 miles away. I’ve been the primary keeper of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Kihansi spray toad program at the Bronx Zoo for four years now.  These small amphibians, barely the size of a coin, were declared extinct in the wild in 2005 after their habitat was severely altered. The Bronx Zoo has been maintaining an assurance colony since 2000, and has been actively contributing animals to reintroduction efforts in Tanzania since 2012. I’ve taken part in a number of these shipments, but until last year, I’d never been to Tanzania in Africa to release Kihansi spray toads into the wild myself. Kihansi spray toads are only native to the wetlands located at the bottom of the Kihansi Falls in Tanzania. When I heard that I was going to be sent to their natural habitat in order to help with reintroduction efforts, I was thrilled. I knew it was going to be an intense journey, but I couldn’t wait to be a part in the reintroduction efforts in the spray toads’ natural habitat. Before I left for Tanzania with the WCS curator of herpetology, Don Boyer, we sent a shipment of 1,000 toads to our Tanzanian colleagues that we would meet up with upon our arrival in Africa. A week after sending the toads, and 23 hours after taking off from New York, we arrived at the airport in Tanzania’s capital, Dar es Salaam and connected with our Tanzanian friends and colleagues – a mix of government representatives, researchers, and university students – and began our long journey to the Kihansi Gorge. Editor’s Note: Animal Planet featured Shuter and Boyer’s trip to Tanzania on The Zoo.

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Tue, 25 Apr 2017 10:00:39 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/25/tiny-toads-back-to-tanzania-bronx-zoo-africa/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/25/tiny-toads-back-to-tanzania-bronx-zoo-africa/#comments 0
Gharials Grow Up to be Good Dads http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/21/gharials-grow-up-to-be-good-dads-india-bronx-zoo-earth-day/
Among the 25 currently recognized species of crocodylians, the Indian gharial stands out as the most morphologically peculiar (above, a juvenile). A large head, bulging eyes, and a long skinny snout holding up to 110 puncturing teeth make it a perfectly adapted predator to the North Indian river systems where they are fish specialists. Ranked among the largest crocodilian species along with the saltwater and Nile crocodiles, they can reach lengths up to 20 feet. For such a large crocodilian species with a limited range, little is known about their ecology. Gharials are currently listed as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List for Threatened Species. Intense monitoring in the field of radio-transmitted animals by the Gharial Conservation Alliance has discovered unique behaviors including bi-parental care in which the largest adult males have been observed defending big groups of offspring from multiple nests. EDITOR’S NOTE: Tomorrow is Earth Day, an annual event demonstrating support for environmental protection. Help bring awareness to gharials and other endangered wildlife and wild places by advocating for the importance of science. Check out ways you can support wherever you are here.

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Fri, 21 Apr 2017 10:00:27 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/21/gharials-grow-up-to-be-good-dads-india-bronx-zoo-earth-day/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/21/gharials-grow-up-to-be-good-dads-india-bronx-zoo-earth-day/#comments 0
Egret Encounter http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/18/egret-encounter-long-island-new-york-bird/
While driving on a June day, I stopped to observe a salt marsh on Long Island, New York. There, I found two snowy egrets engaged in territorial dispute. Likely vying for space to hunt, neither of these birds was willing to budge without a fight. As they leapt into the air, feathers flew and water splashed. The whole engagement lasted only a few seconds. The most ubiquitous animals on the island either have scales or feathers so they naturally became favorite subjects of mine to photograph. Birds are really fascinating. They have so much character. Whether hunting, flying, courting, or nurturing their young, birds can provide endless opportunities for images. EDITOR’S NOTE: This photo was chosen as the top submission for Wild View’s Animal Antics Assignment. Participate in our new Wild View assignment here.

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Tue, 18 Apr 2017 10:00:44 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/18/egret-encounter-long-island-new-york-bird/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/18/egret-encounter-long-island-new-york-bird/#comments 1
Great and Small: Leaf Frogs http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/13/great-and-small-leaf-frogs-amphibians/
Solomon Island leaf frogs are unusual in their appearance – and in their life cycle. Most frogs go from egg to tadpole to frog. Solomon Island leaf frogs are different in that they skip the tadpole stage. Four to six weeks after eggs are laid, tiny frogs that are replicas of their parents hatch. The hatchlings are fully formed with legs and lungs and are ready to fend for themselves. The tiny babies are gray in color to help camouflage them among the leaf litter of their tropical lowland forest home. As they develop, their color can change to orange, yellow, or green. EDITOR’S NOTE: April is National Frog Month. Participate in our Frogs Are Cool Wild View assignment here.

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Thu, 13 Apr 2017 10:00:47 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/13/great-and-small-leaf-frogs-amphibians/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/13/great-and-small-leaf-frogs-amphibians/#comments 0
Bearcat http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/10/bearcat-binturong-asia-borneo/
When thinking about bearcats, a song called “Do the Bearcat” by David Wilcox might come to mind. But the bearcat is a real animal that isn’t actually a bear or a cat. Bearcats, more commonly known as binturong, are mammals related to civets and can be found in the jungles of southeast Asia where they spend a lot of time in the trees eating fruit, especially figs. Binturongs eat other foods like insects, leaves, and roots, but as fruit eaters, they play an important role in maintaining forest biodiversity. By eating figs, traveling to other parts of the forest, and then defecating the seeds, they increase the chance of those seeds germinating and growing into adult trees. Binturongs are not strictly arboreal, although they do have a prehensile tail. They will venture to the forest floor to move between trees. Our camera traps in Borneo captured this binturong on the ground checking out some seeds we set out as part of a study to find out what influences animal diet choice around predators. Unfortunately, the main threat to binturongs is humans. Binturongs are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species, and their populations are decreasing due to habitat loss, hunting, and the pet trade. Scientists are still discovering much about the ecology of this little known animal. Determining their basic requirements for space and food will aid in binturong conservation efforts. EDITOR’S NOTE: Sign up to receive our favorite camera trap shots from the field to share with your friends.

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Mon, 10 Apr 2017 10:00:54 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/10/bearcat-binturong-asia-borneo/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/10/bearcat-binturong-asia-borneo/#comments 0
Welcome Back, Gharials http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/07/welcome-back-gharials-bronx-zoo-crocodile/
When the Bronx Zoo’s Jungle World opened in 1985, one of the landmark exhibit species was gharial crocodiles. Before the arrival of our new group of these unique animals, the Bronx Zoo’s Herpetology Department requested that the WCS Exhibit Shop develop a poolside site where the gharials could haul out to bask under full-spectrum ultraviolet lights. To warm the gharials, Exhibit Shop staff replaced the sandy beach with a 225 square foot cement pad, lined with thermostat-controlled heat cables. In addition, we built and installed a large artificial fallen branch to project over the beach, concealing five radiant heat panels and seven UV light fixtures. With the light and heat coming from this branch, and the heat radiating up from the beach, the gharials can warm up to 100°F while receiving much-needed ultraviolet radiation – sort of a toaster oven combined with a tanning bed. At 18 feet long, and with a five foot spread, the artificial branch (above) required significant structural support, and making it look credibly real was an aesthetic challenge. Before fabricating the steel structure at our facility behind the old World of Darkness, Senior Exhibit Specialist Carolyn Fuchs first worked out the armature requirements in a small model. She then figured out how to break up the armature into smaller modules, so our staff could transport the branch into the Jungle World building. In the photo, she is putting finishing touches on the fiberglass superstructure, in preparation for the final sculpting of the surface, done in soft epoxy dough. Once the branch was painted, our staff brought the components to Jungle World’s Gharial Beach and reassembled it onsite, tying it into the existing mudbank walls. We’re confident that the gharials are as excited about their new beach as we were when building it. EDITOR’S NOTE: The WCS Exhibit Shop constructs and renovates exhibits at the Bronx Zoo. Using steel, concrete, fiberglass, epoxy and paint, the shop designs and builds trees and rocks, fabricates museum-quality artifacts, paints murals, and creates enrichment devices to stimulate our animal collections.

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Fri, 07 Apr 2017 10:00:58 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/07/welcome-back-gharials-bronx-zoo-crocodile/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/07/welcome-back-gharials-bronx-zoo-crocodile/#comments 0
Gharial Day Care http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/05/gharial-day-care-bronx-zoo-reptile-india/
Gharial, Gharial gangeticus, are among the most unique and bizarre-looking of the crocodilians. They have long, narrow snouts studded with 100 needle-sharp teeth that they quickly swing through water to capture fish, their primary prey. Mature males develop a large, bulbous growth on the end of their snout called a ghara (the Hindi word for small pot) hence the name “gharial”. Male gharial establish a harem of females during the breeding season. The females lay approximately 40-80 eggs in nests on high, sandy banks. Both males and females are extremely protective of their nests and guard them around the clock. When the young are ready to hatch, they emit grunting vocalizations that alert the adults to gently excavate them from their nests. Hatchlings from multiple nests form large crèches, a type of gharial day care. The little ones stay close to the male, often utilizing his head and body as a convenient basking platform while floating in the river.

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Wed, 05 Apr 2017 10:00:37 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/05/gharial-day-care-bronx-zoo-reptile-india/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/05/gharial-day-care-bronx-zoo-reptile-india/#comments 0
Beautiful Bee-eaters http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/03/bee-eaters-hungary-bird/
These spectacular European bee-eaters were building nests in a sand bank and looking for mates. As I watched the spectacle, some birds paired up, and a male presented a bug to a female. Others squabbled over territory trying to intimidate their rivals. I was drawn to these birds because of their stunning colors and amazing antics. It was an experience to try to capture the action. As is most often the case, this photograph is the result of many hours and countless shots. I was at just the right time and place in Hungary for the migration of these European bee-eaters from Africa to their breeding grounds.

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Mon, 03 Apr 2017 10:00:50 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/03/bee-eaters-hungary-bird/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/04/03/bee-eaters-hungary-bird/#comments 3
The Cinereous Vulture, A Mongolian Icon http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/03/30/the-cinereous-vulture-a-mongolian-icon-mongolia-asia/
Large shadows cross the steep slopes of Mongolia as the iconic cinereous vultures, Aegypius monachus, glide effortlessly through the sky. This raptor, the largest in Eurasia with a nearly 10 feet wingspan and just under 30 lbs in weight, once flew easily from Western Europe to North Africa to Northeast China, but today its range has diminished. The cinereous vulture is the most endangered species of raptor in Europe. Development of agricultural practices reduced their food supply as these birds of prey scavanged the dead carcasses of European bison and other large mammals. They persevere in Mongolia (above, at a carcass with ravens), although we need to learn more about their general ecology to ensure their survival. Like the world’s other 22 species of vultures, the cinereous vultures’ survival is challenged in an ever-changing environment. Only 2000 pairs remain in Europe, and the Asian populations face the threats of trapping, poisoning, and hunting to obtain their feathers for trade. Listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List, the Wildlife Conservation Society is working to protect these magnificent birds and other wildlife throughout Mongolia. A pair of cinereous vultures is currently nesting at the WCS’s Bronx Zoo and can be visited at the Eagle Aviary located adjacent to the Aquatic Bird House.

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Thu, 30 Mar 2017 10:00:48 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/03/30/the-cinereous-vulture-a-mongolian-icon-mongolia-asia/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/03/30/the-cinereous-vulture-a-mongolian-icon-mongolia-asia/#comments 0
Key to the Ignition http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/03/27/key-to-the-ignition-burn-cameroon-pangolin-africa/
Within an hour, the huge bonfire had receded into a few pockets of flame. This crew might have to work through the night to ensure the whole pyramid burned, adding wooden planks and lobbing plastic bags of petrol onto the pile. Like in Fahrenheit 451, these Cameroonian fire fighters were tasked with setting something precious ablaze—three metric tons of pangolin scales. But why? What did Cameroon accomplish by burning this stockpile which represented at least several thousand dead animals? First, like the recent destructions of national ivory stockpiles in Kenya, China, and even the US, it removed an illegal commodity from circulation. No one will make a cent off this critically endangered animal’s parts—not the poachers from whom they were seized, no storage guard susceptible to bribes, no corrupt official, no smuggler, and no salesperson in Asia where claims of health benefits drive the illegal trade in scales. (You only need to smell them burning to know pangolin scales are made of the same keratin as our hair.) Click here for more on the economic arguments. Second—and the reason Cameroon scheduled their burn for last month’s World Pangolin Day—is that it sends a powerful message to would-be poachers and the international community: the true value of these animals is not monetary and their survival is our priority. This was Africa’s first burn of pangolin scales; here’s hoping more follow. Kudos to Cameroon for standing up for the little guy.

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Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:00:27 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/03/27/key-to-the-ignition-burn-cameroon-pangolin-africa/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/03/27/key-to-the-ignition-burn-cameroon-pangolin-africa/#comments 0