Month: July 2017

Cecil the lion’s son was ‘deliberately shot after hunter was told he was head of pride’

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Scientists monitoring the movements of Cecil the lion’s Xanda believe big game hunters deliberately slaughtered the animal despite knowing he was head of the pride.

Xanda, six, was shot dead just outside Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe last week , two years after the killing of Cecil by an American dentist prompted worldwide outrage.

Last week it was claimed that Xanda had strayed into forest outside the National Park boundaries where trophy hunting is allowed, and his death would not impact other younger lions.

But Oxford University’s Wildlife Research Conservation Unit, which tagged the lion as part of a monitoring project, said suggestions that Xanda had been ousted from his pride of seven cubs were simply not true.

Andrew Loveridge, leading the project, said his staff had warned the professional hunter, Richard Cooke, that shooting Xanda “would be detrimental to the population”.

Male lions routinely kill their rival’s offspring when they take control of a pride of females.

“These cubs are too young to survive on their own and will certainly be vulnerable to infanticide,” Mr Loveridge said in a letter.

“There is no question that Mr Cooke was fully aware that this animal was a pride male. He was a territorial male in a pride of three females with at least seven dependent cubs of between 1 and 1.5 years old.”

His comments came days after he initially praised Mr Cooke as an ethical hunter and “one of the good guys” when details of Xanda’s death emerged last week.


‘Monkey selfie’ creator continues legal battle, now broke

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Going freelance is not easy. You either go big or go broke. One freelance photographer thought he would go big if he could get a monkey to do a selfie, but things didn’t turn out how he expected.

Freelance photographer David Slater is now in a dire financial situation as the legal proceedings regarding his now famous “monkey selfie” photos continue in a United States court.

Slater had to settle for watching a livestream of the proceedings from his United Kingdom home because he can’t afford the plane ticket, and is also not able to pay for the lawyer representing him, according to The Guardian.

Slater’s “monkey selfie” photos have become popular on the internet, but in 2014, things became complicated. Slater asked Wikipedia and blog Techdirt to stop using the photos, as he claims copyright for the said images. Wikipedia thought otherwise and argued that the photos were uncopyrightable because the monkey was the creator of the images. But the U.S. Copyright Office later on ruled that animals cannot own copyrights.

“If everybody gave me a pound for every time they used [the photograph], I’d probably have £40m in my pocket. The proceeds from these photographs should have me comfortable now, and I’m not,” Slater said in the report.

In 2015, Slater was sued by the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) on behalf of a crested black macaque which the organization identified as a six-year-old male named Naruto. A judge ruled against Peta the following year, saying that animals were not covered by the Copyright Act. Peta appealed to the ninth circuit court of appeals and the legal battle continues to this day.

Several points contested in court include whether Peta truly has a close relationship with Naruto to represent the animal in court. The value of providing written notice of copyright claim to a community of macaques is also called into question, as well as whether Naruto is actually harmed by not being recognized as a copyright holder.

“There is no way to acquire or hold money. There is no loss as to reputation. There is not even any allegation that the copyright could have somehow benefited Naruto,” Judge N Randy Smith was quoted in the report. “What financial benefits apply to him? There’s nothing.”

Slater and his publisher’s lawyer also questioned if Peta even identified the right monkey.

“I know for a fact that [the monkey in the photograph] is a female and it’s the wrong age,” according to Slater. “I’m bewildered at the American court system. Surely it matters that the right monkey is suing me.”
Slater had spent long hours following and trying to coax the group of monkeys that he took photos of during his trip to Sulawesi India in 2011. He stated that the selfies were a result of his ingenuity in getting the monkeys to press the shutter button while looking at the lens without blinking.

His only consolation, he said, is that his photos could help in saving the crested black macaque from extinction: “The picture hopefully contributed to saving the species. That was the original intention all along.”

An elephant was stranded nine miles out to sea

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Of all the animals in the world to be stranded out in the ocean, few are more prepared to survive than an elephant, with its natural buoyancy and built-in snorkel. But even strong-willed elephants need a hand, and perhaps a fleet of naval vessels.

Dramatic footage from a 12-hour operation by the Sri Lankan Navy early Tuesday morning shows a lumbering elephant desperately staying afloat nine miles from the coast. Crashing waves threaten to submerge it, forcing the elephant to draw oxygen from its upturned trunk.

The animal was first spotted by a Sri Lankan Navy boat on a routine patrol off the northeastern coastal town of Kokilai. The rescue effort swelled to three more vessels and a team of navy divers.

Using ropes and guidance provided by officials from the Department of Wildlife, the team towed the elephant back to land, where it was handed over to officials from the wildlife office, the Sri Lankan Navy said in a statement.

Chaminda Walakuluge, a Sri Lankan Navy spokesman, told Agence France-Presse the elephant was likely caught in a riptide while crossing the Kokkilai lagoon, a coastal body of water wedged into jungle on either side.

“They usually wade through shallow waters or even swim across take a shortcut. It is a miraculous escape for the elephant,” Walakuluge told the AFP.

Joyce Poole, co-founder of the Elephant Voices conservation group, told The Washington Post in an email that “elephants are considered the best swimmers of any land mammal, excluding trained human swimmers.”

Poole said the elephant in the video looked tired, presumably from keeping afloat for an unknown period of time. Their swimming talents leading to danger is not new, she said.

“I well remember flying in the early 1990s over barren and deserted islands off the Kenyan coast near the Somali border and seeing the bones of elephants that had been killed there,” Poole said. “Clearly they swam from the mainland to the island only to meet their deaths there.”

The subspecies of elephants in Sri Lanka, commonly known as Asian or Indian elephants, weigh between 4,400 and 12,000 pounds and stand as high as 10 feet at their shoulder.

Only 2,500 to 4,000 have survived after deforestation and development disrupted migration patterns, a drop of 65 percent in Sri Lanka since the beginning of the 19th century, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Elephants there have been forced from their home on the southern tip of the tear-shaped island due to human activity.

Man snaps shark pic off coast of Maine

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PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER)– Many Mainers will be enjoying the coast of the Pine Tree State during the July fourth holiday, but one man said he saw something right out of a the movie Jaws. Augustus Wing sent us this picture of what he clamed is a Great White Shark he saw while out on the ocean on Monday.

Wow! NEWS CENTER was impressed with the photo, but is this really a White Shark? So, we reached out to the University of New England’s shark expert, a marine biologist and resident professor, Dr. James Sulikowski, to confirm.

As it turns out, this mighty fish in the picture is not a Great White, but instead a Porbeagle Shark; a shark that thrives in cold water and is commonly seen in the North Atlantic. Dr. Sulikowski said the give away is the white spot on the back of the base of the animal’s dorsal fin (the fin on its back). Great White Sharks, like the one in the picture below from Getty Images captured by Carl De Souza, do not have a white spot there- but the two sharks do belong to the same order of Lamniformes, or mackerel sharks.

However, not only did Dr. Sulikowski say that Porbeagles are being seen more and more in the chilly waters off the coast of Maine, but he’s actually spending his Independence Day on the water tracking and studying theses same sharks!

While Porbeagle Sharks typically grow to about eight feet long, don’t worry, these sharks enjoy eating bony fish- not humans.