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Latest Count Of ONE BILLION Animals Killed In Australia Fires A “Very Conservative” Estimate

“Over a billion would be a very conservative figure,” according to Ecologist Chris Dickman.

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Photo Credit: TMU

Elias Marat, The Mind Unleashed

While Australia’s unprecedented wave of fires has devastated the country, it’s been difficult for experts and authorities to accurately measure the true extent of the damage sustained by the country’s wild animals and plants.

However, new figures released by specialists studying the blaze reveal horrifying new statistics about the number of animals killed in the bushfires, which likely now exceed one billion.

Last week, researchers at the University of Sydney expressed fears that roughly 480 million animals have been killed since the crisis broke out in September.

Ecologist Chris Dickman, who helped arrive at the figure, is now saying that the number was extremely conservative—and only restricted to those animals within the state of New South Wales (NSW). It also excluded huge groups of wildlife about which they lack any population data.

Speaking to Huffington Post, Dickman said:

“The original figure―the 480 million―was based on mammals, birds and reptiles for which we do have densities, and that figure now is a little bit out of date. It’s over 800 million given the extent of the fires now―in New South Wales alone.

If 800 million sounds a lot, it’s not all the animals in the firing line.”

The creatures excluded in the 480 million figure include such animals as bats, frogs, and invertebrates. With those included, Dickman is “without any doubt at all” that losses far exceed 1 billion. He added:

“Over a billion would be a very conservative figure.”

Experts have warned that the massive loss of life due to the fires threatens to cross a tipping-point for entire species of animals and plants on an island continent where 87% of wildlife is endemic to the country, meaning it can only be found on Australia. This includes such critically endangered species as the southern corroboree frog and mountain pygmy-possum, whose habitats have been ravaged by the fires.

Dickman added that the country’s huge population of bats are especially susceptible to impacts on their forest habitat. He said:

“The numbers would have to be huge. And they’re very susceptible to the fires.”

Kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, wombats, potoroos, bandicoots, echidnas, and other species also have populations that live in regions currently being devastated by the fires—and because the fires have extended to the wetlands, dry eucalyptus forests, and even rainforests, the animals have no place to find refuge.

Stuart Blanch, a senior manager of Land Clearing and Restoration for WWF-Australia, backs up Dickman’s estimates. The researcher stressed that given the recent massive expansion of fires since the measurements were last taken, 1 billion remains a very modest estimate of the tremendous loss of life.

For Blanch, the blame largely lies with economic factors—including the country’s role as the world’s number one exporter of coal and liquefied natural gas. He said:

“It’s our climate impact and our obsession with coal that is helping wage war on our own country.”

Upwards of 12.35 million acres of land have burned so far, officials claim. Over the weekend, an estimated 25,000 additional koalas burned to death when the fire extended to Kangaroo Island, potentially wiping out entire rare and endangered species.

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Incredible Photos Of A Rare Black Panther Roaming In The Jungles Of India

Jung explored the Kabini Forest in Karnataka, India and captured stunning film and photographs of the elusive and majestic black cat of the forest.

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Photo Credit: Shaaz Jung

(TMU) – After studying Economics at the Utrecht University in Europe, wildlife filmmaker and photographer Shaaz Jung returned to the forests of south India where he spent most of his childhood.

His lifelong fascination with the jungle and its wild cats, leopards and the mysterious black panthers in particular, was instrumental in changing his career path from corporate to conservationist and photographer extraordinaire.

Jung’s goal was to discover and understand the lives of the masters of darkness, the black panthers. To fulfill his dream, Jung explored the Kabini Forest in Karnataka, India over the past couple of years and returned not only wiser, but also with stunning film and photographs of the elusive and majestic black cat of the forest.

“I spent two and a half years in the Kabini Forest, between December 2017 and January 2020, on a filming permit. This filming permit allowed [me and the team] to make a documentary on the black panther for National Geographic.”

According to Jung, every day was like a journey into the unknown and their attempts to discover the panther’s secrets ended up being one of the most challenging projects he had ever worked on.

“This black panther is a leopard with an abundance of melanin. Unlike other cats in the Kabini Forest, there is only one black panther,” Jung explained. “This of course makes him far more difficult to photograph. However, since 2015… photographers have been fortunate enough to see him and take pictures. We are, however, the first to make a dedicated movie on him.”

Patience is definitely one trait all wildlife photographers need to learn early in their careers and it’s probably safe to say the entire team on the project have mastered this particular art during their time in the jungle.

“It’s been an incredible journey,” Jung said. “I would like to thank the Karnataka Forest Department for protecting these forests. Their hard work enables us to catch glimpses of these beautiful animals that are thriving in our Indian forests.”

Raised in South India, with jungle forests on his doorstep and several of India’s best national parks in the area, Jung grew up in wonder and respect for the jungle. “The jungle is a labyrinth riddled with secrets that are waiting to be uncovered. Every day in the forest was like a puzzle and I had to put the pieces of this puzzle together in order to successfully unlock its secrets,” he said of his 30 month jungle journey.

Unlock the secrets he most assuredly did, capturing these stunning moments on film. “The camera allowed me to take photographs, immortalizing these moments, relishing life, and inspiring the world. Wildlife is unpredictable and I love the challenge of tracking your subject before you can photograph it. It feels far more rewarding,” Jung said.

Shaaz Jung followed his dream, a dream turned into reality, taking him all over the world to capture the amazing creatures that roam Earth. Now also an ambassador for Nikon India and Samsung, Jung runs Safari Lodges in South India and in East Africa, where he also guides private safaris.

More info: shaazjung.com | Instagram

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Elusive Sand Kittens Caught On Video In The Wild For The First Time Ever

After years of searching, researchers have finally given the world a look at these adorable cats.

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Elusive Sand Kittens
Photo Credit: Grégory Breton/Sand Cat Sahara Team

After years of research, the elusive “sand kittens” have been captured on camera for the first time ever.

Sand cats, a species of feline that lives exclusively in the deserts of North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia, are notoriously difficult to find, and their kittens are even rarer. These stealthy cats travel only under the cover of night, and their camouflaged, sand-coloured fur makes them even more difficult to spot. Furthermore, their furry paws do not leave prints in the sand and they clean up after themselves to avoid being tracked by predators.

However, a big cat organization called Panthera spotted these seldom-seen kittens while they were driving back to camp in the Moroccan Sahara earlier this year. They had been in the area to document sand cats, but never imagined that they would discover this cache of sand kittens.

Finding these kittens was astonishing,” said Grégory Breton, managing director of Panthera France. “We believe this was the first time researchers ever documented wild sand cat kittens in their African range.”

Watch the video from this historic event:

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Scientists Confused By Hundreds Of Dead Elephants In Mysterious Mass Die-Off

Scientists are growing increasingly concerned about the mass deaths of hundreds of elephants in Botswana, but are still unsure about what is causing it.

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Botswana dead elephant
More than 350 elephant’s carcasses have been spotted in the Okavango Delta in recent weeks.

(TMU) – Scientists are growing increasingly concerned about the mass deaths of hundreds of elephants in Botswana, but are still unsure about what is causing the problem. According to the Guardian, at least 350 elephants have died in the African country in the past few months.

Researchers first realized that something was wrong in the Okavango Delta, where 169 elephants were reported in the month of May. By mid-June, that number had doubled to over 300.

Dr. Niall McCann, the director of conservation at UK-based charity National Park Rescue, said that a mass die-off like this is highly unusual.

“This is a mass die-off on a level that hasn’t been seen in a very, very long time. Outside of drought, I don’t know of a die-off that has been this significant,” McCann said.

It is unclear exactly what is causing these animals to die, but there are a few clues. Local sources told reporters that about 70% of these animals have died around waterholes. Some researchers think that perhaps the water might be somehow poisoned or tainted, but the government of Botswana has not tested any samples from the water holes yet.

When we’ve got a mass die-off of elephants near human habitation at a time when wildlife disease is very much at the forefront of everyone’s minds, it seems extraordinary that the government has not sent the samples to a reputable lab,” McCann said.

McCann also said that the researchers were able to determine that many of the animals had to die very quickly, judging by how they had fallen straight down on their faces. However, a large number of the animals also appeared to die more slowly.

So it’s very difficult to say what this toxin is,” said McCann.

McCann said that Covid-19 has even been suggested as a possible cause, but most researchers find this possibility highly unlikely. Oddly, this seems to be somewhat localized, as neighbouring counties have not reported mass elephant deaths.

There are reportedly about 15,000 elephants in the delta, which is nearly 10% of the total population for the entire country. A large portion of the country’s GDP, an estimated 10-12%, is generated through eco-tourism. This is the second most lucrative industry in the country, surpassed only by the diamond industry.

Last year, the government of Botswana lifted its ban on hunting wildlife, and has since begun selling expensive hunting rights to international poachers.

Botswana has the largest elephant population in the world, with an estimated 130,000 elephants within its borders. The newly elected government says that the ban was revoked because the large elephant population was beginning to have an impact on people’s livelihoods as the animals increasingly came into contact with humans.

Despite their relatively high numbers in Botswana when compared with the rest of the world, Elephants are generally thought to be an endangered species, especially in places like Asia, where they are officially listed as such. In Africa, elephant populations are listed as vulnerable, but they have been on a rapid decline due to overhunting and loss of habitat.

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Animal World

Hummingbirds Turn Into Rainbows In Amazing Photos By Christian Spencer

Who knew hummingbirds’ wings turn into rainbows when photographed against the sun?

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Hummingbirds
Photo Credit: Christian Spencer

Australian artist and photographer Christian Spencer made an amazing discovery while standing on his verandah in Rio de Janeiro. When he photographed the black Jacobin hummingbird flying in front of the sun, a beautiful prism effect occurred.

At that very moment, the hummingbird’s feathers turned into a perfect rainbow of colours.

WINGED PRISM © Christian Spencer

Spencer has been following hummingbirds with his camera for years, and his film recording of the phenomenon was included in his 2011 short film, The Dance of Time.

The movie received 10 international awards and three best film honours. But that wasn’t the end of his fascination with the rainbow hummingbirds. Years later, Spencer returned to the subject.

THE ECLIPSE © Christian Spencer

I decided to try and photograph the same phenomenon with my camera,” he told Collective Spark. The resulting series, Winged Prism, reveal “a secret of nature that cannot be seen with our eyes.”

“Nearly all of the photos were taken in 2014. I have tried many times unsuccessfully to take similar photos but I think it depends on the atmospheric conditions and how much magic is in the air,” he added.

Despite the fact that we live in an age of post-production and image manipulation, these photos were never manipulated digitally. The visual affects you see here occur naturally.

WINGS OF LIGHT © Christian Spencer
WINGS OF LIGHT © Christian Spencer
CLOUD ANGEL © Christian Spencer
VITRAL © Christian Spencer
VITRAL © Christian Spencer
COSMIC ANGEL © Christian Spencer
HUMMINGBIRD GEOMETRY © Christian Spencer
HUMMINGBIRD GEOMETRY © Christian Spencer

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