National Wildlife Day 2014, a Lifesaving celebration

September 4, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Reptiles, Wild Animals

See lots of interesting animalsGiraffe family at Hoogle Zoo, Salt Lake City, UT

Celebrating wildlife! National Wildlife Day reminds us of our role in conservation and as animal caretakers!

Since the beginning of time the journey of wildlife has been enfolding. Today is set aside to honor where wildlife has been and where it’s going. But most importantly, it serves to remind us of our responsibility to the animals we share this planet with.

Animal life in its many forms fills us with awe and inspiration. We, as the human species of animal, often think that we are the epiphany of creation. Yet the beauty and sheer diversity of animal species and their many natural attributes like strength, speed, flight, and even living underwater, is incredibly humbling.

Our human role in the animal world is that of wildlife stewards and the overseers of nature. Due to our unique ability to mold and dominate the natural world, it falls to us to be the caretakers of all other life.

Our role as animal caretakers

National Wildlife Day brings awareness of the plight of many endangered animals across our nation as well as globally, and the ongoing need to preserve and rescue them from decline.

This day also serves as a salute to the many outstanding zoos, aquariums, animal sanctuaries and reserves that are helping to preserve so many animals as well as to educate people about conservation, especially our children, as they will be the future caretakers.

Steve Irwin feeding a crocodile, Australia Zoo, December 27, 2005Steve Irwin feeding a crocodile, Australia Zoo, December 27, 2005, Photo Wiki Commons, courtesy Richard Giles

National Wildlife Day was created in 2006 by Colleen Paige, an animal advocate, conservationist, and animal behaviorist. She created this day in memory of Steve Irwin, affectionately known as the “Crocodile Hunter.”

Steve Irwin was an Australian wildlife expert, conservationist, and television personality. He had an incredible love of all animal species and he devoted his life to educating us about many of these amazing creatures. He became best known for the internationally broadcast wildlife documentary series, The Crocodile Hunter, which he co-hosted with his wife Terri.

National Wildlife Week

The National Wildlife Week is another animal species celebration! But it is an even more extensive look at our role as animal stewards. It is the longest-running education program designed around teaching and connecting kids with the awesome wonders of wild animals. It will be held on March 16-22, 2015, which will be its 77 anniversary.

About the founder of National Wildlife Day

Colleen Paige’s love for animals started at a young age. Her first rescue was a cat when she was 5 years old. This and other personal experiences, good and bad, led her to dedicate her life to helping and saving both people and animals.

Colleen volunteered in animal shelters and cared for horses at summer camps. Later as an ambulance driver she helped to rescue people, both adults and children, as well as multiple pets and strays, rushing each in turn to emergency centers. She followed this up with animal behavior training, animal rescue, and working with wildlife.

It was the lack of recognition for the 300+ rescue dogs on Ground Zero after 9/11 that led Colleen to create her first national day, the National Dog Day. Her focus was a day set aside as a lifesaving celebration for dogs, and it met with great success.

Since then she had created another 15 additional livesaving celebration day for other animals. National Wildlife Day is one of these, just a few other are the National Horse Protection Day, National Farm Animals Day, Pet Day USA, National Pet Travel Safety Day, and National Cat Day.

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Darn Cute Animal, Do You Know What it is?

August 28, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Wild Animals

See all types of cute animalsPhoto Wiki Commons, courtesyEugenia and Julian

A very cute animal that you may think is a Zorse… but it’s not of course!

This adorable fellow looks kind of like a horse and kind of like a Zebra, but it is neither, nor is it a cross breed!

We all know lots of cute animals. Dogs, cats, and other common pets first come to mind because they are easily recognizable. Yet there are many other really adorable critters out there, and this one is truly unbelievable.

This handsome fellow is known as an Okapi, scientifically described as Okapia johnstoni, and is closely related to the giraffe. In fact, it and the giraffe are the only living members of the Giraffidae family. It is also known as the Forest Giraffe or Zebra Giraffe.

The Okapis have long legs and the robust body shape of the giraffe, but they are missing that long giraffe neck. They are good sized animals too, with adults reaching over 8′ (2.5 m) long from their head to the base of the tail. Adult males will also have short, skin covered horns known as occicones.

Just like the giraffe, one of the most distinguishing features of the Okapi is a very long, flexible tongue. Their tongue is over 13 1/3 inches (34 cm) long. It’s great for striping leaves and buds off of trees, but also comes in handy for wiping the eyelids off and cleaning out its big ears!

This animal species is actually more of a newcomer to the “known” animal world. It wasn’t recognized and described by the scientific community until 1901. Prior to that it was only heard of in a rather vague manner. An early Congo explorer, Henry Morton Stanley, had mentioned it as some kind of donkey and Europeans had also heard mention of it in earlier times. But it was elusive and they came to call it the “African unicorn.”

The Okapi is neither little, nor is it common, but it sure has a striking appearance!

At first look this fellow appears to have the equine traits of horses and zebras. The brilliant white stripes on its front and back legs make it look like it has some zebra in its design. But no, it is neither horse nor zebra, nor a cross of the two.

There is a Zorse of course, a man-made cross of a horse and zebra, but that is a totally different animal. And over a century ago there was also a curious subspecies of the Zebra that had striping only on its head. It was known as the Quagga Equus quagga quagga. This subspecies ranged in the southernmost plains of South Africa until the nineteenth century, but is now known to be extinct.

Unlike horses and zebras, and even giraffes, Okapis are not particularly sociable. They like to live alone in secluded areas. Each Okapi will range across several square miles, foraging along well trodden paths, and their ranges will often overlap. But that doesn’t make them social and males are protective of their territory. A bull will allow females to pass through his domain but these animals will only come together during breeding time.

The population of Okapis has dwindled as a result of habitat destruction and from poaching. A 2013 study estimates that there are about 10,000 living animals, down from 40,000 about a decade ago, and so they are now listed as endangered. The Democratic Republic of the Congo created the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in 1992, but unfortunately the Congo civil war has threatened both wildlife and the conservation workers in the reserve.

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Happy Baby Animal, But What the Heck is it?

August 26, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Wild Animals

Wombat baby, see a Ringtail Possum marsupial tooWombat baby recovering nicely after rescue, Photo courtesy Park Victoria-Facebook

This adorable baby animal is a newborn Wombat rescued from its mother’s pouch after a fatal accident!

A mother Wombat was apparently grazing along a roadside in Australia and hit by an oncoming car. A passerby, familiar with the type of animal she was, searched her pouch and found a still living baby trying to nurse on its mother’s teat.

The little baby animal was shivering with cold, so the rescuer quickly made an emergency phone call to a wildlife helpline in Kinglake, Victoria. Kim Hunter, a 48 year old ranger and volunteer animal care giver, soon arrived at the scene to pick up the baby and take it to her home. Although the baby was close to death, Kim was able to nurse her back to health with around-the-clock care.

A sad story for the mom, but a great rescue for the baby. Kim named the baby “Leah,” who now at five weeks of age has doubled in size. She’s grown from a tiny 300 grams (10.4 oz) when found to a whopping 650 grams (1.43 lb).

In Kim’s own words, as reported by John Kelly of Mirror.com.UK, the online edition of a British tabloid The Daily Mirror, “Leah was cold to the touch and weighed only 300 grams when she arrived, she now weighs 650 grams. She’s very lucky, although she was uninjured she was cold to the touch and I’d say she was only a few hours away from dying.

“Wombats often graze at the side of the road and are sometimes hit by oncoming cars, her mother must have shielded her against the blow. Leah is too young to grow her own fur yet so I keep her on a heated mat, I have to bottle feed her every four hours, even throughout the night. But it’s definitely been worth it, we’ve built a strong bond over the weeks, she knows I’m her mum now. The online response to Leah is unbelievable, people have really fallen in love with Leah.”

Wombats are small pudgy looking marsupials that walk on four legs. Marsupials are mammals that carry their young in a pouch. Well known examples include kangaroos, wallabies, possums, opossums, and koalas. Wombats are great burrowers. They use those very long claws you can see on the adult, along with strong rodent-like front teeth to dig extensive burrow systems. A unique characteristic of these marsupials is that the females pouch is backward-facing. This way they don’t get soil in the pouch from their energetic digging.

Wombat AdultWombat Adult at Maria Island National Park, Photo Wiki Commons, courtesy JJ Harrison

A mother Wombat gives birth to a single baby and then carries that baby in her pouch for about six to seven months. The young Wombat weans at about 15 months and becomes sexually mature at 18 months. A full grown adult averages a length of about 3 1/4 feet (1 m) and weighs between 44-77 lb (20-35 kg).

Mother Wombats must forage heavily to feed both themselves and their young babies. They tend to forage along roads, but unfortunately this means often crossing the roads as well as feeding early in the morning and late into the night. Drivers must be very careful.

Kim’s experience with this baby has created quite a stir and its been reported in numerous online publications. Further, with the very curious picture of this baby looking much like a reclining little old man with a big smile on its face, got picked up to become a subject of a Photoshop challenge on Reddit. Thus some creative/crazy humans had a lot of fun and with it and it has become a meme.

Yet what really strikes me is the human capacity for compassion and caring, and that trumps all other sideline fascinations. Big kudos go out to the passerby who rescued the newborn and to Ranger Kim Hunter, for her quick action to save baby Leah’s life and her continuing dedication as Leah’s “mum.” Kim’s got her work cut out for her with these babies not weaning until around 15 months of age, and Leah has lots of growing to do! And lastly, a big thanks to Parks Victoria for posting the photo on their facebook page, helping to bring awareness to this darling animal.

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Poisonous Snakes Crossing Your Path! Don’t be afraid, be prepared

August 21, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Reptiles, Wild Animals

See all types of snakesSidewinder Rattlesnake from the Mohave Desert in California

An autumn nature hike is enriching and relaxing, but keep in mind… you’re not alone!

August and September are two of the most beautiful months to explore the great outdoors. The weather is perfect and nature during this time of year is awesome.

All is calm and serene with insects buzzing, a bird chirping here and there, and maybe a light breeze or the cheerful sounds of a bubbling stream. What could be more enjoyable?

Yet in this seemingly peaceful environment you must be attentive and prepared for any encounters with wildlife. The great outdoors is the home to many creatures, small and large, and you are traversing their native space. Animals are generally shy and reserved, preferring to go about their business and keep to themselves. But sometimes contact is unavoidable, and this includes running into poisonous (venomous) snakes.

Snakes are very remarkable animals. They have adapted to live on the land in the trees, grasslands, and desert areas and they are also found living in water, including the oceans. They eat meat so will prey on insects, birds, small animals and other reptiles, and sometimes even other snakes.

Being cold-blooded animals they are unable to regulate their own body temperatures, so they are most active when it’s warm and less active as it gets cold. Snakes like to come out when it’s sunny, but not scorching. Sensitive to temperatures exceeding 80 degrees, they are most likely to be seen early in the morning, in the evening, and during the nighttime when it’s warm.

Preventing snake bites

A nice thing to know is that snakes only bite if they are provoked or startled. Most snakes do not act aggressive toward humans without provocation and by simply leaving them alone, you should be okay. Despite a sinister reputation, snakes are almost always more scared of you than you are of them. If you spot a rattlesnake or other venomous snake, you should stop, watch it and let it leave before continuing on.

Avoiding snake bites is not difficult as long as you take precautions. Educate yourself about the types of snakes in your area before venturing out, and then stay aware of your surroundings. Wear the appropriate clothing for outdoor activities too, like long pants and hiking shoes. Although these may not stop every bite they can help deflect a bite.

Venomous snakes have modified salivary glands that they use to inject venom. During a bite the snake passes the venom into a duct into their fangs, and then into its prey. However they can regulate whether or not to release venom, and don’t necessarily inject venom with all bites. A bite without venom is known as a “dry Bite” and will occur between 25-50% of the time. This varies with different species; pit-viper bites will be dry about 25% of the time while coral snakes will be dry up to 50% of the time.

Only a small number of people experience snake bites. On average about 7,000 people in the United States report being bitten by venomous snakes each year. As reported by the Rapid City Journal, the curator of reptiles at Reptile Gardens south of Rapid City, snake expert Terry Phillip says that the No. 1 reason people in this country are bitten by venomous snakes is because they were “trying to catch, kill ‘em or tease ‘em.” Further, of those bitten by venomous snakes, 89 percent are men between the ages of 16 and 30 years.

Phillip further states that if bitten by a venomous snake, make wise choices. None of the common field treatment myths are effective, like the cut-and suck method, tourniquets, nor applying ice or alcohol. He says to remain calm and remove jewelry or anything that will restrict movement from the affected limb, and then seek medical emergency treatment immediately. If you get bit call your local poison control center, then the center will call a hospital in advance for treatment.

Poisonous (venomous) snakes in the United States

There are about 25 species of poisonous (venomous) snakes in North America, with at least one or more species found in each of the 50 states. The most notable venomous snakes in North America are comprised of two groups; the Pit Vipers which include Rattlesnakes, Cottonmouth, and Copperhead snakes, and the Coral Snakes.

Rattlesnakes

The Rattlesnakes are probably the best known venomous snakes, and this pit viper is found all across the United States. They are so named for the “rattle” at the tip of their tail, which when sounding, strikes fear into the heart of the intruder. Their primary method of protection is their camouflage rather than the rattle, so you know they are riled if you hear it sizzling.

There are 32 recognized rattlesnake species in the genus Crotalus, all bearing a large pair of fangs. Though none of these snakes are considered aggressive, if threatened they are known to hold their ground. A few familiar species include:

Western Diamondback RattlesnakeWestern Diamondback Rattlesnake
  1. Western Diamondback Rattlesnake C. atrox
    The Western Diamondback, ranging from California to central Arkansas and south into Mexico, has gained much of its notoriety due to being featured in Western Movies.
  2. Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake C. adamanteus
    The Eastern Diamondback is the largest of the rattlesnake species and is the heaviest, though not the longest, venomous species in the United States. It has large range from North Carolina to Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
  3. Sidewinder C. cerastes
    The Sidewinder is a well known snake from the Midwest deserts where is slithers sideways across the sands leaving a zigzag pattern in its wake. It ranges from Utah and Nevada, then south through Arizona and California and into Mexico and down the Baja.
  4. Timber Rattlesnake C. horridus
    The Timber Rattlesnake C. horridus is an abundant snake, and the most populous of rattlesnake in the northeastern United States. It ranges from the northeast south through Florida and into Minnesota and Texas. It is commonly found on wooded hillsides and rocky outcrops.

Copperhead

The Copperhead Agkistrodon contortrix is also a pit viper with 5 recognized subspecies. It is widespread throughout the Eastern and Southeastern United States. It is responsible for most of the bites from venomous snakes, and although the bites are quite painful they rarely life threatening. Still a victim should still get medical attention.

Coral Snakes

The Coral Snakes comprise a large group of venomous snakes, and they are not restricted to just the Americas. However the New World has the largest number, with 65 recognized species in 3 genera. These snakes are extremely toxic. Their venom is a powerful neurotoxin that requires prompt snake bite treatment. A bite from one of these fellows will shut down your nervous system and stop your heart.

Coral snakes are identified by the colored bands ringing the entire length of their body and a blunt black snout. The bands alternate in red and black, with a thinner yellow in between. They can easily be confused with the harmless King Snake, as their body colors are similar looking, though the King Snake has a red snout. It is the arrangement and size of the colored bands that distinguish the two. A rhyme that can help distinguish them goes like this, “Red touch yellow, kill a fellow (Deadly Coral snake). Red touch black, friend of Jack (Harmless King snake).” Three species encountered in the United States include:

  1. Eastern Coral Snake Micrurus fulvius
    The Eastern Coral Snake typically ranges from North Carolina through Florida and along Mississippi.
  2. Texas Coral Snake Micrurus tener
    The Texas Coral Snake typically ranges in Texas, but is also found in Arkansas and Louisiana.
  3. Arizona coral Snake Micruroides euryxanthus
    The Arizona coral Snake, also known as the Western Coral Snake, typically ranges in Arizona and south to Sinaloa in western Mexico

Cottonmouth

The Cottonmouth Agkistrodon piscivorus, also called the “water moccasin,” is another species of pit viper with a serious bite that can be fatal. Although this snake’s aggression is somewhat exaggerated, it is a fast fellow and an occasion male can be aggressive and cranky. It has a thick, heavy body that’s brownish or olive/gray in color and a flat topped head. It is known to stand it ground when annoyed and may gape repeatedly, exposing the cotton-looking lining of its mouth, thus its common name. It ranges across the east, Mideast and southeastern United States.

The beauties of autumn season are yours to fully enjoy when you are aware of the venomous snakes in your area and ready if one should cross your path. Fully prepared, your hiking experience will be fun and relaxing!

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Amazing Facts About Bengal Tigers

Bengal Tiger, Panthera tigris. See more interesting animalsBengal Tiger Panthera tigris, Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy John and Karen Hollingsworth, Fish & Wildlife Service Licensed under Public Domain

Some startling facts about tigers which will make you awestruck!

A little bit of fright, enough of a thrill, and the heights of imagination – all these work together during your Bengal Tiger sighting trip.

Voted as the world’s favorite animal, this tiger is the most varied cat on earth, and has many unique features and interesting compulsions. Less social, comfort loving and crepuscular, these wild carnivores have always been the center of attraction during all adventurous wildlife tours.

Let’s explore the twisting facts about this exclusive creature which will make you stunned.

  • Night vision of the tiger is approximately six times better than humans,
  • To mark their territories, they scratch trees and use their urine.
  • Unlike other members of the cat family tigers are good swimmers and can go easily inside water for cooling themselves and in the pursuit of prey.
  • A tiger’s brain may weigh over 300g which is believed to be the largest among carnivores after the polar bears.
  • Just like human fingerprints, the stripes on each tiger are unique.
  • For trapping their prey, tigers are often found imitating the sound of other animals. Bears constitute a major part of the tigers’ diet as very often their habitats overlap.
  • There are very small numbers of tigers who develop a taste for human flesh.
  • Tigers’ saliva contains antiseptic elements. That is why they lick their wounds to disinfect them.
  • Tigresses become fertile for only four to five days in the entire year.
  • Tigers can guess the gender, age and reproductive status of other tigers smelling their urine markings.
  • Tigers do not normally roar at other animals. Actually they roar to communicate with far-off tigers. Therefore, a tiger in attacking moded might hiss and fluff instead of roaring.
  • Unless a tiger feels threatened it does not attack humans as prey.
  • Tigers are territorial and love to live solitary lives except when mating. Each tiger has a specific territory and the area of a male overlaps with many other females.
  • Just like the young ones of the domestic cat, tigers are also completely blind for the first week of their life.
  • It takes 30-40 days for a human to die of starvation whereas a tiger will die within two or three weeks.
  • Tigers have a better memory than any other animals including humans. They have a hundred times better memory than dogs and dozens of times better memory than primates.
  • Tigers can run at a speed of approximately 60km/h for short distances.
  • Tigers are conscious about the rights of females and kids. That is why when several tigers assemble around a kill, they wait for the females and kids to eat first. Whereas, it is just the opposite in the case of lions.

A majestic creation of nature, India’s national animal the tiger, was brought to the verge of extinction due to the illegal human interference on their habitat. But the preventive steps taken by the Government of India, especially the Save Tiger Project has shown its colors. Today a total of 3200 tigers are found across the world out of which 1706 tigers are found in India with the highest density of tigers in Bandhavgarh National Park. To make India richer in the number of its tiger population, some popular national parks like Ranthambore, Corbett, Pench, Tadoba, Sundarban and Periyar also contributed significantly.

Anshul Srivastava is a wildlife enthusiast, who loves to wander around different wildlife destinations of India. At the same time, he has gotten a command over writing and thus, he pens down and shares his experience with the world.

Rhino Bond with the Kaziranga National Park

One-Horned Rhino, Rhinoceros unicornis. See more interesting animalsGreater One-Horned Rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis, Photo Source, Flickr

The instinctive bond of One-Horned Rhinos with Kaziranga National Park.

“The only way to save a rhinoceros is to save the environment in which it lives, because there’s a mutual dependency between it and millions of other species of both animals and plants.” – David Attenborough

Rhinoceros, commonly known as rhino, is a name used for the uneven-toed ungulate animal that belongs to the family of Rhinocerotidae. The largest of the rhino species is the one-horned rhino. A single glimpse of this majestic wild animal is enough to enthrall a nature aficionado. The exotic one-horned rhinos are the pride of India and were once present in the entire northern part of the Indian subcontinent. However, the rhino population in the country has been depleted because of the continuous poaching.

Interesting Facts About One-Horned Rhinoceros

One-horned rhinos are herbivorous animals that have a thick skin on their body. There are a good number of one horned rhinos in India owing to extremely effective conservation efforts taken by the authorities. Greater one-horned rhinos are creatures who love solitude. They are principally grazers, with their diet almost completely consisting of grasses and leaves, fruits, tree branches, shrubs, and aquatic plants.

This animal has a great sense of hearing and a wonderful sense of smell. Hence, they can find their companions with no trouble. Rhinos go around in the search of food when the climate is a bit cooler and they avoid the heat of the afternoon. They submerge themselves in water when the temperature is high in order to avoid direct exposure to severe heat. The greater one-horned rhinos are expert swimmers and can feed underwater as well.

The one-horned rhinos at Kaziranga National Park are poached extensively for their horn as it is believed that their horn is useful in making medicine. They went to the brink of extinction because of these killings. To prevent them from disappearance, the government of India has employed many conservation projects. Several protected areas are taking essential steps to conserve this amazing wildlife species. Most prominent of them is Kaziranga National Park!

Kaziranga and One-Horned Rhinos

The legacy of India lies not just in its imposing monuments but also in its natural wonders. Kaziranga National Park is a protected area in India that has conserved the wonders and beauty of nature. This park is well known for its commendable and huge wildlife assortment and is a well-respected natural center for varied wildlife species in the country. It is situated on the bank of the huge Brahmaputra River in the districts of Nagaon and Golaghat, Assam. This intriguing protected area is also famous for the conservation of great number of one-horned rhinos. In the year 2012, the population of one horned rhinos in Kaziranga was expected to be 2,329. This park was set up in Assam to save the population of one-horned rhinos from harm.

Almost two-thirds of world’s rhino population resides in the immensely widespread areas of Kaziranga National Park. Mary Victoria Leiter Curzon, also known as Lady Curzon, visited this region in the year 1904 and she later pioneered the conservation work in this park. Kaziranga is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has been thriving in the conservation of the animal species. This national park has become an essential element of Assam tourism in modern times, since a large number of wildlife buffs swarms it every year. One-horned rhinos enjoy an ultimate and ideal environment in this park, where there are enormous spans of greenery and glinting water bodies. Several wildlife safaris are carried out all through the tourist seasons to facilitate wildlife lovers in watching the one-horned rhinos up close. These safaris or guided tours are conducted with the help of jeeps or elephants.

Several confines have been positioned to guard this national park from being contaminated or causing any sort of annoyance to its exotic flora and fauna. Loads of wildlife aficionados broaden their support in a number of ways for improving conservation practices for the one-horned rhino and generating more employment prospects. As a result of such actions, the population of one-horned rhinos has improved to a substantial degree over the years. The significant factor that creates a center of attention for visitors the most is the vista of one-horned rhinos that can be seen in a large number of areas in this beautiful wildlife sanctuary.

More info about Kaziranga National Park

How to reach:

  • BY ROAD: Kaziranga is located 217 kms east of Guwahati. There is around a 4 hour drive from Guwahati on NH-37, to reach the park. This park is well connected with the cities like Tezpur (80 kms), Jorhat (97 kms) and Dibrugarh (250 kms).
  • BY AIR: The nearest airport from Kaziranga is Guwahati (217 kms).
  • BY RAIL: Nearest Railhead is in Furkating (80 km) from where a tourist can take any mode of transportation to get to Kaziranga.

Best time to visit:

Kaziranga National Park is open for the wildlife admirers and nature lovers from 1st November to 30th April every year. It is rampaged by the floods during monsoon season. Overfilling of vacationers for the duration of December and January encumbers a private experience. Hence, the months of February and March are the best months to pay a visit to Kaziranga National Park.

Kaziranga is an ideal abode for one-horned rhinos. A visit to this arresting park crowns the minds of wildlife lovers with spellbinding sights of this mammoth creature that one can treasure for a lifetime.

Anshul Srivastava is a wildlife enthusiast, who loves to wander around different wildlife destinations of India. At the same time, he has got a command over writing and thus, he pens down and shares his experience with the world.

20 Interesting Facts About Elephants

See more interesting animalsIndian elephant bull in Bandipur National Park, India. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Yathin S Krishnappa

“Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great things” …John Donne

Elephants! When these giant creatures roam in the wilds, they create a sensation that entrances the one who observes this marvelous scene. These mighty mammals are the largest land animals. They are members of the Elephantidae family of the Proboscidae order. There are basically two recognized species of elephants: The Asian Elephants and African Elephants.

These giant creatures have various unique features that make them distinctive from other wild beings.

A few of the unique features of elephants are:

  1. Usually female elephants live in herds. The veteran female elephant leads this herd, however, and the male elephants are generally solitary and shift from herd to herd. Each member in the female herd helps each other to find food and care for their young ones. These creatures do not lie down to sleep as their straight legs provide them an adequate amount of support. They can converse with their herd from far away by using sounds that are extremely low, too low for the human ear to recognize.
  2. Elephants can converse with each other by creating sounds known as "tummy rumbles."
  3. Elephants in general walk about 4 mph.
  4. Elephants know how to swim for lengthy distances.
  5. Elephants spend almost sixteen hours a day eating food.
  6. Elephants have the biggest brains of all the members of animal kingdom.
  7. A Fully-grown Indian Elephant can reach a height of more than 8 feet.
  8. Adult Indian elephants are about 10,000 plus pounds in weight.
  9. In general, one tusk of an elephant is shorter than the other. This happens because the elephant uses one of its tusks more often for things. It’s the same as for people, being either right or left-handers, the Elephants will also rely upon the tusk they use more frequently.
  10. Elephants are able to give birth every three to four years. The period of gestation is nearly two years.
  11. The Babies weigh around 250 pounds when they are born.
  12. The elephant herd makes a circle around a mother elephant when a baby elephant is born. They generate this circle to guard her from harm. A number of the elephants nudge the baby elephant to support as it’s standing up after birth.
  13. It is fairly amazing to know that the elephants can catch one anothers trumpeting sounds up to 8 kilometers (5 miles) away.
  14. Elephants can become suntanned; therefore they shield themselves with sand.
  15. Elephants get frightened of bees.
  16. This mammoth creature is the lone mammal, other than the Homo sapiens, to have a chin.
  17. 17. It is quite clear by their structure that elephants eat a lot. Moreover, they also drink nearly 50 gallons of water every day. These giants can go for around four days without water. It is remarkably fascinating to know that they can dig wells with the help of their tusks if needed.
  18. The trunk of an elephant can certainly be a lethal weapon. The trunk can pick up something weighing around 450 pounds, perhaps more. Remarkably, the trunk has nearly 150,000 muscles.
  19. These giants have no natural predators. However, lions at times will prey on weak or young elephants in the wild. The foremost threat to elephants is from human beings through poaching and alterations to their haunt.
  20. The potential for an elephant to travel a long distance makes them extremely handy in terms of jungle safari. They can walk for miles on their physically powerful feet. For this reason, elephants are extensively used for jungle safaris in India, especially in the national parks. An Elephant safari in a national park is a great way to experience the spellbinding traits of this giant creature.

These giant creatures have many startling, and often concealed, facts about them. A single sight of this mammoth creature is enough to spellbind all!

Contributing author Jessica Frei is a wildlife admirer and nature lover. She loves to explore the wildlife of different countries. She has visited many popular national parks

Who’s hungry? A Human Smorgasbord for Flesh-eating Piranha!

Swarm of carnivorous piranha attacked hundreds of bathers!

Photo © Animal-World.com, Courtesy Ken Childs

Christmas was a very warm day along the Parana River near Rosario, Argentina. Hundreds of city dwellers were trying to escape the 100-degree weather in the cooler waters of a popular beach about 300 kilometers north of Buenos Aires. But then, they began to notice bite marks on their hands and feet.

A swarm of carnivorous fish attacked hundreds of bathers, sending around 70 people to local clinics and emergency rooms for treatment.

The local Director of lifeguards, Federico Cornier, told reporters from BBC and other broadcasters in the area “it’s normal for there to be an isolated bite or injury, but the magnitude in this case was great… This is an exceptional event.”

A man is treated at a clinic in Rosario, Argentina, after a school of flesh-eating palometas, a type of piranha, attacked swimmers cooling off in the Parana River on Christmas Day. As per LA Times “Flesh-eating fish attack swimmers in Argentine river; 70 injured” (Silvina Salinas / Associated Press Photo/ December 25, 2013)

Cornier said that the fish responsible for the attacks were “palometas”, a type of piranha with large sharp teeth. Dozens of people had their extremities attacked. Paramedic Alberto Manino, speaking with the Associated Press, said that some children he had treated had lost entire digits!

The term ‘palometa’ is a common name used for several types of fish. This includes the Piranha, but it is also used for a Caribbean gamefish Trachinotus goodie and a Western Atlantic fish, the Maracaibo Leatherjacket Oligoplites palometa.

The Piranhas belong to a sub-family called the Serrasalminae, or the ‘serrated salmon family’ consisting of around 60 species. The unmistakable trademark features of the Piranha are their triangular, razor sharp teeth. As described in Piranha: Story of the Piranha Fish from Predator to Prey, these teeth enable them to ‘slice off pieces of meat, fins or scales, literally taking apart their prey piece by piece.’

The palometa that attacked these bathers is most likely the Red Piranha Pygocentrus nattereri, also called the Red-bellied Piranha. This is a very widespread species, occurring in several river basins of South American. Although it typically grows between about 3 to 9 1/2 inches (8-24 cm) in length, one specimen was reported at a whooping 19 1/2 inches (50 cm).

Keeping the Red Piranha in the aquarium is truly a fascination. In the wild the Red Piranha lives in large schools. This type of school is not usually possible in an aquarium, but with the proper environment these fish will show some traits of their wild behavior. In nature the largest fish is the ‘alpha’ animal and in the aquarium it is the most aggressive and bold. The alpha fish will dominate the best spaces in the tank and will basically own the feeding ritual. All other members are subordinate and will take on the traits of servants. Any unwilling ‘servants’ will be quickly and aggressively put in their place by the alpha fish!

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and animal species write-ups.

Discover How to Observe Animals in the Wild

April 27, 2011 by  
Filed under All Posts, Wild Animals

Ecologists, zoologists, and other animal scientists frequently enter the wilderness to study their main subject; animals. They patiently sit there and wait for animals to pass by so they can examine how they behave in their natural habitat, and they’ve been doing this for years.

However, observing animals in the wild doesn’t have to be so scientific. Every animal lover can do it. In fact, animal observation has become a popular camping activity, you actually don’t have to be an animal expert. But you should keep in mind the following:

1. Find a good spot.

A good spot is somewhere that not too many humans enter, but, for safety’s sake, isn’t too far away from your hiking or camping area. So how do you know you’re in a good spot? Head for the main trail and if you see more animal footprints than human tracks, then that’s probably good spot. It’s also a good practice to veer off from the main trail, but not stray too far away from it or you might find yourself wandering around, lost in the middle of nowhere. If you have chosen a specific animal to observe, however, conduct some research first to find out which areas it frequents.

2. Build a good blind.

A blind is anything you can use to hide yourself from the animals so you don’t disturb and scare them. It can range from a pile of undergrowth to something as complicated as a store-bought blind that you can assemble and camouflage with branches, twigs, leaves, and stones. If you’re not into hard-core scientific observation and are just into this for pleasure, you can simply tie a piece of sturdy rope across two neighboring trees and lean long branches against the rope.

3. Blend in and be patient.

Try waiting for a couple of days before you go back to your blind. This will allow the animals to get accustomed to it and not get too suspicious about the newly put up structure.

When you decide to return to your blind, be sure that you are not intrusive and that you completely blend in. Wear clothes the same color of nature and do not wear any cologne or perfume. Animals have a very sensitive sense of smell and they can sniff the presence of any intruder right away. It’s also important that you patiently and quietly sit inside your blind while you wait for an animal to come ambling by.

4. Document your observations.

If you are planning to do this again in the future, it’s a good practice to keep a record of what you have observed. Animals follow a fairly rigid schedule so it will be easier for you to catch one passing you by the next time you decide to observe animals in the wild again. Bring a notebook with you and take down notes of the times you saw animals of interest, how many were there and which direction they were heading.

You could also set up a motion-sensing camera that could record the movement of the animals when they pass by. I would personally go for the notebook though – there’s nothing like a high-tech gadget to take away the natural feel of it all!

Belle is a senior contributor to camping review and gear site NDParks.com and Green Living Site The Action Blog. Check out her latest article on outdoor survival kits.