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July. Sand Tiger Shark at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth. Hunting primarily at the bottom of the sea in subtropical and temperate waters worldwide, the Sand Tiger Shark can be recognised by its sharp pointy head and its reddish-brown spots. It is currently classed as Vulnerable due to it being hunted for food, as well as for its hide, fins and oil. Due to its tolerance for captivity it is the most widely kept large shark in public aquariums.
January. Cormorant in the snow. Sandøya, Norway.
The elusive cormorant is an expert diver (45 metres) and can live up to 24 years in the wild. Many see them as a competitor for fish. Conservation efforts increased their numbers after being hunted nearly to extinction. Traditionally in northern Norway, they are lucky to have near your home. The myth surrounding them says that those who have died at sea can revisit their homes in the shape of this bird.
October, Commander, Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia
The Commander (Moduza procris) butterfly is a forest butterfly that can be found in clearings, and near water. It has an interesting self defense tactic of using its own frass (poo) to wall itself off from potentially harmful predators. Sadly, the forest where I spotted this little butterfly is not likely to be a safe haven much longer. Within earshot, massive machines can be heard clearing the land for a large housing development.
December. The final straw. Eurasian fallow deer. Kent, UK.
Although the introduced fallow deer populations are widespread, during the last century the native population has become critically endangered due to deforestation and hunting. At present only one small native population of these animals survives in a fenced game reserve in Turkey.
August. Keeping warm. Chameleon. Sandwich wildlife park
There are around 200+ species of Chameleon in the world that mainly live in Africa or madagascar and some areas of Europe and Aisa. They can live in rainforest or desert conditions. They are distingushed by their zygodactylous feet, swaying gait and prehensile tail.
July. Peace. Koala. Longleat Safari Park.
Koala are classed as Vulnerable and face threats from habitat degradation caused by agriculture, urbanisation, droughts and bushfires. These are also increasing in frequency due to climate change. Koalas are marsupials which means they give birth to underdeveloped young which live in their mothers’ pouches for the first 7 months of their life. Longleat Safari Park volunteered keepers to help in Australia when they were suffering the devastating effects of bushfires and they helped to support many incredible organisations with rescue and relief work to help both people and wildlife impacted by the fires.
August. Lazy day. Binturong. Colchester Zoo.
Binturong are classed as Vulnerable and face threats from habitat loss and degradation through logging. They are also captured for the wildlife trade and as a source of meat for human consumption. They are an arboreal species with a prehensile tail, meaning they can use the tail like a fifth limb when climbing and hanging from branches. They have scent glands which emit an odour likened to the smell of popcorn.
June. Curiosity. Red Panda. Colchester Zoo.
Red Panda are not related to Giant Panda, but both share a modified wrist bone, giving them six digits so they can easily grasp onto bamboo when feeding. Classified as endangered, Red Pandas face threats from habitat loss and fragmentation, illegal poaching for their fur and the effects of climate change. Colchester Zoo support the Red Panda Network working to protect the species and their habitat in Nepal.
September. Patience. Amur Leopard. Colchester Zoo.
Amur Leopards are the most critically endangered big cats with only an estimated 100 in the wild. They are well adapted to a cold climate and snow, with thick fur growing up to 7cm long in winter. The main threats they face are poaching, habitat loss and deforestation. Colchester Zoo is part of a captive breeding programme with cubs born in 2019 and they support the conservation work of Wildlife Vets International to help protect this species.
July. Eye Spy by Jukka the Panther Chameleon, Kent UK
The chameleon have concave lenses in their eyes unlike humans, which gives them precision and good focusing abilities to catch their prey with their shooting tongue. Panther chameleons face threats of deforestation, causing habitat loss, so their wild numbers are decreasing despite still being of least concern on the IUCN lists.
July. Baby hedgehog foundling. European hedgehog, Sidmouth, Devon, UK.
Hedgehogs have suffered serious decline in the UK. This particular young orphan was discovered dehydrated and exhausted after falling into a drain. Although not weaned and seriously underweight, she was successfully rehabilitated and eventually released back into the wild.
January. New life. Olive Ridley sea turtle. San José del Cabo, BCS, México.
Olive Ridley sea turtle. They inhabit the warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Its named for the greenish olive color of their skin and shell. It has a heart-shaped shell. It is an omnivore. IUCM red list status: vulnerable with its population decreasing. Threats looting of eggs and excessive hunting for their meat and shell.
The Curious Fox
Whilst on an early morning jog down a path in Leicester, I spotted this urban fox walking across the path and into the adjacent woodland! Unfortunately, I don't happen to run with my camera at hand, so had to make do with a camera phone image! Foxes are often very elusive in cities, and although considerably common in some places, are under threat from mange, roads and even hunting for sport.
July. Wildebeest silhouette at sunset. Blue Wildebeest, Badoca Safari Park, Portugal
Blue wildebeest are an abundant species in East Africa and best known for their migrations in search of grazing sites. Although the blue wildebeest population trend is currently stable, the development of urban areas and and the construction of dams affecting the natural water sources may influence these populations in the future.
June, Dysphania Glaucescens caterpillar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
This caterpillar is also commonly called a “Walker”, because of the way it loops it’s body up in the middle to move. It cocoons and emerges after about 10 days, as a beautiful purple and yellow moth. Although the species is not endangered, this caterpillar is likely to lose the beautiful jungle it was found in, due to development.
July. Sleepy Bumble Butts. Bumblebees. Oregon, USA
A picture of two sleeping bumblebees having a late start to the morning. Bumblebees are much more hairy than honeybees and, therefore, can be found in colder climates, higher altitudes, and are up earlier in the morning (except for these two). Bumblebees, like most pollinators, are being threatened by habitat destruction, increased competition from agriculture honeybees, and pesticides.
June. A Jolly Dabbling, Gadwall, St James's Park, London, UK
Gadwall is a very grey-coloured dabbling duck, a little smaller than the mallard, and with an obvious black rear end. It nests in low numbers in the UK and is an Amber List species. The species is threatened by pollution and disturbance from recreational use of freshwater wetlands. The species is susceptible to avian influenza, so may be threatened by future outbreaks.