Wildlife TV

Learn interesting and funny plant and animal facts with videos and photos

World Lion Day – 10th August

Today is World Lion Day, a day when we should reflect on this beautiful animal’s place in our world and more importantly, our impact on its population. The lion (Panthera leo), second largest of the big cats, is the king of the beasts and admired around the world by children and adults alike for its beauty and power.

Male African Lion (Panthera leo)

Male lions (Panthera leo) have a thick mane of hair around their neck to protect them in fighting. Photo Credits.

Lions had a wide range historically; found all over Africa and much of Europe and Asia. As recently as Roman times, Lions were roaming in the wild in Italy and Greece, but these lions have now disappeared. There is a subspecies of modern lion that still lives outside of Africa; the Asiatic lion (Pentera leo persica) still has a small population of around 400 living in the Gir Forest in Gujarat, India.

Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica)

Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) are a subspecies of lion found in Gujurat India. Lions were once found in many places in Europe and Asia. Photo Credits.

Today there may be as few as 20,000-30,000 lions left in the wild and their numbers are declining. There are many threats facing the world’s remaining lions from farmers killing them to protect their livestock to poachers hoping to sell lion teeth and bones for ‘traditional medicine’.

To celebrate World Lion Day, there are many things you can do if you want to help out lions.

One of the most important things you can do is talk to people and raise awareness; tell people about the plight of lions around the world and suggest that they can also help out.

You might want to donate time or money to a conservation organisation; check out this page on the World Lion Day site to discover a whole range of groups that are working to conserve lions and see if there is any way you can help them.

You can also make sure that you prevent contributing to abuse of lions by avoiding attractions like animal circuses, or zoos/sanctuaries with poor conditions.

Lion cubs (Panthera leo) playing

Lion cubs (Panthera leo) grow up in family groups and males leave to make their own prides when they reach adulthood. Photo Credits.

Hope is not lost and the future for lions could be bright. Ethical and sustainable tourism can bring money to help conserve lions in suitable reserves and conservation groups are working tirelessly on reducing human and environmental impact on lion populations. It is never too late to make a difference and hopefully we can work together to ensure the lion can keep its thrones as king of the beasts for many generations to come.

Much love,

-Nick

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Mating for Life Part 2: Monogamy in Mammals

In the previous post we saw how birds are, generally speaking, the most faithful animals to their mating partners, but which other animals are monogamous? Although loyalty to a partner is reasonably common (although varied) in the bird world, it is far less common elsewhere, for example, only 3% of mammal species show any sort of monogamy.

  • Which mammals mate for life?

One mammal species that was thought to have mated for life was the siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus), along with some other species of gibbon. Intensive research has shown that they actually practice something called ‘social monogamy‘ as opposed to sexual monogamy, in other words, they are swingers (and not just from tree to tree)! Siamangs pair off and form close social bonds with their partners, often spending their whole lives together and raising families together, however, they quite frequently will mate with other individuals they meet during their routine travels around their forest home, apparently with no consequence.

Siamangs in Duet

Siamangs (Symphalangus syndactylus) form lifelong partnerships which are reinforced by ‘singing’ together, sometimes accompanied by the rest of the family. Photo Credits.

The prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster) is a small North American rodent that is commonly studied for its monogamous behaviour. These voles do indeed seem to mate for life, living together, sharing household duties and responsibility for the offspring, however, they too cannot seem to resist the temptation to mate with desirable individuals that seem to come their way.

Family of Prairie Voles

Prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) are monogamous and share parental responsibilities. Photo Credits.

The mammal that wins the title of ‘most faithful to their partner‘ is Azara’s night monkey (Aotus azarae); this small South American primate mates for life and appears to never stray. An 18 year long term genetic study of night monkey infants found that all the youngsters were the offspring of both parents, none of them were step-siblings meaning that the parents never mated (or at least conceived) with any other partners.

Azara's Night Monkey

Azara’s night monkey (Aotus azarae) are nocturnal and so hard to photograph well, but lengthy genetic studies on this species have show that they are perhaps the mammals which are most faithful to their partners. Photo Credits.

Many mammals have complex social systems and it can be hard to label or categorise a species’ mating technique. Male lions (Panthera leo), for example, will take control of a pride and then will be the sole mating partner for each of the females within that pride, however, he is not exclusive to any one of them; the male is not faithful to one partner whilst the female is but they are all socially bonded none the less. Other mammals have a form of social structure that is dependant on monogamy such as African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) and meerkats (Suricata suricatta) where social order is kept by an alpha couple; a male and female who are partners for life and the only members of the group who are permitted to reproduce.

African Wild Dogs

Groups of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) have an alpha pair who are the only two permitted to breed, the rest of the group cooperatively raise the young. Photo Credits.

Although monogamy is rare in mammals, there are a few notable examples as we have seen. However, animal behaviour is rarely ‘black and white’ and though some animals stick with a partner, they are not always entirely faithful. In the next post, we will look at invertebrates which practice some form of monogamy.

Much love,

-Nick

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Do hippopotamus have horns?

 

“Do hippopotamus have horns?”

 

Occasionally I like to check the keywords used on search engines that lead to our blog. This task of mine has lead me to realise that this is something that many people ask but we hadn’t covered it.

In order to answer the question “Do hippopotamus have horns?” we must first answer the following question:

 

“What is the difference between hippopotamus and rhinoceros?”

 

So why would I assume that the problem here is that you might be confusing hippos and rhinos?
The answer is quite simple. In terms of appearance, habitat and even (some) behaviour, both species can be quite similar, therefore many people sometimes get them mixed up.

So first of all let’s check out the similarities between species:

 

Both Rhinoceros and Hippopotamus are:

  • Big, heavy animals (both males and females weighing over a tonne),
  • Greyish in colour with a thick skin,
  • Mammals (babies drink milk from the mother),
  • Located in the African continent,
  • Very dangerous to humans,
  • Herbivorous (only eat plant matter),
  • Territorial (males),
  • Faster than any human on Earth (yes, even Usain Bolt),
  • Can’t swim.
White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum)

White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum)
Photo Credit

Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)

Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)
Photo Credit

 

 

Now what about the differences between these two species?

Rhinoceros:

  • Second largest land mammal,
  • There are 5 different species of rhinos: white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum), black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus), indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) and the sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis).
  • Located in Africa and Asia,
  • Spend their day on land,
  • Have been around for about 11 million to 15 million years,
  • Don’t have any sharp teeth,
  • Are odd toed ungulates (with three toes on each foot).
  • Very threatened by illegal poaching,
  • Are one of the Big 5 species,
  • Have horn(s). The Javan and Indian species have only one horn while the black, white and sumatran species have two horns on their face.
White rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) mother with baby

White rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) with baby
Photo Credit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hippopotamus:

  • They are the third largest land mammal,
  • There are only 2 species of hippopotamus: the “normal” hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) and the pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis),
  • Only located in Africa,
  • Spend most of their day inside the water (but can’t swim!),
  • Share a common ancestor with whales,
  • Have been around for 8 million to 16 million years,
  • Have very big, sharp canines and incisors (tusks), used for fighting,
  • Are even toed ungulates (with four toes on each foot),
  • Not as threatened by illegal poaching as the rhino,
  • Don’t have horns!
Mother Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) with baby

Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) with baby
Photo Credit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So to conclude:

Hippopotamus do not have horns but they do have big tusks that they use to defend against predators or fight each other.

Rhinoceros use their horns to defend against predators and fight each other since they don’t have tusks.

 

Angry hipppopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)

Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)
Photo Credit

White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum)

White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum)
Photo Credit


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Até à próxima!
~Sofia.

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