Monday, April 20, 2015

Tourists can't believe what this zebra is about to do

Zebra at Kruger National Park is walking into an ambush of lions

When lions hunt, they need to be close to their prey because they can only run fast in short bursts. So when an unsuspecting zebra in Kruger National Park started walking toward a hiding pride of lions, the lions had to be salivating. The zebra appeared doomed.

A group of tourists on safari at the famous South Africa game reserve knew the lions were waiting in ambush mode and were incredulous that the zebra didn’t notice them. Here’s the video one of the tourists shot that is aptly entitled “Lions miss the easiest zebra meal ever” (warning for minor expletive):

It was an adrenaline rush for both zebra and tourists, as the zebra apparently caught sight of the lions just in the nick of time, bolting off before walking right into the lions’ jaws.

The incident occurred on the H6, a tar road near Satara that cuts through very open plains where zebras and blue wildebeests are very common and attract lions—and tourists.

The tourists had these reactions:

“You blew it guys.”

“They had him right there.”

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Spider crabs build huge pyramid on ocean floor in Australia

A pyramid of spider crabs. Photo courtesy of Pink Tank Scuba

PT Hirschfield and some friends were diving near the Blairgowrie Pier in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, in Australia when they encountered a most unusual sight: close to 1,000 spider crabs crawling over each other to make a huge pyramid on the ocean floor.

It’s the time of year when all the spider crabs gather for a mass migration and simultaneous molt, so the divers were on the lookout for the congregating spider crabs and found this (one minute of video captures the essence):

The odd behavior comes as a pre-migration act, but not much is known about it.

“Unfortunately, not much official research is done on the spider crabs so it's more guesswork based on observation than anything,” Hirschfield told GrindTV. “I hope to spend a solid week underwater with them when the migration proper happens to continue studying them more closely, but the pre-migration stages remain somewhat of a mystery.”

Hirschfield added that the sight of a spider crap pyramid is “pretty unusual, at least in the shallows. I’m not aware of anyone having seen a pyramid this high, though who knows what happens at depth?

“The behavior I observed was really just a lot of climbing and a few scuffles as crabs got in each other’s faces…A few of the crabs in the pyramid were also adorning themselves with sponges becoming decorator crabs, which is a camouflage mechanism.”

All pre-migration behavior is short-lived. Hirschfield recently saw a couple thousand spider crabs in the shallows at the start of a two-hour dive and they had all but vanished by the end of the dive.

So it is unlikely that the pyramid lasted very long, making the encounter that much more special.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Bizarre-loooking oarfish washes ashore in New Zealand

A rare oarfish washed ashore on a salt marsh in New Zealand.
Photo courtesy of David Agnew/Department of Conservation

Oarfish rarely wash ashore, but when one does the bizarre-looking sea creature usually creates a bit of a stir, as one did the other day on the southeastern coast of the south island of New Zealand.

Don Gibbs was walking along the salt marsh in Aramoana when he encountered on the beach an unusual sea creature that some have previously mistaken for some sort of sea serpent.

Gibbs phoned Department of Conservation service manager David Agnew and asked him to come take a look, according to the OtagoDaily Times.

“It was very unusual looking,” Agnew told the Daily Times.

In his 20 years at DOC, Agnew had never seen anything like it, so on Thursday morning he contacted Tessa Mills of the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre and asked if she could identify the sea creature.

“From his description I guessed it would be an oarfish and when his photos came through it was confirmed,” Mills told GrindTV. “There are thought to be only two species and this is the southern one, Regalecus glesne.”

This oarfish was nearly 10-feet long, but they can grow up to 32 feet.

This oarfish was nearly 10 feet long, but they can grow up to 36 feet; an 18-footer was discovered off California in 2013. Oarfish are typically found in deep water in tropical oceans.

Not surprisingly, the find created quite a buzz.

“There has been lots of social media interest and comments and questions on the find,” Mills told GrindTV. “And I have spent most of today talking to newspapers and TV channels.”

Everybody wanted to know more about the oarfish.

“Little is known about the oarfish,” Mills said. “When this was dissected, its stomach was full of krill. Other specimens have also been found stuffed full of krill.

“They have been some caught on video in recent years and they have been observed swimming vertically with their pectoral fins out to the side, which is how they get their name `oarfish.’”  

Mills said it is rare to find an oarfish washed up in this area—only five reports of them over the past 150 years, the last being in nearby Dunedin in 1998. 

“The oarfish was in great shape,” Mills said. “Its stomach was full, so it did not starve to death. It seems the strandings often occur after earthquakes or storms, and we have just had a storm here, so I think it just got washed in and stranded on the salt marsh.”

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Last northern white rhino male in the world is guarded 24/7

The last northern white rhino male on Earth is guarded around the clock
by armed rangers, but not always as closely as photo shows. Photo
courtesy of Ol Pejeta Conservancy

The world’s population of northern white rhinos is down to five and the Ol Pejeta Conservancy is home to three of them, including the last remaining male—which is being guarded by armed rangers around the clock.

Along with the critically endangered northern white rhinos, the conservancy in Kenya is also home to 23 white rhinos and 105 black rhinos, making it the largest black rhino sanctuaries in East Africa.

In an effort to protect the rhinos from poaching, and to possibly save the northern white rhinos from extinction, the conservancy enlists 40 armed rangers to patrol the 90,000-acre conservancy.

The most important rhino is Sudan, the 40-year-old male northern white rhino that is under constant surveillance, as are two females. Sudan isn’t always surrounded closely by armed guards, as “we try and let our rhinos be ‘wild’ as much as possible without human interaction,” Eldoie Sampere of the conservancy told GrindTV.

To increase security, Sudan was fitted with a radio transmitter, and its horn was removed.

“The only reason his horn has been cut off is to deter poachers,” Sampere told The Dodo. “If the rhino has no horn, he is of no interest to poachers. This is purely to keep him safe.”

Sudan and three other northern white rhinos were obtained by the conservancy from a Czech Republic zoo in 2009 in hopes of breeding the rhinos, a goal yet to be attained. Suni, a 34-year-old male, died last October, leaving the existence of the northern white rhino up to Sudan.

Sudan, the last northern white rhino male in existence. 
Rhino horns, prized in Asia for its ancient belief that they can reduce fevers and seizures, have no medicinal value. It’s said to be like biting your fingernails.
Nevertheless, rhino horns command big money—$30,000 per pound.

The Kenya Wildlife Service says 54 rhinos in general were killed by poachers in 2014, according to

From 1960 to 1980, the population of more than 2,000 northern white rhinos was reduced to only 15 because of widespread poaching, and now it’s up to Sudan to keep the species alive. And it’s up to the armed rangers to keep Sudan alive.

According to an interview with World of Animals, Simon Irungu, a ranger with the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, said armed patrols set out at dusk and return to camp by morning and often find themselves in the line of fire to protect the animals.

“With the rising demand for rhino horn and ivory, we face many poaching attempts and while we manage to counter a large number of these, we often risk our lives in our line of duty,” Irungu said. “Our conservancy is among the least damaged by poaching now, thanks to a dedicated and united team and the support of our management and beyond.”

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is hoping to raise funds to keep the rhino rangers safe so there is a future for the animal.

“Please keep giving and spreading the word, our wildlife’s future, depends on you,” the conservancy stated on its campaign.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Baby elephant reunited with its mother after both are rescued

A baby elephant is reunited with its mother after rescuers
from Elephant Nature Park in Thailand arrange the meeting. 

MeBai, a baby elephant torn away from its mother three years ago and put into a life of slavery in Thailand, enjoyed a passionate reunion with her mother, Mae Yui, after rescuers from Elephant Nature Park arranged for the meeting.

Baby elephants are said to be dependent emotionally and physically on their mothers for three to five years. MeBai was taken away from her mother at age 3 to work a tourist camp giving rides, even though she was young.

According to Elephant Nature Park, the elephant’s owner moved her out of the riding business because of failing health and allowed her to join the Pamper A Pachyderm program at Elephant Nature Park.

Soon, Lek Chailert of the Elephant Nature Park discovered MeBai’s mother was at a tourist camp more than 60 miles away at the Karen Tribe village and convinced the owner there to allow a visit from her kidnapped baby.

So caretakers of MeBai walked her more than 60 miles over four days for the magical moment when mother and daughter were reunited:

Elephants never forget.

“When Mae Yui and MeBai met, it seemed both of them were shocked and they held quiet, silent for half an hour,” Chailert wrote about the reunion on Facebook.

“We all stand there silent with them and want to see what will happen. And then they began to talk, MeBai and her mother joining trunks, hugging each other and talking non-stop, 3 1/2 of catching up—it is a lot of things for them to share on their experiences.”

Baby elephant MeBai on the road to a reunion with its mother

The owners of Mae Yui were so touched, they agreed to release her from captivity, too, so both elephants are being rehabilitated together at the new Karen Elephants Experience, and eventually will be returned to the wild.

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Grouper wrestles with diver over lionfish in Cayman Islands

A diver in the Cayman Islands was swimming along the ocean floor holding a plastic baggie with a small lionfish he’d captured when out of nowhere he was confronted by an aggressive grouper that really wanted the lionfish.

A wrestling match ensued and, well, guess who won?

The grouper really, really wanted that lionfish and wasn’t taking no for an answer. The grouper pulled the baggie from the diver’s hand three times. At one point, the diver attempted to push the grouper away, but the fish wouldn’t be denied.

Little did the grouper know that the diver had actually caught the lionfish to feed to the grouper. Once the diver had the chance, he released the lionfish and the impatient grouper gulped it down.

Paul Kim, who shot the video, told GrindTV that the invasive and destructive lionfish kill and maim reef fish and ruin the food chain, so divers take every opportunity to kill them, as is perfectly legal.

“The best way to dispose of them is to feed them to the native Nassau groupers who don’t see the lionfish as food, but are quickly learning to identify them as so,” Kim said. “We were just on a typical dive when a dive master happened to trap a lionfish and coax it into a plastic bag. The dive master swam around looking for a grouper to feed it to when one came out of the blue and snatched the bag from his hand.

“When it happened I was nervous for the grouper’s life because the plastic would have killed him but was relieved after and glad the grouper ate the invasive lionfish.”

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