Tasmanian Devils (Sarcophilus harisii) is the largest carnivorous marsupial surviving today. This species feeds on carrion and is native to Tasmania, Australia. The species was once thriving in Tasmania with an estimated 150,000 individuals but the population decreased and became contracted after European Settlers arrived on Tasmania. And with the people and the reduced gene pool came Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD)!
DFTD is an infective facial cancer which has devastating effects on the Tasmanian devil population with reduction in the region of 60-90%. It was believed that DFTD would lead to the extinction of the Tasmanian Devil in the short term. Now scientists have found that there is a small population of Tasmanian devil that have some evidence of immunity. If immunity is found in other populations it would demonstrate substantial evolution in a short period of time (since the disease was detected in 1996) and could reverse the effects of DFTD. It was once believed that the extinction of this species was coming but the news that there could be natural immunity gives hope to the species. Along with the immunised released individuals this could be very good news for the Tasmanian Devil! This would also be a shining example of an animal saving itself from what was ultimately a human induced extinction event!
Today, the 18th October, is the first ever World Okapi Day! The Okapi is an endangered species found in the African rainforest and it is the closest living relative of giraffes.
This species is little known which is why the Okapi Conservation Project started the World Okapi day to promote the conservation and knowledge of this beautiful creature. The species is so elusive in the wild that it wasn’t formally discovered until 1901 and it has become the umbrella species in the Congo. The Okapi is threatened by deforestation as it is reliant on rainforest cover for survival. If the Okapi is protected and thus the forest is protected other species such as elephants, chimpanzees and gorillas will also be protected.
The Okapi Conservation Project list a number of ways that we can all help on their website:
- Visit your nearest zoo with Okapi (my nearest zoo with Okapi is Chester zoo which has a wonderful collection of animals and does great work for conserving species http://www.chesterzoo.org/explore-the-zoo/animals/mammals/hoofed-animals/okapi )
- Tell your friends and family about Okapi (do they know what an Okapi is? If not this is your chance to tell them about this uniquely beautiful animal)
- Post your best okapi photos on social media (don’t forget to hashtag #OkapiConservation #WorldOkapiDay )
- Change your social media cover photo (see the options on the Okapi Conservation Projects facebook page 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/okapiconservationproject/?ref=br_rs )
- Recycle your old mobile phone (coltan, found in mobile phones, is mined in rainforests so recycling can prevent further exploitation of the Okapi’s home)
- Donate to Okapi Conservation Project 🙂
- Host your own Okapi Awareness event (let your imagination go wild!)
If you would like to learn more about Okapi’s please visit the Okapi Conservation Project website and IUCN red list.
I am at week 8 or 9 of data collection, I can’t really remember, it feels like I have been watching bird feeders willing for red squirrels and birds to come for ever! The red squirrels have been very quiet recently but I think I’ll put that down to the terrible weather we have been having here in North west Wales and the ill timing of some extreme gardening involving power tools. I will soon be finished with data collection and will have to bite the bullet and do statistics. There is nothing I dislike doing more than stats! Too many numbers, too many words that make no sense, too much output that even with help I can’t interpret. Well… good luck to me 🙂
As mentioned previously I have bought a wildlife camera and I have some wonderful videos of a red fox which unfortunately I cannot share on here as I can only add photos. I love seeing what wildlife we have here because although I knew there were foxes and badgers you don’t often get to see them. My dad has been lucky enough to see a badger when he had to go to a fire call at the three in the morning but otherwise sightings are few and far between.
As mentioned in my last post, I have recently been bought a wildlife camera which has come! At uni, we were given a camera to set up and we had to write a report and were assessed on our camera trap set up abilities and report writing skills. During the 6 weeks that camera was up the camera caught numerous squirrels, pigeons, pheasants, rabbits, a few badgers and deer but never any foxes much to my dismay! Well I can now finally say I have a photograph of a fox caught on a camera trap at my house! 🙂 The fox was the only thing captured but that is more likely due to the placement of the camera as there is evidence of foxes and badgers being in the area and there are countless birds and grey squirrels around and about. I am excited to see what else might be lurking on our land 🙂
As well as the camera, I attended a dormouse ecology and training day on Friday organised by the North Wales Wildlife Trust. It was a very informative and interesting including a practical to show us how to check dormouse nest boxes safely and how to differentiate between a dormouse nest, a wood mouse nest and a birds nest. I am still doing field work for my masters research project which has been hitting a few potholes at the moment but hopefully it will all sort itself out this week 🙂
The last few days of 30 days wild did not quite go to plan because I quite kindly decided to bash my knee whilst out running! I haven’t been able to walk for the past few days and it has only just recovered in the past couple of days! I carried on with my squirrel data collection which didn’t always go to plan this week and I didn’t see all that many squirrels which isn’t fantastic when you are researching squirrel and bird interactions! Oh well I am sure they will appear at some point… or I live in hope that they will 🙂 Also had more problems with the car which had dodgy rear tires so failed its MOT, feel like giving up on cars completely and buying a gypsy caravan for my cob to pull around… don’t think he’d enjoy it at his age though.
I have as of the last day of 30 days wild ordered a wildlife camera so I can finally find out what and the abundances of species that we have on our small holding which I am very excited about! 🙂
Days 20, 21 and 22 were pretty much taken over with data collection! The squirrels were a bit thin on the ground but there were birds a plenty! Yesterday (day 22) I visited my fourth site for the first time and I either underestimated the height of the tree or overestimated the height of myself because even with a step ladder I was miles away from being able to get the feeders down! So I decided to go for a walk along the walking loop at the site instead!
Day 23: I decided to the random act of wildness photography challenge where you take photos of each of the colours of the rainbow seen in nature! I did this at home where most things are green and yellow!
Red: Leaves of the oak tree sapling in the field
Orange: Butterfly (it’s sort of orange… honest!)
Yellow: Dandelions, lots and lots of dandelions
Green: The Canopy above the river
Blue: Dragonfly/ Damselfly type buggy thing! (very good at invertebrate ID)
Indigo/ Violet: Foxglove and Red Clover
As well as photographing colours I also bought a fat ball feeder that was on offer in Morrisons and the blue tit has already found it! 🙂
Day 16: I studied my squirrels and birds as per usual and also went for a bike ride! It was national bike week last week so my sister and I went from our home to Llanberis over clegir hill. The hill is steep but the views from the top are stunning 🙂 No photos because I forgot my camera but maybe take a trip for yourself!
Day 17: Once again did my study. The week of 5oClock starts had however taken its toll and instead of going for a run as I planned, I fell asleep on the sofa… Oops!
Day 18: On the saturday I went kayaking at Llyn Padan with my dad, my boyfriend and the dogs! My dad is training for a triathlon so I am his kayak support and because we had the dogs they had to come in the kayak with me! They did not enjoy this so much and tried to continually jump out. Luckily they didn’t and we successfully navigated the lagoons. I also went for a run along the footpaths above the village which was lovely but it involved a hill which I’m not yet very good at! We also ate outside on the picnic bench for our attempt at National Picnic Week and made a cake in the shape of a “hedgehog” (that is up for debate).
Day 19: Today, I went to Llandudno for a strandline species identification training day in Llandudno with the North Wales Wildlife Trust. The aim of this day was to learn about the common species so that I can be involved with public engagement events during the summer which I am excited about! I know absolutely nothing about coastlines so I am looking forward to learning about what I can find there! 🙂 Next week I continue with my research project and hopefully find more wild things to do!