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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Sumatran elephants, an injured bear and a wandering wallaby are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Rhinoceros DNA database successful in aiding poaching prosecutions

Statistical study shows how powerful RhODIS database is in linking forensic evidence to particular animals, say researchers

A large database of rhinoceros DNA is successfully being used to prosecute poachers and those trading rhino horns, new research has revealed.

While numbers of the southern white rhino – the only wild subspecies of white rhino in Africa – have grown to about 20,000, fewer than 5,500 black rhinos are thought to exist in the wild, and both species are affected by poaching.

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Country diary: venerable beech hosts a swarm of microscopic life

Mini-ponds have formed in the surface roots of an ancient tree and provide an environment for minute organisms to thrive

The beech that stands at the end of the stepping stones across Waskerley beck is an elephantine presence, dwarfing surrounding trees. The scarred grey bark of its bole has the colour and texture of pachyderm skin. Its moss-covered surface roots seem to be melting into the earth under the massive burden they support. Over decades they have grown and coalesced, creating hollows between them that retain water, fed by rivulets of rainwater trickling down the trunk.

There is a name for these mini-ponds that form on the surface of plants and are habitats for small aquatic organisms: phytotelmata, which translates from the Greek root as “plant ponds”. The best studied are those contained by leaf bases of urn plants or bromeliads that live on branches in rainforest tree canopies. They are breeding sites for frogs, dragonflies and even land crabs.

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Pintail ducks, an elephant seal pup and an osprey in action are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Elephants mourn. Dogs love. Why do we deny the feelings of other species?

Scientists are discovering more and more about the internal lives of animals. But what does this mean for the way humans behave? Last week footage of five young elephants being captured in Zimbabwe to sell to zoos travelled round the world. Parks offic...

Fatal extraction: how demand for hippos’ teeth is threatening them with extinction

The black market’s insatiable demand for ivory has turned poachers’ attention away from well-protected elephants to more vulnerable hippos

It seems almost incomprehensible that the desire for an ivory ornament or piece of jewellery justifies the slaughter of a majestic elephant, but as their populations continue to crash, the ever-hungry black market has become creative in order to satisfy its greed. Now, ivory hunters are setting their sights on everything from arctic narwhals to fossil mammoths. But one unexpected victim of this barbaric practice is the humble hippopotamus. A new study says that a rise in demand for hippos’ teeth is threatening the mammal with extinction.

In many ways, it takes a lot of effort to kill an elephant. They are legally well protected in most countries where they range and international regulations are clear. Also, smuggling large tusks internationally is highly conspicuous. Hippos offer a cheaper and, in many ways, “easier” ivory option. The simple truth is that they are not high on the priority list of the international conservation community. Find a group of wild-living African elephants and, often, they will either be tracked with radio collars or will be the focus of long-term conservation research, intensive ecotourism or determined law-enforcement efforts. Not so with hippos. Unlike their famous savannah cousins, they don’t come with a protective human entourage, meaning poachers can take their time. Additionally, they are not protected especially well at either a national or international level.

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Rescue of the olive ridley sea turtle

Of the millions of eggs laid by the endangered olive ridley sea turtles on one Costa Rican beach, few survive both predators and poachers. But how could allowing local villagers to harvest the eggs be a solution?

Dawn on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast and the dark figure of a man at the water’s edge gradually becomes distinct under a pinkening sky. I switch off my torch. Jairo Quiros Rosales and I are the only people to be seen on this broad black beach, the volcanic sands of which stretch north for several miles. Jairo is beckoning, so I hurry down to him, scanning the beach and murky shoreline. As the light grows, I make out the funereal vultures flecking the distance, and assorted mutts appear from the gloom to sniff the night from the sands.

And then I see them: about 100 metres further up the beach, like strange, regularly humped stones, hundreds of olive ridley sea turtles are making their way from the ocean on to the beach to lay their eggs. This is the arribada. It means “the arrival” in Spanish, and I have been waiting more than a month to see it.

Her shell heaves with obvious effort and her eyes stare unresponsively as she enters a trance-like state

The poachers have turned violent, threatening and attacking, even killing the environmentalists

All around me, local men and women are dancing a tarantella on the sand, stamping gently in bare feet to find nests

Related: The pioneering vets who save rhinos left for dead by poachers – in pictures

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Elephants unchained: ‘The day has gone by when this was entertainment’

As our understanding of the minds of our fellow species improves, will we increasingly look back at the way we have treated them in horror and repulsion?

  • Photographs by Karine Aigner

Water streams off the edges of her giant ears, runs in rivulets down the wrinkles of her slate-grey skin. She presses her whole head into the hose’s force, the spray welling into her mouth. As she drinks, she rubs her skin against the steel fence, her eyelids drooping luxuriously, her trunk relaxing. If ever I’ve seen a captive elephant happy, it’s Flora this morning.

There are no people laughing or pointing here at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. There are no infants crying, no children arguing. The public are not allowed into the sanctuary, whose unofficial motto is, “Allow elephants to be elephants”: give them the freedom of choice, the freedom of large areas to explore, the freedom from human gawkers (apart from via the online elecams) while still providing the kind of care that comes with a zoo.

In Indonesia, activists have photographed an elephant in a zoo that lives alone with its feet tied together by a chain.

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Eurasian wolf cubs, a wreathed hornbill and an elephant crossing the road are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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How did whales become so large? Scientists dive into marine mystery

Changes in food distribution and not falling ocean temperatures could hold key to shift towards giant lengths

The blue whale has a body the length of a jet airliner, a heart the size of a car, and a tongue the same weight as an elephant.

Now researchers say they might have solved the mystery of why baleen whales – a group that includes these blue beasts, the largest animals on the planet – became so large.

Related: 36m-year-old fossil discovery is missing link in whale evolution, say researchers

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Victory for WildLeaks! Green Mile Safari Accused of Poaching in Tanzania

In 2016 Elephant Action League – through our whistleblower program WildLeaks – received videos showing illegal and cruel trophy hunting in Tanzania committed by the safari company called Green Mile Safari Co. Ltd. Among the shocking violations in the Green Mile videos are hunting with automatic weapons, having children hunt with automatic weapons, gunning down...

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The post Victory for WildLeaks! Green Mile Safari Accused of Poaching in Tanzania appeared first on Elephant Action League.

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Train Plows Into Elephant Herd in India, Killing 5 Animals

The authorities say the train driver was going too fast and ignored villagers who were waving flashlights to urge him to slow down.
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Speeding Train Plows Into Elephants in India, Killing 5 Animals

The authorities say the train driver was going too fast and ignored villagers who were waving flashlights to urge him to slow down.
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Speeding Train Plows Into Elephants in India, Killing 5 Animals

The authorities say the train driver was going too fast and ignored villagers who were waving flashlights to urge him to slow down.
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Kenya:Prominent Ivory Trade Investigator Killed in Nairobi Home

[Deutsche Welle] World-renowned ivory investigator Esmond Bradley Martin has been found dead in his home with a stab wound to the neck. Martin had spent decades tracing the trade of ivory and rhino horns from Africa to Asian markets.
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Kenya:Ivory Trade Investigator Found Dead in Karen, Nairobi

[Nation] A world-renowned ivory investigator has been killed at his home in Karen, Nairobi, police said.
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Top ivory investigator murdered in Kenya

Esmond Bradley Martin, whose groundbreaking investigations helped the fight against elephant poaching, died after being stabbed at home in NairobiA well-known American ivory-trade investigator, who pioneered efforts to combat elephant and rhino poachin...
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Top ivory investigator murdered in Kenya

Esmond Bradley Martin, whose groundbreaking investigations helped the fight against elephant poaching, died after being stabbed at home in NairobiA well-known American ivory-trade investigator, who pioneered efforts to combat elephant and rhino poachin...
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Nigeria:Thailand Seizes Nigeria’s Smuggled Ivory As Rescued Chimpanzees Face Uncertain Future

[Guardian] Ivory worth 15 million baht ($469,800) smuggled from Nigeria has been seized in Thailand, customs officials said.Three elephant tusks and 31 ivory pieces weighing a combined 148 kilograms were seized at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in ...
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South Africa:Policewoman Provides Gifts to Help Grandmother, Baby

[News24Wire] A fluffy grey elephant, pink-frilled clothing, soothing creams and nourishing formula are amongst the gifts from the heart given by an Eastern Cape police captain to an elderly granny taking care of her tiny granddaughter.
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Overwhelming response to UK ivory surrender to protect elephants

Publication Date:  Feb 2 2018 Image:  An ivory surrender to help protect elephants from further slaughter for the i...
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Overwhelming response to UK ivory surrender to protect elephants

Publication Date:  Feb 2 2018 Image:  An ivory surrender to help protect elephants from further slaughter for the i...
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