Thursday, 13 October 2011

Siberian Tigers

Siberian Tigers
Siberian tigers are some of the endangered animals of the world and its via proper information education and communication about tigers that can help understand the Siberian Tigers  homes  their territory and  the Siberian tiger Beautiful Animal Habitats. Why do they Siberian Tigers have he name Siberia? Well getting to know the facts and data about Siberian Tigers is just a glimpse of what these beautiful animals have to undergo in terms of Siberian animal conservation, protection and education. The Siberian tigers also known as Panthera tigris are considered as the most dangerous and endangered tiger species of the world with their population of  about 5,500 to 7,500 tigers left in the wild and in captivity.  Only three tiger subspecies of the Bengal tigers mainly, the Bali tigers,  the Javan tigers, and Caspian tigers became  extinct in the early 1930s.
Siberian Tigers Information:  
The Siberian Tigers are the biggest dangerous animals from the cats family in the world. The Siberian Tigers are found in steamy hot forests and jungles with some living in the Siberian region which is  cold most of the year. As far as the tiger species ae concerned, only five different kinds or subspecies of tiger still remain in different parts of the world.
The Indochinese tiger, the Bengal tigerstigers are called Siberian tigers, the South China tigers, and Sumatran tigers
Siberian Tigers Behavior: 
As compared to the clouded leopard, jaguar, puma, or the black panther and the African lions, the Siberian tigers like to live in isolation away from other tigers. Then the female tiger gives birth, the tiger will try to get closer to other tigers for protection of the cubs while she is away hunting.
Siberian Tiger and Tigers Range & Habitat:
The Siberian Tiger and Tigers Range depends on the amount of food it can get in the different forest or its territory.  The distance could range for almost  26-78 sq. The Siberian tigers territory may reach almost 120 square miles. While it is already known that most Siberian tigers live alone, the endangered  tiger territories can go beyond borders. A male tiger's territory is   generally bigger than a  female Siberian tigers. World wide the Siberian tigers are estimated to be around 5,000–7,000 around the Asian region both in captivity and in the wild and may animal or tiger sanctuaries and tiger breeding centers.


With immense loss of Tiger and animal natural habitat and breeding grounds, the, the Amur or Siberian tiger, the northernmost living tiger,  is found mainly n many parts of southeastern Russia. The South China tiger is found only in southern China while the Indochinese tiger extends across most of Southeast Asia. The Bengal tiger is dominated mainly in many parts of India, while the Sumatran tiger is only located in the famous  Indonesian island of Sumatra. 
Siberian Tiger Reproduction and Rearing: 
Female Siberian tiger reach maturity when they are about 3 years old, maleSiberian tiger also reach a year or so later. In temperate climates, a tigress comes into heat only seasonally; however in tropical climates, female Siberian tigers may come into heat throughout the year in most cases not until  she is pregnant, or is raising cubs. The female Siberian tiger signals her readiness with scent markings and locating roars. The brief act of mating takes lace continually for a period of five days. Female tigers are induced ovulators, and must be stimulated through frequent copulation in order to become pregnant. 
After mating, the gestation period for Siberian tigers is about 103 days. The male Siberian tiger does not stay with the female Siberian tiger after mating, and does not participate in raising the cubs. The average litter size of tigers is 2 or 3 cubs (the largest is 5). One usually dies at birth. Once a tigress has mated and given birth to cubs, she will not come into heat again until her cubs are between one and a half and three years of age, with enough skills to begin life on their own.
Siberian Tigers Diet: 

Siberian Tigers are always in search of whatever prey is found in their natural habitat broad geographic range ranging from small retiles to big mammals such as wild pig, wild cattle and several species of deer are its major prey from sizes ranging from 65 to 2,000 pounds (30-900 kg). Typically, wild tigers like to eat fresh kills, and can eat as much as 40 pounds (18 kg) of meat at one time. The tiger will not eat again for several days.
Siberian Tigers Status: 
At the beginning of this century it is estimated that there were 100,000 wild tigers, today the number is less than 8,000. Simply put, tigers are disappearing in the wild. The main threats to tigers are poaching, habitat loss and population fragmentation.
Siberian Tigers Conservation & Ecology: 
All over many parts of Asia, once flourishing with huge natural flora and fauna have been turned into timber or conversion to agriculture. Only small islands of forest surrounded by a growing and relatively poor human population are left. As forest space is reduced, the number of animals left in the forest is also reduced, and the Siberian Tigers cannot find their natural food which can sustain them. As a result,  the Siberian Tigers begin to eat the livestock of villagers who live near the Siberian Tigers territory and feeding and breeding grounds and end u mauling and causing dangerous encounters to man


There are plenty of cases where locals and the masses have killed the Siberian Tigers in order to protect themselves and their homes and domestic livestock. As human populations move farther into the forest, groups of tigers become separated from each other by villages and farms. This means that tigers in one area can no longer mate with tigers in nearby areas. Instead, Siberian Tigers must breed repeatedly with the same small group of animals. Over time, this inbreeding weakens the gene pool, and tigers are born with birth defects and mutations.
Even though it is illegal to kill a Siberian TiSiberian Tigers and other tiger species, in many parts of Asia these wild tigers are still being poached today because their bones, whiskers and other body parts can be sold on the black market for a lot of money. despite a lot of hue and cry, these Siberian Tigers parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine because some people believe that tiger parts have special powers. Luck of man power in terns of Forestry and wildlife staff and under budgeted to be effective against the onslaught of poachers. While the exact number of tigers being poached is unknown, some sources have estimated that one tiger a day is being killed in India.
Siberian tigers Habitat
Where do Siberian tigers live?
Siberian tigers live in the forests of Amur-Ussur (Siberia) of Russia, Northern China and Korea. They live in an uninhibited areas, in taiga and mountain conifer forests.
Siberian Tigers in Russia
The Siberian tigers (sometimes called the Amur, Manchurian, or Northeast China tiger), have survived four wars, two revolutions, and now an onslaught on its forests. Its IUCN status is considered Critical, its numbers in the wild fluctuating from a low of 24 tigers in the 1940s to IUCN estimates of about 150 to 200 in 1994. There are three protected areas for tigers in Russia-the Sikhote-Alin (3,470 km2), Lazovsky (1,165 km2), and Kedrovaya Pad (178 km2) Reserves-inland from the Sea of Japan in the Russian Far East.
Siberian Tigers in China

There have been some incidences where by the Siberian tigers were seen in Changbaishan, near the Chinese border with North Korea, were reported in Chinese newspapers in 1990, and some are still found along the Russian border. The Cat Specialist Group suggests that there are probably fewer than 50 Siberian tigers in China. Regardless of their authenticity, it is the tigers in Russia that will define the future of the subspecies. The other sites are too small to sustain the tiger populations large enough for long-term animal habitat.
Siberian Tigers in Zoos
The captive program for Siberian tigers tigers is the largest and longest managed program for any of the subspecies. The Siberian tigers tiger served as one of the models for the creation of scientifically managed programs for species in captivity in zoos and aquariums worldwide. According to the 1997 International Tiger Studbook there are about 501 Siberian tigers managed in zoos. This captive population is descended from 83 wild-caught founders. For the most part, the Amur or Siberian tiger is considered secure in captivity, with a large, genetically diverse and stable population.

Siberian tigers Physical Features

How do Siberian tigers look like?

How much do Siberian tigers weight?
The Largest Cats

Siberian tigers are very massive and powerful animals. The Siberian tiger can reach a length of 130 inches (286 centimeters) which makes it the largest of the different tiger variants. The Siberian tiger also has a very broad muzzle compared to other tiger variants, and male Siberian tigers usually have mane. The typical body length for male Siberian tigers is 106 - 130 inches (233.2 - 286 cm) while females are smaller and usually stay between 95 and 108 inches (209 and 237.6 centimeters). Siberian Tigers are measured between from nose to tail tip. They male Siberian tigers are much heavier than the female tigers and usually weigh from 419 - 675 lb (190 - 306 kg). The really large male Siberian tigers weigh 800 lb (364 kg) or more. Female Siberian tigers tend to stay around 221 - 368 lb (101 - 168 kg). The biggest one ever recorded was 1,025 pounds.
Siberian tigers Prepared for the Winter
As far as the Siberian tiger's coat is concerned, these tigers have a nice long and warm coat. The white coat also helps to camouflage it in the snow. It also grows a longer and thicker coat than other tigers to help it survive the cold weather. The yellow stripes become reddish in the winter. Out of all tigers, Siberian tiger 's fur is most pale and has least of stripes.
The Siberian tiger's legs are heavy, the hind legs are larger and allow them to be good jumpers. Siberian tiger's huge paws have retractable claws (similar to domestic cat's).
When hunting, the Siberian tigers can make rapid attacks and run faster than 50 miles per hour. Keeping this pace is however extremely energy consuming and Siberian tigers will only run short distances at this velocity. Siberian tigers have a well developed night vision and prefer to hunt during the night when it can surprise its prey. It will also use its sensitive hearing and sense of smell to locate and strike down on prey.
Siberian tigers Population
How many Siberian tigers are there?
The Siberian tiger is critically endangered. There are very few of them left and it is possible that number of the tigers in captivity is greater than the number of their wild friends.
All Tigers Species are Endangered
Until 1940 there were 8 subspecies of tigers. Three of them are now extinct and the other 5 subspecies of tigers are endangered. Despite the tiger's amazing strength, it's hard to find room to roam these days. Number of these animals living in a wild is unknown, but it is believed to be around. There are about 500 animals living in zoos around the world. Other subspecies are also endangered - there are less than 5,000 of the tigers living in the wild.
All are endangered but the Siberian tiger or Amur tiger, Panthera tigris altaica, and the South China tiger, Panthera tigris amoyensis, are under the greatest threat of extinction in the wild. Indeed the South China tiger may have become extinct in the last few years - a count of between 20 and 30 living in the wild in 1998 suggests the population is too small to survive.

Through the dedication and sheer hard work of a few people, the Bengal tiger population is the healthiest having stabilized at between 3,000 and 4,000 in India alone. This has been achieved by educating and involving the local people in the preservation of these magnificent animals.

The Sumatran tiger, Panthera tigris sumatrae, population was thought to be between 400 and 500 in 1994 and Australians have been working hard to preserve them but, with the disastrous economic downturn in Asia followed by the political upheaval in Indonesia, the future is looking precarious.
Siberian Tigers are Few and Endangered
A count of the Siberian tiger or Amur tiger, Panthera tigris altaica, published in 1996, gave figures of between 330 and 371 adults most of them on the slopes of the Sikhote-Alin mountain range in the Russian Far East.

Situation of the Siberian tiger in the Russian Far East
It is difficult to put briefly the situation in Russia, but here are some of the problems. In the early 1990s, following the collapse of the USSR, several things happened which directly affected the future of Siberian tigers. The opening of Russia's borders with her South East Asian neighbors made smuggling easier. Increased mining and forestry encroached on the Siberian tiger habitat and also resulted in increased road construction which opened up the area to poachers. Government funding for conservation dwindled. All this led to an increase in poaching. Siberian tiger body parts are highly prized in Chinese medicine and, unfortunately, the Siberian tiger habitat in the Russian Far East is close to the Chinese border. A tiger can fetch upwards of $30,000 - far more than most Russians earn in a year.

In 1992 two sets of Siberian tiger cubs were orphaned in the Russian Far East. Victor Yudin, Head of the Laboratory of Vertebrate Zoology at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Vladivostok, was asked to raise them. Two of the cubs died from malnutrition but Victor and his wife, Lena, an animal nutritionist, saved Koucher and Nyurka, caring for them on a few hectares of forest in Gaivoron, north of Vladivostok.
Siberian tigers Locomotion
How fast are Siberian tigers?
The Siberian Tiger can run up to 50 miles per hour over the snow if they want to. That is only 10 miles per hours slower than a cheetah, the fastest cat in the world!
Siberian tigers are great jumpers and swimmers. They can climb trees, but rarely do so.
Siberian tigers Color
What color are Siberian tigers?
Siberian Tigers have a striped coat. They have a yellowish eye color. Their colors are a yellowish red and black with a white belly. They have black ears with white spots and a black and white tail. White Siberian tigers have been found ( genetic mutation). White Siberian tigers are very rare. The chances for each Siberian tiger to be a white tiger is one out of 10,000. Some experts believe these tigers are temporarily extinct.

Siberian tigers Babies
How are the babies of the Siberian tiger born, what happens after?
Female Siberian Tigers have at usually 2-4 cubs, though they can have up to 6 cubs.. Female tigers will carry their babies for 3 to 3 1/2 months. They weigh about 2-3 pounds. Their cubs are blind when they are first born. After 2 weeks they can open their eyes. When the cubs are little, they begin to grow stripes. Cubs begin to hunt with their mothers when they are about 6 months old. They leave their mother when they are 3 to 5 years old. These tigers live 25 years in the wild.

Siberian tigers Interesting Facts
What are some interesting facts about Siberian tigers?
When A tiger roars it can be heard over a mile away!  A tiger meal may consist of 100 pounds of meat a night! That's like 400 hamburgers! Because they go days between meals, big cats need lots of food.  The magnificent tiger loves to eat...porcupines! And monkeys, fowl, tortoises, and frogs when a good deer is hard to find. Only three out of a thousand tigers eat humans. So whoever first said Siberian tigers are man-eaters is a idiot! Siberian tigers usually live for about 25 years in their natural habitat. Tigers run extremely fast over short distances and can leap 10 feet in a single bound!

Siberian tigers Conservation
How are people helping Siberian tigers?
Across all of Asia, once vast forests have fallen for timber or conversion to agriculture. Only small islands of forest surrounded by a growing and relatively poor human population are left. As forest space is reduced, the number of animals left in the forest is also reduced, and tigers cannot find the prey they need to survive. As a result, tigers begin to eat the livestock of villagers who live near them. Sometimes tigers even attack humans. People sometimes kill the tigers in order to protect themselves and their livestock. As human populations move farther into the forest, groups of tigers become separated from each other by villages and farms. This means that tigers in one area can no longer mate with tigers in nearby areas. Instead, tigers must breed repeatedly with the same small group of animals. Over time, this inbreeding weakens the gene pool, and tigers are born with birth defects and mutations.

Even though it is illegal to kill a tiger, wild tigers are still being poached today because their bones, whiskers and other body parts can be sold on the black market for a lot of money. Tiger parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine because some people believe that tiger parts have special powers. Forestry and wildlife departments are too understaffed and under budgeted to be effective against the onslaught of poachers. The exact number of tigers being poached is unknown.

Other names  of Siberian tigers
What are some other names for Siberian tigers?
These tigers are also be named Amur tiger, Ussuri tiger, White tiger, siberain tiger (misspelled)
Food
What do Siberian tigers eat?
Siberian tigers are carnivores and hunt big game: various deer and wild boars. Occasionally Siberian tiger eats fish and mice (well, it's a cat, isn't it?). Being very large animals they need about 20 lbs of food every day. At one meal a Siberian tiger is able to consume up to 100 lbs of meat. 85% of a Siberian tiger's diet is red deer and wild boar. Tigers drag the meet and hide it from other predators on the trees. If the animals cannot eat all the prey, it takes a nap and then finishes the meal off.

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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

LORIS

LORIS
This grey-colored, giant-eyed creature may appear amazingly cute at first glance but you should beware. In fact it is the world’s only poisonous primate so far discovered. Yes, it's a cuddly gremlin with an unpredictable, aggressive temperament which may bite you with its sharp and fang-like canine teeth.
Meet the Slow Loris

The Slow Loris is nocturnal primate, of the subgroup Prosimians, suborder Strepsirrhini, and is found across a belt of countries around Indonesia and in the Malayan rainforests. A cute little creature, 10-15 inch long, it has a round head with comparatively large eyes, very thin legs and dense brown furry skin. They have little or no tail and the Slow Loris’s spine has an extra vertebrate. There are five different species of Loris – Sunda Slow Loris, Bengal Slow Loris, Pygmy Slow Loris, Javan Slow Loris and Bornean Slow Loris. This omnivorous animal feeds mostly on insects, gums and nectar.
Why the unusual name Slow Loris?

Lorises are very slow moving primate that spends most of the day time sleeping. They do not leap through trees, but instead they move very slowly. They have special blood vessels (a special network of capillaries) in their hands with the help of which they can cling to branches for hours. That doesn’t mean that they can’t move quickly. They can, but only do so when disturbed or threatened. They can also eat while hanging upside down.
Is the Slow Loris venomous or a poisonous primate?
To understand it clearly, we must know the difference between the terms 'venomous' and 'poisonous.' Though they sound similar, they are very different phenomena. A poisonous animal produces toxins that are either inhaled or ingested into the victim’s body, whereas the venomous animal’s toxin has to be injected into the victim’s body by a sting or by a bite. A perfect examples is the Blue dart frog (which is poisonous) and the Indian cobra (which is venomous).
Now to come to the Slow Loris. They have very sharp needle-like teeth on their lower jaw, shaped like a spade. 

Their bite is so painful and agonizing that they can create extreme allergic reactions (up to anaphylactic shock), followed by Hematuria, which is a reaction to the allergen. Their elbows plays an important part as a lethal weapon, in their defense mechanism. On the inside of the elbows, lies a patch which is used to store a foul smelling toxin. Right before the toxic biting, the loris will suck some poison from the patch and mix it with their saliva, inside their mouth. When all this is put together, it is clear that Slow Loris is a poisonous and not a venomous animal.

Conservation status
Unfortunately, in spite of being the most poisonous primate on the Earth, the Slow Loris is now threatened by illegal trade and deforestation. In some countries, they are in great demand as an exotic pet. Their birth rate is very slow and keeping them as a pet increases the risk of infections, leading to a high mortality rate in captivity. In the US it is illegal to keep them as a pet. Animal traders continue to catch them, removing their teeth with wire-cutters and selling them for $20-$100, in animal markets and shopping malls in big cities. How unfortunate it is that the Slow Loris in unable to defend itself most of the time.
Currently listed as either ‘Vulnerable’ or ‘Endangered’, the Slow Loris is meant to be in the wild, and they wouldn’t make a great pet. They mark their territory with urine, and no one would want their house to smell of that.

Their body parts are also used in traditional medicinal practice, including their big eyes. In Cambodia, dried lorises can be found in any market place in the country, and are said to treat wounds, broken bones, and stomach problems. It is even served as a tonic. This hunting is causing a serious threat to these incredible animals
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PANDA ENDANGERED ANIMALS

PANDA ENDANGERED SPECIES OF ANIMALS
Panda Facts

Scientific Name:
Ailuropoda melanoleuca
Adult Weight:
165 - 353 pounds

Weight at birth:
4-8 ounces

Adult Body Length:
4-5 feet

Diet:
25 to 40 pounds of bamboo per day

Life Span:
18-20 years in the wild
30-35 years in captivity

Habitat:
Southwestern China
• Population     
Although they once roamed over a large portion of Asia, scientists currently estimate the population of the Giant Panda at only 1,600, making Giant Pandas a seriously endangered species. They are found living in the wild in a small area in Southwestern China along the Tibetan Plateau. There are approximately 300 in captivity in reserves, zoos and wild life parks. Four zoos in the US currently have pandas; San Diego, Memphis, Atlanta and Washington D.C. Giant Pandas are also found in zoos in Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan, Mexico, France, Spain, Austria and Australia. Zoos outside of China must lease the animals from the Chinese government. This money is used for the preservation of the wild Giant Panda.

• Population     
Although they once roamed over a large portion of Asia, scientists currently estimate the population of the Giant Panda at only 1,600, making Giant Pandas a seriously endangered species. They are found living in the wild in a small area in Southwestern China along the Tibetan Plateau. There are approximately 300 in captivity in reserves, zoos and wild life parks. Four zoos in the US currently have pandas; San Diego, Memphis, Atlanta and Washington D.C. Giant Pandas are also found in zoos in Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan, Mexico, France, Spain, Austria and Australia. Zoos outside of China must lease the animals from the Chinese government. This money is used for the preservation of the wild Giant Panda.
• History             
In China's Han dynasty (206 BC – 24 AD), the highly prized and gentle pandas graced the gardens of the emperors. Pandas were believed to have mystical powers.

In 1869, Pere Armand David, a French missionary and naturalist, was the first Westerner to describe a panda.

In 1972, when President Richard Nixon established relations with China, the panda gained attention in the United States. While visiting China, first lady Pat Nixon commented to her host that she loved the pandas. In response to this comment, the first panda was sent to the National Zoo in Washington, DC as a gift from China to Mrs. Nixon.

The panda is considered a "National Treasure" by the people of China
• Species            
Referred to as a "living fossil," the Giant Panda is believed to have existed since the Pleistocene age, approximately 3 million years ago. After years of debate, scientists have determined through DNA testing that the Giant Panda is actually a member of the bear family. It was once thought they might be of the raccoon family. The scientific name of the Giant Panda is Ailuropoda Melanoleuca.
• Food/Diet       
Giant Pandas are classified as carnivores; however their diet is closer to that of herbivores. A Carnivore is an animal that eats mostly meat. An herbivore is an animal that eats mostly plants.

The Giant Pandas' diet consists almost entirely of bamboo stalks, shoots and roots. They eat from 25 to 40 pounds per day. There are about 25 different types of bamboo.
When available, Giant Pandas will eat fish, flowers and small animals. In captivity they also receive milk, eggs, ground meat and specially formulated vitamin bread. Apples and carrots are a favorite treat.
Since the Giant Pandas' digestive system is not very efficient, they must consume large quantities of bamboo every day in order to obtain the nutrition they need. Cubs are especially prone to digestive problems.

Pandas eat for up to 14 hours a day. Their unique paws make it possible for them to hold the bamboo and bite the stalks. They generally eat in a sitting position but also like to snack lying on their backs.

The puffy cheeks that make the Giant Pandas appear so adorable are actually powerful muscles that enable the Giant Pandas to chew through even the toughest bamboo stalks.

Unlike other bears, the Giant Pandas do not store fat and therefore do not hibernate. Consequently, they are constantly in search of food.

One problem for wild Giant Pandas is that the bamboo species flowers and dies. It then takes several years for the bamboo to recover. In the past, Giant Pandas would migrate to other areas in search for new plants. Now, with their range fragmented, this is often difficult.

Giant Pandas drink water from the rivers and streams in their mountain environment.
• Appearance   

Giant Pandas are known around the world for their unique black and white appearance. They resemble other bears in their shape, but have very distinctive markings. All Giant Pandas have black patches around their eyes and black ears on a white head. Their legs are black and there is a black band across their backs. Their mid sections are also white. It is very difficult to tell Giant Pandas apart since their markings are basically the same on all animals. Caretakers can identify individual Giant Pandas by small markings around their mouth or muzzle.
Giant Panda fur is coarse, dense and somewhat oily. Their thick fur acts as a coat to keep them warm in the cool moist climate of the mountain forests.

Unlike other bears, Giant Pandas are slow moving and seldom move faster than a walk. They appear clumsily in their movement.
• Paws 
The front paws of a Giant Panda are very different from other bears due to a special bone found in their wrists. Their sixth toe, an opposable thumb, is used for grasping bamboo. They use this bone in the same way humans use their thumbs, mainly for grasping food.
• Sense of smell              
Giant Pandas leave scent marks in their territories. The scent marks serve as a major form of communication. Giant Pandas can determine from the scent if another Giant Panda is in the area, if the other Giant Panda is male or female, how recently they left their mark, and, in the case of females, if they are in a reproductive period.

To mark their location, Giant Pandas will back up to a tree and rub their scent glands on the tree, then use their tail to spread the scent. Some Giant Pandas, particularly males, will back up on the tree until they are virtually doing a handstand in order to place their scent higher on the trunk.
• Vocalizations 
Latest research confirms adult Giant Pandas are much more "talkative" than we suspected and have the ability to make 11 distinct sounds. When guarding against predators or other Giant Pandas, they will huff, snort, chomp, or honk. If they're trying to defend themselves, they will moan, bark, or squeal. A growl or roar signifies the start of an argument or fight. During mating season they may emit a unique bleat or chirping sound. Cubs make a very loud squeaky cry.
• Reproduction

Breeding maturity in the Giant Pandas is generally between four and eight years. Females breed only once a year in the spring. Giant Pandas tend to have a low reproductive rate, partly because the females only ovulate two out of three days a year. In the wild, Giant Pandas use scent and calls to locate a mate during the reproduction period.

Fragmentation of the Giant Pandas' habitat is a major impediment to breeding. When towns, roads, and power lines prevent the free movement from one area to another the male Giant Pandas cannot reach the females.

Giant Pandas nest on the ground or in hollow trees, giving birth approximately 100 to 150 days after they have mated. Hollow trees are becoming scarcer creating yet another problem for breeding.
Females give birth to one or two cubs. Triplets are extremely rare. If twins are born, usually only one survives in the wild. The mother will select the stronger of the cubs and the weaker will die. It is thought that the mother cannot produce enough milk for two cubs since she does not store fat.
Cubs will stay with their mothers for about two years. Therefore females only reproduce every other year or less.
Many zoos have tried to breed Giant Pandas but with limited success. The breeding centers in China use both natural mating and artificial insemination and have become much more successful in the past few years.
• Cubs 
Like all bears, Giant Panda babies are called cubs. Newborn cubs weigh 4 to 8 ounces and are about 6 to 8 inches long, about the size of a stick of butter. They are born pink, with almost no hair, and blind. At about 1 week they begin to develop their distinctive black and white markings and at about 5 to 7 weeks, they start to open their eyes.
The mother holds the cub to her chest, much like a human mother. In size, compared to their mothers, panda cubs are some of the smallest newborns. Giant Panda cubs are especially vulnerable since the mothers don't use a den and hibernate as other bears do. In the wild, Giant Pandas nest in hollow tree trunks or caves. The newborns won't be able to even stand on their own for nearly 4 months. New mothers occasionally don't seem to know how to take care of their cubs. In captivity, they are then raised by caretakers using incubators in the nurseries at the Giant Panda Reserves or Zoos. At the Giant Panda Reserves, the caretakers in the nursery leave one cub with the mother for her to care for and place one in the nursery in an incubator. In the nursery, the staff will hand feed the cub and stay with it 24 hours a day, every day. After about a week, the cubs are exchanged or "swapped" so both cubs will bond with their mother and receive her care. The mother accepts both babies, but only one at a time. This process of exchanging the cubs, which was developed at the Wolong Panda Center, allows both of the cubs to survive in captivity. The Wolong Panda Center now has a 90% survival rate with captive born cubs, due in large part to this method used to raise twins.
At one year the cubs weigh between 70 to 80 pounds.
• Activities         
Older Giant pandas spend most of their time eating or sleeping. Younger ones like to play. They play with other Giant Pandas, running, chasing each other, climbing trees, and tumbling on the ground. Giant Pandas are truly "roly poly" creatures when they play.

In captivity they like "toys" which must be very sturdy and durable to stand up to their large teeth and powerful jaws.

They are well suited to their environment. They can swim in the mountain streams and enjoy the winter snow.

• Habitat      
The Giant Panda was once widespread in southern and eastern China, Vietnam and Myanmar (Burma). Today the Giant Panda is limited to the mountains in a few Chinese provinces in southwestern China. Most of the Giant Pandas are in China's Sichuan Province, but they are also found in Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. Their range is along the eastern rim of the Tibetan Plateau.

Giant Pandas do not have a permanent den and do not hibernate. In the winter they will seek shelter in hollow trees.
The Giant Panda has lived for centuries in coniferous forests with dense undergrowth of bamboo at elevations of 5,000 to 11,000 feet. Rain or dense mist throughout the year shrouds these remote forests in heavy clouds. In the winter snow is common.

Today, these forests are under attack by dramatic increases in human population. Agriculture, ranching, logging, trapping, and human settlement dramatically threaten their habitat. Previously, they lived at lower elevations but farming and clearing of the forest have pushed them higher into the mountains.

The Giant Panda's primary food source, bamboo, is decreasing. Bamboo grows under the shade cover of the large fir trees. Logging and clearing the land for agricultural uses is a major factor in the reduction of bamboo.

The impact of rapid population growth has seen the destruction of significant Giant Panda habitat. In an effort to defend the Giant Panda, the Chinese government enforces a logging ban in the Giant Panda reserves.
The 8.0 earthquake of 2008 was in Sichuan Province, home to the Giant Pandas. The quake buried much of the Giant Pandas' bamboo under tons and tons of rock and mud.

In the 1940s, the Chinese government began conservation efforts to protect pandas. In 1963 the first panda reserve was established in southern China.  Pandas were classified as an endangered species in the 1980s.

Today there are 40 Giant Panda reserves in China. These reserves need to be connected via corridors in order to reduce isolation and fragmentation of the Giant Panda population. Villages and human activities now block open ranges for migration. The fragmentation of Giant Panda areas is a major problem affecting mating.

Another problem related to the fragmentation of the Giant Panda areas is that the bamboo will flower and then die off about every 20 years.  When this occurs the Giant Pandas need to migrate to a new area.  There have been reports of Giant Pandas starving when they are unable to find bamboo in new areas.

The destruction of the Giant Pandas' natural habitat, the reduction in available bamboo forests and expanding human populations are the main threats to the Giant Panda.
• Earthquake of 2008    
The May 12th 2008 earthquake epicenter was just a few miles from the Wolong Panda Center. Aftershocks continued for days. In one 24 hour period 178 aftershocks were monitored in the quake zone. There were approximately 70,000 deaths from the quake, 20,000 missing and 375,000 injured. 1.4 million quake survivors were evacuated.

Five staff members of the Wolong Nature Reserve were killed. One Giant Panda, Mao Mao was killed by the collapse of the exterior wall in her enclosure.
Xiao Xiao escaped from his enclosure and is still listed as "missing." Another Giant Panda died following the earthquake when roads were blocked and he could not reach medical care.

Qing Qing was injured when her enclosure collapsed but was treated and is doing now doing well.
Wild Giant Pandas certainly died as a result of the earthquake but no estimates as to the number are available. Several Giant Pandas came down from the mountains in search of food.  One wild Giant Panda has starved due to the destruction of the bamboo.

The consequences of the devastation to the bamboo as a result of the earthquake will continue for many years.

The earthquake dramatically increased the challenges for this already endangered species. 
• Status               
A study in 2004 by the Chinese Department of Forestry estimated the current population of the wild Giant Pandas at approximately 1,600. There are also about 300 Giant Pandas in captivity.

Giant Pandas are on the World Conservation Union's Red List of Threatened Animals. The U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) protects Giant Pandas, as well as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).  While hunting and poaching have been reduced due to strict laws by the Chinese government, accidental capture of Giant Pandas in traps set for other animals still possess a serious problem. Low birth rates and difficulties with reproduction also limit the numbers.

The future of the Giant panda is interwoven with the Chinese people. New advances in environmentally responsible farming, high yield crops to reduce logging, and population control efforts will all help the Giant Pandas.
The Chinese Government has several projects for reforesting hillsides, protecting grasslands and nature reserves for the Giant Pandas. There are also plans to pay farmers to turn cropland back to forest and to establish commercial tree farms to replace logging. A replanting project to restore the bamboo damaged in the 2008 earthquake is currently underway in the Sichuan Province.

The outlook for the Giant Pandas is linked to aggressive conservation efforts as well as successful captive breeding. Biological diversity and sustainable habitats are essential.
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PORCUPINE

PORCUPINE

Physical Characteristics
The so-called "Big Five" group of animals includes the elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard. Some years back a scientist suggested a "Small Five" group of animals, consisting of the aardvark, ratel, porcupine, pangolin and the naked mole-rat. Although at first this may seem a humorous suggestion, it is a reminder that many other interesting, lesser-known animals exist.

The crested porcupine is the largest and heaviest of African rodents. The head is roundish and rather domed, with a blunt muzzle and small eyes and ears. The legs are short and sturdy, and each foot has five toes, all equipped with powerful claws.

The porcupine is, of course, easily recognized by its most notable feature—its quills. Quill length on different parts of the body varies, from 1 inch up to 12 inches on the back. Usually the quills lie flat against the body, but if danger threatens, the porcupine raises and spreads them. Scales on quill tips lodge in the skin like fishhooks and are difficult to pull out. New quills grow in to replace lost ones.
Habitat
Porcupines are most common in hilly, rocky country, but they can adapt to most habitats. Excessively moist forests and the most barren of deserts seem to be the only exceptions. They have even been found on Mt. Kilimanjaro, as high up as 11,480 feet.



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Behavior
Natural shelters among roots and rocks are modified by porcupines to suit their needs. They will inhabit holes made by other animals but also dig their own. These burrows are most commonly occupied in family units.

The porcupine warns potential enemies of its defense system when alarmed. It will stamp its feet, click its teeth and growl or hiss while vibrating specialized quills that produce a characteristic rattle. If an enemy persists, the porcupine runs backward until it rams its attacker. The reverse charge is most effective because the hindquarters are the most heavily armed and the quills are directed to the rear.

Not much is known about the breeding habits of porcupines in the wild, but the gestation period of the African crested is about 112 days. Between one and four young are born in a grass-lined burrow. They are well-developed and have their eyes open at birth. The young leave home for the first time at about 2 weeks of age as their quills, soft at birth, begin to harden. They are quite playful and, outside the burrow, they run and chase one another. The young are suckled for 6 to 8 weeks, when they begin to eat vegetable matter. Porcupines readily adapt to captivity and become quite tame, some living as long as 20 years.

When porcupine populations close to cultivated areas surge, they can become serious agricultural pests. They are smoked out of their burrows and hunted with spears, nets or dogs, practices that have eliminated them from densely settled areas.

Diet
Porcupines primarily eat roots, tubers, bark and fallen fruit but have a fondness, too, for cultivated root crops such as cassava, potatoes and carrots. Sometimes porcupines will take carrion back to the burrow to nibble on.

Predators and Threats
Especially in heavily settled areas, porcupines can be serious agricultural threats and porcupines can do a lot of crop damage in a single night. They are hunted using dogs, spears or nets, or smoked out of their burrows.

Did You Know?
The word porcupine means "quill pig" in Latin; however, porcupines are large rodents and not related to pigs at all.
Porcupine quills have long been a favorite ornament and good-luck charm in Africa. The hollow rattle quills serve as musical instruments and were once used as containers for gold dust.



This animal
•       is believed to have over 30 000 quills
•       lashes its tail threateningly when disturbed, possibly detaching loose quills, which fly through the air as though they were thrown
•       chews on a variety of objects, including wood, leather, bones, and cast-off antlers, perhaps to satisfy a craving for salt and the need to hone continuously growing teeth
•       is a solitary animal for much of the year
Description   
The porcupine Erethizon dorsatum is one of Canada’s best-known mammals, both in life and in legend. Its fame stems from its coat of quills, which keeps most enemies at a respectful distance.

When sitting hunched high up in a tree, a porcupine could be mistaken for the nest of a squirrel or a crow, but close to the ground it is easily recognized. It has a short, blunt-nosed face with small eyes. The ears are small and round, almost concealed by the hair, which also covers the spines. The shoulders are humped, making the back look arched. The short legs are bowed, and the animal stands bear-like with its entire foot planted firmly on the ground. The claws are long and curved. On the hind feet the first digit is replaced by a broad movable pad that allows the animal to grasp branches more firmly when climbing. The muscular tail is thick, short, and rounded at the tip.

The porcupine’s coat consists of a soft, brown, woolly undercoat and coarse, long guard hairs. At the base, each guard hair is brown, becoming darker near the tip, which may be white in eastern populations and yellow in the western ones. The guard hairs conceal the quills until the porcupine is aroused. The quills are longest on the back and tail and when raised push the guard hairs forward, forming a crest. On the face the quills are about 1.2 cm long; on the back they may be up to 12.5 cm in length. There are no quills on the muzzle, legs, or underparts of the body.
Each quill is hollow and embedded in the skin, where it is attached to a small muscle that pulls it upright in the fur when the animal bristles with alarm. About 0.6 cm from the tip, the quill tapers to a fine point closely covered by several dozen small black barbs. These barbs feel only slightly rough to the touch, but when they are moist—as when embedded in flesh—they swell, working the quill farther in. The quills have black tips and yellow or white shafts.

It has been estimated that the porcupine has over 30 000 quills, so it is not incapacitated by a single encounter with an enemy, when several hundred quills may be dislodged. As the quills are lost they are replaced by new ones, which are white and sharp and which remain firmly anchored in the skin until they are fully grown.

The porcupine is Canada’s second largest rodent, next to the beaver. Adult males reach an average weight of 5.5 kg after six years; the females reach 4.5 kg. The total length averages 68 to 100 cm, and the height at the shoulders is about 30 cm.

Signs and sounds

When in a den or up a tree, a porcupine is not always easy to see, but noisy chewing, cut twigs, and missing patches of bark may advertise its presence. Around feeding trees and especially outside the winter dens, scats, or droppings, are often visible. In the winter, these are rough and irregular in shape; in summer they tend to be rounded and soft turning from greenish brown to dark brown as they age.

In winter, the tracks can be recognized by the firm print of the whole sole placed heavily on the ground, the long claw marks, and, sometimes, marks where the tail has dragged. If the snow is soft and deep, the porcupine trail becomes more of a trough through the snow.

In fall, and to a lesser extent at other times of the year, porcupines may be called by a low puppylike whine repeated up and down the scale.

During confrontations, a porcupine will chatter its teeth. Otherwise porcupines are mainly uncommunicative animals. The female may nose her young with subdued grunts and whines. Only in the mating season do porcupines become noisy, creating a variety of moans, screams, grunts, and barks.


Habitat and habits         
Although the species of porcupine found in North America always lives among trees, it does not always live in mature forests and may be found in alder thickets along rivers and in dwarfed pine scrub along ridge crests. It is most common where there are rocky ledges and rock piles suitable for dens and stands of aspen, hemlock, and other trees.

Being shortsighted and slow moving, the porcupine is not too difficult to approach once found.

The defensive behaviour of the porcupine is well known though sometimes misinterpreted. If on the ground when danger threatens, the porcupine will make for the nearest shelter, under a rock or log or up a tree, even forsaking its slow walk for a clumsy gallop. If thwarted in such a retreat, it will hump its back, tucking its unprotected head between its shoulders. With all the quills erected, the porcupine will pivot on its front feet and keep its back to the enemy. As it stomps its back feet, it also lashes its tail threateningly. The momentum of the tail may detach loose quills, which fly through the air, giving the impression that they were thrown.

When caught in a trap, a porcupine may, in its struggles, embed its own quills in itself. It removes these quills—or foreign quills from another porcupine—with considerable dexterity using teeth and front paws.

A treed porcupine will survey danger with an air of unconcern, but should the enemy start to climb the tree, the porcupine will back down flicking and lashing its tail.

For much of the year the porcupine enjoys no social life and leads a solitary existence. Porcupines group together for winter denning or food rather than social reasons. Several porcupines may gather around a favoured food, and up to a hundred have been found in large rock piles in winter. At these times they are usually tolerant and ignore each other totally, although there may be some teeth chattering over food. Young porcupines are often playful and shadowbox using their tails. Sometimes even the normally rather sedate adults are known to play.

During winter the porcupine does not hibernate. However, it does not usually move far and feeds within 100 m of its den. During snow or rain it will remain in the den or, if outside feeding, will sit hunched in a tree, even during subzero weather, until the rain or snow stops. When the weather is dry in winter it will feed at any time of the day or night, but during the rest of the year it is nocturnal despite the weather. In summer the porcupine ranges farther from the den, often searching for food up to 1.5 km away. As well as these daily movements within the home range, there may be seasonal movements between winter denning areas and the summer feeding areas. In mountainous country, the porcupines will often descend during the winter along well-defined routes marked by debarked trees. In the spring, they return up the mountainside to summer feeding areas.

Unique characteristics

Aboriginal people dye porcupine quills and use them in decorative work. Before the Aboriginal people moved to reservations they ate a lot of porcupine meat, especially in winter, and later they hunted the porcupine’s worst enemy, the fisher, for its fur.
Range          
The porcupine occurs in North America in a wide range of vegetation types from semi-desert to tundra. Porcupines also occur in Africa and Asia, but Old World porcupines do not belong to the same family as New World porcupines.


Feeding        
The porcupine feeds largely on the inner bark of trees in winter, but it will also feed on a variety of other plants. During winter, although the needles and bark of most trees are acceptable, there are clear favorites: yellow pine in the west, white pine in the Great Lakes area, and hemlock in the northeast states. When the sap rises in spring, the bark of maples is favoured along with the catkins and leaves of alder, poplar, and willow. As more plants come into leaf, the porcupine will eat the leaves of herbs and shrubs, such as currant, rose, thorn apple, violets, dandelion, clover, and grasses. Particularly sought after are the succulent leaves of water lily and arrowhead, for which the porcupine will wade out into streams and even swim, its air-filled quills helping it to keep afloat. In the fall, it will eat beechmasts, or beech tree nuts, and acorns and is not averse to raiding cornfields and orchards.

One of the porcupine’s best-known and least-liked eating habits is that of chewing wood and leather in and about camps. It gnaws both salty and non-salty objects, which indicates the habit may stem not only from a craving for salt, but also from a need to hone the continuously growing teeth. When human-made objects are not available, the porcupine will chew bones and cast-off antlers.

The porcupine is a slow and deliberate feeder, relying on its nose rather than its eyes to guide its selection of plants. This has sometimes led people to believe that porcupines are stupid. However, porcupines are said to have good memories and to be intelligent animals that are capable of learning quickly.


Breeding    
Porcupines first breed when they are one or two years old. In the southern part of their range they mate in September, but in the more northerly latitudes, in late October to November. The male will follow the female during this period and serenade her with grunts and humming. The female is in heat, or sexually receptive, for only eight to 12 hours and frequently initiates courtship. When she is ready to mate, she indulges in a kind of dance with the chosen male, where they both rise on their hind feet to embrace, all the while whining and grunting. Sometimes they place their paws on each other’s shoulders and rub their noses together; then they may cuff each other affectionately on the head and finally push one another to the ground. Mating used to be the subject of considerable speculation and ingenious theories, but the explanation is simple. The female flattens her quills and twists her tail out of the male’s way so he can mount in the normal fashion. Mating finishes abruptly and either one of the partners then climbs a tree and screams at the other if further approaches are made.

The gestation, or pregnancy, is about 30 weeks; birth occurs sometime between March and May depending how far north the porcupine is located. The female makes almost no preparations for the birth and does not seek out a nesting den or bed. The solitary baby (twins are almost unknown) may be born in a rock pile, under a log stump, or under a brush pile.

The baby porcupine is well developed at birth: its eyes are open, and the blunt incisor teeth and molars are already exposed. About 30 cm long, it weighs approximately 0.4 kg and is covered in dense black hair. The sharp barbless quills are soft and concealed in the hair. Within hours of birth the quills harden and can be erected. After a couple of days, the baby porcupine can climb, although it tends to spend more time on the ground. After a week or so, the female leaves the baby for longer and longer periods while she feeds on the emerging green plants. Weaning, or making the transition from mother’s milk to other food, takes seven to 10 days, although in captivity it may take longer. By the fall, most young porcupines live apart from their mothers.


Conservation        
Being slow moving, the porcupine is a frequent victim in forest fires and on roadways. Injuries from climbing are not uncommon, and diseases, especially rabbit fever, take their toll. External parasites, such as ticks and lice, and internal parasites, round worms, tape worms, and thread worms, are plentiful, although they apparently have no ill effects on the porcupine.

Porcupine quills have been found embedded in several predators, including the coyote, cougar, bobcat, red fox, lynx, bear, wolf, fisher, and Great Horned Owl. Some more experienced predators learn to avoid the quills and kill the porcupine by biting its head or by flipping the porcupine onto its back to expose the unprotected belly. The fisher is the best-known porcupine hunter. It was successfully introduced into some areas of New England to reduce porcupine populations.

European colonists caused a decrease in the fishers, by trapping them and deforesting the southern part of their range. The consequent increase in the number of porcupines coupled with the fact that porcupines damage and even kill some trees led to their being branded as pests. However, a study in a red spruce area in Maine, with 20 to 28 porcupines per 2.5 km2, showed the loss of trees was only 0.5 percent. They are also considered to be pests because of their habit of gnawing buildings around camps. In areas where porcupines are a problem, they are shot, trapped, or poisoned using salt baits. However, not all that the porcupine eats is upsetting to humans. For example, mistletoe, a parasite on trees, is a favoured food. Also the porcupine’s habits of thinning out dense stands of saplings and of killing weed trees are considered to be good forestry practices