It is a grey morning in Chicago and a fine mist rolls in from Lake Michigan. Twenty eight floors up Dacey Arashiba is groggily following the scent of coffee, and after pouring himself a cup he settles on his sofa for his morning ritual in front of the box. But this is one box very few people will have the opportunity to watch, for this is a flower box, hanging off of his balcony railing, and in it sits the fastest animal in the world. A peregrine falcon, brooding her four chicks.
Seen in... Maptia, BBC Wildlife, Lumo, Audubon PLUS Falcons - BBC Natural World coming soon..
In search of the world's rarest cat, the Iberian lynx. In 2001 there were less than 100 individuals left in the wild but thanks to intensive conservation measures being implemented. 2016 saw over 400 individuals living wild across southern Spain and Portugal, but they're not safe yet with a fragile rabbit population (their main food source) and a limited gene pool.
Borneo's Proboscis monkeys are at risk, they're on the brink of extinction and few people realise. Lost in the shadow of their more famous cousins, the orangutan. Habitat destruction is leaving them isolated, populations at carrying capacity & on the verge of a catastrophic collapse.
The South Luangwa National park is one of Africa's jewels, the meandering Luangwa river winds its way through forests, hills and plains. It's filled with hippo, elephants and buffalo roam the plains whilst eland and roan graze the hills. But skulking in the shadows is Africa's most secretive big cat, the African leopard.
You could easily miss the dusty little village of Khichan, situated just south of the India Pakistan border. Its appearance much like the previous hundred or so villages you pass on route from Delhi, were it not for the cacophony of noise. Noise from the over-wintering 30,000 Demoiselle cranes that make an annual pilgrimage to feed off the villagers generosity.
In 2002 there were fewer than 30 Cayman blue iguanas in existence. The creation of roads that offered the perfect basking spots and alien predators such as cats and dogs whom the iguanas did not know to avoid causing a rapid decline. Government worker Fred Burton was carrying out a mosquito survey when he came across his first blue iguana. Not knowing of there existence before this chance encounter he began to find out their history, embarked on expeditions to find the iguanas themselves and investigated tales of spots where iguanas still roamed. He launched an initial breeding programme which had early successes, only to find out that the breeding specimens weren’t true Blue iguanas. Now, with a successful breeding programme back on track the iguanas are beginning to thrive with over 750 roaming the island of Grand Cayman today. Gone are the hutias, Grand Cayman thrushes, Caribbean seals and saltwater crocs of centuries past. Only the iguanas have hung on - the last ancient species to roam the Caymans.
As seen in BBC Wildlife Magazine.
In one of the world's busiest cities, home to over 20 million people, Delhi's huge population has led to another resident arriving, the black kite. These birds look to be doing well but the reality is they're at risk due their namesake, the paper kite, as well as suffering from malnutrition due to the poor diet available to them in the city.
As seen in BBC Wildlife and Audubon.
Wild Dogs are Africa's most successful predators but also one of the most threatened. Travelling up to 75km a day they come into conflict with people, getting trapped in snares or hunted due to attacks on livestock.
These stunning canids are incredibly social, the ultimate team players making them highly proficient hunters.
30 years ago the world’s most catastrophic nuclear accident in history took place and journalists the world over began telling fantastical and phenomenal stories in honour of its anniversary. Tales of two-headed catfish and hyper aggressive wolves violently roaming the apocalyptic landscape were told - but the truth, is even more exciting.
Throughout the 2,600 square kilometre exclusion zone; pine forests, deciduous forests, grasslands, wetlands, rivers, lakes and the iconic ghostly abandoned towns that are synonymous with the name Chernobyl can be found. With such varied habitat it's no wonder wildlife, by the herd, has returned.
An ongoing project looking into the international wildlife trade. Starting in the animal markets of Indonesia.
The illegal wildlife trade is now the second largest global illegal trade, coming only after arms but higher than both people and drug trafficking.
In Singapore's Marina Bay a family of smooth coated otters has set up home. Despite being listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN and included in Appendix II of CITES, the smooth-coated otters of Singapore are currently enjoying a remarkable revival. Back in the 1940s and 50s, Singapore’s rivers were so heavily polluted there was no way fish, let alone otters, could survive in them. But after the decision was made to transform Singapore’s rivers into reservoirs, the area was restored to a healthy habitat, and after an absence of 30 years, the smooth-coated otters have returned in style. They're the perfect role models for Singapore's motto - 'A city in a garden'.
As seen in BBC Wildlife & Lumo.
The Brazilian Pantanal is one of the largest wetlands in the world. It is also home to the highest density of jaguar populations, with a supporting cast of giant anteaters, hyacinth macaws, giant river otters and many more incredible species. The Pantanal is an ecotourism hotspot with jaguars thought to generate around $6 million per year however, cattle ranching on the land in the Pantanal causes conflict through burning, overgrazing and illegal persecution of jaguars.
Known as ‘the Hyena Men of Harar,’ a tradition has unfolded where men are hand feeding hyenas. Recently the Hyena Men’s status has taken off after the practise received widespread media attention (with BBC’s Planet Earth II’s Cities episode covering it). The origins of Harar’s relationship with hyenas is shrouded in legend. Some believe it began 200-300 years ago when the people of Harar began feeding the hyenas as part of Ashura, a ceremony which takes place in the 1st month of the Islamic calendar. The people would prepare large portions of porridge made from numerous cereals and pure butter, which they would leave up on the hill for the hyenas to feed on, and depending on how much the hyenas ate of the porridge it would predict the coming years fortunes. The more the hyena clan ate the more hopeful the years prediction; no war, good rainfall, successful harvests, and Harar would be kept safe from evil spirits. Hyenas roam the streets of Harar each evening, after the traditional feeding they can be scavenging in the meat markets and alley ways.
Coming soon in Geographical.
By the end of World War 1 the European bison had been hunted to extinction by locals as food became scarce and only a small population remained in European zoos. In 1948 a breeding programme to restore this last remaining legendary megafauna was launched. 70 years on and European bison now roam across Europe, with populations in Poland and Belarus, all the way down to Ukraine and Romania. With males reaching almost 1000kg, the European bison holds the title of Europe’s largest land mammal. The herds of bison moving between the open fields and dense forest of Europe hark back to a bygone era when hunter gatherers roamed the lands. Once at risk of predation from hyenas and men with spears this ancient species is back where it belongs. The largest population roams Europe’s oldest forest. Bialowieza, a primeval forest, boasts areas that have laid untouched by humans for 8000 years. But this forest and Poland’s bison are not safe yet. The forest has been labelled as a location to log, while the bison, believed to be thriving are now being touted as trophies, on a market open to rich hunters to come and claim their prize. Head bison scientist Dr Rafal Kowalczyk of the Polish Mammal Institute tells of an unstable population, possibly on the brink of genetic collapse, not one anywhere near ready to be culled, let alone trophy hunted. ‘There are 6000 black rhino & only 5000 bison, imagine the outrage if trophy hunting of rhino was announced’.
In 2017 parts of the Bialowieza forest began to be logged for the first time in 8000 years, losing valuable habitat found nowhere else in the world. The bison, 70 years after their original extinction could begin to thrive but as they reach a tipping point their existence meets a new threat.
As seen in Geographical.
The bearded vulture is undoubtedly the most stunning of the world's vulture species but is on the brink of extinction with only between 2000-10000 birds globally. In Europe in the early 1900s they were heavily persecuted, and had all but disappeared from Europe by the 1930s. Lammergeier (their other name) means lamb killer, they were spotted carrying lamb carcasses and were thought to have killed them and also shot specimens were found with large bones in their stomach. They are one of the only bird species that can ingest bones up to 200mm long and 40mm wide. In 1978 the Bearded Vulture Reintroduction Project was set up in the Alps. “For the project to work we needed to collaborate with the zoos which had bearded vultures and it took 8-10 years for this collaboration to have a big enough breeding stock to produce offspring in a high enough number. The first releases took place in 1986 in Austria all over the alps,” says Dr Hans Frey, head of the Richard Faust Bearded Vulture breeding centre in Austria. Since 1978 the breeding facilities have produced 512 chicks, and released 288 birds over several re-introduction programmes. “This year the VCF are celebrating 20 years since the first re-introduced pair of bearded vultures successfully bred in the Alps, and over the VCF’s 47 territories we had a record-breaking 31 fledglings,” Dr Alex Llopis Dell, Program Manager of the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) tells us proudly. However, bearded vultures are still threatened through persecution, habitat destruction, lead poisoning and the introduction of the veterinary drug, Diclofenac, the drug responsible for the catastrophic decline in vultures in India. The EU has just given the go ahead for diclofenac to be used in farming. Despite the European medicines agency confirming its risk to vultures. Spain, holds 95% of Europe's vulture population.
As seen in Geographical
The story of the charismatic Golden Lion Tamarin from Brazil’s Atlantic Forest is one of the world’s most successful conservation stories. Since efforts began 30 years ago to save this endemic creature, their numbers have increased from 200 animals in the wild to 3,200 animals today. But the battle for this “charming little rock star of the rainforest” (as nicknamed by Dr Charles Munn, conservation biologist and ecotourism entrepreneur) is far from over. With the GLT’s home, the Atlantic Forest, now reduced to less than 10% of its original size and the remaining sections left hugely fragmented, conservationists are turning their attentions now to building back up the GLT’s home. “We pay the price of the results we have achieved yet our job is not done. We still fight for survival”, Dr Luis Paulo Ferraz, head of the Golden Lion Tamarin Association, tells us.
Story on Maptia.