A LOT OF CUDDLES: New York City’s largest cat

New York, UNITED STATES
VIJAY SHAH

New York city is famous for its big breakfasts and tiny apartments. It is also a haven for pet-lovers and one cat has certainly taken local, and now international media by storm.

His name is Samson. A Maine Coon cat (normally a hefty, but not giant-sized breed), the chubby tabby has a length of 4 feet (1.22 metres) and weighs 28 lbs (12.7 kg) compared with the average housecat’s 5-10 lbs (2.3-4.5 kg). He in fact is larger and weighs more than most toddlers and practically carpets his owner, when Samson lies on him. And the crazy thing is, Samson may not have yet finished growing.

Though he should really be named Goliath, Samson, aged four, is in fact highly friendly and playful and spends his days lounging around and batting his paw at mini-drones with owner and ‘daddy’ Jonathan Zurbel, in the district of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, where he attracts a lot of attention when he is taken outside in his distinctive green buggy. Samson has even being reimagined as a body positivity icon, and despite many people assuming that the cat is in a bad way due to his size, Zurbel’s local vet has given him a rating of good health.

 

 

SOURCES/VIDEO CREDITS:
“catstradamus” – Samson (Catstradamus) and Jonathan Zurbel, Instragram https://www.instagram.com/catstradamus/
“This Cat Is The Biggest Cat In NYC” – The Dodo, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/thedodosite/
“Meet Samson, the largest cat in New York City who’s becoming a body-positive icon” – Melissa Stanger, Revelist/CafeMedia Family/CMI MARKETING (12 August 2016) http://www.revelist.com/animals/largest-cat-new-york-city/4215/follow-samson-on-instagram/9
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UPS: Petition calls for the banning of animal trophy shipments

gb

London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH

A petition launched five months ago on the website change.org by people angry that delivery parcel service UPS are shipping the remains of wild animals by hunters as trophies is receiving renewed attention and larger ground among supporters, the Half-Eaten Mind exclusively reports. The petition, created by Briton Paul Tully from Durham, calls on UPS, one of the world’s largest shippers, to cease providing services for people to send back ‘trophies’ from animal safaris in locations such as Africa.

The trading in such animal trophies has come to the fore following the slaughtering of a protected Zimbabwean lion named Cecil earlier this year by a dentist from Minnesota, USA. The hunter, Walter Palmer, became public enemy number one, and his dental practice in Bloomington was the target of protests.

The petition, which has so far reached 2,417 of the required 10,000 signatures and has gained more than 7,500 supporters on change.org, demands that UPS and David Abney, its chief executive officer “immediately ban the shipment of hunting trophies of endangered and threatened species”.

Paul Tully has lent his support to fellow protestors from the United States who have already rallied against UPS’ policy on importing hunters’ trophies, but he claims in a statement on the petition that UPS has so far ignored pleas to end its role in this controversial trade.

Tully also urged UPS to “urgently reassess (their) current unethical and immoral stance” and their “injustice to wildlife”. He also urged the company to take a stand and to not give into alleged pressure from the hunting lobby.

Several U.S. and international airlines had already banned the carrying of animal parts from hunting expeditions on their flights, including Delta Airlines, United Airlines, the U.K’s British Airways and the UAE’s Emirates SkyCargo cargo service.

According to U.K paper The Express, UPS and fellow delivery firm FedEx has so far refused to stop shipping of trophies from big game hunts. A previous petition against UPS attracted 200,000 signatures, causing the firm to hold a public relations meeting. The company’s head of PR, Steve Gaut agreed to view protesters’ concerns but later said that the policy of freely accepting business from hunters would continue, citing that trophies made up less then 1 per cent of UPS’ business.

A spokesman for UPS told VICE that it “is strongly against the trafficking or trade of endangered species” but “accepts for shipment taxidermy items that are legally obtained and appropriately documented”.

Anti-hunting protestors and environmental groups claim that over 26,000 wild hunting trophies were shipped around the world between 2010 and 2014, ranging from eggs to pelts.

SOURCES:
Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind
“Londoners” – Wind Smoke, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/windsmoke_uk/lists/londoners
Julie Stevenson, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/JulieMcKie
“Ban the Shipment of Hunting Trophies” – Paul Tully, change.org/Change.org, Inc. https://www.change.org/p/united-parcel-service-david-abney-ban-the-shipment-of-hunting-trophies?recruiter=68965565&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=share_twitter_responsive&rp_sharecordion_checklist=control
 “Customers boycott UPS and FedEx after firms REFUSE to stop shipping big game hunt trophies” – Scott Campbell, Express – News – Nature/Northern and Shell Media Publications (28 August 2015) http://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/601325/UPS-FedEx-big-game-hunting-trophies-petition-Cecil-lion-animal-Walter-Palmer
IMAGE CREDITS:
Getty Images via Zemanta.

PHOTO MOMENT: Hold that pose!!

 

“Hold that pose!”

“That’s the trouble about being a squirrel photographer….all my subjects seem a bit nuts!”

 

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Two red squirrels frolic about in the snow, while one realises her dream of being an ace photographer. The pages of Squirrel Vogue and National Geographic await.

This photo comes from the wildlife and travel collection of Zoraida Palacios, who describes herself as a defender and protector of animals. She is also an art lover with a degree in administration. The tweet was created by Britannia PR, known fully as Britannia Communications Partnership Digital Communications Agency. This public relations agency was ranked number one in a list of 500 agencies in March 2015 on Klout, Peer Index, Kred and Social Authority. Their Twitter account often shares amazing example of scenic and natural photography, as well as images from around the British Isles. They are based in London.

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
Britannia PR, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Britanniacomms
IMAGE CREDIT:
Zoraida Palacios, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/ZoraidaPalacios

WORLD WILDLIFE: Declining species may lead to ’empty landscape’

A group of scientists have said that the rapid trend of declining wildlife populations could lead to ’empty landscapes’, the science and environment team at British public broadcaster BBC has reported today.

According to population figures published in the scientific magazine Science Advances, there has been a worrying 60 per cent drop in the number of large herbivores (plant-eating animals) such as giraffe, elephant and rhinoceros, leaving them at greater risk of extinction. The figures covered 74 herbivore species and attributed much of the decline to poaching and other forms of illegal hunting, as well as destruction of natural habitats.

Male elephant in Etosha National Park, Namibia...
Male elephant in Etosha National Park, Namibia Kiswahili: Tembo katika mbuga la burudani Etosha, Namibia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A study on large carnivores such as lions, tigers and wild dogs also reported similar declines in population.

The population research was led by Professor William Ripple of Oregon State University. His research covered large herbivores with a weight above 100 kilograms, from the reindeer up to the African elephant.

He explained in the research: “This is the first time anyone has analysed all of these species as a whole,” 

“The process of declining animals is causing an empty landscape in the forest, savannah, grasslands and desert.” he said.

Professor David Macdonald, of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, was among the team of 15 international scientists who pooled together figures for the report.

“The big carnivores, like the charismatic big cats or wolves, face horrendous problems from direct persecution, over-hunting and habitat loss, but our new study adds another nail to their coffin – the empty larder,” he said.

“It’s no use having habitat if there’s nothing left to eat in it.”

The research indicates that much of the population decline in both prey and predators is being driven by various causal factors, including habitat loss, unregulated hunting and poaching, particularly the killing of large animals for ‘bushmeat’ or body parts in Far Eastern medicine, and pressures on their habitats from livestock, involving competition for resources and the swallowing of their habitats by farmland. This problem is being escalated by a rapidly increasing human population with its greater demand for resources and land.

The various species of African rhino were one particularly sad case reported by the BBC. With ivory made from rhinoceros horn worth more than gold, cocaine, and diamonds on the black market and with increasing and illegal demand from nouveau riche buyers in Asia, it is feared that under current levels of population shrinkage, the wild rhino could cease to exist in the wild within 20 years, the researchers claim.

The consequences of large wild herbivore decline include:

*Loss of habitat: for example, elephants maintain forest clearings by trampling vegetation.

*Effects on the food chain: large predators such as lions, leopards, and hyena rely on large herbivores for food.

*Seed dispersal: large herbivores eat seeds which are carried over long distances.

*Impact on humans: an estimated one billion people rely on wild meat for subsistence while the loss of iconic herbivores will have a negative impact on tourism.

The impact of the extinction of large herbivores, and the large carnivores that feed on them, could see the collapse of food chains globally. Many African countries rely on these animals heavily for tourism purposes, leading to huge economic fallouts if they were to vanish.

The report places particular concern for large animals residing in South East Asia, India and Africa. These areas have long-established populations of big animals as well as increasing human habitation. Many governments are struggling to protect animal habitats due to increasing demands for homes and land to build on, as well as lax regulation of national parks and wildlife reserves.

Europe and North America lost many of their own large mammals after the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago. Animals such as the mammoth, woolly rhino and sabre-toothed tiger were wiped out by early hunters or changing habitats as the ice sheets retreated. More recently, the wolf, lynx and some species of deer have all but disappeared from the United Kingdom, after being hunted to extinction. There has been some success in reintroducing smaller mammals, such as the beaver, to Britain, centuries after they vanished.

http://advances.sciencemag.org/

HEM 3rd anniversary banner pizap.com14293560242241

SOURCES:
“HEM Friends & Fans” – The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-friends-fans
Anthony Casas, PhD, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/DrAnthony
“Wildlife decline may lead to ’empty landscape’ ” – Helen Briggs, BBC News – Science & Environment/BBC (2 May 2015) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-32549898
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Etosha elefant.jpg” – Ikiwaner, Wikimedia Commons (27 September 2009) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Etosha_elefant.jpg

 

WHALE STRIKES: Scientists concerned at growing number of fatal collisions

Scientists observing whales and other cetaceans off the eastern seaboard of the United States are becoming extremely concerned at the increased number of whale deaths from collisions with ships plying the Transatlantic trade routes, according to a recent report by news blog Huffington Post.

This month a cruise ship heading towards New York struck a whale of indeterminate species, killing it on impact. The ship dragged the whale’s corpse into the Hudson river, which separates New York city from New Jersey. This has been part of a higher than normal number of fatal incidents this year already, according to a briefing from a federal government agency and accessed by Associated Press reporters. As reported from the federal government’s figures, three incidents of whale strikes have occurred off the east coast of America recently. One of the incidents involved another cruise ship that struck a rare sei whale and carried its corpse coastwards. The mammal’s body was not noticed until the ship docked, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Another sei whale died in a collision with a container ship and was found tangled around the ship’s hull upon arriving at a port in the eastern state of Pennsylvania, somewhere near Philadelphia, the NOAA said.

 Scientists believe that a spike in the volume of food resources such as crustaceans and fishes close to the coastline are attracting more whales to feed on them, thus increasing the likelihood of fatal ship-whale interactions. The increased food supply has been cited by observers in neighbouring Massachusetts state for the higher than average number of humpback whale sightings reported there. Off the coast of the state’s capital Boston, large quantities of a type of fish known as sea lance have been counted. Sea lances are a popular food source for the state’s visiting whales. Local wildlife experts have commented on groups of whales turning up at the Massachusetts Bay and feeding liberally, said Laura Howes of Boston Harbor Cruises, a local cruise holiday firm.

A Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), a m...
A Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), a member of order Cetacea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maritime agencies and shipping companies in the United States are working together to warn mariners of the risk of colliding with whales, some of the largest animals to roam the seas. A blue whale can reach 100 feet (30-35 metres) in length and weigh up to 200 tonnes, according to a recently broadcast programme on UK television. Seamen and women are being reminded to follow and respect speed limits and keep their distances from known whale feeding grounds. Most ships are banned from coming within 500 yards of a right whale according to a university-based whale observation project.

 “Nobody wants to hit a whale,” said Marjorie Mooney-Seus, a NOAA spokesperson. “So we want people to have a greater awareness that they’re out there now.

 Under usual conditions, one whale dies in a collision at sea once every few weeks, usually during migration along the coastline or when relatively stationary as they hunt fish or gather krill. The NOAA counted 28 such incidents in the waters off the north-eastern U.S. between the years 2006 and 2010. The international picture for cetacean fatalities is even grimmer.  A National Marine Fisheries Service survey covering the period from 1975 to 2002 found 292 records of confirmed or possible ship strikes to large whales. Whales struck by ships can suffer massive damage to internal organs and bleed to death. Others come into contact with ship propellers and suffer severe outer damage, including severed fins, deep gashes, and even crushed skulls. A container ship can weigh up to 90,000 tonnes and travel at 15 miles per hour or more on the open sea.

 A necropsy (a type of autopsy) was performed by scientists on the whale killed off New York. Its death was listed as being caused by ‘blunt force’, which meant that its death was certainly caused by the ship, Mooney-Seus said in her interview with the Huffington Post. The other two victim’s bodies were not retrieved for necropsies. Despite the increase in whale strikes, the NOAA said that for now, there are no heightened dangers to populations of the rarer species that frequent the North American coastline, including the local subspecies of right whale, whose population is on a steady rise after decades of destructive commercial whaling.

 On the Huffington Post article, commentators have voiced disapproval of the scientists’ understanding of the increasing number of whale-ship collisions. One, commenting under the Facebook account of a group called the Deafwhale Society, accused scientists of being ignorant and complacent in their studying of whale deaths. He claimed that scientist were simply assuming that the struck East Coast whales were asleep when in fact the loud sounds of the ships would have caused confusion to the whales’ sonar detection, making them panic and flee. He claims that the whales who were killed were deaf, and thus unable to hear the ship’s movement and react. Another commentator, Lauren Duncan, however, says that scientists on the American west coast have proposed making changes to shipping lanes to avoid whale breeding grounds, but that their suggestions have so far fallen on deaf ears. One other commentator questioned whether mariners were really making efforts to avoid collisions with whales and were possibly responsible for hitting larger numbers of the animals far out at sea without noticing or reporting the collisions.

 The Right Whale Listening Project, a U.S. whale research project with the the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology states that between the years 1970 and 2007, ships were responsible for killing a third of the right whales (24 out of 67) found dead in American waters.

 

SOURCES:
HEM News Agency, The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter LINK
HuffPost Green, Twitter LINK
“Whales Keep Getting Hit By Ships Along The East Coast, Troubling Scientists” – Jim Fitzgerald & Paige Sutherland, Associated Press & Huff Post Green/HPMG News/TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc. (23 May 2014) LINK
“Ship strikes – Threats to Right Whales” – Right Whale Listening Network – Bioacoustics Research Program, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology LINK
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Humpback Whale underwater shot.jpg” – U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration & Wikimedia modifiers, Wikimedia Commons (22 March 2013) LINK

 

 

 

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PHOTO MOMENT: Baby deer

(c) @Ms0dn via @sari1415

The above picture depicts a baby deer or calf, along with a slogan in Arabic. I am not sure exactly what species this little baby belongs to, but assume it may be an Arabian oryx. It was originally created by an Arab Twitter user named @Ms0dn and was shared on the account of Sari (@sari1415) and retweeted by “Discussion”, a Kuwait-based individual who follows me on my personal account. The picture was accompanied with a sentence which roughly translated says “Look at those eyes, Awwwwwwww!

Deer and gazelle young are renowned for their soft doe-eyed expressions and for being a perfect example of the kinder and gentler side of nature. Their innocent expression and ungainly style of walking have endeared them to countless wildlife photographers and children. Most people are aware of the adventures of the little deer Bambi in the eponymous Disney cartoon. They often stay close to their mothers for many months after birth as their vulnerability makes them an easy target for opportunistic predators such as lionesses and cheetahs.

 

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SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय } on Twitter LINK
الخواطر (Discussion) on Twitter LINK
“Sari” on Twitter LINK

 

PHOTO MOMENT: White Peacock

Vijay Shah

(c) @AnimaILife

The image above comes from the Twitter account of a photography project, named Animal Life. They tweet on what they describe as “simply the most beautiful animals you’ve ever seen”. Their latest offering is of a white peacock, an extremely rare and regal bird, which lacks the ornate colouring of the usual kind of peacock.

The peacock (the females, which lack the distinctive tails, are called ‘peahens’) are endemic to India, where they are associated with royalty, pomp and glamour. Collectively, the species are actually known as ‘peafowl’ and it is the males which are famed for their alluring tail feathers, each one adorned with iridescent blue-green ‘eyes’. This is referred to by bird-lovers as a “train”.

The males are believed to use the feathers to attract females during the mating season, but recently some ornithologists has reported that peahens in fact pay little attention to the males’ shocking tail plumage. In any case, the feathers are widely admired by humans, who use them to fashion fans or as majestic additions to hats in millinery.

The white peacock is the result of an unusual genetic mutation which leads to albinism. This condition, which can affect both humans and many other animals including rabbits and snakes, results in the subject’s skin, feathers, or fur lacking any normal colour associated with its species – leaving behind a creature which is white or yellow in appearance. In mammals and some birds, including people, albinism also results in pink or reddish eyes.

The white peacock is highly sought after as a pet, but the birds form lifetime partnerships with their mates, and anyone who purchases white peacocks, or any other variant of the fowl, will have to buy them as a pair, otherwise the peafowl will become lonely and sick.

Here’s how one website describes the white (albino) peacock “…(they) have perfectly clean bodies. They do not have variegated feathers, and have pale red eyes. They dance beautifully, and resemble like a beautiful and dignified girl who is wearing a white wedding dress

The white peacock does indeed look like a graceful bride looking her best in her wedding dress, as she shows off on her special day. They seem like a bunch of dandelion clocks have fused together and taken on a life of their own, moving like wispy clouds through the green luscious foliage and manicured lawns of an erstwhile maharajah’s palace grounds. I would not be surprised if brides-to-be soon start requesting a few white peacocks for their wedding venues, as they do add an appropriate feel to that special milestone of life.

The white peacock in motion, in a video by Chaitanya Bhandare – uploaded to YouTube on the 15th September 2007. The video also featured normally-coloured birds and was filmed at Osaka Zoo in Japan.

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SOURCES/IMAGE CREDIT:
Vijay Shah { विजय } on Twitter LINK
Hindu IDF on Twitter LINK
Animal Life on Twitter LINK
“Peacock Information and Facts” – The White Peacock LINK
“WHITE PEACOCKS – DO THEY EXIST? – FACTS ANALYSIS” – Hoax or Fact (24 January 2012) LINK