Internet Naturalist – March 23, 2014

  • To Save Endangered Tortoises, Conservationists Deface Their Shells : NPR 022714
    They’re a quiet bunch, the hundreds of animals residing at the well-guarded botanical oasis in California’s Ojai Valley. They’ve been brought to the Turtle Conservancy from countries around the world, like modern-day refugees escaping certain and persistent perils. | For years, the conservancy has worked on the front lines of the battle against smugglers, including on behalf of the ploughshare tortoise from Madagascar. The species is among the rarest tortoises on Earth; experts believe that only a few hundred still exist. Their rarity, along with a golden shell, has laid a high price on their head. | "Turtles and tortoises are arguably the most threatened group of animals on the planet," says Eric Goode, founder of the . "Out of the 330 species of turtles and tortoises, over half of them are threatened with extinction."
  • Turtle Conservancy
    The Turtle Conservancy continues to flourish and is constantly expanding both its in situ and ex situ efforts to save the world’s remaining populations of turtles and tortoises employing a creative combination of both time-tested and unique conservation strategies. The TC has active in situ projects in China, Madagascar, Guyana, India, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, South Africa, and the United States.
  • This Freeloading Bird Brings Help — And The Help Smells Gross : NPR 032014
    The great spotted cuckoo is a parasitic bird that plops its eggs in nests of other birds, so others can care for its chicks. Those chicks might aid the caretaker bird by helping to repel predators. [Cuckoo nestlings excrete a foul-smelling fluid that smells] "So bad that it might protect the nest by repelling predators. [Daniela Canestrari at the University of Oviedo in Spain] tested this idea by putting the noxious substance into chicken meat and then trying to feed it to feral cats. In the journal Science, they report that the cats wouldn’t touch the stuff. The chemical analysis showed that it contains all kinds of caustic compounds."
  • Giant Lizards Rise In Fla. — And They've Got Quite An Appetite : NPR 031814
    It’s fight against invasive species every day in Florida. Burmese pythons and Cuban tree frogs are some of the animals that moved in uninvited. There’s also this giant lizard, the Argentine black and white tegu. Tegus are coming out of hibernation right now and they’re hungry. They eat eggs of native animals that conservationists want to protect. | The tegus are native to South America, but now have breeding populations in three Florida counties. They’re kept as pets but some escape or might be set loose when they get too big.
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