What are the endangered animals in Eravikulam National Park?


There is a rise in the Nilgiri tahr numbers in Eravikulam National Park. The annual census held in April sighted 803 tahrs inside the park compared to 785 last year

The Nilgiri tahr is an endangered mountain goat found only in the hill ranges of the Western Ghats in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

People visiting the Eravikulam National Park (ENP) near Munnar are often amazed to see Nilgiri tahrs grazing nonchalantly in the tourism zone. Most of the park is out of bounds for visitors except for this demarcated area. Here the tahrs are almost tame, even allowing tourists to come close and click pictures!

In stark contrast, the tahrs in the core area of the park, where only park staff and researchers are allowed to go, are extremely shy, fleeing at the sight and sound of humans.

It is said that the tahr in the tourism zone became accustomed to people because of Walter Mackay, the manager of the Rajamalai tea estate in the 1950s. The estate was situated inside the present sanctuary (it was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1975 and a national park in 1978). Mackay would toot his cars horn while driving through the sanctuary, attracting herds of tahrs. They would mob his car to be rewarded with handfuls of biscuits!

Of course, visitors today are forbidden to feed and pet the tahrs.

The tahr feeds on a variety of herbs, shrubs and grass. Sure-footed and agile like others of its kind, it can negotiate sheer cliffs with amazing ease.

The Nilgiri tahr is endemic to the open grasslands in the upper reaches of the Western Ghats. It is found mainly in the Nilgiri the Anaimalai and Nelliyampathy hill ranges. A mature male tahr has a coat of deep brown and is called a saddleback for the broad swathe of lighter-coloured fur down its back. The females are smaller and lighter in colour. Both have horns that curve straight back.

In the Eravikulam National Park (ENP), the leopard is its only known predator.

The females and juveniles stay close together in a herd. sometimes numbering over a hundred. The males are usually loners and join the herd during breeding time. The females calve from January to February. The park is closed to tourists at this time

There are around 800 tahrs in the ENP and small numbers in the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve and Silent Valley National Park in Kerala. The tahr is also found in Tamil Nadu's Anaimalai hills. Around 60% of tahr habitat in the Western Ghats could be lost to climate change from the 2030s onwards. There are only around 3,120 tahrs left in the wild.

Back from the brink                                                                                            

In the early 1950s, poachers hunted the tahrs (their meat was a much sought-after delicacy) to the point of extinction. The tea company that then owned the area stepped in and declared it a sanctuary. A check post was set up at the site of the present Forest Department outpost, and all vehicles passing through the area were searched for firearms, snares and tahr carcasses. This went a long way in stamping out poaching.

Munnars High Range Wildlife and Environment Preservation Association is an NGO set up in 1928 by conservation-minded British tea planters.

Even today, tea and coffee planters in south India are actively involved in conservation and the Nilgiri tahr is a symbol of their success.

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Why are stonefish so poisonous?

Stonefish is perhaps one of the world's best camouflaged fish. But it is also the most venomous. Found in shallow waters of the tropical Indo-Pacific, stonefish stay in the muddy or rocky bottoms of marine environments, living among rocks or coral. It may look like a stone on the ocean floor and deceptively stays blended with the ocean floor while hunting. The skin covered by wart-like lumps helps it in camouflage. It has venomous spines and when stepped on accidentally or there is a contact, it can sting. The sting is painful and can be fatal. Did you know that the fish is a delicacy in certain parts of Asia after its venomous spines are removed.

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Can the eggs we consume be used to produce chicks?

No, The eggs we buy from the market cannot produce chicks. But why?

The eggs that we buy from the market cannot be hatched to produce chicks. This is because these eggs are not fertilized.

A hen begins to lay eggs when she is about 18 to 20 weeks old. She does not necessarily need to mate with a rooster to produce eggs.

These eggs are produced in response to daylight patterns. Usually a healthy hen lays one egg every 26 to 28 hours for a period of 4 to 6 days. Then she rests for a couple of days before resuming her job! The rate of egg-laying slows down naturally as the days become shorter in winter. Therefore commercial poultries provide artificial lighting to ensure optimal production of eggs. Only the fertilized eggs that are produced after mating can be hatched after about 21 days.

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What’s intraspecific competition?


Competition occurs everywhere, be it among peers or siblings. Even in the wild. Competition in the ecology is considered a negative interaction and happens when resources are limited. An ecological interaction in which competition occurs between members of the same species, as they compete for limited resources (for survival and reproduction), is called intraspecific competition.

This occurs when the niches overlap, that is, when the members use the same resources and the resources become limited. In the case of animals, the resources induce  food. water, territory and mates. For plants, the resources they compete for include light, water, root space and minerals.

Competition can be categorised into two-intraspecific and interspecific. The former occurs between individuals of different species. The latter, as explained, occurs between individuals of the same species. And as such, this competition is more intense as they are competing for the same niche! Here the animals are using the same resource which is in limited supply. And the better the competitor, the better are the chances of survival.

This form of competition can further be classified into scramble and contest. Scramble competition is when individuals depend on declining available resources even as the number of competitors increases. This is an indirect form of competition. The contest or interference competition is rather a direct form of competition and here the competitors defend the resources from others.

What happens to a species when there is intraspecific completion?

Intraspecific completion directly impacts the species and suppresses its growth. For instance, the young ones of certain species can take longer to mature in crowded conditions. When there is a high population density, the number of young ones the members of the species can produce decreases. Further, it is often seen that when there is a high population density, many juvenile animals will move away from the regions in which they were born.

This is because they could find territories with more resources and less competition. This dispersal phase can also be detrimental as there is no surety that they will find sufficient resources. They also risk predation as they traverse unfamiliar territories.

It also affects the population size. This is because when there is a high population density, growth is affected, fecundity (the biologic capacity to reproduce) is suppressed and survival is impacted. As such the population starts declining. Once the population has lowered, fecundity starts getting better and survival chances increase. The population then starts growing.

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How cow dung is very beneficial?

Cow dung has several uses - as fuel, mosquito repellent, thermal insulator, and even as a component in mud brick housing. But, its most common and popular use is perhaps as manure. As a natural agricultural fertilizer, such manure eliminates the use of harmful chemicals, keeping the soil healthy. You may also have heard of vermicomposting where the likes of earthworms consume organic waste and excrete what we can use as manure. But these aren't the only creatures whose poop have their uses. Come, let's find out more about this.

Whale poop

Whales are at the top of the food pyramid, meaning these large creatures play a huge role in keeping their marine ecosystem going. In fact, so huge that even their poop is important. Whales feed on deep sea creatures and move to the surface to breathe and And this poop is loaded with nutrients such as phosphorus. What whales do is essentially bring nutrients from the deep sea to the ocean surface. Phytoplankton and algae consume whale poop, and these organisms become food to zooplankton such as krill. Zooplankton, in turn, are food for the likes of fish and birds. And, through the latter, nutrients are carried from water to land.


The poop of birds (particularly seabirds) and bats is called guano. Just like whale poop, guano too is rich in nutrients - such as nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium. Around the mid-19th Century, it was discovered that "nitrogen added to soil would drastically improve crop yields - particularly in the form of guano". Gradually over the years, its popularity spread the world over. This organic fertilizer can be used for raising vegetables, nut- and fruit-bearing trees, and even for ornamental plants and lawns.


Frass is the poop of insect larvae. Frass deposits on soil are said to have a great impact on soil fertility due to their high nutrient and labile carbon (which breaks down easily and is nutritious) content. Frass also contains "small concentrations of micronutrients", which may further be beneficial for crops. Since the world is contemplating ways to increase protein-rich insect consumption among humans, reports suggest that interest in increasing insect population is high. Which could also mean increase in frass availability.

Did you know?

Since there are "huge declines in whale, seabird and fish populations", the movement of nutrients from water and land "has slowed". Researchers "reckon that only a quarter as much phosphorus makes it to surface waters today compared with the past. And the flow of phosphorus to land has nearly stopped- at just 4 percent of historic levels". But this scenario is still reversible if we focus on restoring species, learn to share the planet with them- rather than locking them up in zoos or even confining them to protected areas and let them roam the world.

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What is 'domestication syndrome’?

Thousands of years ago all species of animals lived in the wild and roamed our planet freely. However, centuries ago, humans domesticated some species for their own benefit. This list is fairly endless from dogs, donkeys, camels, and horses to cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats. In the 19th Century, naturalist Charles Darwin was among the earliest to detect something interesting about these animals "different species often developed similar changes when compared to their ancient wild ancestors”. How could that be? Come, let's find out.

The set of shared changes seen in domesticated animals is referred to as "domestication syndrome". And, for long, one of the main reasons for this was attributed to the tamer behaviour of domesticated animals. It is understandable that our ancestors would have selected calmer animals of the lot for domestication, and so, this trait continued in the subsequent generations too, irrespective of the species. Some of the noticeable changes are "shorter faces, smaller teeth, more fragile skeletons, smaller brains, and different colours in skin, fur, and feathers". (Remember, not all species display all the changes. A few species may share several of these changes while some may share just a few. But all of them seem to display at least a few changes.)

One of the theories associated with tamer behaviour is that it "somehow triggered all of the other traits too". Another theory states that "selection for tameness causes the other features because they're all linked by genes controlling neural crest cells. These cells, found in embryos, form many animal features-so changing them could cause several differences at once". However, a new hypothesis by researchers suggests that these theories are over-simplified and do not offer the complete picture. They say the "removal of pre-existing selection" is as important as tameness. For instance, domesticated animals may not face the threat of predators, and "so wild traits for avoiding them might be lost. Similarly, competition for mating partners too comes down, bringing down "wild reproductive features and behaviours". Since domesticated animals are provided food, this could change not just their "metabolism and growth" but even their features over a period of time.

The researchers argue that several selective changes are at play when it comes to the characteristics of domesticated animals, not just "selection for tameness".

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Glass frogs have a secret!

Glass frogs live on trees, are active at night, and many of them are difficult to spot because of their green skin that merges well with their environment. "But these amphibians become true masters of camouflage during the day when they're asleep." How? Come, let's find out.

When glass frogs rest or sleep, their muscles and skin turn transparent. So, whats visible are their eyes, bones, and internal organs. It is hard to spot them because they sleep on the bottoms of huge leaves and also blend well with the environment due to their transparency. But, how do they turn transparent, and what about the visibility of blood? Red blood cells absorb green light (the colour of light usually reflected by plants and other vegetation), and reflect red light. This makes blood highly visible, especially against a bright green leaf. In the case of glass frogs, though, something extraordinary happens.

A research team recently "observed that red blood cells seemed to be disappearing from the circulating blood" when the frogs rest. They conducted additional imaging tests on the animals, proving via optical models that the animals were able to achieve transparency because they were pushing red blood cells out of their vessels. It was suspected that the cells were being stored in one of the frog's inner organs. which are packaged in a reflective membrane.

To find out where exactly the blood was going, scientists used a non-invasive imaging technology called photoacoustic microscopy (PAM). And the result was startling. The primary result is that whenever glass frogs want to be transparent, which is typically when they're at rest and vulnerable to predation. they filter nearly all the red blood cells out of their blood and hide them in a mirror-coated liver - somehow avoiding creating a huge blood clot in the process." When the frogs "are awake, stressed or under anaesthesia their circulatory system is full of red blood cells and they are opaque". This unique capacity would explain why there are hardly any other land-based vertebrates that can achieve such transparency.

Also, in "most animals, pooling blood together leads to clotting which can be life-threatening, for example = leading to heart attacks in humans". So, studying these amphibians can even help us understand blood clotting better.

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Why do epaulette sharks walk on land?

Researchers at a Florida university say a species of shark with the ability to walk on land is evolving to survive warming seas and the climate crisis.

The epaulette shark, found on shallow reefs of Australia and New Guinea, can walk for upto 90 feet on dry land using its paddle-shaped fins, and survive hypoxia (deficiency of oxygen) for up to two hours. The 3 foot long sharks are able to slow and fast walk, as well as swim, giving them an exceptional ability to cross land to reach more favourable environments.

Tide pools and coral reef environments are subjected to warm temperatures when the tide is out. These sharks can move from tide pool to tide pool, allowing them to access new pools to forage for food or tide pools with better oxygenated water.

What sets epaulette sharks apart from other shark species with these abilities, is their tolerance of hypoxia for a prolonged period, and ability to not only survive being on land but walk distances up to 30 times its body length. This gives them better agility to evade predators, reach areas with more plentiful food and less competition for it.

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What are the fastest animals in the wild?

In the world of animals, speed defines everything. You need to run faster than your predator to survive. Here we take a look at some of the fastest animals in the wild.


It is estimated that the black marlin can go to a top speed of up to 80 miles per hour. It is also one of the top predators of the seas and uses its speed for hunting and evasion. They are seen to inhabit the shallow waters, close to shores, and are seen in the Indian, and Pacific Oceans.


This cat can sprint faster than 70 miles per hour. A cheetah can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than three seconds! However, this mammal can maintain this speed only for short distances. Cheetahs live in the wild in scattered parts of central, eastern, and southern Africa. A small number of wild cheetahs live in Iran. India was once home to a thriving cheetah population which went extinct duelto hunting and habitat loss, Recently efforts were taken to reintroduce the cheetah to India with eight cheetahs being brought in from Namibia in southern Africa. The ambitious cheetah reintroduction project is being carried out in the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh.


 The cheetah may be the fastest sprinter but the pronghom is the fastest "long-distance runner as it can maintain a speed of nearly 35 miles per hour over long distances. Also called American antelope, the pronghom is distinct in being the only animal that has branching horns that it sheds annually. It lives in open plains and semi-deserts. It has remarkable vision and can identify predators at distances of up to 0.6 miles.


The fastest flying animal A bird of prey, the fastest bird is the Peregrine falcon. It is seen on every continent except Antarctica. It is known for its diving speed during flight. It can attempt a mid-air dive at speeds of even 200 miles an hour. This is also how they hunt, by flying high and diving at their prey.


Large and agile, these flies can attain a speed of 90 miles per hour. It is considered the fastest insect in the animal kingdom. They can be as tiny as a housefly or as large as a bumble bee. Considered pests to both humans and animals, they are usually found around streams, marshes, and wooded areas. They are carriers of various diseases.

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Why are anteaters going extinct?

As their name suggests, giant anteaters are large. Like so many large mammals the world over, these creatures too are facing rising extinction risk, especially in Brazil. What are the reasons for this? Come, let's find out.

Giant anteaters are native to Central and South America. In 2020, the Pantanal region of South America witnessed fires that destroyed about a third of the area. It proved to be injurious or fatal for wildlife such as jaguars inhabiting the region. According to a report, the fires killed "an estimated 17 million animals". The numbers are not available for those injured or displaced. But among those that suffered are giant anteaters. Apparently, "more than 50 giant anteaters injured or displaced by the Pantanal fires were taken in by state rescue projects - a leap from 13 the previous year". In 2021, Pantanal witnessed fires again, though on a scale smaller than the previous year. However, reports suggest that a few areas from 2020 suffered in 2021 too - this could spell disaster for the species there since they'd be denied time for recovery. Several animals are also indirectly affected by such fires. For instance, young animals could be orphaned and ones trying to escape such fires could get involved in accidents or end up in the hands of poachers. As for giant anteaters, some tried to escape the fire in 2021 and got hit by cars; they were rescued.

But, fires are not the only reason for falling giant anteater populations. A report says "Brazil's anteater populations have fallen 30% over 26 years". As solitary creatures, they require a large range for habitation. But this is becoming more and more difficult due to land seizures, expansion of farming, ranching, and mining "in the Amazon and the Brazilian savanna". Further, the animal also has "a low population growth rate due to its life history of long gestation periods and single offspring".

The giant anteater plays a significant role as both predator and prey. While it is consumed by jaguars and pumas, the mammal consumes large quantities of insects, especially ants and termites. Given this interconnectedness, the extinction of this insectivore can have unimaginable impacts on its ecological range.

Fires are not the only reason for falling giant anteater populations. As solitary creatures, they require a large range for habitation. But this is becoming more and more difficult due to land seizures, expansion of farming, ranching, and mining "in the Amazon and the Brazilian savanna". Further, the animal also has "a low population growth rate due to its life history of long gestation periods and single offspring".

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What does the brightly colored skin of some frogs signal to their predators?

Have you ever wondered about the vibrant colours of some frogs? Did you know that their colouring is a warning to predators that they are foul-tasting and poisonous? Read on to know more fascinating facts about these amphibians.

It is small enough to fit into the palm of one's hand, but it packs a powerful punch. A single golden poison dart frog, measuring just 6 on long, contains sufficient poison to kill 10 grown humans! The frog species derives its name from the centuries-old practice of the Emberá and Chocó, indigenous peoples of Colombia and Panama, who tipped their blowgun darts with its poison while hunting.

The poison is called a batrachotoxin (some beetles and birds also have it). The word batrachos is Greek for frog'. Even minute amounts lead to paralysis and death.

Poisonous species

There are only four species of frogs that are so poisonous that even a tiny drop is enough to kill small mammals (monkeys, for example) and birds. Most of them produce poison only potent enough to kill insects-flies, crickets, ants, termites. and beetles which are their main prey.

The frogs average around 2.5 cm in length. They are found in the wild only in the tropical rainforests of South and Central America.

The frogs sport gaudy colours and patterns, usually in combination with black-orange, red, blue, yellow, purple, pink, green, and even silver! Their colouring is a warning to predators that they are foul-tasting and poisonous. Once a predator has tried eating one and survived, it avoids similar-looking frogs.

The fire-bellied snake of the Amazon forests is resistant to golden poison frog toxin and is its only predator.

The little frogs usually live in the leaf litter on the forest floor, near streams and ponds, but a few species also live high up in the canopy and may never come down. Unlike most frog species that are nocturnal, poison frogs are active during the day when their colours can be best seen.

Caring for the young

Females lay from one to 30 eggs at a time in a dark, moist place such as the base of a big leaf, the hollow of a tree trunk or crook of a branch. Both parents are involved in the care of the eggs. When the eggs hatch, the parents carry the tadpoles on their backs and deposit them in water. Blue poison frog tadpoles eat their own siblings, so the parents must find a different water body for each individual hatchling!

The female feeds the tadpoles with unfertilized eggs that contain small amounts of poison, so that even the tadpoles are protected from predation.

Researchers are studying poison frogs to see if their toxins can be used in medicines, mainly painkillers. The poison from the phantasmal poison frog has been found to be 200 times more effective than morphine and without its side-effects!

Fact File

  • Wild poison frogs ingest the poison from the different bugs they eat and store it in their skin. Frogs bred in captivity lose their toxicity.
  • In the past decade, hundreds of frogs have died of a fungus that grows on their skin, preventing them from absorbing oxygen and water.
  • The population of the more brilliantly coloured poison frogs has plummeted because they are popular as pets.

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What has caused the decline in grey whale numbers?

Often, conservation stories underline the importance of the role of all creatures-big and small-for balance in ecosystem. For instance, krill crustaceans barely two inches long are a huge link in the global food chain. If such a small organism can have a telling impact on the food chain, one can only imagine the kind of effect larger animals have in an ecosystem. So, when the population of a large animal plunges, it is always a cause for concern.

Grey whales are among the largest animals on Earth- nearly 50 feet long and weighing over 40 tonnes. These giants are known for their long annual migration of more than 15,000 km "between feeding grounds in the Arctic and breeding grounds in Baja Mexico" Recent research has revealed that the number of these fascinating creatures is witnessing a worrying slump- by nearly 40% in just six years. From 27,000 whales in 2016, the number stands at a concerning 16,650 today. Several factors are attributed to this decrease. One of them is the increase in strandings in 2019, when about 600 of these creatures washed up dead along the west coast of North America Though boat collisions and killer whale attacks caused a few of these deaths most of the dead whales were malnourished which takes us to n crucial of interconnectedness in an ecosystem. It is believed that the malnourishment could be the result of "the whales’ food sources of tiny crustaceans and other invertebrates they prey on in the Arctic shifting due to environmental changes. Further, the overall population among West Coast grey whales "coincides with diminished reproduction" While there were 383 baby whales during the calf production season last year, there have been a mere 217 newborns this year - "the lowest number since such counts began in 1994"

Grey whales were close to extinction several decades ago due to commercial whaling before their population improved due to timely conservation efforts. Even then, the 80s and 90s saw a plunge of about 40%, and eventually they rebounded. It is important for this whale population to recover too because they keep the population of certain other creatures in the food chain in check. Even in death-as carcasses- these large marine mammals help feed several other organisms.

Often, grey whales are washed up dead along the U.S. west coasts. Though boat collisions and killer whale attacks cause some deaths, researchers say malnourishment is a major reason. With tiny crustaceans and other invertebrates shifting due to environmental changes, the grey whales are left without food.

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What animals are the masters of camouflage?


Scorpionfish, one of the most venomous fish in the world, are found across the world in warm waters. They are most common in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They are also known as rockfish and stonefish as they commonly live among rocks. They are perch-like fish with large, spiny heads and strong, sometimes venomous. fin spines. While their spines protect them from predators, it is their colouring that helps them in hiding. They are carnivorous and generally sedentary. The fin spines, even ones without venom, can inflict deep, painful wounds. While some are dull in colour, others are brighter, often some shade of red. The largest members of the family grow about 39 inches long.


Suddenly seeing a twig crawling down a tree trunk? It isn't a twig but a walkingstick, also called stick insect. The stick-like trickster uses its appearance to save itself from enemies. They are commonly found in tropical and temperate (or mild) forests across the world. Though related to grasshoppers, crickets, and mantises, these crawlies are either brown, green, or black. They're also the world's longest insects. The largest one found was 22 inches long with its legs extended. They spend most of their time on trees, munching on leaves. When predators like birds approach, the bug tries to remain still to blend with the branches. However, if the predator manages to catch the bug by its legs, the insect can detach the leg and scuttle away. The leg will later regenerate, or grow back.


Also known as cryptic colouration, is a defence mechanism used by organisms to disguise their appearence, usually to blend/ in with their surroundings. This tactic is used to mask their location, identity and even movement. This helps the prey to protect themselves from predators.


Chameleons have the ability to change their colour and pattern. They are found in warm climates and in parts of the Middle East, southwestern Asia, and southern Europe, Madagascar nearly all of Africa, and parts of India and Sri Lanka. There are more than 200 species of chameleons, of which 76 are found on the island of Madagascar. Their diet consists of insects and plants, though some may eat rodents or small birds. They live in a range of habitats, including deserts, rainforests, and savannahs. The word chameleon comes from the Greek 'khamai' meaning on the ground, earth and leon' meaning 'lion'. probably because the head of some species resembles a lion's mane. The distinctive features of these lizards are their telescopic eyes, grasping tail, colour-changing skin, and projectile tongue.

Great Potoo

The Great Potoo is a nocturnal bird of the American tropics. Its name is similar to its wailing cry, "po-TOO," made by some species. Their patterns of grey, black, and brown plumage resemble tree bark. Their camouflage helps them to even sleep while perched out in the open during daylight During the day, the birds sleep, vertically perched and virtually indistinguishable from the dead branches they roost on They wake up at dusk with their huge, wide-open eyes capable of spotting moths and other flying insects in the dark. They are mainly solitary creatures and highly restricted nesters. Instead of building a nest, they choose a branch or stub with a crevice just enough to accommodate the single egg they lay.


Nightjar is a medium-sized bird that are mostly active at night feeding on flying insects. They have a protective colouring of grey, brown, or reddish brown. There are about 60 to 70 species of nightjars. They are found almost worldwide in temperate to tropical regions, except for New Zealand and some islands of Oceania. They do not make nests, instead deposit their eggs on the ground or on the leaf-covered floor of the woodland. Some of the species, mainly the North American nighthawks, have adapted to urban life and nest on flat gravel-covered rooftops. The nightjar’s soft plumage and variegated colouring help it blend in with its surroundings. Despite their skill at camouflage, some nightjar species are endangered.

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What are some of the animals that go into hibernation?

Every year, certain animals stay in a comatose state, sending themselves into a sleepy stupor. They hibernate to conserve energy. They cool their bodies by 5° to 10°C and slow down their metabolism. For instance, the Arctic ground squirrels cool themselves to subfreezing temperatures! They do wake up and warm up intermittently. Some animals even hibernate as a response to the shortage of food. Here we take a look at some of the animals that go into hibernation.


In the case of snakes, they experience brumation, where they remain dormant. is technically different from hibernation, but they prepare for the winter by going into a state of partial sleep. This helps them conserve energy for breeding. The length of the dormancy varies according to the location of the snakes. While some may go into brumation for weeks, others might for months. There are also occasions when they venture out of their resting spot for hydration. While some snakes brumate alone, some such as the garter snakes brumate together, more like a communal brumation.


Think hibernation and the first animal that comes to your mind is the bear. Of course, when the winter sets in, they go into hibernation and survive the winter thus. But with climate change and changes in the temperature, bears have been seen to come out of their hibernation a bit earlier than usual. According to wildlife experts, this early emergence from hibernation isn't good for the animal.


 You wouldn't have heard about birds going into hibernation. Yet there is one bird that does the unthinkable. The Common poorwill is the only bind that hibernates, the sole reason being that the bird's insect food isn't available during the winter season! So instead of migrating, like other birds do, they pull through the winter by huddling inside a hollow log, lowering their metabolism and hibernating.


With the onset of fall, marmots use dirt and plants to cover their tunnel entrances. They are preparing for the annual ritual of hibernation to hide from predators. For about 8 months of a year, the marmots go into hibernation. During this inactive state, they burn the fat that they stored and slow down their vitals. They even reduce their heart rate. And once spring sets in, they emerge from the hibernation.


Did you know that snails also hibernate? Well, some snails hibernate during the colder months. They cover their bodies in a layer of mucus. They crawl into their shell and seal the entrance with mucus. This thin mucus layer prevents them from drying out. The same  activity is carried out by some snails during the summer and this is called aestivation, a prolonged period of inactivity to survive the dry periods.


While not all bees go into hibernation, bumblebees do. In fact, they hibernate for a longer period of their lives. Some queen bees even hibernate for nine months. That is like three-fourths of their entire life span!

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Do penguins face threat of extinction?

As much as 98% of colonies of this penguin species is at risk of extinction by 2100. So, the U.S. has listed the bird as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. There's still hope to save them.

Where do emperor penguins live?

Different species of penguins are found in different parts of the Southern Hemisphere. The emperor penguins are found only in Antarctica, where they live and breed. Emperor penguins thrive on Antarctica's coastlines in icy conditions any human would find extreme. The penguins breed on fast ice, which is sea ice attached to land But they hunt for food within the pack ice-sea ice floes that move with the wind or ocean currents and may merge. Sea ice is also important for resting, during their annual moult, and to escape from predators.  

The U.S. lists them as "threatened".

If current global warming trends and government policies continue, Antarctica's sea ice will decline at a rate that would dramatically reduce emperor penguin numbers to the point that 98% of all their colonies would become quasi-extinct by 2100, with little chance of recovering, a new study has shown. That's why the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalised a rule listing the emperor penguin as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act, effective November 25, 2022. The director of the service said the listing "reflects the growing extinction crisis". The U.S. Endangered Species Act has been used before to protect other species that are primarily at risk from climate change, including the polar bear, ringed seal, and several species of coral, which are all listed as threatened.

But, these penguins don't even live in the U.S.!

Sure, these penguins don't live on US. territory, so some of the Endangered Species Act's measures meant to protect species habitats and prevent hunting them don't directly apply. Being listed under the Endangered Species Act could still bring benefits, though. It could provide a way to reduce harm from U.S. fishing fleets that might operate in the region. And, with expected actions from the current administration, the listing could eventually pressure U.S. agencies to take actions to limit greenhouse gas emissions. However, the Bureau of Land Management has never acknowledged that emissions from oil and gas extraction on public lands and waters could harm climate-imperiled species. It issued more than 3.500 oil and gas drilling permits in New Mexico and Wyoming on public land during the first 16 months of the Joe Biden administration.

What's harming the birds?

The greatest threat emperor penguins face is climate change. It will disrupt the sea ice cover they rely on unless governments adopt policies that reduce the greenhouse gases driving global warming. If there's too much sea ice, trips to bring food from the ocean become long and arduous, and their chicks may starve. With too little sea ice, the chicks are at risk of drowning. Climate change is now putting that delicate balance and potentially the entire species at risk. Emperor penguins are adapted to their current environment, but the species has not evolved to survive the rapid effects of climate change that threaten to reshape its world. Major environmental shifts, such as the late formation and early loss of sea ice on which colonies are located, are already raising the risk.

How can we save them?

Decades of data since the 1960s are now helping scientists gauge the effects of anthropogenic climate change on the penguins, their sea ice habitat and their food sources. Meeting the Paris Agreement goal could still save the penguins. The results of the new study showed that if the world meets the Paris climate agreement targets, keeping warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 F) compared with pre-industrial temperatures, it could protect sufficient habitat to halt the emperor penguins decline. But the world isn't on track to meet the Paris Agreement goals. The future of emperor penguins, and much of life on Earth, including humanity, ultimately depends upon the decisions made today.

Picture Credit : Google