Panda Accused Of Faking Pregnancy To Get Better Food, Air Conditoning

Keepers at the Taipei Zoo were excited. Resident giant panda Yuan Yuan was exhibiting signs of pregnancy — an all-too-elusive event among captive pandas.

There were tell-tale symptoms, like a loss of appetite and a thickening of the uterus. Yuan Yuan’s fecal progesterone concentration was also on the rise.

Yet despite these promising signs, the panda’s pregnancy was a false alarm.

According to China’s Southern Metropolis Daily, ultrasound scans determined that Yuan Yuan, who was artificially inseminated earlier this year, was not pregnant. Now the panda is being accused of faking the pregnancy as a way of getting her caretakers to shower her with better food and care.

Pregnant pandas are typically treated like queens. As China Daily notes, the expectant bears are moved into “single rooms with air conditioning” and given “round-the-clock care.” They receive more buns, fruit and bamboo as well.

Panda experts have speculated that Yuan Yuan, who gave birth to a cub in 2013, may have been feigning pregnancy to reap these added benefits.

Last year, another female panda named Ai Hin was accused of trying to pull the same trick. The panda, who lives at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, exhibited pregnancy symptoms for two months before experts determined that she didn’t actually have a cub in the oven.

“After showing prenatal signs, the [panda] ‘mothers-to-be’ are [pampered],” Wu Kongju, an expert at the Chengdu Research Base, told CNN last year. “So some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life.”

Other panda experts disagree with these accusations.

Zhang Heming, director of the China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda, told the Guardian last year that pseudo-pregnancies are actually fairly common in the panda world. He attributed the pandas’ behavior to “more —> Read More

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Black Rhino return to Samburu-Land

In the shadow of Mount Kenya lie the hot lowlands of Samburu-land. This vast, beautiful region of rocky ridges, acacia grasslands and doum palm forest is the traditional homeland of the Samburu people, the rare Grevys Zebra and the Gerenuk antelope. For thousands of years, it was also home to the black rhino, until the last one was poached 25 years ago.

But as from May 2015, black rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli) have once again roamed the plains of Samburu. Thanks to a relocation programme spearheaded by the Northern Rangelands Trust, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), 10 black rhino from the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Nakuru and Nairobi National Parks have been relocated to a 21,460 acre sanctuary within Samburu’s Sera Community Conservancy, with a plan to move more rhino to the area later in the year. The rhino are now thriving in the habitat they once roamed in thousands.

The black rhino has inhabited the earth for 5 million years, yet today is a critically endangered species. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, populations of the Eastern black rhino dropped by 98% between 1960 and 1995, mainly as a result of poaching. Today, rhino horn fetches approximately $65 – $70,000 per kg, which is more than the price of gold on the black market. It is an ugly business; poaching is an international environmental crime that has links to international drug, arms, and human trafficking syndicates. Interpol has referred to it as, “one that can affect a nation’s economy, security and even its existence”.

Over the past two decades, however, inspiring conservation projects in Kenya have ensured that the country’s population of black rhino has risen from 381 in 1987 to approximately 640 today. Wildlife conservancies such as Lewa have been instrumental in —> Read More

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