Archive for May 2013

Elephants, bats & bison

May 30, 2013

Some stories of potential interest:

Elephants face an uncertain — but low stress – future.

Blog on Texas Hill Country bat caves — the largest mammal concentrations on earth?

Bison research with a Carly Rae Jepsen soundtrack – student-scientists on the prairie

Disabled killer whale with missing fins survives with the help of family who hunt for its food

May 30, 2013

A disabled killer whale that is missing two fins is able to survive in the wild with the help of its family, who hunt food its food

Read more:


African Wolf discovered in Morocco

May 30, 2013

Video of two African wolves (Canis lupus lupaster) filmed for the first time in the Rif Mountains (northern Morocco)


Random Question about Primate Species Richness in Latin America

May 28, 2013

SO, once upon a time, before there was SO much information on Wikipedia (such as pages that list all the mammal species of most countries), before was so comprehensive, and before Borders went bankrupt, I used to obtain information about potentinally observable species on my Latin American escapades via (It’s down sometimes, so if you try to go there and you get an error message it’s not because the world ended or because you typed the wrong address).

Well, if you have time to explore this website, I think it’s actually pretty interesting for mammals, birds and amphibians! I don’t know who took the time to draw these maps for so many species, or exactly how accurate they are, but it looks like someone definiteliy put in the time and effort into the research.

I’ll cut through some explanation, but a long time ago I was looking at a species richness map for primates, just out of curiousity, and the following map resulted:

Taken from InfoNatura on

Taken from InfoNatura on

So I was wondering: I have never heard of a place where 21-24 species of primates co-exist.. Is there really such a place?
I recall Kibale Forest in Uganda claiming the highest number of primate species in one place  (13, including chimpanzees and I think gorillas) but I can’t find that claim anywhere anymore, and I also recall Manu Wildlife Center in Peru claiming 13 species, but now that I’m looking again they only have 12 listed (they removed the “brown” or “tufted” capuchin from their list… why? I saw it inside the park, not too far from there.) Anyway, I was just wondering if this is accurate and if there are really 24, 21, or even 17-20 species coexisting in one place somewhere over there in the Amazon.

I realize this is a random topic and I’m not expecting a ton of replies (if any) but I figured I’d throw it on here because I remember pondering about this 5-7 years ago. For comparison, their “species richness” maps for some other classes were pretty accurate, like the obvious one for Perissodactyla (only present in the form of 3 tapir species throughout the Neotropics).

Ok, I hope I bored you enough for one day.

Some Notes on Mountain Lions in Western USA (and elsewhere…)

May 25, 2013

The recent comments to the post about Big Bend show continued interest in mountain lions. I keep informal track of sightings as mentioned in newspapers, as well as keeping loose tally of how and when friends come across them. Basic pattern is that there is no pattern, other than roadkill and “civilian” sightings indicate the populations are increasing.

It does seem that almost everybody who spends a lot of time out of doors in the American West will see one sooner or later. Average seems to be one every ten years or so? It’s never expected and sometimes it’s just a flash across the road through the headlights. Nor does there seem to be a particularly good habitat; anywhere they live, the possibility is there. The birding spot in SE’n AZ called “Patagonia” had a mountain lion sighted a few times last winter; this spring there was one being seen in a residential suburb of L.A. called La Crescenta; one was trapped and relocated this spring in the desert L.A. suburb called the Antelope Valley. I don’t think going to Big Bend is a particularly good solution, but then, it’s not a bad one, either. It’s just not going to be guaranteed. Many years ago I saw Mexican grey wolf in Big Bend —- it just ran in front of the car when I was on my way to a trailhead. A friend who lives in Boulder has seen several mountain lions, but then he’s hiking or running or climbing several days a week. I saw one in the Everglades once, and yet rangers who have worked there 20 years have yet to see one. Time and luck it seems, time and luck.

A group in the UK offers mammal tours and they have a good mountain lion track record, or as good as this species allows. I was on a Brazil trip with them and we had two in the Pantanal (seen distantly by spotlight); they also run Patagonia trips that some years have a stake-out puma at Torres del Paine park in Chile. This group is called Wild Wings and they have ace leaders and reliable ground agents; other than the cost and fixed dates of departure, I recommend them highly. If you’re on a tight budget then don’t torment yourself by going to the website, since these trips are NOT cheap.

Another UK birding group worth knowing is Birdquest. They are hard hard core birders, but their trip reports include very reliable mammal lists.

Perhaps we can work out some kind of exchange? I will trade some of my “extra” mountain lions for a spotted skunk (eastern OR western species).

Charles Hood, Palmdale, CA /

New Trip Report – Big Bend NP, Texas

May 24, 2013

I was in Big Bend for a couple of nights of bat catching and saw more than 18 mammals (11 of them bats) and 7 lifers including the brilliant Ghost-faced Bat, Western Yellow Bat and Davis Mountain Cottontail.

I’m off to Hungary tonight for a weekend chasing Hamsters and various small mammals


New Trip Reports – Nepal and Bhutan

May 23, 2013

Two great new reports from Jeff Blincow are up on

Nepal, 2013: Jeff Blincow, 9 days & 22 species including Sloth Bears, Smooth Coated Otters and some great pictures.


Bhutan, 2013: Jeff Blincow, 17 days & 14 species including Himalayan Goral, Hodgson’s and Particolored Flying Squirrels and a Yellow-throated Marten