Archive for October 2014

Owyhee Backcountry Byway

October 31, 2014

After making a special trip to see pygmy rabbits earlier this year, this fall I finally saw one in Idaho, excellent views of one off the Owyhee Backcountry Byway.

This road is excellent for mammal watching so I thought I’d share some details. The road runs for 104 miles between the town of Grandview, Idaho and Jordan Valley, Oregon. Much of it is sagebrush, juniper and high desert. My mammal list for the road includes badger, bobcat, long-tailed weasel, coyote, mule deer, pronghorn, white-tailed jackrabbit (higher elevations), black-tailed jackrabbit (lower elevations), mountain cottontail, pygmy rabbit, Belding’s ground squirrel (abundant in spring), least chipmunk and Ord’s kangaroo rat.

A few of the birds you could expect include greater sage grouse, golden eagle, prairie falcon and mountain bluebird. In the few streams/rivers, there are Columbia spotted frogs and desert redband trout.

This is a rugged, remote area. The Owyhee Backcountry Byway is mostly gravel, but it is well-maintained and easily passable in any passenger car (except in winter, when the road is often snowed over).

At around Mile 26 (from the Idaho side), there is a turnoff to Little Jacks Creek to the left. To the right is excellent sagebrush habitat. This is a great place to focus. It is where I saw the pygmy rabbit, and also good for badger, white-tailed jackrabbit, Belding’s GS and weasel.

There are many side roads, but they mostly require 4WD. There are wilderness areas that you can access directly from the road. There are no services and no towns and almost no homes the entire length of the road: American Outback at its finest. I have been exploring it for 14 years and still find new things every trip. I have taken Jon Hall and Steve Morgan there, and am happy to assist others if I’m around. — Matt

New Trip Report – Brazil’s Emas National Park

October 30, 2014

Richard Webb was in Brazil last month and had a great trip.

Emas, 2014: Richard Webb, 8 days & 19 species including a Giant Armadillo, Maned Wolf and Hoary Foxes.


Giant Otters making a comeback in one Peruvian River

October 29, 2014

A nice article, with some great pictures, on a superb species.

This highly intelligent, deeply social, and simply charming freshwater predator almost vanished entirely due to a relentless fur trade in the 20th Century. But decades after the trade in giant river otter pelts was outlawed, the species is making a comeback—at least in well-managed protected areas. See


Monkey Selfie Sparks Copyright Case

October 29, 2014

This is a couple of months old but if you haven’t read this then it is an interesting – and somewhat comical – story (though I suspect the photographer – or rather the “camera owner” – doesn’t find it all that funny).

The news that Wikimedia is refusing to take photographer David Slater’s image of a crested black macaque down from its Wikimedia Commons website, because it says he doesn’t own the copyright, has gone viral.



Shrinking goats, shrinking forests and expanding Saki species. Some mammals in the news

October 29, 2014

Here are a few recent mammal articles that you might find interesting…

Alpine goats shrinking due to global warming. Climate change is causing Alpine goats in the Italian Alps to shrink, say scientists from Durham University. See

Northern White Rhino on brink of extinction.The death of a Northern White Rhino has left the species on the brink of extinction as now only six remain in the world, and just one breeding male. See

Speaking of Rhinos, U.S. Indictment Accuses South African Brothers of Trafficking Rhino Horns. U.S. authorities today announced the indictment of the alleged kingpin of a South African rhino poaching and trafficking syndicate, Dawie Groenewald, and his brother, Janneman, and their company Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris on multiple charges, including conspiracy, money laundering, and wildlife crime. See

Meanwhile in South America …. Scientists uncover five new species of ‘toupee’ monkeys in the Amazon. While saki monkeys may be characterized by floppy mops of hair that resemble the worst of human toupees, these acrobatic, tree-dwelling primates are essential for dispersing seeds across the vast Amazon landscape as they primarily dine on fruit. After long being neglected by both scientists and conservationists, a massive research effort by one intrepid researcher has revealed the full-scale of saki monkey diversity, uncovering five new species. See

And in Peru, Saving the Peruvian Spider Monkeys. Projects Abroad releases Peruvian spider monkeys (Ateles chamek) back into the wild. See

But in Brazil the Use of mammals is still prevalent in Brazil’s Conservation Units. A new study published in‘s open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science has found that the undocumented use of animals, particularly mammals, continues to occur in Brazil’s protected areas

And some depressing reading on the plight of the Bornean Orangutan Marooned in shrinking forests, Bornean Orangutans hang on as disaster looms. See


New Trip Reports: Australia & Tibet

October 28, 2014

Three new reports on

Queensland and Tasmania, 2014: Romain Boquier, a lits of 63 species seen over 6 weeks including Proserpine Rock Wallaby, Bennet’s Tree Kangaroo and Feathertail Glider in Queensland and Tiger Quolls in Tasmania.

NE Tibet, 2014 (August): Jesper Hornskov, 19 days & 25+ mammals including Siberian Roe & Alpine Musk Deers and Pallas’s Cat.

NE Tibet, 2014 (June): Jesper Hornskov, 19 days & 20+ mammals including Wild Yak and Prezwalski’s Gazelle.


And some taxonomy…

October 26, 2014

Some taxonomy news: North American Water Shrew is a complex of three species (fortunately, I’ve seen all three); here’s a taxonomic review of Asian pikas.

Vladimir Dinets