savanna elephant

Pokémon in our Biomes pt. 8: Xeric Shrubland

I’ve recently decided to make a series of posts with hypothetical thinking and analyzing of what Pokémon species could potentially be found in the world’s biomes. Not at all relative to the games, I will be focusing primarily of the elements, design, and relativity to real life flora and fauna of Pokémon to depict where different species would roam on our big blue marble. 

EDIT: I decided to change this post from Deserts to Xeric Shrubland.

This post will be on the Xeric Shrublands, which are a type of desert that encompass a large portion of all the deserts in the world. In the map below, the darker yellow portions represent xeric shrublands.

About one fifth of the earth is covered in some form of a desert. Generally, all kinds of deserts have one common feature: they are dry. Although cold deserts technically have water in the winter, it is not in liquid form. Most cold deserts have very cool winters and evenings, and usually produce a fine layer of frost or snow over the sand and shrubs. In this post, we will be focusing on xeric shrublands, which are common images that we see when we picture the Australian outback, or the deserts in central U.S.A. Usually containing some plant life due to slightly cooler temperatures at night that allow for some rainfall, xeric shrublands are home to many different grass, cacti, and bush species, as well as countless invertebrates, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Pretty much all of these species in the real world burrow into the cool earth during the day to avoid he scorching surface of the sand or rocks. 

Let’s get started!

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Will Tracing Ivory DNA Stem the Slaughter of African Elephants?

The fight against the global elephant ivory trade has just added a new tool. Researchers at the University of Washington and INTERPOL, the international policing organization, have successfully used DNA taken from ivory seizures around the world to identify elephant poaching hotspots in Africa.

The team took DNA samples from about a half-ton of ivory confiscated in Africa and Asia between 1996 and 2014. Then they matched portions of genetic material to lengths of DNA that are known to be held only by elephants in specific geographic areas. Using this method, they found that most of the ivory seized since 2006 originated in just two areas.

“Understanding that vast amounts of this major transnational trade is focused on two primary areas makes it possible to focus law enforcement on those areas and eliminate the largest amount of illegal killing,” said University of Washington biologist Samuel Wasser, who led the study published last week in the journal Science

The largely ineffectual work to counter the ivory trade has entered a critical phase. One estimate puts the number of African elephants killed in 2013 at more than 50,000. With a population of less than 450,000 on the continent, that puts one year’s killing spree at more than 11 percent of all African elephants left on earth. The slaughter led Nature in 2014 to conclude that the elephant population is collapsing, and most animals could be wiped out within the next decade. Learn more and see infographics and a video below.

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A $7 million, comprehensive census of African elephants has found that the population decreased by nearly a third between 2007 and 2014.

The Great Elephant Census was conducted over three years, and set out to effectively count every savanna elephant in 18 countries in Africa, accounting for 93 percent of the savanna elephants in those countries. The conclusion — that the population declined by 144,000 animals in just seven years — is sobering.

The results were published in the journal PeerJ.

“If we can’t protect the world’s largest land mammal, the prognosis for wildlife conservation is bleak,” says Mike Chase, the lead scientist on the project and the founder of an elephant conservation group based in Botswana called Elephants Without Borders.

African Elephant Population Declines By 30 Percent

Photo: Elephants Without Borders

The African Elephant

General Info-
African elephants are distinguished from Asian elephants in several ways, the most noticeable being their much larger ears. Also, the African elephant is typically larger than the Asian elephant and has a concave back. In Asian elephants, only males have tusks, but both males and females of African elephants have tusks and are usually less hairy than their Asian cousins. African elephants have traditionally been classified as a single species comprising two distinct subspecies, namely the savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana africana) and the forest elephant (Loxodonta africana cyclotis). Loxodonta africana refers specifically to the savanna elephant, the largest of all elephants. It is the largest land animal, with males standing 10 feet (3.2 metres) to 13 feet (4 metres) at the shoulder and weighing 7,7000 pounds (3,500 kilograms) up to a reported 26,000 pounds(12,000 kilograms). The female is smaller, standing about 9.8 feet (3 metres)  at the shoulder. Most often, savanna elephants are found in open grasslands, marshes, and lakeshores. They range over much of the savanna zone south of the Sahara.  The forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis), is usually smaller and rounder, and its tusks thinner and straighter compared with the savanna elephant. The forest elephant can weigh up to 9,900 pounds (4,500 kilograms) and stand about 10 feet (3 metres) tall. Much less is known about these animals than their savanna cousins, because environmental and political obstacles make them difficult to study. Normally, they inhabit the dense African rain forests of central and western Africa, although occasionally they roam the edges of forests, thus overlapping the savanna elephant home ranges and hybridizing.

50 to 60 years generally.

Conservation Status-
Making a recovery since more efforts to protect them and their ivory were made.

Neymar and Gisele Bündchen tackle deadly illegal trade in wildlife

Barcelona star Neymar has teamed up with Brazilian fashion model and actress Gisele Bündchen in a bid to tackle the deadly illegal trade in wildlife.

The Brazilian international will involve children from his Neymar Jr. Project Institute in the United Nations campaign.

“When my friend Gisele told me about the Wild For Life campaign to protect so many endangered animals, I had to act,” Neymar Jr. said.

“Football unites us all in a common goal. Winning as part of a team. We need to think of ourselves as global citizens, one great team that can win against the greed and ignorance that is allowing wildlife crime to flourish.”

The illegal trade in wildlife is a global problem that threatens species including elephants, rhinos, and tigers to pangolins, sea turtles, and rosewood.

Poaching has driven a 30 per cent decrease in African savanna elephants in the last four years, while three rhinos are killed every day.

Profits from the illegal wildlife trade often go into the pockets of international criminal networks, threatening peace and security, and damaging the livelihoods of local communities who depend on tourism.  

Neymar, therefore, wanted to add his name to the #WildforLife campaign, aims to mobilise millions of people to make commitments and take action to end the illegal trade.