Fact Attack: Endangered Species No. 107 – The Southern Pudú


Pudu

“Killing animals for sport, for pleasure, for adventure, for hides and furs is a phenomena which is at once disgusting and distressing. There is no justification in indulging is such acts of brutality.”
The Dalai Lama

SPudu outhern pudús are the smallest deer in existence. Their size, coupled with their endearing appearance, has made them targets for the illegal exotic pet market. Many have been taken from the wild as babies to satisfy the whims of uncaring and mindless consumers, oblivious to all but their own desires. Pudú are also snatched from the wild and shipped off to various zoos around the world, presumably to aid the survival of the species!

But their plight doesn’t end there. Specialist trained dogs are used to hunt them down. The pudús are then fed to the dogs as part of their diet. Dogs, incidentally, which also transmit diseases to the deer. And, in keeping with the age-old threats to most wildlife, the adorable pudús are poached for food and hunted for sport.

Pudu I think it goes without saying man has virtually destroyed their habitat, leaving them living in fragmented areas. When travelling between locations, they now come across roads built for settlements, ranches and plantations. They are not particularly good at negotiating these, especially with fast traffic, and road deaths are high among the pudú populations.

And, if all that were not enough, populations of red deer have been introduced to their home territory. Between the larger deer and the cattle from the ranches, the poor little pudús are now having to compete for food as well.

Pudu That’s an awful lot of problems for something little more than a foot high.

In fact, pudús normally reach a height of about fifteen inches and typically weigh twenty pounds, so they are something akin to the size of an average family dog. They have small eyes and ears and short tails. Adult coats are reddish-brown in colour with fawns’ coats bearing white spots, possibly for camouflage, until they reach maturity. Males sport short antlers which are shed annually. 

In the wild, southern pudús, also known as Chilean pudús, are nocturnal and crepuscular. They forage in the dense undergrowth and bamboo thickets seeking out fresh vegetation and fallen fruit, and balancing on their hind legs to reach fresh leaves on the trees.  Physically, they excel at sprinting and climbing. If pudús sense danger, they bark and run in a rapid zig-zag manner to elude or outrun any predators.

PuduPudús tend to live alone or in pairs, and very occasionally in groups of three.  Individuals come together during the rut which takes place in April and May. A gestation period of about seven months follows, after which a single fawn will be born. Fawns are tiny, weighing less than thirty ounces, and are on their feet almost immediately. Care of the young falls entirely to the mother. Pudús advance  quickly and are usually weaned by two months. Females will be mature at six months of age and males at eight to twelve months.

Southern pudu distribution Natural Habitat
Dense temperate forest or bamboo groves.
Where
Chile and Argentina
What they eat
Their varied diet includes leaves, shoots, fruit, bark, seeds and berries.
Threats
Poaching and illegal taking for zoos, private collections and the exotic pet trade. Pudú are killed for sport and food using specifically trained domestic hunting dogs. Habitat loss due to cattle ranching, logging and other human developments. Road accidents. Diseases transferred by domestic dogs. Competition for food from the introduced red deer.
The pudú’s natural predators include eagle owls, cougar, fox and small cats such as the kodkod.

Status: Vulnerable
The Chilean pudú  (Pudú puda) is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Vulnerable (high risk of endangerment in the wild). It is also listed on Appendix I of CITES.  
Various conservation programmes exist with the emphasis being on monitoring the pudú  in protected areas and removing threats from the same, and establishing internationally accepted guidelines for the care of rescued and confiscated animals. [1]
Southern pudús  have been bred successfully in several zoos across the world and international captive breeding programmes have been developed for the species. Although, the only evidence I can find of any being returned to the wild are the few that exist in the Nahuel Huapi National Park in Argentina. Others appear to have been kept simply as exhibits in zoos. Any further information would be welcome. Please feel free to leave a comment.

The Zemanta related articles provided below are all centred on zoo births, as is the video. Whereas I feel ill-inclined to support these profit-making organisations by referring to them on this blog, the events themselves are joyous occasions from respected sources, so I have included  them here. Let’s just hope these little animals grow to live full and happy lives.

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Fast Fact Attack: Endangered Species No. 61 – The Sumatran Tiger


Sumatran tiger in jungle

Image: Creative Commons

Description
From the eyes on its head to the whiskers on its face, there is not a single bit of the tiger that does not promise a cure for something.  Or, so decree the Oracles of Chinese traditional medicine.  And, if the Chinese are not boiling the tiger, grinding its bones into powder or making soup of it, others are selling it on the black market for as much as twenty thousand dollars per animal.  Live beasts are good, but dead pose little problem. And, of course, there is always a little bit of sport involved, too.  Then there are the land robbers, committing large scale pillage and rape.  They have logged, cleared, burnt, converted, planted and settled.  And, they show no signs of easing up until they have fully exploited the Sumatran tiger’s habitat.  The situation, by the admittance of Indonesian forestry officials, is now way out of control.  We are, in case you haven’t already guessed, back in Sumatra;  an island where they seem very practised at forcing species towards extinction.

Sumatran tigers can be distinguished by their thinner stripes.  Male Sumatrans have long fur around their faces, giving them a maned appearance.  They are smaller than other subspecies, with an average male weighing about two hundred and sixty-five pounds. Females are less heavy at about two hundred pounds.  Males grow up to eight feet in length, and females, a slightly shorter seven feet.

Tigers kill swiftly and painlessly.  A tiger will ambush its prey from behind and administer one fatal bite to the neck.  The spinal cord will break and death is almost always instantaneous.  They will then drag their prey out of sight.  They can eat up to forty pounds at a time, and will save what they don’t eat for later.  They are spectacular swimmers and have been known to chase their prey into water to gain an advantage. They live in dens and caves, and sometimes tree hollows;  they are mostly nocturnal and invariably solitary.

There is no specific breeding season for tigers, but mating often takes place between November and April, following which there is a gestation period of about three and a half months.  Three or four cubs will be born in a cave, a rocky crevice, or in dense vegetation. For the first few days their eyes and ears will remain closed.  The father of the cubs will not be involved in raising them.  They will stay within the confines of the den until they reach eight weeks.  At the age of six months they will begin their lessons in killing prey. However, their first lone kill will not be until they are about eighteen months old.  Cubs normally stay with their mothers until they are two or three years of age.  The juvenile mortality is high, however, and sadly, almost half of all cubs do not survive beyond the age of two.

The Sumatran tiger is the smallest of the five tiger subspecies.  It has lived exclusively, for over a million years, in the once extensive moist tropical jungles of the island of Sumatra, Indonesia.

Although tigers have been killed as a result of human conflict, the most significant numbers of killings have been for financial gain.  Poaching for trade is responsible for over 78% of estimated Sumatran tiger deaths, consisting of at least 40 animals per year.  There is no evidence that this trade is declining.

Almost sixty-seven thousand square kilometres of forest was lost between 1985 and 1997.  Most of that was lowland forest, the preferred habitat of the Sumatran tiger.  Since then, the annual rate of deforestation has increased dramatically.

If these illegal activities are not stamped out soon, or at least brought under control, there will be no future for the Sumatran tiger.

Habitat
Montane and peat forests, lowlands, swamps and rivers.
Where
The Indonesian island of Sumatra.
What they eat
Young rhinos, various pigs and members of the deer family.   It will also feast on smaller prey such as snakes, fish, monkeys and tapirs.
Threats
Habitat loss, illegal logging, depletion of prey base, human conflict and poaching.
Status: Critically Endangered
The Sumatran tiger  (Panthera tigris sumatrae)  is listed on the IUCN List of Threatened Species as Critically Endangered.  Most wild tigers live in the various National Parks of Sumatra.    Others, about 20% of the overall population, live in unprotected areas.  However, the square acreage of these supposedly protected National Parks is constantly dwindling due to illegal agriculture. The growing of coffee has become a major concern.  This issue, and others, can only be addressed by a) the law being strictly enforced – which it most certainly is not at the moment, and b) making the penalties far more severe that they are.

It is thought three hundred of the species may still survive in Sumatra in the wild. There are roughly the same amount kept in zoos.  “The European breeding programme and the Global Management Species Programme for Sumatran tigers are both coordinated by ZSL London Zoo – where ZSL’s specialists are responsible for ensuring a healthy and diverse population of tigers in zoos around the world.” [1]
There are various international organisations and trusts who are trying to help the Sumatran tiger, but unless something is done to halt the destruction of the forests soon, the Sumatran tiger will go the way of the Javan and Balinese tigers.  Both of which are now extinct.

“Man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all”
Aristotle