Does Animal suffer from diseases like dementia?

As we all know September is also known as world Alzheimer’s month. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for up to 80 percent of all dementia cases that lead to low mental ability decrease in daily functioning. Wild animals suffer from diseases like  dementia more as compare to pet animals as they stay in dirty places while the pet animals stay in safe environments get good veterinary care.

A couple of months ago we told you how the age of certain wild animals is determined. Since then, some of you wondered about age-related changes in those animals.

Now that it’s September, aka World Alzheimer’s Month—Alzheimer’s disease accounts for up to 80 percent of all dementia cases, in which mental abilities decline and impede daily functioning—we asked some experts: Do wild animals and domestic pets suffer from dementia or dementia-like symptoms?

The answer: yes and (probably) no.stray-dogs-lykabettos-hill

Our domestic dogs and cats, who live in safe environments and get veterinary care, can live very long lives—long enough to develop cognitive dysfunction. Little data has been collected on older animals in the wild, but while they may reach old age, if they were to develop dementia-like symptoms, they wouldn’t last very long. (Read “Animal Minds” in National Geographic magazine.)

In a research paper published earlier this year in Ageing Research Reviews, researchers found that in 334 studies, 175 animal species showed evidence of senescence, or the process of growing old.

Dementia Unlikely in Wild Animals

Study co-author Dan Nussey, of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Edinburgh, said via email that some of the strongest evidence of and most in-depth studies on senescence come from wild ungulates (such as deer, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats) and seabirds, like the long-lived albatross.

Nussey said that wild animals can show physical deterioration like arthritis or tooth wear, and some cognitive deterioration may occur in the wild, but anything as severe as dementia or Alzheimer’s would simply not allow them to last.

“Wild animals live a tough life,” agreed David Mizejewski, a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation. “Even early [physical] deteriorations—like age-worn teeth or hips—make it harder for them to survive.” Additional cognitive problems would simply make them too vulnerable to survive.

Domestic Pets Susceptible

On the other hand, domestic pets tend to live in safe environments and receive regular veterinary care. That means many cats and dogs live long enough to develop cognitive dysfunction.

Jennifer Bolser, chief clinician at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley in Colorado, said veterinarians are seeing more cases of cognitive dysfunction syndrome, commonly called canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD). (Related: “OCD Dogs, People Have Similar Brains; Is Your Dog OCD?”)

This is probably because domestic dogs are living longer, thanks to better medical and preventive care starting at a younger age and vets who are more adept at recognizing symptoms.

The most dramatic signs owners might notice are dogs “acting disoriented, walking in circles, or staring into corners or [at] the wall.”

Other symptoms include aggression, changes in sleep patterns, loss of interest in family members, and inability to control urination or defecation “in more than just an incontinent way—almost like they’re forgetting how to be house trained,” Bolser said. Cat owners might also notice their pets yowling at random times of day.

Other illnesses have to be ruled out, though, before cognitive dysfunction is definitively determined.

“Usually it’s a diagnosis by exclusion,” Bolser said. “If everything else is checking out normally,” it probably is cognitive dysfunction.

Amy Johnson, assistant professor of large animal medicine and neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, says she doesn’t know if horses are susceptible too. But she does get calls from owners of elderly horses who report changes in the animals’ behavior and ask if the horse might have Alzheimer’s.

To rule out structural brain changes or brain tumors requires medical tests such as MRIs. Most horse owners don’t want to go to the expense or run the risk of putting their animal under anesthesia, so such questions usually go unanswered.

How Can You Help Your Aging Pet?

Bolser says that although there isn’t a cure, there are ways to manage cognitive dysfunction.

“Keep the [pet’s] brain active, even at an older age,” she said. “Teaching them new tricks, getting them outside, and challenging their brains with new environmental stimuli is very important to helping the brain not deteriorate as quickly.”

Also, adding antioxidants to their diets can help with brain health. A prescription diet fortified with antioxidants, fatty acids, and L-carnitine is available, she said.

There are also some medications, the main one being selegiline, which has been used as an MAO inhibitor antidepressant in people and is also sometimes used for human Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients as well, Bolser said.

Mizejewski has some personal experience with CCD, having lost two dogs to old age. The keys to keeping them alive and healthy, he said, were regular exercise, mental stimulation, social interaction, and a good diet. (See dog pictures submitted to National Geographic.)

“There’s a pity involved when we think about our pets losing cognitive function,” he said. “But on the flip side, I think about if my dogs were wild wolves—they would have succumbed to something else long before they got to this stage of old age and dementia.

“Whether domestic or wild, every animal dies at some point. And at the end of the day, I don’t think one way of life ending is necessarily better than another.”

The shabby online business of illegal wildlife trade

The IT revolution is one of the most important discoveries in history. With the help of internet we can we can do anything.Now internet is also a platform for the shabby online business of illegal wild life trade.  When you know the best use of this invention then sky’s the limit for you in every aspect. But some people are using this invention in a very bad way. A famous newspaper recently reported that India’s wildlife police have discovered illegal websites that are selling animal parts and rare plants. They revealed that there are nearly a thousand websites that deal with the sale and delivery of animals and animal products protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. They also revealed that most of these websites are popular shopping websites, online classified and free ad posting websites.

online illegal wildlife trade

The internet is certainly the cornerstone of modern technology and a boon for so much innovation. However, along with all its advantages, there are some serious drawbacks and one of the latest is online smuggling of wildlife. The Indian Express recently reported that India’s wildlife police have discovered illegal websites selling live endangered animals, parts and rare plants.

The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) of India has started to hire cyber crime specialists to track down online smugglers. A preliminary enquiry by the Indian Express revealed that there are nearly a thousand websites that deal with the sale and delivery of animals and animal products protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the global Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Initial study has revealed that most of these websites are popular shopping websites, online classified and free ad posting websites.

“What makes things truly challenging is that the new age wildlife smuggler or seller is also very tech-savvy, so there’s need to seek the services of cyber specialists. We began hiring two months ago. These specialists have found some 200 websites where specific instances of sellers marketing some endangered animals have been traced,” an officer with the Ministry of Environment & Forests said.

Additionally, many of these weblinks are hosted on proxy servers based in other countries. Therefore, there needs to be cooperation with the host countries to trace these IP addresses. Many websites also use fake IP addresses making detection of the criminals very difficult.

The online black market caters largely to foreign markets and apart from tiger skins, elephant tusks, and rhinocerous horns there are also live animals like the colourful tokay gecko, giant ladybirds, the Indian star tortoise, hill mynahs, tarantulas, sea horses, sea cucumbers, parakeets. Specific animal parts like pangolin scales, neck feathers of the grey jungle fowl, musk pods, bear bile, mongoose hair, snake skins, insects and rare plants of high medicinal value are also available to buy.

Exact data on the scale of illegal wildlife trade in the country does not exist – the ministry is still in the process of compiling a national database. However, incidents of trade of endangered species which have been detected by the WCCB follow the global trend and indicate an upswing. While 205 cases of smuggling were detected in 2009-10, the number climbed to 245 in 2010-11 and 312 in 2011-12.

Effect of shrinking forests

As we all know forests are shrinking day by day, and because of shrinking forests the animals at times come towards cities, towns and villages near by. A recent incident happened in Gatlinburg Tennessee USA when a black bear was seen roaming on the streets of the city where people where shopping every body was amazed to see the black bear roaming around without any fear. People started clicking his photographs and started making his videos the video was so viral that it became world wide news very quickly.

bear 1

Shoppers in Gatlinburg, Tennessee get a surprise when a black bear trots down the street and uses a pedestrian crossing to escape to the woods.

A black bear lost in Gatlinburg, Tennessee surprised shoppers when it was spotted wandering the streets of the mountain resort.

More intrigued than frightened, passers-by can be seen filming and photographing the animal as seeks a route back to the woods.

The bear weaves in and out among shoppers on the pavement before spotting its escape route.

Making a dash for a pedestrian crossing, the animal safely crosses the road and scampers back into the wilderness.


US to destroy all seized ivory stocks

US has decided that they would destroy all seized ivory stocks of around 6m tons to stop the illegal trafficking in wildlife. Rising demand for ivory is leading to terrible killing of elephants in Africa and frightening remaining populations across the continent. The interior secretary, Sally Jewell, said “wildlife trafficking had doubled over the past five years into a global trade worth $10bn. Poaching of elephants had risen by a factor of eight in Tanzania.

Killing of rhinos for their horns had gone up by a factor of 50, State Department officials now openly refer to wildlife trafficking as a national security crisis”.


U.S. wildlife authorities say they will destroy six metric tons of illegal elephant ivory seized by customs agents.

Whole tusks, carvings and other ivory material held in storage in the western state of Colorado will be crushed next month.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the rising demand for ivory is fueling the horrific slaughter of African elephants, and it threatens the remaining elephant population.

Jewell said the United States will work aggressively with global law enforcement agencies to prosecute criminals who traffic in ivory.

The ivory trade and elephant poaching continues despite a global ban on ivory in 1990.

Giant Killer Fish of water kingdom

In yet another fascinating story of archeology, scientists have discovered a fossil of a fish, that could be the water version of the giant killer T-Rex. Dating back to 85 million years, this extraordinary fossil of a Prognathodon has a special fins on the tail that could propel the animal at astonishing speeds across the ocean. With a streamlined body like a shark, this giant killer fish grows upto 17 meters in length and could weigh up to 20 tons. Definitely, this should have been the ruler of the oceans during its times.


Being caught in the jaws of a Prognathodon meant almost certain death, although the lizards were still vulnerable to attack themselves, with one fossil bearing the marks of a shark bite in its spine.


The latest and best specimen was dug up from rocks in central Jordan, with part of its soft tissue preserved, including the perfect outlines of its tail fin and flippers. A member of the mosasaur family, the marine reptile discovered measured just five feet long and was a juvenile when it died. It would have ended up six times its size had it lived.


This led to the idea that they were slow swimmers but the new fossil described in Nature Communications has a crescent-shaped tail fin similar to whales and extinct marine reptiles called ichthyosaurs that resembled dolphins.


The latest and best specimen was dug up from rocks in central Jordan, with part of its soft tissue preserved, including the perfect outlines of its tail fin and flippers, which indicates the lizard was a highly efficient swimmer


Dr Johan Lindgren, of Lund University in Sweden, said they were similar swimmers to sharks, ‘a finding that significantly expands our understanding of the level of aquatic adaptation achieved by these seagoing lizards.’ He described the skeleton, which is complete save for the head and part of the tail, as ‘extraordinary’.


Dr Lindgren said: ‘The bones are generally in a pristine condition and retain their original three-dimensional shape, although some skeletal elements were fractured or lost during the excavation of the fossil; the latter are now represented by natural moulds.


‘In addition, plant rootlets have penetrated and partially dissolved a string of vertebrae near the end of the tail.


‘The exposed elements of the pectoral girdle and rib cage are somewhat disturbed and the latter structure has suffered slight crushing; otherwise, the skeleton is in nearly perfect articulation, preserving, for example, a virtually complete, hydrofoil-like forelimb surrounded by skin impressions.’


The terrifying creatures could grow up to 17 metres long, weigh as much as 20 tonnes and would have spent most of the day swimming near the seabed stalking their next meal from the cover of seaweed and rocks


Mosasaurs breathed air, were powerful swimmers and were so well adapted to living in the warm, shallow seas prevalent during the Late Cretaceous period that they gave birth to live young, rather than return to the shore to lay eggs.


Dr Lindgren said: ‘The findings in the present study on Prognathodon, along with recent previous work on the streamlined body shape, keeled scales and modified limbs provide compelling evidence derived mosasaurs were hydrodynamically advanced animals capable of high efficiency swimming.


‘Moreover, the emerging evidence suggests aquatic adaptations evolved relatively quickly within the group, that is, within less than 10 million years.’

New variety of Eyeless Fungus Beetle discovered

Deep within the forests of Arizona, scientists found a cave. And withing the cave, was the surprise that they have never expected for. They found a species of Fungus Beetle that lived only within that single cave for decades, centuries and even millenniums. The cave was so dark, that nothing could be visible inside giving no work for our eyes. And since these beetles lived there for millenniums they have gradually given away their eyes.

“Obviously, the eyes don’t fall off in a 24-hour period,” said study co-author Jut Wynne, an ecologist at Northern Arizona University.

“With these types of animals, they’re really shedding those features … over evolutionary time. This animal likely entered caves about 200,000 years ago.”
10 New variety of Eyeless Fungus Beetle discovered

Most cave-dwelling animals subsist in an absolute or at least partially dark environment, which means eyesight is not much of an asset. And since the cave is only about 260 feet (80 meters) in length and just tall enough to crawl through, flight is not much of an advantage to a beetle, either.

So the bug traded in its outer-world traits for longer legs and extended antennae, which help it navigate in the gloom. Wynne began exploring the limestone cave in Arizona’s Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in 2005. Compared with the Grand Canyon’s many caverns, this particular grotto is rather unremarkable, he added.

“It’s a crawly cave with a low ceiling,” Wynne said. “When I first set foot in that cave in ’05, I had no idea we were going to find several new species.” (Explore an interactive of the world’s largest cave.)

The scientist set bait traps of chicken livers and sweet potatoes to attract bugs, which he then collected and froze for later examination. One of them was the newfound fungus beetle—which, as its name suggests, likes fungi.

Though the fungus beetle isn’t Wynne’s only claim to fame—he’s also discovered the state’s first cave-adapted centipede as well as a new genus of cricket—he said it’s his cutest.

“I think they’re cute little beetles,” Wynne said. “They’re a nice chestnut-brown color, and they have an elongated antennae and cute, long legs. They have a very peaceful existence if you think about it.”

The next step is to figure out how these bugs interact with other animals within the cave, which is still replete with mysteries. The bait traps have captured hundreds of animals and may lead to further discoveries.

Elephants poisoned for Poaching

In a cruel case of poaching, the poachers killed as large as 81 elephants and a variety of other animals with cyanide. This cruel case happened in the protected wildlife sanctuary of Zimbabwe. The experts from the Government of Zimbabwe visited the national park and confirmed that they were indeed the work of poachers. The culprits usually kill elephants by shooting them down, but such mass elephant poisoned and killed is cruel beyond words.
09 Elephants poisoned for Poaching

“When we left Hwange National Park on Sunday, the total number of elephants that had died from cyanide poisoning was 81,” said Jerry Gotora, a director of the Zimbabwe parks department.

“Several other animals have also died, but we don’t have the total number yet.”

More than 25,000 elephants were poached last year, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The animals’ tusks are highly sought after for Asia’s ivory trade.

Nine people have been arrested on suspicion of poisoning watering holes in the game park to kill the elephants for their tusks.

However, Mr Gotora said the poison had been “put at places where elephants graze, not in water as was being reported”.

Two years ago nine elephants, five lions and two buffalo died from cyanide poisoning in Hwange National Park.

Just 50 rangers patrol the 5,660-square mile park, and wildlife authorities say 10 times that number are needed.

There are more than 120,000 elephants living in Zimbabwe’s national parks.

Asian Cheetah is at the verge of Extinction!

Cheetahs have the unique distinction of being the fastest animal on land. Once spread across the south and east of Asia, these big cats have almost extinct in most parts of these lands. Their last known habitat was Iran, in the middle east of Asia. Due to the political crisis within the country, the data about Asian Cheetah could not be recorded earlier. But now a study reveals that even Iran is not a safe abode for these cats. Their population is on the decline and they are on the verge of being extinct.


Comprehensive monitoring

To rectify this a comprehensive monitoring program was initiated by the Iranian Cheetah Society (ICS) in partnership with Iran’s Department of Environment, the Conservation of Asiatic Cheetah Project and Panthera to understand demographic characteristics of the cheetahs in Iran between 2011 and 2013. As a result of extensive research & camera trapping, a population of just 40 to 70 individuals is now accepted for the entire country, significantly fewer than the previous estimate of 70 to 100.

Camera traps are reliable tools which are extremely useful for investigating population of elusive marked cats, such as the cheetahs. However, this technology has been rarely applied to the species due to its elusive nature and low density. In Iran, due to political sanctions, necessary equipment have been hard to come by which prevented a thorough status assessment previously due to the lack of sufficient camera traps.

Thanks to various donors and partners, the monitoring program was launched to fill this gap in knowledge. Accordingly, 10 reserves within Iran were covered by infra-red camera traps to provide reliable estimates of the cheetah population.

Thought to be declining

However, since no basic figure is available about the cheetah population for previous years, it is difficult to judge the population trends of the Asiatic cheetahs in Iran. Meanwhile, based on sporadic data available from previous years, it seems that the cheetah population has a decreasing in recent years, indicating it is probably at its lowest ever.

It is highly desirable to involve experienced conservation agencies to revise existing protection efforts in Iran in order to safeguard cheetah survival in the country.

4 New Lizard species Discovered

Just when we think we know everything about this world, and everything on it, Earth throws in some surprise. Such a surprise was what the Scientists have experienced when they found out 4 entirely new lizard species of Legless lizards in California. What makes it interesting is that the lizards were not found in deep forests but in a well populated semi-industrial are in the city, at the border of the Los Angeles Airport.

“This shows that there is a lot of undocumented biodiversity within California,” said Theodore Papenfuss, a reptile and amphibian expert, or herpetologist, with UC Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, who discovered and identified the new species with James Parham of California State University, Fullerton. The discoveries raise the number of California legless lizard species from one to five.

Legless Lizard

Legless lizards

Legless lizards, represented by more than 200 species worldwide, are well-adapted to life in loose soil, Papenfuss said. Millions of years ago, lizards on five continents independently lost their limbs in order to burrow more quickly into sand or soil, wriggling like snakes. Some still have vestigial legs. Though up to eight inches in length, the creatures are seldom seen because they live mostly underground, eating insects and larvae, and may spend their lives within an area the size of a dining table. Most are discovered in moist areas when people overturn logs or rocks.
Discovered at the airport!

For the past 15 years, Papenfuss and Parham have scoured the state for new species, suspecting that the fairly common California legless lizard (Anniella pulchra), the only legless lizard in the U.S. West, had at least some relatives. They discovered one new species – yellow-bellied like its common cousin – under leaf litter in protected dunes west of Los Angeles International Airport. They named that species A. stebbinsi.
Cardboard shelters lured new species

Because many sandy, loamy areas, including dunes and desert areas, offer little cover for lizards if they emerge, Papenfuss distributed thousands of pieces of cardboard throughout the state in areas likely to host the lizard. He returned year after year to see if lizards were using the moist, cool areas under the cardboard as resting or hunting grounds.
This technique turned up three other new species in the Central Valley (see sidebar): A. alexanderae, named after Annie Alexander, who endowed the UC Berkeley museum in 1908 and added 20,000 specimens to its collections; A. campi after Charles Camp, because of his early-career discovery of the Mt. Lyell salamander in the Sierra; and A. grinnelli after Joseph Grinnell, who in 1912 first noted habitat destruction around Bakersfield from agriculture and oil drilling.

Species had previously been collected but not recognised

Interestingly, all these species had been collected before and were in collections around California, but when preserved in alcohol, the lizards lose their distinctive colour and look identical. Papenfuss and Parham identified the species through genetic profiling, but they subsequently found ways to distinguish them from one another via belly colour, number and arrangement of scales, and number of vertebrae. However, two species – the previously known common legless lizard of Northern California and the newly named southern species found at LAX and apparently broadly distributed south of the Tehachapi Mountains – remain indistinguishable except by genetic tests or, now, the location where they are found.
Species of special concern

Papenfuss and Parham are working with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to determine whether the lizards need protected status. Currently, the common legless lizard is listed by the state as a species of special concern.
“These species definitely warrant attention, but we need to do a lot more surveys in California before we can know whether they need higher listing,” Parham said.
Papenfuss noted that two of the species are within the range of the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, which is listed as an endangered species by both the federal and state governments.
“On one hand, there are fewer legless lizards than leopard lizards, so maybe these two new species should be given special protection,” he said. “On the other hand, there may be ways to protect their habitat without establishing legal status. They don’t need a lot of habitat, so as long as we have some protected sites, they are probably OK.”
Papenfuss says they are not yet in danger of going extinct, since he has found some of the lizards in protected reserves operated by the CDFW, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and a private water reserve outside Bakersfield, in addition to the El Segundo Dunes near LAX.
Papenfuss and Parham reported their discovery on Sept. 17 in the journal Breviora, a publication of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University.

China launches campaign to save Sharks

For people in mainland China, the fins of a shark are a favorite dish. And hence hunting of shark is robust in and around the Chinese water bodies. The Government of China understating that such mass killing of sharks would result in the species becoming extinct, has launched a campaign to save Sharks in partnership with WildAid to reduce the demand for Shark Fin dishes. The campaign called as “I’m FINished with Fins”, saw people along with celebrities take pledge not to eat Shark Fin anymore.

When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too

Following WildAid’s “When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too” campaign, led by Yao Ming and the Chinese government’s 2012 ban on shark fin soup at official functions, “I’m FINished with Fins” will continue to raise awareness that saying “no” to shark fin soup is socially acceptable. The campaign will be primarily promoted online through China’s burgeoning social media platforms.


Large decrease in demand recorded

According to the South China Morning Post, the Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong reported that shark fin imports have reduced from 10,292 tons to 3,087 tons from 2011 to November 2012; over a 70% decline. Additionally, the chairman of the Hong Kong-based Shark Fin Trade Merchants Association told the South China Morning Post “the whole industry has recorded a 50% decrease of sales in the last year…mainly due to the omnipresent advocacy by green groups.”

“CCTV and other Chinese media have helped to reduce demand and cut the financial incentive to kill and fin sharks. The government set a leadership role through the media and by banning shark fin at their official events, which is now being adopted by Hong Kong and we hope will be emulated throughout Asia,” said Peter Knights, WildAid’s Executive Director.

“I’m FINished with Fins” was originally launched by Shark Savers in partnership with WWF-Hong Kong, Nat Geo Wild, National Geographic, and WildAid in Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan. The campaign is currently seeking 100,000 Hong Kongers to pledge through an online platform not to consume shark fin soup.