Sunday January 19, 2020
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A Study of Africa’s Bush Elephants

African elephants are known to love bathing, spraying and mud-wallowing.

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African bush elephants
Orphaned baby elephants are seen after being bottle-fed, at the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage near Nairobi, Kenya. VOA

A study of the African bush elephant’s vast network of deep wrinkles has found it is intricately designed to help the elephants keep their cool, fight off parasites and defend against sun damage, scientists said on Tuesday.

The fine pattern of millions of channels means the elephant’s skin can retain five to 10 times more water than a flat surface, the scientists said.

The research, conducted by scientists at Switzerland’s University of Geneva and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, was published in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday.

African bush elephants
San Diego Zoo, October. Flickr

“Because of their huge body size, and their warm and dry habitat, African elephants can avoid over-heating only by losing calories through evaporation of the water they collect in and on their skin,” researchers wrote.

The scientists found that elephant skin channels are not just folds or wrinkles, but actual fractures in the animal’s brittle outermost layer of skin. The skin grows on a tiny lattice framework, they said, causing it to fracture under mechanical stress when the animals move.

Also Read: Wildlife At Risk Due to Mass Tourism: Biologits

African elephants are known to love bathing, spraying and mud-wallowing, and since they have no sweat and sebum glands to keep their skin moist and supple, the tiny crevices trap and hold on to water and mud, helping to regulate body temperature.

They also form a barrier against bugs and solar radiation. (VOA)

Next Story

Know About the Impact of Bushfires in Australia on Wildlife

Wildlife Catastrophe Caused by Australian Bushfires

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kangaroo Australia
An injured kangaroo with a joey in its pouch, limps through burnt bushland in Cobargo, Australia. VOA

By Phil Mercer

More than 1 billion animals have been killed in bushfires in the Australian state of New South Wales, according to leading wildlife experts.

Bushfires have had a terrible impact on Australia. Lives have been lost, thousands of homes destroyed and vast areas of land incinerated. The disaster has also had catastrophic consequences for animals. Images of badly burned koalas, Australia’s famous furry marsupials, have come to define the severity of the fire emergency.

The University of Sydney has estimated that more than 1 billion mammals, birds and reptiles, as well as “hundreds of billions” of insects have died in the fires. Experts have warned that “for some species we are looking at imminent extinction.”

Vets and volunteers Australia
Vets and volunteers treat koalas at Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park on Kangaroo Island, southwest of Adelaide, Australia. VOA

They also fear that animals that have survived the fires by fleeing or seeking safety underground will return to areas that will not have the food, water or shelter to support them.

Saving the zoo animals

At zoos and wildlife reserves, staff risked their lives protecting the animals in their care.

As fires tore through the town of Mogo on the New South Wales south coast on New Year’s Eve, there were grave fears for the animals at the local zoo. Remarkably, they all survived, but the property is badly damaged.

Chad Staples, the head keeper, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation about his decision to stay to fight the flames.

“We have a lot of damaged fences,” he said. “The good thing is that we saved every single animal, there is no injuries, there’s no sickness. We had to stay here and protect them. We knew that this was the best place that we, if we worked hard, could make this a safe place. But, yeah, of course, I think everyone, at [a] different point, was scared out of their wits.”

Farm animals perish

Tens of thousands of farm animals also have likely died in the bushfire disaster.

Farmers have been forced to euthanize injured stock. The losses could run into the millions of dollars.

Only when the fires clear will Australia be able to more accurately assess the full extent of the damage on livestock and wildlife.

Dozens of fires continue to burn across several Australian states.

Australia Wildfires
A koala drinks water from a bottle given by a firefighter in Cudlee Creek, South Australia. VOA

Saving the zoo animals

At zoos and wildlife reserves, staff risked their lives protecting the animals in their care.

As fires tore through the town of Mogo on the New South Wales south coast on New Year’s Eve, there were grave fears for the animals at the local zoo. Remarkably, they all survived, but the property is badly damaged.

Chad Staples, the head keeper, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation about his decision to stay to fight the flames.

“We have a lot of damaged fences,” he said. “The good thing is that we saved every single animal, there is no injuries, there’s no sickness. We had to stay here and protect them. We knew that this was the best place that we, if we worked hard, could make this a safe place. But, yeah, of course, I think everyone, at [a] different point, was scared out of their wits.”

Farm animals perish

Tens of thousands of farm animals also have likely died in the bushfire disaster.

Farmers have been forced to euthanize injured stock. The losses could run into the millions of dollars.

Also Read- Pneumonia Outbreak in China Due to Newly Discovered Virus: Health Officials

Only when the fires clear will Australia be able to more accurately assess the full extent of the damage on livestock and wildlife.

Dozens of fires continue to burn across several Australian states. (VOA)