Press releases

Jackals feeding on waterfowl in Namibia (Photo: Gábor Czirják)
RFF received Certificate of Apprecation; Sabah Forestry Department

Back to Nature: for the first time palm oil plantations are being turned back into protected rainforest – this creates a corridor for Borneo’s endangered wildlife

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, 21.03.2019

Scientists in collaboration with Borneo‘s forestry authorities want to turn palm oil plantations into rainforests. Lessons learned from this project can then be used as a blueprint for future reforestation projects. The pilot project will be led by the Rhino and Forest Fund (RFF). At the Heart-of-Borneo- Conference, the RFF will receive an award from the Malaysian government of Sabah for its achievements to date.

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Jackals feeding on waterfowl in Namibia (Photo: Gábor Czirják)
Jackals feeding on waterfowl in Namibia (Photo: Gábor Czirják)

Eating the flu: diet may be an important factor for Influenza A virus exposure in wild African mammals

Given the importance and wide distribution of Influenza A viruses, it is surprising how little is known about infections of wild mammals. A new study led by Alex D. Greenwood and Gábor Á. Czirják of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) in Berlin sheds light on which species are commonly infected and why. The scientists detected virus exposure among wild African mammals in Namibia and demonstrated that the most important factor for influenza A virus diversity and prevalence is a diet containing birds. Species relationship or sociality play surprisingly small roles. The results have been published in “The Journal of Infectious Diseases”.

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Hedgehog in Berlin (Photo: Juliane Seet)
Hedgehog in Berlin (Photo: Juliane Seet)

Prickly neighborhood: A team of scientists provided first evidence of diphtheria-like infectious agent in hedgehogs

As cultural successors, hedgehogs reside in close proximity to humans. Close contacts, however, are not only beneficial but also bear risks for animals and humans. Road traffic, lawn mowers and infectious agents threaten the prickly insect eaters. Some infectious agents can be transmitted to humans. Considerate treatment of wildlife and appropriate hygiene measures minimize the risk of infection, though. A recent study, initiated by the National Consiliary Laboratory for Diphtheria (CL-Diphtheria) in Germany and conducted in close collaboration of five federal state laboratories and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), identified Corynebacterium ulcerans - a close relative of the diphtheria causing bacterium - in hedgehogs. The study is published in „Emerging Microbes & Infections“.

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Asian elephant, Authors:  Priya Davidar & Jean-Philippe Puyravaud
Asian elephant, Authors: Priya Davidar & Jean-Philippe Puyravaud

Environmental change: Asian elephants may lose up to 42 percent of suitable habitats in India and Nepal until 2070

Protecting and expanding suitable habitats for wildlife is key to the conservation of endangered species, but owing to climate and land use change the ideal habitats of today may not be fitting in 30 or 50 years. An international team of scientists therefore predicted range shifts of Asian elephants in India and Nepal using species distribution models based on distribution data for the elephants and climate projections. While a few regions in the north and northeast of the subcontinent may provide more suitable habitats in the future, overall a heavy loss is probable in all scenarios. The complex effects of environmental change on the distribution of the elephants is elucidated in a paper published in the Journal „Diversity and Distributions”.

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Pipistrellus nathusii  Author: Christian Giese
Pipistrellus nathusii Author: Christian Giese

Batmobile with cruise control: Bats migrate at the most energy-efficient flying speed for maximum range

Aerial migration is the fastest, yet most energetically demanding way of seasonal movements between habitats. A new study led by scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) investigated the energy requirements and travel speeds of migrating Nathusius’ bats (Pipistrellus nathusii). Using a wind tunnel experiment to determine the exact energy demands of different flying speeds and a field study to record actual travel speeds of migrating bats, the scientists demonstrated that bats travel at the speed where their range reaches a maximum, enabling them to cover long distances with a minimum amount of energy. How the researchers tracked down this cruise control is published in the “Journal of Experimental Biology”.

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