Odd and Amusing Environmental News Roundup

Odd and Amusing Environmental News Roundup

Alisa Opar
Published: 09/03/2010
A daring goat rescue, a tiger loses its stripes, a human-powered car, and the tiny creature that terrifies elephants (hint: it rhymes with 'pant').
 
GOAT RESCUE

Cory Freeman looks at two stranded goats near Roundup, Mont. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Sandy Church of the Rimrock Humane Society) NO SALES.
 
For two days the pair stood precariously on the six-inch-wide ledge of a railroad bridge in rural Montana. The duo was finally coaxed down on Wednesday afternoon. They weren’t people considering ending their lives, but rather two young female goats that somehow got stuck up there.

Sandy Church, Rimrock Humane Society president, told the AP that they probably wandered onto the ledge at night then froze in fear after the sun rose and they discovered where they were.

Using long-armed machinery from a nearby coal mine, rescuers were able to safely capture the animals (watch a video of the rescue). They were taken to the Animal Edventures Sanctuary, run by Cory Freeman.

Church and Freeman are now searching for the owner of the goats, which have collars around their necks. Church is sure the animals will find good homes, even if their owner is located, as she's already had people offer to adopt them. "Everybody loves an animal with a story," Church said. Yes indeed.

 
TIGER LOSES ITS STRIPES
It seems a tiger can change its stripes. One of three cubs born in India’s Vandalur Zoo in June is gradually turning from mostly white, to nearly all black. The zoo put the animal, along with its siblings, on display for the first time on Sunday.
 
From the Times of India
Zoo biologists said the large presence of the pigment melanin in the cub was probably the reason for 80% of its skin being black. The skin colour of tigers is determined by the presence of black and yellow pigments. In most tigers, the colour yellow dominates over black to give them their characteristic colouring.
 
"In this cub, the reverse has happened — black is the dominant colour," said senior zoo biologist Dr Manimozhi. "We are monitoring the cub. The skin colour that he grows into when he reaches adulthood will be the permanent one," he said. It is the dominance of yellow pigment that enables tigers to survive in the wild for long, he added. "In fact, this is the reason why most white tigers are found only in zoos and not in the wild," Manimozhi said.
Such a change is enough to spark an identity crisis. But the young tiger is healthy and thriving on its daily meal of chicken and beef.
 
ANTS IN YOUR TRUNK
According to myth, elephants are afraid of mice. But if you really want to frighten one of the behemoths, it’s best to go with ants, a new study in Current Biology shows.
 
In the savanna of central Kenya, researchers noticed that elephants—voracious herbivores—avoid a type of acacia tree, Acacia drepanolobium, which houses and feeds ants.
 
The Telegraph reports:
Professor Todd Palmer, from the University of Florida, US, who took part in the research, said: ''It really is a David and Goliath story, where these little ants are up against these huge herbivores, protecting trees and having a major impact on the ecosystems in which they live.
 
''Swarming groups of ants that weigh about five milligrams each can and do protect trees from animals that are about a billion times more massive.''

The secret to the tiny bodyguards’ success, it appears, is their choice of target: the elephant’s trunk.

Although externally tough, an elephant's trunk is highly sensitive inside and loaded with nerve endings. ''It seems that elephants simply do not like ants swarming up the insides of their trunks, and I can't say I blame them,'' said Prof Palmer.
 
Apparently, elephants sniff out which trees have ants, raising the possibility of spraying crops with ant odors to keep elephants from chowing down on them. Currently, some farmers rely on text messages sent by elephants intending to raid veggie patches.
 

HOW ABOUT AN (ARM PEDAL POWERED) RIDE?

For $15,000, you can buy a car that’s something of a cross between a paddleboat and Fred Flintstone’s wheels. The Human Car uses the elbow grease of one to four passengers to propel it down the road. Take a look a the video above, or visit Humancar.com for more details on the design.