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Rare Photo Catches A Weasel Riding On A Woodpecker

An incredible image recently captured by an amateur photographer from the UK named Martin Le-May, shows a weasel hitching a ride on the back of a woodpecker.

Le-May told BBC News that he took the amazing shot while he was out walking in the Hornchurch Country Park in East London.

It turns out that this was not a cute and friendly picture as many of us would like to assume, or as it may appear at first glance. Experts believe that the most likely scenario to explain this photo is that the weasel was attempting to kill the woodpecker. Le-May seems to agree, from what he witnessed.

Le-May says that he was drawn to the area because he heard loud squawking. It sounded like a bird was in distressed. That is when he saw the once in a lifetime event.

Le-May says he might have saved the woodpecker’s life by distracting the weasel.

“I think we may have distracted the weasel, as when the woodpecker landed it managed to escape and the weasel ran into the grass,” Le-May told the BBC.

Rare Photo Catches A Weasel Riding On A Woodpecker 1

A long range photo of the incredible moment. Photo Credit: Martin Le-May

The photographer said that the bird and the weasel got roughly 10 feet into the air before landing again, at which point the bird managed to free itself and fly away. He estimates that both of the animals were unharmed in the incident.

“The woodpecker left with its life, the weasel just disappeared into the long grass, hungry,” he said.

As soon as the photo went viral, everyone was skeptical about whether or not the image was real.

Hany Farid, a professor of computer science at Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire, who researches digital forensics and image analysis, questioned the photo in an interview with National Geographic.

Farid says that the picture would be extremely difficult to forge, but the low resolution raises some questions.

This would have required a nearly perfect and coincidental alignment of the two animals in their original photos so that they could be composited together. This type of forgery is therefore more difficult to create than, for example, two animals simply standing side-by-side,” Farid said.

Rare Photo Catches A Weasel Riding On A Woodpecker 2

A close up of the image shows the woodpecker seems to be in fear for his life. Photo Credit: Martin Le-May

Farid concluded that the photo is likely real. A fact check on Snopes also indicates that this photo is real.

Wildlife expert Lucy Cooke told Snopes that weasels don’t often feed on birds, but they will if the birds get close enough to the ground.

“This is a truly extraordinary image. The green woodpecker is a ground-feeding bird, but weasels normally attack rabbits. The woodpecker is not its usual prey. But weasels are fearless. A female weasel weighs less than a Mars Bar but is as ferocious as a lion, so this is why the woodpecker would have been able to take off with it on its back,” Cooke said.

David Mizejewski, a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation, in Virginia, said while this event may not be very common, it does make sense.

Rare Photo Catches A Weasel Riding On A Woodpecker 3

A mid range shot of the pair in mid flight. Photo Credit: Martin Le-May

“While it looks like a bizarre event, it’s really not all that surprising if you know a little bit about these two species,” Mizejewski said.

As cute as Weasels may be, Mizejewski says that they can be quiet violent.

“The least weasel’s signature move is to sever the spinal cord of its prey with a bite to the neck, which is exactly what we’re seeing in the photo. The natural world is filled with wonders, and we have the chance of observing them firsthand if we get outside to experience them,” Mizejewski said.

The majority of woodpecker species feed on insects and other invertebrates that live under bark and inside of trees.  The diet includes ants, termites, beetles and their larvae, caterpillars, spiders, other arthropods, bird eggs, nestlings, small rodents, lizards, fruit, nuts and sap, according to Wikipedia.

Woodpeckers are tough birds, but would certainly have trouble holding their own in a fight against a weasel.

What do you think about this crazy once in a lifetime sight, captured by this amateur photographer?

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One Of The Largest Dog Meat Markets In South Korea Has Shut Down

After many years of controversy, Gupo Livestock Market in South Korea has finally agreed to stop selling dog meat. Gupo Market has been one of the largest dog meat markets in the country, which has made it a regular target for animal rights activists. The market was home to 19 different dog meat distributors, all of whom agreed to close their shops by July 11.

The dog meat sellers will be compensated by the government to the tune of 3.1 million won each month, which converts into about $2,700. Each of the sellers will receive the payments until December 2020. These payments are a part of a government plan to peacefully persuade the dog meat sellers to open up other businesses.

One Of The Largest Dog Meat Markets In South Korea Has Shut Down 1

Dogs waiting to be sold as food are in kept in a cage on a truck in Songnam. Photo Credit: Reuters

In a joint statement among four of the largest animal rights groups in the country, activists called the closure of the market a “big step forward.”

“We wholeheartedly welcome and support the district office’s effort to end the trade of dog meat in Korea. It is a big step forward, but Korea still has many such markets, including Chilseong Market in Daegu … We will continue to work with everyone to end the practice of eating dog meat,” the statement read, according to Korea Times.

It is estimated that anywhere between 1 and 2 million dogs are raised on farms across South Korea for the sole purpose of providing meat. Across Asia as a whole, roughly 30 million dogs are killed and eaten each year, many of them stray dogs or stolen pets.

The farmers and dog meat sellers in this industry are also said to be extremely cruel with the animals. Witnesses say that farmers torture dogs to death in front of the other dogs.

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Wonju, South Korea — A caged dog looks out of an opening of a dog farm in rural South Korea in February 2018. Photo Credit: Sandy Hooper of USA Today

Animal rights activist Nara Kim celebrated the closure of the Gupo Market in a recent statement. Kim said:

“The closure plan is the result of months of hard work between the local authorities and the market vendors, and both sides are to be commended for working towards this goal that will not only bring to an end to Gupo’s dog meat era, but will also see the area regenerated with new amenities and businesses for the benefit of the local, modern economy,” Kim said. 

Kim also pointed to the changing opinions in the country about dog meat.

“HSI has been working with dog meat farmers in South Korea for nearly four years helping them close their flagging businesses as more people in the county turn away from dog meat, so the closure of Gupo’s grimly iconic dog market, which follows the demolition last year of the country’s largest dog slaughterhouse complex, is a sign of more compassionate times,” Kim said.

survey by Gallup Korea conducted in June 2018 showed that 70 percent of South Koreans say they will not eat dog meat in the future. Experts say that people in the country are beginning to see these animals more as pets than as food.

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Activists from animal rights groups ‘Animal Liberation Wave’ and ‘Last Chance for Animals’ hold dead puppies retrieved from a dog meat farm, as they protest against the dog meat trade in Gwanghwamun Plaza in central Seoul, South Korea, on July 17, 2018. Photo Credit: Ed Jones of the AFP

On November 21st, 2018, South Korea closed the country’s main dog slaughterhouse, known as Taepyeong-dong. Now, the former slaughterhouse will be turned into a community park.

The consumption of dog meat in Asia can be traced all the way back to the times of the Mongol invasions.

Still, despite all these closures, there are roughly 17,000 dog markets remaining in South Korea.

While the practice was incredibly rare in the United States, killing dogs and cats for food was actually still legal until 2018. In December of last year, US President Donald Trump signed the Dog and Cat Meat Prohibition Act, which makes it a federal offense to slaughter, trade, import or export dogs and cats for human consumption. However, Native American tribes are still exempted for religious rituals.

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Bear Cub Feels Grass For First Time After Being Rescued From Filthy Basement [Video]

By Mandy Froelich / Truth Theory

An adorable bear cub has a new lease on life, thanks to the animal welfare group Four Paws International and Kosovo authorities. After living in a dark, filthy basement for most of its life, the bear cub now lives at the Bear Sanctuary Prishtina. Recently, he experienced grass for the first time ever. 

As GoodNewsNetwork reports, the cub had been liberated from a dark basement enclosure in Kosovo. Someone had been keeping him as a pet, which is against the law. After the cub was rescued, he was transported to his new home at the bear sanctuary.  The specialized sanctuary is home to other bears who have also been saved from neglectful situations.

Before he was allowed to experience the joys of nature, the bear cub underwent a thorough medical examination. Once he was deemed “healthy,” he was transported outside. The video below shows him running through the grass, feeling the sun on his face, and exploring his new home.

Safe haven for the bear cub in Kosovo!

A safe haven last! 🐻The recent tragic story about the bear cub in Kosovo, who was found to be living in terrible conditions in a dark garage, was not only touching for us, but it also moved many of your hearts.🧡Two weeks ago, we got the news we had all been hoping for, and we were finally able to bring him to our Bear Sanctuary Prishtina. Here you can see the emotional moment when the little bear explores his new beautiful enclosure for the first time! 🌳➡️ Please help us to look after this little wild animal in the future!

Gepostet von FOUR PAWS International am Dienstag, 25. Juni 2019

https://www.facebook.com/fourpaws.org/videos/464367954330208/

“We thank Ministry of Environment and Agency for Environment Protection for the trust in our professionalism to continue with the right treatment for the cub,” said Afrim Mahmuti, manager of the Bear Sanctuary Prishtina.

For the next six months, Four Paws International will care for the cub until he matures into adolescence. At that point, it will be determined whether or not the bear can be released into the wild. For now, he seems happy simply living at the sanctuary.

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Four steps to make your lawn a wildlife haven – from green desert to miniature rainforest

If you could ask British insects about the habitats they prefer, they’d probably tell you that you can’t improve on grassland that’s rich with wildflowers. For farmers, though, grassland is said to be “improved” if it has been treated with fertiliser and sown with fast growing grasses.

“Unimproved” grasslands are those that have not had their productivity improved for agriculture. They’re semi-natural habitats, because if mowing or grazing stopped, they’d quickly turn to scrub and then woodland. These unimproved grasslands are extremely rich in the number of species they can support, sometimes having well over 40 species of flowering plant in a single square metre.

But since World War II, 97% of unimproved grassland habitats have vanished from the UK. This has contributed to the loss of pollinating insects – and the distribution of one third of species has shrunk since 1980.

Left – Grassland in Transylvania, where agricultural ‘improvement’ has been limited. Right – Potwell Dykes, Nottinghamshire – how much of the UK’s lost grassland would have looked.
Adam Bates

If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, your lawn can be thought of as a small patch of artificial grassland, which will usually have only a few species of turf grass. Most suburbs and villages still have around a quarter to a third of their area covered by grass.

Unfortunately, lawns are largely featureless and offer little refuge for small creatures like bugs and other invertebrates. Regular mowing also prevents plants from flowering and producing seeds, which is why carefully maintained lawns are mostly barren.

A traditionally managed lawn. There are few plant species and little structure for bugs to exploit. Spiders, for instance, have nothing to anchor their webs to.
Adam Bates

But lawns can be made into important wildlife habitat by changing how they’re managed. This is an idea that’s gaining traction – campaigns such as “Say No to the Mow” have made an “unkempt” garden more socially acceptable. For anyone wanting to create a wildlife lawn in their garden, there are four important steps to follow.


Adam Bates

1. Cut higher

The first step is simple. By raising the height that the mower blade cuts the grass to its highest setting – usually about 4 cm off the ground – you can provide more variety in the lawn’s structure and more refuge for other plant and invertebrate species.

2. Include mowing gaps

Fox-and-cubs (Hieracium aurantiacum) help feed leafcutter bees.
Jörg Hempel/Wikipedia, CC BY-SA

By mowing less often you can allow plants time to flower and provide a food source for bees and other pollinators. Leaving gaps between mowing in spring gives time for species like the cowslip to flower – a plant which has declined markedly in the UK but which butterflies like the Duke of Burgundy depend on for laying their eggs.

Summer gaps can allow species like cat’s ear and fox-and-cubs time to flower, providing an important source of food for species of leafcutter bee. Deciding how long to wait between mowing isn’t an exact science, but can be judged by seeing whether or not the plants in your lawn have had a chance to flower.

3. No fertilisers or herbicides

“Weed and feeds” are used on lawns in a one-bottle mix of herbicide – used to kill non-grass species that we’d usually consider weeds – and fertiliser, to add nutrients to the soil. Herbicides reduce biodiversity by killing other species, but it may surprise you to learn that fertilisers are no friend to biodiversity either.

When gardening or farming, usually the more fertility in the soil the better, because this promotes greater productivity. In other words, more grass, greener grass, more flowers and larger flowers. The selective actions of the gardener or farmer to promote the target species, whether prized rose or crop, means that only the target species benefits.

Without this selectivity, more fertility in your lawn only favours the one or two turf species that are best able to take up nutrients and outcompete other species. So, more fertility means fewer plant species, despite the more luxuriant green colour.

4. Remove the clippings

Removing the grass clippings after you’ve mowed the lawn also reduces the fertility in your lawn, preventing it from becoming dominated by one or two competitive turf species. Removing and composting grass clippings will gradually remove nutrients from the soil, lowering the fertility with each cut.

Beyond these four steps for improving the value of your lawn to wildlife, there are other things that can be done by the more committed gardener. Leaving small areas of the lawn deliberately uncut – such as strips at the sides or patches in the corners – can help small wildflower meadows to form. Cutting these at the end of summer will prevent them overgrowing into rank grassland with few species.

Wildlife value can also be added by spreading some locally-sourced wildflower seed on your lawn. If you’re gathering seeds from elsewhere, make sure to ask permission and don’t take too much.

A single suburban wildflower lawn – multiple plant species that can flower and seed, and high structural diversity.
Adam Bates

Enjoying your wildflower lawn

Wildflower lawns can have a variety of other surprising benefits, not least helping to slow global warming. Some studies have shown that lawns are actually sources of carbon dioxide due to the amount of energy needed to power the mower and manufacture “weed and feeds”. Reducing how often you mow, not applying “weed and feeds” and even using a manual lawn mower can change your lawn from a carbon source to a carbon sink.

Having taller vegetation in your lawn shades the ground, thereby reducing evaporation from the soil and reducing the need for sprinklers and hosepipes. Less mowing means less work to do and more time for you to enjoy watching the bees gathering nectar and pollen from your wildflower lawn.

Wildflower lawns, with spikes of colourful flowers and attendant bees, at least to my eyes, are far prettier than a carpet of grass, whether it’s stripy or not. Grass – especially when not in flower – is the most aesthetically boring part of a grassland. The species that have traditionally been disregarded as “weeds” are far more interesting.

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