Beautiful. As we say in Polish it has 'wise eyes'. Can I say like that in English? I am in this part of human race which prefers dogs to cats. Not long time past we have had three dogs, unfortunately now only one, the two died almost one by one, they were really old... Ooooh life....
Marmots which live in the Tatra mountains still haven't woken up from their winter hibernation, even though it is the middle of April.
This is good news for skiers in the area surrounding Kasprowy Wierch, the peak which towers above the southern ski resort of Zakopane, and also the home of the Marmots.
When the four-legged creatures wake from their winter slumber they can cause havoc for skiers in the area, but Pawe³ Skawiñski from the Tatra National Park says that for the time being all ski runs remain open:
"Usually around this time the marmots dig out from their holes, at this moment in time there may be one or two which have come up to the surface. It is all very well organised, as soon as there are more we will contain the areas around Kasprowy Wierch with netting and close the ski runs. We will also send out more Marmot patrols and we ask all skiers to stay on-piste as there may be some Marmots just around the corner."
Tatra Park Rangers will only be checking for skiers who do not adhere to Mr. Skawinski's plea, with a fine for anyone who veers off-piste.
For the time being the Marmots are safe, as the strong mountain Halny wind has stopped the cable car from going up to the top of Kasprowy Wierch.
Rare seahorse birth in Krakow 13.07.2009 15:04 The Aquarium and Museum of Natural History in Krakow saw the exceptional birth of 100 seahorses Sunday, fifteen of whom survived the adaptation process. Seahorses rarely reproduce in captivity and are very delicate creatures, thus, the fact that the Krakow museum now boasts 15 young ‘seaponies’ is exceptional. The parents come from the Indian Ocean, near Sri Lanka. “The babies feel great. We have situated them ideally, as close to a natural environment as this unusual birth can be. I would estimate that, for every 1000 [seahorse] births in the natural world, about five survive. That shows the rarity of this situation,” stated Michal Popek from the Aquarium. After the adaptation period is over, the fifteen sea creatures will be moved to a 2,000 litre tank to live with their parents.
The gestation period of a seahorse is 2-4 weeks, during which time the male seahorse carries the birth pouch and gives birth to the babies. The ‘ponies’ born in Krakow measure about 3 mm and eat a specially prepared plankton until they will be large enough to hunt larger plankton and mini shrimp. (mmj)
European bison on 'genetic brink' Matt Walker Editor, Earth News
Europe's largest mammal, the European bison, remains extremely vulnerable to extinction, despite long-standing efforts to save it, new research shows.
One of the two remaining wild herds of pure bred European bison is down to an effective population size of just 25.
That is despite the actual number of wild bison in the herd having steadily risen to around 800.
The effective population measures the bison's genetic diversity, and can help predict the animal's survival chances.
At 3m long, 2m tall and weighing up to 900kg, the European bison (Bison bonasus) is Europe's heaviest surviving land mammal.
It survives in the wild in just a few herds, the two largest of which live on either side of the Bialowieza forest which straddles Belarus and Poland.
While European bison can interbreed with American bison (Bison bison), they are generally considered to be separate species, having considerable genetic and morphological differences.
However, the species has a tortured history.
For hundreds of years, the European bison was protected across large parts of its European range, being considered 'King's game' protected by the monarchy and Russian tsars that conquered Poland.
But early in the 20th Century, its numbers crashed as people left hungry by World War I and a lack of protection saw ruthless poaching of the animals for meat and hide.
By 1919, none were left in the wild.
Back from the dead
"So in the 1920s, biologists decided to reconstruct the population out of the few individuals left in the public and private collections and zoological gardens," says Malgorzata Tokarska of the Mammal Research Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences, in Bialowieza, Poland.
Of 54 European bison left in the world at the time, just four bulls and three cows went on to found the surviving pure-bred population. Of those alive today, all originate from just from just one bull, with 90% of all their genes coming from two founders.
Today's population stands at around 1400 spread all over the world. The only wild animals live in the Bialowieza forest, with around 400 individuals on either side of the border. European bison (Bison bonasus)
To quantify the impact of the 20th Century bottleneck, Tokarska and colleagues Agata Kawalko, Jan Wojcik and Cino Pertoldi genetically sampled 178 individuals at 12 different points in their genome.
By testing the skulls and frozen soft tissues of long-dead animals, as well as live animals, the team could analyse bison born each decade from 1950 onwards.
Despite the growth in actual bison numbers, the genetic tests have revealed that the herd contains an effective population of just 25 animals, the team report in the Biological Journal of the Linnaean Society.
The effective population of any group of animals will be lower than the number that actually exist, due to factors such as non-breeding individuals or a skewed sex ratio.
But it's clear that the European bison has not recovered from the genetic bottleneck it suffered during the early 20th Century.
Usually, a population of animals must have an effective genetic population of 50 animals to be considered to be safe from an immediate threat of extinction caused by the dangerous effects of inbreeding or having too few alleles to adapt to new environments.
"They are highly inbred and closely related and the genetic surveys confirmed that," says Tokarska.
"We could pretend that we have a big plan, but honestly, there's not much we can do. We can not enrich the genetics using breeding methods, since there are no out-bred animals. They all come from the same seven founders."
"Mostly, we can work on maintaining the bison-friendly environment and widen it," she says.
Tokarska is also just beginning to analyse the remaining Belarus bison.
Though they originate from the same animals, the other herd does have some slight genetic differences.
If they are confirmed it may be possible to bring bison together from the two herds to further improve the species' survival chances, she says.
The Nietoperek Bat reserve, part of the second world war Miedzyrzecz Fortifications (underground bunker system), in the west of Poland is home to some of Europe's rarest bat species, including: Greater Mouse-eared, Barbastelle, Bechstein's, Whiskered, Natterer's, Brown Long-eared, Serotine and several others.
An extensive subterranean system of defences, often referred to as the Miedzyrzecz fortifications (Ostwall), were built for German troops along the previous German - Polish border from 1933 through to the end of the second world war in 1945. Today, sections of this underground bunker complex serve as perhaps the most important winter hibernation roost in Europe, for at least 12 species of bats.
During winter months large numbers of some of the rarest bat species converge in the passages of the Miedzyrzecki underground bunker system around the village of Nietoperek near Miedzyrzecz. True bat numbers are almost impossible to ascertain because the entire system cannot be investigated thoroughly. Many of the tunnels are so full of water that entering them is virtually impossible. However, most researchers agree that the number of bats present here during the winter months number between 20,000 and 30,000. Many of these bats are rare or endangered species such as the barbastelles and mouse eared bat.
The bats travel from as far away as western Germany, the Czech republic and throughout Poland to this unique hibernation roost in October each year. The area around Miedzyrzecz itself is home to only a small all year round bat population, the biggest of these is a colony of mouse-eared bats, which breed in and around the village of Nietoperek.
Some of the Europe's rarest bat species, including; the Greater Mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis), Barbastelle bat (Barbastella barbastellus), Bechstein's bat (Myotis bechsteini), Whiskered bat (Myotis mystacinus), Natterer's bat (Myotis nattereri), Daubenton's bat (Myotis daubentonii), brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus), Northern bat (Eptesicus nilsonii), Brandt's bat (Myotis brandtii), Pond bat (Myotis dasycneme), and the Serotine bat (Eptesicus serotinus) have been found roosting in the Nietoperek bat reserve in Lubuskie, western Poland.
The underground tunnel system is in many ways an ideal place for bats to hibernate, not least because the temperature in these corridors is a constant +10c. If during a bat's winter hibernation its temperature drops below zero the bats will freeze to death or die of starvation. If it is too warm, bats will starve to death due to the rise in the metabolic rate causing the burn-up of their fat reserves. Unfortunately, the future of this valuable bat roost is by no means certain due to unthinking tourists and locals, and less than perfect management of the reserve.
Polish cows help protect rare birds 05.01.2010 13:27
Twenty five cows will be handed over for free to farmers in eastern Poland to graze in the open, creating an ideal habitat for the Lesser Spotted Eagle.
This is a part of a project aimed at protecting this large Eastern European bird of prey, launched in Poland thanks to funds from the European Union and the National Nature Protection Fund.
The farmers are expected to breed the cattle and hand over the young to other farmers in the region. The program focuses on improving the habitat of the Lesser Spotted Eagle in Bialowieza and Knyszynska Forest.
The project, which costs 19 million zlotys or about 4.6 million euro, provides also for erecting 300 wooden posts enabling the eagles to look out for prey in the open fields, mowing overgrown deserted fields and creating small water reservoirs. The Lesser Spotted Eagle prefers damp terrain, says Roman Kalski from the Polish Bird Protection Society. Work on building threshold on rivers to retain water in the area has already begun.
About 1,900 pairs of the Lesser Spotted Eagle nest in Poland.
Polish scientists to bring back extinct giant cattle? 22.02.2010 12:02
Depiction of auroch - "Augsburg depiction of an Auerochs." (1927)
Polish scientists plan to bring back the long extinct auroch – an ancestor to domestic cattle - back to life with a little help from laboratory mice and rabbits.
The auroch, or urus, survived in Europe till the 17th century. The last one, a female, died of natural causes in 1627 in central Poland. Its skull is preserved in a museum in Stockholm.
The aurochs were impressive quarry animals with a shoulder height exceeding 2 meters and weighing around 1,000 kg.
The aurochs recreation project has been masterminded by scholars from the Poznan-based Human Genetics Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences. They want to breed the aurochs’ cell from its DNA preserved to this day.
“First though, we need mice and rabbits to find out if the DNA can function properly,” says Professor Ryszard Slomski. If the experiments are successful, the cells will be cloned and cross-bred with animal species most closely related to the aurochs.
But some specialists are worried whether there is room for the aurochs in Poland today. Its traditional habitats have been taken over by the European bison and their peaceful co-existence is unlikely. Professor Slomski is unperturbed. His team have already received enquiries from the Netherlands, which would gladly welcome the aurochs.
The auroch is not the only extinct animal fuelling the imagination of scientists worldwide. The list of animals awaiting recreation is long and includes: the mammoth, the saber-toothed tiger, the Tasmanian wolf, the dodo and even the Neanderthal man.
The Biebrza marshes in north-eastern Poland, one of Europe’s most treasured habitats, is the place to be now if you want to have a good look at the spring migration of birds.
Huge flocks, numbering up to several thousand birds, which move from the south to the north of the continent, make a stop-over there to feed and rest. Some species, like the threatened great snipe and the aquatic warbler, mate and breed in the area. Bird experts and watchers swarm the scenic marshes to sneak a look at the geese, cranes, terns and corncrakes.
An extra attraction are spectacular courtship rituals of the moor frogs, slim, reddish-brown amphibians. The males develop a striking blue color for a few days at this time of the year and form breeding choruses, which sing out loud using their guttural vocal sacs. It is as if the swamps were gurgling, observers say.
The Biebrza National Park is the biggest in Poland, covering over 59,000 hectares, which are a habitat for many rare species of wildlife and plants. (kk0
* Jasiek 29.03.2010 16:49 The marshes, the locals lifestyle throughout the four seasons and the comical frogs were all introduced by a HDTV documentary programme in Japan a couple of years ago. www.nhk.or.jp/special/onair/070826.html (Though you may not understand Japanese you can still click the photos to enlarge them) The film was so beautiful I recorded it on a DVD.
The TV station has its own DVD version on sale. www.nhk-ep.com/shop/commodity_param/ctc/+/shc/0/cmc/11633AA Jasiek * Jasiek 29.03.2010 16:57 The programme not only shows the beauty of the marshes but explains how its ecosystem works, a cruicial part of which are the local people's traditional lifestyle that may look inefficient at a glance but in fact has been sustainable for millennia - since the proto-Slavic times. Jasiek
The red-eared slider or terrapin, native to North America are set to conquer Polish ponds, after bored pet owners release them into parks.
More and more of them can be spotted in Warsaw parks, like Skaryszewski, Lazienki and Wilanow. They are released by people who bought them as family pets, but realized how unsuitable they are to be kept at home or simply got bored with the animal, which can live up to 40 years.
A few years ago, specialists were not sure if the red-eared slider, which lives in southern parts of the United States, can survive in the Polish climate. Now they know they can.
“They survived the harsh winter and are laying eggs in the spring,” Mariusz Lech, a reptile and amphibian specialist at Warsaw Zoo told Gazeta Wyborcza.
The red eared slider is regarded as an alien species in Poland. It poses a threat to native wildlife, especially the protected European pond turtle as it is bigger and stronger. There are no European pond turtles in Warsaw, however, and the red-eared can be an attraction in the city parks, provided there are not too many of them.
“They are voracious animals, which can easily deprive small water reservoirs of their plant life and small animals. They are like the Colorado beetle in the past. Like them, they came from America,” says Mariusz Lech.
The red-eared sliders are sold by pet shops as cute little animals the size of a coin. But after two-three years they are already big (up to 40 cm), smelly and aggressive animals. That’s when many owners decide to release them into ponds. Perhaps Warsaw needs a shelter for exotic animals, as traditional animal shelters are bursting at the seams.
Last year, environmental patrol guards recovered over 1,000 exotic pets from the streets of Warsaw, such as snakes, lizards, iguanas, crabs and turtles.
An ‘animal census’ has wound up in the region of Podkarpacie, south eastern Poland and according to the Regional Forestry in Kosno, the woods of Podkarpacie arte home to 450 wolves, over 120 bears, 200 lynx and 300 European bison.
There are also large settlements of beavers, Edward Marszałek from the Regional Forestry told Polish Radio, adding that wolves and beavers are the least liked animals by the local population, due to damage done by these animals.
The forests of Podkarpacie give shelter to dears, boars and elks. The growing number of foxes and raccoon dogs greatly contribute to the diminishing of the population of hares and partridges, while otters ravage the region’s fish farms.
Podkarpacie is Poland’s most important mainstay of wild animals. It is the only region, which is home to such a great number of predators and herbivores.
Poland Blames the Beaver Christian Pollok | 27th May 2010
While emergency teams throughout Poland fend off flood waters, beavers are blamed for having caused additional inundations
Is the beaver "the greatest enemy of the flood defences"? According to Jerzy Miller, Polish minister of the interior, there is no doubt. "They live everywhere along the levees on the Wisła River and cause a lot of damage to them," the Daily Telegraph cited. Since torrential rain caused rivers to swell beyond emergency levels in southern Poland almost two weeks ago, the surge has spread further to the regions of Wrocław and Warsaw.
As the nocturnal rodents are known for building dams, canals and lodges as their natural habitat, beavers complicated and interfered with efforts undertaken by emergency forces to fight the floods. By gnawing through dykes, digging tunnels in dams and thus sapping protective barriers from the inside, beavers caused further flooding. So far, the flood claimed 16 victims and around 4,000 people had to be evacuated. Overall, about 20,000 people were affected by the deluge.
During the course of the catastrophe, local governments increased the hunting quota on the apparently unconcerned beaver to mitigate the problem. Hitherto protected by the state, the Castor fiber (European beaver) seems to have lost its environmental immunity in Polish inshore waters. The number of the semi-aquatic rodents living in Poland is estimated at around 50,000. Ironically, beavers have just been recently repopulated in Poland and other European countries, after having been over-hunted. Almost extinct in the middle of the 19th century, the beaver experienced a huge comeback due to successful protection programmes and advocacy by conversationists.
Yet, blaming and preying on the beaver appears, once again, to be a way of dealing with the unforeseen consequences of human actions. It is not the first time that Poland experienced such a devastating flood. In 1997, when the country was hit by the most severe deluge in recent history, 54 people died, more than 150,000 people were evacuated and the overall damages accounted for billions of euros. The question remains, what measures have been taken to prevent and deal with such emergencies?
The present amount of damages is estimated at around 2.5 billion euro. The Polish government is said to be spending 500 million euro on new housing and reconstruction. While the water levels are sinking back to normal in the southern Małopolska region, security and emergency forces are still coping with dangerous floodwaters flowing to the northern and western parts of the country.