International World Tiger Day

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Tigers are on the brink of extinction and International World Tiger Day aims to bring attention to this fact & try to halt their decline. Many factors have caused their numbers to fall, including habitat loss, climate change, hunting & poaching. Tiger Day aims to protect and expand their habitats and raise awareness of the need for conservation.

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Red Panda

 

There is one very important factor that must be taken into account when photographing animals – luck! When you have an animal that spends a significant amount of time asleep in the trees, if it is staying still, with its face hidden there’s not much that you can do about it. Sometimes you need to look for an unusual angle or a break in the leaves.

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Night Skink

night skink

The night skink or the nocturnal desert skink is widely distributed in the western half of the Australian mainland interior, and becomes more common in the northern half of the Australian desert regions. Their preferred habitat is arid sand plains and inter-dunes with spinifex.

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Photo taken at Taronga Zoo, Sydney

White Cheeked Gibbon

white cheeked gibbon

The White Cheeked Gibbon, also known as the Northern White Cheeked Gibbon, is native to South East Asia, specifically in the tropical forests of Vietnam, Laos and China.

Gibbon habitat is being destroyed by the spread of agriculture deeper into mountainous areas, as well as logging for fuel wood and timber products. Loss of habitat is of particular concern in China and Vietnam. This species is also hunted for bushmeat and traditional medicines. It is presumed that the white cheeked gibbon is now extinct in China.

When born these gibbons are a pale golden or buff colour, gradually darkening to black over their first two years. When the gibbons reach sexual maturity the males will remain black, while the females like Nelly, revert to the buff colour.

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Photo taken at Taronga Zoo, Sydney

Monacled Cobra

monacled cobra

Monocled cobras are found from India in the west through to China, Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as on the Malay Peninsula and are native to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos, Nepal, and Thailand. They prefer habitats associated with water, such as paddy fields, swamps, and mangroves, but can also be found in grasslands, shrublands, and forests.

The monocled cobra gets it common name from the O-shaped, or monocellate hood pattern on the rear of its hood. It’s distinct to that of the Indian cobra or spectacled cobra which has a “spectacle” pattern, formed by the two circular ocelli connected by a curved line.

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Photo taken at Taronga Zoo, Sydney.

Baby Francois Langur

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The Francois Langur or Francois Leaf-monkey is born bright orange in colour which is believed to help with identification before its coat changes to black, with distinctive white cheek markings in maturity. They can be found in small populations in semi-tropical monsoon and moist tropical and sub-tropical rainforests in southern China, and north-eastern Vietnam.

These monkeys are under threat from habitat loss due to local cultivation and wood cutting for firewood as well as mining and other resource extraction. The isolation of populations due to habitat fragmentation also threatens the genetic viability of small populations. In some areas of China, the threat of hunting is extremely severe, due to the illegal production of “black ape wine,” which is made specifically from this species; the animals are even imported illegally from Vietnam for this purpose.

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Birds in flight

I’ve taken a lot of photos of birds but they almost all have something in common. They’re all sitting relatively still. I’ve yet to master taking photos of birds in flight. The swallows in the local park are just too fast to practice on so it was off to the Free Flight Bird Show at Taronga Zoo. Here I was guaranteed to find birds flying in a fairly predictable pattern and also birds that would soar rather than flap wildly!

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You can’t go past the birds of prey for providing an impressive silhouette against the blue of the sky and none in Australia are bigger than the wedge-tailed eagle with a wingspan of up to 2.3m.

bird show

Falcons might be smaller than the wedge-tailed eagle but they are still quite a sight!

I’m still not ready to head down to the local park again to try to capture the swallows in flight but I might try some of the larger and slower local birds soon…

Eyelash Viper

eyelash viper

The eyelash viper is a small species of pit viper that can be found in Central and South America. Their habitat ranges from tropical rainforests, wooded cloud and mountain forests to dense sea-level forests or streamside vegetation in lowlands and foothills.

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Photo taken at Taronga Zoo, Sydney.

Echidna

echidna

Echidnas are found all across Australia from desert, to forests and even alpine regions.

Using their pointed snouts and sharp claws, Short-beaked Echidnas break into ant and termite nests and catch their prey by flicking their long sticky tongues in and out.

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Hunter Valley

When I was a child we used to travel to the Upper Hunter Valley to visit my grandmother in a small country town. Many hours were spent looking out of the car window at the landscape passing by. It was a mixture of trees and open paddocks, some cows, sheep and horses, not to mention the kangaroos and even some vineyards.

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I recently returned there for the first time in around 30 years. While there are still plenty of trees, paddocks and animals between Sydney and the Upper Hunter, I was surprised at just how many mines there are as well.  A chain of mines all along the Hunter River load coal onto trains which then deliver it to the port in Newcastle.

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