Category Archives: Articles

Wildlife Encounters For Kids: School Activities Are Vital

Joshua/ February 17, 2020/ Articles/

Do you think children are too closeted these days? Do kids spend too much time inside in front of screens? Would many be better off enjoying the outdoors and spending some quality time in nature? Perhaps, it is due to our predilection for living in crowded big cities, rather than in more regional parts of the country? Limited access to the wide outdoors and the 21C in the grip of a digital device fever, combine, to make our children indoor Dick and Dora’s. Wildlife encounters for kids: school activities are vital, then, to help our youngsters engage with real life on this planet.

Getting Out of the Classroom is a Healthy Pursuit

The extraordinary wealth of school activities now available, like never before is a great boon for our school children. Bush walking, national parks, beach trips, Indigenous Australia orientation activities, wildlife zoos, science excursions, cultural display exhibitions and horticultural sessions – these are just a few of the many things to do. Sitting on bottoms in classrooms all day is not healthy for our young people. Endless digital searches through websites marketing kids’ activities is only the beginning of the adventure. We all need to do more, to get up off our chairs to exercise and engage with real life. School activities are vital for learning and inspiration, if the next generation are going to flourish.

Understanding & Respecting Wildness

Wildness is something we intellectually admire from a distance, We, as Homo sapiens, left wildness behind thousands of years ago. We have domesticated pets, livestock, cereal grains, and our environments. The recent coronavirus outbreak is thought to have originated in China via wild animal to human transfer. Perhaps, from a bat or something similar, in a region, where a large human population abuts wildlife. Wildlife can be dangerous; the clue is in the name ‘wild’. Nature is beautiful but it can kill you. Wildlife excursions for kids do need to be properly monitored.

A little bit of wildness is a good thing, as is a safe relationship with nature. Remember that we live mostly inside our own minds and that our conception of wildness is very much on the tame side. A gradual progression into activities involving nature is recommended, rather than taking young kids caving in Thailand. Leave the mountain climbing and the free falling to those with many years’ experience and training. Our kids desperately need more contact with the real world, but it requires skilled guidance to support their forays into nature. Baby It’s a wild world!

What We Can Learn from Nature

Joshua/ June 4, 2018/ Articles/

Some would say we learn everything from nature, as we are a part of nature. However, as human beings over the millennia, we have categorised ourselves as masters of nature and outside of it, wherever possible. The Judaeo-Christian religions sought to lift mankind above all other animals through its connection with a supernatural entity who lived everywhere and in heaven. The religious rules taught us that all the plants and animals were here for our purposes. This ethos has not served the planet well over the long term, with mass degradation and extinction of environment and species resulting. What we can learn from nature is now more paramount than ever.

We Can Live in Harmony with Each Other

It is, in my opinion, a gross conceit, to consider ourselves so far above the rest of nature. We are a part of it, not its reason for being here, and we are all, holistically connected. The sooner that we all realise this and stop ranting about invisible beings and supernatural entities, the sooner we can live in harmony with each other. A belief in spirit as distinct from matter is an unhealthy philosophy to hold. Matter is infused with a living spirit or energy, but you cannot separate the two for any philosophical purposes.

The Creation of Balanced Human Beings

Finding direction within our lives is an important first step in moving toward a clearer future. Looking at the environment around us, and the creatures who share our ecology, can provide salient lessons in how we approach our own lives. This is why contact with nature and diversity is so important for the creation of balanced human beings. Living apart from nature in urban settings only fuels problems via unhealthy attitudes in these human beings.

The Good Life is Full of Grace & Dignity

A study of animals and how they move can contribute to finding solutions to serious pain caused by mobility problems. Interacting with nature in all its forms can provide benefits for both us and nature. Respect for our environment cannot be emphasised enough for our future generations and right now. If we take from nature, we must give back to nature. Life is best served by give and take in all things. The good life is one that interacts with the world around it, with grace and dignity. What we can learn from nature is never ending in scope and consequences.

Hellbenders A Great Part of the Salamander Family

Joshua/ May 25, 2016/ Articles/

Some people love their newts, sirens and salamanders: I must admit that I am not one of them. Your traditional witch’s spell recipe calls for ‘eye of newt’; so your witch is fairly familiar with one part of the amphibian family. These slimy creatures can breathe on land and in water; and some ­­­­­­salamanders grow to incredible sizes. The Chinese giant salamander can grow up to 1.8m long and weigh around 50kg; that is a lot of slimy creature to consider. They call them hellbenders because people used to only discover them inside burning logs during a fire.

Hellbenders A Great Part of the Salamander Family

Yes, the salamander is a shy creature, not one to draw too much attention to himself or herself. And sex and gender are often in a pretty pickle with these cucumber like slimies. Salamandroidea is an internally fertilising salamander, and it produces a shapely sperm package (spermatophe); the perfect anniversary or engagement present. This sperm package is then picked up by the female’s cloaca (do you know where your wife’s cloaca is located?). The male gets the female into the right position by way of his dorsally projecting spike at the base of his tail (sounds sort of familiar) and gets himself under her (girls on top stuff) and inserts his spike into her cloaca. She then absorbs the spermatophore’s sperm-filled cap (evolution has obviously tried a few reproductive ideas with a common theme, I reckon).

So, there is a vast array of salamanders, some with legs and some with not, some really big and some really small. Salamanders come in just about every colour under the rainbow and then some. Pink and penis like, spotted and ribbed like an exotic condom, lizard like with yellow G-stripes, dark newts, sirens like long thick eels with teeth, Asian giant salamanders like some pre-historic creature from our dim past, and slimy slug-like creatures with a penchant for not doing much. There are around 655 recognised living salamander species; so plenty of types of salamanders for all tastes and inclinations. The Australian Community Of Greens (ACM Group) is a community of Axolotl lovers, which is the only species of salamander allowed in Australia.

Some of their biological and behavioural features include: prehensile tails, beaks, tree-climbing, defensive spikes, intra-uterine cannibalism, tail shedding under duress, neoteny, nuptial dancing, cave-dwelling, exotic warning displays, bizarre digital development and purely aquatic salamanders. The complete fruit salad, you would have to say. Hellbenders a great part of the salamander family for sure. As long as you like slimy.

 

 

The Mating and Reproductive Strategies of Salamanders

Joshua/ May 23, 2016/ Articles/

The term “salamander” originates from the Greek word “salamandra” which means “fire animal.” This is because salamanders usually turn up in logs that were set on fire.  As amphibians, salamanders can breathe and live in water or on land. However, adult amphibians get to live on land and only come back in water when it is time to propagate and multiply.

Mating Background in Salamanders

The sex life of salamanders is quite amusing. Throughout the breeding season, both sexes of the salamanders search for potential mates. This happens during the first warm rains of spring to steer clear of extreme environmental conditions. There are species of salamanders, like the California newts, that pick out their possible partners by smelling them. For European crested newts, the male salamanders express their keenness and willingness to mate by changing their skin colours or patterns. In the case of terrestrial salamanders, they locate their breeding pond through their sense of smell and migrate there.

Male salamanders “woo” their possible mate by giving off pheromones directed to the female salamanders. The male specie will court the female by progressing towards her and waggling his tail. If the female specie wants to mate, she will participate in the dance wherein the “couple” will walk or swim around each other. Other species of male salamanders show off through elaborate displays in attracting the opposite sex. Male newts, such as Triturus spp., grow enlarged dorsal fins in alluring their mates.

Reproductive Modes of Salamanders

Around 90 percent of all species of salamanders reproduce via internal fertilisation. In here, the male salamander will deposit a spermatophore on the ground, rock or stick and leads the female into the area. Spermatophores are bundles of sperms, comprised of 80-100 sperms depending on the season. The female salamander will then pick up the spermatophore using her cloacal lips and proceed to a pond or ditch. There, she will lay eggs which she’ll brood to keep the eggs moisture-ladden. There are also types of female salamanders, like the European fire salamander, that retain the eggs inside her until the eggs make it to the larval stage.

Some salamanders undergo external fertilisation. It involves the female salamanders laying eggs in nests under a rock. The male salamander will then fertilise the eggs and watch over the nest until the young hatch in 2-3 months.