Deer hunters face unwanted competition as feral hog explosion thins herds

This photo, provided by, shows a herd of wild hogs feasting on a deer fawn.

This photo, provided by, shows a herd of wild hogs feasting on a deer fawn.(

Deer hunters are facing competition from a source that is mean, relentless and out of control.

The explosion of feral hogs across the U.S. is threatening the deer population — spreading disease, dominating the food chain and even, on occasion, killing and eating fawns. In Louisiana, where there are an estimated 700,000 wild hogs, hunters and wildlife officials say they are taking a toll on the whitetail deer herd.

“They are in the marshes and beaches of Louisiana all the way up into the hills and piney woods and swamps,” Jim LaCour, state wildlife veterinarian for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, told “They’re in every habitat in the state.”

“If you start to see hogs in your hunting area, you are absolutely not going to see deer.”

– hunter Justin Lanclos

“They’re very adaptable and also highly destructive,” LaCour said.

LaCour described the feral pigs, which can weigh up to 500 pounds, as “opportunistic” eaters — omnivores that feast on anything crossing their path, including deer fawn, other piglets and dead animals.

LaCour said hogs carry many diseases, such as leptospirosis, which can infect or kill other animals, like deer, as well as humans.

“Hogs are the sport utility vehicle for disease and parasites — they move them across the landscape,” he said. “That bacteria [leptospirosis] can cause abortion in the deer – and it can kill adult deer or people.”

Their presence is also detrimental to the land, forcing wildlife officials to carry out aerial gunning in certain areas “because they tear up the marsh and that leads to coastal erosion.”

Hogs were first introduced to North America by Spanish settlers. The breed most commonly seen in Texas is a mixture of those hogs and Russian boars brought over more recently for sport hunting, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Some speculate the population boom is due to relatively recent cross-breeding in the wild. Others, like LaCour, say the popularity of hog hunting in the 1980’s and early ’90’s led humans to move the feral pigs from confined, geographically isolated areas into places they had never been before.

Wild hogs can reproduce by the time they are 6 months old. Feral sows can have two litters per year averaging six piglets per litter, according to wildlife experts. Statisticians have determined that 75 percent of the population must be harvested to maintain a static population — prompting Louisiana and other states to adopt liberal hunting policies when it comes to killing the hogs. Texas has the highest rate of feral hogs to date, according to environmentalists.

For deer hunter Justin Lanclos, the very sighting of a feral pig means trouble.

“If you start to see hogs in your hunting area, you are absolutely not going to see deer,” said Lanclos, a 33-year-old bowhunter from Sulthur, La.

“Deer are extremely smart and elusive,” Lanclos told “They just don’t like to occupy the same area as hogs.”

Lanclos, the owner of retailer Louisiana Bowhunter, said he recently received a photo showing a herd of hogs — or sounder — running off with a whitetail fawn. The image, believed to have been taken in Louisiana, has since gone viral on social media.

“We’ve got other photos of feral hogs carrying fawns,” noted LaCour. “If the hogs are coming through a field and they happen to come across it, they’re going to eat it.”

Researchers in Nepal confirm first case of TB in a rhino

(Deborah McCauley)

(Deborah McCauley)

Researchers at a wildlife conservation preserve in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park, have announced the first confirmed case of tuberculosis (TB) in a young female Asian One-horned rhino. This discovery is the first infectious disease discovered in the rhino population and a crucial step in the fight for rhino conservation.

The discovery has been published in a paper in Emerging Infectious Disease and is the result of research that began in 2012. The research called on experts and organizations that included the Veterinary Initiative for Endangered Wildlife (VIEW), the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC).

Related: Rare Sumatran rhino sighted in Indonesian Borneo

Although poaching has been eliminated altogether since 2013, Chitwan National Park still saw 31 rhino deaths due to unknown circumstances over the past five years. Until recently, the inability to pinpoint the cause of these deaths was due to a lack of having proper systems in place to investigate the culprit.

Researchers discovered that the organism responsible for causing TB in the rhino is part of the Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Complex (MTBC) group. It is a close relative of organisms that cause TB in humans and cattle. They also noted that in 2014, the World Health Organization reported 9.6 million new TB cases each year in the world’s human population.

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Deborah McCauley, founder and executive director of VIEW, told FoxNews.coml that the discovery of TB in rhinos will fuel debate about how to best serve the human and animal populations that could potentially be affected. In the case of the rhinos, poaching and habitat encroachment are often at the top of the intervention lists, but disease, the third issue, has the potential to be the greatest threat, she said.

“We have suspected for several years now that disease was the missing piece to the conservation puzzle,” explained McCauley, via email. “Now that we have firm evidence of TB, we can help the parks to understand the risk of TB and other diseases threatening precious, endangered species in order to help prevent further spread.”

America’s only wild jaguar caught on video

An image taken from a camera trap of El Jefe, the only known wild jaguar in the United States (Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity)

An image taken from a camera trap of El Jefe, the only known wild jaguar in the United States (Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity)

For the first time, viewers are getting the chance to glimpse the secretive world of ‘El Jefe.’

In a video released Wednesday by Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity, the jaguar can be seen walking through a forest and across a stream in the Santa Rita Mountains just outside Tucson.

“These glimpses into his behavior offer the keys to unlocking the mysteries of these cryptic cats” Aletris Neils, executive director of Conservation CATalyst, said in a statement. “We are able to determine he is an adult male jaguar, currently in prime condition. Every new piece of information is important for conserving northern jaguars and we look forward to building upon on these data so that we can collectively make better decisions on how to manage these fascinating and endangered cats.”

Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity released new video today of the only known wild jaguar currently in the United States.Captured on remote sensor cameras in the Santa Rita Mountains just outside of Tucson, the dramatic footage provides a glimpse of the secretive life of one of nature’s most majestic and charismatic creatures. This is the first-ever publicly released video of the #jaguar, recently named ‘El Jefe’ by Tucson students, and it comes at a critical point in this cat’s conservation. Learn more here:

Posted by Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Related: How a Great Wall of America could seal fate of border’s endangered species (and us, too)

Jaguars, which are the third-largest cats in the world after tigers and lions – once lived throughout the American Southwest, with historical reports on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the mountains of Southern California and as far east as Louisiana. But the endangered cat has gradually disappeared from its U.S. range over the past 150 years, mostly due to habitat loss and hunting efforts at the behest of the livestock industry.

“Studying these elusive cats anywhere is extremely difficult, but following the only known individual in the U.S. is especially challenging,” Chris Bugbee, a biologist with Conservation CATalyst, said. “We use our specially trained scat detection dog and spent three years tracking in rugged mountains, collecting data and refining camera sites; these videos represent the peak of our efforts.”

CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity are hoping the video motivates officials in Arizona to offer greater protection to jaguars as well as ocelots. The hope is that El Jefe will be joined by other jaguars that wander up from Mexico, a goal that increased in likelihood after the Center helped secure more than 750,000 acres of federally protected critical habitat for U.S. jaguar recovery.

Related: Whales return to Long Island Sound after long hiatus

“Just knowing that this amazing cat is right out there, just 25 miles from downtown Tucson, is a big thrill,” Randy Serraglio, conservation advocate with the Center, said. “El Jefe has been living more or less in our backyard for more than three years now. It’s our job to make sure that his home is protected and he can get what he needs to survive.”

El Jefe has been photographed repeatedly by remote sensor cameras in the Santa Ritas over the past few years. He is the only verified jaguar in the United States, since Macho B was euthanized as a result of injuries suffered in March 2009.

The confirmed presence of El Jefe could help rally opposition against a huge copper mine in the area being proposed by a Canadian company. Opponents of the mine fear it could permanently destroy thousands of acres of federal protected jaguar habitat while supporters said it could give a much needed boost to Arizona’s economy – which has long depended upon mining.

Related: New Mexico ranching family tells feds: Don’t fence us out

“The Rosemont Mine would destroy El Jefe’s home and severely hamstring recovery of jaguars in the United States,” Serraglio said. “At ground zero for the mine is the intersection of three major wildlife corridors that are essential for jaguars moving back into the U.S. to reclaim lost territory. The Santa Rita Mountains are critically important to jaguar recovery in this country, and they must be protected.”

Available here

Ancient mini kangaroos had no hop, they scurried

Skull of Cookeroo hortusensis, a new species of ancient kangaroo from the Riversleigh World Heritage area.

Skull of Cookeroo hortusensis, a new species of ancient kangaroo from the Riversleigh World Heritage area.(Kaylene Butler)

Two newly described species of tiny kangaroos that lived between 18 million and 23 million years ago scurried rather than hopped, a new study finds. But although these pint-size kangas were short on bounce, they outperformed their fanged kangaroo relatives, which lived alongside them and eventually went extinct, researchers say.

In a recent study, researchers described a new kangaroo genus, Cookeroo,and two new species: Cookeroo bulwidarri, dated to about 23 million years ago,and Cookeroo hortusensis, which lived between 18 million and 20 million years ago.

Both species were found at the Riversleigh World Heritage area in northwestern Queensland, Australia, a location recognized as one of the richest fossil deposits in the world, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Center.

According to Kaylene Butler, the study’s lead author, the new genus occupies a position near the base of the kangaroo family tree that includes all modern kangaroos and wallabies, their close relatives. Butler, a paleontologist at the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Queensland in Australia, told Live Science in an email that the team figured out where to place Cookeroo by comparing 119 different features representing 69 kangaroo species.

Cookeroo is distinguished as a genus by the combination of a number of features on the skull and teeth” — points of comparison that were also used to distinguish between the two new species, Butler said.

The newfound minikangaroos are “the size of very small wallabies,” with bodies that probably measured about 17 to 20 inches (42 to 52 centimeters) long, Butler said. The landscape at the time was very different from the arid outback it is today, Butler said. C. bulwidarri and C. hortusensis likely inhabited a dense forest, moving through it on all fours and sharing it with a diverse collection of animals: marsupial moles, feather-tailed possums, ancient koalas and crocodiles.

Cookeroo also lived alongside other species of small kangaroos that were part of the ancestral group for kangas alive today, as well as a related group of fanged kangaroos, Butler told Live Science.The fanged kangaroos were also plant eaters, and they probably competed with the ancestors of modern kangaroos over their habitat’s vegetation. “However, the fanged kangaroos went extinct, while the ancestors of modern kangaroos continued to diversify and thrive,” Butler said.

The direct competition between the two groups may have contributed to the fanged kangaroos’ extinction, Butler suggested in a statement, though it is not certain what features provided Cookeroo with the advantage.

“The fossil record for kangaroos is quite rich,” Butler said. “We have giant kangaroos from the Pleistocene [2.6 million to 11,700 years ago] and Pliocene [5.3 million to 2.6 million years ago], as well as other sites similar in age to Riversleigh where we see our tiny ancestors of modern kangaroos as well as the fanged kangaroos.”

However, there is still much to learn about kangaroo evolution, and new fossil finds help to bring this ancient lineage more clearly into focus, Butler said.

“Hopefully, further study of these new species will help us understand just what is so special about the ancestors of modern kangaroos — why did they survive when, at the same time, the fanged kangaroos went extinct.”

The findings were published online Feb. 17 in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Bald eagles make a big comeback in Boston

Bald eagle sightings in the Boston area are skyrocketing. And that's great news for the bird and the city.

Bald eagle sightings in the Boston area are skyrocketing. And that’s great news for the bird and the city. (Scott Mason/The Winchester Star via AP)

A symbol of America is once again flying high above one of the nation’s most historic cities. “I had never seen one in my life before,” Tom Palmer tells theBoston Globe.

“It’s exciting. These are American icons.” Late last month, the 60-year-old Massachusetts resident spotted his first bald eagle. And he’s not alone. Reports of bald eagle sightings are pouring in from around the Boston area.

“They are too big to escape notice,” Palmer says. The AP reports there were 51 confirmed breeding pairs of bald eagles in the state last year.

That’s the most since the birds were reintroduced to Massachusetts in 1982. And it’s part of a trend seen nationwide. There were 10,000 or so pairs of bald eagles in the continental US when they were taken off the endangered list in 2007.

That’s 20 times as many as in 1963. One ornithologist says the resurgence is partly due to bald eagles getting more used to humans and humans getting more used to not shooting bald eagles.

Another says it’s a sign that the waters around Boston are getting healthier, providing good fishing for breeding eagles. “Once rare and threatened with extinction, the national symbol can now be seen from the comfort of your car,” the Washington Post states.

But that can also be its own problem. Bald eagles are increasingly being hit by cars while eating roadkill. Last year, a 38-year-old bald eagle—the country’s oldest—suffered that fate.

The problem is compounded by eagles getting lead poisoning by eating the remains of deer shot by hunters. “It’s like they’re flying drunk,” one veterinary director tells the Post.

(Some eagles may also be making themselves sick by eating euthanized animals.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Bald Eagles Make Big Comeback in Boston

Scientists discover prehistoric ‘Jurassic butterfly’

This is an artist's rendering of Oregramma illecebrosa consuming pollen drops from bennettitales, an extinct order of plant from the Triassic period. (Vichai Malikul)

This is an artist’s rendering of Oregramma illecebrosa consuming pollen drops from bennettitales, an extinct order of plant from the Triassic period. (Vichai Malikul)

Scientists have discovered an insect that went extinct for more than 120 million years and featured many of the traits associated with modern butterflies including markings on the wing called eye spots.

Known as Kalligrammatid lacewings, paleobotanists for the past century have known they lived in Eurasia during the Mesozoic. But it’s taken recent discoveries of well-preserved fossils from two sites in northeastern China to demonstrate how similar they were to modern butterflies. Thanks to extensive lakes that limited oxygen exposure in these areas during mid-Jurassic through early Cretaceous time, paleontologists have been able to recover exquisitely preserved fossils that retain much of their original structure.

“Poor preservation of lacewing fossils had always stymied attempts to conduct a detailed morphological and ecological examination of the kalligrammatid,” Indiana University’s David Dilcher, who was part of the team that made the discovery published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, said in a statement. “Upon examining these new fossils, however, we’ve unraveled a surprisingly wide array of physical and ecological similarities between the fossil species and modern butterflies, which shared a common ancestor 320 million years ago.”

Dilcher, who also discovered the first flower last year, found that this insect from the Jurassic period survived in a manner similar their modern sister insects by visiting plants with “flower-like” reproductive organs producing nectar and pollen. They probably used their long tongues to probe nectar deep within the plant and also possessed hairy legs that allowed for carrying pollen from the male flower-like reproductive organs of one plant to the flower-like female reproductive organs of another.

Eventually, this system of pollination by long-tongued lacewings traveling between plants with exposed reproductive parts –  called gymnosperms – gave way to more familiar system of insect pollinators and modern flowers, or angiosperms, in which the reproductive parts of the plants are contained with a protective seed.

This butterfly-like behavior is striking considering that modern butterflies didn’t appear on Earth for another 50 million years.

It is an example of what scientists call convergent evolution where two distantly related animals develop similar characteristics independently. In this case, the butterfly-like insect is an extinct “lacewing” of the genus kalligrammatid called Oregramma illecebrosa. Another genus of this insect – of the order Neuroptera – live on today and are commonly known as fishflies, owlflies or snakeflies.

“Here, we’ve got coevolution of plants with these animals due to their feeding behavior, and we’ve got coevolution of the lacewings and their predators,” Dilcher said. It’s building a web of life that is more and more complex.”

The researchers, which also included Conrad Labandeira, a curator at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, and Dong Ren of Capital Normal University in Beijing, China, where the fossils are housed, found that the Kalligrammatid lacewings probably were important pollinators during mid-Mesozoic times.

“Various features of the mouthparts all indicate that these things were sucking fluids from the reproductive structures of gymnosperm plants,” Labandeira said in a statement, of a finding that was confirmed by an analysis of material lingering within the food tube of one fossil, which was found to contain only carbon. Had the insect been feeding on blood, its final meal would have left traces of iron.

Researchers were also able to find the presence of scales on wings and mouthparts, which, like the scales on modern butterflies, likely contained pigments that gave the insects vibrant colors. Based on similarities between Kalligrammatid wing patterns and those found on modern nymphalid butterflies (a group that includes red admirals and painted ladies), Labandeira said Kalligrammatids might have been decorated with red or orange hues.

From there, researchers did a chemical composition of various regions of the Kalligrammatid’s patterned wings including the eyespots. In modern butterflies with eyespots such as the modern owl butterfly, the dark center of the mark is formed by a concentration of the pigment melanin. It seems the Kalligrammatids, too, had melanin at the center of their eyespots.

“That, in turn, suggests that the two groups of insects share a genetic program for eyespot production,” Labandeira said. “The last common ancestor of these insects lived about 320 million years ago, deep in the Paleozoic. So we think this must be a developmental mechanism that goes all the way back to the origins of winged insects.”

Huge population of endangered lions found in Ethiopia

A population of African lions has been found in Ethiopia. (Born Free Foundation)

A population of African lions has been found in Ethiopia. (Born Free Foundation)

Lions have been discovered for the first time in an Ethiopian national park, confirming centuries-old stories that the big cats thrived there.

The lions were found in the Alatash National Park in North West Ethiopia, on the Ethiopia-Sudan border in an expedition led by Hans Bauer, a renowned lion conservationist working for Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit. They were also found in Dinder National Park, across the border in eastern Sudan.

“Considering the relative ease with which lion signs were observed, it is likely that they are resident throughout Alatash and Dinder,” Bauer said in a statement. Based on the numbers found, he estimated there could be a population of 100 to 200 lions for the entire ecosystem and more than 50 in Alatash.

“Due to limited surface water, prey densities are low, and lion densities are likely to be low, we may conservatively assume a density in the range of one to two lions per 100 square kilometers (38.6 square miles),” Bauer said.

Part of the reason the lions have gone undiscovered for so long by outsiders is that the area is rarely visited. Even the International Union for Conservation of Nature only considered Alatash a possible range for the species.

But that changed with Bauer’s expedition, in which they successful obtained camera trap images of lions and identifying lion tracks.

The discovery has been welcomed by conservationists, who have been calling for international efforts to halt the lion’s demise. It is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN’s Red List of Endangered species.

Lion numbers are estimated to have declined 50 percent to 75 percent since 1980 and the species only occupies 8 percent of its historic range across the continent. They were thought to be locally extinct in Sudan.

They are increasingly being killed off to protect humans and livestock and they have lost habitat to agriculture.

Researchers say the next step is alerting government officials in Ethiopia and Sudan about the discovery, so they can embark on possible efforts to conserve these populations and better protected these areas.

“The confirmation that lions persist in this area is
exciting news,” Born Free’s Chief Executive Adam M. Roberts, whose group funded the expedition, said in a statement.

“With lion numbers in steep decline across most of the African continent, the discovery of previously unconfirmed populations is hugely important – especially in Ethiopia, whose government is a significant conservation ally,” he said. “We need to do all we can to protect these animals and the ecosystem on which they depend, along with all the other remaining lions across Africa, so we can reverse the declines and secure their future.”

Crocodile bites off woman’s arm in ‘death roll’

A woman walking her dogs in Australia had her arm bitten off by a crocodile in a “death roll”.

The victim, aged in her 60s, had been at Three Mile Creek in Wyndham, about 280 miles south-west of Darwin, when the predator attacked on Wednesday afternoon.

The woman, missing her arm just above the elbow, reportedly needed to be convinced to get into a vehicle which had stopped to help as she did not want to get blood in the car.

After being taken to Wyndham Hospital she was then flown to the Royal Darwin Hospital where she underwent surgery.

She is understood to be in a stable condition.

Resident Paul Cavanagh said his nephew and son-in-law picked the injured woman up and took her to hospital after seeing she was missing her arm just above her elbow.

“She was standing on the side of the road just shocked,” he said.

“She’s lived here a long time, hopefully she’s all right.”

Michael Snowball, the owner of a cafe near to the creek where the attack happened, said: “It came out of the water and grabbed her and did a death roll and took her arm off near the elbow.”

During a death roll a crocodile spins and twists to rip off parts of its prey.

Mr Snowball said it was the first time he had heard about a crocodile attack at the creek, where children swam.

Police cordoned off the area but by the time wildlife officers arrived, the animal had disappeared.

A Department of Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman said the creature was believed to be a saltwater crocodile, which can grow up to 23 feet long and weigh more than a tonne.

She added: “We’ve got crews on site trying to locate the animal. If that doesn’t happen, we’ll soon be getting fresh crews in to come and deploy a trap with a view to trapping and destroying the animal.”

Crocodiles are common in Australia’s tropical north where numbers have increased since the introduction of protection laws in 1971, with government estimates putting the national population at around 100,000.

They kill an average of two people each year in Australia.

Click for more from Sky News.

originally available here

Scientists give new lease on life for near-extinct Hawaiian crow

Hawaiian crow (San Diego Zoo Global)

Hawaiian crow (San Diego Zoo Global)

Scientists have sequenced the genome of the Hawaiian crow, a critical step to saving a species that is on the brink of extinction.

Together with PacBio, scientists at San Diego Zoo Global and the University of Hawaii recently shared the genome results at the annual Plant and Animal Genomics XXIV Conference in San Diego. The ‘Alalā, as its known, was once reduced to a population of 20 birds and is extinct in the wild due to a loss of habitat, introduced predators and disease.

“In our efforts to bring species back from the brink of extinction, we have worked with a number of species that have gone through a genetic bottleneck, possibly reducing the genetic fitness of the species due to the limitations of the remaining genetic diversity,” Oliver Ryder, geneticist for San Diego Zoo Global, said in a statement. “Knowing in detail the genetic pattern of the ‘Alalā will help us to understand challenges faced by this species as it makes its recovery.”

The sequencing of its genome is just one part of an overall plan to conserve the Hawaiian crow, a jet black bird that is darker than its North American cousin. It also has brown-tinged wings, and throat feathers that are stiff with hair-like webs and grayish shafts.

Conservationists are planning to reintroduce the bird into prepared habitat on the island of Hawaii later this year. Until recently, the only birds were found in the program run by San Diego Zoo Global at their bird centers in Hawaii.

“We have been working for many years to build up a large enough — and genetically diverse enough — population to allow us to begin putting the ‘Alalā back in the wild,” said Bryce Masuda, conservation program manager of the San Diego Zoo’s Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program. “We have achieved our goal, and are now preparing to release birds into the wild in 2016.”

The program’s goal has been to increase the ‘Alalā flock to 75 or more individuals before releasing them into their native forests on the island of Hawaii. For species so close to going extinct, genetic fitness and the information stored in their genome may prove an important tool in the fight to save them.

“Learning more about the genome of the species can help us understand more about how that species will interact with and fit back into its native habitat,” said Jolene Sutton, assistant professor at the University of Hawaii, Hilo. “Through scientific collaboration with PacBio, we now have a map of ‘Alalā DNA that could prove critical to their long term recovery. We are absolutely thrilled with the quality of the sequencing, and we have already identified several gene locations that we think could have a big influence on reintroduction success.”

New chameleon with blue spots found in Tanzania

A new species of chameleon, named Kinyongia msuyae, has been discovered in Tanzania. (Tim Davenport/WCS)

A new species of chameleon, named Kinyongia msuyae, has been discovered in Tanzania. (Tim Davenport/WCS)

A new species of chameleon with scattered blue spots has been found in the mountains of Tanzania, underscoring the richness of this biologically important region.

The brown and green chameleon lizard was discovered in four montane forest patches in the Udzungwa Mountains and Southern Highlands. The species, Kinyongia msuyae, is named for Charles A. Msuya, a pioneer of Tanzanian herpetology who collected the first known specimen attributable to this species and has spent most of his life studying Tanzania’s reptiles and amphibians.

Described by an international team in the journal Acta Herpetologica, the chameleon sheds light on a region called the Makambako Gap, a supposed zoological barrier between the distinct faunas of the Southern Highlands and Eastern Arc Mountains.

The presence of this species lends credence to those scientists, including the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Tim Davenport, who claim this barrier doesn’t exist. Rather, they say it demonstrates the close biological affinities between the Udzungwa and the Livingstone Mountains of the Southern Highlands.

Tanzania’s Southern Highlands has emerged as a hotbed of new discoveries in recent years. In 2003, WCS discovered the kipunji – a species of primate that turned out to be an entirely new genus – a first for Africa since 1923. And in 2012, WCS found Matilda’s horned viper, a new variety of snake.

“Along with our discoveries of the Kipunji, Matilda’s horned viper and other reptiles and frogs, this new chameleon really seals the deal as regards the boundary of the Eastern Arcs,” Davenport, the director of WCS’s Tanzania Program and co-discoverer of the new chameleon, said in a statement. “It is very clear now that the so-called Makambako Gap doesn’t exist zoologically, and that the Southern Highlands is every bit as biodiverse and endemic-rich as all other Eastern Arc Mountains. With its own unique fauna and flora the region thus warrants as much protection as we can possibly afford it.”