VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
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World Day For Animals In Laboratories (also known as World Lab Animal Day) is observed every year on April 24, today. It is an opportunity to think about the animals that spend and sacrifice their lives in pursuit of science, often with the goal of finding safe medical treatments for humans.
One animal that comes readily to mind when you thin k of the term “laboratory animal” is the venerable rat, an animal that is as ubiquitous as it is reviled. Not all rats are “guinea pigs” for the lab, however. Some are highly prized for their rarity, such as Florida’s Key Largo woodrat.
Assessed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) is considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. The species is found only in west-central China, in montane forests where snow cover can last for up to six months of the year, IUCN says on its profile for the monkey. Although the species is protected in nature reserves, a major threat for its survival is forest loss due to agricultural expansion, especially outside of the protected areas, IUCN says.
Multiple entries in the journal kept by National Geographic explorer J. Michael Fay on his 2014-2017 Expedition Through the Heart of Africa refer to sightings of black-and-white colobus in the forests of the Central African Republic. It is yet one more charismatic species found in Africa’s deepest interior that is not very well known in the more industrialized parts of the world. Fortunately, many of the best zoos feature the colobus in exhibits, and the monkey is also well photographed by Joel Sartore for the National Geographic Photo Ark.
The very cute Wallace’s flying frog (Rhacophorus nigropalmatus) flits from one tree to another in the rain forest of Southeast Asia, seemingly able to fly. But in reality, the colorful amphibian is more of a glider than a flyer, ably assisted in its ability to travel a decent distance through the air by large webbed feet that act as sails before the wind.
Listed as an Endangered Species by the United States, the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) numbers fewer than a hundred individuals north of the Rio Grande (in small pockets of southern Texas and Southern Arizona) — and it is likely to be even more disturbed and threatened by an enhanced border wall with Mexico.
When National Geographic explorer J. Michael Fay scours the remote forests of Central Africa, one of the animals he hopes to see is the bongo. One sub-species of this, the largest forest antelope in Africa, is already near extinction. More of its kind are in captivity than there are in the wild. Learn more about the bongo.
All four species of lynx have been photographed for the National Geographic Photo Ark project, where they act as ambassadors for an extraordinary medium-size wild cat found across much of the Northern Hemisphere, where they all prey primarily on rabbits. They share more than a preference for rabbit; all of them are challenged by habitat-loss due to human development and climate change.
It is estimated that more than a million pangolins have been snatched from the wild in the past decade, according to the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group, an organization leading efforts to save these scaly, ant-eating mammals from poaching and illegal trade. That might just make the pangolin the most trafficked animal in the world, and…