#1 Albino Giant Panda discovered
The first known albino giant panda has been found in China. With red eyes, and none of the black markings we know so well, the one to two-year-old panda was captured on camera wandering through a bamboo forest in the Wolong National Nature Reserve.
Researchers believe the panda is physically healthy, suggesting that the mutation is not affecting its ability to live a normal life. That’s a relief, as typically, wild albino animals are likely to have vision problems and are more susceptible to predators.
#2 Gone too soon: the Sumatran Rhino
In a significant blow to the Sumatran rhino, the last male rhino in Malaysia died on Monday. There is believed only to be 30 – 100 Sumatran rhinos still living in the wild – most on the island of Sumatra.
There does remain some hope that these rhinos, the smallest of the remaining five rhino species, can be saved from extinction. However, issues like their fragmented population, poaching and deforestation are working against their survival.
Researchers are trying to bring those in rhino sanctuaries together for breeding purposes. It is believed that they need at least 20 unrelated individuals to save the species.
#3 Chernobyl: New eco-tour explores this wildlife haven/nuclear disaster zone
Tour operator APB-Birdlife Belarus is now offering tours to the Palieski State Radioecological Reserve. Palieski, in Belarus, is an involuntary nature reserve as it lies in the nuclear disaster zone of Chernobyl.
Within the reserve, despite the nuclear radiation, wildlife has thrived. Over the past thirty years, many rare and endangered species, like Lynx and the European Bison, have set up home here – thanks to the lack of humans.
Two-day tours of the “accidental wildlife sanctuary” include two seven-hour visits, guide, meals, and transfers. The two trips into the sanctuary are theoretically completely safe, despite the remaining radiation.
#4 Hiker survives 17 days in Hawaiian wilderness
After seventeen days lost in a thick Hawaiian forest, 35-year-old physical therapist and yoga instructor, Amanda Eller was miraculously found alive. Surviving on berries, guava, and clear water, Eller came out of the ordeal about 7.5 kilograms lighter, with a broken tibia, and severe sunburn.
Eller had gone into the forest thinking she was embarking on a three-mile hike. After meditating and taking a nap, she woke up to realise she didn’t know how to get back to her car.