Eagle Ray Collides with Woman

Leaping ocean life strikes again. The woman is fine. 

The Sting of the Honeybee

My friend Brian recently took up beekeeping. He's enjoyed it, but it does have its downside.

Brian is philosophical about getting stung. They're only defending their honey against a thief. "I would do the same," he adds.

Big Cat Attacks in the Gir Forest

The Gir Forest of India is best known as the only place in Asia to find wild lions. This small population of lions in the area, just over 400, is carefully managed. The lions frequently take livestock, and that brings them into conflict with people. Sometimes the lions, particularly the males, deliberately choose humans as prey. As noted in this article, lions and other wild animals have attacked 162 people and more than 6000 head of livestock there in the last three years. In one case, a lion injured seven people before they killed it with axes.

Those axes really bring home the cultural differences between India and the US. Here, in the rare instance of a need to protect ourselves from wildlife, guns and armed police are never too far away. I try to imagine 50 attacks a year in a comparably-sized slice of the US--say, the eastern third of Rhode Island. The lions aren't the biggest part of the problem, though--leopards are far more likely to attack people.

Deadly Kingdom nominated for award

Good news: Deadly Kingdom has been nominated for the Oklahoma Book Award. I'll let you know what happens, unless I lose, in which case I'll ignore the whole affair. 

Autopsy Results from Ohio Bear Attack

A keeper killed by a bear near Cleveland last year was the victim of a "workplace accident," according to the coroner's report. His body had more than 200 puncture wounds. Exotic animals turn up more often than you might expect in "workplace accidents," with captive tigers and elephants both figuring in US government statistics. 

Wild Boar Destroys Hair Salon

In the French city of Nancy, a wild board invaded a shopping center and unleashed mass destruction inside a supermarket and a salon. This animal, the untamed and hairy version of the domestic pig, has a long history of harrassing people in locales as diverse as Vietnam and Germany. 

World's 10 worst shark attacks

With the exception of the Indianapolis, these aren't even close to being the worst. Still, it's an interesting list.

World's 10 worst shark attacks - Telegraph

"In 1985, Shirley Ann Durdin was diving for scallops in Australia's Peake Bay when she was attacked by a great white shark, said by witnesses to have been 20 feet long. The mighty fish tore the 33-year-old in half in its first strike as her husband and four children watched in horror from the shore. By the time rescuers arrived, all that remained was her headless torso floating in the water. Within moments, the shark returned and devoured that too."

More on the mystery animal scare in India

Mystery animal scare in Memco , News - City - Ahmedabad Mirror,Ahmedabad Mirror:

More about the attack on 20 people Thursday night. The article has photos and interviews with a couple of the victims.

"Rejecting the idea that it could have been a domestic cat or dog, Zoo Superintendent R K Sahu said, “The behaviour and attacking pattern indicate the animal could have been a palm civet. It has to be a nocturnal creature prowling for food. Civets have a tendency of attacking the head and neck. Its claws leave deep wounds.”

Explaining further, Sahu said, “The civet considers man to be his enemy as humans are an obstacle for it while gathering food especially from residential areas.”"

Palm Civet Attacks

In India, officials are trying to trap an animal that mauled 20 people in one night. The prime suspect is a palm civet.

Civets and palm civets are little known in the West, but very common in much of Asia and Africa. Though they're all among the carnivorids (related to dogs, cats, hyenas, and so on), they comprise several families. Despite their lack of fame, various kinds of civets are economically important. Some of them make a stinky fluid to mark their territories. This fluid is used as a base for some perfumes. People harvest the fluid by scraping it out through a certain orifice. I'm told the civet does not enjoy the procedure.

In a certain kind of civet, the glands that make this fluid look like testicles, which means both genders appear to be equipped as males. This particular species helps make gourmet coffee. The civet eats the fruit of the coffee plant, digests most of it, and defecates the seeds (or beans). Supposedly coffee beans that have gone a progress through the guts of a civet yield extraordinarily rich, flavorful coffee. It sells for better than $100 a pound, though not at my local Cub Foods.

Back in 2003, a respiratory disease called SARS burst onto the scene, spreading rapidly across the globe from its Southeast Asian origins and just as rapidly dwindling as governments across the world imposed quarantines and restricted imports. Its mortality rate approached an extraordinary ten percent. Scientists found the virus in various animals, including bats and black rats, but no one knows how it passed to people. The US government banned the import of civets on strong circumstantial evidence linking a palm civet (Paguma larvata) with the disease. Animal handlers and restaurant workers who prepared wild animals showed high rates of infection.

Anyway, civets are all small; the likely species in these Indian attacks tops out at under 15 pounds. So this one probably isn't trying to prey on people. It's more likely a case of crowding--lots of people and animals wanting the same space and the same food.

Io Moth

Here's the caterpillar of an io moth, which has mildly toxic bristles. A touch can cause a minor rash. I get a lot of comments about the surprising dangers mentioned in Deadly Kingdom, including a few moths and butterflies that can do more than irritate. Some have put people in shock.

Most butterflies and moths are harmless, of course. Here's an expanded version of  the slideshow "Butterflies and Moths of Wisconsin," featuring (mostly) the work of photographer D'Arcy Allison-Teasley. I first ran this back in July, and it proved to be one of one of our more popular slideshows.

  1. Sphinx Moth

2.       Painted Lady Butterfly

3.       Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly male

4.       Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly female

5.       Mourning Cloak Butterfly

6.       Some sort of sphinx, I think? IDs welcome.

7.      Nessus sphinx. Thanks to AT for the identification.

8.       Anybody know what this one is?

      9. Monarch Butterflies. This one is by D'Arcy's dad, Wayne Allison.
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