Posts Tagged ‘Endangered Species’

Complete ‘Family Tree’ Of All British Birds Gives Clues About Which Species Might Be Endangered Next

June 12, 2008

A new complete evolutionary ‘family tree’ showing how all British bird species are related to each other may provide clues about which ones are at risk of population decline, according to new research published June 11 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Comparing the new family tree with existing lists of endangered bird species, author Dr Gavin Thomas from the NERC Centre for Population Biology at Imperial College London found that British birds currently suffering population decline were clustered close together on the same branches of the family tree.

Because of this the family tree, or ‘phylogeny’, could be used to predict which species are at risk of decline in the future. Bird species which are not experiencing decline at the moment, but which sit close to species that are declining on the family tree, may be at risk next. This is because closely related species on the family tree share physical traits. Some of these traits such as low reproductive rates or specific habitat requirements may render them less able to cope with climate change or depletion of their habitat and make them exceptionally vulnerable to decline.

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New Zealand Bird Outwits Alien Predators

June 8, 2008

New research led by Dr Melanie Massaro and Dr Jim Briskie at the University of Canterbury, which found that the New Zealand bellbird is capable of changing its nesting behaviour to protect itself from predators, could be good news for island birds around the world at risk of extinction.

The introduction of predatory mammals such as rats, cats and stoats to oceanic islands has led to the extinction of many endemic island birds, and exotic predators continue to threaten the survival of 25 percent of all endangered bird species worldwide

[…] But their study on the bellbird, an endemic New Zealand bird, has identified the ability of a previously naïve island bird to change its nesting behaviour in response to the introduction of a large suite of exotic mammalian predators by humans.

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Otters Reveal Their Identity

June 6, 2008

Researchers of the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research have developed two new methods, in order to be able to better estimate the numbers of European Otters (Lutra lutra) and their effects on the fish farming industry. The researchers succeeded for the first time in gathering more accurate data on the otter population in the heath and pond region of the Oberlausitz Biosphere Reserve. Genetic analyses of the faeces could prove to be a promising approach when investigating otter populations, as researchers have written in the scientific journal Conservation Genetics. The new method does not only apply to otters, but also to all vertebrates.

The information can be used to ensure effective nature conservation. Accurate information on the size of the otter population makes it possible to calculate the quantity of fish eaten per pond and hence the damage incurred to the local fish farming industry. Consequently, appropriate damage compensation would improve the acceptance of otters among the local fish farming industry and thus the protection of this endangered species, as is required by national and international law. For population size estimates, the classical method of MRR (Mark Release Recapture) is enhanced by modern DNA analyses.

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World’s strangest looking animals

June 3, 2008

“The Mickey Mouse of the desert” – mouse-like rodent with a long tail, long hind legs for jumping, and exceptionally large ears. The jerboa, found in the deserts of Mongolia and China, is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Click here for the full list and photos of the world’s strangest animals.

World’s Rarest Rhinos Make First Video Trap Appearance — Then Toss Camera

May 30, 2008

After just a month in operation, specially designed video cameras installed to capture wildlife footage in the jungles of South East Asia have twice recorded remarkable images of a mother and child pair of the world’s rarest rhino.

But the success was not without incident as after a short inspection, the rhino mother charged the camera installation in Ujung Kulon National Park and sent it flying.

“With fewer than 60 Javan rhinos left in the wild, we believe this footage was well worth the risk to our equipment,” said Adhi Rachmat Hariyadi, who leads WWF-Indonesia’s project in Ujung Kulon National Park. “It’s very unusual to catch a glimpse of the Javan rhinos deep inside the rain forest. The motion triggered infrared video traps are a useful way to observe them and the ways they use their habitat in a more detailed way.”

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Over 50 Percent Of Oceanic Shark Species Threatened With Extinction

May 23, 2008

The first study to determine the global threat status of 21 species of wide-ranging oceanic pelagic sharks and rays reveals serious overfishing and recommends key steps that governments can take to safeguard populations. These findings and recommendations for action are published in the latest edition of Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.

This international study, organised by the IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG), was conducted by 15 scientists from 13 different research institutes around the world, with additional contributions from scores of other SSG members.

The experts determined that 16 out of the 21 oceanic shark and ray species that are caught in high seas fisheries are at heightened risk of extinction due primarily to targeted fishing for valuable fins and meat as well as indirect take in other fisheries. In most cases, these catches are unregulated and unsustainable. The increasing demand for the delicacy ‘shark fin soup’, driven by rapidly growing Asian economies, means that often the valuable shark fins are retained and the carcasses discarded. Frequently, discarded sharks and rays are not even recorded.

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Most North Pacific Humpback Whale Populations Rebounding

May 22, 2008

The number of humpback whales in the North Pacific Ocean has increased since international and federal protections were enacted in the 1960s and 70s, according to a new study funded primarily by NOAA and conducted by more than 400 whale researchers throughout the Pacific region.

However, some isolated populations of humpbacks, especially those in the Western Pacific Ocean, have not recovered at the same rate and still suffer low numbers.

The new research reveals that the overall population of humpbacks has rebounded to approximately 18,000 to 20,000 animals. The population of humpback whales in the North Pacific, at least half of whom migrate between Alaska and Hawaii, numbered less than 1,500 in 1966 when international whaling for this species was banned. In the 1970s, federal laws including the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act provided additional protection.

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Tasmanian Devils Named Endangered Species

May 21, 2008

The Tasmanian devil, a feisty marsupial that lives only in the Australian island state of Tasmania, was deemed an endangered species this week by the state’s government.

The government had previously classified the creature as vulnerable. But its more critical status comes in response to a fatal epidemic of devil facial tumor disease, which has wiped out large numbers of the animal.

Devil numbers are difficult to estimate, but state government figures suggest the animals may have plummeted from around 150,000 in the mid-1990s to between 20,000 and 50,000 by the end of 2006.

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Kangaroos Threaten One Of Australia’s Last Remaining Original Grasslands, And Endangered Animals

May 21, 2008

Australian Department of Defence is currently culling hundreds of kangaroos on the outskirts of the capital Canberra that have produced heated discussions and hit international headlines. Australia’s iconic animal has multiplied so much over recent years that Canberra now has three times as many kangaroos as inhabitants. The situation is particularly critical at two enclosed military sites on the outskirts of the city, which form an ideal refuge for the eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus).

The grasslands there are now completely overgrazed – with dramatic consequences for other species. These areas are some of the few natural grasslands in Australia, making them one of the remaining reserves for endangered animal species, like the golden sun moth (Synemon plana) and the grassland earless dragon (Tympanocryptis pinguicolla), one of the world’s rarest lizards. Around 400 of nearly 600 kangaroos at a 200-hectare military site will be killed during the next days with lethal injections after the government ruled out a resettlement programme as too expensive. Resettlement would only relocate the problem.

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US lists polar bear as threatened species

May 14, 2008

Government officials say the Interior Department has decided to protect the polar bear as a threatened species because of global warming.

The officials told The Associated Press the bears are threatened by the decline in Arctic sea ice. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the official announcement was to come from Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne. He scheduled a news conference Wednesday.

The action comes a day before a court-imposed deadline on deciding whether the bear should be put under the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act.

The department will cite studies by its own scientists saying the decline in Arctic sea ice could result in two-thirds of the polar bears disappearing by mid-century.

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Federal Polar Bear Research Critically Flawed, Forecasting Expert Asserts

May 12, 2008

Research done by the U.S. Department of the Interior to determine if global warming threatens the polar bear population is so flawed that it cannot be used to justify listing the polar bear as an endangered species, according to a study being published later this year in Interfaces, a journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences.

On April 30, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ordered the Interior Department to decide by May 15 whether polar bears should be listed under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act.

Professor J. Scott Armstrong of the Wharton School says, “To list a species that is currently in good health as an endangered species requires valid forecasts that its population would decline to levels that threaten its viability. In fact, the polar bear populations have been increasing rapidly in recent decades due to hunting restrictions. Assuming these restrictions remain, the most appropriate forecast is to assume that the upward trend would continue for a few years, then level off.

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Priority Regions For Threatened Frog And Toad Conservation In Latin America

May 12, 2008

Nearly 35% of all amphibians are now threatened of extinction raising them to the position of the most endangered group of animals in the world. Decline of amphibian populations and species is ongoing due to habitat loss, fungal disease, climate shift and agrochemical contaminants. These impacts are even worse to frogs that reproduce in water bodies such as streams and ponds.

Despite of that, no study ever proposed key broad-scale regions for conserving these species till now. Rafael D. Loyola and his colleagues propose now a priority set of areas for the conservation of frogs and toads in Latin America. The study, published in this week’s PLoS ONE, is unprecedented in terms of not only the proposition of key-conservation areas, but also because it shows that the inclusion of species biological traits, such as reproductive modes, affects the performance of area-prioritization analyses.

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Federal judge in Montana rejects bid to delay wolf lawsuit

May 10, 2008

A federal judge in Montana has rejected a request by the government to delay a lawsuit seeking to place the gray wolf back on the endangered species list, saying he’s “unwilling to risk more deaths.”

At least 39 of the Northern Rockies’ 1,500 gray wolves have been killed since they lost federal protection in March. That action placed wolves under the authority of state wildlife agencies in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.

The three states have relaxed rules for killings wolves that harass or harm livestock. The states are also planning public hunts later this year — the first in decades.

Environmental and animal rights groups sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week, claiming the loss of federal protection threatens the wolf’s successful recovery. They also asked for a court injunction to restore federal control over wolves while the case is pending.

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Endangered Right Whales Protected With New Warning Buoys In Shipping Lanes

May 5, 2008

Endangered North Atlantic right whales are safer along Massachusetts Bay’s busy shipping lanes this spring, thanks to a new system of smart buoys. The buoys recognize whales’ distinctive calls and route the information to a public Web site and a marine warning system, giving ships the chance to avoid deadly collisions.

The 10-buoy Right Whale Listening Network — developed at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution — is arriving barely in time for the beleaguered right whale. The species was hunted to the brink of extinction centuries ago, and now fewer than 400 of the 50-ton black giants remain. Collisions with ships are currently a leading cause of death.

Living 60 years or more, right whales skim tiny plankton from the shallow coastal waters of the Atlantic. Each winter and spring, many right whales congregate — along with fin, minke and humpback whales — in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, 25 miles east of Boston Harbor, which bisects official shipping lanes used by some 1,500 container ships, tankers, cruise liners and fishing boats every year.

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Dead as a dodo? Why scientists fear for the future of of the Asian vulture

April 30, 2008

You have to feel sorry for vultures. For animal campaigners they are a difficult case. Other, more photogenic, slightly less sinister creatures may gain the world’s sympathy at the drop of a hat, but raising money to save the world’s most proficient scavenger is a different matter.

As far as the Asian vulture is concerned, however, the situation is now urgent. Asian vultures may be ugly, but soon, if current trends continue, their unprepossessing appearance will be consigned to history.

The population of the oriental white-backed vulture, predominantly native to India, is dwindling at a rate of 40 per cent a year, making it the fastest declining wild bird in history. Their numbers have plummeted by 99.9 per cent since 1992. Indeed, its slide to extinction may be more rapid than that of the dodo.

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Feds sued for taking gray wolves off endangered list

April 29, 2008

Environmental and animal rights groups sued the federal government Monday, seeking to restore endangered species status for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lifted federal protections for the estimated 1,500 wolves in March. It turned over management responsibilities to state officials in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana for the first time in more than three decades.

The lawsuit alleges those states lack adequate laws to ensure wolves are not again eradicated from the region. At least 37 were killed in the last month.

The groups are seeking an immediate court order to restore federal control over the species until the case is resolved.

“We’re very concerned that absent an injunction, hundreds of wolves could be killed under existing state management plans,” said attorney Jason Rylander with Defenders of Wildlife, one of twelve groups that filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Missoula.

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Species loss ‘bad for our health’

April 27, 2008

A new generation of medical treatments could be lost forever unless the current rate of biodiversity loss is reversed, conservationists have warned.

They say species are being lost before researchers have had the chance to examine and understand their potential health benefits.

The findings appear in Sustaining Life, a book involving more than 100 experts.

It is being published ahead of a global summit in May that will look at ways to stem biodiversity loss by 2010.

“While extinction is alarming in its own right, the book demonstrates that many species can help human lives,” said co-author Jeffrey McNeely, chief scientist at IUCN (formerly known as the World Conservation Union).

“If we needed more justification for action to conserve species, it offers dozens of dramatic examples of both why and how citizens can act in ways that will conserve, rather than destroy, the species that enrich our lives.”

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World’s Rarest Gorilla Finds Sanctuary

April 22, 2008

The government of Cameroon—with guidance from the Wildlife Conservation Society—has created the world’s first sanctuary exclusively for the Cross River gorilla, the world’s rarest kind of great ape. The Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary was officially created by decree of the Prime Minister of Cameroon Ephraim Inoni and was announced via state radio.

Classified as Critically Endangered by IUCN’s Red List, the Cross River gorilla is the rarest of the four subspecies of gorilla. The entire population numbers under 300 individuals across its entire range, which consists of 11 scattered sites in Cameroon and Nigeria. The Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) is one of two subspecies of western gorilla, the other being Gorilla gorilla gorilla, the western lowland gorilla. The eastern gorilla includes the eastern lowland gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri), and the famous mountain gorillas of the Virunga Mountains and southern Uganda (Gorilla beringei beringei).

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Presumed Extinct Javan Elephants May Have Been Found Again – In Borneo

April 18, 2008

The Borneo pygmy elephant may not be native to Borneo after all. Instead, the population could be the last survivors of the Javan elephant race – accidentally saved from extinction by the Sultan of Sulu centuries ago, a new publication suggests.

The origins of the pygmy elephants, found in a range extending from the north-east of the island into the Heart of Borneo, have long been shrouded in mystery. Their looks and behaviour differ from other Asian elephants and scientists have questioned why they never dispersed to other parts of the island.

But a new paper published supports a long-held local belief that the elephants were brought to Borneo centuries ago by the Sultan of Sulu, now in the Philippines, and later abandoned in the jungle. The Sulu elephants, in turn, are thought to have originated in Java.

Javan elephants became extinct some time in the period after Europeans arrived in South-East Asia. Elephants on Sulu, never considered native to the island, were hunted out in the 1800s.

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Animals take shape on the Underground

April 17, 2008

A hard-hitting public awareness campaign to help protect seals, whales and elephants is being run by The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Animals on the Underground.

The campaign will feature ads on 224 sites across the London Underground network from April 21 for two weeks. Members of the public are being asked to send a text message to help protect these threatened or endangered species.

Tens of thousands of endangered elephants continue to be threatened by the illegal ivory trade, over a quarter of a million seals are killed annually in Canada’s cruel and unsustainable seal hunt and whales are still being harpooned despite an international ban on commercial whaling.

“These posters will place a spotlight on the current threats to some of the world’s most iconic species – whales, elephants and seals,” said Robbie Marsland, Director of IFAW UK. “This is a great opportunity to highlight to people across London that they can make a difference by taking action in support of IFAW’s campaigns to end this cruelty.”

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