Posts Tagged ‘World Conservation Union’

Cloning may help Scottish wildcats survive

March 30, 2008


Britain’s wildest animal could be cloned to save the species from becoming extinct within 10 years.

The number of Scottish wildcats is believed to have fallen to below 400 in their native Highlands, and their continued survival is under serious threat from interbreeding with feral domestic cats, which is diluting the gene pool.

Two kittens were born nine days ago at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent and it is hoped they will prove relatively pure. DNA tests have still to be carried out.

Pound-for-pound, Felis silvestris grampia is one of the most ferocious predators in the world, but there are fears that this famously untameable creature – with its “tiger-stripe” markings and bushy, ringed tail – will be lost forever as the last survivors die off.

It is on the World Conservation Union’s red list of threatened species.

Conservationists believe, however, that a breakthrough in cloning techniques could safeguard its future.

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Thai pair caught selling endangered animals

March 23, 2008


Thai wildlife police have arrested two vendors and seized more than 200 rare animals including endangered tortoises during a raid at Bangkok’s popular weekend market.

Police say the sting operation turned up more than $70,000 worth of rare birds and animals.

One woman and one man have been arrested and charged with smuggling endangered species.

The World Conservation Union says illegal trade at the market is just one part of a larger international operation.

It says Thailand has become a transportation centre for the illicit animal trade in south-east Asia.

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Endangered species photo fuels ‘Tigergate’: Allegations of faked tiger picture stir emotions over decline of China’s wildlife

January 20, 2008


For conservationists, the news was exceptional. Chinese officials announced last fall that at least one South China tiger, a species not seen in the wild for more than 20 years, still roamed the country’s forests.But almost as soon as the forestry department of China’s central Shaanxi province released photographs of the animal, the story began to unravel.

People posting to Internet chat rooms pointed out that the tiger looked identical to one in a popular Chinese New Year poster and could have been digitally added to the photographs. Journalists argued that a tiger was unlikely to sit still for 20 minutes, the time the local government says that a farmer took to shoot 40 digital images of the animal.

A panel of prominent zoologists, photographers and criminal detectives convened by a Chinese Web site analyzed the images and declared them fake. Among other clues, they pointed out that the tiger holds the same posture in every photo, grass around its feet is undisturbed and its eyes reflect no light.

Instead of offering hope that China is improving conservation efforts, the incident — dubbed “Tigergate” by China’s media — has highlighted how economic development often trumps environmental protection.

China’s pollution, population growth and development have had “a huge impact on wildlife,” said Hu Huijian, a professor at the South China Institute of Endangered Animals in Guangzhou. “There’s not much true wilderness left.”

In China, 83 species of mammals, 86 bird species and 60 kinds of fish are on the verge of extinction, according to the World Conservation Union, a network of hundreds of government and nonprofit groups.

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World’s Smallest Bear Faces Extinction

January 20, 2008


The world’s smallest bear species faces extinction because of deforestation and poaching in its Southeast Asian home, a conservation group said Monday. The sun bear, whose habitat stretches from India to Indonesia, has been classified as vulnerable by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

“We estimate that sun bears have declined by at least 30 percent over the past 30 years and continue to decline at this rate,” said Rob Steinmetz, a bear expert with the Geneva-based group.

The group estimates there are just over 10,000 sun bears left, said Dave Garshelis, co-chair of the IUCN bear specialist group.

The bear, which weighs between 90 and 130 pounds (between 40 and 60 kilograms), is hunted for its bitter, green bile, which has long been used by Chinese traditional medicine practitioners to treat eye, liver, and other ailments. Bear paws are also considered a delicacy to eat.

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