The Attenborough’s long-beaked echidna is not extinct as was previously thought
Attenborough’s long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus attenboroughi) was discovered in 1961 in the cloud forest of the Cyclops Mountains in Papua New Guinea. This unique species of mammal that lays eggs and suckles its young appears to not be gone for ever. Indices such as tracks and reports from locals indicate that this cryptic animal might be present in the rainforest of Papua New Guinea. Very little is known about the Attenborough’s long-beaked’s natural history. It is believed to be a nocturnal, foraging for earthworms among the forest litter, then spending the day resting in shallow burrows or hollow logs. Source: The Zoological Society of London, July 2007.
Illegal poaching of the critically endangered Asiatic lion
Since January to May 2007, 20 Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) have died out of which 8 have been poached. The Asiatic lion population currently stands at approximately 350 wild individuals, all occurring in the Gir Forest National Park in northwestern India . Numbers in the wild slowly increased from 177 in 1968 to 359 in 2005. Since the population now extends beyond the boundary of the lion sanctuary, the numbers suffer a decrease due to increasing human interference. The Asiatic lion once ranged from Greece to Central India . They are slightly smaller than African lions. Source: The Wildlife Conservation Trust of India , June 2007.
Drainning Saemangeum Wetland in South Korea brings birds to starvation!
A 33-mile seawall to drain Saemangeum Wetland in South Korea is imperiling the survival of many bird species, other wildlife and plants including endangered ones. Birds have been observed dying from starvation at the site. The Saemangeum project was hatched to create paddy fields and now there are talks about building a golf course, a huge casino or even a Formula 1 race track! Saemangeum is the region’s most important refuelling post for around 400,000 migrating waders negotiating a 15,000-mile round trip between the southern hemisphere and south-east Asia, and breeding sites in Alaska and Russia. At the height of migration, over 150,000 waders from more than 25 species seek food at Saemangeum in a single day. ESI encourages people to write to the South Korean embassies in their countries calling for the sluice gates to be kept open. Source: RSPB, May 2007.
The Yangtze River dolphin endemic to China is officially extinct!
The Yangtze River dolphin was listed as "critically endangered" on the Red List of Threatened
Species. The latest six-week field expedition to find remaining individuals of the rarest dolphin
was fruitless. Optical and acoustic equipments were used during surveys. This dolphin used to be
found in the Yangtze River. Threats to this species include habitat degradation, overfishing,
pollution and ship traffic. It is a tragedy for China and the rest of the world. If confirmed, it
would be the first large aquatic mammal driven to extinction since hunting and over fishing killed
off the Californian monk seal in the 1950s. Source: The New York Times, December 2006.
Almost 60% of the original Iraqi Marshlands has now been inundated!
The Iraq marshes are located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. They once covered an area
twice the size of the Florida Everglades, and were famous for their incredible biodiversity and
cultural heritage. They were home of many endemic species of fish and birds including the Basra
reed warbler (Acrocephalus griseldis). The marshes were devastated in the 1990s after Saddam.
Hussein's regime diverted water away from the region. UN officials and Iraqi ministers reported in
early December 2006 at a meeting in Japan that more than 50 percent of the marshland area of
Iraq has been restored since 2001. More restoration and conservation work is underway despite the
expected increase demand of water in the region. Source: Iraqi Marshlands Observation System (IMOS) UNDP. December 2006. You can learn more about it at http://imos.grid.unep.ch/
Tiger habitat almost gone and so are the tigers!
A new study revealed alarming data on how much natural land is left
around the world for the tiger to live. Tigers have lost 40% of their habitat over the last
decade, and now occupy only 7% of their original range. A century ago, there were about 100,000
tigers in the world; now numbers are down to only 5,000. The principal causes for their decline
are habitat destruction and hunting for skin and other body parts. Tigers are the most abundant in
India and the Russian Far East, though many areas in South East Asia could also sustain healthy
populations. The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest cat on the planet, and contains several
varieties including the Siberian, Sumatran, and Bengal tigers. Sub-species such as the Javan,
Bali and Caspian tigers are already extinct, and the species overall is categorized as Endangered
according to the internationally recognized Red List. Habitat is crucial for the survival and
recovery. For example, a female tiger occupies between 25 and 1,600 square kilometers
(10 and 625 square miles), while males range over even larger areas. Source: Save The Tiger Fund
Tiger Watch News Letter, July 2006.
Only 56 butterfly species now remain in Britain!
Butterfly species of Britain are becoming extinct county by county. It is deeply worrying
scientists and conservationists. For example, the county of Hertfordshire has lost the most
species (17) in the past century. Butterflies are more sensitive indicators of environmental
changes than other well-known groups such as birds and plants. At a time of rapid climate change,
continued loss and fragmentation of wildlife habitats, modern farming techniques, and chemical
pollution, there is a greater need than ever to keep track of their changing fortunes. Source:
Butterfly Conservation, July 2006.
Opening trails favor exotic plant invasion!
A recent study conducted in protected areas in the Réunion Island (Mascarene Archipelogo,
Indian Ocean) showed that the creation of trails has contributed to the geographic expansion of
Rubus alceifolius a widespread exotic invasive species plant. Rubus alceifolius is able to
germinate on both narrow and wide trails, but persist only on the wider ones. Wide forest trails
also favor the establishment of non-native plants and decrease species diversity.
The authors recommend that forest managers should avoid creating wide forest trails.
Instead, small understorey trails that do not create opening in the forest canopy should be
considered. Source: Revue d'Ecologie (Terre et Vie), Vol. 60, 2005.
Call for the formation of the Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA) for stopping further losses of amphibians!
A new coalition is born to stop the dramatic decline of amphibian around the world.
The Amphibian Survival Alliance aims to raise US$ 400 million for an initial budget of 5 years.
The money would pay for the protection of habitats, for disease prevention and captive-breeding
projects, and for the ability to respond to emergencies. According to the Global Amphibian
Assessment almost a third of the 5,743 known species of amphibians are at risk of extinction and
up to 122 have disappeared within the last 25 years. The extent of these declines and extinctions
is without precedent in any class of animals over the last few millennia. Chytridiomycosis, a
fungal disease which emerged in the 1970s, occupied much of the delegates' attention.
Source: Science Vol. 313, July 2006.
Check out our Amphibian Gallery and learn more about
amphibian decline and extinction, and check out some our
project to save amphibians.
An Australian man caught smuggling eggs from endangered birds in his underwear has been fined US$19,000 (A$25,000)!
An Australian man was about to board a plane, when a customs officer noticed something
suspicious about his appearance. A search revealed six eggs hidden inside a stocking in his
underwear. The eggs were then taken to Taronga Zoo where two gang gang cockatoos and two galahs
hatched. Both of these bird species are listed under the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species, and their trade is highly controlled. In February, he pleaded guilty to
exporting a regulated native specimen without a permit or exemption. The charges carry a
maximum 10-year prison sentence, but Floyd was not given a jail term because the birds were not
from the wild, but from his own collection. Galah and gang gang cockatoo eggs can be sold for
tens of thousands of dollars on the Asian black market.
Source: BBC News July 2006
More than 750 endangered star tortoises confiscated from illegal trading will be released back in the wild!
The dry deciduous forests of Idukki's Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary are playing second home to
the endangered star tortoises, which were rescued during smuggling attempts through the state's
airports. The 91-sq km sanctuary, situated 65 km from Munnar, first adopted the cute little
tortoises in March this year. The Forest Department had released 482 of them into Chinnar after
the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence rescued them from the baggage of a Bangkok-bound passenger
at the airport here. Now, the Malayattoor Forest Division is planning to release a much larger
batch, consisting of 723 tortoises, into the sanctuary. They're usually found in dry areas," he
said. Forest department officials said that the star tortoises are sourced by the smugglers from
Tamil Nadu. Kerala airports are being used as conduits to South East Asian nations where they are
in huge demand as good luck charms. Declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1984, Chinnar is characterized
by dry thorny scrub and deciduous forests. Home to several endangered species; it is also the only
home in Kerala of the grizzled giant squirrel.
Source: New India Press, July 2006
Australian court permits humane society to sue Japanese whalers!
The Federal Court of Australia has granted Humane Society International permission to proceed
with a lawsuit against the Japanese company that hunts whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary
adjacent to Antarctica. The conservation group now will ask the court for an injuction stopping
the whale hunt, which is carried out by the Japanese company Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd. as part of
"Japan's scientific research program". Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd, has killed more than 850 minke
whales within the Australian Whale Sanctuary since the sanctuary was proclaimed in July 2000
under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act,
according to Humane Society International estimates.
Source: ENS July 2006
Two new species of oriental shrubfrog discovered in India!
The two new species of shrubfrog (Philautus anili and P. dubois) were found in Western Ghats,
India, along roadside vegetation and gardens. Those two frogs were abundant at the sites were they
were observed indicating that probably several of the most common western Ghats frogs are still
not scientifically described. These two species also occupy rainforest. These novelties show that
some shrubfrogs are not fully depending on rainforest as previously believed, and that roadside
vegetation is also an important habitat feature.
Source: Amphibia-Reptilia 27: 1-9. 2006
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