Posts Tagged ‘Endangered species’

Nature Ramble

Dolphins are dolphins, right?

Well, not quite. The bottle-nose dolphin is probably the most famous, but what about Maui’s dolphin, not so famous.

Maui’s dolphin is the world’s smallest dolphin, and it’s found in only one place in the world, in the Tasman Sea off the west coast of New Zealand, and yes, it is endangered.

Protective measures are a ‘death sentence’ for rare dolphin say campaigners

The tiny Maui’s dolphins are only found off the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island

Measures to protect one of the world’s rarest dolphins have been denounced as a “death sentence” by campaigners.

Only 55 adult Maui’s dolphins are known to survive off the coast of New Zealand but their numbers are being threatened by fishing and disease.

The NZ government has proposed extending a protection zone to save the tiny, black and white cetaceans.

But researchers say the actions don’t go far enough and argue the Maui’s could be extinct within 20 years.

The Maui’s are the world’s smallest and rarest dolphins and only found on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

They are closely related to another native species called Hector’s dolphins which survive in far greater numbers.

Net impact

In 2012 a survey commissioned by the New Zealand government’s Department of Conservation found that there were approximately 55 Maui’s left above the age of one.

They estimated there were around 20 breeding females. These give birth to one calf every two to four years.

Conservationists say the introduction of nylon filament nets in the 1970s has been a key factor in the decline of these dolphins.

The Maui’s inhabit coastal waters up to a depth of 100 metres but have come into contact with trawlers and with fishermen using set nets which have proved particularly destructive to these animals.

Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins enjoy surfing the waves in groups

The New Zealand government has recently announced new restrictions on fishing, extending the ban on the use of set nets by 350 square kilometres.

According to the conservation minister, Dr Nick Smith, the move will help reduce the biggest threat to the Maui’s.

“We are taking a cautious approach by banning set netting where there is clear evidence the Maui’s dolphins go while not unnecessarily banning fishing where they are not.”

But campaigners for the small cetacean and some conservationists are outraged by the government’s proposals, saying they amounted to a “death sentence” for the mammals.

They say that more than 75% of the Maui’s habitat still remains unprotected from set netting and trawling.

“These new measures will do nothing to stop the dolphins’ decline,” said Dr Elizabeth Slooten from the University of Otago, who has studied these creatures for 30 years.

Court threat

The Maui’s have been declared critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), who passed a motion urging full protection in waters up to 100m deep.

The International Whaling Commission and the Society for Marine Mammology have also urged the New Zealand government to remove fishing nets from the Maui’s habitat.

The German conservation group, NABU International, is to challenge the decision in the New Zealand High Court and is calling for a boycott of seafood from the country.

“New Zealand’s failure to protect the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin is a bitter blow to marine conservation,” said Dr Barbara Maas from NABU.

“New Zealand has ignored the facts and the advice of the world’s scientific community to accommodate the commercial interests of its fishing industry,” she said.

Fishing nets are the biggest threat facing New Zealand’s native dolphins

As well as fishing, many campaigners are concerned about the activities of oil companies in New Zealand’s waters, particularly their use of seismic surveying, which can impact mammals including whales and dolphins.

In the new protection plan, the New Zealand government says it will deal specifically with this issue.

“A mandatory code of conduct will apply to any seismic survey work in all New Zealand fisheries waters,” said Dr Nick Smith.

Despite these steps, the Maui’s are likely to follow the path of the Yantze river dolphins and disappear within two decades unless more is done say campaigners.

“They are not doomed to extinction,” said Dr Maas.

“Genetic variability is still high, they can bounce back but saving them is a race against time.”

000BBC_logo

 

 

Advertisements

Take a Different Look

Tongue in cheek…

Nature Ramble

Off today to have a look at an unusual creature.

The Pangolin

The physical appearance of a pangolin is marked by large, hardened, plate-like scales. The scales, which are soft on newborn pangolins but harden as the animal matures, are made of keratin, the same material of which human fingernails and tetrapod claws are made. The pangolin’s scaled body is comparable to a pine cone or globe artichoke. It can curl up into a ball when threatened, with its overlapping scales acting as armour and its face tucked under its tail. The scales are sharp, providing extra defense. The front claws are so long they are unsuited for walking, so the animal walks with its fore paws curled over to protect them. Pangolins can also emit a noxious-smelling acid from glands near the anus, similar to the spray of a skunk. Pangolins, though, are not able to spray this acid like skunks. They have short legs, with sharp claws which they use for burrowing into termite and ant mounds, as well as climbing. – Wikipedia

Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) – image: Project Pangolin

 

Pangolins under threat as black market trade grows

The scaly anteater is less well-known compared with other illegally hunted species, but it is highly prized by traffickers

Endangered … the plight of the pangolin is not helped by its low profile compared with threatened species such as elephants, lions and tigers. Photograph: How Hwee Young/EPA

Last year tens of thousands of elephants and hundreds of rhinos were slaughtered to meet the growing demands of illegal trade in wild animals. Largely centred on eastern Asia, this black market is also devouring hundreds of tigers, sharks, tortoises, snakes and other rare beasts. It’s a flourishing trade, worth an estimated $19bn a year. But little attention is paid to the pangolin, or scaly anteater, one of the mammals that suffers most from such poaching.

Trade in the pangolin was banned worldwide in 2000, but the meat and supposed medicinal qualities of this unobtrusive animal – the only mammal to sport scales – have made it one of the most highly prized targets for traffickers in Asia. The meat is considered a great delicacy and many believe the scales can cure various diseases, including asthma and certain cancers, as well as boosting virility. Pangolins have become so rare that they may fetch as much as $1,000 a piece on the black market.

As a result, two out of four of the Asian species — the Sunda, or Malayan, pangolin, and its Chinese counterpart (respectively Manis javanica and Manis pentadactyla) — are endangered and the other two are near threatened, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Two of the four African species are near threatened too. There are no figures for the number of specimens in existence worldwide, but the experts warn that their disappearance would alter the ecosystem of tropical forests, due to the rise in the number of ants and termites.

Despite the scaly anteater being protected, poaching is on the rise. In January four Chinese nationals were arrested in Jakarta with 189 pangolin skins in their luggage. In April, October and November of last year French customs officers at Roissy-CDG airport seized several tens of kilos of scales. In May 2011 a record haul of 7.5 tonnes of pangolin meat was discovered at Tanjung Priok port in north Jakarta, concealed under a layer of frozen fish in crates on their way to Vietnam. Other seizures have been reported in Thailand, Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Burma and Vietnam.

“Since 2000, tens of thousands of animals have been traded in each year internationally, from countries ranging from Pakistan to Indonesia in Asia and from Zimbabwe to Guinea in Africa,” says Dan Challender, co-Chair of the new IUCN Pangolin specialist group, quoted by the Mongabay website. In 2010 the wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic published a report alleging that a Malaysian crime syndicate had captured 22,000 pangolins aged over 18 months. In 2011 between 40,000 and 60,000 were netted in Vietnam alone.

Many are transported live to ensure meat is fresh, but a large number die of hunger or thirst during transport. In addition traffickers often inject them with water to increase their body weight.

Much as with elephants, rhinos and tigers, existing laws and penalties are too feeble to really discourage the traffic. The anteater’s low profile merely makes matters worse. “Unfortunately,” says Traffic’s Kanitha Krishnasamy, “pangolins do not attract as much attention from the public, and by extension from the authorities.”

000theGuardianLogo

Nature Ramble

This week we’re off to Nepal to see what problems they are having with wild animals.

It appears that National Parks and saving rare and endangered species creates other problems.

 

Attacks prompt Nepal to cap wildlife growth

 

Attacks by wild animals have caused lives and property to be lost

Officials in Nepal have said they will now have to put a cap on the growth of wildlife including endangered species like tigers and rhinos.

They say it is a result of significant increase in loss of human lives from attacks by wild animals.

The problem is especially acute in buffer zones between human settlements and national parks.

In recent years, Nepal has developed a successful protection programme for many endangered species.

The Bardiya National Park in the west now has more than 80 elephants, almost 10 times as many as there were in the 1990s.

In the Himalayas, the numbers of endangered species like snow leopards and red pandas have been growing as well.

And the country has nearly 24% of its land area as protected areas, including national parks, conservation areas and wildlife reserves.

With all these achievements in nature conservation, however, Nepal has also witnessed a rising number of human deaths and property losses because of wildlife.

In the last five years, more than 80 people have been killed by wild elephants while 17 of the animals died in retaliatory killings, according to forest ministry officials.

Elephant protest

Last month, local people in Chitwan, southern Nepal, staged a strike and demanded that a rogue elephant be killed after it had taken the lives of three people.

A few months ago, a leopard in western Nepal caused terror as it killed more than a dozen people within a matter of weeks.

In eastern Nepal, herds of wild elephants continue to rampage, demolishing human settlements and raiding crops.

National park boundaries are no barrier to animal movement

Meanwhile, common leopards are increasingly attacking children and livestock in the hilly region.

Further north, in the trans-Himalayan region, locals continue to complain about snow leopards preying on their livestock.

Although forest ministry officials are yet to compile the latest data on these losses, they do admit that such incidents have gone up remarkably.

“Before, we used to record about 30 human deaths because of wildlife attacks annually but in the past few years the figure appears to have risen significantly,” said Forest Ministry spokesman Krishna Acharya who, until recently, headed Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.

He added: “The time has now come for us to determine how many such wildlife species we can have in our protected areas.”

WWF’s Nepal country director, Anil Manandhar, said the problem had become quite serious.

“This is now something that could become the biggest threat and setback for Nepal’s success in wildlife conservation,” he explained.

Buffer zones

Wildlife experts say human settlements known as buffer zones around national parks have become flashpoints for human-wildlife encounters.

“The numbers of rhinos and tigers are increasing in the national park and they are moving out in search of food and space. Meanwhile, the increasing human population needs more of the natural resources available, and that competition creates conflict,” said Mr Acharya.

Most of Nepal’s national parks and protected areas are either in the Himalayan region or in the Tarai area, the southern plain land that border India.

Yet, wildlife-related loss of lives and properties are also increasingly being seen in the mid-hill region, geographically located between the Himalayas and Tarai plain land.

Rhino numbers in Chitwan National Park have shot up in recent years

Conservationists point at the growing number of attacks on children and livestock by common leopards because this region has seen huge success in community forestry.

“We have been hearing complaints from farmers that community forests have more wildlife than in some national parks and therefore they are suffering losses of lives and properties,” said Yam Bahadur Malla, country director for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Nepal.

He also suggested it was necessary to scientifically demarcate the boundaries of national parks, as some species involved in the attacks were sometimes found outside the existing boundaries.

Forest ministry officials, however, said the chances of expanding existing protected areas were very slim because Nepal had already made huge swathes of land available for nature conservation.

Mr Acharya said the details of plans to limit wildlife growth were yet to be worked out but he added that one of the ideas would be to relocate some of the wildlife species.

“We have listed nine such species that can be trans-located from where there are quite many of them to where there are very few and such species include animals involved in conflicts with humans,” he said.

Mr Acharya also hinted that Nepal will now not commit to protect more wildlife than the amount its protected areas could sustain.

“For instance, we have said we will double the number of tigers to 250. But as we cannot expand our protected areas, we will not be able to commit more than that,” he said.

“Nor can we add new conservation areas.”

000BBC_logo

Make you Fink on Friday

Let them die out

Extinction!

We hear this word all the time; it has become a by-word.

Everything is becoming extinct, even us, because of us.

But daily we hear of rhinos, black, white, Javan, of tigers and elephants, all under more immediate threat than us.

However, there is another group of animals that are being consigned to extinction, and nobody is saying “Boo!” In fact decisions have been made to let them die out.

Man is playing God again!

100 most endangered species: priceless or worthless?

Scientists working for the IUCN have identified 100 species they fear will be allowed to die out as they have no obvious benefits for humans. Published on Tuesday at the World Conservation Congress in South Korea, the list was compiled by 8,000 scientists, and is the first of its kind

Rio Pescado stubfoot toad, Atelopus balios Population size: Unknown Range: Azuay, Cañar and Guyas provinces, south-western Ecuador Threats: Chytridiomycosis and habitat destruction due to logging and agricultural expansion Action required: Protection of last remaining habitat – Photograph: Eduardo Toral-Contreras/ZSL/IUCN

See and read about another 28 species

Opinion:

Sloths, bats, chameleons, iguanas; and not only animals, plants too like the wild yam of South Africa are amongst the most endangered species.

Apparently, if they have no obvious value, man is not interested in saving them.

My thinking is that any animal or plant that is in danger of extinction because of man’s activities like destruction of habitats, the introduction of alien predators,  or over-harvesting, then efforts should be made to save them.

To say that one species should be saved, but another is not, is not man’s decision to make. We have interrupted the balance and we should redress the imbalance. It is our responsibility to do so.

I can understand not taking action where the inevitable demise is naturally generated, that is Mother Nature at work, in her infinite wisdom.

I am saddened beyond comprehension, actually, appalled would be a better word, to think that man has stooped this low.

Make you Fink on Friday

I know I’m a day late again, but sometimes it’s difficult to arrange the timing of something to ‘fink’ about with Fridays. I could, of course made this post Something to Stink about on Saturday, but decided to save you the ignominy.

I have been thinking for sometime about how we have gotten ourselves so out-of-synch with nature. The reasons are obvious, man’s greed, simply that.

But is this the first time it has happened?

I have have thought not, and this morning I found a thoughtful article that supported my thoughts on the matter. I want to share that article with you, because it is something to ‘Fink about.’

The sixth extinction menaces the very foundations of culture

Human culture is profoundly rooted in nature, yet human activity endangers the survival of entire species of plants and animals

Henri Rousseau’s Surprised!, 1891. Human culture would lose immeasurably from the disappearance of the tiger from the natural world. Photograph: Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images

In a cave in south-west France an extinct animal materialises out of the dark. Drawn in vigorous black lines by an artist in the ice age, a woolly mammoth shakes hairs that hide its face and vaunts slender tusks that reach almost to the ground.

Those tusks were not dangerous enough to save it. As human hunters advanced on its icy haunts, mammoths faced extinction between 4,000 and 10,000 years ago. The end of the ice age did for these shaggy cold-lovers, but humans helped: entire huts built from mammoth tusks and bones have been found.

We didn’t mean to help make the mammoth extinct. The wonderful portrait of a mammoth in Pech Merle cave reveals that early homo sapiens was fascinated by these marvellous creatures. This masterpiece of cave art is as acute as any modern work of naturalist observation. The hunters who painted in caves showed the same passion for the natural world as their descendants do. Their culture must have been bereft when the mammoth vanished – even as they helped it on its way.

In the 21st century the same paradox endures. Human activity endangers entire species, yet human culture is profoundly rooted in nature. The loss of a species is also a loss of the images, stories, symbols and wonders that we live by – to call it a cultural loss may sound too cerebral: what we lose when we lose animals is the very meaning of life. Those first artists in ancient caves portrayed animals far more than they portrayed people. It was in the wild herds around them that the power of the cosmos and the mystery of existence seemed to be located.

No species in modern times embodies that fascination more fully than the tiger, one of today’s most endangered predators. Since the Romantic age tigers have been endowed in art and literature with the marvellous essence of life itself, a primeval power like the enigmatic strangeness the stone age artist saw in a mammoth. “What immortal hand or eye,/ Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” wonders William Blake in his 1794 poem The Tyger. That same childlike awe – Blake’s poem appears in his child’s eye Songs of Innocence and Experience – is shared by Henri Rousseau’s 1891 painting Surprised! of an archetypal tiger in a fantastic jungle.

These artistic hymns to the tiger are just the noblest expressions of an imagery that pervades modern culture from tigers who come to tea to tigers with neat feet. It just seems unimaginable that a creature so familiar in our shared dreams should vanish from the natural world. Human culture would lose immeasurably from such a disappearance. And what about sharks? More ancient than dinosaurs, under threat for the first time in their mind-bogglingly long history, these creatures feed modern culture some of its darkest folklore. Shark films and scare stories are the modern equivalent of stone age hunters telling tales about bears and wolves around the fire. We fear them, but our culture needs them.

Cute creatures as well as scary ones inspire the stories and myths that humans cannot live without. Amphibians, most threatened animal group of all, are among the most universal stars of culture. While Blake was marvelling at tigers, the Grimms recorded the folk tale of the frog-prince. Long before that Plato said the ancient Greeks were like frogs around a pond. Aristophanes wrote a comedy called The Frogs. American frogs were depicted by the Aztecs as well as providing Amazonian peoples with arrow poison. The very naming of poison dart frogs reveals how deeply they are associated with cultures that are themselves on the brink of extinction.

In Britain too, the amphibious denizens of threatened waterlands have always inspired imaginations. Could our culture survive without Toad of Toad Hall?

Not so long ago British beaches were seasonally covered with “mermaid’s purses”, the eggs of sharks and rays. The name reveals how deeply nature feeds folk culture, in Britain as in the Amazon. Is it possible still to find masses of mermaid’s purses on the Welsh rocks where I used to wonder what they were? I have to look for them with my daughter soon, before it is too late. The range of animals and plants threatened by the sixth extinction – as covered by the Guardian over this fortnight – is such that it menaces the foundations of culture as well as the diversity of nature. We are part of nature and it has always fed our imaginations. We face the bare walls of an empty museum, a gallery of the dead.

 

Nature Ramble

Usually the news is bad, especially for those facing extinction. But, sometimes there is a ray of light that illuminates the future.

This weeks Nature Ramble is about one of those faint rays of hope.

.

With a face that only a mother could love…

.

Endangered Sumatran rhinoceros born in captivity

Ratu’s pregnancy lasted about 16 months

A Sumatran rhinoceros – one of the world’s most endangered species – has given birth at a sanctuary in Indonesia.

Conservationists at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Way Kambas National Park said the mother, Ratu, and her male calf were both “very well”.

It is only the fourth recorded case of a Sumatran rhino being born in captivity in a century.

There are thought to be fewer than 200 alive in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Their numbers have dropped by 50% over the past 20 years, largely due to poaching and loss of habitat.

‘Big present’

A spokesman for Indonesia’s forest ministry, Masyhud, told the AFP news agency that Ratu’s labour had gone “smoothly and naturally”.

“It’s really a big present for the Sumatran rhino breeding efforts as we know that this is a very rare species which have some difficulties in their reproduction,” he added.

“This is the first birth of a Sumatran rhino at a sanctuary in Indonesia.”

It was Ratu’s third pregnancy. The previous two ended in miscarriages.

The father of the baby rhino, Andalas, was born at Cincinnati Zoo in the US in 2001 – the first Sumatran rhino to be delivered in captivity in 112 years.

Source: BBC News Read more

%d bloggers like this: