ThinkingShift species watch

June 6, 2007 at 3:00 am 2 comments

Iberian lynx from Scientific AmericanWell, let’s start off with the really bad news: Scientific American has listed 10 animals that are about to disappear: extinct, kaput. They are:

  • Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) the world’s most endangered cat species that once thrived in Spain, Portugal and Southern France. Two years ago, I had the privilege of spotting an Iberian lynx whilst staying in Portugal – beautiful animal, with large, intelligent eyes.
  • Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii ) there are only 7500 or so of these gorgeous animals left in the world and their numbers are declining by about 1000 per year. So if my maths is right – they’ll be extinct in the year 2015 or so. And the cause of their plight? well no surprise – deforestation, logging etc.
  • Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii). Even though I’m Australian, I haven’t heard too much about this endangered species. Wombats are cute looking Australian marsupials that burrow underground. The northern hairy nosed is the largest wombat, growing as long as one metre and can weigh in at 40 kilos. Only 100 of these wombats are left in a small, protected area in Queensland – shocker.
  • Wild bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus). This lovely creature is a very shy ancestor of domesticated camels and lives in the arid Gashun Gobi region of the Gobi Desert in northwestern China and southwestern Mongoli. It has two humps. The irony is that this camel withstood 45 years of nuclear testing in the Gashun Gobi, but is unlikely to survive mining, hunting and industrial development. There are only about 650 bactrian camels remaining in China and 350 in Mongolia.
  • Dama gazelle (Gazella dama). An elegant animal that is on the fast-track to extinction. During the 1990s, 80% of the population vanished due to (you guessed it) hunting and habitat destruction. Probably about 100 of these beauties still exist, scattered throughout north Africa—in Chad, Niger and Mali. Hunters continue to stalk this gazelle, so it’s just a matter of time.
  • Seychelles sheathed-tailed bat (Coleura seychellensis). Only 50-100 of these furry flying cuties are extant – that’s all. They are endemic to Silhouette, Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, islands in the Seychelles archipelago. Researchers believe that only two substantial roosts remain, both in boulder caves on Silhouette Island. Not good.
  • Chinese alligator (Alligator sinensis). This is a mini-alligator and dwells in the wetlands of the lower reaches of the Yangtze—the same river that sheltered the rare and probably now extinct Chinese river dolphin. It’s a very secretive animal and loves to burrow tunnels,which annoys local farmers. Experts estimate a mere 150 to 200 individuals persist in the wild, making this reptile the most endangered crocodilian species in the world.
  • Black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis). I came face to face with two black rhinos in South Africa about 3 years ago when on a walking safari. Despite the fright of coming across them suddenly and the stand-off between us, I took a photo. Just as well considering future generations will only have images to look at and probably not the real animal. Black rhino horns are highly prized as ornaments and for its medicinal properties. At the turn of the 20th Century, hundreds of thousands happily roamed the African landscape; now only a few thousand remain, vulnerable to poaching and habitat loss.
  • Pied tamarin (Saguinus bicolor). What a cute monkey! It has a hairless face and ears and lives in a very small, very precarious area – Manaus, Brazil – a sprawling city of 2 million people. Urban expansion is threatening the monkey’s habitat, along with competition from close-relative, the golden-handed tamarin, which inhabits the same area.
  • Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea). I didn’t realise this turtle was endangered. Leatherbacks are the largest of all sea turtles and the deepest divers, plunging to depths of 1200 metres as they seek out jellyfish. Leatherbacks are distributed in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, as far north as British Columbia and as far south as Argentina. They migrate between continents, making both transatlantic and transpacific journeys between feeding and nesting sites. But their numbers have declined over the last 20 years or so as a result of poaching for egg and meat consumption, destruction of nesting sites from beachfront development, disorientation of hatchlings from the artificial lighting created by those developments, accidental capture by commercial fisherman and other factors. In 1980 the global population of nesting females was estimated at 115,000. Now that number has dropped to between 26,000 and 43,000.

Go and have a look at the gallery of photos for these 10 beautiful but doomed animals over at Scientific American. The photo accompanying this post – I’ve pinched from Sciam and it’s of the Iberian lynx.

Meanwhile, I have found a good news story on endangered species. I found this website – devoted to success stories in species recovery. The site includes 100 amazing success stories that were put together for Endangered Species Day 2007 (May 18). Here are some heartwarming tales:

  • the American Bald Eagle increased from 416 to 9,789 pairs between 1963 and 2006.
  • the Peregrine Falcon increased from 324 to 1,700 pairs between 1975 and 2000.
  • Gray Wolf populations increased dramatically in the Northern Rockies, Southwest and Great Lakes.
  • Virginia big-eared bat, the state bat of Virginia, US, which increased from 3,500 in 1979 to 18,442 in 2004.

A section of the site is called The Race Against Extinction – a list of species on the brink. So although the 10 species featured in this post are facing extinction, at least there are species being saved by dedicated and caring people.

And to finish this post on a really good note: a pair of golden eagles have produced the first chick to be hatched in the Republic of Ireland in nearly a century after the species was hunted to extinction in the country.

Entry filed under: Education and Awareness, Endangered species, ThinkingShift species watch.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jemma  |  June 19, 2007 at 10:17 am

    hi i am a animal lover iv alays had an animal by mi said

  • 2. aastha  |  February 1, 2008 at 11:20 am

    im a true lover of the animals im also veg!(that means i dont kill them!) im really sad to know the these anymals are no longer!
    huh im really really very very very sad.


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