Daily Archives: December 3, 2007

Toads may [become] extinct in 10 years in UK areas due to infection

China View

BEIJING, Nov. 28 (Xinhuanet) — Scientists predict that Britain’s toad population could face extinction in some areas within 10 years due to an infectious fungal disease Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, media reported Wednesday.

The big unknown is just how long the fungus, which lives on the skin of host amphibians, can survive on its own in water. Scientists fear it may be a very long time.

“We start to see dramatic effects if the chytrid (fungus) lives for longer than seven weeks outside the host,” said Mat Fisher of Imperial College in UK.

“We strongly suspect that it can live for longer because of the devastating effect it has had elsewhere, and the new mathematical models show that this would be very bad news for toads in this country.”

If the fungus is able to live outside the host for a year, there would be a severe decline in the overall population of the European common toad (Bufo bufo) in Britain and, in some places, extinction in 10 years.

The disease has already destroyed entire amphibian populations in Central and South America, and Australia, and is a growing problem in some parts of Europe. Scientists have linked its spread to global warming.

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Endangered orang-utan baby born at Perth Zoo

Perth Now

PERTH Zoo has announced the birth of one of the world’s most critically endangered animals – a Sumatran Orang-utan.

Today’s public debut of the male infant coincides with the 12-month anniversary of the Zoo’s historic release of one of its female orang-utans into a protected national park in Indonesia as part of an orang-utan re-introduction program.

Temara – the first captive bred orang-utan in the world to be released into the wild – is thriving in her new home and continues to be closely monitored and tracked daily.

Perth Zoo’s Curator of Exotics, Leif Cocks, said the Zoo’s newest addition, young Nyaru, was born on October 20 to 14-year-old first time mother Negara. Nyaru weighed just under 2kg at birth.

“We gave Nyaru and his mother some private time together before introducing him to the public,” Mr Cocks said.

“He is doing very well and Negara is proving to be a wonderful mother. She is very protective and caring.”

Perth Zoo is a world leader in breeding Sumatran Orang-utans and is part of a regional breeding program for this most threatened species.

“Orang-utans are facing imminent extinction in the wild due to poaching and habitat loss, in particular, land clearing for palm oil plantations,” Mr Cocks said. “There are only 7300 Sumatran Orang-utans left in the wild.

“With the success so far of the reintroduction of the first zoo-born orang-utan to the wild, successful breeding programs like that at Perth Zoo may assist with the re-establishment of extinct populations of Sumatran Orang-utans in protected areas.”

Fifteen-year-old Perth Zoo-born Temara was released into the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park in Sumatra in November 2006 as part of an international effort to re-establish a population of this critically endangered species in the national park. The park is protected by specially trained anti-logging and anti-poaching patrols.

“The release of Temara provides the opportunity to increase the numbers and genetic diversity of the orang-utan population in Bukit Tigapuluh,” Mr Cocks said.

The community can support Sumatran Orang-utan conservation by donating to Perth Zoo’s Wildlife Conservation Action to help build an open orang-utan breeding sanctuary in Sumatra.

• Nyaru will start eating some solids, such as tropical fruit, at about five months of age but will continue to suckle for the next five to six years.

• The father of Nyaru is Perth Zoo’s breeding male 20-year-old Dinar, who arrived from Canada in 2004, bringing with him a valuable new genetic line.

• Nyaru is named after an orang-utan rehabilitation centre in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Nyaru is also a Dyak word meaning ‘very strong’. The Dyak people are the original inhabitants of Kalimantan.

• Since 1970, 26 orang-utans have been born at Perth Zoo. The last birth (a male named Semeru) was in 2005.

• The Zoo’s colony currently comprises eight females and four males.

• Perth Zoo is part of an Australasian captive breeding program for the critically endangered Sumatran Orang-utan.

• Sumatran Orang-utans are the slowest reproducing species in the world. Adult females only give birth to an infant every nine years. The gestation period of orang-utans is 260 days (or 8.5 months) – almost identical to that of humans. The oestrous cycle of orang-utans is 30 days – once again, almost identical to humans.

• Females usually have their first offspring between 12-16 years of age.

• One of our closest biological relatives, orang-utans have around 97% human genetic make-up and have an intelligence level equivalent to that of a five or six-year-old child.

• Orang-utan means person of the forest in Indonesian.

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