Monthly Archives: August 2009

2,600 Frog Species on Brink of Extinction


Bogor. Thousands of the world’s frog species are on the brink of extinction and efforts to conserve them are urgently needed, the president of the Association of Southeast Asian Zoos said on Wednesday.

“It has been established that Indonesia has the largest number of frog species in Asia and the second largest in the world after Brazil,” Jansen Manansang said on the sidelines of an international workshop on amphibians being held in Cisarua subdistrict.

“However, certain species are on the brink of extinction.”

Manansang said Indonesia’s rice-field frog was among the endangered species as a result of the use of pesticides that drove the frogs from their natural habitat.

The survival of frogs is also threatened by global warming, which has promoted the spread of clyrid fungi infection throughout the world. “This condition has caused amphibians to come under pressure,” he said.

These threats were highlighted in a global amphibian assessment, which reported that of the 5,918 amphibian species evaluated, 35 had become extinct, 1,896 were in critical condition and 2,604 on the brink of extinction.

In an effort to save amphibians, a number of groups cooperated to organize the Year of the Frog in 2008. Another group carried out a project that identified some 351 new species of frogs, but their conservation status was still unknown.

“This workshop is expected to issue recommendations on the conservation of amphibians in Indonesia and help familiarize the role of amphibians in protecting balance in the ecosystem,” Manansang said.

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Freshwater Crabs Critically Endangered Around the World


Two thirds of all different species of freshwater crabs are at risk of becoming extinct, says a new survey.

That means that freshwater crabs are some of the most endangered of all groups of animals reviewed thus far. This research is the first worldwide evaluation of the extinction danger of any collection of freshwater invertebrates.

Crab species in Southeast Asia are the most vulnerable, mainly due to habitat devastation and pollution.

Scientists from the Zoological Society of London and Northern Michigan University conducted the survey, and released the first World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List review of the 1280 identified species of freshwater crab.

The researchers discovered that 227 species should be labeled as at risk, endangered or gravely endangered. For 628 other species, not enough information is available to properly evaluate them, said the survey released in the journal Biological Conservation.

The most hopeful scenario is that 16% of every species is endangered, while the worst case scenario implies that the number could be as great as 65%, or two-thirds of every species.

Freshwater crabs are vital to freshwater ecosystems They eat leaves and algae, while others aid cycle nutrients by consuming huge amounts of detritus.

The crabs are a significant supply of food for animals like herons, kingfishers, monitor lizards, crocodiles, frogs and toads. Mammals that depend on the freshwater crabs include otters, mongooses, civets, wild boar and macaque monkeys.

Since the majority of the species needs clean water to live, they are also outstanding indicators of water quality. However, these species are progressively becoming harmed by habitat devastation.

40 of 50 species that live in Sri Lanka are seriously at risk. These species have a semi-terrestrial life; breathing air, digging burrows and spending their time in both water and land. They are the most endangered, due to the disturbance of their habitats by humans.

Although non have yet gone extinct, some species, like the terrestrial crab Thaipotamon siamese and the waterfall crab Demanietta manii from Thailand, have not been seen for nearly a century, and their habitats have harmed by urban developments.

“We must set clear goals to reverse these trends and ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out the small things that provide us with great benefits, such as nutrient cycling,” said Ben Collen, one the survey scientists from the Zoological Society of London, to BBC news.

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With Bat Extinctions Looming, 1.5 Million Dead, Group Says Feds Must Make Saving Bats First Priority

For Immediate Release, August 24, 2009

Contact: Mollie Matteson, Center for Biological Diversity, (802) 434-2388 (office); (802) 318-1487 (cell)

RICHMOND, Vt.— Mounting evidence that several species of bats have been all but eliminated from the Northeast due to a new disease known as white-nose syndrome prompted a conservation group to send a letter today to Sam Hamilton, the new director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, urging that action on the bat epidemic be his first priority.

In the letter, Kierán Suckling, executive director of the national, nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity, wrote: “…while we suspect you are still unpacking boxes in your new office, we feel compelled to spotlight a wildlife emergency of the highest order. This crisis, the bat epidemic known as white-nose syndrome, cannot afford any delay before receiving your focused attention.”

The bat disease appears to be caused by a fungus unknown to science before the outbreak was first documented two winters ago in bat caves near Albany, New York. Since then, white-nose syndrome — so named because of the fungal growth around bats’ muzzles — has spread to nine states and killed an estimated 1.5 million bats. Bats from New England to West Virginia are now affected by the illness, and scientists fear that this coming winter the syndrome will show up in Kentucky and Tennessee, where some of the largest bat colonies in the world are located.

“Scientists are saying this disease could be on the West Coast in two to three years, at the rate it is spreading,” said Mollie Matteson, a wildlife biologist and conservation advocate for the Center in its Richmond, Vermont office. “Some scientists are even warning that under a worst-case scenario, we may lose all bats in North America. Such a tragedy could have disastrous consequences for agriculture and ecosystems because of the role of bats in insect control and pollination.”

The Center’s letter was sent in response to preliminary reports from bat surveys last winter and this summer, which show many affected bat populations in New England and New York reduced to 10 percent or less of former numbers. The letter also points to the severe lack of funding for research and the absence of a nationwide plan for addressing white-nose syndrome as major impediments to stopping this wildlife crisis.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is clearly the most appropriate agency to take the lead in addressing what is rapidly becoming a national wildlife disaster,” Suckling’s letter went on to say. “Yet the agency has still not created a dedicated, full-time position for a white-nose syndrome coordinator, nor has it requested funds adequate to address the growing crisis.”

The Center called for the Fish and Wildlife Service to create a national white-nose syndrome plan that includes research priorities, a system for coordination with other federal and state agencies, a budget, and a plan for protecting bats, both those already affected as well as populations not yet infected.

Congress has thus far responded to pleas for additional funding from scientists and conservation groups by appropriating $500,000 for white-nose syndrome monitoring. This is only 10 percent of what biologists, testifying at congressional hearings earlier this year, said was needed. The Fish and Wildlife Service itself has not submitted a funding request for the disease.

Suckling warned in his letter to Director Hamilton that: “Crucial research projects that could further our understanding of the disease and the mechanism by which it spreads are not happening, due to lack of resources. Without this knowledge, there’s little chance we’ll discover a way to stop the disease in time to save species from extinction.“

Read the Center’s letter to Director Hamilton here.


The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 225,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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ZSL Condemns Tiger | Murder Poachers kill endangered tiger in Jambi Zoo, Indonesia

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is calling for further enforcement to protect Sumatran tigers, after a female tiger that had formerly been part of a conservation project run by ZSL was slaughtered at Jambi Zoo for her body parts.


PRESS RELEASEAug 25, 2009 – behind.  It’s believed the body parts will be sold on the black market, where they’re in high demand for their use in Chinese medicine.

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is involved in conservation efforts to save the Sumatran Tiger in the region and in 2003, ran a veterinary workshop at Jambi Zoo which included the female tiger.

Sarah Christie, tiger conservation manager for ZSL said: “This tragic incident highlights the need for improved law enforcement at a local level.  It is shocking that this tiger, who has contributed to tiger conservation via her role in training young Indonesian wildlife biologists and vets, should fuel the trade in wildlife parts which threatens her kind with extinction.”

ZSL conservationists have recently started working with the Jambi provincial government to set up a local wildlife crime team, using trainers from experienced and successful units elsewhere in Sumatra.  The team will work with local law enforcement authorities and the staff of Berbak National Park, to prevent poaching and other illegal activities in and around the park and to investigate local wildlife traders and middlemen.

The ZSL Indonesia programme began formally in 2002 under the sponsorship of the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) with the aim of taking a research-based, pragmatic approach to conservation in Indonesia. Initially focused specifically on the relationship between oil palm and the tiger on Sumatra, the project is now expanding to tackle a variety of conservation issues with a landscape perspective.  The latest initiative is a small local wildlife crime unit.  For further information please visit /


ZSL coordinates the European zoo tiger breeding programme and also oversees joint management of the Australasian and European programmes.  Sarah Christie has also recently taken on a role coordinating global genetic and demographic analysis of these tigers in zoos around the world, a programme authorised by the Indonesian zoo association.  Zoo tigers are managed to provide, via awareness-raising, fund-raising, data generation and “the genetic lifeboat”, the maximum possible conservation support for their wild relations.


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ounded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. The Society runs ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, carries out scientific research at the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation overseas. For further information please visit

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Mekong dolphins on the brink of extinction


Mekong River dolphins on the verge of extinction
June 2009. Pollution in the Mekong River has pushed the local population of Irrawaddy dolphins to the brink of extinction, according to a new WWF report.
Less than 80 dolphins left
The Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) population inhabits a 190 kilomtere stretch of the Mekong River between Cambodia and Lao PDR. Since 2003, the population has suffered 88 deaths of which more than 60 percent were calves under two weeks old. The latest population is estimated between 64 and 76 members.

Immune system depressed by pollutants
“Necropsy analysis identified a bacterial disease as the cause of the calf deaths. This disease would not be fatal unless the dolphin’s immune systems were suppressed, as they were in these cases, by environmental contaminants,” said Dr Verné Dove, report author and veterinarian with WWF Cambodia.

Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella Brevirostris) at  Koh Kon Sat, Mekong River, Cambodia. The dolphins were photographed during the dolphin population research conducted by WWF Cambodia's Mekong Dolphin Conservation Project in November 2007. C Dave Dove /WWF Greater Mekong.
Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella Brevirostris) at Koh Kon Sat, Mekong River, Cambodia. The dolphins were photographed during the dolphin population research conducted by WWF Cambodia’s Mekong Dolphin Conservation Project in November 2007. C Dave Dove /WWF Greater Mekong.

Researchers found toxic levels of pesticides such as DDT and environmental contaminants such as PCBs during analysis of the dead dolphin calves. These pollutants may also pose a health risk to human populations living along the Mekong that consume the same fish and water as the dolphins.

“These pollutants are widely distributed in the environment and so the source of this pollution may involve several countries through which the Mekong River flows. WWF Cambodia is currently investigating the source of the environmental contaminants,” said Dr Dove.

High levels of Mercury
High levels of mercury were also found in some of the dead dolphins. Mercury, suspected to be from gold mining activities, directly affects the immune system making the animals more susceptible to infectious disease.

“A trans-boundary preventative health programme is urgently needed to manage the disease affected animals in order to reduce the number of deaths each year,” said Seng Teak, Country Director of WWF Cambodia.

Limited genetic diversity due to inbreeding was another factor in the dolphin deaths.

“The Mekong River dolphins are isolated from other members of their species and they need our help. Science has shown that if the habitat of cetaceans is protected then populations can show remarkable resilience,” said Mr Teak.

The Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphin has been listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species since 2004.

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Poachers pushing rhinos to extinction


Poachers seeking horn for traditional medicines are driving once thriving populations of rhinos in Africa and Asia towards extinction, global nature protection groups said on Thursday. In a report issued in Geneva, they said illegal slaughter of the already endangered animals is rising fast, with rates hitting a 15-year high amid stepped-up activities by Asian-based criminal gangs feeding the demand for horn. “Illegal rhino horn trade to destinations in Asia is driving the killing, with growing evidence of involvement of Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai nationals in the illegal procurement and transport of the horn out of Africa,” the report declared. While between 2000 and 2005 a relatively low total of three rhinos was estimated to have been illegally killed each month in Africa out of a total population of some 18,000, 12 were now being slaughtered monthly in the two countries alone. In India, 10 of the animals had been slaughtered for horn since January and at least 7 in Nepal, out of a total population for the two countries of just 2,400, the report said. In many Asian countries, rhino horn has long been regarded as a vital ingredient in folk cures for many illnesses as well as for male sexual impotency, although medical specialists say it has no healing or potency powers. But the WWF’s Lieberman said the upsurge marks “the worst rhino poaching for many years” and represents a deadly threat to the animals’ survival around the world. reuters

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Sundari trees in Sundarbans on verge of extinction


The top-dying disease of Sundari trees has alarmingly increased due to lack of required sweet water flow in the Sundarbans.

The disease attacked about 45.2 million trees worth about Taka two crore at 15 compartments in 15 square kilometers of the largest mangrove forest in the world.

Sources said there are 334 species of trees in the

Sundarbans where the Sundari trees are abundant and facing extinction.

Mainly, the top-dying disease attacked the Sundari trees in 6, 14, 19, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28, 32, 33, 35, 37, 38, and 39 compartments of the forest.

A biodiversity project was taken up in 2001 as experts feared that extensive damage to other trees might occur if the affected Sundari trees are not removed immediately.

Team leader of the project Stephen Divence in his report stated that if the affected trees are not removed, the disease will cause damage to other trees.

District Forest Officer (DFO) of the west zone of the Sundarbans Abani Bhusan Tagore told BSS that this report was not based on facts.

He said climatic change, rise in saline water and decrease in the sweet water flow in the Sundarbans are the main causes of the top-dying disease of the Sundari trees.

Water expert Ainun Nishat in his research said about 85.67 crore trees are in the Sundarbans. He said the Sundari trees are dying due to the shortage of the sweet water flow.

Prof Abdur Rahman, consultant of different organisations in Dhaka and former head of the Forestry and Wood Technology Discipline of Khulna University, told BSS that the sweet water flow from the upstream is impeded in different ways.

Nutrients in the trees decreased due to the shortfall of sweet water. Later, the top-dying disease increased due to fungus, he added.

He expressed his view that increase in salinity in the rivers of the Sundarbans and chemical wastes from the sea caused the disease.

“If the water flow from the river Ganges is increased, the sweet water flow with nutrients will also be increased in the Sundarbans. But this step should be taken at the government level of the two countries,” he added.

Prof Abdur Rahman said the Sundari trees are on the verge of extinction. So, immediate steps should be taken to check the top- dying disease, he added.


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