Monthly Archives: November 2009

Grey nurse sharks close to extinction


A new survey of grey nurse sharks shows the species is still in severe danger of becoming extinct.

The study, commissioned by the Federal Government, found just over 1,000 of the sharks along the east coast of Australia.

That figure is significantly lower than the 5,000 needed to sustain the population.

Accidental hooking is one of the main threats to the survival of the species.

Nicky Hammond, the marine program manager for the National Parks Association of New South Wales, says the State Government must act now to protect key habitat sites.

“Here we’ve got a critically endangered species, we know what the key threat to their survival is, we know where they spend the majority of their time,” she said.

“It’s a relatively simple process to protect those sites from that key threat of fishing by creating marine sanctuaries and that way hopefully we can actually save this shark from going extinct.

“Time and time again they continue to ignore putting in place the proper protection of marine sanctuaries in these areas and provide tokenistic protection instead.

“We’re calling on the NSW Government, we’re saying enough is enough, that we need to now get these sanctuaries in place before the shark goes extinct.”

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House Sparrows Move Towards Extinction


Ornithologists and forest officers in Punjab have expressed concern over the dwindling population of some popular birds, including the very common house sparrows. Disappearance of the common house sparrow from the urban areas is not something new.

A few years ago, alarm bells rang when the population count of the house sparrows decreased in London. It decreased by a total of 85 per cent.

Tejdeep Kaur, a Zoologist at Punjab Agricultural University traces one of the reasons to habitat loss. We are loosing its nesting sites as there is a loss of shrub vegetation. The overuse of pesticides in agriculture, decline in the reproductive efficiency because of the egg sheath infection are also the contributing factors.

The anti-knocking agents present in petrol decreases the population of insects which is the main food for them during their breeding period.

Though the house sparrow is facing extinction, none of authorities have taken any concrete steps to save them. No serious actions have been taken on this issue.

Before any action is taken a lot of study and research is being carried out regarding the issue. Statistics like how many sparrows are left and the reason behind extinction is yet to be formulated.

In yesteryears, the sparrows lived near human settlements and build its nests below tiled roofs. With the contemporary architecture making a clean sweep in cities, tiled roofs became a thing of the past, and sparrows lost prospective nesting spots.


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Drop in endangered bird numbers sparks worries


Concerns have been raised about a dramatic decrease in endangered bird numbers in Tasmania.

Experts say drought, wildfires and the spread of urban development have contributed to the decline in numbers of the 40-spotted pardelote and the swift parrot.

Conservationist, Sally Bryant, says pardelote, or 40-spot, numbers in the state have dropped significantly over the last decade.

“In areas like Dennes Hill on Bruny Island, where I can remember going down and being flooded by the sound of 40-spots, it’s now very quiet, even though the bird is far more easily identifiable there than in some of the small colonies.

“My first reaction and certainly what the statistics are showing is that the numbers are very low,” Ms Bryant said.

Conservationists want the Tasmanian Government to save the habitats of endangered bird species on Bruny Island.

Peter McGlone from the Conservation Trust says logging of the parrot’s habitat should be stopped now, instead of waiting for the completion of industry codes of practice, which are being drafted.

“We know that an area on Bruny Island has been logged just in recent months that has swift parrot habitat in it,” he said.

“There are other areas in the south of the state that may well be being logged right now, and [the Primary Industries Minister] David Llewellyn needs to be proactive and make sure those logging operaitons stop.”

Forestry Tasmania has rejected claims it is rushing to log endangered species habitats before the new guidelines come into force.

The Forest Practices Authority has been working with major logging companies, including Forestry Tasmania, to draft guidelines to protect important wildlife habitats.

Forestry Tasmania’s Hans Drielsma denies his company is rushing to cut down trees before the draft is approved.

“There’s absolutely no basis to any suggestions like that,” said Dr Drielsma.

He says harvesting has been stopped in areas where birds are breeding.

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Schwarzenegger Greenwashes Way Across Europe As Salmon Face Extinction


As Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was shamelessly greenwashing his way across Europe and the Middle East to meet with political leaders about “fighting climate change” and “creating green jobs,” a coalition of environmental groups sent a notice of intent to sue over the Schwarzenegger’s administration’s failure to protect imperiled salmon and steelhead in two North Coast rivers.

Two press releases issued by the Governor’s Office today were typical of those continually spit out by his P.R. machine. The first stated, “Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today joined Roberto Formigoni, the president of Lombardy Region, Italy, to urge regional and local leaders to take action to fight climate change and help create green jobs while highlighting the World Regions Forum to be held in Milan, Italy from November 19 through November 21.”

In the second, Schwarzenegger issued a self-congratulatory statement applauding the California Energy Commission’s unanimous vote to adopt “first-in-the-nation” energy efficiency standards for televisions:

“It is the real, achievable policies like the first-in-the-nation standards adopted by the Energy Commission today that have made California a world leader in the fight against climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” he gloated. “Not only has our commitment to energy efficiency standards like these created billions in savings for consumers, it has allowed California’s per capita electricity consumption to remain flat over the last 30 years while national energy consumption has steadily increased. I applaud the commission for its hard work to enact these and other cost-effective energy efficiency standards that are not only great for the environment, but also good for consumers.”

As Schwarzenegger was promoting his “green energy” scams and playing the role of the “Green Governor,” a news release from the Center for Biological Diversity, Northern California River Watch, and Coast Action Group addressed the reality, rather than the fantasy of the “Green Governor,” who is worshipped by the corporate media and some corporate “environmental” groups. The three organizations announced their intent to sue California’s State Water Resources Control Board for authorizing water diversions that harm federally protected salmon and steelhead trout in the Russian River and Gualala River watersheds.

“The water board is violating the Endangered Species Act by permitting water diversions in Mendocino and Sonoma counties, primarily for vineyards, that adversely affect salmon,” said Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Miller said diversions and pumping from streams for grape growing dewater rivers and creeks where listed fish species spawn, harming imperiled coho salmon, chinook salmon, and steelhead trout. Dewatering of streams occurs not only during spring and summer vineyard irrigation, but also due to winter “frost protection” pumping to protect budding grapes from frost. When freezing temperatures hit the North Coast, vineyards pumping water for frost protection can dry up the Russian River and its tributaries, stranding and killing young salmon.

“Twelve years after the state water board determined that pumping for frost protection is harmful to salmon and concluded it to be a waste and unreasonable use of water, the board has still failed to take appropriate action on frost irrigation,” said Miller. “Further fish kills are unacceptable — coho salmon are near extinction in the Russian River, and chinook salmon and steelhead are not far behind.”

In the spring of both 2008 and 2009, Miller said there were fish kills due to excessive water diversions in the main stem of the Russian River at Hopland and in Felta Creek, a tributary of the Russian River. There are at least 60,000 acres of vineyards in the Russian River watershed, 70 percent of which are within 300 feet of salmon streams. The Wheatfield Fork of the Gualala River is also experiencing dramatic changes from overpumping, and fish habitat and survival are being significantly harmed.

“River Watch is hopeful that this notice will protect the last of the species and ultimately allow the restoration of fish runs,” said River Watch member Larry Hanson.

The State Water Resources Control Board permits and authorizes harmful water pumping, diversions, and water storage and continues to issue water appropriation permits in the over-allocated Russian River and Gualala River watersheds, in conflict with public trust values and beneficial uses, according to Miller.

In 1997, the water board released a report identifying vineyard practices, particularly frost protection activities, that adversely impact federally listed species of fish struggling to survive in the Russian River basin and its tributaries. The National Marine Fisheries Service requested in the spring of 2009 that the water board pass regulations to protect listed fish species, but the board has continued to allow frost-protection withdrawals and unreasonable and excessive water use to continue in these watersheds.

“The water board is violating the Endangered Species Act by consenting to improper use and by failing to enforce existing regulations,” emphasized Miller. “The region’s significant fisheries are near extinction: coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) on the central California coast are listed as endangered by both the state and federal governments; chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) along the California coast are federally listed as threatened; and steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) on the central California coast and northern California are federally listed as threatened.”

“Central California coast coho salmon are now at only 1 to 2 percent of their historical abundance. Coho have been eliminated from more than half of their historical streams in California, and in recent years, only 500 to 1,000 wild coho have returned to the entire central coast region to spawn. California coast chinook salmon have declined 97 to 99 percent from historical runs. Northern California coast steelhead have declined by 90 percent and central California coast steelhead have declined by 80 to 90 percent in the past 50 years,” Miller added.

Miller noted that salmon and steelhead spawn in freshwater streams and young fish require habitat with sufficient flows; deep pools; adequate food and shelter; and clean, cold water in order to survive long enough to migrate to the sea. The huge amounts of water withdrawn for grape growing dries up spawning beds and kills fish or leaves young salmon and steelhead stranded in hot and crowded shallow pools, where they are exposed to overcrowding and predators.

While Schwarzenegger flies around the globe to portray his false image as the “Green Governor” and issues a constant barrage of “green energy” press releases, he has not only presided over the decline of Russian River and Navarro River salmon and steelhead runs, but has relentlessly attacked the state and federal Endangered Species Acts. He recently pressured the federal government to do an “independent” review of a court-ordered federal biological opinion protecting Sacramento River chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, green sturgeon and the southern resident population of killer whales.

He has helped to engineer the unprecedented collapse of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and the southern resident population of killer whales by presiding over the largest increases in water exports from the California Delta history. And he has done nothing to prevent pollution of our bay, Delta, river, lake and ocean waters by unregulated discharges of agricultural waste water.

His two “solutions” to California’s fishery declines, rather than addressing the roots of the problem by curbing water exports, reducing water pollution and stopping the rampant destruction of fishery habitat, are to build a peripheral canal and to kick sustainable seaweed harvesters, fishermen and Indian Tribes off the water by promoting the corrupt, fast-track Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process overseen by oil industry, real estate and marina development interests.

There is absolutely nothing “green” or “environmental” about Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the “Fish Terminator,” as he pursues his relentless war on California’s fish populations. The former “Austrian Oak” makes former Governor Gray Davis look like John Muir and Pete Wilson look like Julia Butterfly in comparison.

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Mislabelling drives skate to brink of extinction


PARIS — Due to an 83-year-old error of classification, a species of European skate could become the first marine fish driven to extinction by commercial fishing, according to a study released on Wednesday.

In the 19th century, scientists identified two separate species of the once-widespread European skate, the flapper skate (Dipturus intermedia) and the blue skate (Dipturus flossada).

But an influential study in 1926 argued the two species were in fact one, which prompted a new name, Dipturus batis.

Since then, trawling has massively depleted all types of European skate stocks, with France accounting for more than 60 percent of landings.

New research, led by Samuel Inglesias of France’s Museum of Natural History and using molecular analysis of DNA, proves once and for all that the initial classification was correct.

As a result of the overfishing, the flapper skate is on the fast track to being wiped out, the paper says.

“[Without] immediate and incisive action, the species may be in an irreversible decline towards extinction,” Inglesias said in a statement.

The blue skate is in sharp decline but is still a viable species, the study says.

Iglesias said the discovery highlights the need “for a huge reassessment of population for the different Dipturus species in European waters.”

The study was published in the journal Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.

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Armenian leopards almost completely extinct in wild


YEREVAN, November 16 (RIA Novosti) – Only five to seven leopards remain in the wild in Armenia, Novosti-Armenia news agency reported, citing the Armenian director of the World Wildlife Fund.

“These noble animals are under the threat of extinction,” Karen Manvelyan said.

According to him, the main reason leading to the leopards’ extinction is poaching.

“Illegal hunting of rare species registered in the Armenian Red Book, including Bezoar ibex, Armenian mouflon sheep, and leopard, has not ceased,” Manvelyan said. He added that even the brown bear is hunted out of season.

Manvelyan believes poaching can be solved by creating nature conservation areas.

The conservationist said that Armenia had recently made a historical decision by creating two conservation areas in southern Armenia. Arevik National Park and Zangezur Sanctuary might solve the problem of rare species extinction, he said.

He said that more than 1,500 types of plants, including 24 registered in the Red Data Book of Armenia and 19 endemics, around 245 species of vertebrates, including 49 registered in the RDBA and 12 in the IUCN Red Data List are located in the Arevik National Park.

Zangezur Sanctuary has also become an important conservation park for rare and threatened flora and fauna.

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Devils doomed unless island home found


Time is running out to save the tasmanian devil from a deadly cancer that has killed more than 70 per cent of the population.

Four years ago the Tasmanian Government started sending healthy devils interstate as an insurance population.

But the Noah’s Ark plan has collected fewer than 200 devils over the past four years, and the Tasmanian Government has been urged to find an island for healthy devils or risk driving the animal to extinction.

The facial tumour disease now covers more than half the state, and Peter McGlone says scientists have stopped collecting undiseased devils from the wild.

“They put a halt to collecting healthy animals at the end of last year,” he said.

“They could have collected all 1,500 animals by now, [but] they simply do not have enough spaces in zoos and wildlife parks to put them.

“The disease, as we know, continues to spread west. We’re running out of time.”

Geoff King runs his devil tours from Tasmania’s west, which is the last place free from the disease, and he too thinks time is running out to source healthy animals.

“[There] doesn’t appear to be any space to put the healthy devils,” he said.

“And so as the threats to the devils on this western part of the coast increase, it seems like we are losing that window of opportunity to get those healthy animals … into the secure areas where we can use them as stock.”

Mr McGlone says an offshore insurance population on an island is the devil’s last chance.

“One thing’s for sure, if they don’t continue collecting healthy animals they will eventually run out of any opportunity to collect healthy animals, and that’s just a nightmare we can’t allow to happen,” he said.

“And so we’re calling on the Government now to actually commit to putting devils on islands. We believe there are a lot of large islands where devils would thrive.”

Mr McGlone’s sentiments were reiterated by Mr King.

“Maria Island was talked [about] but there were others that were talked about, but they were in informal discussions so I’m not really prepared to flag them,” he said.

But the chairman of the Devil Island program, Bruce Englefield is not completely convinced.

“The devil is a top of the chain food predator and if there’s any other animals on that island it would obviously have quite an impact on anything from the small marsupials, through to Cape Barron geese,” he said.

“This is one of the big problems with putting them on an island.”

A spokesman says the Government is assessing islands and looking at other ways to expand the insurance population, but warns there is no magic bullet.

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