Monthly Archives: January 2010

1,000 endangered turtles found dead in Orissa beach


At least 1,000 endangered Olive Ridley turtles have been found dead in an Orissa beach since November, a senior state wildlife official said Wednesday.

The carcasses were spotted at various places between the mouths of the Devi and Dhamra rivers under Gahirmatha marine sanctuary, one of the world’s largest turtle nesting sites, in Kendrapada district, 174 km from here.

‘We have spotted the carcasses of at least 1,000 turtles this winter. Some of them were spotted this week,’ Divisional Forest Officer P.K. Behera told IANS.

Around this time last year, the total carcasses of turtles found on the same beach were about 2,000, he said.

The turtle mortality has come down this year due to various protection measures the government has initiated, he said.

Citing the measures, Behera said government has set up several camps near the coast and deployed dozens of officials to keep vigil.

The turtles arrive and congregate in the shallow coastal waters in October, they nest between December and March, and most hatchlings emerge by May.

Thousands of turtles have already arrived for mating. Behera said forest officials have already spotted the turtles in the sea water. They are likely to climb ashore for mass nesting in February, he said. About 700,000-800,000 endangered Olive Ridley turtles nest every winter at this site.

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Vultures on verge of extinction


MAHENDRANAGAR, Jan 18: The rampant use of diclofenac and ketoprofen is putting vultures here on the verge of extinction, according to a study.

The study conducted by Nepal Bird Conservation Association says vultures are dying after consuming carcasses of cattle that were treated with diclofenac when alive.

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The study says that diclofenac use has reduced the population of vultures by 99 percent in Nepal and India.

The association has initiated a campaign in 10 districts in the tarai to raise awareness for vulture conservation and to ban the use of diclofenac and ketoprofen. The campaign has been initiated in districts including Kanchanpur, Kailali, Bardiya, Chitwan and Nawalparasi, among others, according to veterinarian Dr Surya Poudel of the association.

“Conservation of vultures is necessary to maintain biodiversity,” said Dr Poudel. “Vultures are natural cleaners as they keep the environment clean,” he added.

While diclofenac has been used in Nepal for decaces, ketoprofen, which is also contributing to reducing vulture population, has also been used in recent times. The production and distribution of both these medicines has been banned in Nepal and India. However, their use continues through illegal channels.

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Third of snail species here threatened with extinction


ONE THIRD of Ireland’s snail species are threatened with extinction, according to new research compiled by the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

The State body, which monitor’s the country’s biological diversity, has found that declining water quality, the building boom and certain agricultural and forestry practices are contributing to the species’ decline.

Ireland is home to 150 types of snail. Of these, two are now considered to be extinct, five critically endangered, 14 endangered, 26 vulnerable and six “near-threatened”.

Researchers have found that two native species are already extinct. The lapidary snail ( Helicigona lapicida ) , once found only in a gorge of the river Blackwater at Fermoy in east Co Cork, has “not been seen alive since 1968”, while the last recorded evidence of the mud pond snail ( Omphiscola glabra ) was in 1979 before it was “lost to habitat destruction”.

One of Ireland’s rarest varieties is the round-mouthed snail ( Pomatias elegans ) which is found only in New Quay, Co Clare. The report found it is “critically endangered” by “development pressure and physical disturbance”.

Snails on the “vulnerable list” include the whirlpool ram’s horn ( Anisus vortex ), traditionally found in clear, weedy water in larger streams, rivers and lakes. It has suffered a 63 per cent distributional decline since 1980 and “a major factor in its decline is falling water quality”.

The marsh whorl snail ( Vertigo antivertigo ) found across Ireland in fens, marshes, lakeshores and riverbanks has declined by more than 30 per cent in the last 30 years.

Among the six species  of snail specifically protected by EU legislation, only one is considered safe in Ireland. The Kerry slug ( Geomalacus maculosus ) which is “restricted to sandstone areas of Kerry and west Cork”, has “a strong viable population and may be capable of expanding its range with global warming”.

However, the Kerry slug’s habitat can be endangered by “invasive” plants such as rhododendrons.

The data is contained in a new website,, which has been launched to mark the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity 2010. Its aim is to make “information more readily available for improved decision-making, particularly in relation to climate change, land-use change and biodiversity protection measures”.

The National Biodiversity Data Centre, which was established three years ago, is funded by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, and is based in Waterford.

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Record Number of Florida’s Endangered Manatees Died in 2009


As confirmed by Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 2009 has been a bad year for the endangered Manatees, as a record number of them died in the Florida waters this year.

According to a report released on Friday, the organization has pointed out that it’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute has managed to document a total of 419 manatee deaths in Florida waters between January 1 and December 11, which is the most for any year recorded since the track keeping began in 1974.

2006 was the last worst year recorded for the endangered species, with 417 of them dying, but a “lower-than-average” 317 deaths were reported for 2008.

The commission has, however, been quick to warn that manatee death can show huge swings on year-to-year basis and one particular year’s statistics should not be read too much into.

The report has also revealed that about 94 of the death were boat related 13% more as compared to last year, which has led the conservation groups to call for better management of the issue.

Statistics given in the recent report are just preliminary numbers, and a final report with absolute statistics will be released during the first week of January.

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20 years left to save orang utan from extinction


KOTA KINABALU – The world has less than 20 years left to save the orang utan, according to conservationists who predict the charismatic red ape will become extinct if no action is taken to protect its jungle habitat.

There are thought to be some 60,000 orang utan still living in the wild in Malaysia and Indonesia but deforestation and the expansion of palm oil plantations have taken a heavy toll.

“The orang utan habitat is fragmented and isolated by plantations, they can’t migrate, they can’t find mates to produce babies,” said Tsubouchi Toshinori from the Borneo Conservation Trust.

Environmentalists are calling for the creation of wildlife “corridors” in Malaysia to link the scraps of jungle where the orang utan has become trapped by decades of encroachment by loggers and oil palm companies.

Tsubouchi said that although studies had predicted that the orang utan would disappear within 50 years if their habitat continues to vanish, action needed to be taken within the next two decades to stall that process.

“We have to establish the corridors in 10 or 20 years, otherwise we won’t be able to do anything later,” he said.

Some 80% of the world’s orang utans live in Borneo, which is split between Malaysia and Indonesia, and the rest are found in Indonesia’s Sumatra province.

“What we have left today is maybe only 10% of what we used to have before,” said Marc Ancrenaz from the environmental group Hutan which focuses on conserving the 11,000 orang utans in Sabah.

An aerial survey carried out by wildlife authorities last year revealed some 1,000 orang utan treetop “nests” located in 100 small patches of forest completely surrounded by palm oil plantations.

“Unlike the rhinoceros whose numbers are so few, we still have a decent size population for the orang utan. If they are going to become extinct, it will not be in the next 10 years,” Ancrenaz said.

There are only about 250 Sumatran Rhinoceros left in Malaysia and Indonesia, making it the most highly endangered rhino species in the world.

Ecologist Eric Meijaard, who studies the orang utan in Indonesia, said the situation was even worse there and that deforestation was responsible for the loss of up to 3,000 orang utans a year in Borneo.

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Wild Indo-Chinese tiger now extinct in China


A villager, who killed and ate the last wild Indochinese tiger in China, has been sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined 85,000 US dollars.

Kang Wannian, the Chinese villager and another man shot dead the only known wild Indochinese tiger in China in February claiming it was self-defense.

The men said they ran and left the scene after they realized they had killed the Indochinese Tiger, which was on China’s list of endangered species.

They later came back to collect the corpse and took the skinned animal home and ate it with six other men.

Kang was sentenced to 10 years in jail for catching and killing a rare endangered animal plus two years for illegal possession of a gun. The court ordered him to pay a fine of 85,000 dollars, state media reported Tuesday.

The local court found four other men guilty of covering up the crime, and sentenced them to four years in jail.

The Indochinese tiger is on the brink of extinction, with fewer than 1,000 left in the forests of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar.

Elsewhere, police said eight tigers and a lioness belonging to a private Russian travelling circus died during a 20-hour truck trip across Siberia.

Poor ventilation inside the heated truck is to blame for the death of the precious endangered animals. An investigation of this incident is underway.

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Mammals may be nearly half way towards mass extinction


A new analysis by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and Pennsylvania State University, has shown that North American mammals are one-fifth to one-half the way towards mass extinction.


Many scientists warn that the perfect storm of global warming and environmental degradation – both the result of human activity is leading to a sixth mass extinction equal to the “Big Five” that have occurred over the past 450 million years, the last of which killed off the dinosaurs 68 million years ago.

Yet estimates of how dire the current loss of species is have been hampered by the inability to compare species diversity today with the past.

By combining data from three catalogs of mammal diversity in the United States between 30 million years ago and 500 years ago, UCBerkeley and Penn State researchers show that the bulk of mammal extinctions occurred within a few thousand years after the arrival of humans, with losses dropping after that.

“The optimistic part of the study is that we haven’t come all that far on extinction in the past 10,000 years,” said co-author Anthony Barnosky, UCBerkeley professor of integrative biology.

“We have this pulse when humans had their first effect about 13,000 years ago, but diversity has remained pretty steady for about 10,000 years,” he added.

In the last 100 or so years, however, “we are seeing a lot of geographic range reductions that are of a greater magnitude than we would expect, and we are seeing loss of subspecies and even a few species. So, it looks like we are going into another one of these extinction events,” said Barnosky.

“I’m optimistic that, because we haven’t lost those species yet, if we redouble our conservation efforts we can stem the tide of extinctions and have those species around in the future,” he added. (ANI)

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Endangered Siberian tigers among dead in circus trip



— An administrator for a Russian travelling circus says two rare Siberian tigers were among a group of big cats that died during a 20-hour truck journey this week.

Circus officials and police initially said that eight Bengal tigers had died.

But Mechta circus administrator Yevgeny Kudashkin said Thursday there were seven tigers. He says two of them were endangered Siberian tigers — also known as Ussuri, Amur or Manchurian tigers.

A lioness also died during the trip across Siberia.

Veterinarians say they suspect the animals were suffocated by exhaust fumes in the enclosed and heated truck, but laboratory tests were not yet complete.

The animals were dead when they arrived Tuesday in the city of Yakutsk, where they had been due to perform.

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27 Arab officials allowed to hunt endangered birds


KARACHI: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has given permission to 27 dignitaries of the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to set up hunting camps in 63 districts of all four provinces and hunt the protected and endangered bird, the houbara bustard. Last month, 10 licences were issued to Arab princes and sheikhs allowing them to bring 470 falcons into the country to hunt the endangered bird. Houbara bustard is a migratory bird and faces extinction threat. It flies to Pakistan in winter from former Soviet territories.

Even though the bird is protected under various international and national nature conservation organisations, the Pakistani government has granted permission to the Arab dignitaries. Even the national or international conservation organisations have not protested over the issue so far. “Personally I think houbara bustard is not endangered and it does not come under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals,” an IUCN Pakistan official told this scribe on condition of anonymity, leaving this scribe surprised over the official’s lack of knowledge.

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Indigenous fish species face extinction


Indigenous fish species, particularly the small ones, are on the verge of extinction due to various reasons including frequent and indiscriminate use of harmful pesticides and chemical fertilizers in agricultural land, water-bodies and wetland, throughout the northern region. Apart from this, fisheries scientists and specialists said, breeding and grazing fields of the fish species have drastically been reduced due to siltation in the big rivers and their tributaries, water-bodies, floodplains and other wetlands side by side with promotion of modern fish culture in closed water- bodies. Various organizations, including the Zoology Department of Rajshahi University and the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, conducted extensive researches that found 12 major causes for the ever-decreasing fishery resources in the region, particularly in the major rivers.

Quoting the research findings, some investigators opined that around 65 native fish species have become rare and at least 10 species vanished in the region.

Prof Dr Altaf Hossain of Zoology Department of RU told BSS that the sharp declining of spawning ground and natural seed production of fishes in most areas of the mighty Padma River has been facing an endangered condition due to withdrawal of its water from the upstream point.

Prof Hossain, who is a pioneer researcher in this field, highlighted various positive aspects of the open water-bodies in conserving the native fish species and said the open water-bodies are important not only for their fish production but also for generating employment.In addition to nutritional aspects, the open water fisheries have been contributing a lot to maintain natural ecosystem and wetland habitats along with an aquatic biodiversity, Prof Altaf added.

With excessive and indiscriminate promotion of modern technologies in both agriculture and fish culture, the grazing and breeding grounds of the native fishes are gradually declining. They viewed that frequent and indiscriminate use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers in agricultural land have directly or indirectly been destroying the open and culture water fishery resources and fish food organisms of the wetland and floodplains.

Due to extensive intervention, the habitat degradation is also affecting productivity of the water-bodies and the prevailing disturbances are significant detrimental to the native fish species and their population.

Apart from this, they said, over-fishing along with injudicious and destructive fishing practice resulting in the depletion of fishery resources and is, no doubt, dangerous for successive elimination of fish stock.

Experts, however, said the open water fishery resources in the region are being neglected for long in terms of investment and general attention to the sector.

To protect the fishery resources of the Padma River along with other water-bodies and floodplains from continuous degradation along with protecting the native fish species from their endangering situation, a sound management for rational utilization of the fisheries should be taken immediately, specialists opined. Abnormal low groundwater level has created alarm in irrigation

Meanwhile, Executive Director of Barind Multipurpose Development Authority Abdul Mannan told BSS that there are huge small rivers, canals and beels in the region which now become green paddy fields during every dry season due to massive siltation.

The huge waterbodies could be the effective means of large- scale fish farming side by side with protecting the endangered fish species if the water bodies could be transformed into water- reservoir after proper excavation and re-excavation.

Not only that, huge barren lands of the high barind tract could be brought under various crop farming fields including paddy using the conserved surface water round the year, by which, Abdul Mannan opined that the dependence on groundwater for the irrigation purposes could be lessened.

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