Monthly Archives: November 2010

Poachers killing off fruit bats in Negros Oriental

GMA NEWS

Fruit bats are fast becoming extinct in Negros Oriental as residents there continue to catch and eat them, environmentalists in the province warned this week.

At least two types of fruit bats — chevnous fruit bats and golden flying fox — are being poached in Valencia and Sibulan towns in Negros Oriental, said wildlife advocate Pol Cariño.

Cariño said fried fruit bats have been identified as a most delicious recipe in the two areas, according to a report in news site Visayan Daily Star.

He said the chevnous fruit bats and the golden flying fox can easily be caught through nets or traps locally known as “balag-ong,” especially during the fruit bearing season of fruit trees.

Fruit bats only eat fruits and flower nectar during night time.

Cariño said he learned about the illegal hunting of fruit bats during the lanzones season in Valencia where a kilo of fruit bat meat is sold for P150.

Fruit bats thrive in the area because of the forest and the availability of food like fruits and flowers.

Cariño said he was saddened to learn about the illegal hunting of fruit bats and hoped local police will strengthen monitoring and efforts to protect wildlife.

Other species of wildlife that are nearing extinction include the Negros bleeding heart pigeon, callao, and the Negros forest frog.

Cariño said the Negros forest frog are so tiny and they serve as forest indicator as their presence would proves that the forest is still healthy and considered growing.

Fruit bats are among the largest in the world. The Philippines has at least 56 species of bats among the over 1,000 known species in the world. – JE/KBK/HS, GMANews.TV

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International Accord Fails to Protect Imperiled Bluefin Tuna From Overfishing

For Immediate Release, November 27, 2010

Contact: Catherine Kilduff, (415) 644-8580

Critically Endangered Bluefin Tuna Suffer From Overfishing, Oil Spill

SAN FRANCISCO— The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna today refused to significantly reduce fishing of Atlantic bluefin, which has been in steep decline for decades from fishing pressure and, most recently, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. With bluefin on the path toward extinction, the Center for Biological Diversity in May called for its protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The commission’s decision today not to reduce international catch quotas to safe levels makes domestic Endangered Species Act protections all the more important if the species is to survive.

“The international tuna commission had an opportunity to take bluefin tuna off the path to extinction but didn’t. Instead, the commission ignored years of scientific evidence about the perilous decline of bluefin tuna and chose to allow fishing to continue as if nothing is wrong,” said Catherine Kilduff, a staff attorney at the Center.

Since 1969, the year the international commission was established, the once-abundant bluefin tuna has been fished to near-extinction. Today the commission set 2011 catch quotas, or limits, of 12,900 tons and 1,750 tons for the two stocks of bluefin tuna: the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean stock and the western Atlantic stock. These levels represent minimal reductions from the 2010 quotas of 13,500 and 1,800 tons.

“This level of fishing pressure sentences bluefin tuna to yet another decade of depletion,” Kilduff said. “The fishing quotas adopted today bank on overly optimistic conditions for tuna recovery so that fishermen can continue to catch the prized bluefin tuna as they have in past years. As the Gulf of Mexico oil spill shows, bluefin face more threats than just fishing.”

Atlantic bluefin tuna have declined by more than 80 percent since 1970 due to overfishing. Unfortunately, the sushi market keeps prices for tuna high — a single bluefin sold for $177,000 in 2010 — and encourages illegal and unreported fishing. A report this month by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists valued the illegal trade between 1998 and 2007 at $4 billion.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico killed 20 percent of juvenile tuna in the area, according to scientists’ estimates. The Gulf is one of only two known spawning grounds for Atlantic bluefin tuna, a remarkable ocean species capable of growing up to 10 feet long, swimming at speeds up to 50 miles per hour and crossing an entire ocean in just weeks.

For more information about the Center’s bluefin tuna conservation campaign, visit: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/fish/Atlantic_bluefin_tuna/index.html.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 315,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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Lawsuit Launched Over Water Project That Will Hurt Endangered Kangaroo Rat

For Immediate Release, November 17, 2010

Contacts: John Buse, Center for Biological Diversity, (323) 533-4416
Michael Fitts, Endangered Habitats League, (310) 947-1908

Lawsuit Launched Over Water Project That Will Hurt Endangered Kangaroo Rat

LOS ANGELES— Conservation groups today notified the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of their intent to sue over the federal agencies’ approval of a massive water-development project in Southern California that threatens the rare and highly endangered San Bernardino kangaroo rat. The Hemet-San Jacinto Integrated Recharge and Recovery Program near Hemet in Riverside County would threaten one of very few remaining habitats for the San Bernardino kangaroo rat, a charismatic jumping mammal with large hind feet that was once abundant in the San Bernardino Valley.

As proposed, the water project would require the construction of a large groundwater recharge basin, wells and infrastructure within the San Jacinto River channel, in the heart of the one of three remaining places in the world that support a viable population of San Bernardino kangaroo rats. It would deal a severe blow to the recovery of a species the Fish and Wildlife Service described in a 2009 report as already having a “low recovery potential.” The same report recognized the need to conserve as much of the remaining habitat for the San Bernardino kangaroo rat as possible.

“Instead of protecting the few populations that remain, the federal agencies authorized further destruction of prime San Bernardino kangaroo rat habitat,” said John Buse, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, which intends to bring the suit along with the Endangered Habitats League and San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society. “There aren’t many suitable areas left for the k-rat, and this project will leave even fewer options for bringing the species back from the brink of extinction.”

The challenge to the project is based on the federal Endangered Species Act’s prohibition of actions likely to jeopardize the survival and recovery of a species in the wild.

“The federal agencies haven’t disclosed the true extent of the project’s effects on the San Bernardino kangaroo rat,” said Michael Fitts, a staff attorney at the Endangered Habitats League. “As a result, they’ve missed an opportunity to explore alternative methods of maintaining water supplies that would result in less harm to the species.”

In 2009, the Center for Biological Diversity challenged the Service’s decision to slash the critical habitat set aside for the San Bernardino kangaroo rat. That suit is still active.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 315,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.



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Orang Utans At Risk Of Losing Home

BERNAMA.COM

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 (Bernama) — The orang utans, especially those in Sabah, risk losing their homes and eventually, their being.

World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) Malaysia executive director/chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma attributed this to deforestation and development near their habitat, undertaken over the years.

“There are over 11,000 orang utans in the forest of Sabah and the number is sadly decreasing. It is important, to stop any kind of development near their ‘home’ because it will reduce their space for living,” he said at a press conference after the ‘New Hope for Orang-Utan School Programme’ prize presentation ceremony here Friday.

Also present were BOH Plantation Sdn Bhd chief executive Caroline Russell and TV9 Brand Management Group head Feisal Malik.

Dr Dionysius said, it was important to preserve and conserve the ‘Man of the Forest’ population as it was an icon of the country and captured hearts across the globe.

On the ‘New Hope for Orang-Utan School Programme’ co-organised by WWF-Malaysia, BOH Plantation and TV9, he said it was an important programme to create awareness on the plight of the orang utans.

Sixty schools participated in the programme which ended on Oct 4, this year, whereby students had to spearhead a campaign with on-ground activities to promote awareness of orang utan conservation to their fellow peers and the wider community.

Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan King George V, Negeri Sembilan won the first prize, bagging RM8,000.

Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Lembah Bidung, Setiu, Terengganu took the second prize of RM5,000 while Sekolah Menengah Dang Anum, Melaka won RM2,000 as second runner-up.

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Hunter’s regent honeyeater population critical

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

A bird found in fragmented habitats in the Hunter Valley has been listed as critically endangered, with fears it could be on the brink of extinction.

The Regent Honeyeater has mottled black and white feathers, yellow tipped wings and pink warty skin around its eyes.

The New South Wales Scientific Committee says its future is dire without protection, as there are less than 250 mature birds left in the state.

Alan Stuart from the Hunter Bird Observers Group says its population near Cessnock is under extreme threat.

“Critically endangered is just one step away from extinction in terms of the fate of the bird so hopefully this classification will trigger some extra activities and actions to help its cause,” he said.

Mr Stuart says the bird has been pushed to the brink of extinction.

“It is habitat loss and habitat fragmentation and particularly the loss of the prime habitat, rich lands on the Valley floor, that kind of thing.”

“Hopefully (the listing) will lead to some enhanced activity to do remediation.”

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Coral Reefs Endangered by Ocean Acidification

FARS NEWS AGENCY
Findings of a new study led by scientists at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science revealed a new danger to the already threatened Caribbean and Florida reef Elkhorn corals.

“Ocean acidification is widely viewed as an emerging threat to coral reefs,” said Rosenstiel School graduate student Rebecca Albright. “Our study is one of the first to document the impacts of ocean acidification on coral recruitment.”

Albright and colleagues report that ocean acidification could compromise the successful fertilization, larval settlement and survivorship of Elkhorn corals. The research results suggest that ocean acidification could severely impact the ability of coral reefs to recover from disturbance, said the authors.

Elkhorn coral, known as Acropora palmata, is recognized as a critical reef-building species that once dominated tropical coral reef ecosystems. In 2006, Elkhorn was included on the U.S. Endangered Species List largely due to severe population declines over the past several decades.

The absorption of carbon dioxide by seawater, which results in a decline in pH level, is termed ocean acidification. The increased acidity in the seawater is felt throughout the marine food web as calcifying organisms, such as corals, oysters and sea urchins, find it more difficult to build their shells and skeletons making them more susceptible to predation and damage.

Recent studies, such as this one conducted by Albright and colleagues, are beginning to reveal how ocean acidification affects non-calcifying stages of marine organisms, such as reproduction.

“Reproductive failure of young coral species is an increasing concern since reefs are already highly stressed from bleaching, hurricanes, disease and poor water quality,” said Chris Langdon, associate professor at the Rosenstiel School and co-author of the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Virus threatens endangered parrot species

UPI

ADELAIDE, Australia, Nov. 11 (UPI) — One of the world’s most endangered birds could become extinct, as a virus threatens its vitally important captive breeding program, Australian researchers say.

Orange-bellied parrots, Neophema chrysogaster, have been hit with a stomach virus that causes them to lose their feathers and weakens their immune systems, ScientificAmerican.com reported.

Under Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, the orange-bellied parrot was listed as critically endangered in 2006.

The species, once common in Australia, has been in decline for the past 100 years as its coastal salt marsh habitat was destroyed for agricultural purposes.

About 160 to 170 orange-bellied parrots are in three captive breeding programs, two on the Australian mainland and one on the island of Tasmania. Only about 50 of the birds exist in the wild.

The nature of the virus has not been established, although some scientists theorize it could be avian influenza or proventricular dilatation disease, which hampers food digestion.

Because the captive parrots live in close proximity to one another, “infections just find it easier to spread from one bird to another,” Shane Radial, a veterinary professor at Charles Sturt University, said.

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