Monthly Archives: March 2011

Rare Sumatran tiger killed by electric fence


An endangered Sumatran tiger has died after brushing against an electric fence set up by Indonesian farmers, in the second such incident this year, an official said Friday.

There are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild and environmental activists say the animals are increasing coming into contact with people as a result of their natural habitat being lost due to deforestation.

The two-metre (six foot) male tiger was electrocuted on Monday in Jambi province in the centre of Sumatra, Indonesia’s largest island, a provincial conservation agency chief, Trisiswo, told AFP.

He said it was the second time this year a tiger had died as a result of the electric fences installed by locals to protect palm oil plantations.

“The tiger’s body was partly charred but unlike the first incident, the body was still intact,” he said. Locals had sold some of the body parts of the tiger that was killed last month. afp

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Rare bird species at risk in SW China


NANNING, March 22 (Xinhua) — The number of Oriental Pied Hornbills, a rare bird species protected in China, has declined sharply in southwest China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, due to deforestation and hunting, an environmentalist said Tuesday.

The population of the large bird has dropped by more than 40 percent to just around 50 birds over the past ten years in Xidaming Nature Reserve which is home to half of the region’s hornbills, Liu Zhongqi, president of Guangxi’s Wildlife Conservation Society.

Liu made the comments at an international seminar to discuss how best to protect the endangered bird, held in the regional capital of Nanning,

Environmentalists blamed the sharp population decline on shrinking natural forests and hunting, said Liu.

Even though poaching has decreased after Guangxi launched a program in 2007 to protect the endangered bird, the species still faces extinction and needs more protection, Liu said.

Oriental Pied Hornbill, one of five kinds of hornbills found in China, also lives in neighboring Yunnan Province and Tibet Autonomous Region.

The bird also can be found in the subtropical moist lowland forests of southeast Asia.

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Bird watchers to revive house sparrow chirping in Shimla


Shimla, March 20 (IANS) A forum comprising bird watchers is working to save house sparrows and other small birds from extinction in this Himachal Pradesh capital.

‘On World Sparrow Day (Sunday), we have launched a campaign to create awareness about the sharp decline in the number of sparrows and other small birds in the town,’ Somesh Goyal, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer associated with forum Himachal Birds, told IANS.


He said the programme would mainly focus on building public opinion for conservation of small birds, especially house sparrows. The forum will install 40 artificial nests in Shimla’s parks and open spaces to enable the birds breed.


A small plump brownish bird, which is a widely distributed species in most parts of Europe and Asia, the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) has drastically disappeared from urban areas across the country. Flocks of the sparrow, which were a common sight till a few years ago, are now rarely seen.


M.R. Kaundal, retired government employee who settled in Shimla since 1945, said that earlier there was a good population of sparrows in the town. ‘Now it’s rarely seen. But there is alarming rise in the number of pigeons.’


Ornithologists attribute a number of reasons to this phenomenon. These include lack of nesting sites, use of pesticides and non-availability of food.


Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) environmentalist Mohammed E. Dilawar, who is based in Nashik, said the decline in the sparrow population is also due to lack of holes for nesting in modern houses.


BNHS director Asad Rahmani told IANS over phone from Mumbai that this year’s theme is ‘Chirp for the Sparrow, Tweet for the Sparrow’. The main event was held in Bengaluru in Wipro campus.


‘Starting on World Sparrow Day, BNHS and Nashik-based Nature Forever Society will intensify their efforts to create awareness about the sharp decline in the numbers of sparrows and other small birds across India,’ he said.


Last year, the first World House Sparrow Day (now called World Sparrow Day) was launched in New Delhi.


‘Today’s common species are tomorrow’s threatened species, if timely conservation measures are not initiated,’ Rahmani warned.

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Critically Endangered Javan Rhinos on Film

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Agency Refuses to Protect Rare Nevada Butterfly


WASHINGTON (CN) – There may be as few as 18 Mt. Charleston blue butterflies in the world, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has rejected an urgent plea to protect the insect under the Endangered Species Act.
The agency lingered five years before finishing the full status review, known as the 12-month review, of the species, and then determined that listing the species as endangered under the act is warranted but precluded by higher priority listings.
“The Mount Charleston blue desperately needs Endangered Species Act protection to survive, so today’s decision could doom this Las Vegas butterfly to extinction,” said Rob Mrowka, a conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, which submitted the original and emergency petitions.
The butterfly has been documented in just two places on 23 acres of habitat in the Spring Mountains, 25 miles west of Las Vegas.
One of the main reasons the agency decided not to list the Mt. Charleston blue as endangered is because it is a subspecies of the more wide-ranging Shasta blue, and the agency gives priority to listing entire species that warrant protection under the act rather than subspecies.
The agency agreed with the Center for Biological Diversity that the primary threats to the butterflies, which are just a little larger than a dime, are the degradation and loss of habitat due to fire and fire suppression, severe weather events such as torrential rains which destroy their fragile cocoons and the small size of the population, which results in limited genetic diversity.
As a result of this action, the Mt. Charleston blue will be added to the list of 258 species for whom the agency has determined listing is warranted but precluded. At least 24 species have gone extinct while waiting on the candidate species list, according the Center for Biological Diversity.

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Great Indian Bustard declared critically endangered



PUNE: The Great Indian Bustard has recently been declared as critically endangered (CR) by the BirdLife International, a global alliance of conservation organisations, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Environmentalists and experts say that this upgradation of category of the Great Indian Bustard will give priority to its conservation and protection. At present, the bustard population in six states, including Maharashtra, is just 300.

The IUCN is an international organisation dedicated to natural resource conservation. The IUCN Red List of threatened species is world-wide considered the most comprehensive and authentic inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species. Also, BirdLife’s global species programme continually collates up-to-date information on globally threatened birds from the published literature and from a world-wide network of experts. This is used to evaluate the status of each species using the IUCN Red List categories and criteria. This new category for the bustard will be incorporated into the 2011 Red List, which will be released by BirdLife International in May and by the IUCN in September.

Till the end of 2010, the Great Indian Bustard or ‘Ardeotis nigriceps’ was listed as endangered for its severely fragmented small population. It was thought to have a population of 250 to 999 birds, which is suspected to be declining at an estimated rate of 20% to 29% since the last 10 years, primarily because of hunting pressure in some areas and the conversion of grassland habitats to cultivation and pasture, increased pesticide usage and disturbance.

The bustard’s population has declined from an estimated 1,260 in 1969 to 300 at present. This had prompted experts from the Bombay Natural History Society, Wildlife Institute of India and others to propose that the Great Indian Bustard should be upgraded to critically endangered category.

Pramod Patil, who works for the conservation and protection of the Great Indian Bustards in Maharashtra, said the adult population has drastically declined in the bustard sanctuary at Nannaj in Solapur district. The census count by the forest department wildlife division in 2009 was 21, which went down to just nine in 2010.

Regarding threats, Patil said, that hunting could still be prevalent in the sanctuary area in Maharashtra, as local people openly admit that they kill bustards. Also, there is no record of breeding in the last three years at breeding spots in the sanctuary. “Increased density of high tension electric wires in the sanctuary has increased chances of bustard collisions and subsequent deaths of the adults. Thus, in this current situation, the upgradation of the Great Indian Bustard to critically endangered will give priority to its conservation,” he added.

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A lifeline to prevent Africa’s first recorded bird extinction


Liben Lark with a population of possibly fewer than 100 birds, is widely tipped to become mainland Africa’s first recorded bird extinction, unless urgent action is taken to prevent its demise from the only area it now inhabits: a single grassy plain in southern Ethiopia.

Classified as Critically Endangered, the highest level of threat, this globally threatened bird has now been thrown a lifeline thanks to funds raised by the British Birdwatching Fair held at Rutland Water last August. Birdfair organisers Martin Davies (from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds – RSPB) and Tim Appleton (from Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust – LRWT) presented a £242,000 (US$395,000) cheque to Dr Marco Lambertini, BirdLife International’s Chief Executive at an special reception hosted by His Excellency Berhanu Kebede, Ethiopia’s UK Ambassador, at the Ethiopian Embassy in London.

These funds will be used by the Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society, the BirdLife Partner in the country, to work with local communities to reduce the impact of over-grazing livestock and prevent conversion of the land to arable farming. Helping the grasslands recover will benefit both the lark and the pastoralists living there.

Man-made and natural phenomena all conspired, historically; to ravage Ethiopia’s wildlife riches and this landlocked African country now has 22 species of bird facing extinction. Conservationists hope that the proceeds from the 2010 British Birdwatching Fair will help turn the tide and save the Liben Lark and a range of other highly threatened species. A huge mural (16ft x 4ft) portraying all the endemic and threatened birds of Ethiopia, which was painted by more than 40 wildlife artists at the 2010 Fair, was put on display at the Embassy Reception. It will soon be heading out to Ethiopia where it will go on permanent display in Addis Ababa to help raise awareness of these bird species and their plight.

Martin Davies, of the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) – one of the fair’s co-founders and key organisers – said: “Ethiopia has a remarkable natural heritage and is hugely rich in species found nowhere else in the world. Over 840 species of bird have been recorded in Ethiopia, 17 of which are unique to this country and 29 others nearly so. Unfortunately, this wonderful wildlife is under increasing threat and we hope that the proceeds from this year’s event will help the Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society and BirdLife International to take the urgent steps needed to secure the future of this country’s unique birds. We also hope that the event will help raise the international profile of this wonderful country, so rich in wildlife.”

“Once again Birdfair have delivered a huge boost for conservation. This money will be used to secure a future for Southern Ethiopia’s incredible birds”, said Dr Marco Lambertini, BirdLife International’s Chief Executive.

Ethiopia’s UK Ambassador, His Excellency Berhanu Kebede, said: “Ethiopia’s biodiversity resources are under critical threat. Growing human and livestock populations pose the single most serious problem, resulting in deforestation, overgrazing, soil erosion, and desertification. To reverse the situation, the government of Ethiopia has promulgated laws and put in place the appropriate institutions. Significant achievements have been made in restoring the fauna and flora of the country; hence the percentage of land covered by forests has grown from three to nine per cent within five years.

“On behalf of my country, I’m delighted that Ethiopia’s unique birds have been chosen as a beneficiary of the British Birdwatching Fair. It is fantastic that British birdwatchers have a passion for conserving Ethiopia’s birds. With four out of ten of Africa’s birds having been seen in Ethiopia, my country has a great deal to offer visiting birdwatchers and we believe that eco-tourism will be vital in helping to protect our unique wildlife and landscapes.”

Another Ethiopian endemic species in trouble is the grandly-named Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco. This macaw-sized bird with scarlet and navy-blue wings, long tail and green-and-white head was first found among the personal effects of the Prince after he was crushed to death by an elephant in 1893. As the unfortunate nobleman had not had time to label the specimen, its origins remained a mystery for half a century before the species was seen in the wild by a Cambridge naturalist in southern Ethiopia.

The other species set to benefit from the proceeds of the Birdfair include: the Ethiopian Bush-crow; and the White-tailed Swallow.

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