Monthly Archives: November 2011

Many species in danger of extinction


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Scientists have raised concern about the indiscriminate export of the ornamental fish from the state, which could lead to the extinction of many species including, the beautiful red-lined Miss Kerala.

Going by the latest and indirect figures of export of this endemic and endangered fish, it is seen that more than a lakh Miss Kerala fish are being exported, in spite of it being included in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Since its first export in 1996, and subsequent rise to fame at ‘Aquarama 1997’ (World exhibition on ornamental fish), the Red Lined Torpedo Barbs or the Miss Kerala have been indiscriminately collected for the trade. While many native ornamental fish are in great demand in international markets, the ‘Miss Kerala’, known as chorakaniyan/ chenkaniyan in Malayalam tops the export list, with each pair fetching around Rs 2,000 in international market. “The fishery for ornamentals in the streams of Kerala is an open-access one, devoid of any quotas or access restrictions. No regulation on either catch or effort is in place, nor is there any policy directed towards protection of native ornamental fisheries, often thought to be free commodity which can be collected from nature. I feel that it is high time to think about ensuring sustainability in export and wild collection,’’ said A.Bijukumar, head of the KU Departmnent of Aquatic Biology.

The ornamental fish trade is promoted by the State Government by organizing international Aqua shows and seminars on biannual basis ensuring participation of scientists, administrators, breeders, traders and entrepreneurs even from foreign countries. Loaches inhabiting the streams of Kerala and species with unique appearance such as freshwater puffer fish (‘Thavalapottan’ or ‘Attunda’) also command exorbitant prices in the international market.

Red line torpedo barb is endemic and exclusive to the Achenkovil, Bharathapuzha and Chaliyar rivers. Specifically, they are found in four locations- Cheenkannipuzha (a major tributary of Velapattanam River), the Achankovil river, the Chaliyar river and near Mundakkayam town. Studies conducted at Cochin University of Science and Technology have indicated that populations of Miss Kerala has declined at a rate of 70 pc at key collection sites.

�A recent ongoing study by the Conservation Research Group, St Albert’s College, Kochi, has observed that the species is overfished in Valapatanam River.

The Miss Kerala, scientifically called Puntius denisonii has been assessed as Endangered as populations have declined by more than 50 pc in the recent past owing to e indiscriminate exploitation for international aquarium pet trade.

Workshop on Ornamental Fish�

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In connection with the World Fisheries Day on November 21, the KU Department of Aquatic Biology & Fisheries has decided to organise a brainstorming workshop on ‘Sustainable Management of Ornamental Fish Resources of Kerala’. The venue of the workshop is the conference hall of the� Aquatic Biology department of the University of Kerala at Kariavattom.

The themes in key presentations include present status of indigenous freshwater ornamental fish resources of Kerala; present status of indigenous marine ornamental fish resources of Kerala; export of indigenous fish resources from India; managing RET species in education, research and export; Green certification for export and sustainable management of ornamental fish export: the way ahead.�

For more details, contact the organising secretary, World Fisheries Day Celebrations 2011, Department of Aquatic Biology & Fisheries. University of Kerala, Kariavattom, Thiruvananthapuram 695 581, or over telephone numbers� 0471-2308131 ; 9447216157.��������������

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50 endangered pangolins seized in southern Thailand


NARATHIWAT, Nov 22 – Fifty pangolins, also called ‘scaly anteaters’ and a protected wildlife species, bound for China were intercepted by the Thai authorities on Tuesday morning in this southern border province.

Four local men were arrested at a road checkpoint in the provincial seat while driving a pick-up truck carrying 50 of the endangered scaly mammals from Narathiwat’s Sungai Kolok district to an agent in Yala province. They were to be transported to another agent in the Lao PDR and then to continue to China, according to Dechrat Simsiri, Narathiwat deputy governor.

One suspect confessed the men bought the pangolins from a wild animal dealer at a fee of Bt1,000-1,200/kg. The four were charged with possession of endangered species and relocating the animals without permission.

Thailand is seen as a major transit corridor for pangolins en route to China, where the animal’s flesh is a delicacy and considered as an aphrodisiac. (MCOT online news)

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Kerala: 6 plant species critically endangered


KOZHIKODE: International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which released its latest Red List of various species last week, has listed six species of plants being found in the state in the ‘Critically Endangered’ category.

A total of 14 plants have been included in the category from India. Fimbristylis hirsutifolia, Ischaemum jayachandranii, Nymphoides macrospermum, Nymphoides sivarajanii, Eriocaulon sivarajanii, and Rotala malabarica are the plants from the state included in the Red List.

Apart from the Fimbristylis hirsutifolia, which is also found in Karnataka, all the other five species are endemic to Kerala. Jomy Augustin, Head of the Department of Botany at St Thomas College, Pala, and a member of the IUCN team that prepared the Red List from the state, said: “Though no plants have been named in the category of ‘Extinct’ or ‘Extinct in the wild’ from the state, the number of plants in the critically endangered and endangered list is a matter of concern.”

The study says that Fimbristylis hirsutifolia and Nymphoides sivarajanii found at single different locations in the Malappuram district, have not been recorded for over two decades. The Red List points out� that these species might be extinct owing to severe threat from laterite mining, reclamation of paddy fields etc. Urbanisation was pointed out as the reason for the decline in the population of Eriocaulon Sivarajanii, another plant named in the list which grows in moist places and wet flushes on the coastal plains of Kozhikode.

In the case of Ischaemum Jayachandranii, endemic to Kannur District, it says that the plant has not been recorded even after repeated surveys for the past three decades.

Another plant species, Rotala malabarica, a short-lived annual plant also endemic to Kannur, has not been recorded since its description and there is every chance of the plant being extinct owing to the anti environmental activities in its habitat, Red List points out.

Nymphoides macrospermum confined to Aluva is the only plant species being named from the southern part of the state in the critically endangered list. Study reveals that though repeated studies have conducted, the plant has not been traced for the last four decades.

In the Endangered category list, a total of 25 plants species from India have been listed, out of which 13 are from Kerala. Out of the total 63 plant species being enlisted in the vulnerable category from the country, 32 are from the state. Besides, 13 plant species from Kerala have also found their place in the near-threatened list of plant species.

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Couple Pleads Guilty To Selling Jaguar Skins In Florida


MIAMI — A Texas couple has pleaded guilty in federal court to selling the skins of an endangered species to undercover federal wildlife agents in South Florida.Federal prosecutors in Miami announced Tuesday the guilty pleas of Elias Garcia and Maria Plancarte, both 53.According to the indictment, Garcia and Plancarte made repeated trips to South Florida to sell jaguar skins to customers of their plant seed company.Prosecutors said the couple admitted to selling jaguar skins to undercover U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents in Homestead for $4,000. Prosecutors said they also sold two jaguar pelts to undercover agents in Texas.During both sales, the couple promised to sell up to 10 more jaguar skins that they would smuggle into the United States from Mexico.Jaguars are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, and the Lacey Act prohibits the transport, sale or purchase of any protected species.Garcia and Plancarte each face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when they are sentenced in March.

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Court Extends Ban on Killing Oregon’s Endangered Wolves

For Immediate Release, November 15, 2011

Contacts: Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 434-1463
Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495
Steve Pedery, Oregon Wild, (503) 283-6343 x 212

Court Extends Ban on Killing Oregon’s Endangered Wolves

State’s First Wolf Pack in 65 Years Out of Crosshairs — for Now

State’s First Wolf Pack in 65 Years Out of Crosshairs — for Now

SALEM, Ore.— Kill orders will remain on hold for two endangered gray wolves in Oregon after a decision today by the Oregon Court of Appeals. The court reaffirmed an earlier court order prohibiting the killing of two members of the Imnaha pack by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, pending the final outcome of the court’s review of the state’s wildlife laws. Three conservation groups, Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity and Oregon Wild, had petitioned for review of the wolf-killing rule.

“This is a huge victory for the vast majority of Oregonians who believe that wolves and people can peacefully coexist in this state,” said Josh Laughlin, campaign director for Cascadia Wildlands. “Increased human tolerance of gray wolves will be a defining factor in the recovery of the species in Oregon.”

Today’s ruling extends a temporary ban on killing put in place on Oct. 5. Department of Fish and Wildlife officials revealed last month they were trying to kill members of eastern Oregon’s Imnaha pack; in fact, unsuccessful shots were taken at the wolves the day before the ban was put into effect.

The wolves targeted for killing included the alpha male and a yearling wolf of the Imnaha pack, the state’s first pack in nearly 65 years and one of only four statewide. The pack is the first to raise pups in Oregon since the animals began their fragile recovery in the state more than a decade ago. Earlier this spring, just hours after wolf management was handed back to the state, Oregon wildlife officials killed two wolves from the pack, which had been blamed for several livestock depredations. The kill order was issued at the request of the livestock industry. Had two more wolves been killed as planned this fall, the Imnaha pack would have been reduced to the alpha female and her young pup, who would likely have been unable to survive the winter alone.

The latest legal challenge argued that by allowing the purposeful killing of a critically endangered species and putting the species’ recovery at risk, the state’s wolf-management plan is inconsistent with the Oregon Endangered Species Act, which specifically prohibits such action. The Oregon Court of Appeals has not yet set a date for ruling on the legality of killing endangered wolves. Today’s announcement, however, is an indication that the conservation groups’ legal stance has merit. The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, which has opposed and sought to undermine the state’s compromise wolf-management plan since its inception, intervened in the case and is defending the state’s ability to kill endangered wolves. The action follows recent efforts by the industry group to weaken the wolf plan and other wildlife protections through the legislature and with the state wildlife commission.

“Killing wolves is a senseless and brutal act that does little to nothing to save livestock,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “There are much better nonlethal options, including fencing, guard dogs and removing the carcasses that attract wolves in the first place. Shooting down these animals is wrong, and it doesn’t solve the problem.”

Oregon is home to just 23 wolves and more than 1.3 million cattle. Last year, more than 55,000 cows were lost to causes from weather, disease and (human) thieves. In the rare instances (fewer than 20 this year) where livestock are lost to wolves, ranchers are reimbursed at fair market value by Oregon taxpayers. Some have questioned whether the state’s compensation and killing programs provide a perverse incentive for anti-wolf livestock operators not to take effective measures to protect their livestock.

“It’s outrageous for the livestock industry to demand a dead wolf and a check from taxpayers every time a cow goes missing,” said Rob Klavins, wildlife advocate with Oregon Wild. “Oregonians value native wildlife, and it was disappointing to see the state wasting taxpayer money defending killing an endangered species before a judge even told them whether or not it was legal.”

The nonprofit groups are represented by attorney Dan Kruse in Eugene, Center for Biological Diversity Staff Attorney Tim Ream, and Cascadia Wildlands Legal Director Nick Cady.

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Once extinct in wild, Oriental white storks making slow comeback in Japan


Oriental white storks, a special protected species in Japan that once vanished from the wild in the 1970s, are making a gradual comeback, with some 1,000 sightings of the birds from Aomori to Kagoshima prefectures over the past six years.

The presence of the birds is a sign that organic farming is functioning, as they feed on frogs and loaches that coexist with other living creatures in the rice paddies of organic farms. As such, they have been seen as “environmental barometers,” offering hope to organic farmers, according to those familiar with the birds.

Oriental white storks became extinct in the wild in Japan in 1971. In 2005, the Hyogo Prefectural Government launched a project in the city of Toyooka to release storks that had been artificially bred into the wild. According to the Hyogo Prefectural Homeland for the Oriental White Stork, 27 of the birds have been released so far, and these birds have given birth to 36 offspring. Some have not survived, but including the nine that left their nests this year, officials believe there were 47 of the birds in Japan as of Nov. 6.

This year the Hyogo facility has received reports of sightings of the birds in Nagasaki, Niigata, Gunma and Aomori prefectures. On April 14 this year, about a month after the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, 62-year-old former agricultural cooperative worker Shinji Kobayashi, a resident of the Miyagi Prefecture town of Marumori, photographed Oriental storks in a local rice paddy. Bands attached to their legs by the Hyogo Prefectural Homeland for the Oriental White Stork indicated that they had flown there from Toyooka, some 590 kilometers away.

Marumori is about 60 kilometers away from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, and farmers in the area have suffered from rumors about radiation. Kobayashi sees the arrival of the storks as a symbol of recovery from the earthquake disaster that triggered the nuclear crisis.

“They have come from Hyogo Prefecture, which has recovered from the Great Hanshin Earthquake, to the Tohoku region as symbols of restoration,” he says.

Takeaki Kusunoki, a 58-year-old part-time farmer in Seiyo, Ehime Prefecture, has been charmed by the birds’ graceful appearance since seeing one of the storks in an area near his home in May 2006. In 2009 he formed the Uwa Konotori Hozon-kai (Uwa Oriental stork preservation society), and set up eight nesting platforms with the help of donations. This year he created a stream allowing the fish that the birds feed on to enter rice paddies, creating an environment in which Oriental storks could thrive.

In 2006 residents of the Fukui Prefecture city of Echizen created an association to protect waterfronts and living creatures. To bring storks back into the area, they began farming without agricultural chemicals or with reduced use of agricultural chemicals, and last year several of the birds flew into the area.

Setsuo Satake, representative of the citizens group Konotori Shicchi Netto (Oriental stork wetland network), comments, “The return of the birds to wildlife is not just about the protection of wild birds; it’s an attempt to revive a relationship of coexistence between humans and animals and reclaim a spiritually rich home. I want these efforts to spread across Japan in line with the arrival of the storks.”

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Environmental group warns of mass wildlife extinctions as human population hits 7 billion


As the United Nations marked the milestone of the world’s 7 billionth human on Halloween, the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity launched a new national campaign called “7 Billion and Counting” that highlights the connection between human population growth and mass extinction of wild animals and plants.

The center unveiled a new interactive map on its website at that offers information about endangered species in every county in the United States. And it released a report listing the top 10 species facing extinction from pressures directly related to overpopulation.

The center is giving away 100,000 of its “Endangered Species Condoms,” and it launched a huge video ad in New York City’s Times Square.

The center is the only environmental group with a full-time campaign highlighting the connection between human population growth and the extinction of other species.

Demographers say it took until 1804 for the world to reach its first billion people, and a century more until it hit 2 billion in

1927. Soon the numbers began to cascade: 3 billion in 1959, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1987, and 6 billion in 1998.

The U.N. estimates the world population will reach 8 billion by 2025 and 10 billion by 2083. But the numbers could vary widely, depending on life expectancy, access to birth control,

infant mortality rates and other factors.

“As the human population grows and the rich countries consume resources at voracious rates, we are crowding out, poisoning and eating all other species into extinction,” said Amy Harwood, coordinator of the 7 Billion and Counting campaign. “If it isn’t stopped, we’ll find ourselves on a very lonely planet devoid of any sense of the wild world this place once was.”

Some scientists say Earth is on the brink of its sixth mass


A study published in the journal Nature this year estimated that at least 80 mammal species have gone extinct in the past 500 years. They estimated the average historical extinction rate for mammals has been fewer than two extinctions every million years.

If all mammals now listed as endangered or threatened go extinct, it will be a true mass extinction, the study said.

Other studies have warned of similar consequences, with some scientists warning that increasing temperatures associated with climate change could trigger a new mass extinction.

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