Monthly Archives: January 2012

Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Named One of 10 U.S. Species Most Threatened by Fossil Fuel Development

For Immediate Release, January 19, 2012

Contact: Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological Diversity, (928) 310-6713
Mark Salvo, WildEarth Guardians, (503) 757-4221

Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Named One of 10 U.S. Species Most Threatened by Fossil Fuel Development

MIDLAND, Texas— The dunes sagebrush lizard, a small, rare lizard that lives only in Texas and New Mexico, was named one of 10 U.S. species most urgently threatened by fossil fuel development in a report released today by the Endangered Species Coalition. The report, called Fueling Extinction: How Dirty Energy Drives Wildlife to the Brink, highlights the top 10 U.S. species whose survival is most threatened by fossil fuels. The dunes sagebrush lizard is currently proposed for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

“America’s outsized reliance on dirty and dangerous fuels is making it much harder to protect our most vulnerable wildlife,” said Mark Salvo with WildEarth Guardians. “We should not sacrifice our irreplaceable natural heritage in order to make the fossil fuels industry even wealthier.”

The report highlights the 10 most endangered animals, plants, birds and fish at risk of extinction due to fossil fuel development, and shows how wildlife suffers displacement, loss of habitat and the threat of extinction from the development, storage and transportation of fossil fuels. Coalition members nominated candidates for inclusion in the report; submissions were then reviewed, judged and voted on by a panel of scientists. The report identifies the home range, conservation status, remaining population and specific threat facing each of the 10 finalists.

The dunes sagebrush lizard occurs in slivers of shinnery oak-sand dune habitat within the Permian Basin, the largest onshore oil and gas field in the United States. The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the lizard under the Endangered Species Act in 2002, and WildEarth Guardians submitted an emergency petition for the species in 2008. Long threatened by fossil fuel development and other land uses, the species was finally proposed for an endangered listing by the Service in December 2010.

“The fact that dunes sagebrush lizard habitat spans less than 2 percent of the Permian Basin hasn’t stopped oil-polluted politicians from claiming that protecting the lizard will destroy industry,” said Taylor McKinnon with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The lizard, not the oil and gas industry, is at risk of extinction — and industry’s refusal to yield even the last tiny slivers of habitat to prevent that extinction underscores the need for federal protections.”

Congressional opponents have loudly proclaimed that listing will “shut down” oil and gas development in the Permian Basin. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) and colleagues have tried every conceivable tactic to prevent the Service from protecting the species. Pearce’s opposition to listing the lizard is without basis, however, as the dunes sagebrush lizard occurs on less than 2 percent of the Permian Basin, and its small range has already been drilled with thousands of oil and gas wells. The Service has repeatedly stated that listing the lizard will have negligible effects on oil and gas development — but Pearce and his colleagues are undeterred. He and other members of Congress recently pressured the agency to delay the final listing decision for six months, allowing opponents more time to sharpen their attacks on this tiny reptile.

Fueling Extinction: How Dirty Energy Drives Wildlife to the Brink calls for a commitment to a clean, safe and sustainable energy future; it urges lawmakers to honor the intent of the Endangered Species Act while reducing the country’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels.

For more information and to view the full report, go to: http://fuelingextinction.org.

Top 10 List of Wildlife Threatened by Development, Storage and Transportation of Fossil Fuels

Bowhead Whale: The remainder of the endangered bowhead whale population is threatened by contaminants, noise from offshore oil drilling, and deadly collisions with ships. An oil spill could easily wipe out this small population, which lives solely in icy Arctic waters.

Dunes Sagebrush Lizard: The dunes sagebrush lizard is a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act due to impacts from oil and gas drilling on the Permian Basin in southeast new Mexico and west Texas. Habitat loss and degradation, disturbance from well pads and leaking pipelines of toxic gas emitted from wells contribute to the decline of the lizard’s population, which occurs on a tiny range within the basin’s vast oil reserves.

Graham’s Penstemon: This delicate flower lives only on oil shale reserves targeted for mining in Utah. Oil shale mining takes massive amounts of water, putting the flowers at risk of either being starved of water or drowned under new reservoirs. Oil shale soils are very unstable, and any development can bury or uproot the few remaining plants.

Greater Sage Grouse: Energy development has caused habitat loss and fragmentation due to roads, pipelines, power lines, and human and vehicle-related disturbance, resulting in marked declines in sage grouse numbers. Coalbed methane gas development in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming has coincided with a 79 percent decline in the greater sage grouse population.

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle: According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Kemp’s ridley is the most seriously endangered of all sea turtles, due to lingering impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in Gulf of Mexico waters, the sole breeding ground of the turtle. In the immediate aftermath of the oil spill, 156 sea turtle deaths were recorded; most of the turtles were Kemp’s ridleys.

Kentucky Arrow Darter: Toxic waste pushed into streams from mountaintop coal mining is smothering the rare Kentucky arrow darter fish and poisoning the drinking water of downstream communities. The arrow darter has already been wiped out from more than half of its range.

Spectacled Eider: Oil and gas development, along with climate change, have drastically reduced the frigid habitat range of the threatened spectacled eider. As a result, the western Alaskan population dropped by 96 percent between 1957 and 1992. Aircraft and vessel traffic and seismic survey acoustic activities can all damage the bird’s habitat and cause death.

Tan Riffleshell: This endangered mollusk plays a critical role in the health of Appalachian river habitats by filtering pollutants and restoring nutrients to the water. Acid mine drainage, sedimentation from coal mining, and coal ash landfills are contaminating the mussel’s habitat and breeding areas, further threatening this most endangered member of the mussel family.

Whooping Crane: The endangered whooping crane overcame near extinction in the 1940s, but the existing wild flock of 437 cranes now faces a new battle for survival. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would run alongside the crane’s entire migratory path from Canada to Texas, and the inevitable toxic waste ponds, collisions and electrocutions from power lines, along with potential oil spills, would decimate the vulnerable remaining population. Although President Obama rejected the pipeline this week, Republicans in Congress are expected to fight that decision.

Wyoming Pocket Gopher: It is estimated that fewer than 40 pocket gophers exist today in their sole range in Wyoming’s Sweetwater and Carbon counties. Truck and vehicle traffic associated with increasing oil and gas activities result in habitat loss and fragmentation, cutting off potential mating opportunities and endangering the survival of this rare animal.

Advocates’ Choice: The Polar Bear: Polar bears’ survival is completely dependent upon sea ice, which is rapidly melting. The bears are further threatened by the risk of an oil spill, and activities like seismic testing, icebreaking and vessel movement also hurt polar bears and their food sources.

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Biodiversity Crisis Is Worse Than Climate Change, Experts Say

ScienceDaily (Jan. 20, 2012) — Biodiversity is declining rapidly throughout the world. The challenges of conserving the world’s species are perhaps even larger than mitigating the negative effects of global climate change. Dealing with the biodiversity crisis requires political will and needs to be based on a solid scientific knowledge if we are to ensure a safe future for the planet. This is the main conclusion from scientists from University of Copenhagen, after 100 researchers and policy experts from EU countries were gathered this week at the University of Copenhagen to discuss how to organise the future UN Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES — an equivalent to the UN panel on climate change (IPCC).

Species extinction and the degradation of ecosystems are proceeding rapidly and the pace is accelerating. The world is losing species at a rate that is 100 to 1000 times faster than the natural extinction rate.

Mass extinctions of species have occurred five times previously in the history of the world — last time was 65 million years ago when the dinosaurs and many other species disappeared. Previous periods of mass extinction and ecosystem change were driven by global changes in climate and in atmospheric chemistry, impacts by asteroids and volcanism. Now we are in the 6th mass extinction event, which is a result of a competition for resources between one species on the planet — humans — and all others. The process towards extinction is mainly caused by habitat degradation, whose effect on biodiversity is worsened by the ongoing human-induced climate change.

“The biodiversity crisis — i.e. the rapid loss of species and the rapid degradation of ecosystems — is probably a greater threat than global climate change to the stability and prosperous future of humankind on Earth. There is a need for scientists, politicians and government authorities to closely collaborate if we are to solve this crisis. This makes the need to establish IPBES very urgent, which may happen at a UN meeting in Panama City in April,” says professor Carsten Rahbek, Director for the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, University of Copenhagen.

A biodiversity equivalent to the UN panel on climate change

Professor Rahbek was one of the main forces behind this week’s conference on biodiversity and the organisation of the new Biodiversity panel IPBES (Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services). The conference was arranged and hosted in cooperation with the Danish Ministry of Environment and took place at the University of Copenhagen, where more than 100 scientists and decision makers, primarily from EU countries were gathered. The conference has been organised just as Denmark is taking over the EU Presidency, which provides an opportunity to influence the process of organising the UN Biodiversity Panel.

The new panel is the biodiversity equivalent to the UN panel on climate change, which has resulted in enhanced policy awareness and changes around the world, and initiated a change of behaviour for billions of people in many companies. Unfortunately, the same is not true when it comes to reducing the threats to ecosystems and the loss of animal and plant species.

“There is a need to produce future scenarios that are easily understood and at the same time bring together the best scientists in this field. It is technically possible to develop such scenarios, if they are requested by decision-makers and politicians involved in the IPBES process. The myth that university scientists cannot or will not contribute to concrete solutions of large-scale society problems in close collaboration with practitioners, decision makers and politicians has been shown to be untrue through our close engagement in the organisation and participation in these workshops. The collaboration between the Danish Ministry of Environment, the EU presidency and University of Copenhagen over organising this conference is a successful example of how universities can contribute in dealing with some of the largest challenges that face the world at large,” states Carsten Rahbek.

The Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at University of Copenhagen led by Carsten Rahbek and producing world class research within biodiversity is arranging this conference in cooperation with the ministry of environment and EPBRS, European Platform for Biodiversity Research Strategy supported by EEA.

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Endangered sea lions bound for extinction under fishing plan

Friday, 20 January 2012, 2:11 pm
Press Release: Forest and Bird

Friday January 20, 2012 – Wellington
Forest & Bird media release for immediate use
Endangered sea lions bound for extinction under fishing plans
Forest & Bird said Friday the public interest and care being given to a sea lion and her pup in Dunedin highlights how important the endangered sea lions are to New Zealanders – and the need to halt their slide toward extinction.

An endangered New Zealand sea lion and its pup have drawn many visitors to Tomahawk Beach in Dunedin and the Department of Conservation has put up a temporary fence around the pair, with volunteers keeping watch to ensure they are not harmed.

The attention being given to the pair underlines how much New Zealanders and visitors value the critically endangered species. Sea lions only occasionally appear on the mainland, usually on Otago and Southland beaches, Forest & Bird Marine Conservation Advocate Katrina Subedar said.

“It’s lovely to see how much Otago people value these native animals, but at the same time people are flocking to see the few sea lions that visit our mainland shores, the main breeding population in the Auckland Islands is heading towards extinction,” she said.

The government is planning to remove squid fishing restrictions designed to reduce deaths of sea lions in the Sub-Antarctic islands as a new fishing season gets underway on February 1, she said.

“If we can’t protect this population in the Sub-Antarctic Islands, eventually we won’t see them anymore on the mainland or anywhere else.”
Recent research done by Department of Conservation scientist Dr Louise Chilvers found if current trends continue, New Zealand sea lions will be all but extinct by 2035.

The numbers of New Zealand sea lions have plummeted 50 percent over the last 12 years and research indicates the main cause for the decline is the sub-Antarctic squid fishery. Such a swift decline in a long-lived slow-breeding species is not sustainable.

Until now, the government has imposed a limit on the number of sea lions that may be killed by the squid fishery. If this number is exceeded, the fishery is closed down for the season. The current plan, despite the research predicting the extinction of sea lions, removes any limit on sea lion by-kill.

“The sea lion is listed in the same threat category as a Maui’s dolphin or a kakapo,” Katrina Subedar said.

“We wouldn’t allow hunting that caused the deaths of kakapo, so it is shocking that the government is poised to allow this native species to be driven into extinction in our lifetimes.”

“It’s important that as many New Zealanders as possible sign Forest & Bird’s online petition or write to Primary Industries Minister David Carter before the end of this month to tell him we have to work harder to save our sea lions, she said.

ENDS

Background:
The Sub-Antarctic squid fishery overlaps with the breeding and feeding area of sea lions living in the Auckland Islands. Squid is one of the main food sources for sea lions, which are sometimes killed in the squid nets, and the reduction of available food caused by fishing is also likely to be harming the population.
The Ministry of Fisheries claims the use of sea lion exclusion devices, which are fitted to trawl nets with the aim of allowing the animals to exit the nets, means there is no longer any need to set a limit on the number of sea lion deaths. But the ministry has provided no evidence the devices are working as intended and overseas research suggests they could cause fatal injuries to marine mammals.

The latest Sub-Antarctic squid fishing season starts on February 1 and the government is due to soon announce its final decision on whether the limit on sea lion deaths will be removed.

Forest & Bird has asked the government to progressively reduce to zero the limit on the number of sea lions that can be killed by the fishing industry. This could easily be done by replacing trawl nets with safer fishing methods such as jigging.

The government also needs to adopt a management programme which would outline the steps needed to increase the number of New Zealand sea lions to levels that would make them safe from the threat of extinction.

Forest & Bird’s online New Zealand sea lion petition can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/84brzze

 

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Biodiversity crisis: Habitat loss and climate change causing 6th mass extinction

INDYMEDIA – TAKVER

Scientists meeting at the University of Copenhagen have warned that biodiversity is declining rapidly throughout the world, describing the loss of species as the 6th mass extinction event on the earth. The world is losing species at a rate that is 100 to 1000 times faster than the natural extinction rate, with the challenges of conserving the world’s species larger than mitigating the negative effects of global climate change.

Related: Climate change and habitat loss threaten biodiversity, extinction rate underestimated | Species biodiversity under threat from the velocity of climate change | UN study says biodiversity loss unstoppable with protected areas alone | Oceans at high risk of unprecedented Marine extinction scientists warnRelated Event: Call of Life: Facing the Mass Extinction – a film and discussion – San Fransisco on Sunday January 29, 2012.

The scientists and policymakers met last week in Copenhagen to discuss how to organise the future UN Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) – an equivalent to the UN panel on climate change (IPCC). The conference was arranged and hosted in cooperation with the Danish Ministry of Environment and took place at the University of Copenhagen, where more than 100 scientists and decision makers, primarily from EU countries were gathered.

The conference concluded that dealing with the biodiversity crisis requires political will and needs to be based on a solid scientific knowledge for action to be taken to ensure a safe future for the planet. It is estimated that about 30,000 species go extinct each year, some three species per hour. This is not a new crisis. The World Conservation Union in 2004 reported on the Escalating global species extinction crisis.

Two recent scientific papers have emphasised that Climate change and habitat loss threaten biodiversity, extinction rate underestimated. The oceans are also in imminent peril with Marine Extinction looming with Ocean Acidification increasing, with marine scientists warning in June 2011 that the Oceans at high risk of unprecedented Marine extinction, including Extinction of coral reef ecosystems.

Five previous mass extinctions have occurred in the planet’s history, the last time being 65 million years ago – the end of the age of dinosaurs. These previous extinction events were driven by global changes in climate and in atmospheric chemistry, impacts by asteroids and volcanism. The present event, the 6th mass extinction, is driven by a competition for resources between one species on the planet – humans – and all others. Accelerating habitat degredation and loss is the primary process. The process is worsened by the ongoing human-induced climate change which particularly impacts fragmented ecosystems.

Human population is basically overpopulating the planet and driving species to extinction through destruction of native habitat and landuse conversion to industrial scale agriculture. Kevin J Gaston in a 2005 paper on Biodiversity and extinction: species and people (PDF) detailed that “The most important agent of change in the spatial patterns of much of biodiversity at present is ultimately the size, growth and resource demands of the human population…giving rise to levels of global species extinction largely unprecedented outside periods of mass extinction.”

Researchers have found that bird species most at risk are predominantly narrow-ranged and endemic to the tropics, where species have small ranges and are imperiled by human land use conversions. Most of these species are currently not recognized as imperiled. “Land conversion and climate change have already had significant impacts on biodiversity and associated ecosystem services. Using future land-cover projections from the recently completed Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, we found that 950–1,800 of the world’s 8,750 species of land birds could be imperiled by climate change and land conversion by the year 2100.” says the research paper on Projected Impacts of Climate and Land-Use Change on the Global Diversity of Birds published in PLoS Biology in June 2007.

Another recent multi-author study has found that preservation of plant biodiversity provides a crucial buffer to negative effects of climate change and desertification in drylands. This is important as Dryland ecosystems cover 41% of the land surface of the Earth and support 38% of the human population.

Scientists have recently calculated the velocity of climate change to be 27.3 km/decade on land, and 21.7 km/decade in the ocean. This rate of movement of thermal climate envelopes poses problems for species facing a high speed migration, or a difficult and abrupt adaptation or extinction. For terrestrial species this involves migration polewards or to a greater altitude. For species that live on the top of mountains, ecosystem islands in the sky, they face a grim future of adapting to a warmer environment or extinction as they compete with species moving up from lower altitudes. Species from the tropics with small ranges are particularly threatened.

Professor Carsten Rahbek, Director for the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, University of Copenhagen said “The biodiversity crisis – i.e. the rapid loss of species and the rapid degradation of ecosystems – is probably a greater threat than global climate change to the stability and prosperous future of mankind on Earth. There is a need for scientists, politicians and government authorities to closely collaborate if we are to solve this crisis. This makes the need to establish IPBES very urgent, which may happen at a UN meeting in Panama City in April.”

So, how can you help stop extinctions? The sixth extinction website, a website about the current biodiversity crisis, gives a list of small but concrete measures you can take on a personal level.

These include:

  • Donate or join nature conservation organisations
  • Buy Stewardship Council products
  • Say “No” to Bad Souvenirs
  • Use Green electricity
  • Visit parks and nature reserves
  • Respect the environment
  • Don’t release pets into the wild

I would add to this list to reduce your carbon foootprint through reduced consumption and encouragement of reuse and recycling.

Establishment of the UN Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) joins the Convention on Biodiversity which came into force on 29 December 1993, and the UN Environment Programme on Biodiversity in tackling the biodiversity crisis on a global level.

Sources:

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Habitat Loss Drives Sumatran Elephants Closer to Extinction – WWF

PRESS RELEASE

The Sumatran elephant has been downgraded from “endangered” to “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) after losing nearly 70 percent of its habitat and half its population in one generation, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced today. The decline is largely due to elephant habitat being deforested or converted for agricultural plantations.

WWF called for an immediate moratorium on habitat conversion to secure a future for Sumatran elephants.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the Sumatran elephant subspecies as critically endangered on its Red List of Threatened Species, the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species. There are only about 2,400 to 2,800 of the animals remaining in the wild, a reduction of about 50 percent from the 1985 population estimate. Scientists say that if current trends continue, Sumatran elephants could be extinct in the wild in less than 30 years.

According to the IUCN Red List, “Although as a species Sumatran elephants are protected under Indonesia law, 85 percent of their habitats which are located outside of protected areas, are outside of the protection system and likely to be converted to agricultural and other purposes.”

Sumatra is thought to hold some of the most significant populations of Asian elephants outside of India and Sri Lanka. Yet within the Asian elephant’s range, Sumatra has experienced perhaps the most rapid deforestation rate. Sumatra has lost over two-thirds of its natural lowland forest in the past 25 years – the most suitable habitat for elephants – resulting in local extinctions of the elephant from many areas.

“The Sumatran elephant joins the Sumatran orangutan, the Javan and Sumatran rhinos and the Sumatran tiger on a growing list of species found in Indonesia that are critically endangered,” said Dr. Barney Long, Asian species expert at WWF. “Without urgent and effective action to save them, we could lose some of these animals from the wild forever.”

WWF is calling on the Indonesian government to prohibit all forest conversion in elephant habitats until a conservation strategy is determined for protecting the animals.

“It’s very important that the Government of Indonesia, conservation organizations and agro-forestry companies recognize the critical status of elephant and other wildlife in Sumatra and take effective steps to conserve them,” said Ajay Desai, Asian elephant advisor for WWF. “Indonesia must act now before it’s too late to protect Sumatra’s last remaining natural forests, especially elephant habitats.”

Elephant numbers have declined by more than 80 percent in less than 25 years in Sumatra’s Riau Province, where pulp and paper companies, like Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), and palm oil plantations are causing some of the world’s most rapid rates of deforestation. Habitat fragmentation has confined some herds to small forest patches, and these populations are not likely to survive in the long term.

WWF calls upon all stakeholders, including the Government of Indonesia, palm oil companies, members of the pulp and paper industry and conservation organizations, to work together to conserve Sumatran elephant habitat. Urgent measures are needed to protect Sumatra’s remaining natural forests so that future generations of Indonesians can inherit a natural heritage that includes wild elephants, tigers, orangutans and rhinos.

ABOUT WORLD WILDLIFE FUND
WWF is the world’s leading conservation organization, working in 100 countries for nearly half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit http://www.worldwildlife.org to learn more.

Caroline Behringer
(443) 285-1928 – mobile
caroline(dot)behringer(at)wwfus(dot)org

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Lawsuit Seeks Endangered Species Act Protection for Alabama Shad

For Immediate Release, January 18, 2012

Contact: Tierra Curry, (928) 522-3681

Lawsuit Seeks Endangered Species Act Protection for Alabama Shad

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service today over its denial of Endangered Species Act protection to the Alabama shad. The shad was once so abundant that it supported commercial fisheries in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana and Iowa, but because of a combination of dams, pollution and habitat destruction is now rarely found in most of its former range.

“There’s no question the Alabama shad has suffered dramatic declines and needs Endangered Species Act protection to survive,” said Tierra Curry, conservation biologist with the Center. “The Endangered Species Act has a 99 percent success rate at saving species from extinction, but before the law can pull an animal back from the brink, the species has to be given threatened or endangered status. The shad should be granted that status.”

The Alabama shad once occurred in rivers from Florida to Oklahoma, but today only a handful of populations survives. The shad’s decline is typical of many freshwater animals in the Southeast, where longstanding abuse and neglect of the region’s waterways have led to the imperilment of hundreds of species in what is widely recognized as a region of unparalleled freshwater biodiversity.

In 2010 the Center petitioned for Endangered Species Act protection for 404 species dependent on southeastern rivers and streams, including the shad. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently issued a positive initial finding on 374 of these species, meaning they will all get a status review to determine if protection is warranted. For the shad, however, the National Marine Fisheries Service rejected protection even before a status review was conducted.

“The Fisheries Service has recognized threats to the shad since at least 1997, yet refused to even conduct a formal status review of the rare fish,” said Curry. “Endangered Species Act protection for the shad could restore a commercial fishery and help restore the region’s rivers — which would benefit people as well as the shad.”

The shad was recognized as a candidate for protection by the Fisheries Service in 1997. It was switched to a “species of concern” in 2004, at which time the Fisheries Service said it would conduct a status review, which has yet to occur.

Alabama shad spend most of their six-year life in the ocean, returning to freshwater rivers to breed. Juvenile shad remain in fresh water for the first six to eight months of their lives, feeding on small fishes and invertebrates. Populations of the shad are thought to remain in the Apalachicola River, Fla.; the Choctawhatchee and Conecuh rivers, Ala.; the Pascagoula River, Miss.; the Ouachita River, Ark.; and the Missouri, Gasconade, Osage and Meramec rivers, Mo.

Learn more about our campaign to stop the Southeast freshwater extinction crisis.

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The indigenous forest cow facing extinction

IBN LIVE

KOCHI: At a time when the Vechur cow is grabbing headlines, another indigenous variety with similar traits is facing extinction. The forest cow, commonly found in the forest belts of Ernakulam, has declined by 70 per cent.
According to Suresh Kumar, a veterinary surgeon in Kuttampuzha Panchayat, the area where 90 per cent of the cows are found, the number of forest cows has been on the decline. “At least 700 of them have died in the last six years. If remedial measures are not taken, the breed will soon become extinct, a trend which was seen in the case of Vechur cow,” he said.
The cow has huge potential if it is domesticated, he said. The breed can yield at least two litres more milk than the Vechur cow. The fat content in the milk is superior compared to other cows. It has a fat percentage between 8 to 12. Domestication of the cow is easy, as it does not need any special attention. “It can be fed on almost all sorts of food. Also, its resistance to diseases is much higher,” he said.
Left to breed in the forest by the Adivasi communities which look after them, the cow has adapted itself to the wild. The 150-kg cow has the capacity to swim through rivers, which points to its enormous strength and agility.
“The breed is special. That is why there is a need to preserve it. Whenever people purchase these cows for domestication, we advise them to purchase the same bull breed, so as to avoid any mix of the breed.”
Awareness on the cow breed gained popularity in Thiruvananthapuram when one such cow was showcased at the animal fest conducted by the Animal Husbandry Department two years ago. The breed is being displayed at the animal fest held here at the Rajendra Maidan.

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