Category Archives: mass extinction

State govt issues grant for conservation of ghariyals

Express India

Lucknow, October 7 The state government has issued a grant of Rs 15.77 lakh to the Kukrail Gharial Rehabilitation Centre (KGRC) for the conservation project of “critically endangered” ghariyals.

The state Forest department has also asked the Centre for a Rs 1.45-crore grant for the upgrade of the rehabilitation center, famous for captive breeding.

The step was taken following a survey undertaken by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). As per the survey, the Indian Ghariyal (Gavialis Gangeticus) is on the red list of critically endangered species this year.

The mature ghariyal population in India stands at less than 200. The estimated population of ghariyal is 1,976. However, the state officials said the IUCN figure might be representing the gharials in their natural habitat. 

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (wildlife) D N S Suman said that the state will take special measures to protect the Ghariyal.

“It is a matter of concern that the IUCN has categorised the ghariyal as critically endangered species in the recent list, which was in the endangered category till now. We have been devising the plan for their conservation. Plan is being worked out where the state Forest department and the Madras Crocodile Bank will work together for the protection of the rare indigenous reptile,” he said.

Ramesh Pandey, Divisional Forest Officer of Katarnia Ghat (another natural habitat), said the ghariyal was losing congenial habitat threatening their existence. “The construction of various structures on rivers like dams, barrages and activities like sand mining has put pressure on their riverine habitat.”

Sources said the grant released by the state would be used for the upgrade of the rehabilitation centre. The KGRC would be upgraded in such a way that would provide as a favourable habitat for the breeding of ghariyals.

The tourism zone would clearly be separated from the breeding zone, as instructed by the Central Zoo Authority. The wildlife museum would be renovated and a new watchtower would be constructed for the tourists.

The state Forest department had started the Ghariyal Rehabilitation Project in 1975 at the behest of the Centre. Over the years, the KGRC kept the successful breeding and survival record of ghariyal over 90 per cent.

Deputy Forest Conservator (endangered species) Renu Singh said that the KGRC has released around 3,782 ghariyals in different rivers in the country. It has also gifted 288 ghariyals to various countries and organisations in cities like New York, Tokyo, Islamabad and Kabul.

Sources said the project started suffering when the Centre stopped the financial assistance in 1992-93 and the state government pulled its hands in 1998-99.


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Endangered Species Walk/Run set for Saturday on Katy Trail

 News Tribune

Hundreds of people will trek the ninth annual Endangered Species Walk/Run Saturday on the Katy Trail starting from the Jefferson City Pavilion.

From birds to animals, fish and flowers, “the list is quite big of the species that are endangered,” said Linda Martin, administration staff assistant with the Missouri Conservation Department.

The fundraiser helps restore habitats, conduct research and support education projects. The event will highlight the bottomland hardwood forests and swamps, which harbors 10 percent of Missouri’s rare and endangered species.

“We don’t want to lose any of the species we have and if we don’t protect them, that’s what will happen,” Martin added.

Race packets will be distributed 8-9 a.m. Participants can choose from three race options: a 5K walk, a 5K run and a 10K run. Rain or shine, the walk begins at 8:45 a.m. and the runs start at 9 a.m.

For safety reasons, no headphones or pets will be allowed on the trail. Strollers and joggers are welcome, but must stay at the end of the lineup when starting.

The race route is certified by the USA Track and Field and races will be chip timed. Awards will be given to winners by age class. There also will be a raffle with the event.


Last year, the race hosted 400 walkers and runners, but so far Martin said more than 500 people have signed up to participate.

“We have walkers from all over the state,” Martin said. “Everyone has a good time with it. … I think people are very interested in helping protect our habitat and endangered species.”

Online registration costs $25. Paper registration costs $27.

Registration includes a long-sleeved T-shirt with artwork created for the occasion by Conservation Department artist Mark Raithel. Non-participants can purchase the shirt for $25.

Youth teams are encouraged to participate with a reduced registration fee. Youth age groups start at 10 and younger and go through 11-14 and 15-19. Ages for adults range by decade – 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and a group for 70 years and older.

The Conservation Department is also holding a statewide youth postcard contest in conjunction with the walk/run. The contest deadline has expired, but postcards will be displayed in the Capitol through Oct. 15 and at the race.

“People can come by and vote on their choices and we have lots of great entries,” Martin said.

The event is co-hosted by the Missouri departments of Conservation, Natural Resources and Health and Senior Services; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry.

Gov. Matt Blunt will proclaim the week leading up to the event, Oct. 7-13, as Missouri Endangered Species Awareness Week.

For registration and other information, visit or call (573) 522-4115 ext. 3150.


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Beetle could become Britain’s first extinction of new millennium


Efforts are being made this week to prevent Britain’s first species extinction in the new millennium – of a beetle that was discovered only two years ago.

The streaked bombardier beetle is officially the UK’s rarest insect, known from only one colony, on a brownfield site on the Thames estuary in east London. However, the site is about to be redeveloped for housing, and the rubble-strewn habitat it has found congenial is to be obliterated.

In an attempt to save the beetle, the developers have created an alternative site on the edge of the housing area, and this week volunteers from the London Wildlife Trust have tried to relocate the insects. Otherwise, disappearance looms for Brachinus sclopeta, which only a month ago was added to the UK’s list of priority endangered species.

“This isn’t an extinction in a remote rainforest on the other side of the world,” said Jamie Roberts of Buglife, the invertebrate conservation charity. “It’s happening right here on our doorstep, and could have been avoided if the site had been protected. It’s very sad that a deliberate choice has been made to plough on with this development, regardless of the consequences to wildlife.”

Bombardier beetles are among the insect world’s more remarkable creatures. They possess an effective defence mechanism, which comprises their ability to fire a boiling chemical spray from the tip of the abdomen. This is fatal to other insects and discouraging to larger potential enemies, including humans.

There are about 250 species of bombardier beetle, but in Britain there was thought, until recently, to be only one – the common bombardier, Brachinus crepitans, which, despite its name, is scarce. But in May 2005, one of Britain’s leading entomologists, Richard Jones, discovered the colony of streaked bombardiers while conducting a survey for the developers of the building site, which is near the Thames Barrier.

The insect was regarded as “missing, believed extinct”, as it had not been seen in Britain since 1928, and before that the last reliable records were from the mid-19th century, so it immediately became Britain’s greatest invertebrate rarity.

Mr Jones has been instrumental in persuading the company to create an alternative site nearby, and he has led the way in finding and moving the insects, so far having moved about 10. A search on Monday with a dozen volunteers produced only one more.

One of the difficulties with translocation is the beetle’s life cycle; the larvae of bombardiers are known to prey on specific examples of other beetle species, especially of the ground beetle genus Amara, but it is not known which Amara species is the prey of the streaked bombardier. To provide for this eventuality, Mr Jones has also been translocating examples of Amara beetles from one site to the other.

Matt Shardlow, the director of Buglife, said the charity was sceptical of the possibilities of success, but wished the enterprise well.

A number of insect species are believed to have become extinct in Britain in recent years, including the short-haired bumblebee, last seen on the Kent coast in 1988, and the large blue butterfly, which died out in 1979. However, the large blue has been reintroduced successfully and is now thriving at a number of sites in the West Country

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Polar Bear Endangered Status Likely

Environmental News network

LONDON – An accelerating melt of Arctic sea ice is likely to make the polar bear officially “endangered” in the very near future, the head of a global wildlife conservation network said on Wednesday.

“They’re running out of ice to be on,” said Julia Marton-Lefevre, the director general of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) which publishes an annual “Red List” of threatened species.

The IUCN, grouping 83 states and hundreds of conservation organizations, currently lists the polar bear as “vulnerable”.

“It’s likely to be increased to endangered… in the very near future, unfortunately,” Marton-Lefevre told the Reuters Environment Summit of the giant Arctic carnivore that is an emblem of manmade global warming for conservationists.

The Arctic saw record melting of sea ice this summer, a 30-year satellite record shows, prompting some scientists to predict an ice-free North Pole by the summer of 2050 or sooner.

Placing the polar bear on the second highest alert, below critically endangered, would underscore how manmade climate change has arrived and could even bring political fallout.

President George W. Bush’s administration will separately decide by year-end whether to add polar bears to its own threatened list, a move which would bar the government from jeopardizing their existence.


That could open a pandora’s box given that the United States is one of the world’s top two emitters of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, alongside China.

Marton-Lefevre said the polar bear was a sign of a global “extinction crisis” which she said threatened, for example, half of all turtles and a quarter of mammals.

Extinctions could be the next global threat to hit the public eye, she said.

“All indications are exactly like the climate issue ten years ago. It looks bad. The climate issue was ignored for so long because scientists were very prudent.”

Preserving animals and plants could help protect mankind, she said. “When the tsunami hit we now know the parts of coastline without mangroves were worst affected,” she said of the Indian Ocean disaster of 2004.

The IUCN estimates that 16,000 species are threatened with extinction, not including those unknown or little understood.

Success stories are thin on the ground but include the Echo Parakeet, the only species that the IUCN this year downgraded, to endangered from critical, thanks to protection in a wooded corner of Mauritius.

“That’s a good story… There aren’t too many, this is the problem. This is a tiny little example to show that conservation can work.”

The polar bear’s main hunting trick is to use its snowy coats to blend in with a white background and so sneak up on seals, its main prey. In other words — no ice, no food.

— Additional reporting by Deborah Zabarenko in Washington

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Filed under arctic, climate change, endangered, environment, extinction, global warming, mammal, marine, mass extinction, nature, wildlife

Joint effort nets endangered shellfish


TORONTO (Reuters) – An international sting operation has netted 27 tonnes of an endangered shellfish, after DNA tests proved that imports labeled whelk meat actually came from the queen conch, authorities said on Wednesday.

The equivalent of seven fully loaded semi-trailers of queen conch meat, an endangered species that is widely used in Caribbean and Asian cooking, was found in shipments to several North American cities in an 18-month operation that began in March 2006, U.S. and Canadian officials said.

“This is way off the radar as far as anything we’ve seen in the past,” Sheldon Jordan, director of wildlife enforcement for the Quebec region at Environment Canada, told Reuters.

“(Wildlife trade) is third behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking as far as illegal activities worldwide, so this has an important economic impact in addition to the biological impact that it has by taking these species out of the ecosystems.”

The smugglers, based as far apart as Miami, Florida and Vancouver, British Columbia, would ship the mislabeled meat into Canada, and then redistribute it to the United States through Buffalo, New York.

The meat, also known as pink conch, is legally fished and consumed on a limited basis in some Caribbean countries, and its shells are sold as tourist souvenirs.

But overfishing in the 1970s and 1980s has left the queen conch endangered, prompting a near-total U.S. embargo on the meat from 2003 to 2006.

Jordan said three people had been charged with smuggling, along with two companies. Under Canadian law, the individuals could face up to five years in jail or a C$300,000 fine, or both, if they are convicted. U.S. penalties are up to five years imprisonment and fines, in this case, up to $1 million.

“The two interceptions that we had in Montreal in November of last year and Halifax in December basically cut the dragon off at the head,” he said of the operation.

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The Greatest Dying

The Greatest Dying
By Jerry Coyne and Hopi E. Hoekstra
The New Republic :: Monday 24 September 2007

A fate worse than global warming.

Two hundred fifty million years ago, a monumental catastrophe devastated life on Earth. We don’t know the cause – perhaps glaciers, volcanoes, or even the impact of a giant meteorite – but whatever happened drove more than 90 percent of the planet’s species to extinction. After the Great Dying, as the end-Permian extinction is called, Earth’s biodiversity – its panoply of species – didn’t bounce back for more than ten million years.

Aside from the Great Dying, there have been four other mass extinctions, all of which severely pruned life’s diversity. Scientists agree that we’re now in the midst of a sixth such episode. This new one, however, is different – and, in many ways, much worse. For, unlike earlier extinctions, this one results from the work of a single species, Homo sapiens. We are relentlessly taking over the planet, laying it to waste and eliminating most of our fellow species. Moreover, we’re doing it much faster than the mass extinctions that came before. Every year, up to 30,000 species disappear due to human activity alone. At this rate, we could lose half of Earth’s species in this century. And, unlike with previous extinctions, there’s no hope that biodiversity will ever recover, since the cause of the decimation – us – is here to stay.

To scientists, this is an unparalleled calamity, far more severe than global warming, which is, after all, only one of many threats to biodiversity. Yet global warming gets far more press. Why? One reason is that, while the increase in temperature is easy to document, the decrease of species is not. Biologists don’t know, for example, exactly how many species exist on Earth. Estimates range widely, from three million to more than 50 million, and that doesn’t count microbes, critical (albeit invisible) components of ecosystems. We’re not certain about the rate of extinction, either; how could we be, since the vast majority of species have yet to be described? We’re even less sure how the loss of some species will affect the ecosystems in which they’re embedded, since the intricate connection between organisms means that the loss of a single species can ramify unpredictably.

But we do know some things. Tropical rainforests are disappearing at a rate of 2 percent per year. Populations of most large fish are down to only 10 percent of what they were in 1950. Many primates and all the great apes – our closest relatives – are nearly gone from the wild.

And we know that extinction and global warming act synergistically. Extinction exacerbates global warming: By burning rainforests, we’re not only polluting the atmosphere with carbon dioxide (a major greenhouse gas) but destroying the very plants that can remove this gas from the air. Conversely, global warming increases extinction, both directly (killing corals) and indirectly (destroying the habitats of Arctic and Antarctic animals). As extinction increases, then, so does global warming, which in turn causes more extinction – and so on, into a downward spiral of destruction. Continue reading


Filed under biodiversity, disease, extinction, global warming, mass extinction, ocean, rainforests