Archive for July, 2009

Humans Can Help Save Most Threatened Bird Species

A study conducted by University of East Anglia conservationists in Western Siem Pang in Cambodia suggests that humans are key to saving the world’s most threatened bird species, the white-shouldered ibis. The study, which was published in the journal Animal Conservation, reveals that traditional small-scale farming, including livestock grazing, creates exactly the type of habitat that appeals to the waterbirds: open, accessible areas with low vegetation and bare soil. See the full story at NewKerala.com. Less than 250 of the birds are estimated to survive in the world. At least 161 of the birds were recently counted in Western Siem Pang, the largest number of the birds ever recorded, thus confirming that the area is the most important habitat for the species. Western Siem Pang is home to several other critically endangered bird species, including giant ibis, white-rumped vulture, slender-billed vulture, and red-headed vulture. See the full story about the recent ibis census at BirdLife International.

Share

Cornish Zoo Breeds Rare Civets

Newquay Zoo in Cornwall has successfully bred two rare Owston’s civets, resulting in five cubs so far. Read the full story and see pictures of the civets at the BBC News site. The breeding program is conducted in conjunction with Cuc Phuong National Park. Newquay Zoo also supports conservation efforts in the civets’ native land of Vietnam. Owston’s civets are threatened by habitat destruction and illegal trapping for their fur and meat.

Share

New Hope in Giant Panda Reproduction

China has announced the birth of the first giant panda cub conceived through artificial insemination using frozen sperm. Female panda You You gave birth to her groundbreaking cub at the Wolong Giant Panda Research Center in southwestern Sichuan. The technique has been attempted before, but researchers believe this is the first time it has worked successfully. Artificial insemination is commonly used for breeding pandas, but this breakthrough is important because it will allow for greater genetic diversity among the captive panda population. Read the full story at mymotherlode.com.

Share

They Put Me in a Cage

I couldn’t decide whether to write about this one because it upset me so. The good news is that conservationists say there is now evidence that the clouded leopard is not extinct in Bangladesh as previously thought. Unfortunately the evidence for this is that villagers came upon a mother and her two cubs eating a monkey. They managed to catch one of the cubs and then proceeded to keep it in a cage for three weeks. Conservationists convinced the villagers to release the 3-month-old cub back into the wild rather than selling it. Will the cub survive on its own since cubs are probably not independent until around 10 months of age? Will the mother come back and reclaim it? I don’t really want to think about the fate of this cub too much. You can read the full story in Thanh Nien, or read a different version (with a better version of the heart-rending photo of the caged cub) at the Daily Mail. Sigh.

Share

Jackrabbits Not Amused by "Multiplying" Jokes

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is planning to study the white-sided jackrabbit to determine if the species requires protection under the Endangered Species Act. With only around 150 remaining in the United States, the rabbits are threatened by habitat changes. You can read the full story in USA Today. Be sure not to miss the joke at the end about the tortoise and the hare, as if the “Multiplying like bunnies?” headline wasn’t bad enough.

Share

Have Your Bluefin Tuna and Eat It Too

Wired has a fascinating story on how biotechnologists are searching for a way to get bluefin tuna to spawn in captivity so we can continue to eat them in delicious sushi rolls without actually making them go extinct. From the involvement of the Italian mafia in the bluefin trade, to using spotter planes to chase down the remaining young tuna in the wild and then fattening them up in pens before they have a chance to reproduce, to a single fish that sold for $173,000, this article has a lot more intrigue than your run-of-the-mill fish story. For those interested in sustainable seafood, you can download your own seafood watch pocket guide from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. (Quick tip for your sushi: stick to the troll/pole-caught bigeye and yellowtail.)

Share

New Zealand Brown Teal Rebounds

The New Zealand Brown Teal, which at one time was New Zealand’s most common duck, is recovering from near extinction. Much of the credit for the accomplishment goes to the Brown Teal Conservation Trust, which has advocated for the recovery program and publicized the plight of the birds. As a result, in the last nine years the population of the birds at Port Charles (no, not that one) on the Coromandel Peninsula has increased from about 20 birds to over 700. Read the full story in the Wairarapa Times-Age.

Share

Snipers to Protect Fairy Penguins

Sydney’s colony of fairy penguins will now be protected by snipers. Nine members of the 120-member colony at Quarantine beach have recently perished after being mauled by what authorities believe are either dogs or foxes (DNA tests are still underway). The parks service vows that the snipers will stay as long as necessary to protect the little penguins. You can read the full story in the Guardian.

Share

Rare Foal Born at Smithsonian CRC

A Przewalski’s horse foal was born July 9th at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park Conservation and Research Center (CRC) in Front Royal, Virginia. The foal was born to a mare named Brandy. Go to The Horse for the full story, complete with an adorable picture of the newcomer. The CRC also welcomed a clouded leopard and a red panda cub on the very same night. You can go here for the news release on the zoo’s website, which includes more details and pictures of all the newborns.

Share

Move in the Right Direction

Conservationists were encouraged today by the sighting of two southern right whales (a mother and calf) off the coast of Waiwera (north of Auckland in New Zealand). See the story (with video) at 3 News.

Share
Archives