Archive for Conservation International

Saving lemurs from extinction: an emergency three year action plan amid Madagascar’s political crisis

With more than 90 per cent of species threatened with extinction, lemurs are the most threatened mammal group on earth. Continue reading

Forest giraffe joins growing number of threatened species

The Okapi – a national symbol of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as the “forest giraffe” – and the sub-Saharan White-winged Flufftail – one of Africa’s rarest birds – are now on the brink of extinction, according to the latest update of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Two species of albatross, the Leatherback Turtle and the Island Fox native to California’s Channel Islands are showing signs of recovery. Continue reading

Walking Shark discovered in Indonesia

A highly charismatic species of walking shark has been discovered in the remote eastern Indonesian island of Halmahera. The epaulette (long tailed carpet) shark, Hemiscyllium halmahera, uses its fins to “walk” across the ocean floor in search of small fish and crustaceans. The discovery comes at a time when Indonesia is significantly ramping up its efforts to protect shark and ray species that are now considered vulnerable to extinction, including whale sharks and manta rays. Continue reading

Turtles in Trouble: Sea Turtles in East Pacific, North Atlantic, Southwest Atlantic, and Mediterranean Face Higher Bycatch Mortality Rates

The most comprehensive global evaluation of fisheries bycatch impacts on large marine species, published this month in the journal Ecosphere, revealed that sea turtle populations in the East Pacific, North Atlantic, Southwest Atlantic, and Mediterranean face higher bycatch and mortality rates. The study also highlighted information gaps that are blocking further assessments of impacts, and found that bycatch rates in small-scale fisheries in nearshore areas rival those of large-scale fisheries in the open ocean. Currently, six out of the seven species of sea turtles are endangered globally, and without effective measures to reduce bycatch, many sea turtle populations around the world could face local extinction.  Continue reading

Victory for Sharks: Government of Raja Ampat Declares the first Shark and Manta Ray Sanctuary in Indonesia and the Coral Triangle

The Regency Government of Raja Ampat affirmed its strong commitment to protect sharks and manta rays this week by officially declaring its 46,000km2 marine waters a shark and manta ray sanctuary, the first established in Indonesia as well as the Coral Triangle, a Pacific region which includes the tropical waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. Continue reading

Almost one in five reptiles are struggling to survive

Nineteen percent of the world’s reptiles are estimated to be threatened with extinction, states a paper published today by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in conjunction with experts from the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC).

The study, printed in the journal of Biological Conservation, is the first of its kind summarising the global conservation status of reptiles. More than 200 world renowned experts assessed the extinction risk of 1,500 randomly selected reptiles from across the globe.

Out of the 19% of reptiles threatened with extinction, 12% classified as Critically Endangered, 41% Endangered and 47% Vulnerable.

“This is a very important step towards assessing the conservation status of reptiles globally,” says Philip Bowles, Coordinator of the Snake and Lizard Red List Authority of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. “The findings sound alarm bells about the state of these species and the growing threats that they face. Tackling the identified threats, which include habitat loss and over-harvesting, are key conservation priorities in order to reverse the declines in these reptiles.”

Prairie Rattlesnake © Paul Jones, from the surfbirds galleries.

Three Critically Endangered species were highlighted as possibly extinct. One of these, a jungle runner lizardAmeiva vittata, has only ever been recorded in one part of Bolivia. Levels of threat remain particularly high in tropical regions, mainly as a result of habitat conversion for agriculture and logging. With the lizard’s habitat virtually destroyed, two recent searches for the species have been unsuccessful.

“Reptiles are often associated with extreme habitats and tough environmental conditions, so it is easy to assume that they will be fine in our changing world,” says Dr Monika Böhm, lead author on the paper.“However, many species are very highly specialised in terms of habitat use and the climatic conditions they require for day to day functioning. This makes them particularly sensitive to environmental changes.”

Extinction risk is not evenly spread throughout this highly diverse group: freshwater turtles are at particularly high risk, mirroring greater levels of threat in freshwater biodiversity around the world. Overall, the study estimated 30% of freshwater reptiles to be close to extinction, a percentage which rises to 50% when considering freshwater turtles alone, as they are also affected by national and international trade.

Although threat remains lower in terrestrial reptiles, the often restricted ranges, specific biological and environmental requirements, and low mobility make them particularly susceptible to human pressures. In Haiti, six of the nine species of Anolis lizard included in the study have an elevated risk of extinction, due to extensive deforestation affecting the country.

Collectively referred to as ‘reptiles’, snakes, lizards, amphisbaenians (also known as worm lizards), crocodiles, turtles, tortoises and tuataras – lizard-like reptiles endemic to New Zealand – have had a long and complex history, having first appeared on the planet around 300 million years ago.  They play a number of vital roles in the proper functioning of the world’s ecosystems, as predator as well as prey.

“Gaps in knowledge and shortcomings in effective conservation actions need to be addressed to ensure that reptiles continue to thrive around the world,” says Dr Ben Collen, Head of ZSL’s Indicators and Assessment Unit. “These findings provide a shortcut to allow important conservation decisions to be made as soon as possible and firmly place reptiles on the conservation map.”

Information from this study will form part of the global assessment of reptiles which is being undertaken by IUCN.

View the paper here

Plight of the Pangolins: New Rehabilitation Center to Help Cambodia’s Endangered Pangolins

A new facility, the Pangolin Rehabilitation Center (PRC) opened today to provide specialist care to the kingdom’s endangered pangolins. The facility was established to rehabilitate injured pangolins rescued from hunters throughout Cambodia – an increasing and serious threat to the survival of this magnificent and little known species. Continue reading

Destruction of Coastal Habitats can Produce a Billion Tons of Greenhouse Gas a Year

Destruction of coastal habitats may release as much as 1 billion tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere each year, 10 times higher than previously reported, according to a new Duke led study. Continue reading

New Caledonia Declares 1.4 Million Square Kilometer Marine Protected Area to the Pacific Oceanscape

The New Caledonia government last night announced its  intention to create a marine protected area (MPA) roughly half the size of India. It will cover 1.4 million square kilometres and is the first contribution to the Pacific Oceanscape by a Melanesian country or a French overseas territory. Continue reading

Whale Shark’s Bounty: Innovative use of Radio Tagging Captures Stunning Behavior of World’s Largest Fish

 Scientific expedition in Indonesia tags 30 whale sharks for the first time with radio-frequency identification tags; leads to stunning, viral video of whale sharks sucking fish out of fishing nets Continue reading