Ours will! The young loggerhead sea turtle that’s been displayed in our Open Sea galleries is winging it back to the North Carolina Aquarium right now and will soon be returned to the wild. If all goes well, a new baby sea turtle wil take its place Friday night!
Follow the journey on Twitter at #TravelingTurtle.
Reversing local extinction: scientists bring the northern bald ibis back to Europe after 300 years
by Federica Di Leonardo
The northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita), also called the hermit ibis or waldrapp, is a migratory bird. Once, the bald ibis lived in the Middle East, northern Africa and southern and central Europe, but due to hunting, loss of habitat and pesticide-use, the birds disappeared from most of these areas and is currently considered Critically Endangered.
It became extinct in Europe 300 years ago; the bird is almost gone in Syria, with only a single individual recorded at the country’s lone breeding site in 2013; and the only stronghold left is a small population of around 500 birds in Morocco. But now, a team of scientists from Austria is working to reestablish a self-sustaining, migratory population of bald ibis in Europe.
In 2002 Johannes Fritz, who had been a doctoral student in biology at the Konrad Lorenz Research Station in Austria, came up with the idea of taking northern bald ibises from zoos and imprinting them, in effect becoming their foster parent to teach them a new migratory route to Italy…
The Hay’s Spring Amphipod, Stygobromus hayi, is a rare crustacean endemic to the District of Columbia in the United States. It is known to occur only in five springs along a three-mile stretch of Rock Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River.
This species is threatened by the degradation of its urban habitat. Most recently, it has become the center of attention in a debate about the environmental impacts of a planned transitway across Rock Creek for a local light-rail project: http://wapo.st/1b96i2e
About half of eastern North America’s Monarch butterflies migrate to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico each fall. Their arrival usually coincides with the local corn harvest around November 1, leading to the local name “harvester butterfly”.
The colonies of overwintering butterflies have in the past numbered up to a billion individuals, and the counts at the reserve are used to gauge population levels across North America. This year, however, the monarchs arrived about a week late and number only 3 million - just a tiny fraction of their usual numbers, around 350-450 million. In fact, just a fraction of the 60 million that arrived last year, which itself had been considered an alarming decline.
Four factors have been blamed for the crash: continuing habitat loss, widespread pesticide use, changing gardening approaches, and climate change, which has resulted in more numerous and more severe weather events that affect both the adults’ survival and their reproductive success. You can help by providing milkweed and nectar-rich plants in your garden, by reducing your use of pesticides, by leaving some of your property to naturalize, by planting wildflower meadows, and/or by encouraging your local municipality to cut back on mowing along roadsides and other wildflower-rich areas.
The Saola: a rare, elusive and critically endangered species
The Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) is a species of long-horned bovid, discovered in Vietnam in 1992 from horns in hunters’s houses.
The saola is only found in the Vu Quang Nature Reserve, spanning Vietnam and Laos, with total known range only 4,000 square kilometres. It is believed that the saola is a relic species that, along with its habitat, was squeezed into its present small range by climatic changes during and following the last Ice Age.
The saola is so new to science that its basic biology and physiology remains unknown to scientists although many local people are quite knowledgeable.
This enigmatic species was caught on film in September 2013 by a camera trap set by WWF and the Vietnamese government’s Forest Protection Department in the Central Annamite mountains.
While photo traps have recorded the animal, it remains elusive - no scientist has seen a living saola in the wild. As a result population estimates vary widely, from between 70-700 individuals.
Swayne’s Hartbeest or Korkay (Alcelaphus buselaphus swaynei) is a highly endangered subspecies of Hartbeest, with numbers totalling fewer than a thousand. They are listed by the IUCN as in “imminent danger of extinction”. They numbered hundreds of thousands a century ago, but habitat destruction (grasslands to arable), hunting and rindipest has now depleted their numbers.
Good News: New Camera Trap Photos Prove That Critically Endangered Amur Leopards Are Breeding in China
by Jeremy Hance
Good news today about one of the world’s rarest mammals today: camera traps in China’s Wangqing Nature Reserve have captured the first proof of breeding Amur leopards in the country, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The photos show a mother Amur leopard with two cubs. A recent survey by WWF-Russia estimated the total wild population of Amur leopards at just 50 individuals, but that’s a population on the rise (from a possible nadir of 25) and expanding into long-unused territory.
“This incredible find is important for two reasons,” notes Joe Walston, WCS Executive Director for Asia Programs. “Firstly, it shows that our current efforts are paying off but, secondly, it shows that China can no longer be considered peripheral to the fate of both wild Amur leopards and tigers.”
Amur leopards and Amur—or Siberian—tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) share much of the same ecosystem, and both big cats hunt large large hoofed prey like deer and boar. Yet both species were also pushed to the very edge of extinction by decades of poaching, until conservationists and countries responded. Amur leopards are currently listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, while Amur tigers are considered Endangered with around 360 animals surviving in the wild…
Length of shell: Up to 9.2 inches (23.4 cm) Entire length head head and tail: up to 14 inches (35.54 cm). Color: Shell is gray, brown, black and orange with central ridge and pyramidal pattern of ridges and grooves (seashell design). Plastron (ventral shell) is yellow/orange with dark patches. Orange on legs and neck. Long sharp claws.
Food: Omnivorous. Leaves and flowers of woody plants, berries, slugs, snails, worms and insects. Also young mice and eggs.
I was driving on a country road when I observed “something” in the road. I stopped the car when I realized it was a turtle in an unsafe area of the road. I wanted to help it “cross”. A few cars and motorcycles went by and I took photos and carefully watched it until it went into the vegetation. This turtle is in serious decline and is uncommon to rare and a species of special concern in the state of Pennsylvania.
With the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act just a month away, we are gearing up all our efforts to get the word out so our partners can celebrate this monumental law and let people know about all the plants and animals it protects.
Our most recent issues of Fish & Wildlife News takes a look at the Act, its history and milestones, success stories from around the nation and more. Check it out!
The discovery of the okapi shocked the world in 1901. African explorer, Henry Stanley, called it ‘donkey-like,’ while others thought it a new species of zebra, given the stripes. However, this notoriously-secretive rainforest ungulate proved to be the world’s only living relative of the giraffe, making it one of most incredible taxonomic discoveries of the Twentieth Century as well as one of the last large-bodied mammals to be uncovered by scientists.
But the future of the okapi (Okapia johnstoni) is increasingly in doubt: a new update of the IUCN Red List released today has raised the threatened level for the okapi from Vulnerable to Endangered…
Leatherback Sea Turtle No Longer Critically Endangered
by Jeremy Hance
The leatherback sea turtle—the world’s largest turtle and the only member of the genus Dermochelys—received good news today. In an update of the IUCN Red List, the leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) has been moved from Critically Endangered to Vulnerable. However, conservationists warn that the species still remains hugely endangered—and in rapid decline—in many parts of its range.
The new assessment found that the population of leatherback turtles in the northwest Atlantic Ocean (along the US and the Caribbean) is on the road to recover due to conservation actions. While scientists aren’t sure how the southeast Atlantic population (mostly in Gabon) is faring, it remains the world’s largest population.
However, the situation in the Pacific is far more bleak. The east Pacific population has dropped by 97 percent in three leatherback generations, while the west Pacific population has fell by 80 percent during the same period…
Strange mouth-brooding frog driven to extinction by disease
by MongaBay staff
An unusual species of mouth-brooding frog was likely driven to extinction by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), making an unusual example of ‘extinction by infection’, argue scientists writing in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.
A team of researchers led by Claudio Soto-Azat of the Universidad Andres Bello in Santiago and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) took samples from hundreds of preserved specimens of Darwin’s frogs (the northern Darwin’s frogRhinoderma rufum and the southern Darwin’s frogRhinoderma darwinii) that were collected from the wild between 1835 and 1989 and looked for the presence of Bd, a fungus that causes the disease chytridiomycosis. They also collected samples from surviving wild populations of Rhinoderma darwinii from Chile and Argentina.
The researchers found high prevalence of Bd at sites that had experienced Rhinoderma extinction or severe population declines, indicating a likely link between the disease and population collapse…
On the occasion of the Universal Children’s Day, we would like to introduce to you this week Axolotl. Axolotl (A. mexicanum) is known only from central Mexico, on the southern edge of Mexico City, in canals and wetlands. Although the axolotl is colloquially known as a “walking fish”, of course, it is not a fish, but an amphibian, a salamander.
The surviving wild population is very small. The desiccation and pollution of the canal system and lakes as well as the traditional consumption of the species by local people are threatening the survival of this species. The species is also captured for medicinal purposes. It used to be captured for the international pet trade too, although it is likely that all animals in the international trade are now of captive origin.
Axolotl was included in CITES Appendix II in 1975. It is currently under the process of “Periodic Review of species included in CITES Appendices”.