With just two inhabited buildings and a population of five, Fossil, Wyo., is all but a ghost town today. But as far as ghosts go, the ones at Fossil are pretty remarkable — 50-million-year-old monitor lizards, stingrays and freakishly long-tailed turtles among them.
Fossil showed promise of becoming a train-stop city during America’s westward expansion. The town’s real golden age, however, may have been the early Eocene, when it was covered in a subtropical lake with an incredible diversity of aquatic life, surrounded by lush mountains and active volcanoes…
T - This is the most complete skeleton of a so-called dawn horse ever discovered. This specimen of Protorohippus venticolus was much more diminutive than today’s horses, standing less than two feet high at the shoulder, but its long back legs suggest it was a good jumper. Perhaps it was less skilled as a swimmer; researchers aren’t sure how the horse ended up at the bottom of the middle of Fossil Lake but they suspect it drowned, possibly trying to escape a predator.
B - This fossil immortalizes stingray sex of the Eocene. The male and female fat-tailed stingrays (Asterotrygon maloneyi) shown here were likely mating or just about to mate when they were killed, researchers believe.
Conservation and Reintroduction of Prezwalski’s Horse
Through the safeguard and study of the Przewalski horse (called Takh in Mongolian) as a flagship species the Association TAKH leads an integrated conservation project which allies landscape restoration with biodiversity protection and the promotion of sustainable development. Since 1990, we have worked in France and Mongolia to achieve this mission…
While many people may view zoos first and foremost as attractions, these institutions have a long history of supporting and instigating conservation work, including saving species from extinction that have vanished from their wild habitat. But such efforts require not just dedication and patience, but herculean organizational efforts. Enter, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), which works with zoos and aquariums to set up conservation programs and track endangered species in captivity.
“Most of the major international conservation organizations have moved away from species conservation in recent years, now focusing on issues such as poverty alleviation, global change, ecosystem services, etc. It is the role of zoos and aquariums to keep alive the flame of species conservation!” Markus Gusset, Conservation Officer with WAZA, told mongabay.com in a recent interview.
Gusset says that zoos and aquariums should be conservation centers first and businesses second. He points to a long history of zoos in saving species that have gone extinct in the wild, including five mammals and one bird that would not be around today without the protective efforts of modern zoos…
(images: T - Red Wolf, Seth Bynum /Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium; 2L - Przwalski’s Horse, Petra Kaczensky/International Takhi Group; 2R - California Condor, Mike Wallace/San Diego Zoo Global; 3 - Black-footed Ferret, USFWS; BL - Arabian Oryx, Tim Wacher; BR - European Bison, Mieczysław Hlawiczka)
Cinderella animals: endangered species that could be conservation stars
A cursory look at big conservation NGOs might convince the public that the only species in peril are tigers, elephants, and pandas when nothing could be further from the truth. So, why do conservation groups roll out the same flagship species over-and-over again?
Simple: it is believed these species bring in donations. A new paper in Conservation Letters examines the success of using flagship species in raising money for larger conservation needs, while also pointing out that conservation groups may be overlooking an important fundraising source: “Cinderella animals.
“Too much focus on “flagship species”?
Flagship species are animals used by conservation groups to raise funds; these species are almost always mammals, large, and appealing to the general public, often defined as ‘cute.’ This trend has long faced criticism: some researchers argue that in an age of mass extinction focusing on a few mammals trivializes the scale of the problem and leaves the bulk of the world’s threatened species without targeted protection…
In Tibet, Change Comes to the Once-Pristine Roof of the World
Renowned biologist George Schaller has been traveling to the remote Tibetan Plateau for nearly three decades, studying its unique wildlife. But with climate change and overgrazing taking a toll on the landscape, he reports, scientists and the Chinese government are working to preserve one of the planet’s wildest places…
Scientist know now that there are at least 250 of these hard-to-track beasts alive in the Israeli desert—and they seem to be doing just great.
by Joanna M. Foster
Don’t be deceived by its everyday equine exterior—the Asiatic wild ass is no horse or run-of-the-mill donkey. It is the notoriously untamable ungulate of the Mongolian desert steppes, the Arabian Peninsula and remote regions of Russia, whose Greek name simply means “wild.”
In the 1980s and 1990s, a small group of asses was reintroduced to one of its favorite stomping grounds in the Negev desert of southern Israel from a zoo in Iran.
Unfortunately, for concerned conservationists trying to track its progress, the ass lived up to its name and disappeared back into the wild. Until recently, no one had any idea how the wild asses were doing or even how many had survived…
Giraffes? Horses? Squirrels?? 20 Animals You Didn’t Know Are Going Extinct
Treehugger has put together a startling gallery of animals on the list of endangered species, and many are species you wouldn’t expect to be on such a list. They are species of familiar animals that are easily recognizable. Many are animals we see at the zoo, and sadly, the zoo and animal sanctuaries are the last refuge for many of these species.
Water Buffalo - There are less than 2500 mature wild water buffalo remaining
Socorro Parakeet - going extinct in the wild due to their popularity as household pets. The wild population may be as few as 250 mature adults.
Rothschild Giraffe - Those living in the wild are found in protected areas in Kenya and Uganda, while about 450 individuals are found in zoos around the world.
Pygmy hippo - The last population estimate in 1990 put the species at 3000 individuals, and studies suggest this estimate is too high.
Przewalski’s Horse - Currently, there are about 50 mature horses living in the wild with more individuals in captive breeding programs and zoos. That’s not very many and a major threat to the species is a loss of genetic diversity and thus disease.
Grevy’s Zebra - Only 2500 individuals of this zebra species are left in the wild.
San Joaquin Antelope Ground Squirrel - Thanks to agriculture and a whole lot of rodenticide, this Californian squirrel species has less than 20% of its former range and an estimated 124,000-413,000 individuals left.
… is a large member of the horse family, Eqquidae. It is native to the deserts of Syria, Iran, Pakistan, India, Israel, and Tibet. It is also known as the Asiatic wild ass or Asian wild ass. Like many other large grazing animals, the onager’s range has contracted greatly under the pressures of poaching and habitat loss. Of the five subspecies, one is extinct and at least two are endangered (their status in China is not well known).
Onagers are a little larger than donkeys at about 290 kg (640 lb) and 2.1 m (6.9 ft) (head-body length), and are a little more horse-like. They are short-legged compared to horses, and their coloring varies depending on the season. They are generally reddish-brown in color during the summer, becoming yellowish-brown in the winter months.
New Conservation Plan Will Protect Endangered Zebra Species
by John R. Platt
The governments of Kenya and Ethiopia agreed last week to develop a new action plan to help protect the endangered Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi), the rarest zebra species and the largest equid species on the planet. The previous five-year conservation strategy for the species expired last year.
Grevy’s zebra populations have declined from an estimated 15,000 in the 1970s to about 2,400 today. Most of the animals live in Kenya; about 140 live in Ethiopia. The species has disappeared from much of its previous range, including Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Sudan. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources calls the change “one of the most substantial reductions of range of any African mammal.”
As with so many other African species, poaching is a large reason for the reduction. Zebra hides can fetch big bucks, and both zebra fat and bone marrow have purported medicinal values in some traditional Kenyan medicine practices…
Zebras stampede over a hidden camera during the annual migration in Masai Mara, Kenya. Irish photographer Paul Mckenzie hid a camera inside a fake plastic rock during the annual migration in Kenya’s Masai Mara national reserve.