27 October 2008

Step 1: Find them.

Wetar Ground Dove (Gallicolumba hoedtii), Endangered

The Wetar Ground Dove, a bird known from only a few specimens since the early 1900s, all of them outside its native island of Wetar. Now, it has been rediscovered on the island for which it was named, and in larger numbers than ever observed. Thirty to forty of the birds were seen together, the largest recorded congregation.

Wetar is a large island, and perhaps, according to scientists working on the island, "the single most pristine in South-East Asia". Unfortunately, the island is already facing significant pressure from development, as plans to extend an existing asphalt road will open up the interior of the steeply hilled island.

You can support Columbidae Conservation, who are working to protect the Wetar Island, for the Wetar Ground Dove and the other unique species and ecosystems that currently thrive there.

22 October 2008

Some Birds May Smell Sexier

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila), Critically Endangered

The Kakapo, featured here several times, might benefit from a little cologne it appears. Scientists working with the Kakapo breeding program, noticed that a few of the males received significantly more attention than others, and they think it may have to do with the birds' body odor. To find out, they're sending feathers to Tom Goodwin, an animal olfactory chemist in Arkansas.

Because the Kakapo's population dropped to a gene-pool-reducing 91 individuals, genetic diversity is very important to their survival. If most of the females are only breeding with a few males, the gene-pool could remain dangerously small. If a synthetic perfume that makes less attractive males seem sexier can be developed, their genes would also get remixed into the overall population, increasing the diversity of the gene-pool.

If you want to help save the Kakapo, you can donate, become more informed, or get hands on and volunteer with the Kakapo Recovery Programme.

19 October 2008

Hector's Dolphins Still Unprotected

Hector's Dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori), Endangered

A new study by researchers at New Zealand's Otago University has added to the mountain of evidence that Hector's Dolphins are being killed at a rate that will lead to their extinction . . . unless something changes. These dolphins, with their uniquely rounded dorsal fins, are declining due to commercial and recreational fishing using gill nets and other methods that entangle them as bycatch.

Hector's Dolphins have the most limited range of any cetacean, except the Vaquita. Living only around the coast of New Zealand's two islands, they are divided into two subspecies. The South Island Hector's Dolphins have been reduced to less than 7500 individuals, while the Critically Endangered North Island subspecies, also known as Maui's Dolphins, have been reduced to a mere 110 individuals.

The New Zealand government has restricted fishing in parts of the Dolphin's range, but complete protection has not been realized, partially because of resistance from the fishing industry.

If you want to help, you can petition the New Zealand Government to enact full protection, adopt a Hector's Dolphin through WWF New Zealand, or join a Facebook Cause dedicated to the Hector's and Maui's Dolphins.

08 October 2008

Fortune 500

Booroolong Frog (Litoria booroolongensis), Critically Endangered

Over a year ago, I wrote of the Booroolong Frog, a critically endangered species, confined to less than 10 square kilometers, and decimated by drought and forest fires.

Now, the species will receive a boost of 500 captive bred frogs, who are primed to breed. The 9 month old frogs are the offspring of 6 adults and 20 tadpoles that were taken into captivity two years ago. According to scientists involved with raising them, the males will mate in a brief breeding frenzy and die.

The species has declined because of habitat degradation and the chytrid fungus, which has affected amphibian species around the globe.

Donate to the Taronga Zoo, which is breeding Booroolong Frogs for release into the wild.

Or Donate to the Amphibian Ark, a movement working to save all frog species in decline.