17 December 2009

Collector's Item

Gooty Sapphire (Poecilotheria metallica), Critically Endangered

The first thing I learned about this tree dwelling tarantula, was that it has to be seen to be believed. When I saw a picture, I understood why. The rare beauty of this spider's color may be its salvation or its doom.

Native to a tiny, tiny, tiny, patch of India, this entire species occupies less than 100 km squared--and that's a generous estimate. Sounds big, but look at this map, and you'll see just how tiny it is.

With it's habitat being degraded as humans cut trees for timber and firewood, it's up for debate whether the smugglers who have spirited some of these spiders out of the country will ultimately help the spiders or cause their demise.

Coveted among spider and insect collectors and hobbyists for their colour, these spiders are being bred in captivity by specialist pet shops. A young Sapphire Gooty spiderling can fetch more than US$150. Although they are fairly rare right now, as hobbyists continue to breed them, they may become more common.

I don't generally support taking wild animals out of their native habitat for use as pets, but perhaps this time it might save them, or at least ensure that some remain if they can no longer survive in the wild.

What do you think? Is this biopiracy or conservation in disguise?

11 December 2009

Viva Vaquita

Vaquita (Phocoena sinus), Critically Endangered

A new taskforce has been formed to prevent the extinction of the Vaquita, the world's rarest marine mammal. Check out the Viva Vaquita website for more information.

Here's a recent article about the latest happenings in the world of the Vaquita.

10 December 2009

Vultures in Vain

Oriental White-backed Vulture (Gyps bengalensis), Critically Endangered
Indian Vulture (Gyps indicus), Critically Endangered
Slender-billed Vulture (Gyps tenuirostris), Critically Endangered

In the 1980s, millions of somewhat ugly but still majestic vultures congregated around the carcasses of dead and decaying animals throughout India, Nepal, and Southeast Asia, disposing of them in less than an hour. Today, with their population a mere 0.01% of its former size, carcasses of livestock sit for days or weeks, rotting in the sun.

What happened to the other 99.9%? Poisoned.

Diclofenac is a drug that was commonly used to treat inflammation and arthritis in livestock. When animals receiving the drug died, vultures would come to feast. A few days later, their kidneys would fail and death would follow shortly. Diclofenac is, as far as anyone can tell, the sole culprit for the decline of these useful birds.

Diclofenac has been banned for veterinary use in India, Nepal, and Pakistan since 2006, but is still available for human use--and some farmers still use it for their livestock.

Now, another drug commonly used to treat livestock, ketoprofen, has been shown to have similar effects to diclofenac. Ketoprofen is not used as widely, but it's becoming more popular. Although it's not as toxic as diclofenac, studies and modeling have shown that even with very small numbers of poisoned carcasses, massive declines in vulture populations would occur.

Conservation organizations, including the Bombay Natural History Society, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and Birdlife International, are advocating the use of meloxicam. Though this drug is more expensive, it is the only drug known to be safe for vultures. Other drugs exist, but their effect on vultures is unknown.

Captive breeding centers for Vultures have been established, as well as Vulture restaurants, where undrugged carcasses are left out for the birds. There have been some successes with captive breeding, but the birds will probably not be released until harmful drugs are no longer a threat.

02 December 2009

Endangered Eating: The End of Tuna

Atlantic and Southern Bluefin Tuna, (Thunnus thynnus and maccoyii), Critically Endangered

So much has been written about the plight of Bluefin Tuna that I feel it's pointless to add another article to the mix. However, if you aren't aware of what's happening to our Tuna, you should read one or two of the articles below. Our fish are being used up at a ridiculously unsustainable rate. If you can't be bothered to read any of the articles, the main gist is this--stop eating Bluefin Tuna for a while, or in a few years, there won't be any left.

Check out Tuna can stay on the menu... for now, to get an idea of which Tuna species are sustainably harvested if you're a Tuna lover, or become a sustainable seafood consumer.


Tuna can stay on the menu... for now

Tagging the tigers of the sea

Are lower catch limits enough to save the bluefin tuna from extinction?

ICCAT fails to protect critically endangered tuna—again

Atlantic bluefin trade ban now vital as tuna commission fails to take action again

Mediterranean bluefin catches continue to mock quotas and science

Top French chefs take bluefin tuna off the menu

Don't Order the Tuna -- Endangered Fish Served as Sushi

Monaco seeks global bluefin tuna trade ban

Bluefin quota to cost Australian fisheries millions

Southern Bluefin Tuna crashing toward extinction to feed sushi & sushimi market

29 November 2009

Latest Statistics

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has recently issued an updated version of its well-known IUCN Redlist, the most comprehensive and authoritative measure of the endangered-ness of species around the world. According to the latest information, 17,291 species are threatened with extinction out of a total of 47,677 assessed species. "The scientific evidence of a serious extinction crisis is mounting,” according to Jane Smart, Director of IUCN’s Biodiversity Conservation Group.

Below are some graphs, illustrating the most recent statistics. Red areas represent species that are threatened. One thing to keep in mind while looking at these charts--these graphics represent only species that are assessed by the IUCN. So, although just about all of the known mammal, amphibian, and bird species have been described and assessed, only small percentages of the world's known plants, invertebrates, fish, and reptiles, have been assessed. Which of course means that there are a lot of species out there whose status is unknown. They may be threatened or not--we just don't know. If you're interested in more details, check out the Summary Statistics published by the IUCN.

22 October 2009

More Than We Thought

Gurney's Pitta (Pitta gurneyi), Endangered

Some good news, from BirdLife International.
"A recent paper published online in BirdLife's journal Bird Conservation International, provides strong evidence that the global population of Gurney's Pitta . . . once believed to be one of the rarest birds in the world, is much greater than was previously estimated."

04 October 2009

Back to Canada!

Black-footed Ferret (Mustela Nigripes), Endangered

The Black-footed Ferret is being reintroduced to Canada! Thirty-four endangered ferrets were released into Saskatchewan's Grassland National Park on Friday. They were released near a colony of Black-tailed Prairie Dogs, their main prey, as well as their architects, since the Ferrets live in abandoned Prairie Dog burrows.

All of the Ferrets released had a few things in common. They all were born in captivity, and therefore had to spend some time in a special facility in Colorado, where they learned which predators to fear, and how to hunt and survive in the wild. They also all have a small electronic chip implanted under their skin, which will help conservationists keep track of and study them.

For each of the next few years, 30-40 Black-footed Ferrets will be released into the park, with the eventual aim of having wild populations across North America. Conservationists warn, however, that time is still a long ways off. Although Black-footed Ferrets have been reintroduced to 19 sites across North America, only three of these are self-sustaining. The rest require new captive-bred ferrets each year to maintain their populations.

The only ferret native to North America, it looks like a cross between a raccoon and a weasel, with distinctive dark markings across its face and feet. It disappeared from north of the 49th Parallel around 1937 and was thought to have gone extinct across its range throughout Mexico and the United States sometime in the 1970s. Then came 1981, and a tiny population of 18 Black-footed ferrets was discovered in Wyoming. They were trapped, and taken into captivity, effectively making the species extinct in the wild.

With those original 18 animals though, a successful captive breeding program was begun, and Black-footed Ferrets have been reintroduced to the prairies of the United States and Mexico since 1991. The current wild population stands at around 750, with 250 more still in captivity.

The reason for the Black-footed Ferrets decline in the 20th century was tied to its main source of food--Prairie Dogs. As farmers and ranchers cultivated the land, they tended to see the Prairie Dogs as pests and a hindrance to agriculture. This view led to widespread poisoning and trapping, and huge reductions in population size, which were exacerbated by outbreaks of sylvatic plague. They continue to be threatened by the extreme fragmentation of their primary habitat, which has been occupied by humans for food production and living space.

You can learn more at the Black-footed Ferret Recovery Program.

Or you can adopt one. As the adoption website notes: This is a sponsorship program. You will NOT receive a black-footed ferret.

See if there's a zoo near you that has Black-footed Ferrets on display.

03 October 2009

Farewell, Tiny Friends

Christmas Island Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus murrayi), Critically Endangered

Sometimes, saying goodbye is hard. It's not hard to say goodbye to your friend, when you're leaving the coffee shop, because you know you'll see each other tomorrow. It's a different story though, when you're saying goodbye to your friend, because they're getting on a plane to Peru and you don't know if you'll ever see them again.

That's kind of how I feel right now about the Christmas Island Pipistrelle. This tiny bat, weighing about the same as three paperclips, has been saying farewell for the past 14 years. For more than a decade, the CI Pipistrelle has declined at least 10% percent every year. Now, in 2009, the total number of CI Pipistrelles likely stands at less than twenty.

Without a last minute miracle, this bat is headed straight for extinction. In fact, it may already be extinct. With the hope of starting a captive breeding program, eight scientists have spent an entire month in an unsuccessful last ditch effort to trap any surviving bats.

The reasons for the relatively rapid decline of this bat are unclear. Most scientists involved seem to believe that it's demise is linked to one of the numerous non-native species introduced to Christmas Island--the small Australian island which is the sole habitat of the CI Pipistrelle. Whether it was the Common Wolf Snake, the Black Rat, the Yellow Crazy Ant, or some other species that resulted in its decline, the point is now almost moot.

Although there is a small chance that scientists may succeed in trapping a few bats to start a breeding program, as long as the non-native species remain, the Christmas Island Pipistrelle will not be living happily on Christmas Island.

And so, to the CI Pipistrelle, I bid a very sad farewell. I hope this isn't goodbye forever.

27 September 2009

Call of Life

The Species Alliance has created a documentary exploring the mass extinction currently taking place. You can watch a 10 minute preview on their site, and I'll be keeping an eye out for the full version.

From the Species Alliance Website:

CALL OF LIFE is a documentary film that explores the mass extinction, its six main causes, the cultural myths and values that drive it, the psychology that underpins it, and the latest insights into natural systems that could help us turn back the tide. The mass extinction is the cumulative result of many causes, all of which are related to human activity. In interviews with eminent scientists and field biologists, we present the facts and evidence of the shocking decline as we consider the six primary drivers of extinction.

In interviews with leading psychologists, historians and anthropologists we examine the inextricable links between the extinction crisis and our social and economic problems, and explore the ways in which culture and psychology have conspired to determine our collective and individual response to this situation.

The film bridges disciplines to weave science, psychology, and cultural history into a clear and accessible story of our changing world. The audience is taken into the depths of the human psyche, through the toughest problems of our times and into the cutting edge of what nature has to teach us. The mass extinction is possibly the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced, and it is those of us alive today who have been given the responsibility - and great opportunity - of stopping it.

20 September 2009


Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), Critically Endangered

100000 - The number of Black Rhinos alive in 1960
65000 - The number of Black Rhinos alive in 1973
14000 - The number of Black Rhinos alive in 1980
2300 - The number of Black Rhinos alive in 1993
4240 - The number of Black Rhinos alive today
9 - The number of Black Rhinos alive in a secret location

Nine Black Rhinos have recently been airlifted to a secret location in an effort to increase the range and numbers of these critically endangered African mammals. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), in partnership with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW), selected individuals from different areas and parks to help establish the new population.

The final destination of the nine founders is being kept a secret because of illegal poaching--the main factor in the rhinos' steep decline since the 1960s. Rhino horn is used illegally in traditional Asian medicine, as well as being highly coveted for ornamental use.

In Yemen, rhino horns are used for the handles of curved daggers called jambiyas, which are given to young men as symbols of manhood and religious devotion. Not all jambiyas use rhino horn--only the most prized and expensive.

The use of Rhino horn in traditional Asian medicine, however, is by far the greater threat. Rhino horn is used to treat a variety of ailments, including fever, rheumatism, and gout. The horn is usually shaved or ground into a powder and dissolved in boiling water. As more and more Chinese people accumulate wealth and the ability to pay for expensive treatments, the market for poached Rhino horn will only grow.

Sign a petition to stop illegal Rhino horn trade.

Learn more from Save the Rhinos, The International Rhino Foundation, or Saving Rhinos.

09 September 2009

Alien Feeding Frenzy

Giant Ditch Frog aka Mountain Chicken (Leptodactylus fallax), Critically Endangered

In my last post, I wrote about the Mountain Chicken, it's plight, and the work being done by conservationists to set-up a captive breeding programme. These scientists have captured on film a weird and wonderful scene of the breeding habits of this rare frog. It is definitely worth watching.

Female frogs dig a hole and fill it with foam, lay their eggs, and once they've hatched, deposit unfertilized eggs to feed the developing tadpoles. What wasn't known before was just how eager the tadpoles are to get at the eggs. Instead of waiting for the eggs to drop to the bottom of the nest, the younglings swarm their mothers body in a frenzied competition for food.

To stay up to date on the progress of the conservation team, follow along at the dodo blog.

Why is a frog called a chicken? Find out here.

21 April 2009

Get Us Out of Here!

Giant Ditch Frog (Leptodactylus fallax), Critically Endangered

The Giant Ditch Frog, also known as the Mountain Chicken by locals due to its size and the taste of its flesh, is confined to two small islands in the Carribbean: Montserrat and Dominica. Although it used to inhabit several other nearby islands, it's total current range on the two islands is less than 50 km squared.

What caused it's decline? Environmental factors such as hurricanes and volcanoes may have played a part, as well as over-harvesting for food, with an estimated annual take of 8,000-36,000 (the government imposed a hunting ban on this former national dish, when populations started to decline).

Adding to the dilemma of this critically endangered amphibian is the world wide chytrid fungus crisis, a disease that is decimating frog populations around the globe. Although the island of Dominica has been infected since 2002, the island of Montserrat managed to remain disease free--until recently. In late 2008 or early 2009 the fungus made the jump to Montserrat and is currently decimating the Giant Ditch Frog population there, killing hundreds in just the past few weeks.

Fortunately, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have stepped in to help save this rare animal. Going into an area of healthy frogs where the disease had not yet reached, conservationists have successfully removed 50 individuals and airlifted them to Europe for use in a captive breeding program. Twelve of the Frogs will go to the ZSL, 12 to Durrell Wildlife, and the remaining 26 will go to Parken Zoo in Stockholm. The frogs will be kept in special biosecure housings to prevent infection by the chytrid fungus.

The goal is to breed the frogs and reintroduce individuals to disease-free areas of Montserrat within two years. Although the frogs have been bred in captivity before, it is a difficult process, as they have huge appetites and have unusual breeding habits for frogs. After digging a hole in the ground and filling it with foam, the female deposits 15-50 tiny eggs. The eggs hatch and develop into tadpoles, all in this isolated foam nest. For food, the mother deposits unfertilized eggs every few days for the young to feed on.

Although the captive breeding program promises hope for the Giant Ditch Frog, more needs to be done. Durrell Wildlife is currently raising funds to build an additional bio-secure facility to house these endangered frogs. For as little as 10 pounds (15 USD, 18 CAD), you can support the care of a Giant Ditch Frog. Donate or shop online or call Natalie Ranise on 01534 860013 (UK).

09 April 2009

Population Explosion, Kind Of

Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), Vulnerable

In early April, the Wildlife Conservation Society announced that a population of close to 6000 Irawaddy Dolphins has been discovered in Bangladesh. Before the discovery of the populations in Bangladesh, only a few small pockets of dolphins were known, most numbering less than 150. In short, the dolphins from Bangladesh have increased the known population more than six times.

Brian Smith, who led the study, expressed optimism for the future of the Irrawaddy Dolphin, but cautioned that the many threats still exist, including entanglement in fishing nets, declining freshwater supplies, and climate change.

The Wildlife Conservation Society is working with Bangladeshi officials to create a sanctuary for the dolphins in the mangrove forests where they live.

Keep your fingers crossed if you want to help the Irrawaddy Dolphin. Or you can take action and send an email to your Congressperson (if you live in the US), or support the WCS in their mission of Saving Wildlife.

Thanks to Colie for sharing the news.

02 March 2009

Pass the Olives Please

Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), Vulnerable

Thousands of dead Olive Ridley Turtles wash up on the east coast of India every year, victims of shrimp trawlers, and fishing vessels using long-lines, and purse-seine and gill nets. Classified as Vulnerable (or in other terms, Nearly Endangered) by the IUCN, these turtles are also facing habitat degradation, over-harvesting of eggs and adults, and the impacts of global warming.

Many, though not all, Olive Ridleys nest in what are known as arribadas. An arribada (the Spanish word for arrival), is a mass breeding event, in which thousands of turtles leave the ocean at the same time to breed and lay eggs in sandy nests. One of the largest arribada sites is located near the mouth of the Dhamra River on the East coast of India, in the province of Orissa.

Currently, the construction of a port is in the works, very near the site of the arribada. The company carrying out the construction is a joint venture between Tata Steel and Larsen and Toubro Ltd., two Indian companies. Set to open in 2010, the port has met resistance from environmental groups concerned about the impacts of shipping traffic and the port construction on the turtles breeding grounds.

Check out a map of the proposed port site and the turtle breeding grounds here.

Although the joint company has conducted an Enviroment Impact Analysis, allegations have been made that it is inadequate and does not take into account all relevant factors. Though the company has partnered with the IUCN to "minimize and mitigate the impacts" of the development, many believe the most effective solution for the protection of the turtles is the relocation of the proposed port.

One of the biggest concerns is an increase in artificial lighting. Both nesting females and newly hatched turtles use light as a cue--the ocean is naturally brighter than land. Artificial lighting disorients many turtles, causing them to head inland rather than towards the sea. The increased industrialization that will undoubtedly occur in the area is another concern, bringing higher levels of pollution, disrupting the local marine ecosystem.

Check out the Wild Foundation, working to prevent the construction of the port.

Write a letter protesting the construction of the port.

Read about the companies environmental policies, and their defense of the port.

27 January 2009

Mushrooms for Breakfast, Mushrooms for Lunch, Mushrooms for . . .

Gilbert's Potoroo (Potorous gilbertii), Critically Endangered

Gilbert's Potoroo, named for the English naturalist John Gilbert, is perhaps the most endangered marsupial in Australia. Known as the Ngil-gyte by local aboriginals, it is a small marsupial rat-kangaroo, with soft fur, bulging eyes, and a tail almost as long as its 30cm body. If you know what bandicoots and wallabies look like, a potoroo is somewhere in the middle. Fewer than 50 wild individuals are restricted to two tiny areas on the southern coast of Western Australia.

These shy nocturnal creatures are an oddity in the mammal world, in that they are fungivores. That is, 90% of their diet consists of truffles, the fruiting body of underground fungi. The spores of over 40 types of truffle have been found in their dung! The rest of their diet consists of small insects and small fleshy fruit.

It was first discovered around 1840 in southwest Australia, when John Gilbert wrote that large numbers were procured by aboriginals for food in the space of a few hours. By 1870, it was believed extinct. It wasn't until more than 120 years later, in 1994 that Gilbert's Potoroo was discovered, still alive in Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve. Since then, a captive breeding population has been established in the same area, and another wild population has been established on nearby Bald Island. Currently, plans are underway to establish a third wild population at Waychinicup National Park.

The establishment of these distinct populations is crucial to increasing Gilbert's Potoroo's chances of survival. Threatened by wildfire (they live in dense, highly flammable vegetation that has remained unburnt for 50 or more years), introduced predators (feral foxes and cats), and changes to their habitat, their tiny population is at constant risk of extinction by a single catastrophic event. That is, a single wildfire could wipe out the majority of the population.

Research continues to learn more about the needs of Gilbert's Potoroo, as well as to help conservationists increase the breeding success of the captive population.

If you live in Western Australia, you can volunteer with the Gilbert's Potoroo Action Group, dedicated to preventing the extinction of it's namesake.

Learn more about Gilbert's Potoroo at Western Australia's Department of Environment and Conservation website.

23 January 2009

Endangered Eating: Frog Legs

There's a great article by Corey Bradshaw, about the enormous number of frogs that are being consumed by humans around the world. With a low estimate of 180 million consumed annually, the upper limit may be far north of a billion.

With habitat loss, global warming, the chytrid crisis and all the other threats facing amphibians and frogs in particular, here's one more thing that's contributing to their decline.

I really encourage you to check out the original article.

Antelope or Sheep?

Saiga Antelope (Saiga tatarica), Critically Endangered

Saiga antelope have an extremely distinctive appearance with an enlarged nose that hangs down over the mouth like a mini-elephant trunk. Mature males have almost vertical orange-ish translucent horns that are ringed at the bottom. Despite their common name they are thought to be intermediates between antelope and sheep. Their coats are sparse and cinnamon-buff in the summer but become white and around 70 percent thicker in winter.

Currently, there are three populations of the subspecies S. t. tatarica in Kazakhstan - the Ural, Ust'-Urt and Betpakdala, and one population in the Pre-Caspian region (a European population). Some herds from one of the populations within Kazakhstan migrate to Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan during the winter. Each of these populations is distinct and there is little intermingling of the populations.

Until the early 1960s there was also a population of Saiga tatarica in China. Two populations of the Mongolian saiga (S. t. mongolica) inhabit the northwest of Mongolia. Saiga within the former Soviet Union were the subject of concerted conservation programmes. The population at one point reached almost one million individuals.

Saigas typically inhabit open dry steppe and semi desert grasslands of Central Asia and Pre-Caspian region. They prefer open areas free from dense vegetation where they run quickly (up to 80 miles per hour) to avoid predators such as wolves and humans.

Management of the species has now broken down however and illegal poaching is rife. Saiga horns are highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine as cures for illnesses such as strokes. Only the males of the species bear horns and poaching thus produces a population where there are far more females than males. The average life span of saiga is only around three to four years and if females do not mate every year the species can rapidly decline. They are on the CITES list and hunting is banned throughout the Saiga's range.

Maps and more information on the Saiga at EDGE - here.

Saiga also usually have one or (more commonly) two offspring at a go. I find Saiga terribly cute - adult or babies... they are - aren't they?!

07 January 2009

Purple, but Ugly

Purple Frog (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis), Endangered

The first ever video footage of the Purple Frog is now available, thanks to EDGE (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered).

Those who know me well, know that my favourite colour is purple. But the colour of this frog isn't enough to make me call it beautiful. Or even anything short of hideously ugly. This is one creature that truly deserves its place over at Endangered Ugly Things. The BBC recently said that it "looks more like a squat, grumpy blob than a living creature.”

It was discovered in 2003. It spends most of it's time underground, where it eats termites, and only comes to the surface for a few weeks during the monsoon season, to breed. It belongs to the first new frog family to be discovered since 1926, is thought to belong to an ancient lineage of frogs, placing it at #4 on the list of EDGE Amphibians.

Total population is unknown, though it's thought to be rare, as only 135 individuals have ever been observed. Confined to a few small pockets in India, its minimal habitat is threatened, as forests are cleared to make way for plantations of cardamom, coffee, ginger, and other spices.

You can help by learning more about the Purple Frog, or supporting EDGE in its mission of protecting unique and endangered species.

06 January 2009

Eggs, Eggs, Eggs

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila), Critically Endangered

According to Radio New Zealand, this year could be a lucky one. With a population of less than 100, the critically endangered Kakapo has been slowly increasing due to dedicated conservation efforts. This breeding season, the Kakapo Recovery Programme is hoping for forty chicks.

Previously on this blog, the importance of rimu fruit to Kakapo breeding was discussed, and it appears that a bumper crop may be in the works. Additionally, there are more fertile adult females, than there have been in years. If these factors come together, the Kakapo population could increase by nearly 50 percent. With so many chicks, some would be raised by their parents, instead of hand-reared by humans, as they sometimes are when chicks are rare.

The breeding season has started less than a month ago, with the first mating of the season occurring on Christmas night. Chicks are expected in late February.

Keep up to date by following the Kakapo Ranger Diaries.

Donate, Volunteer, or Get Involved.

05 January 2009

Little Rhinos Offer a Little Hope

Javan Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus), Critically Endangered

The Javan Rhinoceros is believed to be the rarest large mammal in the world. With only 40-60 individuals still alive, scientists worry whether the population was large enough to recover. It once lived in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR. Today, it survives in two tiny isolated parks in Viet Nam and Indonesia. To really get an idea of its current and historic range, check out this excellent map from Wikipedia. Ujung Kulon National Park, on the western tip of Java has an estimated 50 individuals. Cat Tien National Park in Viet Nam has a mere 6 to 8, which may no longer be a viable population.

Some good news for these giants--scientists recently observed four young rhino calves and their parents in Ujung Kulon. According to the head of the park, the young rhinos were between 6 and 7 months and were in the company of their parents. This is a ray of light for the declining species and offers hope that they may be able to breed quickly enough to recover. Still they face difficult times, with the largest threat coming from poaching for traditional Chinese medicine. There are no Javan Rhinos in captivity to provide captive breeding or insurance populations.

How you can help:

Shop for rhino related products (t-shirts and such, not horns).

Join Crash! the Social Network for People who love Rhinos.

Donate to one of these Rhino Conservation organizations:

International Rhino Foundation, Save the Rhino

02 January 2009

National Geographic Article

The January 2009 issue of National Geographic has a great article about the Endangered Species Act, by Verlyn Klinkenborg, along with beautiful photographs of endangered species by Joel Sartore.

Check it out here.