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Global species extinction isn't quite so dire, study finds
Scientists using a new method to calculate the rate of extinction say the crisis is being overestimated by as much as 160%.
Hit the snooze on that ecological doomsday clock for a minute: The world's species may not be going extinct quite as fast as we thought they were. Scientists may be overestimating the crisis by as much as 160%, according to a recent study.
The research was published online Wednesday in the journal Nature.
While stressing that the global extinction crisis is still indeed a crisis, the study's two authors called for a better mathematical model to predict how fast the world's diversity is disappearing.
The massive loss of species occurring today may constitute the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth. It is caused in large part by habitat destruction, which can be blamed on human encroachment. The rate of biodiversity loss, however, is difficult to estimate, said study coauthor Stephen Hubbell, an ecologist at UCLA.
One of the models that scientists use reverses what's called the species-area relationship: This starts with the number of species in a certain area and then
Zion Wildlife keeper should not have been exposed to killer tiger
The big cat that killed a Zion Wildlife Gardens keeper should have been locked away before the man entered the enclosure.
Dalu Mncube was killed in May 2009 while cleaning the cage of Abu, a rare white tiger. Details of the Department of Labour's case against Zion Wildlife Gardens and its subsidiary, Zion Wildlife Services, were released to the Northern Advocate on request this week.
They include statements that:
- Zion's operations manual did not meet national rules requiring adult big cats to be secured before people entered their enclosures.
- Zion staff regularly breached that rule.
- A tour group witnessed the mauling before a Zion employee realised and ushered
Craig Busch And Zion Wildlife Garden
'Gas-less' kangaroo secret sniffed out
Scientists have gone some way to explaining why kangaroos produce much less methane in their burps, flatus and manure than farm animals such as cows.
They identified a bacterium in the gut of the Tammar wallaby - a member of the kangaroo family - that processes their food without making methane.
Farm animals are a major source of methane, an important greenhouse gas.
Writing in the journal Science, they suggest the work could show how to cut greenhouse emissions from livestock.
The Tammar wallaby is a fairly small member of the family, found in pockets of Western Australia and on some islands off the coast, and has long
Threatened green snakes released in county preserve
It’s emerald green, about as wide around as a pencil and it’s in trouble.
On Thursday, in an effort to boost the population of the endangered smooth green snake, six of the little serpents raised at Lincoln Park Zoo were released at Old School Forest Preserve near Libertyville.
According to officials with the Lake County Forest Preserve District, the release was part of a conservation effort with the zoo that aims to boost the snakes’ population through scientific study, breeding, monitoring and reintroduction efforts.
The effort began last summer with Lake County officials reportedly finding a small number of adult snakes and more than 80 eggs in an area slated for development. The eggs were taken to the zoo for incubation, and 83 of them hatched.
The snake, which lives on insects and likes to slither through long green grass, has been declining in numbers in recent years, said Joanne Earnhardt, a population biologist at the zoo.
Half of the snakes brought to Old School this week were given a “hard release” directly into the wild, while the other half had a “soft release” into enclosures within the preserve. Officials report the enclosed snakes will “spend some time getting accustomed
4th of July at the Smithsonian's National Zoo
Los Angeles Zoo Welcomes Gander
This city's favorite gander gave up walks in the park for a small stable and a roommate named Odie the Donkey.
In a ceremony Thursday, the Los Angeles Zoo unveiled the new home of Mario, a gander who gained fame for befriending people in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Echo Park.
Mario was greeted by zoo guests and feted by local politicians as he strutted around his pen, nipping at Odie and nibbling lettuce from the hand of Dominic Ehrler, a 65-year-old retiree he had befriended.
Mr. Ehrler and Mario were the subject of a Feb. 12 front-page article in The Wall Street Journal, which helped focus attention on their unique relationship: Starting last year, Mario—then a goose who lived at an urban lake in a neighborhood park—accompanied Mr. Ehrler on a daily walk around the lake for more than nine months.
The article recounted how their relationship—and Mario's home—were threatened by a city plan to rehabilitate the lake, prompting city officials to move Mario to the zoo. At the time Mario was thought to be a goose, whom locals named Maria. Zoo
Zoo 'to create a generation of online conservationists'
A UK zoo has launched a website that it hopes will help bridge a growing divide between young people and conservation.
Chester Zoo's Act for Wildlife site hopes social media, video and blogs will increase gadget-obsessed youngsters' interest in wildlife.
It will allow users to find out more about the effort to save species, put questions to staff working around the globe and follow their fieldwork.
Organisers hope it will help establish a network of online conservationists.
The zoo commissioned a poll that showed that 66% of adults felt that 10-year-olds were more interested in technology than wildlife.
The survey of 2,094 adults, conducted by YouGov, also found that 94% of adults felt that biodiversity conservation was important, yet only 15% actively helped a cause.
"The survey is a somewhat depressing summary of the world today," said
Sacred Nesting Grounds of the Ibis
Nepal to 'fingerprint' tigers for conservation
To pinpoint the exact population of wild Bengal tigers and to combat poaching, Nepal will start "fingerprinting" its big cats from this fall, marking a switchover to hi-tech DNA profiling from the current tiger censuses conducted the old-fashioned way by using cameras and assessing pugmarks.
The two-year Nepal Tiger Genome Project, funded by the US Agency for International Development, will be conducted by Kathmandu-based Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal (CMDN) in collaboration with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech University and the University of Idaho.
According to Dibesh Karmacharya, CMDN international director as well as the project's principal investigator, from September-October, teams will fan out to the four national parks in Parsa, Bardiya, Chitwan and Kailali districts, the habitats of the bulk of Nepal's big cats, and other areas where
What's New At Taronga Zoo
Puffins on Parade (Fantastic Exhibit)
State forms panel to look into sea water aquarium
The plan to modernise the 60-year-old Taraporewala aquarium, the only one in Mumbai, into an oceanarium is finally inching ahead. A nine-member committee headed by the chief secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad, consisting of secretaries of the animal husbandry, urban development has been formed to see that the project is soon a reality.
According to a government resolution (GR) issued on June 30, 2011, the committee will need to revert to the government on the way ahead — whether to accept the bidder, Eden Inc Berhad, a Malaysian firm which was shortlisted in February 2010, or float a fresh tender.
Eden Inc Berhad operates the Underwater World at Langkawi.
The GR adds that while this is being done, the committee will need to consider issues such as additional floor space index to be given for construction, the issue of coastal regulation zone clearance and no-objection from the environment department, which the urban development department will need to ensure.
If the government decides to finalise the deal with the available bidder, then the plan will include exhibiting 150 species of fish from international waters, minimum 50
Polar Bear at Kincraig Wildlife Park 2
A short but interesting clip which demonstrates how many animals lose out in zoos where management have a crazy policy on only using 'natural' enrichment. This bear is definitely having fun with the simplest of unnatural enrichment. You know it makes sense.
Five white tiger cubs born in NE China
Five white tiger cubs were born on Friday at the Siberian Tiger Park in Harbin, the capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.
The white tiger quintuplets, one male and four females, are healthy and weigh about 1.2 to 1.4 kilograms each, Liu Dan, the park's chief specialist, said Saturday.
"Usually, white tigers will give birth to two to four cubs at one time. It is rare to see healthy quintuplets," Liu said.
The white tiger is a subspecies of the endangered Bengal tiger. It is estimated that between 200 and 300 white tigers live in captivity in China.
The Siberian Tiger Park, the largest Siberian tiger breeding and field training center in China, was founded in 1986. There are more than 1,000 Siberian tigers in the center at present.
What can you say? "The white tiger is a subspecies of the endangered Bengal tiger". Will the press or whoever ever get it right? I would be willing to bet that these animals have Siberian Tiger blood anyway. What collection could possibly need a thousand Siberian tigers? And why? Is there a studbook for them. Will any, ever be released into the wild?
White Tiger Breeding is Not Conservation
The Terrible Truth About Tiger Farms
Two More Bolivian Lion Prides To Be Released
The final 2 prides of African Lions rescued from Bolivian circuses will soon be roaming freely on 40 acres of rolling grasslands at The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS), as they are scheduled to be released on July 5, 2011.
One of the prides consisting of one male and two female Lions suffered from years of physical abuse and neglect in the circus. They had severe mouth problems requiring major dental work, which extended the length of their rehabilitation, and delaying their release.
The other pride that will be released includes three cubs that were only 7 weeks old when they were rescued, but had been separated with their mother from the other members of their pride so circus workers could steal them for photograph sessions with customers. "It is very rewarding to know these cubs will not have to endure years of hardship in the circus like their family members had, and will instead be able to roam freely in wild open spaces," said Executive Director Pat Craig. After months of being separated, the cubs and their mother were able to rejoin the pride, since the cubs had recently reached a suitable age and weight. The reunited pride of 7 will now be released into one of the Sanctuary's large acreage habitats where they can live together for the rest of their lives.
The Lions were rescued from eight different circuses throughout Bolivia after the government banned the use of animals in circus acts. Upon arrival in Colorado, the 25 big cats were temporarily housed in a state of the art 15,000 square foot biosphere-like building featuring natural amenities such as grass and trees while they went through the Sanctuary's rehabilitation process.
During their rehabilitation, four distinct prides were formed in order to allow the Lions to live in a more natural state. Two prides have already been rehabilitated and released into large acreage habitats, with the remaining two scheduled to be released in a matter of days. Craig says, "All of the Lions are doing remarkably well, and we are extremely excited
Ligers in Myrtle Beach
I would not normally give space to anything related to the so called 'The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species' (see above) but it was recently published and needs to be read to understand. How are people taken in by such propaganda?
"Contrary to popular belief, ligers are not a "man-made" creation. They are the result of a male lion and a female tiger that have been raised together and decide they like each other enough to breed."
So a Lion cub deliberately and cruelly removed from its mother is hand raised along with a Tiger cub which has been deliberately and cruelly removed from its mother. Then they are kept away from their natural kind so that they have no choice to mate with other than a species they would never naturally encounter in the wild. If such a Frankenstein monster is not a "man-made" creation then I don't know what is. No responsible zoo would do such a thing. This is the action of a Dysfunctional Zoo. What's more any zoo could create such a creature but they don't. Why? Because its not clever, it is irresponsible and because they can see the bigger picture. There are zoos which do stoop to such low levels but they are all Dysfunctional Zoos.
Just What Is The Point Mr Antle?
Zoo director faces finance probe
The state forest department has ordered an inquiry into allegations of financial irregularities against Raju Das, the director of the Alipore zoo. Das will also be transferred.
“We have ordered an inquiry against the zoo director after receiving a number of complaints of financial irregularities against him,” forest minister Hiten Burman told Metro.
Das denied the charges. “I only used the power I enjoy as director. All steps were taken in accordance with the law,” he said.
According to sources, additional principal chief conservator of forests (finance) Abhijit Basu Roy Choudhury is in charge of the probe. He has been given time till July 15 to report his findings but the deadline may be extended.
The forest minister said Das’s transfer was only a matter of time. “It is difficult to carry out the inquiry while he is in
CZA panel examines Maharajbag's master plan
Decks for development of Maharajbagh Zoo have been cleared with the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) expert committee examining the master plan cleared by the Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth (PDKV).
CZA is a statutory body under the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) monitoring all the zoos in the country. BK Gupta, scientific and monitoring officer of CZA, said it received the master plan a week ago. "Our panel of experts is examining the plan which will be forwarded to
For orangutans, less food means lowered fertility
Ever-changing weather cycles have contributed to the declining population of orangutans, an animal which has a limited child-conceiving cycle, a scientist says.
Boston University biological anthropologist Cheryl Knott said that in the high fruit season, the great apes’ females are more likely to conceive than in the low season.
“Mast fruiting season has between two and seven year intervals due to El Nino weather. During the mast fruiting, up to 80 percent of trees bear fruit at the same time, affecting the diet of the orangutan,” she said during a seminar held in Eijkman Institute of Molecular Biology.
Knott, who has been observing the great apes for a decade at the Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Project in West Kalimantan, said during the high fruit season, orangutans eat various fruits available, with intake amounting to up to 11,000 calories per day.
The calories would be spent for traveling through the forest and for reproduction. During the low fruit season, the orangutans make due with whatever fruit is available and tree bark and leaves, resulting in far lower caloric intake of only around 2,000 calories per day.
Studies revealed that orangutans in the wild have a birth interval of between eight to nine years. There are currently around 35,000 orangutans in the world, but
Agony and Ivory
Another carcass has been found. On the Kuku Group Ranch, one of the sectors allotted to the once nomadic Maasai that surround Amboseli National Park, in southern Kenya. Amboseli is home to some 1,200 elephants who regularly wander into the group ranches, these being part of their original, natural habitat. More than 7,000 Maasai live in scattered fenced-in compounds called bomas with their extended families and their cattle on Kuku’s 280,000 acres. Traditionally, the Maasai coexisted with their wildlife. They rarely killed elephants, because they revered them and regarded them as almost human, as having souls like us. Neighboring tribespeople believe that elephants were once people who were turned into animals because of their vanity and given beautiful, flashy white tusks, which condemned them, in the strangely truthful logic of myth, to be forever hunted and killed in the name of human vanity. And Maasai believe when a young woman is getting married and her groom comes to get her from her village she musn’t look back or she will become an elephant. “But in the last few years, everything has changed,” a member of the tribe told me. “The need for money has changed the hearts of the Maasai.”
In 2008, post-election ethnic violence followed by the global recession halved tourism to Kenya, making the wildlife in the parks even harder to protect. Then, in 2009, one of the worst droughts in living memory hit much of the country. More than 400 elephants in Amboseli died. The Maasai lost many of their cows and are still struggling, while the price of ivory is higher than ever, so increasing numbers of them are risking the misfortune that killing an elephant could bring on their families, according to their traditional thinking, and are getting into poaching. There are brokers just across the Tanzania border who are paying cash—around $20 a pound—for raw ivory and selling it to the Chinese. Or perhaps there is a series of transactions, a series of middlemen, but ultimately what is not being picked up by the Kenya Wildlife Service’s sniffing dogs at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, in Nairobi, is making its way by all kinds of circuitous routes to China, where raw ivory is now fetching $700 or more a pound. Ninety percent of the passengers who are being arrested for possession of ivory at Jomo Kenyatta are Chinese nationals, and half the poaching in Kenya is happening within 20 miles of one of the five massive Chinese road-building projects in various stages of completion.
The Lonely Polar Bear
MY heart goes out to Gus, the famously neurotic polar bear in the Central Park Zoo, who used to swim endless laps around his pool. He’d dive to the bottom in a froth of bubbles, surge across and then surface like a bear obsessed. He’d backstroke to the other side, and with great paws splashing, dive down to the bottom and circle around again. Some wags called him the “bipolar bear,” but most zoo-goers sensed that he felt bored, pent-up, out of his element and depressed.
A high-profile animal psychologist, called in by zoo officials, began treating Gus in 1994 with toys, games, more challenging mealtimes and a better designed habitat. Soon Gus seemed like his old self again, lounging and playing with his longtime companion, Ida.
But when Ida died recently from liver disease at the age of 25, Gus grew listless, slouching around his habitat and swimming little, obviously confused and greatly disturbed by her disappearance.
In the wild, male polar bears tend to be loners, who wander long distances through sketchy weather and over shape-shifting ice, with drifting pack ice as home. They go with the floe. But for 24 years, Ida was a pal with whom Gus cavorted and related to in countless ursine ways.
Strangers when they met, they nonetheless had much in common, including sheer tonnage. Surrounded by jabbering monkeys (us), they alone fathomed one another right down to their inner seasons
MY HUSBAND AND OTHER ANIMALS — The venom milkers
It was Harry Miller, the Welsh journalist living in Madras, who introduced the snake-hunting Irula tribals to Rom. The latter was so impressed with their abilities that he moved from Bombay to Madras so he could work with them selling venomous snakes to the Haffkine Institute in Bombay.
Soon Rom figured that merely catching and sending snakes didn’t bring much income. He had wholly supported the shutting down of the unsustainable snake skin industry which now left many Irula with no livelihood. Something needed to be done quick and he was certain that selling snakes was not the way.
Rom conferred with his Irula buddies, “Sure Man” Natesan, “Eli Karadi” Rajamani, “Nak Bulti” Vellai, and Raman, and suggested that since he knew how the venom milking business worked, having been trained by none other than the famous Bill Haast, they could set it up themselves. While the others thought it was a good idea, Sure Man joked that in this son-besotted country, a snake temple with real live snakes would make more money than venom.
The Chief Conservator of Forests of Tamil Nadu felt the venom business was a good job opportunity for former poachers and suggested setting up a cooperative than a private company as the chances of getting the necessary permits from the government would be smoother. In 1978, a cooperative to be owned and operated by the Irula was formed with Rom as the Technical Advisor.
Rom then went to meet the state honchos at the Secretariat armed with a proposal for the Irula to catch a thousand snakes a year, keep them for four weeks for milking after which they would be released. Four years of protracted negotiation later, the Government of Tamil Nadu issued the order allowing the cooperative to capture, milk and release snakes but with twenty-five accompanying strictures.
The next big challenge was housing the numerous snakes. The Haffkine Institute used cumbersome, metal boxes with mesh roofs and the Miami Serpentarium used special plastic and fiberglass cases. Neither seemed practical for Madras conditions nor did the cooperative have much money to invest. Rom had seen the snake charmers of Bengal and Maharashtra hold their snakes in earthen pots and that became the ideal “low cost housing”.
In the 1970s, most of the Irula were immobile; if they had to get anywhere they walked. No bicycles or public transport for them. You couldn’t blame them, they were paranoid about being identified and
Blind Sumatran Orangutans Give birth to TWINS
'Gorewada international zoo project economically not feasible'
The much-talked about Gorewada international zoo project promises to be the signature of the region, however, the state finance department recently made it clear officially that the Rs 720 crore project is not economically feasible. This is in complete variance with the statement by guardian minister Shivajirao Moghe last week in Nagpur that the project would get Rs 200 crore every year from the state.
According to Mantralaya sources, in a recent letter issued to SK Khetarpal, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), Maharashtra, the finance department made it clear that state government will not share responsibility for the Rs 720 crore needed to implement the zoo project.
The department has said that the Rs 720 crore was the initial cost, and it must have escalated by now and hence the project is economically not viable. "The cost of the project must have gone up to Rs 1,000 crore by now," feels an architectural consultant who was earlier involved with the project.
Now, there is no hope of getting the Rs 200 crore demanded by the zoo in 2011-12. "It will also not be possible to give the said amount in 2012-13," the finance department officials have said.
The finance department feels that the high-profile project will put a burden on the state exchequer even as its financial feasibility has not been established. Besides, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) approval is also not in place for the project. "The projection of 15 lakh visitors, each approximately paying a gate fee of Rs 1,000 seems to be farfetched," sources to
As I was walking through a zoo recently, a very little boy up ahead stopped and picked a leaf up off the ground. "Look!," he ordered his family, "A koala has been here. This is where he dropped the Uu-ka-lypa leaf he was eating." There were no koala exhibits within a thousand miles of this leaf. And of course, no eucalyptus trees either.
July's links at http://www.zooplantman.com/ (NEWS/Botanical News) are for him… although he already "gets it:"
· Yes, koalas eat eucalyptus leaves. But just any leaf from any tree? Apparently not. And in that fact may be found a new approach to conservation.
· Monarch butterfly caterpillars receive not only re-usable toxins from their milkweed host plants. They may receive chemical protection from parasites as well. That was why their mothers laid eggs on that particular milkweed plant: to medicate squirmy junior.
· Researchers in Thailand have documented three orchid species that are semi-parasites, making no chlorophyll or food of their own.
· The iconic Joshua Tree may live for centuries, as do many in Joshua Tree National Park. But can they survive climate change? And if they can, will their moth pollinators also survive? Joshua Tree National Park without the Joshua Tree?
· That some plants are carnivorous is both cool and creepy. But what about plants that take the occasional bug, yet aren't carnivorous? One scientist looks into a possible sometime carnivore.
Forgetting botany for a moment, here's a brilliant workshop on resource sustainability (in this case fisheries) recently presented to local fisherman in Java. The teaching approach would work as well with school children or zoo or aquarium visitors: http://www.rareconservation.org/blog/2011/06/29/using-games-and-candy-to-explain-overfishing-and-the-success-of-mpas-to-fishermen/
Please share these stories with associates, staff, docents and -- most importantly -- visitors! Follow on Twitter: http://twitter.com/PlantWorldNews -- a new story every day!
Zoo raid was lawful
THE Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) had the right to raid Saleng Zoo without a warrant or court order under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716).
State International Trade and Industry, Energy, Water, Communications and Environment committee chairman Tan Kok Hong explained that this was provided under Section 95 of the Act.
He said the zoo owner’s application to renew its licence on April 22 last year had been rejected by Perhilitan’s director-general based on Section 14(1) Grant of Licence and Section 12(3) Application for Licence under the Act.
“The owner’s appeal to the relevant ministry was also rejected and the department was ordered to take immediate action under Section 110(1) of the same Act,” he said in his winding-up speech at the Johor state assembly sitting here at Kota I
Lhinping sibling expected within 10 days
Chiang Mai Zoo has reported celebrity panda Lhinping's mother, Lin Hui, is likely to soon give birth a second time.
A veterinarian from Chulalongkorn University conducted an ultrasound scan, which showed the expansion of her uterus. This means she will probably give birth in about 10 days.
After being artificially inseminated on April 25th, Lin Hui has been lactating and tearing off strips of bamboo to build a home for her offspring. She has also exhibited behavioural and hormonal changes associated with pregnancy.
Lin Hui and a male panda, Chuang Chuang, are
Chiang Mai Zoo
Zero captivity breeding year for Western Tragopan
No breeding of Western Tragopan, an endangered pheasant, has been allowed this year at the Saharan breeding centre, as the birds, weakened by e-coli infection last year, are still to recover from the after effects, a wildlife warden said here.
"It's a zero breeding year because we are first concerned about the health of the in captivity," said AK Gulati, principal chief conservator wildlife. In all, 19 of these rare birds (ten males and nine females) are in captivity at the only breeding centre of its kind in the country under a programme supported by Central Zoo Authority (CZA).
"The infection detected in the birds last year affected their breeding and we decided to give the birds rest this season," said Gulati
Youppi, the one in 10 million orange lobster, avoids boiling pot
He munches on hand-fed shrimp every day, enjoys local celebrity status and will avoid the boiling finish that's coming for his darker-shelled tank mates.
A lucky orange lobster, who looks like he's already been cooked, has beaten massive odds to receive royal treatment at a Quebec supermarket.
The carrot-coloured crustacean is more than a rarity _ only one in roughly 10 million lobsters comes in that shade.
Despite multiple offers, the Trois-Rivieres store has refused to sell Youppi, who's named after the fuzzy orange mascot of the Montreal Expos who now roots for the Canadiens.
The supermarket is trying to find him a permanent home on display in an aquarium, where he could educate the masses.
But until he moves, fishmongers at the IGA supermarket will continue to be his unlikely caretakers, a job they took on when he arrived unceremoniously during a routine delivery some three weeks ago.
Youppi immediately stood out among the greenish-red creatures creeping around the cage.
"I thought someone was playing a