Endangered Species

World’s most ‘irreplaceable’ protected areas identified

Publication: NBC News   Date: November 14, 2013   View Article

Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta range rises more than 18,000 feet from the Caribbean Sea — a height that makes them the tallest coastal mountains in the world. The national park that houses them is also the world’s most irreplaceable protected area for the conservation of threatened species, according to a new report.

The park rose to the top of the analysis based on the diversity of plants and animals found only there, including a critically endangered harlequin frog and more than 20 birds. It is one of 134 protected areas in 34 countries highlighted as “exceptionally irreplaceable” by the analysis of 173,000 protected areas.

Saving most of Earth’s plants may take just a bit of land

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 5, 2013   View Article

Nearly two thirds of the world’s plant species — and the creatures and critters that depend on them for survival — can be saved by protecting patches of land, from the cloud forests of South America to islands in the Caribbean, Asia and Africa, according to a new study.

The finding is based on analysis of data on the distribution of more than 110,000 plant species, and is an effort to determine if internationally agreed conservation targets of protecting 17 percent of the Earth’s land area and 60 percent of its plants by 2020 are achievable.

Wolves slated to lose protection under endangered species act

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 7, 2013   View Article

The gray wolf population has recovered to the point that it can be safely removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Friday in a proposal that environmental groups suggest is premature.

Under its proposed delisting plan, the wildlife service would return management of gray wolves to the states where they dwell. Federal protections for wolves have been in place since 1978.

In a second proposal, the service would maintain protections and expand recovery efforts for the Mexican gray wolf in the Southwest, where it remains endangered.

Aye aye! Sequence genomes to save species

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 25, 2013   View Article

A study of nocturnal lemurs in Madagascar known for their smarts, beaver-like teeth, and long, thin middle fingers may point to the future of endangered species conservation: cheap and fast genome analyses.

Researchers obtained and compared complete genomes from three separate populations of aye ayes and found that one is more distinct from the others than are humans of African and European descent, suggesting that the population warrants greater conservation attention.

Legal horn trade could save rhinos from cliff of extinction, experts argue

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 28, 2013   View Article

Surging demand for rhino horn to decorate daggers and treat everything from hangovers to cancer is driving the iconic animals to the brink of extinction. The only way to save them is to humanely harvest rhino horn and sell it legally, scientists argue in a controversial new paper.

Only 5,000 black rhinos and 20,000 white rhinos remain, mostly in South Africa and Namibia, the scientists note. The western black rhino was declared extinct in 2011.

The paper, published Thursday in the journal Science, is a bid to spark “serious discussions around establishing a legal trade” at an international conference on the trade in endangered species that starts Sunday in Bangkok, lead author Duan Biggs told NBC News.

Turtles, snakes and lizards head toward extinction

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 15, 2013   View Article

Nearly one fifth of all reptiles — turtles, snakes, lizards and crocodiles — are on a slippery slope toward extinction due to loss of habitat, overharvesting and other factors, a new report says.

The study is the first of its kind to summarize the global conservation status of reptiles. More than 1,500 species were selected at random from around the world for conservation assessments in an effort to gain a representative sample.

Polar bears are doomed without plans to save them, report says

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 6, 2013   View Article

Regularly flown-in loads of seal meat could feed hungry polar bears and prevent them from wandering into coastal villages in search of food when they are suddenly unable to find it elsewhere due to global warming, according to the world’s top polar bear scientists.

Currently, however, no such plan exists in any of the five nations with jurisdiction over the globally threatened species, the researchers warn in a new paper. And that’s a problem, given that just one exceptionally early breakup of sea ice could leave a large number of bears starving.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach