Endangered Species

The Ladybird Spider - status - rare

                                            

Why is it Endangered? The Ladybird Spider lives in lowland heathland (undeveloped wasteland), and over 90% of its habitat has been lost due to agriculture, commercial forestry and development.

Did You Know: The Ladybird Spider is so called because of its colouring. The males have bright red bodies which are covered in black spots, and they have black and white legs.

Conservation Efforts: This spider was on the brink of extinction in the 1980's but conservationists have been helping this spider by providing habitats further afield in order for it to survive. Surveys done recently show the spider to be doing well and expanding outside their original release areas.

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The Vaquita - status-critically endangered

 

                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                                            Photo by Paula Olson

 Why is it Endangered? The Vaquita is considered the most endangered of 129 surviving marine mammal species. Their decline in numbers is largely due to them becoming trapped in illegal gillnets. Estimates place its population as low as 85 in 2014, causing concerns for inbreeding which would in turn contribute to the species further decline. Other potential threats include pollution and also habitat alterations.

Did You Know: The Vaquita are mainly found in the northern end of the Gulf of California. The Vaquita is stocky and has a classic porpoise shape. The Vaquita is distinguishable by the dark rings around their eyes, patches on their lips, and a line that extends from their dorsal fins to their mouths. Female Vaquitas tend to grow slightly larger than males, resulting in females being around 140.6cm in length, compared with the males at 134.9cm in length.  They communicate through high pitched sounds as well as using these sounds to navigate through their habitats. Vaquitas are usually alone unless they have a calf, making them less sociable than other Dolphin species. Researchers are still trying to understand the life cycle of a Vaquita, such as age at sexual maturity, reproductive cycle, and population dynamics.

Conservation Efforts: These are mainly focused on fishing restrictions to prevent Vaquita bycatch. These restrictions could prove beneficial for all fish in the Upper Gulf and not just the Vaquita itself. On 16th April 2015, the President of Mexico announced a program to conserve and potect the Vaquita and the similar sized Totoaba, including a two year ban on gillnet fishing in the area, patrols by the Mexican Navy, and also financial support to fishermen impacted by this plan.

***** Info courtesy of Wikipedia

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The Tansy Beetle – status - endangered

 

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Arabian Sea Humpback Whale – status - endangered

Why is it endangered? The population of the endangered Arabian Sea Humpback Whale faces a grave danger of extinction due to having the smallest population in the world. It faces extinction as is is non-migratory. A three-day workshop that was recently held in Dubai discussed the issues surrounding this species. “The whale’s non-migratory nature presents a number of research and conservation challenges. Recordings of their songs (for which the species is famous) indicate that the whales breed along the coasts of Oman and possibly along the Pakistani and Indian coasts off the Rann of Kutch,” said Mohammed Moazzam Khan (represented WWF-Pakistan at the meeting). According to Mr Khan, the whale has been recently sighted a number of times in Pakistani waters along the Balochistan coast. But, unfortunately, there has also been a worrying number of stranding incidents of the species across the region. “These whales are greatly threatened by entanglement in gillnets, ship strikes, marine pollution and underwater noise from human activities,” he explained.

Did you know? This is the world's most isolated Whale population. In 2013, researchers used underwater microphones to capture the songs of the Arabian Sea Humpback Whale. Their song was found to be more simple than those of other Whale species. Speculation is that this is due to the Whales not migrating, therefore not being exposed to different songs.

Conservation Efforts: The three day workshop that was held in Dubai was held by the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Emirates Wildlife Society (EWS), and Wildflife Conservation Society (WCS) with funding support from the US Marine Mammal Commission. The gathering brought together researchers and conservation organisations in order to develop a research strategy for the conservation of this endangered species. The results of the meeting was that a collaborative research and conservation program needed to be put into place to collect further information on the Whales biology and ecology, and to work with different industries to reduce the threats these Whales are currently facing. It was also concluded that these joint efforts would assist other Whale Species in the region, including Blue Whales and Bryde's Whales.

Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2015

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Chatham Island Christmas Tree/Rautini – status - vulnerable

                                                                                                                                     

Rautini, sometimes referred to as the Chatham Island Christmas tree, is a large tree daisy that grows up to 8 m tall. Its leaves grows up to 12 cm long and are clad in downy hairs, giving the whole plant a silvery hue. The brilliant yellow flowers can be seen in summer, while seeds mature in autumn.

                       

Habitat

This spectacular tree daisy is found in forests, shrubland and drier swamps. It often occurs on streamsides or near ridge crests, typically on peat soils. Rautini can be seen in Pitt Island Scenic Reserve New Zealand.

Threats

Young plants are palatable to stock and considerable damage through browsing and trampling has been recorded. Possums may browse the foliage and flowers. Habitat destruction is also threatening the survival of this once widespread species.

Rautini is an opportunistic plant adapted for the rapid colonisation of sites disturbed by natural perturbations (gale damage, erosion events, floods, fires). It is now restricted on Chatham Island, but is still widespread on Pitt Island.

***** Information courtesy of Department of Conservation, New Zealand website.

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Aloe grows ukambensis - Status - Vunerable

Aloe grows ukambensis stemless or short stem-forming, individually or clumping in the rule, and then form small groups. The trunk is up to 30 inches long. The narrowed lanceolate leaves form dense rosettes . The green to brownish green leaf blade is 20 to 25 inches long and 8 to 9 inches wide. At the leaf surface numerous dull white, oblong spots are present, which are scattered or arranged more or less in broken transverse bands. The leaf underside is lighter and usually somewhat lined. Stains can be found there. The sharp teeth on the leaf margin are 3 to 5 millimeters in length and is 10 to 15 mm apart. The leaf juice is dry bright orange brown.


Range Description: Recorded from Ndi Hill, Mbinzau Hill and Katumba Hill in the Chyulu Hills area of south eastern Kenya.

Major Threats:- This is a desirable species to succulent collectors because of the dark red colour of the flowers and the leaves are striated. Rocks are also collected in these areas for building purposes which may have an impact on the habitat.


***** Information courtesy of wikipedia.org, www.iucnredlist.org

 

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Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras – status - Vulnerable

                                                                    

 Hartmann's mountain zebra resting, showing its characteristic essentially unbarred belly

Why is it Vulnerable? The main threats to the species are from loss of habitat to agriculture, hunting, and persecution. A zebra produces a good quantity of meat, and poaching them for food (due to hunger in the region caused by guerrilla wars) has helped decline their numbers. Cross breeding between the Cape Mountain Zebra and the Hartmann's Mountain Zebra has decreased their genetic diversity.

Did you know? Zebra stripes can either be black or dark brown. Mountain zebra's are found on mountain slopes, open grasslands, woodlands, and areas with sufficient vegetation. They live in hot, rocky, dry mountainous habitats. They prefer slopes and plateaus and can be found as high as 3,300ft (1000 metres) above sea level. They do migrate lower during the winter season. Their diet consists of tufted grass, bark, leaves, buds, fruit, and roots. They often dig for ground water. The Mountain Zebra's form small family groups consisting of a single stallion, several mares, and their recent offspring. Bachelor males live in separate groups and abduct young mares. They are often challenged by the stallion of that group. Mountain Zebra groups do not aggregate into large herds. Mares give birth to at least 1 foal. The foal feeds on its mothers milk for a year and then starts eating grass, tree leaves, etc. After 14–16 months, a male foal must leave the herd and form a new one. If the colt is too stubborn, it will stay and try a challenging fight with the stallion or lead mare.

Conservation Efforts: The species is listed as Vulnerable under the IUCN Red List . The Cape mountain zebra was hunted to near extinction with less than 100 individuals by the 1930s. In 1998 it was estimated that approximately 1,200 Cape mountain zebra survived, of which around 542 occurred in national parks, 491 in provincial nature reserves, and 165 in other reserves. However the population has increased to about over 2,700 in the wild due to conservation efforts. Both mountain zebra subspecies are currently protected in national parks but are still threatened. There is a European Zoo's Endangered Species Program for this zebra as well as co-operative management of zoo populations worldwide.

 

***** Information courtesy of Wikipedia)

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Sand Cats – status - near threatened

 

                                                                                             

Why are they Near Threatened? As with most of the small felids, their numbers in the wild are unknown. They may be naturally rare but their habitat is so remote that is somewhat insulated from human activities, at least in Africa. Threats include expansion of cultivation at the desert edges, and increased interaction with domestic dogs. Feral cats also increase competition for prey, and may cause disease transmission. They are also caught in traps set around human settlements for jackals and foxes. They are collected for the illegal pet trade in the Middle East, and wild specimens sunning themselves are shot for ‘sport’. Fortunately, Sand Cats are mainly nocturnal and sleep during the hours when people are active. Their small mammal prey base depends on adequate vegetation and may experience large fluctuations due to drought or declines due to desertification. One subspecies, the Pakistan Sand Cat, is listed as endangered in the wild, and none are held in captivity. Overall, Sand Cats are listed as Near Threatened (2008).

Did you know? Sand Cats are true desert dwellers, with numerous adaptations to an arid life and colouring that blends in with their environment. They are the only feline to occur exclusively in desert habitat. They have evolved a thick coat which insulates them from the alternating intense heat and cold of a desert environment. Sand Cats are prolific diggers. Digging is necessary to construct and improve burrows, and dig rodents out of the sand. Their claws do not fully retract and are not very sharp, as there is little opportunity to sharpen them in the desert and they are likely blunted by digging. When crossing open spaces they keep low, skulking on bent legs. The low set ears enable stalking among rocks with a minimum of exposure. Because the hot dry air of the desert absorbs sound, large ears are required to pick up the faint squeaks of their prey. They will drink water if it is available but can survive on the moisture received from their prey. Enemies include venomous snakes, jackals and large owls. Among Saharan nomads, Sand Cats have a reputation for being snake hunters, particularly of horned and sand vipers, which they stun with rapid blows to the head before dispatching with a neck bite. They also cover large kills with sand and return later to feed. Sand Cats are solitary animals with a very low population, and make use of a loud mating call, much like the barking of a small dog. The loud barking, combined with excellent hearing, enables these cats to find each other over great distances. Other vocalizations include mewling, growling, spitting, hissing, screaming and purring much as in domestic cats. Grooming and defence behaviour is also similar to domestic felines.

Conservation Efforts: Captive sand cats are highly sensitive to respiratory diseases and infection of the upper respiratory tract. This is the main cause of death in adults. The most common disease is infectious rhinotracheitis. With sand cats being very susceptible to respiratory infections, they have to be kept in very arid enclosures where humidity and temperature do not fluctuate. As of July 2009, the global captive population comprised 200 individuals in 45 institutions. As of May 2010, 29 sand cats were kept in 12 Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited institutions participating in the Species Survival Plan. In January 2010, the Al Ain Zoo announced the first success of an in vitro fertilisation and embryo transfer procedure on sand cats, resulting in the birth of two kittens at its facilities. In July 2012, four sand cat kittens were born at the Ramat Gan Zoo as part of the European Endangered Species Programme.

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extract courtesy of CARE 2- EXTINCT SPECIES

Mankind has the honor of quite possibly being the most destructive force to ever hit Mother Nature. With 150 to 200 species of life ceasing to exist every 24 hours, a mass extinction is looming, and biodiversity is in crisis.

Periods of extinction are nothing new in the planet’s history, but species extinction in the past 10 years is far greater than anything the world has experienced in the past 65 million years. Humankind’s unsustainable production and consumption are without a doubt the major contributing factor. For the first time since the disappearance of the dinosaurs, humans are driving both animal and plant species to extinction faster than new ones can evolve.

Although we can’t honor them all, here’s a glimpse at just some of the beautiful creatures that we’ve lost forever in the last decade:

West African Black Rhinoceros

                                                                                                                                               

Officially declared extinct in 2011, the majestic West African Black Rhino was a victim of rampant poaching. Hunted for its horn, which is believed by some in China and Yemen to possess aphrodisiacal qualities, conservationists searched for signs of its last remaining habitat in Cameroon in 2006, but were unable to find any traces. The West African Black Rhino was one of four subspecies of rhinoceros. The other three remaining subspecies are all critically endangered.

Caribbean Monk Seal

  Photo courtesy of New York Zoological Society

Even though nobody has sighted a Caribbean Monk Seal since 1952, it wasn’t until 2008 that this impressive creature was declared extinct. Hunted extensively for its blubber for use in oil lamps and machinery in the 1700s and 1800s, the Caribbean Monk Seal was an unaggressive and curious animal. Early habitat destruction and human hunting was likely to blame for their demise, as these once abundant seals were regarded as ‘competitors’ by fisherman.

Po’ouli / Black-faced Honeycreeper

                                                                                                                  

Native to Hawaii, the Po’ouli or Black-faced Honeycreeper was only discovered in the 1970s at which point they were already on the decline. Efforts were made to get the remaining birds to breed, but attempts were unsuccessful, and the last one of its kind died in 2004. Changes to Hawaii’s ecosystem caused by non-native species, along with habitat loss and disease, are the main reasons why we have lost this unique bird.

Holdridge’s Toad   

                                                                                                                                                                                    

Endemic to the tropical rainforests of Costa Rica, the Holdridge’s Toad was affirmed to be extinct in 2008. Last spotted in 1986, this fascinating creature’s decline and extinction has been attributed to the amphibious disease chytridiomycosis in collaboration with the effects of climate change.

Baiji Dolphin

 

With China’s industrialization and heavy use of the river for fishing, transportation and hydroelectricity in recent decades, the population of the Baiji Dolphin drastically declined. As the country developed economically, the Baiji Dolphin came up against more and more threats. In the 1970s and 1980s, half of all Baiji deaths were attributed to entanglement in fishing gear, and in 2006 they were declared ‘functionally’ extinct after a 2000 mile extensive expedition of their range that failed to record a single individual.

Madeiran Large White Butterfly

                                                                                                                                                        

Found in the breathtaking valleys of Portugal’s Madeira Islands, the Madeiran Large White butterfly became extinct in 2007. Pollution due to agricultural fertilizers and loss of habitat from new industrial development and construction are the primary causes for the disappearance of this beautiful butterfly. Its closest living relative is the Large White which is very common across Europe, Asia and Africa.

Alaotra Grebe

                                             

To this day only one photograph exists of the Alaotra Grebe in the wild, making it a very illusive animal indeed. Residing in Lake Alaotra in an isolated area of Madagascar, this small diving duck was declared extinct by scientists in 2010 after multiple thorough surveys carried out in the preceding decade failed to find any evidence of its existence. Predation by non-native carnivorous fish and habitat destruction are the most likely the cause of its extinction.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/gone-but-not-forgotten-species-weve-lost-in-the-last-10-years.html#ixzz2sTfolZnk

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TARSIERS - status - vulnerable to extinction

Tarsiers are small animals with enormous eyes; each eyeball is approximately 16 mm in diameter and is as large as its entire brain. The unique cranial anatomy of the tarsier results from the need to balance their large eyes and heavy head so they are able to wait silently for nutritious prey. Tarsiers have an incredibly strong auditory sense because their auditory cortex is very distinct. Tarsiers also have very long hind limbs, due mostly to the extremely elongated (tarsus)  bones of the feet, from which the animals get their name.

Their fingers are also elongated, with the third finger being about the same length as the upper arm. Most of the digits have nails, but the second and third toes of the hind feet bear claws instead, which are used for grooming. Tarsiers have very soft, velvety fur, which is generally buff, beige, or ochre in color. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Tarsiers are the only extant entirely carnivorous primates. They catch insects by jumping at them. They are also known to prey on birds, snakes, lizards, and bats.  

Ecological variation is responsible for differences in morphology and behavior in tarsiers because different species become adapted to local conditions based on the level of altitude.

Ecological variation is responsible for differences in morphology and behavior in tarsiers because different species become adapted to local conditions based on the level of altitude. For example, the colder climate at higher elevations can influence cranial morphology.

Gestation takes about six months, and tarsiers give birth to single offspring. Young tarsiers are born furred, and with open eyes, and are able to climb within a day of birth. They reach sexual maturity by the end of their second year. Sociality and mating system varies, with tarsiers from Sulawesi living in small family groups, while Philippine and western tarsiers are reported to sleep and forage alone.

Tarsiers tend to be extremely shy animals.

Tarsiers have never formed successful breeding colonies in captivity. This may be partly due to their special feeding requirements.

The conservation status of all tarsiers is vulnerable to extinction. Tarsiers are a conservation dependent species meaning that they need to have more and improved management of protected habitats or they will definitely become extinct in the future.

 

***** Info courtesy of Wikipedia

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GOLDEN MANTELLA FROG - status - critically endangered

The golden mantella (Mantella aurantiaca) is a small, terrestrial frog endemic to Madagascar.  The golden mantella is a uniformly yellow, orange, or red frog measuring 20–26 mm. The inner leg displays red flash marks. Brightly colored skin warns predators that the frog is poisonous. 

It is one of Madagascar's most threatened amphibian species due to its limited distribution in an area under tremendous anthropogenic pressure. It may also be threatened by over-collection for the pet trade. 

The golden mantella is highly seasonal in its behavior and remains largely inactive during the winter months of May–October. When the rains arrive and the temperature warms, frogs emerge from hiding and use small lentic wetlands for breeding. 

The golden mantella has a diet of small invertebrates. In the wild, this mainly consists of mites, ants, flies, and collembolans. The frogs derive their skin toxins from their diet.

The golden mantella is occasionally seen in the pet trade and kept in captivity by exotic animal collectors and zoological institutions. They are popular due to their diurnal activity and attractive coloration.

Scientists at Chester Zoo have implanted fluorescent silicone gel into the legs of frogs to better identify the more than 80 individual amphibians in their collection.  The frogs - Golden Mantellas - were not harmed by the implants. Amphibian experts  at the zoo will now monitor the frogs. If it's a success, they will be used to track the species in their native home of Madagascar.

 

***** Info courtesly of Wikipedia

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THE GOBI BEAR - status - very rare

The Gobi bear, Ursus arctos gobiensis is a subspecies of thebrown bear, that is found in the Gobi Desert ofMongolia. At present they are listed as "very rare", and may represent a threatened subspecies, as the small population of Gobi bears makes them vulnerable to outside threats. In recent population estimation based on genetic analysis, there are 22-31 individuals living in the Gobi desert (Report 2012, Gobi bear project team).

                                                                                                                     

The Gobi brown bear is sometimes classified as being of the same subspecies as the Tibetan Blue Bear ; this is based on morphological similarities, and the belief that the desert-dwelling Gobi bear represents a relict population of the blue bear. However, the Gobi bear is sometimes classified as its own subspecies, and closely resembles other Asian brown bears.

 

***** Info courtesy of Wikipedia

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THE CRESTED BLACK MACAQUE - status - critically endangered

The Celebes crested macaque, also known as the crested black macaque, Sulawesi crested macaque, or the black ape, is an Old World Monkey that lives in the northeast of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi (Celebes) as well as on smaller neighbouring islands.  It is  critically endangered.

                                                                                                                               

Its skin and hairless face is, with the exception of some white hair in the shoulder range, entirely jet black. The long muzzle with high cheeks and the long hair tuft, or crest, at the top side of the head are remarkable. The tail is only approximately 2 cm (1 in) of stub. With a total body length of 44 cm (17 in) to 60 cm (24 in) and a weight of 3.6 to 10.4 kg, it is one of the smaller macaque species. Its life expectancy is estimated at approximately 20 years

The crested black macaque is a diurnal rain forest dweller. This macaqueis primarily terrestrial, spending more than 60% of its day on the ground foraging for food and socializing, while sleeping and searching for food in the trees.

70% of its diet consists of fruits. It also consumes leaves, buds, seeds, fungus, birds and bird eggs, insects (such as caterpillars), and the occasional small lizard or frog.

It lives in groups of 5 to 25 animals. Smaller groups have only a single male, while larger groups have up to four males. The females, however, always outnumber the males by about 4:1. Since young males must leave their birth group upon maturity, they sometimes form bachelor groups before they look for a connection to an existing mixed group. Communication consists of various sounds and gestures; such as the presentation of the long eyeteeth while grimacing a clear threatening gesture.

                                                                     

Because it devastates crops and fields, the crested black macaque is hunted as a pest. It is also hunted to provide bushmeat. Clearing the rain forests further threatens its survival. Its situation on the small neighbouring islands of Sulawesi (such as Bacan) is somewhat better, since these have a low human population. The total population of the macaque on Sulawesi is estimated at 4,000-6,000, while a booming population of up to 100,000 monkeys is found on Bacan.

Since 2006, the Macaca Nigra Project studies the biology and promotes the conservation of this species. The project, a collaboration between the German Primate Centre and the Bogor Agriculture Institute, run by Antje Engelhardt, is located in the  Tangkoko Reserve, home of the biggest crested macaque population remaining in the species' original distribution range.

*****Info courtesy of Wikipedia

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BLACK COCKATOOS - status - endangered

The Short-billed Black Cockatoo is about 55 cm (21.5 in) long. It is mostly dark grey, with narrow light grey scalloping produced by narrow pale grey margins at the tips of dark feathers. It has a crest of short feathers on its head, with whitish patches of feathers that cover the ears. Its lateral tail feathers are white with black tips, and the central tail feathers all black. The irises are dark brown and the legs brown-grey. Its beak is shorter and broader than that of the closely related and similar Long Billed Black Cockatoo.

      

Adult males have a dark grey beak and pink eye-rings. Adult females have a bone coloured beak, grey eye-rings and ear patches that are paler than those of the males. Juveniles have a bone coloured beak, grey eye-rings, and less white in the tail feathers.

Mature Wandoo and Salmon Gum woodlands provide important breeding habitat for the Cockatoos.

The cockatoo feeds primarily on seeds of proteaceous plants such as Banksia, Hakea and Grevillea, and secondarily on seeds from myrtaceous plants such as Eucalyptus and Corymbia. Over fifty native plant species are commonly used for food, either as seed or flowers, and Invertebrates such as the larvae of wood-boring moths are also eaten. The cockatoos also feed on the seeds of Pinus spp. in the Gnangara pine plantations north of Perth.

Typically, birds sit in the crowns of trees cracking the seed pods or cones, but occasionally they forage for fallen seed on the ground.

The cockatoo is recognised as Endangered. The population size of Carnaby's Cockatoo fell by over 50% over 45 years, and up to a third of their traditional breeding grounds in the Wheatbelt region have been abandoned.

Major threats to the cockatoo include clearance of their feeding and nesting habitat, destruction of nesting hollows (e.g. during firewood collection), competition with other species for nest sites, and poaching.

                                                                                                                                                                                          

The Long-billed Black Cockatoo is about 56 cm (22 in) long. Its beak is longer and narrower than that of the closely related and similar Short-billed Black Cockatoo.

****Info courtesy of Wikipedia

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THE MARSICAN BROWN BEAR - status - highly threatened

The Marsican Brown Bear (Ursus arctos marsicanus), also known as the Apennine brown bear, is a highly threatened, unrecognized subspecies of the brown bear, with a range restricted to the Abruzzo National Park and possibly the Montagne del Morone in Italy. The population of the bears is estimated at 30 or 40.

                                                                                             

The male Marsican bears can weigh up to 200kg, with an upright height of 1.9 to 2 meters, while females are roughly 25% smaller. They are among the largest carnivores in Italy. The remaining population is under threat, particularly from the shift from local agriculture to development in Abruzzo, as well as poaching  and poisoning.

Marsican brown bears are usually very shy, and often only appear at night. Most of the bears are solitary and occupy their own territory, which can be up to 200 square kilometres (77 sq mi). The bears are sometimes known to enter residential areas in search for food, leading to some conflict with the local population. During the winter, they dig a burrow or stay in a cavity in a rock to hibernate, where, as with most species of bear, they exploit their large fat deposits (gained through eating a lot through the summer and autumn) to survive.

Up to 90% of their diet is made up of vegetation, particularly on roots, tubers, fruits, and berries. Such a diet contains few nutrients, meaning they must eat a lot to survive. However, Marsicans are omnivores, and will kill and eat small animals, or eat the carcasses of larger dead animals. They are seen by many people as a threat, particularly due to the idea that they kill livestock such as cattle; in reality, the bears avoid human contact wherever possible. However, this has led to many people killing the Marsican brown bears due to fear of attack.

The Marsican brown bears have no natural predators, which has led to a very low reproductive rate. The female usually gives birth to twins after a six month gestation period, and then looks after them for the next 3 years. The females can become extremely aggressive over this period and have been known to attack humans in order to protect their cubs. Females become sexually mature at approximately 3 years of age. Marsican brown bears have an average life span of around 35 years, while infant mortality remains around 50%.

As bleak as the bears' outlook may be, reports are that efforts are underway to help preserve the less than fifty remaining individuals:

A new conservation initiative, partly funded by the European Union, is due to run until 2014.  Efforts will include putting electric fences around beehives and vegetable gardens to deter the bears from foraging for food near to human populations.  Volunteers will plant fruit bearing trees which the bears are partial to, encouraging them to look for food in the hills rather than near to settlements.

***** Info courtesy of Wikipedia

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THE DWARF BEARCLAW POPPY - status - critically imperiled

Arctomecon humilis is a rare species of poppy called Bearclaw Poppy or Dwarf Bearclaw-poppy. It is endemic to Washington County, Utah, in the United States of America. It is a federally listed endangered species limited to barren, heavily gypsiferous soils in the immediate vicinity of St. George,Utah. Only a half-dozen populations are known, several of which are adjacent to or even within the urbanized area.

                                                                                                                                                                                

A. humilis is a taprooted perennial herb producing stout, waxy stems that grow 15 to 25 centimeters tall. Waxy blue-green leaves with rounded teeth are located around the base of the plant. Each scape-like stem has one or two ivory-white flowers that have orange-yellow stamens. The ovoid shaped fruits produce up to 30 or sometimes more, shiny black seeds.

                                                                                                                                                                   

It is pollinated by the rare solitary bee species Perdita meconis.

***** info courtesy of Wikipedia

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THE GOLF BALL CACTUS - status - critically endangered

Although not the most glamorous of plants, Mammillaria herrerae, commonly known as the Golf Ball cactus, is a critically endangered species clinging to survival in the high mountains of Queretaro south of Sierra Gorda in Mexico and found nowhere else on earth.

This small white cactus is endemic to just two small areas of  Queretaro.  Although these sought-after cactuses, which have startling pink flowers, are available through the horticultural trade, they are on the brink of disappearing from the wild.

     photo by Roberto Pedraza Ruiz

The species prefers high desert (between 1,900 and 2,300 metres above sea level), where they grow in thin soil on ultra steep slopes.

IUCN’s Red List records just 50 Mammillaria herrerae survive in the wild. The number may be nearer 400, but it is nonetheless a small population that is vulnerable to collecting.

World Land Trust’s mission is to purchase and protect land that is rich in biodiversity. By donating to the Trust’s Buy an Acre appeal you can help protect species that are on the brink of extinction.

***** Info courtesy of The World Land Trust

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THE SIAMANG - status - endangered

The siamang is a tailless, arboreal, black-furred gibbon native to the forests of Malaysia, Thailand, andSumatra. The largest of the lesser apes, the siamang can be twice the size of other gibbons.

The siamang is distinctive for two reasons. The first is that two digits on each foot are partially joined by a membrane. The second is the large gular sac (found in both males and females of the species), which is a throat pouch that can be inflated to the size of the siamang's head, allowing the animal to make loud, resonating calls or songs.

                                                                                                                                                                               

The siamang inhabits the forest remnants of Sumatra Island and the Malay Peninsula, and is widely distributed from lowland forest to montane forest—even a rainforest—and can be found at altitudes of up to 3800 m.  The siamang lives in groups of up to six individuals (four individuals on average) with an average home range of 23 hectares.

The siamang has long, dense, shaggy hair which is the darkest shade of all gibbons. The ape has long, gangling arms; bigger than their legs! The average length of a siamang is 90cm, but the largest they have ever grown is 1 meter 50 cm. The face of this large gibbon is mostly hairless apart from a thin moustache.

                                                                                        

The siamang eats mainly various parts of plants, and eats at least 160 species of plants, from vines to woody plants. Though it will eat a few animals, mostly insects.

A group of siamang normally consists of an adult dominant male, an adult dominant female, with offspring, infants and sometimes a subadult. The subadult usually leaves the group after attaining the age of six to eight years; subadult females tend to leave the group earlier than subadult males. Siamang gestation period is in between 6.2 and 7.9 months; after the infant is born, the mother takes care of the infant for the first year of its life.  

The siamang tends to rest for more than 50% of its waking period (from dawn to dusk), followed by feeding, moving, foraging and social activities. It takes more rest during midday, taking time to groom others or play. During resting time, it usually uses a branch of a large tree, lying on its back or stomach. Feeding behaviors, foraging, and moving are most often in the morning and after resting time. Grooming is one of the most important social interactions among family members.

The siamang, as an arboreal primate, absolutely depends on the forest for existence, so is facing a population decrease due to habitat loss, poaching and hunting. A major threat to the siamang is habitat loss due to plantation, forest fire, illegal logging, encroachment, and human development. They are poached and hunted for the illegal pet trade, mostly for infant siamangs.

Conservation

The siamang is known to occur in at least ten protected areas: Kerinci Seblat National Park, Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Gunung Leuser National Park, Way Kambas National Park and West Langkat Reserve in Indonesia, Fraser's Hill Reserve, Gunong Besout Forest Reserve, Krau Wildlife Reserve and Ulu Gombak Wildlife Reserve in Malaysia and the Hala Bala Wildlife Sanctuary in Thailand.

***** Info courtesy of Wikipedia

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THE BLACKBUCK - status - near threatened

The blackbuck is an antelope species native to the Indian Subcontinent  that has been classified as near threatened by ICUN since 2003, as the blackbuck range has decreased sharply during the 20th century.

Males and females have distinctive coloration. Male blackbucks are dark brown, black, and white and have long, twisted horns, while females are fawn-coloured with no horns.

                                                                     

Blackbucks generally live on open plains in herds of 15 to 20 animals with one dominant male. They are very fast. Speeds of more than 80 km/h (50 mph) have been recorded. Their chief predator was the now extinct Indian cheetah. They are now sometimes preyed upon by wolves and feral dogs.

The diet of the blackbuck consists mostly of grasses, although it will eat pods, flowers and fruits to supplement its diet. The maximum life span recorded is 16 years and the average is 12 years.

The main threats to the species are poaching, predation, habitat destruction, overgrazing, diseases, inbreeding and sanctuary visitors.

Large herds once roamed freely on the plains of North India, where they thrived best. During the 18th, 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries, blackbuck was the most hunted wild animal all over India.

Today, only small herds are seen, largely inside reserves. The chief cause of their decline is excessive hunting. The blackbuck is hunted for its flesh and its skin. Although Indian law strictly prohibits the hunting of these endangered animals, occasional incidents of poaching still occur.

Blackbucks are protected in several protected areas of India.

 

***** Info courtesy of Wikipedia

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ARABIAN HUMPBACK WHALE - status- Endangered

Arabian Sea humpbacks (Megaptera novaeangliae) are believed to have been isolated from other whale populations for around 60,000 years.

The humpback subpopulation has been filmed for BBC Two's Wild Arabia.

Arabian Sea humpback whales are genetically distinct and behave differently to other humpbacks. The subpopulation comprises the only humpbacks not to migrate, instead remaining in a part of the Northern Indian ocean, off the coast of Oman.

             

An isolated population of Arabian Sea humpback whales may be less sophisticated "singers" than humpbacks elsewhere. The whales' calls could be a simplified version of humpback song, scientists' preliminary findings suggest.

The research team's initial findings "[beg] the question as to whether the evolution of song in the Arabian Sea population did not progress to the apparently more complex song of other populations," said Robert Baldwin, scientist at the Environment Society of Oman's Whale and Dolphin Research Group. "What's fascinating about this is that it fits with the understanding we have about the isolation of these whales."

Researchers used hydrophones (underwater microphones) to record the whales' songs and compare them with recordings from other humpback populations, such as neighbouring whales in the Southern Indian Ocean.

They found that Arabian Sea humpbacks produced phrases, formed of sequences of notes, "which they then might be joining into regular and repeatable patterns", explained Mr Baldwin. "This would be like song, except that everywhere else in the world, song is composed of themes, which are repeated phrases."

Mr Baldwin and colleagues are uncertain as to why the whales' song may be more simple, but speculate that it could be a result of their isolation from other populations and their small numbers, meaning the whales could be exposed to less variation in song.

The team will analyse more recordings to verify the theory.

Humpback whales' singing has attracted scientific interest for years, but still little is known about its function.  It is thought only males perform the mysterious songs, and that all the males in a population vocalise the same song. These songs continually evolve over time, and differ between populations.

With only around 100 Arabian Sea humpback whales in existence, the subpopulation is listed as "Endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Through genetic analysis, Mr Baldwin and his team "discovered" the genetically distinct Arabian Sea humpback population in 2007, after several years of study. Previously, it had been assumed that whales near Oman had simply strayed from their usual waters.

***** Info From BBC Nature

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THE STRESEMANN'S BRISTLEFRONT - status- critically endangered

The Stresemann’s Bristlefront is endemic to Brazil. It’s natural habitat is subtropical or tropical lowland forests.

                                                                                                                                     Photo by  Ciro Albano        

The 8-inch long, medium-sized, long-tailed bird has distinctive, long, pointed forehead bristles and a slender dark bill. The female is cinnamon-brown above, with duskier tail and is a bright cinnamon-rufous below.

It is one of the world’s most threatened bird species due to habitat loss. There may be just 15 birds alive.

In January 2013 the first known nest of this - one of the world's rarest birds - has been discovered in Brazil. Of perhaps equal significance is that strong evidence of active nestlings was also found.

****Information courtesy of Wildlife Extra

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THE IRIOMOTE CAT - status - endangered

The Iriomote cat is indigenous to the Japanese island of Iriomote, which spans about 290 square kilometers. Iriomote consists predominantly of low mountains 300–460 meters with sub-tropical evergreen forest, including extensive belts of mangrove along the waterways. It is the smallest habitat of any wild cat species in the world. The cats are predominantly found in the subtropical forests that cover the island, no higher than 200 meters above sea level, and prefer areas near rivers, forest edges, and places with low humidity.

                                                                                                            

Male Iriomote cats grow to be 55–60 centimeters long and weigh 3.5–5 kilograms. Females are smaller at about 50-55 centimeters long and 3–3.5 kilograms. Their tails are thick from base to tip and are 23–24 centimeters long. They have long torsos and short, thick limbs. Their necks are also thick, and their shoulders are muscular, though their jumping power is comparatively weak. Unlike other small cats, their spines cannot bend sharply.

The fur of the Iriomote cat is mostly dark gray and light brown, with the hair on the stomach and insides of the limbs being lighter. Hair along the jaw is white. On each cheek are two dark brown spots. Like the leopard cat, there are 5–7 stripes that span from the forehead to the back of the head, but unlike the leopard cat the stripes stop before reaching the shoulders. Dark brown spots cover the sides of the body, and there are 3–4 bands of irregular stripes on the chest. The tails are dark brown; darker spots pattern the back side of the tail while the underside of the tail is solid. The tip of the tail is dark.

They are carnivorous and feed on mammals, fish, reptiles, birds and crustaceans

Iriomote cats are nocturnal and especially active during the twilight hours.  During the daytime, they sleep in the hollows of trees or in caves. Their ranges run from 1-7 square kilometers, and they mark their territory within their range by urinating and defecating on rocks, tree stumps, and bushes. They are land mammals, but they do climb trees, go into the water, and will even swim.   

Breeding

Iriomote cats are most active at night and during twilight, but during the mating season they will become active during the day as well. Moreover, outside of the mating season the cats will live in solitary, but when they begin breeding they will act together.  Between April and June pregnant female cats will give birth to 1–3 kittens in a tree hollow or cavern The locations chosen for birthing and rearing are dry and have good ventilation. Kittens stay with their mother for about eleven months, and they will begin to become more independent during the fall and winter months. They will stay in their mother's range from anywhere between a few months and years. Kittens reach maturity twenty months after birth.

Lifespan

It is estimated that Iriomote cats live for seven to eight years in the wild and eight to nine years in captivity. Because of human influences, though, traffic accidents and traps may lower their lifespan to two to five years. In captivity, an Iriomote cat lived for an estimated fifteen years and one month, the longest known lifespan of any Iriomote cat.

****Information courtesy of Wikipedia

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THE ATLANTIC BLUEFIN TUNA - status - endangered

Atlantic bluefin are native to both the western and eastern Atlantic Ocean, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. They have become extinct in the Black Sea. They are closely related to the Pacific and the Southern bluefin.

Atlantic bluefin tuna may exceed 450 kilograms (990 lb) in weight. Throughout recorded history, the Atlantic bluefin tuna has been highly prized as a food fish. Besides their commercial value as food, the great size, speed and power they display as apex predators has attracted the admiration of fishermen, writers and scientists.

The Atlantic bluefin tuna has been the foundation of one of the world’s most lucrative commercial fisheries. Medium-sized and large individuals are heavily targeted for the Japanese raw fish market, where all bluefin species are highly prized for sushi and sashimi.

This commercial importance has led to severe over fishing. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) affirmed in October 2009 that Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks have declined dramatically over the last 40 years, by 72% in the Eastern Atlantic, and by 82% in the Western Atlantic. On 16 October 2009, Monaco formally recommended Endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna for an Appendix I CITES listing and international trade ban. In early 2010, European official, led by the French ecology minister, increased pressure to ban the commercial fishing of bluefin tuna internationally. European Union nations, who are responsible for most bluefin tuna over fishing, later abstained from voting to protect the species from international trade.

Most Bluefin are captured commercially by professional fishermen using longlines, purse seines, assorted hook-and-line gear, heavy rod and reels, and harpoon. Recreationally, bluefin has been one of the most important big-game species sought by sports fishermen since the 1930s, particularly in the United States but also in Canada, Spain, France and Italy.

 

***** Information courtesy of Wikipedia.

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THE BECKSTEIN BAT - status - endangered

Bats belong to the order Chiroptera, which means 'hand-winged'. (The tiny bones that support the wing membranes are similar in structure to the bones in our own hands.) There are known to be around 900 species of bats in the world; however, only about fifteen of these occur in Britain.

                                                                                                                                  

The majority of Britain's bat species are either endangered or actually threatened by extinction. This threat is very real: the Mouse-eared Bat was declared extinct from Britain in 1991. Habitat loss and in some instances persecution born of human ignorance about the true nature of bats are major causes of the bat decline in Britain; farm and garden insecticides are almost certainly another key factor.

The Bechstein’s Bat is the most endangered bat in England and can only be found in the south west in deciduous woodlands. It is also the second rarest bat in England, after the Greater Mouse-eared Bat. It is believed that only a thousand Bechstein’s Bats exist in the country today.

The Bechstein’s Bat has a bare-skinned pinkish face and long black-brown ears which are broad and quite rounded. It has long fluffy-like fur that is a reddish brown colour on top and grey-white below. It is a slow and fluttery flier, although it can be quite a skilful hunter that can catch moths and other insects in mid-air.

The Bechstein’s Bat roosts and hibernates in tree holes throughout the year and not in buildings or cave-like dwellings like other species. This bat is very rare and you are highly unlikely to spot one, but if you do see a bat in winter it may well be a Bechstein’s Bat because it is the only bat that drifts in and out of hibernation. If you are fortunate enough to see this rare creature in the wild, please report it immediately to your local bat conservation group so you can help to protect it. In some instances persecution born of human ignorance about the true nature of bats are major causes of the bat decline in Britain; farm and garden insecticides are almost certainly another key factor.

****info from Wild Britain

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WESTERN LEOPARD TOAD - Status - endangered

The Western Leopard Toad is a species of toad in the Bufonidae family. The species is endemic to the areas of Cape Town and the eastern coastline of the South-western Cape, South Africa. Two macro-populations exist, broadly referred to as the Cape Town and Overberg clusters. Its natural foraging habitats is Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation, falling within several vegetation types including Cape Flats Sand Plain Fynbos and Cape Flats Dune Strandveld. The species is not restricted to pristine habitat as much of its historical feeding grounds currently fall under residential suburbs, hence leopard toads are often found living in suburban gardens.

                    

Breeding habitat includes swamps, freshwater lakes, intermittent freshwater lakes, freshwater marshes, intermittent freshwater marshes, urban riverine watercourses, natural ponds and garden ponds. It is threatened by habitat loss, as well as other urban obstacles and barriers such as walls, electric fencing, canals, roads. Introduced or exotic fauna and flora like ducks, fish and algae threaten the quality of breeding habitat and the breeding success of populations.

Cape Town is an expanding city with a population of close to 3 million people. There is thus an inherent integration of urban wildlife and humans in the city, especially with regards to the western leopard toad. Volunteers thus play a critical role in conservation efforts for the species. These volunteers are mainly involved during breeding season migrations, which falls between late July and early September, timed with the arrival of the first post-winter warm weather. It is at this time when the highest number of individuals are threatened, as individuals cross busy roads to and from local breeding habitat. Large-scale efforts across the distribution incur over nights during this time to move toads over roads, collect data and flag down motorists.

****information courtesy of Wikipedia

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BLACK LION TAMARIN - Status - endangered

The black lion tamarin, also known as the golden-rumped lion tamarin, is a lion tamarin endemic to the Brazilian state of São Paulo, almost exclusively at the Morro do Diabo State Park. Its limited geographical range makes black lion tamarins the most rare of the New World monkeys, with little known about it. It was thought to be extinct for 65 years until its rediscovery in 1970.

                                                                                                   

On average, the black lion tamarin weighs 590–640 grams (21–23 oz). The diet of the black lion tamarin is seasonal and varies with the habitats it moves through. When the tamarin is in the dryland forest, it usually eats a variety of fruits, whereas in a swampy environment it predominantly feeds on the gum of various trees. In addition to seasonal variation, the black lion tamarin exhibits daily and monthly cycles of food preferences. It also spends long periods each day searching for different types of insects and spiders to feed on.

Black lion tamarins mate and have offspring during the spring, summer, and fall months (August to March in Brazil). Females usually have one litter per year, though 20% females produce two litters per year. The mean litter size is two infants. During the first few months after birth, the infant is unable to obtain food on its own. For this reason, the infant rides on the parent's back and receives food from the parents. It drinks milk in the 4 to 5 weeks after birth; after that, the parents and other group-members share food with the infant.

The black lion tamarin is the largest in size of its species and has the lowest-pitched calls, using longer notes than other species. They use calls to defend territory, maintain cohesion within the group, attract a mate, and contact individuals who might be lost.

The black lion tamarin is the most endangered of its species, and the IUCN has recorded their population to be declining. The main threat is the destruction of its habitat through deforestation, though it is also threatened by being hunted in unprotected forests. There have been several attempts to bring black lion tamarins into captivity and to salvage what little habitat they have left within the Morro do Diabo State Park, as well as to increase breeding rates. Their population decline in the wild, however, could cause the black lion tamarins to become entirely endemic to the Morro do Diabo.

*****Information courtesy of Wikipedia

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AMAZON RIVER DOLPHIN - Critically Endangered.

Pink, blue or albino, the Amazon river dolphin is the most distinctive of the five river dolphins. It has a ridge along its back rather than a dorsal fin and its fat, heavy body is surprisingly flexible. Paddle-like flippers which move in a circular motion provide exceptional manoeuvrability, making up for a lack of speed.

                                                                                                                                                                 

The Amazon and Orinoco river basins provide all the food in its highly diverse diet, including at least 40 different species of fish. It relies on echolocation to find prey in the muddy waters. Males can reach two and a half metres in length, making them the largest of the river dolphins. This is unusual as in the other four species, the females are the larger sex. Amazon river dolphins have few natural predators , but caimans, anacondas and jaguars have been known to take them. They are also killed by fishermen and used as bait. There is only a small population left. It is critically endangered.      

 *****information courtesy of BBC Nature

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SOME OF THE WORLD'S MOST ENDANGERED SPECIES

LURISTAN NEWTS – under 1,000 left in the Zagros mountains of Iran. The brightly coloured reptiles are collected for the black market pet trade.

RED RIVER GIANT SOFTSHELL TURTLE - is close to extinction. Hunting and habitat loss means there are only FOUR known to exist, at two lakes in Vietnam and a Chinese Zoo……….. and attempts at breeding have failed.

      

SANTA CATARINA’S GUINEA PIGS - just one tiny group of 40 is left in a reserve on the small island of Moleques do Sul, off Brazil. The cause of the dwindling of numbers is due to habitat disturbance and possibly some hunting for food.

PRZEWALSKI’S HORSES - These are the last of the truly wild horses…. Though they were extinct in the wild until a successful re-introduction in 2008. Now 306 live in Mongolia… but there are 1,500 more in captivity throughout the world.

BLUE SPIDERS - also known as ‘gooty tarantulas’ and ‘peacock parachute spiders’ – these are now RARE – the exact numbers are unknown. They exist only in a small area of south east India. They have a highly painful, but non- fatal bite.                      

                                                                                                                                                                                                      

HAINAN GIBBON - only lives in 10 sq. km on Hainan Island, China. Hunting has reduced their numbers to about 20. The females are golden in colour, while the males are almost entirely black.

MADAGASCAR POCHARDS - between 1991 and 2006 there were no confirmed sightings at all of these ducks. But now 20 mature ducks live in the island’s volcanic lakes.

TONKIN SNUB-NOSED MONKEYS - There are fewer than 200 left in the world. They are one of 25 most endangered primates. They are poached for food and the wildlife black market in the Vietnam habitat.

SOMPHONGS’S RASBORAS - are extremely rare. They are native to Thailand. Habitat loss is putting them in danger and only the restoration of the Mae Khlong wetlands will save them.

               

SUMATRAN RHINO - There are only about 250 of these magnificent animals left. They are the smallest of all rhino. It’s biggest threat is from hunters who have almost decimated them. The horn is used in traditional Chinese medicine which has caused this fall in numbers.

                                                                                                               

MACAYA BREAST-SPOT FROG - This grape-sized frog was thought to be extinct, until it was rediscovered last year after the earthquake in Haiti. It’s habitat in Masif del la Hotte is being destroyed by charcoal production and agriculture. It’s status is RARE.

CUBAN FUNNELL-EARED BATS - These are some of the smallest and most delicate bats in the world. They are thought to just number 100 on the Isle of Pines in Cuba. Habitat loss and human disturbance are to blame.

CHINESE CRESTED TERNS - Fewer than 50of these birds exist. They breed in china, then migrate to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines. Their main thread is from fishermen who collect their eggs for food – even in protected areas.

          

PARIDES BURCHELLANUS SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLY - is found only in central Brazil. The ever growing population in the area is putting it under great pressure and there are thought to only be 100 left.

*****Information from a National Newspaper - September 2012

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HEN HARRIER - Status - endangered

August 2012 A report in a recent newspapers says the Hen Harrier is close to being wiped out through illegal hunting.

                                                                                                                 

The RSPB and Natural England found only four nesting pairs raising some young. This is the lowest population of these birds since 1960 - then they were re-introduced after going extinct. Last year there was an estimated 646 pairs nesting in the UK and the Isle of Man. This was down from 806 in 2004. Illegal persecution on grouse moors has been blamed for this

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AFRICAN WILD DOG - Status - Highly Endangered

The scientific name "Lycaon pictus" is derived from the Greek for "wolf" and the Latin for "painted". It is the only canid species to lack dewclaws on the forelimbs. Adults typically weigh 18–36 kilograms (40–79 lb). A tall, lean animal, it stands about 75 cm (30 in) at the shoulder, with a head and body length of 75–141 cm (30–56 in) plus a tail of 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 in). Animals in southern Africa are generally larger than those in eastern or western Africa.

                          

The African wild dog may reproduce at any time of year, although mating peaks between March and June during the second half of the rainy season. Litters can contain 2-19 pups, though ~10 is the most common.The time between births is usually 12–14 months, though it can also be as short as 6 months if all of the previous young die. The typical gestation period is approximately 70 days. Pups are usually born in dens dug and abandoned by other animals, such as the Aardvark. Weaning takes place at about 10 weeks. After 3 months, the pups leave the den and begin to run with the pack.

At the age of 8–11 months they are able to kill small prey, but depend on the pack kills for most of their food. They do not become proficient hunters until the age of 12–14 months. Wild dogs reach sexual maturity at the age of 12–18 months. Females will disperse from their birth pack at 14–30 months of age and join other packs that lack sexually mature females. Males typically do not leave the pack in which they were born. This is unusual among social mammals, among which the core pack tends to consist of related females.

Among African wild dogs, females compete for access to males that will help rear their offspring. In a typical pack, males outnumber females by a factor of two to one, and only the dominant female is usually able to rear pups. This atypical situation may have evolved to ensure that packs do not over-extend themselves by attempting to rear too many litters at the same time. The species is also unusual in that some members of the pack, including males, may be left to guard the pups whilst the others, including the mothers, join the hunting group. The practice of leaving adults behind to guard the pups may decrease hunting efficiency in smaller packs.

SOCIAL STRUCTURE Packs are separated into male and female hierarchies. African wild dogs defer to youth, at kills, letting them eat first; this may lead to the youngest male taking over an alpha vacancy without bloodshed . Unrelated wild dogs sometimes join in packs, but this is usually temporary. Instead, unrelated wild dogs will occasionally attempt hostile takeovers of packs.

HUNTING & DIET The African wild dog hunts in packs and small groups. Like most members of the dog family, it is a cursorial hunter, meaning that it pursues its prey in a long, open chase. Members of a pack vocalize to help coordinate their movements. Its voice is characterized by an unusual chirping or squeaking sound, similar to a bird. After a successful hunt, the hunters will regurgitate meat for those that remained at the den during the hunt including the dominant female, the pups, the sick or injured, the old and infirm, and those who stayed back to guard the pups. The wild dog's main prey varies among populations but always centers around medium-to-large sized ungulates, such as the impala, Thomson's Gazelle, Springbok, kudu, reedbuck, and wildebeest calves. Some packs are also able to include large animals among their prey, including zebras and warthogs.

HABITAT The home range of packs varies depending on the size of the pack and the nature of the terrain. Their preferred habitat in the Serengeti is deciduous woodlands because of large prey herd size, lack of competition from other carnivores, and better sites for denning. In theSerengeti the average range has been estimated at 1,500 square kilometres (580 sq mi), although individual ranges overlap extensively. There were once approximately 500,000 African wild dogs in 39 countries, and packs of 100 or more were not uncommon. Now there are only about 3,000-5,500 in fewer than 25 countries, or perhaps only 14 countries. They are primarily found in eastern and southern Africa. The African wild dog is endangered by human overpopulation, habitat loss and predator control killing.

*****Information courtesy of Wikipedia

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BROWN SPIDER MONKEY - Status - Highly threatened

The brown spider monkey or variegated spider monkey (Ateles hybridus) is a critically endangered species of spider monkey, a type of New World monkey, from northern Colombia and northwestern Venezuela. Its taxonomic history has been confusing, and in the past it has been treated as a subspecies of either the Geoffroy's spider monkey or the white-fronted spider monkey.

                                                                                                                                                                 

Like all spider monkeys, it has very long, spindly limbs and a lengthy prehensile tail which can almost be called a fifth limb. The tail has a highly flexible, hairless tip with skin grooves which improves grip on tree branches and is adapted to its strictly arboreal lifestyle. The brown spider monkey has a whitish belly and patch on the forehead, and – highly unusual among spider monkeys – the eyes are sometimes blue.

The brown spider monkey is now a highly threatened species, the population is estimated to have decreased by at least 80% and some populations have already been extirpated. Few remaining populations are of adequate size to be viable long-term. Almost 60 brown spider monkeys are present in various ISIS-registered zoos (mostly in Europe), but breeding success has been limited and no births were reported between May 2009 and May 2010.

Habitat loss is ongoing within its range, and an estimated 98% of its habitat already is gone. It is also threatened by hunting (in some regions it is the favorite game) and the wild animals trade.

The brown spider monkey is among "The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates", and is one of only two neotropical primates (the other being the yellow-tailed woolly monkey) to have been included in this list in both 2006-2008 and 2008-2010. A small population of fewer than 30 individuals of the subspecies has been discovered in a protected area of Colombia, the Selva de Florencia National Park. This is the southernmost population of the brown spider monkey and the only population found in a protected area.

*****Information courtesy of Wikipedia.

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TASMANIAN DEVIL - Status - Threatened/Endangered

Tasmanian Devils are nearly extinct in Tasmania due to a Facial Tumour Disease that is contagious. Something like 90 per cent are gone from the wild due to this virus. Since the late 1990s, this disease has drastically reduced the Devil population and now threatens the survival of the species, which in 2008 was declared to be endangered. Programs are currently being undertaken to reduce the impact of the disease, including an initiative to build up a group of healthy devils in captivity, isolated from the disease.

                          

Tasmania is also a state that logs its Native forest and the Government department that oversees this logging is constantly in the news for over logging high conservation Native Forest. Despite there being healthy Tasmanian Devils, forestry have applied for and were awarded an exemption to log threatened species habitat without consequence.

Tasmanian devils have a notoriously cantankerous disposition and will fly into a maniacal rage when threatened by a predator, fighting for a mate, or defending a meal. Early European settlers dubbed it a "devil" after witnessing such displays, which include teeth-baring, lunging, and an array of spine-chilling guttural growls.

It is characterised by its stocky and muscular build, black fur, pungent odour, extremely loud and disturbing screech, keen sense of smell, and ferocity when feeding. The Tasmanian devil's large head and neck allow it to generate the strongest bite per unit body mass of any living mammal. It is active during the middle of the day without overheating. Despite its rotund appearance, the devil is capable of surprising speed and endurance, and can climb trees and swim across rivers.

Devils are not monogamous. Males fight one another for the females, and then guard their partners to prevent female infidelity. Females can ovulate three times in as many weeks during the mating season, and 80% of two-year-old females are seen to be pregnant during the annual mating season. Females average four breeding seasons in their life and give birth to 20–30 live young after three weeks' gestation. The newborn are pink, lack fur, have indistinct facial features and weigh around 0.20 g (0.0071 oz) at birth. As there are only four nipples in the pouch, competition is fierce and few newborns survive. The young grow rapidly and are ejected from the pouch after around 100 days, weighing roughly 200 g (7.1 oz). The young become independent after around nine months, so the female spends most of her year in activities related to childbirth and rearing.

The devil is an iconic symbol of Tasmania and many organisations, groups and products associated with the state use the animal in their logos. Due to export restrictions and the failure of overseas devils to breed, there are almost no devils outside Australia except for any that have been illegally smuggled.

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SNOW LEOPARD - Status - endangered

Habitat - Mountain Steppes & coniferous forested scrub at high altitudes. They prefer mountain regions during the winter, & meadows & rocky areas in the summer. They are found in the mountains of Central Asia like the Himalayas, and have a home range covering about 100 miles - due to lack of abundant prey.

                                                                                              

Food - wild sheep, boar, gazelles, hares, marmots, mice & deer, which they stalk and then usually spring at them from a distance of 20 - 50 feet.

They are solitary creatures and only pair during the breeding season. They do not roar, and seem to be most active in the early morning or late afternoon. They den in rocky caverns or crevices.

The female will give birth to 1 to 4 young in the spring and she will line a rocky shelter with her fur. The cubs remain with her throughout their first winter.

They can live up to 15 years in captivity, but are extremely rare in their ranges due to the demand for their skins. Even though the trade in Snow Leopard furs is now illegal it still continues, so threatening their existence. Another threat is loss of habitat due to deforestation & dam projects.

CONSERVATION - protect it's habitat, have captive breeding, stiff penalties for poachers and the buyers of the illegal furs. And also in the education of the public.

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BELUGA STURGEON - Status - critically endangered

Habitat - Primarily in the Caspian & Black sea basins, and occasionally in the Adriatic Sea. It travels upstream in rivers to spawn.

                                                                                                                                                                    

It is a huge fish that can live for up to 118 years. However, the species numbers have been greatly reduced by over fishing and poaching. Food - It is a large predator which feeds on other fish.

CONSERVATION - It is a protected species and it's trade is now restricted.

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ORANGUTANS - Status - endangered

Habitat - They are found on the islands of Borneo & Sumatra. They live 90% of their time in the trees of swamp, tropical & mixed forests. They enjoy being in fruit rich areas. They sleep in the trees, making nests of the branches. Their life span can be 30 - 40 years, though they can live a little longer.

    

Food - They eat the fruit of the durion tree, leaves, bark, flowers, honey, insects & vines. They have also been known to eat eggs.

Behaviour - They are a semi-solitary creature, only maintaining a very loose social structure. Females have a long relationship with their young, but prefer to avoid a larger social interaction. Males are aggressive towards other males and will fight for several hours and may sustain a serious injury. Females are rarely violent. Females usually have their young at approximately 15 years old and usually just give birth to one baby. These are completely dependent on their mother for 2 years. Mothers will carry their young until they are 5, and continue feeding them until 8 years of age. The young Orangutan will become independant at about 10 years old, though the females will often visit their mothers until the age of 15 years.

CONSERVATION - Orangutans are becoming extinct because humans are destroying more & more of their habitat, usually to make plantations of paper, timber & palm oil.There are a few good organisations like the WWF, who are working to help to restore their habitat. Do check out their web site if you would like to help support their work.

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SOME QUICK FACTS

Definitions:

EXTINCT - None of the species can be found (an appalling state!)

EXTINCT IN THE WILD: Only found in captivity

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED: Declined 90% in 10 years

ENDANGERED: Reduction of 70% in 10 years

VULNERABLE: Reduction of 50% in 10 years

NEAR THREATENED: Almost entering danger categories

Just recently we heard that the Javan Rhino is extinct in mainland Asia, and also the Western Black Rhino of Africa. A sad state of affairs!

Critically endangered now are: Southern white rhino (the Northern white rhino is extinct in the wild), Bluefin Tuna (spawning stock has declined by 85% in 36 years and not rebuilding), Calumma Tarzan Lizard which lives outside of protected areas on Madagascar ( 40% of amphibians are threatened by farming & logging), European mink - over exploited for it's fur during the last century. Habitat loss & inter breeding with American mink has left just 1000 in Spain & a few hundred in France

Sea Turtle - an 80% fall in nesting - poaching & fishing nets have forced numbers down to 30,000 Dama Gazelle - hunting by shooting parties from the Gulf States has led to an 80% decline across the Sahara - numbers down to 500

Endangered: Tiger - numbers have declined by over 50% since the 1970's - because of poaching & habitat loss sadly numbers in the wild continue to die out

Water Buffalo - interbreeding with domestic buffalo, the spread of agriculture and hunting for it's horns means there are less than 4,000 wild buffalo left.

Asian Elephant: Poaching for tusks and the spread of agriculture has halved the numbers over the past 3 generations and there are only 50,000 left

Vulnerable: Polar Bears: 20,000 left but with global warming melting their icy habitat they are expected to die out within 100 years. (how sad this would be)

Hippopotamus: Loss of habitat, with growing populations are driving hippos away. There are 148,000 left in East Africa but these numbers are falling.

The main reasons for these losses/soon to be losses, as well as many other species, is due to hunting, poaching and destroying these creatures habitats. The plight of the Rhino alone is a stark reminder of what is happening. According to experts, 801 species are now extinct in the wild, 9568 critically endangered or endangered, and 10,002 vulnerable. Time for all responsible and caring people to stand up and be counted, and to do what they can to help stop this!!

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SUMATRAN TIGERS - Status - Critically endangered

There are no more than 500 left in the wild.

Habitat - They live on the island of Sumatra in lowland forest to sub mountain & mountain forest. There is a major loss of habitat due to deforestation for the production of palm oil and agriculture. They are also very vulnerable to poaching where they live in unprotected areas & are often killed when they come into contact with villagers who have encroached on their habitat.

                                                                               

Food - They prey on wild pig, Indonesian Tapir and deer - also smaller animals such as fowl, monkeys & fish.

CONSERVATION - In 2006 the Indonesian Forest Service, the Natural Resources & Conservational Agency and the Sumatran Tiger Conservation program began talks with commercial concession holders. This set the foundation for the Senepis Buluhala Tiger Sanctuary which covers 106,000 hectares in Riau. This project is recognised as a pioneering initiative. In 2007 the Indonesian Forestry Ministry & Safari Park established cooperation with Australia Zoo for the conservation of the Sumatran Tiger and other endangered species in the wild. The program also includes efforts to reduce conflicts between tigers and humans, and rehabilitating Sumatran Tigers and reintroducing them to their natural habitat. A 110,000 acre conservation area & rehabilitation centre, Tambling Wildlife Nature Conservation, has been set up on the edge of a National Park on the southern tip of Sumatra.

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GREY WOLVES – Status - Endangered

The wolf is the largest member of the canine family. Gray wolves range in color from grizzled gray or black to all-white. As the ancestor of the domestic dog, the gray wolf resembles German shepherds or malamutes. Wolves are making a comeback in the Great Lakes, northern Rockies and Southwestern United States. 

                                                                                                                                                                  

Habitat - Wolves were once common throughout all of North America but were killed in most areas of the United States by the mid 1930s. Today their range has been reduced to Canada and the following portions of the United States: Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Thanks to the reintroduction of wolves in 1995, Yellowstone National Park is one of the most favoured places to see and hear wolves in the native habitat. It is estimated that there are 7,000 to 11,200 wolves in Alaska and more than 5,000 in the lower 48 states. Around the world there are an estimated 200,000 in 57 countries, compared to up to 2 million in earlier times.

Food - Wolves eat elk, deer, moose and caribou. They are also known to eat beaver, rabbits and other small prey, and are scavengers and often eat animals that have died due to other causes like starvation and disease.

Behaviour - Wolves live, travel and hunt in packs of 4-7 animals on average. Packs include the mother and father wolves, called the alphas, their pups and several other subordinate or young animals. The alpha female and male are the pack leaders that track and hunt prey, choose den sites and establish the pack's territory. Wolves develop close relationships and strong social bonds. They often demonstrate deep affection for their family and may even sacrifice themselves to protect the family unit. Wolves have a complex communication system ranging from barks and whines to growls and howls. While they don't howl at the moon (!!!), they do howl more when it's lighter at night, which occurs more often when the moon is full.

Reproduction - Mating Season: January or February. Gestation: 63 days. Litter size: 4-7 pups. Pups are born blind and defenseless. The pack cares for the pups until they mature at about 10 months of age. Their lifespan is 7-8 years in the wild, but some have lived 10 years or more.

CONSERVATION - An endangered species cannot be killed, wounded or harassed. It is also illegal to buy, sell or possess any parts of endangered species or items made from them. Efforts must be made to recover species, which means returning them to healthy population levels. The conservation of wolf populations requires the cooperation of all agencies, zoos, citizens and wildlife organizations to uphold the laws that protect wolves, to preserve and enhance wolf habitat and to develop captive breeding programs for populations whose numbers are critically low.

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SPECTACLED BEARS - Status - Vulnerable

Habitat - Spectacled bears are the last remaining representatives of the short-faced bears, and are the only bear species found in South America. They are found throughout the Andes, from western Venezuela to the northwest of Argentina, and feel equally at home in either high altitude grassland or deep in the cloud forest.

These adaptable little bears are easily recognised by their distinctive yellow eye patches. They while away the hours in treetops, occasionally feeling the urge to become productive when they build huge platforms out of broken branches, to help them get at out of reach fruit. Males are significantly bigger than the females, growing to over 5ft (1.5meters) in length and weigh up to 340lbs (150kg) Females rarely weigh more than 180lbs (82kg). At birth cubs weigh 10-11 ozs (284-312gms).

They are solitary creatures and are normally only seen together during the mating season. Females reach sexual maturity between four and seven years. Females usually give birth to one or two small helpless cubs which are mobile after a month and they remain with the mother for up to twelve months. Cubs are usually born from November to February.

Food - Spectacled bears are generally nocturnal and mainly vegetarian eating fruit, berries, cacti and honey. They have extremely strong jaws and wide flat molars to chew through vegetation such as tree bark and orchid bulbs. Occasionally they will supplement their diet with meat, taking small rodents, birds, insects and even small cows.

CONSERVATION - Their wild population is estimated at 18,000 and decreasing due to loss of habitat. Human-bear conflict is a problem, and although the Andean bear's timid, non-aggressive nature causes it to avoid humans as much as possible, crop-raiding and livestock depredation are sources of conflict for farmers. From the bear's point of view, habitat destruction or fragmentation by humans is a major source of bear-human conflict.

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