Vaquita. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.
Our Top 10 Most Endangered Animals
For the first time since AAW began publishing its Top 10 List of Endangered Species, we’ve got a new Number One Most Endangered Animal. This unfortunate creature is the vaquita, a tiny porpoise that lives in the Gulf of Mexico and whose population has dropped by half in just the past year. The reason for it’s sharp decline: it keeps getting caught up and drowning in illegal fishing nets used by seafood harvesters in Mexico. There are now only 30 of these animals left, and their prospects do not look good.
The vaquita replaces the ivory-billed woodpecker in the top slot—not because we don’t still hold out some hope that someone, some day, will see an ivory-billed again, but because the vaquita requires the urgent attention of the conservation world right now if it’s going to remain with us much longer. The ivory-billed woodpecker, meanwhile, has gone down to number 10 on our list.
Here’s a link to our full 10 most endangered animal species list. And as review our list, please keep in mind is that there currently are thousands of birds and animals that may not be with us in a couple of decades. The many threats facing them include habitat loss—in many cases due to the rapid destruction of the world’s rain forests—as well as illegal hunting (which has increased astronomically in recent years), and global climate change, which is having a great effect even on wildlife habitat this is not being directly destroyed by humans. [click to continue…]
Photo Credit: Coke Smith, CokeSmithPhotoTravel.com
Our Top 10 Most Endangered Animals
In each of the previous years that we at AAW have published our selected list of the world’s 10 most endangered animal species, we’ve invariably made a few changes, switching out one or two creatures for another couple of imperiled birds or animals. This was never because the bird or animal being removed was in any less danger of going extinct or any less deserving of attention than the endangered species we were replacing it with; the switch was always made merely to give our readers the opportunity to learn about a different animal in need of human action to prevent it from vanishing off the face of the earth.
In fact, the important thing to keep in mind is that there currently are thousands of birds and animals that may not be with us in a couple of decades. The many threats facing them include habitat loss—in many cases due to the rapid destruction of the world’s rain forests—as well as illegal hunting (which has increased astronomically in recent years), and global climate change, which is having a great effect even on wildlife habitat this is not being directly destroyed by humans. [click to continue…]
A little brown bat objects to being handled by a researcher. Photo: USFWS
Likely Cure Found For White Nose Syndrome
In the eastern U.S. and Canada, anyone who has regularly spent time outdoors during the past several years has probably noticed that once-plentiful bats have almost disappeared from our evening skies. This worrisome scarcity is due to the ravages of a fungal illness known as White Nose Syndrome (WNS), which to date has killed an estimated 6 million of the insectivorous flying mammals in the U.S. and Canada—up to 90 percent of the bat population in some areas. Conservationists have been concerned that WNS—which was inadvertently introduced to North America from Europe—might eventually push some bat species toward extinction.
But biologists are reporting that they may finally have a handle on the problem. In May, scientists in Missouri released 75 bats that had that been successfully treated for the deadly illness using a bacterium (Rhodococcus rhodochrous) found to inhibit the growth of the fugus that causes it. Further trials of the promising treatment are planned. [click to continue…]
A Bottlenose Dolphin Hitches A Ride From A Blue Whale Off Hawaii
The behavior depicted in the photo above—a bottlenose dolphin sliding down the back of a humpback whale—is not a fluke. Scientists and tourists alike have witnessed this strange and marvelous interspecies interaction time and time again in the waters around the Hawaiian Islands.
While most animal behaviors are connected in some way to the animals’ survival, scientists say that in this case, the most logical explanation is that the two species merely enjoy playing together. More information is available here.
A Species Of Giant Rat Native To Africa Is Being Used To Keep People Safe. Photo: USFWS
This Huge Rodent Is Better Than A Metal Detector At Sniffing Out Deadly Land Mines
In some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, hidden land mines are a major threat to the civilian population. Left over from military conflicts that periodically sweep the continent, they often injure or even kill children at play and adults who are trying to work farmland or otherwise go about their daily business.
Finding and disposing of buried mines is usually a slow, difficult, and dangerous process because, while they can be located with electronic metal detectors, the devices constantly give out false alarms caused by such non-lethal pieces of lost or discarded metal as nails, screws, and machine parts. So, mine hunters in the formerly war-torn country of Angola are increasing relying instead on the Gambian rat, a native rodent with a cat-sized body and an exquisite nose for buried items that emanate odors, including explosives.
The Gambian rat, also called the African rat, or the pouched rat, is a common sub-Saharan species that has been domesticated. The animals are sold around the world in the pet trade—in fact, they’ve become an invasive species in Florida, where enough of them have escaped or been released to form a breeding population. [click to continue…]
There Are More Wild Pandas Now Than There Have Been In Several Decades (Although This Photo Is Of A Captive Panda)
The Population Of Wild Pandas Has Gone Up Since The Animals Last Were Counted
Good news is often hard to come by in the world of endangered species conservation. So when we hear something positive we like to celebrate. What we’re most happy about right now is a report from the Chinese government that the number of giant pandas in the wild has undergone a sizable increase in the last dozen years.
According to Chinese wildlife officials, there are now 1,864 pandas living in the bamboo forests of Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces in southern China, up from a population of 1,596 in 2003. This is an increase of nearly 17 percent. [click to continue…]
Zoology For Kids: An AAW Book Review
The wildlife field is full of interesting careers, including—but certainly not limited to—veterinary work, environmental writing, field biology, conservation law enforcement, and hands-on work with captive wildlife. These sorts of jobs are extremely exciting to a lot of kids—but also seemingly about as attainable as the moon. In fact, a lot of young people might think they’d have as much chance of becoming an astronaut as they would a zookeeper or a zoologist.
So it’s terrific that a new book called Zoology for Kids: Understanding and Working with Animals has come along to demystify and demythologize the wildlife professions and make them seem more like something that, with the right amount of time, effort, and desire, any kid could end up doing for a living. The entire second half of this well-written, informative, and beautifully designed book is called “Working on the Wild Side—Zoology in Real Life”—and it discusses an array of jobs studying, caring for, and protecting wild animals, from being a zookeeper or a professional aquarist to becoming a scientist or a wildlife conservationist. Topics covered include the kinds of daily activities that are involved in each of these careers, as well as some of the requirements for getting there. The authors, the husband and wife team of Josh and Bethanie Hestermann, offer their young readers a lot of practical career encouragement, including the terrific advice to begin gaining experience and building their resumes through volunteer work at a wildlife center or veterinarian’s office. [click to continue…]