The Ozark Hellbender Has Been Declared Endangered By the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Photo:USFWS
The Ozark Hellbender, America’s Largest Amphibian, Is Now Listed As Endangered
The Ozark hellbender, a salamander that grows to two feet in length and is the largest amphibian in North America, as well as one of the largest on earth, has been listed as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Native to the rivers and streams of the hilly Ozark region of Missouri and Arkansas, the creature has suffered from pollution, from habitat loss due to the damming of rivers, and from a serious fungal disease that had been killing frogs and other amphibians all over the world.
Plans for keeping the hellbender from going extinct include breeding them in captivity. Hellbenders can live for up to 30 years, and they do not reach sexual maturity until they are at least five years old.
The hellbender’s flattened shape makes it more streamlined for moving around in fast water. These huge salamanders spend most of the daylight hours hiding under rocks; at night they emerge and stalk crayfish as well as feeding upon one another’s eggs.
The World's Smallest Chameleon Has Been Found On Madagascar. Photos:Glaw, F., et al., PLoS ONE
New Species May Be The World’s Smallest Reptiles As Well As The Tiniest Chameleons
Scientists who explored tiny islands and other areas in northern Madagascar are reporting the discovery of four new species of dwarf chameleon, one of which approaches, or may even break, the record for being the world’s littlest reptile. At the very least, the diminutive species Brookesia micra, which appears to grow to a maximum length of 30 millimeters (1.18 inches) from snout to tail, is the smallest chameleon on earth.
The only reptile that may be slightly smaller—in reality, this reptile rivalry has yet to be resolved—is a dwarf gecko found in the British Virgin Islands. [click to continue…]
The Mountain Gorilla, Pictured Here, Moves Off Our List To Make Way For—The Lowland Gorilla! Photo:Sarel Kromer
Our Revised List Of The World’s Top 10 Most Endangered Animal Species
Our 2012 Top 10 Endangered Species List is now complete—and the giant panda still has not made the cut!
Elsewhere on this site, we have talked about how subjective Top 10 lists of Endangered animals always are. Hundreds, if not thousands of species qualify for inclusion; therefore, the animals that make any particular list invariably reflect the agenda, preoccupations, and prejudices of the people making the list. [click to continue…]
The Toucan Is One Of Many Millions Of Jungle Animals. Photo:Benjli
Animals Of The Jungle
In the Book of Genesis, Adam names all the birds and animals in Eden. However, if the biblical “first man” had lived in a jungle, or rainforest, instead, he would probably still be hard at work making his list of jungle animals. That’s because the millions of species of jungle plants and animals comprise about half of all life on earth—so many different species of insects, spiders, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mollusks, and mammals that scientists tell us only a fraction have yet been discovered. Of all the kinds of jungle animals, insects, in particular, are more likely than not to still be waiting for their naming by one of Adam’s descendants: While one million insect species currently are known to man, biologists say another 5 to 30 million may be awaiting discovery and description—and most of them live in the jungle.
So, with jungles, or rain forests, comprising only about 6 percent of the earth’s surface, how is it that they can contain so much life, compared with everywhere else? Part of the answer has to do with climate: Jungles are warm and wet, providing an ideal year-round environment for plant growth as well as for the activities of cold-blooded animals. But the other part has to do with fact that jungle habitat is not confined to the land area, in square kilometers, that is covered by rain forests; the complex, multi-dimensional structure of a rain forest provides jungle animals with abundant vertical “real estate” that allows them to expand their territories into the sky. [click to continue…]
Only A Few Thousand African Wild Dogs Remain, And The Species Is Listed As Endangered. Photo: Michael Gabler
What Do We Mean When We Say A Species Is Endangered?
The term “endangered species” is one that we frequently hear in the media as well as in everyday conversation. It could be said—and often is—that all species on earth are endangered because of the serious environmental challenges our planet faces. Some people even say that the human race is “endangered” because of the threat of widespread war, the possibility of a pandemic (a terrible disease outbreak) or a global famine, as well as every other conceivable serious problem that could result from living on a crowded, technology- and energy-dependent planet.
People who say such things may have some valid points. However, when conservationists use the word Endangered—note the capital E—they mean something very specific. They are talking about an animal or plant species that has been scientifically determined to be disappearing at a rate that is likely to result in its extinction in the near future. [click to continue…]
The ESA Saved The Bald Eagle—And Many Other Species. Photo: USFWS
The Endangered Species Act Is Our Most Important Piece Of Wildlife Legislation
If we did not have the U.S. Endangered species Act (ESA), America would be a much poorer nation. Without it, our national symbol, the bald eagle, would already be extinct. Also gone forever would be the the American alligator, the grizzly bear in the Lower 48 states, and the whooping crane, among a long list of others.
Deep concern for for the future of America’s wildlife began at the end of the 1800′s, with the the near-extinction of the buffalo and the looming extinction of passenger pigeon. The first federal laws protecting wildlife, including the Lacey Act of 1900, were passed at the turn of 20th century—however, they were far from strong enough to prevent an array of native wildlife from sliding toward becoming extinct. For just one example, by the 1940′s, ewer than 20 whooping cranes remained in the wild. [click to continue…]
Black Rhinos In Kenya. Photo: Harald Zimmer
Accelerated Poaching Made 2011 The Worst Year Yet For All Species Of Rhinoceros
Despite a muscular increase in South Africa’s anti-poaching law enforcement efforts, the illegal killing of rhinos has continued its aggressive upswing in that country—as well as in almost every other country to which rhinos are native.
In mid-December, the international anti-poaching organization, TRAFFIC, reported that 430 South African rhinos had been illegally killed in 2011—with two weeks still remaining in the year. The number was an increase over the number of rhinos poached in 2010, when over 300 rhinoceroses were slaughtered for their horns—and the 2010 toll was triple the number of South African rhinos killed in 2009. [click to continue…]