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United States set to boost protection of lions

The United States is set to boost the protection of African lions as it continues to fight wildlife trafficking across the world. The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have submitted a petition to have the lion listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). They are also calling for a permit system for sport hunt trophies so only those trophies from countries with sustainable populations can be imported. Following a review of the best scientific evidence the FWS yesterday submitted their petition and called for the African lion subspecies (Panthera leo leo) to be listed as a threatened species. They concluded that the species is in real danger of becoming…

One tenth of bird species flying under the conservation radar

More than 350 newly recognised bird species have been assessed by BirdLife International for the first time on behalf of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Worryingly, more than 25% of these newly recognised birds have been listed as threatened on the IUCN Red List – compared with 13% of all birds – making them urgent priorities for conservation action. The first of a two-part comprehensive taxonomic review has focussed on non-passerine birds – such as birds of prey, seabirds, waterbirds and owls – and has led to the recognition of 361 new species, that were previously treated as ‘races’ of other forms The new total of 4,472 non-passerines…

Did you give to a charity saving made up animals?

You may need to read it twice before you actually believe it but Irish actor Chris O’Dowd has admitted that when working in a call centre raising money for a wildlife charity he made up species to get people to donate money to the cause. The actor has claimed he raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting donors by claiming species such as Tigerswans and Dolphinwhales were rare and threatened with extinction. O’Dowd makes the claim in an interview with the GQ Magazine. In the interview he said that making up the tigerswan species – a swan with stripes like a tiger – allowed him to raise £300,000 in…

Global Re-introductions case studies published

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has released the latest volume of case studies involving the re-introduction of endangered species. The 298 page book is available to download free of charge in pdf format. It covers 236 re-introduction programmes and is the 4th in a series from the Reintroduction Specialists Group. The book is Global Re-Introduction Perspective: 2013. The 236 projects examined spans the globe and include a wide range of different re-introduction projects. From the re-planting of mangrove swamps to the re-wilding of orang-utans the book records the level of succeed that was accomplished or the current level of success. One of the projects in the…

European bat populations surge

Bat populations in Europe have surged according to a new study recently released. Between 1993 and 2011 bat numbers increased by 42% according to the European Environment Agency (EEA) survey. New conservation treaties and actions have started to have the desired effect as bat populations start to rebound. “It is extremely encouraging to see bat populations increasing after massive historic declines,” EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx said. “It suggests that targeted conservation policies over the last years have been successful.” “But many bat species are still endangered, so preserving their habitats is still an important priority,” he added. “Monitoring bats also helps understand changes in wider ecosystems, including climate change, as…

Calls for West African lions to be declared critically endangered

The results of a 6 year lion survey covering West Africa has shown just how precarious the population is. There is estimated to be barely 400 west African lions left spread over 5 countries. With fewer than 250 mature adult lions left the west African lion meets criterion C2a(ii) for designation as critically endangered. While officially there are only two sub-species of lions – African and Asiatic – modern studies have shown that lions from Central, West and North Africa are genetically linked to Asiatic lions rather than southern and eastern African lions. The northern Africa lion – also known as the Barbary lion – is already extinct which makes the…

Major tiger sanctuary announced for Indonesia

Indonesia’s forestry department has announced plans for the establishment of a major tiger sanctuary for illegally trapped and captured Sumatran tigers. With just 300 individual tigers left in the wild the new plan will be a major contribution towards helping prevent the extinction of the species. The tiger sanctuary will be developed in Riau province and will consist of semi-natural land that will be developed to replicate a true tiger habitat. The Forestry Ministry are working with experts from Yogyakarta’s Gadjah Mada University (UGM) to get the tiger sanctuary established and it is hoped to be completed next year. Speed is of the essence if the  Sumatran tigers are to…

Emergency funding keeps Russia’s rare Amur tigers fed this winter

The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) has made an emergency grant to ensure that rare Amur tigers are kept fed and away from conflict with humans in the Russian Far East this winter. But the money won’t be used to dish out food directly to the tigers but to buy forage for the wild boar that make up fifty per cent of the big cats’ diet. The worst floods in 50 years and a shortage of acorns and cedar nuts in the Anyuisky National Park, which is home to about 20 rare Amur tigers, has meant that the predators’ favourite food is struggling to survive.  “The autumn flood water saturated…

Okapi and Yellow-breasted bunting take a step closer to extinction

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has just released an update to its Red List. While thee are some notable successes with species recovery the trend is still growing numbers of species coming under greater threat. The most high-profile of these is probably the okapi, a giraffe related mammal from the DR Congo. Some migratory bird species like the yellow-breasted bunting are also under increasing pressure. The okapi are suffering from the impacts of civil war and unrest in the DR Congo. Poaching, gold mining and habitat loss are all working against the okapi and causing the species population to drop. The IUCN has now rated the okapi…

Vietnamese saola seen again after 15 years

Camera traps are increasingly revealing long-lost species around the world. The latest success for the cameras is the re-appearance of the saola in Vietnam. It was last seen 15 years ago and offers new hope for one of the most endangered species on the planet. The animal was photographed during a programme run by the WWF-Asia and Vietnam’s Forest Protection Department. The cameras had been set in the Central Annamite mountains during September. “When our team first looked at the photos we couldn’t believe our eyes. Saola are the holy grail for South-east Asian conservationists so there was a lot of excitement,” said Dr. Van Ngoc Thinh, WWF-Vietnam’s Country Director. “This is a breath-taking…

CITES checklist now online

With 35,000 different species covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) it can be difficult for wildlife traders and customers to ensure that they have the adequate documentation and certificates. Many exotic pet or plant owners may not even be aware of the need for certification of some species. THat has all changed now with an easy to use web site that offer quick checking of species for any trade restrictions. The new online tool offered by CITES allows for checking of species by scientific name, common names, index listing or country of origin of species. With a few taps on a keyboard you can find out…

Giving up hunting is a good way to start a career in conservation

Prince William has given up life in the army to commit to royal duties and charity work. He is expected to spend a large proportion of his time working in wildlife conservation and protecting endangered species. This would be a good time for him to give up his love for killing wildlife. It could help prevent a few embarrassing moments. Hunting and wildlife conservation are not necessarily opposing hobbies but when you are high-profile and a little trigger-happy then making a choice reduce the chances of looking like a hypocrite and idiot. Prince William has already had a small taste of that. While on a hunting safari in Africa he managed…

Protecting 17% of land surface could conserve 67% of plant species

One of the goals of the  Convention on Biological Diversity 2010 is to ensure that at least 60% of plant species are conserved for future generations and that 17% of the planet’s land surface is protected. Careful consideration of where that 17% is placed could mean that 67% of plant species are conserved. Researchers from Duke, North Carolina State University and Microsoft Research used computer algorithms to identify the smallest set of regions worldwide that could contain the largest numbers of plant species. The results have now been published in Science journal. “Our analysis shows that two of the most ambitious goals set forth by the 2010 Convention on Biological Diversity — to…

Cheetahs return after 100 year absence

For the first time in over 100 years wild cheetahs are roaming the Free State wilderness in South Africa thanks to a re-introduction programme. The first 2 cheetahs – both males – have been released by The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), in partnership with Laohu Valley Reserve and Amakhala Game Reserve. Free State has been alone in South Africa in not having wild cheetahs on any of its land. The last wild cheetah raced across the plains over 100 years ago when the country was still under colonial rule. Throughout the entire country it is estimated that there is less than 1000 cheetahs in the wild and they are classed…

Rosewood listing could help tackle illegal logging

Violence and gun fights between law enforcement agencies and poachers of tigers, elephants and rhino are well known and occur often but increasingly there are armed conflicts between loggers and law enforcement agencies. As the price of hardwoods rocket driven by high-end furniture demand in China the listings on CITES Appendices of a number of hardwood species gives a new tool to enforcement agencies and campaign groups. One of the hardwoods to gain new protection yesterday was the Siam Rosewood, an endangered species that grows in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, While Thailand already has in place a complete logging ban on the species illegal loggers from Cambodia regularly cross the…

Highlights of CITES week 1

The first week of CITES in Bangkok has come to an end and there was some interesting highlights to look back on. It was an ambitious week for the delegates with lots of meetings to attend and decisions to be made. For me the most notable highlights of the week were: 1. Secret ballots stay. A vote was undertaken to end secret ballots on voting which failed. Some votes in CITES are held in secret (when 10 member states agree to a secret vote) and this has raised concerns among some groups, predominately NGO’s. Maintaining the secret ballot is probably the bet way to go as this allows delegates to…

UK launches ‘If they’re gone’ campaign

Four iconic wildlife species are spearheading a new year-long campaign in the UK to help protect and conserve endangered species. The tiger, rhino, elephant and orangutan are the key species being used in the campaign called ‘If They’re Gone…’. the campaign has been launched to coincide with the start of the CITES meeting in Bangkok. The campaign was launched at the Cotswold Wildlife Park by Environment Secretary Own Paterson. On launching the campaign he said, “Today, I am launching a very important campaign. ‘If They’re Gone…’ aims to raise awareness and encourage individuals to take action to protect four of the planet’s most iconic species, rhinos, elephants, orang-utans and tigers,…

10 points to understanding CITES on the eve of CoP16

While the west african manatee may be threatened  there is little international trading and so the species is unlikely to make Appendix I listing. With just a few hours to go before the start of the Conference of Parties 16 in Bangkok here is a quick 10 point outline of what CITES is and what it is meant to achieve. It should give you an understanding behind what is going on at Bangkok over the next 10 days or so. 1. CITES – what does it mean? While many just use the acronym CITES when talking about the convention the full title is Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild…

Sharks set to get boost from CITES

Sharks across the world are under threat thanks to shark fin soup. Often the sharks are caught as a profitable by-catch but as only the fins are valuable the rest of the shark is dumped overboard. The trade is international in scope and there is little control. CoP16 though offers some hope for the future. The Convention in Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) Secretariat is advising that member states in next months Convention of Parties (CoP) meeting moves a number of shark species onto the Appendix II listing. This will help to ensure that international co-operation can be used to reduce overfishing and over-exploitation of the fish. If member states…

Does the echidna still roam around Australia?

The western long-beaked echidna, (Zaglossus bruijnii) is a critically endangered species with just a small population living in Indonesian New Guinea. It is one of only 5 mammal species that lays eggs and was thought to have gone extinct in Australia thousands, if not tens of thousands, of years ago. But a recent discovery has led to the question of; Is the echidna still surviving in the Kimberley wilderness? Surprisingly the discovery that has led to the exciting possibility did not occur in Australia but in the Natural History Museum of London, UK. A specimen of the mammal was found tucked away in a cabinet  within the collections at the museum and…