Recent calls from the RSPCA for the sale of Raccoon Dogs in the UK to be banned amid sporadic reports of some living wild in the country, has once again put invasive species back in the spotlight. This charismatic canid has gained a loyal following, primarily due to its endearing appearance, and can be bought online for as little as £150 – currently making it flavour of the month as an exotic pet. Whether it’s the sale online, or otherwise, of a popular exotic animal that soon becomes unwanted due to its acute unsuitability as a pet; or escapees from a wildlife park or zoo – the pattern of events is depressingly familiar and often ends in a cull instead of capture.
A further 23 Scimitar-horned Oryx were released into a remote part of Chad this week, as part of a long-term international conservation project to reinstate this most persecuted of antelope back into one of their historic strongholds. The species is believed to have become extinct in the wild during the early 1990s – the precise year is widely disputed – but are now showing signs of a revival following a release of an initial 23 animals last August into the same region. This was made possible after a group of 40-50 Oryx were taken from the wild into captivity in the 1960s after decades of hunting decimated their population across Northern Africa.
A new study led by the Zoological Society of London [ZSL] and the Wildlife Conservation Society [WCS] has uncovered a dramatic decline in their numbers, with only around 7,100 believed to now exist in the wild. With a historic population of over 100,000 in 1900, the species is clearly now in a fragile state, amid calls for them to be reclassified by the IUCN as endangered. The reasons behind their collapse include:
This enviable title has been awarded to Manu National Park in Peru, now believed to contain the greatest variety of terrestrial species on Earth. Following exhaustive research conducted across 16 of the most biodiverse places in the world, using 60 camera traps, Manu’s pristine mosaic of 14 different ecosystems came out on top. The study was carried out by the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring [TEAM] Network, utilising systematic field station data collection procedures honed over many years to ensure the utmost veracity. Their work serves to identify trends in species diversity, which can then inform and shape conservation strategy.
This was the headline finding from the Scottish Natural Heritage [SNH] report published today, following dedicated long-term data collection primarily by volunteers with the British Trust for Ornithology [BTO] and Joint Nature Conservation Committee [JNCC] Breeding Bird Survey. Farmland bird numbers were also found to have risen substantially, whereas upland and wader species have seen considerable declines. Woodland birds with the greatest proliferations include the Great Spotted Woodpecker – up 530% – and the Chiffchaff, up an incredible 752%.
Heartened to hear about an ambitious project to reintroduce 11 locally extinct species to Dirk Hartog Island, off the coast of Western Australia. The ten mammals and one bird species were once endemic to the island, but their populations declined rapidly following overgrazing by introduced sheep and goats, and from predation by feral cats. The long-term goal of the ecological restoration project is to return the island’s ecosystem back to how it would have looked and functioned when Dutch explorer, Dirk Hartog, discovered it by chance in 1616. Continue reading Rewilding on Dirk Hartog Island→
Golden Toad. Charles H. Smith. Wikimedia Creative Commons
Today’s contemplation arose after reading about the sad demise of Rabbs’ fringe-limbed tree frog. The inevitability of this species’ extinction was particularly grim – but by no means unusual or surprising given the general health of amphibian populations across the world right now. They face unprecedented threats that include: fungal diseases, habitat modification and fragmentation, pollution and chemical contamination, climate change and ultraviolet radiation. Now almost half of all amphibian species are experiencing a population decline, with over a third threatened with extinction. Most alarmingly of all, at least 160 species are believed to have become extinct during the last two decades. Continue reading The Amphibian Extinction Crisis→
The words Pangolin and good news rarely appear in the same sentence, however, the world’s most trafficked mammal received much needed worldwide protection today at the CITES summit in South Africa. All species will now benefit from an absolute ban on their international trade with immediate effect, under the most stringent forms of CITES’ regulation. This status is well overdue, with over a million of the species having been slaughtered for their meat and scales over the last ten years. Continue reading More Protection For Pangolins→
Southern Scotland could once again become a stronghold for this majestic raptor, following over £1 million of funding having now been secured by the initiative from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project seeks to substantially boost their numbers in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, with just three breeding pairs believed to exist in the regions currently. If the plans come to fruition, a further sixteen breeding pairs could be released, reinforcing what is a most precarious population. Continue reading The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project→
A recent study has found that a number of Turkish Brown Bears migrate vast distances in search for food. It’s believed to be the first time this behaviour has been documented in this species. Of the 16 Brown Bears that were GPS-tracked around the town of Sarikamis, 6 were observed making seasonal migrations each year during September to November between feeding and hibernation sites. They left the Sarikamis Scots pine forest, which provides very little low-hanging fruit or nuts during these months, to oak woods with an abundance of food.