30 Biggest Stories of the Year in Animal Conservation and Extinctions
By Jaymi Heimbuch, Treehugger, 12 December 2012.
By Jaymi Heimbuch, Treehugger, 12 December 2012.
The Best of 2012 in Animal News
2012 has been a roller coaster of a year for animal news. Here we've rounded-up the top stories for successes in conservation, discoveries and extinctions of species, red alerts for worrying trends we can turn around if we act quickly, and the best photo galleries of animals living and extinct. Thankfully there is more good news than bad news rounded up here.
So don't be discouraged with the troubling news – read on because there is lots to be happy about despite the losses we've endured during 2012.
Credit: Franco Folini
As the planet gets hotter, a minimum of 9 percent of animals in the Western Hemisphere - and up to 40 percent in some areas - will not be able to migrate quickly enough to new, suitable habitat. They literally won't be able to outrun climate change.
2. Good News: Endangered Green Turtle Baby Boom Breaks 28-year Record
Credit: USFWS Southeast
Green sea turtle numbers are showing signs that years of conservation efforts are starting to pay off. Conservation International has announced that over 1.4 million green turtle eggs were laid last year in 14,220 nests on Baguan Island of Turtle Islands, Tawi-Tawi. This is an all-time high since 1984 when recording began.
KittyCam is a project put together by University of Georgia and the National Geographic Society's Crittercam, the same technology used for tracking wildlife as diverse as elephant seals and sea turtles. This time, instead of wild animals the technology was applied to our domestic cats - the lap-sized lions that hunt untold numbers of birds.
4. News in Photos: A Glimpse of What We've Lost: 10 Extinct Animals in Photos
Credit: Unknown photographer, 1933
It's amazing the unique and interesting species that we can now see only in these old, faded photographs. Check out this slideshow featuring some phenomenal lost species.
Though the total population is comprised of 179 individuals living in zoos, and 226 living in the wild, the progress that has been made so far to save this species is encouraging. However, the condor is not out of the woods yet.
The tree ocelot will almost certainly go extinct. Credit: Wikimedia commons
Imagine we halted Amazon deforestation today. Even if this miracle were to happen, a new study shows there are still many species that have been impacted by habitat loss so severely that we cannot save them from extinction.
Credit: David Berkowitz
Five key nations pulled together in an unprecedented alliance to create the world's largest conservation area. Thanks to this new protected zone, wildlife in Africa will be able to get around much more freely - and safely.
8. News in Photos: Florida Manatees Face a Tough Battle Against Boats and Climate Change
Credit: Rebecca Jackrel
Conservation photographer Rebecca Jackrel visited Florida in February to spend time with these gentle giants. Here are some of her fantastic photos documenting manatees and their plight.
According to a new survey, the tropical waters of the Eastern Pacific may represent the next epicentre for marine extinctions.
In the first ever study using satellite tracking of these "devilfish" scientists found that giant Manta Rays travel. A lot. And it's no wonder - these animals grow up to 25 feet wide and are filter feeders, collecting tiny zooplankton and fish eggs as they swim through the water. It takes a whole lot of zooplankton to feed these guys but their travel habits weren't widely known. Until now.
Credit: Rebecca Jackrel
Tasmanian Devils are facing a devilish disease that could wipe them out within decades. Called the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD), the problem is a contagious cancer that causes huge lesions to form on the face. It has killed more than 80% of Tasmanian devils since 1996 and there has been an 84% decrease in devil sightings across Tasmania as of February 2011. The Tasmanian devil has been listed as an endangered species.
12. News in Photos: Species and Habitats Being Saved by Google Earth
Google Earth has proven itself to be more than just a way to travel the world from your desk, it's become a real tool for conservation and preservation of species and habitats in amazing ways.
13. Good News: Ocean Expedition Uncovers a Million New Species
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Stephen Messenger reports, "For two and half years, the crew of the French vessel Tara surveyed the ocean depths for new life forms, and boy did they find plenty. According to researchers, their exploration yielded a more than a million preciously undiscovered aquatic species - ranging from several new types of fish and squid, to a multitude of microscopic organisms, like plankton."
Credit: prb10111 – awol
A sad story reported by David Defranzo, "In 2006, there were possibly as many as 15 northern white rhino left in the wild - and, spearheaded by renowned conservationist Lawrence Anthony, a strong movement to protect the species. Today, the white rhino is thought to be extinct in the wild. What happened in those six years is a tragic example of the challenges conservation initiatives face around the world."
15. Good News: Saving the "Modern Day Unicorn" from Extinction
One of the rarest and most elusive animals on the planet is the saola, a relative of the ox though it looks closer to a deer or antelope with it's dainty features and two distinctive horns. Two years ago, the species made news after the capture of a saola in Annamite Mountains, an event that almost never happens. While the animal died shortly after being captured, it has helped conservationists understand much more about this virtually unknown mammal.
According to Lester Brown, "With the wild catch no longer increasing, aquaculture has emerged as the world’s fastest-growing animal protein source, soon to overtake beef in total tonnage... But a commonly cited drawback of aquaculture is that wild-caught forage fish - smaller plankton consumers that support the higher levels of the food chain - are often turned into fishmeal and oil used to feed farmed predatory fish, such as salmon and shrimp."
17. News in Photos: 10 Amazing but Endangered Shark Species: How Many Do You Know?
Credit: Chris Gotschalk
There is an astounding variety of shapes, sizes and even diets among sharks, but one thing most species have in common is how quickly they are disappearing.
18. Good News: World's Rarest Gorilla Caught on Film in Cameroon
Stephen Messenger reports, "Cross River gorillas rank among the world's most endangered and elusive species. Numbering as few as 250 individuals, the rarest of African apes has scarcely been observed in the wild, even by those committed to studying their behaviour. But now, for one of the first times ever, the Cross River gorilla's haunting beauty and incredible strength have been caught on film in the wild."
19. Bad News: Extinction Rates Soar in Brazil's Fragmented Forests
Credit: Stephen Messenger
Researchers surveyed wildlife populations in 196 isolated patches of Atlantic Forests. But sadly, the formerly thriving hotspot of biodiversity was found to be hotbed of extinction.
20. Red Alert: Sumatran Elephants Could Be Extinct Within 30 Years
"Over the next three decades, the human population is projected to reach 9 billion people. In that same time, Sumatran elephants, currently numbering around 2,500 members, are expected to reach zero," reports Stephen Messenger.
21. Good News: How Mobile Marine Reserves Could Save the Seas
Credit: Angell Williams
"The areas designated as no-trawling zones would be identified based on the presence of conditions conducive to marine life and could change based on seasonal migrations, ocean currents, and weather systems like El Niño," writes Jennifer Hattam.
22. News in Photos: 10 Marine Species on the Brink of Mass Extinction Due to Ocean Acidification
Adding carbon to the atmosphere contributes to global warming and climate change. Another less-discussed impact is ocean acidification - whereby carbon molecules diffuse into the ocean from the atmosphere, causing a steady rise in acidity - even though the impacts are already being felt by many species.
23. Good News: Drones to Join the Fight Against Poaching in Nepal
World Wildlife Fund had a "world's first" when they set plans in motion to deploy a small fleet of unmanned aircraft to monitor Nepal's sprawling southern plains to monitor for poaching of endangered species.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
"Sad news out of the Isle Royale National Park, way up in Michigan, where scientists say there's only one female grey wolf left in the nine that still roam a chain of islands in western Lake Superior. It's the lowest population ever recorded there, in 54 years," reports Jeff Kart.
25. Red Alert: Poaching Threatens Malaysia's Tiger Conservation Goals
"Malaysia - along with the world's 12 other tiger range countries - agreed, in 2010, to take measures to double their wild tiger populations by 2020. So far, for Malaysia, which had an estimated 500 wild tigers, the goal is proving more difficult than previously expected - and poaching is, not surprisingly, one of the major challenges," writes David Defranza.
26. Good News: Monkey Thought Extinct is Rediscovered in Indonesia
It's a wonder what we learn about the world thanks to the technology of camera traps - including the living members of a species long thought to have disappeared like the Miller's grizzled langur.
27. News in Photos: Giraffes? Horses? Squirrels?? 20 Animals You Didn't Know Are Going Extinct
When it comes to the Endangered Species List, some animals stand out as celebrities: polar bears, giant pandas, rhinos, snow leopards... But sadly, the list is so extensive that there are many species you may never have suspected are endangered. Here are twenty of them. We wrote about these animals earlier this week, but sometimes it's nice to read about them one by one. So click through, be surprised, and hopefully also be inspired to act.
28. Red Alert: Rhinos May be Extinct in South Africa by 2015
A renowned rhino activists has issued an estimate that, at current rates, the rhinoceros will be extinct in South Africa by 2015.
29. Red Alert: Climate Change May Kill Off 900 Bird Species By 2100
Credit: Matt MacGillivray
Scientists say climate change is likely to drive up to 900 bird species into extinction by the end of the century unless additional conservation measures are taken.
30. Good News: 12 Innovative Ways Technology is Saving Endangered Species
Credit: William Burrard-Lucas
Our human tendency toward innovation and ingenuity, coupled with our advancing technology, is helping to come up with solutions for saving some of the other species on Earth from becoming endangered, or even extinct. From low-tech ideas used in novel ways, to altogether new technology used in place of older versions, there's a wide variety of concepts for using science and tech and gadgetry to preserve endangered species.
[Source: Treehugger. Edited.]