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Extinction Countdown

Extinction Countdown

News and research about endangered species from around the world
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    John R. Platt Twice a week, John Platt shines a light on endangered species from all over the globe, exploring not just why they are dying out but also what's being done to rescue them from oblivion. Follow on Twitter @johnrplatt.
  • Halloween Horrors: The Ghost Bat (aka the False Vampire Bat)

    ghost bat

    Something ghostly and hungry flies the skies of northern Australia. Its massive white wings stand out against the darkness as it circles, searching for prey. When it finds something tasty this unusual creature darts out of the sky, grabs its dinner in its claws, presses it to the ground and bites into the neck with [...]

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    African Lions Face Extinction by 2050, Could Gain Endangered Species Act Protection


    The African lion (Panthera leo leo) faces the threat of extinction by the year 2050, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe warned today. The sobering news came as part of the agency’s announcement that it has officially proposed that African lions receive much-needed protection under the Endangered Species Act. The decision to list [...]

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    Indian Vultures Are Dying for Some Good News

    white rumped vulture

    When a species experiences catastrophic population declines as high as 99.9 percent, any bit of good news is cause for celebration—even if the news isn’t exactly great. India’s vultures now have some. The birds were almost completely wiped out by a veterinary drug called diclofenac, but a new study finds that the number of deaths [...]

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    Sage Grouse and Oil Drilling Can Co-Exist, Says New Report

    greater sage grouse

    Conservation groups and energy-development companies have been at odds the last few years over an odd, dancing bird called the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). These land-based birds live in and rely upon sagebrush habitats in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Unfortunately, those habitats have been disappearing [...]

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    A Wild Idea: Save Tasmanian Devils While Controlling Killer Cats

    tasmanian devils

    Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) disappeared from mainland Australia centuries ago, probably not long after humans first brought dingoes to the continent. A new plan could bring the infamous, snarling predators back from the island of Tasmania to Oz. That would not only benefit the devils, which are dying out due to a communicable cancer, but [...]

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    Poison Dart Frog Threatened by Toxic Gold Mines

    dart frog

    A tiny species of poison dart frog barely the size of a human fingernail has been discovered in a pocket of forest in central Panama, but its unique chirps may not be heard for much longer. The new species—dubbed Andinobates geminisae—was discovered in 2011 by researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the Autonomous [...]

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    Elephants are Worth 76 Times More Alive Than Dead: Report


    Ivory from a poached elephant sells on the black market for about $21,000. A living elephant, on the other hand, is worth more than $1.6 million in ecotourism opportunities. That’s the conclusion of a new report from the The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. The report—“Dead or Alive? Valuing an Elephant” (pdf)—follows on the heels of [...]

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    Sloth Bears Confirmed Extinct in Bangladesh

    sloth bear

    A massive project to assess the health of wildlife in Bangladesh has confirmed conservationists’ longstanding suspicions that sloth bears no longer exist in that country. Sloth bears (Melursus ursinus) could once be found throughout India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. (A separate subspecies lives on the island nation of Sri Lanka.) Overhunting during the British colonial [...]

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    Deforestation Threatens Newly Identified Bird in Brazil

    Bahian mouse-colored tapaculo

    Discovering a new species isn’t always as easy as saying “Look, there’s a new species!” In the case of a rare bird recently identified in Brazil, it took about 20 years for scientists to gather enough evidence to classify it as a new species. The journey began in the early 1990s when scientists found an [...]

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    Mysterious Flying Squirrel Could Get Endangered Species Protection

    San Bernardino flying squirrel

    The squirrels gliding amid the mountains east of Los Angeles have been, for the most part, flying under the scientific radar. There has never been a single scientific paper published specifically about the San Bernardino flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus californicus), even though hundreds of papers about squirrels in general are published every year. Despite this [...]

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