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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.
  • Rarely Seen Saharan Cheetah Revealed in Incredible Photos

    Saharan cheetah

    It’s not easy to get a glimpse of the critically endangered Saharan cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus hecki), the rarest of the six cheetah subspecies. Only about 200 to 250 of these nocturnal cats are thought to survive in remote pockets of Algeria, Niger, Togo, Mali, Benin and Burkina Faso, making them the rarest—and at the same [...]

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    Rescued Baby Orangutan Shines Light on Cruel, Illegal Pet Trade [Video]

    rescued orangutan

    The plight of an emaciated, possibly crippled baby orangutan has brought worldwide attention this week to the cruel practices that resulted in the endangered ape spending the first 10 months of his life in a chicken cage in Borneo. Budi, as the baby orangutan has come to be known, arrived at the Orangutan Rescue Center [...]

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    1,215: The Record Number of Rhinos Poached in 2014


    South Africa has finally finished compiling its report on the number of rhinos poached in the country last year and, as expected, the news is terrible. All-told, 1,215 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa in 2014, the highest number ever and an increase of 21 percent over 2013. By comparison, just 13 rhinos [...]

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    Venus Flytraps Risk Extinction in the Wild at the Hands of Poachers

    venus flytrap

    Earlier this month four men were arrested for poaching on the Holly Shelter Game Land preserve in North Carolina. Their arrest made national headlines, and history, as they became the first people charged with a felony for stealing Venus flytrap plants (Dionaea muscipula) from the wild. Yes, Venus flytrap poaching is a thing. Not only [...]

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    The Real Paddington Bear: Cute, Unique and Endangered

    spectacled bear sq

    As the new “Paddington” movie opens in U.S. theaters today, let’s take a look at the real-life endangered species that inspired author Michael Bond’s beloved books: the Andean spectacled bear. Species name: Andean or spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), sometimes referred to as the Andean short-faced bear for its unique abbreviated snout. The bears are the [...]

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    Mexican Wolves Finally Get Endangered Species Status

    mexican wolf

    North America’s smallest and rarest wolves will finally have the full protection of the Endangered Species Act. Well, almost. Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) nearly went extinct 40 years ago. After decades of hunting and persecution the last five wild members of the subspecies were rounded up in 1973 and placed in an emergency [...]

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    Teeny, Tiny Relative of Komodo Dragon Discovered in Australia


    Lizards don’t get much bigger than the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), which can reach three meters in length and may weigh as much as 70 kilograms. But not every member of the Varanus genus is a giant. Scientists in Australia last month unveiled the newest Varanus species and it’s as small as the Komodo is [...]

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    Monarch Butterflies Could Gain Endangered Species Protection

    monarch butterfly

    The flutter of a single butterfly’s wings may or may not be capable of causing tsunamis, but the loss of millions of butterflies is definitely being felt here in North America. Populations of the iconic and beloved monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus) have dropped an astonishing 96.5 percent over the past few decades, from an [...]

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    The Best (or Worst) of 2014

    northern white rhino

    I wrote more than 150 articles about endangered species in 2014. Very few of them could be considered “good news.” But be they good news or bad, here are some of the best “Extinction Countdown” articles of the past year. Shocking Study Finds Lions are Nearly Extinct in West Africa — One of the most-read [...]

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    Holiday Species Snapshot: Christmas Island Shrew

    christmas island shrew

    Many species don’t have anything to be thankful for this holiday season. Here’s one that may have already been lost. Species name: The Christmas Island shrew (Crocidura trichura) Where found: This miniscule mammal only exists—if it still exists at all—on Australia’s Christmas Island, a tiny dot in the Indian Ocean that is also home to [...]

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