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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.
  • Could Extinct Clouded Leopards Be Reintroduced in Taiwan?

    formosan clouded leopard

    Two years ago, after an intense 13-year quest, scientists concluded that the Formosan clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa brachyura) had gone extinct in Taiwan. But a new paper by the same scientists contains an interesting revelation: The island nation’s ecology has improved so much since the leopards disappeared that they might once again thrive there. Clouded [...]

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    Another Northern White Rhino Dies, Only 5 Remain

    northern white rhino

    And then there were five. The death by old age this past weekend of Angalifu, a 44-year-old northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) that lived at San Diego Zoo, reduces the world population of this critically endangered subspecies to just five, all of which live in captivity and none of which are breeding. One more [...]

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    Butt-Breathing Turtle Now Critically Endangered

    butt-breathing turtle

    Few reptiles can breathe underwater. Australia is home to one of the exceptions, the white-throated snapping turtle (Elseya albagula), which can extract oxygen from water through its backside via a process called cloacal respiration. This unusual technique, shared by a handful of other turtle and fish species, gave the turtles an evolutionary advantage for millennia, [...]

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    Rare Iguana is Endangered Because People Like to Eat Egg-Carrying Females

    Valle de Aguán spiny-tailed iguana

    It’s a simple equation, really: If a species can’t reproduce, it will go extinct. A critically endangered species in Honduras faces that risk in a notable way. It turns out that the people who coexist with Valle de Aguán spiny-tailed iguanas (Ctenosaura melanosterna) not only like to eat the lizards they prefer the taste of [...]

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    As Sea Ice Disappears, Arctic Ringed Seals Could Get Largest Critical Habitat Ever

    arctic ringed seal

    Arctic ringed seals (Phoca hispida hispida) could soon get a critical habitat more than twice the size of California within the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort seas. Under rules (pdf) proposed this week by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the seals could have more than 900,000 square kilometers of protected waters. The seals were declared threatened [...]

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    Giraffes under Threat: Populations Down 40 Percent in Just 15 Years


    One of the world’s most iconic and beloved animals is quickly disappearing. Fifteen years ago about 140,000 giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) roamed the plains and forests of Africa. Today that number has plummeted by more than 40 percent, according to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF). As with so many other species, the causes of this decline [...]

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    Life on the Volcano Is Increasingly Tough for These Hawaiian Birds


    You have to hike a pretty long distance if you hope to see the critically endangered bird known as the palila (Loxioides bailleui), but if you’re lucky and work hard, you can walk their entire habitat in a single day. That’s because these beautiful yellow-headed birds live in just one place on Earth: the upper [...]

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    Bluefin Tuna, Chinese Cobra and Others Added to Red List of Threatened Species

    Bluefit tuna

    The latest update to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species was published Monday and, as you can imagine, it wasn’t good news. The Red List, the global inventory of species, now identifies 22,413 species as threatened with extinction around the world. Some of the most notable of the 310 additions to the Red List [...]

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    Critically Endangered Gecko Discovered in Madagascar

    Paroedura hordiesi

    The island of Madagascar is home to a pretty amazing and diverse collection of geckos, with nearly 70 species from 10 different genera. Now you can add one more species to the list: Paroedura hordiesi, a highly camouflaged nocturnal gecko that was recently discovered in northern Madagascar. It was described this week in Zoosystematics and [...]

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    Mapping Mistake Threatens 1,400 Chimpanzees and Newly Discovered Endangered Plant

    Chimp in tree

    How’s this for irony?: A newly discovered plant named after the reserve in which it is supposedly found is endangered because the reserve isn’t actually located where people thought it was. According to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the new plant—Dorstenia luamensis, which was discovered in 2012 and described last month in the journal PhotoKeys—was [...]

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