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Extinction Countdown

Extinction Countdown


News and research about endangered species from around the world
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  • Profile

    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.
  • 100 Years Ago Today

    passenger pigeon

    Today marks a sad centennial: the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius), a species once so abundant that their flocks blacked out the skies of North America. Today the only passenger pigeons that remain are a handful of preserved specimens gathering dust in museum drawers and exhibits. These stuffed and [...]

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    10 Years of Extinction Countdown: A Lot of Good in the Face of Mass Losses

    mountain gorilla

    Ten years. Nearly 1,200 articles. I have no idea how many species. I have no idea how many tears. *** When I started what was then called “Extinction Blog” on August 19, 2004, I didn’t know what it would become, let who I would be a decade later. To be honest, I didn’t set out [...]

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    Vaquita Porpoise about to Go Extinct, Only 97 Remain

    vaquita

    Millions of dollars and two decades of conservation efforts have failed to protect the Gulf of California’s critically endangered vaquita porpoise (Phocoena sinus). Two years ago this species’s population was estimated at 200. Today it has plummeted to just 97. Fewer than 25 of those that remain are thought to be females capable of reproducing [...]

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    Nearly Extinct Mussel Gets One Last Chance at Survival

    purple cat's paw mussels

    Freshwater mussels have a particularly unusual system of reproduction. Males release their sperm into the water with the hope that a nearby female will siphon them up to fertilize her eggs. Once fertilization occurs, the female produces larvae called glochidia, which she then releases back into the water. At this point the mother is out [...]

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    All 8 Pangolin Species Being Eaten into Extinction

    ground pangolin

    A few days ago customs officials in Vietnam raided a cargo ship from Sierra Leone and seized an astonishing 1.4 tons of dried pangolin scales. The grisly discovery came from the bodies of as many as 10,000 dead pangolins, the scaly anteaters of Africa and Asia that are being hunted into extinction for their meat [...]

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    Somali Ostrich and 360 Other Newly Discovered Birds Added to List of Threatened Species

    somali ostrich

    Did you know there are two species of ostrich? Don’t worry if this is news to you—scientists didn’t know that for sure either until this year, when the Somali ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes) of Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti and Kenya was declared a separate species from the common ostrich (S. camelus). Previously considered a subspecies, the Somali [...]

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    Wild Births are Big Steps for Rare California Condors and Mexican Wolves

    california condor

    Two species that couldn’t be more different have had similarly good news this week. First we go to Utah’s Zion National Park, where a pair of California condors (Gymnogyps californianus) successfully hatched a chick in a nest more than 300 meters off the ground. This is the first wild condor birth in Utah since the [...]

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    Baby Mountain Gorillas Celebrated by 40,000 People in Rwanda

    mountain gorilla baby

    Well I just found something to add to my bucket list. Earlier this month 40,000 people gathered in Rwanda for the 10th Kwita Izina, the annual ceremony that celebrates and names all of the known mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) born during the previous year in the Virunga National Park Transboundary Collaboration, which stretches across [...]

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    Tiger Skins Are Like Fingerprints—Could That Help Stop Smugglers and Poachers?

    tiger

    Last month forest rangers in India arrested a 21-year-old engineering student and his friend who had been caught carrying a tiger skin that they intended to sell for nearly $25,000. A few days earlier Indonesian police raided the homes of two suspected wildlife traffickers, where they confiscated a small menagerie of live animals, a number [...]

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    Why Is Namibia Killing Its Rare Desert Elephants?

    desert elephant

    On Saturday, June 21 one of the Republic of Namibia’s rare desert elephants was felled by a hunter’s rifle. Unlike most of the other elephants that die on any given day in Africa, this particular elephant was slain legally. Namibia has reportedly sold nine hunting permits to foreign hunters for undisclosed amounts. Two of the [...]

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