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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.
  • 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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    Canine Distemper Could Wipe Out Siberian Tigers

    Amur tiger

    In 2001 a few tigers in Russia started to show signs of obvious distress. Endangered Amur (or Siberian) tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) were underweight, weak, disoriented and incapable of hunting as a result. At least four of the big cats had to be put down after they wandered into towns in search of food. One [...]

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    Rarest Kiwi Species Gets Breeding Boost

    rowi kiwi

    Fifty birds flew home last month. Now, 50 may not seem like much and flight might not sound all that unusual for birds, but we’re talking about the critically endangered rowi (Apteryx rowi), New Zealand’s scarcest kiwi species and one of the world’s rarest flightless birds. Rowi have had a rough time in the wild. [...]

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    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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