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If Apes Go Extinct, So Could Entire Forests


Bonobo poop matters. Well, maybe not the poop itself, but what’s in it. You see, bonobos eat a lot of fruit, and fruit contains seeds. Those seeds travel through a bonobo’s digestive system while the bonobo itself travels through the landscape. A few hours later, the seeds end up being deposited far from where the [...]

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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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Sunday Species Snapshot: Coquerel’s Sifaka

Coquerel's Sifaka

These medium-sized lemurs, known for their delightful leaping ability, were only recognized as their own species in 2001, which undoubtedly slowed conservation efforts. Species name: Coquerel’s sifaka (Propithecus coquereli) Where found: Two “protected” forests in northwest Madagascar: Ankarafantsika National Park and the Bora Special Reserve. In reality, the legal protections the lemurs enjoy in these [...]

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Shocking Study Finds Lions are Nearly Extinct in West Africa

west african lion

Physically and emotionally demanding. That’s how Philipp Henschel, Lion Program Survey Coordinator for the big-cat conservation organization Panthera, describes the six years he and other researchers spent combing the wilds of 17 nations looking for the elusive and rarely studied West African lion. The results of their quest were disheartening to say the least. Back [...]

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‘Forest Giraffe’ Now Endangered: Okapi Populations Drop 50 Percent in 18 Years


Better late than never? This week the International Union for Conservation of Natural Resources, which publishes the IUCN Red List of threatened species, listed the rare and iconic okapi (Okapia johnstoni) as endangered, something the organization acknowledges should have been done back in 2008. The brown-and-white striped forest-dwelling species—which looks vaguely like a zebra but [...]

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Pangolins in Peril: All 8 Species of Scaly Anteaters Endangered by Illegal Trade


Dan Challender remembers the first time he saw someone eat a pangolin. As part of his research into the consumer demand and illegal trade of the small mammals—often referred to as scaly anteaters—he found himself in a restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City in 2012. To help his research Challender made friends with the restaurant [...]

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Habitat Running Out for Rare Primate in Cameroon

Mandrillus leucophaeus

Primates don’t get much more spectacular than the furry, short-tailed, long-faced, pink-rumped monkeys known as drills (Mandrillus leucophaeus). But despite their striking looks, drills—which are closely related to baboons and the even more wildly colored, blue-faced mandrills (M. sphinx)—have not fared well in the wild over the past few decades. Drills have become one of [...]

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A Monkey with Human Eyes and Other Links from the Brink


A winning snail, an unusual monkey and abused manatees are among the endangered species in the news this week. Best News of the Week: The Magazine Mountain shagreen snail (Inflectarius magazinensis) has become the first invertebrate protected by the Endangered Species Act to fully recover. The snail has now been removed from the endangered species [...]

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Great Apes in Crisis: Thousands Poached and Stolen from the Wild Annually

caged chimpanzee

Nearly 3,000 chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos and orangutans are illegally killed or stolen from the wild each year, according to a new report from the United Nations Environmental Programme’s (UNEP) Great Apes Survival Partnership (GASP). The report, released to coincide with this week’s meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna [...]

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African Lions Move Closer to U.S. Endangered Species Act Protection

african lion

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that African lions (Panthera leo leo) may deserve protected status under the Endangered Species Act. The decision, published November 27 in the Federal Register, comes in response to a petition (pdf) filed in March 2011 by five conservation groups that argued that American hunters pose a [...]

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Habitat Loss, Misinformation Spur Chimpanzee Aggression


As tens of thousands of refugees crowd into the area around Virunga National Park in the warn-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the animals that already lived there are getting squeezed out their native habitats. Some of them apparently aren’t too happy about it. Incidents of chimpanzee attacks on humans are reportedly on the [...]

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Rhino Poaching: An Extinction Crisis

white rhinoceros

In 2010 a black rhinoceros female named Phila survived two separate and brutal attempts on her life. In the first, poachers used a helicopter to attack the private game reserve where she lived in South Africa. Another rhino died in the assault. Phila escaped with two gunshot wounds. She was lucky, but her ordeal was [...]

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Eye in the Sky: Drones Help Conserve Sumatran Orangutans and Other Wildlife

drone launch

What better way to study the world’s largest arboreal animals than by putting an eye in the sky? A team of scientists working in Indonesia has done just that by launching inexpensive unmanned aerial vehicles (aka drone airplanes), to study critically endangered Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) from above the treetops. The technology is already being [...]

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Ted Turner Donates $1 Million to Help Endangered Gorillas


Billionaire media mogul Ted Turner has made a $1 million donation to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International to help support a new initiative to save endangered Grauer’s gorillas (also known as eastern lowland gorillas, Gorilla beringei graueri), a subspecies living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) whose population is on the decline. [...]

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Critically Endangered Cross River Gorillas May Have More Room to Grow

cross river gorilla

With a population numbering fewer than 300 individuals, Cross River gorillas (Gorilla gorilla diehli) are the rarest and most endangered of the world’s four gorilla subspecies. Although they remain threatened by habitat loss and illegal bushmeat hunting, new research shows the gorillas have a bit more potential habitat to roam, and in fact inhabit a [...]

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Caught on Video: Endangered Pygmy Hippo Seen Slipping through Nighttime Liberia

pygmy hippo

Scientists have captured video images of a wild pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis), a rare and elusive nocturnal species that has rarely been observed in its natural habitat in Liberia. Western scientists and zookeepers have been aware of the pygmy hippopotamus for more than a century, and the species breeds well in captivity, but very little [...]

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Emergency Action Plan Aims to Help the World’s Most Endangered Chimpanzee

Earlier this month, scientists for the Pan African Sanctuaries Alliance presented new research that predicted the extinction of the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti), the world’s rarest chimpanzee subspecies, within as little as 20 years. Now, just a few weeks later, a conservation plan written by primate experts from 17 conservation groups and government agencies [...]

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Farming Rats and Bees Could Solve Bushmeat Crisis in Africa, Experts Say

Bees in a Kenyan top bar, a type of man-made beehive used for beekeeping in Africa

The rising and often illegal trade in bushmeat—wild-caught animals, often threatened species such as primates, birds and elephants—threatens African biodiversity and could drive numerous species into extinction. Finding replacements for that trade could solve the need for both income and subsistence in many African communities. The answer, according to experts speaking at a meeting held [...]

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African lion may be added to U.S. endangered species list to curb American trophy hunters

African lion roaring

A coalition of conservation groups filed a petition Tuesday to list the African lion (Panthera leo) as a protected species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), citing the American appetite for sports hunting and lion products—such as lion-skin rugs—as major factors in the big cat’s decline. The petition was filed by the International Fund [...]

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Humans are more at risk from diseases as biodiversity disappears

People often ask me, "Why should I care if a species goes extinct? It’s not essential to my daily life, is it?" Well, according to new research published December 2 in Nature, the answer is yes—healthy biodiversity is essential to human health. As species disappear, infectious diseases rise in humans and throughout the animal kingdom, [...]

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Unfair trade: A week in the world of illegal wildlife trafficking

frozen pangolins

Illegal trade in endangered species continues to grow around the world. How big is the problem? Here are 10 major cases that have hit the media in just the past week: Six pallets containing 765 kilograms of elephant tusks worth an estimated $1.2 million were seized in Thailand July 13. The shipment contained 117 tusks, [...]

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Snails and endangered gorillas: Perfect together?

Cross River gorilla

How do you save critically endangered gorillas? One idea, currently being tested by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), is to introduce snails to Nigeria. More specifically, snail farming. The idea is that snail farming could provide both a revenue stream and a new source of protein for Nigerians, making the poaching of gorillas less attractive. [...]

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Gorillas in the list: New extinction fears for central African gorillas

ross river gorilla

Illegal logging, the bushmeat trade, mining, the charcoal trade and a new strain of the Ebola virus could drive gorillas into extinction in central Africa in as little as 15 years, according to a new report from the U.N. and Interpol. Three of the four gorilla subspecies are already considered critically endangered, and the fourth [...]

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Genetic testing may become a new weapon in the fight against chimpanzee smugglers


DNA testing could be used as a tool to help fight smuggling of endangered chimpanzees, according to a study published this week in the journal BMC Ecology. Although they are still the most common apes in Africa, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes and their related subspecies) have experienced population drops of around 75 percent in the past [...]

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In 100 Heartbeats Jeff Corwin tackles causes and costs of species extinctions

jeff corwin 100 heartbeats endangered species book

Conservationist Jeff Corwin is known for often bringing a goofy passion to his television projects for Animal Planet and other networks. His latest effort displays no less passion, but switches out most of the jokes for gravitas. 100 Heartbeats: The Race to save Earth’s Most Endangered Species, Corwin’s new book and accompanying MSNBC documentary, is [...]

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DNA bar codes, a new tool for tracking illegal wildlife trade

illegally traded bushmeat products

The illegal trade of bushmeat—meat and products made from wildlife—has grown dramatically in the past several years, thanks to high demand, enormous profits, a lack of law enforcement and minimal sentencing for criminals caught trafficking in bushmeat. The worldwide market for these illegal products reached an estimated $5 billion to $8 billion in 2008. One [...]

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Lemur poaching on the rise due to unrest in Madagascar

crowned lemur

Endangered lemurs have become luxury items on the menus of some Madagascar restaurants, reports Conservation International (CI) and its local partner, the environmental nonprofit Fanamby. The Indian Ocean island nation has experienced political upheaval in recent months, with its president stepping down in March under intense pressure. The unrest has resulted in Madagascar’s suspension from [...]

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