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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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Kakapo Baby Boom in New Zealand: First New Chicks in 3 Years [Video]


Kakapo (Strigops habroptila), the critically endangered flightless parrots of New Zealand, have an unusual mating ritual. In the rare years when the birds breed, the males climb to the tops of hills, breathe in so deeply they swell up like balloons and then let out a series of deep, rhythmic booms that can be heard [...]

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Egg Swap for Operatic New Zealand Birds a Success, but Invasive Predators Create Discord

kokako david cook sq

New Zealand used to be home to two subspecies of the rare birds known as kōkako (Callaeas cinereus). Today only one subspecies remains. The South Island kōkako was last seen in 1967 and was finally declared extinct six years ago. Conservationists are determined to save the remaining subspecies, which can still be found in the [...]

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To Save the Sumatran Rhino, Zoo Will Attempt to Mate Brother and Sister

sumatran rhino dumont sq

Sometimes you just get desperate. In a last-ditch effort to help save the Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) from extinction, the Cincinnati Zoo has gathered together the last two members of the species in North America and will now attempt to get them to mate. There’s just one catch: the rhinos are brother and sister. Normally [...]

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After 100 Years, Has the Elusive Night Parrot Finally Been Discovered?

night parrot

An Australian man who calls himself “the wild detective” claims to have rediscovered a bird species that has never been photographed alive. Has the long-lost night parrot at last been found? Among Australian scientists and bird-lovers, the elusive night parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis) has been something of a Holy Grail. The small, ground-dwelling parrots all but [...]

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Deadly Snakes, Ugly Critters, Leonardo DiCaprio and Other Links from the Brink

Bothriechis guifarroi

A deadly but critically endangered snake, one of the world’s rarest birds and a heavily guarded flower are among the endangered species in the news this week. A New Snake with a Sad Story: A gorgeous but extremely dangerous new snake species has been discovered in Honduras. The new palm pit viper has been named [...]

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Critically Endangered Parakeet Population Grows on Predator-Free Island Reserve

Malherbe's parakeet

Few people have ever seen a critically endangered Malherbe’s parakeet (Cyanoramphus malherbi) in the wild. Luis Ortiz-Catedral has not only seen more of the birds than just about anyone else, one of them has landed on his head. He has also witnessed something that almost no one else has ever seen among this species: mating. [...]

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Dung from Critically Endangered Kakapo Parrots Could Save Endangered Plant


A fossilized sample of thousand-year-old parrot dung has revealed a previously unknown ecological relationship that could help save a threatened parasitic plant from extinction. Yup, conservation science is sometimes weird. The plant in question is called Dactylanthus taylorii (aka wood rose or Hades flower). A parasitic plant that only grows on the roots of about [...]

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Accidental Kakapo Death Lowers Population of Rare, Flightless Parrots to 127 Birds


The death of an adult female kakapo (Strigops habroptila) on New Zealand’s Anchor Island this past weekend brings the population of these rare flightless parrots down to just 127 birds. The late kakapo, known as Sandra, was killed when her transmitter harness got entangled in a tree. All kakapos are outfitted with transmitters to help [...]

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Australian mathematicians say some endangered species “not worth saving”

Some endangered species on the brink of extinction might not be worth saving, according to a new algorithm developed by researchers at the University of Adelaide and James Cook University, both in Australia. Dubbed the SAFE (species’ ability to forestall extinction) index, the formula takes current and minimum viable population sizes into account to determine [...]

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Does the smelly kiwi need deodorant to protect it from predators?

Does the natural mushroom-like smell of the kiwi bird help to make it a tempting target for the predators that are eating it out of existence? One scientist thinks so, and he is proposing a deodorant of some kind to protect the birds from extinction. With all five kiwi species endangered, this is research that [...]

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