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Extinction Countdown

Extinction Countdown

News and research about endangered species from around the world


AIDS-like retrovirus threatens Australia's koalas with extinction

Koalas ( Phascolarctos cinereus ) may be one of the world's cuter critters, but that doesn't mean they have it easy. Not only have koala populations become heavily fragmented due to habitat loss, they face numerous threats that they never encountered before: household cats and dogs frequently kill koalas; hundreds die every year after being run over by cars and trucks; and now a deadly virus is spreading to koalas throughout Australia.The koala retrovirus, which infects and alters the animal's DNA, has been linked to a variety of diseases and medical problems, including leukemia, bone marrow failure, cancer and AIDS-like immune deficiencies...

September 21, 2009 — John Platt

Should cheetahs be reintroduced in India?

Cheetahs ( Acinonyx jubatus ) may be the world's fastest land mammal, but that hasn't helped them escape their worst enemy: humans. The big cats have been hunted to extinction in 15 countries, and their remaining African and Asian populations currently face genetic weaknesses, such as low sperm counts and deformed tails, because of inbreeding.Now, controversial efforts are underway to return the cheetah to India, the nation that gave the species its name ( citrakaya in Sanskrit)...

September 16, 2009 — John Platt

Last chance to save the Christmas Island bat fails; Species doomed to extinction?

Well folks, it looks like this is it for the Christmas Island pipistrelle bat ( Pipistrellus murrayi ). This critically endangered species of microbat now appears to be doomed to impending extinction as last-gasp efforts to capture the few remaining bats and place them in a captive breeding program have failed.Eight scientists, along with volunteers from the Australasian Bat Society, spent the last four weeks on Christmas Island (a territory of Australia in the Indian Ocean), but were unable to capture a single bat."We knew it was a battle against the odds, as the bats have learned to avoid traps and are very difficult to catch," says Peter Garrett, Australia's minister for environment (and former Midnight Oil singer)...

September 8, 2009 — John Platt

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