Rhinos, cheetahs, gray wolves and frogs are among the endangered species in the news this week.
Worst News of the Week: All of the rhinos in Mozambique's Limpopo National Park have been completely wiped out by poachers, who are now turning their effort to the park's elephants. The 1.1 million hectare park is the size of Rhode Island, which would make it hard to patrol even if some of the park's employees were not complicit in the crimes. Park director António Abacar told reporters that 30 employees are being "disciplined" for working with poachers.
Second-Worst News of the Week: Experts are warning that cheetahs could be extinct in the wild by the year 2030 because they do not adapt well to life on wildlife reserves. I expect I'll be covering this more in the coming weeks.
Third-Worst News of the Week: The Los Angeles Times has uncovered draft documents that say the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service intends to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list in the lower 48, which would really mean everywhere, since they're already not protected in Alaska. Wolf-range states, livestock owners and pro-hunting groups have long argued that wolves are recovered; conservationists and many scientists disagree. I guess this move isn't all that surprising – wolves has been losing their protected status bit by bit for years – but it's a sad state of affairs for a species that we spent decades and millions of dollars to recover and which has already become a favorite target of hunters.
Okay, with all of that bad news out of the way, let's change the tone a bit.
Hop to it: Today is the fifth annual Save the Frogs Day. Check out their website for lots of local events and activities and ways you can help save the planet's endangered amphibians.
Pretty Penny: An egg from an extinct elephant bird has sold for $101.813 to an anonymous buyer. At least someone valued the species after it died off.
Cute and Talented: The winners of the annual Endangered Species Day Youth Art Contest have been announced. As Grist puts it, this year's winners are "absurdly good."
Cute and Sad: Durrell Wildlife Park has teamed up with Aardman Animations, the team behind the fabulous Wallace & Gromit and Creature Comfort films, for a melancholy video called The Last Dodo. The cartoon is intended to raise both awareness about extinction and funds for Durrell. The BBC has the story behind the film, which you can watch below:
Satire! The Tatooine womp rat has been declared extinct. Luke Skywalker is to blame.
Well, that's it for this time around. For more endangered species news stories throughout the week, read the regular Extinction Countdown articles here at Scientific American, "like" Extinction Countdown on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.