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 articles ever to appear here, and one of the most devastating that I have ever had to write.
Only 4 Northern White Rhinos Remain in Africa: Inside the Last Attempts to Breed and Save Them — I started off the year with this look at the species that most embodies Extinction Countdown. I ended with news that the species continues to slowly but surely disappear. Someday soon I shall write this species's obituary.
New Crocodile Species Discovered in West Africa — You never know what you'll find until you look.
Kakapo Baby Boom in New Zealand: First New Chicks in 3 Years — The kakapo remains one of my favorite species. They continue to hang on, although recent research reveals that they have a very high level of inbreeding that could threatened them further in the future.
Microjewels: Stunningly Beautiful Snails Going Extinct as Soon as They Are Discovered — Another of my all-time most popular articles.
Alligator Snapping Turtles, the Dinosaurs of the Turtle World, Are Actually 3 at-Risk Species — Sometimes the truth is hidden in plain sight.
Giant Tusked Insect Saved from Extinction (Just in the Nick of Time) — I love a good success story. Too bad there aren't more of them.
Sea Turtle Hatchlings Saved by LED Lights Funded by Deepwater Horizon Fines — I wrote about sea turtles a lot in 2014. Expect that to continue.
Found: A Snake Species No One Believed Existed — Science and perseverance for the win!
Endangered Manatees Face a New Threat: Lawsuits — Because freedom.
Giraffes under Threat: Populations Down 40 Percent in Just 15 Years — The article of the year? No one else seemed to take notice of giraffes' extinction crisis until I wrote this article and another one more specifically about poaching for TakePart. After that at least 100 publications around the world carried similar articles. I hope they all made a collective impact that will help giraffes in the future.
Well, that's it for 2014. It turns out the list really did contain a few good-news stories. Hopefully there will be more of them in the coming year. We'll see.
Photo: San Diego Zoo Global