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Found 8 results

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/12/elephants-are-the-end-of-a-60-million-year-lineage-the-last-of-the-megaherbivores https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/12/elephants-on-the-path-to-extinction-the-facts ~ This pair of articles from the U.K. Guardian discuss the ancient lineage of elephants, incluging pygmy elephants on Mediterranean islands and 4-tusked elephants on the Arabian Peninsula. As mega-herbivores and keystone species, elephant survival is critical, despite the ongoing threats of habitat loss and poaching for ivory.
  2. I’ve just been reading this interesting paper on black rhino genetics a subject that was evidently poorly understood, piecing together the genetic history of these animals has been made very difficult due to the rapid and catastrophic decline in their population. Extinctions, genetic erosion and conservation options for the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) It is interesting to see the distribution that they have gone with; I believe there is s till a question mark over the distribution of black rhinos in West Africa, my understanding is that there is really still no definitive proof for the presence of black rhinos further west than North Eastern Nigeria and the far west of Niger basically the region around Lake Chad. Whereas their map shows rhinos as far west as Benin and Burkina Faso, some other maps online show rhinos as far west as Senegal. The only actual evidence of black rhinos much further west than Lake Chad is some rhino spoor that the 19th century German explorer Heinrich Barth allegedly found on the east bank of the Niger River in 1853, I would guess somewhere between Niamey and ‘W’ National Park. Barth was familiar with rhinos having encountered them near Lake Chad but did not believe they occurred so far west he never saw the actual animal only its spoor. This is of course all sadly somewhat academic now as black rhinos are entirely extinct in Western and Central Africa now, the rhinos due to be reintroduced into Zakouma NP in Chad next year will be coming from South Africa I’m not sure if I’ve posted this before but here’s a paper on the distribution of the black rhino in West Africa. Historical distribution of the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) in West Africa
  3. I have always been a bird-watcher. Other than the Crowned Eagle, vultures have always been my favourite group of birds. They're charismatic, comical, regal (yes), beautiful (oh yes), full of character, and a MAJOR keystone group for ecosystems across the globe. If White Rhinos were to go extinct, not a whole lot would change. Other large browsers would continue to fill their role in the ecosystem. When vultures almost went extinct in India recently, the government had to fork out $40 Billion dollars in human healthcare costs alone due to the rise in infectious diseases (rabies, anthrax, etc.) spread by the exploding population of feral dogs. You see, 100 vultures can strip a wildebeest carcass down to bare bones in less than an hour. If that wildebeest carcass contains Bovine TB or Anthrax, the acid in the vultures gut kills it - effectively removing it from the system. Without those vultures, it will take mammalian scavengers several days to break down the carcass to the same level, and in the process, they'll go and spread all the disease contained in the carcass. Without the vultures, mammalian scavengers (including dogs in peri-urban areas) will increase, thereby increasing the avenues for disease to spread. Here's what's stressing me out: 7 of Africa's 11 Vulture species are either Endangered or Critically Endangered, having undergone massive population declines across the continent over the last 15 years. There are several reasons for this, and the causes differ from region to region. - In West Africa: vulture declines are mostly due to the trade in their body parts for "traditional" medicine and a loss of habitat. - In East Africa: vulture declines are mostly due to poisoning - feeding on carcasses poisoned to kill predators. Vulture poisonings are not intentional, but an "accidental" by-product of human-predator conflict. While 1 or 2 lions, 1 or 2 hyenas might die from a poisoned cow carcass, several hundred vultures will die from direct poisoning, and many chicks will die without their (now dead) parents to care for them. Habitat loss as well, of course. - In Southern Africa: vulture declines are also due to poisoning - but here's where it gets a bit more sinister. Most vulture poisoning events in Southern Africa are purposeful. Poachers lace the carcasses of the animal they've killed with poison to kill the vultures and stop them from being a herald to anti-poaching teams who look for vultures flying to a kill. A single elephant carcass can kill 600 vultures. There is some evidence to show that the "muti" (witch-craft) trade is also a contributing factor. The governments in vulture range nations need to wake up to the fact that a complete loss of vultures will result in huge costs to both human and livestock health. Please, first look for the full episode of BBC's "Vultures: Beauty In The Beast" (Natural World, episode 10) and watch it. There's so much great information, high-quality videography, and conservation information in there. I cannot recommend this documentary highly enough. Please also visit http://www.birdlife.org/campaign/saving-natures-clean-crew (Birdlife International's Vulture Conservation Campaign) to find out how to support them in their efforts to save Africa's vultures from extinction. This is an issue very close to my heart, so I appreciate you taking the time to go through this. Thanks, AB
  4. I've just finished reading an article about worldwide conservation. it's a very long piece, but I persevered and ploughing through helped me link all the otherwise befuddling arguments provided about conservation. It is an objective look at how two approaches to conservation have helped, or not helped, wildlife and nature conservation. here's the link: https://news.mongabay.com/2016/04/big-conservation-gone-astray/?n3wsletter extracting a quote from the article: By Mongabay reporter Jeremy Hance "Borneo, one of the most biodiverse landscapes on the planet, is in ecological crisis. The Bornean rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrissoni) — a subspecies of the Sumatran — is on the knife’s edge of extinction; less than 2,000 Bornean pygmy elephants (Elephas maximus borneensis) survive; and the Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), distinct from the great ape in Sumatra, is being killed by people at a rate as high 4,000 a year. For the possibly hundreds of thousands of other species living on the island much less is known, but their homes — their forests — are falling at one of the highest rates in the world."
  5. Birdlife International needs your help to implement their campaign to save vultures across Africa. Did you know that 7 of Africa's 11 vulture species are on the brink? 7 species are either classed as "Endangered" or "Critically Endangered" on IUCN's Red List of Species. While vultures in Southern Asia are now COMING BACK from almost total extinction, Africa's vultures are now in more danger from poisoning (direct and indirect), harvesting for traditional medicine, electrocution, habitat loss, decline in food availability, and disturbance at breeding sites. If you have the means, however small that may be, it would be very helpful if you could contribute to Birdlife International as they work with thousands stakeholders on the ground across Africa to save these vultures from extinction. Please visit: https://kriticalmass.com/p/saving-natures-clean-up-crew and www.birdlife.org to find out more. If you're on Facebook, please share posts from Birdlife's vulture page on your own personal page (and relevant bird, conservation, raptor pages you may be on) If you're on Twitter, please use the #lovevultures tag and share the links widely. I recently shared one titled: "Vultures: So hardcore they eat anthrax for breakfast" Just so you know, Birdlife International is one of the oldest conservation organizations in the world and has had many successes in bird and habitat conservation through their many local partners across the globe. They are well-respected, transparent, and results-driven. Thanks!
  6. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982215012452 http://phys.org/news/2015-11-extinction-predator.html http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3315579/Is-extinction-CONTAGIOUS-Demise-predator-unexpected-knock-effect-species.html ~ This study, reported in Current Biology, has shown that the extinction of a single carnivore species may in turn trigger the death of other predator species as a consequence of an altered nutrient balance. The University of Exeter's Penryn campus used aphids and predatory wasps to show that the effects of extinction events are transmitted by host/prey competition.
  7. Please read the ENTIRE article before responding. And if you're not interested in reading the ENTIRE article with an open mind, please don't comment here. http://aeon.co/magazine/science/why-extinction-is-not-the-problem/ I find this article both thoughtful and somewhat uplifting in light of all the extremely negative news we get about conservation across the globe. I do note, however, that it is written from a strong North American perspective, and perhaps doesn't consider certain realities on the ground in parts of the developing world. I also don't know how 'peer-reviewed' the author's work is. Enjoy and discuss.
  8. I thought i would share what i have learned about Wilderness' current plans to relocate more rhinos to Botswana. Wilderness Safaris, or more accurately, Wilderness Wildlife Trust (WWT) is on a mission to raise funds to relocate a number of black rhinos into Botswana. While I was there, Mpho Malongwa or simply affectionately known as 'Poster', gave briefings and updates on past relocations and the upcoming relocation. This is separate from the recent news of the joint plans by Great Plains Conservation and &Beyond to translocate scores of rhinos into Botswana over the next few years. But it isn’t surprising that the other two companies are planning similar arrangements simply because the relocations have been hugely successful. From 2001, when they first brought in their initial rhinos, WWT/WS has brought in a few dozen white and black rhino. That number has doubled since then through natural births, and a third generation baby was recently born. In recent years, I understand there is zero poaching, and that is also thanks to the vigilant inspection that both WWT and Botswana’s Department of Wildlife (DWNT) have undertaken during the years. On the day I left, Poster came to say goodbye to some of us. He said he had just checked on a rhino close by and he had to trudge through mud and ponds and thick vegetation to ensure that one of his “babies” was healthy and doing well. Such commitment is well deserving of admiration and respect. While the white rhinos have been reproducing successfully, there has been less success with black rhinos. Hence, WWT and DWNT are working together to bring in another batch of black rhino. I’m not sure if I should say the exact number (without giving any potential poachers any hint), but it’s a double digit. Poster is passionate about the rhinos. Coincidentally, I had taped Rhino Rescue before I left for the Botswana trip, and I watched it when I returned. And there was Poster on TV, some 10 years ago, hosing the new rhinos in the new bomas built to acclimatize them when they arrived from South Africa. During our chat, I can still recall Poster saying wistfully how he would host and bathe his babies, and would talk to them and worry about them when he returned to his own family in Maun during this leave. His devotion to the rhinos really touched me. So, why would a public-listed company such as WS need to raise funds to bring the new rhinos over? That was my first question. The answer is that WS is already heavily financially invested in the purchase of the rhinos, building bomas in South Africa to house them before bringing them over, building new bomas in Botswana when they arrive. They will need to fund the transport – they are using a plane that will land directly where they will stay temporarily. In previous relocations, they were landed in Maun, then driven hours and hours overland. The current plan means they will not be stressed unnecessarily for too long. They will need to hire a vet, and more staff to oversee the rhinos and more members to beef up the monitoring teams. They need an estimated USD10m a year to maintain and monitor and carry out further rhino relocations in the future. I had asked to see the existing boma, and Wilderness was happy to meet my request. They are surprisingly small! The existing one is made up of six areas, each with interlocking gates to move them around. The boma is built under a huge tree – I think it was the African ebony tree – that will provide much needed shade during the day. The metal gates are sturdy, and surprisingly, the fences are made of gumpole logs and the logs were hardly scratched by the rhinos that were placed there. The small cage is to prevent the rhinos from moving around too much and hurting themselves as a result. Each cage contains a concrete water trough and a concrete tray, probably for grass and leaves. They are now building the new boma for the new arrivals, and some piles of gumpole logs are already there – another investment from WS. The gumpole logs are sturdy and are imported from a renewable plantation in South Africa, so WS avoids destroying natural and wild gumpole trees in Botswana. The fund-raising will help them meet running costs of maintaining and monitoring the rhinos. In the past, a couple of rhinos had run up north, close to the poaching areas. They had to be sedated and brought back - and that costs money as well. There will always be arguments for and against relocation of rhinos, or whether such relocation will succeed. WS decided to walk the talk and its experience shows that it can work. Botswana had been devoid of the species since they had been poached to extinction. If WS had not tried it, it wouldn’t have known if it would work. Now it works, they are keen to do more. I believe their sincerity in wanting to protect rhinos and save the species from extinction, so I'll be doing a donation. (Edited, Matt)

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