Tag Archives: extinction

Climate Change Could Wipe Out Amazing Baobab Trees in Madagascar

19 Jul
Photo: Baobab trees over water by Rita Willaert.

Photo: Baobab trees over water by Rita Willaert.

by John R. Platt / The Scientific American

The Ewe people of Togo, Africa, have a proverb: “Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it.” The proverb refers to the massive trees of the genus Adansonia that can live thousands of years, reach 30 meters into the sky and achieve trunk diameters of 10 meters or more. One baobab tree in South Africa is so large that a popular pub has been established inside its trunk. Many local cultures consider baobab trees to be sacred. Others use them for their nutritious fruits, edible leaves and beautiful flowers. In addition, old baobabs, like many long-lived trees, often have natural hollows in their trunks, which in their case can store tens of thousands of gallons of water—an important resource not just for the trees themselves but also for the people who live near them.

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Two South Florida Butterflies Declared Extinct

10 Jun

dead-butterfly

by Curtis Morgan / the Miami Herald 

The announcement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service came after surveys going back more than a decade failed to find any Zestos skippers or rockland grass skippers.

Larry Williams, the service’s regional supervisor for ecological services, said in a statement that he hoped the loss “serves as a wake-up call that we really need to intensify our efforts to save other imperiled butterflies in South Florida.”

The two varieties were among at least 18 tropical butterflies in South Florida considered at risk from a host of threats, from development to pesticide spraying.

Because neither subspecies was on federal list of endangered species, wildlife managers did not have to make any formal declaration about the two skippers. But after consulting with the multiagency Imperiled Butterfly Working Group, which is developing recovery plans for other South Florida butterflies, the agency said it had concluded both were likely extinct. Though similar varieties exist elsewhere in the Caribbean, both skippers were distinctive subspecies once found only in South Florida and the Florida Keys.

 

Devastating Bat-killing Disease Reaches Georgia

14 Mar

 Second State Announced in Two Dayswhitenose

ByThe Center for Biological Diversity

A lethal bat disease sweeping across North America has been discovered for the first time in Georgia, state and federal officials announced today. The announcement comes one day after the disease was reported in South Carolina. White-nose syndrome, a fatal fungal disease in bats, has now spread to 22 states and 5 Canadian provinces over the past seven years. This most recent discovery of the disease was made at two caves in Dade County, Ga. — one in the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, operated by the National Park Service, and the other at Cloudland Canyon State Park. Last year the bat disease was documented on the Tennessee side of the same national military park.

“White-nose syndrome’s attack on North American bats is continuing unabated,” said Mollie Matteson, a bat specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Unfortunately, despite the disease’s relentless push across the country, the response of state and federal wildlife agencies has been astonishingly passive.” Continue reading

Northwest Port Expansions will Fuel Coal Industry’s Contributions to Mass Extinction

7 Feb

Cross posted from Deep Green Resistance News Service

By Rachel Ivey / Deep Green Resistance Cascadia

In the arid Powder River Basin of Northern Wyoming and Southern Montana, the long roots of sagebrush draw water from deep beneath the soil.  The ability to access water in this way makes sagebrush an important star of the Basin’s biotic constellation.  Species of grasses and herbs are allowed to thrive on the moisture that the sagebrush draws toward the surface.

Elk, mule deer, and pronghorn antelope access the water stored in the plant’s pale gray, three-pointed leaves.  Greater sage-grouse eat the sagebrush too, while making their nests and performing their complex courtship rituals among the plant’s low branches.  The soil is the urlbasis for the lives of these creatures and countless others, and the precious moisture within the soil is thread that connects them in a web of relationship.

The Powder River Basin’s coal extraction industry doesn’t place the same value on soil, and neither does the government that serves the coal extraction industry.  The region extracts about forty percent of the coal mined in the United States.  More coal is mined annually from the Powder River Basin than is mined annually from the entire Appalachian region.

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Canaries in the Mineshaft – Miner Strikes Worldwide, Art, and the Environment

11 Sep

Punk art surrealist Winston Smith, who named him­self after the indelible pro­tag­o­nist of Orwell’s 1984, was once quoted (referring to a popular idiom), “You could say that artists are the canaries in the mineshaft. We see things before others do. We set off alarms and alert those who are distracted by other things. It’s not that we’re more sensitive or more aware…it’s just our job.” This is an allusion to the age-old practice of mining workers carrying caged canaries down into the tunnels with them. If dangerous gases such as methane or carbon monoxide leaked into the mine-shaft, the gases killed the canary before killing the miners.

Winston Smith Collage

Exemplifying Smith’s assertion of artist-as-indicator-species, this week Yoko Ono launched Artists Against Fracking, with a focus on New York hydraulic fracturing. Yesterday, just days after premiering his new video We Want Peace — Reloaded,” former child soldier, peace activist, and hip-hop artist Emmanuel Jal was reportedly beat unconscious by South Sudanese police. Currently on exhibition in London, Art of Change: New Directions from China reveals how the best contemporary art moves beyond the particular to comment on universal experience. The current imprisonment of Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot has sparked outrage and protests in solidarity worldwide.

Real miners endure a more wretched fate than the metaphorical ones referenced here, meeting with shattered health, physical brutality, and even murder for corporate profit, which ultimately are also recognized as an assault to the natural world as well.

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Extinction Explosion

21 Aug

Considered by many to have an intelligence that rivals humankind’s and otherworldly transformative evolution powers, the cuttlefish is among creatures slated for death in a sudden mass extinction of the worlds’ oceans.

Teetering on the dire precipice between existence and annihilation, time is running out for the Royal Bengal tiger, the Great White shark, and Victorian koalas.

There are reports that species in Brazil’s coastal rainforest are disappearing faster than scientists  can keep track of them. This is owed in part to the ripple effect of extinction, creatures toppling off the planet in a chain reaction.

But perhaps the most brutal and rapid decline is coming for the world’s oceans, with scientists predicting a cataclysmic period of mass extinction currently upon us, the ramifications for which will in turn be our own demise. From 1900-2010, freshwater fish species in North America went extinct at a rate 877 times faster than the rate found in the fossil record, while estimates indicate the rate may double between now and 2050.

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Gorilla Youngsters Seen Dismantling Poachers’ Traps

20 Jul

Wild gorillas Rwema and Dukore destroy a primitive snare in Rwanda earlier this week. Photograph courtesy Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

By Ker Than

for National Geographic News

Published July 19, 2012

Just days after a poacher’s snare had killed one of their own, two young mountain gorillas worked together Tuesday to find and destroy traps in their Rwandan forest home, according to conservationists on the scene.

“This is absolutely the first time that we’ve seen juveniles doing that … I don’t know of any other reports in the world of juveniles destroying snares,” said Veronica Vecellio, gorilla program coordinator at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s Karisoke Research Center, located in the reserve where the event took place.

“We are the largest database and observer of wild gorillas … so I would be very surprised if somebody else has seen that,” Vecellio added.

Bush-meat hunters set thousands of rope-and-branch snares in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, where the mountain gorillas live. The traps are intended for antelope and other species but sometimes capture the apes.

Adults are generally strong enough to free themselves. Youngsters aren’t always so lucky.

Just last week an ensnared infant named Ngwino, found too late by workers from Karisoke, died of snare-related wounds. Her shoulder had been dislocated during escape attempts, and gangrene had set in after the ropes cut deep into her leg.

The hunters, Vecellio said, seem to have no interest in the gorillas. Even small apes, which would be relatively easy to carry away for sale, are left to die.

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Two Florida Species Declared Extinct

21 Oct

South Florida Rainbow Snake: © JD Willson, 2006, Discoverlife.org

Earlier this month, October 5, 2011, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that two Florida species, the South Florida rainbow snake and the Florida fairy shrimp, have been determined to be extinct. The finding came in response to a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity in 2010 seeking Endangered Species Act protection for the rainbow snake, fairy shrimp and more than 400 aquatic species in the southeastern United States. Last week the Service announced that 374 other freshwater species in the petition, including 114 in Florida, may warrant protection under Act. All of those species will now get an in-depth review.

The South Florida rainbow snake was known only from Fisheating Creek, which flows into the west side of Lake Okeechobee. The snake was iridescent bluish-black with red stripes on its back and sides, red and yellow patches on its belly and throat, and a yellow chin. Adults were more than four feet long. It was last seen in 1952.

The Florida fairy shrimp was known from a single pond just south of Gainesville. The pond was destroyed by development, and the species hasn’t been detected elsewhere.

The full statement from Center for Biological Diversity can be found here.