Animals Howlsnow

Published on April 23rd, 2011 | by Michael Ricciardi

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Endangered Animal Watch (Update): Wolves, Tigers, Bats & Penguins

As it is Earth Day, my natural inclination is to look at the current state of Nature…Specifically, the status of certain animal species that are either holding on, currently threatened, or “on the brink”… Here are just four such cases:

Wolves –

Despite a compromise proposal put forth by conservati0n groups to keep the gray wolf (Canis lupus) protected under the ESA (but subsequently rejected by the courts), federal lawmakers have recently capitulated to ranching and hunting complaints and have allowed an exception to the ESA’s protection of the wolves. The “loop hole” applies to Rocky Mountain gray wolves (encompassing a vast part of the wolf’s range) and soon the States of Idaho an Montana will be allowing “controlled hunts” of the wolves.

Critics of the federal plan also point to Secretary of the Interior  Salazar, citing a lack of principled leadership on the issue.  For more on this development, check out the recent NY Times editorial A Hole in the Endangered Species Act.

Meanwhile, dwindling wolf packs in other areas of the country, such as in Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park, face extinction from a more “natural” threat: a lack of females. Of the 16 in this pack, only 2 are females — an insufficient number to maintain a viable breeding population in the wild.

Tigers –

In a slightly more positive development, India’s tiger (Panthera tigris) population appears to be growing, modestly. A March 2011 count showed just over 1700 animals on India’s tiger reserves, which is about 300 more than the 2007 count. The Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) has helped here and enjoys fairly widespread support amongst the world’s tiger-populated nations (Russia’s foreign minister Vladimir Putin is a big supporter of the TGI, as Eastern Siberia is home to most of the world’s off-reserve tigers.

South China tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis)

South China tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis)

The status of tigers in China is not so good, as the native population of tigers has dwindled in recent years to near extinction in the wild. China is also home to the world’s only tiger farms — raising tigers as livestock — presumably to maintain the market for some traditional, medicinal potions that use tiger whiskers and bones.

For more info on the mission to save the world’s tigers, check out my earlier article on Ecolocalizer: Saving Tigers from  Extinction – A 6% Solution

Bats –

The lethal geomyces fungus responsible for the hibernatory disruption of North American bats (various species of myotis) known as white-nose syndrome, continues to spread — most recently to Ohio and New Brunswick Canada. The fungus, first identified in 2006, is now found in bat populations in 17 US states and three Canadian provinces. A recent ecological survey found that 7 species of brown bat are now threatened with extinction.

Bats provide two essential ecosystem services — the limiting of insect populations, and, the pollinating of certain crops. The value of these services to US agriculture is estimated at nearly 4 billion dollars per year.

Little brown bat with White Nose Syndrome (Myotis lucifugus)

Little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) with White Nose Syndrome

Curiously, the bat-killing syndrome is not a threat to UK and European bat populations (though it is present in these populations), which may hint at a possible genetic difference in the bat populations, or perhaps a combination of factors (including gene variants and climate change) found only here in North America.

For more on this mysterious bat scourge, its impact, and what you can do to help, visit :  Bat Conservation International

Penguins -

In quite recent years, Adélie penguins –one of the most populous species of penguin — have been facing a mounting survival challenge from climate change-induced habitat loss.

As the Antarctic warms ever so slightly, and the rate of ice sheet/island cover loss continues, the more we will hear about the penguins’ threatened survival

But there are other threats out there: the recent oil spill in the South Atlantic has been taking its toll also on the northern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes moseleyi) with some 3600 birds soaked in oil and still in need of treatment.

EmperorPenguinFeedingChick

Emperor penguin feeding chick

Emperor penguins — the world’s largest at up to 4 ft. in height — are also facing an existential threat from diminishing food supply due to warming. The regal penguin eats mostly krill and algae that grows on the underside of ice sheets. As waters warm, both krill and algae decrease in abundance. This situation manifests a double threat: a shortage of food for chicks and  insufficient energy reserves for adults who must go without food while incubating their eggs.

For all things Emperor penguin-related, and a LARGE number of great photographs, visit the Emperor Penguin website.

These are just four examples of animals on the brink of survival; sadly there are too many more….

To learn more about the threatened status of these and other wild animals, checkout the Sci-Am ‘Extinction Watch’ review article: Wolves lose, tigers gain, penguins in peril and other updates from the brink by John Platt

Photos:

Wolf: “Dakota” — howling adult wolf at the UK Wolf Conservation Trust
Tiger: Taragui; CC – By – SA 3.0
Bat: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Penguins: CommonismNow; CC – By 2.5

http://www.emperor-penguin.com/emperor.html




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About the Author

Michael Ricciardi is a well-published writer of science/nature/technology articles as well as essays, poetry and short fiction. Michael has interviewed dozen of scientists from many scientific fields, including Brain Greene, Paul Steinhardt, Arthur Shapiro, and Nobel Laureate Ilya Progogine (deceased). Michael was trained as a naturalist and taught ecology and natural science on Cape Cod, Mass. from 1986-1991. His first arts grant was for production of the environmental (video) documentary 'The Jones River - A Natural History', 1987-88 (Kingston, Mass.). Michael is an award winning, internationally screened video artist. Two of his more recent short videos; 'A Time of Water Bountiful' and 'My Name is HAM' (an "imagined memoir" about the first chimp in space), and several other short videos, can be viewed on his website (http://www.chaosmosis.net). He is also the author of the (Kindle) ebook: Artful Survival ~ Creative Options for Chaotic Times



  • Casaraford

    w.a.r awsome oh and war doesnt mean war to me it mean wild . animals . rule i love them no matter what the animal look like ill take care of it =) t.g i was born 2 love all animals

  • Casaraford

    w.a.r awsome oh and war doesnt mean war to me it mean wild . animals . rule i love them no matter what the animal look like ill take care of it =) t.g i was born 2 love all animals

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  • http://www.sharkprotect.com&www.sharks.org Jupp Kerckerinck

    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    Wolfs, Tigers, Bats and Penguins are wonderful animals and they do not deserve to become extinct. I read a lot about them. Just yesterday, I saw a WWF poster in a German train, showing a Tiger with two cups, titled: “Born to die”. As sad as that is, there is one animal, however, that does not get mentioned often enough because it is not as cute or popular as those four are: It is the shark. Actually all species of sharks are threatened and sharks are the only animals, whose extermination would seriously and irrevocably, threaten the existence of human life on earth. They maintain the biological balance in the oceans, and without healthy oceans we have no chance to survive. So your headline should read: “Sharks, Wolfs, Tigers, Bats and Penguins”. But in any case, I want to thank you for doing what you do, and doing it so well.

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/zshahan/ Zachary Shahan

      Thanks a lot, Jupp.

      I have read about sharks being on the edge as well — some as much such so as tigers. I was not aware of their importance for the balance of the oceans, though. Thank You.

      On another note (and feel free not to answer), where was the train traveling to & from? I live in Poland, near Germany (Wrocław/Breslau), and will be traveling to Germany (Berlin) soon. Just asking out of curiosity. :D

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