The Iberian lynx was found to be the world’s most endangered cat in 2002. More than a decade later and the population has reached it’s highest number since then.
A census released by the government of Andalusia found the population to be 404, up from 327 in 2014. The survey identified 120 breeding females over five areas of the Iberian Peninsula: Portugal’s Vale do Guadiana and Doñana, Sierra Morena, Montes de Toledo, Valley Matachel, all in Spain. Head of WWF-Spain’s species programme Luis Suarez says:
“WWF welcomes the heartening results of the 2015 Iberian Lynx census. This is a historic landmark that comes with the heavy responsibility of strengthening our commitment and conservation actions to protect this most endangered species.”
“The increasing numbers and expansion of Iberian lynx show that concerted conservation efforts pay off. This endangered cat is symbolic of the plight of numerous threatened species worldwide that require sustained conservation efforts over several decades. But the job is not completed yet – it’s on the right track, but still distant from a full recovery.”
Despite the rise in population, the Iberian lynx is still threatened by road accidents, with a total of 51 lynx killed on the roads in the last three years. The cat is also threatened by declines in prey species. In particular, a viral disease has caused rabbit populations have dropped over 50% in lynx territory. Suarez says:
“It is essential that all competent authorities take action on the threats to rabbits and begin to implement better monitoring plans and actions for species recovery. Otherwise, we will see a real ecological catastrophe given the key role of the rabbit in Mediterranean ecosystems.”
Imagine our world without up to 656,000 square miles of forest – an area than twice the size of Texas. Our world would look a lot different.
According to a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report released in April, this could be the case by 2030. The report identified 11 regions around the world with the greatest expected loss of forest over the next 15 years.
These forests are home to countless animals, including rare and endangered species, and such habitat loss would be detrimental to them. And even worse, it could all happen in as little as 15 years from now unless we address major forest threats like mining, illegal logging, agriculture and road construction.
Here are the 11 forests identified in the WWF report:
The Amazon jungle is the world’s largest forest, but it’s also projected to have the greatest habitat loss. Over a quarter of the forest will be gone if current trends persist, especially today’s cattle ranching and agriculture in the region.
2. Atlantic Forest/Gran Chaco
The Atlantic forest spans parts of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina and is one of the richest rainforests in the world, with more biodiversity per acre than the Amazon. But 75% of the Brazilian population lives there, causing deforestation in both the Atlantic forest and the neighboring dry forest Gran Chaco.
In 2030, there could be as little as 33% of the lowland Borneo rainforest left. Weak government and instability only exacerbate deforestation as more and more people create palm oil plantations in the region.
The Cerrado is a high plateau region in Brazil that isn’t as well-known as the Amazon but is just as threatened. Cattle ranching and converting forest to soy plantations are the major causes of deforestation.
Running along South America’s northwestern Pacific coast, these forests face deforestation from roads, power lines, mining and oil exploration. Most damage has occurred in the Ecuadorian Choco, but the regions in Panama and Colombia are also in jeopardy.
6. Congo Basin
The Congo Basin is one of the world’s most important wilderness regions, containing 20% of the planet’s tropical forests and the most biodiversity in Africa. These forests are especially threatened because the human population is expected to double by 2030.
7. Eastern Africa
This region has the miombo woodlands and coastal and mountain forests, all of which are threatened. The forests are illegally logged, over-harvested for timber and fuel wood or converted to livestock and cash crops. Sadly, the coastal forests of Tanzania and Kenya are already down to 10% of their original area.
8. Eastern Australia
Although there have been recent reductions in deforestation in the states of Queensland and New South Wales, weak legislation raises concerns about forest loss. Conversion of forest land to pastures for livestock is the main cause of deforestation, but key species are affected, including koalas, possums, gliders and birds.
9. Greater Mekong
Because of a booming economy, the region’s forest land is being converted for sugar, rice, rubber and biofuels. But as more and more of the forests are converted for economic development, the area’s animals become increasingly threatened and the Greater Mekong forests are rich in species. For instance, in 2011 alone, 126 new species were discovered there, including fish, snakes, frogs and bats.
10. New Guinea
New Guinea and neighboring islands are home to the largest remaining regions of tropical forests in the Asia-Pacific area and home to more than 6% of the world’s species. But with agriculture on the rise, the forests and their inhabitants are in jeopardy.
Indonesia’s palm oil production is now centered in Sumatra, and particularly the Riau province, causing deforestation in the area. It even affects protected forests and national parks, threatening the region’s rhinos, tigers, orangutans, and other wildlife
What Can We Do?
WWF believes that stopping deforestation now is more strategic and cost-effective than dealing with the consequences later. Deforestation accounts for around 15% of global carbon emissions – more than the total emissions from every single the motor vehicles, airplanes and ships in the world. If we don’t address this issue and take action, we could lose over 600,000 square miles of our planet’s forests. With that, we would lose the benefits those forests provide, including jobs, clean water and wood, and we would lose precious habitat for much of the world’s wildlife and many endangered species.
Over the next 100 years, our planet’s tropical amphibians may go extinct.
A new study found that in the last 30-40 years, 200 frog species have gone extinct around the world and that hundreds more may disappear in the next century. Habitat loss and destruction, climate change and deadly diseases are the factors that put these amphibians at risk.
John Alroy, associate professor in biological sciences at the Macquarie University in Australia authored the study. To estimate the number of extinct species, he looked at samples from museums of amphibians and reptiles in nine different regions and compared them to published observations.
Some of the worst rates of extinction were in Latin America, possibly due to the chytrid fungus. Alroy says:
“There’s pretty good agreement that the biggest threat for amphibians is the [chytrid] (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) fungus. However, I think habitat destruction might have a bigger role than people realize — and future climate change is going to have huge and unpredictable consequences.”
While tropical amphibians face high extinction rates, those in the Southeast United States do not. In addition, reptiles in all regions faced low extinction rates except in a few areas like Madagascar.
“This research highlights the extent of the danger facing many of the world’s primates. We hope it will focus people’s attention on these lesser-known primate species, some of which most people will probably have never heard of.”
First timers on the most endangered list include the Philippine tarsier and the Lavasoa dwarf lemur from Madagascar – a species discovered just two years ago. Other primates on the list, like the Roloway monkey from Ghana and the Ivory Coast, are on the brink of extinction.
The red colobus monkey in Africa and some of South America’s howler monkeys and spider monkeys are also threatened. These species are larger primates, which makes them easy targets for bushmeat hunting.
“Some of these animals have tiny populations remaining in the wild. Support and action to help save them is vital if we are to avoid losing these wonderful animals forever.”
Here is the list of the 25 most endangered primates for 2014-2016, along with their estimated remaining population size. Five of the primates are from Madagascar, five from Africa, 10 from Asia, and five from Central and South America:
1. Lavasoa dwarf lemur– unknown
2. Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur– about 2,500-5,000
3. Red ruffed lemur– unknown
4. Northern sportive lemur– around 50
5. Perrier’s sifaka– 1,700-2,600
6. Rondo dwarf galago– unknown, but remaining habitat is just 40 square miles
7. Roloway monkey– unknown, but thought to be on the verge of extinction
8. Preuss’s red colobus monkey– unknown
9. Tana River red colobus monkey– 1,000 and declining
10. Eastern lowland gorilla– 2,000-10,000
11. Philippine tarsier– unknown
12. Javan slow loris– unknown
13. Pig-tailed langur– 3,300
14. Cat Ba langur (golden-headed langur)– 60
15. Delacour’s langur– 234-275
16. Tonkin snub-nosed monkey– less than 250
17. Kashmir grey langur– unknown
18. Western purple-faced langur– unknown
19. Hainan gibbon– 25
20, Sumatran orangutan– 6,600
21. Ka’apor capuchin– unknown
22. San Martin titi monkey– unknown
23. Northern brown howler monkey– less than 250 mature animals
24. Colombian brown spider monkey– unknown
25. Ecuadorian brown-headed spider monkey– unknown
The list comes from a report that was put together by the IUCN, Bristol Zoological Society, International Primatological Society and Conservation International and is updated every two years
The Javan rhino is one of the most rare and endangered rhinos in the world. After capturing these three Javan calves on camera in Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park, the tiny rhino population rises from 57 to 60. The calves, which consist of females and one male, have been captured by forest cameras at various times in 2015.
Across these six countries, almost 80% of great apes live outside the nationally and internationally protected areas. WWF’s Great Apes Programme Manager David Greer says:
“Central African governments have demonstrated increased willingness to protect the dwindling populations of gorillas and chimpanzees. Now bold steps are needed to ensure that existing wildlife laws are upheld and that weak governance, which results in widespread impunity for wildlife traffickers, is eliminated, to give great apes the opportunity to survive and thrive.”
Although the previous plan from 2005 helped slow the decline of ape populations, growing human populations and expanding industries are putting pressure on the remaining apes. The new plan addresses these issues by identifying 18 landscapes as critical for the animals’ survival. In addition, the plan calls for improvements in law enforcement, management of great ape habitats and land-use planning.
The new plan was published by WWF, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Wildlife Conservation Society and partners and was funded by the Arcus Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Great Apes Survival Partnership. It is the combined work of 70 conservationists, scientists, wildlife health experts and wildlife authorities, protected area managers donors from the six countries in the region.