Tag Archives: extinct

3 Steps Vital to Saving the Sumatran Rhino, Recently Declared Extinct in Malaysia

The Sumatran rhino population has been gone from tens of thousands two centuries ago to 100 or less today.

Also known as the “hairy rhino” for its unique brown fur coat, the Sumatran rhino is the smallest and rarest species of rhino. Most recently, the species was declared extinct in Malaysia in late August.

The researchers who conducted the population study found that poaching, habitat loss and underfunded anti-poaching efforts were the main culprits of the animal’s extinction in the region. The scientists were from University of Copenhagen’s Center for Macroecology and partners of the study included WWF, the International Rhino Foundation and IUCN.

Only two Sumatran rhino females were sighted in Malaysia in 2011 and 2014, but both were taken to be bred in captivity in the hopes of raising the species’ numbers. But sadly, the captive breeding program has proven mostly ineffective as the 45 rhinos captured since 1984 have resulted in only four babies.

Photo by International Rhino Foundation / CC BY 2.0
Photo by International Rhino Foundation / CC BY 2.0

The population study’s lead author Rasmus Gren Havmøller says:

“It is vital for the survival of the species that all remaining Sumatran rhinos are viewed as a metapopulation, meaning that all are managed in a single program across national and international borders in order to maximize overall birth rate. This includes the individuals currently held in captivity.”

Indonesia and its surrounding areas are now the only wild home of the Sumatran rhino. In a different research study by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, three steps that could help save the animal from extinction were established.

The scientists began by identifying five critical areas of forest in in Borneo that must be protected and then formulated the three steps around these areas:

    • Establishing strong environmental and anti-poaching protections in these forests;
    • Stopping plans to build roads that would disturb these forests;
    • Condensing the rhino population, currently scattered across about 11,583 square miles land, into smaller regions

If there is any hope for the species to survive, these three crucial steps must be implemented

Featured image by Willem v Strien / CC BY 2.0

Extinct Eastern Cougar No Longer Needs U.S. Protection

The eastern cougar is being removed from the list of endangered species and added to the list of those extinct. After a four-year review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has confirmed the animal’s extinction.

Eastern cougars, which averaged six to eight feet long and 105 to 140 pounds, were a subspecies of North American cougars. They were once found all over the continent, from Canada to South Carolina, but with their recent extinction, they no longer need federal protections from the Endangered Species Act.

USFWS launched an extensive investigation into the status of eastern cougars in 2011, which included information from 21 states and Eastern Canadian provinces, as well as hundreds of sighting reports dating back to 1900. The agency found that today’s infrequent cougar sightings in the eastern U.S. were likely members of the species that wandered to Florida from the west or were released from captivity.

Puma Dinnertime
Image credit: Jon Nelson / CC BY 2.0

Eastern cougars were originally declared endangered in 1973, but the beginning of their demise dates back as far as the 1800s when European immigrants arrived and killed the predators to protect themselves and their livestock. The population decline is also linked to past destruction of forests, which drove the cougar’s main prey, the white-tailed deer, to near extinction.

Cougars in general – also known as mountain lions, pumas and panthers – used to be the most widely distributed land mammal in the western hemisphere. But extermination campaigns diminished the population and reduced its range to approximately two-thirds of the original distribution. In the U.S., The only remaining breeding population of cougars east of the Mississippi river is the Florida panther.

Featured Image: Angell Williams / CC BY 2.0