Sunday, May 18, 2008

Species on the brink of extinction

18 May 2008, 0052 hrs IST,AGENCIES

The Wildlife Conservation Society has released a list of the "Rarest of the Rare", a dozen animals most in danger of extinction. The list includes obscure animals like Abbot's booby, an ocean-going bird that only nests on Christmas Island.

Threats to each species vary widely. In the case of Abbot's booby, the introduction of yellow crazy ants to Easter Island has severely altered their nesting habitat.

Other species suffer from diseases, as in the case of the golden arrow poison frog, or poaching for the Chinese medicinal trade, which has reduced the population of Sumatran rhinos to fewer than 300 individuals, according to LiveScience.

The animals listed are:

l Abbott's booby: A large black-and-white seabird that breeds on Christmas Island, a remote Australian island in the Indian Ocean.

l Addax: A nocturnal antelope species with long spiral horns, found the sand dunes of the Sahara desert.

l Angel shark: Bottom-dwelling, predators once common throughout the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean and Black seas.

l Bengal florican: A large terrestrial bustard bird native to Cambodia, Nepal, Vietnam, and India.

l Black-faced lion tamarin: A small primate that sleeps in tree holes dug out by woodpeckers and feeds on insects, fruit, and plants. Discovered in Brazil in 1990.

l Burmese roofed turtle: One of Myanmar's seven native turtles, threatened by hunting and egg poaching.

l Dragonflies of Sri Lanka: Of the 53 endemic species of dragonfly found in Sri Lanka, at least 20 are threatened.

l Golden arrow poison frog: An amphibian native to Panama, threatened by a highly-infectious fungal disease.

l North Atlantic right whale: Hunted since the 10th century, only 350 of these slow-moving 100,000 kg cetaceans remain.

l Ricord's iguana: A reptile native to two isolated locations in the arid southwestern Dominican Republic.

l Pygmy hippopotamus: A small hippo from the Upper Guinean Forest of Liberia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Sierra Leone.

l Sumatran rhino: Also known as the hairy or Asian two-horned rhinoceros, fewer than 300 survive today in the subtropical and tropical dry forests of Indonesia and Malaysia.


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