WASHINGTON— The annual overwintering count of monarch butterflies released last week confirms butterfly numbers fell by nearly one-third from last year’s count, indicating an ongoing risk of extinction for America’s most well-known butterfly. Scientists report that this year’s population is down by 27 percent from last year’s count, and down by more than 80 percent from the mid-1990s. This year’s drastic decline is attributed in part to more extreme winter storms that killed millions of monarchs last March in Mexico’s mountain forests, where 99 percent of the world’s monarchs migrate for the winter.
“The monarch butterfly is still in really big trouble and still needs really big help if we’re going to save this beloved orange-and-black wonder for future generations,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity.
A recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey concluded that there is a substantial probability that monarch butterflies east of the Rockies could decline to such low levels that they face extinction. Researchers estimate the probability that the monarch migration could collapse within the next 20 years is between 11 percent and 57 percent.
“In addition to threats from more frequent and harsher weather events, monarchs are still severely jeopardized by the ever-increasing pesticides used with genetically-engineered crops, destroying their habitat,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety. “We will continue to do everything we can to ensure monarchs have a future.”
The butterfly’s dramatic decline has been driven in large part by the widespread planting of genetically engineered crops. The vast majority of U.S. corn and soybeans are genetically engineered for resistance to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, a potent killer of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s only food. The dramatic surge in the use of Roundup and other herbicides with the same active ingredient (glyphosate) on Roundup Ready crops has virtually wiped out milkweed plants in the Midwest’s corn and soybean fields.
In the past 20 years, scientists estimate, these once-common, iconic orange-and-black butterflies may have lost more than 165 million acres of habitat — an area about the size of Texas — including nearly a third of their summer breeding grounds. Logging on the monarch’s Mexican wintering grounds is also an ongoing concern. Scientists have also identified threats to the monarch during the fall migration including lack of nectaring habitat and insecticides.
Found throughout the United States during summer months, most monarchs from east of the Rockies winter in the mountains of central Mexico, where they form tight clusters on trees. Scientists from World Wildlife Fund Mexico estimate the population size by counting the number of hectares of trees covered by monarchs. Monarchs need a very large population size to be resilient to threats from severe weather events, pesticides, climate change, disease and predation. A single winter storm in 2002 killed an estimated 500 million monarchs, roughly five times the size of the current population.
Concerns over the extinction risk of the monarch led the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, the Xerces Society and renowned monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower to petition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2014 to protect the butterfly as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Service is now conducting a review of its status and must decide on protection by 2019. In Canada, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife has recommended that the Canadian government list the monarch as an endangered species. Monarch butterfly migration is now recognized as a “threatened process” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Copyright © 2017 · All Rights Reserved · Global Justice Ecology Project
The Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Panthera, and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) recently collaborated on a comprehensive global survey of cheetah populations. Their findings are alarming.
According to this press release from Panthera, there are only 7,100 cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) left in the wild. They have lost 91% of their historic range, and 79% of wild cheetah populations number less than 100 individuals. The situation is particularly bad for the Asiatic cheetah; totaling fewer than 50 cats in Iran. In short, the cheetah is running out of time.
A number of factors have contributed to this decline. Habitat loss, poaching, live trafficking for the exotic pet trade, and loss of prey from bushmeat hunting threaten cheetahs throughout their range. Outside of protected areas, human-wildlife conflict (when cheetahs are killed due to…
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The last remaining orcas in a pristine ocean habitat could be killed off soon by a pipeline expansion. The pipeline would make the orca habitat unlivable and increase the risks of an oil spill. Sign this petition to ask Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau to oppose this project and save these majestic creatures.
Something is in the water at Lake Titicaca, and it isn’t anything healthy. 10,000 Titicaca water frogs have been found dead across a 30 mile area between Bolivia and Peru.
This particular species of frog is incredibly unique, in that it is entirely aquatic and lives permanently underwater. It is also critically endangered.
The frogs use their skin to absorb oxygen from the water they live in, and because of the many folds and wrinkles they have, their effective surface area is increased drastically to help increase their underwater breathing ability.
According to Peru’s National Forestry and Wildlife Service, the group is currently evaluating what has happened and will likely be performing a formal investigation.
The Committee Against the Pollution of the Coata River has believed for some time that the most recent deaths are due to rampant pollution. And it isn’t the first time something like this has happened. Another mass-death occurred a little more than a year ago in the same area.
“I’ve had to bring them the dead frogs,” said protest leader Maruja Inquilla to AFP. “The authorities don’t realize how we’re living. They have no idea how major the problem is. The situation is maddening.”
In 2015 when the first mass-death event occurred, it went largely unnoticed by the Peruvian authorities despite the plentiful reports on the situation.
According to Arturo Muñoz of the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative, the deaths are likely a result of high sulfur levels in the lake which have been made worse by strong winds and heavy rains.
“In December 2014, there was a bloom of algae that turned the water in the area completely green,” Muñoz said to IFLScience. “The bloom of the algae also causes an unbalance in all water parameters.”
Muñoz believes the high sulfide levels and the previous algae bloom were the two main causes for the frog deaths.
This explanation however does little to explain the largely unchecked pollution levels that have been previously reported in Lake Titicaca.
On the southeastern shore of the lake in Bolivia, pollution has run rampant from the quickly-growing city of El Alto.
There are 130 factories operating in El Alto, and nearly seventy percent of them are run illegally with zero pollution monitoring.
Despite there being an authority to manage to lake, the group is poorly funded and understaffed, making it nearly impossible to make any real changes to the surrounding area.
If these already endangered frogs are to be preserved, there needs to be a significant change in the governing bodies that are in change of the lake in both Bolivia and Peru.
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Endangered whales are getting tangled in fishing gear, killing them and threatening the recovery of their species. Demand a change in fishing methods to protect right whales from the threat of extinction.
Endangered species are being openly served as specialty dishes while wild animals are sold to tourists as pets, in a Peruvian town. Demand that Peru put an end to these cruel activities by fiercely enforcing bans on selling wild game and selling wild animals as pets.
An endangered blue whale is currently trapped in a fishing net and is fighting for its life. The whale is swimming slowly and is in grave danger. We are seeking an immediate ban on fishing nets near blue whale habitat and a full scale effort to rescue this trapped and suffering whale.
Urging the World Wildlife Fund to protect an endangered and valuable species.
Source: Protect the Tri-Colored Bat
These Are The Last 3 Animals Of Their Kind Left In The Wild
By Stephen Messenger
May. 08, 2016
Addax, with their distinctive twisting horns, were once a common sight throughout North African Sahara — but their existence in the wild today is perilously close to being just a memory.
Thomas Rabeil/Sahara Conservation Fund
The endangered desert-going antelope, numbering in the hundreds less than a decade ago, have been pushed to “imminent extinction,” say researchers.
According to a new report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an extensive survey across the species’ main habitat in Niger turned up a group of just three remaining individuals.
The IUCN describes those survivors as being “very nervous” — and for good reason.
In recent years, new oil installations have caused significant disruption in the region where addax migrate. That, coupled with a spike in poaching by soldiers guarding those facilities, is said to be the primary factor which have led species’ rapid decline.
“We are witnessing in real time the extinction of this iconic and once plentiful species — without immediate intervention, the addax will lose its battle for survival in the face of illegal, uncontrolled poaching and the loss of its habitat,” Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Director of the IUCN’s Global Species Programme, said in the release.
Though there is hope that more addax remain uncounted, their population in the wild is still likely too small to recover on its own. There are a few thousand of these animals held in captivity throughout the world, however, some of whom could be reintroduced to North Africa.
Ironically, as Scientific America points out, addax can still be found by the hundreds on private ranches in Texas — where they are still being raised to be killed for sport.
Suitable land for endangered African antelopes is becoming increasingly scarce, according to a recent study. Sign to ensure land fragmentation does not divide these areas into even smaller habitats.
Leopards are at greater risk than generally believed, having lost three-fourths of their territory. Sign this petition to demand increased conservation efforts for leopards to keep the species from heading toward extinction.
Source: Protect Leopards From Extinction
The decline of Pacific herring populations is creating serious consequences for marine wildlife that rely on the herring for food. Demand that Canada stop fishing the Pacific herring today in order to avoid dire consequences for entire ecosystems.
The rare helmeted hornbill is being poached to extinction for its ivory-like skull which is in high demand in China. Demand a stop to the red ivory trade in order to protect this critically endangered bird.
There are less than 100 vaquita porpoise left in the world, and gill net fishing of totoaba fish in the Gulf of Mexico may bring the dolphin relative to extinction. Demand that China’s government put an end to the sale of totoaba swim bladder and save the remaining vaquita population.
Giraffes are on the brink of extinction in the Congo with only 38 animals left in the nation. If even a few more are killed, the population may not be able to recover. Sign our petition to ask that President Obama sends help to conservationists to save these animals.
Source: Save Nation’s Last 38 Giraffes
Northern long-eared bat populations in North America are declining at a rapid rate. Protect these fragile and important animals by demanding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service place them on the endangered species list.