Weekly Roundup 22/11/2014

One of the weeks top stories was the IUCN Red List and the 310 species which were added to its ever expanding 22,413 species listed endangered species. And much like the Red List this weeks roundup reads a bit like a who’s hot and who’s not in the world of wildlife. With that in mind we are not only focusing on UK news this week but also news stories from around the globe, ranging from polar bears to whales.

Cirl Bunting 

The reintroduced population of Cirl Buntings has had its best year yet since they were reintroduced in 2006 to Cornwall. This year 39 pairs produced more than 100 fledglings and now it is predicted that next year will see over 50 pairs  breeding. Not only is this great news for the species itself which is in decline, it is also a great achievement as the project was the first passerine reintroduction to Europe and it is now on it’s way to becoming self-sustaining.

For More Information:

http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/Cirl-Bunting-increase.html

http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/discoverandlearn/birdguide/name/c/cirlbunting/7

 

Rhino Poaching 

To anyone involved in conservation or who follows the news, it is certainly starting to feel like we are being flooded by an irrepressible tide of rhino poaching. Unfortunately 2014 has overshadowed 2013’s bleak statistics with a record 1,020 rhinos poached this year in South Africa alone. This is compared to the 1, 004 rhinos poached last year within the country and just 10 in 2004.

672 were taken from Kruger Park, as the market for their horns booms in Asia where it is believed to have medicinal properties. Consuming the horn is as likely to benefit you as chewing your fingernails as they are both made of keratin.

South Africa currently has the largest population of rhino in the world. However if the current trend continues, rhino deaths could outstrip their rate of births as soon as 2016, which in turn could lead to the extinction of rhinos very soon after. Despite numerous initiatives in place to protect rhinos, from the deployment of the army along the Mozambique border, to relocating rhinos to confidential “safe” zones the multi-billion illegal wildlife trade continues to boom.

Data published by South African Department of Environmental Affairs (2014)

Data published by South African Department of Environmental Affairs (2014)

For More Information:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/20/record-1020-rhino-killed-in-south-africa

http://www.savetherhino.org/rhino_info/poaching_statistics

Polar Bears 

Unfortunately another iconic species is in trouble. A key population of polar bears has fallen by 40% in the last decade. The population which inhabits a frozen sea north of Alaska was monitored by the US Geological Survey, who found that the bears survival rates particularly suffered amongst juveniles as well as during the years 2004 – 2006.

The survey has found that this is due to a range of factors, but primarily has been caused by the thinning of sea ice which has increased its mobility. This has caused conditions which are difficult for the polar bears to catch their primary food source of seals in. Experts believe that if attitudes to greenhouse emissions are not changed we could lose this population of polar bears within the next fifty years.

For more infomation:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/17/polar-bear-population-falls-sea-north-alaska

http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/14-1129.1

 

Wolves Return to Denmark

For 200 years wolves have been absent from Denmark due to persecution and habitat loss, a story mirrored across much of Europe. Yet this story takes a different twist after in 2012 the carcass of a male wolf was found in the country. This spurred a team of researchers to create a map of all documented wolf sightings to date using camera traps, DNA analyses of saliva samples from dead wildlife, sheep and calves, and samples from presumed wolf scats.

What the maps show is that wolves have been sighted across the peninsula of Jutland as well as in more agricultural areas neighbouring the German border. Although out of the 12 individual wolves identified most were only found once, one individual was spotted in eight different locations over the last eighteen months; allowing the wolf to be considered settled in Denmark.

For More Information:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/denmark/11213512/Wolves-roaming-wild-in-Denmark-for-first-time-in-200-years.html

http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/danish-wolves.html

 

Overfishing Threatens Whelk Stocks

Although whelks have no longer found themselves as popular as they were during Queen Victoria’s reign, the resurgence they are now experiencing could be met with dire results.

Scientists are warning that overfishing is threatening whelk stocks, as demand for them has doubled in the past ten years. Whelks already receive protection from regulations which bans the fishing of whelks with shells under 45mm in order to protect the immature stock. However scientists from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) claim that the minimum size at which they are allowed to be caught needs to be increased to safeguard stocks.

In their study which examined more than 4,000 whelks caught along the British Coastline, half the males had not reached maturity and the majority of females hadn’t either. It is believed that unless tighter regulations are put in place the whelk could be unsustainably exploited as it finds itself growing in popularity. This in turn could lead to population crashes in key commercial fisheries.

For More Information:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/11233126/Whelk-stocks-under-threat-from-overfishing.html

 

Although primarily the stories within this weeks news roundup have been about declining populations of our wildlife, we should always remember that amongst the negative stories there are the positives such as the wolves resettling in Denmark with no human intervention. Although never as highly publicised we must remember to celebrate our conservation wins, and take note from them that not all is lost for our species in decline.

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Emily Stewart
Owner of Inspirewildlife - a site dedicated to sharing positive conservation news stories from around the world. Zoo Management Graduate from University of Chester
Emily Stewart

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