From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1993:

A study of the efficacy of the Endangered
Species Act by wildlife biologists with the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service and the University of Idaho at Moscow
reported November 12 in Science that, “Few species have
actually recovered,” because population goals are set too
low in 60% of the cases where vertebrate populations can
be counted. “Even if population goals were achieved”
they added, “60% of the ESA’s threatened or endangered
vertebrate species would remain in peril, with roughly a
20% probability of extinction within 20 years or 10 gener-
ations, whichever is longer.”
The wild population of bonobo apes, or
pygmy chimpanzees, who are the closest relatives of
humans after the common chimpanzee, has fallen from
50,000 to under 10,000 in two decades; extinction is pro-
jected within seven years. Native to Zaire, bonobos are
threatened by habitat loss, meat poachers, and pet traders
who traffic in the orphaned infants. Young bonobos typi-
cally die within days when apart from their mothers. The
usual customers are visiting non-Africans, who buy
bonobo babies in misguided hopes of saving them, says to
primatologist Jo Thompson. But this encourages the
poachers to capture more. The human and bonobo DNA
sequences differ by only 2-3%.

Only seven wild leopards remain in Israel,
after a bus accidentally killed a nine-year-old male, two
months after jittery soldiers shot his mother. Three of the
surviving leopards are in the Judean hills, while four
occupy the Negev desert. The species is expected to die
out unless a breeding protocol can be worked out with
Oman, which protects a larger group of the leopards at a
nature sanctuary.
Persian Gulf War habitat damage will harm
wildlife for decades, Center for Remote Sensing head
Farouk El-Baz of Boston University recently told the
Geological Society of America. El-Baz noted the pres-
ence of 240 oil lakes, a constant menace to birds; buried
mines and ammunition; an asphalt-like surface in many
areas caused by the combination of oil and sand; and the
destruction of the desert surface by tank treads, leading to
more drifting sand and less vegetation. Flamingos off
Kuwait have turned white, El-Baz reported, because they
get their color from eating shrimp but oil pollution has
severly reduced the shrimp beds.
Tanzania is allowing wealthy hunters from the
United Arab Emirates led by deputy minister of defense
Mohamed Abdul Rashim Al Ali to kill endangered species
at will, sometimes with automatic weapons, conserva-
tionist Carolyn Alexander charged in the November 13
edition of The New York Times.
Twenty-two fishing nations agreed November
13 to cut total Western Atlantic bluefin tuna catches in
half, to protect the species. Japan, the leading bluefin
consumer, also took the biggest quota cuts. Bluefins were
nominated for U.S. endangered species listing last year,
but the move was rejected. They are not to be confused
with bluefish, which are also in trouble in the same vicini-
ty. The U.S. bluefish catch is down from 62,900 metric
tons to 17,000 since 1983.
Meadow vole populations are self-regulating,
not predator-controlled, researchers from the Institute of
Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, reported in
the November 23 issue of Nature. Stress related to over-
crowding causes immune system changes that curb fertili-
ty when the vole population reaches a certain level, even
if food remains abundant. The discovery challenges the
concept of predators as the primary wildlife population
regulatory system; if prey species regulate their own pop-
ulations, predators, including human hunters, are in
effect just highly mobile and heavily armed parasites.
Polar bears apparently fed up with humans are punch
ing out runway lights at the Barter Island airstrip in
northern Alaska, 200 miles above the Arctic Circle.
The island would otherwise be dark almost around the
clock at this time of year, and apparently that’s how the
bears like it, taking out two dozen at a time.
Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.