Wildlife Roundup: The Good News, July 2010

As spring comes to a close, some more reasons to feel a bit optimistic about wildlife conservations both here at home and around the world:

  • Some of Ethiopia's most charismatic and rare animals are making a comeback in the Semien National Park.  Ethiopian wolves (probably the most endangered wolf species in the world), the walia ibex, and the gelada baboon have all seen significant population increases in the Park, according to a recent survey.  (Hat tip: Green Fudge.)
  • Scientists at southern Texas’ Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge were recently thrilled to document a female ocelot with two kittens. According to officials, this is the first female ocelot in the Refuge known to have two kittens in a decade.  It brings the total number of cats protected by the refuge to thirteen, out of around fifty thought to live in the state.
  • Last January we brought you the hopeful news that 35 of the 69 crocodiles held at Cambodia's Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center were purebred Siamese crocodiles, one of the rarest species of crocodiles in the world.  Now, the Los Angeles Times reports that scientists recently discovered a nest with 22 Siamese crocodile eggs in a remote part of Cambodia.  Ten of the eggs were removed and successfully hatched in captivity.  Another three--which were thought to be unfertilized--hatched in the wild and are being raised by mom.
  • Least tern populations in California have made a huge comeback over the last thirty years, reports The Bay Citizen.  From a population once as low as 225 pairs, 7,000 pairs of terns can now be found in California.  Still, the bird’s population has not yet fully recovered.
  • Six whooping crane chick have hatched in Wisconsin’s Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. The chicks are part of a long-standing program to help recover the crane, made famous by the its ultralight-guided migrations from Wisconsin to Florida.
  • In Alabama, 18 Eastern indigo snakes were released into the Conecuh National Forest as part of a broader effort to reestablish a breeding population in the State.  Currently, the rare snake can only be found in parts of Florida and Georgia.  Eastern indigo snakes are dependant on the South's longleaf pine forest ecosystems. In other Alabama news, the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service  announced that it would reclassify the tulotoma snail, which can be found in the Coosa and Alabama rivers, from an “endangered” to a “threatened” species. Snail populations have rebounded and six new populations have been discovered.
  • In Ohio, Lake Erie watersnakes populations have incresed ten-fold in recent years, and now number over 12,000.  As a result, the federal government will likely move to declare the snake recovered.
  • Also in the Midwest, the Wisconsin State Journal reports that black bears have made a comeback in the Badger State and are now showing up in sufficient numbers that the State’s Department of Natural Resources “now believe southern Wisconsin is home to its own population of black bears for the first time since the late 1800s.” (hat tip: Coyotes, Wolves, and Cougars…forever!)
  • Efforts to restore the American chestnut tree, once one of the foundation species of much of East Coast’s deciduous forests have made progress, reports The Capital (Annapolis).  Hybrid, blight resistant, trees that are largely American chestnut are being planted in experimental plantations in Virginia and scientists are trying to develop a naturally spreading vaccine for blister rust.
  • In the Galapagos Islands, a new survey has revealed giant tortoise populations at a healthy 1,500 – 2,000 individuals.  That’s a far cry from the 15 or so tortoises that remained on the Islands in the 1970’s, a result of overgrazing by feral goats.  Removal of the goats, coupled with a captive breeding program, has led to a recovery of the species.  (Hat tip: Yale Environment 360
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