As the massive Gulf oil spill reaches the coast, threatening hundreds of species, I can’t think of a better time for our monthly roundup of good news about wildlife conservation:
- The United Kingdom has announced the creation of the Chagos Archipelago Marine Protected Area, a quarter-million square mile reserve in the UK’s Indian Ocean Territory. The Chargos Archipelago is home to Diego Garcia, as well as numerous other islands. The announcement doubles the word’s ocean areas under protection.
- In southern Maine, efforts to protect the endangered New England cottontail rabbit are making progress, reports the Portland Press Herald. More than a dozen landowners are now engaged in efforts to restore rabbit habitat—a process that take three to six years. Check out some video of the rare rabbits on Ram Island Farm, one of the participating landowners.
- Scientists have discovered a new species of monitor lizard on Luzon Island, in the Philippines. The lizard is described by The Telegraph as follows: “its scaly body and legs are a blue-black mottled with pale yellow-green dots, while its tail is marked in alternating segments of black and green. Males have a double penis, called hemipenes, also found in some snakes and other lizards.” And, yes, that last fact was a motivation for writing this post.
- Last month we brought you the good news that two California condors had laid an egg in the Pinnacles National Monument for the first time in over a century. This month we can report some even better news: the egg has hatched!
- An extraordinarily rare bird, the Santa Marta sabrewing, has recently been found off the coast of Columbia. Researchers caught the sabrewing, which is endemic to Santa Marta Island, in a mist net on March 24. The capture of the Santa Marta sabrewind is the first time that the bird has been definitively documented on the Island in decades.
- Did you know that cheetahs once roamed on the Arabian peninsula? I didn’t. Now, thanks to a breeding program and natural preserve on Sir Bani Yas Island, part of the United Arab Emirates, that may change. The reserve announced the birth of two cheetah cubs on the reserve, the first wild birth of cubs in the region since 1972. Park officials hope that they can build a viable cheetah population that can help control the Island’s wildlife.
- In Idaho, scientists have found two specimens of the giant Palouse earthworm, an extremely rare species considered extinct until 2005. The Palouse earthworm is one of the few species of earthworms native to the United States. The discovery gives an added boost to conservationists’ efforts to secure additional protections for the worm under federal law.