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May 29, 2013
THE ENDANGERED SPECIES IN NORTH AMERICA
North America is a large continent with very specific habitats of endangered species. Although it may seem that there a an abundance of one species, it may well be that the various habitats have sub-species of one name, e.g. a wolf. If wolves seem to a common species as nationwide, it is much more complicated.

PART II

THE HISTORY OF EXTINCTION IN NORTH AMERICA

Source: Endangered Species Handbook:

Plants

Extinctions of plants and trees can have a direct impact on human society. A sap found in 1997 by Dr. John Burley, research director of Harvard University's Arnold Arboretum, was tested by the National Cancer Institute and determined to be 100 percent effective in preventing cell replication of the AIDS virus. The plant sample came from an ancient swamp forest tree in Sarawak, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo. When Dr. Burley returned to the spot a year later for another specimen from the tree, only a stump remained, and no other trees of the same species could be found. The substance is being reproduced synthetically, but it is not known whether it will be as effective as the original compound.

Plant extinctions have accelerated in the past few centuries. An estimated 5,050 taxa of plants, including species, varieties and other taxonomic groups, have become extinct worldwide since 1700, according to Ghillean T. Prance of the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew. This implies at least 17 plants have been lost per year since 1700. Yet however high this rate appears to be, it is probably a low estimate. A 1998 study by botanists Kerry S. Walter and Harriet J. Gillett for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that 380 species, a number that does not include varieties and other taxa, have recently become extinct.

Near Centinela Ridge is Rio Palenque; once an extensive cloud forest, it is now diminished. Cloud forests are found in tropical Asia, Africa and Latin America. These ecosystems shelter such rarities as the iridescent green and red resplendent quetzal of Central America, but this ecosystem has nearly disappeared.

Introduction of alien species of plants can overwhelm native species and cause their extinction. Plants have also disappeared as a result of pollution in the form of acid rain caused by power plant emissions, heavy metal (especially lead) accumulations and other toxins in the air.

Common Name Range ***

Acritodon nephophilus Mexico

Adiantum spp. Puerto Rico

Aegiphila spp. (3) Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama

Alabama Canebrake Pitcher-plant Alabama

Alabama Leather Flower Alabama

Albizia spp. Mexico

Aleutian Shield Fern Alaska

Alfaroa spp. Mexico

Allenanthus hondurensis Honduras, Mexico

Amargosa Niterwort California, Nevada

American Chaffseed Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia

American Mahogany Central and South America, Florida

Andira galeottiana Mexico

Antioch Dunes Evening-primrose California

Antirhea spp. (3) Mexico, Puerto Rico

Apalachicola Rosemary Florida

Applegate's Milk-vetch Oregon

Ariocarpus bravoanus Mexico

Arizona Cliff-rose Arizona

Arizona Hedgehog Cactus Arizona

Artichoke Cactus Mexico

Ashy Dogweed Texas

Autumn Buttercup Utah

Baker's Cypress California, Oregon

Baker's Larkspur California

Banara spp. Puerto Rico

Barneby Reed-mustard Utah

Beach Jacquemontia Florida

Beach Layia California

Beautiful Goetzea Puerto Rico

Beautiful Pawpaw Florida

Bedstraw (2) California

Ben Lomond Spineflower California

Ben Lomond Wallflower California

Berberis spp. (2) California

Beruquillo Puerto Rico

Betula spp. Virginia

Big Leaf Mahogany Central America, North America, South America

Big-cone Pinyon Mexico

Bitterwood Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Venezuela

Black Lace Cactus Texas

Blowout Penstemon Nebraska

Boreal Felt Lichen Canada

Bradshaw's Desert-parsley Oregon, Washington

Brady Pincushion Cactus Arizona

Braun's Rock-cress Kentucky, Tennessee

Braunton's Milk-vetch California

Bristlecone Pine California, Nevada, Utah

Britton's Beargrass Florida

Brooksville Bellflower Florida

Brunfelsia spp. Puerto Rico

Bully Tree (5) Guatemala, Mexico

Bunched Arrowhead North Carolina, South Carolina

Burke's Goldfields California

Buxus spp. Puerto Rico

California Jewelflower California

California Orcutt Grass California

California Seablite California

California Taraxacum California

Calistoga Allocarya California

Cana Gorda Girdlepod Puerto Rico, Saba

Canby's Dropwort Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina

Canelo Hills Ladies'-tresses Arizona

Capa rosa Puerto Rico

Caper Shrub Mexico

Carex spp. (2) California, North Carolina

Carter's Mustard Florida

Catalina Island Mountain-Mahogany California

Celtis spp. Mexico, Texas

Central American Walnut Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua

Ceratozamia spp. (17) Belize, Guatemala, Mexico

Chase's Threeawn Puerto Rico

Chiangiodendron mexicanum Mexico

Chihuahua Spruce Mexico

Chrysophyllum spp. Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

Chupacallos Puerto Rico

Cigar-box Wood Central America, North America, South America

Clara Hunt's Milk-vetch California

Clay Phacelia Utah

Clay-loving Wild-buckwheat Colorado

Clover Lupine California

Coachella Valley Milk-vetch California

Coast Redwood California, Oregon

Coastal Dunes Milk-vetch California

Cobana Negra Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

Coccoloba spp. (2) Mexico, Puerto Rico

Commoner Lignum Vitae Central and South America, Puerto Rico, Thailand, Virgin Islands (British and U

Contra Costa Goldfields California

Contra Costa Wallflower California

Cook's Lomatium Oregon

Cooley's Meadowrue Florida, North Carolina

Cordia spp. (3) Central America, North America

Cornus spp. Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama

Coryphantha spp. (8) Arizona, Mexico, New Mexico, Texas

Coussarea spp. Mexico

Coyote Ceanothus California

Crenulate Lead-plant Florida

Crotalaria spp. Florida

Cushenbury Milk-vetch California

Cushenbury Oxytheca California

Cushion Buckwheat California, Nevada

Cyathea spp. Puerto Rico

Cymbopetalum spp. Mexico

Dahlia Cactus Mexico

Dalea spp. Alabama, Illinois, Tennessee

Daphnopsis spp. Puerto Rico

Davis' Green Pitaya Texas

Decazyx spp. Honduras, Mexico

Del Mar Manzanita California, Mexico

Deltoid Spurge Florida

Dendropanax spp. Honduras, Mexico

Dioon spp. (10) Mexico

Diospyros spp. (2) Mexico

Donrichard Moss Texas

Dwarf Bear-poppy Utah

Elaeagia spp. Mexico

Erigeron spp. Oregon

Erythrina spp. (2) Mexico, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

Eschweilera spp. Mexico

Escobaria aguirreana Mexico

Etonia Rosemary Florida

Eugenia spp. (7) Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico

Eureka Dune Grass California

Eureka Valley Evening-primrose California

Few-flowered Navarretia California

Fig Tree Mexico

Flordia Torreya Florida, Georgia

Florida Golden Aster Florida

Florida Perforate Cladonia Florida

Florida Yew Florida

Fountain Thistle California

Four-petal Pawpaw Florida

Fragrant Prickly-apple Florida

Franklin Tree Georgia

Fraser Fir North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia

Fringe Tree Florida

Frye's Limbella Moss Oregon

Furbish Lousewort Canada (New Brunswick), Maine

Furry Hesper Palm Mexico

Gambel's Watercress California

Garrett's Mint Florida

Gaussia gomez-pompae Mexico

Gavilan Blanco Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama

Gaviota Tarplant California

Gentian Pinkroot Alabama, Florida

Gentner's Fritillary Oregon

Geothallus tuberosus California

Giant Sequoia United States (California)

Gilia California

Ginoria nudiflora Mexico

Golden Barrel Mexico

Gowen Cypress California

Green Pitcher-plant Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee

Greene's Tuctoria California

Gregg's Pine Mexico

Guadalupe Island Cypress California, Mexico

Guadalupe Palm Mexico

Guatemalan Fir El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico

Guthrie's Ground-plum Tennessee

Hairy Orcutt Grass California

Hairy Rattleweed Georgia

Hampea spp. (2) Mexico

Harper's Beauty Florida

Harperella Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia

Hartweg's Golden Sunburst California

Hedyosmum spp. Guatemala, Mexico

Henriettea spp. Puerto Rico

Hickel's Fir Mexico

Hickman's Potentilla California

Higuero de sierra Puerto Rico

Hoffmann's Rock-cress California

Holly (4) Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico

Holmgren Milk-vetch Arizona, Utah

Holy Ghost Ipomopsis New Mexico

Holywood Lignum Vitae Central and South America, Florida, Mexico, Puerto Rico

Honduras Mahogany Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama

Howell's Spineflower California

Huachuca Water-umbel Arizona, Mexico

Hyperbaena spp. Mexico

Indian Knob Mountain Balm California

Inga spp. (6) Mexico

Ione Buckwheat California

Island Malacothrix California

Island Phacelia California

Jaffueliobryum arsenei Mexico

Jamaican Broom Puerto Rico

Jatropha spp. (2) Mexico

Jesup's Milk-vetch New Hampshire, Vermont

Johnston's Frankenia Mexico (Nuevo Leon), Texas

Juniper (6) Guatemala, Mexico

Kansas Aschisma Moss Kansas

Kearney's Blue-star Arizona

Keck's Checker-mallow California

Kern Mallow California

Kneeland Prairie Penny-cress California

Knowlton Cactus Colorado, New Mexico

Kodachrome Bladderpod Utah

Kuenzler Hedgehog Cactus New Mexico

La Graciosa Thistle California

Lake County Stonecrop California

Lakela's Mint Florida

Lancepod (2) Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua

Lane Mountain Milk-vetch California

Large-flowered Fiddleneck California

Large-fruited Sand-verbena Texas

Lennea viridiflora Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama

Lepidium spp. Utah

Leucaena spp. (5) Mexico

Licaria spp. Mexico

Lidflower (4) British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

Little Aguja Creek Pondweed Texas

Living Rock Cactus Mexico

Living Stone Cactus Mexico

Llume Palm Puerto Rico

Loch Lomond Coyote Thistle California

Logwood Puerto Rico

Lompoc Yerba Santa California

Longleaf Pine Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia

Longspurred Mint Florida

Luquillo Mountain Babyboot Orchid Puerto Rico

Lyon's Pentachaeta California

Lyonia spp. Puerto Rico

Magnolia (4) Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico

Maiden Fern (3) Puerto Rico

Malheur Wire-lettuce Oregon

Mammillaria spp. (24) Mexico

Mancos Milk-vetch Colorado, New Mexico

Manilkara Tree Puerto Rico

Many-flowered Navarretia California

Mappia racemosa Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Puerto Rico

Marsh Earwort Austria, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Korea, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom

Martinez Spruce Mexico

Matudaea trinervia Mexico

Maxwell's Girdlepod Puerto Rico

Maya Palm Belize, Guatemala, Mexico

Maytenus spp. (4) Mexico, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands (British and U

McDonald's Rock-cress California

Menzies' Wallflower California

Metcalf Canyon Jewelflower California

Mexican Flannelbush California, Mexico

Mexican Pistachio Guatemala, Mexico

Michigan Monkey-flower Michigan

Milkwood Puerto Rico

Milkwort (2) United States (Florida)

Minnesota Dwarf Trout Lily Minnesota

Monte Guilarte Hollyfern Puerto Rico

Monterey Clover California

Monterey Cypress California

Morefield's Leather Flower Alabama

Mountain Sweet Pitcher-plant North Carolina, South Carolina

Munz's Onion California

Myrcia spp. Puerto Rico

Napa Bluegrass California

Navasota Ladies'-tresses Texas

Nectandra spp. (4) Antigua, Barbuda, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, West Indies

Nichol's Turk's Head Cactus Arizona

Nipomo Mesa Lupine California

North Park Phacelia Colorado

Northeastern Bulrush Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia

Northern California Black Walnut California

Ocotea spp. Mexico

Okeechobee Gourd Florida

Orcutt's Spineflower California

Oregon Checker-mallow California

Oreopanax spp. (4) Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico

Osterhout Milk-vetch Colorado

Otay Mesa-mint California, Mexico (Baja California)

Ouratea spp. Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico

Ozobryum ogalalense Kansas

Palmate-bracted Bird's-beak California

Palo de nigua Puerto Rico

Palo de rosa Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico

Pedate Checker-mallow California

Peebles Navajo Cactus Arizona

Pelos del diablo Puerto Rico

Penland Beardtongue Colorado

Pennell's Bird's-beak California

Persea spp. (3) Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama

Persistent Trillium Georgia, South Carolina

Peter's Mountain Mallow Virginia

Peyote Mexico

Pilosocereus spp. Cuba, Florida

Pine Hill Ceanothus California

Pine Hill Flannelbush California

Pinus nelsoni Mexico

Pinus tecunumanii Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama

Pismo Clarkia California

Pitkin Marsh Lily California

Platanthera spp. Canada, United States

Podocarpus spp. Central America, North America

Pondberry Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina

Populus spp. North America (Mexico)

Port Orford Cedar California, Oregon

Potosi Pinyon Mexico

Pouteria Tree (4) Central America, North America

Presidio Clarkia California

Presidio Manzanita California

Prickly Pear (4) California, Mexico

Prunus spp. North America

Psidium spp. Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Helmet Orchid Puerto Rico

Quercus spp. (32) Alabama, Arkansas, Belize, California, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Florida, Georgia, Guatemala, Honduras, Louisiana, Mexico, Mississippi, Nicaragua, Oklahoma, Panama, South Carolina, Texas

Quillwort (3) Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina

Radiator Plant Puerto Rico

Recchia simplicifolia Mexico

Relict Trillium Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina

Rhododendron spp. Florida

Rhus spp. United States (GA, NC, SC, VA)

Rinorea spp. Mexico

Roan Mountain Bluet North Carolina, Tennessee

Robinsonella spp. (3) Mexico

Robust Spineflower California

Rock Gnome Lichen North Carolina, Tennessee

Rondeletia spp. Mexico

Rosewood (2) Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama

Rough Popcornflower Oregon

Royal Palmetto Mexico

Roystonea spp. Honduras, Mexico

Rugel's Pawpaw Florida

Running Buffalo Clover Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, West Virginia

Ruth's Golden Aster Tennessee

Rzedowski's Pine Mexico

Sabal gretheriae Mexico

Sacramento Orcutt Grass California

Sacramento Prickly Poppy New Mexico

Salix spp. United States (FL, GA)

Salt Marsh Bird's-beak California, Mexico (Baja California)

San Bernardino Bluegrass California

San Bernardino Mountains Bladderpod California

San Clemente Island Broom California

San Clemente Island Bush-mallow California

San Clemente Island Indian Paintbrush California

San Clemente Island Larkspur California

San Clemente Island Woodland-star California

San Diego Ambrosia California, Mexico

San Diego Button-celery California

San Diego Mesa-mint California

San Francisco Lessingia California

San Jacinto Valley Crownscale California

San Joaquin Wooly-threads California

San Mateo Thornmint California

San Mateo Woolly Sunflower California

San Rafael Cactus Utah

Sandlace Florida

Sandplain Gerardia Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island

Sandwort (2) California, Kentucky, Tennessee

Santa Ana River Woolly-star California

Santa Barbara Island Liveforever California

Santa Catalina Island Manzanita California

Santa Clara Valley Dudleya California

Santa Cruz Cypress California

Santa Cruz Island Bush-mallow California

Santa Cruz Island Fringepod California

Santa Cruz Island Malacothrix California

Santa Cruz Island Rock-cress California

Santa Rosa Island Manzanita California

Santa Rosa Island Pine California

Sapium spp. Mexico

Saurauia spp. (5) Guatemala, Mexico

Schoepfia spp. Puerto Rico

Schweinitz's Sunflower North Carolina, South Carolina

Scotts Valley Polygonum California

Scrub Blazingstar Florida

Scrub Lupine Florida

Scrub Mint Florida

Sebastopol Meadowfoam California

May 10, 2013


This blog entry is written, because I am fascinated by lions and their behaviour. The last two decades have brought so much new information about lions, their behavior in the wild, their hunting and pride habits, so I decided to put combine data from various sources. What most astonished me is left last.

The world's foremost lion expert reveals the brutal, secret world of the king of beasts.
By Abigail Tucker
Smithsonian magazine, January 2010
Biologists long believed that lions band together to hunt prey. But Craig Packer and colleagues have found that's not the main reason the animals team up. (Anup and Manoj Shah / www.shahimages.com), Edited version

THE KILLERS.

Mr, Packer, 60+, has spent a good part of his life at the park’s Lion House, a concrete, fortress-like structure that includes an office, kitchen and three bedrooms. Packer has been running the Serengeti Lion Project for 31 of its 43 years. It is the most extensive carnivore study ever conducted.

Packer’s reward has been an epic kind of science, a detailed chronicle of the lives and doings of generations of prides: the Plains Pride, the Lost Girls 2, the Transect Truants. Over the decades there have been plagues, births, invasions, feuds and dynasties. When the lions went to war, as they are inclined to do, he was their Homer.

“The scale of the lion study and Craig Packer’s vigour as a scientist are pretty unparalleled,” says Laurence Frank, of the University of California at Berkeley, who studies African lions and hyenas.

One of Packer’s more sensational experiments, documented by BBC, took aim at a longstanding mystery. A male lion is the only cat with a mane; some scientists believed its function was to protect an animal’s neck during fights. But because lions are the only social felines, Packer thought manes were more likely a message or a status symbol. He had 4 stuffed lions made with manes of either dark or light colour. He attracted lions to the dolls using calls of scavenging hyenas. When they encountered the dummies, female lions almost invariably attempted to seduce the dark-maned ones, while males avoided them, preferring to attack the blonds, particularly those with shorter manes.

Dark maned lion: http://images2.fanpop.com/images/answers/96000/96685_1246280208485.13res_395_480.jpg

Consulting their field data, Packer and his colleagues noticed that many males with short manes had suffered from injury or sickness. By contrast, dark-maned males tended to be older than the others, have higher testosterone levels, heal well after wounding and sire more surviving cubs - all of which made them more desirable mates and formidable foes. A mane, it seems, signals vital information about a male’s fighting ability and health to mates and rivals.

Lately, Packer’s research has taken on a new dimension. Long a dispassionate student of lion behaviour and biology, he has become a champion for the species’ survival. In Tanzania, home to as many as half of all the wild lions on earth, the population is in free fall, having dropped by half since the mid-1990s, to fewer than 10,000. Across Africa, up to one-quarter of the world’s wild lions have vanished in little more than a decade.

The reason for the decline of lions can be summed up in one word: people. As more Tanzanians take up farming and ranching, they push farther into lion country. Now and then a lion kills a person or livestock; villagers, once shooting nuisance lions, have started using poisons to wipe out whole prides. It is not a new problem, this interspecies competition for an increasingly scarce resource, but neither is it a simple one. Among other things, Packer and his students are studying how Tanzanians can change their animal husbandry and farming practices to ward off ravenous felines.

Scientists used to believe that prides, groups of a few to more than a dozen related females typically guarded by two or more males, were organised for hunting. Other aspects of the communal lifestyle, the animals’ affinity for napping in giant piles and even nursing each others’ young, were idealised. Packer and his collaborators have found that a pride isn’t formed primarily for catching dinner or sharing parenting chores or cuddling. The lions’ natural world - their behaviour, their complex communities, their evolution - is shaped by one brutal, overarching force, what Packer calls “the dreadful enemy.”


Other lions.

The Jua Kali pride lives far out on the Serengeti plains, where the land is the dull color of burlap, and termite mounds rise like small volcanoes. It’s marginal habitat at best, without much shade or cover of any kind. (Jua kali is Swahili for “fierce sun.&rdquo Water holes look more like wallows, prey is scarce and, especially in the dry season, life is not easy for the pride’s four females and two resident males, Hildur and C-Boy.

Early one morning last August, Serengeti Lion Project researchers found Hildur, a Herculean male with a blond mane, limping around near a grassy ditch. He was sticking close to one of the pride’s four females, whose new-born cubs were hidden in a nearby stand of reeds. He was roaring softly, possibly in an effort to contact his darker-maned co-leader. But C-Boy, the researchers saw, had been cornered on the crest of a nearby hill by a fearsome trio of snarling males whom Packer and colleagues call The Killers.

The whole scene looked like a “takeover,” a brief, devastating clash in which a coalition of males tries to seize control of a pride. Resident males may be mortally wounded in the fighting. If the invaders are victorious, they kill all the young cubs to bring the pride’s females into heat again. Females sometimes die fighting to defend their cubs.

The researchers suspected that The Killers, who normally live near a river 12 miles away, had already dispatched two females from a different pride, thus The Killers earned their names.

Fighting lions: http://www.ubonzoo.com/images/animal/lion_fight.jpg

C-Boy, surrounded, gave a strangled growl. The Killers fell on him, first two, then all three, slashing and biting as he swerved, their blows falling on his vulnerable hindquarters. The violence lasted less than a minute, but C-Boy’s flanks looked as if they’d been flayed with whips. Apparently satisfied their opponent was crippled, The Killers turned and trotted off toward the marsh, almost in lock step, as Hildur’s female companion crept toward a stand of reeds.

None of the Jua Kali lions had been spotted since the fight, but we kept riding out to their territory to look for them. Not known, if C-Boy had survived or if the cubs had made it, one afternoon we found JKM, the mother of the Jua Kali litter, lolling atop a termite mound as large and intricate as a pipe organ.

JKM had her eye on a kongoni antelope a few miles away; unfortunately, it was watching her, too. She was also scanning the sky for vultures, perhaps in the hopes of scavenging a hyena kill. She stood up and ambled off into the hip-high grass. We could see dark circles around her nipples: she was still lactating. Against the odds, her cubs seemed to have survived.

Perhaps the apparent good fortune of the Jua Kali cubs was linked to another recent sighting. A female from another nearby group, the Mukoma Hill pride, had been seen moving her own tiny cubs. The cubs were panting and mewling pitifully, clearly in distress; normally cubs stay in their den during the heat of the day. The Killers might have forsaken the Jua Kali females to take over the Mukoma Hill pride, which inhabits richer territory near river confluences to the north. The woodlands were controlled by a series of “dinky little pairs of males”: elderly Fellow and Jell-O; Porkie and Pie; and Wallace, the Mukoma Hill leader, whose partner, William, had recently died.

Packer recalled a similar pattern of invasion in the early 1980’s by the Seven Samurai, a coalition of males, several with spectacular black manes, who had once brought down two adult, 1,000-pound Cape buffaloes and a calf in a single day. After storming the north they’d sired hundreds of cubs and ruled the savanna for a dozen years.

Packer had been working under Jane Goodall in Tanzania’s Gombe Stream National Park, observing baboons. He slept in a metal structure called The Cage to be closer to the animals. In 1978, when Packer’s plan to study Japanese monkeys fell through, he and a fellow primatologist, Anne Pusey volunteered to take over the Lion Project started 12 years earlier by the American naturalist George Schaller.

Scientists were well aware that lions are ambush predators with little stamina and that they gorge at a kill, each one downing up to 70 pounds in a sitting. Lion territories are quite large - 15 square miles on the low end, ranging up to nearly 400 - and are passed down through generations of females.

Packer and Pusey set out not just to document lion behaviour but to explain how it had evolved. “What we wanted to do was figure out why they did some of these things,” Packer says. “Why did they raise their cubs together? Did they really hunt co-operatively?”

They kept tabs on two dozen prides in minute detail. They noted where the lions congregated, who was eating how much of what, who had mated, who was wounded, who survived and who died. They described interactions at kills. It was slow going, even after they put radio collars on several lions in 1984. Packer was always more troubled by the lions’ sloth than their slavering jaws. Following prides at night, the animals are largely nocturnal, he sometimes thought he would go mad.

Still, they began to see how prides functioned. Members of a large pride didn’t get any more to eat than a lone hunter, mostly because a solitary animal got the proverbial lion’s share. Yet lions band together without fail to confront and sometimes kill intruders. Larger groups thus monopolise the premier savanna real estate—usually around the confluence of rivers, where prey animals come to drink—while smaller prides are pushed to the margins.

Even the crèche, or communal nursery that is the social core of every pride, is shaped by violence, Packer says. He and Pusey realised this after scrutinising groups of nursing mothers for countless hours. A lactating female nursed another’s young rarely, usually after an unrelated cub sneaked onto her nipple. An alert lioness reserves her milk for her own offspring. During take-overs by outside males, solitary females lost litter after litter, while co-operating lionesses stood a better chance of protecting their cubs and fending off males, which can outweigh females by as much as 50 percent.

A lion créche: http://mamiejosiane.m.a.pic.centerblog.net/39krqjyv.jpg

Surviving cubs go on to perpetuate the bloody cycle. Juvenile females often join forces with their mother’s pride to defend the home turf. Males reared together typically form a coalition around age 2 or 3 and set out to conquer prides of their own. (Hard-living males rarely live past age 12; females can live longer.) A lone male without a brother or cousin will often team up with another singleton; if he doesn’t, he is doomed to an isolated life. A group of lions will count its neighbors’ roars at night to estimate their numbers and determine if the time is right for an attack. Lions had evolved to dominate the savanna, not to share it.

The first true lion probably padded over the earth about 600,000 years ago, and its descendants eventually ruled a greater range than any other wild land mammal. They penetrated all of Africa, except for the deepest rain forests of the Congo Basin and driest parts of the Sahara, and every continent save Australia and Antarctica. There were lions in Great Britain, Russia and Peru; they were plentiful in Alaska and the habitat known today as downtown Los Angeles.

Cave lions, an artist’s interpretation: http://www.ice-age-art.de/zeit_und_raum/grafix/loewe.jpg

In the Grotte Chauvet, the cave in France whose 32,000-year-old paintings are considered among the oldest art in the world, there are more than 70 renderings of lions, maneless and, according to fossil evidence, 25 percent bigger than African lions, prance alongside other now-extinct creatures: mammoths, Irish elk, woolly rhino. Some lions, drawn in the deepest part of the cave, are oddly coloured and abstract, with hooves instead of paws; archaeologists believe these may be shamans.

Lions pictured in Crotte Chauvet: http://grottedelascaux.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/chauvet-lions1.jpg

The French government invited Packer to tour the cave in 1999. “It was one of the most profound experiences of my life,” Packer says. But the dream-like quality of the images wasn’t what excited him; it was their zoological accuracy. By the light of a miner’s lamp, he discerned pairs, lions moving in large groups and even submissive behaviour, depicted down to the tilt of the subordinate’s ears. The artist, Packer says, “doesn’t exaggerate their teeth, he doesn’t make them seem more formidable than I would. This was somebody who was viewing them in a very cool and detached way.”

The lions’ decline began about 12,000 years ago. Prehistoric human beings, with their improving hunting technologies, probably competed with lions for prey, and lion subspecies in Europe and the Americas went extinct. Other subspecies were common in India and Africa until the 1800s, when European colonists began killing lions on safaris and clearing the land. In 1920, a hunter shot the last known member of the North African subspecies in Morocco. Today, the only wild lions outside Africa belong to a small group of fewer than 400 Asiatic lions in the Gir Forest of India.

Gir Forest lions: http://pixdaus.com/files/items/pics/9/44/43944_5abb47d1a8ca5a788f27012621287010_large.jpg

Lions persist in a handful of countries across south-eastern Africa, including Botswana, South Africa and Kenya, but Tanzania’s population is by far the largest. Though devastatingly poor, the nation is a reasonably stable democracy with huge tracts of protected land.

Serengeti National Park is perhaps the world’s greatest lion sanctuary, with some 3,000 lions. In Packer’s study area, comprising the territories of 23 prides near the park’s centre, the number of lions is stable or even rising. But the Serengeti was the exception, now the lions are poached there, too.

Part of the blame for Tanzania’s crashing lion population belongs to the trophy-hunting industry: the government allows the harvest of some 240 wild lions a year from game reserves and other unprotected areas, the highest take in Africa. Safaris charge a trophy fee of as little as $6,000 for a lion; animals are shot while feasting on baits, and many of the coveted “trophy males” have peach fuzz manes and haven’t even left their mother’s pride yet. The use of lion parts in folk medicines is another concern; as wild tigers disappear from Asia, scientists have noticed increasing demand for leonine substitutes.

The central issue, though, is the growing human population. Tanzania has three times as many residents now, about 42 million or so, as when Packer began working there. The country has lost more than 37 percent of its woodlands since 1990. Disease has spread from village animals to the lions’ prey animals, and, in the case of the 1994 distemper outbreak that started in domestic dogs, to the lions themselves. The lions’ prey animals are also popular in the burgeoning and illicit market for bush meat.

And then there is the understandable ill will that people bear lions, which loiter on front porches, bust through thatched roofs, snatch cattle, rip children from their mother’s arms, haul the elderly out of bed and seize women on the way to latrines. In the 1990s, as Tanzanians plowed large swaths of lion territory into fields, lion attacks on people and livestock rose dramatically.

Bernard Kissui, a Tanzanian lion scientist with the African Wildlife Foundation and one of Packer’s former graduate students, met Packer and me in Manyara, a bustling district south-east of Serengeti National Park. Kissui said five lions nearby had recently died after eating a giraffe carcass laced with tick poison. He wasn’t sure who had poisoned the lions or what had provoked the killings. A month earlier, lions had killed three boys, ages 4, 10 and 14, herding livestock, but that was in a village 40 miles away.

“Africa is not Africa without lions,” Kissui told me, but “human needs precede the wildlife’s. As the number of people increases, we take the land that would have been available to the wildlife and use it for ourselves. Africa has one billion people now. Think about what that one billion implies in terms of the future of lions. We are heading into a very complicated world.”

Young men from pastoral tribes no longer care to tend cattle, so little boys are sent into the bush instead. Packer and his students have shown that lions tend to target livestock tended by boys during the dry season.

Packer, Kissui and other scientists are experimenting with ways to keep people and lions safe. Special funds repay herders for lost livestock, if no lion is harmed. They have suggested that corn farmers in southern Tanzania hang chili peppers in their fields, which repel the bush pigs that lions relish, or dig ditches around their crops to keep the pigs out. And Packer is assisting Kissui with a program that subsidises herdsmen who want to replace their bramble-enclosed paddocks with fences of metal and wood.

In Manyara we visited Sairey LoBoye, a study participant. He was attired in stunning blue blankets and talking on his cellphone. LoBoye is a member of the Maasai tribe, whose traditional culture centers on safeguarding cattle: teenagers spear lions as a rite of passage. LoBoye said he simply wanted lions to leave him alone. Two years ago lions devoured one of his precious bulls, but since installing a modern fence, he hasn’t had any problems and his cattle and children are safer. “Now I can sleep at night,” he said.

Traditional Maasai village: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3393/3656248407_d8f2b90e93_z.jpg?zz=1

Packer argues that the Serengeti, like some South African parks, should be surrounded by an electric, elephant-proof, heavily patrolled fence that would encompass the whole wildebeest migration route and keep the lions in and the poachers out. The idea has little support, in part because of the tens of millions of dollars it would cost to erect the barrier.

Packer and Susan James founded a nonprofit organization, Savannas Forever, which is based in Arusha and monitors the quality of rural village life. They’ve hired Tanzanians to measure how development aid affects such variables as children’s height and weight; they’ll spread the word about which approaches are most effective so other programs can replicate them. The hope is that improving the standard of living will bolster local conservation efforts and give lions a better shot at survival.

As hard as it is for Packer to imagine the prides he has followed for so long ending in oblivion in the next few decades, he says that’s the most likely outcome: “Why am I doing this? I feel like I owe this country something. So 100 years from now there will still be lions in Tanzania.”

A fig tree in the savanna had served for decades as a lion scratching post. Under it, in the shadow, were tiny, yellow, heart-shaped faces. Mothers often leave their cubs for long stretches to hunt, but this was only the second time in Packer’s long career he’d found an unattended den. Young cubs are almost completely helpless and can starve or be eaten by hyenas if left alone too long.


But there is more to the lion story: White lions.

White Lions Return To Lowveld
Source: http://www.krugerpark.co.za/krugerpark-times-24-white-lions-return-18018.html

Global White Lion Protection Trust (GWLPT) translocated four white lions from Sanbona in the Western Cape to their new home bordering the Timbavati and the Greater Kruger National Park. The GWLPT is committed to protecting the white lion, as well as the indigenous knowledge that holds them sacred and strives to re-establish them in their endemic birthplace, following a strict scientific protocol. This is according to Linda Tucker, founder of the GWLPT and author of a book about the white lions, ‘Mystery of the White Lions’.

“The GWLPT’s commitment to conservation through sustainable development and community upliftment led them to secure an agreement with the Mnisi Tribal Authority,” says Tucker. It is here that the lion will finally be set free to roam the wild once they have been rehabilitated says Turner. According to Tucker, the Mnisis are claimants on the Andover Provincial Game Reserve, which borders communal land and is situated close to the Orpen Gate of the Kruger National Park and some 38km from the GWPT rehabilitation property.

“Taking its cue and guidance from African elders the GWLPT is committed to the protection of the white lions, and the indigenous systems, which holds these lions sacred. The GWLPT ultimately hopes to have them protected as this country’s ‘national treasure’,” says Tucker. “Returning the white lions to the Timbavati region is their birthright, we owe it to them – it’s our chance to restore the balance of nature.”

White lion male: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-hZ35osEi1rg/Ti6pmEsiyYI/AAAAAAAAAlA/Sal2RtmuKrM/s1600/white_lion.jpg

Says Tucker: “According to African tradition, it is sacrilege to so much as harm a white lion. Yet these majestic creatures were not protected by the previous government. They were artificially removed from the wilds of Timbavati into canned hunting and captive breeding operations in South Africa, and exported to zoos and circuses around the globe.”

“According to traditional belief, lions and land claim issues are closely related, because the King of the Beasts is also understood to be the ‘guardian’ of the land. This makes the already heated issued of land claims and lion hunting in the region all the more sensitive,” says Tucker. At present the land is managed by Parks and Gaming Limpopo, which is under the auspices of the Limpopo Department of Economic Development and Tourism headed by MEC Collins Chabane.

Not all the neighbours are equally excited about the re-introduction. Thornybush Game Reserve lodged a formal complaint on March 3, with Dr Rampedi of the Limpopo Provincial Government about the import of the white lion. The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve (TPNR) “consider the release of lion on a 280ha property inappropriate in terms of the DEAT draft rules and regulation on sustainable use of large predators.”

They specifically refer to the regulations regarding the suitable habitat needed to accommodate a viable group, the need for an EIA and the fact that no comment from adjacent landowners was called for by the GWLPT of their own accord. Dr Freek Venter, head of Nature Conservation in KNP said Dr Gus Mills, specialist on carnivore conservation, has serious misgivings over the introduction of these animals into the greater Kruger Park ecosystem for a number of reasons:

“The 3.5 year old white lioness and her cubs are almost certainly inbred as they have been selectively bred in captivity for a number of years. In his proposal Mr Turner admits that “Since the forced removal of white lions from this region, they have been kept in captivity and in most instances inbred to guarantee white offspring.” The introduction of inbred animals into the system can only have detrimental effects.

“Even if the lions to be introduced were not inbred, white lions did not only occur in the Timbavati area. As recently as 1992 a white lion male was regularly seen between Tshokwane and south of the Sabie River in the Kruger National Park (Annual Reports KNP 1990/1991 and 1991/1992). Furthermore, Turner maintains that his observations in the Timbavati region indicate that “certain tawny lions in this area are still carrying the white lion gene.” The genes are therefore still entrenched in the area. Given this we do not see the necessity forthe bloodline to be strengthened. White lions will in all probability reappear in the system in time, but it is likely that these individuals have a disadvantage over normal tawny lions and tend to be selected out, thus making their occurrence in the population a rarity.

White lion cubs: http://sbioak.org/AMAZING%20THINGS/New%20jokes/White%20Lion%20-%20Information%20about%20White%20Lions%20&%20Why%20they%20are%20white_files/white-lion-cubs.jpg


Wikipedia: The white lion is a rare colour mutation of the Kruger subspecies of lion (Panthera leo krugeri) found in some wildlife reserves in South Africa and in zoos around the world. White lions are not a separate subspecies and are thought to be indigenous to the Timbavati region of South Africa for centuries, although the earliest recorded sighting in this region was in 1938. Regarded as divine by locals,[1] white lions first came to public attention in the 1970s in Chris McBride's book The White Lions of Timbavati. Up until 2009, when the first pride of white lions was reintroduced to the wild, it was widely believed that the white lion could not survive in the wild. It is for this reason that a large part of the population of white lions now reside in zoos.

White lions are not albinos. Their white colour is caused by a recessive gene known as the color inhibitor gene, distinct from the albinism gene. They vary from blonde to near-white. This coloration does not appear to disadvantage their survival. The white lions of the Global White Lion Protection Trust (GWLPT) have been reintroduced into their natural habitat and have been hunting and breeding successfully without human intervention for a significant amount of time. White lions in South Africa are currently being bred almost exclusively for hunting, but Linda Tucker (the founder of GWLP and author of The Mystery of the White Lions) and her team are trying to change the South African hunting laws.

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Posted: May 10, 2013 3:27am
May 4, 2013

Quote from: Smithsonian magazine, March 2013
In Namibia’s Etosha National Park, Elephants in the Warrior Family gather at the Mushara water hole. (Caitlin O’Connell-Rodwell and Tim Rodwell ) Edited version


Start of quote:

"A roar broke the silence of a dead winter's night. I couldn’t make sense of the situation in the dark, so I reached for my night-vision scope. The shadows of four elephants came into view, too few for an extended family group. I watched an adult female marching up and down the most popular drinking spot, a concrete water trough fed by a natural spring. She swung her trunk back and forth, keeping the other three elephants away while she focused on the water. I zoomed in on her head, squinting for a clue to her identity. She lacked a left tusk and, when I looked at her left ear, I saw the shape of a “W” missing, the result of natural wear and tear. It was Wynona.

Now I could see that her companions were her male calf, her grown daughter and a granddaughter. But why weren’t they with the rest of the group? Something was amiss. I turned my attention back to Wynona, now skimming the water with her trunk, clearly agitated. What was she doing?

In the next moment, I saw the cause of her concern. A tiny head popped up out of the water, and Wynona dragged a wet and confused little calf out of the trough. I couldn’t believe it: Wynona, one of my favourite elephants, had a new baby.

Wynona had been looking pregnant since the beginning of the season, but I hadn’t thought that I’d be lucky enough to be around for the birth. In the 20 summers I’ve spent studying elephants at Mushara, a water hole in Etosha National Park, in north-central Namibia, I had never observed a birth here. The cows may have avoided giving birth at the water hole because the clearing surrounding it was too open, which would make newborns vulnerable to hungry lions and hyenas. Whatever the reason, the new calves I’d seen had usually had a few days to get their footing. By then, they and their mothers had rejoined the rest of the family.

Female elephants live in extended family groups of up to 30 members, who spend much of their lives near one another, bathing, foraging and socialising. But even before the birth of Wynona’s little one, her family relations seemed slightly off. Throughout the field season, she had been ostracised, even harassed. One day, just before the birth, I observed another elephant, named Susan (also pregnant), pushing Wynona away from the water hole. As far as I could tell, Wynona did nothing to instigate the bullying, which culminated in a trunk slap to her retreating rear end.

I also noticed aggressive behaviour toward elephant calves. These little ones are normally coddled by everyone—caring moms, watchful aunts, playful siblings and cousins. But some calves weren’t receiving this support. I had even seen Susan, with a whack of her trunk, pushing another female’s baby away from the rest of the family. Such behaviour made me wonder why Wynona’s extended family was absent for the birth of her calf. Although she and her immediate family may have just fallen behind the group, I was starting to consider another, darker possibility.

We’ve learned that male elephants are much more social than previously described. We began studying hierarchies and rituals among the bulls as they vied for dominance and sought companionship. Although male elephants have a reputation as loners - they leave their mothers’ extended families between the ages of 12 and 15 - we saw them band together in what I call “boys’ clubs,” jockeying for favour with the highest-ranking male.

This year we turned our attention back on the females. Elephant family groups are matriarchal, with the oldest female leading her daughters, granddaughters and other female kin, usually anywhere from 15 to 30 animals in all. (The number varies elsewhere; in Amboseli National Park, in Kenya, groups of 2 to 20 have been reported.) Often daughters, younger sisters and cousins pitch in to raise others’ babies—more care increases the probability that the calf will survive, meaning more family genes are passed to the next generation.

There is a pecking order among the families. In fact, we often identify the matriarchal groups by the distinguishing physical features of their leaders, giving them family names such as the Bent Ear, the Crumple Ear and the Crooked Tail clans, as well as the Actors led by Queen, the Athletes led by Mia and the Warriors led by Left Tusker. Clear ranks emerge even amid the pandemonium of three, four or sometimes five extended families arriving at the Mushara water hole—more than 200 elephants on some occasions.

I recall when three groups arrived at the water hole around the same time. The family that was first to the trough was quickly displaced by another, which occupied the best drinking spot (akin to the seat at the head of the table) unchallenged throughout the visit. Members of a third family weren’t given access to the trough at all and were displaced even from the surrounding shallow clay pan. Standing in a clearing, these low-ranking elephants huddled and rumbled until it was their turn.

There is also hierarchy within elephant families, and research has shown that rankings are determined by age and size, with the oldest or largest females at the top. Susan, for example, was larger and most likely older than Wynona. But Susan’s status didn’t fully explain why she pushed Wynona around.

I had been monitoring Wynona since the 2005 season, and had observed what seemed like the entire family ganging up on her. Now I realised that a few good seasons of rain meant that more than the usual number of babies were born in the past few years. But this year, the rain came early, so things dried up sooner than normal. With so many elephants and very little available water, not only families but also individuals within families were competing with one another for access.

Another low-ranking female, Greta, in the Actor family, was also shunned by her own family members, as was her little calf Groucho. And the most dramatic case was Paula, from the Athlete family, who was aggressively bullied by all the others. Again I saw that it wasn’t just the low-ranking females who were seen marginal, their calves were too.

That was in stark contrast to the treatment of new babies of high-ranking females in the Warrior clan, currently the most dominant family at Mushara. I’d seen three Warrior calves early in the day happily splashing together in the water hole pan, with no aggression directed at them. I’d also witnessed high-ranking females rescue a high-ranking baby that had fallen into the trough: In one case, I saw Mia, the Athlete family matriarch, kneel down and lift a calf of a high-ranking female out of the water as the calf’s mother stood by seemingly bewildered, not knowing what to do. Afterward, several family members gathered around to comfort the distraught youngster.

During the whole episode, Paula and her baby, Bruce, stood off in the distance. I wondered whether Mia would have done the same for Paula’s little one. After the poor treatment she’d received all season, I couldn’t imagine an elephant coming to Paula’s aid, much less the matriarch. Paula probably would have been left to handle the crisis alone (if she could have).

At this water hole, it seemed, hierarchy trickled down, with rank not dependent on age and size alone. Offspring of subordinate females were themselves subordinate. Perhaps, I began to think, high status could be hereditary, creating a kind of elephant royalty—and elephant peasants.

The concept of a caste system brought me back to Wynona and the poorly attended birth of her new baby. With so much aggression toward low-ranking little ones, perhaps Wynona put some distance between herself and extended family members to protect her baby from their hostile behaviour.

Researchers often describe female elephants as living in “fission-fusion” societies. But the implication is that the fission dynamic - the forces pulling the groups apart - is passive, that somehow the optimal number of elephants that forage and survive together is achieved when extended families slowly develop looser connections and become more distantly associated.

I was now starting to realise that the dynamic might be active, possibly following the direct bloodline of the matriarch, where only the highest-ranking, or “queen,” elephant and her direct descendants are welcome to hold court around the best water. Others are pushed away, forced to splinter off into separate groups.

There had to be an explanation for such targeted aggression toward family members. In other areas of Africa, where poaching is more prevalent, unrelated females have joined together to form new groups. Hostilities in those makeshift families might make sense, but elephants at Mushara are not under the same kind of pressure. What’s more, according to our records, both Paula and Wynona had been living within their families for at least the past eight years. And while it’s conceivable that a whole family might ostracise a sick elephant, chances were low that Paula, Wynona, Greta and their calves were all ill.

It struck me how much energy the higher-ranking females devoted to keeping the heat on the lower-ranking ones, not to mention the co-ordination involved. Mia trunk-slapped Paula again and again and again.

Perhaps the concepts of optimal foraging and survival of the fittest were at work here—that group sizes had to be maintained at a number that optimised the foraging opportunities of higher-ranking females and their calves in order to ensure the survival of the next generation. The chances that a calf would survive would increase with group size to a point. But a larger group at some point could become a hindrance, making it harder to find enough food, particularly in dry years.


As for Paula, Wynona and Greta, the matriarchs of their families might be ostracizing them in an effort to preserve the reproductive success of the higher-ranking and perhaps more closely related individuals—even if it takes energy in the short term to consistently antagonize subordinates and their offspring. Alternatively, this concerted effort might exist to minimize or prevent reproduction in lower-ranking females.

By collecting fecal DNA from as many individuals and family groups as possible, I hoped to piece together an extended family tree that would either support my hypothesis or further complicate the picture. But that would take time, at least an additional year to finish the data collection and analysis needed. All I had in front of me was the behaviour, and I did my best to document it. I reported a number of my observations in a blog I wrote last year for the New York Times, but only later did I formulate the evidence I’d accumulated into this hypothesis: Hierarchy is hereditary and it is the driver of an active, not passive, fissioning process.

As the season wound down at the beginning of August, the wind started to pick up. The dust of Etosha Pan blanketed the sky as twisters funneled their way across the clearing. The elephants were slower in coming to the water hole, the environment interfering with the smells and sounds that help them navigate.

The relative calm gave me time to assess Paula’s situation, which was clearly taking its toll on her and her calf, Bruce. She was with the Athletes a few days ago looking stressed. And Bruce hadn’t yet gained sure footing. On that occasion, the whole family came barreling in as usual, but this time headed straight for the pan for a cooling bath before going to drink from the trough.

Paula went for the pan as well, possibly not realizing that, with the heat of the day, this had become a prized locale. She clashed with another high-ranking elephant, while Bruce scampered off to avoid getting slugged by an angry trunk.

After the altercation, higher-ranking females repeatedly pushed Paula away. Mia barely drank, instead training her gaze on Paula, who kept her distance. Bruce did not escape the pressure. Not only was he deprived of a social experience, but he was also losing energy. Paula repeatedly tried to lift Bruce to a standing position using her hind foot as an elevating crutch, but to no avail. He wasn’t even able to nurse.

This is when I noticed Paula’s shrivelled mammary glands. She was nowhere near as full as the other new mothers, as if the intensity of her social plight had stopped lactation.

Could it be that lower-ranking cows were more stressed and thus had fewer offspring? If so, hormonal suppression could indeed be a factor within female elephant hierarchies. But it could be more complicated, as in the case of marmoset groups; female subordinates don’t reproduce at all because of socially induced suppression of ovulation. These female monkeys’ cortisol levels drop to extremely low levels, changes similar to those seen in some women experiencing acute or chronic stress.

Other researchers have suggested that one reason certain elephant families with older individuals succeeded in having more calves during droughts was that the more experienced animals knew how to cope with the challenge. And other research has demonstrated that dominant families had access to better forage, so it would make sense that they might have higher overall reproductive fitness. But how did this play out between females within the same extended family? Did same-aged females have the same number of calves on average, or did more distantly related family members have reduced reproductive fitness? Other elephant researchers had decided that dominance rank is not a predictor of female reproductive fitness, but maybe that question needs revisiting.

Reproductive suppression is well documented elsewhere in nature, either through endocrine or behavioural mechanisms or both, notably in primates such as baboons, mandrills and marmosets, but also in African wild dogs, dwarf mongooses and other species. Although it hasn’t been described yet in elephants, perhaps at least in tough times dominant females in my study population and their direct bloodline were exhibiting intolerance toward family members that were one step removed from the queen."

End of quote

This kind of behavior among elephants was news to me. But it may be an example of a primitive behaviour, because these heards live in a safe and more secluded environment than other elephants subject to poaching and trophy hunting. Also the idea of "royalty" bloodline was quite interresting, an in some areas may even be found in gorilla families. 

The concept of the survival of the fittest also in eminent. The weaker ones are at the bottom of the pecking order, but to be pushed and shoved as discribed above was a surprise. I knew that to happen among rival families, but not in a family group. But there is always the first of everything. 

On normal family groups the whole heard supports the weak ones, and also show respect to the dead ones, they even go to their desath sites to sniff and stroke the bones of a dead family menber, a sign of some concept of grief and missing. This study journal discribed something totally new, an outcast female with an putcast calf. Would the other elephants show respect to their bones after they die? That may remain unanswered. This article brought up so many unaswered questions instead of providing unswers to almost baffling questions of why, many whys.

Watch an elephant troop at waterside:

http://footage.shutterstock.com/clip-2751539-stock-footage-a-herd-of-elephants-drinking-water-at-the-river.html

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Posted: May 4, 2013 6:50am
May 2, 2013

A PREVIEW TO ENDANGERED AND EXTINCT SPECIES

THE HISTORY OF ENDANGERED SPECIES
IN NORTH AMERICA:

Introduction

Start of quote:


North America is a large continent with very specific habitats of endangered species. Although it may seem that there a an abundance of one species, it may well be that the various habitats have sub-species of one name, e.g. a wolf. If wolves seem to a common species as nationwide, it is much more complicated.

When the indigenous tribes lived in the North American continent, they lived in harmony with the nature, and took only what they needed. They believed that all living things had a spirit, so they respected everything alive. The living things were seen as a gift, not a source of profit. The animals living at that time were large – even huge – in numbers, and the hunting did not harm the sustainability of habitat or species.

Things took a turn for the worst, when European settlers entered the continent, saw its natural riches and started to exploit them. This is the time when the destruction of endemic animals and nature started. Things went even so far in certain areas that the tribes had to relocate to be able to find game for food. One such example is the wild turkey. Once living in millions in the native woods, the settles saw it as an easy meal and it was hunted down to extinction, only few survived the slaughter, and the wild turkey is the grandfather of the American turkey today.

The same happened with forests. The settles logger mercilessly destroying thousands and thousands of acres of endemic forests and with the forests they also destroyed the habitats of e.g. the wild turkey and many other endemic animals.

As the march of the settles advanced to the west, the destruction was inevitable in the name of progress. Dirt roads were built to connect settle villages to one another. The construction of the railway destroyed vast areas of nature, even dividing habitats in half (the buffalo) and broke the peace of nature with lots of noise, not to mention the beginning of air pollution from coal used in train engines. The same development happened in different parts of the world, in India (by the British) and in Africa (by the Frenchmen).
No one nation is to blame, it was the cause of human nature to take advantage of natural resources without thinking of the consequences. The settlers did not know what they had started, and continued the same way of systematically taking more than the needed and turned it into profit, a usual practice in those times, and it seems to continue.

At the same time, as progress continued it march, the indigenous tribes were driven to smaller and smaller areas causing land disputes and tribe wars in increasing numbers. The final outcome of all this was the creation of the Indian reservations. And that was the countdown of their ancient cultures.

The same has happened quite recently in the South American continent, as the logging and deforestation of rainforests continue and threat the one last of the original tribe still leading lives in traditional way; it is also happening in Africa, as few countries are planning to build hunting safari parks to the habitats of indigenous tribes still unspoilt by the modern civilisation.


THE HISTORY OF EXTINCTION IN NORTH AMERICA
Source: Endangered Species Handbook:
©1983, 2005 Animal Welfare Institute
A well composed, comprehensible and detailed presentation of the subject


GENERAL OVERVIEW

Plants
Extinction of plants and trees can have a direct impact on human society. A sap found in 1997 by Dr. John Burley, research director of Harvard University's Arnold Arboretum, was tested by the National Cancer Institute and determined to be 100 percent effective in preventing cell replication of the AIDS virus. The plant sample came from an ancient swamp forest tree in Sarawak, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo. When Dr. Burley returned to the spot a year later for another specimen from the tree, only a stump remained, and no other trees of the same species could be found. The substance is being reproduced synthetically, but it is not known whether it will be as effective as the original compound.
Plant extinction has accelerated in the past few centuries. An estimated 5,050 plants, including species, varieties and other taxonomic groups, have become extinct worldwide since 1700. This implies at least 17 plants have been lost per year since 1700. Yet however high this rate appears to be, it is probably a low estimate. A 1998 study found that 380 species, a number that does not include varieties or sub-species, have recently become extinct.
Introduction of alien species of plants can overwhelm native species and cause their extinction. Plants have also disappeared as a result of pollution in the form of acid rain caused by power plant emissions, heavy metal (especially lead) accumulations and other toxins in the air.
Livestock overgrazing is responsible for the extinction of countless plants, and endemic island species are among the most vulnerable. Such plants may occupy only a few acres.

All ecosystems are plant-based. Plants produce oxygen, making life on Earth possible, and perform a vital task for other life forms by absorbing vast amounts of toxins and carbon dioxide. Not only do many plants fade to extinction undocumented by botanists, but only a small percentage of living plants have been scientifically described.

Invertebrates
Invertebrates are key members of many ecosystems. Insects pollinate plants, while mollusks and gastropods form the basis of many aquatic food chains. Documentation of invertebrate extinction is incomplete, but a minimum of 375 species have become extinct worldwide in the past few hundred years.
Butterfly populations have declined from loss of host plants, pesticide use, over-collecting and loss of species upon which they depend. The Xerces Blue (Glaucopsyche xerces) is the only native species in the US to have become extinct in the early 1940’s.

Invertebrates play key roles in many of the world's ecosystems as food sources, for people as well as animals. Some, such as coral and mollusks, create habitats for thousands of species. Butterflies, mollusks and snails are among the planet's most beautiful creatures, yet conservation programs often neglect these important species.

Vertebrates
Vertebrate extinction worldwide since 1500 total at least 372 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. The largest number – 157 species – were birds, while 100 mammal species, 28 reptile species, 6 amphibians and 81 fish species disappeared. The number and rate of extinction have increased gradually in recent centuries.

Fish Extinction
The 2000 IUCN Red List lists a total of 81 species of fish that have become extinct over the past 400 years. In addition, a large number of fish have been extinguished in Central and South American lakes.
The introduction of exotic fish threatens many freshwater species, and over fishing is virtually eliminating a large number of saltwater species.
It is likely that many of the 156 species listed as “critical” in the 2000 IUCN Red List will be listed as extinct in the near future.

Amphibian Extinction
Six species of amphibians – all frogs – are known to have become extinct since 1500. No recorded amphibian extinction have taken place on islands, despite the large number of endemic amphibians native to large islands such as Madagascar, New Zealand, Cuba and Puerto Rico. Many of these, however, now face this threat. Yet it is likely that amphibian extinction occurred as a result of the draining of wetlands or due to their use in growing rice following the colonization of the islands by native peoples thousands of years ago.

A large number of frogs, at least 20 species, have not been seen for many years, and many may soon be declared extinct. Some of these are among the most unusual examples of evolution on Earth.
Many species are believed to be victims of ozone depletion, which increases the amount of ultraviolet radiation reaching the Earth, destroying frog eggs and often adult frogs as well.

Reptile Extinction
All but one reptile extinction have occurred on islands. At least 28 island reptiles have died out since 1600. A large number of reptile extinction took place in the Mascarene Islands, a group of islands in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar.
Elsewhere in the world, reptiles have been eliminated mainly as a result of the combined effects of non-native species, such as rats, cats and mongooses. Predators prey and compete for habitat and vegetation, livestock overgraze and settlers destroy habitats.

Bird Extinction
A bleak picture has emerged, showing a dramatic rise in the rate of bird extinction over the past 200 years. At least 157 species of birds have become extinct since 1500, and many more have not been seen in decades.
An important dimension of these extinction is the fact that birds are considered indicators of the planet's health. Birds are sensitive to environmental pollution, habitat loss and other signs of deterioration, as canaries were used by coal miners to test for the presence of lethal methane gas.
Their extinction will also affect the ecosystems in which they once lived, since many birds pollinate plants or disperse seeds, and without them, these plants die off. The story of the dodo is an example of such a relationship. In 1973, Dr. Stanley Temple, an ornithologist, made a remarkable discovery about the dodo. He noticed that a beautiful tree native to the island, the calvaria or tambalacoque tree, was reduced to 13 dying specimens, all more than 300 years old.

Mammal extinction
The Steller's sea cow was an enormous 24 to 30 feet long marine mammal, similar in appearance to the dugong and the manatee. The sea cow was larger, however, and swam in the cold arctic waters of the Bering Sea, enduring temperatures that would kill its closest relatives. The slow and sluggish sea cows were killed off only 27 years after their discovery.


ENTRY OF SETTLERS

An Abundance of Wildlife
Early European voyagers landing on the East Coast of North America were astounded to see animals in numbers they had never before witnessed. Fish swarmed in the millions.
Along the craggy rock-strewn coasts of Maine and the Canadian maritime provinces lived a large mink, almost double the size of the American species found elsewhere in the country. The sea mink's pelt had twice the value of the inland species in the fur trade. The last known sea mink was killed in 1880.

The male Labrador duck had striking black-and-white plumage, while the female was mousy brown. During the 19th century, these birds were often seen in fall and winter off New York's Long Island and on the New Jersey coast. Along with virtually all waterfowl of the day, they were shot for the feather and food markets

Further north, a flightless bird walked upright on its flipper feet. At a length of 3 feet, the great auk (Alca impennis) was the size of a large penguin, and could have been mistaken for one. At one time, these birds ranged along most of the coasts and islands of the North Atlantic, from northern France through Scandinavia, England, Scotland and Iceland, to North America's eastern coast as far south as Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. When cornered on land, however, they were helpless. Both parents raised the chicks, and they refused to desert their nests, even when attacked. For centuries, hunters took advantage of this trait, killing them during their breeding season. When the auk was nearing extinction in the 19th century, hunters went to search them for museums and egg collections. The eggs and skins of the Garefowl, as known to Europeans, were sold at auction in London and to European museums for very high prices.

Other marine creatures barely avoided extinction during the period of unregulated killing of wildlife that began in the 1600s. The Atlantic walrus herd off the Canadian coast numbered at least a quarter of a million animals prior to European exploitation. From 1925 to 1931, the last large population in the Canadian Arctic on Baffin Island was wiped out by the killing of 175 thousand animals. Only 25 thousand walruses remain in this region. Russia classifies the species as vulnerable and the population in the Laptev Sea as rare.

Although the Pacific gray whale has now recovered from near-extinction from whaling, few people are aware that this species once lived in the Atlantic as well. Large numbers of Atlantic gray whales migrated along North America's eastern coast. Atlantic gray whales swam south along the shore of the coasts of Maine, Massachusetts and Long Island, down to the Florida Keys, where their calves were born. By the early 1700s, New England whalers had completely eliminated this whale.

The Blackfin Cisco (of the salmon family) and Deepwater Cisco, native to Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, "jumbo herring" became commercially extinct by the late 19th century, after the World War I. Large fishing vessels caught up to 15 million tons from one lake per year and they were declared extinct by the World Conservation Union, along with the longjaw cisco.

This over fishing was repeated in the Atlantic waters off New England and southern Canada. Cod, halibut and flounder abounded here, providing ample fish for centuries to local fishing communities. Factory fishing ships began fishing in the 1950s and soon depleted the stocks. National legislation banned them from the Atlantic coast and smaller vessels took their place. With few restrictions on take, and too many fishermen, the stocks crashed in the 1980s and 1990s. With the encouragement of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMF, fishermen turned to small sharks known as dogfish and in a few years, they also became depleted due to their extremely slow reproductive rate, a fact not appreciated by the NMFS. Fishery conservation legislation has been enacted, but these stocks may never return to former abundance.

All along the East Coast, colonists built cities at river deltas, which were surrounded by vast salt marshes. These locations were considered prime seaport and manufacturing sites, and the marshes were filled in and polluted, ruined by construction of drainage ditches to control mosquitoes and halt malaria. These ditches created habitat for mosquito breeding and caused the water level in the marshes to drop. Water bird populations declined as a result, and they no longer filled their role as fish and shellfish nurseries, water filters and flood controls.

At the southern tip of the United States, the Florida Everglades, one of the largest wetlands in the world, once provided nesting and feeding ground for millions of egrets, herons, pelicans and other water birds. This sawgrass wilderness sheltered vast numbers of American alligators. Cougars, known as Florida panthers, were common, and preyed on the small Everglades white-tailed deer. Water diversion projects for agriculture and the new human population of Miami and coastal cities resulted in Everglades drying out. Exotic plants have proliferated in the marshes, overwhelming the native grasses and choking waterways. Ninety percent of the populations of water birds disappeared. The American crocodile, a saltwater species inhabiting coastal areas, was once numerous in Florida Bay and in the mangroves of the Keys. Today, this is one of the most endangered species in the country, numbering fewer than 400 animals, critical in number.l

Many Everglades bird species are also endangered, and one recently became extinct: the dusky seaside sparrow. By the time it received the protection of the US Endangered Species Act, this subspecies was nearly extinct. Its limited habitat of spartina grass on Florida's central Atlantic coast had been flooded for mosquito control and drained for the construction of nearby NASA facilities. The last purebred dusky seaside sparrow died at the age of 13 in 1987. The breeding program was not successful, and by 1997, the related subspecies had also become endangered.

Two spectacular water birds, the American flamingo, and the scarlet ibis, were once residents of south Florida. Both species were eliminated in the 19th century by commercial demand. The feather trade of the late 19th century nearly exterminated the majority of North America's wading birds and many of its seabirds through unregulated slaughter for plumes to adorn ladies' hats. Egrets, roseate spoonbills, herons, terns and other birds with long or colorful feathers were killed indiscriminately.

The Eastern Forests
Ancient hardwood forests stretched for thousands of square miles in eastern North America. Massive oaks, chestnuts, hickories, walnuts and beech trees dominated, some reaching heights of more than 100 feet, with trunks 20 or more feet in circumference. Giant hemlocks and many kinds of pine dominated some areas. The passenger pigeon was most abundant in these forests, and its range extended from southern Canada, New England and the Great Lakes west to the Great Plains and south to Virginia. This is the only pigeon (living or extinct) that flocked and nested in vast numbers, darkening the sky during their migrations. Prior to settlement of the continent by Europeans, as many as 5 billion birds inhabited Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana alone. The forests that stretched nearly unbroken across eastern North America were crucial to the survival of the passenger pigeon flocks. Nut trees (oaks, hickories and beeches) produced large crops only every few years. By the 18th century, naturalists began to observe that nesting colonies were disappearing; the last great nesting in New England took place in 1851 near Lunenburg, Massachusetts. In 1892, it was noted that “the extermination of the passenger pigeon has progressed rapidly during the past twenty years, and their total extermination might be accomplished within the present century". This statement proved correct. The incredible wildlife spectacle of billions of passenger pigeons ended completely on March 24, 1900, when the last wild bird was killed in Pike County, Ohio. A captive passenger pigeon named Martha, about 29-years-old and the last of her species, died at 1 p.m. on September 1, 1914 at the Cincinnati Zoological Gardens. Logging and settlement of the eastern hardwood forests destroyed forever the ancient habitat of these lovely pigeons.

European settlers destroyed this rich ecosystem by commercializing the resources, turning ancient forests into short-term logging profits and wild birds, deer and fur animals into commodities. The new Americans, adopting the European approach to nature, tamed the wilderness and began a program of eliminating natural predators. They considered the reverence with which Native Americans had treated all living things to be a weakness.

When colonists arrived, the wild turkeys was abundant in eastern forests. Uncontrolled hunting and the cutting of forests eliminated these birds from state after state: Connecticut by 1813, Massachusetts by 1851, New York in the mid-1800s, South Dakota by 1875, Ohio by 1880, Wisconsin by 1881, Michigan by 1897, Illinois by 1903, and Iowa by 1907.

Once the eastern forests echoed with the howls of gray wolves, common throughout the continent except the Southeast, where the smaller red wolf roamed. Both these wolves were deliberately persecuted into extinction by colonists who placed bounties on their heads, effectively eliminating them from the wild in the eastern United States prior to the 20th century. Seven races of the gray wolf are now extinct, bountied and poisoned by settlers. About 1911, the Newfoundland race was the first to become extinct. This pure white, big wolf had a scientific name inspired by the Beothuk Indian tribe of Newfoundland; both the wolf and the tribe were exterminated by Europeans.

The red wolf became extinct in the wild in the 1970s, after centuries of persecution and habitat loss. Two subspecies, the Florida black wolf and the Texas red wolf are extinct, and only one race survives. The last members of the species were taken into captivity and bred successfully. A reintroduction program in portions of its original range has brought the species back, and about 100 red wolves now live in the wild.

In the northern woods, eastern subspecies of the American bison, elk, caribou, moose and white-tailed deer were extremely common. An unrestricted slaughter of these ungulates went on for centuries. The Eastern elk became extinct due to hunting to obtain its teeth, used as watch-chain insignia by a private organization, the Fraternal Order of the Elks.

Hunting caused the extinction of the Eastern bison by 1800. The last herd of Eastern bison was slaughtered in Union County, Pennsylvania in the winter of 1799 to 1800, as the animals huddled helplessly in the deep snow; the last individuals of this race were killed near Charleston, West Virginia in 1825.

Caribou and moose, native to northern New England and southern Canada, were hunted to extinction in the United States in colonial times, surviving only in Canada.

The white-tailed deer has reoccupied its former range in the northeastern United States.

Endless Grassland
Stretching more than 1,000 miles from Illinois west to the Rocky Mountains, and from southern Canada south to Texas, the North American Prairie seemed endless.

An estimated 50 million American bison thundered across the prairie. Coexisting with these bison were Plains tribes of Native Americans: Pawnee, Blackfoot, Crow, Ojibwa, Sioux, Mandan, Comanche and others. The world's first national park, Yellowstone, was set aside in 1872, protecting some 2 million acres of mixed grassland and forest and the last wild bison in Montana and Wyoming, but Native Americans were excluded.
The US government encouraged the slaughter of bison as part of a deliberate campaign to vanquish the Plains tribes by removing their means of subsistence; the slaughter was also a free-for-all hunting spree by crews working on the transcontinental railroad after 1830. With the completion of the railroad, the great herd became split in half, and migrations that once took them from Montana to Texas were ended by a shooting spree lasting until the late 1880s. Only the protection of two small herds in Yellowstone National Park and Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta, Canada, totaling about 541 individual bison, prevented the extinction of the species. Other grassland wildlife was slaughtered for the meat trade.

Dominant among all the prairie predators, the grizzly bear was ery common on the prairie, these bears lived over most of western North America, from the Arctic Circle to northern Mexico. Hunters made expeditions to kill these animals, and they eliminated grizzly bears from one area after another. South of Alaska, only Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park harbored grizzly bears by the 1940s.

Fur trapping intensified in the 19th century, professional trappers combing the countryside, setting leg hold traps and spreading poison to kill the most valuable fur animals such as beaver and river otter. Within a short time, both animals had disappeared from large parts of the country, including most of the Midwest. Trappers killed until these once common rodents became rare in many parts of the country. Their fur was highly valued and used in the manufacturing of top hats in England and Europe. These animals, which had never been abundant, disappeared from two-thirds of their original range south of Canada.

Other predators, such as the gray wolf, the kit and the swift fox were nearly eliminated from the United States south of Alaska. Fur trapping was followed by control programs to benefit livestock ranchers. The gray wolves of the prairie were often white or pale gray and were entirely eliminated.

The fleetest animal in North America nearly became extinct. The pronghorn, a species found only on this continent, is not a typical antelope, but the last survivor of a family of ungulates long extinct. By the turn of the century, so many pronghorn had been shot by settlers and meat hunters that the species was reduced to endangered status. Yellowstone National Park was crucial to the species' survival by protecting remnant herds.

Another victim of the slaughters of the 19th century was the Badlands bighorn sheep. The last record of this grayish brown sheep in North Dakota was an old ram killed about 1905, and the dates of extinction of the South Dakota and Nebraska populations are unknown..

Today, the tallgrass prairies have become wheat and corn fields, crisscrossed by highways, and dotted with towns and cities. Even in the few areas where native grasses were not plowed under, diversity of grass species has declined from 200 to 30 species in most areas because of heavy livestock grazing.

Western Landscapes
In the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, deserts harbored a great wealth of species. The Mojave, Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts of the southwest differ from one another in their vegetation, topography and wildlife. They are mostly federally owned, and management has been primarily to benefit livestock owners and other users.

The Sonoran Desert's unique and beautiful plant life has declined in the decades since 1970 because of unrestricted development for suburban. Most residents in the Southwest have eliminated natural desert vegetation and planted grass lawns in front of their homes, requiring almost constant watering and heavy use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, all pollutants of the water table.

Merriam's elk was native to various mountain ranges of southern Arizona and New Mexico. The antlers of this elk were the largest of all the elk races. Vulnerable because of its restricted range, it was hunted by cattle ranchers in the late 1800s, and crowded out by livestock. The last individuals were killed around 1906 in the Chiricahua Mountains.

Thousands of elk and bighorn sheep died from diseases brought by domestic cattle. Lacking natural resistance, entire populations died soon after they came into contact with domestic cattle and sheep that carried disease.

After the end of the Mexican War in 1848, American settlers poured into California and agriculture began on a grand scale. In the late 1800s, California became thickly settled. The grasslands, deer, elk and the distinctive California grizzly bears that roamed California's valleys were eliminated by hunting and habitat destruction.

In northern California, Oregon and Washington, ancient forests of hemlocks, pines, cedars and coast redwoods had grown undisturbed for thousands of years. These forests lined 2,000 miles of Pacific coastal region from northern California through British Columbia, ending in southeastern Alaska. Although the sequoias and coast redwoods have escaped extinction, they are far rarer than they once were, and the redwoods continue to be cut to be made into lawn furniture and decks.

A race of bison native to these forests, the Oregon bison, were once native to southern Idaho, northern Nevada to southeastern Oregon and northeastern California, but they died out soon after the arrival of the early explorers.


Vanishing Species

Threatened Species of the World
The 2000 IUCN Red List found 3,507 vertebrates and 1,928 invertebrates in high degrees of threat worldwide. Plants classified as Critical, Endangered or Vulnerable totaled 5,611 species. These are minimum figures because only birds and mammals have been thoroughly examined for status. When assessments are carried out on the remaining species, the list will doubtless grow far longer.

Many of the most magnificent, graceful, beautiful and zoologically curious animals on Earth are threatened with extinction. A growing number of these, such as sea turtles, sharks and crocodiles, have survived virtually unchanged for hundreds of millions of years, and if not for the human activities that are pushing them toward extinction, they would likely survive millions more.

Almost all the graceful cranes on Earth since the Miocene Epoch, are endangered from loss of habitat and hunting.

The most surprising finding was the high number of mammals listed: 2,046 species, of which 1,130 species were in higher categories of threat (Critical, Endangered and Vulnerable). Thus, of the approximately 4,000 species of mammals, 28 percent are highly threatened, and more than half are in some degree of threat.

The rate at which animals and plants are declining has reached such proportions that even familiar species considered common with stable populations only a decade ago are now threatened.

Animals listed as Near-Threatened or Data Deficient totaled 3,324 species, of which 2,364 species are vertebrates in the 2000 IUCN Red List. The grand total of 8,759 vertebrates in all categories comprises 20 percent of all mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish on Earth. In the early 1980s, only 1,000 vertebrates were listed by the IUCN. This means that in just 20 years, this total has risen by almost 900 percent.

Many zoologists and conservationists are now resigned to the rising level of extinction and believe that, within a century, 80 percent of all species living today will be extinct. Such predictions may be overly pessimistic, but unless the public is made more aware of the precarious status of a growing number of plants and animals and demands strong action, the prognosis may be fulfilled.


What is Threatening Species?
Human activities are at the root of virtually all extinction threats. Destruction of fragile habitats, wetlands, coral reefs, tropical and temperate forests, rivers and grasslands has accelerated in recent years due to human population increases and commercial exploitation of forests, ocean fish and other wildlife, as well as the introduction of non-native species, either intentionally or accidentally. The massive pollution and chemical contamination of air, water and soil and even the atmosphere that surrounds the Earth are altering the climate and bringing about unforeseen declines in wildlife and plants. The list of the agents of extinction could be:

Human Population Growth
Habitats Under Threat
Non-Native Species Introductions
Persecution, Hunting and Trade
Pollution and Disease
Traits of Vulnerable Species


The prognosis for the human population growth


The predicted growth of human populations is in itself a threat to all species, because there are more to feed and there are always those who want to stretch the limit of legality for their own benefit and also palate.


By identifying the traits that characterize species likely to become endangered or fade to extinction, it is possible to afford them and their habitats extra protection and carefully monitor their status. The tragic losses of so many of these "red flag" species should be avoided in the future, and can be, with immediate action. Ideally, species should be conserved when their populations are still healthy, before they become genetically impoverished and their populations fragmented.

Reasons why species have become extinct:
1. Endemic species, or animals and plants that are restricted to a relatively small area, such as an island, are inherently vulnerable to extinction. They have incurred the greatest number of extinction in the past 400 years.
2. Specialization of habitat or diet has caused much extinction. Animals that depend on a certain type of habitat or food source and cannot adjust to alterations, whether natural or human-caused, are extinction-prone.
3. Long-lived species with low reproductive rates and low natural mortality are vulnerable to extinction.
4. Flightless birds and slow-moving animals are helpless in the face of hunting pressure and kills by introduced predators and humans.
5. Large animals have been vulnerable to over hunting since the Pleistocene Epoch. In recent centuries, whales were added to the list of large species unable to escape guns or harpoons.
6. Wild animals and plants which have a value as food, pets, ceremonial objects or marketable products to humans are prime candidates for extinction. The list of animals that have been hunted to extinction for food is long.
7. Altruism, or the unselfish care for members of one's own species, highly admired as a human trait, has been fatal to many animals: e.g. the Passenger Pigeon, Dodo, Carolina Parakeet and Steller's Sea Cow. In their evolutionary history, this behavior served to preserve bonds between animals and to frighten off predators. When confronted with guns or other weapons wielded by humans, animals that come to the aid of fallen mates or flock mates can be easily killed themselves.
8. Species breeding in colonies or requiring large numbers of their own kind for protection, to locate food sources or for other means of survival, are vulnerable to extinction.
9. Governments around the world grant logging or mining contracts on a daily basis. Thousand-year-old forests and wildernesses covering vast areas are bargained away in deals made between corporate representatives and government officials, often through bribery.


What can be done?

1. Preservation
More and more countries are taking a keen interest in the preservation of wildlife, and some have ancient protective traditions. The Asian country of Bhutan has a Buddhist ethic of not harming living things. It is the only Himalayan country to have protected the majority. A wintering population of endangered Black-necked Cranes is zealously protected by the Bhutanese who live in the valley where the cranes come each year; they regard the birds as integral to their lives and believe that, without them, their harvests will fail.

2. Education
Educating children to respect the environment and conserve endangered species leaves a lasting impression if begun in grade school and continued throughout schooling. Children have an innate sympathy and love for animals, and become enthusiastic conservationists. Education about national laws and native wildlife and plants of the region encourages students to have a lifelong desire to protect them and a sense of guardianship that results in opposition to actions that would harm them. Environmental education is required in about two-thirds of US states, from grade school onward.

3. Government
National Wildlife Refuges are vital habitat for thousands of threatened and declining species and were first set aside during the Theodore Roosevelt Administration to protect endangered sea birds being killed for their plumes. Now refuges and preserves are key to the survival of Red Wolves, Bald Eagles, Whooping Cranes, Florida Panthers and numerous rare plants, butterflies and other wildlife. In many of these refuges, oil drilling and other exploitation occurs, causing damage to ecosystems and threatened wildlife. The protection these refuges receive is far less stringent than that of national parks and monuments. In some refuges, high-speed roads cut through the middle of marshes where an array of rails, turtles and wetland species end up run over by vehicles. In the largest refuge, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, most of the land is open to oil drilling, where water and air pollution have been severe problems.

4. Tools
A great blossoming in natural history information has erupted in recent years. Internet websites, accessible to all, have been dedicated to endangered species research programs, biological studies, organizations devoted to helping animals and data compilations. The Internet sets up communications between people around the world, in which education, advice, and even funding help for threatened species and ecosystems can be arranged. Critical situations threatening species can be publicized immediately around the world. On the Internet, students and the public can follow the movements of individual sea turtles, great whales and many other animals equipped with radio transmitters sending signals to satellites. Libraries can be accessed, and websites set up by state, federal and private entities provide highly specific information on endangered species and the environment. Experts may be consulted through these sites.

End of quote.
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It has been evident for a long time that man is nature’s and his own worst enemy. Our governments need to take preservation and conservation issues seriously, if they want to leave a sustainable legacy. The future generations may have few words to say about us, but that is only expected. What the government permits allow companies to do to nature is horrible, and the legislative organs should take measures immediately to stop all harmful and polluting active and future doubtful undertakings. Best examples could be fracking inside a natural reserve, tar sad pipe lines running through states with the potential spill danger, over fishing the world’s oceans, killings of cetaceans for scientific purposes, futile dolphins slaughters, exotic animals used in circuses, traditional medicine and as pets, oil spills on the oceans (Exxon and BP), natural disasters causing great danger by radioactive radiation and future mutations and risks for cancer… the list just keeps getting longer week by week.

Sometimes it seems that all the attempts to fund the conservation work to protect animals and their habitats is just futile, because the more humans try to protect and preserve, others try harder to get as much as they can as quickly as they can. Exploitation of nature and its resources is still going on strong, and nations should unite in their efforts to protect endangered species and their habitats from any harm, even at the expense of huge consortiums and their lobbyists.

Even if it seems bleak, we do all we can to educate and share the knowledge of the threats to animals caused by human decisions and actions.


To be continued…

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Posted: May 2, 2013 11:55am
May 1, 2013
Focus: Endangered Species
Action Request: Petition
Location: United States

All the wolves living in USA are related, and each group is a sub-species, because they have slight genetic variations, like colour. The wolf has been hunted ever since the first settlers set foot on the American continent and were astonished by its wildlife. Wolves have been hunted since 1600s and the hunt is still going strong. WHY? The wolf, tempted by the smells of any human waste, just follow their noses to find something to eat. The urbanization has caused much grief to the wolf by diminishing its habitats in all of USA. the persistent hunt for wolf and also bounty hunt for wolf in not sustainable development of the species, on the contrary wolves are slaughtered mercilessly regardless to its sub-species and population numbers. All wolves were almost hunted to extinction in 1600s, and at the of 1800s, their numbers were dwigling and they became highly endangered, and even though the population started to grow, it was quite inbred at first, but fortunately stray wolves joined the packs and brought with them new genetic material. some wolf species were killed to extinction, and they no longer remain in the nature, only in zoological museums as stuffed exhibits and not good at all. 

We must protect all wolves, we cannot afford to lose any more sub-species, the loss has already been too great, it has wiped out several endemic wolf populations. And the relentless killings in North America continued as man moved eastward, wiping out species after species.

Seven races of the gray wolf are now extinct by human actions: bounty hunting and fur hunting. The red wolf, the Newfoundland race was the first to become extinct. The red wolf became extinct in the wild in the 1970s, A reintroduction program in portions of its original range has brought the species back, and about 100 - 200 red wolves now live in the wild. Around 1911, the Newfoundland race of gray wolves, pure white, and large. was the first to become extinct.  

All the wild animals, what ever they feed on, have their own ecological niche in the ecosystem and taking one factor out the balance will be disturbed and the change will not be for the betters, a wolves keep the rodent population under control (rodents are a staple art of wolves' diet). The desire to wipe out wildlife on this planet has reached its all time high, and as the competition of fossil fuel goes on, more wildlife will be threatened by killings thus making then endangered an also vulnerable. That is not sustainable development, but a plan of a genocide. All sub-species of wolves need legal protection in the USA.

GRAY WOLVES: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/597/028/373/?z00m=20546725#13674007301492&action=fb_connect&fb_id=0

WESTERN WOLVES: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/747/991/812/maintain-federal-protection-for-western-wolves/MEXIVAN WOLF: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/tell-us-fish-and-wildlife-service-release-mexican-wolves-into-new-mexico-before-its-too-late/

GENERAL: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/8/sign-petition-to-show-support-to-protection-of-wolves-worldwide/

CALIFORNIAN WOLVES: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/991/349/771/please-extend-california-endangered-species-act-protection-to-gray-wolves

YELLOWSOTE WOLVES: yellowstone http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/150/332/593/

ALBERTA WOLVES: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/296/550/793/

WYOMING: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/265/177/649/save-wolves-in-wyoming/#13674021142392&action=fb_connect&fb_id=0

MINNESOTA:  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/837/742/125/#13674021820382&action=fb_connect&fb_id=0

MONTANA: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/181/213/958/stop-wolf-trapping-in-montana/

BRITISH COLUMBIA: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/872/960/647/block-the-wolf-kill-contest-in-british-columbia/

IDAHO: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/902/232/556/

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/361/651/348/stop-the-killing-of-idaho-wolves-ii/#13674034263822&action=fb_connect&fb_id=0

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/617/740/136/protect-the-red-wolf/#13674035080612&action=fb_connect&fb_id=0

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/827/548/160/#13674035565512&action=fb_connect&fb_id=0

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/422/016/124/save-the-red-wolf-from-extinction/#13674035928602&action=fb_connect&fb_id=0   THIS NEEDS TEN x MORE SIGNATURES!

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/130/help-save-the-red-wolf/#13674036692372&action=fb_connect&fb_id=0

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/703/037/806/dont-mix-up-the-redwolf-and-coyote/

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/361/651/348/stop-the-killing-of-idaho-wolves-ii/#13674042337542&action=fb_connect&fb_id=0

All wolves will be very vulnerable in the future, if the hunting is allowed to continue at its present rate and if the bans in the Red list are lifted. Every wolf populatioin is different from another due to itse unique habitat, and if man destoys some habitats, sub-species living in them are gone forever. We need our wolves, please, take action now, soon it may be too late.

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Posted: May 1, 2013 2:17am
Apr 28, 2013

According to Earth's Endangered Species (http://www.ehow.com/list_6721144_endangered-african-animals.html) most of the endangered African animals are mammals. Charismatic mammals, such as the cheetah, the chimpanzee and the African elephant, among others, are considered "flagship" species by the World Wildlife Federation. These iconic animals help raise awareness of conservation efforts.

According to Earth's Endangered Creatures, most of the endangered African animals are mammals. Charismatic mammals, such as the cheetah, the chimpanzee and the African elephant, among others, are considered "flagship" species by the World Wildlife Federation. These iconic animals help raise awareness of conservation efforts.

http://www.ehow.com/list_6721144_endangered-african-animals.html


A quote from Amazing African Animals:

The most endangered species of Africa

"Many parts of this planet were blessed with an abundant flora and fauna. With mechanization and the onset of industrialization, these born free animals and the natural vegetation stated to be depleted as a result of human activity and what was the end phenomenon, the extinction or near extinction of most of the animal and plant species. On the other hand, an endangered species is any species of animal or plant threatened with extinction as a result of the ongoing human activities to nature.

Pollution and the spillover effect destruction of habitats is the single and the greatest threat to many species around the world. Man has overexploited many of the animal and plant species and degraded most of the animal habitat and the ecology of many natural vegetation around the world. On the other hand, the natural habitat degradation due to human activities is also part of the main cause for losses in biodiversity and may effects which results in many dangerous animal attacks."

There more to add to a list Endangered species of Africa:

This link will provide you with more information:

http://www.earthsendangered.com/continent.asp?ID=1

The animals written in red are Red listed and very highly endasngered, near extinction.

There is futher material at hand:

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/endangered-wild-animals-in-africa.html

This site gives you information of the most endangfered species in Africa.

http://www.africanculturalcenter.org/3_2_1endangered_detail.html#oryx lists also the endangered species of Africa.

http://www.endangeredspecie.com/ is a site where you can find all endangered species, including even whales and a quite complete list of endagered birds, just to mention few.

http://endangered-animal.net/endangered-african-animals/ is also a great site to visit to search more info.

http://vanchen.hubpages.com/hub/Endangered-African-Animals is also informative.

Howeve, I found the nest link to be most infomative and had also the best illustration:

http://africansanimals.blogspot.fi/


http://www.earthtimes.org/encyclopaedia/environmental-issues/endangered-species/ will also give you lots of info of enfagered species worldwide and you can finde more detailed material on the site.

There are two petitions to sign, if you please:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/671/083/537/endanrered-animals-and-their-habitats-need-urgent-protection-in-africa/#13671700717812&action=fb_connect&fb_id=100003714380418

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/ENDDANRERED_ANIMALS_AND_THEIR_HABITATS_NEED_URGENT_PROTECTION_IN_AFRICA/edit/

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Posted: Apr 28, 2013 4:59am
Apr 27, 2013

All the big and smaller cats listed below are most endangered, some near extinction. There are petitions included in this petition, but this sums all of them up. The link provides more information about all of the listed species.

http://www.liveanimalslist.com/interesting-animals/most-endangered-big-cats.php

All the big and smaller cats listed below are most endangered, some near extinction. There are petitions included in this petition, but this sums all of them up. The link provides more information about all of the listed species.


http://www.liveanimalslist.com/interesting-animals/most-endangered-big-cats.php

1, The Amur tiger


2. The Anatolian leopard


3. The Asiatic Cheater


4. The Eastern Puma


5. The Florida Cougar


6. The North African Leopard


7, The Siberian Tiger


8. The South Arabian Leopard


9. The South China Tiger


10. The Sumatran Tiger


11.. The Bengal Tiger


12. The Snow Leopard


There are 23 different small wild felines, including sub-species that are endangered. and more info is available by the links:


http://www.wildcatconservation.org/ or http://bigcatswildcats.com/small-wild-cats-list/


1. The Iberian Lynx, the most endangered


2. the Black-Footed Cat - smallest of all wild cats


3. The African Golden Cat


4. The Andean Mountain Cat


5. The Asiatic Golden Cat


6. Bornean Bay Cat


7. The Cracal


8. The Clouded Leopard


9. The Fishing Cat


10. The Flat-Headed Cat


11. The Geoffroy's Cat


12. The Iberian Lynx - highly endangered


13. The Jaguarundi


14. The Kodkod/Guigna


15. The Marbled Cat


16. The Margay


17. The Ocelot


18. The Oncille/Little Spotted Cat


19. The Pallas' Cat


20. The Pampas Cat


21. The Rusty-spotted Cat


22. The Sand Cat


23. The Serval


24. The Wildcat


In addition to the above there are sat least three sub-species that are Red-listed. The overall number of all endangered felines is mindboggling.


http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/3565392


http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/3564875


http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/3564820


http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/3564751


http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/3564739


http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/3564714


http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/3564707


http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/3570618


http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/3565606


http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/3564707


http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/3564679


http://www.thepetitionsite.com/979/095/018/save-asiatic-cheetah/


http://www.thepetitionsite.com/824/945/749/save-the-civet-cat-/


http://www.thepetitionsite.com/797/190/290/stop-shooting-the-bengal-cat/


http://www.thepetitionsite.com/390/373/125/save-the-tiger-in-the-far-east-the-biggest-of-the-tigers-and-the-northernmost-/


http://www.thepetitionsite.com/516/640/651/save-the-far-eastern-leopard/


http://www.thepetitionsite.com/392/141/196/his-majesty-the-emperor-of-japan-akihito/


http://www.thepetitionsite.com/705/815/767/save-the-golden-cat/


http://www.thepetitionsite.com/783/136/996/they-are-people-too-/


http://www.thepetitionsite.com/668/015/954/this-petition-is-better-not-to-look/

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/290/301/324/prevent-the-extinction-of-the-snow-leopard/#13670084171502&action=fb_connect&fb_id=100003714380418

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/529/193/916/save-the-amur-leopard-from-the-brink-of-extinction/

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/863/168/040/save-sundarban-stop-coal-power-project/

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/863/168/040/save-sundarban-stop-coal-power-project/

The reason  is to prevent further losses of lives, which are almost inevitable. The reasons for the losses are as follows:

- deforestation (logging, legal and illegal) causing massive habitat loss

- poaching for fur for fashion industry

- panic killings (people feel threatened when they see a big cat)

- palm oil plantations deprive wild cats of their habitat

- kidnappings from nature to zoos and circuses (should be prohibited)

- kidnappings for illegal pets (should be prohibeted)

- global warming


These are some of the reasons behind the loss of endangered wild cats, and new threats arise almost weekly, as governments allow coal mining, oil drilling, tar sand piping, natural disasters cause environmental changes.

However, one of the biggest threats after humans is the global warming. The vegetation is already changing and with this change also the pry animals start to disapper or be replaced by something else, not suitable to the wild felines palate. We all can help to decrrease the global warming, but unfortunately it cannot be stopped, even if radical methods were used. The biggest cause is the CO2 emissions of fossil fuel, but the most surprising sourrce is factory farming. It helps to produce tons of methane monhtly, and the cost of producing beef is too high, if we think how much land could be used for fruit and vegetable production versus fodder production. Traffic emissions arre just a tiny part of pollutants.

Pesticedes are one reason particularly threatening the smaller wild felines, and particularly those whose habitats are near farmed areas or catch their pray from water. Rains and floods carry grat amounts of various toxins to the areas of e.g. fishing wild cats, whose habitat is mostly swamp lands in delta reaeas and in marhes inland. And quite often the marshes are dried for grain production. That narrowes down the wild felines habitats even more. 

Our world is changing fast, but we could be able to guarantee the protection of all these endangered felines and help to preserve and conserve them for the future generation.


The petiton link:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/500/746/838/endangered-big-cats-need-your-attention-please-sign/#13669918070302&action=fb_connect&fb_id=100003714380418

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Posted: Apr 27, 2013 9:00am
Apr 26, 2013
Focus: Environment
Action Request: Petition
Location: Russian Federation

This is a real red alert: the snow leopard is dangerously low in number in the wild. It is poached for its fur and its habitats are threatened by deforestation and other environmental issues. We need to stop the environmental issues, like cutting trees and mining, and we need to save the sow leopard from extinction, The species is already highly inbred, and that meas new individuals must be introduced to the snow leopard populations to create a larger genetic variety. Inbreeding weakens the species and produces also unwanted mutations and weakens the immune system.

Please, Help Konstantin Trubin to make his destination signature amount, since these big cays are soon just a memory, a photo or a zoo exhibit. We need them to live fot the future generations, so that they know where they roam, not just see film clips on TV.

Please, lets help the snow leopard to become safe and off the red list.

Yours sincerely, Isa Villanen

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/668/015/954/this-petition-is-better-not-to-look/

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Posted: Apr 26, 2013 2:34am
Apr 25, 2013
Focus: Animal Welfare
Action Request: Petition
Location: Tennessee, United States

Memphis Animal shelter is hoarding pit bulls and dogs looking like pit bulls. Family dogs may disppear. In the shelter rhe dogs can be seen skinny and some even dead in their cages. That is no proper function of a responsible shelter.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/stop-memphis-animal-shelter-abuse/

Please, if you feel for the pitbulls, sign and share.

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Posted: Apr 25, 2013 12:51pm
Apr 25, 2013
Focus: Animal Welfare
Action Request: Petition
Location: Michigan, United States

Declawing is not a simpli little nip, it is an opetration, in which the cat's tip joints with the claw are removed. It is painfun, and often causes infections, ingrown new claws, walking problems, even neurological damage. It is an inhumane procedure that should be banned by law. The declawed cats suffer and the recuperation is slow and painful.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/stop-declawing-rescued-felines/

Please, sign the petition and help the poor cats.

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Posted: Apr 25, 2013 12:38pm

 

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Isa Villanen
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\\r\\nLetter:\\r\\n\\r\\n To:\\r\\njoscimeca@airfra nce.fr ; contact.en.us@airfrance.f r ; jcspinetta@airfrance.fr ; fadieudonne@airfrance.fr ; mail.customerservice.ptp@ airfrance.fr ; hehourcade@airfrance.fr ; jugyanni@airfrance.fr ; tobaker-ext@airfrance.fr ; s...
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http://www.adapostcanin-c raiova.ro/   Around 23 Dogs are left alive at this moment, hundreds have been killed mercilessly.  Now they are starting this campaign:  Adoption on Distance ....If on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ events/1...