Good news from Arkive
*** Learn From Nature Factsheet on dolphins
Freshwater dolphins are among the most threatened species of dolphin in the world, with the enigmatic Yangtze river dolphin, or baiji, now believed to be extinct. It is hoped that the three new sanctuaries, which are located in the world’s largest mangrove ecosystem, will help to prevent the last two remaining species of freshwater dolphin in Asia from suffering a similar fate.
The sanctuaries will cover a total area of almost 11 square kilometres, which includes 31 kilometres of channels. The size and location of the sanctuaries was determined using scientific findings from a study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Bangladesh Forest Department.
While there are currently no estimates of the global population of the Irrawaddy and Ganges river dolphins, they are believed to be in decline and to have disappeared from major parts of their historic range. Entanglement in fishing gear and the depletion of their natural prey are thought to be contributing factors.
Director of WCS’s Asian Freshwater and Coastal Cetacean Program, Brian D. Smith, said, “Declaration of these Wildlife Sanctuaries is an essential first step in protecting Ganges River and Irrawaddy dolphins in Bangladesh. As biological indicators of ecosystem-level impacts, freshwater dolphins can inform adaptive human-wildlife management to cope with climate change, suggesting a broader potential for conservation and sustainable development.”
Bangladesh is believed to be a hotspot for marine mammals, and houses the world’s largest population of the Irrawaddy dolphin, with nearly 6,000 individuals being discovered in 2009. As well as protecting these fascinating creatures, it is hoped that the sanctuaries will also provide refuge for many other species, including the Asian short-clawed otter and the masked finfoot.
For the full story, read the WCS article: Bangladesh Helps Threatened Dolphins Stay Afloat.
Rebecca Moran, ARKive Species Text Author
- Endangered Freshwater Dolphins To Be Protected by Bangladesh Sanctuaries (e360.yale.edu)
- New Dolphin Sanctuaries Open to Protect Rare Species (livescience.com)
- Bangladesh Establishes New Sanctuaries to Protect Endangered River Dolphins (treehugger.com)
- New protected areas for dolphins declared (eurekalert.org)
- On Our Radar: M.R.I.’s for Car Batteries (green.blogs.nytimes.com)
- 18 endangered dolphins spotted (nation.com.pk)
- 87 marine mammal species eaten in 114 countries since 1990 (earthtimes.org)
From the Bangkok Post
Political brinkmanship, territorial disputes and natural disasters bedevilled Southeast Asia over the past 12 months, but some of the region’s nastier figures were finally dragged before the law and established elites challenged. These are the stories that made headlines this year, and are likely to set the agenda for 2012.
One excerpt about the floods…
1.SOUTHEAST ASIAN FLOODS
Record floods devastated Thailand and much of Southeast Asia. More than 1,000 people were killed across the region, with businesses in Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines taking a massive knock from Mother Nature, losing billions.
The UN noted authorities in Bangkok had for years been warning about the need for a fully integrated approach to flood prevention. But the biggest impediment was convincing government and this was made all the more difficult in Thailand where rapid changes in leadership had compromised the country’s ability to plot long-term strategies to combat floods.
International aid donors were quick to react with millions of dollars worth of food, supplies and medicine airlifted in. Harder to shift were attitudes. As waters rose, authorities complained that residents refused to budge, saying they feared looters and told rescuers to leave and come back with food.
Thailand _ the world’s largest rice exporter _ had expected a rice crop of more than 25 million tonnes next year; this is forecasted to drop by 25%. Livestock and poultry industries also suffered heavy losses.
The global computer industry is expecting a slowdown in the output of hard disk drives and companies such as Toyota suffered from disrupted supply chains that resulted in production being scaled back in Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
- More than 700 dead as flooding hits southeast Asian countries (cnn.com)
- Opium cultivation surges in Southeast Asia: UN (vancouversun.com)
- US announces $10 million Thai flood relief package (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Flood aftermath – Thailand’s tourism industry may to lose billions (holidayhometimes.com)
- Communal Identity (scramblerworld.wordpress.com)
- Deadly new, old floods wreak havoc in Thailand (cnn.com)
- Swept Away: Flash Floods Ravage Unprepared Philippines (globalspin.blogs.time.com)
- More than 700 dead as flooding hits southeast Asian countries (news.blogs.cnn.com)
- U.S. Announces $10 Million Thai Flood Relief Package (foxnews.com)
- Swept Away: Flash Floods Ravage Unprepared Philippines (globalspin.blogs.time.com)
- Flooding in Southeast Asia May Cause Food Shortages, UN Says (businessweek.com)
- Thai Floods Damage Rice Fields, Small Impact on Global Market Predicted – Voice of America (voanews.com)
- Silent flood misery for 1.8M in Cambodia, Vietnam (sfgate.com)
- Silent Flood Misery for 1.8M in Cambodia, Vietnam (abcnews.go.com)
- Thais prepare master plan to fight future floods (smh.com.au)
- Flood Waters in Bangkok Shut Domestic Airport (nytimes.com)
- Over 700 dead in Southeast Asia floods: UN (theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com)
COMMENT: I recently visited another the Chinese city of Kungming where anyone can buy a tiny ‘cute’ turtle swimming around inside a tiny plastic bowl… It’s a toy. But read on, in THE INDEPENDENT today…
Turtles and tortoises are now the most endangered group of vertebrate animals, with more than half of their 328 species threatened with extinction, according to a new report.
Their populations are being depleted by unsustainable hunting, both for food and for use in traditional Chinese medicine, by large-scale collection for the pet trade, and by the widespread pollution and destruction of their habitats, according to the study Turtles In Trouble, produced by a coalition of turtle conservation groups.
The result is that their plight has never been greater, and the world’s 25 most endangered tortoises and freshwater turtles will become extinct in a few decades without concerted conservation efforts, the report says.
Asia is the worst affected region; of the 25 most endangered turtles, more than two thirds (17) are from Asia, a result of decades of massive exploitation. “For example, in just one market in Dhaka, Bangladesh, close to 100,000 wild caught turtles are butchered for consumption during a one-day religious holiday each year,” the report adds.
It goes on: “Furthering the problem is a lucrative international black market trade in pet turtles and tortoises that has escalated prices of some of the more rare species into the tens of thousands of dollars. Rumours even exist that some of the rarest Asian species are now commanding prices in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
The world’s 328 species are divided into 263 fresh water and terrestrial turtles, and 58 species of tortoises (plus seven sea turtles which are not covered in detail by the report). With up to 54 per cent of the total considered threatened, turtles and tortoises are at a much higher risk of extinction, the report says, than other vertebrates such as birds, mammals, sharks and rays or even amphibians – which are usually considered the most endangered grouping.
“Turtles are disappearing fast and we are dealing with one of the most significant wildlife crises of our lifetime,” says Rick Hudson, President of the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) http://www.turtlesurvival.org/. Several species are down to just a handful of remaining individuals.
No. 1 on the list is the Pinta Island tortoise, one of the Galapagos tortoises species that contributed to Charles Darwin’s theories on “natural selection”. Sadly, only a single male of this species, “Lonesome George”, remains alive today, and the report comments: “Ironically, Darwin and other travellers often ate many of the islands’ tortoises and released rats, goats and other animals, which significantly contributed to their decline.”
Close behind is the Red River giant softshell turtle of China and Vietnam, weighing more than 250lbs with a shell more than three feet long. With only four animals left, the stakes have never been higher. Some species are in danger of disappearing before scientists even find out where they live. Zhou’s box turtle (the 6th most endangered) has occasionally appeared in the turtle markets of China, but to date no one has located a wild population.
The report, Turtles in Trouble, can be downloaded at the link below.
Five under threat
Sulawesi forest turtle This semi-aquatic animal is endemic to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and was originally used in Chinese food in the early 1990s. Habitat destruction has reduced the forest cover on which it depends for survival.
River terrapin With males exhibiting striking seasonal breeding colours, these unusual and attractive turtles have now all but vanished.
Ploughshare tortoise One of the rarest tortoises in the world, there are now only a few hundred left in Madagascar.
Roti island snake-necked turtle This freshwater turtle is found on the tiny island of Roti in south-eastern Indonesia.
Geometric tortoise This small species is found in low-lying sandy areas of the Western Cape in South Africa.