Archive | Amphibians

Traveler Detained for Possessing 200 Illegal Animals

An Indonesian man was arrested Wednesday at an airport in Bangkok, Thailand for attempting to smuggle 200 live animals – including tortoises, snakes, squirrels, spiders, lizards and a parrot – in three suitcases.

The international wildlife monitoring group TRAFFIC said in a statement Thursday that the traveler was stopped after airport officials spotted the animals in images of the scanned luggage.

“It’s not unprecedented to find numbers — sometimes even hundreds — of live animals inside luggage like this,” TRAFFIC spokesman Richard Thomas told msnbc.com. “What makes this case unusual is the wide variety of wildlife in the cases. Animals like tortoises are usually taped up to keep them from moving, and being detected, but quite how the man in this instance expected not to be found out is quite extraordinary.”

The suspect said he had illegally purchased the animals from an outdoor market in Bangkok.

“One really has to question how Chatuchak Market, which is located just down the street from both Wildlife Protection and Nature Crime Police Offices, can continue these illegal mass sales,” TRAFFIC regional director William Schaedla said, according to MSNBC. “The situation is totally unacceptable in a country that claims to be effectively addressing illegal wildlife trade.”

TRAFFIC reportedly found the following animals crammed inside the three black bags:

88 Indian Star tortoises

34 ball pythons

33 elongated tortoises

22 common squirrels

19 bearded dragons

18 baboon spiders

7 radiated tortoises

6 Argentine horned frogs

6 mata mata turtles

4 spiny tailed lizards

4 striped narrow-headed turtles

3 aldabra tortoises

2 boa constrictors

2 Sudan plated lizards

2 corn snakes

2 king snakes

1 ploughshare tortoise (world’s rarest turtle)

1 pig-nosed turtle

1 African gray parrot

1 milk snake

1 hog nosed snake
The man is currently in police custody and faces smuggling charges, TRAFFIC said.

Posted in Amphibians, Birds, Mammals, Reptiles0 Comments

U.S. Zoo Fights to Save Endangered Frog

BALTIMORE, Oct. 6 (UPI) — A zoo in Baltimore is at the forefront of keeping an endangered Central American frog species, believed extinct in its native Panama, alive, researchers say.

The Maryland Zoo has become the United States’ largest breeder and shipper of the Panamanian golden frog, part of an effort to propagate the species in captivity in hopes their descendants can someday be returned to the wild in Panama, The Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday.

The zoo recently shipped young frogs to zoos in Texas and California in a program that has seen several thousand Baltimore-bred frogs shipped off to live and breed at other institutions.

Golden frogs once were abundant in Panama, where they were a national icon and a symbol of good luck with their image appearing on the country’s lottery tickets, in hotels and gift shops.

Now they are thought to be extinct in the native Panamanian cloud forests, the victim of the deadly chytrid fungus that has affected 30 percent of the world’s amphibian species.

The frogs’ story should be a wake-up call to anyone who has listened to the tree frogs in their own neighborhood and cares about healthy ecosystems, assistant curator of amphibians Kevin Murphy says.

“If people know about the golden frogs, and know what kinds of things have happened, and think about the amphibians in their own backyard,” he says, “they might care about them and might protect them in some way.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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U.S. Zoo Fights to Save Endangered Frog

BALTIMORE, Oct. 6 (UPI) — A zoo in Baltimore is at the forefront of keeping an endangered Central American frog species, believed extinct in its native Panama, alive, researchers say.

The Maryland Zoo has become the United States’ largest breeder and shipper of the Panamanian golden frog, part of an effort to propagate the species in captivity in hopes their descendants can some day be returned to the wild in Panama, The Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday.

The zoo recently shipped young frogs to zoos in Texas and California in a program than has seen several thousand Baltimore-bred frogs shipped off to live and breed at other institutions.

Golden frogs once were abundant in Panama, where they were a national icon and a symbol of good luck with their image appearing on the country’s lottery tickets, in hotels and gift shops.

Now they are thought to be extinct in the native Panamanian cloud forests, the victim of the deadly chytrid fungus that has affected 30 percent of the world’s amphibian species.

The frogs’ story should be a wake-up call to anyone who has listened to the tree frogs in their own neighborhood and cares about healthy ecosystems, assistant curator of amphibians Kevin Murphy says.

“If people know about the golden frogs, and know what kinds of things have happened, and think about the amphibians in their own backyard,” he says, “they might care about them and might protect them in some way.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Virus Threatens Survival of British Frogs

LONDON, Oct. 3 (UPI) — A virus that makes frogs bleed to death is wiping them out in much of Britain, biologists said.

The ranavirus has killed off 80 percent of common frogs in the worst-hit areas and threatens other amphibians, a senior research fellow at the Zoological Society of London told The Sunday Telegraph.

Scientist Trent Garner said, “Many of these populations are hanging on by a handful of frogs. If the disease causes the frog populations to fall so low then so many other factors come into play that could cause local extinctions.”

The researchers examined frog numbers in a selection of populations around the country where ranavirus disease has been reported since 1996.

In half of the populations surveyed, there were repeated outbreaks. In almost a quarter of the cases, frog numbers dropped by more than 80 per cent.

Ranavirus is thought to have appeared in Britain in the 1980s, introduced through imported fish or amphibians. The plague was first reported in the southeast England and has spread as far as Manchester, Cornwall and Wales.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Amphibians, Fish, Other0 Comments

U.S. Bred Toads Returning to Africa

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, Aug. 17 (UPI) — One hundred of the world’s rarest amphibians have been returned to their African homeland after being carefully raised at two U.S. zoos, officials said.

The Kihansi spray toads are living in a state-of-the-art propagation center in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s commercial capital, after being transported from the Bronx Zoo in New York and the Toledo, Ohio, zoo, a Wildlife Conservation Society release said Tuesday.

Spokeswoman Anna Maembe said the Tanzanian government was “very grateful to the Bronx Zoo and The Toledo Zoo for taking care of these precious toads for 10 years.

“We are very optimistic that they will acclimatize soon and be taken to their homeland in Kihansi Gorge in the near future,” she said.

The Kihansi spray toad was first discovered in 1996 living in a 5-acre micro-habitat created by the spray of nearby waterfalls in the Kihansi Gorge. In 1999, the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the gorge dramatically changed the Kihansi spray toad’s habitat, lessening the mist zone in which the toads thrived.

Scientists and Tanzanian officials collected a colony of 499 Kihansi spray toads from the gorge as assurance of the species’ survival.

The toad was last seen in the wild in 2004, and in 2009 the toad was declared to be extinct in the wild by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

The Toledo Zoo has 5,000 toads and the Bronx zoo has 1,500. Both zoos will continue breeding them, returning additional shipments to Tanzania as their numbers rebound.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Amphibians, Art, Conservation, Hydroelectric, Other0 Comments

Ecuador: No Drilling in Amazon Reserve

QUITO, Ecuador, Aug. 4 (UPI) — Ecuador says it has agreed to refrain from oil drilling in an unspoiled Amazon rain forest reserve in return for $3.6 billion in payments from rich countries.

The country has signed an agreement with the United Nations that will leave oil fields under the Yasuni reserve, one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth, undisturbed for at least 10 years, the BBC reported Wednesday.

The almost 4,000-square-mile reserve supports a large mix of wildlife and contains many unique species of birds, monkeys and amphibians.

It is also home to a number of indigenous tribes who applauded the deal, which will protect their territories from oil development.

Environmental groups say Ecuador’s oil industry, the source of the country’s biggest export, has caused huge damage in the Amazon region.

A trust fund to be administered by the United Nations will be set up under the agreement, and countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Italy and the United States, say they will contribute.

“This is Ecuador’s contribution towards combating climate change,” Ecuadorian Heritage Minister Maria Espinoza said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Survey Says Biodiversity Down at Chernobyl

PRIPYAT, Russia, July 30 (UPI) — Researchers say a wildlife census in the exclusion zone surrounding the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Russia shows animal populations are declining.

Professor Timothy Mousseau from the University of South Carolina and Dr. Anders Moller from the University of Paris-Sud, France, spent three years counting and studying animals in the area, the BBC reported Friday.

From 2006 to 2009, they counted and examined wildlife including insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

In a report in the journal Ecological Indicators, they say they found evidence that radiation contamination has a “significant impact” on biodiversity.

“The truth is that these radiation contamination effects were so large as to be overwhelming,” Mousseau said.

The research compared the population of species in the exclusion zone with similar types of habitats in areas that were not contaminated.

Birds provided the best “quantitative measure” of these impacts, the researchers said, noting barn swallows were observed with tumors on their feet, necks and around their eyes.

“We think they may be more susceptible, after their long migrations, to additional environmental stress,” Mousseau said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Amphibians, Biodiversity, Birds, Mammals, Nuclear, Other, Radiation, Reptiles0 Comments

Oldest Reptile Evidence Found in Canada

ST. JOHN, New Brunswick, July 30 (UPI) — A British scientist has found 318 million-year-old footprints in Canada he says are the oldest evidence of reptiles to date.

Howard Falcon-Lang of the Royal Holloway, University of London, discovered the tracks by accident when he slipped while climbing the steep sea cliffs along the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, LiveScience.com reported Friday.

“I landed on the ancient boulder and looked up and there were the trackways on the boulder next to me and I still have the scars to prove it,” Falcon-Lang said.

The size of the tracks suggests the animal was about the size of a gecko, about 8 inches long.

The prints show the animal had five slender toes on each of its feet, which is a hallmark of reptiles, Falcon-Lang said.

Amphibians sport four stubby toes, he said.

Study of surrounding sediments showed the reptiles were likely living around a contracting water hole.

“We think it was like the (Australian) Outback today with watering holes on a dry landscape,” Falcon-Lang said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Scientists Call for Biodiversity Barometer

GLAND, Switzerland, April 12 (UPI) — A group of Swiss-led scientists says it has estimated how much it would cost to seek the status of millions of species, some yet to be identified.

The scientists from the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Gland, Switzerland, and Conservation International of Washington said the price tag would be $60 million.

“Our knowledge about species and extinction rates remains very poor, and this has negative consequences for our environment and economy,” said Simon Stuart, chairman of the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission. “By expanding the current IUCN Red List of Threatened Species to include up to approximately 160,000 well-chosen species, we will have a good barometer for informing decisions globally.”

The researchers said globally, only 1.9 million species have been identified, although the estimated number of species on Earth is thought to be somewhere between 10 million and 20 million. While the organization’s Red List contains assessments of all species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reef-building corals, freshwater crabs, cycads and conifers, the vast majority of the world’s species are poorly represented.

“The more we learn about indicator species, the more we know about the status of the living environment that sustains us all,” said Edward Wilson, a biologist at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. “Threatened species, in particular, need to be targeted to enable better conservation and policy decisions.”

The researchers report their study in Science magazine.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Amphibians, Birds, Conservation, Mammals, Other0 Comments

Existence of Rare Hummingbird Confirmed

WASHINGTON, April 7 (UPI) — Conservation officials say the first photograph ever taken of a living Santa Marta Sabrewing hummingbird has confirmed the existence of the bird in Colombia.

The American Bird Conservancy in Washington said the bird was discovered in the El Dorado Bird Reserve in the Santa Marta Mountains of northern Colombia. The land had been slated for vacation home development in 2006, but was spared by a last minute purchase by the Conservancy and Conservation International, in cooperation with the Colombian organization Fundacion Pro Aves, which manages several bird reserves in that nation.

“The photograph was taken March 24 by Laura Cardenas at about 6,200 feet elevation,” officials said. “Cardenas was monitoring migratory birds in the 1,600-acre reserve as part of a research project. This particular bird was caught in a mist net, banded, photographed and released unharmed.”

American Bird Conservancy officials said the El Dorado Bird Reserve is also the sole breeding ground for the globally endangered Santa Marta Parakeet. Another 17 endemic bird species, 11 threatened bird species and five threatened amphibians also live in the reserve.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Amphibians, Birds, Conservation, Other0 Comments

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