vrijdag 13 juli 2012

Only 18 snakes left !!!

 Meet the world's rarest snake: only 18 left

Jeremy Hance
July 10, 2012
It's slithery, brown, and doesn't mind being picked up: meet the Saint Lucia racer (Liophis ornatus), which holds the dubious honor of being the world's most endangered snake. A five month extensive survey found just 18 animals on a small islet off of the Caribbean Island of Saint Lucia. The snake had once been abundant on Saint Lucia, as well, but was decimated by invasive mongooses. 
World's rarest snake: Saint Lucia racer.
Photo by: G. Guida.

For nearly 40 years the snake was thought to be extinct until in 1973 a single snake was found on the Maria Major Island, a 12-hectare (30 acre) protected islet, a mile off the coast of Saint Lucia (see map below). After catching and tagging 10 individuals, scientists now believe 18 may survive in total. The island is free of the mongoose that have killed off the population of Saint Lucia. Non-venomous, the Saint Lucia racer feeds on local lizards.

"It was a huge relief to confirm that a population of the racer still survives," Matthew Morton, Eastern Caribbean Program Manager for the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (DWCT), said in a press release, "but that relief is tempered by the knowledge of how close we still are to losing it forever."

The DWCT is working with Fauna & Flora International, the Saint Lucia National Trust, and the Saint Lucia Forestry Department to save the species with additional funding support from the Balcombe Trust, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Conservationists working with the Saint Lucia racer are closely looking at successful efforts to save the Antiguan racer (Alsophis antiguae). With a population that hit a nadir of 50 individuals in 1995, the Antiguan racer today has a population of over 900. Eradicating invasive predators, such as mongoose and rats, as well as education efforts have helped the Antiguan racer bounce back. Researchers are now looking to reintroduce the snake to more habitats as an insurance policy against extinction, especially as climate change raises sea levels. 
Stephen Lesmond holding one of the world's last Saint Lucia racers.
Photo by: T. Ross with DWCT.

"Tens if not hundreds of West Indian animals have already been lost because humans have unwisely released harmful species from other parts of the world, and we cannot allow the gentle Saint Lucia racer to be the next casualty" Jenny Daltry, Senior Conservation Biologist with Fauna & Flora International says. "To do nothing is not an option."


zondag 8 juli 2012

Crocodylus siamensis

3,600 crocodiles rescued from smugglers in S. China


NANNING - Police in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region said Saturday they had seized more than 3,600 smuggled crocodiles, saving them from being served as exotic dishes.
Veterinarians are providing medical treatment to the endangered reptiles, with some having died from heatstroke during transportation, said an official from the public security bureau of Chongzuo city.
The Siamese crocodiles were seized in the city on Tuesday night as their trucks crossed the China-Vietnam border. Smugglers intended to supply them to restaurants in neighboring Guangdong province, the official said.
Siamese crocodiles are a critically endangered species native to most Southeast Asian countries. Their fresh is served as delicacies in some southern Chinese cities, creating an underground market of the reptiles, animal rights activists said.

Note 1...

Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis) is a freshwater crocodile native to Indonesia (Borneo and possibly Java), Brunei, East Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam. The species is critically endangered and already extirpated from many regions. Its other common names include: Siamese freshwater crocodile, Singapore small-grain, cocodrilo de Siam, crocodile du Siam, buaja, buaya kodok, jara kaenumchued, and soft-belly. (wikipedia)

Note 2...

SIAMESE CROCODILE (Crocodylus siamensis)
The Siamese crocodile is a Southeast Asian reptile that lives in slow-moving freshwater habitats such as rivers, swamps and streams. It has a broad snout, powerful tail and grows to a length of about 12 feet. Populations of Siamese crocodile are rapidly decreasing due to hunting and loss of habitat.

IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
USFWS Status: Endangered
Major Threats: Conversion of habitat to agricultural land and poaching
Habitat: Swamps and the sheltered parts of rivers, streams and lakes
Location: Borneo, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam
Diet: Mainly fish; also amphibians, reptiles and possibly small mammals

Alligator sinensis

San Diego Zoo gets two Chinese alligators in preservation effort

The reptiles arrive from Florida as part of a long-term strategy to keep the species, listed as critically endangered, from going extinct in the wild.

SAN DIEGO On her first full day in her new home, Xiao was tentative Tuesday, but the sun finally lured her out of the pool onto the sand. Xidi was less adventuresome, preferring the water.

The pair of Chinese alligators had just arrived at the San Diego Zoo from the St. Augustine (Fla.) Alligator Farm Zoological Park as part of a long-term strategy to keep the species from going extinct in the wild.

Xiao is one of two Chinese dragons, both females, now at the San Diego Zoo.
Unlike their American cousin, the world’s only other alligator species, they are armored top and bottom.
(John Gibbins, UT San Diego)

The alligators are among the smallest and most endangered members of the crocodilian family. Unlike their American cousin — the world's only other alligator species — they are armored top and bottom. Their tapered snouts turn up slightly at the end, and their blunt teeth are good for crushing clams and snails.

For eons, Chinese alligators were found in much of eastern China. They were called "muddy dragons" and lived along the wetlands of the Yangtze River.

But dams along the Yangtze destroyed nearly all their habitat, farmers poisoned the rats they ate and hunters killed them, spurred by beliefs that alligator meat cures ailments and prevents cancer.

Kevin Torregrosa, the reptile expert at the St. Augustine alligator farm, said the latest estimate is that there may be fewer than 100 Chinese alligators in the wild. The species is listed as critically endangered.

A population of the animals on a Chinese preserve is imperiled by inbreeding, and there are not many wild places where they could be reintroduced.

Enter a "species survival program" for the Chinese alligator under the auspices of the Maryland-based Assn. of Zoos and Aquariums. Torregrosa is the program director. With the loan of Xiao and Xidi to San Diego, the St. Augustine park retains 15 Chinese alligators.

The survival program is working to mix and match male and female alligators among the 28 zoos and reptile parks that have one or more of the animals, which grow to a length of 5 to 7 feet, and 80 to 100 pounds.

Which brings us to the arrival Monday of Xiao and Xidi by air freight, eagerly awaited by curators at the San Diego Zoo.

Both of the animals are females. Next year the zoo hopes to get a male Chinese alligator so propagation can begin. Artificial insemination among reptiles has not been perfected.

For now, Xiao and Xidi will swim and lounge in their open-air grotto, part of a new reptile and amphibian exhibit called Reptile Walk, which includes Surinam toads, Malayan giant turtles, Mexican giant tree frogs, rosy boas, kingsnakes and more. The exhibit opens Wednesday.

The Chinese alligators do not pose a threat to humans, except possibly in the most extreme of circumstances. They are warm-weather creatures; the balmy clime of Southern California should be ideal.
Juvenile Alligator sinensis (Photo: Fons Sleijpen)

"It's sad when something so small and benign is reduced to such small numbers in the wild," said Kim Lovich, associate curator of herpetology at the zoo. "I don't have a favorite reptile, but I do love the crocodilians."

After being on display in Florida, Xiao and Xidi are accustomed to being watched and, once they get used to their new digs, probably will spend more time on the sand than submerged.

"They have neat little personalities: a little like bulldogs, stocky, with a little attitude," said Torregrosa. "You're going to like them."