Extinction

Ecologist Special Report: Biological Annihilation on Earth is Accelerating

Robert J. Burrowes
| 1st August 2017
Human beings are now waging war against life itself as we continue to destroy not just individual lives, local populations and entire species in vast numbers but also the ecological systems that make life on Earth possible. By doing this we are now accelerating the sixth mass extinction event in Earth's history and virtually eliminating any prospect of human survival, writes ROBERT J BURROWES

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Sumatran elephant at Tangkahan, Sumatra, Indonesia. The species' native rainforest habit is fast giving way to thousands of square miles of palm oil plantation. Photo: Vincent Poulissen via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

The oilpalm connection: is the Sumatran elephant the price of our cheap meat?

Philip Lymbery
CIWF
| 28th March 2017
We may know that palm oil is wiping out rainforests worldwide, writes Philip Lymbery. But few realise that our factory farmed meat and dairy are contributing to the problem. As revealed in Philip's new book, 'Dead Zone: Where the Wild Things Were', palm kernels, left after pressing the fruit for oil, is a protein-rich livestock feed of growing importance. And nowhere is the impact greater than Sumatra, home (for now) to its own unique species of elephant.

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Bisect this landscape with a wall, and how will the wildlife fare? Photo: Near the US-Mexico border in Arizona by Corey Taratuta via Flickr (CC BY).

Trump's 'beautiful wall' threatens 111 endangered species

Shonil Bhagwat
The Open University
| 20th February 2017
The 3,100km concrete wall Donald Trump plans to build along the US-Mexico border would be a disaster for the border zone's ecosystems, writes Shonil Bhagwat. Among the species at risk: ocelots, bears, Bighorn sheep, the US's last wild jaguars facing genetic isolation north of the border, and the Bald eagle, the US's national bird.

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Monarch butterfly sipping nectar from milkweed. Photo: Sherri VandenAkker via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Monarch butterflies down over a quarter in one year

The Ecologist
| 10th February 2017
It's been another disastrous year for North America's Monarch butterflies, with the insect's population down 27% in a single year. The sudden decline is blamed on severe winter storms in Mexico, and the impacts of GMO crops, herbicides and insecticides on US farms.

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Vaquita caught in a gillnet. Photo: Cristian Faezi & Omar Vidal via IUCN.

Vaquita going extinct as Mexico, China, dither

Aron White
EIA
| 6th February 2017
The world's smallest porpoise is fast heading to extinction, writes Aron White thanks to Mexico's failure to ban the use of gillnets in its range, and China's illegal imports of totoaba fish swim bladders, used in Chinese medicine. Without urgent and effective action the vaquita will soon disappear for good.

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All four species of giraffe are now classified as 'Vulnerable'. Photo: Maarten Nijman via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

It's time to stand tall for imperilled giraffes

Bill Laurance
James Cook University
| 15th December 2016
The sudden shift from 'Least Concern' to 'Vulnerable' status for all four species of giraffe is a red flag for their survival, writes Bill Laurance. Hunted down by poachers with automatic weapons for their 'trophy' tails, their range fragmented by roads and mines, and their woodland habitat cleared for farms or burnt for charcoal, giraffes need our help, fast.

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Amphibians are going extinct about 100 times faster than in the past. Rainforest tree frog, Costa Rica. Photo: Casey Atchley via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

The debate is over: Earth's sixth great extinction has arrived

Bill Laurance
Paul Ehrlich
| 18th November 2016
Limiting climate change is just the start of what we need to do to forestall a runaway cascade of species extinctions, write Bill Laurance & Paul Ehrlich. We must also reverse the destruction and fragmentation of key wildlife habitats, constrain our over-consumption of natural resources, stabilise human numbers - and elect leaders determined to prioritise these issues.

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Protestors march on the UK Prime Minister's Downing Street residence to demand a complete ban, in the UK and worldwide, on the trade in antique ivory. Photo: Paul Nicholls Photography.

Elephants: ten years left, and counting ...

Anneka Svenska
| 27th September 2016
Poaching of elephants and rhinos for their ivory tusks and horn is fast pushing these beautiful animals to extinction, writes Anneka Svenska. Decisive action is needed at the 17th CITES congress in South Africa to ban all international trade in these products, matched by equally strict laws at a national level.

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Who ate all the pies? Robin redbreast on an English farm. Photo: John Bennett via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

'State of Nature' 2016 report shows continued loss of Britain's biodiversity

Susan Clark
| 14th September 2016
The 2016 'State of Nature' report, published today, offers many small victories to celebrate, writes SUSAN CLARK, but overall it's not good news: 15% of our native species are under threat of extinction, while 53% are in decline. With intensive farming the main cause of the damage, and climate change a serious long term problem, turning the tide of wildlife attrition will be a long and challenging task.

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Durham Wildlife Trust volunteers surveying invertebrate populations at Stanley Moss, Sunniside, England. Photo: Dougie Nisbet via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

'State of Nature': a labour of love by Britain's conservation heroes

Dr Mark Eaton
| 14th September 2016
The 'State of Nature' report, published today, is the apex of a vast pyramid of loving and heroic toil by many thousands of volunteer naturalists, writes Dr Mark Eaton - hard at work in all seasons in our marshes, forests, mountains, swamps and farmland. But do we have the young recruits to keep this wonderful tradition going?

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Sunset at Papeete, French Polynesia. Photo: Pilottage via Flickr (CC BY).

ALERT: Critically Endangered Species: Homo sapiens

Willemijn Heideman
| 11th May 2016
The IUCN has mysteriously placed Homo sapiens outside its systems of thinking when defining the criteria for Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable Species, writes Willemijn Heideman: our collective inability to tackle our existential crises makes our survival on this planet a highly uncertain prospect.

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Emerald ash borer is a saproxylic beetle native to Asia which feeds on Ash. Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr (CC BY)

The fungus and the beetle: ash trees face wipeout from disease double whammy

Steve Woodward
Eric Boa
| 29th April 2016
Britain's ash woods are under threat from a fast-spreading 'dieback' disease, write Steve Woodward and Eric Boa. With 3% of ash trees resistant to the fungus, the species should just be able to survive. But now scientists fear the arrival of the Emerald ash borer beetle, already infesting forests in the US and mainland Europe. Could the two combine to push our ash trees into extinction?

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Koala bears, like this one at Arcadia Bay, Queensland, Australia, are among the many species suffering from the state's large-scale land clearance. Photo: Richard Gifford via Flickr (CC BY).

Queensland's land clearance is costing Australia and its wildlife dear

Martine Maron
Bill Laurance
colleagues
| 22nd February 2016
Australia's rainforest state, Queensland, is destroying well over 100,000 hectares of native vegetation a year, and rising, write Martine Maron, Bill Laurance & colleagues, including 'at risk' habitats and Koala bear forests. This is more than reversing the entire nation's eco-restoration programs and pushing endangered species ever closer to extinction.

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Formosan Clouded Leopard ... RIP. Despite 1,500 infrared cameras and scent traps being placed in the Taiwanese mountains since 2001, no trace of the animal has been detected. Image: Hank Conner via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Extinction is forever

Robert J. Burrowes
| 30th December 2015
Humanity is continuing to drive species into extinction at a terrifying rate, writes Robert J. Burrowes - not just nameless beetles and midges, but mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and trees. The biggest causes are habitat destruction, pollution and hunting ... and unless we stop soon, we too will be among the victims of our ecocidal attack on Earth.

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The Dalmatian pelican suffered large declines in the last centuries due to habitat loss and degradation and persecution, but thanks to habitat management and restoration the population in Europe is recovering and the species is no longer at risk. Photo: B

One fifth of Europe's birds are in danger of extinction

The Ecologist
| 3rd June 2015
Conservation projects have pulled several endangered European birds back from the brink of extinction, but habitat loss, industrial farming, over fishing and climate change all represent growing threats that requires broader and deeper change in the EU and beyond.

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From the front cover of 'Adventures in the Anthropocene' by Gaia Vince, published by Random House.

Adventures in the Anthropocene - a journey to the heart of the planet

Robert Hunziker
| 2nd June 2015
Gaia Vince's remarkable book is far more than a litany of the problems of global warming and mass extinction, writes Robert Hunziker. It's also an inspiring account of how people can respond to such crises in wonderful, imaginative, creative ways, achieving seemingly impossible tasks from seeding glaciers in the Himalayas, to holding back the desert with dew.

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Mind who you call stupid ... Palaeolithic men and tiger, Africa, 100,000 - 2,000,000 years ago. Image: via cantabriatotal.com.

Dear Carl, it's time to rethink Homo 'sapiens'

Dr Gianluca Serra
| 26th January 2015
In this imaginary letter to the father of modern taxonomy and ecology, Carl Linnaeus, about the current status of life on Earth, Gianluca Serra suggests renaming the human species from the self-satisfied 'wise' to 'obtuse' - if only to spare us from the ridicule we so richly deserve for our collective insanity.

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