Archive for the ‘Endangered species’ Category

IUCN Spotlight: pandas and pangolins

By
September 9th, 2016



The giant panda's status has been upgraded to vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Associated Press photo.

The giant panda's status has been upgraded to vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Associated Press photo.

Good news for the giant panda, which was upgraded from endangered to vulnerable on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Endangered Species. Bad news for the Eastern gorilla, the world's largest living primate, which was reclassified as critically endangered.

The IUCN Red List was updated earlier this week at the World Conservation Congress being held in Honolulu from Sept. 1 to 10. It now includes 82,954 species, of which 23,928 are threatened with extinction.

Four out of six great ape species, including the eastern gorilla, are now critically endangered, which is one step away from going extinct.

The Eastern gorilla's population has declined more than 70 percent in 20 years to fewer than 5,000 due to illegal hunting.  The other critically endangered great apes include the western gorilla, Bornean orangutan and Sumatran orangutan.

"To see the Eastern gorilla — one of our closest cousins — slide towards extinction is truly distressing," said Inger Andersen, IUCN director general in an press release. "We live in a time of tremendous change and each IUCN Red List update makes us realize just how quickly the global extinction crisis is escalating. Conservation action does work and we have increasing evidence of it. It is our responsibility to enhance our efforts to turn the tide and protect the future of our planet."

The Eastern Gorilla is now endangered on the IUCN Red List. Associated Press photo.

The Eastern gorilla is now endangered on the IUCN Red List. Associated Press photo.

Improved Status

> Giant Panda, from endangered to vulnerable. The panda population has grown due to effective forest protection and reforestation efforts by the Chinese government. Climate change, however, is predicted to eliminate more than 35 percent of the panda's bamboo habitat in the next 80 years.

> Tibetan Antelope,  from endangered to near threatened. Rigorous protection of these antelopes, which were commercially poached for their underfur, or shahtoosh, used to make shawls, has helped the population grow back to 100,000 to 150,000. The population of these antelopes was once about one million, but declined to 65,000 to 72,500 in the 1980s and early 1990s.

> Bridled Nailtail Wallaby, from endangered to vulnerable. Endemic to Australia, this once common species declined due to the impacts of invasive species and habitat loss. They are now on the road to recovery, thanks to a successful translocation conservation program establishing new populations within protected areas.

Downgraded Status

>> Plains Zebra, moved from least concern to near threatened. The population has gone down by 24 percent over the past 14 years to just over 500,000 animals. They are threatened by hunting, especially when they move out of protected areas.

>> Koala, moved from least concern to vulnerable. Koalas, formerly common throughout eucalyptus forests of Australia, are threatened by habitat destruction, bush fires and disease. The population has declined about 30 percent over the past three generations (18-24 years) and is expected to decline further due to climate change over the next 20 to 30 years.

>Psychedelic Rock Gecko, entered the list as endangered. This species, which is only known to live on two small, offshore islands in southern Vietnam is endangered due to illegal collection for the commercial pet trade.

Among the 85 motions adopted by the IUCN's members on Wednesday following an inaugural electronic vote, are a ban on gill net fishing, which threatens the vaquita porpoise, which is listed as critically endangered, as well as restrictions on the trade of pangolins, which range from vulnerable to critically endangered in Asia and Africa. All eight species are protected under national and international laws, but increasingly victims of wildlife crime for their meat and scales.

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Members of the IUCN adopted a motion restricting the trade of pangolins. World Wildlife Fund photo.

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IUCN Spotlight: Remains of a Rainbow exhibit

By
August 28th, 2016



Orange Koki'o, or hibiscus. Courtesy David Liittschwager and Susan Middleton with Environmental Defense.

Orange koki'o, or hibiscus. Courtesy David Liittschwager and Susan Middleton.

The colors of the plants burst out from a black background — a glorious, orange kokio, the silverish blades of a Ka‘u silversword and delicate, white petals of a na‘u, or gardenia brighamii.

Then there are the varied, shiny stripes on kahuli tree snails, their shells resembling jewels; the comical face of an ‘o‘opu fish, mouth agape, swimming to you; and the regal eye of an alae ula looking at you, its colorful red and yellow beak cocked aside.

The one-of-a-kind fine arts exhibit, "Remains of a Rainbow: the Hawaiian Archipelago — Photographs by Susan Middleton and David Liittschwager" will be on display on the ground floor atrium of the Hawai‘i Convention Center for the IUCN World Conservation Congress. The exhibit is on display at the congress in partnership with the National Tropical Botanical Garden of Kauai and National Geographic Society.

It is available for public viewing from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 2 to 7 and Sept. 9.

Hawaiian Tree Snails. (Clockwise from top left): Achatinella livida; Achatinella lila; Partulina proxima; Achatinella mustelina; Partulina redfieldi. Courtesy David Liittschwager and Susan Middleton.

Hawaiian Tree Snails. (Clockwise from top left): Achatinella livida; Achatinella lila; Partulina proxima; Achatinella mustelina; Partulina redfieldi. Courtesy David Liittschwager and Susan Middleton.

Middleton is a San Francisco-based artist and photographer specializing in the portraiture of rare and endangered animals, plants, sites and cultures. Liitschwager, a contributing photographer to National Geographic and other magazines, is also based in San Francisco. The exhibit combines images from both "Archipelago, (National Geographic 2005)" featuring the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and "Remains of a Rainbow, (National Geographic 2001)" featuring the Main Hawaiian Islands, for display together for the first time.

The Green Leaf caught up with fine arts photographer Susan Middleton for a Q&A.

GL: What inspired you to photograph endangered native Hawaiian flora and fauna for "Remains of a Rainbow"?

SM: I collaborated with David Liitschwager on four books and companion exhibitions from 1990 to 2005, focusing on rare and endangered flora and fauna...While working on "Witness" we visited Hawaii to complete fieldwork for the project. Known as the endangered species capital of the world, Hawaii was home to more than 25 percent of species on the Federal Endangered Species list, yet it comprised only one-tenth of one percent of the land area of the United States.

Two weeks of fieldwork stretched into five weeks while I witnessed the splendor of the native Hawaiian flora and fauna simultaneous with its tragic decline...This experience galvanized me into devoting the next 10 years to the Hawaiian archipelago, first in the main Hawaiian islands and then the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands...

Hawaiian 'Alae 'Ula. Courtesy David Liittschwager and Susan Middleton.

Hawaiian 'alae 'ula. Courtesy David Liittschwager and Susan Middleton.

GL: As you were photographing individual flora and fauna from Hawaii, did anything strike you in particular about Hawaii itself? Were the flora and fauna from the main Hawaiian islands as fascinating as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands?

SM: What I noticed, for the first time in my life, was how evolution actually works. On islands, particularly ones as isolated as the Hawaiian archipelago, it's easier for biologists to witness and understand evolutionary relationships — how some of the early plants and animals arriving on the islands were able to take hold and colonize, and then adapt to their new surroundings, changing and diversifying gradually over time into the wondrous array of flora and fauna that exists nowhere else on Earth.

I do think the flora and fauna of the main Hawaiian islands are as fascinating as the Northwestern Hawaiian islands, for sure! Of course the Northwestern Hawaiian islands are less impacted by human presence, and when there, I felt as if I was visiting someone else's home; wildlife reigns in the NWHI. But there is far more native plant diversity on the main Hawaiian islands. Much of it has been lost, but much still remains. Hence, the title of the exhibition at IUCN — "Remains of a Rainbow: the Hawaiian Archipelago."

GL: Do you have a favorite individual image (I know it's hard to choose). If you could only choose one image for this exhibit, which one would it be?

SM: My favorite individual image in the exhibit (right now, it changes) is the ‘o‘opu alamo‘o (Lentipes concolor), the Hawaiian native stream fish photographed at the NTBG Limahuli Stream on Kauai. This beautiful, little fish can scale 1,000-foot waterfalls, from the sea to high in the mountains. Its habits are perfectly adapted to its habitat, yet it is defenseless against agricultural runoff and non-native species introduced into its native streams. The picture shows two fish — one swimming upward with its partially gold color on full display; the other is hunkered down looking straight at the camera with a striking face. Voluptuous lips with tiny teeth!

'O'opu 'Alamo'o, Lintipes concolor. Courtesy David Liittschwager and Susan Middleton.

'O'opu 'alamo'o, Lentipes concolor. Courtesy David Liittschwager and Susan Middleton.

GL:What message do you hope to get across with these images at the IUCN World Conservation Congress?

SM: The images in this exhibition have been specially selected to illustrate the spectacular profusion of life native to the Hawaiian archipelago on the occasion of the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress...Most IUCN participants won't have a chance to witness Hawaii's native flora and fauna firsthand, so my hope is that the exhibit will give a vivid impression of Hawaii's national treasures.

GL: Why is conservation important to you as a fine art photographer?

SM: I am a photographer and artist first, but early on I fell in love with what I was photographing, which were endangered species of California. And once you fall in love, you care about your loved ones. I attached myself to scientific experts to guide my fieldwork and learn about what I was photographing. And once I understood how imperiled and rare so many species are, and how human impact affects their survival, I became a full-on conservationist. And then I witnessed how the images can raise awareness toward conservation.

The endangered Na'u, or Gardenia brighamii to be on exhibit at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016. Courtesy David Liittschwager and Susan Middleton.

Photo of the endangered na'u, or Gardenia brighamii, to be on exhibit at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016. Courtesy David Liittschwager and Susan Middleton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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IUCN Spotlight: Hawaiian monk seals

By
August 25th, 2016



Hawaiian monk seal pup Niho‘ole resting on the beach at Papahanaumokuakea. Photo courtesy NOAA. Permit 16632.

Hawaiian monk seal Niho‘ole, a prematurely weaned male pup, rests on a beach in Laysan. Niho`ole is currently in guarded condition at The Marine Mammal Center’s Ke Kai Ola hospital in Kona. Credit NMFS/NOAA permit 16632.

The NOAA Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program recently transported four malnourished Hawaiian monk seals, classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List, from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to a monk seal rehabilitation center in Kona, Hawaii.

Among them are prematurely weaned pups, including Niho‘ole, pictured above, as well as YK56, an extremely underweight five-year-old.

"Even though the five-year-old Hawaiian monk seal is older than our typical patients from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, she is much smaller and thinner than the others in her cohort," said Michelle Barbieri, wildlife veterinary medical officer. "She has generally declined in condition over the past two seasons, and appeared to decline even more dramatically this season."

The monk seals underwent physical exams and blood work aboard the NOAA Research Vessel Oscar Elton Sette, and have begun a treatment regime, including oral electrolytes, fish-mash tube feedings and antibiotics. They were shuttled by small boat to Ke Kai Ola, The Marine Mammal Center's monk seal hospital in Kona as part of the final mission of a 24-day research cruise.

NOAA researchers transport Hawaiian monk seals in need of rehabilitation from the Oscar Elton Sette research vessel to a smaller boat that can bring them ashore to Ke Kai Ola, The Marine Mammal Center’s hospital in Kona. Credit NMFS / NOAA permit 16632.

NOAA researchers transport Hawaiian monk seals in need of rehabilitation from the Oscar Elton Sette research vessel to a smaller boat that can bring them ashore to Ke Kai Ola, The Marine Mammal Center’s hospital in Kona. Credit NMFS/NOAA permit 16632.

Teams of researchers, who studied seals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, or Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which President Barack Obama recently quadrupled in size to nearly 583,000 square miles, were also picked up as part of the program's long-running Assessment and Recovery Camps. As remote as the atolls may be, their shores are full of marine debris, including broken-down pieces of plastic, fishing nets and ropes that the seals often get entangled in.

Since Ke Kai Ola opened two years ago, the hospital has provided another option in the islands for malnourished monk seals that would otherwise perish at Papahanaumokuakea. So far, the hospital has rehabilitated and returned 15 Hawaiian monk seals to the wild, including seven last year.

The Hawaiian monk seal, or neomonachus schauinslandi, is endemic to the Hawaiian islands, meaning found nowhere else, and typically hauls out on beaches to rest during the day. While most live in Papahanaumokuakea, a growing number of pups are being born in the main Hawaiian islands. Their population has been in decline for decades, with only an estimated 1,300 left in the wild.

Hawaiian monk seal Niho`ole, a prematurely weaned male pup, rests on a beach in Laysan. Niho`ole is currently in guarded condition at The Marine Mammal Center’s Ke Kai Ola hospital in Kona. Credit NMFS / NOAA permit 16632.

Hawaiian monk seal Niho‘ole, a prematurely weaned male pup, rests on a beach in Laysan. Niho‘ole is currently in guarded condition at The Marine Mammal Center’s Ke Kai Ola hospital in Kona. Credit NMFS/NOAA permit 16632.

Interested in learning more about Hawaii's wildlife? The IUCN Forum presents a Knowledge Cafe, entitled "Wet and Wild: Promoting Sustainable and Responsible Ecotourism Experiences with Marine Wildlife" from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3 in Room 311-4 at Hawai‘i Convention Center. Meet with representatives from NOAA Fisheries for a discussion on how to balance sustainability with tourism when it comes to whales, dolphins, manta rays and Hawaiian monk seals. Wildlife managers, marine ecotourism operators, cultural practitioners, travel industry representatives, scientists and others welcome. A followup discussion will be held off site from 1 to 5 p.m. at the OHANA Waikiki East Hotel, lobby conference room, 150 Kaiulani Ave. RSVP to Adam Kurtz, adam.kurtz@noaa.gov by Sept. 6.

Related videos:

Hawaiian monk seal pup Niho‘ole playing with plastic debris at Laysan.

 

This public service announcement plays on Hawaiian Airlines' in-flight video:

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IUCN Spotlight: Samuel ‘Ohu Gon III

By
August 22nd, 2016



Dr. Sam ‘Ohu Gon III, courtesy The Nature Conservancy.

Dr. Sam ‘Ohu Gon III, courtesy The Nature Conservancy.

A Hawaiian chanter, senior scientist and cultural advisor for The Nature Conservancy, Samuel M. ‘Ohukani‘ohi‘a Gon III bridges the western and native Hawaiian worlds.

Gon, who has more than 40 years of experience in Hawaiian ecology, is hosting a workshop at the IUCN World Conservation Congress Forum on integrating indigenous cultural values and perspectives into conservation on Sept. 3. He will be at the opening of the #NatureForAll pavilion and moderate a presentation on bright spots in conservation across the isles.

Gon helped craft motion 83, with students at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Environmental Law Program, which affirms the role of indigenous cultures in global conservation efforts.

"If you were going to think about any place where conservation issues are a high priority, and conservation challenges felt very strongly, it would be Hawaii," said Gon. "We have more endangered species than any other state in the U.S. We've got finite island ecosystems."

"The lessons of these islands to earth is the same as a canoe to an island. When you're on a voyaging canoe thousands of miles to an island, your entire world is on the canoe. You need to rely on the people in that canoe and the resources you have to survive. Decisions are never made lightly. You're always thinking about supplies, the direction  and your goals."

"We know we have limited land area, so you can't behave as if you have an infinite supply of resources...so that same lesson applies to larger islands such as continents, and of course, to the largest island we have, which is the planet."

The practitioner of Hawaiian chant and protocol graduated from revered kumu John Keolamaka‘ainana Lake as well as with a PhD in animal behavior from the University of California at Davis, and is as comfortable talking natural science as he is Hawaiian. He lectures about the Natural History of Hawaiian Islands at the University of Hawaii at Manoa In addition, he knows Hawaii's mountains and forests intimately.

Danny Donlin, left, and Dr. Samuel ‘Ohu Gon III from Na Hanona o Ka Halau Hula Pa Ola Kapu (under the direction of kumu hula John Keolamaka'ainana Lake) at the 27th Annual Prince Lot Hula Festival at Moanalua Gardens. File photo by Dennis Oda 2014.

Danny Donlin, left, and Dr. Samuel ‘Ohu Gon III from Na Hanona o Ka Halau Hula Pa Ola Kapu (under the direction of kumu hula John Keolamaka'ainana Lake) at the 27th Annual Prince Lot Hula Festival at Moanalua Gardens. File photo by Dennis Oda 2014.

Whether in the Pacific islands or forests of the Amazon, indigenous peoples who have a relationship with the places where they live offer valuable insights into the management of natural resources.

"The time is emerging when all people need to start looking at their places, lands and water, and sustain them with a bit more respect," said Gon. "It becomes clearer to us that human impacts are being seen from pole to pole and there's no place on Earth that hasn't seen the impact of humanity...It's no longer, let nature take its course because we have modified the course nature has run."

Still, people need to be part of the solution because people are part of the natural system.

"The great revelations of this century are going to be the awareness of the global implications of our actions. We need to take action as individual countries and as a global country to minimize those things we understand are not in the best interest of the world's ecosystems or ourselves."

In addition to serving on the IUCN's commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, Gon also was a member of the Hawaii Rare Plant Specialist Group that worked to add more than 700 more native species to the IUCN Red List. There are so many Hawaiian plants and animals that are in need of attention, but one that Gon would love to see added to the red list is the Hawaiian Happy Face Spider.

In mid-August, Gon joined the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Snail Extinction Prevention Program in reintroducing captive-reared, nearly extinct Hawaiian tree snails (Achatinella Lila, or pūpū kuahiwi) back to the summit of the Ko‘olau mountains on Oahu. In 1997, the last six individuals for the snail population were brought to a lab for captive rearing.

Related video (TEDx Maui Talk: Lessons from a Thousand Years):

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IUCN Spotlight: Chris Farmer

By
August 15th, 2016



Chris Farmer, Hawaii Program Director, American Bird Conservancy at Nihoa island. Courtesy Chris Farmer.

Chris Farmer, Hawaii Program Director, American Bird Conservancy at Nihoa island. Courtesy Chris Farmer.

Gone is the Kauai O‘o bird, which was endemic to the island of Kauai. Its songs can no longer be heard in tree branches, with all that remains being a recording at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Its last song was heard in 1985.

Before that, we lost the Oahu ‘akepa (1893), the Laysan honeycreeper (1923) and Lanai creeper (1937). Today, many native Hawaiian birds continue to live on the brink of becoming extinct due to invasive species, loss of habitat and mosquito-borne diseases.

Chris Farmer, Hawaii Program Director of the American Bird Conservancy, said roughly a third of all endangered birds in the world are native Hawaiian. Being on isolated islands, conservation work here is more challenging due to the small, geographic location and lack of funding.

"Hawaii's native birds are one of the biggest conservation needs in the world," said Farmer. "I do feel we're at a crossroads. A lot of these birds are in serious shape. We know it needs to get done. If we take action now, we can save these precious and endangered species found nowhere else in the world."

Hawaii is the bird extinction capital of the world, according to the conservancy.

A Hawaiian honeycreeper, or ‘i‘iwi, is at risk of extinction. Photo by robbey Kohley/American Bird Conservancy.

A Hawaiian honeycreeper, or ‘i‘iwi, is at risk of extinction. Photo by Robbey Kohley/American Bird Conservancy.

Native birds such as the ‘akikiki, ‘i‘iwi and Maui parrotbill are at risk of declining quickly. The ‘i‘iwi, or Hawaiian honeycreeper, was once one of the most common native forest birds in the Hawaiian archipelago but is in decline due to avian malaria. Climate change is another threat.

Yet Farmer, who has been dedicated to saving Hawaiian birds since 2004, remains optimistic.

The translocation of endangered millerbirds to Hawaii's Laysan island is a success story. In 2013, the population of the millerbirds there had doubled to more than 100 after 50 were translocated from Nihoa in previous years. Last year, 10 endangered Hawaiian petrel chicks were flown by helicopter to Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, where they are protected by a predator-proof fence, on Kauai.

In April, biologists released more than a dozen puaiohi (small Kauai thrush) from captive breeding programs at a wilderness preserve on the Garden Isle. Hawaiian crows, or alala, are also being bred in captivity and doing well, with a dozen to be released in September.

"The problems are serious, but the hope is there," he said. "If we act now we can save these species."

Farmer and George Wallace (vice president of oceans and islands) from the American Bird Conservancy will be at the following World Conservation Congress events:

> ABC Pavilion Talks: Saving Hawaiian Birds. Concrete Actions to Prevent Further Extinctions.

> ABC Pavilion Talks: Overcoming Conflicts to Save Hawaii's Native Birds

> Revive & Restore Workshop, Genetic Rescue: Can new genomic tools solve conservation problems such as exotic wildlife diseases and destructive invasive species?

> Revive & Restore Pavilion, Stamping Out Alien Mosquitoes in Hawaii: Can new technology stop avian malaria from driving Hawaii's native birds to extinction?

> ABC Poster: Hawaii's Native Birds at the Crossroads

> ABC Poster: Palila: Conservation of an endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper - past, present and future challenges

The Palila, a critically endangered native Hawaiian bird on the IUCN Red List. Photo by Robby Kohley/ABC Birds.

The Palila, an endangered native Hawaiian bird. Photo by Robby Kohley/ABC Birds.

The IUCN Red List

By
August 9th, 2016



The Oahu Elepaio is on the list (status: endangered), as is the Hawaiian monk seal (status: endangered), the Kauai bog damselfly (status: near threatened), silversword (status: vulnerable) and Cyanea kuhihewa (status: critically endangered).

The IUCN Red List, sometimes referred to as a barometer of life, has since 1964 been cataloging the conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species around the globe with details such as current status, distribution, threats and habitats essential for survival. Considered a critical indicator of the health of the world's biodiversity, it's used by government agencies, wildlife departments and organizations worldwide to set conservation and funding priorities.

Hawaii, the "extinction capital of the world," has a significant number of flora and fauna on the list and is poised to have more.

In an unprecedented collaboration, botanists in Hawaii are targeting over half of Hawaii's native plants — 780 of 1,375 natives species — for the IUCN Red List.

The National Tropical Botanical Garden spearheaded these efforts last August, when it hosted a workshop for the Hawaiian Plant Specialists Group, which is part of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. The group assessed the plant species by island, focusing first on 'single island endemics,' or species that occur on just one island.

The Geranium arboreum, endemic to Maui, is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.

The Geranium arboreum, endemic to Maui, is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. Photo courtesy NTBG.

Approximately 90 percent of native flowering plant species are endemic to the islands, meaning found nowhere else, naturally. Kauai has the highest number of endemic species due its geologic age, its many steep, isolated valleys and greater distance from other islands. Before the workshop, 91 Kauai species were listed. An additional 47 have been listed, with more pending.

By the time the congress takes place in September, Oahu is expected to increase its number of red-listed plant species to 147; Maui 117; Lanai 50, Molokai 66 and Hawaii island 79.

Currently, there are more than 79,800 species on the IUCN Red List. The IUCN's goal is to assess at least 160,000 species by 2020.

A quick look at the IUCN Red List:

> There are currently more than 79,800 species on the IUCN Red List. More than 23,000 are threatened with extinction, including 41 percent of amphibians, 34 percent of conifers, 33 percent of reef building corals, 25 percent of mammals and 13 percent of birds.

> Both threatened and non-threatened species are included on the list. However, a species that is not listed may still be threatened.

> Categories range from least concern to vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered, extinct in the wild and extinct.

The  World Conservation Congress, held only once every four years, is expected to bring between 6,000 to 8,000 world leaders from over 170 countries to the Hawai‘i Convention Center from Sept. 1 to 10. It is being held for the first time in the U.S.

Related video:

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Racing Extinction

By
March 7th, 2016



Academy Award-winning film director Louie Psihoyos exposes the underground world of the endangered species trade in his new film, "Racing Extinction," which was screened for a Honolulu audience on Friday evening.

The director of "The Cove," which exposed the annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan, and his team from the Oceanic Preservation Society focus this time on the underground market of shark finning in China and covert offering of whale meat at The Hump, a now closed-down sushi restaurant in Santa Monica, Calif.

Footage includes the precious clip of the last (and now extinct) male ‘o‘o bird singing for a female on Kauai, which is stored in the archives of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The Grasshopper Sparrow may be next to go extinct.

Vulcan Productions and the Hawaii Wildlife Coalition hosted the free screening on Friday evening at Blaisdell Concert Hall in celebration of World Wildlife Day.

"Each year about one in a million species should expire naturally," said Stuart Pimm, conservation ecologist from Duke University in the film. "In the next few decades, we'll be driving species to extinction a thousand times faster than they should be."

In 100 years or so, we could lose up to 50 percent of all species on earth, according to the film. No surprise, humans are the driving force of this mass extinction.

The film focuses heavily on the shark finning and exotic animal trade in China. It also looks at the killing of manta rays in Lamakera, a remote fishing village in Indonesia, for their gills, which are being touted as a Traditional Chinese Medicine cure.

While "Racing Extinction" covers a broad swathe, addressing a range of issues from ocean acidification to carbon emissions and their impact on the earth, it does not delve into the world of elephant and rhino poaching in Africa or other parts of the world.

It offers beautiful, underwater footage of blue whales, dolphins, whale sharks, hammerhead sharks and manta rays.

After the screening, actress Kristin Bauer van Straten moderated a panel including race car driver Leilani Munter (whose mother is from Kona and who is in the film), Jeffrey Flocken, North America regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare and Elly Pepper, policy advocate of the Land & Wildlife Program for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

ExtinctionPanelists

Actress Kristin Bauer van Straten moderates the panel discussion following the film's screening at Blaisdell Concert Hall with race car driver and environmental activist Leilani Munter, Jeffrey Flocken of IFAW and Elly Pepper of NRDC. An endangered Hawaiian monk seal is on the screen behind them. Seals are not featured in the film.

Hawaii is the third largest market for ivory in the U.S., behind New York and California, according to a brochure from the Conservation Council for Hawai‘i. The latter two states now have laws in place.

The council urged support for HB2502 and SB2647, which would prohibit the trafficking of any part of protected animal species in Hawaii, including any species of elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, great ape, Hawaiian monk seal, shark, ray, sea turtle, walrus, narwhal, whale, lion, pangolin, cheetah and more. For the full list, see the bill.

The bill mentions that Hawaii, as host of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's World Conservation Congress in September, should demonstrate leadership in endangered species protection.

A House vote on HB2502 is scheduled for Tuesday.

Despite the gruesome discoveries, the film concludes with a message of hope that we can save animals from going extinct.

"If we all lose hope there is no hope," said Jane Goodall, who is seen in the film, releasing a chimpanzee back into the wild. "Without hope, people fall into apathy. There's still a lot left worth fighting for."

"Racing Extinction" was broadcast on The Discovery Channel on Dec. 2, but is also available on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.

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New home for chicks

By
November 4th, 2015



 

Endangered Petrel chick. Photo by Andre Raine/Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project.

Endangered Petrel chick. Photo by Andre Raine/Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project.

A total of 10 endangered Hawaiian Petrel chicks now have a new home at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on Kauai, thanks to humans who care.

The chicks were flown by helicopter from their montane nesting area to a new colony protected by a predator-proof fence at the refuge as part of a historic translocation project more than 30 years in the making, according to the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

More than a dozen people were involved in the translocation as part of a collaboration between the American Bird Conservancy, DLNR, the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project, Pacific Rim Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Early in the morning, two teams embarked on to the mountain peaks in the Hono O Na Pali Natural Area Reserve. They were dropped by helicopter so they could locate 10 nest burrows that DLNR had been monitoring throughout the breeding season — each with a large, healthy chick.

The chicks were carefully removed by hand, according to DLNR, and placed into pet carriers, then hiked to the tops of the peaks where helicopters picked them up. The chicks' holding boxes were even seat-belted to ensure their safety. They were flown to Princeville Airport where an animal care team assessed their health, then driven to the 7.8-acre Nikoku area at the Refuge, their new home.

The petrel chicks were carried by hand in carriers to a helicopter. Photo by Eric Venderwerf/Pacific Rim Conservation.

The petrel chicks were carried by hand in carriers to a helicopter. Photo by Eric Venderwerf/Pacific Rim Conservation.

Michael Mitchell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's acting Kauai National Wildlife Refuge complex project leader said the translocation will establish a new, predator-free colony of the endangered Hawaiian Petrel to help prevent the extirpation of the species from Kauai.

"Petrels, like many other native Hawaiian species, are facing tremendous challenges with shrinking habitat and the onslaught of invasive species," he said. "Translocating the birds to Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge ensures that this colony of birds will be protected for our children and our children's children."

Endangered Hawaiian Petrels, or ‘Ua‘u, are one of two seabird species endemic to the Hawaiian islands and found nowhere else on Earth. Their population decline is caused by introduced predators, including cats, rats and pigs, as well as collisions with man-made structures during their nocturnal flights from breeding colonies in the mountains to the ocean, where they search for food.

Petrel chicks imprint on their birth colony the first time they emerge from their burrows and see the night sky, and typically return to breed at the same colony as adults. So these chicks are expected to emerge from their next boxes and return to Nihoku as adults. They will be hand-fed a slurry of fish and squid and monitored until they are ready to leave their new nest burrows and fly out to sea.

Next, the state is hoping to translocate a colony of Newell's Shearwaters to predator-proof locations.

The petrel chicks at their new home. Photo by Ann Bell/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The petrel chicks at their new home. Photo by Ann Bell/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Related video courtesy Hawaii DLNR and American Bird Conservancy:

Hawaiian blessing of the chicks' new home at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

 

Posted in Conservation, Endangered species | Comments Off on New home for chicks

Seven monk seals

By
October 16th, 2015



Kilo, the Hawaiian monk seal that NOAA rescued from Niihau, resting on an ohia log at Ke Kai Ola. Photo courtesy The Marine Mammal Center. NOAA Permit No. 18786.

Kilo, the Hawaiian monk seal that NOAA rescued from Niihau, resting on an ohia log at Ke Kai Ola. Photo courtesy The Marine Mammal Center. NOAA Permit No. 18786.

Ke Kai Ola, the Hawaiian monk seal hospital run by The Marine Mammal Center at NELHA in Kona, is rehabilitating seven seals.

The hospital has successfully rehabilitated and released eight seal patients over the past year, mostly malnourished pups from the Northwestern Hawaiian islands, or Papahanaumokuakea, that would otherwise had little chance of survival. The monk seal population at Papahanaumokuakea is in decline primarily due to poor juvenile survival — fewer than one in five survive their first year due to marine debris entanglement, predators and starvation.

Most recently, NOAA returned Pearl and Hermes to the atolls where they were found. Pearl and Hermes were pre-weaned pups that were able to pretty much double their weight at Ke Kai Ola. They were healthy enough for release after just four months.

Fewer than 1,100 Hawaiian monk seals remain in Hawaii. While the majority reside in the more remote isles of Papahanaumokuakea, a growing number of pups are being born in the main Hawaiian isles, which is home to between 150 to 200 seals. However, NOAA's Hawaiian Monk Seal Research team recently surveyed monk seal breeding sites along the 1,200-mile archipelago and found that 148 pups were born in Papahanaumokuakea this year, up 22 percent from 2014.

While Pearl and Hermes were transported back home (see pics below) aboard the Oscar Elton Sette, the team rescued six new patients — five female pups and one juvenile female — and transported them back to Ke Kai Ola. The team also rescued Kilo, a female monk seal pup found earlier on the island of Niihau. For the first time, all four of the pool pens at Ke Kai Ola are full.

For further depth and details on the journey, read the wonderfully descriptive and humorous Kim Rogers' Malama Monk Seal blog series, which will take you on the trip and get you acquainted with the remote isles and each seal.

"All of our research cruises have seals on them now — either seals headed to Kona for rehabilitation or headed back home fat, healthy and ready for their return to the wild," said NOAA's monk seal research scientist Charles Littnan. "This hospital and our ship-turned-ambulance means new hope for monk seals."

Current monk seal patients at Ke Kai Kola include:

>> Kilo (pictured above). Female pup and the first from the main Hawaiian islands at Ke Kai Ola. Her name means "sassy." She is doing well, and while she's still being tube fed, she's starting to show an interest in whole fish, which is a positive sign.

>> Ama‘ama, a female pup named for the French Frigate Shoals where she was born.

>> Puka, a female pup named for the scar on her neck.

>> Neva, a female pup named for Neva Shoals on Lisianski Island, where she was found.

>> ‘Ena‘ena, a female pup named for a small, silver plant native to Kure Atoll, where she was found.

>> Mahina, a female pup named after the super moon, when she was found.

>> Mo‘o, a one-year-old female named for the mythical Hawaiian lizards and shapeshifting dragons. Most of us will think of geckos.

8. Ama`ama and Puka_The Marine Mamal Center_NOAA Permit 18786

Ama‘ama and Puka resting at Ke Kai Ola. NOAA permit 18786.

7. Six new patients arrive at Ke Kai Ola_The Marine Mammal Center_NOAA Permit 18786

Six new patients arrive at Ke Kai Ola. Two rest by the pool. NOAA Permit 18786.

7. Hermes & Pearl_Credit Julie Steelman_NMFS Permit 16632-00 and 932-1905-01MA-009526-1 (1)

Hermes and Pearl have returned to Papahanaumokuakea. Photo by Julie Steelman. NMFS Permit 16632-00 and 932-1905-01MA-009526-1.

Pearl and Hermes in shore pen. NOAA Permit 16632.

Pearl and Hermes in shore pen. NOAA Permit 16632.

 

Pearl and Hermes official release. NOAA Permit 16632

Back home. Pearl and Hermes official release. NOAA Permit 16632

If you see a Hawaiian monk seal resting on the shoreline, give it space and let it rest. The monk seal hotline is 220-7802 (for Oahu) or 1-888-256-9840.

Protecting Hawaii's endangered species

By
October 8th, 2015



Band-rumped storm-petrels in flight.  Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Band-rumped storm-petrels in flight. Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Hawaii, known as the endangered species capital of the world, is home to 10 animals and 39 plants under review for U.S. Endangered Species protections. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the proposal in late September.

The 49 species occur in 11 different habitat types, with 48 of them occurring nowhere else on Earth except Hawaii. These plants and animals are at risk of extinction due to invasive, non-native species, recreational activities, small population size and threats from erosion landslides and fire.

Listing these species, if approved, will boost ongoing conservation efforts to address these threats, prevent extinction and improve the ecology health of the islands.

Among the animals listed are the ‘ake‘ake, or band-rumped storm-petrel, which is a medium sized bird (primarily blackish-brown with a narrow white ban across the rump — found on the isles of Lehua, Kauai, Maui and Hawai‘i island, as well as Japan, the Galapagos islands and subtropical areas of the Atlantic. It is the smallest and rarest seabird that breeds in Hawaii.

"It's a very enigmatic seabird," said Andre Raine, Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project Coordinator. "No one's actually found an active nest for the species in Hawaii but we do know that they nest here...We've recorded their calls."

The storm-petrels are vulnerable to predators, including Polynesian rats, barn owls and feral cats. They have shallow wing beats, but glide long over the surface of the ocean. They nest in burrows in a variety of high-elevation, inland habitats. Only a single egg is laid per season, between May and June; nestlings fledge in October.

Only the Hawaii population is being proposed for the list, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and not the band-rumped storm-petrels that occur in Japan, the Galapagos and subtropical areas of the Atlantic.

The list also includes seven species of Hawaiian yellow-faced bees in response to petitions from the Xerces Society, the Orangeblack Hawaiian damselfly and Anchialine pool shrimp found on Hawaii island and Maui.

Hylaeus assimulans, one of seven species of Hawaiian yellow-faced bees proposed for endangered species protection. Photo creditL John Kaia/Xerces Society.

Hylaeus assimulans, one of seven species of Hawaiian yellow-faced bees proposed for endangered species protection.
Photo credit: John Kaia/Xerces Society.

A total of 39 native plants, including the Maui kolea (Myrsine fosbergii), nanu (Gardenia remyi), Maui reedgrass (Calamagrostis expansa). Baker's loulu palm (Pritchardia bakeri) and ihi (Portulaca villosa). The Baker's loulu, named after Lyon Arboretum founder Ray Baker, is found in wet, windswept and grassy areas, and sometimes on steep slopes from about 1,500 to 2,100 feet at the extreme northern and southern ends of the Koolaus on Oahu. It has yellow flowers.

Seana Walsh, a conservation biologist at the National Tropical Botanical Garden, said: "Hawaii is so special for many reasons, one of them being our rich, highly endemic flora and fauna. Looking at this list of 39 plant taxa proposed for Federal listing, nearly a quarter of them are unique to Kauai, showcasing how narrowly endemic some of these taxa are. Every species depends upon others for its continued existence. If a species goes extinct, there is a cascading effect on the whole ecosystem, effects of which we may not immediately be aware."

The Portulaca Villosa is one of the native Hawaiian plants proposed for a federal Endangered Species list. Courtesy NTBG.

The Portulaca Villosa is one of the native Hawaiian plants proposed for a federal Endangered Species list. Courtesy NTBG.

Of the 39 plants proposed, 18 currently have 50 or fewer individual plants remaining in the wild. Walsh added that although these plant taxa are only now being proposed for listing, many dedicated people from a handful of agencies across Hawaii have been working diligently together for years to protect them from extinction.

"The Endangered Species Act is one way these taxa gain recognition regarding their status and support for protection," she said.

Requests for a public hearing must be submitted in writing to Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Honolulu, HI 96850 by Nov. 16.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service accepts comments and information through Dec. 1 at www.regulations.gov (in the search box, enter the docket number, FWS-R1-ES-2015-0125). Written comments and information can also be submitted by U.S. snail mail or hand-delivery to:  Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R1-ES-2015-0125; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike; Falls Church, VA 22041–3803.

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