DID WE LOSE IN 2016?
Cheetah race car went extinct in the 1960s. Almost two dozen are still
in the hands of private owners, but the last ones were produced in 1965.
The demise of this iconic race car may be troubling to some car enthusiasts.
potential extinction of the real cheetah should be of greater concern
to everyone. A scientific report published in the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences documents the steady decline of cheetahs
across most of their native range.
predicts that, without major changes in land management, we are on a
trajectory that could see the extinction in the wild of the worlds
fastest land mammal within our childrens lifetime. At the close
of 2016, slightly more than 7,000 cheetahs were known to be alive in
the wild, mostly in Africa. No cheetahs are in the hands of private
owners in the United States because owning them is illegal here.
conservation dilemma for maintaining sustainable wild populations in
their native habitat is that cheetahs roam over vast areas in search
of prey. Hence, individuals belonging to populations that live in protected
areas range outside the reserves. Thus, as would be expected, encounters
with a growing human population increase and the outcome for the cheetah
is seldom positive.
declines that inexorably lead to extirpation of a species in a region
and eventually extinction are becoming all too common. A sobering report
titled The Animals That Went Extinct in 2016 came from David
A. Steen of Auburn Universitys Museum of Natural History.
Living alongside Wildlife, lists animals around the world that will
no longer be with us in the year to come. Many of those that went extinct
in 2016 were species indigenous to particular islands; they succumbed
to invasive species introduced by European explorers and colonists.
Some unfortunate introductions were intentional, but some were not,
rats, with the easy-to-remember scientific name Rattus rattus,
have been a scourge to native animals on islands worldwide. Birds on
the Hawaiian Islands have been devastated by rats, which were probably
introduced by Captain Cook and his crew in the late 1700s.
different kind of rat, the Bramble Cay melomys or mosaic-tailed rat,
received distinction in 2016 as a victim of decline and extinction rather
than a perpetrator. The demise of this little rat, which was native
to an uninhabited, approximately 10-acre island belonging to Australia,
is notable: The extinction of this small mammal is being attributed
to climate change (the first mammal to receive this honor). A
rise in sea level means the small island is periodically inundated with
seawater, an unfavorable habitat for any rat.
racers from, not surprisingly, Barbados are another 2016 extinction
mentioned in Steens blog. These snakes were eaten by invasive
mongoose that were brought to the island in an ill-considered
plan to control rats. Steen notes that the San Cristobal vermilion flycatcher,
a bird not seen since 1987, was declared extinct in 2016 after numerous
searches. It has the distinction of being the first bird species
to have gone extinct in the Galapagos.
Survival Alliance provided a happier end-of-year report with the announcement
that no turtle extinctions occurred during 2016. TSA comprises a global
partnership of zoos, aquariums and conservation biologists committed
to preventing any turtle extinctions during the 21st century.
this goal, TSA has active turtle breeding programs for critically endangered
freshwater turtles and tortoises and has developed dynamic conservation
programs around the world. Some species of turtles face serious ecological
issues in certain countries, but TSA works to address problems as they
arise in an effort to avoid extinction.
seem to be holding their own and some of the problems faced by cheetahs
in the wild have been identified. Lets hope neither turtles nor
cheetahs show up on David Steens extinction list in 2017. Or,
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