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Stories by John Platt

Motored Down: Record number of manatee, Florida panther deaths in 2009

2009 was the deadliest year on record for Florida panthers ( Felis concolor coryi ) and manatees ( Trichechus manatus ), two endangered species that most often lose their lives when their habitats collide with that of humans.A record high 17 panthers were struck by vehicles and killed in Florida last year, two deaths above the previous high set in 2007...

January 6, 2010 — John Platt

Man convicted for killing and eating China's last Indochinese tiger

The last Indochinese tiger in China was killed and eaten by a man who has now been sentenced to 12 years in prison for his crime.

The Indochinese tiger (also known as Corbett's tiger or Panthera tigris corbetti ) is an endangered tiger subspecies that used to live in China, but now only exists in Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam, where it remains under heavy threat from poachers...

December 25, 2009 — John Platt

Will the U.S. military do right by the dugong?

Could a plan to build a 2.5-mile-long airfield in Okinawa, Japan, doom a rare manateelike species to extinction? That's the assertion of more than 400 environmental organizations (pdf), which recently sent a letter to President Obama urging him to cancel the plans to expand Camp Schwab, a U.S...

December 15, 2009 — John Platt

Another fatal blow to Asian vultures

As if it weren't bad enough that 99.9 percent of Asian vultures have been killed off in the past 20 years, now comes news that yet another potential man-made disaster waits in the wings.Millions of Asian vultures, particularly those in India, have died off over the last two decades after being poisoned by the veterinary drug diclofenac...

December 9, 2009 — John Platt

Survey finds dramatic drop in Siberian tiger populations

Poaching and habitat loss have caused populations of Siberian tigers ( Panthera tigris altaica ) to drop as much as 40 percent in the past 12 years, according to a new report from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).Also known as Amur tigers, Siberians are the largest of the six living tiger species...

December 8, 2009 — John Platt

Indonesia's Palm oil economy drives human fortunes--And orangutan misfortunes

The net worth of Indonesia's 40 richest men has doubled to $42 billion in the past year, driven in no small part by the growing demand for palm oil, according to Forbes magazine's annual examination of the country's top richest people.Global demand for palm oil is now more than 40 million tons per year, making it "central to the economies of Malaysia and Indonesia," according to the Jakarta Globe .Palm oil is a common ingredient in many processed foods...

December 7, 2009 — John Platt

Cattle plague: An extinction worth celebrating

  The world's deadliest cattle disease could be wiped off the face of the planet in the next 18 months, according to a report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)...

November 30, 2009 — John Platt

Skate punk'd: Taxonomic "oops" put rare fish species in danger of extinction

The common skate ( Dipturus batis ), a type of ray, isn't common at all. The rare fish species is already critically endangered, but now new research indicates that the common skate is actually two species, so both are more at risk than previously thought.According to a paper to be published this week in the journal Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems , the common skate is really two similar-looking species, the flapper skate ( D...

November 18, 2009 — John Platt

Nearly extinct giraffe subspecies enjoys conservation success

The rarest of the nine giraffe subspecies, the West African giraffe ( Giraffa camelopardalis peralta ), almost didn't make it to the 21st century. After years of being poached and losing habitat to development, only 50 of these animals were left in Niger in 1996, and the subspecies's future seemed bleak...

November 13, 2009 — John Platt

Tuna fishing kills an albatross every 5 minutes

Every time you open a can of tuna, an albatross dies.Okay, that's not exactly true, but albatrosses and other seabirds are increasingly endangered by commercial tuna fishing, according to a new report from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and BirdLife International...

November 10, 2009 — John Platt
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The Essential Guide to the Modern World

The Essential Guide to the Modern World