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Stories by John Platt

Last chance to save the Christmas Island bat fails; Species doomed to extinction?

Well folks, it looks like this is it for the Christmas Island pipistrelle bat ( Pipistrellus murrayi ). This critically endangered species of microbat now appears to be doomed to impending extinction as last-gasp efforts to capture the few remaining bats and place them in a captive breeding program have failed.Eight scientists, along with volunteers from the Australasian Bat Society, spent the last four weeks on Christmas Island (a territory of Australia in the Indian Ocean), but were unable to capture a single bat."We knew it was a battle against the odds, as the bats have learned to avoid traps and are very difficult to catch," says Peter Garrett, Australia's minister for environment (and former Midnight Oil singer)...

September 8, 2009 — John Platt

World's largest bat being hunted into extinction

With a wingspan of more than 1.5 meters, the large flying fox ( Pteropus vampyrus ) is the world's largest bat. But that size hasn't helped it. In fact, the giant fruit bat has become a target for hunting, and so many of them are being killed every year that the species now faces possible extinction, according to a new study...

August 31, 2009 — John Platt

Orangutans illegally killed in the past decade: 20,000--Prosecutions: 0

More than 20,000 orangutans have been poached, killed by loggers or sold into the illegal pet trade in the past 10 years, according to a new report (pdf) from Nature Alert, Ltd., in Bath, England, and the Jakarta, Indonesia–based Center for Orangutan Protection (COP) that says not a single person in Indonesia has been prosecuted for these lucrative crimes.The population of the endangered Bornean orangutan ( Pongo pygmaeus ) is currently estimated at fewer than 50,000 by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species—half what it was 60 years ago...

August 25, 2009 — John Platt

How much is a wolf worth in Idaho? $11.75

Gray wolves have a price tag on their heads in Idaho, and it's a bargain-basement price at that.

Starting Monday, Idaho residents can get wolf-hunting permits for just $11.75 (after purchasing a state hunting license for $12.75, of course)...

August 19, 2009 — John Platt

Tasty bird not so extinct after all

Will the Tasman booby survive being discovered for the third time? That's the hope of researchers at New Zealand's University of Canterbury, who have recently proved that this tasty bird is not as extinct as was believed...

August 14, 2009 — John Platt

Puppeteer helping to save real-life "Big Bird" from extinction

Wattled cranes ( Bugeranus carunculatus ) are truly big birds—mature adults stand up to 1.8 meters in height—so it's only fitting that puppets and a full-size bird costume are being used to help save this critically endangered species from extinction in South Africa.The destruction of wetland habitats has caused wattled crane populations to shrink throughout Africa, but the species faces its greatest challenge in South Africa, where only 235 birds remain in the wild.The Wattled Crane Recovery Program run by the South Africa–based Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and Johannesburg Zoo is hoping to reverse that...

August 11, 2009 — John Platt

Komodo dragons? Not in my backyard--Or yours

A plan by the Indonesia Ministry of Forestry to move 10 Komodo dragons ( Varanus komodoensis ) to a breeding facility on Bali has met with protests from two groups of local citizens, neither of which want the lizards moved, but for different reasons.About 2,500 Komodo dragons remain in the wild, according to the ministry, and their numbers are dropping...

July 29, 2009 — John Platt

British crayfish get a "safe haven" from American invaders and a fungus that eats them from the inside out

Looking for crayfish in Britain? Look hard. Almost 95 percent of British crayfish have been wiped out in the last 20 years. Now some of the few remaining crustaceans are going into hiding in a desperate, last-gasp chance to save their species from extinction.Like so many problems around the world, this one can be placed squarely on the heads of Americans—although in this case, we're talking about American signal crayfish ( Pacifastacus leniusculus )...

July 28, 2009 — John Platt

Rhino poaching approaches 15-year high

High demand from Asia has driving rhino poaching to its highest level in more than a decade, according to a new report (PDF) by the by WWF, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Traffic...

July 13, 2009 — John Platt
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