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Stories by John Platt

South African gamblers smoke endangered vulture brains for luck

As the World Cup launches in South Africa this week, conservationists fear that gamblers looking for a little extra luck will turn to a source those of us in the West might not expect: the practice of smoking vulture brains.The custom stems from the traditional medicine known in South Africa as muti ...

June 10, 2010 — John Platt

The loris: Another primate at risk from traditional Asian medicine

Lorises, tiny nocturnal primates found in southern Asia, are increasingly at risk due to illegal wildlife trade and their use in traditional Asian medicine, a new study finds.Every year, according to research published in the American Journal of Primatology , thousands of lorises are caught for use in traditional medicine...

May 27, 2010 — John Platt

Polar-grizzly bear hybrid found in Canada

An extremely rare "grolar bear"—a polar-grizzly bear hybrid—was shot and killed by an Inuit hunter in Canada's Northwest Territories last month.Global warming has reportedly been driving grizzly bears ( Ursus arctos horribilis ) farther north in search of food, bringing them into polar bear ( U...

May 24, 2010 — John Platt

World's smallest water lily saved from extinction

Two years ago, the world's smallest water lily, a plant known as Nymphaea thermarum whose pads reach only one centimeter in diameter, disappeared from its only habitat, a few square meters near a hot spring in Mashyuza, Rwanda...

May 20, 2010 — John Platt

E.U. orders Finland to protect critically endangered seals

Finland's Lake Saimaa is home to one of the world's rarest seals, the Saimaa ringed seal ( Pusa hispida saimensis ). Just 260 or so of these critically endangered animals remain in the freshwater lake, and now the European Union has told Finland that the country is not doing enough to protect the species."We cannot allow rare species to disappear," a spokesperson for the E.U.'s environment commissioner told reporters on Wednesday...

May 10, 2010 — John Platt

Rare dolphins endangered in Taiwan, Australia and Peru

Dolphin species on four continents are in danger, warn various reports.

In Asia, the Taiwan Matsu's Fish Conservation Union says that only 60 to 90 Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins ( Sousa chinensis chinensis ) remain off the Taiwanese coast, fewer than half that existed just four years ago...

May 4, 2010 — John Platt

Giant spitting worm not so giant--or prone to spitting--after all?

For the last few years, environmental groups have been calling for the protection of the giant Palouse earthworm ( Driloleirus americanus ), an incredibly rare species (seen only a few times in the past 110 years) that was said to be more than a meter long, smell like lilies and spit at its attackers...

April 28, 2010 — John Platt

Petition filed to protect 404 southeastern U.S. species

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) has filed a massive petition to protect 404 freshwater species in the southeastern U.S. The list includes 48 fish, 92 mussels and snails, 92 crayfish and other crustaceans, 82 plants, 13 reptiles (including five map turtles), four mammals, 15 amphibians, 55 insects, and three birds...

April 22, 2010 — John Platt
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