Photos: Asia's disappearing species

September 05, 2012

Endangered Bornean orangutans in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Orangutans are threatened by palm oil development, conversion of forests to pulp and paper plantations, the pet trade, and subsistence hunting. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

To highlight the plight of Asia's biodiversity, which is facing a range of threats from deforestation to the wildlife trade, the Wildlife Conservation Society today released a list of Asian species in need of immediate conservation action.

The list — released at the IUCN World Conservation Congress convening in Jeju, South Korea — includes the tiger, orangutans, the Mekong giant catfish, Asian rhinos, Asian giant river turtles, and Asian vultures.

WCS says all the animals can recover provided adequate measures, citing the example of the bison in the United States.

"As in the United States, it will not be the species themselves deciding which fork to take, but actions of humans using the three Rs: recognition, responsibility and recovery - recognizing the problem, taking responsibility for solving it, and putting species back on the path to recovery," said WCS President and CEO Dr. Cristián Samper in a statement.

Malayan Tiger Cubs © Julie Larsen Maher/WCS

Failure to act could result in a dramatically different outcome — that of the passenger pigeon, which went extinct in the early 20th century. Already several charismatic Asian species have gone extinct, including at least three species of tiger; the kouprey, a type of wild cattle; and the baiji, a freshwater dolphin from China.

Kouprey Herd © WCS. The Kouprey is now believed to be extinct

Batagur Turtle © WCS

Asian Vultures © WCS

Mekong catfish © WCS

Sumatran Rhino © Dennis deMello/WCS

It's too late for the Baiji © Stephen Leatherwood

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mongabay.com (September 05, 2012).

Photos: Asia's disappearing species.