Rainbow snake, of which the South Florida rainbow snake is a subspecies. Photo by:
Need to make a quick 500 bucks? Easy: head to Glades County, Florida and find a specimen of the South Florida rainbow snake (Farancia erytrogramma seminola), which the US government says is extinct. In an unusual bid two NGOS, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Center for Snake Conservation, are offering a substantial reward to the first person who can prove that the South Florida rainbow snake has not vanished forever.
Earlier this year, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that the snake subspecies was extinct. However, the CBD and the Center for Snake Conservation believe the service has done little to find the species.
“Declaring the South Florida rainbow snake extinct without adequate search effort is scientifically irresponsible,” Cameron Young, executive director of the Center for Snake Conservation, said in a press release.
A subspecies of the rainbow snake, the South Florida rainbow snake is known only from Fisheating Creek, near Lake Okeechobee. Harmless and largely aquatic the snake may also be nocturnal, making it difficult to spot. There have been unconfirmed sightings of the species through the 1980s, although no confirmed sightings in over 50 years.
“If we can find these snakes, they’d be very likely to get protection under the Endangered Species Act—the most powerful tool in the country for saving plants and animals from extinction,” said Collette Adkins Giese, an attorney with the CBD.
It’s not unheard-of for species to show up decades, sometimes even over a century, after they have last been seen, and the NGOs hope a reward may spur a more active search by the public.
(10/06/2011) The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced yesterday that the believe two species in Florida have vanished into the long dark night: the South Florida rainbow snake (Farancia erytrogramma seminola) and the Florida fairy shrimp (Dexteria floridana). The species were under review for possibly being added to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), but it’s likely the review came decades too late.
(11/12/2011) The western black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis longipes) roams the woodlands of Africa no more. The rhino, one of four sub-species of black rhino, was declared extinct this week by the IUCN, five years after the last extensive survey of its habitat in Cameroon. The rhino becomes the second declared extinct this year. All rhinos are threatened by the rhino horn trade.
(11/09/2011) The thylacine, the dodo, the great auk, the passenger pigeon, the golden toad: these species have become symbols of extinction. But they are only the tip of the recent extinction crisis, and according to a survey of 583 conservation scientists, they are only the beginning. In a new survey in Conservation Biology, 99.5 percent of conservation scientists said a serious loss in biodiversity was either ‘likely’, ‘very likely’, or ‘virtually certain’. The prediction of a significant loss of species is not surprising—scientists have been warning for decades that if global society continues with business as usual the world will suffer from mass extinction—what is perhaps surprising is the practically unanimous expectation that a global biodiversity decline will occur.