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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(09/03/2009) Only discovered in 1992, the reclusive and beautiful saola Pseudoryx nghetinhensis may soon vanish from the Earth, if rapid action isn’t taken to save one of Asia’s most enigmatic and rare mammals. Listed as Critically Endangered, the species has experienced a sharp decline since its discovery due largely to poaching. “The animal’s prominent white facial markings and long tapering horns lend it a singular beauty, and its reclusive habits in the wet forests of the Annamites an air of mystery,” says Barney Long, of the IUCN Asian Wild Cattle Specialist Group.
(06/02/2009) Tropical East Asia’s rapid population growth and dramatic economic expansion over the past half century have taken a heavy toll on its natural resources. More than two-thirds of the region’s original forest cover has been cleared or converted for agriculture and plantations, while its flora and fauna have suffered dearly from a burgeoning trade in wildlife products—several charismatic species have gone extinct as a direct consequence of human exploitation. Nevertheless tropical East Asia remains a top global priority for conservation, supporting up to a quarter of the world’s terrestrial species.