WoodPile: Wildlife face `Armageddon` as forests shrink


WOOD PILE

Wildlife face ‘Armageddon‘ as forests shrink by Staff Writers Singapore (SPX) Oct 02, 2013


File image.

Species living in rainforest fragments could be far more likely to disappear than was previously thought, says an international team of scientists. In a study spanning two decades, the researchers witnessed the near-complete extinction of native small mammals on forest islands created by a large hydroelectric reservoir in Thailand.

“It was like ecological Armageddon,” said Luke Gibson from the National University of Singapore, who led the study. “Nobody imagined we’d see such catastrophic local extinctions.”

The study, just published in the leading journal Science today, is considered important because forests around the world are being rapidly felled and chopped up into small island-like fragments.

“It’s vital that we understand what happens to species in forest fragments,” said Antony Lynam of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“The fate of much of the world’s biodiversity is going to depend on it.”

The study was motivated by a desire to understand how long species can live in forest fragments. If they persist for many decades, this gives conservationists a window of time to create wildlife corridors or restore surrounding forests to reduce the harmful effects of forest isolation.

However, the researchers saw native small mammals vanish with alarming speed, with just a handful remaining – on average, less than one individual per island – after 25 years. “There seemed to be two culprits,” said William Laurance of James Cook University in Australia.

“Native mammals suffered the harmful effects of population isolation, and they also had to deal with a devastating invader – the Malayan field rat.”

In just a few years, the invading rat grew so abundant on the islands that it virtually displaced all native small mammals. The field rat normally favors villages and agricultural lands, but will also invade disturbed forests.

“This tells us that the double whammy of habitat fragmentation and invading species can be fatal for native wildlife,” said Lynam.

“And that’s frightening because invaders are increasing in disturbed and fragmented habitats around the world.”

“The bottom line is that we must conserve large, intact habitats for nature,” said Gibson. “That’s the only way we can ensure biodiversity will survive.”

‘Near-complete extinction of native small mammal fauna 25 years after forest fragmentation’ by Luke Gibson, Antony J. Lynam, Corey J. A. Bradshaw, Fangliang He, David P. Bickford, David S. Woodruff, Sara Bumrungsri and William F. Laurance was published on 27 September 2013 in Science and is available at http://www.sciencemag.org (doi: 10.1126/science.1240495).

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woodpile: Wildlife face ´Armageddon` as forests shrink


WOOD PILE

Wildlife face ‘Armageddon‘ as forests shrink by Staff Writers Singapore (SPX) Oct 02, 2013


File image.

Species living in rainforest fragments could be far more likely to disappear than was previously thought, says an international team of scientists. In a study spanning two decades, the researchers witnessed the near-complete extinction of native small mammals on forest islands created by a large hydroelectric reservoir in Thailand.

“It was like ecological Armageddon,” said Luke Gibson from the National University of Singapore, who led the study. “Nobody imagined we’d see such catastrophic local extinctions.”

The study, just published in the leading journal Science today, is considered important because forests around the world are being rapidly felled and chopped up into small island-like fragments.

“It’s vital that we understand what happens to species in forest fragments,” said Antony Lynam of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“The fate of much of the world’s biodiversity is going to depend on it.”

The study was motivated by a desire to understand how long species can live in forest fragments. If they persist for many decades, this gives conservationists a window of time to create wildlife corridors or restore surrounding forests to reduce the harmful effects of forest isolation.

However, the researchers saw native small mammals vanish with alarming speed, with just a handful remaining – on average, less than one individual per island – after 25 years. “There seemed to be two culprits,” said William Laurance of James Cook University in Australia.

“Native mammals suffered the harmful effects of population isolation, and they also had to deal with a devastating invader – the Malayan field rat.”

In just a few years, the invading rat grew so abundant on the islands that it virtually displaced all native small mammals. The field rat normally favors villages and agricultural lands, but will also invade disturbed forests.

“This tells us that the double whammy of habitat fragmentation and invading species can be fatal for native wildlife,” said Lynam.

“And that’s frightening because invaders are increasing in disturbed and fragmented habitats around the world.”

“The bottom line is that we must conserve large, intact habitats for nature,” said Gibson. “That’s the only way we can ensure biodiversity will survive.”

‘Near-complete extinction of native small mammal fauna 25 years after forest fragmentation’ by Luke Gibson, Antony J. Lynam, Corey J. A. Bradshaw, Fangliang He, David P. Bickford, David S. Woodruff, Sara Bumrungsri and William F. Laurance was published on 27 September 2013 in Science and is available at http://www.sciencemag.org (doi: 10.1126/science.1240495).

14 Albino Lions in warehouse near Bangkok discovered by Thai police


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Thai police discover 14 albino lions in warehouse near Bangkok

Pet shop owner could face four years in jail and a fine after the discovery of meerkats, monkeys and other exotic species

  • guardian.co.uk,              Tuesday 11 June 2013 08.28 BST                

Thai police have arrested a pet shop owner after discovering numerous exotic species, including meerkats and leopards, in a warehouse near Bangkok. Photograph: AP

Thai police have arrested a pet shop owner after discovering 14 albino lions smuggled from Africa and hundreds of other protected animals in a warehouse near Bangkok.

Birds, meerkats, tortoises, capuchin monkeys and other exotic species were found on the premises, Colonel Ek Ekasart of the local police department said.

Officers said Montri Boonprom-on, 41, faced charges of possessing wildlife and carcasses, a 40,000 baht ($1,300) fine and up to four years in jail.

Montri owns a pet shop in the heart of the renowned Chatuchak market and has previously been convicted of wildlife trading. He said the lions had been shipped legally and were to be transferred to a zoo in the north-east of the country, but he did not explain why there were only 14 lions  at his warehouse, when documents showed he had imported 16.

Thailand is a hub of the international illegal market in protected animals. It is a member of a convention regulating the global trade in endangered species, but Thai law does not protect many foreign species.

Police also found a hornbill and a leopard, both protected by domestic law, packed in a box to be delivered to clients.

“We have been monitoring the location for a few days after the neighbours complained about the noise from the animals,” Ek said, referring to the raid in a residential area of Klong Sam Wa district. “If you looked through the gate, you could spot lions in the cage.”

The animals were confiscated and placed under the care of the department of wildlife and conservation.

University of East Anglia: Research reveals catastrophic loss of Cambodia`s tropical flooded grasslands


日本語: Angkor Phnom Bakheng アンコール・プノンバケン
日本語: Angkor Phnom Bakheng アンコール・プノンバケン (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Research reveals catastrophic loss of Cambodia’s tropical flooded grasslands

March 18, 2013. Source: University of East Anglia

Photo: UEA

Around half of Cambodia’s tropical flooded grasslands have been lost in just 10 years according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

The seasonally flooded grasslands around the Tonle Sap, Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake, are of great importance for biodiversity and a refuge for 11 globally-threatened bird species. They are also a vital fishing, grazing, and traditional rice farming resource for around 1.1 million people. Research published today in the journal Conservation Biology quantifies for the first time the area’s catastrophic loss of tropical flooded grassland.

The grassland area spanned 3349 km² in 1995, but by 2005 it had been reduced to just 1817 km² – a loss of 46 per cent. 

Despite conservation efforts in some areas, it has continued to shrink rapidly since, with a further 19 per cent lost in four years (2005-2009) from the key remaining grassland area in the southeast of the Tonle Sap floodplain.

Factors include intensive commercial rice farming with construction of irrigation channels, which is often illegal. Some areas have also been lost to scrubland where traditional, low-intensity agricultural activity has been abandoned.

The research has been led by Dr Charlotte Packman from UEA’s school of Environmental Sciences, in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia Program and BirdLife International. It was funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.

Dr Packman said: “Tropical and flooded grasslands are among the most threatened ecosystems globally. The area around the Tonle Sap lake is the largest remaining tropical flooded grassland in Southeast Asia. It is hugely important to both biodiversity and the livelihoods of some of the world’s poorest communities. Our research shows that these grasslands are disappearing at an alarming rate.

“These unique grasslands are home to many threatened birds including by far the largest remaining population of the critically endangered Bengal florican – the world’s rarest bustard. This bird has experienced a dramatic population decline of 44 per cent in seven years due to the destruction of its grassland habitat. Other birds under threat in this area include sarus cranes, storks, ibises and eagles.

“Rural communities have been left vulnerable to land-grabbing and privatisation of -communal grasslands. Traditional, low-intensity use of the grasslands by these communities, such as burning and cattle-grazing, help to maintain the grasslands and prevent scrubland from invading.

Intensive commercial rice production by private companies, involving the construction of huge channels and reservoirs for irrigation, is denying local communities access to the grasslands on which their livelihoods depend and destroying a very important habitat for threatened wildlife.

“This high-speed conversion and land-grabbing has intensified pressure on already threatened species and on the marginalised rural communities that depend on the grassland ecosystem.

“The loss of this entire ecosystem from Southeast Asia is imminent without immediate intervention. In 2009 only 173 km² of grassland were under some form of protection, but by 2011 even these protected areas were shrinking – with 28 per cent lost to intensive cultivation.

Flooded grasslands in Thailand and Vietnam have already been almost completely lost. Only a strong political commitment to protection and restoration can prevent the impending loss of the last major flooded grassland in Southeast Asia.”

Researchers compared aerial photographs taken in 2005 with land cover maps from 1995 and 1996. They found that the greatest losses had occurred in the north and west and in inner floodplain areas. The least affected area was in the southeast of the floodplain.

They then collected habitat information from almost 1,000 points to establish the rate of habitat change between 2005 and 2009 in the largest remaining area of grassland. This showed that grassland in the key southeast area had declined from 923 km² to 751 km² in just four years. Almost all of this loss was attributable to either intensive rice cultivation, which had risen by 666 per cent during that period, or associated newly constructed reservoirs.

Dr Packman added: “Between 1995/1996 and 2005, the encroachment of scrubland was the major cause of grassland loss, due to a reduction in traditional, low intensity agricultural practices in the grasslands. Since 2005, intensive rice cultivation by private companies has rapidly become the most serious threat to these grasslands, destroying huge areas at a very alarming rate.”