Jan 25
Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: European mink' on Delicious Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: European mink' on Digg Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: European mink' on Facebook Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: European mink' on reddit Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: European mink' on StumbleUpon Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: European mink' on Email Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: European mink' on Print Friendly

Endangered Species of the Week: European mink

European mink (Mustela lutreola)

European mink (Mustela lutreola)

Species: European mink (Mustela lutreola)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Interesting Fact: The European mink is one of Europe’s most endangered mammals.

More information:

Weighing up to a maximum of 1kg, the European mink is the smaller relative of the American mink (Neovison vison). A distinctive mark of white around the upper and lower lips of the European mink can help to distinguish between the two species.

This species is mainly nocturnal, hunting and feeding at night on a variety of prey including water voles, birds, frogs, molluscs, crabs, fish and insects. It is able to hunt both on land and in water across large home ranges of up to 15km of river. Partly webbed feet and a thick, water-repellent undercoat mean that the European mink is well suited to its semi-aquatic lifestyle.

A century ago the European mink could be found throughout the European continent, but its population is thought to have since declined by over 90%.  In 2011, the IUCN upgraded the status of the European mink from Endangered (EN) to Critically Endangered (CR) due to ongoing population decline.

This severe decline is a result of various threats, including habitat loss, commercial trapping for fur, competition from the introduced American mink and accidental mortality through pest control, poisoning and vehicle collisions. The European mink is also susceptible to Aleutian disease, a highly contagious virus that causes an often lethal infection.

Captive breeding programmes are underway for this species in an attempt to successfully establish new European mink populations. Further research is being undertaken to assess the viability of captive breeding as a technique for the conservation of this species. In Spain and France, the populations of European mink seem to be suffering from inbreeding, a problem which could be addressed by the introduction of new, captive-bred individuals.

The European mink is legally protected in all the countries in which it occurs.

 

Find out more about the European mink at the IUCN Red List and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

See images of the European mink on ARKive.

Phoebe Shaw Stewart, ARKive Text Author

Jan 18
Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Annam leaf turtle' on Delicious Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Annam leaf turtle' on Digg Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Annam leaf turtle' on Facebook Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Annam leaf turtle' on reddit Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Annam leaf turtle' on StumbleUpon Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Annam leaf turtle' on Email Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Annam leaf turtle' on Print Friendly

Endangered Species of the Week: Annam leaf turtle

Close up of the Annam leaf turtle

Annam leaf turtle (Mauremys annamensis)

Species: Annam leaf turtle (Mauremys annamensis)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Interesting Fact: Until recently, the Annam leaf turtle had not been documented in the wild for 65 years.

More information:

The Annam leaf turtle has a dark brown head with striking yellow stripes that extend from its snout to the base of the neck. Three ridges, known as keels, run along the back of its dark brown upper shell. The underside of the shell, known as the ‘plastron’, is yellow-orange with black blotches on each bony plate. The Annam leaf turtle’s feet are fully webbed, which make it well adapted to its semi-aquatic lifestyle.

This species is omnivorous and will readily eat fruit, fish and invertebrates. A semi-aquatic creature, the Annam leaf turtle feeds both on land and in water, and lays its eggs in a hole dug into the soil. The young turtles emerge after around 80 to 90 days, and resemble miniature adults in appearance.

The Annam leaf turtle is found in a small area of central Vietnam. It inhabits lowland marshes and slow-moving or still bodies of freshwater. The small range that this species inhabits is a prime location for rice production, which puts the turtle’s habitat at risk. The Annam leaf turtle is also under constant threat from unsustainable hunting and illegal trade. In China, it can often be found for sale as meat or traditional medicine.

The Annam leaf turtle is protected under Vietnam’s wildlife protection law and is also listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which means that international trade in this species should be carefully monitored. Despite trade in the Annam leaf turtle being illegal, it continues to occur as the law is often poorly enforced. Various breeding programmes have recently been set up and captive populations are increasing. These programmes try to involve local school and university students to boost awareness of this Critically Endangered turtle’s perilous situation.

 

Find out more about the Annam leaf turtle at the Southeast Asia Campaign and the Turtle Survival Alliance.

See images of the Annam leaf turtle on ARKive.

Phoebe Shaw Stewart, ARKive Text Author

 

Jan 11
Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Red-fronted macaw' on Delicious Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Red-fronted macaw' on Digg Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Red-fronted macaw' on Facebook Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Red-fronted macaw' on reddit Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Red-fronted macaw' on StumbleUpon Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Red-fronted macaw' on Email Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Red-fronted macaw' on Print Friendly

Endangered Species of the Week: Red-fronted macaw

Photo of a pair of red-fronted macaws on a branch

Red-fronted macaw (Ara rubrogenys)

Species: Red-fronted macaw (Ara rubrogenys)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: The red-fronted macaw is a fairly vocal parrot, known to produce high-pitched growls and harsh squeaks.

More information:

The red-fronted macaw is bright green with an orange-red forehead and a small patch of red behind each eye. The shoulders and thighs are also orange, the primary feathers of the wings are blue and the tail is olive-green tipped with blue. Males and females are similar in appearance. The red-fronted macaw is endemic to the east Andean slope of Bolivia, South America.

The red-fronted macaw feeds on seeds and fruit, but it will also frequently feed on crops including maize and ground nuts, as natural food is often very scarce. It roosts and nests on steep riverside cliffs. Eggs are typically laid between November and April, and most breeding pairs tend to successfully rear one young each year.

The reasons for the drastic decline of the red-fronted macaw include widespread habitat loss and degradation, largely as a result of conversion to agriculture but also due to logging and collection of firewood. This species is illegally trapped for the pet trade, but the scale of this problem is unclear. Furthermore, as the natural food sources of this bird are lost, it has to rely more on crops and becomes increasingly exposed to persecution as a result.

The red-fronted macaw is listed under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), so international trade in this species is tightly controlled. Within Bolivia, the capture, transport and export of this species is illegal. This macaw occurs in only one protected area, but just eight birds are known to breed within this park. BirdLife Bolivia initiated a conservation programme for this species in 2002. A ban on trading the red-fronted macaw has been proposed, and recommendations have been made to fence off areas of suitable habitat to reduce grazing by livestock, allowing its natural food source to make a come-back.

 

Find out more about the red-fronted macaw at BirdLife International and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.

See images of the red-fronted macaw on ARKive.

Phoebe Shaw Stewart, ARKive Text Author

Jan 4
Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: European eel' on Delicious Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: European eel' on Digg Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: European eel' on Facebook Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: European eel' on reddit Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: European eel' on StumbleUpon Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: European eel' on Email Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: European eel' on Print Friendly

Endangered Species of the Week: European eel

European eel swimming

European eel (Anguilla anguilla)

Species: European eel (Anguilla anguilla)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Interesting Fact: The first three years of the European eel’s life are spent drifting in the ocean as a larva.

More information:

The European eel has a long, narrow body, with a continuous dorsal, anal and tail fin. The colour of adults depends on the age of the individual, but usually ranges from brown or black to olive-green, with yellowish bellies. Some adults may be silvery, and young European eels are transparent and are known as ‘glass eels’.

The European eel has a fascinating life cycle, breeding in the sea and migrating to freshwater in order to grow, before returning to the sea to spawn. It is thought that all European eels spawn in the Sargasso Sea. The larvae drift in the plankton for up to three years, and are carried by the Gulf Stream towards the coasts of Europe. They then spend between 6 and 20 years in freshwater, before migrating back towards the sea on dark, moonless and stormy nights to mate. European eels can live for up to 85 years.

The European eel is found in the rivers of the North Atlantic, Baltic and Mediterranean Seas. It is also seen along European coasts from the Black Sea to the White Sea in Russia.

The population of the European eel is threatened at present, and eel stocks have declined in recent years. There is currently very little scientific knowledge of this species and the threats it faces. However, pollution, overfishing, habitat degradation, parasite infection and changes in climate have all been suggested as potential causes of the European eel’s decline.

The European Union is currently funding research that aims to halt the decline of the European eel population.

 

Find out more about the European eel at the Zoological Society of London and the Sustainable Eel Group.

See images and videos of the European eel on ARKive.

Phoebe Shaw Stewart, ARKive Text Author

 

Dec 28
Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Maathai’s longleg' on Delicious Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Maathai’s longleg' on Digg Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Maathai’s longleg' on Facebook Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Maathai’s longleg' on reddit Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Maathai’s longleg' on StumbleUpon Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Maathai’s longleg' on Email Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Maathai’s longleg' on Print Friendly

Endangered Species of the Week: Maathai’s longleg

Photo of Maathai's longleg male holotype

Maathai’s longleg (Notogomphus maathaiae)

Species: Maathai’s longleg (Notogomphus maathaiae)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: First described in 2005, Maathai’s longleg is a clubtail dragonfly belonging to the genus Notogomphus.

More information:

Also known as Maathai’s clubtail, this dragonfly is commonly referred to as ‘longleg’ on account of its extended hind thighs. Maathai’s longleg is a fairly dark-coloured dragonfly, distinguishable thanks to the bright green markings on the sides of its thorax.

Dragonflies start their life as aquatic nymphs. They pass through a series of developmental stages and undergo several moults as they grow before metamorphosis occurs. There is no evidence to suggest that this species is seasonal. Two female Maathai’s longlegs have been observed laying eggs in water.

Maathai’s longleg has been recorded from the forests of Mount Elgon National Park, Katamayu Forest and Marioshoni Forest, Kenya. It is found from around 2,200 to 2,600 metres above sea level, in and around clear montane forested streams.

The forest habitat on which this species appears to rely has been widely destroyed in recent decades, and Maathai’s longleg is therefore presumed to have suffered significant declines. As deforestation continues, this rare dragonfly is expected to be up-listed to Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List before too long.

In the densely populated Kenyan highlands, Maathai’s longleg serves as an indicator of habitat quality and is therefore being promoted as a flagship species to raise awareness of the need to protect the natural forest and watershed. Protection of its riverside forests will not only help this endangered dragonfly, but also the farmers of the foothills, by guaranteeing soil stability and a steady flow of water. To this end, dragonflies such as this species are being dubbed the ‘guardians of the watershed’ in East Africa, helping to raise their profile in the field of conservation.

 

Find out more about Maathai’s longleg at Enchanted Landscapes.

See images of Maathai’s longleg on ARKive.

Phoebe Shaw Stewart, ARKive Text Author

 

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