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Nature and Environment | 12.07.2018

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Red List: Human activity threatens thousands of species with extinction

Flying fox being over-culled

The Mauritian Flying Fox — an important pollinator — has moved from vulnerable to endangered on the IUCN Red List. The bat population fell by a whopping 50 percent from 2015 to 2016 due largely to government-implemented culling sparked by alleged damage to fruit crops. The fox also faces threats from deforestation, illegal hunting and an increase in cyclone activity.

Red List: Human activity threatens thousands of species with extinction

Invasive species threaten Australian wildlife

A number of unique Australian reptiles are being threatened by invasive species. This grassland earless dragon has shifted from vulnerable to endangered. It often falls prey to feral cats, as well as changes to the intensity and frequency of bushfires. Like most native Australian wildlife, the reptile is adapted to environmental conditions that existed before European settlement.

Red List: Human activity threatens thousands of species with extinction

Killer pest

This cane toad is far from endangered, but the toxic pest is posing an increasing existential threat to Australia's wildlife. Since being introduced in 1935, the toad has wreaked havoc on the country's native species. Mitchell's water monitor is among the Australian reptiles to make it on to the IUCN Red List as critically endangered as a result, having been unable to adapt to the toad's toxins.

Red List: Human activity threatens thousands of species with extinction

A precious species

Taking its name from The Lord of the Rings character Smeagol — aka Gollum — the precious stream toad is now listed as vulnerable, largely as a result of expanding tourist resorts and complexes in its Genting Highlands habitat in Malaysia.

Red List: Human activity threatens thousands of species with extinction

A lucky rediscovery

But there is some good news for amphibians — four species previously considered to be critically endangered, possibly extinct or extinct were rediscovered in Columbia and Ecuador. The Carchi Andes toad was so severely impacted by habitat loss as a result of logging, agriculture and the spraying of herbicide that it was feared to have disappeared forever.

Red List: Human activity threatens thousands of species with extinction

Junk food parrots

The population of keas, New Zealand’s Bird of the Year 2017, is declining rapidly, mostly due to tourists who keep feeding the curious parrots junk food. As a result, the birds get used to trying novel food and end up eating poison baits meant to control pests such as rats, stoats, or possums, which destroy up to 60 percent of the birds' nests each year. You can see the connection, can't you?

Red List: Human activity threatens thousands of species with extinction

No sand eel, no kittiwake

Black-legged kittiwakes rely on certain key prey, like sand eels. Lacking the food, breeding colonies in the North Atlantic and Pacific are struggling to feed their chicks. Globally, the species is thought to have declined by around 40 percent since the 1970s. The main cause is overfishing and alterations in the ocean due to climate change.

Red List: Human activity threatens thousands of species with extinction

Fewer snowy owls than assumed

The snowy owl has shot up to vulnerable status, with recent population estimates much lower than previously thought. Climate change has hit the iconic Arctic bird hard, increasing snowmelt and reducing the availability of rodent prey. A quarter of bird species reassessed in the Red List, including the snowy owl, have become more endangered.

Red List: Human activity threatens thousands of species with extinction

Reebok namesake in danger

Five species of African antelopes — of which four were previously assessed as least concern — are declining drastically as a result of poaching, habitat degradation and competition with domestic livestock. One of these is the grey rhebok, which the Reebok sports brand is named after.

Red List: Human activity threatens thousands of species with extinction

World's largest antelope in trouble

The world's largest antelope, the giant eland — previously assessed as least concern — is now vulnerable. Its estimated global population is between 12,000 and 14,000 at most, with fewer than 10,000 mature animals. This species is declining due to poaching for bushmeat, encroachment into protected areas and expansion of agriculture and livestock grazing.

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Nature and Environment | 12.07.2018

Turning fruit waste into sustainable art

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Living Planet podcast | 12.07.2018

Strokes of genius

The Everglades - Marshland biodiversity

Green heron

The little green heron stands motionless on the shore. He survives on small fish, frogs or crabs, but wouldn't say no to insects either. He is known for using bait, placed on the water's surface, to attract fish. If he wants to make himself heard, he lets out a loud 'kyow.'

The Everglades - Marshland biodiversity

Passion butterfly

If red is the color of passion, then it definitely works for these bright winged-creatures. Perhaps not so for their former incarnations - caterpillars with a black, spiny appearance. The butterflies are 60-to-75 millimeter and particularly picky with their food - they only seek out the nectar of passion flowers. At night you will find them in large groups on the plant's lower leaves.

The Everglades - Marshland biodiversity

American white ibis

This animal can be mostly seen striding through the Everglades - a white body topping bright, red legs. His bare facial skin is also red, as is his beak, although with a dark tip. White ibises seek the company of other waterbird species to breed together in large colonies on bushes and trees.

The Everglades - Marshland biodiversity

Florida panther

If you see one, you might have been either very patient, or very lucky. Back in the 1970s, the Florida Panther was considered extinct. But coincidentally, a small group of survivors was found. Today, no more than 100 of the species are thought to be living in the wild. By the way, the name "panther" is actually wrong, the big cat is a puma.

The Everglades - Marshland biodiversity

American alligator

They can grow up to a frightening length of six meters, but only in exceptional cases. Usually, American alligators are shorter. They all have a broad, flat and bluntly rounded muzzle and are dark, almost black in color. When hungry, they even feed on smaller fellow species, humans are usually left alone.

The Everglades - Marshland biodiversity

Purple gallinule

An adult purple gallinule is a shiny, iridescent beauty with a purple-blue plumage that will shine green and turquoise when the light is right. The bird's legs, also green in color, end in long toes which grant them the power to walk on water. Well, the leaves of water lilies, to be precise.

The Everglades - Marshland biodiversity


The beak of the darter is about twice as long as it's head. When the dark-feathered fish-eater swims, often only the long neck and head stick out of the water. Although they are not dumb, they rarely express themselves. At most, they can be heard clicking with their beaks.

The Everglades - Marshland biodiversity

American flamingo

The American flamingo is a loyal animal. The bird breeds in colonies, widely visible through their uniform and rich pink-colored plumage. Both fathers and mothers take care of the hatchling. Even though the birds are at home in the Caribbean, sometimes they even breed in Germany.

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Nature and Environment | 13.07.2018

Central Africa's fruit bat migration

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