Galapagos National Park
Lonesome George - the Last Pinta Island Tortoise
June 25, 2012 -
Lonesome George, the last Pinta Island giant tortoise and celebrated symbol of conservation efforts has died. George passed away in the Galapagos Islands with no known offspring after several attempts at breeding George with other similar tortoise species, according to AFP. Lonesome George's longtime caretaker, Fausto Llerena, found the giant tortoise's remains stretched out in the "direction of his watering hole" on Santa Cruz Island, according to AFP. Estimated to be more than 100 years old, the creature's cause of death remains unclear and a necropsy is planned. Lonesome George was discovered on Pinta Island in 1972 at a time when giant tortoises of his type, Geochelone nigra abingdoni, were already believed to be extinct, according to AFP. The following is a look at other at risk animals in the world.
NEWS: Extinct' Giant Tortoise Found on Remote Island
Animals at Risk Since the Endangered Species Act's passage 33 years ago, 1,800 species have been listed as endangered and nine have become extinct. ARKive, a collection of the world's best wildlife films and photographs, gathered together a list of the most at risk animals. The Tiger has undergone large population declines across Cambodia and the rest of Asia, according to ARKive.
Doc White /naturepl.com
Blue Whale (Endangered) Once hunted nearly to extinction, the blue whale is the largest animal to have ever lived, growing to around 27 meters (88.5 feet) long and weighing up to an astounding 120 tons. It also produces the loudest call of any animal on Earth. Although hunting of the blue whale was banned in 1966, the recovery of this magnificent marine mammal has been exceptionally slow.
Giant Panda (Endangered) The giant panda is universally admired for its appealing markings and seemingly gentle demeanor. A charismatic conservation icon, the giant panda is threatened by habitat loss, with large areas of China’s natural forest being cleared for agriculture, timber and firewood to meet the needs of the large and growing human population.
Tiger (Endangered) The tiger is one of the most emblematic symbols of conservation today, and its distinctively patterned coat and fearsome reputation make this species instantly recognizable. However, the tiger is facing the grave threat of extinction due to illegal poaching and habitat loss.
Sumatran Orangutan (Critically endangered) The name of the Sumatran orangutan means "person of the forest." The biggest threat to the Sumatran orangutan is the loss of its forest habitat, with around 80 percent of the forest on Sumatra vanishing in recent years due to illegal logging, gold mining and conversion to permanent agriculture, in particular, palm oil plantations.
Black Rhinoceros (Critically endangered) Contrary to its name, the black rhinoceros is actually grey in color. It was hunted almost to the brink of extinction for its impressive horn, which can grow up to 60 cm (23.6 inches), largely due to the demand for horn in Chinese traditional medicine and for traditional dagger handles in Yemen.
Philippine Eagle (Critically endangered) The striking Philippine eagle is the world's largest eagle and also one of the world’s most threatened raptors. The destruction of its habitat is the main cause of its dramatic decline, with vast tracts of tropical forests in the Philippines having been cleared for commercial development and for shifting cultivation.
Kakapo (Critically endangered) As the world’s only flightless parrot, the kakapo is a truly unique bird which is threatened by introduced species in its native home of New Zealand. Conservationists have taken the drastic measure of removing all surviving kakapo to predator-free islands, so far averting the extinction of this remarkable bird.
Hawksbill Turtle (Critically endangered) The hawksbill turtle possesses a beautiful marbled shell, which has been exploited for thousands of years as the sole source of commercial tortoiseshell. Illegal demand for its shell, and for its eggs, meat and even stuffed juveniles as exotic gifts, have led to the dramatic decline of this species over the last century. A further threat to the hawksbill turtle is global climate change.
Michael D. Kern/naturepl.com
Lemur Leaf Frog (Critically endangered) The lemur leaf frog is specially adapted for a life in the trees with adhesive pads on its toes. Eggs are laid on leaf surfaces and when hatched the larvae are washed off or fall into water below. This nocturnal tree frog was once considered to be a reasonably common species in Costa Rica, but it is threatened by the loss of its forest habitat and most populations in Costa Rica have recently disappeared.
Scalloped Hammerhead (Endangered) Forming impressively large schools, female scalloped hammerheads gather in the Gulf of California during the day, around underwater mountains known as seamounts, where they perform a wide range of behaviors yet to be understood. The scalloped hammerhead is under threat due to fishing pressures and in particular is a victim of shark finning. ANIMAL PLANET: Endangered Species Guide
An 83-year-old Indonesian woman told Thursday how she faced a "fight for survival" when a Komodo dragon pounced and sunk its teeth into her, in the latest attack this year by one of the giant lizards.
Haisah was sitting on the ground outside her house on Rinca island, one of several Komodo-inhabited islands frequently visited by tourists, making a broom from a coconut tree, when the two-metre (6.6-foot) reptile sprang at her.
"All of a sudden, a Komodo bit my right hand," she told AFP from her bed in hospital where she has been receiving treatment since the attack. "I have no idea which direction it came from."
"A knife fell from my right hand as the Komodo sunk its teeth into my wrist. There was nobody else around and I knew that I faced a fight for survival."
But the elderly lady managed to repel the attack: "I kicked the Komodo on one its front legs with all my strength, it was only one kick but it made the Komodo let go of my hand, then I screamed for help."
Haisah, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, spoke to AFP through her son who translated the locally spoken language into Indonesian.
Her wrist was seriously wounded during Tuesday's attack in her small village and she needed a total of 35 stitches at the hospital in the nearby town of Labuan Bajo, said her son.
"I'm doing fine now. I hope my hand will return to normal so that I can make brooms again," she said, adding limited movement had returned to her hand after it was initially paralysed.
In February, one of the reptiles bit a tour guide's leg when he passed its lair while trekking on Rinca island.
Earlier the same month, one attacked two employees of the Komodo National Park, inflicting serious injuries which needed hospital treatment.
Until recently, Komodos were believed to hunt with a "bite and wait" strategy -- using toxic bacteria in their saliva to weaken or kill their prey before descending in numbers to feast.
But recent research found that the dragons' jaws have highly sophisticated poison glands that can cause paralysis, spasms and shock through haemorrhaging.
They are native to several Indonesian islands, where their habitat is protected, and are considered a vulnerable species, with only a few thousand left in the world.
The world's largest monitor lizards, they can grow up to three metres and weigh up to 70 kilograms (154 pounds).