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
The famous ferocity of wolverines may be no match for climate change. The plight of the animals has led to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposing to protect the animals under the Endangered Species Act, according to a release from the agency.
The prime reason for the proposed listing is the loss of the wolverine's wintry habitat in the northern Rocky Mountains, which has been linked to climate change.
"Extensive climate modeling indicates that the wolverine's snowpack habitat will be greatly reduced and fragmented in the coming years due to climate warming," the release noted. Wolverines live in the high mountains near the tree-line where it is cold all year and snow cover lasts into the month of May, according to the statement.
If the proposed listing goes through, it would put wolverines in a small but growing group of animals -- including polar bears and several types of coral -- threatened due to climate change rather than more traditional reasons like hunting or deforestation, as noted by the New York Times.
There are only about 300 wolverines in the lower 48 states, the Fish and Wildlife Service estimates. The animals were largely wiped out at the beginning of the 20th century due to wide-ranging and aggressive trapping and poisoning policies. Wolverines have been documented fighting and killing animals many times their own size, like bears.
Wolverines, which can range widely over their home turf, are also found in the Canadian Rockies.
The agency is currently seeking advice and commentary from scientists and the public before making a final decision on the wolverine.
This article originally appeared on OurAmazingPlanet.com.
More from OurAmazingPlanet.com:
In Images: 100 Most Threatened Species
Smile! Rocky Mountain Critters Caught on Camera
10 Species You Can Kiss Goodbye