AsianScientist (Sep. 6, 2012) – Will the tiger go the way of the passenger pigeon which went extinct in the early 20th century, or be saved from extinction like the American bison?
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) yesterday released a list of Asian species that are at conservation crossroads, calling for governments to take immediate action with The Three R’s Approach: Recognition, Responsibility, Recovery.
The list includes tigers, orangutans, Mekong giant catfish, Asian rhinos, Asian giant river turtles, and Asian vultures. The announcement was made at the IUCN’s World Conservation Congress convening in Jeju, South Korea through Sept. 13.
Though each Asian species on the list faces daunting challenges from a variety of factors including habitat loss, and illegal hunting and trade, Asian governments have the ability – and financial means – to turn the tide on extinction, says the WCS.
Project Tiger is a good example of how governmental action has saved a major Asian species from extinction, according to WCS. India took responsibility for the tiger when it announced Project Tiger in 1972, which led to the species undertaking a sustained recovery. Today, while problems and challenges remain, India remains committed to ensuring that tigers are conserved effectively within its boundaries.
Similarly, in the Western Forest Complex in Thailand, the Thai Government is taking responsibility for protecting its tigers by taking bold steps to overcome the poaching pressures.
Other species such as the orangutan face a bleaker future with widespread conversion of its habitat into palm oil plantations that have decimated wild populations, says the WCS.
Asian rhinos and giant river turtles face relentless poaching pressure for the illegal wildlife trade, while Asian vultures have been nearly wiped out due to poisoning. Mekong giant catfish numbers have plummeted due to overfishing.
Time is running out for Asia’s wildlife, warns the WCS, noting that two large mammal species – the kouprey, a type of wild cattle once found in Southeast Asia, and a Chinese freshwater dolphin species called a baiji – have gone extinct.
Source: Wildlife Conservation Society; Photo: Philadelphia Zoo.
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