Trappers Push Endangered ‘Asian Unicorn’ To Near Extinction

The saola, also known as the “Asian unicorn,” is likely fast disappearing, conservationists warned in an announcement today, and they say there could be only 200, or even as few as just several dozen of the animals left on the planet.

The saola is a small, horned animal that resembles a strange antelope hybrid, but is more closely related to a type of wild cow. Vietnamese scientists first identified the new species only through the bizarre, horned skulls that villagers living near the animal’s range had collected.

Stark markings on the face, long, graceful horns and a tufted tail lend to the animal’s mystique. But according to Barney Long, an Asian species expert for the conservation organization WWF, the creature got its mythical moniker more for its habits than its looks.

“It’s so rare to see that it would almost be like seeing a unicorn,” Long told OurAmazingPlanet in 2011, when a protected area for saola was created in Vietnam.

These secretive ungulates wander the steamy green forests of South Asia’s Annamite Mountains, where poaching is rampant. Although saola themselves are not prized in the wildlife trade or for their meat, many of their neighbors are. And although the rare creatures are caught and killed by snares, scientists have never observed them in the wild. The rare saola that has been captured alive has quickly died.

Conservationists said it’s encouraging that saola are not a direct target for poachers, and offered hope that the critically endangered animals can be saved.

Are environmental groups doing enough to prevent the extinction of the “Asian unicorn”? Tell us what you think!

Source: Yahoo News

Image: Animal SOS!

Global Biodiversity Decreased By 30 Percent In 40 Years

The world’s biodiversity is down 30 percent since the 1970s, according to a new report, with tropical species taking the biggest hit. And if humanity continues as it has been, the picture could get bleaker.

Humanity is outstripping the Earth’s resources by 50 percent — essentially using the resources of one and a half Earths every year, according to the 2012 Living Planet Report, produced by conservation agency the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Humanity is essentially in debt to Mother Earth, conservationists find. As of 2008, the most recent year for which data is available, humans were outstripping Earth’s biocapacity by 50 percent. Biocapacity is the amount of renewable resources, land, and waste absorption (such as sinks for carbon dioxide) the Earth can provide. In other words, it takes the planet 1.5 years to restore what humanity burns through in a year.

All of this resource use is taking a toll. The Living Planet report also tracks biodiversity and species populations across the globe. This year’s report details a startling loss of biodiversity around the globe: A loss of 30 percent of biodiversity on average, meaning a major decline in the number of different species of plants, animals and other organisms.

Many of the group’s proposed solutions to humanity’s out-of-control resource use center around Rio+20, the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development set for June 20, 2012. The meeting is designed to help create pathways for sustainable development in the future, said Kate Newman, WWF’s managing director of public sector initiatives.

“As we’re approaching a planet with 9 billion people on it, we need to find a global solution,” Loucks said. “The challenge for us is this is a long-term problem. This is the Earth for millennia. We need to move beyond the election cycle, beyond the quarterly report cycle.”

Are governments doing enough to address the issue of declining biodiversity? Tell us what you think!

Source: Yahoo News

Image: CSEC