Tue, Mar 22, 2011 - Page 16 News List

Efforts to save other species

By Dinara Saruar  /  The Observer, London

A California condor perches on a cliff at the Pinnacles National Monument in California.

Photo: Bloomberg

California condor

One of the most expensive reintroduction programs of all time, costing some US$35 million, brought North America’s largest land bird back from the brink of extinction. After a century of poaching, lead poisoning and habitat destruction, only 22 wild California condors remained in 1987. At first, captive-bred condors died by flying into power lines but they have since been trained to avoid them. A 2009 survey put the number of these condors living in the wild at 172.

Golden lion tamarin

There were fewer than 200 of these distinctive orange-maned monkeys in the 1970s because of destruction of their habitat, the Atlantic rainforests of Brazil. However, a vigorous reintroduction drive by the Golden Lion Tamarin Conservation Program has restored numbers so that the population in the wild now stands at more than 1,600.

Pygmy hog

The smallest member of the pig family, standing just 20cm to 30cm, this reclusive hog was believed to be extinct until 1971, when four individuals were recovered from a market in the northeast Indian state of Assam. As a result of intensive conservation efforts, their numbers in Assam and neighboring Bhutan are now back in the hundreds.

Arabian Oryx

This elegant antelope had been hunted to extinction in the wild by the early 1970s but thanks to organizations such as the Phoenix Zoo, numbers roaming the Arabian peninsula now stand at around 1,100. Reintroduction was fraught with difficulties, particularly in Oman where poaching reduced the population to 50 by 2008, but a new breeding program in the United Arab Emirates give hope for the species.

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