Wildlife & Biodiversity

Global Eco Watch: Major ecological happenings of the week (May 20-26)

Down To Earth brings you the top happenings in the world of global ecology

By DTE Staff
Published: Sunday 26 May 2019

A pair of wolf-dog hybrids. Photo: Creative CommonsWolf-dog hybrids could sweep Europe, warns study

A new study has warned that Europe’s last few, free-ranging wild wolf populations could be bred out of existence by domestic free-ranging dogs, creating “swarms” of wolf-dog hybrids that would sweep over the continent. According to a media report, habitat destruction and human penetration into wolves’ territories was bringing them into greater contact with domestic free-roaming dogs, in turn leading to cross-breeding. The researchers agreed that people should be educated about the impact of free-roaming dogs, and that governments should remove wolf-dog hybrids from small and recovering wild wolf populations. However, they were divided on how such dogs and wolf-dogs should be removed.

Porcupines the cause of many historical lion attacks on humans in Africa

A new study has speculated that a number of lion attacks on humans in Africa may have been prompted by porcupines injuring the big cats. The researchers scanned scientific and historical literature and found that out of 50 lions in history that had been injured by porcupines, five had gone on to attack people or livestock. Lions do not often attack porcupines; they do so only when food is scarce or when they are young and inexperienced hunters. While more study is required, the researchers feel that if what they have hypothesised is actually true, then lions injured by porcupines should be treated immediately as it would not only help them but also people.

Tiger numbers increase in the Bangladeshi Sundarbans

The population of Bengal tigers in the Bangladeshi half of the Sundarbans has increased for the first time in 15 years, according to the Bangladeshi newspaper, The Dhaka Tribune. According to the most recent census done in the area, there are 114 tigers. The government says this is a major conservation success since in 2015, only 106 tigers remained in the Bangladeshi Sundarbans — down from 440 in 2004. The government has cited the success to a number of measures it has taken since 2015 to reduce poaching and piracy in the area. These include doubling the size of the protected area and deploying a security force.

Six species listed as facing extinction in Russia

Six mammal, bird and fish species are facing the spectre of extinction in Russia according to a recent press release brought about by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Russia on May 23, 2019. These include the Saiga antelope, the gyrfalcon, the Persian leopard, the spoon-billed sandpiper, the Sakhalin sturgeon and the kaluga, also a type of sturgeon. Meanwhile, the populations of some other species that were on the verge of extinction in the last century has increased due to conservation efforts, the press statement read. These include the Amur tiger, the population of which has grown to 580 from 50 in the 1940s. The population of the world’s rarest cat, the Amur leopard, has grown to 110 compared to 30-40 recorded in the 1990s.

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