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Monday, September 19, 2011

Endangered Species of Australian Dolphin Discovered

It had always been assumed that the dolphins located near Melbourne, Australia were nothing more than a common type of bottlenose dolphin. While it is true that they are bottlenose dolphins, and very closely related to their more common cousins, the newly differentiated Tursiops australis, or Burrunan dolphin, is in fact its own species. This discovery came after DNA and skull samples were scrutinized by academics at the Monash University in Melbourne. Specialists are anticipating that the new species of dolphin "may immediately qualify under Australia's criteria for endangered animals," as they have so far been found to only live in one very small region of the ocean, numbering approximately 150 animals in all.

Bottlenose dolphins are notoriously intelligent creatures, solving problems and communicating in both captivity and the wild. In addition to brains, they are gifted with excellent eyesight, plus their ability to "see" using echolocation. The newly discovered Burrunan dolphin is smaller than the common bottlenose dolphin, coming it around eight feet long. Conservation efforts for the Burrunan dolphin have not yet been considered, as its existence was only recently realized.
via BBC

Friday, September 16, 2011

Four Arrested in Indonesia for Pangolin Smuggling

In July, Indonesian officials discovered twenty boxes filled with illegal pangolin meat and scales being shipped to China. MSNBC reports, "Eight tons of meat and scales, worth $269,000, were found in the boxes at Jakarta airport and at a warehouse raided the following day."

Pangolin parts are considered very valuable in Chinese culture, where they are believed to be aphrodisiacs and cure-alls. Using smoke or dogs to flush the nocturnal animals out of their dwellings, poachers easily collect pangolins, although they are becoming increasingly rare. These toothless creatures offer almost no defense against their predators, simply curling into a ball when threatened. The pangolin is protected in a variety of Asian countries, but conservationists want to push for greater penalties for those caught hunting and exporting the animals. As ant and termite eaters, pangolin survival would also benefit from a decrease in forest destruction.