Top Ten Stories of 2006: #3 – Species Recovery

Top Ten Stories of 2006: #3 – Species Recovery

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Environmentalists Heartened by Stunning Finds of Species, Coral, and Recovery of Many Endangered

• Numerous hopeful stories in 2006 showed that endangered species are coming back from the brink. From loggerhead turtles along the US coast to burrowing owls in Manitoba, from goldfinches in the UK to whooping crane chicks hatching in the wild for the first time in over 100 years in Wisconsin.

coral-reef-florida.jpg • Called the Earth’s richest seascape, scientists have discovered hugely diverse fish and coral populations thriving off Indonesia’s Papua coastlines including more than 50 species of fish, coral and mantis shrimp previously unknown to science, like the “walking” shark that travels on its fins. It included 600 species of reef-building coral alone.

• Researchers studying coral reefs in the Arabian Gulf have found encouraging signs that corals are regenerating and the entire range may be re-established within a decade. At least 18 out of an original 36 species of coral found in the region have recovered from damage suffered due to past climatic events.

• A new study says the world’s forests appear to be making a comeback, with countries like China and the US more thickly wooded than they were over 100 years ago. Larger trees have grown in number within 22 of the 50 most forested countries.


• Four Javan rhinos born in August in Indonesia constituted a surprising baby boom for a species that may be reduced to fewer than 60 individuals worldwide. These are the first known births for the Javan rhinos in three years.

• Thanks to years of restoration efforts led by the Texas Bighorn Society there are close to 1,000 of the agile desert sheep occupying their ancient home in the dry West Texas mountains, after almost being wiped out last century.

Black rhino numbers are up 20 percent in Kenya, after years of decline from poaching and habitat loss, a healthy increase that surpassed even conservationists targets.

• After nearly four decades on the endangered species list, bald eagles are soaring once again, their population climbing from a dismal count of just 417 nesting pairs in the continental United States in 1963 to more than 7,000 today. It was decided in February the eagles of the US no longer needed protection under the Endangered Species Act.

• To protect species in the future, the Bush Administration, in a historic move, encircled Hawaii with the world’s largest marine preserve, home to 7000 marine species, at least a quarter of which are found nowhere else. The huge sanctuary is larger than all US National Parks combined, stretching the distance from Chicago to Florida.