10 Caribbean species saved from extinction
Humans arrived in the Caribbean islands about 4000 years ago, countless Caribbean species have been driven towards extinction. However in the last 500 years that significant environmental degradation has occurred on the Caribbean islands which is a rich hotspot of biodiversity home to countless endemic species that are not found anywhere else in the world. Centuries of human exploitation of these regions natural resource and wildlife had a negative impact on the fragile diverse ecosystems and biodiversity, but now with the help of environmental awareness regional governments, citizens and conservation groups are working together to save the endangered wildlife from the brink of extinction. Following are the 10 species clearly indicate that pragmatic conservation action and attention directed towards species and their habitat can ultimately prevent the extinction.
Following are the 10 species saved from the brink
Found only on the island of Cuba, the Cuban crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer, EN) is threatened due to hunting and habitat encroachment by humans and competition with caimans (Caiman crocodilus), a crocodilian species from Central and South America that was introduced to the island. Scientists estimate that just 3,000 of these crocs remain in the wild. Direct conservation measures, including captive breeding programmes, reintroductions and protected areas by the Cuban government and conservation groups have saved the species from extinction.
Grand Cayman Blue Iguana (Cyclura lewisi) has been brought back from the brink of extinction with the help of conservation action, plus natural reproduction in protected areas, the population of this species declined to extremely low levels due to threats such as introduced species and habitat conversion – by 2000, the wild population was believed to number less than 25 adults. Due to captive breeding and head-starting, the wild population of Grand Cayman Blue Iguanas is increasing and is currently estimated at 443 wild adults. With ongoing conservation work, experts anticipate that the wild population will rise to 1,000 iguanas. The exemplary conservation effort that saved this incredible species from the edge of extinction has resulted in reassessing the as Endangered from the previous precarious state of Critically Endangered.
La Hotte glanded frog is a critically endangered species that is restricted to the Massif de la Hotte, Haiti.
Due to severe degradation of the species’ habitat it was thought to be extinct since it was last seen in 1991 but in 2011 there came a good news by scientists searching for long-lost frogs in Haiti’s forests came face to face with the critically endangered La Hotte glanded frog, which sees the world through unusual, sapphire-colored eyes.
Despite the bad news that is heard all the time from the poorest nation in the western hemisphere in discovery of half a dozen newly rediscovered Haitian frog species, which had not been seen for nearly two decades and occur nowhere else in the world has given renewed hope to save the islands endemic species and its precious forest from destruction. Many Americans zoo’s have now launched captive breeding programmes to save the species from extinction.
Hispaniolan solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus) is roughly the same size as a large brown rat that resembling an overgrown shrew but this venomous mammal is a living fossil that has unchanged for 76 million years. Hispaniolan solenodon is an endangered species that was identified as one of the top ten “focal species” by conservationist who are researching to save this species from extinction by implementing conservation measures such as habitat protection, education campaigns, control of exotic mammals, and an ex situ breeding programmes. Last Survivors Project is a collaboration of many conservation groups with the main purpose is to ensure long term survival of this unique animal in the wild.
Montserrat oriole (Icterus oberi) is a small perching bird that lives only on the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean, where it faces an extremely high risk of extinction in the very near future. Current estimated population is between 200 and 800. Deforestation by humans already threatened the oriole but the volcanic eruptions wiped out the wild population and only 200 individuals survived in the wild prompting the conservationist to take action and rescue mission was launched to capture the birds for the captive breeding programme. Since then orioles taken into captivity serve as a vital safety net to the wild population from any possible risk of eruption, disease or invasive species.
6- Puerto Rican Toad
Puerto Puerto Rican Toad (Bufo lemur) is a criticlly endangered toad species found only in Puerto Rico. Greatest threats affecting the Puerto Rican crested toad are human-related and include habitat loss and the introduction of the invasive giant toad (Anaxyrus marinus). The wild population number between 1,000-3,000 adult toads due to reintroduction projects, habitat protection schemes and island wide education programmes have saved this species from near extinction and helped in long-term recovery efforts for the crested toad.
Great Hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran) is a large, widely distributed, tropical hammerhead shark that is endangered due to shark finning and bottom trawling but there is still hope for Great Hammerhead and 40 different sharks that were recently protected in 2011 by the government of Bahamas which banned shark finning and export of shark also declared approximately 630,000 square kilometers of its waters as shark sanctury saving many endangered sharks from extinction and also protecting it’s waters as sanctuary which are already famous for being shark paradise for tourists to enjoy.
An a small Caribbean nation, It is thought to be the rarest snake in the world then dubbed the “world’s rarest snake” in 1995, when only 50 individuals remained. Antiguan racers used to be the top predators throughout Antigua until Asian mongooses were released by British plantation owners in the 1890s, which wiped out most of the snakes. However, in the last 15 years, conservation efforts have boosted numbers from an estimated 50 to some 500 snakes. Antiguan racers have become an unusual flagship species for conservation in Antigua and Barbuda, and feature prominently in the national schools’ environmental education curriculum. Many Antiguans have become rightly proud of their unique snake and their islands.
Saint Vincent Amazon (Amazona guildingii) is endemic to the heavily forested mountains of the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent, where it declined seriously through the 20th century reaching an all-time low of just 370 to 470 birds in the early 1980s . Fortunately, following exemplary conservation efforts, the population has steadily increased, with an estimated population of 800 individuals in 2005. Habitat conservation, law enforcement and public awareness campaigns have halted this species slide towards extinction, and even reversed some of the previous declines. Conservationist and people of saint Vincent saved this parrot by protecting it’s habitat through the establishment of the St Vincent Parrot Reserve; delivery of successful public education campaigns and maintaining a vital captive breeding and conservation program to conserve the St Vincent Parrot on this tiny Caribbean island.
Many Species featured in “natureology101″ blog’s “Species of the Day” from previous week are endangered species found within the Caribbean biodiversity hotspot.
1- #Natureology Species of the Day – Cuban Solenodon (Solenodon cubanus)
2- #Natureology Species of the Day – Puerto Rican Amazon (Amazona vittata)
3- #Natureology Species of the Day – Saint Lucia Racer (Liophis ornatus)
4- #Natureology Species of the Day – Mountain Chicken (Leptodactylus fallax)
5- #Natureology Species of the Day – Nassau Grouper (Epinephelus striatus)
6- #Natureology Species of the Day – Homerus swallowtail (Papilio homerus)
7- #Natureology Species of the Day – Montserrat orchid (Epidendrum montserratense)