February 2012

Snow Leopards Bounding Back on Population Lists

These Elusive Cats are Gaining Ground

Not too many years ago, not much was known about snow leopards. That was mainly due to their location and their solitary habits. Sightings were rare due to the dangerous heights and mountainous regions of their native Tibetan habitat. With recent sightings in Afghanistan, population estimates range up to 7,500, although these are guesses that include a widespread area of Central Asia. That’s not much considering those numbers appear to be going down.

Rhinos Remain at Risk

But Conservation Efforts Helping White Rhinos

Rhinos in the wild have been under the population gun for several decades. Prized for their horns, most species remain in decline, some are on the verge of extinction, and others no longer exist. There’s good news, however for the Southern White Rhino. Numbers continue to increase and estimates place their numbers at about 20,000

Five rhino species exist today; three (Sumatran, Javan, Indian) are found in Asia and the remaining two (black, white) are native to Africa. Within each of these groups, subspecies exist and it is those that are facing dire risks of disappearing completely. While zoos work to increase captive populations, it is the wild groups, living in reserves that stand the best chance to thrive in large numbers.

Snowy Owls Venturing South

Beautiful Birds are Getting Themselves in Trouble

Snowy owls are taking some time off from the Arctic this winter. While some migration is typical, this 2011-2012 season they’re heading even further south. A few more hundred miles and they’ll hit sunny beaches. One did, in fact, make it to Hawaii, but it made a wrong turn at the airport and was shot.

Wherever they’re sighted (with the exception of Hawaii’s airport, apparently), they’re drawing the attention of bird watchers and the general public. They’re really causing a stir in Kansas and Missouri, as these beautiful white birds might typically forage across northern states, but have been seen soaring over the middle-of-the-U.S. regions.