Tag Archive | "crtically endangered"

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Russian Sturgeon

Posted on 09 January 2013 by RE Team

The Scientific Name : Acipenser gueldenstaedtii

Where is it found?

The Russian is currently found the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea. In the Caspian sea region it spawns in the rivers Ural and Volga, where in the Black Sea spawning occurs in the lower Danube and Rioni rivers. Once it was found in abundance in the Azov Sea basins, which is now considered as extinct as no known native spawning population is there in that region. The species prefers shallow water of the coastal sea and deep regions of large rivers where the current is strong.


Russian Sturgeon Range


How does it live?

The Russian Sturgeon feeds on a wide variety of benthic molluscs, crustaceans and small fish. Males attain maturity at around 8 years, while females at around 10 years. The females reproduce every 4-6 years while males 2-3 years. This long reproduction cycle is a major threat for the fish. After maturity they migrate from the sea to the fresh water rivers into several hundred kilometers. It usually happens in the Autumn of in the Spring when the temperature rises above 10 deg C. Juveniles mostly spend their years in the sea till they attain maturity.The maximum age ever recorded of a Russian Sturgeon is 48 years.

How does it look?

Russian Sturgeon is a gigantic fish usually reaches a length of 2 meters and weight more than 100 kg. The juveniles look beautiful with white diamond like scales that become grey with age. They grow very fast, 1 ft/year, for initial few years. Body Of the Russian Sturgeon is spindle-shaped and proportionally wide. Dorsal scutes can range from 8 to 18, lateral scutes 24-50 and ventral scutes 6-13. It differs from other species of the Acipenser genera by its short snout with rounded tip, as well as by its lower lip, which is interrupted at its center. Barbells are not fringed, they are short, curved and situated near the top of the snout.

What are the threats?

The Russian Sturgeons are struggling hard to survive. The spawning grounds for the species have been lost to various large river dams created in the Danube, Don and Volga river. It is estimated that the species has lost more than 70% of its spawning grounds since 1950s. Annual catch for the fish has dropped drastically since 1980s from 90 – 100% i n most of the regions. Fishing, which is now strictly banned, is also one of the major threat to the fish currently. The caviar of the Russian sturgeon is one of the most sought after, and the flesh of the fish is also in demand always making poaching of the fish more frequent. High levels of pollution (from oil and industrial waste), in both the Black and Caspian Sea basins have altered hormonal balance, and increased the number of hermaphroditic fish. In 1990, 55,000 sturgeon were found dead on the shore of the Sea of Azov as the result of pollution.

Conservation Efforts

The fishing of Russian Sturgeon is made illegal many years ago in Russia and Iran both. But the enforcement of the law is not happening. The increasing demand is luring the poachers. General conservation measures for the fish is also weak or never applied. Fish lifts and artificial spawning grounds have been introduced to parts of the Caspian region without much success. The pollution level of the Caspian and Black sea have been decreasing in recent years, but the fish is still not out of danger from genetic deformation.

The Russian Sturgeon Conservation

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Pygmy Hog

Posted on 07 May 2012 by RE Team

Pygmy Hog is the most endangered wild pig species in the world, currently found only in India.

The Scientific Name : Porcula salvania

Where is it found?

Once found in the grass lands of whole southern Himalayan foot hill, Pygmy Hog has faced the wrath of human civilization and has been wiped out from most of it’s habitat. Currently the species is confined to the tall grass upland of Manas National Park in Assam with an estimated population of below 250. This species is very sensitive to any change in habitat and they are not made to adapt any changes in their Eco system. The density of their population if around 19 per square kilometer.

The Last Habitat of Pygmy Hog


How does it live?

The Pygmy Hog is omnivores, diet consisting of wide assortment of tubers, plants, insects, and small mammals. It is generally active during the day light, spending six to eight hours per day foraging by rooting among soil and leaf litter. The family groups often travel in single file, with an adult at both the front and the rear. Throughout the year, it builds sleeping nest by piling dry grasses over dish-like depressions digging a trench into the ground. This is why its habitat is always grasslands. The Pygmy Hog can reach the age of 8 years in the wild, attending maturity at the age of 1-2 years. The reproduction cycle is strictly seasonal giving births before the monsoon during April-May with a gestation period of around 100 days. It is an extremely good swimmer and can run unbelievably fast in the dense grassland.

How does it look?

The Pygmy Hog is the smallest of the pig family, attaining hardly 1 foot(30 cm) in height and two feet in length (60-70 cm). It can weigh upto 8.5 kg. Male is bigger in size than the female. An adult pygmy hog has dark brown to black skin, overlaid by a coat of dark fur. The head has a crest of hair on the top of the head and the back of the neck. Younger hog is marked with vague reddish stripes which fades away with age.

What are the threats?

The political unrest in the Manas national park region has been a threat to the Pygmy Hogs.
Human encroachment, destruction of the grassland for agriculture has been constantly reducing its habitat.
This little poor species has been struggling to fight with the domesticated animals encroached human population.

Conservation Efforts

The conservation of the Pygmy Hog is very critical because it is the last surviving species of its genus. Unfortunately there is very less public awareness and support for this smallest pig in the world. The only conservation program for the Pygmy Hog was started in 1995. Named as the Pygmy Hog Conservation Program (PHCP), it was initiated by scientist Goutam Narayan with the help of the government, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (DWCT) and IUCN Wild Pig Specialist Group chair William Oliver. The PHCP started a captive breeding programme in Basistha, Guwahati, with the goal of reintroducing captive bred hogs back in the wild in 1996. The captive breeding was successful and after 12 years, the project released 16 hogs into the another sanctuary of the same region, Sonai Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary. The program has been able to release around 15 Pygmy Hog into the wild every year, creating a population base of around 50 Pygmy Hogs in the sanctuary. Due to the lack of any public interest and awareness, the program faces challenges for the resources, but the survival of PHCP is very critical for the survival of the little Pygmy Hogs.

A BBC Documentary Clip on Pygmy Hogs

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Photos of Nature