Saving Giraffes From a Silent Extinction

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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Giraffes
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Launched: Lawsuit to Protect Giraffes

Giraffes are undergoing a silent extinction. Their populations are down 40% due to habitat loss, civil unrest, and poaching for the international trade in bone carvings, skins and trophies.

As a top importer of giraffe trophies and products, the United States has an important role to play in preventing the extinction of these magnificent creatures. The Center for Biological Diversity and allies petitioned for Endangered Species Act protection for giraffes in 2017 and followed up with a 2019 lawsuit. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced giraffes may deserve protection under the Act — but then failed to make a decision or take action.

So on Wednesday we and our partners filed a notice of intent to sue the Service to force it to do so.

Protection under the Act would curb U.S. imports of giraffe parts and increase funding for the species' conservation.

We won't stop fighting for these iconic animals. Please consider supporting our work to save giraffes with a donation to our Saving Life on Earth Fund.

Wolverine

Fighting the Federal Refusal to Help Wolverines

The Fish and Wildlife Service has denied Endangered Species Act protection to wolverines — so the Center and allies are planning to sue.

With fewer than 300 of these fierce, snow-loving animals left in the contiguous United States, there' s no justification for withholding safeguards. Listing wolverines as threatened or endangered would trigger new, badly needed efforts to save them.

"It's outrageous that the Fish and Wildlife Service has again shrugged off the science showing that wolverines desperately need federal protection," said the Center's Andrea Zaccardi. "And it's sad that after years of inaction, we have to go to court again to ensure they get the protection they need before it's too late."

Mountain lion

Today: A Discussion on Mountain Lions and Wildlife Corridors

Big cats and other wildlife need space and connectivity to thrive in the long term, and we're hard at work to fight off the sprawl that puts their future at risk. Join us later today for our next Saving Life on Earth webinar, with staff from our Urban Wildlands program, to learn about progress we've made this year to protect California mountain lions — and how you can help.

The hour-long webinar starts at 4 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. ET. You have to register to join, so sign up and then check your email for a link.

If you already signed up for the webinar, you may have received a confirmation email incorrectly stating it starts at 5 p.m. PT. Please note that the webinar starts at 4 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. ET.

A Joshua Tree Apocalypse?

Joshua tree

California's western Joshua trees are threatened by climate change, fire and habitat destruction from development. If humans don't do something, it's likely they'll vanish from Joshua Tree National Park and the rest of their range by century's end.

Find out more in this story featuring Brendan Cummings, the Center's conservation director and a Joshua Tree resident.

Eastern black rail

Rare, Elusive Marsh Bird Wins Protection

After a 10-year campaign by the Center and allies, a secretive wetlands bird called the eastern black rail will be protected by the Endangered Species Act. The victory is bittersweet, because the federal government — which admits the bird is highly likely to go extinct by 2068 without help — declined to protect critical habitat for the species.

"After a decade of being ignored, these shy, fascinating birds are finally getting some much-needed protection," said the Center's Stephanie Kurose. "But federal officials' refusal to designate critical habitat is a big blow to these little creatures. If the rail is going to have any chance of survival, we must protect the coastal wetlands where it lives."

Puerto Rican Butterfly Moves Toward Protection

Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly

One year after a Center lawsuit to protect the Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly — and 11 years after Javier Biaggi-Caballero's petition for the species — the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing it under the Endangered Species Act, plus setting aside 41,266 acres of critical habitat.

"This proposal gives hope that this delicate beauty can be recovered if we just protect the forests where it lives," said the Center's Florida Director Jaclyn Lopez.

'I'iwi

Lawsuit Launched to Save Hawaiian Bird's Home

In defense of one of the world's rarest and most beautiful birds, the Center on Tuesday filed a notice of intent to sue the feds for shirking their duty to save the scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper, or 'i'iwi.

Ignoring the Endangered Species Act's requirements, the Fish and Wildlife Service still hasn't granted this species a recovery plan or critical habitat. The fiery-red bird needs both to survive the diseases, climate change and other threats pushing it toward extinction.

"Time is running out for our 'i'iwi," said the Center's Hawai'i Director Maxx Phillips. "These incredible birds are facing population declines of 70 to 90% over the next 80 years without immediate action."

Healthcare worker

Suit Filed to Make Feds Protect Workers From Covid-19

In solidarity with labor unions representing healthcare workers, teachers, transit operators and millions of other frontline workers, the Center just sued the U.S. government over its failure to provide adequate reusable respirators, N95 masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment to essential workers.

"The federal government is abandoning essential workers and treating them like they're disposable," said Jean Su, director of the Center's Energy Justice program. "These are teachers and nurses and bus drivers who have made sure our country survives during this crisis. We stand with them and will do everything possible to prevent this tragic, preventable loss of life. They're being exploited, not unlike the abuse that corporations and this government inflict on the environment."

An Interview With The Revelator's John Platt

John Platt

As editor of the Center's award-winning online environmental news and opinion platform, John Platt has a unique perspective on the extinction crisis: He's chronicled news and science about more than 1,000 endangered species over the years.

Read an interview with John — about extinction, horror and hope — at The Skylark.

The Revelator: Breeding the 'Snot Otter'

Ozark hellbender

The hellbender is the largest fully aquatic salamander in North America, growing up to 2 feet long. Known by colorful names like "devil dog" and "snot otter," hellbenders have been disappearing from their streams in the eastern United States.

So this summer Missouri biologists released 1,000 captive-bred, endangered Ozark hellbenders into the wild. The Revelator looked behind the scenes of this exciting effort.

Read the article and sign up to receive The Revelator's weekly newsletter.

Child and dog playing

Wild & Weird: Play in the Coevolution of Humans and Dogs

The dog–human bond is unique, formed over tens of thousands of years. Early humans and the wolf ancestors of today's domestic breeds worked together in powerful hunting teams, a relationship that influenced the development of people and dogs alike. And new research suggests that a wild canine's playfulness — think fetch and tug-o-war — may have been a trait highly sought after by humans, leading to more playfulness in many of our best dog friends today.

Get more from National Geographic.

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Photo credits: Giraffes by Brett Hartl/Center for Biological Diversity; wolverine via Pixabay; mountain lion courtesy NPS; Joshua tree courtesy The City Project; eastern black rail by Christy Hand/South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly courtesy USFWS; 'i'iwi courtesy USFWS; healthcare worker by SJ Objio/Unsplash; John Platt by Cybele Knowles/Center for Biological Diversity; Ozark hellbender by Ray Meibaum/Saint Louis Zoo; child and dog playing via Pikrepo.

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