This paper presents a synopsis of the current status and distribution of the African wild dog Lycaon pictus, outlines reasons for its decline and discusses recommendations to halt or reverse this decline. A recent review of the status of the species provides evidence that it has disappeared or is in decline throughout its range (sub-Saharan Africa). Relict populations with little or no chance of long-term survival are found in several countries including Algeria and Senegal. Countries believed to contain potentially viable populations are, from north to south, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa (only the Kruger National Park).
Humboldt's woolly monkeys Lagothrix lagotricha have been systematically hunted, mostly for food, to the point of becoming locally extinct wherever humans share their habitat. Remaining populations in the extensive lowland Amazonian range of this species are restricted to remote, unflooded terra firme forests. These populations are, however, quickly wiped out once access is opened by new roads. Terra firme forests, even in entirely undisturbed sites, are seasonally far less productive and can only sustain relatively low population densities. Woolly monkeys are currently more susceptible to hunting than perhaps any other vertebrate in the New World tropics and, as such, should be regarded as highly endangered.
Large frugivorous forest birds are among the most endangered avian groups in the Neotropics. Despite this fact, there has been little field work on members of these groups or on other large Neotropical forest birds. While current studies of Neotropical forests are beginning to provide data for reserve management at the ecosystem level, we lack information for management of particular species or habitats. Throughout Latin America, large forest frugivores are economically important as food, as pets or in local crafts. They can also be important seed dispersers and can be used as indicator species of habitat disturbance in protected areas. The conservation status of these birds demands more attention and commitment from conservation organizations and the scientific community in general. Further field research should focus on the basic ecology and natural history of endangered and non-endangered species. These studies will aid in developing badly needed long-term management and monitoring plans both for populations of large forest frugivores and their habitats.
The Lesser Antilles are home to four species of snakes of the genus Alsophis, otherwise known as racers. All four have undergone severe range reductions; at least two subspecies are extinct and another, A. antiguae, now occupies only 0.1 per cent of its historical range. The authors investigated the current distribution of the snakes by field surveys and interviews with the people of the islands.
Belize is a small country but it offers a safe haven for the largest number of manatees in the Caribbean. The authors' survey in 1989 revealed that there has been no apparent decline since the last study in 1977. However, there is no evidence for population growth either and as the Belize economy develops threats from fisheries, human pressure and declining habitat quality will increase. Recommendations are made to ensure that Belize safeguards its manatee populations.
The Chacoan peccary Catagonus wagneri is endemic to the dry thorn forest of the Gran Chaco of Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia. Since its discovery by scientists in the 1970s its population has declined due to overhunting, habitat destruction, and possibly disease. As of 1989 about 5000 individuals are estimated to survive in the Paraguayan Chaco. Small dispersed populations still exist in Argentina and Bolivia, but more information is needed on the status of this species in those two countries. In Paraguay, Chacoan peccaries have almost disappeared from the two national parks within their range and the only significant population exists in an area where there are no reserves. The survival of this species depends on enforcing regulations against hunting both within and outside the national parks, translocating animals to the parks, establishing a system of reserves on private land in critical areas, training of Paraguayan wildlife professionals, and environmental education.
The golden-backed uacari Cacajao melanocephalus ouakary is one of South America's least-known monkeys. Listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, it lives in remote areas of north-western Amazonia, as yet relatively unaffected by ecologically disruptive economic and technological activities. It inhabits swamp forests on black-water rivers during the main fruiting season and may move to dry land forests at other times of the year. The authors' survey showed that the animal was still common in the vicinity of subsistence communities, but is subject to heavy hunting pressure. Although the political situation in the area and the region's remoteness make it difficult to implement conservation plans, the authors propose a possible basis for a conservation plan for the golden-backed uacari and its habitat.
Cuba is home for 10 endemic species of hutia. Three of these have become scarce, or extinct, in some parts of their historical range, but remain sufficiently abundant elsewhere to make their conservation of no immediate concern. Of the other seven species, one is believed to be extinct and the rest are in grave danger. The pressures they face include capture by man, competition with introduced rats and destuction of their habitat. Urgent measures are required if these species are to survive.
During the last 5 years a major conservation programme has been under way in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The author worked for the National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development between 1987 and 1990, and in this article gives a personal view of the achievements of the organization and the problems it faces in trying to implement its policies.
Despite protection of the species under the Berne Convention, and of the site by planning restrictions, Hermann's tortoises have again been killed at Alyki, 10 years after the original catastrophe. The authors describe the situation leading up to the recent habitat destruction, and its effect. There is a final opportunity to save the tortoise population before it is destroyed by holiday developments.
A new species of shrew, Crocidura desperata n. sp. (Mammalia: Soricidae), is described from specimens recently collected in the Rungwe Forest and the Uzungwe Mountains in southern Tanzania. It is a large and long-furred shrew closely resembling Crocidura lanosa from Mt Kahuzi in eastern Zaire. Like other small mammals with a relict distribution, the newly discovered species appears to be highly vulnerable to forest destruction.
The oriental driftnet fleet, which is responsible for the large-scale mortality of non-target species in the Pacific Ocean, has extended its range to include the South Atlantic Ocean. Relatively little is known about the areas of operation and impacts of driftnetting in the South Atlantic as yet, but it is emerging that driftnetting is equally devastating to the fauna of this ocean. This paper reviews the impact of the driftnet fishery on non-target species in the central South Atlantic Ocean. Several lines of evidence suggest that fishing effort is focused on Tristan da Cunha, apparently resulting in considerable mortality of rockhopper penguins Eudyptes chrysocome and other marine organisms. Britain should take steps to curb this destructive fishing technique in Tristan waters.
The Philippine spotted deer Cervus alfredi, endemic to the Visayan Islands, is threatened by deforestation and hunting. Already extinct over 95 per cent of its former range, populations survive probably only in Panay and Negros. In 1987 a conservation programme was drawn up with two immediate objectives: to establish a national park in west Panay and to embark on a captive-breeding programme. The authors describe the operation of the project and its progress to date, and discuss plans for its extension.
The buffy-headed marmoset Callithrix flaviceps is among the rarest of Brazil's Atlantic Forest primates and is potentially one of the most endangered by habitat destruction. Rarely seen in captivity, little was known about the species until very recently. Studies carried out during the last 10 years have revealed that these marmosets are not only highly adaptable but are also more widespread than was first thought. There thus seems to be room for cautious optimism for the survival of the species as long as further habitat loss can be minimized.
Every year large numbers of rattlesnakes (Crotalus spp. and Sistrurus spp.) are collected from the wild in several states in North America. Some of these are collected purely for commercial reasons while others are collected for the traditional, although now largely commercial, ‘rattlesnake round-ups’. Together these activities may remove 300,000–500,000 snakes each year. The high level of hunting together with capture procedures that destroy habitat as well as snakes are damaging rattlesnake populations, other species, and habitat quality.
Cuvier's gazelle Gazella cuvieri is endemic to North Africa and has been classified as Endangered by IUCN. Algeria holds most of the remnant population but little is known about its current status and distribution there. The author studied the gazelle between 1984 and 1988 and found that while populations have declined in some areas, at least 560 individuals survive, some in protected areas.
The European seal epidemic killed approximately 60 per cent of harbour or common seals Phoca vitulina in the colonies of the Wadden Sea, Kattegat–Skagerrak and the Norfolk Wash. High mortality was also observed elsewhere. The die-off peaked in 1988 and few affected seals have been reported subsequently. But what of the future? Is the marine environment still able to support healthy seal populations; is there enough suitable habitat for them; is there enough food; what is the impact of pollution on them; and why has no new legislation been implemented to protect them?
Rain forests in Central Kalimantan, Borneo, are under increasing pressure from commercial industry, agricultural projects and transmigration programmes. Our knowledge of the hill forests in central Borneo is virtually non-existent, yet they may disappear before we realize their true value as intact forests. These rapid developments prompted the FFPS to launch the Red Alert Project, which, together with Project Barito Ulu, is investigating ways to promote rain-forest conservation in Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Socotra, a small island in the Indian Ocean, is renowned for its remarkable flora. More than one-third of its 750 plant species are endemic, and seven are included in the IUCN Plant Red Data Book. Among these is Dirachma socotrana, which is something of a botanical curiosity. It was described in 1881 but confusion over its vernacular name led to the belief that it was widespread on the island. In 1989 the authors failed to find it in many of the sites where local people said it grew and on a second visit in 1990 the puzzle was resolved with the help of a linguist. In fact the species is apparently confined to one mountain pass. Although it is not immediately threatened it is, like many of the other plants on the island, at risk because of development plans.
The population of endemic fruit bats on Pemba Island, which lies off the coast of Tanzania, appears to have undergone a drastic decline. The author made a short survey in 1989 in some of the areas where the fruit bat was reported to have been numerous, but found that few now exist in these places. The change from traditional hunting methods to the use of shotguns as well as destruction of the island's rain forest are believed to be the principal causes. The author makes a plea for a ban on hunting, a public education campaign, protection of the surviving remnants of forest and a captive-breeding effort as a safeguard against extinction.