Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chinese "Dragon" Nears Extinction, Biologists Warn

Date:
February 11, 2000
Source:
Wildlife Conservation Society
Summary:
As Chinese communities throughout the world celebrate the Year of the Dragon, China’s true dragon — the Chinese alligator — teeters on the brink of extinction, with fewer than 150 remaining in the wild, according to a report released today by the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Yet biologists believe that the species can stage a comeback if given the opportunity.

As Chinese communities throughout the world celebrate the Year of the Dragon, China’s true dragon — the Chinese alligator — teeters on the brink of extinction, with fewer than 150 remaining in the wild, according to a report released today by the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Yet biologists believe that the species can stage a comeback if given the opportunity.

Related Articles


Known locally as Tu Long, or “muddy dragon,” the remaining populations of these timid reptiles are relegated to just a few village ponds in heavily populated southeastern Anhui Province, the report says. Although the alligators technically live in a wildlife reserve, very little has been done to safeguard their habitat. Hunting and the use of agricultural pesticides have also contributed to their decline.

“Presently, the Chinese alligator is critically endangered and, if present trends continue, it will become the first species of crocodilian to become extinct in the wild within historical times,” said Dr. John Thorbjarnarson, a WCS conservation biologist and an authority on the world’s 23 crocodilian species. “Losing the Chinese alligator would be an ironic fate for an animal with such a rich, cultural significance in China.”

Celebrated every 12 years, the Year of the Dragon is considered to be particularly prosperous since dragons symbolize authority, courage and good fortune among Asians. The year 2000 is even more auspicious because it is also a "golden dragon" year, which occurs once every 60 years.

Though the mission is daunting, Thorbjarnarson believes that populations of wild Chinese alligators can be restored if enough suitable habitat is set aside for the species. One plan that the report discusses involves bolstering existing populations through habitat improvements, while breeding alligators in captivity and reintroducing them into suitable areas. Some 5,000 Chinese alligators currently exist in captivity in China.

“Most crocodilians are hard-wired to repopulate rather quickly if given the chance,” said Thorbjarnarson, noting successful restorations in India, Nepal, and Venezuela. “The key is to protect their habitat. In terms of captive breeding, the Chinese have taken the conservation of the alligator very seriously, but habitat protection has not really been addressed.”

The report recommends an inventory of all suitable habitats within Anhui Province where Chinese alligators and other species could be re-established as part of an overall plan for wetlands conservation. There are several other provinces where alligators once occurred that need to looked at as well, said Thorbjarnarson.

One of just two alligator species in the world, Chinese alligators are believed to have diverged from their American counterparts at least 20 million years ago. They reach lengths of about six feet — only half the size of American alligators — and feed on small fish, snails, crayfish. Among crocodilians, the Chinese alligator is the most endangered, followed by the Philippine, Siamese, Cuban and Orinoco crocodiles. WCS is currently working to protect all five species in the wild.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wildlife Conservation Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wildlife Conservation Society. "Chinese "Dragon" Nears Extinction, Biologists Warn." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 February 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/02/000211083646.htm>.
Wildlife Conservation Society. (2000, February 11). Chinese "Dragon" Nears Extinction, Biologists Warn. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/02/000211083646.htm
Wildlife Conservation Society. "Chinese "Dragon" Nears Extinction, Biologists Warn." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/02/000211083646.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Galapagos Tortoises Bounce Back, But Ecosystem Lags

Galapagos Tortoises Bounce Back, But Ecosystem Lags

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) The Galapagos tortoise has made a stupendous recovery from the brink of extinction to a population of more than 1,000. But it still faces threats. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Surrounded by health care workers in the White House East Room, President Barack Obama said the U.S. will likely see additional Ebola cases in the weeks ahead. But he said the nation can't seal itself off in the fight against the disease. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Oatmeal Healthy Recipes and Benefits

Oatmeal Healthy Recipes and Benefits

Buzz60 (Oct. 29, 2014) Oatmeal is a fantastic way to start your day. Whichever way you prepare them, oats provide your body with many health benefits. In celebration of National Oatmeal Day, Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has a few recipe ideas, and tips on how to kickstart your day with this wholesome snack! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
GoPro Video Gives a Lion's-Eye View of The Hunt

GoPro Video Gives a Lion's-Eye View of The Hunt

Buzz60 (Oct. 29, 2014) If you’ve ever wondered what getting takeout looks like for lions in Africa, the GoPro video from Lion Whisperer Kevin Richardson will give you a lion’s-eye view of the hunt. Jen Markham has more. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins