Paddlefish and Vultures: Species Lost and Found

bearded vulture bird photo

The bearded vulture is rare in India. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

The recent news that one of the planet's largest freshwater fish is close to going extinct was, sadly, hardly a rare occurrence in a world where habitat infringement and pollution, among other factors, are rapidly diminishing ecological variety. But even dwindling species can, fortunately, surprise us with appearances in unexpected places.According to the BBC, some 200 bearded vultures--a species rare in India--have been spotted in a remote section of the country's trans-Himalayan border with China, the largest such reported sighting of the birds.

Four of Five Indian Vultures Endangered
India is estimated to have only a few hundred vultures left, and four of the five major species found there are considered "critically endangered," in part due to the use of the anti-inflammatory diclofenac on cattle. The scavenging birds are exposed to the drug when they feed on cow carcasses.

"We are especially pleased to hear of such a large colony when in recent years the vulture population of India has been disappearing so rapidly," state chief conservator of forests Vinay Tandon told the British broadcaster.

Chinese Paddlefish Nearing Extinction
There's been no such cheering news, however, for scientists searching for signs of the Chinese paddlefish. In a separate article, the BBC reports that a three-year effort to find the giant fish in the Yangtze River "failed to sight or catch a single individual." Environmentalists fear that it will go (or has already gone) the way of the Yangtze river dolphin, a once-common species that was recently declared extinct. The paddlefish has not been sighted in the Yangtze since Jan. 24, 2003.

More on endangered species:
Know Your Endangered Species? (Quiz)
6 Ways to See Endangered Species Without Endangering Them More
Yellowstone Grizzlies Back on Endangered Species List
Record Numbers of Bird Species Threatened with Extinction in IUCN Red List Update
10 Animals That Will Be Extinct Within Your Lifetime (Slideshow)
Cheetahs on the Brink of Extinction, UN Report Finds
Ubercool "Mexican walking fish" Nearing Extinction
Flawed Methods Seriously Underestimate Projected Extinction Rates ... A Hundred-Fold

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