“Dive into the coral reefs of Southeast Asia or Australia and you’ll likely spot a wrasse. But which of the hundreds of kinds of wrasses will you see?
These fish can be an inch to more than eight feet in length. They can be skinny like cigars or hefty like footballs. Some are somber-colored; others look like they’re attending a rave. Different species have their own creative feeding strategies: humphead wrasses crush shellfish; tubelip wrasses slurp corals and cleaner wrasses act like carwashes, eating parasites and dead tissue off other sea creatures.
This spectacular diversity stems from wrasse ancestors that migrated from the prehistoric Tethys Sea to the area that now bridges the Pacific and Indian Oceans. There, in a vast and vibrant cradle of coral reefs, they settled and steadily diversified over tens of millions of years.
Their story fits into a larger pattern. This region, the Central Indo-Pacific, has become the hot spot with the most biodiversity in Earth’s oceans because many ancestors of today’s marine life colonized it so long ago, according to a recent paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.”
Archive for The Sixth Extinction of Species
“In 2003, enterprising criminals in Southeast Asia realized that they could exploit a loophole in South Africa’s hunting laws to move rhino horns legally across international borders. Normally, North Americans and Europeans account for the bulk of South Africa’s rhino hunting permits. But that year, 10 Vietnamese “hunters” quietly applied as well.
Hunters are allowed to transport legally obtained trophies across borders under various international and domestic laws. The Vietnamese hunters each returned home with the mounted horn, head or even whole body of a rhino.
Word spread. Though Vietnam and other Asian countries have no history of big-game sport hunting, South Africa was soon inundated with applicants from Asia, who sometimes paid $85,000 or more to shoot a single white rhino.
That represented the beginning of an illicit industry referred to as pseudo-hunting — a first step toward the rhino poaching crisis that rages today. And the story of one of its chief practitioners shows the lengths to which criminals will go to move wildlife contraband.”
“More than 120 pregnant female whales were among 333 killed during Japan’s recent annual summer hunt off the coast of Antarctica, according to a new report.
The report, released by the International Whaling Commission this month, said 122 of the slaughtered minke whales were pregnant and 114 were considered immature.
The last hunting season in the Antarctic for Japan ran from Dec. 8 to Feb. 28.
Conservationists said the new report was further evidence that Japan was killing whales for commercial purposes under the guise of scientific research.”
In Africa- Geneticists Are Hunting Poachers. (Many of the big traffickers are Vietnamese and Chinese!) NYT
Many of the big traffickers are Vietnamese and Chinese!
“South African authorities long had eyes on Rogers Mukwena. They knew the former schoolteacher was wanted in Zimbabwe for poaching rhinoceroses and selling their horns, which can command hundreds of thousands of dollars.
He’d jumped bail and fled to northern Pretoria, but it was vexingly difficult to catch and prosecute him — until a scientist helped make the case against him with rhino DNA.
His subsequent conviction resulted from a new tactic in wildlife preservation: The genetic fingerprinting methods that have been so successful in the criminal justice system are now being used to solve poaching crimes.”