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Ep.141: European bison rebound, freshwater dolphins face extinction

Wild European bisons. Source: pixabay.com

Conservationists say European bison numbers have rebounded. Once extinct in the wild there are now 47 free-ranging herds roaming the European continent.

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Italian 

Un tempo diverse centinaia d'anni fa diffuso in tutta Europa, il più grande mammifero di terra del continente è stato cacciato ed i suoi numeri sono diminuiti drammaticamente.

Dopo la prima guerra mondiale, la restante popolazione del bisonte europeo - cugino stretto del bisonte nordamericano - venne cacciata senza tregua, lasciando la specie estinta allo stato brado e sopravvissuta solo in cattività.

Gli sforzi di reintroduzione iniziarono negli anni cinquanta.

L' International Union for Conservation of Nature, con sede in Svizzera, ha reso noto che la popolazione selvatica è più che triplicata in 15 anni.

Il suo status è migliorato, da "vulnerabile" a "quasi minacciato"

"This is for sure a positive change. And it is necessary to thank all of those who contributed to this result. At the same time, what we have to focus on is to make sure that this change (status change) doesn't result in less effort to save the European bison because it is said that the European bison will only be saved when their population reaches 10,000. Which has not happened, because there are about 8,500 of them."

È una storia positiva rara in un periodo di notizie tristi per gli ambientalisti.

La "lista rossa" mette in evidenza la sofferenza di oltre 35mila specie, ora minacciate di estinzione.

Sono state valutate più di 128mila specie, tra cui piante, animali e funghi.

La Conservation Union riporta che tutti i delfini d'acqua dolce del mondo rischiano l'estinzione.

Craig Hilton-Taylor è il presidente della Red List Unit, all'interno della Union.

Dichiara che i numeri dei delfini sono stati severamente impoveriti dall'azione umana e che l'impatto viene sofferto tra le varie specie.

"All of these things are down to human activities, whether it's direct hunting or fishing or harvesting of the species, to introducing invasive species, changing habitats to agriculture, urbanisation, climate change, we're really seeing climate change coming through quite strongly this time around with increasing frequency and intensity of fires in South Africa, Australia, California. Warming of the oceans, that's having an impact on lots of species, we're now starting to detect those trends. So, the human footprint is everywhere."

La "lista rossa" suddivide le specie minacciate in categorie vulnerabili, in pericolo e criticamente a rischio, l'ultima che comprende quelle più vicine all'estinzione.

Più di 30 specie sono state dichiarate estinte.

In Australia, le condizioni di siccità, che l'estate scorsa hanno favorito gli incendi nel continente, sono attribuite alle condizioni create dal cambiamento climatico.

Il World Wide Fund per la natura ha reso noto che fino a tre miliardi di animali si sono trovati nel percorso delle fiamme.

Il presidente dell'organizzazione australiana Dermot O'Gorman ha dichiarato che 60mila koala sono rimasti uccisi, feriti o allontanati dalle loro zone.

"Now for a species that was already heavily impacted, this is a really disturbing number and one that we are deeply concerned about. These numbers are really off the charts and they drive home the unprecedented nature of the Australian bushfires that really require a massive response."

Un anno dopo, alcuni di loro sono stati fatti rientrare nel loro habitat dopo mesi di riabilitazione, e tra di loro 14 provenienti da uno dei siti più colpiti: Mallacoota.

La veterinaria di Zoos Victoria, la dottoressa Leanne Wicker, ha dichiarato che è tempo di guarire, dopo una grande tragedia.

"There was a whole team effort to get them here. And so much love, so much knowledge, experience and the whole, you know, of our organization Zoos Victoria, so many different people working together. And here they are back. You know, out of that devastating time in January, it's really lovely isn't it to bring life back into Mallacoota."

English 

Once widespread across Europe several centuries ago, the continent's largest land mammal was hunted, its numbers declined dramatically.

After the First World War, the remaining population of the European bison - close cousins of the North American bison - was hunted out, leaving the species extinct in the wild and only surviving in captivity.

Reintroduction efforts began in the 1950s.

The Switzerland-based International Union for Conservation of Nature says the wild population more than tripled in 15 years.

Its status has been improved, from "vulnerable" to "near threatened".

"This is for sure a positive change. And it is necessary to thank all of those who contributed to this result. At the same time, what we have to focus on is to make sure that this change (status change) doesn't result in less effort to save the European bison because it is said that the European bison will only be saved when their population reaches 10,000. Which has not happened, because there are about 8,500 of them."

It's a rare positive story in a period of grim news for conservationists.

The "red list" highlights the plight of over 35,000 species now threatened with extinction.

Over 128,000 species have now been assessed, including plants, animals and fungi.

The Conservation Union reports all the world's freshwater dolphins are now threatened with extinction.

Craig Hilton-Taylor is the Head of Red List Unit, within the Union.

He says dolphin numbers have been severely depleted by human activity and the impact is being felt across species.

"All of these things are down to human activities, whether it's direct hunting or fishing or harvesting of the species, to introducing invasive species, changing habitats to agriculture, urbanisation, climate change, we're really seeing climate change coming through quite strongly this time around with increasing frequency and intensity of fires in South Africa, Australia, California. Warming of the oceans, that's having an impact on lots of species, we're now starting to detect those trends. So, the human footprint is everywhere."

The "red list" breaks down threatened species into vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered categories, the last involving those closest to extinction.

Over 30 species have been declared extinct.

In Australia, drought conditions that led to wildfires across the continent last summer are attributed to conditions created by climate change.

The World Wide Fund for nature reported up to three billion animals were in the path of the blazes.

The organisation's Australian Chief Executive Dermot O'Gorman said 60,000 koalas were killed, injured or displaced.

"Now for a species that was already heavily impacted, this is a really disturbing number and one that we are deeply concerned about. These numbers are really off the charts and they drive home the unprecedented nature of the Australian bushfires that really require a massive response."

A year later, some are being returned to their habitat after months of rehabilitation, including 14 from one of Victoria's worst-hit sites: Mallacoota.

Zoos Victoria Senior Veterinarian, Doctor Leanne Wicker, said it was a time to heal after great tragedy.

"There was a whole team effort to get them here. And so much love, so much knowledge, experience and the whole, you know, of our organization Zoos Victoria, so many different people working together. And here they are back. You know, out of that devastating time in January, it's really lovely isn't it to bring life back into Mallacoota."

Report by Camille Bianchi

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