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A record for tigers and a disaster for birds

A record for tigers and a disaster for birds

Shows a compilation of a number of sources prepared by TT.

Perhaps what has attracted the most attention is the disastrous effects of bird flu on many bird species.

The virus causing the disease, H5N1, in its latest, highly contagious form, appeared already at the end of 2020. It spread around the world in 2021 and 2022, reaching Antarctica in October 2023.

Millions of birds have died, and it is not clear exactly how many, during a series of outbreaks. Primarily, species that breed in dense colonies are affected, especially seabirds. Among colonies of pelicans, lizards and cormorants in large colonies along the west coast of South America, the mortality rate has been very high this year. In Peru, more than 200,000 birds died.

Scientists now fear that the virus will take hold in the huge penguin colonies in Antarctica. This can have devastating effects.

Dead seagulls

Seabirds in Sweden were also affected. Thousands of laughing seagulls were found dead all over the southern part of the country, and in Karlsuarna off Jutland many herring pigs died.

On the negative side, one can also note that no bright spot can be seen for the insects in the world. It has been known for two decades that many insects have declined in numbers in Europe and North America, and now the same phenomenon has been observed in East Asia. A study in China revealed that the number of insects moving each year from the southeastern parts of the continent to the northern parts and back has decreased by 7.6 percent since 2003.

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Here at home, the Baltic Sea herring and herring crisis continued. Stocks are at their lowest levels due to overfishing. However, fishing may continue this year, following a decision by the EU Council of Ministers.

Hundreds of tuna

But it's not all doom and gloom, a lot of good news actually comes from the world's oceans. Bluefin tuna appear to have recovered in many waters, including European waters, in recent years. This summer, for example, flocks of 200 individuals could be observed in the Øresund. Tunas can weigh several hundred kilograms, and when they break the surface of the water they are a powerful sight.

Other good news is that a record number of sea turtles will come ashore in 2023 along U.S. coasts to lay eggs. In Florida, 133,400 loggerhead nests and 76,500 green sea turtle nests were counted.

Scientists were also able to find out that humpback whales continue to increase in most parts of the oceans. The number is now thought to be at least 135,000 animals, and a record number of individuals were sighted last year off eastern Australia.

Dramatic increase

On the ground, the biggest news is that the saiga antelope, a relic of the Ice Age, has returned to Kazakhstan's steppes after reaching a low point in 2005 when only 39,000 individuals remained as a result of poaching. For several years, protection has been strengthened, and the number of saiga antelopes has now reached about two million, a significant and significant increase.

The number of the most popular animal in the world, the tiger, has also increased. Seven years ago, there were only 3,900 wild tigers in the world. Now the number has reached just over 5,800, a satisfactory increase of 48 percent. On the other hand, almost all of these tigers, 77%, are found in the Indian subcontinent – ​​by far the largest extant tribe in India, 3,925 tigers. In Southeast Asia, on the other hand, the number of disappearances is small, only about 700 tigers, and the decline appears to be continuing. In Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, this species is now considered extinct.

Bluefin tuna have rebounded strongly in recent years and can now be seen in large shoals, for example, in the Øresund. Photo: Koichiro Numata/AP/TT

A tiger in Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan, India.  The tiger has grown strongly in India in recent years.

A tiger in Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan, India. The tiger has grown strongly in India in recent years. Photo: Satyajit Singh Rathore, AP/TT

Among the species that went backwards in 2023 are the gray whale and orangutan. Avian influenza has caused a decline in the numbers of most of the world's seabirds. Many fish, such as sturgeon and herring in the Baltic Sea, are also at low levels, as are many sharks in the world's oceans.

Among the growing species are the African rhinoceros, leopard, Iberian lynx and saiga antelope. In the seas, things are going well for humpback whales, herring whales and sperm whales. Bluefin tuna, as well as many sea turtles, are also becoming more numerous.

Sources: Science, World Tiger Forum, IUCN, etc.