Endangered species take to world swamps

Feb. 28, 2013 at 3:21 PM
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PRINCETON, N.J., Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Some endangered species faced with human encroachment will seek sanctuary in tropical hideaways humans are less interested in exploiting, U.S. ecologists say.

While some endangered primates and large cats have moved into sultry thickets of mangrove and peat swamp forests in Asian and Africa, researchers at Princeton University report, conservationists have been slow to consider these tropical hideaways when keeping tabs on the distribution of threatened animals such as Sumatran orangutans and Javan leopards.

Katarzyna Nowak, a former postdoctoral researcher of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton, compiled a list of 60 primates and 20 large cat known to divide their time between their natural forest habitats and some 47 swamp forests in Africa and Asia.

Because swamp forests often lack food sources, fresh water and easy mobility, few mammals live exclusively in such areas, Nowak said, and consequently conservation groups have not intensely monitored the animals' swamp use.

Swamp forests should be the focus of further study as places where endangered species such as lowland gorillas and large cats have preserved their numbers and where humans could potentially preserve them into the future, Nowak said.

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