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Department ofBotany

No. 178
April/May 1998

Editor: Jane Villa-Lobos


More than one out of eight plant species worldwide is at risk of extinction, according to the most comprehensive scientific assessment ever assembled on the status of the world's plants. This announcement was made on April 8 at a press conference at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History as the 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants was released. Similar news conferences were held in England, Australia and South Africa. The IUCN Red List reveals that 12.5%, or 34,000, of the world's vascular plant species are threatened with extinction.

The Red List is the result of a 20-year effort by a unique coalition of scientists, conservation organizations, botanical gardens and museums. The Red List was published by IUCN-The World Conservation Union and compiled by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC). Conservation assessments were provided by numerous scientists and conservationists with major input from the Smithsonian's Department of Botany, The Nature Conservancy, Environment Australia and CSIRO, the National Botanical Institute (South Africa), Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and Edinburgh, and the New York Botanical Garden.

Of the estimated 270,000 known species of vascular plants, which include ferns, fern allies, gymnosperms (including conifers and cycads), and flowering plants, 33,798 were found to be at risk of extinction. These plants are found in 369 families and are scattered throughout 200 countries. Of the plant species named in the Red List, 91% are found only in a single country. A limited geographic distribution can make a species much more vulnerable and may reduce options for its protection. In addition, islands or island groups, which also have high rates of endemicity, face high levels of threat to their flora. Seven of the top ten areas listed according to percentage of threatened floras were islands: St. Helena, Mauritius, Seychelles, Jamaica, French Polynesia, Pitcairn, and Reunion. A great number of plant species known to have medicinal value are at risk of disappearing, leaving their healing potential unfulfilled. For instance, 75% of the species from the yew family, a source of important cancer-fighting compounds, are threatened. The willow family, from which aspirin is derived, has 12% of its species threatened. Numerous other species whose medicinal value has not yet been studied also are at risk.

The Red List shows that 380 species have become extinct in the wild, with an additional 371 species listed as Extinct/Endangered. Over 6,500 species are categorized as Endangered, indicating their numbers have been so drastically reduced to a critical level that they are deemed to be in immediate danger of extinction. Threat assessments are according to the pre-1994 IUCN threat categories. The introduction to the book details the purpose and history of the project, an explanation of the information and an analysis of the list, including valuable tables on threatened plants in each country by IUCN category and by major taxa and families. Publication of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants marks a turning point for conservation. The book, an important new conservation tool, provides baseline information to measure conservation progress and serves as a primary source of data on plant species. Most importantly, it provides the building blocks on which to base worldwide efforts to conserve plant species and the ecosystems they inhabit.

The Red List is available for $45 (plus shipping and handling) from The New York Botanical Garden, Scientific Publications, Bronx, NY 10458-5126; Tel.:(718) 817-8721; Fax:(718) 817-8842); E-mail:


World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has published two assessments regarding threatened ecosystems in the U.S. and how global warming is causing ecological change in U.S. parks and wildlife refuges. The first report, North American Conservation Assessment, is the result of a two-year study to describe 116 ecoregions of North America and to evaluate their environmental health. Each of the ecoregions is a relatively large area that contains a geographically distinct assemblage of natural communities based on strong similarities in climate, geology and plant species. Many of them cross state, provincial and even national borders, with some as large as entire states themselves. The study found that more than 25% of the 116 North American ecoregions are globally outstanding, which means their biological diversity equals or surpasses similar regions elsewhere on earth. Among the outstanding findings of the study are: 1) the Tennessee river basin contains more species of freshwater fish (244) than any other temperate waters in the world; 2) parts of the Southern California coast constitute one of only five Mediterranean zones on earth. These are small land masses that, largely due to climate, account for 20% of all plant species; 3) the two richest temperate forests in the world, in terms of plant species, are the Hunan-Setzuan forests of China and the Appalachian-Blue Ridge forest of North America; and 4) two of the world's rarest regions are found in the United States - the southeastern longleaf pine forests of northern Florida and the tallgrass prairies in and around Iowa.

Unfortunately, half of the 116 regions are suffering from severe degradation. As a result, WWF has announced it will invest $10 million in the initial phases of a campaign to protect five specific U.S. regions it believes are among the most valuable and the most threatened in the country. These are: the Klamath Siskiyou Forests of Oregon and Northen California; the Chihuahuan desert bordering Mexico, Texas and New Mexico; Alaska's Bering Sea; the freshwater rivers and streams of the Southeast which flow through Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia; and the Florida Everglades.

The second assessment is the first comprehensive analysis of the threat from global warming to America's national parks. Based on a careful review of the existing scientific literature, extensive interviews with scientists working on the ground, and previously unpublished data, the report includes 19 case studies of individual parks and refuges in North America, and an entirely new scientific analysis revealing the effects of nine different climate scenarios on the vegetation in U.S. parks and protected areas. This analysis suggests that warming will drastically change the vegetation in more than a quarter of U.S. national parks and cause the loss of wetlands in the Upper Midwest, threatening the most important sites for breeding. Overall, the protected areas considered most vulnerable to climate change include those in mountain and low-lying coastal areas, the Great Plains and Alaska. Individual parks that are threatened include Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Everglades, Great Smoky Mountains, Hawaii's Haleakala and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Global warming, caused primarily by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, is projected to be occurring faster than at any time in the last 10,000 years. This report points to the urgent need to reach an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and slow the effects of global warming on the earth's biological diversity. For more information on both of these reports, visit WWF's Web site at


The Tropical Ecosystems Directorate (TED) of the U.S. Man and the Biosphere Program (U.S. MAB) supports applied research on the management, harvesting, utilization, and marketing of tropical forest resources in the tri-national Mayan forest of Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. A small number of grants of US$1000-$3500 will be awarded in 1998. Potential applicants should obtain a copy of the TED core project description from the U.S. MAB Secretariat, Roger E. Soles, OES/ETC/MAB, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20522-4401; Tel.: (202) 776- 8318; Fax: (202) 776-8367. Proposals may be submitted in Spanish or English to U.S. MAB Secretariat, OES/ETC/MAB, Room 107, SA- 44C, U.S. Department of State, Washington DC 20522-4401.

The Wilderness Society's US$10,000 Gloria Barron Wilderness Society Scholarship is awarded annually to a graduate student in natural resources management, law or policy programs. The scholarship seeks to encourage individuals who have the potential to make a significant positive difference in the long-term protection of the nation's wilderness. The award supports research on the wilderness establishment, protection, or management. The work may apply to a particular landscape or it may address issues broadly. For more information contact G. Thomas Bancroft, Vice President, Ecology and Economics Research Department, The Wilderness Society, 900 Seventeenth St. NW, Washington, DC 20006-2596; Tel.: (202) 429-2689; E-mail: Tom_Bancroft@TWS.ORG.


The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has an opening for a conservation leadership director in the Honolulu, Hawaii office. The director will work with TNC's Asia/Pacific regional and field managers and partner organizations to provide capacity-building support in implementing conservation projects. Candidates qualifications should include: 1) at least 5 years of demonstrated, successful work experience in capacity-building or organizational development with NGOs, government entities, and/or the business sector, including significant experience with organizational needs assessment and strategic planning; 2) excellent skills in developing partnerships, recruiting and managing teams; 3) working knowledge of conservation issues in the region; and 4) demonstrated ability to communicate effectively with an ability to speak Indonesian, Chinese or Melanesian Pidgin. A successful record of grant writing and fundraising is highly desirable.

Interested applicants should send a resume to: Ms. Donna Roberts, The Nature Conservancy, 1116 Smith St., Suite 201, Honolulu, HI 96817; Tel.: (808) 537-4508; Fax: (808) 545-2019: E- mail:

The Student Conservation Association, Inc.(SCA) maintains an on-line searchable database for conservation jobs, JobNet. Information on the SCA and how to subscribe to this job service can be accessed through the Association's Web site ( by writing The Student Conservation Association, Inc., Attention: JobNet , PO Box 550, Charlestown, NH 03603-0550. A 30-day trial is $15; 3 months: $24.95; 6 months: $34.95.


June 22-23. A symposium on the conservation of medicinal plants in Europe will be held at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, England. The symposium is organized by TRAFFIC Europe in collaboration with the IUCN/Species Survival Commission's Medicinal Plant Specialist Group and WWF. The meeting will offer opportunities to disseminate the results of a number of recent medicinal plant trade surveys. The main goal of the symposium will be to channel attention to establishing long-term conservation strategies for wild medicinal plant species in trade. Contact: TRAFFIC Europe; Tel.: 32/2/3438258; Fax: 32/2/3432565; E-mail:

July 6-10. The Second Congress of the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation will be held in Managua, Nicaragua hosted by the Universidad Centroamericana Department of Agricultural Sciences. The 5-day congress will include symposia on: conservation of neotropical migratory birds, management of protected areas, management and conservation of marine turtles, data centers and biodiversity monitoring, and management and conservation of wetlands. Two roundtables are scheduled to discuss scientific ethics and the new role of technicians and biodiversity priorities and opportunities for the region.

Registration is $30 (members of the Society); $40 (non- members). More information is available on the Congress Web page at or http:www- or by contacting the congress organizers, Teresa Zuniga or Ramiro Perez, Apdo. C-211, Managua, Nicaragua; Tel.: (505) 277-2177; Fax: (505) 270-3561; E-mail:

July 13-16. The annual meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology will be held at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. The scientific sessions will consist of a plenary session, "Biodiversity Conservation: Myths and Realities", 22 symposia, four workshops and a number of open sessions. Registration: $250 (members); $115 (students); $350 (non-members). A complete up-to-date list of symposia can be obtained by consulting the Web site at or by writing: Society for Conservation Biology, c/o Key Centre for Biodiverstiy and Bioresources, School of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sidney, NSW 2109, Australia.


The 1998 Edition of the "Earthwatch Institute Expedition Guide" has been released. The full color 130-page guide contains descriptions of 145 scientific research projects worldwide. Volunteer opportunities are available for one to three week long paying internships on many of the projects listed in the guide. No past experience is required for these expeditions. To order, call 1-800-776-0188 or visit the Web site at: A $5 donation to the nonprofit Earthwatch Institute covers printing and mailing costs.


More than two-thirds of the earth's biological resources are found within just 17 countries, only two of which are developed nations, according to Megadiversity: Earth's Biologically Wealthiest Nations, published by Conservation International (CI). The 500-page volume describes in detail each of the megadiversity nation's plant and animal life, ecosystems, and conservation efforts, and includes information on the indigenous cultures of each nation. The criteria for deciding which countries fall into the megadiversity category include: plant species endemism (those species found naturally in the area and nowhere else) coupled with assessments of bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species endemism; species diversity; higher level diversity (the total number of genera and families); ecosystem diversity; presence of marine ecosystems; and presence of tropical rain forest ecosystems. The list does not include any landlocked nations, and all but one, South Africa, claims tropical forests. The top 17 bio-rich countries are: Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Papua New Guinea, United States, and Venezuela. If these countries are ranked according to endemism and species diversity, the top countries include Brazil, Indonesia, Colombia, Australia, Mexico and Madagascar. In terms of plants and animals at risk, as much as 80% of the world's most endangered biodiversity occurs within the megadiversity countries. It is hoped that this book will be a tool to prioritize global conservation efforts, in order to safeguard earth's biological wealth.

Megadiversity data tables are included in CI's Web site at The book can be ordered for $60 through Conservation International, 2501 M Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20037; Tel.: (202) 429-5660; Fax: (202) 887-0192.


Aldrich, M. 1998. Cloud forests at risk. Arborvitae 7: 11. (World Conservation Monitoring Centre's survey)

Allen-Wardel, G. et al. 1998. The potential consequences of pollinator declines on the conservation of biodiversity and stability of food crop yields. Conservation Biology 12(1): 8-17.

Anon. 1998. Amazon still under threat. Arborvitae 7: 2. (Fires)

Anon. 1998. America's Arctic threatened by proposed oil leasing. EnviroAction 16(1): 23-24. (Alaskan wetlands at risk)

Anon. 1998. Anti-Atlas dragon tree discovery. Plant Talk 12: 18. (Botanists in 1996 located a forest of dragon trees in a remote area of the Anti-Atlas Mountains in Morocco)

Anon. 1998. Conservation and management of biodiversity in the coastal zone of the Dominican Republic. Intercoast Network 30: 22-23.

Anon. 1998. Conservationists collaborate on Cameroon inventory. Plant Talk 12: 13. (Plant inventory of Mt. Cameroon and its surroundings)

Anon. 1998. El Carricito: last of an ancient wood. Eco- Exchange January-February: 2. (Old-growth pine and oak forests of Mexico's western Sierra Madre)

Anon. 1998. Forest Service's new age harvest. Washington Post March 27: A1. (Economic plants harvested from U.S. national forests)

Anon. 1998. Indigenous territory logged in Belize. Arborvitae 7: 2. (Mayan reservation)

Anon. 1998. Indonesian fires threaten wildlife. Arborvitae 7: 3.

Anon. 1998. Indonesia's forest holocaust. Plant Talk 12: 12, 38. (Fires)

Anon. 1998. Invasive seaweed clogs Mediterranean coasts. Plant Talk 12: 16. (Caulerpa taxifolia)

Anon. 1998. Mascarene survivor cloned. Plant Talk 12: 15. (Cafe marron, Ramosmania rodriguesii)

Anon. 1998. New wilderness area in Canada. Arborvitae 7: 4. (Muskwa-Kechika Wilderness)

Anon. 1998. Protected areas news in brief. Arborvitae 7: 4. (A new 840 sq. mile Masoala National park created in Madagascar)

Anon. 1998. Siberian protected areas staff call for new wilderness. Russian Conservation News 14: 41-42.

Anon. 1998. Uzbekistan sets aside 10% of its forests. Arborvitae 7: 2.

Averyanov, L. and Christenson, E. 1998. Papilionanthe pedunculata. A rare vanda relative under cultivation at an ordchid garden in Dalat. Orchids 67(2): 148-149. (Vietnam)

Baksh-Comeau, Y. 1997. Risk index rating of threatened ferns in Trinidad and Tobago. Pp. 139-152. In Camus, J., Gibby, M., Johns, R. (Eds), Proceedings of the Holttum Memorial Pteridophyte Symposium. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England.

Barendse, G. and Van der Weerden, G. 1997. The Solanaceae germplasm bank at the Botanical Garden of Nijmegen. Bot. Gardens Conservation News 2(9): 31-33. (The Netherlands)

Baskin, J. and Baskin, C. 1998. Greenhouse and laboratory studies on the ecological life cycle of Dalea foliosa (Fabaceae), a federally endangered species. Natural Areas J. 18(1): 54-62.

Bawa, K. and Seidler, R. 1998. Natural forest management and conservation of biodiversity in tropical forests. Conservation Biology 12(1): 46-55.

Blezinger, G. 1998. Conservation in the Russian Far East. Arborvitae 7: 6.

Botsford, L. and Brittnacher, J. 1998. Viability of Sacramento River winter-run chinook salmon. Conservation Biology 12(1): 65-79. (Califor.nia)

Burke, D. and Nol, E. 1998. Edge and fragment size effects on the vegetation of deciduous forests in Ontario, Canada. Natural Areas J. 18(1): 45-53.

Bye, R. and Timmermann, B. 1997. International Cooperative Biodiversity Group's program in Mexico. Medicinal Plant Conservation 4: 5-6. (Medi.cinal plants native to arid and semiarid regions)

Cerovsky, J. 1998. Michael Succow: Architect of national parks in former East Germany. Plant Talk 12: 7.

Chadwick, D. 1998. Blue refuges: U.S. National Marine Sanctuaries. Nat. Geographic 193(3): 2-31. (12 sanctuaries encompass 18,000 sq. miles)

Clarke, G. 1998. Plants in peril, 24. Notes on lowland African violets (Saintpaulia) in the wild. Curtis' Bot. Magazine 15(1): 62-67.

Cochrane, A. 1997. A genebank for Western Australia's threatened flora. Bot. Gardens Conservation News 2(9): 29- 30.

Curthoys, L. 1998. Ramsey Canyon Preserve, Arizona (USA): a case study in succcessful small protected area management. Natural Areas J. 18(1): 28-37.

Daniels, R., McDonnell, E. and Raybould, A. 1998. The current status of Rumex rupestris Le Gall (Polygonaceae) in England and Wales, and threats to its survival and genetic diversity. Watsonia 22(1): 33-39. Danilina, N. 1998. Towards an action plan on protected areas for northern Eurasia. Russian Conservation News 14: 14-15.

Dobkin, D., Rich, A. and Pyle, W. 1998. Habitat and avifaunal recovery from livestock grazing in a riparian meadow system on the northwestern Great Basin. Conservation Biology 12(1): 209-221. (Oregon)

Duarte de Barros, W., Reitz, R., Carauta, J., Lima, D., Rocha, R., Diniz, C. and Pinto, E. 1998. O parque nacional do Itatiaia - sinopse da flora, fauna e geografia. Albertoa 4(24): 317-327. (Brazil parks rich in endemic flora and fauna)

Dudley, N., Gilmour, D. and Jeanrenaud, J. P. 1998. Boreal forests: policy challenges for the future. Arborvitae 7(Supp.): 1-6.

Dyer, A. and Lindsay, S. 1997. Soil spore banks - a new resource for conservation. Pp. 153-160. In Camus, J., Gibby, M., Johns, R. (Eds), Proceedings of the Holttum Memorial Pteridophyte Symposium. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England.

Eastwood, A., Bytelbier, B., Tye, H., Tye, A., Robertson, A. and Maunder, M. 1998. The conservation status of Saintpaulia. Curtis' Bot. Magazine 15(1): 49-62.

Evans, B. 1998. Wokabaut somils in the Pacific. Arborvitae 7: 9. (Logging boom)

Faiola, A. 1998. Amazon going up in flames. Washington Post March 27: A1, A29. (Fires in Roraima state ravage rainforest and disrupt Yanomami Indians)

Faiola, A. 1998. Brazil reconsiders plan for interior waterway. Washington Post March 21: A17. (Paraguay-Parana waterway project)

Faiola, A. 1998. Flames impart life to Indian legend. Washington Post April 8: A1, A19. (Slash-and-burn Amazon fires penetrate Yanomami Indians' territory)

Fassil, H. and Engels, J. 1997. Seed conservation research: IPGRI's strategies and activities. Bot. Gardens Conservation News 2(9): 45-49.

FitzMaurice, W. and FitzMaurice, B. 1998. Mammillaria luethyi - a new species has been described and an old mystery solved. Cactus & Succ. J. (U.S.) 70(1): 23-26. (Critically endangered in Mexico)

Garrett, M. 1996. The Ferns of Tasmania, Their Ecology and Distribution. Tasmanian Forest Research Council, Inc., Hobart, Tasmania. 217 pp. (Lists conservation status)

Gomez-Campo, C. 1997. The UPM seed bank in Madrid (Spain). Bot. Gardens Conservation News 2(9): 40.

Gotelli, N. 1998. A Primer of Ecology. Sinauer Associates, Inc., Sunderland, Massachusetts. 200 pp. (Second edition)

Green, D. 1997. Amphibians in Decline: Canadian Studies of a Global Problem. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, St. Louis, Missouri. 338 pp. (Herpetological Conservation No. One)

Guerrant, E. and McMahan, L. 1997. Saving seeds for the future - the seed bank at Berry Botanic Garden. Bot. Gardens Conservation News 2(9): 24-26. (USA)

Guimaraes, E. and da Silva Giordana, L. 1997. Notas em Piperaceae IV - Piper scutifolium Yuncker, especie rara no estado do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Bradea 8(8): 41-44.

Hallingback, T. 1998. Sweden's retreating lichens. Plant Talk 12: 17. (Study of 100 Red-listed lichens recorded from SW Sweden)

Hart, D. 1998. Brazilian wildfires threaten Indians. Washington Post March 20: A1.

Hegde, S. and D'Souza, L. 1997. In vitro propagation of Drynaria quercifolia an endangered fern. Pp. 171-172. In Camus, J., Gibby, M., Johns, R. (Eds), Proceedings of the Holttum Memorial Pteridophyte Symposium. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England.

Helenurm, K. 1998. Outplanting and differential source population success in Lupinus guadalupensis. Conservation Biology 12(1): 118-127. (San Clemente, California)

Herndon, C. 1998. Preserving Madagascar's orchid heritage. Orchids 67(2): 153-161. (A French national collection has been established to preserve rare orchids)

Hidayat, S. 1997. Study of Compositae in several conservation areas in Indonesia. Compositae Newsletter 31: 17-20.

Hudson, R., Friel, C. and Westlake, C. 1998. Preparing an innovative approach to Florida's ocean policy. Intercoast Network 30: 12-13.

Jaka, C. 1997-1998. World biodiversity experts gather in Washington to assess biodiversity crisis. DIVERSITY 13(4): 16-18. (Nature and Human Society meeting held Oct. 27-30, 1997)

Jarvie, J. and Stevens, P. 1998. Interactive keys, inventory, and con.servation. Conservation Biology 12(1): 222-224.

Jianchu, X. 1997. Taxus at risk in Yunnan, Southwest China. Medicinal Plant Conservation 4: 10.

Johnson, M. 1997. The Desert Legume Program: legumes from the world's dry lands. Bot. Gardens Conservation News 2(9): 38-39. (Arizona)

Kamakhina, G. 1998. A national strategy to save the biological and landscape diversity of Turkmenistan. Russian Conservation News 14: 12-14.

Kasparek, M. 1997. African Network on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ANIUMAP) founded at Abuja, Nigeria. Medicinal Plant Conservation 4: 18.

Kenworthy, T. 1998. Timber proposal reverberates around wild lands of West. Washington Post March 11: A3. (Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming)

Kessy, J. 1998. Conservation and Utilization of Natural Resources in the East Usambara Forest Reserves: Conventional Views and Local Perspectives. Wageningen Agricultural University, Wageningen, The Nether.lands. 168 pp. (Tropical Resource Management Papers 18)

Kleiman, D. and Mallinson, J. 1998. Recovery and management committees for lion tamarins: partnerships in conservation planning and implementation. Conservation Biology 12(1): 27-38.

Koshkarev, E. 1998. Critical ranges as centers of biodiversity. Russian Conservation News 14: 37-38. (Central Asia)

Kovaleski, S. 1998. El Nino taking its toll on Panama Canal. Washington Post April 8: A20. (Drought and low water levels lead to first restrictions on ships in 15 years)

Kozlo, P. 1998. The status, concepts and program of conserving the European bison in Belarus. Russian Conservation News 14: 19-22.

Laliberte, B. 1997. Botanic garden seed banks/genebanks worldwide, their facilities, collections and network. Bot. Gardens Conservation News 2(9): 18-23.

Lange, D. 1998. Saving Aphrodite's realm. Plant Talk 12: 20-23, 36. (Creating a national park for the Akamas Peninsula, Cyprus)

Lillie, T. and Ripley, J. 1998. A strategy for implementing ecosystem management in the United States Air Force. Natural Areas J. 18(1): 73-80.

Linington, S. 1997. The Millennium Seed Bank project. Bot. Gardens Conservation News 2(9): 34-35. (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew)

Lips, K. 1998. Decline of a tropical montane amphibian fauna. Conservation Biology 12(1): 106-117. (Costa Rica)

Lipske, M. 1998. Giving rare creatures a fighting chance. Nat. Wildlife 36(2): 14-23. (Habitat Conservation Plans, USA)

Lott, J. 1998. Vision 20/20: a future of coastal management. Where are we going? Who will take us there? Intercoast Network 30: 6-7. (USA)

Lukarevski, V. 1998. The past and future of the tiger. Russian Conservation News 14: 34. (Turan tiger, extirpated in Central Asia; Amur tiger, endangered)

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