Breeding success for three critically endangered species

Three nearly extinct species in three distinct corners of the globe are getting new chances at survival.

In Australia, the northern hairy-nosed wombat, one of the world's ten most endangered mammals, will receive a new, protected habitat thanks to a AU$3 million donation from the mining company Xstrata. There are only 115 northern hairy-nosed wombats in the world, all of which live in Queensland's Epping Forest National Park. By creating a new habitat several miles away, conservationists hope to prevent the species from being wiped out by a single fire, natural disaster or disease.

Meanwhile, in India, 16 pygmy hogs will soon be released back into the wild. The once-believed-extinct species was rediscovered in 1971, and in 1995 six hogs formed the genesis of a captive breeding program, which now holds a grand total of 79 animals.

And in Costa Rica, a breed-and-release program for endangered scarlet macaws is finally seeing fruit. 100 birds have been released into the wild over the last decade, but they didn't start reproducing in the wild until recently. But over the last year, 22 wild-born chicks have been spotted, and more recently at least four more macaw couples have laid eggs. Although they once lived all across Costa Rica, scarlet macaws now only exist in two small populations in national parks.

It's hard for any species to survive when its numbers drop into the triple or double digits, but at least these three species now have some hope for the future.