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Hunting for food and medicine is driving pangolins towards extinction. Jabruson / Nature Picture Library / Getty Images

By Tim Radford

The world's biggest animals—the largest birds, the bigger mammals and even reptiles, sharks and amphibians—are in increasing danger of extinction. Climate change, habitat loss and pollution may all be part of the problem, but the biggest and most direct threat is a simple one.

They are being hunted to death. They are being killed for meat, for trophies such as horns and tusks, and for body parts used in Asian medicine.

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Kanggava Bay on Rennell Island, where a grounded ship is leaking oil, according to some reports. Peter Hendrie / Getty Images

A ship that ran aground in the Solomon islands Feb. 4 is now menacing a coral reef with an oil spill, The Guardian reported Tuesday.

The 740 foot MV Solomon Trader was stranded on a reef near Rennell Island, home to the largest raised coral atoll in the world and a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site, AFP reported. The bulk carrier has not been salvaged in the two weeks since it was stranded because of Cyclone Oma, Solomon Islands National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) director Loti Yates told Radio New Zealand early Monday morning.

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On thin ice. Christopher Michel / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The Russian military is taking measures to protect the residents of a remote Arctic settlement from a mass of polar bears, German press agency DPA reported.

The move comes after regional authorities declared a state of emergency over the weekend after sightings of more than 50 bears in the town of Belushya Guba since December.

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The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas is not only a sanctuary to some 200 species of butterflies, it's also a home for the area's other unique wildlife.

With border wall construction imminent, the center posted a two-minute video featuring a bobcat living in the facility's southern 70 acres that will be cut off by the barrier once it's built.

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A "chicken confinement system" in North Carolina. Friends of Family Farmers / CC BY-ND 2.0

North Carolina, a state known for the devastating environmental and public health impacts of industrial-scale hog production, now has more than twice as many poultry factory farms as swine operations, according to a new investigation from the Environmental Working Group and Waterkeeper Alliance.

The groups' research found that in 2018, manure from 515.3 million chickens and turkeys joined the waste from 9.7 million hogs already fouling waters and threatening North Carolinians' health. By scouring satellite data, examining U.S. Department of Agriculture imagery and conducting site visits, EWG and Waterkeeper experts identified more than 4,700 poultry and about 2,100 swine concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOS.

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"A Polar Bear's Struggle." Justin Hofman

The Natural History Museum in London announced on Wednesday the winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year: LUMIX People's Choice Award.

After counting 16,000 votes from nature fans, wildlife photographer David Lloyd's shot of a pair of nuzzling Serengeti lions, called Bond of Brothers, was crowned the top image.

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