Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bangladesh Holds Record Number of Tiger Attacks Due to Habitat Loss

A Bengal tiger in Dhaka's National Zoo

It has been found that Bangladesh has experienced a surge in tiger attacks primarily due to habitat loss. Last year's count showed that a total of fifty people have been killed, the largest record in the last century. In addition to habitat, Bangladesh's tigers also turned to human prey due to lack of natural food sources because of illegal poaching in the Sunderbans. According to Professor Anwarul Islam of Bangladesh Wildlife Trust, a survey was carried out on 800 families living along the fringes of the mangrove forests. During that survey, almost half of the villagers admitted in eating venison (deer meat) last year.

I hope that some alternative solutions will be planned, in order to prevent further tiger attacks. Bangladesh has recently been reported to be part of the 13-Nation Tiger Conservation Summit in St. Petersburg. And like eleven other nations, it will be discussing various strategies to save the species. In my opinion, Bangladesh's situation regarding its tiger attacks is a likely topic for this upcoming discussion and hopefully the nation will receive suggestions from its neighbors in order to save both its tigers and people from further conflicts.

View article here

Friday, July 30, 2010

India and Bangladesh to Participate in Global Move to Save Tigers

Royal Bengal Tiger

India and Bangladesh are both home to the Royal Bengal Tiger. The two nations share a vast stretch of mangrove forests known as the Sunderbans, which make up a prime tiger habitat. Now, the neighboring countries will be attending a tiger conservation function known as the 13-Nation Tiger Conservation Summit in St. Petersburg this September. The purpose of this meeting is to plan urgent measures to save the world's current tiger population. It has been reported that Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina may join the meeting. Other nations attending will be Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, and Russia. According to experts, the remaining populations of the world's tigers will become extinct by the next century unless strong and decisive measures are taken to save them.

To me, this report is a clear representation of the world's nations, known to have tigers, banding together to save the species from the brink of extinction. This will mean that representatives from each of these thirteen nations will discuss various tactics, in order to save the world's tigers. And I think they will be able to benefit from the help of tiger experts and conservationists. This way, the tiger will be saved from becoming extinct.

View article here

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Report on Mass Killings of Wildlife in Orissa's Simlipal Forest

Indian elephants

Bengal tiger
The central government of Orissa has recently issued out a report indicating last month's mass slayings of elephants by poachers in the Simlipal forest. To make matters worse, the forest staff destroyed the evidences as a way to hide the incidents. The report also added that Simlipal's wildlife population, including tigers and elephants, is drastically diminishing. This was provided with citations of field records and statements from the forest staff, including the field director. According to the report, Simlipal has also been suffering from Maoist attacks and said that local villagers had admitted their "presence" in the area. Although there were two Social Operational Groups (SOGs) stationed in the forest, they never carried out patrols with the forest staff. This way, poachers and smugglers were being greatly benefited from the Maoist rebels.

I have a feeling that Simlipal is in a great need of help. It has not just been suffering from poachers, but also attacks from extremists. Therefore, the lives of both the forest staff and wildlife are at stake. Simlipal was known to be the first national park to be placed under Project Tiger. But now, it seems that it's tiger population is under tremendous threat as poachers and Maoist rebels pour into the jungles. I can only hope that central government of Orissa, along with several conservation groups and perhaps the Indian government will team up together to place an end on not just poaching activities but also the repeated Maoist attacks that have been terrorizing the state for a long time.

View article here

Nepal Partners Up with India to Battle Illegal Wildlife Trade

Bengal tigress in Nepal's Chitwan National Park

Nepal had earlier joined hands with its northern neighbor China in an effort to curb the illegal wildlife trade. Now, it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with its southern neighbor as part of battling the environmental catastrophe. According to forest minister Deepak Bohara, Nepal has joined forces with twelve other tiger countries in order to help double the world's tiger population by the year 2022. The Nepalese government is also fully committed in controlling poaching activities, and increase wildlife habitats along with prey animals. As part of intensifying conservation efforts, the government has announced a new national park called Banke National Park in western Nepal. The nation has also taken various steps to combat the illegal wildlife trade, and as a result, the tiger population increased to 155 animals (last year's census recorded 91 animals).

I'm very proud to see that Nepal has been taking serious action, in order to protect its local wildlife. It's also very good to see that it has partnered up with India, along with China to battle the illegal wildlife trade. It goes to show how the nations home to tigers are banding together to protect each others native wildlife, and combat poaching activities that have been ravaging the world's wildlife for many years. I sure hope that this new national park announced by the Nepalese government will receive great protection from poachers and wildlife smugglers. But right now, it's good to know how Nepal has been committing to saving and protecting its natural heritage.

View article here

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Famed Tiger Expert Calls for Changes in Sunderbans Tiger Conservation

Bengal tiger

Veteran tiger expert and conservationist Fateh Singh Rathore had recently criticized the conservation methods for helping save Sunderbans' wild tigers. According to Mr. Rathore, just trapping and relocating tigers faraway from humans will not help. The animals will always somehow try to come back to the same places if they happen to be deep within their own territories. Mr. Rathore even pointed out that research on Sunderbans tigers is also vital in their conservation. In his words, Sunderbans' tigers are different than the ones elsewhere in India and there has not been any gathering of crucial facts such as their territory size or hunting habits. Mr. Rathore also criticized the use of technology for tiger census. He stated that counting Sunderbans' tiger population is difficult, compared to Ranthambore National Park where he is based. The use of camera traps and radio collars were found to be unsuited in the mangrove forests, as they could easily be destroyed or come off.

In addition to criticizing the methods, Mr. Rathore also made a suggestion in providing alternative earning opportunities for villagers living on the fringes of the Sunderbans. They have been depending on the forests as part of their livelihood, which brought them into close contact with tigers and resulted in several deaths. The Sunderbans have been experiencing rise in water levels due to climate change, forcing the farmers to rely heavily on the forests. As part of safety, Mr. Rathore recommended construction of solid walls as a way to decrease further attacks from tigers.

I'm very proud to see what all flaws Mr. Rathore pointed out in the Sunderbans tiger conservation. Being a tiger expert for many years, he really has the knowledge of helping to save India's wild tigers. This includes using the right techniques, and what all things to consider when saving the tiger. It's also very interesting to learn how different the Sunderbans are compared to other Indian wild places. One possibility is by the difference in their tigers' behavior. They may have different sizes in their territories, they might have different hunting habits compared to tigers elsewhere in India. There could be lots of reasons that set Sunderbans' tigers apart from others. I sure hope that conservationists active in the Sunderbans tiger conservation will find Mr. Rathore's feedback useful before continuing with their job.

View article here

Monday, July 26, 2010

High Hopes for Rare Otter

Asian small-clawed otter

On the island of Borneo in Indonesia, a photograph was taken of an otter which was originally thought to have become extinct. This otter, known as the hairy-nosed otter, is indigenous throughout Southeast Asia but increased hunting for its fur and meat along with destruction of wetlands pushed it to the brink of extinction. The last official sighting of the animal was in Borneo, but it was found dead on a road. It was then never seen on the island, or elsewhere in Southeast Asia. However, sightings have been recorded in Cambodia and Vietnam several years ago in turn raising hopes for the otter's survival. Another recent sighting took place in the Sabah state of Malaysia during the second half of 2008.

I'm very happy to see that a creature, thought to have been extinct many years ago, has been sighted again with hopes for survival. It reminds me of various new findings in biologically diverse jungles around the world in the past few years. Some of the animals were newly discovered, while others were thought to have been extinct long time ago. This otter is a perfect representation of wildlife thought to have perished long back, and has now been rediscovered. I also hope that this animal will be protected by conservation groups and wildlife officials throughout Southeast Asia from the ever-encroaching danger of the illegal wildlife trade.

View article here

Bushmeat Investigation in Chicago

Greater cane rat in Gabon

Federal authorities are investigating an African art store on Chicago's West Side, which had received a shipment of monkey heads and 24 dead cane rats. The animals were likely to have been victims of the illegal African bushmeat trade. The store had been raided last month by authorities, but no charges had been filed since. According to experts, the Windy City has become one of the western centers of the bushmeat trade. Conservationists even say that it is partially responsible for the decrease in numbers of chimpanzees and gorillas. In addition to that, experts had even warned of potential health hazards from monkey meat which includes a simian form of HIV. However, there are differences in opinions regarding the demand of bushmeat trade in North America and Europe. Also, some experts deny of such a virus contained in wild primate meat as there had not been any recorded cases of human transference.

I'm surprised to see that an illicit activity like the bushmeat trade can extend beyond its borders from the dark continent, and into the west. It's also surprising to know about a virus similar to HIV maybe contained inside meats of monkeys and apes. This could pose as a threat to consumers, and indicate how dangerous the bushmeat trade can be. But there have been differences in opinion about whether there really is an HIV-like virus in simian meat, or not. Also, it is unclear about how much impact the bushmeat trade has in North America and Europe. I can only hope that federal authorities will keep track of whatever shipment that enters the U.S, and check to see if any happens to contain exotic species from as far as Africa. That way, the country will know about its impact on the bushmeat trade.

View article here

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Surge in the Killings of Mexican Wolves

Mexican wolf

The states of Arizona and New Mexico have suffered tremendous losses of their local Mexican wolf populations, due to illegal poaching. Wildlife conservationists are urging for a stricter law enforcement for the protection of the remaining wolf population after a third wolf was killed near Arizona's eastern border. Part of must have contributed to the downfall of the wolf population was concern in livestock predation. The Mexican wolves, a subspecies of the gray wolf, were part of a recovery program in the American Southwest starting in 1998. The plan was to help recover the shrinking populations of the wolves in Arizona and New Mexico where they had once thrived. Biologists and conservationists hoped that the population would increase up to 100 animals. But now, the current population is fewer than half that number.

I sure hope that some serious action will be underway, in order for the protection of these wolves. Unlike their northern cousins, the Mexican wolves are still low in numbers and are in the great need of help. Since the plan to help recover the population began twelve years ago and had some positive impact, it seems now the only way is to ensure proper yet stronger law enforcement to keep illegal poaching of these magnificent animals at bay. At the same time, captive breeding can also help continue the population recovery along with educating the public on what significant roles the wolves play in the desert ecosystem.

View article here

World Wildlife Fund Names Dick Van Dyke as Year of the Tiger Ambassador

Dick Van Dyke

Everyone has heard of actor Dick Van Dyke from the sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show, and musical films like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins. The legendary actor has just been named a Year of the Tiger ambassador by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Mr. Van Dyke has joined a group of other celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Ethan Suplee (from current television sitcom My Name is Earl), who have joined forces with the WWF to help raise awareness and funds for the world's tiger conservation. According to Mr. Van Dyke, he was deeply stunned to find that the tiger population had shrunk over the years since his childhood days in the 1920s.

It's wonderful to see how all these celebrities are aware about such environmental issues affecting our planet. In this case, it is illegal poaching and the wildlife trade. I guess when celebrities like Dick Van Dyke and Leonardo DiCaprio step up to help raise awareness, it is one way to inspire the world's human population who look up to these people as their favorite heroes. However, one does not have to be a big celebrity to help with raising awareness about various issues. I believe that regular people can also be heroes. That is, if they come together as one major community and help each other by educating about the world's wildlife and what roles the animals play in their own natural ecosystems. They can also team up with various conservation groups like the WWF, and help them by providing donations in order to help save lives of various endangered species. This way, humans and animals can live in peace.

View article here

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sariska National Park Receives Tigress to Help Recover Breeding

A tigress brought to Sariska National Park from Ranthambore

Rajasthan's Sariska National Park had experienced a mass extinction of its tigers six years ago, due to extensive poaching. Later in 2008 and 2009, three tigers (one male and two females) were relocated to the national park from Ranthambore National Park. Unfortunately, the three animals turned out to be siblings. Just recently, Sariska's tiger breeding program was revived when another tigress from Ranthambore was shifted to the national park. But what made this plan successful was that it was the first time India had carried out genetic studies, in order to identify tigers suitable for the translocation. A DNA analysis was conducted on twelve samples of animal droppings from Ranthambore, and results showed that eight of them came from tigers. And out of the eight samples, two of them turned out to be positive. That is, they showed that those two tigers were not siblings. The tigress that was brought to Sariska was one of them.

I'm very happy to find that India is helping out with the recovery of its tiger population by using scientific techniques. Earlier, all the conservationists and officials were simply doing was randomly looking into various other national parks with good numbers of tigers and just asking them if they can translocate some to Sariska. This time, however, they became more scientific in their approach. I sure hope that they will keep up with this practice, and eventually the tiger population in Sariska National Park will once again flourish.  

View article here

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ohio Governor Calls for a Ban on Exotic Pets

A typical reaction from a captive tiger

Governor Ted Strickland has recently made a proposal in banning exotic pets in the state of Ohio. Many of these pets go from small foxes and wallabies, to huge pythons and big cats. Despite their cuddliness and beauty, owners of such "pets" end up abandoning them because they are too expensive to be taken care of and are known to be aggressive. Just like normal pets like cats and dogs, exotic pet owners have also been known to take their pets to the veterinarian. But instead of getting a regular check-up, these animals would end up having either their teeth or claws removed to avoid risking serious injuries to their owners or themselves. Governor Strickland eventually stated that this practice should be discontinued.

Another problem seen is that animal sanctuaries specializing in taking care of abandoned exotic pets would be unable to take more animals in and breeding them for repopulating the species. One example was seen in Ohio's Heaven's Corner Zoo and Sanctuary, in which the staff received a rare Amur leopard and hoped they would find a mate to help with repopulating the 30 remaining subspecies in the frozen forests of Siberia. According to Tim Harrison of Outreach for Animals, the Cincinnati Zoo should be able to take care of endangered species since it has the largest embryo and eggs facility.

I'm glad to see how the government of Ohio is acting up to place a ban on possession of exotic pets in the state. This goes to show how the United States is taking a proactive step in helping save lives of both people and animals. However, there are several other states across the U.S where there maybe exotic pets living a miserable life away from their natural homelands. I sure hope that those states with exotic pet owners will one day join forces with the ones like Ohio and Florida, and help in placing ban on ownership of exotic pets.

View article here

Monday, July 19, 2010

Man Arrested in Mexico for Possession of 18 Monkeys

Titi monkey

A Mexican citizen named Roberto Sol Cabrera was arrested at the international airport in Mexico City for the possession of eighteen tiny South American titi monkeys. The animals were hidden inside Senor (Mr.) Sol Cabrera's clothes around his waist as a way to avoid contact from the "X-rays" at security checkpoints. Out of the eighteen animals, two had died due to suffocation after the confiscation. Mr. Sol Cabrera had bought each monkey from Peru for $30.00. In Mexico, they could have sold for between $775 and $1550. He is now currently in custody.

This report gives a good idea about one of the branches of the illegal wildlife trade: the pet trade. The tropical rainforests of Central and South America are known to boast with a bountiful of exotic wildlife. Some of these animals are prone to be sold as exotic pets to buyers up north. These animals primarily include monkeys and parrots. What Sol Cabrera had done showed just how buyers try to secretly smuggle their "pets" beyond the borders: by hiding them in their clothes. Sol Cabrera hid the monkeys in his girdle and socks around his waist. Even when they are sure that their pets will be safe, smugglers still end up killing them.

View article here

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Arabian Oryx Reserve to be Set Up in United Arab Emirates

Arabian oryx

The city of Abu Dhabi has decided to set up a reserve for the magnificent Arabian oryx. This rare antelope was once labeled as EW (Extinct in the Wild) during the 1960s, due to extensive hunting and loss of habitat. Thankfully, captive breeding had helped reboost the population as several animals were released in protected sanctuaries in Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. This time, United Arab Emirates has taken the initiative of helping with the protection of the oryx. This new reserve, named the Al Sarab Reserve, is currently located near the Qasr Al Sarab Hotel close to the Saudi border. It is expected to be spread around 304 square kilometers, which is nearly half the size of Bahrain's area. In addition to oryx, the reserve will boast a bounty of other wildlife such as gazelles and birds especially the endangered houbara bustard.

I'm very happy to see how U.A.E is active in the protection of Middle East's flagship species, the Arabian oryx. It has normally been thought that U.A.E is famous for its hotels and luxury, but now there is another feature that has made the nation even more beautiful: its desert wildlife. It feels wonderful to see how Middle East's people are committed to the cause of preserving and saving its natural ecosystem. With this new desert reserve underway, there will be a good chance for the Arabian oryx population to continue growing. This way, the entire Arabia will once again blossom with its wildlife as it did generations ago.

View article here

Illegal Limestone Mining Bust Near Gir Forest National Park

An Asiatic lion family

The Gir Forest National Park in the state of Gujarat has been and still is the last stronghold of the Asiatic lion. Ever since its disappearance from central and northwestern India, Gir Forest has always remained its sanctuary where it slowly and slowly began to thrive. In the midst of the 21st century, the lion population of Gujarat had increased dramatically and began to spill beyond the national park's borders and into the Junagadh district. This led to worries of man-lion conflict from local villagers living close to the park. Thankfully, there was help. Last month, conservationists and forest officials made a plan to establish breeding centers for the prey species of the lions to prevent conflict with people.

While it seems the Asiatic lion has hope for survival, the world outside Gir Forest still spells trouble. In this case, it is limestone mining. The mining department of Junagadh had just recently lodged a complaint against a group of nine people after conducting a survey in affected areas. The perpetrators had been carrying out activities in the village of Alidhar, which was close to the national park. Out of the nine suspects, three have been arrested but the remaining will later be. However, Alidhar was not the only village to be used as a mining site. Three more villages near Gir Forest were used, as quarry owners attempted to illegally dig 1.23 lakh tonnes of limestone. In addition to that, thirteen more villages near the national park's border are on the list for illegal mining.

I sure hope that officials will continue to take some serious and proactive action against illegal limestone mining near Gir Forest. This was the first time the law enforcement had acted quickly and made arrests. Earlier, all the police had done was simply issue FIRs (First Information Reports) and never made arrests due to pressure from the so-called "mining mafia." According to this year's census, 74 lions were counted to be outside Gir Forest and unless serious action is taken, many will risk perishing in the mine quarries.

View article here

Educational and Investigative Combination to Save the Dugong

A dugong in its natural habitat

In the Great Barrier Reef, an educational program along with a series of investigations are being put together as a way to combat the illegal poaching of the dugong (a highly aquatic marine mammal also known as a "sea cow"). The idea for the formation of this project involved two incidents: an Australian Navy vessel had found a fishing net with the animals trapped inside, and another by its owners. According to the Barrier Reef authorities, several communities indigenous to the north area have been helping out with the investigations. Dugongs, who are also the eastern relatives of manatees (sea cows of western coastal tropics), are highly endangered and have been hunted for their meat and blubber. They also risk serious injuries and even death when coming into contact with motorboat propellers, or fishing nets.

I'm very happy to see how people living along the Great Barrier Reef are working together as a community to save one of the reef's most magnificent treasures. It is also interesting to see how the native people have also pitched in to help out. Even though they have been living in the area for generations, they have also kept up with the times. This led them to abandon their traditional tactic of fishing by nets. This way, it will help the Barrier Reef's dugong population to flourish along with education and protection.

View article here

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lack of Resources Likely Cause of Increased Rhino Poaching

White rhinos

South Africa has been suffering lately for its surge in rhino poaching. According to one report, the reason for such a catastrophe is due to lack of specialist police units who have disbanded in 2003. Since then, there has not been any alternative to protect South Africa's rhinos and combat illegal poaching. In addition to that, current employees and people wanting to help have also been unable to do so due to lack of funding, experience, and equipment. I have a feeling that South Africa is in a great need of help in saving and protecting its rhino populations. I just hope that the government and minister will soon come to talks regarding this situation, and maybe help the nation out some way. Also, apart from that, it would also be useful if South Africa could turn to its neighbors up north for help.

View article here

Experts Warn of Leopards Threatened to Extinction

An Indian leopard on the forest road

In India, during recent times, it has mostly been the tiger that has got wildlife experts and conservationists deeply worried for being threatened to extinction. This has been seen in numerous cases of illegal poaching and the wildlife trade, including the one which took place almost six years in Rajasthan's Sariska National Park. At that time, not a single tiger was seen and there was no other sign of its existence. It was later found that poaching had played a major role in the demise of Sariska's tiger population. It later went on to show how serious this problem of poaching and wildlife trade has and always been to India's biodiversity.

But there is another creature which has also been suffering the same decline as the tiger: the leopard. Like its larger relative, the leopard has also been the victim of poaching and the wildlife trade; even though it is one of the most widespread of the four species of big cats in India. The animal's range across the nation had also put it close to human settlements, resulting in man-animal conflict. This often leads to the leopard's death, in turn causing the population to further fluctuate. This had been seen in one case from the Banaskantha district in Gujarat when villagers cornered and beat a leopard to death after it injured nine people.

I can only hope that forest departments in every Indian state where leopards live will team up with experts and conservationists who specialize in the animals, and plan tactics in order to prevent the populations from further decline (Maharashtra has definitely been the focus of attention for its man-leopard conflicts). In addition to just capturing and releasing leopards faraway from civilization, they could also try to educate the public about the animals and what roles they play in the ecosystem. Plus, even help some towns and villages with some kind of security to keep leopards out without actually killing them.

View article here

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pangolins Seized in China

Pangolin embryos

Chinese authorities made a macabre discovery after seizing a cargo containing a whopping nearly 8,000-tonne load of pangolins (scaly anteaters). What made the situation even more sadistic was that the victims were in their embryonic stages, and were almost bound to be served as delicacies. It was believed that consuming a pangolin would help mothers with breastfeeding. But then as with every other wild creature, the belief in such remedies through consumption is an illusion. This is certainly a genuine, yet horrific representation of the illegal wildlife trade. It is not just healthy grown animals that are victims, but also young ones often in their developing stages.

I'm very appalled to find how ruthless such operators of this illicit and lucrative business are. Based on this article, many of them are not just criminals but also baby-killers. I sure hope this report may also be a reminder to not just toughen the anti-poaching laws, but also allow authorities to further combat illegal poaching in places where the wildlife trade is sweeping.

View article here

Monday, July 12, 2010

Seven Bears Killed by Poachers in Nepal

Himalayan black bears

In Nepal's Panchthar District, seven bears were counted to have been killed by poachers last year. The animals have been said to enter the district's villages from the forests of Singhalila National Park (in the Indian state of West Bengal) just across the border. According to the villagers, the poachers would continue to kill the bears when no compensation was paid for a crop or an attack. In my opinion, this goes to show what consequences occur when a community relies on criminals for protection. In this case, the poachers would do what they normally do best; and that's continue the onslaught of illegally killing the endangered wildlife in Nepal and the Indian subcontinent. I sure hope that Nepal's forest department, along with forest officials will plan tactics in order to keep the bears safe from poachers and relocate them in safe areas away from human habitation.

View article here

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Red Wolves Threatened in their North Carolina Homeland

Red wolf

It has been twenty years since a conservation program to restore the rare red wolf, a smaller cousin of the mighty gray wolf, from the brink of extinction in the state of North Carolina. But now, these truly unique and rare subspecies are being persecuted by the locals resulting in their decline. At one time, red wolves ranged throughout the southeastern corners of U.S but years of persecution dwindled their population.  They are now found nowhere else but in the state of North Carolina. Just like it's larger relative, the red wolf is facing persecution as of now by local residents as a vermin. In addition to humans, other threats include vehicle collisions and cases of mistaken identities where hunters and landowners mistake these wolves for coyotes (North American equivalents of jackals). Yet surprisingly, during the early stages of restoring the red wolf population, conservationists mated the surviving individuals with coyotes. This led to some critics believing that red wolves are not genuine wolves, but coyote-hybrids.

I can just hope and pray that the conservation effort to repopulate the red wolf population comes up with some solutions to prevent the species (or subspecies) from continuing to dwindle. Maybe one way to prevent such a downfall would be to educate the public about the animals, and what roles they play in the native ecosystems. It would also help to how to distinguish these canids from coyotes. This is because the red wolf is one of the most critically endangered species in the U.S. Without its existence, how will the wilderness areas of North Carolina be able maintain their ecological balance. The only other "predators" in North America are black bears, foxes, bobcats and coyotes, who tend to have more omnivorous feeding habits than the red wolves.

View article here

Thursday, July 8, 2010

New Species of Batfish Discovered in Gulf of Mexico

A newly-discovered batfish species

The B.P oil spill of the Gulf of Mexico had tremendously damaged its marine life. However, during the cleanup and relocation of marine life, researchers made a fascinating discovery: two new species of batfish (a type of flatfish). Before that, there was only one known species of this fish. They were named for their way of crawling on the bottom which was similar to that of a bat. Another interesting fact was that all three species were previously considered as one species. But now, scientists have classified them as three distinctive species.  It's amazing how when a major environmental disaster affects a biome can wield new and unusual surprises. I certainly hope that like all other marine animals, these newly discovered species will be protected from the oil spill. So that marine biologists and researchers will get a chance to study these fish when the gulf is cleaned of the oil.

View article here

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Father and Son Convicted for Poaching a Bighorn Sheep in Colorado

Bighorn sheep

A father-son duo from Arvada, Colorado have been convicted and fined for illegally poaching a bighorn sheep two years ago. The two men have also been suspended their rights to either hunt and fish anywhere in the U.S. They were seen by DOW (Division of Wildlife) agents with the sheep's head strapped to their luggage and a hunting rifle held by the son. The father, Henry Butler, has faced multiple charges three months ago ranging from hunting without a license to illegal possession of wildlife. 

This news, in my opinion, gives a clear representation of how laws regarding wildlife protection and management function in the U.S. Perpetrators are usually sentenced to as many as three months behind bars. This is very different from laws in exotic places like Africa and tropical Asia, where penalties are much stiffer. Another interesting fact I saw in this article was that the bighorn sheep is Colorado's state animal. This is different from California, where the grizzly bear is the state animal and has long been extinct. Seeing a magnificent creature like the bighorn sheep in Colorado makes me think how lucky the state's residents are for having it as a state animal still flourishing after generations.

View article here

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ukraine's European Bison Threatened to Extinction

European bison

Many say that when they think of the word 'bison,' it is the so-called "American buffalo" which once numbered in millions throughout North America and later dwindled due to a fierce competition by the Native Americans and early settlers. However, half way across the world in Europe, there is another species of bison that suffered the same fate as its western cousin: the European bison. At one point, it had been labeled as "extinct in the wild" but later recovered thanks to captive breeding and reintroduction into Poland's forests.

While Poland's bison population is currently stable, Ukraine's population is a completely different story. It has been found that although they are an endangered species, people still continue to hunt them. In addition to bullets, the animals are also threatened by disease and food shortage. Even more worse is that Ukraine has not been receiving enough funding from its government, which resulted in forest officials not wanting to keep the animals and that money was needed for their food. Therefore, the bison have been forced to raid crops bringing them vulnerable to danger from angry farmers.

I feel that Ukraine is in a great need of help regarding its bison population. I think one way it might help is if the nation could collaborate with Poland and other central European countries known to house bison in their forests. That way, they will be able to come up with solutions to save Ukraine's bison population from the brink of extinction.

View video here

Tiger Conservation Meeting to be held in Indonesia


The island of Bali will be hosting a crucial meeting regarding tiger conservation for three days. This meeting is going to be attended by tiger experts, representatives, and senior government officials from thirteen countries home to wild tigers. The goals of this meeting are to come up with solutions, in order to convey the message of threats tigers are facing and even help double the population by the year 2022 (the next year of the tiger). This is a clear representation of how different nations come together in talks to discuss one global dilemma affecting our world: the current state of its tiger population. I'm very happy that all these nations known to have tigers in their wild lands team up together, and plan solutions to help save and protect these magnificent creatures. Also, the meeting will consist of tiger experts who are going to help with their knowledge about the animals so that no mistakes will be made while planning out the solutions.

View article here

Monday, July 5, 2010

Leopard Beaten to Death after Injuring Nine

Indian leopard

In Gujarat's Banaskantha district, a leopard had strayed into a village locality and injured nine people including a forest guard. The animal was about to be tracked down to be tranquilized and then released faraway from the village. Unfortunately, the villagers had been beaten it to death by the villagers. This is truly a shocking and devastating news for me. One reason is because the animal was an endangered species. The second reason, which is more reasonable, is that a posse of forest officers, police, and forest department officials were about to relocate the victim somewhere safe. But it seemed that the villagers could no longer tolerate such encounters, and were forced to retaliate. I just hope that in the future, the forest department will educate the villagers on what to do when there is a man-animal conflict in their village. It would be wise to immediately notify the forest department when such incidents happen.

View article here

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Two More Injured in a Tiger Attack in Maharashtra

Bengal tiger

Recently, the same frail tigress who had injured one person in Maharashtra's Tadoba Andheri National Park has attacked two more people after forest officials tranquilized and released her away from the villagers. The animal was then again tracked down, tranquilized, and was taken for a check-up. Later, it will be decided whether the animal will be shifted to a zoo in Nagpur.

I sure am relieved to see that the tigress is safe. I'm also happy that forest officials along with the police had come up with an alternative solution to keep both the animal and villagers safe out of harm's way. However, I'm also little bit worried whether this animal may have a reputation of being a man-eater or not. But for now, all is well. I also hope that in the future, forest officials in Tadoba Andheri National Park will keep monitoring its tigers to check for any signs of disability and help those in need. That way, both the villagers and animals will be able to live peacefully.

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Bangladesh Raises Question of Tougher Laws to Save its Tigers

Bengal tiger

Bangladesh has come up with a topic of enforcing laws similar to the one's its neighbor India has, in order to save its tigers. Wildlife experts and enthusiasts persuaded the nation's government to revise the Wildlife Protection Act, in which poachers only end up serving two years in jail. Both India and Bangladesh share a complex and mysterious delta known as the Sunderbans, which is home to the largest number of Bengal tigers than anywhere else in the Indian Subcontinent. Although many of the tigers have earned an infamous reputation as man-eaters, they are still threatened like others. One of the issues that may lead to Sunderbans' tigers turning to humans is the depletion of prey species, which in this case, is spotted deer.

I sure hope that like India, Bangladesh will come up with a much stronger law with stiffer penalties in order to help save its tigers. Because even though they are man-eaters, they still count as threatened species in our world. And while it's clear that there are several factors which lead to them turning towards humans as prey, one of them happens to be loss of their natural prey species. This type of factor was also seen in the case of the Indian wolf.

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tiger Attack Leads to a Mob Frenzy

Bengal tiger

In Maharashtra's Tadoba Andheri Tiger Reserve, an ailing tigress attacked and seriously injured a villager which led to a mob of angry villagers beat up two forest officers. This was an extremely dangerous situation, as the animal was old and frail which also indicates that it could be a man-eater. Even more horrifying was that the victim attempted to drive the animal away when he saw it. Looks can be deceiving, huh?

This was not the only incident where villagers living in rural India suddenly turn towards forest officials in anger. Few weeks ago, villagers held protests towards forest officials in Orissa's Bhitarkanika National Park after a saltwater crocodile took a woman's life. The reason for that was because all the villagers living in the area had suffered heartbreaking losses of their own people to the gigantic reptiles in these past few months. This issue, along with the one involving a tigress gives an idea how a community feels when a wild creature either seriously injures or even kills its own member. In the case of Tadoba's and Bhitarkanika's villagers, it seemed like revenge. I can only hope and pray that some alternative solutions would be put into action, and it can be more than just monitoring the perpetrators responsible for such gruesome deeds. Hopefully, the forest department in both the places may find some way(s) to keep the villagers safe from the predators.

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Tiger Attack in Ranthambore National Park

Tiger in Ranthambore National Park, India

A man was fatally mauled to death by a tiger in Rajasthan's famed Ranthambore National Park while he had gone out to collect firewood. This was the second time a tiger attack had occurred in the national park in three months. When I heard about the first tiger attack in the national park, I felt very shocked as with any man-animal conflict. But this second incident made me worry. Will Ranthambore's tigers be next in line to turn into man-eaters? For generations, the Sunderbans National Park of West Bengal and Bangladesh have been notorious for its tiger attacks as people rely on the forests for food and living. I sure hope that the forest department of Rajasthan with help from conservationist groups may come up with a solution to keep both people and tigers safe from harm's way.

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Hawaii Bans Shark Fin Harvesting

Shark fins confiscated

Just recently a law banning the harvesting of shark fins took into effect in Hawaii. This bill not only made the harvesting process illegal, but also selling, possessing, and distributing of shark fins as well. It is truly a wonderful moment for me to see that one of the islands in the South Pacific has taken a proactive step against a devastating environmental issue that's affecting our world's oceans. But elsewhere, shark fin harvesting is still a major threat to the ocean life.

Hawaii has long been viewed as paradise on earth with its sunshine, beaches, and surf. Now there is another characteristic that makes it a special place: it's conservation efforts. First, it was to help save and protect its own native wildlife such as the Hawaiian goose and the monk seal. Now, Hawaii has taken a step further in conservation of a more diverse ocean species: the sharks. This is definitely something to feel proud of.

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'South Africa's Rhinos Safe--For Now,' says SANParks Head

White rhinos in Kruger National Park, South Africa

South Africa has been suffering with a soaring increase in rhino poaching, losing a total of 124 animals this year. According to Dr. David Mabunda, chief executive of SANParks (South African National Parks), the nation's rhino deaths represented only small percentages of the total rhino population. However, he also firmly persuaded the public to keep a sharp look-out for any suspicious activities in South Africa's wild lands. I think in addition to urging the public, Dr. Mabunda could have also asked for collaboration with other African nations in order to crack down on these illegal poaching activities decimating South Africa's rhinos. That way, South Africa's rhinos would be safe from the greedy hands of poachers.

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