Friday, August 26, 2011

U.S Court of Appeals Rejects Environmental Action to Halt Wolf Hunts

A mother wolf nursing her cubs in Yellowstone National Park

The battle against allowing wolf hunting in the states of Idaho and Montana has been met with the biggest disappointment for various conservation groups, who took the matter to the Ninth U.S Circuit Court of Appeals. The outcome was that the court rejected the groups' plan to halt the hunts in those two states. More than 1,500 wolves were delisted from the endangered species list. This, in turn, gave both the states a right to control their populations in legislation to a stopgap budget bill approved by the Congress in April. The move came amidst a battle between the groups and the U.S government on whether the animals had recovered successfully in the northern Rocky Mountains.
A northern Rocky Mountains wolf

Several environmental groups sought to overturn this congressional action, in which the animals were delisted through registration instead of a scientific review. Among the groups included WildEarth Guardians and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, who petitioned the court in order to restore federal protection to the wolves. On August 13th, they asked the court to temporarily halt the hunting and trapping of the animals until the case was decided on its merits. However, much to their dismay, the three-judge panel agreed with the administration which consisted of both the states along with hunting and farm groups that the hunts will not jeopardize the wolves' recovery. According to WildEarth Guardians' executive director John Horning, although they were discouraged by the loss, they are cautiously optimistic in winning the lawsuit to protect the animals from future persecution.
Elk (real name "wapiti") is targeted both by wolves and human hunters

I'm personally disappointed as well by the decision made by the court. Although the agreement made will promise no endangerment in the recovery of wolves, it will not always be as hoped. The move will open a window of opportunity to radical misfits who will do whatever they can to simply eradicate the species. For these individuals, it would be the only way to prevent any further livestock predation and competition for any big game (in this case, elk). A similar situation is going on in Sweden where wolves are under a severe threat of undetected poaching. One of the reasons is may be due to competition for their food source, the moose, which is also a target for Swedish hunters. I fear that what is happening to wolves in Sweden would also happen to their North American counterparts.

View article here

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Illegal Ownership of Endangered Species Still on the Rise in Abu Dhabi

The cheetah is one of several animals illegally sold in U.A.E as pets

Abu Dhabi is known to be one of most the richest cities in the world. The capital city of the U.A.E is famous for being the major center of commercial and cultural activities, as well as industrial and political. Like its sister emirate Dubai, Abu Dhabi is known for its luxurious hotels, upscale restaurants, and a thumping nightlife. But this bustling metropolis has a dark side. In June 2010, authorities seized fifteen cheetahs, fifteen baboons, and two striped hyenas illegally owned by the city's residents. In spite of a federal law enforcing punishments of fining 50,000 dirham and six months imprisonment of illegally purchasing, selling, and even sheltering endangered species, the numbers of such ownership are still on the rise.
A Hamadryas baboon in captivity

An annual report sent by the U.A.E to CITES last year showed that 313 animals and birds, considered most endangered and at risk of extinction, were found in the city. They included 128 tortoises, 65 falcons (including two Saker falcons), 71 parrots, 38 houbara bustards (found dead), five monkeys and five bush babies, and one Hamadryas baboon. According to Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, secretary general of Abu Dhabi's Environment Agency (EAD), many people do not realize that the illegal wildlife trade is one of the major causes of species extinction. The EAD is now working on the report with full figures for 2010 to be released later this year. Deputy manager of CITES Scientific Authority at EAD Abdulrab Al Hemari pointed out that keeping of such exotic pets in U.A.E has become something of a status symbol. He further added that the solution to this issue should be through education, as well as law enforcement, and many animals carry zoonotic diseases which can easily spread to humans.
A houbara bustard

This article, in my opinion, gives a clear representation about the dangers of the illegal wildlife trade in Abu Dhabi. Several endangered species are being illegally sold as pets to local residents, who see them as symbols of their status. They include beautiful animals like the cheetah, which was once a favorite pet among emperors thousands of years ago. But now, it is a different story. Rather than running wild in its natural habitat, the cheetah has found itself confined inside a local residency deep in the concrete jungles of Abu Dhabi. In addition to that, the houbara bustard used to be a favorite target for Arab falconers who used to hunt it for its meat which was valued as an aphrodisiac. Now, it faces a new threat of illegal pet ownership. Ironically, falcons, which were used as hunting companions in the past, meet the same fate as their prey. The impact of the illegal wildlife trade in Abu Dhabi not only threatens the lives of animals, but people too. According to Mr. Al Hemari, neither the buyer nor a seller can be sure whether an animal has been professionally health-checked or not. This, in turn, puts people in the danger of diseases like monkeypox. This is why I believe it is crucial for the U.A.E to raise public awareness about the dangers of the illegal wildlife trade through education. If this illicit business continues to flourish, it would have an impact on the city so great that it will affect its foreign relations with other nations as well as domestic relations.

View article here 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

World Wildlife Fund Calls for Urgent Action to Save Cambodia's Dolphins

An Irrawaddy dolphin in the Mekong River

A recent research by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has revealed that the population of the Irrawaddy dolphin in Cambodia's Mekong River is on the brink of extinction. The research showed that just 85 animals currently remain, putting them on the brink of extinction. As proof of the investigation, researchers uncovered that the survival rate of dolphin calves was very slow. Li Lifeng, director of WWF's Freshwater Program, stated that the research was based on identifying the animals through individually unique features of their dorsal fins which is used to estimate the population size. The recent population estimate was found to be slightly higher than the previous one, but researchers indicated that it had not increased over the last few years. Mr. Li further added that very few youngsters survive to adulthood once the adults die off. He also stated that pressures of gill net entanglement and high calf mortality rate has left the team worried about the dolphins' future.
Fishing has contributed to the downfall of these dolphins

I'm also very much shocked to find out about the plight of these dolphins. But what really surprised me is that a man named Touch Seang Tana, who is the chairman of Cambodia's Commission for Conservation and Development of Mekong River Dolphins Eco-Tourism Zone, rejected WWF's finding. He stated that four dolphins were killed last year as a result of fishing nets, but seven newborns were found. He further added that the total population of these dolphins has now numbered between 155 and 177 from 100 animals in 2006. I personally do not know which theory is true, but based on this article, I can say that Irrawaddy dolphins are in a great need of help. Earlier, it was believed that the Yangtze River dolphin was declared "extinct" by researchers and no one knows to this day about the animal's status. But now, these dolphins are on the verge of extinction. Without any urgent action, their populations will disappear.

View article here

Maharashtra to Set Up Protection Task Force for the Great Indian Bustard

Great Indian bustard

The great Indian bustard has been labeled as a critically endangered species due to threats of habitat destruction and low genetic diversity, particularly in the Indian state of Maharashtra. But now, this magnificent bird is facing hope as a task force will be set up for its protection. This task force will be set up under the chairmanship of Patangrao Kadam, the state forests minister. He told that the purpose of the force will be to toughen the conservation of these great birds. It will be a multidisciplinary team consisting of academicians, experts, NGOs, and officers from the forest department who will investigate various problems with the conservation and suggest solutions for improvements.

Minister Kadam further added that in order to create public awareness, a book on bustard information will be distributed among schoolchildren. In addition to that, habitat management for breeding of the bird will be taken up in other places in which core areas will be identified. He was also keen on the issue of shortage of forest guards, in which he added that a recruitment of 1,600 forest guards will take place. This way, the strength in staff will be increased for monitoring. According to M.K Rao, Pune's chief conservator of forests, once the force is formed, it will commence a great deal of conservation measures as its guiding standards. He further added that the forest department is currently working on proper habitat management that the areas are free of disturbance and have appropriate climatic condition. Pramod Patil, director of the Great Indian Bustard Foundation, praised the movement saying Maharashtra will be the first state to have such a task force. He further added that it will help in the planning and development of directions, which will go a long way in protection of the birds.

I'm very happy and proud to see what step Maharashtra has taken, in order to help the great Indian bustard. Not only has it established a partnership with the local people, but will soon form a task force committed to the cause of reviving the last remaining populations of these birds. There are currently 300 of these birds in India, with 30-35 in Maharashtra alone. These birds are facing a massive decline in population due to habitat loss, change in crop pattern, and other developmental activities. But now, with the establishment of this task force underway, the birds are now on the verge of facing a bright future. I was amazed to see that as part of public awareness, a book about bustards will be given to local children. This is a prime example of inspiring and encouraging the younger generation about the importance of caring for and conserving the local ecosystem and the wildlife that makes its home there. In addition to that, I was also impressed to see that part of this procedure will be a recruitment of forest guards. This will help put in prevention of any poaching activities of the bustards. Overall, I have a feeling that this movement will guarantee a better and safe future for the Indian bustard. However, I also believe that if Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and other states that house this bird will follow this example, it would help increase the its population of India.

View article here

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Trust Fund to Protect African Elephants Launched at U.N-Backed Meeting

An African elephant herd in Tanzania's Mikumi National Park

Recently, a U.N-backed meeting was held in the city of Geneva concerning the plight of endangered species around the world. This meeting was concluded with important decisions to protect these creatures, and even included the launching of a trust fund ensured for the long-term survival of Africa's elephant population. It had been reported that several nations had already contributed to the multi-donor technical trust for the execution of the African Elephant Action Plan. In addition to that, more were encouraged to do so by the meeting's participants who were part of the CITES' Standing Committee. According to CITES' Secretary-General John E. Scanlon, the committee hopes the donors will hear Africa's needs and support the execution of the plan. He also added that the goal is to raise $100 million over the next three years to amend the capacity of law enforcement, and secure the long-term survival of the elephants' populations.

I'm very happy to see that various global conservation experts decided to implement a plan to help the African elephant population in this meeting backed by the U.N. In addition to that, it was interesting to see what other conservation issues were part of the agenda. These included measures to reduce the current levels of poaching of rhinos, tigers and other big cats, illegal trade in mahogany and other timber, the plight of the sturgeon and the caviar trade, and the issue of reptile skins in the leather industry. The committee even looked at recent findings concerning both African and Asian elephants, poaching levels, and the illegal trade in ivory. It also recognized the poaching of rhinos and the illegal trade of their horns as a major challenge requiring cutting-edge approach. One delegation even described the as "almost out of control." I personally think the situation itself is out of control, particularly in South Africa and the surrounding areas where rhino populations had plummeted dramatically over the last few years. I sure hope that, in addition to elephants, this meeting will call for a similar action in helping the current population of rhinos and other endangered species around the world.

Illegal Poaching Threatens Sweden's Wolves

A Eurasian wolf in Sweden

It has been recently reported that populations of wolves in Sweden have been threatened due to poaching. A study has shown that more than half of all deaths were a result of such illegal activities with two-thirds going undetected in the last decade. Since then, the populations of the Eurasian wolf has been struggling to survive. According to Chris Carbone of London's Zoological Society, the study represents a crucial step in trying to measure the threat. This study predicted each year's wolf counts based on counts from the previous year by using radio-tracked animals and the "footprint count." The research team took wolf mortality cases into account such as, road kills, disease, and those found killed. But while comparing actual wolf numbers to expected numbers based on their models, the team found that the population was being overestimated. One of the members named Guillaume Chapron, stated that cryptic (undetected) poaching was the main factor in the differences in numbers, calling it the "tip of the iceberg." The team was based at the Grimso Wildlife Research Station and said that wolf numbers were supposed to have increased to 1,000 in 2009. In addition to poaching, the animals are also suffering from inbreeding and reproductive issues.
Eurasian wolf in Denmark

I'm very much shocked to see what the global population of wolves has been going through these past years. In North America, these animals are part of a debate that has pitted politicians and conservationists against one another in a fight to whether to delist them as endangered species or keep them as endangered species. While in Sweden, they have been suffering dramatically as a result of poaching incidences going undetected. The impact of this catastrophe has even led to the Swedish government to put a "temporary halt" on the nation's wolf hunts. Sweden allowed wolf hunting for the first time in more than forty years since last year. However, this move did not sit well with the European Union who claimed that the hunts violated an EU directive. I believe this idea opened up a window of opportunity for hunters seeking to decimate the populations when finding out the animals were competing against them for other big game animals such as elk (called "moose" in North America). In my opinion, this article gives a clear idea of what would happen to wolves in North America if they were stripped of their endangered species status and be targets for such hunts concerning livestock predation and competition for prey. There will always be individuals with intentions of simply annihilating the species so that they can hunt other prey species without any sort of competition.

View article here

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cheetah to be Reintroduced in India's Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary

A cheetah in its natural habitat

The cheetah has been widely noted for its grace, beauty, and speed for generations. When most people think about this feline, they mainly associate it with Africa. However, it had one time ranged from Africa to southern Asia. Coincidentally, the word "cheetah" derives from a Sanskrit word meaning "spotted one." This lean and swift creature was once a prized companion for emperors and maharajas during the Mughal Empire, who used it to hunt fast game such as blackbuck and gazelles. Unfortunately, as time progressed, its population began to deplete rapidly all over India and the Middle East. By 1947, India had lost its last cheetah amidst the period of independence from Britain. However, India considered to reintroduce the animal in early 2000s but the project could not be put into action after Iran refused to give its pair of cheetahs to India for cloning. But now since 2009, India has become keen in bringing the cheetah back; only this time it was going to be through importation of the African species from some nations. The goal was to breed the ones imported in captivity, and then release them in India's protected semi-arid habitats.

One recent site for reintroduction is the Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The plan will be to translocate cheetahs from Namibia to this sanctuary located in Sheopur district. Sartaj Singh, Forest Minister of Madhya Pradesh, hopes that if all goes well according to plan, the cheetah would be brought by either the end of December to early January. He further added that surveys had been done and experts were in favor of the project. At the same time, a team of experts from Namibia visited the 344.686 square kilometer-sanctuary with local conservationists and senior forest department officials to work on the reintroduction strategy.

Although I'm very happy to see that Madhya Pradesh has confirmed a location to reintroduce cheetahs, I'm only concerned about how this plan will go together with the Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project. Minister Singh stated in this article that both the animals will coexist in Palpur-Kuno. However, it has been noted that cheetah has the highest mortality rate than any other animal. In fact, 90% of cheetah cubs do not survive to adulthood due to predation by lions and other powerful predators. My feeling is that suppose if this project will go along with that of the Asiatic lion, there would be a fair chance the lion will dominate over the cheetah. This would in turn spell disaster for India's cheetah reintroduction. I personally think that if conservationists and experts want to bring the cheetah to Palpur-Kuno, then they should put the plan to bring lions there on hold for sometime. Both these are the main conservation projects in India, and if one is affected in any significant way, then it would have a huge impact on the nation's conservation.

In addition to that, I'm also concerned about the status of the local Sahariya tribe living in the surrounding area. Ever since the Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project was implemented, several members of this tribe were relocated to edge of the sanctuary where they live poverty. I also believe that, in order to revive populations of both the people and the cheetahs, there should be a plan to establish a buffer zone in the sanctuary for the tribe and a core zone for the animals. Before being forced to relocate, these tribes had access to various necessities like water but now they do not simply because of this idea of lion/cheetah reintroduction being given more attention to.

View article here 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

South Florida Wildlife Officers Capture Poachers via Facebook

Earlier in one of my posts, I had written about a group of New Zealand teenagers who were caught via Facebook after posting photos of them posing with a leopard seal they had killed. But now, there is a similar story in the U.S where wildlife officers are using the social networking site to capture poachers in South Florida. In order to capture them, officers go undercover by creating fake accounts to befriend the perpetrators. Though most often they access to their photos through their friends' accounts, who tip them off. In addition to photos, investigators also use comments and videos of poachers as evidence to indict them. The Florida Wildlife and Conservation Commission (FWC) established its very own internet crimes unit in late 2009, due to numerous cyber-related calls. In 2010, the unit made 177 arrests and gave 92 warnings.
Brian Spuler; one of several people arrested via Facebook

The commission's most recent capture occurred this June. 18-year-old Brian Spuler of Port St. Lucie was arrested after posting a photo of himself with a snook that appeared to have been killed with a spear gun. He was charged with taking the fish out of season, and with an illegal method. But, he pleaded no contest in taking the fish out of season and the charge of using an illegal method was dropped. However, he was fined $350 and sentenced to six months probation. According to Spuler himself, he did not know that it was illegal to fish at that time and that officers had violated his privacy. Similar feelings towards the commission's strategy were shown from other people. One of them was Tom Twyford, president of the West Palm Beach Fishing Club, who hopes that officers will go easy on people who do not know the law. However, Ken Sorensen, president of Boynton Beach Fishing Club, applauded the agency's efforts. In his own words, he had seen people upload photos of undersized fish and believes that the arrests will prevent others from doing the same. According to Jon Garzaniti of the internet crimes unit, the officers sometimes give warnings depending on how serious the crime is and whether the perpetrator realized it was illegal.
Darin Lee Waldo with his two poached white-tailed deer in Florida's Polk County

In addition to Facebook, the members of the unit also investigate black market wildlife sales on sites like Craigslist. One example took place on July 11th, when a 26-year-old man in Fort Lauderdale intentionally tried to sell a marmoset from South America online without a permit for $2,700. He was arrested and charged with illegal possession, sale, and caging of the monkey. But perhaps the most notorious poaching case occurred in April 2010 involving a man named Tom Doyle of Martin County. The 49-year-old supposedly boasted on Facebook about shooting an alligator in his backyard. The arrest report indicated that someone had turned him in after seeing his photos. The photos on his profile showed his son on a nine or ten-foot-long alligator. In his comments, Doyle said that he had shot the reptile in the eye. When questioned by the authorities, Doyle said that he killed the alligator with a bang stick because it was threatening his goats. But when one of the officers pointed to his comment, he replied that he was only bragging. He then also showed the officers alligator meat packed in plastic bags at the bottom of his freezer. He was arrested for illegal possession of alligator, and was fined $480. After Tom Doyle, another complaint was made on June 17th leading to the arrest of 21-year-old Kyle Edwards of Tampa. He admitted to killing a deer and an alligator with his AK-47. He also admitted posting his photos on Facebook, and officers later found the carcasses of the two animals. He was cited for illegal possession of alligator and hunting deer in closed season.
Tara Anne Carver with her fresh kill

I'm very much enthralled to see how some wildlife officials are turning to Facebook to capture the perpetrators responsible for allegedly poaching different species of animals. Many thought that they would be safe, but this concept is contradicted by Mr. Garzaniti. He stated that widespread visibility of social media has made it harder for them. He further added that many of these people do not realize they have friends online who either are motivated by the amount of reward imposed on them or simply because they do not like them. This, in turn, leads to violators arrested and fined for their gruesome deeds. When those teenagers were arrested for killing an leopard seal in New Zealand, I think it is possible they had friends who turned them in to the authorities. But what pleases me the most is how some people are collaborating with the law enforcement, and providing them with proper evidence in indicting the perpetrators. In addition to that, it is also very unique to see wildlife officials going undercover on Facebook to capture the poachers.

View article here

Friday, August 5, 2011

Arabian Oryx- Back From the Brink of Extinction

An Arabian oryx herd

The Arabian oryx is one of the most magnificent species of antelopes in the world. For generations, it had been associated with the legendary unicorn and was often the subject of classical Arabic poetry. However, its grace and beauty had made it a target for Bedouin hunters, who hunted it for its hide and meat. Countless hunting led to the demise of this antelope, and it was believed to have been extinct in the wild by 1972. Fortunately, the Phoenix Zoo of the U.S had teamed up with Fauna and Flora International ten years earlier and started to establish the first captive-breeding of the oryx with financial help from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The project became known as Operation Oryx, and by 1982, the first reintroductions were made in Oman. Over the period of time, they had been brought back to their former haunts in nations like Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E, Israel, and Jordan.
An Arabian oryx in Israel

But now, it has been reported that the antelope's numbers in the wild have increased to 1,000 animals in all five of these Middle Eastern countries. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), who recently labeled the antelope as "vulnerable" from "endangered", it was an extraordinary conservation success story. The union further added that there have been reintroductions proposed in Iraq, Kuwait, and Syria. Thabet Zahran Al Abdessellam of Abu Dhabi's Environment Agency stated that the agency has formed an oryx conservation group covering these nations where it once thrived. He further added that they have a mutual agreement with Syria.
Captive oryxes resting

I'm extremely happy and proud at the efforts all these countries had put into, in order to save the Arabian oryx. The prized treasure of Arabia, which was once nearly lost forever, has now made a successful comeback into the region's rugged and sun-baked wilderness. What is one thing that I find interesting about its reintroduction is the fact that it was brought to the U.A.E ten years ago. Most people think of the U.A.E as a place famous for its luxurious hotels and resorts, but one hotel resort which stands out the most is the Al Maha Desert Resort. Established in 2004, this resort overlooks a stunning desert landscape which houses a rich variety of wildlife, including the oryx. At least 450 now live in this oasis.
Scimitar-horned oryx; a close relative currently thriving in captivity

I'm also very proud to see that nations like Kuwait, Iraq, and Syria have been taken into consideration for further reintroduction. This means the range of the Arabian oryx will be further expand to how it was centuries ago. However, I sure hope that everyone involved will be better prepared for any threats of poaching. One incident took place at Oman's Arabian Oryx Sanctuary when numbers had plummeted from 450 in 1996 to 65 animals in 2007. At the same time, the Arabian oryx's relative, the scimitar-horned oryx, had suffered similar consequences in North Africa. Like its Arabian relative, the scimitar-horned oryx is now currently in captivity. I just hope that all the countries where it once thrived would band together just like their Middle Eastern counterparts, in order to reintroduce this oryx back into the wild.

View article here

Cameroon and Chad Sign Treaty to Fight Elephant Poaching

An elephant family

It has been reported that ministers from Cameroon and Chad had stated that both the nations have signed a pact to increase efforts to battle poaching of elephants. Both of these Central African countries had suffered from rampant poaching of elephants for their ivory to Asian markets and the local bushmeat trade. Majority of activities were occurring in a protected area on the border between the two countries. This area is more than 300,000 hectares, covering the Bouba Ndjidda National Park in Cameroon and the Sena Oura National Park in Chad. According to Hassan Terap, Chad's Environment Minister, the area makes up 70,000 hectares on Chad's side and majority of elephants there number around 3,000 individuals. Five years ago, their numbers were 5,000 before being reduced down to 3,000 animals by poachers. Meanwhile, only 300 elephants presently remain in Bouba Ndjidda. In addition to elephants, both of these parks are home to other animals such as the black rhinoceros, monkeys, buffalo, and 24 species of antelopes, all of which are threatened by the bushmeat trade.

I'm very proud and happy to see what these two neighboring countries are doing with respect to their local wildlife. Both of them had their share of illegal poaching, and are now joining hands to fight this ongoing bloodshed. As part of the treaty, measurements include cooperation between authorities from both parks and increasing numbers of armed rangers. According to conservationists, poaching is worsening in Cameroon and Chad. This is especially true according to Cameroon's Forestry and Wildlife Minister Elvis Ngolle, who stated that the poachers are well-armed and the government needs a significant number of well-trained eco-guards to fight them. He further added that the goal is to preserve the wildlife for both economic and cultural benefits of the people. I can only hope that both Cameroon and Chad will live up to their standards according to the pact they signed. Both the neighbors had lost a great deal of their elephants and other wildlife to poachers, and now it is the time to take decisive action.

View article here

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Assamese Conservation NGO to Help Indonesia's Rhino Conservation

A Sumatran Rhinoceros

It has been recently reported that Aaranyak, an Assam-based biodiversity conservation NGO, will be assisting Indonesia in carrying out genetic research on its two critically endangered rhinos: the Sumatran and the Javan rhinoceros. The NGO will help authorities to develop "non-invasive" genetic research for the two rhino species that are on the brink of extinction. The head of Aaranyak's Wildlife Genetics Program, Udayan Borthakur, went down to Indonesia to prepare the line of activity required to undertake the research on rhinos and collaborated with officials affiliated with the rhino conservation. According to Mr. Borthakur, lab-based works will be undertaken at Jakarta's Eijkman Institute.
Javan Rhinos

As part of their non-invasive DNA-based research, the Wildlife Genetics Program and its Indonesian partners will estimate the rhinos' population size, male-female-calf ratio, and their density. They will also investigate the issue of genetic bottleneck and in-breeding of the two rhinos. Mr. Borthakur stated that the NGO will help the Eijkman Institute to set up needed markers for DNA-based analysis for the two rhino species from their dung and hair samples. He further added that Aaranyak's Wildlife Genetics Program had successfully prepared and tested markers for the Indian one-horned rhino based on India's "non-invasive research." Based on the experience, it is now called on to help Indonesia with its rhino conservation after a discussion with the International Rhino Foundation (IRF).
An Indian one-horned rhino; a close relative of the Javan rhino

I'm very proud to see what a partnership India has formed with Indonesia with respect to each others' endangered species. In this case, it is rhinos. Both the countries are home to these powerful beasts, and all three of them share one common characteristic: They are both threatened by poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. However, based on their status, the Sumatran and the Javan species are the ones who are critically endangered compared to their Indian cousin. But now, it now appears that there is hope for Indonesia's rhinos as Aaranyak will be helping Indonesian officials with their own rhino conservation. What is interesting is that the genetic research the NGO used is credited as "non-invasive." What is about this research that makes it non-invasive? Whatever it is, it helped in the conservation of the Indian rhino and is now going to be assist in the conservation of Indonesia's rhinos.

View article here

Tigers to Have More Space in Palamau National Park

Palamau National Park

It is recently reported that tigers in Palamau National Park will be receiving more space, due to the state forest department's role in honoring a twelve-year-old notification which recommends an additional 300 square kilometers. As part of this notification, forest belts in Latehar and Ranchi West Division will be merged into the national park to assure better conservation of the animals and habitat management. The process will expand the park's total area from 1,026 square kilometers to 1,326 square kilometers. The transfer of Palamau's neighboring forest areas is expected to be completed within a month. According to Palamau's Divisional Forest Officer (core) Premjit Anand, formalities have been made with divisional officers and pockets of Latehar will be integrated within ten days.

The notification was first brought up to the government of Jharkhand, but resulted in excuses ranging from manpower crunch to areas being Naxalite strongholds. S.E.H Kazmi, Palamau's director, was happy to say the proposal was taking shape. He further added that they (forest department and other officials involved) will boost up funds and habitat management plans like building enclosures. This will guarantee better monitoring of buffer zones and reduce man-animal conflict, including poaching. Although Mr. Kazmi refused to say why the project was delayed for twelve years, other people involved gave their reasons. One of them was Divisional Forest Officer (buffer) A.K Mishra, who explained that there were disagreements between the central notification and the instructions from the principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) on areas to be included. Another official stated that some department officials just were not interested in the first place, explaining that increase in area meant more work in terms of patrolling, monitoring, and habitat management. According to PCCF A.K Singh, rules and regulations for recruiting forest guards have been prepared. In addition to that, a proposal for a tiger foundation had been formulated couple of months ago and is currently awaiting approval from the state government.

I'm very happy and proud to see what the tigers in Palamau will be receiving. In addition to that, I'm also satisfied to see what plans have been called regarding their protection. For example, there will be extension in activities such as patrolling, monitoring, habitat management, and establishment of enclosures. This means that Palamau's tigers and other wildlife will have a bright and shiny future. However, I was disturbed to see that tigers numbers had plummeted from seventeen animals to eleven animals due to the delay in this plan. Part of the reason was that Jharkhand and its neighboring areas were in the Naxalite grip, which may have given the poachers an opportunity to pillage and plunder the reserve. I personally think that as part of the project, more tigers should be brought to Palamau in order to reboost their population. With just eleven animals, it is not enough to help keep the park's ecosystem in balance.

View article here