Tuesday, November 29, 2011

India's Chinkara Gazelle Slaughter- A Military Connection

Chinkara heads uncovered at the Indian Army camp in Rajasthan.

The blackbuck and the chinkara (Indian gazelle) are two of the most elegant and graceful antelopes native to the Indian subcontinent. Their proud and auspicious looks, not to mention their swift flying gaits have made them favorite subjects for wildlife photographers and filmmakers. However, these magnificent antelopes are also one of the most highly endangered animals in India. Since the Mughal era and the British Raj, they were hunted in countless numbers for the thrill of sport hunting. But as time progressed, conservation efforts began to revive their populations and saved them from being pushed to the brink of extinction. However, poaching has always remained a major threat to these antelopes and reports of such gruesome incidences continued to make the news. But none rang alarm bells across the nation more so than one which occurred in 1998 involving Bollywood's heartthrob Salman Khan. While filming for his film Hum Saath Saath Hain, he ran into major trouble for allegedly poaching these antelopes along with his co-stars. The incident shocked the entire nation, especially the Bishnoi community who are known for their tremendous love for nature. Seven years later, the late Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi suffered a similar fate when he was arrested for killing a blackbuck. But now, there is a new figure that has become involved in this ongoing mayhem: the Indian Army.

The incident took place when five infantrymen, known as "jawans", hunted three chinkaras in Rajasthan's Barmer district while participating in the Sudarshan Shakti exercise on the Indo-Pakistani border. The alleged perpetrators were identified as Subedar Gopilal, Havildar (Sergeant) D.R Nath, Nayak N. Sarkar, Lance Nayak P.R Pardesi, and Sipahi D.R Naidu. According to P.R Bhadu, Territorial District Forest Officer (DFO), officials rushed down to the camp where the men were stationed after being informed by the local villagers. Upon hearing the officials' raiding the camp, all five soldiers escaped. At the camp, the officials uncovered some gruesome evidence: the severed heads of the gazelles and some uncooked meat. They also found an army vehicle covered in bloodstains used while hunting. It was seized for forensic examinations. As part of the investigation, defense spokesperson S.D Goswami stated that a court of inquiry was ordered to look into the matter. He further added that if the perpetrators were found guilty, they would be dealt with harshly. In addition to that, Rajpal Singh of the state committee for wildlife and environment indicated that villagers had been complaining for long that army officers were frequently hunting the wildlife but no action was being taken. But now, with substantial evidence, he stated that senior officers should look look into the matter and guarantee such incidents will not happen in the future.

Hearing about a news like this makes me feel that our motherland has been and still is a major hot-bed for poaching and other illicit activities intended to overexploit the natural environment. The threat of poaching comes in many forms. It is not just a bunch of small-time criminals, but also sophisticated ones as well, including those who have no affiliations with such syndicates whatsoever. This was seen especially in the case of Salman Khan, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, and now officials of the nation's army. But despite their high status, we must not forget that these are also regular people and should be dealt with in the same manner as any person after committing a crime. India is one of the few places in the world with one of the richest biodiversities, but poaching and illegal wildlife trade have always been taking the toll on these natural treasures that are part of the nation's heritage. The public really needs to step up in putting an end to these ongoing atrocities. Otherwise, the entire subcontinent will lose its natural beauty in a matter of time.

View article here

Spain's Red Corals Under Pressure of Poaching

Red coral

Recently, researchers from the University of Barcelona made a shocking discovery that poaching has taken toll of nearly 60 percent of red coral biomass in Spain's Medes Islands Marine Reserve. The study's findings underline the impact of poaching has on the reserve, and has shed new light on the effect of recreational diving has on the coral population of the islands. According to the team, the reserve effect in the area has given the conservation of several marine species a boost. However, in the case of the red coral, it is both harvested legally and illegally along the Catalan coastline. Thus, poaching is posing a major threat to this species.
A necklace, a pair of earrings, and other jewelry made of red coral.

The relationship between this coral and people dates back thousands of years when ancient Greeks and Romans used it in jewelry design. The same practice still continues today. Dr. Cristina Linares of the university's Department of Ecology stated that this is a growing problem in the western Mediterranean Basin, with the exception of some marine reserves in France. From 1992 to 2005, researchers carried out a study of this coral focusing on its basal diameter and population density both inside and outside the reserve. Their results showed that colonies in the Medes area have decreased in size, with smaller numbers and below the levels observed in France. The researchers also added that the species is more abundant in the reserve than in the surrounding areas. One of the researchers, Bernat Hereu, stated that the coral is found in much shallower depths on the Catalan coast than elsewhere in the Mediterranean. This location makes the species easily accessible for both tourists and poachers.

This article gives a clear representation about how and why it is important to protect and conserve the world's coral reefs. When we think of corals, what usually comes to our minds are the remote locations in the tropics renowned for their warm climates. One of the classic examples is the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. However, there are also corals making their homes elsewhere in the world where the climate is warm and sustainable to the species. In this case, the Mediterranean. The region's sun-drenched beaches draw millions of tourists year-round. However, these waters are also home to a rich variety of marine wildlife. The red coral is one of many invertebrates making its home in the region.

Unfortunately, research conducted by this team from University of Barcelona indicates that it is in the grave danger of poaching. In addition to  research, it has been said that the team is also working with Baix Ter, Medes Islands, and Montgri National Parks to turn around the effects of poaching. This is going to be implemented through confiscation and replanting of coral. However, Dr. Linares made it clear that this will not be a definitive solution. Instead, it will be more like reviving part of the coral that is still alive and replanting it to create a natural community that is part of a marine ecosystem. I feel that this effort can be further boosted up if communities living along the coastlines should collaborate with law enforcement, and report any suspicious activities. At the same time, the locals should be imposed on the education of the importance of corals and why it is crucial to conserve them. If the corals continue to be harvested illegally, it would have an effect on other marine species and could affect the tourist industry of the Mediterranean.

View article here 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Yellowstone's Grizzly Bears to Remain on the Endangered Species List

A mother grizzly bear and her cubs in Yellowstone National Park

A federal appeals court has recently proclaimed that grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park shall remain on the endangered species list, due to the effect of climate change on the animals' white-bark food source. The decision was a major victory for conservationists in their battle to keep the bears on the list. This ruling made by the U.S 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had struck down the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service's decision in 2007 to remove the animals from the list. The court noted that climate change has increased speed of a beetle infestation that devastates the bears' vital food source of white-bark pine trees. The three-judge panel kept note of conservationists' warnings that the loss of these trees in the upper elevations in and around the national park would force the bears to search for food in more heavily populated areas. This would bring them into conflicts with local people and livestock. And it is because of this behavior that wildlife officials had to euthanize the bears in record numbers. According to a multi-agency study team, an estimated that 75 grizzly bears were either killed or removed from the wild in 2010.
A mountain pine beetle. One of the major pests in destroying the bears' vital food source.

As part of the argument, the appellate panel quoted the Fish and Wildlife Service's as having "failed to adequately consider the impact of global warming and mountain pine beetle infestation on the vitality of the region's white-bark pine trees." The jurists also discovered that warmer temperatures in recent years allowed the beetles to survive the seasonal die-off, allowing them to destroy 16 percent of the trees and damage more than 25 percent. The extent of the damage caused by the beetles is a subject of debate for the Fish and Wildlife Service, but scientists studying the problem describe the infestation in ominous terms. According to Diana Tomback, a white-bark pine expert at the University of Colorado Denver, studies have shown that majority of watersheds have in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem have been disrupted with lots of spaces where there is 90 percent-plus mortality of beetle-damaged mature trees. The beetles attack the trees by penetrating under the bark and digging out internal canals that accommodate thousands of larvae. The carving then stresses the pines, turning them into vivid red.
White-bark pine trees

This article gives a clear representation of how global warming should be taken seriously. Not only does it affect life up in the northern regions, but also further down south away from the arctic exposure. Because of this, it is crucial to battle this environmental catastrophe in virtually every corner of this world. Wildlife everywhere is affected in one way or another. In the case of grizzly bear, they are being forced to move into places where there are people leading into conflicts and ending in tragic results. In 2010, at least 75 bears were euthanized because of this behavior. Little did wildlife officials know that global warming has been pushing the animals to search for new places to forage when beetles have been destroying their major food source. I believe that since the matters concerning the bears' status as endangered species have been taken care of, it is time to tackle the problem of beetle infestation affecting Yellowstone. The first national park of the United States is in a great need of help, and so are its inhabitants. More importantly, it is time to further battle the ongoing threat of global warming.

View article here

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Experts to Discuss Disease Control for the Arabian Oryx

Arabian oryxes

It has recently been reported that a two-day workshop was organized to establish regional disease control and management for the Arabian oryx. This workshop was set up by the General Secretariat for the Conservation of the Arabian Oryx, in partnership with the Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the Zoo and Aquarium Public Institution in Al Ain. Among the participants included representatives from other nations where the antelope once roamed. Together with their Gulf counterparts, they discussed carrying out studies to determine genetics and different diseases, and how they can work together to adequately respond to outbreaks. The workshop was held in Al Ain, and was attended by 38 biologists and veterinarians from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Jordan, and Iraq.
The meeting

As of now, the Coordinating Committee for the Conservation of the Arabian Oryx (CCCAO) is overseeing the coordination of efforts in conservation for the antelope within the Arabian Peninsula. Its members have agreed to uniting and amplifying efforts of the species that once ranged from southern Syria, to Oman's and Yemen's borders with Saudi Arabia. The workshop's goal was to recognize different aspects of veterinary care required when reintroducing the oryx in its former range, and work on an annual statistics bulletin to keep track of diseases that affect the herds reintroduced that range. The participants have agreed to prepare a booklet giving description of various diseases affecting the oryx. This will focus on preventive veterinary care and how to prepare contingency plans for the management of disease outbreaks. In addition to that, the participants underlined on the importance of encouraging the range states to carry out necessary studies to identify the relationship between genetics and diseases. They also underlined on the need to aiding information exchange amongst the group of professionals involved in responding to the outbreaks.

I'm very impressed and proud to see what steps the Middle East has taken in the conservation of the Arabian oryx. This magnificent antelope has recently exceeded to a thousand individuals, thus making a comeback from the brink of extinction. Now, there have been plans to reintroduce it back into its former range where it had once disappeared. But as part of the goal, several individuals involved in the conservation have gathered together to discuss different techniques to control any diseases that can affect the antelope. I feel that it is necessary because the world cannot risk losing the animal, which slowly made a comeback thanks to captive breeding in both the Middle East and the U.S. However, the Arabian oryx's relative, the scimitar-horned oryx, is still confined to captivity. And I firmly think that captive breeding is crucial for its survival and at the same time, measures to reintroduce it back in its former range should be undertaken.

View article here

U.N Calls for Global Cooperation to Protect Pathways of Migratory Species

African elephants on the move

The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) has recently called for the international community to boost its efforts to protect pathways and networks of different migratory species threatened by human activities. The program stated that if no immediate action is taken by, then the world will experience a loss of abundance and species of wildlife equivalent to annihilating all flora and fauna in an area the size of the U.S or China by 2050. In order to activate a response to this issue, representatives from some hundred governments met at a U.N conference in Bergen, Norway. Organized by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), this six-day conference is putting particular focus on the significance of ecological networks as an effective key to protect a wide variety of migratory animals.
Shark populations in Palau are benefitting as a result of global cooperation.

According to Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of CMS, global cooperation is essential to manage these large transboundary networks. The program also presented a report on how to protect migratory pathways, bringing out stories where international partnership has led to positive results. One example was seen in the island nation of Palau, where sharks have roamed for over 400 million years. However, they became endangered due to demand for their fins for soup. Fortunately, new measures were taken and not only did they help protect the species but also boost the local economy. Other successful programs included a ten-year program to conserve and restore seven million hectares of wetland in China, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Russia, which increased the possibilities of survival for the Siberian crane and improved drinking water supplies. There was even one about a transboundary enforcement measure to protect the mountain gorilla population on the borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and Uganda. But despite these success stories, the program also expressed its concern about countries that account for almost 36 percent of global land area which are not allies to the Convention. These nations pose challenges for protecting migratory species worldwide. In addition to that, illegal practices such as poaching are on the rise, especially in grasslands and savannas of Africa and Central Asia.
Event the Siberian crane has experienced a similar success.

I also firmly believe that international cooperation is vital for the survival of migratory species in this world. Just because there have been some success stories does not mean that the status of such species is safe. There are several other species living in nations that have never joined forces with the Convention. And these nations include Central Asia and Africa, which are generally considered havens for migratory species. Animals like antelopes, elephants, and rhinos are abundant in these areas. However, these animals have and still are becoming victims of poaching and other illicit activities plundering their homelands. This is why it is crucial that these countries should join forces with the UNEP, in order to ensure protection of the animals and their migratory pathways. At the same time, action should also be taken regarding the livelihoods of the local people. For example, in parts of Africa, bushmeat trade has been proving to be a lucrative yet destructive business. People maybe benefitting because of the trade, but they are also exploiting their local wildlife. That is why it is essential that more partnerships with the UNEP should be formed, in order to protect and benefit the lives of both people and animals.

View article here

Experts Recommend Captive Breeding for Great Indian Bustards

Great Indian bustard

It has been recently reported that experts in India have suggested urgent captive breeding for the great Indian bustards. This conservation strategy involves breeding of the species in human-controlled environments with restricted settings, and releasing them into the wild when the threats to the birds have decreased. Captive breeding is one of the recommendations included in the guidelines of the "Species Recovery Program." Brought up by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), it is not only intended for saving the bustard but also for the lesser and Bengal florican. A report that was prepared by experts from the ministry, the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Wildlife Institute of India (WII), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and other NGOs and individuals has been sent to the MOEF for approval.
The Bengal florican is equally threatened as its larger relative above.

According to Asad Rahmani, the director of BNHS, the idea is to accessorize the species population. This involves captive breeding of the species and later releasing them into the wild. It will be done with in-situ conservation (on-site habitat conservation). He further added that the program's guidelines advises highly regulated tourism, including total restriction in breeding areas. B.C Chaudhary, a scientist for the WII who is involved developing the guidelines, stated that captive breeding for the bustards should be done by professional organizations. This means it is not required to keep them in zoos. Chief Conservator of Forests (Pune), M.K Rao, felt that captive breeding is essential to know the birds' ecology and movement pattern. He also added that telemetry and radio tracking should be taken up, in order to know the areas they are using. Finally, Pramod Patil, the director of the GIB Foundation, stated that the recovery plan is a three-step system consisting of the national plan, state plan, and site-specific plan where local aspects of bustard conservation are considered.
So is the lesser florican.

I also believe that captive breeding is essential for the conservation of great Indian bustards. In addition to that, this technique is also required both species of floricans as their numbers are also critically low. It is estimated that there are 30-35 bustards and 20-25 lesser floricans remaining in the state of Maharashtra. Both of these birds have suffered tremendously as a result of human pressure, as their habitats are gradually shrunk to give way to agriculture and infrastructure. This is why it is necessary for India to conduct captive breeding programs across its lands, in order to revive the populations of these birds. Just educating the public about their importance is not enough to save the species. Stronger steps in rehabilitation is also crucial for the survival of the species. In addition to that, I also believe that captive breeding should be imposed on other endangered species of India, including tigers and other well-known species. Zoos should also become involved in captive breeding. This was the case with the San Diego Zoo in an effort to save the California condor and the Arabian oryx. If India's zoos follow this example, then it would further help in the conservation of its wildlife. However, it is also important to note which species to help. Animals like the bustard can only receive help from professional organizations, as said by Mr. Chaudhary. But it is equally important that zoological facilities should step in to help with the wildlife conservation of India.

View article here

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Claims of Curing AIDS Lead to Surge in Illegal Smuggling of Tokay Geckos

A Tokay gecko

It has been recently reported by a conservation group that claims of curing AIDS has resulted in a sharp increase of smuggling Tokay geckos. TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, a wildlife monitoring network, stated in a report that the demand for these geckos has surged in recent years after online blogs, newspaper articles, and wildlife traders applauded the consumption of the geckos' tongue and internal organs as a miracle cure for the HIV virus. TRAFFIC further added that, as with any other wild animal, such claims were unfounded. In addition to that, the Philippine government had warned that using geckos to treat AIDS may put patients at risk. According to TRAFFIC's regional deputy director, Chris R. Shepherd, if the trade in geckos continues to soar, then it could take years to fix the damage being caused on the current populations.
Tokay gecko in Vietnam

The report further added that, besides AIDS, geckos had long been used as traditional medicine for other illnesses such as asthma, cancer, diabetes, and skin diseases. The lizards would be dried up and then ground into powder for consumption. In some parts of Asia, they would be made into wine or whiskey to boost energy. But the trade in these lizards has even extended outside Asia and into the Western world. Between 1998 and 2002, more than eight and a half tons of dried gecko carcasses were legally imported into the United States. Huge numbers would be traded within Asia and it is believed that Malaysia is a key center to meet demand, especially in China. This has led to various seizures made during the illicit operation. An estimated 1,000 geckos believed to be bound for Malaysia were recently seized in Cambodia, along with a couple being detained for attempting to smuggle nearly $1 million worth of lizards from Thailand to Malaysia. Another recent seizure was made on the island of Java when customs officers averted a bid to smuggle dried geckos to China and Hong Kong using expired permits.
Tokay gecko in Thailand

This article gives a clear representation of how the illegal wildlife trade has reached a whole new level. Usually animals that are victims of this illicit and lucrative business are believed to treat illnesses such as common cold, measles, etc. But now, there is another malady that has come into the spotlight: AIDS. And the "ideal" candidates for treating this virus are none other than Tokay geckos. These lizards were popular as pets, but have also become part of the illegal wildlife trade like every other wild creature in Southeast Asia. Initially, these lizards were consumed due to the belief that they would cure asthma, cancer, diabetes, and skin diseases. But with this belief, combined with that of curing AIDS, populations these lizards have plunged dramatically in the hands of poachers and smugglers. These geckos, as with any small insectivorous creature, are crucial for the livelihoods of people in the region for regulating pests and maintaining the ecological balance. Without the geckos, people would be prone to attacks by mosquitoes and other hazardous pests. Chances are they would resort to pesticides, which would lead to further damage in the region. This is why it is crucial to help these geckos, and put a stop to the illegal wildlife trade.

View article here      

Friday, November 18, 2011

Illegal Caviar Trade Threatens Danube River's Sturgeons

A Russian sturgeon

A recent report issued by the international wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC has found that continuous illegal trade in caviar is weakening the survival of sturgeons in the Danube River Basin. Commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), this report revealed a total of fourteen confiscations coming from Bulgaria and Romania as reported by the EU Member States between 2000 and 2009. Both of these countries contain the only reasonable population of these fish, which outlasted the dinosaurs 200 million years ago. However, five of the six native species in the Danube River Basin are listed as critically endangered. Due to their status, fishing for them has been banned. Despite this, illegal fishing and trade in caviar continued to take the toll on their populations.
Caviar for sale in Istanbul

Although seizures of illegal caviar were reported in other EU Member States, none were reported from Bulgaria and Romania. The reason is because of the Danube's location between the two neighboring nations. Jutta Jahrl, a sturgeon expert for the WWF, stated that a ban on one side of the basin cannot have any impact on fishermen fishing for sturgeon on the other side. Bulgaria is slated to impose a five-year ban on sturgeon-fishing in 2012. According to Ivaylo Simeonov, head of fisheries monitoring at Bulgaria's National Agency of Fisheries and Aquaculture, various activities regarding the sturgeon populations will be carried out. These include restocking of fish populations and monitoring the sturgeons' status. In addition to that, an information campaign among fishing communities and better coercion of the ban are also scheduled for 2012. TRAFFIC's Katalin Kecse-Nagy, the author of the report, stated that when Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union in 2007, it made the illegal caviar trade harder to spot and prevent. The reason for that was because caviar shipments to EU Member States were no longer recorded in the data by CITES.
Head study of the Russian sturgeon

I'm very much appalled by the fact that the threat of illegal caviar trade has been going virtually undetected since Bulgaria and Romania had joined the European Union. Even though both of these nations separately placed a ban on sturgeon-fishing, it did not seem to matter whether fishing on one side of the river can have an impact on another. This, in my opinion, has made both of these nations prone to such illicit activities and led numerous cases of caviar confiscations by other European nations. In 2009, German authorities seized smuggled caviar labeled as Bulgarian farmed caviar. But isotopic analysis revealed the caviar had come from the Caspian Sea, one of the most important sturgeon fisheries along with the Black Sea. This case gives an idea of how permitted caviar farming was imposed on to allow illegal caviar into the legal trade. Both Bulgaria and Romania had a history of being Communist states during the Cold War era, but now there is a new threat in the midst. The illegal trade in caviar has transformed the two nations into major hubs for the illegal trade of wildlife in Europe. I personally think that it is about time they put their foot down and raise awareness among enforcement agencies about this ongoing threat. At the same time, caviar consumers and traders should be educated about the trade, in order to keep them alert. This would further help in the battle against the illegal caviar trade. The Danube is crucial for the sturgeons as a feeder river and estuary, in which adults would swim upstream to spawn and is in a great need of help.

View article here

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Arizona Hunting Organization in Big Trouble for Defending Captive Hunting

A typical captive hunting scene. In this case, the victim is a rhinoceros.

The state of Arizona is known for being one of the most harshest places in the United States, yet it boasts some fascinating sights and history. From the Grand Canyon to the Painted and Sonoran Deserts, this is the Wild West. It is a rugged oasis that was first settled by a local Native American tribe called the Apaches for thousands of years. One of the most well-renowned members of this tribe was Geronimo, whose bravery and courage against both the American and Mexican forces earned him status in pages of several history books. During the days of the Wild West, Arizona witnessed a rise in discovery of mineral deposits which led to establishments of several boomtowns across its harsh and unforgiving land. Among the most well-known was Tombstone, where the famed Gunfight at the O.K. Corral continues to remain one of the most fascinating historical events in the American history. But under the blazing hot desert sun, a dark shadow looms over the rugged landscape. Arizona, like the lower half of the American Southwest, is prone to present-day issues such as illegal immigration and drug trafficking from south of the border. However, there is also another hidden danger that recently came into spotlight: captive hunting.
Animals that are victims of captive hunting include those that are extinct in the wild like this scimitar-horned oryx.

Captive hunting, also known as canned hunting, is a very controversial form of hunting practice that involves pursuing wild animals trapped inside a fenced-in area rather than wide open spaces. Many wild animals that end up on these so-called "ranches" are zoo animals that had always been in contact with humans, which makes them less fearful. This makes it a lot easier for inexperienced clients to claim their trophy. This unethical practice has been highly criticized by several animal rights and hunting groups across the nation. And one particular organization has always been the prime target of such controversy. It is the Safari Club International (SCI). Based in Tucson, Arizona, this hunting organization has gained notoriety for lobbying the Congress and spoke out against bills that would make captive hunting illegal. It is also said to allow trophies from such operations in its record books.
Powerful and dangerous predators like tigers also end up on such facilities specializing in captive hunting.

Despite these allegations, officials of the organization deny having protected captive hunting. According to Dr. Larry Rudolph, the organization's chief communications officer, many officials supports preserve or estate hunting. He further added that the types of operations the organization supports guarantee animals a fair chance of escape from hunters. But his statement is disagreed by several groups, including the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Andrew Page, the senior director for the society's wildlife abuse campaign, argued that animals are in fact "trapped within a fenced enclosure from which they cannot escape." Thus, allowing people to go inside, pay their fee, and kill them. The society's investigation showed that many animals used on such facilities come from private breeders and zoos. He also added that many animals that end up on these facilities include non-native, as well as native species bred in the U.S.
Animals that end up on captive hunting facilities come from either private zoos or breeders that specialize in breeding exotic wildlife. This blackbuck is a perfect example of a creature that is indigenous (and endangered) outside the U.S.

This article gives a clear idea about the hidden secrets behind hunting and zoological facilities in the U.S. The purpose of many zoos in the nation is to allow visitors a chance to see wild animals from all around the world, and even promote conservation for endangered species. But this is normally the case of public zoos. Private zoos, on the other hand, are different. These private institutions are said to breed exotic wild animals mainly for the thrill of hunting. And nowhere else does this occur than on a fenced-in area. Wild animals, of all shapes and sizes, are released on these facilities with nowhere to escape. This allows clients, particularly the most inexperienced ones, to make their kill from within a point-blank range. This gives an idea of how captive hunting is perceived as a form of animal cruelty by both animal rights and hunting groups. Hunting groups, like the Boone and Crockett Club, label the practice as "eliminating the concept of fair chase" which refers to the ethical form of pursuit where an animal is roaming free in the wild and not confined in an enclosed area. The practice is so cruel, that a total of 25 states, including Arizona, have either banned or severely restricted it. And out of an estimated 1,000 facilities in the nation, approximately half are located in the state of Texas.
Native North American species like bison are also subject to captive hunting.

I personally believe that this issue of captive hunting should be looked upon by the federal government. It is an unethical and horrendous form of hunting that is as lethal as poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. Some of the animals targeted are the ones that are already extinct in the wild like the scimitar-horned oryx. Instead of being reintroduced back into the former homeland, these magnificent antelopes are a subject of hunting in an enclosed area. Thus, their populations are being decimated rather than revived. In addition to being just cruelty, captive hunting is also a threat to North America's native ecosystems. This occurs when animals somehow escape from an enclosure, and end up roaming the wild lands that appear unknown to them. This process leads to the animals spreading diseases amongst the native species. One of them is the chronic wasting disease (CWD), which is known to affect the native deer population. This is why it is extremely crucial to ban the practice of captive hunting in the United States. By doing this, it would be a first step in allowing the populations of endangered exotic animals to be reintroduced back to their native homelands and saving the native North American wildlife from being taken over by these non-native species. This way, both native and non-native species will benefit separately.

View article here              

Friday, November 11, 2011

Head of U.N Convention Urges More Effort in Fighting Illegal Rhino Poaching

A captive black rhinoceros

The world of wildlife had lost Vietnam's last Javan rhinoceros to the ongoing threat of illegal poaching and wildlife trade. But now, it has been confirmed that another rhino has met the same fate as its Southeast Asian counterpart: the Western black rhinoceros, a subspecies of the black rhinoceros. The recent sudden and tragic losses has led to the head of a United Nations-backed convention on endangered species calling for boosting up efforts by nations and international organizations to fight the illegal trade in rhino horns. He is CITES' Secretary-General John Scanlon, who told in an interview that the extinction of the subspecies "is of grave concern." The convention estimates that over 330 rhinos have been killed this year, as a result of poaching and trade in horns. According to Mr. Scanlon, a more assertive multilateral approach needs to be conducted in order to prosecute criminal networks behind this illicit activity. He further added that the engagement of key partners is necessary to tackle the issue. He concluded with a statement saying that these measures are needed to save and protect not just rhinos, but other endangered species as well.
A western black rhinoceros skull

I'm beginning to feel that it is about time the world should step up against this ongoing monstrosity threatening its wild species. Two species of rhinos have been lost because of both poaching and wildlife trafficking, but the real danger does not come from these threats but the leniency in laws of nations that house several critically endangered species. Vietnam and some West African countries are an ideal example of where poaching and wildlife trade function with little or no provocation from law enforcement. This explains what Mr. Scanlon meant by involving both the police and world customs, along with getting the justice system dealing with these major threats. The wildlife of the world is facing a bleak future, especially for the critically endangered species. And it is a matter of time before poaching and illegal wildlife trade will continue the reign of terror and environmental destruction in remote corners perceived as "gold mines," rather than places of discovery and natural beauty.

View article here

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Interpol Launches Campaign to Save Asia's Wild Tigers

Bengal tiger

It has been recently reported that Interpol has joined the battle to save Asia's wild tigers. The international police organization has launched a campaign to help save these majestic beasts in thirteen Asian countries where they exist. The project's goal is to connect international wildlife officials with customs and police officers in the thirteen nations to help curb illegal poaching and smuggling of tiger parts for medicinal purposes. Among the officials expected to participate are from the U.S, Britain, the Smithsonian Institute, and the World Bank. Unveiled at Interpol's General Assembly meeting in Hanoi, the project was greatly applauded by conservationists. One of them was Mike Baltzer, head of World Wildlife Fund's Tigers Alive Initiative, who stated that it will "give the effort a great boost." Head of the World Bank and founder of the Global Tiger Initiative Robert Zoellick conveyed Interpol delegates in a video address that the project "will reduce trafficking in tiger parts, with the add-on-effect of reducing other wildlife crimes in Asia."
The South China tiger is one of the most critically endangered of all tigers. Experts warn that there maybe fewer than twenty of these tigers left, and may become extinct within the next ten years.

I'm very much surprised, yet amazed to see that the Interpol has become involved in a battle to save tigers. Usually when the Interpol comes to people's minds, they usually think this international organization is involved in helping battle crimes related to humanity. However, this article is a perfect representation to show how it is also involved in fighting crimes against nature. And with this project underway, there is a good feeling that poaching and other illicit activities functioning in the animals' home ranges will not stand a chance. However, I also hope that this campaign will aim to protect other Asian wildlife threatened the same way as tigers. Places like Vietnam has just recently lost its last Javan rhinoceros to extinction. At the same time, there are maybe thirty or forty of these animals remaining in Indonesia. Their numbers are in a critical state, which means they will be completely wiped out in a matter of time without any swift action. This is why I hope that a campaign like this will help slow down any further encroachment of humanity onto the last remaining wild lands of Asia.

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