Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Climate Change Threatens the Iberian Lynx

Iberian lynx

It has been recently announced that the Iberian lynx is under threat from climate change. A new international study has found that the critically endangered cat could be driven to extinction within fifty years, despite important continuous conservation efforts. Researchers stated that the impact of climate change must be included in strategies to reintroduce the lynx to new habitats, in order to save the species. Present-day management efforts could be pointless if the linked effects of climate change, land use, and prey abundance on population changes of the Iberian lynx are not taken into consideration. Despite the evidence of increase in lynx numbers in the past decades due to intensive management, researchers warn that current conservation strategies could buy just a few ten years before the cat becomes extinct. They stated that the study is the most absolute conservation-management model yet cultivated of the effects of climate change on predator and its prey. They further added that the present increase in numbers of the lynx indicates that accelerated management of habitat and rabbit populations have worked as effective temporary conservation strategies. However, a small population size means that the species is still under threat and prone to future declines in population. This also means that the species is very vulnerable to changes in habitat quality or changes in prey abundance due to climate change.

I very much hope that various conservation groups involved in an effort to save the Iberian lynx will take into consideration about the threat of climate change, and incorporate that into their methods in order to save the species from extinction. The current methods that are being used are only temporary solutions to ensure the survival of this critically endangered cat. Most of these strategies included habitat management, reduction in human activity, and recently reintroduction of the lynx in appropriate areas where it has lived. But now, with climate change in focus, the conservation efforts in saving the Iberian lynx are going to change in some degree. For example, studies by researchers have shown that habitat in the southwestern part of the Iberian Peninsula, which houses two existing populations of Iberian lynx, is most likely to be unfavorable by the middle of this century. In order to ensure the survival of the species on the long run, it has been suggested that peninsular regions at higher altitudes and latitudes would be suitable for the lynx.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Kenya Unveils its Inter-Agency Anti-poaching Unit

Confiscated ivory

It has been recently reported that Kenya has revealed its inter-agency anti-poaching unit, which consists of officers from specialized aspects of the Administration Police, General Service Unit, and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) in an effort to bolster the fight against poaching. According to Paul Muya, spokesperson for the KWS, the establishing of this organization shows the government's obligation in guaranteeing that the wildlife is safe. He stated that the KWS was working with other conservation stakeholders to confirm that the war against poaching is won. He further added that the increasing poaching crisis has become both an economic and national security issue. In addition, he also pointed out that the KWS requires more resources for it manages roughly eight percent of the country's total landmass which includes 22 national parks, 29 national reserves, and four national sanctuaries including six national marine reserves and four parks. Furthermore, Muya noted that the number of active rangers has decreased significantly due to natural abrasion and retirement. He stated that the government has however made an obligation during this financial year to advocate the enlistment and disposal of at least 1,000 new rangers, in phases, to bolster KWS's capacity to conduct their authority effectively. Muya also indicated that the KWS will continue working with other law enforcement agencies, particularly the Customs, Immigration Department, Interpol, Kenya Airports Authority, Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF), and the police in making sure that international and local laws on wildlife crimes are carried out.

This article gives a clear demonstration of a nation's tough stand against poaching. This is seen through joint collaboration between a wildlife agency and other law enforcement agencies such as the police department, customs, and immigration department, among others, in an effort to put a stop to the ever-increasing threat of poaching. Kenya had earlier lost 384 elephants and 29 rhinos to poaching last year. This year, the country has lost 190 elephants and 34 rhinos. Furthermore, the government is enthusiastic on the quick execution of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Bill, 2013, which suggests inflexible and preventative punishments against poaching. In addition, there is even a genetics and wildlife forensics laboratory being built at the KWS headquarters and is set to be installed later this year later this year to support prosecution of wildlife crimes. Although this is promising news regarding wildlife protection, I also feel that Kenya could further bolster its stand against poaching by forming alliances and helping other African nations that do not appear to be taking a similar stand against the threat. For example, Tanzania has recently been in the news where senior officials within the nation's government are behind elephant poaching. Many of these officials come from key government departments responsible for wildlife conservation. The news indicates the threat of corruption is looming large in the nation, and is ultimately responsible for depriving Tanzania's wildlife of its safety. Therefore, I believe that those African countries whose individual governments have made a commitment to take decisive action against poaching and other wildlife-related crimes should provide help to the ones that are not standing a chance in the battle.

View article here

Monday, August 12, 2013

Federal Plan to Increase Range for Mexican Wolves in Arizona

A Mexican wolf inside a holding pen in New Mexico's Sevilleta Wildlife Refuge.

It has been recently reported that the U.S government is providing a plan that would allow Mexican wolves to roam freely across the state of Arizona for the first time. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service published a draft of the proposed changes last month that, if enforced, would let wolves roam from western Arizona to eastern New Mexico between Interstates 40 and 10. The draft contains likely wolf reintroduction sites in northern Arizona on the Tonto National Forest, all over the Sitgreaves National Forest and other public lands, as well as private lands where there is a cooperating landowner. In addition, the proposal also demands expansion of an area where the wolves could wander to add parts of central New Mexico's Cibola National Forest. As a whole, there would be a decennial increase in the area where biologists are working to restore the population. Environmentalists accepted the possibility of expansion, but also expressed concerns about provisions that could create schemes that would increase situations in which the wolves could be killed for livestock predation or other reasons.

I'm very proud and grateful that the federal government has given the consideration about the conservation of Mexican wolves, and acted upon it by proposing a plan that would allow them to flourish in parts of the American Southwest where they had disappeared. This proposal has received a great deal of support from groups, especially the Apache tribe, who has an agreement with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service that has let the wolves to roam on their lands in eastern Arizona. In addition, wolves have been sighted in the past in northern Arizona as close to places like Mormon Lake and the city of Flagstaff and Holbrook along Interstate 40. This has led scientists to choose the Grand Canyon as principal wolf territory. They stated that the region could support as many as 200 animals. However, this proposal has also received negative opinions from ranchers in Arizona who feel that the program to reintroduce wolves back into their former haunts has been unsuccessful and that they cannot afford any loss of livestock from these animals. I firmly believe that the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and other groups actively involved in this project should identify particular areas in Arizona and New Mexico that do not include any ranches. If these areas happen to be close to any ranch lands, then the groups should take the initiative in educating ranchers about the ecological importance of Mexican wolves and provide them with safe measurements to keep wolves off their ranch. One possibility would be to erect fencing high enough to keep the wolves out, and another would be to provide ranchers with livestock guardian dogs to prevent the wolves from attacking their livestock.

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Tiger Range Countries to Correct Cross-Border Conservation


It has been recently reported that representatives from twelve out of the thirteen tiger range countries attended a meeting held in the city of Kunming last week, where they came to an agreement on taking measurements to correct managing of cross-border landscapes and on battling the illegal wildlife trade of tigers. This general agreement, known as the "Kunming Consensus", is targeted at improving earlier obligations made by tiger range countries and supported by heads of state through the St. Petersburg Declaration and the Thimphu Agenda. All are focused at accomplishing the countries' overall goal to increase the number of wild tigers to 6,000 animals by 2022. The blueprint to achieving this goal is the conservation of tiger habitats shared across national borders of such countries. It is said that there is more than three times as much promising tiger habitat in trans-boundary landscapes (920,000 square kilometers) than in any single country's landscape (270,000 square kilometers). Therefore, the consensus advised that the countries examine how best to guarantee management of their trans-boundary landscapes is effectual in the long-term. The consensus also made other recommendations for issues such as the illegal trade of tigers, which includes using innovational enforcement techniques, correcting enforcement capacity through training, and urgently, reconstructing sharing of information and international organization between enforcement and other bureaus. In addition, the consensus also made recommendations regarding efforts to minimize the demand for tiger body parts through figuring out the market for such items and building measures to discourage their consumption.

I'm very proud and grateful to see that majority of Asian countries that house the world's wild tiger populations have come to an agreement in helping one another in an effort to protect their tigers. This consensus outlines various steps these countries are expected to adhere by to ensure that the global tiger population would increase to 6,000 animals by 2022. Leading the way towards this goal is Nepal, which is reported to have its tiger numbers increased to 198 making it a 63 percent rise from the last survey in 2009. In addition, there was also some progress seen on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. However, it is unclear what might be the situation in the remaining eleven tiger range countries. This is why I hope that these countries will take the initiative in further improving the measurements in managing cross-border landscapes and combating the illegal wildlife trade in an effort to save tigers and other wildlife.

View article here