Sunday, December 21, 2014

Expert- Half of the Dolphins in the Florida Keys May Be at Dire Risk with Morbillivirus Epidemic

A dolphin infected with morbillivirus

One of the United States' most prominent experts on the morbillivirus Dr. Gregory Bossart recently pointed out that up to fifty percent of the Florida Keys' native bottlenose dolphin population could perish as a result of the newly discovered spread of the morbillivirus epidemic from the Indian River Lagoon. A notable example of the epidemic in the Florida Keys came on November 7 when a bottlenose dolphin washed up seriously ill on a beach at Bahia Honda State Park and died later that day. Morbillivirus, which is a disease similar to measles that is highly contagious among marine mammals, has claimed lives of more than 1,560 dolphins from New York to Florida since July 2013. It is an immunosuppresive malady that essentially renders marine mammals exposed to an array of other deadly diseases and is known to attack the lungs and neurological systems of whales and dolphins. The virus spreads through water droplets in the spray when dolphins and their relatives exhale at the surface and is transferred when the droplets fall down on other members in a pod. As a result, scientists are afraid that the virus could destroy a large part of the Keys' dolphin population because the animals are social by nature. Another worry is that the population of dolphins in the Florida Keys have not developed immunity to the virus making them more likely to die from infection. Dr. Bossart indicated that the dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon have a high rate of infection, but not a high mortality rate. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokeswoman Allison Garrett added that there have been no reports of sick or deceased dolphins since the one that died at Bahia Honda State Park. Dr. Bossart further stated that marine mammal facility managers should be extra careful because there might be other ways the virus might spread.

It is extremely essential to research this fatal disease in order to help save populations of bottlenose dolphins and other marine mammals from being further depleted. Dolphins maybe widely viewed as "star attractions" at several marine parks, but they are also wild animals by nature. Like most wild animals, they play a crucial role in the marine ecosystem by keeping the fish and other marine animal populations in check. With this ongoing morbillivirus epidemic, the dolphin population along the entire East Coast of the U.S is in dire jeopardy which would eventually lead to a local extinction. This would probably lead to other marine mammal species such as whales becoming infected with the virus resulting in a similar catastrophe. This is why it is highly crucial to meticulously research the morbillivirus disease in an effort to find cure for dolphins and other marine mammals that are immune to this life-threatening illness. Dr. Bossart pointed out that whatever is happening in the ocean water could be reflection of what is occurring on land.

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Sea Shepherd Encounters Illegal Antarctic Vessel Poaching Patagonian Toothfish and Other Rare Species

Bob Barker

Famed environmental activist group Sea Shepherd recently indicated that it had repelled a vessel infamous for poaching Patagonian toothfish and other rare species in the Antarctic waters as part of its attempts to target illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean. The Nigerian-flagged vessel, named the Thunder, was able to sail away but Sea Shepherd stated that it kept up the chase and threatened to "directly intervene in order to obstruct their continued illegal activities" if they did not notify the authorities in Australia. Sea Shepherd did not clarify on what it meant by intervening, but during ten years of provocation that successfully deterred Japanese whalers the activist group utilized all methods of hindrance, which included destroying fishing nets and even boarding boats. The group's lead ship, the Bob Barker, left Australia on December 3 and the group ambushed the Thunder in a fishing area managed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), an international group. According to Bob Barker's skipper Peter Hammarstedt, he had warned the captain of the Thunder and his crew "that they have been placed under citizen's arrest." He further added that he had informed CCAMLR authorities, Australian Federal Police, and Australian Fisheries Management Authority. Sea Shepherd indicated that heightened surveillance and guarding of waters by authorities in Australia and New Zealand had improvised the situation regarding the toothfish in some areas, but added that about six illegal fishing vessels are known to function in the area close to Antarctica. Much of the illegal activities conducted by poachers occur in what the group calls the "shadowlands" of the Southern Ocean which are very inaccessible and beyond national areas of authority.
Patagonian toothfish

It is wonderful to see what kinds of tactics Sea Shepherd is implementing to snare illegal fishing vessels and maintaining commendable contact with proper authorities. This is example was recently seen in the case of the group intercepting a fishing vessel operating in the Southern Ocean. However, despite increased security and patrolling of waters in Australia and New Zealand, the threat of illegal fishing still threatens the population of Patagonian toothfish and other rare species in the ocean. This is especially seen in remote areas that are inaccessible by authorities and even Sea Shepherd itself. This is why it is very crucial to employ tactics in order to properly access into remote areas occupied by illegal fishing vessels. This can be done by apprehending crew members from such vessels and interrogating them on how their counterparts are able to access through remote areas to carry out their illicit activities. That way, activist groups like Sea Shepherds and authorities can further combat illegal fishing of rare species in waters around the world.

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

China and Japan Agree to Bolster Measurements Against Coral Poachers

Chinese boats near the Ogasawara Islands

The Fisheries Agency has recently indicated that China and Japan have reached an agreement to increase measurements to prevent Chinese fishing vessels from illegally poaching coral in Japan's waters. The representatives of the two governments met in the city of Dalian in northeast China and agreed to implement a tougher crackdown and enforce harsher penalties on the culprits. The deal came when several ships assumed to be from China had been discovered poaching red coral in the waters around Ogasawara and Izu Islands south of Tokyo, prompting demands for stricter punishing measurements. The two countries also agreed to establish a hotline to improvise contact between appropriate authorities in deterring poachers, while extending cooperation to see how poached coral is sold. As part of the agreement, the number of Chinese vessels functioning in Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and Japanese vessels in China's EEZ for the 2014 fishing season will amount to 303. The catch allotment for each country's boat will be decreased by 373 tons to 9,441 tons. In addition, the countries agreed to reduce the number of Chinese vessels by 100 to 17,989 in waters that have not been marked off in the East China Sea. Japanese vessels, on the other hand, would stay unchanged at approximately 800. Furthermore, Japan has increased fines for poaching in addition to illegal fishing within its waters amidst the recent rise in Chinese coral poachers in the Pacific Ocean. The events of poaching have also resulted in arrests of Chinese boat captains.
Red coral

It is wonderful to see that China and Japan have reached a deal in tackling the threat of coral poaching. But it is especially important that both the countries should strictly stick to the components of the agreement and refrain from any loopholes that would promise poachers freedom to continue their illicit business of destroying coral. Red coral is highly valued in China for jewelry and continues to be exploited as a result of ongoing demand. In order to further prevent any red coral from being sold, China should administer crackdowns on jewelry stores suspected of selling ornaments made from red coral and factories suspected of manufacturing products from red coral. Furthermore, public awareness and education programs should be imposed to encourage regular people from purchasing jewelry made from red coral. This would provide red coral with further protection and hopefully a chance to survive for a long period of time. A similar procedure should be established regarding the battle against the illegal ivory trade, especially in China where the demand for ivory remains high and results in countless numbers of elephants being ruthlessly slaughtered for their tusks.

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Bangladesh Oil Spill Threatens Sunderbans Wildlife

Bangladeshi tanker sinking in the Sundarbans' Sela River

The Sundarbans region in India and Bangladesh has recently been hit hard by a devastating oil spill after a tanker carrying 92,000 gallons of furnace oil sank in the Sela River after slamming into another vessel. Local news reports indicate that it is unclear how much oil has flowed into the water, but warned that an oil slick covers the river for fifty miles. According to the Dhaka Tribune, "very little" has been done so far in dealing with the environmental disaster which spells a major threat to the wildlife making its home in the Sundarbans. Among the most iconic animals that are threatened include the Bengal tiger, estuarine crocodile, and the Irrawaddy dolphin. To make matters worse, local authorities have not decided on an oil removal plan which includes whether to use dispersants or not. The newspaper further indicated that authorities have requested local people to physically collect furnace oil from the surface of the water as it spreads through an expansive web of rivers and channels in and around the mangrove forests. A spokesperson for Padma Oil Company, which owns the sunken tanker, promised that the company would buy any oil collected by the villagers.
Map of the Sunderbans

It is absolutely devastating to see a major environmental hazard occur in the Sundarbans, which happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not only would this recent oil spill affect its status, but it has already and continues to threaten the region's wildlife which include the tiger, Irrawaddy dolphin, etc. However, it is not just wildlife that is at risk from this oil spill. Local villagers living in the vicinity of the Sundarbans are also tremendously affected by the spill. That is, many people rely on the network of waterways as a crucial source of fishing. Because of this sudden oil spill, the fish are under severe threat from suffocation and other health hazards related to oil. This means the oil spill has dramatically affected the livelihood of Sundarbans' villagers. It is absolutely necessary to take drastic steps in cleaning up the oil spill before it spreads further and further in the region and causes more damage to the environment. Furthermore, serious measurements should also be taken in preventing further oil spills in the Sundarbans. This includes changing shipping routes and thoroughly checking the conditions of tankers, boats, and other sailing vessels before letting them off into the waterways.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Poachers Exposed in the U.A.E for Soliciting Problematic Drugs Obtained from Musk Deer

A husband-and-wife duo caught on camera holding out a musk gland derived from the highly endangered musk deer. 

A recent sting operation in the United Arab Emirates has exposed a gang of poachers from India who are soliciting problematic drugs obtained from the musk deer. The perpetrators insist that their so-called medicine can treat 101 diseases, including cancer. Previously, scores of local residents had purchased these illegal medicines, paying anywhere between Dh4,000 and Dh35,000 for a bottle depending on the malady. In order to penetrate this scheme, an XPRESS team pretending to be customers contacted the gang members based in Abu Dhabi to a house in Sharjah and sought remedies for arthritis and blood pressure. The team was met with a middle-aged couple who introduced themselves as tribal people from the state of Karnataka, presented a business card with local contact information, and provided information about their illicit business and products. These products were musk glands that are only found inside male musk deer. Much of the information the couple provided to the XPRESS team was recorded on tape. In addition, the team came upon another couple from the same gang in Abu Dhabi advertising the drugs to an Indian expatriate who had chronic allergy. The couple then provided the cell phone number to another customer in Abu Dhabi who they indicated has benefited from their remedies.
Up close of the musk gland.

It is extremely appalling to see how people in the U.A.E have been "benefiting" from the so-called medicines that are derived from the musk deer which is an endangered species. The peddlers assert that their illicit products work "wonders" in curing a wide range of ailments based on the testimonials of their gullible customers. Furthermore, the poachers do not hold a valid license to sell their products. This means that like any unlicensed medications, the musk gland from a musk deer could possible long-term side effects on the users. This is why it is extremely crucial to target such peddlers selling these unlicensed and potentially life-threatening medications to save the lives of people. In addition, there should be a public awareness program directed at local residents in the U.A.E warning them about the possible dangers exhibited by musk deer glands being sold by door-to-door peddlers and educating them about how they can help authorities foil such schemes and the musk deer from being ruthlessly slaughtered for its gland.

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

U.S Refuses to Enhance Protections for Grizzly Bears in Idaho and Montana

A grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park's Hayden Valley.

It has recently been reported that federal wildlife managers have refused to increase protection for a population of grizzly bears in distant ranges of Idaho and northwest Montana that constitutes fewer than fifty animals, and which conservationists point out are going extinct. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service indicated that the bears roaming the Cabinet Mountains and Yaak River drainage in the Northern Rocky Mountains are expected to rise to the recovery aim of 100 animals without changing their rank to endangered from threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The judgment came after a Montana-based organization called Alliance for the Wild Rockies filed a case against federal wildlife managers in April to order them to strengthen restrictions on logging, road construction, and other human activities on public land that constitute the bears' habitat. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service had for several years dictated that categorizing grizzly bears as endangered was authorized, but other endangered animals took precedence. The Fish and Wildlife Service printed a report last year indicating that grizzly bears ranging across the alleged Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem were decreasing at a yearly rate of roughly 0.8 percent and that the proportion of bears killed by humans either illegally or accidentally escalated by 1999-2012 compared to 1982-1998. However, in a decision printed in Friday's Federal Register, the agency stated that the bear population in Idaho and Montana has been increasing for the past several years. In addition, on Friday, the Obama administration indicated that a different grizzly bear population in Idaho's Selkirk Mountains similarly did not call for further protections, stating that the population was approaching the recovery goals of ninety animals. A government board that manages approximately 600 bears in and around Yellowstone National Park has indicated that the population has improved and should not be given federal protection.

It is very disturbing to see just by looking at the figures of grizzly bear populations and making assumptions that they are either improving or in a critical state without making any further and more closer inspections to determine the animals' population state. That is, it is crucial to investigate the prevalence of human activities in the grizzly bears' habitat and how frequently incidents of human-bear conflicts have been occurring. This was seen in the case of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to never provide any further protection for a population of grizzly bears in Idaho and northwest Montana, much to the dismay of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. Although the Fish and Wildlife Service published a report last year indicating that the bear population in Cabinet-Yaak area has been decreasing dramatically, the agency decided not to provide any further protection for the bears and blindly said that their population is improving. This type of action does not help in the conservation of grizzly bears or even other animals. In order to ensure the survival of America's wildlife, it is important that the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service should collaborate with other conservation groups across the country and listen to what they have to say regarding the plight of animals in jeopardy, including grizzly bears, before making any move. These animals are currently still thriving in a small portion of the lower 48 states which consist mainly of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming ever since they were completely eradicated from the entire western U.S. If the U.S wants to ensure that the grizzly bear continues to make its home in its native range, then there should be more enhanced conservation efforts like reintroducing the bear in parts of the western U.S where it had long disappeared. These include southern Rocky Mountains, the American Southwest, the entire Pacific Northwest, and even California where it is the state animal.

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Study- Killing Wolves Would Lead to More Attacks on Livestock

Gray wolf

A recent study has found that, contrary to what many people think, killing wolves does not always decrease attacks on domestic livestock. Researchers from Washington State University have discovered that for every wolf killed in the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming over the past 25 years, there was a five percent increase in livestock killing the next year. The killing of livestock only began diminishing after overall numbers of wolves were down by more than 25 percent. According to Rob Wielgus, professor of wildlife ecology and director of the university's Large Carnivore Conservation Lab, it seems that killing the alpha male and alpha female wolves allows subordinate members to start breeding which results in more breeding pairs. The breeding pairs are more inclined to attack and kill livestock because they are trying to keep the pups well-fed. Professor Wielgus further added that a previous research showed that livestock predation by bears and pumas increased when dominant male individuals were killed which enabled younger undisciplined individuals to take control of their superiors' territory. However, he did not expect to see similar results in wolves which hunt in packs and function as a strict social structure. He indicated that the moment of discovery came when researchers saw that the 5 percent increase in breeding pairs that resulted from each wolf killed matched the 5 percent in livestock killings. Acclaimed ecology professor William J. Ripple from Oregon State University stated that the study seemed to be crucial and it could eventually lead to considerable changes in wolf management if it holds up.

It is extremely interesting to see how killing a large carnivorous species of animals in order to help protect domestic livestock can have adverse side effects. This was recently discovered in the case of wolves in the U.S, which have always been in the spotlight regarding livestock predation and the ongoing conflicts between conservation groups, distraught ranchers, and the federal government. Whenever wolves prey on domestic livestock, the response has always been retaliatory. That is, ranchers would swiftly respond by killing any wolf on sight within the vicinity of their land. However, despite killing any wolves over the past 25 years, ranchers in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming continue to lose their livestock to the animals. The reason for such an unfortunate side effect was probably because the ranchers started killing wolves which appeared to be alpha males and females whose job is to keep subordinate pack members in line. When the alpha male and female wolves get killed, their deaths would allow subordinate pack members to take over and start forming breeding pairs without the approval of their superiors. This, in turn, leads to further conflicts between people and wolves and therefore contributes to more livestock predation by wolves despite retaliatory killings by ranchers. This is why it is extremely crucial to make considerable changes in wolf management, in order to ensure that ranchers and wolves can live alongside one another in relative peace. Instead of killing wolves, a better alternative would be to employ livestock guardian dogs to protect the ranchers' livestock from wolves. This practice keeps both wolves and livestock safe without either side falling victim to any predator; be it human or wolf.

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Unregulated Sand Mining and Fishing Threatening Ganges River Dolphins in Assam

Ganges river dolphin

Famed Indian naturalist Dr. Anwaruddin Choudhury has recently stated that human activities such as uncontrolled sand mining and fishing in Brahmaputra and Kulsi Rivers have been obliquely affecting the survival of Ganges river dolphins. He also stressed that the government of Assam and environmental groups should come up with an efficient plan to protect the endangered marine mammal in the Indian subcontinent. Dr. Choudhury, who has been studying Indian mammals for thirty years, indicated that fishing by using some nets have been affecting the dolphins' movement in the Kulsi River which is known for having some of densest populations of dolphins in the world. He further added that the dolphins were reported to have died after being entangled in fishing nets in Brahmaputra and Kulsi Rivers. One particular type of fishing nets that are responsible for dolphin deaths are those made of monofilament fibers, which do not reflect the animals' bio-sonar signals. This means that dolphins are unable to detect the monofilament nets and risk getting entangled in them. Furthermore, Dr. Choudhury pointed out that sand mining is polluting the dolphins' habitat in the Kulsi River, and urged that it should be controlled through the conservation perspective. He indicated that Kulsi River, which flows through un-forested villages in Assam's Kamrup district, could be proclaimed as a community reserve for the conservation of the dolphins. He also forbade ongoing movement of tourist boats in dolphin habitat, stating that the boats' movement would disturb the dolphins. He recommended that tourists can see the dolphins from the RCC bridge and the State Tourism Department could introduce conducted tours to the river by giving wide attention about the dolphins.

The Ganges river dolphin is renowned across India as its national aquatic animal. However, it is severely threatened by overfishing, poaching, and pollution in its native range. This is why it is very important to adhere to the guidelines provided by Dr. Choudhury to ensure the survival of this magnificent species of dolphins. Some of the biggest threats this dolphin is facing includes the use of monofilament nets which the species is unable to detect and as a result, ends up becoming entangled and dies. This type of net is also used by poachers and selected fishermen who ruthlessly slaughter the dolphins for their oil. Furthermore, sand mining in Assam has also been putting the dolphins' lives in jeopardy. These magnificent freshwater-dwelling marine mammals require a great deal of protection through well-concerted efforts, which includes efficient anti-poaching measurements and promoting responsible tourism.

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Report- Illegal Wildlife Trade is Expanding Online

Jaguar cub

A recent report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has uncovered some appalling statistics about the illegal wildlife trade on the Internet, revealing just how awful things have gotten with this illicit and lucrative industry. Nature World News reported how the illegal trade of endangered species, especially tigers, is growing, in part because of a demand spurred by tiger farming. However, while the illegal trade of tigers can be traced back to first-class societies in China and India alone, there is also an increasing number of international clients and sellers strictly online. The report, titled "Wanted- Dead or Alive", uncovered that a devastating 33,006 live animals were offered for purchase on 280 sites in sixteen countries over six weeks. Even more appalling was that almost a third of those animals were endangered or critically endangered according to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). Furthermore, a total of 9,500 endangered animal adverts were discovered to be worth slightly $11 million in likely profit. In addition, the number of people sponsoring for live animals exceeded the number of offers to sell body parts of endangered animals. The IFAW found that live animal offers added up to a colossal 54 % of all the adverts. According to IFAW's Campaigns and Enforcement Manager Tania McCrea-Steele, the scale of illegal online wildlife trade indicates that the Internet presents a real threat to wildlife during a time when poaching levels are reaching extraordinary levels. She further added that many clients may be unconcerned that they are supporting an illicit industry.

The statistics shown by the IFAW indicate that the illegal wildlife trade is reaching unprecedented levels. Not only has it led to selling of endangered species, both live and dead, in shops, restaurants, and pharmacies but also on the Internet. Even more shocking is that a total of 33,006 live endangered animals are being offered for human consumption. In addition, majority of the world's human population may be unaware that it is supporting the illegal wildlife trade which deprives endangered species of their freedom and they are subjected to human consumption either in the form of food, medicine, or property. The global human population needs to wake up and realize that what it is doing wrongful when it comes to purchasing endangered species, both living and dead. By purchasing endangered species, people are supporting an industry run by hard-core criminals and the money they pay could be used for other criminal activities such as drug trafficking, arms trafficking, human trafficking, and even terrorism. This is why it is extremely essential that people around the world must be educated about the dangers of the illegal wildlife trade and what they can do to help stop it. NGOs, conservation groups, and other authorities alone cannot stop this ongoing threat from continuously ridding this planet of its endangered species; it is also up to regular people to join the fight in ending the illegal wildlife trade and poaching to save endangered species from being completely eradicated.

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Friday, November 28, 2014

GPS-based Study Uncovers Tactics Used by India's Leopards to Flourish in Human-Dominated Areas

One of the five leopards being fitted with a GPS collar.

A recent GPS-based study of India's leopards has examined the secret lives of these big cats and documented their tactics to thrive in areas dominated by people. This study was carried out in collaboration of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) India, scientists Morten Odden from Hedmark University College and John Linnell from the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, the forest departments of Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra, and the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation. Their discoveries were published in the journal PLOS ONE in an article titled "Adaptable Neighbors: Movement Patterns of GPS-Collared Leopards in Human-Dominated Landscapes in India." During the study, five leopards seen as "problem animals" were captured from human-dominated areas and fitted with radio collars. Of the five animals, two males were translocated 31 miles away while the three females were released near the location of the capture. The scientists closely observed the leopards' activities for up to a year and documented their behavior, including tactics to avoid direct encounters with people. The findings showed that the males moved 55 miles and 28 miles respectively from their release sites. According to Vidya Athreya from WCS India, this demonstrated the uselessness of translocating leopards as a management method. However, the animals employed strategies to avoid direct contact with people, despite reliance on their resources. First of all, the leopards mainly moved at night, which timed completely with low human activity. Recordings indicated that they spent more time closer to people's houses at night than during the day, which gave them access to livestock. The scientists found that the two male leopards inhabited home ranges of 26 miles and 40 miles respectively, including one in the peripheries of Mumbai. The three females, on the other hand, were found to live in areas with highest human densities but inhabited smallest home ranges that were 3-5.7 square miles. The home ranges of the three female leopards were found to be similar to those in productive protected areas with very satisfying prey density. This showed that the food sources, which in this was domestic livestock, supported the three females. Furthermore, two of the females even gave birth to cubs during the time of study which confirmed the females' residence. Although they were living close to people and relying on their resources, none of the five leopards were involved in human fatalities during their individual captures and releases. The scientists emphasized that presence of leopards in India's human-dominated landscapes need to be dealt with proactive alleviation measures. They further added that there is an obligation for more studies on wildlife ecology that share space with people, so that better understanding can help rethink leopard management policy.

The study conducted by this group of scientists has resulted in a conclusion leopards in human-occupied areas are not always regarded as "stray" or "problem" animals, but residents as well. This means that policy-makers should rethink India's management techniques in dealing with leopards. It would be useful if policy-makers and scientists specializing in studying leopards should form a joint collaboration in preventing fatal encounters between leopards and people. Efforts should be put into averting losses to people instead of reacting after the losses. One of the basic rules in avoiding a possible encounter with leopards as with any dangerous wild animals is to never venture outside at dusk or night. In addition, garbage and other rubbish should be properly managed in order to prevent stray dogs from coming into an area to feed off of scraps left behind by people. The dogs would draw the attention of leopards who see them as potential food source and when leopards move into an area(s) rife with garbage, people get caught in the crossfire. This is why it is extremely crucial that policy-makers and scientists should join forces, in order to improvise management tactics directed at dealing with leopards and preventing human-leopard conflict.

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Australia's Crocodile Attack Database to Help Conservation Efforts and Save Lives of People

Saltwater crocodile

It has recently been reported that an Australia-based database which lists crocodile attacks from around the world will be used to assist conservation efforts for the species and save people's lives after ensuring financing. This database, called CrocBite, was established last year by Dr. Adam Britton, a researcher at Charles Darwin University, and his pupil Brandon Sideleau. The database has now been given $30,000 in financing through an Economic and Social Research Council Impact Acceleration award so that it can be extended with the aid of Imperial College London. According to Dr. Britton, CrocBite had recorded 1,800 crocodile-related incidents, which included fatal and non-fatal attacks. There are now roughly 2,700 recorded crocodile attacks from around the world. The new financing will be used to help communities in Africa and Asia to better document crocodile attacks, along with giving more accurate information on the database. The CrocBite records indicate that saltwater crocodiles, including the ones found in northern Australia, are the most dangerous of all, claiming lives of more than 300 people and injuring roughly 200 between 2008 and 2013. Nile crocodiles, on the other hand, were responsible for 466 injuries and deaths to this date although the number is probably far greater due to lack of documented incidents. Comparatively, the American alligator was accounted for 61 registered deaths and injuries between 2008 and 2013 and the Australian freshwater crocodile for only five incidents. Dr. Britton also added that some countries have implemented methods to prevent life-threatening encounters with crocodiles. For example, in Sri Lanka, people have set up cages into rivers so people can climb inside and bathe safely. However, Dr. Britton also added that more needs to be done to curb crocodile attacks on people while proceeding with conservation efforts that have led to increase in crocodile numbers.

It is extremely beneficial to have a special database that records animal attacks to be used in helping conservation efforts directed at saving such animals and even people from dangerous encounters with these animals. This is seen in the case of crocodiles and alligators, which have been historically and currently responsible for staggering numbers of human fatalities. Such encounters occur when people are either washing, fishing, or even bathing along the water's edge. Whenever there has been crocodile-related incident, the response is usually to have the animal killed. But due to conservation efforts directed at saving crocodiles and their relatives from being ruthlessly slaughtered for their skins, new tactics have been employed to keep both people and crocodiles safe from each other. One such method has been implemented by people in Sri Lanka in which they set up cages in rivers allowing people to climb inside and safely bathe. In some parts of Africa, people would put up some sort of a fence-like barricade between the riverbank and the river so that they can bathe and perform their daily chores without risking potential attacks from crocodiles. However, despite the use of proper safety measurements, crocodile attacks still continue to occur and regularly make headlines. This is especially seen in areas where people lack necessary materials and resources to keep themselves safe from crocodiles. Therefore, it is crucial to provide people living in a climate of fear with proper equipment and teaching them on how to prevent lethal encounters with crocodiles while bathing and carrying out daily chores along riverbanks at the same time.

View article here       

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Study- India's Ten Bird Sanctuaries in Danger of Unsustainable Development

A recent study has warned that ten bird sanctuaries and biodiversity areas across India are under severe threat of being destroyed due to unsustainable developmental practices. Among these sanctuaries, two are located in the state of Maharashtra. The report, named "Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas: A Global Network for Conserving Nature and Benefiting People", was developed by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) in association with BirdLife International. A spokesperson for the BNHS pointed out that one part of the report titled "IBAs in Danger" listed ten major bird areas in danger of being lost forever unless urgent restorative measurements would be launched to protect them. Some of these sites in danger include the village of Basai in Gurgaon district, the Flamingo City of Gujarat's Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary in Solapur, Mumbai's Mahul-Sewri Creek, Ranebennur Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka's Haveri district, the island of Tillangchong in the Nicobar Archipelago, and four in Madhya Pradesh including Sailana Kharmor Sanctuary in Ratlam. Presented at the World Parks Congress in Sydney, the report indicated that the ten threatened IBAs contain habitats like forests, grasslands, and coastal and inland wetlands which are in the greatest danger of losing their important biodiversity. In addition, there are several other IBAs under pressure from different types of  unsustainable practices. Apart from attracting and caring for different species of birds, most of these IBAs give ecosystem benefits such as natural pest control if properly managed, tourism potential, and water supply for drinking and irrigation. The report also listed some of the biggest causes behind the loss of biodiversity and habitat in IBAs, which included destruction or turmoils because of infrastructure developments, extensive grazing of livestock outside the limits of historic rural lands, and wrong anti-people conservation policies. Other issues include random agricultural expansion, poaching, industrial and sewage pollution, and accelerated urbanization. Furthermore, 356 of the 12,000 IBAs in 122 countries are in similar danger even though half of them are lawfully protected.
Great Indian bustard

It is extremely disturbing to see that some of India's IBAs are under a tremendous threat of human-made threats and unsustainable development. These areas not only provide accommodation for birds, but also provide ecosystem benefits such as tourism potential, natural pest control and water supply for drinking and irrigation. If these areas continue to be affected by unsustainable human practices, then people living in the countryside would not receive ample water to conduct irrigation. In other words, the threats these IBAs are facing will not just destroy them but also impact the livelihood of farmers and other people living in the countryside. Furthermore, these IBAs would lose their potential as tourist attractions. This would tremendously affect the economy and socioeconomic growth of India and other countries where bird sanctuaries and biodiversity areas are facing similar situations. This is why it is extremely essential to undertake urgent restorative measures to ensure that IBAs and biodiversity areas in India and other countries will survive. Some species of birds like the great Indian bustard is critically endangered and one of its key strongholds, the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, is under a great deal of threat from unsustainable development practices. This sanctuary is one of several sanctuaries in India being used to help this magnificent bird rebound from the brink of extinction. If the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary becomes destroyed, it would have an ominous impact on the conservation and recovery efforts being implemented save the bird. Therefore, the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary and all other bird sanctuaries across India and other countries listed as being in tremendous danger of unsustainable development should be heavily protected by any means necessary.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Former Game Show Host Bob Barker Contributes $500,000 to Save Circus Animals in Peru

Bob Barker

The celebrity world is full of individuals who, aside from doing their professional work, become involved in issues related to a wide range of global topics in an effort to make a difference in this world. Among these topics include issues related to the environment such as climate change, global warming, and even the plight of endangered wildlife. One of the recent examples in this crusade to help save endangered species is Bob Barker. The former host of the well-known game show The Price is Right has contributed $500,000 to help implement Peru's current ban on wild animal circuses, in what is his most recent attempt to stop animal cruelty. Mr. Barker's charitable donation will finance the relocation of once confined and abused animals to stable new homes as part of the Animal Defenders International's (ADI) "lion's share" mission. According to the ADI, the former circus animals that are set to find new permanent homes include thirty African lions which are being transferred to a sanctuary in Colorado and nine primates which are going to sanctuaries in the Amazon. In addition to Peru, other countries that have joined the ban on wild animal circuses include Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and El Salvador. Mr. Barker, who is known for his love of animals, had made similar efforts in the past to help save animals suffering from animal cruelty. For example, in 2011, he contributed almost $2 million to fund ADI's rescue of two groups of lions and other circus animals in Bolivia and construction of facilities at two animal sanctuaries in the U.S. In 2013, he donated nearly $1 million to move three African elephants from the Toronto Zoo to a wide-open sanctuary in San Andreas, California. Since retiring from hosting The Price is Right in 2007, Mr. Barker also made ample donations to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Two of the thirty African lions recently rescued from a circus in Peru.

This is another example of notable figures in the mainstream media who has played an important role in contributing to the cause of ending animal cruelty. Mr. Barker has become involved in the animal rights activism since the late 1970s, and has significantly contributed to helping raise awareness about animal cruelty and ending it. For example, he founded the DJ&T Foundation in 1994 which donated millions of dollars for programs specializing in neutering animals and to finance animal rescue and park facilities across the U.S. Mr. Barker has never backed down from helping fight for a good cause. This was seen recently with his donation of $500,000 to save and relocate animals suffering from abuse and neglect in a circus in Peru. The mainstream media is full of celebrities involved in fighting for a cause in order to make a difference to the world. These celebrities include movie stars, athletes, and other figures which people look up to. Many people, when they see their favorite movie star, athlete, or anybody else on television or in a newspaper or a magazine, they often wish they could be like them in terms of profession and lifestyle. However, such figures are also involved in charities and other movements directed at global issues related to topics such as the global environment, health, human rights, animal rights, etc. Their efforts to fight for a good cause related to such issues should be seen as an inspiration to people around the world to come together in making a difference in the world through positive means.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Government of Saudi Arabia Expands Ban on Hunting Migratory Birds

Greater crested terns

The government of Saudi Arabia has recently restated the ban on hunting migratory birds that pass through the country in thousands towards Africa. Sources from the Saudi Wildlife Authority (SWA) told Arab News that even though Saudi Arabia was free of the bird flu virus, it does not want to risk having the disease to reappear with the arrival of migratory birds. The ban is a deterrent action, considering the predominance of the disease in other parts of the world. Saudi Arabia is known to accommodate several thousand migratory birds that pass through the country in early winter and reappear as they make their way back north in the coming of spring. Most of the birds arrive from eastern and northern Europe and western Asia. They include cranes, falcons, flamingos, houbara bustards, passerines, pelicans, and turtle doves. Out of these birds, houbara bustards and falcons are among the preferred targets for hunters in Saudi Arabia. Different species of falcons include saker, green, and lanner falcons whose prices can vary from SR10,000 to SR100,000. The SWA has sent several teams to areas such as Al-Asfar Lake, Al-Hair in Riyadh, Domat Al-Jandal, the Farasan Islands, Jubail Marine Protected Area, and Wadi Al-Jazan to watch for any flaws among the birds.
Houbara bustard

It is very beneficial that the government of Saudi Arabia is implementing steps to ensure the survival of migratory birds arriving in the country while migrating to Africa. This action would not only help in keeping birds safe from human hunters, but allow birdwatchers to view them in peace. Furthermore, the prevention of hunting migratory birds indicates that Saudi Arabia cannot risk any chance of experiencing bird flu disease even though the country never had any prior history of the disease affecting its human or animal population. However, this movement by Saudi Arabia should also be taken by other countries as a step to prevent any unlawful hunting of migratory birds arriving onto their lands to either spend the winter or temporarily stay while migrating to their winter destinations. This would help in maintaining the survival of migratory birds countries, providing opportunities for birdwatchers to view the animals, and maybe also prevent the spread of bird flu in those countries.

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Japan Urges China to Act Against Illegal Coral Poaching

Red coral

It has recently been reported that Japan has urged China to act against the threat of illegal coral poaching. The demand came when Japanese officials warned that Chinese fishermen presently in the area would not be allowed to seek refuge on the Ogasawara Islands, situated roughly 600 miles south of Tokyo, from a typhoon which is anticipated to arrive on Thursday. Japan has bolstered its coastguard and police attendance after witnessing a climactic increase in the number of poachers illegally harvesting red coral in its restricted economic zone. Normally, Chinese poachers illegally harvested coral in the East China Sea and near the island of Okinawa but are believed to have moved to the Ogasawara archipelago to escape strict security. It is said that more than 200 Chinese fishing boats have been sighted in waters off the coast of Izu and Ogasawara Islands, inciting calls for Tokyo to put more pressure on Beijing. Members of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party approved a solution demanding the government to implant the strongest probable protest, adding that they were infuriated by the "barbaric act of pulling out coral by the roots." Chinese officials indicated that they were taking preventive actions to stop the illegal harvesting of coral. Late last month, the Japanese coastguard arrested a Chinese fisherman suspected of poaching coral after an 85-minute chase.
Example of jewelry made of red coral

It is highly essential that China and Japan must team up to put a stop to the illegal harvesting of coral, especially red coral. For thousands of years, red coral has been traded and made into jewelry and ornaments. This practice continues today in China where jewelry made from red coral is popular among wealthy people. However, illegal harvesting of coral has and continues to significantly damage the marine life off the coast of China, Japan, and other places where red coral is found. Therefore, it is crucial to impose strict laws banning the illegal harvesting of coral around the world and not just in specific locations such as China, Japan, and the Mediterranean. Illegal harvesting of coral can tremendously affect other marine wildlife which rely on coral as a source of food, shelter, etc. Without coral, other marine species would face starvation, predation, and numerous other threats which would dramatically deplete their numbers. This is why it is absolutely necessary to take serious measurements to prevent any illegal harvesting of coral in order to ensure the survival of marine species around the world.

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Environmental Investigation Agency Report Connects Chinese Delegations to Tanzania's Elephant Poaching

A skeleton of an elephant killed by poachers outside of Arusha in Tanzania.  

A recent report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) titled "Vanishing Point" has accused powerful Chinese delegations as passages in illegally exporting ivory out of Tanzania, contributing to the disturbing decline in the country's elephant population. It also specified the effort, money, and time spent by Chinese nationals in Tanzania to form a system of people who aid the smuggling of ivory. According to EIA's executive director Mary Rice, the agency's investigators spoke to an organization of ivory traders in Zanzibar and found out that Chinese nationals have established legal businesses but also revel in ivory smuggling. She further added that different people to different jobs to ensure that ivory gets successfully smuggled out of Tanzania. For example, one person would obtain the ivory, another person can take it to a holding center, and there would also be a person who can transfer the ivory to a port where customs officials are bribed to allow it to be exported. The report also indicated that corrupt Tanzanian officials have played into the hands of ivory smugglers. In addition, it also added that more than 100,000 elephants were ruthlessly massacred between 2010 and 2012. Furthermore, in reference to China's delegations becoming conduits for ivory smuggling, the report pointed out that a formal visit by a Chinese naval task force to Dar es Salaam in December led to a major rise in business for ivory traders. One trader bragged of making $50,000 from sales to the naval crew and a Chinese national was caught trying to come to the port with 81 ivory tusks destined for two mid-ranking naval officers. The report even revealed that when President Xi Jinping visited Tanzania in March 2013 with a large retinue, it led to a surge in illegal ivory sales and caused local prices to increase.
Elephants in Tanzania's Selous Game Reserve

It is extremely disturbing to see how the illegal ivory trade is facilitated as a result of Chinese delegates arriving to Tanzania for diplomatic purposes. The fact that the increase in elephant-poaching and illegal ivory trade following diplomatic visits by Chinese nationals in Tanzania has made the country one of the largest sources of poached ivory in the world. One of Tanzania's protected areas, Selous Game Reserve, has witnessed a 67 percent drop in its elephant population between 2009 and 2013 - from 50,000 elephants to 13,000. In addition, Tanzania has lost more elephants to poachers in this four-year span than any other country. For example, more than 10,000 elephant were massacred in 2013 which is equal to thirty elephants killed per day. The reason for the surge in Tanzania's elephants being ruthlessly slaughtered as a result of Chinese diplomatic visits is clear; to meet the growing demand of ivory in China. As long as the elephant-poaching epidemic continues in Tanzania, it would greatly affect the country's tourism industry and the socioeconomic development. Furthermore, the money produced from the illegal ivory trade would be used for global criminal activities such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms trafficking, and even terrorism. If Tanzania and China want to maintain a diplomatic relation, then both the countries' governments should become involved in the battle against poaching in the illegal ivory trade. That is, they should help each other in identifying any delegations or corrupt officials involved in or suspected of being involved in poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. In addition, customs officials and other authorities should be educated in looking out for any signs of bribery in order to prevent any ivory or other endangered wildlife products from being smuggled. Tanzania, like most African countries, relies on tourism as a crucial economic factor and when poaching and the illegal wildlife trade occurs, it greatly affects the country's economy as well as the tourism industry.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Intensification in Patrolling to Repress Poaching Along Odisha's Chilika Lake

Chilika Lake

It has recently been reported that Chilika Lake in the Indian state of Odisha has undergone an intensification in patrolling around its vicinity to curb the threat of poaching. The reason is because there is a great demand for eggs, fish, and meat on the day of Chhadakhai which comes after Kartika Purnima. According to wildlife officials, there has been an increase in poaching of waterfowl that migrate down to Chilika Lake every winter from the Himalayas and North Asia. Because of the growing demand for meat on Chhadakhai, the birds are heavily poached to satisfy consumer needs in cities and towns like Balugaon, Berhampur, Bhubaneshwar, and Khorda. According to Divisional Forest Officer Bikash Ranjan Das, there are seventeen camps with ninety personnel have been established along the lake's 16-km coastline. In addition, two boats and vehicles are being used to safeguard the lake. He further added that wildlife personnel are keeping a meticulous watch on the village of Mangalajodi, Sorana, and the island of Nalabana which are known to host the winter visitors.
A flock of lesser flamingos in Chilika Lake

It is very beneficial to see what the authorities are doing to safeguard the populations of migratory birds that flock to Chilika Lake each year to spend the winter before returning back to their native homeland in North Asia. The day of Chhadakhai is known to be the time when Hindus would eat non-vegetarian dishes after spending the month of Kartika resisting the consumption of meat or other animal products. However, when the demand for meat grows high, people would turn to wild birds or other wild animals. This can have a tremendous impact on the ecosystem and wildlife of a particular wild place like Chilika Lake, which is known to be one of the key spots in India where migratory birds come down each year to spend the winter. In addition, the method of illegally poaching these birds would also affect the tourism industry of Chilika Lake, especially when birdwatchers come to view the migratory birds. While it is necessary to increase patrolling around Chilika Lake to look out for and combat any poaching activities, it is also important to raise awareness about poaching in the vicinity of the lake and educate the public about how it threatens the birds and the impact it has on the tourism industry.

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