Sunday, February 23, 2014

Chitwan National Park Turns to Advanced Technologies for Wildlife Conservation

Sal forest in Chitwan National Park

It has recently been reported that Chitwan National Park in Nepal has begun directing its attention towards the use of advanced technologies in an effort to save its wildlife vulnerable to poaching. The national park, which is famous for being the home of endangered species like the Bengal tiger and Indian one-horned rhinoceros, has started ratifying hi-tech means of effective conservation efforts which include the use of  drones and a helicopter to control the threat of poaching. In addition, it is also planning to prepare sniffer dogs for the cause. According to Chief Conservation Officer Kamal Jung Kunwar, the national park's staff is currently training four dogs and will bring four more puppies to be trained for nine months. He further added the use of drones installed with cameras have allowed the park's staff to patrol inaccessible areas since last year. However, now there is a plan to replace ordinary drones with more advanced ones. The helicopter, on the other hand, is going to be used for patrolling long distances. Chitwan National Park has also bolstered its security by establishing 123 posts and assigning 1,100 personnel, including members of the Nepalese Army, for more efficient patrolling. In addition, Officer Kunwar claimed that the staff have also sought possible support from local people to prevent poaching.
Indian one-horned rhinoceros

This article clearly gives an ideal example of a national park that is committed to take a tough stand against the threat of poaching. With advanced technology, Chitwan National Park is becoming a force to be reckoned with when it comes to protecting its wildlife. The use of drones and a helicopter will allow forest officials to patrol areas inaccessible on foot, which would mean that poachers have a lesser chance of eluding the authorities undetected. Furthermore, the national park has recently installed solar panels which has resulted in the fitting of electric lights and power outlets. This would allow security officials to keep their mobile phones charged, and therefore keep the communication between them running. In addition, sniffer dogs are another means of security to protect the Chitwan's wildlife. Normally, these animals are favored by both law enforcement and the military to protect human beings but now they are being employed to keep the wildlife safe from poachers. A similar example of using dogs to protect wildlife had been reported in India's Kaziranga National Park almost two years ago. Chitwan National Park should not only be praised for its efforts in protecting wildlife, but also viewed as an inspiration and a model for wildlife officials around the world in keeping the wildlife in their home countries safe from poachers. This would help enhance better protection and preservation of the world's wildlife.

View article here       

Saturday, February 22, 2014

San Diego Wildlife Advocates Prepare to Bring Back Mexican Wolves in California

A female Mexican wolf and pups.

It has recently been reported that the Mexican wolf population in the states of Arizona and New Mexico has increased to 83 individuals from 75 last year and just four in 1998. This significant growth has led to efforts from the California Wolf Center in San Diego County to bring back the wolves in the state. The group is preparing to restore Mexican wolves in California by urging state and federal conservation plans and educating the public. According to California Wolf Center director Lauren Richie, the purpose of this preparation is to prevent any conflicts with domestic livestock which would result in massive retaliation against wolves and would therefore hinder the conservation efforts intended to bring them back in areas where they had long disappeared. Earlier this month, Chuck Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, proposed to not list the gray wolf as an endangered species but as a species of special concern and that a ban be placed on killing of wolves in California. The department is expected to consider the recommendation and could act on it April. However, Ms. Richie stated that she is puzzled by the proposal because currently only one gray wolf called OR7 is roaming the California-Oregon border and believes that the Endangered Species List is required. In her own words, she stated that the department should use a lot of scientific data to make the decision of listing a species as "endangered" or not at the state level. In the case of wolves, there is not much scientific data because California does not have a wolf population. She further added that it is hard to predict how wolves would come, stating that it depends on the habitat and prey base available for them. Nonetheless, she is determined and confident that the California Wolf Center is paving way for wolves to come back into the state regardless of what the protections are because they believe it is unavoidable and they view being proactive is positive regardless of what the legal status is.
A map of the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area.

It is absolutely amazing to see that the Mexican wolf population in the United States has increased to a significant figure, which is crucial to its recovery. Even more exciting is that notable groups like the California Wolf Center is preparing to bring these magnificent animals back into the state, where it must have thrived before disappearing. The Mexican wolf historically roamed throughout much of the American Southwest, including California. I very much hope that the center and its members will be able to achieve their goal in bringing wolves back into California through public education and urging state and federal conservation plans. These animals were a dominant species alongside the puma, and significantly maintained the populations of prey species in California. In recent times, there have been reports of a wolf called OR7 roaming the California-Oregon border which has raised hopes among wildlife groups. However, there have also been reports about keeping wolves off the Endangered Species List primarily because their overall populations have reached to such an extent that it makes them ideal for human hunters to target them. This action should not be implemented without significant scientific data indicating whether wolves should be kept as endangered species or not. Mexican wolves, whose numbers have reached 83 in the wild, are still a critically endangered species and any killing of them would drastically affect the conservation efforts aimed at repopulating them in areas where they had long been eradicated. Furthermore, northern California once had a significant population of wolves and with the appearance of OR7, it should be noted that wolves would probably return to recolonize areas where they once roamed depending on the habitat and the available prey. It is simply the question of being on the lookout and acting upon the arrival of wolves in northern California. Meanwhile, it is extremely important to be educated about the significance of these animals and call for federal and state conservation plans for them regardless of what their legal status is.

View article here  

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Successfully Assists Guatemalan Authorities to Curb Poaching

Sea Shepherd crew members

It has recently been reported that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's high-speed trimaran known as the Brigitte Bardot successfully assisted the Guatemalan Department of Fisheries in its anti-poaching enforcement actions. The Sea Shepherd was asked by officials of the fisheries department to help battle poaching in Guatemala's waters, and now the conservation society is assisting in reducing the impact of illegal fishing of billfish by commercial fishermen. The crew of the Brigitte Bardot joined forces with a three-person Naval commission and two officials of the fisheries department for patrolling the waters. During the first night, as many as seven boats were boarded by the officials who found that two of the boats had an illegal catch of sailfish. The illegally caught fish were recorded and returned to the sea, while governmental action was taken against the perpetrators. The crew will continue to provide help to the fisheries department on anti-poaching patrols, whose main goal is to gather evidence to the government of Guatemala. The Sea Shepherd is optimistic that if these patrols indicate that illegal fishing takes place on a large scale and shows a tremendous threat in Guatemala's waters, more operations will be conducted to battle this problem. In addition, the crew of the Brigitte Bardot will also give lectures at schools in order to spread awareness and asserting the crucial need for ocean protection.
The Brigitte Bardot at Circular Quay in Sydney.

This article indicates what the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is about when it comes to protecting marine wildlife. This non-profit organization, which was founded in 1977 by Captain Paul Watson, was made famous in the Animal Planet series Whale Wars and is known to use direct-action tactics to inspect and record to reveal and confront illegal activities responsible for the destruction and slaughter of marine wildlife around the world. One of the organization's exploits has recently made news in Guatemala, where it provided assistance to authorities in exposing the threat of illegal commercial fishing that is greatly affecting the country's billfish population. The perpetrators of illegal commercial fishing are known to use two kinds of methods: gillnetting and longline fishing. Both of these techniques are considered to be highly destructive and often aimlessly kill ocean life, and must be in consent with a set of government standards. When the Sea Shepherd and Guatemalan authorities confiscated the recent illegal catch, they discovered that it did not meet the criteria of being in compliance with government standards. This indicated that Guatemala's waters are rife with such illegal activities threatening to eradicate not just the billfish, but other wildlife as well. I feel that with organizations like the Sea Shepherd being around and conducting protection efforts, there is a good chance that the world's marine wildlife will be safe. The Sea Shepherd is known to operate along coastlines around the world, but I also think it would be equally beneficial if the organization would conduct protection efforts in-land especially in the Amazon region which is home to the Amazon river dolphin. This dolphin, like its oceanic relatives, is under severe threat from issues such as pollution, habitat destruction through dam construction, and fishing. Recently, it has been reported that this dolphin is under threat for being used as bait to catch fish. This is why I feel it is extremely crucial for the Sea Shepherd to look into this issue, and somehow provide a helping hand in curbing such atrocities affecting the river dolphins.

View article here

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Resolutions Passed to Curb Mining, Quarrying, and Other Threats Near Vulture Habitats

An Indian vulture on a cliff.

It has recently been reported that a conference organized by the Ela Foundation and the Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network (ARRCN) has passed resolutions concerning the vulture population in India. The solutions focused on the vultures' conservation by curbing mining, quarrying, and developmental and recreational activities near breeding sites. In addition, other solutions included identifying threats to vultures and other raptors from electrocution and enforcing safety measures, inspecting the negative effects of pesticides, banning the use of manja for kite flying, and the review of the conservation status of India's raptors. The conference, which was attended by 240 delegates from twenty countries, including Japan, India, Russia, the United Kingdom, and United States, focused at promoting raptor conservation and research by exchange of scientific knowledge, training researchers, and associating of member countries. According to Satish Pande, the organizing secretary of the conference, the study of raptors is crucial because they are apex predators and indicators of habitat quality. In addition to passing raptor conservation resolutions, the conference also consisted of two field visits where delegates were presented with conservation efforts of the Ela Foundation for the critically endangered Indian and white-rumped vultures with community participation. The delegates were also shown active breeding colonies of these vultures, along with other Indian raptor species.
Manja-making process with coating of cotton thread with mixture of glass powder, colors, etc. (top) and bottles of diclofenac (bottom). Both of these have contributed to the downfall in India's vulture population, along with other birds.

It is amazing to see what India is doing by joining forces with other countries, in order to help save its native raptor populations especially vultures. These birds of prey have suffered dramatically over several years in the hands of humans from electrocution to chemical poisoning from pesticides and diclofenac. In addition, the use of manja for kite flying is another factor that has tremendously affected southern Asia's bird populations. Ironically, manja has also claimed human lives as well. This is why it is absolutely crucial to take action against these threats, which not only affect vultures and other birds but people as well. Vultures and other raptors are well-known as indicators of habitat quality and apex predators. This means they play a crucial role in keeping populations of small animals in check, and their presence in a habitat indicates whether its quality is good or not. Vultures are favored as scavengers not just in India, but also in other parts of the world, and are known to feast on carcasses that are known to be major sources of deadly diseases such as anthrax and botulism. Without vultures, India would be in great risk of these diseases and it is absolutely necessary to guarantee the survival of these raptors through joint partnership to curb the factors that have decimated and continue to decimate their numbers.

View article here  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Rhinos to be Relocated from South Africa to Botswana in Anti-poaching Campaign

A white rhinoceros in Kruger National Park

It has recently been reported that up to hundred rhinos will be transferred from South Africa to Botswana's distant wilderness in an attempt to keep them out of the reach of excessive poaching. The mass relocation comes after 1,004 rhinos were ruthlessly slaughtered last year and the failure of every measurement attempted so far to diminish the terror, which is fueled by the demand for rhino horns in Asia. This $8 million initiative was announced together by two conservation companies: Great Plains Conservation and &Beyond. The two companies stated that each rhino would be tagged and micro-chipped for research and monitoring. It is also said that a committed anti-poaching team will work with the government of Botswana to monitor the animals. &Beyond's chief executive Joss Kent assured that Botswana has an exceptional security system to protect endangered species, and will be a safe haven for relocated rhinos. The company also stated that it would announce definite fundraising drives to allow tourism shareholders, travel partners, tour operators, and guests to help save the rhino. South African National Parks (SANParks) accepted the plan, stating that the initiative would be a "good one."

I'm very proud to find what new measurements have been implemented, in order to help save the rhinos in Africa. In addition to simply patrolling areas in South Africa where poaching has been running rampant, the plan of relocating rhinos out of harm's way is an excellent strategy. Botswana, which is landlocked in southern Africa, had received six rhinos from South Africa last year and is home to the Khama Rhino Sanctuary where not a single animal had been poached since its development 24 years ago. This indicates that Botswana has a substantial security system in protecting the wildlife, and I have a good feeling that the hundred rhinos about to be relocated there will be safe. I also feel that it is crucial to keep a close watch for poachers, who will turn towards Botswana for rhinos upon hearing about this relocation effort. These individuals are very smart and are always keeping their eyes and ears open for any good opportunity to conduct their evil deeds; even if it means turning to another country besides South Africa where more than sixty percent of rhino poaching occurs.

View article here 

Prince Charles and Other World Leaders Declare Action Against the Illegal Wildlife Trade

Charles, Prince of Wales

It has recently been reported that Prince Charles of Britain made a profound plea for the world to come together to put an end to the illegal wildlife trade destroying threatened wildlife such as elephants and tigers in Africa and Asia. His appeal at the London Conference on the illegal wildlife trade demanded prominent action by global leaders to be doubled by action on the ground to halt the demand for illegal wildlife products and punish those involved in the business. The conference was the pinnacle of a week of events targeted at stimulating efforts to stop the slaughter of endangered species for their body parts, which are much in demand in parts of Asia. In an announcement agreed to at the end of the conference, world leaders vowed to intensify enforcement to protect at risk of poaching, to enforce stiffer penalties on all the individuals involved in the illegal wildlife trade, and to discuss related bribery and corruption. They also agreed to destroy stockpiles of confiscated wildlife products. In his speech, Prince Charles applauded China, France, and the United States for having recently destroyed considerable stockpiles of seized ivory.
A forest elephant in Gabon.

He was approached a little over a year ago by a group of African presidents who made an intense request for help, in which they described the poaching crisis in their countries having reached indescribable heights. The crisis has been the result of militant groups, organized gangs, and terrorist organizations slaughtering greater numbers of elephants and rhinos. New data gathered by the Wildlife Conservation Society disclosed that 65 percent of Central Africa's forest elephants were lost to poaching between 2002 and 2013. Based on the research across eighty sites in five countries, a study indicated that forest elephants are being slaughtered at "a shocking nine percent per year." As a result, the elephants reside in only about a quarter of the area where they once existed. This indicates that the forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the largest country in Africa, are greatly almost empty of elephants. According to researcher Fiona Maisels, who is also the co-author of the study, at least 200,000 elephants were killed between 2002 and 2013, "to the tune of at least sixty a day, or one every twenty minutes, day and night." Prince Charles pointed out that the forests and savannah grasslands have grown "frighteningly silent", and without elephants to help in seed germination, the continuing ecology of forests is "fatally disrupted." He further added that the illegal wildlife trade has now transformed from an environmental issue to a global criminal industry, ranking alongside arms, drug, and human trafficking. In addition to decimating the world's wildlife, the wildlife trade is also spurring corruption and insecurity, and sabotaging efforts to cut poverty and promote sustainable development, especially in Africa.
The war flag of Al-Shabaab, one of several militant groups involved in poaching.

This article is a clear wake-up call to all the world's nations to come together, in order to battle and ultimately put an end to the ongoing threat of poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. Majority of the world's endangered species are continuing to suffer in the bloodthirsty hands of poachers and other individuals involved in this illicit business. These individuals include members of various militant groups and terrorist organizations notably in Africa, who are involved in poaching of the wildlife to finance their civil wars against innocent civilians. Among the major syndicates associated with Africa's poaching epidemic include Al-Shabaab, the Janjaweed, and Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Furthermore, the illegal wildlife trade is also a threat to humanity because it is driving corruption and insecurity, and ruining efforts to put an end to poverty and promote sustainable development. These facts covered are a proof enough to incite the world's nations to take decisive action against this global atrocity that is threatening both animal and human life simultaneously.

View article here