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.

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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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Tennis Player Andy Murray Becomes Global Ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund

Andy Murray posing with two sniffer dogs.

It has recently been reported that tennis player and 2013 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray has become a global ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). In order to show his support to the battle against poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, he will be helping to increase awareness through a Nepal-based initiative that trains dogs to track down poachers and poaching activities in Chitwan National Park. A well-known lover of dogs, Mr. Murray will also be raising crucial funds during the whole of his next year's tennis tour to support this necessary work. The reason is because Nepal boasts with some of the world's most iconic species of animals such as elephants, rhinos, and tigers which are under tremendous threat of poaching for their body parts. In addition, Nepal has also been a basic transport route for products made from the body parts of its endangered species. The country's sniffer-dog training program's main goal is to stop poachers smuggling such illicit merchandise out of Chitwan National Park. This particular program will work with WWF's current wildlife trade program in Nepal. It is even said that a new puppy, who will be part of the first-class training team, will be named "Murray" in honor of Mr. Murray's support.
Andy Murray posing with customs officials over confiscated wildlife products.

It is amazing and beneficial to see how various celebrities are showing their concern and support for the world's environmental catastrophes. Andy Murray is one of the recent celebrities to become an ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund. Other celebrities include Leonardo DiCaprio, Ethan Suplee, Sophia Bush, Jared Leto, and Dick Van Dyke. However, while the following ambassadors and supporters of the World Wildlife Fund are film celebrities, it seems that Mr. Murray must be the first sports celebrity to become the organization's ambassador. He will be giving his support by donating funds during his tennis tour next year and also help raise awareness through a program that trains sniffer dogs to stop poaching activities. The use of dogs in the battle against poaching and the illegal wildlife trade has shown to be as effective as fighting regular crime. These animals help in uncovering products made from the body parts of endangered species and eventually leading to the apprehension of individuals involved in or suspected of being involved in poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. One example of this method has been seen in India's Kaziranga National Park. Now, Nepal has joined forces with India and other countries to anticipate any poaching activities with sniffer dogs. The fact that Andy Murray has joined a long line of notable figures either in sports or entertainment industry should be taken as an inspiration that regular people should also join forces with organizations like WWF to help end poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. Many people around the world who watch celebrities on television or any media sources admire them for their looks and career, and often wish if they could be like them. However, they should also understand that such celebrities are ambassadors and supporters of issues concerning the environment, health, animal rights, and other subjects and should feel inspired to follow their examples in helping make a difference to the world.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Ministry of Environment and Forests Destroys Illegal Wildlife Products

Environment and Forests Minister Prakash Javadekar with a confiscated leopard skin ready to be burned.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has recently destroyed a large number of confiscated illegal wildlife products, in order to maintain its intolerance towards the illegal trade of such merchandise. The products, which derived from animals such as deer, elephants, leopards, lions, mongooses, owls, snakes, and tigers, were smashed and burned by MoEF officials at the Delhi Zoo. These illicit products resulting from lawless activities in India were confiscated by the Wildlife Department of Delhi in an effort to combat wildlife crimes. In addition, few wildlife products at the Delhi Zoo were also destroyed. According to Minister of Environment and Forests Prakash Javadekar, the money produced from the illegal wildlife trade is being used for global crimes like terrorism and drug trafficking and indicated that the government is dedicated towards the protection of India's fauna and flora. He further added that the practice of hunting occurred 200 years ago and resulted in a situation where several species of animals became endangered and the verge of extinction.
Minister Prakash Javadekar and other MoEF officials burning illegal wildlife products in the Delhi Zoo.

This action committed by the MoEF sends a clear and distinct message that India cannot and will not tolerate the illegal wildlife trade which continues to threaten the world's endangered species. This lucrative, yet illicit business is connected to other global crimes like illegal drug trafficking, arms trafficking, human trafficking, and even terrorism. That is, the money generated from the illegal wildlife trade is used for carrying out criminal activities that endanger human lives. In other words, terrorism and other global crimes that threaten human beings are intertwined with poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. This is why it is essential to understand this connection so that the world can come together to put a stop to crimes directed at both humans and animals. When admitting that money made from the illegal wildlife trade is used for conducting crimes against humans, Minister Javadekar gave an example of how a single rhino horn can produce Rs. 10 million which can be used for terrorism or drug trafficking. Another classic example is seen in the case of elephant ivory which is used to finance Africa's militant groups such as the Al-Shabaab, Janjaweed, and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). In Malaysia, there are fewer than 350 tigers left as a result of poaching and the money generated from the products derived from these big cats could be used for trafficking drugs, weapons, and humans or even terrorism. Therefore, it is essential that countries around the world, including those that serve as major hubs for poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, to band together in order to put a stop to wildlife crimes in order to not only save endangered species but also human beings.

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Iberian Lynx to be Reintroduced in Portugal

Iberian lynx

It has recently been reported that a deal was signed last week between the Institute for Forest and Nature Conservation (ICNF) and land-owners in order to secure 2,000 hectares of scrubland habitat in Portugal to help reintroduce the critically endangered Iberian lynx. The signing was made on Thursday last week at a ceremony, which was supervised by the country's Secretary of State for Spatial Planning and Nature Conservation Miguel de Castro Neto. He indicated that the deal was a "decisive step in the breeding and conservation project, initiating geographical information, with close collaboration between the owners and managers of the place where the lynx will be reintroduced." The proprietors have shown their willingness in helping the lynx on their land which coincides with the animal's natural habitat. In addition, they can also hope to see their properties increase in economic value through their association with the project. As part of the efforts to bring the Iberian lynx back from extinction, there is even a project called SOS Wild Rabbit which has also been favored by State Secretary Miguel de Castro Neto. This conservation project, which is funded by the Nature Conservation Fund, is designed to find ways to maintain the populations of the European rabbit which is the lynx's main source of prey. One of the main causes for decline in Iberian lynx populations is the sudden drop in the European rabbit population due to disease, habitat loss, and land development.

It is amazing to see that the Iberian lynx is being given a second chance with a promise of reintroduction in Portugal. This magnificent cat once ranged throughout Portugal and Spain before being restricted to only few parts of the Iberian Peninsula. However, with the signing of a deal last week between the ICNF and local landowners, the lynx is now ready to make a comeback to its historical range in Portugal. What makes this deal unique is that it indicates a joint collaboration between conservationists and local people to help ensure the survival of the lynx in Portugal where it once disappeared. Hopefully, this step would also help in the long-run for the Iberian lynx. It has been and continues to be threatened by a variety of issues ranging from land development to habitat loss, poaching, and even disease. In addition, the lynx's major prey source, the European rabbit, also faces the same threats. When one species suffers in the hands of humans, another species is also affected. This is why it is crucial to help both the Iberian lynx and the European rabbit in order to prevent either one from being severely decimated in the unlawful hands of people. Furthermore, it is essential to combat the disease that is devastating the European rabbit population in Portugal and Spain. If the European rabbit population continues to decline, then the Iberian lynx population would also be depleted dramatically and the scrubland ecosystem which these two species are part of would be deeply affected negatively.

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