Cattlemen Tell EnviroNews Ranchers Want Mexican Wolves Killed, Despite Being Paid for Livestock Losses
14 – 17 minutes
(EnviroNews Arizona) — Parts of eastern Arizona are a conflict zone, as a 100-year war between ranchers, conservation groups, government agencies, and the endangered Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) rages on. The rarest subspecies of gray wolf, also known as “el lobo,” is doing what wolves have always done in their native territories: they hunt and eat animals weakened by misfortune, time and nature itself. But ranchers who sell their cows, sometimes for $1200-$1500 per animal, aren’t happy when someone’s future hamburger becomes a wolf’s dinner.
Even though the government will compensate ranchers for cows killed by wolves, a new survey reveals most cattle farmers feel el lobo’s reintroduction into the area is a threat to ranching – and their livelihoods.
“[Ranchers] realize that [wolves are] there and they’re there to stay now,” Jerome Rosa, Executive Director of the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association, which funded the survey, told EnviroNews in a phone interview. “They just have to do the best they can to try and manage the situation and try to do what they can to be able to live, you know, cohesively. But if they had a preference, [absolutely they] would like to not have that apex predator out there.”
Back From the Brink of Extinction
When Rosa said, “out there,” he is referring to the southwestern United States – part of the Mexican wolf’s indigenous turf. Early in the 1900s when the livestock industry began booming, the federal government hired trappers to eradicate all wolves – and they were nearly successful in that task with el lobo.
“This genetically [and] morphologically unique animal came about as close to extinction as any creature can get without actually going over the brink,” Michael Robinson, a senior conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, told EnviroNews.
And how close is “close?” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) official Stephen Guertin told a congressional subcommittee “the Mexican wolf was all but eliminated from the wild by the 1970s due to extensive predator control initiatives.” According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s (AGFD) website, Mexican wolves had once disappeared completely from Arizona and New Mexico.
But when the Endangered Species Act (ESA/the Act) passed in 1973, these critters finally received some appreciation. USFWS hired trappers again — this time to capture live wolves that could still be found in Mexico, in an effort to save the species from total annihilation. The agency was only able to find and capture five wild wolves; four males and one female. With time running out, USFWS took those specimens and launched a captive breeding program.
In 1998 el lobo caught a break and received an invitation to return home to the Southwest and 11 were released into the Blue Range Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Area in Arizona.
“They’re part of the natural ecosystem,” Robinson said. “They’re a beautiful, intelligent social animal that helps maintain balance, and they deserve to be there.”
Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)
The USFWS’ website hails the breeding program as a victory: “Missing from the landscape for more than 30 years, the howl of the Mexican wolf can once again be heard in the mountains of the southwestern United States.” Despite the agency’s victory dance, ranchers certainly were not out holding “welcome home” signs. The conflict zone reemerged — as did the wolf killings.
Money Can’t Buy Wolves Love
To help ease concerns, ranchers have been compensated for depredations since the wolves were first reintroduced in 1998 and in 2015 the State of Arizona Livestock Loss Board was formed. Ranchers can submit claims to the board for depredations when they can prove Mexican wolves most likely killed their animals. According to the agency’s most recent annual report ranchers have been paid more than $143,000 over the last few years.
But Rosa told EnviroNews these reimbursements still can’t buy the wolves love. He said the number of cattle they kill exceeds what ranchers claim as a loss:
Some [ranchers] just don’t want to deal with the red tape. They don’t want to deal with the paperwork. Or, when they find these carcasses, they’re too far gone. And remember: these cattle are out there in these vast, vast landscapes in really, really rugged terrain, and so often, when they do find a depredation, there’s nothing there to investigate. You know, there’s not enough to be able to prove it was a depredation. So, [ranchers] just don’t say anything. It’s like, “Well, you know, we took a hit on that.”
Rosa added that there’s no way for cattlemen to calculate losses for livestock that die from exhaustion and dehydration after being chased by wolves, or cows that get stressed out, thin, and don’t reproduce.
David Parsons, the wildlife biologist who led USFWS’ effort to reintroduce the Mexican wolf into the Southwest, told EnviroNews he’s heard those claims, but not the veracity of them. “Open range cattle die for many reasons other than predation or harassment by predators, such as weather extremes, disease, toxic plants, and even lightning strikes,” he refuted.
Hawk’s Nest Pack Released into Pre-Release Pen in 1998 — Photo: Dave Parsons
Parsons is now a science advisor for the conservation group Project Coyote. He said figuring out an exact cause of a cow’s death is arduous. “It would be very difficult to tease out the significance of mortality caused by predator harassment compared to all other causes of mortality.”
Natural Born Killers?
No one disputes that wolves are natural born killers. But Rosa claimed there are far more wolves out there than official counts reflect. “As the wolf populations increase, the cattle populations will decrease. I think that’s tragic,” he said.
Rosa added the more the packs grow, the more food they will need. “And unfortunately, the realism of wolves is they don’t just kill when they’re hungry. They kill for sport,” he said. “That’s what they do. You know, they are… that’s what they do. I mean, they’re killers.” But many experts dispute that and say wolves do not kill for the fun of it.
Greta Anderson — Deputy Director, Western Watersheds Project
“They kill to eat,” Greta Anderson, Deputy Director of the Western Watersheds Project told EnviroNews. “When humans find animals that have been killed by wolves but are uneaten, they should assume the carcasses haven’t been consumed yet, as animals will routinely return to kill sites and continue to feed off a carcass as long as they can.”
Regarding the numbers of wolves, federal and state officials have boots on the ground, the AGFD even pays five full-time biologists to help manage and tabulate the numbers. Currently, there’s a minimum of 76 Mexican gray wolves in the state and about 163 total in the Southwest. So, even after over two decades of “recovery” in the wild, the current number of lobos is far from the estimated 3000-4000 that roamed the U.S. in the early 1900s.
Currently, wolf tracking is done in many ways: about half the estimated population wears radio collars, others are counted on the ground, in the air, and even by conducting howl surveys where biologists listen for wolves return howls.
“I don’t think the cattle growers have a basis for contending that the numbers are substantially higher than announced,” Robinson said. “If there were significantly more wolves on the landscape than the interagency field team now contends, wouldn’t those wolves be breeding with each other, and wouldn’t their numbers grow to the point that their presences couldn’t be denied by anyone?”
Wolf Depredation Prevention
What about just deploying measures to keep wolves away from cows, so fewer end up getting eaten? According to the cattle association’s survey, some feel “spending on preventative practices can be large relative to returns.” And ranchers’ willingness to pay to avoid depredations may be an area they’ll study in the future.
Jerome Rosa — Executive Director, Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association
Rosa said prevention can be challenging, expensive and more assistance is welcome, adding, “I think the ranchers would like to have all the available tools in their toolbox to be able to manage the situation.”
But in addition to reimbursements for depredations, there’s also money out there to help ranchers pay for prevention. One example: the State of Arizona Livestock Loss Board slated $110,000 to develop effective methods of preventing wolf and cattle interactions.
At present, preventative tools like tracking collars, that help to alert ranchers when wolves are in the area, are being used along with blinking lights, electric fences, and range riders. The downside, Rosa said, is that batteries burn out, and some prevention is burdensome.
“All of these non-lethal measures just work for a short period of time,” he contended. “These wolves are extremely, extremely intelligent, and they get immune to those systems, and so then you constantly have to be changing.”
Mexican Wolf With Radio Collar — Photo: Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team
One solution Rosa offered is to limit the wolf population to a “manageable number” and kill problem wolves. “In areas where we’re having problems, then we need to go to lethal take on those packs,” Rosa told EnviroNews.
“You mean kill the wolves?” EnviroNews reiterated for clarity. “Yes. Yes,” Rosa asserted. And sometimes ranchers ask for just that and the federal government obliges.
Mexican Gray Wolf — Photo: KTAR Pheonix
Experts tallied reports for EnviroNews and found that since Mexican wolves were reintroduced to the Southwest the feds have killed about 21 lobos. The most common reason was for livestock depredations.
Dave Parsons Conducts Health Check on Captive-Born Mexican Wolf Pup
Conservationists insist killing this already beleaguered species is not the answer. Instead, they say regulators should require ranchers to use more preventative measures and remove the remains of dead cattle immediately, so the scent doesn’t attract predators. Furthermore, they insist there’s plenty of money out there to help ranchers outsmart even the craftiest of wolves.
“The government has asked nothing of the ranchers — at least required nothing,” Robinson continued. “They have asked nicely at times, you know, ‘Would you mind doing this?’ And sometimes the answer is ‘yes’ and sometimes the answer is ‘no.’”
Parsons claimed some wolves are being killed in “cryptic poaching” — meaning poaching that goes undetected. “Uncollared wolves killed in remote areas are rarely discovered by agency biologists, and the same is true for collared wolves when the poacher immediately disables the collar,” he added.
What’s at Stake?
Rosa told EnviroNews that if something isn’t done to curb Mexican wolf numbers, more ranchers will hang up their hats. Fewer cattle, he said, means less meat at the grocery store and more wildfires because ungrazed pastures provide fuel for flames to spread. “Killing wolves will allow [for] cattle, [and for] more people to be able to continue having cattle, out there to graze these spots,” he asserted.
Mexican Wolf — Photo: Columbus Zoo
But in addition to the many tangible issues, palpable on the ground between ranchers and conservationists, the more esoteric factor of global warming looms. Scientists say the rising trend of massive wildfires in the West is fueled in part by methane emissions from livestock and the agricultural sector at large.
Robinson told EnviroNews responsible, proactive ranchers should tap into the resources available to help keep afloat, but pulled no punches when emphasizing the free marketplace should determine the better mousetrap:
As for whether ranchers will go out of business due to depredations in the absence of wolf killing, that very much depends. Not all business ventures in the United States are destined to succeed, even when subsidized. The fact that some ranchers refuse to take measures to protect their stock would seem to make them less likely to stay in business.
Parsons agreed. “If a heavily subsidized livestock production business cannot afford to protect its primary asset (cows) by methods such as confining cows to pens for calving and hiring range riders to monitor and control their whereabouts on the landscape, then perhaps it is not a viable or appropriate business enterprise,” he said.
This Land is Not Your Land
Finally, EnviroNews asked Rosa, “Do you see the Mexican wolf as a vital part of the ecosystem? Should the species be there [at all]?” His answer: Nope. He concluded:
I don’t see it as a vital part. It wasn’t here for many, many years after they had been hunted down in the past. Now, some will say, “OK, they take care of, you know, sick animals, they’ll put them down.” They’re non-discriminatory. So, they’re not just taking [out] the weakness of a species. They take these animals down just for sport. I mean, it’s just what they do. And so, I understand, you know, the wolf advocates reasoning that they use — that they try to use. But, [it’s] not logical, and it’s not realistic. But, you know, I understand that that’s their position.
That’s something that enrages conservationists who say the wolves aren’t into sport killing and were there first. “The livestock industry has sought to transform the entire ecosystem of the Southwest… they see the wolves as the worst part of the ecosystem that they want to eliminate,” Robinson said.
Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)
So, the 100-year war between ranchers, cattle, wolves, conservationists and government agencies continues. Many battles ensue, no side declares any winners, but all have the instinct to keep fighting.
OTHER GREAT REPORTS ABOUT MEXICAN WOLVES FROM ENVIRONEWS
Mink was found on Tuesday near the Mascoma River in Lebanon. Andrew Timmins, New Hampshire’s bear biologist, says he had noticed there wasn’t much movement on her tracking collar for several days.
Early on, he wasn’t too concerned. But when he checked back on Monday and there was still no movement from Mink, he called a colleague in Hanover to check on her.
“Something was going on. That collar was not moving,” he said. “That usually means one of two things: that means the animal has slipped [off] its collar, or it can mean the animal’s not moving because it’s dead.”
Timmins says based on her injuries and location he suspects Mink was hit by a car.
This year, Mink had a litter of three cubs. Timmins says this summer Mink and the cubs were spending a lot of time eating berries along a powerline corridor, and mostly staying away from residential areas.
An orangutan named Boncel is pictured after being translocated to the main forest from a palm oil plantation, in Ketapang, West Kalimantan province, Indonesia, on August 18, 2020. (Courtesy of /International Animal Rescue (IAR) Indonesia/Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Ministry (KLHK)/Rudiansyah/Handout via REUTERS)
A Bornean orangutan found on an Indonesian palm plantation has been rescued and returned to the forest, a conservation group said on Wednesday, the latest example of how habitat loss is piling pressure on the critically endangered animal in the wild.
The male orangutan, named “Boncel” and estimated to be 30- to 40-years-old, was found in a plantation in the Indonesian portion of Borneo island with four other orangutans in early August, International Animal Rescue (IAR) said in a statement.
“We found five orangutans (in the area) and we managed to relocate four of them back into the wild, except this male orangutan that still remained in the plantation,” said Andiri Nurillah, a veterinarian working for the Indonesian arm of IAR.
The great ape was darted with a tranquilizer at the plantation in Ketapang, West Kalimantan province, before being put in a cage and taken by motor boat on a river to a safer area in the forest.
Boncel was in good condition when found, apart from a fractured finger and other minor injuries, said Nurillah, adding that his move had gone smoothly.
The release came soon after two other Bornean orangutans were rescued from captivity on Java island and sent to a rehabilitation center on Borneo to assess whether they can be released back into the wild.
Only around 100,000 Bornean orangutans are estimated to be left in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund, with the population crashing by more than 50 percent over the past 60 years.
The animals have suffered from illegal poaching, as well as destruction of habitat due to large-scale logging and replacement of forests with cash crops such as palm oil.
“You were willing to coexist, but people were not,” wrote the North Shore Black Bear Society about the bear
A wild black bear was killed after becoming accustomed to humans in Canada.
Last Wednesday, the North Shore Black Bear Society reported on Facebook that a bear they’ve encountered on several occasions this summer — whom they affectionately named Huckleberry — was tranquilized and put down by local conservation officers for being too comfortable around humans.
The North Vancouver, British Columbia-based organization wrote that the bear had been lured and allowed to eat food left out by local residents, who wanted to capture the animal on camera.
“On July 31st you were eating berries at the edge of the forest. We headed out to make sure you were not being crowded or chased by dogs. By the time we reached you, you were being followed by residents who wanted a video of you eating organics from an unlocked cart,” read the post. “Due to the crowd of people, it wasn’t safe for us to move you on. When you finished eating, you calmly walked by and left our gaze. That was the last time we saw you.”
“Later that day you were tranquilized by the Conservation Officers and taken away to be killed,” they continued. “You were willing to coexist, but people were not.”
NSBBS added that Huckleberry “showed us every time we met that you were a good-natured bear, we are deeply sorry that we couldn’t save you.” The team added, “We’ll always have a place in our hearts for you, sweet boy.”
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories
NSBBS representatives recalled on Facebook that they first encountered Huckleberry on July 2. During this initial meeting, Huckleberry was quick to get out of the way of humans. Their next interaction would lead to the story behind the bear’s name.
“The next time we met, you were at the roadside eating berries. As we walked you back to the forest, you stood and sniffed a garbage can,” NSBBS shared. “We used a firm tone and told you to leave — you listened. As you walked away, you left a bright pink scat full of huckleberries! We were so proud of you for eating natural foods, despite all the tempting treats residents had left available to you. From that moment, we named you Huckleberry!”
NSBBS remembered that Huckleberry would “roll” his tongue out at them to “smell the air as we walked together back to the forest” — a behavior NSBBS said showed that the bear recognized them.
RELATED VIDEO: Jeff Corwin Warns Sad Moments Are ‘Part of the Story Arc’ on Alaska Animal Rescue
NSBBS said nearby residents admitted to allowing the “easy-going, calm bear” to pick through their garbage so they could photograph him.
“Reports started coming in of you finding easy rewards from garbage and organics carts. People admitted they allowed you to do that for a video and they neglected to move you on … a death sentence,” they wrote. “If only people had used a firm voice with you, you would have listened. Or respected you enough to not have any garbage or food scraps accessible in the first place. We did you a disservice, Huckleberry.”
Boasting some of the richest biodiversity in the world, Australia is estimated to be home to as many as 300,000 different species of animals. In such company, it takes a truly iconic animal to fill the role of Australia’s national animal — and the kangaroo certainly lives up to the task. Immediately recognizable are their long, powerful legs, allowing them to travel over six feet per leap, and the pouch they sport on their belly for carrying their young. But even their emblem status does not keep them safe from the whims of humans. Kangaroo skin, strong but light, has long been sought after for things like football (or soccer in the U.S.) cleats, baseball mitts, and many types of gloves. California, a U.S. state known for leading the way in animal welfare policy, was ahead of its time when it banned the sale of products made from kangaroo skin all the way back in 1971. But in 2020, an investigation discovered that some huge brands thought they were above the law. Nike and Puma have both been selling kangaroo leather products in California despite the ban!
Sign the petition today if you want Nike and Puma to do the right thing and abide by California law! Tell them to stop selling kangaroo leather products in the state, and commit to phasing out the use of kangaroo leather company-wide!
These kangaroos are ripped from the wild, stolen from their families and lush homes. The Australian government dictates that kangaroo hunting must be done with a firearm, which is cruel enough — but when it comes to the most vulnerable, like babies or adult kangaroos that are already wounded, the cruelty is amplified. These poor animals have their heads severed from their bodies, or they are painfully bludgeoned to death. The officially stated reason for this heinous method is to “destroy the brain,” and apparently any semblance of humanity. California’s law is an indirect attempt to curb this brutality. Companies like Nike and Puma disregarding said law puts pain and profit above compassion and animal welfare.
Ideally, kangaroo leather would be totally banned worldwide. With advanced technology and a wide variety of synthetic materials at our disposal, using the skin from innocent animals for our luxury sport equipment is simply outdated and cruel. But passing laws that keep these products off the shelves is the right step towards making them obsolete, and Californai did that! But statewide laws can be difficult to enforce when these companies sell to states and nations all over the world. That means that it is Nike and Puma’s responsibility to do the right thing and abide by the law! They have the time, money, and resources to do so — any noncompliance is a result of negligence, apathy, and a gross misuse of power.
If we speak out enough, we can really get Nike and Puma where it matters most — in their profits. Let’s make sure that they know we are watching, and until they decide to put animal welfare first, we won’t rest! Sign the petition and demand that Nike and Puma comply with California law, halting the sale of products made with kangaroo skin in the state, and then take it one step further by phasing out all kangaroo leather products!
For far too long the federal government has used our hard-earned tax dollars to slaughter native wildlife on public lands. Tell your representative and senators this all-out war on wildlife and public safety must stop today. Download our advocacy kit to learn more ways you can join us to end the war on wildlife.
Please note: In order to send this form to your senators and representative, all fields must be completed, including title and phone number. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your support on this issue.
A white-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) singing in Manitoba, Canada, where a new distinctive call has replaced an old one.Photograph by Glenn Bartley, Minden Pictures
Most birds have distinct calls that tend to stay the same. It’s how birders can recognize a species without seeing it. But new research shows these tunes can change.
Over the course of two decades, white-throated sparrows across western and central Canada have changed one of their songs, replacing a three-note call with a two-note one. The new tune started in British Columbia and spread east—now, most of Canada’s birds are singing it. And it’s still spreading in Quebec, more than 2,000 miles from where it originated.
Although some bird calls undergo slow evolutions, this rapid shift in a bird’s song has never been observed before, says Ken Otter, lead author of the study, published July 2 in the journal Current Biology.
“There is nothing that we know of that’s spread like this,” Otter says.
As the song sweeps west to east, ornithologists wonder what makes the song so catchy—and if the trend will continue. The finding was made possible by crowd-sourced birdsong recordings, which are uncovering patterns that may have previously gone unnoticed.
A song is born
Birdsongs are not just pleasant to listen to, they’re also rich with information, such as the health and fitness of the speaker. Like other birds, male sparrows sing to establish territory and to entice females. It’s only the males that sing certain tunes, and they learn them during a critical window early in their development.
Otter, who studies bird behavior and communication at the University of Northern British Columbia, first noticed that something was up with sparrow calls in the late 1990s. He was doing fieldwork in British Columbia, just west of the Rocky Mountains, with a colleague who usually studies eastern populations of the species.
“We were walking around… and he suddenly said, ‘Your sparrows sound weird.’” Otter hadn’t noticed it before but agreed—they did sound different.
“White-throated sparrows have this classic song that’s supposed to sound like it goes, ‘Oh, my sweet Canada, Canada, Canada,’” he explains. “And our birds sound like they’re going, ‘Oh, my sweet Cana– Cana– Cana– Canada.’”
The new song trend emerged by the 1990s in northern British Columbia, where Otter and his colleague first heard the “weird” call. From there, it crept east, moving across Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
In 2004, about half the sparrows in Alberta were singing the new doublet ending, but by 2014, every sparrow in the area had made the shift. By 2015, every sparrow west of central Ontario was singing the doublet ending. It didn’t stop there. In western Quebec, nearly 2,000 miles from where the song began, it’s still spreading.
Knowing that bird songs must be learned from others, Otter and his colleges suspected that eastern and western sparrows may be crossing paths.
In 2013 and 2016, they strapped geolocators to 50 male sparrows breeding in Prince George, British Columbia, to track their seasonal migration path and areas where they winter.
Otter says he expected the western sparrow populations to travel directly south to their overwintering areas in California. Instead, the birds crossed the Rocky Mountains, meeting up with eastern populations in the southern Great Plains of the United States, in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas. This convergence of western and eastern sparrows may act as a tutoring ground for young males, which could learn the new song before returning to their respective breeding ranges.
Using two decades of citizen-recorded data, including more than 1,785 recordings, Otter and his team were able to map the song’s spread. Charting the new song in blue and the old song in red, Otter’s maps show a cascade of blue dots crashing east from 2000 to 2019. Only a thin ribbon of red dots—birds singing the old song—still clings to the eastern edge of the country.
“It’s cool to realize that this sort of happenstance pattern of migration allowed [some sparrows] to then hear birds singing the other form of song”—and then spread—“like a viral contagion,” says Jeffrey Podos, who studies birdsong at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was not involved in the study.
Podos isn’t surprised the birds are learning from each other, but he admits that the pace at which the new song spread is “somewhat surprising.”
“It’s like a blue wave,” he says.
New variations of songs crop up constantly, but the vast majority of these aren’t picked up by other birds.
“For some reason, some birds just went deviant,” says Podos, describing the advent of the new doublet-ending song. “You figure it would have just died on the vine, but somehow other birds must have found it interesting.”
Otter and his team didn’t find that birds singing new doublet-ending songs were better at wooing mates or defending territories, so it doesn’t appear to be advantageous or deleterious. This just adds to the mystery of the song’s virality.
“The only thing that we can think of is that the females might have a preference for something that’s slightly novel,” Otter says.
It’s possible that sweeping evolutions in songs like this have happened before but went undetected. Otter’s work relied on recordings from eBird and Xeno-Canto, databases which contain birdsongs recorded and uploaded by people around the world.
Bob Planqué, a cofounder of Xeno-Canto and mathematics professor at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, says this crowd-sourced information is “a tremendous boon to academia.” One reason this model lends itself so well to studying birds, says Planqué, is that recording songs is easy and accessible. Planqué says hundreds of papers a year rely on Xeno-Canto data, which includes over half a million recordings.
Crowd-sourced science is “like having thousands of research assistants spread out across the continent,” Otter says. “It’s allowing researchers to tap into a totally different avenue of research [and] to look at this on a very big scale that was never there before.”
The House added a number of environmental measures to the budget Friday, voting to block the Trump administration from drilling in the arctic or rejecting grants for projects and studies tied to climate change.
Lawmakers voted on a series of amendments to the budgets for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Interior on Thursday and Friday, seeking to block funding from being used to implement a number of Trump administration rollbacks.
The language includes measures to block a new policy allowing hunting tactics that make it easier to kill bear cubs and wolf pups in Alaska.
Another measure would block the administration from implementing its changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, a bedrock environmental law that green groups have said President Trump is gutting. Trump rolled back the law last week, calling the act, which requires a thorough environmental review of major projects, the “single biggest obstacle” to construction.
The legislation passed by Democrats also blocks drilling in both the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA).
The Trump administration has sought to open more than 80 percent of the NPRA to drilling, while the wildlife refuge was opened for drilling through the 2017 tax cut legislation.
House Democrats have repeatedly worked to block drilling in the ANWR, passing legislation in September that was never taken up by the Senate.
The legislation includes other measures with a more bipartisan agenda, including an increase in funding to replace lead pipes and language to ensure the EPA will continue with its plans to regulate cancer-linked PFAS chemicals in drinking water.
Lawmakers also voted down a Republican effort to allow importation of elephant or lion hunting trophies taken in Tanzania, Zimbabwe or Zambia.
Consider the following six examples of why the trophy hunting of free-roaming lions is NOT sustainable – from the very countries held high by the trophy hunting industry itself as being paragons of sustainable hunting practices:
1. The Namibian government does not know how many breeding-age desert-adapted lions are left, how many territory/pride males there are, or even how many of each sex are killed during human-lion conflict. They told me so – see this article written by me. And yet each year they set trophy hunting quotas for large male desert-adapted lions. The awarding of trophy hunting quotas off the back of no relevant statistics is NOT sustainable.
2. Namibian laws permit rural livestock owners to request for the lethal removal of predators targeting their livestock – so-called ‘problem animals’. Fair enough. BUT trophy hunters are often used to perform the execution, and we know that trophy hunters want to shoot big male lions. And communities benefit financially when ‘problem animals’ are identified and taken down by hunters. Is it coincidence then that there is a large bias towards male lions amongst those lions reported as being ‘problem animals’, and consequently executed by trophy hunters?
In the last scientific research report on Namibia’s desert-adapted lions, published in 2010, the author states, when referring to six collared male lions killed by trophy hunters as ‘problem animals’: “In all six cases, however, it is arguable whether the adult males that were shot, were in fact the lions responsible for the killing of livestock.”
This gap in legislation – empowering the two beneficiaries of ‘problem animal’ execution to act as witness, jury, judge and executioner – is NOT sustainable.
3. The above report concluded: “The long-term viability of the desert lion population has been compromised by the excessive killing of adult and sub-adult males. There is an urgent need to adapt the management and utilisation strategies relating to lions, if the long-term conservation of the species in the Kunene were to be secured.”
Since then the situation has worsened as regards male lion offtake, with some areas now almost devoid of male lions. Even the last known adult male lion in the Sesfontein Conservancy was earmarked to be shot – again conveniently classified as a ‘problem animal’ – until international pressure forced the Minister to change his mind. A rapidly reducing male/female lion ratio is NOT sustainable.
4. Craig Packer, director of the Lion Research Center at the University of Minnesota, has led a series of studies identifying over-hunting as the major reason for the steep decline in lion populations in Tanzania, the lion hunting mecca. Packer was banned from entering Tanzania for exposing corruption with regard to lion trophy hunting.
Being tagged as the cause of crashing lion populations makes trophy hunting of lions in Tanzania NOT sustainable, and the widespread use of fraud and corruption as a business tool suggests a morally bankrupt industry.
5. When 13-year-old Cecil the lion was shot in Zimbabwe, the over-riding justification was that he was ‘too old’ to breed or to successfully hold a territory (as if those are the only uses of a mature lion). Then, Cecil’s son, Xanda, was also shot by a hunter, at the age of six – and the professional hunter Richard Cooke knew that Xanda was a pride male with cubs, and lied about the situation. In fact, Cooke also led the hunt that killed Xanda’s other son – at the age of four.
So, lions of all ages are being shot, and the trophy hunting industry lies and re-invents the justifications each time to suit their need to keep the business model rolling. That is NOT sustainable.
6. Rural communities living amongst wild lions have to see meaningful and sustainable benefit from having lions in the area. Lions are often a threat to lives and livelihoods and these people have the right to expect to be compensated to behave differently. After all, the rest of the world has mostly sanitised itself of large predators.
Surely for trophy hunting to be truly sustainable, these communities must receive a significant portion of the trophy fee? A 2013 study by Economists at Large, an Australian organisation of conservation-minded economists, found that on average only 3% of money generated by trophy hunting winds up in the hands of local people.
During research for my article referred to in point one above, Namibian government officials told me that the relevant community only receives about 12.5% of the trophy hunting fee for a quota lion (US$10,000 of the ± US$80,000 fee) – and only about 1% in the case of a ‘problem animal’ hunt. The rest goes to the professional hunting operator. This is NOT fair or sustainable.
This is what we do know about lions: Populations have crashed from about 450,000 in the 1940’s to about 20,000 today – mostly due to human-wildlife conflict, habitat loss, prey base loss and trophy hunting (US Fish and Wildlife Services).
The remaining pockets of lions are increasingly isolated from other populations, and no longer able to disperse and so maintain population genetic diversity and stability. When young males flee from dominant pride males, and seek out other lions, they leave protected areas and are picked off by hunters and livestock farmers – thus preventing the vital dispersal of young lions to other areas.
The surgical removal of big male lions by trophy hunters within the context of the above is NOT sustainable in any way, shape or form – regardless of what the other causes of lion population reductions are. The trophy hunting industry claim of sustainable practises is nothing but a lie. It’s a fiercely protected justification to continue the senseless and outdated fetish for killing off Africa’s big male lions for fun and ego. The fantasies of a few rich people are taking precedence over the survival of an African icon, over the proper functioning of Africa’s wild places and over the tourism industry which brings in many times more revenue, jobs, skills enhancement and societal benefits.
The trophy hunting of Africa’s wild, free roaming lions is NOT sustainable and has to stop.
Norwegian Forest cat is a breed of domestic cat originating in northern Europe. This natural breed is adapted to a very cold climate, with a top coat of glossy, long, water shedding hair and a wooly undercoat for insulation.
1 of 20 One-Horned Rhinos take shelter at the higher places at the flood-hit Kaziranga National Park in Nagaonon. A total of 96 animals have died in the Kaziranga National Park in Golaghat district of Assam due to floods, the state government informed. Image Credit: ANI
2 of 20 A a wild elephant and a calf cross a National Highway at the flood affected Kaziranga National Park. “So far, 96 animals have died in the park including eight rhinos, seven wild boars, two swamp deers, 74 hog deer and two porcupines,” park officials said. Image Credit: AFP
3 of 20 A Rhino sits along the roadside as he strayed out of the Kaziranga National Park. A report from the government of Assam stated that a total of 132 animals had been rescued from the Kaziranga National Park. The park is currently 85 per cent submerged under floodwaters. Image Credit: ANI
4 of 20 “Water level at Pasighar and Dibrugarh are below the prescribed danger level. The floodwater in Numaligarh, Dhansirimukh and Tezpur are still above danger level,” the report stated. Above: A forest guard on a boat takes away the carcass of a wild buffalo calf through flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora. Image Credit: AP
5 of 20 A herd of wild elephants takes shelter on highland inside the flooded Burapahar range of Kaziranga National Park. At least 79 people have died and nearly 3.6 million people have been affected in 30 districts of Assam due to floods caused by the monsoon rains and the rise in water levels of the Brahmaputra river, informed the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA). Image Credit: PTI
6 of 20 Water buffaloes stand in flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora, Morigaon district. Image Credit: AP
7 of 20 Tiger in search of safer place at the flood-affected area at Bagmari village near Kaziranga in Nagaon district. Image Credit: ANI
8 of 20 Deers wade through floodwaters in a submerged area of the Kaziranga National Park, in Kanchanjuri. Image Credit: ANI
9 of 20 A one-horned rhinoceros along with her baby stands in floodwater inside Kaziranga National Park, in Golaghat district. Image Credit: PTI
10 of 20 A female rhino calf about 1-year-old, who got separated from mother was rescued from Difaloo pathar, Sukani village by the Staffs of Eastern Range, Agoratoli, Kaziranga National Park. Image Credit: ANI
11 of 20 A wild water buffalo eats tree branches standing in flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora, Morigaon district. Image Credit: AP
12 of 20 A wild elephant moves towards the higher ground after the flood hits Kaziranga National Park, in Nagaon. Image Credit: ANI
13 of 20 Wild deer cross the National Highway-37 in search for safer places at the flood-affected area of Kaziranga National Park, in Nagaon District. Image Credit: ANI
14 of 20 A group of wild elephants cross the road to move towards the higher land, following the flooding in the low-lying areas of Kaziranga National Park, in Nagaon. Image Credit: ANI
15 of 20 A forest employee cuts branches of a tree for rhinoceros as a forest guard keeps vigil near one horned rhinoceros taking shelter from floods on a highland at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora. Image Credit: AP
16 of 20 A forest guard on a boat takes away the carcass of a wild buffalo calf through flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora, Morigaon district. Image Credit: AP
17 of 20 A one horned rhinoceros and a calf wades through flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora. Image Credit: AP
18 of 20 A herd of wild elephants takes shelter on a higher place at flooded Kaziranga National Park, in Nagaon. Image Credit: ANI
19 of 20 Forest guards patrol as one horned rhinoceros take shelter on a highland as flood water rises at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora. Image Credit: AP
20 of 20 WTI official tries to feed a rhino who is taking shelter near NH 37 in the flood-affected area of Kaziranga National park at Kanchanjuri in Nagaon. Image Credit: ANI Remaining Time -50:21
The coastal wolves have an extraordinary ability to swim across miles between islands.
Sea wolves are a unique breed of wolf found in the Great Bear Rainforest along the Pacific Coast of Canada. Swimming between islands like fish, they are genetically distinct from their inland cousins, or from wolves in any other part of the world.
British Columbia has a relatively low human population where sea wolves enjoy an isolated wilderness – an area of 21-million acres, often described as a “bastion of biodiversity”. There are 25 native species of conifers and grizzly bears, black bears and spirit bears living together.
In the water, whales, sea lions, seals, seabirds and salmon make the sea extraordinarily richer than anywhere else along the coast.
For thousands of years, wolves have lived in peace. They had a unique relationship with the coastal First Nations peoples, for whom the wolf was considered as a revered animal treated with admiration and respect.
However, they’re being threatened on all sides by hunting, trapping and industry. Road building and clear cut logging have appeared to be harmful to wolves, not only destroying the forests they live in but making it easier for hunters to gain access to coast wolves.
The Northern Gateway Pipelines project is a new threat. Huge oil tankers will transport oil in this pristine region with the potential for devastating consequences. If an oil tanker ran aground, spilling its content or sinking, it will have long-term harmful impacts on the environment similar as the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska.
Chris Darimont from the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, developed the Rainforest Wolf Project in order to show these wolves as fragile symbols and gain scientific understanding about coastal wolves called “Canada’s newest marine mammal”.
In the early 2000s, devoted nature photographer and conservationist Ian McAllister, and Canadian wolf biologist Paul Paquet started to conduct research about these coast mainland wolves eating salmon from the wild grey Pacific Ocean. They discovered a remarkable fact that locals already knew: 25 percent of the wolves’ diet was made of fish. Most extraordinary is the coastal wolves’ swimming ability, often swimming across miles between islands.
These photos are part of a magnificent series from a book entitled “The Sea Wolves, Living Wild in the Great Bear Rainforest”, created by authors Ian Mc Allister and Nicholas Read. The book reveals the importance of preserving the Great Bear Rainforest for every unique creature that lives on the British Columbia’s remote coast.
A Suriname toad, Pipa pipa, at the Saint Louis Zoo. Females of this species birth their young from holes in their backs.Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark
Of the many ways to be born, live birth may be the most familiar to humans. We mammals deliver live, squirming babies, and we think of many other animals as laying eggs—but in reality, animals have found a variety of ways to bring their young into the world.
Live birth, also known as viviparity, is common throughout the animal world, and not just among mammals. It has emerged in fish, amphibians, insects, and arachnids, to name a few.
In fact, viviparity has evolved independently about 150 times in various animal species, including at least 115 times in living reptiles, a number three times higher than in all other vertebrates combined, says Henrique Braz, a herpetologist at the Butantan Institute in São Paulo, Brazil.
There are benefits—and drawbacks—to laying eggs and live-bearing, but these modes of reproduction aren’t an either/or proposition. Egg-laying and live-bearing are two points on a continuum, with many species straddling the middle. (Read about a lizard evolving from egg-laying to live birth.)
All mothers need to do one thing for their offspring: provide nourishment. That’s either as yolk in an egg or, for live-bearing animals, often directly from the mother’s body. (In the unique case of seahorses, it’s the father’s body that feeds the young.)
This frog’s babies erupt out of its back
Some species manage to give birth to live young, yet the mother contributes little to no food in utero. They do this by retaining the babies in eggs inside the mothers’ bodies, letting the young grow and develop using the yolk as a food source. Then, when the young are fully formed and ready to get out into the world, they hatch inside their mother as they’re being born.
This kind of reproduction, called ovoviviparity, is common among venomous snakescalled vipers, though not in most other snakes which lay clutches of eggs. There are also a number of fish—such as mollies and guppies—that reproduce this way. (Read more about how various animal groups give birth.)
One of the more surreal examples is the Suriname toad (Pipa pipa), an exceptionally flat, leaf-like amphibian from South American rainforests. During mating, the male deposits dozens of fertilized eggs onto the female’s back, and then her skin grows around the eggs, creating a surface like inverted bubble wrap. The offspring develop in these small wombs for months. Eventually they erupt from mom’s backand head into the water as little froglets, skipping the tadpole stage entirely.
Why such a strange system? Like other ovoviviparous species, the Suriname toad can give her eggs some protection by carrying them around—useful in a world full of hungry egg predators.
Most live-bearing animals provide their babies with some form of sustenance directly.
In mammals, this is common. But West Africa’s critically endangered Nimba toad (Nimbaphrynoides occidentalis) is the only frog fed entirely from its mother’s resources in utero. Female Nimba toads have a nine-month pregnancy, feeding fetal toadlets with a nutritious “uterine milk.”
There are even some viviparous moms that get creative with feeding their young during pregnancy. African tsetse flies (Glossina morsitans) carry a single larva around in their uterus, and it’s fed with a kind of “milk” secreted from a special gland. The Pacific beetle cockroach (Diploptera punctata) gives birth to fully formed, miniaturized young, after fueling them with a similar uterine elixir.
The phenomenon of fetuses dining within the womb can get even stranger. Some live-bearing caecilians—worm-like amphibians that live almost entirely underground or in stream bottoms—actually feed on their mother from the inside. There, they scrape and eat the thickened lining of her oviduct, the passageway that carries eggs from her ovary.
And it can get even more gruesome. A number of shark species host an embryonic battle in the womb, with the babies killing and consuming their siblings for sustenance.
A deeper bond
Some animals take live-bearing even further, interlacing their own circulatory system with that of their developing young, nourishing them and eliminating waste through this linkage. This can take the form of a specialized, temporary organ, like a placenta. Though placentas are typically associated with “placental” mammals such as humans, cats, dogs, and whales, these groups don’t have a monopoly on the organ.
“The organ is not actually just composed of mom’s tissues or baby’s tissues,” says Camilla Whittington, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Sydney. Technically, any organ comprised of both maternal and fetal tissues which exchanges nutrients counts as a placenta. Even marsupials, mammals that carry their young in pouches, have rudimentary placentas. And placentas also have evolved in some unexpected groups.
For example, that sharpnose sharks (Rhizoprionodon) nourish fetuses with an organ that looks precisely like a scaled-down version of a human placenta, Whittington says. There are also some lizard species that develop a placental link with their young, though the African skink Trachylepis ivensi is the only reptile species whose embryos can actually burrow into the wall of the oviduct, approaching the degree of implantation seen in mammal pregnancy.
Worth the effort
Viviparity is clearly not all-or-nothing, but a condition in which there’s flexibility. For example some lizards and snakes are egg-laying in one part of their geographic range, but live-bearers in another. Scientists even observed one lizard lay eggs and give birth to live young in the same clutch.
But why evolve live birth in the first place? There are definitely some drawbacks.
“If you ask any pregnant woman when she’s about two weeks away from giving birth, it’s pretty hard to locomote,” says Whittington. “And you can imagine if you’re a pregnant lizard and you’re very large, it might be hard to escape predators.” (These animals spawn the most offspring in one go.)
Carrying developing young internally also raises the stakes if a mother does get eaten. At least if you’ve deposited your eggs elsewhere, there’s a chance your genetic line may survive even if you perish.
Keeping young inside longer can help protect them, though, and it allows more direct control over their developmental conditions such as temperature. That may be why cold regions host a higher proportion of viviparous species than warmer locations.
“If you live in a cold or variable climate and you just leave your eggs in the nest and walk away, there might be a risk that it’s too cold,” says Whittington.
Whatever advantages viviparous mothers gain from going through pregnancy and live birth, the ability has evolved scores of times throughout the animal kingdom—and that suggests that it must be worth the extra effort.
A horned screamer (Anhima cornuta) at the National Aviary of Colombia.Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark
Common Name: Horned screamers
Scientific Name: Anhima cornuta
Size: About the size of a turkey
Weight: Up to seven pounds
Current Population Trend:
What is a horned screamer?
Horned screamers are the unicorns of the bird world.
Over the course of their lives, these birds grow long, white spines of cartilage in the middle of their foreheads. Some birds possess horns approaching six inches in length. No other birds on earth have anything like it.
Unlike with rams and rhinos, the screamer’s horn doesn’t seem to be a weapon, because it is only loosely attached to the skull and known to snap offonce it grows too long. In time, broken horns even grow back. This leads scientists to believe the horns serve an ornamental purpose rather than a functional one.
While the horns are harmless, the screamers are not. Each bird sports a pair of sharpened bone spurs on its wings. These are used to defend territory and battle with each other for mates. After particularly nasty encounters, scientists have even found pieces of spur broken off and lodged in other birds’ chest like shrapnel.
Aside from their strange horns, these birds also possess some interesting anatomy below the surface. Inside their bones and skin are tons of tiny air sacs that reduce the weight of these large birds, which is thought to help them soar long distances without using muscle energy. These air sacs sometimes collapse simultaneously when the horned screamer takes off, creating a loud crackling noise.
As its name suggests, this bird is also known for the loud calls it creates. The main one is described as sounding like, “mo-coo-ca,” leading some indigenous peoples to call the birds “mahooka.” This call sounds a bit like a goose, a close relative of horned screamers.
While it can take some fighting to win a mate, a horned screamer partnership can last a lifetime. The male and female spend all year together, constantly preening each other to maintain the pair bond. They also take turns incubating the eggs they create, with females tending to sit on the brood during the day and males taking the night shift. Once the chicks hatch, both parents also provide food for their young.
Relatives and conservation
Horned screamers (Anhima cornuta) are one of three species of screamers, all of which reside in the wetlands of South America. Horned screamers and southern screamers (Chauna torquata) are not considered to be in danger of extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. However, the northern screamer (C. chavaria) is listed as near threatened, which is thought to be due to loss of habitat in its geographic range at the northwestern tip of the continent.
Though common loons may look harmless, the territorial birds will fiercely attack any interlopers to their freshwater habitat.Photograph by Charlie Hamilton James, Nat Geo Image Collection
In July 2019 a game warden in Bridgton, Maine, got an unusual call: A bald eagle was floating lifeless in a lake. At the time, biologists suspected the animal might have been shot or poisoned by lead fishing tackle—all too common causes of death for wild birds.
According to D’Auria, a dead loon chick was found nearby, suggesting a defensive loon parent gored the eagle as it attacked the loon’s nest. This phenomenon is on the rise in New England, as bald eagles continue to bounce back from near extinction in the 1970s, she says. (Learn how a national symbol bounced back.)
Loons and eagles are also top predators in Highland Lake, competing for valuable territory.
While loons appear serene and peaceful, the waterbirds can be savage, attacking everything from Canada geese to redhead ducks to, most often, other loons.
The catch is that until very recently there probably just weren’t enough bald eagles left for scientists to witness such battles. Since being removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007, the U.S. symbol now numbers in the hundreds of thousandsnationwide; there are more than 700 nesting pairs in Maine.
The incident shows how much we have to learn about the natural behaviors of formerly endangered species, experts say.
Thanks to conservation efforts, hundreds of thousands of bald eagles now soar through U.S. skies.Photograph by George Grall, Nat Geo Image Collection
Violence of the loons
Rather than duke it out at the surface, D’Auria says a loon will dive underwater and then rocket out “like a torpedo” to stab its opponent, which is usually a rival loon.
“It’s a common part of their contesting territories with each other,” she says. ”Sometimes the injured loon can recover from it, and occasionally they don’t.”
“There’s a balance,” he says, by email. “Eagles need to eat, and loons will defend their chicks as best they can.”
Bald Eagles’ Food Fight Captured In Slow-Motion
The good news is Vermont’s loon populations have been increasing or remained steady for the last 20 years. Loons are also doing well in Maine, home to about 70 percent of the population in the U.S. Northeast, says D’Auria.
However, the species is listed as threatened in New Hampshire and of special concern in Massachusetts,due to threats such as shoreline development, fishing tackle, and climate change.
So while neither loon nor bald eagles seem to be in danger of driving the other to extinction, it does seem as if the two species are recalibrating back to how things used to be, Cooley says.
SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN — Wisconsin’s only native hummingbird will be here soon! As the Ruby-throated hummingbird migrates north from the tropics, it follows the spring bloom until it can settle in its breeding range.
Zoomed in picture of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird
According to hummingbirdcentral. com, the approximate time they arrive in Wisconsin is the end of April and the start of May. Typically by then, flower producing plants and other insects, which it eats, are prevalent enough for it to head to our neck of the woods.
Approximate timing of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird arrival
Based on satellite data collected by the National Phenology Network, we can see that plants have really started to leaf out as far north as Chicago.
Long term forecasts continue to keep temps cool for the mid part of April, but it’s safe to say you need to get ready for these tiny visitors soon!
Spring vegetation across the United States as of April 8th
One way you can help attract these birds is by putting out a hummingbird feeder. These come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. An important detail is that you can make the nectar yourself! By heating up water and mixing in white sugar, you’re producing a perfect blend that can provide vital energy for these calorie-burning mini machines.
Avoid nectar that contains food coloring, as this could be harmful to hummingbirds. Change the nectar at least once a week in early spring and increase the frequency as temperatures start to increase.
An example of a hummingbird feeder just we don’t recommend having a cat close by
If you’re looking to replant a garden, another great way to attract these birds is to plant native flowering perennials that require little maintenance. Some examples include Wild Bergamot, Butterfly Weed, and Cardinal Flower.
When we think of polar bears, we automatically picture them in the Arctic, surrounded by snowy and icy landscapes. This image has been deeply ingrained in our minds that it’s hard to imagine these furry giants in any other environment.
The North experiences changing seasons, too. And as summer arrives, polar bears come out and start having their fun. Luckily, wildlife and nature photographer Dennis Fast captured these beautiful moments for the world to see. He was staying in the lodges operated by Churchill Wild in Manitoba, Canada, when he took the incredibly rare images.
In the pictures, the polar bears in Northern Canada’s Hudson Bay are seen rolling around the brightly colored fields of fireweed. When they’re not in the mood for play, the bears are content just lounging and napping in the pink fields, as if they, too, were savoring the warmth of the summer. Some of the most adorable shots feature one polar bear with his head poking out a sea of pink flowers!
It’s amazing to see the silly antics they get themselves into once the sun comes out. Their cute appearance almost makes us forget that they can attack humans when they’re approached the wrong way!
In an interview with Modern Met, Dennis shared why polar bears are his most beloved subjects.
“[I] t’s not just their color that makes them a favorite target of my camera,” he said. “They have a slow, ambling gait as they drift about looking for anything that moves. It looks like they don’t have a care in the world and that there is nothing they are afraid of. It’s not arrogance, exactly, but a quiet confidence that we often respect in humans, and that translates well to the polar bear.”
Once early autumn arrives, the polar bears will wait for the ice to reform in the bay so they can go back to their winter hunting grounds. In the meantime, they get the chance to enjoy the warmth of the sunshine and these blossoming fields!
Scroll through the gallery below to see more of this Canadian photographer’s rare shots of polar bears enjoying the summer.
Check out Dennis Fast’s books Princess: A Special Polar Bear, Touch the Arctic, Wapusk: White Bear of the North, and The Land Where the Sky Begins to see more of his brilliant work.
by: Clara Lars
recipient: World Wildlife Federation
Illegal Tiger Trade Must End
Tigers may soon disappear from the wild unless more effective efforts are made to halt illegal trade. Tiger numbers have decreased dramatically in recent decades due to poaching to supply the illegal trade in tiger parts.
Tiger bones and other parts are used in traditional medicines to treat arthritis and other conditions. And the animals’ skins are used as clothing for certain cultural ceremonies and even as decorative objects such as rugs and wall hangings.
Fewer than 3,500-4,000 tigers are estimated to remain in the wild in Asia, the only region of the world where they exist. About 100 years ago, there were an estimated 100,000 tigers in the wild. The five existing tiger subspecies—the Amur, Bengal, Indochinese, South China, and Sumatran—all are critically endangered or endangered throughout their ranges. The Caspian tiger of southwest Asia, the Bali tiger and the Javan tiger all became extinct in the last 50 years of the 20th century.
Today, most wild tigers live in India; smaller populations exist in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russian Federation, Thailand and Viet Nam. Tigers have become extinct in at least 10 other countries. At an International Tiger Symposium held in Kathmandu, Nepal, in April 2007, experts from around the world reported that tiger populations remain in decline nearly everywhere.
A Neverending Battle Wildlife officers in countries where tigers live fight a daily battle against poachers.
Recently in Nepal, a wildlife smuggler was sentenced to 15 years in prison and a fine of 100,000 Nepalese Rupees (US$ 1,591)—the maximum fine allowed for a wildlife crime in that country—after being caught in 2005 with five tiger skins, 36 leopard skins, 238 otter skins, and 123 kilograms of tiger bones.
The seizure, the largest of its kind ever made in Nepal, occurred thanks to the hard work and cooperation of two non-governmental organizations—Wildlife Conservation Nepal and the Wildlife Trust of India—and the wildlife authorities at Langtang National Park, Nepal, where the smuggler and his loot were found.
India, home to most of the world’s wild tigers, recorded 130 tigers poached between 1999 and 2004 (as compared to 82 known natural deaths), according to the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Botswana counterpart Mokgweetsi Masisi have declared they will continue pushing for the right to trade in wildlife products, saying communities that have done well in conserving wildlife must be allowed to enjoy the benefits of such efforts.
Several Sadc countries have voiced their concern over the restrictive Convention of Trade in Endangered Species’ (CITES) provisions concerning live elephant and rhino trade, ivory and rhino horn trade bans and the contentious listing of the unthreatened giraffe population.
Speaking during the just ended Botswana-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission (BNC), leaders from the two countries said environmental conservation efforts, including wildlife, would not be fully realised given the restrictive conditions governing global trade in wildlife related products.
President Mnangagwa said wildlife resource rich countries like Zimbabwe and Botswana must be allowed to trade and realise benefits of their conservation efforts.
He commended Botswana and regional sister countries on the preservation and defence of the wildlife economy, whose full dividend has not been realised because of restrictions in wildlife trade.
“Let those who co-exist and help in the preservation of our wildlife enjoy benefits accruing from the effective wildlife management strategies they have adopted. We reiterated our common position of this very sensitive and emotive matter to have exclusive rights to trade in our wildlife products.”
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi said the regional leadership was on the right direction in terms of environmental conservation and that such efforts need to be supported by enabling wildlife trade rules and regulations.
Last year in May, Botswana hosted the historic Elephant Summit in the Kasane area, which was followed by the Africa Wildlife Economy Summit in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, in June 2019.
“These will indeed go a long way in improving regional advancement for the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation area (Kaza). It will also contribute significantly towards sustainable economic and ecological benefit for local communities and Africa as a whole,” said President Masisi.
Speaking on the same issue, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Dr Sibusiso Moyo, said CITES “has done more harm than good” in terms of assisting developing nations on the conservation front.
“In 2019 that fraternal spirit was demonstrated as our two countries joined hands towards a common position at the CITES Cop 18 meeting where our two countries once again called for the review of the 1989 CITES ban on global ivory trade, which has done more harm than good to our elephant conservation efforts,” he said.
“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” - Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard