Caught red-handed! Chinese ship carrying illegal pangolin meat hits protected coral reef

by | 1st May 2013

A Chinese vessel transporting 22,000 pounds of illegal pangolin meat crashes into coral reef in Tubbataha National Marine Park, located in the Philippines.

A live pangolin confiscated in Sumatra from a smuggler. Unfortunately the pangolins found aboard the ship were already dead. Photo by: Jefri Tarigan.

  • After the crash, the Filipino coastguard discovered 400 boxes of pangolin meat while inspecting the ship.
  • The Chinese pangolin is the most common mammal in international trade, and is being taken from all throughout Asia to meet the demand for use in traditional medicines and meat in China.
  • “It is bad enough that the Chinese have illegally entered our seas..and crashed recklessly into a national marine park,” Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, head of WWF-Philippines, told the Associated Press. “It is simply deplorable that they appear to be posing as fishermen to trade in illegal wildlife.”
  • These “fishermen” are facing dozens of years in prison and fines up to $300,000, however wildlife criminals are rarely sentenced to the full extent of the law.

Read more about the Chinese pangolin here: The unfamiliar pangolin is the biggest mammal victim of the wildlife trade

Read the original article here: Double bad: Chinese vessel that collided with protected coral reef holding 22,000 pounds of pangolin meat

 





previous post: Newly discovered tarantula may be critically endangered
next post: Yangtze porpoise down to 1,000 animals in world’s most polluted river

Newly discovered tarantula may be critically endangered

by | 1st May 2013

An enormous tree-dwelling tarantula recently discovered in northern Sri Lanka may be critically endangered due to deforestation, human removal, and pesticides & insecticides.

New species of tarantula from Sri Lanka: Poecilotheria rajaei. Photo by: Ranil Nanayakkara.

  • This notorious Raja’s tiger spider is described by media outlets to be “the size of your face”.
  • Ranil Nanayakkara, co-founder of Sri Lanka’s Biodiversity Education and Research, first saw this species in 2009 when a villager showed him a dead specimen that the local community had killed.
  • The adult tarantulas prefer old trees with natural tree hallows, so because of the problem of deforestation, many of the tarantulas had no choice but to move to the village of Mankulam, where they have been discovered hiding out in the local hospital.
  • Unfortunately, only around 1.5 percent of Sri Lanka’s primary forest remains.
  • The discovery team named the spider rajaei after local policeman, Michael Rajakumar Purajah, who tremendously helped the team with their field studies.
  • Raja’s tiger spider is venomous, but is not deadly to humans.
  • Scientists say that although spiders may be scary-looking, they are very misunderstood creatures and are essential to biodiversity by eating millions of insects that would otherwise have out -of-control populations.

“Last but not least they have every right to this earth just like us humans, and they are wonders of nature.”- Ranil Nanayakkara

Want to learn more? Read the full story here: New giant tarantula that’s taken media by storm likely Critically Endangered (photos)

Poecilotheria rajaei in close-up. Photo by: Ranil Nanayakkara.

 

 





previous post: Aerial drones used to monitor poaching activity in India
next post: Caught red-handed! Chinese ship carrying illegal pangolin meat hits protected coral reef

Aerial drones used to monitor poaching activity in India

by | 15th April 2013

The Kaziranga National Park in India has deployed aerial drones to monitor poaching activity to protect the endangered one-horned rhino population.

Wild Indian rhinoceros in Kaziranga National Park. Photo by Yathin S Krishnappa.

  • Two-thirds (approx. 2,300) of the world’s one-horned rhinos live in this park, which also houses elephants, tigers, and other wildlife.
  • However, 21 rhinos have fallen victim to poaching last year and the use of drones may be needed to prevent this from happening.
  • The aerial drones can fly their route at a maximum elevation of 200m (656ft) for up to 90 minutes.
  • They are also light enough to be launched by hand and will be able to take images of the ground below with a still or video camera.
  • The Kaziranga National Park is using a similar system that was used by the WWF in the Chitwan National Park in Nepal, which turned out to be a great success.
  • This will be the first time that drones have been used to monitor wildlife in any Indian National Park and it will now be possible to keep an eye on the remotest parts of the enormous park (185 sq miles).

Want to learn more? Read the full story here: Using drones to monitor wildlife in India





previous post: Endangered tortoises rescued from smuggler
next post: Newly discovered tarantula may be critically endangered

Endangered tortoises rescued from smuggler

by | 15th April 2013

Thai authorities arrested a 38-year-old man attempting to collect a bag of 75 critically endangered tortoises at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

Ploughshare and radiated tortoises confiscated in Bangkok. Photo by: P.Tansom/TRAFFIC.

  • The bag contained 54 ploughshare tortoises and 21 radiated tortoises, which are both only found in Madagascar.
  • These species are listed as Critically Endangered and protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)
  • Even though they are protected, they are huge targets for the black-market pet trade because of their scarcity and beauty.
  • Experts currently estimate that only 400 ploughshare tortoises live in the wild, and the 54 stolen tortoises account for 13 percent of their entire population!
  • Meanwhile, the radiated tortoise once numbered in the millions, but habitat loss, pet collecting, and local hunting has decimated its population.
  • Fortunately the turtles were alive and safe since they were meant for the illegal pet trade and not consumption.
  • Authorities are hoping that the man will be heavily punished to serve as an example for other smugglers.

 





previous post: Chameleon’s of Madagascar Migrated from Africa
next post: Aerial drones used to monitor poaching activity in India

Scientists have cloned an extinct amphibian species that gives birth from its mouth

by | 1st April 2013

Australian scientists have produced cloned embryos of the gastric-brooding frog, which was known for giving birth through its mouth.

An artist’s impression of the gastric-brooding frog. Artwork: Peter Schouten

  • This extinct animal swallowed its eggs, brooded the young in its stomach, and gave birth through its mouth.
  • Even though the gastric-brooding frog became extinct in 1985, a team of researchers was able to recover cell nuclei from frozen frog tissue collected in the 1970s and implant it into a fresh egg from another frog species.
  • Some of the eggs then developed into an early embryo stage, but unfortunately none of the implanted eggs survived longer than a few days.
  • Even though the process has not yet worked, scientists are confident that the hurdles ahead are technological and not biological and eventually the cloning of this species will succeed.
  • Scientists would also like to use this technology as a conservation tool when hundreds of the world’s amphibian species are in major decline.
  • They are also interested in the gastric-brooding frog’s ability to shut down the secretion of digestive acids because it might help develop treatments for gastric ulcers in humans.

Want to learn more? Read the full story here: Scientists clone extinct frog that births young from its mouth

 





previous post: Harnessing Sikh religion to protect the planet
next post: Africa takes action against elephant poachers

Common crop pesticides are harming the brains of bees

by | 1st April 2013

According to new research, exposure to popular pesticides injures bee brain physiology, is capable of devastating bee hives, and may be partly responsible for on-going Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

Honey bee (Apis mellifera) collecting pollen. Photo by: Jon Sullivan.

  • A research team exposed honeybees to two different pesticides at levels encountered in the wild, and found that both pesticides directly affected the ways the bees’ brains functioned.
  • This study is the first to explain why bees exposed to these pesticides have unusual behavior, including losing their way easily and slow reactions.
  • Scientists in both the U.S. Europe have recorded the complete collapse of hives due to exposure.
  • Fortunately this research has spurred some policy movement and the European Union (EU) proposed a ban on one of the pesticides for two years.
  • Most recently, nine beekeeping and environmental groups sued the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to take action to protect bees.
  • Bees are important plant pollinators and in the U.S. alone, their pollination services are estimated to be worth $8-12 billion.
  • While bee declines have occurred in the past, researchers believe this one is much more severe.

Want to learn more? Read the full story here: Common pesticides disrupt brain functioning in bees

 





previous post: Scientists discover 8 new frogs in one sanctuary
next post: Harnessing Sikh religion to protect the planet

The unfamiliar pangolin is the biggest mammal victim of the wildlife trade

by | 29th March 2013

The unique and unknown Chinese pangolin is the most common mammal in international trade, and is being taken from all throughout Asia to meet the demand for use in traditional medicines and meat in China.

The Cape pangolin, pictured here, could become increasingly imperiled if trade moves from Asia to Africa. Photo by: Maria Diekmann/Rare and Endangered Species Trust.

  • Pangolins are hunted for their scales – which are believed to have medicinal properties – and for their meat which is known as a delicacy in Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants.
  • Since 2000, a minimum of tens of thousands of animals have been traded in each year internationally, and in 2011 it was estimated that 40,000-60,000 pangolins were stolen from the wild in Vietnam alone.
  • Pangolins are small, docile mammals that look like small anteaters with scaly skin like a dragon.
  • They are excellent tree climbers and swimmers and like to feed on termites and ants.
  • Pangolins are very well known for their signature defense trait – rolling up into a scaly ball – and they are the only mammal in the world with proper scales.
  • Even though pangolins look like anteaters, they are actually related to carnivores but do not have teeth and do not eat meat.
  • Conservation efforts in the region are mainly focused on large mammals such as elephants, tigers, lions, etc. and are ignoring the pressing issues of small mammals and low profile species like the pangolin.
  • Because of this, there are no adequate plans for their conservation and little is known about their role in the ecosystem.
  • Nepal’s National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) is kickstarting the first automated camera project hoping to catch pangolins on film to learn about their dens and nocturnal lifestyle.
  • They are hoping this research will be helpful in constructing a conservation plan for the pangolin in Nepal.

So what can we do to help?

  • Call on your local government to take pangolin poaching and trade issues seriously.
  • Refuse to spend money at restaurant or traditional medicine outlets that sell pangolin parts and derivatives.
  • Support pangolin conservation initiatives.
  • Establish safe pangolin habitats through community participation and enforced legal initiatives.

The Chinese pangolin is listed as Endangered due to a massively unsustainable, and illegal, trade in their meat and scales. This pangolin is a resident of the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden. Photo courtesy of EDGE ZSL.

And finally, celebrate World Pangolin Day each year on February 16th!

Want to learn more? Read the full story here: Pity the pangolin: little-known mammal most common victim of the wildlife trade





previous post: Lions in Africa may need fences to survive
next post: Scientists discover 8 new frogs in one sanctuary

Lions in Africa may need fences to survive

by | 19th March 2013

Lion population numbers in Africa have fallen dramatically in the past 50 years and researchers want to build large-scale protective fences to help them survive in the wild.

Lion in Tanzania. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

  • Lion population numbers have dwindled from 100,000 in 1960 to 15,000 – 30,000 in present day.
  • Habitat loss and little food are some of the reasons why population numbers are low, but another influential impact is humans.
  • Farmers kill lions due the harm they pose to livestock.
  • This problem with livestock and lions occur because of human’s close proximity to the lion’s habitat.
  • According to scientists, lions in South Africa are considered so dangerous that when they are re-introduced in the wild, lion-proof fencing has to be installed in their protected areas to prevent human conflict.
  • If any lions escape from this fenced protected area, management authorities have to either recapture or kill them.
  • Researchers suggest that if all lions in protected areas and parks are not fenced in, then half of the current population could vanish within 20-40 years.
  • Problems with protected area fencing are high initial costs and the inability for animals to migrate.
  • Benefits of large-scale fencing are larger population numbers, reduced poaching, less habitat loss, and less direct human contact.

Lion and cub in Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Photo by: Luke Hunter.

Want to learn more? Read the full story here: The end of wild Africa?: lions may need fences to survive





previous post: Crocodile species brawl for food and shelter and threaten conservation efforts
next post: The unfamiliar pangolin is the biggest mammal victim of the wildlife trade

Crocodile species brawl for food and shelter and threaten conservation efforts

by | 19th March 2013

The spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus) and the black caiman (Melanosuchus niger) occupy the same space and eat the same food, which could generate competition between the two species and perhaps delay the recovery of the conservation-dependent black caiman crocodile.

Black caiman. Photo by: Eric Maxwell.

  • The black caiman is the largest predator in the Amazon and is considered dependent on conservation efforts to survive.
  • They are suffering low population numbers from being nearly hunted to extinction in the mid-1900s.
  • There are strict anti-hunting laws and protected areas to help their population numbers increase, but they are still targets for poachers.
  • In addition, the spectacled caiman threatens the black caiman’s recovery because they eat the same food and live in the same areas causing competition amongst the two animals.
  • This smaller spectacled caiman’s population growth is four times that of the black caiman because they reach their full size faster and have the ability to reproduce sooner.
  • Studies have shown that they have similar diets, but there is no evidence that concludes that food competition is affecting the black caiman’s population numbers.
  • It is possible for both crocodiles can live together without affecting the black caiman’s population numbers since the spectacled caiman can be an additional food source for them.

Spectacled caiman in Colombia. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Want to learn more? Read the full story here: Crocodilian competition may hinder conservation efforts in Amazon

 





previous post: Indigenous People Help Map Australia’s Mammal Populations
next post: Lions in Africa may need fences to survive