CRUEL CAPYBARA LEATHER AND MEAT TRADE
Many people reading this article may never have seen or heard of the Capybara, however the species is still just extant of which both the lesser Capybara and greater Capybara are facing extinction due to over-hunting, poaching and unfortunately the cruel, barbaric leather and fashion trade. (Image: Capybara killed for meat and skin)
Endemic to South America the Capybara that is classed as a rodent is the largest rodent of its kind on the face of the planet. Furthermore due to its craved after soft hide the Argentinian and Peruvian government back in the 1960’s regulated the trade of Capybara from which the worlds largest rodent is now nothing more than a fashion accessory.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Brazil have been undertaking investigations on Argentinian Capybara farms where they have located some of the most unpleasant abusive regimes. Filthy and repulsive grounds that the worlds largest rodent is being farmed on, and slaughter men secretly filmed by the team playing football with one of the young from which it later died an agonizing death. Please be aware that the team could not intervene as that would have compromised the entire investigation thus leading to them being arrested for trespassing, and subsequently removed from the country back to Brazil.
The videos are so traumatic and emotionally distressing we’ve passed them onto the Police and are now making some of our preliminary findings in brief aware to the general public. Furthermore we please advise all members of the public to please boycott all ‘Argentinian Capybara leather products’. These products will have a stamp on the inside or outside that typically will depict the traditional stamp with ‘Argentinian made and farmed Capybara leather’ imprinted on the product.
Capybara-Carpincho Leather Trade.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Brazil (IARFB) have in the past three months embarked on a mission to promote awareness of our South American native Capybara, and to bring the current illegal black market leather industry that is pushing the species into extinction to a halt. This is not going to be easy though, and we need your help. Many people often associate leather with cows, smaller ungulates, snakes, crocodiles and other soft/hard skinned animals of which their skins are collected as a bi-product throughout the agricultural and farming trade worldwide.
Fortunately while many of the animals listed above will probably never go extinct within the regulated farming industry that supplies leather products internationally and locally. The Capybara are seriously threatened by the ongoing leather trade, that is sought after throughout South America, primarily throughout Argentina. Capybara’s are farmed legally for their hides, and hunted legally and illegally for their exquisite leather hide that’s currently being shipped overseas to large well known international renowned clothing, and fashion industries within America, Canada, United Kingdom, Asia and Europe.
Many people are completely oblivious to the trade, or even know that the worlds largest semi-aquatic rodent is nearing extinction due to trade, demand and fashion. Today we lift the lid on this horrifying trade and those that are importing Capybara leather. from 1976 to 1979 almost 80,000 skins were exported from Argentina. In the past three months we have obtained some of the most sickening, barbaric and damn right bloody cruel farming practices that we cannot post onto our Facebook page. We will be posting these shocking exposures soon via our environmental and animal welfare investigations site speakupforthevoiceless.org
Many leather companies that produce Capybara leather will try and tell you that its currently illegal to kill the species in the wild. In reality there is no such law that we are aware of, nor has it ever been listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which we are members of. However at times if one is caught poaching enforcement teams will seek an arrest and conviction, this is rare though.
Within the leather industry the Capybara is commonly known as the ‘Carpincho’ which means water pig and is the largest rodent in the world. One only has to Goggle search “Carpincho leather” to see just how large this trade is. Furthermore black market trade was uncovered by our major investigations unit of which not a single piece of Carpincho leather was stamped and was being sold at a knock down price, which in turn will see more and more people move to the illegal traders rather than the regulated trade. This in turn will see our ‘wild specimens completely obliterated, equaling extinction’.
While the species is not as yet considered endangered, the sheer fact that most Argentinians own at least some form of Capybara leather, and crave it yearly (especially for Christmas gifts). Its quite likely the species is going to plundered into extinction very soon. Argentaina is one of few countries that we know of that “regulates the trade of Capybara leather”, meaning the species are removed from the wild cruelly, bred then killed to provide anything from gloves, slippers, wallets, coats, belts Etc. One of the most sought after Capybara leather products is that of driving gloves that are manufactured mainly within Argentina then sold by companies worldwide. Prices can range from anything to $50.00 to $400 a pair. The soft leather product is craved after due to its ability to make driving easy via allowing the steering wheel of the car to glide easily between the gloves and drivers hands.
Argentina makes no effort to hide their filthy trade either of which they insist each product must be stamped as farm raised. Its alleged that Argentina is the only manufacturing exporter in the world of Capybara products. Unfortunately International Animal Rescue Foundation Brazil has located a sickening black market trade throughout South America spanning into Viet Nam, China, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia. Concerning; when we (IARFAB) visited Northern Europe we located countless high street shops that are selling Capybara products too that seem oblivious to the fact that the illegal wildlife trade decreases profit in the “regulated trade” which in turn is placing the species on the verge of nearing extinction within their endemic wild. Some of the companies located online can be seen below.
1. Italian and American Leather Gloves offers you the ‘genuine hand made Capybara product made my Fratelli Orsini’: http://www.leatherglovesonline.com/np/MensGloves-ByStyle-Driving-ca3198-mens-carpincho-driving-gloves.htm#page=details
2. Hestra Gloves offers a wide range of Capybara leather products although their main interest in this leather are driving gloves. https://hestragloves.com/dress-gloves/en-us/article/leather-guide/
3. Lundorf Christiano that’s supported by Amazon offers yet another range of “genuine Capybara leather gloves”.
4. Alibaba that we’ve exposed countless times for allowing traders to peddle rhino horn parts and ivory, are also promoting the sales of Capybara leather.
As explained above many companies within Argentina will try and palm people off that are purchasing Capybara products that hunting is ‘strictly illegal’ and the animals are protected under Argentinian law. That’s not necessarily true and, we’ve located countless South American hunting outfitters that hunters from around the globe visit to hunt legally the Capybara species. See image below.
Image: Capybara hunting is legal within Argentina. American hunter with threatened species
Image: Hunter with threatened Capybara
Image: Hunter with threatened Capybara
Image: The sickening images of dead Capybara slaughtered with a handgun
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has stated that the greater Capybara is listed as (least concern) and the lesser Capybara is (data deficient). So whats the big deal then? The IUCN has listed the lesser Capybara as data deficient as they currently do not know how many are remaining within the wild. So while hunting, poaching and the clothing industry takes its share. Research could prove within a few years that the lesser Capybara is in fact seriously threatened.
Meanwhile the greater Capybara that is listed as explained above as (least concern) is seriously threatened by the pressures of hunting. The IUCN quotes:
“This species is severely threatened by hunting; some local populations have been extirpated (Eisenberg and Redford 1999). Capybara leather is valued in South America and from 1976 to 1979 almost 80,000 skins were exported from Argentina (Eisenberg and Redford 1999). There is a large internal market for the skins”
Extinction of the Capybara would have a detrimental affect to the ecosystem:
So as one can see, unless action is taken sooner rather than later to remove one or most of these threats its very likely that we’re going to lose the worlds largest semi-aquatic rodent due to one of the above destructive actions. International Animal Rescue Foundation Brazil that undertakes animal and environmental investigations throughout South America; Stated “should we lose both the lesser and greater Capybara within the ‘wild’. The knock on effect this would have to our already threatened and fragmented ecosystem would be large”.
Capybaras’ are herbivores that consume mainly grasses, aquatic plants, fruits and bark. Should both the larger and greater Capybara go extinct, plant-life would be affected. Herbivores consume plants that contain seeds, these seeds pass through the digestive system of the animals as they are moving around the forest floor, which are then deposited via feces, thus equaling spread of plant-life. One less herbivore means less movement and spreading of plants that are required for other animals to consume, and medicinal plants that humans require for natural medicines.
The same applies to fruit too, not forgetting aquatic plants that need to spread throughout local rivers and streams that fish and small wildlife rely on to conceal themselves within from predators. Alien plants that the Capybara feeds on would also take over the forest floor thus pushing native non-alien plants into extinction. Extinction of both genera of the Capybara would therefore be catastrophic.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Brazil are currently working to increase awareness of the Capybara and will be undertaking demonstrations outside of trading stores that trade in Capybara leather products. You can help International Animal Rescue Foundation Brazil with its current investigations by sending any small or large donation. Simply click here https://www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/send-money-online add our email that is here: email@example.com then your kind donation, then simply hit send.
The Capyabara pictured below is not protected as many have been led to believe. Furthermore if the clothing and fashion industry as well as the hunting industry is not regulated accordingly we’ll lose the entire species within ten years. The (IARFB) are working on fact sheets for local schools, universities and will be running classes to increase awareness and education about the species of which your help is required. For more information please email the team above.
Dr Jose C. Depre.
Environmental and Botanical Scientist.
WHERE ARE OUR CHILDREN?
Despite our best efforts to educate and push awareness into the public domain in relation to big cat hunting and the petting industry in South Africa and neighboring countries. We have uncovered a rather large core of dedicated students and volunteers from America, Canada, eastern and northern Europe and South America that still defy the basic knowledge made public, that what they are practicing is harming both captive and non-captive felids. These students actions are contributing to the spread of disease and is supporting abuse no end. Furthermore International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa’s Environmental Investigations Unit has unearthed countless British travel agencies, South African universities and even veterinary establishments that support the petting industry. (Image credit Nick Brandt)
The Petting Industry Explained:
Since the release of the Blood Lions documentary one would have thought that students whom continue to visit these seedy and corrupt lodges, parks and alleged reserves, would have taken note that their behavior is more a hindrance to conservation and wildlife alike, rather than supporting ethical conservation itself. Unfortunately this ‘hardcore group’ of mostly disrespectful, uneducated students and volunteers have simply brushed that advice and education aside. The petting and hunting industry within South Africa is increasing in size, despite vast reams of data and evidence made public that clearly shows these industries have no value to conservation whatsoever.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa made it quite clear that we would expose students, volunteers and tourists that defy basic conservation education, while participating in unethical and abusive non-conservation tourism. Trainee veterinary technicians, private vets, school leavers, trainee zoologists, backpackers, doctors, judges down to missionaries, pilots and even celebrities are all contributing to the extinction of our African Lion, Cheetah, Leopard and even non-endemic Tigers. While we are aware that some infant and adult cats have been rescued via the many lodges, parks and farms within South Africa, and that other animals simply cannot be released into a reserve, the fact of the matter here is that breeding is ongoing, interaction and abuse is rife, and little if any reintroduction programs are being seen. When we investigated the industry back in 2011 never did we expect these pseudo conservation practices to skyrocket to gargantuan proportions.
Below we have included a list of students and volunteers down to visiting tourists that continue to place our African wildlife and captive species in danger from a multitude of virus’s, diseases down to actively contributing to the extinction of our threatened wildlife not forgetting abuse being played out. We have given many volunteer agencies, tourist agencies, lodges, parks and reserves ample time to clean their unethical fake conservation behavior up. They have all bar one refused. We now have no choice but to continue with our actions in the hope that this will open visiting tourists eyes, their employees eyes and teaching establishments that these individuals are aligned too, that this practice and pseudo conservation behavior must stop here and now!
Furthermore we are naming and shaming travel agencies, student gap agencies down to veterinary and South African universities too. When watching the first screening of Blood Lions in South Africa some months back, I knew that harsh measures had to be taken. We are not just fighting the main industries here, were battling multi-million if not billion dollar companies that are all aligned to one-other directly or indirectly. The whole purpose of this article (I of IIII) is to begin breaking the link, showing the evidence of pseudo conservation, educating travel agencies and shaming those that continue to defy basic and scientific education. Furthermore we are without a doubt going to bring these agencies and industries to their knees financially while continuing to expose those that abuse our captive and wild animals.
“STUDENTS & VOLUNTEERS PRACTICING UNETHICAL AND NON-GREEN CONSERVATION IN AFRICA”
The following list has been compiled showing both visiting students, volunteers and supporters of the petting industry within South Africa. We are not prepared to stop with this exposure while the industry continues to boom.
Douda Bis, Robyn Robles from Anglia Ruskin University, Hongyi Fan-devalois, Mandy Blasetti a Veterinary Assistant/Technician at Banfield Pet Hospital, Isabel Quiñone from Ejecutiva de Ventas at Diafrom, Connor William from Lancaster (village), New York, Kormákur Ingólfsson that works for Erhvervsakademiet Lillebælt, Iris Joensen that studies at Tåstrup borger og realskole, Heidi Arsenault a Plant Pathology Technologist at Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Truman Shumway, Bernadette Pieterse who’s a Ranger at Glen Afric Country Lodge, Laura Victoria that studies at Rutgers University, Johanna Noseworthy that works at Inclusion Powell River, Eleanor Skovgaard that studies at the Scenic Artisan at University of Delaware, Alexane Francisci studying at the Concordia University, Laurence Vanmeerbeeck from Brussels, Belgium.
Lindsay Richardson that studies at ‘a’ American University, Luke Sparkes that studies at Oaklands College, St Albans, Johanna Eskelinen that works at the Yacht Week, Sharon Franks a Waitress at Grand Central Basildon, Capucine Bénazet, Lycée Guy Chauvet, Abby Ellison Ashley Snyder a Bartender/ Server at Outback Steakhouse, Emma Jayne Palfreman (self employed), Henrik Guldbrandsøy that studies at the Bergen University college, Fabienne Thoma that studies at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences/ZHAW, Caitlin Ferguson that works at Poppy and Pint.
Doug Richardson that studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Nadia Borg that works at Forbrugsmateriale Produktion at Struers ApS, Sue Harrison Kasperek, Eirik Lerum Vigerust from Boulder, Colorado, Torfinn Rønquist Antonsen that studies at Ørland videregående, Naomi Westhof a Highlight Editor at Sheffield United, Emma Enea whom is a Wildlife Coordinator at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Sandi Stein Blasetti that studies at the University of Maryland University College, Kayleigh Harrop that studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands, Roberto Francisco Newton from Hemet, California, Albert Chang that studies at the University of Toronto, Zoi Kakouris, Marie-Louise Lorenz whom works at Vibholm Guld & Sølv, Wai Duong from Bramfeld, Hamburg, Germany, Alicia Taylor from the village of Wijnandsrade in Holland.
Chao Qiu from Wisconsin, Gretchen Newell whom works at World Tennis Club, Bainet Yusufu from Ihlathi High School, Annika Beyrle whom comes from the German town of Elmshorn, Laura Coughtrey from Lord Williams’s School, Taylor Ann Chism from Spokane Falls Community College, Mari Irby from Saint Mary’s College of California, Cathryn O’Sullivan from London, United Kingdom, Katharina Winther whom works at Konsulent at Københavns Kommune, Tathiane Forão from the Federal University of Pernambuco, Randy Risher from Phoenix, Arizona, Glen Peck from the University of Tech Pretoria, Ruby Bell a Clinical Nurse at Healthcare Australia.
Katrine Tufteland from Oslo, Norway, Amandine Pascal, Isabella van Rijckevorsel from the Leiden University, Sherie Darmon from Toulouse, France, Melissa Quinn that works at Nando’s Parrs Wood, Amy Steele a Team Leader at Capital FM Arena, Georgia Mae Lipsham, Customer Services Adviser at Rich Products, Linda Schneider from the University of Miami, Esme Abbott, Shyoo Hayashi Marcus whom works at The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.
Sophie McCutcheon, Adam Mark Blake from Portchester, Andrew Bond whom works at Nationwide Insurance, Sandra Nuschele, Nikoline Jensen a Vikar at Børnehuset Eremitageparken, Natty Brown from the Catholic School of Archbishop of Ilsley, Nick Bruno, from The University of the Arts, Nico Schütze from the IFM – Institut für Managementlehre, Ty Broddle from Liverpool, Becki Warshow a Substitute Teacher / Volunteer Tutor at United South End Settlements, Shiran Cohen, Maale shaharut, Steve Lin, Aldo Neto, Bruno Garrido a Shop Seller at MSC Crociere, Julian James whom works at Liceo Scientifico Vittorio Veneto, Natacha Ferreira Ginja from Salto, Sao Paulo, David Chadwick from Northcote High School Michelle Dennis, Jade Vardy, Juliette Richard from Paris, France, Amanda Lynn whom works at Volunteer Southern Africa.
Graham Wilkin ‘a’ Security Adviser, Yaqin Song a Graduate Research Assistant at Georgia Tech, Stella Maria Galíndez from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dan Maslach a Mechanical Engineer / Fuel Cell Lab Manager at U.S. Army TARDEC, Amanda Gross from the North State Carolina University, Andy Barrowcliffe from the Whitcliffe Mount College, Emily Rabska whom is a Kennel Supervisor at Eau Claire County Humane Association – ECCHA, Daniel Stratti from Sogndalsfjæra, Sogn Og Fjordane, Norway, Jo Kamenir, Full-Time P.E. Teacher at Epic Christian Academy, Lea Francisci from Montreal, Quebec, and Franziska Romrig.
The list above has been taken from a public database of which we [the organisation] haven’t committed a criminal offence in obtaining this data. As you can see above the vast majority if not all students, volunteers and supporters have no real expertise within conservation or animal welfare. Many of the individuals above are school or university goers or leavers, gap year students, or just general members of the public whom have on their own accord freely researched petting and reserve industries. From our own research we know that the vast majority of these individuals have visited South Africa via the company known as Volunteer Southern Africa that offers you the chance to volunteer at parks, lodges, farms and alleged ‘conservation teaching/science establishments’. On contacting the Volunteer Southern Africa organisation the company stated:
“We offer those the chance to assist in rearing and abandoned cat programs to help threatened and endangered species”
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa see’s otherwise, and so should those that are offering students the chance to interact with baby Lions, Cheetahs, Tigers and Leopards. While we do not dispute the fact that some establishments within Southern Africa do run programs for orphaned and abandoned cats. Professional big cat rescues and orphanages do not under circumstances allow you to interact, walk, pet or pick up captive animals, moreover if they do allow interaction [this practice is very minimal]. Nor will these ‘professional’ rescues and orphanages continue to breed such animals thus again allowing the public to interact while making a tidy profit. And its not just these industries within South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe that are making colossal profits too, British travel agencies as explained above are also cashing in on animal exploitation (and they know it too).
No felid from Lions, Cheetahs, Leopard or Tigers can if hand reared ever be freely released into the wild, and if released into the wild the chances of their survival is incredibly slim. Yes there are such cases from which animals have been reintroduced into the African wild after being hand reared or kept within captive facilities for the vast majority of their lives, however these are rare and very few animals do actually survive.
Ukutula Lion and Research Center, Glen Afric, Lion Park, The South African Lion Park, Volunteer Southern Africa, do not under any circumstances reintroduce anyone of their animals that have been reared or sold to them from unidentified individuals ever release their cats into the wild. What these five unethical organisations actually practice is ‘cub petting’ and ‘adult cat petting’ which goes completely against the ethics and rules of conservationism. Moreover the five identified industries above and countless more are being endorsed and supported by the following professional establishments; Veterinary Faculty at the University of Pretoria at Onderstepoort, the Zodiac Animal Clinic and Old Chapel Veterinary Clinic in Pretoria. What’s even more worrying is that despite the public outcry, Blood Lions documentary and worldwide condemnation at such practices (even when evidence is shown of abuse), The Department of Nature Conservation undertakes checks to ensure that all abuse is being played out according to South African law. (Excuse the sarcasm there)..
Environmental Conservation Scientists and Wildlife Veterinarian Officers are becoming increasingly frustrated at viewing such hypocrisy from local and, overseas tourists that are allegedly promoting animal welfare and rights. Take Mme Mandy Blasetti, from Elkridge Maryland. Mme Blasetti works at the Banfield Pet Hospital in Maryland whom back in June of this year visited the Glen Afric Lodge.
Image 1&2: On questioning Glen Afric, the lodge stated that petting was not on the agenda.
As a Conservation Scientist myself I know very well that such human interaction only inflicts more harm to our African Lions than is being seen within this ‘very innocent looking image’. I’d have expected better too from a so called Veterinary Technician that of my own understanding should have been taught at university or college that this behavior is totally unacceptable. But why is this behavior unacceptable, what is the big issue about petting? Firstly many people that visit game lodges, parks or farms believe that just because hunting is not on the agenda (or because they are not aware of it), these animals will not suffer. That itself is complete and utter nonsense. So lets talk petting.
“Breeders and captive felid keepers quote many the following answers to questioning students”
Breeders, farms, lodges and “big cat projects” who charge or ask the public to pet and take photos with young cubs often tell people the following lies:
- That the exhibitors are “rescuers” and operate “sanctuaries”.
- That the cubs have a good life while being used to make money.
- They enjoy being moved about and repeatedly awakened and handled by dozens of people all day.
- That blowing in the cubs face “calms” them down.
- That dangling them by holding under their front arms and bouncing them up and down “resets” them.
- That close up photos with flash does not harm the cubs.
- That it is safe for the cubs and for humans, and legal, to allow contact with cubs from when they are only a few weeks old to when they are six months or more old. (In South Africa this is still legal).
- That the exhibitor must keep constantly breeding and using the cubs to make money because that is the only way he/she can support the adult animals he/she keeps.
- That the exhibitor is doing this to promote conservation in the wild.
- That the exhibitor is teaching people not to have exotic animals as pets.
And the biggest lie of all:
- That the cubs will have good homes after they get too big to be used to make money from petting.
“Are you a student that has been given anyone of the answers above? If so your promoting pseudo conservation, none of which has any value to conservation whatsoever”
We [the organisation] know too well that any petting or interaction industry that is either supporting hunting or indirectly supporting the canned hunting industry regularly reads our articles. We also know that they go to great lengths to clean their image up while still promoting pseudo unethical conservation. Lastly we also know that many breeders, lodges, parks Etc. will think up many different alternative answers to visitors questions after reading the above, as they know countless supporters read our articles. That’s what makes International Animal Rescue Foundation stand out from other non-governmental organisations. We don’t only fight to prove our point, we provide scientific facts from non-related experts and our own experienced scientific team too.
Virus and Disease
Petting, breeding and “big cat projects” rarely do tell their visiting students, volunteers and tourists the dangers in relation to petting cubs and adult cats. Within South Africa the current protocol (although its not necessarily the law), is that all new born cubs must be vaccinated from the ages of six weeks old. New born Cheetah, Lion, Tiger or Leopard cubs are not vaccinated automatically after birth. This in turn places visiting students and volunteers in danger of catching ‘a zoonotic disease’.
What is a Zoonotic Disease?
A zoonotic disease is a disease that can be passed between animals and humans. Zoonotic diseases can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi. These diseases are very common. Scientists estimate that more than 6 out of every 10 infectious diseases in humans are spread from animals to humans. Still believe the industry is safe? Lets take a look.
A May 2011 statement from the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) recommends that the public be prohibited from direct contact with cubs due to the risk of illness to humans stating” …ringworm in 23 persons and multiple animal species was traced to a Microsporum canis infection in a hand-reared zoo Tiger cub.” Zoonotic diseases — those that jump to humans — account for three quarters of all emerging infectious threats, the Center for Disease Control says. Five of the six diseases the agency regards as top threats to national security are zoonotic. The Journal of Internal Medicine  estimated that 50 million people worldwide have been infected with zoonotic diseases since 2000 and as many as 78,000 have died.
Image: Student volunteer feeds a cub that’s been snatched from its mother at birth.
Even with stringent monitoring procedures in place within South Africa rarely do you see, read or hear of zoonotic diseases being passed from animal to human (in South Africa). That doesn’t mean such diseases aren’t documented, far from it. Remember that most people visiting petting parks, lodges and farms or those that interact with captive and/or wild ‘adult’ animals end up travelling back home. So theoretically these virus and diseases will often be noted at the last minute or in this case on returning home. We do encourage tourists, students and volunteers to research zoonotic diseases documented within the countries that you are visiting though.
- Numerous instances of E. coli and cryptosporidiosis infections as a result of petting zoo visits in US, Canada, UK and elsewhere. Some of these infections have resulted in severe illness and even death.
- Screening of animals is usually limited to the common diseases and may not include all infectious diseases. Furthermore, screening cannot guarantee public safety.
- Cryptosporidium is only one of a number of bugs that can be picked up during a visit to a petting farm. Other common infections are caused by E. coli and Salmonella.
- Cases of E. coli linked to farm attractions are at their highest levels between June and October. An infection with E. coli can lead to mild gastrointestinal illness or in serious cases it can cause bloody diarrhoea which can lead to severe illness or even death.
- People don’t need to have direct contact with the animals at a petting farm to get sick. Outbreaks of illness have occurred in people that only had contact with the petting farm environment (e.g. gates, fences).
- From 2011 to 2015 over 849 cases of ringworm have been reported from tourists, volunteers and students that visit South African farms, lodges and parks. Yet Nature Conservation South Africa and the SPCA’s still believe that public safety is pretty much okay.
From last month [October] students and tourists continue to question us demanding that we show proof of hunting. These students and tourists do honestly believe that hunting is obviously the only problem here, and if its not shown or there is no proof then all is simply okay. We don’t need to show proof of hunting, because until our questions below in relation to [hunting] directed at those inare answered then we will continue to believe that hunting is also a pivotal factor here within this pseudo conservation industry. Ukutula Lodge, The Lion Park, South African Lion Park, Glen Afric, and Volunteer Southern Africa have all failed to provide any explanation as to why they they allow, promote and encourage petting of which we know like other NGO’s leads to hunting one way or the other. But why, how does it lead to hunting? Firstly lets make ourselves crystal clear here. Just because hunting is not seen on anyone of the petting parks, lodges or farms doesn’t mean under circumstances that hunting isn’t going on elsewhere. The wool is being pulled over many tourists eyes. (Please view the Blood Lions trailer below).
Volunteer Southern Africa that is endorsed and promoted by both Amanzi Travel UK, Rooms For Africa, Trip Adviser and Volunteer Travel from I-to-I UK, from 2010 to date encourage students, volunteers and tourists to visit their [Living with Lions Project] We are shocked at the many SPONSORS that also support this project too. The project is 100% cruel, increases disease, zoonotic diseases from animals to humans, see’s mother Lion left in distress when cubs are cruelly removed, has the potential to pass on virus and disease from human to animals and leaves nursing cubs that require a stress free environment stressed out. (See view video below)
What the Living With Lions Project Doesn’t Advertise
There are numerous issues with releasing hand-raised Lions into the wild. These Lions will always associate humans with food (as they have always been provided with food from humans while they have been growing up). Hand-raised Lions will still have their natural instincts; however they will not have the same natural fear of humans that wild-born Lions have, which will make them more likely to come into conflict with humans after their release.
These Lion parks make a considerable amount of money from tourists who pay for interactions with cubs. Generally, cubs that are aged between 1 and 3 months are used as these are most ‘suitable’ as they are small, photogenic and at an age where the size of their teeth and claws mean that the damage they could do to tourists is limited.
However something which is overlooked is the fact that young animals (like humans) need a lot of rest and sleep whilst growing. On busy days at these parks when there are a lot of tourists wanting their chance to play with a Lion cub, the cubs are not given this time. Regular interaction with humans can also cause health problems with the cubs. Many cubs in these facilities have been known to die of stress-related diseases and they can suffer injuries by being incorrectly handled by inexperienced staff, volunteers or tourists.
Image: Selfish tourist interacting with confused Lion cub destined for death.
In order for the parks to be able to offer interaction opportunities with cubs, they are taken from their mothers after a few days to a few weeks (depending on the facility). This can lead to viral, respiratory and nutritional problems with are common amongst hand-raised predators due to substandard milk formulas being used to replace the mother’s milk. This can lead to lower immunity and the regular contact with humans can cause the cubs to contract diseases such as ringworm (often passed from visitors’ own domestic cats at home).
The removal of cubs from their mothers at a young age also leads to problems for the mother herself as the Lioness can come back into oestrus sooner than she should do. This allows the park owners to breed from the Lionesses at a much more regular rate than Lionesses in the wild would reproduce. This in turn allows a constant supply of cubs that can be used for interactions.
The Lion breeding industry is growing and with it so are concerns of welfare issues for these Lions. Most volunteers and tourists who go to these parks do so unknowingly and with the best of intentions. When questioning the conservation ethics of them, they are told that they are helping to increase numbers of Lions in the wild, but evidence of this is hugely lacking and this is linked to the issues of releasing hand-reared Lions into the wild, as discussed above.
These facilities need a constant supply of cubs at the right age for interactions, where they are still cute for photographic opportunities, small enough to cuddle and of little danger to visitors, which begs the question, what happens to these cubs when they are too old for interactions?
There is no straightforward answer to this but there are a number of agreed possibilities that are widely accepted within wildlife circles. Many of the Lions are sold for private collections but the most commonly acknowledged destination for these Lions is into the canned hunting industry IARFA knows and holds evidence that four of the five petting industries above are involved within the hunting industry. Canned hunting refers to the highly controversial act of raising an animal within a confined area and then hunting the animal within a confined area in order increase the likelihood of the hunter obtaining a kill. Therefore visitors and volunteers at such facilities are unwittingly supporting the canned hunting industry. Furthermore what they don’t know about hunting I.e they do not see will push them into the false sense of belief that hunting is not occurring simply because its not occurring on the questionable lodge, park, farm of reserve.
There is a lot of money in this industry as people are willing to page large amounts of money to shoot a Lion, and canned hunting makes this possible for people who have limited time and hunting skills as the animal is in a confined area. The money that can be generated from selling Lions into this industry is enough for Lion parks to sell their Lions that have previously been used as interaction cubs to canned hunting facilities where tourists can have the ‘ultimate hunting experience’ by shooting a Lion.
IF you are still reading this document and do firmly believe that what your supporting is ethical conservation then we do have major problems. International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa has gone to extraordinary lengths to show to you what the petting industry really is. We know that some students, volunteers and tourists will have been informed that some if not all of the animals that are on the premises they have visited are most likely rescues. So if that’s true then the following questions below and points raised can be answered?
QUESTIONS NEVER ANSWERED
Can the premises in question back these claims up? Can they show documentation that proves these animals were rescues? Where did these animals come from? Why are there so many cubs? Why in many images do we witness many pretty young women and handsome young men holding cubs? (that question should be enough to prove to you that the industry your supporting is indeed a marketing industry) that uses sly tactics to emotionally eye rape young and inquisitive students, volunteers and tourists. Why does Ukutula Lion and Research Center like the other four questionable lodges, parks, farms and ‘Living with Lions Projects’ use systems such as ECOscan. ECOscan is a system of which Lions are sold on to exotic buyers, farms and hunting lodges. Furthermore the system also protects the buyers information I.e name, company, location and address. See image below.
ECOSCAN is a system that Ukutula Lion and Research Center uses to sell animals on to buyers. Ukutula Lodge has also implemented into their terms and conditions one of the following rather interesting rules:
- Buyers must agree to the animal being chipped that both ECOscan and Ukutula Lodge monitor.
However what Ukutula Lion and Research Center do not tell you is that the buyer once they breed that Lion, them cubs are immune from this system. So after birth has taken place Ukutula Lodge has then distanced themselves from the questionable buyer. Meaning its “more than likely that hunting is occurring”. Lastly on checking with South African lawyers no buyer of any Lion from Ukutula does not under any circumstances have to agree with Ukutula’s terms of policies/agreements Etc. A very crafty move by an alleged Lion Research Center, one of which the public cannot easily trace that buyer too. Please view image below and click on the image to view which British Travel Agency supports it, alternatively please click >here<
Image: Volunteer Travel I-I UK supports Ukutula Lodge that Blood Lions called into question.
Last month the South African Non Governmental Organisation, Blood Lions called into question Ukutula Lodge that refused to allow the Blood Lions team onto their property to investigate claims in relation to canned hunting. To read more on that subject please view the link below:
The last thing we ever wanted to be forced to do was to begin exposing the petting industry at an angle that sees us exposing those that directly contribute to the industry that has skyrocketed over the past ten years. Unfortunately we’re being forced too. We’ve provided more than enough facts, accounts, and evidence. What or more to the point how much more evidence do students, tourists and volunteers really require?
Image: Students at the Living with Big Cats Project.
Image: Student at the Living with Lions Project.
Image: Student at the Living with Lions Project.
Image: Student advertised on the UK Travel Firm Amanzi Travel UK.
Image: Lonely cub advertised for petting at the I to I Volunteering UK agency.
No money the public spends to pet or take photos with cubs ever goes to support conservation in the wild. In fact, the opposite is true. There is a huge and growing market for Tiger and Lion parts, and Tiger and Lion “derivatives”, i.e. products made out of Tiger and Lion parts like Tiger and Lion bone wine. A dead Tiger/Lion is worth up to $50,000 for its parts. Breeding what US Fish and Wildlife Service calls “generic” Tigers like the ones used in the mall exhibits is not tracked, similar to ECOscan system used by various lodges and parks in South Africa. So there is no way to know how many born Tigers/Lions are killed to have their parts illegally sold into this trade. And, the more that trade expands, the more incentive the poachers, hunters and farmers have to kill Tigers and other big cats in the wild and via hunting within South Africa. Yes sadly, farmers and lodges, parks and alleged “living with big cats programs’ will sell after hunting (in some if not all cases) bones on to the Asiatic market to double their money. All supported by you the volunteer, tourist and student.
The cubs used for petting exhibits/farms Etc are torn from their mothers shortly after birth, causing emotional pain to both the cubs and the mothers. Imagine what that mother experiences after enduring the long pregnancy and finally giving birth, filled with the instincts to nurture her cubs, and then having them snatched away. The breeders take them away and have people handle them so the cubs will “imprint” on the people instead of doing what is natural and imprinting on their mothers.
And what is life like during the months they are used to make money for their owners? Cubs this age want to roam, explore, test their young muscles to develop coordination, and sleep for extended periods of time without interruption. Watch what happens during these exhibits. The cubs are repeatedly awakened so a customer can pet them instead of being allowed the sleep their young bodies need. When they try to wander they are repeatedly yanked back. And where are they when not on exhibit? Well I’m sure you can answer that question. A nursery maybe? Possibly, without the mother that is pining for her young? Just because its a cozy looking nursery means nothing.
Thank you for reading.
Dr Jose C. Depre.
Chief Environmental Officer and CEO;
PhD. MEnvSc. BSc(Hons) Botany, PhD(NeuroSci) D.V.M. Environmental & Human Science
Environmental and Animal Rescue Investigations Chief Officer.
Endangered Species Monday: Hylonympha macrocerca
This Monday’s Endangered Species Post (ESP) watch I take a rare glimpse into the life of Hylonympha macrocerca, commonly known as the Scissor Tailed Hummingbird. Identified in 1873 by Dr John Gould FRS September 1804 – 3 February 1881) whom was an English ornithologist and bird artist. He published a number of monographs on birds, illustrated by plates that he produced with the assistance of his wife, Elizabeth Gould, and several other artists including Edward Lear, Henry Constantine Richter, Joseph Wolf and William Matthew Hart. He has been considered the father of bird study in Australia and the Gould League in Australia is named after him. His identification of the birds now nicknamed “Darwin’s finches” played a role in the inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. (Image: Scissor Tailed Hummingbird)
Listed as (endangered) this remarkable specimen was listed as threatened back in 1988. Since this time little conservation efforts have been seen to improve the species overall status within the wild of which extinction is incredibly likely. From 1994 to 1996 the species was listed as critically endangered. From the start of the Millennium conservation efforts did improve the wild status of the hummingbird to (vulnerable), unfortunately from 2008 to date the species has been re-listed as endangered again. From my own evaluations of the birds current threats and shrinking habitat, extinction will occur within the next five to ten years, unless conservation efforts improve, funding increases and dangers disperse soon.
Endemic to Venezuela and Bolivia evidence has shown that overall population sizes are decreasing very rapidly. The population trend when last evaluated back in 2012, showed around 10,000 to 19,900 ‘individuals’ within the wild. This equates to exactly 6,000 to 13,000 ‘mature individuals’ remaining, which is rounded to 6,000 to 15,000 ‘birds in total’. The Scissor Tailed Hummingbird specie inhabits lower and upper montane humid forest, where it has been recorded at 800-1,200 m on Cerro Humo, and 530-920 m further east.
In primary forest, the specie feeds mainly at bromeliad flowers and on their insect inhabitants, whereas in secondary forest, feeding is associated with the shrubs Heliconia aurea and Costus sp. Although it is regularly seen feeding on Heliconia in open areas it may nevertheless be dependent on the availability of pristine forest nearby. It also hawks insects from exposed perches. There may be seasonal movements.
Listed on Cites Appendix II (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species wild flora and fauna), increases in cash-crop agriculture, especially the cultivation of “ocumo blanco” (Xanthosoma sagittifolium) and “ocumo chino” (Colocasia esculenta), since the mid- to late 1980s have resulted in some uncontrolled burning and forest degradation. Cerros Humo and Patao have been worst affected, with the east of the peninsula fairly undisturbed.
Since it is an understorey inhabitant, removal of understorey vegetation for coffee and cacao cultivation is likely to lead to reduced population density. It is considered nationally Endangered in Venezuela, and has been recognized as a “high priority” species, amongst the top dozen priorities for bird conservation in Venezuela.
Image: Scissor Tailed Hummingbird.
Occasionally the species is misidentified as the Red-billed streamertail which is also commonly known as the scissor-tail or scissors tail hummingbird. However its fairly easy to distinguish between the two when viewing online or within books. This particular species (in question) is not native to Jamaica, and one can quite easily differentiate between the two. The Scissor Tailed Hummingbird has obviously acquired its name due to its unique scissor tailed rump feathers, whereas the Jamaican Red-billed streamertail doesn’t host the same features but more as explained – streamer like rump feathers.
Sadly as explained due to increasing threats we will lose this bird unless conservation efforts improve dramatically and dangers subside. However this is unlikely to occur. The Scissor Tailed Hummingbird will be yet another species of bird added soon to the extinction list of amazing birds, that we humans have destroyed. The video below depicts a female Scissor Tailed Hummingbird within the Venezuela wild.
Thank you for reading.
Dr Jose C. Depre.
Environmental and Botanical Scientist.
STUDENT AND TOURIST – BOYCOTT
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa’s Board of Directors have decided to call for an immediate tourist and student boycott of Ukutula Lodge & Lion Park (Ukutula Lodge) situated at the address below with immediate effect. Please share this data onto all friends, family, work colleagues and, anyone that you know who’s planning on visiting the Ukutula Lodge & Lion Park (Ukutula Lodge) in South Africa:
Ukutula Lodge & Lion Park (Ukutula Lodge) please click the links below for GPS and Sites.
26 of the Farm Klipkop,
We the organisation please encourage all members of the public to visit TRIP ADVISER and UKUTULA SOCIAL MEDIA pages and pre-warn all members of the public and provide a ONE STAR rating not to visit this lodge. This farm lodge has categorically lied to the public, are selling animals onto to hunt, and haven’t answered a single question put to them since 2013. Today 2015 after the lodge yet again tried to fool the public into airing “a recorded and cut version of the BLOODLIONS.ORG film showing what (they want to show) Blood Lions made the following statement.
We the [organisation] have thought long and hard in relation to issuing a boycott with regards to Ukutula and their unprofessional practices operating under the guise of species research. International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa has taken in to consideration all aspects of the boycott, the implications this boycott could have on captive breeding and monetary loss. However had there not been evidence that clearly shows trade of Lions and other animals to silent partners, organisations and farms then we’d have not called for a mandatory boycott. Vasts sums of monetary income are coming into this lodge from private buyers of Lions, Cheetahs, Tigers and other animals. The farm doesn’t require funding from foreign tourists that are being lied too, brainwashed and fed misinformation, therefore a boycott must commence to shut this practice down.
Tourists and students that visit the Ukutula Lodge and Lion Park travel from the following countries: Germany; France; Finland; Holland; Denmark; Belgium; Norway; Serbia; Romania; Sweden; United States; Canada; Italy; Australia; New Zealand; Czech Republic; South Africa; Namibia; Zimbabwe; Botswana; Ireland; Portugal; Greece; Thailand; China; Vietnam; Brazil; Peru; Argentina; Mexico; Hawaii; India and Taiwan. There are likely many other countries that tourists and students are encouraged to visit too. However the vast majority are coming in from Holland, Germany, France, United Kingdom, United States, South Africa and Belgium.
Further boycotts will be called for and all boycotts with data and contact details will be posted onto our main environmental news and media site. Boycott information will be communicated to our education and youth team, as well as being communicated to all 6.1 million supporters, 400,000 of which are aligned to our Africans organisation. Any organisation or company that is aligned to Ukutula and is either promoting their services, establishment, funding their team or is actively involved in pseudo education and conservation will also fall into the international boycott too.
Environmental News and Media have identified further third parties that are actively encouraging the promotion of UKUTULA Lion and Game Lodge too identified hereto: Pieter and Brenna, Hartbeespoort and the Crafters Market of which Your Cheetah Spot company are trading images of cubs and adults to the public. We suspect that these images and other crafts sold via the company through the market via felid exploitation are providing a source of income to both the company and Ukutula. This practice is unethical and encouraging the deaths of our wildlife. The University of Pretoria are also supporting the UKUTULA Lion and Game Lodge too. We please ask that international students refrain from visiting this university that are sponsoring the work of UKUTULA. Should we locate any further companies or teaching establishments that are promoting the UKUTULA lodge we’ll be implementing them within our daily news netter ebullition and hereto on this site.
This entire game lodge is not under any circumstances teaching practical or professional conservation. What they are doing is selling animals onto silent and unknown buyers, and promoting/encouraging petting. International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa will furthermore expose tourists, students and anyone that ignores our advice and that of third party NGO’s and investigative teams.. International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa’s role is to now shut this entire establishment down. Alternatively the establishment can immediately stop their pseudo practices and continue “professional conservation” while answering our questions.
WHY ARE WE CALLING FOR A TOURIST AND STUDENT BOYCOTT OF UKUTULA?
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa are calling for boycotts for the reasons set out hereto:
1. Promotion and interaction of felid cubs. (petting)
2. Evidence that proves cats and other animals allegedly used for research that allegedly live their life out on the grounds, being sold to private and silent buyers, organisations and farms.
3. Evidence that proves the lodge is actively involved within the hunting industry be it directly or indirectly.
4. Failure to answer straightforward and polite questions in relation to the above from ourselves, leading big cat specialists, and third party conservation organisations.
This boycott will be communicated in French, Dutch, German and Spanish. Furthermore we encourage others to please translate to your fellow friends, family, work colleagues and students.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa will call this boycott off at anytime should we be provided with the following data.
1. How many cats from the felid family have you bred since founded?
2. How many cubs and other members of the felid family have you sold onto individual buyers, farmers, safaris, and reserves Etc. since founded?
3. To whom have you sold the above animals too under your terms for ECOSCAN? I.e. names of farms, safaris, game reserves, lodges, private hunting services, zoological gardens, individual buyers Etc?
4. Please provide any data to back your claims up that you do not support the slaughter of any animals on your farming lodge?
5. Please provide an explanation as to why you feel its necessary to remove cubs from their mothers when the mothers can rear them quite capably.
6. Are you prepared to allow independent environmental investigation officers to visit your lodge and undertake a TWO YEAR review of your scientific research, monitoring of all captive felids from the hours of 06:00am to 18:00hrs? Monday to Saturday?
7. Do you have any other land or holding facilities that are not mentioned within the public domain?
8. Are you connected to any hunting organisation, safari, reserve or other institution that promotes hunting or sustainable utilization.
STUDENT TOURIST ACCOUNT VIA BLOODLIONS.ORG
British wildlife volunteer, Keeton Hill, shares his experience and findings after his time at Ukutula farm, South Africa.
In 2013 I volunteered at Ukutula, a supposed lion conservation centre outside of Brits, Pretoria, in South Africa. For 6 months afterwards, I spoke of how great the experience was, and about how much good Ukutula were doing. Several weeks after returning from South Africa, I saw a claim that they were involved in the sale of lions for hunting. Initially, I dismissed this claim. However, after seeing more accusations, I decided to do some research to prove these claims wrong. A year and a half later, I am still yet to do so. Instead, I have only seen more and more evidence that I actually volunteered at a farm largely suspected to be involved in the canned hunting industry.
The project was booked through an agency which specialises in volunteering and working abroad. I spent 2 weeks in South Africa looking after lions. At Ukutula, volunteers were told that the lions were removed from their ‘dangerous’ parents, and hand-reared instead for their own safety. We were then told that samples were taken from the 100+ lions on the farm for research purposes, and that where possible, older lions were released into the wild.
During my two week stay, I noted several ways of doing things that I didn’t agree with. For example, there was no permanent staff member in charge of supervising the volunteers who were looking after the cubs. Upon arrival, volunteers were given a brief overview of how to care for them. As of that overview, it was up to the volunteers to decide between them who were to complete what tasks. Any authorisations or approvals were to be sought from the owners, who weren’t always available. This sometimes led to volunteers not knowing how to handle some situations, which then resulted in disagreements between volunteers. For example, some volunteers allowed young children to pet the cubs, whilst others didn’t. Some allowed guests to feed the cubs, others didn’t. There was also an occasion during which the powdered milk supply for the cubs ran out. It was a two hour wait before more was delivered. I also didn’t agree with the cubs being able to be hired for parties and events (which happened several times during my stay). Despite these things, I naively believed everything that we were told about the ‘research’ conducted at the park, and the lion ‘release’ program.
WOULD UKUTULA AND MR STRACHAN PLEASE BE KIND ENOUGH TO PROVE WHERE ALL OF THESE ANIMALS ARE NOW SHOT BY A STUDENT BACK IN 2013 IN THE VIDEO BELOW?
After the accusations against Ukutula were made, and I started my research, it became clear that these claims of releases were simply not true, and that Ukutula was far from what it made itself out to be. I realised that it operated in exactly the same way as canned hunting farms are described as operating. These similarities included a constant stream of cubs being born (there were 9 under the age of 3 months whilst I was there, with more on the way), large groups of tourists petting the cubs throughout the day, walks with older lions, and promises of the eventual release of lions into the wild (of which no evidence has ever been provided).
In order to build up a balanced and comprehensive picture about Ukutula, and find out as much about it as possible, I asked questions to a previous volunteer, a previous member of staff, and the centre’s current owner. I asked both the previous volunteer and previous staff member if they had any reason to believe that the suggestions regarding Ukutula being involved in the canned hunting industry were true. The volunteer told me that they no longer supported the centre, as they had heard several claims that lions were sold from the park (something which the centre themselves later admitted to). The staff member politely declined to comment. I then asked the current owner a series of questions, regarding why they bred so many lions, and when and where their lions are released. I was told that the centre had never claimed to release lions into the wild (which is simply not true, as myself and several other volunteers were told by the centre themselves that they do).
Since this initial realisation, it has only become more and more clear that the Ukutula lies to its volunteers and guests, has never released any lions into the wild, and that they are also more than likely involved in canned hunting. The farm admitted to moving at least 2 lions, Michael and Mandela, to zoos in the United States, and the whereabouts of several lions, such as Kevin, Kylie, Ricky, and Jenny, to name just a few, are now unknown. Attempts at finding out where these lions might be through asking members of the farms staff have proved unsuccessful, always resulting in rudely written replies, which avoid answering the question. For example, when asked the whereabouts of Kevin the lion, an Ukutula employee replied, “none of you(r) damn business”.
When I questioned the farm using an alternative email address to my own, posing as a volunteer interested in working there, they admitted that “lions are relocated in different places”. When I asked, “doesn’t that mean that the people that you send lions to could then sell them onto hunters”, the farm replied that, with a supposed “monitoring system” in the planning, this should mean that they should be “able to react to that”, but “sadly it does not mean there is a 100% guarantee”. I have also since realised that the CITES database shows absolutely no record of any lions being exported from South Africa for release into the wild in any other country. However, what it does show, is mass exports for lion trophies, lion bones, and lion skin.
I have shared my findings and opinions with any volunteers who were at Ukutula with me, and continue to attempt to inform other people who have been to the farm, as well as people that I know personally, about the canned hunting industry. Unfortunately, many previous volunteers refuse to believe about the industry, and defend the farm, often insulting or ignoring the people trying to inform them.
As the canned hunting industry is entirely legal in South Africa, creating awareness and understanding of the industry is vital, as this is one of the only ways to fight against it. The more people who know about canned hunting, the better, as this lessens the amount of unknowing volunteers who believe themselves to be doing good, which then lessens the money that these farms receive. This is why Blood Lions is so important, as it could finally be the large scale exposure of canned hunting that is needed to educate people about the canned hunting industry, as well as maybe even changing the terrible fate of South Africa’s captive-bred lions.
END OF TESTIMONY
One of the most upsetting images is that from 2013 that depicts famous singer Kylie Minouge (pictured below) petting a Cheetah cub at Ukutula that has been removed from its mother (hardly a good example to set to our children or young wildlife conservationists). Many of the students whom travel to work at this Lion and farm lodge are often told that cubs have to be separated from their mothers as the mothers are “allegedly to dangerous” and could attack or do attack the cubs.
This seemingly irresponsible advice comes from a wide range of fake conservationists that work at the facility. One in particular Mr Alan Strachan whom runs the company “Your Cheetah Spot“. Scottish born Mr Strachan that works at the Ukutula Lion and Game Lodge actively encourages people to interact with Cheetah cubs, has been witnessed man-handling the Cheetah cubs, and provides the same excuses as most staff. “The cubs are ill, cannot be released into the wild or are suffering from a wide range of tendon or ligament problems (hence why they can all walk) and look (more than healthy).
If your still thinking on visiting and taking part in the petting of cubs of which you have been told these animals are introduced into the wild. Then ask yourselves this. Why are these animals in the video below that are allegedly “so dangerous” being hand fed, and are more than tame? But more importantly can Ukutula provide evidence to back their claims up that these animals in the video below and depictions above are not dead, or ANY of the females that are sold then bred producing cubs thus not falling under “Ukutula’s ECOSCAN policy” are not then killed for the canned hunting and the trophy hunting industry? Many hunters will try and tell you that this unethical practice is helping to increase populations of Lions. So in that case please do visit the IUCN Red List and look up the Panthera Leo, can you see anywhere in this data that proves such activities are helping Lions or any cat population increases in the wild? OPEN YOUR EYES!
“DON’T BE FOOLED BY CUTENESS OR FOBBED OFF WITH EXCUSES”
Dr Jose C. Depre
Chief Environmental and Botanical Officer.
Chief Executive Officer.
THE BIG CAT DEBATE PART III
“Conservation is not Petting Cubs or Promoting the Petting Industry”
Over the past week and a half we have been investigating some nine conservation organisations and companies aligned to them organisations within South Africa. As of yesterday we began to make public them questions which were legitimate and fully above board. We have given two related companies known as Your Cheetah Spot and Ukutula Game Lodge over twenty four hours to answer the questions set out here on Facebook within this article. Any professional organisation that isn’t involved within the direct petting or game hunting of threatened species one would then think such questions would quite easily be answerable to place public faith into the domain. Unfortunately within the past hour it seems otherwise.
Your Cheetah Spot a photography and alleged merchandise company, and what appears to be an organisation that is directly aligned with the promotion of petting cubs has not only failed to answer more than straightforward questions, but has evaded them by attacking us with silly nonsense seen hereto. Now we weren’t pointing fingers, nor was we accusing which can be read in all of our posts on Facebook hereto.
While we respect that Your Cheetah Spot is indeed a company their main Facebook imagery and online articles states otherwise. In the image below one can clearly see that the Your Cheetah Spot company is in someway aligned with the recently brought into question Ukutula Game Lodge, that appears to have some two or more Facebook pages online. International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa is a company and not charitable. Meaning that we work for our money. From 2012 to 2015 we have become increasingly suspicions in relation to over ninety South African organisations being “conservation and hunting”.
We equated that over R8.9 BILLION (ZAR) has been pumped into all of the ninety hunting and conservation organisations. However we’ve seen little if any conservation work, reduction in species threat status, reduction in anti poaching or increase of any species they are directly working with in the wild. As we are not a charity but indeed a giver 1/2 of these organisations fell within our (Funding African and Asian Wildlife Survival) program. While we have not provided monetary income to Your Cheetah Spot or Ukutula Game Lodge, we have directly and indirectly promoted their services or organisation[s] (2013-2014). That in turn has technically brought our company into disrepute in regards to malpractice and public misinformation, furthermore it was somewhat more embarrassing that members of the public also pointed this out to us too, and not forgetting some twelve key conservation experts.
The image below shows that both Your Cheetah Spot and Ukutula Game Lodge are related in one way or the other.
Ukutula Lodge does go under other names of Facebook too such as Ukutula Game Lodge Etc. On viewing Your Cheetah Spot company we were somewhat concerned with the vast amount of small cubs that are in our eyes being petted by the public, or by the staff in general from which we believe is at the Ukutula Game Lodge. Please view the images below. Please also note that it has been alleged that some of these animals are “sick and unwell” and cannot be released into the wild. We our now bringing that into question.
The male in the image above is known as a wildlife photographer and conservation researcher, of which he also with his students, friends and family helps at the Cheetah Research Center, while meeting up with members of the public at the Ukutula Game Lodge or Ukutula Lodge. When putting questions to Scottish born Alan Strachan and the user on the Your Cheetah Spot Facebook page we was then made aware of the current unprofessional behavior of Ukutula Game Lodge. Its at this very lodge that our suspicions have yet again arisen, of which you can view in the images below.
Interestingly when viewing more data on Ukutula Game Lodge we were somewhat perplexed as to how many big cats this farm is currently holding of which it states “is research”. Even more worrying is that the vast majority of these cats are/or were all cubs, all of which are being bred on a “game farm”. Please view the data below.
Now just to remind the millions of readers that tune into our environmental investigations news site what a game farm is, we have made it very simple to read and understand for you to come to your own conclusions. Please see the image below.
A further suspicion that was then immediately raised by the External Affairs investigative team was the vast majority of friends on Mr Strachan’s Facebook friends list that are all (holding or petting) cubs, yet there seems to be no mothers in sight, please see the image below.
The list is pretty endless of which you can view more here
Any good professional conservation teacher, conservation organisation, research center, or reserve would not under any circumstances allow the direct petting of any big cat cubs. The potential for virus and disease to emerge and not forgetting the removal of the cats natural hunting instincts would severely be detrimental to the animals health. So on viewing the two parties being that The Ukutula Game Lodge and Your Cheetah Spot company that boasts years of experience then why are we seeing such behavior? Furthermore on questioning Your Cheetah Spot company they categorically stated that they hadn’t released any animals in to wild since . Yet they also stated to the CEO that they were just a simple photography and gift company.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa asked some nine very basic and straight forward easy to answer questions. The organisation has waited and waited, the questions were stern but not abusive. However it would appear that on asking such straightforward questions “Your Cheetah Spot company” has not only become abusive but have shown just how hateful of homosexuals they are (again clutching at straws and trying to turn the table onto us). See the screen shots below.
So when basic very polite questions are asked not only are we spat at with trolling nonsense from hunters and deluded pseudo activists whom have created these articles in the image above, the Chief Executive Officer is then spat more abuse at insinuating that he is gay and obviously goes under many other names too. And as yet, still there is no answers to our questions.
Linda whom runs the Facebook page Your Cheetah Spot stated that the vast majority of these animals cannot be released back into the wild. The kind lady also stated that many animals are sick or injured. Furthermore Linda stated that there is not enough room to simply release Cheetahs back into the wild within South Africa. As a more than competent and professional environmental company there is room, and there are also many active reintroduction programs over the border. In our own opinion these animals are not being released as then that would mean a loss of revenue. Furthermore if these animals are being bred for science, what happens to them after the research is up. Lastly as you may all remember Cecil? Cecil was one of many Lions that the Oxford University Lion Research Center studied, oddly IN THE WILD!
Reintroduction programs have been very operational within Swaziland for some years. Furthermore South Africa is not detached from the continent. Bordering you have Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and finally Lesotho with Swaziland in the far right. So the excuse that these “many small cubs” that are new born and are most certainly not sick, old, injured (in most cases) cannot be reared in accordance to a professional captive breeding program is utter nonsense. Just to remind you – Linda whom is aligned with the You Cheetah Spot company stated that the last release was back in 2007 of any Cheetahs which we do believe was in the KWN.
A further concern is that Linda stated Alan Strachan (experienced photographer and author) has many contacts within the Cheetah Breeding theater, see image below.
The comment above is just a contradiction of what is being viewed at the Ukutula Game Lodge of which Alan Strachan visits regularly such as “you have to make sure that there is very little contact with humans” “The last prey release was back in 2007”. If these contradictions do not spring up red flags to you then they should. Swaziland has been the center for many Cheetah releases over the years as listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s website. Furthermore the sheer fact that in the vast majority of Mr Strachan’s images on his Facebook profile that depict “cub petting” and on their very own Facebook page is also somewhat concerning.
THE LIES BREEDING AND RESEARCH CENTERS TELL YOU
Below is a list of common lies or misinformation breeding, research and farming centers will try their utmost best to tell you. However at the end of the day its down to you to undertake your own research. Why are there so many cubs, why have there never been any releases of animals into the wild, why are there never no mothers seen with the cubs, why did the breeder or the supporter of a breeder state that these animals cannot be released back into the wild in South Africa..The simple answer to that question would be (mass loss of profit). Again we’re not putting words into your mouths, we are though asking you to please open your eyes, question, look around.
Breeders who charge the public to pet and take photos with young tiger, lion, cheetah or leopard cubs tell venues and customers some or all of the following ‘misinformation which is’:
1) That the exhibitors are “rescuers” and operate “sanctuaries”
2) That the cubs have a good life while being used to make money:
a) They enjoy being carted around the country in a semi and repeatedly awakened and handled by dozens of people all day
b) That blowing in the cubs face “calms” them down
c) That dangling them by holding under their front arms and bouncing them up and down “resets” them cubs at the mall
Cubs at the mall always = cub abuse
d) That close up photos with flash does not harm the cubs
3) That it is safe for the cubs and for humans, and legal, to allow contact with cubs from when they are only a few weeks old to when they are six months or more old.
4) That the exhibitor must keep constantly breeding and using the cubs to make money because that is the only way he can support the adult animals he keeps.
5) That the exhibitor is doing this to promote conservation in the wild.
6) That the exhibitor is teaching people not to have exotic animals as pets
And the biggest lie of all:
7) That the cubs will have good homes after they get too big to be used to make money from petting.
The images and evidence that is seen on one of the nine alleged conservation organisations that are either directly or indirectly involved in the promoting of petting or in this case “science and research”. Have shown little evidence of anyone of these animals actually being released into their native wild.
We DO NOT buy the excuse that states there is little room in South Africa to release these animals back into their native wild. Africa is a continent and South Africa is most certainly not detached from neighboring countries. South Africa borders Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland. Swaziland is one country of particular interest as many Cheetah reintroduction programs are happening within this country. The Cheetah Spot company also made public that Mr Strachen has many contacts with “Cheetah breeders” so why are we not seeing reintroduction, but more ‘petting’ of which these images are directly promoting the petting industry which in turn directly promotes the canned and non-canned hunting industry.
If you would like to know more about felid petting one can view the link here supplied by the Big Cat Rescue.
So as our questions haven’t been answered then we’ll reprint them here in a more orderly and professional fashion. On hitting the publish button the news letter will be sent to over 2,000 subscribers and over 6.1 million supporters respectfully.
- What relation does Mr Strachan and Your Cheetah Spot company have in relation to the Ukutala Game Lodge?
- Why are there so many cubs being shown on the Ukutala Game Lodge and Your Cheetah Spot company that are not unwell but more than healthy?
- Why are there so many cubs with no mothers being petted at the Ukutala Game Lodge, and where are their mothers?
- What happens to the cubs being shown on the Your Cheetah Spot company and Ukutala Lodge when you have reached maximum holding capacity?
- From reading, Your Cheetah Spot company states its nothing more than a photography and merchandise company. The company stated that they have only managed to release some Cheetahs into the wild back in 2007. So from 2007 to date you’ve obviously been in contact with more cubs, so how many animals are you holding on this farm, and where are the excess going too, one cannot just continue breeding and not releasing they are obviously going somewhere?
- Are you Ukutula and Your Cheetah Spot company involved in game or canned hunting?
- Why are you “Your Cheetah Spot” company directly encouraging through photography the petting industry but then contradict yourselves by stating that these animals must have the bare minimal human contact?
- Are both Your Cheetah Spot company and Ukutala Game Lodge aware of the health implications to these animals via the direct handling, man-handling and petting of cubs and elders?
- Why does the Your Cheetah Spot company that stated 1. They are just a merchandise company then 2. agreed they are working directly with these animals believe that South Africa is the only country that these animals can be released into?
- Will you Your Cheetah Spot company and Ukutula Game Lodge make public the amount of animals that you have allegedly helped, released into the wild and how many have been deliberately bred?
- Why when questioned did you not answer the questions highlighted but then some 14 hours later placed untrue, derogatory and misleading data into the public domain asking people to share. When all we did was obtain the information from your own sites, your own staff, friends and online data? No professional organisation or individual would behave in that manner?
- How much money are Your Cheetah Spot Company directly making from petting big cats and cubs?
- How much money are Ukutala Game Lodge making from the direct petting of big cats and cubs, and where is this money going too. Why are you also promoting the “interaction with very healthy cubs” to foreign tourists of which is commonly known as a “Lion Petting Farm aka Hunting Industry”?
The next time you want to abuse us you may want to remember that we are not propagating misleading lies about you. The data above has derived directly from you. All we have done is placed that all together, reviewed it and come to the conclusion that from questions 1-13 both of you are in some way directly involved in the petting industry which has direct relations to the hunting industry.
For now we’re going to leave our concerns at this. We will though be going through all organisations and individuals aligned with us and, if found to be exploitation any animals will be removed and exposed by us. Lastly when you have emigrated to our country please respect our natural heritage.
External Affairs Department
Environmental and Animal Abuse Investigations Authority Europa.
EXTERNAL AFFAIRS HEAD OFFICERS:
Jose C. Depre: Chief Executive Officer.
Johan Le roux: Anti Poaching / Illegal Animal Parts Trade Head Investigator.
Michal Jooste: Endangered Species Watch.
Pitier Van rens den: Chief Environmental Officer and Emergency Rescue.
Endangered Species Monday: Rhinoceros sondaicus
This Endangered Species Post (ESP) Monday I have decided to touch up on the current fate of the critically endangered Javan Rhinoceros of which scientists this month caught yet another rare glimpse of this rather elusive beast within their still natural habitat. (Pic Javan Rhinoceros)
The Javan Rhinoceros was identified back in 1822 by Dr Anselme Gaëtan Desmarest (March 6, 1784 – June 4, 1838) was a French zoologist and author. He was the son of Nicolas Desmarest and father of Anselme Sébastien Léon Desmarest. Desmarest was a disciple of Georges Cuvier and Alexandre Brongniart, and in 1815, he succeeded Pierre André Latreille to the professorship of zoology at the École nationale vétérinaire d’Alfort. In 1820 he was elected to the Académie Nationale de Médecine.
Unlike the African black and white rhino, you’d be very lucky to catch a glimpse of this stunning specimen of which is classified as a sub-species of the four extant Rhinoceros and, is nearing complete extinction within the wild. Furthermore the subspecies of the Javan Rhinoceros are all extinct too. Known as Rhinoceros sondaicus sondaicus, Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus, and Rhinoceros sondaicus inermis the three sub-species went extinct from 1930-2011. Below I have included the “documented dates” of extinctions for the three sub-species to the Javan Rhinoceros.
- Rhinoceros sondaicus sondaicus (extinction was formally documented from 1999, however this report needs to be backed up with further historical data to pinpoint an exact extinction and location).
- Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus (extinction was formally recorded in 2010, however reports state the very last male was located dead within Viet Nam back in 2011).
- Rhinoceros sondaicus inermis (extinction was formally recorded back in 1925).
Please note the Wikipedia article online has confused the (extanct) R. sondaicus with the (extinct) subspecies Rhinoceros sondaicus sondaicus.
From 1965 Rhinoceros sondaicus was considered ‘extremely rare’ within the wild, then from 1986 to 1994 the species was classified as (endangered). Unfortunately from 1996 the species was again re-classified as (critically endangered) and now no fewer than sixty individuals remain within the wild. The last sighting of ‘a’ Javan rhino was I believe on the 18th September 2015 at exactly 17:46 hrs within the Ujung Kulon National Park.
Javan rhino’s did cover quite an extensive area ranging from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Viet Nam, and probably southern China through peninsular Malaya to Sumatra and Java. Sadly the species is now thought to be inhabiting the Ujung Kulon National Park which is located within Indonesia. Further non-viable (all male) and elderly populations are also claimed to be inhabiting a very small area of Viet Nam.
To date the species is now endemic only to Indonesia, however there are said to be few individuals ‘possibly’ remaining within Viet Nam too. I must stress though that there has been no official camera trap sightings or actual eyeball sightings of the species in as many years within Viet Nam of which its likely the species “may have gone extinct”.
Regional extinctions of the current sub-species have occurred within the following countries; Bangladesh; Cambodia; China; India; Lao People’s Democratic Republic; Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia); Myanmar and Thailand. Reports from the 18th September 2015 have also confirmed that the species has taken some ‘fifty years’ to double in size from (50) to now (60) individuals remaining.
From the middle of the nineteenth century the species was practically eradicated due to over-hunting, unregulated hunting, poaching, disease and habitat destruction. The last records of the Javan Rhinoceros within locations not listed above were from 1920 in Myanmar, to 1932 in Malaysia, and 1959 on Sumatra (Indonesia). Up to date records have proven further sightings this year and last year within Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park. The last “known” poached Javan Rhino (sub-species) was said to be from 2010-2011 which was that of the Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus species of which “complete extinction” was formally documented in relation to this specific sub-species of the Rhinoceros sondaicus.
The exact number of individuals noted within the wild is said to be in between 40-60 individuals however due to such small “fragmented locations” its quite difficult at times to know just how many do actually remain, hence the need for increased conservation projects, funding and anti poaching operations to increase. On a good note we know the species is reproducing, unfortunately on a bad note 40-60 individuals is considered near extinct and drastic measures need to be implemented sooner rather than later to preserve the remaining wild specimens.
The second “alleged” location and I stress alleged of the Rhinoceros sondaicus occurs in and around the Cat Loc part (Dong Nai province) of the Cat Tien National Park in Viet Nam, with maybe as few as six individuals remaining. Please do remember not to confuse the extinction of the Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus within the same country (Viet Nam) with the Rhinoceros sondaicus that’s considered still extant although possibly believed to be extinct within (Viet Nam). (I will be providing an update in relation to the alleged Cat Tien Javan Rhino R. sondaicus) via my main Facebook site and will correct amend this document accordingly.
Something I do find rather peculiar is that there are currently no Javan Rhinoceros within protective captivity. Records have stated that some twenty two individuals have been recorded within protective captivity though. I do find this rather strange as we have in zoological gardens around the world just about every other species of Rhinoceros to protect its current future for reintroduction back into the wild at a later date – yet the Javan Rhinoceros has literally been left to its own demise. I’ve yet to locate any real reasonable explanation as to why from the mid 1980’s some individuals were not removed from the wild and bred within protective captivity.
Image: Javan Rhinoceros information graph.
The Javan Rhinoceros currently occurs in lowland tropical rainforest areas, especially in the vicinity of water. The species formerly occurred in more open mixed forest and grassland and on high mountains. Because of its rarity, little is known about its preferred habitat, but it is certainly not naturally restricted to dense tropical forest water. Little is known about the species’ biology and the habitats in which the two remaining populations are found may not be optimal.
The home range size of females is probably no more than 500 ha, while males wonder over larger areas, with likely limited dispersal distance. The species is generally solitary, except for mating pairs and mothers with young. Its life history characteristics are not well known, with longevity estimated at about 30-40 years, gestation length of approximately 16 months (as with other rhino species), and age at sexual maturity estimated at 5-7 years for females and 10 years for males. -IUCN.
Unlike their African relatives the Javan Rhinoceros has a rather small single black horn (typical of Asiatic rhinos). The black market for rhino horns varies with species and price of current horn however it must be noted that the “rarer” the species the more value the horn will provide to the seller. Your average African Rhinoceros horn fetches in the region of $60,000 to $80,000 per kilogram on the black market. However the Asiatic Rhinoceros horn[s] can fetch over or even double this should the species be considered extremely rare.
On a recent visit to Viet Nam I was viewing more Asiatic antique Rhinoceros horn on the black market still selling at higher prices than African rhino horns, however not once did I locate any fresh African horns (2014). So again the need to drastically increase conservation actions, funding and anti poaching patrols is greatly needed. In my own opinion there seems to be way too much funding and awareness pushed into Africa with little progress being seen. Whereas in relation to the Asian Rhinoceros, funding and awareness identical to whats being witnessed in Africa is not even a fraction seen within Asia.
The cause of population decline is mainly attributable to the excessive demand for rhino horn and other products for Chinese and allied medicine systems. The bulk of the remaining population occurs as a single population within a national park and the population size in Ujung Kulon National Park is probably limited to the effective carrying capacity of the area (around 50 animals). One possible threat to this population is disease. In addition, such a small population faces a constant threat from poachers, although there is evidence that current poaching levels are under control. The Cat Loc population may be too small to be viable, and no breeding has been observed for many years, and it is possible that the animals are too old to breed. The population is so small that all the animals could be of the same sex.
While we have in the past month witnessed new Javan sightings and evidence of reproduction the Javan Rhino is by far nowhere near from danger. As explained above disease could wipe the entire fifty to sixty remaining individuals out. Furthermore while poaching levels are currently under control – it will only take a single individual or group of poachers to gather intelligence on the remaining populations thus exterminating the entire wild populations indefinitely.
My name is Dr Jose C. Depre, thank you reading and please be most kind to share and make aware the current plight of our Asiatic Rhinoceros.
Dr Jose C. Depre
Environmental and Botanical Scientist.
NB: Please note that while there have been “reported sightings” of the R. sondaicus in Viet Nam there is no up to date data that proves this species is still endemic to the country of Viet Nam.
Endangered Species Friday [Case Study]: Dusicyon australis
How the Fur Trade Pushed the Falkland Islands Wolf into Extinction.
This Friday’s Endangered Species watch Post (ESP) focuses on a species that was literally hunted into extinction. Daily I read comments about our wildlife or speak to animal lovers, activists or conservationists of which many show great concern in relation to legal hunting E.g (Cites permitted trophy hunting), or poaching E.g (non-permitted illegal hunting).
D. australis was identified back in 1792 as the (Falklands Wolf) by Dr Robert Kerr (1755 – 11 October 1813) was a scientific writer and translator from Scotland. Dr Kerr was born in Roxburghshire as the son of a jeweler. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh and practiced at the Edinburgh Foundling Hospital as a surgeon. He translated several scientific works into English, such as Antoine Lavoisier’s work of 1789, Traité Élémentaire de Chimie, published under the title Elements of Chemistry in a New Systematic Order containing All the Modern Discoveries, in 1790.
In 1792, Dr Kerr published The Animal Kingdom, the first two volumes of a four-tome translation of Professor Linnaeus’ Systema Naturae, which is often cited as the taxonomic authority for a great many species. (He never did the remaining two volumes.) What would Dr Kerr say now if he knew this magnificent creature he discovered has since been pushed into extinction via ‘legal hunting practices and deliberate persecution’?. Like few conservationists and philanthropist’s that I have spoken to whom have identified species of birds, frogs and new world primates their most common reaction is utter shock and frustration, although most were not surprised.
While Dr Kerr was the primary individual that named and listed the species, Capt. John Strong, a British Marine explorer was the very first person to discover the Falkland Island Wolf upon landing on the Falkland Islands back in the 1690’s. Based on historical and fossil records we know the species was living quite a peaceful and undisturbed life. Historical records also prove that Charles Darwin who was a naturalist and geologist whom visited the islands back in 1833 stated the Falkland’s Wolf was commonly seen. Its from this point back in the early 1800’s after Charles Darwin’s visit that the Falkland Wolf populations began to decline. Within approximately thirty years after Charles Darwin’s visit – the species then went extinct.
From 1833 to 1876 when active exploration’s and colonization’s began increasing the evidence pinpoints that humans were the primary cause for the species complete extinction. Had the Falkland’s not been colonized or disturbed by explorers and hunters its very likely the Falkland Islands Wolf would still be with us today. That is based on my own expert opinion and scientific studies that have proved islands with no human interference over eighty million years old up to the 1900’s the majority of non-colonized islands regardless of their size – all their natural wildlife discovered is still mostly intact. Take the island of Madagascar as an example!
The prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana separated the Madagascar-Antarctica-India landmass from the Africa-South America landmass around 135 million years ago. Madagascar later split from India about 88 million years ago, allowing plants and animals on the island to evolve in relative isolation. As a result of the island’s long isolation from neighboring continents, Madagascar is home to an abundance of plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth. Approximately 90 percent of all plant and animal species found in Madagascar are endemic. So we know that if left untouched both the Falkland island and Madagascar’s habitat and wildlife both flora and fauna lived undistributed.
While Madagascar’s history is a little different from the Falkland Islands the evidence is clear, that as soon as explorers, human colonies, immigrants and travelling settlers visited – the habitat became threatened just as the Falkland’s Wolf became extinct in under thirty years after Charles Darwin’s visit, 1833. Only 10 percent of Madagascar’s forests now remain. Also, recent estimates suggest that 1-2 percent of Madagascar’s remaining forests are destroyed each year, and that a staggering 80-90 percent of Madagascar’s land area burns each year. Ninety percent of Madagascar’s Lemurs are moving towards complete extinction – and why? from 700 CE – 1500 when immigrants, traders and explorers arrived – wildlife and habitat began to decline gargantuanly. However based on historical fur trade records a pattern has emerged – its concerning – its continuing – and if not banned its likely other animals will suffer due to the fur trade.
“Our ancestors are not to blame”
But lets not jump the gun here blaming our own ancestors for the primary decline of wildlife and destruction of habitat. As Charles Darwin explained in the 1830’s on visiting the Malvina the Falkland Wolf was still quite commonly seen. Just as Lemurs and forest remained intact on the island of Madagascar before humans arrived, history tells us though that our ancestors mostly respected the land and wildlife however, its from years of 1800 that wildlife and habitat began declining. The Falkland’s Wolf wasn’t killed off by our ancestors as such but more – US fur traders from the 1830s, and when Scottish settlers arrived in the 1860s began raising sheep on the Island, D. australis was poisoned as a pest species too.
Is it just a mere coincidence that the Falkland Islands Wolf went extinct as soon as the fur trade began booming from the 1600’s to the 1800’s dare I ask? commercial fur trade in North America grew out of the early contact between Indians and European fisherman who were netting cod on the Grand Banks off Newfoundland and on the Bay of Gaspé near Quebec. Indians would trade the pelts of small animals, such as mink, for knives and other iron-based products, or for textiles. Exchange at first was haphazard and it was only in the late sixteenth century, when the wearing of beaver hats became fashionable, that firms were established who dealt exclusively in furs. The trade then spread to America thus seeing United States citizens hunting the Falklands Wolf into extinction. So again I question is it correct to blame our ancestors whom colonized the Falkland Islands of which Darwin stated the wolf was still commonly seen from 1830, bur more blame Canadians, Americans and Europeans for the introduction of the fur trade? That’s the problem, not colonization or immigration but sheer commercialization of an animal trade and greed.
There are some other factors of course that relate to the Falkland’s Wolf extinction. The species natural prey which was rodents were in decline too. Due to the decline of certain prey specimens this unfortunately forced the wolf into now human populated agricultural lands, hunting sheep. The Falkland’s Wolf was then seen as a pest of which settlers, mainly farmers deliberately laid poisoned traps thus decreasing populations furthermore. Its believed that the decline in rodents was primarily due to humans protecting their farms and crops. None knows for sure the entire Falkland’s Wolf diet but – ground-nesting birds such as geese and penguins, grubs and insects, as well as seashore scavenging would most likely have been common prey and foraging behavior.
The Falkland’s Wolf was killed off by greed, legal hunting and the fur trade. Its quite sad to know that after Darwin’s notes were made public the species soon became extinct some thirty years later, had them notes not been publicized – the species could still be with extant. While we have certain protocols, laws and agreements in place such as the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (Cites), and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature – history is still repeating itself, so I do at the best of times question why we have such organisations in place to protect wildlife – when its “we humans” that should be taking the stand and protecting what is left on Planet Earth. While poaching remains a significantly large threat to many large fauna such as Lions, Elephants, Rhino and aquatic wildlife. The agricultural trade, indiscriminate hunting and habitat loss remains the number one threat to all species of flora and fauna.
So, how do we stop further extinctions and declines of wildlife? Well if you’ve read this entire article all the way through (the answer is in front of you).. You’ve just got to open your eyes, absorb the information and act on it.
Dr Jose C. Depre.
Environmental and Botanical Science.
Endangered Species Monday: Archaius tigris
This Mondays Endangered Species watch Post (ESP) I document on yet another African species of wildlife that hunting revenue is not helping to preserve. The Tiger Chameleon was identified back in 1820 by Dr Heinrich Kuhl (September 17, 1797 – September 14, 1821) was a German naturalist and zoologist. Kuhl was born in Hanau. He became assistant to Coenraad Jacob Temminck at the Leiden Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie. (Image: Credited to Henrick Bringsoe, A tigris).
In 1817 he published a monograph on bats, and in 1819 he published a survey of the parrots, Conspectus psittacorum. He also published the first monograph on the petrels, and a list of all the birds illustrated in Daubenton’s Planches Enluminées and with his friend Johan Coenraad van Hasselt (1797–1823) Beiträge zur Zoologie und vergleichenden Anatomie (“Contributions to Zoology and Comparative Anatomy”) that were published at Frankfurt-am-Main, 1820.
Commonly known as the Tiger Chameleon or Seychelles Tiger Chameleon the species is currently listed as [endangered] which is not uncommon as like many Chameleons within the Seychelles their range is shrinking by the year or being overrun by invasive botanical species.
Endemic to the Seychelles the species has been listed as endangered since 2006 of which populations trends are unknown. Much documentation often cites the species at “comparatively” low density, however one must not take this as factual until a true population count is seen. It has been alleged that for every [five hectares] there is possibly 2.07 individuals which isn’t good ‘if true’ since the island is only 455 km2.
From what we know the species remains undisturbed where there aren’t invasive Cinnamon trees identified as the Cinnamomum verum. However where C. verum is spreading the Tiger Chameleons habitat is under threat from this invasive plant. There is a negative correlation between Chameleon density and the presence of cinnamon, suggesting this invasion is detrimental to chameleon populations. Negative correlation is a relationship between two variables such that as the value of one variable increases, the other decreases.
The Tiger Chameleon’s main endemic range on the Seychelles islands is Mahé, Silhouette and Praslin. A historical record from Zanzibar (Tanzania) is erroneous. It occurs from sea level to 550 m asl, in areas of the islands that have either primary or secondary forest, or in the transformed landscape if there are trees and bushes present. Although they are currently estimated to have a restricted distribution on each island (following survey transects conducted by Dr Gerlach if anecdotal observations from transformed landscapes (e.g. degraded areas outside the areas surveyed) are valid, then the distribution would be larger than mapped at present.
To date the only [non-active] conservation actions that I am aware of are within the Vallee de Mai on Praslin which is currently not a protected national park. Fortunately the species is protected to some degree in the Morne Seychelles, Praslin and Silhouette National Parks. The primary threat within non-protected areas is as explained invasive Cinnamon which seems to be posing similar threats to both small reptilians, insects and birds on the islands and mainland Madagascar.
While the species has been in the past used as a trade animal it was alleged that there were no Cites quotes since 2000 – 2014. However from 1997 – 2013 a total of twelve live specimens were legally exported [despite the species threatened at risk status]. Cites allowed the twelve species to be exported for use within the pet trade which I myself find somewhat confusing. Two specimens were exported to Germany in 1981 with the remainder  sent to Spain. I am a little perplexed as to why these twelve specimens were legally exported, furthermore I have found no evidence or follow up data that would satisfy me in believing this export was even worthwhile for the species currently losing ground within their natural habitat.
From 1981 -2010 a further 98 dead specimens were legally exported for scientific zoological projects. Then in 1982 a single live specimen was legally exported with Cites permit for experimental purposes. While I cannot [again] locate any evidence or reason as to why this single specimen was exported alive – I must make it clear that Cites is sympathetic to Huntington Life Science’s and various other animal experimental laboratories. However this doesn’t prove that Cites has exported to anyone of these experimental research centers, it is merely my assumption.
Image: Archaius tigris
No other trade is reported out of the Seychelles, although re-export of specimens imported to Germany and Spain has been reported to Switzerland and South Africa, respectively (UNEP-WCMC 2014). This species is present and available in limited quantities in the European pet trade, and illegal trade and/or harvest may occur on a limited basis. ‘A’ report handed to myself from an [anonymous 2014] officer from the office of UNEP states that a population of some 2,000 specimens has been recorded  however there is yet again no census historical data to back these claims/report up. I again must point out that if its proven there are no fewer than [2,000 Tiger Chameleons] remaining in the wild and, Cites is allowing export then Cites is going to come under immense pressure from International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa because exporting live animals for pet trade at such ‘alleged’ depressed populations – is neither helping the species nor supportive of conservation practices.
The main threat is habitat degradation as a result of the invasion by alien plants species, especially Cinnamomum verum, principally on Mahé and Praslin. Cinnamon is displacing other vegetation, it is present all over the islands and it is the fastest growing, heaviest seeding plant in most areas and is changing the composition of the forests. Currently it makes up 70-90% of trees in Seychelles forests, reaching >95% in some areas. For Archaius tigris, the cinnamon trees provide a normal structure of vegetation, but the invaded forests support a massively diminished insect population, somewhere in the region of 1% of normal abundance. This excludes invasive ants which are the only common invertebrates associated with cinnamon.
In addition, the cinnamon produces a denser canopy than native trees, giving deeper shade which excludes forest floor undergrowth (other than cinnamon seedlings), and this also is a factor in the reduced insect abundance. The Chameleons are found on cinnamon and in cinnamon invaded areas, as long as there is a wide diversity of other plants and a dense undergrowth. In fact, rural gardens can provide habitat for the Chameleons, because these tend to be more diversity in terms of flora, and therefore can support invertebrate fauna.
Dr Jose C. Depre
Environmental and Botanical Scientist.
Endangered Species Friday: Diomedea amsterdamensis
This Friday’s (ESP) Endangered Species watch Post I dedicate to one of the most stunning and adorable of all plane like birds. Listed as [critically endangered] and identified back in 1983 by South African Dr Jean Paul Roux whom is a Marine Biologist studying Zoology, Systems Biology and Marine Biology at the University of Cape Town, South Africa Jean Paul Roux works full-time at the Department of Biological Sciences, Cape Town. (Image D. amsterdamensis fledglings)
Commonly identified as the Amsterdam Albatross or Amsterdam Island Albatross the species was listed as [critically endangered] back in 2012. This gorgeous bird is endemic to the French Southern Territories of which its populations are continuing to decline at a rapid pace. Populations were estimated at a mere 170 individuals which in turn ranks as the worlds most endangered species of bird. Out of the 170 individuals there are a total of 80 mature individuals consisting of 26 pairs that breed annually.
Between 2001-2007 there were a total of 24-31 breeding pairs annually, which leaves a slightly lower population count today of around 100 mature individuals. Back in 1998 scientists stated that there were no fewer than 50 mature individuals if that. The Amsterdam Albatross doesn’t naturally have a small population however qualified for the category of [critically endangered] due to this reason when identified in 1983. Furthermore pollution, habitat destruction and disease remain pivotal factors that’s decreasing populations furthermore. The video below from MidWay island explains a little more about pollution and birds of this caliber.
Its quite possible that there could be more unidentified groups within the local territory or elsewhere, unfortunately as yet there is no evidence to suggest the Amsterdam Albatross is located anywhere else, however there have been sightings, which do not necessarily count as the species being endemic to countries the bird may have been noted within.
The species breeds on the Plateau des Tourbières on Amsterdam Island (French Southern Territories) in the southern Indian Ocean. An increase of populations was documented via census back in 1984, a year after identification. Marine Biologists have stated that population sizes may have been more larger when its range was more extensive over the slopes of the island.
Meanwhile in South Africa satellite tracking data has indicated the Amsterdam Albatross ranges off the coast of Eastern South Africa to the South of Western Australia in non-breeding pairs. There have been some [possible] sightings over Australia through to New Zealand too. Meanwhile South Africa “may” have its first breeding pair this must not be taken as factual though. Back in 2013 a nature photographer photographed an Amsterdam Albatross off the Western Cape of South Africa which is the very first documented and confirmed sighting .
AN OCEAN OF GRIEF
Breeding is biennial (when successful) and is restricted to the central plateau of the island at 500-600 m, where only one breeding group is known. Pair-bonds are lifelong, and breeding begins in February. Most eggs are laid from late February to March, and chicks fledge in January to February the following year.
Immature birds begin to return to breeding colonies between four and seven years after fledging but do not begin to breed until they are nine years of age. The Amsterdam Albatross exact diet is unknown, but probably consists of fish, squid and crustaceans. During the breeding season, birds forage both around Amsterdam Island and up to 2,200 km away in subtropical waters which is something of interest. During the great Sardine Run many aquatic species consisting of birds, seals, sharks and whales hit the South African oceans hard for sardines. So I am calling on my fellow South African friends to please be on the lookout for this rather elusive bird.
Image: Amsterdam Albatross mating ritual, credited to Andrew Rouse.
Diomedea amsterdamensis, is quite a large albatross. When described in 1983, the species was thought by some researchers to be a sub-species of the wandering albatross, D. exulans. Bird Life International and the IOC recognize it as a species, James Clements does not, and the SACC has a proposal on the table to split the species. Please refer to the link above on Avian Biology which will explain more on the bird and its current classification.
More recently, mitchondrial DNA comparisons between the Amsterdam albatross, the wandering albatross Diomedea exulans, the Antipodean albatross D. antipodensis and the Tristan albatross D. dabbenena, provide clear genetic evidence that the Amsterdam albatross is a separate species.
Degradation of breeding sites by introduced cattle has decreased the species’s range and population across the island. Human disturbance is presumably also to blame. Introduced predators are a major threat, particularly feral cats. Interactions with longline fisheries around the island in the 1970s and early 1980s could also have contributed to a decline in the population.
Today the population is threatened primarily by the potential spread of diseases (avian cholera and Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae) that affect the Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross Thalassarche carteri population 3 km from the colony. Infection risks are very high and increased chick mortality over recent years suggests the population is already affected.
The foraging range of the species overlaps with longline fishing operations targeting tropical tuna species, so bycatch may also still be a threat, and a recent analysis has suggested that bycatch levels exceeding six individuals per year would be enough to cause a potentially irreversible population decline. Having a distribution on relatively low-lying islands, this species is potentially susceptible to climate change through sea-level rise and shifts in suitable climatic conditions. Plastic pollution has also been noted as problematic.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa and International Animal Rescue Foundation France are currently working on projects to reduce more plastic within bird habitat that has never been visited by the organisation before. The current plight of bird habitat and plastic pollution within the Pacific ocean needs to be worked on by everyone, furthermore addressed immediately.
To date all twenty two species within the four genera of Albatross are heavily threatened with extinction. There remains no species at present that is listed as [least concern]. The future is indeed very bleak for all 22 species and something we now need to work on and towards to preserve Albatross’s before extinction occurs within a decade for the vast majority of all twenty two species and sub-species.
Thank you for reading.
Please share to make aware the plight of this stunning bird and the remaining twenty two species too.
Dr Jose C. Depre.
A planet without birds is a world not worth living within anymore. Daily I am traumatized and deeply disturbed at viewing the destruction we have caused to these stunning animals and, their natural habitat. I am pained, deeply frustrated and infuriated at international retail companies whom preach good yet practice negligence killing off via plastic pollution our species of birds. Jose Depre