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Endangered Species Friday: Dyscophus antongilii

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Endangered Species Friday: Dyscophus antongilii

This Friday’s endangered species article I focus on yet another Africans frog that is listing near endangerment. In fact this frog species is so threatened should conservation actions not improve we’re likely to see extinctions occur within the next decade. (Please note: the image above depicts the frog in threatened state –  colors do differ)

Commonly known as the Tomato frog the species is one of three within the genus Dysophus. Scientifically identified as Dyscophus antongilii this particular genus is the only genus known to be at threatened status while the other two sub species are in fact listed as least concern.

Identified back in 1877 by Explorer Alfred Grandidier (20 December 1836 – 13 September 1921). Explorer Grandidier was a French naturalist and explorer. From a very wealthy family, at the age of 20, he and his brother, Ernest Grandidier (1833–1912), undertook a voyage around the world. At first they were led by the astronomer and physicist Pierre Jules César Janssen (1824–1907), but when Janssen fell sick and had to return to France after about six months, the brothers continued the journey.

They visited South America in 1858 and 1859 and in particular the Andes, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil. During this voyage they gathered a significant collection of specimens which were analyzed, in 1860, by Ernest.

Conservation actions did improve the species back in the late 1990’s of which the D. antongilii was then listed as vulnerable. Since this time though conservation actions have improved to some degree leading to the species to then be re-listed back in 2002 as (near threatened). Unfortunately due to this particular genus being only native to the Africans island of Madagascar where habitat fragmentation, destruction, urbanization, species/human displacement, slash and burn operations are increasing only reduces frog habitat furthermore. Main causes of declines though are trade and pollution of water bodies.

D. antongilii is known to be abundant, however populations of this particular genus are currently unknown on the island. Locals have stated D. antongilii is most commonly seen within the Maroansetra region on the island of Madagascar. Unfortunately when environmentalists undertook surveys and census counts within the area with regards to the locals knowledge of the species, it was found that populations are actually declining quite rapidly. One such problem that has been noted by International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa was the increasing tropical pet trade.

International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa and International Animal Rescue Foundation England located a broad range of pet suppliers within England and America. Despite D. antongilii classified as “near threatened” and in overall decline one can purchase this exact genus within the United States for as little as $29.99. Meanwhile within the counties of Manchester, Nottingham, London, Kent and Wales pet suppliers were trading for around £30.99.

On researching a pet supplier within the United States not only did we locate evidence of D. antongili on sale, other species of threatened and “endangered” animals were also on sale. A search of their Facebook social media page also aroused suspicions of which they have since closed down. Pet Solutions, Beavercreek based in Ohio can be located here: http://www.petsolutions.com/C/Live-Frogs/I/Tomato-Frog.aspx meanwhile their Twitter account can be viewed hereto: https://twitter.com/petsolutions

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Image: Tomato frog in normal relaxed mode shows their unique tomato coloring.

The species lives in primary rain-forest, coastal forest, secondary vegetation, degraded scrub, and highly disturbed urban areas. It is a very adaptable species, but possible declines in Maroansetra indicate that there might be a limit to the extent that it can persist in urbanized habitats. It appears to be localized to sandy ground near the coast, and breeds in ditches, flooded areas, swamps, and temporary and permanent still or very slowly flowing water.

Tomato frogs breed in February to March following heavy rainfall; the sounds of males calling to attract females can be heard around small water bodies in the dark Malagasy night. Following copulation, females will lay a clutch of 1,000 to 15,000 eggs on the surface of the water. Tadpoles hatch from these small black and white eggs about 36 hours later; they are only around six millimetres long and feed by filter-feeding. Tadpoles undergo metamorphosis into yellow juveniles and this stage is completed around 45 days after the eggs were laid.

Ambushing potential prey, adult tomato frogs feed on small invertebrates, such as beetles, mosquitoes, and flies. When threatened, these frogs can inflate themselves, giving the appearance of greater size.

Threats

Pollution of water-bodies is a potential threat, and in the past this species was subject to collection for international trade, although this is now largely under control and restricted. Despite trade allegedly being restricted – it seems this is not the case as International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa have located over 34 suppliers in the last week, many of which have ties back to Asia and Africa. International trade is indeed taking off again, and with a population in decline – international trade must cease immediately.

This colorful species is much in demand by herpetological hobbyists. Captive breeding, in addition to CITES listing, has effectively halted the trade in wild-caught specimens. However it must be noted that captive breeding cannot always be proven within the private industry, and scrutiny must always be used to conclude if any breeder is following the relevant procedures and laws in place.

Research into captive breeding techniques for the tomato frog has been carried out by Baltimore Zoo in the United States in an effort to boost the currently small and genetically deprived captive population that exists in that country.

A consortium of U.S. zoos that form the Madagascar Fauna Group (MFG) have established an exhibit at the Parc Zoologique Ivoloina, Madagascar in an attempt to help educate local people about this attractive member of their natural heritage. Very little is known about the tomato frog and further research into its distribution, behavior and potential threats is urgently needed before effective conservation measures can be put into place.

It is currently listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), but this move has been criticized by some authors as an ineffective strategy and one that has undermined the status of the unlisted D. guineti. Furthermore, research is needed to determine if D. antongilii is in fact a separate species or merely a variant of D. guineti.

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Thank you for reading and taking the time to educate yourself and others about this amazing reptile.

 

Dr Jose C. Depre

Chief Environmental Officer/ CEO 

Botanical and Environmental Scientist. 

 

 


World First: Endangered Orphaned Baby Tree Kangaroo Saved Through Cross Fostering

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Tree Kangaroo1World First: Endangered Orphaned Baby Tree Kangaroo Saved Through Cross Fostering

Endangered Species: in a veterinary world first, the Adelaide Zoo, Australia has successfully cross fostered an endangered orphan baby Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo with a surrogate yellow-footed Rock-Wallaby mother. The amazing part of this foster is that wallabies are ground dwelling animals but tree kangaroos are arboreal, which means they live in the tree tops.

The zoo had previously cross fostered wallabies with other wallabies with success, but had never attempted the technique to have a wallaby raise an endangered joey tree kangaroo. Usually, kangaroo joeys, whether ground dwellers or tree kangaroos, will usually ONLY drink from what is “their own” teat in the mother’s pouch, which can have more than one teat if the mother has an ‘at-foot joey’ as well. Living up in the foliage, tree kangaroos look like a cross between a kangaroo and a lemur.

The first 24 hours was critical to get the joey to latch onto the new wallaby’s treat. Buried deep in the wallaby’s pouch, tiny ripples of movement over the next days signaled the joey was still alive.


Endangered Species Monday – Procyon pygmaeus

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Endangered Species Monday – Procyon pygmaeus

This Monday’s endangered species article I write about a species that I have honestly never even heard of or had the pleasure of meeting. Listed as critically endangered, the species is commonly known as the Pygmy Raccoon or scientifically known as Procyon pygmaeus. (Image: Pygmy Raccoon) 

Identified back in 1901 by Dr Clinton Hart Merriam (December 5, 1855 – March 19, 1942), Dr Merriam was an American zoologist, ornithologist, entomologist, ethnographer, and naturalist. Known as “Hart” to his friends, Merriam was born in New York City in 1855. His father, Clinton Levi Merriam, was a U.S. congressman.

Dr Merriam studied biology and anatomy at Yale University and obtained an M.D. from the School of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in 1879. He taught for a while at Harvard University. Dr Merriam died in Berkeley, California in 1942. I have followed quite a lot of work relating back to Dr Merriam and must say Dr Merriam was one of very few experts of his type within the field of animal studies as we know it.

From 1996 the Pygmy Raccoon that’s known to the locals as the “Cozumel Raccoon” was listed as endangered back in 1996. Endemic to Mexico, Pygmy Raccoon’s are only known to inhabit the Cozumel region off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, hence the carnivores name – “Cozumel Raccoon”.

Recent census counts taking into consideration juveniles gives us an (estimated) population at a depressingly two hundred and fifty mature individuals. However fifty nine per cent of the population actually corresponds to mature individuals which is somewhat concerning, especially when we really need more younger juveniles to continue the gene pool and to ensure that overall protection of the species is to a degree somewhat safe should an outbreak of disease occur.

Taking all data – past – and – present census counts, NEAR exact population size of juveniles we’re still not looking at a high number of individuals however can state that overall population sizes are 192-567 individuals.  Due to low population densities, introduction of new species onto the island and the effects of mega-hurricanes this provides environmental scientists justification to place the species at (critically endangered level/criteria).

Due to continuing decline of population sizes with regards to increasingly destructive hurricanes, introduction of new species onto the island, extent of occurrence being in the region of some 500km2, less than five locations the species is known to inhabit on the island the Pygmy Raccoon thus meets the criteria for (endangered listing). Overall and taking both reports into account the species qualifies for critically endangered listing.

Exact location; Cozumel Island (478 km2) off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.

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Image: Mexico – Pygmy Raccoon. 

Back in 2004 a further census was undertaken by Mr McFadden that estimated a near total of some 954 mature individuals (including juveniles). However due to some pretty intense hurricanes and new taxa introduced to the island species populations are still taking a pretty fast downward spiral of which its populations are still noted as (declining).

Due to the species being severely impacted by hurricanes and already depressed populations from a variety of human threats make it increasingly difficult for populations to recover following natural disasters it quite likely were going to witness extinctions occurring very soon. After major hurricanes, the density of Pygmy Raccoon’s can decline at a particular site by as much as 60% and the proportion of juveniles in the population can diminish significantly. The impact of hurricanes may vary among regions or vegetation types on the island.

The species is not legally protected and there are no protected areas on Cozumel Island. Proposed conservation measures include protecting areas inhabited by this species, establishing captive breeding programs, and controlling introduced species. However even with these protective measures in place – we can already state local NGO’s and zoological gardens are expecting the species to be pushed into extinction within the wild due to the fact captive breeding programs are being thought up.

Relatively little is known about the group size of the Raccoon’s. They are primarily nocturnal and solitary animals, but may sometimes form family groups possibly consisting of the mother and cubs. The Raccoon’s live in densities of about 17-27 individuals per km2., and inhabit home ranges of around 67 hectares (170 acres) on average. However, individuals do not appear to defend territories to any great extent, and their close relative, the common raccoon, can exist at very high densities when food is abundant. Although there have been no detailed studies of their reproductive habits, females seem to give birth primarily between November and January, possibly with a second litter during the summer months.

Threats

While legally protected within Mexico threats are still increasing that do look set to push the species into complete wild extinction.

Cozumel Island has been substantially developed for tourism. Cozumel is still relatively well-conserved, with close to 90% of the island covered by natural vegetation, but the situation is deteriorating rapidly. The interior of the island is less developed, but Raccoon’s are rare or absent there. There is only a very small area of prime raccoon habitat and this is on the coast where most of the tourist development is taking place.

The expansion and widening of the road system is fragmenting the vegetation of the island in at least three areas. The widening of roads is potentially increasing their barrier effect and exacerbating their impact on the conservation of Pygmy Raccoon’s and other native species.

Most cases of Pygmy Raccoon mortality documented since 2001 have been the result of animals being run over by cars on the island’s highways. Alien invasive predators, such as Boa constrictor, as well as domestic and feral dogs, may have an important impact on the Pygmy Raccoon population and it is confirmed that feral dogs predate on them.

Additionally, introduced carnivores to the island could easily become a source of parasites and pathogens that could potentially affect negatively Pygmy Raccoon populations. The introduction of congeners from the mainland (P. lotor), usually for pets, is a risk of genetic introgression and a potential source of parasites and pathogens.

Hurricanes are the main natural threat recognized for the Cozumel biota. In the case of the Pygmy Raccoon, hurricanes cause drastic population decline, reduction in the proportion of juveniles, and cause injury and facilitate pathological change. The frequency, magnitude and duration of hurricanes in the Caribbean Basin is increasing (CITA), so they are an issue of major concern as there may be a synergistic effect with anthropogenic disturbance.
Hunting and collection of Pygmy Raccoons as pets is currently not an important threat.

Thank you for reading. 

Dr. J.C Depre 

Environmental and Botanical Scientist. CEO

 

 


Endangered Species Friday – Arborophila rufipectus

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Endangered Species Friday – Arborophila rufipectus

This Friday’s endangered species I document on yet another species of bird that’s sadly been added to International Animal Rescue Foundation’s Bird Watch Project. Scientifically identified as the Arborophila rufipectus and commonly known as the Sichuan Partridge the species is listed as endangered – nearing extinction. (Image adult Sichuan Partridge). Listed as a nationally-protected species in China. In 1998, it was recorded in Mabian Dafengding Nature Reserve, where there was estimated to be 192 km2 of potentially suitable habitat.

Identified by Dr Boulton in 1932 the species falls into the phasianidae family. A. rufipectus is restricted to its endemic range of China from which its known to inhabit the south-central Sichuan, China with some sketchy reports of the species documented within Yunnan.

Reporting from Singapore where one of five of our Asiatic Bird Watch Projects are situated, environmental teams stipulated from their visits into China within the past fourteen months, no current camera trappings of the species have been recorded within its native range, or ranges where past census’s have been undertaken.

Furthermore the team exhausted all other searches by widening the search covering a total of 2,100 km2. Observations were undertaken in key areas where it was deemed the Sichuan Partridge may be inhabiting taking into consideration food sources, areas of forest that hadn’t been logged while communicating to local hunters, poachers and, locals within the area.

Graduate Lee Won – International Animal Rescue Foundation’s Bird Watch Project CEO stated “We covered an area over the 1,700 km2 setting camera traps within Sichuan and Yannan (2014-2015). The traps were in place for exactly 14 months of which not one single individual or even a pair of Sichuan Partridges were recorded, which brings me and the team to the conclusion that its quite possible extinctions have already occurred, western environmental organisations have as yet to catch up on this data”.

Lee Won and the team that are working within extreme environments stated that vast deforestation is increasing within the birds natural environment of which enforcement and environmental protection remains to be seen. “If Chinese authorities and the Department of Forests and Environment do not protect the Yunnan forests there will be little flora or fauna remaining within this area by 2030″ Won stated. The situation is more than dire, its tragic Lee confirmed.

With populations still recorded as “decreasing” the last known census recorded from 1996-1997 recorded an “estimated” total of 806 to 1,772 mature individuals (final count stood at 1,500-3,749). So from Lee Won and his teams evaluations its quite possible that extinction has occurred of which evidence will be submitted in due course to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Dai bo (2007) stated that new sightings of the Sichuan Partridges have been recorded within Laojunshan Nature Reserve numbering around eighty four individuals, these sightings were recorded from 1998-2002. Kim Won’s Bird Watch Project will be making their way to the Laojunshan Nature Reserve in the next few weeks in the hope to locate any evidence of the birds present occupation within the area. Unfortunately we remain skeptical. As explained from 1996/7 population estimate is likely to be too low, hence it is best placed in the band 1,000-2,499 mature individuals. This equates to 1,500-3,749 individuals in total, rounded here to 1,500-4,000 individuals. (Source IUCN).

Males are territorial and monogamous. Males will stay away from the females before mating and during the incubation period. At all other times, males will roost alongside the females. While females are brooding on the ground, the males will sit near the ground for two weeks and then leave to roost elsewhere. The breeding season is late March while the hatching season is mid-May through mid-July. Once paired, males will guard females 24 hours a day.

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Image: Sichuan Partridge fledgling. 

When it comes to the general breeding and habitat locations for the partridge, it prefers more local areas far from direct disturbances from human contact. Males have three types of one-syllable call, which are a crowing call, courtship call, and preserving territory call. The syllable duration is significantly different between calls, but the difference of main peak frequency was not significantly different. The vocal behaviors will benefit to preserve mates and avoid the predator pressure so the population could last longer.

The Sichuan partridge lives mostly in southern Sichuan Province, in south-west China. It prefers primary and older planted secondary broadleaf forests, rather than one with human activity close by. Prefers a dense canopy and more open understory. The major habitats (in ranking order) are Primary Broadleaf Forest, old replanted Broadleaf Forest, Degraded Forest, and scrub. It prefers thick shrubs for roosting.

Recent work on the species in Laojunshan Nature Reserve found that the species occurred in secondary broadleaf forest but not in settlements, coniferous plantations or farmland [please note there remains no date regarding recent work]. The same study found that birds typically occurred between 1400 and 1800m above sea level in the reserve, and mostly on gently sloping ground close to water sources. [undated with citation required].

Major Threats

Until recently the main threat was habitat destruction through commercial clear-felling of primary forest, as most remaining primary broadleaved forest within its known range was at risk from logging within 20-25 years. In 1998, a government-imposed ban on logging in the upper Yangtze Basin led to a complete halt in deforestation throughout its range.

There is now a major forest plantation scheme in operation aiming to re-forest ridges and steeper slopes. In general though, habitat is still declining. In some areas, forest is still being cleared for agriculture or illegally logged, although this has been “alleged to be on a small scale”. Many people enter the forest to collect bamboo shoots, firewood and medicinal plants in spring and early autumn, which creates substantial disturbance during the breeding season, and additional disturbance is caused by livestock either grazing in, or moving through, the forest.

The species is also illegally hunted. Hydroelectric schemes and the resulting reservoirs in the valleys below its mountain forest habitat cause indirect future threats as the people they displace will be moved to higher locations in close proximity to the remaining forest, putting it under increased pressure.

Further assessments on the species and other endemic species will continue through to next year. I hope to update you on my teams current goals and objectives.

Thank you for reading. 

Dr Jose C. Depre. 

www.speakupforthevoiceless.org 

Please support the organisation Say No To Dog Meat this Malbok Festival from July to August 2015

 

 


Bok Nal: Dog Eating Days – South Korea.

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July – August Malbok Festival 

South Korea which is located in the southern half of the Korean Peninsular of east Asia will this July to early August host its annual dog meat-eating festival commonly known as “Bok Day”, “Bok Days” or the Malbok Festival. The festival normally begins on the 13th July or 21st July, and runs into early August which is considered the hottest days of the year within the country.

General description: 

The event is hosted on the first “Cho Bok” first summer continuing through to “Joong Bok”, mid-summer, on the 28th, and “Mal Bok”, end of summer, on August 7th, lasting 21 days. It’s during this event that South Korean dog and cat meat markets will begin a mass slaughter of dogs and cats. One particularly commonly killed dog is the “Noo-rung-yee” or commonly known as the “Nureongi” a yellowish traditional dog breed that has been bred to specifications over time within East Asia. There are various terms used for this festival which I’ve included within the entire article for your information and research.

To date, and like the Yulin festival there remains no factual estimates from governmental research or observation counts to place an exact number to how many dogs or cats are killed during the twenty-one day event. Some critics have placed the number of “dogs” killed during the entire “Bok Day – dog meat-eating days” at some one million dogs killed during this cruel and barbaric festival. Meanwhile other organisations and critics have placed the number at a much reduced count at some 15,000 during the Malbok Festival.

Sambok (삼복), also known as Boknal (복날), or the dog days of summer, covers a month of time at the peak of the growing season and traditional time that to some South Koreans is classified as a traditional time to cool off and extract some medicinal healing powers from the consumption of dog meat. In reality there still remains no proof or medical evidence that supports the East Asian pet meat consuming beliefs that such meats increase human health.

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Image: No mercy for cats either at the Malbok Festival. 

The most commonly consumed dish during the South Korean Malbok festival is that of peppery dog meat soup (quite a commonly consumed dish that we have noted within western Africa and central Africa). During the festival dogs will be seen roasted and served on a spit, and prepared in stews too. However as explained the most commonly sought after dish is that of peppery dog meat soup known as (bosintang or gaejang-guk) a dish that is steeped in history dating back thousands of years, and is now commonly consumed throughout western, central and northern Africa.

International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa has uncovered in the years of intensive bush and pet meat trade research Asian construction workers bringing the dish and recipes into the African continent. The environmental companies most shocking report that has yet to be released will finally prove that south Africa has more than its fair share of dog meat traders with illegal “404” joints too.

Bosintang aka gaejang-guk: 

Bosintang or “dog meat cuisine” as the dish is commonly known remains part of the traditional south Korean dish. Research on the north Korean pet meat trade also indicates bosintang to be a commonly consumed soup eaten throughout the year. furthermore within the “404 restaurants of Lagos, Abuja and Jos in Nigeria the exact same dish is consumed by locals commonly with very potent gin”.

In reports last month and last year I.A.R.F.A and Say No To Dog Meat have unearthed very concerning data regarding dog meat and gin trade of which has seen countless scores of people dropping dead like flies. International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa and Say No To Dog Meat also uncovered hard and firm evidence that migrant workers from south Korea, China and Viet Nam had introduced the dish of gaejang-guk into the plateau states.

The main primary ingredient of Bosintang or – Gaejangguk (개장국, -醬-) – as its more commonly known in south Korea is dog meat. Dog meat is boiled with a range of aromatic and fresh vegetables with herbs such as chamomile and dandelion added to the dish. (Its believed by some tourists and locals the inclusion of these scented herbs is to remove the strong pungent, and at times nauseating aroma of stewed dog. Doenjang (된장), Gochujang (고추장), and perilla seed powder are also known to be included within this rather unsavory dish.

Bosintang has quite an extensive history within south Korean traditional food. Dating as far back to the 4th century ((AD) After the Death of Christ). We know this because of evidence that was located on the wall painting in the Goguryeo tombs complex in South Hwanghae Province, a UNESCO World Heritage site which dates from 4th century AD, depicts a slaughtered dog in a storehouse (Ahn, 2000). (Please refer to the UNESCO World Heritage site for further information).

The Balhae people also enjoyed dog meat, and the Koreans’ appetite for canine cuisine seems to have come from that era. So in all fairness it’s quite possible the Malbok festival or a similar festival will also be hosted within north Korea too. If this is true then the vast number of dogs killed and consumed for meat will heavily exceed all kill and consume estimates from organisations and animal rights individuals. Unfortunately as we’re unable to freely travel into north Korea to document on this case we’ll never know the full truth. Please do stay tuned though.

During the first day of the Malbok festival (BOK – the first day that consumers are encouraged to dine on the traditional soup or stews), other types of dishes will be on the menu – something that the Australian organisation (Say No To Dog Meat.Net) are currently demanding to be removed off the menu within south Korea.

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Image: “Nureongi” a traditional dog breed commonly killed for meat within Asia.

These dishes include:

  • Bosintang (보신탕; 補身湯); Gaejangguk (개장국)) – Stew containing boiled dog meat and vegetables.
  • Gaegogi Jeongol (개고기 전골) – An elaborate dog stew made in a large Jeongol pan.
  • Gae Suyuk (개 수육; 개水肉)– Boiled dog meat
  • Gaegogi Muchim (개고기 무침) – Steamed dog meat, Korean leeks (부추), and vegetables mixed with spices
  • Gaesoju (개소주; 개燒酒) – Mixed drink containing dog meat and other Chinese medicine ingredients such as ginger, chestnut, and jujube to invigorate one’s health.

~ Source Wiki

While all dishes are considered grotesque, probably the most vile and repulsive of them all is that of the Gaesoju (개소주; 개燒酒). When I say vile I truly mean “vile and utterly bloody disgusting”. There remains some mystery as to what is included within this trinket of liquid dog meat although the very basic ingredients are known. Research from universities in Maine and California have located liquefied dog meat being the primary ingredient, intestines (not normally used in this liqueur type drink), traces of dog hair, teeth, herbs, spices, blood, beef and an entire textbook of virus’s, diseases and, toxins that would normally harm the non-pet-meat consumer.

Both Maine and California scientists confirmed that no medicinal properties were located in either samples or synthetic medications that could give the illusion such a tonic increases libido, lowers blood pressure, wards of evil spirits, prevents miscarriages and, acts as a bodily coolant. However as the tonic, stew and soup are consumed with “liquid” the liquid itself I.e common water helps by decreasing dehydration which in turn helps to cool the body down.

Has the common old aged belief which states “soup” can help decrease dehydration, and helps to reduce cold like symptoms been taken a little to far within in traditional Asian food and medicine culture? It’s possible and what’s more as soup contains liquid I.e water it does indeed help cool the body and relieve some cold like symptoms which is a proven scientific fact.

Cuisine Row and Moran Market: 

Cuisine Row – commonly referred to by international tourists as the “Postcard Row” is located behind the local Seoul City Hall which is an area where many dog meat restaurants trade during the Malbok festival. It’s wrong for anyone to state that the festival is confined just to Moran Meat Market as the festival is a common country event gathering that thousands of people attend during the first Cho Bok (first summer) of the Malbok festival.

Back in 2014 one of Seoul’s most “infamous” yet liked restaurants within the “Cuisine Row” closed its doors to trade. Daegyo, an acclaimed Seoul restaurant that had been serving dog meat since 1981, doled out its last serving of boshintang, or dog stew in the first week of September 2014. Daegyo’s owner stated she used to serve over “700 bowls of dog meat stew a day”. Should that figure be correct, and taking into account the entire number of markets and restaurants followed up by the Malbok festival its quite likely the number of dogs (excluding cats) killed within south Korea alone could hit one to two million every month. However and as frustrating as it is statistics on the number of dogs and cats killed within the month-long Malbok festival is still sketchy to say the least.

However lets not all think negative and become emotional. Daegyo’s closed for a reason which in the owners own words “There are no young customers,” she said. To cater to the changing times, Keum-il plans to reopen the restaurant as a Korean beef barbecue diner.

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Image: Laws prohibit companion dogs viewing friends killed for the plate in south Korea.

Cuisine Row is quite a sprawling shopping district situated behind City Hall that hosts many restaurants with live and dead meat markets. The most commonly seen shops and stalls are dog and cat meat vendors, however since our last visit to the country many of these restaurants and markets have shut up shop and, like Keum-il has confirmed – reopened as a non-dog or cat meat trading company.

Seongnam Moran Market: 

Seongnam Moran Market is often called “Moran Meat Market” due to its unhealthy sales of dogs, cats, chickens, goats and just about any other animal you could possibly think of. However it must be noted Moran Market doesn’t just sell meat or live animals. Vegetables, clothing and more or less the same products you purchase at home in your country are also on sale within the countries largest bustling market hence its true name “Seongnam Moran Market” and not “Moran Meat Market”. The market is located within Seoul and has been notoriously described as hell on Earth by activists and tourists.

Seongnam Moran Market is located within the Gyeinggi-do-province which is south Korea’s largest “five-day” open market. The market is known by the locals as a farmers market which is where we now bring the horrors of Bok Nal to you. Strangely the days ending in “4 and 9″ is when you’ll witness more street vendors within the markets bargaining and selling anything from dogs, cats, haberdashery to clothing too.

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Image: Moran Market is known to be the largest supplier of dogs in the country. 

As you venture into the center of the market the stench truly is gut churning. Dogs and cats can be witnessed in small cramped cages most of them still wearing identification collars. Many of the dogs and cats suffer from a wide range of illnesses, parasites and diseases “unfit for human consumption” of which are still beaten, killed then sold to the unsuspecting locals.

On visiting the market few years back I counted on average around twenty-three stalls that sold “just dog and cat meat” or live dogs and cats. Many of the stalls host their own unhygienic butchery of which there is no refrigeration, chilling cabinets or freezers to slow down food decomposition. One of my major concerns was fact that both “live animals, raw and cooked meats were laying next to one another. Within the western world this would be considered a food hygiene nightmare forcing the local food inspectors to close such entities down immediately. Selling diseased animals next to raw, cooked and under-cooked meat is tantamount to murder or common assault.

Purchasing any animal, raw or under-cooked meat is not only dicing with death but also spreads diseases and virus onto other people which is probably why we now have quite an extensive increase of Avian Flu and now MERS outbreaks within dog meat-eating zones and states of America and Europe where dogs have been rescued and flown out of South Korea. Dogs but not cats can host Avian Flu. To date there is no proof that rescued dogs from south Korea brought back into the states of America have spread Avian Influenza.

Moran Market is known as the largest supplier of dog and cat meat within South Korea. When the Bok Nal festival kicks off there is within the region an estimated (100,000) dogs and cats killed within the first few days alone. However please remember this is based on estimated figures that do not present any proof that such number is factual.

A member of the public whom was investigating the market stated “cages and cages stuffed with chickens, roosters, black goats (extracts and soups), bunnies, kittens (medicinal extracts, stews, and soups) and the crush of so-called “meat” or yellow dogs (Nureongi), ubiquitous, crammed together, in obscenely filthy cages”. Sadly this is common within Moran Market and something that the Australian organisation “Say No To Dog Meat” are taking seriously.

The law:

Despite laws that have been drafted into place to halt such abuse, dog and cat meat traders will this July into early August beat, blowtorch, hang and inhumanely kill countless dogs and cats. Back in 2007 the south Korean government made history by making “An act of killing in a cruel way such as hanging” and “an act of killing in an open area such as on the street or in front of other animals of the same kind watching” are explicitly prohibited until Article 7 (1) of the Animal Protection Act of 2007. Unfortunately the laws apply to abuse rather than prohibiting the trade full stop.

However sadly, dogs and cats are brutally beaten in front of their companion friends (a violation of APA 2007), electrocuted (a violation of the APA 2007), hung from rafters in the markets alive (a violation of the APA 2007) and, furthermore street vendors continue to kill in open spaces as well within the center of the market (a violation of the APA 2007 Act) – excluding the center market place).

Updates to the policy from 2008 can be briefly read below. The policy is believed to have been brought into practice back in 1991

Animals under protection should be free from the following (Article 3 Animal Protection);

  • Hunger and thirst.
  • Able to express natural behavior.
  • Free from pain and disease.
  • Free from fear and stress.
  • Animal Welfare Act Plan should be updated every 5 years and local governments shall cooperate with the central government.

The Animal Welfare Act Plan includes the following:

  • Basic policies on animal welfare and prevention of animal abuse.
  • Management of lost and abandoned animals.
  • Policy on Animal Experiment Ethics Committee.
  • Policy on farm animal welfare.

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Image: Puppies are sold for slaughter within Moran Market – A violation of the APA.

Interestingly and despite just about every rule in the book being violated come this July’s Bok Nal festival under Article (19 Animal Protection Warden) the government or any organisation must provide an experienced and duel qualified warden to walk the market places and “non-Moran Market” zones to ensure that the Animal Protection Act 2007 is being enforced.

The following legislature states:

The Minister of Food, Agriculture, Foresting and Fisheries, Mayor or Governor and Mayor or County Magistrate must appoint an animal protection warden in order to manage the work related to animal protection. The Minister of Food, Agriculture, Foresting and Fisheries, Mayor or Governor and Mayor or County Magistrate can appoint a person recommended by a private organization approved by presidential decree, or a person who is well learned and experienced in animal protection, as the animal protection warden for the monitoring of animal abuse and rescue and protection of abused animals.

The Animal Protection Act was allegedly brought into practice back in 1991 however is more aimed at the “slaughtering of animals” rather than the upkeep, care and abuse in general. Say No To Dog Meat.Net are lobbying the south Korean government to amend the current legislation to include more rights and welfare for animals. Say No To Dog Meat.Nets petition can be seen below that holds over 150,000 signatures. Please click on the image link and help the organisation by placing your signature to the petition that will eventually be handed direct to the south Korean president and Mayor of Seoul.

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Image: Click the image above and help Say No To Dog Meat.Net end this torturous trade. 

Statistics: 

As explained in many past and present articles there remains no “factual” governmental statistics that can prove how many dogs and cats are killed “year round” within south Korea and, no real data to prove how many dogs and cats have been killed during the Bok Nal festival past and present. Without these statistics organisations such as Say No To Dog Meat must then rely on visual reports from the ground, interviews with traders and restaurant owners.

It would be deemed as grossly unprofessional for any organisation or individual to place any number into the domain without proof then ask for public donations. Instead bringing the trade and abuse into the limelight is considered more of a realist approach in the hope it will eventually bring the government to its feet to ban the trade or implement tough legislation to prosecute traders whom violate the laws already set out. Below are (estimates) and must not be taken as a proven or accurate statement.

The following data below derives from actual traders on the ground that have been interviewed during and after the Bok Nal festival. Included beneath is the average price of dogs and price for slaughter.

Estimated statistics on consumption and ownership: 

  1. Trader 1 – Dog and cat meat restaurants number around 500-600 in Seoul alone.
  2. Trader 2 – During the last summer festival “estimates” of some 5 to 6 million dog meat dishes were sold during the twenty-one day event.
  3. Trader 3 – According to the Korean Kennel Foundation it’s believed that some 3.5 to 5.0 million dogs are kept as companion pets nationwide.

Estimated south Korean dog price and slaughter info: 

  1. Gyeongdong Market in central Seoul – trader 1 states that the average price of slaughter/preparation/cooking and bagging is around 150,000 won.
  2. The current starting price for one dog comes in at 120,000 won and can exceed 190,000 won to 200,000 won stated trader 2.
  3. Separate pieces of dog meat are usually sold by weight, 5,000 won per geun (1.3 pounds/0.6 kilograms) explained trader 3.
  4. Another commonly served dish is sliced dog meat. A whole dog usually costs around 300,000 won in restaurants trader 4 stated.
  5. Gyeongseong Oriental Medicine Clinic, located near the market ask 350,000 won for a month’s worth of gaesoju; they charge half that if the customer provides the dog. Customers have to pay 20,000 won extra for slaughtering.

~ Source JoongAng Daily.

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Image: Gyeongdong Market in central Seoul.

Changing Times: 

While the trade in dog and cat meat continues times are in fact changing despite some organisations stating the trade is out of control to the point it cannot be controlled. Say No To Dog Meat, In Defense of Animals, Humane Society, Soi Dog and countless other organisations are all working towards providing dog meat traders with a more sustainable and healthier trade. Say No To Dog Meat’s mission for example is not just about “banning the trade”. One must remember this is indeed a trade and taking away people’s livelihoods despite the fact the western world sees such trades as cruel – will only increase unemployment, poverty and crime.

The board of directors have since founded, already devised a strong and trusted plan supported by over fifty thousand people and counting. Your donation can make a difference by providing traders and farmers with land and equipment to create a more attractive, non-abusive and a prosperous future ahead instead of using any donation to purchase dogs or cats from traders which only increases the circle of abuse.

saynotodogmeatcebu

Image: Cebu, Philippines young activists aligned with the Say No To Dog Meat.Net organisation make their voice heard this past April 4th 2015 for S.N.T.D.M’s mass global anti pet meat trade demonstrations. The event hit Asia by storm supported by countless organisations and animal loving individuals. Say No To Dog Meat.Net rolled its youth education program out last year and has already seen a massive response from the young Asian community. Cebu children sent a message via Say No To Dog Meat to the pet meat-eating community – Please click the link above to view that message on Facebook. To join the Youth Club please contact: contact@saynotodogmeat.info today. 

Creating fruit farms, vegetable farms, cotton farms, is one of many options already implemented by some organisations and the organisation Say No To Dog Meat. Establishment of pet rescue clinics has already been on the Say No To Dog Meat agenda of which removes dogs and cats from the streets, treating and, re-homing to trusted and caring families locally and internationally.

Many young people from all over Asia have already joined the Say No To Dog Meat mission and to date are lobbying with the organisation to bring this trade to an end while creating education and awareness to the many younger generations. Spreading the word among the young is pivotal and, has already proven to be a positive step for the Say No To Dog Meat organisation and mission objectives.

Say No To Dog Meat.Net: 

Say No To Dog Meat.Net was established back in 2012 and founded in 2013. The organisation’s team are tackling traders within south Korea; Viet Nam; Cambodia; Thailand; Philippines; Nigeria; Ghana; Liberia and, Niger. Since founded Michele Brown, myself (Jose Depre), Donna Armes and our sister organisation have begun intensive lobbying of south Korean ministers, south Korean President, and the mayor of Seoul.

Say No To Dog Meat which is not related to the British charity (No To Dog Meat) also hosts petitions for each country they are actively working to end the trade within. South Korea being the most prominent of which the Aussie organisations petition holds over 150,159 signatures. The organisation requires at least a million signatures that will form part of the #Operationunite project bringing activists together to end this barbaric trade once and for all while offering dog and meat traders a way out of their traditional trade and, into a trade that is more profitable and all-round healthy.

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Image: Stray dog looks on in sadness as friends are killed in front if him. 

You can help Say No To Dog Meat.Net below:

  • Sign the petition calling on the South Korean Government to take dog and cat meat of the menu.
  • Get involved this September that will see many individuals lobbying for change this Embassy Day. South Korean embassy will be one of many embassies that the organisation will be pursuing for change.
  • Encourage the younger generation to become involved. Say No To Dog Meat are currently seeking all young animal lovers to draw or paint their thoughts and, send in a small written message addressed to the South Korean government with an image of their hand with the words “I Say No To Dog Meat” on. (Watch the page for new updates)
  • Host an awareness and education day this July in your city or begin planning for an adult/youth awareness and education day for Say No To Dog Meat’s #OperationUnite 2016 events.
  • Donate. Say No To Dog Meat.Net cannot tackle the dog meat traders or farmers without your donation. (Please note: Say No To Dog Meat.Net “does not accept donations via cell phone devices”. All donations can be made via direct online transactions “safe and secure” or you can donate to the Say No To Dog Meat’s Environmental Companies F.A.A.W.S bank account on Pay Pal. Simply input this address – info@international-animalrescue-foundation.org.uk and add the amount. You’ll receive like the SNTDM organisation will an electronic receipt, and you’ll be entered into the organisations free news letter subscription service.

For further information please contact the organisation hereto: contact@saynotodogmeat.info

Thank you for reading.

Dr Jose C. Depre

Chief Environmental Officer and CEO.

info@international-animalrescue-foundation.org.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Endangered Species Monday – Axis calamianensis

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Endangered Species Monday – Axis calamianensis

This Mondays endangered species article we take a brief look into the secretive and rather elusive life of the Calamian Hog deer scientifically identified as – Axis calamianensis the species is also commonly known as the Calamanian Deer, Calamian Deer, Calamian Hog Deer or the Philippine Deer.

(Pictured above: Calamian Hog stag)

A. calamianensis was formally identified back in 1888 by Dr Pierre Marie Heude (1836–1902) was a French Jesuit missionary and zoologist. Born at Fougères in the Department of Ille-et-Vilaine, Heude became a Jesuit in 1856 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1867. He went to China in 1868. During the following years, he devoted all his time and energy to the studies of the natural history of Eastern Asia, traveling widely in China and other parts of Eastern Asia.

From 1986 – 1990 A. calamianensis was listed back then as vulnerable however, since this time much has changed regarding the species habitat, and way of living. From 1994 Dr Groombridge identified the need to re-list the species as (endangered) of which a further evaluation after a more in-depth census was concluded (1996) showed the species to be verging near extinction. The last “population census” undertaken in 1996 confirmed the species was still endangered, which led to evasive and aggressive conservation projects to be put into action to preserve the species.

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Image: Calamian stag a little uneasy on his feet

Endemic to the Philippines the species is restricted to the Calamian Islands in the Palawan faunal region. The species occurs on three of the four larger islands of Calamians, i.e. Busuanga, Calauit and Culion. Sketchy reports have suggested the species also occurred on at least nine other related islands too however, little evidence backs these claims up.

Reports have confirmed that localized extinctions have occurred in some (78%) of these islands; (Bacbac, Capari, Panlaitan, Galoc, Apo, Alava and Dicabaito), and to survive on only two of these islands, namely Marily and Dimaquiat. A. calamianensis is not known to occur anywhere else from outside of its now fragmented ranges.

Commonly viewed within most of its native range back in the middle 1940’s population sizes have seriously diminished since the late 1990’s. While many drastic declines were seen throughout the 1990’s one area that didn’t see population declines was that of the extreme south of Culion, by the mid-1970s.

By the time the Calauit Island Game Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary was created, in some way to preserve species populations, conservation actions were already to late of which populations had declined quite rapidly. Reports placed the population size from 1,900 “individuals” which equated to around 250 “mature individuals (if that).

Recent surveys from 2006 showed quite drastic declines of which hunting was yet again the main primary cause for the species nearing extinction (many hunters try to defend and debate this – yet the evidence is there in black and white for them all to view). Despite a negative outlook from the last “official” 2006 census populations were still said to be quite widespread in Calauit, Busuanga and Culion.  The 2006 census conducted by environmentalists, Rico and Oliver also confirmed the species populations were quite dense on the islands of Marily and Dimaquiat.

The overall reports into present population sizes though is not good, and its with sad regret to report that populations are continuing to decline at a very rapid rate, despite the species coming under some protective plans there really is no real “protection or even law implemented into action” to protect this species for future generations to come. Listed on the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (Cites) Appendix I localized hunting for food continues to place the entire species in “great danger of nearing extinction” within the next five to seven years. However I must state that “should” extinctions occur in the wild, captive breeding programs are already in place in the hope to later reintroduce the species into a newer, and safer habitat.

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Image: Doe and Stag

Current plans to preserve species are that of protective breeding programs for later reintroduction back into the wild. San Diego Zoological Gardens currently hosts some fifty four (54) inhabitants successfully bred within the zoo and managed well.

Threats

Currently research has proven the local people to hunt the species for food and use within dress and musical instrument production. Hunters within the species endemic island ranges are known to hunt the species for its antlers for use within the home as a decorative piece. Antlers are prized among the locals.

The species is threatened due to hunting pressure and human settlement and agricultural expansion over its very limited range, coupled by the evident lack of effective and sustained enforcement of the strong local protective legislation.

Hunting was particularly severe during the mid-1970s, but seemingly declined in most areas during the 1980’ and 1990’s, except on Calauit where hunting pressure increased dramatically following the resettlement of the island by former residents under the auspices of the ‘Balik (Back to) Calauit Movement’. In 1986, 51 out of the 256 families evicted from the island ten years earlier had re-settled on the island, and by 1992 the settlers numbered nearly 500 people.

Much of the hunting of the species is recreational, and also to provide venison to the local markets. On Calauit, introduced African ungulate populations are increasing but are probably not competing with Calamian deer. A presidential proclamation that precluded removal or control of exotic species, and the movement or management of Calamian deer on Calauit Island was recently amended, thereby also potentially enabling the better future control of the exotic ungulate populations, though in fact many of these populations have also been seriously reduced by poaching.

While relatively large parts of Busuanga and Culion Islands are still undeveloped and sparsely inhabited, there are no proper reserves on either.
The following conservation actions are in place or still under amendment:

1. Monitor current status on all the three islands and determine population trends. Evaluate levels of hunting and habitat loss.

2. Strengthen existing protected area system via establishment of new (additional) reserves and development and implementation of properly structured conservation management plan for Calauit that includes improved infrastructure, and measures to combat poaching.

3. Agree and establish a zoning system within Calauit in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, which enforces strict protection of the core area.

4. Establish protected areas on Culion and Busuanga, based on habitat and deer status surveys.
5. Undertake behavioral and ecological research of Calauit deer to determine management requirements. Conduct
more detailed studies in selected areas.

6. Initiate a conservation education program using Calamian deer as a flagship species to promote a wide variety of related conservation activities, including combating the bush meat trade.

Unfortunately due to the species being so rare there remains very little video data on the animal. Below and included for your information depicts a captive breeding program, and not a public zoological garden. Captive breeding programs in most cases forbid the public from entry. Children can be heard in the background however we must note, protective breeding programs are out of public site. Images above include other species of red and velvet deer too. As explained due to such rarity of this animal obtaining any real positive data of the animal has proved at the best of times difficult. Please contact myself below for further information or questions.

 

Thank you for reading

 

Dr Jose C. Depre.

info@international-animalrescue-foundation.org.uk

 


Endangered Species Friday – Arctocephalus galapagoensis

Galpagos fur seal pup

Endangered Species Friday – Arctocephalus galapagoensis

This Fridays endangered species article we take a brief look into the life of the Galapagos Fur Seal, scientifically identified as Arctocephalus galapagoensis, and identified back in 1904 by marine biologist Dr Heller. Listed as endangered the species is endemic to Ecuador, and the Pacific South East. Pictured above is one of many declining colonies of the Galapagos Fur Seal Pups (credited to Stephanie Brand) from Arizona, United States.

Back in 1982 the species was officially declared “out of danger” however from 2010 reports soon came flocking in that the Galapagos Fur Seal was again listing back into its old threatened status. From 1996 evaluations of the species saw A. galapagoensis relisted as (vulnerable).

Further opinionated evaluations by marine biologists Baillie and Groombridge confirmed the species was sadly nearing the realms of endangerment (1996). Census’s of A. galapagoensis (2010) have unfortunately relisted the species as now (endangered). A final evaluation of species populations now confirms populations are declining, very rapidly.

Back in 1978 environmentalists conducted a marine census of the species that placed the population size at some 30,000 to 40,000 individuals. El Niño which is the warm phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (commonly called ENSO) and is associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific (between approximately the International Date Line and 120°W), including off the Pacific coast of South America, has been blamed for high mortality rates of seal pups.

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Image: Galapagos Fur Seal

Population sizes have been said to be (fluctuating) since the last in-depth populastion report on the species back in the mid to late nineteen seventies.  Recovery since this time is currently unknown, however reports from 2010 can be viewed here that do provide further although little information on recovery at least. Surveys undertaken since the last 2010 report now place the number of A. galapagoensis at a depressing 10,000 to 15,000 individuals. That’s quite a significantly large decline since the species last census count, and on discovery of which population sizes were over 70,000-90,000 individuals 1904-1908-(census).

Galápagos Fur Seals live in large colonies on the rocky shores. These colonies are then divided into territories by the female seals during breeding season, which is mid-August to mid-November. Every mother seal claims a territory for herself and breeds her pup there. Galápagos Fur Seals have the lowest reproductive rate reported in seals, and it takes an unusually long time to raise seal pups to independence.

Females bear only one pup at a time, and she remains with her newborn for a week before leaving to feed. She then periodically returns to the pup and stays to suckle it for a few days before leaving on another hunting trip. Females recognize their own pups by smell and sound, and pups also learn to identify their mothers by the females’ “Pup Attraction Calls”.

Mother-pup recognition is crucial because females exclusively nurse their own pups, often violently rejecting strange pups that approach. Orphaned seal pups usually try to sneak up on sleeping or calling females to suckle, but stealing milk is not enough to sustain the pups, and they usually die within a month.

The Galápagos Fur Seal feeds primarily on fish and cephalopods. They feed relatively close to shore and near the surface, but have been seen at depths of 169 m (554 ft). They primarily feed at night because their prey is much easier to catch then. During normal years, food is relatively plentiful. However, during an El Niño year, there can be fierce competition for food, and many young pups die during these years. The adult seals feed themselves before their young and during particularly rough El Niño years, most of the young seal populations will die.

The Galápagos Fur Seal has virtually no constant predators. Occasionally, sharks and orcas have been seen feeding on the seals, but this is very rare. Sharks and orcas are the main predator of most other seal species, but their migration paths do not usually pass the Galápagos.

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Image: Galapagos Fur Seal and Cub

Threats

Similar to all southern fur seals there was a severe population decline as a result of 19th century exploitation by sealers and whalers. The species was near extinction early in the 20th century and has since recovered (although as explained species populations are declining and the Galapagos Fur Seal species are listed as endangered).

El Niño events dramatically elevate mortality rates of all age classes and cause population declines; this is due to the dramatic declines in productivity around the Archipelago during these events. Tourism in the Galápagos, which is an Ecuadorian National Park, is heavy but regulated, and fur seals are protected.

Episodes of entanglement in local net fisheries have been reported and are thought to be increasing over the last years. Feral dogs on Isabela Island which killed fur seals of all ages have been exterminated. This problem could erupt again if other feral dogs find their way to colony sites.

The most serious threat at present is transmission of diseases from dogs to pinnipeds. Like all fur seals, Galápagos Fur Seals are vulnerable to oil spills because of their dependence on their thick pelage for thermoregulation. Although there is limited large vessel traffic in the Galápagos Archipelago, numerous small and medium sized vessels operate in the area that could release moderate quantities of oils, fuels, and lubricants if involved in a marine accident.

Galápagos Fur Seals have experienced declines from El Niño-caused ocean warming and associated reduced marine productivity (Trillmich and Dellinger 1991) estimated of up to 80%, but the exact extent of population reduction is not clear. Therefore, although the effects of global climate change on this species and its habitat are uncertain at this time, it is possible that any change related disruption of present day ocean currents, levels of marine productivity, or increased air temperatures at haul out sites would adversely affect this species.

Despite their population size, the Galápagos Fur Seal population will always be vulnerable to a variety of threats because of the species’ restricted distribution to a relatively small Archipelago of islands.

International Animal Rescue Foundation Brazil worked with these stunning animals for approximately a year and a half. The South American organisation has sadly stated that the species may soon be extinct within the next decade. Despite “any” protection measures that we or other throw at the species we have non-human and non-animal natural events that could wipe the entire species out in a single El Nino season.

Thank you for reading. 

Chief Executive Officer/Chief Environmental Officer

Dr Jose C. Depre. 

International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa – Asia.

info@international-animalrescue-foundation.org.uk

Chief Environmental Officer South America and Europe. (Head Registrar). 

Dr J. Williamson EnVstu. PhD, Ba. 

International Animal Rescue Foundation Europa – South America – United States

info@international-animalrescue-foundation.org.uk

Have you spotted a typo or error? Please email us above and we’ll work to rectify the problem as soon as possible.

 

 


Doll Face Dancing Monkeys Of Indonesia

1150x647Doll Face Dancing Monkeys Of Indonesia

Special Report: dressed in grotesque costumes, plastic masks and acrylic wigs, the exhausted and severely malnourished dancing monkeys spend every day in the hot sun as they dance on command on the edge of busy roads, choking on putrid traffic fumes.

Monkey handlers usually lay in the shade a few meters away and constantly wrench on the heavy chain around their monkey’s neck, demanding non-stop performances. Forty percent of monkeys die during training alone.

Known as topeng monyet, a five year battle took place to have performing monkeys banned in Jakarta and that same battle now exists for other locations across Indonesia.

The illegal animal ­trade is a multi-million-dollar business and every year over 3,000 Macaque monkeys are estimated to be poached from the Sumatran forest, tortured and condemned to a life of painful misery. The monkeys are poached after the mother is wounded and the baby is prised off the dying mother’s body. Most macaque babies are used for research for international pharmaceutical groups or universities and the others are sold to become topeng monyets, performing monkeys.

Poachers are paid $2 for each monkey by dealers, who sell them on to street buskers in Jakarta for $5 each. A fully trained macaque can be sold for up to $135.

Listed as near-threatened, the highly social and intelligent macaque monkeys are forced to live in isolation in tiny dark wooden crates which quickly leads to serious emotional problems for each of the monkeys. In 2013 at least 150 macaques were kept in this manner in the East Jakarta slum area of South Cipinang Besar, famously known as Kampung Monyet, or Monkey Village where a majority of the residents call themselves ‘monkey masters.’

A young baby is forced to start training way before it's body can handle such physical or mental stresses.

A young baby is forced to start training way before it’s body can handle such physical or mental stresses.

Monkey dancing only took off during the 1980s, to entertain poor children in villages [kampungs.] In recent years dancing monkeys began performing in city areas which quickly escalated to an industry throughout many regions in Indonesia.

Macaque training takes around four to six months, comprising of six or seven hours torture every day for the monkey to learn to walk upright and do simple tricks. Macaques who survive the training process will be forced to perform every day for between five to 10 years , depending on how soon they lose their mind and become aggressive and uncontrollable. At that point they will be sold to specialized restaurants of exotic cuisine, where they will be served as a live monkey-brains meal.

Training To Death

The following is from an undercover interview with an Associated Press journalist and a monkey handler known as Cecep, a resident of Monkey Village.

Cecep puts a metal ring around the neck of Toal, a male macaque with a broken arm from a previous training incident. Two ropes tether the ring to poles erected on either side of the monkey as Cecep also ties Toal’s arms behind his back while the monkey screeches in pain as his broken arm is twisted and tightly tied.

This “hanging the monkey” method forces the monkey to rely only on its feet to get better footing on the ground,  giving it an erect, human posture, says Cecep.
“We usually hang the monkeys for half a day before we release them for a few hours to feed. After that, we hang them again for a few hours until the day’s training is over and we put them back in their cages. But we have to hit them too,”says Nanang, another handler.
A terrified Macaque monkey screams in terror as it is slapped across the face,

A terrified Macaque monkey screams in terror as it is slapped across the face,

“Some handlers let their monkeys hang all day without feeding them or giving them breaks,” says Cecep.
The hanging training begins as soon as a monkey stops nursing, or when it is at least a year old and it takes a week to a month for a monkey to get through this basic training. “Sometimes they don’t make it and they die,” says Cecep.

Once the monkeys have passed the hanging training and can walk upright, the handlers train them to use various toys and props, such as a toy motorcycle, for their performance. “We also train them to lift toy weights to check if they can really stand erect, if they can’t, the toy training period takes longer,” Cecep says.

“The monkeys are starved and only fed when they obey to make sure they learn quickly. If they’re not physically strong enough, they die during the basic training, though some die later in the toy training phase.
Many just toss the monkey’s body into the river or a garbage dump.”
Having it's arms tied behind it's back, this young monkey is tortured for several hours a day, everyday for around six months.

Having it’s arms tied behind it’s back, this young monkey is tortured for several hours a day, everyday for around six months.

 Then there are the non-lethal training accidents, like the broken arm Cecep gave Toal.
Cecep demonstrates how he has trained another of his monkeys, Odon, to ride a small wooden motorcycle and salute a flag. As Odon walks back and forth with the toy motorcycle, Cecep gives the command for it to perform by yanking on the chain attached to a collar around the monkey’s neck.
It’s “normal” to pull hard, he says, and there’s a certain way to do it without breaking the animal’s neck.
 Monkey bosses rent out the primates to handlers for Rp 15,000 ($1.70) per monkey per day, with the basic props of a mask and a costume. The monkey owners charge an additional Rp 20,000 to rent out extra props such as a toy bicycle or musical instrument. Monkey bosses own bigger cages can have up to 15 monkeys crammed into them.

Performing

Darting in and out of heavy traffic, a skinny little monkey attached to heavy chain and wearing grotesque costume, mask and wig is forced to dive between cars and pick up coins tossed out of car windows by drivers passing by. Standing upright on his/her back legs all day, overheated in the full sun while dressed in heavy clothes, the dancing monkeys is constantly having it’s neck chain wrenched by it’s handlers as he lays in the shade some meters away, out of the heat of the sun. The never ending assortment of malnourished little monkeys are worked to exhaustion on a daily basis, till death.
Exhausted and skinny  Macaque mother with a suckling baby, still has to work all day every day, in the hot sun.

Exhausted and skinny Macaque mother with a suckling baby, still has to work all day every day, in the hot sun.

If the monkey does not immediately answer the sudden yank of the chain around it’s neck, it will be severely punished, resulting in greater pain. Even female monkeys with suckling young are still expected to “work” in a disgusting exploitation to get more money if people see the baby suckling on the utterly exhausted mother.
Standing on the edge of traffic all day the monkeys are forced to swallow car and truck fumes all day long, which are particularly potent due to the height of the monkeys and the height of car exhaust pipes.
Forced to do stupid tricks which require  energy and stamina, when the money is starving and exhausted.

Forced to do stupid tricks which require energy and stamina, when the money is starving and exhausted.

 After transportation and monkey rental, handlers like Cecep and Nanang can expect to take home up to Rp 70,000 (US$5.00), after several hours of daytime performance on the sides of some of Jakarta’s busiest roads. Cecep adds that he can make a little more during weekends.

As hard as the monkeys are forced to work for several hours every day, their pitiful diet consists solely of plain white rice. During performances sometimes their handlers give them pieces of fruit or snacks that passers by hand out

Each time a tourist stops to look, the monkey is ordered by its owner to walk on his hands, sit on a toy rocking horses or ride bicycles in the hope the tourist will hand over some loose change. It is important that people stop giving money to the monkeys or their handlers because doing so only encourages the practice. 

Jakarta Bans Dancing Monkeys, Why Not Everywhere?

After a five year battle to shut down Jakarta’s dancing monkeys, the ban came into effect in late 2013 – but only for Jakarta! As soon as the first 11 monkeys out of 350 were confiscated from handlers in Jakarta, other handlers went into hiding or relocated to areas such as West Java where they are still operating today.

The Jakarta Animal Aid Network has been campaigning since 2009 to end the dancing monkey trade because of its ongoing cruelty. A Spokeswoman for JAAN, Femke Den Haas says the monkeys have their teeth cut out, are starved and are forced to hang upside down for hours in order for the monkey to become submissive.

the despair of a chained Macaque monkey.

the despair of a chained Macaque monkey.

According to BBC, Governor Joko Widodo made the decision to end the street performances because he wanted to save the monkeys, as well as protect humans from the diseases they may carry. Such diseases have included rabies, tuberculosis, hepatitis and the bacterial disease leptospirosis.

The original plan in 2011 was for the city government to buy back all monkeys used as street buskers for about $90 and shelter them at a one-hectare preserve at Jakarta’s Ragunan Zoo, and the handlers and caretakers would be provided vocational training to help find new jobs.

A total of 81 dancing monkeys were seized in 2011 with the thought they could be either placed into the Ragunan Zoo or simply released back into the wild. However, after suffering years of mental and physical abuse, the zoo refused all the monkeys, arguing that the dancing monkeys suffered from diseases and posed a threat to the facility’s current animal population. Yet the monkeys were not able to fend for themselves in the wild.

Their front legs are wrenched behind their back and their wrists tightly bound together.

Their front legs are wrenched behind their back and their wrists tightly bound together.

JAAN stepped in and offered to rehabilitate them. Fourteen macaques were put down after testing positive for tuberculosis and the remaining 67 were nursed back to health and slowly learned to socialize with other macaques; a significant step after spending much of their lives living alongside humans.

In 2012  a group of 40 dancing monkeys were confiscated by the authorities and were found to be carrying various diseases including tuberculosis, hepatitis and the bacterial disease, leptospirosis.

In 2013 an estimated 350 dancing monkeys were being forced to work as street performers in Jakarta. These heavily traumatized monkeys were no longer able to live with other primates in zoos and had no way to defend themselves in the wild.

Jakarta authorities initially intended that the monkey confiscations would begin in 2014 but were forced to act earlier because of the appalling conditions in which the monkeys are made to live.

Cruelly hung by the neck with their front legs tied behind their backs, the young Macaques are forced to stay like this for up to weeks. 40% die during the training phase.

Cruelly hung by the neck with their front legs tied behind their backs, the young Macaques are forced to stay like this for up to weeks. 40% die during the training phase.

“That is related to order on the streets as well as rabies and other sorts of diseases, that is why we want to be free of performing monkeys and why we have started this week. Most of the owners are not residents of Jakarta,” said Mr Widodo.

Haas said “All the confiscated monkeys are traumatized and require at least three months in quarantine before we can even contemplate re-releasing them into the wild and even then, it has to be in an area where there no other wild monkeys.”

“We believe the monkeys are best off on an isolated island such as the uninhabited island in Pulau Seribu, the capital’s Thousand Islands district, where the idea of a topeng monyet sanctuary could be set up,” said Hass.

Topeng monyets are still performing in the West Java cities of Bandung and Bekasi, however the local government in Bandung is  preparing to also ban monkey shows.

2014 UPDATE ON DANCING MONKEYS

The ex dancing monkeys in the care of JAAN are all long tailed macaques which were rescued after Governor Jokowi banned the dancing monkeys on Jakarta streets end 2013 and are cared for in the government quarantine building in South Jakarta where a full time team is on site, including one veterinarian who is standby 24 hours a day, every single day.

The monkeys were cared for in the quarantine for three months during which ’emergency care’ was provided as they all suffered badly not only from stress and trauma, but also malnourishment and various diseases, including parasite infestation. They were skinny and scared, seeking comfort with each other.
After three months quarantine, the monkeys were moved to the land behind the quarantine building where JAAN built enclosures for them. One group at the time was formed, with the last group successfully being introduced in July 2014, totaling four successful groups.

Conclusion

Macaque monkeys have suffered enough. Ripped from their wounded mother at a tender age, then chained and tortured and made to perform idiotic tricks on command for several hours every day before being shoved back into a small dark cage. Just because the monkey is dressed into a grotesque outfit and mask designed to make it appear as an object does not remove the truth that behind every topeng monyet mask is an injured and severely abused animal who needs urgent help.

It is truly disgusting that after years of forced service the Macaque monkey ends up in the center of a dining table for people to eat his brain while he is still alive! The final betrayal by humans toward this precious breed of monkey.

Jakarta has banned topeng monyet dancing monkeys but we cannot become complacent and presume Indonesia will automatically ban it elsewhere. As we source current petitions for Indonesia’s remaining dancing monkeys we will add them to this article.

The following is a selection of professional photographs which were taken of Jakarta’s doll face dancing monkeys:

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Perttu-Saksa_web9

Perttu-Saksa_web1Jakarta has banned topeng monyet dancing monkeys but we cannot become complacent and presume Indonesia will automatically ban it elsewhere. As we source current petitions for Indonesia’s remaining dancing monkeys we will add them to this article. 

Thank you for reading,

Michele Brown.

info@international-animalrescue-foundation.org.uk


Africa: Culture, Abuse & Crime. Hyena Boys.

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Abuse or Culture?

Its been a long time since I last documented on the hyena men within Nigeria. My last article was more focusing on why men feel the need to take any animal from its natural habitat, drugging the animals into submission thus in a way domesticating them. Peter Hugo was one of the very first men to document and illustrate on this rather strange and morbid behavior of both man and animals.

This Wednesdays article focuses more on whether such domestication of wild hyenas (or any animals from the wild) is considered abusive or culture and, will such a “fashion trend” spread into neighboring countries on the continent of Africa? Yes, you did just read that correctly – hyenas are seen by some people (mainly men) within Nigeria as a fashion statement over dogs. Yet the hyena is more closely related to cats and not dogs.

Brief hyena history:

Hyenas or hyaenas (from Greek ὕαινα hýaina) are the animals of the family Hyaenidae /haɪˈɛnɨdiː/ of the feliform suborder of the Carnivora. With only four extant species, it is the fifth-smallest biological family in the Carnivora, and one of the smallest in the class Mammalia. Despite their low diversity, hyenas are unique and vital components of most African ecosystems.

Within Western African tradition hyenas have been known to mingle and interact with humans. The spotted hyena was considered a “bad Muslim” who challenge the local animism that exists among the Beng in Côte d’Ivoire. In East Africa, Tabwa mythology portrays the spotted hyena as a solar animal that first brought the sun to warm the cold earth, while West African folklore generally shows the hyena as symbolizing immorality, dirty habits, the reversal of normal activities, and other negative traits. In Tanzania, there is a belief that witches use spotted hyenas as mounts.

In the Mtwara Region of Tanzania, it is believed that a child born at night while a hyena is crying will likely grow up to be a thief. In the same area, hyena faeces are believed to enable a child to walk at an early age, thus it is not uncommon in that area to see children with hyena dung wrapped in their clothes.

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Image: Hyena and cub.

The Kaguru of Tanzania and the Kujamaat of Southern Senegal view hyenas as inedible and greedy hermaphrodites. A mythical African tribe called the Bouda is reputed to house members able to transform into hyenas. A similar myth occurs in Mansoa. These “werehyenas” are executed when discovered, but do not revert to their human form when killed. In all hyena’s are pretty much disliked among many traditional communities and are thought to bring a whole host of bad spirits and bad luck.

The hyena men and hyena man:

There are two groups of hyena men known. The first resides in Nigeria known as travelling performers while in Ethiopia there remains a “hyena man” rather than “men” named as Yusef. The Nigerian hyena men were first photographed by Peter Hugo. Nigerian hyena men are known to capture hyena’s, baboons and pythons of which are then tamed aggressively which we believe the use of powerful narcotics or veterinary tranquilizers are used to heavily subdue or sedate the animals removing their primal hunting instincts and natural behavior thus converting to human slavery.

Noted as travelling performers the hyena men are said to care for their animals while travelling the country followed by many whom shower the men with Naira (Nigerian currency). From observing reports it seems that the hyena men are really no different to the Monks of Tiger Temple in Indonesia. Drug and herbal concoctions are administered to subdue the animals before being captured and when on display to ensure the men are not injured or even killed by these aggressive carnivores. Peter Hugo also described how the men bathe in an unknown medical concoction of herbs as well as drinking medicinal concoctions in the belief that this will protect the men from harm when hunting and capturing the animals for later human domestication.

On hunting the hyena down with dogs the men are then said to blow a white tranquilizing powder into the face of the hyena in the hope to subdue it once the beast has been coaxed out its den. Once the hyena is subdued the men are then said to cage the animal before bringing the animal back to the local village community. Mr Hugo described that when the hyena’s are captured the hyena men then rub a unknown medicine onto the body of the hyena that is said to make the animal completely obedient.

Environmental News and Media are not quite sure as to what the medicine is or even if any such “medical rub” is administered that has any form of active properties to help subdue the animals.  Its quite possible the “white powder” that is blown into the face of the animal could be “Diazepam” which would explain why the animal is then quickly subdued and for long periods of time. We don’t believe that any such skin rub that is administered to the animal would then make the animal[s] completely obedient. For such a large predatory animal to be subdued completely one would require a significantly large dose of analgesia, opiates or a stronger barbiturate to fully contain and subdue the animal. That would then be considered as abuse and something which is a violation under the Nigerian Animal Welfare Law.

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Image: Hyena boys with muzzled Hyena.

Once the hyena is under the complete control of its handlers the handler will then teach the animal performing tricks and, how to live with its captive abductors (see video below). We do find this again quite baffling to take on board as hyena’s are natural born killers, very predatory and, on viewing the imagery taken by Peter Hugo it clearly shows multiple hyenas heavily chained and muzzled. So in all fairness while some people have been led to believe this is all OK its quite possible that these stunning animals are being fed a heavy dose of tranquilizers and/or depressive human or animal related relaxation medications.

Due to Nigeria’s rampant poverty the handlers were/are “allegedly forced” to parade their captive animals through the local community streets of which any raised money is said to be used to fend and care for the animals well being. In reality any money that is raised or stolen is used to feed their alleged narcotic habit and crime.

Baboons will perform a variety of tricks of which money is handed over to either animal or animals handler. Unfortunately the main earners are hyenas. Another concern raised was that many abducted animals are sold onto zoological gardens within the country that’s seen as another money maker. Peter Hugo quoted “The hyena men of Nigeria do more than simply put on a street show but they provide medicine to the public and more importantly stimulate the economy of whatever area they are in as well as act as a cultural product from the area”.

Meanwhile on the outskirts of Harar, Ethiopia another hyena man is said to exist known as Yusef. Yusef does not make money from animal performances but more admires their attention – despite these animals belonging to the wild and can at times be very unpredictable. Every night Yusef will feed the visiting hyenas with mule and camel meat. In a way these species of hyena seem to tolerate Yusef and also enjoy his company of which Yusef treats them like domesticated dogs. Many people in Harar are said to actually worship the hyena and treat them with the utmost respect which could explain why they’re not kept as performing animals but left to live how they should within their natural habitat.

Crime and exploitation:

Moving back to the Nigerian hyena men local press and media that picked the story up few years back were quoted as stating “that these men were bank robbers, bodyguards, drug dealers and debt collectors”. Between March 7th and 15th 2015 a local man named as Mr Mohammed Nafiu aged 27 who has been “suspected” of being part of the hyena men group was arrested and charged after using baboons and pythons to rob people within the country.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges. However, the prosecutor, ASP Eranus Nnamonu insisted that the accused committed the offences on March 7 and 17 when he terrorised the residents of Ogba and Ijaiye in Lagos.
He said Mr. Nafiu, armed with a fully grown baboon and a venomous snake, also terrified a crowd waiting to board a bus at Ogba Bus Stop. Mr. Nnamonu said the accused isolated a witness, Joshua Odogwu, and thereafter obtained N57, 000 from him.

“The obviously terrified victim dropped all he had in his bag along with N57, 000 cash, which the accused collected,” he said. In addition, he said the accused had on March 17 visited the shop of a man, Henry Ugwuokoh, and forcefully obtained N230, 000. The offences, Mr. Nnamonu noted, contravened Sections 166, 294, 295 and 409 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011. In her ruling, the Magistrate, Abimbola Komolafe, granted the accused bail in the sum of N100, 000 with two sureties in like sum and adjourned the case to June 18 2015 for trial to be held tomorrow.

Recently back in 2014 a local documentary-maker Tarryn Crossman won the award for Best Documentary Short for Hyena Boys at the California International Shorts Festival. Despite much criticism and debate from Carte Blanche, 50/50 and environmental and animal welfare groups the “award winning short film” was aired. Since Peter Hugo’s capture on the hyena men now known as the hyena boys, countless film, documentary producers and organisations have visited the group of men headed by Baba Mohammed that is in our eyes creating the wrong image and sending the wrong message to many people that abducting a wild animal to generate money from street performances is OK?

As explained its not just hyena’s that are taken from the wild and held in solitary confinement. Baboons, reptiles, snakes and small monkeys are also removed illegally from the wild. Furthermore the animals are also sold on to individuals within the communities as “pets” or as seen in the image below killed for meat to feed the locals.

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Image: Hyena meat carcass and Hyena boy with muzzled hyena.

Yahaya one of the Nigerian, Lagos “hyena men” was quoted as saying “Any animal that people want, we can get for them,’ said Yahaya, who claims that they have supplied hyenas, pythons and other animals to zoos in Nigeria, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Benin. ‘A mature hyena is sold for one hundred and fifty thousand naira, but a cub is more expensive at two hundred and fifty thousand naira. This is because a cub can be trained. An adult baboon goes for fifteen thousand naira, a young one for eight thousand. A python goes for eight to ten, depending on the size.’”

What has turned in to a street performing activity to make money to “allegedly” feed the impoverished has clearly been heavily exploited too. Capturing these stunning animals from the wild to perform or to sell on as meat or pets is wrong and any film production team that honestly believes this is totally OK are foolish and supportive of animal captivity, abuse and, exploitation.

The entertainers have also been accused by the Nigerian police of using the animals to threaten or intimidate members of the public into parting with money or possessions. In June 2004 a report in Lagos newspaper This Day claimed that an armed ‘gang who used a hyena and a monkey to rob their victims’ had a shootout with police. The report can be read below:

June 2004: Four armed man suspected to be from the group “hyena boys” held up a bank with baboons and hyenas.

Four armed gang who used a hyena and a monkey to rob their victims in Katsina State have been arrested by the police after a gun duel in Bichi, headquarters of Bichi Local Government of Kano State. According to a statement made available to newsmen in Katsina, the robbers who were seven in number went to Kankia market in Kankia Local Government of Katsina State to display with the animals while they robbed their victims of N66,000 during their operation.

Shortly after their operation, the statement added, the robbers took to their heels and they were chased by the police down to Bichi in Kano State where they engaged the police in a gun battle which led to the death of two of the robbers. During the battle with the police, the gang let off the hyena and monkey to fight with the police during which the animals bit one of the policemen who is now lying critically ill at the Katsina General Hospital.

Two of the robbers were killed while four of them arrested on the spot. The police had however killed the two animals during the fight in Bichi. Meanwhile, two robbers have been arrested by the police in Funtua for allegedly burgling the home of the former Minister for Special Duties during the Abacha administration in the country Alhaji Wada Nas.

The hyena boys are known to deal heavily in narcotics which the film crew producer Tarryn Crossman confirmed on visiting the hyena boys back in 2014. Tarryn Crossman stated that on entering the camp they walked into a large camp populated with many people and cannabis laying everywhere. Tarryn Crossman’s own words “We thought we were going to die”.

Captive cruelty and abuse:

For years International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa has documented on animal abuse and captive cruelty however, nothing can be more cruel and abusive than this. Abducting wild animals from their natural habitat with vicious dogs, using hypnotic medications to subdue the animals and beating the animals should they not do what their masters demand. It really baffles us as to why any such film or press agency would even document on such so called traditions knowing their abuse that goes on within camp and outside of camp.

Wild animals in captivity are often anxious about being cooped up. And the stressors of social animals can sound strikingly similar to the popularity concerns of high school girls. Mark Wilson, a neuroscientist at Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Georgia’s Emory University, studies captive female rhesus macaque monkeys, housed in groups as they would live in the wild. The monkeys naturally form a hierarchy with some females dominating others, and subordinates enduring harassment and a general lack of control.

Furthermore and even more worrying is the sheer fact the hyena boys have not tamed wild caught adult hyenas at all. The only thing stopping these dangerous carnivores from ripping their owners to shreds are illicit “unknown” medications that help to subdue the animal and take its inhibitions away therefore doing everything the owner or owners bark at the hyena or other animals. I

have included two images for you to clearly evaluate from research. One depicts an non-muzzled adult hyena and a Tiger from the repulsive Tiger Temple. Both hyenas and tigers are dangerous animals of which their natural instincts are to hunt and be predatory. I have searched in vain for as many images as possible depicting non-muzzled hyenas from the hyena boys camp however, to no avail.

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Image (1) and (2) Drug induced state – Subdued Hyena and Tiger. 

As one can quite clearly see both tiger and hyena are being man-handled. Neither animals would if not drugged take this abusive treatment for very long before lashing out and seriously harming the owner[s]. Which has led us to believe since Peter Hugo first documented on the hyena boys, the hyenas are clearly drugged with either cannabis that was witnessed at the camp in 2014 by film producer Terryn Crossman or heroin. Furthermore individuals from the Australian organisation known as (Cee4life) have been quoted as witnessing cannabis being fed into Tiger food and possibly Sativex, a liquid cannabis tincture.

Further research and accounts from the hyena men have generally stated that hyenas make very good pets and as they are related to dogs they’d be the ideal candidate for home security. Furthermore my research conducted last year of which I located a earlier video of the hyena men stating “hyenas are the new black mans dogs, pit bulls are for sissies”. So, lets debunk this. Firstly hyenas are nowhere near related to dogs. Hyenas are actually more related to cats. Keeping hyenas as pets is considered the “new image” within Nigeria however, do hyenas actually make good pets?

Although a few people in Africa and Asia find very young hyenas in nature and raise them as pets, these animals generally appear to be extremely unhappy as “domestic companions” as adults, and must often be kept muzzled at all times so that they do not harm people or property One only has to view the videos above that clearly illustrates their unhappiness at being chained and muzzled. A muzzle prevents the hyenas from being able to groom itself properly.

As spotted hyenas need several years of practice to become proficient hunters, and as they are deprived of this practice when reared as pets, it is effectively a death sentence for a captive-reared hyenas to be released into the wild. In addition, pet hyenas cannot be released for fear that they might transfer new pathogens from captive environments into the wild. Upon reaching adulthood, many “pet” hyenas must therefore be euthanized.

Concluding:

I have researched many so called traditions and cultures over the years involving humans and wild animals removed from their natural habitat to be used in street or circus performances or domesticated as pets. Never within my entire career have I yet to locate any real evidence that indicates large predators, monkeys or apes are suited to domestication or take to being used as performing animals. Large predators, monkeys and apes belong in the wild and not within a human controlled environment. It is therefore in my own expert opinion the Nigerian Government must act to firstly ban such cultures and remove these animals either placing them into a more suited human controlled reserve or, unfortunately euthanizing them immediately. We as humans do not have the rights to wander into any animals natural habitat to abduct and then exploit for monetary greed. We are playing with fire here and opening Pandora’s box furthermore to virus’s jumping from animal to human. 75% of all known virus actually derive from animals.

Thank you for reading.

Dr Jose C. Depre

Environmental and Botanical Scientist.

International Animal Rescue Foundation (Africa, Europe, Canada, America, Asia, South America).  


Endangerd Species Monday – Centrocercus minimus

Endangered Species Monday –  Centrocercus minimus

Picture credits: Gary Kramer Photography.

This Mondays endangered species article I take a glimpse into one of the planets most endangered bird species and one of the millenniums kind of newest discoveries, or more “an overlooked species should I say”.. The Centrocercus minimus, commonly known as the Gunnison Sage Grouse is the bird I am speaking about and, not the “Greater Sage Grouse”. C. minimus species is listed as (endangered) of which its populations are declining quite extensively. The species was identified back as a “new species” by Dr Mark Young et al 2000 after environmentalists believed the species to be the near threatened Greater Sage Grouse. Thankfully after much research this stunning bird and its non-similarities to the Greater Sage were finally uncovered.

Endemic only the United States population sizes are very, very sparse and limited. From census counts back in 2005 mature individuals stand at a depressing 1,700. This roughly equates to around 2,500-2,600 total individuals if that. If there is one bird within the United States that could benefit from “extreme conservation preservation” C. minimus is one out of several unrelated species requiring immediate protection status.

Conservation actions began back in 2005 of which a working group was formed to protect and oversea all conservation projects of this magnificent bird. Back in 2008 a conservation plan identified over 200 actions that required immediate addressing to stop its sudden decline into extinction. By 2005 over ninety five percent of the population was covered by working groups.

Conservation actions proposed/underway: 

Restore and improve habitat, while continuing work to prevent further loss and fragmentation. Support its listing on the Endangered Species Act. Continue population monitoring at key sites. Conduct further ecological research, focusing on survival, dispersal and habitat use at different life stages. Encourage and facilitate the implementation of local and range-wide management plans. Reduce disturbance, especially at active leks. Investigate the possibility of using translocations to augment small populations. Continue work to raise awareness of key issues among stakeholders.

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Image: Gunnison Male. Males fan their feathers, strut while popping air sacs in their chests. Males put this show on to attract females. Behavior becomes aggressive when females are present. 

Gunnison Sage Grouse are notable for their elaborate courtship rituals. Each spring males congregate on leks and perform a “strutting display”. Groups of females observe these displays and select the most attractive males to mate with. Only a few males do most of the breeding. Males perform on leks for several hours in the early morning and evening during the spring months. Leks are generally open areas adjacent to dense sagebrush stands, and the same lek may be used by grouse for decades.

Threats

Habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation is resulting from conversion to roads, reservoirs, livestock-grazing, hay and other crops, real estate developments, power lines, land treatments and increased deer populations – hence why hunters do participate in seasonal hunting of deer to keep populations in check and from destroying Gunnison Sage Grouse’s habitat.

Many winter sites are directly threatened and being enclosed by urbanization. Severely fragmented populations have low genetic variation and the recent reintroduction of the disease West Nile virus to the species’s range is a concern. Inbreeding depression appears to be occurring due to the skewed mating system at leks: six of the seven extant populations now appear to be low enough to be suffering from this. Disturbance from scientific study and recreational birdwatchers may cause stress and reduced lek attendance and production.

Male Gunnison Sage-Grouse displays on the lek during a spring mating season at Mill Creek Ranch in Gunnison, CO.

Male Gunnison Sage-Grouse displays on the lek during a spring mating season at Mill Creek Ranch in Gunnison, CO.

Severe winters and potentially droughts may represent survival bottlenecks (e.g. in 1984, less than 10% of sagebrush emerged above the snow as may other habitat factors influencing chick survival. Calls to increase gas prospecting in areas of sagebrush habitat represent a potential future threat.

Hunting has since been banned when the new species was formally identified back in 2000 and conservation actions began. G. Sage Grouse is mostly confined to Colorado with some smaller populations confined to Utah. The species has been recognized by the American Ornithological Union as one of the ten most endangered species of birds in North America. It is therefore listed as a possible candidate for future protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  However, while numerous groups have developed conservation plans and actions for the species; it continues to be at significant risk and lacks federal protection under the ESA.

Thank you for reading.

Dr Jose C. Depre.

Chief Environmental and Botanical Officer (CEO)

info@international-animalrescue-foundation.org.uk

 


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