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Archive for September, 2014

Animals in Conflict.

War 1

ANIMALS IN CONFLICT

Animals at war is a brief document on how war is affecting our environment. Wednesday’s article will be released soon on just how bad war is affecting our wildlife.

While the United States, United Kingdom, France and Arab nations yet again begin to bomb the hell out of Iraq then we think its time to begin showing other species of animals that will be suffering again from large ordnance rounds that can sheer pansy heads of an entire football sized pansy field. No were not joking neither.

From the Awassi Sheep, Jungle Cat, Syrian Brown Bear, Crested Porcupine, Gray Wolf to countless other species of fauna AND flora, animals will yet again suffer a precision guided war from the air, sea and eventually from the land. Its expected that this war will be more jungle and urban warfare that is likely to last some three to four years.

Although hundreds of thousands of animals have died as a consequence of human warmaking, no comprehensive effort has ever been made, to my knowledge, to assess the numbers or types of animal casualties during or after past conflicts. The prospect of killing or injuring animals has never had a deterrent effect on those making decisions about war. A few recent international agreements, reached in efforts to mitigate the impact of war on the environment, have not translated into significant restrictions on military activity, let alone explicit measures to protect animals in time of war.

The relationship between animals and war has received historical attention with regard to the uses of animals in military missions and military research. However, the war in Vietnam marked the first time that the environment and animals received close attention as victims of war. The chemical defoliation of massive tracts of forest in Vietnam killed, wounded, or evicted many of the animal inhabitants.

The Gulf war added a new dimension to the risks for animals as well as humans: the use of oil as a weapon. Along with their economic and tactical effects, oil spills and fires make animals their principal living victims since, for the most part, they are unable to escape their devastated habitats.

The Gulf war was also the first, as far as can be determined, in which some attempt was made to count animal deaths in a systematic way. It was also the first major war in which the military (in this case, U.S. and allied) made an effort to keep animals from harm and to help alleviate animal suffering after the war.

The Gulf war animal casualty count includes thousands of marine birds, migratory birds, livestock animals, horses, camels, and other creatures who bore no responsibility for the conflict. The number of animal casualties is only conjectural, but then again, the full human toll has yet to be determined. The official count of U.S. military casualties reported by the public affairs office of the Department of Defense on August 12, 1991 stood at 765, including 307 dead. The number of Iraqi soldiers killed was at least 10,000 according to Pentagon estimates, but some news accounts have reported 100,000 or more. Casualties among Iraqi civilians, from air strikes and ground attacks, have been estimated to range from thousands to tens of thousands. Disease and hunger now rampant in Iraq, attributable to the war and to the political deadlock over economic sanctions, could take the lives of additional thousands by the end of the year.

In this context, the hundreds of thousands of animals that died or were injured during the Gulf war — and the millions of others (primarily migratory birds) that were placed at risk — must be viewed as one more dimension of a preventable tragedy. The see casualties, enumerated in this article, resulted not only from bombings and artillery fire, but also from the ecological devastation left behind after the ceasefire.

Different animal populations in the Gulf region were affected by the war in different ways. Conversely, specific war-related actions have had more or less unique consequences for particular animals. The major categories of casualties and their causes can be summarized as follows:

1. Crude oil released into the Persian Gulf killed an estimated tens of thousands of marine birds, (l) threatened sea turtles and marine mammals, and probably caused death and injury to migrating birds passing through the region.
2. Toxic smoke from hundreds of oil fires killed migrating birds and may cause respiratory, blood, and immune system illnesses in all living beings, showing up first in birds and smaller mammals, but eventually affecting large animals and possibly humans.
3. Oil pouring from extinguished Kuwaiti wells has created huge petrochemical lakes that are destroying land surfaces and are draining into the sea, posing new threats to marine life.
4. Bombs, mines, and shells — including unexploded cluster bombs and other ordnance left behind after the ceasefire — killed and injured scores of livestock, horses, and camels.
5. The movement of tanks, trucks, and other large military vehicles tore up the desert, destroying fragile wildlife habitats and creating the conditions for unusually severe sandstorms that could take additional animal lives.
6. More than 400 animals at the Kuwait national zoo either were killed by Iraqi soldiers, died of starvation and injuries, or were removed from the zoo to unknown locations.

And that’s just the start of a very large and depressing iceberg.

Humans are not the only living creatures in Earth that suffer from the effects of war. Shell shock in animals has not really been that explored however animals that are within areas where such large bombs are being dropped can suffer hideous psychological and physical injuries from shell shock down to flying shrapnel. Take the daisy cutter bomb for instance. Any living animal anywhere within half a mile of this massive warhead being dropped would be obliterated if in the fallout zone.

The first known animal casualties came during the buildup of U.S. and allied troops in Saudi Arabia. Bedouin-owned camels, accustomed to roaming the desert freely, were struck by artillery shells during military training exercises. Camels were especially threatened during nighttime maneuvers, when heat seeking weapons could mistake foraging herds for targets. Fortunately, only a few incidents occurred before public protests, including letters from the Boston-based World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) to U.S. officials, led to assurances that the well-being of the region’s animals would be taken into account during military maneuvers. However, once the war broke out, wildlife and domestic animals stood little chance against thousands of air strikes, the movement of tanks through fragile habitats, and the use of oil as a weapon of mass destruction.

Documentation on wildlife destruction caused by war in still “volatile countries” where fighting it still ongoing is very hard to obtain. Right this minute as we speak the “Un-Islamic State” commonly known as I.S or Islamic State now face a torrent of military action from the United States, United Kingdom, European Allies and United Arab Emirates. Governments have vowed to use precision warhead capable of killing a man behind a car without even damaging the car. Personally we find that statement poor and yet another example of the UK Conservative Government ensuring public satisfaction is met at all times.

More than 80% of the livestock animals in Kuwait — mostly cattle, sheep, and goats — died between the Iraqi occupation in August 1990 and the ceasefire in March 1991. Assigning precise causes to all of the deaths is virtually impossible, but the principal causes include starvation, dehydration, intentional or accidental shooting, slaughter for food, and bombing. Livestock animals, in particular, are almost totally dependent on humans for their well being, and the collapse of Kuwait’s economy and domestic infrastructures, not to mention the flight of Kuwaiti residents from the country, left hundreds of thousands of these animals helpless.

Death also resulted when animals stepped on unexploded mines or cluster bombs, which littered the landscape at the end of the war. (Clearing some areas of unexploded ordnance has been deemed virtually impossible by military officials, and these areas may have to be fenced off to prevent future deaths among nomadic residents and their herds.)

Kuwait’s livestock industry was a relatively small yet vital part of the prewar economy. There were 34 operating dairy farms in the country in August 1990, with 15,000 cows and cattle. Following the ceasefire, only two dairies were functioning in any capacity, and only 2,500 cattle were still alive. A population of 800,000 sheep was reduced to 10,000; 10,000 camels were down to 2,000; and, of 3,000 horses, many of them Arabian and thoroughbred race horses, fewer than 500 could be found in Kuwait at the end of the war. (Some of the most valuable race horses and show horses were removed to Iraq before the air war began. Grooms and other horse handlers who were employed at Kuwaiti stables told staff from the WSPA that Iraqi soldiers arrived with lists of horses whom they demanded by name. The number of Kuwaiti horses currently held by Iraq is unknown.

When Assad released his deadly arsenal of sarin on his own people many hundreds of animals died too. No real estimate of dead wildlife and cattle has ever been reported in full however its alleged that thousands of animals died just in that one single attack. Furthermore its also estimated that many millions of birds, land and sea animals have been slaughtered within Syria from stray ordnance, unexploded rounds, bombings, tank and vehicle movements. The death toll continues too. With not an end in sight its most likely that many animals will be forced into extinction within the next twenty years just in Syria and Iraq alone should this bloody war machine not cease.

What about Africa? 

In Africa many civil wars and wars between countries occurred in the past century, some of which are still continuing. Most wars are a result of the liberation of countries after decades of colonialization. Countries fight over artificial borders drawn by former colonial rulers. Wars mainly occur in densely populated regions, over the division of scarce resources such as fertile farmland. It is very hard to estimate the exact environmental impact of each of these wars. Here, a summary of some of the most striking environmental effects, including biodiversity loss, famine, sanitation problems at refugee camps and over fishing is given for different countries.

Some startling facts;

  • Congo War II – Refugees hunt wildlife for bush meat, either to consume or sell it. Elephant populations in Africa have seriously declined as a result of ivory poaching. Farmers burn parts of the forest to apply as farmland, and corporate logging contributes to the access of poachers to bush meat. A survey by the WWF showed that the hippopotamus population in one national park decreased from 29,000 thirty years previously, to only 900 in 2005. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) listed all five parks as ‘world heritage in danger’.
  • Ethiopia & Eritrea – During the war severe drought resulted in famine, particularly because most government funds were spend on weapons and other war instrumentation. The government estimated that after the war only 60% of the country received adequate food supplies. The war resulted in over 750,000 refugees. It basically destroyed the entire infrastructure. Efforts to disrupt agricultural production in Eritrea resulted in changes in habitat. The placing of landmines has caused farming or herding to be very dangerous in most parts of the country. If floods occur landmines may be washed into cities. This has occurred earlier in Mozambique.
  • Rwanda Civil War – Between April and July 1994 extremist military Hutu groups murdered about 80,000-1,000,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda. Over 2,000,000 people lost their homes and became refugees. Rwanda has a very rich environment, however, it has a particularly limited resource base. About 95% of the population lives on the countryside and relies on agriculture. Some scientists believe that competition for scarce land and resources led to violence prior to and particularly after the 1994 genocide. It is however stated that resource scarcity only contributed limitedly to the conflict under discussion. The main cause of the genocide was the death of the president from a plane-crash caused by missiles fires from a camp.
    The many refugees from the 1994 combat caused a biodiversity problem. When they returned to the already overpopulated country after the war, they inhabited forest reserves in the mountains where endangered gorillas lived. Conservation of gorilla populations was no longer effective, and refuges destroyed part of the habitat. Despite the difficulties still present in Rwanda particularly concerning security and resource provision, an international gorilla protection group is now working on better conditions for the gorillas in Rwanda.
    Somalia civil war – A civil war was fought in Somalia 1991. One of the most striking effects of the war was over fishing. The International Red Cross was encouraging the consumption of seawater fish to improve diets of civilians. For self-sufficiency they provided training and fishing equipment. However, as a consequence of war Somali people ignored international fishing protocols, thereby seriously harming ecology in the region. Fishing soon became an unsustainable practise, and fishermen are hard to stop because they started carrying arms. They perceive over fishing as a property right and can therefore hardly be stopped.

War has a devastating effect not just to humans but also our wildlife and domestic animals. Humans are not the only sufferers here. Now the United States and Great Britain and her allies want to go back into war to fight the UNISLAMIC STATE from which they actually armed.

Where is the justice in that?

 This Wednesdays article will be focusing on animals in war zones. 

www.speakupforthevoiceless.org

 

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Plastic Bag Syndrome.

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Shopping bags. Yes I’m going to bore you this Wednesday about your over-usage of shopping bags and how these bags are helping to destroy our environment and are responsible for the deaths of many hundreds if not thousands of animals per year. This article may be boring to some, however I am sick to the core of seeing so many people in hyper-markets purchasing bag after bag just for them bags to later be thrown away. Once you’ve thrown that precious bag away you have then contributed to littering the Earths already fragile ecosystem and trust me the damage doesn’t even stop there….. Its time for a little consumer education…

Brief History; 

Believe it or not but plastic bags are becoming a serious environmental problem. So serious that many countries globally have imposed charges for all bags now paper and plastic. You’d probably think that even with a charge of say a few dollars the consumer would keep the bag and then reuse it. However some do many do not. Regardless of the charges imposed production of plastic bags and purchasing still continues. As human population increases so will demand for shopping accessorizes.

Two hundred and sixty seven different species of animals and plants have been known to be affected by plastic bag wastage. Over 100,000 marine animals, including highly intelligent, adorable sea turtles, whales and dolphins, die every year because of plastic bags. The die because of your selfishness. While conservation organisations are helping to clean the seas, beaches and lands of your waste the production of bags continues at a staggering rate. To be precise every five seconds sixty thousand plastic bags are produced every “five seconds” just in the United States alone. That’s one hell of a lot of bags.

The damage plastic bags cause to our wildlife is catastrophic as one can see in the picture below. Even when animals that have died and decomposed digest plastic bag particles or whole plastic bags the bag still remains intact. It takes over one hundred years or more for your average plastic bag to decompose. In that time the digested plastic bag has most likely poisoned another animal or killed a further whale or even a Tiger or Lion.. Even Africa’s pristine parks are not safe from littering so don’t think for one moment that plastic bag refuse is just confined to our oceans.

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The picture above depicts a dead decomposing seabird. Look closely though. You can make out many different plastic particles. Lighters, bottle tops and pieces of plastic bag garbage that would most likely have led to this animals painful death. And as explained marine animals are not the only species threatened by plastic bag garbage. The picture below depicts cattle that have also fallen prey to the plastic bag menace. Digesting such toxic plastics can lead to many physical complaints that can lead to eventual death.

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Hundreds of cows die annually from choking on plastic bags containing vegetable waste

In November 2008 in Australia, a 10-foot-long crocodile tagged as part of a government wildlife-tracking program turned up dead, having consumed 25 plastic shopping and garbage bags. Whitey, as the crocodile was dubbed, had been relocated to a popular tourist destination called Magnetic Island, and authorities at first feared that he had died as a result of eating garbage left behind by visitors. Said Keith Williams of the group Australian Seabird Rescue, however, “Whitey probably was picking up plastic long before [being moved].”

Plastics take hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of years to break down in most environments, such that it is not a stretch to imagine a single bag killing more than one animal over a very long lifetime on land and sea. And while the statistics are incomplete, some conservationists estimate that at least 100,000 mammals and birds die from them each year, felled by the estimated 500 billion and more plastic bags that are produced and consumed around the world; the numbers of fish killed by them are unknown, but they are sure to number in the millions.

Word of that devastation is spreading, and countries around the world have taken measures to limit or ban the use of throwaway plastic bags. The first to do so was Bangladesh, which banned plastic bags in 2002; following a particularly damaging typhoon, authorities discovered that millions of bags were clogging the country’s system of flood drains, contributing to the destruction.

In the same year, Ireland took another approach and instituted a steep tax on plastics. According to the country’s Ministry of Environment, use fell by 90 percent as a result, and the tax money that was generated funded a greatly expanded recycling program throughout the country. In 2003 the government of Taiwan put in place a system by which bags were no longer made available in markets without charge, and carryout restaurants were even required to charge for plastic utensils.

Larger economies have joined the cause. Australia has called for a voluntary ban, and thus far consumption of the bags has fallen markedly as 90 percent of the country’s retailers have signed on to the program. In 2005, French legislators imposed a ban on all nonbiodegradable plastic bags, to go into effect in 2010. Italy will also ban them that year, and China has already prohibited bags less than 0.025 millimeters thick. “Our country consumes a huge amount of plastic shopping bags each year,” a spokesperson for China’s State Council said on announcing the ban last May. “While plastic shopping bags provide convenience to consumers, this has caused a serious waste of energy and resources and environmental pollution because of excessive usage, inadequate recycling and other reasons.”

In the United States, however, measures to ban or curtail the use of plastic bags have met with official resistance. With its powerful lobby, the plastics industry argues that jobs will disappear—and the industry employs some two million workers, at least in good times—if the trade in plastic bags is reduced. But these are not good times, bans or no, and critics point out that Americans alone throw out at least 100 billion bags a year, the equivalent of throwing away 12 million gallons of oil, which seems an intolerable waste.

Thus, even in the United States, the no-bags campaign is gaining ground. During its 2008 session, the New York State Legislature passed legislation requiring the “reduction, reuse, and recycling” of checkout bags. The previous year, the city of San Francisco banned plastic bags altogether, at least the flimsy ones of yore. National Public Radio reported a few months later that the ban had been a boon for local plastics manufacturers, who have been introducing heavy-duty, recyclable, and even compostable bags into the marketplace.

And then New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had been talking of imposing a citywide tax of six cents for every plastic bag dispensed—one source of quick revenue in tight times, at least until consumers catch on and stop paying the surcharge by carrying their own shopping bags. Just so, speaking directly to our wallets, more and more grocery stores in the United States are offering small incentives to customers who do so. Trader Joe’s, a popular California-based chain, offers such customers raffle tickets for free groceries, while Albertson’s, another chain, gives a small cash credit.

Plastic Bag Poisoning; 

Plastic bags are made of polyethylene and polyethylene is a petroleum product. When animals consume such plastic bags they are then poisoned by the chemicals within that bag as it passes through the animals digestive system or they simply choke to death. In many case animals stomachs and intestines become so clogged with plastic bag waste that many die just from this complaint. Plastic bags are often mistaken as food by marine mammals such as turtles that believe a floating bag is prey such as jelly fish. 100,000 marine mammals die yearly by eating plastic bags.

When plastic is cast out to see photo-degradation breaks the plastics down into what we call mermaid tears or nurdles. Mermaid tears or nurdles are basically very small plastic particles that have been broken down by the suns exposure. Smaller sea-life species of animals such as turtles, fish even shell fish are then exposed to an almost invisible man made silent killer.

These tiny plastic particles can get sucked up by filter feeders and damage their bodies. Other marine animals eat the plastic, which can poison them or lead to deadly blockages. Nurdles also have the insidious property of soaking up toxic chemicals. Over time, even chemicals or poisons that are widely diffused in water can become highly concentrated as they’re mopped up by nurdles.

These poison-filled masses threaten the entire food chain, especially when eaten by filter feeders that are then consumed by large creatures.
Plastic has acutely affected albatrosses, which roam ­a wide swath of the northern Pacific Ocean. Albatrosses frequently grab food wherever they can find it, which leads to many of the birds ingesting — and dying from — plastic and other trash. On Midway Island, which comes into contact with parts of the Eastern Garbage Patch, albatrosses give birth to 500,000 chicks every year. Two hundred thousand of them die, many of them by consuming plastic fed to them by their parents, who confuse it for food

. In total, more than a million birds and marine animals die each year from consuming or becoming caught in plastic and other debris.

“More than a million birds and marine animals die each year from consuming or becoming caught in plastic and other debris”…

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Plastic bag menace facts and figures; 

  • Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That’s over one million plastic bags used per minute.
  • According to the Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World report. Some 4 to 5 trillion plastic bags—including large trash bags, thick shopping bags, and thin grocery bags—were produced globally in 2002. Roughly 80 percent of those bags were used in North America and Western Europe.
  • Every year, Americans reportedly throw away 100 billion plastic grocery bags.
  • The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year…
  • Americans use and dispose of 100 billion plastic shopping bags each year and at least 12 million barrels of oil are used per year in the manufacture of those plastic grocery bags.
  • Less than 5 percent of plastic grocery bags are recycled in the U.S.
  • Plastic bags were introduced into supermarkets in 1977.
  • Scientists estimate that every square mile of ocean contains about 46,000 pieces of floating plastic.
  • Researchers have found that plastic debris acts like a sponge for toxic chemicals, soaking up a million fold greater concentration (than surrounding water) of such deadly compounds as PCBs and DDE. Becoming highly toxic poison to marine animals which frequently consume these particles.
  • Plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to break down, so even when an animal dies and decays after ingesting a bag, the plastic re-enters the environment, posing a continuing threat to wildlife.
  • There is now six times more plastic debris in parts of the North Pacific Ocean than zooplankton.
  • At least 267 different species are known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of plastic marine debris.
  • The amount of petroleum used to make a plastic bag would drive a car about 115 metres. It would take only 14 plastic bags to drive one mile!
  • The production of plastic bags requires petroleum and often natural gas and chemicals. Its production is toxic to the air.
  • Packaging now accounts for 1/3 of all household waste.
  • Every year we make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap Texas.
  • In 2007 in the U.S, about 31 million tons, or 12.1 percent of total municipal waste, was plastic. Over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year, costing retailers an estimated $4 billion.
  • Over 100,000 marine animals, including highly intelligent, adorable sea turtles, whales and dolphins, die every year because of plastic bags.

Plastic bags killing off many threatened and endangered species of marine life; 

While poaching and over-fishing is affecting many species of animals within the deep blue seas and shorelines so too are you the consumer that unknowingly when throwing that plastic bag away or using it as a smaller sized refuse bag are actually contributing to the extinction of our threatened species of marine life.

Since 1950, plastics have played an omnipresent part of our daily lives. Most of the marine debris in the world is comprised of plastic materials (between 60 to 80% of total marine debris). Field studies have shown that mega- and macro-plastics have concentrated in the highest densities in the Northern Hemisphere, adjacent to urban areas, in enclosed seas and at water convergences. The longevity of some plastics is estimated to be hundreds to thousands of years!

The environmental impacts resulting from the accumulation of plastic waste are huge and increasing. Plastic debris affects wildlife, human health, and the environment too. The millions of tons of plastic bottles, bags, and garbage in the world’s oceans are breaking down and leaching toxins posing a threat to marine life and human. Plastic materials in landfills sink in harmful chemicals into groundwater. Chemicals added to plastics are dangerously absorbed by humans like altering hormones. Research on plastics includes a large and robust literature reporting adverse health effects in laboratory animals and wildlife at even low doses. Plastic debris is ingested by hundreds of species choking and starving them. Floating plastic debris can spread invasive species.

36 per cent of Australian sea turtles are affected by marine litter, with some 18,000 pieces of plastic litter floating on every square kilometer of the world’s oceans. Green turtles are the most common species seen in WA with up to 30,000 females nesting along the coast and along fringing reefs at Shark Bay to Murchison River between October and February each year.

According to the WA Department of Environment, divers may see large juveniles around Rottnest Island reefs. University of Queensland marine biologist Dr Kathy Townsend said the problem of marine waste had to be tackled before the already low population numbers of sea turtles became even more depleted.

“This thing is everyone’s fault, and because it’s everyone’s fault no one takes responsibility,” Dr Townsend said. “We need to stop generating so much waste. We are doing the inconceivable, we are starting to fill up the oceans of the world.”

The Turtles in Trouble program found turtles had swallowed balloons, plastic bags, nylon rope, styrofoam and thongs, among other things, possibly mistaking them for jellyfish. Once ingested, the plastic causes a gut impaction which leads to the contents of the animal’s gut decomposing.

“The animal becomes positively buoyant and it can’t dive down to eat, it can’t get out of the way of predators, it can’t get out of the way of boats, so it really is quite a tragic thing,” Dr Townsend said. It can result in so-called “floating syndrome”, where the turtle may take months to gradually starve to death. “It’s a really long, drawn-out, painful death,” Dr Townsend said.

Earthwatch Australia executive director Richard Gilmore said a number of measures can be taken to reduce marine rubbish.

“Australia’s marine environment is absolutely fundamental to our economy, our environment and to our way of life,” Mr Gilmore said.
Dr Townsend said that everyone can do their share. “Start refusing those items that have a useful lifetime of only minutes and yet take years if not decades to degrade,” she said. “Do you really need to have a plastic top on your paper coffee cup? Refuse that, you don’t need that”.
Marine rubbish also affects Victoria’s famous fairy penguins, which frequently get entangled in debris. Dr Townsend said if the problem is not addressed it will only get worse, but with awareness, she hopes the correct choices will be made to reduce the amount of rubbish reaching the marine environment.

Picture below depicts what a turtle believes is food. A plastic bag that to the turtle appears much like its prey – jellyfish..

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Even dolphins are not safe from the plastic bag menace. The video below depicts unselfish kind and considerate boatmen that located a baby dolphin in distress. The plastic shopping bag appeared to have been half ingested and smothering the baby dolphin. Had these kind men not taken evasive action the baby dolphin would most certainly have perished from suffocation.

While sea turtles are under threat from plastic bags too being one of the oceans most endangered species the Maui’s dolphins are also under attack from this dreaded plastic bag syndrome as we call it. A slow breeding rate and small population size have made of Maui’s dolphin a very endangered subspecies. In fact, just more than one human-induced death every seven years seriously threatens the chances of population recovery.

However, over since March 2001, seven dead Maui’s dolphins have been found. Five of these deaths were due to fishing, one was impossible to determine and one was because of natural causes. This dolphin is vulnerable to set net (gill net) and trawl fishing, marine pollution and debris, boat strikes and genetic bottleneck.

Dolphins like Maui’s which inhabit shallow coastal waters are vulnerable to the pollutants which humans allow into the sea. Chemicals from industrial waste, stormwater and agricultural runoff like PCBs, DDT, dioxins and metals have been found in Hector’s dolphin’s blubber (including Maui’s dolphins).

These pollutants bio-accumulate, which means they increase in potency as they move up the food chain. Maui’s dolphins are near the top of their food chain and these pollutants can be passed on to young dolphins through their mother’s milk. High levels of exposure can cause loss of fertility and compromise immune systems in marine mammals. Another form of pollution which threatens Maui’s dolphins is solid rubbish such as plastic shopping bags which can be mistaken for squid and ingested, killing the dolphin.

And if you believe that plastic bags only harm little animals then think again. Tesco and Waitrose were shocked to find that a dead sperm whale washed up on the Granada coast had sadly perished due to plastic bag digestion. When marine scientists opened the dead sperm whale up to one hundred plastic carrier bags were found in the stomach of the whale. Read more below;

A dead sperm whale that washed up on Spain’s south coast had swallowed 17kg of plastic waste dumped into the sea by farmers tending greenhouses that produce tomatoes and other vegetables for British supermarkets.

Scientists were amazed to find the 4.5 tonne whale had swallowed 59 different bits of plastic – most of it thick transparent sheeting used to build greenhouses in southern Almeria and Granada. A clothes hanger, an ice-cream tub and bits of mattress were also found.

The plastic had eventually blocked the animal’s stomach and killed it, according to researchers from the Doñana national park research centre in Andalusia.

Researchers at first found it hard to believe that the 10-metre animal had swallowed the vast amount of plastic they found protruding through a tear in its stomach.

In all the whale’s stomach contained two dozen pieces of transparent plastic, some plastic bags, nine metres of rope, two stretches of hosepipe, two small flower pots and a plastic spray canister.

All were typical of the closely packed Almeria greenhouses that cover about 40,000 hectares – and are clearly visible in satellite photographs taken from space.

Desert-like Almeria has transformed itself into Europe’s winter market garden thanks to the plastic greenhouses where plants are grown in beds of perlite stones and drip-fed chemical fertilisers. Local farmers report that Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s are all valued customers.

Estimates of how much plastic waste is generated vary from 45,000 tonnes to more than 88,000 tonnes.

Much is treated in special waste centres, but environmentalists complain that local riverbeds are often awash with plastic detritus and, with greenhouses built right up to the high-tide line, some also ends up in the sea.

“The problem of degraded plastics that are no longer recyclable still remains,” Renaud de Stephanis, lead researcher at Doñana, and his team reported in the Marine Pollution Bulletin.

Only about 1,000 sperm whales – the world’s biggest toothed whales – are thought to live in the Mediterranean. They live for up to 60 years and are often killed after getting caught in nets or being hit by ships.

Now another man-made danger has been detected. “These animals feed in waters near an area completely flooded by the greenhouse industry, making them vulnerable to its waste products if adequate treatment of this industry’s debris is not in place,” warned de Stephanis.

• This article was amended on 10 July 2014 to clarify a statement about the amount of plastic waste generated by the Almeria greenhouses.

Gray whale dies bringing us a message - with stomach full of plastic trash

Countries taking a prime stance against Shopping Bag Syndrome; 

Since the early 1990’s and beginning of the Millennium governments around the world have taken quite a significant stance against the production and selling of shopping bags. Some countries have banned plastic shopping bags whereas others have implemented a charge. These charges have been welcomed by many people although not everyone is pleased..  International Animal Rescue Foundation’s Marine Conservation Team surveyed 100 shoppers at Tesco, J.S Sainsburys, Morrison’s, ASDA and the Cooperative Group when we released our last marine article in 2013 relating to marine pollution.

Out of the 100 shoppers questioned that had mostly a shopping cart filled with bags the majority were not pleased that they had to purchase from five to ten or more shopping bags valued at around 0.02p and 0.04p. International Animal Rescue Foundations Marine Conservation Unit questioned the Store Managers of which neither they nor their staff that worked on the checkouts were actually made aware as to why customers were being charged for plastic bags. On surveying the stores main communications boards there was no customer feedback stating why charges were introduced and the dangers plastic bags cause to the environment. However two stores I.e Tesco and the Morrison’s it was observed small caged bins that had free second hand used bags were in place for the public to use or place their old unwanted bags into to be reused by the public. International Animal Rescue Foundation welcomes this initiative although its very limited and many stores across the United Kingdom and Germany did not have such bins in place for second hand bags to be used.

Since this small survey International Animal Rescue Foundation has been working on trial posters of which they hope to educate not only the staff within these large hypermarkets but also the public. Education and awareness is key to International Animal Rescue Foundations mission statement. If customers can be made “visually” aware of the impacts throw away plastic bags have to the environment then its hoped a change in the way public use bags is seen. We can all only but try. Or lobby for a complete ban on plastic bags.

Rwanda takes the lead; 

A Danish company has built a plant for biodegradable packaging in the Rwandan capital Kigali. The hilly, green country is a shining example for other African countries because of its total plastic bag ban. Rwandan entrepreneurs, however, don’t believe it’s the optimal solution. “Africa needs a recycle system.”

Not only do countless bags make streets, roadsides and parks of many African countries look awful, they also pollute the environment. They clog the drains and choke the soil. Many sea turtles die after eating bags that probably look like jellyfish to them. And until recently eating dumped plastic bags was the cause of death for 70 per cent of all cattle in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott. Finally the most shocking fact is that – depending on thickness – plastic bags dumped in the environment may take between 20 and 1000 years before breaking down.

Many African governments are now looking at the clean streets of Rwanda with admiration as all plastic bags have been banned since 2008. Mauritania and Mali followed with a ban in 2012. Many other African countries are trying to ban the import and production of bags made of very thin plastic and some are considering a wider ban.

‘Products in paper bags are less attractive’

Rwandese entrepreneurs doubt whether a total bag ban is the best solution. “Although I’m proud of our clean streets, for an entrepreneur like me the bag ban is a nightmare”, Rwandese supermarket owner Emmile Mulega (44) says. The brown paper bags he needs to use are more expensive and less attractive. “Customers want to see what they buy. Therefore products in paper bags are less attractive.”
According to the Rwandan businessman the paper bags are particularly not suitable for wrapping meat. “Before you get home, the bag is completely wilted. But currently we don’t have any choice.” Mulega believes that some products just need plastic packaging. A recent report on France24 showed Rwandan bakers complaining about paper bags tearing up too easily causing the bread it’s supposed to protect to spoil too soon.

A fully biodegradable packaging plant in Kigali

It’s for these reasons that the Danish company Field Advice has started the construction of a plant for fully biodegradable packaging in Kigali this year. “The ratio of ingredients can determine in advance when the plastic will decompose,” Field Advice-director Mark Remmy explains, while he shows how he pulverizes a so-called oxo-biodegradable plastic fork between his fingers. “Rwanda is an extremely interesting market for our company because it ensures a great demand. “Rwandans face great difficulty to transport groceries in a paper bag during the rainy season for example.” Also, the production of a paper bag consumes more water and energy than an oxo-biodegradable bag.

Supermarket owner Mulega supports the idea of biodegradable packaging, but adds that Africa needs a waste recycling system as well. “Lots of plastic packaging still enters our country because of the large amount of imported goods. We should collect and reuse this trash. This would not only benefit the environment but also create employment opportunities.”

Countries that are taking the lead in banning Plastic Bag Syndrome;

England

In 2007, Modbury became the first town to ban the plastic bag in Britain, where 13 billion plastic bags are given away every year. If customers forget to bring their own, reports the Times Online, “a range of bags made of recycled cotton with organic and fairtrade certification will be available from other outlets”.. Other cities have followed suit, some just a few months ago, and there are efforts to make London plastic bag-free by the time the Olympics come around in 2010. According to the Daily Mail, “Londoners use 1.6billion plastic bags a year – for an average of just 20 minutes per bag.”

Mexico

Mexico City adopted a ban last summer—the second major city in the western hemisphere to do so.

India

India seems to be taking the lead in bans on plastic bags, although enforcement is sometimes questionable. Cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Karwar, Tirumala, Vasco, Rajasthan all have a ban on the bag.

Burma

A ban went into effect (with little notice) in Rangoon late last year. In neighboring China, the use of plastic bags is restricted.

Bangladesh

Plastic bags have been banned in Bangladesh since 2002, after being found to be responsible for the 1988 and 1998 floods that submerged most of the country.

Rwanda

The country, which has had a ban on plastic bags for years, has a reputation for being one of the cleanest nations not only on the continent, but in the world. Now that’s pretty classy!

Australia

Sydney’s Oyster Bay was the first Australian suburb to ban plastic bags. Twelve towns in Australia are now said to be plastic bag-free—an effort to cut down on the estimated 6.7 billion plastic bags used in Australia every year.

Taxed, not banned

Plenty of other places have chosen not to ban plastic bags, but to discourage them through financial means. There have been taxes on plastic bags since before 2008 in Italy, Belgium, and Ireland, where plastic bag use dropped by 94 percent within weeks of the 2002 ban. In Switzerland, Germany, and Holland, the bags come with a fee. And, in one lonely case (that I could find) of a reversal on a ban after it was implemented, Taiwan had a ban on plastic bags for three years before it lifted it in 2006.

And if this is not a fare shed load of information about plastic bags and the damage they cause to the environment, fauna and flora please do remember before you even purchase a plastic bag rather than “reusing” the bag you only purchased yesterday or just threw away then take this information below on board.

  1. According to MSN, the production of plastic bags creates enough solid waste per year to fill the Empire State Building two and a half times.
  2. The Worldwatch Institute estimates that in the U.S. alone, an estimated 12,000,000 barrels of non-renewable petroleum oil are required to produce the 100 billion bags consumed annually. That’s over $500,000,000 the country could be saving to put towards clean, green energy.
  3. They can take from 400 to 1,000 years to decompose but their chemicals residues remain for years after that.
  4. Over 100,000 marine animals, including highly intelligent, adorable sea turtles, whales and dolphins, die every year because of plastic bags.

 Conclusion

Plastic bag syndrome as we call it must be addressed by every government globally. On a personal note we as conservationists do not believe the plastic bag tax is helping at all. Yes the price of paying for bags has put some people off. However eight out ten consumers still do not reuse their plastic bags. They later end up on the garbage tip, floating in some stream or within our already threatened marine ecosystems polluting the seas more and killing off vulnerable species of aquatic wildlife large and small. As the planets populations grow so will the need for more bags. Every five seconds a alone some 100,000 plastic bags are churned out globally without a care in the world of what damage they are inflicting to the environment from careless consumers. International Animal Rescue Foundation calls for a stricter response to this issue of which we believe a mandatory fine should be brought into punish consumers that carelessly do not reuse their bags or just throw them into the garbage. More stricter fines and/or imprisonment must be looked into as well with regards to “all waste that is recyclable not being recycled”.. If you think about it plastic bag syndrome is no different to that of fly tipping.

International Animal Rescue Foundation will be monitoring hypermarkets all over Europe this coming 2015. The conservation company will also be asking Managers and CEO’s of large supermarket chains to include our posters within their stores where there is high yet slow customer traffic such as tills and customer service points. Lastly as of next year we will be showcasing a video on our road shows around Europe aimed at Store managers and Chief Executive Officers in the hope they will do more “in store” to help the public help sustain our wildlife.

 

Thank you for reading. 

 

Dr Josa C. Depre. 

Chief Environmental Officer

info@international-animalrescue-foundation.org.uk 


Top Five Causes of Species Extinction

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We are losing many species of animals and plants every year at quite a staggering rate never before seen since records began. Goodeid, Baxter’s Toad, Brome des Ardennes, Borrachero, Pele Clermontia, Bastard Gumwood, Hawaiian Crow, Lago Yojoa Palm, La Palma Pupfish, Fuzzyflower Cyrtandra, Père David’s Deer, Blue Cycad, Oahu Deceptor Bush Cricket, Black Soft-shell Turtle and the Scimitar-horned Oryx are just some of the sixty nine species of plant, aquatic mammal and land mammal that have already gone extinct within the wild. Captive breeding programs have been established for some however its unlikely any release back into the wild while habitat destruction, poaching and human over-population continues to increase at a copious rate.

While International Animal Rescue Foundation has recognized the vast decrease of say primates there has been many botanical specimens gone extinct within the wild of which animals and humans depend on. Habitat fragmentation, increased agricultural practices, land loss for ranching, mining or pollution have played pivotal roles killing species of plant and animals off.

Just in Africa alone we have already lost Acalypha rubrinervis, Byttneria ivorensis, Coffea lemblinii, Dryopteris ascensionis, Erythrina Saint Helena Heliotrope – Heliotropium pannifolium, Saint Helena Olive – Nesiota elliptica, Oldenlandia adscensionis, Orchidea eupolyanthis, Pausinystalia brachythyrsum, Sporobolus durus and Saint Helena Ebony – Trochetiopsis melanoxylon all of which are botanical specimens.

Within the Americas we see more extinctions of plants; Roan Mountain False Goat’s-beard, Rio de Janeiro Myrtle, Santa Cruz Bryophyte, Bigleaf Scurfpea and some of the twenty two specimens that have gone extinct within the wild. However its not all just doom and gloom yet. To date we have lost since records began a total of eight hundred and twenty eight species of plant and mammal. Species of plant and mammal that are extinct within the wild stand at sixty nine. International Animal Rescue Foundation notices that many reptiles specifically toads and frogs that are in serious danger of extinction. Tree frogs being the most critically endangered.

Clarke’s Banana Frog, Adelophryne maranguapensis, Tusked Frog, Knysna Banana Frog, Nigeria Banana Frog, Natal Banana Frog and Uluguru Banana Frog are some of the thirty species of frogs known worldwide that a nearing extinction. The vast majority of frogs just listed here are “critically endangered”.

International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa Africa has listed the TOP 5 causes of species extinction;

In at number one

Habitat Fragmentation;

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While International Animal Rescue Foundation is against all hunting within the wild or on private land we cannot lay blame to hunters being the main reason for species extinction. Hunters do not hunt plants do they? more traffickers hunt them and only specific plants of which you can read more within the botanical trafficking section.

While most people immediately think of things like meteors or global warming as major causes of extinction, the main source of modern animal and plant extinctions is far less dramatic. Since the dawn of human industry, the leading cause of extinctions has been loss of habitat — animals finding their homes destroyed to the point at which their survival is no longer possible. Habitat fragmentation will remain the sole cause of species extinction and sadly its increasing at a staggering rate.

Pretty much all species are suffering from a loss of diversity. Amphibians are arguably the hardest hit, but mammals, birds and marine life are also experiencing a share of trouble. Intrusions like habitat loss, pollution and climate change are being felt around the globe at historically unprecedented levels. All of this adds up to what could potentially pan out to be the sixth mass extinction on the planet. And that doesn’t bode well for people, as the human population increasingly depends on fewer and less genetically diverse species to meet our ever-increasing needs.

Amphibian extinction remains the largest threat thus far but how does this threat actually impede on human life too?

In wetlands, a decrease in amphibians can cause an increase in insects, their main prey. Other animals that feed on amphibians or their larvae can face a food shortage when amphibian numbers decline. These include birds, reptiles and mammals.

Even more alarming, some researchers say that the same chemicals that cause sexual abnormalities in amphibians have a link to humans. Some studies in the ’90s said men’s lower sperm counts could be due to endocrine disrupters, but these studies are controversial. Other controversial research linked these chemicals to lower IQ scores. More accepted research showed that ultraviolet radiation, the same radiation that affects amphibians, may also be causing greater incidence of skin cancer and eye disease in humans. Humans learn from other species, particularly in developing new drugs, but can’t do so if the species disappear.

In at number two

Agriculture; 

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Agriculture farming for vegetables and cattle poses quite a significant risk to animals and native wild plants too. While some may believe arable farming is a major threat, it actually poses a lesser threat than that of livestock farming. Livestock farming is also responsible for large greenhouse gas emissions that increases climate change thus having an adverse reaction onto our species of birds and land mammal but more importantly our aquatic life too. Increase in ocean temperatures eventually forces fish and their prey to move to cooler waters, or induces breeding by far more earlier placing young at danger.

The global livestock sector is growing faster than any other agricultural sub-sector. It provides livelihoods to about 1.3 billion people and contributes about 40 percent to global agricultural output. For many poor farmers in developing countries livestock are also a source of renewable energy for draft and an essential source of organic fertilizer for their crops.

But such rapid growth exacts a steep environmental price, according to the FAO report, Livestock’s Long Shadow –Environmental Issues and Options. “The environmental costs per unit of livestock production must be cut by one half, just to avoid the level of damage worsening beyond its present level,” it warns.

When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.

And it accounts for respectively 37 percent of all human-induced methane (23 times as warming as CO2), which is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants, and 64 percent of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain. Please do take this point on board with regards to Rhino farming. With such a high demand for Rhino horn we would require a increase in Rhino framing. Rhinos are ruminants and produce large piles of manaure.

Livestock now use 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface, mostly permanent pasture but also including 33 percent of the global arable land used to producing feed for livestock, the report notes. As forests are cleared to create new pastures, it is a major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America where, for example, some 70 percent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing.

Land and water

At the same time herds cause wide-scale land degradation, with about 20 percent of pastures considered as degraded through overgrazing, compaction and erosion. This figure is even higher in the drylands where inappropriate policies and inadequate livestock management contribute to advancing desertification.

The livestock business is among the most damaging sectors to the earth’s increasingly scarce water resources, contributing among other things to water pollution, euthropication and the degeneration of coral reefs. The major polluting agents are animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and the pesticides used to spray feed crops. Widespread overgrazing disturbs water cycles, reducing replenishment of above and below ground water resources. Significant amounts of water are withdrawn for the production of feed.
Livestock are estimated to be the main inland source of phosphorous and nitrogen contamination of the South China Sea, contributing to biodiversity loss in marine ecosystems.

Meat and dairy animals now account for about 20 percent of all terrestrial animal biomass. Livestock’s presence in vast tracts of land and its demand for feed crops also contribute to biodiversity loss; 15 out of 24 important ecosystem services are assessed as in decline, with livestock identified as a culprit.

If we do not start to practice more greener methods of agriculture we will only lose more species of plant and mammals. This in turn will not just affect animals globally but would also have quite an adverse reaction on to humans. Remember we rely on amphibians for instance to keep insect populations down. Bats and birds too. Without them we will suffer.

In at number three

Human Over-population;

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Human growth + need for more natural resources + deforestation for grazing and food = land loss and animal extinction. That’s about as simple as this majorly large problem can be narrowed down into one sentence. But just how bad is human over-population affecting wildlife?

Taking America as our first prime example. There is a total of twelve species of animals affected just by human over population. Figures for the 2012 census placed the number of people living within America at a whooping 313.9 million. From 1991 there were some 219.9 million people within America. From 1991 figures increased dramatically that saw in 2002 212.1 million people within America. Since 2002 figures have shot up and they do not look set to decrease either. This rapid increase of human over population has placed twelve species of native American mammals in danger of nearing extinction.

Florida panther, Atlantic blue fin tuna, Loggerhead sea Turtle, Sandplain gerardia (botanical specimen), Lange’s metalmark butterfly, Mississippi gopher frog, White River spinedace, Polar bear, Gulf sturgeon and the San Joaquin kit fox have all been noted as seriously under threat from mass human growth just within the United States of America alone. As the human population grows and the rich countries continue to consume resources at voracious rates, we are crowding out, poisoning and eating all other species into extinction. With the world population hitting 7 billion. The 10 species represent a range of geography, as well as species diversity — but all are critically threatened by the effects of human population. Some, like the Florida panther and Mississippi gopher frog, are rapidly losing habitat as the human population expands. Others are seeing their habitat dangerously altered — like the small flowering sandplain gerardia in New England — or, like the bluefin tuna, are buckling under the weight of massive overfishing. Still others, like the polar bear, are facing extinction because of fossil fuels driving catastrophic global warming.

Below are some startling facts on human over population released this July on Wold Population Day.

  1. As of 1 January 2014, the world’s population was estimated to be 7,137,661,030, and increases by 2.3 people every second.
  2. The total number of people who have ever lived has been estimated by the Population Bureau to be around 108 billion.
  3. The world population is estimated to have reached one billion in 1804, with two, three and four billion in 1927, 1960 and 1974 respectively.
  4. These figures mean that about one fifteenth of all the people who have ever lived are alive today.
  5. Vatican City (800) and Nauru (9,378) are the states with the lowest populations.
  6. 30% of the world’s population generally eat with chopsticks.
  7. China, India, USA, Indonesia, Pakistan and Brazil account for half the world’s people. More than one in three people are Chinese or Indian.

The human population is now so large that the amount of resources needed to sustain it exceeds what is available at current consumption patterns,” said Mr. Achim Steiner, the executive director of the United Nations Environment Program in 2007. According to the Global Footprint Network (GFN), “Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.5 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year.

…Turning resources into waste faster than waste can be turned back into resources puts us in global ecological overshoot, depleting the very resources on which human life and biodiversity depend.”

According to GFN, this overshoot is having a drastic effect on the world’s flora and fauna: “The threats facing the rich array of plant and animal life on the planet seem greater than at any time in modern history. Problems such as climate change, water shortages, overharvesting and habitat disruption – symptoms of human pressure on the planet’s finite resources – are driving down wildlife populations worldwide.”
Harvard Professor E.O. Wilson estimates that, “…on the land at least and on a worldwide basis, species are vanishing 100 times faster than before the arrival of Homo sapiens.” He adds that, “Today as human populations expand and alter the natural environment, they are reducing biological diversity to its lowest level since the end of the Mesozoic era, 65 million years ago.”

Read AWI’s Human Overpopulation brochure about the impacts of human population and consumption on the natural environment and ways each individual can make a difference by consuming less, consuming differently, and conserving more.

In at number number four

Deforestation;

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Deforestation is clearing Earth’s forests on a massive scale, often resulting in damage to the quality of the land. Forests still cover about 30 percent of the world’s land area, but swaths the size of Panama are lost each and every year. The world’s rain forests could completely vanish in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation.

Forests are cut down for many reasons, but most of them are related to money or to people’s need to provide for their families.The biggest driver of deforestation is agriculture. Farmers cut forests to provide more room for planting crops or grazing livestock. Often many small farmers will each clear a few acres to feed their families by cutting down trees and burning them in a process known as “slash and burn” agriculture.

Logging operations, which provide the world’s wood and paper products, also cut countless trees each year. Loggers, some of them acting illegally, also build roads to access more and more remote forests—which leads to further deforestation. Forests are also cut as a result of growing urban sprawl. Not all deforestation is intentional. Some is caused by a combination of human and natural factors like wildfires and subsequent overgrazing, which may prevent the growth of young trees.

Deforestation has many negative effects on the environment. The most dramatic impact is a loss of habitat for millions of species. Seventy percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes. Deforestation also drives climate change. Forest soils are moist, but without protection from sun-blocking tree cover they quickly dry out. Trees also help perpetuate the water cycle by returning water vapor back into the atmosphere. Without trees to fill these roles, many former forest lands can quickly become barren deserts.

Removing trees deprives the forest of portions of its canopy, which blocks the sun’s rays during the day and holds in heat at night. This disruption leads to more extreme temperatures swings that can be harmful to plants and animals. Trees also play a critical role in absorbing the greenhouse gases that fuel global warming. Fewer forests means larger amounts of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere—and increased speed and severity of global warming. The quickest solution to deforestation would be to simply stop cutting down trees. Though deforestation rates have slowed a bit in recent years, financial realities make this unlikely to occur.

A more workable solution is to carefully manage forest resources by eliminating clear-cutting to make sure that forest environments remain intact. The cutting that does occur should be balanced by the planting of enough young trees to replace the older ones felled in any given forest. The number of new tree plantations is growing each year, but their total still equals a tiny fraction of the Earth’s forested land.

As one can see here deforestation is related significantly to human over population of which remains the number one threat not just to animals but to ourselves too. Many people forget this key point. Should deforestation continue at such a high rate it will have adverse effects onto human health. We will lose many species of “medicinal plants” that pharmaceutical giants rely on producing many non-synthetic medications for humans, This would mean more animals would be required for pharmacology experimentation’s using synthetic medications.

Even if deforestation was to stop today animals released back into the environment from protective captivity would still not survive. Here’s why below;

Even if deforestation in the Amazon were to miraculously be halted tomorrow, and of course it will not be, a whole legion of creatures that have been scarred by its impacts would go extinct anyway. That’s the finding of a depressing new study that shows how animals who lose their habitats don’t die off immediately, but instead start winding down a multigenerational, often irreversible death spiral.

When species lose their natural habitat to deforestation and other causes, they don’t immediately disappear. Instead, they gradually die off over several generations, racking up an “extinction debt” that must eventually be paid in full. New research shows that the Brazilian Amazon has accrued a heavy vertebrate extinction debt, with more than 80 percent of extinctions expected from historical deforestation still impending.
As such, there are a number of animals still living in the Amazon today that will almost certainly perish in coming years, no matter what we do. Here are some of those not expected to survive: White-cheeked spider monkey, Rio Branco antbird, Tree ocelot. 

Deforestation entwines with habitat fragmentation, agriculture and human over population.. …Sadly there will be no end until the global governments take much harsher steps to control the rate of land loss. Below are some startling facts on deforestation:

Deforestation Facts; 

  • Facts 1: Forests cover 30% of the earth’s land.
  • Facts 2: It is estimated that within 100 years there will be no rainforests.
  • Facts 3: Agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation
  • Facts 4: One and a half acres of forest is cut down every second.
  • Facts 5: Loss of forests contributes between 12 percent and 17 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. (World Resources Institute)
  • Facts 6: If the current rate of deforestation continues, it will take less than 100 years to destroy all the rainforests on the earth.
  • Facts 7: The rate of deforestation equals to loss of 20 football fields every minute.
  • Facts 8: There are more than 121 natural remedies in the rain forest which can be used as medicines.
  • Facts 9: According to Rainforest Action Network, the United States has less than 5% of the world’s population yet consumes more than 30% of the world’s paper.
  • Facts 10: The over exploitation of forests is making it extremely difficult to replant a new ecology.
  • Facts 11: 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon forest.
  • Facts 12: Up to 28,000 species are expected to become extinct by the next quarter of the century due to deforestation.
  • Facts 13: 25% of cancers fighting organisms are found in the amazon.
  • Facts 14: 13 million hectare per year in South America and Africa and south East Asia is converted from a forest to an agriculture land.
  • Facts 15: Deforestation has considerably stopped in places like Europe, Pacific, North America and some parts of Asia due to lack of agricultural land.
  • Facts 16: Half of the world’s tropical forests has already been cleared.
  • Facts 17: 4500 acres of forests are cleared every hour by forest fires, bull dozers, machetes etc.
  • Facts 18: Poverty, over-population and unequal land access are the main causes of man- made deforestation.
  • Facts 19: The total world forest loss till date is 7.3 million hectares per year.
  • Facts 20: 1.6 billion people across the globe depend on forest products for their livelihoods there by adding more to deforestation.
  • Facts 21: Almost half of world’s timber and up to 70% of paper is consumed by Europe, United States and Japan alone.
  • Facts 22: Industrialized countries consume 12 times more wood and its products per person than the non-industrialized countries.
  • Facts 23: The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population but consumes more than 30% of the world’s paper.
  • Facts 24: Fuel wood in sub Saharan African countries is consumed up to 200% times more than the annual growth rates of the trees. This is causing deforestation, lack of timber resources and loss of habitat for the species living in it.
  • Facts 25: Trees are important constituents of the ecosystem by absorbing carbon.
  • Facts 26: Soil erosion, floods, wildlife extinction, increase in global warming, and climate imbalance are few of the effects of deforestation.
  • Facts 27: Worldwide more than 1.6 billion people rely on forests products for all or part of their livelihoods.
  • Facts 28: Tropical forests, where deforestation is most prevalent, hold more than 210 gigatonnes of carbon.
  • Facts 29: According to Forestry Department Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about half the world’s tropical forests have been cleared or degraded.
  • Facts 30: Tropical rainforests which cover 6-7% of the earth’s surface, contain over half of all the plant and animal species in the world!
  • Facts 31: Deforestation affects water cycle. Trees absorb groundwater and release the same into the atmosphere during transpiration. When deforestation happens, the climate automatically changes to a drier one and also affects the water table.
  • Facts 32: The world’s forests store 283 billion tons of carbon present in the biomass.
    The online business
  • Fact 33: Money to save trees is majorly collected online.
  • Fact 34: One can save up to 20 square feet of forest with online contributions thereby conveniently prevent deforestation.
  • Fact 35: Over 4 million tons of junk is created online by spamming.
  • Fact 36: 41 pounds of these junk mails are sent to almost every adult in the United States.
  • Fact 37: 44% of the junk mail goes unopened.
  • Fact 38: People in America spend more than 275 million dollars to dispose junk mails.
  • Fact 39: The paper industry is fourth largest in producing greenhouse gas thereby majorly contributing to deforestation.
  • Fact 40: On an average, a person in the United States uses more than 700 pounds of paper every year.
    Take the right action
  • Fact 41: A lot of paper and cardboard is used unnecessarily for packing. This means more tree felling.
  • Fact 42: Re- use paper and plastic bags to discourage deforestation.
  • Fact 43: Use canvas or paper bags as another alternative.
  • Fact 44: Pick products which require less packaging.
  • Fact 45: Be creative and mail manufacturers telling them to use eco-friendly products. Show them your deforestation knowledge by highlighting certain important facts using statistics.
  • Fact 46: Sign effective petitions that work and help reduce deforestation.
  • Fact 47: Support eco-friendly companies buy buying their products that promise more durability in an inexpensive way.
  • Fact 48: Be active and plant trees- it can be at your homes, backyards or you can join any organization keen on stopping deforestation.
  • Fact 49: Reduce the consumption of beef to tone down the pressure to clear more forests for the cattle.
  • Fact 50: Boycott companies by supporting organizations that care about the environment at the cost of fighting back for the evergreen trees.
  • Fact 51: Seek knowledge on deforestation and how can you prevent it from happening by reading newspapers, magazines, internet, TV shows. Spread the word and make it go viral.

whataboutmeiarf

To fell or not to fell is not up to the woodcutter, but surely depends on you. Be the change and eliminate the disturbing statistics on deforestation. It takes not guts, but love and compassion for nature to save trees from being felled.

In at number 5

Poaching and Hunting; 

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Hunting while it is permitted and governed by worldwide environmental authorities, ministries and agencies such as the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species Wild Flora and Fauna sees a “controlled and regulated” practice of “sustainable harvesting” or trophy sport killing that is not sustainable harvesting as it is only for the game of sport. Hunting for food is again “controlled” and limits or quotas are implemented as to what animals can be hunted, when and where at what time of the day and night. The “quota” is in place so that hunters do not kill too many species of animals that could see them pushed into extinction. Cites is the main governing body that hunters have to abide too, least forgetting the countries that they hunt within.

For example in South Africa if hunters wanted to slaughter hundreds of Rhinoceros every year and coupled with the poaching crisis we’d not have any Rhino left roaming within South Africa that is custodian to the worlds largest Rhino population at just under 18,800. One white Rhino is hunted per year by one individual hunter. The hunter within that year is not allowed to hunt anymore Rhino when he or she has shot dead the Rhino.

3-4 Black Rhino hunts are permitted by law within their range. South Africa and Namibia are two examples. Limitations on black Rhino hunts are in place due to the species verging extinction. however their populations are now on the increase. Every year a hunter who is able to obtain a permit for black Rhinos can not hunt no more than one and laws govern state that in that year no more than four Rhino are allowed to be hunted. There is no “restriction” with regards to the white Rhino of which one hunter as explained can hunt one white Rhino per year. Permits are freely handed out to hunt white Rhino however as explained only 3-4 permits are handed out per year and no more to hunt black Rhino.

While hunting has been seen to reduce wildlife specimens hunting is not actually the primary cause for wildlife depletion which I have explained above from 1-4.  Poaching is not regulated – they basically take what they want, when they want regardless of whether there are laws in place. Poachers have decimated many African wildlife species such white Rhino, Lion, Elephant, Pangolin and more. So lets split this into two categories.

Hunting; 

As we know it the Dodo, Tasmanian Tiger, Passenger Pigeon, Great Auk, Quagga, Falkland Island Wolf, Zanzibar Leopard, Caribbean Monk Seal, Carolina Parrot, Atlas Bear, Toolache Wallaby, Sea Mink, Bubal Hartebeest and the Stellar’s Sea Cow have all be hunted into extinction. To date the named specimens above no longer remain within the wild or within protective captivity.

Hunting has been around since humans were placed onto Mother Earth. Extinction is not a new danger to animals either. Since the Ice Age humans pushed many animals from extant to extinction.

A new study has revealed that human hunters are responsible for wiping out the population of large animals in Ice Age. Sabre-toothed cats, huge kangaroos, and a leopard-sized marsupial lion are some of the animals that were pushed to extinction by human hunters during the Ice Age. The findings of the study have debunked the belief that climate change led to extinction of many ice age animals.

The study saw examination of the pattern of extinction for 177 species between 132,000 years and 1,000 years ago. Researchers found that most of the animals that time died because of increased human population.

“We consistently find very large rates of extinction in areas where there had been no contact between wildlife and primitive human races, and which were suddenly confronted by fully developed modern humans”, said Jens-Christian Svenning, professor at the Aarhus University in Denmark.

Svenning said at least 30% of the large species of animals was forced to extinction from all such areas. It was during the Pleistocene Epoch, when the last Ice Age occurred. This period is defined as the one that began 1.8 million years ago and lasted until around 11,700 years ago.
During the course of a little more than the last 100,000 years, modern man started to spread from Africa to all parts of the world.
The findings of the study suggested that modern man killed several large species when arrived in the new continents. The reason behind the extinction of many ice age animals could be either their population’s incapability to sustain human hunting or humans might have killed their prey. The researchers have reported their findings in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Had there been some laws or even Cites in the Ice Age it may have stopped such extinction occurring. We are talking about the Ice Age here though and no such governing bodies even existed or would have to be honest.

Scientists from the Universities of Stirling, Oxford, Queensland and the Wildlife Conservation Society warn that current hunting trends in Central African forests could result in complete ecological collapse.

The authors maintain that the current rate of unsustainable hunting of forest elephants, gorillas and other seed-dispersing species threatens the ability of forest ecosystems to regenerate, and that landscape-wide hunting management plans are needed to avoid an environmental catastrophe.

The study appears in the latest version of Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B. The authors include: K.A. Abernethy of the African Forest Ecology Group of Stirling University; L. Coad of the University of Queensland and the University of Oxford; G. Taylor of the University of Oxford; M. E. Lee of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit and University of Oxford; and Fiona Maisels of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the African Forest Ecology Group.

“Humans have lived in the forests of Central Africa for thousands of years, until recently practicing subsistence hunting for the needs of their communities,” said Kate Abernethy, lead author of the study. “Over the past few decades, this dynamic has drastically changed. Much of the hunting is now commercially driven, and species that play important ecological functions are being driven to local extinction.”
The researchers conducted a review of more than 160 papers and reports on the region’s wildlife declines, hunting trends, and land-use analyses by humans. The authors found troubling trends that threaten the very fabric of rainforest ecosystems. In particular, mammals such as forest elephants, gorillas, forest antelopes and others play a major role in seed dispersal for most tree species; the removal of these mammals by bushmeat hunters disrupts forest regeneration.

Furthermore, previously untouched swathes of forest are being penetrated by roads, and subsequently degraded by logging and agriculture. In other areas, forests are cleared and replaced by single-species plantations of oil palm, rubber trees, and crops for biofuels. The authors warn that such plantations greatly reduce areas available for seed dispersing wildlife.

“Another emerging problem for Central Africa’s forests is the migration of large numbers of people into remote forests, around the new plantations and the mining and logging camps,” said WCS Conservationist Fiona Maisels, a co-author on the study. “This population growth creates additional hunting pressures on previously lightly populated areas.”

The authors point out that good hunting management practices and planning must be included in any climate change strategy or land use plan in Central Africa. They add that efficiently managed multiple-use landscapes — combining protected areas alongside logging concessions — can maintain the seed-dispersing species while maintaining game species for hunting needs.

A top priority, the researchers assert, should be the protection of megafauna such as forest elephants and apex predators such as leopards in order to maintain intact ecosystems in Central Africa. Otherwise, the loss of wildlife will result in a disastrous spiral of forest degradation that will reduce the storage of carbon and the resilience of rainforests to climate change.

“Current climate models suggest that Central African rainforests may be more ecologically resilient to the short-term impacts of climate change than those of West and East Africa, or the Amazon,” said co-author Dr. Lauren Coad. “However, severe ecological changes below the forest canopy, driven by hunting, are already occurring. The removal of seed-dispersing megafauna such as elephants and apes could reduce the ability of forests to sequester carbon.”

“The clock is ticking on the future of large mammals in Central Africa’s Congo Basin Rainforest, and with them on the future of the forests themselves and all the people who depend on them,” said Dr. James Deutsch, Executive Director of WCS’s Africa Program. “The people, the forests, and the wildlife need an emergency effort to bring illegal and unsustainable hunting under control.” Much of the data analyzed for this study was collected with the support of the US Fish & Wildlife Service and USAID’s Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment.

So OK that’s more hunting for food but what about trophy hunting? 

Among the most coveted of the “Grand Slam,” or the most prestigious trophy animals, is the Brown Bear. The Kodiak Bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi) of Alaska represents a major trophy for hunters who come from all around the world to kill large males. This bear exceeds other subspecies in size, weight and skull size. These bears have been isolated since the end of the last Ice Age, and the abundant food supply of salmon runs, berry bushes and other edible plants in their habitat has produced this giant bear (Chadwick 1990). Trophy hunters pay $20,000 or more to private hunting guides for the privilege of shooting these bears. A recent study has revealed a potentially disastrous effect on the species of this trophy hunting. According to The Kingdom. Wildlife in North America, by the respected author and National Geographic Society correspondent Douglas Chadwick, “Continued harvesting of the biggest animals by trophy hunters has caused a decline in the average size of Kodiak Bears over the years” (Chadwick 1990). Thus, this record-size animal is gradually becoming smaller and smaller as a result of trophy hunting.

The pressure of hunters on some populations of Alaskan bears is so intense that it has altered the behavior of males, preventing their normal feeding on salmon runs. On Admiralty Island in southeastern Alaska, part of the Tongass National Forest, tourists watch female Brown Bears fishing with their cubs, but rarely see males because they have become so wary of people after years of being hunted; even females without cubs can be hunted on Admiralty Island (Crittenden 1997). The rich salmon rivers on this island are among the world’s most productive, and since clearcutting of timber has been banned, salmon thrive in the clear water. Salmon is an important portion of the diet of male bears, yielding a great deal of protein and helping to fatten them for the winter. By frightening the male bears from the salmon rivers, which they have fished for thousands of years, humans may be affecting the health, survivability and size of these bears. Each year more than 40 Brown Bears are killed on Admiralty, and hunters are lobbying to reopen hunting in areas such as Pack Creek that are now closed to protect the fishing spots (Hanson 1998). This island deserves to be declared a National Park, which would protect these bears from hunting.

Another effect of hunting male bears has recently been documented by Swedish and Norwegian biologists, who found that in areas where resident adult male Brown Bears had been killed to thin the population, bear cubs suffered very high mortality for several years until dominant males reoccupied the territory (O’Neil 1997). Male bears, who have traditionally been considered threats to cubs, may be a danger only to cubs they have not fathered. Thus, the killing of bears by sport and trophy hunters may also result in the deaths of hundreds of bear cubs.
Russian Brown Bears have been hunted heavily in recent years. When a prominent government official, Prime Minister Viktor S. Chernomyrdin, announced early in 1997 that he wanted to trophy hunt a Brown Bear, local guides bulldozed a path to the den of a sleeping female bear (Filipov 1997). Tractors plowed a campsite for a large tent with mobile kitchen and cafeteria, and the Prime Minister flew in by helicopter (Filipov 1997). Chernomyrdin, accompanied by 12 hunters, rode a skimobile to the site, roused the bear and killed her two cubs and the mother. This incident received much adverse publicity in Russia. When the Prime Minister was criticized for his lack of sportsmanship, he replied: “What’s wrong with that? Hunting of bears is not banned; it’s a normal thing . . . I’d like to watch those who are writing about this meet those bears eye to eye to see their reaction” (Filipov 1997).

In Greece and Turkey, where Brown Bears are avidly hunted in spite of their dwindling numbers, cubs orphaned when their mothers are killed are often sold to zoos or to gypsies who treat them abusively. This trade is illegal in both countries, and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has saved many of these gypsy bears, who are dragged through the streets with nose rings and made to perform tricks. WSPA has placed several hundred of these abused bears in large wooded compounds, unfettered for the first time in their lives. Some had to be euthanized because of severe infections that had caused them extreme pain and serious physical disabilities that they had endured for many years without veterinary treatment. The majority suffered the effects of malnutrition.

The animals trophy hunters seek–the finest specimens–are the very ones that should be left in the wild to maintain the species. Killing the largest specimens of a species, subspecies or population is likely to diminish it in size and survivability. This would seem elementary, but trophy hunters, state game departments, many in the Fish and Wildlife Service, the World Wildlife Fund and other organizations in favor of trophy hunting do not discuss or acknowledge this fact. Claims are made on behalf of trophy hunters that only old and non-breeding adults are killed, but this contention has been proven wrong in case after case. Brown and Grizzly Bears continue to breed until an advanced age. Other trophy animals have also been shown to be at their prime when shot.

Lions are a prime target of trophy hunters, who select the largest male specimens, especially those with enormous manes. Two filmmakers, Derek and Beverly Joubert, in producing their dramatic series, “Lions of Darkness” for the National Geographic Society, followed three exceptionally large males for a long period. These magnificent Lions spent most of their lives in a national park in Botswana, but made the fatal mistake of leaving the park and entering a wildlife management area where trophy hunting was allowed. All were shot within a short time at the prime of their lives by trophy hunters.

Trophy hunting took a tragic and highly controversial turn when the government of Tanzania sold trophy hunting rights for African Elephants at more than $4,000 per animal in the early 1990s. The 2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies this species as Endangered. The government claimed that the largest animals, which for trophy hunters were the most desirable, were not active breeding males, but past the breeding age and, therefore, “excess.” Tanzania issued 50 permits a year for trophy-hunted elephants (Brody 1994). At least four very tame bull elephants that had been studied for decades in Amboseli National Park in southern Kenya by biologist Cynthia Moss, author of two classic books, Echo of the Elephants and Elephant Memories, wandered into Tanzania in 1994, where they were shot at point-blank range by trophy hunters (Moss 1995). The hunters had received CITES permits from the Tanzanian government to export the tusks as hunting trophies (Moss 1995). Northern Hunting Enterprises, which organized the Tanzanian elephant hunt, is run by Rick Trappe, a German Tanzanian; the hunters were two Germans and an American (Brody 1994). One of the bulls killed, called “R.B.G.,” was 47 years old at the time of his death, based on aging of the jaw–not old in elephant years–and so habituated to vehicles that he could be easily approached to within a few feet (Moss 1995). Cynthia Moss said she was “devastated” by the loss of the animals, who had come to trust researchers, tourists and rangers. She stated: “The message they got from us was, ‘It’s OK, we’re not going to hurt you, you can trust us.’ Then one day they walk two kilometers into Tanzania, where they’d been going for most of their lives, and they’re blown away . . . I feel as if was lying to them” (Brody 1994). A spokesperson for the African Wildlife Foundation said: “The ethics of shooting these virtually tame animals is appalling. You can’t call this a hunt of any kind” (Brody 1994). Had R.B.G. not been shot, he would have lived another 18 years, according to Moss (Brody 1994).

These were among a relatively small number of large, old bull elephants left in East Africa, protected through the ivory slaughters of the 1980s by the presence of field researchers and tourists. The assertion that they were non-breeding males was refuted by Moss, who had documented that they were active breeders and, in fact, among the top breeding bulls in the Amboseli population (Brody 1994). This disputes the view that they were not contributing to the gene pool and were “excess,” worthy only of being used as targets. After protests and adverse publicity on television programs that reached the United States and elsewhere, Tanzania announced a ban on trophy hunting of elephants near the Tanzania/Kenya border on December 13, 1994, and initiated an investigation into the granting of permits to shoot the Amboseli bull elephants. It is hereby noted that trophy hunting has led to species decline even if regulated or non-regulated. Furthermore trophy hunting would not have been banned in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and Zambia had sufficient evidence proved that hunting was actually benefiting the entire gene pool and species of many animals. We would like to see hunters debate this however never seem too.

Poaching; 

Hunting is no different from poaching in reality. Poaching requires no permit. However it must never be confused with hunting. Poaching has fulled many trades from drug trafficking, people smuggling, arms trade down to prostitution. Poaching has seen many species of animals made extinct and is officially out of control within Africa.

Most rare and precious African fauna and flora species are on the verge of extinction, today more than in the past years following increased illegal trade in the past decade as global demand for these increases on daily basis.

Game poaching has been singled out as the greatest threat that could lead to the extinction of wild animals like elephants, leopards, Rhinoceros, gorillas and buffaloes among other African animals, making these species more endangered like never before.

The demand for lucrative elephant tusks, rhinoceros horns, game meat, skins and hides has been shifted to Africa making illegal poaching more lucrative as traffickers devise new tactics to elude wildlife authorities. Demand for aloe vera, cycads, plant succulents and other rare plant species found on the African continent, in the fast growing global cosmetic, food and beverage industries has doubled, threatening to wipe out these rare plants off the face of the earth if African countries don’t act fast to avert the situation.

Consequently, African states which haven’t acceded to the Lusaka Agreement on Cooperative Enforcement Operations Directed at Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora have been encouraged to do so if a united front to combat this illegal and criminal practice is to be formed.
This call was made by wildlife conservation experts and policy makers from different African countries during the regional 9th Governing council of the parties to the Lusaka agreement meeting held recently, in Kampala.

The Lusaka Agreement adopted in 1994 by east and southern African countries is a platform for these countries to unite and combat illegal trafficking and trade in wild fauna and flora, though some countries in the region have been adamant as far as acceding to and ratifying the agreement is concerned.

Three of the five east African Community member states, that is Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania have signed this agreement together with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), while Rwanda and Burundi are yet to sign the agreement which has listed, among other animals, Mountain Gorillas as one of those species most endangered and threatened into extinction by illegal poaching activities.

Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC are the only countries in the world with Mountain Gorillas and experts have warned that these tourist attractions could become extinct in the years to come if much more is not done to protect them from the wrath of poachers.
There are only 720 of these Mountain Gorillas, surviving today.

Recent research also reveals that demand for hardwood timber on the world market has led to illegal tree felling and timber logging activities in the equatorial forests which are home to Mountain Gorillas, putting their habitat at risk.

Speaking at the regional meeting the Kenyan minister for Tourism and Wildlife Conservation, Dr. Noah Wekesa blamed the increased poaching activities in the region to the proliferation of small arms accessed by poachers and on weak legislation saying that even if caught, such criminals are able to walk away scot-free since there are no strong laws to punish the culprits.

“We should amend our laws to strongly deal with these individuals harshly and on this we should bring on board as many nations as possible,” noted the Kenyan official.

The Ugandan Minister of state in charge of Tourism and Wildlife, Serapio Rukundo, called upon countries in the Great Lakes Region to dedicate more funds to wildlife conservation towards fighting and eliminating poaching and sensitizing the population on the dangers of poaching.
“There should be total abolition of illegal poaching. For example if Gorillas are killed, a lot of revenue is lost. Gorillas are core to tourism,” Rukundo said.

Rukundo said that the demand for wild animals such as Rhinos and Leopards is increasing yet little is being done to protect them.
Despite many African countries being parties to the Convention in Trade on Endangered Species (CITES), research shows that Africa still faces a bigger challenge in protecting natural resources and endangered species as the figures have remained the same since 1990.

Data from the Lusaka Agreement reveals that over 20.000 elephants are killed in Africa annually and the ivory worth over $20m is exported to China, USA and Japan where it has a lucrative ready market.

There is also a ready market for rhino horns, hippo teeth, primates like Gorillas and African monkeys, skins of leopards, zebras, cheetahs, giraffes, pythons, turtle shells, coral shells, snakes, crocodiles, birds and many other species found in Africa, grossing over $120m in illegal trade.

Participants singled out China’s over ambitious penetration into Africa and demand of raw materials such as minerals to feed its booming industrial sector as the current single threat to African bio-diversity and ecosystem which poses a great danger if not checked soon. China’s activities in Africa have of late been receiving scathing attacks from environmental activists as most of them disregard the environment.
The United Nations Environment Programme pledged support to African States towards enforcing and implementing environment laws and policies in the battle to conserve the environment and meeting global targets and goals such as MDG’s, the message from the UNEP Executive Director Marko Burglund reveals.

While we all focus on the “demand” for animal parts Dr Allmindinger a German Environmentalist stated that this is just the tip of a very large ice berg. “It’s not just demand within Asia that law enforcement teams must focus on, while civil wars rage out of control so will poaching as poaching is funding up to 67% of all illegal arms trades with the remainder government funding”..  Governments like America and Great Britain must remember that when they cease funding of arms to arm rebels its the wildlife that pays for it in the long run”..

Conclusion;

The five main threats above to our wildlife whether it be to animals or plants is increasing and will continue to rage out of control until we have eventually nothing left remaining within the wild. Although this predicted big extinction is by far years away when they are gone they are gone for forever. From mega-fauna to plants and reptiles to birds everything living and breeding is in dire need of protection. Human overpopulation will most certainly be the biggest threat to wildlife. Overpopulation is not going to decrease anytime soon and sadly Planet Earth does not grow any larger. Something eventually has to give. There is no easy answer to stem the vast wildlife hemorrhaging. All we can to do is continue to increase education, awareness, demand bans are implemented on hunting practices, one baby per family rule as seen within China and so on. If it takes drastic measures to reduce wildlife loss then so be it. If we lose we have became a very destructive force. Humans are a menace to themselves and its most likely humans will eventually one day end up killing themselves off due to greed and want.

Thank you for reading

Dr Josa C. Depre 

Environmentalist and Botanical Scientist. 

 

 

 

 


Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare – Please Help.

YESTERDAY we was made aware of Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare a stray dog facility that has been established as a non-profit in Romania. We were somewhat annoyed when reading that this incredibly underfunded organisation was promised so many things by UK Charity World Protection for Dogs and Cats in the Meat Trade formally known as No To Dog Meat that is headed by Ms Decadent

Promises of blankets, financial grants that would span the year to help purchase building materials and more was not kept too. In a cruel twist of ego-driven minds World Protection appeared to use Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare to promote their own charity. The three ladies from Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare were asked to don T-Shirts and say good words about the charity. Although a e300 donation was provided after their New Year Raffle that was it. Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare had written a good reference and wore the No To Dog Meat merchandise very excited in the hope they would then be receiving help much needed from this British Charity.

Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare were indeed a bit disappointed about the No To Dog Meat situation but in a weird way, and this is because of the general attitude towards dogs in Romania, they didn’t expect anything too amazing to come out of it. So its down to others to now repair this damage and loss of faith. Just think had the Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare exhausted all their funding in the hope they were going to receive six down payments and blankets plus a visit also promised that never materialized what would have happened to the dogs and cats? This is why many organisations take a very dim view on this very unprofessional behavior.

An investigation started with No To Dog Meat because they promised 6 months of rent, 250 euros x 6 months, which they asked people to donate to them, and money Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare never received. Plus they said on their page that they sent us many blankets in the past winter, and again those we never received nor did anyone from NTDM ask us if we need them or where to send them. Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare did receive the three hundred euros. They were also thankful of this however again what if with promises such as this would have hapepend had Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare spent the reminder of their funding on other organisation needs. Such as food but not blankets, Can you see where we are coming from? Please never promise something and use an impoverished organisation to better your own as that is immoral and bordering corrupt.

So as the news trickled in we decided to provide Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare with a $300 grant from our non-public private fund and so did the amazing Animal Buddy. Animal Buddy granted a $200 grant from their own back pockets.

The Chief Environmental Officer has as of today granted permission for International Animal Rescue Foundation to help the Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare organisation. This permission was granted after the Board of Directors witnessed with their own eyes the many ill, diseased and dying dogs that this wonderful Romanian organisation is working to help. Problem is Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare receive little if any public funding. To be precise they receive probably no more than ten to twenty euros if that a week. We hope our readers now understand why we and our Chief Environmental Officer and advocates at Animal Buddy were frustrated, saddened and angry that a British Charity had pledged to help them with blankets and funding to help with building materials that was never seen.

We are thankful that World Protection had granted a three hundred euro grant. However we will not tolerate “any” charity, or “organisation” that makes promises goodwill to very impoverished European organisations getting their hopes up to then see later on that it really was just a ploy to “promote No To Dog Meat” and to write a few good words for them in the hope No To Dog Meat would be chosen as a “Leading UK (political) charity registered with the Charities Commission. Political organisations are also in violation of the Charities Commissions as stated in the Terms and Conditions of registration.

Picture – 1 10.11.2013

Dog with distemper taken from the Costanza dog pound – he was just a baby. He died a month after Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare removed it. I’ve done a complete analysis Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare quoted, he didn’t gain more weight no matter what he was fed. In recent days, could no longer stand his feet. Sadly this poor pup had to be humanely euthanized.

plea

So we hope our readers can understand our frustrations and that of International Animal Rescue Foundation and Animal Buddy of which are not related or affiliated to the Icelandic Registered Company (2010).

International Animal Rescue Foundation has a strict code of mission and conduct. International Animal Rescue Foundation works primarily in conservation preservation. However and as explained on our last blog roll the organisation established its private grant mission when founded. This is to ensure the organisation continues to run effectively yet professionally. Investigations and welfare demands are met when needed and to fund all work carried out by the organisation. INTERNATIONAL ANIMAL RESCUE FOUNDATION WILL ONLY TAKE PUBLIC FUNDING in dire need of emergencies. See update on Funding African Wildlife Survival.

IN A MEETING today within France the organisation has decided that more help must be granted to the Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare. A few donations here and there is just not good enough. Have you ever visited Romania in the Winter? (click link)

International Animal Rescue Foundation France from its private non-public trust fund will be providing help to Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare to help purchase;

  • Bedding and blankets for strays taken of the streets 
  • Building materials to help construct the shelters and keep dogs and cats safe and secure warm and disease free 
  • Food to help fight infection, reduce malnutrition and increase overall health of dogs and cats rescued of the harsh streets of Romania
  • Medications to alleviate infectious disease and help with veterinary care 

Picture 2 – 1/11/2013 Dog taken of streets of Romania Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare helped. This poor little pooch had a serious eye infection of which the eye had to be removed. Thankfully and with the only three women that run Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare this dog was saved from a very near death.

infection

Winter is only just around the corner in Europe and from forcasts and model data we are set for a rather harsh one. Please be most kind to place a donation the Adapostul de caini din Baia Mare here;

PAYPAL: adapostuldecainibaiamare@yahoo.com
RON: RO 49 BTRL RONC RT02 4689 8501
EUR: RO 96 BTRL EURC RT02 4689 8501
SWIFT EUR: BTRL RO 22

Your donation will help dogs like this below;

rescued

 

Find a loving and ever happy home. Plus your always kept up to date with news here via their Facebook page

 

Thanks for reading everyone. Please share this article and please donate what you can.

 

Editor

Francis Mayel

Environmental News and Media.  


Can hunting lead to Species Extinction?

extinction-is-forever

Its a topic that we see spoken about within many animal rights and conservation debate forums, can hunting lead to species extinction? The answer is yes hunting can if not monitored lead directly to species extinction.

The many arguments that quote Cites can help stop species from extinction is not really valid. Cites – Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species does not cover the entire globe.

To date there are a total of one hundred and sixty member states (2013) that are bound by the Cites agreement. So in not so many words hunting can be (restricted) however this doesn’t mean that the member states have to agree with what Cites and other member states call for.  Cites was established back in the early 1970’s of which has seen many species of animals and plants preserved. One must remember though that hunting is not the real threat to animals, humans are via over populating that leads to mass habitat fragmentation in many ways. Increased farming, urbanization and depletion of natural resources such as wood have had quite a profound affect to many species of plant and animal.

Case Study #1 

Identified in 1826 by Cretzschmar – Oryx dammah.

(Extinct within the wild)..

O. dammah

scimitar_horned_oryx___igf_guillaume_roquesrogery

The Oryx dammah is only extinct within the wild. However, 14,636 km away the Oryx dammah is not extinct on US ranches?, 14,636 km on a private farm in Texas these adorable mammals are trophy hunted. One would think that the farm would actually create a captive breeding program to reintroduce species of O. dammah back in the wild of Northern Africa.

Back in the 1960’s a global captive breeding program was launched when it was finally documented that hunters had literally over hunted the species into extinction. At the same time the African black and white Rhino was bordering extinction however won a reprieve, sadly even they are no longer safe bordering tipping point.

In 2005 a captive breeding assessment showed around some 1,500 individuals of O. dammah within captivity. From 2000-2007 the species was formally identified as completely extinct within the wild. In Chad and Niger it was estimated that a mere five hundred individuals were known to still be living within the wild from 1985. Scimitar horned oryx (common name) is regionally extinct within Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia and the Western Sahara.

Hunters can agree or disagree. The evidence is clear today as it was back in the mid-1980’s when the species was formally assessed as (critically endangered).. Hunters are responsible for pushing species of mammal whether it be the Lion or the O. dammah into extinction. What really concerns International Animal Rescue Foundation’s conservation team is that environmental departments and enforcement agencies were fully aware many species of animals are threatened from human selfishness. Cites was not aware as the treaty was only drawn into practice back in the early 1970’s. Had the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species that hosts some 160 member states been made aware of the plight of the O. dammah its quite possible they’d still be living within the wild.

Environmental departments on the African continent knew the O. dammah populations were being seriously depleted. So did international agencies. The O. dammah could have been taken into a secure captive breeding program way sooner than the 1960’s and/or protective secure parks established and manned to secure the species within the wild.

Over-hunting and habitat loss, including competition with domestic livestock, have been reported as the main reasons for the extinction of the wild population of Scimitar-horned oryx. Hunters still to this very day propagate unproven data stating the O. dammah is still pretty much alive within the wild. You’ll find that most of these hunters are either cattle ranchers that have never visited our Mama Africa or keyboard hunters that take facts from various sources outdated or unproven.

International Animal Rescue Foundation – Africa located seven ranches inside of the United States that allows tropical hunting of the O. dammah. One ranch we contacted we asked if they would be willing to ship out to Africa a dozen O. dammah for breeding yet we was informed the cattle were only hunted for trophies. Even with money talking not one ranch was willing to comply. (Please note we do not own a captive breeding facility)…

Cattle Ranches in Texas sell for hunting O. dammah Yearling Heifer/Bull priced at $800.00USD, cows as $1,100.00USD and bulls up to 36 inches at $1,300.00USD.. All included – to hunt sets you back a staggering $3,250.00.

Regardless of what hunters state there has been no definite evidence of the survival of this species in the wild for more than 15 years. Yet speak to a few Texan hunters and they’ll inform you otherwise. Sporadic reports of animals sighted in Niger and Chad have never been substantiated, despite extensive surveys dedicated to detection of Sahelo-Saharan antelopes carried out in Chad and Niger in 2001-2004.

It is sadly a fact that hunting whether it be trophy hunting or hunting for bush-meat has contributed to the extinction of this species within the wild. Any hunter that states no species of animal has ever been pushed to extinction within the past twenty years other than the Dodo and Tasmanian Tiger are bare faced uneducated liars that lack any form of conservationism education as their only type of conservation is keeping numbers down commonly known as “hunting” – Its hardly conserving any form of animal.

Case Study #2 

Identified in 1866 by Milne and Edwards – Elaphurus davidianus

(Extinct within the wild)

 E. davidianus

pere's david

This species is listed as Extinct in the Wild, as all populations are still under captive management. The captive population in China has increased in recent years, and the possibility remains that free-ranging populations can be established some time in the near future. When that happens, its Red List status will need to be reassessed.

So here is that hunters (propaganda again) within many debates that we read within Animal Rights and conservation forums. The average hunter still argues that no animal has been pushed to extinction via hunting within the past two decades or less. Back in 1990 the Pere David’s Deer as it is commonly known was listed as (endangered). Cites that was well established back then knew this species of deer was facing extinction so did all member states as well as enforcement agencies and Department of Environments yet done nothing to preserve its status until now.

From 1994 the Pere David’s Deer was re-listed as endangered. From 1996 the species was listed again as (critically endangered). Sometime from 1980-1990 the species was re-listed as completely extinct within the wild of which prompted conservation agencies (only when we’d lost the species in the wild) to then begin a captive breeding program. Thankfully and after much success captive bred numbers have increased to over two thousand individuals. What was the main cause for their extinction within the wild?

The species became extinct in the wild due to habitat loss and hunting. The size of the reintroduced population was only 120 in 1993, although has increased to over 2,000 since that time. Low genetic diversity has been identified as a long-term threat by Zeng et al. (2007) and Yang et al. (2008). It is unclear how much native habitat remains on which E. davidianus can exist in a free-ranging state. Is it possible that the species can be reinstated to live freely within the wild? We believe so however to what extent they can remain (wild) within the (wild) is another story.

Would a reintroduction program of the Pere’s David Deer work though? I the Chief Environmental Officer Dr Josa Depre question this time again regarding many species of “horned” mammal that are currently threatened. So, we take a look at why the species E. davidianus was threatened? Firstly blaming US or any overseas hunters is not primarily to blame here. One only has to look at why the species was pushed into extinction to ascertain whether it is actually practical or even professional to reintroduce the species back into the wild of China from which it is endemic too.

Firstly I do not believe in the current climate of poaching and black market wildlife trade that reintroduction of the Pere’s David Deer is practical. E. davidianus was hunted mainly by Asian hunters legally and illegally. Hunted to extinction within the wild mainly for its fur, skeletons, meat, glands and derivatives. if one researches you’ll locate evidence of the Pere’s David Deer used in (TCM) commonly known as Traditional Chinese Medicine. This particular deer was hunted mostly for its glands and skeleton. Musk is wildly used within the far east as a Traditional Medicine and for the use of perfumes (internationally) that sell for hundreds of dollars. However and as shocking as this may read the Pere’s David Deer was hunted for its skeleton for the production of bone wines that is said to enhance sexual pleasure in both men and women.

However we cannot just lay blame here all on the Traditional Chinese Medicine trade. Hunters from all over the globe hunted the Pere’s David Deer mainly for its large and well formed antlers. Furthermore locals and Asians outside of China also hunted the deer for its meat known to be aromatic and tender.

Populations of the Pere’s David Deer are now increasing within (captivity).. Currently, there are a total of 53 herds of E. davidianus in China. Nine herds have fewer than 25 deer, 75.5% have fewer than 10 deer (Yang et al., 2003). Such a small herd size raise question about the effective population size and health of population genetics, since those herds are isolated and there is no gene exchange. The artificially dispersed E. davidianus herds are similar to a meta-population. The viability of the meta-population depends on the man-made gene exchange process by the managers.

Concerns via the International Union for the Conservation of Nature 2009:

A quarter of all antelope species are threatened with extinction.

The results, compiled by the Antelope Specialist Group of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission, show that out of 91 species of antelope, 25 are threatened with extinction. The status of several species has become worse since the last complete assessment of all antelopes in 1996.
“Unsustainable harvesting, whether for food or traditional medicine, and human encroachment on their habitat are the main threats facing antelopes,” says Dr Philippe Chardonnet, Co-Chair of the IUCN Antelope Specialist Group. “Most antelopes are found in developing countries which is why it’s critically important that we collaborate with local communities there since it is in their own interest to help preserve these animals.”

Five species of antelope are in the highest category of threat, Critically Endangered, including the Dama Gazelle (Nanger dama), Aders’ Duiker (Cephalophus adersi), the Saiga Antelope (Saiga tatarica), Hirola (Beatragus hunteri) and Addax (Addax nasomaculatus). The Scimitar Horned Oryx (Oryx dammah) is already Extinct in the Wild, but there are ongoing efforts to reintroduce it. The Dama Gazelle and Addax are both reduced to tiny remnant populations and highlight the dire situation for wildlife in the Sahelo-Saharan region.
A further nine species are in the next category of threat, Endangered, and another nine are classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Nearly 70 percent of antelope species are not threatened with extinction and some areas of the world are doing better than others in terms of antelope populations. India, for example, is home to four species of antelope and only one of them is currently regarded as threatened.
“Despite the pressure of living alongside 1.2 billion people, antelopes are doing well in India,” says Dr David Mallon, Co-Chair of the IUCN Antelope Specialist Group. “It is no coincidence that there is very little tradition of hunting in India and gun ownership is rare.”
Overall, populations are stable in 31 percent of antelope species and decreasing in 62 percent of antelope species. The Springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) a native of southern Africa is the only antelope species with a long-term increasing trend, mainly as a result of the game ranching industry.

Conclusion; 

Today I have written this article for the many hundreds of Animal Rights Activists and Conservationists in training that are constantly put down by hunters for being “thick” knowing little about what they are actually debating about. Frankly I could go on and submit here another twelve species of mammal and several species of plants that have gone extinct within the wild caused primarily by human hunters and traffickers. Whether it be hunting for food, hunting illegally for the animal parts trade or trophy hunting the answer to the title Can hunting lead to species extinction even with Cites established is quite rightfully yes. My main beef here is that Cites and Governmental Environmental Agencies are fully aware of the many species of land and aquatic mammal that are facing extinction or seriously threatened within the wild. Yet have done little or nothing at all to conserve threatened species. Hunting does and has lead to many species of plant and animals going extinct. The Lion, Rhinoceros, Pangolin, Cheetah, many species of bird and Sharks even trees are all facing extinction within the wild and its hunters, poachers and traffickers that are all to blame. Whether hunting is legal or not without adequate and professional monitoring “any species of mammal or plant” can quite quickly vanish from under our noses.

While the two species above and some sixty nine species are formally extinct within the wild they are at the moment the very lucky ones. Conservation programs are at their very best helping to conserve the known sixty nine species of animal and plant. However there are a total of eight hundred and twenty eight recognized species of animal, fish and plants that are already extinct.

Extinction Means Forever..

If you would like you a fact a sheet on this article or wish to know more please contact myself or my Senior Environmental Officer at – info@international-animalrescue-foundation.org.uk.

Dr Josa C. Depre 

Environmentalist and Botanical Scientist 

 

 

 

 


Proposal to Ban Lion Trophy Imports – Australia.

playingcubs

This year alone to date September 2014 we have seen a vast increase of Lions legally hunted for a trophy on some American, Canadian, European or Americas wall, not forgetting those poached illegally. Even with harsh lobbying from International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa and External Affairs Dan Ashe – USFWS Director still debates on whether it is in the best interests of Africa and its current environmental situation to ban Lion trophy imports from Africa into America. (Please click the (USFWS Director link to view the open letter to Dan Ashe)..

So while the United States and the European Union continue to debate on whether it is within the best interests of the African economy to ban importation of Lion trophy parts into the United States and the European Union, Australia is continuing to take the lead that could by the end of 22nd September see Lion trophy imports banned from import from Africa.

Please read the following (in full) and submit your proposals in full in detail to the listed environmental department no later than 22nd September 2014 at the earliest.

International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa has now completed their own proposal and will make this public in due course. By listing the Panthera leo as threatened by extinction we have more chance of preserving the species within Africa.

South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and other African countries where Lions are still present are not prepared to ban hunting of Lions. So if they are not prepared to ban hunting then we’ll continue to disrupt the trade in any country possible thus making it harder for hunters to move their trophies from Africa. Eventually we will see this disgusting sport banned.

Please do research before submitting ones proposal. While we do see that “some” eco-tourism business’s may be affected by any change of Appendix those that are, are helping to kill the Lion off directly or indirectly.

Read more here please;

The Australian Department of the Environment is considering whether its definition of the status of the African lion should be amended to a species threatened with extinction.

This would be the equivalent of listing it on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which would affect the regulation of the import and export of lion specimens, including hunting trophies.

Species are listed under CITES based on how threatened they have become through trade:

Appendix I includes species that are currently threatened with extinction (trade can only occur in limited circumstances i.e. conservation breeding, vintage specimens).

Move to tighten import code

Appendix II includes species that are not threatened with extinction now but could become so if trade is not regulated. (Trade in Appendix II species requires a CITES permit, issued only where it can be scientifically proven that trade is sustainable). Find out more here on the differences between each appendices.

Appendix III includes species that are threatened only in one country (trade requires CITES permits or certificates).

Lions are currently listed on Appendix II and are protected under Australia’s national environmental law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The Department said the proposal to introduce a stricter domestic measure for trade in African lions was in response to concerns about trade in lion specimens, including hunting trophies.

It said that if introduced, the proposal would restrict trade in lion specimens to those specimens that meet one of the following criteria:

  • The specimen was obtained prior to the listing of African lion on CITES; the specimen is being traded as part of an exchange of scientific specimens or for research purposes; or as part of a Cooperative Conservation Breeding Program (for live specimens).
  • Lion trophies could only be traded if they could be proven to be pre-Convention specimens (specimens obtained prior to 1976).

The Department said the proposal might have implications for businesses involved in wildlife trade and tourism, other industries and individuals.

It invited submission to help it identify the potential impacts of treating the African lion as an Appendix I species under Australian legislation.

Submissions must be received by 22 September 2014.

Please submit your proposals in full here no later than the above date. 

Please provide your written comments by AEST 5pm 22 September 2014 to:
The Director
Wildlife Trade Regulation
Department of the Environment
GPO Box 787
CANBERRA ACT 2601
wildlifetrade@environment.gov.au

News in Brief. 

It was alarming to read new research which suggests that the West African Lion may be on the verge of extinction, with just 645 members of the sub-species left in western and central Africa. The study, carried out by conservation group LionAid, finds there are no lions at all in 25 of the region’s countries, and the animal is virtually extinct in 10 others. In Nigeria, once home to a huge community of West African Lions, just 34 remain.

In total, the researchers believe no more than 15,000 wild lions remain across the whole of Africa. A study in 2004 estimated that up to 850 West African Lions remained in the wild. If LionAid’s new figures are correct, about a quarter of the population has been wiped out in less than a decade.

Analysis by Duke University used satellite imaging to confirm nearly 75 percent of Africa’s savannah has been destroyed for lion and wildlife populations, having been converted into farmlands or otherwise encroached on by humanity. The study suggested that there are now just 67 “lion areas” left, and only 10 of these are, in any sense, stable.

The Duke researchers offered a more optimistic estimation of the lion’s survival in Africa, suggesting the population numbers 32,000. However 6,000 of these are believed to be living in areas with a very high risk of local extinction, automatically reducing the estimate by about 19 percent.

Lions and Conservation

The overall picture suggests the inexorable decrease in lion population has been accelerated by a catastrophic rate of habitat loss and increasing human population. Evidence suggests the lion is a growing part of the illegal trade of wild animals and wild animal parts, and this could seal the species’ extinction unless immediate action is taken.

Global Financial Integrity’s (GFI’s) 2011 report on transnational crime in the developing world estimates the total value of the illegal animal trade market at $10bn (approximately £6.2bn). The primary recipients of illegally traded animal parts are the Chinese (who use them in traditional medicine), as well as Americans and countries in the European Union.

Born Free USA, an animal advocacy nonprofit organisation, believes the United States is the largest importer of African lion parts and specifically lion hunting trophies. Speaking to IBTimes UK, Adam Roberts, the executive vice president and co-founder of Born Free, stressed the need to increase protection for the African lion.

Lions and CITES

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between governments to ensure ill-advised and ruthless international trade in wild animals and plants does not lead to their extinction.
As part of its protective cover, CITES groups the traffic of animals and plants into three categories – Appendix I, Appendix II and Appendix III – with the first denoting the highest category of protection.

The African lion, Panthera leo, is listed in Appendix II, despite the evidence and the consensus of conservationists across the world, who believe pre-emptive action, taken now by uplisting the African lion to Appendix I, could make saving the species a much easier proposition.
A listing in Appendix I will not, unfortunately, eliminate all legal trade in lions. It will only serve to increase the regulations surrounding such trade.

“Trade will be more strictly controlled. In order to engage in trade of a species in Appendix I, there would have to be an export permit from the country of origin but also an import permit from the destination nation. That is different from an Appendix II listing that only requires an export permit. A nation could refuse an import permit for lion trophies from west Africa if they know trade in lion trophies from that region is detrimental to species population,” Roberts explains.

It isn’t just trade to the US that is the problem. In an email exchange with IBTimes UK, TRAFFIC, an organisation that monitors wildlife trade, confirms an increase in trade of lion parts, which they believe are being pushed as a substitute for goods such as tiger bones.
All species of tiger are now listed in Appendix I, making illegal trade in them harder. That possibly is why lions are now being targeted. However, a lack of any in-depth study in this space makes policy work difficult.

International Animal Rescue Foundation has been lobbying the US, EU and Americas for over three years now demanding an end to trophy hunting. I.A.R.F.A. changed their tactics although have not stopped lobbying and meeting environmental ministries within Africa in the hope the will soon with evidence on the table ban Lion trophy hunting. Its pictures such as these below which is a clear indication that no trophy hunter that travels to Africa is traveling to aide conservation. This amazing beast a young Lion was shot with a revolver – a hand gun. It would have taken at least 2-3 shots or more for this Lion to be taken out.

wildwestafrica

 Trophy hunters takes pride killing a Lion in Africa with a hand type gun.  

Trends

In addition to the trade of lion parts for Chinese medicine, as a substitute for tiger parts, research undertaken in Nigeria’s Yankari Game Reserve also suggested lions are being used in traditional African medicine – lion skins are used for back and joint pain, lion skin and lungs for the treatment of whooping cough, and lion veins for erectile dysfunction.

There is also the problem of quotas within CITES regulations. The agreement between participatory nations for legal trade in endangered species limits the transportation of such species to pre-set numbers. In 2011, for example, no more than 10 lions captured in the wild could be legally exported from Ethiopia.

On the face of it, this sounds a good solution to try and limit pressure on wild populations. However, the increase in quotas in recent years is a bad sign. According to information on the CITES Web site, in recent years only Ethiopia has allowed export. In 2012 however, Mozambique suddenly allowed the export of 50 lions captured in the wild per year.

And Roberts reveals an even more shocking new consumer fad – lion burgers. In an investigative study in 2010, Born Free revealed a “proliferation of lion meat advertised on menus in upscale restaurants and burger shops”.

Captive Breeding

Roberts also spoke against the possibility of captive breeding; the idea lions be bred like chickens or cattle, as they are in South Africa, for hunting and slaughter.

“The reason is two-fold. First, there is not an illegal trade in chicken meat or cow meat, the way there is in lion parts. And once you open legal trade in lion parts there is going to be illegal trade or laundering. This is not acceptable.

“Secondly, if you look at the history… where animals have been bred, presumably to reduce pressure on wild populations, it has failed miserably. Chinese tiger farms have not stopped the poaching in India. And the same goes for Asiatic black bears.

“The farming for bears started in Korea in the 1980s and spread to China, to provide Asian markets with bear gall bladders and bear bile. However, the wild population continues to be attacked, either to fill demand or re-stock farms.”

Lions and the Endgame

The lion, African or Asian, is an important part of mankind’s culture, whether or not we choose to believe that fact. The lion’s existence is interwoven into the very fabric of African folklore and daily life and the iconic images of a lion stalking the savannah, the rasping echo of its roar and the bloodcurdling chill of the animal in full flight are sights and sounds that are, in every sense of the word, irreplaceable.

A Jurassic Park-style reincarnation is not a solution. There can be no second chance. We cannot bring the lion back to life after having hunted and butchered every last animal. These are the days that will decide if the lion lives or dies.

Facts about Lions

  1. A century ago there were some 200,000 Lions roaming all over the African continent. Now there are no fewer than a mere 30,000 if that with the lowest estimated figure pointing to a possible 15,000.
  2. Over the last ten years a staggering two thirds of all Lions hunted for sport were imported from Africa into – United States of America. Americans are the largest hunting force within the world standing at a sky-rocketing 16.6 million over the age of 16 and growing yearly.
  3. African Lions have vanished from a whopping 80% of their range of which hunting, habitat fragmentation, human species conflict and unsustainable agriculture are primary causes for Lion depletion’s.
  4. Lions have become extinct in 26 countries. Only seven countries – Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe – are believed to contain more than 1,000 lions each.
  5. Between 1999 and 2008, 64% of the 5,663 Lions that were killed in the African wild for sport ended up being shipped to America, it must also be noted numbers had risen sharply in those 10 years, with more than twice as many Lions taken as trophies by US hunters in 2008 than in 1999. In addition to personal trophies, Americans are also the world’s biggest buyers of Lion carcasses and body parts, including claws, skulls, bones and penises. In the same years, the US imported 63% of the 2,715 Lion specimens put up for sale.
  6. From 1996 – 2008 species populations of Panthera leo has not increased but decreased furthermore seeing few localised extinctions. The African Lion is still listed as vulnerable on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species yet the US Fish and Wildlife Service continue to allow importations of Lion trophies into America.
  7. The main threats to Lions are indiscriminate killing (primarily as a result of retaliatory or pre-emptive killing to protect life and livestock) and prey base depletion. Habitat loss and conversion has led to a number of populations becoming small and isolated.
  8. Demand from the Far East is also driving profits for Lions breeders. In 2001, two Lions were exported as “trophies” to China, Laos and Vietnam; in 2011, 70 Lion trophies were exported to those nations. While the trade in Tiger parts is now illegal, demand for Lion parts for traditional Asian medicine is soaring. In 2009, five Lion skeletons were exported from South Africa to Laos; in 2011, it was 496. The legal export of Lion bones and whole carcasses has also soared.

 

Thank you for reading – Please submit your proposal to ban the importation of Lion trophies and parts from Africa into Australia no later than the 22nd September 2014 17:00 AEST to the address below; 

Please provide your written comments by AEST 5pm 22 September 2014 to:
The Director
Wildlife Trade Regulation
Department of the Environment
GPO Box 787
CANBERRA ACT 2601
wildlifetrade@environment.gov.au

 

Dr Josa C. Depre 

Chief Environmental Officer. 

International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa 

Environmental and Botanical Conservationist 


Dairy Trade – Cruelty Free Milk?

iarfct

Milk makes up quite a large part of the human diet for many of us. Milk can be purchased from major hypermarkets, markets and farms to local grocery stores in a wide variety of shiny white, blue or purple plastic, cardboard or glass containers. Pictures of children and families smiling happily with cows and farm animals or just comical cow drawings encouraging you to drink your milk is part and parcel of government advertising.

International Animal Rescue Foundation documents mostly on animal welfare and conservation issues locally and internationally of which we debated long and hard about publishing quite an extreme article that depicts just how the milk process works and the cruelty inflicted to cows just to provide a tasty white drink that is high in calcium, minerals and Melatonin a naturally sourced property. Synthetic and natural Melatonin aides sleep, relaxation and in synthetic pill form helps to reduce many childhood neurological and behavioral disorders such as Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder and Gilles de la Tourette syndrome being some of the common disorders that practitioners prescribe this medicine for and encourage children to drink more milk for.

For many years Animal Rights Activists have been battling dairy farmers, supermarkets, and slaughterhouses in vain to try and stop the cruelty that is inflicted to dairy cows. This can range from forced insemination straight after the female cow has given birth, the removal of calf after birth for the veal trade, transportation locally and globally down to the grotesque manners in which dairy cows are housed. Dairy trade may well look appealing to you the general public but what if we showed you the real side of the dairy trade. The horror inflicted daily just to provide you with a few liters of milk?

History; 

Dairy farming is a class of agricultural enterprise for long-term production of milk, which is processed (on-site or at a dairy plant) for eventual sale of a dairy product. Dairy farming has been part of agriculture for thousands of years. Historically it has been one part of small, diverse farms. In the last century or so larger farms doing only dairy production have emerged. Large scale dairy farming is only viable where either a large amount of milk is required for production of more durable dairy products such as cheese, butter, etc. or there is a substantial market of people with cash to buy milk, but no cows of their own.

There are many different forms of dairy collection that range from hand milking, vacuum bucket milking, milking from pipelines, milking parlors, herringbone and parallel parlors, rotary parlors, automatic milker takeoff that can be very cruel to the milking herd and lastly fully automated robotic milking. All forms of milking are undertaken in a conveyor belt fashion that see’s hundreds of thousands of liters of milk produced a year every for the consumer.

Whilst this Wednesday’s article is focusing on “milk trade” we must also highlight the other practices that see’s many milking cows abused then later slaughtered for the human food chain. Butter – Butter’s origins go back about 10,000 years to the time when our ancestors first began domesticating animals. Today, butter in its many flavorful forms is the world’s most popular fat. As a versatile spread, a delicious enhancer for so many foods, and the essential ingredient for baking, butter’s simple goodness has no equal…
The first reference to butter in our written history was found on a 4,500-year-old limestone tablet illustrating how butter was made. It is generally believed the word butter originates from the bou-tyron, Greek for “cow cheese”, however it may have come from the language of cattle-herding Scythians.

Butter was used as food by ancient tribes of Asiatic India, as well as for burning in primitive lamps and smeared on skin to protect from the cold. In early times, unlike today, butter was so costly it was used in religious ceremonies. It still is today in India and Tibet.
In ancient Rome, butter was valued cosmetically. Not only was it used as a cream to make skin smooth, but Greeks and Romans massaged it into their hair to make it shine. Much esteemed for its perceived healing properties, butter was also used in poultices to fight skin infections and burns. The ancient Egyptians even valued it as a cure for eye problems.

During the T’ang Dynasty in China, clarified butter represented the ultimate development of the Buddha spirit. The ancient Irish, Scots, Norsemen and Finns loved and valued butter so much they were buried with barrels of it.

Christian missionaries travelling in central Siberia in 1253 mentioned a traditional fermented drink, kumyss, which was served with generous lumps of butter floating in it. In Northern Europe, in centuries past, butter was credited with helping to prevent kidney and bladder stones as well as eye maladies. (This was probably thanks to butter’s vitamin A content.)

Sailors in Elizabethan times were guaranteed 1/4 lb of butter a day in their rations, and it was an old English custom to present newlyweds with a pot of this creamy delight as a wish for fertility and prosperity.

It must also be noted that cows are not the only animal that produces milk. Humans, goat, sheep, Indian buffalo, camel, llama and even horses have and still are used for the production of milk. In the modern world most humans will consume mainly milk from cows and goats whereas in the still developing world sheep, goat, camel, buffalo and llama milk are used for milk production mainly due to price, difference in taste, allergies that derive from “cows milk”. Its not uncommon to see small or large families in Asia, Africa or even Great Britain with individual cows or goats that are milked to feed the family.

Cruelty; 

The practice of dairy production in a factory farm environment has been criticized by animal welfare activists. Some of the ethical complaints regarding dairy production cited include how often the dairy cattle must remain pregnant, the separation of calves from their mothers, how dairy cattle are housed and environmental concerns regarding dairy production.

The production of milk requires that the cow be in lactation, which is a result of the cow having given birth to a calf. The cycle of insemination, pregnancy, parturition, and lactation, followed by a “dry” period of about two months of forty-five to fifty days, before calving which allows udder tissue to regenerate. A dry period that falls outside this time frames can result in decreased milk production in subsequent lactation. Dairy operations therefore include both the production of milk and the production of calves. Bull calves are either castrated and raised as steers for beef production or veal.

An important part of the dairy industry is the removal of the calves off the mother’s milk after the three days of needed colostrum, allowing for the collection of the milk produced. In order for this to take place, the calves are fed milk replacer, a substitute for the whole milk produced by the cow. Milk replacer is generally a powder, which comes in large bags, and is added to precise amounts of water, and then fed to the calf via bucket or bottle.

Milk replacers are classified by three categories: protein source, protein/fat (energy) levels, and medication or additives (e.g. vitamins and minerals). Proteins for the milk replacer come from different sources; the more favorable and more expensive all milk protein (e.g. whey protein- a bi product of the cheese industry) and alternative proteins including soy, animal plasma and wheat gluten. The ideal levels for fat and protein in milk replacer are 10-28% and 18-30%, respectively. The higher the energy levels (fat and protein), the less starter feed (feed which is given to young animals) the animal will consume. Weaning can take place when a calf is consuming at least two pounds of starter feed a day and has been on starter for at least three weeks. Milk replacer has climbed in cost US$15–20 a bag in recent years, so early weaning is economically crucial to effective calf management.

rota

 

Rotary milking parlour. Spaces standings for 60 cows. capable of milking 350 cows in one hour.

Because of the danger of infection to humans, it is important to maintain the health of milk-producing cattle. Common ailments affecting dairy cows include infectious disease (e.g. mastitis, endometritis and digital dermatitis), metabolic disease (e.g. milk fever and ketosis) and injuries caused by their environment (e.g. hoof and hock lesions).

Lameness is commonly considered one of the most significant animal welfare issues for dairy cattle, and is best defined as any abnormality that causes an animal to change its gait. It can be caused by a number of sources, including infections of the hoof tissue (e.g. fungal infections that cause dermatitis) and physical damage causing bruising or lesions (e.g. ulcers or hemorrhage of the hoof). Housing and management features common in modern dairy farms (such as concrete barn floors, limited access to pasture and suboptimal bed-stall design) have been identified as contributing risk factors to infections and injuries.

Exposed abuse; 

Over the past decade farmers have been complaining that animal and welfare activists have accounted for mass loss of farm production through direct and indirect actions against cattle farmers. Farmers have had to resort to drastic security measures to secure their farms thus ensuring what happens on the inside is not portrayed on the outside. Ag-Gag laws within the United States have been drafted up by government that is aimed at “prosecuting those that expose abuse on farms”. Ag Gag was devised in a way to protect American interests.

Anti-whistleblower bills (“ag-gag” bills) seek to criminalize whistleblowing on factory farms, keeping Americans in the dark about where their food is coming from. Whistleblowing employees have played a vital role in exposing animal abuse, unsafe working conditions, and environmental problems on industrial farms.

Instead of working to prevent these abuses from occuring, the agribusiness industry has been working to prevent people from finding out about such problems by supporting anti-whistleblower bills.

Anti-whistleblower bills effectively block anyone (within US states) from exposing animal cruelty, food-safety issues, poor working conditions, and more in factory farms. These bills can also suppress investigations into cruel horse soring, mistreatment of animals in laboratories, and other abuses. These bills could do this by:

  • Banning taking a photo or video of a factory farm without permission,
  • Essentially making it a crime for an investigator to get work at a factory farm, or
  • Requiring mandatory reporting with impossibly short timelines so that no pattern of abuse can be documented.

What is Big Ag’s big secret?

These anti-whistleblower bills raise the question, “What does animal agriculture have to hide?” By criminalizing whistleblowing, these bills would make important undercover investigations impossible—investigations like:

  • The HSUS exposé of calf abuse at a Vermont slaughter plant that led to the plant’s closure and a felony criminal conviction
  • The HSUS investigation of a cow slaughter plant in California, which prompted the largest meat recall in U.S. history and criminal convictions, too
  • The HSUS investigation of Wyoming Premium Farms, which documented rampant animal abuse and brought charges of criminal animal cruelty for nine workers

Within the United States covert welfare officers have already fallen foul of such Ag-Gagging laws. While the United States believes this is to protect the interests of America and the overall economy such cruelty practices (see video below) must continue to be exposed so that you the consumer are aware of what you are buying, placing your money into, and consuming. Regardless of whether one is damaging the economy by highlighting such abuses one must continue to ask yourself, would you allow a human to be treated in this manner? Cow, horse, pig, duck, or any animal (we are all living-beings) we all feel pain and suffering so no animal no living being should be subjected to such abuses and no enforcement officers should ever be silenced.

There is a great deal of variation in the pattern of dairy production worldwide. Many countries which are large producers consume most of this internally, while others (in particular New Zealand), export a large percentage of their production. Internal consumption is often in the form of liquid milk, while the bulk of international trade is in processed dairy products such as milk powder.

Injury and Illness within the Dairy trade;

There are many injuries and illness that have been documented within the dairy agricultural trade whether it be deliberate or from poor animal husbandry disease and poor husbandry is rife throughout the entire farming industry. the more people fund this trade the longer these abuses continue.

Mastitis is the inflammation of the mammary gland and udder tissue, and is a major endemic disease of dairy cattle. It usually occurs as an immune response to bacterial invasion of the teat canal by variety of bacterial sources present on the farm, and can also occur as a result of chemical, mechanical, or thermal injury to the cow’s udder.

Milk-secreting tissues and various ducts throughout the udder can be damaged by bacterial toxins, and sometimes permanent damage to the udder occurs. Severe acute cases can be fatal, but even in cows that recover there may be consequences for the rest of the lactation and subsequent lactations.

The illness is in most respects a very complex disease, affected by a variety of factors: it can be present in a herd subclinically, where few, if any, symptoms are present in most cows. Practices such as close attention to milking hygiene, the culling of chronically-infected cows, good housing management and effective dairy cattle nutrition to promote good cow health are essential in helping to control herd mastitis levels.

Mastitis is most often transmitted by contact with the milking machine, and through contaminated hands or other materials, in housing, bedding and other equipment. During the 1960s, a five-point plan was devised by the National Institute for Research into Dairying, aimed at providing a strategy for the reduction and control of mastitis at farm level, which in adapted form is still followed today.

Mastitis treatment and control is one of the largest costs to the dairy industry in the UK, and is also a significant factor in dairy cow welfare. Mastitis can seen in the picture below.

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You may or may not have seen the many videos of dairy cows that are hoisted up by large four by four forklifts that have gone lame. Sadly this is an all to common site within the the Agricultural trade. Cows that are pushed beyond their limitations can acquire some of the most sickening of diseases and injuries. Even with these injuries and illness present “some” of these cows are then fed back into the human and animal food chain. The steak that you ate last night that said “farm assured” or “100% welfare” could very well have come from any farm locally sourced or internationally that has allowed diseased stock into the food chain. Can you honestly be sure that the beef stew you have eaten was not a lame diseased cow? The glass of milk you are drinking has not come from a cow that has suffered repeated mastitis infectious? The answer is no , unless of course you farm, kill, and slaughter yourself.

The most common injuries to dairy cows are bruising or ulcers on the soles of their hooves and sores on their legs caused by rubbing against concrete bed stalls. These injuries cause animals to become “lame,” which means they have difficulty walking. Pasture or other soft, dry surfaces can help reduce the risk of these injuries. Lameness is one of the most serious welfare concerns for dairy cows because it is painful, and unfortunately it is also very common. Research demonstrates that about 25% of dairy cows at peak lactation in BC are clinically lame – on some farms this number can escalate to over 50%. Animal welfare scientists are working hard to find ways to detect lame cows early so that they can be treated. They are also working with farmers, veterinarians and other professionals to find new ways to design and manage dairy barns to prevent cows from becoming lame in the first place.

Transition Period Diseases; 

Dairy cows give birth every year in order to continue producing milk. The transition from pregnancy through giving birth to producing milk is full of changes and challenges, and has been aptly named “the transition period”. Not surprisingly, some dairy cows cannot cope with all of these challenges and illness is common during the transition period. This vulnerability to disease is largely due to the incredible energy demand that lactation places on their bodies. As much as 30-50% of cows become sick with metabolic or infectious disease during this period. For this reason, it is critical to ensure that cows have good access to high-quality feed at this time. Canada’s Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle recommends that 2 feet of space be provided per cow at the feeder, and ideally an entire group of cows should be able to eat at the same time.

Tail docking is also a very cruel and painful process within dairy cow farming. Farmers will often tell you that docking does not take place or if it does cows will not feel a thing. This is yet another lie and myth of the agricultural business. Dairy cows give birth every year in order to continue producing milk. The transition from pregnancy through giving birth to producing milk is full of changes and challenges, and has been aptly named “the transition period”. Not surprisingly, some dairy cows cannot cope with all of these challenges and illness is common during the transition period. This vulnerability to disease is largely due to the incredible energy demand that lactation places on their bodies. As much as 30-50% of cows become sick with metabolic or infectious disease during this period. For this reason, it is critical to ensure that cows have good access to high-quality feed at this time. Canada’s Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle recommends that 2 feet of space be provided per cow at the feeder, and ideally an entire group of cows should be able to eat at the same time.

Female dairy calves are dehorned in order to prevent injury to each other or to people later in life. Using a procedure called “disbudding,” the small emerging horn bud is prevented from growing by burning the tissue with a hot iron or a caustic chemical paste. Research has shown that pain caused by these procedures can be eliminated by giving calves a combination of a sedative, local anesthetic, and analgesic. In Canada, it is now required that at least some kind of pain control is used when dehorning or disbudding according to the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle.

While “Code of Practices” may at times be adhered too it is unfortunate that many cows will suffer from serious pain and infections caused by de-horning, docking. Picture below shows a typical de-horning practice.

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Veal industry; 

Veal is a by-product of the very cruel dairy industry that still many people are none-the-wiser-about. Many dairy consumers still do not understand that for a cow to produce milk she has to gestate. Once mother has produced her calf the veal the calf is cruelly removed and then held in a veal crate (pictured below)..

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Cows produce milk for the same reason why humans and other mammals do: to nourish their young. But the millions of cows who live on U.S. dairy farms are forced into a vicious cycle of continuous pregnancy so that they will produce milk for human consumption. Their female calves are slaughtered immediately or used to replace their mothers in the dairy herd, and many male calves end up in veal crates―a fate characterized by confinement, darkness, malnutrition, and slaughter.

Without human intervention, calves suckle from their mothers for nearly a year. One veterinary study revealed that “during natural weaning there is never complete and abrupt abandonment of the calf by the cow. In fact, the … cow and calf will maintain a lifelong relationship of social contact and companionship ….” Another study found that a cow and her calf can develop a “strong maternal bond” in as little as five minutes. But calves born on dairy farms are taken from their mothers on the same day that they are born and fed milk replacers, including cattle blood, so that humans can have the milk instead. This forced separation causes cows and calves great distress, and cows have been known to escape enclosures and travel for miles to reunite with their young.

Calves raised for veal are forced to spend their short lives in individual crates that are no more than 30 inches wide and 72 inches long. These crates are designed to prohibit exercise and normal muscle growth in order to produce tender “gourmet” veal. The calves are fed a milk substitute that is purposely low in iron so that they will become anemic and their flesh will stay pale.

Because of these extremely unhealthy living conditions, calves raised for veal are susceptible to a long list of diseases, including chronic pneumonia and diarrhea. A study published in the Journal of Animal Science found that calves who were kept in “smaller housing units” had difficulty keeping themselves clean and had trouble “extending their front legs and changing from a lying to a standing position,” which resulted in joint swelling. It was also determined that stereotypical forms of stress behaviors, such as tongue rolling and “sham-chewing” (the act of chewing without food in the mouth), increase when smaller pens were used and as calves got older.

After enduring 12 to 23 weeks in these conditions, these young animals—many of whom can barely walk because of sickness or muscle atrophy—are crowded into metal trucks for transport to the slaughterhouse. On these trucks, they are trampled and suffer from temperature extremes and lack of food, water, and veterinary care. A glimpse into the shocking veal trade can be seen here in video below that may be upsetting to some and disturbing to others.

Transportation;

Every year millions of cows are transported worldwide just for the dairy and beef trade. There have been many occasions when cows have been poorly mistreated, left on the back of long wagons in freezing temperatures or within heatwaves that it sends the cows insane to the point they collapse form either heat exhaustion, dehydration or hypothermia. One shocking image that was captured within Australia this month saw a cow that appears to be a dairy cow trying to escape from the back of a long wagon. The image caused outrage yet has done little to increase welfare standards within the farming, slaughter and transportation trade of livestock. (Picture can be seen below).

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Livestock are transported by land (road or rail), sea and air. Livestock are most often transported to achieve translocation immediately prior to harvest but also to move them to sources of less expensive or more abundant feed supplies (for growth or fattening), because of changes in ownership, for breeding purposes, to enter intensive production units or for exhibition in shows or contests. Tarrant and Grandin (2000) characterized the transport process as: (a) Beginning with assembly and including loading, confinement with and without motion, unloading, and penning in a new and unfamiliar environment. (b) During transport, animals are exposed to environmental stresses including heat, cold, humidity, noise, motion and social regrouping., (c) Transportation by its nature is an unfamiliar and threatening event in the life of an animal. (d) Transportation involves a series of handling and confinement situations which are unavoidably stressful and can lead to distress, injury or even death of the animal unless properly planned and carried out. (e) Transportation often coincides with a change in ownership whereby responsibility for the animal’s welfare may be compromised.

Concluding; 

An article published by the British cattle Veterinary Association reveals that 150.000 000 cattle are pregnant when sent to The slaughterhouse every year. At least 40.000 of these cattle have been found in the last stages of pregnancy. 90 percent of cows are dairy cows and the majority of the farmers do not they realize that they are pregnant. In the survey avc, 50,9 % of farmers thought the cow was not pregnant, and 27,3 % said that they did not know. This kind of shows just how unprofessional farmers are and the lack of expertise too that is failing many dairy cows and other farm animals.

The infertility is quoted as the reason most common to the slaughter of an animal, followed by the mastitis (an inflammation painful of the ubres very common in The dairy cows) and then the old age. Some cows, they are sending to the slaughterhouse thinking that they are infertile, when in reality they are pregnant. Animals are sent to the market one farmer stated are heavy before I kill them. The farmer is compensated per kilo if the animal is found to be pregnant. You can see just what we mean by poor husbandry, lack of knowledge, and failings within the picture below. The cow and many more sent to slaughter was in fact pregnant yet the farmer nor the slaughter-man knew until the cow was finally slaughtered.

Gabriele Meurer MRCVS, an ex surgeon vet officer in abattoirs in the UK, says: “Sometimes, when these creatures are hanging in the line to be slaughtered you can see the calves kicking inside of their mothers. I, like a vet, I just had to look at it, do not do nothing and stay silent. It broke my heart and I felt like a criminal, after witnessing this so many times I then left the practice horrified and moved by what I witnessed on a daily basis”.

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If this article has somewhat concerned you and you wish to try an alternative to milk then do not be afraid there are other milks out there that are more healthy, contain few if any agricultural medicines used in the farming industry and are much kinder to ones tummy too. We’ve listed them below for your information.

High in fat and with a carbon footprint to match, cow’s milk is neither the greenest or healthiest milk available. So what are the alternatives? Here are some of the best From greenhouse gas emissions to antibiotics, the problems associated with cow’s milk are legion. According to Tim Lang, Food Commissioner at the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC): ‘The heavy footprint of the meat and dairy industry means it’s right to prioritise exploring how, not just whether, over-consuming societies like the UK can reduce their meat and dairy consumption.’ Then there are the health issues associated with the white stuff, which range from dairy intolerance through to high cholesterol. Loaded with calories and heavy on the saturated fat, cow’s milk certainly isn’t the diet conscious choice for putting in your cuppa. Milk does have some health benefits though – calcium for example – but that mineral aside, there are better choices that are both low in fat and good for the planet. Here’s our pick of the best alternatives to cow’s milk.

Soya Milk – we rate this a 7/10

Packed with protein and fibre, benefits of soya milk include the presence of cancer-fighting isoflavones, minimal saturated fat and the absence of galactose, which means that it can replace breast milk for galactosaemic children. It’s also safe for the lactose intolerant and anyone with a milk allergy. Because it comes from plants, there are no animal welfare issues associated with it and the growing soya plants absorb rather emit carbon – the direct opposite of dairy cows. There are some downsides though, chiefly that its sugar content can be high, particularly in the flavoured versions. Other issues include the increasing amount of land being used to farm it, which is leading to deforestation in some countries. However, its overall impact is still much less than that of cow’s milk, particularly when you choose an organic version.

Almond Milk – we rate this a 9/10

Almond milk is good source of magnesium, which helps to break down food can help with the function of the parathyroid glands, thus helping improve the health of your bones. It’s also loaded with manganese, selenium and Vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects the cell membranes. Selenium is good for our immune system; it helps in reproduction, and in the metabolism of thyroid. It also prevents cell damage and tissue damage. Almond milk is also a good source of unsaturated fat, protein, flavonoids and potassium, and has less sugar than soya milk. Like soya milk though, it has a smaller carbon footprint by virtue of being derived from a plant source rather than a methane producing animal one. However, it doesn’t taste like cows milk by any stretch of the imagination, so it takes some getting used to if you’re looking for a true milk substitute. It’s also significantly more expensive as almonds, a hard-to-grow crop, are the main ingredient.

Rice Milk –  we rate this a 9/10

Rice milk is the most hypoallergenic of all the milk substitutes and is extremely nutritious. It’s also the least fattening of all the milk alternatives with only one gram of unsaturated fat per cup. There are also plenty of heart healthy nutrients in rice milk. The unsaturated fat comes from rice bran oil, which can help lower your blood cholesterol. Niacin and vitamin B6 are also good for this while the high magnesium content helps to control your blood pressure. Iron and copper increases your red blood cell production, giving you better oxygenated blood and more vitality. On the downside, since rice is highly starchy, so is rice milk. One cup of rice milk contains 33 grams of sugary carbohydrates, three to four times the amount in milk or soya milk. If you have diabetes, rice milk can cause a sudden sugar overload. It also has a very low protein count compared to cow’s milk and soya, and the calcium content is also minimal, so choose the fortified product instead.

Oat Milk – we rate this a 10/10

Like many plant milks, oat milk is cholesterol and lactose free, and also contains high levels of antioxidant vitamin E. It also contains folic acid, which is essential for most bodily functions and is needed to synthesise and repair DNA, produce healthy red blood cells and prevent anaemia. Thanks to its plant source, oat milk is usually tolerated by people with multiple allergies, and is also a good source of phytochemicals; naturally occurring chemicals in plants that help fight diseases such as cancer, heart disease and stroke. The main argument against oat milk is that it, like rice milk, is high in sugar and doesn’t have the calcium and protein content of cow’s milk. Since it’s derived from a cereal crop, it’s also no good for people who are allergic to gluten, and has a distinctive, oaty flavour, which doesn’t appeal to everyone. It’s also fairly difficult to source and is usually only available in health food shops.

Hemp Milk – we rate this a 7/10 

A good alternative for anyone with soya and nut allergies, hemp milk is also cholesterol and lactose free, low in saturated fats and rich in healthy omega fatty acids. It’s also an excellent source of protein and tastes creamier and nuttier than soya milk or rice milk, and also tends to be a bit thicker than other plant-based milks. Like other plant milks though, it lacks calcium and isn’t as widely available as soya, rice and goat’s milk.

Cashew Nut Milk – we rate this a 8/10

According to the George Mateijan Foundation, a quarter of a cup of cashews supplies almost 38 percent of the recommended daily intake copper, which is involved in many important bodily functions such as developing bone and connective tissue, producing melanin, and iron absorbtion. Cashews are a great source of magnesium like calcium, magnesium is also extremely important in keeping our bones strong and healthy, and, compared to other nuts, cashews have a lower overall fat content. As with the other nut-based milks you can also make cashew milk at home

Coconut Milk – we rate this a 10/10 

Coconut milk is a very creamy, dairy-free alternative for those who are lactose intolerant or allergic to animal milk. Those who subscribe to the low-carb lifestyle often prize coconut milk for it’s minimal starch content. A vegan drink, it is also soya-free, gluten-free, cholesterol-free and nut-free while its fat content is considered to a ‘good fat’, easily metabolised by the body and quickly turned into energy rather than being stored as fat. Coconut milk is also rich in lauric acid, a substance also found in human milk, which researchers have shown have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Unlike other nut or plant milks, the saturated fat content of coconut milk is significant at five grams per serving, so drink it in moderation. It can solidify and separate when refrigerated, depending on the brand, so if you like a cold glass of milk, it’s an inconvenient choice since you have to stir it and let it warm up to room temperature in order to drink it. Some brands also have a strong flavour that can be a bit overpowering.

If ever you are unsure please contact our vegan and vegetarian society here.

You can also watch the film Earthlings here and educate yourself on the horrors of all farming and animal abuse. Not suitable for people under the age of 12 years.

 

 

 

 

 


Honduran White and Northern White Bat.

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Some have stated they resemble the appearance of Furbies while others sate they look like cute little Gremlins. Well actually they are indeed Honduran Ghost Bats, commonly named as the (Honduran White Bat) that we featured on our main International Animal Rescue Foundation Endangered Species Article few days ago that we release every Monday and Friday.

The Honduran White Bat just one of two unique species of white bat that inhabits planet Earth featured this week on our Endangered Species Post as they are currently listed as (near threatened). Scientifically named as Ectophylla alba populations of this very small (pygmy) style bat are on the decline. To what extent we are still unaware. Data on diet, population trend and behavior is limited.

White bats like all bats fall into the order of Chiroptera. Chiroptera is an ancient order of mammalia dating to the early Eocene, including the bats. They are nocturnal mouselike mammals having four toes of each of the anterior limbs elongated and connected by a web, so that they form membranous wings that can be used in flying. They also have anatomical adaptations, including large ears, for echolocation, by which they navigate and in some cases find insects. The order includes the suborders Megachiroptera (the fruit bats) and Microchiroptera (insectivorous bats). See Bat. Previously spelled cheiroptera.

Identified back in 1892 by Dr Joel Asaph Allen (July 19, 1838 – August 29, 1921) was an American zoologist and ornithologist. Dr Allen was one of worlds leading and most professionally sound experts in zoology and ornithology of which his work is still spoken about to this very day at many universities globally.

Allen was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He studied at Harvard University under Louis Agassiz, and took part in Agassiz’s 1865 expedition to Brazil in search of evidence of an ice age there, which Agassiz later claimed to have found, and in others within the United States. Allen later crossed into Honduras and Panama in search of the elusive Honduras white bat.

Native to Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama the Honduras White Bat has very few major threats. This doesn’t though for one minute mean its very few threats are indeed large to the species of Honduras White Bat. Populations are rapidly declining like many bat species internationally. The Honduras White Bat have habitat preference. In Costa Rica the population declined, food preference and habitat restriction is known.

Habitat fragmentation, forest clearance, poaching and trade are known “threats” to both species of white bat found exclusively within this area of the world. However little documentation has been compiled to indicate just how bigger threats these pose. International Animal Rescue Foundation World Action Brazil did back in 2012 monitored the Ectophylla alba of which noted land clearance and deforestation, timber trade posing as a significantly increased threat to “some fruit trees that the bat feeds from (again little data was compiled). The primary food source of the Honduran White Bat is fruit of which some food sources are being threatened with intense agriculture and land clearance to cope with human population inclines.

The Honduran White Bat is unique among most bats (but not many tropical bats) in that it will modify its immediate surroundings for its own benefit. Unlike the misconception that all bats live in caves, this bat will use the leave of the large Heliconia plant to form a tent.

It does so by cutting the side veins of the plant that extend out from the midrib; this causes the leaf to droop along the stem, making a tent. The little white bats then cling to the inner plant upside-down in small colonies of around six, although larger groupings have been reported. Unlike most bats that do make tents – the Honduran White Bat will not flee if disturbed lightly by looking under the leaf – they will only flee when the stem itself is disturbed causing a brief flurry of activity.

The advantage of having their white fur is postulated to be the reason – as when sunlight filters through the leaf they look green, and so by not moving they will go un-noticed by possible predators from below. We do not know of any other species of bat or bird that (mimics) its surroundings to protect itself from predation as the Honduran White Bat species does.
Within the last ten years there has been a decline of some thirty per cent of Honduran White Bat populations of which falls under the classification of (near threatened). Ectophylla alba is not known to be common.
Roosting in groups of 4 to 8 in tents and found mainly in (protected areas) the Honduran White Bats are also known to inhabit the Caribbean low lands too at a level of 700m.

Little did we know when publishing the article (Monday 1st September 2014) on the white bat did some 100,000 people and counting not even realize this bat existed, even among some high profile bat enthusiasts which is of some concern to us because the species is listed as near threatened. with a population decline still ongoing its articles such as these that need further exposure in the hope of encouraging others to document on the species and increase awareness in the hope that it will furthermore halt declines and preserve the Honduran White Bat for many hundreds of years to come.

Honduran White Bats are uncommon but local of which threats to the species are listed only in brief. Both males and females construct the tent by biting the leaf veins and pulling the leaf into shape. At the end it always looks like an upside-down boat. They only use seven types of plants for their shelters, and most tents are built in two different kinds of Heliconia species. A good tent- leaf has to be less than 2 m (6 feet) high. Probably to avoid high temperatures in the roost during the day, tents are built where the canopy is nice and thick, although the plant species used for tent building grow under thick as well as under more open canopy. Another important characteristic of useful leaves is that there are only few plants underneath, which is the bats’ way to avoid having predators sneak up to their roost. Honduran white bats only use fresh, new leaves to build their tents, probably because they are undamaged and still softer and therefore easier to bite. After all, these bats are tiny; the body is barely bigger than a nice juicy cherry. Thus the leaves cannot be too tough for the bats to be able to modify them. (see picture below).

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Because of these preferences for roosts, Honduran white bats live primarily in mature secondary forests. Very young forests are unsuitable for the bats because they have a very thick understory and an open canopy, whereas mature forests have very few suitable tent plants. But even though secondary forests are common where Honduran white bats occur, the bats are vulnerable to habitat loss because they have very specific needs with respect to roosts. Therefore, continued conversion of forests to agricultural areas will decrease the options for Honduran white bats. (see video below for further information)…

Major threats to our Honduran White Bat is known to be (habitat restriction) that can be anything from deforestation, habitat loss from unsustainable agricultural practices and legal timber trade. Slash and burn techniques although not documented would most likely be a factor that would/could see the species placed in danger furthermore too.

So what do we know about threats associated with the Honduran White Bat? Lets take a look.

Deforestation is a primary threat to many species of wildlife within Costa Rica, secondary threats to white bats could well be the decline of its own roosting plant the Heliconia from which the Honduran bat uses as a safe roost making a well woven tent to keep up to twenty bats a time safe from predators.

Deforestation; 

Deforestation is a major threat to biodiversity and ecosystems in Costa Rica. The country has a rich biodiversity with some 12,000 species of plants, 1,239 species of butterflies, 838 species of birds, 440 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 232 species of mammals, which have been under threat from deforestation. Costa Rica is home to the majority of white bast species.

Deforestation in Costa Rica has a serious impact on the environment and therefore may directly or indirectly contribute to flooding, desertification, sedimentation in rivers, loss of wildlife diversity, and the obvious sheer loss of timber. Since the end of World War II, approximately 80% of the forests of Costa Rica have disappeared. Approximately 20,000 acres (8,100 ha) of land are deforested annually; in the 1990s the country had one of the worst deforestation rates in Central America.

As the population grew, the people of Costa Rica cut down the forests to provide for pastureland for cattle ranching to produce beef for the world market to raise revenue. Since the 1950s, approximately 60% of Costa Rica has been cleared to make room for cattle ranching. The problem was worsened because during the 1960s, the United States offered Costa Rican cattle ranchers millions of dollars in loans to produce beef. The deforestation of Costa Rica’s tropical rain forests as in other countries is a threat to life worldwide with a profound effect on the global climate. Soil erosion has increased with deforestation with the topsoil washed away from the hills into the streams and out into the oceans, year after year.

Over half of Costa Rica’s existing forest cover today is under the protection of national parks, biological reserves, or wildlife refuges. However, the major problem in regards to deforestation is the privately owned plots which occupy the other half. Lenient laws on land and amendments to forestry law makes it easy to obtain logging concessions as owners exploit the land to maximise income.
As logging companies enter these forests to exploit them, they require access roads to transport the timber. While cattle ranching is by far the primary cause of deforestation in Costa Rica, banana plantations have also significantly contributed to the problem. Lowland rainforest has been most affected where 130,000 acres (530 km2) of previously forested land (primarily in the Atlantic and Northern regions) have been removed.

Such industries have been synonymous with health risks, notably the high levels of toxic pesticides which affected thousands of plantation workers throughout Central America in the 1970s. Pesticides used to grow bananas and other fruits such as mangoes and citrus fruit may enter the hydrological systems and contaminate the water. The removal of the forest to make way for these fruit planatations may also disrupt the nutrient balance in the soil and through monoculture exhaust the soils and render them unsustainable.

Although most of the larger plantations in Costa Rica are owned by large companies, often multinationals, population pressure in Costa Rica has increased the demand for land among farmers who are forced to venture out onto new land to deforest and farm and compete over scraps of land. While certain conservation laws have been passed in Costa Rica, the government lacks the resources to enforce them.

Light Pollution; 

Light pollution could affect the regeneration of tropical rainforests because it disrupts the behaviour of seed dispersing bats, a study suggests. Researchers found that a species of fruit-eating bats in Costa Rica avoided foraging in artificial light. The team warned the findings suggested light pollution could have a negative impacts on ecosystems, and called for light-free refuges to be established. The findings have been published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

Each year, large swaths of rainforest are cleared and converted to agricultural land. The team says the land is often abandoned when the soil fertility falls, making it uneconomic to grow crops. The team observed: “Natural succession of abandoned land could counter the loss of biodiversity, but the rate of natural reforestation is slow.” They added that fruit-eating bats help rainforest plants re-colonize the land because the mammals seemed to “tolerate habitat disturbance when dispersing seeds”.

“Under naturally dark conditions, bats produce a copious seed rain – even in deforested habitats and connect distant forest fragments,” they wrote.

“Yet, artificial light at night may compromise bat-mediated seed dispersal if bats avoided lit areas.”

Light sensitive;

In order to test the idea, the researchers studied the feeding behaviour of Sowell’s short-tailed bats (Carollia sowelli) – which feed on the fruits of pepper plants. The impact of light pollution could be reduced by… setting up dark refuges connected by dark corridors for light-sensitive species” Initially, they carried out an experiment using captive bats to demonstrate that food was often left unexplored or consumed when a compartment was dimly lit in comparison with dark compartments.

They said this indicated that “artificial light altered the foraging behaviour of fruit-eating bats”. In order to see if this behaviour was replicated in the wild, the researchers observed wild bats’ response to light emitted from a street lamp.
“We found that [fruits] were less likely to be harvested when plants were illuminated by a street lamp than under natural darkness,” they said.

Although previous research has shown that insect-eating bats’ foraging behaviour was adversely affected by artificial light, this was the first study to indicate that fruit-eating bat species also avoided lit areas. The findings suggested that light pollution could have adverse consequences for forest regeneration in the tropics, explained co-author Daniel Lewanzik from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin. “In tropical habitats, bat-mediated seed dispersal is necessary for the rapid succession of deforested land because few other animals than bats disperse seeds into open habitats,” he said. In their paper, the team warned: “Policymakers of tropical countries should become aware of the potential detrimental effects of artificial lighting on wildlife and ecosystem functioning.” Mr Lewanzik added: “The impact of light pollution could be reduced by changes in lighting design and by setting up dark refuges connected by dark corridors for light-sensitive species like bats.”

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Food Declines and Climatic Change; 

Bats seem to have evolved as moderately long-lived (e.g., 5-30 years), intelligent creatures that are acutely in synchrony with global climates. Worldwide, bats are known to depend on a variety of natural resources. Many tropical species are dependent on nectar, pollen, and flowers and fruits of plants and are known to “track” the development of the plant resources upon which they depend. Not surprisingly, bats are frequent and important pollinators of plants, especially in tropical areas and on island ecosystems in the Pacific. Additionally, many bats rely on plants (especially trees) as roosting sites for varying periods of time. Disturbances to climate that interrupt or alter the phenology of plants, or greatly alter plant species occurrence or distribution, can be expected to affect bats. For example, a mean global warming of 3 C will change climates sufficiently so that 7-11% of vascular plants in North America will no longer occur within the appropriate climate “envelope.” This will require that such plants will have to adapt to the change, move to stay within the appropriate climate, or become extirpated. Such disruptions will likely affect bats.

Other species of bats, especially in temperate zones, are insectivorous and collectively consume large quantities of insects. Just as pollinating activities of bats are important to plant ecology, the insectivorous food habits of bats play an important role in maintaining a balance among insect populations. Although studies of bats have demonstrated some flexibility in food habits over time, most species appear to be specialized to pursue and capture selected kinds or categories of insects. Furthermore, bats are dependent upon a reliable and consistent “supply” of prey, even though specific insect populations grow and disappear over the course of a summer season. Changes in worldwide insect population occurrence or distribution can be expected to affect numbers and species diversity of bats.

In temperate latitudes, both northern and southern, bats avoid seasonal food shortages by either hibernating, often in caves or mines, or by migrating to regions where food is still available. We suspect that nearly all attributes of hibernation or migration are mediated by combinations of changes in ambient light regimes, temperature, and food resources. The dependence of temperate-zone bats on the interplay of these factors ultimately revolves around the bats’ ability to acquire sufficient energy (in the form of food) to either last them through a hibernation sequence or through the rigors of (sometimes) long-distance migration. Temperature changes that would affect the supply of food to bats or otherwise upset an energy balance that has evolved over millenia should have significant consequences for bats. Also, climate changes that would lead to changes in the internal temperatures of roosts that have been used by bats for decades will force bats to locate and use new or different roosts.

While the Honduran White Bat may seem cute and adorable it must be stated that removal of the bat from its natural habitat to domestic it for pet purposes is something we frown down upon. These bats like any other species must not be removed nor feed into the pet trade industry. When releasing our article on Monday this week we were a little concerned at the amount of comments from the public that quoted they “wanted one” “where can I purchase a white bat from” down to one comment “Going to take a few for my collection of bats”. Honduran White Bat is listed as (near threaded) so by reducing the species within the wild for domesticated purposes one is only adding to the further decline of the species.

While we documented on the Honduran White Bat we did state that a further write up on the second only known white bat would come later on during the week. The Northern “Ghost” bat commonly known as the (Northern White Bat) is related to the Honduran White Bat. Whilst listed as (least concern) and at lower risk, the Northern Ghost Bat is said to be the worlds rarest bat on planet Earth. Please view the picture below of the Northern Ghost Bat scientifically identified as Diclidurus albus.

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Northern Ghost Bat Diclidurus albus rare

This species occurs from Nayarit (Mexico) to eastern Brazil and Trinidad.

Native to;

Belize, Bolivia, Plurinational States of Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.
D. albus prefer humid habitats like riparian and tropical rainforests but have been found in human-disturbed areas like plantations, clearings, and over villages. They are solitary, and like all members of the family are insectivorous.

Like the Honduran White Bat they too roost in plantations. Roosts can be found in caves, deep rock crevices, and old mines. Although ghost bats prefer to roost in colonies, they currently only roost in small groups at best due to a lack of roosting sites that support larger colonies. It is unusual for there to be a colony of more than 100 bats in one location. It often roosts singly under palm leaves. Whereas the later species will only roost under Heliconia plantation leaves.

Please do not confuse these two species of “white bats” “ghost bats” with the very rare Australian Ghost bat that is much larger in size and believed to be only endemic to Australia.

Conclusion; 

Since Honduran white bats live mainly under heliconia leaves, rainforest destruction is a serious threat. For this species to survive, rainforests in the Central American lowlands that have heliconia must remain standing. Natural predators may include opossums, snakes and other carnivorous animals. During the day, Honduran white bats roost under their tents. At night, they emerge to search for food. However, these creatures are not looking to suck your blood — they only eat fruit or vegetation.

Josa C Depre

Environmental and Botanical Director

International Animal Rescue Foundation