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Archive for January, 2016

Endangered Species Friday: Solenodon paradoxus | Extinction is Imminent.

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Endangered Species Friday: Solenodon paradoxus

This Friday’s (Endangered Species Post) E.S.P, I touch up again on the Hispaniolan Solenodon, scientifically identified as Solenondon paradoxus. Image credit: Mr Jose Nunez-MinoMy reasons for re-documenting on this species is primarily due to my belief that extinction is now most certainly imminent. Therefore for that reason I think its critical that we all make as much noise as possible for this little one due to is importance within the theater of conservation, and because its one of very few mammals that do actually host a venomous side to them.

Written by Dr Jose C. Depre; Botanical and Conservation Scientist. 

Solenondon paradoxus was identified back in 1883 by Dr Johann Friedrich von Brandt (25 May 1802 – 15 July 1879) was a German naturalist. Brandt was born in Jüterbog and educated at a gymnasium in Wittenberg and the University of Berlin. In 1831 he was appointed director of the Zoological Department at the St Petersburg Academy of Sciences, where he published in Russian. Brandt encouraged the collection of native animals, many of which were not represented in the museum. Many specimens began to arrive from the expeditions of Severtzov, Przhevalsky, Middendorff, Schrenck and Gustav Radde.

Listed as (endangered) the species is endemic to the Dominican Republic; Haiti. Back in 1965 the species was re-located and reassessed of which scientists agreed the species ‘required watching due to concerns relating to low population levels’. Unfortunately, and despite the species then being known as severely threatened, from 1982-1996 the Solenondon paradoxus was re-listed as (endangered), now nearing almost complete extinction within the wild. It is without a doubt that we may be seeing this stunning “slotted tooth mammal” extinct within the next two to three years. The name Solenodon means ‘slotted tooth’ of which this insectivorous mammalian is known to be (venomous).

Population levels within the wild have been identified as (severely fragmented), and a population decrease within the species native wild has been ongoing since the early 1980’s, the mammal-like-shrew is considered to be extremely rare. Furthermore within Haiti the species “could be considered as critically endangered” due to an isolated population that covers only 100 kilometers square. Habit loss and persecution are the primary threats associated with the species.

The Haitian solenodon as the species is commonly known to the locals resides mainly next to plantations, forest and brush country. The species leads a mainly nocturnal life where it hides among rock clefts and under large stones, dark caves or hollow trees. Diet atypically consists of insects, but mainly spiders which the species digs from the ground and leaf litter. Small frogs and reptiles are also known to be part of the mammals diet. Haitian solenodon will use its long snout to sniff out food even buried deep into the ground then its powerful claws to locate food via burrowing which are about 2-4cms long, a venom will if required be administered to much larger prey.

The species is relatively social and does not live a solitary life, its been noted that the species prefers to live within groups of 5-8 within underground burrows, which is almost similar to the European moles behavior. Gestating females will normally give birth to 1-2 young and no more, young will always be born within the main family burrow. Young will remain with their mother for approximately seven to eight months, from which after maturity they are left to fend for themselves, however its been documented that the young and parents will ‘sometimes socialize and live together’.

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Image credit: Mr Jorge Brocca

Currently under Dominican Republic law the species is protected under the General Environmental Law of 64-00. A recovery plan was published back in 1992 aimed at improving surveys, and management of the National Park Pic Macaya followed up with educational plans to help reduce species populations decline. A further implementation within the protection plan was to decrease exotic animal sales of the mammal and address these main issues wildly over the animals range.

Unfortunately since 1992 nothing “hard hitting” has been put into practice, and its quite likely that should anyone of the actions now be played out – its most likely to have no affect whatsoever due to the species now bordering complete extinction within the wild. However I myself do believe that we can only but try create as much noise as possible, applying pressure where needed thus forcing the Haitian Department of Environment, and Government to now protect this specie and implement whatever actions necessary to preserve this mammalian and its current habitat.

Major Threats

The most significant threat to this species appears to be the continuing demise of its forest habitat and predation by introduced rats, mongoose, cats and dogs, especially in the vicinity of human settlements. In Haiti persecution and hunting for food is a major threat, and there is devastating habitat destruction also occurring.

Venom Warning

Despite the fact humans and other predators prey on the animal, and the fact this animal is rather small, Solenondon paradoxus does indeed pack a small “unknown venomous punch”, and you’d not really want to be bitten by this little one. I cannot emphasize the importance of wearing “protective clothing in the way of gloves” should you come into contact with this animal. Venom is administered in more or less the same manner as snakes administer their venom (not poison). Please note there is a very big difference between (venom and poison).

The solenodon is particularly fascinating because it delivers its poison just as a snake does—using its teeth as a syringe to inject venom into its target. Not a lot is known about these unusual mammals. There are only two solenodon species: One lives on Cuba and the other on Hispaniola (home to Haiti and the Dominican Republic). At night when the species goes in search of food venom would typically be administered to more larger prey such as frogs, and smaller reptilians that the animal also feeds on, despite the animals diet mainly consisting of insects. While the venom is not “considered dangerous to humans” there is actually no hard hitting evidence that its venom is or isn’t dangerous.

The reason I state that, is because most handlers within zoological gardens do actually wear gloves in order to protect themselves from being bitten. So theoretically speaking it would be considered safe to say that while little is known about the animals venomous side – please wear gloves should you come into contact with the animal until more data can be located on the animals venom Etc.

There remains no current data in relation to how many mature and non-mature solenodon individuals there are within the wild, furthermore little is known about life expectancy, however locals have stated local populations can/have lived for up-to 5-7 years.

I am unsure what the future holds for this rather peculiar animal, its one of very few mammals that do actually have the ability to administer a venomous bite via its salivary glands too. The Hispaniolan solenodon represents a remarkable amount of unique evolutionary history, diverging from other living mammal groups some 75 million years ago and before the extinction of the dinosaurs. Conservation efforts don’t seem to be improving the animals population levels, however I am told that conservation actions have been planned. Will they work though now is another story.

The clock is ticking fast for this little one…While I want to believe that we can do something I do believe that its probably too late. Therefore I predict that my next document on this species will be informing the general public of its wild extinction. That would be considered quite sad to be fair regarding my look at things. Check out the video below.

“EXTINCTION IS IMMINENT”

Thank you for reading. 

Dr Jose C. Depre. PhD. MEnvSc. BSc(Hons) Botany, PhD(NeuroSci) D.V.M.

Environmental, Botanical and Human Science. 

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Endangered Species Monday: Leptobrachium leucops | Yin and Yang

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Endangered Species Monday: Leptobrachium leucops

This Monday’s (E.S.P) Endangered Species watch Post I document on this utterly stunning species of Asiatic toad, which some people believe is possibly a frog. Before reading any further, please check out this toads amazing eyes, stunning don’t you think? The species was “allegedly identified back in 2011” by an environmentalist identified only as Dr Stuart Rowley. Welcome to the Yin and Yang Frog.

Evidence tracking shows that a “Dr John Stuart Rowley, 1907-1968 whom I believe was an ornithologist from the United States, may have been the primary ‘herpetologist that located and documented on the species above’, however I believe that I am still slightly wrong on this and that Dr Jodi Rowley can shed more information on this amazing reptilian. Image credit: Mme Dr Jodi Rowley.

Listed as vulnerable due to the species living within a small habitat estimated to be 7,617 km2, the L. leucops is endemic to Viet Nam, South East Asia, furthermore there are no records that prove the species is used within the Asiatic medicine trade known as (TCM), Traditional Chinese Medicine. Populations are now known to be decreasing primarily due to the illegal and unregulated trade of timber, which is growing rapidly out of control within Viet Nam, Thailand and China.

Leptobrachium leucops  is now known to be residing within only ten locations in Viet Nam, and to be honest there is little known about this elusive reptilian other than a handful of threats, and its identified habitat which is somewhat frustrating as the species is rapidly dwindling into I believe extinction. Experts “rediscovered this rather unusual toad within the Bidoup Núi Bà National Park, Viet Nam, South East Asia back in 2011, the scientists were from America, Australia and Viet Nam.”

The common name for this species as you may already have noticed by its utterly peculiar eyes is – The Yin and Yang Toad, although some reports have suggested that the “Yin and Yang Toad” is possibly a “Yin and Yang Frog”. Please view the image below.

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Image Credit. Dr Jodi Rowley, Yin and Yang Toad/Frog?

The DINews.com, Viet Nam stated “When it comes to frogs in the genus Leptobrachium, the eyes have it. Among its more than 20 species, there is a remarkable variety of eye colouration. Leptobrachium leucops or Yin and Yang frog, discovered in 2011 in the wet evergreen and cloud forest in southern Vietnam, is distinguished by its striking black and white eyes”…

NB: There doesn’t seem to be any scientific reference that suggests this species is a toad or frog. The SSC Amphibian Specialist Group merely states “species” rather than “frog or toad”. 

The Yin and Yang reptilian resides at high altitudes in montane tropical forest of which the reptilians diet compromises mainly grubs, flies, worms and grasshoppers. Leptobrachium leucops is like most frogs and toads carnivorous and will occasionally also consume small amounts of meat.  The species is not known to a be a migrant either.

As explained above populations are known to be on the decline, however until further research is undertaken its unsure as to what extent declines are. The SSC Amphibian and Reptilian Group was quoted “Further research is required to determine this species’ actual range and abundance, but due to ongoing habitat loss and fragmentation, its population is suspected to be decreasing”…

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Image Credit: Dr Jodi Rowley / Panda.org 

MAJOR THREATS

The harvest of timber and non-timber forest products are likely to result in some habitat loss and modification, which is a potential threat to the species. The construction of a road through Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park may serve as a barrier to dispersal and is likely to increase habitat disturbance.

It’s unsure what the future holds for this rather unusual reptilian due to limited research since 2011. The species as we know it is listed as vulnerable, and should further research show a continued increase in relation to logging and habitat disturbances, its likely the species may be re-listed as (endangered). We can only hope that the team of American, Australian and Vietnamese scientists that allegedly discovered the species back in 2011 – can shed more light on this rather unusual reptilian.

This is the shortest and limited (detailed) article I do believe I have ever written regarding anyone of the animals within the I.A.R.F. Endangered Species watch Post articles printed every Monday and Friday. One does have to take their hat off though this truly spectacular species of reptile, those eyes are just utterly amazing, and is this where the “Yin and Yang Asiatic designs” originated from? Have a great Monday..

Thank you for reading. 

Chief Environmental Officer and Executive Officer. 

International Animal Rescue Foundation. 

Dr Jose C. Depre  PhD. MEnvSc. BSc(Hons) Botany, PhD(NeuroSci) D.V.M.

Environmental & Human Science

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Vegan Friday: Chinese Potato Pancake.

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Chinese Potato Pancake

Since 2014 we have been running our vegan and vegetarian (Monday’s and Friday Recipe sharing posts). We run these posts every Monday and Friday and not every day as we don’t believe in pushing such diets, cultures, or way of eating down the general public’s throat. We also believe its the best option for any would-be starter planning on going vegan or vegetarian.

If everyone gave up meat once a week, and then consumed their normal diet during the remainder of the days, it does indeed have a big impact (on you and the planet around us). Once you’ve tried Monday, you may then want to try a non-meat or dairy day on Friday. There is no such thing as can’t, give it a try, one day a week, if you like it then try Friday.

And if you just don’t like it full stop – then simply stop. We’re not going to moan, shout, scream, bully, make you feel guilty, or show you horrific and graphic images of “dead and diseased slaughterhouse animals”, simply because you don’t want to take the vegan or veggie plan up.

That’s just crazy, and bullying, furthermore pressuring someone into doing something that they do not want to do, has shown in market and sociology research that the individual is likely to never return again (should they have that little inkling they may want to give it a try in the future). You are not at liberty whatsoever to view anyone the recipes hereto, or even on our Facebook vegan and vegetarian page here

Think of it like giving up smoking, one gradually reduces day by day, your body becomes used to the gradual withdrawal and eventually if you like it, you move away from the habit, or in this case from meat and dairy products full stop. (Please note that eating meat or consuming dairy is not a habit either) and we’re not under any circumstances going to block you, de-friend you, hate you, or anything other (because you are no different to us). We see that behavior as a little “extreme” if not bordering food/diet racism. We don’t do racism, nor hate. And if you a vegan or veggie behaving in this way >> doors that way, we’ve not time for that nonsense and extreme behavior.

Hence why we’ll continue these meat and dairy free Monday’s and Fridays every week aimed at over 7.9 million supporters internationally on all our platforms worldwide.  We will share, copy or include our own recipes. If you have your very own recipe then please feel free to share that with us via contacting the organisation below. Its your body, and your world, do as you see fit, and what you feel suits you.

Ingredients and Instructions

Use a slice to shape the pancake so that they can be uniform in thickness. At the first part of frying, use medium fire so that the pancake can form quickly and then remember to slow your fire, otherwise the pancake might be burnt easily.

2 middle size potato, shredded
1/2 cup of starch (I use sweet potato starch)
1/2 teaspoon salt or as needed
1 pinch of ground black pepper powder
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
Around 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Dips

1 tablespoon Hunan Chopped chili sauce
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon boiled water or stock
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

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Instructions

Peel the potatoes and cut into thin shreds. You may use a shredding tool. Try to make them similar in size so the cooking time can be similar too.

In a large bowl, add salt, ground black pepper powder, five spice powder and starch. Mix well and set aside for around 5 minutes.

Brush some oil in a pan, fry one side of the pancake over medium fire for around 1 to 2 minutes until shaped and slightly brown. Turn it over and continue frying the second side. Then slow down your fire and turn over the pancake several times to fry the two sides until crispy and brown.

Serve directly or with the dips you want.It can be matched with sweet chili sauce or tomato sauce.
Notes

Decide your dipping sauce firstly and adjust the salt accordingly.

For more recipes check this amazing site out here: http://www.chinasichuanfood.com/ (credited)

“HAVE A NICE DAY”


Endangered Species Friday: Gastropholis prasina.

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Endangered Species Friday: Gastropholis prasina

In this Fridays Endangered Species Watch Post (ESP), I focus briefly on this rather elusive species of Green Keel bellied Lizard, that’s endemic to the continent of Africa. I’ve long adored our African reptilians, unfortunately they’re own habitat like many larger species of fauna is under threat… (Image credited: S. Spawls) Green Keel bellied Lizard.

Listed as (near threatened) the species was primarily identified by Dr Franz Werner (15 August 1867 in Vienna – 28 February 1939 in Vienna) was an Austrian zoologist and explorer. Specializing as a herpetologist and entomologist, Werner described numerous species and other taxa of frogs, snakes, insects, and other organisms.

I thank Dr Werner (despite not being alive today), for his truly amazing journeys all over the African continent of which he located many hundreds of different reptiles, snakes, frogs, worms, and an assortment of other mammals. Had Dr Werner not followed on from his fathers footsteps its quite likely the Green Keel bellied Lizard wouldn’t be known today (among many other animals this amazing man identified).

Gastropholis prasina was originally identified back in 1904, then re-classified by Dr Loverbridge back in 1936 as (Bedriagaia moreaui ). However today this is not the species true name, G. prasina remains the true identity. Endemic to Kenya and Tanzania, the species is commonly known found along the eastern arc of Kenya and Tanzania’s coastal plain.

Localities are: Watamu, Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Amani in the Usambara Mountains, Tanga, Zaraninge Forest, and the Nguru Mountains. The reptilian probably also occurs in Kenya’s Shimba Hills,  however this has yet to be fully confirmed.

Populations are known to be “severely fragmented”, which has led to concerns that the species may soon be re-listed as (vulnerable or even endangered). Current historical data records show no evidence of a mean population count sparking more concerns that the species may be more “threatened than has been led to believe”.  For now we can only assume (but not estimate) what the population count may be based on location and trapping (see image below). (updates to follow). Please view the map below of which details where the highest abundance of Green Keel bellied Lizard habitats remain today.

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Image: Identified habitat locations of the Green Keel bellied Lizard. 

Past records state the species is either “rare or considered very rare”, however I must point out that this historical data is from 1989 and a further assessment dated 2002. Vast swathes of habitat has been lost since the 1980’s and early millennium, habitat destruction is rife within Kenya and Tanzania, poaching, bush meat trade and land conversions are also increasing annually.. So in all honesty, none knows for sure if the species is now (to date rare or very rare), as records are out of date, which is an observational fact!

Unfortunately the species is neither listed on (Cites appendix I or II) despite the fact the reptilian is near (vulnerable). There remains no evidence that the Green Keel bellied Lizard is used within trade, or the Traditional African Medicine Trade (TAM). However there is evidence that the reptilian is collected during large scale tree felling for displays in local snake farms. Its quite possible the species “may be collected to feed snakes too” which if true could be seriously detrimental to the wild populations that are still unknown.

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Image credit: Torsten Kunsch 

Green Keel bellied Lizard is diurnal (either comes out during the day or not). The reptilian is also known to be quite secretive and arboreal (living mostly in or among trees), which could explain why the reptilian is at the best of times difficult to locate and study, especially if the animal wants to come out only at night. Environmental scientists are in a sense playing cat and mouse when it comes to studying that is.

Despite the species living primarily among trees, there is no evidence that the animal lives high up among the canopies either, (confusing I know). Specimens have been located mainly close to the ground or next to the base of trees, as seen within the images above (1-2). Further studies have shown that the reptilian can live as high as 12 meters from base level within the tree, but not exactly the canopy.

Investigations haven’t really shed much light as to whether the species is indeed affected by habitat disturbance. However where cashew nut farms are being grown within the animals habitat of which these farms have turfed up the animals natural homes, there does appear to be some evidence that proves the Green Keel bellied lizard cannot tolerate this type of habitat disturbance, so we’ll need to be looking into this more closely, followed up with surveys in relation to intensive logging and species collection.

While the Green Keel bellied Lizard is not listed on either of the appendixes, the reptilian is known to inhabited ‘protected parks’ being that of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and the Amani and Zaraninge Forest.

Major Threats

Coastal forest is rapidly disappearing within this species’ range, and is thought likely to represent a threat to the lizard. While it has been recorded from cashew plantations, it is thought to require continuous tree cover. Expanding human populations along the fertile East African coast, and associated agricultural development, are the major threats to forest in this region (2014). Much of the species’ coastal distribution is, however, within well-protected areas, and its largest distribution centre is inland in the Nguru Mountains.

It’s uncertain what the future holds for this rather secretive lizard, furthermore its evident that threats while minimal are still present and increasing, we still don’t know what the actual true population count is neither. More studies need to be conducted to determine the exact population, and where required the necessary protection plans and (listing on either Appendix I or II) applied.

Video: Green Keel bellied Lizard in Captivity

Thank you for reading and please follow me on Twitter for more great news updates by clicking the link below… Have a Great Weekend.

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Dr Jose C. Depre PhD. MEnvSc. BSc(Hons) Botany, PhD(NeuroSci) D.V.M.

Environmental, Botanical & Human Science

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Endangered Species Monday: Papustyla pulcherrima | Special Report.

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Endangered Species Monday: Papustyla pulcherrima

Manus Green Tree Snail – Very first invertebrate to be listed on the Endangered Species Act of the United States of America (2015) Endangered Species Post Special Report. 

This Monday’s Endangered Species Post (ESP) I take a wee glimpse into the life of the Green Tree Snail, also commonly known by Papua New Guinea’s natives as the Manus Green Tree Snail. Image Credit: Stephen J. Richards.

Identified by Professor Rensch 1931, Rensch was born on the 21st January 1900 in Thale in Harz and died on the 4th April 1990 in Münster, (Germany), Professor Rensch was an evolutionary biologist, zoologist, ethologist, neurophysiologist and philosopher and co-founder of the synthetic theory of evolution. He was professor of Zoology and Director of the Zoological Institute at the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster. Together with his wife Mme Ilse Rensch he also worked in the field of Malacology and described several new species and subspecies of land snails.

The Manus Green Tree Snail is identified as Papustyla pulcherrima commonly known as the Emerald Green Snail. From 1983-1994 this particular species of snail was considered (extremely rare). Back in 1996 when scientists managed to again finally catch up with this stunning little mollusk, the species was then listed as (data deficient) of which to date there remains little information about this (rare) but beautiful snail.

P. pulcherrima is endemic to the Papa New Guinea northern island of Manus of which the species is listed as (near threatened), and has also been reported on the adjacent Los Negros Island. Environmental scientists have confirmed from villagers on the main Manus Island that the species is not located anywhere else. However there are some sketchy reports that the species “may be located on surrounding islands”, however there is no evidence to back these claims up.

Environmental scientists have confirmed for now that the species is located in only 12-13 areas of the Manus Island[s]. Further reports have confirmed that mature individuals are on the decline (which if not controlled could evidently see the species re-listed as vulnerable or endangered). The Manus Green Tree Snail is not believed to be living within fragmented zones. The species is restricted to forest and low intensity garden ‘type’ habitat. Declines have been noted within all 12-13 identified habitats on the Manus Island and adjacent Los Negros Islands. Population history is pretty much undocumented although has been shown to be slowly declining.

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Image: Manus Green Tree Snail.

Back in 1930 when Professor Rensch identified the Manus Green Tree Snail, locals soon began collecting the species for trade thus seeing the mollusk now nearing endangered listing. Demand for the Manus Green Tree Snail has now drastically increased threatening the species furthermore. Locals continue to collect this rather unusual colored species shell for use within the jewelry trade. There are now “very serious concerns” that trade may eventually push the species into extinction.

Due to mass trade exploitation the Manus Green Tree Snail is the very first invertebrate to be listed on the Endangered Species Act of the United States of America. International trade has been controlled by export permit since 1975 under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) appendix II. Unfortunately this is not stopping locals from harvesting the species, and trade is still continuing despite it now a criminal offence under United States and some international laws.

“Overexploitation threatens the Manus Snail”

Market sales data collected from the Lorengau market, over a six day period suggest that annual sales at the market may approach 5,000 shells. Investigations by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) reveal that large quantities of shells are still being attempted to be exported out of the country. Online searches revealed the sale of the shells, often marketed as antiques, occurring in open forums and internet market places based in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States of America (USA). International Animal Rescue Foundation has ran numerous traces online of which located yet again Ebay as being a number one trading site of the “threatened species”, please view the image below and click the image link that’ll direct you to that site.

“EBAY JAPAN IS A HOTBED FOR ILLEGAL TRADE OF THE MANUS GREEN SNAIL”

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International Animal Rescue Foundation’s External Affairs Department and the Environmental Cyber Crimes Unit located many a sites trading the Manus Green Tree Snail’s shell which is illegal under some trade law, unfortunately the Ebay site listed above, located within Japan is one of many more that are trading (despite the species nearing extinction).

I.A.R.F’s Environmental Cyber Crimes Unit have since filed a complaint with Ebay, providing all the relevant data to now remove these species from their sites, however its likely to prove negative as the trader could very well state they harvested or purchased the shells before international laws were drafted. Furthermore a trace of the owner that owns this site above which is in violation of the United States and Cites laws (is located within the United States). So in regards to enforcement, breaking this link is going to be somewhat of a tough cookie. Further trade was witnessed here via what we can only believe is alleged “antiques”.

Further trade all of which is illegal has been recorded hereto – this site linked back to a Mr Rob West of 121 Henderson Road, Sheldon, Brisbane, Queensland 4157 Australia, Telephone: 610732061636. Mr West from Brisbane categorically states that he doesn’t own a shop, and is a one man band, yet clearly this link states otherwise. Further evidence revealed antique trade conducted on the Ebay site, see in the image below (illegal under United States law).

Click the image link below to view more. 

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“Illegal to trade under the Endangered Species Act of the United States of America”

The environmental wildlife crimes investigation team linked to TRAFFIC and Cites stated:

It is possible the avoidance of conventional nomenclature is an attempt to avoid detection by authorities. In some cases, sellers on internet market places were based in CITES signatory countries (including: Australia, Italy, New Zealand, Singapore and USA) while others were not (e.g. Taiwan). Currently, volumes of shells on sale in such online market places appear low, suggesting that the existing controls on international trade maybe adequate. However, given that the online prices of shells were often orders of magnitude greater than market prices on Manus Island, vigilance will be required to insure that illegal international demand does not fuel a resurgence in snail collection.

Despite the massive trade on Manus Green Tree Snails online and within open Asian markets, its literally impossible to determine if this trade will eventually lead to the species being pushed into extinction. However it MUST be noted that there are currently only 12-13 identified habitats that the snail currently inhabits. And based on traces online conducted by the I.A.R.F’s External Affairs Department – trade is most certainly “out of control”, and not as Cites has reported (2012).

The shell of this species is a vivid green color, which is unusual in snails. The green color is however not within the solid, calcium carbonate part of the shell but instead it is a very thin protein layer known as the periostracum. Under the periostracum the shell is yellow.

MAJOR THREATS

The Manus Green Tree Snail is mostly threatened by habitat destruction through forest clearance: logging, plantation development (especially rubber) and to a lesser extent road developments. Increasing human population growth and an increasing cultural demand for deriving cash incomes from the land will likely see the rate of forest degradation increase in the future. Harvest occurs when trees are felled as part of traditional shifting cultivation and the snails, typically found in the canopy, suddenly become exposed. Such harvesting is not uncommon but it is likely to be of lower significance than the longer term habitat degradation caused by such agricultural practices.

While harvest for illicit international trade is occurring, the volumes are not “allegedly” thought to be large compared to historic rates, although they may approach levels seen in the legal domestic trade. However, given that the prices of shells internationally are often orders of magnitude greater than market prices on Manus Island, vigilance will be required to insure that illegal international demand does not fuel a resurgence in snail collection.

Notable deposits of gold have been found in central Manus and a mine operation will likely result in the next decade although no details of the plan have been released (as of 2014). The forests of Manus Island were badly affected by the 1997-1998 El Niño which resulted in a prolonged drought. Should climatic change result in increased rates of similar conditions this may constitute a future threat to the snail species, however, current predictions suggest that future incidence of drought in Papua New Guinea will decrease (Australian Bureau of Metrology and CSIRO 2011).

Despite the reassurances from Cites, WCS and the local wildlife organisations – evidence clearly points to large scale online trade legal and illegal.  Furthermore there is no telling if shells online are antique or smuggled from the Manus Islands which is very concerning.

Manus Green Tree Snail is the first such snail to be listed on the threatened list of endangered species (USA). Research also explains to us that its likely the species will be plundered into extinction – very soon. Enjoy the video.

Thank you for reading, and please be most kind to share to create awareness and education. 

Dr Jose C. Depre  PhD. MEnvSc. BSc(Hons) Botany, PhD(NeuroSci) D.V.M.

Environmental & Human Science

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Sources:

IUCN, WWF, CITES, WCS, Ebay, Wikipedia, Australian Bureau of Metrology and CSIRO


Food Violations – Pet Meat Trade | Food Terrorism.

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FOOD VIOLATIONS IN THE PET MEAT TRADE

One of thee biggest and most concerning problems I witness within the pet meat trade is multiple food and hygiene violations. Violations that place both human and animal life at risk of disease and in worst case scenarios – Death. Furthermore I often witness many organisations online that either disregard this critically important health risk, or seem more concerned about posting graphic images on the trade while soliciting donations, yet seemingly not bothering to educate their viewers on the “importance of these images and videos, down to how these images and videos can actually help to wipe this repulsive trade out once and for all”.

So today I have again decided to document on such violations, but am going to educate all seven million of our viewers around the world of just how serious the images depicted herein actually are. I am going to keep this document as easy reading as possible, while detailing the facts briefly but in as much detail as I can (without confusing people with scientific jargon). Below I have included a number of images within this document. The images contain small white circles that point out minor and extremely major food violations, all of which in the Western world would see such vendors and restaurants closed down immediately for placing public health at risk of contracting diseases.

FOOD VIOLATION | CROSS CONTAMINATION

Firstly I want you the reader to think –  If I hadn’t of circled the most important food violations within this image below, what would you the viewer think of this image? Let me try and answer that question for you. Firstly I’d most likely be enraged that a dead feline had been slaughtered, and is now being prepared to cook to consume. And secondly, (there is no second). There is no second because my own anger, frustration and shock has overwhelmed me, of which that is all I see within this image, a dead cat, and nothing more.

I am now technically angry, and upset that someone has killed an innocent cat, and then I move onto the next image. My next thought would probably be to either leave a derogatory comment under that post, or to donate to the organisation that hasn’t shown any information or education about this image or any “graphic” pet meat trade image whatsoever. 

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Within the image above I have highlighted nine of the most common food violations that would be prompt any food safety inspectorate to immediately close this restaurant or vendor down within the modern western world. What are these violations? Let’s take a look.

  1. The window in the far left has a cracked wooden frame that bacteria would/will thrive within.
  2. On the right hand side of the window is mold that bacteria will grow within, that’s not forgetting the toxic spores that the mold would emit in to the ambient preparation environment thus ending up on the surrounding food itself leading to food spoilage.
  3. A water bottle that is possibly being used by the cook looks pretty innocent doesn’t it? Well that pretty innocent water bottle is situated next to an uncooked dead animal carcass. While the bottle may be sealed, the cook may cross contaminate that bottle with blood from the animal, simply by a single touch of his/her hand. Once the bottle is turned upside down to drink from, blood drains from that bottle into the cooks mouth which could or will see food poisoning occur from secondary cross contamination.
  4. The white circle in the right hand side of the image, shows an open window. While that open window may look innocent, the open window is a free entry for pests and diseases to enter into the preparation area thus spoiling the food (E.g.) flies, aphids, and parasites. Furthermore should the outside environment temperature be warmer than the inside ambient temperature, food such as meat, dairy, or cooked meats will heat up, which will see bacteria multiple on the foods spoiling them. For every twenty minutes bacteria is present, that bacteria will double in number. 1,000 bacteria = many thousands more.
  5. Dirty chopping boards can harbor thousands if not billions of bacteria, furthermore if this chopping board hasn’t been washed or even replaced every six months to a year, it looses its triclosan (antibacterial cover) which helps to kill off bacteria. While there is a wooden board present, that too is just as disgusting and filthy, and harboring anything from a million to a billion bacteria.
  6. The black bucket itself is a breeding ground for any bacteria to thrive in. The black bucket has what looks like chaff marks on of which bacteria will weed themselves out of and contaminate any food nearby.
  7. Vegetables that are unprepared or prepared shouldn’t be anywhere near a “raw meat preparation zone”. Vegetables and meat cooks at different temperatures, furthermore meat and vegetables require either shorter or longer periods of cooking. Salads should not under any circumstances be anywhere near “raw meat zones” whatsoever.
  8. Cracked tiles are the perfect breeding ground for any would be bacteria to grow. Furthermore cracked surfaces cannot be cleaned adequately which in turn leaves the area unclean. I wouldn’t even want to guess how many millions of bacteria are actually present within this single cracked tile.
  9. Blood and general dirty surfaces is not good food practice, and should any salad vegetables come into contact with this surface, I’d hate to think just how much bacteria the “customer” would be consuming (over that of pet meat).

The above nine food violations are commonly seen within all Asian and African unregulated food trades. These type of violations are commonly identified as (cross contamination’s). With no regulation or even monitoring of these trades, it paves the way for trillions of bacteria, diseases and virus to spawn their way into the general public’s food thus equaling food poisoning caused by human negligence.

As a human and environmental scientist I am at the best of times shocked if not perplexed at the sheer ignorance of Asian and African governments that are all up for protecting human health and safety, yet unregulated meat trades such as the above – are an imminent disaster waiting to happen on a gargantuan scale. On one end you have armed forces and police protecting people from terrorism or terrorists of which each terror atrocity kills on average 100-200 innocent civilians (Est). Yet in Asia a staggering (700,000) people die from food poisoning annually. Source: http://www.iccservices.org.uk/pdf/Food_Poisoning_Facts.pdf So I think its safe to say that food poisoning viruses are indeed the biggest threat to homeland security, something Asian and African governments seem oblivious too.

“FOOD TERRORISM KILLS 700,000 A YEAR IN ASIA ANNUALLY”

Lets leave food poisoning out of the equation now and concentrate on actual “human on human terrorism” of which in the past year terror attacks have risen by 80% in the past 365 days. Furthermore lets not forget the very (concerning 700,000 thousand innocent people), most of which are food consumers that are killed by poor food hygiene in Asia alone.

Back in 2014 the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) stated that some 32,658 people were slaughtered by terrorist attacks worldwide, totaling on average a combined 140,000 terror attacks. 2014 was marked by the (GTI) as being the largest kill rate seeing terrorist kill rates soar by some 80% in a single year from 2013-2014. Source: http://economicsandpeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Global-Terrorism-Index-2015.pdf

The index ranks the level of terrorism in 162 countries – representing 99.5% of the world’s population – by measuring the number of attacks, injuries, deaths and property damage as a result of terror attacks. The UK ranked 28th in the index – higher than the United States, Iran and France, although the report did not include the impact of the Paris attacks in which 129 people were killed.

Terrorism remained highly concentrated in just five countries, with Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria accounting for 78% of terror-related deaths in 2014, the index found. The UK recorded the highest number of terrorist incidents of Western countries with 102 last year, although they did not result in any deaths. The majority of the attacks were in Northern Ireland and involved the New IRA, the report said.

CAN YOU SEE THE TERRORIST?

Okay, so now I am going to show you a picture below of which its very obvious what the image depicts. An armed individual that has “probably killed numerous innocent civilians”. Can you see him? Keep telling yourself, “I can see him, he’s armed and he’s certainly dangerous looking, and he’s very much within my sight”.

foodterror CAN YOU SEE THESE TERRORISTS?

So you can see the individual in front of you whom is holding a rifle. 2014-2015 most of the 36,000 people that were killed as a direct result of terror atrocities and/or attacks actually witnessed their aggressor before they were killed. Asian and African governments have been quoted as clamping down hard on terrorism, yet over 700,000 people a year are killed as a direct result of food terror – yet this critically important issue within the pet meat trade seems to be going ignored. 700,000 people is indeed more people killed annually than any terror attack recorded since the WWI and WWII.

In the image below what can you see? Take a good hard long look at this image. Can you see the terrorist or terrorists should I say? The answer is of course – no you cannot see them. You cannot see these terrorists or terror “suspects” as they are approximately 50 to 60 micrometers long (I.e – microbes). Lets take a look.

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The image above looks pretty much innocent in the sense that there is no immediate threat whatsoever to human life. The woman to the right is not armed, and the guy to her right is going about his daily duties of food preparation. Unfortunately there are over a dozen terror suspects within this image waiting to take action on their next victim[s]. That victim could have been anyone of the 700,000 Asian citizens that consumed dog or cat meat from unhygienic premises, that poses a direct “threat to human health” in the way of “food terrorism”. So lets take a look at these non-visible, and virtually invisible terrorists.

  1. A dirty cooking pan hanging from a filthy brick wall. Any species of animal could have at some point took refuge on this wall. Lets say a chicken. Chickens defecate, and with chicken defecation comes germs and bacteria. Salmonella is the number one terrorist then in this situation, as salmonella can easily be passed onto humans via chicken droppings.
  2. An innocent (unarmed) cooking lid, looks pretty much cool, calm and collected. What’s harboring underneath that lid though, or more to the point – what has the lid been placed on? Lets say a dog has rubbed its backside up against that wall (yummy)!. What’s the likelihood of contracting a virus? High if that lid is not cleaned. and the virus is? Toxoplasma gondii is likely. The lid could be innocently placed onto or next to raw non-cooked or cooked – foods thus equaling (cross contamination).
  3. Dirty rags, Mmm, looks pretty much safe, and not likely to pounce or fire a quick succession of AK47 rounds off into the air. What the hell is on that rag though that’s most likely going to be used to clean pots? Flu viruses, Rhinovirus, Norovirus, E. coli, salmonella, Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) and campylobacter are all just a handful of nasty food germ terrorists that we really don’t require within our food from filthy rotten germ infested rags. Oh just for the record, Norovirus kills over 200,000 people a year. Lovely!
  4. Not quite sure what this is hanging down from the main food preparation area (that shouldn’t be outside). Whatever it is, its not important as such. More what has landed or took refuge on this overhanging decoration. Let’s say wild birds have visited for a brief eavesdropping, and they want to leave you a farewell present of wild-bird feces. Any food that is prepared under that overhanging decoration can become contaminated with a STAGGERING SIXTY DISEASES that you seriously do not want in your food! One of the most serious food contamination’s is that of Avian Flu that has killed many hundreds of people throughout Asia.
  5. Chemical contamination of food seems to be increasing within pet meat consuming countries – especially on the Asia continent. There shouldn’t be under any circumstances any form of non-food chemicals anywhere near food or within a food preparation area. Lets say this tub of unknown ingredients is “Lean Meat Powder Pork” commonly used in Asian food preparation within China. Lean Meat Powder Pork can cause – dizziness, heart palpitations, diarrhoea and profuse sweating – in worst case scenarios this substance can cause death.
  6. An open filthy river, again looks pretty much innocent. However any insect such as flies can simply swoop in for a mere taste of the local specialties thus spoiling food. That innocent fly could have anything on its pads from animal dung to dog feces. The most common virus a fly could leave is that of a vomiting virus. Not really what I’d call “good customer service”.
  7. Hairnets must always be worn within food preparation and raw meat preparation. While there is no real major food terrorist here the woman could have touched a bloodied animal carcass, then patted her hair down. That means a cross contamination of a virus of some sort. Lets say she has touched raw pork, and then goes over to inspect the local ‘cooked dog or cat meat’. She brushes her hair again, and a loose hair follicle contaminated with raw pork blood ends up in food that doesn’t require cooking or further cooking, Hepatitis E viruses, Trichinosis, and Ecoli, are three of many viruses that can end up in food causing severe and unwanted sickness, simply by not wearing a hair net.
  8. The guy to the innocent woman’s right is again not really looking dangerous, apart from the fact that he has no T-Shirt on or even a protective food apron which is pretty much vile and a 100% food violation within the Western world. Aprons stop anything from hair, skin cells, down to human viruses from being passed onto the food. Furthermore gloves are not being worn for the “average of twenty minutes” that would keep a barrier in between the food prep and the food. Most common types of food virus are vomiting and cold bugs.
  9. Improper foot-ware is not being used within a food preparation area, which could in this case pose a danger “to the food server and preparatory individual”. We know that rabies is very problematic within Asia and accounts for thousands of deaths every year. Should anyone of the (live or dead stolen pets), be infected with rabies, and the man with no proper and safe foot-ware have open wounds on his feet, he’s likely to contract the deadly rabies virus equaling death!
  10. And finally in at number ten, as like the young man on the floor preparing food, the woman is also wearing open toed shoes which is again a big no no within food preparation or any food service. Unwashed nails contain the natural microflora or resident bacteria and microbes and the transient bacteria from the objects that the hands come in contact with. When the hands are unwashed, there are millions and millions of bacteria living and growing on it. And you really don’t want them bacteria in your food.

CAN YOU SEE THE FOOD TERRORIST NOW?

The whole purpose of this article is to educate not discriminate. Over 700,000 people die every-year in Asia alone from food viruses, and food contamination. That’s 700,000 too many of which The Anti Pet & Bush Meat Coalition are trying to stop in relation to the virus filled dog and cat meat trade. Please sign the petition below and help by donating via the link.

Donate here:

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My name is Dr Jose. C. Depre and thank you for reading.

Dr Jose C. Depre PhD. MEnvSc. BSc(Hons) Botany, PhD(NeuroSci) D.V.M.

Environmental & Human Science


Vegan Monday: African Sweet Potato Stew.

AFRICAN SWEET POTATO STEW

Every Monday and Friday we normally print a vegan or vegetarian recipe onto our main healthy eating Facebook platform. However as we only have a limited audience of 7.1 million viewers, we’ll be printing every Monday and Friday our vegan and veggie delights onto the speakupforthevoiceless.org server for readers in over 42 countries worldwide. To sign up for free simply click the hyperlink here add you’re email address, and you’ll be sent weekly news on vegan and vegetarian recipes, our endangered species post, and environmental investigations that we are currently working on.

AFRICAN SWEET POTATO STEW RECIPE 

A hearty, delicious African stew with peanuts, coconut milk, sweet potatoes and lightly spicy, earthy flavor. Perfect for a cold winter’s night. 100% vegan. Low sodium. Great for kids, and an excellent stew for all our European, American and Candian friends and supporters that are in the midst of a heavy winter.

INGREDIENTS

SERVES 6 , 6 very hearty servings of stew
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 medium onions
2 carrots
4 celery ribs
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 lbs large sweet potatoes (about 2 large ones)
2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
3 tablespoons peanuts, roasted
1/2 cup light coconut milk

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DIRECTIONS

Prepare in advance your sweet potatoes by peeling them and chopping them into chunks. Dice your carrots, celery and onion. Drain and quarter your tomatoes from the can.

Heat 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add curry powder and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in sweet potatoes, broth and tomatoes, and bring soup to a boil. Simmer, covered, 20 to 30 minutes.

Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, peanuts, cayenne, peanut butter, and coconut milk to the soup, stirring to combine. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
Serve hot; makes 6 very hearty servings.

Enjoy…

 


Endangered Species Monday: Tremarctos ornatus

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Endangered Species Monday: Tremarctos ornatus

This January’s (2016) Endangered Species Watch Post is dedicated to the Tremarctos ornatus, commonly known as the Andean Bear or Spectacled Bear. The species was identified by Dr Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric Cuvier back in 1825. Dr Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric Cuvier lived from (23 August 1769 – 13 May 1832), known as Georges Cuvier, was a French naturalist and zoologist, sometimes referred to as the “Father of paleontology”. Cuvier was a major figure in natural sciences research in the early 19th century and was instrumental in establishing the fields of comparative anatomy and paleontology through his work in comparing living animals with fossils.

From 1982 to 1996 the Andean Bear has been listed as (vulnerable), of which its main threats are habitat loss and major poaching for the animal parts trade.  Within the past thirty years populations have declined by a staggering 30% which qualifies the bear as being listed as (vulnerable). Habitat loss continues at a rate of 2-4% per year, which as yet doesn’t look set to decline. Furthermore identified threats do not look set to decrease anytime soon which could see this stunning animal pushed into extinction very soon.

Poaching is one of the main problems that can be controlled if (anti poaching enforcement) is increased within the bears habitat, unfortunately this is easier said than done. Furthermore, continued habitat destruction and illegal logging will see forest tracks opened up within the bears natural habitat, thus allowing poachers to walk freely into the bears home environment, thus seeing poaching occur. Anti poaching enforcement is a must, and needs to be taken seriously by all international (non-governmental organisations) that are working to sustain this animals welfare, and habitat.

Endemic to Bolivia, Colombia; Ecuador; Peru, and Venezuela, populations of the Andean Bear are now known to be decreasing rapidly, however populations are not reported to be (fragmented). Back in 1998 it was estimated by Dr Peyton that there was a mere 20,000 Andean Bears remaining. A 2003 survey, however estimated that there was in between 5,000 to 30,000 Andean Bears remaining. Andean Bears are now commonly located within the eastern Andes of which bear populations exist from the snowline down to 300 m asl in the Tapo-Caparo National Park in Venezuela. Andean Bears can also be located at high altitudes in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Columbia.

Andean Bears are “omnivores”, meaning that they feed exclusively on plant matter, fruits, bark and occasionally will consume meat of other animals, the bears preferred diet though is reported to be species of flora from the Bromeliaceae and Arecaceae. Activity patterns range from strictly diurnal for wild bears in Bolivia to mixed diurnal and nocturnal for reintroduced bears in Ecuador.

“EXTINCTION BY 2030 IS POSSIBLE”

As food is available year-round in all parts of their range, Andean bears do not hibernate. Based on the first few individuals of this species to be monitored using ground telemetry in Bolivia and Ecuador, home ranges overlap to a high degree and minimum home range sizes vary from 10 to 160 km² (although these are underestimates, as the bears were regularly out of range of radiotelemetry in both studies).

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The Andean Bear stands at around 5ft to 6ft tall, and weighs in at around 220, 330lbs. The markings on the Andean bear’s face, neck and chest are exactly like human finger prints (unique to each and every individual Andean Bear). Andean bears are very timid and shy and prefer to live in isolated cloud forests, of which they are “mainly nocturnal” however will at times feed, live and socialize in daylight (although this is considered rare). Favorite foods are cacti, berries and of course honey.

Andean bears are quite typically solitary animals, and will only be seen in pairs during mating season. Females normally give birth to (1-2 cubs), cubs are normally mobile after one month, however will remain with their “mother” for up to eight months, mothers will often be seen with little cub hitching a ride on the back on the mothers back. Population studies state today that there may be no fewer than 3,000 Andean bears in the wild., which if true could soon see the species nearing extinction by 2030.

ANDEAN BEAR THREATS

Habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and the lack of knowledge about the distribution and status of the Andean Bear are the principal threats to this species. Much of the range of the Andean Bear has been fragmented by human activities, largely resulting from the expansion of the agricultural frontier. In some areas, mining, road development and oil exploitation are becoming a greater menace to Andean Bear populations as well as to local communities, due to land expropriation, loss of habitat connectivity, and water and soil contamination.

Many Andean Bear populations are isolated in small to medium-sized patches of intact habitat, particularly in the northern part of the range. The situation tends to improve towards the southern range, with some large patches of wilderness still remaining. Nevertheless, human population growth and national development plans throughout the Tropical Andes continue to be an important cause of habitat fragmentation and to threaten the connectivity among remaining wilderness patches.

Poaching is a serious threat throughout the Andean Bear range. Bears are often killed after damaging crops, particularly maize, or after purportedly killing livestock. Also, Andean Bear products are used for medicinal or ritual purposes and at some localities Andean Bear meat is highly prized. Live bears are also sometimes captured and sold.

Human induced mortality endangers the viability of small remnant populations. Lack of knowledge about the distribution and status is a problem throughout the region. In many areas, information about the status of Andean bears is outdated or, particularly in the southern portion of the range, simply non-existent. The absence of knowledge makes it difficult to develop realistic management plans for the conservation of this species, or to monitor changes in its distribution (reflective of changes in population status).

It is without a doubt the Andean Bear is facing “imminent extinction”, and from studies that are being conducted by various organisations including the International Animal Rescue Foundation Brazil, its very likely this animal is going to be pushed into extinction very soon.

Thank you for reasding the first part of this years (2016) Endangered Species Watch Post, and please feel free to scroll through 2014-2015’s posts below via the automatic scroll new feed bar.

Dr Jose C. Depre PhD. MEnvSc. BSc(Hons) Botany, PhD(NeuroSci) D.V.M. Environmental & Human Science

Chief Environmental Officer and Director 

info@international-animalrescue-foundation.org.uk 

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