ENDANGERED SPECIES MONDAY | HIPPOCAMPUS KUDA
Once a common site within our oceans, the spotted seahorse (common seahorse) is facing extinction. The largest threat known is use and trade within the Traditional Chinese Medicine culture. As of 2015 its estimated that some twenty million (20 million) seahorses are used within the Traditional Chinese Medicine trade. (Photographer unknown).
Known in Mandarin as Hai Ma seahorses are believed to cure a wide spectrum of ailments and diseases and generally help to improve health. There is no evidence that I can locate to prove seahorses can improve human health in anyway shape or form. T.C.M practitioners have alleged seahorses can cure anything from asthma, arteriosclerosis, incontinence, impotence, insomnia, thyroid disorders, skin ailments, broken bones, heart disease, throat infections, abdominal pain, sores, skin infections.
Broken bones? Now that is about as ridiculous as it gets, impotence and broken bones are not illnesses but more physical complaints of which consuming seahorses is about as effective as pouring boiling hot water onto a third degree burn. A study in Taiwan located some fifty eight (58) sea horses from Taiwanese T.C.M vendors. A total of eight (8) different species were located. Seven (7) were listed as vulnerable, while one (1) was listed as endangered.
The species listed as endangered was Hippocampus capensis commonly known as the Knysna seahorse (pictured below). The remaining seven (which doesn’t include the species pictured above) are scientifically identified as Hippocampus algiricus, Hippocampus comes, Hippocampus histrix, Hippocampus kelloggi, Hippocampus kuda, Hippocampus spinosissimus, and Hippocampus trimaculatus. If we include the species above – Hippocampus kuda this makes a total of eight (8) listed as vulnerable, and one (1) listed as endangered equating to nine (9) in total nearing extinction.
Image: Knysna seahorses | Credits Professor Charles Griffiths
Its quite possible there could be many more species of sea horses that haven’t been listed on the International Union for the Conservation Of Natures Red List [IUCN]. Hippocampus kuda was identified back by Dr Pieter Bleeker (July 10, 1819, Zaandam – January 24, 1878, from The Hague) whom was a Dutch medical doctor, ichthyologist, and herpetologist.
He was famous for the Atlas Ichthyologique des Orientales Neerlandaises, his monumental work on the fishes of East Asia published between 1862 and 1877. I don’t state this often however am going to repeat oneself again. Every single species of animal I’ve written about identified from the (1800’s) has almost all but gone extinct or are at least on their way towards extinction. Another pattern I have found is that many animals and plants used within the (T.C.M) trade were being used thousands of years ago – long before non-Asian travelers identified them. When the species are eventually identified – individual specie populations begin declining!
Since 1996-2003 the common seahorse has been listed as vulnerable, populations are declining very fast, furthermore there was little mentioned about the species at CoP17 in Johannesburg, South Africa; a country that is responsible for a large proportion of seahorse harvests. These harvests are legally shipped from South Africa into Asia, yet large numbers of seahorses are decreasing in South Africa.
I.A.R.F.A Environmental Crime Investigators located one legal trader identified as NGWABE TRADING that hosts a supplying ability of TWO HUNDRED METRIC TONS a month. When we inquired where these seahorses are harvested from, and the species caught we were not given a straightforward answer. NGWABE TRADING was though able to supply us with seahorses that have paperwork (all allegedly legal and above-board.) Yet we’re losing the vast majority of our seahorses. Furthermore I am very suspicious as to whether all of these seahorses are being harvested legally.
Two hundred metric tons per month is no different to two hundred metric tons of sand, cement, or rocks. On questioning the fishing company which I myself do suspect illegal poaching is going on here, many of these seahorses are dry traded to Asia. We’re talking big bucks too. So if this trade was restricted, or even banned, its likely South Africa would lose her seahorses in a matter of years, because legal farming operations wouldn’t be allowed if trade bans came into place. Meaning poaching would increase on a wide scale to supply Asia’s appetite for pseudo medicines.
Image: One of many legal online seahorse/fish traders trading to Asia.
Seahorses are also used as an aphrodisiac and to facilitate childbirth in the T.C.M trade. As much as I want to disbelieve this, there is unfortunately “some scientific evidence” that does prove to a degree consuming a regular fish diet can improve sexual behavior within humans; however helping to conceive I am somewhat skeptical about. Sources are cited below for your information from the scientific community.
Between twenty (20) and forty (40) million seahorses are allegedly harvested every-year for the T.C.M trade, however if we go on the amount of trade originating from South Africa – its obvious that by the ton load this number is seriously under-quoted. If I myself was purchasing the minimum ton load of ten (10) tons per month – that would easily equate to over twenty (20) and forty (40) million seahorses per annum based on twelve (12) months.
So I think its safe to say we’re looking at possibly hundreds of millions rather than the claimed IUCN stats. I must also note that the spotted seahorse is listed on Appendix II, and to date we will never really know how many seahorses remain within their endemic range, or how many are illegally harvested?
The common seahorse in question which is the species harvested the most for the T.C.M trade is endemic to the following regions: American Samoa (American Samoa); Australia (Northern Territory, Queensland); Bahrain; Cambodia; Fiji; French Polynesia; Hong Kong; India; Indonesia; Japan; Kuwait; Malaysia; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Mozambique; New Caledonia; Pakistan; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Saudi Arabia; Singapore; Solomon Islands; South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal); Taiwan, Province of China; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Tonga; United States (Hawaiian Is.); and Viet Nam.
Endemic ocean locations are: Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – western central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – eastern central.
Image: Dried Seahorses for sale, China | Credits David Fleetham
Common threats are cited above in more detail. Major threats though are listed below for your immediate attention:
Hippocampus kuda is threatened by damage to its habitats from coastal development and destructive fishing practices. Land-based activities such as coastal construction can diminish seagrass beds and mangroves while leading to increased pollution and siltation in surrounding marine waters. For example, in Malaysia Hippocampus kuda numbers declined due to an extensive port development around the Pulai Estuary that destroyed large tracts of seagrass meadow.
Fishing methods such as trawling result in substantial damage to seagrass beds globally, and especially in the Indo-Pacific. The decline in and fragmentation of the species’ habitats throughout its range indicates possible declines in populations in addition to those caused by fisheries.
All seahorse species have vital parental care, and many species studied to date have high site fidelity, highly structured social behaviour, and relatively sparse distributions. These life history parameters often make species susceptible to exploitation as has been demonstrated for a number of species, including seahorses. Although seahorses also have some traits, such as small body size, fast growth and high fecundity, that may confer resilience to exploitation pressures.
Due to the mode of spawning exhibited by Hippocampus kuda (ovoviviparous brood pouch male parental care), fecundity is comparatively low compared to non-brood pouch spawning fishes and therefore its capacity for population growth is more limited than other species. As a result of the lack of broadcast spawning of pelagic eggs, dispersal of potential recruits is limited. Additionally, given the limited swimming abilities of seahorses, it is highly unlikely that rescue effects would occur from adjacent populations.
Concluding: I am somewhat concerned about the species future survival. CITES is allowing use and trade however those countries that are listed under the convention are allegedly strictly regulated and monitored – I don’t call ten tons per month from one South African company strict regulation. Countries that are importing/exporting must prove they have permits, however I don’t quite understand how this area of monitoring is working – which it clearly isn’t as the seahorse trade is colossal within many Asian countries and South Africa too.
Hippocampus kuda is listed as vulnerable in the National Red Data Books of Singapore and Thailand, and endangered in the Red Data Book of Viet Nam. In France it is illegal to import seahorses under the name H. kuda.
The future is bleak unfortunately and with trade so fanned out, and from what I have seen on my visits to Asia (increasing) I do honestly believe we’re going to be reporting extinctions in the ‘very near future.’ To date there are thirty two (32) identified species of seahorses. Ecologically, they are important in food chains, consuming tiny fish, small shrimp, and plankton, and being consumed by larger fish (such as tuna and rays) and crabs. So if we lose the seahorse we lose yet another vital source of food for endangered tuna species, rays, crabs, and even whales (Etc.)
Thank you for reading and please share to create awareness and to improve education.
Dr Jose C. Depre.
Environmental, Botanical & Human Scientist.
Endangered Species Friday | Bubalus mindorensis
This Friday’s (ESP) Endangered Species Post, I’m touching on a very undocumented species of buffalo that is so endangered – its extremely likely the species will go extinct within the next ten years maximum. (Photographer unidentified).
Listed as (critically endangered) the species was primarily identified back in 1888 by French born Dr Pierre Marie Heude (25 June 1836 – 3 January 1902) whom was a French Jesuit missionary and zoologist. Born at Fougères in the Department of Ille-et-Vilaine, Heude became a Jesuit in 1856 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1867. He went to China in 1868. During the following years, he devoted all his time and energy to the studies of the natural history of Eastern Asia, traveling widely in China and other parts of Eastern Asia.
Endemic to the Philippines B. mindorensis first came to the attention of environmentalists when conservationists began studying the Mindoro Water Buffalo in the early 1940’s of which they found insufficient data relating to the species. Unfortunately from 1986-1996 the species was then suddenly re-listed as (endangered).
Yet the Tamaraw had been known to overseas and native conservation scientists for over THIRTY YEARS of which today we’re now seeing a possible new extinction occurring within the Philippines. How is this possible, when scientists knew about the status of the species, why hasn’t a single zoo removed small populations to house in protective breeding captivity for later reintroduction into the same habitat, or new pastures?
Meanwhile from the year 2000 to 2008 the species was again (re-listed from endangered to critically endangered). Today the Tamaraw is now bordering complete extinction within the wild, and from what we know there is ‘possibly’ no protective captivity projects anywhere around the globe to preserve the species for future reintroduction in the wild. We do hope that we’re wrong?
From what we know based on the last census from 2013 (three years ago) there was noted within the wild only 105 mature individuals remaining. This equates to exactly 105-210 mature individuals (estimate). Within the past three years its very likely we have probably lost half of the remaining populations known, which could mean there is only 52-205 mature individuals remaining within the wild to date.
The species is not known to be fragmented, however populations are still declining. The major threat was once identified as hunting, although ‘allegedly’ isn’t known to be a threat now?. As a scientist and environmental crime CEO I find this very difficult to comprehend, due to the amount of horned ungulates which are being located throughout South East Asia. I must state though: my environmental crimes officers as yet haven’t located any Tamaraw horns or trophy heads.
Image: Tamaraw. Credits: Ruisu Fang.
Formerly, Tamaraw were found across the whole of Mindoro from sea level to the high peaks (to over 1,800 m), inhabiting open grassland or forest glades, thick bamboo-jungle, marshy river valleys, and low to mid-elevation forests. The species is currently confined to a few remote areas over 200 m, and is most often recorded in secondary forest and mixed forest/grassland.
Tamaraw are largely solitary, although females occur with offspring. Males and females occasionally associate temporarily throughout the year, which is similar to other bovines species, such as African buffalo, banteng and gaur. The solitary nature of the species is probably an adaptation to forest habitats, where large groups would prove to be a hindrance. Tamaraw feed primarily on grasses, as well as young bamboo shoots, in open grasslands, resting within tall grasses or dense forest. Although formerly diurnal, Tamaraw have become largely nocturnal due to human encroachment and disturbance.
“WE’RE LOSING THEM, AND FAST”
I do find it quite disheartening to know that the Philippines “national animal symbol” isn’t really being preserved or even protected from nearing complete extinction, although there are some projects out there that are helping to save the species from extinction, the problem is of course, as usual, funding!. One would think that a country that’s so wealthy, and a country that has introduced so many animal, wildlife and environmental laws would at least be fighting to protect the tamaraw. From what I have read and heard from the locals – they are trying their utmost hardest, unfortunately not everyone thinks the same as many kind Filipinos.
The main current threat to the Tamaraw is habitat loss due to farming by resettled and local people, with a high human population growth rates in and around its remaining habitat. In some areas, fires set for agriculture are a threat to the species’ habitat. Cattle ranching and farming activities pose a number of threats, including the risk of diseases spreading to the Tamaraw from livestock and burning of pastures leading to a reduced number of palatable grass species.
Historically, Tamaraw were hunted for both subsistence and sport, which led to a period of drastic decline in numbers of individuals and populations. Hunting was carefully regulated prior to World War II, but since then a growing human population, logging operations, ranching, and widespread availability of firearms on Mindoro have caused a dramatic decline in numbers.
Since the 1980s, sport hunting has reduced due to a decline in the Tamaraw population, closure of nearby ranches, and more intensive patrolling and awareness activities since the establishment of the protected area. International trade in this species or its derivatives has not been reported. Although protected by law, the illegal capture and killing of this species continues.
While its currently “illegal to poach or hunt” the species “we believe some are still being poached within the Philippines to provide horns to both China and Viet Nam”. As yet there is NO EVIDENCE to back these claims up, however I.A.R.F.A environmental crimes officers have located in Viet Nam a lot of ‘counterfeit Rhinoceros horn’, which when analysed, has proven to us the horn[s] most certainly aren’t from rhinos, but from a buffalo species. So this area of the counterfeit rhino horn trade still needs intensive investigation.
The current plight of the tamaraw is not looking good, and from our own investigations and third party environmental investigations relating to the species – extinction is very likely to occur in around five to ten years (if that).
“THE TAMARAW IS ASIA’S NEXT EXTINCTION”
Thank you for reading.
Dr Jose Carlos Depre. PhD. MEnvSc. BSc(Hons) Botany, PhD(NeuroSci) D.V.M.
Environmental, Botanical & Human Scientist.
TIGER TRADE | VIET NAM
The images your about to view in this article have all originated from an ongoing investigation into the illicit animal parts trade online and on the ground in South East Asia. My name is Dr Jose C. Depre, for some five years now my environmental and animal crimes investigation company has continued to delve deeper and deeper into the murky world of the illegal animals parts trade. (Image: IARFA Evidence image Tiger pelt, Thái Hõa, Nghệ An, Viet Nam)
Back in January of 2015 we began the forth phase of #OperationTrojanHorse focusing our attention mainly on Viet Nam, the operation that was launched is #OperationStopIt. Operation Stop It is fronted by numerous men and women from all over the globe that operate under myself the Chief Environmental Officer. We run two units that focus on ground level wildlife crime, and online wildlife crime. We’ve been investigating wildlife crime now since 2000 focusing on the bush meat trade, deforestation, chemical, and animal parts trade (among others).
Since June of 2015 when we began noticing a large number of traders dealing in tiger bone glue (alleged to be mostly fake), tiger claws and teeth, with various pelts and skulls. I then asked three wildlife trade investigators to work alongside me to dig deep into the murky world of the tiger parts trade. This area of the investigation focuses specifically on the ground and online trade of tiger parts. However we’re now looking into the online Facebook trade, an investigation that is uncovering “worrying evidence and corruption at governmental, police and zoo level”.
Its estimated (Cites and Traffic 2014) that there are some 6,100 “captive bred tigers” in Viet Nam, Laos, China and Thailand, furthermore since 1991-1993 the tiger trade has been officially banned within Viet Nam, unfortunately as one can see within the images herein, the trade still continues, although we “suspect these tigers are mostly captive”. Back in 1975 tigers were listed on Cites Appendix 1 (meaning that all trade in tigers domestically and internationally is now banned).
The problem we are currently finding within Viet Nam, as well as the loopholes within the current Cites laws, is that pretty much anyone in Viet Nam can apply for a permit to house tigers, so as long as them tigers are used for “conservation efforts only”. Cites laws do state that under no circumstances must any captive bred/reared tiger be killed or any part of any tiger used for trade.
However we must also remember that Cites is not a law agency, but more an organisation of parties from around the world that sets out laws; from there its down to that individual countries “policing agencies and that specific Cites department (in this case Cites Viet Nam)” to ensure laws are enforced. External Affairs Environmental Crimes Officers have though located numerous “corrupt Cites Viet Nam officers” of which I will be writing about soon.
As explained in (Article 1 – Facebook and the ivory trade); Facebook has become quite an easy platform for just about anyone to trade whatever they like (legally and illegally). Sadly in this case since June 2015 on-wards IARFA Environmental Crimes Officers have located staggering amounts of tigers and wildcat trade on the United States Facebook platform – all of which is 100% illegal, little of which from what we are locating is even under investigation from local and/or international trafficking and trade agencies.
The images below form part of a Vietnamese nation wide investigation that has uncovered corruption at Cites level, evidence that proves zoos are providing smugglers and traders with tiger and wild cat cubs and parts, and what we suspect is a legal trade of tigers from Africa into Viet Nam from which them tigers (bred in South Africa) “we suspect” are being used to fuel the massive tiger parts trade in Viet Nam. I will be documenting more on the “African connection later in the year”.
Image: Vietnamese trader calls posts freshly killed tigers with price. Buyer must collect.
The image at the top of this article depicting the tiger pelt rug is from the same individual in Thai Hoa, Nghe An, Viet Nam. He states in the Facebook posting “now ready to collect”. On viewing the messages underneath its quite clear that a price was already arranged privately within private Facebook messages, again no images of the traders face is available, nor any other identification as to what the name of this individual is. This is though normal, most traders operating illegally online or at ground go under various aliases, and rarely show their face, or use their real name. The trade is so secret locating tiger traders is actually considered rare, although once you uncover a large number of networks, follow them traces you do eventually locate numerous individuals trading in secret.
Image: Same trader, same tiger, all traded illegally on Facebook.
While Facebook has suggested they may be implementing new terms and applications to immediately ban such traders from their platform, we highly doubt whatever changes they do make will make any difference. For example users have the opportunity to create “secret Facebook buy and sell groups” or just “non-buy and sell Facebook groups”.
Once the group is set to private, only those within that group are able to report to Facebook or notify the police. So its a case of us then using our brains, technology and other applications to find these individuals. Once located all data is collected and then passed on. We don’t continue to monitor the groups or afterwards, as that is no longer our job. We’re not paid to police the web, or asked to. We do it though to help enforcement agencies, and to break the back of wildlife criminals.
We (the organisation) do highly suggest that you notify ourselves or the local police before Facebook so that evidence can be obtained before the account is “suspended” and not terminated. Once the account is suspended we, or any enforcement agency can then apply for a court order to seize any remaining evidence. Facebook hosts over 1.32 (billion) users and growing, so we find it highly unlikely any application implemented by Facebook is going to have much effect to those illegally trading animal parts. We’re talking about a platform that hosts 1% of the globes population! Hardly easy to police.
Image: Tiger trader shows one of any carcasses to buyers, Viet Nam.
Viet Nam banned hunting of tigers back in the 1970’s; had they not banned hunting (aka poaching), all of Viet Nam’s tigers would now be extinct. Today there is a total of 30 Vietnamese critically endangered tigers remaining in the wild of Viet Nam that are literally on a life thread. So with hunting banned, and trade of tigers and their derivatives banned has it stopped the tiger trade? Unfortunately no, and its very unlikely we’ll see the trade stopped until everyone pulls together and works together to stop wildlife crime dead in its tracks, easier said than done though!
Image: Vietnamese trader opens freezer up to reveal more horrors.
Image: Asiatic leopard we “suspect has been removed from a zoo and killed”.
The image above does raise some concerns as to where exactly this individual obtained this Asiatic leopard from. Asian leopards are not common within Viet Nam, although they do allegedly exist (in the country which I highly doubt). This is the first time we’ve come across an Asian leopard of which are considered “extremely rare” within Asia. We do suspect that the leopard may have originated from a nearby zoo, or the animal has been killed further east outside of Viet Nam, then smuggled into Viet Nam. The trader again states that the carcasses are ready to pick up, a price has obviously been made within a private communication which we can see in the comments section. This leopard may have originated from South Africa as a cub, if proven to be true it yet again blows a large hole in the so called “petting and breeding trade in South Africa”.
Image: Poached clouded leopards for sale on Facebook in Viet Nam.
IARFA Environmental Wildlife Crime Officers have been locating a large number of clouded leopard cubs for sale on Facebook. Most of which are dead, or normally its the skins that are traded. Both species in the genera of clouded leopards are considered “threatened” and nearing extinction within a number of Asian countries. Its unsure what these small cats will be used for, however back in December 2015 we located smaller tiger and leopard cubs that were being mixed with whole Asian and African pangolins. They were placed into what we now know was a type of Asian marinade, prepared and cooked some days later.
Image: Young tiger cub, seems to have been rolled up into bag then transported.
The evidence above was located by Environmental Cyber Crimes Officers from the IARFA. This particular trader has shot up on our radar because he has direct connections to (an unidentified South African game breeder and hunter). The Viet Nam citizen that we cannot name for enforcement reasons only recently visited South Africa to hunt a lion. Furthermore not only did the individual bring back with him a lion skin (pictured below), he also flew back from South Africa with a large number of lion bones. Again why was he allowed to leave South Africa with them bones for, and how on earth did he smuggle them out of South Africa, which its believed not to be a criminal activity.
Image: The Vietnamese trader recently visited South Africa to hunt a lion.
Image: Same trader found trading pangolin scales in the same secret Facebook group in Viet Nam.
IARFA Environmental Crimes Officers have been following this traders movements for some weeks now, although this week was when we eventually located yet more evidence of his seedy criminal network involving big cats. The Facebook group that specializes specifically in trading “tiger parts” also trades a very large number of tiger claws, tiger teeth, tiger skulls, tiger testicles, and tiger pelts. The image below depicts what were up against.
Image: Secret Facebook buy and sell groups protect Asian traders (so they believe).
The image above is just one of five images out of a staggering 14,562 images all depicting tiger traders, bear part traders, rhino horn and ivory traders and finally pangolin traders. In total there is just in this group alone a staggering 8,000+ individuals ranging mostly from Viet Nam, South Korea, China, Thailand and Laos. The Facebook group was established some 2-3 years ago from what we have seen.
Furthermore while we’d really love to report this group and have it shut down, its not that simple. Within this group alone contains evidence of wildlife trade that spans the globe from Asia to Africa, and Europe to America. One user only has to log into this group of which they are then in touch with a highly active, and sophisticated network of traders operating locally and internationally. Now do you see what we’re up against? I the CEO have long suspected since early 2006 that trade patterns were either changing, or poaching was indeed decreasing to some levels. On my travels to South East Asia I had noticed that there were fewer and fewer traders operating on ground level.
Yet poaching rates of tigers, elephants, pangolins Etc was still increasing with some reports of poaching decreasing. Many NGO’s pointed out they were winning the war on poaching, yet couldn’t explain why populations of many “trade animals” were not increasing within their endemic wild. Well here is just a small snippet of that change in trade patterns, poaching is most certainly still ongoing, and increasing, trade is still increasing furthermore – and under no circumstances are we winning the war on poaching locally and internationally. Why? We’re not winning it because technology has mostly played a pivotal role in now concealing trades and traders I.e online.
To date we have located exactly 203 active illegal wildlife groups online (in Viet Nam alone), some of them groups have direct connections to what was once “large wildlife trade markets at ground level”, in a sense what were seeing here is alike to the change in industrial markets in the west. They (the traders) now find it more easier and cheaper to trade goods online, and this is what we are seeing in Asia, with very little in the way of enforcement or monitoring. Facebook has become the new hotbed wildlife trade market place, its big and growing by the week. Furthermore most of these traders are using fake names, and code words to conceal their tracks and trade.
Image: Tiger bone glue, please click on the link in the image for information.
Tiger bone glue was said to be the most expensive wildlife product on the black market. Mixed with a wide number of synthetic drugs to cure so called illnesses and to act as a narcotic, environmentalists did state the glue is now mostly fake and hard to obtain due to the decreasing tiger numbers in the wild. Unfortunately with so many tigers still being bred in captivity within Asia – tiger bone glue is still available, priced higher than rhino horn and ivory.
The tiger trade is unique when compared to the illegal trade of other wildlife in Viet Nam, due to the relative rarity and high value of the commodity. This often results in traders taking extra measures to assure secrecy in their dealings (although that is something to be seen on Facebook). Viet Nam’s illicit tiger trade is carried out by elaborate criminal networks that avoid detection through the use of disposable cell phones, connections across international borders, and using friends in high places to facilitate a smooth and steady flow of their product to the consumer.
Most tigers confiscated in Viet Nam originate from foreign sources, smuggled into Viet Nam from Laos and Thailand where major farming operations exist that both produce and launder animals from the wild. A number of key figures behind the tiger trade in Viet Nam have been identified but manage to avoid prosecution by distancing themselves from criminal activities or operating under protection of local officials. Prosecutions tend to target low-level figures involved in transport or brokering sales. Only a minute few of these prosecutions result in prison time for anyone involved. (Source ENV Viet Nam).
While we would like to believe that most tigers are originating from over the borders there is also as explained zoos that are not being monitored, are breeding tigers, then selling them tigers onto traders. Finally we also have what we suspect is a number of African petting and breeding farmers involved in this trade that continues to flout legal loopholes in the law.
The wildlife trade on Facebook must come to an end. Please sign the petition hereto:
Thank you for reading.
Dr Jose C. Depre
Chief Environmental Officer.
FACEBOOK | IVORY TRADE IN VIET NAM
Written by Dr Jose C. Depre (Chief Environmental Officer).
By the time it takes me to finish this document an estimated 20-50 elephants will have been slaughtered. Once you turn your head and continue to do nothing, come tomorrow 100 elephants would have been killed for their ivory to supply the South East Asian black market. Back in January 2015 I launched yet another online and ground intelligence gathering operation relating to the illegal wildlife trade; We are focusing on China, Viet Nam, Laos, and Thailand of which the team, a twenty four strong experienced male and female unit originate from all backgrounds. Today I’m focusing more on the online trade which has now increased to worrying new levels.
Since January 2015 when [Operation Stop It] was launched Environmental Crimes Officers have found what we believe is a new trend of ivory trade in operation on the United States platform known as Facebook. External Affairs Officers became aware of the huge trade when investigating a Vietnamese national identified as Mr Trang from June 2015 to December 2015. Unfortunately since providing law enforcement agencies with masses of evidence just on this one trader; very little in the way of arrests and/or confiscations has been witnessed.
The ban on international trade in ivory was introduced in 1989 by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) after years of unprecedented poaching. In the 1980’s, an estimated 100,000 elephants were being killed per year and up to 80% of herds were lost in some regions. However despite the ivory trade ban in place, very little in the way of illegal trade reduction is being witnessed within Viet Nam, China, Laos, and Thailand.
Viet Nam is one country of interest that we’ve noted as hosting “unusually large amounts of (raw ivory tusks), most of which seem to be originating from impounded stocks, with other tusks clearly removed from ivory pyres”. While we are aware a large majority of ivory tusks are originating from Africa, there is also a significantly large amount also originating from Asia. Asian ivory tusks are more favored for carving over that of African elephant tusks.
Image: Two tusks located for sale on Facebook 16.05.16 from | impounded or stolen from pyres?
The two elephant ivory tusks (pictured above) were located on Facebook for sale yesterday which we suspect have originated from a recent or past ivory burn. Normally ivory tusks are white, or a dusty creamy color with some dark tinges to them; embers can clearly be seen on the left hand tusk with visible white dehydration and salt marks too.
Image: Ivory jewelry smuggled from Africa into South East Asia now on sale on Facebook.
While the online trade is no big secret, the fact is Facebook hosts no terms and conditions in place that bans such illegal trade; the Facebook platform has no systems in place to recognize such imagery (I.e raw tusks) using BOTS that can then report back to a third party Policing team. Finally IARFA Environmental Crimes Officers have found Facebook is being exploited by many South East Asian citizens primarily from Viet Nam, and Thailand peddling ivory from Asia and Africa.
Image: Ivory trader weighs up tusks he is trading online via pseudo Facebook account shops.
The image above clearly demonstrates just has serious the ivory trade has become online and on the Facebook social media platform. Traders will commonly show their products to prove their wealth (I.e as a status symbol), or to prove/demonstrate the legitimacy of their products compared to other traders, that may be selling counterfeit ivory. The trader who we can only be name as Mr Phong then demonstrates just how much he will be making come the end of the month. The total amount of ivory Mr Phong is selling on Facebook (pictured above and below) will fetch him around $15,000-$20,000USD depending on how the ivory is sold and/or manufactured.
Image: My Phong weighs up this illegal haul of ivory, fetching him some $15,000-$20,000USD
Despite international and domestic trade bans nothing is actually working, furthermore we do hold concerning evidence that shows without a doubt many tusks are being removed from compounds in Asia and Africa then sold onto the very people that police took the ivory from. Police have been witnessed trading confiscated ivory at high prices back into the hands of smugglers knowing too well they are going to make a good wage due to the high demand for ivory tusk products.
Back in 1992 Viet Nam officially outlawed the ivory trade, unfortunately since the ban was implemented any ivory that was purchased before “Viet Nam’s ivory ban” can still be sold legally so as long as the tusks host the correct certification; Fortunately CITES did rule that “re-worked ivory or any tusks/ivory products that were purchased before or after the 1992 Viet Nam ivory ban that are then re-worked, would then be classed as new ivory (non-exempt) thus making that product that was legal – now illegal.
Meanwhile back in 1975 international trade in “Asian elephant ivory” was also banned. There has been quite a few tusks examined by experts and third party experts located on the United States Facebook platform as originating from Asian elephants. Asian elephant tusks are much smaller than your average African bush elephant tusks. Come the 1980’s it was then stated no fewer than 50,000 Asian elephants existed which are now listed on CITES Appendix One and known to [endangered].
One out of every six Hanoi citizens are dealing ivory on the United States Facebook platform. Most of this ivory is as explained originating from Africa and Asia, with clear and obvious signs of trafficking, and thefts from impounded ivory and ivory pyres.
Image: One of many thousands of online ivory trading Facebook shops in Viet Nam.
The image above was picked up from one of many thousands of Viet Nam ivory traders. Traders establish a sophisticated network of “pseudo Facebook accounts”. These accounts are rarely in the real name of the trader. Traces of some accounts via the IARF Environmental Cyber Crimes Unit have shown ivory traders using Virtual Proxy Networks [VPNs] to conceal their Internet Protocol Address.
Furthermore when dealing over the phone traders normally use cheap (non-smart throw away phones) so that should enforcement agencies locate them, tracing the traders exact whereabouts, and who they are selling ivory onto is almost impossible. Its not uncommon to witness traders with a number of cell phones. One phone (the throw away one) will be used for trade and can easily be disposed of with all evidence destroyed containing names and numbers of ivory dealers and buyers. Meanwhile smugglers, traders and carvers also host a smart phone for normal everyday conversations and general surfing the web or interacting with friends and family on Facebook, Twitter or Weibo.
Back in March of 2016 International Animal Rescue Foundation’s- Environmental Crimes Officers located three Viet Nam ivory trading carving factories all advertised on the United States Facebook platform. Moreover it wasn’t just carvers and ivory advertised for sale; we also located evidence of ivory carving tools, measuring and weighing instruments and “DIY ivory carving instructions for beginners”. The carving instruments below were found in one Hanoi carving workshop (on the Facebook social media platform), meanwhile underneath the bottom image is proof of more raw ivory tusk carving.
Image: Ivory carving tools, Viet Nam, Hanoi used to intricately carve ivory.
Image: In the same carving room more raw ivory tusks were located readied for carving on Facebook.
Environmental Crime Officers have located a staggering 80,000 “ivory and wildlife trade shops” all in operation on the United States Facebook platform, yet little if anything is being done to stop this trade or even restrict traders activities. When submitting this evidence with films, images and Facebook accounts and the current laws on ivory trade to Facebook’s Security Head, Alex Stamos we we’re unfortunately ignored.
Yet Facebook’s moderation team are quite willing to remove accounts that have violated their “bullying, harassment or terrorism polices” (all of which are crimes), sadly the social media platform is unwilling to remove highly active wildlife traders breaking domestic and international wildlife laws that are making a ton daily.
On the 3rd March 2016 the BBC reported “Facebook wildlife trade prompts fears among environmentalists”. Traffic – an Environmental Crimes Investigation Organisation located hundreds of online profiles selling endangered and threatened animal species. Facebook stated “It will not hesitate in removing content that is promoting such trade”. Yet when we contacted Facebook submitting more than enough evidence relating to ivory, rhino horn, tiger and pangolin trade all accounts are still in operation.
Facebook did quote though “They are developing practical solutions to combat trade“, unfortunately these solution’s seem to aimed only at “animals rather than animal parts”. For the time being Facebook has no terms or polices in place that would remove illegal wildlife traders dabbling in rhino horn, tiger parts, pangolins, or [non-exempt] ivory. And with some 1.32+ billion Facebook users, Facebook will we believe now have a large job on their hands in combating such trade as from 2014 trade on the Facebook platform has exploded.
“Investigators are concerned that the use of social media and smartphones means that anyone interested in selling wildlife can rapidly access huge numbers of potential buyers”….
Image: More ivory Facebook shops churning out thousands of euro in ivory, all from raw re-worked tusks.
While Facebook has stated they are developing new measures and applications to combat trade, these new measures and whatever applications will be made to combat trade are all too late. Facebook is probably one of very few platforms where you can actually create “private groups”, where only those that are interested in such trade can enter and interact with other users.
Moreover Facebook provides you secrecy in relation to pages; I.e: Traders can censor which countries they don’t want to view their pages then continue trading whatever they like. In relation to pages there are ways and means around that censorship, which will not be published hereto.
One of the largest items we are seeing traded on Facebook is that of ivory bangles, ivory necklaces, ivory wrist bands, ivory chopsticks, ivory pens, ivory encrusted watches, ivory sex toys and ivory cigarette holders (in the thousands). Overseas tourists that visit Viet Nam are often caught or witnessed buying these small cheap products, and the longer they (the tourist) purchase from ivory carvers and traders, the longer demand will continue to increase and fan out. That is one area of the trade we need all be focusing on (demand) to nip in the bud sooner rather than later.
Ground Sales Survey of Ivory:
Back in 2014, a total of 1614 ground outlets were surveyed in 21 localities throughout Viet Nam. Eighty-five of these outlets (5%) were found to have a total of 2300 ivory items for sale. Buon Me Thuat city was found to have the highest percentage of shops (50%) offering ivory. However since CITES has placed more pressure onto Viet Nam to clamp down on ivory and other wildlife trade, these shops are slowly reducing trade, although we do highly suspect traders are now operating more freely on line from which policing this area of the trade is more difficult.
While it was stated that many shops on the ground had increased somewhat, law enforcement in Viet Nam has allegedly made it more difficult for traders to openly trade ivory that has no exemption. Its is for this reason we now believe Facebook is being used more and more to trade ivory products, and as one can see in the images above – we are talking massive amounts of ivory pieces and products, 90% of which hosts no certification, furthermore the vast majority of traders we’ve located are carving products from “smuggled ivory”.
It is presumed that the currency in which the price is listed or quoted in many ivory surveys may indicate the nationality of the most common buyers in that area. Both observations and questions to particular sellers substantiate the fact that ivory is sold to both “foreign tourists and Vietnamese nationals”. For example in HCMC, the majority of the ivory buyers in the two markets are assumed to be tourists from China as prices were quoted in Chinese Yuan.
Video: Bryan Christy examines the illicit ivory trade. Interesting we have also have located a number of “counterfeit tusks that are being traded online and on the ground”. Please stay tuned for article two that will delve a little deeper into both the counterfeit rhino horn, ivory and tiger part trade.
The HCMC silver and gold shops that also offered ivory (particularly the smaller, religious pendants and figurines) appear to be targeting Vietnamese buyers with prices advertised in VND. In Dak Lak and Ha Tien, the majority of the ivory buyers are assumed to be Vietnamese tourists as prices there were quoted in VND. In Ha Noi, prices were mostly given in USD when enquiries were made, which may indicate that the buyers of ivory pieces are likely to be international tourists.
While the majority of ivory is presumed to be aimed at mostly Asian tourists – there is no real hard hitting evidence that this is in deed true. For example if you was British you’re hardly going to purchase an ivory bangle in GBP, so exchanging that currency into Vietnamese dollars then places that ivory for sale (at just about everyone and anyone) with the correct currency.
It may be somewhat of a shock but the UK is the third biggest source of intercepted illegal ivory entering the United States of America (US), which has been singled out by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) as a ‘problem country’ with a large domestic ivory trade likely to provoke illegal elephant poaching if not regulated and brought under control. London’s Portobello Road – the biggest antiques market in the world – has been identified as the single major source of this illegal ivory.
Furthermore while antique ivory trade is “problematic” so too is non-antique and the longer these trades persist, more and more elephants will be slaughtered for their tusks. We are growing very concerned now at the large number of ivory dealers operating on Facebook. There is clear evidence that much of this ivory is originating from both Africa and Asia, furthermore as explained – the large number of “raw tusks we are locating clearly shows that security is indeed more than questionable at ports, and pounds that hold confiscated ivory.
Image: Raw African ivory tusks, cut and sold onto Viet Nam carvers, on sale on Facebook.
Back in 2015 (just before Christmas) External Affairs Environmental Crimes Officers located an “unusual amount of raw tusks from Africa” that we suspect had made their way into Viet Nam from China. IARFEIA Officers located on the Facebook platform some 21 whole raw and non-certified elephant tusks, some of them even had blood around the bases indicating these were freshly poached ivory tusks; all of which is in violation of both domestic and international ivory trade laws.
Image: Vietnamese ivory carver aged 19 from Hanoi, Viet Nam.
The image above doesn’t really show much does it? although the other images below shows exactly what this talented young man has been creating from raw African and Asian elephant tusks (and is still creating today with his freinds – all college students). Ivory traders and dealers make no attempt at concealing their identity anymore neither. However there still remains a hardcore number of dealers that will continue to conceal their faces, names, and never post images onto Facebook that depicts them holding raw non-exempt ivory. This belief that ivory traders, peddlers, and smugglers were all but old, is now a myth. Today we’re witnessing traders and carvers as young as 16 years old, taking over from their parents thus fueling the ivory trade evermore on Facebook.
Image: Young trader named as Mr Manh exhibits his newly carved ivory pieces on Facebook.
Image:Mr Manh proudly shows one of many hundreds of ivory pens that are in great demand.
Image: Ivory pen with top off, Viet Nam, Hanoi.
Image: Ivory trader identified as Mr Trang proudly displays carved ivory on Facebook for sale.
Image: More freshly carved ivory cartridge pens on sale in Hanoi, via Facebook.
From 2015 (to date) IARFA Environmental Cyber Crimes Officers and the ground team External Affairs Environmental Crimes Officers have found that Viet Nam is “suspected” of peddling more ivory than China and Thailand. Cyber Crimes Officers are now locating every week on average of 2-3 “raw tusk dealers” operating on Facebook. Meanwhile the database of 80,000 ivory and wildlife trade dealers all operating on Facebook continues to increase by the week.
The whole purpose of this article is to wake people up, and open their eyes. We have a major problem on Facebook, and Alex Stamos Facebook Head Security Officer doesn’t seem to be taking much notice of this ongoing and rather concerning problem relating to just the ivory trade alone. We’ve not got much time left, there is an estimated 50,000 Asian elephants in Asia, and “known – some 600,000 African elephants remaining on the continent of Africa with a probable 1.2 million known but (uncounted).
Facebook has become a hotbed for the lucrative and illicit most illegal wildlife trade. And for the time being not a single thing is being done to control this trade. Please sign the petition hereto: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/645/521/701/facebook-remove-illegal-pet-and-wildlife-traders-from-your-server/
“The Extinction Clock is Ticking”
Thank you for reading.
Chief Environmental Officer, Dr Jose C. Depre.
Environmental Crimes Department.
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.
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.
- The window in the far left has a cracked wooden frame that bacteria would/will thrive within.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
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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
ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE IS BOOMING
WARNING – THE FOLLOWING INVESTIGATIVE REPORT IS GRAPHIC
Investigative report written by: Dr Jose C. Depre.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa and her External Affairs Environmental Investigations Department commonly known as the (EAD), have for the past year been warning police agencies, and Interpol internationally and locally to tighten the grasp on the black market illegal wildlife traders, after a sudden spike was witnessed by us in trade emerging from Thailand and Vietnam (2013-2014)? IARFA’s External Affairs operations unit were somewhat suspicious as to why so many rhino and elephants were being poached, yet very little in the way of fresh animal parts I.e rhino horn and elephant tusk were being seen on the ground.
Back in 2014 the BBC reported that rhino horn and ivory in Viet Nam and China had heavily decreased (or was becoming more difficult to obtain), we disagree with the BBC’s 2014 documentary and have shown the evidence below to prove that trade is more than active in Viet Nam, with Thailand now the new rhino horn hub. We’re unsure as to what has caused this sudden increase of illegal trade and poaching in Africa and Asia, and the skyrocketing demand online, primarily on the United States social media platform identified as Facebook. What investigators located in the past year has shocked us, and has led to a multinational investigation spanning over 19 countries, resulting in IARFA’s biggest wildlife crimes investigation to date.
(NB: The following evidence depicted herein is of a graphic nature and viewer discretion is strictly advised).
A further concern was the sheer fact that rhino horn was becoming more difficult to locate on the streets of Viet Nam, which was also highlighted in the video below via the BBC (2014), yet rhinos are being slaughtered at some 5-7 a day on the African continent, primarily in South Africa. So we sent in our team of investigative officers to track down where we believed rhino horn and wildlife syndicates and traders were now in operation. The shocking evidence below proves what we believed all along. Thailand has become a hot bed for illegal rhino horn trade, and Facebook has yet again exploded with online illegal wildlife ‘profile shops’ and pet trade that criminals hide behind to peddle their trade on a grande scale.
Back in 2012 the External Affairs Department recruited a further twelve investigative volunteers due to worrying trade increases of mainly ivory, rhino horn and endangered tropical pets that were being sold at ground level, and on Facebook. Furthermore the (EAD) increased its online presence in relation to cyber crime projects run by Operation Trojan Horse founded in 2008 after it became apparent teenagers as young as 16 were illegally peddling animal parts and endangered tropical pets via their Facebook social media profiles.
While the (EAD) and her counterparts from the Operation Trojan Horse Online Surveillance Unit have been successful in locating and closing down illegal wildlife and pet traders (with arrests and seizures being made). Very little in the way of a decrease of demand and trade is being noted. Countless complaints to the United States Facebook platform with petition, hasn’t been successful either. Despite the fact illegal wildlife trade ranks as the worlds 4th largest illegal trade funding terrorism, narcotics, prostitution and child trafficking.
Over the past 365 days the External Affairs Department have been monitoring unusual peaks of the trade in rhino horn, ivory and tiger parts within Viet Nam, Thailand and Japan, with much online chatter from traders in Benin, Cameroon, South Africa and Namibia to Asian citizens peddling animal parts. Two individuals (pictured below) we’ve been wanting to catch up with now for over six months, after the duo skipped a meeting with two of our EAD officers in Thailand regarding the sale of rhino horn.
Its unsure if the two knew we were onto them, or they simply missed the meeting for unknown reasons. Either way and with a stroke of luck after data obtained from a bush meat trader in Cameroon we managed to catch up with our fiends again. This time the evidence we hold on them is so large it spans from Asia directly into Africa. From the 23rd December 2015 investigative officers from the EAD’s (Cyber Crime Unit) then moved into quickly obtain evidence to pass onto Interpol. From the 29th December 2015 (17:00hrs) we can now confirm the following evidence herein has prompted Interpol to now launch an ‘urgent investigation’ into serious wildlife crime spanning from Asia to Africa.
Had the meeting gone ahead back in June 2015 it would have led us ‘directly’ onto a more larger wildlife trading syndicate that we’ve been monitoring within Beijing, China since 2014, identified as Mr Ji Lu or Ken as he calls himself. Unfortunately the trail went dead, both the two young men and Mr Ji Lu vanished off the External Affairs radar. Then the EAD struck gold last week before Christmas after a random trace of a Cameroon bush meat poacher in Africa. We’ve long known that African bush meat poachers and traders communicate to Asian wildlife traders and syndicates either online in private chat forums, or via stolen cell phones. This time we had our men, more than enough evidence to launch a multinational investigation and further information that has led us onto newer more sophisticated traders.
“Thailand is the new hotbed for rhino horn trade”
However never did the EAD or ourselves believe we’d again come face to face with some of the most evil and sadistic animal parts traders we’ve ever encountered. If the images and evidence below is not enough to shock the Thai and Vietnamese Police into now acting, then we don’t know what is. The following evidence in image format below is shocking and may upset some of our readers.
However its no shock to us of which we have for the first time decided to show to over 7.8 million supporters exactly what we and other wildlife agencies are up against. Teenagers and young men and women from the ages of 16-20+ are trading anything from bear bile, real rhino horn, ivory, down to gorilla’s (all of which is strictly 100% illegal).
The two men above aged between 19-25 years of age we’re keen to catch up with again for their involvement in the brutal breeding and killing of innocent tigers for the bone wine trade. Furthermore the two individuals are also wanted for questioning for their involvement in the dealing and illegal possession of rhino horn and Elephant ivory. On conducting a random online trace the two men and possibly a female are believed to be using a pseudo Facebook profile that goes under the name of ‘White Tiger’ that has been set up as a female account. We believe we know whom the woman is, however as yet we haven’t 100% firm evidence to prove this is our woman from Japan.
(NB: Please note we cannot publish the identities of the two men and woman for legal reasons)
Its suspected that the woman’s name whom we believe is related to the two men above is Mme Phuong ***** whom possibly originates from Hanoi, Viet Nam, however we also believe that she goes under the name of Mme Chung. A further alias the female account uses on Facebook (not related to Mrs Chung) is identified as Cọp ******. The city that the two males and female accomplice frequents is identified as Phatthalung, Thailand. The home town of the Facebook account from which the female is ‘alleged to be residing within’ has been identified as Bang Kongra, Phatthalung, Thailand.
Furthermore a trace of the ‘accounts working address’ showed up as Bangkok ( กรุงเทพมหานคร ), which is a tourist company ferrying foreign and local tourists around Thailand. We have reason to believe that the female account possibly belongs to a Japanese woman that we have been following all over Australasia, who now runs an immigration agency on Facebook. However it must be noted that Mme Chung and Cop ***** are two different women. Confusing we know, we know though that both women and the men involved in this report are using 2-3 Facebook accounts and communicating in various chatter forums online!
The two men and one woman have for the past year been heavily dealing in rhino horn, ivory, and tigers that are brutally killed to produce an alleged medicinal wine (as seen above), rhino horn down to bear bile, narcotics (possibly heroin/hash (see image below)), and what appears to be counterfeit illegal cigarettes. The 1970/1990 and 2009 domestic and international rhino horn trade ban prohibits anyone from trading in rhino horn.
Meanwhile the 1989 ivory trade ban prohibits anyone from trading un-permitted ivory and ivory parts. Furthermore its a criminal offence (internationally and locally) to trade in anyone of the endangered species being that of pangolins and tigers. International Animal Rescue Foundation Asia successfully identified the many pangolin’s viewed for trade as the Manis culionensis or the (Philippine Pangolin). Hence why we had to move quickly to communicate all evidence to Interpol.
Back in June the External Affairs unit contacted the two men who’s names we’ve withheld in the hope to set up a deal to purchase rhino horn. Only one horn was available to purchase priced at $35,000 Vietnamese Dollars per/kilo. The horn had already been inspected by our Singapore counterpart that works closely within the trade circle.
The EAD officers then went ahead for the meeting of which as explained the two individuals didn’t turn up. Fortunately as explained we’ve managed to locate the two individuals again, this time though as you can see above and below, the two (possibly three individuals) have been rather busy since June 2015 (and way before they even cropped up on our radar). Some of the rhino horns can be viewed below along with ivory that is most certainly not permitted to be in the hands of these young men and women.
On locating further evidence that we required to instigate a multinational investigation we then again at 09:25am on the 23rd December 2015 and 29th December with a further communication on the 30th December 2015 communicated all (cyber evidence) and data to the Environmental Investigations Unit of Interpol via secure encryption. (Please note that are unable to provide all evidence onto this platform as it could/will impede on the investigation that is currently now ‘active’.
Ivory trade was officially banned internationally back in 1989, however it hasn’t stopped these two rather sadistic and ruthless criminals from going about their trade bringing in millions of Vietnamese and Thailand dollars, most of which is traded on the US Facebook social media platform.
Furthermore it explains now where the vast majority of ivory and rhino horn is being traded. Viet Nam was virtually declared a no-rhino horn country by the BBC and the WWF back in 2014 as explained above. Unfortunately had the two investigations units bothered to look a little closer they’d have not only noticed our own concerns (with evidence being shown), but also many private online forums (including Facebook) booming in animal parts trade.
Below are numerous pieces of ivory all of which are not permitted. Investigate officers casually asked within the online chat forum if the ivory below was permitted, the [unnamed trader/peddler] was very forthcoming with his reply stating; “No, none of the ivory here is permitted”, meaning its 100% illegal to own/trade.
On immediately being made aware that the ivory was not permitted we knew instantly that these three individuals were not your average wildlife traders or syndicates. Furthermore on tracing the individuals Facebook profiles we were yet again (as explained) made aware of a female ivory trader that has been visiting Australia and Japan for unknown reasons while trading ivory online. Mrs Chung as we know her we’ve already informed the Australian Federal Police and TRAFFIC about.
The images above are just a small handful of evidence shots obtained from both the Vietnamese and Thai traders that had no worries whatsoever on displaying these items either to our investigative officers, or trading online via secure trading chatter rooms. These chatter room’s are mainly frequented by medicine men and women, and general traders of antique and non-permitted animal parts, all of which anyone can enter on Google using a simple VPN tool.
While ivory trade is not necessarily a big secret within Thailand, the sheer fact that younger people are able to obtain ivory and rhino horn in such mass quantities is extremely concerning. We also have reason to believe that some of the ivory is deriving from passages via Benin and possibly Cameroon on the continent of Africa. Our enquirers in relation to the African trail of ivory into Asia began with Mr Chan**** ***** who states he works for the Homme D’Affaire International which we believe is a made up organisation.
Chan**** *** runs a bush meat shop within Cameroon selling anything from pangolins to endangered turtles, masks and cars, and coincidentally his shop is also operational on Facebook. Had Mr Chan**** *** not bragged about ivory making its way from Benin into Vietnam we’d never have caught up again with our Asian fiends. Some of the images from Ch**** *** bush meat shop of horrors can be viewed below.
E.A.D officers investigated the trade between the two African and Asiatic pangolins, above is that of an African pangolin which was the same species seen within the apartment of the Vietnamese citizen that offered our Singapore investigative officer rhino horn. So we’re 99% positive that all three Asian citizens have more than your normal ties to the African bush meat poacher whom we know is using a trade route from both Benin and Cameroon, onto Europe and into Asia. The African pangolin 1 of 3 identified in the apartment in Vietnam can be seen below.
African and Asian pangolins are fast becoming rare with the vast majority of Asiatic pangolins now nearing extinction. Pangolins are used within the Asian and African (TCM) Traditional Chinese Medicine trade. Furthermore the scales of the pangolins are used to make jewelry or coats. The meat of pangolins is considered a delicacy. Every year we loose more and more pangolins to poaching, and while the Asian pangolin continues to decrease in population size, the African pangolin will be placed more at risk furthermore.
Investigators were more shocked at the sheer fact that three young adults were able to obtain large quantities of illegal and legal wildlife products then freely trade them on the streets or upon their personal Facebook profile shop forums. The images below depicts large quantities of tiger teeth, bear paws, shark fin and what we believe to be tiger testicles.
The following images below are from tigers that our International Animal Rescue Foundation Asian unit have successfully identified as Sumatran tigers listed as critically endangered on the IUCN – International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List.
Please note you may find some of the images below disturbing and emotionally upsetting.
Investigative officers were told that tigers are bred within small enclosures within the family home. From there the young cubs are then killed with the adults soon after. There body parts are either stored in a freezer whole, or decapitated. On mentioning tiger skins the EAD officers were informed that some of the tigers are skinned of which their pelts can fetch anything in the region of $5,000 to $10,000 USD. Needless to say we were mortified and shocked at the traders openness and complete disregard to the fact tigers are nearing extinction within the wild.
The tiger pictured above was being kept as a pet in a dark barred cage in Thailand, Bangkok. We personally believe that the three traders we’ve been monitoring since June 2015 have traded more than nine tigers (if not more). Based on the number of tiger teeth and claws we’ve estimated a probable 20-30 tigers have unfortunately met a rather gruesome and barbaric death, the sheer number of skulls, pelts, teeth, claws and tiger male testicles shows these traders are more than professional. The following images below may be upsetting to some viewers.
Despite the best attempts of law enforcement around the globe, CITES and national NGO’s pushing for stronger laws internationally and locally very little in demand and trade is being seen relating to tigers. A six month investigation of illicit wildlife trade has shown to us that trade is becoming more widespread, younger people are more involved rather than the elder generation. Regardless of education and awareness in schools the E.A.D are now picking up on average a total of 3-4 teenage dealers weekly. Many of them have ties to African bush meat traders too.
As previously explained Asiatic pangolins are nearing extinction, yet despite the amount of seizures being made, little in the way of a decrease in trade is being witnessed. Furthermore as Asian pangolin populations decreases, African pangolins will be poached to continue the trade and demand of pangolin meat, scales and medicine. None of which has any medicinal value whatsoever.
The images below were what prompted E.A.D investigative officers to then look further afield, taking the team from Thailand and Viet Nam to Africa.
From 2010 the External Affairs Department have noticed a staggering increase of tiger teeth and claws on sale via the Social Media platform identified as Facebook. There are two different types of trade. 1. Counterfeit trade which is primarily wooden carved tiger teeth and claws and 2. Real tiger teeth and claws. Like all of the evidence above and below obtained by the EAD’s Operation Trojan Horse officers, every part of the tiger is used for illegal trade.
Tiger teeth and claw necklaces are worn in Asia in the belief that such animal parts will bring the wearer power, good-luck, and ferocity. Many of the traders that we investigate often tell us that they have either found tiger teeth and claws on the ground in forests, purchased antique tiger teeth and claws from dealers. Or in this case have illegally harvested the tiger teeth and claws from home-captive bred tigers seen in the images below. The images below form part of the evidence files on the three individuals spanning from Thailand to Viet Nam.
(Please be warned the following images may be upsetting to some viewers).
Below are step by step guides that the Vietnamese trader bragged to E.A.D officers on how to harvest tiger teeth and claws. The images are upsetting and also include the skinning of tigers.
E.A.D officers are (as explained) unsure on the exact number of tigers that these individuals in question are breeding and trading within the home and other premises. From the evidence obtained the number of teeth and claws points to at least 20-30 tigers bred, killed and processed in Thailand and Viet Nam. An unidentified trader who’s name we cannot make public proudly shows on their Facebook page how easy it is to skin a tiger (images seen below).
Tiger testicles are also used within the Traditional Chinese Medicine trade, however this is the first time we ourselves have actually come across such tiger testicle trade (normally one views tiger penis on sale real and counterfeit). The trader[s] we’ve been investigating boasted within an online forum how tiger testicles are now more popular than tiger penis itself.
The image below shows the trader boasting how large the male tiger testicles are before he then sets about to remove, bag and weigh up the testicles for sale. Its believed the testicles ‘may’ be transported illegally into China or onto wealthy Viet Nam/Chinese restaurants where the soup of tiger testicles is ‘allegedly’ known as a delicacy and (aphrodisiac soup). None of which holds any medicinal evidence whatsoever.
Back in 2013 the Humane Society of the United States stated a total of twenty seven countries had outlawed the sale and trade of shark-fin for the production of shark-fin soup. One would then be led to believe that since this mass outlawing and bans on trade, it would therefore heavily restrict shark poaching and trade of shark-fin soup. In Thailand and Viet Nam it appears not to be the case (both countries have no bans in place).
Unfortunately when E.A.D officers investigated the traders herein this article, we uncovered more than enough shark-fin trade to prove that neither laws or outlawing of the trade is having any real effect on stopping or restricting the trade of shark-fin. On speaking to the unnamed trader within a forum online for TCM trade, the individual boasted how easy it was to obtain shark fin, an transport that into Asian and North American countries. The images below show shark-fins drying at the traders apartment in Thailand and Vietnam.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa and two investigation units aligned with us; External Affairs Unit and Operation Trojan Horse (Cyber Crimes Division) have been tracking countless illegal wildlife traders all over the world since IARFA established the (Cyber Crimes Unit). While the evidence above may shock many, its little compared to what we locate every month. Investigative officers work under immense pressure, stress and must work fast to ensure that traders once located are reported to the relevant agencies.
On the 23rd December 2015 Interpol’s Environmental Crime Unit and the Cyber Crimes Serious Investigation Team were alerted to our findings, while we can state now that our investigation which we have decided to make public has shown much data on trade. The investigation is considered normal due to the size. The most shocking aspect of this investigation was the fact that our younger generation are more active now within this illicit trade. That in itself poses some rather large problems and concerns, and one that now needs addressing at both government and educational level.
As of today 29th December 2015 this investigation has since been increased to “extremely urgent”, and the need to locate these men and women is critical before any further animals die, in Asia and Africa. All three individuals have shown a complete disregard to the fact rhino’s, elephants and tiger populations are losing ground throughout the Asian and African continent. Sharks and pangolins are also nearing extinction too. Trade and demand as explained has skyrocketed online to worrying levels, yet slowly vanishing on the ground.
Thailand is the new hub for rhino horn trade and Facebook and other social media platforms are being exploited to trade just about anything wildlife, regardless of such products being illegal. Trade and demand on the ground has also changed from elder to younger individuals (as explained) which is very worrying. One of the largest trading countries that we are seeing to date, is that of Thailand, which would explain why the BBC back in 2014 couldn’t locate much in the way of rhino horn (in Viet Nam).
Since General Prayut Chan-o-cha took over running of Thailand back in 2014 wildlife trade has skyrocketed. While we cannot prove increasing trade has anything to do with General Prayut Chan-o-cha, it just seems too coincidental that a sudden spike of rhino horn, ivory and other wildlife products has shot through the roof.
Facebook was where this investigation ended prompting us to then send all evidence to Interpol. Facebook hosts some 1.32 billion users worldwide, 32% of which use cell phones to login into the United States platform, thus making it difficult to locate traders and dealers.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa have been lobbying Facebook since the start of the year, to implement new terms and conditions to heavily disrupt this trade and demand. A petition that has amassed over five thousand signatures can be signed here and shared. However we’re not holding our breath. Should the Facebook platform and its CEO Mark Zukerburger not implement new polices on trade and demand of illicit wildlife products we will unfortunately soon see many species of animals pushed into extinction. Ivory and rhino horn trade has exploded to worrying new levels. Rhinos, elephants and tigers are being poached moreover, and the internet as well as ground trade is awash with anything from drugs, firearms, child trafficking (most of which links back to illegal wildlife trade).
One of the men that is pictured above is responsible for the trade of wildlife parts above, he has since been reported to Interpol along with his partner and other associates whom we have been investigating since June-December 2015. The individual above is believed to be in Hanoi (Nguyen), or Ho Chi Minh City, possibly with an accomplice. His name and other accomplices we cannot make public as yet. The image is recent.
A more closer image of the individual and the female is located below. We believe based on evidence obtained that the male is using the females account on Facebook too.
May this be a stark warning to all wildlife traders out-there. International Animal Rescue Foundation, External Affairs and Operation Trojan Horse will eventually catch up with you. If we catch you trading in wildlife products we will monitor you on the ground and online. From there we will press for your arrest and detention.
Within the past year Interpol has been escalating their new project identified as OPERATION WORTHY II Operation Worthy is targeting many individuals involved in international and local serious crime.
Updates on this case will follow as and when we’re updated. Thank you for reading.
Chief Environmental Officer (CEO)
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Endangered Species Friday: Aceros nipalensis
This Fridays (ESP) – Endangered Species watch Post I have chosen to document on this stunning species known commonly as the Rufous-cheeked Hornbill, because of large population declines throughout most of the birds historical range. More awareness needs to be created with regards to this particular bird specie due to their natural habitat declining and localized extinctions that have already occurred in the past decade. Furthermore extinctions are now likely to occur within Viet Nam and [west] Thiland where hunting is the primary threat to the species.. (Image credit Ian Fulton).
Identified back in 1829 by Mr Brian Houghton Hodgson (1 February 1800 or more likely 1801– 23 May 1894) was a pioneer naturalist and ethnologist working in India and Nepal where he was a British Resident. He described numerous species of birds and mammals from the Himalayas, and several birds were named after him by others such as Edward Blyth.
Listed as vulnerable the A. nipalensis is endemic to Bhutan; China; India; Lao People’s Democratic Republic; Myanmar; Thailand and Viet Nam. Unfortunately A. nipalensis has already been declared extinct locally in Nepal. Like many large birds within this region of Asia the Rufous-cheeked (or necked) Hornbill’s populations are declining quite extensively throughout their range of which deforestation and habitat degradation and, hunting is primarily to blame.
The species has been listed on Cites Appendix (I-II) of which an estimated population census count has determined there are no less than 2,500 birds but no greater than 9,999. A survey count back in 2001 by Bird-Life International concluded that from the [estimate] above the [true] population count is actually by far more lower than previously suggested, however few conservationists are now debating this due to the birds ‘alleged’ extensive range within South East Asia.
From the Bird Life International (2001) census the organisation stated there was no fewer than 1,667 mature individuals but no greater than 6,666, which is rounded to 1,500 to 7,000 mature individuals exactly. Since the last 2001 census its quite possible populations have increased and decreased to date.
A. nipalensis is known to inhabit the following ranges; Bhutan, north-east India, Myanmar, southern Yunnan and south-east Tibet, China, [west] Thailand, Laos and Viet Nam. The species has declined [drastically] and is no longer common throughout most of its known historical range. While we know the species is now regionally extinct within Nepal the next likely localized extinction may very well be within Viet Nam of which its populations have fallen to alarming rates.
Within [most] of Thailand where the species was quite common reports have sadly indicated the bird is no longer commonly seen, and like Viet Nam, Thailand could become the third county to see localized extinctions occurring too, the only known habitat within Thailand that A nipalensis occurs now is within west Thailand. To date reports have confirmed that within Bhutan A. nipalensis remains pretty much common of which Bhutan is known to the birds [largest] stronghold.
Healthy large populations have also been documented back in 2007 within Namdapha National Park, India, Nakai-Nam Theun National Biodiversity Conservation Area, central Laos and perhaps also Huai Kha Khaeng, [west Thailand], and Xishuangbanna Nature Reserve, China. Some conservationists have been led to believe that while populations are considered quite large within these strongholds that the species may very well be “more widespread than previously thought”. Meanwhile the species is known to inhabit north Myanmar, and there are recent records from West Bengal and Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh, India.
Rufous-cheeked Hornbill commonly resides within broad-leaved forest, some reports have also indicated the species to be present within dry woodland too. Mating and nesting normally occurs from the months of March to June within large wide girth trees, the very trees that the species depends on though are being felled throughout most of the Hornbills historical range.
Image: Rufous-necked-Hornbill (Photographer unknown)
Its dependence on large trees for feeding and nesting makes it especially susceptible to deforestation and habitat degradation through logging, shifting cultivation and clearance for agriculture. Furthermore, viable populations require vast tracts of forest to survive, exacerbating its susceptibility to habitat fragmentation. These problems are compounded by widespread hunting and trapping for food, and trade in pets and casques. Hunting is the primary threat to the species in Arunachal, India. A report from the Wildlife Extra organisation details poaching incidents with regards to Hornbills.
Wildlife Extra stated:
The unique and intriguing breeding habits that caught Pilai Poonswad attention are central to the birds’ plight. Each hornbill pair seeks out a suitable hollow – 15 to 40 metres above the ground in the trunk or branch of a Neobalanocarpus, Dipterocarpus or Syzygium tree – in which to raise a single chick. When a suitable cavity is found, the female walls herself in, using mud supplied by her mate and regurgitated food, to hatch and rear her chick. The male feeds them for the next three months and, if he fails, both mother and chick may perish. The birds consume up to 80 different kinds of fruit, scattering the seeds over many hectares of forest. With other seed-distributing animals such as monkeys now scarce, the hornbill has become pivotal in maintaining the integrity of the forest. But the birds rarely spread the seeds of the trees in which they nest: if these disappear, the hornbills too will vanish – and the trees and plants they help propagate will soon follow.
Click the link above via the [report] to read more on this very fascinating conservationist.
My name is Dr Jose Carlos Depre, MD, B.Env.Sc, BSBio, D.V.M. I myself have been working within bird, tree kangaroo and pachydermata conservation, rescue and reporting for over fifteen years.
Within these unique, wonderful and exhilarating years I have witnessed one of my favorite species of animals [birds] declining to worrying levels that is now so concerning it has led to sleepless nights for many years. Should we continue to see such catastrophic population decreases of birds we’ll eventually witness alarming declines of plants and trees. The same applies with insects and herbivorous mammals too.
Like insects birds are incredibly important for both human and animal survival. The vast majority of all bird species rely on plants for their staple diet. On consuming fruits, leaves, flowers Etc, the very seeds within the birds diet of life needed to continue seed dispersal will be lost should all bird populations go extinct. Should this occur we selfish humans will then become the Planets seed disperses. Think about that next time you fell a tree or rip a plant up.
Dr Jose. C. Depre
Environmental and Botanical Scientist.
Thank you for reading and please share fare and wide to create as much awareness for all Hornbills as possible.
Endangered Species Friday – Arborophila rufipectus
This Friday’s endangered species I document on yet another species of bird that’s sadly been added to International Animal Rescue Foundation’s Bird Watch Project. Scientifically identified as the Arborophila rufipectus and commonly known as the Sichuan Partridge the species is listed as endangered – nearing extinction. (Image adult Sichuan Partridge). Listed as a nationally-protected species in China. In 1998, it was recorded in Mabian Dafengding Nature Reserve, where there was estimated to be 192 km2 of potentially suitable habitat.
Identified by Dr Boulton in 1932 the species falls into the phasianidae family. A. rufipectus is restricted to its endemic range of China from which its known to inhabit the south-central Sichuan, China with some sketchy reports of the species documented within Yunnan.
Reporting from Singapore where one of five of our Asiatic Bird Watch Projects are situated, environmental teams stipulated from their visits into China within the past fourteen months, no current camera trappings of the species have been recorded within its native range, or ranges where past census’s have been undertaken.
Furthermore the team exhausted all other searches by widening the search covering a total of 2,100 km2. Observations were undertaken in key areas where it was deemed the Sichuan Partridge may be inhabiting taking into consideration food sources, areas of forest that hadn’t been logged while communicating to local hunters, poachers and, locals within the area.
Graduate Lee Won – International Animal Rescue Foundation’s Bird Watch Project CEO stated “We covered an area over the 1,700 km2 setting camera traps within Sichuan and Yannan (2014-2015). The traps were in place for exactly 14 months of which not one single individual or even a pair of Sichuan Partridges were recorded, which brings me and the team to the conclusion that its quite possible extinctions have already occurred, western environmental organisations have as yet to catch up on this data”.
Lee Won and the team that are working within extreme environments stated that vast deforestation is increasing within the birds natural environment of which enforcement and environmental protection remains to be seen. “If Chinese authorities and the Department of Forests and Environment do not protect the Yunnan forests there will be little flora or fauna remaining within this area by 2030” Won stated. The situation is more than dire, its tragic Lee confirmed.
With populations still recorded as “decreasing” the last known census recorded from 1996-1997 recorded an “estimated” total of 806 to 1,772 mature individuals (final count stood at 1,500-3,749). So from Lee Won and his teams evaluations its quite possible that extinction has occurred of which evidence will be submitted in due course to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Dai bo (2007) stated that new sightings of the Sichuan Partridges have been recorded within Laojunshan Nature Reserve numbering around eighty four individuals, these sightings were recorded from 1998-2002. Kim Won’s Bird Watch Project will be making their way to the Laojunshan Nature Reserve in the next few weeks in the hope to locate any evidence of the birds present occupation within the area. Unfortunately we remain skeptical. As explained from 1996/7 population estimate is likely to be too low, hence it is best placed in the band 1,000-2,499 mature individuals. This equates to 1,500-3,749 individuals in total, rounded here to 1,500-4,000 individuals. (Source IUCN).
Males are territorial and monogamous. Males will stay away from the females before mating and during the incubation period. At all other times, males will roost alongside the females. While females are brooding on the ground, the males will sit near the ground for two weeks and then leave to roost elsewhere. The breeding season is late March while the hatching season is mid-May through mid-July. Once paired, males will guard females 24 hours a day.
Image: Sichuan Partridge fledgling.
When it comes to the general breeding and habitat locations for the partridge, it prefers more local areas far from direct disturbances from human contact. Males have three types of one-syllable call, which are a crowing call, courtship call, and preserving territory call. The syllable duration is significantly different between calls, but the difference of main peak frequency was not significantly different. The vocal behaviors will benefit to preserve mates and avoid the predator pressure so the population could last longer.
The Sichuan partridge lives mostly in southern Sichuan Province, in south-west China. It prefers primary and older planted secondary broadleaf forests, rather than one with human activity close by. Prefers a dense canopy and more open understory. The major habitats (in ranking order) are Primary Broadleaf Forest, old replanted Broadleaf Forest, Degraded Forest, and scrub. It prefers thick shrubs for roosting.
Recent work on the species in Laojunshan Nature Reserve found that the species occurred in secondary broadleaf forest but not in settlements, coniferous plantations or farmland [please note there remains no date regarding recent work]. The same study found that birds typically occurred between 1400 and 1800m above sea level in the reserve, and mostly on gently sloping ground close to water sources. [undated with citation required].
Until recently the main threat was habitat destruction through commercial clear-felling of primary forest, as most remaining primary broadleaved forest within its known range was at risk from logging within 20-25 years. In 1998, a government-imposed ban on logging in the upper Yangtze Basin led to a complete halt in deforestation throughout its range.
There is now a major forest plantation scheme in operation aiming to re-forest ridges and steeper slopes. In general though, habitat is still declining. In some areas, forest is still being cleared for agriculture or illegally logged, although this has been “alleged to be on a small scale”. Many people enter the forest to collect bamboo shoots, firewood and medicinal plants in spring and early autumn, which creates substantial disturbance during the breeding season, and additional disturbance is caused by livestock either grazing in, or moving through, the forest.
The species is also illegally hunted. Hydroelectric schemes and the resulting reservoirs in the valleys below its mountain forest habitat cause indirect future threats as the people they displace will be moved to higher locations in close proximity to the remaining forest, putting it under increased pressure.
Further assessments on the species and other endemic species will continue through to next year. I hope to update you on my teams current goals and objectives.
Thank you for reading.
Dr Jose C. Depre.
Please support the organisation Say No To Dog Meat this Malbok Festival from July to August 2015.
Endangered Species Friday – Bos javanicus
“Thus, the hunting is the proximate cause of decline”
Hunters often demand that we prove to them such a sport or just hunting for food say hasn’t ever pushed a species into nearing extinction or extinction within the wild. The Bos javanicus is under threat from hunters and poachers. (image above – female Banteng)
This Friday’s endangered species article we focus our attention on the Banteng as its commonly known identified back in 1823 by Dr Joseph Wilhelm Eduard d’Alton (August 11, 1772 – May 11, 1840). Mr d’Alton was a German engraver and naturalist who was a native of Aquileia (today part of Italy). He was the father of anatomist Johann Samuel Eduard d’Alton (1803–1854).
He studied in Vienna, and later worked in several locations, including Weimar and Jena. Afterwards he moved to Würzburg, where he worked with embryologist Christian Heinrich Pander (1794–1865). He later taught art history and architectural theory at the University of Bonn, where in 1827 he became a “full professor” of art history. From 1831 to 1840, d’Alton was a member of the Prussian Academy of Arts. One of his famous students in Bonn was Karl Marx. ~Wiki.
The Banteng is listed as (endangered) and is endemic to the countries of Cambodia, Indonesia (Bali, Jawa, Kalimantan), Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia – Regionally Extinct, Sabah), Myanmar, Thailand and lastly Viet Nam.
Unfortunately the species is now known to be “regionally extinct” within the countries of Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam and India. From 1986 to 1994 the species was listed only as (vulnerable) however, due to mass deforestation, poaching, habitat destruction and unregulated hunting not forgetting increasing human population the species has since been listed as (endangered) from 1996 to 2000.
Recent surveys have since established where localized extinctions have occurred (listed above). Furthermore new observations of this rather unique and stunning wild cattle is still considered to be (endangered) despite new evidence of increasing populations emerging in Thailand.
The species historically occurred throughout China in the Yunnan province. Historical data proves the Banteng was present within the Peninsular Malaysia to the islands of Borneo, Java, and probably Bali (please note that in Bali both domestic and wild cattle are known to coexist).
There is no evidence that the species originated from Bali due to there being no fossil evidence being located thus far. Some “populations” on the island are therefore classified as (domestic) rather than all wild. A point of concern has been noted from Dr Watling that quoted “interbreeding with domestic Bali cattle is a problem and the population is unlikely to consist solely of pure-bred animals”. Dr Wind and Dr Amir had earlier raised similar fears too back in 1977.
The species known to inhabit the island of Bali was introduced and did not originate as explained above. Furthermore the “domestic” Banteng have been introduced into Sulawesi, Sumbawa, and Sumba. Feral Banteng occur in Kalimantan. Introduced Banteng (probably feral animals) occurs on the Indonesian islands of Enggano (off Sumatra) and Sangihe (off Sulawesi).
Domestic Banteng has also been introduced to New Guinea and Australia and there are now large feral herds in the Northern Territory. One may have noticed in local Australian hunting magazines, online or within farms in the Northern Territory hunters now paying large sums of money to kill and trophy mount the species within their homes. Despite the “wild” populations suffering and nearing extinction little money from such hunting projects is even provided to conservation organisations and local communities to preserve the species within its native habitat.
Image: Male Banteng Bull (Males are mostly black whereas females are brown)
Wild Banteng are known to live on the island of Bali (please remember not to confuse domestic with wild populations). Furthermore wild Banteng are known to inhabit the island of Java, Kalimantan [Indonesian Borneo], Sabah (although in Sabah extinctions have been noted but not as yet fully confirmed).
A few populations remain in Sarawak however the species is completely extinct within Brunei. Banteng are extinct within Bangladesh and, in India. There are some conflicting reports that the species never even existed within Manipur (northern India – to note).
Extinctions have occurred sadly in Western Malaysia since the 1950’s. southeast Yunnan around Tongbiguan Nature Reserve, along the border with Myanmar; however, the source for this is unclear; and presence in China should be considered tentative at best. Its quite likely the Banteng in China is extinct too however this must not be taken as confirmed. We remain open on this case until further proof is made available of populations being present within the range as explained above.
The species is still wildly inhabiting within Cambodia, Cardamoms Mountain range, with the bulk of the population remaining in the eastern forests, centered on Mondulkiri Province.
The entire “worlds” population is said to be no fewer than 8,000 mature individuals however could be no fewer than 5,000 if that. In Cambodia, Banteng probably declined by 90% . Listed on Cites Appendix II population trends are declining rapidly despite the fact there are some four sub-species and the largest strong hold of sub-populations is on the island of Java.
The major threats to Banteng are hunting and habitat loss. In Sabah habitat loss to permanent agriculture is a serious threat, although hunting is equally significant and the species has been rapidly exterminated from many areas there. Habitat loss has also been serious in Java since 1998. Elsewhere, hunting is the most widespread and significant threat, and is exacerbated especially in mainland Southeast Asia by human repopulation of lowland forest areas and associated habitat fragmentation, that is, the very areas where most Bantengs occur.
Image: Domestic Banteng are hung to death every year within Baojiang, Rongshui, Guangxi China. The ceremony is yet another listed threat to the species as it also includes wild Banteng that the locals “and foreign tourists” consider non-cruel, a tradition that’s been ongoing for over 500 years. Wild Banteng are considered more important than domestic – of which places a considerable threat to the population despite some conflicting evidence that wild Banteng populations and few and little within China. Nevertheless the species is under immense threat.
Although huge tracts of suitable habitat were lost in the twentieth century, and continue to be converted, this has probably largely occurred after Banteng have been hunted out. Thus, the hunting is the proximate cause of decline, but habitat loss is continually reducing the maximum population possible if hunting issues were to be controlled.
The magnitude of the threat posed to Banteng by international trade in trophy horns is difficult to quantify. Nevertheless, given the small size of the remaining Banteng population and the number of trophies found for sale in Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam, during what were essentially opportunistic surveys, it is clearly a major threat on the Asian mainland. The threat posed by use of traditional medicinal substances derived from wild oxen is even harder to determine in the case of Banteng and essentially remains unknown, although it is thought to be a source of significant threat to Gaur.
The most important population in Cambodia is scattered through a forest landscape that encompasses four provinces (Mondulkiri, Kratie, Stung Treng and Ratanakiri) and five conservation areas (Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary, Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary, Siema Biodiversity Conservation Area, Mondulkiri Protection Forest (including the Srepok Wilderness Area) and Phnom Nam Lyr Wildlife Sanctuary).
Hunting is still rife in much of this area, and forest fragmentation is rapidly accelerating with human population in-migration, infrastructural developments (especially roads), commercial agricultural expansion, economic land speculation and mineral extraction. However, although perhaps less than 20% of this area is well protected from the aforementioned threats and protected area management is only close to effective in two areas, the most significant issue concerning the area is the long-term uncertainty of continuation of effective conservation management of the Srepok Wilderness Area and Siema Biodiversity Conservation Area.
Although conservation efforts for Banteng and many other species have been, in both areas, extremely encouraging for the last few years, both areas face an uncertain future with the possibility of de-gazettment of conservation status of parts of them, the possible loss of adequate external funding necessary to maintain high standards of management, the possible loss of political support necessary to uphold high protection standards and the uncertainties of maintaining a motivated and well-trained staff.
On Java some populations are potentially threatened by heavy predation from Dholes Cuon alphinus (a species I spoke about this Monday). All populations are also threatened by poaching and some, perhaps most, are threatened by habitat loss and degradation. During the 1980s–1990s, when poaching and land conversion were relatively well under control in Javan national parks, the chief threat to the large population of Banteng in Baluran National Park was loss of grazing area to invasion by the introduced tree Acacia nilotica (Leguminosae) that converts open grassland to dense thorny scrub-forest.
Image: Introduced into Australia in the last century the species is hunted for sport despite the species being listed as endangered within its native range – very little money is raised for preservation of the species within Australasia. Hunting remains outside of Australia as the major number number one threat pushing the species and sub-species into more decline.
This plant was introduced (without adequate risk assessment) as part of an attempt to create a living fire-break around the park’s grasslands, wild fire then being adjudged the major threat to the park’s monsoon forests. Since that introduction, repeated cutting of the acacia has led to coppicing into very dense thickets that contain little or no grass or other herbs and are difficult for the cattle to penetrate. Thus habitat loss and poaching are now serious limiting factors in Baluran National Park, and habitat loss/degradation remains a severe long-term threat to be addressed. Lantana camara (Verbenaceae) is also a problem in Banteng habitat in Baluran National Park and elsewhere on Java.
Bali cattle have long been interbred with other cattle: Banteng and Bali cattle can interbreed with both common cattle and mithan (Bos frontalis). Hybrids between Banteng and common cattle (Bos Taurus) of the zebu type are fully fertile; in hybrids between Banteng and Bos Taurus of the European type the males are sterile. Domestic and feral livestock are thus a potential threat to the genetic integrity of wild Banteng populations and a number of reports suggest that wild Banteng does interbreed with domestic cattle.
For example, Hoogerwerf (1970) referred to several sources from the 1930s and 1940s which mention that many groups of Banteng in Kalimantan (particularly East Kalimantan) were no longer pure-bred having interbred with stray domestic cattle. Wharton (1957) also found evidence of interbreeding with domestic cattle in Cambodia; and reports from Myanmar mention that Banteng feed alongside village cattle and occasionally interbreed with them.
In addition to the genetic threat, domestic livestock are a potential source of diseases and parasites. This can have very serious consequences for Banteng which appear to be particularly susceptible to a number of cattle diseases; for example, Banteng populations in Myanmar have been very badly affected by diseases from domestic cattle.
Introgression with domestic cattle is not presently an issue in Sabah; there have been imports of Bali cattle mostly by large cattle farms who house animals in feedlots away from wild populations. Ahmad AH is unaware of any instances of deliberate introduction of Bali cattle or other domestic oxen into forest areas, or of any plantation holders that have deliberately introduced their cattle into the range of wild Banteng. Although integration of livestock into oil palm plantation has been discussed for many years, this has not yet been put into practice.
In all due respects its quite likely were going to lose the species due to unregulated hunting, controlled over hunting, poaching, traditional medicine trade, habitat destruction and fragmentation, land conversion and agriculture.
Video: Female Banteng
Thank you for reading.
Dr Jose C. Depre
With thanks and much appreciation to the Environmental Team at – International Animal Rescue Foundation Asia.
Endangered Species Monday – Cuon alpinus.
Dhole – Reckless and Daring.
This Monday’s endangered species article we focus on a rather undocumented species of wild dog in the family of canidae generically identified as the Cuon alpinus back in 1811 and commonly named as Asiatic wild dog, Indian wild dog or just Red dog.
The species was scientifically named by Berlin born Dr Peter Simon Pallas (22 September 1741 – 8 September 1811) was a German zoologist and botanist who worked in Russia. A number of animals were described by Pallas, and his surname is included in their common names, including: Pallas’s cat, Pallas’s long-tongued bat, Pallas’s tube-nosed bat, Pallas’s squirrel, Pallas’s leaf warbler, Pallas’s cormorant, Pallas’s fish-eagle, Pallas’s gull, Pallas’s sandgrouse, Pallas’s rosefinch, and Pallas’s grasshopper warbler. Also, he is honored in the specific epithet of scientific names of animals described by others, including: Pallas’s pika (Ochotona pallasi), Pallas’s reed bunting (Emberiza pallasi), and Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii). (Wiki).
The Dhole is currently listed as (endangered) of which its populations are still decreasing quite rampantly. Although declines are still being documented the species remains native to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Thailand and finally Viet Nam.
Within central eastern Asia there still remains no confirmed reports of Dhole populations of which the species was once endemic to this range. However as the species has yet to be declared extinct within countries of eastern Asia we must continue to make public that the species may still be true to this region of south east Asia. Recent reports have stated the species was seen within Jiangxi district, south China, however, outside of this area no other confirmed sightings have been noted now for some years within the Tian-Shan Range.
Few sketchy reports have vaguely confirmed that the species was seen (2006) Qilian Shan in north-western Gansu Province. Meanwhile the Dhole still remains within Tibet of which forestry officers and locals confirm the species as “commonly viewed” which is at least a positive note despite populations declines over much of the species endemic range. North Korea was once known to hold Dholes however due to the communist states strict rules and no-go-areas its difficult to document or research on the species. If North Korea does indeed hold Dholes environmental research teams must be granted entry to secure the species from any localized extinction occurring.
South of the River Ganges, India Dholes are still very commonly viewed despite large human population increases, species displacement, human species conflict and, habitat fragmentation. Central, eastern and western India Dholes are still known to inhabit again, commonly. Research teams continue to pick the species up within north eastern India in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, and West Bengal too. Further reports place the species within the Ladakh area of Kashmir, which is contiguous with the Tibetan highlands in China.
In Bhutan, there have been recent press reports that Dholes have recovered from a government-initiated mass poisoning campaign in the 1970s and there have apparently been numerous recent incidents of Dholes killing livestock in the lower Kheng region. Two recent, independent, eye-witness reports identify Dholes in six protected areas in Bhutan. In some regions, Dhole predation on wild boar (Sus scrofa) may be viewed in a positive light by local people. Wild boars are known to injure and in some cases fatally wound the locals.
Reports still cannot confirm if the species is present within Bangladesh. In Indochina, Dholes probably ranged over all or almost all of Lao PDR, Cambodia, Viet Nam and Thailand, although reliable site-specific information is scarce. Present distribution is highly fragmented and large parts, particularly of Viet Nam and Thailand, are without any regular occurrence of Dholes, although they persist in a number of protected areas.
The species’ historical range probably included all or most of the Malaysian peninsula and the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java, but reliable information is scarce. Current distribution is poorly known but is thought to be highly fragmented. On the Malaysian peninsula, Dholes are known to occur in four sites in northern and central areas of the peninsula (from recent camera-trap surveys). On Java, Dholes appear to be most common in the protected areas at the eastern and western ends of the island. On Sumatra, very little is known, but Dholes are known to occur in major protected areas in the southern, central, and northern parts of the island (e.g., from camera trapping).. There is no reliable evidence of the presence of Dhole in Turkey.
Within some areas Dholes are known to inhabit the same areas as Tigers and Leopards however, due to increasing poaching attacks these areas are not being made public. Its quite likely though that poachers may use the Dhole as a point of interest to illegally monitor and poach Tigers and Leopards. Competition between the Dhole, Leopard and Tiger is mostly avoided due to differences in prey. Some reports have been duly noted of Dholes actually attacking Tigers causing them considerable damage and in two known cases Dhole packs have been documented as killing Tigers.
One would be led to believe that the Tiger has no real predators however, when a Dhole or Dhole pack confronts a Tiger the Tiger will on most occasions retreat up a tree or high rocky incline. Dholes are known to “mob” Tigers for a considerable time should they feel threatened or malnourished. Reports have shown that Dholes are more than able to fend off Tigers and in most cases will if threatened or in search of food maim or fatally wound the Tiger. Dholes are quite able to defend themselves too and have the canines to easily kill and take on Tigers in Tiger habitat. Interactions between the Dhole, Tiger and Leopard has been documented however very little eye accounts or video footage show such species species conflict.
One of the very earliest reports of “Indian wild dogs” attacking Tigers can be viewed below for your immediate attention and information.
Image: A Tiger Hunted by Wild Dogs (1807) by Samuel Howitt. This is one of the first illustrations of the species, featured in Thomas Williamson’s Oriental Field Sports. The depiction though is based on Williamson’s description of the animal as resembling the Indian pariah dog.
Depletion of prey base: Across almost all of Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Viet Nam, as well as within protected areas, ungulates occur at levels well below natural. All species of ungulate except muntjacs, pigs, and in some areas southern serow (Naemorhedus sumatraensis) are ecologically or fully extinct across extensive parts of the region. Only a few of the largest wildernesses support nearly intact species assemblages and even in these, the larger species (Bos spp., Cervus spp., hog deer Axis porcinus) are very rare.
This situation will likely hinder any possibility of recovery by the region’s Dhole populations, even if the other issues could be addressed. While not as depressed as in Indochina, prey levels in Indonesia also exist at levels much below carrying capacity (because of illegal hunting and habitat degradation). In protected areas in southern and central India, where Dhole numbers are stable, prey densities are high. In north-east India, prey densities are very low in protected areas with Dholes.
Habitat loss and transformation: Currently, extensive areas of natural or semi-natural vegetation remain in Lao PDR and Cambodia, some areas encompassing many hundreds of square kilometres of potential Dhole habitat. However, habitat conversion and fragmentation are proceeding apace. In Viet Nam, very few natural areas of over 50 km² remain. Habitat loss and fragmentation is a major threat to protected areas in Indonesia, particularly those on Sumatra. Habitat loss and degradation are also serious threats to Dholes in South Asia and the disappearance of Dholes from many of the forested tracts in India has been attributed in large part to loss of habitat.
Persecution: This certainly occurs in Indochina, although it is unclear how often. In Indonesia, too, it is a threat but again its significance is unknown. In India, such persecution can play a serious role in limiting local populations. Dholes living outside or on the edge of core protected areas are particularly vulnerable to human kleptoparasitism, snaring (non-selective) and direct persecution. For example, during a radio-tracking study in 2000, in the buffer zone of Kanha Tiger Reserve, central India, at least 16 out of 24 Dholes in one pack died from a sudden strychnine poisoning. In southern India, such persecution is moderate to low and often occurs indirectly when cattle graziers and others inadvertently go close to Dhole dens and disturb adults and pups, disrupting breeding and rearing. “By-catch” in snares and other traps is probably a significant threat to Dholes across Indochina at least.
Competition with other species: Apparently, free-living dogs have been seen and/or camera trapped in many parts of Indochina, but there is no evidence for existence of large populations. Undoubtedly, the main competitor for prey species in Indochina is people. There is no evidence that feral dogs are significant competitors with Dholes in Indonesia. In many parts of their range, Dholes are sympatric with Tigers and Leopards and so the potential for significant interspecific competition for prey exists, especially if the prey populations are reduced as a result of hunting by people.
Disease and pathogens: Particularly those transmitted by feral and/or domestic dogs (e.g., mange, canine distemper, parvovirus and rabies). The significance of disease is unclear in Indochina, but diseases are a significant threat in South Asia and probably in parts of Indonesia. There is no widespread exploitation for fur or other purposes, though medicinal use should be investigated in China..
Thank you for reading.
Dr Jose C. Depre
Chief Environmental and Botanical Environmentalist (CEO)