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Posts tagged “Poaching

Endangered Species Friday: Ailurops ursinus

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Endangered Species Friday: Ailurops ursinus

A. ursinis was identified back in 1824 by Dutchman Dr Coenraad Jacob Temminck – (31 March 1778 – 30 January 1858) was a Dutch aristocrat, zoologist, and museum director. Listed as vulnerable the species is endemic to Indonesia on the island of Sulawesi of which there remains limited data on this rather fine specimen of marsupial that resides in the family phalangeridae. (Image: Young Bear cuscus)

Populations of the (Bear cuscus) as its commonly known continue to steadily decline even though there are limited – conservation measures in place protecting the species (There remains as yet no data on population size). The Bear cuscus has practically gone extinct within the Tangkoko-DuaSudara Nature Reserve of which a staggering 95% decline has been recorded within the region alone of which the primary threat within the nature reserve is hunting and trade for pets.

North Sulawesi has also seen a staggering decline identical to the population decreases documented within the Tangkoko-DuaSudara Nature Reserve too. Yet again hunting and the illegal pet trade are very much responsible, and may very well within the next five to ten years lead to a complete extinction occurring.

As much as I myself hate to say it I am pretty certain from viewing statistical data past and present that extinctions are going to occur even sooner than predicted. Should extinctions occur it proves yet again that poaching is having a disastrous effect onto just about every African and Asian species known.

Habitat loss and forest clearance are all playing a pivotal roll at decreasing populations of this beautifully attractive marsupial. As a conservation and botanical scientist sometimes I wonder to oneself why we even bother to help species of animals and flora when some governments show no support, or respect whatsoever in our quest to protect and serve. Then I remember, my children and their children’s heritage is just as important as mine and the teams fight to protect.

Bear cuscus are known as arboreal marsupials meaning, they mostly thrive and spend the majority of their peaceful and playful lives within trees and dense forest. Unfortunately these forests and trees are slowly dwindling in size primarily for land clearance to support local farms and communities and, not forgetting slash and burn activities. I cannot begin to imagine what these creatures think and feel when destructful and greedy humans destroy their homes and pastures.  The feeling of not-knowing-when such harm is to be inflicted must be terrorizing for them.

The genus contains the following single species that is known to be related to the Bear cuscus; Ailurops melanotis that inhabits the Salibabu Island listed as (critically endangered) and endemic to Indonesia on the island of Sulawesi. Typically found in undisturbed tropical lowland moist forests, this species does not readily use disturbed habitats, thus it is not usually found in gardens or plantations. It is a largely diurnal and as explained a arboreal species that is often found in pairs. Diet usually consists of a variety of leaves, preferring young leaves, and like many other arboreal folivores it spends much of its day resting in order to digest similar to the Koala bear of Australia.

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Image: Bear cuscus relaxing in the canopy of Tangkoko

The only known conservation actions that are taking place are within in few protected areas, that include: Tangkoko-DuaSudara Nature Reserve, Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park, Lore Lindu National Park, Morowali National Park, and a host of forest reserves. This species is nominally protected by Indonesian law. Unfortunately even though the species is protected the illegal pet trade still continues of which I myself have on many occasions located small pet shops in Indonesia selling Bear cuscus from rusty, cramped cages.

Threats

The species is threatened by habitat loss due to clearance of forest for small-scale agriculture and through large-scale logging. It is also heavily hunted by local people for food, and collected for the pet trade. Cuscus hunting forays are often planned before special occasions (e.g., birthday celebrations) in order to provide future guests with the greatly appreciated meat. (These inferences are based on some six months of residence among Alune villagers in 1993–95, which included participation in forest activities and standard ethnographic data collection.)

Thank you reading. 

Dr Jose C. Depre 

Environmental and Botanical Scientist. 

info@international-animalrescue-foundation.org.uk

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India: War on Poaching Intensifies.

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India: War on Poaching intensifies.

Since early May 2012 the Indian State, Maharashtra government provided all of its rangers a shoot to kill licence directly aimed at “poachers” regardless of age, sex or religion. The shoot to kill order was given of which rangers are immune from prosecution due to high levels of Rhino, Tiger, Lion and, Elephant poaching within the country.

When International Animal Rescue Foundation India became aware of Maharashtra government’s demands they watched and waited for results of which back then were little however, since 2013 rangers have been actively involved in over one hundred and forty nine legal killings with a further eleven so far to date (13th June 2015). The number is believed to be a lot higher. Furthermore as poaching is not just confined to “animals” but also the sacred sandalwood, forestry rangers have been actively engaging sandalwood poachers and smugglers too.

April 4th 2015 forestry rangers and Police came under heavy gunfire in two separate locations within Tamil Nadu, Chittoor. Police and forestry guards tried to apprehend some twenty sandalwood poachers/smugglers of which took off into the sandalwood forests in Andhra Pradesh. The first shoot out saw some saw some nine smugglers shot dead in one area of the sandalwood forest that is unknown to us while a second saw a further eleven smugglers shot dead in what was described as a “heavy exchange” of bullets from both sides within Chittoor in Southern Andhra Pradesh. While some people have stated this action unjust we please ask you to continue to reading (to the bottom) for you to fully understand why the Police and forestry services may have took such action.

2015 has been quite a busy year thus far for forestry rangers and Police. At the start of the year, 15th January 2015 three Rhino poachers that were directly ordered to lay down their weapons aimed them at forestry guards opening fire. The incident that took place in the Kaziranga National Park, in the remote state of Assam prompted forestry guards to act quickly and professionally to preserve the sacred One Horned Rhino of which they shot the three poachers dead instantly. Fortunately no forestry guards or the Rhino were injured this time.

March 2015 a further three ivory poachers that were caught red handed slaughtering an Indian Rhino of which the Indian Rhino lost its life and was left in a pitiful state were shot dead immediately. We’ve included the image of that Rhino below for your information and to grasp why we and India have now had enough of this slaughter and will take the relevant steps required to support our men and women to secure our fauna and flora.

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Image: Rhino killed by ivory poachers – poachers shot dead on site. 

While poaching continues so does “hunting the poachers too” and so it rightfully should. International Animal Rescue Foundation India supported by its sister Africans Environmental company, began paying five “unnamed” forestry units within the shoot to kill zones larger cash incentives to hunt and take down any mammal or sandalwood poachers. The organisation has come under some fierce criticism from mainly European and American citizens most of which are devout church goers or, believe poverty is the first step that needs to be dealt with.

International Animal Rescue Foundation’s Indian Chief Executive Officer Vasvi Kanal stated “On consulting the Chief Environmental Officer back in 2012 when we were made aware of Maharashtra’s stance we knew we had to do something to support our brave men and women. After a meeting in New Delhi that following summer it was decided we should support the shoot to kill policy to send a a direct message out to poachers that you’ll no longer simply walk into our forests and parks and take what’s not rightfully yours”. Kanal went onto state “The shoot to kill policy had to be endorsed one way or the other and, I thank the Chief Environmental Officer Dr Jose Depre for wiring the funds directly to us that are now placed into the hands of these brave men and women to seek and kill poachers”.

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Image: Indian Rhino poacher shot dead on site. 

Since the policy was enacted in 2012 in Maharashtra some seven states within India have since followed suite of Maharashtra’s firm stance and, since 2014 we’ve seen a staggering increase of poachers that have been caught trying to kill Rhino, Elephant, Tiger or illegally harvesting sandalwood shot dead on site. Furthermore many Indian press agencies have picked up the organisations support creating debate and stories on the subject that has encouraged more and more female and male citizens to come on board to protect and preserve our natural habitat and sacred heritage.

Soon after Maharashtra’s stance on “all animal and habitat poaching/destruction” took on a new positive twist, Nepal back in 2013 set their Anti Poaching Units into action – to hunt the – hunters. About 10 years ago, when the country was deeply mired in a civil war between government forces and Maoist rebels, there was hardly any focus on wildlife protection in one of Nepal’s most famous parks

The number of army monitoring posts in and around the park was reduced from 30 to seven as soldiers were shifted to anti-insurgency operations. In 2002, about 37 Rhinos were killed by poachers, triggering grave concern over the future of One-Horned Rhinos. Their numbers dropped from an estimated 612 in 2000 to less than 375 in 2005.
“According to our last rhino census in 2011 the number of Rhinos in the park has risen to more than 500,” said Kamal Jung Kunwar, a senior official at the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.

As the chief of the Anti-Poaching Operation from 2003 to 2007, Mr Kunwar played a key role in the conservation of Rhinos in Chitwan National Park. Spread over an area of more than 930 sq km, the park consists mostly of Sal trees and grasslands. Its flat lowlands are home to a variety of endangered animals like Royal Bengal Tigers, Rhinos, Leopards and Gharial Crocodiles. Crucial re-deployment: The successful conservation effort is attributed to a variety of initiatives, including tough action against poachers, enhanced intelligence and involving villagers living around the park in conservation efforts.

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Image: Rhino poacher shot dead.

Meanwhile, while India strides forwards in its tough Anti Poaching operations poachers are still targeting rangers and police leaving their seriously injured on in many cases themselves killed. Deaths continue on both sides and rarely do the press and media overseas bother to print on the bravery of these men and women or, their tragic deaths.

Back in January 2014  poachers killed a female Rhino and a home guard at the Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park, that Wednesday. Park officials said the home guard, Sushil, was killed during a gun battle with the poachers, who also managed to chop off the Rhino’s horn.

Rifles and ammunition were recovered from the spot. This is the second case of poaching at Orang which has about 100 Rhinos. The last Rhino was killed earlier in December, following which the park authorities announced a cash reward of Rs 50,000 for information on poacher Md Joynaluddin alias Junu. The authorities have also pasted Joynaluddin’s posters at several places in Darrang, Sonitpur, and Morigaon districts.

Back in 2014 a survey was undertaken on the number of rangers that are sadly murdered by poachers and killed by wild animals within the country according to the IBT. The results were shocking of which encouraged International Animal Rescue Foundation India to push more funding into local forestry units around Assam and the Ministry that supports guards financially. India loses more forest/Anti Poaching Guards than any other country on the planet.

Most of the Indian forest security men and women have been killed by poachers and wild animals, states the survey by non-profit organisation International Ranger Federation (IRF). In the past three years, as many as 72 forest rangers died in India, whereas in other countries in Asia, Africa and America, only less than 10 deaths of forest rangers have been reported, The Times of India reported, quoting the survey by IRF which strives to create awareness about forest rangers and security men.

It can be recalled that smugglers of red sanders killed several forest rangers in AP’s Tirumala forests in recent years. Notorious bandit Veerappan has also killed several forest officers and security men till a decade ago. The survey further stated that about 60 percent of the forest rangers’ killings, in the last three years, happened in Asia.
“We are extremely concerned that rangers continue to face high levels of violence and are being murdered at an alarming pace,” said IRF president Sean Willmore.

India lost 24 forest rangers in 2014, 14 in 2013 and 34 in 2012. India tops the list in the deaths of forest rangers during all three years. The report went onto state – That most rangers were killed by wild animals and poachers. Apart from animals and poachers, diseases such as dengue and malaria, forest fires and road accidents have also claimed the lives of rangers, the survey added.

In India, smugglers of wild animals and forest wealth like red sanders do not hesitate to kill rangers, if they are obstructed from committing the crime. In Seshachalam forest of Andhra Pradesh, about 200 smugglers attacked forest rangers and killed two officers in December 2013. The 200 smugglers first rained stones on the ranger sand then attacked them with batons. Rangers in India are often seen unarmed, making them vulnerable to the smugglers’ attacks.

The government of India has been dealing with wildlife poachers with an iron fist in the past one year with 30 poachers being gunned down in the Northeast alone. The number that figured in the data released by the environment ministry is the highest ever in the country. Most of the killings took place in the Kaziranga National Park, Assam. The KNP, Assam is the largest known “active poaching area” hence the largest amount of hits and is custodian to over 1000 endangered Indian one Horned Rhinos.

“The number shows our determination to eliminate wildlife traffickers and poachers. It is a big achievement of the Modi government,” environment minister Prakash Javadekar said recently.

Highly sophisticated arms were recovered from the poachers who killed Rhinos for horns smuggled to South-East Asia through porous Myanmar. Hunting down of poachers in Kharbi Anglong of Assam was undertaken by the Congress-led Assam government to save single-horn rhinos of Kaziranga and nearby areas.

Big cats at huge risk:

Wildlife in other parts of the country isn’t as lucky as the Rhinos. As many as 23 Tigers and 116 Leopards were poached in 2014 across India, with states like Uttarakhand, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh reporting a large number of cases.

“These are the cases that have been reported. There might have been cases where the poachers took the whole animal, without leaving a trace,” said Tito Joseph of the Wildlife Protection Society of India. Traffic, a non-government group monitoring wildlife trade, says that there has been no let down in illegal wildlife trade in India. It says the Northeast is turning into a hub of wildlife smuggling.

A report by the National Tiger Conservation Authority also indicates weak wildlife crime management in the country. It states that almost 40% of the forest guards do not have enough equipment to deal with highly organised wildlife crimes. “The states are not providing funds to modernize wildlife crime management,” a senior official said.

Concluding; 

Despite some public criticism calling the organisation “dogs” and “disgusting” India’s tough stance on Anti Poaching must continue. International Animal Rescue Foundation India hopes to push a further $15,500 into the cash incentive jar to help equip rangers, police and forest guards. Furthermore the environmental company that has some one people working on the ground in New Delhi will be working with local communities in poverty stricken zones where poachers are known to originate from to help decrease poaching, improve poverty and hopefully decrease killing on both sides.

Lastly I wish to leave you with this video directed at those that believe Indian forestry guards and Anti Poaching Units are randomly picking off innocent people. Please watch the video to the end and undertake your own Google search on those brave men that sadly lost their lives fighting for animal and environmental freedom.

Thank you for reading.

Johan La Roux

Rhino Welfare Project Africa.

 

 


Endangered Species Friday – Bos javanicus

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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.

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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.

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Threats

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.

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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.

Banteng-Hunting - Click to view more.

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

info@international-animalrescue-foundation.org.uk

With thanks and much appreciation to the Environmental Team at – International Animal Rescue Foundation Asia.

 


Endangered Species Friday: Anas bernieri.

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Endangered Species Friday – Anas bernieri

This Friday’s endangered species article I focus on my eighteenth “Madagascan” species of wildlife since establishing International Animal Rescue Foundation’s Endangered Species Watch Post one and half years ago. I very much doubt too that this will by mine or the teams last such species of Madagascan native animal to print on nearing extinction, simply because the island is rapidly being overcome by humans, habitat destruction and poaching.

Endemic only to the Africans island of Madagascar the the A. bernieri as the species is scientifically known was primarily identified back in 1860 by Dr Karel Johan Gustav Hartlaub (8 November 1814 – 29 November 1900) was a German physician and ornithologist.

Dr Hartlaub was born in Bremen, and studied at Bonn and Berlin before graduating in medicine at Göttingen. In 1840, he began to study and collect exotic birds, which he donated to the Bremen Natural History Museum. He described some of these species for the first time. Dr Hartlaub has been described by many leading ornithologists as an expert in bird wildlife and conservation and, has been ranked as one of few such experts that has identified over hundreds species of birds globally.

Listed as (endangered) the species is commonly known as the Bernier’s Teal or just Madagascar Teal. The species is uncommonly viewed within western Madagascar of which it can be found along the western coast and, north east. Bernier’s Teal is known to breed at the Menabe and Melaky on the central west coast, and at Ankazomborona on the far north-west coast. Between July and August (1993) the species was observed at Antsalova and Morondava of which a census recorded a total of some 200-300 mature individuals. Back in 1998 a small flock was observed in Tambohorano totaling some 60-70 mature individuals.

Furthermore in 1998 a new a new breeding colony numbering some 200-300 mature individuals was recorded in Ankazomborona. Meanwhile the population noted at Baie de la Mahajamba was estimated to be between some 100-200 mature individuals. (Please note that due to lack of census counts and close monitoring these population numbers above may differ from any future or now census counts) however the Durrel Wildlife Conservation Trust is helping to preserve one of the worlds most incredibly rare birds.

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The total mean population count of which could be lower than the last census undertaken back in 2007 stands at a pathetic and measly 1,200 to 1,700 mature individuals today. However due to mass deforestation, pollution, habitat fragmentation and destruction and, poaching, Etc, its quite possible populations of the A. bernieri have plummeted way below the last 2002 and 2007 census count.

The Madagascar Teal is of the Anas genus and is a dabbling duck. Huge areas of wetlands are being drained or altered for human activities such as farmland, rice paddies and prawn ponds. Their wooded habitat is also being destroyed for timber which effects their breeding. Due to the increase of humans in their area, hunting has also increased for so called sport and meat.

Threats

Listed on (Cites) Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species Wild Flora and Fauna the species is listed on Appendix II of which is threatened by a large number of mostly human threats. The species is now extremely threatened throughout its breeding range, by extensive habitat loss and disturbance. The distribution of known sites suggests that the single subpopulation is being fragmented as areas of habitat become unsuitable.

The species has limited dispersal capabilities and isolation may result in the loss of genetic diversity. Furthermore it is threatened by virtue of being highly specific to a series of habitats – which are themselves threatened – throughout its annual cycle. Conversion of shallow, muddy water-bodies to rice cultivation has been so widespread on the west coast that in the non-breeding season the species now appears to be confined to the few suitable wetlands that are too saline for rice-growing, i.e. some inland lakes and coastal areas such as mudflats.

In 2004, during a dry-season survey in Menabe, this species was only found in saline wetlands. Pressures on coastal wetlands are exacerbated by the movement of people from the High Plateau to coastal regions, which is driven by the over-exhaustion of land. Mangroves are under increasing pressure from prawn-pond construction and timber extraction, which also leads to massively increased hunting. Subsistence hunting during the nesting season and the trapping of molting birds are major threats too. It is considered a delicacy by hunters and was found in markets in Sofia in 2011.

See more here on the video above. http://harteman.nl/pages/anasbernieri

In contrast, the breeding site at Ankazomborona is not threatened by aquaculture and there is little pressure from subsistence hunters, though there is some pressure from “sport hunters”. Breeding birds may suffer disturbance from human activity, such as the collection of crabs. The species is potentially in competition for the use of suitable nest-holes with the Comb Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos, parrots Coracopsis species and nocturnal lemurs, Lepilemur species and Cheirogaleus species, though lemurs are absent in mangroves. Breeding is from December to March. Diet consists of mainly insects.

In all its very likely that we will lose the Madagascan Teal within the wild in next to three to five years unless conservation efforts drastically and rapidly improve and, the Madagascar Ministry of Environment and Forests tackles poaching, habitat fragmentation, destruction and human interference sooner rather than later. I personally believe from my last visit to Madagascar back in 2013 its very unlikely the M. Teal or any other species listed as critically endangered will continue to thrive for years to come. Catastrophic habitat destruction on the island is threatening hundreds of over a hundred species of medium and large mammalians.

How can I help? The “Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust” are currently undertaking amazing captive breeding programs of the Madagascan Teal that is known to be one of the worlds most rarest birds. You can help by supporting the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and making a donation to their organisation that will help increase captive breeding colonies for later release back into the wild. Even if the species cannot be released back onto the island of Madagascar (should extinctions occur), reintroduction programs elsewhere will continue to keep this species alive for future generations to come. You never know the species may be coming to a home somewhere near you soon. Please donate and contact the D.W.C.T <here for further information.

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Thank you 

Dr Jose C. Depre 

Environmental and Botanical Scientist. 

International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa.

For further information or if you’d like to help in upcoming events this year or in the future please contact the Environmental team here today.  info@international-animalrescue-foundation.org.uk


Con in Conservation?

Contrary to popular belief native Africans were not the first people on the continent to pursue a career or “sport” of trophy hunting. The history of trophy hunting dates as far back to the early 1800’s when southern and central European hunters sought out large or small game. Not much has really changed since the early 1800’s although hunters did out of mutual respect show much veneration to their kill more than today’s modern hunters that flock to the continent of Africa from far and wide in their droves.

Southern and central European hunters were known to keep the trophy head or entire animal as a sign of prowess however did leave much waste of which little of that waste was provided to local villagers and communities struggling financially or in times of famine when free food was much sough after. Today most professional hunters (PH) or outfitters allege that their trophy kill’s are evenly distributed out to the local communities and villagers in dire need of food.

Today in most of Southern Africa we see a mixture of international citizens hunting animals from lion, elephant, zebra, cheetah, impala down to hippopotamus and plains game. The vast majority of hunters visiting the continent range from northern Europe where hunting has long been associated with their history. Back in the 1800’s northern European hunters within their native range would mostly hunt for meat and in Africa evidence has shown that the majority of northern European hunters do indeed demand their kill or any waste is equally handed out to local villagers and communities. After all its their tradition and a tradition in northern Europe that is steeped in history.

Sport hunting has long gotten up Animal Rights Activists noses which today’s hunting generation rarely follow any rule of the land or continue to practice the family tradition as if its a heirloom. Environmental researchers from the Environmental News and Media team have long argued now that western disrespect within today’s hunting generation is now rubbing off onto our own African citizens that have been witnessed killing animals then parading the parts of bodies of animals or jokingly fooling around with the corpse as if it was nothing more than a piece of shit on ones shoe.

One such hunter witnessed back in 2012 that our investigative team noted last year named as Mr Henning Pretorius from Krugersdorp Gauteng, South Africa didn’t just grotesquely slaughter this non-threatened Zebra below – he then set about jumping on the animals dead back jokingly  fooling around and acting as if he was on some rodeo. Hardly professional hunting nor conservation. We will though give him his due respects where given of which the animal was slaughtered – however made into a rug for his own home. The meat was distributed among family members and friends which back in the 1880’s was uncommon.

Since Henning pretorius became aware of this image circulating Mr Pretorius not only demanded its removal but, has been given special cyber protection – I.e his profile has been blocked from the United Kingdom. We do find this move by Facebook rather peculiar as 1. we’re not British citizens or even residents and 2. why has he been given this rather suspicious preferential treatment? Did we touch a sore nerve. Mr Henning has also taken the rather unusual step of removing this image or at least concealing it amidst his other nauseating images that Facebook’s administration platform seems to be protecting.

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Kalahri’s Historian on hunting and Animal Rights stated: 

Trophy hunting is the most controversial aspect of hunting for opponents of hunting, who argue that modern economics or vegetarianism should eliminate the need for most killing of animals, if not animal domestication entirely.

They see such killing as an issue of morality, citing British fox hunting as an especially inhumane “blood sport.”
Hunting in North America in the 1800s was done primarily as a way to supplement food supplies. The safari method of hunting was a development of sport hunting that saw elaborate travel in Africa, India and other places in pursuit of trophies. In modern times, trophy hunting persists, but is frowned upon by some when it involves rare or endangered species of animal. Other people also object to trophy hunting in general because it is seen as a senseless act of killing another living thing for recreation, rather than food.

In all due respects Henning and Kalahari are nothing more than a CON in Conservation.

Africa holds the largest custodian of lions in the world. However their populations are dwindling quite rapidly. To date and based on the most recent up to date International Union for the Conservation of Natures report a population count of some 30,000 lions remain in the wild. Listed as vulnerable and nearing endangered they remain the second species within the big five that’s populations are actually declining. Central African elephant “populations” could be considered within this count too however based on census reports elephant populations within the central African republic are known to be “endangered” as a population not as an entire species.

The African lions main threat is that of habitat destruction and human species conflict with some reports of “unregulated hunting” as being problematic mostly within Tanzania. However while the IUCN lists certain dangers regarding the lion such as habitat destruction, persecution and unregulated hunting they fail to list the dramatic decrease of male African lions that are required within the prides to keep species intact. Continued hunting of males lion or even female lionesses will eventually have an adverse effect onto lion populations thus pushing this species into the realms of endangerment.

Environmental News and Media has duly noted from 2011 to 2014 a stark increase of eastern and southern European hunters visiting Africa to hunt the big five. Increases from Ukraine, Russia, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Bosnia and Turkey have been noted. More worrying are increasing numbers of trophy hunters such as Jacine Jadreško from Croatia (pictured below).

Jacine Jadreško

Croatian, Albanian, Russian, Czech Republic and Polish trophy hunters are second to that of American hunters with British hunters slowly creeping up. While sport hunting is not currently considered a major threat to the species, habitat loss, a lack of prey and increasing conflict with humans are to blame for the decline in the numbers of African lions, whose numbers have dropped by two-thirds since the 1980s, according to  2014 USDA report. There were 76,000 lions in Africa in 1980, but that number has declined to about 30,000 today.

Zambia has since lifted the ban on hunting lions and cheetahs. The ban wasn’t lifted because lion and cheetah species populations began increasing but more for sustainable wildlife projects. In other words while the ban on hunting was in place funding to secure wildlife from poaching just didn’t hit the target – so – therefore Zambia has limited the ban to generate funding to preserve its natural wildlife.

A Con or practical thinking?

Environmental News and Media’s External Affairs Investigations Dept noted a stark and worrying increase of youth hunters to the continent too. Most African countries hold certain rules in place the forbid a minor under the age of sixteen from carrying or even shooting a loaded rifle. As one can see in the case below this is not so. From Howick, Kwazulu-Natal laws are being flouted daily.

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Con or gun conservation?

A further worrying trend were witnessing in South Africa are tiger farms springing up everywhere in the Eastern Cape – for the gun. From 2012 to 2014 Environmental News and Media recorded a total of 63 tiger farms in the Eastern Cape. Since 2012 a further 21 have been established. Tigers are listed as critically endangered – yet are bred and for the gun.

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One of the world’s largest and most iconic predators may soon go extinct in the wild – yet in South Africa the species are being bred for for the bloody gun!

Amid all the fuss over global warming and alternative energy, the continued loss of biodiversity is being largely overlooked and forgotten. And the trend may claim its highest profile victim to date in just a couple decades, say conservation groups. For at least a million years tigers have roamed the forests and jungles of Asia, ruling the top of the food chain. But today Tigers are facing a final bow from the world they once ruled as their habitats have been destroyed and their numbers slashed by poaching.

At the start of the twentieth century there were an estimated 100,000 tigers. Over the course of the last century those numbers shrank and several subspecies — the Bali, Javan, and Caspian Tigers — went extinct.

The WWF has released a new report estimating that there are now only 3,200 tigers left in the wild in India, Southeast Asia, Russia, and China. They estimate that within a generation tigers will become extinct in the wild, if drastic action is not taken to conserve them.

Sybille Klenzendorf, director of the WWF-US species conservation program comments, “There is a real threat of losing this magnificent animal forever in our lifetime. This would be like losing the stars in the sky. Three tiger subspecies have gone extinct, and another, the South China tiger, has not been seen in the wild in 25 years.”

World Bank, a multinational financial institution that provides loans to developing countries, is partnering with the WWF in a push to save the beasts.

Keshav S. Varma, program director of the World Bank’s Global Tiger Initiative comments, “Unless we really crack down on illegal trade and poachers, tigers in the wild have very little chance. If the tigers disappear, it is an indication of a comprehensive failure. It’s not just about tigers. If you save the tiger, you are going to save other species. It provides an excellent indicator of commitment to biodiversity. If they survive, it shows we are doing our job right. If they disappear, it shows we are just talking.”

Despite the fact that so few tigers remain, demand for their body parts is at an all time high on the Asian black markets. Crawford Allan, director of TRAFFIC-North America, which monitors the trade in wildlife, comments, “The demand for bones and skin, meat, and even claws and teeth … is driving a major crime campaign to wipe tigers out in the wild.”

Lixin Huang, president of the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine has teamed with the WWF to try to fight Chinese natives from using tiger parts in their traditional remedies. States Huang, “Traditional Chinese medicine does not need tiger bones to save lives. What we are dealing with is an old tradition, an old belief that tiger wine can make their bones stronger. That is not medicine, that is from old tradition.”

The WWF’s ambitious goal is to try to get the tiger population doubled to 6,400 tigers in the wild by 2022. To do that, they say they will need $13M USD a year and cooperation from the governments of Bangladesh, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Russia, the United States, Vietnam, and the Greater Mekong region, which stretches across Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

Nearing extinction in the wild – Bred in captivity in South Africa for the gun.

Hardly Conservation is it?