Category: Conservation


Peek-a-boo: Beautiful moment polar bear and her cub poke their heads out of their den after 8 days

  • Wildlife photographer Christine Haines captured the images after she spent eight days watching the den
  • Patience in the cold was rewarded as cub then mother peeked heads out of the hole in the Wapusk National Park
  • She said cub poked its head out of den for the first time on day seven, while they finally left the den three days later

By James Rush

 

Emerging from its den with its mother, a polar bear cub raises its head above the snow and looks out at the freezing world it calls home.

Wildlife photographer Christine Haines captured the images after she spent eight days watching the den.

Her patience in the biting cold of the Wapusk National Park in Manitoba, Canada, was rewarded when she managed to capture pictures of first a cub, then its mother peeking out of their hole.

Above the snow: A polar bear mother lifts her head above the snow after caring for her cub in their den

Above the snow: A polar bear mother lifts her head above the snow after caring for her cub in their den

Sniffing for danger: The cub's mother also poked her head out of the den before sniffing the air to check for any danger, such as wolves

Sniffing for danger: The cub’s mother also poked her head out of the den before sniffing the air to check for any danger, such as wolves

 

Peek-a-boo! A polar bear cub pokes its head out of its den after a photographer spent eight days waiting at the Wapusk National Park in Manitoba, Canada

Peek-a-boo! A polar bear cub pokes its head out of its den after a photographer spent eight days waiting at the Wapusk National Park in Manitoba, Canada

Read More and view Additional Photos Here

 

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FILE - A Cheetah cub is examined by veterinary staff during a health check in its enclosure at Chester Zoo in northern England, July 31, 2013.

FILE – A Cheetah cub is examined by veterinary staff during a health check in its enclosure at Chester Zoo in northern England, July 31, 2013.

Lisa Bryant

The two-day old kitten Dr. Jean-Yves Routier is examining has a big bandage wrapped around its middle. It was injured at birth, but it will survive.

The fate is less certain for some of the bigger cats the French veterinarian treats. When he is not at his clinic in the Paris suburb of Noisy le Grand, Routier is in Africa. He uses groundbreaking reproductive techniques to boost the numbers of cheetahs, lions and other game animals – and to diversify their gene pool.

The challenge, Routier said, is how to manage what he calls micro-populations – small populations of wild animals that are threatened, some to the verge of extinction. Zoos use artificial insemination and other techniques to induce pregnancy in captive animals. But that, he says, it does not save threatened species in the wild.

In 2002, Routier founded a nongovernmental organization called CRESAM. That stands for Conservation and Reproduction of Endangered Wild Species. He and his international team of highly specialized vets work with about 20 different species of carnivores in France and overseas. Many are big cats like cheetahs, living in private game parks. CRESAM is one of the rare organizations using artificial reproduction techniques outside of zoos.

A video on CRESAM’s website shows Routier shooting a cheetah with a tranquillizer gun. Once down, the vets take blood samples of the animal. They have to work quickly. Within a few minutes, it will be back on its feet.

Cheetahs once roamed large chunks of Africa and Asia. But their numbers have plummeted from about 100,000 a century ago, to only about 7,000 to 15,000 today. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists cheetahs in general as a vulnerable species. Some subspecies are considered critically endangered.  Luke Hunter, president of the global wildcat conservation organization Panthera, said big cats face a basic threat: competing with humans for space.

“The issue becomes the whole suite of threats that humans bring into landscapes in which large cats exist, which includes direct hunting of large cats for their furs or their bones or other things that are considered valuable for certain cultures. [Also] hunting and persecution of cats because they’re considered dangerous, and just wiping out habitats and prey that big cats need,” Hunter stated.

 

Read More Here

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Giraffe in danger after another zoo indicates possible plans to kill

Another giraffe in danger in Denmark

Another giraffe in danger in DenmarkPhoto by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images

 

Penny EimsAnimal News Examiner

February 13, 2014

Another giraffe, ironically named “Marius,” like the giraffe who was killed at Denmark’s Copenhagen Zoo less than a week ago, is in danger of losing his life at a different zoo in Denmark, reported Thursday’s CBS News.

The latest “Marius,” in jeopardy resides at Jyllands Park Zoo, which is also in Denmark.

On Sunday, the first “Marius,” an 18-month-old giraffe, was killed in public because he was considered “surplus,” and his genes were said to be “inferior.”

The Jyllands Park Zoo “Marius” is seven-years-old and he will be killed if the zoo acquires a female giraffe – unfortunately for Marius, the likelihood of a new girl in the zoo is “likely.”

Zoo keeper Janni Lojtved Poulsen explained why Marius might be destroyed:

We can’t have two males and one female. Then there will be fights,”

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Zoo officials kill six lions, including four cubs

Six lions killed at popular zoo in BritainPhoto by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images

A popular wildlife safari park in Britain is on the receiving end of public outcry after word got out that six lions in their care have been destroyed, reported Sunday’s publication of the Daily Mail.

A lion, lioness and four cubs were destroyed at the Longleat Safari Park last month.

Officials at the zoo blame the killings on an increase in pregnancies at the park. On Sunday, the Longleat Safari Park posted this statement on their Facebook page:

In regards to the lions, there has been a large increase in pregnancies, resulting in a 40 per cent increase in population. This has unfortunately resulted in excessive violent behaviour, putting 21 of them at risk.

The park added:

Longleat takes the utmost care in trying to protect the welfare and safety of all our animals.

The explanation has fallen flat with many individuals.

Read More Here

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Outrage as lioness and cubs who were the pride of Longleat are put down leaving staff in tears

  • Henry the lion, Louisa the lioness and four cubs were killed last month
  • Longleat bosses claimed the lions were becoming violent and dangerous
  • Employees wept when they heard what had become of the beloved animals

By Martin Delgado and Nick Constable

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Six lions at Longleat Safari Park have been put down, triggering  outrage among staff who claim there was no obvious reason for the animals to be killed.

An adult male called Henry, a lioness named Louisa and four of her cubs were all put to death last month in an operation supervised by vets.

Bosses at the safari park on the Marquess of Bath’s Wiltshire estate insist the decision was taken because of ‘health risks’ after a population increase led to violent behaviour.

At play: Lions and cubs, left, from the pride that was culled by vets at Longleat, pictured three weeks

At play: Lions and cubs, left, from the pride that was culled by vets at Longleat, pictured three weeks

But former workers in the lion reserve have questioned whether the animals should have been destroyed, and revealed that some employees were in tears when they found out what had happened.

The lions are one of the biggest attractions at Longleat, which opened in 1966 as Britain’s first wildlife safari park.

Read More and Watch Video Here

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Zoo Kills ‘Unwanted’ Giraffe Marius, Feeds Carcass To Lions

Image: Copenhagen Zoo's giraffe Marius Keld navntoft / EPA, file

Copenhagen Zoo’s giraffe Marius seen on Feb. 7.

Copenhagen Zoo said 18-month-old Marius had been euthanized the giraffe to avoid in-breeding

“When breeding success increases it is sometimes necessary to euthanize,” the Scientific Director Bengt Holst said on the zoo’s website, acknowledging the decision has led to a “debate.”

Animal rights campaigners gathered outside the zoo to protest the killing, local media reported.

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Arctic polar bears may be adjusting their eating habits as their sea ice habitat melts and the furry white predators stand to lose the floating platform they depend on to hunt seals, their primary food. According to researchers, however, the bears are displaying flexible eating habits as their world changes around them.

Indeed, scientific studies indicate polar bear populations are falling as the sea ice disappears earlier each spring and forms later in the fall. But a series of papers based on analysis of polar bear poop released over the past several months indicate that at least some of the bears are finding food to eat when they come ashore, ranging from bird eggs and caribou to grass seeds and berries.

“What our results suggest is that polar bears have flexible foraging strategies,” Linda Gormezano, a biologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and a co-author of several of the papers, told NBC News.

Quinoa, a dog, finds polar bear scat

Robert Rockwell / American Museum of Natural History
Quinoa, a Dutch shepherd who was trained to sniff out polar bear scat, sits next to find. Analysis of the polar bear scat reveals the animals have a flexible foraging strategy.

The results stem from research in western Hudson Bay, near Chruchill, Manitoba, Canada, which is in the southern extent of polar bear habitat and serves as a harbinger of what the animals are likely to face throughout their Arctic range as the climate continues to warm and sea ice breaks up earlier and earlier each spring.

The flexible foraging strategy of polar bears “means that there may be more to this picture in terms of how polar bears will adjust to changing ice conditions” than indicated by models based on the spring breakup date of the sea ice and thus their access to seals, Gormezano said.

She added that nobody knows for sure how well polar bears will adapt to the changing food supply, but a big step toward an answer is to study what they eat on land “rather than assume that they may just be fasting.”

Let them eat car parts
In addition to berries, birds and eggs, Andrew Derocher, a University of Alberta polar bear biologist who was not involved with the recent studies, said people have seen a polar bear drink hydraulic fluid as it was drained out of a forklift, chomp the seats of snow machines, and eat lead acid batteries.

“Polar bears will eat anything,” he told NBC News. “The question is: Does is it do them any good? And everything we can see from what bears eat when they are on land is it has a very, very minimal energetic return relative to the cost.”

Gormezano said the plants found in any given pile of poop were usually the same, suggesting the bears eat whatever they find in their immediate surroundings — they don’t spend a lot energy searching for food. Mothers and cubs, who wander farthest inland, feast on berries found there. On the coast, where adult males linger, the poop is predominantly shoreline grass seeds.

Animal remains, however, showed no pattern, which fits with a landscape rich with nesting birds and caribou and polar bears opportunistically eating whatever crosses their path, according to a paper Gormenzano and colleague Robert Rockwell published in BMC Ecology in December 2013.

In a paper published in Polar Biology in May 2013, the researchers report observations of polar bears chasing and capturing snow geese with the efficiency of a skilled hunter — snagging one right after the other.

Polar bear eats a caribou

Robert Rockwell / American Museum of Natural History
A polar bear eats a caribou on land. Recent studies suggest polar bears have a flexible foraging strategy, which help them survive as they come ashore earlier due to melting Arctic sea ice.

“Previously, it had been thought that that would not be a very energetically profitable thing for a polar bear to do because they expend more energy in the chase than they get from consuming the food,” Gormezano noted.

Read More Here

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Science News

After more than a century, the smoothtooth blacktip shark has been rediscovered

smoothtooth blacktip shark

A smoothtooth blacktip shark discovered at a fish market in Kuwait. Image: Dr. Alec Moore

After his 1902 trip to Yemen, scholar and naturalist Wilhelm Hein returned with a variety of plants and animals, which he donated to the Vienna Museum. One of these specimens, a shark, sat unnoticed for more than 80 years. In 1985 it was identified as the first (and only known) specimen of Carcharhinus leiodon, the smoothtooth blacktip shark. Because no others had ever been found by scientists, Alec Moore, regional vice chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Shark Specialist Group’s Indian Ocean group, says that “some suspected it might be extinct or not a valid species.”

In 2008, during a Shark Conservation Society research expedition to Kuwait’s sharq fish market (the name is a coincidence, it means east in Arabic), Moore says that “amongst the many species of whaler shark was one which looked very similar, but different, to a couple of other species.” Later analysis revealed that although this specimen was more than 3,000 kilometers from where Hein caught his, this was a smoothtooth blacktip, the first new individual seen by scientists in over a century.

>>View a slide show of shark species at fish markets

These sharks are currently considered “Vulnerable” to extinction by on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, an assessment that was made before their rediscovery by Dr. Moore and his team. More recent studies in fish markets throughout the region have located 47 additional smoothtooth blacktip sharks, greatly increasing what scientists know about this species with and reported in a 2013 paper in Marine & Freshwater Research. The new study included some of the first data on how large smoothtooth blacktips can grow, how many pups they can bear and their habitat usage as well as other information needed for an effective conservation and management plan in the future.

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AFRICA NEWS

Tanzania halts anti-poaching drive after abuse claims

 

 

 

by Staff Writers
Dar Es Salaam (AFP) Nov 02, 2013


Tanzania has suspended a controversial anti-poaching operation following reports of rampant human rights abuses including the seizure of property, torture and killing of suspects, the speaker of parliament said Saturday.

Police and wildlife officers have cracked down on suspected poachers amid a surge of killings of elephant and rhino in the east African nation, operating under what was reported to be a shoot-to-kill policy and making sweeping arrests.

The campaign, launched two months ago, was dubbed “Operation Tokomeza”, or “Operation Terminate”.

“It is has been necessary for government to suspend the operation indefinitely,” Speaker of Parliament Anne Makinda told AFP Saturday, adding that a probe into the conduct of the campaign would be launched next week.

Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Khamis Kagasheki told parliament Friday the operation would be called off, adding that any member of the security forces found to be involved in acts of torture, theft of property would be punished.

Shortly after the campaign’s launch Kagasheki was widely quoted in Tanzanian media as saying that “rangers are allowed to shoot to kill poachers.”

On Friday, MP John Shibuda said while poachers have badly hit Tanzania’s elephant population, killing the hunters was unacceptable.

“Human life is more valuable than jumbos,” he told parliament.

 

Read More Here

 

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Execute elephant poachers on the spot, Tanzanian minister urges

Khamis Kagasheki says radical shoot-to-kill policy would curb the slaughter of elephants for illicit ivory trade

Elephant walking in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Tanzania, with 70,000-80,000 elephants in 2009, is thought to have nearly one-quarter of all African elephants. Photograph: Joe McDonald/Corbis

A government minister in Tanzania has called for a “shoot-to-kill” policy against poachers in a radical measure to curb the mass slaughter of elephants.

Khamis Kagasheki’s proposal for perpetrators of the illicit ivory trade to be executed “on the spot” divided opinion, with some conservationists backing it as a necessary deterrent but others warning that it would lead to an escalation of violence.

There are already signs of an increasing militarisation of Africa’s wildlife parks with more than 1,000 rangers having been killed while protecting animals over the past decade, according to the Thin Green Line Foundation. Tanzania is said to have lost half its elephants in the past three years.

“Poachers must be harshly punished because they are merciless people who wantonly kill our wildlife and sometimes wardens,” said Kagasheki at the end of an International March for Elephants, which took place in 15 countries to raise awareness of the poaching scourge. “The only way to solve this problem is to execute the killers on the spot.”

 

Read More Here

 

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USGS - science for a changing world

Released: 10/23/2013 12:35:16 PM

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Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communications and Publishing
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr, MS 119
Reston, VA 20192Christine Custer 1-click interview
Phone: (608) 781-6247Marisa Lubeck 1-click interview
Phone: (303) 202-4765

Contamination from commercial products such as nonstick cookware and stain repellents could reduce the reproduction of tree swallows nesting in Minnesota and Wisconsin, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.

USGS scientists and partners found that tree swallow eggs exposed to elevated levels of these products, known as perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), were associated with a decreased chance of hatching. PFASs are common environmental contaminants that have been used in products such as water and stain repellents, nonstick cookware, surfactants such as detergents and wetting agents, and polymers (plastics). The report was recently published in Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.

“Even though PFASs seem to be declining in the environment, hot spots still remain,” said Christine Custer, USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences (UMESC) scientist and lead author of the study. “These high concentrations are localized, however, which fortunately reduces the potential for harm to swallow populations throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin.”

Between 2007 and 2011, scientists compared hatching rates among tree swallow nests located at eight different study locations with different PFAS-contamination levels and sources in Minnesota and Wisconsin, including Lake Johanna and Pigs Eye Lake in the Twin Cities metropolitan area—two areas known for PFAS contamination. They tested an egg sample from each studied nest for PFAS concentrations and compared those results to how well the rest of the eggs hatched.

The USGS-led study suggested that tree swallow hatching rates declined at high PFAS concentrations (as high as 150-200 nanograms per gram of wet weight), which are lower than the concentrations that have affected other bird species in laboratory studies. This difference may be due to behavioral effects or other factors not accounted for in the laboratory studies. It could also mean that tree swallows are especially sensitive to these toxins.

PFASs can enter the environment through contaminated groundwater and surface water runoff from plants that manufacture or use PFAS products, from household waste water that passes through treatment plans, and from airborne chemicals settling on the ground. The Mississippi River downstream of St. Paul, Minn., may have been contaminated by a landfill used to dispose of PFAS-filled waste products.

Because of global exposure to humans and wildlife, selected PFASs were phased out of production starting in 2000.

This study was led by the USGS in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the State University of New York at Albany and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Copies of the report are available by contacting Christine Custer at ccuster@usgs.gov or (608) 781-6247.

For more information on this and other Mississippi River Basin and contaminant-related avian studies, please visit the USGS UMESC website.

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Published on Mar 4, 2013

“Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,” begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And terrifyingly, it’s happening to about two-thirds of the world’s grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes — and his work so far shows — that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more.
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Could cows and sheep halt climate change and tackle rural poverty?

Agriculture is destructive, but doesn’t have to be. Livestock could help tackle climate change, desertification and rural poverty

Desertification in China

A herder leads her sheep in search of grazing grounds in Inner Mongolia, which is fighting severe desertification. Photograph: How Hwee Young/EPA

Holistic management, with its counterintuitive claim that more, rather than fewer, cattle can improve the land, has been around for decades – a kind of perennial cattleman’s quarrel, and a thorn in the hide of ranchers and anti-ranchers alike.

The use of livestock as a tool for restoration has been scoffed at by scientists, reviled by vegetarians and those who blame cows for climate change, and a flashpoint for tension over how to conserve land in the American West.

Reviving grasslands

But that was before Allan Savory, who developed holistic management, won the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge for a programme with “significant potential to solve one of humanity’s most pressing problems.” And before governmental agencies such as USAID and large NGOs like the Nature Conservancy teamed up with the Savory Institute on international projects after seeing the benefits on the ground. And, in an era when one viral video makes the difference between anonymity and renown, before Savory’s TED talk, How to Green the Desert and Reverse Climate Change, flew round the Internet with some 2m views.

At the end of June, I attended the first Savory Institute International Conference, Transforming Landscapes for Global Impact, in Boulder, Colorado. This two-day event, attended by 300 ranchers, scholars and investors from around the world, showed that holistic management is now launched as a global movement – one that’s positioned itself as a vehicle for addressing seemingly intractable problems of climate change, desertification, and rural poverty.

The impetus is to bolster the deployment of holistic planned grazing to revive the grasslands of the world. Grasslands, also known as prairie, savanna, steppes or pampas, represent 40% of the world’s land surface. Much of this land is desertifying, or losing the capacity to sustain life; more than 10m hectares of productive land succumb to desertification every year.

Deploying cows, sheep and yaks to fight desertification

Since I began exploring soil as a crucible for our many overlapping ecological and economic crises – and for solutions – I’ve been intrigued by holistic management’s use of the humble cow, sheep, goat or, more exotically, camel or yak to remake the land. The results are most dramatic on “brittle” landscapes, that are dry much of the year and need to sustain moisture from one rainy season to the next.

Savory’s insight is that grasslands and ungulates evolved together, so that the land needs animals in the same way that animals need the land. All domestic animals have an impact on land; this impact can be positive or negative, depending on how they are managed. Land can be overgrazed but it can also be undergrazed, meaning that it suffers from lack of animal impact.

This notion surprises many people, who assume that leaving land alone is always better. But when, say, cattle are moved in a planned way, their behaviour kickstarts key biological processes that might have stalled, a situation that could lead to desertification.

Read More Here

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