wildlife conservation

An open letter to Taylor

Please reblog in hopes that she sees this :)
Dear Taylor,
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU so much for donating the proceeds of wildest dreams to the conservation effort in Africa. Not only did you showcase Africa’s amazing wildlife and national landmarks–you did so in a way that made them as beautiful and as fragile as the love story you told. Everyday the ivory plight of rhinos and elephants intensities whilst poachers sneak into protected lands and kill and steal animals either for game or the underground trade. It is a issue near and dear to people like me, people who tend to spend more time hiking the woods and looking for solutions to global conservation problems.
I respect you for making a difference in the music industry, which is your passion and life-work. I also respect you for helping make a difference in the wildlife management industry that I (and countless others) have dedicated our lives too.
taylorswift this music video was beyond my wildest dreams and I hope you know how much this means to me and countless others.

All my love,
Sarah

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Astonishing bravery of boy who risked his life to save baby deer in Bangladesh river by holding it above raging floodwaters

  • Boy called Belal defiantly held the young fawn in one hand above his head
  • Onlookers were unsure whether the boy was going to appear again
  • When he made it to the other side the locals cheered
  • Teenager jumped into river in Noakhali, Bangladesh to save animal

A brave boy fearlessly risked his own life and showed astonishing bravery to save a helpless baby deer from drowning. 

The boy, called Belal and believed to be in his early teens, defiantly held the young fawn in one hand above his head as he plunged through the surging river.

During the ordeal onlookers were unsure whether the boy was going to appear again.

When he finally made it to the other side the locals cheered as the deer was reunited with its family. 

The incident took place in Noakhali, Bangladesh, when the young fawn became separated from its family during torrential rain and fast-rising floods.

Wildlife photographer Hasibul Wahab captured the brave act while visiting on a photography trip.

He said the Noakhali locals lose a lot of deer during the rainy season and that they have to do all they can to protect them.

He said: ‘He was such a brave boy - the river was so full of water and it was high tide so we thought he might drown.

'My friend was even ready to jump into the river to save the boy. But he made it, and when he returned, we thanked the boy.

'There were only five to seven people observe this situation but it was a phenomenal sight.’

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Wildlife corridors

Habitat fragmentation is a major contributor to human-wildlife conflict. Small “islands” of habitat often don’t have the carrying capacity for the animals that are forced to depend on it, which leads them to wander out into human settlements in search of food. Also, in the case of migratory species, when their migration routes are broken up by man-made structures the species will often continue on these routes, and in doing so, come in contact with humans, cars, homes, and farms.

What’s the solution? The real solution is to account for habitat connectivity when planning on where to put villages, farms, roads, and whatever else. But, this future planning can’t help the places where fragmentation is already a problem. For habitat that is already fragmented, one method is to “unfragment” it. Enter wildlife corridors. Wildlife corridors connect patches of habitat. They can be overpasses, underpasses, swaths of land, backyards etc. In most papers their main purpose is stated as aiding in dispersal and genetic exchange between populations. However, an added perk is that increasing habitat connectivity decreases the need for animals to leave their habitat in the first place, thusly decreasing conflict. Designing these corridors is no small feat though. Their design takes careful planning and a thorough understanding of the target species and their movement patterns. Luckily, there are people out there who devote their time to making these corridors happen: 

A Maasai group ranch recently leased some of their land to be designated as a corridor for elephants in Kenya; Panthera has their huge Jaguar Corridor Initiative where they are trying to connect jaguar ranges throughout South America; and a corridor is being planned in California across route 101. And of course there are the hugely successful corridors that have already been trod upon by many paws and hooves. Banff National Park has an overpass and underpass, both shown above (2nd and 3rd pics). In Kenya, a highway underpass as reunited two herds of elephants (bottom picture). There is also the China-Russia Tiger Corridor, established in 2012 for the highly endangered Amur Tiger! 

Image sources HERE, HERE, and HERE.

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Mitch Gobel

Mitch Gobel is a 24 year old artist from Australia. He specializes in abstract, captivating, and vast masterpieces using his own unique resin, or liquid glass, technique. He was inspired to begin creating art by the work of Miertje Skidmore and Kelly Lanphier.

Mitch is the founder of a small team of wildlife conservation activists, under the moniker The Vision Project. The money he’s made from selling his art has gone to this cause, and Mitch and his team continue to be invested in making change.

Keep reading

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Schoolboy, eight, forms special relationship with colony of alpine marmots

They are notoriously shy around humans, beating their tails and chattering their teeth to try to warn us off before emitting loud whistles to tell other members of their colony to flee.

But when these alpine marmots see Matteo Walch, they scuttle to his side and show him nothing but affection.

The eight-year-old built up a remarkable relationship with the creatures since first being taken to see them by his nature-loving family four years ago.

The family return to visit the colony in Groslocker in the Austrian Alps for two weeks every year.

Matteo’s father Michaela, said: ‘Their friendship has lasted for more than four years now.

'He loves those animals and they are not at all afraid of Matteo because he has a feeling towards them and they understand that.

‘We go there every year now for two weeks - it’s amazing to watch the connection between a boy and his animal friends.’

Marmots stand at around 18cm tall and reach up to 50cm in length.Michaela, a schoolteacher from Innsbruck, Austria, has uniquely captured the unique bond between Matteo and his marmot friends throughout the past four years.

He said: 'I could spend hours watching animals - it gives me a connection with nature and its life forms.

'It’s great that I have been able to document the marmot’s natural behaviour around Matteo without making them afraid of me and my equipment.

'I wanted to capture the animals exactly the way I see them - the way they behave among each other, in harmony with their surroundings.’

It is clear from the pictures that Matteo and the marmots are totally comfortable in each other’s company.

Michaela, 46, said: 'The picture of a curious animal approaching me is a thousand times more beautiful than the picture of any animal looking at me in fear before it takes flight.

'This is how I try to picture the proudest, more beautiful and also the funniest moments, giving others the opportunity to enjoy the miraculous world of animals.’

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Whiskers

[part 2 of series]

Cat Whiskers

The second part of Wildlife Wednesdays’ series about whiskers and their purpose is dedicated to cat whiskers, as cats are a major group of animals with cute whiskers.

Before we move on to details, let’s recap what purpose whiskers serve usually: whiskers are very thick hairs which help animals feel their way around; they are touch receptors and some animals can move them. The active movement of the whiskers is called whisking. Whiskers and whisking can be different types, depending on location and specific purpose.

Different cat species can have a number of different kinds of whiskers and they usually look very exquisitte, as you can see in the pictures above. Typically, cat whiskers serve the same purposes as whiskes in other animals. One of the most important qualities of cat whiskers is how sensitive they are. The reason for that is that they are deeply embedded in the cat’s snout - in a part called the whisker pad - and are connected to the muscle and nervous system, allowing for faster and easier transfer of signals.

Whiskers help cats with:

  • having a more accurate and strong sense of their surroundings
  • feeling vibrations in the air
  • having a sense of where their body parts are, having a better sense of coordination
  • making their way in the dark
  • figuring out if they will fit through an opening
  • visually measuring distance
  • expressing their mood

Sometimes you can tell a cat’s mood by the way its whiskers are positioned. Whiskers poiting forward usually means excitement or aggression, while whiskers flat against the face can mean that the cat is scared.

Whiskers should never be cut or trimmed. Not even a bit. Cats can become highly disoriented and scared without their whiskers, and you already learned why.

[sources]

Stay tuned for more posts about whiskers and their specific purposes in a number of animals! Follow wildlifewednesdays, like us on Facebook, and reblog our posts to help the site grow. Feel free to send in questions!
Illustrations by Yesua Jeon.

Congo Monkey Spotted Decades After Species’ Alleged Demise

Welcome back, Bouvier’s red colobus monkey. It’s been a while.

The African primate hasn’t been seen since the 1970s and was assumed to have become extinct.

But, in a statement released late last week, the Wildlife Conservation Society says two primatologists working in the forests of the Republic of Congo were successful in a quest begun in February to confirm reports that Bouvier’s is still out there. They returned with a first-ever snapshot of a mother and infant.

“Our photos are the world’s first and confirm that the species is not extinct,” Lieven Devreese, one of the field researchers, was quoted in the WCS statement as saying.

Continue Reading.

Asiatic lion population up 27% to 523

The number of Asiatic Lions at Gir - the only habitat to the endangered species in the World, has increased to 523 showing a growth of 27% from 411 estimated in 2010 Census. As per the 14th Lion Census 2015 conducted during May 2 to May 5, the number of female lion is double the number of male lions, the Gujarat Chief minister Anandiben Patel announced here on Sunday. 

[Read Full Story Here]

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The terrible fate of Raja the baby elephant, chained and held hostage by an angry mob: An image that will haunt you and a story that will enrage you

  • In this shocking expose the Duchess of Cornwall’s brother reveals how baby elephant Raja was shockingly mistreated as he was kept captive in Sumatra. Following the deforestation of the land to produce palm oil, elephants have been forced to live with humans, destroying farms, flattening houses and sometimes killing people. Villagers took Raja, and demanded compensation after his family ruined crops in the area.

In all the 30 years I have been working in Asian elephant conservation, I thought I had seen it all – blatant corruption, the rape and total disregard of our beautiful planet and sickening wildlife atrocities, to name but a few. All due to the most dangerous animal of all: homo sapiens.

Not much shocks me any more, but something happened in recent weeks that shook me to the core when the charity Elephant Family and the Ecologist Film Unit set out to document the environmental genocide that is out of control on the island of Sumatra,  Indonesia.

Sumatra is special to me because I spent a lot of time there on expeditions when I was younger. It was a paradise – vast pristine forests, intact coral reefs and abundant wildlife.

All this has changed now and their elephants are the most endangered on the planet. In a single generation, the population has been cut in half, with countless other animals disappearing at breakneck speed.

During the filming, a helpless, emaciated baby male elephant called Raja, who was barely a year old, was found in a village, shackled with heavy chains to a tree. He had been taken hostage by the villagers, who were demanding compensation from the Sumatran  government for the damage his family had done to their crops.

Can you believe that we are now  living in a world where people are actually holding baby elephants to ransom? It is almost unthinkable. But just look at the photographs – look at Raja, as he strains against his chains, waving his little trunk for food and reassurance. He is bellowing in desperation for his mother.

have heard that sound of distressed calves many times in my life. It never fails to haunt me. But it is his eyes that haunt me more than anything – pleading for help – innocent, desperate and helpless.

A war is being waged across Asia. In the face of relentless deforestation, elephants are being forced out of their natural habitats and they have no choice but to share their living space with humans. As the elephants’ forest home is destroyed, stressed and starving herds flee from the chainsaws straight into villages.

They demolish everything in sight, trampling crops, flattening houses and often killing people. Frankly, you really cannot blame the villagers for taking such drastic steps in the sheer desperation to survive and feed their own families.

Capturing a baby elephant and holding it to ransom is grisly and depressing, but it is reality as humans and elephants fight for space.

People need to know why this is  happening. They need to understand what is driving this madness.

The cause is an innocently named product called palm oil. It’s a constituent part of almost everything that we use and consume – biscuits, margarine, ice cream, soap, shampoo. The list is endless.

And the blame lies firmly with the greed of the large corporations in the East that produce it as a cash crop to fuel the insatiable consumerism of the Western world. 

The thirst for palm oil is apparently unquenchable and its cultivation is  ripping out the last great rainforests.

Although forest destruction and its lethal impact on endangered species are plain to see, palm oil is practically an invisible ingredient, listed under the generic term ‘vegetable oil’.

April, Duta Palma, Sinar Mas and Sime Darby may not be household names, but these are just some of  the companies producing palm oil in Indonesia and selling it on to the  market for about £500 per ton.

L’Occitane, Ferrero, Cadbury, Ginster’s pasties, Clover margarine, Pringles, Kellogg’s, Haribo, Nestlé and Mars are just a few of the more familiar names of those that use palm oil.

All the major supermarkets use palm oil in their own-brand products. Some are better than others in getting palm oil from responsible sources, but the point is that it is everywhere and in everything. It is a silent assassin. Not until 2014 will there be a legal requirement for manufacturers to label palm oil on their products.

And, to make matters worse, the only certification body to monitor the production of so-called ‘sustainable’ palm oil is immensely flawed. Consumer industries are hiding behind a fallacy.

The verdant rainforest of Aceh in North Sumatra is one of the largest left in South-East Asia. It is the only place in the world where elephants, tigers, orang-utans and rhinos all still live together – a real life Jungle Book.

But, right now, the Aceh government is close to adopting a plan that would see hundreds of thousands of hectares of this forest opened up for the cultivation of palm oil. This ironically titled ‘Spatial Plan’ is nothing more than a deforestation plan – an extinction plan, seeking to legitimise the illegal felling that is already happening.

Environmentalists agree that we need to protect about 65 per cent of Aceh’s forest if we are to save its biodiversity. The government plan would allow for only 45 per cent to be protected – that’s a difference of way over a million hectares, or more than a million football pitches. The result would be a death blow for wildlife.

Not only will these iconic species be pushed to extinction, the local communities that rely on this forest will be even more exposed to natural disasters. Devastating landslides have already washed away buildings, including entire schools.

They will become unrelenting and vast areas of land will flood.

Wildlife will be forced into ever greater conflict with people, and elephants like Raja won’t stand a chance.

Sadly for him, it is too late. He died alone, still chained to that tree, though Elephant Family worked tirelessly for a week to negotiate his release.

Already we’ve discovered that another calf, this one just a month old, has been captured and held to ransom by local farmers. Everyone is working around the clock to make sure that this little calf survives. I am doubtful.

But in the grander scheme of things there is hope. If there wasn’t hope, I would have packed up my bags a long time ago.

If we can protect these forests and stop the new plan in Aceh from going ahead, then we’re taking a giant step in the right direction.

Hundreds of supporters have already written to the Aceh government  urging them to stop destroying their forests. But we need help. We need everyone to write.

Increased knowledge of palm oil and compulsory labelling will finally allow shoppers to make informed choices about what they buy. We need to push food manufacturers and retailers to support a transformation of the industry towards genuine sustainable palm oil, and we need to do it quickly.

know for a fact that there is a truly powerful will to save these forests and these animals.

On July 9 in London, Elephant Family are holding a magnificent masked Animal Ball to raise urgently needed funds that will help us continue our work in Sumatra and across Asia. More than 600 guests are attending in support.

I know I should be excited about the ball. In many ways I am, because of the great opportunity it presents for conservation, but on the night I know that I will not be able to get Raja and others like him out of my mind.

The Asian elephant barely ever makes the headlines but this is one of the greatest wildlife stories of our time. We are close to losing one of the most enigmatic, iconic and ecologically vital species on the planet. The clock is ticking.  

Please help us save Sumatra’s  elephants by contributing to the Raja Fund at elephantfamily.org.

adoptpets: Boycott Palm oil! http://www.saynotopalmoil.com/palm-oil.php

India’s Tigers May Be Rebounding, in Rare Success for Endangered Species

More money has been spent on tiger conservation than on preserving any other species in the world, yet wildlife biologists have been seemingly unable to stop the decline of the iconic big cat in the face of poaching and habitat loss.

That appeared to change Tuesday, when the government of India—the country is home to most of the world’s wild tigers—announced preliminary results of the latest tiger census that reveal a surge in the number of the big cats in its preserves over the past seven years.

India’s environment minister, Prakash Javadekar, announced that its scientists had counted 2,226 wild tigers in the country, up from 1,411 seven years ago, a rise of nearly 58 percent. The country now hosts about 70 percent of the world’s wild tigers, Javadekar said, calling the increase “a great achievement … the result of the combined efforts of passionate officers, forest guards, and community participation.”

Continue Reading.

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Wish you could see a Komodo dragon (V. komodoensis) up close and personal? Photographer Shannon Plummer captures this amazing series (and more!) in her stunning portfolio based on Indonesian wildlife. 

Fun fact: With the use of its hypersensitive forked tongue and directionally inclined Jacobson’s organ, this voracious predator can accurately recognize airborne molecules to decipher both the existence and the direction of its aromatic prey.