The mighty jaguar is facing a poaching crisis as so many other big cats have. Growing numbers of these magnificent animals of Latin America are being poached and their body parts sold in a country that shows at least 50% of the population lives below the poverty line. With poverty comes the need to survive any way they can and wildlife becomes the target of ready cash. It doesn't help that the country has a president that cares little for the wildlife. The jaguar is a symbol national identity and yet is vulnerable to exploitation in an ever increasing human population where people just don't have the luxury of caring about the wild and the creatures in it. In a place where one poached jaguar is worth the same as 20Kg of gold it's not hard to understand the motivation to hunt and kill them which is a desperately sad situation.
In the aftermath of Corona Pangolins the most trafficked animal on the planet could just be getting a desperately needed lifeline. In 2020 the list of approved medicines that has included Pangolins for the past 10 years is not listed. These animals now have a Class 1 rating which is the same as the much loved Panda. The origins of Corona virus still seems to be the wet markets of China where so many wild animals including Pangolins are sold for food. Pangolins could just get the benefit of being the suspect of the outbreak in the minds of a lot of Chinese people who previously would've eaten their meat or used the scales. If it means these defenseless creatures get a chance to live without persecution and probable extinction it can only be a good thing.
It's not surprising that some of the greatest human minds such as the late Stephen Hawking believe humanity will destroy itself with greed ignorance and stupidity. Personally I've felt this conviction for decades. The idea that the earth has unlimited resources and that we can keep taking from it and killing the animals within it forever without paying the ultimate price is incredibly stupid. Our planet is our home a precious wonderland that was once filled with so much of beauty, a magical universe of diverse animal and plant life that is now under increasing threat of total destruction. This world can't go on indefinitely and survive without humanity making some effort to value what we have and look after it. Greed is killing our own existence as we pillage and plunder whatever the nature can supply as if we don't need it, that it's only use is to make money or exploit in in some way. But we are wrong. The air we breathe the water we drink the rainforests the oceans every bit of it is part of a whole that enables us to survive. Without it we will perish and sadly it seems perhaps too late already.
There can be no better time to address the awful trade in wild animals for human consumption than now. As the world is reeling from the effects of Corona we all need to take action to stop the unacceptable trade that devastates wild species to the point of extinction and leads to potential pandemics. When we get over Corona what else will loom on the horizon as a result of continuing to plunder the wild for food.
As the Corona pandemic spreads relentlessly around the world Jane Goodall speaks about the causes. The way we have used the environment and the animals in it exploiting natural resources leaving wildlife with less and less has caused what I would describe as a day of reckoning. This pandemic is as a result of our own activities and what conservationist biologists and naturalists have been warning about for decades. The harvesting of wild animals and the slaughtering of them in open wet markets of Asia must be stopped for the good of not just mankind but the earths beautiful wild animals as well.
Amid the Corona pandemic we have news that should concern all of us who care deeply about big cats and their survival. At a zoo in Bronx a Malayan tiger now extinct in the wild has been found positive to the virus. That this virus can now be considered able to jump from human to big cat is a very worrying scenario. At a time when big cats are struggling to survive this is potentially devastating. How could it be controlled once it got into the wild ? It couldn't.
In all the gloom around the horrifying rate of extinctions it's nice to get some good news. Probably the most high profile animal is the tiger that faced almost certain extinction prior to protections being put in place in the mid 20th century. That doesn't mean they aren't threatened. New threats replace old ones for the tiger such as the illegal logging that not only destroys habitat but allows access into the forests for vehicles and people. Constant vigilance is needed to protect all the vulnerable creatures and we can make a difference if we care enough to act to save them.
After the devastating bushfires of December 2019 there is something to celebrate. Some of the rescued koalas have just been returned to the wild following rain that has brought growth to the trees. Three males and five females of which 4 were carrying joeys were rescued and taken into care. The radio collars the animals were wearing made it possible to find them prior to the fires and get them out to safety. Tracking their movements from now will provide better understanding on how they adapt to their environment following the fires and to plan for a future that will almost certainly mean more fire events as the climate warms.
The mass poisoning of 1000 Hooded vultures in Guines-Bassiau Africa is a tragedy. These birds are already critically endangered due mostly to deliberate poisoning or accidental from strychnine used to kill other animals that provide the carcasses they feed on. The area where the birds have been killed in in political turmoil so it's hardly surprising efforts to control this situation is almost impossible. These birds are a vital part of the African landscape but it seems they are arrive at the carcasses of poached animals very quickly which alerts authorities so they become a target of extermination. These amazing great birds have a vital role to play in a healthy eco system cleaning up waste. Yet another example of what seems almost like a war on wildlife.
Australian women are making a carving a name for themselves making amazing documentaries to highlight the plight of wildlife and the wonders we risk losing unless humanity takes action now. Women such as Valerie Taylor who helped change our perception about sharks making documentaries with her husband Ron for decades. It seems appropriate that we celebrate these amazing women for what they are contributing in terms of showing us the plight of wildlife and our oceans that are facing ever increasing struggles to survive. It's International Womens Day Sunday 8th a time to reflect on the achievements of women passionate about wildlife and our environment.
The trade in wild animals poached from the wild is an enormous problem and a very lucrative one that must be addressed if the planet is to have any hope of ensuring the survival of the wild for the future. Primates are taken for food the pet trade and entertainment. That a live african primate can fetch between 1 and 8 million on the international market gives some indication of the scale of the monetary gains made in the trade. It is estimated that as many as 150,000 primates are poached from Nigeria and Cameroon every year as bushmeat. It's a shocking statistic that can leave no doubt that these species are under extreme threat.
There can be no doubt that the trade in wild animals is disasterous for the environment but it's a threat to human health too. The recent outbreak of coronavirus proves that without a doubt. How can centuries of cultural beliefs and ways of surviving be changed soon enough to save so many species of almost certain extinction is the question. It's in the hands of a younger more progressive generation with more awareness of the world around them, that they may reject the old traditional ways of their culture particularly in Asia. Young people who are connected to social media in a way never before exposed to information about the wild and it's creatures are I think our only hope that the demand may decrease. But it will take time that the wild animals don't have on their side. With human populations exploding around the globe what hope is there for nature.
In a groundbreaking move two captive bred cheetah brothers are to be sent to Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve South Africa in a move to rewild the 14,000 hectare area in Karoo. What an amazing thing to watch unfold, how these two animals will adjust to living as wild creatures. At 2.5 years of age they will have a lot to learn but will first go to Ashia's Cheetah Centre in South Africa's western cape before going to a wild life. The aim is to rewild the area and return it to a pristine wildlife wilderness area with the cheetahs playing a pivotal role to boost the numbers of these critically endangered animals. The brothers will leave Canterbury UK where they were born on the 6 Feb 2020 for their new life as wild cats and I wish them well and hope they thrive.
The trade in exotic animals in China has led to a coronavirus outbreak with a death toll of 17 and the probability of more in Wuhan province.These poor animals, not just endangered wildlife such as pangolins but foxes, rabbits, badgers, rats and snakes are kept in dreadful conditions and crowded conditions that harbour and cause the spread of disease to humans. The spotlight is well and truly being shone on the barbaric unacceptable way wild animals are being harvested without any regard to the potential dangers this practice poses for humans. Hardly surprising that a virulent disease has jumped the species barrier to humans but it should make this countries decision makers take decisive action to stop the awful impact this pillaging of wildlife has on biodiversity and the environment as a whole.
China produced a staggering 60 million tonnes of plastic waste in 2010 so it's about time the country started to do something for the planet by dealing with it's problem. In a major move to address their waste issue the country announced a total ban on non degradable bags by the end of 2020 in the cities. As one of the worlds largest users of plastic they have a huge responsibility to address the problem for the sake of the world. Single use straws will also be banned by 2020. China has also been the biggest user of illegally obtained wood that contributes to the devastation of important habitats for animals. The amendment of laws is underway to address this crisis which sounds very promising but long overdue.
As Australia burns in the grip of one of the most catastrophic fire seasons ever the devastation not only affects people and their communities. Animals, many millions of them are dying in the face of one of the worst events to hit this country. Even if the wildlife survive the country is burned beyond recognition leaving food sources razed to the ground so that many will probably die of starvation. Many threatened species will disappear altogether in the wake of this disaster scientists predict and it's not hard to dispute given how widespread the fires have become. The fires have claimed countless lives already and the threat is far from over. This dreadful situation is of course being linked to climate change that so far our government has offered no adequate response to. What will it take before something meaningful is announced, how many more millions of burning animals, people and environment ?
A rare Amur leopard has been filmed by an intrepid Korean photographer in it's natural habitat in Far East Russia. With less than 100 of these striking and very beautiful cats left in the wild every sighting is something to be treasured. The male leopard looks to be in good condition as it cautiously investigates the area around where the photographer is hidden in his hide. Thanks to the efforts of Russia to protect these magnificent cats.
Any good news about wildlife is worth sharing and particularly if the entire population of an animal is less than 100 individuals. Camera traps have recorded new Javan rhino calves boosting their numbers to 72 which is incredibly encouraging. Poaching and habitat loss have created a critically endangered situation for these remarkable animals that now exist only in Ujong Kulon National Park on the island of Java. These precious babies offer hope for a species on the edge of extinction.
For a change something good to report from the US that California has moved to ban all fur products. The governor of the state has also signed a bill banning most animals from circuses except cats dogs and horses excluding rodeos. This is progress and must be seen as a forward step in protecting animals whose fur has traditionally been used in everything from clothing to furniture. We simply do not need to use real fur taken from an animal that has been killed for the purpose. What is wrong with faux fur anyway ? By 2023 it's official and heavy fines will apply to those breaking the law.
Our garbage covers beaches and fills the oceans strangling the creatures that live in the sea. Everything from seals to turtles and whales. As if it wasn't bad enough that our waste is metres deep on land floating island of plastic rope and discarded fishing lines are responsible for countless animals dying slow painful deaths as they struggle to survive against the terrible weight around their necks cutting into their skins. Humanity should be ashamed.
The greatest risk to planet earth is humans. Biodiversity and the survival of every living creature is at risk from the human animal that at 7 billion is showing no sign of abating. Climate change and the growing list of extinctions of not just animals but birds plants and fish are the outcome of our greed and rampant population that seems out of control. Unless something is done about our population it doesn't seem to matter what we do to save animals there seems no hope. All the efforts by biologist and science studying environmental factors rescuing animals trying to safeguard areas for animals to live isn't going to work if humans just keep multiplying. And yet I never hear of anyone with an idea of actually addressing this obvious issue.
How can it be in this day and age of huge concern over the ability of wildlife to survive in the face of human population growth that a magpie can be shot because it swooped a cyclist ? Magpies are synonymous with the Australian urban landscape and we all love them I thought. Apparently not everyone after a cyclist complained to a Sydney council after being swooped by an aggressive one. It is known that they are very territorial at breeding time so surely we can make some adjustments. It seems shameful to me that a bird going about it's normal life should pay with it's life because it swooped a cyclist. What is wrong with the people making these decisions anyway ? It's a scary precedent to start 'removing' problem animals in this way which seems so dark ages in thinking. I thought we had moved on from this approach to wildlife and if not then we need to.
The lucrative but illegal trade in exotic pets is of epidemic proportions and leading almost certainly to the demise of some species. The cheetah is a highly prized animal in the illegal pet trade and at great risk of extinction anyway but the trade in these animals is driving them to the brink. Taken from the wild as tiny cubs most don't make it anyway but it doesn't stop the ones making the money. This fastest of all land animals needs to be able to run, to have adequate exercise to be healthy and have the right diet. As a status symbol for wealthy Arabs these animals have a bleak future in captivity without a doubt.
More good news from CITES that the taking of baby elephants from the wild for zoos will be banned. There will be very tight restrictions meaning that the babies can only be taken to captive facilities under 'exceptional circumstances'. This is truly momentous for elephants. Babies taken from their mothers suffer terrible stress and anxiety so it is to be applauded that these bans have been supported.
At the 18th Cites conference in Switzerland a proposal to loosen the restrictions on a ban put in place in 1977 protecting southern white rhinos has been rejected. This ancient species has been and continues to be under immense pressure from poaching of it's horn to service the asian medicine trade despite the understanding that it cures nothing. These iconic African creatures continue to die at the hands of greedy poachers suffering the most agonising death for absolutely no reason at all. We must protect them and never open up or relax any of the laws designed to help them survive.