The latest news on snow leopards is a mixture of good and bad after the ICUN red list has downgraded the animals to a vulnerable status from endangered. With the total population being somewhere around 4000 animals it seems a bad idea to lower the risk of extinction status of these beautiful animals. But it's good news if in fact the reasoning is sound, that the decline in their numbers has slowed justifying the change of status. They are still facing enormous pressures to survive with habitat loss, persecution and the illegal wildlife trade, but there have also been major efforts to help them survive in the bleak environment they inhabit. To see the reversal in their status from endangered is very heartening and shows that with sustained effort a species can be saved from the brink.
What a sad story out of Botswana that a group of around 9 elephant bulls have been electrocuted after knocking down power cabling in their effort to reach water. It's such a graphic example of the conflicts that occur between our interests and those of the animals. To lose so many bulls in one episode is truly tragic especially when we know what a devastating impact poaching is having on their populations. It's a very very sad loss.
It must be one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken to save a species. Rhinos Without Borders aims to move 100 rhinos from unsafe areas of South Africa to safe havens in Botswana, by helicopter. The cost is a staggering $4.5m but what price to save such vulnerable animals from the grip of a poaching epidemic where these titans of the bush are killed for their horns.That it has come to this drastic measure is a shocking reality of the crisis facing these great big ancient animals that have been on the planet for millions of years. Airlifting is apparently the most effective and least stressful way to move them requiring less sedation and time in transit.
David Shepherd OBE 1931 - 2017
Sad news that David Shepherd has died after a lengthy fight with Parkinsons Disease. I had the immense pleasure of being at the Wildlife Artist of the Year awards this year which was the 10 year anniversary of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. As an artist he achieved a great deal for important conservation and fund raising programs raising awareness of the plight of endangered animals. His foundation contributed a lot of desperately needed money to fight wildlife crime and fund educational programs in Africa and Asia. I salute you David Shepherd for your unwavering convictions and care for the beautiful animals that you loved and painted.
Good news from the Snow Leopard trust that two cubs a male and a female have been discovered in a remote den site in Mongolia. They are an important find for researchers striving to better understand this rare and endangered big cat. So much is unknown about their breeding habits that to find cubs that can be studied and filmed gives valuable insight into the way they live and breed. The more information obtained the better chance conservationists have of protecting this beautiful animal that is so at risk.
Hippos must rank as one of the most formidable animals in Africa and yet a lot of people don't recognise them as a dangerous animal. Huge and unpredictable, tourists often become a victim of the wrath of a territorial hippo and probably didn't realise that the body language was a sure sign the animal was angry. It's not uncommon that a hippo will attack other animals that stray too close to the water edge and even eat parts of the flesh even though they are primarily vegetation eaters. What a strange animal it is, very fast on land and an expert swimmer underwater. I for one would not like to be on the receiving end of this massive beast. Best to show good healthy respect and give them distance !