Repopulating the parks in Africa that have been crippled by years of war and civil unrest has become an increasingly common practice to encourage wildlife diversity. Malawi a small country sharing it's borders with Tanzania Mozambique and Zambia recently transferred 9 lions into Liwonde National park to help bring back the populations wiped out by hunting and poaching. In a bid to boost tourism dollars by introducing animals that have long been gone the country hopes to create a wildlife haven to attract tourist all over the world wanting to experience the amazing animals of Africa. The income it generates is enormous and worth cultivating as well as creating a wonderful and balanced environment with top predators. The idea that hunting these animals attracts dollars is a short lived idea. Far better to nurture the living that go on to birth new generations of unique animals.
Do animals feel grief at the loss of their offspring ? I think that they do and there have been many instances of what appears to be grieving when their baby dies. The story of a killer whale off the coast of Vancouver Island carrying the body of her baby for 16 days is a heart rending one that clearly is about loss. It may not be the same as our grief and mourning but still is a sense of loss that the animal is exhibiting without a doubt. Other animals such as elephants have been documented clearly in grief mourning their dead ones, hovering around body nuzzling it and touching gently obviously aware of death. To think that we are the only species capable of grief is impossible to accept.
India is a good example of what can happen when decisions are made to make an effort to conserve the wildlife. Tiger numbers are stabilising with protections and enforcement in place but their survival continues to depend on how human activities such as farming and hunting are managed. Balancing the needs of human populations with the wildlife continues to be a complicated juggling act. Tiger numbers have the capacity to grow if prey species exist however the challenges is dealing with people hunting deer and other tiger prey for food. These prey species are critical for the survival and growth in tiger populations along with the right habitat.
A proposed hunt of up to 22 grizzly bears in Wyoming has been derailed by a determined group led by the likes of Jane Goodall. The group are buying up the tickets in the hope of winning one and enabling a bear to live instead of being shot by a trophy hunter. America seems to be controlled by gun loving animal hunters that appear to believe it's some god given right. It isn't and what they do is wrong on every level. To kill animals that cause no threat just for pleasure is an awful crime against nature. I hope the group is successful in garnering support and awareness of the brutality of trophy hunting.
Eastern quolls have bred on the Australian mainland for the first time in 50 years ! wow how good is that. I love good news wildlife events and this is one of them. So many of Australia's small creatures have been decimated by feral animals such as foxes, cats, wild dogs and the list goes on. Following a reintroduction of 20 captive bred animals in Tasmania into Booderee National Park in NSW there has been successful breeding.
As wildlife traffickers get more devious so must those who fight the miserable trade. Australia is leading with some innovative new ways to determine if an animal is wild caught or captive bred. By studying the nutritional value of the food that has sustained the animal it becomes clear what it's origins are. Since there is a significant loophole in the laws around export of wild species in Australia this new technology will help close the possibility of claims that the animal is captive bred when in fact it has been taken from the wild. The new technology will have major importance further afield in trafficking other species that are at huge risk of being exploited to extinction such as the pangolin in Africa. The huge financial gain for just a single animal is enough to make the traffickers continue to take risks and exploit any weakness in the law so maybe this will make it harder for them.
Sudan the last of his kind a Northern White Rhino male died earlier this year. With only two remaining females left of the entire species the only hope now of preventing the demise of this ancient species is science and technology. It is truly sad that it has to come to this and that we have let it happen and now are madly scrambling through the aid of IVF technology to bring a species back literally from the dead in a test tube. These animals symbolise what could happen to so many other precious animals that walk our planet trying to survive in a world of ballooning human populations, where they are regarded as a commodity or a means to make money and even to fund terrorism. We cast out into space looking for new frontiers, why ? Perhaps we should be using that vast bank of funds to care for and prevent the ultimate end of our precious wild and the animals in it.
Cheetahs are shy and fragile creatures not at all like their more robust cousins such as lions or leopards. They face many challenges to survive especially conflicts and exploitation with humans. Sought after in the Middle East as pets for wealthy Arabs the stolen cubs often die and fail to thrive in captivity. That this beautiful cat is threatened with extinction is indisputable with their population having plummeted to around 4,000 from 100,00 in just 100 years thanks to persecution and loss of habitat. Many of the cubs are killed by other big cats and all cheetahs would rather run away from a conflict than fight simply because they aren't built for it. Their long legs and a body purpose made for legendary speed is their greatest attribute but they also need a huge territory to live in. With expanding human populations this is a great problem for the survival of the Cheetah but the least that can be done is to crack down hard on the traffickers who steal the vulnerable animals from the wild almost assigning them to a certain death.
It's a frightening thought that without bees humanity could only survive about 4 years. That is the prediction made by Sir David Attenborough. These industrious little creatures pollinate and give life to our food sources and without them we would starve and die and yet the statistics of bee populations globally show their numbers have dropped by a third. What has caused this ? Well it's our human activities such as the overuse of pesticides that is largely responsible. Sometimes bees are exhausted and look like they are dying and I know that I have seen them on our deck. David Attenborough suggests that we can revive these little hard working creatures with sugar and water so next time you see one stop and help him out. I know I will.
It shouldn't come as any surprise that the US has more tigers kept in captivity as pets than there are in the wild, almost impossible to count the real numbers since there are no requirements to register them. That it represents a problem is clear I think. So many of these animals kept in roadside zoos for human entertainment are kept in awful conditions and not fed properly leading to health problems because of inadequate exercise and nutrition. America seems to have some general attitude of having the right to do what they want but owning big, essentially wild animals is dangerous self gratification that has very serious implications to the welfare of these beautiful creatures that should only live in the wild.
Despite Wedge-tail Eagles being a protected bird in Australia there still remains misunderstanding about them and continued persecution mainly by farmers who are protecting their livestock from predation The report that 136 of these majestic raptors have been found dead from deliberate poisoning on a farm in the Eastern Gippsland shows that ignorance can be devastating. Communities where sheep are farmed show the greatest incidence of death in the great birds which is very worrying in an age where all of us should be trying to live with nature not annihilate it because it gets in your way. A lot of these birds are blamed for deaths not caused by them which is even more worrying. I hope the people who killed these beautiful kings of the sky will be handed jail time for what is thought to be the worst mass killing of native animals ever seen. As officers comb the area it's thought that there could be more found. What a tragedy.
Long overdue but welcome that finally the US is getting serious about the private ownership of big cats. It wasn't that long ago I read that there are more tigers kept in captivity in the US than there are in the wild which is a truly depressing and sad fact. So much suffering for these magnificent animals that are so unsuitable for confined living. They belong in the wild. It seems incredible to me that laws have not been put in place banning the ownership of big cats long before now so I hope the bill being put forward in the Senate actually comes to fruition. It would mean that no one can own and keep big cats captive without special permits granted only to those who qualify for either educational purposes or can offer them a suitable environment to live in such as a wildlife park. The shocking statistics estimate that upwards of 10,000 big cats like tigers, lions and cougars are kept captive in the U.S. by private owners. The exact number is a mystery because few records are kept. It is inhumane cruel.
Infrastructure and wildlife conflict all too frequently as human populations explode around the planet. India is taking measures to stop the tragic deaths of elephants as they cross rail lines and become victims of speeding trains following the loss of 70 elephants since 2013. When you think about it we have a responsibility to give animals safe passage doing what we can to stop unnecessary deaths. Restricted speed limits have been put into place where there are elephant corridors and ramps are being built to allow the animals a way across the lines safely. Elephants have known routes they follow all their lives that can lead to tragedy as they unwittingly walk straight into disaster so it's up to us to find solutions to this carnage as we surge across and into just about every space on the planet squeezing animals into ever decreasing spaces.
Emerging as a growing threat to wildlife in recent years is the obsession people have with the selfie. The increasingly popular selfie with wild animals creates all kinds of risks to both animals and people who will stop at nothing to get the perfect selfie so they can impress their 'friends'. So shallow to not care anything at all about the welfare of the animal and to put it at risk just for the instant gratification of getting as many likes as possible. Recent news of kangaroos attacking tourists in NSW show the ugly side of feeding wildlife in an attempt to get them closer for a photo. Kangaroos can be dangerous animals that can inflict serious wounds if they are aggravated which has been the case when food has been withdrawn or not given after people have been feeding them. How stupid can these people be I wonder ? Some serious fines need to be handed out to people who ignore signs not to feed wildlife.
Plastic is fast becoming an environmental catastrophe of massive proportions. Tons and tons of it every day dumped into and washing from some of the largest rivers in the world that end up in the ocean. Marine life suffers of that there can be no doubt but we suffer from it too by eating the fish that have ingested small particles of plastics. What can be done to curb the rate of this shocking problem ? For one thing I question the amount of plastic in the packaging of many of the goods and foods that we buy. Why does there have to be so much when there wasn't before ? It's absurd how much has to be cut away layers of it peeled back to actually unpack the item you've bought. Foam food trays covered with plastic wrap sometimes several layers of it. Then there are all the containers of food and drink that once came in glass bottles and the list goes on. We need to start using a lot less of it. Much of the time it's completely unnecessary anyway. Perhaps we as consumers have to start rejecting items with excessive plastic wrapping but ultimately governments of some countries need to address waste control at the very least. Manufacturers also need to be made to use less plastics in the goods they distribute and perhaps the oceans will look less like a tip.
This is the face of the illegal wildlife trade that seems an almost insurmountable problem to overcome. A massive cultural shift is needed to slow it down and eventually manage it but currently it is such a huge problem it is difficult to believe it would ever be eliminated.
There appears to be no limit to how animals are exploited for profit. The growing use and promotion of leopard bones is a worrying trend in China that must be stopped. Lion bones, tiger bones, now leopard being used in wines that are promoted as a tonic for all sorts of stupid beliefs that have absolutely no basis in fact, it's all just myth and nonsense. When will some of these countries so something serious to end the suffering and plundering of wildlife ? Only a total ban on the importing and exporting of body parts is good enough.
African wild dogs are endangered in many countries within Africa due to persecution snaring and habitat loss. In a remarkable effort these amazing highly intelligent animals have been part of a reintroduction program to reestablish their species in Mozambique after decades of absence. One of Africas most successful predators the large packs that once existed have been shrinking but in war ravaged countries like Mozambique these wonderful animals have disappeared altogether. It is so encouraging to know that efforts to reintroduce animals at risk of extinction are being made.
The rarest cat in the world probably is the Amur leopard and certainly it is one of the most beautiful. That these magnificent animals are making a comeback is genuine cause for celebration considering that their numbers plummeted to around 30 not that long ago proving that conservation efforts are making a tremendous difference. This amazing big cat is without a doubt truly a wonder of nature with it's gorgeous patterned dense coat and extraordinary long tail. Living in some of the most hostile environments on earth in south east Russia this cat has to be a survivor and it makes my heat sing to think that with dedication and effort we can make a difference to the wild world by protecting it for creatures like these.
Britian has just announced it's toughest legislation to ban the trade in elephant ivory in a bid to show a serious committment to ending the wretched trade. If elephants are to have a chance other countries must follow including Australia and ban the trade in absolutely anything made of ivory. This should include antiques rare and unique old items regardless of their worth if we are really serious. Even Kenya has announced life sentences to anyone caught trading in ivory but it also gets down to people on holidays visiting foreign countries and being tempted to buy some trinket made of ivory. That a beautiful huge animal has been slaughtered for it should make anyone think twice.
Sudan is gone. We should mourn his loss as ours and feel great sadness that we allowed this to happen. How is it that we allowed a species to dwindle because of disregard to the huge threats these magnificent animals faced. That he was the last of his kind the Northern White Rhino should be a sobering thought and a wake up that we need to do more for other species facing the same fate, too many to count. That these giants and their ancestors walked the earth for more than 5 million years and that we have seen them decimated by exploitation and greed should be a source of great shame to us.
There seems to be no end to the dismantling of valuable conservation efforts of endangered species by the Trump administration. Now this dreadful excuse of a human and the worst president I have ever seen elected in America is moving to remove the North American lynx from the endangered list effectively removing protection for this beautiful cat. Without protection in place these animals become targets of hunters killing them indiscriminately. It's a tragedy for the civilised world that America is being 'led' by such a vile person who clearly has no interest in conservation wildlife or the beauty of the natural world. How much more damage will this egocentric pathetic excuse of a man do in the years of his presidential reign I dread to imagine.
The Major Mitchell cockatoo is one of Australia's remarkable birds but it is in serious decline in Victoria. The slender cypress pine trees these birds depend on have all but vanished from the Victorian landscape taking with them valuable nesting hollows. How has this happened ? With only 20 breeding pairs their future looks pretty bleak. Early settlers used slender cypress trees for building houses and fencing and overgrazing has led to a serious loss impacting on the lives of the distinctive Major Mitchell who has to compete with other birds such as galahs for space to nest. Millions of trees have been planted to re vegetate devastated areas so maybe there is hope that this amazing bird will survive.
When there are no words to describe the horror. What are we doing to this planet ?