By Susan Lieberman
In the wildlife trafficking policy debate in the U.S., the majority of attention to date has been on elephant ivory and rhino horn from Africa. However, elephants and rhinos are not the only species threatened by illegal international trade. Numerous other species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and others are also subject to trafficking, and they too need increased attention and political and financial support. In testimony I submitted to a meeting of the President’s Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking, I detailed some of the species whose illegal trade is under the radar, but still are suffering the effects of wildlife trafficking.
Suddenly, a humpback whale bursts through this bait ball off the starboard side like a torpedo to its mark. The whale’s mouth is open wide and scooping in as many fish as it can hold, with the remnants spilling back into the sea. As it smacks its massive head down, a wave of very fishy whale’s breath blows across the bow of the boat.
By John F. Calvelli
Shortly after the initiation of CGI’s Partnership to Save Africa’s Elephants one year ago, WCS launched the 96 Elephants campaign, named for the estimated number of elephants killed illegally in Africa every day. The campaign has focused on securing effective U.S. moratorium laws, bolstering elephant protection with additional funding, and educating the public about the link between ivory consumption and the slaughter of elephants.
The Niassa National Reserve is as remote as it gets in Mozambique. The size of Tennessee or three times the size of the Serengeti, Niassa is the home of one of the last stands for the African savannah elephant. Estimates indicate there are 13,000 elephants left, down from 20,000 at their recent highest.
By Steve Zack
An appreciation of vultures is in the eye of the beholder. William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition certainly appreciated them; Charles Darwin certainly did not. Clark carefully described in his journal of 1806 the “butifull buzzard of the Columbia” that we now know as the California Condor. Darwin, in 1832, recounted his experience with “these disgusting birds” (in this case, Turkey Vultures) whose bare heads “revel in putridity.” Beyond their beauty or putridity, however, our awareness must include the awful plight of vultures worldwide, due largely to the toxic world of poisons we foist upon them. The sixth annual International Vulture Awareness Day, which we celebrate September 6, gives us an opportunity focus precisely on that issue.
By John Weaver
Recently, some neo-conservationists have argued that the Wilderness Act is facing a mid-life crisis, that somehow the notion of Wilderness is an anachronism in the ‘Anthropocene’ era of human domination of the planet. They argue that we should focus on domesticating landscapes to serve economic growth of the human juggernaut – rather than protecting remaining wild lands and preventing human-caused extinction of species. Other conservationists – myself included – disagree.
By Brendan Mackey and James Watson
It’s now or never if the world’s surviving primary forests are to be saved. Will the international community act or continue to turn a blind eye to our planet’s key life support systems? Despite their shortcomings, international environmental agreements can provide incentives for national governments and land custodians to turn back the tide of forest destruction. Primary forests, however, remain invisible in forest policy debates and oddly off the radar for most conservation organizations.
By K. Ullas Karanth, Director for Science-Asia, Wildlife Conservation Society The Malenad Tiger Landscape in southwestern India, located in Karnataka and covering adjacent areas of neighboring Kerala and Tamil Nadu, today harbors what is possibly the largest wild tiger population in the world, about 400 animals or so. Camera trap research supported by the Wildlife Conservation Society…
At a time when no one had previously descended deeper than 350 feet and survived, Beebe and Barton set out in 1930 to explore the vast depths of the Atlantic near the island of Bermuda in the bathysphere submersible invented by Barton. The men crammed into a cast iron sphere that was 4.75 feet in diameter with 1” thick walls to withstand the immense pressure of the ocean’s depths.
My assignment is a mammoth one: Go to Kenya and photograph African elephants – a vulnerable species currently losing ground as 35,000 elephants are killed a year.
There is an incredible diversity of snake species that occupy a wide range of environments in tropical and temperate areas, from deserts and mountain summits to oceans. With about 3,458 species known so far, snakes are a successful group of predatory vertebrates. Since 2008, 309 new species of snake have been described.
The Amazon basin—with its vast rainforests and river systems—is the most bio-diverse place on earth and, not surprisingly, a region rich in discovery. Newly described plant and animal species are a frequent occurrence. The recent video documentation of a newly discovered fish migration is a much rarer event and particularly noteworthy this weekend as we celebrate World Fish Migration Day, a one-day global initiative to boost awareness of the importance of open rivers and migratory fish.
Since we last celebrated Earth Day a year ago, 29 states have experienced 99 Federal disaster declarations. Fires, floods, mudslides, hurricanes, and tornadoes have devastated the United States, causing billions of dollars of damage, destroying thousands of homes, and up-ending people’s lives.
Half of the world’s farmers are women, but women only own about one percent of the world’s land. Similarly, women make up nearly 50 percent of the global fisheries workforce, but in most countries have little to no say in how fisheries are managed. These statistics are indicative of a more general trend: women’s interests and roles are seldom seriously considered in the design and implementation of rural development and conservation initiatives.
In its coastal fisheries, Belize is leading the way in innovative management strategies designed to preserve biodiversity in a manner that keeps fishermen on the water and focused on the long-term sustainability of fish stocks. Future generations of Belizeans will be able to carry on their rich fishing traditions thanks to the decisions, at times quite difficult, being made right now.