VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
Sharing firsthand experiences and lessons from the field, National Geographic Big Cats Initiative explorers are helping spread their boundless knowledge and affection for the wild to the next generation.
All eyes are on government delegates attending the forthcoming 17th meeting of the Conference of Parties (CoP17), to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES), opening on September 24 in Johannesburg. Many of the issues raised in motions at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii this week relate to illegal and unsustainable trade and to the impact of parallel legal markets for body parts of endangered species.
A swift and global conservation response is needed to prevent the world’s gorillas, lions, tigers, rhinos, and other iconic terrestrial megafauna from being lost forever, an influential group of international scientists reported today in the journal BioScience.
Their analysis, entitled Saving the World’s Terrestrial Megafauna, covers the precipitous loss of large animal populations around the globe. The report included a 13-point declaration by 43 scientists and conservationists calling for acknowledgement that a “business as usual” mentality will result in massive species extinction. Read the declaration and study the maps showing the global decline of big land animals.
Exciting news for lions is that an expedition led by Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, supported by Born Free USA, has made camera trap images of the big cats in a remote national park in northwestern Ethiopia, an area the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) considered as only a ‘possible range’ for the species. As many as 200 lions may survive across the ecosystem between this part of Ethiopia and the adjacent national park in Sudan, according to the expedition’s analysis. There have been concerns that lions had become extinct in Sudan.
That’s the message of a new statue in Trafalgar Square, commissioned by Nat Geo Wild and about to be auctioned to raise money for National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative.
© Emmanuel Keller, courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing. Perhaps the most popular pet on Earth, the family cat is a beloved member of countless households. Millions of others abandoned or strayed are flourishing independently outdoors, where they may pose serious threats to birds and other small animals. But as familiar as the house cat is, not many people know it has…
By Maraya Cornell
A recent article in the New York Times casts Botswana’s hunting ban, enacted just under two years ago, as the disastrous move of a nation acting under the spell of Western animal rights activism.
The author, Norimitsu Onishi, who is the paper’s bureau chief for southern Africa, blames the ban for swelling the number of dangerous animals that terrorize villagers in Sankuyo, where his story is set. And he claims that Sankuyo’s land is “peripheral,” too remote for photo tourism to make up for the income the village lost when trophy hunting ceased.
Both of these conclusions are dubious at best.
In the first full research report of its kind, the trophy hunting industry in South Africa has been exposed as the main source of Asia’s rapidly expanding lion bone trade. The implications are that thousands of lions are being raised in South Africa to shot in cages, stoking a market for lion bone medicine that ultimately threatens the last 2,300 wild lions in the country.
National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and filmmaker Dereck Joubert, a world-renowned expert on lions and the African wilderness, shoots down the myths trophy hunters use to justify killing big cats. He reveals the devastating impact on African economies, employment, and ecology that hunting inflicts at the cost of the much greater wealth that may be generated from ecotourism, and he calls for support of the petition of the U.S. Government to list the lion as an Endangered Species, which would make it illegal to import lions and their parts (such as trophies) into the U.S.