US Senator buys tiger skin rug?

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, is described on his website as “A passionate fighter for limited government, economic growth, and the Constitution.” The senator graduated with honors from Princeton University and with high honors from Harvard Law School. No doubt he is an intelligent man.

Why did he post an outrageous, insensitive statement and photograph on his Facebook page of a tiger skin rug? All of times, April 22, just one day after Earth Day, The senator’s statement reads “Did a little shopping for the office with United States Senator Mike Lee in Houston today.” Perhaps the senator thought this was amusing, if so, why?

As a fellow Republican and supporter of the Senator’s Cruz’s investigation of the IRS and the agency abusing its powers, I am shocked and dismayed. Perhaps Senator Cruz will give his constituents and his fellow party members an explanation.

And no I am not a liberal tree huger environmentalist. I am a conservationist!

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One Quarter of World’s Species at Risk of Extinction

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Stellar Sea Cow, Extinct in 1768, only 27 years after discovered by Europeans

The most comprehensive assessment of the world’s mammals has confirmed an extinction crisis, with almost one in four at risk of disappearing forever, according to The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, revealed at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona.

The new study to assess the world’s mammals shows at least 1,141 of the 5,487 mammals on Earth are known to be threatened with extinction. At least 76 mammals have become extinct since 1500. But the results also show conservation can bring species back from the brink of extinction, with five percent of currently threatened mammals showing signs of recovery in the wild.

“Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General. “We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives.”

The real situation could be much worse as 836 mammals are listed as Data Deficient. With better information more species may well prove to be in danger of extinction.

“The reality is that the number of threatened mammals could be as high as 36 percent,” says Jan Schipper, of Conservation International and lead author in a forthcoming article in Science. “This indicates that conservation action backed by research is a clear priority for the future, not only to improve the data so that we can evaluate threats to these poorly known species, but to investigate means to recover threatened species and populations.”

The results show 188 mammals are in the highest threat category of Critically Endangered, including the Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus), which has a population of just 84-143 adults and has continued to decline due to a shortage of its primary prey, the European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus).

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The last known Thylacine died in captivity in 1933

Species like China’s Pere David’s deer (Elaphurus davidianus), is listed as Extinct in the Wild. However, the captive and semi-captive populations have increased in recent years and it is possible that truly wild populations could be re-established soon. It may be too late, however, to save the additional 29 species that have been flagged as Critically Endangered Possibly Extinct, including Cuba’s Little Earth Hutia (Mesocapromys sanfelipensis), which has not been seen in nearly 40 years.

Nearly 450 mammals have been listed as Endangered, including the Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), which moved from Least Concern to Endangered after the global population declined by more than 60 percent in the last 10 years due to a fatal infectious facial cancer.

Habitat loss and degradation affect 40 percent of the world’s mammals. It is most extreme in Central and South America, West, East and Central Africa, Madagascar, and in South and Southeast Asia. Over harvesting is wiping out larger mammals, especially in Southeast Asia, but also in parts of Africa and South America

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The Baiji or Yangtze River Dolphin was officially declared extinct in 2008

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The Barbary or Atlas Lion became extinct in 1942

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The last Caribbean Monk Seal was seen in 1952

25% of all animal species are now at immediate risk of extinction. How many must go extinct before humans realize we are not only destroying biodiversity but our very own survival?

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, Inc.
Christopher J. Gervais, Founder & CEO
Christopher@WCFF.org
Facebook: facebook.com/WCFForg
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
Twitter: @WCFF_org

 

Virunga National Park Warden Shot

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Chief Warden, Emmanuel de Merode shot in an ambush

Emmanuel de Merode, Chief Warden of Africa’s oldest national park – Virunga – has been shot in an ambush while driving to the Congolese national park head quarters in Rumangabo. His vehicle was ambushed by unknown gunmen. The Belgian foreign minister has stated that the country will launch an inquiry into the ambush of its citizen.

de Merode has reportedly been shot a number of times and is currently in a stable but critical condition in hospital. He is in intensive care recovering from the operation to remove the bullets. He is believed to be in the Heal Africa Hospital at Goma.

de Merode was travelling alone at the time and he was rescued by an Congolese army unit who evacuated him to hospital. He is due to be airlifted from Goma to a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya when the opportunity arises. de Merode is a member of the Belgian royalty and he was made chief warden of the Virunga National Park in 2008. He has remained at the park throughout the troubles and civil war that has impacted the park and is well respected by the staff that serve under him as well as conservationists across Africa.

ImageWWF Director of Conservation, Lasse Gustavsson, paid tribute to de Merode, “Emmanuel is a dedicated conservationist putting his life on the line every day to protect Virunga National Park, its rangers, its endangered species and the people that depend on the park for their livelihoods. I know how much Emmanuel loves this park. He continues to be a source of inspiration to those around him and I wish him a swift recovery.”

The gunmen remain unknown but the region still contain many militias and rebel groups. Warden Emmanuel de Merode, “was shot in the chest,” North Kivu provincial governor Julien Paluku told AFP, following the attack 30 kilometres (20 miles) north of the capital Goma. Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders tweeted his best wishes for De Merode’s swift recovery, adding that “we are opening an enquiry”, into the apparent ambush.

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Bears Rescued in China from Bile Farm

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10,000 bears imprisoned in China, living in horrible conditions and misery

A Chinese government owned company is handing over its bear bile farm to an animal welfare group. The group plans to convert the farm in the southern Guangxi region’s capital Nanning into a bear sanctuary. The handing over of the facility will see 130 bears currently resident there given a new lease of life.

Hong Kong based Animals Asia signed the contract with state owned company Flower World after the company said it was moving out of the bear bile industry as it was unable to make money. The new sanctuary will offer a home to Asiatic black bears which are commonly known as moon bears because of the crescent moon fur markings on their chest.

It is not just the lack of profits though that has lead the company to move away from bear bile farming. Increasingly people’s attitude in China is changing in regard to wildlife and animal welfare. The current practice of bile extraction where bears are strapped down and needle inserted into their stomachs is coming under increasing scrutiny in China.

“Particularly in the last two years, there has been a lot of public discussion about the practice of extracting bear bile from live bears. Most people oppose it, so we consider prospects for the bear bile business will be less and less optimistic,” Flower World General Manager Yan Shaohong explained at the press conference. “Actually, the company has always been investing money but not making any,” Mr Yan said. Bear bile extraction at the farm actually stopped over 2 years ago because the company could not find a market for the product. This despite investing over US$1.2 million in the facility

Animals Asia will take over the ownership of the facility in May and will start to retrain the staff there on how to look after the bears rather than extract bile from them. The group are setting aside over US$5 million for the retraining and upgrading of the facilities. Animals Asia also hope to use the facility as a sanctuary for other moon bears rescued from the bear bile trade.

ImageTerrified baby, unaware of its fate, life it will endure as a prisoner to satisfy human’s greed.

ImageAs many as 10,000 bears held captive in China

ImageUnspeakable horror, the conditions the bears live and will die in

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China can end the practice of all “bear farming”.
In doing so take the world stage as a “Leader” in conservation
and become a Global Hero for Wildlife Conservation

Plastic Seas

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Every year 20 million tons of plastic debris enters the world’s oceans
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In the Pacific Ocean there is an area the size of Texas called the “Plastic Sea”. More of the world’s oceans now have a “plastic patch” and the situation is getting worse.

In 2012 the Rio + 20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable development called for a management program by 2025. We cannot wait another 11 years for action to take place.

Plastic debris in the oceans is not only aesthetic problem. It is a major threat to the Biodiversity of the planet. Plastic debris is an ecological disaster that affect the entire food chain, from microscopic organisms, to fish, marine birds, sea turtles, marine mammals and humans.

As we consume more seafood, we ingest the plastic that other life has absorbed. This has only negative side affects and is a threat to the health and safety of the human race.

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Artic Belugas found with Cat Pathogenes

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Cat Pathogens Found in Arctic Beluga Whales

The occurrence of human diseases in marine mammals is rapidly on the rise and an alarming development for our oceans. The latest species to succumb is the canary of the sea: the beluga whale. Researchers from the University of British Columbia recently discovered Toxoplasma gondii, a devastating parasite, in a western Arctic population of beluga whales.

Usually found in cats, this parasite can cause blindness and other effect in human, although the effect on whales is not yet known. Some scientists attribute the wide-range movement of pathogens to the warming Arctic conditions, but the exact cause of this pathogen found in Belugas remains a mystery. One theory that has been discussed is cat litter that is flushed down toilets carry the pathogen into sewers and some sewage leaks into the oceans.

The discovery of this pathogen is of concern for the indigenous people of the Arctic, the Inuit who eat whale meat as a staple of their diet.

photo-059_59_thumbThe Inuit hunt beluga whale. It is a vital part of their nutrition in their diet

7bc17bb62ffb13316005019ba3df981aBeluga swim in pods, at times in the hundreds during the summer months in the Arctic.

New National Park for Afghanistan

img_2150Afghanistan forms second national park

The Wakhan District in Afghanistan has been declared the country’s second national park. Wakhan District, one of the most remote areas of Afghanistan, will provide protection for Afghanistan’s rare and vulnerable wildlife such as the snow leopard, Marco Polo sheep, lynx, Himalayan ibex and urial. This new protected area will be co-managed by the Afghanistan Government and local communities, providing livelihoods related to the park and improved services to one of the poorest and most isolated regions on earth.

It is just over 1 million hectares or 4,200 square miles and borders Tajikistan, Pakistan and China; its narrow valley landscape is sandwiched between the Pamir and Hindu Kush Mountains. The park is 25% larger than America’s Yellowstone.

The Director-General of Afghanistan’s National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) Prince Mostapha Zaher, the grandson of the country’s last King Zaher Shah, together with Asif Rahimi, the Minister for Agriculture Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) formally made the historic Wakhan declaration. “We are proud that the Wakhan National Park is in one of the last truly wild places on the planet. We are proud to have a National Park on the ‘Roof of the World.’ It was also a dream of my late grandfather to have a National Park in the Wakhan after he had initiated the steps in the 1950s,” said Prince Mostapha Zaher. “We can prove that the cause of protecting the environment and wildlife can also be utilized as an instrument of peace and tolerance.”

The government plan was supported in development by the WCS, which has worked in Afghanistan since 2006 with support from USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development), has been conducting conservation and governance building work in Wakhan District in partnership with NEPA, MAIL, and local communities. WCS was also actively involved in providing technical support to the Afghan Government in preparation for the declaration of Wakhan National Park.

“With all of the uncertainty facing Afghanistan,” said WCS President and CEO Cristián Samper, “the news declaring Wakhan District as a national park is heartening. This declaration by the Government of Afghanistan will help the people living in this extremely remote area by providing jobs connected to the park and will offer protection to endangered wildlife and key watersheds and landscapes. WCS welcomes this pivotal move by the Afghanistan Government, and we are committed to continuing helping the people and wildlife of the Wakhan.”

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