Cecil the Lion Murdered

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Dr, Walter Palmer a dentist with a practice in Bloomington, Minnesota, who has a felony record in the U.S. related to shooting a black bear in Wisconsin murdered “Cecil” the famed lion in Zimbabwe’s I have never a.

Palmer and his guides lured “Cecil” out of the protected park through a gate they opened and Palmer then shot the lion with a crossbow. Cecil then fled and was pursued for 40 hours by Palmer and his entourage before Dr. Palmer dealt the final blow with a gunshot. Cecil was then skinned and beheaded. One cannot imagine the pain and suffering endured by this animal after being wounded by a bow gun and stalked for nearly 2 days.

Palmer, who lives in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie paid $50,000 USD to kill the lion and while he claims he thought the hunt was legal, few believe his story.

Cecil with his killer

The lion’s death has outraged animal conservationists and others, including U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, a Minnesota Democrat. In a statement late Tuesday, the congresswoman called for an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to see whether any U.S. laws were violated

Dr. Palmer is no stranger to illegal hunts. According to U.S. court records, Palmer pleaded guilty in 2008 to making false statements to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about a black bear he fatally shot in western Wisconsin. Palmer had a permit to hunt but shot the animal outside the authorized zone in 2006, then tried to pass it off as being killed elsewhere, according to court documents. He was given one year probation and fined nearly $3,000.

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In addition Palmer was the subject of a sexual harassment complaint settled in 2006, with Palmer admitting no wrongdoing and agreeing to pay a former receptionist more than $127,000. If he did “no wrong” then why did he settle?

I have never included a personal statement before to a specific person on my blog, however in this case I will make an exception. Dr. Palmer I hope you are proud of yourself. I will say will absolute clarity you are a disgrace and your behavior toward wildlife and women sickens me. Do you have that big smile on your face now?

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Truck Stop Tiger

tony the truck stop tiger

“Tony” is a tiger imprisoned at a Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. Signs posted on Tony’s cage, indicate he was born in July 2000, now making him 15-years old. It is reported that Tony was acquired by Michael Sandlin as a 6-month old cub from a Texas breeder.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund found the permit issued by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries was illegal and revoked; LDWF was blocked from issuing a new permit. Unfortunately Michael Sandlin, “Tony’s” captor, enlisted his state Senator, Rick Ward, to propose a bill, SB 250, to exempt himself from Louisiana state law banning private ownership of big cats. This outrageous bill passed both the Senate and House and was signed by Governor Jindal. Immediately the Animal Legal Defense issued a statement saying they would challenge the validity of SB 250. On June 25, 2014 ALDF filed suit against the State of Louisiana for violating the Louisiana Constitution by passing a law that exempts a single individual from existing state public safety and animal welfare laws. Defendants include the State of Louisiana, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), the Tiger Truck Stop, and Michael Sandlin.

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Please go to Tony’s change.org petition asking the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to enforce the 2006 law banning private ownership of big cats remains open and is nearing 49,000 signatures.

There are an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 big cats kept captive by private owners. The exact number is a unknown because of insufficient record keeping requirements. These animals are kept as pets, exhibited in roadside zoos, perform in circuses and traveling exhibitions, and bred for profit. Cubs are used in “pay-for-play” schemes and photo ops.

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British Columbia Wildlife Hero

 

bear cubs

British Columbia conservation officer Bryce Casavant has been suspended without pay for refusing to kill two black bear cubs. He was reportedly asked to destroy the cubs, as well as their mother, after the mother repeatedly raided a freezer full of meat and salmon. The cubs — a brother and sister — returned to the property looking for her.

Despite an order to kill the cubs too, Casavant took them to a veterinary hospital. They are now at a recovery centre run by the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington which, like Port Hardy, is on Vancouver Island.

According to CBC’s Robin Campbell, the recovery centre’s manager said that the conservation officer did the right thing as the cubs are not habituated to humans and can be reintroduced to the wild. “The mother bear was a problem, but these cubs did nothing.”

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B.C. conservation officer Bryce Casavant

The conservation service was called by a concerned homeowner whose freezer had been repeatedly raided by the cubs’ mother, The incident was then reported by a community paper, the North Island Gazette, an online petition was started to reinstate the conservation officer. (North Island Gazette). “In 30 years, this is the first time we’ve ever had an issue like this,” said the paper. “There has to be some kind of misunderstanding. Hopefully somebody will come to their senses.”

The B.C. Ministry of Environment hasn’t said what it plans to do about the cubs now, but in a statement said the Conservation Officer Service is investigating “this situation, including the actions of its members.”

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The “Triple A”

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Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos has proposed to establish the largest nature preserve on the planet. The “Triple A Corridor” would go from the Andes to the amazon to the Atlantic. This massive environmental corridor would stretch across Brazil, Columbia and Venezuela, protecting 135 million hectares.

Amazon rainforest

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Wildlife Criminal Arrested

Vast Haris Nasution

A prominent Indonesian wildlife trafficker who was arrested while trying to sell a baby orangutan was sentenced last week to two years behind bars and ordered to pay a Rp10 million ($752) fine. The trafficker, Vast Haris Nasution, admitted to running a trading network that stretches from Indonesia’s westernmost provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra, where he illegally sourced a variety of protected species and animal parts from local hunters and dealers, to Java in the center of the country.

Besides the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii), Vast Haris sold golden cats, porcupines, slow loris, siamangs, gibbons, hornbills and baby crocodiles, as well animal parts like hornbill beaks and the skins, claws and canine teeth of Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae). His capture followed the arrest and conviction of one of his staff, Dedek Setiawan. In April last year, conservation authorities found Dedek in the North Sumatran city of Medan with two golden cats, a siamang and a gibbon. He had been using the Internet to connect with buyers. A few months later he was sentenced to 16 months in prison and fined Rp5 million.

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Indonesia is a hotbed of illegal wildlife trading, but traffickers often escape significant punishment, so the verdict constitutes a win for Indonesia’s biodiversity. It is hoped this firm decision from the judge and prosecution today will have a deterrent effect among the community, sending a clear message that wildlife crimes can and will be punished.

Since the early 70s there have been over 3,000 confiscations of illegal pet orangutans in Sumatra and Borneo but only a handful of actual prosecutions, and all of them only in the last few years. Effective law enforcement and the threat of serious consequences for those involved is an essential component of the conservation arsenal if there is to be any hope of preventing the extinction of orangutans, and many other heavily traded and persecuted species here.

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World Orca Day

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Today is World  Day. Keep these magnificent and majestic marine mammals where they belong, the world’s oceans, not in aquariums to perform in shows.

Surfing culture

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The Vaquita: Desert Porpoise of Mexico

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The vaquita, is the smallest members of the porpoise family and found only in the waters of Mexico’s northern Gulf of California. The marine mammal, whose name means “little cow” in Spanish is rapidly becoming extinct as they accidentally drown in the gill nets local fishers deploy for fish and shrimp. According to a new report, their numbers have declined by more than 40 percent in just a single year. Now, only around 50

Vaquitas are shy creatures, and rarely seen, except when they are pulled to the surface, usually dead in fishing nets. They have been known to science only since 1958, when three skulls were found on a beach. At the time, it was thought that they numbered in the low thousands. Scientists and fishers alike say the animals, with their pretty facial markings and sleek bodies, are endearing.

There’s danger now that the porpoises will become the second cetacean (the first was the baiji, or Chinese river dolphin) to succumb to human pressures, most likely disappearing forever by 2018.

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Indeed, the government of Mexico established a presidential commission on vaquita conservation in 2012, when scientists estimated the porpoise’s population at 200. In 2005 Mexico created a refuge for them, banned all commercial fishing in the refuge’s waters, beefed up enforcement, and invested more than $30 million (U.S.) to compensate fishers and encourage them to switch to other fishing methods.

It also established the international scientific team to monitor the porpoise’s population, reproductive rates, and habitat. Its members hail from such august conservation bodies as the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the International Whaling Commission, the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, and Norway’s Institute of Marine Research.

All were optimistic then. “We thought we were going to see the vaquitas’ numbers increasing by 4 percent a year,” said Barbara Taylor, a marine biologist with the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in San Diego, California, and a member of the team. “Instead, they’ve had a catastrophic decline of 18.5 percent per year.”

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The decline is due to illegal fishing that is out of control. In the past three years, illegal gillnetting for the totoaba, a critically endangered fish that can grow to more than six feet long (1.8 meters) and 300 pounds (136 kilograms), has surged. Unfortunately, the Vaquita and the similarly sized totoaba live in the same parts of the gulf.

The totoaba’s swim bladder, highly prized as a traditional health food and medicine in China, can fetch thousands of dollars. Few fishers can resist the temptation.

Scientists estimate that about 435 miles (700 kilometers) of legal nets are in the water every day during the fishing season, from mid-September to mid-June. That number is not counting the illegal nets for the totoaba,” Taylor says.

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Because of the vaquita’s timid nature (a sighting at 300 feet [90 meters] is considered close), scientists are not able to make visual counts of the animals. They rely instead on an array of special acoustic devices, deployed every year before the fishing season begins (they too are easily tangled in the nets), to record the sounds of the animals as they forage in the murky waters they favor. From these sounds, the researchers are able to estimate the vaquitas’ numbers.

Because the animal’s population is so low, the team says there is only one solution: Ban all gillnetting in the gulf’s upper regions, including the waters surrounding the vaquitas’ refuge. The ban must be strictly applied, even to the legal shrimp and fin fish fishery, and enforced with more police patrols on sea and land.

“It’s a hard choice,” Taylor acknowledges. Such a ban will hurt all the fishers, including those who aren’t engaged in the illegal fishery. But, she said, if Mexico doesn’t do that, it “will lose the vaquita.”

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Mexico, China, and the United States governments need to work together to control—if not end—the trade in totoaba swim bladders. The dried bladders are often smuggled across the U.S. border before ending up in the Chinese marketplace.

There is a modicum of hope. Even at only 50- 97 animals. the species can still be saved. Most marine mammals, including other cetaceans, that have been taken down through hunting have come back, so it’s not too late. But if nothing is done, they can also go extinct rapidly, as happened with the baiji. They can be gone before you know it.”

The commission will meet again at the end of August to discuss what to do next to save the vaquita.

greenpeace

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