Tag Archives: WCFF

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.

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
& Biodiversity Conference
Christopher J. Gervais, FRGS
Founder & CEO
Christopher@WCFF.org
http://www.WCFF.org

Facebook.com/WCFForg
Twitter: @WCFF_org
Twitter: @CJGERVAIS
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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

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
& Biodiversity Conference
Christopher J. Gervais, FRGS
Christopher@WCFF.org
http://www.WCFF.org

Facebook.com/WCFForg
Twitter: @WCFF_org
Twitter: @CJGERVAIS
Instagram: @wcff_2014
Vimeo.com/wcff
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, Inc

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

 Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
& Biodiversity Conference
Christopher J. Gervais, FRGS
Founder & CEO
Christopher@WCFF.org
http://www.WCFF.org

Facebook.com/WCFForg
Twitter: @WCFF_org
Twitter: @CJGERVAIS
Instagram: @wcff_2014
Vimeo.com/wcff
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

The forgotten Dhole

Dhole

The Dhole (Cuon alpinus) is a wild canid that are efficient predators and communal pack hunters. These rust-coloured carnivores roam the jungles and montane forests of Central and East Asia.  They are the only species in the Cuon genus.

According to the  IUCN Red List, there are only 949 to 2,215 breeding dholes left in the wild. This number is less than the world’s breeding tigers. Dholes have been mostly ignored by conservationists, researchers and the global public. They are a forgotten predator. Dhole’s are surprisingly small. At just 12-18 kilograms, dholes are 30 to 50% the size of your average wolf, making them smaller than many medium-sized dogs.

“Compared to a tiger, a dhole is not very ‘sexy,’” said Kate Jenks, a conservation biologist with the Minnesota Zoo who has spent nine years trapping, collaring and studying dholes in Thailand. “They tend to get overlooked by scientists and conservationists that are more interested in tigers and leopards that live in the same area.”

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The species roams regions inhabited by tigers, snow leopard, bears, wolves and leopards. Competition for prey and space can bring dholes into encounters with these other apex carnivores. Observers have captured videos of dholes harassing and holding their own against tigers. 

Dholes inhabit some of the most threatened, degraded and disconnected forest landscapes on the planet. The rainforests of Southeast Asia have seen unprecedented destruction over the past fifty years for palm oil, paper, rubber, timber, mining and other commodities. Where forests haven’t been destroyed, they have been fragmented by booming human populations, roads and ever-expanding development projects.

In addition to forest loss, dholes have suffered from a decline in their prey. Because dholes are hyper-carnivores that need relatively high prey numbers to raise litters and sustain large pack sizes. Overhunting and snaring has decimated many prey species across southern Asia. In fact, the region is known for so-called empty forests syndrome. Here, forests are largely emptied of any large-to-medium-sized mammal or bird, wiped out by hunting both for food and the Traditional Chinese Medicine industry.

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There are very few conservation programmes focusing specifically on dholes, but one of them is Ambika Khatiwada’s in the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area (KCA). in Nepal. Khatiwada is working with locals to live more peaceably with wild canid neighbors.

Khatiwada is also working with the local council on implementing a community managed livestock insurance scheme. Under this program, herders pay to have their livestock insured against attacks by predators, in this case dholes and snow leopards.

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As one of the region’s top predators, dholes have a potent ecological influence all the way down the food chain. While this has been largely unstudied in regards to dholes, research on other top predators – like wolves – has shown how these animals actually create more biodiverse and productive ecosystems by keeping prey species in check and in hiding.

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
& Biodiversity Conference

Christopher J. Gervais, FRGS
Founder & CEO
Christopher@WCFF.org
www.WCFF.org

Facebook.com/WCFForg
Twitter: @WCFF_org
Twitter: @CJGERVAIS
Instagram: @wcff_2014
Vimeo.com/wcff
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

 

Forest Turtles Confiscated

Confiscated Forest Turtles

Authorities in Palawan confiscated on June 18 a shipment of 4,200 critically endangered forest turtles that are believed to be destined for the Chinese black market with an estimated value of around US$400,000.

The endangered animals, comprised mostly of highly valued “Siebenrockiella leytensis”, also known as the Philippine pond turtle, were rescued in a warehouse owned by a Chinese trader living in Bataraza town near the southernmost tip of the province.

Alex Marcaida, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) information head, told Inquirer that the raiding team, composed of PCSD enforcers and members of the Provincial Law Enforcement Task Force, were preparing to file charges against a certain Peter Lei, said to be a Chinese national but a long-time resident in the area and owner of the warehouse.

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The turtles were turned over to a government-run rehabilitation facility, the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Centre, and Katala Foundation in preparation for their release in the wild, according to Marcaida. At least 90 turtles were already dead when they conducted the raid.

The wildlife shipment, according to one of the enforcement team members, was being prepared for shipment to China, where the turtles are in demand both as food and as pet. Marcaida said they believed the turtles were collected mainly from various parts of northern Palawan where the endangered species are believed to be abundant.

“The black market rate in China for these species is around $200 a kilo,” Marcaida said. Marcaida said they were preparing charges against the trader for violation of the Philippine Wildlife Act, Republic Act No. 9147

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Wildlife Conservation Film Festival & Biodiversity Conference
Christopher J. Gervais, FRGS
Founder & CEO
Christopher@WCFF.org
www.WCFF.org

Facebook.com/WCFForg
Twitter: @WCFF_org
Twitter: @CJGERVAIS
Instagram: @wcff_2014
Vimeo.com/wcff
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, Inc.

Pity the Pilot Whale

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Once again,  the horror show of evil that the Faroese call the grindadráp, which translated means “the murder of whales.” has started.

This year the Faroese not only have the Faroese Coast Guard and the Danish Navy to defend these brutal and pitiless killers, but the whalers also have the services of the Faroese Coast Guard to find the pods of whales so they can be slain.

There can be no justification for the use of military assets to help kill whales in order to secure whale meat that is inedible because of the toxic levels of mercury in the bodies of the whales.

It is tragic that in the year 2015, with the diminishment of biodiversity and with hundreds of species going extinct, that there are still people so alienated from reality that they continue to engage in contributing to the death of the ocean.  Many Faroese citizens overfish, they slaughter puffins, other seabirds, whales and dolphins. These are the kind of people that I hope future generations of humanity will look back upon with utter disgust and realize in is these type of people why the world is devoid of so many species.

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Teach your children well. Not so, in this case…

The Faroese enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world with the highest income per capita in all of Europe. Their supermarkets are well stocked with anything that can be bought in Copenhagen, London or Paris. They all drive cars, own computers and enjoy the luxuries of modern industrialized society, yet many claim that they need to kill pilot whales and dolphins for meat.

The truth is that some of them simply like to kill. They enjoy it. They need to see the blood spurting into the water. They need to smell and wallow in the blood and the sh*t of the dying animals. They need to hear their pitiful screams because these are the needs of sadistic psychopaths. Not all Faroese are cruel and not all participate in this foul obscenity. Both for those who do and for the politicians who support these despicable acts of slaughter, the evidence is that there is a rotten stench of death associated with these islands that will be angrily remembered when the pilot whales and the dolphins are no more.

Faroe Islands


Wildlife Conservation Film Festival & Biodiversity Conference

Christopher J. Gervais, FRGS
Founder & CEO
Christopher@WCFF.org
www.WCF.org

Facebook.com/WCFForg
Twitter: @WCFF_org
Twitter: @CJGERVAIS
Instagram: @wcff_2014
Vimeo.com/wcff
Skype: christopher.j.gervais
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
Blog: https://christopherjgervais.wordpress.com/

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, Inc.

World Elephant Day

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World Elephant Day is an international annual event on August 12, dedicated to the preservation and protection of the world’s elephants. Conceived in 2011 by Canadian filmmakers Patricia Sims and Michael Clark of Canazwest Pictures, and Sivaporn Dardarananda, Secretary-General of the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation in Thailand.

Join the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival (WCFF) in New York on August 12 as we celebrate World Elephant Day during our Cocktails for Conservation Event. We meet at AYZA Wine & Chocolate Bar in the West Village from 6:30-10:30 pm. No cover and drink specials. Meet fellow wildlife conservationists, filmmakers, scientists and people that just care for an evening of good food, great wine & spirits and stimulating conversation.

The WCFF is working to put together a 10 day volunteer mission to the Friends of the Elephant Asian Hospital in Lampang, Thailand. Join us!

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For more information visit:

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http://www.WCFF.org
Facebook.com/WCFForg
Twitter: @WCFF_org
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