Posts Tagged ‘Poaching’

(Nearly 2 months since my last post SORRY , I am going to blame it on Christmas 😉 )

Authors Own : Arnhem Zoo

Authors Own : Arnhem Zoo

South Africa is very well known for its Rhinoceros populations and it is no wonder given it is home to over ¾ of the worlds Rhinoceros. The five main species alive today are the White, Black, Javan, Sumatran and Indian Rhinoceros, with 3 of these 5 on the critically endangered list. As if the outlook wasn’t bad enough, poaching in South Africa is on a scary rise, putting the pressure on the already fragile White and Black species of rhinoceros.

2008: 83
2009: 112
2010: 333
2011: 448
2012: 668

The figures above represent the number of Rhino’s killed in South Africa over the last 5 years. In the short space of time between 2010 and 2012 the number of killings doubled. Frightening to think what 2013 could bring if poaching is not dealt with once and for all.

Authors Own : Blijdorp Zoo

Authors Own : Blijdorp Zoo

So why are so many Rhinos being killed every year? These strong and beautiful animals are being killed simply for their horns, which are in high demand in Asia (mainly China and Vietnam) for use in “medicine”. They believe they have great healing powers and most recently has become a popular hangover remedy in Vietnam. A Rhino horn consists mainly of keratin which has no medicinal value and is found in human hair, skin and nails. In other words, there is no reason for so much killing, you could eat some hair and it would be much the same effect as a Rhino horn.

 

Unfortunately it is difficult to educate when people are so bent on cultural traditions and the demand will be there for Rhino horns for some time, so the problem of poaching will ever increase alongside demand. How can we stop this? ? Provide better education for people living along side Rhinos and areas with a demand for Rhino horns, better security against poachers in high risk areas, stricter laws on the trading of Rhino horns and other body parts. These are all areas which need to be looked at, however for all this money will always be an issue.

2013s figure could easily hit 1000 if killing continue to increase like they have over the last couple of years , scary when you put it like that isn’t it ?

Authors Own: Chester Zoo

Authors Own: Chester Zoo

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Well this little guy hardly needs much of an introduction being a very popular feature in many zoo’s across the world. Unfortunately the Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) is currently listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red list. This means that we need to take extra care in conserving the Red Panda in its small pockets of damp high-altitude forests in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar, and southern China or it may be joining the “critically endangered” list all too soon.

The Red Panda is a very good climber using its specially adapted feet with rotatable ankles to control downward climbs. They have very strong claws which they use to grasp branches and leaves when feeding. Bamboo makes up the most part of their diet however they occasionally eat eggs, berries or fruit depending on the availability of their main food during foraging. Mostly nocturnal, they forage by night and sleep by day, spending the majority of their time in the trees.

Their main form of communication is by means of body language however they are usually a solitary animal, rarely interacting with other Red Pandas apart from during mating and when caring for young. Even though they are born very small, females have a considerably long gestation period of up to 135 days and usually only have one or two at a time. This also presents limitations in captive breeding programmes and makes the management of their habitat all the more important as they are fragile reproducers.

The main threats to Red Panda populations in the wild are: habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching and inbreeding depression. While human populations increase, Red Panda populations decrease as the humans claim more and more of their habitats for their own. This unfortunately is not restricted to the Red Pandas but uncountable different species worldwide suffer a similar threat and many unique habitats are suffering under the pressure. Road construction, commercial logging, localized logging and clearing for farm lands, being just some of the culprits in the fragmentation of habitats.

Poaching does not present as serious a threat to the Red Panda as habitat loss; however it is still a big problem mainly in China. They are hunted mainly for their fur and their beautiful tails. Outside China they are usually only killed by accident, caught up in traps meant for other animals and shot occasionally because the opportunity was there, rather than being deliberately hunted for.

Research and Habitat protection are vital for the survival of this species. They are known to be shy and due to their nocturnal behaviour observation and data collection can be difficult, so it is important that population studies are fronted in order to get a clearer picture of this secretive animal’s lifestyle. The more known about the Red Panda, the easier it becomes to protect. There are several protected areas covering some of the Red Pandas habitats across their home countries, however not near enough if they are to thrive in the long term and get the management and protection they need.

If you want to know more you can visit the Red Panda Network webpage. They are an organisation that focuses on education, research and conservation. All of which are important in the protection of a species.

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This species of Gorilla can be dived into two subspecies: The Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and the Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli). The Western Lowland gorilla being the most common (As common as this critically endangered species can be) with over 90,000 estimated in the wild and is found in several locations in Central West Africa. The Cross River Gorilla is estimated at just over 250, a scary figure, and is found on the border between Cameroon and Nigeria.

The Ebola virus, poaching, civil war and commercial logging are the main threats to the conservation of these sociable and powerful primates. While the Ebola virus wiped out almost a third of the population between 1991 and 2007 they are, against their nature, fighting back against the humans by means of throwing sticks and stones. This goes against their more common instinct to run. This strange behaviour sadly will not be enough to deter poachers or prevent them from getting caught in the crossfire of the civil wars which rage on in their territory.

The main difference between the Western and Eastern Gorillas is in their size, the Western gorillas being smaller and more agile, allowing them to be sufficient climbers. Their diet consists of high fibre content, mainly eating fruit when it is available, leaves and wood vegetation suffices when fruit is scarce. They are a highly sociable animal living in groups from anywhere between 2 and 30 individuals and are not all that territorial with family’s often crossing paths in the wild. These groups consist of a dominant male and several young males, females and their offspring.

Conservation groups such as the WCS are working hard to improve poaching laws, and establish health centres in areas such as Gabon and Cameroon in order to prevent the spread of a disease like the Ebola Virus. They are also working alongside logging companies to help create a more sustainable and Gorilla friendly method of logging.

Eco-tourism also plays a vital part in the conservation of the Western Gorilla. Through tourism conservation groups can work towards finding a careful balance for locals in that they can find alternatives to bush meat for survival, thus lessening the pressure on the Gorillas. The ZSL (Zoological Society of London) are one such organisation aiding in sustainable tourism and bush meat alternatives for locals. They are also involved in a project in Cameroon helping Timber Company’s management in a way that is less harmful to the Gorilla populations in its logging areas.

The Western Gorilla is in critical danger and needs our help NOW ! So spread awareness and get onto some of the above links if you wish to donate, or help! There is no shortage of information online and if you want to go see these beautiful creatures in the wild (It is an expensive but very worthwhile investment), now is the time and in the long run your efforts will help to conserve the Western Gorilla.

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