Cecil the lion ‘suffered incredible cruelty for at least 10 hours,’ new book says

By Kyle Swenson/‎Mar‎ ‎7‎, ‎2018

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/03/07/cecil-the-lio
n-suffered-incredible-cruelty-for-at-least-10-hours-new-book-says/>

Booze shook the secret loose from the hunting staff. They arrived thirsty at
the safari lodge in the Zimbabwe wilderness in July 2015. Their pockets were
fat with cash.

Drinks went down and they became chatty, talking about a huge lion killed
days earlier by a visiting trophy hunter. The lodge workers overhearing the
boasts immediately wondered if the hunters were talking about Cecil, the
12-year-old lion who prowled the Kalahari woodlands of the Hwange National
Park, according to a
<https://www.amazon.com/Lion-Hearted-Future-Africas-Iconic/dp/1682451208/ref
=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520409599&sr=1-1&keywords=andrew+loveridge> new
book by Oxford University researcher Andrew Loveridge.

It would prove to be the first clue in unraveling how Cecil was killed. The
big cat had not been seen since July 1. Jericho, the area’s other male lion,
had filled the recent nights with lonely, unanswered calls. The lodge
workers relayed what they’d heard to a National Parks ranger.

Cecil’s 2015 death created international controversy, with much of the
fervor knotting around
<https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/07/29/how-the-death
-of-cecil-the-lion-at-the-hands-of-american-walter-palmer-has-shed-light-on-
the-big-business-of-big-game/?utm_term=.989c4f039563> Walter Palmer, a
55-year-old Minnesota dentist and avid big game hunter. Palmer had
reportedly paid local hunters and guides $50,000 to bring down Cecil with a
bow-and-arrow on the Gwaai Conservancy, a private wildlife refuge bordering
the park. The volume of the uproar rose when it was reported no lion hunting
had been legally greenlit for the area.

Palmer later issued a public apology stating that he “had no idea that the
lion [he] took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a
study.” Although Palmer’s guide was initially charged for his part in
Cecil’s death, a Zimbabwe high court later dropped the proceedings.

Loveridge’s book, “Lion Hearted: The Life and Death of Cecil and the Future
of Africa’s Iconic Cats,” offers the first detailed account of Cecil’s last
hours, including new information on how the hunters lured the lion out of
the park to his death. The book, based on interviews with members of the
hunt and the analysis of Loveridge’s data, also purports corrects many of
the factual errors plaguing news coverage of the death.

“What I find most difficult about the whole incident is the apparent
callousness with which the hunters undertook this hunt,” Loveridge writes in
the book, which was excerpted this week in
<https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/wildlife-watch-cecil-trophy-hun
ting-andrew-loveridge/> National Geographic. “The lion was a commodity to be
collected, ‘taken’ in hunting parlance. Concern for the pain and suffering
of the animal never seems to have been a particular consideration.”

The book arrives as big game hunting again is a hot topic in the United
States. Under President Trump — whose sons are
<https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2018/03/06/trump-called-ele
phant-hunts-a-horror-show-his-administration-just-lifted-a-trophy-hunting-ba
n/?utm_term=.20b90dafd4dd> big game hunters — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service has quietly been rolling back restrictions on importing hunting
trophies from overseas. Beginning
<http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-trump-hunters-lion-trophi
es-20171120-story.html> in October, the agency began issuing new permits of
lion carcasses from Zimbabwe.

Palmer’s attorney was not immediately available for comment on Loveridge’s
book.

http://cdn.flipboard.com/washingtonpost.com/d467879b6d2bf2adfcebda0d4d6860a7
9ff00a83/original.jpg

Dentist Walter Palmer, arrives to his office in Bloomington, Minn., in 2015.
(Jim Mone-File/AP)

Loveridge studied Cecil for eight years, and the work was often beset by
loss. Since the research began at the park in 1999, 42 collared male lions
have been killed by trophy hunters, according to National Geographic.

“It’s hugely sad to lose a study animal that you are very very familiar
with, you spent a lot of time with,” he
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBRaGGwqbG0> told the BBC after Cecil’s
death. “You get very up close and personal with them. They all have
personalities, so it’s very distressing when they die, not only from
trophy-hunting but from other causes as well.”

According to the book, members of the research team began worrying about
Cecil on July 6, when they noticed the animals GPS collar had not
transmitted data since July 4. The collar had new batteries. A malfunction
was unlikely.

When the team heard rumors about a lion hunt, they hit the field, picking up
the information from the safari lodge. Eventually, the team tracked the
boastful hunters down to Antoinette farm, “a 25-five-square-kilometer parcel
located in the Gwaai,” Loveridge writes.

From interviews with staff there, the team learned an elephant carcass was
transported 300 meters from where it was killed to a location for the Palmer
hunt. Downwind from the dead elephant — an appetizing lure for a lion —
staff members constructed a blind in a nearby tree. This is where Palmer
initially shot Cecil, Loveridge writes.

The lion survived the first arrow hit.

“It is clear that Cecil was at this stage mortally wounded and hadn’t moved
far from where he was shot,” the author writes. “This is corroborated by the
GPS data from Cecil’s collar, which allows a forensic reconstruction of
events. The collar sent a position from the hunt site at just before 9 p.m.
By 11 p.m. the collar’s position had moved 80 meters roughly southeast from
the carcass. It therefore seems probable Cecil was shot at some point
between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. on July 1.”

Palmer and his hired team finished Cecil off “10 to 12 hours after being
wounded.”

“Cecil suffered incredible cruelty for at least 10 hours, severely wounded
and slowly dying,” the book states. “Clearly, although the wound was severe,
the arrow had missed the vital organs or arteries that would have caused
rapid blood loss and a relatively quick death. Certainly, the lion was so
incapacitated that in all those hours he’d been able to move only 350 meters
from the place where he was shot.”

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This is the World’s Last Male Northern White Rhino — And He’s Sick

https://www.livescience.com/61900-last-male-northern-white-rhino-is-sick.html

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This is the World's Last Male Northern White Rhino — And He's Sick
Sudan, the last Northern White Rhino

Credit: Glyn Edmunds/REX/Shutterstock

The last male northern white rhinoceros is sick.

Sudan, a 45-year-old rhino and the last male of his subspecies (Ceratotherium simum cottoni), is ailing in the wake of two infections on his back right leg, according to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the wildlife sanctuary in Kenya where the last three northern white rhinoceroses on the planet live.

“At the advanced age of 45, his health has begun deteriorating, and his future is not looking bright,” Sudan’s caregivers posted on Ol Pejeta’s Facebook pageRhinos usually live between about 30 and 40 years, according to a follow-up comment by the caregivers, and Sudan’s problems are age-related. [In Photos: The Last 5 Northern White Rhinos]

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https://www.facebook.com/OlPejetaConservancy/posts/10160033482610324&width=500Sudan’s problems started with an infection on his back right leg near the end of 2017, according to Ol Pejeta. His veterinary team treated him, and he was back to normal in January. But since mid-February, vets have discovered that there is a deeper infection underlying the original one, and Sudan is not responding as quickly to treatment this time.

“We are very concerned about him — he’s extremely old for a rhino and we do not want him to suffer unnecessarily,” Ol Pejeta caretakers wrote on Facebook.

Even before this health setback, the chances of Sudan fathering new northern white rhinoceroses in his lifetime were basically nil. This subspecies of rhinoceros used to roam across Uganda, Chad, Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to Ol Pejeta, but poaching and chaos from years of civil war in the region sent the population plummeting. The last time a northern white rhinoceros was seen outside of captivity was 2007, and the subspecies is presumed extinct in the wild.

Since then, the population of captive white rhinos has been falling one by one, largely due to old age. In 2014, after the deaths of a male named Suni at Ol Pejeta and a male named Angalifu at the San Diego Zoo, Sudan became the sole surviving northern white rhino male.

Sudan is one of only three northern white rhinoceroses left in the world, period. A female, Nola, died of old age and infection at the San Diego Zoo in November 2015, leaving only Sudan and two females, named Fatu and Najin, at Ol Pejeta. Najin is Sudan’s daughter, and Fatu is his granddaughter; both have conditions that make carrying a pregnancy impossible. What’s more, in 2015, Sudan’s sperm count was discovered to be very low, making him unlikely to father offspring naturally.

Conservationists are using artificial measures in attempts to save the species. For example, they’re using sperm and eggs extracted from northern white rhinoceroses, including Sudan and recently deceased individuals, to try to develop rhinoceros in vitro fertilization (IVF). This strategy depends on managing to fertilize a northern white rhinoceros egg in a lab and successfully implant it in a surrogate mother from the southern white rhinoceros subspecies (Ceratotherium simum simum), which was once at the edge of extinction but made a comeback thanks to intensive conservation efforts.

South African lions eat ‘poacher’, leaving just his head

A lion stretches out by the Luvuvhu river in Kruger National Park, South AfricaImage copyrightCAMERON SPENCER/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionLocal police said the lions ate almost all of the man’s body (file picture)

A suspected big cat poacher has been eaten by lions near the Kruger National Park in South Africa, police say.

The animals left little behind, but some body parts were found over the weekend at a game park near Hoedspruit.

“It seems the victim was poaching in the game park when he was attacked and killed by lions,” Limpopo police spokesman Moatshe Ngoepe told AFP.

“They ate his body, nearly all of it, and just left his head and some remains.”

Police have not yet established the victim’s identity. A loaded hunting rifle and ammunition were found next to the body, South African website Eyewitness News reports.

Lion poaching has been on the rise in Limpopo province in recent years.

The big cats’ body parts are sometimes used in traditional medicine, both within Africa and beyond.

Wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation says lion bones and other body parts are increasingly sought-after in South East Asia, where they are sometimes used as a substitute for tiger bones.

In January 2017, three male lions were found poisoned in Limpopo with their paws and heads cut off.

‘Poacher hunting big cats’ mauled to death by lions in South Africa

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/poacher-hunting-big-cats-mauled-to-death-by-lions-in-south-africa-a3764096.html

Poacher: It is thought the man was hunting lions when they mauled him to death
Poacher: It is thought the man was hunting lions when they mauled him to death AFP/Getty Images

Police are investigating if a man killed and eaten by a pride of lions at a private game reserve in South Africa was a poacher who had been hunting big cats.

His screams for help raised the alarm but the lions quickly killed the man and devoured most of his body before being chased off.

The head was left untouched and is the only means available to police of identifying the man who was carrying no documents.

It comes just months after poacher Luteni Muhararukua was charged and killed by a rhino he was hunting for its horn in nearby Namibia.

At first police thought the dead man was a tractor driver who worked at the game reserve but when he turned up alive realised it may be a poacher.

Killed: The lions quickly ate the man, leaving just his head (EPA/Dai Kurokawa)

A hunting rifle was found close to what was left of the blood drenched body which police believe belonged to the victim of the lions.

Police in Limpopo have called in the Department of Home Affairs to help them to try to find out who the dead man is.

Police Lieutenant-Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said: “The person who who we first thought it was believed to be an employee who was driving a tractor.

“It was thought his tractor broke down and the lions got him as he walked back to the compound but he was found to be alive.

“The process of identifying this body has already commenced and it might be made easier as his head was amongst the remains found at the scene”.

Mr Ngoepe confirmed police were investigating the possibility the deceased might have been a poacher after a hunting rifle was found near the scene.

Lions kill up to 250 people a year in Africa and a male weighs 190kg and a female 130kg and they can ran at over 80kph and there are less than 20000 left in the wild in Africa.

Their bones are worth a small fortune in the Far East with a skeleton fetching up to £7000 and the skin £3000  teeth can fetch £500 each.

Their bones have become highly prized in the the Far East as tiger bones are becoming rarer and rear with their threat of extinction.

The lions attacked the suspected poacher at the Ingwelala Private Nature Reserve in Hoedspruit outside Phalaborwa.

The owner of the reserve, who identified himself as Josh, said he was told not to speak to the media because the police investigation was still under way.

A local worker, who works at a nearby nature reserve, described the area as lion territory and added:”The head was still there but the lions had eaten most of the rest.

“A scream was heard and the lions were scattered by the sound of gunshots but it was too late to do anything for him. He was eaten”.

 Ivory investigator killed in Kenya


One of the world’s leading investigators into the illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn has been killed in Kenya.

Esmond Bradley Martin, 75, was found with a stab wound to his neck at home in the capital Nairobi on Sunday.

The former UN special envoy for rhino conservation was known for his undercover work establishing black-market prices.

The US citizen had recently returned from a research trip to Myanmar.

Bradley Martin was in the process of writing up his findings when he died, reports the BBC’s Alastair Leithead from Nairobi.

His wife found him in their house in Langata. Police are investigating the circumstances but suspect it was a botched robbery.

Our correspondent says Bradley Martin had spent decades risking his life to secretly photograph and document the illegal sales of ivory and rhino horn, travelling to China, Vietnam, and Laos to pose as a buyer – helping to find out the level of black market prices.

He first went to Kenya from the US in the 1970s when there was a surge in the number of elephants being killed for their ivory.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Conservationists believe that the ivory trade is largely responsible for the world’s declining elephant numbers

His work on illegal wildlife markets helped pressure China to ban the rhino horn trade in the 1990s, and domestic sales of ivory, which came into force this year.

Fellow conservationists have been paying tribute to him on social media.
Skip Twitter post by @paulakahumbu

2/3 Esmond was at the forefront of exposing the scale of ivory markets in USA, Congo, Nigeria, Angola, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Laos and recently Myanmar. He always collaborated with Save the Elephants and worked with many of us generously sharing his findings & views.
— Dr. Paula Kahumbu (@paulakahumbu) February 5, 2018

Always sharply dressed with a colourful handkerchief falling from his top pocket, Esmond Bradley Martin would immediately cut to the chase, honing in on the latest issue that was consuming him.

He was a well-known and highly respected character in the conservation community – passionate and unwavering in his efforts to crack down on illegal wildlife crime.

In a major report last year from Laos, he and his colleague Lucy Vigne established that the country had the world’s fastest growing ivory trade.

They risked their own safety staying at a Chinese casino inhabited by gangsters and traffickers in order to visit the illegal markets and find out the latest prices by posing as dealers.

His life’s work was combating the illegal trade of wildlife and he produced a huge body of highly respected research and investigative reports.

He will be a huge loss to the international conservation community.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-42943503

Exclusive: Trump Slams Elephant Hunting For Trophies, Skeptical Fees Go For Conservation

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-slams-elephant-trophies_us_5a6d1759e4b01fbbefb25ea5

In an interview with Piers Morgan set to air Sunday, Trump calls the initial U.S. decision to lift a ban on trophy imports “terrible.”

In an interview with Piers Morgan set to air Sunday night in the U.K., President Donald Trump used the word “terrible” to describe the initial decision last year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to overturn an Obama era ban on the import of elephant trophies.

Trump also says he does not believe the substantial fees that hunters pay to hunt elephants and other species actually go toward conservation efforts, as is often claimed, and instead are pocketed by government officials in other countries.

Trump confirms that the ban on importing elephant trophies from the African nations of Zimbabwe and Zambia will remain in place. That was not clear after he initially put the ban reversal on hold, pending further study.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, overseen by Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke, announced on Nov. 15 that it was rescinding an Obama administration ban on the import of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia, saying money generated by the hunting goes toward conservation efforts.

“Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,” the service said.

But the announcement on reversing the ban was met with scathing criticism from both the left and right. Powerful conservative media figures like Michael Savage and Laura Ingraham criticized Trump for the decision and called on him to keep the ban in place. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres announced a campaign to persuade Trump to maintain the ban that quickly went viral through the hashtag #BeKindToElephants.

On Nov. 17 Trump tweeted, “Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!”

Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!

The announcement that he was putting the reversal on hold shocked many, primarily because his two eldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, are both avid hunters and have been criticized for hunting wildlife in Africa.

Trump also is closely aligned with the National Rifle Association, which strongly lobbies for trophy hunting rights. Two days after he made that announcement, he tweeted, “Big-game trophy decision will be announced next week but will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal.”

Big-game trophy decision will be announced next week but will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal.

That tweet led some to believe the ban would remain in place but no further announcement was made as promised.

In his comments to Morgan, Trump said, “Well, I changed it,” referring to reversing the move to end the ban.

He continued: “I didn’t want elephants killed and stuffed and have the tusks brought back into this [country] and people can talk all they want about preservation and all of the things that they’re saying where money goes towards ― well, money WAS going ― in that case, going to a government which was probably taking the money, OK? I turned that order around. You know, that was an order. I totally turned it around. Were you shocked that I did it?”

Morgan: “I was surprised.”

Trump: “I thought it was terrible. That was done by a very high level government person. As soon as I heard about it, I turned it around. That same day ― not even a day went by. No, I was not believing in [the conservation argument].”

The interview with Morgan is Trump’s first major sit-down interview with a non-U.S. television network and airs at 10 p.m. Sunday on ITV.

Hunter Arrested After Killing His Wife For Not Given Him Enough Meat

[Not a long article, but it says it all.] article by Cholo Brooks

 

 http://gnnliberia.com/2017/08/21/hunter-arrested-killing-wife-death-not-given-enough-meat/

Police in central Liberia, Gbarnga, Bong County has announced the arrest of a hunter early Monday morning who killed his wife three months ago after fleeing the County to seek safe heaven at the Liberia/Guinea border.

According to a Correspondent of Liberian Broadcasting Corporation (LBS), the man in question has been at large after he killed his wife for not given him enough meat in his bowl, a situation; the Correspondent said over the past months has created fear in residents of the County.

The Commander of the Gbarnga Police Detachment, according to the LBS Correspondent has also confirmed the arrest of the alleged murderer and currently placed behind bars awaiting trial.

C/R: Farmer, 32, Shot Dead By Hunter

http://starrfmonline.com/2017/08/19/cr-farmer-32-shot-dead-by-hunter/

A thirty- two-year-old farmer has been shot dead at Warabeba, a suburb of Ayensudo in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem Municipality of the Central region.

The farmer and father of two, Atta Panin was allegedly shot dead by his friend Kofi Benya, who is a hunter.

The incident happened after the farmer went to the hunter’s house to demand a gun he had given him for his hunting expeditions.

The two had agreed to share the booty from the hunting expedition but the accused is said to have failed to honour his part of the agreement as he kept all the proceeds to himself; a situation which didn’t go down well with the deceased .

The accused is said to have entered his room to grab another gun which he used to shoot the farmer and bolted afterwards.

The farmer was subsequently rushed to the Central regional hospital by some residents who heard the gun shot.

The youth of the town upon hearing of the death of the farmer moved in to burn down the house of the accused in the town.

The case has since been filed with the Elmina police who are on a manhunt for the accused.

Boycott the film “Trophy”

Resharing our message below regarding the film Trophy, which we urge you not to watch.

Image may contain: 4 people, text
CompassionWorks International

Tomorrow, CNN broadcasts the film “Trophy”, a pro-trophy hunting film.

The film was initially presented to CWI as a balanced look at trophy hunting. For that reason, we gave an interview for the film. Executive Director Carrie LeBlanc appears in Trophy, as one of only two primary dissenting voices against trophy hunting.

When we saw the completed film last fall, we were horrified. As it turns out, the films director manipulated and used an anti-trophy hunting protest we held in Las Vegas to their own ends and put a trophy hunter amongst our protesters to provoke response.

Trophy attempts, poorly, to make trophy hunters seem like sympathetic figures, instead of the killers they are.

While we are unhappy to be featured in a pro-trophy hunting film, we are glad to be a voice for the animals.

We encourage you to contact CNN and express your disgust that they would show a pro-trophy hunting film.

We also encourage you, particularly if you are a sensitive viewer, to opt NOT to watch Trophy. There are numerous instances of the brutal killing of animals, including an elephant, by trophy hunters.

Thank you for speaking out against evil trophy hunting. notyourtrophy.org

In Tamil Nadu, 47 of 53 waterbird species are hunted to feed a growing illegal demand for wild meat

https://scroll.in/article/848003/in-tamil-nadu-47-of-53-waterbird-species-are-hunted-to-feed-a-growing-illegal-demand-for-wild-meat

Large-scale hunting is leading to a decline in the diversity of waterbirds in the state, say researchers.

Spotting a bar-headed goose, a Eurasian spoonbill or a painted stork in the wetlands of Tamil Nadu is becoming increasingly difficult because of the rampant illegal hunting of waterbirds. The hunting, at scales not mapped before, is triggered by demand from the market for wild meat and not subsistence hunting by a few, a new study by researchers at the Nature Conservation Foundation in Mysuru has found.

The researchers studied 27 wetlands in Tamil Nadu’s Kancheepuram district and interviewed 272 hunters over six months. Recording around 53 waterbird species across the wetlands during eight months of fieldwork in 2013 and 2014, they found that 47 species were being hunted, especially large and medium-sized birds. They also held that the hunting had contributed to a decline in the diversity of species found in the region, especially medium-sized insectivorous birds.

The study, based on a survey of hunters, concluded that the illegal hunting of waterbirds was market-driven and had grown in scale in the last 10 years. This contradicts previous findings by researchers that hunting is usually taken up by certain communities on a small scale purely for subsistence. Around 73.5% of the respondents reported monetary gain as the primary motive for hunting, sport and subsistence being the other reasons.

“The conclusions were in contrast to what we expected,” said Ramesh Ramachandran, an MSc student in wildlife biology and conservation at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bengaluru, who undertook this study as part of his dissertation. “We thought this was a traditional practice that had been there for hundreds of years. But it is a total commercialised mafia.”

The hunting of wild animals driven by a demand for wild meat, which is seen as exotic by some in the richer strata of society, is documented in some other parts of the country, particularly the tribal belts of Central India and the North East, but this research shows the same trend prevailing in Tamil Nadu as well.

Policeman to conservationist

Before taking up wildlife conservation studies, Ramachandran was a policeman in Karnataka and a member of a special cell tracking wildlife crime. “Because of his background, he brings an interesting viewpoint to conservation,” said KS Gopi Sundar, his mentor and scientist at the Cranes and Wetlands Programme of the Nature Conservation Foundation.

Ramachandran narrowed down his area of study to Kancheepuram, which has a large number of lakes and waterbodies, including two protected bird sanctuaries – Vedanthangal and Karikili.

Hunters in Kancheepuram make four to five hunting trips in a month, which earns them around Rs 13,000.
Hunters in Kancheepuram make four to five hunting trips in a month, which earns them around Rs 13,000.

His police training helped him track down communities that hunted wild birds and traded in their meat. He said he worked at winning their trust before presenting them with the questionnaire for the study. With a team of wildlife enthusiasts and informants, he visited them several times to get them to participate in the study.

At the end of their research, the team found that 92% of the hunting was done using locally crafted single-barrel muzzle-loading guns. A hunter on average went out four or five times a month and each trip yielded around 21 birds, which earned him an average monthly income of around Rs 13,000. The most commonly traded meat was that of the pond heron.

The market

Around 71% of the respondents reported an increase in the demand for waterbird meat for consumption over the past decade. And the study found two distinct markets existing for the wild meat. It was sold at a fixed time slot, between 6 pm and 8 pm, to buyers who specifically sought it out. The remaining meat then made its way to restaurants and roadside food stalls near liquor shops where it was sold at much lower rates.

Around 75% of the hunters interviewed reported that they supplied birds to 426 eateries in the area. However, out of the 681 eateries surveyed, only eight acknowledged serving wild waterbird meat.

“It is significant that there is a market at work which sustains this trade and it stays under the radar,” said Ravinder Singh Bhalla of the Foundation for Ecological Research, Advocacy and Learning in Tamil Nadu. He added that hunting as a paid hobby was more prevalent than documentation suggested, since it was usually kept under wraps.

“What is remarkable is how this practice has stayed undocumented for what appears to be decades,” said Bhalla. “It would be too simplistic to attribute this to collusion by authorities alone. Social exclusion and lack of economic opportunities combined with cultural practices clearly have a role to play in this choice of livelihood by the hunters.”

Among the waterbirds that are being hunted are many migratory species, which India is bound to protect under the international Convention on Migratory Species. “Yet these are being sold on national highways,” said Ajith Kumar of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “A suitable method should be devised for controlling this, not just by forest officials harassing these communities and putting a few of them behind bars.”

The illegally hunted waterbirds are sold in the market at a fixed time slot – between 6 pm and 8 pm – and served at roadside restaurants and food stalls.
The illegally hunted waterbirds are sold in the market at a fixed time slot – between 6 pm and 8 pm – and served at roadside restaurants and food stalls.

Neglected field of study

The study has also brought to light the lack of research on wetland ecology, which Gopi Sundar claims is an extremely nascent science.

“Serious work that asks important questions has been largely missing,” the Nature Conservation Foundation scientist said. He pointed out that the majority of large waterbirds are found outside protected areas whereas much of ecological research is focused on protected forest areas.

So far, studies in the area of wetland ecology have dealt with ecological parameters such as the size of water bodies and vegetation, and their relationship with the populations and diversity of birds. This study is the first to have gathered information on hunting practices and factored these into trends of community structures and counts of bird species in each wetland, the researchers said. “This kind of analysis has never been done anywhere in the world,” said Gopi Sundar.

The study found that hunters preferred large and medium-sized waterbirds.
The study found that hunters preferred large and medium-sized waterbirds.