Rhinos In Mozambique Likely Extinct, Expert Says; Elephants May Be Next

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/02/rhinos-mozambique-extinct_n_3200840.html

JOHANNESBURG — Mozambique’s rhinoceros population was wiped out more than a century ago by big game hunters. Reconstituted several years ago, the beasts again are on the brink of vanishing from the country by poachers seeking their horns for sale in Asia.

A leading expert told The Associated Press that the last rhino in the southern African nation has been killed. The warden of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park – the only place where the horned behemoths lived in Mozambique – also says poachers have wiped out the rhinos. Mozambique’s conservation director believes a few may remain.

Elephants also could vanish in Mozambique soon, the warden of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, Antonio Abacar, told AP. He said game rangers have been aiding poachers, and 30 of the park’s 100 rangers will appear in court soon.

“We caught some of them red-handed while directing poachers to a rhino area,” Abacar said.

A game ranger arrested for helping poachers in Mozambique’s northern Niassa Game Reserve said on Mozambican Television TVM last week that he was paid 2,500 meticais (about $80) to direct poachers to areas with elephants and rhinos. Game rangers are paid between 2,000 and 3,000 meticais ($64 to $96) a month.

While guilty rangers will lose their jobs, the courts serve as little deterrent to the poachers: killing wildlife and trading in illegal rhino horn and elephant tusks are only misdemeanors in Mozambique.

“Their legal system is far from adequate and an individual found guilty is given a slap on the wrist and then they say `OK. Give me my horn back,'” said Michael H. Knight, chairman of the African Rhino Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission.

A meeting of the group in February reported there might, possibly, be one white rhino left in Mozambique and no black rhinos at all, Knight said.

According to Abacar: “We have already announced the extinction of the rhino population in Limpopo National Park.”

But Bartolomeu Soto, director of Mozambique’s transfrontier conservation unit, told the AP, “We believe we still have rhinos, though we don’t know how many.”

Mozambican news reports have said the last 15 rhinos in the park were slaughtered in the past month, but park officials said those reports were wrong. Soto said the misunderstanding had arisen over Abacar’s statement to journalists that he had not seen a rhino in the three months since he was put in charge of the large park.

The only official figure available for rhino deaths is that 17 of their carcasses were found in the park in 2010, Soto said. He said officials believe poaching must be taking place because rhino horn and elephant tusks carried by Asian smugglers are regularly seized at Mozambique’s ports, although at least some of the contraband could be from animals killed by Mozambican poachers in neighboring South Africa. This week a person was arrested at the airport of the capital, Maputo, in possession of nine rhino horns, Soto said.

The price of rhino horn has overtaken the price of gold as demand has burgeoned in Asian countries, mainly China and Vietnam, where consumers wrongly believe that the horn – made of the same substance as fingernails – has powerful healing properties. Chinese traditional medicine prescribes it for everything from typhoid, infant convulsions and fever to an antidote for poison and to relieve arthritis and cure possessions by the devil. Syndicates from Vietnam, China, South Korea and Thailand have been identified as being involved in the trafficking.

Knight said rhinos first vanished from Mozambique around the turn of the last century, in the age of the big white hunters, when the animals also nearly disappeared in South Africa, now home to 90 percent of Africa’s estimated 20,000 white rhinos and 4,880 black rhinos.

In 2002, leaders of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe agreed to establish a transfrontier park straddling their borders and covering some 35,000 square kilometers (13,514 square miles) of the best established wildlife areas in southern Africa with South Africa’s famed Kruger National Park and Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park. It is funded by several international wildlife organizations and the European Union.

Soto said some 5,000 animals of various species were moved from South Africa to Mozambique, including the first 12 rhinos to roam in Mozambique in a century.

In 2006, South Africa removed some 50 kilometers (30 miles) of fence between Kruger and Limpopo National Park. Soto said the entire 200 kilometers (125 miles) of fence was not removed because Mozambique still is working to resettle some 6,000 people living in the park.

A second phase was to include two other Mozambican parks, allowing the transfrontier park to extend over 100,000 square kilometers (39,000 square miles) that would make it “the world’s largest animal kingdom,” according to the South African Peace Parks Foundation.

Those plans now are in danger, as is the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. Knight said South African officials are even discussing rebuilding their fence with Mozambique.

South African officials say their country has lost 273 rhinos to poachers so far this year. They say most have been killed by Mozambicans who cross into Kruger Park. Poachers killed 668 rhinos in South Africa last year.

The slaughter continues with the number of deaths increasing even though South Africa has declared war on rhino poachers and for two years has deployed soldiers and police in Kruger, a vast park which is the size of Israel.

Soto said Mozambique’s government has been working since 2009 on a comprehensive reform of environmental laws involving consultations with all stakeholders. He said he expects the draft legislation to be presented to parliament soon. It includes criminalizing the shooting of wildlife and would impose mandatory prison sentences on offenders.

But it will come too late to save the last of the rhinos in Mozambique.

___

Associated Press writer Emmanuel Camillo contributed to this report from Maputo, Mozambique.

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Extinction of your favorite animal more real than you realize

Extinction of your favorite animal more real than you realize

This week a study published in Science Advances has suggested that the extinction of some of the world’s most beloved animals is a clear and present danger. Fourty-four of the 74 largest terrestrial herbivores are now threatened with extinction, 12 of them “critically endangered” or extinct in the wild. Many of the species in decline, suggests the study, “are poorly known scientifically, and [are] badly in need of basic ecological research.” Not only will they die unless we do something, we’ll never know what they are all about in the first place.

Below you’ll see a set of two maps. The map at the top shows areas where large herbivore species exist. The cool colors show places where large herbivores exist, but only a handful of species.

The warmer the color, the more species of large herbivore exist.

F1.large-1

The second map shows where large herbivores are threatened. Save South America, most areas with very few large herbivore species seem to be less threatened.

The following species are currently threatened:
• African elephant (VU)
• Asian elephant (EN)
• Hippopotamus (VU)
• Pygmy hippopotamus (EN)
• Eastern gorilla (EN)
• Western gorilla (EN)
• Malayan tapir (VU)
• Baird’s tapir (EN)
• Lowland tapir (VU)
• Mountain tapir (EN)
• Philippine warty pig (VU)
• Oliver’s warty pig (EN)
• Visayan warty pig (CR)
• Palawan bearded pig (VU)
• Bearded pig (VU)
• Indian rhinoceros (CR)
• Javan rhinoceros (CR)
• Sumatran rhinoceros (CR)
• Black rhinoceros (CR)
• Grevy’s zebra (EN)
• Mountain zebra (VU)
• African wild ass (CR)
• Przewalski’s horse (EN)
• Asiatic wild ass (CR)
• Sambar (VU)
• Barasingha (VU)
• Père David’s deer (EW)
• White-lipped deer (VU)
• Bactrian camel (CR)
• Indian water buffalo (EN)
• Gaur (VU)
• Kouprey (CR)
• European bison (VU)
• Wild yak (VU)
• Banteng (EN)
• Takin (VU)
• Lowland anoa (EN)
• Tamaraw (CR)
• Mountain nyala (EN)
• Scimitar-horned oryx (EW)
• Mountain anoa (EN)
• Sumatran serow (VU)
• Walia ibex (EN)

This study shows three of the best-known species whose populations are contracting as we speak. These herbivores are the African Elephant, the Common Hippopotamus (not common for long), and the Black Rhinoceros.

F3.large

The most recent range polygons for the rhino are not shown here because of “recent poaching pressure.”

The change in population and possibility of extinction in all of these areas is due largely to one (or more) of four elements. Exploitation (hunting), Livestock (problems therein), Land-use change, and Conflict – as in Civil Unrest between warring human factions.

oops

Above you’ll see the percentages of large herbivore species threatened based on these four major threat categories.

NOTE: The total here adds up to more than 100% because each large herbivore may have more than one existing threat.

Photo Credits: Elephant and hippopotamus (K. Everatt), rhinoceros (G. Kerley).

You can see the full study in Science Advances 01 May 2015: Vol. 1, no. 4, e1400103. Code DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400103. Authored by William J. Ripple, Thomas M. Newsome, Christopher Wolf, Rodolfo Dirzo, Kristoffer T. Everatt, Mauro Galetti, Matt W. Hayward, Graham I. H. Kerley, Taal Levi, Peter A. Lindsey, David W. Macdonald, Yadvinder Malhi, Luke E. Painter, Christopher J. Sandom, John Terborgh, and Blaire Van Valkenburgh.

The title of the paper this information comes from is “Collapse of the world’s largest herbivores”. This paper is available now for further review – again, from Science Advances.

The Limits to Human Carrying-Capacity

Harvard archeologist Steven Le Blanc writes in “War or Peace for the Future,” the final chapter of his book, Constant Battles; Why We Fight (pg. 224), “…let’s examine the myths of a peaceful past and of humans living in ecological balance and contrast them with a careful assessment of reality that turns the more traditional view on its head. These myths assume that for long periods of time the earliest humans were simple foragers [hunter-gatherers] who lived in harmony with nature, had few wants, and were able to control their populations. When agriculture was developed, populations grew, but farmers managed to remain inherent environmentalist and continued to avoid the environment. Then finally, but not until the rise of complex societies, we humans lost our ability to live in ecological balance. At that point, the appealing story of millions of years of peaceful coexistence with nature turns ugly, and violent, environmentally threatened societies—in particular Western European society—command a starring role. As Western societies spread or affected much of the planet, the myth continues, warfare and environmental degradation spread like an infectious disease, engulfing most of the world—except where vestigial remains of this peaceful, ecologically balanced existence survived among such groups as the !Kung [bushmen], Australian aborigines, Eskimos, Siriono, and the like. In other words, noble Cro-Magnon humans were replaced by warlike, modern imperialists.

“Reality paints a different picture, one with many opportunities for peace and ecological harmony, but it is a portrait of opportunities lost. Looking back through history, several radical changes in human societies occurred, and each change provided, in theory, an opportunity to improve the population-ecological balance and usher in a new era of peace. Each time one of these dramatic changes took place, peace and ecological balance remained elusive.

“The first of these transformations was becoming human. As proto-humans became fully human beings and gained superior intelligence, language, and cultural norms, these initial human foragers were hardly peaceful. Greater intelligence did not result in greater peacefulness. Although some ecologically benign behaviors did develop, they were never effective enough to regulate population growth and to establish a peaceful, stable system. Except in the harshest environments, forager populations grew, reaching the carrying-capacity limit, and then competed for resources. For more than a million years, humans lived in a precarious balance between population growth and the limitations and variability of the environment. Periodic population increases that could not be sustained by an ever-changing resource base lead to chronic starvation, infanticide, and warfare. These early people modified the environment by such means as fire and were no more ‘environmentalists’ than their short-term goals dictated. Since their numbers, by necessity, low, and their technology limited, the impact of the first foragers was relatively minor.

“Beginning around ten thousand to twelve thousand years ago, people began to farm in the Middle East, China, and later in Africa and Central and South America. This new situation might have resulted in a peaceful world. Farmers were able to get far more food from an acre of land than had ever before been possible, and there was potential for plenty for all—but the balance was not maintained. Farmers could reproduce at rates far beyond those of foragers, and they spread quickly over much of Earth. In spite of its potential, farming itself solved no problems. The benefits of every new plant domesticated, every new animal tamed, and every new technology invented were quickly consumed by the growing number of people such advances could additionally support. Horticulture and domestic animals caused environmental degradation that went way beyond the effects of just the higher population numbers. More people translated into more degradation. In any given region, in spite of efforts to control growth or to develop new foods and technologies, the population soon grew to stress the resources once again. Malnutrition, if not starvation, and even more intense and chronic warfare were common among the early farmers.

“Once again, a major social transformation occurred. Complex societies developed. The leadership in these societies had the mechanisms and potential ability to control population growth and to force people to be more ecologically sensitive. Along with more complex societies came complex technologies. The chiefdoms and early states had developed enough technology to harm the world’s environment at levels and rates not seen before. The result was even more degradation of the environment. Although some efforts were made to control population growth, such mechanisms were always far from fully successful, and resource stress was as common as ever.”      etc…

graph

Black Rhino Officially Extinct

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http://www.11alive.com/news/article/312002/40/Western-black-rhino-officially-declared-extinct

LONDON (CNN) — Africa’s western black rhino is now officially extinct according the latest review of animals and plants by the world’s largest conservation network.

The subspecies of the black rhino — which is classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species — was last seen in western Africa in 2006.

The IUCN warns that other rhinos could follow saying Africa’s northern white rhino is “teetering on the brink of extinction” while Asia’s Javan rhino is “making its last stand” due to continued poaching and lack of conservation.

“In the case of the western black rhino and the northern white rhino the situation could have had very different results if the suggested conservation measures had been implemented,” Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN species survival commission said in a statement.

“These measures must be strengthened now, specifically managing habitats in order to improve performance, preventing other rhinos from fading into extinction,” Stuart added.

The IUCN points to conservation efforts which have paid off for the southern white rhino subspecies which have seen populations rise from less than 100 at the end of the 19th century to an estimated wild population of 20,000 today.

Another success can be seen with the Przewalski’s Horse which was listed as “extinct in the wild” in 1996 but now, thanks to a captive breeding program, has an estimated population of 300.

The latest update to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species reviews more than 60,000 species, concluding that 25% of mammals on the list are at risk of extinction.

Many plants are also under threat, say the IUCN.

Populations of Chinese fir, a conifer which was once widespread throughout China and Vietnam, is being threatened by the expansion of intensive agriculture according to the IUCN.

A type of yew tree (taxus contorta) found in Asia which is used to produce Taxol (a chemotherapy drug) has been reclassified from “vulnerable” to “endangered” on the IUCN Red List, as has the Coco de Mer — a palm tree found in the Seychelles islands — which is at risk from fires and illegal harvesting of its kernels.

Recent studies of 79 tropical plants in the Indian Ocean archipelago revealed that more than three quarters of them were at risk of extinction.

In the oceans, the IUCN reports that five out of eight tuna species are now “threatened” or “near threatened,” while 26 recently-discovered amphibians have been added to the Red List including the “blessed poison frog” (classified as vulnerable) while the “summers’ poison frog” is endangered.

“This update offers both good and bad news on the status of many species around the world,” Jane Smart, director of IUCN’s global species program said in a statement.

“We have the knowledge that conservation works if executed in a timely manner, yet, without strong political will in combination with targeted efforts and resources, the wonders of nature and the services it provides can be lost forever.”

Montana’s wolf population drops

http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/local/2015/04/03/montanas-wolf-population-drops/25248731/?fb_ref=Default

by Tribune Staff 12:02 p.m. MDT April 3, 2015

Montana’s verified wolf population declined by 73, or 12 percent, last year while livestock depredations by wolves continued to decline, dropping about 46 percent from 2013.

The minimum number of wolves counted by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks at the end of 2014 was 554 compared to a minimum of 627 wolves counted at the end of 2013 according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park’s annual wolf conservation and management report.

Montana’s minimum wolf packs were counted at 134, compared to 152 last year, while breeding pairs increased to 33 from 28 counted last year.

The minimum wolf count is the number of wolves actually verified by FWP wolf specialists. The actual number of wolves is estimated to be 27 percent to 37 percent higher than the minimum count. FWP’s complete report is available online at fwp.mt.gov.

Overall, FWP Director Jeff Hagener said Montana’s wolf population continues to be very healthy and far above federal recovery goals.

“Among the best news is that confirmed wolf depredations on livestock again took a significant drop in 2014,” Hagener said.

Confirmed livestock depredations because of wolves included 35 cattle, six sheep and one horse in 2014, down 46 percent from 2013 losses of 50 cattle, 24 sheep, three horses and one goat. Cattle losses in 2014 were the lowest recorded in the past eight years.

The decline in wolf depredations continues a general downward trend that began in 2009.

“For FWP, and we hope for others, it reinforces the fact that we not only have more tools for managing wolf populations, but that we’re applying them effectively,” Hagener said. “One of our top priorities is to minimize livestock losses, and we think we’re continuing to make a positive impact there.”

The continuing decrease in livestock depredations over the past four years may be a result of several factors including targeted wolf depredation responses in cooperation with USDA Wildlife Services, and the effects of wolf harvest by hunters and trappers.

In the 2014 calendar portion of the 2014-15 hunting/trapping season, 213 were taken by hunters and trappers compared to 231 taken in the 2013 calendar portion of the 2013-14 season.

The total number of known wolf mortalities during 2014 was 308, down from 335 in 2013, with 301 of these mortalities being human-related, including 213 legal harvests, 57 control actions to further reduce livestock depredations (down from 75 in 2013), 11 vehicle strikes, 10 illegal killings, six killed under the newly-enacted Montana State Senate Bill 200, two capture-related mortalities, one euthanized because of poor health and one legal tribal harvest. In addition, one wolf died of natural causes and six of unknown causes.

“Montana’s wolf management program seeks to manage wolves just like we do other wildlife — in balance with their habitat, with other wildlife species and with the people who live here,” Hagener said.

For the purpose of reporting minimum counts to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana is divided into three areas that reflect the former gray wolf federal recovery zones. The three zones cover the entire state and include more than one FWP region. Following is a summary of the 2014 minimum counts verified for those areas:

In the “Northwest Montana” area, counts showed a minimum of 338 wolves in 91 verified packs and 17 breeding pairs, compared to 412, 104, and 16, respectively, in 2013.

In the Montana portion of the “Central Idaho” area counts verified a minimum of 94 wolves in 20 packs, with six breeding pairs, compared to the 2013 counts of 123, 26, and seven respectively.

The Montana portion of the “Greater Yellowstone” counts include a minimum of 122 wolves in 23 packs, and 11 breeding pairs, compared to 132, 22, and five, respectively in 2013.

The recovery of the wolf in the northern Rockies remains one of the fastest endangered species comebacks on record. In the mid-1990s, to hasten the overall pace of wolf recovery in the Northern Rockies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released 66 wolves into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho. FWP began monitoring the wolf population, and managing livestock conflicts in 2004. After several court challenges wolves were taken off the Endangered Species list in 2011.

The delisting of wolves in 2011 allows Montana to manage wolves in a manner similar to how bears, mountain lions and other wildlife species are managed, which is guided by state management plans, administrative rules and laws.

copyrighted wolf in river

Could Fewer Wolf Kills Mean Fewer Wolves?

Trappers in Montana have killed 77 gray wolves and hunters have shot 127 so far this winter — a total of 204 animals — as the season for the animals nears its end.copyrighted wolf in river

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim said the final tally for this winter’s wolf harvest is expected to fall short of the 230 wolves killed in the 2013-2014 season.

The trapping season closed Feb. 28, and Montana’s rifle hunting season for gray wolves ends March 15.

Six of the predators have been killed by landowners, under a new state law that allows wolves to be killed if they are considered a potential threat to livestock or human safety.

In neighboring, Idaho hunters have shot 113 of the animals so far this winter and trappers have killed 92.

The state’s total harvest of 205 wolves is well short of the prior year’s total of 302 animals killed.

Idaho’s wolf season ends March 31 for most of the state but continues year-round in some areas.

Wyoming did not have a wolf hunting season this winter. After losing their federal protections across the Northern Rockies in 2011 and 2012, wolves were put back on the endangered species list in Wyoming in September under a court order.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sided with wildlife advocates who said Wyoming’s declaration of wolves as unprotected predators that could be shot on sight in most of the state afforded insufficient protection.

Legislation pending before Congress would nullify the judge’s decision.

There were 1,691 wolves in the Northern Rockies at the end of 2013, the most recent data available.

http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/winter-wolf-harvests-trailing-in-northern-rockies-most-hunting-trapping/article_d585057d-f9b6-50f1-b661-e5e4f6be8006.html

Essential Species Quiz

Here is a short multiple-choice quiz to test your knowledge of our fellow animals.

Instructions: Choose the species that best fit the descriptions below.

Note: Although some may share a few of the characteristics, they must meet all the criteria listed in order to qualify as a correct answer.

1. Which two species fit the following description?

  • Highly social
  • Live in established communities
  • Master planners and builders of complex, interconnected dwellings
  • Have a language
  • Can readily learn and invent words
  • Greet one another by kissing

A. Humans

B. Prairie Dogs

C. Dolphins

D. Penguins

Answer:  A. and B

2. Which two species fit the following description?

  • Practice communal care of the youngsters on their block
  • Beneficial to others who share their turf
  • Essential to the health of their environment
  • Without them an ecosystem unravels
  • Have been reduced to a tiny portion of their original population
  • Vegetarian

A. Humans

B. Prairie Dogs

C. Bison

D. Hyenas

Answer:  B. and C.

3. Which two species fit the following description?

  • Out of control pest
  • Multiplying at a phenomenal pace
  • Physically crowding all other life forms off the face of the earth
  • Characterized by a swellheaded sense of superiority
  • Convinced they are of far greater significance than any other being
  • Nonessential in nature’s scheme

A. Humans

B. Prairie Dogs

C. Cockroaches

D. Sewer Rats

Answer:  Sorry, trick question; the only species fitting the criteria is A.

If this seems a harsh assessment of the human race or a tad bit misanthropic, remember, we’re talking about the species that single-handedly and with malice aforethought blasted, burned and poisoned the passenger pigeon (at one time the most numerous bird on the entire planet) to extinction and has nearly wiped out the blue whale (by far the largest animal the world has ever known). Add to those crowning achievements the near-total riddance of the world’s prairie dogs, thereby putting the squeeze on practically all their grassland comrades, and you can start to see where this sort of disrelish might be coming from.

When the dust settles on man’s reign of terror, he will be best remembered as an egomaniacal mutant carnivorous ape who squandered nature’s gifts and goose-stepped on towards mass extinction, in spite of warnings from historians and scientists and pleas from the caring few…

____________________

The preceding was an excert from the book, Exposing the Big Game.

Groups Petition to Reclassify Gray Wolves to Threatened Status under Endangered Species Act

I haven’t had a chance to look into this yet, but this line, from an article entitled, “Finding Balance in the Wolf Wars” in the Huffington Post caught my eye: “Our plan respects the purpose and intent of the Endangered Species Act but gives a nod to the folks who want more active control options for wolves, especially ranchers,”

The wolf is in no way “recovered” in the lower 48; they should never have been downgraded from endangered. In 1885 5,500 wolves were killed in Montana alone. Now there’s less than 5,000 in the entire country…

copyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles

Does anyone have any insights on this they want to share?

 

http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2015/01/esa-threatened-gray-wolves-012715.html

 

January 27, 2015

 

Proposal presents a reasonable alternative to congressional delisting and a path to national recovery

Animal protection and conservation organizations petitioned  the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reclassify gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act as threatened throughout the contiguous United States, with the exception of the Mexican gray wolf which remains listed as endangered. If adopted, the proposal would continue federal oversight and funding of wolf recovery efforts and encourage development of a national recovery plan for the species, but would also give the Fish and Wildlife Service regulatory flexibility to permit state and local wildlife managers to address specific wolf conflicts.

Gray wolves are currently protected as endangered throughout their range in the lower 48 states, except in Minnesota where they are listed as threatened and in Montana, Idaho and eastern Oregon and Washington where they have no Endangered Species Act protections. Some members of Congress are advocating for legislation to remove all protections for wolves under federal law by delisting the animal under the Endangered Species Act. The petition proposes an alternative path to finalizing wolf recovery based on the best available science, rather than politics and fear, and would help to find a balanced middle ground on a controversial issue that has been battled out in the courts and in states with diverse views among stakeholders on wolf conservation.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said: “Several states have badly failed in their management of wolves, and their brand of reckless trapping, trophy hunting, and even hound hunting just has not been supported by the courts or by the American people. We do, however, understand the fears that some ranchers have about wolves, and we believe that maintaining federal protections while allowing more active management of human-wolf conflicts achieves the right balance for all key stakeholders and is consistent with the law.”

Wolf populations are still recovering from decades of persecution—government sponsored bounty programs resulted in mass extermination of wolves at the beginning of the last century, and the species was nearly eliminated from the landscape of the lower 48 states. Wolf number have increased substantially where the Endangered Species Act has been implemented, but recovery is still not complete, as the species only occupies as little as 5 percent of its historic range, and human-caused mortality continues to constitute the majority of documented wolf deaths.

Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said: “A Congressional end run around science and the Endangered Species Act will create more controversy and put wolves and the law itself in jeopardy. The better path is to downlist wolves to threatened, replace the failed piecemeal efforts of the past with a new science-based national recovery strategy,and bring communities together to determine how wolves will be returned to and managed in places where they once lived, like the Adirondacks, southern Rocky Mountains, Cascades and Sierra Nevada.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s piecemeal efforts to delist gray wolves in the northern Rockies and western Great Lakes have been roundly criticized by scientists and repeatedly rejected by multiple federal courts. In addition to denouncing the Service’s fragmented approach to wolf recovery, courts have recognized that several states have recklessly attempted to quickly and dramatically reduce wolf numbers through unnecessary and cruel hunting and trapping programs. The public does not support recreational and commercial killing of wolves, as evidenced by the recent decision by Michigan voters in the November 2014 election to reject sport hunting of wolves. Wolves are inedible, and only killed for their heads or fur.

Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, said: “Complex conservation problems require sophisticated solutions. The history of wolf protection in America is riddled with vitriolic conflict and shortsightedness and it is time for a coordinated, forward-thinking approach that removes the most barbaric treatment of this iconic species and focuses on the long-term viability of wolf populations throughout the country.”

The threatened listing proposed by the petition would promote continued recovery of the species at a national level so that it is not left perpetually at the doorstep of extinction. A threatened listing would also permit the Fish and Wildlife Service some regulatory flexibility to work with state and local wildlife managers to appropriately address wolf conflicts, including depredation of livestock.

Groups filing the petition include national organizations and those based in wolf range states:

Born Free USA

Center for Biological Diversity

Detroit Audubon

Detroit Zoological Society

The Fund for Animals

Friends of Animals and Their Environment

Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf

Help Our Wolves Live

Howling for Wolves

The Humane Society of the United States

Justice for Wolves

Midwest Environmental Advocates

Minnesota Humane Society

Minnesota Voters for Animal Protection

National Wolfwatcher Coalition

Northwoods Alliance

Predator Defense

Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Wildlife Public Trust and Coexistence

Wildwoods (Minnesota)

Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin

 

Also on: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wayne-pacelle/finding-balance-in-the-wo_b_6558340.html

Animals Hunted to Extinction

Read more: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/photos/13-animals-hunted-to-extinction/caribbean-monk-seal#ixzz3OjWGvZwT

Hunting Causing Extinctions in Indonesia

Indonesia’s silent wildlife killer: hunting

Commentary by Erik Meijaard, the Borneo Futures initiative
December 26, 2014

By and large, Indonesia is a peaceful country. In fact, on the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime’s list of homicide rates, Indonesia ranks number 10, making Indonesians one of the least murderous people on Earth. A ban on gun ownership probably helps, although obviously there are many other ways to snuff out another person. Maybe Indonesia’s general tendency to avoid conflict helps, too.

Whatever the reason why Indonesians are relatively unlikely to kill each other, such favors are not extended to Indonesia’s non-human wildlife. The relative safety of Indonesia’s people does not guarantee similar security for its animals.

Wildlife killing in Indonesia seems to be at an all-time high. In fact, a recent study published in the respected journal Conservation Biology indicates that on the island of Borneo, wildlife killing is now a bigger conservation threat than commercial logging.

Now such a statement is bound to generate a lot of derision. Many conservation organizations, scientists, as well as the government authorities will pooh-pooh the idea that hunting impacts are that disastrous. Why that is, I want to explore further.

But first, back to the study. The research, led by Jedediah Brodie of the University of British Columbia, deployed a series of camera traps across a gradient of disturbed areas to investigate direct and indirect impacts on wildlife. Although both hunting and new logging reduced the number of species in a given area, there was evidence that some wildlife eventually returned to selectively logged areas. This confirms analyses that my colleagues and I published in the Life after Logging book, several years ago.

The important finding is that the impacts of logging were relatively transient. Hunting pressure on the other hand was continual. Overall, hunting adversely impacted 87 percent of the species in the study.


Wild pig in a snare in Aceh, Sumatra. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

These findings resonate with other hunting studies that I have conducted over the years on Borneo.

First, our Borneo-wide interview surveys conducted in 2009 suggested that thousands of orangutans are killed every year. More than half of the killings resulted in the orangutan being turned into a tasty steak or orangutan stew. The killing of orangutans happens both deep inside forests and in areas that are being deforested. Especially in areas where orangutans co-occurred with nomadic hunting tribes, the orangutan went extinct ages ago. So for orangutans, the picture that hunting is a bigger threat than logging seems well supported.

To get a better idea of the number of animals that are commonly affected through hunting, I conducted another study a few years ago. Every month for one year we gave 18 households in a Dayak village in East Kalimantan a calendar on which they could mark – with stickers – the different types of animals they had caught. After one year this amounted to 3,289 animals with a combined weight of 21,125 kg. The majority were bearded pigs (81 percent of total weight), deer (8 percent) and fish (6 percent). That’s about half a kilo of wildlife or fish per head of the population per day.

Now the total amount is a pretty meaningless number. What really matters is whether or not the take-off levels are sustainable. That is, can people keep harvesting at this level without species populations going extinct?

Problematically, almost no one is studying this. We can, however, get some idea about the answer when we talk to local communities. And their answer is pretty gloomy.

Pretty much any species they mention is considered to be in decline. There are fewer pigs, fewer deer, fewer monkeys, fewer orangutans, fewer fish, fewer snakes. Everything is going down. People are concerned about this, because today their meat is a free resource, but when that is gone they will have to start shopping in markets and for that they need cash. But despite their worries, no one is doing anything to change hunting habits.

Ever since I started talking to people in Kalimantan in the early 1990s about their hunting habits, I have been rather baffled by the fact that so few conservation-minded people in Indonesia show any interest in the topic, unless it concerns big conservation icons like tiger or rhino. If hunting is indeed such a big conservation problem, why are we not doing anything about it?


Cuscus being sold as meat in the Wamena market in Indonesian New Guinea. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Part of the explanation is a belief held by many conservation advocates that the ‘traditional’ people of Borneo and other tropical forest areas somehow understand the concept of sustainable hunting levels. Trust me, they don’t.

If we want to maintain fish, bird and mammal populations that are big enough to feed people in perpetuity, they will have to change their hunting and fishing habits.

Laws about killing and harvesting endangered and commercially valuable species need to be enforced. Zero-hunting zones have to be established where wildlife populations can grow. Similar no-fishing zones have proven to be very effective, if indeed enforced rigorously.

And importantly, as long as wildlife is considered a resource owned by everyone, the ‘tragedy of the commons’ will apply: no one will bother to manage the resource because nobody feels ownership or responsibility.

The empty forest syndrome – standing trees without wildlife – is staring Indonesia into the face in pretty much all forests. Which conservation organizations and government authorities have the guts to stand up and do something about it?

Surely, for such apparent non-violent, non-confrontational and chilled-out people like Indonesians, it shouldn’t be too much of a burden to also extend that peace and love to its wildlife, right? After all, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Erik Meijaard is a Jakarta-based conservation scientist.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Jakarta Globe and has been reprinted here with the permission of the author.

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