DON’T BLAME CATS FOR DESTROYING WILDLIFE

Are cats really to blame for the worldwide loss of biodiversity?

https://www.inverse.com/science/dont-blame-cats-for-destroying-wildlife-shaky-logic-is-leading-to-moral-panic

Dzurag/iStock via Getty Images PlusWILLIAM S. LYNN, ARIAN WALLACH AND FRANCISCO J. SANTIAGO-ÁVILA8.9.2020 10:00 AM

A NUMBER OF CONSERVATIONISTS CLAIM cats are a zombie apocalypse for biodiversity that need to be removed from the outdoors by “any means necessary” – coded language for shooting, trapping and poisoning. Various media outlets have portrayed cats as murderous superpredators. Australia has even declared an official “war” against cats.

Moral panics emerge when people perceive an existential threat to themselves, society or the environment. When in the grip of a moral panic, the ability to think clearly and act responsibly is compromised. While the moral panic over cats arises from valid concerns over threats to native species, it obscures the real driver: humanity’s exploitative treatment of the natural world. Crucially, errors of scientific reasoning also underwrite this false crisis.

THE (SHAKY) CASE AGAINST CATS — Conservationists and the media often claim that cats are a main contributor to a mass extinction, a catastrophic loss of species due to human activities, like habitat degradation and the killing of wildlife.

As an interdisciplinary team of scientists and ethicists studying animals in conservation, we examined this claim and found it wanting. It is true that like any other predator, cats can suppress the populations of their prey. Yet the extent of this effect is ecologically complex.

The potential impact of cats differs between urban environments, small islands and remote deserts. When humans denude regions of vegetation, small animals are particularly at risk from cats because they have no shelter in which to hide.

In a 2019 study, cat remains were found in 19.8 percent of coyote scat.jhayes44/E+ via Getty Images

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Small animals are similarly vulnerable when humans kill apex predators that normally would suppress cat densities and activity. For instance, in the U.S., cats are a favorite meal for urban coyotes, who moderate feline impact; and in Australia, dingoes hunt wild cats, which relieves pressure on native small animals.

Add in contrary evidence and the case against cats gets even shakier. For instance, in some ecological contexts, cats contribute to the conservation of endangered birds, by preying on rats and mice. There are also documented cases of coexistence between cats and native prey species.

The fact is, cats play different predatory roles in different natural and humanized landscapes. Scientists cannot assume that because cats are a problem for some wildlife in some places, they are a problem in every place.

FAULTY SCIENTIFIC REASONING — In our most recent publication in the journal Conservation Biology, we examine an error of reasoning that props up the moral panic over cats.

Scientists do not simply collect data and analyze the results. They also establish a logical argument to explain what they observe. Thus, the reasoning behind a factual claim is equally important to the observations used to make that claim. And it is this reasoning about cats where claims about their threat to global biodiversity founder. In our analysis, we found it happens because many scientists take specific, local studies and overgeneralize those findings to the world at large.

Even when specific studies are good overall, projecting the combined “results” onto the world at large can cause unscientific overgeneralizations, particularly when ecological context is ignored. It is akin to pulling a quote out of context and then assuming you understand its meaning.

WHAT’S NEXT — So how might citizens and scientists chart a way forward to a more nuanced understanding of cat ecology and conservation?

First, those examining this issue on all sides can acknowledge that both the well-being of cats and the survival of threatened species are legitimate concerns.

Second, cats, like any other predator, affect their ecological communities. Whether that impact is good or bad is a complex value judgment, not a scientific fact.

Third, there is a need for a more rigorous approach to the study of cats. Such an approach must be mindful of the importance of ecological context and avoid the pitfalls of faulty reasoning. It also means resisting the siren call of a silver (lethal) bullet.

A lazy day at a cat sanctuary in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.Canadianknowledgelover/Wikimedia

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Yet there are many options to consider. Protecting apex predators and their habitat is fundamental to enabling threatened species to coexist with cats. In some cases, people may choose to segregate domestic cats from vulnerable wildlife: for instance, with catios where cats can enjoy the outdoors while being kept apart from wildlife. In other cases, unhomed cats may be managed with trap-neuter-return programs and sanctuaries.

Finally, contrary to the framing of some scientists and journalists, the dispute over cats is not primarily about the science. Rather, it evokes an ongoing debate over the ethics that ought to guide humanity’s relationship with other animals and nature.

This is the root of the moral panic over cats: the struggle to move beyond treating other beings with domination and control, toward fostering a relationship rooted in compassion and justice.

Joann Lindenmayer, DVM, MPH is an associate professor in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University and contributed to this article.

This article was originally published on The Conversation by William S. Lynn at Clark University, Arian Wallach at the University of Technology Sydney and Francisco J. Santiago-Ávila at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Read the original article here.

Hunted and traded for body parts, the Bengal slow loris needs a conservation strategy

by Deepanwita Gita Niyogi on 7 August 2020
 
The Bengal slow loris is a gum-eating, nocturnal, tree-dwelling primate species found in northeast India.
Limited information on its status and ecology is the main hindrance to developing a conservation strategy for this species in India, state experts.
The species, which is listed as Endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, is heavily hunted and traded despite being legally protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Researchers recommend community awareness drives comprising schoolchildren in villages surrounding protected areas and more scientific studies.
 
Trying to trace the shy and nocturnal Bengal slow loris, primatologists in India’s biodiversity-rich northeast India kept missing the gum and sap-feeding endangered primate species till 2008. It was only in 2009 when primatologists in the region got together and switched methods to scout out for the little-known venomous primate that they uncovered more about it.
 
“Bengal slow loris (Nycticebus bengalensis) is solitary and shy. So, it is tough to detect it in the wild. And for a long time, all the methods researchers were using to trace the Bengal slow loris were meant for diurnal primates,” said Jihosuo Biswas.
 
“That’s why we missed it,” Biswas of Primate Research Centre North East India based in Assam, told Mongabay-India. “Up to 2008, I encountered mostly rescued and released animals. I did not find any loris in the wild, even though I extensively searched for it in the forests. Then when we started a project with Nabajit Das, we followed proper methods and found the animal,” Biswas said.
 
The range of the Bengal slow loris extends from Vietnam to China, but in India, it is confined to India’s northeast. This region harbours 12 of India’s 26 non-human primate species. The species is facing habitat loss and hunting pressures across its range.
 
An arboreal animal, the Bengal slow loris is found in almost all types of trees, but they mainly prefer those that release gum or sap.
According to Dilip Chetry, head of primate research and conservation division of Aaranyak, a wildlife non-profit based in Guwahati, there are a few tree species where the species is found. These are Grewia microcos, Schima wallichii (needlewood tree), Gmelina arborea (beechwood or goomar teak), Delonix regia (Royal poinciana) and Terminalia chebula (black-or chebulic myrobalan).
 
According to Nabajit Das’ research, the animals are seen in trees up to
30 feet from the ground in the forests of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
Sometimes, they are also found in bamboo thickets. “They sleep by day in hollowed out trees, tree crevices and branches. Generally, they sleep curled up like a ball, with the head tucked under their arms,” said Das of Primate Research Centre North East India.
Threats at large
 
Das who is also affiliated with the Nocturnal Primate Research Group of Oxford Brookes University said in a paper that limited information on its status and ecology is the main hindrance to developing a conservation strategy for this species in India.
 
Slow lorises are a group of primates comprising eight species occurring in South and South-East Asia. They are the only known venomous primates, and their bite can lead to “severe anaphylactic shock (allergic
reaction) in humans.” Bengal slow lorises are the largest of the species, weighing up to two kilograms.
 
Bengal slow loris is facing habitat loss due to felling of roosting and feeding trees across its range. Jhum cultivation, expansion of tea estates and the conversion of forests for agricultural uses are endangering the animal.
 
The Bengal slow loris which prefers to search for its food under the cover of night is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 as a Schedule-I species that accords the highest level of protection.
However, hunting continues even in protected areas mainly for use in traditional medicines.
 
“There is this belief that lorises have healing properties and are used for a large number of treatments. Fuelled by this belief, people in the hilly and remote areas use all body parts of the Bengal slow loris, even if there is no scientific basis for the diagnosis by local traditional medicine practitioners,” Das pointed out.
 
As witchcraft prevails in many places, people use their hands and legs in rituals, added Biswas. Mostly, the animal is rescued from kitchens in the villages after being trapped.
 
According to a study, slow lorises in many parts in Asia are traded as exotic pets. It points out that Mong La in Myanmar is a major trading centre for Bengal slow lorises. In Mong La in Myanmar on the China border, the animals were killed, dissected and dried, with the individual body parts, such as the arms, legs, skin and skeleton sold separately as medicine.
Since 2009, the northeast region has lost at least 3,199 sq. km. of area. Photo by Saurabhsawantphoto/Wikimedia Commons.
 
However, Das pointed out that no evidence has been observed to date that the hunting in northeast India is linked to the trade hub. He maintained that hunting is principally carried out to meet the local needs for traditional medicines. The prevalent belief that the animal is useful for medicines makes it an easy target for humans, who often catch it during firewood collection in the hilly areas of northeast India.
 
As on July 2020, the Bengal slow loris is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of threatened species, due to a combination of habitat loss and severe pressures from hunting. The pressures are causing a reduction in the population of more than 50 percent over three generations (approximately 24 years). The species is also predicted to decline by more than 50 percent over the next three generations across its entire range due to continuing hunting pressures and loss of habitat, researchers said.
Tracing the species inside protected areas
 
Das and colleagues including Biswas carried out night-time surveys of the species in 16 protected areas in Assam and one protected area in Arunachal Pradesh from February 2009–May 2010. Through their surveys, they found that while the encounter rate was relatively low in the study area compared to encounter rates for slow lorises elsewhere in their range but it was higher than recorded by other studies in north-east India.
 
“We found that despite hunting and habitat loss Bengal slow lorises still exist in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, albeit patchily within a forest block. The protected area network in these states is important for their conservation,” Das and colleagues write in their study.
Saving the Bengal slow loris
 
Mass awareness about Bengal slow loris and other primate species are urgently needed in their distribution ranges as people are not much aware of this nocturnal species and its role in the ecosystem as well as the importance of its conservation, said Das. He recommends organising community awareness drives comprising schoolchildren in the villages surrounding the protected areas.
 
“Some awareness drives have been conducted in selective sites. As it is exclusively found almost in all the forested areas of northeast India, our efforts are negligible,” Das said.
 
Lack of funding also plagues adequate research on the species. “A few researchers are studying it, but there is a lack of funding resources also. Still, it is the least studied species in India and is now getting some importance. We mainly need scientific studies along with awareness on the species for conservation,” said Chetry, adding that primatology is a comparatively new field of study in the region.
 
Das observed a change in the mindset of local community members after each awareness drive. “People now want to know more about primate species and their role in forests in their areas. Even villagers seem to be interested more about nocturnal animals mammalian species,” Das explained, adding that night-blooming flowers are pollinated by the Bengal slow loris, which is vital for a healthy forest ecosystem.
 
https://india.mongabay.com/2020/08/hunted-and-traded-for-body-parts-the-bengal-slow-loris-needs-a-conservation-strategy/

Deadly diseases from wildlife thrive when nature is destroyed, study finds

Rats and bats that host pandemic pathogens like Covid-19 increase in damaged ecosystems, analysis shows

Damian Carrington Environment editor @dpcarrington

Wed 5 Aug 2020 11.00 EDTLast modified on Wed 5 Aug 2020 11.18 EDT

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The BR163 highway in Moraes Almeida district in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil, September 2019.
 The BR163 highway in Moraes Almeida district in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil, September 2019. Photograph: Nelson Almeida/AFP via Getty Images

The human destruction of natural ecosystems increases the numbers of rats, bats and other animals that harbour diseases that can lead to pandemics such as Covid-19, a comprehensive analysis has found.

The research assessed nearly 7,000 animal communities on six continents and found that the conversion of wild places into farmland or settlements often wipes out larger species. It found that the damage benefits smaller, more adaptable creatures that also carry the most pathogens that can pass to humans.

The assessment found that the populations of animals hosting what are known as zoonotic diseases were up to 2.5 times bigger in degraded places, and that the proportion of species that carry these pathogens increased by up to 70% compared with in undamaged ecosystems.Advertisementhttps://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Humans populations are being increasingly hit by diseases that originate in wild animals, such as HIV, Zika, Sars and Nipah virus. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, there have been a series of warnings from the UN and WHO that the world must tackle the cause of these outbreaks – the destruction of nature – and not just the health and economic symptoms.

In June, experts said the Covid-19 pandemic was an “SOS signal for the human enterprise”, while in April the world’s leading biodiversity experts said even more deadly disease outbreaks were likely unless nature was protected.

The new analysis is the first to show how the demolition of wild places, as the world’s population and consumption grows, leads to changes in animal populations that increase the risk of disease outbreaks. The research demonstrates that disease surveillance and healthcare needs to be ramped up in those areas where nature is being ravaged, the scientists said.

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“As people go in and, for example, turn a forest into farmland, what they’re doing inadvertently is making it more likely for them to be in contact with an animal that carries disease,” said David Redding, of the ZSL Institute of Zoology in London, who was one of the research team. The work is published in the journal Nature.

Redding said the costs of disease were not being taken into account when deciding to convert natural ecosystems: “You’ve then got to spend a lot more money on hospitals and treatments.” A recent report estimated that just 2% of the costs of the Covid-19 crisis would be needed to help prevent future pandemics for a decade.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has awakened the world to the threat that zoonotic diseases pose to humans,” said Richard Ostfeld, at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, US, and Felicia Keesing at Bard College, US, in a commentary in Nature.

“With this recognition has come a widespread misperception that wild nature is the greatest source of zoonotic disease,” they said. “[This research] offers an important correction: the greatest zoonotic threats arise where natural areas have been converted to croplands, pastures and urban areas. The patterns the researchers detected were striking.”

The reason for species such as rodents and bats simultaneously thriving in ecosystems damaged by humans and also hosting the most pathogens is probably because they are small, mobile, adaptable and produce lots of offspring rapidly.

“The ultimate example is the brown rat,” Redding said. These fast-living species have an evolutionary strategy that favours large numbers of offspring ahead of a high survival rate for each one, which means they invest relatively little in their immune systems. “In other words, creatures that have rat-like life histories seem to be more tolerant of infections than do other creatures,” said Ostfeld and Keesing.

“In contrast, an elephant has a calf every couple of years,” said Redding. “It has to make sure that offspring survives, so it is born with a very strong and adaptive immune system.”

The analysis found that small, perching birds were also disease hosts that do well in habitats suffering from the impact of human activities. Such birds can be reservoirs of diseases such as West Nile virus and a type of chikungunya virus.

Humans have already affected more than half of the Earth’s habitable land. Prof Kate Jones, of the University College London, and also part of the research team, said: “As agricultural and urban lands are predicted to continue expanding in the coming decades, we should be strengthening disease surveillance and healthcare provision in those areas that are undergoing a lot of land disturbance, as they are increasingly likely to have animals that could be hosting harmful pathogens.”

Coronavirus: ‘Wake-up call’ for how we treat wild animals

2 Aug 20202 August 2020Last updated at 23:03View Comments (25)Baboon in a cageGETTY IMAGESAnimals like this baboon are caught in the wild and then sold

https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/53519296

Animal campaigners say the coronavirus pandemic is a “wake-up call” about how wild animals are treated across the world.

It’s thought the virus, known as Covid-19, might have originally come from animals at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China.

The pandemic has highlighted some of the problems around the way people treat wild animals and the impact that this can then have on humans.

So how does a disease pass from animals to humans, and what can be done to help stop it happening again?

What is a zoonotic disease?

Covid-19 is what scientists call a zoonotic disease – that means it starts off in animals and then humans catch it.

Diseases like this have been around forever – you may have heard of others like Swine Flu, Bird Flu, Ebola and Malaria.

Because of how quickly Covid-19 has spread around the world, we’ve heard much more about it and the problems it can cause for people.https://emp.bbc.co.uk/emp/SMPj/2.32.16/iframe.htmlWATCH: World Animal Protection’s Sonul Badiani-Hamment explains what the global wildlife trade isHow does a disease pass from animals to humans?

Animals can carry bacteria and viruses that cause disease, and these may be passed on to – or even jump to – other animal species, including humans. The other species’ body tries to fight the bacteria and virus but, if it can’t, it can become ill.

When wild animals are in unnatural conditions, they can become stressed or weak which makes it more likely that they will pass on the bacteria or viruses they have.

It also makes the wild animal more likely to catch them from others.

If a place isn’t clean enough for the animal, or if they’re near species that they wouldn’t normally meet in the wild, disease is more likely to spread as well.Why does a disease pass from wild animals to humans?

It can happen when wild animals come into contact with humans.

This occurs more often when their habitat is reduced, for example through deforestation and the impacts of climate change.

It means wild animals don’t always have the most suitable or right types of places to live, and some might come into cities instead to find food. This then means they can have much closer contact with humans than they naturally would.Flying macaws in tropical forestGETTY IMAGESIf tropical forests like this get smaller then animals, like these birds, won’t have a place to live

Most wild animals live in the wild where they can find their own food, make their own home and live in the conditions that their bodies were designed for.

However around the world, millions of wild animals such as parrots, iguanas, lizards, tortoises, pangolins and chimpanzees are taken from the wild.

They’re then bought and sold for lots of different reasons, for example to be kept as pets, to be eaten, to provide entertainment, to be used in traditional medicines, or parts of their body, like their scales or nails, might be used for ornaments.https://emp.bbc.co.uk/emp/SMPj/2.32.16/iframe.htmlWATCH: Pangolins are often caught and sold for their scales

More on wild animal protection

Wildlife groups want animal markets to be shut down

Can tech help protect global wildlife?What’s being done about it?Conservationist and chimpanzeeGETTY IMAGESConservationists around the world work to get animals, like this chimpanzee, back to living in the wild

Conservationists around the world work really hard to make sure wild animals, and the places where they live, are protected – so that the animals can live their life as naturally as possible.

Following the first outbreak of Covid-19 the city of Wuhan, in China is banning the farming and eating of live wildlife. Thousands of wildlife farms raising animals such as porcupines, civets and turtles have been shut down.

But it’s a worldwide problem. Professor Cunningham from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) told the BBC: “It’s easy to finger point, but it’s not just happening in China, it’s happening in many other countries and even in the western world. We like to have exotic pets and many of those are wild caught and we ought to be putting our own house in order too.”

But tackling the problem is tricky as there are many poor people in parts of the world who depend on the wildlife trade for their jobs.

Professor Cunningham added: “The people who are providing them, whether that’s farmed wild animals or animals from the wild, that’s an important source of income for them.”

Beyond banning wildlife trade: COVID-19, Conservation and Development


 
Highlights
 

 
Calls to ban wildlife trade have been a key response to COVID-19 but are not the solution.

 
The major drivers of the emergence of infectious diseases include habitat destruction and industrialised livestock production.

 
Indiscriminate wildlife trade bans risk doing more harm than good, both from a conservation and development perspective.

 
Conservation–linked responses to COVID-19 need to address the key drivers, respect rights and ensure local participation in decision-making.
 
Abstract
 
One of the immediate responses to COVID-19 has been a call to ban wildlife trade given the suspected origin of the pandemic in a Chinese market selling and butchering wild animals. There is clearly an urgent need to tackle wildlife trade that is illegal, unsustainable or carries major risks to human health, biodiversity conservation or meeting acceptable animal welfare standards. However, some of the suggested actions in these calls go far beyond tackling these risks and have the potential to undermine human rights, damage conservation incentives and harm sustainable development. There are a number of reasons for this concerns. First calls for bans on wildlife markets often include calls for bans on wet market, but the two are not the same thing, and wet markets can be a critical underpinning of informal food systems. Second, wildlife trade generates essential resources for the world’s most vulnerable people, contributing to food security for millions of people, particularly in developing countries. Third, wildlife trade bans have conservation risks including driving trade underground, making it even harder to regulate, and encouraging further livestock production.
Fourth, in many cases, sustainable wildlife trade can provide key incentives for local people to actively protect species and the habitat they depend on, leading to population recoveries. Most importantly, a singular focus on wildlife trade overlooks the key driver of the emergence of infectious diseases: habitat destruction, largely driven by agricultural expansion and deforestation, and industrial livestock production. We suggest that the COVID-19 crisis provides a unique opportunity for a paradigm shift both in our global food system and also in our approach to conservation. We make specific suggestions as to what this entail but overriding all is that local people must be at the heart of such policy shifts.
 
See: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X20302485

Canadians want to see a ban on wildlife markets and an end to the commercial wildlife trade



23 hours ago


To date, more than 425,000 people globally have signed petitions to G20
government leaders, urging them to curb the global wildlife trade. In
Canada, 29,000 concerned residents have signed our petition and according to
our latest polling data, Canadians want to see our government act on this
issue.


In July 2020, World Animal Protection commissioned Northstar Research
Partners to conduct an online survey among a nationally representative
sample of Canadian residents to understand the perspective we have on the
wildlife trade.

The results are clear: Canadians care greatly about wild animals and their
fate.

* 75% want the Federal government to support a permanent ban on wildlife
markets.

* 70% support a ban on the commercial trade in wild animals, with 1 out
of 5 Canadians being in support of better regulations and measures to
control the trade.

* A majority does not support the use of wildlife for trophy hunting,
fur, exotic pets, traditional medicine and entertainment.

* Nearly all Canadians agree that the wildlife trade is cruel and can
cause suffering (93%), threatens biodiversity (89%), and public health
(89%).

See the full poll from NorthStar here.
<https://www.worldanimalprotection.ca/Global-Wildlife_Ban-Study-Report-July
2020>

We can no longer afford to ignore the fact that the current pandemic and
previous major epidemics around the world are fundamentally linked to our
poor treatment and exploitation of wild animals and our encroachment on
their habitats. Millions of wild animals are captured, bred and traded every
year for a variety of purposes including food, traditional medicine and as
exotic pets. Animal suffering occurs and zoonotic infections can spread at
every stage of the trade.

The Federal government can take the following steps to answer the call of a
growing coalition of Canadian and international animal protection
organizations, academics, conservationists, zoonotic disease experts, and
concerned Canadians by:

* Urging other G20 countries to support the immediate and permanent
closure of wild animal markets.

* Committing at the G20 to end the international trade in wild animals
and wild animal products that could contribute to the spread of zoonotic
diseases.

Working with provinces and territories to mitigate risks to public health,
animal welfare and our natural environment inherent to the keeping, use and
trade of wild animals and to harmonize and strengthen regulations and
enforcement to drastically reduce captive breeding, transport and the
physical and online trade in wild animals.


Sign the petition to join our campaign


Join us and thousands of other Canadians in calling on the Canadian
government to support and champion a global ban on the wildlife trade. Sign
now:

Ban the wildlife trade

<https://www.worldanimalprotection.ca/news/canadians-want-see-ban-wildlife-m
arkets-and-end-commercial-wildlife-trade>


Read more
<https://www.worldanimalprotection.ca/news/canadians-want-see-ban-wildlife-m
arkets-and-end-commercial-wildlife-trade

Vietnam bans imports of wild animals to reduce risk of future pandemics


 
Country cracking down on illegal wildlife trade after coronavirus originated in Chinese wet market Vietnamese officials sort seized pangolin scales at a port in southern Vietnam in 2019.
Vietnamese officials sort seized pangolin scales at a port in southern Vietnam in 2019. Photograph: Vietnam News Agency/AFP/Getty Images Rebecca Ratcliffe Published on Fri 24 Jul 2020 14.10 BST
 
8
 
Vietnam has banned all imports of wild animals, dead or alive, and announced a crackdown on illegal wildlife markets as part of efforts to reduce the risk of future pandemics such as Covid-19.
 
A directive issued by the country’s prime minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, halts the trading of wild species, as well as animal products such as eggs, organs or body parts. It also calls for tougher action against people involved in illegal hunting, killing or advertising of wild animals.
 
The announcement has been welcomed by conservation groups, who have accused the government of failing to stop the flourishing trade in endangered species. Vietnam is one of Asia’s biggest consumers of wildlife products, and the country’s trade in wildlife – both illegal and “legal” – is thought to be a billion-dollar industry.
What is a wet market?
Read more
 
Among the most frequently smuggled animal goods are tiger parts, rhino horn and pangolins, used in traditional medicine. Animals are also purchased as pets or status symbols.
 
In February, 14 conservation organisations in Vietnam sent a joint letter warning the government that “new viruses will continue to move from wildlife to people while illegal wildlife trade and wildlife consumption continue”.
 
On top of the sale of animals in markets, there is a booming online wildlife trade, where images of species are posted on Facebook and YouTube. Conservationists have also raised serious concerns over poorly regulated commercial animal farms, where snakes, bears or tigers are reared in tiny cages.
 
The announcement has been welcomed by campaigners, though some warn the ban does not go far enough.
 
Nguyen Van Thai, director of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, told Reuters the directive “is insufficient as some uses of wildlife such as medicinal use or wild animals being kept as pets are not covered”.
 
Others point out that enforcement across the country’s borders may also prove a challenge.
 
The global wildlife trade has come under greater scrutiny following the coronavirus pandemic, which has been linked to a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where animals including snakes, beavers and badgers were sold.
 
The United Nations’ biodiversity chief, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, has called for countries to ban wildlife markets, which are seen by many to be a driver of zoonotic diseases. The Chinese government has introduced a temporary ban on such markets, where animals are sold in often cramped and unhygienic conditions.
 
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/24/vietnam-bans-imports-of-wild-animals-to-reduce-risk-of-future-pandemics-coronavirus
 

U.S. House approves key animal reforms, including combating wildlife trafficking, preventing cruel hunting practices and enforcing animal cruelty laws

A Humane WorldKitty Block’s Blog
Breaking news: U.S. House approves key animal reforms, including combating wildlife trafficking, preventing cruel hunting practices and enforcing animal cruelty lawsCalendar Icon July 24, 2020A successful amendment would reinforce the importance of the State Department’s work with international partners to counter the trafficking of endangered species. Photo by Moiz Husein/iStock.comThe U.S. House today approved many key animal protection reforms, including measures designed to rein in horse soring, combat wildlife trafficking and help enforce animal cruelty laws, as part of Congress’s annual appropriations process. Members also prohibited the use of federal funds for implementing cruel hunting practices on public lands in Alaska, and rejected an attempt to ensure the import of endangered elephant and lion trophies into the United States can continue.The reforms are part of a package of appropriations bills, called a “minibus,” and the package considered today—covering the departments of Agriculture, Interior, State, Veterans Affairs and the Environmental Protection Agency—is the first of two minibus bills the House will take up this year as it goes about its job of funding the federal government. Other animal protection reforms included in this minibus include reducing slaughterhouse kill speeds, providing more shelter options for domestic violence survivors with pets, and protecting gray wolves.In addition, members successfully added amendments to the package that would:Combat wildlife trafficking: At $8 to 10 billion per year, the illegal wildlife trade ranks as one of the most lucrative criminal activities internationally, and it is also one of the most significant threats for imperiled wildlife, whose rare parts and products are used for food, traditional medicines, luxury goods and as symbols of social status. This amendment, offered by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, would reinforce the importance of the State Department’s work with international partners to counter the trafficking of endangered species.Prevent cruel hunting practices on public lands in Alaska: This amendment would prevent federal funds from being used to implement a disastrous National Park Service rule finalized in June that would allow trophy hunting practices, including killing hibernating bears and wolf pups, on Alaska’s national preserves. The measure was offered by Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.Rein in horse soring: The package approved today would earmark $750,000 for the USDA’s Office of Inspector General to complete, by July 31, 2021, an audit of the agency’s enforcement of the Horse Protection Act, which regulates horse shows to detect and penalize the soring of Tennessee walking horses and related breeds, and the Slaughter Horse Transport Program, which is supposed to ensure that horses being shipped for slaughter to foreign processing plants are transported humanely. This amendment, building on committee report language included earlier at the behest of a bipartisan group of 207 Representatives, was offered by Reps. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., Fitzpatrick, Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, Ron Estes, R-Kan., Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., Pete King, R-N.Y., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.Enforce animal cruelty laws: One of the measures approved today would transfer $1 million for the USDA Office of Inspector General to enforce anti-animal cruelty statutes including the federal animal fighting law. This amendment, also building on language the Appropriations Committee included at the request of 207 Representatives, was offered by Reps. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., Bill Posey, R-Fla., Cohen, Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., Buchanan, Fitzpatrick, Cárdenas, Estes, P. King, Ann McLane Kuster, D-N.H., and Ben McAdams, D-Utah.Improve management of wild horses and burros: This measure would encourage the Bureau of Land Management to use $11 million of its budget to implement PZP, a humane, reversible fertility control vaccine to manage wild horses populations. For many years, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund have advocated that BLM must revamp its management strategy to focus on proven, safe and humane fertility control vaccines to address on-the-range population growth in a humane manner. This amendment was offered by Reps. Cohen, Dina Titus, D-Nev., Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., Neguse, Fitzpatrick, David Schweikert, R-Ariz., David Price, D-N.C., P. King, Deb Haaland, D-N.M., Schakowsky, McAdams, and John Katko, R-N.Y.Support equine-assisted therapy for veterans: This amendment would transfer $5 million to the Veterans Health Administration’s Medical Services program for use for equine-assisted therapy to support veterans’ mental health. This form of therapy has proven successful for many veterans by reducing PTSD-related anxiety, increasing confidence, and improving interpersonal skills and trust in others. Working with these large animals also hones veterans’ patience and perseverance and helps them regain physical strength. The amendment was offered by Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky.Members rejected a bad amendment offered by Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., that would have ensured that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can continue issuing permits to import endangered elephant and lion trophies from Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania. The House reiterated its 2019 declaration that American taxpayers should not subsidize the cruel hobbies of wealthy hunters who threaten the existence of our world’s most at-risk wildlife. Reps. Buchanan, Blumenauer, P. King and Jared Huffman, D-Calif., are leading efforts to secure a the ban on these trophy import permits by prohibiting the agency from using federal funds to authorize these trophy imports.We are grateful to all members who worked to get these issues into the bills and to ensure they remained in the package that passed the full House. Kudos also to our HSLF staff for their role in bringing these matters before members of Congress and keeping them front and center as they move toward passage. This work on the appropriations process is some of the most important we do each year, and over time it’s resulted in many terrific wins for animals.We urge the Senate to next take up and pass these commonsense reforms without delay. And we’ll be working on the other minibus bill, and to ensure it includes more victories for animals, in days to come.The post Breaking news: U.S. House approves key animal reforms, including combating wildlife trafficking, preventing cruel hunting practices and enforcing animal cruelty laws appeared first on A Humane World.

‘We can’t blame animals’: how human pathogens are making their way into vulnerable wildlife

 Two little blue penguins (Eudyptula minor), the world’s smallest penguin species, on the rocks of St Kilda breakwater. Photograph: Douglas Gimesy/Photography Doug Gimesy, or, Picture: Doug Gimesy

Australian scientists have found evidence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in about a dozen species, including bats, penguins, sea lions and wallabies

by Graham Readfearn Photography by Doug GimesySupported byAbout this content

Sat 18 Jul 2020 16.00 EDTLast modified on Sat 18 Jul 2020 20.11 EDT

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For 13 years now, scientist Michelle Power has been grabbing samples of human waste and animal poop from Antarctica to Australia to try and answer a vital question.

Has the bacteria in humans that has grown resistant to antibiotics – an issue considered to be one of the world’s greatest health challenges – made its way into wildlife?

The answer, it seems, is a resounding yes.

Associate Professor Michelle Power from Macquarie University Department of Biological Science.
  • Associate professor Michelle Power from Macquarie University Department of Biological Science.

“I don’t think there’s been an animal where we haven’t found it,” says Power, an associate professor at Macquarie University in Sydney.

The sorts of animals Power has chosen to look at most live close to humans or are urbanised – like possums – or animals that spend time with humans either in wildlife care facilities or in conservation breeding programs.

So far, Power says she has found evidence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in about a dozen animals, including bats, penguins, sea lions and wallabies.

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“You have organisms moving from us, to animals, and then potentially back to us again,” she says. “At the moment it’s hard to track what’s coming back and forth, but we know humans have driven this emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”

Power’s work on the issue started in 2007 when she looked at faeces samples of endangered brush-tailed rock wallabies being raised in captivity in New South Wales as part of conservation efforts.

About half the wallabies had antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their faeces. Those animals were released back into the wild.

In late 2009, Power fulfilled a romantic 20-year-old dream of travelling to Antarctica to do scientific research. The rather less romantic goal was to sample the human sewage from a research station there, and to “sneak up behind penguins and seals” and take their poo.

Penguins, Antarctic Peninsula
  • Penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula.

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But again, her findings revealed that bacteria from humans was making its way into the Antarctic wilderness, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Between 2017 and 2019, Power’s scientific colleagues together with wildlife carers have collected 448 poo samples from the little penguins of Philip Island and St Kilda, and from the penguins in zoos (one method to collect samples from wild penguins is to leave a piece of card near the entry to a nesting box because, Power says, they “like to poo out the door”).

Almost half the little penguins in captivity have antibiotic-resistant bacteria, compared with 3% of the wild population.

Researcher Ida Lundback, right, with the assistance of volunteer Naomi Wells, left, takes a faecal sample from a captured little blue penguin (Eudyptula minor) before returning it back to its burrow.
  • Researcher Ida Lundback, right, with the assistance of volunteer Naomi Wells, left, takes a faecal sample from a captured little blue penguin (Eudyptula minor) before returning it back to its burrow.

Power has also been part of an ongoing citizen science project encouraging others to do the faeces collecting – this timer the secretions of possums.

After analysing abut 1,800 samples so far, Power says the Scoop a Poop project has shown about 29% of Australia’s brush-tailed possums are carrying antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

In 2019, Power was part of a study that found antibiotic resistance in grey-headed flying foxes – a species listed as vulnerable.

In research yet to be published, Power says she has found evidence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in wild populations of Tasmanian devils.

So how did our bacteria get into the animals?

Power says about three-quarters of the antibiotics that humans take are actually excreted, ending up in wastewater systems. Places where antibiotics are manufactured are also potential avenues for escape of antibiotics.

And then there are the times when animals are taken into care, or raised in captivity and exposed to humans, and then released into the wild.

“We are seeing a variation in the prevalence [of antibiotic-resistant bacteria] across different wildlife species but why that is the case, we are not sure,” Power says.

An urban brush-tailed possum, Trichosurus vulpecula
  • Clockwise from top: An urban brush-tailed possum, a female grey-headed flying fox and an Australian sea lion.
An Australian sea lion (Neophoca cinerea), Sandy Bay, Kangaroo Island, South Australia.
A female grey-headed flying foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus) Yarra Bend Park. Kew, Victoria.

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Possums are a species that are highly urbanised, sometimes feed on the ground, and live and eat close to humans – close enough that many find homes in the roof space of Australian houses. But they tend to be solitary.

Flying foxes on the other hand hang around in trees in tightly packed camps that can run into the thousands. About 5% of wild grey-headed flying foxes had antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their excretions, compared with 40% of those in care facilities.

Power says: “Maybe the possums are getting closer to our organisms, but also they’re solitary species. Flying foxes on the other hand live up in trees but live in higher densities.”

According to the World Health Organisation, the emergence of bacteria resistant to antibiotics is one of the world’s greatest health challenges facing humans, making treatment of dangerous diseases ever more challenging.

But the impact of this bacteria on wildlife, Power says, “is the big unknown” and she says there’s no direct evidence yet that it’s doing harm.

Faecal sample from Australia Sea Lions (Neophoca cinerea) that has been plated on Chromacult media - a selective differential media that makes E. coli visible by showing it as dark purple.
  • A faecal sample from Australian sea lions (Neophoca cinerea) that has been plated on Chromocult media – a selective differential media that makes E coli visible by showing it as dark purple.

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She says: “The gene transfer of endemic bacteria could alter microbial communities and know more and more each day about the significance of friendly microbes to healthy immunity.”

Dr Wayne Boardman is a wildlife veterinarian at the University of Adelaide and the former head vet at London Zoo who has been collaborating with Power on research.

One big concern Boardman holds is that the antibiotic resistance could make it harder for vets to care for sick animals.

But also, he says, the bacteria and the genes associated with them that are being passed from humans to animals could then evolve and come back into the human population.

“It’s in the bacteria’s interest to try and protect themselves,” he says. “Whilst the risks are relatively small, they could be compounded over the years because we have more of these antimicrobial resistant genes occurring and then we get further and further into the mire.

Associate Professor Michelle Power from Macquarie University Department of Biological Science plates out a culture of E.coli taken from facial samples from Antarctic marine life (Wedell seal - Leptonychotes weddellii).
  • Michelle Power with a culture of E.coli taken from faecal samples from Antarctic marine life (Weddell seal – Leptonychotes weddellii).

“It’s a human induced issue. We can’t blame the animals. It’s only humans using antibiotics.”

Prof Clare McArthur, a behavioural ecologist at the University of Sydney, says Power has answered the first important question – are human bacteria being passed into our wildlife?

“The next questions is, does it matter,” she says. “I think of this from a gut perspective. We know that the gut biome is important and we know from humans that if you tweak it then things can go pear shaped in terms of our health.

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“In the back of my mind is the question – if they’re picking up antibiotic-resistant bacteria, is that altering their gut biome? We don’t have an answer for that yet.”

As for Power, she’s worried that wildlife picking up human pathogens could be another pressure on species already vulnerable.

“These bacteria are pathogens and they can cause diseases in us. I’m worried about wildlife health and what some of these resistant bacteria might mean for wildlife species, many of which are already vulnerable.”

Wildlife corridors don’t trap prey, University of Alberta research finds

Wildlife corridors don’t trap prey, University of Alberta research finds

Study captured thousands of images of mammals using structures in Quebec

Madeleine Cummings · CBC News · Posted: Jul 14, 2020 5:16 PM MT | Last Updated: July 14

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/wildlife-corridors-do-not-trap-prey-u-of-a-study-finds-1.5649272

One of the research team’s remote photos shows a North American red squirrel carrying nest-building materials through a wildlife underpass in Quebec in the summer of 2014. (Submitted by April Martinig)

Wildlife crossings like those in Banff National Park are meant to help animals cross highways safely, but ecologists have long been asked about possible unintended consequences of the structures.

New research out of the University of Alberta disproves a common theory that predators could exploit the corridors by using them to trap prey.

Researchers tested the prey-trap hypothesis by placing remote cameras in 17 wildlife passages in the Laurentides Wildlife Reserve in Quebec between May of 2012 and August of 2015.

They measured how often some small and medium-sized predators and prey — such as weasels, mice, moles and raccoons — appeared on the passages. A camera at each entrance, when triggered by heat and movement, took a series of photographs.

An aerial view of a wildlife overpass in Banff National Park. (Parks Canada)

The cameras captured more than 11,000 mammals using the wildlife underpasses but did not capture a single predation episode or attempt. 

The researchers also found no photo evidence of any larger predators, like wolves, coyotes or lynx, using the wildlife passages.

Based on the images gathered, predators did not follow prey into the passages and prey tended to avoid the paths after predators had used them. “This study is showing that one of our biggest concerns, which was predators catching on to the prey using the passages, isn’t actually as much of a problem as we thought it would be,” April Martinig said Tuesday in an interview with CBC’s Radio Active.

Martinig is a PhD candidate in ecology at the U of A and lead author of “Temporal clustering of prey in wildlife passages provides no evidence of a prey-trap,” which was published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports.

Martinig said she found the results reassuring since she often hears from members of the public who worry wildlife crossings could be putting smaller animals directly in predators’ paths.

Scientists will still need to monitor wildlife passages in case predators eventually catch on, she said, but for now, building structures that exclude predators should not be a concern.

Study captured thousands of images of mammals using structures in Quebec

Madeleine Cummings · CBC News · Posted: Jul 14, 2020 5:16 PM MT | Last Updated: July 14

One of the research team’s remote photos shows a North American red squirrel carrying nest-building materials through a wildlife underpass in Quebec in the summer of 2014. (Submitted by April Martinig)

Wildlife crossings like those in Banff National Park are meant to help animals cross highways safely, but ecologists have long been asked about possible unintended consequences of the structures.

New research out of the University of Alberta disproves a common theory that predators could exploit the corridors by using them to trap prey.

Researchers tested the prey-trap hypothesis by placing remote cameras in 17 wildlife passages in the Laurentides Wildlife Reserve in Quebec between May of 2012 and August of 2015.

They measured how often some small and medium-sized predators and prey — such as weasels, mice, moles and raccoons — appeared on the passages. A camera at each entrance, when triggered by heat and movement, took a series of photographs.

An aerial view of a wildlife overpass in Banff National Park. (Parks Canada)

The cameras captured more than 11,000 mammals using the wildlife underpasses but did not capture a single predation episode or attempt. 

The researchers also found no photo evidence of any larger predators, like wolves, coyotes or lynx, using the wildlife passages.

Based on the images gathered, predators did not follow prey into the passages and prey tended to avoid the paths after predators had used them. “This study is showing that one of our biggest concerns, which was predators catching on to the prey using the passages, isn’t actually as much of a problem as we thought it would be,” April Martinig said Tuesday in an interview with CBC’s Radio Active.

Martinig is a PhD candidate in ecology at the U of A and lead author of “Temporal clustering of prey in wildlife passages provides no evidence of a prey-trap,” which was published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports.

Martinig said she found the results reassuring since she often hears from members of the public who worry wildlife crossings could be putting smaller animals directly in predators’ paths.

Scientists will still need to monitor wildlife passages in case predators eventually catch on, she said, but for now, building structures that exclude predators should not be a concern.