BIG INCREASE IN PANDA NUMBERS

by Editor on March 12, 2015

There Are Now More Wild Pandas Than There Have Been In Several Decades

There Are More Wild Pandas Now Than There Have Been In Several Decades (Although This Photo Is Of A Captive Panda)

The Population Of Wild Pandas Has Gone Up Since The Animals Last Were Counted

Good news is often hard to come by in the world of endangered species conservation. So when we hear something positive we like to celebrate. What we’re most happy about right now is a report from the Chinese government that the number of giant pandas in the wild has undergone a sizable increase in the last dozen years.

According to Chinese wildlife officials, there are now 1,864 pandas living in the bamboo forests of Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces in southern China, up from a population of 1,596 in 2003. This is an increase of nearly 17 percent. [click to continue…]

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HOW TO BECOME A ZOO KEEPER

by Editor on March 2, 2015

Zoology for Kids

Zoology For Kids: An AAW Book Review

The wildlife field is full of interesting careers, including—but certainly not limited to—veterinary work, environmental writing, field biology, conservation law enforcement, and hands-on work with captive wildlife. These sorts of jobs are extremely exciting to a lot of kids—but also seemingly about as attainable as the moon. In fact, a lot of young people might think they’d have as much chance of becoming an astronaut as they would a zookeeper or a zoologist.

So it’s terrific that a new book called Zoology for Kids: Understanding and Working with Animals has come along to demystify and demythologize the wildlife professions and make them seem more like something that, with the right amount of time, effort, and desire, any kid could end up doing for a living. The entire second half of this well-written, informative, and beautifully designed book is called “Working on the Wild Side—Zoology in Real Life”—and it discusses an array of jobs studying, caring for, and protecting wild animals, from being a zookeeper or a professional aquarist to becoming a scientist or a wildlife conservationist. Topics covered include the kinds of daily activities that are involved in each of these careers, as well as some of the requirements for getting there. The authors, the husband and wife team of Josh and Bethanie Hestermann, offer their young readers a lot of practical career encouragement, including the terrific advice to begin gaining experience and building their resumes through volunteer work at a wildlife center or veterinarian’s office. [click to continue…]

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VIRUNGA

by Editor on February 28, 2015

The Most Important Wildlife Movie In Decades

The Academy Award-nominated film, Virunga, released in November, 2014, is one of the most important wildlife films in decades. It chronicles the effects of corporate greed, government corruption, poverty, and war on the people and wildlife in and around Congo’s Virunga National Park. While the movie’s charismatic stars are the eastern Congo’s rare mountain gorillas, its heroes are the rangers and park officials who look after the gorillas and other wildlife, fending off disturbing threats of increasing seriousness until they end up risking their own lives to protect them even as heavily armed troops battle all around. [click to continue…]

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U.S. ACTS AGAINST POACHERS

by Editor on February 11, 2015

A Critically Endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros. Photo: Willem V. Strien

A Critically Endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros. Photo: Willem V. Strien

The Obama Administration Announces New Action Against Illegal Traffickers In Wildlife

The Obama Administration announced February 11 that it was taking new action to protect endangered species and other wildlife currently being decimated by growing and increasingly powerful international networks of illegal wildlife traffickers. Poachers and traffickers are destroying populations of elephants, rhinos, tigers, gibbons, pangolins, and many other species of birds, reptiles, and mammals in order reap huge profits by satisfying demand for wild animal parts and products in Asia, the U.S., and other illegal markets. Poaching and wildlife trafficking have become the main factor driving many species toward extinction.

According to a report published in The New York Times, U.S. actions will include using American intelligence agencies to track the operations of international criminals involved in trafficking, an activity estimated to generate $20 Billion in black-market profits each year. For the first time, U.S. agents will be dispatched to other countries in the fight against trafficking. In addition, the U.S. will put diplomatic pressure on the governments of countries where illegal wildlife products are sold. The Administration also plans action to curb U.S. imports of banned products. By some estimates, the U.S. is the second largest consumer after China of illegal wildlife and wildlife products. [click to continue…]

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BIRDOLOGY

by Editor on February 9, 2015

Birdology_lg

An All About Wildlife Book Review

When it comes to wildlife, kids frequently are told, “Look, but don’t touch.” Spiders and bees can sting or bite, butterflies and moths are easily injured, wild mammals—even if they allow people to approach—have to be observed from a distance that is safe for the child, and of course, inquisitive little fingers must be discouraged from handling the eggs and young of birds. And while frogs are fun to catch, in most places they’re only available for part of the year, even to that fortunate minority of kids who enjoy ready and open access to a brook or a swamp. . . .

Many of us older folks don’t fully remember how frustrating this no-hands policy can be to a child—kids like to do things, not just observe them. But author Monica Russo and photographer Kevin Byron are two adults who clearly have not forgotten. Their new book, Birdology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Birds, not only teaches kids about avians all kinds, but it offers them an array of options for participating in the natural world at the same time they’re learning from it. [click to continue…]

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OCELOTS INCREASE IN THE U.S.

by Editor on January 30, 2015

An Upswing In The Population Of This Appealing Spotted Cat. Photo: USFWS

An Upswing In The Population Of This Appealing Spotted Cat. Photo: USFWS

Ocelots: Although They’re Still A Rare Cat, The Texas Trend Is Looking Better

Along with its much larger cousin, the jaguar, the ocelot is listed as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). The last remaining U.S. populations of the spotted, bobcat-sized ocelot all inhabit enclaves near the Mexican border in Texas, where the animal holds a spot on that state’s own list of endangered and threatened species.

However, the official estimate of south Texas ocelot numbers recently was elevated from fewer than 50 to fewer than 80 due to sightings by wildlife officials of some younger cats they had not known existed. Officials attribute the increase to some much-needed rains, which have boosted the numbers of birds and rodents that ocelots select as prey animals. [click to continue…]

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EXTINCTION AND THE IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER

by Editor on January 19, 2015

This 1935 Image By Arthur A. Allen Is Among The Last Clear Photos Ever Taken Of Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers

This 1935 Image By Arthur A. Allen Is Among The Last Clear Photos Ever Taken Of Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers

Eleven Years After The “Extinct” Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Reappeared, Does This Storied Bird Still Exist?

BY PAUL GUERNSEY

For impassioned birders and informal wildlife enthusiasts alike, the wonder at the rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker 11 years ago was akin to hearing that a mermaid had swum to shore in southern California, or that a living unicorn had emerged from a Scandinavian forest. The spectacular ivory-billed (Campephilus principalis), with a 30-inch wingspan and second in size only to one other woodpecker species in the world, had last been spotted by trained observers prior to World War Two, and was assumed by most ornithologists to have gone extinct, a victim of habitat destruction in the form of clearcut logging in the lowland forests of the southeastern U.S. where it lived. (Cuban populations of ivory-billed woodpeckers were also thought to have vanished.) But for the better part of a century many people had maintained a faint, almost fanciful, hope that the woodpecker still existed—and then suddenly, on February 27, 2004, there it was, winging from tree to tree through an Arkansas swamp in full view of two highly experienced witnesses.

“When we saw that bird, it was the most hopeful sign imaginable” that the ivory-billed would dodge extinction, said Cornell University’s Tim Gallagher during a January 2015 telephone interview with AAW. “While it’s possible the bird we saw was the last one in existence—what are the odds of that?” As well as being one of the first observers in 2004, Gallagher was and is editor-in-chief of the Cornell Ornithology Lab’s Living Bird Magazine, a veteran field researcher, and the author of five books on birds, including two that chronicle the hunts for missing species of woodpeckers. [click to continue…]

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