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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HELP SAVE THE RAIN FORESTS

by Editor on January 12, 2015

Rain Forest Palm Oil Plantations Are Displacing And Killing Wildlife. Photo: Tony Hisgett

Rain Forest Palm Oil Plantations Are Displacing And Killing Wildlife On Two Continents. Photo: Tony Hisgett

Something Easy You Can Do Right Now To Protect Rain Forests And Save Wildlife

Many of us hear about the destruction of rain forests and the resulting losses of wildlife and biodiversity, and we feel helpless. After all, it’s a huge problem, it’s happening far away from us, and the trees are being cut by people with money, political power, and a strong economic incentive to continue clearing the land. Although we can (and should) donate to the Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund, and other conservation organizations, we are not rich, and there’s a limit to what we can give.

Recently, however, people interested in preserving rain forests in Africa, Indonesia, and Malaysia—rapidly shrinking forests that are home to all the great ape species as well as thousands of other animals including tigers, leopards, and parrots—began to receive some good news. There are strong indications that a worldwide grassroots campaign involving ordinary people with an interest in rainforest conservation is helping to change the behavior of some of the large companies that are indirectly responsible for much of the rainforest destruction. One way anyone can join this campaign is by adding their name to petitions being circulated online by a number of organizations, including one called Forest Heroes. [click to continue…]

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GOOD NEWS FOR SEA TURTLES

by Editor on December 19, 2014

Leatherback Sea Turtle. Photo: USFWS

Leatherback Sea Turtle. Photo: USFWS

Though They’re Still Endangered, YOUR Concern is Helping Some Species Recover

Make no mistake: Sea turtles of all species continue to face the threat of extinction. Until relatively recently, people the world over thought nothing of taking their eggs wherever and whenever they found them, and they also killed adult turtles for food. In addition, development along tropical and subtropical beaches has damaged and destroyed nesting areas, as have rising sea levels brought on by global climate change. Sea turtles also are accidentally caught and drowned in commercial fishing gear, killed by oil spills, and die from intestinal blockages after ingesting floating plastic that they mistake for something to eat.

Scientists estimate that the populations of most sea turtle species declined by 95 percent over the course of the 1900s—with the race toward extinction accelerating dramatically during the century’s final two decades. For example, in 1980, the worldwide population of the leatherback sea turtle—one of AAW‘s Top 10 Endangered Species—was thought to include around 120,000 breeding-age females. But just 15 years later, that estimate had dropped to between 20,000 and 30,000 breeding-age females.

Aside from the leatherback—the world’s heaviest reptile, capable of reaching an adult weight of close to a ton—other endangered sea turtle species include green sea turtles, loggerhead sea turtles, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, and hawksbill sea turtles. All face the same daunting set of manmade environmental problems. [click to continue…]

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