Tag archives for endangered species
Through a taxing series of twists and turns, I find myself on assignment in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, about to go undercover with Aidan Hartley. Hartley is a seasoned war correspondent and investigative journalist, and no greenhorn when it comes putting his life on the line to get a story.
Our goal is time sensitive and dangerous: capture video of criminal ivory traders selling poached ivory. Once embedded, we have just a 3-day window to operate in the city; we fear pushing our investigation further could trigger the slaughter of more elephants.
With just seven days remaining before Bryan Christy’s Blood Ivory article hits the newsstands, we’re down to the wire. A complete story is within our grasp, but it’s uncomfortably obvious that we don’t yet have enough. Our legal team insists that we remove ourselves from the field before “Blood Ivory” is released. Sensing the pressure, the reality is that we either deliver now or come up short.
Anticipating the scramble, we had split into two teams. I’m on the ground in Dar es Salaam posing as an ivory buyer with Aidan Hartley. Our goal is simple: capture the bad guys on film, red handed. Our second team is in China, their objective is much more complex: explore the driving forces behind the growing demand for ivory.
Gabon’s Minkebe National Park, once home to Africa’s largest forest elephant population, has lost 11,100 elephants to the illegal ivory trade in recent years, the Wildlife Conservation Society says. If we can find hundreds of millions of dollars to fight terrorism in Mali, we should be able to find the resources to combat this last big push by poachers, which may well be the final blow to a species that has just about gone extinct in the majority of countries where it once ranged.
According to CITES experts, more than 25,000 elephants—an estimated 12 percent of the world’s elephant population—were killed in Africa last year alone, and some say the numbers could be much higher.
In a new Web series, National Geographic filmmakers share their experiences documenting the illegal ivory trade. Follow journalists Bryan Christy and Aidan Hartley as we go undercover and inside the criminal network behind ivory’s supply and demand.
What does it actually mean to “harmonize” elephant mortality and why should we do it? The simple answer is that with many people engaged in elephant conservation in Kenya, we need to agree on the actual figures, so that we can document what is going on and react in an appropriate way. In reality the situation is a bit more complex.
Shifra Goldenberg, a Colorado State University student researching the effects of poaching and other disruption on the social structure and survival of young female elephants, shares memories and thoughts of the recent poaching of a young elephant in a wildlife conservation reserve in Kenya. The bull, known to the research community as Phylo, was found with his face hacked off and ivory stolen by gunmen who came for him under the light of the full moon.
The Society for Conservation Biology’s Religion and Conservation Research Collaborative released a statement last week calling upon the world’s religious leaders to stop using elephant ivory. As the statement notes, “In addition to the ethical concerns raised by the possible extinction of elephant populations or species, the ivory trade is associated with considerable bloodshed for humans as well as elephants.” The Collaborative concludes that “the requirements of religion and conservation should be and, indeed, can be complementary in reaching the best possible outcome whereby religious faith is respected and the future of elephants safeguarded.”
The new wave of killing of elephants in Africa is in many ways far graver than the crisis of the 1970s and 80s. Firstly there are fewer elephants, and secondly the demand for ivory is far higher. Record ivory prices in the Far East are fueling poachers, organised crime and political instability right across the African elephant range. And the situation shows no sign of calming.
Oceans have been a part of my childhood exploring dreams for as long as I can remember. Truth is, the seas and its creatures that I fantasized about back then, are permanently being affected by human actions. The first time you jump in the water with a great white shark, your fears melt…
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), along with a coalition of wildlife groups, has petitioned to list the African lion ((Panthera leo leo) under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). Listing the species as Endangered would prohibit lion trophy importation into the U.S., an essential step to reversing the current decline of the population, according to IFAW. The African lion is the only big cat not protected under the ESA.
By Eric Dinerstein, author of The Kingdom of Rarities What if the organisms that populate the natural world—from whales to weevils—were classified not by their evolutionary relationships but by their relative degree of rarity? Imagine a way of looking at the world where we divide the ark into representatives of two kingdoms: the Kingdom of Common…
Many of the indigenous species of the Yucatan Peninsula are slowly disappearing. These range from the formidable jaguar to the colorful motmot and countless animals that play important roles in their habitats. Not only are these species indicators of the health of the planet, but they have also been fundamental icons of power, sacredness, purity,…
“We are absolutely convinced that the massacre of elephant is a very serious matter,” writes Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, in a response today to our correspondence about the use of elephant ivory for devotional icons by some Catholic followers.
As Father Lombardi points out, it was emails from readers of A Voice for Elephants blog to his office that encouraged him to write this letter. Please continue the conversation by commenting here and also, if you wish, by writing directly to his office.
The religious use of ivory is among the least publicized and seemingly most easily correctable drivers of the massive elephant slaughter now taking place across Africa. Does the Vatican consider the use of ivory religious carvings and ecclesiastical gifts to be morally wrong or at odds with Church doctrine? There has been no response to several requests National Geographic made to the Vatican to clarify the Church’s position.
“We are cheetah friendly”. The sign hangs on the gates of farms who participate in Cheetah Outreach’s Livestock Guardian Dog Program. In a land where commercial farming has encroached on wildlife for generations, certain NGOs and farmers are working together to create new ways of solving the problems of predation. Cheetah Outreach comes not…
Over the past 20 years, scientists have been assembling compelling data that show the world’s oceans are in deep trouble. Once-abundant species are disappearing, habitats are being destroyed, and fisheries are collapsing across the globe (Jackson et al. 2001, Lotze et al. 2006). For example, studies estimate that biomass of tunas and billfish have decreased…
The number of rhinos killed for their horns in South Africa so far this year has shot up to 618. This is well past last year’s shock record of 448 and substantially more than the tally of 550 predicted at the beginning of 2012. And still there is no sign of the onslaught letting up.…
Reports from the wildlife trade monitoring organization Traffic, African media outlets, and scholarly researchers point to well-developed trade in pangolins from African source countries to China.
The king of the African savannah is in serious trouble because people are taking over the continent’s last patches of wilderness on unprecedented scale, according to a detailed study released this week. The most comprehensive assessment of lion (Panthera leo) numbers to date determined that Africa’s once-thriving savannahs are undergoing massive land-use conversion and burgeoning human population growth. The decline has had a significant impact on the lions that make their home in these savannahs; their numbers have dropped to as low as 32,000, down from hundreds of thousands estimated just 50 years ago.
Gangs of heavily armed elephant poachers have crossed the Central African Republic (CAR) from Sudan and are reported to be close to the southern Chad and northern Cameroon borders. Informers recognized one of the poachers as part of the group responsible for the killing frenzy that left roughly 650 elephants dead in and around northern Cameroon’s Bouba Ndjidah National Park in February 2012.
Day five of our expedition to the Galapagos islands took us to the northwest slope of Santa Cruz for a walk up Cerro Dragon, “Dragon Hill.” This place was once home to a thriving colony of the massive Galapagos land iguana, Conolophus subcristatus. The lizard is making a comeback here after being nearly wiped out by cats, rats, and dogs introduced to the Galapagos by humans.
Earlier this year Rolex announced the five winners of the 2012 Rolex Awards for Enterprise, who are being honored in New Delhi, India, on November 27. This profile looks at the work of Marine Biologist Barbara Block, who has developed innovative electronic tagging techniques that enable following fish beneath the sea. Block’s aim is to build the technology that will enable monitoring of ocean hotspots where nutrient-rich waters form attractive hunting grounds for predators, and to engage the public on the plight of marine predators that roam along the west coast of North America.
Earlier this year Rolex announced the five winners of the 2012 Rolex Awards for Enterprise, who are being honored in New Delhi, India, on November 27. This profile looks at the work of 2012 Laureate Sergei Bereznuk, director of the Phoenix Fund, a small environmental NGO in Russia. Bereznuk and his team of six people are carrying out an impressive range of activities to preserve the endangered Siberian tiger over a territory of 64,000 square miles (166,000 square kilometers).
Following tests on smaller islands, the government of Ecuador today begins the second phase of dropping massive amounts of specially designed poison on a Galapagos island thought to be infested with nearly 200 million invasive rats. Introduced centuries ago by pirates, whalers and other visitors, the rodents wreak havoc among the wildlife of Galapagos by preying on eggs and hatchlings of bird and reptile species.
“Howzit? How are the cheetahs?” ask my new friends in Cape Town. “I’m going to Bray for a few days.” “Where??” When even a South African hasn’t heard of this place, I know I’m in for another adventure. Bray is a frontier post located 200 meters from the border of Botswana in the Southern…