Caribou Herds Rebuilt by Maternity Programs

This is no truth bomb: more and more species are becoming endangered or approaching the brink of extinction. However, there is some good news: more and more global efforts are also being executed to address the problem. In 2017, British Columbia banned recreational bear hunting. This 2018, China is funding a national park to serve as a sanctuary for giant pandas.

And some efforts are already paying off this year. With the special help of a maternity program at Smithsonian Zoo, baby Mokey — the first western lowland gorilla there in 9 years — was born to loving mom Calaya. In the same light, caribou herds are now being helped by the Revelstoke Caribou Maternal Penning Project.

About half [of the calves] are killed and eaten by wolves . . . said Scott McNay, a wildlife biologist. For the past four years, McNay has worked with the West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations, which are taking radical action to reverse the decline of the caribou by protecting cows and calves in “maternity pens” until the newborns are ready to survive life in the wild.

That bears and wolves feed on caribou is a natural phenomenon, but the proportion has been unhealthy for the past decade. Industrial development in the area has also worsened the situation. In addition to a ban on the hunting of caribou herds that have been imposed decades ago by the elders of the First Nations, wolf population control and habitat restoration are now being done simultaneously.

During the first four years of the pilot maternity project, 47 pregnant caribou from the North Columbia herd have been taken into the penning program and assisted in a nine-hectare enclosure. A few weeks ago, another 20 were sequestered. And the results look hopeful.

To date, 36 calves have released to the wild and they have about double the normal survival rate, which has stabilized the herd.

Funded by a variety of government agencies and other organizations, the maternity program wants to commit to protecting and releasing 20 cows and calves every year, in order to successfully restore the caribou herds.

Looking at these probable results, it seems that after all, every species including humankind is just trying to survive, with each other’s help in life.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

Baby Gorilla in Smithsonian Zoo, First in 9 Years

When critically endangered species successfully reproduce offspring and show the world their adorable baby, I’m not going to lie, I also tend to feel like getting a new shot at life. An OB-gyn who delivered a western lowland gorilla via C-section at the Philadelphia Zoo even said the experience of actually making it happen felt like an incredible privilege.

Just a few weeks ago, another western lowland gorilla was born at Smithsonian National Zoo, the first of his kind in nine years!

“The birth of this western lowland gorilla is very special and significant, not only to our zoo family but also to this critically endangered species as a whole,” Meredith Bastian, the zoo’s curator of primates, said in a statement regarding Moke’s birth.

Born to mother Calaya and father Baraka, the baby gorilla was named Moke (Mo-Key). Keeper Melba Brown went through months of training with Calaya to make sure she is able to prepare for the task of motherhood. And those months have truly paid off, as soon enough Calaya is kissing and nursing adorable Moke without difficulty.

“This infant’s arrival triggers many emotions — joy, excitement, relief — and pride that all of our perseverance in preparing Calaya for motherhood has paid off,” Brown said. “We will provide support to her if need be, but I have every confidence that Calaya will be a great mom to Moke. I am excited to see how he will fit into the group dynamic. There are a lot of different personalities in this family troop, but they all work well together.”

Surely a cute baby gorilla is enough cause to celebrate. Though of course, I would like to be proud first of amazing mommy Calaya. Now let me just go get a piece of tissue to wipe away this stray teardrop on my left cheek.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

China To Set Up Enormous Panda Sanctuary

If not the Great Wall, it seems China’s main attraction is its everlasting devotion to the giant panda. The home of the Forbidden City has even built a solar farm inspired by the peaceful bamboo-munchers. Now hoping to increase populations, China is funding a national park dedicated to the slow-reproducing bears.

Plans for the park – which would cover 27,134 sq km – were first put forward early last year by the ruling Communist Party and the State Council, China’s cabinet.

If the 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) proves enough, the Giant Panda National Park will dwarf Yellowstone by three times. With over 80% of the world’s pandas situated in Sichuan, 2018 is the perfect year for a get-together. Getting them to breed? We’ll leave it up to luck.

Giant pandas have a notoriously low reproductive rate, a key factor – along with habitat loss – in their status as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of threatened species.

We get it, guys. Dating around can be unsettling — but perhaps not for the greater good.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

U.K. To Tax Plastic Products To Reduce Pollution

To minimize ocean pollution, nations are campaigning against single-use plastics in the hopes of replacing them with more eco-friendly options. While Costa Rica is steadily approaching its goal of going plastic-free in 2021, Kenya has banned the material altogether. To further the cause, U.K. chancellor Philip Hammond is calling to consider plastic tax.

“The Treasury’s announcement is only a statement of intent, but it recognises the significance of the problem and the urgent need for a solution. There is a long way to go, but hopefully this is the beginning of the end for single-use plastic.” [said Greenpeace campaigner Tisha Brown.]

To stunt the growth of an annual 12 million tons of plastic waste, U.K. stores began pricing plastic bags at 5p. In just 6 months, the move reduced usage by 85%. Suddenly, the tax proposal makes a lot more sense.

“Any action to tackle single-use plastic is a good thing, but we must ensure any action is truly ambitious if we want to make the real difference needed to help save the planet.”

Plastic may be convenient, but the millions of marine animals killed each year will beg to differ. Plastic tax — two thumbs up from me!

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

Endangered Starfish Resurface After 3 Years

Efforts to restore coral beds by returning oyster shells to reefs may be making an impact — but not for sea stars. Plagued by star wasting syndrome in 2013, the majestic creatures saw an uneasy population decline. However, a miraculous turn of events has seen the distinguished species resurface in Southern California.

“It’s a huge difference… A couple of years ago, you wouldn’t find any. I dove all the way as far as Canada, specifically looking for sea stars, and found not a single one,” … said Darryl Deleske, an aquarist at San Pedro, California’s Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

While die-offs have occurred in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, climate change has amplified its latest comeback. With no solid explanation to star wasting syndrome, the disease is tricky. Still, researchers have offered a number of theories.

Scientists suggested that parvovirus, which can be carried by other invertebrates, might be linked to the disease, with the viral agent possibly “going rogue.”

The sea star’s resurgence may be a conundrum even the Mystery Gang can’t solve — but a fortunate one at that!

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

Polar Bear Birth Occurs In Scotland After 25 Years

Despite the looming controversies surrounding climate change, it hasn’t all been bad news for nature. Bans on hunting and the ability to help endangered species remotely have rehabilitated certain populations. One lucky animal is seeing a small but meaningful comeback in Scotland — it’s the polar bear!

The mother bear, Victoria, is one of three adult polar bears at the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig, near Aviemore.

The last polar bear cubs born in the UK were twins at Flamingo Land in Yorkshire on 8 December 1992.

Due to the high mortality rates of polar bear cubs, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland is treading carefully. The wildlife park has since closed Victoria’s compound to the public and limited keeper interaction. Still, though far superior to most others, its zoo-like qualities remain a concern.

“We contend that our efforts on behalf of this species should be focused on mitigating the impacts of human-induced climate change and securing the species in the wild…” [said Born Free president Will Travers.]

Nevertheless, the park remains hopeful. I would, too, after a 25-year dry-spell!

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

British Columbia Bans Recreational Bear Hunting

As the animal kingdom experiences sharp drops in certain populations, there have been global efforts to keep them afloat. India has banned circus shows involving wild animals while the U.K. has banned bee pesticides. Latest to hop on the conservation train is British Columbia, which is putting an end to seasonal grizzly bear hunts.

“It is no longer socially acceptable to the vast majority of British Columbians to hunt grizzly bears,” [Forests Minister Doug] Donaldson said Monday. “That’s the message.”

For 15,000 grizzly bears, a halt to the spring hunt is a cause for celebration. Prior to the ban, 1,700 permit-holders hunted some 300 grizzlies annually. Despite the good news, the B.C. government is now faced with handling rural operators that thrive on the hunt.

“The easy decision is done,” she added. “Now the hard work on addressing all the other cumulative threats to grizzly bears, such as habitat loss and food supply, has to begin.” [said Grizzly Bear Foundation head Rachel Forbes.]

On the human side of things, wildlife protection isn’t all fun and games. For the animals, however, things aren’t so bad.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

India Bans Use Of Wild Animals In Circus Shows

When Indian locals set their minds to something, chances are, they will pull through. To demonstrate the importance of lush forestry (and push boundaries), 1.5 million volunteers planted 66 million trees in 12 hours. When the government refused to act, 700 Kuttemperoor villagers restored a beloved river in only 70 days. To top off the year, the country is now putting an end to circus acts that feature wild animals.

India’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change… has canceled the recognition of all circuses which were found guilty of torturing wild animals including elephants by locking them in cramped cages and thrashing and intimidating them to perform tricks that are unnatural to their inherent characteristics.

In 1998, India banned the exhibition of wild animals in performances, save for elephants. Simply put, bears and tigers “had it worse” compared to the gentle giants. Furthermore, the industry argued a complete loss of animal entertainment would put livelihoods at risk. Activists, along with Nikunj Sharma of PETA, think the excuse is pitiful.

“Livelihood can never be a justification for cruelty on any living being. More and more people today know that circus means cruelty to animals and want no part in it.”

Let’s stick to juggling and acrobatics, shall we?

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends: