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.

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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!

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Satellites Capture Massive Penguin Colony

Penguins are adorable, and that isn’t ever up for debate. Even political bodies such as the Chilean government would agree. Ultimately, they did snub a billion-dollar mining project to save the flightless birds. However, populations are on the rocky side — or so we thought. Cruising over the Antarctic Peninsula, NASA satellites captured a 1.5 million fleet of penguins.

“The sheer size of what we were looking at took our breath away,” [said] co-author Heather Lynch, Ph.D… “We thought, ‘Wow! If what we’re seeing is true, these are going to be some of the largest Adélie penguin colonies in the world, and it’s going to be well worth our while sending in an expedition to count them properly.”

Drones captured roughly 751,527 pairs of Adélie penguins, which isn’t even the most NASA has ever tallied. It’s only the third or fourth. In the last 60 years, sea ice levels and concentrations caused population drops. Apparently, the feisty fledglings are adapting.

“The size of these colonies makes them regionally important and makes the case for expanding the proposed Weddell Sea Marine Protected Area to include the Danger Islands,” [said] co-author Michael Polito, Ph.D.

What’s that I hear? A lot of happy feet stomping on cool ice up in Antarctica!

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China Calls For Near-Complete Ban On Ivory Sales

Following India’s campaign against the use of wild animals in circus shows, China has caved to international pressures. In a giant leap forward, the mass ivory consumer is finally placing a near-total ban on the material. Things will definitely be looking up for 30,000 African elephants slaughtered by poachers each year.

China and the U.S. both agreed to “near-complete” ivory bans, which prohibit the buying and selling of all but a limited number of antiques and a few other items.

Ivory is in demand for intricate carvings, trinkets, chopsticks, and other items.

With no proven clinical use, ivory used as medication is purely based on superstition. Despite previous international bans, China has consistently managed to quietly condone black market trade — until now.

“The Chinese government’s ban on its domestic ivory trade sends a message to the general public in China that the life of elephants is more important than the ivory carving culture,” said Gao Yufang, a Ph.D. student in conservation biology.

With no means to curve laws, China is finally bound to the positively inescapable ban. There is no guarantee to a drop in poaching, but when society gets it, it seems everything falls naturally into place.

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Last Known Nepalese Performing Bears Are Rescued

From banning their inclusion in recreational hunting and circus shows, bears are off to a great start in the new year. While those in the wild are frolicking in undisturbed freedom, those kept illegally are still waiting for rescue. For two of Nepal’s last known dancing bears, the delay has come to an end with the help of the Jane Goodall Institute of Nepal.

“We know that Rangila and Sridevi were suffering in captivity since they [were] poached from the wild and their muzzles were pierced with hot iron rods,” [said] Neil D’Cruze of World Animal Protection.

Despite the 1973 ban, bear dancing has permeated throughout Nepal. Many handlers turned to violent training methods, even removing the bears’ teeth. While rescue doesn’t liberate an animal from psychological trauma, extensive rehabilitation usually gets the job done.

“They will need long-term, specialized care, but many bears rescued from bear dancing and baiting have been able to live out the rest of their lives peacefully in sanctuaries,” [D’Cruze] said.

Both middle-aged, it’s about time Rangila and Sridevi received a hard-earned break!

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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!

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Be King Of The Jungle: Easy Ways To Help Wildlife

While it’s up to high-profile activists like Leo to rehabilitate the world’s most endangered species, we, too can be wildlife warriors. Ordinary citizens have been doing what they can to keep animal populations afloat. Some have gone as far as fending off wildfires for an entire sanctuary — and despite how heroic it may sound, isn’t always necessary in becoming a true environmentalist. In fact, there are many different and simple ways to help wildlife.

Contrary to popular belief, being involved in animal conservation doesn’t always entail direct contact. You can start you journey (and continue it) within the comfort of your home. A great way to set the scene is to reduce your carbon footprint. This can be as simple as recycling, researching, and making eco-friendly choices. Carbon emissions are unforgiving when it comes to marine life in particular. Slowing the pace of climate change will do wonders for all species.

If you are more of a people person but still have a soft spot for nature’s greatest, share your knowledge. Spread awareness. Use your own strengths to get the word out. If you are an illustrator, infographics are popular on social media. Writing about the state of our wildlife is also important. Anything that will paint a clear picture of the current goings-on may also encourage others to participate. For go-getters, visit an animal preserve. Learning more about how certain species function may help you understand how to approach them.

Believe it or not, your shopping habits can also make a difference. Faux fur may be all the craze, but will often encourage many to purchase real fur. To set an example, buy responsibly. Ivory keychains may look charming, but are never worth the suffering an elephant goes through. In fact, elephant poaching has surpassed its limits in that some calves are being born without tusks. Refraining from purchasing leather may not revive the animal it was taken from, but it will allow the industry to dwindle in popularity. After all, if nobody is buying your product, why go through the trouble of making it?

Many wildlife conservation groups are big fans of hefty donations. But pledging your time is also just as valuable. If you have a weekend to spare, volunteer. There are a profusion of non-profit organizations that will almost always accommodate a number of volunteers. Figure out where your skills will be most useful. Are you looking for a hands-on experience caring for injured or abandoned animals? Perhaps you are also keen on hosting fundraisers. Whatever the case, there will likely be a place for you.

If you are eager to get up close and personal, you can choose to adopt an animal. Of course, these adoptions are symbolic — a Bengal tiger won’t be curling up on your sofa. However, you’d be remotely caring for an animal you can truly develop a bond with by learning about it and providing for it.

Many interested in keeping our wildlife safe often believe that the only way to do so is to walk right into the fire. But most of the time, that isn’t the case. Doing what you can wherever in the world you are is always enough. Trust me — like in a zoo, bears, lions, and monkeys enjoy admiring you from a distance.

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Man Refuses Evacuation To Save Animals From Wildfire

If I could measure how much of an animal lover one truly is, I’d use the locals of Kuta as my benchmark. Due to the recent activity in Mount Ugong, villagers have been relocating livestock into safe zones, despite the hazards. Perhaps the only individual who has since matched their obvious dedication is California local Peter Lang. The 77-year-old refused to evacuate in order to rescue animals from the Safari West Park and Animal Preserve.

Armed with only everyday garden hoses, Lang fought the fires as they began to close in on him and the animals he was trying to protect.

My garden hose can barely sustain my crumbling garden. Quips aside, Lang choosing to remain with the animals meant there was no hope for his own home. Though many have reached out to make donations, Lang humbly refused to receive any personal aid.

“Thank you for all the messages of love and support. So many of you have offered to donate money or establish funds in our name and we are stunned and humbled by your generosity. Please, if you do feel compelled to make a donation, direct it to a charity or organization that benefits all the victims of this terrible event,” [said Lang.]

Lang is truly the epitome of heroism. If a giraffe could, it would probably salute him.

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