Tag Archive | endangered animals

Declining catch rates in Caribbean Nicaragua green turtle fishery may be result of overfishing

A green turtle is being unloaded by fishers in Río Grande Bar community. A 20-year assessment of Nicaragua’s legal, artisanal green sea turtle fishery by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Florida has uncovered a stark reality: greatly reduced overall catch rates of turtles in what may have become an unsustainable take.

A 20-year assessment of Nicaragua’s legal, artisanal green sea turtle fishery has uncovered a stark reality: greatly reduced overall catch rates of turtles in what may have become an unsustainable take, according to conservation scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and University of Florida.

During the research period, conservation scientists estimated that more than 170,000 green turtles were killed between 1991 and 2011, with catch rates peaking in 1997 and 2002 and declining steeply after 2008, likely resulting from over-fishing. The trend in catch rates, the authors of the assessment results maintain, indicates the need for take limits on this legal fishery.

The study now appears in the online journal PLOS ONE. The authors are: Cynthia J. Lagueux and Cathi L. Campbell of the University of Florida (formerly of the Wildlife Conservation Society), and Samantha Strindberg of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“The significant decrease in the catch rates of green turtles represents a concern for both conservationists and local, coastal communities who depend on this resource,” said Dr. Lagueux, lead author of the study. “We hope this study serves as a foundation for implementing scientifically based limits on future green turtle take.”

Caribbean coastal waters of Nicaragua contain extensive areas of sea grass, principal food source for green turtles, the only herbivorous sea turtle species. Green turtles in turn support a number of indigenous Miskitu and Afro-descendent communities that rely on the marine reptiles for income (by selling the meat) and as a source of protein.

The catch data used by the researchers to estimate trends was gathered by community members at 14 different sites located in two geographically political regions of the Nicaraguan coast. The research team analyzed the long-term data set to examine catch rates for the entire fishery, each region, and for individual turtle fishing communities using temporal trend models.

Read the full story here.

Japan accepts court ban on Antarctic whaling

Anti-whaling activists filmed Japanese whaling ships in January this year

The UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that the Japanese government must halt its whaling programme in the Antarctic.

It agreed with Australia, which brought the case in May 2010, that the programme was not for scientific research as claimed by Tokyo.

Japan said it would abide by the decision but added it “regrets and is deeply disappointed by the decision”.

Australia argued that the programme was commercial whaling in disguise.

The court’s decision is considered legally binding.

Japan had argued that the suit brought by Australia was an attempt to impose its cultural norms on Japan.

Science ‘myth’

Reading out the judgement on Monday, Presiding Judge Peter Tomka said the court had decided, by 12 votes to four, that Japan should withdraw all permits and licenses for whaling in the Antarctic and refrain from issuing any new ones.

It said Japan had caught some 3,600 minke whales since its current programme began in 2005, but the scientific output was limited.

Read the full story here.

Keep Big Oil out of Canadian Parks

A law was just passed that gives oil, gas and mining companies the power to open up BC’s provincial parks for industrial activity.

A law was just passed that gives oil, gas and mining companies the power to open up BC’s provincial parks for industrial activity. Resource companies will now be able to drill exploratory wells, build roads and dig giant test pits, all in the name of pipeline and transmission line “research”.

Unless we act now to repeal this law, some of the most beautiful parks in Canada could be opened up to industrial development. This could set a dangerous national precedent as oil, gas and mining companies scramble to extract as many fossil fuel resources as possible from deep below the soil. But if we add our voices to the thousands of letters that the BC Ministry of Environment has already received, they will be forced to respond.

Take action now to keep Big Oil out of our parks.

Our provincial parks are legally held in trust for the inspiration, use and enjoyment of the public. But now, some of our most pristine and beloved landscapes in the country are in real danger. Leaked documents show that the BC government is already considering redrawing the boundaries of 30 parks to accommodate destructive new gas and oil pipelines. And now the new Parks Amendment Act could open up these beautiful landscapes for industrial activity – including exploratory wells 75 metres deep and sample pits 250 metres deep.

Read the full story here.

Galveston Oil Spill Threatening Crucial Bird Refuge

An oil containment boom cuts across a sandbar covered with birds on Pelican Island near Galveston, Texas.

A barge that spilled 168,000 gallons (635,000 liters) of oil Saturday into Galveston Bay is threatening a refuge that’s crucial habitat for thousands of birds, experts say.

The spill occurred when the barge collided with a ship in the Houston Ship Channel near Texas City, on the western coast of Galveston Bay.

The area is about 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the Bolivar Peninsula, which is home to the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary, a preserved area of marshy mudflats that’s home to a variety of geese, ducks, herons, and other waterbirds.

The sanctuary has been designated by bird-advocacy organizations as a Globally Significant Important Bird Area and is part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.

The government’s cleanup efforts began immediately, with 24 response vessels working to skim the oil and to stop the leak from the damaged barge, which was carrying more than 900,000 gallons (3.4 million liters) of oil.

About 69,000 feet (21,000 meters) of oil-absorbing boom have been placed around the site of the spill and along sensitive shorelines, according to the Coast Guard.

At least 50 oiled birds have been discovered so far, though the number will likely be much higher as rescuers expand their search, said Richard Gibbons, conservation director of Houston Audubon.

Read the full story here.

B.C. government gets failing grades in grizzly bear management

Chilko River in the BC Cariboo

A century ago, 35,000 grizzly bears lived in British Columbia and also flourished from Alaska to Mexico, and east to Ontario. Today, only about 15,000 grizzly bears inhabit B.C., having disappeared from the Lower Mainland, the Okanagan and around Fort St. John.

Despite being large and ferocious, grizzlies are highly sensitive to human impacts such as loss and fragmentation of their forest and mountain habitats by clearcuts, roads, oil and gas pipelines and other industrial infrastructure. Female bears reproduce later in life and often produce only a small number of cubs that survive into adulthood. Grizzlies travel long distances to find food, putting them at risk of coming into contact with hunters, roads, towns and other human encroachments into their habitat.

Bear experts have long known that if we want to keep grizzlies on the landscape, we must protect their habitat and ensure that the animals are not needlessly killed by humans. These two strategies are at the core of British Columbia’s official policy, the Grizzly Bear Strategy, which has guided management practices in the province since 1995. The ambitious strategy outlines steps to sustain the province’s bears with healthy populations and recover those with declining populations. It requires the government to protect bear habitat in a network of “grizzly bear management areas” where resource development is prevented and/or strictly managed, hunting is prohibited and risk-related recreational activities — such as off-highway vehicle use — are controlled. The plan also recognizes that human-caused mortality must be reduced and kept below sustainable thresholds by conservatively managing the grizzly bear sport hunt.

Read the full story here.

First Ever Fatwa Issued Against Wildlife Trafficking

Endangered animals are sold at the Jatinegara bird and pet market in Jakarta, Indonesia on November 15, 2008.

Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body has issued a fatwa, or edict, against illegal wildlife trafficking.

This unprecedented step by the Indonesian Council of Ulama, in the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, declares illegal hunting or illegal trading of endangered species to be haram (forbidden).

For many the word “fatwa” took on ominous tones in 1989 when Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a death threat against Salman Rushdie for blasphemy in his novel The Satanic Verses.

But the fatwa itself is merely a call to action. Invoking passages from the Koran, the fatwa (which you can read in full below) is believed to be the first of its kind in the world.

The fatwa requires Indonesia’s 200 million Muslims to take an active role in protecting and conserving endangered species, including tigers, rhinos, elephants, and orangutans.

“This fatwa is issued to give an explanation, as well as guidance, to all Muslims in Indonesia on the sharia law perspective on issues related to animal conservation,” said Hayu Prabowo, chair of the Council of Ulama’s environment and natural resources body.

Read the full story here.

Inaugural World Wildlife Day Brings Dire Warnings

Critically endangered orangutan mother and baby

“Some of the world’s most charismatic animals are in immediate danger of extinction as a result of habitat loss and illicit trafficking,” warned UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as the world marks the first World Wildlife Day.

From Geneva to Tokyo and from New York to Nairobi, people around the world are attending special events to mark the day in Bangladesh, Belgium, China, Germany, Mongolia, New Zealand, Peru, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, the United Kingdom and the United States, among others.

At UN Headquarters in Geneva at the opening of the “Wild and Precious” exhibition, featuring photographs of dancing manta rays, elephants, apes and majestic trees, Ban said today, “Wildlife is part of our shared heritage. We need it for our shared future.”

“Wildlife remains integral to our future through its essential role in science, technology and recreation, as well as its place in our continued heritage,” said Ban, calling on all countries to protect biological diversity and halt environmental crimes.

“While the threats to wildlife are great, we can reduce them through our collective efforts,” he said.

UN General Assembly President John Ashe, who is also in Geneva, said, “The exhibition we open today illustrates how animals, insects, plants and trees are all unique pieces forming the beautiful mosaic of our natural environment. Not only do they sustain our livelihoods, they are an integral part of our cultural heritage through tales and legends, symbols and traditions.”

“In the complex symphony of nature, each and every species plays an essential part to maintain the delicate balance of our planet’s ecosystems,” said Ashe.

The UN General Assembly designated March 3 as World Wildlife Day to mark the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES, an international agreement by the governments of 176 UN Member States.

Administered by the UN Environment Programme, UNEP, in Geneva, its aim is to ensure that global trade in some 35,000 species of plants and animals does not threaten their survival.

CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon said, “We are thrilled by the enthusiasm and overwhelming support for wildlife coming from so many places and people. It gives us great hope that we can secure a sustainable future for wild plants and animals, as well as for ourselves.”

Read the full story here.

Chile Safeguards Blue Whales With New Marine Park

Blue whale shows its tail in Chilean waters

Endangered blue whales and 12 species of dolphins will flourish in the waters of south-central Chile after the government this week inaugurated the largest Marine Protected Area in continental Chile.

Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera, Wednesday visited the Bay of Tic-Toc to inaugurate the new Tic-Toc Marine Park, as part of Chile’s Bicentenary Legacy program.

The reserve spans a marine area of 87,500 hectares, stretching from Punta Yeli to Punta Guala on the southern border of the Los Lagos region. From now on it will be used only for scientific and recreational activities; all industrial activities are prohibited.

Read the full story here.

Tourism best hope for critically endangered lemurs

Madagascar’s lemurs – the world’s most threatened primate – could be saved from extinction by eco-tourism, conservationists say.

The big-eyed fluffy creatures are unique to the island but their numbers have declined dramatically in recent years.

Now researchers have unveiled a survival plan that combines tourism with increased conservation efforts.

Writing in Science, the team says the project will cost £4.6m ($7.6m),

There are over 100 species of lemur known to science, the majority of which are at dangerously low levels, largely due to habitat loss from illegal logging.

Madagascar is the only known home of these species as its unique location, split off from the African mainland, has allowed the primates to evolve in near isolation.

Political turmoil has enveloped Madagascar following a coup in 2009. As a result of the instability, illegal logging has increased on the island, a source of valuable rosewood and ebony trees.

Due to a lack of environmental policing, the habitat of the lemurs has been under constant threat and the primates are now one of the most endangered groups of vertebrates on the planet.

Over 90% of these species are at risk and are on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN)’s red list of threatened species.

This includes over 20 species regarded as critically endangered, which is the highest level of threat.

Read the full story here.

Consultations underway on Baffin Island caribou

Community consultations continue this week in Nunavut’s Baffin region to determine how to respond to the near disappearance of the Baffin Island caribou.

Community consultations continue in Baffin region communities this week.

The Nunavut government and Inuit organizations are hearing from people affected by low numbers of caribou on Baffin Island.

In 2012, an aerial survey of southern Baffin Island confirmed the drastic decline in numbers.

Biologists estimated less than 5,000 animals remain in the South Baffin. In the 1990s, estimates based on smaller scale surveys and local knowledge put the number somewhere between 60,000 and 180,000.

Jaylene Goorts is the a biologist with the Nunavut Department of Environment.

She says that although it may be premature to assess what measures could be taken, some ideas are being discussed, such as limiting the number of caribou per household, or restricting the harvest to bulls only, and not females with calves.

“We’re just trying to gather suggestions at this point,” Goorts says. “Things that communities can suggest for conservation actions that can be taken by communities.”

Read the full story here.