Predators, Dreams, and Extinctions — chasing sabretooths

From one of my favorite blogs, prehistoric cats and beautiful illustrations from paleo-artist Mauricio Antón. I love his work and this piece in particular has an important and timely message!

“Now as you look to the assembly of magnificent carnivorans from the Miocene of Batallones, just imagine your grandchildren facing a similar illustration, but showing the lion, leopard, wolf, lynx, polar bear… by then completely extinct in the wild. Imagine the desolation of knowing that there is nowhere in the world where lions or tigers reign as sabertooths reigned in the distant past. Today those places still exist but if one day they disappear it will be, at least in part, because of our own idleness. Just by having a clear opinion and making it heard, or through our vote, we can make a difference. But trying to convince ourselves that extinction doesn´t matter is perhaps the ultimate sign of cowardice, and thinking that future generations will not be aware enough of their loss to reproach us is the farthest thing from a consolation. We need the fossils in the museums and the living predators out in the wild. Each thing in its place!”

I remember well the first excavations at the fossil site of Batallones-1, over a quarter of a century ago. After some teeth of the saber-tooth cat Promegantereon appeared at the site it seemed likely that, for the first time ever, a complete skull of the mysterious animal could be found. Back then, that possibility excited […]

via Predators, Dreams, and Extinctions — chasing sabretooths

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Saving Africa’s Dappled Beauty

On my trip to Africa last year I had the amazing fortune and privilege to see a handful of leopards which are unbelievable in person with their relaxed, enigmatic, graceful beauty even in the extreme heat. I will be posting more photos of my trip at a later time but wanted to share this one of a lovely young female from Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. She had just had her Impala stolen by the famous resident one-eyed male known as Kataba – more on him later as well, who was sitting in a tree not more than five feet from her!

Leopard, Panthera Pardus, Africa, Zambia, South Luangwa National Park, Endangred Species, South Africa, Big Cats, apex predator, ban trophy hunting, wildlife photography

Right now Panthera pardus needs your help, they have been over-hunted and persecuted to such an extent that South Africa has extended the ban on hunting them into 2017. This means there is a zero quota which has stayed in place since last January. While it doesn’t protect them from illegal hunting, retaliatory killings, poisoning, poaching etc…eliminating at least one form of mortality is a decent step. Leopard numbers are not known and to continue to allow these animals to be killed for sport is just not acceptable.

How you can help

Until midnight on January 30, 2017 the USFWS will be taking comments on leopards. We are asking to protect them from both hunting and the trade in their body parts. What the leopard needs is a reclassification to an Endangered status. If you could take a few minutes to visit the link and leave comments based on the following below.

Please try to modify with your own words but include some of the scientific facts and references as the USFWS will only consider comments if they include this important information. You may leave your comments with your name or as anonymous. Just click the blue ‘Comment Now’ button on the upper right corner! We urgently need more comments before the deadline – please share!

I strongly support the reclassification of the Leopard (Panthera Pardus) to Endangered Species. I support this for the following reasons:

  • First, scientific data shows that leopards are the most persecuted cat species in the world and that there is a major lack of data on the actual number of leopards remaining. Camera trapping surveys conducted during a study period indicate that leopard population in Southern Africa is declining rapidly and at a very concerning rate.
  • One of the major causes of leopard mortality, trophy hunting, can be stopped immediately. It is known that trophy “off take rates” are exceed and that corruption in the release of permits for trophy hunting occurs on a frequent basis making hunting these big cats for sport simply unsustainable.
  • Along with Trophy hunting there is illegal hunting, trapping and snaring, poisoning, killing for skin, legal destruction, farm livestock protection, revenge killings all pushing leopards to the brink of extinction. Leopards are also victims of Climate change and drought, which has an impact and threatens the leopard population worldwide.
  • Leopard habitat has greatly decreased which also threatens the leopard population worldwide; this creates conflict with growing agriculture, livestock farming and urbanization. Fences and fragmentation of the leopard habitat will in turn reduce the reproduction rate of the species.
  • Unreported and illegal killing of leopards is widespread across Southern African countries all of which have inadequate legislation and poor control to persecute illegal killings and manage the leopard population.
  • Another growing problem is the illegal trading of leopard parts – like with other big cats the trade is not adequately punishable or discouraged by the countries where the leopard is an indigenous species.
  • Finally enforcement is weak, incompetent, under-staffed and dysfunctional. Conservation departments are simply unable to monitor a particular elusive species such as leopard.
  • For these many legitimate reasons I am asking that Leopards be immediately reclassified as an Endangered Species and all hunting and trade of this highly imperiled species cease.

For your reference I am providing the following references:

  • Kahler & Gore, M.L. 2005, Local Perceptions, Human-Wildlife conflicts in Namibia
  • Minin-Fraser-Slotow-McMillan, Understanding the preference of tourists for big game species. Implication for Conservation, 2013
  • Nadal &Aguaio, A review of the Economic Analysis of wildlife trade, 2014
  • Richardson-Loomis, The total economic value of threatened, endangered and rare species, 2009
  • Ripple-Estes-Beschta, Status and ecological effects of the world’s largest carnivores, 2015
  • St John-Keane, Identifying indicators of carnivore killing, 2012
  • Swanepoel-Lindsey-Somers, Extent and fragmentation of suitable Leopard habitat in South Africa, 2013
  • Thorn-Green-Scott, Characteristics and determinants of human-carnivore conflict in South African farmland, 2013
  • Wilson-Spaeth, Governments are not doing enough to stop wildlife crime, 2017
    http://city-press.news24.com/…/governments-are-not-doing-en…
  • Cameron, Bustling trade in illegal wildlife products at Johannesburg market, 2016
    https://www.biznews.com/…/watch-bustling-trade-in-illegal-…/
  • THE COMPREHENSIVE STUDY PRESENTED TO THE FWS ON THE 25TH OF JULY 2016 BY HUMANE SOCIETY INTERNATIONAL –USA
    https://drive.google.com/…/0BxP8B7Q8gpNZeEZjTm5ia3FDZ2M/view
  • EMS Foundation Comments to the Department of Environment Affairs/Leopard Trophy Hunts
    https://www.dropbox.com/…/EMS%20Foundation%20Comments%20on%…

On The Edge – Global Tiger Day

July 29 is International Global Tiger Day, marked to bring awareness to a very critically endangered species.

International TIger Day, Tigers, Global TIger Day, July 29 2014, Extinct, China, Tiger skins, Tiger bones, Tiger Trade, Tiger Time, Extinction, Endangered

The Crisis

  • Over 97% of all wild Tigers have been lost
  • It is now estimated that there are less than 3000 left in the wild
  • There are more captive Tigers, like Tony the Truck Stop Tiger, in the USA than in the wild

Threats

  • Deforestation, climate change, loss of prey, contact and conflict with humans and hunting are but a few factors taking a toll on Tigers
  • The biggest threat to Tigers however is from poaching for their bones, skins and various body parts used in TCM

Wildlife crime is extremely organized, violent and it is booming”

  • “The illegal tiger trade is growing because of a claim in Far Eastern culture and Traditional Chinese Medicine that tiger parts can cure human illnesses. This is scientifically unproven. Claims include that consuming a tiger eyeball will help cure epilepsy; or that tiger bone wine will help cure arthritis.”
  • “The demand for tiger skins and tiger bone wine is booming as wealthy businessmen buy these goods to prove their wealth. These products are also used as bribes for promotions within corporations.” – source TigerTime

“…China has created a demand that is unlikely to cease. Today there are tiger farms, where pelts and bones are collected. While tiger farms have many additional issues based on the inhuman conditions farm tigers are kept, these farms fuels the demand of tiger products, wild or not.” – source Earthtimes.org

In the News
Recently China admitted in public that “it permits trade in skins from captive tigers”. It was huge and the news rapidly spread around the world. Read the BBC News article here if you missed it.

While all this is very daunting, I will be the first to admit, it does not mean we give up. Here are some way you can help:

  • Sign the AVAAZ petition to Close all Tiger Farms in China
  • Go to TigerTime, find your country contact listed and email your CITES Rep asking them to support an end to Tiger Farming in China
  • On Facebook follow organizations like End Tiger Trade and Tiger Time
  • Educate by sharing the information on your social networks

International TIger Day, Tigers, Global TIger Day, July 29 2014, Extinct, China, Tiger skins, Tiger bones, Tiger Trade, Tiger Time, Extinction, Endangered