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Good News & Success Stories

India sanjay Offline
Wildanimal Enthusiast
( This post was last modified: 02-28-2019, 09:58 AM by Rishi )

A success story of orphaned tigress - Cinderella

This is story of a Amur tigress. It is story of successful conservation program of Russia. Special thanks to my friend LorRaine Partusch for letting me the basic information.

Cinderella, orphaned at 5 months of age due to poachers killing her mother. She was found starving, basically "on deaths door" she was so weak they "literally picked her up". She had frostbite so bad, the tip of her tail was dead. Here's a photo where they temporarily wrapped her tail with duct tape. Her short tale is her visual fingerprint! She would spend the following year 1/2 alone, in an enclosure.

Taught to hunt using prey release boxes. Once determined she successfully took down prey, she was fitted with a radio collar & released into the wild. Not only has she survived, she produced offspring! That, has NEVER been achieved by tiger... ...EVER! Cinderella forever made history, in record books! And even more important, she is no longer alone. You can see how affectionate she is, Cinderella is filled with an emotion she thought would never be attained again, happiness!

Below is the image of Cinderella when she was rescued

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You can read more information about Cinderella here,

Some of more images of cinderella

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09 May 2013, Cinderella Returned to Nature (1) , with Victor Lukarevskiy

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India sanjay Offline
Wildanimal Enthusiast
( This post was last modified: 12-13-2015, 05:19 PM by sanjay )

Rescued February 25, 2012, tiger cub depleted, frostbitten, starving and near death. An orphan, the result of cruel poachers. The cub so weak, her rescuers literally picked her up. Rehabilitated and matured Cinderella was released 09 May 2013.

Cinderella a Fairy Tale, come true!

Tigress became a mother!

In February 2012, in the forest in the south-west of Primorye Territory hunters found a small tiger, then betrothed Cinderella. She was about 6 months old, and she was dying of starvation and frostbite. The tigress was caught by quarantine and after treatment and placed in a rehabilitation center where recovery took a special course: Learn how to avoid danger, to hunt for tigers typical objects.

At the beginning of 2013 the specialists, it was decided to release to the nature Cinderella. The choice fell on the reserve "Bastak", which already lived a lonely male cherished with which it was hoped the scientists will be able to create a couple of tiger.

Since then, like a tigress Cinderella found her home in this reserve, it took two and a half years. During these years, we have conducted continuous monitoring of Cinderella: start with the help of GPS-collars, then footsteps in the snow, and in the last year and a half and with the help of camera traps. Over the entire period of observations received more than a thousand pictures of Cinderella and Cherished.

It is impossible to convey how excited we viewed footage shot camera traps, how happy everyone, even not very good pictures, because thanks to them we know that Cinderella is alive and continues to inhabit in our reserve. And, of course, nurtured the hope of ever seeing the photograph of her cubs.

Looking through the pictures in September-October this year, we have noticed some changes in the appearance of the tigress, which suggested that the recently Cinderella became a mother.

And now we have evidence - we got the first shots of the tigers!

There, Cinderella and cherished two!

The appearance of the offspring at the tigress is a MAJOR EVENT, symbolizing the beginning of the restoration of the Amur tiger population in the territory of the Jewish Autonomous Region.

Special Thanks:

Russian Geographical Society

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)

Institute of Ecology and Evolution. AN Severtsov Russian Academy of Sciences for their indifference to the fate of Cinderella, with the financial support and advice.
Published: 09 December 2015

India sanjay Offline
Wildanimal Enthusiast

Video in which she was released back to the wild

Click on video to play it

See this video which show the short journey of Cinderella from rescue center to become a mother in the wild

Zolushka (Cinderella) herself was rescued as a cub in 2012, rehabilitated by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and a coalition of NGOs, and then released into a nature reserve in 2013

Dr. Dale Miquelle, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Russia Program Director, tells the story of an orphaned tiger cub named Zolushka the Russian equivalent of Cinderella

Click on video to play it
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Matias Offline
Regular Member
( This post was last modified: 10-08-2018, 05:52 PM by Rishi )

This topic is open to anyone who can tell a good story.

This video tells the story of Bubye Valley Conservancy,a private development that was able to revert an entire environmental degradation caused by livestock, where wildlife was exhausted, without major predators and very few herbivores, a fantastic recovery. They are 374,000 hectares, fenced, where animal life presents its splendor. They have close to 500 lions (the largest wild population in Zimbabwe). The largest rhinoceros population in this country - the fourth largest in the world. For the government Bubye works as a faithful trustee of the rhinos, due to the effectiveness of their protection. When Cecil was shot in 2015, this venture was relatively threatened, the tourist flow receded and maintaining a structure of this size required permanent funding. The shock wave was not welcome. As much as the vast majority desire the end of the trophy hunting, it is desirable to know some aspects where legitimate implements are found and their importance in the pluralized aspect of existence, recovery and sustainable use of natural resources. The University of Oxford (WildCRU) has had and has ongoing academic projects - researchers are pursuing master's and doctoral theses here.

A history of resilience and recovery, at that time, unprecedented. As the future unfolds, such ventures will be essential for ecosystem recovery. As a private enterprise aimed at profit trophy hunting and the sale of game meat was its financial booster. Today, there are some areas for non-consumptive tourism, and the more visitors come, the more possibilities open up for hunting blocks to be converted into photographic spaces. Many think not to visit hunting grounds ... yet the reasoning is the opposite. The need to implement a model that works and promotes wildlife and the recovery of its habitat is increasingly essential - the holistic view. Know the problem and develop strategies capable of developing, promoting and competently managing conservation, without dogmas and other inhibiting aspects.

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Matias Offline
Regular Member
( This post was last modified: 09-22-2018, 09:18 AM by Rishi )

Vicuña's population recovery is widely recognized as a result of the government's decision to allow communities to directly benefit from its sustainable use. When acquiring commercial value the vicuna had sealed its destiny. Any species framed in this context does not end to extinction. Many use the vicuna's example as a model for other species to have the same fate, ensuring their survival, and notably the rhinoceros is one of them. Given as a milestone - from 5,000 to 200,000 animals - is one of the greatest stories of modern conservation.
Park ranger

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*This image is copyright of its original author

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*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author

How a national reserve stopped the extinction of the Peruvian vicuña

Today, there are 200,000 vicuñas in the Andean regions of Peru, and Pampa Galeras National Reserve alone is home to 5,000 vicuñas.
by Vanessa Romo on 17 September 2018 | Translated by Sarah Engel
Mongabay Series: Global Forests

  • In the 1960s, the total number of vicuñas in Peru was approximately 5,000.
  • The community of Lucanas was able to overcome violence from internal armed conflicts, and now those in the community use vicuña fur from Pampa Galeras National Reserve.
  • Every year, the Lucanas community exports 1,000 kilograms (about 2,200 pounds) of vicuña fur.
  • The National Service of Natural Protected Areas (SERNANP) will give a “green seal” to the fur sheared off the vicuñas by the community for their outstanding conservation practices.
LUCANAS PROVINCE, Peru — At an altitude of 13,450 feet, the icy wind pounds whatever lies in its path. After 23 years of living in the Pampa Galeras – Barbara D’Achille National Reserve, Hernán Sosaya is well-adjusted and can withstand the blustering wind.

At the top of a plain, a vicuña (Vicugna vicugnanotices) and a cousin to llamas, sees that we are only a few feet away and raises its head.

“You can recognize the male because it’s always at the front of the herd, attentively watching for danger,” says Sosaya. The male vicuña starts to move away and the rest of the group trots along behind him.

The park rangers at Pampa Galeras, like Sosaya, are experts at monitoring vicuñas. Every day, they are monitored within the park, which is 40 square miles and located in the district of Lucanas in Peru’s Ayacucho region. With more than 5,000 vicuñas currently living in the protected area, monitoring them has not been easy.

Allan Flores, the manager of the reserve, put this into perspective with this piece of data: in the 1960s, there were about 5,000 vicuñas living in the entire country of Peru.

Back then, throughout the entire Ayacucho region, including the reserve, there were only about 1,000 vicuñas. Sosaya says that a research project on the vicuña was begun in the 1960s in collaboration with German researchers, and the South American camelid was listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List. One of the actions taken to conserve the species was the creation of a reserve to help the animals in danger. That was how Galeras, as the reserve is referred to locally, was created.the late 1960s, the vicuña was listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List. After hard work to conserve the species, it is now under the “least concern” category. Photo by Vanessa Romo for Mongabay Latam.
As we walked down the road, groups of vicuñas fed on the grass and turned to look at us with curiosity. Their currently tranquil state was achieved after years of effort: first, the poaching of the area’s vicuñas had to be stopped.

The animals were hunted illegally because their fur could be sold for up to $1,000 per kilogram (about 2.2 pounds). In addition to poaching, violence from terrorism in the area also threatened the vicuñas. Because of these challenges, Sosaya appreciates that those helping the vicuñas have since been fortunate. Today, there are 200,000 vicuñas living in Peru’s Andean region.

Pampa Galeras, the survivor

 “Next time, we’re coming back for you, buddy,” is a phrase Sosaya will never forget hearing when he was only 12 years old. It was how terrorists from the guerilla group known as the “Shining Path” warned him that his time had come. Lucanas, like other districts in Ayacucho, was hit hard during the armed conflict.

According to the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 227 people were killed in the war between 1980 and 1994. In his house in Pampahuasi, in Lucanas, Sosaya recounted that his family lived in fear because other people had already been murdered in 1983, when Sosaya himself was threatened. Sadly, two of Sosaya’s family members have been killed in the conflict: his mother and his three-year-old brother.t down the offices at Pampa Galeras National Reserve because of terrorist attacks by the guerrilla organization “Shining Path.” Various buildings were destroyed in the attacks, and today they still stand as a reminder. Photo by Vanessa Romo for Mongabay Latam.
Until 1994, those living in Lucanas had to stay in constant motion in order to stay alive. That was the only way to avoid being trapped by the Shining Path or by the Peruvian armed forces. Every time Sosaya travels to Lucanas, he remembers the makeshift bed that he made with his father in a cave in the mountains there. The rest of the time, he lives at Pampa Galeras, which is about an hour away from his house.

Pampa Galeras is also a survivor of the war.

In 1988, the main base and the control checkpoints of the protected area —the third oldest in Peru— were shut down and the employees were evacuated. However, by that year, the vicuña’s lifespan and gestation period had been established. The information obtained during that period of research was later used to repopulate other areas with vicuñas.

Six years later, when the team of park rangers was able to return, only half of the vicuñas remained in the reserve. “We don’t have the exact number [of vicuñas] that were unharmed because the censuses didn’t return until the late 1990s,” says Reino Joyo. With 41 years at the reserve, he has more experience than most of the country’s park rangers, and was also an eyewitness to the violence in the reserve.

“It was sad leaving and sad coming back,” says Joyo. The reserve’s employees had to start over from almost zero. That was when the real connection between the district of Lucanas and Pampa Galeras began. The connection grew stronger after the signing of an agreement with the Peruvian government, which authorized the rural community to play a role in the conservation of the vicuña and to use their fur.

With the work of the community’s farmers and the reserve’s park rangers, the current vicuña population was reached. There are also an additional 10,000 vicuñas living in the reserve’s buffer zone. The vicuña fur industry has even become a profitable activity for the residents of Lucanas to take part in.
ay Latam.

On May 23, 2017, Pampa Galeras National Reserve celebrated its 50-year anniversary. Corina Rojas, president of the farming community of Lucanas, also turned 50 years old. She says that these are the “designs of destiny.”

As she sat at her desk in her office, Rojas called Pampa Galeras a blessing. She was born in Lucanas when it was common to own a vicuña as a pet. “Some people even had a leoncito (small Andean puma) in their yards; we took care of them as if they were dogs,” says Rojas. Preventing their pets from being indiscriminately captured was difficult.

Rojas smiled as she described all she has accomplished this year in her position. She has managed to increase the salaries of the employees dedicated to shearing the vicuñas’ fur to $410.

Rojas also resumed business with Loro Piana, an exclusive Italian fabric company that is now the community’s main buyer of vicuña fur. She continued smiling as she described all the work she did to liberate 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) of vicuña fur that were seized two years ago due to a paperwork issue.
“It wasn’t because of a lack of certification,” she clarified. The farming community of Lucanas is one of the few places in Peru that has a certificate of origin. Since 2012, there has also been an agreement between Lucanas and Peru’s National Forestry and Wildlife Agency that allows residents to sell vicuña fur under the brand name “Vicuña Perú.” This was a requirement imposed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITIES) for the countries that sell raw vicuña fur, such as Bolivia and Argentina.

Víctor Cotrina, an engineer and the manager of the community’s vicuña project, says that this agreement will be valid until 2021. “That is important because market prices began to fall due to the commercialization of illegally-sourced vicuña fur,” says Cotrina. This way, the government can guarantee the traceability and legality of the fur.

There are about 210 people in the community who divide the work to obtain the anxiously-awaited fur. The work begins with a group of 20 to 30 people who participate in “the chaco,” an ancestral custom that ends with the capture and shearing of the vicuñas. This is done between May and November, but the main date is June 24, which is known as “Farmer’s Day” in Peru.

“Here, we can capture up to 500 vicuñas, but after setting aside the ones who are sick, pregnant, or very small, we can only shear the fur off of about 150 of them,” says Reino Joyo. Although the community is in charge of the shearing, the park rangers have lots of experience in it as well. “We were the ones who trained the community members,” agreed Sosaya.

After the chaco, the fur needs to be cleaned. This task is predominantly performed by the women. Magaly, who has been doing this work for 16 years, believes that women are born with fingertips that are already well-adapted to the task, which requires lots of finesse and precision.

At a table underneath bright white lights and using a dish of grease, the women can clean up to one kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) of fur per month, which they can sell for about $302. Because of her seniority, Magaly has permission to clean the fur at her farm while taking care of her cattle. She believes that the price is not fair. “If we could make hats or make clothes with this fur, we would make more income,” she says.rge of cleaning the vicuña fur before it is sent to Lima. The fur is later sent to various countries with a demand for it, like Italy. Photo by Vanessa Romo for Mongabay Latam.
Cotrina, the engineer, says that the increase in the amount of vicuña fur produced in Peru and elsewhere in Latin America has caused a decrease in its price. One kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) of fur used to be valued at $500, but now it is only sold for about $390. Additionally, there was a setback when those in the vicuña fur industry lost their agreement with Loro Piana, the Italian company that had guaranteed them a stable price until 2023 and had also been their main buyer. “With this new leadership, we have resumed business, but we are planning to have a national clothing industry,” says Cotrina.

In the international market, Loro Piana can sell a bag of vicuña fur for $15,213. Rojas, the president of the farming community of Lucanas, plans to lay the foundations to buy machinery that would allow the community to produce clothing with the fur. “People from the Ministry of Production arrived last year to train us, but the plan was paralyzed with the political changes,” says Rojas. In her opinion, the use of resources from Pampa Galeras should go beyond vicuña fur.

The future of Lucanas and Pampa Galeras

Pampa Galeras National Reserve’s potential in terms of landscape and tourism is based on the abundance of vicuñas, guanacos (another camelid similar to the vicuña), condors, forests filled with trees of the genus Polylepis, and prehistoric and pre-Incan remains, such as cave paintings. A common theme of those cave paintings is, of course, the vicuña.

In light of this, the farming community of Lucanas has planned to construct lodging accommodations in front of Pampa Galeras, and the community members plan to be in charge of the electricity and communications for the reserve. Even today, after 50 years, they are still not in charge of these services.

Flores, the manager of the reserve, told Mongabay Latam that although there is a large group of people interested in seeing Galeras, the infrastructure capable of receiving large groups of people doesn’t exist at the moment. “We register 3,600 visitors per year now because we have few rooms in the reserve’s headquarters,” said Flores. He added that entrance is currently free because a concrete plan for visits has not yet been developed.

Meanwhile, there are other urgent issues to consider. After the eradication of poachers within the reserve, the main cause of death for vicuñas is crossing the Interoceanic Highway in search of water and pastures. “We have placed signs signaling that speed needs to be reduced in areas where the vicuñas travel, but we still have at least three deaths per month,” says Mily Cárdenas, the reserve’s youngest ranger. As part of the community’s agreement, Rojas says that they have been adding new sources of natural water within the protected area to try to prevent the vicuñas from crossing the highway.
With this type of action, along with a recent update in their vicuña management plan, the community has earned the attention of the National Service of Natural Protected Areas (SERNANP). The community will be the first to receive the title “Conservation Allies” and earn the “green seal.” Flores, the reserve’s manager, believes that this recognition will allow them to increase the price of their fur by at least $100 per kilogram, which means that they could earn another $500 in international markets.

“We want Pampa Galeras to be the pilot program of this green seal — a certification that guarantees that a product is obtained under high environmental standards,” says Flores. The goal is to transfer this seal to all the rest of the resources that are obtained from Peruvian protected areas.

Two vicuñas have been staying inside the reserve’s headquarters for the last few months, where they are being protected by park rangers. Their work involves ensuring that the reserve’s vicuñas are always part of a herd. If a young vicuña is found alone, the park rangers take care of it until it is slightly older and can join a new herd.

“We have to give milk to Nenita,” Sosaya reminds Cárdenas. Like all the tasks at the reserve, they take turns feeding the young vicuña they rescued. The office’s chalkboard has a feeding schedule for Nenita, who is fed about four times per day. Cárdenas prepares the feeding bottle and walks toward the young vicuña.

She is named Nenita because Nena is the name of another vicuña who came to the reserve before she did, who will soon return to life in the wild. Nenita drinks every last drop of milk, and Cárdenas pets her for a few seconds.

“We have to be careful not to domesticate her,” she says. For everyone involved —park rangers and community members— it’s clear that she should no longer be in captivity. The vicuña, the Peruvian national animal displayed proudly on the nation’s flag, has always deserved to be free.

Domain: Mongabay (with original formatting)

k ranger Mily Cárdenas with a young rescued vicuña. Every day, vicuñas are carefully watched over at Pampa Galeras National Reserve. Photo by Vanessa Romo for Mongabay Latam.

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India Rishi Offline

Nothing conclusive but as far as environment is concerned, if it isn't bad news that's good news

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Matias Offline
Regular Member

Bush tales: The story of the painted wolves of Balule
Posted on 29 November, 2018 by Sam Hankss  in Animal EncountersDestinationsKrugerSouth AfricaWildlife
Posted: November 29, 2018

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© Sam Hankss Photography

‘Painted wolves’, ‘Cape hunting dogs’ or ‘wild dogs’. No matter what you call them, one thing is certain: they are one of the most enigmatic and charismatic animals on the African continent, unfortunately they are also one of the most persecuted. With numbers as low as six thousand across the continent, they are Africa’s second most endangered carnivore running in behind the Ethiopian wolf.

Throughout the Greater Kruger there are believed to be no more than 350 individuals. During my time as a safari guide in Balule Nature Reserve, I was lucky enough to follow the ups and downs of a pack of painted wolves who entered our reserve and decided to call it home.

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Matias Offline
Regular Member

Famous super tusker Tim rescued from certain death

Posted on 5 December, 2018 by News Desk  in Animal EncountersNewsWildlife and the News Desk post series

Mondays don’t start much worse than this: a report received of a big bull elephant stuck in the mud deep in the Kimana swamp. Our hearts sank. Given the size, there was a small number of elephants it could be, and a small chance of a successful rescue.
An aerial view confirmed the worst: it was Tim, an icon of Amboseli and one of Africa’s largest and most magnificent elephants. He was stuck in a section of deep mud, surrounded by farms and a growing crowd, and clearly in serious trouble.

Big Life Foundation rangers responded immediately, but the outlook wasn’t good. Tim was up to his neck in mud and fully immobilised, with zero chance of escaping on his own. Nor was there a way for any kind of vehicle to get close enough in the swamp, either to pull him out or to dig around him. Failure – Tim’s death – was suddenly an even more real possibility.

Regardless, everyone got to work. This was a challenge of physics: how to pull a 6-ton object out of a suction pit, when that object is alive, thrashing, and has no idea the people around him are trying to help. Tim was understandably aggressive and stressed, and tiring fast. Exhaustion alone can kill an animal, and it became a race against the clock to try something, anything, to save him.

The first step was to loosen the mud, so rangers knocked a hole in a concrete agricultural furrow upstream. Water flowed in, and the mud slowly started to release its grip. Tim could move a bit more, and it was helping, but it wasn’t going to solve the problem.

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India Rishi Offline

MP excels in man-eater tigers’ rehab

Rescued "problem tiger" in Madhya Pradesh.

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BHOPAL: The wildlife conservation model of Madhya Pradesh envisaging “rehabilitation” of man-eater tigers had come into sharp focus in the wake of shooting tigress Avni, that purportedly killed 13 people in Maharashtra, triggering an outrage among animal lovers.

In the past one decade, at least 70 tigers in Madhya Pradesh that had attacked or killed humans after being caught in conflict situation with them in different wildlife sanctuaries or reserve forests in the state, were removed from their habitats, put in quarantine and later released in the wild after being reintroduced to their natural food chain.

“If my memory serves me right, I can vouch that not a single big cat which attacked or killed human beings has so far been killed,” Rajnish Singh, spokesman of forest department of MP government,  told this newspaper.

According to him, half-a-dozen such big cats have been reintroduced to their food spectrum in last one year itself by adopting the conservation model. If there are reports of a tiger killing humans, the chief wildlife warden of a state can take a call either to kill or “reform” a big cat to restore their natural food habit.

But, MP has so far ensured that the “rogue” tigers do not meet the fate of Avni.

“We have the expertise  to reintroduce such big cats to their natural food chain. Besides, we are also armed with required logistics for the purpose,” Mr Singh said.

A litter of rescued cubs were nursed by using fake nipples on soft toy.

The successful rehabilitation of three such big cats, including a tigress, in the recent past speaks volume on the wildlife conservation model of MP forest department.

An adult tigress of Kanha National Park had killed a woman in a village in the buffer zone of the park. It was rescued by park authorities and then put in an enclosure for six months.
It was released in the wild after it was reintroduced to its natural food chain. In another instance, two tigers who purportedly killed three children in Budhni were put in quarantine and released in the core area of the forest to ensure they lived among their prey bases.

“The term, man-eater, is a misnomer. No tiger ever turns man eater. In fact, human beings do not constitute food spectrum of tiger species. The big cats sometimes attack human beings in self-defence and sometimes kill them when they suffer from illness that prevents them from hunting,” said wildlife conservationist Faiyaz A. Khudsar.

“Each tiger in the wild plays key role in ecological balance in their regions. There are very few free ranging tigers (those in wild) left now. Killing of a big cat is not a wise option. Because, in that case, we lose a species of particular gene pool,” Dr Khudsar said.
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United Kingdom Sully Offline
Ecology & Rewilding
( This post was last modified: 12-12-2019, 08:20 AM by sanjay )

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Ecology & Rewilding
( This post was last modified: 12-15-2019, 02:33 AM by Sully )

Animals in Chernobyl
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Ecology & Rewilding

Six conservation success stories of 2019

1.) Humpback Whale numbers bounce back

The first conservation success story is a rebound in humpback whale numbers in the South Atlantic.

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New research shows that thanks to intensive conservation efforts, whales in the South Atlantic have rebounded from the brink of extinction as numbers rise from 450 to over 25,000.

Intense action from the whaling industry in the early 1900s saw the population of western South Atlantic humpbacks whales fall to only 450 whales, as most of the mammals were hunted within 12 years.

After protections were put in place in the 1960s and the International Whaling Commission issued a suspension on all commercial whaling in the 1980’s, the struggling population started to recover. Now a new study co-authored by Grant Adams, John Best and André Punt from the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences has revealed that the species’ population (Megaptera novaeangliae) has rebounded to 25,000.

The study used records from the outset of commercial exploitation of humpbacks for pervious data and air and ship based surveys, as well as advanced modelling techniques, were used to predict the current population. Authors suggest the model used in the study could be used to determine population recovery for other species.
The study also examined how the increase of South Atlantic humpbacks may impact the wider ecosystem. Whales are key to the food chain, stabilising food flow and maintaining a healthy ocean. Whale faecal plumes contain valuable nutrients that stimulate the production of microscopic marine algae, or phytoplankton, which form the base of many marine food chains making the a key part of marine ecosystems.

2.) Rewilding the Ukrainian Danube Delta

The second conservation success story of 2019 is the success of rewilding efforts in the Danube Delta.

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Aerials over the Danube delta rewilding area, Romania

Financed by crowdfunding, the removal of 10 obsolete dams feeding the Danube Delta and the reintroduction of water buffalo will help to restore wild nature and provide economic benefit to local communities in the Delta.

Where the Danube River meets the Black Sea, lies Europe’s largest wetland area. Rewilding Europe has made efforts to re-wild the area to convert it to one of the wildest, best-protected and most famous wildlife areas of the whole continent.

Rewilding is a form of conservation aimed at protecting and restoring natural processes and wilderness areas, providing connectivity between the areas, and reintroducing apex predators and keystone species.

The Re-introduction of the Water Buffalo

May 2019 saw the release of water buffalo to the Danube Delta by Rewilding Europe.

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A herd of seven animals were successfully released on Ermakov Island, in the Ukrainian part of the Danube Delta in the hope they will create many benefits for nature as well as bringing tourism opportunities.

Water buffalo a positive effect on flora and fauna by feeding, trampling and wallowing, creating a more diverse landscape. They preventing single plant species from dominating the land. Furthermore, their faeces provides food for insects, while the small pools of water they create are important for many amphibians.

The removal of dams

2019 also saw the start of the removal of multiple dams in the Ukrainian Danube Delta. The removal of 10 obsolete dams on the Kogilnik and Sarata Rivers will rapidly revitalise the rivers, restore natural processes, support the comeback of wildlife, and underpin the development of local nature-based economies.

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The removal was carried out by a local contractor and financed by the Endangered Landscapes Programme and a crowdfunding campaign. The campaign was organised by WWF in the Netherlands and was part of the Dam Removal Europe (DRE) initiative.

A series of 10 small dams previously restricted the flow of the Kogilnik and Sarata Rivers, negatively impacting river beds and local biodiversity. Dams in general restrict sediment flows, fragment habitats and disrupt the migratory pathways of fish. The removal of the dams will allow 20 km of new habitat to be created along the two rivers, including flooded meadows. This will be advantageous for local wildlife species, including wild carp, frogs, otters and breeding and migratory birds.

The project will enter its second phase in 2020, when feasibility studies for upriver channel clearance and restoration will be conducted.
Today rewilding is gaining momentum as a progressive and effective approach to conservation in Europe. Following this trend, Rewilding Europe continues to foster collaboration and amplify results.

3.) China, Kenya and Botswana partner to stop wildlife trafficking

Another one of our top conservation success stories of 2019 is the China’s effort to curb illegal wildlife trafficking in Africa.

Workshops are being held for Chinese nationals living and working in Kenya and Botswana to raise awareness on wildlife trafficking.

*This image is copyright of its original author

The workshops, which took place in March 2019, were attended by more than 200 Chinese nationals working in state-owned enterprises and private businesses.

With the recent expansion of Chinese investment in Africa, ivory smuggling incidents involving Chinese nationals continue to be reported. The strengthening of laws to address illegal wildlife trade and increasingly tougher penalties has meant that Chinese citizens based in these countries need to be more aware of these regulations and the consequences of engaging in wildlife crimes.

Chinese consumer demand is a main driver of the illegal wildlife trade, threatening various species including pangolins, elephants and rhinos. China’s recent decision to close its domestic ivory market, to ban the commercial processing of rhino horn and tiger bone and tighten its legislation on trade in other endangered species shows the government’s commitment to tackling illegal wildlife trade.

The Chinese government is also intensifying the monitoring of its markets and crucial transport links and increasing border inspection. The workshop in Africa are also part of the government’s long-term strategy to educate its citizens about the laws governing the wildlife trade.

Zhou Fei, chief programme officer of WWF China said:

“Legal ivory is no longer available in China. In addition, any attempt to bring ivory from abroad is illegal and will be punished by law. Ivory or rhino horn items are simply not options as souvenir or gifts for international travellers.”
A public pledge to say no to illegal wildlife trade was made at the end of the workshop by the representatives of the local Chinese nationals and companies in Kenya and Botswana. The workshop was the 15th of its kind, jointly conducted by WWF and China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration, in collaboration with various Chinese Embassies in Africa.

4.) Mountain gorilla numbers grew despite threats

The fourth in a line of conservation success stories of 2019 is an increase in mountain gorilla numbers.

*This image is copyright of its original author

© Agami Photo Agency

Mountain gorillas were once were once expected to become extinct by the end of the twentieth century, but thanks to sustained conservation efforts, a recently released survey has shown an increase in numbers in the Virunga Massif. Numbers rose from 480 in 2010 to 604 in 2016.

The Virunga Massif is spread across the DRC, Uganda and Rwanda and covers 11,445 acres. It is one of only two areas where mountain gorillas can be found.

Although the increase in numbers brings the global population of mountain gorillas to over 1,000 individuals, they still remain a critically endangered species in urgent need of protection. They are often caught in snares and traps that set out to capture antelopes for meat. More importantly, due to their limited range and proximity, they are also vulnerable to the impacts of human development and disease.

The survey

The mountain gorilla conservation survey in Virunga Massif was undertaken by the Protected Area Authorities in the DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda under the transboundary framework of the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration.

The teams surveying the mountain gorillas used electronic devices to gather information on population numbers, demographics and threats the species may face. Mountain gorillas are the only species of great apes that are not seeing a decline in their populations.

Bas Huijbregts, manager for African species conservation at WWF said:
“This hopeful news for mountain gorillas solidifies an upward population trend that started over a decade ago. It is the result of impressive long-term collective conservation efforts between the three gorilla range countries and their partners, which not only benefits our closest relatives but also supports the livelihoods of local people in the Virunga’s.”

5.) The world’s largest clean-up of ocean plastic

Another one of the top conservation success stories of 2019 is the attempt to remove plastic from the oceans.

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Every year, millions of tons of plastic enter the oceans and a large portion is caught in a vortex of circulating currents, known as garbage patches – the biggest being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

100 million marine animals die each year from plastic waste. Over 100,000 marine animals die every year from entanglement in plastic and it is estimated that 12-14,000 tons of plastic are ingested by North Pacific fish annually.

The Ocean Clean Up project, founded in 2013 by Boyan Slat, aims to extract plastic pollution from the oceans using a barrier pushed by wind and currents to scoop up marine debris in the garbage patches in the hope to reduce the impacts of plastic on marine wildlife.

2019 saw the System 001/B successfully start capturing and collecting marine plastic debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch using the natural forces of the ocean to catch and concentrate plastic. In addition to capturing visible pieces of plastic debris, as well as ghost fishing nets, the System 001/B also successfully captured microplastics as small as 1mm.

Boyan Slat said:

“After beginning this journey seven years ago, this first year of testing in the unforgivable environment of the high seas strongly indicates that our vision is attainable and that the beginning of our mission to rid the ocean of plastic garbage, which has accumulated for decades, is within our sights.”

“Our team has remained steadfast in its determination to solve immense technical challenges to arrive at this point. Though we still have much more work to do, I am eternally grateful for the team’s commitment and dedication to the mission and look forward to continuing to the next phase of development.”
Although the Ocean Clean Up is only targeting a small percentage of marine plastic waste, the invention is a step in the right direction to help the chances of survival for many marine species.

6.) $140 million invested in protecting the Peruvian Amazon

The last conservation success story of 2019 is the investment of $140 million into the Amazon.

*This image is copyright of its original author

© Eduardo Huelin

The Amazon is in the news time and time again for forest fires making way animal agriculture, destroying the local flora and forcing animals from their homes, causing the extinction of many species. However the government of Peru, WWF and partners have committed US $140 million for the conservation and protection of the Peruvian Amazon.

The much needed investment will go into expanding and managing nearly 17 million hectares of protected areas in the Peruvian Amazon. The government-led initiative will allow Peru’s protected areas to be financially sustainable, by promoting the wellbeing of the local people who depend upon the health of the rainforests, which in turn will conserve the local biodiversity and ecosystems.

Peru is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries with 60% of Peruvian territory covered by the Amazon rainforest, more than in any other country. It is home to thousands of plants and animals such as Jaguars, the Amazon River dolphin and the spectacled bear.
Over 330,000 people depend directly on the services that forests provide and many benefit from a healthy, rich and biodiverse forest, rather than a deforested one.

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Ecology & Rewilding

Rare fish-eating crocodile confirmed nesting in southwest Nepal after 37 years

There may be a glimmer of hope for the critically endangered gharial, a unique crocodile known for its long, narrow snout that ends in a bulbous growth resembling a cooking pot called a ghara.

The fish-eating crocodile was once widespread across the rivers of the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. But now the gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) is on the brink of extinction, thanks to the loss and degradation of its riverine habitat, depletion of fish stocks in rivers, and accidental drowning in fishing nets.
In Nepal, the situation is grave. Fewer than 100 mature adult gharials are estimated to remain in the country, with only one population, in Chitwan National Park, known to be breeding until recently. Now, researchers have recorded more than 100 gharial babies in yet another site, in Bardia National Park in southwest Nepal.

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author
Adult male gharial in India. Image by Charles J. Sharp via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).
The last time gharials were recorded breeding in Bardia was in 1982, when gharial eggs were collected from the Babai River and taken to a captive facility, researchers say. Since then, both adult male and female gharials have been recorded in the Karnali and Babai rivers in Bardia, but never a nest with hatchlings.
This year, researchers from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Biodiversity Conservancy Nepal confirmed three gharial nests on a sandbank in Babai and counted around 100 gharial hatchlings, together with three adult females and one adult male.
“Hatchlings were basking on the sand bank at the water’s edge when first encountered and female Gharials appeared to be guarding them by staying half submerged near the water’s edge,” they write in a report published in a newsletter by the IUCN SSC Crocodile Specialist Group. “When we approached closer (maintaining a safe distance), all hatchling quickly jumped into the river and started to swim.”

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author
Gharial hatchlings swimming in the Babai River in Bardia National Park. Image by Ashish Bashyal/ZSL.
Figuring out where the gharials breed is the first step to protecting them, the researchers say. And protecting them is critical since Nepal’s gharial population has declined dramatically because of dams and barrages modifying river flows; sand mining, agriculture and pollution degrading and destroying their habitats; and declining fish numbers in the rivers.
“Understanding whether gharials were breeding in Bardia National Park was considered to be a top priority for the species, as upcoming plans to divert nearby river systems — which would likely have an impact on the habitat and quality of the river for gharial, are currently underway,” Rikki Gumbs, a doctoral researcher with ZSL, said in a statement. “Given the species is limited to around five populations across its entire range, this is such a positive discovery, and a critical step for the long-term recovery of the species in Nepal.”
Spotting hatchlings doesn’t necessarily translate to a better future for the gharials, though. The animals continue to be threatened across their range in Nepal, but conservationists have been trying to work with local communities living around the protected areas to help protect the animals.
“People generally have a great affinity for gharials, they don’t attack humans as they generally feed on fish — and their snout is much too fragile,” said Ashish Bashyal, a conservation biologist with the Biodiversity Conservancy Nepal. “We want to try and harness that love for the animal into local community conservation action in order to help monitor how the hatchlings [fare].”

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*This image is copyright of its original author
Adult gharial with hatchlings. Image courtesy of ZSL.
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Ecology & Rewilding

February 4, 2020

A wild elephant has been sighted for the first time in many years in Senegal’s Niokolo-Koba National Park.
The lone bull was spotted by a field team including a researcher from ECF partner, Panthera, in Niokolo on January 19.  The sighting is believed to be the first confirmed direct sighting of an elephant in the park in many years.  
An image of the bull had previously appeared on a camera trap in 2019. Additional camera trap images also showed elephants in other areas of the park, but no scientist had physically seen a forest elephant in Niokolo for years. 
Philipp Henschel, Regional Director of West and Central Africa, Panthera, says the elephant was fairly calm when spotted and wasn’t far from fresh elephant dung that had been seen only a few days earlier. 
“Everybody in our team was super excited about this sighting,” he added. “The fact to see the animal in broad daylight, and the placid behaviour the bull exhibited during the encounter, are both testimony that our joint conservation efforts in this park are finally paying off. Over the past 2 ½ years ranger teams from park authority DPN (Direction des Parcs Nationaux) have invested an impressive patrol effort to secure the area, supported technically and logistically by our local Panthera team, and thanks to contributions from our long-term partners PMC (Petowal Mining Company) and WCN-LRF (Wildlife Conservation Network’s Lion Recovery Fund).”
The sighting has delighted conservationists but also raised serious questions about the future of this fragile elephant population. 
Senegal has one of the most threatened elephant populations in Africa and remains a hub for the illegal ivory trade. In the late 1970s, the population at Niokolo - Senegal’s largest national park, was estimated to be around 450 elephants. Today it's believed only 5-10 elephants are left.  Decades of poaching have decimated populations of lions, leopards, elephants and other species that once roamed this popular West African tourist destination in larger numbers. It remains a unique cradle for endangered West Africa wildlife, however, and also harbours the world’s last remaining wild population of Western giant eland as well as West Africa’s very last population of African wild dogs.
Panthera, which works to protect wild cats and their habitats, has been active in Niokolo-Koba since 2016, to support protection and management efforts by park authorities DPN financially and technically. This joint park support project, accompanied by long-term partners PMC and WCN-LRF, has started operations in a pilot project area encompassing 650 square miles of gallery forests, flooded savannah plains and rocky slopes and hills in the southeast of the park. It also recently built a new ranger outpost in this remote part of the park and the elephant sighting was made in the vicinity of this post.  In 2020, the joint DPN/Panthera efforts will be expanded to the remainder of the park, to try and mitigate the constant threat poachers pose this second-largest national park in West Africa.
The sighting of Niokolo’s first elephant in many years has brought fresh hope that other elephants might still be living in the park. Panthera and DPN, with help from the Elephant Crisis Fund and other partners, now plans to carry out detailed survey work to determine how many elephants remain. Dung samples collected from the park will be assessed in a wildlife genetics lab in Senegal to establish the current elephant population size, genetic make-up and diversity. This data will be used to better understand the Niokolo population and to develop solutions to further protect them.
Researchers are particularly keen to see if any breeding female elephants are living in the park. Only male elephants have been recorded recently and conservationists are concerned about the future viability of the elephant population here. As far as elephants go, Niokolo is isolated and remote. The nearest country with a strong population in the right habitat and enough female elephants to spare is Benin - some 2000 km away. Translocating wild elephants across such a long distance, however, would be both costly and risky. 
‘Niokolo-Koba is at the extreme end of the challenges facing elephants today,” says the Director of the Elephant Crisis Fund, Chris Thouless. “Senegal and the surrounding countries including Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone all contain tiny remnant elephant populations on the edge of survival. We can only hope the survey shows females living in Niokolo and that they have a chance to rebuild their population, given the huge logistic problems involved in translocation."
The survey work will begin in April 2020 and will take approximately 6 months to complete. We’ll be sure to bring you updates on the status of the elephant population in Niokolo as and when we know more. 

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Ecology & Rewilding


Ten years on from one of the 21st century's greatest disasters, new research suggests wildlife in Fukushima is not just surviving—but thriving in the absence of humanity.

A vast and comprehensive collection of wildlife photos analyzed in a study published in the Journal of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment documents more than 20 species that have recolonized the area around the plant—including macaques, raccoon dogs, the Japanese hare and, most prevalent of all, wild boar.
"Our results represent the first evidence that numerous species of wildlife are now abundant throughout the Fukushima Evacuation Zone, despite the presence of radiological contamination," James Beasley, a wildlife biologist from the University of Georgia, said in a statement.

Immediately after a tsunami sent Fukushima's nuclear plant over the edge in 2011, an evacuation zone was erected and the government evacuated those living within 715 miles of the accident.

From 2016, humans have been gradually allowed back into the zone. However, there seems to be some hesitancy, with fewer than five percent of the original population choosing to return. Today, the area remains largely deserted—an apparent boon for the animals that live there, if this new study is anything to go by.

*This image is copyright of its original author
Animals like the macaque appear to be enjoying life without humans in the Fukushima evacuation zone.UGA

Beasley and colleagues gathered and compared photographic data from three zones that differ in terms of human habitation. The first covered an area where humans were excluded due to high levels of contamination. The second an area where humans are restricted due to a lesser but still reasonably high level of contamination and the third that remains inhabited, which served as a control.

In total, Beasley and colleagues collected more than 267,000 wildlife photos captured over 120 days. The images show several species are flourishing in the exclusion zone, popping up more frequently in areas that are entirely uninhabited by humans than those that are. The wild boar—the most abundant species studied—cropped up in more than 46,000 photographs. The researchers found that it was three times more abundant in the human-excluded zone than the human-inhabited zone.

There was one exception to the rule: the Japanese serow, a goat-like animal (and a national symbol of Japan) that appeared to prefer rural upland areas inhabited by humans. The species usually keeps its distance from humans and this strange behavior may be an adaptive strategy to dodge the robustly stocked wild boar communities living elsewhere, the researchers say.

*This image is copyright of its original author
Japanese serow appeared to prefer the rural upland areas inhabited by humans.UGA

The post-disaster wildlife boom is reminiscent of Chernobyl, the site of another nuclear disaster that has since seen species such as wolves and other mammals flock to the area now largely deserted by humans.

"Although it may seem counterintuitive, research from our group and others suggests numerous species of large mammals actually increased in the landscape surrounding Chernobyl in the first several years after the accident, and that populations of many species are now abundant and widespread throughout the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone," Beasley told Newsweek.

"Given that the amount of radiation released from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant was substantially lower than releases at Chernobyl, it is not surprising that we are now seeing evidence of these same types of population-level responses in mammals at Fukushima."

"However, what was unexpected is the rate and extent to which populations of wild boar and other species routinely in conflict with people have increased in number, despite extensive control efforts to reduce populations of these species in evacuated areas."

Beasley was previously involved in another study (published in 2017) that found diverse and efficient scavenging communities in the area.

"The [Chernobyl Exclusion Zone] is increasingly being seen as having huge conservation value—it now represents one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in Europe," Jim Smith, a professor of environmental science at the University of Portsmouth in the UK who specializes in Chernobyl and Fukushima, told Newsweek. Adding helicopter surveys suggest large mammal populations at Chernobyl began to increase only about a year after the accident.

"I think that radioactivity levels in significant parts of the exclusion zone are now safe for humans, but I'd like to see the zone remain as a protected area for wildlife."

However, while it may be an in both cases abundance is not necessarily indicative of animal health—a fact the researchers themselves are keen to point out. Indeed, research has suggested that long-term exposure to radiation could damage animal reproductivity, although its full effect on animal health is unknown.

"Based on these studies it is clear that if there are any health-related impacts from exposure, they are not manifesting in widespread impacts to populations of these species," Beasley told Newsweek. "We know that radiation has the potential to cause mutations at the molecular level, impact reproduction, and cause other types of cellular damage."

Thomas Hinton, a professor at the Institute of Environmental Radioactivity at Fukushima University, said: "This research makes an important contribution because it examines radiological impacts to populations of wildlife, whereas most previous studies have looked for effects to individual animals."

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Raccoon dogs are thriving in zones uninhabited by humans.

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