Wednesday, March 28, 2012
BAN RHINO HORN
Sign Avaaz’s petition urging the EU to ban the trade in rhino horn. 440 rhinos killed last year in South Africa alone. 

BAN RHINO HORN

Sign Avaaz’s petition urging the EU to ban the trade in rhino horn. 440 rhinos killed last year in South Africa alone. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010
"Our Last Chance to Give Real, Meaningful Protection…
and…we missed it.”  That’s Mark Jones’ view of CITES.  The fundraising director of Care for the Wild International, Jones gave voice in BBC’s Green Room to what most conservationists around the world are thinking about CITES after Doha, the 2010 meeting that failed to offer “real meaningful protection” to any marine or timber species of commercial value.
Note that the photo above—contrary to iWild’s practice with our Endangered All-Stars—does not contain an image of any species of Madagascar Rosewood.  That’s because the rosewood tree in the photo has been cut down, along with five other trees that were blocking loggers’ access to it.  Indeed, we were not able to find any images, or accurate descriptions of the 47 species of rosewood from Madagascar, probably because they are disappearing faster than they can be documented.  That’s how effective CITES and other forms of so-called biodiversity protection are, worldwide. 
For more on the rape of Madagascar’s endemic flora, see Mongabay’s interview with Erik Patel and National Geographic’s coverage of the largely ineffective ban on cutting rosewood.  Nat Geo’s News Watch also offers an excellent summary of the need for effective enforcement of the ban.
Photo: Erik Patel

"Our Last Chance to Give Real, Meaningful Protection…

and…we missed it.”  That’s Mark Jones’ view of CITES.  The fundraising director of Care for the Wild International, Jones gave voice in BBC’s Green Room to what most conservationists around the world are thinking about CITES after Doha, the 2010 meeting that failed to offer “real meaningful protection” to any marine or timber species of commercial value.

Note that the photo above—contrary to iWild’s practice with our Endangered All-Stars—does not contain an image of any species of Madagascar Rosewood.  That’s because the rosewood tree in the photo has been cut down, along with five other trees that were blocking loggers’ access to it.  Indeed, we were not able to find any images, or accurate descriptions of the 47 species of rosewood from Madagascar, probably because they are disappearing faster than they can be documented.  That’s how effective CITES and other forms of so-called biodiversity protection are, worldwide. 

For more on the rape of Madagascar’s endemic flora, see Mongabay’s interview with Erik Patel and National Geographic’s coverage of the largely ineffective ban on cutting rosewood.  Nat Geo’s News Watch also offers an excellent summary of the need for effective enforcement of the ban.

Photo: Erik Patel

Saturday, March 13, 2010
13 Ways of Looking at an Elephant
Talk to a dozen different people in Africa about elephants, and you’ll hear a dozen different views.  Robert Mugabe will tell you that “every species must pay its way.”  One biologist will complain about elephant overpopulation, and another will tell you poaching is out of control.  A Kruger National Park official will tell you that culling is mandatory; elephant behaviorists will protest vehemently.  Villagers will point to damaged water pumps or ravaged crops and tell you what a pain it is to live with elephants.  Others will swear they know how to tell elephants to leave them alone.
This weekend, in Doha, Qatar, CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, convenes its latest meeting to consider, among other things, a request by Zambia and Tanzania to sell ivory from government stockpiles, despite the fact that much illegal killing and trafficking has been traced—via DNA testing—to those two countries.  “These two countries are at the center of the illegal ivory trade in Africa. It’s kind of unbelievable that their requests have gotten this far,” says Samuel Wasser, a University of Washington biologist and specialist in tracing ivory to its source population. 
As in previous years, the sale is opposed by poaching experts because it encourages the ivory trade, which reaches from China and other Asian countries—where carvings, name seals, and other products remain popular—to the United States, where consumers still display an unconscionable taste for elephant ivory.  The United States, according to a recent report, is the second largest consumer of ivory in the world. 
Sign a petition opposing the sale of ivory at Bloody Ivory or at Avaaz.
Photo:  Caroline Fraser

13 Ways of Looking at an Elephant

Talk to a dozen different people in Africa about elephants, and you’ll hear a dozen different views.  Robert Mugabe will tell you that “every species must pay its way.”  One biologist will complain about elephant overpopulation, and another will tell you poaching is out of control.  A Kruger National Park official will tell you that culling is mandatory; elephant behaviorists will protest vehemently.  Villagers will point to damaged water pumps or ravaged crops and tell you what a pain it is to live with elephants.  Others will swear they know how to tell elephants to leave them alone.

This weekend, in Doha, Qatar, CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, convenes its latest meeting to consider, among other things, a request by Zambia and Tanzania to sell ivory from government stockpiles, despite the fact that much illegal killing and trafficking has been traced—via DNA testing—to those two countries.  “These two countries are at the center of the illegal ivory trade in Africa. It’s kind of unbelievable that their requests have gotten this far,” says Samuel Wasser, a University of Washington biologist and specialist in tracing ivory to its source population. 

As in previous years, the sale is opposed by poaching experts because it encourages the ivory trade, which reaches from China and other Asian countries—where carvings, name seals, and other products remain popular—to the United States, where consumers still display an unconscionable taste for elephant ivory.  The United States, according to a recent report, is the second largest consumer of ivory in the world. 

Sign a petition opposing the sale of ivory at Bloody Ivory or at Avaaz.

Photo:  Caroline Fraser

Tuesday, January 12, 2010
SAVE THEM ALL:  If only the Common Seahorse were actually common!  In fact, this All-Star is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, coveted by practitioners of Chinese medicine, aquarium enthusiasts, and tourists who buy them as souvenirs.  In 2001, an estimated 24 million seahorses were removed from the sea, an unsustainable take. Since 2004, the trade has been regulated by CITES, but illegal fishing still occurs, as well as accidental by-catch in shrimp-trawling.  Moreover, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, and Norway have refused to sign on to the CITES listing. Habitat loss is also a problem, since many species live in shallow waters that may be disturbed by development and fishing.
Biologically, seahorses are among the most fascinating and unusual creatures on the planet.  The Common seahorse is found in Hawaii, Southeast Asia, Japan, and Australia, but seahorses were once common in most of the world’s oceans.  They are the only species in which the male experiences a “true” pregnancy, developing a brood pouch in which the female deposits her eggs, which then develop in a placental fluid.  After nearly a month, the male then gives birth, during the full moon.  Seahorse couples are also unusual in forming permanent monogamous bonds.
Since the mid-1990s, Dr. Amanda Vincent, a Canadian specialist in seahorses and related pipefishes and seadragons, has spearheaded Project Seahorse, a marine conservation organization dedicated to improving conservation.  After Vincent exposed the enormity of the seahorse industry, Project Seahorse, headquartered at the Fisheries Center of the University  of British Columbia, has helped set up marine sanctuaries, relocated confiscated live animals, and helped governments around the world set up responsible policies and law enforcement programs.  In the Phillipines, the organization helped set up an alliance of independent fishermen to enforce fishing laws and paid school fees for children of fishing families who completed marine conservation apprenticeships.
To help seahorses around the world, buy only fish and seafood that have been caught in a sustainable manner:  Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch pocket guide, available online, as purse-sized brochures, and as apps for the iPhone and other devices.  Never buy shells, dried seahorses, or other curios and souvenirs from the sea.  Project Seahorse accepts donations for research and for its high school apprenticeship program, as well as donations of used dive equipment, field guides, and other educational supplies.
Photo:  © Dan Burton / naturepl.com

SAVE THEM ALL:  If only the Common Seahorse were actually common!  In fact, this All-Star is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, coveted by practitioners of Chinese medicine, aquarium enthusiasts, and tourists who buy them as souvenirs.  In 2001, an estimated 24 million seahorses were removed from the sea, an unsustainable take. Since 2004, the trade has been regulated by CITES, but illegal fishing still occurs, as well as accidental by-catch in shrimp-trawling.  Moreover, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, and Norway have refused to sign on to the CITES listing. Habitat loss is also a problem, since many species live in shallow waters that may be disturbed by development and fishing.

Biologically, seahorses are among the most fascinating and unusual creatures on the planet.  The Common seahorse is found in Hawaii, Southeast Asia, Japan, and Australia, but seahorses were once common in most of the world’s oceans.  They are the only species in which the male experiences a “true” pregnancy, developing a brood pouch in which the female deposits her eggs, which then develop in a placental fluid.  After nearly a month, the male then gives birth, during the full moon.  Seahorse couples are also unusual in forming permanent monogamous bonds.

Since the mid-1990s, Dr. Amanda Vincent, a Canadian specialist in seahorses and related pipefishes and seadragons, has spearheaded Project Seahorse, a marine conservation organization dedicated to improving conservation.  After Vincent exposed the enormity of the seahorse industry, Project Seahorse, headquartered at the Fisheries Center of the University of British Columbia, has helped set up marine sanctuaries, relocated confiscated live animals, and helped governments around the world set up responsible policies and law enforcement programs.  In the Phillipines, the organization helped set up an alliance of independent fishermen to enforce fishing laws and paid school fees for children of fishing families who completed marine conservation apprenticeships.

To help seahorses around the world, buy only fish and seafood that have been caught in a sustainable manner:  Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch pocket guide, available online, as purse-sized brochures, and as apps for the iPhone and other devices.  Never buy shells, dried seahorses, or other curios and souvenirs from the sea.  Project Seahorse accepts donations for research and for its high school apprenticeship program, as well as donations of used dive equipment, field guides, and other educational supplies.

Photo:  © Dan Burton / naturepl.com

Tuesday, January 5, 2010
SAVE THEM ALL:  Today’s Endangered All-Star deserves a break from the sushi scene:  The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Wildlife Fund, and a host of conservation organizations agree that there should be an immediate trade ban on bluefin tuna.  This critically endangered ocean carnivore is so overfished that populations have declined by over 90% since the 1970s.  The good news?  CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, is now poised to suspend the trade.
Photograph by Brian J. Skerry

SAVE THEM ALL:  Today’s Endangered All-Star deserves a break from the sushi scene:  The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Wildlife Fund, and a host of conservation organizations agree that there should be an immediate trade ban on bluefin tuna.  This critically endangered ocean carnivore is so overfished that populations have declined by over 90% since the 1970s.  The good news?  CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, is now poised to suspend the trade.

Photograph by Brian J. Skerry