Blog

Blog
July 31, 2019 | By Mark Jones BVSc, MSc (Stir), MSc (UL), MRCVS,
Head of Policy, Born Free Foundation
Pangolin Photo-Maria Diekmann/REST
The Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, published recently by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), estimated that a million species may be at risk of extinction. IPBES, which identified economic exploitation among the key drivers of biodiversity loss, emphasized that ‘transformative changes’ are required to restore and protect nature, and indicated a need to overcome opposition from vested interests. These are strong words from an intergovernmental body, and they come not a moment too soon.
Photo by Masahiro Iijima
Established in 1973, Chitwan (950 Sq. Km) is Nepal’s first National Park. This World Heritage Site is currently home to 600 Greater One-Horned Asian Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis). This is a six-fold increase in rhino numbers since 1968 when a helicopter-cum-ground count estimated that there were no more than 110 rhinos in the Chitwan Valley.
Chitwan houses the world’s second largest population of the species. The largest population (2,400 individuals) is in India’s Kaziranga National Park (430 Sq. Km.) in the state of Assam in North-East India. The major threat to rhino populations in India is poaching.
Photo by Masahiro Iijima
South Africa, like many countries around the world, is struggling to balance the needs of the environment as well as the development and infrastructure needs of the people. The Western Cape (in the southern portion of the country) is the home of a unique Cape Floral Region – Fynbos (which translates as “small leaf”). Fynbos is one of the five floral kingdoms in the world and it is only found in the southern tip of the African continent. Marshall Rinquest, who was raised and educated in the Western Cape, has become an important educator and role model for people who are fortunate enough to live in the region in the midst of Fynbos.
Apr 18, 2019 | By Andrew Rowan
Thirty years ago, the Kruger National Park in South Africa was managing its elephant population at a population around 7,500 elephants via an annual culling program. This stopped in the mid-1990s and Kruger then began to translocate elephants to private conservancies and other provincial and national parks. Initially, the translocations were rather haphazard but then they began to translocate whole “family” groups. In 1996, Kwatile (Xitsonga or Shangaan for “the angry one”) was an older elephant matriarch who was translocated with her group of 8 elephants to the Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve (GMPGR) to join three other family groups. Kwatile was well-named in that the Makalali rangers and personnel always had to be careful around her as they never knew when she might take offense and, when an elephant matriarch takes offense, any people nearby have to watch out!
Mar 31, 2019 | By Dr. John Hadidian
Dr. John Hadidian, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability, 900 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington, VA 22208.  [email protected]By any account these are not good times for wild animals.  Global climate change threatens many species (such as polar bears) with rapid habitat changes to which they might not be able to adapt.  Poaching threatens many others, including the culturally significant rhinoceros and elephant and the less iconic but even more imperiled pangolin.  World fisheries are near a point of collapse from overharvest and unnecessary death awaits many animals as bycatch entrapped in nets or hooked on long-line rigs.  Although we have had little information to date on direct human-caused mortality, recent research summarizing more than a thousand studies of 305 radio-collared species finds 28% of all deaths can be directly attributed to human action, 17% of these from hunting
[i]  Less measurable, but undoubtedly far more numerous are deaths from vehicle collisions, impacts with glass on buildings, entombment and other deaths from land clearing for development, and poisoning by pesticides and other toxicants that humans repeatedly introduce into the environment. [i] This study is recently published:  Hill, J.E., T.E. DeVault & J. L. Belant. (2019).  Cause‐specific mortality of the world’s terrestrial vertebrates. Global Ecology & Biogeography (2019), https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12881
Dr. William Lynn, Clark University, The George Perkins Marsh Institute, 950 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01610. [email protected] 
Dr. John Hadidian, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability, 900 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington, VA 22208.  [email protected]

Wildlife conservation had its beginning in the United States in the mid-nineteenth century, largely in response to the widespread destruction of wildlife through market hunting. Notable among its early supporters was our 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt (TR), who was almost solely responsible for setting aside vast swaths of land that would become our first wildlife refuges. Teddy’s passion was for birds, and fittingly his first set asides were aimed at the shore birds, herons and egrets being devastated for the millinery trade where their plumes were used to decorate ladies’ hats.
Dr. Hemanta Mishra is a Nepalese conservation biologist who has become interested in the plight of street dogs in South Asia. The following blog provides an anecdote from his visit to Mumbai to meet with the Tata Trusts in 2011.
A recent article in the Guardian newspaper (UK) by Dr Ranjana Srivastava comments on the importance of the human-animal connection for some of her patients. Dr. Srivastava conveys poignantly and concretely how pets influence our lives and can provide meaning and purpose. One of the cases illustrates the role of a pet to combat loneliness. That focus helps to illustrate a critical role that pets and contact with animals can play in health care.
In 1991, Ms Lilian Schnog took on the responsibility for an animal shelter (the Asociacion Humanitaria Para la Proteccion Animal de Costa Rica – AHPPA or Refugio) with a few small cages, a leaky surgical room and more than 100 cats and dogs in residence. At the time, Costa Rica’s approach to animal overpopulation was to poison the animals in the streets. Dogs and cats “lucky” enough to have a home were seen as working animals. Some believed that a hungry cat would catch more mice and a chained dog would be a better watchdog. Many were fed leftovers but, if there were none, the animals remained hungry. When the animals were no longer useful or wanted by their owners, they would be thrown out on the street. Since many of the abandoned animals were females, overpopulation of stray animals was a huge problem.