Tigers in the news – for all the wrong reasons!


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Today – July 25th – is International Tiger Day but this big cat is in very BIG trouble …. We must change attitudes regards Chinese medicine!


  1. Should a tiger who attacks a person, be put down? 
  2. Should we continue to use animal products – especially from a critically  endangered species – and especially when the concepts re TCM  are doubtful at best ? Let me know what your think here or on LearnFromNature twitter 

Tigers attack women

Last weekend, at a Beijing safari park, tigers attacked 2 women who ‘got out of a car’ …. reports are that the tigers have NOT been executed (a possible response) – certainly, there has been much criticism of the safety measures at this particular safari park

Reports in Shanghai Daily (my local English-language paper), then world press including CNN 

“Many of these safari parks in China should be banned because they train tigers in a cruel way to entertain visitors or sell tiger products,” Mang Ping, a professor from the Central Institute of Socialism and a founder of the Zoo Watch animal protection NGO, told the Global Times.

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Legalization of trade in tiger products

Following on from the above – which raised the profile of tigers –  this news comes along..

From The Global Times: China banned the trade and use of products made from tigers in 1993.

However, in the revised version of China’s Wild Animal Protection Law which was approved on July 2 and will be put into effect in 2017, some animal populations, bred under controlled conditions with “mature” technology, can be regulated differently from wild populations and used to make commercial products, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Sorry to say – Chinese Traditional Medicine – TCM for short – has a LOT to answer for!      Education is of course key…. see NAEE

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See Know Your Tigers infographic 






Very Sad Species Update : Japanese river otter declared extinct

Hunted,  polluted, now extinct! First Chinese river dolphin, now Japan river otter…. but there’s some good news.   

The Japanese river otter has been designated as extinct now that none has been seen for more than 30 years, according to a report released Tuesday by the Environment Ministry.


News photo
Going, going: A river otter eats a fish in the Shinjo River in Susaki, Kochi Prefecture, in June 1979. The Environment Ministry has declared the mammal species extinct. KOCHI SHIMBUN / KYODO


Long categorized as an endangered species, the river otter is the first mammal to be declared extinct since the ministry started compiling such data in 1991.

The last one was spotted in Susaki, Kochi Prefecture, in 1979.

The Asiatic black bear, a regionally endangered species, has also been declared extinct in Kyushu.

The otters, which when fully grown measured about 1 meter long, lived on fish and shrimp.

They were found across the nation before the war but started to decline as many were hunted for their fur and as their habitats became polluted.

Source : http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120829a6.html

Tourists to use cameras to help save Tasmanian devil

English: A road sign in Tasmania alerting driv...
Image via Wikipedia

From the Guardian









Link to my factsheet https://environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com/jargon-busterfor-kids/factsheet-4-australian-tasmanian-devils/

Walkers are joining forces with conservationists to help bring the Tasmanian devil back from the brink of extinction. In a unique tourism experiment, guests on guided walks through Tasmania‘s remote Tarkine rainforest will help scientists track local populations of the Australian island state’s most iconic creature by collecting data from 45 motion-sensing cameras set up along the trails.

The world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial is endemic to Tasmania, and the pristine wilderness in the island’s north-west corner is one of the last areas to remain untouched by an aggressive facial cancer that has obliterated overall devil numbers by more than 80% over 15 years. The size of a small dog with powerful jaws, the animal was thought to live only in dry, coastal or open woodland. But the discovery of a thriving and disease-free population in Tarkine’s dense rainforest offers scientists a valuable new opportunity to study their behaviour in the wild and develop a better understanding of how the disease is spread.

“Contrary to common assumption, we’ve known for years that there are devils living in rainforest, and now we’ve got the proof,” said Mark Davis, owner of Tarkine Trails, whose guides retrieved the first two months’ worth of images from the cameras, which they’ll continue to service with memory cards and batteries throughout the year. “Every single camera we placed caught images of devils and not one has displayed signs of the facial tumour disease, which is a huge relief. Along with our walkers, our guides act as field researchers where it has previously been too expensive to conduct research.”


The decade-long Tarkine Devil Project is being funded by the Tasmanian government as part of a broader rescue programme begun in 2003 that includes captive breeding of immune animals, habitat management and laboratory research into the disease. First identified in 1996, Devil facial tumour disease causes growths around the mouth that hinder the animal from feeding, so it eventually starves to death. The mysterious and rare form of contagious cancer is thought to spread through the devils biting each other while squabbling for food.

Until the late 1990s, Tasmanian devils were commonly found all over the island. But the illegal introduction of the red fox, increased road traffic accidents and the rapid spread of facial cancer have seen its numbers plummet to just 10,000, with the species being declared in 2008 as endangered. Once seen as a threat to livestock and prized for its pelt, only official protection in 1941 stopped the devil from being hunted to extinction – a fate that had already befallen its close relative the Tasmanian tiger (or thylacine) in 1936.

Source : http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/feb/03/tourist-cameras-save-tasmanian-devil?intcmp=122

Wildlife trade : Pledge to boost the fight

Image via Wikipedia

Enforcement officers on the front line of China‘s fight against wildlife smugglers willreceive more funding and improved technology, as part of new measures to tackle the menace,authorities said. China Daily reports | http://twitter.com/#!/LearnFromNature

The country will also boost cross-department and cross-border cooperation to further protectendangered species and crack down on the illegal animal trade, according to a newly approvedaction plan.

The news was revealed on Friday by China’s endangered species of wild fauna and flora import andexport management office.


Pledge to boost wildlife fight

Two officers handle bones and body parts of wild animals that were seized during a campaign by forestrypolice in Yunnan province in this photo from Nov 9, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua]


“China has paid great attention to the protection of endangered species and has achievedsignificant progress since it joined the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species ofWild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1981,” said Yin Hong, deputy director of the State ForestryAdministration, one of five government agencies that have formed a joint law-enforcementdetachment on animal protection.

The country has made and enforced a series of laws and regulations to protect wild fauna and flora,as well as invested heavily in the construction of reserves and habitats of wild animals.

However, she added: “Due to traditional Chinese medicine and people’s eating habits, the demandfor wild animals and plants is still great in China.”

An action plan to address the protection work recommended by the CITES was also approved onFriday, with 10 species highlighted, including the elephant, rhinoceros and shark.

Wildlife groups have welcomed the pledge to improve enforcement against smugglers.

Fan Zhiyong, director of the species program at the World Wide Fund for Nature in China, saidpoor enforcement has contributed much to China’s animal protection problems.

“The effective cooperation of different departments is vital,” he said.

Hua Ning, China project manger of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said: “We’re glad toknow that all the government departments involved have joined the detachment.”

“We hope more professional education about wild animal protection can be provided to Chinesepeople, and relative departments can strengthen cooperation with foreign organizations.”

Meng Xianlin, executive director-general of China’s endangered species of wild fauna and floraimport and export management office, said that a plan to implement the CITES recommendationsfrom 2011 to 2015 has been made, and cooperation with other countries, especially in Africa andSoutheast Asia, will be enhanced.

Source : http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2011-12/10/content_14243637.htm

Wildlife Update : Red squirrel ‘could be extinct within next 20 years’

Red Squirrel
Image via Wikipedia

Oxford University wildlife unit finds biodiversity action plans failing to halt steep decline in dormice, hedgehogs and wildcats. The Observer reports

Efforts over the past decade to save British mammals from extinction have failed to halt population declines in red squirrels, hedgehogs, harvest mice and Scottish wildcats.

Red squirrels could be extinct within 20 years, while the UK hedgehog population has dipped to about 1.5m individuals compared with 30m in the 1950s, according to a report by Oxford University’s wildlife conservation unit for the People’s Trust for Endangered Species.

The common dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) and mountain hare are also under threat despite efforts to arrest their decline through nationwide biodiversity action plans.

Seven species of mammals whose conservation was given priority status, including some of the most endangered, were still declining last year, says the report – State of Britain’s Mammals 2011.

But there was good news with regard to otters, bats and water voles, whose populations have increased. After conservation efforts “akin to rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic”, say the report’s authors, there was hope that approaches to conservation were improving.

“Although many of Britain’s mammals apparently declined significantly in the past 25 years, some appear to have stabilised or even increased in the last decade,” the report states.

“Of the 25 monitored mammal species native to Britain, half are stable (not necessarily in a good state) or increasing.”

Otters have benefited from cleaner rivers in Britain, following a ban on chemicals used in sheep dip in the late 1990s. But hedgehog numbers have fallen due to fragmentation of their habitats, pesticides killing their prey, and hedgerow loss.

Red squirrel populations have dropped more than 50% in 50 years, and, with the discovery in Scotland in 2005 of the first case of squirrel pox virus, which is carried by grey squirrels, “the omens for the red squirrel in the UK” were “bleak”, state the report’s authors, Dawn Burnham and David MacDonald.

“The last 15 years have seen some successes, particularly recovery of some rare species,” they said. “However, with the ongoing decline of once common species, like hedgehogs, it is widely accepted that targets for the Convention on Biological Diversity, for 2010, were missed.

“In general, progress has been better for species restricted in range that could benefit from targeted, site-based, conservation efforts. There’s been less progress on targets for habitats and many widespread species.”

Water voles are declining, but brown hare and polecat populations are rising. Greater and lesser horseshoe bat populations have risen 32% and 41% respectively over the past 10 years.

Wildlife Update : Britain’s mammals beasts and the battle to save them

Red Squirrel
Image via Wikipedia

UK mammals face serious threats, new study shows, but there’s hope. The Independent on Sunday reports 

Conservationists are losing their battle to halt the decline of some of Britain’s best-loved species, according to a new report published today.

Commissioned by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and produced by experts at Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, the study looks back at a decade in which the charity has spent more than £1m to save British mammals – with mixed results.

Certain species such as red squirrels, hedgehogs, Scottish wildcats and harvest mice have declined due to factors such as habitat loss and invasive species out-competing native ones for food. And, in the case of the red squirrel, numbers have been reduced by their disease-spreading grey competitors.

But it is not all bad news. There have been successes in increasing populations of otters, bats and water voles, which have defied the odds to survive at all.

The bigger picture shows grounds for optimism, according to the 2011 State of Britain’s Mammals study: “Although many of Britain’s mammals apparently declined significantly in the past 25 years, some appear to have stabilised or even increased in the last decade. Of the 25 monitored mammal species native to Britain, half are either stable (not necessarily in a good state) or increasing.”

And, after years of approaches to conservation that amounted to little more than “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic”, there is hope for the future, claims the report’s co-author, Professor David Macdonald.

He describes a “tectonic change” in the approach to conservation: “The country is changing the structures within which it deals with conservation. The overall framework really does seem to have changed in a way which is quite extraordinary and one hopes is going to lead to a very different sort of future.

“We’ve moved in the direction of things becoming interpreted at a larger scale rather than a preoccupation with the dormouse or the badger or the fox… starting to look into the ecosystem.”

The past decade has seen a growth in a more scientific and evidence-based approach to conservation. “We have [a] coming-together of ideas and policy instruments that suggests that government and the wider population really think that big issues such as sustainability and biodiversity and species loss and extinction matter,” he added.

Major challenges remain, not least in striking a balance between the needs of farmers and consumers for food, and making the countryside a better place for wildlife.

And Britain still does not have a national monitoring system. Only around half of mammals are monitored in sufficient detail and scale to track population changes.

Conflict with invasive species remains a serious threat to British species, according to the report, which calls for “ecological restoration” of the countryside to be a conservation priority.

Links : http://www.ptes.org/ | http://twitter.com/#!/PTES | http://www.facebook.com/ptes.org

Conservation Update : ‘Treehugger’ reports on how Projects Fight Food Insecurity

Niño del Lago Tonle Sap en Camboya
Image via Wikipedia





Climate change, increasing population, land degradation, and increasing affluence are combing to create a serious threat to the world’s food supply. Lots of strategies have been suggested including increased water efficiency and a renewed emphasis on small-scale production.

One possibility that is seldom considered, however, is using conservation programs to rebuild food security in areas most threatened.

When the idea is explained, it almost seems obvious, but by applying efforts to conserve and rebuild the habitats of endangered species, scientists have helped to reestablish clean drinking water and reliable food stocks in some parts of the world.

As simple as it sounds, the link between food security and conservation only emerged after years of work. A prime example is the Tonle Sap Program in a lake region of Cambodia. Leading a team for Conservation International, David Emmett began working in the region to protect critical otter habitat that had become degraded and was threatened by a hydroelectric dam proposal.

“The project grew from conserving species by protecting their flooded forest habitat,”Emmett explains, it “is grounded in freshwater conservation with clear links to food security and human health.”

Those links emerged once protections for the habitat had been secured and restoration began. Emmett’s team worked to rebuild local fishstocks—critical to nurturing a sustainable otter population—which led to improved yields for local fisherman.

The primary dilemma in many areas already struggling with food insecurity, is that those most severely impacted resort to farming practices that worsen the situation out of desperation.

“The rural poor are often the most directly dependent upon natural resources, and they can get stuck in a real dilemma,” John Buchanan, Conservation International’s Senior Director of Food Securityexplains, “immediate needs for food and income can lead to unsustainable production practices or over-harvest of resources, which undermines the long-term viability of those same resources. Furthermore, (the rural poor) often don’t have control of those resources, making them even more vulnerable.”

Clearly, there is no one conservation plan that can be applied to every area and, Conservation International’s work has shown, there is no single solution to food insecurity. Improved health and access to food provides incentive for local people to participate in relevant conservation projects, however, and serves as another reminder that protecting and restoring habitats help people in addition to endangered species.