Poaching of African Lions

How’s the future looking for African Lions? Did you know the king of the jungle, the mighty lion, is being wiped out by humans

African Lion are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Redlist and their population is decreasing. The decline in lion populations has been huge, 100 years ago there were approximately 200,000 individuals and today there’s estimated to be less than 23,000 lions left.

Lions face many threats including:

  • Habitat loss
  • Prey depletion
  • Human-wildlife conflict
  • Illegal trade in body parts for traditional medicines
  • Trophy hunting

Cases of lion poaching have been reported in Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Uganda.

There is no history of lion bone use in traditional medicine in Asia but there is increasing cases of lion bone being used in place of tiger bone as a result of the decline in tigers (around 3,900 individuals remain).

CITES lists African Lion as Appendix II and allow “export for trade in bones, bone pieces, bone products, claws, skeletons, skulls and teeth for commercial purposes, derived from captive breeding operations in South Africa” with annual export quotas established and communicated annually.

In South Africa, there is something called ‘Canned Lion Hunting’ where the captive lions are shot in a fenced area by ‘hunters’. These lions have often been hand-raised by unsuspecting tourists who have paid for the experience of cuddling, taking selfies with and even helping to raise the cubs, thinking they are helping the wildlife in some kind of rehabilitation type of scenario when in fact it is another way for the canned lion industry to make money. Once the lions are older they are hunted within an enclosure. In 2017, an annual quota of 800 lion skeletons from captive-bred lions was approved and in 2018 the figure was nearly doubled to 1,500.

Lion have lost 85% of their historical range. They play a vital role in the ecosystem as they are top predators that dominate their environment and help keep a balance in the number of prey animals. They also help with disease control by taking the weakest members of the herd. Lions have no natural predators.  

How Can You Help Lions?

  • Raise awareness of the plight of lions
  • Do not buy wildlife products. The killing would not happen if the demand was not there.
  • Do not participate in lion petting
  • Support conservation efforts and anti poaching units

Tread lightly on this Earth,

Coexistwithmeg ♥
Megan Richards

Resources and further reading:
https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/conl.12444
https://www.wwf.org.uk/wildlife/african-lions
https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/tiger
http://checklist.cites.org/#/en/search/output_layout=alphabetical&level_of_listing=0&show_synonyms=1&show_author=1&show_english=1&show_spanish=1&show_french=1&scientific_name=Panthera+leo&page=1&per_page=20

Zimbabwe Export Wild-Caught Baby Elephants

Yesterday saw the export of over 30 wild-caught baby elephants from Zimbabwe, believed to be destined for Chinese zoos. This comes after 37 elephants were held within Hwange National Park capture unit for almost an entire year, it is said that 32 elephants were transported with 5 of them being rejected due to poor health.

The elephant were loaded into crates and transported in extreme temperatures – indicating a lack of concern for their welfare.

Zimbabwe National SPCA has been campaigning against this since the elephants were initially captured, inspecting the elephants when they were initially placed into the capture unit in late 2018 and reporting the animals were severely stressed. On October 15th three ZNSPCA inspectors and an experienced wildlife vet were denied entry into the holding area and 6 further attempts to gain entry were denied despite this being an obstruction of the Zimbabwe Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. *

Zimbabwean activists have desperately tried to prevent the move of the baby elephants. Earlier in the year, Advocates4Earth (previously known as The People and Earth Solidarity Law Network) launched legal action regarding the capture and export of wild-caught infant elephants. They recently demanding the government release the details of the export deal and also contacted lawyers representing Zimbabwe National Parks Authority warning that exporting the elephants before the case has gone before a judge could be in contempt of court.  

The move of the elephants and their future severely lacks transparency and accountability. A full independent investigation should be launched into this cruel trade. Evidence shows that since 2012, over 100 infant elephants have been exported and these elephants have been resold in China to unknown destinations and are now performing in circuses and zoos.

These baby elephants have been condemned to a life in captivity, a life of suffering. How is this still happening? It is devastating. Elephants are social animals, in the wild elephant infants are completely dependent on their mothers for around 5 years and build incredibly strong family bonds.

Please sign this petition calling on the CITES Secretary General Ivonne Higuero for a full independent investigation into China’s dark trade in Live Elephants:
Calling on the CITES Secretary-General to investigate China’s dark trade in elephants

* The act specifically grants an appointed ZNSPCA inspector right of entry upon any premises where he has reasonable grounds to believe that such entry is necessary for the prevention, investigation or detection of any offence in terms of this act.

Tread lightly on this Earth,

Coexistwithmeg ♥
Megan Richards

Whales, Dolphins & Plastic

The oceans cover 72% of the Earth, produce over half of the oxygen we breathe and help regulate the climate, it’s an ecosystem and vital support system we really shouldn’t ignore. Despite all of this, only around 2% of the ocean is protected. People do not realise how vulnerable Earth is and the ocean is the heart of the planet.

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This week saw a lot of stories about marine life, so let’s take a look at what’s been happening across the globe:

First, some good news! A new study suggests that Southwest Atlantic Humpback Whale populations are now around 25,000. The Humpbacks were on the brink of extinction due to whaling that started back in the 20th century, prior to this the population was estimated to be around 27,000.

The recent study shows an incredible population recovery of 90%. The Humpbacks have been protected since 1960s which has allowed the populations to flourish.

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Another great story this week is about Dolphin Project’s work in Bali. Alongside the Central Jakarta Forestry Department and the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), Dolphin Project has just established the world’s first permanent dolphin sanctuary.

The sanctuary has been created after the 4 dolphins held at Melka Hotel were confiscated, finally putting an end to the hotels part in the cruel captive dolphin industry. Thanks to the hard work and campaigning carried out by Dolphin Project, the dolphins have been moved to a sea pen and will never have to perform tricks for fish or live in barren tanks again.

The goal is to now rehabilitate 2 of the dolphins and release them back into the wild. The other two dolphins are unfortunately unfit for release due to health issues such as blindness and missing teeth so will now ‘retire’ in the sea pen dolphin sanctuary.

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Unfortunately, people are still willing to pay to see dolphins in tanks and as money is a motivator of many of the worlds evils, the Taiji dolphin hunt continues. We are now in the second month of the annual six month period where boats in Taiji (Japan) chase pods of dolphins into the Cove.

Once the pods are trapped in the cove using nets some individuals are captured, destined for a life in captivity.  Others are butchered for meat and this year’s quota allows for more than 1,700 animals to be killed or captured during this period. These dolphin drives are brutal and if the people who want to see dolphins in captivity knew the origins and the realities, I don’t think they’d be willing to pay for such cruelty.

You can help stop this by raising awareness of the cruelties of captivity and never buying a ticket to captive dolphin shows.

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There are also a lot of stories about plastic pollution and whales washing up with stomachs full of plastic bags and other manmade items. Let’s take a look at the facts from Plastic Oceans:

  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year
  • Plastic make up around 75% of marine litter
  • It is estimated that 90% of all seabirds have ingested plastic

What can we do?

  • Reduce your use of single-use plastics
  • Help keep beaches clean by picking up litter
  • Avoid products containing microbeads
  • Buy products with less packaging
  • Say no to disposables such as plastic cutlery and takeaway coffee cups
  • Cut apart plastic rings such as six-pack can holders to prevent wildlife from becoming trapped and strangled

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Small changes have big impacts. Never doubt that you make a difference, you do.

Tread lightly on this Earth,

Coexistwithmeg ♥
Megan Richards

 

Sources:
Dolphin Project
The Independent
Plastic Oceans
Ocean Society

Addicted to Exotics: Reviewing the Pet Trade

This week my newsfeed has been filled with stories related to wild animals as pets; Monkey Rescued from Birdcage (UK), Wildlife Officers Rescue 550 Birds Stuffed in Tiny Cages for Pet Trade (India) and Lwiro Primates in Democratic Republic of Congo just rescued 2 chimps who’s families were killed for the bushmeat and/ or pet trade. So, what’s going on in the world? Why are people fueling the demand for exotic animals? Let’s take a closer look at the issue…

Unfortunately, the exotic pet trade is a growing concern as the internet has made buying and selling wild animals a lot easier. Millions of exotic animals are sold as pets across the globe each year.  So, what’s the problem?

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This huge demand for exotic pets means large scale poaching of wild animals. The trade is undermining conservation efforts as it fuels habitat destruction, deforestation and actively pushes species towards extinction.

Not only that, baby animals are often more profitable so poachers will usually kill the protective mother (and sometimes entire families too if it is a social species) so that it is easier to capture the baby. It is estimated that 10 chimps are killed for every one baby that is captured.

It’s not just the issues of where these wild or exotic animals have come from, there’s also massive welfare problems related to the transportation, care and housing as well as the safety risks associated with having a wild animal as a pet.

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The individual animals suffer immensely every step of the way and their species as a whole suffers too.

A wild animal in the pet trade will experience:

  • Overwhelming stress
  • Immense discomfort
  • Malnutrition
  • Loneliness
  • Deprivation

During transportation, the animals will change hands multiple times as they are illegally moved across countries in awful conditions e.g. stuffed tightly into plastic tubes or shoved into backpacks. The animals will battle to survive without food or water for days. In a Panorama interview, a German customs agent stated the smuggled animals they find have an 80-90% mortality rate.

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Image from US Fish and Wildlife Service

The animal may then end up in someone’s home confined to a cage to receive a lifetime of stress and improper care. It’s not just pets though, it’s ‘parts’ too so the animal could end up as food or ‘medicine’.

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Image from The Guardian

 

Ok so we’ve had a brief look at the environmental, conservation and welfare concerns but what about the risk to humans? The increase in wild animals as pets goes hand in hand with the spread of zoonotic diseases as well as an increase in the cases of animal attacks. You don’t have to look far before you find stories of owners (or their friends) being attacks by their exotic pets.

Oh, and before you try to point fingers at other countries, this is a global issue. For example, estimates suggest that there could be around 9,000 primates being kept privately in the UK.

There are countless issues to having wild animals as pets so whether you care about conservation, animal welfare or simply the health and safety of yourself and your family there are plenty of reasons not to keep exotic pets.

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We can do better. Much of the wildlife trade is a result of lack of knowledge, I believe that the majority of people are animal lovers at heart and wouldn’t involve themselves in such an industry if the truth of the situation was clear. Please, make informed choices.

If you need an animal in your life (I get it, animals are amazing) head to your local animal shelter and adopt. You will be saving a life and you’ll have a furry family member. Leave wildlife in the wild.

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Tread lightly on this Earth,

Coexistwithmeg ♥
Megan Richards

Sources:
BBC News

PETA Asia

Duke Law Journal Online: Exotic Addiction

Freedom for Animals

Born Free

National Geographic
BBC Panorama Transcript

Listverse