Charles Parkinson and Phak Seangly
The Phnom Penh Post, Fri, 23 October 2015
The Wildlife Alliance has rescued almost 1,700 animals from the illegal wildlife trade in 2015, with the organisation saying increased public awareness of its hotline number to report wildlife crime is a key factor in its success.
According to figures released by the conservation NGO this week, in the first nine months of the year it seized 1,674 animals, released the same number back into their natural habitats and imposed more than $27,200 in fines on traffickers.
In a notable case of the hotline being used, the Wildlife Alliance rescued a pangolin roaming near Phnom Penh’s O’Russey Market in May, after being alerted by a member of the public.
“[The pangolin] must either have been kept as a pet at a nearby house or had escaped from a nearby trader,” the NGO said.
Pangolins are the world’s most-trafficked mammal and have been hunted to the edge of extinction, amid voracious demand for their scales in traditional Chinese medicine. (more…)
Elk are also called wapiti, a Native American word that means “light-colored deer.” Elk are related to deer but are much larger than most of their relatives. A bull (male) elk’s antlers may reach 4 feet (1.2 meters) above its head, so that the animal towers 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall.
Bull elk lose their antlers each March, but they begin to grow them back in May in preparation for the late-summer breeding season.
In early summer, elk migrate to high mountain grazing grounds where the cows (females) will give birth. Each cow typically has a single calf, which can stand by the time it is 20 minutes old.
During the late summer breeding season the bugling of bull elk echoes through the mountains. These powerful animals strip the velvet off their new antlers using them in violent clashes that determine who gets to mate with whom. Males with the bigger antlers, typically older animals, usually win these battles and dominate small herds.
In the winter, wapiti reconvene into larger herds, though males and females typically remain separate. The herds return to lower valley pastures where elk spend the season pawing through snow to browse on grass or settling for shrubs that stand clear of the snow cover.
Elk were once found across much of North America but they were killed off and driven to take refuge in more remote locations. Today they live primarily in western North America, especially in mountainous landscapes such as Wyoming’s National Elk Refuge and Yellowstone National Park. Some eastern U.S. states have reintroduced small elk herds into heavily wooded wilderness areas. (more…)
Symbols of strength and determination, bison are Ice Age survivors. Clearing away snow and brush with their massive heads, they weigh up to 2,000 pounds and can run up to 40 miles per hour. Once numbering 30-60 million in North America, their numbers were decimated in just a few decades as expansion pressed westward. No other species on Earth has declined so quickly. Several Native American tribes are working with WWF to grow bison numbers once again across vast grasslands under their management.
Why they matter
Historically bison were the dominant grazer on the Northern Great Plains landscape. This dominance shaped the landscape by affecting the pattern and structure of the grasses and vegetation that grew. Expansive areas of native grasslands allowed animals to flourish along with many species of other prairie wildlife.
An overall population of just over 20,000 bison managed as wildlife in North America and small herd size among them contributes to ongoing loss of genetic diversity. Therefore long-term conservation of existing diversity is at risk. Early 20th century experiments to interbreed bison and cattle with the goal of producing heartier livestock has also had an impact on population viability. At present, there are only believed to be two public bison herds that have not shown evidence of interbreeding with cattle to date; Yellowstone NP, and Elk Island National Park in Canada. Conservation groups have been working hard to establish additional herds elsewhere to safeguard these valuable genetics should a catastrophic event (e.g. disease outbreak) threaten these source herds.
Social & political support of Bison reintroduction
A limited constituency for public bison herds in rural regions of the plains where opportunities for restoration on intact grasslands at scale are most feasible makes a universal strategy for reintroduction challenging. In addition, there is narrow support for restoring bison as wildlife within the sporting community because broad exposure to bison as wildlife has been limited over the past century. Both affect progress in the political arena. For this reason WWF seeks opportunities with partners and communities who embrace the reintroduction or expansion of bison populations including Tribes and National Parks. (more…)