Wildlife Conservation News

 


Wildlife and our last remaining wild places are being destroyed because of human action or inaction and because of our own short –term greed.

Peter Fearnhead, CEO, African Parks Network, South Africa


 

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  1. I had an interesting email from Polar Bears International (PBI) today.

    They have noticed that polar bears are showing up in odd places.   An exhausted polar bear was seen recently in a village on Russia’s far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula – and that’s 600 kilometers plus from its home range.

    Their Senior Director of Conservation, Geoff York, thinks this could be that the bear hitched a ride on an ice floe and drifted south, as the ice broke up earlier in the Bering and Chukchi seas this spring. 

    Unusual and fast ice loss this year has displaced polar bears form their preferred hunting areas.   Seals give birth to their pups in spring In snow lairs or on the sea ice surface.  This makes the polar bear’s dinner more abundant and accessible than at any other time of the year.

    However the Russian polar bear was far from this area.

    It was decided to air-lift him back north, to Chukotka in the Russian Arctic.

    But there have been other unusual occurrences in the region over several months.  Some have been far from the sea.   This could be because of unstable ice cover.

    Sustained early sea ice is bad news for polar bears

    Polar Bears International know from other regions that sustained early sea ice break up doesn’t do polar bears any good. 

    • Fewer hunting opportunities
    • Decreased body condition
    • Impacts on reproduction which aren’t good
    • Negative impacts on survival, especially the old and  young

    If there’s less sea ice in the Arctic, it gets more difficult for polar bears to make a living from the frozen ocean.  Of course people living on the Arctic rely on stable ice to get around on, and to gather food.  We all need a frozen Arctic ecosystem to regulate our climate.    So we ALL need the Arctic to be in good health.


    Polar Bears International works in 3 ways:

    Education and outreach.  As more polar bears appear onshore, the charity works to help keep polar bears and people safe, with outreach on best practices for avoiding human-polar bear conflict.   These include getting rid of things such as open garbage dumps and installing bear-proof ones. 

    Research – the charity is studying the effectiveness of using surveillance radar to detect approaching polar bears.  This means alerts can be given before a bear enters town.  PBI help with research on the best deterrants – and that includes putting together a  history of polar bear attacks, and their causes to help avoid future conflicts.

    Climate Action. PBI is one working to solve the climate crisis, sharing their knowledge of polar bears and coming up with solutions.  This includes the Climate Alliance training program for zoo staff members, outreach to motivate citizen involvement, and advocacy to policy makers on the urgent need to act.

    Get involved and help polar bears

     

     

  2. There’s an inspirational woman who is working to help snow leopards in the South Gobi Desert.   And fantastic news - she's received the 2019 Goldman Environmental Prize.

    Bayarjargal (Bayara) Agvaantseren received the award for leading a successful 10 year effort to protect the snow leopard habitat of Tost Mountains.

    • Bayara helped create the 1.8 million-acre Tost Tosonbumba Nature Reserve in the South Gobi Desert. It’s essential habitat for snow leopards.
    • In April 2016, she persuaded the Mongolian government to cancel all 37 mining licences within the reserve!  As of June 2018 there are no active mines there.

    The problem for Mongolia's snow leopards

    Only 4,000 to 7,000 snow leopards remain in the wild.  Nearly 1,000 of them live in Mongolia’s steep mountain ranges and ravines.   But they face problems:

    • Poaching
    • Cubs are being snatched for sale
    • Killing for livestock depredation
    • Habitat loss

    Over 80% of the nation’s exports are minerals.  The South Gobi Desert is a major mining hub.   Coal, uranium, copper, gold, oil and gas are attractive to huge operations by Russian, Chinese and Mongolian companies.

    Mining activities destroy snow leopard habitat and fragments it too.  It pushes communities deeper into the snow leopards’ territory and causes more human-snow leopard conflict.


    Bayara made a difference

    Enter Bayara.   She was a teacher and tour guide but when she interpreted for a scientist who came to study the snow leopard, she became fascinated with them. 

    She founded the Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation back in 2007.  She worked for many years with herder communities on conservation projects and community initiatives.

    The Foundation provides livestock insurance for herders, it supports research initiatives and it has a handicraft program run by women.

    And when she discovered about mining operations in the Tost Mountains, which bridges two national parks in the South Gobi, Bayara acted as an envoy for the community. She met with government officials to advocate that Tost become a federally protected area.  

    Her collaboration with environmental journalists on a huge public outreach campaign resulted in the formal designation of the 1.8 million acre Tost Tosonbumba Nature Reserve.

    This is the first federally protected area in Mongolia that’s protected for snow leopards.   The area has a core breeding population of snow leopards; it forms an area of over 20,000 million acres of protected snow leopard habitat in the South Gobi.

    Bayara put pressure on the government authorities to mollify the mining licences. 

    Changing the locals' perceptions of snow leopards

    As well as persuading the government to protect the area, which cancelled all active mining licenses within the reserve, Bayaran moved perceptions of snow leopards amongst herder communities.  They now see the snow leopard as a part of their identity.

    You can help by making a donation

    Today, Bayara is also the Mongolia Director for the International Snow Leopard Trust.   You can support her work through the Snow Leopard Trust which at the time of writing was matching all donations made to her. 

    Visit Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation

    Visit the Snow Leopard Trust

    All donations for Bayara's efforts up to $20,000 will be matched by the Edrington Group and Snow Leopard Trust UK, so your gift has double the impact today!

     

  3. Chicago, switch your lights off in the birds' migration season after 11pm

    Chicago is an amazing city, with an incredible shoreline but it’s not a happy place for many birds during the migration season.

    The problem in Chicago

    Every year, 6,000 birds die in one square mile area of downtown Chicago.   Why?

    Well, Chicago sits in the middle of one of the busiest areas for bird migration.   Twice a year, 5 million birds fly through this course twice a year. 

    They are exhausted by the time they reach Chicago. And that’s when they really hit a problem – literally.

    Up to ONE BILLION migratory birds die every year, colliding with skyscrapers.  

    Birds use the stars to point them in the right direction.  That means the problem is worse at night, when tall skyscrapers are lit up all night – that confuses and disorients the birds.  And they crash into the buildings.

    The solution in Chicago

    It's easy!  All it needs is for buildings to turn off their lights after 11pm during the migratory season.

    Chicago already “encourages” buildings to switch their lights off, but encouragement isn’t enough.  To save birds, the Lights Out policy needs to be mandatory.

    How you can help with this solution

    Care2.com have a petition telling Chicago city officials to require buildings to shut the lights off at night during bird migratory season.  (It’s hardly environmentally friendly to keep the lights on, anyway.)

    Sign the petition to get these lights switched off in Chicago.

     

  4. Today is Earth Day – and today that means a chance to TREBLE your impact to protect this one planet we have.

    The Sierra Club are working to do the following (and I quote from their email):

    • Keep our wild places wild by making the Roadless Rule permanent
    • Protect endangered animals from extinction by protecting the Endangered Species Act from attacks by the Trump administration and Congress
    • Ensure everyone has access to clean air and water by resisting attacks on the safeguards keeping toxic pollution out of vulnerable communities.

    Make a gift to support our work right now and it will go THREE TIMES as far towards helping the Sierra Club fight to protect our vulnerable communities, clean air and water, precious public lands and wildlife—in the courts, in Congress, and in the grassroots.    Rush your Earth Day gift before midnight and it will be TRIPLED by the Club’s generous donors up to $300,000.  The Club will also send you their Insulated Cooler Tote Bag, Free.

    The Sierra Club’s 3.5 million plus strong community have helped it achieve some incredible victories:

    • They’ve got 119 cities to commit to 100% clean energy from San Diego to St Petersburg
    • They’ve retired 287 dirty coal plants – this can only improve the health and wellbeing of everyone
    • They’ve got anti-environmental officials such as Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke and Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Scott Pruitt out of office.
    • They’ve countered the Trump administration over and over again, helping to block oil and gas drilling on iconic lands and offshore, helping pass legislation to protect wild places, and continuing to shut down dirty coal-fired power plants and coal mines.

    They must keep fighting.  So please make a gift to support the Sierra Club as it fights to protect vulnerable communities, clean air and water, precious public lands and wildlife—in the courts, in Congress, and in the grassroots.

    DONATE TODAY 22 April 2019