March 6, 2014
November 10, 2013
New Zealand is a beautiful place. Emerald hills, rugged mountains, and lush forests all mixed together to create unique habitats. But probably the most interesting aspect of New Zealand is that it has no native species of land based mammals. In fact the only mammals native to this island country are a few bats.
This may seem weird as New Zealand has become somewhat famous for the size of its red deer. While these islands are now home to several large mammals these species are not supposed to be there. They were imported by Europeans as they began to settle the area. Since then many species of game animals, particularly red stags and fallow deer have thrived in this lush country.
Ever since humans arrived on these islands we have been manipulating the ecosystem. The Giant Moas were among the first victims of humans in New Zealand. These relatives of ostriches were easy prey for the first settlers of New Zealand and were quickly wiped out. Later, when the first Europeans arrived bringing along land based mammals the ecosystem was again drastically altered leading to further declines in bird life.
Until the intervention of man, these islands were the only place in the world where birds had won the evolutionary arms race against mammals. Across all other land masses mammals were the dominant life forms. This was the one great stronghold of birds in which they were the dominant taxa. All ecological niches had been filled by the evolution of some adaptation or another within birds. Even to this day birds dominate the landscape outside of those areas which man has aided his mammalian stock in taking hold.
February 26, 2013
November 12, 2012
Africa, Asia, Conservation, Europe, Marine, North America, South Pacific, South/Central America Africa, animals, conservation, deer, education, elephant, endangered species, extinct, Facebook, fishing, gazelle, great white, habitat, hunting, jaguar, lion, nature, poaching, preservation, protect, rhino, shark, species, tiger, wildlife, Wildlife Conservation 101, wolves Leave a comment
Fans of the blog be sure to check out our new Facebook page. This page was created to allow easier access and discussion amongst our readers.
September 8, 2012
Africa, Conservation, Europe, North America, South Pacific, South/Central America Africa, animals, conservation, duck stamp, economic, elk, funding, habitat, hunting, lion, money, nature, Pittman-Robertson, poaching, preservation, protect, safari, species, tourism, wetlands, wildlife Leave a comment
Probably the biggest problem for wildlife conservation is funding. Without proper funding wildlife agencies, scientists, and land owners can not work towards better wildlife conservation. Yet somehow wildlife agencies still employ game rangers to prevent wildlife crimes, biologists still head out into the field to study species, and conservation minded land owners have still managed to better their lands for wild animals. So how was all of this paid for? The simple answer, hunters.
Yes I said it. Though the anti-hunting/ animal rights community would like to portray hunters as the villain, hunters are the real heroes. To make a pop culture reference think of Batman. Although painted as bad guys, hunters are the ones doing the most good for wildlife. When money is needed for conservation hunters have always been the first ones to step up to the plate and open their wallets.
There is no better example of this than right here in the U.S with the Pittman-Robertson Act which was originally proposed by a hunters. This act poses a tax on the manufacture of all hunting related equipment, a tax which is naturally added to the cost of items and gladly paid by hunters when we buy our equipment. The revenues from this tax go on to fund our state wildlife agencies in their efforts to protect our treasured wildlife. In fact, as can be read in the link attached to the end of this article, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources receives over 70% of its funding from Pittman-Robertson alone. On top of that, hunters go one leg further to support game agencies by purchasing hunting licenses and tags.
Aside from the Pittman Robertson Act the other landmark decision by hunters to protect wildlife was the creation of the duck stamp. This action has led to the creation of hundreds of wetlands, restoring critical habitat for waterfowl.
Lets take a trip outside the United States to observe this phenomena on other continents. Africa is the best example I can give on an international scale. Hunting brings big money to otherwise poor communities. Thanks to the dollars, euros, pounds, etc… brought to Africa by foreign hunters, as well as the money paid by local hunters, African wildlife has found a value to the local communities which in turn tolerate or even welcome wildlife in the areas around them now. Wildlife once meant property damage, crop raiding, livestock losses, and occasionally man-eating. With a thriving trophy hunting industry locals now see wildlife as jobs, schools, and a ready supply of red meat as these are often provided to the local people by the hunting outfitters. Aside from providing direct benefits to local peoples in return for their tolerance, the money from hunting also goes back directly to wildlife. Funding from hunters has allowed for better anti-poaching patrols which protect valuable and endangered species such as rhinos, elephant, and lions.
Caro et al. Animal breeding systems and big game hunting: models and applications. Biological Conservation: 142 (2009) 909-929.
Frost and Bond. The CAMPFIRE program me in Zimbabwe: payments for wildlife services. Ecological Economics: 65 (2008) 776-787.
McGranahan. Identifying sustainability assessment factors for ecotourism and trophy hunting on private rangeland in Namibia. Journal of Sustainable Tourism: 19 (2011) 115-131.
Usongo and Nkanje. Participatory approaches towards forest conservation: the case of Lobéké National Park, South east Cameroon. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology: 11 (2004) 119-127.
September 2, 2012
Africa, Asia, Conservation, Europe, North America, South Pacific, South/Central America Africa, animals, anti-hunting, Asia, conservation, deer, exotic, habitat, hunting, nature, poaching, preservation, protect, species, wildlife 2 Comments
This weeks topic may be a little controversial as I am about to take a firm stand on an issue which often divides wildlife lovers. On the one side we find the preservationists, those like John Muir and the Sierra Club, who believe wildlife and nature should be left alone. Then on the other side you find conservationists, like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and myself, who believe in a hands-on approach to wildlife management. This approach is the main method used by wildlife agencies around the world and involves the concept of sustainable use: this being ecotourism activities, the biggest of which is hunting/fishing.
The truth is, the original conservation movement was started by hunters. Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of this great nation, was an avid hunter and naturalist. During his term as President he created a little over 50 wildlife refuges in America including Pelican Island in Florida and Tongass in Alaska (PBS). He was also a founding member of the Boone and Crockett Club as well as a member of the New York Zoological Society which is now known as the Wildlife Conservation Society.
However there is one other great American hero of conservation that may out shine even Roosevelt. Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling, was an avid conservationist, hunter, and political cartoonists (one of which is posted below this paragraph). In 1934 he was asked by Franklin D. Roosevelt, as an effort to stifle his criticism of FDR’s administration, to head the U.S. Biological Survey, which would one day become the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Ding). One of his biggest actions as such was the hosting of a massive meeting of conservationists, firearms manufacturers, and hunters. Out of this great meeting came conservation landmarks such as the duck stamp and the Pittman Robertson Act. These two actions are essentially self imposed taxes on hunters and hunting equipment set aside to pay for conservation efforts. These two pieces of legislation can very well take credit for the amazing restoration of North America’s wildlife and wildlife habitat.
Outside of the U.S. we find this same phenomena of hunters being the root of conservation. No other place is this more evident than in Africa. Like North America hunters were originally the bad guys. By 1900 unrestricted hunting had already caused the extinction of two species: the blue buck, Hippotragus leucophæus, and the quagga, Equus quagga quagga. However, just like in the U.S. hunters were the first to realize the damage they were causing and changed their ways. Many hunters, ranchers and conservationists started converting land from agriculture to wildlife and worked to create national reserves such as the Kruger National Park. Now in Africa the mentality is “if it pays it stays”. While this may not be as altruistic as the North American version of conservation it is effective none the less.
Currently wildlife and hunting can bring large sums of money to otherwise poor areas as well as a constant flow of red meat. As can be seen in the picture below nothing goes to waste. This provides incentive for both land owners and local people to tolerate wild animals and the damage they can do to crops and property, as well as livestock predation from carnivores. In Sub-Saharan Africa the major trend for wildlife species has been increases in numbers. This is due in large part to the massive trophy hunting industry since as I stated before the trophy hunting industry provides monetary incentives to tolerate wildlife as well as providing funds to pay for anti-poaching efforts. However, as an alternative the country of Kenya closed to hunting in the mid ’70s and his since then seen drastic decreases in its wildlife populations. Probably the biggest contributor to this decline is rampant poaching and a lack of anti-poaching efforts.
It is thanks to conservation minded hunters that we all enjoy the amazing abundance of wildlife which we have today. If not for them there would not have been enough funding or motivation to protect our treasured wildlife or to protect and restore habitat. This has been a very general overview of the topic however you can trust that over the next couple of weeks I will dive deeper into this subject.
Ding Darling Society. http://www.dingdarlingsociety.org/who-is-j-n-ding-darling
July 1, 2012
Conservation, South Pacific aboriginal land, Aborigine, animals, anti-hunting, Australia, conservation, crocodile, habitat, hunting, nature, Northern Territory, preservation, saltwater Leave a comment
It has come to my attention recently that Australia is considering the idea of opening trophy hunting for 50 saltwater crocodiles a year for a two year trial period. As such I have decided to take a temporary break from my Africa theme. Whether this proposal will pass remains to be seen but I can see this being a very interesting, and likely controversial, topic to follow once the public starts sharing their opinions. The most important opinion, that of the local Aborigines, is unknown. The majority of saltwater crocodiles are found on Aboriginal land so it is important that wildlife officials discuss their proposal with the local people before moving forward with this.
However, some groups such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have already spoken out against this as being inhumane and needless killing.
“There is no possible conservation benefit to be derived from the killing of crocodiles for trophies, nor does it provide a means of controlling problem crocodiles,” said RSPCA Australia chief scientist Bidda Jones..
But what are the facts on saltwater crocodiles and this issue of hunting crocodiles in Australia?
Remnants of the dinosaurs this particular species of crocodile can be found in the more tropical, northern regions of Australia. These are some of the largest crocodiles in the world with record sizes of 7 meters in length and nearly one ton in weight, although average crocodiles measure 5 meters and weigh in around 1,000 pounds (National Geographic). They also have a peculiar habit of leaping out of the water, just a little fun fact for you.
As for conservation of the species they have been protected since the 1970s when they were nearly wiped out due to the value of their skins in fashion (Oz Magic). Now, after roughly 40 years of protection their numbers are estimated between 200,000 and 300,000 individuals worldwide (National Geographic) with nearly 150,000 of those in Australia (The Telegraph). Numbers are so high that Australia’s current management plan has 500 crocodiles culled each year as a sustainable quota.
The 50 individuals to be hunted are to be taken as part of the 500 already on quota, thus there will not be any additional impact on crocodile numbers. However, these 50 would benefit conservation by providing funds for further conservation efforts and bringing jobs to rural areas. So in my opinion this is a no brainer. If the 50 allocated are already marked to be culled why not let the wildlife departments and local communities benefit from it?
National Geographic- http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/saltwater-crocodile/
Oz Magic- http://ozmagic.homestead.com/australiansaltwatercrocodiles.html
The Telegraph- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/9330981/Australia-considers-crocodile-trophy-hunting-plan.html
April 5, 2012
Africa, Asia, Conservation, Europe, North America, South Pacific, South/Central America animals, conservation, deer, endangered species, gazelle, hunting, jaguar, lion, nature, oryx, poaching, rhino, species, tiger, wildlife Leave a comment
What is wildlife conservation? Wildlife conservation is the regulation of wild animals and plants in such a way as to provide for their continuance. Efforts are aimed at preventing the depletion of present populations and ensuring the continued existence of the habitats targeted species need to survive. Techniques involve establishment of sanctuaries and controls on hunting, use of land, importation of exotic species, pollution, and use of pesticides. (http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/wildlife+conservation) A simpler definition of wildlife conservation is the management of species through sustainable practices to ensure future generations can enjoy it as well.
Conservation is not to be confused with preservation. Preservation is the idea that humans should leave wildlife alone, sanctuaries should be created and humans should have no contact with the animals. Conservation uses direct involvement from humans through habitat restorations, refuges, hunting and photo safaris.
Some hot topics right now in the field of conservation are:
- Key deer- Species of deer native to the Florida Keys. These tiny deer have been severely reduced in numbers. The latest estimates place the current population between 250-750 http://floridaenvironment.com/programs/fe00306.htm
- Scimitar-horned oryx, addax, and dama gazelle- These three species although native to western Africa are now found only on ranches in the U.S. primarily in Texas for the purpose of hunting. http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7396832n
Central and South America
- Jaguar- Jaguar are very reclusive cats so determining exact numbers has been difficult. All biologists know at this point in time is that the populations are declining. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-7998.2011.00812.x/abstract Recently, Safari Club International Foundation (a conservation organization founded by hunters) completed a joint study with United for Conservation to better understand the jaguar population in Mexico. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=162442073830229&set=a.154414717966298.39190.154332054641231&type=1&theater
- Rhino- Rhino are under tremendous pressure in Africa from poaching. Over 400 rhinos from South Africa were killed in 2011 to supply horns for use in traditional medicine on the Asian black market. As of today’s date poachers have already killed 160 in South Africa alone. http://www.stoprhinopoaching.com/statistics.aspx (The stats provided at this link are as of March 19th, current total as of April 5th are 160 rhinos)
- Lion- Due to increasingly fragmented habitat and revenge killings for preying on cattle lions have become a hot topic amongst conservation organizations. Studies are being conducted all across Africa to create sustainable plans for lion management. http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/273/1598/2119.full
- Tigers- Tigers face threats common to rhinos and lions. They are losing habitat at alarming rates and are poached due to their value in traditional chinese medicine. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/eu_russia_saving_tigers/
These are just a sampling of the topics which will be covered on this blog. If there are any preferred topics or other suggestions feel free to leave comments.