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Report: Wildlife refuges create $2B for economy – Yahoo News

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Report: Wildlife refuges create $2B for economy – Yahoo News.

Namibia: A leading model for conservation

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The country of Namibia is likely the biggest leader for wildlife conservation in Africa. This great success is thanks to a wide range of incentives for the conservation of wildlife by private citizens. Essentially, for wildlife to thrive it must have value. Many people think wildlife has intrinsic value, and I would agree with this. Simply knowing the animals are there and that I may be able to see them one day is enough for me. This, however, is a First World luxury. When you are starving and cannot afford to feed your family aesthetic values do not mean anything to you. Namibia’s conservation efforts have been extremely successful as they specifically address this issue in their wildlife management strategy.

Cheetah

Namibia was not always a wildlife paradise though. Before it gained independence in 1990 wildlife populations were at all time lows. Predators were seen as threats to cattle and thus were designated as vermin to be exterminated. Herbivores were seen as competition for grazing lands as well as sources of meat. During the military occupation of Namibia wildlife was illegally slaughtered by soldiers and locals for bush meat. Conservation was not a priority.

The bull

However, after Namibia gained its independence from South Africa conservation became a top priority. Namibians recognized the wildlife was part of their cultural heritage as well as an excellent source of income. Local communities could now apply to become conservancies and gain ownership of their wildlife. Communities saw opportunities to generate income from the wildlife rather than exterminate the animals to make room for their cattle. Wildlife has become one of the largest sectors of the Namibian economy through photo safaris, ecolodges, regulated hunting, and meat harvesting. Thanks to these economic incentives Namibia now has 79 conservancies covering over 16 million hectares. According to the World Wildlife Fund 44% of Namibia’s land area is devoted to conservation. The benefits of this new-found conservation mindedness in Namibia is evident. Predator populations are recovering, herbivores are found in excellent numbers, and poaching is relatively low.

DSC_0067

To my shame I have not yet visited Namibia, but this is something I hope to remedy soon. This country is truly a gem of wildlife conservation due to its multi-faceted approach to wildlife management. Below are a few more links to information about Namibian conservation efforts.

Namibia: A Model For Conservation | First For Wildlife.

Namibian Cheetah Conservation Success Story.

http://gametrails.org/namibia-announces-plans-for-350000-from-rhino-auction/

Sightings of rare species

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Below are a few articles I have recently found about rare species being spotted. These include a species of deer found in Vietnam which were thought to be extinct and the births of endangered Asiatic lion cubs in a French zoo.

‘Extinct’ deer turns up alive in Vietnam – Unexplained Mysteries.

Rare Borneo Bay Cat Captured in Stunning Photo – Yahoo News.

AOL.com Article – Cautiously, French zoo shows off rare lion cubs.

Rare false killer whale showing off Southern California allows for amazing encounters | GrindTV.com.

Plain Talk: Let’s do a little to save a lot of birds : Ct

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As spring is upon us and migration is underway I wanted to share this article I found about birds colliding with windows. This is one of the greatest sources of mortality for birds, other than predation by feral or free ranging pet cats. The article lists a couple of ways to prevent these fatal collisions. I would take this a step further and ask that you do not let your cat run free, especially this time of year.

Plain Talk: Let’s do a little to save a lot of birds : Ct.

Why we don’t need pandas – Yahoo! News

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The following link is to an interesting and slightly controversial article on yahoo. To some extent I must agree with the author. Charismatic megafauna such as lions, eagles, and pandas do receive much more attention than less charismatic yet more critically endangered species. On the other hand, these charismatic species are often umbrella species. This means that conservation funding and efforts to protect these species has an umbrella effect by preserving the environment to benefit other species that were not the target. For example, there may be a species of salamander that occupies much of the same habitat as pandas. By protecting and restoring panda habitat we are benefiting the salamander, which on its own would not be a species that could capture the hearts of the public and generate funds to pay for the conservation efforts.

It may be true that we need to adjust how we spend conservation funding. Maybe the charismatic species are getting way to much when there is a less charismatic, but ecologically more important species, that is getting nothing. All that is certain is that conservationists need to reassess how we determine which species are of priority.

Why we don’t need pandas – Yahoo! News.

Wild Turkeys Are Back, A Century After Severe Decline – Yahoo News

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Wild Turkeys Are Back, A Century After Severe Decline – Yahoo News.

Avian conservation versus increasing energy demands

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Recently I stumbled upon a couple of articles (listed at the bottom of this page) about conflicts between the conservation of avian species and the need to meet increasing energy demands. This is a huge topic as global energy demands increase, particularly as we move towards certain forms of green energy.  Our energy needs pose risks to various species, which makes this a difficult issue to address.

Lesser Prairie Chickens are a great example of birds that are adversely effected by our pursuit of energy. These birds are found in the short grass prairies of western Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas. They prefer wide open spaces without tall structures, particularly when they are lekking. However, the construction of power lines has severely reduced and fragmented suitable habitats for these birds. As a consequence their numbers have dropped. A second threat to these birds is wind energy. Wind energy requires the construction of turbines, tall structures. These turbines require windy areas to create energy. In the states of Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas the best areas for wind are located in, you guessed it, the short grass prairies. The pursuit of green energy in these areas has led to further reductions of suitable habitats.

Wind energy does not just threaten sensitive species such as the prairie chickens though. Other species can fly into the vortex created by the spinning of the turbines and become trapped in the vacuum this vortex creates. While they are trapped they suffer from barotrauma, physical damage to body tissues due to pressure difference. Thousands of flying species, including bats, are killed every year due to barotrauma.

While we do need to find ways to keep up with growing energy demands, preferably through greener practices, large scale energy production poses certain threats to the environment as illustrated above. It may be that personal energy sources may be better alternatives for the future. These could include personal solar or wind energy systems mounted on private residences. As these would be much smaller than commercial production facilities and mounted on pre-existing structures this could significantly reduce the amount of conflicts with avian species.

Groups Oppose First-Ever Plan to Allow Killing of Eagles at Wind Facility.

Power plants, power lines and endangered bird species to be topics of talk | CJOnline.com.

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