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Deaths of bighorn sheep in Arizona spark controversy over conservation effort | Fox News.

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Deaths of bighorn sheep in Arizona spark controversy over conservation effort | Fox News.

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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.

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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/

More Marine Updates

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Spectacular orca show ‘like fireworks on 4th of July’ | GrindTV.com.

Pufferfish Love Explains Mysterious Underwater Circles – Yahoo News.

NMFS denies ribbon seal endangered species listing – Yahoo! News.

Humpback dolphin discovered off Australia is new species.

Would giving in to the Asian market help protect wildlife

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‘Give in to Asian market’ – Times LIVE.

Tourism May Be Last Hope to Save India’s Bengal Tiger – Yahoo News

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Tourism May Be Last Hope to Save India’s Bengal Tiger – Yahoo News.

Wildlife crimes and illegal trade

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A series of articles related to wildlife crimes and illegal trafficking of wildlife parts.

http://www.economywatch.com/economy-business-and-finance-news/the-economics-of-the-illegal-wildlife-trade.29-05.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/28/un-ban-kimoon-wildlife-trafficking-central-africa

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/05/20135262017481252.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-p-farwell/slaughtering-elephants-an_b_3328425.html

New Zealand: Experiment in Ecosystem development

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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.

Mountains in New Zealand

Mountains in New Zealand

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.

Giant Moas

Giant Moas

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.

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