Chinese demand for tiger wine and skins puts wild cats in peril

Conservationists concerned as tiger farming industry removes stigma of buying status symbols and boosts illegal trade

A pack of tigers lunge at a live chicken purchased for them by a tourist at the Heilongjiang Siberian Tiger Park in Harbin, China. Photograph: Qilai Shen/Washington Post

To the thump of dance music, four tigers roll over in succession, and then raise themselves up on to their haunches. A man in a shiny blue shirt waves a metal stick at them, and they lift their front paws to beg.

The “show” takes place twice a day in a gloomy 1,000-seat auditorium – empty on a recent afternoon except for one Chinese tourist, two reporters and a security guard, its broken seats and cracked spotlights painting a picture of neglect.

Outside, hundreds of tigers pace back and forth in small, scrubby enclosures or lie listlessly in much smaller, concrete and rusted metal cages. An occasional plaintive growl rends the air.

This is the Xiongshen Tiger and Bear Mountain Village in the southern Chinese city of Guilin, one of the country’s biggest tiger farms. It is part of a booming industry that is threatening to drive this magnificent animal toward extinction in the wild, conservationists say, by fuelling demand for “luxury” tiger parts.

Encouraged by the tiger farming industry, China’s wealthy are rediscovering a taste for tiger bone wine – promoted as a treatment for rheumatism and impotence – as well as tiger skin rugs and stuffed animals, sought after as status symbols among an elite obsessed with conspicuous consumption.

That trend, in turn, is only making tiger poaching more lucrative across Asia – because wild tigers are still cheaper to kill and smuggle across borders than captive bred ones and often preferred by consumers. Farming has removed any stigma from tiger products and undermined global efforts to stamp out the illegal trade.

“The argument put forward by the tiger-farming lobby is that farmed tiger products will flood the market, relieving pressure on wild tigers,” said Debbie Banks of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), an international campaigning organisation. “This is a ridiculous notion and has turned into a disastrous experiment.”

Tigers numbers globally may have stabilised in recent years, yet they are still perilously low, and wild tigers are still dying in record numbers in India, their main habitat, with many killed by poachers to satisfy demand from China.

Source: TheGuardian Read more

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Colombia has a Hippo Problem

Colombian vets begin Escobar hippo sterilisations

Some of the hippos born on the Escobar estate were donated to other zoos in Colombia

Vets in Colombia have started sterilising hippos descended from animals shipped to a private zoo set up by the infamous drug baron Pablo Escobar.

The hippos lived on Escobar’s estate in the northern province of Antioquia but some escaped.

The population living wild is estimated to have grown to around 60 animals.

There have been years of debate about what to do with them.

The hippos have thrived in the tropical Colombian climate, its waterways and rich vegetation.

There have been sightings of them far from the Escobar estate, which has fallen into disrepair.

The Escobar estate, called Hacienda Napoles, also contained 1,900 other wild animals

The hippo problem has been a difficult one to tackle effectively

But the animals eat tons of vegetation and farmers’ crops.

There have been years of debate about what to do with them and discussions about whether they should be culled.

But many Colombians like them and there there have even been cases of calves being taken home as pets.

Five years ago, the authorities shot and killed one of the hippos on the Escobar estate and the incident caused outrage. The hunt for other animals was called off.

But the government says the hippos pose a public safety risk and is funding the sterilisations from money seized from drug traffickers.

Source: BBCNews

Fish and chips harming eider ducks

Eider ducks in Northumberland’s coastal areas are being harmed by people feeding them fish and chips, a wildlife expert has warned.

Chris Watson says people living or visiting the area often wrongly believe eiders are tame as they are “friendly”.

He told BBC Radio Four’s Broadcasting House the sea birds may seem to enjoy the food but it damages their eggs.

The Northumberland coast is recognised as a haven for wild birds, including colonies of eiders.

Mr Watson, whose work as a nature sound recordist includes documentaries with Sir David Attenborough, said: “Normally eider ducks eat shellfish not fish and chips – [which is] lacking calcium so the eggs are failing.

“There’s a problem because they are such attractive, friendly birds to feed, and yet the food that we are giving them – bread and things like that – is actually causing a dietary problem.”

The RSPB says eiders are the UK’s heaviest ducks and the fastest flying. As well as the Northumberland coast, they are resident off Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Source: BBCNews

Caleb is Causing Problems

You might well ask, “WTF is Caleb?”

Sometime ago I posted this commercial featuring a camel.

Turns out that Geico is an insurance company (I didn’t know that) and the camel’s name is, you guessed it, Caleb.

Well, it turns out that one American (had to be) school has got the hump with Caleb.

Popular ‘talking’ camel kicks up school controversy as teachers, parents and students split on Hump Day ‘joke’

  • Ad for insurance company disrupts school, claim teachers
  • Talking camel is a big summer cultural hit across America
  • ‘Caleb’ the camel follows a talking gecko and chatty pig to national stardom

The popularity of Caleb, a ‘talking’ camel that stars in a TV ad for the Geico insurance company has created controversy in a Connecticut middle school

The Geico ‘Hump Day’ ad has many people laughing across America but teachers at Vernon Center Middle School in Vernon, Connecticut, would prefer to put the chatty camel in detention.

The problem?

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary P. Conway told WFSB that some sixth-grade boys at the school were impersonating the camel so much that teachers claimed it was disruptive.

‘Everybody’s walking around in the hallways and saying its hump day in that weird voice,’ student Brooke Lewis said.

The issue got a bigger rise as some students began imitating the camel during the entire week and not just on Hump Day.

‘Sometimes it’s the counting down to when it is,’ Lewis said.

Read more on The Daily Mail

Comment:

How sad that a school has so little imagination, and so little tolerance. Is it any wonder why kids have failing grades when the school’s priorities are in the realm of the banal?

Bad Girl of the Moment

Rhianna posted this photo on Instagram…

"Look who was talking dirty to me!" image: Instagram

“Look who was talking dirty to me!” image: Instagram

The 25-year-old singer, on a brief break from her Diamonds World tour, shared the Instagram self-portrait with her nearly 32 million fans and tweeted: “Look who was talking dirty to me!”

The photograph shows a sunglass-sporting Rihanna holding up a slow loris, a furry primate with large eyes and a long tail, which is native to south-east Asia and a protected species in Thailand. Along with elephants and orang-utans, however, the loris is often peddled by touts as a photo opportunity for tourists.

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Comment:

I had to laugh at the comments on her page that supported the photo, the stupid dipshits called it everything from a monkey to sloth.

Just goes to show the appalling educational level of people of this ilk.

It’s a slow loris, fools. One of several species, it’s a primate and the lemur of Madagascar is it’s closest relative. The bite of the slow loris is poisonous.

A slow loris

A slow loris