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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I Rescued A Human Today

“Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her. I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn’t be afraid. As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn’t want her to know that I hadn’t been walked today. Sometimes the overworked shelter keepers get too busy and I didn’t want her to think poorly of them.
As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn’t feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone’s life. She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship. A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.
Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms. I would promise to keep her safe. I would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes. I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven’t walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one. I rescued a human today.”

Originally posted at “Rescue Me Dog”,

– http://rescuemedog.org

My source: Running’Cause I Can’t Fly

Extreme Fishing

Hunting for deadly sea snakes

Every year 80 tonnes of venomous sea snakes are harvested in the Gulf of Thailand, but it’s a dangerous business and the snakes might be threatened

Each month, fishermen in the Gulf of Thailand risk their lives harvesting live sea snakes. It’s risky for both parties: the snakes are in danger of being over-harvested and the fishermen could get bitten.

Scientists are now calling for a monitoring programme to assess the impact the on-going trade will have on their population numbers and to look how it affects the ecosystem.

A team reports in the journal Conservation Biology that fishermen have noticed a decline in their population since 2009. The researchers now want to understand if this is due to overfishing or other factors like pollution.

 Fishermen harvest sea snakes in the dead of night (Credit: Zoltan Takacs) Fishermen harvest sea snakes in the dead of night (Credit: Zoltan Takacs)

The fishermen fish for squid with nets and hooks, and at the same time pick up hundreds of deadly sea snakes. The snakes have particularly potent venoms, which can be lethal.

Most of the fishing occurs at night, in small boats with crews of seven to 25. They use the luminous light of electric lamps to attract the squids. These lights are also believed to appeal to the snakes, which are fished out of the water at the same time.

Sea snakes are usually handled with bare hands (Credit: Zoltan Takacs)

Sea snakes are usually handled with bare hands (Credit: Zoltan Takacs)

The trade has grown considerably. Around 20 years ago there were only 20-30 fishing vessels hunting for sea snakes. Today there are more like 700 and each year they bring in 80 tonnes of sea snakes. Over seven different species are routinely caught, but most of the catch is Hardwick’s sea snakes and black-banded sea snakes.

Snakes are sorted into baskets according to their size (Credit: Zoltan Takacs)

Snakes are sorted into baskets according to their size (Credit: Zoltan Takacs)

Source: BBCNews Read and see more

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

Playing with Channel Is Foxes

Reblogged from Cindy Knoke.

Oh my! Somedays are just OH my days. I have seen about five foxes in my life, in Alaska, Canada, Wyoming and The Holler. I was on Santa Cruz Island before and saw the Channel Island foxes, a very unusual species that live only on the Channel Islands, no where else in the world, but I wasn’t really taking photos then. So back I went to see them again and try and get their photos. We hiked all over stunning Santa Cruz Island, and I firmly believe that since I was seeking, I didn’t find. It was an hour until the boat left…

Click on the link above to see and read more of this adventure.