A Chinese citizen, the admitted ringleader of an international smuggling operation that trafficked in $4.5 million worth of rhinoceros horns, ivory cups and trinkets, pleaded guilty on Thursday in federal court in New Jersey, prosecutors said.
Zhifei Li, 29, said he had sold 30 raw rhino horns for as much as $17,500 each to Chinese factories that carve them into cups that are thought to improve health, according to federal prosecutors.
“The brutality of animal poaching, wherever it occurs, feeds the demand of a multibillion-dollar illegal international market,” said Paul Fishman, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, at a press conference. “Zhifei Li’s conviction is a warning to those who would be lured by the profits of dealing in cruelty.”
Among the horns sold, 13 were from black rhinos, which are critically endangered and have a population of less than 5,000, according to a statement issued by the U.S. Attorney’s…
Please join the protest against the atrocities occurring in Bosnia Herzegovina and Romania – we will gather on Saturday January 11th, 2014, 1- 3 p.m. outside the new BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London, W1A. Child and dog friendly, all welcome.
Nearest bus/National Express stop – Victoria Station, nearest tube station, Great Portland Street, Regent’s Park or Oxford Circus. For the Google map, go here, a screen shot is below:
Please bring banners and photographs – you can download and use any photographs from this blog, for example, the following:
“In simple terms, the rainforests, which encircle the world, are our very life-support system – and we are on the verge of switching it off.” Charles, Prince of Wales
Golden lion tamarins take their name from the magnificent ‘mane’ of golden hair around their necks – bearing a remarkable resemblance to the lions of Africa. There are four species of lion tamarins – all of which are endangered, and all of which are endemic to Brazil.
Each species is blighted with the same major threats to its survival; loss of homes due to illegal logging, haphazard cattle ranching and human settlement. Shockingly, the lion tamarins have now been left with only eight per cent of their original habitat. Put another way, a staggering ninety-two per cent of their native Atlantic Brazilian forest has been burned or felled. This has jeopardised their freedom to roam for food, shelter and genetically diverse mates, rendering them one of the most endangered species on the planet.
Colonisation is not new to the Atlantic forest. Europeans first settled here in the 1500s. Historically, destruction began with coffee and sugarcane plantations. During the 18th and 19th centuries demand was high for both commodities, heights matched only by the devastation caused by these activities. Despite this, today’s damage far surpasses anything achieved previously.
Current deforestation has created a specific danger for young golden lions. These highly sociable little animals are far more exposed in their ‘play areas’ than before, making them vulnerable to predators. Over forty per cent of juvenile tamarins do not live past one year, even in normal circumstances, and this can only add to the difficulties of re-populating the troops. The average lifespan of any golden lion tamarin surviving the age of one, in the wild, is fifteen years.
There are several conservation programs designed to combat the decline of the species in the wild. Animals have been reintroduced from various worldwide captive breeding programs, which incidentally move individuals among the various zoos to prevent inbreeding. Survival rates have been notable, but their habitat is now so sparse, the problem with finding suitable homes and feeding grounds has not abated.
Fortunately, tourism has also begun to play its part, using the golden lions as a an attraction to be seen rather than harmed. This can only be a step in the right direction.
Also known as golden marmosets, the golden lion tamarins are easily recognized New World monkeys that sport a vivid orangey-red coat, with a long mane surrounding a hairless face of dark, rich purple. It has been said that the colour of the coat may have come from direct exposure to sunlight coupled with carotenids in the diet.
Golden lion tamarins are callitrichids, which have the defining characteristic of claw-like fingernails on all digits except the hallux (big toe). These adaptations aid climbing, clinging to tree trunks in vertical fashion, quadrupedal movement through the branches and feeding. Both male and female are similar in size reaching a height of about ten inches and weighing an average of one and a half pounds.
Golden lions are arboreal, sleeping in tree hollows at night hoping for some protection from predators. Unfortunately, nocturnal predators, such as snakes and wild cats, often get the better of them. When one monkey sees a predator, an alarm call is emitted to warn the rest of the troop. Sadly, this is often too late.
These tamarins, like the others, are omnivorous and travel through the branches (at up to 24 miles per hour, no less) to forage during the day. They live in troops of anything up to nine individuals and often these delightful primates share food with each other. Normally these troops would be made up of a male, a female and some younger members of the family.
Lion tamarins are monogamous and mating usually takes place at the end of the rains (March to June), after which there is a gestation period of four months. The species is unusual in that twins are normally born. Most primates will give birth to a single infant. Three and four babies have also been known to be birthed, but the chances of survival of all are quite remote. The weakest will usually go first. All group members, especially the father, will help with the care of the babies. Infants are totally dependent on their mothers for the first four weeks. At five weeks they will become a tad more independent and start to explore their surrounding, but still keeping close to mother. Seventeen weeks will see them socialising with others in the troop, and at the age of fourteen months they will be considered young adults.
Natural Habitat Coastal primary tropical forests. Where The diminishing Atlantic coastal forests of Brazil. What they eat Soft fruits, insects, flowers, nectar, eggs, invertebrates and small vertebrates. Threats Habitat loss and fragmentation due to aggressive logging, reckless agriculture and extensive human settlement. Loss of suitable habitat has made reintroduction to the wild difficult because of the lack of sufficient clustered trees. Though more than four hundred animals have been reintroduced into Brazil since 1984. Capture for the illegal pet trade seriously depleted populations in the past, however, this practice has lessened since laws were passed making the keeping of exotic pets illegal. But, it has not ceased. Natural predators include birds of prey, snakes and wild cats. Status: Endangered The golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia) is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Endangered. It is also included on the Brazilian Official List of Species Threatened with Extinction (Lista Oficial de Espécies Brasileiras Ameaçadas de Extinção) and on the regional threatened species list of the state of Rio de Janeiro. The golden lion tamarin is protected under CITES Appendix I.
Dedicated conservation efforts have brought the numbers of golden lion tamarins from less than two hundred in the wild in the early 1970s, to over fifteen hundred living in the forests today.
Approximately four hundred and fifty are known to be living in one hundred and fifty zoos around the world.
Various conservation measures and programmes are in place, including the National Zoo
One of the absolute highlights of this year happened at the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet. Always being spectacular, with its 100m high cliffs and 100.000 pairs of guillemots flying around, this time there was something special. We always tell the guests that the birds breed on the cliffs to prevent predation by Arctic Foxes and Polar Bears. Well, this proved to be wrong, this time. Nine days before, during our previous visit, we already saw a bear on top of the cliff, but he disappeared quickly. This time it was different. As an experienced mountaineer he climbed down the cliff, chasing away the birds and predating on the chicks. We sat in our Zodiacs and watched in awe. I moved my Zodiac a little backward, not only to get a better view of what was happening 80m above us, but also in case the bear slipped and would fall down…
“How many of you know the actual context behind this picture? It’s one they certainly don’t teach you in school. The U.S. Army promoted the wholesale extermination of bison herds in order to defeat the Native Americans, as bison were their main food supply. The U.S. government actually paid a bounty for each bison skull recovered. A section of the Royal Museum of Alberta in Canada has a small section dedicated to this, with this very picture.” (Source)
Throughout the 1800’s the North American Bison were hunted to such an extreme that their numbers declined from tens of millions to under less than one thousand.
You can see the pile is in front of a processing plant (it’s in the background). Bison bones were ground up into bone meal fertilizer or charred to make bone black, a substance with several uses (one is refining sugar, bone black…
“Only when the last tree is cut, only when the last river is polluted, only when the last fish is caught, will they realize that you can’t eat money” Native American proverb
With destruction levels of South America’s rainforests set to hit an all time high, these wild and beautiful big cats are being forced to move closer to human settlements. This is not their choice, they simply have nowhere else to go. Their habitat is being lost at an alarming rate, and with it most of their wild prey species. Many of the ungulates eaten by the jaguar are also hunted by humans. Over-hunted, in fact. Farmers, who will shoot jaguars on sight, view them as pests, and as a threat to both themselves and their livestock. This, of course, is not without foundation; but when you deprive an animal of its own natural prey, there is a great possibility it will look elsewhere in order sate its appetite. The human population is growing as fast as the forests are disappearing, making it difficult for the jaguar to avoid contact with man, therefore increasing the potential for slaughter. As a result the jaguar has become extremely vulnerable; and he is not the one carrying a gun.
Another threat to the jaguar is hunting for pelts. Although there was a huge decline in the 1970s, due to CITES involvement and protest campaigns, the wearing of fur has once again become popular. The age-old demand for paws, teeth and other body parts also continues unabated.
The jaguar is the largest cat of the Americas, and the only living member of the genus Panthera found in the New World. After the tiger and the lion, the jaguar is also the third largest cat on the planet. Noted for its power and agility, this iconic animal can weigh anything between one and three hundred pounds, stand three feet at the shoulder and reach as much as six feet in length.
These wild and graceful creatures have large, broad heads housing exceptionally powerful, short jaws. One bite is enough to kill its prey. Cats can tear their food and crush it, but are unable to chew. Food is swallowed whole and, when in the stomach, the digestive juices break it down.
The base coat of the jaguar varies from yellow to reddish-brown with a white underside. The spots on the head, neck and legs are usually solid, whereas on the back they appear as rosettes with spots in the middle. The pattern of each coat is different and allows for identification of individuals. It also provides perfect camouflage in the undergrowth. When comparing leopard and jaguar, the leopard does not have spots in the centre of the rosettes. This is an easy way to tell the difference at a glance.
Melanistic variants commonly occur in jaguars due to a dominant gene mutation. They were once often referred to as “black panthers”. This is, of course, now politically incorrect and they are instead known colloquially as “black jaguars”. They are not, however, strictly black. All the distinct markings of the jaguar are there underneath, but are hidden by the excess black pigment melanin. It is quite possible to see these markings with the naked eye. Melanistic cubs can be born to non-melanistic parents and vice versa.
This enigmatic and elusive cat spends its time either resting in the trees or hunting down its prey. It hunts on both land and in water, and is a skilled swimmer. It is capable of moving through the water with astonishing speed and stealth, often pouncing on its prey unannounced. The prey is stalked in silence on huge padded paws, and after one agile leap, rapidly disposed of with a single powerful bite to the neck, suffocating the creature almost instantly. In fact, the name Jaguar is said to come from the Native American word “yaguar” which interprets as “he who kills with one leap”. A solitary creatures, the jaguar will defend its territory fiercely if other males attempt to encroach. This is when those huge canines come into action.
Like the tiger, lion and leopard (all genus Panthera) this large felid has the ability to roar, due to the unusual square shape of the vocal chords and the thick pad of elastic tissue towards the front. Cats of the genus Panthera are the only cats which actually can roar.
Jaguars only come together to mate. Normally, they are solitary. There is no specific breeding season for the species. It is the mother that takes care of the cubs – the father moves on. As with tigers, there is always the risk of the father killing and eating the cubs. With perhaps this in mind, the mother soon sees him off after the birth if he lingers. Following a gestation period of up to one hundred and ten days, typically, one to three cubs will be born, each weighing one and a half to two pounds. The cubs will be born blind and remain so for the first two weeks of their lives. They will be weaned at three months but will stay in the den, relying upon their mother for food, until they are about six months old. At this age, they will be ready to accompany their mother on small hunts. They will stay with her until they reach maturity and can establish a territory of their own. During this time the cubs will have perfected the art of finding food and shelter, and defending themselves. Females are mature at about three years of age and males four years of age.
Natural Habitat Jaguars have a vast array of habitats including rainforest, deciduous forest, seasonally flooded swamp, grassland and mountain scrub. They are almost always found living near water. Where habitat is concerned, there are certain criteria essential to maintaining healthy populations: dense cover, plentiful prey and a good supply of water. Where Remote regions of South and Central America, largely in the moist Amazon Basin. What they eat Jaguars are obligate carnivores with a preference for large ungulates. But, they will eat almost anything, including sloth, reptiles, amphibians, fish and monkeys. In all, jaguars are said to prey on over eighty-five species. Threats Extensive and aggressive deforestation, persecution, human conflict, hunting for pelts, and hunting for paws and teeth for mythological reasons. “Those who excelled in hunting and warfare often adorned themselves with jaguar pelts, teeth, or claws and were regarded as possessing feline souls” (Saunders 1998). Although hunting for pelts has declined dramatically over the last thirty years, demand is rising again in the markets, and claws are still seen as having the same mythical properties. Status: Near Threatened The jaguar (Panthera onca) is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Near Threatened (likely to become endangered in the near future). It is also listed on CITES Appendix I. The jaguar is fully protected at national level across most of its range, with hunting either prohibited or restricted.
Various groups are involved in Jaguar Conservation. Recovery programs are in place, and there is an active Jaguar Species Survival Plan. Yet the species is still declining!