Meet Green, an orangutan and victim of human impact.


Meet Green, an orangutan and victim of human impact. Follow the devastating journey as her home is destroyed by logging, clearing for palm oil plantations, and the choking haze of rainforest fires. Hauntingly poetic and without narration, the film creatively depicts the effects of consumerism on tropical rainforests as we are faced with our personal accountability in the loss of the world’s treasures.

“Green” is about the rainforest of Indonesia.  The film has no narration, it is thus accessible to all nationalities. It was produced  independently by Patrick Rouxel and is free of all commercial or political attachment.

The producers are happy for “Green” to be shared as widely as possibly. If you can – please do so.  It is very important.

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London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade 2014


London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade

On the 12th and 13th February, 2014, forty-six countries participated in the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade 2014. The result was a signed declaration to tackle the illegal wildlife trade that is annually killing many thousands of elephant, rhino and other endangered species.

For those who have yet to see it – click here for the  London declaration

I’ll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions!

 

David Cameron to rip up green regulations


English countryside

This just about sums up the disgraceful tactics of David Cameron and his cronies.  The British Government has yet again put corporate greed before environmental concerns.

David Cameron to rip up green regulations

Prime minister says plans to scrap or amend more than 3,000 regulations will save businesses £850m a year
David Cameron will on Monday boast of tearing up 80,000 pages of environmental protections and building guidelines as part of a new push to build more houses and cut costs for businesses.
In a speech to small firms, the prime minister will claim that he is leading the first government in decades to have slashed more needless regulation than it introduced.
Among the regulations to be watered down will be protections for hedgerows and rules about how businesses dispose of waste, despite Cameron’s claims to lead the greenest government ever.
Addressing the Federation of Small Businesses conference, Cameron will argue that the new rules will make it “vastly cheaper” for businesses to comply with their environmental obligations.
Read the full article here at The Guardian

13th November 2013 – A Fateful Day for the Rainforests


Up to 90 per cent Of Global Deforestation is Due to Organized Crime

URGENT

Tomorrow, Wednesday, 13th of November 2013, is of utmost importance for the tropical rainforests. On this day, the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the EU will meet in Brussels to discuss Europe’s future biofuel policy. European laws stipulate that biofuels made from plant oil are blended with fossil fuels. At present, 1.9 million tons of palm oil are mixed with diesel in the EU every year. 7,000 square kilometers of tropical rainforest have been converted into huge industrial monoculture plantations to produce the palm oil.

Please participate in the campaign by sending a protest email to the UK representation to the EU, Mrs. Shan Morgan:

Dear Minister,
Please abolish the blending of palm oil with diesel in the EU. The plantations needed to produce the palm oil threaten rainforests and the habitat of endangered orangutans.
Palm oil does not belong in fuel tanks!

To: Shan Morgan, UK Representation to the EU
Email: ukrep@fco.gov.uk
Telephone: +32 (0)2 287 8211

Via Rainforest Rescue 12th November, 2013

Fast Fact Attack: Endangered Species No. 61 – The Sumatran Tiger


Sumatran tiger in jungle

Image: Creative Commons

Description
From the eyes on its head to the whiskers on its face, there is not a single bit of the tiger that does not promise a cure for something.  Or, so decree the Oracles of Chinese traditional medicine.  And, if the Chinese are not boiling the tiger, grinding its bones into powder or making soup of it, others are selling it on the black market for as much as twenty thousand dollars per animal.  Live beasts are good, but dead pose little problem. And, of course, there is always a little bit of sport involved, too.  Then there are the land robbers, committing large scale pillage and rape.  They have logged, cleared, burnt, converted, planted and settled.  And, they show no signs of easing up until they have fully exploited the Sumatran tiger’s habitat.  The situation, by the admittance of Indonesian forestry officials, is now way out of control.  We are, in case you haven’t already guessed, back in Sumatra;  an island where they seem very practised at forcing species towards extinction.

Sumatran tigers can be distinguished by their thinner stripes.  Male Sumatrans have long fur around their faces, giving them a maned appearance.  They are smaller than other subspecies, with an average male weighing about two hundred and sixty-five pounds. Females are less heavy at about two hundred pounds.  Males grow up to eight feet in length, and females, a slightly shorter seven feet.

Tigers kill swiftly and painlessly.  A tiger will ambush its prey from behind and administer one fatal bite to the neck.  The spinal cord will break and death is almost always instantaneous.  They will then drag their prey out of sight.  They can eat up to forty pounds at a time, and will save what they don’t eat for later.  They are spectacular swimmers and have been known to chase their prey into water to gain an advantage. They live in dens and caves, and sometimes tree hollows;  they are mostly nocturnal and invariably solitary.

There is no specific breeding season for tigers, but mating often takes place between November and April, following which there is a gestation period of about three and a half months.  Three or four cubs will be born in a cave, a rocky crevice, or in dense vegetation. For the first few days their eyes and ears will remain closed.  The father of the cubs will not be involved in raising them.  They will stay within the confines of the den until they reach eight weeks.  At the age of six months they will begin their lessons in killing prey. However, their first lone kill will not be until they are about eighteen months old.  Cubs normally stay with their mothers until they are two or three years of age.  The juvenile mortality is high, however, and sadly, almost half of all cubs do not survive beyond the age of two.

The Sumatran tiger is the smallest of the five tiger subspecies.  It has lived exclusively, for over a million years, in the once extensive moist tropical jungles of the island of Sumatra, Indonesia.

Although tigers have been killed as a result of human conflict, the most significant numbers of killings have been for financial gain.  Poaching for trade is responsible for over 78% of estimated Sumatran tiger deaths, consisting of at least 40 animals per year.  There is no evidence that this trade is declining.

Almost sixty-seven thousand square kilometres of forest was lost between 1985 and 1997.  Most of that was lowland forest, the preferred habitat of the Sumatran tiger.  Since then, the annual rate of deforestation has increased dramatically.

If these illegal activities are not stamped out soon, or at least brought under control, there will be no future for the Sumatran tiger.

Habitat
Montane and peat forests, lowlands, swamps and rivers.
Where
The Indonesian island of Sumatra.
What they eat
Young rhinos, various pigs and members of the deer family.   It will also feast on smaller prey such as snakes, fish, monkeys and tapirs.
Threats
Habitat loss, illegal logging, depletion of prey base, human conflict and poaching.
Status: Critically Endangered
The Sumatran tiger  (Panthera tigris sumatrae)  is listed on the IUCN List of Threatened Species as Critically Endangered.  Most wild tigers live in the various National Parks of Sumatra.    Others, about 20% of the overall population, live in unprotected areas.  However, the square acreage of these supposedly protected National Parks is constantly dwindling due to illegal agriculture. The growing of coffee has become a major concern.  This issue, and others, can only be addressed by a) the law being strictly enforced – which it most certainly is not at the moment, and b) making the penalties far more severe that they are.

It is thought three hundred of the species may still survive in Sumatra in the wild. There are roughly the same amount kept in zoos.  “The European breeding programme and the Global Management Species Programme for Sumatran tigers are both coordinated by ZSL London Zoo – where ZSL’s specialists are responsible for ensuring a healthy and diverse population of tigers in zoos around the world.” [1]
There are various international organisations and trusts who are trying to help the Sumatran tiger, but unless something is done to halt the destruction of the forests soon, the Sumatran tiger will go the way of the Javan and Balinese tigers.  Both of which are now extinct.

“Man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all”
Aristotle

Fast Fact Attack: Endangered Species No. 60 – The Tasmanian Devil


Tasmanian devil growling

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Description
Most endangered species are beset by habitat destruction or hunting, or both.  Not these little chaps.  They are all falling fast because of a rare, and invariably fatal, form of cancer.

Originally thought to be caused by a virus, it is now recognised to be an extremely rare contagious cancer.  It is highly unpleasant and starts by attacking the facial features. Lesions appear which develop into tumours. As the tumours spread, the animal is eventually left unable to eat.  It grows weaker as starvation sets in.  Once the disease has taken hold, it takes about three to six months for the animal to die.  The disease is transmitted through biting and mating.

Although known as devils, they are far from it.  But, if you have ever heard their cries in the night or the wild noises they make when devouring their prey, you could forgive the early European settlers for living in fear of them, and naming them as such.  Although, it is hard to forgive them for mercilessly hunting and trapping them to almost the point of extinction.  Luckily for the devils, they became protected by law in 1941 and the species made a comeback.

The largest surviving carnivorous marsupial, the Tasmanian devil is short and stocky, with a head that looks too large for its body.  The large head houses exceptionally powerful jaws, strong enough to crush bones and metal traps.  Research shows the Tasmanian devil’s large head and neck enable it to generate one of the strongest bites per unit body mass of any land predator.  Its forelegs are slightly longer than its hind legs, allowing it to reach speeds of up to eight miles per hour.  It has predominantly black fur with white markings on the chest and rump.  Some adults, though not many, do not have these markings.  They all have long whiskers for locating prey in the dark and for detecting the presence of other devils when feeding.  And, they all have long claws for digging dens and excavating food.  Males are usually larger than females and can weigh up to twenty-six pounds.  They can grow up to two feet six inches at the shoulder.  Their tails act as a counterbalance when they are running.  The tail is also where they store fat. A thin tail would indicate an unhealthy devil.

They are active during the day, and can sometimes be found basking in the warmth of the sun.  They are, however, nocturnal hunters. They can also climb trees and swim.  Although not the fleetest of runners, they have a great deal of stamina and can lumber along for up to an hour, non-stop.  When opening their jaws wide, they are often expressing fear. This could easily be misinterpreted as a sign of aggression. But, other devils certainly know better.  Instead of any growls or snarls, they have this peculiar habit of sneezing sharply when challenging one another to a fight.

The Tasmanian Devil is promiscuous and breeds once a year in March.  Gestation lasts twenty-one days.  After which, twenty or thirty tiny, tiny babies  (joeys)  will be born. Therein lies a problem.  Mothers only have four teats, so it gets quite competitive in the pouch, and, sadly, only a handful ever survive.  At about four months, infants will start to introduce themselves to the world.  At six months, they should be fully weaned.

Habitat
All habitats.
Where
Tasmania  –  Australia
What they eat
Carnivores and mainly scavengers, they will feed on whatever is available.   And, they eat every scrap  –  fur, bones and all.
Threats
Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) is the main threat to Tasmanian devils.  Roadkills, dog kills and persecution also occur.
Status: Endangered
The Tasmanian devil is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species  as Endangered.   The population has been reduced by more than 80% since the 1990s. The sole reason for this decline is an invariably fatal infectious cancer, now known as Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD).  Much is being done to overcome this horrific disease.  Research is currently being carried out to find a possible cure.  Pilot programmes have been initiated whereby zoos in America, San Diego Zoo Global and Albuquerque Biopark, and three zoos in New Zealand have been selected to receive Tasmanian devils in order to raise awareness of their plight.  And, following quarantine procedures, some are being placed in a captive breeding programmes to ensure the survival of the species.
More information can be found at Save the Tasmanian Devil 

“The fate of animals is of greater importance to me than the fear of appearing ridiculous; it is indissolubly connected with the fate of men”
Emile Zola

Fast Fact Attack: Endangered Species No. 58 – The Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey


Red colobus and baby by David Edric

Photographer: David Edric

Description
Visualise someone leaping upwards fifty feet into the air carrying a twenty-five pound weight.  That is the equivalent of a female Zanzibar red colobus monkey travelling upwards with her clinging baby.  These colourful and friendly primates are Old World semi-brachiators, moving through the trees with a combination of leaping and brachiation. They are also quadrupedal, and can scamper on all fours across the top of the branches.  Above all, they are very athletic.  And, they are very endangered.

Zanzibar red colobus have pale-grey undersides with reddish-brown on the head and lower back.  They wear a mantle of black across the shoulders extending down the arms as a stripe.  They have black faces with white chins and foreheads.  Their legs have darker grey patches and their tails are brown.  Both male and female share these colours.  They are also very similar in size.

They do, however, have two notable features which single them out from other primates. Firstly, their tails are used as a balancing tool, whereas in other species the tail is used as an additional limb to aid forward movement.  Secondly, they lack opposable thumbs (colobus, is derived from the Greek word ekolobóse, meaning cut short).  Instead, they have four very long fingers which wrap around the branches enabling them to swing through the canopy with consummate ease.  On average, they weigh just under six kilos for males and five and a half kilos for females.  The mean length is twenty-two inches. Their tails are almost two feet long.

Within groups there is always a dominant male, determined by levels of aggression.  The hierarchy dictates the higher members of the group receive a larger distribution of food, social activities such as grooming, and females.  Groups can consist of as many as eighty individuals, though some are much less.  Females are usually more numerous within the groups.

There is no specific breeding season for the Zanzibar red colobus.  They mate throughout the year, but the inter-birth interval can be up to three years or more.  When the female falls pregnant, the gestation period lasts between five and six months, after which only one baby will be born.  The babies are born altricial and will be nursed for about eighteen months if female, and three to four years if male  (often males continue to nurse until they reach maturity).

The red colobus has a somewhat unusual predator in the chimpanzee.  Chimpanzees occasionally form large hunting parties and go on a killing spree for a few weeks.  They seem particularly fond of the red colobus.  When the marauding monkeys descend upon them, the red colobus males form a defence group, while the females collect their offspring ready to flee.  Sadly, the chimps manage to kill quite a lot of their fellow primates when on these missions and have been credited with contributing to the declining numbers.  The purpose is not solely to feed themselves, but also to acquire a nutritionally valuable item of trade.  With it, the chimpanzees are also able to show off their prowess to other males and their dependability to females.

Habitat
Gallery forest, scrub forest growing on coral rag and mangrove swamps.
Where
Endemic to Zanzibar  –  An island off the coast of (and part of) Tanzania,  East Africa
What they eat
Leaves, leaf buds, flowers and unripe fruit. On the ground, they eat charcoal to aid their digestive system.
Threats
Habitat destruction by way of logging, charcoal production, agricultural clearance and bush-burning.   They are sometimes shot for food, sport or as crop  pests by the locals, though these practice are now in decline and tourism is recognised as a valuable option. Illegal pet traders target the babies and will kill those around it who try to protect it. This can be a lot of monkeys.  Deaths on the roads happen from time to time.  Last of all, they fall prey to chimpanzees.  Those adorable little monkeys will eat meat, if given the chance, and are said to be responsible for killing up to one hundred red colobus every year.
Status: Endangered
The Zanzibar red colobus is listed on the  IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.   It is also listed as Class A under the African Convention, and protected under  Appendix I of CITES.   It is thought less than twelve hundred Zanzibar red colobus survive  in the wild.   Conservation funding has been provided by the WWF in the past, but little seems to have come of it.   In fact, there does not seem to be very much going on at all.   Although, awareness is being raised and farmers are now compensated by the government for damages to crops.  The majority of Zanzibar colobus live in the Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park

“All things share the same breath – the beast, the tree, the man. The air shares its spirit with all the life it supports” Chief Seattle