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Stop tigers from going extinct
Sunday. 9.30.07 10:59 am

Source: Los Angeles Times

Unless drastic action is taken now, the lord of the jungle will go extinct this century.

By Vinod Thomas
September 27, 2007

The magnificent tiger could, in the early part of this century, be extinct in the wild. That is the unthinkable yet undeniable situation facing the lord of the jungle. The only way to stave off such a disaster is for the two largest developing economies, China and India, to take urgent action to control the trade in tiger parts and to protect habitats.

Several subspecies of the tiger (Bali, Javan and Caspian) have become extinct in the last few decades, while others (South China, Indochinese) are critically endangered. The latest census confirms that the number of Bengal tigers in India -- the single largest population -- has dwindled by more than 50% in the last five years to fewer than 1,500 in the wild, which experts say could be the tipping point for extinction.

How has the tiger's fate come to this? The foremost reason is poaching to meet demand for tiger products used in traditional medicines in China and other parts of East Asia. The other crucial factor is the continuous loss of tiger habitat, which is down by about 40% across India in the last decade, along with which has disappeared much of its prey.

To make matters worse, there now is relentless pressure from tiger farmers in East Asia to legalize the trade in the bones, fur, paws, penis and teeth of their animals. On the surface, the case made for legalizing the sale of tiger parts is beguiling. By flooding the market with parts from farm-raised tigers, it's argued, prices will plummet, reducing the profitability of poaching. A cited analogy: People don't hunt wild turkeys for Thanksgiving when supermarkets overflow with farmed supplies.

But to reduce poaching, those who raise tigers in captivity would need to undercut the cost of supplying the parts from wild tigers. That's improbable. Poaching in India, by poisoning or with simple steel traps, costs less than $100 a tiger (plus transport and other costs). Raising one in captivity -- even three or more to a cage -- costs about $3,000.

Conservationists warn that legalizing the tiger trade would be the death knell for tigers in the wild. That's because it will always be cheaper to hunt tigers, and poaching will be less risky if poached parts can be easily laundered -- that is, passed off as coming from captive-bred animals.

Without DNA analysis, even lion bones are indistinguishable from tiger's, and they too are sold on East Asia's black market. So India's poachers also now are hunting the last lions in Asia -- about 350 in the Gir forest in the western state of Gujarat. In just two weeks in May, poachers killed a dozen lions.

India still offers the best hope for the tigers' future because it has the most tigers and a conservation infrastructure. In 1973, the Indian government initiated Project Tiger, designating protected areas and wildlife corridors. This led to a dramatic recovery -- their numbers nearly tripled by the 1990s. But that commitment faltered, and the population collapsed again.

What now? It is essential to deal with poaching and the demand for tiger parts in traditional medicine immediately. The World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies states that tiger parts are not necessary for traditional medicines, and alternatives are available and effective. So there are solid reasons to strongly enforce the international ban on the tiger trade, and for China to keep its 1993 domestic ban securely in place.

Vital too are investments in India to protect habitats. Tiger reserves and forests need an adequate number of field protection staff equipped with modern technology. Forest rangers, who confront dangers from poachers, also merit better pay and protection; today many of those jobs go unfilled.

Most important, the communities abutting tiger habitat, some of which are among the poorest in India, must have a stake in protecting tigers. The residents need to gain from conservation efforts and eco-tourism: There are very few places in the world where tourists can see wild tigers. Poachers could be given rewards for tracking and photographing the animals for monitoring. They might be given new avenues for livelihood: In the forest reserves of Periyar in India's southern state of Kerala, for example, former poachers now work as tourist guides.

The critical status of the tiger, a creature at the top of the animal kingdom, says a great deal about how little we value biodiversity in a global economy. China's and India's impressive 9% growth rates would be tarnished if, in the process, the planet should lose tigers and other wildlife for good.

As the symbol of countries, teams and corporations, the tiger has helped sell beer, sports goods and breakfast cereal. Now it could use some high-profile reciprocity. Support from private corporations -- such as Exxon Mobil's Save the Tiger Fund -- as well as the Asian business diaspora and international agencies could prove decisive. But the moment for action is now. Without immediate financial and political commitments, it will be too late to save this mesmerizing animal.

Vinod Thomas is the director general of the Independent Evaluation Group at the World Bank.

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Officials Nab India's Most Notorious Tiger Poacher
Sunday. 9.30.07 10:37 am

Source:Environment News Service

NAGPUR, Maharashtra, India, September 27, 2007 (ENS) - Known tiger poacher Laxman Singh Pardhi has confessed to forestry officials that he killed three tigers and four leopards, the "Times of India" newspaper reported today.

Pardhi was arrested 10 days ago in a joint operation conducted by the Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh forest departments, acting on information provided by the Wildlife Protection Society of India.

"He has accepted his role in direct killings besides acting as a carrier and supplier of traps and vehicles," BS Hooda, field director and conservator of forests for the Melghat Tiger Reserve, told the newspaper.

Tiger in the Melghat Tiger Reserve (Photo courtesy Indian Wildlife Tourism)
Pardhi, a resident of the Betul district, has seven cases pending against him in Melghat Tiger Reserve, all involving large endangered cat species such as tigers and leopards, according to the Wildlife Protection Society of India.

He has now been remanded to magisterial custody until October 2. There are two other cases against him in South Betul division as well. Pardhi and his wife are known to have visited Delhi-based skin trader Sansar Chand in the past, the animal protection group says.

Meanwhile, Forest Department officials made headway against poachers in other parts of India during the past week.

One tiger skin was seized by the Forest Department of Karnataka in Bandipur Tiger Reserve on September 21. Five people were arrested, two of whom are believed to be traders, but two other suspects have disappeared. The tiger was killed by poisoning on July 29, the Wildlife Protection Society said.

On the same day, the Orissa Forest Department seized a leopard skin and two country-made guns in Satkosia Wildlife Sanctuary, which is a proposed tiger reserve. Five people were taken into custody. The accused are believed to have killed the leopard a week ago in the Tikkarpara Reserve Forest.

A century ago, 100,000 tigers are believed to have roamed the world, but the wild population is now estimated at between 7,000 and 5,000 animals. Some estimates suggest fewer than 2,500 mature breeding individuals survive.

Destruction of their habitat and poaching for skins and other body parts used in traditional Asian medicine as pain killers and aphrodisiacs are responsible for their demise.

The Barasingha or swamp deer, is vulnerable to extinction. (Photo credit unknown)
On September 23, police in the state of Uttar Pradesh seized 24 pairs of barasingha deer antlers and arrested two men who were transporting them. Two others managed to escape.

The men were carrying the antlers in gunny sacks to Delhi, where they are believed to be based. Some of them have previous records in wildlife crime, officials said.

Once, barasingha deer were distributed throughout the moist forests and swamplands of the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers, as well as in central India.

Now, these deer are classed as Vulnerable to extinction on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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Yay Good News
Friday. 9.21.07 9:25 am
Source: WWF

Baiji Dolphin Previously Thought Extinct Spotted in the Yangtze River

BEIJING-- The reported sighting of a Yangtze River dolphin, or Baiji, means there is still a chance for people to take further action and protect the cetaceans in the Yangtze from extinction, according to World Wildlife Fund.

The Chinese media reported that a local businessman in Tongling City in east China’s Anhui Province filmed “a big white animal” with his digital camera on August 19. The footage was later confirmed to be the Baiji by Prof. Wang Ding, a leading scientist in Baiji study at the Institute of Hydrobiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

It is the first Baiji reportedly found in the Yangtze since the scientific expedition last year, during which no single Baiji was spotted.

Based on the river’s geographic and hydrological complexity and the official definition of extinction by IUCN, WWF and many scientists agreed that this species was “functionally extinct”, but thought it was still too early to declare its extinction.

“This sighting presents a last hope that the Baiji may not go the way of the dodo bird,” said Karen Baragona, Yangtze River Basin Program leader at World Wildlife Fund. “Other species have been brought back from the brink of extinction like the southern right whale and white rhinos, but only through the most intensive conservation efforts.”

WWF has been actively involved in the protection of cetaceans and their habitat in the Yangtze River. “WWF calls for immediate joint efforts to provide a living space for this beautiful animal, which is a key species indicating the health of its habitat – the Yangtze River. To be effective, efforts must address agriculture, water resources, transportation, environmental protection and sanitation to reduce human disturbance and protect the cetaceans in the river,” Baragona said.

Last year, WWF cooperated with other stakeholders to finish drafting a protection strategy and action plan to improve the protection capacity of nature reserves.

“Protections will be implemented under the WWF program to conserve the Baiji and the Yangtze together with related stakeholders,” Baragona added.

About the Yangtze Freshwater Dolphin Expedition 2006
Organized by the Hydrobiology Institute of Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Yangtze Fisheries Resources Administration Commission and The baiji.org Foundation with support from WWF, American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Britain’s Zoological Society of London and the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG), the search is the largest of such kind in recent years in the Yangtze River.

Kicked off in Wuhan, Hubei Province on November 6, 2006, scientists from home and abroad spent 39 days on board of two ships traveling a distance of nearly 3,400 kilometers between Yichang, Hubei Province and Shanghai along the river. Advanced equipments and a well-formulated standard were used for the search expedition, during which participants conducted uninterrupted simultaneous surveillance via high-precision telescope and human eyesight.

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Yangtze River Dolphin Extinct...
Thursday. 8.16.07 11:50 am
Source: The Independent

Extinct: the dolphin that could not live alongside man

The Yangtze river dolphin is today declared extinct. It is the first large animal to be wiped from the planet for 50 years, and only the fourth entire mammal family to disappear in 500 years. And it was driven to its death by mankind...
By Jeremy Laurance
Published: 08 August 2007
After more than 20 million years on the planet, the Yangtze river dolphin is today officially declared extinct, the first species of cetacean (whale, dolphin or porpoise) to be driven from this planet by human activity.

An intensive six-week search by an international team of marine biologists involving two boats that ploughed up and down the world's busiest river last December failed to find a single specimen.

Today, the scientific report of that expedition, published in the peer-reviewed journal of the Royal Society, Biology Letters, confirms the dolphin known as the baiji or white-fin in Chinese and celebrated for its pale skin and distinctive long snout, has disappeared.

To blame for its demise is the increasing number of container ships that use the Yangtze, as well as the fishermen whose nets became an inadvertent hazard.

This is no ordinary extinction of the kind that occurs frequently in a world of millions of still-evolving species. The Yangtze freshwater dolphin was a remarkable creature that separated from all other species so many millions of years ago, and had become so distinct, that it qualified as a mammal family in its own right. It is the first large vertebrate to have become extinct for 50 years and only the fourth entire mammal family to disappear since the time of Columbus, when Europeans began their colonisation of the world.

The three previous mammal families gone from the face of the Earth are the giant lemurs of Madagascar, which were eliminated in the 17th century, the island shrews of the West Indies, probably wiped out by the rats that accompanied Colombus on his voyage, and the Tasmanian tiger, the last known specimen of which died in captivity in 1936. (The most famous creature to have become extinct in the past 500 years, the Dodo, was a bird.)

Sam Turvey, conservation biologist at the Zoological Society of London, who led the expedition to find the Yangtze dolphin and is chief author of the paper, said: "The loss of such a unique and charismatic species is a shocking tragedy. This extinction represents the disappearance of a complete branch of the evolutionary tree of life and emphasises we have yet to take full responsibility in our role as guardians of the planet."

Several other species are "just hanging on" in the Yangtze and could disappear within a few years unless action is taken now, Dr Turvey warned. They include the Chinese alligator, the finless porpoise and the Chinese paddlefish, which grows up to 7m long but has not been seen since 2003.

"There is a lot of interest now in the baiji - but it has come too late. Why does no one pay attention to a species until there are none left? We really have to use the baiji as a wake-up call to act immediately to prevent it happening again.

"What is poignant is that the Yangtze is a fast river system with a unique range of endemic species. Once they are lost there, they are lost everywhere," he said.

The object of last December's expedition was to rescue any baiji found and remove them to a 21km-long oxbow lake in the nature reserve of Tian'ezhou for an intensive breeding programme. Each of the two boats operated independently with scientists scanning the water with binoculars - dolphins have to surface to breathe - and listening with hyprophones for the distinctive whistles. Despite the technology, they found nothing.

"We used a very intensive survey technique. Both of the boats counted the same number of porpoises - we saw everything that was there. We didn't see a single dolphin," Dr Turvey said.

The cause of the freshwater dolphin's demise was instead all too plain to the investigators. It had become a victim of the world's most populous country's race to get richer. One tenth of the world's population live in the Yangtze river basin. During the expedition, scientists counted 19,830 ships on the 1,669km of the river they surveyed - one large freight vessel every 800m.

The Yangtze dolphin navigated by sonar - its eyes are useless in the murky water - but in a motorway jammed with container ships, coal barges and speed boats, its sonar was deafened and it ran a high risk of being hit or torn by propellers.

An even greater threat came from the nets and 1,000m lines of hooks used by fishermen.

Although they did not intend to catch dolphins, the creatures became entangled in the nets or lacerated by the bare hooks - almost half of all dead baiji found in the past few decades have died in this way. In addition, pollution had fouled their natural habitat and completion of the Three Gorges Dam worsened the decline in smaller fish on which the baiji fed.

The last mammal families to become extinct

Island shrews

Extinct: 1500

The West Indian "island shrews" or nesophontids are known only from sub-fossil remains. They were about the size of a rat and died out following the accidental introduction of black rats, with which they could not compete, from European ships. They were the most ancient land mammals of the West Indies and their extinction represented the loss of an entire mammalian order.

Giant lemurs

Extinct: 1650

The giant lemurs of Madagascar weighed up to 180lb, more than a silverback gorilla. They died out as a result of hunting by humans.

Tasmanian Tiger

Extinct: 1936

The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, left, looked like a large striped dog, with a wolf's head and heavy tail. It was actually a marsupial, related to the kangaroo, with a pouch to raise its young. European settlers feared it and killed it whenever they could. Thylacines never bred in captivity - the last known one dying in Hobart zoo on 7 September 1936.


arent this news very sad.... i nearly claim my tears tonite.. but i have to be strong since all my family members were here together w my grandpa n grandma, please we need to do something before all the wild animals walking down the aisle of extinction....

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Stockpiles of Dead Tigers Should be Destroyed, Experts Urge China
Sunday. 7.29.07 11:33 pm
SOURCE: International Tiger Coalition
BEIJING, July 27 /PRNewswire- USNewswire/ -- Disturbing new images of tiger carcasses piled up in cold storage at one of China's largest "tiger farms" raise questions about enforcement of tiger trade bans in effect in China and internationally.

The photos were taken by participants invited to a government-sponsored workshop and tour of China's two largest tiger "farms" earlier this month for international observers and scientists. The tour was held on the heels of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) agreeing in June that captive breeding of tigers should be restricted "only to conserving wild tigers."

"What is the point of these stockpiles when tiger trade is banned inside and outside China?" asked Belinda Wright of the Wildlife Protection Society of India, who participated in the State Forestry Administration' s tiger farm tour and tiger trade workshop. "The 171 member nations of CITES made it clear last month that 'tigers should not be bred for their parts and derivatives. '"

Among the carcasses piled in a refrigerated building at the tiger farm in Guilin, China, was a tiger that had been skinned and another that had been gutted. CITES officials formally asked China in June to investigate illegal sales of tiger meat at the Guilin farm.

Tiger "farms" in China house nearly 5,000 live tigers, and farm investors are pressuring the government to lift a ban on tiger trade so that they can profit from the sale of skins, bones and other body parts of tigers after they die. The Guilin farm's owner submitted a report to CITES saying he was saving the tigers in cold storage for the day when trade is legalized in China.

"Given that these bodies are commercially valuable and their sale is prohibited by law, they amount to contraband," said Adam Roberts of Born Free Foundation. "Why not burn them the way other illegal wildlife products are burned in China?"

The 35 organizations of the International Tiger Coalition stand ready to offer guidance and technical support to China on shutting down its tiger farms and stepping up law enforcement efforts to stamp out illegal trade of tiger parts. The Coalition encourages China to invest more resources in increasing its wild tiger population, which could rebound quickly with proper protection.

Contacts: Judy Mills, +202/857-5160 International Tiger Coalition
Jan Vertefeuille, +202/492-0597


Just imagine, a big fridge with dead tigers .... awww i cant imagine it....

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Crocodiles scare tiger poachers in India
Friday. 7.27.07 7:04 am
Source: Click Here

Crocodiles scare tiger poachers in India

CALCUTTA, India -- Poachers seeking to bag a Royal Bengal tiger in the Sunderbans reserve are encountering a unique new security measure to keep them away: hundreds of crocodiles that have been released in the mangrove forest.

Originally brought into the reserve in the late 1990s for breeding, the crocodiles are having the unintended beneficial effect of scaring away poachers from the forest - home to the largest wild population of Royal Bengal tigers.

"With tigers on land and the crocodile in water, the fear factor does work," divisional Forest Officer Rathin Banerjee said Tuesday.

During winter months, the crocs often come out of the cold water and lie in the jungle path of the poachers.

Nearly 400 crocodiles, bred in captivity over the years, have been released in the reserve, Banerjee said. A 2004 census said more than 270 tigers were roaming the reserve in West Bengal state, bordering Bangladesh.

"The use of crocodiles is one of the measures to save the wildlife there from poachers," said V.K. Yadav, a forest conservator.

Conservationist Ranjit Mitra said it was difficult to say how many tigers have been killed by poachers in the past five years, "but it will run into dozens."

Another conversationist called the idea of using crocs "novel."

"It is surely a novel idea, but this can be one of the measures to check poaching," said Animesh Basu of the Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation, a local non-governmental organization.

The state Forest Department was assessing the effectiveness of the new measure.

"It is not like you count how many hens you had and how many have been taken away by the jackals at night," Yadav said. "Here the idea is to ensure that there is no unusual change in the demography," Yadav said referring to major species of animals in the Sunderbans.

India's border guards also have set up camps in the area to guard against the poachers.

"We are trying our best," Yadav said.

Preliminary results of a recent exhaustive study of tiger habitats found that the population in some Indian states may be nearly 65 percent smaller than experts had thought.

Conservationists said the early results indicated the most recent tiger census - which found about 3,500 tigers - was far too optimistic. The study was conducted in the past two years by the government-run Wildlife Institute of India.


Don't u think this is cool? instead of setting up all those high tech protection, crocodiles just get a new job... :D

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