Brown Sea Nettle

Photo by NOAA’s National Ocean Service / CC BY 2.0

Photo from Monterey Harbor

Caiman in Costa Rica

Photo by Ben Haeringer / CC BY-ND 2.0

Caiman in Costa Rica

Nepal’s Rhinos on the Rise Thanks to Anti-Poaching Measures

The endangered one-horned rhinos of Nepal were down to 375 in 2005, but today they number a triumphant 675.

The rise in Rhino population occurred thanks to anti-poaching measures over the past decade. In fact, there has been no rhino poaching at all in three of the last five years, making Nepal a global role model on how to handle poachers.

Official at World Wildlife Fund Diwakar Chapagain says:

“At a time when the world is facing difficulties to protect and conserve the wildlife including rhinos, Nepal has seen an extraordinary improvement in wildlife conservation. It is definitely a rare successful conservation story in the world, where park officials and the Nepalese army have managed to succeed in anti-poaching activities.”

Photo by Ted / CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo by Ted / CC BY-SA 2.0

Still, killing greater one-horned rhinos for their horns is a terrible problem. The rhino is on the red list of the IUCN, as countries in Africa continue to have trouble stopping poachers.

Warden of the Chitwan National Park, where most of the rhinos reside, Kamal Jung Kunwar says:

“Wild animals such as tigers, rhinos, elephants and leopards have been regularly killed by poachers for their body parts and skin, which fetch thousands of dollars on the black market.”

In 2002, 37 rhinos were killed by poachers, triggering deep concern about the one-horned rhino’s future in Nepal. Since then, Nepal has taken several measures to halt the poaching of these endangered animals, including harsher penalties, police and military involvement and a well-run judicial system to deal with the offense. Kunwar explains:

“The Nepal army plays a key role in anti-poaching, normally one battalion of army [soldiers] is deployed in Chitwan National Park. That’s 1,100 men and more are added according to need. There has been 24/7 patrolling going that has resulted into this success.”

Featured image by by Diganta Talukdar / CC BY 2.0

The Two Moves Australia Took to Help Koalas and Tasmanian Devils

Two Australian icons got a helping hand this year from their home country. The koala and the Tasmanian devil each received support from Australia when it declared the status of all koalas as “vulnerable” and promoted the Tasmanian devil to an emblem for the state.

First, Queensland’s premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that all koalas in the state, not just the ones in the southeast region, would be listed as vulnerable. Several factors have affected the welfare of koalas and led to this status update, including car accidents, dog attacks and other results of urbanization.

The new listing will align the state government’s position on koalas with that of the federal government. State agencies will work with local councils to make sure koala populations are tracked and factored into future development. It also may be necessary to plant new habitats for koalas to offset an impact that development has on the species.

It’s unclear how many koalas are in Queensland, but an audit from between 2007 and 2011 put koala losses at 16,000. Queensland’s environment minister Steven Miles said:

“It’s bad news because it means the koala population is not as strong outside of southeast Queensland as we thought. But it’s good news because it means the government and local councils will do more to protect [them].”

Photo by Ross Huggett / CC BY 2.0
Photo by Ross Huggett / CC BY 2.0

Further south, the Tasmanian devil has been chosen as the first animal emblem ever in Tasmania. The species was chosen because it is recognized around the world as uniquely Tasmanian. Moreover, Tasmania hopes that choosing the devil as its emblem will raise awareness about the species and devil facial tumour disease, an aggressive non-viral transmissible parasitic cancer among devils.

Featured image by Nicki Mannix / CC BY 2.0

Coyote Hunting For Breakfast

Photo by Katie Theule, USFWS Mountain-Prairie / CC BY 2.0

Coyote Hunting For Breakfast

Glowing Eyes of a Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, PA

Photo by Susan Rachlin/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region / CC BY 2.0

owel eyes

Zambia is Taking Away Its Ban on Hunting Lions and Leopards

It’s the lives of lions and leopards versus the livelihoods of local people.

This May, Zambia lifted its 2013 ban on hunting big cats because it was affecting wildlife resources and the lives of people, especially in the game management field. Profits from hunting these animals are expected to benefit both.

The ban was imposed in January 2013 to help declining lion populations caused by hunting, over-harvesting and habitat loss. Then, the population was estimated to be between 2,500 and 4,700, and both lions and leopards were facing their biggest threat since the 1980s. President of Green party of Zambia Peter Sinkamba told the Lusaka Times:

“We all know that the number of lions and other big cat species in Zambia’s major parks is depleted and limited due to poaching and other anthropogenic activities…Much as we are aware that the PF [Patriotic Front] government is facing serious budget deficit challenges, it is extremely outrageous to resort to unleashing safari hunters on to limited populations of big cat species, regardless of the fact that safari hunting is allegedly most profitable. This type of approach is definitely awful. Posterity will judge our generation harshly for having been responsible for depletions of rhinos, black lechwes and other species.”

Photo by Abir Anwar / CC BY 2.0
Photo by Abir Anwar / CC BY 2.0

In lieu of the ban, Zambia will adopt similar regulatory methods to those currently used in other countries like Tanzania, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Leopard hunting resumes this year, in the 2015-16 season, while lion hunting cannot resume until 2016-17 – and both with very cautionary quotas, according to Tourism and arts minister Jean Kapata.

After visiting Zambia’s largest national park, American ambassador to Zambia Eric Schultz called for protection of wildlife:

“Zambia has the chance to benefit from wildlife tourism for generations to come if conservation efforts are successful. The poaching crisis in southern Africa is a growing international concern.”

Featured image by Tambako The Jaguar / CC BY-ND 2.0

It’s Been 25 Years But Black Rhinos are Back in Tribal Africa

Thanks to relocation efforts by conservationists and the local community, black rhinos are back in Kenya.

In the 1960s, black rhinos once numbered 70,000 but now, there are only between 4,000 to 5,000 left in the world. Ince a common sight in Kenya, the black rhino population was decimated by poachers who killed the last of them 25 years ago.

Now, a small population is being reestablished in Kenya from existing herds in Lewa, Nakuru, and Nairobi National Parks. 20 rhinos have been shipped to and released into the new Sera Community Conservancy in the territory of the Samburu people in northern Kenya, with the hope that the animals will reproduce and spread out throughout the land.

The rhinos’ new home is owned and operated by local Samburu people and the park’s community rangers will watch over the animals to ward off poachers. They will receive support from the project’s other partners, which include the governmental organization Kenya Wildlife Service and the nonprofits Northern Rangelands Trust and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.

Northern Rangelands Trust writes:

“This will be the first time in East Africa a local community will be responsible for the protection and management of the highly threatened black rhino, signaling a mind shift in Kenya’s conservation efforts.”

Photo by Kate / CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo by Kate / CC BY-SA 2.0

Featured image by Gerry Zambonini / CC BY-SA 2.0