Tag Archives: China

3 Big wins for Wildlife Conservation in 2015

A lot is going wrong in the world of conservation, from the poaching crisis and wildlife trade to deforestation and illegal logging, and beyond. Still, we did see some major victories for animals last year. Here are 3 big wins for wildlife in 2015:

1. Elephants
In May, Nepal released numbers that showed the numbers of their endangered one-horned rhinos were up to 675 – a whopping 300 more animals than a decade ago. In August, Thailand destroyed its ivory to join in the fight against poaching elephants and the wildlife trade. And in September, the two largest markets for elephant ivory, U.S. and China, agreed to enact a complete ban on ivory trade.

Chief executive of the Wildlife Conservation Society Cristián Samper told TakePart:

“Two of the most powerful heads of state want an end to all ivory trade. That’s only good news for elephants, and we call upon all governments to follow suit. Once both nations definitively take this action, ivory trafficking will begin to fall, and the number of elephants could rise again.”

 

Image by Lucy Rickards / CC BY 2.0
Image by Lucy Rickards / CC BY 2.0

2. Oceans
A lot happened for for oceans in 2015: in July, the Philippines created its first sanctuary for the declining shark and ray populations. In September, New Zealand banned fishing, oil exploration, mining and other human disturbances in an area of ocean twice the size of the country itself. And in November, the U.S. and Cuba agreed to protect coral reefs and marine wildlife in the 90-miles of ocean between the two countries.

 

Image by Pius Mahimbi / CC BY-SA 2.0
Image by Pius Mahimbi / CC BY-SA 2.0

3. Lions
In 2015, we witnessed the tragic killing of Cecil the lion. But that catapulted the poaching issue, and the search for solutions, into the public eye. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to give the African lion endangered species protections. In addition, 45 commercial airlines banned the transportation of hunting trophies from lions, elephants and rhinos in 2015.

 
 
Featured image by Stuart Orford
/ CC BY-SA 2.0

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Illegal Logging is Destroying Panda Habitats in China

3,200 acres of Giant Panda habitat has been destroyed by loggers.

The logging is occurring illegally in the Sichuan Sanctuaries, a string of protected forest in the highlands of south-central China. Despite the government’s efforts to halt the practice, there are weak forestry regulations that allow the forest to be exploited for profit.

Greenpeace’s report on the issue states:

“Large areas of primary natural forest are a basic condition for the survival and reproduction of giant pandas in the wild. Deforestation further reduces and fragments the already limited natural habitat of the species, and is a direct threat to their feeding and migration zone. It increases the risk that their small and dispersed populations become increasingly cut off, limiting their chances to make contact with each other and reproduce.”

Less than 1,900 pandas still exist in the wild, most residing in the Sichuan province. And although the population has rebounded since 2003, the species is still considered at high risk. Habitat loss from illegal logging only puts them in more jeopardy.

 
 
Featured image by Bronwyn D / CC BY 2.0

World’s Most Endangered Big Cat May Be Coming Back From the Brink of Extinction

In 2007, the Amur leopard population dropped to just 40 adults – a dangerously low number that indicated they were on the edge of extinction.

But according to a 2014 census, the population appears to have doubled as 80 or more leopards were counted, with some even repopulating part of its historic range in China. The census was conducted over two years by federal nature reserve Land of the Leopard National Park, located on Russia’s far southeastern border shared with China. Using cameras, researchers were able to analyze and identify individual leopards.

Photo by flickrfavorites / CC BY 2.0
Photo by flickrfavorites / CC BY 2.0

The Amur leopard is a subspecies of the well-known leopard of the African savannas, who is adapted to a cold and snowy climate. It was once native to a wide range of eastern China, eastern Russia and the Korean Peninsula.

But poaching and habitat loss have drastically decreased the species’ numbers in the 20th century. By 1996, the IUCN Red List declared the Amur leopard critically endangered, as they were extinct from the Koreas, functionally extinct in China and existed in only small numbers Russia.

But this recent rise in the leopard’s numbers is a testament to Russia’s commitment over the last few years to saving the animal from extinction. In 2012, the Russian government created the Land of the Leopard National Park by combining three other smaller protected areas with a nearby unprotected land. It’s 1,011 square miles of forest habitat for Amur leopards and Siberian tigers, along with the deer and boar they prey on. Russia has also strengthened penalties for poaching.

Wildlife biologist collaborating with Russian scientists and conservationists in the region Jonathan Slaght says:

“There could in fact be 80, but more likely the number is a little bit less,” he said, because some leopards are likely to be moving between Russia and China and encountering the networks of camera traps on both sides of the border. What needs to happen, to evaluate that number of 80, is to join the Chinese data to the Russian data. It’s looking like both sides are willing to do one of these unified database analyses.”

Featured image by Tim Strater / CC BY-SA 2.0

U.S. and China Team Up to Fight Illegal Wildlife Trade With a Ban on Ivory

The two largest markets for ivory are working together to put an end to its illegal trade. The U.S. and China have agreed to enact almost a complete ban on the import and export of ivory to help minimize elephant poaching.

The ban covers “significant and timely restrictions on the import of ivory as hunting trophies” and unspecified “significant and timely steps to halt the domestic commercial trade of ivory.” It follows China’s decision in May to phase out the legal, domestic manufacture and sale of ivory products.

Photo by Ben Haeringer / CC BY-ND 2.0
Photo by Ben Haeringer / CC BY-ND 2.0

China is the largest market for poached ivory and the U.S. is estimated to be the second largest. Slashing the supply of ivory to the Chinese market is critical to decreasing the number of African elephant deaths due to poaching.

According to a March 2015 survey by WildAid, African Wildlife Foundation and Save The Elephants, support for this ivory trade ban is high. 95% of people surveyed in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou believed the government should impose the ivory ban. In addition, the survey showed that awareness about ivory poaching increased by 50% since 2012.

The White House said that the U.S. and China would cooperate with other nations in a complete effort to fight the wildlife trade.

 
 
Featured image by Diana Robinson / CC BY-ND 2.0

A Green Venomous Vogel’s Pit Viper

Photo By tontantravel / CC BY-SA 2.0

A Green Venomous Vogel's Pit Viper