Friday, July 29, 2016

MANY THANKS TO THOSE WHO HAD THE COURAGE TO CARE ON ‪#‎InternationalTigerDay‬ ‪#‎GlobalTigerDay‬

Thanks to those who took the time to read the previous posts (here and at Facebook) today on tiger farming. A big thanks to the team at EIA for coordinating the gang of 45 to speak out on this. It's another step. We all keep going.
In Nepal the world tiger often refers to any of the wild cat species including of course leopard and snow leopard. In many ways that is really appropriate because the plight of the tiger is the plight of many species. It's a complex problem. The issues of livelihood, poverty, education, politics, ego and the very big one of corruption add to the overall problem. I have to admit there are days waking up I shudder at the scale of the problem but it never takes long to remember that all effort is worth it.
Apathy and denial are also major issues. And another one, misunderstanding. This one worries me. When I hear and see some of the anti-human sentiment out there I realize a lot is going wrong with our perceptions. There is this belief that because of our population numbers we are not in danger. Nothing could be further from the truth, we lose the "tiger" and we are in big, big trouble, it is another sign our ecosystems are failing and we are failing our ecosystems.
The people who live among big cats play the most vital role. I'll blog again in a week or so re my own work in trying to mitigate human - leopard conflict, an issue that is creating tragic consequences and once again, is misunderstood by the wider public.
A lot to do, once again I thank those who have the courage to care... there is hope if we keep going.


‪#‎CloseTigerFarms‬ - COALITION OF THE WILLING AGAINST TIGER FARMING - WildTiger is a sign on among the 45 organizations and fully supports the following statement:
On Global Tiger Day this year, 45 NGOs are raising the alarm of increasing tiger poaching and call for ending all tiger farming and tiger trade.
July 29, 2016 - Today on International Tiger Day we the undersigned 45 non-governmental organisations are urging countries with tiger farms to adopt urgent action to end tiger breeding for commercial purposes and phase out tiger farms.
The global wild tiger population is estimated to be less than 4,000. These last remaining wild tigers are each threatened by trade for nearly all of their body parts – from skins and bones to teeth and claws – traded by criminals for huge profit. These products are consumed largely as exotic luxury products for demonstrating social status, such as tiger skin rugs for luxury home d├ęcor or expensive tiger bone wine.
Tiger bone is also consumed as traditional medicine. The main market for tiger products are consumers in China and Vietnam, followed by smaller consumer markets in Myanmar and Laos.
There are currently two primary sources for trade in tiger parts and products: wild tigers in ten range countries that are home to the last remaining wild tigers, and captive tigers largely found in four tiger
farming countries - China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
Tiger farming and trade in captive tiger body parts from and through these countries undermines tiger conservation efforts across Asia. Indeed trade in captive tiger parts and products stimulates demand for tiger products – be it from wild or captive tigers – and undermines enforcement efforts by making it difficult to know whether seized tiger products come from wild or captive tigers.
Tiger farms have expanded rapidly over the last few decades. In the four tiger farming countries alone there are approximately 7,000 – 8,000 captive tigers in large tiger farms, zoos and smaller
facilities that keep or breed tigers.
The wild tiger population has declined by over 95 percent over the last 100 years. 2016 has also marked a significant upsurge in tiger poaching and trade where in India more tigers were killed
in the first five months of 2016 that in the whole of 2015.
The tiger range countries where tiger populations are beginning to show signs of recovery have high levels of political commitment, strong laws and enforcement – and no tiger farms. Where tiger farms are present they only serve as an obstacle to recovery. In recent years China and Thailand have both delivered important new tiger conservation efforts on the ground. Despite this investment, the effects of tiger farms limit the potential gains from such work, as well as damaging those countries’ reputation in the area of species conservation.
We commend the recent bold enforcement efforts of Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), which in June 2016 seized 137 live tigers thousands of tiger skin amulets, 70 preserved cubs and other tiger parts from the “Tiger Temple” in Kanchanaburi Province.
The DNP has announced that it will investigate other captive tiger facilities implicated in tiger trade. This represents a significant opportunity for Thailand to end all tiger farming within its borders and to play a leadership role in the phase-out of tiger farms in the region.
Other countries should also take action to ensure that they are not implicated in the trade in captive tiger parts and products. For example, there appears to be a growing trade in tigers and their parts and products from South Africa. The United States also has a large number of captive tigers which may too become vulnerable to exploitation for illegal trade.
The world needs to wake up to the alarm bells ringing across the tiger’s range. It is clear that tiger farming and trade in captive tiger parts have done nothing to end the pressure on and trade in wild tigers. In September this year, world governments will come together in South Africa to participate in the 17th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The CITES conference offers a significant opportunity for governments to adopt and call for urgent implementation of concrete measures to phase out tiger farms.
If wild tiger populations are to be recovered and secured, the international community must provide support to end tiger farming and all trade in tiger parts and products from wild and
captive tigers. We the undersigned, including those with technical expertise in managing captive tigers, stand ready to provide assistance to achieve the goals of Zero Demand for tiger parts and products and Zero Poaching of tigers.
1. Esther Conway, Manager, 21ST CENTURY TIGER
2. Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, Ph.D., Secretary General and CEO, AARANYAK
3. Toby Zhang, Executive Secretary-General, AITA FOUNDATION
5. Jill Robinson MBE, Dr. med vet hc, Hon LLD, Founder & CEO, ANIMALS ASIA FOUNDATION
6. Susan Millward, Executive Director, ANIMAL WELFARE INSTITUTE
7. Rhishja Cota-Larson, President, ANNAMITICUS
8. Kris Vehrs, Interim President and CEO, ASSOCIATION OF ZOOS AND AQUARIUMS
9. Dr. R.S. Chundawat, President, BAAVAN - BAGH AAP AUR VAN
10. Carole Baskin, CEO and Founder, BIG CAT RESCUE
11. Will Travers OBE, President & CEO, BORN FREE FOUNDATION
12. Adam Roberts, CEO, BORN FREE USA
13. Sybelle Foxcroft, Director, CEE4LIFE
15. Dung Nguyen, Vice Director, EDUCATION FOR NATURE – VIETNAM (ENV)
17. Debbie Banks, Campaign Leader, Tiger and Wildlife Crime, ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTIGATION AGENCY (EIA)
18. Ioana Dungler, Director of Wild Animals, FOUR PAWS INTERNATIONAL
19. Sulma Warne, Deputy Director, FREELAND FOUNDATION
20. Teresa M. Telecky, Ph.D., Director, Wildlife Department, HUMANE SOCIETY INTERNATIONAL
21. Nicole Paquette, Vice President, Wildlife, HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES
22. Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia Regional Director, INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR ANIMAL WELFARE
23. Kumi Togawa, President, JAPAN TIGER AND ELEPHANT FUND
24. Prof. Nishikant Kale, President, NATURE CONSERVATION SOCIETY
25. Christoph Schmidt, Ph.D., Chair of the Board, PRO WILDLIFE
26. Sergei Bereznuk, Director, PHOENIX FUND
28. Bittu Sahgal, Founder – Editor, SANCTUARY ASIA
29. Simon Clinton, Founder & CEO, SAVE WILD TIGERS
30. Kedar Gore, Director, THE CORBETT FOUNDATION
31. Brian K. Weirum, Chairman, THE FUND FOR THE TIGER
32. Phil Davis, Founder, TIGER AWARENESS
33. Vicky Flynn, Manager, TIGERTIME CAMPAIGN
34. Julian Matthews, Chairman, TOFTIGERS
37. Belinda Wright, OBE, Executive Director, WILDLIFE PROTECTION SOCIETY OF INDIA (WPSI)
38. Biswajit Mohanty, Ph.D., Secretary, WILDLIFE SOCIETY OF ORISSA
39. Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder and Chairman, WILDLIFE SOS
40. Dr. Md. Anwarul Islam, CEO, WILDTEAM
42. Georgina Allen, Director, WILD WELFARE
43. Lena Aahlby, Interim Global Director of Programmes, WORLD ANIMAL PROTECTION
44. Michael Baltzer, Leader, WWF TIGERS ALIVE INITIATIVE
45. Jonathan Baillie, Director of Conservation Programmes, ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF LONDON (ZSL)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

QUICK POST - "Yes I hunt wildlife, give me an alternative..."

These posts (and other updates) are at Facebook if you wish to comment.

On mountain trails you come across people doing it hell tough. Check their footwear and also have a hard think why some of these people hunt wildlife... to supplement their diet or maybe to make a few rupees to help in a tough life.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The difference between most poachers and these two bastards...

This image popped up on the WildTiger twitter feed again this morning after a friend had retweeted a reference by The Guardian to their original story.  For those who don't know these are the sons of Donald Trump with a leopard they had killed in a trophy hunt.

I'm not going to write as such about this family.  I have no time for bigots and most days I feel sickened by the anti-this, anti-that, racist, misogynistic rants that clatter the news waves.  To me this divisive behaviour, everyone blaming each other, is why we still have to face images like the one here anyway, it's a symptom of our own mismanagement.  And it actually plays into the hands of groups like ISIS anyway plus other real enemies we should be uniting to combat instead of this pathetic, fearful bigotry.  Put it this way, I would never hire any of these weak people for a serious jungle or mountain wildlife expedition.

Another issue this brings up is the perception of poachers as well as the dynamics of illegal wildlife trade.  This is getting tiring, I see ill informed comment everywhere regarding this stuff.  I don't have time right now (but believe me it's going to be a hard hit when it comes) to really go into it although I have touched on it several times before.  These issues are HUMAN issues.  It's a cop out to simply start raging "China this" or "Vietnam that" or whatever.  Poverty and rampant corruption are everywhere... and the two are intertwined.

Developing (and also the even lower catergory of "least developed") countries, yes, they are places where poaching is rampant.  However the destination nations for wildlife parts (remember, China is the ONLY country ahead of the USA in this regard) very much has a first world mix.  Keyboard warriors the world over are bloody quick to fire shots at distant shores while being blind to their own backyards.

I can tell you categorically because I've spent a lot of time with ground level poachers that if they had the resources that the two bastards in the image had they would not have to even consider poaching as a livelihood.  They'd be unlikely to kill anything.  Yes, there are serious market drivers for different elements of wildlife crime, and certainly big cats to China is a massive problem.  But wildlife crime is everywhere.  It's part of an overall problem of environmental crime.  It's global and needs a holistic approach.

There's too much hypocrisy.  This is as a big a problem as bigotry.  The only answer is to unite and address the real issues instead of constantly hiding behind the blame game.  That's weak... as weak as the two bastards in the image.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Saving lives - people, livestock, leopards...

This blog is also posted at Facebook (along with other updates) if you wish to comment.

The whole issue around human - leopard conflict has become about saving lives - of people, livestock and the leopards themselves. Poverty and wildlife crime are key factors in the mix. I've been banging on for a while now about how serious this issue is and continued research is pointing to it getting worse. Mitigation strategies are being implemented but there is a lot more to be done. I'll have news soon on technology and DNA profiling helping solve problems but we're in a real battle with it here in South Asia.
The link below gives an example of the problem:

Leopards now attacking humans in their houses

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Better protection for the leopard? Looking truth in the eye...

Just a quick post as there's a lot going on.  A meeting with some of the team from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) and Pragati's ongoing meetings with government officials confirmed that increased protection status for the leopard here in Nepal is in the mix among proposed changes to the Wildlife Act.  At the moment current penalties for the killing of leopards and the trading of body parts are only smacks with a wet blanket compared to sentences involving species such as tiger and rhino.  With the value of leopard skins seemingly on the increase on the black market the threat to these big cats only gets greater and my own research continues with regard as to how much leopards are being targeted by organized crime groups as against opportunistic hunting.

Recent statements as reported by a national daily quoting a WWF spokesman about tiger poaching here conflict with DNA sample testing proving that yes, Nepal's tigers have been killed in disturbing numbers.  It is still to be ascertained if the spokesman was misquoted in his claim that there has been no successful poaching of tigers in recent times.  Everyone at ground level knows the truth and a piece by Pragati for the Kathmandu Post a couple months ago gave accuracy.  Law enforcement members as well as the geneticists involved in the profiling are not happy about the recent claim, it demeans efforts to fight wildlife crime, it distorts truth.  The other disturbing aspect of this is just how many individuals and groups in social media jump on these stories without doing any research.  The copy and paste brigade simply make the situation worse, they spread mistruth.  The topic that large elements of social media are destroying the truth is one of great concern for investigative journalists and professional researchers.

A good bit of truth I can report is from Asis who has told me of feeback from the team that the two leopards currently in the rewilding program are doing well.  We're keeping a lid on information obviously because of security reasons and once again because things can get out of hand with ill informed comment in social media.  As I've mentioned before there will be more detailed progress reports in the future, when appropriate.

Information is still being sought on the government decision to gift two pairs of rhino to China.  As I've commented earlier the dust needs to settle on this one, the facts need to be ascertained and the situation handled with professionalism.  Pointless petitions and outrage culture driven bullshit are not the way to go.  This is a sensitive matter which needs clarity and intellectual discussion.

Looking truth in the eye is becoming more complicated because of the games people play with regard to politics, ego and personal agendas.  Genuine research and action is about seeing through those veils...

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Quick update re rhino situation... balance needed...

QUICK UPDATE RE RHINO SITUATION (see previous post)... A lot of information is coming to hand and as I mentioned in a comment the dust needs to settle. I'll blog when appropriate.
PLEASE NOTE: This is not just a NEPAL problem or a CHINA problem, this is a HUMAN problem. There are atrocities everywhere in our world and the marginalized, be it people or wildlife are invariably the victims. Name calling will not be tolerated on my comment threads, a moderator or myself will delete out of hand comments. In the light of the Chilcot report and many other issues of late EVERYONE has to examine their own backyard. Hypocrites will not be tolerated.

It's 2016 and disappointing news today that four wild rhino are going to captivity...

Serious ‪#‎wildlife‬ issues in every nation. Carry on killing wildlife and cutting down trees and we'll all die anyway. I'm not sure if it's apathy or ignorance anymore, maybe a deadly cocktail with those two main ingredients. I like wildlife. A lot. But this is about the understanding of how vital wildlife is, how much we need wildlife to sustain the planet. And I believe conservation strategy has to consider the ethical treatment of non-human sentient beings, that is wildlife. It's 2016 ... unnecessary captivity, over intrusive science and tourism plus of course the absolute nightmare that is trophy hunting... 2016 and these are major issues. Apathy? Ignorance? Both?  I'll add in one more, the saddest one of all... our loss of connection to nature

I posted this on Facebook today, you can comment there if you like.  It was largely in response to the very disappointing news that Nepal is gifting four wild rhino to China where they will end up in a zoo. The article is at Facebook underneath this post.

We're getting more details.  I blog again tomorrow.  Thanks to those who care.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Writing the cheque without squeezing the trigger...

This is just a quick post as a couple of hours ago I was asked if there were any circumstances I would endorse trophy hunting. The answer is an emphatic NO. Anyone who supports WildTiger in any way needs to know that, this organization will not change its stance on that. There are of course huge orgs who have a different stance, I'll let you use google on that one but I challenge that their policy makers have never looked a wild animal in the eye with regard to their status and right as a sentient being. Redistribution and repopulating are two obvious answers and alternatives to KILLING FOR CASH. Those people who say they are contributing to conservation by trophy hunting need to understand they can write the cheque without squeezing the trigger...

This blog (and other updates) is also at Facebook if you wish to comment.

A place of peace in a world of madness...

It was good to spend some time at Boudhanath today. I took the image with a wide angle lens (10mm) so it doesn't give the grand scale of the stupa but it does show some of the busy reconstruction after the earthquakes. I've had to be in the area several times in the last few months, it's been fascinating to see this important Buddhist site come back to life, a lot of that due to great effort by the community.
We were having a good meeting, enjoying the feeling of being there, when the news of today's suicide bombing in Baghdad came through. It wasn't congruent with our surroundings. I sit here writing while thinking about the madness we are bringing on ourselves, our treatment of each other and of wildlife, animals. The dishonesty, violence and manipulations leading to such divisive thinking in elections, in every day life. As a conservationist I pray for unity, it's the only answer, as a realist all I see is individuals looking out for themselves. I thank the good people in my life who know there is a better way. We have to keep fighting for that ideal... and places of peace, whether it be in the mountains, in the forest, or next to a stupa...

Now blogging at - thanks for your support!

Many thanks to those who have been following this blog as well as prior to that The Asa Diaries and TigerTrek.  I'm now blogging a...