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Beauty in the Beast - The Humpback Whale

November 24th, 2012

Beauty in the Beast - The Humpback Whale

Growth does not have to come at the expense of the environment and its inhabitants. In fact, nature's forms inspire new technology, spark new economies, and we have only just begun to account for the importance biodiversity plays in maintaining the health of the ecosystems which support us. Each month we highlight one organism's contribution to the ecosystems. By understanding the impact that just one organism has on these natural processes, we hope can help you understand that no organism is dispensable in this delicate and precarious biosphere we all share.

Beauty In The Beast

The Humpback Whale's scientific name means big-winged New Englander. And fly they do, breaching into our world in spectacular fashion. They are very much like us, possessing the same types of neuron cells. Every year male humpback whales compose a complex, thirty minute song, the theme of which varies from year to year. But in many ways whales are better. Their hearing is twenty times as sensitive as ours.

In life and death, whales serve a tremendous role in supporting the ecosystems of the ocean. In places where they have disappeared from the oceans, killer whales have been forced to find alternate food sources, resulting in a vast decline in the number of sea lions, sea otters and seals. A single whale carcass supports small cities of scavenger species on the sea floor, sometimes for up to a year. The offal (entrails and internal organs) are particularly important to algae and phytoplankton growth.

The research of conservation biologist Joe Roman has shown that by "diving for energy-rich crustaceans, then rising from the depths to breathe...transfer thousands so tons of nitrogen to the surface (through their feces) in areas where they feed: they are, in a sense, fertilizing their own garden, bringing more nitrogen into the gulf (of Maine) than all the rivers in the region combined."[i]

Causes for Concern

It's estimated that hunting decimated 90% of the population of humpback whales until the public took notice. While populations have rebounded, whales and other predators are still hunted by Japanese whaling boats as the government views them as competition for fisheries.

Seismic mapping, sonar, and shipping traffic may be confusing the sensitive hearing capabilities of whales, and hindering their ability to communicate. To compensate, they have increased the duration of their calls.

Humpback whales feed on swarms of krill. But pollution in the ocean destroys the plankton on which the krill feed. The unsustainable waste outputs of our consumption patterns have found their way into not just the ocean, as revealed in its rising temperatures, acidity, and visible trash heaps, but also in whale bodies themselves. Ingestion of plastic is an increasing cause of death for many marine creatures, including whales.

PCBs (chemicals in industrial process and electrical transformers) and DDT (synthetic pesticides) build up in such high concentrations that in some instances the bodies of dead bodies are considered hazardous waste, such as with Belugas in the St. Lawrence River in Quebec.

Collisions with ships are also still a threat. The initiative of whale biologist Dave Wiley to bring his data directly to the shipping companies resulted in a successful agreement to shift shipping routes as they approach Boston Harbor.

Ways You Can Help

Show your support for organizations such as "The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society", who is on the front lines to protect such whales as the blue whale from commercial fishing, and hopefully shift sentiment in cultures that consume these animals at unsustainable rates. Other organizations to look into are "Save the Whales" or the "Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society".

If you enjoy fishing, never dispose of used fishing lines and hooks in the water, as this can entangle and kill marine life.

At home, reducing your use of plastic of all kinds would be a good start. Opt instead for materials that are more readily biodegradable.

Even proper maintenance of your car is another way to prevent dissemination of hazardous waste, and leaks that can cause water pollution. Paints, pesticides, and antifreeze should be brought to hazardous waste sites if they must be used.

Photography Prints

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[i] Roman, Joe, "Why Whales? On learning from nature and the Endangered Species Act", Harvard Magazine, May-June 2011

Wildlife Journal - Nadezhda the Amur Leopard

November 24th, 2012

Wildlife Journal - Nadezhda the Amur Leopard

This is the journal of Nadezhda the Amur Leopard. Follow along as she reveals her journey…

“It’s been three months since I saw him last. It was a fleeting romance. It took long enough for him to find me, but he finally did, and now I’ve given birth to two cubs. One is unresponsive. I prod him for a response, but get nothing. I focus my attention on my surviving son, who will remain at my side for the next two years, if all goes well. To survive here, he will need all the training I have to offer.

When he prematurely stumbles toward outside the den, I pick him up to move him, but he fights back, squirming his way out of my mouth. I hold him a bit tighter, making sure he understands who I am, and then lick him once he concedes. At this point his feeble voice only serves to give away his position. With time, he will undoubtedly become less awkward…”

Nadezhda’s Ecological Impact: As with other leopards, Nadezhda plays a vital role in the ecosystem. She consumes silka, musk, and roe deer, as well as wild boar, badger, and hares. This keeps populations in check and prevents over consumption of the vegetation. As with other predators, she helps with natural selection by killing the animals with genetic defects, preventing them from passing their genes along.

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A New Kind of Progress

November 24th, 2012

A New Kind of Progress

We can reconstruct the corporate policies and practices of our work environment, but we can’t reconstruct the natural environment that supports us.

Influencing your corporate environment is a terrific way to protect the environment and our fellow inhabitants. For companies thirsty for innovation, sustainability initiatives can refocus the workforce and improve profitability.

Demand for complete supply chain data is increasingly valued. Whether you are a manufacturer, or directly serve the end consumer, the value placed on understanding how and where the product was constructed and the materials that were used is growing. Better understanding your process and its environmental impact can help your company identify areas for improvement.

This improvement translates to not just a mitigated environmental impact but also greater efficiencies and profit, particularly if a company is willing to invest in new, more environmentally friendly technology, appreciating the long-term gains that come with it.

Short term gains in efficiency can pay for larger measures, but new and innovative thinking can lead to products that feed into growing demand for green products. You will be responsible for new revenue generation. Immediate savings generated from more efficient lighting, for example, can be plowed back into solar and wind power generation, or advanced water treatment systems. Small initial wins can lead to ever increasing savings. Ultimately, more disruptive changes can be a terrific way to galvanize the company. In turn, greater degrees of leadership are afforded, and the virtuous cycle of education and innovation can find momentum.

When GE first attempted to base emissions on the Kyoto Protocol, they “went from spending 100MM to saving 100MM”, as Jeffrey Immelt expressed relayed to us at the Net Impact Conference last year.[i]

Companies can also bring in diverse sets of viewpoints, which will spark ingenuity. This not only helps companies to properly implement sustainability initiatives but also to broaden their consideration of approaches, techniques, products, and services that can improve profitability.

Companies can also frame environmental metrics in fun ways and create competitions to see what individuals or groups can improve their environmental impact the most, whether it be carbon footprint or water use.

Companies can create a separate fund completely devoted to sustainability initiatives. Where employees might previously have been discouraged to bring innovative ideas to the table due to cost concerns impacting their own team’s profit & loss performance, they now are excited to have avenues for their potentially very yield accretive ideas, regardless of how long term in nature they might be.

[i] Immelt, Jeffrey, CEO, General Electric, Panel Discussion at Net Impact Conference, November 2009.


Beauty in the Beast - The White Rhinoceros

November 24th, 2012

Beauty in the Beast - The White Rhinoceros

It is amazing that something so large can have such a profound impact on the smaller world around it, some of which is too small for us to see.

At up to 7,000 pounds, the White Rhinoceros helps shape grasslands by grazing through the plants they choose to eat. They adjust their eating habits according to the chemical changes within the plants, which in turn vary according to the rainy and dry seasons. As a result, these herbivores increase the diversity of plant life. Rhinoceros pave the way through dense brush for other animals and open up areas for different kinds of plants to grow. Their manure enriches the soil, germinates seeds, and supports insect and invertebrate communities. Through their digging, they provide the necessary pools of water for frogs and insects to breed.

While their horns are compositionally the same as our fingernails, they are prized for their "medicinal" properties in places around the world. As a result, the Northern White Rhinoceros subspecies has been all but wiped out by poaching. Habitat loss from farming and settlements is another challenge facing the rhinoceros.

Recently, program restructuring has provided an incentive to local communities to value these animals staying alive. For example, in the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Reserve in South Africa, tourists pay a community levy that supports the local Zululand people. Local farmers now work in concert with the wildlife, which places less strain on the harvesting of natural grasses. It also encourages more sustainable farming of fruits and vegetables, which are sold to restaurants.

If you would like more information on what is being done to protect rhinoceros, visit the International Rhino Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conservation and research of the world's rhino species.

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Beauty in the Beast - The Desert Elephant

November 24th, 2012

Beauty in the Beast - The Desert Elephant

Elephants have a profound impact on the health of their surrounding environment, whether in the Mali Desert or as they once did in Nyungwe National Park. Their paths create natural firebreaks and water conduits, shaping the landscape and providing the necessary conditions for many plants and animals. In dry riverbeds, the water holes they dig provide water to other species. Their feces serve as a valuable nutrient source and seed disseminator. Through their fecal matter, elephants perform a role in the conversion of savannah and woodlands to grasslands, as seeds are carried through their fecal matter, which is carried underground by insects. The sheer size of the elephants disturbs the inhabitants of the ground, including amphibians, insects, and reptiles. This provides food for birds.

In Nyungwe National Park, a good example of the interdependency of organisms lies in the relationship between elephants and gorillas. The disappearance of elephants following the rise in poaching in the 1990s had a profoundly negative impact on the gorillas in the region. The reason for this was that the elephant would consume and trample the climbing vine, sericostachys scandens, preventing its overgrowth. In the absence of the elephants, the climbing vine was able to grow unabated, preventing the plants that the gorillas consume from growing. These areas are now unsuitable for the gorillas.

The lack of elephants has a cascading impact on the ecosystem. Without the elephant to consume and trample the climbing vine, there has been an absence of large ungulates such as giraffes (hoofed animals) as well as grazing animals which would normally prevent excessive ferns and grass from growing. In turn, this has hampered forest regeneration, as seed dispersal and germination is thwarted. By breaking trees apart, elephants provide food for termites, homes for ants, and resin for native bees, which play a vital role in pollination.

Shifting weather patterns as a result of global warming trends continues to threaten the desert elephants of the Mali desert. The migration of the desert elephant is intimately linked to the water cycle. If the range of the elephants shrinks, so too does the available foliage, as resources are used more intensely. Around the globe, since the 1970s, drought-stricken land area has more than doubled. To find water, these elephants migrate almost 300 miles per year, up to 35 miles a day. Their powerful memory allows them to locate places they haven’t been to in decades. Likewise for local people, traditional housing, which employed bush timber, is no longer possible as a result of deforestation and climate change. Competition for dwindling water resources poses a problem for all.

There are a number of ways you can help. Taking ownership can start at your own household level in the mitigation of your environmental impact, and extend all the way to more direct aid with such organizations as The Mali Elephant Project, which is dedicated to the protection of these elephants. This group has partnered with a Kenyan organization called Save the Elephants, as well as the Malian government to provide public outreach, political advocacy, and scientific research.

Art Prints

What Is In Your Bottled Water

November 24th, 2012

What Is In Your Bottled Water

The documentary Tapped examines the role of the bottled water industry and its effects on our health, climate change, pollution, and our reliance on oil.

Is bottled water "pure"?

As documented in the film, six different bottled waters were tested in two independent labs. They were also sent to Toxicology Inc., for an independent analysis. Among the contaminants found were Vinyl Chloride, Butadane, Benzyne, and Styrine. In off-the-shelf bottle samples, Toluene was found. Toluene is a constituent of gasoline, a neurotoxic agent, found in paint thinners, and linked to adverse reproductive outcomes. In bottle samples left in a car trunk of a car for one week, Styrene, a cancer causing agent was found. Styrene also causes adverse reproductive effects. In addition, three different types of Phthalates were found. Phthalates can cause dysfunction, particularly in the fetus, as well as adverse reproductive outcomes for both males and females.

How is this possible?

Bottled water companies are not required to disclose their findings of any contaminants in the water they sell you. They can get away with this because they largely produce and sell in state to avoid the interstate jurisdiction of the FDA.

In contrast, every city provides a public water quality report that you can access online. The EPA holds each municipality to a set of standards that must be met. Cities must test many times a day to ensure the quality of the water.

Plastic water jugs

You might also be surprised to know that plastic water jugs have been found to leach Bisphenal-A (BPA), one of the most potent chemicals known to man. BPA is linked to childhood diabetes, obesity, breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, brain disorders (attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity disorder), liver disease, ovarian disease, disease of the uterus, and low sperm count in men. The EPA has found that even low dose exposure can cause problems related to male reproductive development.

Since plastic bottles are so widely distributed, it's easy to assume that one person's choice to not consume water from a plastic bottle won't make a difference. But the aggregate of millions of educated consumers making these choices can make a big impact. Additionally, voicing your concerns to elected officials can make a difference.

New possibilities

New biodegradable plastic resins offer exciting possibilities for improvement in packaging. This corn-based plastic decomposes in 45 days, provided it has a composting environment that reaches 140 degrees for ten consecutive days. Clearly this is not your average back yard. That said, it takes up to two years to degrade with exposure to natural elements, a far cry from the 1000 years of conventional PET plastic.

Impact on Wildlife

Plastics are often found to be the cause of death for sea turtles and whales, for example. Teeny bits of plastic are mistaken for food and wreak havoc on the digestive system.

Sadly, plastic bags are also often mistaken for the seaweed and jellyfish that sea turtles consume. These petroleum based non biodegradable bags are as deadly to the turtle as they are ubiquitous in our daily lives. They are also increasingly found as the cause of death through blockage of the digestive system, cutting short the sometimes 80 year lives of these creatures.

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Wildlife Journal - Wyakin the Gray Wolf

November 24th, 2012

Wildlife Journal - Wyakin the Gray Wolf

This is the journal of Wyakin, the Gray Wolf. Follow along as he reveals his journey…

“The arrival of spring has brought great excitement to my pack. The pups have boundless energy. Not yet old enough to recognize the dangers of this world, they play without fear. The mule deer and elk fawns are aplenty this time of year, so hopefully we’ll find nourishment.

I’ve been remodeling our den. The winter was tough on it. It’s an old den, maybe hundreds of years old. I’m pretty sure it belonged to a bear prior to us. It’s no wonder it’s been around so long considering its elevation and proximity to water. This morning, I smelled a dead salmon along the river not far from our den. Easy finds are always helpful...”

Wyakin’s Ecological Impact: Wyakin helps control and maintain the elk population. During the winter, elk feed on seedlings and saplings of deciduous trees. By reducing the number of elk, more trees, such as the American Elm, can grow. This, in turn, creates more shade, which is required by the fish in the streams. More fish provides more food for beavers, which, in turn, provide the lush environments for ducks, frogs, turtles, insects, snakes and fish through their creation of dams. The branches and sticks brought in by beavers provide shelter, both above and below the water’s surface. Snakes and turtles can warm their coldblooded bodies in the sun, and fish can thrive in the deep and shallow pockets that have been created. Ducks and geese are provided the optimal environment to build nests and raise their young. And finally, since the deciduous American Elm is left to grow, all of the impacted organisms are able to contribute their vital roles to the maintenance of nitrogen cycle on which we depend.

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Interview with Carter Niemeyer, Author of Wolfer

May 23rd, 2011

Interview with Carter Niemeyer, Author of Wolfer

My wife Marinella and I are delighted that Carter Niemeyer, one of the original team members that captured wolves from Canada and reintroduced them to Yellowstone National Park, would interview with us. Carter understands the sensitivity of the wolf/human interest conflict as well as anyone. By voicing the truth as he saw it and remaining thorough as to the appraisal of whether a livestock death was the result of wolves, he put himself in very unpopular positions with both ranchers and trappers. And the very nature of his job called on him to take lethal action when necessary, making him unpopular with wolf activists. He may have lost some friends along the way, but he earned much respect, and built new relationships as well. Carter's strong sense of responsibility would make him the only individual trusted by the Defenders of Wildlife to properly assess a situation, and he revealed the unwarranted hysteria surrounding the wolf. His fascinating book, “Wolfer”, reveals these conflicts and more through his life’s journey from a young aspiring biologist to Animal Damage Control in Montana to Federal Wolf Recovery Coordinator in Ohio for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We will bring you the interview in two parts.

Interview:

Q: In your book “Wolfer”, you write, “the wolves changed me more than I changed them”. Please explain how the wolves changed you.

A: Prior to wolves coming into my life I was a seasoned predator trapper and familiar with livestock damage caused by various predators. The public didn't seem interested in Wildlife Services killing black bears, mountain lions, coyotes, foxes and other smaller carnivores. Wolves caused a public awakening and for the first time people reacted to the fact that predators, like wolves, were being killed by the government. Public awareness of predator control sensitized me to examine what I was doing as an individual and as a professional and I realized that wolves were getting the blame for a lot of problems and damage to livestock they didn't cause.

The fear and judgmental attitudes people had about wolves resulted in an awareness deep inside me that I would not be a part of the condemnation of wolves and gave me resolve to be honest, impartial and fair in my recommendations to deal with wolf problems, whether real or perceived. I felt a responsibility toward the livestock owners and wolf advocates to resolve contentious differences about what wolves were really about. It was a difficult task laced with high emotions on both sides which bought me no favors, cost me friendships and resulted in new relationships with people.

The end result is that I looked at my job and mission as a predator control specialist in a new light, more determined to be a better scientist, forensics expert, and educator about predator/livestock interactions and form a deeper appreciation for the predators that I had to kill. I was forced to look the public in the eye and justify my behavior which was something I had not been doing until I experienced the unwarranted fear and persecution of wolves. I could never do my job the same way again.

Q: You remark on how the ignorance of people about wolf behavior in some ways drove you to be on the wolf’s side. What are the first things people should understand about wolf behavior?

A: Wolves are a unique species like all other creatures on the earth. They are born, live and die and have behavior patterns that include close social bonds formed by living in packs, killing prey, providing nourishment for pups, howling to communicate, and defending large territories from encroachment by other wolves. These are the requirements for wolves to survive. Wolves are neither good nor bad. They fear and avoid humans due to centuries of persecution. As a predator, wolves kill prey like deer, elk, caribou and moose to eat. Killing prey is a natural instinct of all predators including wolves, just as killing other wolves is necessary to protect their food, space and young. Unfortunately, wolves are large competitors for the same wild and domestic prey base utilized by humans which includes livestock like sheep and cattle that have lost their ability to protect themselves from predator attack. The very fact that wolves kill to eat, live and survive has been misinterpreted by humans to be a behavioral trait to be hated, feared and reviled by many and symbolic of evil.

Q: Your book reveals the conflicted landscape of government and state agendas and what a monumental impact this can have on the future of certain species. It seems conservation initiatives are increasing in scope, but what direction do you see things heading in for the wolf, and wildlife in general?

A: Wildlife is a national treasure. All species have a unique relationship with their environment and interactions with plants and animals around them. Wolves are no exception. Human activities dominate the planet Earth and while wild nature is all around us to study, observe and enjoy, we tend to look at wildlife as tangible resources to be managed for economic benefits, encouraged where they fit into human systems, discouraged where they don't and removed where they cause problems with human commerce. Wildlife has to pay their way, mind its manners, or get out of the way of human development. Large carnivores, like wolves, require large tracts of land, rich in wild prey, free of domestic livestock, safe from human encroachment in an environment where people have an enlightened understanding that wolves have an essential place in nature where humans do not hate and fear them. How many places on earth fit that description?

Tune in next week for the second part of the interview.

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Interview with Carter Niemeyer Part 2

May 23rd, 2011

Interview with Carter Niemeyer Part 2

Q: The reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone has been one of the most well documented accounts of the positive impact that wolves have on an ecosystem. Has this had any impact on the viewpoints of both pro and anti wolf groups?

A: Pro wolf groups always had a vision of the positive affects wolves would bring to the landscape in Yellowstone. Wolves were perceived to be one of the top predators that would cull and shape ungulate (deer, elk, bison) herds into healthier populations by removing the sick, weak and aged elements of the herds, providing carrion for scavengers, redistributing herds over the landscape to diminish overgrazing and reduce unnaturally abundant numbers of deer, elk and bison. Tourists have had the added rewards of seeing wolves interacting with other wild species within the park and watching predator/prey relationships play out before their very eyes. The park has enjoyed millions of dollars in economic benefits by having wolves back. Anti-wolf groups have an innate fear of wolves as a danger to human welfare and as a competitor that will take away hunting opportunities for people who enjoy the surplus elk that seasonally migrated outside of the park to be shot during late season hunts. Wolf abundance in and around Yellowstone is perceived to be an economic hardship on guides, outfitters, hunters and livestock producers who occasionally lose livestock to wolves. Pro and anti wolf groups maintain their viewpoints but spend considerably more time trying to influence politicians to support their positions.

Q: To protect the interests of ranchers, “the government spends millions of dollars a year killing coyotes anyway because it’s what’s always been done. It’s still true today.” If the government did away with this, what would be the impact?

A: Since early settlement of the United States, government regulated predator control has been an integral component of the pioneer culture. Wild, native predators have been inclined to prey on domestic livestock especially when wild ungulate herds were exploited by commercial and unregulated hunting and reduced to such low numbers that domestic livestock were all that remained. The war on predators in the United States has persisted over the last one hundred years or more. The problem is that domestic livestock numbers, both sheep and cattle, have been in steady decline in recent decades due to a number of economic and management issues. Coyotes are the primary predator of domestic sheep and sometime will kill a few calves. Even though tens of thousands of coyotes have been killed annually to protect livestock, coyotes have spread over the entire lower 48 states. The results of killing coyotes to save livestock has been less than gratifying over the last century but none-the-less the taxpayers are expected to keep funding the effort in the face of declining livestock numbers, especially sheep.

Rather than attempting to kill coyotes through preventative measures using aerial hunting, traps, snares and toxicants, a more effective predator control program of dealing with specific, case by case, confirmed livestock losses to predators would be money better spent. Coyote control could be privatized, allowing for the free enterprise system to function, while species of special interest like black bears, grizzly bears, mountain lions and wolves could be managed by the individual states through regulated harvests and specific removals in the event of predation on domestic livestock.

Q: What is your view on the effectiveness of compensation given to ranchers for lost assets as a result of wolves? What is your view on the potential effectiveness of wolf-viewing areas?

A: Compensation payments for wolf predation on livestock began in 1987 in Montana by the Defenders of Wildlife to reduce the economic hardship on farmers and ranchers with confirmed losses due to wolves. The concept was good in that one portion of society who advocated for wolves would share the economic burden of loss with people who owned the livestock that were lost. The problem, in my opinion, is that compensation bought a degree of tolerance from some producers and not others. Eventually compensation was regarded with less enthusiasm by livestock producers as the wolf population grew and spread over the Northern Rockies, especially after reintroduction of wolves from Canada.

Eventually Defenders of Livestock reduced their involvement in compensation as the federal government started providing compensation dollars instead. Federal compensation for dead livestock has expanded to cover not only documented livestock kills by wolves but missing livestock which I think is a poor practice. Compensation should be paid only for documented losses and only for missing livestock where wolves are clearly shown to be the likely cause for the missing livestock. I see the tendency for fraud when compensation dollars are provided with little or no oversight and accountability.

If livestock losses result in heavy handed, government wolf killing programs, I’m not certain of what benefit compensation payments serve, especially in the case of missing livestock that could have been the result of theft, vandalism, poison plants, accidents, birthing problems, old age and other non-predator causes.

In principle, wolf viewing areas could be promoted in states with a viable wolf population. Wolf viewing has been very popular and an economic boon in Yellowstone National Park. I strongly suspect that wolf viewing will not be promoted by the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming except as an incidental opportunity for residents and tourists who know where to look for wolves. Once wolves are delisted in the individual western states, wolf hunting will be a guarantee during the fall and winter months. As one Idaho fish and game official told me, “during and after wolf hunting season, people can view wolves all they want.”

Q: There is a lot of will to protect endangered wildlife, particularly the wolf, but sometimes people are lost as to what exactly is the best course of action they can take. For those indirectly involved, what do you think is the best way to protect not just the wolf, but wildlife in general?

A: Wildlife can be protected in many ways. People can join wildlife advocacy groups that represent their views on wildlife management, protection, and political position. While some wildlife advocates do not support hunting or trapping, others do by joining groups like Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever or the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to encourage habitat acquisition and protection for the species they enjoy hunting or watching. Indirect ways of protecting wildlife are to reduce the opportunities for conflict with humans, like better methods of protecting livestock, wildlife corridors, and avoiding the habituation of animals to human inhabitation and dwellings by providing food and other incentives to hang around and cause problems.

Political activism is getting to be a major method of protecting wildlife. That means getting informed and educated about issues affecting wildlife and getting actively involved. Too many people send money to organizations that promote wildlife conservation but fail to write letters and show up at state and federal planning meetings that affect the short and long term management of many species. More and more, science is taking a back seat to political decisions that are driven by special interest groups that impact wildlife, often in detrimental ways. If you don’t like what is going on concerning wildlife management decisions in the United States today, get involved.

Art Prints

Thank you Carter for taking the time for this interview. Please read his book, “Wolfer", which recounts his amazing personal experiences while at the same time educating you on so many levels.
http://www.carterniemeyer.com/Wolfer/Carter_Niemeyer_-_Wolfer.html

Beauty in the Beast - The African Lion

May 11th, 2011

Beauty in the Beast - The African Lion

The king of the jungle could also be called the king of the food chain. African Lions play a vital role in controlling the distribution and abundance of species diversity, as well as the health of the populations by preying upon the sick and weak. They affect animals such as water buffalo, giraffes and zebra.

Sadly, however, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates that the African Lion population has declined 30% in the last two decades. Human population growth and development have lead to a loss of habitat, conflict over livestock, and habitat fragmentation. It is possible that the Northern Mara region will lose its biodiversity, including Lions, within the next 20 years if the region continues to be ploughed at its current rate. The plains game in the region has declined by some 80% since the early 1990s, and the number of lions has greatly suffered as a result.

As with all organisms, saving the African Lion is not just a matter of ethics but also of economics. When animals and plants disappear from a region, social and economic opportunities are lost. Ecotourism does help many parts of Africa. Ecotourism can help alleviate poverty, as jobs are created in the process of hosting visitors who are interested in observing and conserving the wildlife, which includes endangered animals such as the lion. If you would like more information on the efforts to protect the African Lion, Defenders of Wildlife and the African Wildlife Foundation are two organizations that offer means of donating money and time to the preservation of the African Lion.

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