Posts Tagged With: America
In a recent poll by the Center for Biological Diversity:
61 percent of Americans said they are concerned about the rate that wildlife are disappearing.
2 out of 3 Americans believe Congress should strengthen, or not make any changes to the Endangered Species Act.
Half of those polled think the country is doing too little to protect imperiled plants and animals, and that too many species are being pushed to the brink of extinction.
Much of this recent attitude has to be credited to President Obama’s executive order to combat wildlife trafficking.
Timeline in Rhino & Elephant Crisis Awareness in the US
- May 2013- Miss USA, South African born Nana Meriwether, advocates for the plight of the rhino.
- Jul 2013- President Obama announced the Executive Order to combat wildlife trafficking
- Sept 2013-March for Elephants released the Elephant in Times Square billboard, educating thousands of Americans on the poaching crisis.
- Sept 2013- Animal Planet’s Battleground Rhino Wars aired in the US, introducing many to the rhino poaching crisis for the first time.
- Sept 2013- US Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Southern White Rhino as threatened.
- Mar 2014- US philanthropist Howard Buffet gave a generous 24 million donation to fight rhino poaching in Kruger National Park.
- Jun 2014- New York passes historic ban on elephant ivory and rhino horn sales (with 80% of New Yorkers in favor of the ban)
Of course the US still has a way to go, but for a country who at one point was the second largest ivory market to enact a ban in its most populated state, it’s certainly nothing to scoff at. This victory will set the precedence for the rest of the nation.
Additionally, if the latest backlash against well-known hunters Melissa Bachman, Corey Knowlton, and Kendall Jones is any indication, momentum is leading toward a ban against trophy imports as well.
Please take a moment to thank the President and ask him to stand strong against those who oppose the ivory ban. President Obama: Keep Fighting Poaching
Our rhinos are dying. In Kenya and Sumatra, in Zimbabwe and Assam…killed by poachers, by trophy hunters…from Thailand, South Africa, America, Kenya, Russia, and yes…China.
It is a fact that China and Vietnam are the driving force, the demand for our rhinos’ horn. The frustration of this can become overwhelming at times, I admittedly find myself thinking…”China again?!”. But it’s easy to confuse China for the Chinese, a.k.a. the forest for the trees. Not All Chinese use rhino horn any more than All Americans are trophy hunters.
Racism and bias are intolerable. There is no time or space for this in the fight to save our rhinos. We must set aside our differences, ignore our borders, and unite to save them. For just as many people globally who seek to destroy them, there are just as many of us across the planet who fight to protect them.
Remember-we’re in this together.
What is the Bushmeat Crisis?
Bushmeat is the term used to describe any wild animal used for food, living in the “bush”. It is most common in reference to the area of Western and Central Africa. This can be apes, lemurs, rhino, elephant, antelope,etc.
Today bushmeat is important both as a food source and a trade item for poor families in rural and urban areas in Western and Central Africa. It is also often a status symbol for urban elites trying to retain links to the “village”, and often commands a high price in city restaurants.
The commercial bushmeat trade is in direct competition and threatens the livelihoods of rural communities dependent on these resources to meet their basic needs.
“People in the Congo Basin eat as much meat as do Europeans and Americans; approximately 80% of animal protein is derived from wildlife.”
While wildlife has been hunted and used for food since the beginning of time, things have changed considerably. The population density in these areas is greater than the animal population, in addition, factoring in the number of threatened and endangered species, the wildlife can no longer be viewed as a free, sustainable resource.
The Logging Industry’s contribution
The growing problem of the bushmeat industry is exacerbated by the construction of new roads to facilitate logging and mining operations, allowing poachers easy access to remote forests. Truck drivers also get involved, as they are routinely bribed into carrying loads of up to 200kg of bushmeat, including gorillas and chimpanzees, out of the forests.
Why not raise cow, chickens and goats?
Domestic “farm” animals are raised in the rural and urban households, but they are viewed as savings and insurance, since inflation is high and access to banks or credit is extremely limited. Even if they wanted to use their animals for a protein source, the area is plagued by tsetse flies which cause the disease, animal trypanosomiasis, making it unfeasible.
Of course hunting in the short-term yields immediate benefits, yet in the long run, this damages their economies in the future.
What does this mean for the environment?
While deforestation is also a threat to wildlife, over hunting is comparable, if not worse to the Western and Central African areas. Even in places where there is intact forests, there are no large animals, This is known as Empty Forest Syndrome.
“Experts estimate that the bushmeat trade could eliminate all viable populations of African apes within the next five to 15 years.”
Loss of wildlife means a loss of seed dispersing animals that play a key role in determining tree composition and distribution. Over time this will potentially cause irreversible global damage.
Human health jeopardy
In addition to environmental and economic consequence, the increased contact between humans and wildlife populations raises the risk of people transmitting animal-derived diseases. Consumption of bushmeat has been linked to zoonoses, including anthrax, ebola, monkeypox, HIV, SARS and foot and mouth disease. Additionally, there is also risk of transmitting human diseases to apes and other species.
Not just an African issue, thousands of pounds of primate parts, antelope, and other bushmeat are smuggled annually into the United States and Europe. The environmental concerns, the health risks and the responsibility are ours to share. From Lion meat tacos in Florida to Rat meat in London it’s becoming a black market pandemic.
Saving the rhino in Africa, from China and Vietnam is a familiar scenario. But another disturbing piece of the equation lies within the US. American hunters have long been drawn to the thrill of “big game”, hunting down rhino, elephant and lion in Africa.
Recently the US Fish and Wildlife Services set a new precedent, giving permission to a hunter to bring back his rhino kill from Africa. This has not been allowed for 30 years. Opening the door to wealthy Americans to slaughter endangered species in the wild for trophies is a dangerous trend to start.
Of course it takes two to tango. Shame on the Namibian government for allowing the hunt, and shame on US Fish and Wildlife for encouraging the hunter with incentive to keep the trophy.
According to Fish and Wildlife, “The Service cannot and will not allow the importation of sport-hunted trophies of species protected under the Endangered Species Act unless a comprehensive review determines that those trophies are taken as part of a well-managed conservation program that enhances the long-term survival of the species.”
What is well-managed? It seems if any of us had well-managed a species, they wouldn’t be endangered. And what is the point of recognizing and labeling a species as threatened, vulnerable or endangered if we’re going to allow them to be hunted down? Is it because if they seem more rare, the price tag on their heads rises, and in the end both governments make more money?
Pro-hunting groups will have you believe by paying to hunt a species, the funds go toward saving them, therefore making conservation sense. However, in this particular case Namibia made $175,000 for their “conservation fund” which in reality is a general fund used for multiple purposes, including rural development; hardly a benefit to the rhino.
However to satiate American hunters’ needs to “bag the big one”, they can also kill endangered species closer to home. In Texas alone, there are 500 ranches that in recent years have switched from raising cattle to the multi-million dollar industry of “exotic hunting”. There are species here thriving in Texas, that are almost extinct in Africa (i.e three species of endangered antelope and Grevy’s Zebra). Yet they survive only to be killed.
Not only is it illogical and seemingly unethical to breed endangered species simply to exterminate them, but the other part of the issue is the method of the hunt. Many of these hunts are canned hunts, which some within the hunting community even see as unethical. (See previous post: Shooting Fish in a Barrel)
Endangered animals need protection. Not just from the country they’re in, not in a ‘save by killing’ method, there are no exceptions. They need to be encouraged to breed, given space to do it in, and given the every chance to survive.
The hottest thing on the black market: the rhino horn. Rhino are being poached at the rate of one every nine hours. The National Parks are not safe, rhino farms are on constant guard, even the Rhino Orphanage was attacked.
The crisis is so widespread, that even dead rhino are a target. The horn is stolen, whether it is attached to a stuffed rhino or simply a lone specimen. Museums throughout Europe are under threat; Sweden, Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and England have all been hit.
Some of the specimens have been around since the 1900s, but regardless of age and origin, a horn is a horn. Just one can fetch $40,000 to $300,000 on the black market.
The latest heist was in The National Museum of Ireland warehouse. Fearing theft, the museum had the horns removed and placed in storage last year. But in April, the guard at the location was overpowered and the horns were taken anyhow.
According to Europol, it is believed that an Irish organized crime group is responsible. Antique dealers, auction houses, art galleries, museums, private collectors and zoos are all under threat. Although this has not yet become a widespread problem in America, Europol says there IS similar activity in North America.
From January 2011 through November 2012 there were 67 European thefts and 15 attempts.