Posts Tagged With: tigers

CITES Recap: the good, the bad and the ugly

The CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) 2008-2020 vision states
*they will be contributing to the conservation of wildlife as an integral part of the global ecosystem on which all life depends,
*as well as promoting transparency and wider involvement of civil society in the development of conservation policies and practices


Are they following their vision?

Well, here’s a recap. The animals who reaped ‘benefits’ from increased protection are:

*Pangolins (trade was completely banned, and the most highly trafficked animals in the world were given highest protection status)

*African Gray Parrots (trade was completely outlawed)

*Sharks and Rays (Thirteen species of rays and Thresher and Silky sharks were given highest protection status)

In addition, proposals to grant legal trade in ivory and/or horn in Namibia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland were denied.

But the disheartening news was the denial of CITES to grant the highest level of protection to:




An added issue for lions is the trade in captive bred lion parts remains legal. This perpetuates the Asian demand, and serves as an added incentive for South Africa to continue breeding farms. (Currently there are approximately 7,000 lions kept on 200 breeding farms throughout South Africa.)


© Data from UNEP-WCMC

In theory wild lion parts are not legally traded. Yet, there is no way to tell the difference between a wild lion bone and a captive lion bone. If money is to be made, bones will likely be obtained. Like a fenced in yard with surrounded by only  three sides, protection for Africa’s lion is incomplete, and proves worrisome to an even  faster decline.

In the end, the negligence to protect one species casts a shadow over the decision to protect others. It also casts doubt on the credibility and intentions of our CITES delegates.


President Zuma at CITES. South Africa has been accused of “selling out” both elephants in lions in their votes against added protection. Photos by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth


There is no necessity in trading lion parts, wild or captive. To perpetuate a market and feed a false cultural perception is not only ethically questionable, but also sends a mixed message in the overall trade of wildlife products. Why is one species an acceptable “commodity” over another? And if a species becomes “captive bred”, is the door open for that species to be traded as well?


Currently there are approximately 7,000 lions kept on 200 breeding farms throughout South Africa photo: One Green Planet

For Appendices ratings, just how low do the numbers have to get for us to act? The Northern White Rhinos are a perfect example of the error in waiting too long. There are 3 left. They were never afforded protection in time. Why isn’t their predicament enough; does history teach us nothing?


Only three Northern White Rhinos remain, all living in Kenya at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. photo: Brent Stirton/Nat Geo

(It is important to note that upgrading lions to the Appendix I status would ONLY have affected wild lions, and would not have afforded protection to their captive cousins.)




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Endangered Animals: the new “collectible” in China

Rhinos horns have been coveted as a use in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2000 years.

Over the last few years, rhino horn powder has trended as a status symbol in Vietnam. It is used as a “party drug” for the elite.

rhino horn powder afp getty

Woman grind horn into powder. photo: AFP/Getty

Now, rhino horn, along with pangolin scales, tiger bones, and ivory are being kept as collectibles.

China’s social elite is stockpiling the products in anticipation of their extinction. They  prefer wild “products” over farm-raised,as they see more worth in them. Wild animals are thought to be more potent as well.

tiger bone wine

Tiger wine, made from their bones, is being kept or “aged” with hopes of increased value if they become extinct. photo: unknown

Endangered species have become the new collectible. According to John R Platt,  as more collectors have entered the market, killing endangered species has grown increasingly profitable. Ivory wholesale prices, for example, have shot up from $564 per kilogram in 2006 to at least $2,100 today.

Just one rhino horn nets about $100,000. Helmeted Hornbill beak can fetch over $6,000 per kg, and a tiger skin rug is worth $124,000.

helmeted hornbill by species on the brink

Helmeted hornbills, from Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, are so rare, numbers are not quantified. Their beaks worth more than ivory. photo: Asian Species Action Partnership

Investing in the death of our world’s wildlife is a greedy, unforgivable endeavor. The faster the rich wipe out our animals, the poorer we all become.



















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China is proof why Legal Trade in Rhino horn will fail

white rhino with baby by martin harvey

White Rhinos photo:Martin Harvey

Rhino poaching has already risen by 18%, and it’s only halfway through the year. Yet the South African DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs) continues their push of legal trade, unabated.

Aside from the usual and obvious arguments with legal trade, there are three definitive reasons why legal trade would fail:


CITES ( Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) representatives, including China’s have recommended against it. In fact, Wan Ziming, the head of China’s representing party at CITES, told Oxpeckers he was concerned that “the legitimate horn supply would be insufficient to meet the demand.”

Without the backing from CITES trade could not happen. “With almost every country having banned rhino horn, I have no idea of any country that would be willing to import rhino horn stockpile from South Africa,”said Ziming.


In 2008 South Africa initiated a one-off sale of stored ivory. This brief sale, though legal, renewed interest and increased demand within the Chinese culture. Ivory prices skyrocketed, but the “legal supply” was exhausted.

Immediately following this sale, according to CITES, “record levels of ivory were seized and sustained throughout the period 2009 to 2011.”

In addition to confusing consumers, the IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) conducted a survey that clearly showed that illegal ivory can be laundered freely through the legal market. In fact illegal trade activity often took place in legal facilities.

If China cannot (or will not) govern the legal trade, there is no point.


Twenty years ago China banned the sale and use of tiger bone. Yet tiger farms have cropped up all over the country for the sole purpose of killing and utilizing the animal parts. Instead of stepping up enforcement, China caved to public pressure and wildlife authorities issued licenses for “wineries” and “taxidermists”, stimulating the demand.

It costs as little as US $15 to kill a wild tiger compared to US $7,000 to farm an animal to maturity. This profit margin offers substantial incentives for poaching tigers in the wild. Since it is impossible to distinguish between farm-raised tigers and their wild counterparts from their bones and other parts, farming tigers for trade creates enormous difficulties for law enforcement, and provides opportunities to “launder” products made from wild tigers.**

The same is true for ivory and horn. It is virtually impossible to distinguish the difference between “legal” or “old” ivory and “illegal” or “poached” ivory.

Perhaps it’s time for South Africa government to stop counting cash from sales that won’t come to fruition, and go with Plan B: get serious about poaching through laws and political will.

horn trade cartoon

(**from the UN Chronicle)


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Tiger attacks on rhinos

Recently in northeast India, an injured baby rhino was found in a backyard. Badly injured and unable to move, the 3 month old was the victim of a tiger attack. After initial medical treatment, the IFAW Wildlife Rescue Centre in India stepped in for further care and rehabilitation.

baby rhino tiger attack IFAW

The forest department was called in to assist the baby rhino. IFAW

baby rhino tiger attack 3

He is reportedly responding well to treatment.  IFAW

This is not an unusual encounter. Cheetahs and Sambhars (a type of deer) are the preferred prey of tigers. Yet young and vulnerable rhino calves have been occasionally targeted.

In Assam’s Kaziranga National Park, which shelters the biggest population of rhinos, about 15 to 20 rhino cubs are killed by tigers each year.

Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga National Park

Nepal’s Chitwan Park and the Dudwhua National Park have also reported similar incidences.

What is most out of the ordinary are attacks on adult rhinos. It is “somewhat against the normal hunting pattern” according to Ganesh Bhar, the deputy director of DDR. Within the past few years there have been a handful of attacks, and resulting deaths to rhinos.

It is unclear why tigers would attack an adult rhino. Territory disputes?  Reduction of prey in the area? Increased tiger population resulting in more competition for prey?


Tiger feasting on poached rhino in Kaziranga National Park. Is poaching responsible for tiger’s appetite for adult rhinos? Photo: Cam trap KNP

But what is clear is there is now a conflict of conservation, as both the Indian Rhino and Bengal Tiger are endangered. In the battle to secure a future for both species, it is quite disturbing and proves to be a complex issue to keep them safe from man and from each other.








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China’s Expanding Middle Class Fuels Poaching

Vendors hawk animal wares, including a bull's head for decoration, in a market stall in Mong La. In this shop and others, customers can buy porcupine quills, tiger claws and penises, horns from deer and mountain goats, and other items from wild and often endangered species for use in traditional Chinese medicine.

Vendors hawk animal wares, including a bull’s head for decoration, in a market stall in Mong La. In this shop and others, customers can buy porcupine quills, tiger claws and penises, horns from deer and mountain goats, and other items from wild and often endangered species for use in traditional Chinese medicine.

Shortened article taken from: Hereward Holland, Photos by Minzayar

MONG LA, Myanmar—In this gaudy mecca of eroticism and greed on the eastern border with China, the cuisine isn’t for the squeamish: Many items on the menu, including the drinks, are derived from poached endangered animals.

At one riverside bistro a tiger skeleton marinates in a dark alcoholic tonic in a 12-foot aquarium, its vacant eye sockets gazing down on patrons. The elixir is believed by its many aficionados to be a potent aphrodisiac that imparts the animal’s muscular vitality.

“The tiger wine is good for both men and women,” says a Chinese businessman who has lived in Mong La for a decade, grinning maniacally and flexing his arms like a bodybuilder. “It makes a man strong in the bedroom.”

The wine, like its grape-based relative, must steep, preferably for at least a year. Then, discerning sex tourists can quaff it for 1,000 yuan ($163 U.S.) per bottle.

“Most people just take one or two glasses,” says a giggling waitress.

The drink is just one of many enticements that lure hundreds of Chinese across the border every day to Myanmar’s city of sin. As a taxi driver ferried us through the darkening jungle toward the neon-lit valley in the country also known as Burma, he summed up the destination’s decadent attractions:

“There’s not much in Mong La. Just prostitutes, gambling, and rare animals.”

Mong La is a smaller, seedier, anarchic version of Las Vegas—a collection of casinos and their associated vices in an unlikely, out-of-the-way place, though one where the rare animals are not for show, but for consumption. From humble market stalls to high-end boutiques, the town is a macabre menagerie where Chinese tourists can scoop up a bargain. A framed tiger tail goes for 30,000 yuan ($4,890), a tiger skin for 100,000 yuan ($16,300), and a prized rhino horn for 280,000 yuan ($45,640).

In the kitchen of a popular wildlife restaurant, meat hangs on hooks. Outside, snakes, turtles, pangolins, and other animals live in cages until they are turned into entrees that some Chinese gourmands consider delicacies.

In the kitchen of a popular wildlife restaurant, meat hangs on hooks. Outside, snakes, turtles, pangolins, and other animals live in cages until they are turned into entrees that some Chinese gourmands consider delicacies.

The city is the capital of Special Region No. 4, a largely lawless, 1,911-square-mile realm in a remote area. This territory is typical of Myanmar’s porous borderlands: a blind spot beyond government writ or regulation where local authorities apply national laws with caprice. In this crack between the paving slabs of statehood has sprouted the largest rare animal market in Southeast Asia—a poacher’s paradise.

“The rate of poaching in Southeast Asia is unbelievable. It’s being vacuumed out,” says Chris Shepherd, Southeast Asia regional director of TRAFFIC, a group that monitors the global trade in plants and wild animals.

During the past couple of decades, China’s extraordinary economic expansion has created a vast cohort of nouveau riche, eager to spend cash on totems of wealth and prestige.

A shop displays tiger bone wine, sold in ornate bottles, and a tiger pelt hung on a wall. To make the liquor, thought to distill the vitality of wild tigers, skeletons are marinated in tanks filled with alcoholic tonic. In Mong La, Chinese men imbibe it as an aphrodisiac and then head to the many bordellos.

A shop displays tiger bone wine, sold in ornate bottles, and a tiger pelt hung on a wall. To make the liquor, thought to distill the vitality of wild tigers, skeletons are marinated in tanks filled with alcoholic tonic. In Mong La, Chinese men imbibe it as an aphrodisiac and then head to the many bordellos.

China’s Middle Class Drives Demand

Today China’s middle class (those earning $10-$100 per day) number some 150 million, a little less than half the population of the United States. During the next decade that figure could more than triple, ratcheting up demand for Mong La’s unrestrained hedonism, bourgeois trophies, and traditional Chinese medicine.

Up to one-third of the global trafficking of wild tiger parts may pass through Myanmar, estimates Thomas Gray, the World Wildlife Fund’s manager of the Greater Mekong Species Programme.

“Poaching and wildlife trafficking of large mammals in Asia have increased exponentially over the last two or three decades, but also in Africa in the last ten years,” he says. “The driving force is the increased number of middle-class or affluent people involved in conspicuous consumption in Asia, particularly in China.”

Left: Dried elephant skin, tiger penises and paws (which might be fake or from rare animals raised on farms), and pangolin scales are sold in a Mong La market. Right: Peppers and tomatoes are displayed next to animal parts.

Left: Dried elephant skin, tiger penises and paws (which might be fake or from rare animals raised on farms), and pangolin scales are sold in a Mong La market. Right: Peppers and tomatoes are displayed next to animal parts.

It’s a similar story with the array of other endangered animals hawked in Mong La’s open-air apothecary: bear bile and claws, elephant hide and ivory, leopard and jungle cat pelts, as well as live pangolins, turtles, and monkeys.

In Mong La’s main market, a woman sells four-inch squares of dried elephant hide. She explains that they are ground into a paste and applied to wounds to help them heal. As she talks, a giant, blue-eyed husky saunters past, sniffs her goods, and then tries to befriend a monkey chained to a post.

“I sell all my products to Chinese tourists,” says the woman, who asks not to be identified. Like most of those interviewed in Mong La, she fears retribution for speaking openly from people involved in the illicit trade or local officials.

Continuing her sales pitch, she proffers what she claims are tiger claws, for talismans, and dried tiger penises, for extra sexual vim.

Menus across town feature turtles, lizards, and pangolins, the most heavily trafficked mammal in the world, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Several pangolins sit in cages outside one restaurant, like anteaters in chain mail, awaiting the pot. The meat of this small armored creature is considered a delicacy; its scales are used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ills, including poor circulation.

In recent years an international trade in pangolins has sprung up from African countries to Asian markets, driven by China’s new affluence.

Animal Trafficking Replaces Opium Smuggling

It’s difficult to establish firm origins for the animals sold in Mong La. Of a dozen vendors queried by National Geographic, all said their tiger products came from Myanmar, although it is unclear whether they first had been smuggled in from another country.

Most locals, though, point to the surrounding jungle of Myanmar’s Shan State as the source. “In the past the business was drugs and heroin, but now it’s animals, mostly from southern Shan State,” says Abraham Than, an 88-year-old retired bishop, neatly condensing two decades of the history of the area known as Special Region No. 4.

Over a glass of local wine, Than talks about how Mong La’s fortunes have changed since he arrived in 1969.

“There were no buildings; it was a jungle village,” he says.

To reach Mong La, Chinese visitors drive through a dramatic landscape. The neon-lit city is a garish sight in the remote, largely lawless jungle of eastern Myanmar. Since 1989, the city has been controlled by a former rebel army and has become a mecca for gambling, prostitution, and the wildlife trade.

To reach Mong La, Chinese visitors drive through a dramatic landscape. The neon-lit city is a garish sight in the remote, largely lawless jungle of eastern Myanmar. Since 1989, the city has been controlled by a former rebel army and has become a mecca for gambling, prostitution, and the wildlife trade.

At the time, Shan State was overrun by rebel groups, far too many for Than to recall. In 1989, the army, which ran the country, reached a cease-fire agreement with the militants, including the National Democratic Alliance Army in Mong La. The NDAA, with about 3,000 troops, has controlled the region ever since, even as Myanmar has taken significant steps toward democracy.

Than built a Catholic church on a hillock overlooking the town in 1996, hoping to spread the Lord’s word in a new era of peace, but the word mostly fell on deaf ears. “I say to myself, ‘I have made a mistake coming here.’ I wanted to come here to be a monk in the quiet, but it’s so messy,” he chuckles.

In the 1990s the NDAA became heavily involved in the drug trade in the area, which is in the heart of the Golden Triangle. Along with Laos and Thailand, Myanmar once produced most of the world’s opium. It is now second behind Afghanistan.

Feeling the heat from the U.S. State Department, Myanmar’s ruling junta pressured the NDAA’s leader, Lin Ming Xian, to quit narco-trafficking, and by 1997 he proclaimed his fiefdom opium-free, but his reputation stuck.

One U.S. diplomat wrote in a leaked 2005 embassy cable that Mong La “is patrolled not by the Burmese army or police force but by a James Bondian private police force funded by regional leader and drug trafficker Lin Ming Xian.”

Mong La quickly turned to substitute vices: gambling, the sex trade, and rare animals culled from the jungle.

“It’s not regulated. Special Region No. 4 has been basically allowed to do what they like as long as it isn’t opium. There’s a real Wild West element to the place,” says Richard Horsey, a Yangon-based political analyst.


As night falls, traffic slides through the center of Mong La, which is bisected by a caramel-colored river. The town, in an area that is mostly jungle, has grown as China's middle class has expanded and sought out its illicit pleasures.

As night falls, traffic slides through the center of Mong La, which is bisected by a caramel-colored river. The town, in an area that is mostly jungle, has grown as China’s middle class has expanded and sought out its illicit pleasures.



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World Ranger Day 2014

rhino with ranger

Photo: Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Where would our rhinos, elephants, tigers, gorillas, and other animals be without rangers?

KWS rangers line up

Photo: KWS


Putting their lives on the line each and every day…it’s not glamorous or prestigious, it’s tough.

Sometimes it’s downright deadly.


But without these brave men and women, extinction would be a reality. Poaching would run rampant, chaos would ensue.

ranger with gorilla

Photo: Paul Moore/AFP


Through darkness, heat, rain, and cold, these souls persevere.

Treading carefully through danger, they protect what we all cherish.


So today, on World Ranger Day, we salute them.

I want to be a ranger

Photo: unknown

We acknowledge their efforts and dedication; we also remember the fallen, whose families made the greatest sacrifice.

Each day we pray for your safety and from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you!

Show your appreciation by participating in our campaign:


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Candle in the Dark: Hope in China

China – the mere mention of the country sets animal lovers on edge. It’s no secret they bear a huge responsibility for the demand of horn and ivory, paving the destruction of rhinos and elephants, among other animals.

But there is reason to hope. The animal welfare movement is alive and well in China. The younger generation is aware, and becoming less tolerant of cruelty toward animals. With increasing attention from social media, animal protection issues are pushing to the public forefront.

chinese activists

Activists protest dog and cat meat industry.

The past couple of years, Chinese animal welfare advocates have

* banned the U.S. rodeo from entering Beijing
*demonstrated against the import of seal parts from Canada *
*ended barbaric live animal feeding in zoos
*prevented the construction of a foie gras factory
*rescued thousands of dogs and cats from the meat trade
*made stricter terms on harming endangered species(anyone who eats endangered species, or buys them for other purposes, is punishable by up to 10 years in jail)

In addition China is home to 50 million vegetarians and vegans, according to Peta.

Social media was responsible for alerting volunteers to intercept this truck filled with dogs bound for slaughter.

Social media was responsible for alerting volunteers to intercept this truck filled with dogs bound for slaughter.

The New York Times reports that revulsion at animal abuse is growing, and citizens have been taking matters into their own hands, rescuing dogs and cats from slaughter, and  banding together to lobby government for animal protection laws.

China has some laws protecting endangered species of wild animals, but no protection for other animals within the country.

A proposed draft of China’s first comprehensive animal welfare law, the China Animal Protection Law, was issued in September 2009, according to Xinhua, the state news agency. It has yet to become law.

Some of the organizations currently working in China, and with the government trying to change current laws are Animals Asia, Peta Asia, and Chinese Animal Protection Network.

According to Animals Asia, “After more than 20 years working in China, we know how fast things can change – and we know already from working with various government departments in Beijing and Sichuan Province, that there is definitely a growing recognition and sympathy towards the issue of animal welfare generally which did not exist 10 years ago.”

Yao Ming's shark protection campaign helped reduce fin demand by 90%

Yao Ming’s shark protection campaign helped reduce fin demand by 90%

No doubt that social media and celebrity endorsements are helping the movement along. Jackie Chan, Yao Ming, and pop singer Yu Kewei, artist Ai Weiwei, and actress Sun Li are actively campaigning against bear bile farms, rhino horn and elephant tusk use, and other endangered species slaughter.

China has lagged behind the most progressive nations in animal protection legislation for more than 180 years. But their time is coming. Realistically it has been and will continue to be slow, as younger generations push back against the older generation, more set in their ways.

 As a  Korean animal rights activist Sung Su Kim puts it:

“Culture has often been used as an excuse to turn away from suffering, and people in both Asia and the West often use cultural relativism to soothe their conscience for doing nothing”.

“Surely we want to regard various practices in our history (such as slavery and cannibalism) as something to be rid of rather than treat them as ‘culture’ and demand respect accordingly.”

jacki rhino ad

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No Vacancy?

Kruger National Park, South Africa: A tourist couple were following a bull elephant, attempting to get pictures. At one point, he turned and charged the car, turning it over into the bushes. The woman was seriously injured, and had to be transported to a nearby hospital.

car from elephant attack

Car attacked by elephant in Kruger.

The bull was in musth, which is a time in which their testosterone is extremely high, they are sexually active and quite aggressive. It is obvious by their swollen temporal glands which emit a fluid that runs down their cheeks.

The couple have survived, the elephant was not so lucky. Officials at the park had decided to put him down, due to his aggression.

There has been outrage expressed by some on behalf of the elephant. Afterall, the elephant was doing what elephants do. It is up to people to educate themselves on animal behavior, and it is a known risk they take by entering the park. Surely, this could have been avoided.

Unfortunately this is only one of multiple incidences, not just in South Africa, but globally. With 7 billion people on the planet, and dwindling habitats for animals, everyone is running dangerously short on elbow room.


Kenya fights these battles as well. The country loses 100 lions a year due to human conflict. Most of this is in retaliation of villagers for their goats or cattle being killed. This epidemic, coupled with disease,  could well lead to no lions in the country within just 20 years. This dismal disappearance is seen throughout the dark continent, with lions gone from 80% of their original African range.

Elephants are players in the conflict here as well. Crop farming, charcoal burning and human settlements have attributed to just some of the casualties on both sides. 35 people are killed from elephants each year, yet at least 100  elephants are killed daily.

beehives near elephants

Kenyan farmers are using beehives as a natural elephant deterrent, which has proven 97% effective in thwarting attacks.

There are individual stories from people for whom the elephants create havoc on their crops, on their daily lives. David Kimita, a 45-year-old farmer and father of four, blames elephants for the breakdown of his marriage. Every time he plants crops, elephants raid his farm, leaving him with nothing for his family.

“My wife depended on me for food, so when there was none, she decided to go – four years ago,” he said

In 1994, Kenya began a Problem Animal Management Unit (PAMU) due to the challenge. The unit is composed of an elite ranger response team and responds to  interaction hotspots in the country. Villagers who lose crops or livestock are paid compensation. Without this intervention, too many animals would be lost in retaliation (more than already are).

Javan leopard in W Java killed after it invaded a house (CIFOR)

A rare Javan Leopard was killed after she invaded a house
photo courtesy of CIFOR

Bangalore, India:

Since April of 2013, there have been 30 human deaths due to human/animal conflict.  23 of the attacks were from elephants , with the rest from tigers, leopards, wild boars and bears.

With an increasing number of people within the area and less forests,  more occurrence of human/animal contact is inevitable. In India alone, hundreds of people die from elephant attacks annually, and  an estimated 10-12,000 people a year are killed by venomous snakes.  Forest officials expect this number to climb even higher in 2014.

It’s not just people who are harmed. All over India  elephant/train accidents are becoming all too common, as the tracks intersect common elephant corridors (see: Growing Pains and Speeding Trains)  Decreased habitat and illegal trade contribute to approximately four leopards killed every week. Tigers are also under the gun, literally. At least 39 tigers were poached in 2013, the highest in seven years.

So what’s to be done?

Clearly lions and leopards do not know the difference between livestock and wild animals-prey is prey. Elephants have been taking the same routes in grazing and everyday activity for decades, without anyone giving them notice that villages and train tracks are now being built in their paths.

By 2024 with the human population expected to hit the 8 billion mark, this is an issue that is not going away.

Humans are the more “intelligent”,  reasoning creatures (supposedly). If we are to prevent extinction of animals, and preserve flora and fauna, it is imperative to act now. Unity between communities and conservation organizations, as well as land and resource management are key. For just as we are the destroyers, we need to be the saviors.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”
Mahatma Gandhi

no vacany

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Be Wary Animal Lovers

Tourism is helping save wildlife. That’s what we’re told. If this is true, where you spend your next holiday could be the most important decision you make, the world is counting on you.

Cuddling baby lions sound endearing? As cute and cuddly as they seem , you might as well shoot them. This is the first part of the circle of “life” for lions in canned hunts. The cubs are used to entice you there, and ultimately to use your money to help fund the whole operation You feed them, hold and coddle them, sometimes even bottle feed. But ask yourself “Where’s mom?”  (For more on canned hunts, see: Shooting Fish in a Barrel)

lion cubs in cageElephant rides? Not unless you enjoy knowing they are beaten, starved and tortured in order to “train” them to comply. What about the sweet baby elephants rolling on the beach, splashing in the waves? Surely they are enjoying themselves. Sadly no. Once again ask “Where’s mom?” They are torn from their families and enslaved in the name of entertainment. (For more, see: The Dark Side of Thailand Tourism)

elephant trainingA photograph next to a tame tiger in a buddhist temple? Buddhist monks must be peaceful and enlightened. Here tourists unknowingly play into the larger exploitive scheme of the illegal tiger trade. Slight of hand, babies coming and going, tigers seeming drugged, lethargic and often in need of medical help-all part of the famous “Tiger Temple”. Ask yourself “What tiger in the world would willingly let you pet him, let alone get anywhere near him?”  (See: The Tiger Temple…)

chained tiger 2A family trip to Sea World…if you haven’t seen Blackfish, please watch. Psychosis, food depravity, stolen from their families is just a part of the torture the Orcas are subjected to.

Bottom line: please educate yourself on where you’re going. If something doesn’t seem natural for an animal, it’s probably not! Don’t give your hard earned money to people who torture or enslave them.

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When Cats and Dogs Aren’t Enough


This is Little Mo. She was just a few months old when poachers killed her mother and stole her from the wild. These ruthless wildlife traffickers wanted Born Free Foundationto sell the cheetah cub as a ‘pet’ in Somaliland, East Africa.

Mo is one of millions of countless big cats, and other endangered animals who are part of the exotic pet trade.

US Exotic Pets

The illegal trade is a $15 billion dollar business in the United States alone, with breeders and dealers selling animals over the Internet or in trade magazines. It is estimated that approximately 20,000 exotics live in “backyards” all across the US.

While some exotic pets have been bred in captivity, many are plucked directly from their natural habitats. The stress of being violently removed from their homes causes some animals to die before they ever reach a private residence.

pet tiger

Amazingly, the Endangered Species Act does not prohibit domestic trade in captive-bred wildlife. A grave oversight, considering that although tigers are endangered, more tigers reside in private residences in Texas, than in all the wild.

People purchasing these animals believe them to be cute and manageable until of course they grow, their wild instincts still intact, and become uncontrollable.  In 2013, there have been 1,969 incidents (anything from quarantine violations to deaths of animals and/or people) in the US alone.

Middle Eastern Trend

Of course this is not just problematic in the US. Big cat pets in the Gulf region is a growing trend. It is seen as a status symbol. Yemen is becoming the hub for this lucrative trade in the Arabian world. Although the numbers are not available, it is believed this is the reason for the dent in the wild cheetah populations in Somalia.

man riding lion

Several clips have surfaced on the Internet showing the absurdity and ignorance of owning these big cats; i.e. a  riding a lion and a group of men with a leashed cheetah.

Worldwide Smuggling

Authorities around the world suspect they’re intercepting under 10% of all wildlife smuggling, with many saying it’s actually only 1%.

african greys rescused

3 of 108 African Grays released into the wild after a failed smuggling attempt in Bulgaria.

The vast size of most wilderness areas and the limited number of enforcement officers virtually guarantee poachers and smugglers free access. The only way to get a definite conviction is to catch them in the act.


11 otters found alive in unclaimed baggage in Bangkok.

Although smuggling of endangered species is an international violation of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), the penalties are stipulated by individual countries and vary greatly. CITES protection does not apply to exotic animals who are born in captivity.

Root of the Problem

As with rhino and elephant poaching, the root of the issue is to stop the demand. So it is with exotic pet ownership.

*Do not purchase endangered species.

*Do not patronize circuses and roadside zoos who use or showcase exotic animals.

Please read and sign the petition to : Ban exotic pet ownership in the US

Born Free FoundationWhat happened to Mo the cheetah?

She was rescued by the Born Free Foundation. She’s living the good life, with a spacious area and her medical and nutritional needs cared for.

After slowly introducing her to other cheetahs, she is happily living as part of a new family unit.

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