Poaching of Asian Elephants Rising-Now They’re Killing Moms and Babies

Asian Elephants

A research project  operated by Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and Clemson University scientists is showing shocking and increasing poaching of Asian elephants in one of their last strongholds.

Myanmar is one of the most forested countries in Asia and has the second largest population with around 5,000 animals.

In the video below you will see that poachers in that country are not killing them chiefly for ivory but for their skin. And that means they are killing males, females and babies. One of the quickest ways to deplete a population of anything is to kill breeding-aged females which makes this skin trade particularly deadly.

Hopefully this will get major mainstream news attention. Kudos to Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and Clemson University for their discovery and exposure of this terrifying new trend.

With that said I doubt the big players in the wildlife conservation world will take notice and do much if anything. This is why I most often support small, focused conservation groups.

African elephants have been at the forefront of international wildlife conservation efforts for the last 30 years. When ivory poaching was brought to the public’s consciousness in the mid 1980s, the world was rightly appalled and millions of dollars have went toward their cause.

Currently there are an estimated 400,000 African elephants throughout the continent. That’s a huge drop from at least two million in the 1940s but it is large in comparison to the Asian elephant with a best estimate standing at around 35,000 animals scattered throughout Asia. Think about that.

There are less 1/10 Asian elephants in comparison to African.

Why is little said about Asian elephants?

For starters, big conservation is big bureaucracy and the public’s fascination with the African elephant helps generate funding. Lots of it. The largest threat to Asia’s elephant has been habitat loss with poaching also a factor but showing elephant carcasses stripped of tusks raises funds.

Showing palm oil plantations and villages taking up space for Asian elephants not so much.

People have a fascination with African game and there is always a greater interest there from the public than issues in other parts of the world.

I am all for helping African elephants but shouldn’t a bigger focus be on Asian elephant populations which stand at 1/10 of that in Africa?

According to the Great Elephant Census  Tanzania alone has nearly four times the elephants than all of Asia does with 131,626.

If those who deal in international conservation want a new project to really sink their teeth into this one could be a game changer. It’s not too late to make a difference but if the elephant skin trade catches on throughout Asia it will not take long to decimate their numbers either.

If ivory-stripped bull elephants images raise funds, then cows and their babies stripped of their skin should do the same thing. Send down a film crew and get to work. The Asian elephants in Myanmar need help. Quickly.

For the first 10 people to email chester@kingdomzoo.com and say you shared this blog I will donate $10 to Elafantasia. I know $100 is not much but if we all could contribute a little this group could do a lot. This is one of those smaller groups I mentioned that is focused and doing great work.

Share away and message me.

Together we can raise awareness and generate funds to help Asian elephants.

Chester Moore, Jr. 

 

Running Wild with Austin Stevens

When I had an opportunity to review Austin Steven’s new book Running Wild I was legitimately excited.

Stevens is my favorite ever outdoors television host and I have followed his career closely since seeing his Austin Stevens Snakemaster on Animal Planet in 2004.

Having previously read his other action-packed books I was not sure how many stories were left untold but I found myself thoroughly entertained, informed and inspired while reading Running Wild.

9781788230001

The very beginning with Stevens facing off with an angry chimpanzee escaped from a zoological facility set the tone for many tales of harrowing danger, ridiculously funny situations and poignant tales of life’s many struggles.

The thing that initially  made me a fan of Steven’s television programs is his sincerity. When he crawled into a cave to find wintering rattlesnakes, his claustrophobia showed. On many episodes, he shared fears and trepidations where many others are all about shock value.

The same sincerity shines through in his frustrations over changes in African culture as his wife experienced a terrifying night at the behest of burglars  and seeing the effects of spousal abuse on a friend.

He also shares great emotion in describing meeting his new wife Amy and their many adventures together.

And adventures abound in Running Wild.

Stevens is known chiefly for his work with snakes but his interaction with hyenas, rhinos, elephants and hippos are just as educational and intriguing.

His penchant for shooting wide angle photos of dangerous animals in super close quarters allows him to experience things about these creatures that most would never see. His description of pursuing the extremely dangerous and highly endangered black rhinoceros in particular held my attention and made me want to learn more about the species.

Now don’t think for a second that snakes are not part of the book. There are plenty of truly engaging serpent encounters and reflections on the kinds of interactions perhaps only Austin Stevens dares to seek.

This book is not about snakes or wildlife but how Austin Stevens made them part of his life and through his work in media made them part of ours.

Whether you want to know more about the man or the creatures he pursues, Running Wild is a fast-paced, fun read that only slows down enough to give reflective incite from a man who has a unique perspective on wildlife and has become one of its truly great ambassadors.

It is a must read.

To order your copy click here.

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

 

 

 

Watch Coral Snake Eat Copperhead (Video)

Coral Snake

A couple of years ago I came across incredible video footage of a coral snake eating a copperhead.

It was the first amateur wildlife video I had seen in a very long time that actually shocked me.

Coral snakes regularly eat earth snakes but this is a fairly large copperhead, at least in comparison to the coral snake in the clip.

I am happy to share this footage here at The Wildlife Journalist® because it shows anything can happen in nature.

Thanks to Donna Grundy for sharing this amazing footage. Enjoy!

Chester Moore, Jr.

Tiger Comeback Possibilites Intriguing

April 1 is rife with prank stories with the ending tagline “April Fool’s Day”.

Dinosaurs have been rediscovered on remote islands, chimpanzees have been found using iPhones and that mermaid special on Discovery Channel was real-all according to various satirical sources on April 1.

That is why I was at first suspicious of a Jakarta Post headline that read “Wonogiri residents claim sightings of extinct Javan tiger.”

A number of residents in Nguntoronadi district, Wonogiri regency, Central Java, claim to have seen tigers that have been declared extinct in the Mount Pegat area. The local office of the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), however, was quick to dismiss the sightings as Javan leopards.

“I have seen Javan tigers on Mt. Pegat and forests around the mountain. I saw a tiger playing with her three cubs,” Mt. Pegat juru kunci (mountain attendant) Suratno, 58, said on Sunday.

The Javan Tiger was declared extinct decades ago although reports have been off and on through the years and increasingly recently.

A photo from Ujung Kulon National Park purporting to be a Javan tiger looks more like a leopard to me but it is inconclusive.

The Javan tiger, pictured here, was declared extinct many years ago. But does a small population survive? (Photo courtesy Wiki Common)

Still, reports of people who live in the forest and would know a leopard or other wildlife saying they have seen tigers-even with cubs is hopeful. Maybe the reports are not an April Fool’s gag after all.

I  have a source who revealed recent reports of tigers in remote areas of Turkey. That would be the Caspian tiger another allegedly extinct subspecies that once roamed across forested areas of the Middle East.

There is even an effort to reintroduced tigers into Kazakhstan which was once home of the Caspian variety. The plan would be to release Amur (Siberian) tigers which are the closest relative.

As a longtime advocate of tiger conservation, I must say all of this is very positive considering the immense decline in tiger populations over the last 100 years.

Technology is allowing us to get a deep glimpse at tiger habitat and is revealing things we never knew about the species. It is also letting us know that they are perhaps more resilient than we thought.

It is time to take bold steps to save tigers. We have laid out a plan for removing livestock killing tigers and placing them on remote islands. You can read that entry here.

Re-wilding captive cats should also be put on the table.

The most beautiful animal on the planet needs a win and if Javan tigers are proven to still exist or if Turkey reveals a hidden number of Caspian tigers or the restoration effort in Kazakhstan happens it will be a huge win.

Be on the look out here for many entries on tigers. The world needs to know the problems they face and that hope for these great cats still exists.

Chester Moore, Jr.