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Archive for the 'Asia' Category

IUCN program officer Emma Brooks discusses illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam and her research on how commercial farming of a traded species, like porcupines, affects both the species and the trade. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how most animals in Vietnam’s wildlife trade end up on the plates of wealthy restaurant patrons. In Vietnam and elsewhere, commercial wildlife farming, meaning the breeding of wild species for legal sale, is often promoted to supply demand while preventing overhunting in the wild. However, in a study on the conservation impact of commercial wildlife farming of porcupines in Vietnam published in August 2010 in Biological Conservation, IUCN program officer Emma Brooks concluded that commercial porcupine farming is instead having the opposite effect.

Emma Brooks has been involved with numerous conservation projects around the world, from biodiversity surveys in Mozambique to Giant River Otter counts in Bolivia. She first became interested in wildlife trade issues during her MSc at the University of East Anglia, UK. Her research in the trade in porcupines formed her dissertation topic, for which she spent three months collecting data and interviewing locals in northern Viet Nam. Emma now works for the IUCN, as part of the Global Species Programme based in Cambridge, UK. Her work includes assessing the extinction risk of species from around the world for inclusion on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, as well as using the information gathered to analyze species richness, major species and habitat threats, and important areas for biodiversity. The importance of species, ecosystems and services to human livelihoods and wellbeing is increasingly being recognized, and she works in a number of areas to provide the information to support decisions for the protection of species and livelihoods. This episode of “The WildLife” was posted on August 15, 2011.

The WildLife is a show that explores the mysteries of the animal world through interviews with scientists, authors and other wildlife investigators. It airs every Monday from 1-2 pm EST on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont.

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John Roberts, Director of the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, discusses domestic Asian elephants in Thailand. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the life of domestic Asian elephants in the Golden Triangle and talks about the innovative approach being taken by a relatively new elephant camp at Anantara luxury Resort in northern Thailand that aims both to help these animals and to help their owners improve their way of life. John Roberts is Director of the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation and Director of Elephants for Anantara Golden Triangle Resorts and Four Seasons Tented Camp. He is a trustee of the English Registered Charity the International Trust for Nature Conservation (www.itnc.org) and acts as Director of the Thai registered Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (www.helpingelephants.org). He has also contributed articles to publications as diverse as Bird Conservation Nepal and Land Rover Monthly. He’s also director of elephants for the elephant camps at Anantara and Four Seasons Tented Camp, which have gained worldwide television and press coverage and together with the Foundation provide more than twenty-five elephants, their mahouts and the mahouts’ families with a living. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 19, 2010 and was rebroadcast on July 25, 2011.

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Kaitlyn Foley, senior programme officer at TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, talks about the bear bile trade in Asia. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how recent research by TRAFFIC shows that the illegal bear bile trade continues unabated across Asia on a large scale.

The poaching and illegal trade of bears is driven largely by the demand for their bile, which is used in traditional medicine and folk remedies. Research by TRAFFIC, published in the report Pills, Powders, Vials & Flakes: The bear bile trade in Asia, found bear bile products on sale in traditional medicine outlets in all but one (Macao) of the 13 countries/territories surveyed, suggesting a complex and robust trade in bear products. Of particular note were mainland China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Myanmar and Viet Nam, where bear bile products were most frequently observed. While bile from bear farms in China is legal if sold domestically, TRAFFIC found this Chinese bear bile being illegal sold across the border. It also noted that “Mom & Pop” bear farms were popping up in Laos and Myanmar, making these countries new potential hubs for this trade.

Kaitlyn-Elizabeth Foley is a senior programme officer at TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.  She holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of Rhode Island and a Master of Science in Primate Conservation from Oxford Brookes University.  Her main research interests include wildlife trade, conservation, and animal behavior and welfare.  For the past nine years, Kaitlyn has lived and worked abroad in Italy, the United Kingdom and Malaysia.  Most recently her work and research interest has been focused on the conservation and mitigation of trade in bears and the pet trade of mammals in Asia. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on June 20, 2011.

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Suwanna Gauntlett, co-founder and executive director of Wildlife Alliance, talks about protecting wildlife in Cambodia. Cambodia has long been one of Asia’s five main source countries for wildlife exported for traditional Asian medicine, exotic pets, and meats. Suwanna tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that when she first arrived in this southeast Asian country in the late 1990s, “you could hardly see any signs of wildlife because of the destruction.” Wildlife was sold everywhere. But that’s changing. Illegal wildlife trade has declined by about 70% in the last 10 years due to a multi-pronged approach working directly with communities and governments both to combat the illegal wildlife trade and to improve forest management. Suwanna and Wildlife Alliance often focus on fighting land development/forest conversions and instead providing alternative and more diversified and sustainable means of making a living. Already, as a result of this work, the government has avoided 28 economic land concessions and saved over 2 million acres of forestland. One of those that Suwanna talks about in this interview are her efforts in the southern Cardamom mountain range, one of Asia’s last seven elephant corridors and Cambodia’s largest remaining intact forest, where her program has reduced elephant poaching there by 95 percent, tiger poaching by 50 percent and forest fires by 80 percent. However, those successes are now under threat due to the recent approval of a land concession for a proposed titanium mine. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on March 21, 2011.

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Michelle Desilets, Executive Director of the Orangutan Land Trust, discusses the rehabilitation of rescued orangutans and new approaches to help save this species in the second of a two-part interview. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how a rescued orangutan learns to be wild with mesmerizing stories of the "school" at Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Project in Kalimantan, Indonesia. She also explores innvoative ways to help protect orangutans and their habitat. Michelle Desilets has been working on orangutan conservation alongside Lone Droscher Nielsen, the internationally well-known champion of these apes, for over 15 years. Together, the two women founded the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Project which now has over 600 orangutans in its care, making it the largest such center in the world. Michelle also founded the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation UK (BOS) and served as its Executive Director and initiated a number of international campaigns to help orangutans, such as campaigns to end the illegal trade of orangutans and to repatriate known smuggled orangutans, as well as the campaign for sustainable palm oil.  Currently, she is the Executive Director of the Orangutan Land Trust. She also sits on several working groups in the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil and spends a good deal of time at the Nyaru Menteng project. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 12, 2010, and was repeated on November 29, 2010.

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Michelle Desilets, Executive Director of the Orangutan Land Trust, divulges the interesting biology and habits of orangutans in the first of a two-part interview. She gives “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme an insider’s look at what makes these red apes fascinating, endearing, infuriating and worthy of protection. Did you know orangutans don’t like the rain? Yet they don’t complain and instead fashion roofs and umbrellas out of leaves. You’ll also gain insights into why these animals are under threat.

Michelle Desilets has been working on orangutan conservation alongside Lone Droscher Nielsen, the internationally well-known champion of these apes, for over 15 years. Together, the two women founded the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Project which now has over 600 orangutans in its care, making it the largest such center in the world. Michelle also founded the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation UK (BOS) and served as its Executive Director and initiated a number of international campaigns to help orangutans, such as campaigns to end the illegal trade of orangutans and to repatriate known smuggled orangutans, as well as the campaign for sustainable palm oil.  Currently, she is the Executive Director of the Orangutan Land Trust. She also sits on several working groups in the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil and spends a good deal of time at the Nyaru Menteng project.

In this podcast, you’ll also hear Shawn Thompson, author of The Intimate Ape. Shawn is a university professor at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia, Canada as well as a writer. To write The Intimate Ape, he spent years hiking through the jungles of Borneo and Sumatra and had many adventures — from getting chased by wild pygmy elephants in Borneo, to sleeping inside the zoo in Jakarta.  This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 5, 2010, and was repeated on November 22, 2010.

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Anna Nekaris, an expert on nocturnal primates, discusses Asia’s slow and slender lorises. She reveals to “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme what makes these creatures so special and why they’re sought after both as pets and as a key ingredient in traditional medicine. Did you know that the lovable, furry Ewoks in Star Wars films were modeled after slow lorises? But unlike Ewoks, lorises can’t jump or leap, which means they can only move through the forest canopy by using branches that touch.That makes an intact forest vital to their survival. Lorises are also one of the only venomous primates. They have a form of biological venom that’s produced by a gland in their elbows, which they mix with saliva to create a powerful toxin. These unique characteristics are what make them a sought after ingredient in traditional medicine across Asia. In fact, Anna and her research team recently completed the first major study of the use of lorises in traditional medicine in Asia and found a multitude of uses -- as a tonic for women after childbirth, for stomach problems, for healing wounds and broken bones, and in the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. Lorises are seen as “an animal with 100 uses,” akin to aspirin in Western medicine.

Anna Nekaris is a Reader and Course Tutor in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom. She is also a member of the IUCN/SSC Primates Specialist Group, the Conservation Working Party of the Primate Society of Great Britain, and on the editorial board of Endangered Species Research and Folia Primatologica. Anna’s main research interests fall under the areas conservation, ecology, and speciation, with her fieldwork taking her to Trinidad, Senegal, Utah, India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Indonesia, Uganda and Kenya. Although she has conducted fieldwork on bats, small carnivores (including civets and cats), mouse deer, and giant squirrels, her primary research focus is on primates. She has conducted many long-term studies of Indian and Sri Lankan slender lorises. Her current research project, on the diversity and conservation of Asian slow lorises, is being undertaken by Anna and postgraduate students in Java, Sumatra, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore and Malaysia, where at least five species of slow loris are found. The team is using morphological, behavioral and vocal analyses to uncover diversity within this group. She has written several articles on the loris trade, including in Endangered Species Research and the American Journal of Primatology, contributed an article on the Javan slow loris to the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Groups Top 25 Most Endangered Primates, written a book that includes myths and legends on slender lorises, and contributes to the Loris Potto Conservation Database. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on September 13, 2010.

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Rhishja Larson, founder of Saving Rhinos, discusses the illegal trade in rhino horn and what can be done to stop it. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that, because rhino horn has no real medicinal properties, this multimillion dollar illegal trade is built on a myth. Rhishja is trying to bust this myth – which in turn would eliminate the market for rhino horn. Rhishja also explores alternatives for dealing with the illegal rhino horn trade, including treating it as an organized crime with significant penalties and burning stockpiles of confiscated rhino horn as a statement to show the world that the animals are more valuable alive than dead. Rhishja Larson is a writer, activist, designer, and founder of Saving Rhinos. She launched the Saving Rhinos website in December 2007 to raise public awareness about the illegal rhino horn trade and the rhino poaching crisis. The Saving Rhinos website and its companion blog (www.rhinoconservation.org) provide a wealth of public awareness and education materials to schools, organizations and individuals all over the world and provides news, commentary, and insight on the illegal trade in rhino horn and the current rhino poaching crisis. In addition to writing her own blog Rhino Conservation: Rhino Horn is NOT Medicine, Rhishja has been a guest blogger on National Geographic’s NatGeo News Watch. She is also a writer for Bush Warriors, and has written for Green Options Media, focusing on endangered species protection and illegal wildlife trade. Her articles have been referenced and included in both print and online publications, such as Science News (Asian vultures), National Wind Watch (California condors), WildAid (elephant poaching), Bush Warriors (rhino poaching), The Rhino Print (Javan rhino), and International Zoo News (Javan rhino). This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on August 2, 2010.

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Pierre Fidenci, president of Endangered Species International (ESI), talks about his work to save “forgotten” endangered species. Speaking to “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme from the Philippines, he tells of his recent activities to save the rare Philippine Forest Turtle, one of the most endangered turtles on earth that is found on only two islands in the southern Philippines, and also to stop dynamite fishing in the country’s coral reefs. A common focus in ESI’s work is its emphasis on addressing the needs of the people that live within the habitat in order to achieve sustainable conservation of the endangered species you want to protect. Pierre Fidenci was born in Southern France, and at an early age was already involved in discovering, studying, and protecting nature. At the age of only 20, Pierre started Las Baulas National Marine Park in Costa Rica. At that young age, he also had already won multiple environmental awards including from Paul Sabatier University, the Nicolat Hulot Foundation, the French Government (Défit Jeune), and the Zellidja Foundation. More recently, he has received conservation awards from the Bp Conservation Programme, the Turtle Conservation Fund, and the Sophie Danforth Conservation Biology Fund. He has developed and directed conservation projects in South-, Central-, and North America, as well as in south East Asia, and Europe. His areas of expertise include amphibians and reptiles, applied conservation, biological surveys, and community based projects. Pierre is also a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC). This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on July 12, 2010.

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Jill Robinson, founder of Animals Asia Foundation, talks about Asiatic black bears, also known as moon bears, and discusses the practice of farming them for their bile in China, Vietnam and elsewhere. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the horrific conditions on many of these bear farms and what she and others are doing to save them. In one of the most poignant moments of the interview, Robinson reveals the amazing capacity of these bears to forgive, noting “you’d have to be someone like Mandela to be able to forgive that sort of imprisonment” and also that the bears rescue people as much as people rescue the bears, saying “These bears teach us to be better people. They teach us to forgive. They teach us to overcome our problems and difficulties.” Born in the United Kingdom, Jill Robinson arrived in Hong Kong in 1985 and spent the next 12 years working in Asia as a consultant for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. In 1993, a chance visit to a bear farm in southern China changed Jill's life. Starting with this visit, she’s worked tirelessly to expose the plight of endangered Asiatic black bears cruelly farmed and milked for their bile, and learned how easily herbs and synthetics could replace bear bile. In 1995, she secured the release of the original bears she had discovered in 1993. Then, in 1998, she founded Animals Asia and in July 2000 she and the Animals Asia team signed a breakthrough agreement with the Chinese authorities to rescue 500 farmed bears and work towards promoting herbal alternatives to bile and the elimination of bear farming. Today, the Moon Bear Rescue has seen the rescue of 260 bears in China and the opening of a new rescue centre for 200 farmed bears in Vietnam. To date, 30 bears have been rescued there. Animals Asia’s Moon Bear Rescue sanctuaries are spearheading far-reaching community, education and welfare programs, which benefit both animals and people alike. Jill is a former member of the Hong Kong Government’s Animal Welfare Advisory Group and has received numerous awards in recognition of her services to animal welfare in Asia, including the Readers Digest “Hero for Today” award, an MBE by Queen Elizabeth in the Birthday Honours List, the USA Genesis Award (which is the only major media and arts award concerning animal issues), and others. In 2008, she was named “Outstanding Earth Champion” in Hong Kong and was appointed World Animal Day Ambassador for Asia. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on May 24, 2010.

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