15
Aug
2011

The WildLife: Commercial Porcupine Farming in Vietnam, Emma Brooks

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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5
Jul
2011

The WildLife: Biology of Coral Reefs, Kristian Teleki

Kristian Teleki, SeaWeb’s Vice President for Science Initiatives and former Director of the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN), reveals some of the mysteries of corals. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the biology and uses of corals and how much we still don’t know. He also discusses the threats to coral reefs and what can be done to halt their decline. Kristian Teleki joined SeaWeb as Vice President for Science Initiatives in November 2009. For the decade before that, he served as the Director of the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN), a unique global partnership dedicated to addressing the serious decline in the health of the world's coral reefs. During his tenure there Kristian had oversight for more than 40 coral reef projects in 35 countries. Project activities ranged from livelihood diversification and resource management to the prevention and mitigation of ecological degradation of coral reefs through management, monitoring and public awareness actions. In addition to his ICRAN duties, Kristian established and led the One Ocean Programme at the United Nations Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre, designed to reflect the interconnected nature of the world's seas and its coastlines, the rich and varied biodiversity they support, and human reliance on its resources and services. Kristian Teleki has a diverse background in marine science and conservation, and his field experience extends from the polar to tropical environments. He is particularly interested in the relationship that humans have with the ocean and promoting the sustainable use of its resources. He has degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Cambridge University. He also is on the Editorial Board of Aquatic Conservation, is a member of the Resource Users Group for the European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA) and is a Steering Committee member of the Global Islands Partnership and the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on May 3, 2010 and was repeated on July 4, 2011.

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8
Aug
2011

The WildLife: Sounds of Orca Whales, Ari Daniel Shapiro

Ari Daniel Shapiro, a wildlife biologist and radio contributor, shares his research on the vocalizations of killer whales. He reveals to “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme a number of interesting facts about the sounds of killer whales. Did you know they use both high and low frequencies in the same vocalization? He’ll also divulge what it’s really like to undertake this demanding kind of research in remote and frigid locales. While earning his PhD in biological oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Ari Daniel Shapiro studied the vocalizations of killer whales in Norway. Now he uses his own voice and knowledge to tell stories about science on radio and other media. He's a regular contributor to a variety of national public radio programs and the host of both the Podcast of Life and Ocean Gazing. You can find the video on Ari’s killer whale research discussed in this interview as well as other material on his website, www.aridanielshapiro.com. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on March 29, 2010.

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27
Jun
2011

The WildLife: Howler Monkeys, Robin Brockett

Robin Brockett, former director of the Wildlife Care Center in Belize, talks about howler monkeys in Belize. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how her research into their diet and habits has helped her with rehabilitate howler monkeys captured as pets for release back into the wild.

Howler monkeys are the loudest land animal in the world. They’re known for their loud, guttural, barking howls, which can be heard over three miles away. But did you know that they smell like steeped black tea? Or that they are picky eaters? While howler monkeys in Belize will eat 75 different species of leaves, they’re very particular about the age of the leaves. There are only a few types of leaves they’ll eat year-round. For example, (ficus) fig leaves appear the same all year long but sometimes the howlers will avoid it. That’s because these leaves have a high latex content, and at some point it becomes less palatable and less digestible.

Robin Brockett spent 16 years in Belize first researching howler monkeys in the wild and then spearheading the rehabilitation of confiscated pets back into the wild. Her work led to establishment of the Wildlife Care Center of Belize in 1999, where she served as director for over a decade. Over that time, Robin has nursed and released over 30 howler monkeys back into the wild. Before moving to Belize, Robin Brockett was a primate keeper at Zoo Atlanta for three years where she became involved in behavioral research.  Prior to that, Robin spent three years at the Bronx Zoo in both the bird and mammal departments and also time in zookeeper positions at the Franklin Park Children's Zoo and the New England Science Center.  She’s currently Assistant Bird Curator with the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.  She still works with the Belize government on issues related to the pet trade. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on June 27, 2011.

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13
Jun
2011

The WildLife: Dung Beetles, Doug Emlen

Doug Emlen, a University of Montana biology professor, reveals the strange and endearing characteristics of dung beetles. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about their unique biology and diversity and how the varied shapes of their horns affect their lifestyle. Doug Emlen is a professor of biology at the University of Montana and an expert on the evolution and development of bizarre and extreme morphology of insects. Always interested in animal armaments, he became a dung beetle aficionado after studying a Panamanian dung beetle specializing in howler monkey scat. Since then, he has broadened his research to dung beetles all over the world and has noticed interesting patterns in their weaponry. He has expanded his focus to explore the evolutionary forces that make animal weapons, from dung beetle horns to elk antlers to rhino horns, so diverse. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on June 7, 2010 and was rebroadcast on June 13, 2011.

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6
Jun
2011

The WildLife: Common Terns, Chris Boget

Chris Boget, Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Land Trust talks about common terns and land conservation. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how the Common Tern is one of Vermont’s greatest wildlife conservation victories, due to protection of its breeding habitat.

While common terns are the most widespread tern in North America, in many states, including Vermont, they’re threatened or endangered. Habitat loss from either human activities, erosion or even gulls and other critters taking over has led to the concentration of colonies on a smaller number of suitable nesting sites. Consequently, more and more often common terns were nesting at marginal locations where the quality of their habitat was low and the risk of predation – from raccoons, skunks, opossums, gulls and even ants – is high. In Vermont’s Lake Champlain basin, for example, the number of common terns dropped from almost 400 nesting pairs in the 1960s to only 50 in 1988. As a result, in 1989 the Common Tern was placed on the state of Vermont’s endangered species list.

Common Terns are extremely sensitive to disturbance during the breeding season. Adults will attack human intruders in the nesting colonies, often striking them on the head with their bills. The problem is that, the more they have to protect their chicks from intruders, the less time and energy they have to care for their young. The Lake Champlain Land Trust recognized that problem early on and, since 1978, worked to permanently conserve and protect several important Common Tern nesting islands in Lake Champlain. It started by reaching out to the landowners of the few islands with nesting Common Terns and educating them about the value of the birds and the problems they face. The Lake Champlain Land Trust then led the effort to purchase and protect the only possible island habitats for terns. Through the protection of breeding habitat, along with continual monitoring and management efforts of its partners at the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, Green Mountain Audubon Society and Audubon Vermont, the story of the Common Tern is now one of Vermont’s greatest wildlife conservation victories. Their numbers have soared by over 300 percent, from just 50 breeding pairs at the end of the 1980’s to close to 200 today.

Chris Boget, is the Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Land Trust. The mission of the Lake Champlain Land Trust is to save the scenic beauty, natural communities, and recreational amenities of Lake Champlain by permanently preserving significant islands, shoreline areas, and natural communities in the Champlain Region. Chris Boget has more than twenty years of experience in land conservation, including positions with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Vermont Land Trust, and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Before becoming Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Land Trust, he previously served as their Director of Land Protection and also as Assistant Director. Chris has extensive experience with landowner outreach and education. He received a Master of Science degree in Natural Resource Planning from the University of Vermont and an undergraduate degree in Biology from the College of William and Mary. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont aired on June 6, 2011.

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1
Aug
2011

The WildLife: Once and Future Giants, Sharon Levy

Sharon Levy, author of Once and Future Giants, discusses what Ice Age extinctions teach us to help today’s megafauna, like elephants and bears, avoid the same fate. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that North America was home to a menagerie of massive mammals, like mammoths, mastodons, camels, giant beavers, sloths and lions, until about 13,000 years ago, when the first humans reached the Americas. She notes that today’s large mammals face an intensified replay of that great die-off, and that these large animals need to be able to move in times when they need to adapt to a changing climate.

Sharon Levy is the author Once and Future Giants: What Ice Age extinctions Tell Us About the Fate of Earth's Largest Animals. For the past nineteen years, she’s covered environmental issues of all kinds, including the ecology of top predators, bioengineered mosquitoes, and archaeological evidence of ancient human impacts on wildlife and fisheries. She is a contributing editor at OnEarth magazine, and writes regularly for National Wildlife, BioScience, Audubon and the New Scientist.  Her work has also appeared in Natural History, Nature, Wildlife Conservation, High Country News and Discovery Channel Online. This episode of “The WildLife” was posted on August 1, 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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25
Apr
2011

The WildLife: Lead Toxicity in Patagonia’s Waterfowl, Marcela Uhart

Marcela Uhart, Wildlife Conservation Society’s field veterinarian in Patagonia, Argentina, talks about the impact of lead ammunition on wildlife. She reveals to “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how spent ammunition remains in the environment where it can then be ingested by animals, especially waterfowl. Because they have no teeth, these birds swallow stones and seeds whole to help grind the food in their stomachs.

Argentina is known for its waterfowl hunting, and every year the number of birds killed is huge. However, switching from lead shot is a slow process because hunters have to accept the new ammunition and lead-free alternatives have to be available. In the United States, lead shot to hunt waterfowl in wetlands has been banned since 1991. This regulation came about mostly because bald eagles that preyed on the waterfowl were being poisoned. In addition, there are some more localized bans. For instance, California has banned the use of lead ammunition in the range of the endangered California Condor and Arizona has a voluntary ban. Also, early in 2010, the National Park Service announced a plan to ban lead ammunition and fishing tackle in the parks. Currently, twenty-nine other countries have adopted voluntary or legislative restrictions, with some of the most aggressive regulations having been adopted in Europe.

Dr. Uhart is trying to get similar restrictions in Argentina by studying the impact of lead pellets on waterfowl in Patagonia. Her research on recently-killed ducks has found lead in their blood, which indicates recent exposure, and their bones, which shows lead accumulation over time. Because she is sampling ducks who were healthy enough to fly and be shot, her research probably underestimates the full effects of lead toxicity. Consequently, her next step will be to assess sub-lethal impacts, such as changes in bone density.

Born and raised on a ranch in the Argentine pampas, Marcela Uhart has been a veterinarian with the Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) Field Veterinary Program since 1996. She spends much of her time in the field and often collaborates with numerous non-governmental organizations and researchers in Argentina while providing veterinary expertise in wildlife handling and immobilizations, translocations and health monitoring of wildlife populations. She has worked on a variety of species, including sea lions, elephant seals, penguins, small carnivores, caiman and raptors, as well as "agricultural-conflictive" species such as rheas, large rodents and large ungulates, including guanaco and pampas deer. Marcela has helped to introduce new policy measures to benefit wildlife, such as the establishment of a program to control agricultural pesticide use, implemented with the support and endorsement of an Argentine government research agency known as INTA. Marcela also acts as a consultant to field researchers and local conservation groups and has traveled to Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and other Latin American countries to provide her services. In November 1998, she became one of the founding members of the first Association of Latin American Wildlife Veterinarians. She is also the IUCN’s Wildlife Health Specialist Group (WHSG) coordinator for South America. In this role she hopes to reinforce and revitalize the relationship between wildlife specialists from the developed and developing nations. In fact, since she started at WCS, Marcela has worked tirelessly to address the critical shortage of training opportunities for young veterinarians in Latin America. Professional outreach remains a major focus of her work, as does collaborating with local universities and leading workshops in several Latin American countries. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 25, 2010.

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18
Apr
2011

The WildLife: Filmmaking from Jungle Studio in Belize, Carol Foster

Carol Foster talks about wildlife filmmaking. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme, how she and her filmmaker husband, Richard Foster, have constructed a special studio in the jungle of Belize that allows them to film wild behavior that would not otherwise be possible. For instance, they’ve captured a baby cantil viper wriggling the green tip of its tail over its head to attract and capture frogs, and also filmed flower mites hitchhiking in the nostrils of a hummingbird.

Carol and Richard Foster are documentary filmmakers specializing in natural history and the environment. Working out of their jungle studio, they have made films for the major networks including National Geographic and BBC. Both Carol and Richard are highly experienced at bringing to the screen the intricate hidden stories of natural behavior. Both have worked all over the world winning multiple awards for their work. They are currently using their skills to highlight the threats to the environment and nature by humans and climate change--subjects to which they are passionately committed. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 18, 2011.

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4
Apr
2011

The WildLife: Winged Obsession, Jessica Speart

Jessica Speart, author of Winged Obsession: The Pursuit of the World's Most Notorious Butterfly Smuggler, discusses illegal trade of rare butterflies. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the real-life characters in her book: Yoshi Kojima, the world’s most wanted butterfly smuggler, and the rookie US Fish and Wildlife agent, Ed Newcomer, who finally brings him down. The trade in rare butterfly species is a lucrative business. While there is much trade that is legal, the illegal butterfly trade could be worth up to $200 million each year. “Butterfly collectors with the financial means will do whatever necessary to obtain the specimens they want,” Speart says. For some, it’s like stamp collecting. For others, it’s the equivalent of collecting a Renoir or Van Gogh.

 

While habitat loss is the most significant threat to butterflies, poaching adds to the stress on these delicate insects – so much so that when criminals target the rare species, extinction becomes a real possibility. Butterfly poachers often pursue the most endangered species, and many prowl national parks where they collect butterfly eggs to raise in a controlled environment. They do this so that they can end up with perfect specimens—and a higher price. Whenever the wings are damaged, the value of the butterfly drops dramatically. As Speart describes in this interview, “The way you get a perfect specimen is to kill them shortly after they’re born.” There’s no other way to make sure its wings remain unused and in perfect condition.

 

Jessica Speart is a freelance journalist specializing in wildlife enforcement issues. She's been published in the New York Times Magazine, OMNI, Travel + Leisure, Audubon, National Wildlife, Mother Jones, Delta's Sky magazine, and many others. She is also the author of ten crime novels featuring the fictional character of US Fish and Wildlife Service special agent Rachel Porter. Rachel has an unwavering devotion to tracking down the enemies of rare and endangered species and, in each book, solves a mystery focused around real world wildlife crimes. Her most recent book, Winged Obsession, is Jessica’s first non-fiction book.  This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 4, 2011.

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