13
Dec
2010

The WildLife: Belize Zoo & Jaguar Rehabilitation, Sharon Matola, Part 1

Sharon Matola talks about the “best little zoo in the world,” the Belize Zoo, and its jaguar rehabilitation program. Often referred to as the “Jane Goodall of jaguars,” Matola describes to “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme her work with “problem” jaguars who have killed livestock and how she trains them to be less aggressive. She notes that typically her rehabilitated jaguars have a health ailment that prevented them from successfully hunting wild prey and prompted them to turn to domestic livestock for food. This is the first of a two-part interview. Part 2 addresses her work with tapirs and her fight to save Belize’s last scarlet macaws.

Sharon Matola is an American-born, motorcycle-riding, lion-taming, monkey-smuggling Air Force veteran who’s fluent in Russian and an expert in jungle survival, mushrooms and tapir biology. In 1983, she started the Belize Zoo as a home for a collection of 17 wild animals used in a documentary film she’d worked on about tropical forests. Today, The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center has grown to about 170 animals, including jaguars, tapirs, harpy eagles and macaws. Sharon is best known for is her work rescuing and rehabilitating rare creatures and is often referred to as the Doctor Doolittle of Belize or else the “Jane Goodall of jaguars.” In addition to serving as Director of the Belize Zoo, she hosts a regular radio program on BFBS Radio in Belize and is author of several books, including a series about Hoodwink the Owl for schoolchildren, one about Junior Buddy, one of the zoo’s most famous jaguars, and another called Tambo the Tapir, which is forthcoming. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on December 13, 2010.

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28
Nov
2010

The WildLife: Orangutan Rehabilitation, Michelle Desilets, Part II

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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23
Nov
2010

The WildLife: Orangutans, Michelle Desilets, Part I

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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8
Nov
2010

The WildLife: Special Agent Basics - Training for Wildlife Law Enforcement, Sheila O’Connor, Part II

US Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Sheila O’Connor reveals what it takes to work in wildlife law enforcement. In the second of a two-part interview, Special Agent O’Connor tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the specialized training officers go through. (Part I last week focused on her adventures stopping wildlife crime—from tarantulas to tigers.)

Special Agent O’Connor is a veteran wildlife law enforcement officer, with over 20 years of service under belt. She began her career in wildlife law enforcement as a Conservation Police Officer for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, where she served for eight years. She then moved to federal wildlife law enforcement with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, where she was first posted to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and then to St. Paul, Minnesota. During that time, she investigated several cases that led to felony convictions for violations of wildlife laws. She was recently promoted to be a training officer at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (also known as FLETC) in Georgia. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on November 8, 2010.

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25
Oct
2010

The WildLife: Ocellated Turkeys, Jon McRoberts

Jon McRoberts from Texas Tech University talks about ocellated turkeys. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the special characteristics of this game bird and the challenges of doing field research in the jungles of Mexico. Ocellated turkeys are one of only two species of turkeys in the world (the other is the North American wild turkey) and live in a relatively small (50,000 square mile) area in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, northern Belize and northern Guatemala. They can live in diverse habitat types, from arid brushlands to mature rain forests, but little is known about their ecology and life history. Jon McRoberts will help fill that gap with his four-year research project in Campeche, Mexico.

Jon McRoberts is a doctoral candidate in wildlife science at Texas Tech University. He was the sixth generation to grow up on the family farm in Lewis County, Missouri and moved to Columbia, Missouri in 2001 where he did his undergraduate research at the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources where he helped care for two captive river otters and spent 8 months studying wildlife management in South Africa. He graduated in 2005 with a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife and was named The Outstanding Graduating Senior in the department. After college he spent time working in China with the Smithsonian Institution researching giant panda reproduction and conservation. Currently, in addition to his dissertation research, McRoberts is a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow at Texas Tech and is involved with a variety of additional research projects ranging from wind-energy conservation efforts to developing aerial survey methodology to detect wildlife. In his free time Jon enjoys hunting, fishing, live music, wild game cooking, following Missouri Tiger sports, and spending time on the family farm. Jon’s principle research project and the focus of his dissertation is the ecology and management of the ocellated turkey on the Yucatan Peninsula. He spends half the year in the jungles and agricultural fields of Campeche, Mexico and hopes to help conserve this unique species. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on October 25, 2010.

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18
Oct
2010

The WildLife: Financing Wildlife Conservation, Ray Victurine

Ray Victurine, Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Conservation Finance Program Director, talks about economic incentives to promote wildlife conservation. He describes to “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme a number of examples, including Wildlife Friendly certification and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) program, among others.

Ray Victurine heads WCS’s global efforts to develop sustainable financing opportunities that explore market mechanisms to meet conservation objectives and contribute to sustainable development in global areas of biodiversity importance. Additionally, he leads WCS’s initiatives to engage with companies and governments in an effort to balance conservation and development interests through mitigating and compensating for impacts. He is actively involved in the emerging markets for ecosystem services, including work on REDD, biodiversity offsets and water, as well as exploring development of other innovative financial mechanisms for conservation. For instance, he is President of the board of the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network. He has contributed to the design and development of a variety of endowment funds and conservation funding institutions around the world, including creation of the first land trust in East Africa. Ray's Ph.D. studies were in economics and geography and he also holds a Masters degree in agricultural economics, emphasizing natural resources and with a research focus on water resources management. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on October 18, 2010.

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4
Oct
2010

The WildLife: Hawaii’s Aquarium Trade, Rene Umberger

Rene Umberger, dive master and activist, discusses the marine aquarium trade in Hawaii and its impact. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that every year, over 30 million fish are plucked from their coral reef homes for use in the aquarium hobby, with over 1,500 species targeted. Nearly all, 98 percent, of these saltwater aquarium animals are wild caught because captive breeding is difficult, if not impossible. She also notes that the Hawaiian islands are a key source of reef fish for the aquarium trade because of its many endemic species. However, over the last 20 yrs, the state has seen declines of 14 to 97% of aquarium fish species outside of protected areas. Millions of Hawaii's reef animals are collected annually, although nobody knows exactly how many because collection reports are not always filed and none are verified against the actual catch.  In fact, experts estimate the true catch may be 2 to 5 times higher than 500,000 to 1 million fish reported.

Rene Umberger has logged over 10,000 dives as a scuba instructor and dive guide on Maui since 1983.  Her concern for Hawaii's coral reefs led her to develop projects to address impacts to these fragile ecosystems.  These include partnering with marine tourism, conservationists and educators to create interpretive materials and environmental standards for marine tour operations (which have since been adopted statewide). She’s also developed and organized, in partnerships with local fishing supply stores and the NOAA Hawaii Marine Debris Action Plan, underwater clean ups that have removed and partially recycled over 4000 lbs. of Ulua fishing gear from entangled corals along heavily fished shoreline sites. In recent years her work has focused on educating Hawaii's communities and leaders on the impacts of the aquarium trade and advocating for strong protections for Hawaii's coral reef wildlife. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on October 4, 2010.

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13
Sep
2010

The WildLife: Lorises, Anna Nekaris

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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2
Aug
2010

The WildLife: Rhino Horn Trade, Rhishja Larson

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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26
Jul
2010

The WildLife: Marine Aquarium Trade, Brian Tissot

Brian Tissot, marine ecologist, discusses the marine aquarium trade. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how the United States, as the world's largest importer of marine ornamental species for the aquaria, curio, home decor and jewelry industries, has an opportunity to leverage its market power to promote more sustainable trade and reduce the effects of this trade on coral reefs worldwide. The trade in coral and coral reef species for ornamental purposes is substantial and growing, with approximately 30 million fish and 1.5 million live stony corals removed from the ecosystem each year. The aquarium industry alone targets some 1,500 species of reef fish, and many die in transit, prompting collectors to gather even more animals to compensate for potential losses. With the United States accounting for over half of the ornamental trade in live coral, reef fish and invertebrates, Tissot and 17 other scientists are calling on this country to leverage its market demand—through additional regulation and enforcement, public awareness campaigns, certification of sustainable products, and assistance to spread best practices in source countries—to make the trade more sustainable.

Dr. Brian Tissot is a Professor in the School of Earth and Environmental Science at Washington State University Vancouver. His research is focused on the interface between biology, management, and policy and examines ecological interactions between habitat and commercially important marine fishes and invertebrates and the role of the community in managing marine resources. Through collaboration with state, federal and international agencies he is involved in a range of activities including basic research, research with implications towards resource management, and environmental policy development in Hawaii, Washington, Oregon and California. In Hawaii, he helped improve the management of an aquarium fishery along the Kona coast by being a part of a collaborative research program with state biologists and policy makers, SeaGrant extension, and the local community. On the west coast he is examining the role of continental shelf invertebrates, especially deep water corals, and how they function as critical habitat for commercially important fishes. Information from his work has been used to improve management strategies for coral reefs in the Pacific, west coast bottom trawling, and in the development of legislation in Congress. In addition to over 60 publications in scientific journals, Dr. Tissot's work has been featured in Scientific American, National Geographic News, Smithsonian magazine and in the Washington Post. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on July 26, 2010.

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