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In 2007 fellow Girl Scouts Madison Vorva and her friend Rhiannon Tomtishen embarked on a campaign to save the orangutan by targeting unsustainable palm oil production and the many products that use it, including Girl Scout cookies. Both young women have been featured on major media outlets and have won several awards for their activism, including the United Nations Forest Heroes award.

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Since she was in 6th grade, Rhiannon Tomtishen has been passionate about orangutans. As a Girl Scout, that passion led her to fight for deforestation-free palm oil together with her friend Madison Vorva. The story of these two girls inspires young and old alike and shows how simple actions can make a big difference. Now 19 years old, this eloquent young women shares her experience and advises us all to follow our passion.

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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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Helen Scales, author of Poseidon’s Steed: The Story of Seahorses from Myth to Reality, reveals the unusual anatomy and strange sex lives of seahorses. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that seahorses live mysterious lives, tucked away out of sight on the seafloor, and provides insights into their strange characteristics, including: kangaroo-like pouches for the males to bear the young, horse-like snouts used like straws to suck in tiny zooplankton, prehensile tails to grasp sea grasses, swiveling chameleon eyes and color-changing skin. Seahorses face many threats, including habitat loss and degradation and commercial trade. They’re used in traditional Asian medicine, and also sold as curios and as aquarium pets. Global consumption of seahorses is massive, with about 25 million seahorses sold each year. There’s so much we still don’t know about seahorses. For instance, we’re not even sure how many different species there are.

Dr. Helen Scales is a marine biologist, writer, and broadcaster who specializes in fisheries, habitat protection, and the international trade in endangered species. She has lived and worked in various countries and now lives in Cambridge, England where she works as a consultant for a number of conservation groups including the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Natural England, and TRAFFIC International. For her PhD from the University of Cambridge she studied the loves and lives of one of the biggest coral reef fish, the Napoleon wrasse, and its imperiled status due to demand from Asian live seafood restaurants.She appears as a radio host on the BBC’s The Naked Scientists show and on BBC Radio 4’s Home Planet. She also produces and presents a new podcast series, Naked Oceans, a fun and informative exploration of the undersea realm. In her first book, Poseidon’s Steed: The Story of Seahorses from Myth to Reality, she explores humankind’s thousand-year fascination with seahorses. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 17, 2010.

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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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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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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.

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Bryan Christy, author of The Lizard King, talks about the illicit reptile trade and his adventures researching this underworld. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the massive challenges in stopping the trade and also what it’s like to have a monkey (literally!) on your back. Bryan Christy is an investigative journalist and author.  He is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, Cornell, the University of Michigan Law School and was a Fulbright Scholar to the University of Tokyo Law School. His most recent story, The Kingpin, profiled illegal wildlife trader Anson Wong for the January 2010 issue of National Geographic Magazine. Before becoming a journalist, Bryan was a lawyer in Washington, DC specializing in international trade law and policy.  He worked on such issues as US-Japan Supercomputer negotiations, Norwegian Whaling, and sales of lightwater nuclear reactors to North Korea.  He also worked in the Executive Office of the President. Mr. Christy is the author of The Lizard King: The True Crimes and Passions of the World's Greatest Reptile Smugglers. In researching that book, he was bitten between the eyes by a blood python, chased by a mother alligator, sprayed by a bird-eating tarantula, and ejaculated on by a Bengal tiger. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 26, 2010.

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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 innovative 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” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 12, 2010.

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