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Iain Douglas-Hamilton reflects on a lifetime studying elephants and discusses the current surge in ivory poaching.

At age 23, Iain Douglas-Hamilton pioneered the first in-depth scientific study of elephant social behavior in Tanzania's Lake Manyara National Park. During the 1970s he investigated the status of elephants throughout Africa and was the first to alert the world to the ivory poaching holocaust. He and his wife have co-authored two award-winning books and have made numerous television films. In 1993, he founded Save the Elephants, a Kenyan conservation organization dedicated specifically to elephants. In 2010, he was named the recipient of the prestigious Indianapolis Prize, in recognition for his lifetime achievements.

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Anna Bachmann, Director of Conservation for Nature Iraq, and Hana Ahmed Raza, their mammal specialist, discuss wildlife and nature in Iraq. They tell "The WildLife" host Laurel Neme, how, after 35 years of wars and sanctions, Iraq's environment is in dire need of care and attention. In order to rebuild the country's natural foundation, more information is needed, and Nature Iraq aims to fill some of those gaps. This episode originally aired on March 28, 2011 and was reposted on September 12, 2011.

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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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Craig Welch, Seattle Times environmental reporter and author of Shell Games: Rogues, Smugglers, and The Hunt for Nature’s Bounty, talks about wildlife trafficking in Puget Sound and the massive illegal trade in geoducks (pronounced “gooey-duck”) clams. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how geoducks are more than fashionable seafood by providing an entrée into the dark underworld of illegal wildlife trade.  Geoducks are a species of large saltwater clams native to the northern Pacific coasts of Washington State and the province of British Columbia.They’re the largest burrowing clam in the world, weighing on average 1 to 3 pounds, and also one of the world’s longest living organisms, with a life expectancy well over 100 years. Harvesting them is difficult, as these clams bury themselves deep into the muddy ocean bottoms and tidal flats, with only the small tips of their siphons evidence of their presence. To show just how difficult it can be, the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs television show even went to a geoduck farm in 2006. Geoducks are prized for their meat, and are considered a delicacy in China and elsewhere. They’ve been featured on a variety of cooking shows, including Top Chef, Dinner Impossible, and Extreme Cuisine with Jeff Corwin.

A journalist for two decades, Craig Welch’s work has appeared in Smithsonian Magazine, the Washington Post, and Newsweek, as well as the Seattle Times. He has won dozens of local, regional and national journalism awards, and has been named the national Society of Environmental Journalists’s Outstanding Beat Reporter of the Year. In 2007, he completed a fellowship at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Craig has hunted seals with tribal fishermen in Alaska, hitched helicopter rides with scientists in the melting Arctic, prowled the Oregon woods for endangered owls, and tracked the development of Wyoming’s oil fields. In researching his book Shell Games, Welch got an insider’s look at a group of dedicated state and federal wildlife agents who have devoted years to cracking down on the lucrative trade in geoducks in the Pacific Northwest. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on August 30, 2010 and was repeated on July 18, 2011.

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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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Bestselling author Mark Kurlansky discusses his new book, WORLD WITHOUT FISH (Workman, 2011). He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how the health and future of fish and their habitats affect us all. He also provides tips on how anyone can make a difference. Mark’s 10-year-old daughter and fishing companion, Talia Kurlansky, vetted each chapter and helped her dad make sure that WORLD WITHOUT FISH contained no boring parts and would be equally enjoyable to children and adults. Toward the end of the episode, my 9-year old son, Jackson Neme, interviews Talia about her views on the book, marine life and what kids can do to stop overfishing.

Mark Kurlansky is a former commercial fisherman and New York Times bestselling author of Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, Salt: A World History, The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell, and 16 other books. He’s won numerous awards, including the ALA Notable Book Award, The New York Public Library Best Books of the Year Award, Los Angeles Times Science Writing Award, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. His articles have appeared in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including the International Herald Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, the Miami Herald, the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Los Angeles Times, TIME magazine, Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, Audubon, and Parade. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on May 9, 2011.

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Nick Marx of Wildlife Alliance talks about rescuing wildlife from illegal trade in Cambodia. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that since 2001, the Cambodian government has cracked down on the illegal wildlife trade with the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT), an inter-agency wildlife crime investigation and counter-trafficking unit of the Forestry Administration and Royal Gendarmerie of Cambodia operating with technical and financial support from Wildlife Alliance. To date, the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team has rescued more than 40,000 live wild animals, raided hundreds of restaurants, markets and shops illegally selling wildlife, set up check points on roads and dramatically reduced wildlife crime in Cambodia. Whenever possible, live animals rescued by the team are released back into the wild. But when the rescued animals need medical attention or are too young for release into the wild, they are taken back to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center for care. The Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center is situated less than an hour away from Cambodia’s capital of Phnom Penh and is currently home to over 1,200 animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade.

Nick Marx is Wildlife Rescue Director at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center. He works for Wildlife Alliance, a non-profit organization based in Cambodia and Washington, D.C. that works directly with communities and governments to improve forest management and institute good governance to comprehensively address the devastation of ecosystems and combat the illegal wildlife trade. Nick holds a master’s degree in Conservation Biology and has more than forty years of experience in animal care, especially with large wildlife. His animal experience includes large predators (such as tigers, lions, cheetahs, leopards), primates (including orangutans, gibbons), elephants, and other mammals. He has worked in park management, wildlife conservation, and animal care in the United Kingdom, India, South Africa, and Southeast Asia. He advises the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team on dealing with human-animal conflicts and providing care for animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. He has lectured and published broadly on wildlife conservation and animal husbandry, and appeared on global television broadcasts on BBC, ABC Nightline, CNN Planet in Peril, and other global media outlets. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on May 2, 2011.

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Anna Bachmann, Director of Conservation for Nature Iraq, and Hana Ahmed Raza, their mammals specialist, discuss wildlife and nature in Iraq. They tell “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how, after 35 years of wars and sanctions, Iraq’s environment is in dire need of care and attention. In order to rebuild the country’s natural foundation, more information is needed, and Nature Iraq aims to fill some of those gaps.

Nature Iraq is an Iraqi non-governmental organization to protect, restore, and preserve Iraq’s natural environment and the rich cultural heritage that it nourishes. It does this both by improving the capacity of Iraq’s institutions and developing scientific databases of environmental conditions and trends within the country. In this interview, you’ll hear how Iraq’s marshlands, which were destroyed by Saddam Hussein because they were the base of his opposition, have been partially restored and how Nature Iraq is working with the government to create a national park there. You’ll also hear how Nature Iraq is undertaking biological assessments to identify other key areas to protect and working to get Iraq to join the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Anna Bachmann is the Director of Conservation for Nature Iraq. Originally from Washington State in the United States, in 2003 Anna traveled to Iraq as a peace activist and subsequently moved to the Middle East to work on environmental issues in Iraq.  She has lived and worked in the region for the past six years, four of those years based in Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan (northern Iraq).  Anna manages the Key Biodiversity Areas Project focused on identifying areas within Iraq that are globally important for their biological diversity.

Hana Ahmed Raza is Nature Iraq’s mammals specialist. Hana was born in Kurdistan in northern Iraq. She graduated from the Biology department of Sulaimaniyah University about a year ago and then started working with Nature Iraq in the field of mammals. She’s the lead author of an upcoming report on "Animal Trade and Hunting in Iraq" and is the focal point of Nature Iraq efforts regarding the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). She also works on broader studies of mammals in Iraq. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on March 28, 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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Bryan Stuart, curator of amphibians and reptiles at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, talks about the dark side of the discovery of new species. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about his experience following his scientific discovery in Laos of a warty salamander (Paramesotriton laoensis) with striking markings. Shortly after describing the previously unknown species in a scientific paper published in 2002, commercial dealers began collecting the salamanders for sale into the pet trade. Particularly galling to Bryan was the fact that they used his geographic description as a roadmap to find the rare newt. This situation is not unique. It’s also happened with a turtle (Chelodina mccordi) from the small Indonesian island of Roti, which so heavily hunted that today it is nearly extinct in the wild. Similarly, a rare gecko (Goniurosaurus luii) from southeastern China was extirpated from its locality as prices in importing countries soared to highs of $1,500 to $2,000 each. It’s a dual dilemma. On the one hand, publishing new species descriptions may inadvertently facilitate their extinctions for commercially valuable species, yet on the other, the conservation benefits of describing the new species can outweigh this potential risk. Bryan recommends that taxonomists work closely with relevant governmental agencies to coordinate publication of the description with legislation or management plans that thwart overexploitation of the new species. In fact, Bryan and his students have worked tirelessly in this regard and, in August 2008, Laos’ Department of Forestry protected this salamander from commercial trade. Now the remaining question is enforcement. Note: Laurel first met Bryan while researching a wildlife trafficking case for ABC News Nightline that involved the illegal import of hundreds of these rare salamanders that were dried and destined for traditional medicine.

Bryan Stuart is curator of amphibians and reptiles at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. He received his Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in biology from Cornell University, a Master of Science (M.Sc.) in zoology from North Carolina State University, and a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Illinois. He also held a post-doctoral appointment at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California, Berkeley, before returning to Raleigh to join the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in September 2008. His research interests are in the biodiversity, systematics, biogeography and conservation of amphibians and reptiles. Much of his research has focused on amphibians and reptiles of the Old World tropics, especially Southeast Asia, where he has maintained an active field program for the past decade. He has particular interest in using molecular tools to define species boundaries and unravel their evolutionary histories. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on March 14, 2011.

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