14
Mar
2011

The WildLife: The Dark Side of New Species Discovery, Bryan Stuart

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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7
Mar
2011

The WildLife: Aquarium Trade in Hawaii, 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” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on October 4, 2010 and was re-podcast on March 7, 2011. (There was no broadcast due to snowstorm.)

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17
Jan
2011

The WildLife: Seahorses, Helen Scales

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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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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1
Nov
2010

The WildLife: Life of a Wildlife Special Agent, Sheila O’Connor

US Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Sheila O’Connor reveals what it’s like to work in wildlife law enforcement. In the first of a two-part interview, Special Agent O’Connor tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about her adventures stopping wildlife crime—from tarantulas to elephants. (Part 2 next week will focus on what it takes to be a special agent and the specialized training officers go through.)

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 1, 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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11
Oct
2010

The WildLife: Hawaii’s Reef Fish & Aquarium Trade, Robert Wintner

Robert Wintner gives an insider’s view of the fishes he knows on Hawaii’s coral reefs. He reveals to “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme why Hawaii’s coral reefs are so special, how the marine aquarium trade threatens their future, and how Maui County’s recent legislation could lessen the negative impact. Did you know the Hawaiian cleaner wrasse, a prime target for the aquarium trade, sets up “cleaning stations” on the reef, akin to service stations on American highways? Reef fish then wait their turns for this unusual fish to remove its parasites and other debris. Unfortunately, once the Hawaiian cleaner wrasse is removed from its natural habitat, it rarely survives and other fish suffer.

Robert Wintner is owner of Snorkel Bob shops in the state of Hawaii, Executive Director of the Snorkel Bob Foundation and an advocate to protect Hawaii reefs. He is also the author of several books, including the most recent, Some Fishes I Have Known, a photo essay that provides an intimate look at a vast array of creatures of the coral reef. The Snorkel Bob Foundation focuses on near shore reefs, and Wintner has been the lead advocate for eliminating and/or regulating the aquarium trade in Hawaii. From 2007 to 2010, he led legislative campaigns at the Hawaii State Capitol and in Maui County, which brought the plunder from aquarium trade into the light of day. However, with what he sees as a grim reality of empty reefs facing the people of Hawaii, Wintner will continue his legislative efforts. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on October 11, 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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