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Archive for the 'wildlife health' Category

Dr. Steven Amstrup has been studying polar bears and their habitat since 1980, and much of what we know about them, and even how scientists study them, comes from his work. For instance, he was the first person to apply radio telemetry to the study of polar bears, which allowed scientists to understand the immense distances that polar bears travel, and that knowledge of their movements is vital to understanding polar bear ecology. He also developed studies to quantitatively describe denning habitat and developed the ability to locate dens under the snow with Forward Looking Infrared Imagery (FLIR). That allowed him to uncovered – quite literally – information about polar bear maternal denning. He made the unexpected discovery that over half of historic polar bear maternity dens in Alaska were on the drifting pack ice, and then, subsequently, he led work that showed that polar bears increasingly opted to den on land because of sea ice deterioration due to global warming.

Over the three decades he’s been studying polar bears, Amstrup has observed a profound change in their Arctic habitats and the threats they face, and he often speaks out about the need to mitigate greenhouse gasses if polar bears are to survive as a species.

Dr. Amstrup is currently senior scientist at Polar Bears International. He led the international team of researchers that prepared nine reports that became the basis for the decision, by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in 2008, to list polar bears as a threatened species. He is a past chairman of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group and has been an active member of the group throughout his career. Prior to joining Polar Bears International staff, he was the Polar Bear Project Leader with the United States Geological Survey at the Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, AK.

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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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Carbofuran was developed in the 1960s to replace more persistent pesticides such as DDT. Since then it has repeatedly been implicated in the mass mortality of nontarget wildlife, especially avian species. Conservationists worldwide have sought to regulate or ban the use of carbofuran for decades. However, this controversial product remains registered for use in a number of developed and developing nations. Its use in the United States has fueld an ongoing regulatory battle between the US Environmental Protection Agency and various lobby groups. Several significant obstacles, including flawed field study designs, lack of analytical capacity and a dearth of forensic evidence to support anecdotal reports have all contributed to carbofuran's remarkable staying power.

This presentation on carbofuran was made by Ngaio Richards at the Society of Wildlife Forensic Science's first triennial meeting in May 2012. It highlights key points and advances from the recently published book, Carbofuran and Wildlife Poisoning: Global Perspectives and Forensic Approaches.

Ngaio Richards is a Canine Field Specialist with Working Dogs for Conservation. She is a forensic ecologist and conservationist ans has authored numerous papers on wildlife monitoring and conservation.

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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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David Kirkby, veteran U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Special Agent, talks about wildlife law enforcement. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about two of his most prominent cases: smuggling of primates for research institutions; and Operation Arachnid, an undercover investigation into the illegal trade in tarantulas.

David Kirkby was a US FWS Special Agent for twenty years, from 1988 until he retired in 2008. Raised in North Canton, Ohio, Kirkby worked for years in the federal wildlife refuge system, starting in the west desert of Utah before moving to Montana’s Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge, and then the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge in southern Illinois. From there, he moved into US FWS’s law enforcement division, first as a wildlife inspector at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. That helped prepare him for another shift, as a special agent. In 1988, after additional extensive training, he began as a FWS Special Agent, with his first duty station in Montgomery, Alabama. Eventually, Kirkby moved back to Chicago, where he pursued numerous complex multi-year undercover investigations, including ones on primate smuggling and on the pet tarantula trade. This episode of “The WildLife” was posted on August XX, 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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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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John Roberts, Director of the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, discusses domestic Asian elephants in Thailand. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the life of domestic Asian elephants in the Golden Triangle and talks about the innovative approach being taken by a relatively new elephant camp at Anantara luxury Resort in northern Thailand that aims both to help these animals and to help their owners improve their way of life. John Roberts is Director of the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation and Director of Elephants for Anantara Golden Triangle Resorts and Four Seasons Tented Camp. He is a trustee of the English Registered Charity the International Trust for Nature Conservation (www.itnc.org) and acts as Director of the Thai registered Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (www.helpingelephants.org). He has also contributed articles to publications as diverse as Bird Conservation Nepal and Land Rover Monthly. He’s also director of elephants for the elephant camps at Anantara and Four Seasons Tented Camp, which have gained worldwide television and press coverage and together with the Foundation provide more than twenty-five elephants, their mahouts and the mahouts’ families with a living. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 19, 2010 and was rebroadcast on July 25, 2011.

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Jennifer Holland, senior writer for National Geographic magazine, talks about her new book, Unlikely Friendships. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme heartwarming tales of animals who bond in the most unexpected ways. While many of these interspecies relationships provide comfort, that’s not always the case. For instance, you’ll hear about a troublesome pygmy goat who teaches his friend, a pet hippo to escape their enclosure. Other times the stories are of predators who become friends with their prey—like the lionness who mothered a series of oryx, or the leopard in India who would slip into a village every night to sleep with a calf.

Jennifer Holland is a senior writer for National Geographic magazine. After finishing her bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1991, Jennifer worked as a coordinator and writer for a scientific magazine called the Journal of NIH Research and wrote freelance articles for Destination Discovery, The Learning Channel Monthly, and Discovery Channel Online. She returned to school and completed her Master of Science in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology in 1998 at the University of Maryland-College Park and then spent two years as a researcher at National Geographic Television before moving to the editorial department at National Geographic Magazine. There, a decade later, she remains with the magazine as a senior staff writer with a focus on science and natural history. At National Geographic, she’s focused on subjects such as amphibian declines, pollinator conservation, the state of the Great Barrier Reef, the geology and beauty of Hawaiian volcanoes, microscopic life under the Arctic ice, and the medicinal properties of reptile venom. In her role as a writer and reporter she has traveled to a dozen countries and has risked it all—flying in zero gravity over the Gulf of Mexico, scuba diving with tiger sharks, climbing the tallest tree in Costa Rica, and camping out with bushmen in the forests of Papua New Guinea. Her book, Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stores from the Animal Kingdom, was published by Workman in July 2011. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on July 11, 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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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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