25
Apr
2011

The WildLife: Lead Toxicity in Patagonia’s Waterfowl, Marcela Uhart

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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28
Mar
2011

The WildLife: Nature in Iraq, Anna Bachmann & Hana Ahmed Raza

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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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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28
Feb
2011

The WildLife: Botswana’s First Wildlife Vet, Steve Osofsky

Wildlife veterinarian Steve Osofsky shares his adventures as the first wildlife veterinarian in Botswana. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme some captivating stories – like how he played “MacGyver” and used locally available materials to run medical tests on eland, and when he stared down an angry elephant who’d woken up a might too soon after being darted and entered his helicopter before he did! Dr. Osofsky worked for years at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas as the Director of Animal Health Services, where he cared for a variety of exotic game, before moving to Botswana in 1991 when he became the first Wildlife Veterinary Officer for Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism). Since leaving Botswana, his career expanded well outside the bounds of a traditional veterinary clinical career into a variety of policy positions, including at the U.S. Agency for International Development and World Wildlife Fund. Since 2002, he’s been at the Wildlife Conservation Society, first as that organization’s first Senior Policy Advisor for Wildlife Health and now as Director of Wildlife Health Policy. In addition to his current position with WCS, Dr. Osofsky is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland and has served on eight International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (IUCN/SSC) Specialist Groups. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on February 22, 2010 and was rebroadcast on February 28, 2011.

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21
Feb
2011

The WildLife: Wildlife Biologist Adventures, Susan Jewell

Wildlife biologist Susan Jewell shares her adventures studying wildlife throughout the East Coast. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about her trials and tribulations as she rehabilitated owls, cared for rattlesnakes, chased an escaped coyote, tracked the elusive bobcat, investigated the habits of wood storks and slogged after alligators. She’s a modern day “Indiana Jane” of the wild world who has researched wildlife from Maine to Florida by motorboat, airboat, canoe, airplane, helicopter, tree climbing, scuba diving, and muddy feet. She has worked for the National Audubon Society, the National Park Service, and others. Since 1992, she has been a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In her spare time, she is a freelance writer on wildlife and environmental issues.  Her books include Exploring Wild South Florida:  A Guide To Finding the Natural Areas and Wildlife of the Southern Peninsula and Florida Keys, Exploring Wild Central Florida: A Guide to Finding the Natural Areas and Wildlife of the Central Peninsula and her most recent, Gators, Gourdheads and Pufflings: A Biologist Slogs, Climbs and Wings her Way to Save Wildlife. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on February 1, 2010 and was rebroadcast on February 21, 2011.

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7
Feb
2011

The WildLife: Field Vet in Patagonia, Marcela Uhart

Marcela Uhart shares her adventures as a wildlife field veterinarian in Patagonia, Argentina. She reveals to “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme the difficulties of handling and monitoring the health of diverse wildlife populations, from elephant seals and southern right whales to penguins and other seabirds. For instance, how do you immobilize a 1-2 ton animal? If you haven’t been to Patagonia, you’ll want to visit this rugged wilderness that stretches from the granite peaks of the Andes mountains to the desolate Atlantic coast. There, southern right whales gather to breed, a sizable southern elephant seal colony makes its home, and the world's largest Magellanic penguin colony lives.

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 February 7, 2010.

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10
Jan
2011

The WildLife: Elephant Trauma & Psychology, Gay Bradshaw

Gay Bradshaw, author of Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach Us about Humanity, discusses the psychological health of abused and traumatized elephants and what can be done to help them. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that elephants are traumatized by a number of events – including mass slaughter due to culling (which she compares to genocide), translocation to repopulate new areas (which she notes is akin to deportation), captivity, and the breakdown of elephant society (from poaching and targeting the largest elephants) – and consequently the mental, emotional, and social wellbeing of elephants should be considered in conservation design and policy.

Gay Bradshaw is Executive Director of The Kerulos Center. She holds doctorate degrees in ecology and psychology, and has published, taught, and lectured widely in these fields both in the United States and internationally. Dr. Bradshaw’s work focuses on the theory and methods for the study and care of animal psychological well-being and multi-species cultures. Her research expertise includes the effects of violence on and trauma recovery by elephants, grizzly bears, chimpanzees, and parrots, and other species in captivity. She’s also established the new field of trans-species psychology, upon which the work and principles of The Kerulos Center are based. Her research has been featured in diverse media including the New York Times, Time Magazine, National Geographic, Smithsonian, The London Times, ABC’s 20/20, and several documentary films. Her book, Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach Us about Humanity, published by Yale University Press, provides an in-depth psychological portrait of elephants in captivity and in the wild. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 10, 2010.

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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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6
Dec
2010

The WildLife: Manatee Insanity, Craig Pittman

Craig Pittman, St. Petersburg Times environmental reporter and author of Manatee Insanity: Inside the War Over Florida's Most Famous Endangered Species, discusses manatees and the struggle to protect this endangered marine mammal. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme why manatees are so beloved and why these homely creatures are a flashpoint for Florida’s environmental debates. Did you know early sailors mistook manatees for mermaids? Or that the closest relative of the manatee on the evolutionary scale is the elephant?

Craig Pittman is an environment reporter for Florida’s largest newspaper, the St. Petersburg Times. Born in Pensacola, Craig graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where his muckraking work for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label him "the most destructive force on campus." Since then he has covered a variety of newspaper beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature. Since 1998 he has reported on environmental issues for the St. Petersburg Times, and in 2004 won the Waldo Proffitt Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism in Florida for revealing a secret plan by the state's business leaders to transfer water from sleepy North Florida to booming South Florida. The stories caused such an uproar that Gov. Jeb Bush scuttled the plan. In 2006, he won the Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding Investigative Reporting from the Society of Environmental Journalists and also the Proffitt award (with Matthew Waite) for the series "Vanishing Wetlands," which found that federal and state wetland protection programs were a sham that enabled development to wipe out swamps and marshes. He and Waite shared a second Proffitt Award and a second Carmody Award in 2007 for a series called "When Dry is Wet" that exposed the flaws in the wetland mitigation banking industry. That led to their book, Paving Paradise: Florida's Vanishing Wetlands and the Failure of No Net Loss. Manatee Insanity: Inside the War Over Florida's Most Famous Endangered Species, published by the University Press of Florida, is Craig's second book. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on December 6, 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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