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.
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.
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.
Siew Te Wong, a Malaysian wildlife biologist and sun bear expert, divulges some interesting characteristics of this rare Southeast Asian bear and how they fit into the ecosystem. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how he became one of the first to study sun bears, which are the smallest of the bear species and also the least known. Did you know that sun bears consider beetle larvae one of their tastiest treats? When they eat them, the animals close their eyes and savor the experience, similar to humans relishing the yummiest of chocolates. Siew Te Wong also talks about his adventures researching the species, threats to these rare bears, his rescue efforts, and what people can do to help. For the last 13 years, Wong has been studying and working on the ecological conservation of the sun bear. He is one of the few Malaysian wildlife biologists trained in a western country. He did both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science at the University of Montana in Missoula, and is continuing for his doctorate degree there. His pioneering studies of sun bear ecology in the Borneo rainforest revealed the elusive life history of the sun bear in the dense jungle. Wong’s research has taken him to the most threatened wildlife habitat on Earth, where field work is exceedingly difficult. While rapid habitat destruction from unsustainable logging practices, the conversion of the sun bear’s habitat into palm oil plantations and uncontrolled poaching activities paint a bleak picture for the future of the sun bear, Wong is determined to help the present situation of sun bears in Southeast Asia. Wong is the CEO of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, which he founded in 2008. He was also a fellow of the Flying Elephants Foundation, which awards individuals from a broad range of disciplines in the arts and sciences who have demonstrated singular creativity, passion, integrity and leadership and whose work inspires a reverence for the natural world. Wong is also the former co-chair of the Sun Bear Expert Team, under the IUCN/Species Survival Commission’s Bear Specialist Group and a current member of three IUCN/SSC Specialist Groups. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on May 17, 2010 and was rebroadcast on May 30, 2011.
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.
Carol Foster talks about wildlife filmmaking. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme, how she and her filmmaker husband, Richard Foster, have constructed a special studio in the jungle of Belize that allows them to film wild behavior that would not otherwise be possible. For instance, they’ve captured a baby cantil viper wriggling the green tip of its tail over its head to attract and capture frogs, and also filmed flower mites hitchhiking in the nostrils of a hummingbird.
Carol and Richard Foster are documentary filmmakers specializing in natural history and the environment. Working out of their jungle studio, they have made films for the major networks including National Geographic and BBC. Both Carol and Richard are highly experienced at bringing to the screen the intricate hidden stories of natural behavior. Both have worked all over the world winning multiple awards for their work. They are currently using their skills to highlight the threats to the environment and nature by humans and climate change--subjects to which they are passionately committed. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 18, 2011.
Stephanie Vergniault, Founder and Executive Director of SOS Elephants, talks about elephant poaching in Chad. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that the situation is spiraling out of control. In just two-weeks, in February 2011, 20 elephants were killed in Chad for their ivory. All were killed outside of protected areas, making them easy targets. Vergniault notes that if poaching continues at this rate, “not a single elephant will be alive in Chad in three years time.”
Vergniault is doing all she can to stop this trend. For example, SOS Elephants has developed a network of 100 to 200 local people who inform the NGO about poaching activity, including providing positions of poachers or elephants. It then can alert Chadian government forces, (namely Mobile Forces of Protection of the Environment,) about the incidents. In fact, in mid-March 2011, government forces apprehended the poachers involved in the February incident. They also seized AK-47s, horses and 15 ivory tusks.
While in some regions tourism might provide an economic alternative, in Chad the prospects are limited because the elephants there have become so aggressive and often charge at people. “They are used to poachers,” Vergniault explains. “They have a good memory. To them, humans are bad.” As a result, SOS Elephants focuses on education and training in rural areas, discussing non-lethal alternatives, such as solar barriers or red pepper to discourage elephants from raiding crops and planting outside of elephant migration corridors. Vergniault knows that changing public attitudes both towards elephants and towards ivory is the only way to stop the killing, so SOS Elephants also spreads the word through sport. It’s NGO-sponsored soccer team, The Elephants, serves as an ambassador for the real elephants, furthering the message. It’s working, as more and more local teams are springing up spontaneously across the country.
Stephanie Vergniault is the founder and Executive Director of SOS Elephants in Chad. As a French lawyer specializing in elections and governance, she became passionate about her work overseas and traveled around the world to work in places like Nicaragua, Venezuela, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Ethiopia, Gabon, and Chad. She first came to Chad in 1995 to work with the government on electoral assistance. At that time, as a guest of the Head of State, she had a desire to see the elephants and was struck by their dire situation. When she returned in 2007, she was shocked by the massive slaughter that was occurring. That’s when she decided to take action and, in 2009, Stephanie created the non-governmental organization in Chad called SOS Elephants. SOS Elephants is dedicated to the preservation of elephants and their habitats in Chad and its neighbors. It works through a combination of methods including research, education, conservation and counter poaching actions. Vergniault now lives in Chad and works closely with local communities. One of the newest projects Stephanie has undertaken is building an elephant orphanage for the baby elephants who are orphaned after their mothers are poached for their ivory. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 11, 2011.
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.
Sharon Matola, founder and director of the Belize Zoo, discusses her work with tapirs and her fight to save Belize’s last scarlet macaws. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how her fight to stop the Challilo hydroelectric dam on Belize’s Macal River, which threatened numerous rare species, including the country’s last scarlet macaws, resulted in the government branding her an enemy of the state. This fight was documented in the book “The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw: One Woman’s Fight to Save the World’s Most Beautiful Bird” by Bruce Barcott. We also talk about tapirs and learn how one very special one, Tambo, is poised to become a true animal ambassador. This is the second of a two-part interview. Part 1 addresses what makes the Belize Zoo the “best little zoo in the world” and also her work with jaguar rehabilitation.
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 20, 2010.
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.