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.


The WildLife: Simple Things to Help Wildlife, Mark Fraser

Naturalist Mark Fraser discusses some of the simple things you can do to help wildlife--from less mowing to avoiding pesticides. Plus, he takes “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme on a "virtual tour" of New England forests to meet local wildlife. He reveals the special characteristics of fishers, coywolves, salamanders, songbirds and more so that you'll gain a new appreciation of what's in your own backyard.

Mark is the host and executive producer of “Nature Walks with Mark Fraser,” a conservation-based wildlife awareness program made for public television, cinema and online audiences. He is a self-taught life long naturalist and underwater videographer. He is also is the Executive Director of the Mark Fraser Conservation Foundation, a new non-profit working to raise awareness about the natural world through direct public education.  He has spent a lifetime studying the forests and fauna and overall biological diversity from New England to Central America and is a Public Environmental Educator at the Sherburne Nature Center in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts. His films have aired on multiple media outlets as well as at museums and nature centers. You can see his work on his YouTube channel (nwwmark), or at his website, www.naturewalkswithmark.org. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 31, 2010.


The WildLife: Reindeer, Nancy Bazilchuk

Nancy Bazilchuk reveals reindeers’ special adaptations as she describes her dramatic cross country ski trek across Hardangervidda Plateau in one of Norway’s most famous national parks in search of this elusive animal. Traveling the same route that nearly defeated legendary explorer Roald Amundsen, she tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the slow seasonal waltz from east to west as the wild reindeer let winter storms expose the lichens they depend on for 80 percent of their winter diet and also divulges whether reindeer really can fly.

Nancy Bazilchuk is a freelance science writer and editor living in Norway. She used to work the environmental beat at Vermont’s Burlington Free Press, where she covered a range of topics such as land use controversies, invasive species and hazardous waste sites. She’s written for numerous publications, including the New Scientist, Scientific American and Audubon Magazine. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on December 28, 2009 and was rebroadcast December 27, 2010.


The WildLife: Orangutans Part I, Michelle Desilets & Shawn Thompson

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. For instance, 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 a new book on orangutans called The Intimate Ape. Shawn is a university professor at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia, Canada as well as a writer.  As a journalist, he rode a Canadian submarine, tracked down a fugitive in the Dominican Republic and was voluntarily incarcerated for a weekend in Canada's oldest maximum-security federal penitentiary. In 2001, he went to the jungles of Borneo to see orangutans and discovered a new passion in his life. His latest book, called The Intimate Ape, is about orangutans and came out in March 2010. To write it, 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” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 5, 2010.


The WildLife: Wildlife Law Enforcement in Alaska, Al Crane

Al Crane, former FWS Special Agent, remembers his 30+ years in wildlife law enforcement in Alaska’s most remote reaches. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the many challenges he faced protecting walruses, wolves, bears and other creatures. He also discusses working within the Native Alaskan culture and how his involvement with the 1,150 mile Iditarod dog sled race, both as an organizer and entrant, helped him connect with the people and ultimately do his job better. Mr. Crane was a special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the first such officer stationed in northwestern Alaska. He worked with the state of Alaska’s Fish and Wildlife Protection Division until 1974, when he moved to FWS to implement the then-newly passed federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. For the next 20 plus years, he acted as supervisor, pilot and field operative for that federal wildlife law enforcement agency. He was also one of the early organizers of the Iditarod, and ran that grueling race in 1977. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 25, 2010.

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