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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

13
Sep
2010

The WildLife: Lorises, Anna Nekaris

Anna Nekaris, an expert on nocturnal primates, discusses Asia’s slow and slender lorises. She reveals to “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme what makes these creatures so special and why they’re sought after both as pets and as a key ingredient in traditional medicine. Did you know that the lovable, furry Ewoks in Star Wars films were modeled after slow lorises? But unlike Ewoks, lorises can’t jump or leap, which means they can only move through the forest canopy by using branches that touch.That makes an intact forest vital to their survival. Lorises are also one of the only venomous primates. They have a form of biological venom that’s produced by a gland in their elbows, which they mix with saliva to create a powerful toxin. These unique characteristics are what make them a sought after ingredient in traditional medicine across Asia. In fact, Anna and her research team recently completed the first major study of the use of lorises in traditional medicine in Asia and found a multitude of uses -- as a tonic for women after childbirth, for stomach problems, for healing wounds and broken bones, and in the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. Lorises are seen as “an animal with 100 uses,” akin to aspirin in Western medicine.

Anna Nekaris is a Reader and Course Tutor in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom. She is also a member of the IUCN/SSC Primates Specialist Group, the Conservation Working Party of the Primate Society of Great Britain, and on the editorial board of Endangered Species Research and Folia Primatologica. Anna’s main research interests fall under the areas conservation, ecology, and speciation, with her fieldwork taking her to Trinidad, Senegal, Utah, India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Indonesia, Uganda and Kenya. Although she has conducted fieldwork on bats, small carnivores (including civets and cats), mouse deer, and giant squirrels, her primary research focus is on primates. She has conducted many long-term studies of Indian and Sri Lankan slender lorises. Her current research project, on the diversity and conservation of Asian slow lorises, is being undertaken by Anna and postgraduate students in Java, Sumatra, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore and Malaysia, where at least five species of slow loris are found. The team is using morphological, behavioral and vocal analyses to uncover diversity within this group. She has written several articles on the loris trade, including in Endangered Species Research and the American Journal of Primatology, contributed an article on the Javan slow loris to the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Groups Top 25 Most Endangered Primates, written a book that includes myths and legends on slender lorises, and contributes to the Loris Potto Conservation Database. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on September 13, 2010.

30
Aug
2010

The WildLife: Geoduck Trade, Craig Welch

Craig Welch, Seattle Times environmental reporter and author of Shell Games: Rogues, Smugglers, and The Hunt for Nature's Bounty, talks about wildlife trafficking in Puget Sound and the massive illegal trade in geoducks (pronounced “gooey-duck”) clams. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how geoducks are more than fashionable seafood by providing an entrée into the dark underworld of illegal wildlife trade.  Geoducks are a species of large saltwater clams native to the northern Pacific coasts of Washington State and the province of British Columbia.They’re the largest burrowing clam in the world, weighing on average 1 to 3 pounds, and also one of the world’s longest living organisms, with a life expectancy well over 100 years. Harvesting them is difficult, as these clams bury themselves deep into the muddy ocean bottoms and tidal flats, with only the small tips of their siphons evidence of their presence. To show just how difficult it can be, the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs television show even went to a geoduck farm in 2006. Geoducks are prized for their meat, and are considered a delicacy in China and elsewhere. They’ve been featured on a variety of cooking shows, including Top Chef, Dinner Impossible, and Extreme Cuisine with Jeff Corwin.

A journalist for two decades, Craig Welch’s work has appeared in Smithsonian Magazine, the Washington Post, and Newsweek, as well as the Seattle Times. He has won dozens of local, regional and national journalism awards, and has been named the national Society of Environmental Journalists's Outstanding Beat Reporter of the Year. In 2007, he completed a fellowship at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Craig has hunted seals with tribal fishermen in Alaska, hitched helicopter rides with scientists in the melting Arctic, prowled the Oregon woods for endangered owls, and tracked the development of Wyoming’s oil fields. In researching his book Shell Games, Welch got an insider’s look at a group of dedicated state and federal wildlife agents who have devoted years to cracking down on the lucrative trade in geoducks in the Pacific Northwest. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on August 30, 2010.

23
Aug
2010

The WildLife: Wildlife Rescue Centers, Tracy O’Toole

Tracy O’Toole talks about the illegal international pet trade in Central America and what happens to birds, primates and other animals once they’re confiscated by wildlife law enforcement. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the challenges facing wildlife rescue centers and what’s required for successful rehabilitation and release of seized wildlife. Listen and hear how parrots rescued from the fate of being illegally shipped around the world must relearn to fly and hunt, why release sites are so important for success, and the psychological impact of the process on the animals. Tracy O’Toole currently serves as the Director of Wildlife Development Programs for the International Trade and Development Division of Humane Society International.  She oversees programs to build capacity in Central America for enforcement of laws to stop wildlife trafficking and for establishment and running of wildlife rescue centers. She also works on public education and outreach programs to combat illegal wildlife trade throughout the region. Before joining the Humane Society, Ms. O’Toole worked extensively in the fields of international development and conservation for various donor organizations including the U.S. Agency for International Development and Europe Aid. She holds a master’s in International Business, a B.A. in International Relations, and is fluent in French, Portuguese and Spanish. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 11, 2010 and was rebroadcast on August 23, 2010.