Archive for August, 2007

Year of the Frog

Friday, August 31st, 2007

Dear Friends

2008 has been declared the Year of the Frog to save the amphibians, according to the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).

They had better hop to it!  In an analysis of over 150 UK zoos, undertaken by Born Free in 2005, only 93 amphibian species were held and only 15 of these were officially classed as Threatened with Extinction in the Wild by the IUCN, World Conservation Union.

The record of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) is even less impressive.  EAZA manages co-operative regional collection plans for only 2 amphibian species…… while WAZA have just 1 !!!!

Meanwhile, a staggering 1,856 of the 5,743 known amphibian species are Threatened with extinction according to the IUCN. 

Quite clearly, zoos’ efforts so far are like a tadpole swimming the Atlantic compared with the size of the problem.  Frankly, what is needed is concerted and effective action in the field, particularly in relation to habitat protection, to avert a major wave of amphibian extinction. 

That’s where the $60m that WAZA President, Karen Sausman, claims is needed for the campaign (which includes setting up an “Amphibian Ark” captive breeding programme), should go!

What a disaster!  There’s more than one toad heading for this particular ecological black hole!!

Blogging off.


Five in a row!

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

It never rains when it pours!

Mountain gorillas being murdered in Democratic Republic of Congo – makes my blood boil. The loss of even a handful of these precious animals when there are only 700 in the world, is all the more distressing. Why would anyone do it ….. it seems mysterious and sinister. more >

Then there is the injury to Dave (Davina) the dolphin, off the coast of Sandgate, Kent. Apparently a propeller injury to the dorsal fin. It is exactly what we, and other marine specialists including WDCS and British Divers Marine Life Rescue, have been warning about. more >

Then there are the further concerns about TB at the Skanda Vale Temple in Wales where, along with various hoof stock, they keep Valli the elephant. Elephants are susceptible to TB.

and ……

As if this is not enough, our friends at OrcaLab, near Vancouver in Canada report an oil spill just off the shore of their research centre. Apparently orca have been caught up in the incident. more >

And then, today, news through from Russia that on 17th August, Customs Officers confiscated 500 bear paws, a tiger skin and skeleton, about 200kms north of Vladivostok. This is on top of the 283 bear paws and 332 tiger bones and more that were confiscated in January this year. It is total madness – how on earth can wild populations of any species sustain this kind of ruthless exploitation.

I am hoping to do blogs a little more regularly so apologies for the gaps – they are going to get shorter.

All the best and blogging off until next time.


Sad and mad !

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

Dear Friends

So, the Yangtze River Dolphin is no more – this is the finding of a six-week search by scientists in China who returned to say they could find no evidence of its existence.  This makes me sad and mad.  Sad because this unique species, distinctly different from marine dolphins, has gone and mad because it was humans that brought about its demise.  There were no Yangtze River Dolphins in zoos and I do not think it would have made the slightest difference had there been as the captive breeding of such creatures is extremely difficult.   

So, what can be done?  For the species, nothing – but for other species that are critically threatened by human activity, whether through hunting, poaching, loss of habitat, pollution or whatever, we can redouble our efforts to make sure that the Yangtze River Dolphin is not the first in a long list of species to disappear but is the last. 

And while I think of it, latest news from India where the Government has now recognised that previous estimates for wild tigers of between 2,500 – 3,000 animals, are likely to be drastically wrong and the real figure may be between 1,200 and 1,400, simply serves to alert each and everyone of us to the fact that if we want there to be wild tigers -  not stripy specimens in zoos and circuses – then again we have to do more.  The natural world is dying of death by 1000 cuts.  Human indifference, lack of commitment and lack of resources all play a part – do you know that burying 2kms of overhead power cable costs £20m, to build 1km of cycle path costs £0.5m or to bury the A303 so that it does not rumble past
Stonehenge would cost £0.5 billion?  Quite simply we have to start making difficult and different decisions about where we spend our money.  

Now I am feeling mad again! 

Blogging off