Snow leopard discovery in Siberia


This video is called Silent Roar: Searching for the Snow Leopard (HD Nature Documentary).

From Wildlife Extra:

Photo proof of snow leopards in newly created refuge in Siberia

Camera trap images have been taken of snow leopards in the newly created National Park of Sylyugem National Park in the Altai mountains of Siberia.

Aleksei Kuzhlekov, a national park researcher, reports that, “four pictures of snow leopard were taken at different times, probably of three or four individuals”.

The Saylyugem National Park was created five years ago to protect wildlife in that region of Siberia, especially the snow leopard and argali mountain sheep, in an area totaling 118,380 hectares.

The creation of the reserve was much needed, because poachers had killed more than 10 snow leopards in the area in the 1990s alone, to sell their pelts and body parts on the black market for Chinese medicine.

The snow leopard is in the endangered category on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species with as few as 4,000 left in the world, of which only 2,500 are likely to be breeding.

The head of the local conservation department, Igor Ivanitsky, adds: “We were able to place the cameras in the right place by painstakingly working out the movements routes of the cats.

“Being then so successful with our camera trapping efforts tells us that the park is their main home and hunting ground.

“Park staff have also found snow leopard tracks and scats (droppings) in several places around the national park, giving further evidence that the big cats are thriving in their newly created refuge.”

Dr. Matthias Hammer, Executive Director of Biosphere Expeditions, which assisted in the creation of the new National Park says he is delighted with the news.

“We spent ten years working in the Altai, researching snow leopard presence, building local capacity and trying to create economic incentives for local people to keep their snow leopard neighbours alive.

“When we started, there was no national park, little awareness, research or infrastructure, and rampant poaching.

“Now we have a national park, national park staff, anti-poaching patrols, several research initiatives, much more awareness and many ways for local people to benefit from the presence of the snow leopard.

“Poaching continues to be a threat, as is the Altai gas pipeline, but all in all this is a remarkable turnaround and success story, and we are very proud to have played our part in this.

“We’ve had many successes through citizen science voluntourism over the years and this is yet another excellent illustration of how citizen science-led conservation expeditions can make a genuine difference.”

For more information visit Sailugemsky National Park and Biosphere Expeditions.

Sea otters in Canada, video


This video says about itself:

Sea Otters vs. Urchins in Canada’s Kelp Forests

7 April 2015

“When you see a sea otter, they’re usually either eating or digesting,” often munching on urchins, says ecologist Anne Salomon, a Pew marine fellow. That’s a good thing for some kelp beds. Without otters to control urchin numbers, the spiky shellfish can devour the beds, leaving barren seascapes behind.

Fifty years ago, sea otters were so sought after for their fur that they disappeared from the Canadian coast. But now they’re bouncing back and—as seen in this video—competing with humans for the region’s shellfish.

Norwegian wolf poachers on trial


This video says about itself:

Wolf pups (Canis lupus) – Wolf behavior

30 May 2012

There were four adorable woulf pups, just one week old. The entire pack works together to care for those young pups.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Norwegian court to rule on six men accused of illegal wolf hunt

Landmark case pits survival of one of Europe’s smallest wolf populations against Norwegians’ cherished hunting rights

Elisabeth Ulven and Tone Sutterud in Oslo

Sunday 19 April 2015 15.33 BST

Six men charged over hunting some of Norway’s last wolves will learn their fate this week when a court rules on a landmark case that has gripped the country.

Illegal hunting of wolves is thought to be extensive in Norway, driving down population numbers to perilously low levels.

Now, for the first time, the authorities have prosecuted an alleged hunting team, charging the six men with environmental offences and organised crime, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 11 years.

“It’s such a serious offence that we were given almost unlimited investigative powers by the state attorney,” says Tarjei Istad, a prosecutor in the case.

The indictment includes attempted illegal hunting, firearms offences and organised crime. The prosecutor has asked for a five-year ban from hunting, which is something most Norwegians see as a birthright. The defendants are pleading not guilty.

All European countries except the UK and Ireland are believed to have a population of wolves, ranging from the largest in Spain, with an estimated 2,000 animals, to Norway, which has one of the smallest populations, with perhaps as few as 30. The grey wolf is listed by Cites as endangered regionally, though not globally.

“This is a question of attitude in certain hunting teams and communities,” said Istad, referring to audio surveillance of the suspects that revealed a lot of boasting about their hunts. He believes this court case is important to get the message across that Norway will not take illegal hunting lightly.

Petter Wabakken, an internationally acclaimed expert on wolves, agrees.

“Our research shows that half of all wolves felled in Norway were killed by poachers,” he said. “This is disturbing, especially considering that we have the smallest wolf population in Europe. Government policy has been to allow three breeding female wolves within an allocated area. This is not enough to sustain a healthy population.”

Norwegians are deeply divided over the management of wolves. Urban communities are generally positive about having large predators in their vicinity, while people in the countryside see them as much more of a threat.

Wolves tend to be targeted because of conflicts with human interests, such as competition for game, human safety and depredation of livestock.

“We can only conclude that poachers take the law into their own hands. It’s not licensed but illegal hunting that regulates the Norwegian wolf tribe,” Wabakken said.

Baby echidna recovering from bulldozer in Australia


This video from Australia says about itself:

Meet Newman the Echidna Puggle at the Taronga Zoo

17 April 2015

Newman was rescued after its burrow was damaged by a bulldozer, injuring the little echidna. Keepers have nursed the baby back to health and it is now thriving under their care.

More, including photos, about this is here.

British Prince William’s sister-in-law eats whale meat


This video from Australia says about itself:

Swimming with Dwarf minke whales on board Eye to Eye Marine Encounters

From Wildlife Extra:

Pippa Middleton admits eating whale meat in newspaper column

Pippa Middleton has recieved criticism from conservationists across the world for eating whale meat on a trip to Norway, which she recounted in her column for the Daily Telegraph.

In the piece she said: ”We dined on smoked whale carpaccio (which tastes similar to smoked salmon but looks more like venison carpaccio).”

Despite strong international pressure and commercial whaling being banned since 1986 Norway is still one of three countries (the other two are Japan, and Iceland) that still allows whaling and in 2014 had a record year when more than 700 were killed.

“This is really disappointing news, particularly as Pippa is so high-profile, and given how active her brother-in-law, William [Duke of Cambridge], is on speaking out against poaching and wildlife crime. Commercial whale hunting is banned, the UK government backs the ban and for good reason. Killing whales is cruel, there is no humane way to kill them and many are slaughtered using brutal harpoon grenades. Last season, 731 minke whales suffered an agonising death at the hand of Norwegian whalers.”

Pippa does not say what type whale meat she ate but the most likely one is minke, the second smallest baleen whale.

Philip Mansbridge, UK Director of IFAW, said: “It’s likely that Pippa Middleton wasn’t aware of the horrific suffering caused by commercial whaling nor the devastating damage that it causes to whale populations.  By eating whale meat, she is unwittingly setting a bad example that may encourage other tourists to do likewise. We would hope she acknowledges her mistake and will promote whale watching true to the slogan: meet us, don’t eat us.”

From Celebitchy.com:

“Pippa is not known for common sense or compassion, but it still beggars belief that anyone, let alone someone from a country like ours, where whale meat has long been banned, could be oblivious to the uproar over Norway’s slaughter of these gentle giants,” Elisa Allen, associate director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals U.K., said Thursday in an exclusive statement to E! News. “Does she think or read? What’s next, a panda steak or an elephant canapé? These whales are harpooned and bled to death before they’re gutted. If Pippa is looking for a culinary experience, some of the best high-end vegan food—recently named by Forbes magazine as a top food trend—can be found in Norway, and it’s good for the heart, an organ Pippa seems to lack.”

Russian gray whale Varvara, longest mammal migration


This video from the USa is called Gray Whale Migration.

From Treehugger.com:

Longest mammal migration ever recorded measures in at 14,000 miles

Melissa Breyer

April 16, 2015

And the remarkable journey is raising questions about the status of a critically endangered whale species.

In a study using satellite-monitored tags to track three western gray whales, a team of U.S. and Russian researchers recorded a stunning round-trip trek of 14,000 miles. The trio traveled from their primary feeding ground off of Sakhalin Island in Russia across the Pacific Ocean and down the west coast of California to Baja, Mexico and back home again.

One of the whales, dubbed Varvara by the scientists, visited the three major breeding areas for eastern gray whales, which are found off North America.

For a long time it was believed that western gray whales had gone extinct, but a small group was discovered in Russia off Sakhalin Island; they now number around 150 individuals and have been monitored by scientists from Russia and the U.S. since the 1990s. Meanwhile, populations of eastern gray whales were also in a tight spot, but conservation efforts have brought them back – today they are believed to have a population of some 18,000.

But here’s why Varvara’s visit to the eastern gray whales is interesting. Not all experts believe that the two species are in fact distinct, separate species. A number of scientists have proposed that western and eastern gray whale populations are not isolated and that the gray whales found in Russian waters are a part of an eastern population that is restoring its former range.

“The fact that endangered western gray whales have such a long range and interact with eastern gray whales was a surprise and leaves a lot of questions up in the air,” said Bruce Mate, director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University and lead author on the study. “Past studies have indicated genetic differentiation between the species, but this suggests we may need to take a closer look.”

“The ability of the whales to navigate across open water over tremendously long distances is impressive and suggests that some western gray whales might actually be eastern grays,” Mate said. “But that doesn’t mean that there may not be some true western gray whales remaining.

He adds, “If so, then the number of true western gray whales is even smaller than we previously thought.”

Does this spell doom for the western whales? Protecting them has proven challenging. Five western grays have perished in Japanese fishing nets within the last 10 years and their feeding grounds off Japan and Russia include fishing areas, shipping corridors, and oil and gas production – as well as future sites oil sites. But with this new research, hopefully fresh data and visibility will inspire some momentum in conservation efforts. With so few of these wandering giants left, and maybe even fewer than we thought, the time is now.