West African lions are different, new research

This video says about itself:

West African lion – Video Learning – WizScience.com

24 September 2015

The “West African lion” , also known as the “Senegal lion”, is a lion subspecies native to western Africa. Results of genetic research indicate that the Western and Central African lions form a different clade of lions and are perhaps more related to Asian lions than to lions from southern or eastern Africa. The genetic distinctiveness is particular of interest, since lions are regionally endangered in western Africa. With a total population of perhaps less than 1,000 individuals in all of West and Central Africa and no captive population, the West African lion is one of the most endangered subspecies of big cats.

Lions from western and central Africa are believed to be smaller than lions from southern Africa. It is also suggested that they have smaller manes, live in smaller groups, and they may also differ in the shape of their skull.

In the Pendjari National Park area, which is within the range of the West African lion, almost all males are maneless or have very weak manes.

The West African lion is distributed in western Africa south of the Sahara from Senegal in the west to the Central African Republic in the east. Another subspecies or North East Congo lion is traditionally described from northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Lions are rare in western Africa and may be critically endangered in this region. In 2004 there were probably only 450-1,300 lions left in West Africa. In addition, there were about 550-1,550 in Central Africa. In both regions, the area inhabited by lions has been reduced until 2004 to less than 15% of the historic range.

From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Lions in West and Central Africa apparently unique

10 August 2016

Lions in West and Central Africa form a unique group, only distantly related to lions in East and Southern Africa. Biologists at Leiden University confirm this in an article published in Scientific Reports.

Genetic data

In this study, the researchers gathered a genetic dataset of lion populations covering a total of 22 countries. This included samples from each remaining lion population in West and Central Africa, a region where lions and other wildlife are rapidly declining as a consequence of the increasing human population. The researchers managed to gather all the information by teaming up with other people in the field and local conservationists.

300,000 years ago

Based on the genetic data, it was estimated that the split between the two major groups that can be identified in the lion must have occurred 300,000 years ago. To explain what happened in their evolution, the researchers made a reconstruction of African climatological history. It seems that periodic expansions of the rain forest and the desert drove lions into isolated pockets of suitable habitat, where the different genetic lineages originated that can still be observed today.

Other mammals

This influenced not only the patterns we observe in the lion, but also in other large mammals such as giraffe, buffalo, hartebeest, cheetah and spotted hyena. A general pattern is emerging that shows that many large African savannah mammals show very similar arrangements, with unique lineages in West and Central Africa.

Reason for concern

The strong declines in wildlife populations in large parts of West and Central Africa are therefore a reason for major concern. The fact that this region seems to harbour a lot of unique genetic lineages makes conservation in the area extremely important. A delegation from Leiden University will participate in the IUCN World Conservation Congress in September 2016, and will lead a Side Event that aims to establish a Species Action Plan for West and Central Africa. The researchers hope that this will facilitate coordination and funding of projects in the region.

European Union helping dictators to stop African refugees

This video from Canada says about itself:

Protest – Ethiopian Student Massacre

9 May 2014

The Oromo community in British Columbia is deeply saddened by the massacre of our school kids under the Ethiopian regime. Unfortunately the [then, Stephen Harper‘s Conservative] Canadian government provides significant economic support to this murderous regime in Ethiopia.

Translated from Dutch daily NRC:

‘European Union aid to dictators to stop migration

Africa: European Union would offer inter alia Sudan, of the accused dictator Bashir, equipment and training to stop migrants

Koert Lindijer

June 9, 2016

Europe is considering doing business with African dictators to stop the flow of migrants, even while it tries to have those leaders on trial for human rights violations. …

Germany’s Der Spiegel and the British New Statesman recently received documents of a secret EU action plan. It is said to have been discussed on 23 March by EU member states. The plan proposed to provide Sudan with cameras, computers and other anti-migrant recording devices. Also border police would be trained at 17 border crossings. Finally, there would be plans to set up along the eastern border of Sudan, in the towns of Kassala and Gedaref, camps for migrants. According to human rights organizations, the equipment which the EU would provide to Sudan might also be used for internal repression.

In three years eight African countries, including Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda and Djibouti, would get 40 million euros from the EU to stop migrants. Ethiopia, extremely repressive like Sudan, would receive equipment and training to improve border controls and the ability to track smugglers ….

On Tuesday, the European Commission presented a more comprehensive investment plan for North Africa to stop migration. This plan does not include Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and Uganda. …

Now the indicted Sudanese leader is said to be lured with funds to stop migration on Sudanese territory via Libya to Europe. So Al-Bashir is back in favour, despite the arrest warrants issued by the ICC for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Darfur. …

With Ethiopia, the EU has been working closely together for years. Several months ago, the Ethiopian army shot dead hundreds of Oromo people protesters who opposed land expropriation. Ethiopia is one of the countries of the investment plan which the Commission presented on Tuesday.

African governments against poisoning vultures

This 2008 video is about African vultures. It is called Southern Africa Birds: Lappet-faced, White-backed and White-headed Vultures.

From BirdLife:

African governments commit to preventing poisoning of wildlife

By Shaun Hurrell, 3 June 2016

Moved by the plight of their continent’s endangered vultures and what this could mean for people, African Ministers gave their support to BirdLife’s vulture campaign last week in Nairobi at the UN Environment Assembly. This was further cemented by the approval of a new resolution on wildlife crime and trade that means African governments can now take action to prevent the poisoning of vultures.

It’s hard to think of a context in which you would use the word ‘poison’ without shuddering.

The thought of a murderous act, a tainted and corrupt ideology, or a toxic concoction itself – or even a malicious blend of all three – surely leaves no human feeling good.

But today we celebrate a use of the word in a positive context, which brings good news for Africa’s vultures…

Unfortunately the use of poison fuels African wildlife crime, and it is high-time action is taken. Thanks to a new strategy which the African Union, BirdLife and other partners helped developed, African governments can now take action to prevent the poisoning of vultures. Ministers have also given high-level support to vultures and BirdLife’s campaign to save them.

Africa has raised the stakes in dealing with wildlife crime and illegal wildlife trade. A hugely symbolic ivory burning took place in Kenya earlier this year for example, and mounting pressure (predominately regarding elephant and rhinoceros trade) has led to a recent key commitment by African governments to step up the fight.

Last week they took one step further, by calling for international commitment too, including putting in place relevant policy legislation to tackle wildlife crime and trade at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi, Kenya.

“It is abundantly clear that if we do nothing now, the health of our people in Africa could be at great risk,” said H.E. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union.

BirdLife has been working hard to highlight the plight of vultures and what this could mean for Africa – and awareness is rising considerably amongst governments – but international policy has yet to fully recognise that one poisoned elephant carcass can kill hundreds of Critically Endangered vultures too.

“We sometimes forget other species that play an equally important or greater role to maintaining our existence, but have as yet, not captured our imaginations and hearts,”

said Neville Ash, of UNEP.

BirdLife want governments to take action for vultures, for the benefit of natural ecosystems, human health and African economies. This is one of the reasons why a BirdLife team headed to UNEA.

“I really like vultures, they’re my favourite bird, but I haven’t seen them around for a while…”

said Hon. Amina Mohammed, Minister of Environment, Nigeria.

Vultures have been poisoned and persecuted

Between 2012 and 2014, eleven known poaching-related incidents involving vulture poisoning were recorded in seven African countries in which 155 elephants and 2,044 vultures were killed. In one incident in Namibia in 2013, 500 vultures were found dead after feeding on the poisoned carcass of a poached elephant.

“We are losing large numbers of vultures due to poisoning, some of it related to poaching of elephants. Government support and multi-sectoral approach is of essence in dealing with this crisis,” said Darcy Ogada, IUCN Vulture Specialist Group, speaking at UNEA.

Worryingly, there is evidence that the use of poisons to kill elephants and rhinoceros in sub-Saharan Africa is increasing. An increasing threat for large mammals, but also catastrophic for Africa’s endangered vultures.

It’s not surprising either, given that agro-chemicals easily available from shops and markets all over Africa are being used for unintended purposes of killing wildlife. One is nicknamed “two-step” because a creature takes two steps before dying.

Vulture killings are intentional too:

“Vultures are the sentinels of the savannah”, says Kariuki Ndang’ang’a, Team Leader for Species, Science and Information Management for BirdLife International.

“By honing in on a carcass far, far away with incredible eyesight, vultures alert Park Rangers to a fresh poaching incident. “Unfortunately this is a major factor in the demise of vultures too.”

It turns out that impudent poachers deliberately lace poached carcasses with poison to stop vultures giving the game away.

In the last 30 years, 7 of Africa’s 11 vulture species have declined by well over 80% and are now facing extinction. Poisoning accounts for 61% of the threats, with persecution for their body parts to be used in traditional medicine accounting for 29% – however in many cases this also involves the use of poison too (and also poses a human health risk).

Frightening figures, and a moral and social imperative to save them. This is why BirdLife called on African governments at a special event at UNEA to act – but not only for vultures themselves, but for the benefit of human health and the African economy.

Vultures are nature’s clean-up crew. In their unique niche in the ecosystem, they clear away germ-laden carcasses thus preventing the spread of Anthrax, Tuberculosis, Botulism, Rabies and other related diseases. A single vulture is estimated to be worth over US $ 11,000 just for its cleaning services. But by halting the spread of disease, they are worth much, much more to governments in saved health service costs, not to mention tourism.

Speaking at BirdLife’s Healthy Vultures, Healthy People event, Bradnee Chambers, Executive Secretary of the Convention on the conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) said:

“The African vulture crisis needs to be tackled urgently at the highest political levels.”

UNEA represents the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment, which culminates in resolutions and a global call to action to address the critical environmental challenges facing the world today.

“We are excited to announce some good news for vultures,”

says Ken Mwathe, Policy & Advocacy Coordinator, BirdLife International.

“Governments have now agreed to implement an Action Plan for the African Strategy on Combating Illegal Exploitation and Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa. This means African governments can now take action to prevent the poisoning of vultures, by applying available poisoning guidelines.”

After all, strategies mean nothing unless they are implemented.

The Minister of Environment for Nigeria, committed without hesitation at BirdLife’s event:

“The plight facing vultures in Nigeria has been effectively highlighted. My government will work with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (BirdLife in Nigeria) on a strategy and take decisive action.”

Furthermore, the words of H.E Rhoda Peace Tumusiime at the event capture African governments’ renewed desire to honour regional and global commitments on illegal wildlife trade. She said:

“The African Union Commission will remain committed to supporting member states and other stakeholders in addressing illegal wildlife trade including addressing the plight of our vultures.”

Keep following developments in BirdLife’s Vulture Campaign by signing up to our newsletter. Also download our infographics and share!

Poisoned to extinction: a bold new approach to saving Africa’s vultures. By Obaka Torto, 16 Nov 2016: here.

Animals saving their youngsters from death, video

This video says about itself:

18 May 2016

Top 10:

1. Cheetah saving her cubs from group of lions
2. Warthog Saves His Baby From Leopard Jaws
3. Female Wildebeest Vigorously Defends Calf
4. Wildebeest Defending Young from Leopard
5. Wild boar [or: other pig species?] attacking crocodile to save its baby
6. Buffalo saves calf from Lion
7. Buffalo saves calf from Hyenas
8. Deer [rather: antelope] saves calf from Cheetah
9. Baby Rhino Saves His Mother
10. Giraffe saves calf from lions