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.

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.

Endangered wildlife art exhibition in London


Amur tiger, by Katya Krasnaya

From Wildlife Extra:

International Fund for Animal Welfare supports endangered wildlife art exhibition

An exhibition entitled Exposed by St Petersburg artist Katya Krasnaya, is open to the public at the Erarta Galleries London.

The gallery is dedicated to showcasing the work of Russian contemporary artists, and this exhibition is one of pop art and graffiti-inspired paintings of endangered animals.

The artist has used spray-painting coupled with fine art techniques to create animal portraits include the rare Amur tiger, beluga whale, hawksbill sea turtle, rhino and polar bear.

Krasnaya says: “Almost everything inspires me. I divide my inspiration into types. The first one is natural, when you see all the shapes of our planet, from animals to hurricanes.”

The exhibition is supported by animal welfare charity, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which has projects in more than 40 countries and rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and campaigns for the protection of wildlife and habitats.

As well as a variety of ongoing projects in the UK, IFAW is currently also engaged with a number of important campaigns in Russia.

For example, it has been working with local partners to release six Amur tigers into the wild in forests in the far east of the country.

IFAW also runs the Orphan Bear Rescue Centre and carries out scientific observational research on critically endangered western gray whales and threatened beluga whales.

UK Director of IFAW, Philip Mansbridge, says: “We’re very pleased to be supporting the Exposed exhibition at Erarta Galleries, to raise awareness of endangered animals in Russia and worldwide.

“The pictures are a contemporary interpretation of some of the world’s most recognisable but vulnerable animals.

“I hope visitors will enjoy the striking images, and feel strongly about protecting the real animals in the wild, and their threatened habitats.”

The organisers of Exposed say the exhibition aims to bring particular focus to the ever-narrowing gap between rural and urban landscapes and habitats, and is a contemporary reaction to conservation in a constantly developing world.

The exhibition will run at the Erarta Galleries, Berkeley Street, Mayfair, London until 23 May 2015. For more details visit www.erartagalleries.com.

New novel on Russia, USA, LGBTQ people


From New York City in the USA:

Cover
Novel cover
Come to a Launch Party for
VERA’S WILL
to Celebrate the Publication of the New Novel by Shelley Ettinger

Sunday, February 15
at 4:00pm – 6:00pm in EST

147 West 24 Street, 2nd floor, New York City
Reading, signing, a nosh
www.facebook.com/events/

Vera’s Will is a novel of tremendous insight, and tremendous import. Shelley Ettinger moves expertly between two compelling voices, between the recent and distant past, between the personal and political, writing with clarity and heart. Too many stories are lost to  history, too many voices are silenced, often the stories and voices we need most. Vera’s Will is not only a deeply moving book, but a gift, and a kind of rescue.”
Justin Torres, author of We the Animals

Vera’s Will spans the twentieth century and three generations, taking us from Russian pogroms to immigrant struggles, from family-ravaging homophobia to GLBT resistance. Ettinger’s captivating story is rich with social and cultural detail, alive with generously-drawn characters, and unflinching in its political passion.”
Ellen Meeropol, author of On Hurricane Island

Vera’s Will is a beautifully written family saga with a twist that tells the parallel stories of a woman and her granddaughter who are both lesbian. Their intersecting stories, one that begins a hundred years ago in Czarist Russia and the other that begins in suburban America, re-create in vivid detail their historical epochs. One is a story of self-sacrifice,
the other is a story of liberation; the author’s great gift is to show us how they intertwine.”
Michael Nava, author of The City of Palaces

Shelley Ettinger was born in Detroit and lives in New York City. She is a longtime activist in the LGBTQ movement and in anti-racist, anti-war and union struggles. Her short fiction and poetry have been published in many literary journals. Vera’s Will is her first novel.”
More info: shelleyettinger.com

Orphaned Amur tiger’s success story in Russia


This video says about itself:

Cinderella Story for an Orphaned Tiger Cub | WCS

21 January 2015

Dale Miquelle, Wildlife Conservation Society Russia Program Director, tells the story of an orphaned tiger cub named Zolushka – the Russian equivalent of Cinderella. Rescued in 2012, the cub has since been rehabilitated and reintroduced and is thriving in the Russian Far East.

From Wildlife Extra:

Orphaned, frost-bitten Amur tiger cub now thriving in Russia’s Far East

A starving, frost-bitten orphan Amur tiger cub, rescued in the Russian Far East in the winter of 2012, has been a success story for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

The female animal, given the name Zolushka, which means Cinderella in Russia, was found alone, her mother had most probably been killed by poachers.

On the verge of starvation, she was brought by hunters to a wildlife inspector of the regional Primorskii Wildlife Department and was treated by vets from the regional Agricultural Academy, who had to amputate a third of her frostbitten tail.

For 15 months, Zolushka lived in a Russian federal tiger rehabilitation centre, designed with technical assistance from WCS’s Bronx Zoo General Curator Dr Pat Thomas.

Dr Thomas made recommendations on facility design to improve safety and reduce the need for direct interactions between tigers and humans.

The key to this rehabilitation was ensuring that the tiger’s natural fear of humans would remain intact and that she learned to hunt live prey before being released by into the wild.

After growing significantly in size and strength, Zolushka began successfully capturing her live prey, including wild boar.

She was then released in the spring of 2013 into Bastak Reserve within the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, a region where tigers vanished some 40 years ago as a result of habitat loss, direct poaching, and loss of prey. Here she could continue learning how to be a tiger.

Scientists followed her movements with GPS and camera trap technology. They found clear evidence of successful predation on wild boar, badgers, and red deer.

“Zolushka appears to be thriving in her new home, and represents the spearhead of a process for re-colonising habitat once roamed over by her ancestors,” says Dr Dale Miquelle, Director of the WCS Russia Program.

“This story is good news for Cinderella but also for tigers overall, as she and her prince appear to be consorting in formerly lost tiger habitat.

“Since her release, an additional five more orphaned cubs have been rescued, rehabilitated and released also into this westernmost range of historical tiger habitat. All but one of the cubs seems to be doing well in their new environment.”

The exact population size of Amur tigers is difficult to estimate, but the official estimates suggest that tiger numbers have dropped to 330-390 individuals (from 430-500 in 2005).

This decline was likely the result of increased poaching of tigers and their prey between 2005-2010, a period when poachers took advantage of wildlife management restructuring and the confusion associated with those changes.

A full-range tiger population survey, conducted every 10 years, is scheduled for February 2015.

The WCS Russia Program plays a critical role in monitoring tigers and their prey species in the Russian Far East and minimising potential conflicts between tigers and human communities. WCS works to save tiger populations and their remaining habitat in nine range countries across Asia.