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Beijing has imposed a one-year ban on imports of ivory carvings, but questions remained Friday on its effect on rising Chinese demand, which critics say could push wild African elephants to extinction within a generation. The move comes days ahead of a visit to China by Britain's Prince William, who has campaigned against illegal wildlife trafficking and is expected to speak on the issue during a stop in the southwestern province of Yunnan next Wednesday. The measure took effect Thursday and was announced by China's State Forestry Administration in a statement posted on its website. China is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), but conservationists say it is the world's largest consumer of illegal ivory, with skyrocketing demand leading to the slaughter of tens of thousands of African elephants each year.
By Laila Kearney NEW YORK (Reuters) - The bat-eared, flat-faced French bulldog has earned a spot among the 10 most popular dog breeds in the United States for the first time in a century, the American Kennel Club said on Thursday. Topping the annual list was the Labrador retriever, keeping its title as the most sought-after canine for the 24th straight year, it said. Second was the German shepherd, followed by the golden retriever, standard bulldog, beagle, Yorkshire terrier, poodle and boxer. ...
By Courtney Sherwood PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - Oregon's once decimated gray wolf population has rebounded to at least 77 animals, and the wolves are now pairing off and breeding across a wide region, state officials with the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife said on Wednesday. Gray wolves, native to Oregon but wiped out in the state by an eradication campaign in the early 20th century, first returned there in 2008 and have now spread out to multiple parts of the Pacific Northwest state. “The wolf population continues to grow and expand, and for the first time we’ve had wolf reproduction in southern Oregon,” said Michelle Dennehy, spokeswoman for the state wildlife department. We also documented six new pairs of wolves, and 26 pups.” But as population growth triggers a review of state Endangered Species Act restrictions on harassing or killing wolves that threaten livestock, conservationists cautioned it remained too early to celebrate the species’ recovery.
Thousands of worshippers flocked Tuesday to a controversial "holy pig" festival in Taiwan which sees the carcasses of giant overfed swine on display, a custom deplored by animal rights campaigners. "In the past, many of the pig owners raised them on their own to show their respect and sincerity to the gods.
By Ed Stoddard MABULA, South Africa (Reuters) - In the South African bush, elephants are being trained in the art of "bio-detection" to see if they can use their exceptional sense of smell to sniff out explosives, landmines and poachers. Think about mammoths, which had to find food through the ice," said Sean Hensman, operator of Adventures with Elephants, the game ranch 180 km (110 miles) northwest of Johannesburg where the training is being conducted. In Hensman's case, he said his father was startled in the 1990s while watching a herd of elephants in Zimbabwe to discover that a female member of the herd had tracked him. Inspired, his father trained 12 elephants for anti-poaching patrols in Zimbabwe but in 2002 the family lost their three farms to President Robert Mugabe's land seizures and came to South Africa.
Bottlenose dolphins moved into the Mediterranean, once too salty to harbor much marine life, at the end of the last ice age about 18,000 years ago, a new study finds. "It is quite likely that the bottlenose dolphin hasn't actually been in the Mediterranean for long, in terms of the evolutionary time frame," said Andre Moura, one of the study's researchers and a lecturer of life science at the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom. During the last ice age, the Mediterranean was saltier and shallower than it is today, making it a difficult place for marine creatures to live, the researchers said. When fish and other sea creatures moved in, hungry bottlenose dolphins quickly followed, Moura said.
Morrissey, who canceled half of his US tour last year due to illness, will return in June for the Firefly Music Festival -- which will also feature a mystery headliner. Firefly, which was launched in 2012 in Delaware in a bid to create a major music festival on the US East Coast, on Tuesday announced a lineup that also includes Nashville rockers Kings of Leon, alternative pop-rockers The Killers and hip-hop icon Snoop Dogg. Morrissey, the famously dour singer whose poetic vignettes of life's woes have won him a cult following, canceled a month of US shows last year due to illness. A staunch animal rights activist, Morrissey demands venues not serve meat.
By Courtney Sherwood PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - For the first time, a fish has been removed from U.S. Endangered Species Act protection as federal officials declared on Tuesday that a tiny shimmering minnow found only in an Oregon valley was no longer in danger of extinction. Millions of the two-inch (5-cm) fish, the Oregon chub, once swam in waters surrounding Western Oregon's Willamette River. Fewer than 1,000 remained in just eight wetlands in 1993 when the chub gained endangered species protection. The fish's resurgence shows that habitat improvement and species recovery efforts can succeed even in areas heavily impacted by agriculture and urban development, said Paul Henson, Oregon supervisor with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service.
By Laila Kearney NEW YORK (Reuters) - A bouncy beagle and a floppy Old English sheepdog were among a handful of canines selected on Monday to advance in the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, a two-day event that draws more than 2,700 competitors from 15 countries. In its 139th year, the show is the second-longest continuously running sporting event in the United States, behind the Kentucky Derby horse race. "It's a beautiful group of dogs," said Colton Johnson, from Colorado Springs, whose three-year-old Old English sheepdog, Swagger, won best in his group and will advance to the finals. From perfectly coiffed Standard Poodles to small and sprightly Bichon Frises, 192 breeds were featured in this year's event, taking place at Piers 92 and 94 and Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.
By Laila Kearney NEW YORK (Reuters) - At New York's swanky Manhattan NYC hotel, an elite clientele mingled in the frosty air on a turf-lined terrace before retreating into a warm suite filled with fine food and doting handlers who saw to their every need. This was the weekend before the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, and some of the world's most valuable purebred canines were enjoying the royal treatment at one of three hotels that specialize in accommodating them before the big event. "He loves coming to New York. Manhattan NYC, an Affinia hotel, and two other properties partner with Westminster to provide both canine and human participants with a place to stay and a lot more.
More than 100 pilot whales that stranded on a New Zealand beach have died, conservation officials said on Saturday, voicing grave fears for more than 90 others from the pod. The whales beached themselves on Friday at Farewell Spit at the northern tip of the South Island, with dozens of rescuers racing to re-float the marine mammals on the evening high tide.