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Machete in hand, Kenyan farmer Paul Njoroge points at the broken branches and giant footprints where elephants trampled his bananas, maize, potatoes and sugar cane. "We don't hate the elephants, but their activities are making us poor," said the 53-year old farmer, surveying his lush green fields, a five-hectare (12-acre) plot on the slopes of the Laikipia highlands in central Kenya. While poachers slaughter thousands of elephants across Africa each year, competition between elephants and people over land is a far bigger problem in the long run, conservationists say.
Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific said Wednesday it will ban carrying shark fin on all its flights, a victory for conservationists concerned for endangered species of the predator. The southern Chinese city is one of the world's biggest markets for shark fin, which is viewed by many Asians as a delicacy, often served as a soup at expensive Chinese banquets. Animal rights campaigners have been pushing Cathay for a carriage ban on shark fin for years.
(Reuters) - Two healthy baby giant pandas were born at a Chinese breeding research base on Monday, the first twins of the endangered species born this year, media said. The two females, weighing 144 grams (0.14 kg) and 113 grams, are the first offspring of mother Yali, who gave birth at the Chengdu giant panda breeding research base in southwest China's Sichuan province. Giant pandas have seen their numbers hit by human encroachment on the highlands where they survive almost entirely on a diet of bamboo.
A giant panda in China has given birth to two cubs, conservation authorities said, the first twins of the critically endangered species this year even though multiple births are common. Six-year-old Ya Li had the twin sisters last month at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in the southwestern province of Sichuan, it said in a statement. Ya Li was a twin herself, it added.
The Solar Impulse 2 aircraft soared Tuesday on the second day of its marathon flight across the Atlantic, one of the most challenging legs of its historic sun-powered journey around the world. The experimental plane, which took off from New York's John F. Kennedy airport on Monday, is being piloted by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, who is expected to spend between 90 and 110 hours crossing the Atlantic en route to Spain's Seville Airport. The voyage marks the first solo transatlantic crossing in a solar-powered airplane and is expected to last up to four consecutive days, depending on weather.
By Joseph Campbell YULIN, China (Reuters) - China's southern city of Yulin began its annual dog meat festival on Tuesday despite opposition from animal rights activists, as residents complained of new government measures to keep the festival low key. Animal rights activists this month handed Beijing authorities a petition with 11 million signatures protesting against the festival, which they say is cruel. Though there was only a small number of dogs on sale at the city's central market, several activists bought the animals which they would otherwise end up on the grill. "Dogs are man's best, the most loyal friend. You tell me," said Yang Yuhua, an animal rights activist who flew from the southwestern city of Chongqing to buy dogs sold at this year's festival. Yang spent over 1,000 yuan ($150) to buy two caged dogs at the market from the vendor. Vendors said that they hoped for good business this year. "They are a lot, a lot of people who like (eating dog meat).
Most of the 29 whales trapped in an Indonesian mangrove swamp on Thursday managed to free themselves or were gently helped out to sea as the tide rose, fisheries officials said. Villagers on the east of Java island helped fisheries staff free the pilot whales that became trapped at low tide. "Today, of the 29 beached whales, seven died, four were helped back out to sea and 18 were able to swim back themselves," the World Wildlife Fund said in a statement.
Eight pilot whales have died after a mass stranding on the coast of Indonesia's main island of Java that sparked a major rescue operation, an official said Thursday. Thirty-two of the short-finned pilot whales came ashore during high tide early Wednesday in Probolinggo, East Java province. "At first there were just one or two whales swimming near the shore, and the nature of whales is that if they are sick they will come near the shore," Dedy Isfandi, the head of the local maritime and fisheries office, told AFP.
The first trailers and official background for the Ubisoft title shows that the action has moved to San Francisco and that this time, the company has put a likeable protagonist front and center. In "Watch Dogs 2" a young hacker, Marcus Holloway must uncover evidence of vote rigging during an election campaign, and the only way to do so is to break into a congressman's penthouse.
In ancient Rome, they would have been pitted against gladiators or served up at banquets. Now a caiman, a python and a troop of monkeys that have been confiscated from mobsters, drug dealers or collectors find safe haven at a rescue centre in the Eternal City. Every year, Italy's police and forest guard rescue around 400 exotic animals, according to Raffaele Manicone, head of the local branch of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Animal rights activists calling for an end to the slaughter and eating of dogs at a Chinese festival delivered a petition with 11 million signatures to authorities in Beijing on Friday. The two dozen activists were accompanied by dogs and unveiled banners with pictures of the animals above the message "I'm not your dinner" as they presented the petition at the representative office of Yulin city, where the festival is held. The annual festival, which is set to begin on June 21, sees residents of the southern city consume dog meat with thousands of dogs expected to be slaughtered.
New Zealand researchers have captured stunning drone footage of endangered whales feeding off the Auckland coast, giving an unprecedented insight into the majestic giants of the sea. In a world-first use of drone technology, the researchers dispatched a customised "eye in the sky" so they could observe the rare Bryde's whales without disturbing them. "Never before have I seen anything like this," Auckland University of Technology (AUT) ecologist Barbara Bollard-Green said.
By Patpicha Tanakasempipat BANGKOK (Reuters) - From selfies with tigers to elephant rides and orangutan boxing, Thailand offers tourists an array of attractions that animal rights activists say are cruel and should be shut down. Wildlife officials discovered scores of dead tiger cubs while rescuing 137 tigers from a Buddhist temple last week, raising fears that other tourist attractions could be fronts for animal trafficking. The Tiger Temple was "just the tip of the iceberg", said Jan Schmidt-Burbach, a Bangkok-based adviser at World Animal Protection.
Conservation activists on Thursday showed undercover video they say suggests that a "huge loophole" in Japanese law enforcement is hindering efforts to rein in illegal ivory trading. Experts say most illegal ivory heads for China, where it is seen as a status symbol. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, banned international ivory trade in 1989.
"The traditional view is that mammals were suppressed during the 'age of dinosaurs'," and thus held in check, said co-author Elis Newham, a doctoral student in evolutionary biology at the University of Chicago. "However, our findings were that therian mammals -- the ancestors of most modern mammals -- were already diversifying considerably before the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event," also known as the K-Pg boundary. "I didn't expect to see any sort of drop," said lead author David Grossnickle, also of the University of Chicago.
A month-old Bactrian camel named Alexander Camelton at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo has become a social media star. The gangly brown camel has Twitter abuzz over his name, a play on Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States and the inspiration for the smash Broadway musical "Hamilton." "We've been very surprised with the reaction we've gotten on social media," Lincoln Park Zoological Manager Dan Boehm said on Tuesday.
Visitors flocked on Tuesday to the Cincinnati Zoo the day after prosecutors declined to charge the mother of a 3-year-old boy who fell into a gorilla enclosure, causing zookeepers to kill the endangered animal to protect the child. Hundreds of people got their first look at the remodeled enclosure, which the zoo changed to prevent a repeat of the May 28 incident that led to the shooting of the 17-year-old endangered western lowland silverback gorilla Harambe to prevent harm to the child. Emily Butler, 40, from Florence, Kentucky, who was visiting with her 8- and 11-year-old sons and other family, called Harambe's death "sad all the way around," but said they were excited to be at the habitat's reopening.
Myanmar authorities plan to shut down a notorious border town where exotic animal parts are sold openly, an official said Tuesday, as Southeast Asia struggles to stem a billion-dollar wildlife trade fuelled by Chinese demand. Mong La, a lawless border town located in rebel-held territory in Myanmar's Shan state, is a market for endangered species and products -- such as elephant tusks and tiger wine -- which are freely traded, largely to Chinese tourists. It is part of the "golden triangle," a hotbed of illegal activity, including drug, wildlife and people trafficking, that straddles Myanmar, Laos and Thailand.
The illegal trade of wildlife is a much larger, far-reaching issue than you might realize, and it's something we can't afford to ignore. Wildlife trafficking is one of the biggest threats to the environment, yet the realities of poaching and trade can be hard to picture — especially if you're a world away from the problem. SEE ALSO: 13 dos and don'ts when taking a selfie with the earth June 5 marks World Environment Day, which prompts us all to turn a critical eye to the state of our global environment. This year, advocates are asking the public to focus on wildlife crime, and the impact that trafficking of vulnerable animal populations has on our world. To shed light on where attention and action is needed, we've rounded up six illuminating facts that will broaden your knowledge on wildlife trafficking — and what you can do to make a difference. 1. Between 2010 and 2012, 100,000 African elephants were killed out of a population of fewer than 500,000. Approximately 470,000 African elephants are currently alive worldwide, making the species officially "vulnerable" on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. It's estimated that 96 African elephants are killed every day for their ivory — that's one elephant death every 15 minutes. African elephants are vital to the environments in which they live, notably responsible for the dispersal and germination of up to 30% of tree species in Central African forests. But they're poached for their large ivory tusks, making ivory poaching one of the most noted examples of wildlife trafficking. Though many countries, including the U.S., have recently taken radical steps to curb the practice, African elephants still need attention and support from the global conservation community. How you can help: You're probably removed from the habitats in which African elephants thrive, but you do have the ability to support these animals and the environment by supporting organizations addressing the issue of elephant poaching. The World Wildlife Fund is a leader in animal conservation, along with elephant-specific organizations like Save the Elephants and the International Elephant Foundation. You can also stay updated on the latest efforts to curb wildlife crime, and advocate for greater global legal protections, by visiting here. 2. The illegal trade of wildlife is worth $15 to $20 billion annually. That's a massive number with hefty implications. Wildlife trafficking — ranging from African elephant ivory to tiger skin and bones — is one of the largest illegal trades in the world, on par with the trafficking of drugs, arms and humans. The trading of vulnerable wildlife is unsustainable and dangerous, causing imbalances in global ecosystems and threatening biodiversity by throwing valuable and irreplaceable species into decline. How you can help: Support efforts to dismantle illegal wildlife trade. Campaigns like Stop Wildlife Crime and organizations such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare are working to increase awareness of wildlife crime, but are also taking practical steps to strengthen national and global conservation laws. Aside from supporting their efforts, you can also become an advocate on your own time. To learn more about the ins-and-outs of wildlife trafficking, find a good primer on the issue here. 3. Chimpanzees are now completely extinct in Gambia, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo. Chimpanzees used to flourish in these African nations, and now the globally endangered animals are nearing extinction in many other countries, too. Chimpanzees are essential to the biodiversity of Central African forests, acting as essential seed and pollen dispersers. However, only an estimated 173,000 to 300,000 chimpanzees exist worldwide, with only five nations housing significant populations. Poaching, disease and habitat loss are the main culprits. Some advocates claim chimpanzees could disappear in 15 years if we don't take action. How you can help: Give to those who are supporting chimpanzee populations around the world. You can give specifically to chimpanzee-related work via the World Wildlife Fund here, or give to dedicated organizations like the Jane Goodall Institute, which focuses specifically on the needs of chimps. You should also shift your buying habits. When purchasing wood and paper, for example, make sure you aren't buying products that contribute to the habitat loss of chimpanzees and other Central African forest creatures. Find more information here. 4. People associated with illegal wildlife trade have killed 1,000 park rangers over the last decade. When it comes to wildlife trafficking, park rangers don't just play an important role in curbing the practice — they're also threatened by the illegal trade. While protecting vulnerable wildlife populations through surveillance of poaching hotspots, rangers are often in harm's way. According to the latest estimates, one park ranger is murdered every four days in trafficking-related killings. In 2014, the majority of trafficking-related park ranger fatalities took place in Asia, with the majority of those deaths occurring in India. While countries around the globe have taken measures to protect rangers, it's still a wildly dangerous job to be on the front lines of conservation work. How you can help: Supporting park rangers means supporting what they're working toward — the conservation of vulnerable wildlife populations. Campaigns like Stop Wildlife Crime and organizations such as 96 Elephants work to support park rangers, taking steps to strengthen protections for both rangers and the animals they serve. 5. Pangolins are the most illegally trafficked animal in the world. Pangolins, sometimes referred to as "scaly anteaters," are widely trafficked because their meat is considered a delicacy in various regions. Their scales are also used in some traditional medicines to treat a range of ailments, such as asthma and arthritis. But the plight of pangolins doesn't end with poaching — the animals also suffer severe habitat loss. Both trafficking and environmental turmoil have left the animals critically endangered. Based on reported seizures between 2011 and 2013, an estimated 117,000 to 233,000 pangolins were killed by poachers throughout the three-year period. How you can help: The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has a specific group of specialists working to help the at-risk pangolin. To donate to its efforts, visit here. To find more groups doing pangolin-related conservation work, visit here. Another simple way to support pangolins: Simply bring up the animal’s plight in conversations around wildlife trafficking. The most illegally trafficked animal globally is often overlooked — and you can have a role in making its hardship known. 6. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing accounts for an estimated 11-26 million metric tons of fish each year. That massive amount of fish is worth between $10 billion and $23 billion per year. Overfishing has devastating effects on the environment and global economy, leading to a depletion of fish populations, price increases in the market and the loss of livelihood for fishermen engaged in legal fishing practices. Due to illegal and unregulated fishing, global fish populations have become severely threatened — which is a major cause for concern. Fish are a basic source of protein for nearly 3 billion people around the world. Threatening their populations not only threatens ocean biodiversity and health, but also the livelihood of global communities that rely on fish as nourishment. How you can help: Support organizations working to eliminate illegal fishing, like the World Wildlife Fund, Oceana or the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. But also take it a step further by keeping tabs on your own fish consumption. Start with this smart seafood resource, and then go global with these international resources. To learn more about the complex issue of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, visit here.
Animal rights activists are re-releasing a song by Prince to celebrate his birthday in one of the first reissues of his music since the pop legend's death in April. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals made Prince's song "Animal Kingdom" available for free download or streaming on its website through Tuesday, when the artist would have turned 58. Prince was a longtime supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which often relies on celebrities and stunts to press its cause.
(Reuters) - A county prosecutor will announce on Monday whether or not he will bring charges against the family of a 3-year-old boy who fell into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday, prompting zoo officials to kill an endangered gorilla to rescue the child. Cincinnati police said earlier they were focusing their investigation on the child's parents and family and that they had turned over the results of their probe to Deters' office for review.. The gorilla, a 17-year-old 450-pound (200-kg) animal named Harambe, was shot and killed by zoo staff after he dragged the boy around and was hurting him. The family said through a spokeswoman on Wednesday that the child was doing well, and that they had no plans to sue the zoo over the incident.
Thai police have charged 22 people, including three Buddhist monks, with wildlife trafficking and removed more dead animals including a bear and a leopard from the infamous Tiger Temple, authorities said on Friday. The temple in Kanchanaburi province, west of the capital, Bangkok, has been a major tourist attraction for more than two decades, with visitors paying 600 baht ($17) admission to pose for photographs with the tigers. Adisorn Nuchdamrong, from Thailand's Department of National Parks, said 22 people had been charged with wildlife possession and trafficking, including 17 members of the temple's foundation and three monks trying to flee with a truckload of tiger skins.