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Blue-throated Macaw numbers only about 300 in the wild – but it’s hoped that the population will increase through acquisition of the new reserve and ongoing nest box program. Photo by Daniel Alarcon. //www.flickr.com/photos/128583429@N05/sets/72157691397221540">Additional photos are available of Blue-throated Macaw, the reserve, and nest boxes.

(Washington, D.C., August 20, 2018) The largest known group of nesting Blue-throated Macaws — a Critically Endangered species numbering only about 300 in the wild, all in Bolivia — is now a protected nature reserve, thanks to a land purchase made by Bolivian conservation organization Asociación Armonía with support from American Bird Conservancy, the International Conservation Fund of Canada, IUCN Netherlands, and World Land Trust.

The 1,680-acre (680-hectare) reserve is located in central Bolivia in the Beni savanna. Previously a cattle ranch, it is the site of Armonía’s ongoing artificial nest box program, launched in 2005 to boost the macaw’s population. Demonstrating the potential for this area to support the recovery of the species, 51 Blue-throated Macaws have since fledged from the reserve, and in 2017, a pair of macaws that fledged from the nest boxes returned to breed.

The Blue-throated Macaw has been declining in population for the last century. Habitat destruction is a key driver of this decline, including the removal and burning of large trees suitable for nesting, while capture of the birds for the international pet trade has also played a role.

The new reserve, together with Armonía’s existing Barba Azul Nature Reserve, establishes a total area of protected land for the Blue-throated Macaw of 28,862 acres (11,680 hectares).

“Increasing the Blue-throated Macaw population is more likely now that Armonía has secured this important site as a reserve,” said Rodrigo Soria, Executive Director of Asociación Armonía. “This acquisition means that we can continue the successful nest box program without worry of changing land ownership and management.”

Armonía has named the new reserve the Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Reserve in tribute to Laney Rickman (1952 – 2017), founder of the Texas-based nonprofit Bird Endowment. Rickman expanded and supported the macaw nest box program since 2006 in partnership with Asociación Armonía as an annual campaign, Nido Adoptivo™, to raise funds to build and deploy the boxes.

To further honor Laney Rickman’s legacy, the Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Fund has been established by her family, Asociación Armonía, and American Bird Conservancy. Donations are welcome and will provide vital long-term support for the nest box program as well as habitat conservation and reserve management. Donations received in 2018 will be matched dollar for dollar up to $100,000.

American Bird Conservancy is grateful for the generous support of the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust, the March Conservation Fund, the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory-Tropical Forest Forever Fund, David and Patricia Davidson, and an anonymous donor, who helped make the purchase of this new reserve possible.

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American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@abcbirds1).

Asociación Armonía (www.armonia-bo.org) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of birds and their natural habitat in Bolivia. Armonía’s conservation actions are based on scientific studies and active involvement of local communities, respecting their culture and knowledge. Asociación Armonía is the Bolivian key partner of American Bird Conservancy, BirdLife International, ICFC, and World Land Trust.

International Conservation Fund of Canada (http://icfcanada.org) advances the long-term preservation of nature and biodiversity in the tropics and other priority areas worldwide.

IUCN Netherlands (https://www.iucn.nl) is the Dutch national committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network. Our mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.

The World Land Trust (https://www.worldlandtrust.org) is an international conservation charity that protects the world’s most biologically significant and threatened habitats acre by acre. Through a network of partner organizations around the world, WLT funds the creation of reserves and provides permanent protection for habitats and wildlife. Partnerships are developed with established and highly respected local organizations who engage support and commitment among the local community.


Animal Defenders International (ADI) applauds Massachusetts State Senator Bruce Tarr’s introduction of SD.2002, to prohibit traveling wild & exotic animal acts. ADI was honored to work with Senator Tarr and local advocates on the bill, reflecting increasing public recognition that these acts are both cruel and dangerous.

The Feld organization recently announced its closure of RinglingBros. circuses, citing decreased ticket sales over the last decade, a change in views from audiences, and admitting that“It isn’t relevant to people in the same way.”

The Federation of Veterinarians of Europenotes"There is little or no educational, conservational, research or economic benefit derived fromthe use of wild mammals in travelling circuses that might justify their use. In addition to thewelfare considerations, the use of wild mammals in circuses canrepresent serious animalhealth and public health and safety risks.

ADI President Jan Creamer said ADI worked closely with Senator Tarr on this effort and we know how determined he is to protect wild animals and the public from these cruel and dangerous acts. ADI’s evidence of the suffering and abuse of wild animals in circuses shows that these shows simply cannot meet the needs of wild animals in lightweight, small and mobile accommodation.

A comprehensive 2016 scientific review considered the latest science and consulted 658 experts and organizations around the world (including industry representatives), to ultimately conclude that for wild animals, this is not “a life worth living.”


Once a ban is in place, ADI has offered to assist with the relocation of circus animals should the need arise. Despite assurances from the circus industry, the physical and psychological health of animals in circuses is inevitably compromised. Animals in circuses are routinely subjected to brutal training methods and violence.

ADI has led the campaign to expose the suffering and educate the public around the world, providing video evidence, prosecutions, and expert reviews. 34 nations have reviewed the evidence and taken action to end traveling circus performances. Across 27states in the US, 68jurisdictions have already decided to either ban or restrict the use of wild animals in traveling shows, due to concerns about public safety and animal welfare.

ADI is also supporting RepresentativesRyan Costello (R-PA) andRaul Grijalva(D-AZ), who launched Traveling Exotic Animaland Public Safety ProtectionAct (TEAPSPA)in Congress last November. The congressmen have concluded that ending wild animal use is the only practical approach to deal withpublic safety issues and inspection and oversightproblems repeatedly cited by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

Following bans on the use of animals in circuses in Peru and Colombia,ADIworked with both governments to remove over 100 animals from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade last year including lions, bears, monkeys, a tiger and others. ADI rehabilitated the animals and rehomed them to their natural habitats. These rescues were popular with the public and show what can be achieved with legislators and animal protection organizations cooperating.

Join the global campaign to Stop Circus Suffering: www.stopcircussuffering.com

 

“Exotic animals may seem fun and like extravagant, novel gifts, but there are tremendous risks involved.” - Born Free USA’s CEO

Washington, D.C., November 28, 2016 -- With the holiday shopping and gift-giving season upon us, Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, wants to remind everyone about the serious dangers of giving a live animal as a pet. In particular, the purchase of exotic animals as gifts is a concerning phenomenon. As revealed in last month’s report from Born Free USA, Downloading Cruelty: An Investigation into the Online Sales of Exotic Pets in the U.S., there is a widespread online trade of exotic animals as “pets," including monkeys, lions, tigers, cheetahs, wolves, kangaroos, foxes, snakes, sloths, and more. All of these animals can be available with just one click online, making them far too easy to bring home this holiday season. 

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “Exotic animals may seem like fun, extravagant, and novel gifts, but the reality is that they have tremendously complex needs that require extensive care and commitment. While it is incredibly easy to buy a snake, sugar glider, or fox online, that does not mean that it will be easy to have that animal in your home. Despite claims made by exotic animal breeders, not one of these animals is “tame.” Purchasing an exotic animal as a holiday present perpetuates the abusive circumstances of breeding and captivity, and puts people at risk by exposing them to a wild animal who belongs IN the wild.”

As demonstrated in the Downloading Cruelty report, the enormous popularity of internet shopping has significant repercussions for the trade in exotic animals as pets, because animals who were never offered at a pet store are now visible and available from breeders around the country. The ease of acquiring them over the internet parallels the continuously-growing demand. Since the buyer cannot see the animal beyond a photo, and the shipping and payment options make the purchase simple and fast, the buyer is unlikely to have taken into account or understand the long-term care implications.

Roberts added, “An exotic animal is one of the most dangerous gifts you could give someone. There have been hundreds of attacks on humans that demonstrate the severe threat they pose, and they can also transmit serious and potentially deadly diseases to humans, including salmonella and hepatitis. Protect both animals and your loved ones, and don’t give the present of a monkey, a snake, a turtle, or any other living creature this holiday season. “

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic "pets," trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to America the message of "compassionate conservation": the vision of the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free's mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

For the complete report and more, go to www.bornfreeusa.org/DownloadingCruelty.


 
September 8, 2016- South Africa- A lion family has been reunited in the African bush after they were torn apart by a traveling circus in South America. Leo, his mate Muneca, and daughters Africa and Kiara are back together. Animal Defenders International (ADI) is appealing for funds to complete an enclosure in the African bush where they can live out their lives together. https://lionsbacktoafrica.org/donate-for-leo/
 
The wonderful news comes after tens of thousands of people watched a viral video of Leo, groggy with anesthetic following dental surgery, battling to reach his daughter Africa as she willed him on and reached out for her father.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm4NI_juV_0
 
Leo was rescued by ADI on the first day of a huge operation to enforce Peru’s ban on wild animals in circuses. But the circus had blocked the rescue of Muneca, Kiara and Africa, and then disappeared with them before a court could decide on their fate.  ADI never gave up on them and eight months later tracked down the circus over 600 miles away, in a remote region near the border of Ecuador, and Leo’s family was saved.
 
During the biggest operation of its kind ever undertaken, ADI rescued over 100 animals (lions, bears, tigers, monkeys and others) as they closed down Peru’s wild animal circus industry.  In May, ADI flew the 33 lions rescued during the mission to South Africa to start a new life at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary.
 
Since then, the lions have been steadily rehabilitated, introduced to each other and are undergoing an intense veterinary program to repair the damage inflicted on them in the circus. The lionesses are also being neutered to prevent breeding.  These battered animals cannot return to the wild, but it is the aim of ADI and Emoya to give them a life as close to what nature intended as possible.
 
Leo, one of the oldest lions rescued had all of his canine teeth smashed in the circus and underwent three hours of dental surgery in August to repair the damage.  Leading veterinary dentist Gerhard Steenkamp, who repaired the damage, extracting teeth and doing root canals, noted “His mouth has taken a hell of beating.”  Muneca also had surgery for two smashed teeth.
 
The video of Leo recovering has moved tens of thousands of people online and shows the importance of family bonds in this social species.  As he began to recover from anesthesia and slowly stumbled and dragged himself towards his anxious daughter Africa, who appeared to be urging him on from behind a fence, even reaching her paw out to him.   Once Leo reaches her, they nuzzle and he settles beside her for a few minutes, but soon recovers and is back on his feet as if nothing had happened. At the time the lions were in “bonding” camps, preparing them for reintroduction, with mesh between them allowing contact but ensuring they could not fight.  Now the family is back together.
 
Jan Creamer ADI President: “It is wonderful that against all of the odds, these lions have been saved from circus suffering and the family reunited back where nature intended in Africa.  Now we are asking for people to help, and donate for a huge natural bush enclosure for this family, that will be their happy-ever-after.”
 
The final step for Leo and his family will be a huge natural bush enclosure with self-filling water holes and secure solar powered electric fences. ADI and Emoya need to complete these for all the lions rescued costing up to $150,000.

Please help Animal Defenders International raise $16,500 for Leo’s family enclosure, where the lions will be cared for life by ADI at Emoya. Any extra funds raised will go towards the enclosures for the other rescued lions and care for Leo and his family.  https://lionsbacktoafrica.org/donate-for-leo/
 

Operation Spirit of Freedom
Leo was rescued as part of Animal Defenders International’s Operation Spirit of Freedom, a mission with Peru's authorities to enforce the ban on wild animals in circuses.  In the biggest operation of its kind over 100 animals were rescued from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade.  ADI previously enforced a ban on animals in circuses in Bolivia.
 
Animal Defenders International: 
With offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogota, ADI campaigns across the globe on animals in entertainment, providing technical advice to governments, securing progressive animal protection legislation, drafting regulations and rescuing animals in distress. ADI has a worldwide reputation for providing video and photographic evidence exposing the behind-the-scenes suffering in industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals all over the world, educates the public on animals and environmental issues. 
http://www.ad-international.org

SMITHSONIAN CHANNEL(TM) GOES WILD ON WEDNESDAYS THIS SUMMER WITH SOME OF THE
WORLD’S DEADLIEST PREDATORSFive All-New WILD WEDNESDAY Premieres Start July 13 At 8 PM ET/PT

NEW YORK – JUNE 28, 2016 – Smithsonian Channel goes to where the wild things are this summer as the network ramps up WILD WEDNESDAYS with an exhilarating new block of wildlife programming beginning July 13 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Through five consecutive weeks of one-hour specials, WILD WEDNESDAYS will span the globe in search of elusive sharks, mighty lizard kings, viper queens, killer hornets and desert lions. Traveling from tropical waters and volcanic islands to stark deserts and steamy jungles, each hour will investigate some of the world’s fiercest and most iconic apex predators while unraveling the mysteries behind their behavior.

HUNTING THE HAMMERHEAD kicks off the new WILD WEDNESDAYS block on July 13 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, as Smithsonian Channel heads to Bimini in the Bahamas for the large and elusive predator, the great hammerhead shark, which rises from the depths en masse during certain months each year to hunt its favorite prey: venomous stingrays. Smithsonian Channel joins shark expert and sensory biologist Dr. Craig O’Connell on a mission to understand the mysterious creature’s killer tactics and capture this unique feeding event on film by deploying his revolutionary “RoboRay,” a remote controlled stingray, complete with on-board camera.

Go wild with four additional premieres on WILD WEDNESDAYS in July and August:

DRAGON ISLAND
Premieres Wednesday, July 20th at 8 p.m. ET/PT
Deep in the remote basin of the Pacific Ocean, dragons still roam in a Jurassic type underworld located in “The Ring of Fire,” where a string of 452 volcanoes erupt from the ocean bed. The ruthless environment helped to forge the Komodo Dragons, the largest living lizards on the planet, with 34 million years of survival in their DNA. Armored in claws and scales, these stealthy reptiles are ancient gladiators with deadly venom in every bite. On the hunt, they can run up to 23 miles per hour. But this apex warrior is also clinging to survival: only about 5,000 Komodo Dragons still exist. DRAGON ISLAND takes viewers onto Komodo Island for a glimpse of a mighty young creature, Drogo, who has overthrown the old king and must fight to hold onto his supremacy throughout the brawling season. Cameras capture Drogo as he feeds, breeds and fights for survival.

VIPER QUEENS
Premieres Wednesday, July 27th at 8 p.m. ET/PT
From the stark American Wild West, to steamy jungles in the heart of Africa, old and new world orders of vipers have merged to create a super-family of snakes. Within their ranks, some have adapted specific skills. VIPER QUEENS travels the world to present an intimate look at three different forms of these iconic, coldblooded killers in extreme, contrasting landscapes. Velvet, an African Gaboon viper, or adder, can wait motionless for months at a time, and then unleash a sudden, powerful attack. Armed with fangs that grow up to two inches long, Gaboon vipers not only have the longest snake fangs in the world, they’re also the largest and heaviest viper species. Therma, a Western Diamondback rattler, displays a familiar rattle warning as her first line of defense. She’s a new-world pit viper, equipped with an early warning system and thermal imaging abilities. Aries, the Puff adder, belongs to a group of formidable killers who are adaptable and hardy, able to spread themselves throughout Africa and Arabia, occupying one of the widest distributions of all viper species. Masters of disguise, their skin comes in a range of color variations, sometimes making them hard to identify, except for one distinguishable feature: the chevron markings on their backs.

KILLER HORNET SWARM
Premieres Wednesday, August 3rd at 8 p.m. ET/PT

Summer is here...and with it comes a deadly invasion. These super-sized Samurais called Japanese Giant Killer Hornets are the size of a human thumb and they are packed with a cytotoxic venom that can cause anaphylactic shock – and even death. Their stinger is a quarter the size of their body and packs a punch like a Black Mamba. For Golden-Yellow Hornets, a species much smaller in size, the invasion of giants is a mortal threat. It takes 10 of them to take on a single giant, but they’ve evolved surprising strategies to help even the odds.

DESERT WARRIORS: LIONS OF THE NAMIB
Premieres Wednesday, August 10th at 8 p.m. ET/PT
In a merciless, desolate furnace, an unexpected predator endures. Equipped with exceptional survival skills, desert lions roam the Namib. But with so few remaining adult males, the small population is on the brink of extinction. A brotherhood of five youngsters, known as the “Musketeers,” holds the key to the future of their kind. Two years ago, an old female and her two daughters gave birth to a cohort of five male cubs and, despite the hardships of the desert, they have managed to raise them successfully. But soon the time will come for the five Musketeers to continue their lives independently when their mothers begin their search for one of the last remaining adult males. Faced with many unexpected challenges, the five young males need to conquer the oldest desert on Earth on their truly epic journey to adulthood.

DESERT WARRIORS: LIONS OF THE NAMIB is produced by Intonature Productions, BoksDocs and Interspot for Smithsonian Channel. The other programs highlighted above for WILD WEDNESDAYS are produced by Earth-Touch for Smithsonian Channel.

Smithsonian Channel™, owned by Smithsonian Networks™, a joint venture between Showtime Networks Inc. and the Smithsonian Institution, is where curiosity lives, inspiration strikes and wonders never cease. This is the place for awe-inspiring stories, powerful documentaries and amazing entertainment across multiple platforms. Smithsonian Channel combines the storytelling prowess of SHOWTIME® with the unmatched resources and rich traditions of the Smithsonian, to create award-winning programming that shines new light on popular genres such as air and space, history, science, nature, and pop culture. Among the network’s offerings are series including Aerial America, Million Dollar American Princesses, The Weapon Hunter, Mighty Ships, Mighty Planes and Air Disasters, as well as critically-acclaimed specials that include Civil War 360, 9/11: The Heartland Tapes; MLK: The Assassination Tapes and The Day Kennedy Died. Smithsonian Networks also operates Smithsonian Earth™, through SN Digital LLC., a new subscription video streaming service delivering spectacular original nature and wildlife content. To learn more, go to www.smithsonianchannel.com, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Dream ending for circus lions rescued in South America:  
Huge airlift to take 33 lions home to Africa

September 1, 2015 - Thirty-three lions rescued by Animal Defenders International (ADI) from ten circuses in Peru and Colombia are going home to their native Africa in the biggest ever airlift of its kind.  
 
The lions, who endured years of confinement in cages on the backs of trucks and a brutal life being forced to perform in circuses, are heading to huge natural enclosures at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa.
 
The airlift in October will be the culmination of ADI’s work with the Governments of Peru and Colombia to eliminate the use of wild animals in circuses. ADI evidence of the abuse of circus animals in Latin America led to legislation banning animal acts and then ADI stepped in to help enforce the laws.
 
Almost all of the rescued lions have been mutilated to remove their claws, one has lost an eye, another is almost blind, and many have smashed and broken teeth because of their circus life, but they will retire in the African sunshine.
 
Jan Creamer, ADI President, who is leading the rescue mission in Peru, said:  “We are delighted that these lions who have suffered so much will be going home to Africa where they belong.  The climate and environment are perfect for them. When we visited Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary we knew this is a dream come true for ADI and, more importantly, the lions.”
 
ADI’s year-long Operation Spirit of Freedom, working with the Peru Government SERFOR and ATFFS wildlife departments, as well as police, has seen ADI raid circuses all over the country, facing violent confrontations, rescuing over 90 animals, travelling thousands of miles, and traversing the Andes with lions.  
 
Nine ex-circus lions from Colombia will join 24 lions from Peru on the flight to South Africa. They are the first animals to be handed over following Colombia’s ban on wild animal circuses and taken into care by the CDMB regional wildlife authority in Bucaramanga. ADI assumed the lions’ care until the flight was finalized. 
 
Home for the lions will be Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary set in 5,000 hectares on a private estate in Limpopo Province, South Africa. The sanctuary is already home to eight rescued lions and tigers in large acreage habitats of pristine African bush, has a no breeding policy and is not open to the public.  
 
Savannah Heuser, founder of Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary says: “Mahatma Gandhi once said; 'Be the change that you wish to see in the world.'  The change that is being offered to these 33 lions will change their entire world. 
 
Their lives were forcibly wasted away in horrific tiny cages, the doing of mindless circus acts, I cannot start to comprehend the endless days suffering that these animals had to endure. They have a lot of lost time to make up for. They will live out the rest of their lives in a natural habitat, the closest they can ever come to freedom.”
 
ADI is chartering a Boeing 747 to transport all 33 lions with an ADI veterinary team, direct from Lima to Johannesburg and is funding the construction of habitats for the lions at Emoya, ready for the arrival of the lions in late October.
 
Over ninety animals have been rescued during the ADI operation, which also provided assistance to the Peruvian authorities on the issue of wildlife crime.  ADI is concluding a huge construction program for over 50 native wild animals rescued during the operation in two parts of the Amazon, including bears, six species of monkeys, coati mundis, kinkajous, and a puma.
 
Jan Creamer paid tribute to governments, wildlife officials and the public in Peru and Colombia:  “Seeing these lions go home to where they truly belong will be a testament to the commitment of wildlife officials and the governments in Peru and Colombia to change the treatment of animals.”
 
Peru’s wild animal circus ban was passed in 2011, and between August 2014 and July 2015, the ADI team identified and raided every circus with wild animals.  Some circuses went underground as the raids commenced, but were eventually caught.  Only one circus reported to have a lioness is still to be found, which was pursued into Ecuador by the ADI team in July this year. Wildlife officials and the local ADI team are on alert should the circus reappear.
 
ADI previously enforced Bolivia’s animal circus ban, relocating many animals within the country and taking 29 lions to two sanctuaries in the US, and a baboon to the UK. ADI’s Operation Spirit of Freedom in Peru and Colombia has been an even larger undertaking.
 
Savannah Heuser:  “We at Emoya are deeply honored and privileged to be part of such a massive operation. We salute ADI for saving animals and ending suffering. Let's bring these 33 to Africa. Let's bring them home.”
 
Moving the lions to Africa increases the flight costs, but it is the ideal home for the animals and ADI believes, the right thing to do. An appeal has been launched to meet the increased flight costs as well as the enclosures for the lions.
 
Jan Creamer:  “We really need financial support for this move.  It is more expensive to relocate these animals to Africa, but who can put a price on taking them home to where they belong?   It also sends such a clear and important message about protecting wildlife in their natural habitats and ranges.”
 
Until their flight, planned for end October, the lions will remain at the ADI Spirit of Freedom Rescue Center near Lima, Peru, where they will continue their rehabilitation under ADI veterinary supervision and enjoying their with grassy play pens, but the best is yet to come!
 
Please donate now to help get the lions home www.ad-international.org/hometoafrica
 

Born Free urges greater protection for Africa’s lions following confirmation of catastrophic population declines

International science body highlights dire status of King of the Jungle

 

Following the release yesterday of a lion assessment by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA are urging immediate international action to halt catastrophic recent declines in lion populations across Africa.

In its most up-to-date assessment of the species, IUCN, the world’s oldest and largest global environmental scientific organisation, reported devastating reductions in lion populations across much of the African continent. The new assessment revealed:

  • The number of lions across Africa has reduced by approximately 42% over the past 21 years (approximately three lion generations, 1993-2014)
  • Excluding Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, lions across the rest of Africa have declined by an average 60%
  • In West Africa, the declines suggest lions should be classified as Critically Endangered
  • Lions have disappeared altogether from at least 12, possibly up to 16, African countries in recent years.

“The IUCN reassessment confirms what we have known for some time: that lions are in serious decline across much of Africa,” said Adam M. Roberts, Chief Executive of the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA.

“The trade data suggests that international trade in lion parts and products is putting pressure on these vulnerable lion populations, which they clearly can’t sustain. We call on the international community to increase the protection for lions from the impact of trade through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to issue its long-overdue final rule on listing the lion as endangered under the US Endangered Species Act.”

Trade in lions and lion parts has been increasing. According to the official CITES trade database, from 2009 to 2013 the total number of lions and lion parts exported doubled compared to the previous five year period. The figures reveal particularly worrying increases in the trade in lion bones and skeletons (presumably to supply demand for Asian traditional medicines and tonics), skins, and trophies from captive bred animals.

“These iconic animals can’t wait,” added Roberts. “Lions used to roam all over Africa, west Asia and even southern Europe. Now we risk seeing them disappear from much of their remaining sub-Saharan African range. We cannot sit by and watch this species disappear under our watch.”

Born Free is working with the United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and African lion experts to improve collaboration between African range states on lion conservation, identify the reasons for the reported declines, and help range states to reverse them.

About Born Free

The  Born Free Foundation is a dynamic international wildlife charity, devoted to   compassionate conservation and animal welfare. Born Free takes action worldwide to protect  threatened species and stop individual animal suffering. Born Free believes wildlife belongs in the wild and works to phase out zoos. We rescue animals from lives of misery in tiny cages and give them lifetime care.

Born Free protects lions, elephants, tigers, gorillas, wolves, polar bears, dolphins, marine turtles and many more species in their natural habitat, working with local communities to help people and wildlife live together without conflict. Our high-profile campaigns change public attitudes, persuade decision-makers and get results. Every year, Born Free helps hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide. For more information about Born Free please visit: www.bornfree.org.uk

Nature Chronicles a Diversity of Life in

The Sagebrush Sea

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 on PBS

An ecosystem tapped by energy development faces an uncertain future

It's been called The Big Empty - an immense sea of sagebrush that once stretched 500,000 square miles across North America, exasperating thousands of westward-bound travelers as an endless place through which they had to pass to reach their destinations. Yet it's far from empty, as those who look closely will discover. In this ecosystem anchored by the sage, eagles and antelope, badgers and lizards, rabbits, wrens, owls, prairie dogs, songbirds, hawks and migrating birds of all description make their homes. For one bird, however, it is a year-round home, as it has been for thousands of years. The Greater Sage-Grouse relies on the sage for everything and is found no place else. But their numbers are in decline. Two hundred years ago, there were as many as 16 million sage grouse; today, there may be fewer than 200,000.

The Sagebrush Sea tracks the Greater Sage-Grouse and other wildlife through the seasons as they struggle to survive in this rugged and changing landscape. The program airs Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). After broadcast, the episode will be available for online streaming at pbs.org/nature.

In early spring, male sage grouse move to open spaces, gathering in clearings known as leks to establish mating rights. They strut about, puffing up yellow air sacs in their breasts and making a series of popping sounds to intimidate other males. For weeks, they practice their elaborate display and square off with other arriving males, battling to establish dominance and territory. Successful males then display for discriminating females and are allowed to mate only if chosen as the most suitable. The criteria are a mystery to all but the females, nearly all of which select only one or two males on the lek each year. Once they've bred, the hens will head off into the protective sage to build their nests near food and water and raise their offspring alone. Within a month, the chicks hatch and follow the hens as they forage for food and keep a watchful eye out for predators. In the summer, the grouse head to wetlands, often populated by farms and ranches, in search of water, only to return to the sage in the fall. Shrinking wetlands that once supported thousands of grouse still manage to provide for hundreds.

Other species discussed in the program include the golden eagle and great-horned owl. Both bird species take advantage of perfect perches on the rocks and ridges sculpted by the area's constant wind to nest, hunt, and raise their families. Cavity-nesting bluebirds and the American kestrel return each year to raise their young in rock crevices. The sagebrush serves as a nursery for the sagebrush sparrow, the sage thrasher and the Brewer's sparrow, all of which breed nowhere else.

Sage survives in this arid environment through deep roots that reach to the water below. Like water, however, many key resources are locked below ground in the high desert, bringing an increasing presence of wells, pipelines and housing. As they proliferate, the sage sea is becoming more and more fragmented, impacting habitats and migratory corridors. And of the 500,000 square miles of sagebrush steppe that stretched across North America, only half now remains. For the sage and the grouse, the future is uncertain.

Nature is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. For Nature, Fred Kaufman is executive producer. The Sagebrush Sea is a Cornell Lab of Ornithology Production.

Nature pioneered a television genre that is now widely emulated in the broadcast industry. Throughout its history, Nature has brought the natural world to millions of viewers. The series has been consistently among the most-watched primetime series on public television.

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Children Go Face-to-Face with a Giant Pacific Octopus!

Wildlife photographer and environmental educator David FitzSimmons is on a mission to get children to fall in love with animals of the ocean by making reading as engaging and educational as a swim in the sea. His new book, Curious Critters Marine, the third book in his popular Curious Critters series, is being released on April 22, Earth Day 2015. And it’s bound to make a splash!

FitzSimmons is at the forefront of environmental education. He produces exquisitely-detailed, up-close photography of amazing animals that inhabit the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, as well as the Gulf of Mexico. Through stunning photography, children go face-to-face with animals ranging from a spectacular spoonbill to an incredible blue lobster, from a tufted puffin to an upside-down jellyfish, and from a baby sea turtle to a giant Pacific octopus.

Children are mesmerized as they stare eye-to-eye with a crab, a cormorant, or an octopus. I try to photograph the animals on eye-level so kids can connect emotionally with the critters,” said FitzSimmons. “The goal is to foster children’s biophilia—to get young readers to fall in love with nature.”

And fall in love they do—with a cadre of curious animals. “Up to ninety percent of kids’ dreams are about animals. My books allow children to experience nature, particularly animals, through reading,” said FitzSimmons. “Of course, peering at a sea star in a tidal pool or hearing a cormorant call along the coast are great ways for children to connect with nature. But these experiences should be supplemented with nature reading.”

Adding to the fun photography is playful prose accompanying each critter. As the animals posed for portraits, David imagined them talking to him. Then he wrote down what they had to say.

The cushion sea star, for example, serenades readers with stanzas set to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

Look at me, a bright sea star,

out beyond the big sand bar.

Crawling in the shallow sea,

tiny tube feet carry me

out to join a galaxy

of sea stars that look like me.

A crabby calico crab bemoans his thankless role as a detritivore: “I’m the one down here devouring loads of decaying debris, and nobody applauds my efforts. Without recyclers like me, can you imagine what the ocean would look like? Why, we’d be wallowing in whale waste and covered in crumbling kelp.”

The tufted puffin revels in romance : “I love getting all dressed up—putting on my best black feathers, brightening up my bill, and growing two feather plumes—all for my lovely lady.”

And an agile gray angelfish waxes poetic about life on the reef:

Swim so happily angelfish.

Give you little fins a swish.

Twist and turn within the reef.

Nibble sponges with your teeth.

Other creatures also offer their insights into marine world. The spike-covered Atlantic horseshoe crab explains that a sharp shell has allowed this spider-relative to survive since “long before dinosaurs were around.” A baby loggerhead sea turtle tiredly talks about his march from nest to sea after hatching. And the blue American lobster points out that, while most of his crustacean compatriots are “brown or dark green,” he is a rare “one-in-two-million blue gem of the sea.”

With mesmerizing images and inviting prose, Curious Critters Marine is sure to whet the appetite of young children wishing to know more about North America’s salty waters. Additional material in the back of the book includes a Life-Size Silhouettes page, a Glossary, and a Natural History page, where readers learn that Atlantic horseshoe crabs have blue blood, that tufted puffins may carry up to sixty fish in their beaks at once, and that California sea cucumbers eat with their mouths and their rear ends!

FitzSimmons points out that oceans cover more than seventy percent of the Earth’s surface, yet humans have explored less than five percent of their waters. He believes that Curious Critters Marine may act as “a snorkel, fins, and mask,” allowing readers of all ages to “dive in!”

With Curious Critters Marine, you will find a wet and wonderful world awaits you.

Curious Critters Marine

by David FitzSimmons

List $16.95

Hardcover, Color illustrations throughout, 11 in. x 9.5 in., 32 pp.

ISBN 978-1-936607-72-3

Published by Wild Iris Publishing

Official Publication date April 22, 2015 (Earth Day)

Children’s Nonfiction (Ages 2-8).

www.curious-critters.com displays more Curious Critters photos and provides information about how FitzSimmons photographed the animals, as well as insight about how he write his books.

Curious Critters Volume One has sold over 100,000 copies and won six national book awards, including the coveted Independent Book Publishers Association’s Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book.

About the Author -- DAVID FITZSIMMONS

David FitzSimmons is an award-winning free-lance photographer and writer. David photographs and writes for various magazines, including Outdoor Photographer, Popular Photography, ProfessionalPhotographer, and Shutterbug. His 100+ calendar credits include numerous titles by BrownTrout and Barnes & Noble. David’s most recent publications include Animals of Ohio’s Ponds and Vernal Pools, Curious Critters, which has won five national book awards and sold over 100,000 copies to-date, and Curious Critter Volume Two, as well as audiobooks for both Curious Critters titles. Forthcoming is Salamander Dance (Spring 2016), a children’s picture book exploring the annual life cycle of vernal pools, and the first two board books, Curious Critters Ohio and Curious Critters Michigan.

One of seven Sigma Pro photographers in North America, David presents seminars and workshops to a wide variety of audiences, from public school, college, and university classes to photography groups and civic organizations. His works have been exhibited at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, the National Center for Nature Photography, and the Telluride Photo Festival.

Before becoming a freelance photographer and author, David taught for over twenty years, first as high school English teacher and then as a university professor, having instructed at Ashland University, Ohio State University, and Cornell University. He holds a Ph.D. in English from Ohio State, with a specialty in narrative theory—investigating the components of storytelling—something that influences his photography and writing.

Learn more about David at www.fitzsimmonsphotography.com

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