Displaying items by tag: endangered species act

Partnership Aims to Turn the Tide for Migratory Birds

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Jennifer Howard, Director of Public Relations, American Bird Conservancy, 202-888-7472

(Washington, D.C., March 13, 2017) Two leading bird conservation groups, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, have launched “Science to Action,” a partnership aimed at reversing decades of population declines for migratory birds in the Americas. Bringing together the Cornell Lab’s cutting-edge science and ABC’s on-the-ground approach to bird conservation, this joint effort represents new hope for hundreds of declining species that journey each spring and fall between their breeding grounds in North America and wintering grounds in Latin America and the Caribbean.

ABC and the Cornell Lab are combining their strengths at a critical moment for migratory birds. Landmark conservation measures such as the Endangered Species Act are being targeted for elimination even as environmental threats mount. As the most recent State of North America's Birds report makes starkly clear, fully one-third of our continent's bird species will require concerted conservation efforts to ensure their future.

The ABC-Cornell Lab partnership will focus on how new data and conservation tools can be harnessed to enhance conservation of migratory birds across their breeding and wintering grounds, as well as stopover sites in between.

“The Cornell Lab’s dedicated science team and its depth of citizen-science data make it a perfect fit for informing better conservation decision-making by ABC,” said George Fenwick, President of ABC.

“The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and American Bird Conservancy share common values and complementary expertise for protecting wild bird populations across the Western Hemisphere,” said John W. Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of Cornell Lab. “With so many bird species showing alarming declines, it is more important than ever that the Lab work closely with ABC, combining our scientific focus and citizen-science data with ABC’s effective conservation actions.”

Kenneth V. Rosenberg, Applied Conservation Scientist at the Cornell Lab, is leading the new partnership. “Our two organizations will provide a unified voice for bird conservation, applying the best science on the ground at important natural areas and informing policies that affect the future of bird populations,” he said.

Together the partners will:

  • Leverage data and resources from the Cornell Lab to refine and prioritize ABC’s conservation strategies, including ABC BirdScapes—landscape-scale areas critically important to targeted bird species. Such data are key to answering the “Where and when?” questions that drive ABC’s conservation planning.
  • Identify and develop conservation strategies for key migratory stopovers. Researchers are learning that the success of migration may hinge on just two or three stopovers located strategically along the migration route for each species. One chief goal of the partnership is determining how we can best conserve these stopover sites.
  • Use citizen-science data from eBird to help monitor and evaluate the success of ABC reserves and projects—the “Did it work?” piece of ABC’s conservation efforts.
  • Provide science support for Migratory Bird Joint Ventures, and leadership for conservation alliances such as Partners in Flight and the North American Bird Conservation Initiative’s State of the Birds reports.

(Photo: ABC and the Cornell Lab will work together to identify and protect habitats that sustain migration for some of North America's most-loved species, including Blackburnian Warbler.)

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American Bird Conservancy is the Western Hemisphere's bird conservation specialist—the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With a focus on efficiency and working in partnership, we take on the toughest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on sound science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds. Its hallmarks are scientific excellence and technological innovation to advance the understanding of nature and to engage people of all ages in learning bout birds and protecting the planet. The Cornell Lab is a nonprofit organization whose mission is supported by friends, members, and more than 400,000 citizen-science participants.

 

(Washington, D.C., Dec. 21, 2016)American Bird Conservancy has petitioned the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to list the Oregon Vesper Sparrow as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In a letter sent to Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior, ABC describes this subspecies of the Vesper Sparrow as highly imperiled and threatened with extinction throughout its range.

The petition makes the case that the species warrants listing because of significant population declines and ongoing habitat loss and degradation, among other threats, and because it lacks adequate protection under existing regulatory mechanisms.

Without ESA listing, the sparrows’ future looks grim. The current estimated population of the Oregon Vesper Sparrow is fewer than 3,000 birds, and Breeding Bird Survey data indicates a statistically significant population decline of more than five percent every year over the last 45 years.

This migratory species has a restricted breeding range that historically included southwestern British Columbia, western Washington and Oregon, and northwestern California. Now, breeding populations have disappeared from British Columbia and California, along with numerous local breeding populations throughout the range.

The species overwinters in California west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and south of San Francisco Bay, and historically it ranged into northwestern Baja California, Mexico. But wintering populations in Baja and southern parts of California have now disappeared.

“We are deeply concerned about the future of this bird,” said Bob Altman, ABC’s Pacific Northwest Conservation Officer. “With so few birds remaining, many in small and isolated populations, the Oregon Vesper Sparrow needs the immediate protection and conservation focus made possible through ESA listing.”

Several primary threats are driving the sparrow’s decline:

  1. The continuing loss and degradation of its grassland and savannah habitats because of development, conversion of those habitats to intensive agriculture, and the encroachment of invasive shrubs, trees, and exotic grasses;
  2. Harmful or poorly timed land-use activities such as mowing, overgrazing, military training, and recreational use; and
  3. The vulnerability of small, isolated breeding groups of birds.

“Every year, more populations are being lost, and we are not seeing the establishment of new populations where habitat restoration has occurred,” Altman said.

Existing regulatory mechanisms do not provide the protection needed to prevent the Oregon Vesper Sparrow from continuing on its trajectory toward extinction. There are no Federal or State programs dedicated to its conservation, and only about 20 percent of the birds’ range-wide population occurs on public lands. Without ESA listing, this vulnerable species will continue to decline and is likely to disappear forever.

(Photo: Vesper Sparrow by Suzanne Beauchesne)

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American Bird Conservancy is the Western Hemisphere's bird conservation specialist—the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With a focus on efficiency and working in partnership, we take on the toughest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on sound science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

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But Lack of Resources Puts Hawaiian Birds at High Risk

 

(Washington, D.C., July 25, 2016)A report released today by American Bird Conservancy contains some good news for U.S. mainland birds: 78 percent of the birds listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) have populations that are now stable, increasing, or have recovered enough to be delisted.The Endangered Species Act: A Record of Successanalyzes population trends and recovery success for all U.S. listed birds, including those in the Hawaiian Islands and U.S. territories.

“Thanks to the Endangered Species Act, twice as many populations of listed birds are increasing as are decreasing,” said Steve Holmer, Senior Policy Advisor for American Bird Conservancy and the author of the report. "Meanwhile, species such as the Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, and Brown Pelican have rebounded sufficiently to be taken off the list of endangered species."

“This is a strong signal that the ESA works," Holmer said.

But the report also shows the continuing problems for listed Hawaiian birds, many of whom face severe threats. Nine listed Hawaiian bird species are currently in decline. Overall, the ESA recovery success rate* for Hawaiian birds is 52 percent, only two-thirds of the recovery rate for mainland birds.

“The dire situation for Hawaiian endangered birds is in part a result of inadequate recovery spending. Hawaiian birds account for more than 25 percent of all listed birds, but received only 6.7 percent of federal recovery spending for birds in 2014,” said George Wallace, American Bird Conservancy’s Vice President for Oceans and Islands. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been working diligently to increase its recovery efforts in Hawaii, and is now spending 18.4 percent of its bird recovery funds on Hawaiian birds, but the population trends indicate still more needs to be done to reverse current declines.”

The report also reveals that both mainland and Hawaiian bird populations can recover when adequate resources are made available. The recovery status of the Bald Eagle, Brown Pelican, Western Snowy Plover, San Clemente Bell’s Sparrow, Golden-cheeked Warbler, Black-capped Vireo, Interior Least Tern, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Steller’s Eider, Millerbird, Hawaiian Crow, Hawaii Creeper, and Nihoa Finch have all improved since 2006, whenABC produced a similar analysisof the ESA’s effectiveness.

ESA Report_Pie chart page 4ABC staff are engaged inrecovery effortsfor Hawaiian birds, including Palila, a rare native honeycreeper that was among the first species to be listed under the ESA. “To prevent the extinction of Palila, we are working with the State of Hawaii to protect and restore habitat from non-native sheep that damage and kill the native trees used by the birds for food and nesting,” said Chris Farmer, American Bird Conservancy’s Hawaii Program Director. “And for the Millerbird, a successful translocation from Nihoa to Laysan Island was completed in 2012, increasing this species’ chances for survival.”

Even though the Endangered Species Act is working, it is under attack by some members of Congress.  In recent years, individual species such as the Greater Sage-Grouse have been targeted for listing exemptions to prevent ESA protection.

“Instead of undermining this effective law, Congress needs to increase funding for species recovery,” said Holmer. “With so many listed bird species showing increased populations, there is hope that we will soon see more of these species no longer needing the emergency protections of the ESA.”

*The ESA recovery success rate is defined as the number of stable, increasing, and delisted species divided by the total of species extinct after listing, declining, stable, increasing, delisted, and unknown.

(Photo:Palila, a native Hawaiian honeycreeper, is the focus of recovery efforts under the Endangered Species Act.)

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American Bird Conservancy is the Western Hemisphere's bird conservation specialist—the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas.  With a focus on efficiency and working in partnership, we take on the toughest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on sound science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

 

 

Restoration efforts already underway must happen faster to protect water,

wildlife habitat and other natural resources

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) are taking additional steps under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to restore balance to the Florida Everglades ecosystem and help reverse decades-long population declines of the endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrow. 

These steps are outlined in a new biological opinion on the Corps’ Everglades Restoration Transition Plan(ERTP), which was implemented in 2012 to guide improved management of water flows in the Everglades. The new biological opinion will guide the Corps and partners in the Everglades restoration effort in better managing water in ways that improve habitat essential to the Cape Sable seaside sparrow. 

Actions called for in the biological opinion include operational modifications and expediting restoration initiatives already planned for the southern portion of the Everglades ecosystem to aid in providing suitable nesting habitat for the sparrow. These measures will allow the movement of additional water southward under the Tamiami Trail One-Mile Bridge flowing through the Everglades and into Florida Bay in ways that avoid prolonged flooding of the sparrow’s habitat during the nesting season. They will also provide much-needed fresh water into the Everglades and Florida Bay, benefitting wildlife such as American crocodiles, West Indian manatees, sea turtles, dolphins, a variety of bird species and gamefish. 

The ESA consultation, biological opinion, and the resulting operational modifications are part of a broad collaboration between the Service, the Corps, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service, which manages Everglades National Park, and many others to save the ground-nesting Cape Sable seaside sparrow and meet water management needs. The actions reflect the complexity of restoration requirements across the Everglades and the commitment of local, state and federal partners to find creative ways to achieve long-term restoration and conservation. 

“Although the Cape Sable seaside sparrow is on the brink of extinction, we believe with the timely and coordinated action of partners, we can save this and other imperiled wildlife for the long term,” said Larry Williams, the Service’s State Supervisor for Ecological Services in Florida. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers echoed the importance of state and federal partners collaborating in conserving the sparrow and the Everglades. 

"We’re moving forward with restoration efforts and operational modifications that will ultimately provide beneficial conditions to the many species that call the Everglades home," said Col. Jason Kirk, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District Commander. “We have been coordinating closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine what measures can be taken to improve the habitat of the Cape Sable seaside sparrow and ensure we are able to operate our water management system in compliance with the Endangered Species Act. Nonetheless, multiple environmental factors continue to threaten the survival of this rare species. Successful recovery of the Cape Sable seaside sparrow requires continued collaborative efforts among our federal and state partnering agencies and we look forward to this ongoing dialogue.” 

Prior to Hurricane Andrew in 1992, there were 6,576 sparrows inhabiting Everglades National Park. Hurricane Andrew was followed by several wet years and high discharges of water through water control structures, causing several years of poor conditions for the Cape Sable seaside sparrow. This reduced the sparrow’s ability to recover from the impact of the hurricane and its total population declined to 3,312 in 1993. The Service began consulting with the Corps on the ERTP in 2015. Due to many factors, including loss of habitat, the sparrow’s population dropped to 2,720 in 2014. After one of the wettest nesting periods on record current preliminary results for 2016 indicate the population may have decreased to approximately 2,400 birds, the lowest on record. 

The biological opinion also addresses potential impacts to two other federally listed species—American wood storks and Everglade snail kites. Current water operations are not likely to impact these birds. 

As a result of this interagency consultation and biological opinion, the Corps has committed to: 

  • Provide habitat conditions that will continue to facilitate sparrow breeding in areas where the existing habitat is of better quality.
  • Provide habitat conditions that will allow the sparrow to successfully breed and recruit in currently degraded areas.
  • Promote sparrow population resilience by identifying additional areas of habitat expansion or movement that may occur with implementation of water management projects and the onset of sea level rise.
  • Monitor and demonstrate that successful sparrow breeding and recruitment is occurring in response to the implementation of management actions. 

The Service has developed a revised set of targets to improve the conditions of the Cape Sable seaside sparrow and contribute towards the survival and recovery of the species. Targets include providing at least 90 consecutive dry nesting-season days between March 1 and July 15. The marl prairie habitat that the Cape Sable seaside sparrow requires persists under a hydrologic regime of 90-210 wet days. If the habitat is dry fewer than 90 days, the grass habitat the sparrow requires often is taken over by woody plants. If the habitat is under water more than 210 days, a wetland habitat emerges. 

Conservation efforts on behalf of the Cape Sable seaside sparrow include annual range-wide population surveys by ground and helicopter, vegetation and hydrologic monitoring, use of prescribed fire to control woody vegetation, controlling wildfires to protect sparrow habitats, and banding birds so they can be identified in the future. The Service and partners are also developing new modeling tools and genetic studies and analyzing of sparrow blood and feathers to determine if there are contaminants, such as mercury that may be negatively affecting them.  

For more information, please visit:  https://www.fws.gov/verobeach/20160722NRERTPJeopardyBO.html

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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Maintaining Feral Cat Colonies at Jones Beach Puts Piping Plovers at Risk

Piping Plover and chick_Michael Stubblefield_U PR

ABC's lawsuit asserts that Endangered Piping Plovers are at risk from feral cats at Jones Beach State Park, New York. Photo © Michael Stubblefield

Contact:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., ABC Director of Invasive Species Programs, 202-888-7480

(Washington, D.C. March 31, 2016)American Bird Conservancy (ABC) today filed suit in federal court against the New York Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (Parks Office) over the continued presence of feral cat colonies at Jones Beach State Park. The colonies exist in close proximity to the nesting sites ofPiping Plovers, a species listed as "Threatened" in the Atlantic Coast region under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). New York State’s own Endangered Species Act lists the species as “Endangered.”

In a March 17, 2015 letter to ABC, the Parks Office acknowledged the presence of feral cats at Jones Beach and agreed that "our goal should be the removal of feral cats within New York State Parks." Yet no significant action has been taken. “The endangered plovers are already arriving for the 2016 breeding season and are being placed at an unacceptable risk," said Grant Sizemore, Director of ABC’sInvasive Species Programs.

ABC's complaint seeks an injunction to require that the Parks Office remove the feral cats from Jones Beach and follows a Notice of Intent to Sue submitted on Dec. 1, 2015.

“We regret that legal action is our only recourse,” said Mike Parr, ABC's Chief Conservation Officer. “We would far prefer to settle this out of court.” He added, “The park has placed ‘no pets’ signs at its parking lots, yet allows cats to be fed in the same areas. It makes no sense to prevent one but allow the other.”

The State has long accommodated multiple feral cat colonies at Jones Beach in spite of the known risks to Piping Plovers. The Parks Office has allowed structures to be built to house the cats, and it permits local residents to feed them routinely.

In 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) identified feral cats as a threat to Piping Plovers in the species’ Atlantic Coast range, which includes Jones Beach. As FWS stated in itsreport, “Recent research and reports indicate that predation poses a continuing (and perhaps intensifying) threat to Atlantic Coast Piping Plovers.”

Piping Plover chicks_Venu Challa_PR

Plover chicks are especially vulnerable to predation before they are able to fly. Photo by Venu Challa

The FWS recognized that Piping Plovers are especially vulnerable to feral cats. Adult birds often feign a broken wing to distract predators, putting them at high risk of predation from non-native species. Plover chicks also move around the beach for approximately 25 days before they are able to fly, during which time they are especially vulnerable to cats.

Although many cats are beloved pets, free-roaming and feral cats are non-native predators that kill approximately2.4 billion birdsannually in the U.S.  A single feral cat can kill, on average, from 20 to 55 birds a year. Responding to this threat, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo last yearvetoedlegislation that would have supported “Trap, Neuter, Release” programs that support feral cat colonies, citing the impacts these cats can have “on wildlife, including on threatened and endangered species, habitats, and food sources for native predators.”

“Feeding feral cats, as happens at Jones Beach, does not eliminate their instinct to hunt,” said Sizemore. “And in fact, the mere presence of cats has been shown to have significant adverse effects on breeding birds. Even when cats do not directly kill wildlife, they disrupt nesting and feeding behaviors.” One 2013 studyshowed as much as a 33 percent reduction in feeding of nestlings after cats made even a brief appearance near breeding areas.

American Bird Conservancy is being represented byGoodwin Procter LLPon a pro bono basis.

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American Bird Conservancy is the Western Hemisphere's bird conservation specialist—the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas.  With a focus on efficiency and working in partnership, we take on the toughest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on sound science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

Special rule establishes permitting requirements for the importation of sport-hunted lion trophies

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 27, 2014) – In response to thepetition submitted by Born Free USA,Humane Society International (HSI), The Humane Society of the United States, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and other animal protection groups, today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed listing African lions as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Additionally, a special rule was proposed along with the listing, which requires permits for the import of sport-hunted lion trophies, which should only be issued for lions originating from countries with a scientifically sound management plan for the species. A strong permitting system is critical because the U.S. imports over half of the hundreds of lion trophies brought home by trophy hunters globally each year.

“Lion numbers have declined by more than half in the last three decades. To allow trophy hunting to continue unabated is kicking an animal while it’s already down,” said Jeff Flocken, North American Regional Director, International Fund for Animal Welfare. “We thank the U.S. government for acknowledging that this iconic species is in grave trouble and that unsustainable trophy hunting is a part of this problem.”

In the past three decades, the number of African lions in the wild has dropped by more than 50 percent, with potentially fewer than 32,000 remaining today.  A recent study found that the West African lion population is critically imperiled with roughly 400 lions in total found in only four protected areas (down from 21 in 2005). And the most current estimates state that there are little more than 2,000 lions left in Central Africa; 18,000 in East Africa and 11,000 in Southern Africa.

“Lion populations and the habitat available to them have diminished dramatically in recent years due to trophy hunting, bone trade, meat and organ consumption, disease, and agricultural expansion,” noted Adam M. Roberts, Chief Executive Officer of Born Free USA. “Born Free and our partners on the ground in Africa will keep vigilant watch on lions and lion trade to ensure that the government’s decision today enhances conservation. The lion has no margin for error.”

“A threatened species listing for African lions will help ensure that American trophy hunters stop contributing to the decline of African lions,” said Teresa Telecky, Director, Wildlife Department, Humane Society International. “While we are disappointed that the U.S. government appears poised to continue allowing the import of some lion trophies, it’s vital that protective trophy import standards be put in place and that there will be transparency in that process. American hunters import about 400 trophies of wild lions each year, so we hope that the ESA protection will significantly curtail this destructive activity.”

A 90-day public comment period on the USFWS proposed ruling will commence on October 29, 2014.

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About Born Free USA

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and education, Born Free USA leads campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the international wildlife trade.  Born Free USA brings to America the mission of the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free:  to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation. (bornfreeusa.org; twitter.com/bornfreeusa; facebook.com/bornfreeusa.)

About Born Free Foundation

Born Free Foundation, based in England, is an international organization devoted to compassionate conservation and animal welfare.  Born Free Foundation takes action worldwide to protect threatened species, stop individual animal suffering, and keep wildlife in the wild. Born Free helps hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide each year.  (bornfree.org.uk)

About The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization, rated most effective by our peers. For 60 years, we have celebrated the protection of all animals and confronted all forms of cruelty. We are the nation’s largest provider of hands-on services for animals, caring for more than 100,000 animals each year, and we prevent cruelty to millions more through our advocacy campaigns. Read more about our 60 years of transformational change for animals, and visit us online at humanesociety.org.

About Humane Society International

Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. For more than 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide – on the Web at hsi.org.

About the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

Founded in 1969, IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  Photos and video available at www.ifawimages.com.

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Groundbreaking Giant Screen and Digital 3D Film Features Unrivalled Access To Highly Endangered Species And Highlights Conservation Efforts To Repopulate Them in the Wild

Opens In IMAX®, Giant Screen, Dome and Digital Cinemas in North America Spring 2014

WASHINGTON (February 27, 2014)--The giant panda is one of the rarest species on our planet. A shy, elusive and gentle creature, they once ranged in great numbers between Beijing and the Himalayas. But now, after centuries of human expansion and destruction of their habitat, the giant pandas are on the brink of extinction, with fewer than 1,600 remaining. PANDAS: THE JOURNEY HOME, a groundbreaking natural-history film, captures for the first time in 3D on the world's largest screens the highly endangered giant pandas living in Wolong National Nature Reserve in the People's Republic of China. This new 3D/2D giant screen film experience gives audiences a unique glimpse into one of the most incredible conservation efforts in human history. The scientists' goal: to increase the numbers in captivity and, far more ambitiously, to return pandas to the wild --to their natural home. Presented by National Geographic Entertainment, this original production will premiere in 3D, 2D, 15/70 and digital formats and will open in giant-screen, IMAX® and digital 3-D cinemas around the United States and worldwide beginning spring 2014.

Directed by Nicolas Brown (Human Planet) and produced by Caroline Hawkins (Meerkats 3D), PANDAS: THE JOURNEY HOME, is an Oxford Scientific Films Production for National Geographic Entertainment and Sky 3D, in association with the Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association, Wolong Panda Conservation Centre, CCTV9 and Nat Geo WILD.

Narrated by Joely Richardson, the 40-minute large format film PANDAS: THE JOURNEY HOME follows the pandas at a significant milestone in their history. After decades of captive breeding, the Wolong National Nature Reserve has hit its target number of 300 giant pandas and now must tackle the challenge of reintroducing breeding populations of the species to the wild. Filmmakers were given unrivalled access to the Wolong National Nature Reserve with the support of the Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association and the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda. Oxford Scientific Films was granted permission to film the rare release of a panda bred in captivity and to follow a group of pandas being prepared for the wild in a mountain habitat, a first for a Western film crew. Alongside the natural breeding program, the film also captures the captive breeding program, including footage of newborns, young pandas playing, and methods of encouraging pandas to mate.

"PANDAS: THE JOURNEY HOME
will give audiences insight into the extraordinary strides that have been made towards saving the panda in the wild, but will also convey that much work has yet to be done," said Lisa Truitt, president of National Geographic Cinema Ventures (NGCV). "This is an important story, and National Geographic is grateful for the special access in order to feature the iconic, beloved, charismatic panda on the giant screen and in 3D."

Audiences will also get a chance to help with the conservation effort by participating in a texting campaign to raise funds for the preservation of the pandas' shrinking habitats. They can text PANDA to 50555 to contribute $10 towards a grant that National Geographic will award to the World Wildlife Fund for one of its panda conservation programs, details of which can be found at http://ngpandas.com.

PANDAS: THE JOURNEY HOME
is a true exploration of the environment the pandas are being equipped to live in, taking audiences to the center of the fight to reveal the incredible lengths researchers are going to in order to save them from extinction. PANDAS: THE JOURNEY HOME follows China's quest to save the giant panda from extinction and the remarkable process leading to the release of a young male panda into the wild.

Very little is known about the behavior and breeding patterns of these shy mountain creatures. Breeding them in captivity largely began as a case of trial and error. But the plan is working and now the dream of releasing captive-bred pandas into the wild has become a reality. At birth, pandas are exceptionally vulnerable; blind and tiny. The cubs at Wolong National Nature Reserve's Bifengxia Panda Base are raised carefully and lovingly, developing playful and affectionate bonds with their keepers, and are carefully monitored by the vets and wildlife scientists at the base.

After years spent simply trying to breed more cubs and raise them to adulthood, the conservationists are now embarking on the next phase of their species-wide rescue mission: releasing these charges back into the wild. But there is a challenge facing them. Pandas raised by humans are not equipped to survive on their own. The last panda to be released, several years ago, survived for only one year before being killed by predators. The conservationists are determined to prevent tragedies like this from happening, and have developed a comprehensive wild training program for the pandas in their care. As a transitional environment, they use the breeding center in Wolong, where the pandas are distanced from humans and prepared to live a life in the wild.

Audiences are introduced to one of the residents, Tao-Tao, who is destined to be released into the remote LiTzu Ping reserve, where only 13 pandas remain. The hope is that Tao-Tao, strong and healthy, will find a female panda and introduce a new bloodline to this precious wild group. Tao-Tao could be the last chance of survival for this tiny population of giant pandas. Audiences are introduced to the conservationists at Wolong tasked to teach Tao-Tao to find water and food on his own and to recognize danger. Cameras capture Tao-Tao's much-anticipated release into the wild, an emotional culmination of years of work, carrying the hope for the future of the species.

PANDAS: THE JOURNEY HOME
invites audiences to witness all of the extraordinary efforts to save the panda and introduce them back in to the wild. With the species excruciatingly close to extinction, PANDAS: THE JOURNEY HOME is an extraordinary picture of how pandas live and the astonishing measures conservationists are taking to ensure their future.

For more information on PANDAS: THE JOURNEY HOME, including Theater Listings, links to the trailer, and behind-the-scenes videos, visit http://ngpandas.com. Become a fan on Facebook at facebook.com/NatGeoMovies. Or follow us on Twitter @NatGeoMovies.

About National Geographic Cinema Ventures/National Geographic Entertainmen
t
National Geographic Cinema Ventures/National Geographic Entertainment is responsible for production and distribution of giant screen, 3-D and specialty films. Over the last decade, NGCV/NGE has produced or released a number of successful films, including Oscar-nominated documentaries "Restrepo" and "The Story of the Weeping Camel"; giant-screen award-winning films "Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure," "U2 3D," "Mysteries of Egypt" and "Forces of Nature"; and feature-length films "The Last Lions" and "Life in a Day." Lisa Truitt is president of NGCV/NGE, and Mark Katz is president of NGCV/NGE distribution. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com/movies.
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Washington, D.C., January 2, 2014) Bolivia’s Barba Azul Nature Reserve, home to the world’s largest population of the majestic Blue-throated Macaw, has been doubled in size through efforts led by Asociación Armonía, Bolivian partner of American Bird Conservancy (ABC).

Asociación Armonía and several partner groups worked together to purchase an additional 14,820 acres that have expanded Barba Azul Nature Reserve from 12,350 acres to 27,180 acres. The reserve is the only protected savanna in Bolivia’s Beni bioregion that is spared cattle grazing and yearly burning for agricultural purposes.

“Barba Azul” means “Blue Beard” in Spanish and is the local name for the Blue-throated Macaw, which only occurs in Bolivia and is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature). It was also recently listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The Barba Azul Nature Reserve is the world’s only protected area for the Blue-throated Macaw; the reserve has hosted the largest known concentration of these birds, with close to 100 recorded on the reserve at times.

“Conservation actions of this magnitude for small organizations in poor countries are only possible with outside help. Doubling the size of the Barba Azul Nature Reserve is an excellent example of conservation groups combining their effort to achieve a massive conservation product,” said Bennett Hennessey, Executive Director of Asociación Armonía.

Several organizations and individuals teamed up to achieve this historic conservation result: American Bird Conservancy, Patricia and David Davidson, International Conservation Fund of Canada, IUCN NL / SPN (sponsored by the Netherlands Postcode Lottery), Loro Parque Fundación, Rainforest Trust, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act Grants Program, Robert Wilson Charitable Trust, and World Land Trust.

The reserve extension protects broad grassy plains of the Beni savanna that are seasonally flooded in the rainy season. Also included in the newly protected area are a small river as well as “islands” of tropical forest characterized by tropical hardwoods and palms in this sea of grass. Two large forested islands provide crucial foraging habitat for Blue-throated Macaws, while more than 20 small forested islands provide roosting and potential nesting sites for these birds.

“The small forested islands appear to be great sites to use artificial nest boxes to attract Blue-throated Macaws to breed here,” Hennessey added. Armonía is currently working at the reserve to attract Blue-throated Macaws to artificial nest boxes, with support from ABC, Bird Endowment, Loro Parque Fundación, and the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund.

In addition to the macaw, the Barba Azul Nature Reserve supports roughly 250 species of birds. The tall grasslands provide habitat for the Cock-tailed Tyrant and Black-masked Finch, both listed as Vulnerable by IUCN, as well as healthy populations of the Greater Rhea (Near Threatened) and migratory Bobolink from North America. Extensive wetlands attract flocks of waterbirds, including the Orinoco Goose (Near Threatened), which use nest boxes on the reserve. Armonía staff observed more than 1,000 Buff-breasted Sandpipers on the reserve in 2012, making Barba Azul the most important stop-over site for this species in Bolivia. The reserve extension will protect five additional miles of short-grass river shore habitat used by Buff-breasted Sandpipers during their spring migration.

Barba Azul is also a haven for mammals, thanks to the reserve’s protection of the Omi River, which is the only year-round source of water for miles around and a critical dry-season resource. The extension of Barba Azul improves its ability to protect the 27 species of medium and large mammals that depend on this habitat, including giant anteater (Vulnerable), pampas cat, puma, marsh deer (Vulnerable), pampas deer, white-collared peccary, and capybara. The reserve extension is critically important to maintain large protected areas for species needing expansive territories, like the maned wolf and jaguar.

The Beni savanna is an area twice the size of Portugal. It is a land of extreme contrasts, with intensive flooding in the summer and months of drought in the winter. Almost entirely occupied by private cattle ranches, these savannas have undergone hundreds of years of logging, hunting, and cattle ranching. Overgrazing, annual burning to promote new grass growth for cattle, and the planting of exotic grass species have greatly altered this ecosystem, which is now considered critically endangered.

Frequent burning, overgrazing, and timber harvests within forest patches degrade habitat for Blue-throated Macaws and may limit the number and suitability of nesting sites. At Barba Azul, exclusion of cattle is already resulting in the restoration of forest understories, and artificial nest boxes offer hope that Blue-throated Macaws will have more opportunities to breed.

“When we originally purchased the Barba Azul Nature Reserve, it was a habitat that held high abundance of many animals. But once we removed cattle and stopped hunting, net fishing, logging, and uncontrolled grassland burning, the true destructive impact of an overgrazed, poorly controlled ranch could be seen. Everything is rebounding as if the area is recovering from a drought,” said Hennessey.

The Blue-throated Macaw population has declined due to habitat degradation and trafficking for the pet trade. In addition to establishing the reserve, Armonía has worked with local communities in the Beni region to raise awareness of this species and effectively halt illegal trade in this macaw. Additionally, Armonía has provided local communities with beautiful synthetic feather head-dresses for use in traditional festivals as a conservation-friendly alternative to feathers gathered from wild macaws.

Barba Azul is a great place for birdwatchers, wildlife photographers, and researchers, who come from around the world to study birds and mammals based out of the research center on site. Armonía will be building additional cabins for tourists over the coming year. If you are interested in visiting the reserve, please contact BirdBolivia or find more information at ConservationBirding.org. More information about ABC and Armonía’s efforts to conserve the Blue-throated Macaw and Beni savannas is available on their websites.

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American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats, while building capacity in the bird conservation movement. We are proud to be a consistent recipient of Charity Navigator’s four-star rating.

Asociación Armonía 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, Loro Parque Fundación, Rainforest Trust, and World Land Trust.

Rainforest Trust is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to purchase and protect threatened tropical forests and save endangered wildlife through community engagement and local partnerships. For 25 years, Rainforest Trust has saved over 7 million acres of critical habitat across the tropics and consistently receives Charity Navigator’s top four-star rating.

(Washington, DC November 26, 2013) Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has released a legislative proposal to greatly increase logging on over two million acres of federal forests in Oregon by truncating or eliminating environmental reviews and protections for endangered species.

 

“Logging mature forests that are now protected would come at too a high a price in terms of lost habitat to endangered species such as the Marbled Murrelet, clean drinking water, carbon storage to protect the global atmosphere, and tourism and recreation. These forests are worth far more if allowed to grow,” said Steve Holmer, senior policy advisor with American Bird Conservancy.

 

Sen. Wyden’s plan ignores a large number of recent scientific studies and government rulemakings indicating additional wildlife habitat conservation is needed in Oregon. By increasing logging over such a large area, it undermines the Northwest Forest Plan, the regional framework protecting the old-growth forest ecosystem and endangered birds such as the Marbled Murrelet and Northern Spotted Owl.

 

The Northwest Forest Plan protects many forests over 80 years old with the goal of allowing these stands to mature into old growth and over time provide additional habitat for listed species. Sen. Wyden’s proposal would eliminate the protection for much of the 80- to 120-year-old forests. This would prevent enough old growth forests from ever maturing and filling in the gaps in the heavily fragmented landscape to create the large blocks of wildlife habitat called for by the Northwest Forest Plan.

 

The scientific community has strongly weighed in against the intensive logging approach being proposed by Sen. Wyden; first in a letter supporting the Northwest Forest Plan, and then in a second letter opposing legislation to expedite logging of recently burned forests important to wildlife. Another letter from the Pacific Seabird Group raises concern about the impact the proposed increase of logging and the renewed use of clearcutting on federal lands would have on the Marbled Murrelet, a threatened seabird that nests in the top branches of mature and old-growth trees.

 

Conservation groups have echoed these concerns with letters calling for additional habitat protection for the Marbled Murrelet, and for implementation of Recovery Action 12 which calls for the protection of burned forests to meet the habitat needs of Northern Spotted Owls and their prey.

 

“Creating timber production areas blows a hole into the Northwest Forest Plan in an area critical to listed Northern Spotted Owls and Murrelets,” said Holmer. “Skirting the Endangered Species Act and shutting out the public from how their public lands are managed is a disappointing step in the wrong direction.”

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American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats, while building capacity in the bird conservation movement.

 

ALERT ! ! ! ! TO ALL OF OUR ROAR FOUNDATION SUPPORTERS AND THE WORLD AT LARGE ! ! ! ! ALERT

 

We are at a world-changing time in the history of wild animals in captivity and in the wild!!!......WE NEED YOUR HELP IN ORDER FOR TWO ISSUES TO COME TO FRUITION!!!!

First..... the Federal Bill I brought to my U.S. Rep. Buck McKeon to stop the insanity of breeding Exotic Felines such as, Lion, Tiger, Leopard and Jaguar in the U.S. to be sold as pets or for financial gain will be before Congress again within the next few weeks. The title, "Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act", formerly H..R.# 4122, and S. # 3547, will be given new numbers during the coming session.

Please stay on top of this urgently needed bill thru www.shambala.org and write to your Congressional Representatives and Senators.

Second....The .U.S. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife is considering and is urgently requesting studied opinions on adding The African Lion to the Endangered Species List. Considering the rapid diminishing numbers of this species due to encroaching civilization, trophy hunting and poaching, (same issues I've talked about for years), it is indeed time we take advantage of this opportunity to let our Government know the severity of this huge problem and encourage them to put the African Lion on the endangered list as stipulated in the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as soon as possible.

Again, we are at a very important time in the History of Greats Cats on our planet. We have until 11: 59 P.M. January 28, 2013 to have your opinion registered!!! After that, your statement may not be registered or given credence!!!!!!

Please, contact friends, family, celebrities to help this monumental problem come to a close!!!!!

Below, you will find information on why it is so urgent to be a part of this movement!!!!....included are important, and not well publicized issues, that will help you with your statements.

U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife link with information

U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife link to make comments

 

Your voice is important!!!!!......It counts!!!!......Use it!!!!!.....Please, and thank you for caring, and acting on those feelings.

With love for The Wild Ones Everywhere!!!!!

 


 

 

 

 

 

Tippi Hedren

The Roar Foundation

Shambala Preserve

Donate to Shambala
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