Displaying items by tag: rare species

New York, NY – New data have renewed concerns about the potential impact of the proposed Nicaraguan Interoceanic Canal on the future of the jaguar and other species if proper mitigation actions are not taken.

Gathered by Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) and Panthera, in collaboration with Michigan State University (MSU), four years of data have allowed researchers to identify two significant genetic pathways for jaguars and other species that may be bisected by the Canal. Without these pathways, three of Nicaragua’s rarest large mammal species, jaguars, white-lipped peccaries, and Baird’s tapirs, will struggle to find other individuals in neighboring populations for breeding, which is key to conserving the genetic diversity of these species and therefore healthy populations.

“Bisecting these pathways could endanger the survival of some of Nicaragua’s most emblematic species,” said Dr. Wes Sechrest, Chief Scientist and CEO of GWC. “We all have a role to play in ensuring the future of the wildlife we share our planet with; working to ensure that development projects have the smallest environmental impact possible must be a top priority of governments and companies globally.”

In 2013, the Hong Kong-based Nicaraguan Canal Development Company (HKND) received a concession to build the approximately 170-mile long interoceanic canal. HKND defined the route of the proposed canal in 2014 and is set to begin major construction at the end of 2015. The proposed canal is designed to accommodate the world’s largest shipping vessels, including those unable to pass through the Panama Canal, and canal officials predict that the megaproject will double Nicaragua’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Researchers at GWC and Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, ran analyses to identify the key genetic pathways for jaguars, Baird’s tapirs, and white-lipped peccaries in the proposed canal zone after obtaining a camera trap photo of a jaguar on the proposed canal route in November of 2014. The camera trap photo was taken in the indigenous Rama community, Bangkukuk, one of the epicenters of proposed canal development on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua.

As recently as 15 years ago, the indigenous territories of Caribbean Nicaragua boasted some of the largest forests in the Central American isthmus. Since then, illegal cattle ranching has devastated huge expanses of these forests, leaving relatively little habitat for wildlife and threatening the food security and cultural survival of the indigenous and afro-descendant peoples who hold legal, communal tenure to the land. Most remaining viable habitat, and the only remaining reserves of significant size, are found in and around the indigenous and afro-descendant communities. The two pathways that GWC and Panthera have identified are both within indigenous lands and are the only active portions of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor in this region of Nicaragua.  

Researchers from GWC and Panthera submitted a technical report to the Nicaraguan authorities with a list of suggestions and possible mitigation actions that could prevent the loss of wildlife dispersal and genetic connectivity in the context of canal construction. The report emphasizes the acute threat posed by the still advancing cattle ranching frontier, and the importance of prioritizing actions to address it.

“Even in the absence of canal construction, without increased efforts to address the expanding cattle ranching frontier, the country’s remaining Caribbean reserves will effectively disappear within the next 10-15 years,” said Sandra Potosme, Panthera’s Nicaragua Coordinator. “In our opinion, if we are to maintain genetic connectivity for these three threatened and ecologically important species, it is not only important to include environmental mitigation actions specifically designed to support their dispersal through the canal zone, but critical for all of us involved in Nicaraguan conservation to work closely with local and national authorities to help tackle the cattle ranching invasion and fully invest in the conservation of the country’s indigenous lands and protected areas.”

The IUCN Red List classifies jaguars as Near Threatened globally, but they are rare in Nicaragua with a population of fewer than 500. Baird’s tapirs are close to Critically Endangered in Central America and many biologists believe that range-wide hunting has made the white-lipped peccary the most threatened mammal in Central America. All three play unique and important ecological roles.

“Nicaragua’s government is among eight countries throughout the Americas that have signed formal agreements with Panthera to recognize the critical importance of the international jaguar corridor and to help protect it,” said Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, Panthera’s CEO. “We are optimistic that we can work together to make a concerted, science-based effort to conserve genetic connectivity for wildlife in the context of the proposed canal.” 

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Panthera

Panthera, founded in 2006, is devoted exclusively to the conservation of wild cats and their ecosystems. Utilizing the expertise of the world’s premier cat biologists, Panthera develops and implements global conservation strategies for the most imperiled large cats – tigers, lions, jaguars, snow leopards, cheetahs, cougars and leopards. Representing the most comprehensive effort of its kind, Panthera works in partnership with local and international NGOs, scientific institutions, local communities and governments around the globe. Visit Panthera

Global Wildlife Conservation

Global Wildlife Conservation protects endangered species and habitats through science-based field action. GWC envisions a world with diverse and abundant wildlife and are dedicated to ensuring that the species on the verge of extinction are not lost. The global organization brings together scientists, conservationists, policymakers and industry leaders to ensure a truly collaborative approach to species conservation. Learn more at www.globalwildlife.org



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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