CITES rejects Madagascar’s bid to sell rosewood and ebony stockpiles

first_imgThe standing committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) had its annual meeting in Geneva November 27 through December 1.The committee rejected Madagascar’s petition to sell its stockpiles of seized rosewood and ebony that had been illegally cut from the country’s rainforests.CITES delegates agreed that while a future sale of the stockpiles might be possible, Madagascar was not yet ready for such a risky undertaking, which could allow newly chopped logs to be laundered and traded overseas.Other notable outcomes of the CITES meeting dealt with the sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis), pangolins, and the critically endangered vaquita porpoise (Phocoena sinus). In August, the government of Madagascar drafted a business plan to sell its stockpiles of rosewood and ebony — hundreds of thousands of logs. The plan required the approval of CITES, which has banned the trade of all species of Malagasy rosewood (Dalbergia spp.) and ebony (Diospyros spp.) since 2013.On December 1 during a five-day meeting of its standing committee in Geneva, CITES rejected the plan because of the government’s lack of progress in tackling the so-called rosewood crisis and its failure, thus far, to audit enough of the stockpiles. Illegal logging of rosewood and other precious timber spiked in Madagascar’s northeastern rainforests, including in national parks, following a 2009 coup. The logging has since declined but the fate of stockpiled wood has remained an open question.Madagascar’s government controls only a small portion of the stockpiles. Most of the rosewood covered by the business plan is in “declared” stockpiles that remain in the possession of timber traders and have never been fully counted or verified. Most observers believe that timber barons have over-declared the number of logs in their stockpiles so that they can keep adding to them, and that theStockpiled rosewood logs outside the provincial forestry and environment office in the northeastern city of Antalaha fill more than half the courtyard to head-height, but local officials there have no record of how much wood they are charged with securing. Photo by Rowan Moore Gerety for Mongabay.stockpiles are now being used as clearinghouses for newly cut, illegal timber. Millions more logs not covered by the government’s sale plan remain in hidden “undeclared” stockpiles around northeast Madagascar, observers believe.CITES delegates from the United States, the European Union, and various non-governmental organizations were vocal participants in rosewood discussions. These parties agreed that while a future sale of the stockpiles might be possible, Madagascar is not yet ready for such a risky undertaking. If not done carefully, such a sale could allow newly chopped logs to enter the international market. The rosewood issue did not come to a vote, but was decided by consensus.In the past few years, Malagasy authorities and foreign consultants made several haphazard efforts to audit the stockpiles. Many of the logs now have colored markings from the different audits. These markings are often found on Malagasy rosewood that is seized at international ports, according to conservation NGOs — a sure sign that traffickers are accessing the stockpiles.“We know that the stockpiles are fluid, and they have been taken from already,” Colman O’Criodain, a policy manager at WWF who attended the CITES meeting told Mongabay. “There have been big seizures of wood that was once in these stockpiles.”Logs in a government stockpile in the northeastern city of Antalaha. Many bear the marks of multiple rosewood inventories carried out since 2010: barcodes affixed in late 2015, as well as blue, yellow, and red paint from earlier counts. Photo by Rowan Moore Gerety for Mongabay.Rosewood, which has a rich crimson interior, is the most trafficked type of wildlife in the world. Almost all of it ends up in China, where it’s used in high-end furniture.In Madagascar, storage costs are low, but maintaining the stockpiles nonetheless presents major challenges. Traffickers steal from the stockpiles or use them to launder illegal wood, sometimes by swapping out real rosewood logs for pine or eucalyptus. And the longer the wood sits outside government offices or in metal containers, the more its quality diminishes. After a year or two, the wood can grow dry and crack, reducing its value.At the CITES meeting, Johanita Ndahimananjara, Madagascar’s Minister of Environment, Ecology, and Forests, argued that Madagascar needs to sell the stockpiled rosewood in order to fund its rosewood conservation efforts. Her plan called for Madagascar to buy $7 million worth of rosewood and ebony from the owners of the declared stockpiles and then sell it in a series of international auctions. It is unclear how much Madagascar could earn from the such auctions; the business plan listed potential values ranging from under $5 million to upwards of $136 million.Almost everyone in the room opposed Madagascar’s plan. Among other issues, conservation groups did not support the plan to pay timber traders $7 million.“It would undermine the very work they are trying to do” to manage the crisis, Susanne Breitkopf, a forest policy manager at the Environmental Investigation Agency who attended the CITES meeting, told Mongabay.Breitkopf and O’Criodain both told Mongabay that the only party to support Madagascar’s business plan was in fact the World Bank. But Benjamin Garnaud, a natural resource management specialist for the World Bank who is based in Madagascar and who attended the CITES meeting, told Mongabay that he agreed with the NGOs on the central question at hand: Madagascar is absolutely not ready to sell its stock, he said.The World Bank is working with Madagascar to set up a stockpile disposal mechanism: the logs must be inspected, graded, marked with anti-counterfeit technology, transported, and ultimately sold or disposed of in another way. To build this mechanism, the World Bank has already loaned Madagascar $3 to $4 million. Garnaud suggested that if the logs don’t end up being sold, they could be used for furniture in Malagasy schools. Madagascar could also burn the logs, as some African countries have done with ivory from elephant tusks.Last year, CITES declared that Madagascar must audit at least one third of its stockpiles before the ban on the trade of rosewood and ebony could be lifted. But it’s difficult to determine the number of logs in the stockpiles. Garnaud estimates that there are about 30,000 logs in seized government stockpiles, and about 300,000 in declared private stock, but there have been five inventories since 2011, each producing different results. The biggest problem with the “one-third” stipulation, according to Garnaud, is that if Madagascar sold one third of its logs before fully accounting for the rest, it would open the door for timber barons to add newly cut rosewood, or hidden stock, into the “declared” group.Last week, CITES issued a new recommendation to Madagascar: find and recover the rosewood from the hidden stockpiles. The standing committee also, for the first time, explicitly asked Madagascar to prosecute high-level offenders in the rosewood trade, which the government has not done in recent years.The next CITES standing committee meeting will be in Russia in October 2018. That will be Madagascar’s next opportunity to petition the body to sell the stockpiles.Chart shows estimates of the number of rosewood logs in stockpiles of seized wood owned by the Madagascar government (Seized) and in the possession of rosewood operators who have declared them to the government (Declared). There are also  undeclared rosewood stocks in private hands that are believed to outsize even the declared stocks. Numbers for 2010 through 2013 come from a 2016 report by the NGO TRAFFIC that relied on Madagascar government data; numbers for 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 come from a report [pdf] by the Madagascar government to the CITES standing committee in advance of its recent meeting.Other developments at the CITES meetingLast week’s standing committee meeting was the largest on record, with more than 500 participants. They discussed a large slate of issues from around the world, including three that garnered particular attention.Japan came under heavy scrutiny for targeting sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis) in the North Pacific. The whales are listed under Appendix I of CITES, meaning they are threatened with extinction and can only be traded “in exceptional circumstances.” Japan says its whaling program is for research purposes, so the standing committee decided to do more fact-finding before taking further action. Environmental groups were disappointed; they say Japan’s program has killed 134 of the endangered whales so far this year.Last year, CITES placed a ban on the trade of pangolins, the world’s most trafficked mammals, but at the Geneva meeting, China requested an exemption for stockpiled pangolin scales. The request was voted down almost unanimously. (This was the only issue that came to a vote all week; most CITES decisions are made by consensus.)In the final action of the week, the United States, Mexico, and China agreed to take steps to protect the vaquita (Phocoena sinus), a small porpoise found only in the Gulf of California. The vaquita is critically endangered, with only around 30 individuals left, due to illegal fishing of totoaba, a critically endangered fish whose swim bladders are often smuggled through the United States en route to China. A high-level CITES mission to Mexico will take place in February.A pangolin at a rescue center in Cambodia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.Banner image: Red ruffed lemur (Varecia rubra), a species that lives in northeastern Madagascar, where rosewood logging has been severe. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Biodiversity, Biodiversity Hotspots, Cites, Conservation, Crime, Deforestation, Ecology, Ecosystems, Environment, Environmental Crime, Environmental Policy, Featured, Forest Products, Forests, Governance, Green, Habitat, Habitat Degradation, Habitat Destruction, Illegal Logging, Logging, National Parks, Organized Crime, Parks, Protected Areas, Rainforest Conservation, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforests, Rosewood, Trees, Wildlife center_img Article published by Rebecca Kesslerlast_img read more

In other news: Environmental stories from around the web, March 16, 2018

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Conservation, Environment, Weekly environmental news update Article published by John Cannoncenter_img There are many important conservation and environmental stories Mongabay isn’t able to cover.Here’s a digest of some of the significant developments from the week.If you think we’ve missed something, feel free to add it in the comments. Tropical forestsCash convinces forest dwellers to cut down fewer trees, a new study in five developing countries finds (University of Colorado at Boulder/EurekAlert).The loss of Central Africa’s elephants could fundamentally alter the makeup of the region’s forests (Duke University/EurekAlert).“Major” biodiversity reports will headline Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services meeting in Colombia beginning March 17 (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)/EurekAlert).A study of some 80,000 plants and animals finds that climate change could wipe out local populations of half of species (University of East Anglia/EurekAlert, The Hindu, The Guardian).The growing role of zoos and aquariums in safeguarding the world’s biodiversity documented in a new book (Arizona State University/EurekAlert).New study looks at the impact of climate change on yellow fever in Africa (PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases/EurekAlert).Fragmenting forests in Costa Rica are a bigger problem for native plants than monkeys (Phys.org).Other newsAngola’s elephants need “active protection” if they’re going to survive, new study finds (PLOS One/EurekAlert).Ticks and Lyme disease on the rise in Canada as a result of climate change (Mother Jones/Undark).Mongolia is a land of wet and dry extremes that may not be worsened by climate change (University of Arizona/EurekAlert).Rising sea levels are imperiling Easter Island (The New York Times).White House chief of staff axes EPA head’s plans for debates to question climate change (The New York Times).The war on pollution in China appears to be working (The New York Times).Climate change panel looks for ways to involve more women in publications (Science Magazine).Avalanches in the Western Himalayas increase with rising temperatures (Phys.org).Stephen Hawking’s views on climate change and other threats to life on Earth (BBC News).Climate change drives extreme conditions in the Horn of Africa, threatening the region’s people with famine (The New York Times).Krill fishing could destabilize the Antarctic marine ecosystem (The Guardian).Weighing the costs and benefits of hydropower (Norwegian University of Science and Technology/EurekAlert).Photos document the effort to save the yellow-eyed penguin (The Guardian).New research: Stop overfishing and it will cut bycatch in half (Phys.org).Turtle and tortoise species are sliding toward extinction (The Revelator).Trash piles up in the Galapagos as ecotourism takes its toll (The Revelator).The high costs of sustainable aviation fuel (The Economist).Lazarus hare: A small mammal thought to be extinct in Nepal reappears after more than 30 years (INASP/ScienceDaily).Microplastics found in 90 percent of bottled water prompts WHO investigation (The Guardian).Banner image of an African savanna elephant by John C. Cannon.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.last_img read more

Animal trainers are teaching wildlife to conserve themselves

first_imgAnimal Behavior, Animal Intelligence, Animals, Arctic Animals, Biodiversity, Biodiversity Crisis, Birds, Butterflies, Captive Breeding, Carnivores, Charismatic Animals, Chimpanzees, Conservation, Dolphins, Ecology, Ecosystems, Endangered Species, Environment, Extinction, Featured, Green, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Human-wildlife Conflict, Mammals, Monkeys, Polar Bears, Primates, Research, Restoration, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation, Zoos Positive training helps pets and their owners bond. But animal trainers working to conserve wildlife often have the opposite goal: teaching animals in the wild to avoid human beings — people often being the most dangerous creatures in the jungle.Wildlife kept in zoos have been trained with rewards to accept unnatural processes, procedures that previously might have required restraint or even anesthesia: allowing tooth brushing, hoof trimming, injections and blood draws — turning once alien actions into positive experiences for the captive animals.Animal trainers decades ago learned to train dolphins without having physical contact with the animals. More recently, a chimpanzee troop in Sierra Leone was taught to scream alarm in unison when poachers approached, alerting nearby rangers to come to the rescue — achieving an 80 percent decrease in poaching.Trainers have taught captive bred condors how to be more like wild condors, seeking food within their natural habitat and not congregating in towns. They’ve also taught polar bears to avoid anything associated with humans, preventing the bears from raiding trash cans and significantly decreasing wildlife conflicts. Ken Ramirez honed his animal training skills working for many years with dolphins. Photo courtesy of Ken RamirezMention animal training and most of us imagine teaching a dog to sit up for a treat — not something with an obvious conservation connection. But in fact, modern scientifically based wildlife training traces its origins not to canines, but to dolphins, aquatic mammals with whom trainers had to devise teaching methods neither involving force nor requiring direct contact.Today, the techniques first practiced with dolphins many decades ago are used with a surprising number of wild species, ranging from chimpanzees (not so surprising), to butterflies (quite surprising!). Notably, conservationists are finding that the skills of animal trainers can be effective in protecting animals, even in their natural habitats.The concept of training wild animals in their native environments seems strange to most of us, agrees Ken Ramirez, likely because we have the wrong idea about it. “There’s a big misperception about what training is,” he says. “The simple definition of training is teaching, and teaching is not an unnatural thing.”Wild animals teach their offspring how to find food, how to avoid predators; they are learning all the time via their interactions with their environment. “The only thing a professional trainer does is we help guide that learning.”Animal trainer Ramirez with an otter pup. Photo courtesy of Ken RamirezZoo learningRamirez speaks from 40 years experience, including more than 25 years at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. He literally wrote the textbook on positive reinforcement for animal management in captivity. Following these methods, zoo trainers have taught animals around the globe to cooperate willingly with procedures that previously required restraint or even anesthesia: allowing tooth brushing, hoof trimming, even injections and blood draws — turning once alien actions into positive experiences for captive animals.“They participate because it’s a fun game they’ve been taught to play,” says Ramirez. “If you teach a tiger to come into an enclosure for a medical exam, when they come into the enclosure you might give them a big slab of meat or a toy they like to play with — something that makes it worthwhile for them to participate.”That’s no different from what happens in nature, say where an animal climbs a particular species of tree and finds a certain type of fruit. Over time, that animal learns to climb that tree again and again in expectation of the same positive result.Keeping that fact in mind, any animal can be trained, even those we don’t think of as “smart.” Ramirez, for example, once trained 10,000 butterflies for a show where the insects flew en masse, on cue, from one location to another in three different groups, at three different times.“Whether you’re talking about a butterfly or you’re talking about a Harvard graduate, we all learn the same way,” says Ramirez.In Sierra Leone, a chimpanzee troop was trained to scream in unison when humans appeared on the scene, sounding an alarm that alerted nearby rangers to the approach of poachers. The researchers were surprised to see the adult chimps pass this lesson on to their young. Photo on Visual HuntTraining at a distanceTraining animals in zoos is all well and good, but applying such techniques in the wild has its challenges. For example, even if you could get near the wild animals you wished to teach, you wouldn’t want them to associate people with a reward — especially since one of the most important conservation lessons a wild animal may need to learn is to keep away from us, because humans can be very dangerous.So trainers who work with wildlife must actively figure out how to reward at a distance, within a species’ home territory.One ongoing project that Ramirez helped design involves a troop of wild chimpanzees in Sierra Leone. Trainers began with a behavior that was already present — a chimp, or several chimps, tended to scream when seeing an unfamiliar human. The trainers’ goal: teach the troop to all call in unison when they saw poachers, raising a racket loud enough to be heard at a nearby ranger station.The trainers designed a remotely activated system of PVC pipes able to dispense food to the treetops at the push of a button. If a chimp screamed when an unfamiliar vehicle or human was spotted, the button was pushed and positive reinforcement provided in the form of treats for all the chimps.“The animals learned that [the arrival of strangers is] the cue to scream at the top of my lungs, and if I scream at the top of my lungs, insects and fruit suddenly appear,” Ramirez explains. Before long, the whole troop was consistently screaming in unison, sounding the alarm. The result since the project was first implemented in 2000: an 80 percent decline in chimps lost to poaching. A bigger surprise, the lesson, once learned, became part of the troop’s culture: the adult primates have passed the new behavior on to their offspring.A condor in flight. Animal trainers assisted researchers in teaching captive bred condors how to act more like wild condors. Photo credit: szeke on Visual Hunt / CC BY-SALessons from wildlife reintroductionsOne early example of animal training that helped a conservation project to succeed involved the captive breeding and reintroduction of the California condor. Biologists were careful to raise the condors without ever seeing people so they wouldn’t associate humans with food and care. But, when researchers released the first batch of captive raised birds, there was an unexpected problem.That’s when they called in Steve Martin, a bird trainer with decades of experience, who has consulted with more than a hundred zoos around the world.Martin was taken to a valley town below the release site, and saw the trouble: “Condors were landing on roadways, landing on houses, landing on power poles and getting electrocuted,” he says. “They were landing at a little cafe and people were feeding the condors hamburgers and hotdogs on the ground outside. Condors were everywhere.”The biologists were perplexed by this unnatural behavior. But Martin immediately knew what had happened: no one had ever taught these condors how to be condors.“Condors in the wild spend two years with their parents. That’s when they learn the skills for survival. They learn how to avoid danger and find food,” he says. Now the scientists had “taken these young condors with no parental guidance and sent them out in the wild with just a pat on the back and a wish for good luck.”To get the birds out of town, the biologists had tried hoses and water guns. But the birds only learned to be afraid of scientists. “The neighbors can walk right up to them, but they see our cars and our uniforms and they fly away,” a frustrated conservationist told Martin, who worked with the project from 2000-2010.Martin recognized the problem: “They were asking the wrong question: ‘How do we stop the condors from going into town?’ The right question was: ‘What do we want them to do instead?’ — Instead of trying to punish the behavior of going into town, focus on the behavior you want, which is staying in the mountains.”Animal trainer Steve Martin assisted biologists in successfully reintroducing condors to the wild. Photo credit: USFWS Pacific Southwest Region on VisualHunt.com / CC BYPart of the solution was changing how the released birds were provisioned. Initially upon release, they had been getting the same kind of food at the same time on the same days. Martin instructed the scientists to begin providing a variety of foods at random times. “By building in some variability — type, amount and location of food — we get [the condors] thinking about it,” he says. And knowing food could show up at any time at the provisioning site in the wild, it became worth it to stick around and wait for it.Another crucial lesson: the team had to stand in as parents and teach the condors that humans were potentially dangerous — even at a distance — in order to keep them far enough away to avoid being shot.A teaching opportunity offered itself: while the condors were in pre-release pens in the mountains, the researchers needed to handle the birds a few times in order to attach ID tags and do health testing. To train in aversion to humans, two people — the first ever seen by the birds — would approach down a nearby path. Immediately, keepers would rush into the pens, catch the birds, attach the tags and do the tests.“The first time the condors saw the people out there [on the trail], they were just curious and sat on their perches. Then fourteen people came into the pen with nets and the condors just sat there looking at them, not knowing what they were,” Martin recalls, and those “people could literally walk up to a condor and grab them by the leg or wing.”But the birds definitely learned from that first encounter. The next couple of times the process was repeated, most of them became agitated as soon as they saw the people on the path. “Then those fourteen people came in, and this time it was really hard to catch those condors.”The technique was ultimately effective. After release, a few birds approached people and had to be brought in for retraining. But most had learned the lesson, and some of those condors are still out there, playing their part in a hugely successful conservation story.Polar bears were successfully taught to not hunt for food in human communities in a project that ran from 2009-2015. Photo on VisualHuntTrainers in the wildWhile the condors were trained before release, Ramirez has solved a similar problem with wild polar bears in a project that took place from 2009-2015. The traditional solution to bears coming into towns to forage had been to post guards and shoot off firecracker shells when one was spotted. That would scare the big predators away for the moment, but had no long term-effect: the same bears would return again and again, with some towns experiencing over 300 encounters per year — a potential threat to both animals and people.Ramirez saw that while the townspeople had the right idea using scare tactics, their timing was off. “Here’s the thing we know about behavior: you can make permanent changes to behavior if you teach it the right way,” he says. “If you’re going to scare the bear anyway, wait to scare the bear till it connects [the scare] to something human.”Making noise when a bear was first spotted on a road approaching the town didn’t teach it anything useful. Instead, Ramirez says, wait till its nose touches a garbage can, a fence, the wheel of a truck, something human. Then scare it! Think: a housemate waiting in ambush and yelling at you every time you approach the fridge for a late night snack.“Sometimes it only has to happen once and that bear now knows: I need to avoid human things,” he says. “You still don’t hurt the bear; you still scare it away like you were doing anyway, but now you use behavior principles to time that scary incident with something that you want it to always avoid.”The goal of animal trainers was to teach polar bears to seek food in the wild, not in towns. Photo credit: nubui on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-SAEasy vs. difficult choicesRamirez says that determining the rationale behind successful wildlife training isn’t mysterious, it’s often very familiar: “Like all of us, if we have a choice between doing something the easy way and doing it the hard way, most of us will take the easy way. So that’s what you do to help animals make the correct choice. Make the choice that you want them to pick, easy. Make the choice you want them to quit doing, harder.”Take the polar bears for example. At first, human food sources were easy to access. The trainers made that choice harder for the bears in two ways: not only were scare tactics made more timely so as to be associated with the food source itself, but the townspeople also were encouraged to better secure dumpsters, trash cans and other items that attracted the animals.Then in addition to making human food harder to get and an unpleasant experience, the bears were given positive reinforcement by being shown where to get easier meals. Food lures were placed in such a way as to draw the animals away from town and into wild habitat with a natural food supply.It worked: “In some of these towns, there were over 300 incidents per year. In many cases those incidents were reduced to less than ten,” says Ramirez.Carrot vs. stickWhen creating teachable moments to enhance conservation efforts, trainers employ a range of methods to help wildlife recognize and avoid dangerous situations. But both Ramirez and Martin agree that it is best to first seek a way to reward a desired behavior, rather than punish an undesirable one.Ramirez has spent much of his career trying to convince people to train their dogs using positive reinforcement. And Martin points out that scientific studies have shown that training pets with punishment can have adverse consequences.But when a wild animal’s survival is at stake, all possible tools need to be considered — including devising a momentary unpleasant experience to make a dangerous behavior unattractive. The key is choosing the right tool for the right task at the right moment. “We are always looking for how to use positive reinforcement to get what we want, but if we are going to use something aversive, we use sound behavior principles so the animal learns something in that one encounter,” Ramirez says.Of course, he adds, both pleasant and unpleasant learning experiences are common in the wild. “If an animal escapes a predator, that animal quickly learns how to detect [the] predator and how to avoid it.” Aversion-training applied by humans can happen quickly and humanely — and while the animals may not enjoy the teachable moment, they’re never in any real danger.Animal trainers emphasize one big difference between training a dog and teaching a polar bear to stay out of the trash: conservation projects aren’t designed to bring people and animals closer together. “Often with wildlife, you want to teach them to be afraid of people,” says Ramirez, behavior that can ultimately save their lives, and protect their species.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img Article published by Glenn Schererlast_img read more

BJP demands apology from Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik over BJD flag on martyr’s coffin

first_imgOpposition BJP on Friday demanded an unconditional apology from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik soon after a photograph of martyr Ajit Kumar Sahoo’s coffin, draped in a BJD flag, went viral on social media. The photograph was taken on Thursday and it was uploaded on Friday. Ajit Kumar Sahoo, a jawan of the 44 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) hailed from Dhenkanal district in Odisha. He was critically injured in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Jammu & Kashmir’s Pulwama district on June 17 and later succumbed to injuries while undergoing treatment at the hospital on June 18. “Let BJD president Naveen Patnaik tender unconditional apology for hurting sentiments of the people and the martyr’s family,” BJP Ex-Servicemen Cell State President Colonel B.K. Bastia told reporters here. “It is unfortunate that the martyr’s coffin was draped with a BJD flag instead of the Tricolour,” Mr. Bastia said. BJP national vice -president and former MP Baijayant Panda also demanded an apology from the ruling Party. “Very unfortunate, politicising the death of an Indian soldier by the ruling party in Odisha draping his coffin with their party flag instead of the Tricolour. ….,” Mr. Panda tweeted. “The BJD people offered floral tribute to the martyr near Khuntuni on the way to our village in Dhenkanal district. They covered the coffin with the BJD flag. The BJD flag was removed later. My brother was not working for any political party,” the martyr’s brother, Parameswar Sahoo, said. Odisha governor Ganeshi Lal and many other persons had paid tribute to the martyr as soon the body reached the Biju Patnaik International Airport late night on Wednesday. The coffin was then taken to Dhenkanal Mini Stadium and later to his native village Badasuanla where his mortal remains was consigned to flames. BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra has, however, described the incident as unfortunate and condemnable. “Our Party has a lot of respect for the martyrs and we condemn the incident. Stringent action will be taken against those who are involved in this episode,” he said.last_img read more