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Conservation News for October 26, 2018

The Week in Conservation for August 10, 2018

 Blesbok born in Belfast

This week the Belfast Zoo announced the birth of a new Blesbok calf. The Blesbok is an antelope spcies native to Africa and once thought to number in the millions. They were almost hunted to extinction in the 19th Century. With conservation efforts they have bounced back and their populations are on the rise.

Belfast Zoo celebrating the birth of Betty bantu the blesbok

Endangered horse breeds

The Shire horse is the largest horse breed ever. Once numbering in the millions, these animals were critical to helping humans farm and also in transportation pulling carts and carriages. In 1900, there were an estimated over 1 million Shire horses in the UK. Today they number around 1500. The Rare Breeds Survive Trust warns the Shire, Clydesdale and Suffolk horse breeds are at risk of extinction in the UK. This is interesting, since these unique breeds are no longer needed by humans to do the work we once needed from them, they are barely hanging on. It also raised interesting questions on conservation efforts of domestic animals compared to wild animals. Stay tuned for future news/discussion on this topic.

Is the Great British shire horse about to go extinct?

Red Tide Strikes Florida

A major concern for oceanic wildlife is happening off the Southwestern Florida coast. A massive red tide, or algae bloom, has been killing off wildlife at an unprecedented rate. The red tide stretches from south of Tampa down to Naples, Florida. Many species have died as a result to include many manatees, dolphins, fish, endangered sea turtles, and even a whale shark. The exact causes cannot be specifically outlined but climate change, agriculture, massive hurricanes, and other factors are believed to the cause. The toxic algae bloom releases toxic gases that has even sickened many people, and is no doubt negatively impacting the economies of local communities.

What travelers should know about Florida’s red tide

Did red tide kill this 26-foot long whale shark in Florida?

Dolphin death toll rises as red tide shows no signs of letting up

Scientists search for smoking gun in the dead zone of Florida’s red tide

Orca mother grieves for dead calf

Scientists continue to monitor a female Orca off the coast of Washington state in the US that continues to hold on and carry her dead calf. It has been 16 days, and the whale identified as J35, or given the nickname ‘Tahlequah’ has carried her calf after it died within the hour after giving birth. The Southern Resident Orca population is considered endangered as over the past 20 years 40 calves have been born, but the pod has lost 72 of its members. They are clearly in decline. Additionally, this story brings up a really interesting question on just how deep animal emotions can go. We will put this on a future podcast and discuss the science behind animal feelings, emotions, and other interesting behavior.

Orca mother grieving for dead calf inspires push to save dying pod

Animal Emotions: Exploring passionate natures

Leopard Gecko and the brain

Researchers have observed the leopard gecko can regenerate brain cells faster than many other animals. The potential this discovery has on human medicine cannot be understated. Studying the mechanisms by how these geckos can do this will lead scientists to potential new therapies for human medicine. Nature continues to astound us at every turn.

Leopard gecko can make new brain cells

42,000-year-old worms come to life

In what reads almost as a science fiction story, scientists in Asia have been able to resuscitate roundworms that have been frozen in the Siberian permafrost for tens of thousands of years. The researchers were able to bring the frozen worms back to the lab and bring them back to life. They report the worms moved around and even ate. This discovery can have profound implications to human medicine, specifically with cryomedicine, cryobiology, and astrobiology.

Worms frozen in permafrost for up to 42,000 years come back to life

Never give up your dreams

We want to recognize Mr. Elfyn Pugh who after retiring for 30 years as a police officer has gone back to his passion, conserving wildlife. Elfyn now works as a Marine mammal Surveyor Team Leader and is working to catalogue the life in our oceans.

An interview with Wise Oceans, Elfyn Pugh from ORCA

New Species this Week

Sylvia’s Tree Frog








The Week in Conservation for July 27, 2018

Cover Photo by Jurgen Ott

Proposed Culling of Hippos

Zambia is reinstating a plan to cull 2,000 hippos over the next five years. The plan was initially halted in 2016 but the Zambian authorities have reinstated the plan culling. A trophy hunting organization calling for this so-called “hippo management” is called Umililo Safaris. They claim that the hippo population is too large in the Luangwa Valley. However, conservation organizations argue there is absolutely no evidence that the hippo population is overcrowded. Further, hippos are listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the IUCN and are a species needing protection.

Zambia reinstates plan to cull 2,000 hippos

How many hippos are too many? Proposed cull raises questions

The Myths of Trophy Hunting

Iceland Continues its Whale Hunt

The call to boycott Iceland continues as authorities this week determined the recent whale killed was in fact an extremely rare Blue Whale/Fin Whale hybrid. These are so rare that there have only been 5 reported sightings of these hybrids since 1983. Furthermore, hybridization is rare and just continues to offer proof of the extreme stress these populations are under. Non-related species very rarely mate.

Additionally, the Fin Whale is an ENDANGERED SPECIES. Again, these animals are heading to extinction and the killing of any endangered species should anger anybody that cares about wildlife. In the 20th Century it is estimated close to 800,000 Fin Whales were killed. Today, throughout the world there are less than 100,000 Fin Whales in all of our oceans.

We suggest everyone boycotts any travel to Iceland until they reinstate the ban on the killing of endangered Fin Whales.

Whale killing: DNA shows Iceland whale was rare hybrid

United States Endangered Species Act Under Threat

President Trump’s administration continues its war over regulations established by both Republican and Democratic politicians. First passed by President Richard Nixon (R) 45 years ago, the Endangered Species Act has helped preserve and save countless endangered species in North America. Republican lawmakers are urging to roll back many protections for endangered species, claiming many of these special protections are harming business (energy, mining, forestry).

We URGE all United States Citizens to contact their politicians and tell them you are absolutely opposed to any legislation that harms our endangered animals and our environment. Also please visit:

2018 Stop Extinction Challenge

The Trump Administration wants to roll back the Endangered Species Act


Scientists Claim Rising Meat Consumption Will Devastate Environment

Global demand for meat consumption has doubled in the past 50 years from an average of 23kg per person to 43kg in 2014. While meat consumption has remained steady in wealthier countries, emerging economies like in China is pushing the higher demand. These scientists argue raising livestock, such as beef cattle, has a significant effect on increasing carbon emissions and habitat destruction (ie. Amazon rain forest). In another study, scientists state that more than 80% of all farmland is used for livestock (also feeds for livestock) but produce just 18% of the average diets calories and just 37% of total protein intake. By reducing meat consumption individual consumers will help combat these negative effects.

Conversely, in another study scientists argue that if every citizen of the United States went vegan greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 28%. However, meatless diets can lead to deficiencies in key nutrients humans need on a daily basis. While those practicing veganism can actually eat healthy diets with all available nutrients, the United States does not currently produce enough to meet every citizen’s needs. The debate rages on!

Rising global meat consumption will devastate the environment

Avoiding meat and dairy is single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth

What would happen if all Americans went vegan?

New Species of the Week

Maratus unicup spider

Genie’s Dogfish


The Week in Conservation for July 20, 2018

Stories from Little Known Critically-Endangered Species

To highlight some of the less “charismatic” endangered species this week we focused on a story discussing 10 of New Zealand’s little less known endangered (or possibly extinct) species. Species such as the Open Bay Island Leech receives almost no attention but animals like this are just as important as other charismatic species.

Ten Critically Endangered Critters With The Craziest Stories

Conservation Priorities

In New Zealand, 1/3 of the land mass is dedicated land managed by it’s Department of Conservation. Recently, an algorithm was created to evaluated the most important species for New Zealand and which to devote most of the resources to. However, DOC is employing a joint strategy of protecting whole ecosystems in their efforts to conserve as many species as possible.

How Do We Decide Which Endangered Species to Save

Indigenous People Are Needed for Conservation

Indigenous peoples make up only 5% of the total world population but live on ¼ of all the land (excluding Antarctica). Conservation experts now are pushing to engage these cultures in hoping to establish strategies on preserving the natural habitats in these areas.

Indigenous Peoples Are Crucial for Conservation

Women Rangers in Africa

A program in Zambia has worked to establish all-female teams of rangers to protect wildlife. The program is considered a resounding success as the women are less likely to be corrupted and are highly trained.

Zimbabwe’s Women Wildlife Rangers Wage War on Poachers

Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2018-07-09 18:34:57Z | |


Tulsa Zoo Program a Success

The Tulsa Zoo announced the hatching of 25 endangered Aldabra tortoises. Since they first started this particular conservation program, the zoo has successfully hatched 161 Aldabra tortoises.

25 Aldabra Tortoises Hatched at Tulsa Zoo


Endangered Species Chocolate

Rain Forest Trust

New Species of the Week

Bandy Bandy Snake

The Week in Conservation for July 13, 2018

Iceland Accused of Killing Blue Whale in Hunt

Update on the whaling situation in Iceland. The whaling company has already slaughtered 22 whales to include the young male blue whale (identified by experts). However, the company claims this is a fin/blue whale hybrid and is “legal” according to them. Regardless this is horrific and pressure needs to be placed on Iceland and its government to stop the hunt of endangered fin and critically-endangered blue whales. #boycottIceland continues.

Humans Are Causing Animals & Plants to go Extinct 1000x Natura Rate

The death of Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino highlights the plight of many of Earth’s disappearing biodiversity. Extinction is a normal process and has been discussed on the podcast previously, see Episode 1. However, current extinction rates are 1000x a normal healthy ecosystem rate. Scientists are gravely considered at the current extinction crisis and rather than losing a few leaves here and there off the Tree of Life, we may end up losing entire branches. Again, we believe education and awareness are one of the main ways we can help our planet.

Humans are causing animals and plants to go extinct 1,000 times FASTER than their natural rate, warn scientists

 More Inclusive Ecological Planning Needed Argues Scientist

A team of researchers out of Australia published a paper arguing that instead of just setting aside natural areas a more inclusive approach is needed. They describe a shift is needed to a more ambitious ‘nature retention targets’ rather than the current model. In short, these targets would establish the baseline levels needed of for natural systems functions and then work towards supporting these.

Nature retention, not just protection, crucial to maintaining biodiversity and ecosystems: Scientists

Orcas Now Facing Extinction

Bad news coming out of North America with orca populations off the Pacific Northwest in decline. The diets of these Southern Resident Killer Whale populations are primarily Chinook Salmon, but as these salmon populations continue to decline, so are the orca populations. With a proposed gas pipeline leading to Vancouver, Canada, experts warn boat traffic will have detrimental effects on these whales.

Ocean ‘Icon’ in Danger: US Pacific Northwest Orcas Facing Extinction

Palm Oil Disastrous for Wildlife But Is the Best Oil We Can Produce

In an effort to feed over 7 billion people, palm oil is a major source of cheap oil consumed worldwide. In fact, it provided a third of the world’s vegetable oil from only 10% of the land used for oil-producing crops. The IUCN reports that palm oil plantations, particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia are damaging over 190 threatened species. They also report ‘sustainable’ palm oil is not much better in preventing deforestation. Yet, they also report that other crops that can be used could be much more devastating for other wildlife. For example, soy or corn being grown in the Amazon basin. Therefore, strategies to ensure sustainable palm oil is in fact properly certified and maintained is strongly urged.

Palm oil ‘disastrous’ for wildlife but here to stay, experts warn

New Book on De-Extinction

A Swedish Science Journalist, Ms. Torill Kornfeldt has released a book about traveling the world and talking to scientist about their work in bringing back extinct animals. We have an incredible interview next week with a scientist who recently published a paper discussing opinions on de-extinction from conservation biologists. In the provided link is an interview about this book and the idea of ‘de-extinction.’

Jurassic World? Bringing back extinct animals with Torill Kornfeldt

New Species of the Week

Clistopyga crassicaudata Wasp

Whenu Hou Diving Petrel

The Week in Conservation for July 6, 2018

Honey Badger Takes on an Antelope, and It Does Not Go Well

Words cannot describe this. Be sure to catch Episode 10 Hijinks with the Honeybadger and then this series of images will make more sense. BTW the badger walked away with just wounded pride.

Link to Article HERE

Images created by Dirk Theron/Caters News

Giraffe Killing for a Trophy Sets Internet Ablaze

This week a Kentucky (USA) woman shared her image of an 18-year old male giraffe she had shot and killed on a trophy hunt in South Africa. Many shared the image, some defending her, but many condemning her. This brings up again the argument that trophy hunting of endangered species is actually good and leads to money being contributed to conservation of many species. However, in the case of trophy hunting in Africa this is far from true. In fact, very few gaming ranches actually do work and donate money to conservation. In a well referenced write up which will be posted below, the authors argue that ecotourism is far more valuable to helping conserve endangered species compared to trophy hunts. They go on to state many more compelling arguments on why trophy hunting does very little to conserve animals and is nothing more than a selling tag line. We actually visited this issue last November, which can be read HERE.

The Myths of Trophy Hunting

Kentucky Woman Branded ‘White American Savage’ After Posing with Dead Giraffe She Shot

Kenya Plans Death Penalty for Poachers

It is no secret that poaching of many endangered species within the African continent and around the world has only increased in the past two decades. In a bid to save their animals, and understandably to protect their valuable tourism industry, Kenya has proposed to sentence poachers to death for their crimes. The debate is now currently raging in many circles.

SOS Elephants: Kenya Summit on Poaching Crisis

Kenya’s death penalty plan for poachers has stirred a hornet’s nest

Critically Endangered Red Wolf May Lose Critical Protection

In a surprise move, the United States Department of Interior proposed to allow private land owners to shoot any red wolf that may wander on to their property in the state of North Carolina. We recently did a Red Wolf episode and we highly recommend you listen to it if you have not yet it is

Episode 28: Last Howl of the Red Wolf

Episode 29: Autumn Lindey and Red Wolf Conservation

There are less than 50 Red Wolves estimated to be left in the wild. This is clearly misguided judgement and we highly recommend you contact your political leaders (if in the USA) to record your displeasure in this measure.

Interior Department plans to let people kill endangered red wolves

Support the Red Wolf Coalition  and Defenders of Wildlife

NOAA Sending Out Sailing Drones

In a new era of technology and science, NOAA is launching 11 unmanned sailing drones to conduct oceanic research. The drones have multiple measuring capabilities such as temperature, salinity, fish populations using sonar and more. Such an incredible advancement.

Flotilla of saildrones deploy to Arctic and Pacific for earth science missions

Increase of Marijuana Farms Leading to Humbolt Marten Decline

In a story similar to that of the Black Footed Ferret, the Humbolt Marten is facing extinction. Not due to direct causes but by by-products of farmers using poisons to kill off rodents that may harm their crops and equipment. Many farmers in the region, particularly marijuana farmers protecting plastic irrigation tubes from rats and mice, are using anti-coagulant poisons to kill them off.  However, the Humbolt Marten eats these rodents as part of their diet and thus are dying off as well. Fortunately, the state of California is beginning to implement plans to help this species.

Sprawling Marijuana Farms are Driving this Adorable Little Creature to Extinction

Hogle Zoo Masks its Rhino

Jim Weinpress this week talked about one of the animals he used to care for, ‘Princess’ the white rhino. Apparently during the spring and summer Princess suffered from allergies and insects which resulted in irritating her eyes. The Hogle Zoo has worked with multiple agencies to develop a fly mask to help protect her eyes and she now wears it after months of training.

Hogle Zoo rhino ‘Princess’ gets royal treatment, custom mask made for eye irritation

New Species of the Week

Shieldtail Snake

Swire’s Snailfish






Conservation News for Week of June 29,2018

Iceland Begins Hunting the Endangered Fin Whale

This past week Iceland began hunting endangered fin whales after a two-year hiatus. This comes despite an international ban on hunting fin whales. The company responsible is Hvalur hf. owned by Mr. Kristjan Loftsson. Rather than export the whale meat due to such little demand for whale meat in Iceland and in Japan, the company plans on producing nutritional supplements, gelatin from the bones and whale blubber for “unspecified” medical purposes. This is truly horrifying and defies all logic. We suggest a boycott of any product this company may produce in the future and that people do not travel to Iceland or support them until they curb this practice. Hunting any endangered species is absolutely abhorrent.

Whale hunting to begin again in Iceland

Iceland whalers kill first fin whale of the season

Seagull Gets Prosthetic Legs

‘Gumpy’ the seagull was rescued in Charleston, South Carolina and sent to the South Carolina Aquarium. Veterinarian Dr. Shane Boylan had to amputate both legs due to damage caused by fishing lines. However, Dr. Boylan worked with the College of Charleston and they have 3-D printed Gumpy a net set of legs. The bird is recovering under the care of the South Carolina Aquarium and is adapting to his new life.

Gumpy the sea gull lost both his legs. But 3-D printing could get him walking again.

Jaguars on the Rise in Mexico

Scientists over the past 8 years have been using camera traps to count jaguars. During this time, a total of 400 remotely activated cameras throughout 11 Mexican states recorded over 4,500 photographs. Within these, 348 had images of 46 different jaguars. The scientists now estimate there are now 4,800 jaguars in Mexico, which have a worldwide population of around 64,000 animals.

The Wild Jaguars of Mexico have some good news to share

Canada Works to Protect their Oceans

The Canadian government has pledged over $167 million dollars to protect whales and other sea life off their coasts. The money is mainly to be spent on whale conservation and investigation of disturbances to their habitat. This is incredible news!

Canadian government announces $167.4 million initiative to help protect whales

Starfish on the Rebound

In 2013, starfish off the west coast of North America began to die in unprecedented numbers. Scientists believe these marine invertebrates were infected with the densovirus, which ultimately turned these living creatures into a pile of goo. Over 80% of these starfish populations have died. Also, researchers believe warming of the earth’s oceans had a devastating impact allowing the virus to spread. However, starfish populations have begun to rebound. DNA evidence points to the newer generation of these creatures having a natural resistance to this disease.

The amazing return of the starfish: species triumph over melting disease

Chefs for Sustainable Seafood

While Canada is working to improve the health of their marine life, in the United States the current government is looking to remove protections of fish and other marine creatures. This week the US government will vote on a bill removing many important protections that are in place to protect endangered fish and other species. However, in a surprise move, many chefs from around the country have banded together to vote the bill. They are voicing support for sustainable fishing practices, which help provide them with the fish they need to serve their customers. Incredible initiative for these men and women, bravo!

Unlikely advocates: Chefs call on Congress to defend sustainable U.S. fisheries

Return of the Przewalski’s Horse

Just this week the Czech military transported 4 more female Przewalski’s horses to Mongolia for release back to the wild. This bring the total to 31 aniimals transported from the Prague Zoo to this area for reintroduction. Again, if you have not listened to Episode 6 Truly Wild, The Przewalski’s Horse, please do. It tells the incredible story of these animals and how the Prague Zoo and many others worked to save this species.

Prague Zoo transported four more Przewalski’s horse mares to Mongolia

New Species Discovered

Goblin Spiders

Ruby Seadragon












Conservation News for week of June 22, 2018

This week Chris was joined with Jim Weinpress from the Seneca Park Zoo. If you have not yet listened to his interview please do. It can be found HERE

Amazon’s Critical Role in Combating Climate Change

A recent article in Nature highlights a very concerning trend in the Amazon rainforest’s ability in sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. Scientists reported a decline in tree productivity and survival rate over the last ~ 20 years. This is data outside of the already 750,000 sqkm (289,000 sq mile) of the Amazon that has been lost to agriculture since 1978. In this study, researchers looked at individual plots of preserved rain forest and concluded due to climate change and the incredible increase of carbon in the atmosphere that trees are growing bigger, faster, often resulting in their deaths earlier. Furthermore, productivity of new growth has leveled off. In summary, they report the Amazon has lost ~ 30% of its ability to sequester carbon from our atmosphere over the study period and is declining.

Long-term decline of the Amazon carbon sink

Comparison of carbon sequestration potential in agricultural and afforestation farming systems

Mass Extinction of Primates

A team of international primate experts warn that nearly two thirds of all primate species may go extinct by the year 2100. The team highlights four countries that house over two thirds of the world’s primates: Brazil, Madagascar, Indonesia, Democratic Republic of Congo.  Both in Indonesia and Madagascar, over 90% of all primates living here are in population decline. More worrying, Brazil is predicted to lose almost 80% of its natural habitat over the same time period, with predictions for Indonesia at 70%, Madagascar 60% and the DRC 30%. All due mainly to agriculture production, highlighting palm oil and sugarcane. The team argues that unless a global effort is launched to combat the decline, to include individual consumers, many of these species will be lost forever.

Chimps and orangutans among species in danger of being wiped out in imminent mass extinction of primates

10 things you need to know about sustainable palm oil

iOS sustainable palm oil app

Android sustainable palm oil app

Manatees on a Treadmill

Researchers out of Florida are using an underwater treadmill to evaluate manatee metabolism. Two manatees held under human care are participating in experiments to evaluate their normal body functions.  The manatees are harnessed with heart rate monitors and are trained to breath in a special hood that captures their exhaled gases. Understanding the basic physiology of manatees will go a long way in evaluating conservation strategies in protecting these special mammals.

Mote manatees measure metabolism on treadmills

 Aquarium staff participating in dolphin research

Scientists and staff from the South Carolina Aquarium are evaluating the health wild bottlenose dolphins. Studying these animals are giving researchers a good idea on our current ocean health. Sadly, their results are shedding a lite on the many pollutants that exist in our oceans. Specifically, they report that 90% of the dolphins evaluated had high levels of contaminants, specifically PFCs and PCBs in their blubber. Not only are these and other contaminants passed on to their offspring through their milk, it is believed these can have drastic affects on dolphin health and reproduction. We all need to do our part to protect our oceans.

Aquarium staff participate in dolphin study in Florida

Scientists discover world’s first known manta ray nursery

Researchers out of UC San Diego and Scripts Institute have announced the discovery of a manata ray nursery. These ocean dwelling animal’s wingspans can stretch almost 21 feet (6.5 meters) yet many young or juveniles are rarely observed. The recent discovery, roughly 50 miles south of Galveston, Texas will give scientists a greater understanding to these creature’s life cycles and work with conservation experts to protect these areas.

Scientists discover world’s first known manta ray nursery

Link to Marine Conservation Society Guide to Free Good Fish Guide Apps

Five new species of snail eating snakes discovered

In Ecuador, scientists have discovered five new species of snakes that specialize in eating snails. In even more incredible news, the same group rather than submitting their own names to honor their discovery, have instead auctioned off the naming rights to use that money to preserve these animals.

Scientists find new snail-eating snakes, auctioning naming rights to save them

New Species Discovered

A 2,200-year-old Chinese tomb held a new gibbon species, now extinct

Hobbit shrimp with hairy feet discovered living inside hole in Sea Squirt

Conservation News for week of June 15, 2018

Amur Leopard News

The Amur Leopard is the most endangered large cat on our planet. With an estimated less than 100 in the wild, and 200 housed under human care, this species is struggling to survive. This week the San Diego Zoo announced the birth of two FEMALE cubs. This has also been followed up with the announcement (a few hours after we recorded) of two MALE Amur Leopard cubs at the Brookfield Zoo.  Fantastic news for this animal.

San Diego Zoo Breeds Critically-Endangered Leopards, Producing Two Cubs

2 Healthy Amur Leopard Cubs Born at Brookfield Zoo

IUCN Information on Amur Leopard (under general Leopard)

Amur Leopard Fact Sheet

Technology Helping Fisherman Avoid Bycatch

The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has developed an application that helps fisherman go to areas where their targeted fish are currently at. The software called EcoCast using advanced algorithms can predict based on weather and other oceanographic variables in predicting where the fisherman will find their fish. This helps them avoid general fishing where they might catch endangered species in their nets.

Smart Software Helps Fisherman Catch the Fish They Want, Not Endangered Species

EcoCast Details from NASA

Viewing Wildlife Documentaries Are Good For Mental Health

Research now indicates that viewing nature documentaries help improve a person’s mood and makes them happier. Scientists have compared the benefits as the same as those for people who mediate daily. Even listening to this podcast (we hope) should improve your mood and motivate you to make positive changes for Mother Earth.

Watching This Type of TV is as Healthy as Meditating

Watching Nature Programmes Make You Happier New Research Reveals

United Kingdom Mammals in Crisis

This week multiple news agencies are reporting on the current extinction crisis in the UK. Reports now indicate that 1 in 5 mammals in the UK are endangered and threatened with extinction. The Wildcat, Greater Mouse-eared Bat and the Black Rat are all listed as critically endangered. Even the beloved Hedgehog is listed as endangered suffering a 70% decline in populations in the last 20 years. However, populations of otter, pine marten, polecat, badger and red deer are increasing.

One in Five Britain Mammals at Risk of Extinction

Healthy Habits for a Healthy Planet

This week Angie highlighted the use of Shampoo bars. Let’s get rid of those plastic bottles. The bars can be found HERE.

Dave Mathews Band Fundraiser

Meet Dave Mathews at the Hollywood Bowl & Travel to Africa

Scientists Using Robots to Study Bird Behavior

Researchers are using any new tools they can to study animal behavior. This week we discuss the use of a “fembot” to observe Saige Grouse mating rituals. We highly recommend you view the video attached to the article.

Why Scientist Turned This Taxidermy Bird Into a Robot

New Species Discovered

Coming out of their shells: New turtle discovered in Mexico

New Species of Shrew Discovered in the Philippines Sky Island

Week in Conservation for June 8, 2018

Gorilla News

Reports indicate that the critically-endangered Mountain Gorilla populations have went above over 1,000 animals. These animals are the only large primate (other than humans) that are experiencing a population increase. This is good news for the gorilla, however they are still under severe threat for extinction.

Mountain Gorilla Population Rises Above 1,000

IUCN Data on Mountain Gorilla

Park Rangers Killed Protecting Gorillas

Artificial Intelligence Helping Wildlife Conservation

In how technology can help conservation efforts around the globe, scientists have revealed a new artificial intelligence system that has helped count animals in the wild. Camera traps are becoming more popular with researchers in their ability to detect motion and snap images of wildlife. Previously, it took thousands of hours for people, often volunteers, to count these animals. Now, with the use of AI, scientists claim the work can now be completed in just a few hours.

Artificial Intelligence Can Identify and Count Animals in the Wild

Scientists tackling conservation problems turn to artificial intelligence

Plastics in the Ocean Continue to Kill Wildlife

This week sad news from Thailand about a Pilot Whale died after attempts to save him were unsuccessful. After conducting a necropsy, it was found the whale had swallowed 80 plastic bags from its stomach. This report follows on the heels of another report last month of a Sperm Whale that had washed up on a beach in Spain with 29 kg of plastic in its stomach.

How This Whale Got Nearly 20 Pounds of Plastic in its Stomach

Plastic Pollution Killed Sperm Whale Found Dead on Spanish Beach

Plastic Pollution Coalition

Hut Rates to Increase in New Zealand

In efforts to increase support for ecotourism and tourist’s ability to experience New Zealand’s wild places, NZ Department of Conservation is looking to increase its rates on huts to help support their maintenance and upkeep.

Foreigners to Pay Double on Four of New Zealand’s Great Walks

Stay in a Hut in New Zealand

Queuing for Roys Peak Selfies

Giraffes and Communication

Researchers have discovered that giraffes hum to each other during the night. While they cannot yet identify what the communications may mean, this discovery is exciting in that another species communicates in frequencies that cannot be heard by the human ear. The link below has the humming available for listening.

Giraffes Hum to Each Other Throughout the Night

Giraffe Humming Sound

New Species Discovered

Fairy Wren of Australia

Five New Species of Salamander Discovered in China

Rock Fowl on Jesse’s wish list











Conservation News for the week of June 1, 2018


The article discussing the cloning of the Tasmanian Tiger discusses how close scientist are getting to resurrecting this species. It can be found here.

Here is another article from National Geographic discussing cloning of the Tasmanian Tiger here.

Another article discussing de-extinction https://www.avclub.com/science-finds-a-way-to-bring-back-extinct-animals-1826247517here.

Golden Lion Tamarin

This article discusses the use of wildlife corridors and helping to not only revive the Golden Lion Tamarin but the environment as well and can be read here.

Here you can learn more about Golden Lion Tamarins.

Giant Salamanders in China

Apparently, the Giant Salamander, the world’s largest amphibian, has been hunted to near extinction. Article discussing this tragic tale can be read here.

You can read more about these amphibians here.

The Ellen Degeneres Wildlife Fund can be found here.

Rhino Pregnant

Here is the article discussing the latest in the pregnant White Rhinoceros through artificial insemination.

New Species

Bizarre Ratfish

Exploding Ants

We just wanted to provide an update on the Podcast. We have many episodes recorded all ready to be published, including two interviews with conservation experts. These will be released in the coming weeks. Even as Chris is preparing to move to New Zealand with his family the first week of 2018, episodes will still be released each week. Show notes should continued to be released, but may be delayed if Chris’s internet isn’t quite set up yet.

We both are excited for the growth we have already seen with the All Creatures Podcast and we hope with your help we can continue to grow and expand the show in 2018. We want to wish you all a very happy holiday season and new year as we head into 2018.

Warmest Wishes,

Chris & Angie

Is Trophy Hunting Ethical?

Why Trophy Hunting is in the news

Trophy hunting is defined as the hunting (killing) of an animal purely for the sport, and not for need. Often the animal parts are displayed to boast of the trophy hunt’s success.

Image of Deer Trophies.

This past week the President of the United States proposed to lift the ban on the import of elephant trophies. After much public outcry, he has decided to delay the decision. This news thrusted back into the spotlight the plight of elephants.

In another recent example of trophy hunting, a wealthy American hunter had his image posted all over social media with a dead snow leopard draped over his shoulder. While the image is more than 30 years old, it again highlights the plight of many species. With only a population of as low as 3,500 left nature, this particular killing of a wild snow leopard most likely contributed to the decline of this species. Again, this is just another contributing factor to the Earth’s sixth mass extinction and how humans are directly responsible for the environmental crisis we find ourselves in.

Image of hunter holding a rare snow leopard killed almost 30 years ago. 

What are the pro arguments for trophy hunting?

The mainstream argument supporting trophy hunting is that it brings money to poor regions of the globe. Others will argue that humans should have a right to hunt whatever they wish. Yet, general opinion is the wealth generated from trophy hunts are critical to conservation. Furthermore, supporters argue the money brought into the region actually promotes conservation of targeted species.

For example, in 2015 a healthy male Black rhinoceros was legally killed by a hunter who paid a $350,000 (US) premium. Those supporting the hunt stated by killing surplus male black rhinos, we are preventing inbreeding, supporting population growth, improving breeding performance, stopping bulls from killing each other, and the money goes directly into conservation.

Image of a Black Rhinoceros killed on a trophy hunt

Throughout the world, many are calling for a ban on trophy hunting. In a recent opinion piece published in the Trends in Ecology and Evolution Journal, Di Minin et al. argue that the outright ban of trophy hunting will:

  • Decrease funding for conservation. Sustainable trophy hunts help impoverished regions where ecotourism is not feasible.
  • Increase carbon emissions since trophy hunting has a decreased carbon footprint compared to ecotourism.
  • Force hunting management to conserve their wildlife. Officials will have incentive to increase and manage larger populations compared to those for ecotourism.

These authors further went on to state trophy hunts in South Africa in 2012 generated $68 million (US) in revenue with:

  • $5,635,000 from 635 Cape buffalo
  • $1,194,000 from 33 African elephants
  • $647,000 from 37 leopards
  • $15,270,000 from 617 African lions
  • $300,000 from 1 Black rhinoceros
  • $5,355,000 from 63 White rhinoceros

The bottom line is, people will pay extreme amounts of money for a trophy hunt. Therefore, the main pro argument to continue its practice is all about money.

What are the con arguments for trophy hunting?

The first con argument is why is it we are selling the lives of endangered species, some critically endangered. For example, the IUCN estimates there are only about 5,000 wild Black rhinoceros left. Yet, instead of moving the bull to another park, or into captivity where we can study him, or bank his genetics, he was auctioned off to the highest bidder. Some find this distasteful.

The outrage of the illegal killing of Cecil the Lion in 2015 by a wealthy United States citizen also brought up many of the negative consequences of trophy hunts. Baiting, using meat or an animal carcass, to lure a lion out of a protected national park is legal in Zimbabwe where Cecil was killed. However, Cecil was killed illegally (details here) and the only reason we know about this particular illegal hunt is because Cecil was a well-known male lion. This example demonstrates how trophy hunting is not well regulated and begs the question of just how many illegal trophy hunts are executed each day. Furthermore, many of the lions hunted in South Africa are ‘canned hunts’, meaning the animals are raised by humans and kept in cages until just before they are killed. There is no ‘sport’ involved.

Image of overcrowding of lions in South Africa, often used for ‘canned hunts.’

In response to the Di Mini paper quoted above, Ripple et al. argue that the idea that ecotourism impacts global greenhouse emissions are minuscule and cannot be linked to impacting biodiversity. Second, the authors argue that promoting trophy hunting, many lesser species will suffer as game parks focus on attracting top dollar for the hunting of large herbivores or carnivores. Additionally, by promoting rapid population growth of larger animals, the impacts on the environment are not known and could lead to habitat destruction.

Finally, another con argument and from a paper published in Nature, scientists have documented trophy hunting and the negative consequence on heritable traits for that species. For example, when bighorn rams are targeted and only the rams with the most impressive set of horns are killed, those traits cannot be passed on to future generations. These trends are even being noticed in African elephants. Calves are being born without tusks, or are producing much smaller tusks over their lifetime. This is directly due to the poaching of elephants with impressive set of tusks and the heritable traits are not passed on to future generations. All having negative consequences to those animals natural life cycle.


This is not an easy issue for conservationists and hunters alike.  An opinion piece published recently by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization details the benefits of trophy hunting to conservation and can be read here. The authors, many affiliated with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, details how well managed trophy hunts can help conservation, and help manage populations of endangered species. They further state the outright ban will most likely result in negative consequences for many species.

The most logical answer is, both sides of the issue need to come together and find a reasonable resolution. Like many issues facing so many endangered species, it will take all of us, not some, but ALL of us coming together to find solutions to support and sustain our planet.

Animals Going Extinct, Who Cares?

Where We Are

The major question plaguing humanity today, should we really care if some species go extinct?  What did the Yangtze (Baiji) River Dolphin ever do for us? All this news about the lonely male Northern White Rhinoceros, named Sudan, it doesn’t affect me, does it? It is sad, but we can’t stop human progress, right? Why should we, homo sapiens, spend enormous sums of money on saving creatures that don’t benefit us? Who cares?

Sudan, the last male northern white rhino, at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya on June 25, 2015. Credit: Georgina Goodwin/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

These are just some of the many arguments being made today across the world. Still, as hundreds, thousands, countless animal species struggle to survive in the modern world, humanity as a whole rarely takes notice. Social media and many news organizations are more focused on the latest political scandal or who’s sports team won a big game, rather than focus on the environmental crisis we now find ourselves in.

Just this week in the Gulf of California another Vaquita Porpoise has died, leaving only a total of 29 animals left in the entire world and this only deserves a minor mention on some news sites. In the last 100 years, conservative estimates have over 500 different species of reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds going extinct, to include 69 mammals. Scientists predict less than 9 species should normally go extinct per century. Yet, the current background rate of extinction far exceeds that, and has many scientists calling our current era the ‘Earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction’.


Vaquita Porpoise. Credit: https://wildfor.life/mexico-in-last-ditch-effort-to-save-the-vaquita-porpoise 

Mass Extinction

The last great mass extinction, defined as when 75% of all species die off, happened over 65 million years ago. It is thought this was caused by a large asteroid slamming into the Yucatan Peninsula in modern-day Mexico.  Many species died out to include large dinosaurs such as the Tyrannosaurus Rex, all happening over thousands of years. The other mass extinctions were similar in that more than 75% of all species on Earth died out over thousands, or millions of years.

By comparison, today we are losing species faster than the previous Big Five Extinctions. The pace at which we are losing species, some estimates 12 species a day, is only picking up steam. In the next 40 years some estimates have up to 50% of all current species becoming extinct. In 100 years, we could be near the 75% threshold.

Why You Should Care

Still, again, who cares? Humans need the land to grow crops, raise livestock, to settle and raise our families. Why should we suffer inconvenience, change our lifestyles, so some strange-named amphibian can continue to live in the muck down the street? We need the land more than they do, we are the dominant species. Survival of the fittest right? And some would argue we are part of nature, and our dominance of the planet is just, well, natural!

Well think about this. The massive tree of life is nurtured by each species, large and small, all playing their part. The African Elephant eats an acacia seed, walks 60 km (40 miles) and deposits it in a new location its manure. Eventually a new acacia tree sprouts, providing a much-needed habitat for other animals, and more importantly prevents degradation of the savannah. When you remove the elephant, you remove its important ecological niche, and in some instances the landscape quickly becomes desert (see the story of Allan Savory and culling elephants in Zimbabwe). You can look at each and every species on the tree of life, and they all play their part.

We have trimmed the tree, so to speak. For each leaf we drop, the tree receives less life-giving nutrients it needs to survive and thrive.  Many smaller branches have already been cut, and the larger branches are beginning to shrivel and die. How many more branches do we have to cut before our own section of the tree begins to take notice?

What Can You Do

If we as a species do not use our incredible ability to critically think and overcome these obstacles placed before us, future generations will look back at this time and ask why? Why did my ancestors let so many beautiful creatures die off when they had the power to change, the power to rise up and say enough is enough? Why did they not have the foresight to see humanity marching to its own destruction?

The time to act is now. Not tomorrow, not next year, not next decade, now! We must come together as a species and begin to rehabilitate our planet. It is not too late, but the challenge becomes that much greater each day every one of us does nothing. Ask yourself, how can I change, how can I make a difference? Once each and every person does that, we have taken the first step.

Share this message. Knowledge is power and we need to wield it more than the mightiest weapon. You, yes you, can make a difference. The question is, are you willing?

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About the Authors

The All Creatures Podcast is a new show sharing the knowledge of many species in crisis. Each week hosts Chris and Angie will be discussing a new species of animal. Both have earned their PhDs in Animal Physiology and want to share their passion about this planet and its wildlife with you. They can be followed on social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) or on their website.

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