Sad Fact: U.S. the biggest importer of endangered African wildlife trophies

U.S. the biggest importer of endangered African wildlife trophies

The United States remains the biggest importer of endangered African wildlife trophies in the world, in spite of Donald Trump’s recent public comments overturning a decision by the US Department of Interior, to allow elephant trophies into the United States.

In 2016 alone the US imported 3,249 or 60% of the animal trophies from just six African countries – Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. According to the trade database of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

One of the most popular big game mammals for trophy hunters to kill are elephants. Donald Trump has made specific reference to the horror of elephant trophy hunting before, yet hundreds of American hunters, including the President’s own sons, have on average imported around 200 elephant trophies annually. This excludes the approximate annual haul of 150 tusks and hundreds of feet, ears, teeth, skin pieces, and other elephant derivatives.

In countries like Zimbabwe and Tanzania, the elephant trophy hunting carnage became so great that in 2014 the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) imposed a ban on American hunters importing elephant trophies. There were concerns that elephant hunting in these two countries, which currently allows annual elephant hunting quotas of 500 and 50 elephants respectively, were poorly regulated and have not contributed to the conservation of the species.

Last year, the US Department of Interior attempted to overturn the ban but Trump stepped in to uphold it.

Yet, in the three years since the ban came into effect, over 600 elephants from other African countries were shot, and their trophies imported into the US.

Elephants are not the only animal favoured by American trophy hunters. Over 1,000 leopard trophies were imported into the US from southern Africa between 2014 and 2016 even though the animal is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The Red List cites trophy hunting as a key factor for the continent-wide decline in leopard populations. South Africa has been forced to impose a moratorium on all leopard trophy hunting since 2016 because of unsustainable hunting practices.

The list of trophies of endangered wildlife imported into the US goes on. In 2016, according to the CITES trade database, 182 wild lion trophies (excluding the 276 captive-bred lion trophies) were imported. The Red List says lion populations in Africa, which are also listed as Vulnerable, have declined by 43%. The Red List once again draws attention to poorly managed trophy hunting as one of the causes for the decline.

Also in 2016, the latest figures on the CITES trade database, 581 rare Hartmann’s zebras, 186 hippos, hundreds of crocodiles, half a dozen rhino, dozens of baboons, monkeys and even bush babies, honey badgers and grey crowned cranes have been shot, stuffed and shipped off.

Dan Ashe, former director of the USFWS and current President and CEO of the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recently pointed out that while American hunters flock to Africa to hunt a menagerie of wild animals, endangered species are not allowed to be hunted within the United States.

“Species like alligator, grizzly bear, wolf, and whooping crane, are protected from hunting if listed as endangered or threatened,” said Ashe. “If elephants were native to the U.S., they would not be hunted. And neither would lions, rhinos, or leopards.”

Trophy hunters, however, have long claimed that hunting even of endangered animals is good for conservation. Pro-hunting group Safari Club International (SCI) recently published a paper stating simply that trophy hunting supports conservation of African wildlife and habitat.

This study estimated the economic benefits of trophy hunting in eight African countries. They claim that the overall economic benefit from their estimated 18,815 trophy hunter visits is $USD 426 million to the studied eight countries, and that trophy hunting directly and indirectly supports 53,000 jobs.

However, a review of that study prepared by Economists at Large for Humane Society International says in fact that “trophy hunting contributes significantly less to the eight study economies, job markets, and African conservation.” The review states that a more realistic estimate is less than $USD 132 million per year, that the contribution from trophy hunting to employment is likely in the range of 7,500 – 15,500 jobs, the total economic contribution of trophy hunters is at most about 0.03% of GDP, and that foreign trophy hunters make up less than 0.1% of tourists on average.

Trump himself said he does not believe the fees that hunters pay to hunt elephants and other species actually go toward conservation efforts, and instead are pocketed by corrupt government officials.

Alejandro Nadal, a professor of economics at El Colegio in Mexico, and a world expert in environmental trade markets and trends, agrees but only to a point. “Where Trump’s utterances are insufficient,” says Nadal “is the money generated through trophy hunting is totally insufficient for sustainable conservation, even if there is no corruption.”

Contributed by Adam Cruise and the Conservation Action Trust 

The author is solely responsible for the accuracy of this content.

The post Sad Fact: U.S. the biggest importer of endangered African wildlife trophies appeared first on Nikela: Helping People Saving Wildlife.

Captivating Video Shows Flooded Park Submerged in Crystal Clear Water

Earlier this month, a hiking trail in Brazil’s Recanto Ecológico Rio de la Prata (“Natural River Park”) flooded due to unusually heavy rains. While most outdoor sites in this situation would turn into a muddy mess, crystal clear river overflow transformed the path and its surroundings into an enchanting underwater wonderland.

As the rain poured on February 2, two nearby rivers—the Rio da Prata and the Olho D’Água—overflowed into the Recanto Ecológico Rio de la Plata’s rainforest. Waldemilson Vera, a park guide, captured mesmerizing footage of the flood as it submerged towering trees, tropical plants, and a wooden walkway in sparkling water.

According to the Recanto Ecológico Rio de la Prata, this is a remarkable phenomenon caused by a serendipitous combination of circumstances. “When it rains a lot, the river of the Rio de la Plata runs slower, causing its damming, thus increasing the water level of the river Olho D’Água,” the video’s caption states. “Despite the flood, on the day the video was recorded the waters of the river Olho D’Agua remained crystal clear due to their conserved ciliary forest and being inside a Private Reserve of Natural Heritage. This was a rare episode, and by the end of the day the river had returned to its normal level.”

Talk about a perfect storm!

Heavy rains submerged parts of Brazil’s Recanto Ecológico Rio de la Prata in crystal clear water.

Mesmerizing footage of a trail in the underwater park was captured by a park guide.

Amazingly, this unusual event happened weeks later, again turning the walkway into an underwater bridge.

Recanto Ecológico Rio da Prata: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube
h/t: [Laughing Squid]

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The post Captivating Video Shows Flooded Park Submerged in Crystal Clear Water appeared first on My Modern Met.

Cheetah Siblings Get Extra Care in San Diego


Visitors hoping to glimpse three Cheetah cubs at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park weren’t disappointed when the trio debuted on February 22.  The three siblings – one male and two females – watched the people, explored their surroundings, played with each other and, typical of any infant, after one of their five daily feedings, settled in for a long nap.

The 7-week-old Cheetahs were born January 6 at San Diego Zoo Global’s off-site Cheetah Breeding Center to an inexperienced mom named Malana. In an effort to care for her cubs, Malana inadvertently caused minor injuries to them. After being with their mother for five weeks, the cubs were taken to the Animal Care Center to be monitored for medical issues. Keepers will keep close watch over them, feeding them a special diet of soft carnivore food and formula, and weighing them to monitor their health. After they turn 12 weeks old and receive their three-month immunization, they will be returned to their home at the Cheetah Breeding Center.

Photo Credit: Ken Bohn

The Cheetah siblings don’t have names yet, but keepers call them “Purple,” “Yellow,” and “Blue” because of the colors of temporary ID markings placed on their tails. Purple is the smallest of the two sisters, and keepers describe her as feisty and very playful—and she has a big appetite. Yellow is also very playful and loves cuddling with her siblings; and Blue, the only male, loves to play and take extra-long naps.

Cheetahs are native to Africa and a small part of Iran. They are classified as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. It is estimated that the worldwide population of Cheetahs has dropped from 100,000 in 1900 to just 7,000 today, with about 10 percent living in zoos or wildlife parks.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is one of nine breeding facilities that are part of the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition (CBCC). The goal of the coalition is to create a sustainable Cheetah population that will prevent extinction of the world’s fastest land animal. San Diego Zoo Global has been breeding Cheetahs for more than 40 years, with more than 160 cubs born to date.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. Their work includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents.


10 Offbeat Stories You Might Have Missed This Week (2/24/18)

A lot of important stuff happened this week. Given the sheer amount of newsworthy items, it is understandable that some of them might slip through the cracks. However, we feel that some of these stories should not be missed. They might not revolutionize industries or topple governments, but they are bizarre and quirky enough to […]

The post 10 Offbeat Stories You Might Have Missed This Week (2/24/18) appeared first on Listverse.

Why are there so many types of lizards?

Researchers have sequenced the complete genetic code — the genome — of several vertebrate species from Panama. They found that changes in genes involved in the interbrain (the site of the pineal gland and other endocrine glands), for color vision, hormones and the colorful dewlap that males bob to attract females, may contribute to the formation of boundaries between species. Genes regulating limb development also evolved especially quickly.