vrijdag 23 maart 2012

Sibling is not such a load of croc

The original article can be found here

Kelly Ryan, From: Herald Sun March 24, 2012 

CRANKY croc Charlie wants much smaller sibling Peter Pan off his back. Brotherly rivalry is alive in the reptile world and a pesky loved one can quickly become just another snack. 

The freshwater crocodiles were born from the same clutch of eggs five years ago. But an extremely rare genetic condition has kept Peter Pan a miniature version of his more fearsome family members, with Charlie at least five times bigger, heavier and hungrier.
Owner Scott D'Agostino says his little pet doesn't know he's a tiny version of the larger deadlier predators and has a feisty bite to prove it. He even has his own Facebook site.


"He eats the same food, is healthy and happy but just hasn't grown up at all," he said. "He was named after Peter Pan from the story of the boy who never grew up."
The scaly pair will join the police dog squad and amazing animal survivors at a huge open day at Melbourne University's Veterinary Hospital at Werribee tomorrow.
The specialist animal hospital treats about 17,000 pets a year.
Vets will join pets to teach people how to read animal body language and provide career advice to students keen to work with our four-legged or feathered friends.
The day will feature demonstrations on health and nutrition, dog obedience, horse health and fascinating reptiles.
Melbourne Cup winners Doriemus and Brew are guests of honour. The open day will be held from 10am-3pm at the hospital, 250 Princes Freeway, Werribee.

Should the location of newly discovered species be hidden?

The original article can be found here

Discovering a new species can be the defining moment of a biologist's career, but for some it can also mean exposing rare and vulnerable animals to the dark world of the wildlife pet trade, with catastrophic results.
It's a scientific dilemma that has led some conservationists to question whether it would be better to hide their findings from the world.
In 1999, herpetologist Bryan Stuart was working in Northern Laos when he stumbled across an eye-catching newt he had never seen before.
The creature was prehistoric in its appearance with thick, warty skin and bright, yellow dots all the way down its back.
He spotted it in a bottle of alcohol that a Lao colleague had brought back from a wedding in a remote part of the country - the poison from the newt's skin had been used to make a drink with special medicinal properties for a toast to the newlyweds.
Stuart went in search of the newt in the wild and three years later he published an article in the Journal of Herpetology, announcing the discovery of the new species, Laotriton laoensis.
"When you see one of these animals in the wild in your hand for the first time and you recognise that it is absolutely unique, it's like discovering a treasure," he says.

But his joy turned to horror when he realised his discovery had caught the attention of amphibian dealers around the world. Examples of the species were popping up in pictures on amphibian pet forums as far away as Germany and Japan.
Stuart soon realised that trading networks had emerged between Laos and the West and traders were using his report as a roadmap to capture and sell hordes of the newts.
"The mindset of these commercial collectors is to go in, get as many as you can, as quickly as you can, to make as much money as possible," he says.
"What's worse is they have set up these trade networks with local villagers telling them to collect as many as they can."
Smugglers sold Laotriton laoensis newts
for $200 each

The Lao newt lives on the surface of rock pools and was easy to find. Villagers were typically offered less than $1 (£0.63) for each newt. Smugglers then sold them on to hobbyists for as much as $200 (£130).
Because the newt is unique to Laos and only found in three small areas in the north of the country, the population was quickly decimated.
In 2008, six years after the publication of Stuart's paper, a biologist from the National University of Laos, Somphouthone Phimmachak, proved the species was close to extinction. Her work led to the Lao newt being granted official status as a threatened species, making it illegal to trade specimens caught in the wild.

It wasn't the first time a scientific discovery has put a rare species in danger.
"A turtle from the small Indonesian island of Roti was so heavily hunted that today it is nearly extinct in the wild," says Stuart. A rare gecko from south-east China was removed from its natural habitat entirely by smugglers who got prices as high as $2,000 (£1,272) for each.
Jason Lee Brown, a herpetologist who has studied poison frogs in Peru since 2003, describes three separate incidents where his discoveries put a species' existence under threat.
In 2006 he published the picture of a new species of poison frog, Ranitomeya benedicta on the internet. Almost immediately it appeared in trade shows in Europe and North America.
Two years later it happened again when he published the description of a second new species and again when he reported the rediscovery of a third species thought to be extinct.
In 2010 Brown returned to the area in Peru where he had initially discovered R. benedicta and found that locals had been cutting down canopies in the trees where the frogs were known to live.
"I almost quit what I was doing," he says.
Two of these frogs were declared threatened last year.
Endangered species status is meted out by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), according to the convention on trade in endangered species (Cites). It was first signed in 1973 and has now been ratified by 175 countries.
This illegal shipment of frogs were on their way to
Europe from Peru when they were found dead
But according to some conservationists, endangered species status creates new problems. Chris Shepherd of Traffic, an organisation that monitors the wildlife trade, believes the endangered label can boost animals' black market value.
He regularly visits the wildlife markets of Jatinegara in Jakarta and Chatuchak in Bangkok where he has seen traders advertising the fact - albeit slyly - that the animals they sell are endangered and illegal.
Traffic is working to train local law enforcement agencies to clamp down on illegal wildlife trade. But obliterating wildlife trade is low on the political agenda in countries such as Laos, Indonesia, Thailand and Peru.
"Customs have a very important role to play being at the front line of import and export," says Shepherd. "But finding a customs officer anywhere in the world that cares much about newts is difficult."

Why should we care about newts?

  • "Amphibians are the new canaries in the coal mines," says Ariadne Angulo of the IUCN
  • They are often the first species to respond to pollution or change in climate and are crucial in surveys of landscape health
  • A third of all known species of known amphibians are classified as threatened
  • Amphibians eat a lot of invertebrates and are an important source of food for larger predators
Source: Ariadne Angulo, IUCN

Relying on governments in developing countries to address the issue is pointless, agrees Jason Lee Brown, who got little help from the Peruvian authorities when he drew cases of frog smuggling to their attention.

"There is widespread apathy, they have so many issues to deal with that are more important and they just don't have the infrastructure to deal with this," he says.
He believes the responsibility lies with those in the developed world who are driving the pet market.
Peruvian hunters, many of whom live on $1.25 (£0.79) a day, can get about $2 (£1.30) a frog. Collectors in Europe and the US will pay up to $1,000 (£636) a pair, making smuggling a very lucrative business.
Some people believe the only viable solution to the trade of wild animals is captive breeding.
Mark Pepper, who has worked with Brown on frog conservation projects in Peru, runs a legal and ethical frog breeding business but sometimes he finds illegal traders selling species he has never worked with under his name.
He thinks smuggling is not the most pressing threat to amphibians. For some species, such as the Lao newt, smuggling can have a devastating effect, but most amphibians face the much greater threat of habitat destruction.
Timber felling and mining are a much greater risk to the frogs he has studied in Peru, he says.
"Smuggling is a drop in the bucket."
The logical thing it seems would be to keep the locations of the animals secret and some scientists do choose to do this.

Last year the New York Times reported that a herpetologist in Malaysia, Indraneil Das rediscovered a striking amphibian called the Borneo rainbow toad previously thought to be extinct. Das avoided publishing its specific location.
Similarly, after his experience with the Lao newt, Bryan Stuart discovered a species of poison snake and decided to keep its location secret. But it was something he was uncomfortable doing.
He believes that scientists need to share knowledge of which species occurs where so that they can co-operate with each other and the public to preserve the species and its habitat.

donderdag 22 maart 2012

Protection of one of the rarest turtles of the world

Slow and Steady
A Manhattan night-life barons's race to save an ancient species
Bij William Finnegan

One smuggler wore a trilby, white with a black band. Another looked like Little Richard. The third was the most worrisome. He had heavy shoulders and a lidless, unsmiling gaze...

Eric Goode with a plowshare tortoise at
Ankarafantsika National Park, in Ampijoroa, Madagascar.

Read more here...


And here...



Sea turtles protection

Court Upholds Limits on Sea Turtle Deaths in Hawaii's Longline Fishery
HONOLULU, Hawaii, March 16, 2012 (ENS) - In a decision Thursday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a federal district court settlement limiting the number of loggerhead and critically endangered leatherback sea turtles that can be caught by Hawaii's longline swordfish fishery.
The settlement responded to a lawsuit brought by conservation groups Turtle Island Restoration Network, Center for Biological Diversity and KAHEA challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service's decision in 2009 to nearly triple the number of sea turtles the fishery could catch.
he settlement rolled back the limit to prior levels. Today's decision rejected an appeal by the fishing industry, which sought to invalidate the agreement.
Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff said, "We're glad the federal appeals court upheld the temporary sea turtle protections we won with the consent decree, but the high level of sea turtle harm NMFS is now proposing may well be worse than the previous rule. NMFS seems to be raising the limits to accommodate the longliners rather than to ensure that the species aren't driven to extinction, as the law requires."
Swordfish longline vessels trail up to 60 miles of fishing line suspended in the water with floats, with as many as 1,000 baited hooks deployed at regular intervals. Sea turtles become hooked while trying to take bait or become entangled while swimming through the nearly invisible lines.
These encounters can drown the turtles or leave them with serious injuries. Sea birds such as albatross dive for the bait and become hooked; marine mammals, including endangered humpback whales and false killer whales, also sometimes become hooked when they swim through the floating lines.
Sea turtle swims in waters south of Kona
on the west coast of the Big Island, Hawaii. (Photo by K. Johannson)
"Hawaii's public-trust ocean resources have to be better managed for our collective best interest, and not just the interests of this commercial fishery," said KAHEA Board President Kealoha Pisciotta. "The 9th Circuit decision is a victory not just for the turtles, but for Hawaii's people who rely on a healthy, functioning ocean ecosystem. We can't rest as long as federal fishery managers continue to allow unacceptable levels of harm to the few sea turtles remaining in the ocean."
Turtle Island Restoration Network, Center for Biological Diversity and KAHEA sued the National Marine Fisheries Service over its decision to increase, from 17 to 46, the number of loggerhead sea turtles the fishery could catch in a year before being required to shut down.
At the same time, NMFS was considering increasing protections for loggerheads under the Endangered Species Act by upgrading it from "threatened" to "endangered."
The plaintiffs and NMFS agreed to settle the case by rolling back the number of loggerheads allowed to be caught to 17 while the agency decided whether to uplist the species and prepared a new analysis of the effects of increasing the turtle catch limit on the species' survival and eventual recovery.
Judge David Ezra approved the settlement as a consent decree.
In its appeal, the fishing industry argued that the court lacked the power to issue the consent decree. The appeals court rejected this argument, noting that the consent decree simply offered the sea turtles some protection by reinstating the previous catch limit, while allowing the agency an opportunity to reconsider its position in light of the latest scientific information.
"Our settlement ensures that sea turtles can swim more freely and safely in Hawaii's waters," said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "If loggerheads and leatherbacks are going to survive, we need to stop killing them in our fisheries."
While the appeal was pending, NMFS in September 2011 changed the loggerheads' designation to "endangered." In January of this year, the agency also issued a new biological opinion as contemplated by the consent decree. That document proposes to increase the number of endangered loggerhead sea turtles the longliners can catch from 17 to 34. It also increases the limit for catching endangered leatherback sea turtles from 16 to 26. Notably, in 2011 the fishery was forced to close after it caught its limit of leatherbacks.
Teri Shore of the Turtle Island Restoration Network said, "Sea turtles are becoming more endangered, not less, so each one we lose in the longline fishery pushes them closer to extinction. Allowing more sea turtles to be harmed in this high-bycatch fishery makes a joke out of so-called sustainable seafood."


10K acres set aside for threatened frog

Areas near Rosemont not included due to absence of breeding.
Tony Davis Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The federal government will designate more than 10,000 acres in Arizona and New Mexico as prime habitat for the threatened Chiricahua leopard frog.
More than a dozen streams and many livestock watering tanks across Southern and Central Arizona were picked by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as critical habitat for the frog, a threatened species.
The Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, Florida Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains, Peña Blanca Lake near Nogales, Sycamore Canyon in the Atascosa Mountains and Ramsey and Brown canyons in the Huachuca Mountains are among the critical habitat sites.
But other areas near the proposed Rosemont Mine site in the Santa Ritas that have had leopard frogs were left out because the frogs aren't known to breed there now - largely because there's less water there than there was several decades ago.
The decision means one less legal issue for the mine, since lands designated critical habitat can't be destroyed or seriously modified by projects that need U.S. permits.
Last year, mine opponents with the Center for Biological Diversity and Pima County recommended six livestock watering tank sites on Forest Service and private land in the mine area as prime frog habitat. The Wildlife Service rejected them in its decision this week and chose six other tanks farther away, within two or three miles of the mine site. In recent years, such tanks have become key areas for the leopard frog.
COURTESY OF DENNIS CALDWELL This Chiricahua leopard frog was photographed on the east slope of the Santa Rita Mountains, within the newly designated leopard frog habitat.

Mary Richardson, a wildlife service supervisory biologist, said the agency determined the Rosemont sites didn't meet critical habitat criteria. First, there is no indication that frogs breed there. Leopard frogs can travel as far as five miles, spending time in one area and breeding in another.
Frog researchers Philip Rosen, of the University of Arizona, and Dennis Caldwell, a private researcher, said the Rosemont-area sites are worth protecting, and that breeding could be restored there. But they agreed that the areas don't meet the feds' critical-habitat standards without breeding populations.
Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity said that overall, the group is pleased by the habitat decision. But it was disappointed that the Rosemont-area tanks weren't picked.
Robinson said the mine could obliterate frogs on its land and could destroy their ability to survive nearby due to dust, toxic chemicals, blasting sounds and truck traffic.
Julia Fonseca, Pima County's environmental planning manager, wrote the Wildlife Service in 2011 that leopard frogs were reported as "abundant" in the Rosemont area in the 1970s by private biologists. While the surveyors didn't note whether they were Chiricahua or lowland leopard frogs, the Arizona Game and Fish Department concluded in the 1990s they were Chiricahua frogs.
Bijschrift toevoegen
Surveys by Rosemont Copper consulting firm Westland Resources found those frogs in the six Rosemont-area water tank sites in a 2008 survey, but they weren't breeding.
Still, the frogs' presence throughout the Santa Ritas suggests the area contains a regional group of connected populations whose habitat needs protection, said Fonseca and Robinson.
Rosemont Copper official Kathy Arnold said based on the company's surveys for frogs and other species, the Wildlife Service findings met Rosemont's expectations.
"Rosemont works with Arizona Game and Fish, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the University of Arizona and the U.S. Forest Service, as do other ranches and property owners in the area," Arnold, Rosemont's vice president for environmental and regulatory affairs, added in a written statement.
"Contributions besides the survey work include providing water to habitat during dry periods, assisting with stormwater controls to control sediments entering ponds, and managing and providing access to habitat," she said.
Contact reporter Tony Davis at tdavis@azstarnet.com or 806-7746.

More about this frog and its protection:  Click here

zondag 4 maart 2012

Living keyrings

Living sea creatures are being captured and sold as keyrings! This is disgusting and should not be allowed!!

Live fish and small turtles sealed in plastic keychains have become increasingly popular items sold at subway entrances and train stations across China.

The living keychains containing  Brazilian turtles or king fish swimming in colored water are considered good-luck charms by many Chinese, but animal protection groups are outraged and call them a perfect example of “pure animal abuse”. Business is booming according to Chinese online newspaper Global Times, which reports one fish and nine turtle rings have been sold in just five minutes, on Tuesday, at the Sihui subway station, in Beijing.
According to vendors, the colored water in the 7-centimeter-long keychains contains nutrients that allow fish and turtles to live inside for months. While that may be true, Mary Peng, cofounder of the International Center for Veterinary Services, says they couldn’t survive in the sealed bag for very long, due to lack of oxygen.

While animal rights activists are protesting loudly against the sale of living keychains, there isn’t much else they can do, because China only has a Wild Animal Protection Law – if the animals are not wild animals they fall outside the law’s scope. Until the law changes to protect all kinds of animals, activists can only appeal to people not to buy them, and hope the market will die due to lack of customers.
Although some people buy these bizarre keychains to carry around for good-luck, there are those who buy them just to free the poor creatures from their tiny plastic cage.