Leopards on the brink –


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Posting this alert, verbatim, from Panthera.org – Please share.


New Study Confirms Cambodia’s Last Leopards on Brink of Extinction


March 1, 2018


New York, NY – A new study has confirmed that the world’s last breeding population of leopards in Cambodia is at immediate risk of extinction, having declined an astonishing 72% during a five-year period. The population represents the last remaining leopards in all of eastern Indochina – a region incorporating Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.


The report was published this month in the Royal Society Open Science journal by Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), Panthera – the global wild cat conservation organization, WWF-Cambodia, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Forestry Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries of Cambodia.


Carried out in Cambodia’s Eastern Plains Landscape, the study revealed one of the lowest concentrations of leopards ever reported in Asia, with a density of one individual per 100 square kilometers. Increased poaching, especially indiscriminate snaring for the illegal wildlife trade and bushmeat, is to blame for the dramatic decline.


Panthera Southeast Asia Leopard Program Coordinator and study coauthor, Dr. Jan Kamler, stated, “This population represents the last glimmer of hope for leopards in all of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam – a subspecies on the verge of blinking out. No longer can we, as an international community, overlook conservation of this unique wild cat.”


Kamler continued, “As the world gathers to celebrate World Wildlife Day this Saturday, we must band together in action, not just in words, to curb the epidemic of poaching facing this gorgeous big cat and others around the globe.”


Professor David Macdonald, Director of the WildCRU and also a co-author, added “Leopards are a monument to opportunism, adapting to habitats from desert to urban jungle, but their adaptability risks a deadly complacency: people think – “oh, leopards will be fine”. They won’t! Almost everywhere they are doing worse than people thought, and our findings show that in SE Asia they are heading for catastrophe”.


In addition to these somber results, scientists were shocked to discover that the primary prey of leopards was banteng – a wild species of cattle weighing up to 800 kilograms (1,760 pounds). In particular, male leopards targeted this large ungulate, making this the only known leopard population in the world whose main prey weighed greater than 500 kg (1,100 pounds), more than five times the leopard’s mass.


Scientists believe the Indochinese leopards’ new choice of prey was triggered by the extirpation of tigers from the region in 2009, which created a predatory void for the opportunistic and highly adaptable species.


Prompted by the study’s findings, Panthera and WildCRU are working with local and national collaborators to increase effective law enforcement and monitoring of this region, which will include the use of Panthera PoacherCams, and strengthen environmental laws to develop strictly protected conservation zones and increased fines for poachers.


Historically found throughout all of Southeast Asia, the Indochinese leopard has lost 95% of its range and is likely to be classified as Critically Endangered by IUCN later this year. A separate study recently authored by WildCRU, Panthera and partners estimates just over 1,000 breeding adult Indochinese leopards remain in all of Southeast Asia. However, just 20-30 reproductive individuals remain in eastern Cambodia, representing the last hope for the leopard’s future in eastern Indochina.


Poaching for bushmeat and the illegal wildlife trade, habitat loss, prey decline due to bushmeat poaching, and conflict with people are to blame, creating a deadly cocktail of threats facing leopards in Asia, and around the globe.


WildCRU scientist and lead author, Susana Rostro-Garcia, stated, “Much of the snaring in Cambodia, and across Southeast Asia, is driven by the rising demand for bushmeat. Wild landscapes are covered with thousands of snares set to catch wild pig and deer to supply bushmeat markets. Unfortunately, these snares also negatively impact many other species, with leopards and other wildlife often caught as by catch, and their valuable parts removed and sold to illegal wildlife traders.”


In particular, as tiger numbers plummet due to poaching pressure, leopard skins and other body parts are increasingly coveted for use as status symbols and in traditional Asian medicines sold through the illegal wildlife trade.


This Saturday, March 3, the United Nations’ World Wildlife Day will be held, in partnership with Panthera, under the banner of ‘Big Cats: Predators Under Threat’ to underscore the intensity of these threats and the critical need to turn the tide to save big cat species like the Indochinese leopard.


About Panthera
Panthera, founded in 2006, is devoted exclusively to preserving wild cats and their critical role in the world’s ecosystems. Panthera’s team of leading biologists, law enforcement experts, and wild cat advocates develop innovative strategies based on the best available science to protect cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards, and tigers and their vast landscapes. In 36 countries around the world, Panthera works with a wide variety of stakeholders to reduce or eliminate the most pressing threats to wild cats—securing their future, and ours. Visit panthera.org.Panthera_IndochineseLeopards_HopeLeopard_CreditPanthera-WildCRU-WWF-Cambodia-FA

Spectacular ‘Mariposas Nocturnas’ by Emmet Gowin turns entomology into high art.


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If ever there was a paradigm-shattering natural history book, Mariposas Nocturnas by Emmet Gowin is it. Newly published by Princeton University Press, the sumptuous coffee-table volume is both a ground-breaking photo guide to over 1000 species of beautiful nocturnal moths of South and Central America, and an exquisite high-art feast for the eyes, supremely worthy of display in your home.


A 15 year project by famous photographer Emmet Gowin, not only does Mariposas Nocturnas showcase gorgeous, little-known moth species (many never before photographed alive and in their full splendor), it presents them as both individual treasures of stunning beauty, and as part of a greater community of breathtaking gems. What really sets this book apart, however, is its physical entirety.  The whole book is a jewel. Arranged as graphic art, in carefully designed blocks of 25 photos per page, the final form evokes an Andy Warhol feel (but without the colorizing or distortion). The design of the book is luscious, the quality impeccable, the end result spectacular.

Every photo of a living moth is designed with an artist’s eye – including having each moth set on a complementary background – making the experience both rewarding of close inspection and inviting as a whole, as an object of beauty to cherish.    


If anything, the amazing beauty of the physical book might overshadow the equally engrossing and intimate narrative, for instance Gowin’s account of watching the development of an A. Citheronia reglis pupa from earth-dweller to night flyer (pg. 116).

“Perhaps I had a bit of a mother’s instinct, because once the caterpillar had buried itself deep into a bucket of compost, I moved the bucket next to my computer table. About a week later, while at my computer, I thought I heard the slightest sound and turned to see that my Citheronia regalis had wiggled itself up to the surface and was struggling to free itself from its useless caterpillar skin. A pupa now, its form had completely changed, and its still-soft shell was a light yellow orange, rapidly turning to a rich chocolate color as it hardened. Apparently eyeless, it nonetheless had “eye spots,” and I believe it behaved as if it could sense light. (Many naturalists have observed that buried pupae rarely emerge until the rainy season has truly begun. There seems to be a perception at work here.) It gradually turned even deeper brown and its pupa case hardened further, but it could still move. It buried itself again the next day in the same soil, where it would spend the winter, finally emerging in late June of next year. I particularly wanted to mention this very surprising and touching performance, as it was so completely unexpected.”



So on top of the visual and tactile pleasures of Maripoas Nocturnas, there is the literary journey. Do take time to actually read this book while you marvel at the spellbinding photographs.

The author, who has spent a lifetime documenting family and the plight of the Earth with true sensitivity, does not disappoint. And he gently brings what we can hope Humanity as a whole can start to bring to our relationship with our struggling living planet.

Respect, empathy and compassion.

It seemed fitting to take this large volume outside, to the Sassafras tree in the front yard, partially felled by Hurricane Irma. It seemed fitting to honor both the book and the special, medicinal tree by taking photos for this review against the sculpted bark, in the grass and dappled light, as the hot sub-tropical sun heated the moist air of this warm September.


Sadly, this monograph may end up being a requiem, since it might be the first and last times humans are able to see many of these living jewels. Deforestation, pollution and other human activities are destroying the remaining great forests and other highly biodiverse realms of Brazil, Bolivia, French Guiana, Ecuador and Panama, with devastating consequences for the rich array of life on the planet.

Profound, pertinent and a balm for the soul (while also being a wake-up call), Mariposas Nocturnas is a true treasure that deserves to be read and cherished by anyone with any heart, scientific curiosity, fascination with life, love of nature or passion for art.

See the trailer for Mariposas Nocturnas by clicking this link.


For more information on Mariposas Nocturnas, Moths of Central and South America – A Study in Beauty and Diversity, by Emmet Gowin, click here.

Review by Cathy Taibbi (AKA Birdpond)


California’s imperiled frogs and toads granted 1.8 million acres of federally protected habitat

Imperiled amphibians getting critically needed help from The Center for Biological Diversity, USFWS, by securing critical habitat protections in Sierra Nevada range.

Yosemite-toad-RobGrassoNPSPhoto Credit Rob GrassoNPScropped.png

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Photo: Rob Grasso/NPS public domain

In a massive effort lead by the Center for Biological Diversity,  1.8 million acres has been as designated as critical habitat in the Sierra Nevada mountains by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in order to save the threatened Yosemite toad and two desperately endangered species of yellow-legged frogs.
The action will not only save the flagship species, themselves, but millions of other plants and animals in the area as well as the fragile ecosystem, itself –  land that otherwise could be far game, to be plundered and destroyed for short term gain by industry.
“This is an important step for saving the vanishing amphibians of the high Sierra Nevada, which have suffered massive declines in recent decades and disappeared from most of the Sierra lakes and streams where they once lived,” said the Center for Biological Diversity’s Jeff Miller. “The Endangered Species Act is our best tool for preventing their extinction, and protecting some of the most important high-elevation amphibian habitat will give them a fighting chance at recovery.”
Species are in decline
California’s distinctive Yellow-legged frogs have been drastically reduced to less than 10% of their historic numbers due to development, climate change, pesticides, pollution, and the introduction of disease and species such as non-native trout, combined with habitat disruption, destruction and fragmentation. Populations of the unique Yosemite toad, similarly, have been reduced by 50%. In the place where they were first discovered,Yosemite National Park, they’ve vanished entirely. Alarmingly, loss of genetic diversity and access to unrelated breeding partners can destroy remnant populations of any species due to the effects of inbreeding. The trick is to never let any species decline this catastrophically in the first place.
Livestock grazing is a major culprit in the loss of biological diversity world-wide, which is very much the case here, with millions of privately-owned, grown-for-profit cattle being ranched for nearly-free on our fragile public lands (while being subsidized by each of us through our tax dollars). Domesticated cattle destroy streams, wetlands and riparian habitats,damage or eliminate native forage, spread weeds, degrade soil and water and ruin habitat for the native wildlife that belongs there.
The importance of the Critical Habitat designation
By officially designating an area ‘critical habitat‘, federal agencies will be prohibited from authorizing or engaging in activities in that areas that will further jeopardize the survival of listed species. One of the beautiful things about the ESA (Endangered Species Act) is that for every species protected, a wide range of other native species also benefits, including trees, flowers and insects, which proves vitally important in preventing more declines in the quality of any remaining habitats we can then identify and preserve.
“Yellow-legged frogs and Yosemite toads were a common sight in the high Sierras until fairly recently,” said Miller in the press release. “Their rapid declines are a warning of the failing health of our high Sierra ecosystems. Critical habitat will not only protect these amphibians but will also protect water bodies, riparian areas and wet meadows that provide fresh, clean water for many Californians and habitat for other species.”
The Center’s great work for amphibians 
The Center for Biological Diversity  has been championing the future of amphibians since its inception. The Center petitioned to protect the yellow-legged frog and Yosemite toad under the Endangered Species Act back in 2000. Sierra Nevada and mountain yellow-legged frogs (northern population) were officially declared and designated as Endangered in 2014. Yosemite toads, with help from the Pacific Rivers Council, were also listed as Threatened that same year. A separate, southern species population of yellow-legged frog was protected in 2002.

Your Taxes are Paying for Wildlife Slaughter through USDA Wildlife Services

Feds to spay wild mares and reduce Wyoming herds to nearly nothing

*Google Cache saved version, retrieved 8/21/16 after Examiner site unexpectedly shut down.

By Cathy Taibbi, Examiner.com

January 11, 2016

An urgent petition is circulating now to put a stop to a federal plan to surgically spay 30-50 wild mares in the White Mountain Herd Management Area (HMA) of Wyoming. Supposedly it’s part of a “research” program to control numbers of wild horses. Public-lands ranchers want more grazing territory – and less competition – for their personal livestock. This risky experiment is also suspected of being a step towards eliminating wild horses altogether on public lands, in favor of private business interests.

Public comments are being accepted until January 14, 2016.

“The proposed action also includes the removal of an estimated 168 wild horses from the Little Colorado HMA, where the remaining horses will then be used as a control group. The entire proposal is part of the BLM’s plan to wipe out wild horses from the Wyoming Checkerboard to appease the Rock Springs Grazing Association, whose members graze livestock on the public lands in numbers that dwarf the wild horse populations there,” states the alert from Wild Horse Preservation in their petition letter.

Wild, free-roaming horses are supposed to be protected under the THE WILD FREE-ROAMING HORSES AND BURROS ACT OF 1971 (PUBLIC LAW 92-195) by the Bureau of Land Management, but the law was crippled when Senator Conrad Burns (R) secretly slipped an amendment into the bill in 2004 which effectively gutted the Act and sparked the cruel and controversial wild horse roundups and penning operations. Right now the number of captured horses is straining capacity of holding facilities, and many animals are killed, maimed, injured or at the very least stressed during the chase. After capture many more either go to so-called ‘kill buyers’ for the slaughter industry, are sold to citizens at ‘adoption’ events or languish (sometimes for the rest of their lives) in miserable, crowded pens, often without sufficient food, water or veterinary attention.

The BLM plan, if allowed to move forward, would proceed without consideration of genetic diversity, or the mental or emotional health of the horses involved. Bearing in mind how strongly social and family-oriented horses are, the trauma to mother/foal bonds or herd hierarchy can result in destabilization and loss of social cohesion; thus, it would be putting the future of wild horses itself at risk as priceless genetics are lost to make way for the invasion of privately-owned and destructive livestock on our rugged, yet fragile, wide open western spaces.

To take action against this ill-conceived sterilization program, visit this link for more information and the petition.

Originally posted by Examiner

NE Washington wages war on public-lands wildlife, shoots 2 Profanity Peak wolves from helicopters.

Public lands belong to all Americans and are repositories and sanctuaries for the last of our imperiled, fragmented wildlife populations. Few places left in the US, or the world for that matter, still have enough open, largely undisturbed land to support genetically, behaviorally and ecologically functional populations of an alarmingly number of native species, like wild, free-roaming bison, wild horses, sage grouse – Or those embattled, scapegoated, favorite whipping-boys of the malcontended, our magnificent wolves.

Public domain black wolf Cole, Eric 103_1_8492585093_588d7cd647_o

Eric Cole, Public Domain image


The state of Washington just disappointed the world and proved it’s not the enlightened, wildlife-conscious place we thought it was, when they sent helicopters into wildlands to gun down a mother wolf and a packmate – All because they might have preyed on some cattle that were turned loose (and left unattended) on our public lands. Turned loose to dine on our native flora, decimate our public range, compete with our native wildlife, on our dime, so the owner could make money off us. A press release from the Center for Biological Diversity describes the incident later in this post.

As is the case with the BLM roundups of our (supposedly) federally-protected wild horses, the driving force behind this sniper-attack on an intelligent, emotional, highly-social and family-oriented species was – Greed. Along with mining, drilling, logging and fracking, livestock agriculture is a huge, powerful and well-funded lobby.  Without even questioning how many of the corporations running these destructive, lethal industries are based here in the US, or are foreign, the fact is that our public lands are for ALL Americans, in perpetuity, so you and I can enjoy open spaces, clean air and water, peace and communion, and an intact, fully-functioning ecosystem complete with actual wildlife like wolves and bears, prairie dogs and wild horses, rattlesnakes, tricolored blackbirds, eagles and butterflies.

Not cattle and sheep.

You can learn more about the selling-out of those government officials who are supposed to protect our wildlife, by watching both parts of this video report on the wild horse issue. (You will see that the fate of wolves and wild horses is ominously similar).

It’s bad enough that our human population and outrageous American consumerism are rapidly ruining everything in our path – Even things as lovely, simple and wholesome as back-yard horse properties and fireflies are vanishing faster than teens create new apps.

But the real problem is that we’re not just catapulting our planet into a warming cycle that will not support human life. Even without climate change, we have been responsible for already scrubbing out more than half the biodiversity on the planet. That’s a serious problem, because biodiversity is our savings account, our safe-deposit box, our pharmacy, our hedge against future disasters, as well as our artistic and spiritual well-spring.

Biodiversity means wolves, elephants, lichens, fungi, blackbirds, prairie dogs, and tuna, worms, snakes, plants, algaes, and every organic living thing on the planet.

Yet it’s all being wiped out by greed, and wholesale looting, and we’re losing species before science has even had a chance to describe, name or learn of them.

So when a state or federal government issues an appalling, unscientific and intolerant order to aerial-gun a Momma wolf and her mates to death, just to satisfy the pocket of a welfare rancher, when our decision-makers are willing to not only sacrifice but exterminate our non-human neighbors because we just can’t stand anything interfering with our wants, our reckless, frantic greed and selfishness, we should all be very concerned.

Humans are not ‘better’.

‘Animals’ are not lesser.

Just because they are ‘animals’, just because certain selfish and intolerant people keep perpetuating a distorted and dark myth about the wild brethren of our beloved house dogs, doesn’t mean it’s OK to treat them like vermin. There is no ‘tier-system’ among species. When we begin designating one, with ourselves at the top and everything else below, we leave the door wide open for deeper and deeper bias.

Remember that certain groups of humans have been (and still are) marginalized, demonized and persecuted, even exterminated, as somehow ‘lesser’. No wonder we feel justified in creating a tier-system of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ species. Then we become enablers of our unique new form of mass murder, speciescide. And so we shoot Mama wolves and their families (packs are nothing but extended families) because we want to be able to turn our helpless future hamburgers out into the wilderness, alone, to fatten for our convenience.

Once one of these incidents of wildlife management malpractice manages to slip by without a public outcry, the government collusion with big Industry just becomes emoldened, more empowered. And more dangerous.

We need to stop this, now. Before another wolf dies. Before another wild horse, or mountain lion, or pup-fish, or prairie dog is ground under the heel of human ‘entitlement’. And we need to ensure that wildlife is legally protected from other industry and/or government ‘control’ actions, like this one, ever happening again.

To be fair, not all farmers are bad guys. Some of them are cooperating in the rescue effort to save species. In fact, those tricolor blackbirds mentioned earlier? They’ve gone from ubiquitous, with flocks big enough to block the sun, to candidates for the endangered species list. They’ve lost virtually all the places they used to breed and nest to human development.  The few places left in California with enough appropriate habitat to sustain the last tricolor blackbirds on Earth are – Dairy cattle farms.

It can be done.

All it takes is willingness.

Read the full, unedited press release from the Center for Biological Diversity:


Helicopter Gunners Kill Two Wolves in Northeastern Washington

PORTLAND, Ore.— The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced late today that aerial gunners have killed two adult members of the Profanity Peak wolf pack in northeast Washington, including the pack’s breeding female.

“Washington state just made things worse, not better by killing these two wolves,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Not only is it a tragedy to have these two beautiful wolves wiped out — by gunners in helicopters of all things — but there’s very strong science showing that killing a breeding animal can sometimes cause a wolf pack to split into several packs or dissolve altogether, disrupting their social order and even spurring additional conflicts with wildlife.”

The kill order was issued following investigations concluding the wolves recently killed three calves and a cow and that three other calf deaths are probable wolf kills. All of the losses occurred on public lands grazing allotments, in territory occupied by the Profanity Peak pack. The decision was made under the guidelines of a new lethal removal protocol that was agreed to this spring by the state Wolf Advisory Group, a stakeholder group convened by the Department of Fish and Wildlife that includes agency staff and representatives from the ranching, hunting and conservation community.

Despite the provisions of the Wolf Lethal Removal Protocol that was recently agreed to by the wolf advisory group, indicating that incremental lethal removal is the preferred avenue, the agency now has sharpshooters on the ground trying to kill more pack members.

“This wolf-killing operation is unfolding in a really disturbing way,” Weiss said. “If wolves are going to ever have a hope of recovering in Washington state, we need to rethink how these kinds of operations are being carried out.”



*As a fundraiser to help our wolves, the author is giving 50% or more of all proceeds of this wolf T-shirt to the Center’s Wolf Defense Fund. You can buy your T-shirt here, or donate directly to the Center for Biological Diversity.



Public Domain image


Feds dumping ESA mandate and washing hands of red wolves

Google Cache SAVED VERSION from April 12, 2016 5:36 PM MST after Examiner unexpectedly shut down.
Red wolf
Red wolf
Dave Pape, public domain

Red wolf population crashing, emergency petition filed by CBD

Google Cache SAVED version after Examiner unexpectedly shut down. Original date May 25, 2016 1:19 PM MST

USFWS abandons critically endangered red wolves

From February 19, 2016 1:08 PM MST retrieved Google Cache version, for preservation after Examiner unexpectedly shut down.

Critically endangered red wolf trapped by landowner demanding lethal-take permit

From March 2, 2016 5:49 PM MST Google Cache save after Examiner unexpectedly shut down.
Landowner illegally traps critically endangered red wolf
Landowner illegally traps critically endangered red wolf
Photo: NC Fish and Hunt posting 2/27 (Approved for media use)