1 Tahrcountry Musings: February 2014

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wildlife crossing structures and gene flow

Montana State University researchers have shown that wildlife crossing structures can help maintain genetically healthy populations of bears. The study was based on 10,000 hair samples from black bears and grizzlies that were collatedin Baniff National Park, Canada spanning the crossings in the Trans-Canada Highway. There are currently 44 crossings in the park spanning Trans-Canada Highway and this is the most extensive system of wildlife crossing structures on the planet.

WTI scientist Michael Sawaya, who wrote the paper, says “While there have been a lot of studies showing that wildlife are using these crossings, this is the first time anyone has shown that animals using the crossings are breeding often enough to ensure that the populations on either side of the highway are not being genetically isolated.”

Details of the study appear in the British journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Global Forest Change Data 2000–2012 Available For Download

The forest change data is now available for download. This has been made possible by the University of Maryland, Google, and other partners. You will be able to create derivative maps, visualizations, and aggregations.

This is the original study which you can utilize in conjunction: Hansen, M. C., P. V. Potapov, R. Moore, M. Hancher, S. A. Turubanova, A. Tyukavina, D. Thau, S. V. Stehman, S. J. Goetz, T. R. Loveland, A. Kommareddy, A. Egorov, L. Chini, C. O. Justice, and J. R. G. Townshend. 2013. “High-Resolution Global Maps of 21st-Century Forest Cover Change.” Science 342 (15 November): 850–53

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Book Recommendation

Birds & People by Mark Cocker
Photography: David Tipling

Here is a remarkable book by Mark Cocker -- the UK's finest living nature writer -- and David Tipling -- one of the best bird photographers in the world. The book gives insight in to the relationship between birds and humankind, with contributions from bird enthusiasts from round the world. In his introduction, Cocker states, “This is an unusual bird book, in that it is as much about humans as it is about birds.”

The blurb states “ Part natural history and part cultural study, it describes and maps the entire spectrum of our engagements with birds, drawing in themes of history, literature, art, cuisine, language, lore, politics and the environment. In the end, this is a book as much about us as it is about birds. Birds and People are also exceptional in that the author has solicited contributions from people worldwide. Personal anecdotes and stories have come from more than 650 individuals in 81 different countries. They range from university academics to Mongolian eagle hunters and from Amerindian shamans to some of the most celebrated writers of our age. The sheer multitude of voices in this global chorus means that Birds and People is both a source book on why we cherish birds and a powerful testament to their importance for all humanity”.
Sunday Times described the book like this "A sumptuous encyclopedia of humanity's relationship with birds."
·         Hardcover: 592 pages
·         Publisher: RHUK (1 August 2013)
·         Language: English
·         ISBN-10: 0224081748
·         ISBN-13: 978-0224081740
·         Product Dimensions: 28.4 x 22.4 x 4.6 cm

Saturday, February 08, 2014

A World Heritage sanctuary for the world’s most threatened cat

The known history of Doñana National Park goes back over 700 years – the area was once a favourite hunting reserve of several Spanish kings. In 1963, the Spanish Government, in collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), decided to acquire 7,000 hectares (27 sq miles) of land to create the Doñana Biological Reserve. Six years later, Doñana National Park was born, with its boundaries being extended in 1978 and again in 2004. Since 2006, the park’s management has been the exclusive responsibility of the Autonomous Community of Andalucía’s government.

Today, it is the world’s only protected area that is not only a National Park but also a World Heritage site (designated in 1994), a Ramsar wetland site, a Biosphere Reserve, and a European Community Special Protection Area.

The uniqueness of Doñana is due to the great diversity of biotopes it contains, allowing for the coexistence of a wide variety of plant and animal species. In addition to its marsh ecosystem, which is characterised by high productivity, a set of exceptional environmental units converge here: beaches, fixed and mobile dune fields, scrub woodlands and maquis, and numerous lagoons scattered among the vegetation. The park’s size and strategic location make it one of the most important wetlands in Europe: as a wintering area, it receives more than half a million water fowl each year, and also serves as a stop-over for migratory birds on the route to and from Africa.

Having been inhabited and altered by humans throughout its history, the Doñana region continues as a stronghold for traditional uses such as beekeeping, harvesting of pine cones and agriculture. Important traditional events include the “Saca de las Yeguas”, a livestock event, and the “Romería de El Rocío”, one of the most popular religious pilgrimages in the country.

Info Courtesy: IUCN

Friday, February 07, 2014

WildLeaks -The first, secure, online whistleblower platform dedicated to Wildlife & Forest Crime

A group of organizations fighting wildlife crime have banded together and launched WildLeaks - the first global, secure online whistleblower platform dedicated to wildlife and forest crime.

"Our first priority is to facilitate the identification of criminals and corrupt governmental officials behind the poaching and trafficking of endangered species such as ivory, rhino horn, big cats, apes, pangolins and birds, as well as forest products", said Andrea Crosta, Project Leader of WildLeaks . The platform also has proviso for protecting the people who chose to send them information, not only by providing a state-of-the-art secure system but also by managing and using the information in the correct way. Files are encrypted at every stage.

Click HERE to go to the website of WildLeaks

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

World Wildlife Day - March 3

The United Nations General Assembly has designated March 3 as World Wildlife Day. This will coincide with the day of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The General Assembly reaffirmed the intrinsic value of wildlife and its various contributions, including ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic, to sustainable development and human well-being. The CITES Secretariat, in collaboration with UN agencies, will implement World Wildlife Day.

CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon said “World Wildlife Day is an ideal opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that conservation provides to people. At the same time, the Day reminds us of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime, which has wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts. We invite all member States, relevant organizations of the United Nations system as well as all other interested organizations and individuals – from airports to museums to schools – to get involved in this global celebration of wildlife.”

The CITES Secretariat has created a dedicated World Wildlife Day Facebook page to share news and stories of the Day, which can be followed at: https://www.facebook.com/WorldWildlifeDay