You can make a big difference for ocean conservation and species preservation. There are many easy lifestyle changes that can aid in the effort of saving our oceans and the animals that inhabit them.
Give Power To Your Vote
Sound ocean policy depends on the election of proper public officials. Do your homework and decide wisely before casting your vote. Don’t forfeit your right to vote; on the contrary, remain politically active even after Election Day. Contact your representative and voice your questions and concerns. Be active.
Collect Litter And Garbage Near Beaches
A large percentage of the plastic garbage polluting the oceans begins as litter on a beach. Enjoy your day at the beach without engaging in activities that will destroy our oceans. Properly dispose of your trash, pickup litter that other people carelessly left behind, and participate in beach clean-up initiatives.
Consume Less Energy
Carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuel burning contributes to the acidification of our oceans. A grave danger from this phenomenon is the demise of coral reefs worldwide because the water’s lower pH dissolves their calcium framework. There are several easy ways in which you can decrease your energy consumption. Use public transportation, ride a bicycle, or even walk. Purchase home appliances that are highly efficient. Turn off devices that you aren’t using. Adjust your home temperature a bit higher during summertime, and a bit lower in wintertime. Opt for eco-friendly light bulbs in your home.
Use Reusable Plastic Products
Marine habitats are compromised by the presence of plastic remnants in the ocean, which are also to blame for the direct deaths of many marine creatures. Various creatures of the sea such as sea turtles, birds, and marine mammals mistakenly take floating plastic objects for food, leading to their death due to choking or starvation from blocked digestive systems. You can help cut down that unnecessary loss of life by using reusable water bottles and grocery bags made from cloth.
Global fisheries are very close to the point of collapse. According to FAO, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, 75 percent of fisheries worldwide are now fully or over-exploited, or severely depleted. Animals are on the edge of extinction due to corporate greed and over-consumption. Don't participate in their destruction.
Properly Dispose Of Hazardous Materials
Many harmful and toxic materials, such as motor oil, end up in aquatic ecosystems because people don’t follow sound disposal practices. The result is water pollution and further degradation of oceanic health. It is important to follow environmentally friendly practices when disposing of hazardous materials.
Minimize The Use Of Fertilizers
The use of fertilizers in agriculture and gardening usually results in excess material reaching the ocean. This can cause “dead zones”, which are areas depleted of oxygen in the water. Because all aquatic life depends on oxygen to live, fish and shrimp included, they can only abandon the area to survive. So, minimize your use of fertilizer, or eliminate it altogether.
Buy Products That Are Ocean-Friendly
Don’t use products that have been made using unsustainable methods that harm the oceans. Such products include cosmetics that contain shark-derived squalene, or jewelry made with sea-life parts such as corals or sea-turtle shells. These products are destructive and eliminate whole ecosystems.
Inform people of the situation of the oceans of the world and the need for action. Share the message and actively participate in conversation.
The single most effective way of helping the oceans is to adopt a vegan diet. Animal farming is the number one cause of water consumption and pollution. It has a higher greenhouse effect on the atmosphere than fossil fuel consumption. The farming industry is the principle cause of dead zones in the oceans. Overexploitation of fisheries leads to the extinction of entire species. Unsustainable fishing methods destroy marine habitats and ecosystems. By opting to consume exclusively plant-based food, you aid in the rescue of our oceans, while easing animal suffering at the same time.
In 1971, more letters poured into Congress over the threat to our nation’s wild horses than over any issue in U.S. history, except for the Vietnam War. And so Congress unanimously passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, declaring that “wild horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene.” The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) were appointed to implement the Act. Most herd areas are under BLM jurisdiction.
Fast-forward thirty years: in 2001, after decades of failed herd management policies, the BLM obtained a 50% increase in annual budget to $29 million for implementation of an aggressive removal campaign; in 2004, the 1971 Act was surreptitiously amended, without so much as a hearing or opportunity for public review, opening the door to the sale of thousands of wild horses to slaughter for human consumption abroad.
Injuries, abortions, trauma and death are the common results of wild horse round-ups (or “gathers,” to use a placating euphemism). Horses seen galloping during a round-up are terrified wild animals chased by helicopter and running for their lives. It has been documented that, long after they have been adopted out, BLM-captured horses will still react in terror to a helicopter flying overhead.
As wild horses are driven into holding pens, closely-knit family bands are broken up; foals may be separated from their mothers, trampled, or sometimes, too exhausted to keep up with the herd, left behind to fend for themselves out on the range; stallions, suddenly crammed in close quarters, will fight. At the holding site, BLM makes “liberal” use of its euthanasia policy: horses with physical defects such as club-feet are euthanized, including adults that had managed to thrive for years in the wild.
ABUSE, NEGLECT & SECRECY
BLM routinely turns a blind eye on abuse by its two main round-up contractors. To quote an eye-witness to the 2006 Sulphur round-up in Utah: “In all my life I have never seen such blatant abuse and neglect and just plain lack of compassion for horses, or animals in general for that matter.” It is not uncommon for contractors to drag a listless body into the round-up pen to collect their fee, as they get paid per horse, dead or alive.
Round-ups are often conducted in secrecy, with heavy police presence to keep the public at bay. Once in a while, BLM and its contractors will invite the public and the media to a carefully staged capture, where a few horses are trotted into a pen. Members of the public are positioned at the holding pens, usually during the first few days of a round-up, so they are generally witnessing the horses coming in from areas closest to the round-up site. As days go by, the further out the wranglers go, the more challenging for the horses who are run in large numbers over much longer distances.
THE REAL REASON
The current situation is the result of a long history of failed policies, land allocation issues, and an intricate money trail. The BLM and the USFS, among others, are responsible for managing the nation’s public lands and are foremost the managers of wild horses and burros. Their responsibilities also include issuing public land grazing permits to cattle ranchers. These grazing permits cover limited areas of public land that are available for lease. So, for every wild horse removed from a grazing permit allotment, a fee-paying cow gets to take its place, and a public land rancher gets the benefit of public land forage at bargain rates. This is the number one reason wild horses are removed from public lands.
PLAYING WITH NUMBERS
The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act mandated that wild horses be managed at their then-current population level, officially estimated by the BLM at 17,000 (three years later, BLM’s first census found over 42,000 horses). To the horses' detriment, both sides agreed to allow the government to manage wild horse populations at that “official” 1971 level. Eleven years later, a study by the National Academy of Sciences found BLM’s 1971 estimate to have been “undoubtedly low to an unknown, but perhaps substantial, degree,” given subsequent census results and taking into account the horses' growth rate and the number of horses since removed. But the damage had already been done; management levels had been etched in stone, and processes for removal of "excess" horses were well in place.
The fact is that the 1982 National Academy of Sciences report and two General Accounting Office reports have countered key points in BLM's premise for its current herd reduction campaign. These government-sanctioned documents concluded that: (i) horses reproduce at a much slower rate than BLM asserts, (ii) wild horse forage use remains a small fraction of cattle forage use on public ranges, (iii) “despite congressional direction, BLM did not base its removal of wild horses from federal rangeland on how many horses ranges could support,” and (iv) “BLM was making its removal decisions on the basis of an interest in reaching perceived historic population levels, or the recommendations of advisor groups largely composed of livestock permittees.”
From over 2 million in the 1800s, America’s wild horse population has dwindled to fewer than 33,000. There are now more wild horses in government holding pens than remain in the wild, with many of the remaining herds managed at population levels that do not guarantee their long-term survival. Still, the round-ups continue.
Over the past forty years, federal law enacted by the people on behalf of their wild horses has been ignored. No strategic plan to keep viable herds of wild horses on public lands was ever developed.
Leopards are beautiful cats generally found in the dense, damp, forested areas of India and Southeast Asia. Once common in all parts of Africa apart from the Sahara, they have now disappeared from most parts of northern Africa (apart from a few areas of the Atlas Mountains) and are scarce in the extreme west of the continent. The leopard is under extreme threat, especially in the Middle East and southwest Asia. It is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List because it is declining in large parts of its range due to habitat loss and fragmentation, and hunting for trade and pest control. It is regionally extinct in Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuwait, Syria, Libya and Tunisia.
The European fashion for leopard skins may have diminished since the 1970s, but leopards are still killed for their skins. These crimes are often overlooked.
While it is illegal to take leopards from the wild to put in zoos, captive-bred leopards (and other animals) retain their wild instincts. They are shy creatures, used to remaining hidden and avoiding open spaces. Zoos want people to see the animals and so, in captivity, leopards are often prevented from engaging in their natural behaviors.
For just $3400, you can track and kill a leopard on a Big Game Hunting Trip. These trips are geared toward tourists. You list the animals you want to kill and the tour guides will take you to where you are likely to be able to kill them.
The bones of the leopard are used in traditional Asian medicine and are sometimes prescribed as a substitute for tiger bones in the treatment of rheumatic diseases and aching joints and muscles. Ironically, the success in controlling the trade in tiger parts may actually have led to greater risk for other cats.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Do not support any form of animal entertainment.
Do not purchase animal products.
Write to your U.S. Representative and your two U.S. Senators and tell them that you do not want your tax dollars spent on game hunting. Write to The Honorable __________, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510; The Honorable __________, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515.
Write to the conservation organizations that you want to support and ask them about their policies regarding game hunting and animal entertainment. Spend your well-intentioned donation wisely.
Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. Recycling can benefit your community and the environment.
Benefits of Recycling
- Reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators
- Conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals
- Prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials
- Saves energy
- Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change
- Helps sustain the environment for future generations
- Helps create new well-paying jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries.
Steps to Recycling Materials
Recycling includes the three steps below, which create a continuous loop, represented by the familiar recycling symbol.
Step 1: Collection and Processing
There are several methods for collecting recyclables, including curbside collection, drop-off centers, and deposit or refund programs. After collection, recyclables are sent to a recovery facility to be sorted, cleaned and processed into materials that can be used in manufacturing. Recyclables are bought and sold just like raw materials would be, and prices go up and down depending on supply and demand.
Step 2: Manufacturing
More and more of today's products are being manufactured with recycled content. Common household items that contain recycled materials include the following:
- Newspapers and paper towels
- Aluminum, plastic, and glass soft drink containers
- Steel cans
- Plastic laundry detergent bottles
Recycled materials are also used in new ways such as recovered glass in asphalt to pave roads or recovered plastic in carpeting and park benches.
Step 3: Purchasing New Products Made from Recycled Materials
You help close the recycling loop by buying new products made from recycled materials. There are thousands of products that contain recycled content. When you go shopping, look for the following:
- Products that can be easily recycled
- Products that contain recycled content
Below are some of the terms used:
Recycled-content product - The product was manufactured with recycled materials either collected from a recycling program or from waste recovered during the normal manufacturing process. The label will sometimes include how much of the content was from recycled materials.
Post-consumer content - Very similar to recycled content, but the material comes only from recyclables collected from consumers or businesses through a recycling program.
Recyclable product - Products that can be collected, processed and manufactured into new products after they have been used. These products do not necessarily contain recycled materials. Remember not all kinds of recyclables may be collected in your community, so be sure to check with your local recycling program before you buy.
Some of the common products you can find that can be made with recycled content include the following:
The hippopotamus outweighs all the many fresh water semi-aquatic mammals that inhabit our rivers, lakes and streams. After elephants and the white rhinoceros, the hippopotamus is the third largest land mammal on Earth. Its hide alone can weigh half a ton.
The ancient Egyptians both feared and revered the hippopotamus. The word hippopotamus comes from the Greek for "river horse" and the hippo, once indigenous to Egypt, flourished there, grazing along the fertile banks of the Nile River and swimming in its muddy waters. Hippos may seem slow and lumbering, but they can be ferocious, deadly killers. These prolific animals multiplied until the river was thick with them. They destroyed crops, up ended fishing boats and killed the men as they fell into the river. The ancient kings found sport in great hippopotamus hunts that would thin out the herds. Hunts became bloody battles between man and beast. The hippo is no longer found in Egypt. They were wiped out of that country in modern times because of the crop damage they caused, but the hippo still thrives in other parts of Africa.
Hippopotamus are of the Order Artiodactyla: Even-toed ungulates. On land, the enormous weight of a hippo is distributed evenly and is adequately supported by the four webbed toes on each of its feet. These animals are grayish in color with thick skin that is virtually hairless. The hippo has no sweat or sebaceous glands and must rely on the water to keep cool. A hippo’s hide has the unusual property of secreting a viscous red fluid that protects it from the sun. This specialized excretion may also be a healing agent.
Female hippopotamus bear a single young and will give birth either on land or in shallow water. The mother helps the newborn to the surface of the water. In time, she will teach her baby to swim. Newborns can be seen in the river, resting on their mothers' backs. At birth, a baby hippo will weigh from 55 to 120 pounds. The mother must protect it from crocodiles in the water and lions on land. She must also ward off male hippos. Males do not bother baby hippos when on land, but they will attack them in the water.
Adult hippos can stay under water for up to six minutes. A young hippo can only stay submerged for about half a minute. In order to suckle under water, the baby must take a deep breath, close its nostrils and ears and then wrap its tongue tightly around the teat to suck. This instinctive behavior is the same when the baby suckles on land. Baby hippos start to eat grass at 3 weeks, but will continue to nurse until they are about one year old.
Hippos are usually found in groups of just over a dozen, presided over by a territorial bull. They have flexible social systems defined by food and water conditions and hierarchy. Periods of drought will force them to congregate in large numbers around a limited water supply. This overcrowding disrupts the system and under these conditions, there will be higher levels of aggression. Fights for dominance will be brutal with loud and frequent vocalization. Hippos can bear the scars of old, deep wounds sustained in such battles. A hippo establishes status and marks territory by spreading its excrement with its flat, paddle-like tail.
Hippos move surprisingly well, climbing adeptly up steep riverbanks to grazing areas. They spend the heat of the day in the water, leaving it to graze at night. Apparently creatures of habit, they enter and exit the water at the same spot. They will graze four to five hours, usually covering one or two miles. The amount of grass consumed is relatively modest for animals their size. A hippo’s appetite is in proportion to its sedentary life.
Despite the fact that ditches and low fences can easily deter them from encroaching on cultivated areas, hippopotamus are slaughtered by the hundreds each year. These "controlled management" schemes are put forth less for crop protection than for the meat they yield. The fat and ivory tusks of the hippo are also of value to humans, as is the hippo’s grazing land. The hippos’ range was once from the Nile delta to the Cape, but the mighty river horse is now mostly confined to protected areas.
Most of us will never see a hippopotamus. But as we know more about them, we may learn to value them and their place in the larger ecosystem we all share.
Whales are hunted for their meat and other body parts. The oil from their bodies has been used to make lipstick, shoe polish and margarine. The practice of hunting whales began in the 9th century when Spain undertook the first organized hunt. By the 20th century, the Netherlands, Denmark, Britain, France, Germany, Norway, Japan and the United States had begun to kill large numbers of whales.
Certain species of whales were hunted so much that their numbers began to decline. There were fewer whales than there had been before. In 1946 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was formed to address the issues of whaling and this growing threat to whales. The IWC created three categories of whaling: Commercial, Scientific and Aboriginal Subsistence.
In commercial whaling, whales are killed for their meat and their parts. In scientific whaling, whales are killed so that their bodies can be studied and cataloged. Aboriginal subsistence is the whaling carried out by native cultures, such as the Native Americans in the United States. These groups of people are given certain rights to hunt whales based upon their cultural history and dependence upon whale meat.
Due to the danger of extinction facing many whale species, the IWC voted to suspend all commercial whale hunting beginning in 1986. Despite this international agreement to stop killing whales for their parts, several countries continued to kill whales and sell their meat and parts, including Norway, Iceland and Japan.
A loophole in the ban on commercial whaling allowed for the killing of large and medium whales for "scientific purposes." The ban also doesn't cover smaller whales like pilot whales, dolphins and porpoises. Iceland and Norway take whales within their own waters, otherwise known as exclusive economic zones. Japan conducts whaling in international waters, including in a whale sanctuary in the ocean off the Antarctic coast, despite the ban.
Whales are most often killed using a primitive weapon called a harpoon. The harpoon has a grenade attached that explodes when the harpoon enters the body of the whale. It can take a very long time for some whales to die which causes additional suffering and fear in these gentle animals. There is no humane way to kill a whale.
Despite international pressure and the best efforts of grassroots movements to ‘save the whales’ around the world, whaling continues to be a danger facing whales and their future here on earth.
Interested in making a difference for the planet and the animals that inhabit it? One of the best places to volunteer may be right near you:
an animal shelter
animal protection organization
Whether you walk dogs at your shelter, stuff envelopes for an educational mailing, clean cages or assist with a fundraising event, you can make a difference in the lives of animals.
VolunteerMatch helps good people and good causes connect. Its online service, www.volunteermatch.org, makes it easy to find a way to make a difference by location, expertise, or availability. The online network features thousands of volunteer listings. And each day, new listings are added. There’s something for everyone. Just enter your zip code and interest area, and VolunteerMatch will provide you with a list of opportunities in your community. See something that interests you? Click on it to read more. Another click contacts the organization. It's that simple.
HOW TO FIND YOUR LOCAL ANIMAL SHELTER OR RESCUE
The easiest place to start your search for your local animal shelter is online at:
You can enter your zip code and find a list of animal shelters, animal control agencies, and other animal care organizations in your community. In addition, these sites feature animals available for adoption, low-cost spay/neuter services, and volunteer opportunities.
You may also want to look in your phone book or search online. Animal shelters are called by a variety of names, so search for "animal shelter," "humane society," or "animal control." Public animal care and control agencies are often listed under the city or county health department or police department in phone books.
VOLUNTEER FOR WILDLIFE
Volunteering to participate in wildlife conservation is a great way to get involved in scientific research, promote environmental education, and gain experience working with animals.
Today, there are many volunteer opportunities available, both locally and internationally. These opportunities range from volunteering at your nearby forest preserve to traveling to a distant country to participate in a long-term research project.
To find volunteer work, research the various animal protection organizations and decide which would best suit your philosophical position, talents and capabilities.
The WAN Directory is a good starting point for research (particularly if you follow links to the websites of different organizations). You can search the WAN Directory geographically or by activity at www.worldanimal.net.
VOLUNTEER AT AN ANIMAL SANCTUARY
Volunteer to do the dirty work at an animal sanctuary. Usually, by policy, there will not be interaction with the animals, especially if the animals involved are wildlife. But there are always areas to be mucked, mowed, cleaned, repaired, landscaped, constructed, painted and inspected; food to be prepared; items to be washed; files to be organized; data to be entered; mail to be opened, email to be answered and more. Depending on your skills, you can also offer to do a youtube video, write and submit articles for publicity, do plumbing, or complete some electrical wiring. In other words, whatever your skills, a sanctuary can probably use them. Find a sanctuary through Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and American Sanctuary Association.
MORE WAYS TO HELP
Write to producers and networks of television programs in which animals are abused or ridiculed.
Write to thank producers and publishers for animal-friendly messages in print and on television.
Write letters to companies that conduct animal experiments.
Write letters to companies that use real wild and exotic animals in their commercials.
Write letters to the editor on earth and animal issues.
Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper that allows ads for fur, circuses or rodeos.
Write and call legislators to ask them to support animal-friendly legislation and thank them for past support.
Call the sponsors of upcoming entertainment events that use animals and ask them not to sponsor animal entertainment.
Encourage radio and television talk shows to discuss animal issues.
Record a pro animal/environment message on your voice mail.
Include a flyer or fact sheet with every bill you pay.
Ask your child’s teacher to stop keeping animals in the classroom.
Ask your child's school to stop requiring students to dissect animals.
Offer to walk a tethered neighbor dog and provide the dog with food, fresh water and toys.
Turn your backyard into a wildlife sanctuary.
Deal with wildlife problems humanely.
I.D. your companion animals and encourage others to do the same.
Prepare disaster kits for your companion animals.
Post flyers and fact sheets on work bulletin boards.
Donate to organizations that legitimately help animals and the environment. Expose greenwash organizations to coworkers so they can make more informed decisions regarding their donations.
Encourage coworkers to donate to organizations that do not test on animals.
Make cruelty-free and environmentally responsible investments.
Buy cruelty-free and green supplies for your office.
Use a coffee mug with a pro animal or pro earth message at work.
Take vegan dishes to office parties.
Encourage your workplace to implement dog-friendly policies.
Hold a volunteer work party to write letters, help out at an animal shelter, or make banners or signs for a demonstration.
IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Donate pro earth and animal books to your local library.
Setup a library display with a poster, flyers and appropriate books.
Donate pro earth and animal DVDs to your local video rental store.
Wear clothes and buttons with earth and animal statements.
Post and distribute WAF flyers and fact sheets around your town.
Setup an information table in a busy area of town to distribute flyers and fact sheets.
Offer to show videos and host seminars.
Take vegan meals to community functions and share the recipes.
Show your hairdresser products that aren’t tested on animals.
Encourage local pet stores to stop selling animals and to work with local animal groups to offer adoptions instead.
Organize a low cost spay and neuter event in your community.
Work to get local universities and schools to stop requiring dissection and to add vegan options to their menu.
Help feral cats in your neighborhood with Trap-Neuter-Return.
Ask for vegan options at local restaurants and grocery stores.
Suggest an earth or animal themed book for your next book club meeting.
Work to engage your place of worship with animal and environmental issues.
Register to vote.
Determine which elected officials represent you at local, state and federal levels.
Encourage local officials to find long-lasting, nonlethal solutions to conflicts with wildlife.
Attend town meetings to urge officials to support animal and environmental issues.
Work for the passage of local ordinances in your community.
Engage kids and teens with humane education activities and lesson plans.
Learn what animal and environmental legislation is now pending in Congress, and contact your federal and state legislators.
Organize a demonstration to help the earth and animals - holding posters and passing out flyers.
Promote earth and animal issues on cable-access television.
Speak at your club or church about earth and animal issues.
Host an earth and animal dinner party.
Teach a college or community education course on earth and animal issues.
Speak, or sponsor a speaker, at local schools, universities and civic clubs.
Find a local wildlife rescuer to help stop cruel trapping and killing of animals in your community.
Find free advertising space in your town for earth and animal issues.
Organize a litter cleanup in your town.
Follow World Animal Foundation on Facebook. Help spread the word about animal issues by sharing our posts, links and photos.
Include a link to WorldAnimalFoundation.org in your e-mail signature.
Add a link to WorldAnimalFoundation.org to your website, blog or social networking page.
Sign online earth and animal petitions.
Place earth and animal banners on your blog or website.
Host a fundraising party at home to raise donations for WAF.
Host a fundraising event in your community to raise donations for WAF.
Make a personal annual or monthly donation to WAF.
Donate a percentage of your online sales to WAF.
Donate a percentage of your business profits to WAF.
Make a memorial gift in honor of a friend or companion animal.
Include WAF as a beneficiary in your will.
Adopt an animal from a local animal shelter or rescue group.
Purchase eco-friendly and cruelty-free cosmetics, clothing and household products.
Provide for your animals’ future in case you can’t care for them.
Wear pro earth and pro animal t-shirts.
Display a bumper sticker on your car.
Display earth and animal stickers and magnets on yourself and your stuff.
Reduce or eliminate animal products from your diet.
Captive hunting operations—also referred to as "shooting preserves," "canned hunts," or "game ranches"—are private trophy hunting facilities that offer their customers the opportunity to kill exotic and native animals trapped within enclosures. Some facilities have even allowed their clients to kill animals remotely via the Internet.
The animals killed in captive hunts may come from private breeders, animal dealers, circuses or even zoos. These animals are frequently hand-raised and bottle-fed, so they have lost their natural fear of people. In many facilities, the animals expect to be fed at regular times by familiar people—a setup that guarantees a kill for trophy hunters.
Endangered species are even available at captive hunts. Several species of threatened and endangered animals are regularly advertised at captive hunting ranches. For example, the International Union for the Conservations of Nature and Natural Resources lists the scimitar-horned oryx and Pere David's deer as extinct in the wild; the Dama gazelle and the addax as critically endangered; the Arabian oryx and markhor as endangered; the blackbuck and bongo as near threatened; and the Nubian ibex, aoudad, barasingha, mouflon, yak and European bison as vulnerable.
Although the Endangered Species Act (ESA) protects animals listed as endangered or threatened, captive hunt enthusiasts exploit loopholes in federal law that allow captive-bred wildlife to be killed if permitted by state law. This creates a market for endangered species’ trophies, and can encourage illegal poaching of the animals in their native habitat. Issuing permits to shoot endangered species on these ranches contradicts the basic purposes of the ESA, which is to conserve endangered and threatened wildlife – not kill them.
Semi-tame animals make easy targets, so captive hunt operators can offer their customers a guarantee of "no kill, no pay." The animals are guaranteed something as well—that there will be no escape.
Due to the high population densities on captive hunts, risk of disease transmission increases, posing a threat to animals inside and outside the fences. And it is doubtful that those involved in the captive hunting business provide acceptable veterinary care for their animals. Diseases such as tuberculosis and brucellosis—which can also infect farm animals and other wildlife—have been diagnosed in captive wildlife. Michigan battled an outbreak of tuberculosis among deer a few years ago due to baiting, which encourages animals to congregate in small areas. Chronic wasting disease, a fatal disease that infects deer, elk, and moose, is another serious concern. CWD has been reported in 19 states; in 11 of these states CWD was present in captive wildlife populations. In 2011, new cases of CWD have been reported in South Dakota, Illinois, West Virginia, Minnesota, Maryland, Nebraska, and Kansas.
Although there must legally be fencing around captive hunts, animals often can and sometimes do escape from these facilities. Since 2007, there have been 48 instances of elk escaping from captive facilities in Iowa alone. In Wisconsin, captive facilities reported 437 escapes from 2004 to 2007. The interstate transport of animals for breeding purposes increases the possibility of spreading these diseases even further. Once present, CWD becomes increasingly difficult to control, and attempts to halt the disease can cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Through escaped animals, fence-line transmission, or environmental contamination, game farms and captive hunting ranches are putting our wild herds at grave risk.
Captive hunting is a lucrative and expanding industry. It is estimated that more than 1,000 captive mammal hunting operations are operating in at least two dozen states. Several factors feed into that expansion: The overbreeding of captive exotic animals, the desire by some hunters with plenty of cash for a quick and easy kill, and the incentive to bag exotic mammals provided by Safari Club International's "Introduced Trophy Game Animals of North America" trophy hunting achievement award.
Do all hunters support captive hunting? No. As hunter and noted author Ted Kerasote puts it, "'Canned hunting' is a misnomer. More accurately defined as 'shooting animals in small enclosures,' the activity has nothing to do with the motives that inform authentic hunting: procuring healthy, organic food; participating in the timeless cycles of birth, death, and nurturing; honoring the lives that support us; and reconnecting with wildness. No matter where one stands on hunting—vehemently opposed to it or seeing it as yet another way to live sustainably on earth—one ought to decry shooting animals behind fences."
"Fair chase"—a concept central to the philosophy of many in the hunting community—doesn't exist in captive hunts. The self-described ethical hunting community (including groups like Boone & Crockett, Pope & Young, and the Izaak Walton League) is becoming increasingly vocal in its opposition to canned hunting.
As reviled as captive hunting is by non-hunters and hunters alike, no federal law bans the practice, and only about half of the states have policies that ban or restrict canned hunts. The regulations implementing the federal Animal Welfare Act do not apply to game preserves, hunting preserves, and captive hunts. Although the Endangered Species Act protects animals listed as endangered or threatened, the Fish and Wildlife Service does not prohibit private ownership of these animals and even allows captive hunting of endangered species.
Despite ever shrinking green space, the animals that share the Earth with us are trying to survive. Our homes, offices and shopping centers were developed on what was once forest and fields. Chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, possums, skunks, raccoons, ground hogs and deer are not the invaders. We are. Please remember this when these displaced animals forage for food on your property or try to find places to bear and rear their young.
With education and raised awareness, more and more people are choosing the enlightened and compassionate way to protect their homes and gardens from unwanted animal visitors. There are many humane alternatives to killing. Simple commonsense and prevention are the best forms of animal control.
Raccoons and possum are attracted by garbage. Keep all leftover food inside until the night before trash pick-up. Seal organic garbage in plastic bags (a good way to reuse sandwich or storage bags) and refrigerate or, better yet, freeze it. The less your garbage smells, the less likely it will attract an animal. Use trashcans, with locking lids, where allowed. Otherwise, use heavy-duty, tightly tied trash bags.
With so few places left to burrow or nest, raccoons, possums, skunks and ground hogs will look for safe haven wherever they can find it. They will seek out the weak spots around your home. Neglect invites these animals. A well maintained home does not.
Install lattice under porches and decks to block animals from nesting. Another option is stainless steel screening that can be sunk into the ground around the inhabited area. A one-way gate is installed that allows the animal to leave, but will not allow it to return. Only install this form of prevention when there are no babies in the nest.
Keep your garage or shed door tightly closed and repair broken boards at the bottom of cracks in the foundation.
Seal all openings under the roofline and cap your chimney. Do not do this if an animal has already entered. Wait until the animal has left to look for food. And be certain that there are no babies left behind. Do not use mothballs or ammonia to flush the animal out. You will kill the babies. A radio tuned to a talk show will sometimes disturb the mother enough to cause her to move out with her babies.
Your garden, whether it is a flower garden or you grow vegetables, will tempt any animal that forages for vegetation. There are a variety of repellants commercially available that claim to keep animals away. These range in cost and effectiveness. And there are recipes for homemade, foul smelling deterrents all over the Internet. The same commercial products used to repel cats and dogs often deter raccoons.
Another option is a mechanical device. Motion-activated sprinklers can be purchased that shoot a stream of water at an intruder, like a remote squirt gun. Loud or annoying sounds can also be set to go off like a security alarm, whenever movement is detected.
Polypropylene netting is sold to cover plants and keep deer and rabbits from eating them, but this netting can put other wildlife at risk. Small birds, toads and other animals could become trapped in the mesh. The netting is also very difficult to work with and expensive in large quantities.
By far the most effective “critter control” is fencing. A low voltage, electrified fence can be effective for all animals, but this option can be expensive. Chicken wire has served the purpose for years. A picket fence may be charming, but deer can jump those of average height. Decorative metal fencing looks good and should keep out all but the most intrepid deer. A low-tech method is simply a nylon string, stretched across your garden perimeter, chest-high. A deer will back off when it feels the tension.
Deer can be the most destructive of all the animals that come into your garden to forage. In addition to the measures above, you could simply plant as many deer resistant plants as possible. The following is a list of plants that deer will “rarely” damage or “seldom severely” damage. Ask your nursery expert or search online. You can find photos of beautiful plants that won’t tempt the creatures in your garden.
Each year, orcas leap through the air for a handful of fish, and dolphins are ridden by human performers as if they were water skis. Employees at marine parks like to tell audiences that the animals wouldn't perform if they weren't happy. You can even see how content the dolphins are--just look at the permanent smiles on their faces, right? But what most visitors to marine parks don't realize is that hidden behind the dolphin's "smile" is an industry built on suffering.
FAMILIES TORN APART
Killer whales, or orcas, are members of the dolphin family. They are also the largest animals held in captivity. In the wild, orcas stay with their mothers for life. Family groups, or "pods," consist of a mother, her adult sons and daughters, and the offspring of her daughters. Each member of the pod communicates in a "dialect" specific to that pod. Dolphins swim together in family pods of three to 10 individuals or tribes of hundreds. Imagine, then, the trauma inflicted on these social animals when they are ripped from their families and put in the strange, artificial world of a marine park.
Capturing even one wild orca or dolphin disrupts the entire pod. To obtain a female dolphin of breeding age, for example, boats are used to chase the pod to shallow waters. The dolphins are surrounded with nets that are gradually closed and lifted into the boats. Unwanted dolphins are thrown back. Some die from the shock of their experience. Others slowly succumb to pneumonia caused by water entering their lungs through their blowholes. Pregnant females may spontaneously abort babies.
Orcas and dolphins who survive this ordeal become frantic upon seeing their captured companions and may even try to save them. When Namu, a wild orca captured off the coast of Canada, was towed to the Seattle Public Aquarium in a steel cage, a group of wild orcas followed for miles.
ADAPTING TO AN ALIEN WORLD
In the wild, orcas and dolphins may swim up to 100 miles a day. But captured dolphins are confined to tanks as small as 24 feet by 24 feet wide and 6 feet deep. Wild orcas and dolphins can stay underwater for up to 30 minutes at a time, and they typically spend only 10 to 20 percent of their time at the water's surface. But because the tanks in marine parks are so shallow, captive orcas and dolphins spend more than half of their time at the surface. Experts believe this may account for the collapsed dorsal fins seen on the majority of captive orcas.
Dolphins navigate by echolocation. They bounce sonar waves off other objects to determine shape, density, distance, and location. In tanks, the reverberations from their own sonar bouncing off walls drives some dolphins insane. Jean-Michel Cousteau believes that for captive dolphins, "their world becomes a maze of meaningless reverberations."
Tanks are kept clean with chlorine, copper sulfate, and other harsh chemicals that irritate dolphins' eyes, causing many to swim with their eyes closed. Former dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, who trained dolphins for the television show "Flipper," believes excessive chlorine has caused some dolphins to go blind. The United States Department of Agriculture closed Florida's Ocean World after determining that over-chlorinated water was causing dolphins' skin to peel off.
Newly captured dolphins and orcas are also forced to learn tricks. Former trainers say that withholding food and isolating animals who refuse to perform are two common training methods. According to Ric O'Barry, "positive reward" training is a euphemism for food deprivation. Marine parks may withhold up to 60 percent of food before shows so that the animals will be "sharp" for performances. Former dolphin trainer Doug Cartlidge maintains that highly social dolphins are punished by being isolated from other animals: "You put them in a pen and ignore them. It's like psychological torture." It's little wonder, then, that captive orcas and dolphins are, as O'Barry says, "so stressed-out you wouldn't believe it." The stress is so great that some commit suicide. Jacques Cousteau and his son, Jean-Michel, vowed never to capture marine mammals again after witnessing one captured dolphin kill himself by deliberately crashing into the side of his tank again and again.
If life for captive orcas and dolphins is as tranquil as marine parks would have us believe, the animals should live longer than their wild counterparts. After all, captive marine mammals are not subject to predators and ocean pollution. But captivity is a death sentence for orcas and dolphins.
In the wild, dolphins can live to be 25 to 50 years old. Male orcas live between 50 and 60 years, females between 80 and 90 years. But orcas at Sea World and other marine parks rarely survive more than 10 years in captivity. More than half of all dolphins die within the first two years of captivity; the remaining dolphins live an average of only six years. One Canadian research team found that captivity shortens an orca's life by as much as 43 years, and a dolphin's life by up to 15 years.
Sea World, which owns most of the captive orcas and dolphins in the United States, has one of the worst histories of caring for its animals. After Sea World purchased and closed Marineland, a Southern California competitor, it shipped the Marineland animals to various Sea World facilities. Within a year, 12 of them--5 dolphins, 5 sea lions, and 2 seals--were dead. The following year, Orky, a Marineland orca said to be the "world's most famous killer whale," also died. Because of such high mortality rates and because captive breeding programs have been highly unsuccessful, marine parks continue to capture orcas and dolphins from the wild.
Captive animals are not the only victims of these "circuses of the sea." Sea World patrons were stunned when two orcas repeatedly dragged trainer Jonathan Smith to the bottom of their tank, in an apparent attempt to drown him. Trainer Keltie Lee Byrne was killed by three Sea Land orcas after she fell into the water with them.
Marine parks have shown no more interest in conserving marine mammals' natural habitats than they have in educating audiences. In fact, the industry has actively lobbied to keep small cetaceans, such as orcas and dolphins, outside the jurisdiction of the International Whaling Commission (even though this would help protect these animals in the wild) because they don't want to risk not being able to capture additional animals in the future.
TURNING THE TIDE
Increasingly, people around the world are recognizing that dolphins, orcas, and other cetaceans do not belong in captivity. Canada no longer allows beluga whales to be captured and exported. In Brazil, it is illegal to use marine mammals for entertainment. In England, consumer boycotts have forced all the marine parks to close. Israel has prohibited the importation of dolphins for use in marine parks, South Carolina has banned all exhibits of whales and dolphins, and other states are currently working on legislation to prohibit the capture or restrict the display of marine mammals.
Richard Donner, coproducer of the film "Free Willy," has joined a growing number of people in calling for an end to the marine mammal trade. Says Donner, "Removal of these majestic mammals from the wild for commercial purposes is obscene....These horrendous captures absolutely must become a thing of the past."
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Boycott all forms of animal entertainment.
Contact your local, state and federal officials and encourage them to ban marine mammal parks.
Animal acts and exhibits run a deplorable gamut. They include diving horses at theme parks, dancing chimpanzees, caged bears at an ice cream stand, piano-playing chickens, caged parrots in hotel lobbies, cats forced through flaming hoops, and giant turtles forced to give children rides.
Animals used in these spectacles are often subjected to abuse in order to provide "entertainment" to patrons. Even under the best of circumstances, captivity can be hell for animals meant to roam free. Kept in small, barren cages, forced to sleep on concrete slabs, and imprisoned behind iron bars, performing animals often suffer from malnutrition, loneliness, the denial of all normal pleasures and behaviors, loss of freedom and independence, even lack of veterinary care, and filthy quarters. Attracting customers is the first consideration and the animals' welfare is often the last. Even when the mere display of the animals themselves is the "draw," the animals rarely receive proper care--and almost never the socialization and stimulation they crave.
Animals used for entertainment are subjected to rigorous and abusive training methods to force them to perform stressful, confusing, uncomfortable, and even painful acts; training methods can include beatings, the use of electric prods, food deprivation, drugging and surgically removing or impairing teeth and claws.
Confined to tiny cages and gawked at by crowds, animals in exhibits and acts endure constant stress. They may suffer from temperature extremes and irregular feeding and watering. Without exercise, they become listless, their immune systems are weakened, and they become prone to sickness; many resort to self-mutilation in reaction to stress or boredom. Mental illness is rampant among confined animals. Torn from their families and deprived of all dignity, every part of their lives is controlled by their captors.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Refrain from patronizing animal entertainment businesses. Educate others on the issue and encourage them to boycott the industry. Urge your local government to ban animal entertainment in your community.
Performing captive wildlife -- elephants, lions, tigers, bears, baboons, monkeys, camels, llamas -- all endure years of physical and psychological pain and suffering in traveling acts to "entertain" an uninformed audience.
Animals used in the circus and other traveling acts travel thousands of miles each year without water, in railroad cars or trucks not air conditioned in summer or heated in winter. Elephants are forced to stand in their own waste, chained in place for up to 100 hours while being transported from one performance to another. These performing animals do not receive the proper care, nutrition and environmental enrichment required for their well-being.
Elephants suffer terribly while being used for human "entertainment." Elephants have three basic needs -- live vegetation for food, family relationships, and freedom of movement -- all of which are denied in the circus setting. In captivity, baby elephants are wrenched from their mother at one year of age and are trained with abusive domineering methods. Perhaps as the result of the ongoing stress and abuse they endure, there have been dozens of premature deaths of elephants used in the circus.
Compare the existence of captive elephants to those left in the wild. Elephants in the wild live as long as 70 years. Wild elephants live in herds and have a large extended family with strong social bonds. Baby elephants stay very close to their mothers for the first three years of their lives, and the females remain with their extended families throughout their lifetime. They roam up to 25 miles a day foraging for food and water. They take dust baths and find comfort during hot weather by wading in water and standing in the shade.
Large exotic cats used in the circus don't fare any better. In the wild, large cats roam for miles each day; they hunt for food, sleep in the sun and lead a fairly solitary existence. Exotic cats used in the circus are allowed none of these behaviors. They live and travel in small cages in close confinement with other cats. They have little room to move around and are never provided with any environmental enrichment.
Elephant training is almost always based on fear and intimidation; trainers must break the spirit of these magnificent animals in order to control them. It is not uncommon for an elephant to be tied down and beaten for days at a time while being trained to "perform." During their training and throughout their lives in captivity elephants are beaten with clubs, shocked with electric prods, stabbed with sharp (ankus) hooks and whipped.
Cats used in the circus are also trained by inherently cruel and dominating methods to force them to perform tricks that are unnatural and undignified. Exotic cats are often whipped, choked and beaten during their training sessions. To force a cat, such as a tiger, to stand on her hind legs, her front paws are often burned with cigarette lighters. To make the cats used in the circus run "enthusiastically" into the circus arena, they are often prodded with pipes or frightened by loud noises to make them appear excited to perform.
It is no wonder that out of frustration and rage elephants used in circuses have been responsible for over 40 human deaths worldwide since 1990. Denied their natural behaviors, and stressed by being kept in close quarters and being forced to constantly perform inane tricks, captive cats also strike back against those responsible for their confinement. There have been more than 75 documented human attacks by felines since 1990.
No traveling animal act, regardless of size or appearance, is capable of handling exotic wildlife in a humane manner. Federal USDA inspection records of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show more than 100 instances of substandard animal keeping between 1992 and 1997 alone. Although such a record of non-compliant items is not rare, citations are seldom issued. Each year only approximately a dozen of the 2,000+ licensed animal exhibitors in the U.S. are cited, and just one or two may have their license suspended or revoked by the USDA. Fines are frequently suspended.
Despite poor enforcement of animal welfare laws to protect animals in circuses, hope is on the horizon. A movement is underway to restrict or ban traveling animal acts at the local and state level. Traveling acts using animals have been banned in a number of cities in Australia and Canada. Several towns in the U.S. have prohibited animal acts and a few large cities are considering bans. Bills restricting circuses have been introduced in several state legislatures in recent years, and legislation was introduced in Congress to prohibit the use of elephants in circuses and for rides.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Do not patronize any form of entertainment that uses animals. Tell your friends and family to boycott all animal circuses and other animal acts. Instead, support one of the growing number of circuses that do not use animals. Do not allow elephant rides or other animal acts to be used for fundraising purposes in your community. Contact the event sponsors and urge them to promote humane, animal-free circuses instead. Support legislation to protect captive exotic animals.
If you witness animal cruelty at an event, document it in writing and/or with photographs or videotape and report it to your local humane society and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): USDA Animal Care, 4700 River Road, Unit 84, Riverdale, MD 20737-1234, Phone: 301-734-4981 Fax 301-734-4978.
There are many ways you can help to conserve important animals across the globe. Here are a few examples of things you can do to help support international conservation efforts:
Volunteer! Many conservation organizations depend on volunteers in your country and abroad. Do a web search to find an organization near you.
If you can't volunteer, donate. Wildlife conservation organizations require funding to carry out their critical missions of saving animals.
Wild animals do not make good “pets”, and it is illegal to buy endangered species. Wild animal belong in the wild. Rescue a companion animal from a shelter.
Learn more about threatened and endangered species and tell your friends! Lesser known species do not receive as much support as other more well-known species.
Read your labels! Palm oil plantations and animal agribusinesses are contributing to massive habitat loss around the world. Valuable forests and other ecosystems are being cleared at alarming rates. If palm oil is in your product, read the label to check if it was sustainably grown.
Be a conscious shopper when abroad. When you travel, it is important to think about what you are buying. When purchasing souvenirs or gifts for family and friends, think about where that item might have come from. Does it contain wildlife products? One of the main ways to limit the wildlife trade is to stop the demand for wildlife products. If you don’t know, don’t buy!
Be an eco-tourist and travel green. Eco-tourists are able to experience species in their natural habitat while supporting local livelihoods and conservation efforts. Sustainable and humane travel practices allow visitors to experience nature while limiting human impacts on wildlife.
Don't patronize zoos, circuses, aquariums and other forms of animal entertainment. Imprisoning wild animals for profit and human entertainment is cruel and unethical.
Buy local products and support the local economy. Support local communities’ livelihoods by purchasing unique, handcrafted goods that do not contain animal products.
If you see suspicious products, speak up. If abroad and you think you see wildlife or products derived from wildlife traded or sold illegally, let the local police or your hotel management know. If possible, warn fellow travelers in the same area.
Don't buy wildlife products, whether they are legal or illegal.
Reduce or eliminate all animal product purchases. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, habitat loss and greenhouse gases – which are the leading causes of species extinction. Make the connection.
Glue traps are often used to catch mice, rats, sparrows and other small birds, and is thought by some to be a more humane method of catching small animals that are seen as pests. Glue traps, however, are an extremely cruel method of catching animals. If people understood the degree of cruelty associated with the use of glue traps, they would want no part of them.
A 1983 test that evaluated the effectiveness of glue traps found that trapped mice struggling to free themselves would pull out their own hair, exposing bare, raw areas of skin. The mice broke or even bit off their own legs, and the glue caused their eyes to become badly irritated and scarred. After three to five hours in the glue traps, the mice defecated and urinated heavily because of their severe stress and fear, and quickly became covered with their own excrement. Animals whose faces become stuck in the glue slowly suffocate, and all trapped animals are subject to starvation and dehydration. It takes anywhere from three to five days for the mouse to finally die. This is nothing less than torture.
If traps are needed to remove mice or rats, humane box-type traps are available from humane societies and hardware stores. These traps are a box-like plastic or cage-like metal with a spring-release trap door at one end that closes behind the animal once he or she enters the trap. The trap can then be taken outdoors where the animal can be released. Live, humane rodent traps are widely available, and have the added benefit of being reusable, while glue traps are not. The labor involved in using these is comparable to glue traps, as someone will always have to pick up the trap and discard it, or in the case of a humane trap, release the mouse outdoors.
You can then take measures to prevent mice from re-entering the building, as they surely will over time. Patch all holes larger than 1/4" in diameter, seal cracks in the walls and floor, and close gaps around plumbing, doors, windows. This should help to prevent the need to deal with the problem of removing mice again. If you need to do so in the future, you will have the humane traps at your disposal.
It is important to remember that though small and removed from our day-to-day world, mice and other small animals are mammals, with nervous systems and perceptions of pain that are similar to humans. There is no evidence that mice suffer any less than we do.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Use only humane traps. Seal all holes in your home to prevent infestation. Educate others on the issue and ask local retailers to carry humane traps and not glue traps.
There are eight types of bear in the world: polar bears, brown (or grizzly) bears, American black bears, Asiatic black bears, sun bears, sloth bears, spectacled bears and giant panda bears. Some are on the verge of extinction, but all face threats.
LOSS OF HABITAT
Probably the biggest threat to bears worldwide is the loss of their habitat and, with it, the loss of their food source. Giant Pandas rely on bamboo forests for their food, but many of these have been cut down by Chinese farmers. It is believed that there are now only about 1,600 pandas left in the wild. Asian black bears are also listed as endangered due to the loss of their habitat.
Other threats include:
In China, bears are imprisoned in farms and 'milked' for their bile daily. The bile is used in Eastern medicine. Bears are taken from the wild for this trade, jeopardizing the survival of bears in the wild. There are hundreds of bear farms housing thousands of bears, mostly Asiatic black bears. These are listed in Appendix 1 of CITES.
BEAR PARKS & ZOOS
Japan is home to eight bear parks, in which bears are confined to concrete pits. Here, they are denied their most basic requirements and are often confined to small spaces without access to shade or shelter. The public tease and torment the bears by throwing in 'bear biscuits' and watching the fights that ensue. Injuries sustained are often not treated. Repetitive behavior is not unusual among bears kept in zoos, and is indicative of stress and psychological trauma. Some of the animals may be obtained illegally. Sun bears were found in a zoo in Indonesia with forged documentation claiming that they had died. Sun bears are endangered.
Over 1,000 bears in India 'dance' on their hind legs for up to 12 hours a day to entertain tourists. The cubs are captured in the wild and traded, even though this has been illegal since 1972. Once sold, the young cub will have his or her muzzle pierced so the handler can control the bear. This is an invasive procedure and infection is common. Due to the stress of capture, the terrible transportation conditions, starvation, dehydration and rough handling, 60-70 percent of bear cubs captured die even before the training begins. Training involves starvation and beatings in order to make the bears rise up onto their back legs. The bears' teeth may be wrenched out and sold as charms to tourists. During their brief lifetime - rarely beyond eight years, in contrast to their natural 30-year life span in the wild - respiratory infection is common, caused by the constant walking along dusty streets.
Although illegal in every country, bear baiting remains a popular past-time in Pakistan, where politicians and senior police officers can still be found watching the show. A series of dogs are set upon a chained bear who must fight for his or her life. The dogs and the bear sustain horrendous injuries.
Black and brown bears are routinely hunted in North America. In all but the most isolated habitat areas, brown bears have been eliminated from much of their former range. In North America, numbers have declined rapidly.
FOOD & MEDICINE
Sun bears are eaten in some countries and their claws are collected as 'good luck' charms. Asiatic black bears are also hunted for their meat and their paws are eaten as a delicacy. Their bile and bones are also used, as they are believed to possess medicinal properties. Hunting spectacled bears is illegal, but they are still routinely poached and their bones, gallbladders and fat used for medicines. The gall bladders of sloth bears are also prized for medical treatments. Because of the cruelty involved and the scarcity of sloth bears, India has banned the hunting of the sloth bear and the sale of products made from their gallbladders.
THE PET TRADE
Like many wild animals, some bears are traded and collected as exotic pets, although they are unsuitable companion animals.
Bears are still used in circuses around the world. Polar bears and brown bears are made to perform tricks like 'dancing', roller-skating or riding bikes. While bears aren't seen in circus performances in Britain, campaigners say that British circuses still own bears and hire them out to do television commercials and other TV appearances.
Habitat loss and the extinction of species are devastating consequences of irresponsible human actions. The problem’s complexity and reach often leads people to feel unable to make a difference. However, every single action we take is crucial in bringing about change. Although individually our contribution may seem small, the sum of our efforts can really make a huge difference.
Protect Wildlife Habitat
The most pressing issue that threatens species is their progressive loss of habitat. Animal agriculture, deforestation, and development impact the environment in profound ways: erosion, soil compaction, desertification and changes in climate. When the land is manipulated in such a manner, wildlife habitat alteration or even elimination takes place. This is more pronounced when rare species are involved; these alterations may result in the rapid extinction of the species. Habitat protection ensures that whole animal communities are safe, which in turn leads to fewer interventions needed towards the conservation of endangered species. Reserves, parks, and similar protected areas are often the only safe havens that remain unaffected by habitat loss.
Consume Less, Recycle More
A great way to minimize our effect on the environment is to recycle and reuse as much as possible. Consuming less is an immensely effective means of protecting the planet. What’s more, by reducing our energy consumption we help conserve our natural resources, and we save money in the process!
Become Member Of A Conservation Organization
Numerous conservation organizations exist with a mission to protect endangered species and habitats. Each organization has a different mission – for some it’s to safeguard a certain habitat or species, for others to push for the legislation of good environmental practices. If you are particularly interested in a topic, chances are that you will find an organization that shares your interest. Becoming a member will let you back organized, constant efforts towards protecting wildlife and habitats. Moreover, there are often special programs available that offer the chance to do conservation field work, as many organizations depend on volunteer work.
Use Fewer Herbicides And Pesticides
Herbicides and pesticides are effective in beautifying your backyard, but they wreak havoc on wildlife on several levels. Some of these compounds degrade at an extremely slow rate, which means their levels build up in the soil and, consequently, pass into the food chain. Certain animal groups, like the amphibians, are especially prone to the toxic effects of these chemicals, suffering a greater impact.
Prevent Invasive Species From Spreading
Native wildlife populations all over the world have been severely affected by the invasion of non-native species, since the latter increase competition for food and habitat. Native species may even become their direct prey, risking extinction. You can minimize the impact of invasive species by populating your garden with native plants.
Don’t Drive Too Fast
For many native species, life takes place in densely populated areas, meaning they have to find their way through a labyrinth of human-made dangers. Roads, in particular, pose one of the greatest risks for wild animals that live in developed areas, because they split their habitat and pose a constant threat to animals that try to cross to the other side. So, if you are driving in such areas, reduce your speed and pay attention for such animals.
Install Decals On Windows To Prevent Bird Collisions
Collisions with windows is a serious risk for birds. Almost one billion birds lose their lives every year by colliding with windows. A simple way of decreasing that number is by installing decals on the windows of your office and home. Other things you can do to help is to relocate bird feeders to a more convenient spot, draw curtains and shades when it’s bright outside, install screens on the external side of your windows, or use tinted window glass.
Express Your Concerns And Become Actively Involved
By actively expressing your concerns regarding endangered species to local and national authorities, you raise the chances of someone actually doing something to remedy the situation.
Share Your Excitement For Nature And Wildlife
Motivate other people to read up on wildlife issues, respect wildlife, and be serious about the protection of species and habitats.
Last but not least, the single most effective way of helping wildlife is to adopt a vegan diet. Animal farming is the number one cause of water consumption, pollution, and deforestation. Livestock has a higher greenhouse effect on the atmosphere than fossil fuel consumption. The farming industry is the greatest cause of rainforest demise, soil erosion, habitat loss, species extinction and dead zones in the oceans.
Sea turtles, air-breathing reptiles with streamlined bodies and large flippers, are well adapted to life in the marine environment. They inhabit tropical and subtropical ocean waters throughout the world.
Of the 7 species of sea turtles, 6 are found in U.S. waters: green, hawksbill, Kemp's ridley, leatherback, loggerhead and olive ridley. The 7th species, the flatback sea turtle, is found only in Australia.
Although sea turtles live most of their lives in the ocean, adult females must return to beaches on land to lay their eggs. They often migrate long distances between foraging grounds and nesting beaches.
All marine turtles occurring in U.S. waters are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and are under the joint jurisdiction of NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Green turtles and olive ridley turtles have breeding populations that were listed separately under the ESA, and therefore, have more than one ESA status.
In 1977, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly administer the Endangered Species Act with respect to marine turtles. NOAA Fisheries has the lead responsibility for the conservation and recovery of sea turtles in the marine environment and USFWS has the lead for the conservation and recovery of sea turtles on nesting beaches.
Major threats to sea turtles in the U.S. include, but are not limited to: destruction and alteration of nesting and foraging habitats; incidental capture in commercial and recreational fisheries; entanglement in marine debris; and vessel strikes. To reduce the incidental capture of sea turtles in commercial fisheries, NOAA Fisheries has enacted regulations to restrict certain U.S. commercial fishing gears (gillnets, longlines, pound nets, and trawls) that have known, significant bycatch of sea turtles. To effectively address all threats to marine turtles, NOAA Fisheries and the USFWS have developed recovery plans to direct research and management efforts for each sea turtle species.
The tourist trade is the main reason why turtle numbers are in decline. Tourism poses the greatest threat to turtles for a number of reasons. Turtles migrate huge distances but during certain times of the year they congregate in shallow waters to breed. Females go ashore to lay clutches of up to 150 eggs. Two months later, tiny hatchlings emerge from the sand and make their way to the sea. But many of the tropical and sub-tropical beaches that turtles have used for millions of years are now inhabited by tourists.
Many females will not lay their eggs if there is too much noise or lighting from local resorts. Also, nests can be damaged by sunbathers and newly hatched turtles can become disoriented by beachfront developments and may never reach the sea. In the Mediterranean, the nesting period of the loggerhead and green turtle coincide almost exactly with the peak tourist season (May to August).
Speedboats can be deadly, especially during the mating season when turtles spend long periods of time close to the surface. Turtles are still killed for their shells, which are made into souvenirs such as combs and ashtrays.
The conservation and recovery of sea turtles requires multi-lateral cooperation and agreements to ensure the survival of these highly migratory animals. NOAA Fisheries has a broad national and international program for the conservation and recovery of marine turtles. The Office of Protected Resources works closely with 2 international environmental agreements that deal exclusively with sea turtle conservation.
Environmentalism is an integration of the ideology and philosophy of protecting the health of the environment and the social movement resulting from it. Issues such as conservation, preservation, ecosystem restoration, and improvement of the natural environment are foremost on the agenda of environmentalists. Concerns and threats involving the Earth's biodiversity and ecology feature at the top of the list.
To be an environmentalist, follow the simple steps given below.
1. Choose Your Cause
Discover what you are passionate about and do some research. There are a variety of environmental issues that will pique your interest. Protection of endangered species, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, avoiding wastage of natural resources, restoration of age-old landscapes, protecting forests, and encouraging recycling are some of the causes environmentalists support. Learning about environmental issues in your own locality, and taking a part in solving them, is a good way to get involved.
2. Use Your Talents
Take measure of your talents. Are you an extrovert and like to communicate verbally with people? Are you introverted and more inclined towards writing than to speaking? Do you like to communicate and spread your thoughts in words through correspondences? Are you someone who likes being out in nature? Can you play an instrument, sing, bake, paint or juggle? Your unique talents can contribute to bringing attention to, and raising funds for, environmental efforts. Consider getting involved in events, fundraisers and campaigns for conservation issues.
3. Educate Yourself, Then Educate Others
Get yourself acquainted with how the Earth works and how human activities are affecting it. To make sense out of the multitude of environmental issues and the science behind it, read magazines, books and articles, watch documentaries, and browse websites relating to nature. Share what you learn with family, friends, coworkers and associates. Use social media to spread the word on environmental issues.
4. Get Connected
Get in touch with other like-minded people or experts in the field. Getting connected with people, especially experts on the environment, is an important step on the way to becoming an environmentalist. Conduct searches on the web for people and organizations who share your thoughts and concerns. Join organizations, groups, websites and social media channels that promote your cause – or create your own. Learn from the experts and help make a bigger impact by joining forces with other people, groups and nonprofits who share your passion for environmentalism.
5. Clean Up Litter
Pick up litter wherever you go and whenever you can. Litter not only dirties roads, parks and public spaces, it also pollutes the environment. It harms wildlife that comes into contact with it. You can pickup litter on your own in your spare time, or join or organize groups to clean up large areas.
6. Go Outside
Visit places like wildlife sanctuaries, nature preserves, and parks. Support their efforts. Volunteer. Enjoy the natural beauty of these places, observe animals and their behavior, and encourage others to do the same. Communicate to people in your social circles why these protected places are important.
7. Go Native
Grow native plants in your backyard. Invasive species wreak havoc on ecosystems. Native plants are better adapted to the area where you live and need minimum caring. They are less vulnerable to pests and will benefit birds, insects and other wildlife endemic to your locality.
8. Plant Trees
The more trees you plant the more you help the environment. Trees absorb harmful CO2, prevent their emission and alleviate global warming. They provide food and shelter for wild animals. Plant trees on your property, and help plant trees in your community.
9. Go Organic
Consuming organic food and using organic gardening methods contributes towards a safer, healthier environment. Minimizing the use of pesticides and fertilizers stimulates beneficial soil organisms and results in less polluted waste-water flowing out of your garden. Moreover, it creates a much healthier environment for wildlife, your children and your companion animals.
10. Go Green
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink. Reduce the amount of materials you use, which reduces the amount of waste you create. Reuse materials when possible. Recycle whenever possible. Rethink the materials you use and those you throw away. By thinking about what we're using and how to reduce the wast we produce, we can help create a cleaner, healthier environment.
11. Go Without
Cut back your consumption. Water, food and air are consumed to support life. But we also consume much more than essentials, and far more than we should. There seems to be no end to the list of items and services we can’t live without. We must rethink what consumption is, and do our best to reduce it. The planet is being destroyed by the way societies function right now. It’s not just about recycling anymore; it’s about how to stop feeding the cycle altogether.
12. Eat More Veggies
Animal agriculture emits more greenhouse gases than aircrafts, automobiles and trains combined. Forests are being cleared at alarming rates to feed grains to livestock that could feed the entire human race. Less trees means less impediments to CO2 being released into the air and thus more pollution. Animal waste is producing massive amounts of toxic levels of methane and ammonia, which leads to climate change as well as acid rain. Animal agriculture is also destroying our waterways and using up our valuable water supplies. Hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals run off into rivers, lakes, streams and our drinkable water. These practices cause dead zones in the oceans, rivers and lakes. Animal farming is the leading cause of the catastrophic reduction of critical wildlife habitat, and the problem is escalating at a disturbing pace. Meat production is slated to double in another four decades. Remove or reduce meat, dairy and eggs from your diet.
Centuries ago, the African elephant enjoyed ample representation among the teeming herds of wildlife that roamed the African continent. Today, their survival dangles on the precipice of extinction due to unchecked human population growth and overdevelopment. Once numbering in the millions, the continent-wide population in Africa is now estimated to be just under 600,000 elephants.
Elephants exist in one of the most complex societal units of any land mammal. A typical elephant herd consists of a matriarch, who is the leader and usually the oldest female in the group, her siblings and their offspring. The matriarch is the source of all information for the herd.
Throughout her years, she has learned where the best watering holes are, and which areas to avoid because of human presence. If the matriarch is killed by a hunter or poacher, her family suffers immensely and lacks the leader on whom they depend.
Baby elephants are born after an average of 22 months of gestation. They will normally stand within their first hour of life, and they nurse immediately from their mothers. The vital nutrients which can only be found in her milk help the development of the calf's immune system. Mothers and calves are rarely separated, and spend most of their time touching or in close physical contact. The other females in the herd often help raise the young elephant and can often be seen closing in around him to form an "elephant shield" if danger is present. The cousins, aunts, and sisters become the calf's guardians and form a family unit with impenetrable loyalty and devotion. Elephants have only one predator: humans.
Classified as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and endangered under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Animals, the most significant reason for their decline can be traced back to the 1800s when the precursor to the modern ivory trade began to take root. Nearly 200 years and millions of carcasses later, the future of the African elephant is in serious question.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) is an international treaty that governs trade in wildlife. The signatory nations agree to abide by its regulations in order to conserve plants and animals found in their respective countries. As the global demand for ivory increased in the latter part of the twentieth century, the wild herds of African elephants were being decimated at an amazing rate. The rampant poaching of the late 1970s and mid-1980s reduced the population in Africa by half.
In 1989, the parties to CITES voted to ban the once-legal trade in ivory, realizing that unless it was brought to a halt, the African elephant would disappear. After the ban was in place, the price of ivory dropped so rapidly that demand fell and poaching decreased considerably.
Unfortunately, the thin cloak of protection afforded to the elephants would soon wear out completely. In 1997, under threats and pressure from Japan, which wanted to reignite ivory sales, the parties to CITES voted to allow Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia to sell their ivory stockpiles (warehoused ivory taken from elephants who were hunted or died naturally) to Japan. An additional provision allowed the export of live elephants from these countries. New life was breathed into the illegal poaching cartel, and bodies of elephants with their faces hacked away once again appeared on the African savannah. Shortly after the 1997 CITES meeting, Ghana, which had not lost any elephants to poachers since 1988, experienced elephant poaching in Mole National Park. Poaching also increased in the national parks of Zimbabwe and Namibia, two of the proponents of renewed ivory trade.
The first African elephant to be taken from the wild to be used for human entertainment was named Jumbo. He made the journey from Africa to the London Zoo in 1865, and was later sold to P.T. Barnum, the infamous circus magnate. More than a hundred years later, elephants are still being used and abused in circuses all over the world.
Elephants in captivity lead miserable lives. In stark contrast to their natural tendency to roam several miles each day, they are bound in shackles and chains and forced to perform tasks that are the antithesis of their innate instincts.
For a short time, it was illegal to capture a wild elephant for use in a circus or zoo, but the CITES decision in 1997 changed all of that. In August 1998, 30 baby elephants were captured in southern Botswana and sold by the Botswanan government to Riccardo Ghiazza, a South African animal dealer. Although Ghiazza was accused of abusing the elephants and was charged with animal cruelty by the National SPCA, he exported three of the elephant calves to the Basel Zoo in Switzerland, and four calves to the Dresden Zoo in Germany. This sale was the first of its kind in recent history and illustrated the trend that would grow from the destructive weakening of protection for African elephants.
Elephant hunting is alive and well in several African countries. The most notable program exists in Zimbabwe. The CAMPFIRE program (Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources) is designed to give local villagers "benefits" from living with wildlife. These benefits come at the cost of animals' lives. An estimated 90 percent of CAMPFIRE revenues are gleaned from elephant trophy hunting fees, which are paid by wealthy westerners who want to bag the most notorious of the "Big Five" animals.
CAMPFIRE is funded largely by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which receives tax dollars from U.S. citizens through congressional appropriations. A portion of USAID's support is funneled through the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to administer this trophy hunting program. CAMPFIRE has come under continuous fire for corruption and misappropriation of funds. Other countries which encourage and promote trophy hunting of any animal, endangered or otherwise, include Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, and Tanzania. Kenya and Uganda prohibit hunting of any kind within their borders.
HURTING NOT HELPING
Some conservation organizations who claim to be saving the African elephant, are actually lining up to participate in their demise. WWF, for example, directly benefits from the existence of CAMPFIRE and receives federal dollars for their involvement. The African Wildlife Foundation believes that "CAMPFIRE is essential to meeting our conservation goals," and the National Wildlife Federation believes that "CAMPFIRE is consistent with NWF's common-sense approach to human development and wildlife conservation." With the weight of lofty annual budgets and international recognition, these organizations continue to damage efforts to save what is left of the magnificent African elephants.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
If you are going to visit Africa, do not patronize countries such as Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia, which have demonstrated their tenacity for exterminating elephants on their soil. Instead, choose to spend your tourist dollars in elephant-friendly countries such as Kenya and Uganda.
Write to your U.S. Representative and your two U.S. Senators and tell them that you do not want your tax dollars spent on the trophy hunting of elephants. Ask them to stop funding the CAMPFIRE program. Write to The Honorable __________, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510; The Honorable __________, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515.
Write to the conservation organizations that you want to support and ask them about their policies regarding elephants. Do they support trophy hunting? Do they support the ivory trade? What is their position on exporting live elephants to zoos and circuses? Spend your well-intentioned donation wisely.
While some claim the manatee is ugly, with ‘a face only a mother could love,’ most people seem drawn to this fascinating marine creature. Whether it’s their sad, puppy-like demeanor, or their sluggish, gentle manner, something about manatees is awfully endearing.
The manatee, or sea cow, is an aquatic mammal. With a round cylindrical body, they can measure from 8 to 13 feet from tail to head. Weights can vary from 450 lbs for the smallest species to 1,300 lbs for the larger ones. Some can even grow up to 3,000 lbs.
Primarily herbivorous, manatees spend up to eight hours each day quietly grazing on seagrasses and other aquatic plants, though they will occasionally feed on fish.
Manatees surface for air about once every five minutes, but can remain submerged for up to twenty minutes when they are resting. Their lungs are positioned along the backbone, which helps with buoyancy control. They swim by waving their wide paddle tails up and down, and because they do not possess the neck vertebra that most other mammals have, they must turn their entire bodies to look around.
Manatees can hear quite well, at least at high frequencies. This is likely an adaptation to shallow water living, where low frequency sounds aren’t transmitted well because of physical barriers. Their inability to hear the low frequency churning of an approaching boat might explain why manatees are susceptible to injury by boat propellers, a top reason for the decline in their populations.
West Indian Manatee
West Indian manatees are the largest of the three main manatee species. They are gray in color, have a whale-like body, and a tail that is shaped like a paddle. This species of manatee is mostly found in the waters of the Caribbean Sea and south-eastern fringes of the US, especially the coastal areas of Florida and Georgia where they prefer to wade in warm shallow waters. They also occur in Texas, Mexico, Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the Caribbean. This species takes in a daily diet of sea weeds and plants, up to 10-15 percent of their body weight.
West Indian manatees were listed as endangered in 1967 concurrent with the creation of the Endangered Species Conservation Act, an act that pre-dated the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973. Accidental collisions with boats are the primary cause of death for these shallow water-inhabiting animals, followed by low reproductive rates and a decline in suitable habitat. Another important threat is loss of reliable warm water habitats that allow manatees to survive the cold in winter. Natural springs are threatened by increased demands for water supply. Deregulation of the power industry may also result in less reliable man-made sources of warm water. Seagrass and other aquatic foods that manatees depend on are affected by water pollution, and sometimes direct destruction.
The Amazonian manatee can reach up to 9 feet in length and weigh up to 500 lbs. It is the smallest of the tree species. This species of manatee is basically a fresh water creature found in the upper reaches of the Amazon river and its tributaries that span the countries of Brazil, Guyana, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Water lettuce and hyacinth are their main diet, requiring 8 percent of their body weight daily. They have a flat and elongated rear and a hippo-like snout, both characteristics that make the Amazonian manatee an unusual looking animal.
Although hunting of the Amazon manatee was banned in 1974, there seems to be no end to the poaching of the animal. It's still being hunted down for its meat and oil. Massive deforestation of the Amazon basin, and mining for gold, has led to the habitat of the manatee considerably shrinking over the decades. Once found all over the huge Amazon basin area, it is a rare sight nowadays – leading conservationists to believe that it could become extinct.
West African Manatee
Of all the three species of manatee, the West African is the one few people have heard of. They dwell all along the coastline of West Africa, especially in the shallow and warm waters of estuaries and lagoons flowing into the Atlantic. The country-wise distribution of their habitat is Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Sierra Leone. The preferred daily diet of this species is the leaves of the low overhanging trees of the extensive mangrove forests abounding the mouth-waters of the massive Niger river and Congo river deltas.
For the West African manatee, the threats are similar to its Amazonian cousin in the sense that its meat fetches a considerable price in the markets. In many places it is openly displayed for sale. It is also poached for sale to zoos and aquariums of private collectors. Rapid agricultural and urban expansion, massive and unhindered exploration for oil in Nigerian delta waters, and extreme congestion of vessels and boats in shallow waters are serious threats to the habitat of the African manatee. Fishing equipment, such as large nets, are also a threat. Manatees trapped inside them are killed by the fishermen before they can cause considerable damage to the nets. Natural occurrences, like shifting tides and eddies, are also threats as manatees are shallow-water creatures. Like the Amazonian manatee, their numbers are dwindling.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) enforces controls on the export of the West African manatee. Hunting of the animal is now banned in almost all the countries of its habitat. In countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal, conservation programs have seen areas being demarcated as protected zones for the manatees. Conservation organizations are also making an effort to educate the populace in these regions about the manatee.
Fight For Survival
Manatee conservation and recovery involves many partners from government and industry, as well as many citizens. Great strides have been made in the protection and recovery of the manatee. Numerous manatee speed zones have been established. Many sick and injured manatees are rescued every year. These animals are often rehabilitated and returned to the wild. Recommendations and actions to prevent manatee deaths related to water-control structures and navigation locks have included modification of gate openings and installation of pressure sensitive and acoustic devices on some of the most deadly locks. All efforts to reduce water pollution help to maintain and restore aquatic vegetation. Extensive manatee conservation education work has been conducted by federal, state and private entities.
The West Indian manatees are now doing comparatively better than their Amazonian and African counterparts. However, there is much left to be done to secure their future. This will require the cooperation and support of everyone: government, orgainzations, the private sector and boaters.
Rotors of fast-moving water crafts once took many lives each year. Thanks to awareness and dissemination of information concerning the safety of the sea mammals, such mishaps have been reduced considerably. But areas where watercraft-related injury and mortality continue to occur have almost no protective measures for manatees.
Warm water wintering sites need to be secured. Important spring flows must be maintained. We must ensure that aquatic vegetation is adequate to support a recovered population.
Red tide, a natural occurrence in the Gulf of Mexico, is another threat to the manatee. Exposure to toxic algal bloom created by the red tide can be lethal to manatees. Scientists are investigating links between the run-off of wastes into the sea and the red tide phenomena.
The great news for these likeable creatures and their enthusiasts is that their count has increased five-fold within a decade and half. In 1991, a count of the West Indian manatees around Florida found just 1,267 inhabiting the area. The number has increased to an astonishing 6,250. The West Indian species is finally out of the list of endangered animals.
Although the struggle will be uphill, one can only hope that similar efforts are made to wean away the Amazonian and West African manatee from the path of extinction and put them in one that leads to multiplication of their numbers.