Archive for the ‘Tourism’ Category

Packs of Gatineau Park: Not quite wolves, not quite coyotes   Leave a comment

October 22, 2015

Eastern coyote was captured and collared by the National Capital Commission.

Eastern coyote was captured and collared by the National Capital Commission. NATIONAL CAPITAL COMMISSION / OTTAWA CITIZEN

The big predators in Gatineau Park have no name. But there are six small packs of them, watching you even when you can’t see them, and traversing great distances in West Quebec.

But the new census of these packs — the first ever — leaves a tricky question: What do we call them?

Wolves? Coyotes? “Coywolf” hybrids? All of the above, probably, as National Capital Commission experts who surveyed the park found a “canid soup” that mixes the genes of wolves and coyotes. (Canids are wolves, dogs and their relatives.)

This is the first real census of wolves and coyotes in the park, conducted with traps, cameras, trackers and DNA analysis.

Image from the study of wolves and coyotes in in Gatineau Park.

Image from the study of wolves and coyotes in Gatineau Park. NATIONAL CAPITAL COMMISSION / OTTAWA CITIZEN

“In general there were potentially six groups in all,” said Christie Spence, the National Capital Commission’s senior manager of natural resources and land management. “Maybe three packs with 15 individuals (in total) of the larger animal, and another three packs of coyotes,” with 10 to 12 individuals in all. Each group ranged from a pair to seven animals.

“That was more than I was expecting,” she said. While the number surprised her, “it doesn’t surprise me as much if you think of them all just using one portion of it, or (living there) just during one time of year.

“This kind of animal has learned to be very wary of people, so I think they see us a lot more than we see them,” she said.

But exactly which species they are remains complex.

Image from the study of wolves and coyotes in in Gatineau Park.

Image from the study of wolves and coyotes in Gatineau Park. NATIONAL CAPITAL COMMISSION / OTTAWA CITIZEN

Most of Canada has grey wolves, alias timber wolves. But there’s a slightly smaller type native around here called the Eastern wolf. It was once common both here and in the Eastern United States, but today lives mostly around Algonquin Park.

And as Eastern wolves fared poorly during the European settlement, they sometimes bred with coyotes, so that the distinction is now blurred.

Image from the study of wolves and coyotes in in Gatineau Park.

Image from the study of wolves and coyotes in Gatineau Park. NATIONAL CAPITAL COMMISSION / OTTAWA CITIZEN

The NCC study found a 72-pound male whose genes were mostly coyote, even though it was far bigger than coyotes are supposed to be. Its mate weighed only 42 pounds, which is more typical for the species. The big male also had some grey wolf genes.

The Gatineau wolves travel long distances.

One collared male, probably a young one, left its pack and followed Highway 148 to farmland near Shawville where it was shot and killed. Another young male with a collar also headed out on its own, travelling west and then north. It’s still active somewhere near Gracefield.

But two others with collars stayed closer to home. They turned out to be a mated pair.

“They had a more tightly defined territory,” Spence said. “They probably spent more than half of their time outside the park, south of the park in the Pontiac region. They went to the (Ottawa) River quite a lot. This was an interesting confirmation of our hypothesis that some of these ecological corridors that connect the park down to the river would be important.”

“They had a den, and that was also outside the park.”

So, do they get protection? Eastern wolves are officially endangered.

“I guess they do when they are in the park,” Spence said. “That’s been part of the thinking in conservation biology for a long time: that protected areas can’t really do the job” unless there’s also protection outside the park or reserve.

In the autumns of 2013 and 2014 the NCC trapped wolves, gathered DNA, measured tracks, and fitted wolves with radio collars.

“People do see them,” Spence said. “At least a couple of times a year people will send us photos of animals that they see. Blurry, from a bit of a distance.”

One park staffer arrived for work at the Visitors’ Centre a month ago “and there was one right on the front lawn.”

Written by Tom Spears, Ottowa Citizen

tspears@ottawacitizen.com

twitter.com/TomSpears1

SOURCE

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He Watched Helplessly As A Wild Wolf Approached His Dog. Then Something Incredible Happened.   22 comments

Despite their incredible beauty and obvious similarities to our domestic companions, just about everyone knows that wolves are not to be messed with in any way.

But in 2003, Alaskan wildlife photographer Nick Jans and his labrador encountered a wolf in their backyard – and began a relationship that would defy logic and transform an entire community.

Jans was on the back porch of his Juneau home with his dog when a wild wolf appeared. With all the excitement, his dog slipped away, racing out to meet the stranger.

wolf-meets-dog-1

Nick Jans

Nick was stunned to see the two start to play together. He managed to capture this photo of them during the encounter.

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Nick Jans

The wolf stayed in the area, and in the years since, Nick has devoted much of his time to documenting him, naming him Romeo.

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Arnie Hanger

Romeo became a Juneau fixture, known for playing with local dogs at nearby Mendenhall Glacier Park.

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Nick Jans

Residents were unsure at first, but they soon realized that Romeo just wanted to play.

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Nick Jans

Romeo didn’t just play with other dogs. He played with humans, too. “The wolf would bring out toys that he’d stashed,” Nick said in an interview. “One was a Styrofoam float. Romeo would pick it up and bring it to [my friend] Harry to throw. He clearly understood the same sort of behaviors that we see in dogs.”

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Nick Jans

“The amazing thing was Romeo’s understanding. It wasn’t just our understanding and tolerance. It was the combination of his and ours and the dogs’. We were these three species working out how to get along harmoniously. And we did.”

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Dave Willson

Romeo remained around the outskirts of Juneau for six years, becoming an ambassador to the wild and a powerful symbol in the community.

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Nick Jans

After Romeo’s passing in 2010, the residents of Juneau held a memorial for the wolf and had this special plaque made in his honor.

romeo-wolf-plaque

Klas Stolpe/Juneau Empire

It’s so inspiring to see three different species learn to live peacefully together in harmony. It just goes to show how wonderful the world can be.

Share this amazing story with your friends, and check out Nick’s account of this unbelievable tale, A Wolf Named Romeo.

SOURCE

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A travel destination and wildlife encounter without comparison – POLAR PARK, Norway   Leave a comment

POLAR PARK Arctic Wildlife Centre Nasjonalt Rovdyrsenter

Polar Park Arctic Wildlife Centre is situated in Bardu municipality, Troms county, Norway, The park opened on June 18th, 1994 and is home to Norway’s large predators such as bears, wolves, lynx, wolverines and foxes, as well as their prey such as deer, elk, reindeer and musk displayed in their natural habitat. With only 12 enclosures on 114 acres (46 ha), the park has the worlds biggest area per animal ratio.

Polar Park and its animals

more about POLAR PARK

A visit in the wilderness.

Polar Park is more than a traditional zoo. We place great emphasis on animal welfare. We give animals large areas to create an as natural as possible habitat for the animals.

Our main goal is to create a Norwegian wilderness experience, with the beautiful surroundings of Northern Norway’s nature as a setting for your visit to Polar Park.

We recommend three great ways to experience the Polar Park:

1 Join us for the feeding round of the predators. Here you are guaranteed to see the lynx, wolves, wolverines and bears up close. Our guides provide information about the animals during feeding. See here the times for the guided predator feeding.

2 Book a private guided tour. On this guided tour you will be with around to all the predators. Included are also exciting activities as feeding the moose and howl along with Salangsdalen wolf pack. Our guides provide information about the animals during feeding.Should you wish a private guiding here are the prices.

3 You can also walk through the park on your own and experience the animals’ behavior outside of the guided tours. We recommend that you bring binoculars since animals can sometimes be far inside the enclosures to relax. A trip in beautiful surroundings is a great way to see a bit of nature in the area for those who like to walk and look around.

Polar Park offers a wide range of activities to their visitors and is open all-year round.

The big four

The big predators are probably the main attractions. The wolf, wolverine, bear and lynx are the “big four” predators in the Norwegian countryside, and they live wild in the area around the park. Of the bears, the twins Salt and Pepper – one of which is an albino – born in 2009 are perhaps the visitors’ favourites. One pack of wolves has become domesticated and is used to people; another has not, and shies away from human contact.

Animals from the north

The Arctic fox, one of the most endangered species in Norway, can also be viewed right up close. The park is also home to elk, reindeer and red deer, as well as the North American musk ox.

Zoo for everyone

In the summer season, visitors of all ages come to the park and children can come along and watch the park keepers feed the sheep, goats, rabbits and Anton, the Shetland pony. Many families spend the whole day here, alternating between visits to the playground, Anton and the predators. In the winter, you will often have the whole park almost to yourself, so put on your crampons and your warmest clothing and explore the winter landscape.

Longing for a wolf’s kiss?

Animal encounters and wolf kisses

Animal lovers may, of course, go a little further – and get to know the wolves, for example. Small groups of people can approach the wolf pack and get to know them. Wolves communicate with their tongues, so get ready for some wet kisses. You can also join a photo safari, howl with the wolves at night or tag along on a feeding round. Some of the special tours are not suitable for everyone. For example, pregnant women, children and disabled people are not allowed to visit the wolves.

A thorough presentation of the park and its animals are presented here:

The Nature Adventure Park – The World´s Northernmost Wildlife Park

Since I am a wolflover it’s this part of the park’s offers that intrigue me mostly. Polar Park has three wolfpacks – Salangsflokken, the “Wild Pack” and the “2010 Pack”. These three packs live in separate enclosures.

Salangsflokken

Salangsflokken consists of three wolves, one male and two females. They are called Steinulv, Luna and Ylva, and were all three born May 10, 2008. These are offspring of the alpha pair in the Wild pack, Nanok and Gaida.

Salangsflokken is the first wolf pack in North Norway that is socialized to humans.

You have the opportunity to meet the wolves personally on the inside of the enclosure at WolfVisit.

The Wild Pack

This pack consists of only two wolves, the Alfa couple Nanok (born 2000 in Polar Park) and Gaida (born 2004 in Riga, Latvia). Although these wolves are born in captivity, they are not socialized and are wary of humans in nature.

The best time to see these two are the feeding rounds or through a special guided tours where they come from forest in their major area of ​​the enclosure to get snacks from our guides.

Usually the 2 alpha wolves remain happily for themselves deeper in the enclosure and can be hard to spot.

If you are patient though and use good time to go around made ​​the hedge, it is still a good chance that you will spot them.

The 2010 Pack

This pack consists of two wolves, one male named Silmo, and a female named Ilya. These are also the offspring of the alpha pair Nanok and Gaida. Like Salangsflokken these two are socialized and comfortable in our company. Silmo and Ilja are in the same enclosure as the Bears Salt and Pepper.

The wolf (Canis lupus) is the largest member of the dog family. It is a social species, that live in pairs or packs claiming territories.

In Norway we find wolves mainly in the southeastern part of the country near the border to Sweden. However, individual animals roam very far and can in principle appear anywhere in the country.

In the rest of the world we find wolves in wilderness areas in Europe, Asia and North America.

The species status is listed as critically endangered on the Norwegian Red List of species 2010.

Biology

An adult female wolf in Scandinavia weighs on average slightly over 30 kg and 50 kg male. The tail is relatively straight and are often down. In winter, the color of the coat is usually gray or greyish yellow, while the summer shifts to more greyish yellow and reddish brown.

Unlike dogs a wolf’s head is strikingly massive and the body seems narrower and more lofty.

Moose on the menue

The wolf is a specialist in hunting down and capturing larger prey, e.g. moose. In Norway moose is more than 95 percent of the diet of wolves and a pack alone can take more than 100 moose per year on average.

Other prey are also on the menu. In areas of red deer can they represent a large part of the diet. Wolves also eat small game, such as beaver, badger, hare and grouse, and small rodents. Also sheep, where available.

Life in packs

The wolf is a social animal, living in separate territories. There is little overlap between territories, indicated by scent of urine, excrements and pawprints.

The Wolves´ territories in Norway are approximately 500 to 2,000 square kilometers, and the packs that live here can consist from three to about ten individuals who are related.

The wolves are sexually mature the second winter of their life, when they approach the age of two. In Norway it is usually only the alpha couple getting puppies. Mating takes place from February to March and pups are born in late April-May, about 63 days later.

Can wander far

Young wolves usually leave the pack when they are one to two years old, most often in the spring, early summer or fall. They can wander very far from the territory where they were born, and can in principle appear anywhere in Norway.

Radiocollaring of a female born in Hedmark showed that she traveled 1,100 kilometers within one year. It is also known that a Finnish female moved 800 kilometers in a month.

WOLF FACTS:

Scientific name: Canis lupus

Spreading: taiga and tundra area in the northern hemisphere north of ca. 20 degrees

Appearance: The Norwegian wolf has yellow-gray, often speckled gray back with black guard hairs over the shoulders and tail tip. The belly is light and long legs light gray.

Length: Body length (without tail) up to 150 cm, tail length approx. 50 cm

Weight: Males on average 50 kg, females averaging 30 kg

Biology: 4-6 puppies, females can get puppies at the least 11 years old

Food: Most importantly, moose, but also deer and other mammals, e.g. badgers, beavers, hares, rodents and birds. Sheep, when available.

Age: Up to 10 years of age. In Polar Park up to 20 years.

Population Status

2014

So far 40-56 wolves are observed in Norway. Of these 24-35 wolves are only living in Norway. The others llive on the Swedish-Norwegian border.

The winter of 2012-2013 recorded about 30 wolves located only in Norway, compared to 28 to 32 wolves in the winter before.

Wolf front paw

Polar Park WolfVisit – WolfSponsor – HowlNight

WolfVisit

WolfVisit was established to ensure better welfare of wolves in captivity, knowledge increase, and to offer you a unique wilderness experience.

Wolves are genetically afraid of humans. Therefore, non-socialized wolves in captivity are afraid of humans, and live under stressful conditions.

The wolves at WolfVisit are socialized, and accustomed to associate with humans at close range. These wolves are just like other wolves, except from one thing: They don’t fear humans, and enjoy our company as a part of their natural environment.

We give you the unique opportunity to meet the wolves in Polar Park inside the enclosure! Our team will be with you all the time and tell you everything you want to know about the wolf. Meet this mystical animal, and discover the actual truth about wolves together with us at WolfVisit!

You must at least 18 years old, dressed for the occasion, be in good physical shape and be able to follow instructions from the animal keeper to enter the wolf enclosure. Polar Park’s main concern is safety, for both visitors and animals.

It is possible to visit the wolves all year round. We recommend the winterseason, when the park is covered by snow. The wolves are most active in the winter, especially in mating time from february to april.

Summerseason: See here times for WolfVisit

You kan make a reservation for WolfVisit all year round. Call us at +47 77 18 66 30 or send an e-mail: stig@polarpark.no

Se here prices for WolfVisit.

Wolftrack Photo: Mogens Totsås, Statens naturoppsyn. Rovdata

Howl Night

ONLY for pre-booked groups of 10 people or more:

Book at least 3 days in advance.

Join us and get a unique and fantastic experience after closing time!

Bring your family, friends, or your company and experience a visit inside the wolf enclosure after closing time!

Howl Night includes:

– A meeting with the wolves inside the enclosure

– Howling together with the wolves

This photo was taken by Peter Rosén in January 2014

You can book Howl Night any time of the year. We especially recommend this event in the wintertime when the moon lights up the snow and the wolves sparkling eyes, we guarantee that this will be an experience you’ll never forget!

Challenge yourself and join Howl Night, together with our WolfVisit team.

You can book HowlNight all year long, under the mystical arctic winterllight or on a beautiful, light midsummernight, though you should do at least 3 days in advance, Call us at +47 77 18 66 30 or send a e-mail: post@polarpark.no

See the price for HowlNight here

Read more about our events here

10 animal rights victories of 2014   3 comments

From:  The Independent

Dec. 10, 2014 by Mimi Bekhechi

Orca whale by Getty Images.


On International Animal Rights Day, here are the 10 stand-out victories for animals in 2014:

Retailers around the world pull angora wool products

PETA Asia’s exposé of angora farms in China – where rabbits have the fur violently ripped out of their skin – has led retailers, including ASOS, H&M, Calvin Klein, Ted Baker, French Connection, All Saints, Tommy Hilfiger and many more, to drop this cruel product in droves – you’d be hard-pressed to find a single shop on the High Street still offering angora. In the past month alone, we’ve added Lacoste and Monsoon to the list.

Moscow International Circus says goodbye to wild animals

Twenty years after Tyke the elephant was mowed down in a hail of gunfire after she killed her trainer and went on a rampage following years of confinement and abuse, the Moscow International Circus has pledged not to use any animals in its upcoming performances. Also this year, Mexico City joined Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru in banning circuses that use wild animals. Shamefully, we’re still waiting for the government to deliver on its promise to make these archaic spectacles illegal here in the UK.

India bans the importation of cosmetics tested on animals

Following a ban on cosmetics experiments on animals last year, the Indian government announced a ban on the importation of cosmetics tested on animals elsewhere. This news brings India into line with the European Union and Israel and will spare millions of animals being blinded, poisoned and killed in cruel and useless experiments.

The World Trade Organisation upholds the ban on seal-fur

The Canadian government’s attempt to force the cruel products of its despised commercial seal slaughter onto the unwilling EU public was stopped once and for all when the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rejected its appeal earlier this year. The WTO’s decision is a victory for baby seals, who for years have been bludgeoned to death by the thousands in front of other terrorised seals, and brings us a giant step closer to a day when violence on Canadian ice floes is a thing of the past.

China Southern Airlines stops shipping monkeys to labs

After three years of campaigning by PETA and our international affiliates, China Southern Airlines announced a ban on shipments of primates to laboratories, where they were poisoned, crippled and mutilated in cruel experiments. Air France is now the only major airline still still giving primates a one-way ticket to  experimentation and death.

The 100th Spanish town bans bullfights

Sant Joan in Mallorca joined towns such as Tossa de Mar and the entire region of Catalonia in banning bullfights – a sign of the growing Spanish resistance to this cruel and archaic pastime. Towns are now finding innovative new ways to celebrate traditional festivals without harming animals – in Mataelpino in central Spain, for example, the Running of the Balls was introduced as a humane alternative to the traditional but horrific Running of the Bulls.

US military takes huge step towards ending war on animals

In a groundbreaking victory more than three decades in the making, the US military agreed to replace the use of animals in six different areas of medical training with modern human-patient simulators that better prepare medical personnel to treat injured soldiers and spare animals being cut up and having hard plastic tubes repeatedly forced down their throats, among other invasive and often deadly procedures. Unfortunately, the UK and a handful of other EU countries still shoot and then stitch up live pigs in inhumane exercises.

Chimpanzees living in the worst conditions in Germany are freed

For three decades, Mimi and Dolly were confined to this filthy and mouldy shack. PETA Germany went public about their plight, and more than 21,000 people responded to its call to action. Driven by the public’s outrage, the authorities put pressure on the chimpanzees’ “owner” to relinquish custody of the animals, and within weeks Mimi and Dolly were transferred to a Dutch wildlife sanctuary.

SeaWorld shares tank

Anyone who cares about marine life and wants orcas and dolphins to live free in the oceans with their pods is cheering the year that SeaWorld has had following the release of the BAFTA-nominated documentary Blackfish. Attendance at its parks is down, musicians scheduled to perform have jumped ship and the world’s largest student travel company, STA Travel, pulled SeaWorld promotions from its website.

An orca swimming

Abused elephant Sunder is rescued

Millions of concerned people followed this young elephant’s story with bated breath. Sunder endured years of abuse at the Indian temple where he was held prisoner. Thanks to the determined efforts of PETA India and actions from compassionate supporters around the world, Sunder was finally freed and moved to his new home, a nearly 50-hectare forested elephant-care centre at Bannerghatta Biological Park, where he has been able to explore and make friends with other elephants for the very first time.

What next?

Change doesn’t always come quickly. More than 60 billion cows, chickens, pigs and other animals are killed for their flesh every year around the world; animals of many different species are still being tortured and killed for their skin and fur; millions of animals are used in laboratory experiments; and there are still millions of captive animals languishing in zoos, aquaria and circuses. But as the above 10 victories demonstrate, times and attitudes are changing.

 

SeaWorld CEO Jim Atchison is OUTTA Here!   2 comments

From:  OneGreenPlanet

Dec 12, 2014

by Kate Good

Image source: Media.Biz.us

 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the glowing image of a very confused human-being that is SeaWorld’s former CEO, Jim Atchison … let us enlighten you. Under Atchison’s blissfully ignorant watch, numerous “incidents” involving trainers and orcas have occurred at the park, including the tragic death of Dawn Brancheau. SeaWorld’s stock has dropped a startling 50 percent during Atchison’s time as CEO – mostly because of the growing impact of Blackfish. Rather than making changes in the park to align with the demands of the public (such as ending the captive breeding program), Atchison announced in an interview with Business Insider than he was planning to expand the corporation’s reach into international markets where they could continue to abuse animals scot-free!

While this announcement of expansion prospects surely elicited an overwhelming cringe from people across the world, SeaWorld just announced that Atchison’s days with the corporation are over! Effective January 15th, Atchison will be replaced by David D’Alessandro, the company’s chairman.

The passing of the torch to a new CEO comes as a beacon of hope for animals activists everywhere, but it is not yet a guarantee that real change for the animals imprisoned in SeaWorld will happen in 2015. Atchison was shockingly clueless (or maybe just solely concerned with the profit and nothing else), but D’Alessandro won’t be any better unless he accepts the overpowering fact that people do not want to see captive animals suffer for entertainment anymore.

We have seen what really goes on behind the closed doors at SeaWorld and have come to understand the dynamic emotional and cognitive abilities of the animals that are kept at the park as money-making props. Once you know the truth, it’s impossible to go back to SeaWorld and think that what we’re doing to animals is okay.

Under Atchison, SeaWorld has seen record loses, but if they want to stay in business while D’Alessandro serves as CEO they need to reimagine their entire business model. Starting with an end to their captive breeding program, SeaWorld needs to start fixing the wrongs they have done to their animals. Those who were born into captivity do not have a good shot at surviving in the wild, but they can at least be given the dignity of getting to live out the rest of their lives in a sea pen with other animals who they can peaceably interact with. Rather than touting “conservation” as their primary initiative, SeaWorld should expand their efforts to conserve the natural habitats of marine animals to ensure that they have a future. They might even consider ramping up rescue and release efforts to aid animals in need – but stop forcing those that are “too valuable” to release to perform in shameful spectacles.

We can’t say we are sorry to see Atchison go, but the fight to save the animals held hostage in SeaWorld continues. Until the corporation stops viewing animals as vital assets necessary to make profit, their actions will continue to cause harm to animals.

Here’s hoping for real positive change in 2015!

 

Ambassador Wolves Zephyr, Alawa, and Nikai: Wolf Rock Cam   Leave a comment

From:  Wolf Conservation Center

Zephyr, Alawa, and Nikai are captive-born Canadian/Rocky Mountain gray wolves (Canis lupus occidentalis). As Ambassador wolves, the siblings open the door to understanding the importance and plight of their wild kin and help fight to preserve wolves’ rightful place in the environment. Zephyr and Alawa are litter-mates, born April 20, 2011.  Their little brother Nikai was born April 13, 2014.

Zephyr Alawa and Nikai

Enclosure Cam (active) | ‘Adopt’ the Wolves

http://wildearth.tv/cam/zephyr-and-alawa

 

Gorillas in the crossfire   Leave a comment

From:  The New York Times

by Orlando von Einsiedel on November 7, 2014

VIDEO:   http://nyti.ms/1Eby3GM

In a national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a caretaker struggles to save gorillas from the violence of a brutal civil war.

This Op-Doc video profiles Andre Bauma, who takes care of the orphaned mountain gorillas of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In two decades of civil war, more than 140 of his fellow rangers have been killed while protecting their park, which has been home to armed rebels. They risk their lives for Virunga’s gorillas not only because they believe it is right, but because they know that the forest and its animals are the key to the region’s stability.

The threats facing the park are tremendously complicated. Dueling military forces, who have been fighting in the surrounding areas, and sometimes within the park, have used Virunga as their pawn. An oil company, SOCO International, has searched for oil in the park. Violence, poaching and human encroachment have pushed the gorillas to the edge of extinction. Accordingly, the logistics of filming this documentary were daunting: We were working in an active conflict zone with an ever-shifting front line, managing the opposition of a major oil company and its arsenal of lawyers, and of course trying to keep our equipment from being carried away by a crew of curious mountain gorillas.

For us, the gorillas lay at the heart of this story. Not only are they a mirror in which we can view ourselves, but they also represent a better future for Congo and the hopes of the thousands of people living around Virunga National Park. Through tourism to visit the gorillas (now welcomed in a period of relative stability) and other development projects, hundreds of millions of dollars can be generated from the park, as happens next door in Rwanda. Yet the mountain gorillas’ future remains in question.

This video is part of a series by independent filmmakers who have received grants from the Britdoc Foundation.

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Zambian rhino puts spotlight on poaching crisis   Leave a comment

From: Easiertravel

4th November 2014

Rangers save Inongwe from Snare

Zambia’s Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park now has its own celebrity rhino, Inongwe a rising star on Acacia Africa’s Twitter and Facebook pages. Chosen as mascot for the safari specialist’s anti-poaching campaign, Inongwe operates under the hashtag #SaveInongwe. Building awareness for the plight of rhinos online is nothing new, but the tour operator is also highlighting the positive steps being put in place on the ground. A major factor behind the decision to work with the Zambian park: no rhinos have been poached since 2007 and they remain under 24-hour armed guard. Even more exciting news Inongwe is due to deliver a second calf in early 2015 – a significant event as rhinos only give birth once every two to four years.

Arno Delport, Sales & Marketing Manager at Acacia Africa comments “To date most campaigns have focused on the negatives and while we are building awareness of the facts we feel there is a need to include locations where rangers are effectively helping to combat rhino poaching. A force for good, we’re encouraging other parks and reserves, NGOs and cause related organisations across Africa to share their news using the #SaveInongwe hashtag. Our tours attract travellers from several continents including Europe, North America, Australasia and Asia, and many safari goers choose to talk about their experience and share their photos online. By coming together on Twitter and Facebook we can make a real difference, and hopefully the campaign will inspire more people to visit Africa and donate to worthy initiatives.”

The poaching crisis has escalated over recent years and rhinos are facing the very real threat of extinction by 2026. Driven by demand from countries including China and Vietnam, rhino horn is valued for its supposed medicinal properties, but mere myth it is actually composed of keratin the same material found in hair and nails.

As part of the initiative Acacia Africa named one of their 20 strong fleet after Inongwe and several of their upcoming overland camping expeditions are to be focused on rhino conservation. The following departures will include a Bad Hair Party on 09 December and the chance to win a rhino walking safari in the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park – adventurers from all five tours meeting up in Livingstone.

24-day South East Adventure departing 16 November. From £1,295pp (no single supplement) + local payment from £576pp.

31-day South East Adventure departing 16 November. From £1,645pp (no single supplement) + local payment from £757pp.

22-day Zanzibar, Victoria Falls & Kruger departing 25 November. From £1,125pp (no single supplement) + local payment from £407pp.

19-day Desert Tracker departing 22 November. From £850pp (no single supplement) + local payment from £472pp.

7-day African Insight (northbound) departing 04 December. From £435pp (no single supplement) + local payment from £169pp.

On the back of the itineraries, the Africa specialist is also giving everyone the opportunity to participate in the “Bad Hair Day Challenge.” Rhino supporters should upload their Bad Hair Day selfie to Facebook or Twitter using the #SaveInongwe hashtag, and either nominate or donate to their favouirite rhino charity.

All travellers passing through Livingstone on Acacia Africa’s overland tours will have the opportunity to meet Inongwe on an optional rhino walk, the tour operator’s camping expeditions starting from just seven days.

For more information, visit acacia-africa.com.

Male White rhino at Mosi-oa-Tunya national par...

Male White rhino at Mosi-oa-Tunya national park, Livingstone, Zambia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Lion World Travel Donates $10,000 to Support Rhino Conservation in South Africa   Leave a comment

From By: Lion World Travel via GlobeNewswire News Releases

DLERAY BEACH, FL, Nov. 3, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — To celebrate the successful conclusion of Lion World Travel’s#ShareIfYouCare social media campaign, the company will donate $10,000 to the Endangered Wildlife Trust in support of their rhino conservation efforts. This donation is being made through The TreadRight Foundation, a not-for-profit organization operated by The Travel Corporation and its family of travel brands, including Lion World Travel.

The yearlong #ShareIfYouCare social media campaign was designed to raise awareness about the drastic increase in rhino poaching in South Africa over the past decade.

“We received an overwhelming response from our community on social media,” said Lucille Sive, president of Lion World Travel. “I believe that the travel and tourism industry has an obligation to support local wildlife conservation efforts. Our guests experience the natural beauty of Africa first-hand and we’re committed to doing our part to ensure that its beauty is here to stay for generations to come.”

The Endangered Wildlife Trust is one of the multiple projects supported by The TreadRight Wildlife Initiative, launched earlier this year and focusing its support on the fight against wildlife crime.

South Africa’s rhino population faces an unprecedented and increasing threat from poachers. While a decade ago approximately 25 rhinos were killed as a result of poaching in South Africa, that number has grown exponentially and last year more than 1,000 rhinos were killed.

The Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Rhino Conservation Project implements interventions at several stages in the poaching and wildlife trade chain. The contributions of Lion World Travel and The TreadRight Foundation aid the Endangered Wildlife Trust in its care for orphaned baby rhinos, poaching and smuggling deterrent efforts, as well as delivering rhino conservation resource materials and support for landowners and reserve managers.

About Lion World Travel
Lion World Travel is the leading tour operator from North America specializing in group and individual tours to Southern and East Africa, and is a member of the renowned Travel Corporation, which also includes: Trafalgar Tours, Contiki, Brendan Vacations, Insight Vacations, The Red Carnation Hotel Collection and Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection. In its 50th year, clients continue to benefit from Lion World Travels’ destination knowledge, expertise, and emphasis on customer service. With their safari specialists all having first-hand knowledge of Africa, Lion World Travel can confidently assist clients in creating an African adventure that fits their specific interests as well as their budget. Extraordinary service, affordable luxury and value for money are what keep clients coming back to Lion World Travel.

Winner of the South African Tourism Ubuntu Awards “Top
Producing Tour Operator for North America” for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014

Winner of “Certificate of Excellence for TripAdvisor” for 2014

Winner of the South African Airways “Award of Excellence in Travel and Tourism for North America” for 2012

About The TreadRight Foundation

At Lion World Travel and parent company The Travel Corporation, we understand that travel matters; it allows us to explore the world and gain a deeper understanding of each destination, its history and culture, through enriching experiences. We also recognize that it is our responsibility to help protect the places we visit and take care of the world around us.

Created as a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s family of brands, The TreadRight Foundation is a not-for-profit that works to help ensure the environment and communities we visit remain vibrant and preserved for generations to come. To date, TreadRight has donated more than USD 2.5 million to sustainable tourism projects worldwide. Lion World Travel is proud to be an active founder and supporter of TreadRight’s projects and work. Go to www.lionworldtravel.com/about-us/social-responsibility to learn more.

TreadRight’s guiding principle is to encourage sustainable tourism development through conservation, leadership and support for communities. We encourage each of our partners to use this principle to guide all of their actions, whether at our regional offices or when taking guests around the world. By providing grants to organizations that encourage sustainability in different destinations, we hope to maintain the natural attractions across the world that defines each unique region. Foundation priorities are set by the Steering Committee, which includes sustainability leaders like Céline Cousteau and Costas Christ.

To learn more about our past and current work at TreadRight, please visit us at TreadRight.org.

CONTACT: Susan Chou
         Public Relations Coordinator
         Twitter: @Susan_TravCorp
         Susan.Chou@TravCorpUSA.com
         
         Arnelle Kendall
         Vice President of Public Relations
         Twitter: @ArnelleKendall
         Arnelle.Kendall@TravCorpUSA.com
         
         The Travel Corporation USA
         636 East Atlantic Avenue Suite 203
         Delray Beach, FL 33483
         561.330.0850

Is walking with lions good conservation? Probably not.   1 comment

Is walking with lions good conservation? Probably not.

by  on July 3, 2013 in Conservation

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Close encounters with Africa’s megafauna is an irresistible magnet for many tourists in Africa, and for some the closer the encounter the greater the thrill.

So when a tourism operator offers the chance, for a fee, to ‘walk with lions’ it is no surprise that there is a steady flow of punters eager to do it. And when it is claimed that the money goes towards an elaborate project purporting to rewild lions, it seems, superficially at least, to be a Good Thing.

After all Africa’s wild lion population is in bad shape. A half -century ago some 100,000 lions ranged across Africa’s savannas, but lion habitat is only a quarter of what is was then and today lion numbers are fewer than 30,000. Forty per cent of these live in Tanzania and only nine countries can claim to have more than 1,000 wild living lions. To say that lions in the wild are on a one-way ticket to extinction is arguably no overstatement. So where could there be a problem with any attempt to reverse the trend?

Well, controversy and conservation are well acquainted and pretty well constant companions. And around the operations of Antelope Park in Gweru, Zimbabe and their sister operations called Lion Encounter at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Zambia where ‘hands on’ interaction with these great felines is promoted, the controversy is well and truly raging.

Antelope Park, as stated on its website, is “home to the world-famous ALERT lion rehabilitation programme, as seen in the major UK TV documentary series Lion Country.” ALERT, it would seem, is the umbrella organisation in a network of subgroups: ALERT is a non-profit body but the subgroups are not.

The nub of the issue is the ALERT ‘vision’, which is founded on a four-stage rewilding strategy, with stage four being the successful release of lions into true conservation areas. One understands that grand ideas are not always realised overnight, but ALERT was founded in 2005 and has yet to release any lions into the wild. But lions, true to the basic strategy of all life, reproduce. Cubs taken from their pride groups to walk with tourists soon outgrow their purpose and are moved up a stage and ‘new’ walking specimens are brought in. The lions in the middle stages of the rehabilitation model will mature and will breed. And as the breeding cycle continues the numbers of contained lions grows. Unless lions are legally released into a wild area, the ‘captive’ population has to balloon. It’s simple arithmetic.  In fact figures provided to Africa Geographic by ALERT show a large build up of baby lions (where the money is made), a significant death rate in the middle stages and no successful final stage releases to date.  After 8 years those numbers speak for themselves.  And yet ALERT persists with its conservation claims and volunteers and tourists flock to their operations.  Let me be clear on this, I am all for successful tourism operations – but not when they redirect money from genuine conservation activities and not when the promises of conservation impact are nothing more than a thin marketing veneer.

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The ‘excess’ lions from these breeding operations will have to go somewhere to relieve the bottleneck and if that destination is not a legitimate conservation area, where will that somewhere be?

The fear and, in some quarters, strongly held suspicion is that via some form of wildlife laundering system lions will find their way into one or more of the many lion breeding farms that serve canned lion hunting operations.

This would certainly not be conservation in any shape or form. In fact it would mean quite cynically that conservation money from volunteer internships, fees to walk with lions and donations is being diverted from really good conservation projects into operations of questionable ethical standing.

If this is not the case then only complete transparency and accountability for all the lions involved from cradle to grave will allay the growing disquiet of the conservation world. And even if such transparency is forthcoming, is it in the first place sensible to offer ultra-close encounters with big, dangerous animals. Attacks on humans and maulings have already occurred at Lion Encounter and quite possibly a real tragedy awaits. But that is another story.

I asked Dereck Joubert, conservationist, National Geographic Explorer in Residence and wildlife documentary filmmaker extraordinaire for his views, so I sign off with his wise words:

There has been a proliferation of these walking-with-lions operations, not just in Africa by the way. I also saw them in Mauritius. In my opinion the activity is fundamentally flawed. A lion is a potentially dangerous animal and walking with it not only exposes guests to an accident that will result in the lion needing to be killed, but also erodes the wildness, the mystique and the very essence of what a wild lion is by taming it.

It is the respect for that vitality and wildness that drives our conservation of wild lions. If you consider that there are probably 6,000 lions in captivity but that we never include those lions into the overall figure of between 20,000 and 30,000 in the wild, its because the conservation of lions is not based on the total number of lions there are in the world, but those in the wild. As such, captive lions have little to do with conservation.

The fact that the captive lions simply confuse the conversation about lion conservation is one thing, but I worry about what happens when the lions get old, injured, sick or a little less cute to walk with. Do they feed a canned lion hunting scheme? Probably.

And canned lion hunting is one of the greatest misguided uses of an icon of Africa. It damages the reputation of South Africa, it is spurred by greed alone and it has stimulated a market that could be responsible for the collapse of not just wild lions but tigers as well, via its evil cousin the bone trade.

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All photos were taken by an Africa Geographic representative on assignment.

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