Archive for the ‘Biodiversity’ Category

Nonp-profit Buys Land To Help Grizzly Bear Migration In The Cabinet-Yaak In The Misoulian By Tristan Scott

August 10, 2011

The Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem (?) is in NW Montana. Grizzly Bears do not migrate…but Vital Ground is a good group continuing to do good things…please help them.
WHITEFISH – A Missoula-based nonprofit organization this week adopted a 71-acre tract of wildlife habitat in the Yaak Mountains near Troy that it hopes will improve grizzly bear migration corridors.

The property was purchased by the Vital Ground Foundation from a private landowner and lies within the Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone. The acquisition helps expand grizzly bear “linkage zones,” or corridors that provide safe travel for bears and other wildlife that rove between seasonal habitats.

In this case, the property connects the Kootenai River Valley floor between the Purcell Mountains on the north side of Highway 2 and the East Cabinet Mountains on the south side. The 2,600 square-mile recovery zone is designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which estimates that no more than 40 grizzly bears live south of the Canada border.

Ryan Lutey, director of lands at the Vital Ground Foundation, said the acquisition was the organization’s No. 1 priority under the Cabinet-Purcell-Selkirk Wildlife Linkage Initiative, which was launched in 2008.

“We chose this location because much of the adjacent property is on Forest Service holdings, so we were building on a conservation holding to begin with,” Lutey said.

Acquisition of the property ensures that it will not be commercially or residentially developed, he said.

The property provides low elevation and seasonal linkage habitat for grizzly bears and other wildlife species along the Kootenai River bottom. Lutey said it is an ideal winter range for deer, elk and moose, with the potential for calving and fawning areas.

“It has tremendous wildlife values and scenic values,” Lutey said.

Grizzly bears in the Cabinet-Purcell-Selkirk corridor have become restricted in their travel, Lutey said, and in some areas their migratory routes are completely disrupted due to increasing habitat fragmentation from development. If habitat linkage to more robust populations in Canada is not preserved, the viability of grizzly populations in the lower 48 states will diminish.

The purchase of the Yaak Mountain property was planned over the course of several years through a partnership between the USFWS’ Grizzly Bear Recovery Office; the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative; the Trans-border Grizzly Bear Project; Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; and Vital Ground.

The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative provided an incentive for the project by offering a dollar-for-dollar matching grant for up to 50 percent of the project’s cost.

The Yaak Mountain acquisition was Vital Ground’s cornerstone project, Lutey said. With its completion, the organization will turn its attention to the linkage initiative’s second priority – acquiring five parcels of land totaling 187 acres, which the organization holds under an option-to-purchase contract through December. That project budget is estimated at $1.15 million, and will pose a significant fundraising challenge.

“We have another property under contract on the south side of the Clark Fork where there has been significant documented grizzly bear activity, but it is just outside of the south end of the recovery zone,” Lutey said. “That will continue to be our focus through the end of the year.”

The organization also continues to explore possible connections between the Selkirk Mountains, the Cabinet Mountains and the south end of the Little Bitterroot Mountains between Interstate 90 and Montana Highway 200.

Reporter Tristan Scott can be reached at (406) 730-1067 or at


Serengeti Watch Again

June 23, 2011

If we cant stop this fiasco, ….

Scientists around the world agree – this ill-conceived project would destroy a priceless world heritage that has been protected by the people of Tanzania since the birth of their country. It would also cause grave danger to their entire tourist industry. See this economic impact statement.

A World Heritage Site in Danger

We sincerely believe that the road will have disastrous effects on the entire ecosystem. The northern parts of the Serengeti and the adjacent Masai Mara are critical for the wildebeest and zebra migration during the dry season, as it is the only permanent year-round water source for these herds. Recent calculations show that if wildebeest were to be cut off from these critical dry season areas, the population would likely decline from 1.3 million animals to about 200,000 (meaning a collapse to far less than a quarter of its current population and most likely the end of the great migration).

– The Frankfurt Zoological Society. Read entire article!

The planned highway (in red on the map) will cut across a pristine and remote wilderness area of the Serengeti. It carves a swath across the migration path of millions of animals, shown by the colored arrows. This is not a track or a road — it’s a high speed highway for trucks that could eventually reach hundreds a day! Traffic will inevitably grow more and more frequent, invasive, and damaging as time goes on.

Left: Survey markers already are in place. Photo: Nikki Waterhouse

According to Tanzania’s own 10-year management plan, painstakingly developed in 2005 by scientists, Park officials, and conservation organizations, the area in the northwestern part of the Park is particularly sensitive. As shown on the map below, the area of the proposed highway cuts right through areas designated by the Management Plan as “Low Use” and “Wilderness” zones. The Low Use Zone “will have a lower number and density of visitors” and “more limited road network and lower bed capacity.”

The Wilderness Zone in green “is subject to minimal disturbance. As a result, visitor access will be restricted to walking safaris, with game viewing by vehicle prohibited. The only infrastructure permitted will be a limited number of access roads that can be used by SENAPA management and support vehicles for walking safari operations.”

These areas were not determined lightly. The management plan’s authors themselves state,

“There are significant management challenges facing the Serengeti National Park and its associated wildlife and the migration that contribute to the Park’s uniqueness and global importance.

The actions we take in the next ten years to address these pressures are certain to be critical to conserving those unique aspects of the Serengeti that we all hold dear, and to our ability to fulfill the pledge made by Tanzania’s First President, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, to conserve our precious heritage for the benefit of future generations.

— Serengeti 10-year General Management Plan, 2005

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A Threat to the Greatest Migration on Earth
The northern Serengeti is the most remote and pristine are in the entire ecosystem. Located near the Kenya border, it is the main route for the great wildebeest migration, and is also an important elephant migration area.

The wildebeest photo was taken on May 31, 2010, in nearly the exact place where the proposed Serengeti highway would bisect this part of Serengeti and Loliondo. Not far from this spot there are survey ribbons hanging on trees.

The Tanzanian government’s own impact study states that there will be 800 vehicles a day by the year 2015, and 3,000 a day by 2035. That would be more than a million vehicles a year! Experts say that even these figures have been understated.

In the short term, heavy truck traffic will result in: loss of wildlife and human life through accidents, fragmentation of habitat and alteration of water and soil systems, and increased introduction of animal disease and alien plant life.

The highway will be a convenient pathway for increased poaching by organized gangs. They will be especially interested in the thirty-two black rhinos being introduced by the Frankfort Zoo in the next few years.

One of the introduced rhinos recently ended up like this.

But the long term impact will be worse, as population and development grow…

Areas to the west of the Serengeti are already heavily populated. The northwestern section of the Park is a critical area for wildebeest, which use it as a refuge for much of the year. A highway will add even more human population and development.

Areas to the east of the Serengeti will be radically transformed as people migrate there and change land use from cattle grazing to farming. These areas are crucial dispersal zones for the migrating herds.

A Better Way

There is already too much commercial traffic going through the central Serengeti on its way to western Tanzania. A route is needed to link this area, to be sure. The government of Tanzania must work for development and human welfare in all areas of the country. Preserving nature is not the only task. But the answer is not to carve out a permanent commercial corridor through a World Heritage Site. The net effect will be to damage Tanzania’s vital travel industry, destroy thousands of jobs, and end a heritage of protection in place since the country’s independence.

The choice is not be between people and nature. There is no need for Tanzania to sacrifice its most precious wilderness, or income from tourism, or its heritage.

A safer alternative route to the south can bypass the Serengeti altogether and provide more economic benefit for the people of Tanzania! It would connect with paved highways to western, central, and eastern regions of the country, serving several times the number of people.

See our discussion on the southern route.

A southern route around the Serengeti can preserve Tanzania’s greatest tourism asset and spare the devastation of a priceless World Heritage Site. With the help of the world community, Tanzania can find a way to preserve its inheritance, help bring prosperity to its people, and show the world that it still leads the way in conservation.

Possible Solutions:
The solution is to stop the northern highway from going forward and encouraging the adoption and funding of the southern route.

What’s Being Done:
Education and petitioning of the Tanzanian government. Conservation organizations, the travel industry, and individuals are starting to work together to stop the highway.

Read more:

More leopards, sloth bears in Gujarat, By DNA Correspondant: Tuesday, May 31, 2011, 11:12 IST

June 1, 2011

Immediately my warning sirens to off with this survey…the surveyers deserve an A for effort but this type of survey is fraught with inconsistancies.

The number of leopards and sloth bears in the state has gone up considerably. In the latest census, conducted early this month by the state forest department, 1,160 leopards and 293 sloth bears were counted in the forests of the state.

The findings of the counting that was carried out in 26 districts of the state between May 16 and 18 were released by state forest officials on Monday. The officials said that there are 1,160 leopards in the state now as compared to 1070 in 2006 when the last census was done.

This shows an 8.41 % rise in the population of the big cat. Similarly, a total of 293 sloth bears were counted in 2011 as against 247 in 2006- a rise of 18.60%.

The census is conducted every five years and the last counting was undertaken in 2006.Junagadh district with an estimated 385 leopards tops the chart. It is followed by Dahod with 162 and Amreli with 105.

“Thanks to the Gir National Park, the leopard population is very high in Junagadh district,” explained SK Nanda, principal secretary, forest and environment.

The forest officials chose to tread carefully when asked about leopard-human conflict. “The only problem areas are Gir and Mandvi. But yes, it has always been a problem. However, a closer look will reveal that the number of attacks has not increased,” stated HS Singh, principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife).

In India, about 35% of the leopard population is in found in Protected Areas. In this year’s census in Gujarat, about one third (445) of the leopards were counted in the 14 Protected Areas (PAs) of the state and the rest were reported from other areas. The census reveals that like in the other states, more leopards are found outside the Protected Areas. Since 1984, when there were 498 leopards in the state, the population of this wild animal has gone up consistently.

The population of sloth bear was found to be highest in Dahod district (105), followed by Banaskantha (90) and Sabarkantha (23). Officials said they were delighted to find sloth bear in Jambughoda wildlife sanctuary. “Earlier, sloth bear only visited Jambughoda but now breeding has started and we may see more sloth bears in the coming years,” added SK Nanda.

Close to 4,500 people, including volunteers from 247 NGOs and several animal lovers were involved in the three-day counting drive. Majority of the counting work had to be done in the evening after sunset. “Leopards don’t move in hordes so we positioned ourselves on trees and waited near water holes for them to come out and drink. We relied on their pug marks as no two leopards have similar pug marks,” explained Singh.

Singh also indicated that India will continue to have the highest number of leopards. “Around 70% of Asia’s leopards are found in India. The counting in Gujarat has drawn a positive picture and speaks of the state’s efforts towards protection of habitat, environment and conservation of water holes,” he said.

Gardens Are Neat Places To Visit

May 25, 2011

Gardens are a large part of my life and here are some of the good ones I’ve been to and reccomend you go to. In Washington D.C. near where I grew up was Dunbarton Oaks…I remember many spring adventures there.

Brookgreene Gardens in Myrtle Beach are fantastic and also have great bird flight exclosure a zoo of local birds and mammals, and a small, but special exhibit, about South Carolina’s “Low Country” and a neat, interpretive, boat ride. This is definitely a high point in any trip to Myrtle Beach.

If you go to Santa Cruz California do not miss the local habitats display (several acres, near the University of California at Santa Cruz campus. The habitats displayed are very special, and if you like to birdwatch do not forget your binoculars.

These 3 gardens come to mind and played important roles in my development but I am sure there are more to see.

I have found that community gardes or habitats are a cheap way to see the better side of places you visit. So plan gardens in for your next trip to somewhere.

Fish and marine species are among the most threatened wildlife on earth

May 1, 2011

Marine species of wildlife are a good indicator of what will happen to terrestrial wildlife and its not good. Please read.
Marine species of wildlife are some of the mos vulnerable species of wildlife on earth, due partly to over exploitation by fishing fleets. Yet there are differences in assessing trends in worldwide fishing stocks which, researchers writing in Conservation Biology argue, stem from inappropriate use of time trends in catches.

“Estimates of fishery status based on catches suggest that around 30% of fisheries are collapsed and 70% are overexploited or collapsed,” said lead author Dr Trevor Branch from the University of Washington in Seattle. “Our assessment shows that the data are seriously biased, and that instead we should be looking at biomass data.”

Biomass data from scientific stock assessments indicated a much smaller proportion in these categories (12% collapsed, 26% overexploited or collapsed), and that status trends are stable. Dr Branch’s analysis suggests that in most regions fisheries management has led to stabilization, and even recovery, of fished populations.

“Species which are targeted by fishing fleets are divided into stocks, a division of species into units based on political boundaries, genetic divergence, and biological characteristics,” said Branch. “The depletion of these stocks has important implications for ecosystem biodiversity; however methods of measuring depletion vary greatly.”

Dr Branch’s team considered stocks being “collapsed” or “overexploited” on the basis of catch and biomass data. Collapse is defined as biomass of less than 10% of unfished levels while over exploitation is defined by the governments of the United States and Australia as biomass below 50% of biomass that would produce maximum sustained catches. These reference points are widely used in fisheries management, either as management targets or as limits not to be exceeded.

“Our study found the status of stocks worldwide based on catch trends to be almost identical to what would be expected if catches were randomly generated with no trend at all,” said Branch, “and that most classifications of collapse on the basis of catch data are not true collapses but are due to taxonomic reclassification, regulatory changes in fisheries, and market changes.”

Dr Branch’s team argue that where available, biomass data can be used to ground truth catch trends, revealing that catch data greatly overestimates the percentage of stocks collapsed and overexploited.

Although the team’s biomass data was primarily from industrial fisheries in developed countries, the status of these stocks estimated from catch data is similar to the status of stocks in the rest of the world estimated from catch data.

“Instead of focusing on what we take out of the oceans (catches), we should be examining the actual state of the ecosystem (biomass data),” concludes Branch. “Catch data produce seriously biased estimates of what is going on in ocean ecosystems, and we need more effort expended on scientific surveys and stock assessments, especially in areas that are currently poorly assessed.”

Greetings And A Plug

April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day…go see, African Cats at a theatre near you…take a girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, husband or the children or just yourself. You will not be sorry.

African Cats…Coming To A Theatre Near You

April 20, 2011

I never thought I would see the day I plugged a Disney Nature Film, but here is that day. Do not forget on Earth Day to see Disney’s, African Cats. I have been to the website for this film and I have nothing but superlatives to write.

The last nature film of Disney I saw was in Bethesda, Maryland with my two daughters. The film was about polar bears and walruses and the filming was spectacular…I would go again if I could…If African Cats comes close to the polar bear film I say bring it on and get out and see it viewing public…I hope the film comes to Bozeman, Montana…we will see…The film will be released on Friday, April 22, Earth Day…a nationwide release…go see this film.

Threatened by Mysterious Disease, Bats Are Worth Billions to U.S. Food Supply, By Rose Eveleth In onearth magazine

April 19, 2011

This magazine is so worth a read. I did not know about this until I read this issue of onearth magazine…I am so glad I did.

A study in the journal Science today makes one thing clear: Bats matter. Their appetite for bugs keeps insect populations from running — or flying — amok and costing farmers millions of dollars a year in lost crops and extra pest control.

The study authors estimate that bats are worth something like $22.9 billion a year in economic benefits, and they’re concerned because bats are dying across the country in droves.

The biggest killer is white-nose syndrome, a mysterious fungus that has killed more than a million bats since 2005. It was first discovered in a New York cave in 2005 and has since spread as far south as Tennessee and as far west as Indiana. Researchers still aren’t sure how the fungus kills, and they’re even less sure about how to stop it. Wind turbines also pose a threat, possibly killing thousands of bats each year.

When bats die, the ecosystem is thrown off balance. A single little brown bat can eat up to 3,000 insects in a single night, and one colony of big brown bats can consume 1.3 million bugs a year. But when white-nose hits, some colonies lose 70 percent of their bats. The Science study estimates that, in areas where bats are dying, between 660 and 1,320 tons of insects are no longer being eaten.

The more bugs there are, the more crops they’ll damage, and the more pesticides farmers will spray to keep them away. Those pesticides add costs for farmers, which will be passed along to consumers in the form of higher food prices.

It may come as no surprise that the authors of the Science paper — who are bat researchers themselves — suggest spending more money on bat research. But they make a strong case for the importance of their subject, arguing that even though we might not realize it, the loss of bats hurts us all.


April 5, 2011

I have blogged about two outrageous proposed events and I still have a hard time believing that these nutty prospects may be real.

These prospects are a highway across the Serengeti plains and a mine in the headwaters of the Bristol Bay, Alaska called the Pebble Creek Mine.

Its already crazy that we might get oil drilling in the arctic. Its just as crazy that BP wants to go back to deepwater drilling in the Gulf Of Mexico.

Is it just me or does the word outrageous come to your mind, as it does mine.

Bull Island, A Wild Landscape Of The Atlantic Coast

March 26, 2011

I went to Bull Island yesterday.

Bull Island is a barrier island right in the middle of Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, 60,000 plus acres of the coastal Atlantic in South Carolina. The island is 7 miles long.

I went with my brother-in-law, a good sport who likes to golf and puts up with my nature mannerizms…thank goodness…

Some of the highlites included a “bubbling Atlantic dolphin, numerous shorebirds, a mink, a good bunch of staff naturalists, an easy going boat ride, neat cordgrass marshes (vast), Longleaf Pine forests, Caspian Terns, American Oystercatchers, Laughing Gulls and tilting-gliding Turkey Vuultures and at least one Black Vulture… We did see bobcat tracks.

I would go back to Bull Island in a minute.