Archive for Bears
www.nytimes.com 14th June 2011
The Russian border with China is flourishing with a rather macabre trade. The smuggling of animal parts into China, where they are used in various ‘traditional’ medicines, has rocketed in recent years, a fact demonstrated by a recent haul seized by Russian customs officers on Tuesday (14th June). In the bed of a seemingly empty Chinese-owned flat-bed truck, sniffer dogs revealed 26 elk lips, 1,041 bear paws, lynx fur, unspecified claw parts and 5 tusks from the extinct woolly mammoth. The total weight of the body parts was 1.4 (US) tons. The trade is worrying. According to Aleksei L. Vaisman from Traffic Europe-Russia, which monitors trade in wild animals, “China is a vacuum cleaner for Siberian wildlife.” Since Russian customs officers started using dogs, traffickers have risked larger shipments. The average price for a set of 4 bear paws would be around $50. The mammoth ivory tusks pose more a ethical dilemma. Conservationists tend to encourage the sale of this type of ivory to take the pressure off endangered species. With an estimated 150 million mammoths frozen in Siberia’s permafrost alone, it is not difficult to see why. However, Russia requires an export license in order to make sure those tusks with scientific value, prehistoric slaughter marks for example, are sent to researchers.
www.guardian.co.uk 14th November 2010
Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, is to feature in a new six-part reality TV series: ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska’. The series, which is part documentary and part candid camera on one of the most controversial political families in US history, is to depict a rather different picture of Ms. Palin than the gun-toting, pro-drilling hunter she has been seen as before. Ironically, the former governor has already got in trouble with environmentalists because of the series. She has been accused of ‘flagrant irresponsibility by fishing too close to protected brown bears’ by John Toppenberg, director of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance. Official guidelines state that anglers in boats must not fish closer than 30ft to bears for their own safety. Another clip in the series shows a bear jumping in the water near where the Palins are fishing prompting Ms. Palin to “say so I’m thinking we are going to get stuck there, the anchor is dropped and there is a bear coming towards us.” This comment further enraged Mr. Toppenberg who said ”she implies that she is somehow in danger or being brave. That’s complete nonsense.” The scenes were shot in Wolverine Creek, a spot in Alaska where Brown Bears and people regularly congregate due to the easy fishing. Ms. Palin was picked by Presidential candidate John McCain to be his running mate in the elections of 2008 and it is yet to be seen if she runs for the presidency herself in 2010. She claims that she will do so only “if there’s no one else”.
www.guardian.co.uk 26th October 2010
The scorching summer Russia experienced this year, which resulted in widespread wild-fires, is having a rather macabre effect on certain large animals in the region. The absence of their normal food-stuffs such as berries and mushrooms due to the extreme weather is causing bears to dig up bodies in municipal graveyards for food. Bears have been causing problems throughout many towns in the country due to the lack of food, scavenging in rubbish bins and raiding gardens. A young man was also mauled in the town centre of Syktyvkar in the province of Komi. In the northern Karelia province, Masha Vorontsova of WWF Russia reported that one bear learnt how to break into coffins and then taught other bears how to do it. She added, “they are pretty quick learners.” Ironically, the greatest threat to Russia’s bear population is not starvation but hunting. Numbers are relatively stable at around 120,000 to 140,000 but poaching has increased in recent years with the wealthy gun enthusiasts wiping out large male bears in the far East province of Kamchatka.