Archive for WWF
New research by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) states that the illicit trade in animal and plant parts is worth $19 billion a year, making it the fourth largest illegal trade after narcotics, counterfeiting, and people trafficking. The report highlights the potential risk to national stability as armed rebel groups are using the trade to fund civil conflicts. The WWF study cites the example of a large elephant massacre in northern Cameroon as an example. In this case, rebel groups from Chad and Sudan killed 450 elephants in order to sell their ivory to buy arms. A recent seizure of an estimated 20 tonnes of ivory in Malaysia on route to China only shows to exemplify the scale of the trade. According to the Born Free Foundation, the number of elephants killed from poaching (c. 30,000) now exceeds the number that die of natural causes.
The coast of northern Australia is a beautiful environment that has been blighted in recent years by the global problem of marine debris. One form of debris in particular is causing problems: derelict fishing nets. These nets are made out of monofilament twine, a type of plastic that can last as long as 600 years in the environment, according to the US Marine Park Service and Mote Marine Laboratory. In places like Hawaii, ghost nets, as they are known, are shipped to a waste to energy facility but in northern Australia, due to the vast distances involved, the problem is harder to solve. They typically end up in landfill or are burnt.
GhostNets Australia is an alliance of 22 indigenous groups from three states in the northern part of the country. Formerly known as the Carpentaria Ghost Nets Programme, the group has been responsible for removing 7,500 nets off the beaches since 2004. Amazingly, less than 10% of these nets have originated from Australia, with the majority washing in from countries further North such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. As well as cleaning the shorelines, GhostNets Alliance has put a lot of time into finding alternative ways to dispose/reuse the nets they find apart from burning or landfill. One way is to use the tough monofilament line as a fabric thread in art pieces (see pictures) and another is to patch the nets up and reuse them again.
Ghost nets are particularly harmful in the marine environment as they carry on catching marine animals (see first and last picture). Organisations such as GhostNets Australia are doing a fantastic job preventing these nets being washed once again out to sea to cause more damage. This is why they have just won the WWF’s Creative Arts Award. We wish them every success in the future!
e360.yale.edu 28th February 2012
Poachers from Chad and the Sudan are responsible for the deaths of nearly 500 elephants inside a Bouba Ndjida National Park in Cameroon over the space of six weeks. Officially the death toll stands at 458 but the actual number could be a lot higher as the park spans 220,000 hectares in the north of the country. Two species of elephants live in Cameroon: savannah elephants and forest elephants and their numbers are believed to stand somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000. The regional field program manager for the World Wildlife Fund in Cameroon, Bas Huijbregts, said “I wouldn’t be surprised if in the last six weeks that maybe more than half of the overall savannah elephant population in Cameroon has been killed.” The massacre appears to be well organised and ivory is the main reason behind it, probably for the growing Asian demand for the material. The International Fund for Animal Welfare has dispatched a team to the area and the European Union has called for the Cameroonian government to intervene. As yet no effective intervention has taken place. Mr Huijbregts also believes a similar slaughter maybe taking place in the Congo Basin.
www.telegraph.co.uk 2nd November 2011
The main company exploring for shale gas in the UK have admitted that small earthquakes that hit the Lancashire coast in April and May were caused by hydraulic fracturing, the process whereby water, sand and chemicals are blasted at high pressure underground to release trapped gas from rocks. The company, Cuadrilla Resources, insist the tremors were not dangerous and that ‘fracking’, as hydraulic fracturing is more commonly know, is a safe process. However, there is growing concern that this may not be true, particularly in light of stories from across the pond of fracking causing flammable tap water and people becoming ill from contaminated water. Protests are on the rise in the UK where one drilling operation in Lancashire has already been brought to a standstill and a meeting of industry investors was stormed. James Barnes, a member of Frack Off (the group responsible), said, “We hear a lot about energy shortages, and we really need to be investing in researching sustainable energy sources, rather than finding tiny pockets of non-renewable gas and destroying our planet in order to get to them.” Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, also warned against mass use of shale gas by saying not enough was known about it to “bet the farm on it”. Charities, including Friends of the Earth and WWF, are attempting to implement a moratorium on fracking until more evidence on its safety can be collected.
www.independent.co.uk 13th October 2011
BP has come under heavy criticism from four of the UK’s leading conservation charities due to their plans to drill a new deep-water oil well off the coast of Scotland. In the BP’s own worst case scenario, the well could leak 75,000 barrels of oil for 140 days from the platform situated offshore from the island of North Uist. Such a leak would make it the worst oil spill in history and more than twice the size of BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico last year. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have all written to energy secretary Chris Huhne to try to get him to stop the drilling, citing a “significant risk to wildlife”. They also complained that not one of the charities were made aware of BP’s “public consultation exercise”, which ended last week without a single response from the public. None of the charities knew about the exercise until the Independent broke the story yesterday (pictured).
A magical tale of adventure and discovery showcasing some of the extraordinary species recently found around the world. ‘Astonish Me’ has been created by acclaimed writer Stephen Poliakoff and director Charles Sturridge to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
www.marketingweek.co.uk 30th July 2011
Quoted from source:
‘Supermarkets have defended their efforts to reduce carrier bag use after being slammed by the Government for a 5% rise in plastic bags used at checkouts in the past year. The figures, released by WRAP reveal that 6.4 billion single-use bags were used by supermarket customers in the UK in 2010. Lord Henley, the Government’s Recycling Minister, says retailers must “lift their game” and cut the number of bags given out or face legislation. The British Retail Consortium, which represents the major supermarkets, says that a small increase in the number of bags given out by retailers in 2010 should not overshadow “major progress” made by the sector. It claims that across the UK 40% fewer plastic bags were used in 2010 compared to 2006. Marks & Spencer, which already charges customers 5p per plastic bag in stores, stands by its efforts and maintains that it is still seeing an 80% reduction in carrier bag use compared to before it started charging. The retailer claims 94 million plastic bags were given out at its checkouts in 2010. In 2006 the number was 464 million. M&S recently relaunched its carrier bag reduction campaign as part of its Forever Fish initiative and donates profits from the sales of bags to charities including WWF and education and conservation projects.’
To read more, visit the MarketingWeek website.
Proposed planning law revisions drawn up by the office of the planning minister Greg Clarke promise to make it much easier to build new houses or office blocks. However, the revisions, which would see the number of pages in the planning policy slashed from 1,000 to 52, have been criticised by environmental groups worried that they threaten the nation’s green belts and wildlife habitats. Shaun Spiers, the Chief Executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), has claimed the new policy change, which won’t be approved until next year, is the biggest change in the system since the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act, except the emphasis will be this time on economic growth rather than protection of the countryside. Although the new policy outline promotes ‘sustainable development’, Mr Spiers says that the definition of such a term is too vague to protect green spaces. The scrapping of government targets for the development of brown-field sites is also likely to put pressure on the green-belt. Greg Clarke MP has attacked the “bloated” national planning policy saying it has more words in it “than the complete works of Shakespeare”. He continued, “we need a simpler, swifter system that is easier to understand.” The WWF also urged caution on the plans with their Senior Planning Advisor, Emmalene Gottwald, saying: “This approach merely reinforces the boom and bust cycle by encouraging lots of development now to meet immediate demand, with the environmental fallout and social consequences to be dealt with at some unknown time in the future.”
www.telegraph.co.uk 10th June 2011
The latest spell of warm weather across the UK has been the declared the driest spring in 100 years, according to the UK’s Environment Agency, causing parts of Eastern England to be given ‘drought’ status. This means farmers may have to stop taking water from local waterways and businesses such as food processors and breweries reduce water use and share resources. Despite this, the Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has said that a hosepipe ban is not yet needed as reservoirs remain quite full. She did suggest people take showers instead of baths though to save water. Only one water company, Severn Trent in the Midlands, has openly said that a hosepipe ban is likely this summer. Although East Anglia is the worst affected part of the country, areas of the South West, South East, the Midlands, and Wales are designated as having ‘near-drought’ conditions. The WWF have expressed concerns that water companies make take too much water from waterways threatening such species as otters, water voles, and salmon. A spokesman said, “our water supplies have been taken for granted for far too long and now we’re facing a drought that could devastate our wildlife, rivers and crops. Ministers must act to ensure we change the way we use our water instead of wasting it through badly designed buildings and appliances, poor planning and inadequate investment.” Most cereal crops such as Barley and Wheat in East Anglia and the South East have already been lost due to dry conditions but fruits such as strawberries and cherries are having bumper yields.
www.independent.co.uk 16th January 2011
BP have signed an agreement with state-run Russian oil company Rosneft to begin exploration of the Kara Sea, north of Siberia. BP is, so far, responsible for the world’s worst off-shore oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last April. Friends of the Earth, in response to the news of the deal, branded BP “environmental villain number one” and Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Greenpeace have both promised to confront the new BP chief, Bob Dudley. The Kara Sea is one of the few untouched refuges left for a number of species including the Polar Bear, Beluga Whales, Halibut and Arctic Cod. BP has already got in trouble with conservationists over Russian drilling due to their constant seismic surveying, which WWF’s claims has caused harm to the only remaining 130 Western Grey Whales. Of this number, only 30 are female. Following the explosion on board the Deepwater Horizon rig in April 2010, Greenland was the first to ban BP from drilling in its Arctic waters. Evidently, the Russians aren’t quite so squeamish about environmental disasters.
www.independent.co.uk 25th November 2010
Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio has travelled to Russia to attend the international tiger summit in St Petersburg. In the summit, he has joined up with the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to spearhead a last ditched effort to save the tiger. The summit is the first time world leaders have met purely to discuss the issue and talks will focus on a World Bank proposal to rescue the species. There are currently thought to be around 3,200 tigers left in the wild, down from 100,000 at the beginning of the last century. Mr DiCaprio pledged $1 million of his own money for tiger-saving initiatives and has recently finished a tour of Bhutan and Nepal’s tiger habitats. He is also a board member of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The summit has attracted most of the leaders of countries where tigers can be found, including Chinese premier Wen Jiabao. So far, $350 million has been promised for efforts to save tigers. However, conservationists fear that without any agreements over poaching and smuggling prevention the money would be pointless. The decline of tigers has been cause in a large part by the demand for tiger parts in traditional medicines in countries such as China.
www.chinadaily.com.cn 8th November 2010
The Chinese government, together with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), has held a global competition for the chance to train as a ‘Pambassador’ Southwest China’s Sichuan province. 60,000 people applied worldwide with 12 finalists being picked to air an online video of themselves, which was then voted for by the general public. The six victors of the competition were an international bunch, coming from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Japan, the USA, France and Sweden. Their tasks now include tracking pandas through the dense southern Chinese forests, caring for pandas in the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, and raising awareness for the panda’s plight. Although nobody knows how many Giant Pandas there are left in the wild, official Chinese statistics put their number around 1,600 worldwide (down from 2,500 in the 1970s). Those left are distributed across the Chinese provinces of Sichuan (1,200 pandas), Shaanxi (300) and Gansu (100). A logging ban in 1998 has helped prevent the decline of the panda’s habitats but the construction of large scale infrastructure and an enormous earthquake in 2008 has damaged around 83% of the pandas’ habitat and also destroyed protection meassures. It is hoped that the premier of the new film ‘Kung Fu Panda 2′ will be shown in the area to raise awareness for the panda’s peril.
www.telegraph.co.uk 4th November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Jairam Ramesh has said that “Following Harry Potter, there seems to be strange fascination even among the urban middle classes for presenting their children with owls”.In J. K. Rowling’s world-famous books, the wizard hero receives his own pet owl, called Hedwig, as a present for his eleventh birthday. Hedwig features throughout the series as Harry’s loyal companion and, like all the other owls in Rowling’s magical world, is enlisted to deliver messages and parcels between characters. Mr Ramesh’s comments follow a report by the organisation Traffic, which monitors global trade in wildlife, stating alternatively that the declining population can be blamed on their role in traditional rituals. Traffic’s report proposes that owls are being captured and slaughtered for these ceremonies, while the minister has suggested they are being delivered to middle class children as birthday presents. Traffic warns that India’s owls are under increased threat during Diwali, the festival of light, when such black magic rituals require the use of owls and their body parts. Despite the protection of the country’s owl species following a 1972 law and its subsequent amendment, the WWF-backed report states that half of India’s thirty owl species can be found for sale.’
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.
www.nationalgeographic.com 21st October 2010
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has declared that the USA needs a centralised federal database to monitor tigers in captivity. According to the wildlife charity, there are now more of the big cats in captivity in the US (5000+) than there are wild (c. 3200). Furthermore, loose regulation for keeping tigers could be fueling the international black-market demand for tiger parts in traditional medicines, particularly in Asia. Among the findings of the WWF report are these comments:
- A patchwork of federal laws governs the possession, sale and exhibition of captive tigers. However, due to a host of exceptions exemptions, and loopholes, federal agencies charged with implementing these laws have no mandate to maintain a current inventory of how many tigers are in the country, where they are, who possesses them, when they die or how they are disposed of.
- 17 states allow the keeping of tigers by individuals with a state permit or registration (Iowa, Oregon and Washington recently banned tiger possession but have systems in place to regulate tigers that were grandfathered in prior to enactment of the bans).
- 8 states have no laws on captive tigers.
- 28 states have laws banning the possession of tigers in private collections.
With the gathering of global leaders for the Global Tiger Summit in St. Petersburg next month, the WWF hopes that US authorities will be galvanised into action over this relatively unknown subject. Captive tigers are frequently kept in very poor conditions and then sold off in pieces after death.
www.wwf.org.uk 12th October 2010
The WWF have captured camera footage of bulldozers destroying tiger habitats in Indonesia. The camera trap was installed in the Riau province of the country and shows the illegal destruction of the Bukit Betabuh forests. The area is protected but the expansion of palm oil plantations has seriously hampered conservation efforts. See the footage here.
Sources: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news 7th September 2010
A wildlife trafficker known as the ‘Lizard King’ has been jailed in Malaysia following his arrest at Kuala Lumpur Airport with 95 boa constrictors in his luggage. The boas, which are an endangered species, shared the suitcase with two Rhinoceros Vipers and a Matamata Turtle. The creatures had originally come from the island state of Penang but Anson Wong, the smuggler, had managed to pass unhindered onto the first flight of his trip. Mr. Wong has now been sentenced to 6 months in jail and a $61,000 fine. The maximum penalty for such a charge is 7 years in jail and a fine of 5 times Mr. Wong’s. Environmentalist groups, including WWF and Traffic Southeast Asia, have complained about the leniency of the sentence.
In 2001, Mr. Wong was convicted of animal smuggling in the US and sentenced to 71 months in jail.