Giraffes are being killed for their tails


I am sad to have to share this news. Giraffes are now being poached for their tails. When I read the title I thought I had read it wrong, but I had not. So I have always loved giraffes because they are so crazy looking and as a little girl I thought God had a sense of humor. He/she probably does but I am sure there is no laughter now. We need to know about this and the animal rangers who are trying to protect them along with all the other animals who are being poached for body parts with “mystical powers” or by rich people who will pay enormous amounts of money to be able to show off ivory tusks and brag how they brought the bull elephant down or whatever animal they shot.

The animals probably deserve to be here more than we do because they aren’t destroying Mother Earth. But some more people are beginning to listen and to care. They are donating money to the organizations who are fighting poaching on the ground. It must be a terribly hard job and I send them my gratitude and thanks for performing it day after day.

 

Namaste,

Barbara

 

 

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The killing of three rare Kordofan giraffes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo inspired a filmmaker to transform his anger into action.

Documentary filmmaker David Hamlin recalls the adrenalin rush when he was flying over the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Garamba National Park in late June and spotted three giraffes standing in a small clearing. “Seeing these giraffes from the air was really exciting,” says Hamlin, who was on assignment for National Geographic. “Seeing them anywhere is really exciting.”

That’s because Garamba is huge, sprawling over nearly 2,000 square miles (5,180 square kilometers) of mostly forested land, and it’s a rare, lucky event to come across any of its 40 remaining giraffes.

But Hamlin’s exhilaration at seeing and photographing the giraffes didn’t last long. Twelve hours later rangers reported hearing gunshots, and they later discovered three bullet-riddled giraffe carcasses rotting in the sun. “It was horrible for me and the team,” Hamlin says—”the crushing realization that most likely it was these guys, the ones we’d seen.”

Hamlin decided to document the aftermath of the tragedy (watch the video above) to raise awareness about poaching in the park, which is managed by the nonprofit organization African Parks in association with the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature, a government agency.

Garamba is Africa’s second oldest national park and has been hit hard by poaching in recent years as civil unrest has escalated in the region. Its rhinos have been wiped out, and elephants have suffered huge losses. The same goes for its Kordofan giraffes, one of Africa’s nine giraffe subspecies.

Picture of giraffes in Garamba National Park

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A group of rare giraffes roam the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Garamba National Park.
PHOTOGRAPH BY NIGEL PAVITT, JOHN WARBURTON-LEE PHOTOGRAPHY, ALAMY

Fewer than 2,000 now roam central Africa, according to Julian Fennessy, co-director of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, a Namibia-based organization. Garamba’s Kordofans represent the last population in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “If the number slips in half, then we’re in a real dire situation,” Fennessy says. “Every single giraffe is valuable.”

Congolese usually kill the giraffes for one body part: their tails, considered a status symbol in some communities. Meanwhile men from neighboring South Sudan target the giraffes for their meat to feed impoverished villagers. But the massive bodies (giraffes can grow to 18 feet and weigh up to 3,000 pounds) of the three giraffes were intact—only the ends of their tails were missing.

According to Leon Lamprecht, joint operations director for African Parks, men “use the tail as a dowry to the bride’s father if they want to ask for the hand of a bride.” The long black hairs are often turned into fly whisks.

One of the dead giraffes had a satellite collar and was being monitored by Garamba’s rangers. “What an absolute waste,” Lamprecht says.

This story was produced by National Geographic’s Special Investigations Unit, which focuses on wildlife crime and is made possible by grants from the BAND Foundation and the Woodtiger Fund. Read more stories from the SIU on Wildlife Watch. Send tips, feedback, and story ideas tongwildlife@ngs.org.

Asiatic Lions Making Comeback


Asia’s Lions Live in One Last Place on Earth—and They’re Thriving

 

 

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Picture of a male Asiatic lion A male Asiatic lion seems to pose at the Kamla Nehru Zoological Garden in Ahmedabad, India. PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK

While Asiatic big cats are rare, their spiritual importance helped inspire their human neighbors to keep them safe.

By Kristin Hugo
PUBLISHED AUGUST 10, 2016
African lions get, well, the lion’s share of attention—but some would be surprised to learn there’s another subspecies of the big cat in Asia.

The Asiatic lion once roamed vast swaths of the Middle East and Asia, but indiscriminate hunting and killing to protect livestock led to their mass slaughter. By the late 1800s, as few as 10 of the animals remained on Earth.

Their last refuge became western India’s Gir National Park, a protected area where the number of these endangered animals is now on an upward trend. According to a 2015 census, a little more than 500 lions—the world’s total wild population—live in Gir, up from 411 in 2010. In comparison, about 20,000 African lions remain in the wild. (See a map of the lion’s decline worldwide.)

Like their African kin, Asiatic lions live in prides, and the females do most of the hunting, taking down prey like antelope. They look much like their cousins, too, though they tend to be slightly smaller than African lions and live in forests instead of open grasslands. They also have a distinctive fold of skin on their stomachs, and their manes are less plush.

“There’s so few conservation success stories when it comes to carnivores,” says Gitanjali Bhattacharya, program manager at the Zoological Society of London’s South and Central Asia programs, “and the Asiatic lion, for me, it’s really a story of hope. Because you’ve got a population that’s growing, a community that’s supportive, and the lion is taking back its former range.”

Lionhearted

Asia’s Last Lions In India, rural communities are working with the government to create a haven for the last remaining Asiatic lions in the wild.
That success can be attributed to the effort of conservation groups and local communities’ dedication to protecting the animals. (Read more about National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative.)

The people who live around Gir have a deep respect for the lions and patrol the jungle looking for poachers—though illegal hunting hasn’t been a problem for a long time, says Bhattacharya.

They’re “right on top of it, monitoring threats,” she says.

For them, “the lion is beyond an endangered species,” Bhushan Pandya, member of the Gujarat State Board for Wildlife and Asiatic lion conservationist, says by email. “Lion, the king of jungle, is the symbol of strength and power.”

The predator is also a religious icon in Hinduism; the goddess Durga rides a lion, and the god Narasimha is half lion. (See National Geographic’s most stunning pictures of big cats.)

Cats on the Move

Even so, scientists are concerned that disease or natural disaster could wipe out the entire Gir population in one fell swoop. Some Asiatic lions live in zoos worldwide, but there are no plans to release those animals to build a wild population. (Read: “Lions Approach Extinction in West Africa.”)

To avoid this fate, the Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project, an Indian government initiative, plans to capture some Asiatic lions from Gir and relocate them to the Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary, located in another state. That way, if anything happens to Gir, there will still be lions in Palpur-Kuno.

That plan has proven controversial, however. Though Pandya supports the idea of translocation, he doesn’t think that Palpur-Kuno is a good place for the lions. There isn’t enough prey, poaching gangs may be a threat, and tigers—potential competitors—already live in the region, he says. (Read: “Tiger Got Your Goat? Here’s Who to Call.”)

What’s more, the Gujarat State Wildlife Department has also objected to moving the animals outside the state, suggesting they would be better off living in two other parks within their state.

Despite such disputes, Bhattacharya hopes that other big cat conservation projects can learn from the Asiatic lion.

“There’s an inspiration there for carnivore conservation around the world.”

 

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I am so excited we are making some progress with these beautiful lions. I hope it will continue and that they will not be poached.

Namaste

Barbara