Sunday, July 7, 2013

Zoo News Digest 4th - 7th July 2013 (ZooNews 864)

Zoo News Digest 4th - 7th July 2013 (ZooNews 864)

What will we do without them?  

Dear Colleagues,

Let me defuse the rumours. I have neither been killed in a car accident in Surrey nor have I taken up a prestigious post in another zoo. I am fit and healthy and quite happy where I am thank you.

The ignorance of some people astounds me. Following on from some comments of the recent tiger accidents I found these two statements:

"It is ridiculous how fellow man can rate animal life over their own kind. Has it also not been proven that once these wild cats kill a man they continue to see man as prey. It is therefore dangerous to keep Samir. It must be put down!"

"There is something you people do NOT understand! Once a tiger or lion has tasted a human being, it will NOT eat anything ELSE than human beings, therefore the tiger or lion sadly NEEDS TO BE PUT DOWN."

Can you believe people can be so stupid? Well they are. Perhaps worse than the above is when I post a link or a comment on Facebook. There are some who will then comment who have obviously not read the article or my comment. Our teachers have a difficult job. I post to inform and educate and am frustrated by lack of attention and ignorance. No doubt you are too.

Whereas zoos are my main interest they are not the one and only. I am always keen to learn and experience other things. My most visited articles on other totally unrelated subjects this week were:

Not all of Zoo News Digest links and information appear here. Discover more with comments on the

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I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos, not DYSFUNCTIONAL zoos.


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Teen Mauled While Trying To Kiss Captive Lion
A volunteer worker at a wildlife park calls her survival a "miracle" after suffering severe flesh wounds during a lion attack.
A teenager has been mauled by a captive lion after she tried to kiss the animal through the bars at a South African wildlife park.
Lauren Fagen, of Montreal, suffered severe flesh wounds when the male lion dragged her feet and legs into the enclosure at Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
The 18-year-old volunteer worker is recovering in hospital and says she is lucky to be alive. "I didn't realise he could stick his paws through. I should have died or lost a leg," Ms Fagen told The Globe and Mail newspaper.
"It was a miracle that I survived. He

Pittsburgh Zoo responds to lawsuit over Pa. boy's death
A zoo in western Pennsylvania is seeking dismissal of portions of a lawsuit filed by the family of a 2-year-old boy who was mauled to death after falling into an exhibit of wild African dogs last fall.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of Jason and Elizabeth Derkosh against the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium seeks unspecified damages in the Nov. 4 death of their son, Maddox. The boy fell from a wooden railing after his mother lifted him up to get a better look at the painted dogs.
Defense attorneys maintain that the zoo shouldn't be held negligent or liable and ask the judge to dismiss the family's claim for punitive damages, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. Attorneys said zoos provide "great community value" and that there is generally little danger in viewing animals.
"Exhibiting wild animals at a public, nationally accredited, and federally licensed zoo — like the Pittsburgh Zoo — does not create an abnormal or unusual risk," they said.
The boy, who wore glasses, became the only visitor in the zoo's 116-year history to die when he unexpectedly lunged out of his mother's grasp atop the wooden railing and into a net meant to catch falling debris and

Damian Aspinall: 'I'm happiest with the animals'
The millionaire casino-owning environmentalist Damian Aspinall grew up surrounded by his father's 
exotic pets and almost all his friends were animals. Indeed, he still treats them as if they were extended family
As a boy, his best friends were bears and wolves, and later on his own children shared their nursery with a baby gorilla, who they treated as a big brother. Damian Aspinall, son of the legendary gambler and maverick zoo keeper, John Aspinall, grew up surrounded by his father's exotic pets and has passed on his all-consuming passion for wildlife to his children.
Amid sculptures of pouncing lions and leopards at home in Knightsbridge, he says: "It's magic crossing the species boundaries, and the greatest thing about being alive. You can't explain to people who don't have it."
The Aspinalls are well known for their special relationships with animals, adopting wild orphans and raising them alongside their children. "Some animal people have a deep-rooted connection, and it comes from very deep in here," he says, pounding on his heart.
"When you look at your cats or dogs and they look into your eyes, there's an understanding and a level of love like they're your children. You see their pain, you see their love and you instinctively understand their wants and needs. Imagine having that with primates and lions!"
The millionaire casino-owning environmentalist, once a staple of the international party circuit with supermodel girlfriends such as Naomi Campbell and Elle Macpherson, has devoted his life and fortune to conservation. He runs Howletts and Port Lympne wildlife parks in Kent as well as the Aspinall Foundation.
"Animals should have as much right to happiness as we do and to coexist on this planet, which is far more important than we are," he says. As we speak, Aspinall is preparing to repatriate a whole family of gorillas to their homeland this summer. "I'm very wary. It's like sending your children out into the world, knowing the dangers they'll face. Taking a group of adult gorillas and uprooting them from th

Oldest captive seal is dad again at 36
One of the oldest captive seals in Britain has become a father again at the age of 36.
Common seal Babyface - whose age is equivalent to 80 human years - fathered a pup with nine-year-old pool-mate Sija.
Staff at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary were surprised by the birth, having discovered Sija was pregnant only a few weeks ago.
Animal care team leader Tamara Cooper said: "I was shocked but delighted when I made my early morning rounds and found a beautiful newborn pup swimming around happily with h

Plastic Seduction

Dolphin Therapy Summed Up in Two Words: Big Scam
Dolphin-assisted therapy is not a valid treatment for any disorder, including autism.
Do dolphins have special, mystical powers than can heal the sick and reduce the symptoms of autism and other developmental disorders? An entire industry has sprung up around this utterly unproven belief, taking advantage of the deep bonds that humans yearn to experience with these animals, the most intelligent creatures of the sea.
Dolphin Assisted Therapy (DAT), where patients enter the water with captive dolphins at "swim with" facilities, is expensive. And according to scientists who have investigated the practice, there is no hard evidence to prove it is effective, or even safe.
TakePart has reported on swim-with-dolphin programs, even a couple seeking "dolphin-assisted birth." 
Dr. Lori Marino, a leading neuroscientist and dolphin expert at Emory University and The Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, is an unrelenting opponent of DAT, swim-with programs, and indeed any form of captivity for marine mammals. 
Marino recently published a blistering critique of DAT in Aeon magazine, and agreed to speak with TakePart about the industry's claims, myths, and potential dangers to humans and dolphins alike.
TakePart: Give us a brief history of swim-with-dolphins and dolphin-assisted-therapy (DAT) programs. When and where did they begin?
Dr. Lori Marino: DAT formally began through the efforts of the educational anthropologist Betsy Smith, then at Florida International University. In 1971 Smith watched as her mentally disabled brother waded into the water with two adolescent dolphins. She noted that the dolphins treated him gently as though they knew he was disabled. Soon after, Smith established therapy programs at two facilities in Florida, offering them free of charge. But she later concluded that DAT was ineffective and exploitative of both the dolphins and the human patients, and in 2003 she publicly denounced it, calling it "cynical and deceptive."
When did you start opposing them, and why?
The first time I heard about DAT was in the 1990s. At that time my colleague Scott Lilienfeld and I decided we would find out for ourselves whether there was any validity to it. I knew about dolphins, and he knew about therapy. So it was a perfect match. We conducted an extensive methodological analysis of all the published DAT studies at that time and concluded in our own 1998 paper that the studies were so poorly done that they could not support the claim that DAT is effective. We conducted a similar analysis on more DAT papers, came to the same conclusion and published our results in 2007. So I did not set out to “oppose” DAT but it was clear from the outset that this was an industry making unsubstantiated claims.
Is there an estimated number of swim-with/DAT centers, and dolphins held captive by that industry?
DAT has proliferated globally throughout Asia, Europe, Mexico, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean with several centers in the United States, mainly in Florida and Hawaii. It is uncertain how many dolphins are involved because it is difficult to obtain records from facilities in other countries. As many as 18 U.S. facilities offer some kind of "dolphin encounter" program, including DAT. The number of bottlenose dolphins currently living in captive facilities around the world is in the hundreds, with many thousands having perished in captivity.
Exactly what happens during a DAT session and how much do they cost?
DAT typically involves several sessions either swimming with or interacting with captive dolphins, while more conventional tasks, such as puzzles and motor exercises, are offered, which amounts to standard behavioral therapy in most cases. The typical price of DAT sessions is $2,000 to $6,000 dollars, not including travel and accommodations and it is important to note that the cost of DAT is significantly higher than what one would pay if one went to a traditional facility for the same kinds of therapeutic interventions without the dolphin. .
What promises do DAT centers make, especially for children with autism and other developmental disorders?
Proponents of DAT claim that it is effective f

Humane society to monitor animal distress from protesters at Bowmanville Zoo
Clarington decides against megaphone ban, calls for staff, humane society, police to ensure Bowmanville Zoo protests don't distress animals.
In an odd twist in the standoff between zoos and animal rights activists, Clarington’s municipal council will ask the humane society and police to ensure protesters at the Bowmanville Zoo don’t end up distressing animals.
Tuesday night’s council resolution came in response to a request from zoo owner Michael Hackenberger for the municipality to ban megaphones and other voice amplifiers within 50 metres of the zoo entrance.
It directs staff to work with the Durham Region Humane Society, police and the zoo to “help regulate any activity that may cause giraffes or other animals to be in distress.”
Protesters have held two recent rallies in front of the facility about 50 kilometres east of Toronto, calling for the retirement of Limba, a 50-year-old elephant.
Hackenberger said the racket, particularly megaphones, can distress animals. He’s particularly worried about a pair of giraffe youngsters who arrived several weeks ago and live at the front of the complex.
The young ungulates are a “consummate prey species” and naturally skittish, he said. A megaphone 
blaring the apparent e

Ex-finance director defrauded Parc Safari of almost $1 million
After a million-dollar fleecing by a former employee, Parc Safari in Hemmingford has obtained a Superior Court judgment ordering repayment, although it’s not clear it will ever recoup the money.
At the heart of the case was Ruth Eugène, who used to work for Parc Safari as director of finance 
and accounting.
Her duties included investing funds for the company in short-term instruments to tide it through the off-season.
Starting in 2006, Parc Safari’s banking institution began getting requests from her for transfers to various accounts.
The transfers totalled $978,569 and consisted of $743,734 to Actions Béthel du Canada Inc., a non-profit community organization that operated the evangelical church Eugène belonged to, $6,064 to herself, $13,509 to her spouse Jasmin St. Louis, $69,598 to her brother Yonel and $145,661 to his wife, Mari

Toronto zoo board debates mode of transport for moving elephants to sanctuary
Toronto’s zoo board met Thursday at city hall and discussed a plan to transport three elephants to a California sanctuary by ground.
The zoo and the Performing Animals Welfare Society sanctuary have been in talks with the Department of National Defence about transporting the elephants by military plane. The operation would be financed by former game-show host Bob Barker. But the department said in late May that it could not move the animals until at least the fall and stressed no decision had been made.
John Tracogna, the zoo’s chief executive officer, told the board he has received a plan that could 
see the elephants moved in trucks by mid-October.
Mr. Tracogna stressed that the plan, prepared by Active Environments, an animal management and 
animal training specialty company, was preliminary and must be studied.
He said that if the elephants are moved by ground they could be on the trucks for at least three to five days.
“We’ve got to go through the various aspects to see if it’s acceptable or if there’s any issues with it. It’s sort of a two-way dialogue,” he told reporters after the meeting.
Mr. Tracogna said there would be risks associated with moving the animals by ground, just as there would

Planes are out — now it’s trucks for Toronto elephant move
Unwilling to wait on a National Defence transport plane, Zoocheck and PAWS plan to move Toronto Zoo’s elephants on the ground in October.
Plans are now on the table to move the Toronto Zoo’s elephants to California by truck, and if everything falls into place the pachyderm trio will be leaving here in a few months’ time — around Oct. 11.
The PAWS sanctuary in California, and its representative here, Zoocheck Canada, are responsible for moving the elephants, and Julie Woodyer of Zoocheck says they’ve decided they’re unwilling to wait until the fall for National Defence’s decision on providing a transport plane to fly Toka, Thika and Iringa to PAWS.
PAWS and Zoocheck’s trucking plan for the zoo’s three remaining elephants was presented during a zoo board meeting at city hall Thursday.
oo CEO John Tracogna said in an interview that he is reviewing the “preliminary plans” and though moving the animals is PAWS’ responsibility, according to an agreement he must review, provide input, and ultimately sign off on the transportation plan.
He said that ideally the elephants will be moved before the end of the year, but he wouldn’t commit to a timeline for when he’d give approval to the moving plan.
“There’s still a bit of communicating between the parties involved to get to a plan that goes from preliminary to final,” Tracogna said.
But Woodyer says the PAWS/Zoocheck plan is preliminary in word only.“The bottom line is that’s the transportatio

Five Gallons a Day - worth a look

AMONG THE ANIMALS | WPZ Elephant Task Force considers sanctuaries
Many Seattleites may remember the two-part feature article last December by Seattle Times reporter Michael Berens in which he investigated a failed breeding program and intolerable conditions for elephants (Watoto, Bamboo and Chai) at the Woodland Park Zoo (WPZ) and other zoos. 
In subsequent coverage, The Seattle Times editorial board wrote, “Chai was subsequently the victim — not too strong a word — of 112 attempts to artificially inseminate her” and “Woodland Park Zoo should get out of the elephant-display business. Send Watoto, Bamboo and Chai to one of the handful of sanctuaries that exist. Let them live out their lives with room to move at will across truly open spaces.”
According to Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, this article prompted an enormous number of e-mails to her office from folks concerned about the elephants and calls to send them to a sanctuary. Since then, the Zoo board announced a task force to look at the issue. Its second meeting, held this May, covered the topic of sanctuaries, including issues of facility space and breeding policy. 
Elephant education
The task force began by hearing from Kristin Vehrs of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the accrediting body for zoos. Vehrs emphasized the AZA requires zoos to have three or more elephants to meet the animals’ social needs. I later learned that at least 20 zoos, including Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, have only two or even one lonely elephant, yet maintain their AZA accreditation. 
Closer to the topic of sanctuaries, Jackie Bennett of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries introduced its organization as the accrediting body for sanctuaries. The Global Federation works with animal sanctuaries worldwide. Such elephant sanctuaries in the United States are located in warmer, drier climates and have wide-open spaces measured in the hundreds to thousands of acres, in contrast to the divided one acre available to Watoto, Bamboo and Chai. 
In a sanctuary, elephants are free-roaming and live in soc

Solitary lemurs avoid danger with a little help from the neighbours
An endangered species of Madagascan lemur uses the alarm calls of birds and other lemurs to warn it of the presence of predators, a new study by researchers from the University of Bristol and Bristol Zoo with the University of Torino has found. This is the first time this phenomenon has been observed in a solitary and nocturnal lemur species.
Very little is known about the Sahamalaza sportive lemur (Lepilemur sahamalazensis), other than the fact it roosts during the day in rather open situations, such as tree holes, and therefore risks falling victim to predators from both the air and the ground.
Sportive lemurs are not kept in any zoo.  Prior to this research virtually nothing was known about this particular species despite the fact that it has been classified as Critically Endangered, the top threat category of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, at a red-listing workshop in Madagascar in July 2012.
Dr Melanie Seiler, a researcher at Bristol Zoo and the University of Bristol, and lead author of the study, said: "We were seeking any information we could gather that could help us understand this species better, with the objective of improving targeted conservation efforts.
"One of the problems of small nocturnal species is that they don’t get a great deal of scientific or conservation attention.  The Sahamalaza sportive lemur doesn’t have striking blue eyes like blue-eyed black lemurs or any other unusual features.  That means that no-one had really looked into what these animals need to survive."
Dr Marc Holderied of the University of Bristol said: "Until our study, a solitary and nocturnal lemur species had never been tested to see if it could understand other species' alarm calls and differentiate between them.  We were also the first to test any species of lemur to see if it could recognise the alarm calls of a non-primate species."
The researchers found that the vigilanc

French police on the lookout for black panthers
Police in southeastern France said they were on the lookout for black panthers following recent sightings and an analysis of tracks by an expert.
Investigators in the Toulon area said there have been several sightings in recent days of a black panther or possibly two black panthers in the region and helicopters are being kept at the ready, The reported Friday.
"The police are conducting patrols in the area and are waiting for the next sighting to trigger a helicopter search of the area," the police chief in the town of Var said.
Police said efforts were focused on the area between Toulon and the village of Revest-les-Eaux.
Jean-Pierre Georges, manager of the nearby Mont Faron Zoo, told the Var Matin newspaper he has 
analyzed tracks in the area and believes them to be big cats.
"There is no doubt it is a cat, probably a black panther. This is because there are some easily 
identifiable tracks. Cats have retractable claws

Theme Park History: A short history of SeaWorld San Diego
Disneyland opened in 1955, but it wasn't Southern California's first theme park. Knott's Berry Farm had slowly been growing over the past 20 years from a sit-down chicken dinner restaurant to a Ghost Town-themed park with a variety of attractions. And in 1954, Marineland of the Pacific opened in Palos Verde — the world's largest "oceanarium" park.
The initial success of Marineland provided a model for four UCLA graduates — George Millay, Milton Shedd, Dave Demotte and Ken Norris — to open another oceanarium down the coast in San Diego, after they decided their initial plan for an underwater restaurant with a marine show wasn't feasible. SeaWorld San Diego opened March 21, 1964. Located on the shore of San Diego's Mission Bay, reclaimed from a tidal marsh, the park is subject to substantial development restrictions from both the city and the California Coastal Commission, which limits how SeaWorld can develop the park to this day. For example, SeaWorld San Diego's version of the Manta roller coaster tops out at 30 feet, due to Coastal Commission restrictions.
Originally a 21-acre park, SeaWorld opened with sea lion and dolphin exhibits, but none of what would become its icon, killer whales. Fortunately, 1964 was a great year to open a theme park with dolphins, as the television show Flipper debuted that fall, making the species of marine mammal a national sensation. Unline rival Marineland's owners, SeaWorld's four owners aggressively reinvested their earnings back into the park, allowin

Perth bear-keeper Matt Hunt nominated for Pride of Australia Medal
A VOLUNTEERING holiday in Cambodia has turned into a 13-year labour of love for a Perth Zoo bear
-keeper fighting to save the world's smallest and rarest bear from extinction. 
Now, Matt Hunt's efforts have been acknowledged after he was nominated for a Pride of Australia Medal.
Mr Hunt manages a sanctuary run by Free The Bears Fund which houses 126 sun bears - mischievous animals  known as "honey bears" because they love nothing more than climbing trees to raid bee hives for sweet treats.
Named after a sunburst of white fur on their chests, the bears were once common in lowland forests of South-East Asia but are now threatened.
Habitat clearing has decimated their numbers, while poaching supplies a trade in body parts for traditional medicine. Cubs are also captured and sold as pets.
The jungles of Cambodia are a far cry from the United Kingdom where Mr Hunt studied animal husbandry before working as a bear-keeper at Perth Zoo.
But a visit to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, 40km from the Cambodian capital, during a working holiday was an experience that changed his life.
"I stopped off to volunteer for a few months that was 13 years ago and I'm still here," he said. "What keeps me here is not only the very real need for the work we're doing, but also how much can be achieved and what an impact you can have."
The 37-year-old oversees 25 staff as chief executive of Free the Bears Fund, a charity founded by Perth conservationist Mary Hutton that has worked with Cambodian authorities to house rescued bears since 1997.
"They spend all day digging for termites, ripping apart termite nests, climbing trees and breaking into bee hives," Mr

To Breed, to Dehorn or to Poison?
The debate on how best to conserve Africa’s dwindling rhino population rages on. Is flooding the market with legally harvested rhino horn an option or is injecting poison into the horns of wild rhino a better option? Asks Des Langkilde.
1,657 Rhinos have been killed for their horns in South Africa alone since 2010 and despite the arrest of 717 poachers over the same period (refer table below), the illegal trade seems to have no end in sight. Rhino horn is prized for its use as an aphrodisiac and hangover remedy among elitist Asian society – fetching up to US$55,000 per kilogramme in Asia — a price that can exceed the U.S. street value of cocaine, making the hoof-like substance literally as valuable as gold, but as useful a health remedy as the hair on your head.
Despite rhino horn’s proven uselessness as a medicinal aid, the demand is so great that thieves are stealing rhino horns from European museums and taxidermy shops, sometimes smashing them off with sledgehammers before fleeing. According to Europol, the European law enforcement agency, 72 rhino horns were stolen from 15 European countries in 2011, the first year such data was recorded.
The challenge faced by conservationists is how to preserve this species from rapid extinction.  This article explores a few of the more popular approaches.Farmed Horn Harvesting
Writing in the journal Science, lead researcher Duan Biggs and his colleagues contend that humanely shaving the horns of live rhinos could produce enough horns to meet global demand.
According to the scientists, rhinos grow about 0.9 kilograms of horn a year and contend that “farming” rhinos to “harvest” their horns would only pose minimal risks to the animals. A central selling organization could oversee the legal harvest and sale of rhino horn, which would sell for less than on the black market. A DNA- fingerprint could be taken from the horns’ shavings and make them traceable worldwide.
John Hume is a South African game farmer who owns more than 700 rhinos. He’s part of a group of entrepreneurs who agree with the findings of Biggs.
“We take wool from sheep, why not horn from rhinos?” Hume asked National Geographic. “If you cut the horn about three inches above its base, it will grow back in two years. That means there is a never ending supply of rhino horn if we’re smart enough to keep the bloody animals alive.”
Hume is frustrated with South African laws that require hunters to kill rhinos in order to export the horns as a trophy. He explains a few reasons for this law:
Among the misconceptions, Hume says, is that ivory and horn are the same. Ivory is an elephant’s tooth, while rhino horn is keratin, similar to a horse’s hoof. When an elephant’s tusk is severed, the nerve inside can become infected, killing the animal. Also, darting an elephant is much more dangerous than darting a rhino, because of its greater size and the protectiveness of its herd.
Hume also disputes the charge from conservationists that the legal and humane harvesting of rhino horn will simply encourage poachers. He believes as more legal horn enters the market, poachers will be driven out of the business by decreasing profits – eventually it just won’t be worth risking the jail time. “The fundamental difference is that poachers go after rhino horn for easy short-term profit. Farmers are in it for years of steady returns.”
According to Save The Rhino, Namibia was the first country to use dehorning to protect rhinos from poaching. Between 1989 and the early 1990s, dehorning coupled with rapid improvements in security and funding for anti-poaching was perceived by stakeholders to have contributed significantly to reducing poaching losses. However, for dehorning to be effective, it must be coupled with extensive anti-poaching security and monitoring efforts as poachers will still go after the stub of horn that is left after removal due to the current high prices and demand for rhino horn. Poachers may also kill dehorned rhinos out of vengeance. In Hwange NP, it was thought that poachers killed dehorned rhinos, to avoid tracking them again.
Just days after completing a dehorning campaign on all adult rhinos at Nambiti Private Game Reserve at Elandslaagte, near Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal, the reserve lost two sub

Greed beats logic: why a legal rhino horn trade won’t work
It’s nearly three full years until the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) takes place in South Africa.
Yet a propaganda battle – or charm offensive, if you’re feeling expansive – is already under way in a bid to win over hearts and wallets if not minds to secure international approval for a legal trade in rhino horn, overturning a ban which has been in place for more than 30 years.Edna Molewa, South Africa’s Water and Environmental Affairs Minister, and her delegation were doing the groundwork for a horn trading mechanism at CITES CoP16 in Bangkok this March.
She was quoted in the press as stating: “We believe it is the right direction as one of the measures [to curb rhino poaching]. The model that we have is based on pure law of supply and demand. Economics 101. Our rhinos are killed every day and the numbers are going up. The reality is that we have done all in our power and doing the same thing every day isn’t working.
“We do think that we need to address this issue of trade in a controlled manner so that we can at least begin to push down this pressure.”
It’s a stretch of the imagination to conceive that Molewa and her colleagues in Government aren’t seriously considering pressing their home advantage when CoP17 rolls into Durban.
And they’re not alone. Private rhino farmers in South Africa comprise a powerful lobby, and have also begun to implement their own strategies to pave the way for legalising a trade in rhino horn, touting the move as the only viable way of saving the rhino from extinction in the face of appalling, and rising, levels of poaching (as of May 30, a total of 367 rhino have been poached – 247 of them in the Kruger National Park).
But, to paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies, ‘they would, wouldn’t they?’
For years, many rhino farmers have been dehorning their animals as an anti-poaching safeguard, but instead of destroying the legally worthless horn they’ve been storing it in bank vaults in anticipation of the day they’ll be able to sell it, leaving some of them sat on stockpiles which could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars if allowed onto the market.
The pro-trade lobby’s arguments are simple enough, albeit freighted with a horrible sense of déjà vu: efforts to curb poaching are failing due to huge demand from Asia, so the best way to preserve rhinos is to flood the market with the huge stockpiles of horn

Is walking with lions good conservation? Probably not.
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 provi

Businessman sells remaining rhino
Fred Kinnear speaks out as he loses three more rhinos to poaching
A local businessman has had enough of rhino poaching and is selling the 11 rhino he has left after four more of the animals had been slaughtered on his game lodge.
In the meantime, government hopes to obtain international approval for a once-off sale of its 18 tons of rhino horn in an attempt to curb poaching.
However, the proposal will only be discussed in 2016 during the 17th Conference of Parties (Cop) to Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) which is scheduled to take 
place in South Africa.
Conservationists are divided about whether this trade should be legalised. Some believe it will decrease the price of rhino horn on the black market dramatically, making it less profitable for poachers to continue with the slaughter. Others warn that, although we have thousands of horns to push into the market, the demand is millions and legalising it will therefore only offer a temporary solution.
Mr Fred Kinnear, who owns Hannah Game Lodge near Orighstad, has lost four white rhino in less than two weeks. One of his bulls was poached on Saturday June 22. On Monday, his staff fed lucern to the remaining rhino. "The poachers must have watched us. Shortly after we left, they moved in and killed three of the animals - a bull, cow and her 14-month-old calf. The latter collapsed and died on its knees."
Although the rhino had been dehorned last year, the poachers mutilated the animals' faces for the stumps.
A fourth one was severely wounded and is currently being treated by a vet of Mpumalanga Tourism 
and Parks Agency. "I started out with 20 rhino, I have 11

Adventurous couple Dana Jansen and Sam Mitchell buy Kangaroo Island zoo park
REAL-LIFE events have inspired adventurous couple Dana Jansen and Sam Mitchell to buy their own zoo.
But rather than the hit Matt Damon movie, We Bought a Zoo, it was the wildlife conservation work of Steve Irwin which led them to buy the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park.
Dana, 22, and Sam, 23, this week officially took over at the park, previously owned by Russell and Shirley Ross for 22 years.
Mr Mitchell said they would follow in the footsteps of childhood hero Steve Irwin and hoped they could emulate his success on a smaller scale.
"I followed Steve Irwin throughout my childhood and I've got all his books and films," he said. "We want to educate people about wildlife conservation and promote its importance for the next generation through hands-on experience."
Their new business, about 3km west of Parndana in the centre of the island, is in one of the world's great island eco-tourism destinations. The Rosses built up an enviable collection of Australian wildlife on 20ha of land. It includes more than 100 species and 1500 animals, mos

Review: At Lujan Zoo you can walk with the animals
An hour west of Buenos Aires in Argentina is a spot where tourists don't often visit. Lujan Zoo will give the visitor more memories than just Tango lessons.
When you go to Buenos Aires and get tired of the Tango, churros or empanadas, then catch the number 57 bus westward to Lujan.
Waiting for you are lions and tigers and bears. Lujan Zoo is one of only 30 zoos in the world where you can walk with the animals, inside the cages, and the only one in South America.
"My father has always loved animals," said Santiago Saimento, Zoo Administrator. "This is his dream and I'm happy I can experience a part of his dream each day."
Started in 1994 as a shelter for abandoned dogs, the zoo eventually became home to chimps who had gotten bigger and lost the “oh-isn’t-he-cute” that their owner thought when they bought the critter in the Brazilian rain fo


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