Archive for DRC

Feathered Extinction: Habitat Loss and Illegal Trade Threaten Doom for Africa’s Parrots, World Parrot Trust Africa to the Rescue!

Posted in Birds, World Parrot Trust with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2010 by drsteveboyes

Parrots have the largest number of threatened species of all bird families.  Over 100 of the 332 known parrot species are threatened with extinction in the wild, and the declines of about 78 of these are being fueled by habitat loss and fragmentation.  Roughly 39 are heavily pressured by capture and nest poaching for the wild-caught bird trade.

Photo credit: Chuck Bergman

Cavity-nesting forest specialists, like our African parrots, are particularly sensitive to forest degradation due to their reliance on large hardwood trees for sustenance and nesting opportunities.  Deforestation rates in Africa are the second highest world, claiming over four million hectares of forest cover every year.  Logging, wildfire, tree felling for use as fuel, the booming charcoal production industry, civil unrest, and conversion of land for agriculture and expansion of the human population are the primary forces driving the rampant destruction of critical African parrot habitat.

Deforestation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (photo credit: Daniel Beltra)

A recent review of the Meyer’s Parrot range revealed that 15 of the 18 nations this species inhabits had undergone significant losses in forest cover.  Deforestation rates of 15% and higher were not uncommon and several countries, such as Kenya and Malawi, have less than 1% of their original forested area remaining.  Unfortunately, a lack of records over the last 30-40 years prevents us from being able to assess the effects of deforestation on bird populations.  We simply do not know how well African parrots are adapting to their rapidly changing environment.

Meyer’s Parrot (photo credit: Cyril Laubscher)

The World Parrot Trust Africa seeks to coordinate a continent-wide survey of all African parrot species over the coming years to determine which species are of immediate priority for conservation intervention.  The goal is to secure healthy populations of all African parrot species and sufficient suitable habitat, while also providing them adequate protection.

Photo credit: Steve Boyes   

Unregulated trade in African parrots peaked in the 1980s and ’90s, and still exists today.  This lucrative black market industry is fueled by profiteering middlemen who exploit wild bird populations.  In 2005, the Senegal Parrot was the most traded bird on the CITES Appendix II, with over 45,000 individuals being removed from forests each year.  In Namibia, cross-border trade in wild-caught Ruppell’s Parrots in the 1990s resulted in their disappearance from many parts of this species’ distributional range where they were once abundant. Today, African parrots remain among the most traded in the world.

Wild birds are sometimes smuggled in plastic bottles.

According to the most conservative estimates, over three million African parrots have been snatched from the wild over the last 25–30 years.  As can be seen in Table 1 (below) there are, several species, such as the African Grey Parrot, have been almost exclusively sourced from the wild over the last few decades.  Immense and insatiable demands from China, Taiwan, Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia are driving international trade in African parrots.

In South Africa, a legal loophole allows these birds to be legally imported into the country, as long as they have been checked and approved by a South African veterinarian before leaving the source country.  This allows for thousands of wild-caught African Greys to be imported into South Africa every year, from sources like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and West Africa.  Most of these parrots then enter the local market, but the best specimens are re-exported to the fast-growing markets in the Middle East and, especially, in the Far East.

African Greys seized from illegal trade (photo credit: PASA/WPT)

There are three things we need to do to protect all wild populations from the devastating impacts of this trade.  First and foremost, we must minimise the number of African parrots being taken from the wild.  Secondly, we must also support captive breeders that adhere to strict guidelines and standards concerning the animals’ care and well-being.  Finally, it is imperative that we get out into the African forests and determine whether the continued removal of parrots from their habitat poses a serious threat of extinction or if it is, in fact, sustainable.

 

Jardine’s Parrot for sale in west Africa (photo credit: Greg Shaw)

 

Africa’s parrots are charismatic, colourful, and larger than life. They have found their way into the hearts and minds of private collectors, parrot enthusiasts, and aviculturalists around the world.  Most African parrot breeders that I interact with are extremely passionate about these birds and have specialized in raising our Poicephalus parrots, Agapornis lovebirds, and the iconic African Greys.  The connection fostered between bird-keepers and captive birds can be profound, and can provide us with insights that cannot be achieved through field research.

Lillian’s Lovebird (photo credit: Dominique Schreckling)

We need to use this resource to the birds’ advantage and draw on the keepers’ passion for these animals to stimulate positive change for wild populations of African parrots. Bird-keepers and aviculturalists must realize the important role they can play in the conservation and research of the forest icons.  I would like to call upon global birdkeepers to join World Parrot Trust Africa and become part of this constructive movement towards a future that holds healthy African parrot populations in the wild, attained with the support of a well-managed captive community of feathered ambassadors around the globe.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

We, on the African continent and around the world, are the proud custodians of a unique group of parrots native to the forests and savannas of this wild and primordial continent.  We must recognise our responsibilities as stewards of these “forest ambassadors”, and take action to ensure a bright future for them.  Please help World Parrot Trust Africa support them on this rapidly changing continent.

Photo credit: Cyril Laubscher

To join the World Parrot Trust Africa, and for more information on how you can get involved in or contribute to African parrot conservation projects (e.g. Cape Parrot Project), please contact me at: boyes@worldparrottrust.org or PO Box 149, Hogsback, 5721, South Africa.

 

Learn about Bush Warriors’ alliance with World Parrot Trust by clicking here.  Together we are on a mission to raise awareness about the plight of the world’s parrots, with goal of changing the future for these majestic creatures and preventing their extinction!

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Organization of the Day: Gorilla Doctors

Posted in Organization of The Day with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2010 by Dori G

Today only 720 Mountain Gorillas populate the earth, and in only two parks (Uganda/Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of Congo). Dr. Dian Fossey founded what was originally called the Volcano Veterinarian Center in 1986. After studying Gorilla’s behavior and interaction with their environment she discovered that their population was declining rapidly, likely due to their interactions with humans. She decided to start a veterinarian project dedicated to the Gorillas. Sadly, she did not live to see the success, but today the project is known as Gorilla Doctors.

After years of research, scientists found that the secret to saving the lives of these animals existed within medical care. The largest threat facing these animals is disease, contracted through interaction with humans, other animals, and factors of their environment. Their research has found that people, mountain gorillas, and cattle share genetically identical intestinal pathogens, making them susceptible to diseases.

The Gorilla Doctors are a team of highly talented vets who intervene when needed and help nurse the Gorillas back to health. Seeing as the health of the Gorillas depends on the health of the people interacting with them, Gorilla Doctors also provide health care for their employees. Within the last ten years they have been able to increase the population of the Mountain Gorillas by 17%, and only hope to increase that number. These veterinarians are fully dedicated to their research, which has been groundbreaking, and to the survival of these precious gentle giants.

To learn more, please click here…..

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Organization of the Day: J.A.C.K.

Posted in Organization of The Day with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2010 by Dori G

In 1960 the estimated population of chimpanzees was estimated at around one million individuals. Today the estimates have been dramatically reduced to 172,000 to 300,000 remaining, a decline of on the scale of 70-83%. Roughly 40% of this population is living within the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), an area where conservation efforts are greatly limited because its dangerous, war-torn conditions. The fact that a large portion of the chimp population inhabits the DRC makes this area essential for targeting conservation efforts in order to save this species. Chimpanzees there are being poached and removed live from their habitat to be sold in the black market for bushmeat and other illegal purposes like pet trade. Infant chimps are highly valuable in the pet trade as they are more manageable at that age. As they reach sexual maturity, their behavior becomes unmanageable and dangerous, as hormones fuel their now aggressive behaviors.

Chimpanzees are a highly social creature, relying on their tight social group to survive and aggressively protect their young. Thus capturing an infant is dangerous and difficult, and it is estimated that ten adult chimps have been killed for every one infant that has been captured or orphaned due to poaching activities. Immediate action is needed to prevent the extinction of this species. Founded in 2006 by Franck and Roxanne Chantereau, the self-funded Jeunes Animaux Confisqués au Katanga (J.A.C.K.) has taken a brave stand and created a protected refuge in Lubumbashi for chimps confiscated by DRC authorities. The Chantereaus have been doing their best to monitor the chimpanzees in the Lubumbashi area, and,have seen a loss in excess of 4,000 chimpanzees in Lubumbashi in the last 10 years alone. J.A.C.K also works with Congolese National Parks in hopes to eventually facilitate the return of their orphans into the wild. Wildlife conservation is not at the forefront of the minds of the povery-stricken, starved, and malnourished human population of the DRC. Their main concerns are focused on finding food by any means possible, which often includes bushmeat. In fact, their desperation might even be seen in their language, as the Swahili word for wildlife, “nyama”, is the same word used for “meat”.

Photo credit: Miriam Mannak

As a result of these conditions, J.A.C.K tries to raise awareness through educating the local people, believing conservation needs can be met through education. They have been extremely successful in their efforts with an estimated 12,000 local visitors to their facility each month, most being school children. J.A.C.K hopes their conservation efforts and messages will be carried into the future by the younger generations. The organization continues to expand, hoping to be able to develop even more educational activities within their refuge where children can view conservation videos and have a more interactive experience. Taking a stand in a place where most are too afraid to act, J.A.C.K’s efforts are nothing short of commendable. Without their sanctuary, it is certain that a far greater loss of the DRC’s invaluable chimp population would have occurred.

Photo credit: Miriam Mannak

 

To learn more, please visit their website.

 

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UN Helicopters Successfully Rescue Baby Gorillas

Posted in Africa: Primates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2010 by kendickjerkins

UN peacekeepers from the Congo have successfully airlifted endangered baby gorillas out of the conflict zone where they were rescued.  The four babies were flown from the conflict zone in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Kasugho Sanctuary in the North Kaivu province on Tuesday.  Six other gorillas are to be flown into the sanctuary on June 10 in an attempt to help the the other four form a sustainable, viable population back in their natural habitat.  The illegal trade in bush meat and live baby gorillas has been a boon to local militant groups, and this rescue mission is hoped to be a first step in both saving the gorillas and helping to stop the war.

Human conflict in Congo is constantly claiming casualties

A gorilla mother and her baby.

Baby gorilla rescued from Illegal trafficker

To read the full article about the air lift click here

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The last stand of the Apes: On the brink of Extinction, Humans Vs Apes.. on the front lines of the biggest battle on our planet

Posted in Africa: Primates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2010 by kendickjerkins

If someone were to destroy your grandmother’s house in order to sell the materials for a profit would you be OK with it?  Unfortunately our race, the  human race, is doing that exact thing to our closest living relatives in Africa.  Habitat exploitation, poaching for bush-meat  as well as the introduction of new diseases is destroying the last hold out populations of chimpanzees and gorillas.  At the current rate, soon there will no longer be any wild chimpanzees or gorillas and according to experts minimum of  $30 million dollars is needed if we plan on conserving these species on our planet.

“This devastating mix of threats leaves us on the brink of losing some of our closest living relatives,” said Russell A. Mittermeier, president of Conservation International and chairman of the Primate Specialist Group of IUCN-The World Conservation Union’s Species Survival Commission. “Protecting gorillas and chimps is not just important in its own right. These animals are also flagship species, important symbols for vast areas of forest that are among the richest on Earth. Protecting them protects many other species as well.”

A western lowland gorilla

A western lowland gorilla baby with a silverback male.

A baby chimpanzee.

PLEASE NOTE: Photos Below are of explicit nature

Dead Chimp on to be sold in the local market for bushmeat

Gorilla head to be sold in local market

A monkey split in half; common fare alongside the logging roads of equatorial Africa

To read the full article click here

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Environmental Crime and Conflict in the Congo Basin: The Last Stand of the Gorilla – A report by UNEP & Interpol

Posted in Africa: Primates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 12, 2010 by kendickjerkins

Gorillas, the largest of the great apes, are under renewed threat across the Congo Basin from Nigeria to the Albertine Rift: poaching for bushmeat, loss of habitat due to agricultural expansion, degradation of habitat from logging, mining and charcoal production are amongst these threats, in addition to natural epidemics such as ebola and the new risk of diseases passed from humans to gorillas.

Alarmingly, parts of the region are experiencing intensified exploitation and logging of its forest, in some cases even within protected areas. In the DRC, many of these activities are controlled by militias illegally extracting natural resources such as gold, tin and coltan as well as producing charcoal for local communities, urban areas, camps for people displaced by fighting and sometimes even to communities across the border.

A victim of the human conflict between militia & conservation groups

These militias are located, motivated, armed and financed directly by this illegal extraction of minerals, timber and charcoal. A network of intermediaries including multinational companies or their subsidiaries, neighboring countries and corrupt officials, are involved in the transportation and procurement of resources which stem from areas controlled by militia, or for which no legal exploitation permission exists.

Rangers destroying a charcoal kiln in an effort to fight deforestation and illegal exploitation of resources by militia

To read the full report from The United Nations Environment Programme, click here

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The Last Stand of the Gorilla: Guerrilla Warfare has beocome a MAJOR threat for Mountain Gorilla Survival

Posted in Africa: Primates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2010 by kendickjerkins

Scientists warn that all gorillas could be killed in the Congo River Basin by the mid 2020s if action is not taken.  Militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have greatly exacerbated the poaching problem by smuggling bush meat through the same channels as timber, diamonds, and gold.  The UN Environmental Program (UNEP) warms that the current rate of habitat destruction and poaching on gorillas is well above a sustainable level.

An orphaned gorilla from near the Loanga National Park

Malnourished Orphaned baby gorilla for sale in local market

Current distribution of gorillas in Africa

A gorilla being butchered for sale at a bush meat market

Click here to read the full article

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