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Koalas Are Near Total Extinction Due To Australia Bushfires, Wildlife Expert Warns

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Koalas Are Near Total Extinction Due To Australia Bushfires, Wildlife Expert Warns
Photo Credit: The Mind Unleased

The beloved koala is feared to be on the brink of total annihilation as wildfires continue to grip Australia, laying waste to the marsupials’ natural habitat.

While experts initially feared that hundreds of koalas died in the devastating bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland over the last two months, Deborah Tabart—chairman of the Australian Koala Foundation—estimates that over 1,000 of the creatures have been killed in the deforestation and blazes.

Now more than ever, this has left koalas “functionally extinct” and thus unable to recover, she told Daily Mail Australia.

According to BBC, the term “functionally extinct describes an animal population which has so few pairs that they are unlikely to produce a new generation. It also describes species who breed in such thinned-out amounts that they are especially susceptible to falling ill from disease.

Tabart explained that the death toll in the ongoing blaze has likely reached apocalyptic proportions in regard to the koala population. She said:

“If we combine all of the estimated deaths of koalas in the bushfires, there could be 1000 koalas that have been killed in the last two months.

“We know there are 31 koalas that have been killed in Port Macquarie, but I think that is not a high enough number.”

The koala expert also noted that at least 350 koalas were likely killed in the bushfires near the coastal township of Port Macquarie.

We are getting lots of contact from people asking how the burnt koalas are progressing. This is Lake Innes Nature Reserve Peter. He is eating well, and his burns are healing as we expected. Its early days yet for most of them. We currently have 31 from various fire grounds up and down the Mid North Coast of NSW. We thank you all for being so supportive, kind and caring. We still have three months of summer to go yet before any rain of any value is predicted to fall.
We are getting lots of contact from people asking how the burnt koalas are progressing. This is Lake Innes Nature Reserve Peter. He is eating well, and his burns are healing as we expected. Its early days yet for most of them. We currently have 31 from various fire grounds up and down the Mid North Coast of NSW. We thank you all for being so supportive, kind and caring. We still have three months of summer to go yet before any rain of any value is predicted to fall.

Similarly frightful fires have plagued koala habitats in places like Crows Nest and Lake Toowoomba, but a full account of dead koalas has yet to be taken into account.

Tabart fears the worst:

“We think there are 18,000 koalas in New South Wales alone, so the bushfires have had a massive impact on their population.”

And while some koalas may have survived, this doesn’t lessen the long-term risk the species faces. Tabart added:

“Because of deforestation and now the bushfires, there is so little habitat left and trees with eucalyptus take months to grow back.”

Climate change and arid conditions are also a threat to the koalas’ habitat, decreasing the likelihood of any recovery. The next quarter-century is not expected to entail much rain in the western regions of NSW.

This is L.I.N.R. Peter ( Lake Innes Nature Reserve) who has come from the Crestwood/Lake Innes fireground. He has burns to his hands and feet and singeing of 90% of the body. You can see he looks quite brown - that is the effects of radiant heat on his fur. We will give him and all the other wildlife that come through our doors, the best of care. You can Adopt L.I.N.R. Peter at the Koala Hospital website (Koalahospital.org.au) . Please don't forget all the other wildlife out there also suffering from the effects of fires - you can donate to FAWNA NSW inc, Friends of the Koala Lismore, Taree Koalas in Care. Thankyou!
This is L.I.N.R. Peter ( Lake Innes Nature Reserve) who has come from the Crestwood/Lake Innes fireground. He has burns to his hands and feet and singeing of 90% of the body. You can see he looks quite brown – that is the effects of radiant heat on his fur. We will give him and all the other wildlife that come through our doors, the best of care. You can Adopt L.I.N.R. Peter at the Koala Hospital website (Koalahospital.org.au) . Please don’t forget all the other wildlife out there also suffering from the effects of fires – you can donate to FAWNA NSW inc, Friends of the Koala Lismore, Taree Koalas in Care. Thankyou!

Koalas remain an internationally-recognized symbol of Australia that was even featured as the mascot for last year’s Commonwealth Games.

However, Tabart has accused the government of failing to offer proper protections to the species, such as passing the Koala Protection act written in 2016. She explained:

“They are equivalent to the Great Barrier Reef. Everyone wants to touch a koala, so you would think the government would want to do something to save them.

The plight of the Koala now falls on the Prime Minister’s shoulders.”

Koala hospitals have been inundated with badly injured and burned koalas, drawing the support of volunteers across the country.

Koala Hospital Port Macquarie team leader Amanda Gordon told Newshub that koala bodies are simply not turning up, which means that the population was likely decimated. She said:

“We’ve got teams going out on the fire grounds still as we speak, looking for wildlife. We are not seeing a lot, which means they’ve been burnt.”

Gordon’s hospital has raised over $1 million to help the injured marsupials—far more than the initial fundraising goal of $25,000.

Their campaign hopes to install automatic drinking stations for koalas in the areas devastated by the fires.

Donations began pouring in after dramatic footage emerged of a woman running into a raging brushfire to save an injured koala named Ellenborough Lewis. Video showed the koala, badly burned with patches of fur missing, running near the fires before the woman, Toni Doherty, saved him by pouring bottles of water on him and wrapping him in a blanket.

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Animal World

Pregnant, Starving Orangutan Clings To Final Tree As Bulldozers Destroy Her Rainforest Home

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Pregnant, Starving Orangutan Clings to Final Tree as Bulldozers Destroy Her Rainforest Home

John Vibes, The Mind Unleashed

As rainforests around the world continue to be destroyed by human societies seeking profits in the lush jungle, wild animal populations who have lived there since time immemorial have seen themselves displaced, often with nowhere to go.

And in Borneo, an island in Southeast Asia’s Malay Archipelago, animal rescue workers filmed the tragic moment when a desperate, heavily pregnant orangutan clung to one of the final trees standing in her formerly pristine rainforest home—right up to the moment when massive bulldozers destroyed what was left of it.

Boon-Mee was so weakened and traumatized that she couldn’t imagine leaving the tree trunk where she found sanctuary as heavy machinery ripped apart what used to be her home.

As a result, she was unable to forage for food to feed herself or her unborn baby, meaning she had nothing to look forward to besides death by starvation.

Across Indonesia, palm oil plantations have laid waste to what used to be the homes of orangutans like Boon-Mee, rendering the primates homeless in their formerly lush, rich homes in places like Borneo and Sumatra.

Every year, apes face slaughter at the hands of humans in the big agriculture industry, either by gun or machete. Such trends are reflected in alarming new figures showing that the orangutan population falls by up to 25 per day.

A century ago there were over 230,000 orangutans in Southeast Asia, according to the World Wildlife Fund. However, that number has now plummeted to 41,000 in Borneo and only 7,500 in Sumatra—the only two places where they can be found.

However, this story has a happy ending, because in this rare case the plantation owners had a heart and reached out to UK-based charity International Animal Rescue (IAR) to seek aid for the expecting mom.

An IAR team backed by local forest officials arrived on the scene after several hours of journeying through a still-smouldering forest that had just been freshly burned. When they finally arrived, they were shocked to find not only Boon-Mee but three other orangutans.

Among the three was Charanya, another mom who had just delivered her baby and was desperate to find food. Kalaya had also apparently just had a baby, and was lactating and semi-conscious—leading the IAR workers to believe that her baby had either died or was kidnapped to be someone’s pet.

Boon-Mee was still alive, but just barely—and was surviving on only tree bark, thus making her too weak to climb down the tree.

Rescuers were forced to eventually shoot her with a tranquilizer before catching her in a net.

IAR official Lis Key said:

“It’s heartbreaking to see the appalling state of these animals as their habitat is razed for the palm oil industry – they were weak from hunger. It’s a small comfort that this time rather than chase them off or kill them, the ­company did the right thing and ­contacted us.”

Palm oil is a vegetable oil that is extracted from the fruits and seeds of the oil palm—also known as the African palm—and is a common additive on supermarket shelves across the globe.

Oil extracted from the fruit of the palm is not only used in foods like instant noodles, yogurt, ice cream, and wine, but is also used in biofuel and a range of household products including laundry detergents, shampoo and cosmetic goods like lipstick.

Roughly 66 million tons of palm oil is produced each year, driving a trend that has seen forests burned and land robbed to make room for plantations, contributing greatly to global deforestation and the displacement of not only rural human populations, but local animal species endemic to the region.

Palm oil production has largely driven orangutans to the brink of extinction, with the species now classified as critically endangered. Bornean orangutan populations have fallen by more than half between 1999 and 2015.

This article (Pregnant, Starving Orangutan Clings To Final Tree As Bulldozers Destroy Her Rainforest Home) was originally published at The Mind Unleashed and is re-posted under Creative Commons.

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Animal World

Jon Stewart Turned His 45-Acre Farm Into An Animal Sanctuary To Rescue Abused Factory Farm Animals

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Jon Stewart Turned His 45-Acre Farm Into An Animal Sanctuary To Rescue Abused Factory Farm Animals
Jon Steward Animal Farm

Primarily known for being one of the most recognized TV show hosts and comedians of our time, Jon Stewart has recently become… an animal hero. That’s right, he can now also be known for rescuing and sheltering abused animals. Jon and his wife, Tracey Stewart, already turned their 12-acre farm into the New Jersey branch of Farm Sanctuary. Then, in October 2016, they bought another farm – Hockhockson Farm in Colts Neck, New Jersey.

Jon Stewart Turned His 45-Acre Farm Into An Animal Sanctuary To Rescue Abused Factory Farm Animals

They actually decided to buy the sprawling 45-acre farm just to create this animal sanctuary. When the state finally gave them the green light to turn the farm area into an animal rescue and education center it brought tears to Tracey’s eyes. The application process took a lot longer than expected because many local residents complained about noise and traffic in the area. But in the end, their motive behind saving animals got the vote of approval from the community.

“It’s one of those things like where after you give birth you forget about the pain,” Tracey told NJ Advance Media upon testifying in front of the town’s planning board. “So right now I’m feeling really good and positive.”

Among the first animals to take up residence at their farm are two piglets, named Anna and Maybelle who were rescued from a swine factory when they fell off the cargo loader during transfer; two goats; a bull; loads of more pigs; and many other animals!

The duo loves animals so much that Tracey has even written a book titled: “Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live, and How We Can Make Their Lives Better,” which focuses on living respectfully with many animals, like dogs, goats, and spiders.

Tracey has been vegan for a very long time. Jon, however, used to consume meat quite regularly. Tracey wrote in her book: “While I don’t eat animals, my husband does, and due to our mixed marriage, we have decided to present both diets to the kids and let them come to their own decision about how and what they want to eat.” But now even that has changed as Jon has turned vegetarian, something that surprised Tracey quite a bit. She said: “I know! It’s recent! It’s all happening! He’s nervous about saying it publicly because he doesn’t want to mess up. But he really is trying to figure out what vegetarian foods he likes, and I’m helping him with that. I’ll say to him, ‘Oh, you’re my new, sexy vegetarian boyfriend. Do you want to go to the vegan restaurant for lunch?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah!’”

Ever since Jon retired from The Daily Show, he has dedicated most of his time to caring for abused and neglected animals. As for now, the farm is still in its “nascent stage,” meaning it is not yet open to the public. Regardless, even though because it’s not open to the general public yet doesn’t mean the Stewarts haven’t been helping animals. If you’re interested in keeping up with farm life at Hockhockson Farm you can follow The Daily Squeal, which Tracey Stewart regularly updates with photos of rescued farm animals.

This article (Jon Stewart Turned His 45-Acre Farm Into An Animal Sanctuary To Rescue Abused Factory Farm Animals) was originally created for Intelligent Living and is published here under Creative Commons.

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Animal World

Tanzania Anti-Poaching Task Force Helps Elephant & Rhino Populations Increase

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Tanzania Anti-Poaching Task Force Helps Elephant And Rhino Populations Increase
Photo Credit: Intelligent Living

Worldwide, elephants and rhinos are classified as vulnerable and endangered. However, in Tanzania, both animals’ populations are increasing significantly. All thanks to a task force Tanzania formed to combat wildlife poaching.

Populations Rising

The government of Tanzania has declared the official numbers of the rising population of the elephants and rhinos. Since 2014 elephants have increased in population from 43,330 to over 60,000. Since 2015 rhinos have increased from only 15 to 167.

 Credit: Gary Bembridge
Credit: Gary Bembridge

Sky News reported a statement from the country’s government about the figures prior to 2014. In 2009, the official number of elephants in Tanzania was 110,000 but by 2014, poachers killed off more than half of the population.

The President’s office claims that in 2015 the rhino population was just 15 rhinos. That’s a very low number. However, the Independent reported that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) had a different number. CITES documented the rhino population was at 133 rhinos at that time. Either way, the rhino population is slowly increasing nonetheless. This is good.

What Is Poaching?

In 2016 Tanzania formed a task force to combat wildlife poaching. This task force is the reason why the populations of these animals are rising.

Wildlife poaching is the illegal killing of wild animals. Elephants are typically poached for their ivory tusks but sometimes their bodies are used for meat. Ivory tusks are used for jewellery or decor. While rhinos are poached for their horns. Rhino horns are used for Chinese medicine and as a status symbol. Additionally, sometimes there are the “trophy hunters,” which is when the hunter takes a proud photo next to the corpse then cuts the head off the poor animal and hangs it on their wall for display.

 Image from Africa Trophy Hunting
Image from Africa Trophy Hunting
The Ivory Queen

According to NPR, one of the big arrests was the infamous Chinese ivory trafficker that goes by the name of the “Ivory Queen.” The Ivory Queen was a major link between poachers in East African countries (including Tanzania) and ivory purchasers in China for more than a decade. Between 2000 and 2004 alone, she was responsible for smuggling over 800 pieces of Ivory to China. The Tanzanian government gave her a 15-year jail sentence.

Protection Awareness

Even with the elephants and rhino populations rising, Mark Jones, leader of Born Free Foundation, is far-sighted. He is happy with the government’s figures but takes them with a pinch of salt. Jones believes there is still much work to be done to properly protect the rhinos and elephants in Tanzania.

“This sounds like very good news but we should view these figures with caution until there’s independent verification – there’s no way that has occurred through breeding and protection alone. [Rhinos] mature late, have long gestation periods and don’t produce many young. Both species take a long time biologically to reproduce. Elephants are intelligent — they move across national borders to where they are safer, so if there’s been a clampdown on poaching in Tanzania, it may be that some have moved in.”

However, the government’s efforts should be acknowledged. Every new-born of majestic creatures is now getting extra protection due to these efforts. Hopefully, elephant and rhino populations in Tanzania will continue to rise.

This article (Tanzania Anti-Poaching Task Force Helps Elephant & Rhino Populations Increase) was originally created for Intelligent Living and is published here under Creative Commons.

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Animal World

Walruses Have Attacked & Sunk A Russian Navy Boat In The Arctic

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Walruses Have Attacked & Sunk A Russian Navy Boat In The Arctic
Photo Credit: Joel Garlich-Miller, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Wikimedia Commons)

A walrus attacked and sunk a Russian naval boat with scientists and media on board last week, according to a Russian Geographical Society press release.

All of the group’s participants were safely brought to shore, and no walruses were harmed.

The vessel was carrying researchers to Franz Josef Land, a Russian archipelago far above the Arctic Circle whose only human residents are military personnel. The trip stopped by various locales previously visited by 19th-century Arctic explorers, and its participants studied the glaciers as well as the plants and animals present on the islands.

Smaller boats brought participants between a main vessel and the islands. It was one of these crafts that a mother walrus reportedly attacked and sank, perhaps because she felt her cubs were being threatened.

Walruses are large, tusked marine mammals in the same pinniped clade as seals and sea lions. They inhabit icy Arctic waters and can weigh over a ton.

Walrus attacks on humans and their vessels aren’t uncommon, according to Lori Quakenbush, a biologist from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Arctic Marine Mammal Program (who was not on the Russian vessel). “We have to be careful during research not to get surrounded by ice and walruses without an escape route. Calves are curious and will approach a boat, which makes the mother aggressive to defend the calf,” Quakenbush told Gizmodo in an email. “Groups of young males can also be aggressive and dangerous to small boats.”

Quakenbush explained that walrus hunters have encountered walruses puncturing skin boats with their tusks or even flipping over aluminum boats.

In short, if you ever find yourself confronted by walruses, you better have an escape plan.

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