Reversing extinction: Marwell zoo and the scimitar-horned oryx

Declared extinct in the wild back in 2000, this species is now not only re-established in the wild, but has a big enough population to now only be listed as endangered (down from critically endangered).

Apart from supplying individuals for the reintroduction, Marwell zoo also helped with strategy.

The video below is just 2 minutes long. While it talks about Marwells other work as well, it shows a number of these animals living wild back in Africa.

This has got to become the reason for zoos. What ever else they do, there are many species at risk of extinction in the wild, these need to have enough captive individuals to re-establish wild populations, should the current conservation fail.

Of course, zoos have many other roles, from education, to fostering a love of wildlife in the next generation.

One thing that they should not be, is a curio house- many zoos are far to worried about displaying albino or melanistic individuals. Now while these individuals are fascinating and can be used as ambassadors for the species, their genetic health should be looked after (all white tigers are descended from one female, and closely related individuals are regularly bred togerther to ensure this trait is passed down. Indeed, as a result of this, white tigers are often not of good health.

The majority of zoos are now like Marwell – while like many, it started as the private zoo of wealthy owners it has turned into an important place of conservation and science. Another of their successes, is the cooperative breeding that occurs as standard in current times, across Europe. Regular loaning of animals is essential, so that we can treat all of the zoo animals in Europe as one single population, thereby  making sure that all animals in the system are healthy.

There are many hundreds of zoos across Europe (some claim as many as 2000, though around 1500 is the estimated worldwide number suggesting that this is a rather large exaggeration. It is likely that around half of the worlds zoos are in Europe, and by cooperative breeding, we can make sure that healthy populations remain in captivity, so that should a population be lost from the wild, it can be returned, when the wild situation improves.

Almost all predictions about human population are expected to peak in the coming decades, and then decline after that. If this pattern is followed, it should be expected that we will need to re-establish wilderness in the future. 

Scimitar-horned oryx have been returned to the wild in Tunisia, and Chad and there are plans to return them to the wild in Niger, in the near future.

Extinction was caused by a variety of features, but the primary one was over-hunting. This has virtually been eliminated, after a ban on hunting of this species was put into effect in 2013. Should this species be allowed to fully recover. In 1985, there was a population of at least 500 of this species living in the wild, so it took only 15 years for it to disappear, as such what is clearly essential is a regular assessment on how this species is faring, allowing earlier interventions.

Saving the natural world, may require this kind of success to be a regular feature.

Lynx (eurasian)

Eurasian Lynx

Eurasian Lynx: found across Russia, down into central Asia, Eastern and Northern Europe: After reaching its minimum around the middle of the 20th century, it has recovered in different directions. While no where near its natural numbers in much of its range, it has expanded numbers in the north in Scandinavia, and the north-west Scandinavia. Reintroduction schemes have also reintroduced them to the Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland (and France) and Poland. There are currently thought to be around 50,000 left in the wild, however their distribution is highly varied from country to country, and there are many areas where they are locally extinct.

 

A flurry of wolves born in California: are they making a comeback?

Grey wolves from Oregon now appear to be thriving in California (where they disappeared from about 100 years ago).

Wolves and cubs in California

Wolves have never been reintroduced to California, instead they were returned to Yellowstone, re-entered Oregan back in 1999, and then entered California in 2008.

Short of a sudden sustained assault on their numbers, they are back in California and are likely to multiply over the next few decades to take back up their position as apex predators. This should not be feared in any way, with sensible management, it could end up benefiting California, with healthier ecosystems, less car crashes caused by wildlife amongst many other benefits.

Lion

Photo credit Ross Couper

Lion

Altaileopard https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Altaileopard – Own work using: File:Lion_distribution.png Scientific source: Bertola, L. D., Jongbloed, H., Van Der Gaag, K. J., De Knijff, P., Yamaguchi, N., Hooghiemstra, H., … & Tende, T. (2016). Phylogeographic patterns in Africa and high resolution delineation of genetic clades in the lion (Panthera leo). Scientific Reports, 6, 30807.

Lions- often referred to as ‘The king of the jungle’ (odd as they are rarely found in the jungle) are usually one of the animals visitors want to see if not the main one.

They are very impressive and it is understandable why they are popular. No other predator dares lie out dozing in the open plains all day.

However over the last few decades, lion declines have been horrific, with declines of more than 2/3 since the 1960s.

Lion conservation is important, because to have a thriving lion population, you need a very large protected area, and an intact ecosystem- so all the other animals benefit. I have used a large variety of sources to compile this, but one study of great interest is “Lion conservation in West and Central Africa” by Hans Bauer, published in 2003. In 1996 the estimate for the lion population in Africa was thought to be between 30,000 and 100,000, however the IUCN African Lion Working Group suggested a more realistic number was 18,000-27,000. They also suggested, that of 38 reserves and parks across these regions that used to have lions, they are definitely lost from 23.

The Asiatic lion is different; Its only current home in Asia, is the Gir forests of western India. However, something that many people do not know is that the Asiatic lion population of Gir is a tiny relict of possibly the largest spread lion subspecies. The Asiatic lion still exists in Africa – the western and northern lion population are very closely related to the Asiatic lion and are thought to have last naturally interbred a few centuries ago. Importantly, they are still so genetically similar that they are not different sub species. This is important, as it means that only just over half of the Asiatic lions live in and around Gir, the rest live in Africa. I hope to add many more destinations over time. If you run safari lodge or camp or tours please do get in touch through the above link “list your wild place”. We are keen to list as many of the places to see wild lions as possible. 

It should be noted, that in historic times the Asiatic lion population spread as far as Spain, though the last ones were likely lost around the time of Jesus. Asiatic lions survived in the Caucuses for far longer, surviving until around the end of the first millennium (1000AD). Ecologically, the conditions of Southern and Eastern Europe have not changed much in the last millennium. However, until a significant change in human habitation, there is no space for lions to return to this area.

Current estimates suggest that at most there are 20,000 lions in Africa (Some suggest 20,000-25,000, though LionAid did a thorough assessment of the lions on the continent in 2020 and came up with just 9200). If this lower number is correct, then there is no longer more than 10,000 wild lions in the world. Having said that, below is the 5 largest populations, which are relatively well known, and these add up to above that number. Time will tell.

As keystone species, and apex predators, lions are incredibly important, as such it is a species that is followed closely on this website.  On each tab, you will find a list of articles about that species. Find below a list of articles on lions, below that is links to places we list where you can see lion. Please note, tab 2 and 3 refer to two separate populations of the Asiatic subspecies if only recently confirmed through genetic testing.

 

As you can see from the map above, the name African lion is not particularly accurate, given that half of Africa was inhabited by the Asian Lion. Still, even taking into account this number of African lions which belong to the Asiatic lion subspecies, still the population of African lion subspecies account for the majority of lions left in the world. It should be noted, that while Tanzania is still claiming a lion population of 14,000-15,000 Lionaid survey in 2020 claimed around 9600 in the world, so someone is definitely wrong. The image at the top of the page is an African Lion.

Over time, I hope that the destinations that we list on this site will grow fast, but for now we list the large lion ecosystems- hopefully with a few more coming soon

1. Kruger national park, and the greater Limpopo 2500                          

2. Serengeti and surrounding reserves 3000 

3. Kalahari Zambezi 1500 (though with the size of this

 reserve, there is space for much growth)

4. Selous (Nyerere national pakr 4000-5000 though as most of this vast reserve is set aside for hunting, much if it is unavailable to photographic safari (latest survey suggests 4300)

5. Ruaha national park (Tanzania) 4000

This accounts for around anything from 40% up to 64% (it is likely to be at the top end of this estimate as this includes the biggest lion populations of Africa) on the lions of african depending on which estimate you trust. Indeed, given Lionaids estinate, it accounts for as much as 167%.  We hope to add other populations in the coming years.

While it is undeniable that the lion populations in the East and South of the continent have reduced, there would have to have been a significant population in west and north of the continent as well. While, clearly, much of this space has been lost to human expansion, there is still much space for a great increase in this population, whether it ever gets a chance to grow is something we will have to wait and see.

Known as Panthera Leo Leo, the Asiatic Lion is more complicated than once thought. Historically found throughout North, West and Central Africa, Large parts of Asia as well as throughout Southern Europe. Different parts of this huge area have been lost at different times. Oddly despite this, it appeared to be officially forgotten for some time, so that only recently it was demonstrated genetically that the West African lion and the Central African lion are the subspecies as the Asiatic lion, and as such there ar

e actually more Asiatic lions in Africa. As such, the Asiatic lion is split into 3 clades. Which will be handled separately.

So here, the west African Lion clade:

1. W-Arly-Pendjari Transfrontier park was estimated to hold 250-500 members (it should be noted that it is likely close the botto at the current time)

2. Senegal’s Niokolo-Koba national park formerly a stronghold, the number of lions as low as 30 at the moment (down from as high as as 120 in 1996)

3. Waza national park, Cameroon is was thought to host 14-21 lions in 2010, I  dont know what has happened since

4. Kainji Lake National Park, Nigeria is thought to host around 30, while Yankara may only have 5 left.       

5. Bénoué ecosystem: (Faro, Bénoué and Bouba-Ndjidda national parks as well as 32 hunting areas, covering 30,000 square km) contains 250 lions 

Are these over-estimates? A significant number of sources claim just 250 in the world, though others suggest around 400. Having said that, should we assume the minimum population for the WAP complex and Benoue estimate being accurate (studies are recent and thorough) this gets us to to over 400 already. 

 

What is unfortunate though is the populations in the other 3 reserves. 

Having said that, back around 1900 there was only an estimated 20 lions left in India, so a similar recovery could give each of these reserves a 400 population in 50 or so years. I would estimate given the reliability of these numbers that at the time of the study in 2020 the total population numbered around 800. though even half of this would be enough for a recovery over a relatively short term.

The western and the central lion population was (relatively recently) far larger. 1900 it is thought that there may have been as many as 200,000. Even as recently as 1970 there were thought to have been 90,000.

Unfortunately, at the current time, I have no links in these place – but would love to, please get in touch if you work in one of these reserves, we would love to help people find you.

 

Known as Panthera Leo Leo, the Asiatic Lion is more complicated than once thought. Historically found throughout North, West and Central Africa, Large parts of Asia as well as throughout Southern Europe. Different parts of this huge area have been lost at different times. Oddly despite this, it appeared to be officially forgotten for some time, so that only recently it was demonstrated genetically that the West African lion and the Central African lion are the subspecies as the Asiatic lion, and as such there are actually more Asiatic lions in Africa. As such, the Asiatic lion is split into 3 clades. Which will be handled separately.

So the central African lion is thought to have a population of around 2200 (as of 2015-2016): I have not been able to calculate a proper number for this, I hope to have more information in the future.

 

Asiatic lion from the Gir fores

Known as Panthera Leo Leo, the Asiatic Lion is more complicated than once thought. Historically found throughout North, West and Central Africa, Large parts of Asia as well as throughout Southern Europe. Different parts of this huge area have been lost at different times. Oddly despite this, it appeared to be officially forgotten for some time, so that only recently it was demonstrated genetically that the West African lion and the Central African lion are the subspecies as the Asiatic lion, and as such there are actually more Asiatic lions in Africa. As such, the Asiatic lion is split into 3 clades. Which will be handled separately.

So the North African and Asiatic clade: The north African lion, otherwise known as the Barbary lion, was lost some time ago (the last one was shot in 1942). However, there has been much discussion about reintroducing them to Morocco, for some time. It could well be done in the near future. 

The rest of this clade (remembering that the West and Central African lions are the same subspecies as this) are found in the Gir forests of India. This population is thought to be as high as 600, though deaths have been particularly high for a significant period of time. This population only currently has one protected home, from which the lions are overflowing- the Gir forest. The forest is home to as many as 600 lions, though only covering 1400 square km (545 miles) the best reserves in Africa have roughly 1 lion per every 5 square miles. Many of these lions live outside, with as many as 200 having made their home by the sea, a great distance form the park.

 

Scientists have long argued that some of the lions should be moved to another reserve as having all of them in one place leaves the entire clade vulnerable to natural disasters or indeed an epidemic. Indeed, it has gone all the way to the high court in India, but the Chief minister of Gujarat has simply refused to enforce the order (he does not want to loose the status of housing the only wild Asiatic lion (at least the Asiatic clade). There was much effort to give the Indian lions a second home, but the government saw them as their property and refused to allow any to be moved. The proposed home was set up for them – the Kuno reserve, with a number of villages moved to accommodate them. The Gujarat government has suggested all sorts of reasons to refuse, including that the reserve is unacceptable – despite being almost identical to Gir.

Kuno is now the home of the cheetah reintroduction (not that this should rule it out, as they lived alongside each other in the past, and from where they have been moved). Never-the-less, Gujurat has refused to budge even having lost the case in the supreme court.

 

It seems absurd that something this important can be held up because of politics but there we are. There are plans to move 40 lions to Barda wildlife sanctuary, which would at least give a second home. However, given the Asiatic Lions historical range covering such a vast area, the idea that one state in India could block translocations to anywhere else is quite scary. 

Never-the less, it is still a fascinating place to visit.

 

Limpopo Transfrontier park including Kruger sabi sands and other conservation areas
Greater Serengeti

Bringing back the Amur tiger to the western part of its range! (The Caspian tiger)

Across the world many species have huge ranges – look at the leopard, found across Africa and much of Asia. It is not a surprise that these animals have a great deal of genetic variability.

The Caspian tiger went extinct in 1970, many pictures are far older

However, until recently, far to much of the decisions about subspecies status went on the look of the animal.

Continue reading “Bringing back the Amur tiger to the western part of its range! (The Caspian tiger)”

In April, for only the second time a group of Bonobos torn from the wild was rereleased: future?

I have written about Bonobos in the past, I hope that readers are aware of this species. In brief, Bonobos (often known as Pygmy chimpanzees) are a separate great ape species. These two species split about 1 million years ago as the Congo river formed and became an impenetrable boundary between them intermixing again.

Looking very like Chimpanzees, these animals behave in a very different way

Found only in the DRC and the last of the great ape species to be discovered, Bonobos should be of great interest to humans.

Continue reading “In April, for only the second time a group of Bonobos torn from the wild was rereleased: future?”

Back on the 10th I wrote about the Tiger recovery, here is more details about the Kazakhstan reintroduction: by 2026?

The Caspian tiger once lived in 12 countries, from the west in Turkey, to the east in central Asia. Seemingly, across this range, they did not have consistent populations but the tigers lived on the shores of lakes in the region, with 15-20 valleys being their strongholds.

The Kazakhstan delta is mostly ready for a return of the Tiger, with just the missing prey base needing addressing, this is well in hand

On the whole, the Caspian tiger lived in relative harmony with humans up until the Russian invasion. The Russians brought with them, the custom of keeping livestock, which brought the humans into direct competition with the tigers. As a result, Russia started paying a bounty for every tiger killed. This was incredibly successful, such that by the 1940 they were exterminated. The hunting was banned in the 1940s but too late to save these tigers.

After this, the tigers former home was taken over and converted into farmland, so the few that survived the hunting, soon lost what home was left.

In the 1990s as Russia fell, WWF started working to help the ecosystem recover. As a result in the late 2000s a satellite analysis was carried out on the area, and one area stood out – a delta of the Lli river in Kazakhstan. It was found that if the prey base was first helped to recover (animals such as boar and deer) then this area could easily support tigers.

Now, it is true that the Caspian tiger went extinct 70 years ago. However, recent genetic analysis has shown that the Caspian and Amur tigers are not distinct enough to be classed separately – they are essentially one subspecies, with a large range. It is true that Caspian tigers tend to have had shorter fur, but tigers are able to adjust in this way, so tigers that are moved to warmer climates will grow less fur and be able to thrive.

Given Kazakhstan being the most advanced of the countries in the area, with relatively high living standards, they should be able to carry out the plan. The delay until 2026 is to allow time for the prey base to build up to sensible levels.

Tiger

Tiger

Tigers – Unlike Lions, tigers are not kings of their ecosystem in the same way as lions. While lions live in prides and lie out in the open, Tigers are solitary (except mothers with their young, or a current breeding pair.

In most instances, male tigers also have no part in caring for young. Amur tigers have a hard time finding food, and there are many documented cases where male tigers will leave kills for their mate and young. This has not been regularly noted amongst other sub species which  live in places where food is easier to come across.

We are yet to add any destinations to go see wild tigers, but they will appear on this page, along with a list of articles from the blog on this subject. With a range of different subspecies, which range from relatively secure and growing population, to those on the edge of extinction.

Tigers actually have a similar density in their habitat as a whole to lions (lions are about 5 times as populous, and have a range of about 5 times greater. Tigers roam around 650,000 square km, but with 4500 wild tigers – In other words, overall  each species has on average a similar density. Unfortunately, due to their solitary, and often nocturnal habits, it is better to compare tigers to leopards – for many visitors to Africa, while they might see 30 lions in a week, they might see just a couple of Leopards. Having said this, in India, this is recognized, and when a tiger is found you can take a ride on an elephant which will allow you to leave the road and get up and close to an elephant. 

Tigers are still found in a variety of countries, however, for the time being, I have not broken them down in this way, as it is more useful to look at them as their former subspecies (I say former because of a decision a few years ago – for more, look below the tiger picture that is below this text).

Below is a list of articles on all subspecies of tiger. Below that is a set of tabs, which will allow you to read about each subspecies. This is because tigers roam around 650,000 square km, however, there is thought that this could be increased by 1.7 million square km. It should be noted, that the current range of the tiger is only around 5% of its historical range.

We are eager to list as many places to see the wild tiger as we possibly can. We hope that each subspecies will eventually have plenty of destinations to see them in the wild. There are many people living alongside these animals, and as such tourism can help these peoples to earn a better income, while they protect these incredible animals.

I should note, that since 2017 there have only been 2 subspecies recognized. That of the continental tigers (Bengal, Amur, Malayan Indochinese, South China and the Caspian) and the so called Sunda tiger (historically from Sumatra Java and Bali, though only surviving in Sumatra). Now, I find it hard to believe that a Bengal tiger would survive in the Amur region of Russia. However, it may well have been found that the differences are not distinct enough to warrant subspecies status. As chance would have it, that would mean that the top line talks about distinct populations of the Continental Tiger, while the bottom line talks about the Sunda tiger populations

One of the last large habitats for tigers, the Sunderbans, is low level so will be lost to any significant sea level rise photo credit Soumyajit Nandy, .CC BY-SA 4.0

Bengal Tiger

The country with the most tigers is India, hosting around 70% of the remaining tigers, or a little over 3000. However, this is down from 100,000 in 1900. In 2006 the Indian tiger population was as low as just 1411 – there are individual reserves in Africa with more lions in than this number. Given that there are 54 tiger reserves in India, that leaves an average population of just 30 per reserve – translocation will be required to maintain genetically healthy tigers. Formerly working on pug-marks, counting has been replaced with photo identification, as pug marks were overestimating the population (Simlipal reserve in Orissa state claimed 101 tigers in 2004, yet in 2010 a photo count stated 61, and this is thought a a huge over estimate, as the same state government claims just 45 tigers across  the state. Sariska and Panna reserves in India are worse with the government having to admit that there are no tigers left (2 reserves of at least 5 so called tiger reserves with none left). 

In a list of the best places to see tigers, India will often count more than  half of them within its borders. There are many destinations with some tigers, and around half of the 

There is currently an estimated 3100 Bengal tigers and they are listed as endangered. However, the total number of wild tigers is around 4500, so around 2/3 live in India.

Wild Amur tiger in the snow
Amur Tigers are incredibly hardy, living in a place covered in snow for over half the year

Amur Tiger

Russia hosts one of the hardest tigers to see. However, there are now around 500 Amur tigers roaming the remote far east of Russia, up from less than 40 in the 1940s,  this population has also had great gains. 

Unfortunately there is little habitat for this population to grow much more, however recent genetic analysis has shown that the Amur tiger and the Caspian tiger (which lived in the far west of Russia, as well as various other countries around here like Türkiye (the new spelling of turkey)) is not distinct enough to be a separate subspecies – it is actually the western portion of the Amur tiger. The genetic analysis suggests that the two populations split within the last 200 years. 

As such, should space be found here, perhaps Amur tigers should be translocated west to repopulate these long empty tiger ranges. Ili-Balkash Nature Reserve in Kazakhstan covers 4150 square km (1600 square miles). This is large enough for a population of around 120 tigers, Given that even the most absurdly optimistic estimate for tiger numbers in 750, with more reasonable numbers being around 500 (minimum 260) this will over time, boost tiger populations by anywhere between 20% and 50%

Currently, there are thought to be between 265 and 486, the 750 number should not be relied on. They are listed as endangered. It should be noted, that in the 1930s there was just 20-30 Amur tigers , so this is a quite fantastic recovery – the population has increased by 800-2400% in around 100 years. It should be noted, that the Amur leopard has done half of the recovery of the possibly population increase, in just 20 years – showing what is possible. A similar recovery at the current time, would return us to having around 500 Amur leopards.

Much of the recovery, is down to reserves being set up in both China and Russia, for these cats protection. Expansion of these reserves would allow more cats to survive, while the founding and growing of an eco-tourism market could allow locals to benefit from the tigers and leopards living there.

We are eager to work with anyone in the field, do get in touch. Click on list your wild place.

Caspian tiger (extinct)

Caspian Tiger

The Caspian tiger was officially declared extinct in 2003, with the last two sightings were in 1958 and 1974 (in Kegeli in Karakalpkstan).

Before its local extinction, this tiger occurred in eastern Turkey, southern Caucasus, northern Iran, Iraq, and in isolated pockets throughout Central Asia as far as north-western China. Whether it will ever be allowed to have a range like this, is anyone’s guess. Clearly, humans were curtailing its range very early on. The only record for instance of its presence in Iraq, was from a 1887, when one was shot near Mosul. The last tiger in Turkey was shot in 1970, with Iran loosing its last in either 1953 or 1958, and the last tiger of Turkmenistan being shot in 1954.

Given the vast historic range of the Caspian tiger, there is many areas that are suitable for reintroduction. It is also possible, that by strategically translocating, it might be possible to reduce the number of tigers in the areas where they share habitat with Amur leopards, which might allow this population to also grow faster. The Caspian tiger is officially extinct, though it should be subsumed into the Amur tiger subspecies. It ranged from the eastern parts of Turkey to the central part of Russia (where it joined with the Amur tiger population. Plans are afoot to re-establish tigers in this range,  given that as the Amur tiger is the same sub-species it should thrive as it did in the past.

Malayan Tiger walking1 Angah hfz

The Malaysian tiger is a subspecies of tiger that is found on the Malaysian peninsular. There are only thought to be 80-120 tigers left in this country, and this has been caused by a variety of factors, including poaching for skin and bones, as well as habitat loss and fracturing, into smaller areas. It is similar to the Indochinese tiger (to the right) though it is smaller, and is the smallest mainland subspecies, though only slightly bigger on average than the Sumatran tiger.

As with elsewhere, increased tourism dollars, might well help local people see value in preserving this species. In the 1950s there were around 3000 of these tigers, however given a density of 1-2 tigers per 100 square km  that would require a lot of space. Malaysia protects about 13.3% of its land area which equates to 44,000 square km. .Going by top densities, this is only space for almost 900 tigers (though that is 8 to 9 times the current population) but if poaching were to stop, this situation could change fast.

They are classed as critically endangered

Historically found in Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, this species decline is large. In 2010, the assessment was that there were 250 left in Thailand, with around 85 in Myanmar and perhaps 20 hanging on in Vietnam. It is thought that the population is now just 250.

More than half of the total Indochinese tiger population survives in the Western Forest Complex in Thailand, especially in the area of the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary.

 

 

They are considered endangered in Thailand and critically endangered in Myanmar and Vietnam

South China Tiger

This subspecies is definitely extinct in the wild. It was considered critically endangered from 1996, but none have been seen since the early 1990s. The human population is large in this area.

The captive South China tiger population is thought to be around 150, though it is thought that few if any are pure South China tiger.

Laohu Valley Reserve, Free State in South Africa, is a 300 square km reserve which has been used to rewild the first of these tigers. There are now thought to be around 18 that could return to South China, and the plan was for them to return in 2008. Unfortunately, the situation there, has not improved, and so there is still no place for them to be reintroduced. The couple who paid for, and instigated this plan have since divorced, so it is unclear if the animals will ever return home.

They are officially extinct in the wild – however, given their presence both in captivity, and in small reserves in the wild, it is clear that in the future they could return.

Sumatra is the only Indonesian island which still houses wild tigers. There are currently thought to be 500-600 left in the wild (in 2017 the population was estimated at around 618 plus or minus 290 – a huge error margin).

As with elsewhere, habitat fragmentation is a big problem for this cat. The largest protected reserve is Gunung Leuser National Park. Around 500 of the islands tigers live in reserves, with another 100 living outside protected areas. Sightings are rare, but if you trek in the park, they are possible. Indeed, it is the last place on earth where elephants rhinos tigers and orangutans live alongside each other. There are also sun bears, making a fascinating if difficult big 5. The area also hosts some of the last clouded leopards in the world,

 

They are classed as critically endangered. while their population has grown in the last few decades, deforestation makes further growth hard, and further losses likely.

Below, is our usual list of any articles that might have been written on this subject, and below that is a documentary on Sumatran tigers. Below both of these, we will add any links which might help you see this animal in the wild (or indeed visit its wild home, giving locals more incentive to protective for the future)

Although only officially declared extinct in 2003, the last reliable sightings of tracks and the animal occurred in 1976. 

Ujung Kulon National Park hosts the last Javan rhino, thought to number just 76.  Other local species include carnivores such as leopard, wild dog (dhole), leopard cat, fishing cat, Javan mongoose and several species of civets. It is also home to three endemic primate species; the Javan gibbon, Javan leaf monkey and silvered leaf monkey. Over 270 species of birds have been recorded and terrestrial reptiles and amphibians include two species of python, two crocodile species and numerous frogs and toads. This habitat may well suit tigers in the future. However, the tiger population in Sumatra must first recover, and this may never happen, given the continued clearing of the rainforest.  A century ago, there were also orangutans.

They are classed as extinct, and while there are occasional possible sightings, it is highly unlikely that any remain.

The Bali tiger was lost in 1937 when it was shot. It is thought that they persisted in low numbers as late as the 1970s, though they were not declared extinct until 2008. Around 1250 square km remain on the island of rainforest, suggesting that it is another potential destination for the Sumatran tiger. Much work needs to be done first, both on Bali and on Sumatra, if this is to happen                          

Species is officially extinct

Tiger news in general

Wild tiger -photo credit S. Taheri

Re-wilding in the UK

Currently, 70% of the land in the UK is given over to agriculture. Of this, just 15% is used to grow crops for human consumption. A further 22% goes towards feeding livestock. The rest is given over to livestock grazing.

This means that we give over 44% of the country to livestock, and a further 15% of the country to feed the livestock.

If growing food in a lab does indeed take off, 59% of the UK would suddenly be freed up – lab grown meat done properly could have a near 0 carbon footprint, and can be created in close proximity to the shop that will sell it -further reducing or eliminating the transport carbon footprint of food.

Now, assuming that this is to happen we would still need to keep some livestock. This would be needed to harvest cells. Never the less, we could still see a reduction of more than 99% of the livestock and land required. I do not believe that I am the only person who would be far happier satisfying my desire for meat, without the climate implications or indeed the fact that animals have to die to satisfy it (I am not a vegetarian, but over the last few years we have made efforts to reduce our meat footprint).

This would free up more than 50% of the country. What could we do with this?

Well my argument is that this land could be given over to rewilding. With this amount of land, we could suck up vast amounts of carbon a year. 50% of the UK is roughly 120,000 square kilometres. Now roughly speaking, forest suck up 500g per square m per year, or 500 metric tonnes per square km. Therefore, the UK could suck up 60 million tonnes a year. Now it is true that this is not huge compared to our emissions and we might have some other uses, never-the-less I am sure that I am not the only person that is frustrated by the lack of wilderness in the UK. Even just 10% of the gained land being given over to rewilding could make great progress in returning wilderness to the UK.

Just 3% of worlds ecosystems classed as prestine!

Apart fro areas of the Congo and Amazon rainforests, and areas of Siberia canada and the Sahara, virtually all other ecosystems have been adversely affected.

Many ecosystems look intact, until we realize that important members from these ecosystems are missing. It is unfortunately true that humans are almost always responsible for these holes in the food web.

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