Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bengal Tiger

The most iconic of the tiger subspecies, Bengal tigers can be distinguished from other subspecies by their short reddish-orange fur crossed with narrow brown, grey or black stripes, although there are also white tigers. This pattern is unique for every individual.

Found in Bengal’s varied jungle, humid evergreen forests and mangrove swamps, this magnificent animal faces an uncertain future. With the population of India increasing, the natural habitats of the tiger are being destroyed to meet increasing demand for human settlements. The tigers are also hunted by farmers who blame them for killing cattle.

The other major threat faced by the tigers is poaching. Tiger bones and teeth are used in India and China as aphrodisiacs and medicines that are alleged to provide the tiger's strength. They are also poached for their pelts.

Common Name: Bengal Tiger

Scientific Name: Panthera tigris tigris

Status: Endangered

Population: Between 3,000 and 4,500

Lifespan: 15 to 20 years

Range: Primarily the mangrove swamps, humid forest and swamplands of the Sunderbans in India. Sparse populations exist in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal and China

Threats: Habitat alteration, direct persecution through hunting

Save Them!
Avoid buying products derived from tigers.
Support The Tiger Foundation’s work with tigers by raising funds or volunteering.
Save The Tiger Fund
Tiger Foundation

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Asian Elephant

Venerated for its strength and longetivity throughout history, the Asian elephant is now in a precarious position, with little more than 5% of its original habitat left. The major threats to Asian elephants are loss of habitat and the resultant human-elephant conflict. Asian elephants are disappearing from vast areas where they were once plentiful. Their habitat is shrinking fast and wild elephant populations are mostly small, isolated, and unable to mingle as ancient migratory routes are cut off by human settlements. For example, the number of elephants in Vietnam has declined from about 1,000 in 1990 to fewer than 100 in 2002.

Elephants need large, intact areas of forest to survive. Since a substantial proportion of the world's population live in or near the present range of the Asian elephant, this inevitably leads to elephant-human conflict. Incidents of elephants raiding crops and villages are on the rise. This causes losses to human property and, sometimes, human lives. Retaliation by villagers often results in killings of these elephants. Experts already consider such confrontations to be the leading cause of elephant deaths in Asia.

Although levels of poaching have been lower in Asia than in Africa, because only male Asian elephants have tusks, proportions of their population are being dramatically reduced in some regions. Some areas of southern India report male:female ratios as low as 1:100. From 1995 to 1996, poaching of Asian elephants for hide, meat and ivory increased sharply. The illegal trade in live elephants, ivory and hides across the Thai-Myanmar border has also become a serious conservation problem.

The capture of wild elephants for domestic use has also become a threat to wild populations where numbers have been seriously reduced. India, Vietnam, and Myanmar have banned capture in order to conserve their wild herds, but in Myanmar elephants are still caught each year for the timber industry or the illegal wildlife trade. Unfortunately, crude capture methods have led to a high mortality level. Efforts are being made not only to improve safety but also to encourage captive breeding rather than taking from the wild. With nearly 30% of the remaining Asian elephants in captivity, attention needs to be paid to improved care and, where appropriate, reintroduction of individuals into the wild.

Common Name: Asian elephant

Scientific Name: Elephas maximus

Status: Endangered

Population: 35,000 to 50,000 in the wild

Lifespan: Believed to be capable of living up to 70 years

Range: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam

Threats: Habitat loss and fragmentation; poaching for ivory and body parts; retribution killing for destruction of property and crops; capture for domestication

Save Them!
Never buy ivory, even if it appears to be antique.
Help reduce forest clearance by only purchasing Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood products, recycling and using recycled materials.
Buy palm oil products sourced from suitable plantations.
Elephant Care International

Monday, January 29, 2007

Sumatran Rhino

The Sumatran rhino is the world’s rarest large mammal, and is the last surviving species in the same group as the extinct wooly rhinoceros of the ice age. It is probably the most endangered of all rhinoceros species. In the early 1900s, it ranged over most of Southeast Asia from the Himalayas in Bhutan, eastern India through Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo. Numbers have declined over 50% in the last 15 years due to poaching. Today only about 300 survive.

Poaching of Sumatran rhino horns and destruction of its rainforest habitat has critically endangered the rhinos. Poaching is particularly insidious because dealers who stock these horns know that once the species becomes extinct, horn prices will increase exponentially. Most remaining habitat is in inaccessible mountainous areas of Indonesia, where the government has shown no inclination to discourage clearing of rhino habitat for the benefit of the timber industry.

Common Name: Sumatran Rhino, Hairy Rhino, Asian Two-Horned Rhino

Scientific Name: Dicerohinus sumatrensis

Status: Critically endangered

Population: About 300

Lifespan: 30-45 years in the wild

Range: Sumatra, peninsular Malaysia and Sabah. Scattered remnants are reported in remote and inaccessible parts of Thailand and Myanmar.

Threats: Poaching for the horn (for use in traditional Chinese medicine) and habitat loss.

Save Them!
Make sure any hardwood furniture or floors you buy is certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council.
Buy palm oil products sourced from suitable plantations.

Support Them!
Asian Rhino Foundation
International Rhino Foundation
Save The Rhino International