Friday 31 January 2014

Endangered Species - WWF

Endangered Animals.
We protect wildlife because they inspire us. But we also focus our efforts on those species—like tigers, rhinos, whales and marine turtles—whose protection influences and supports the survival of other species or offers the opportunity to protect whole landscapes or marine areas. Source

Protecting species contributes to a thriving, healthy planet.
Saving wildlife is at the core of WWF’s mission. Why? Because animal populations are disappearing at an alarming rate. But even in the face of threats like poaching, habitat loss and overuse of natural resources, WWF is creating a better future for wildlife every day. Protecting these species also contributes to a thriving, healthy planet for people’s health and well-being—from forests that slow climate change and filter water to oceans that provide more than one-sixth of the world’s food.

Giant Panda.
Despite their exalted status and relative lack of natural predators, pandas are endangered. Severe threats from humans have left fewer than 1,600 pandas in the wild.
This peaceful creature with a distinctive black and white coat is adored by the world and considered a national treasure in China. The bear also has a special significance for WWF. The panda has been WWF's logo since our founding in 1961.
The rarest member of the bear family, pandas live mainly in bamboo forests high in the mountains of western China, where they subsist almost entirely on bamboo. They must eat from 26 to 84 pounds of it every day, a formidable task for which they use their enlarged wrist bones that function as opposable thumbs.
Newborn pandas are about the size of a stick of butter—about 1/900th the size of its mother—but can grow to up to 330 pounds as adults. These bears are excellent tree-climbers despite their bulk.

Why they matter.
Pandas play a crucial role in the bamboo forests where they roam by spreading seeds and facilitating growth of vegetation. In the Yangtze Basin where pandas live, the forests are home to a stunning array of wildlife such as dwarf blue sheep, multi-colored pheasants and other endangered species, including the golden monkey, takin and crested ibis. The panda’s habitat is at the geographic and economic heart of China, home to millions of people. By making this area more sustainable, we are also helping to increase the quality of life of local populations. Pandas bring huge economic benefits to local communities through ecotourism. 
Hunting remains an ever-present threat. Poaching the animals for their fur has declined due to strict laws and greater public awareness of the panda’s protected status. But hunters seeking other animals in panda habitats continue to kill pandas accidentally.

Habitat Loss.
China’s Yangtze Basin region, which holds the panda’s primary habitat, is the geographic and economic heart of this booming country. Roads and railroads are increasingly fragmenting the forest, which isolates panda populations and prevents mating. Forest destruction also reduces pandas’ access to the bamboo they need to survive. The Chinese government has established more than 50 panda reserves, but only around 61% of the country’s panda population is protected by these reserves.
What WWF are doing.
WWF was the first international conservation organization to work in China at the Chinese government's invitation. WWF’s main role in China is to assist and influence policy-level conservation decisions through information collection, demonstration of conservation approaches, communications, and capacity building.
We work towards and advocate for:
  • increasing the area of panda habitat under legal protection
  • creating green corridors to link isolated pandas
  • patrolling against poaching, illegal logging, and encroachment
  • building local capacities for nature reserve management
  • continued research and monitoring
WWF has been helping with the Chinese government’s National Conservation Program for the giant panda and its habitat. Thanks to this program, panda reserves now cover more than 3.8 million acres of forest.
Wild tiger numbers are at an all-time low. We have lost 97% of wild tigers in just over a century. Tigers may be one of the most revered animals, but they are also vulnerable to extinction. As few as 3,200 exist in the wild today.
The largest of all the Asian big cats, tigers rely primarily on sight and sound rather than smell. They typically hunt alone and stalk prey. A tiger can consume up to 88 pounds of meat at one time. On average, tigers give birth to 2-3 cubs every 2-2.5 years. If all the cubs in one litter die, a second litter may be produced within 5 months.
Tigers generally gain independence at two years of age and attain sexual maturity at 3-4 years for females and at 4-5 years for males. Juvenile mortality is high however—about half of all cubs do not survive more than two years. Tigers have been known to reach the age of 26 years in the wild.
Males of the largest subspecies, the Amur (Siberian) tiger, may weigh up to 660 pounds. For males of the smallest subspecies—the Sumatran tiger—upper range is at around 310 pounds. Within each subspecies, males are heavier than females. Tigers are mostly solitary, apart from associations between mother and offspring. Individual tigers have a large territory and the size is determined mostly by the availability of prey. Although individuals do not patrol their territories, they visit over a period of days or weeks and mark their territory with urine and feces.
Across their range, tigers face unrelenting pressure from poaching, retaliatory killings and habitat loss. They are forced to compete for space with dense and often growing human populations.

Why they matter.
This big cat is admired and feared in equal parts, by people around the world. If forests are emptied of every last tiger, all that will remain are distant legends and zoo sightings.
The tiger has evolved over thousands of years. Currently this big cat is being trapped, skinned and pushed out of its home. Those left in the wild cling to survival, barely, in a few patches of forest scattered across Asia.
With just one tiger, we protect around 25,000 acres of forest. To save tigers, we need to protect the forest habitats across Asia where they live. By saving biologically diverse places, we allow tigers to roam and protect the many other endangered species that live there.
As a large predator, the tiger plays a key role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. These ecosystems supply both nature and people with fresh water, food, and health– which means by saving the tiger, we are helping people too.
Tigers can directly help some of the world’s poorest communities. Where tigers exist, tourists go. And where tourists go, money can be made by communities with few alternatives for income. Tiger conservation projects also help provide alternative livelihoods for rural communities that are not only more sustainable, but can raise income levels too.

Habitat loss.
Tigers have lost 93% of their historic range. Their habitat has been destroyed, degraded and fragmented by human activities, including the clearing of forests for agriculture and timber trade and development activities such as the building of road networks. Fewer tigers can survive in small, scattered islands of habitat, which lead to a higher risk of inbreeding. These small islands of habitat also make tigers more vulnerable to poaching.

Human wildlife conflict.
People and tigers increasingly compete for space. The conflict threatens the world’s remaining wild tigers and poses a major problem for communities living in or near tiger forests. As forests shrink and prey gets scarce, tigers are forced to hunt domestic livestock, which many local communities depend on for their livelihood. In retaliation, tigers are killed or captured. “Conflict” tigers are known to end up for sale in black markets. Local community dependence on forests for fuelwood, food and timber also heightens the risk of tiger attacks.

Climate change.
One of the world’s largest tiger populations is found in the Sundarbans—a large mangrove forest area shared by India and Bangladesh on the northern coast of the Indian Ocean. This area harbors Bengal tigers and protects coastal regions from storm surges and wind damage. However, rising sea levels caused by climate change threaten to wipe out these forests and the last remaining habitat of this tiger population. According to a WWF study, without mitigation efforts, projected sea level rise—nearly a foot by 2070—could destroy nearly the entire Sundarbans tiger habitat.

Poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
Every part of the tiger—from whisker to tail—is traded in illegal wildlife markets. Poaching is the most immediate threat to wild tigers. In relentless demand, their parts are used for traditional medicine, folk remedies, and increasingly as a status symbol among some Asian cultures.
There are usually limited resources for guarding protected areas in the countries where tigers live. Even countries with strong enforcement of tiger protection laws fight a never-ending battle against poaching. In Indochina and China, poaching is so pervasive that thousands of hectares of forests stand empty of tigers.
The impact from the death of a single tiger at the hands of poachers reaches beyond one single loss. If the tiger that was killed was a female with cubs, her cubs will likely die without their mother and the female's potential for future breeding is lost. If a male is killed, his death can result in intensive competition for his territory among surviving males in the population, creating disruption in further breeding by those males.

What WWF are doing.
  • Protecting and Connecting Tiger Habitat.
  • Monitoring Tigers and Their Prey.
  • Building Political Will.
  • Eliminating Tiger Trade.
Zero poaching.
WWF works to enforce zero tolerance for tiger poaching across Asia. We help create dedicated enforcement units in each landscape and install the best new technologies to help local agencies achieve maximum results. We invest in stronger law enforcement by improving the effectiveness of wildlife rangers, training personnel from enforcement agencies and empowering community patrols and enforcement networks.

Once common throughout Africa and Asia, elephant numbers were severely depleted during the 20th century, largely due to the massive ivory trade. While some populations are now stable and growing, poaching, conflict and habitat destruction continue to threaten the species.
The largest land mammal on earth, the African elephant weighs up to eight tons. The elephant is distinguished by its massive body, large ears and a long trunk, which has many uses ranging from using it as a hand to pick up objects, as a horn to trumpet warnings, an arm raised in greeting to a hose for drinking water or bathing.
Asian elephants differ in several ways from their African relatives. They are much smaller in size and their ears are straight at the bottom, unlike the large fan-shape ears of the African species. Only some Asian male elephants have tusks. All African elephants, including females, have tusks. Elephants are either left or right-tusked and the one they use more is usually smaller because of wear and tear. The Asian elephant has four toes on the hind foot and five on the forefoot, while the African elephant has three on the hind foot and five on the forefoot.
Led by a matriarch, elephants are organized into complex social structures of females and calves, while male elephants tend to live in isolation. A single calf is born to a female once every 4-5 years and after a gestation period of 22 months—the longest of any mammal. These calves stay with their mothers for years and are also cared for by other females in the group.
The two species of elephants—African and Asian—need extensive land to survive. Roaming in herds and consuming hundreds of pounds of plant matter in a single day, both species of elephant require extensive amounts of food, water and space. As a result, these large mammals place great demands on the environment and often come into conflict with people in competition for resources.

Why they matter.
Elephants help maintain forest and savanna ecosystems for other species, and are integrally tied to rich biodiversity.
Elephants directly influence forest composition and density, and can alter the broader landscape. In tropical forests, elephants create clearings and gaps in the canopy that encourage tree regeneration. In the savannas, they reduce bush cover to create an environment favorable to a mix of browsing and grazing animals.
The seeds of many plant species are dependent on passing through an elephant's digestive tract before they can germinate. It is calculated that at least a third of tree species in central African forests rely on elephants in this way for distribution of seeds.
The greatest threats facing elephants today are poaching, conflict with humans, and habitat loss and degradation. Elephants across Africa and Asia are being poached for their ivory at increasing levels.

Illegal wildlife trade.
In 1989, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) banned the international trade in ivory. However, there are still some thriving but unregulated domestic ivory markets in a number of countries, which fuel an illegal international trade. Poaching to meet growing demand from affluent Asian countries is driving up the rate of poaching. In some countries, political unrest contributes to elephant poaching.

Habitat Loss.
Elephants are also losing their habitats—and ancient migratory routes—due to expanding human settlements, plantation development and the construction of infrastructure such as roads, canals and pipelines. As a result, the level of human-elephant conflict rises as elephants are forced to try access resources.

What WWF is doing.
  • Reducing Conflict between People and Elephants.
  • Strengthening antipoaching initiatives.
  • Stopping illegal ivory trade.
  • Protecting Elephant Habitat.
Research and Monitoring.
WWF establishes new protected areas within elephant ranges and improving management effectiveness within existing protected areas. We help to determine the population status of elephants in sites across Africa and Asia to make our conservation projects more effective. The results of the MIKE (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants) surveys in Central Africa provided baseline data on key elephant populations like elephant hotspots and areas where poaching activities are taking place. We also radio collared pygmy elephants in Borneo and forest elephants in Cameroon, which provided important insights into their natural history. Such information makes it possible for WWF and partners to prioritize specific sites and issues for intervention.

Gorillas display many human-like behaviors and emotions, such as laughter and sadness. They even make their own tools to help them survive in the forest. In fact, gorillas share 98.3% of their genetic code with humans, making them our closest cousins after chimpanzees and bonobos. The largest of the great apes, gorillas are stocky animals with broad chests and shoulders, large, human-like hands and small eyes set into hairless faces.
Gorillas live in family groups of usually 5 to 10, but sometimes two to more than 50, led by a dominant male who holds his position for years. Females become sexually mature around seven or eight years old but don’t begin to breed until a couple of years later. Males mature at an even greater age. Once a female begins to breed, she’ll likely give birth to only one baby every four to six years, and only three or four over her entire lifetime. This low rate of reproduction makes it difficult for gorillas to recover from population declines. Both gorilla species have been decreasing in numbers for decades, and a 2010 United Nations report suggests that they may disappear from large parts of the Congo Basin by the mid-2020s.
Conservation efforts by WWF, other organizations and governments are making a difference for gorillas. New protected areas are being designated for some gorilla populations, and the population of mountain gorillas has seen an increase in recent years.
Why they matter.
Gorillas share 98.3% of their DNA with humans, making them our closest cousins after chimpanzees and bonobos. These charismatic, intelligent animals often surprise us with behaviors and emotions so similar to our human experience.
Gorillas play a key role in maintaining the biodiversity of their forest homes by spreading the seeds of the trees they eat and by opening up gaps in the trees as they move around, letting in light and helping sun-loving plants grow.
In Central Africa, humans depend on the same environment as gorillas for their food, water, medicine and other forest products. Protecting forests that house gorillas also conserves the forests for the humans that live there. The Congo Basin is home to the second largest tropical rainforest on Earth, which serves as the green heart of Africa. Moisture generated by this forest falls as rain in the United States, meaning that the impact of the loss of this forest will be felt globally.

Like humans, gorillas reproduce slowly, giving birth to only one baby at a time and then raising that infant for several years before giving birth again. This slow reproduction rate makes gorillas especially vulnerable to any population declines.
Habitat destruction is a problem across their central African range. Gorillas are also still killed for the bushmeat trade. That trade has helped spread the Ebola virus, which is deadly to both gorillas and humans. Efforts to protect gorillas are often hampered by weak law enforcement and civil unrest in many places where gorillas live.

Hunting and trade.
In some cultures in central Africa, the killing and eating of gorillas has increased in recent years and the animals are frequently slaughtered for the bushmeat trade.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe, infectious, often fatal disease that has devastated many African great ape populations. Scientists in 2003 estimated that a third of the wild gorilla population had been killed by the Ebola virus, and the species remain at risk. Additionally, because gorillas share so many traits with humans, they are susceptible to other human diseases. Populations of gorillas that are in frequent contact with humans are particularly vulnerable to deadly respiratory infections. In mountain gorilla range, where gorillas frequently raid farms, they are susceptible to scabies, TB and a host of other diseases from human transmission.

Weak law enforcement.
Both the killing of gorillas and trade in gorilla products are illegal across the animals’ range, but poachers, traders and consumers are rarely apprehended.

Habitat loss.
Only 17% of the gorilla population currently lives in protected regions, and vast areas of gorilla forest have already been lost. That destruction continues as logging companies clear areas for the timber trade, the mining and oil and gas industries move into gorilla territory, and local people cut down trees to make room for agricultural fields and livestock.

What WWF is doing.
  • Developing tourism.
  • Monitoring populations.
  • Preserving habitat.
Preventing poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
Because poaching is a problem across central Africa, WWF works with TRAFFIC, the world’s largest wildlife trade monitoring network, and the World Conservation Union to monitor the illegal trade of gorillas and other great apes. WWF also advocates for nations to more effectively enforce wildlife laws and raises awareness in local villages of the dangers of eating bushmeat. In addition, WWF has trained local wildlife authorities in modern methods of antipoaching and gorilla monitoring and provided equipment and provisions for anti-poaching teams in several nations.

Sea Turtle.
For more than 100 million years sea turtles have covered vast distances across the world's oceans, filling a vital role in the balance of marine habitats.
Seven different species of sea (or marine) turtles grace our ocean waters, from the shallow seagrass beds of the Indian Ocean, to the colorful reefs of the Coral Triangle, and even the sandy beaches of the Eastern Pacific. WWF’s work on sea turtles focuses on five of those species: green, hawksbill, loggerhead, leatherback and olive ridley.
Human activities have tipped the scales against the survival of these ancient mariners. Nearly all species of sea turtle are classified as Endangered. Slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin and shells, sea turtles suffer from poaching and over-exploitation. They also face habitat destruction and accidental capture in fishing gear. Climate change has an impact on turtle nesting sites. It alters sand temperatures, which then affects the sex of hatchlings.
WWF is committed to stop the decline of sea turtles and work for the recovery of the species. We work to secure environments in which both turtles—and the people that depend upon them—can survive into the future. 

Why they matter.
Sea turtles are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems. They help maintain the health of sea grass beds and coral reefs that benefit commercially valuable species such as shrimp, lobster and tuna. Sea turtles are the live representatives of a group of reptiles that have existed on Earth and traveled our seas for the last 100 million years. Turtles have major cultural significance and tourism value. 

Sea turtles journey between land and sea and swim thousands of ocean miles during their long lifetimes, exposing them to countless threats. They wait decades until they can reproduce, returning to the same beaches where they were born to lay their eggs, few of which will yield hatchlings that survive their first year of life. Beyond these significant natural challenges, sea turtles face multiple threats caused by humans.

Overharvesting and illegal trade.
Sea turtles continue to be harvested unsustainably both for human consumption and trade of their parts. Turtle meat and eggs are a source of food and income for many people around the world. Some also kill turtles for medicine and religious ceremonies. Tens of thousands of sea turtles are lost this way every year, devastating populations of already endangered greens and hawksbills.Killing of turtles for both domestic and international markets continues as well. While international trade in all sea turtle species and their parts is prohibited under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), illegal trafficking persists.

Habitat loss.
Sea turtles are dependent on beaches for nesting. Uncontrolled coastal development, vehicle traffic on beaches and other human activities have directly destroyed or disturbed sea turtle nesting beaches around the world. Turtle feeding grounds such as coral reefs and sea grass beds are damaged and destroyed by activities onshore, including sedimentation from clearing of land and nutrient run-off from agriculture.

Climate change.
All stages of a sea turtle’s life are affected by environmental conditions such as temperature—even the sex of offspring. Unusually warm temperatures caused by climate change are disrupting the normal ratios, resulting in fewer male hatchlings.
Warmer sea surface temperatures can also lead to the loss of important foraging grounds for sea turtles, while increasingly severe storms and sea level rise can destroy critical nesting beaches and damage nests.

Worldwide, hundreds of thousands of sea turtles are accidentally caught in shrimp trawl nets, on longline hooks and in fishing gillnets every year. They become fisheries bycatch--unintended catch of non-target species.
Sea turtles need to reach the surface to breathe and therefore many drown once caught. Incidental capture by fishing gear is the greatest threat to most sea turtles, especially endangered loggerheads, greens and leatherbacks. This threat is increasing as fishing activity expands.

What WWF are doing.
WWF works around the world to eliminate sea turtle bycatch from fisheries, reduce the unsustainable harvest and illegal trade in marine turtles, and stem the loss of critical sea turtle habitats.
  • Addressing overharvestingand illegal trade.
  • Protecting marine turtle habitat.
  • Minimizing climate change impacts.
  • Satellite tracking.
Eliminating bycatch.
WWF aims to reduce turtle bycatch by working with fisheries to switch to more turtle-friendly fishing hooks (“circle” hooks). We advocate for the use of special turtle excluder devices in nets. WWF runs an international competition, known as Smart Gear, to attract creative new ways to solve bycatch problems and to advance the best of those ideas. Winning devices have been designed to minimize the bycatch of turtles on tuna longlines and help turtles avoid gillnets. We track turtle movements using satellites to help prevent future interactions between fisheries and turtles and work with fishermen to help them save turtles caught in fishing gear.

Polar Bears.
Polar bears are classified as marine mammals because they spend most of their lives on the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean. They have a thick layer of body fat and a water-repellant coat that insulates them from the cold air and water. Considered talented swimmers, they can sustain a pace of six miles per hour by paddling with their front paws and holding their hind legs flat like a rudder.
Polar bears spend over 50 percent of their time hunting for food, but less than two percent of their hunts are successful. Their diet mainly consists of ringed and bearded seals because they need large amounts of fat to survive.
The total polar bear population is divided into 19 units or subpopulations. Of those, the latest data from the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group show that 8 subpopulations are in decline and there is a high estimated risk of future decline due to climate change.
Because of ongoing and potential loss of their sea ice habitat resulting from climate change, polar bears were listed as a threatened species in the U.S., across their range, under the Endangered Species Act in May 2008.
The survival and the protection of polar bear’s habitat are urgent issues for WWF.

Why they matter.
Polar bears are at the top of the food chain and have an important role in the overall health of the marine environment. Over thousands of years, polar bears have also been an important part of the cultures and economies of Arctic peoples. Polar bears depend on sea ice for their existence and are directly impacted by climate change—serving as important indicator species.

The loss of sea ice habitat from climate change is the biggest threat to the survival of polar bears. Other key threats include polar bear-human conflicts, overharvesting, and industrial impacts.

Polar Bear human conflicts.
As climate change forces polar bears to spend longer time onshore, they come in contact more often with Arctic coastal communities and others working in the Arctic. Unfortunately, these interactions sometimes end badly for both humans and bears.

Industrial impacts.
In the Arctic, most industrial development has been on relatively small pieces of land. As summer sea ice retreats, a new ocean is emerging, which allows more opportunities for industrial development at sea and on larger parcels of land. At the same time, the retreating ice is resulting in more polar bears spending longer periods on land for denning. These factors combined are putting polar bears and industrial activities on a potential collision course.
Offshore petroleum installations and operations in the Arctic are expected to increase in number. This would likely affect polar bears and their habitat in many ways including:
  • contact with spilled oil would be fatal
  • an oil spill would affect the entire food chain
  • noise generated from onshore and offshore oil operations would cause disturbance
Increased Arctic shipping represents a risk to polar bears. As traffic by barges, oil tankers and cargo ships in Arctic waters increases, so do the risk of oil spills and human disturbance to polar bears.

Unsustainable hunting.
Many Arctic areas have strong polar bear management and monitoring plans. But there are a few places where unsustainable hunting appears to be happening, including unreported and illegal hunting, and hunting in areas where the subpopulation status—stable or declining—is uncertain.

Climate change.
Polar bears depend on sea ice as a platform from which to hunt seals, rest and breed. Every year, the summer sea ice is decreasing in size and melting for longer periods of time. Bears must move long distances to stay with the rapidly receding ice, or in some areas come ashore when ice melts and rely on fat stores until the ice refreezes and they can go back out to hunt. Many polar bears now suffer from malnutrition and others face starvation, especially females with cubs.
Traditional prey species may be less accessible in a new sea ice environment, and seals that use the ice are also predicted to fare poorly in a warming Arctic.
Climate change is also resulting in more habitat fragmentation, creating more opportunities for oil and gas development and increased shipping.

What WWF are doing.
As climate change forces polar bears to spend longer time onshore, they come in contact more often with Arctic communities. Unfortunately, these interactions sometimes end badly for humans and bears. In Russia and Alaska, WWF addresses this challenge by supporting local efforts to protect people and polar bears. Watch this video to learn more about the benefits of involving local people to protect polar bears.
  • Addressing climate change.
  • Reducing conflict.
  • Monitoring populations.
  • Reducing industrial impacts.
Protecting the 'last ice area' in the Arctic.
Scientists believe that a natural “safety net” of ice in the High Arctic of Canada and Greenland, ice covering 500,000 square miles, or twice the size of Texas, may persist longer than the ice anywhere else. Since 1992, WWF has been working with partners to sustainably preserve the rich biodiversity of this region.
Now, WWF works with local people to establish an appropriate management plan for this “Last Ice Area” in Canada and Greenland. This plan could fill many needs, such as conserving habitat for Arctic ice dependent species and protecting the cultural heritage and economic needs of local people.

Rhinos once roamed many places throughout Eurasia and Africa and were known to early Europeans who depicted them in cave paintings. Long ago they were widespread across Africa's savannas and Asia's tropical forests. But today very few rhinos survive outside national parks and reserves. Two species of rhino in Asia– Javan and Sumatran – are Critically Endangered. A subspecies of the Javan rhino was declared extinct in Vietnam in 2011. A small population of the Javan rhino still clings for survival on the Indonesian island of Java. Successful conservation efforts have helped the third Asian species, the greater one-horned (or Indian) rhino, to increase in number. Their status was changed from Endangered to Vulnerable, but the species is still poached for its horn.
In Africa, Southern white rhinos, once thought to be extinct, now thrive in protected sanctuaries and are classified as Near Threatened. But the Northern white rhino subspecies is believed to be extinct in the wild and only a few captive individuals remain in a sanctuary in Kenya. Black rhinos have doubled in number over the past two decades from their low point of 2,480 individuals, but total numbers are still a fraction of the estimated 100,000 that existed in the early part of the 20th century.

Why they matter.
In almost all rhino conservation areas, there are other valuable plants and animals. The protection of rhinos helps protect other species including elephants, buffalo, and small game. Rhinos contribute to economic growth and sustainable development through the tourism industry, which creates job opportunities and provides tangible benefits to local communities living alongside rhinos. Rhinos are one of the "Big 5" animals popular on African safaris and they are a popular tourism draw in places like the Eastern Himalayas.

Habitat loss.
Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in Sumatra is thought to have one of the largest populations of Sumatran rhinos, but it is losing forest cover due to conversion for coffee and rice by illegal settlers. In southern Zimbabwe, privately owned rhino conservancies have been invaded by landless people. This reduces the amount of safe habitat for rhino populations and increases the risk of poaching and snaring.

Reduced genetic diversity.
The small size of the Javan rhino population is in itself a cause for concern. Low genetic diversity could make it hard for the species to remain viable.

Natural disasters.
Ujung Kulon National Park, home to Javan rhinos, is highly vulnerable to tsunamis and a major explosion of the Anak Krakatau volcano could easily wipe out all life in the protected area.

In recent years four Javan rhinos, including one young adult female, are thought to have died from disease, probably transmitted to wild cattle in the park and subsequently to the rhinos.

Illegal wildlife trade.
Although international trade in rhino horn has been banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1977, demand remains high and fuels rhino poaching in both Africa and Asia. Criminal syndicates link the killing fields in countries like South Africa through a whole series of transit points and smuggling channels on to the final destination in Asia. The main market is now in Vietnam where there is a newly emerged belief that rhino horn cures cancer. Rhino horn is also used in other traditional Asian medicine to treat a variety of ailments including fever and various blood disorders. It is also used in some Asian cultures as a cure for hangovers.

What WWF are doing.
  • Protecting sumatran Rhino habitat.
  • Tackling illegal wildlife trade.
  • Stopping forest conversion.
  • Monitoring and tracking Javan Rhinos.
  • Establishing new populations.
  • Monitoring and protection of white Rhinos.
  • Strengthening local and international law enforcement.
Flying Rhinos.
In October 2011, WWF helped to successfully establish a new black rhino population in a safer, more spacious location. Nineteen critically endangered black rhinos were transported via helicopter to a land vehicle. They spent less than 10 minutes in the air and the sedated animals woke up in a new home. Translocations reduce pressure on existing wildlife reserves and provide new territory where rhinos have a greater opportunity to increase in number. Creating more dispersed and better protected populations also helps keep rhinos safe from poachers. This work was done by the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project (BRREP), a partnership between WWF-South Africa, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism.

Whales roam throughout all of the world’s oceans, communicating with complex and mysterious sounds. Their sheer size amazes us: the blue whale can reach lengths of more than 100 feet and weigh up to 200 tons—as much as 33 elephants.
Despite living in the water, whales breathe air. And like humans, they are warm-blooded mammals who nurse their young. A thick layer of fat called blubber insulates them from cold ocean waters.
Some whales are known as baleen whales including blue, right, bowhead, sei and gray whales. This refers to the fact that they have special bristle-like structures in their mouths (called baleen) that strains food from the water. Other whales, such as beluga or sperm whales, have teeth.

Why they matter.
Whales are at the top of the food chain and have an important role in the overall health of the marine environment. Unfortunately their large size and mythical aura does not protect them; seven out of the 13 great whale species are classified as endangered or vulnerable, even after decades of protection.

Industry threats.
Collisions with ships, entanglement in fishing gear (known as bycatch), and pollution injure and kill whales. Shipping activity and oil and gas development cause noise that can disrupt or even damage whales’ hearing. Such disturbance can exclude whales from critical feeding and breeding grounds, and disrupt their migratory paths.

Commercial whaling.
Despite a moratorium on commercial whaling and a ban on international trade of whale products, countries such as Iceland continue to hunt whales for their markets. Over 1000 whales a year are killed for such commercial purposes.
The U.S. and other International Whaling Commission (IWC) member countries have tried for years to persuade Iceland to end its commercial whaling—which includes hunting of the endangered fin whale—as it undermines the effectiveness of IWC’s commercial whaling ban. In 2011, after pressure from WWF and others, the U.S. government officially declared Iceland in defiance of the IWC ban. Although no sanctions were implemented, the President urged Iceland to cease its commercial whaling activities. In 2013, Iceland resumed its fin whale hunt.

Climate change.
Warming oceans and loss of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic can affect the habitats and food of whales. Large patches of tiny plants and animals that they feed on will likely move or change in abundance as climate change alters seawater temperature, winds and ocean currents. These changes can mean whales such as humpbacks and blues may have to migrate much further to reach feeding grounds, leaving them with less time to forage for food. The shift in food availability due to climate fluctuations has already hurt the reproductive rates of the endangered North Atlantic right whale.

'Scientific' whaling.
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) established the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in 1994; however Japan continues to conduct whaling operations there, claiming it is for “scientific purposes.” In May 2010, the Australian government requested the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to order Japan to cease its “scientific” whaling in the Southern Ocean. Public hearings were held in the summer of 2013, and the ICJ’s decision is now pending. WWF strongly hopes for a positive ruling by the court that will end whaling in the Southern Ocean.

What WWF are doing.
WWF documents and protects critical feeding and breeding areas and migration routes of whales. We work to establish whale sanctuaries, help shift shipping lanes and curtail seismic surveys that disrupt feeding grounds. We strive to increase awareness of the need for whale conservation at national, regional and international levels.   We also create opportunities for local communities to be involved with and profit from whale conservation initiatives.

Saving stranded whales.
Each year, thousands of whales, dolphins and porpoises become stranded on shorelines around the world. Left unaided, many die within a day or two. In the Philippines, about a dozen stranding events occur a year.  WWF offers stranding rescue workshops to local residents. Training includes cetacean (whales, dolphins and porpoises) biology, identification, threats, and conservation and rescue techniques. Since 1997, WWF has been collaborating with leading Filipino marine mammal scientists to conduct training programs. Such training not only helps ensure the safety of stranded whales and dolphins, it also increases people’s appreciation for the animals and cultivates environmental stewardship.

International whaling commission.
WWF lobbies to bring “scientific” (hunting whales for research) and commercial whale hunts under the strict control of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). The IWC is the body charged with regulating whaling and addressing the vast number of other threats to whales, dolphins and porpoises in our oceans such as shipping, climate change, and bycatch. WWF is working to make the IWC more effective in reducing all threats to whales.

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