India launches specialist team to protect sloth bears

After a recent surge in poaching of sloth bears the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has set up a special investigation team to track down the poachers and traders involved. The team has been drawn from specialists at the Forestry Department. It follows on from the discovery of sloth bear carcases found across the state which had been skilfully carved up. The poachers are targeting sloth bears in the state because of the ‘medicinal’ qualities of the bears reproductive organs, gall-bladders and paws. It is claimed that these sloth bear parts can be used as aphrodisiacs, cures for cancer and will also treat burns, asthma, sinusitis and other ailments. It…

109 King Cobras seized in one day in Vietnam

Authorities in Vietnam undertook 2 operations on Friday which resulted in the seizure of 109 King Cobras. 53 were found in a sack in a car being driven in Hanoi and 56 were seized in Hoang Mai District. The world’s most verminous snake which grows up to 18 feet in length is also sadly sought for use in traditional Chinese medicines. Trading in King Cobra is banned in Vietnam and the seizures are some of the results of an operation that was launched after a survey by the Wildlife Conservation Society was published at a wildlife conference in Hanoi last week. The survey showed the widespread and open trading of endangered…

Rhino poaching soars as South Africa ponders legalising trade

Figures release by the South African government has shown that rhino poaching has soared in the first 6 months of 2012.  281 rhino has so far been killed by poachers with the Kruger National Park bearing the greatest losses at 164. The Department of Environmental Affairs released the figures earlier today and it’s led  to projections of the years total reaching as high as 600. Last year South Africa saw 448 rhinos lost to poachers. The figures are a big jump on those in the years leading up to 2008 when annual losses to poachers were as low as 15. The latest figures are a big concern to conservationists in South…

Chinese police on the hunt for bear poachers

When Chinese wildlife blogger, Hu Donglin, heard that there were remains of bears in the hills and forests of Jilin Province in China he decided to head out and look for evidence. After posting photographs of the remains on his microblog at Sina Weibo local authorities have begun an investigation. A team from the local police and Changbai Mountain Protection and Development Zone  was dispatched to search for evidence of the poachers. Over 100 people are combing the area in the search for evidence and any further remains of bears. Hu posted dozens of photographs of the bear remains on Sunday night and the authorities reacted quickly with the part of the search team being…

The wacky world of HIV and gecko spit

The poor old Tokay lizard has yet another problem to deal with. It would appear that the latest crazy wonder drug is an enzyme from it’s saliva that is reputed to be able to cure HIV. Such magical properties has seen the value of a Tokay gecko in the Asian countries go so high that people are reputedly giving up jobs and heading to the jungles on gecko hunts.

Vietnam cracks down on bear bile tourism

Collecting bear bile seems to be a rather strange way to spend your holidays but for some tourists that visit Vietnam it is an attraction. The tourists involved in the questionable activity tend to be from Korea and stay at Ha Long city tourist resorts.

CAN$100,000 fine for orchid importer

For the first time in Canada an importer has been fined a six figure sum for the importation of endangered orchid species. The species, Dendrobium, is commonly used in the traditional Chinese medicine market and the importer Sun 2006 Import and Export Ltd was a wholesaler to the market.

The tiger countdown begins

The tiger countdown begins

It’s a big weekend for tigers as people from across the world start to converge on St Petersburg for the International Tiger Summit. Will this meeting of politicians, conservationists and lobbyists be able to turn around the declining numbers of tigers and start to rebuild populations in the 13 countries which currently have wild tigers still living in them. Putting in place management plans to protect habitat and bringing in the full force of international law enforcement are powerful weapons to help stop the continued decline. Strong law enforcement needs to be undertaken to combat the illegal trade in tigers but to really bring an end to this trade we…

Manta rays ruled the night

The Natural World on BBC2 tonight was fascinating – an entire programme dedicated to those enigmatic fish the manta rays. the programme followed the research of biologist Andrea Marshell and featured not just the reef mantas but also enormous giant mantas of the Indian Ocean. At 7.5 metres the giant manta had to be the star of the show. Not only were they giant in size but they also appeared to have the remnants of the stinging spine from the sting ray which the mantas are thought to have evolved from.  Little is known about the giant manta and there was a bit of cat and mouse game trying to…