Archive for April 2015

Press Release Polar Bears on the Edge: New book punctures myth that polar bear conservation is success story

April 30, 2015

Polar Bears on the Edge: Heading for Extinction while Management Fails

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The climate is changing, sea-ice is melting, polar bears are suffering. And yet, the establishment accepts that about 1.000 polar bears are hunted every year. On average, one polar bear is shot every 9 hours, or almost 3 every day. Polar bears are systematically being hunted out.

 A new book documents how lack of political courage and the corruption of science and management by commercial interests combine to threaten polar bears as much as global warming. „Polar Bears on the Edge“ is a relentless account of polar bear management failure and a daring attempt to finally initiate true protection of the species before it is too late.

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 Over-hunting will eradicate polar bears before climate change can

Polar Bears have become one of the strongest symbols of our climate change challenge, and the effects of climate change have been elevated to the sole major threat to polar bear survival. The challenges polar bears face through deterioration of habitat are used by the community of polar bear workers as an opportunity to do nothing about over-hunting.

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Commercialized polar bears corrupt Arctic politics, science and management

Why does this over-hunting not make headlines? Why is this scenario allowed to continue? Danish veteran Arctic guide and traveler Morten Joergensen suggests several reasons why. He further documents manipulations with polar bear population figures, so that “reality” is made to mirror the opportunistic policies. The lack of arms-length between decision-makers, scientists, managers and consumers is demonstrated. The prevalence of letting money and rifles talk means that polar bears are facing extirpation.

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How bad is it?

It is quite simple: The numbers do not add up. There are probably no more than 20.000 polar bears left today, the population down by 20-40% in 40 years. Science reckons they can multiply by less than 4% per year, but we allow 5% per year to be shot. A confluence of interests leads to this over-hunting being condoned by particularly Canada and Greenland, but also the USA and Norway. Neither is it challenged by elite scientists, polar bear managers, or our largest conservation NGOs such as WWF.

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Change of policy – or extinction before mid century

In clear language, the author describes how the current hunting regime in itself will lead to polar bear extinction in the wild in only decades. But the book also argues that there is a chance to keep polar bears around if a complete revision of management policies happens very soon. Maximum harvest management must be replaced by a moratorium on polar bear hunting, the affected communities must be compensated, all international trade in polar bear parts must be banned, and new refuges must be set aside for the bears to survive in. That way, we might still have polar bears after 2050.

Morten Joergensen:

POLAR BEARS ON THE EDGE. Heading for Extinction while Management Fails

Softcover, 218 pages including photographs. US$ 19,95, € 18,50, DKK 140,-

ISBN 9-783937-903231. Published by: Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com. Also available as eBook.

Link to crowd-funding campaign for further distribution and with further information: bit.ly/1ELpk3d

For more information, interview requests or reviewer’s copy, contact Morten Joergensen: ursmar2015@gmail.com

Link to forum for further discussion, group-forming and action: https://www.facebook.com/ProtectThePolarBear

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Thinking about a polar bear trip to Churchill in 2016

April 23, 2015

Has anyone been up to Churchill, Manitoba in fall/winter to see the polar bears congregations? I’ve been mulling this trip for years and now the state of the planet makes me wonder if postponing it would be a mistake.

I can muster up the airfare using airline points and cash-back rewards from various credit cards but it seems like the biggest expense is once you arrive. Rumors are that the a seat on a tundra buggy costs $500 per day.

Have any of you people of moderate means doing this trip before? How can it be made affordable while still seeing wildlife to make it worthwhile.

Thanks.

– Leslie

Mystery chipmunk.

April 22, 2015

mystery_chipmunk-1

Here’s a small chipmunk photographed yesterday at 2500 m in Spring Mountains, Nevada. The only species known to occur there are Palmer’s (above 2400 m) and Panamint (below 2300 m) chipmunks (source). This one does’t look like either. Any suggestions?

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Vladimir Dinets

Finding Mammals in North America

April 21, 2015

If you’d like a signed copy of this book, please let me know. I’ve just got the first 30 copies from the publisher. If you are in the US, the cost is $25 including postage. You can either send me a check to 1611 Oak Ave., Davis, CA 95616, or paypal me to dinets at gmail. Either way, I also need your mailing address. If you are not it the US, no problem – just let me know and I’ll find out how much the postage will cost.

Vladimir

FMinNA0

Mammals in the News

April 20, 2015

Some recent articles include a couple on rarely known Central African primates: Rembrandt’s Monkey and Bouvier’s Red Colobus (Piliocolobus bouvieri).

Some great camera trap images of some rare cats: In Siberia, these Amur Tigers and a Snow Leopard in a new National Park. While there was the first proof in 50 years of Lions in Gabon.

An interesting article on Sloths. I had thought the algae in the fur was mainly for camouflage. Apparently they like to eat it as do other creatures.

California Sea Lions are mysteriously dying in large numbers. Also mysterious, at least to me, the Northern Hopping Mouse was one of the hardest Australian mammals to track down. I didn’t know anyone who has seen one til I saw this article: but . Great to know someone has started studying it.

Jon

(Awesome) new trip report: Brazil & Argentina

April 17, 2015

If anyone is feeling dispirited after a recent unsuccessful mammal trip, then this report, from Phil Telfer, is a reminder of just how good it can get.

Brazil & Argentina, 2015: Phil Telfer, 18 days and some great species including, Geoffroy’s Cat, Pampas Cat, Jaguarundi, Lesser Grison, Ocelot , Plains Viscacha and more.

Damn!

Jon

Tips for trip to Namibia and Botswana

April 15, 2015

Hello fellow mammalwatchers!

This summer Tim and I are going to Namibia and Botswana. If any of you have some time to share your thoughts and experiences, we’d be very grateful.

It’s not our first time to Africa. Hence, we’ll be happy to see the typical African wildlife again (e.g. elephant, leopard, lion, giraffe, …) but we’re certainly also looking for less easy mammals (e.g. honey badger, aardwolf, aardvark…) or species that don’t get as much attention (e.g. springhare, other rodents, …). After a week or two, both our sisters will join us for the rest of the trip. They are not die-hard mammalwatchers, but they’ve agreed to adjust to our mammal obsession.

Although we’re very motivated to see nice species, we’ve got to be realistic about our abilities. We’ve only got one car and we’re not too brave when it comes to using the full abilities of cars. Hence, we don’t want to travel to regions that are too remote (for example the Central Kalahari sounds so promising, but we’ll have to skip it for practical reasons) or parks that are too challenging to access.

I’ve summed up the plan for our trip below. Any tips or alternatives are welcome!

First, we’re going to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (4 nights). We’re thinking of entering the park through Twee Rivieren, camping there and then driving on to Nossob for two nights. For our final night we’d drive back to Twee Rivieren so we can leave the following day through the Mata-Mata gate. Hence, we’d focus on the main road from Twee-Rivieren to Nossob. Good idea? Or should we try to focus more on the areas in the North (Union’s End, Grootkolk, …).

From the Kalahari, we’re going to Sossusvlei (two nights), with a stop in Mariental. The focus in Sossusvlei would be landscape photography. Unless anyone has wildlife tips?

After Sossusvlei we’ll spend a few days in Swakopmund for marine mammals (two nights). Then we’re on to the Erongo plateau (three nights). The Erongo wilderness lodge is a bit over our budget but we hope to see some good mammals in de neighboring Erongo Lodge.

Next on the list is Ghaub guest farm (three nights) for some relaxing + hopefully spotting some interesting wildlife during spotlighting on food in the lodge grounds.

We then have to drive back to Windhoek and stay one night, so we can pick up our sisters the following day which will join us for the second part of the trip. We’re driving to Maun to visit the Okavongo (three nights). We’ll have to find a location to sleep between Windhoek and Maun and we were thinking of the Zelda guestfarm, which has received good comments by previous mammalwatchers.

In the Okavongo, we want to spend two days in Moremi game reserve and spend one day exploring the delta in a boat. It’s not so easy to find good information for this part of the trip. At the moment we’re thinking of booking one trip from Maun into Moremi to visit the south of the reserve. The second day we’d do the boat trip, starting from Maun. Then we’d relocate to the northern part to do a day tour of the Khwai region (not sure if there are any day trips..?). We’re a bit skeptical about taking our rental car into the reserve after reading some horror stories in previous trip reports. We’re not that used to driving 4WD and certainly not used to driving roads that absolutely require a 4WD. It seems that Moremi has a lot to offer and I’m sure we’ll spot enough to keep us happy. The holy grail would be wild dogs… Does anybody have any tips? Would anyone recommend to actually sleep in the park? Does this give any advantage? (as you’re not allowed to spotlight anyway…)?

Then we’d drive on to Chobe (5 nights). We’d probably prefer to avoid the sandy roads of Satuvi etc and instead take the longer road to Kasane. In Chobe, we’d visit the park with our own vehicle (Northern part of the park). We are now planning 3 full days to explore the park by car (and boat) and one day to take an organized trip to the Victoria Falls. We’d sleep outside of the park, so after dark, we can try to do some spotlighting (probably on foot). Does anybody have tips for wildlife viewing in Chobe? Maybe some tips on wild dogs or other difficult and/or overlooked species?

After Chobe, we’re going to Ethosha (5 nights), with an overnight stop along the road. In Ethosha we’ll visit the classic route between the three main restcamps. The far west of the park is now also opened to tourism (Galton gate), but unless someone convinces us that this is Walhalla, it doesn’t really fit our schedule.

After Ethosha we have to go back to Windhoek, with an overnight stop at Waterberg.

Thank you so much for any tips!

Tim and Stefi