Jan 23

Patrick Rouxel is an environmental filmmaker and conservationist whose films include the multi award-winning Green and Alma. Patrick’s most recent film, Life Is One, was nominated for a 2016 Wildscreen Panda Award in the Creative Innovation category and has recently won the Best Wildlife Film Award at the New York Wild Film Festival.  It is the story of a return to life in the wild for three sun bear cubs in Indonesia. Patrick’s encounter with these three cubs has changed his life and he now focuses on improving the welfare of captive sun bears in Indonesia and raising awareness on their plight through his charity Sun Bear Outreach. This is his story.

Patrick Rouxel

I’ve been making films on conservation and animal welfare since 2014, specializing on the Indonesian rainforest, the Congo Basin and the Amazon. In my travels I would often come across animals kept in very bad conditions, I would usually film them and then move on. With the footage I helped raise awareness about animal suffering, but this did not change anything for those animals I had filmed. I had not altered their misery in any way.

In 2010, as I was making fundraising films for a small orangutan rescue centre based in Borneo, Indonesia, we received a small sun bear cub in a wooden box that villagers had brought in from their village. The mother bear must have been shot, but luckily the cub was brought to the rescue centre rather than sold as a pet to some private owner. She was a female that I named Bunbun and I took care of her for the several weeks. I grew very fond of her and I didn’t want her to spend the rest of her life in a cage, so this time, rather than move on, I decided to stay and give her back her freedom.

Sun bear in small cage

It took about nine months before I was actually able to bring Bunbun to the forest. The reintroduction took place in a national park with a remote camp serving as base. It was a progressive adaptation to life in the wild. I was going to stay in the forest with Bunbun until she grew fully independent. Every morning at dawn, I would let her out of her night cage and we would spend the whole day in the forest to play, explore and search for food. But she couldn’t find enough food to satisfy her appetite, and in the late afternoon, she would gladly go back to her night cage close to camp where food awaited her. She made no fuss at being locked in for the night as she knew that she would spend the whole next day in the forest again.

Bunbun

Unfortunately, after just 3 months in the forest, Bunbun disappeared, never to be seen again. She was not yet fully autonomous, so I fear for the worse. I then encountered another 2 sun bear cubs, Bernie and Wawang, in another rescue centre and decided to try another reintroduction with them. This time I had the cubs equipped with implant emitters to be able to track them down. All went very well at first and the cubs learnt a lot from one another, but after just 6 weeks, the male cub, Wawang, was killed in a fight with another wild bear. Luckily, Bernie had been spared. Wawang’s death was a blow but Bernie and I had no choice but to overcome his loss and pursued together her path to adulthood. We spent about a year together in the forest before Bernie was able to find enough food to sustain herself and gradually went off into the forest for longer and longer periods before not coming back to camp anymore.

Bernie and Wawang in the forest

From having spent so much time in the forest with the bears, I have learnt to appreciate how they belong to the tropical rainforest, how energetic and inquisitive they are and how they love to play. There was never a dull moment with the bears in the forest, they were active and on the move from dawn to dusk, and their favourite activity besides eating was playing. Besides a few dogs I know who are always happy, I had never seen an animal express so much joy at the simple fact of being alive. Through Bunbun, Bernie and Wawang, I discovered a magnificent expression of life on earth.

Bernie climbing a tree

There is something wrong about depriving any living creature of its freedom, but keeping a sun bear in a cage is something particularly cruel. I am sure that the degree of joy a sun bear feels when living a free life in the forest matches the extent of pain he feels when locked in a cage. Sun bears hate to be locked up, they’ll go crazy from not being able to express their energy. And in Indonesia there are many sun bears locked in cages. These bears have lost their mothers, their freedom and their habitat. They’ve been so deprived of everything that they wouldn’t even be able to survive in the wild if they were given the opportunity.

Bernie with her friend Bagor, a Bornean orangutan

Strangely, sun bears are mostly unheard of by the international public and there is not a single local or international organisation in Indonesia dedicated to rescuing sun bears and caring for them. So I founded my own charity called Sun Bear Outreach, and through this charity I raise funds that I use to improve the welfare of the bears I encounter, individual by individual. I go to the places where sun bears are kept in poor conditions and I construct bigger cages and large forest enclosures, so that the bears can at least feel the earth under their paws, dig, run and climb trees.

The Life is One film documents these early reintroductions and the trials and tribulations that Patrick endures to save these endangered bears.

Find out more about Patrick Rouxel and watch his films on his website.

Explore the Arkive sun bear species profile and learn more about these beautiful animals.

Apr 18

Arkive and Wildscreen Exchange photographer James Warwick recently visited the Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, which is located in the Central Indian Highlands. This name may not mean much to you but it is, in fact, the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Jungle Book’ and is home to the tigers, sloth bears and Indian leopards that are featured in the story.

We asked James to tell us about the places he’d been to in India and share his fantastic images with us – and you!

James: To date, I’ve worked in four National Parks in India; Ranthambhore, Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Kaziranga all of which are all classed as Tiger Reserves by the Indian government’s Project Tiger. As well as providing vital habitat for the surviving Bengal tiger, they are also home to a vast array of other mammals and birds some of which are shown in this selection.

Ruddy mongoose (Herpestes smithii) on rock, Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Ruddy mongoose, Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Ranthambhore National Park in south western Rajasthan is famous for its wild tiger population and was once a private hunting ground for the Maharajas of Jaipur. Its name comes from the vast fort that stands in the middle of the forest which is thought to date back to 1110. At 392 km2, Ranthambhore is one of the smallest 47 Project Tiger reserves in India.

Bengal tigress (Panthera tigris tigris) swimming across Lake Rajbagh, Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan, India

Bengal tigress swimming across Lake Rajbagh, Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan, India

Bandhavgarh National Park, situated in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, is one of India’s most popular wildlife reserves and at 438 km2 covers a similar area to Ranthambhore. Bandhavgarh’s tiger population density is one of the highest in India but it is also rich in other wildlife including large populations of Indian leopards and sloth bears.

Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) resting in sal forest (Shorea robusta), Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Sloth bear resting in sal forest, Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Kanha National Park also lies in Madhya Pradesh in the Central Indian Highlands about 160 km southeast of Jabalpur. The reserve consists of a core area of 940 km2 which is surrounded by a buffer zone of 1,005 km2. In the 1890s, this region was the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Jungle Book’ stories.

Tiger sleeping on rock in forest (Panthera tigris tigris), Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India

Bengal tiger sleeping on rock in forest, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India

Finally, Kaziranga National Park lies in the floodplain of the mighty Brahmaputra River in the north-eastern state of Assam and is home to around 75% (1800) of the remaining world population of the Indian or great one-horned rhinoceros. There is also a healthy population of Bengal tigers (around 100) but their shy nature and the region‘s tall ‘elephant‘ grasses make them very difficult to see.

Indian rhinoceros wallowing (Rhinoceros unicornis), Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India

Indian rhinoceros wallowing, Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India

The Bengal tiger is found primarily in India with smaller populations in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar. It is the most numerous of all tiger subspecies but there are fewer than 2,500 left in the wild with poaching to fuel the illegal trade in body parts in Asia being the largest immediate threat to their remaining population.

Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) cub, Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Bengal tiger cub, Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Find out about the work that the Wildlife Protection Society of India are doing with tigers on their website

Visit James’s website to see more of his wonderful images

If you are from a conservation organisation, James has very kindly made these images and many others from around the world available to you. If you’d like to get access to the images, join the Wildscreen Exchange, or email us at exchange.info@wildscreen.org.uk for more information.

Jun 5

Arkive’s Week in Review — Wildlife News

ICYMI: Arkive has compiled some of the biggest and most interesting headlines from this week.

Article originally published on Friday, May 29, 2015

Invasive predators, deforestation driving Tasmanian parrot over the edge

Swift-parrot-in-branches

Swift parrot in branches

Research shows that 50.9 percent of female swift parrots nesting on the main island of Tasmania were killed by sugar gliders while incubating eggs. In addition, industrial logging is the principle cause of habitat loss in the swift parrot’s breeding range.

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Sugar-glider-on-branch-preparing-to-leap

Sugar glider on branch preparing to leap

Article originally published on Saturday, May 30, 2015

Wildlife agencies urge US to curb illegal ivory trade

African-elephant-calf-covered-in-mud

African elephant calf covered in mud

The World Wildlife Fund and African Wildlife Foundation both expressed that the United States should emulate China’s destruction of confiscated ivory. “Major ivory consuming countries hold the key to saving Africa’s elephants,” said Ginette Hemley, WWF senior vice president of wildlife conservation. Every year 25,000-30,000 African elephants are poached to supply the ivory trade.

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Article originally published on Sunday, May 31, 2015

Don’t try to “adopt” lost bear cubs, Oregon Wildlife officials warn

Yearling-American-black-bear-playing

Yearling American black bear playing

Oregon Wildlife officials urged the public to not take bear cubs home after an incident in which a bear cub was spotted begging for food and showed no fear of humans. Cubs, which have been “adopted” and then released into the wild never learn to care for themselves and become easy prey for hunters.

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Article originally published on Monday, Jun 1, 2015

“Purring” wolf spiders softly serenade mates

female-two-coloured-wolf-spider

Female two-coloured wolf spider

Male wolf spiders use vibrations to serenade females, but it only works if female wolf spiders can feel the vibrations. The courtship must occur on conductive surfaces such as dead leaves. Their sensitivity to vibrations might also help them avoid predators.

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Article originally published on Tuesday, Jun 2, 2015 

Pollution and climate change are deforming and killing Alaska’s frogs

wood-frog-tadpole

Wood frog tadpole

A recent study found that even a small amount of copper can have big consequences for amphibians such as the wood frog. The presence of copper in the environment altered the behavior of tadpoles so they spent more time near the surface of the water, which made them easier prey.

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Article originally published on Wednesday, Jun 3, 2015

Trainers banned from performing with ‘world’s loneliest orca’

Three-orcas-spyhopping

Three orcas spyhopping

Lolita, a wild-caught orca will no longer perform with her trainers. This move by the Miami Seaquarium comes after a decision by NOAA in February that determined that Lolita deserved the same protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as her wild kin.

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Article originally published on Thursday, Jun 4, 2015

Seven tiny frog species found on seven mountains

Shield-toad

Shield toad (Brachycephalus pernix)

The seven frog species discovered in southeastern Brazil are all less than 1 cm long and belong to the genus Brachycephalus. The sensitivity of these frogs to their environment accounts for different species being found on different mountains. The most visible difference between these new species is the texture and color of their skin.

View original article

Enjoy your weekend!

William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA 

May 22

Arkive’s Week in Review — Wildlife News

ICYMI: Arkive has compiled some of the biggest and most interesting headlines from this week.

Article originally published on Friday, May 15, 2015

The war on India’s tiger preserves

Bengal-tiger-portrait

Bengal tiger

The government of India provides funds to help willing residents move out of protected tiger habitat and onto nearby farmland.  At times, however, factors working against tigers include luxury resort chains that want to build “ecotourism” lodges that do not allow tigers to live nearby. Other times, it is mining companies that wish to move deeper into protected areas.

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Article originally published on Saturday, May 16, 2015

Controversial bear hunt awaits final approval from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

American-black-bear-scratching-head

American black bear scratching head

Florida is awaiting approval to host its first bear hunt in 20 years. The hunt is considered a method of controlling the bear population, since Florida has seen an increase in human-bear conflicts. Opponents of the bear hunt note that improperly secured food/trash attracts bears and that people should focus on trash management and not on hunts.

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Article originally published on Sunday, May 17, 2015

Wildlife experts counteract fallacies about coyotes

Adult-coyote

Adult coyote

Two recent coyote attacks in Bergen county, New Jersey have brought this canid to the forefront of the conversation about wildlife. Wildlife experts stress that while coyotes are predators, they very rarely attack humans. They also informed the public that coyotes are not the top carriers of rabies in the area. Most importantly, coyotes play a vital role in the ecosystem by controlling rodent populations.

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Article originally published on Monday, May 18, 2015

Fuzzy ducklings are the future of this Hawaiian species

Male-Laysan-duck

Male Laysan duck

The Laysan duck is a critically endangered bird endemic to Hawaii that in 1911 had fewer than 20 birds due to invasive rats. Conservation efforts brought the population back to almost 1,000 birds, but 40 percent of them were lost in 2011 due to the Japan Tsunami. In 2014, however 28 young Laysan ducks were moved to Kure Atoll State Wildlife Sanctuary in an effort to establish a population on Kure.

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Article originally published on Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Giant panda gut bacteria can’t efficiently digest bamboo

Giant-panda-eating-bamboo

Giant panda eating bamboo

The giant panda is known for primarily eating bamboo, but the microbiota it harbors in its stomach actually resembles that which is found in carnivores, a recent study found. It poses a conundrum since pandas spend up to 14 hours a day consuming up to 12.5 kg of bamboo leaves and stems, yet can only digest 17 percent of it.

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Article originally published on Wednesday, May 20, 2015

EU concerned about farming impact on its wildlife

Skylark-portrait

Skylark

In the EU major threats to grasslands, wetlands, and dune habitats were overgrazing, fertilization and pesticides. Fifteen percent of birds in the EU are near threatened or in decline including once common birds such as the skylark.

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Article originally published on Thursday, May 21, 2015

Photos from the front: the California oil spill in pictures

Adult-gray-whale-breaching

Adult gray whale breaching

On Tuesday, an underground oil pipeline burst near Goleta, California spilling crude oil into the Pacific. Whales and sea lions were spotted in the area where the spill occurred.  It is estimated that 21,000 gallons of crude oil entered the ocean.

View original article

Young-California-sea-lion

Young California sea lion

Enjoy your weekend!

William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA

 

May 15

Arkive’s Week in Review — Wildlife News

ICYMI: Arkive has compiled some of the biggest and most interesting headlines from this week.

Article originally published on Friday, May 8, 2015

Researchers find treasure trove of unique, threatened animals in Philippine forest

Palawan-hornbill-perched

Palawan hornbill perched

Researchers are attempting to declare Palawan’s Cleopatra’s Needle Forest Reserve a critical habitat. To be considered a critical habitat the area must support high biodiversity and the animals and plants that live in it must be threatened. Some of the unique species in Palawan include the Palawan bearded pig and the Palawan hornbill.

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Palawan-bearded-pig

Palawan bearded pig

Article originally published on Saturday, May 9, 2015

Black bears chase visitors in Yellowstone National Park

American-black-bear-cinnamon-morph-female-with-cinnamon-and-black-cubs

American black bear, female with cubs

A black bear and her three cubs surprised tourists last week when they appeared on a bridge lined with sightseers. Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, said that “It’s a beautiful animal we can all enjoy. It’s their home. Treat them with respect…”

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Article originally published on Sunday, May 10, 2015

Threat of listing the sage grouse as endangered may be enough to protect the bird

Male-greater-sage-grouse-displaying

Male greater sage-grouse displaying

Simply mentioning the consideration of listing the greater sage grouse as endangered has been enough to raise $424 million since 2010 for restoration and 4.4 million acres of habitat have been conserved.  A loss of habitat and fragmentation has been the primary cause of their decline.

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Article originally published on May 11, 2015

Rhino poaching continues unabated in South Africa

Southern-white-rhinoceros

Southern white rhinoceros

South Africa has already lost 393 rhinos this year. Eighty percent of the world’s rhino population resides in South Africa. Crime syndicates appear to be responsible for the poaching fuelled by a demand for their horns.

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Article originally published on May 12, 2015

The triumph of the bison: Europe’s biggest animal bounces back a century after vanishing

European-bison-resting

European bison resting

In 1927, the European bison became completely extinct in the wild, but since then has made an amazing recovery with over 5,000 bison in existence today. The European bison is found in nine countries, as far west as Germany and as far east as Russia. The most recent country to welcome back the bison was Romania where it had vanished in 1862.

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Article originally published on May 13, 2015

Fewer shark are being caught – and that’s not good news

Blue-shark

Blue shark

Shark catches are down 20 percent from their peak in 2003. In 2003, fishing fleets netted 900,000 metric tons of shark. Unfortunately, however, one of the reasons that shark catches have decreased is simply because there are less sharks.

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Article originally published on Thursday, May 14, 2015

South African Airways bans all wildlife trophies from flights

Caracal-cub

Caracal cub

SAA chose to ban all wildlife trophies on their flights after wildlife traffickers attempted to smuggle ivory to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Species targeted by hunters range from crocodiles to caracals and baboons.

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Young-southern-chacma-baboon-sitting

Young southern chacma baboon sitting

Enjoy your weekend!

William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA

 

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