Jan 27

#LoveSpecies nominee: okapi

Nominated by: Tusk Task Force

Why do you love it? 

Even though the okapi resembles the striped markings of a zebra on its behind, it is actually closely related to their tall cousins, the giraffe. Due to their common remarkable DNA, the okapi and the giraffe are the only living members of the family, Giraffidae. Okapis are only found in the northeast forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and their name actually means “the forest giraffe” for they rely on forests to survive. Like their cousins they have long tongues that can go from 14 to 18 inches but unlike giraffes, they are about the size of a zebra. The okapi is the symbol of the DRC and provides important biodiversity benefits to all the other species where it roams.

What are the threats to the Okapi? 

Since the okapi is only endemic in the DRC, their numbers have gone down tremendously since the discovery of their species in 1901 by humans. The okapi has been a protected national treasure of the Congo since 1933 but they are now listed as Endangered by the IUCN. Major threats include habitat loss due to deforestation and human settlement. Extensive hunting for their bushmeat and skin have also led to the decline in their populations. The most recent and dire threat on the okapi is the presence of illegal armed groups around protected areas, inhibiting conservation and monitoring by conservation groups, especially in the Virunga National Park. There are only 10,000-25,000 left of them in the wild, primarily in the Ituri Forest in the DRC.

What are you doing to save the okapi?

Tusk Task Force has recently included the okapi as one of its four target species (along with the elephant, giraffe, and the rhino) to defend because of their close relationship to the giraffe so they are partnering with the Okapi Conservation Project (OKP) to protect okapi populations. The OKP was established in 1987 which developed the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in 1993 to protect the species. In June 2012, a gang of militant poachers attacked the headquarters of the Reserve killing six guards and OKP staff in addition to 13 of the species.

Due to wildlife trafficking, Tusk Task Force is committed to help defend the okapi and its park rangers from further violence on a three-prong approach against wildlife terrorism:

Advocacy: 1. Build public awareness through consulting, education, public relations, and research; 2. Influence public policy channels by supporting legislation supporting okapi conservation on the international, national, state, and local levels; 3. Ally and consult with other advocates and NGOs on their targeted okapi conservation campaigns; 4. Deliver public policy advocacy resources to advocates and/or individuals at the grassroots level through our Tusk Ambassadors™ program; and, 5. Support global advocates on all levels, aligned with our mission, promoting okapi conservation.

Intelligence: 1. Provide a comprehensive repository of intelligence on the subject of wildlife terrorism including the DoW or DATA on Wildlife™ (Database of All Terrorist Activities on Wildlife) with regards to okapi population; 2. Compile, analyse, provide, and share intelligence of okapi casualties to all advocates and NGOs; 3. Promote data-driven and knowledge-based approach to help us address solutions to alleviate okapi mortality rates; 4. Authenticate with intelligence sources to confirm information regarding general and specific wildlife terrorism events on the okapi; and, 5. Corroborate each source of intelligence we acquire using “triangulation” or “five points” methodology to make sure that the source is as accurate as possible.

Protection: 1. Allocate tactical and operational resources to wildlife park rangers protecting the okapi; 2. Execute direct and in-direct force protection programs through our Tusk Defenders™ program; 3. Partner with other NGOs to help with their anti-poaching and okapi conservation efforts; 4. Ally with technology firms to enhance innovative tools to combat poaching of the okapi; and, 5. Collaborate with other NGOs to support a vibrant wildlife economy instead of a violent extinction economy that includes humanitarian aid to communities affected by wildlife terrorism.

Tusk Task Force observes the World Okapi Day on October 18 every year.

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VOTE FOR ME!

Feb 1

We’ve asked conservation organisations around the world to nominate a species that they believe to be overlooked, underappreciated and unloved, and tell us why they think that they deserve a fair share of the limelight, this Valentine’s Day.

Each nominee’s story is featured on the Arkive blog with information on the species, what makes them so special, the conservation organisation that nominated them and how they are working to save them from extinction.

Click the ‘unloved species’ tag above to see all of the nominations and their blogs.

Once you have perused the blogs you can vote for your favourite to help get them into the top ten unloved species and get them the recognition that they truly deserve! Share your favourite with others using the #LoveSpecies hashtag on Twitter and Facebook and tell them why they should vote for them too. Voting closes on February 14th at 23:59 PST (07:59 GMT).

Join us and our conservation partners in celebrating and raising awareness for some of the world’s most unloved species this Valentine’s Day!

 

Species: Giraffe

Nominated by: Tusk Task Force

Conservation status: There are nine subspecies of giraffes and most are threatened. Some subspecies are classified Vulnerable (Nubian, 250 left in the wild in E/S Sudan, SW Ethiopia) and Endangered such as the Rothschild’s (Baringo/Uganda, fewer than 700 in Kenya, South Sudan, and Uganda) and West African (Niger/Nigerian, with less than 220 remaining in Cameroon, SW Niger). There are only 38 Congolese giraffes left in the wild.

Giraffes are now extinct in Angola, Eritrea, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, and Senegal but reintroduced in Rwanda and the Swaziland.

Why do you love it? Due to the “silent extinction” that the species is now facing. Tusk Task Force is the only USA-based NGO focusing on giraffes (along with the elephant and the rhino) as part of its wildlife conservation mission.

What are the threats to the giraffe? Pervasive poaching of giraffe has been reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and Tanzania with heads and bones believed to be sold for $140 USD each. Bush meat also provides a substantial source of income for impoverished rural communities in rural Africa.

Giraffes are poached for their brains and bone marrow, sold as fake cure for HIV, AIDS and cancer in China and Vietnam by smugglers. Giraffe tails are poached to make bracelets, necklaces, and other jewellery. In Tanzania and the Congo, giraffes are killed by wildlife terrorists for food while they poach for elephants and rhinos, making poaching a triple-threat to three species at the same time. Giraffes are also suffering as a result of indiscriminate killing for ivory. The “silent extinction” of giraffes is exacerbated by habitat destruction due to deforestation, development, and farming.

What are you doing to save it? Our vision and mission to save the species are three-fold: Advocacy, Protection, and Research. Along with the UK-based Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) and the Giraffe Conservation Alliance (GCA), we aim to improve the giraffe’s population outcomes that is free from harm, due to human conflict and human violence.

Advocacy:

  • Build public awareness through consulting, education, public relations, and research
  • Influence public policy channels by supporting legislation supporting giraffe conservation on the international, national, state, and local levels
  • Ally and consult with other advocates and NGOs on their targeted giraffe conservation campaigns
  • Deliver public policy advocacy resources and to advocates and/or individuals at the grassroots level through our Tusk Ambassadors™ program
  • Support global advocates on all levels, aligned with our mission, promoting giraffe conservation

Protection:

  • Allocate tactical and operational resources to wildlife park rangers protecting giraffes
  • Execute direct and in-direct force protection programs through our Tusk Defenders™ program
  • Partner with other NGOs to help with their anti-poaching and giraffe conservation efforts
  • Ally with technology firms to enhance innovative tools to combat poaching of giraffes
  • Collaborate with other NGOs to support a vibrant wildlife economy instead of a violent extinction economy that includes humanitarian aid to communities affected by poaching

Research:

  • Provide a comprehensive repository of intelligence on the subject including the DoW or DATA on Wildlife™ (Database of All Terrorist Activities on Wildlife) with regards to giraffe population
  • Compile, analyse, provide, and share intelligence of giraffe casualties to all advocates and NGOs
  • Promote data-driven and knowledge-based approach to help us address solutions to alleviate giraffe mortality rates
  • Authenticate with intelligence sources to confirm information regarding general and specific wildlife terrorism events on giraffes
  • Corroborate each source of intelligence we acquire using “triangulation” or “five points” methodology to make sure that the source is as accurate as possible.

Find out more about the work of Tusk Task Force

Did you know the okapi is the giraffe’s closest relative? Find out more about the okapi on Arkive

VOTE NOW!

 

Jun 26

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, Jun 19, 2015

Hawk-moths are capable of slowing their brains to stay in rhythm with their environment

Oleander-hawk-moth-on-oleander-flowers

Oleander hawk-moth on oleander flowers

Hawk moths can slow parts of their brain in order to adjust to changes in their environment. They operate with slower visual processing in low light conditions.

View original article

Article originally published on Saturday, Jun 20, 2015

North American ‘ghost cat’ extinct, Fish and Wildlife Service states

Puma-swimming

Puma swimming

The eastern cougar was last seen in the 1930s, and had been placed on the endangered species list in 1973. In 2011, this subspecies of the cougar was listed as extinct. The Fish and Wildlife Service has now officially declared the eastern cougar extinct.

View original article

Article originally published on Sunday, Jun 21, 2015

Protest over video showing men ‘surfing’ on top of whale shark

Whale-shark

Whale shark

An online video has surfaced of two men surfing on a whale shark. The Marine Conservation Institute has condemned the act as ‘unacceptable’. Meanwhile the Marine Connection has called for these men to be ‘brought to justice’.

View original article

Article originally published on Monday, Jun 22, 2015

Wolves, monkeys: Hunting allies in Ethiopia

Ethiopian-wolf-yawning

Ethiopian wolf yawning

Apparently, Ethiopian wolves are more successful at catching their prey (i.e. rodents) when they are with the geladas. Researchers hypothesize that these monkey herds flush out the rodents or the rodents do not notice the wolves when the monkeys are present.

View original article

Male-gelada

Male gelada

Article originally published on Tuesday, Jun 23, 2015

Cat update: Lion and African golden cat down, Iberian lynx up

Iberian-lynx-at-rest

Iberian lynx at rest

The West African lion has been declared critically endangered with only 121-375 mature lions remaining. Meanwhile, the African golden cat has been moved from near threatened to vulnerable primarily due to deforestation and poaching.  On a more positive note, the Iberian lynx is no longer critically endangered and is now only endangered with 156 mature lynx roaming Spain and Portugal.

View original article

African-golden-cat-female

African golden cat female

Article originally published on Wednesday, Jun 24, 2015

New species: Hairy-chested yeti crab found in Antarctica

Shore-crab-dorsal-view

Shore crab

A new species of yeti crab has been discovered in the waters off Antarctica and is only the third known species of yeti crab. In order to survive at these frigid temperatures, this new species congregates around hydrothermal vents in tight clusters with other conspecifics. It belongs to the diverse order Decapoda that includes the colorful shore crab.

View original article

Article originally published on Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

Inside the fight to stop giraffes’ ‘silent extinction’

Adult-and-juvenile-west-African-giraffe

Adult and juvenile west African giraffe

Over the past 15 years the giraffe’s population has dropped from about 140,000 to 80,000. Habitat loss and poaching are the main threats to giraffes. There is only one species of giraffe in the world.

View original article

Enjoy your weekend!

William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA 

Jun 4

Summer is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere and members of the Arkive Team can often be caught daydreaming at our desks about lemurs in Madagascar or giant tortoise in the Galapagos. This got us wondering what volunteer field opportunities might be out there for quenching both our wanderlust and interest in supporting conservation.

Below is a list of incredible chances to get up close and personal with species and the researchers that have dedicated their lives to them. Talk about a once in a lifetime experience! Which of these are your favorite?

Cheetah Conservation/Administrative (Namibia)

juvenile-cheetah-head-portrait

Juvenile cheetah

We originally mentioned this amazing opportunity with the Cheetah Conservation Fund in the story that kicked off our Arkive’s Conservation Heroes Series. Volunteers are needed to assist with data entry and other office related tasks but they will also help with chopping up meat for feeding the cheetah along with collecting and cataloging scat samples – joy!

Deer Herbivory Study (Seattle, Washington)

Odocoileus-virginianus-clavium-doe

White-tailed deer doe

Wolves are recolonizing northeast Washington state in America and scientists at the University of Washington can use some help discovering how the reintroduction of this species is affecting white-tailed deer grazing. Volunteers joining this study (available in two week increments) may have the opportunity to practice radio telemetry, install trail cameras, review camera footage and more. Talk about a serious resume-booster!

Fairywren Personality Study (Melbourne, Australia)

The white-winged fairy-wren is a close relative of the superb fairy-wren that is part of this study

Calling all bird fans! Volunteers are needed to help the University of Melbourne monitor a color-banded population of superb fairywrens to study their personalities. They will also census the birds as well as search and monitor their nests – amazing. We’re checking our passports for the minimum 6 blank pages as we speak!

Biological program – Habitat Restoration (Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge)

Laysan duck vocalizing

This opportunity has it all: habitat restoration, invasive species removal, bird nest monitoring, and all in a ridiculously beautiful island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Volunteers will join the United States Fish and Wildlife Service with native plant propagation and even helping to remove ocean debris before it pollutes the health of the local animals and environment.  Overall, a total win-win!

Galapagos Turtle Center – Conservation (Galapagos Islands)

Volcan-Alcedo-tortoise-in-habitat

Volcan Alcedo tortoise in habitat

You had us at Galapagos! Volunteers with the Intercultural Outreach Initiative Galapagos will feed and care for tortoises, maintain their enclosures, and measure their shells for growth charts. They will also educate tourists about tortoises and inform them of rules and regulations. Where do we sign up?!

Giraffe and Wildlife Conservation Project (Nairobi, Kenya)

Male-southern-giraffe-drinking-at-waterhole

Male southern giraffe drinking at waterhole

This project has really piqued our interest, not just because it involves working with the amazing species and habitats of Kenya, but because part of the experience involves tracking large mammals alongside young Masai Mara. If you are interested in the intersection of conservation and culture, this is for you! Volunteers with Life Net Nature assist with new studies of Masai giraffe nursery groups and help monitor wildlife. The volunteer dates are scheduled at peak wildebeest migration period – as if we needed any more reason to join!

Monitor Endangered Lemurs (Madagascar)

Black-and-white ruffed lemur resting, close up of head

For all lovers of lemurs, have we got a treat for you. Join the Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium to help gather information on lemur habitat usage, population dynamics, and territorial range, all of which will aid in conservation of these endangered species. Imagine walking the forests of Madagascar with researches tracking and observing radio-collared lemurs. Yep, we’re in!

Gadoli and Manda Khal Fee Simple Estates – Habitat restoration (Uttarakhand, India) 

The forests of the Gadoli and Manda Khal Fee Simple Estates are prime habitat for leopards

Previously highlighted in our Arkive’s Conservation Heroes series, volunteers would assist with The Gadoli and Manda Khal Wildlife Conservation Trust with restoration and reforestation of degraded forest within the estates. They would also help with surveys of the flora and fauna of the area and work with local school children to share the importance of this special place.

To learn more contact Subir Chowfin: thcmchowfin@yahoo.com

Note that, while the Arkive Team is sharing these opportunities with you, we are not responsible or liable for the integrity or safety of the programs or the entities that have organized them. We just think these are pretty amazing opportunities and strive to help spread the word of species and the organizations dedicated to helping them to survive. If you like this feature, let us know in the comments and we’ll bring you more!

 

 William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA 

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