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Big cats face BIG trouble

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People love t heir cats. From cute photos, to hilarious videos, Gifs and memes shared across social media, we can’t get enough of our favourite fur balls. And yet, life for their wild cousins couldn’t be bleaker. Recent statistics on big cat numbers The twenty first century has become an exponentially dangerous place for big cats to be. Of the 40 species of wild cats, roughly 80% are now in serious decline and 25 species are threatened with extinction. This includes some of our most iconic cats that are now in the midst of a desperate struggle for survival. Lions are now extinct in 26 of the countries they once inhabited. In May 2018, 54 lions were killed in just a few days on a farm in South Africa. There are now more lions on captive farms in South Africa than in the wild there. Males are particularly popular for hunting in Africa and it is estimated that of the 20,000 left in the wild, only 4,500 are male. Tiger numbers have plummeted by 96.8% in just 20 years T

1 million species now at risk of extinction

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I’ve had an 18-month hiatus from conservation blogging but I haven't stopped following the crises that occur daily around the globe.  Aside from a change in profession, studying, volunteering and being lucky enough to travel, I have followed a multitude of conservation issues and the social media excoriation of problems from the continuation of illegal hunting in the UK; the devastating bushfires in Australia; Trump’s shift in policy over trophy imports that could open the floodgates to further trophy slayings; South Africa’s lion farms, Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Greta Thunberg’s epic campaign to raise awareness of the state of climate change that saw her named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year 2019 . Seeing the uprising of spirited teens unwilling to accept the trajectory the planet is on for the 6 th mass extinction and social collapse is inspirational. But it also highlights the painfully toxic situation we are all a part of that governments seem adamant to quieten.

Conservation etiquette: are our words causing more harm than good?

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  How the way we engage with supporters in our campaigns might actually be harming the success of the campaign over time and discrediting our groups. Pilot whales are killed for food during a Grind Being a member of several conservation groups in the UK and abroad, I have had many a scathing debate or heated discussion with those on the pro side of hunting and mindless killing of animals. None of them resulted in a positive solution for either side. This got me thinking. When creating material for a conservation cause or campaign, what kind of language and persuasion should we be using to ensure the success of the campaign? Faroese viewpoints Last year, I learnt an important lesson whilst arguing with the Faroese over the annual Grind. With the likes of Sea Shepherd and other anti-whaling groups bringing the Grind into the media spotlight, the Faroese have had a backlash of criticism and abuse. It’s a very emotive subject with people on both sides impassioned and exaspe

Woeful Woburn Forerunnners in UK Trophy Hunting.

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Red deer in the Woburn Deer Park who boast of producing the  biggest antlers in Europe.  (Photo credit: Paul O'Connor) What is trophy hunting? Trophy hunting involves the paying of a fee to hunt an animal for ' the sole purpose of winning a part of its body as a ‘trophy ' , including antlers, heads, skin and bones. It is not something generally associated with the UK.  Woburn Estate herald their herd The Woburn Estate Deer Park was set up in 1993 with a vision to maximise the genetics of red deer and produce some of the biggest antlered red deer in the world. The deer are farmed for excellence and the semen of their sires sold. A quick visit to their website and their true intentions become unequivocal: they pride themselves on the size of the antlers, not the health of their deer. The males for sale are numbered, not named. They boast of the size and strength of the males, not the overall health of the herd. Woburn's Deer Park claims to be one

Bay cats baffling felid experts.

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  The enigma of the Bornean bay cat means we know virtually nothing about them .   Most of us love a cat. We just can’t resist their contented purrs, sneakily agile antics and the warmth they share when curled up on a comfy lap. But, one cat is such a mystery to us that TS Eliot's famous mystery cat, Macavity, pales into insignificance. Bay cat description Deep in the Bornean rainforests and swamps, a chestnut streak may be the only glimpse of the mysterious Bornean bay cat that those seeking it may ever see. Not much bigger than their average house cat cousins, the beautiful bay cat has a relatively long body and tail and short, rounded ears. Their tails have a distinct white stripe that taper to a white tip. Although the chestnut-red form is most common, some bay cats have a grey-black coloration. Their underparts are paler: ranging from a gold-tan on their bellies, that fades to white at the chin. Some have been known to have pale, black spots and fle

Asian elephants being skinned to extinction

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One of the elephants found in Myanmar with its skin removed. Sick new poaching trend As if elephants didn’t have enough to deal with due to the ivory trade, now they are being persecuted for their skin. The UK’s Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, recently announced plans to ban the sale of all ivory products. But this doesn’t affect the current poaching methods or save the 20 elephants recently killed. Why? Because in a sick new trend that has been circulating for the last 3 years or so, elephants are now being hunted in Asia only for their thick hides. The 20 were killed by poisonous darts – some of them mothers and calves. The skin was half-peeled off whilst their bodies were still warm, and their remains left in the forest to rot. Traditional beliefs across Asia have exacerbated this trend of using elephant skin to make bracelets, further decimating their declining numbers. This horrifying poaching epidemic stems from this lucrative business opportunity with claims

Mystery disappearance of UK's rarest raptor still unsolved

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A slate-grey male Montagu's harrier shows off the black wing markings . UK’s rarest raptor If you’ve never heard of a Montagu’s harrier , it’s hardly surprising: with only four breeding pairs in the UK, they are officially the rarest raptor and the rarest breeding bird with a precarious status. Found in the east and south of the country, they are summer visitors, migrating south to Africa for winter. Harriers are renowned for their exquisite aerial acrobatics, passing food in flight and performing ingenious displays during courtship. The Montagu’s agility and elegance when hunting makes them a majestic harrier and particularly spectacular to watch. To learn more about them, experts have been tagging individuals to track their migration, habits and breeding grounds.  Each pair needs special protection and their nests are kept secret, so egg poachers cannot detect them, and they can be left undisturbed.  The tagging process has also meant secretive meetings with o