From This Dish is Veg
A new report conducted by a consortium of conservation groups including the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Panthera and the Wildlife Conversation Society (WCS) reveals the unfortunate news that populations of big cats and rare canids are sharply declining due to a multitude of increasing threats.
The study, entitled “The Fading Call of the Wild”, specifically points out over-development of land and direct killing by poachers and other hunting for the steep drop in numbers of wildcats such as lions, cheetahs and snow leopards and wild dogs like the Ethiopia wolf and bush dog face.
The report also offers a solution to this growing crisis, calling for an increase in conservation resources and “swift” policy changes that would particularly result from the passage of the Great Cats and Rare Canids Conservation Act. The Act is being championed by a bi-partisan group of Senators including Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
The House passed the legislation by a two-thirds majority in April of 2009 and without a rapid response from the Senate the measure will expire later this year.
"Great cats and rare canids are currently suffering from a variety of threats and the positive impact from their protection will no doubt benefit them and many other species," said Jeff Flocken, DC Office Director, IFAW. "The Great Cats and Rare Canids Conservation Act offers viable and valuable methods to ensure a safe future for these majestic animals."
An excerpt from the report provides a glimpse of the findings:
- A century ago there were as many as 200,000 lions living in Africa, today there are fewer than 30,000. Lions are now extinct from 26 countries that they formerly occupied. The single greatest threat to lions is killing by people who own livestock. Herders and ranchers shoot, trap and poison lions across their range.
- There are fewer than 500 Darwin's Fox living today. The animal are found only in Chile and their restricted distribution makes them highly vulnerable to extinction. The gentle and curious canids are not fearful of people which contributes to their endangerment, however timber exploration and land development are the two biggest factors that have pushed the animals to the brink.
- There are fewer than 7,000 snow leopards in the wild today. Snow leopard poaching is rampant with their bones and hides frequently confiscated in illegal shipments of wildlife parts bound for markets in China and throughout Asia.
- Fewer than 500 Ethiopian wolves remain with more than half found in the Bale Mountains. The highly social animals live in packs which makes them especially vulnerable when their populations decrease. Entire packs are wiped out by rabies outbreaks, while those that survive face rapid loss of habitat.
- One of the most ecologically and genetically unique animals, African wild dogs exist in less than seven percent of their historic range, and are extinct in 22 countries that they formerly inhabited. Accidental snaring and rabies have decimated populations throughout Africa, and fewer than 8,000 of the animals remain.
See a full copy of the report here.