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Global Wildlife Group Approves Ban on Capture and Transfer of Wild African Elephants to Zoos

The group that regulates the global trade of wildlife has approved a nearly complete ban on the capture and transfer of wild African elephants

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Global, Wildlife, Elephants
FILE - A herd of elephants walk past a watering hole in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, Oct. 14, 2014. VOA

The group that regulates the global trade of wildlife has approved a nearly complete ban on the capture and transfer of wild African elephants to zoos, despite strong opposition from the United States and some African countries.

Member nations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Geneva approved the near total ban Tuesday after heated debate.

A version of the ban that was slightly weakened by the European Union was approved after it was cleared by a required two-thirds majority vote.

The ban prohibits the transfer of all captured wild African elephants to so-called captive facilities, such zoos, circuses and other entertainment venues. The ban restricts the trade of elephants caught in the wild from Zimbabwe and Botswana to off-site conservation locations or secure areas in their natural habitats.

Global, Wildlife, Elephants
FILE – Visitors watch an elephant at the Milwaukee County Zoo in Wisconsin, July 3, 2019. VOA

The EU amendments included a loophole that allows the transfer of the elephants in “exceptional circumstances” and “in emergency situations” that require consultation with the CITES Animals Committee and the elephant specialist group the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The amendment also states that wild caught elephants already in zoos could be transferred to other facilities outside of Africa.

The U.S. opposed the original and the revised proposals.

Zimbabwe, which has captured and exported more than 100 baby elephants to Chinese zoos in the last seven years according to the Humane Society International, also opposed the decision.

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Humane Society International/Africa director Audrey Delsink praised the vote as “momentous” despite the EU’s “compromised language.”

“Public sentiment is shifting, and people are increasingly outraged at the senseless and cruel practice of snatching baby elephants from the wild to live a life as a zoo exhibit,” Delsink added.

CITES previously banned the trade of elephants in western, central and eastern Africa, citing the need for protection. Some trade, however, has been allowed in southern Africa, where elephant populations are healthier. (VOA)

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Monitoring Method May Help To Conserve Lions in India

In the new study, Keshab Gogoi and his colleagues have demonstrated an alternative method for monitoring Asiatic lions

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Lions
Conserving this sub-specie of lions with the use of best scientific methods is a global priority and responsibility, according to authors of the study from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). Pixabay

An alternative method of monitoring endangered lions in India can help improve estimates of their numbers and also in making informed conservation policy and management decisions.

New conservation practices have helped increase the number of Asiatic lions from 50 to 500 in the Gir Forests of Gujarat.

Accurate estimates are needed for better conservation efforts, according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The existing methods, particularly a technique known as total counts, can miss some and double-count others. Also, they provide limited information on the spatial density.

Conserving this sub-specie of lions with the use of best scientific methods is a global priority and responsibility, according to authors of the study from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

In the new study, Keshab Gogoi and his colleagues have demonstrated an alternative method for monitoring Asiatic lions.

“Our research addresses this priority by developing a robust approach to their population assessment and monitoring, which can be used for all lion populations across the world,” said an author.

Gogoi and colleagues used whisker patterns and permanent body marks to identify lions using a computer programme, and analysed the data with a mathematical modelling method known as ‘spatially explicit capture recapture’ to estimate the lion density.

They also assessed the prey density and other factors that could influence the lion density.

Lion, Predator, Dangerous, Mane, Big Cat, Male, Zoo
An alternative method of monitoring endangered lions in India can help improve estimates of their numbers and also in making informed conservation policy and management decisions. Pixabay

The researchers identified 67 lions of the 368 sightings within the 725 sq km study area in the Gir Forests, estimating an overall density of 8.53 lions per 100 sq km. They found the prey density didn’t appear to influence the lion density variations in the study area.

The lion density was higher in the flat valley habitats (as opposed to rugged or elevated areas) and near sites where food had been placed to attract lions for tourists to see them.

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The study suggests that baiting lions for tourism affects their natural density patterns, in line with other researches that baiting disrupts lion behaviour and social dynamics.

The authors said the alternative monitoring method could be used to assess lions across their range (in India and Africa) and better conservation efforts. (IANS)