|Wild Cattle News 2005
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All the news
|26th November 2005, The Economist
||To the top
| The shaggiest prize
Bison-hunting returns to Montana
On November 15th, after a 14-year
hiatus, Montana re-opened hunting season on bison drifting across the
northern border of Yellowstone National Park. Within the park, they are
protected and essential to its identity. Outside it they are now, once
again, fair game for trophy-hunters.
In 1902 23 wild bison were left in
Yellowstone, the only part of the country where they survived. The
banning of commercial hunting, and careful management of the animals
that were left, has changed all that. Yellowstone now has a record
Wandering wild bison are no respecters
on fences, and think any patch of grass is their own. They are also
unafraid of humans, and quick to charge. Cattlemen are especially
nervous of them because they may carry brucellosis, or undulant fever,
which can in theory be transmitted to cattle and cause spontaneous
abortions. Chris Smith of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and
Parks says much has changed since the last hunt. “We used to have
a zero-tolerance policy. Every bison entering Montana was hazed back
into the park or shot. Now we’ve got 480,000 acres in Montana
where bison are tolerated.” Such a policy, Mr Smith says,
“re-engages the hunter”, rather than simply treating the
bison as a pest to be eliminated.
And hunters are delighted to be
re-engaged. The Montana Department of Livestock, which still has to
give permission for hunts, has issued 50 licences; 6,000 people has
applied for one.
The calving season is over for rare
European bison in Prioksky-Terrasny Zapovednik. The last baby bison
this year was born to a female named Murimora. The baby girl was named
Muvana. Her father – Shpory – was brought to Russia from
Germany in 2000. The head of the breeding center, Natalia Treboganova,
said that a total of 11 bison were born this year – five males
and six females.
European bison once roamed throughout
Europe until driven to extinction in the wild by hunting in the 1920s.
Fortunately, a handful of bison was preserved in zoos around Europe.
Over half a century, Russian scientists have worked to save the species
from extinction by breeding the bison in centers like the one in
Prioksky-Terrasny Zapovednik and reintroducing the animals into the
wild. Today, wild bison roam once again in forests in western Russia
and the Caucasus Mountains. However, still threatened by poaching and
habitat loss, the species is not out of the woods yet.
Far from home in a remote region of
Australia roams the world's largest herd of a wild, pure-bred species
of threatened Indonesian cattle. The banteng's overseas success
suggests that introducing endangered exotic species into other
countries might be a feasible option for conservation, though there
will always be ecological risks associated, says Corey Bradshaw of
Charles Darwin University in Darwin, Australia.
In Asia there are fewer than 5000 wild, pure-strain banteng (Bos javanicus),
living in small populations. Their range has declined by 85 per cent in
the past 15 to 20 years, and the World Conservation Union lists the
species as "severely threatened". Importantly for conservation efforts,
analysis of the Australian herd's mitochondrial and nuclear DNA by
Bradshaw and colleagues shows the animals to be pure-strain wild
banteng (Conservation Biology, vol 20, p 1306).
The Australian herd sprang from 20
banteng introduced in 1849, and now stands at 6000, of which hunters
pay to shoot around 40 males each year. Until now it was not known
whether the herd was pure-bred, and so potentially deserving of
conservation, or whether the animals had interbred with other species.
The work shows that populations of a large threatened species can be
established outside their native ranges.
Last year, a team led by Harry Greene
of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, suggested introducing
African and Asian species such as lions and elephants to the western US
to replace megafauna wiped out during the Pleistocene 13,000 years ago (Nature,
vol 436, p 913). "We need to carefully consider bold, even risky new
approaches to conservation in the face of our worsening global
extinction crisis," Greene says.
Australia also lost its megafauna
during the Pleistocene. "Introducing endangered herbivores back into
the system might have a lot of ecological benefits," says Bradshaw. "It
would require a lot of research, and we would have to be extremely
careful, but I think it could be done."
To succeed, new colonies of threatened
species would probably have to be commercial ventures, the team thinks.
Safari hunting could be one way to make such a project realistic.
"Generally, people don't see the value in things unless they can see a
direct economic benefit," Bradshaw says.
CAMBODIA-DRY FOREST - After a year and
a half establishing a protected area in the wilderness of eastern
Cambodia, the Srepok Wilderness Area (SWA) project is proving that the
area is an exceptional refuge for endangered wildlife. Camera trapping
in June 2005 brought in a series of photos of the critically endangered
wild water buffalo. The SWAP buffalo photos are the first since a
single photo was taken in 2001, by a joint survey conducted by the
Wildlife Conservation Society and the Cat Action Treasury.
recent photo series shows at least three adults, three sub-adults and
one calf, indicating that there is hope for recruitment in the
population. The SWAP wild water buffaloes comprise the last remaining
population in all of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and eastern Thailand.
Although the situation is serious in terms of population numbers, it is
believed that the resident population, estimated 30-50 animals, now at
least stands a chance of survival.
Future work will include further
strengthening the protection of the animals, and intensifying
monitoring at the site where the buffalo were caught on film.
Additionally, efforts will be made to obtain dung and hair samples, so
that DNA analysis can determine whether this population has any
relation to nearby domestic buffalo stock.
Camera traps have confirmed that SWA
harbors several other threatened species of which only tracks and dung
have been found, this includes gaur, banteng, Eld's deer, leopard,
dhole, and Asiatic jackal. Some species not yet photographed include
tiger (tracks), Asian elephant (tracks and fresh dung), Siamese
crocodile (tracks and dung) and Malayan Sun Bear (seen twice).
(Martin von Kasche, June 17, 2005)
|April 2005, Re-introduction News No. 24
||To the top
|Malaysia gaur in situ conservation: re-introduction program
The gaur (Bos gaurus)
re-introduction program is being implemented in Peninsular Malaysia by
the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia
(DWNP) following the IUCN/SSC Guidelines for Re-introductions developed
by the Re-introduction Specialist Group of The World Conservation
Union’s (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC). The restocking
program is to restock and re-establish a viable, free ranging
population of gaur into its natural habitat using captive-bred stock.
The Krau Wildlife Reserve (KWR) was selected as the first release site
because besides being the gaur’s historical range, it is a
protected wildlife reserve furnished with a well-designed management
Krau Game Reserve was established under
the Wild Animals and Birds Protection Enactment (1921) in 1923. In
1968, a Steven’s Report (1968) recommended that the Krau Game
Reserve be renamed the Krau Wildlife Reserve. The management of the
Krau Wildlife Reserve was then transferred from Pahang State Game
Department to the Federal Game Department (Department of Wildlife and
National Parks) in 1976 with the total area of 60,338 hectares (DWNP
and DANCED, 2001).
The feasibility studies and
preparation, which included field surveys, for the gaur re-introduction
program began in early 2004. Secondary signs such as of bedding and
feeding as well as footprints suggested the presence of a herd of
gaurs, comprising 1 adult male, 3 adult females and 1 calf in the KWR.
Under the restocking program, the DWNP plans to release 3 gaurs (1 male
& 2 females) from the captive-bred stock in the Jenderack Selatan
Wildlife Conservation Centre, Pahang. The inbreeding co-efficiencies of
the potential offspring of these 3 gaurs were calculated based on the
gaur studbook records. The values generated were relatively low. The
gaur Conservation Awareness Increment Program for local communities was
conducted amongst the Indigenous communities and the Malay Community.
The construction of a 200 m x 200 m paddock in Jenderack Selatan
Wildlife Conservation Center for monitoring and soft training of the 3
selected gaurs prior to the release was completed in early 2004 and is
ready to be utilized for the restocking program. The release program
commences in early 2005.
DWNP & DANCED, 2001. Krau Wildlife Reserve Management Plan 2002-2006. DNWP, Kuala Lumpur. Pp31.
Contributed by Dennis Ten Choon Yung & Siti Hawa Yatim, Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Malaysia. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Three persons have been detained by
Forest authorities for allegedly poisoning eight Indian bison in
Junona area of Chandrapur forest range in east Maharashtra.
"Apprently in an attempt to kill wild
animals, including cheetals or sambhar, some persons allegedly poisoned
these bison who came in search of water yesterday," according to
sources at Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM), the
authority, under whose jurisdiction the area falls.
Villagers who noticed the dead bison immediately informed the FDCM officials, the sources said.
Three persons from nearby Mohadi
village were detained last evening for questioning and an FIR has been
lodged, they said adding, offences under relevant sections of Wildlife
Conservation Act have been registered against them.