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The Endangered Unknown – The Mountain Sweet Pitcher Plant

By Peter Kleinhenz
December 22, 2011
File under: Environmental Concerns, Environmental Protection, Healthy Habitat, Poaching, Wildlife

High on a mountaintop in northern South Carolina, a buzzing fly meets a sweet smell. Flying towards the scent, the fly soon finds that the source is on the edge of a strange-looking plant. The fly stops and finds itself in a cesspool of delicious nectar. While following the trail of this nectar, the fly slips on a waxy surface and falls down into the plant. The fly tries to fly out but super-slick surfaces directly underneath downward-pointing hairs prevent any movement.

For several minutes the fly struggles in the water before exhaustion sets in and it drowns. This tale seems like something out of a poorly-written monster movie but, in reality, it’s a common occurrence due to the incredible adaptations of one of the most interesting and threatened plants on Earth: the Mountain Sweet Pitcher Plant.

The Mountain-Sweet Pitcher Plant, Sarracenia rubra ssp. jonesii, lives mainly in habitats that are known as cataract bogs. These consist of exposed slabs of granite with cool mountain water trickling over parts of their surfaces, inundating accumulated detritus and moss with water. It is here that carnivorous plants such as pitcher plants grow. …read more of The Endangered Unknown – The Mountain Sweet Pitcher Plant here

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Saving Elephants in India: Dr. Tammie Matson

By Lavanya Sunkara
December 5, 2011
File under: Animal Protection, Interviews, Poaching, Research, Wildlife

It is not uncommon for newspapers in India to report elephant and other wild animal encounters in towns and villages. These creatures are losing their habitat and finding nowhere to go but the human inhabited areas. Dr. Tammie Matson, a wildlife conservationist, started Animal Works, an organization addressing the issue of human-animal conflict in the Assam region of India and raising money for orphaned elephants.

Dr. Matson is an Australian zoologist who spent over a decade working on threatened species in southern Africa. She ran WWF Australia’s national species program from 2007 to 2008. She has published two books, “Dry Water – Diving headfirst into Africa”, about her experiences being a wildlife researcher in Africa, and “Elephant Dance – a story of love and war in the elephant kingdom” based on her work on human-elephant conflict.

Dr. Matson recently won InStyle magazine’s prestigious Women of Style award for the environment in June of 2010. Here, she talks about her life as a conservationist and what we can do to save elephants.  …read more of Saving Elephants in India: Dr. Tammie Matson here

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Extinction of Vietnamese Javan Rhino Confirmed

By Rhishja Larson
November 23, 2011
File under: Black Market, Conservation, Education, Poaching, Wildlife

Photo © WWF-Greater Mekong

A tragic loss for the wildlife community, our planet, and future generations: The extinction of the Javan rhino subspecies, Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus, has been confirmed by WWF and the International Rhino Foundation (IRF).

DNA match

The horrible story began last year, on April 29th, when the body of a female Javan rhino was found in Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam – the last location of Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus.

She had been shot and her horn was removed.

Dung samples collected during a 2009/2010 WWF survey were subsequently analyzed at Queen’s University, Canada, and it was determined that they belonged to just one rhino.

Unfortunately, the samples …read more of Extinction of Vietnamese Javan Rhino Confirmed here

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The Endangered Unknown: Sumatran Tiger

By Peter Kleinhenz
June 21, 2011
File under: Black Market, Habitat Loss, Poaching, Species Profiles, Wildlife


Blending in perfectly with its dark rainforest habitat, a predator crouches in wait as a wild boar roots around in the soil. Watching intently, the animal waits until the perfect moment to pounce.

Before the boar can even sense trouble, jaws are clamping tightly around its neck and it breathes its last breath within a matter of seconds. Within minutes, a large cat and its two young cubs are feeding on fresh meat as their species has been doing for thousands of years.

Though hypothetical in this case, this situation does happen in reality and represents an example of the natural food chain on the island of Sumatra, home of the Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae). …read more of The Endangered Unknown: Sumatran Tiger here

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Operation Jaguar: Poaching and Human-Wildlife Conflict

By Laurel Neme
April 8, 2011
File under: Animal Protection, Conflict with Humans, Conservation, Endangered Species, Poaching, Wildlife

Photo: ‘Tonho da Onca’ (Jaguar Tony). Courtesy of Brazilian Federal Police.

Twenty years ago Brazil’s most notorious jaguar hunter, Teodoro Antonio Melo Neto, also known as “Tonho da onça” or “Jaguar Tony,” swore off poaching after logging 600 kills.

The foe-turned-jaguar-ally began helping conservation agencies track the elusive cats for their monitoring and research and his dramatic change of heart even became the subject of a children’s book, titled Tonho da Onça, which related a conservation message. More recently, however, “Jaguar Tony,” now 71 years old, revealed his true spots when federal agents busted him and seven others for illegal jaguar hunting.

In late 2009, Brazilian federal authorities launched a nine-month investigation, code-named Operation Jaguar, after receiving reports of radio-collared jaguars that had “gone silent” and also of jaguar carcasses on farms in Brazil’s Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland – about the size of Illinois – and prime habitat for the large cats. …read more of Operation Jaguar: Poaching and Human-Wildlife Conflict here

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The Last Black Rhino

By Lavanya Sunkara
April 8, 2011
File under: Animal Sightings, Black Market, Conservation, Endangered Species, Habitat Loss, Poaching, Wildlife


photo credit: Lavanya Sunkara- black rhino sighting in Nairobi National Park

World Wildlife Fund recently reported that at least five endangered rhinos have been killed in Africa since the beginning of 2011. Poaching has grown more rampant in recent years due to rise in demand for the rhinoceros horns in China and Vietnam.

The horn, which sells for a higher price than gold at approximately $57000 a kilogram on the black market, is used as an ingredient in traditional Asian medicine for its supposed benefits in curing ailments from headaches to impotence despite any proof. Last year, in South Africa’s Krugersdorp Park, the last female rhino was left to die after poachers hacked off her horn, leaving her baby orphaned.

This mother and child reminded me of the duo I encountered in Kenya’s Nairobi National Park (NNP) six years ago. …read more of The Last Black Rhino here

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The Endangered Unknown: The Javan Rhinoceros

By Peter Kleinhenz
March 17, 2011
File under: Black Market, Conservation, Conservation Groups, Endangered Species, Habitat Loss, Poaching, Rainforest


In two pockets of dense tropical rainforest separated by thousands of miles lives one of the largest terrestrial mammals on Earth, yet few people are even aware it exists. Unfortunately for this creature, this lack of familiarity also means that few people realize that it is one of the most endangered animals in the world.

The Javan Rhinoceros, Rhinoceros sondaicus, doesn’t exactly stick out like the rhinos we picture roaming the savannahs of Africa. For an animal that is over ten feet long and that can weigh up to two tons, this rhino species is incredibly elusive. Travelling on trails that cut tunnels through thick vegetation, the rhinos spend their time between their choice feeding sites, salt licks, and mud wallows.

Both male and female Javan Rhinos maintain a territory that is marked by way of urine and feces. However, when it’s hot and the bugs are biting, a choice mud wallow is fair game for any rhinos that happen upon it, regardless of whose territory it belongs to. For most of the year, life is pretty plain, simple, and carefree for these large creatures since the adults have no natural predators, even though the females of this particular rhino species almost never have horns. …read more of The Endangered Unknown: The Javan Rhinoceros here

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