Month: February 2020

‘Bad Boy’ stakes Philippine title

first_imgMOST READ We are young Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Love of football, Azkals bring fans to games in Bulacan PH among economies most vulnerable to virus Shanghai officials reveal novel coronavirus transmission modes 30 Filipinos from Wuhan quarantined in Capas EDITORS’ PICK Where did they go? Millions left Wuhan before quarantine Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Chinese-manned vessel unsettles Bohol town Both made the 134-pound limit Friday.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra teammates show love for SlaughterSPORTSWe are youngSPORTSFreddie Roach: Manny Pacquiao is my Muhammad Ali Mainland China virus cases exceed 40,000; deaths rise to 908 Smart’s Siklab Saya: A multi-city approach to esports As fate of VFA hangs, PH and US forces take to the skies for exercise Taiwan minister boards cruise ship turned away by Japan PLAY LIST 01:31Taiwan minister boards cruise ship turned away by Japan01:33WHO: ‘Global stocks of masks and respirators are now insufficient’01:01WHO: now 31,211 virus cases in China 102:02Vitamin C prevents but doesn’t cure diseases like coronavirus—medic03:07’HINDI PANG-SPORTS LANG!’03:03SILIP SA INTEL FUND Roberto Gonzales will put his Philippine lightweight title on the line against Ryan “Crusher” Sermona Saturday night at Agoncillo covered court in Batangas.The 26-year-old Gonzales (27-2-0, 17 knockouts), known as the “Bad Boy of Batangas,” was knocked out by Sermona (19-8-0, 12 KOs) four years ago, snapping his 20-bout winning streak.ADVERTISEMENT Smart hosts first 5G-powered esports exhibition match in PH View commentslast_img read more

Online citizen science data platforms help scientists predict species ranges

first_imgFEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Spiders on the move: a black purse-web spider on the ground in Virginia, USA on left (image by Robbin D. Knapp via Flickr CC 2.0) and a northern black widow spider in dead leaves on right (image by Sean McCann). Article published by Sue Palminteri Researchers paired museum collection information for two species of spiders, dating back several decades, with more recent information from online citizen science databases and compared them to climate data to find areas with conditions suitable for each species.They developed maps of predicted geographic distributions for each species and, despite limited data, their findings suggest ranges of both species have shifted northward over time.The researchers highlight the importance of citizen science data in generating long-term data sets on species distributions. Changing climate has already affected where some species live. To determine how changes in temperature and rainfall patterns may affect a given plant or animal, researchers need to know where the species used to live and where it lives now.Such geographic distribution data help scientists understand a species’ habitat requirements and vulnerability to environmental changes, but they are lacking for many species, especially smaller or less-well-studied ones.Now, though, a new study has demonstrated how the recent availability of online citizen science data may be able to help scientists fill these data gaps to better understand and map species distributions.A colorful but venomous northern black widow spider from Missouri, USA, one of the two focal species in this study. Image by Leslie Durham via BugGuide, CC-BY-ND-NC 1.0.Researchers have traditionally approximated the ranges of plants and animals from collection locations of specimens in museums, private collections and historical literature. But with millions of species and relatively few field scientists, museum data are incomplete: they include only a handful of records for a species, they lack the geographic location of some collection sites, or they pertain to specimens collected decades ago. This is especially true for invertebrates such as insects and other arthropods.Scientists may, therefore, know that a certain species has been found in a few discrete locations, but not how it is distributed across the landscape or where it has been detected since climate shifts have been measured.Help may be on the way, in the form of citizen science, specifically the increasingly popular online amateur naturalist platforms.“Distributions of spiders are relatively poorly known, and range maps are often based just on where scientists have found the species,” said the current study’s lead author, Yifu Wang, in a statement. “Using northern black widow spider and black purse-web spider as examples, this paper illustrates that we can (and should!) incorporate citizen science data and distribution modeling techniques to help bridge the knowledge gaps of less-studied species.”Museum collections meet internet citizen scientistsOnline natural history platforms allow researchers and amateur naturalists alike to upload photos and observation data and receive help from the observer community and regional experts in identifying the species. The tens of thousands of participants on these platforms, who far exceed the small cadre of professional field scientists, produce many thousands of annotated, spatially explicit images and records that researchers have begun to use for mapping species.These online data sets are all relatively new, and so their time frame complements that of most museum data. Wang and her colleagues incorporated data generated on internet-based data platforms by researchers, through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (established in 2001) and Encyclopedia of Life (2008), and citizen scientists, through eBird (2002), eButterfly (2012), iNaturalist (2008), and Bugguide (2004).Wang and her colleagues assessed whether they could successfully match the locations of records collected from museums, research centers, literature, personal collections and the online biodiversity information databases with 55 years of climate data to create models of the geographic distributions of two poorly documented spider species in North America: the northern black widow (Latrodectus variolus) and the black purse-web spider (Sphodros niger). Big Data, Citizen Science, Climate Change, Climate Change And Biodiversity, Conservation Solutions, data, Forgotten Species, Invertebrates, Research, Spiders, Technology, Wildtech Wang told Mongabay-Wildtech that they verified the species’ identifications in the citizen science records by visually reviewing the pictures provided by observers and removing the ones that might be misidentified or might be pets.“We believe museum data are quite reliable because these two species are not hard to identify through body features, especially for experts,” Wang said, “which is also why we can identify people’s observation through photos they provide.”The researchers mapped the location records using a 10-kilometer (6-mile) cell grid for which they had information on temperature and precipitation in different seasons throughout the study period. They therefore also excluded all species location records with a geographic uncertainty greater than 10 kilometers. They developed models of the climatic conditions in which each species is likely to be found, using software that compared the known locations of the species with the climate information in each grid cell.They used a variety of statistical tools to quantify how well a model fits actual data and verify the validity of their final range prediction model. For example, the models incorporated parameters that considered both the identification errors and the uneven geographic distribution of the citizen science observations.“Our models have very high [verification test] values, indicating that they are well-performed models,” Wang said. “In addition, we consulted spider experts to ask if our maps make sense based on their expertise.”Moving NorthWith recent studies suggesting that ranges of similar species are expanding northward, the researchers applied the species location and climate data to determine whether the zones of suitable climate and environment had changed in recent years.They compared the current range predicted by their models to the predicted historical range to test whether the ranges had shifted over time.The modeled historic distribution overlapped substantially with the modeled current distribution for the black purse-web spider, though the results suggest this species’ range may have shifted since 1960, not only expanding along the northern edge in Canada but also contracting in the southwest corner (including Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee).Map of predicted distributions, based on climatic suitability, of the black purse-web spider in North America. The green and purple colors are predicted from 1960–1989 and 1990–2015 observation records, respectively. The observation records are shown for both periods. The southwestern limit of the species’ range is expected to shift north and east, while the northern edge reaches into more northern extremes. Map is Figure 2 from Wang et al (2018). Predicting the distribution of poorly-documented species, Northern black widow (Latrodectus variolus) and Black purse-web spider (Sphodros niger), using museum specimens and citizen science data. PloS one, 13(8), e0201094.The northern edge of the black widow’s range may also have increased over time, though with just 22 historic mapped observations of the black widow, however, the researchers could not create a verifiable model of its historic distribution.“We tried to quantify the [purse-web spider range] shift by calculating the mean difference between the two northern edges,” Wang said, “but the result had a very high standard deviation, i.e. not valid. For L. variolus [northern black widow], since the historical model was not successful, we compared the northern-most records of the two periods and found there is a shift, but of course, this is just an empirical result without statistical tests.”“This data deficiency-induced failure,” the researchers state in their paper, “further reinforces the necessity of digitalizing all available historical records and the incorporation of citizen science data for studying poorly-documented species.”Map of predicted current distribution, based on climatic suitability, of the northern black widow spider in North America. The observation records are shown for both 1960–1989 and 1990–2015, but too few exist for the early period to generate a predicted distribution. This, say researchers, supports the need for more species location data. Map is Figure 1 from Wang et al (2018).The most important environmental factor determining predicted current range for the purse-web spider was the average temperature of the coldest three months of the year. In contrast, for the black widow, the average temperature of the warmest three months most influenced its predicted current range.The researchers suspect that habitat requirements of the two species may explain the different environmental drivers in their models. The purse-web spider specializes in open dry sandy and rocky woodland areas that might make escaping cold winter temperatures difficult, so the temperatures during the coldest quarter of the year could limit their distribution.The northern black widow, here with its web in a Virginia wetland, USA, is among the most venomous spiders in North America but bites only when disturbed. Image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr, CC 2.0The northern black widow often uses man-made shelters to escape cold, but its relatively high metabolic rate, a trait that enables it to withstand cold environments, might be a disadvantage in the heat and could make the temperatures of the year’s warmest quarter a limiting factor.The researchers credit citizen scientists for providing the species location and calendar data that were integral to all of these analyses.Vetting is essential for reliable dataHelpfully, internet-based citizen science databases usually include some vetting by the observer community and regional experts.According to the researchers, observations submitted to certain citizen science platforms such as eBird and eButterfly are vetted by regional experts who validate the precision of geographic coordinates, the observation date and the species, correcting species identification when appropriate. On other platforms, such as iNaturalist and Bugguide, the observer community self-controls the quality of identifications (crowd-source identification). Potential misidentifications are moved to a special forum where experts can confirm the identification.Nevertheless, these data may still need careful vetting by scientists wanting to use them for research. For the current study, for example, the researchers reviewed the species in each of the many images attributed to the species of interest, and they filtered out records with uncertain geographic locations. Citizen science data is generally more accurate for species with easily identified features, such as shapes or colors, say the researchers.Photos taken from different angles provide more information to help experts identify the species. This closeup is of the face of a northern black widow from Missouri, USA. Image by Leslie Durham via BugGuide, CC-BY-ND-NC 1.0.Wang suggested that citizen scientists who want to upload photos to one of these online platforms can best assist scientists by taking photos from multiple angles, as amateur naturalists may not know which body features scientists use to identify different species. “If possible,” Wang said, “a size reference would be helpful as well, for example a coin besides the animal. Geographic location is crucial for the data to be scientifically valuable and useful, and more accurate would be better.”CitationWang, Y., Casajus, N., Buddle, C., Berteaux, D., & Larrivée, M. (2018). Predicting the distribution of poorly-documented species, Northern black widow (Latrodectus variolus) and Black purse-web spider (Sphodros niger), using museum specimens and citizen science data. PloS one, 13(8), e0201094. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

The bioethics of wildlife intervention (commentary)

first_imgArticle published by Mike Gaworecki Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored As health care professionals, veterinarians are uniquely positioned to address complex ethical issues involving human, animal, and ecosystem health — a concept aptly known as “One Health.” This initiative governs the core of conservation medicine and reflects the interrelationship and transdisciplinary approach needed to ultimately ensure the wellbeing of all.Veterinarians regularly wrestle with whether their actions are restorative or destructive, and reflect on a track record of gratifying wins and unsavory losses to learn from.Given our substantial roles in the fate of conservation, it is imperative to debate the significance of interventional efforts and whether they can be rationalized.This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay. A one-day-old springbok rises on his gangly legs — the shriveled umbilical cord still dangling from his ventrum — and begins to boing around his new surroundings. There is plenty to discover in the vast African bushveld, which he proceeds to do with reckless abandon.Suddenly, a group of jackals saunters from behind an acacia tree and one of them seizes the “bokkie” by the neck. Within seconds, a game reserve employee dashes out of his safari vehicle to shoo away the jackals, gingerly picks up the injured springbok, and races to the wildlife clinic. Thankfully, no puncture wounds are detected, only bruising — the bokkie is later returned to the original site. The veterinarian waits from afar, hoping the youngster will rejoin his springbok herd.A month later, an adult male sable is seen hobbling on three legs due to a severe hoof infection. Darting supplies and medications are loaded onto a helicopter, from which the sable is safely anesthetized. After sedation is achieved, the hoof is examined and subsequently treated with saline flush and antibiotics. A reversal drug is then injected into the thigh muscle, upon which personnel are instructed to vacate the premises expediently. Meanwhile, the veterinarian remains on-site to verify the antelope’s full recovery.A young springbok prancing in the air, a behavior known as “pronking.” Photo via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.Clearly, there is never a dull day in wildlife medicine. As an aspiring wildlife veterinarian who plans to pursue conservation medicine, I have frequently encountered this bioethical issue in both my academic studies and fieldwork. The aforementioned circumstances were experiences I witnessed during my summer in Namibia, where I was conducting research and shadowing the resident veterinarian on a wildlife reserve. Although these individual scenarios involved many factors worth analyzing, the veterinarian plays a prominent role in each situation, often deferred to for coordinating the remedial actions taken and their outcomes.The aftermath of the above scenarios: the sable gradually improved post-treatment, whereas the springbokkie was never seen again — and thus, presumed dead.That begs the question: Was it right for the employee to painstakingly pluck the baby springbok from his herd after being attacked by jackals? Were his actions compassionate or officious? Although the infant was promptly returned, it was possible the bokkie was rejected from his herd since the human handling had now covered him in foreign scent. After failing to be adopted back into the group, he was left vulnerable to the pesky jackals once more.Adult male sable antelope (Hippotragus niger). Photo via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.As health care professionals, veterinarians are uniquely positioned to address complex ethical issues involving human, animal, and ecosystem health — a concept aptly known as “One Health.” This initiative governs the core of conservation medicine and reflects the interrelationship and transdisciplinary approach needed to ultimately ensure the wellbeing of all.The history of human-wildlife relations has experienced some challenges and backlash, but handling these interactions involves balancing valid concerns, prioritizing values, and adopting a hybrid perspective. We regularly wrestle with whether our actions are restorative or destructive, and reflect on a track record of gratifying wins and unsavory losses to learn from. Given our substantial roles in the fate of conservation, it is imperative to debate the significance of interventional efforts and whether they can be rationalized.While the veterinary profession certainly paints a noble picture of treating injured and sick animals, conducting mass rescues, and mitigating human-wildlife conflict, the interventional aspect entailed in all these tasks suggest, to some, the controversial idea of “playing God.” Are the measures taken regarded as dutiful obligation or self-righteous interference?A pregnant female giraffe pauses during her mid-day browsing on leaves. Photo by Elvina Yau.On a more abstract level, such apotheosis is inevitable for any professional practicing contemporary medicine. However, the hubris of playing God is arguably heavier for veterinarians since more stakeholders fall within their jurisdiction. As an arbiter for animals, humans, and the environment, veterinarians are constantly confronted with clinical decisions involving life and death and must calculate the associated risks and benefits for multiple constituents. Tampering with the system may result in inadvertent consequences. Conversely, just because resources are available does not necessarily mean they should be used.Though many have applauded scientific achievements such as GMOs, assisted reproductive technologies, and instrumental surveillance, others have perceived these fields as an exercise of human dominance. The idea of wildlife intervention engenders similarly conflicting sentiments. When physicians and scientists employ these seemingly “unnatural” methods, public fear arises around their potential negative — albeit unintended — consequences. Such discomfort may reflect an underlying mistrust of science and technology in favor of a powerfully unpredictable force of nature as the ultimate source of authority. When working on a free-ranging wildlife reserve that actively promotes conservation, there are various instances in which human intervention is utilized, sparking discussion of the decision-making principles that are applied and the degree of success achieved.A female leopard takes an afternoon rest in the bush, Okonjima, Namibia. Photo by Elvina Yau.On one hand, the “Circle of Life” argument is commonly cited against wildlife intervention. Such critics support a laissez-faire policy that enables Mother Nature to take her course. Any meddling on the veterinarian’s part would thereby violate this principle. Despite one’s desire to aid the patient and provide necessary care for its survival, that may interfere with the operative principle of natural selection. In retrospect, with the bokkie case, a passive approach may have been best. Simply put, there are predator species and prey species; animals must eat to survive, and we cannot disrupt this instinct.However, the “Circle of Life” argument fails to extend to veterinary work conducted with domestic pets — namely, preventative medicine. For example, routine vaccination protocols that keep our companion animals healthy are also employed in wild animals to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. If an emerging disease threatens an epidemiological crisis — especially if the pathogen is zoonotic, i.e. can be transmitted between animals and people — this must be addressed on a population level to prevent a mass mortality event.A male dik-dik spotted at dusk, Okonjima, Namibia. Photo by Elvina Yau.Generally, the guideline regarding wildlife intervention is to act when the problem presented is due to human impact. Whether it’s gunshot wounds, lead toxicity, or hit-by-car cases, we are obligated to treat accordingly. We bear a responsibility to rectify anthropogenic consequences wrought on wildlife, simply because we caused them. Moreover, other factors warrant intervention, particularly if there is monetary value attached to a certain animal or species in need of saving. In fact, this factor supported the decision to intervene with the adult sable, who was one of three males on the entire reserve. For the purposes of his health and tourism value, treating this sable was deemed permissible.As stewards and advocates of nature, we understand the precautionary principle of playing God, its inextricable social and ethical implications, and the requisite, evidence-based risk management of any impending decisions. While there is no absolutism with these difficult situations and exceptions can occasionally be made, moral reflection, consideration of all stakeholders, and development of our own self-knowledge may help us navigate this complex terrain.Epic meal time: a male lion emerges moments after devouring his meat. Photo by Elvina Yau.Elvina Yau is a 3rd-year veterinary student at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed studies in Behavioral Neuroscience, Creative Writing, and Biology, and worked on international research projects with primates, kangaroos, elephants, and big cats. These formative experiences led to her pursuit of conservation medicine, where she hopes to utilize both her clinical and cultural competency by contributing as a wildlife veterinarian and storyteller.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.center_img Animals, Commentary, Editorials, Environment, Health, Nature And Health, Researcher Perspective Series, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation last_img read more

For Javan rhinos, the last holdout may also be a deadly disease hotspot

first_imgThe Critically Endangered Javan rhino survives in just a single population in Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park.In addition to environmental threats such as volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, the rhino is threatened by diseases that could be transmitted from both domestic livestock and native wild cattle living in and near the park.Zoonotic diseases that pose a potential threat include trypanosomiasis and hemorrhagic septicemia. Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park sits at the westernmost tip of Java Island. Its remote peninsular location offers access only from the east, along a rough road used mostly by local villagers. As dawn breaks, great sweeping pastures can be seen along the roadside, dotted with lazy water buffalo and small wooden shacks between thickets of shadowy forest. It’s a beautiful scene. It also represents a deadly threat to one of the rarest animals on the planet: the critically endangered Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus).The pathway to Ujung Kulon’s banteng viewpoint. Much of Ujung Kulon has been invaded by the arenga palm plant, which out-competes the vegetation rhinos depend on for food. Image by Katy Waters.Life on a knife’s edgeThe entire known population of the species, 68 individuals at last count, resides within the park. As goes Ujung Kulon, so goes the Javan rhino.Sitting on the Sunda continental shelf and within the confinements of the Krakatau nature reserve, the park is at the mercy of earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions that could strike at any time, without warning. The ongoing eruption of Anak Krakatau, successor to the infamous volcano that killed more than 36,000 people when it erupted in 1883, is a stark reminder of just how fragile life in Ujung Kulon can be.The plight of the Javan rhino doesn’t stop there. It shares a habitat with two potential disease carriers: wild cattle known as banteng (Bos javanicus) and domestic water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis). Buffer villages that depend on the buffalo for meat, milk and farmwork surround the park’s eastern boundary, and stock pens inside the park have been found to overlap with the home ranges of at least eight Javan rhinos.At the northern tip of the peninsula, a narrow pathway leads away from the beach, buried beneath an impenetrable wall of arenga palm. It guides visitors to a ranger’s post overlooking a clearing in the forest where the majestic banteng often congregate at dusk. The likelihood of banteng and rhinos crossing paths here raises the risk of a small, isolated rhino population being obliterated by a contagious herd of disease-carrying bovines.Banteng (Bos javanicus) , a species of wild cattle found across Southeast Asia, are a potential disease reservoir for Javan rhinos. However, the species are also listed as Endangered by the IUCN. Image by cuatrok77 via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0.Another herd bites the dustThere is no better case to demonstrate the havoc disease can wreak on a vulnerable rhino population than the conservation catastrophe at the Sungai Dusun Rhino Conservation Centre in Malaysia in 2003. It was here that Peninsular Malaysia’s entire captive population of five Sumatran rhinos (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) dropped dead within three weeks of each other. Postmortems revealed abundant bacterial growth pointing to E. coli and K. pneumoniae infections, as well as the presence of blood-borne trypanosome (Trypanosoma evansi) parasites.While there is some dispute as to whether trypanosomiasis was the primary cause of death or simply exacerbated the animals’ already poor heath, official documentation rules trypanosomiasis was the culprit. A herd of buffalo that shared a fence with the rhino facility is thought to be the reservoir of infection responsible for the epidemic.By completing part of its lifecycle inside a tabanid (biting) fly, T. evansi is able to jump the species barrier to infect a multitude of mammalian hosts. The parasite is also responsible for the spread of surra disease, which is usually fatal to horses and dogs but can also be silently transmitted by carrier animals, notably bovines. That’s bad news for the Javan rhinos that live in close proximity to cattle.African rhinos, by contrast, are known to harbor the disease without succumbing to its deadly effects.“They have evolved with the parasite for a long time and because of that they have resistance to the disease,” says Robin Radcliffe, a conservation medicine specialist at Cornell University. “African rhinos do die of trypanosomiasis when they are translocated or moved from an area without the disease to an area that has high prevalence,” he adds. “It’s just not as likely or common as with the Asian species.”T. evansi only migrated to Southeast Asia in the late 1800s, so Asian rhinos are much more susceptible.Telltale signs of infection start with anorexia and depression, followed by nasal hemorrhage, muscle tremors, a deterioration in coordination and difficulty breathing. But the disease can also result in sudden death, leaving little to no time for veterinary intervention. This was the case for the first Sungai Dusun victim. According to a 2004 report by the IUCN Asian Rhino Specialist Group the following year, “she manifested no clinical signs when moved on the 27th but was discovered dead the morning of the 28th.”One minute, Malaysia had a population of healthy rhinos; the next, they were dropping like flies.A veterinary student carries out a physical examination of a buffalo calf. He explains to the farmer that fever can be a sign of Trypanosomiasis. Image by David Hermanjaya.History of disease at Ujung KulonThe events that unfurled at Sungai Dusun may not have been foreseeable, but they weren’t unprecedented, either. In 1981 and 1982, five rhinos died in Ujung Kulon, roughly 10 percent of the population at the time. The deaths were officially attributed to anthrax, even though soil samples tested negative for spores. Trypanosomiasis was also considered, with an investigation into a 2010 death confirming the presence of T. evansi in the park’s biting flies.Another theory is that the rhinos died from an outbreak of hemorrhagic septicemia (HS), caused by the Pasteurella multocida bacteria. In November 1981, the same disease is suspected to have caused the deaths of around 50 buffalo and 350 goats near the park. At the time, this explanation was dismissed because no banteng, which occupy the same habitat as the rhinos, were observed to suffer the same fate.Since the 1980s, the Ujung Kulon population has undergone several periodic die-offs; two rhinos died in 2002-3, five in 2010-13, and two in 2014. According to the WWF, several of these rhinos died from diseases they likely contracted from banteng.Now, a study published this year and led by researchers from Cornell University indicates that the risk of HS posed by buffalo in and around the park might be underestimated.Of 770 buffalo studied, only two showed symptoms and 14 tested positive for the HS antibody. None of these had been vaccinated in the previous year, so it is likely they were carrier animals that could potentially transmit the disease without showing any symptoms themselves.The researchers also observed that animals showing signs of the disease often died so quickly they could not be tested for infection. Farmers were also unaware of how to identify and report potential cases.The researchers therefore speculate that a much higher proportion of buffalo are likely to be infected than the results suggest, even though HS was thought to have been eradicated from the province.Rainforest creek in Ujung Kulon. The park’s rhinos spend much of their time in water or mud wallows. Image by Rhett A. Butler for Mongabay.Relocating from riskRemoval of major disease reservoirs would in theory alleviate the main risk to the rhinos. However, the native banteng is an endangered species, and water buffalo removal is not logistically feasible due to the disruption it would cause to local people’s livelihoods.In 2014, Ujung Kulon’s local government announced it would fund an annual HS vaccination program to protect the region’s buffalo, subsequently reducing the risk to the rhinos.However, there is no proven way to inoculate against trypanosomiasis. “Vaccination for the trypanosomes has not been very effective,” Radcliffe told Mongabay. The parasite changes its outer appearance so rapidly that the immune system simply cannot keep up.What about removing some rhinos instead?“[We need to] get our eggs into two baskets instead of Ujung Kulon’s one,” Barney Long, then the WWF’s  director of species conservation, said in 2016. Conservationists have called for the translocation of a subset of the population to a second site since as far back as the 1980s, and today the need is greater than ever, as the park is thought to be reaching its carrying capacity. Since the population cannot expand beyond its current range due to a lack of suitable habitat, researchers have reached the consensus that moving some fertile rhinos out of the park is the only way to significantly increase their numbers.Despite three decades of discussion, a plan of action is yet to take effect.A park ranger examines the male Javan rhino found dead on April 23, 2018. This rhino was determined to have died due to a twisted bowel, but infectious diseases have been implicated in past rhino deaths. Image courtesy of the Ujung Kulon National Park Agency.Talk but no actionTranslocations of other species of rhinos have occasionally proven fatal, so it’s not a decision to be made lightly. Some experts think a sounder scientific understanding of Javan rhino biology is needed for authorities to sanction such a risk.“There’s always a risk to moving animals, and there’s definitely more risk to moving animals that we don’t know a lot about,” says Brian Gerber, a scientific adviser who has worked with the WWF, international researchers and the Indonesian Rhino Foundation, or YABI, to monitor the Ujung Kulon population over the past five years. While scientists are doing what they can to reduce these unknowns, the decision to take action ultimately lies with Indonesian officials, he says.But Radcliffe is optimistic. “I’m confident that it’s going to happen relatively soon, hopefully in the next five years.”In the meantime, some operations are already underway to expand the rhinos’ habitat, at least until the political will, funding and expertise is secured to pull off the grand translocation plan. Eight years ago, the Javan Rhino Study and Conservation Area (JRSCA), spanning 50 square kilometers (19 square miles), was set up to the east of Ujung Kulon and a fence constructed to deter buffalo herders from encroaching on rhino habitat.Experts, however, say these efforts amount to little more than a stopgap.“The most important thing to me is we need to create a second site for the Javan rhino,” says Radcliffe. Not only does it ensure species survival should Ujung Kulon find itself suddenly plagued by disease or hit by a seismic disaster, but it offers the additional benefit of offsetting the carrying capacity conundrum.As the volcano continues to rumble to the north, a danger just as deadly lurks to the east. The last Javan rhinos have nowhere to run — a sober reminder of how easily the species could perish.Anak Krakatau erupting in 1992. The restive volcano sits across a narrow strait from Ujung Kulon National Park. Photo by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Isabel Estermancenter_img Agriculture, Animals, Archive, Biodiversity, Conservation, Diseases, Endangered Species, Environment, Extinction, Forests, Javan Rhinos, Mammals, Protected Areas, Rainforest Animals, Rhinos, Wildlife, Zoonotic Diseases last_img read more