Wild View http://blog.wcs.org/photo/ An Eye on Wildlife (c) 2017 Wildlife Conservation Society, All Rights Reserved en-us Wed, 23 Aug 2017 06:06:01 +0000 Wed, 23 Aug 2017 06:06:01 +0000 The Rich Orangutan Histories http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/19/the-rich-orangutan-histories-sarawak-malaysia-asia/
Part 2   I first visited the Simunjan-Sebuyau-Sedilu peatswamp landscape in the late 1980s, as a member of the National Parks and Wildlife Office’s conservation education team drumming up support for the conservation of orangutans and their habitats. The visits to the landscape continued into the 1990s and 2000s including three additional conservation education programs and my PhD was conducted in this area, and in fact, in the deeper parts of the peatswamps at Sedilu. In my most recent visit to the landscape meeting with longhouse folks, some of whom are now octogenarians, and their children, who had helped with orangutan surveys in the area back in the late 1950s and mid 1970s, was such a pleasure. These were the people described in Barbara Harrisson’s book Orangutan, and they recounted to me their interactions and work with the famed biologist and the animals she studied. Their stories were particularly poignant as I had previously been able to make contact with former British colonial officers (now based in the UK) who helped with logistics in the 1959-60 field surveys for George Schaller. They were ex-Sarawak forest department as well as museum staff of that period, some of whom have passed on. The government was finally able to protect parts of this famous peatswamp landscape, converting them into three national parks between 2010 and 2013, i.e. Gunong Lesong, Sedilu and Ulu Sebuyau National Parks. Current nest count surveys since 2015 show the persistence of orangutans even when the landscape had been logged several times and has smatterings of plantations. Given the renewed vigor of the Sarawak government’s prioritizing of orangutans and conservation, there is much hope that the orangutan population will grow and flourish into the future. This is especially so when more areas have been identified for extensions which will then make fragments of this landscape large enough to be biologically viable for this large iconic species. The Forest Department of Sarawak, Sarawak Forestry Corporation, and Wildlife Conservation Society are collaborating actively in the landscape conducting nest counts, conservation education, and identifying possibilities for enforcement patrols with the villagers to make the landscape living habitats for the orangutans, and not just paper parks. EDITOR’S NOTE: Read Part 1 of The Rich Orangutan Histories.


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Sat, 19 Aug 2017 10:00:51 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/19/the-rich-orangutan-histories-sarawak-malaysia-asia/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/19/the-rich-orangutan-histories-sarawak-malaysia-asia/#comments 0
The Rich Orangutan Histories http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/18/the-rich-orangutan-histories-sarawak-malaysia/
Part 1   Every year, the International Orangutan Day is celebrated on August 19. Events are held globally to raise awareness of the plight of this great ape in Asia–one that is restricted only to the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.
In the mid-1950s, the world finally realized that orangutan populations were plummeting. Various activities were conducted to determine the existing wild orangutan populations then, and this included field surveys by Gaun anak Sureng and Barbara Harrisson (Sarawak Museum) in 1959-1960 and George Schaller (University of Wisconsin, fieldwork funded by New York Zoological Society–now the Wildlife Conservation Society) in 1960-1961. Both groups conducted field surveys in the Simunjan-Sebuyau-Sedilu peatswamp landscape (above) visited by the collectors before the turn of the 19th century. Historically and globally, the Simunjan-Sebuyau-Sedilu peatswamp landscape has an extremely rich biological significance. It was a site visited by world-renowned biological specimen collectors between the 1840s to early 1900s. This was also the period when natural history consisted of removing wild animals from their natural habitats to zoos and museums, for exhibitions as well as for educating urban populations. Among the more famous collectors who removed Sarawak’s orangutans from the wild then were Sarawak’s White Rajah, James Brooke (five animals collected by 1840, as reported in 1866); Odoardo Beccari (24 animals collected by 1865, as reported in 1904); Alfred Wallace (17 animals collected by 1855 as reported in 1869) and William Hornaday (43 animals collected by 1878 as reported in 1885). The most famous of these was probably Alfred Wallace, who was one of the pioneers of the theory of evolution together with Charles Darwin. This landscape also saw Sarawak’s second attempt at releasing orangutans into the wild, with the first attempt conducted by Barbara Harrisson at Bako National between 1962-1965, where three young orangutans (Arthur, Cynthia and George) were released, studied, and then brought back to the wildlife centers as it was uncertain as to whether they could adapt to the wild. The second attempt was carried out by Sarawak Forest Department’s National Parks and Wildlife Office in 1978 when three orangutans (Banggan, Bulat/Bullet, and Pantu) were released at Sebuyau. Of these, Banggan died while the other two were taken back to Kuching as they were found to be unable to fend for themselves on their own. One of these two, Bullet, became the most well-known orangutan in the Forest Department’s rehabilitation program in Semenggoh until the late 1990s, when he passed away. EDITOR’S NOTE: Read Part 2 of The Rich Orangutan Histories on August 19.


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Fri, 18 Aug 2017 10:00:58 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/18/the-rich-orangutan-histories-sarawak-malaysia/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/18/the-rich-orangutan-histories-sarawak-malaysia/#comments 0
Happy 40th Anniversary, Bronx Zoo Monorail http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/17/happy-40th-anniversary-bronx-zoo-monorail-throwback-thursday/
On August 19, 1977, the Bengali Express Monorail opened in the Wild Asia exhibit at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo. During its past 40 years of operation, the monorail has provided visitors with a unique experience to go into the animals’ world instead of the typical outside view. Without glass and bars in between people and animals, visitors have the opportunity to appreciate the wildlife at a closer perspective. Because visitors face the exhibit and the city behind is blocked, a ride on the monorail feels like a truly immersive experience into the environments of Asian wildlife. Design and construction of the Wild Asia exhibits and the monorail made sure to preserve the natural landscape of the park and to keep the animals undisturbed by the path of the monorail. The nearly two miles of track take the monorail past rhinos, elephants, red pandas, tigers, and other Asian wildlife as the guide provides information about the animals. Alongside the Asian animals, local American birds, like blue jays and cardinals, can also be seen. A recording plays for visitors to learn about wildlife conservation efforts in Asia. When the exhibit opened, former director of New York Zoological Society/WCS, William G. Conway, was the voice behind the monorail recording. During the era when the exhibit opened, WCS had been conducting research in China, Nepal, and Pakistan for the preservation of Asian wildlife, and the monorail allowed NYZS (now WCS) to bring knowledge of the animals the organization was working to save, and the organization’s efforts towards conservation to the visitors of the Bronx Zoo. EDITOR’S NOTE: The monorail remains a popular seasonal attraction at the Bronx Zoo. For information, visit bronxzoo.com.

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Thu, 17 Aug 2017 10:00:57 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/17/happy-40th-anniversary-bronx-zoo-monorail-throwback-thursday/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/17/happy-40th-anniversary-bronx-zoo-monorail-throwback-thursday/#comments 0
Elegant Albatross http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/15/elegant-albatross-jason-islands-falklands-bird/
In the far western reaches of the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands, jutting into the Southern Atlantic Ocean, the Jason Islands are an important nesting site for the black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophris). The species is circumpolar in the southern oceans, but the largest breeding populations are found on Steeple Jason Island. Normally nesting on steep slopes covered with tussock grass, and sometimes on cliffs, here the black-browed albatross can be found on flat grassland along the coasts, as shown in this photo. The bird can have a natural lifespan of over 70 years. Until recently, this elegant bird was considered endangered due to a drastic reduction in its population since the 1950s, but has begun to rebound. Longline and trawl fishing are believed to have contributed significantly to this decline. Thanks to a generous gift from Michael and Judith Steinhardt, the Wildlife Conservation Society has owned Grand Jason and Steeple Jason Islands since 2001. In addition to thousands of nesting pairs of black-browed albatross, the islands are home to other birds, such as gentoo, Magellanic, and rockhopper penguins, striated caracaras, tussock birds, ruddy-headed geese, giant petrels, slender-billed prions, and Magellan snipes. South American sea lions and southern fur seals are also seen in abundance. The  waters are rich in lobster krill and alive with sea life including Peale’s and Commerson’s dolphins and sei and southern right whales. WCS manages these islands as private nature reserves, and is working with the local government to further protect the entire Jason Islands archipelago and the surrounding marine area.

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Tue, 15 Aug 2017 10:02:40 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/15/elegant-albatross-jason-islands-falklands-bird/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/15/elegant-albatross-jason-islands-falklands-bird/#comments 0
Bwana Tembo (Mr. Elephant) http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/12/bwana-tembo-mr-elephant-world-elephant-day-tanzania-africa/
For a time, Charles Foley recognized almost every elephant in Tarangire National Park on sight - usually by the distinct shape or markings of their ears. Like old friends, they would occasionally cross paths, say hi and move on. From a base camp situated under shade trees beside the Tarangire River, Charles drove around the park, logging information about their behavior, demographics, and genetics. He’s been at it for about 25 years now and still going. Locals call him Bwana Tembo—Mr. Elephant. But this is no idle pursuit. These decades of data have provided vital information about how elephants live, where they go, and how they respond to new threats in their ecosystem. It turns out the biggest problem for them in this landscape is habitat loss outside the park. Armed with this knowledge, as part of the strategic direction of the WCS Tanzania Program, Charles, his wife Lara, and a small army of staff and partners have been working to save important dispersal corridors—places without formal protection where elephants go in the wet season to give birth. So far, theyve helped nine communities secure legal land rights and set aside 766,500 acres for pastoral use only. This means elephants will have safer passage through the landscape, without disturbing farms or villages, which makes everyone happy. Coupled with better law enforcement and a boom in tourism, northern Tanzania is one site where elephant numbers are actually increasing. Latest estimates put the population at 4,200. Still, some old friends have a hard time showing their gratitude. “Even after studying them for a quarter century,” said Charles, “some elephants still charge us on sight.” EDITOR’S NOTE: Today is World Elephant Day, a time to spread the word about the elephant poaching crisis. Take action here.


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Sat, 12 Aug 2017 10:00:18 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/12/bwana-tembo-mr-elephant-world-elephant-day-tanzania-africa/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/12/bwana-tembo-mr-elephant-world-elephant-day-tanzania-africa/#comments 0
World Lion Day http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/10/world-lion-day-2017-africa-big-cat/
August 10 is World Lion Day.   We invite you to spend some time today reflecting on African lions’ conservation needs. Take a look back at these Wildlife Conservation Society Wild View pictures and posts honoring this iconic big cat listed as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. TREE CLIMBING LIONS Tree-climbing lions are rare. But there are a few that find comfort in the cradle of trees in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park. –Julie Larsen Maher LEARNING TO LIVE WITH LIONS Whisker spots are unique to each lion like human fingerprints. –Marc Napao WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE Hunting and conservation make controversial bedfellows. –Natalie Ingle THE PRIDE The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added lions to the Endangered Species List, an important move to help in their conservation. –Kristen Avery SPOTTING SIMBA Minutes pass, and the lioness comes closer. She is so near to me that I can see she is young – and hungry. –Julie Larsen Maher THE ROAR OF WINTER The full roar of winter in the northeast U.S. –Kristen Avery CRUEL SHACKLE Snares are a major threat to wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park. –Tutilo Mudumba GAME OF THRONES Pride males regularly patrol their territory and scent mark the bushes where there is the highest density of wire snares. –Tutilo Mudumba GATHERING OF ANIMALS Butcherman and his Delta pride were nestled together with a visibly calm herd of kob–a favorite prey of lions. –Tutilo Mudumba

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Thu, 10 Aug 2017 10:00:35 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/10/world-lion-day-2017-africa-big-cat/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/10/world-lion-day-2017-africa-big-cat/#comments 0
Hope for Frog-faced Softshell Turtles http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/07/giant-softshell-turtle-cambodia-asia-frog-faced/
The Asian giant softshell turtle (Pelochelys cantorii) is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as globally endangered. It was thought extinct in the Cambodian portion of the Mekong River until its rediscovery in 2007 in a 30 mile stretch of the river between Kratie and Stung Treng Provinces. Recently, 150 endangered Asian giant softshell turtle hatchlings were released back into their natural habitat along the Mekong River. The hatchlings are part of a community protection program designed to increase the wild population of the species. They had been collected from nests that were guarded by local communities. The release is part of a project that has been ongoing since 2007, formerly run by Conservation International, and now, by the Wildlife Conservation Society in collaboration with the Fisheries Administration and the Turtle Survival Alliance. The community-based protection program encourages the participation of local communities living in Kratie and Stung Treng Provinces by hiring former nest collectors to search for and protect nests instead of harvesting the eggs. Since 2007, 378 nests have been protected and 8,528 hatchlings released. Kong Theary, 35, former egg collector and now ranger, said he is delighted to see those hatchlings back to the wild. “I am proud of working to conserve this turtle, and I hope future generations will be able to see this species.”

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Mon, 07 Aug 2017 07:00:19 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/07/giant-softshell-turtle-cambodia-asia-frog-faced/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/07/giant-softshell-turtle-cambodia-asia-frog-faced/#comments 0
A Curious Trip to the Cellar http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/08/03/a-curious-trip-to-a-cellar-jaguar-bronx-zoo/
There was an echo as the multiple steel doors slammed shut leaving myself and three team members alone in the cellar of the American Museum of Natural History to photograph pelts of felids stored in a maze of metal cabinets for the mobile wildlife trafficking app, Wildlife Alert. We went to work in the basement with the big cats pulling Persian leopard, African lion, mountain lion, and jaguar specimens. We filled the quiet halls with exclamations as we open the drawers, “So beautiful!” “This color is so different” “Feel how soft this one is” “Wow, this one is from Angola”. And then we saw it – a huge jaguar pelt with stunning rosette markings. We carefully lifted the pelt from its resting place and brought it to the photography stage. As the photographers arranged the pelt, they caught a glimpse of its identifying tag – “New York Zoological Society, October 24, 1914, Señor Lopez.” “Señor Lopez!” Wildlife Conservation Society staff photographer Julie Larsen Maher exclaimed. “I know this name.” She sure did! According to the WCS Archives, Señor Lopez was a star at the Bronx Zoo in the early 1900s and his likeness continues to flank the historic zoo entryway at Fountain Circle in two famous sculptures – Jaguar and Reaching Jaguar – created by Anna Hyatt Huntington in 1921. Miss Hyatt spent every day for two months waiting for Señor Lopez to make his daily descent from a ledge of rock within his enclosure when she could capture some small portion of his body or muscular detail.

“This animal….was so ferocious that even his keepers were unable to make friends with him….as the days passed [with Anna working by the enclosure] the animal began to show signs of wishing to make friends with this gentle voiced woman. Finally to the chagrin and admiration of the keepers, at the end of two months the jaguar would lie close to the bars to be scratched, muttering friendly jungle talk the while.

– The Sun, 1921 Thank you, Señor Lopez. You provide enjoyment for the 1.8 million visitors at the zoo each year who gain appreciation for wild animals and wild places as they stroll past your life-like sculptures, and now photos of your pelt, carefully curated and maintained in the cellar of AMNH, will help authorities stop wildlife trafficking when they use Wildlife Alert to identify products made from threatened and endangered wildlife – your kin perhaps!

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A guttural bellow pierces the morning air, as the Wildlife Conservation Society Bronx Zoo’s herd of 27 Père David’s deer explore their wooded landscape. Four rare fawns can be seen clustered together as the stags partake in bellowing and fighting for dominance during the summer rutting season. The new fawns born this April bring the tally up to 165 individuals born since the Bronx Zoo became the first zoo in North America to exhibit this species in 1946. Père David’s deer are one of the most unique-looking representatives of the deer family. The Chinese sometimes refer to them as sibuxiang “four not alike”, since this species has body parts that appear to have come from cattle (wide hooves for navigating marshy terrain), deer (unusual antlers that branch backwards), donkeys, (long tail) and camels (long neck). Père David’s deer are named for French missionary Père David (Father David) who was the first Westerner to observe this species, and who helped negotiate for several individuals to be brought back to Europe. Shortly after a handful of individuals made their way to Europe, this species was completely wiped out in their native homeland of China. Due to successful captive breeding programs, small pockets of this species can now be seen in Chinese reserves. EDITOR’S NOTE: Baby animals, like this fawn, make us go ‘aww’. Catch some of their first and funniest wild moments on camera and share them with us at Wild View’s Oh, Baby! Assignment with a Patagonia Backpack prize for the winner. CONTEST ENDS AUGUST 2, 2017!


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Sun, 30 Jul 2017 10:00:20 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/07/30/oh-deer-a-bronx-baby-boom-bronx-zoo-endangered/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/07/30/oh-deer-a-bronx-baby-boom-bronx-zoo-endangered/#comments 0
Sharks: Tough…But In Trouble http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/07/27/shark-necessary-predators-shark-week-new-york-aquarium/
I’m excited that we have added whitetip reef sharks (Triaenodon obesus) to the New York Aquarium’s collection in anticipation of the opening of Ocean Wonders in 2018. I am fascinated by their slender body shape and blunt head, both of which allow them to work their way into the nooks and crannies hunting for food on the Indo-Pacific reefs where they are found. Like so many sharks around the world, whitetip reef sharks are under significant fishing pressure, and the IUCN Red List has assessed their population as “Near Threatened”. The sharks at the aquarium will soon be moving into Ocean Wonder’s magnificent coral reef exhibit, where their presence will remind visitors that the health of these vibrant, colorful, and biodiverse habitats depends on humanity’s willingness to save these beautiful and necessary predators. EDITOR’S NOTE: Ocean Wonders is part of an exciting transformation at the New York Aquarium. Watch for updates at nyaquarium.com.

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Thu, 27 Jul 2017 10:00:55 +0000 http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/07/27/shark-necessary-predators-shark-week-new-york-aquarium/ http://blog.wcs.org/photo/2017/07/27/shark-necessary-predators-shark-week-new-york-aquarium/#comments 0