The Ecologist


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Parrots born and raised without natural parents. Photo: iStock.

Captive breeding - saving wildlife? Or saving the pet trade?

Clifford Warwick

2nd September 2015

The international pet trade presents itself as responsible and conservation-aware, writes Clifford Warwick - and a key part of the message is the idea that its animals are captive bred. But the truth is very different. Quite apart from the routine cruelty and high mortality, the trade continues to depend on captive wild animals and contributes only negatively to wildlife survival. more...
It may not be to your taste, but the trade in mammoth tusk carvings, like this one on show at the Treasure Island Hotel, Las Vegas, is depressing the price of elephant ivory and helping to preserve the species. Photo: Cheryl Q via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

To save our elephants, don't ban mammoth ivory - encourage it!

Douglas MacMillan

27th August 2015

There is widely held belief that there' only one way to protect rhinos, elephants and other endangered species poached for the international wildlife trade, writes Douglas MacMillan: a complete trade ban. But it's a dangerous misconception. By raising prices and engaging criminal networks, bans speed up extinction rather than preventing it. more...
If it's such a good idea to burn real rhino horn, how is making synthetic horn going to help? Rhino horn ready for incineration, 21st September 2014 at Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic. Photo: IFAW via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Can 'genetically-identical' synthetic horn save the rhino?

Diogo Veríssimo

6th July 2015

Soon a artificial rhino horn may be on the market that's identical to the real thing down to its DNA, writes Diogo Veríssimo. A boon for rhinoceros conservation? Or an act of biopiracy that will enrich biotech corporations while perpetuating demand for rhino horn and confounding efforts to end its trade? more...
Elephants examine the tusk of a poached sibling. Photo: Karl Ammann, author provided.

Where does ivory come from? Now we know, with forensic DNA analysis

Samuel Wasser

25th June 2015

Forensic analysis of DNA in ivory seized by police and customs officials reveals where it comes from, writes Samuel Wasser, giving valuable information to law enforcers. But this powerful tool is only as effective as the national authorities, and Tanzania, a major ivory hotspot, has been very slow to respond to warnings. more...
Almost one in every two of Tanzania's elephants has been lost in the last five years - but the government is more concerned to conceal the truth, than to tackle the crisis, Photo: Sakke Wiik via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Tanzania in denial over 60% elephant population crash

The Ecologist

4th June 2015

After six months of denial Tanzania has finally admitted that its elephants have suffered a catastrophic 60% decline in five years. But they still refuse to accept it's caused by poaching for ivory, rampant corruption and 'above the law' smuggling networks. more...
Lions being transported for a canned hunt. Photo: Campaign Against Canned Hunting.

Canned hunting is not protecting wild lions!

Dominic Dyer

25th March 2015

Two thirds of Africa's lions have been lost in 35 years, and would-be hunters are increasingly shooting captive, farmed and often tame lions in 'canned hunts'. Claims are that this helps to preserve wild lion populations - but Dominic Dyer fears the reverse is the case. more...
A San 'Bushman' hunter wıth bow and arrow. Photo: Charles Roffey via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Wildlife conference: Tribes demand: 'recognize our right to hunt!'

Oliver Tickell

24th March 2015

At the 'United for Wildlife' conference in Botswana, backed by princes Charles and William, Indigenous organizations from around the world are calling on world leaders to recognize tribal peoples' right to hunt for subsistence. more...
The Tetcott Hunt is now required to stay well clear of foxes and other wildlife. A future Labour government will keep it that way. Photo: Rob Franksdad via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Wildlife protection depends on enforcement

Angus Nurse

10th March 2015

The Labour Party has launched a new manifesto for wildlife protection, writes Angus Nurse - and a good thing too! But turning the tide for nature will take more than stricter laws and penalties. Ultimately it's about enforcement. And that means prioritising wildlife crime, committing expert officers, and providing resources. more...
Different types of UAVs work in various challenging situations. Photo: Thomas Snitch (CC BY-NC-ND).

Satellites, mathematics and drones take down Africa's poachers

Thomas Snitch

3rd February 2015

Using new technologies to take on poaching in Africa is reaping big dividends, writes Thomas Snitch. Where drones are deployed as part of an integrated package of measures, poachers quickly give up. The trouble is, they move to other unprotected locations. So we must extend the program to all of Africa's most at-risk areas. more...
The helmeted hornbill, before and after. Photo: Environmental Investigation Agency.

Red alert! Hornbills at risk from wildlife trade

The Ecologist

2nd February 2015

We all know about the risk to elephants and rhinos from the illegal wildlife trade, but now the helmeted hornbills of Borneo and Sumatra are at risk as online traders find ready buyers for their carved beaks in China. more...
Photo: Olivier Girard for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Kathryn Bigelow and the bogus link between ivory and terrorism

Diogo Veríssimo

19th January 2015

Claims that the ivory trade is financing terrorism in Africa are all based on a single unreliable source, writes Diogo Veríssimo, yet the real link between terror groups and the illegal charcoal trade barely gets a mention. Is the 'reality gap' caused by the 'Like, share, donate' cycle that drives social media and fund-raising? more...
Over 50% of an iguana shipment found dead. Photo: PETA.

The exotic pet trade is a global evil that must be stopped

Clifford Warwick

10th November 2014

Behind the relatively sanitized façade of the exotic pet industry resides a vast chronicle of species decline, ecological disruption, animal suffering, mortality, and the global dissemination of pathogens, writes Clifford Warwick. We are in the midst of a profit-fueled frivolous wildlife biocide, as animal traders strive to bring the next curiosity fish, turtle or primate into our homes. more...

wildlife: 1/25 of 200
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781 tusks from Tanzania seized in Malawi in transit to China, May 2013. Photo: EIA.

Chinese Presidency implicated in Tanzania's elephant massacre

The Ecologist

6th November 2014

A new report reveals that Chinese-led criminal gangs are conspiring with corrupt Tanzanian officials and senior politicians to traffic huge amounts of ivory. The corruption even extends into the Chinese navy, diplomatic missions and Presidential entourage - all involved in the lucrative but illegal trade. more...
Antique furniture like this Ming era Ta couch in the Shanghai Museum has inspired thousands of 'hongmu' copies among China's rich - and the demand is devouring forests across Southeast Asia. Photo: Gisling via Wikimedia Commons.

The rosewood massacre - China must act

Zuzana Burivalova

23rd July 2014

Surging Chinese demand for rosewood used in 'hongmu' furniture is ruining forests across southern Asia, writes Zuzana Burivalova. As demand surges, China must impose stricter regulations and harsher punishments or the forests may never recover. more...
Threat on the horizon. The iconic Serengeti - home to one of the world’s greatest wildlife migrations - could be bisected by a mining-boom highway. Photo: William Laurance.

Africa's ecosystems imperilled by mining frenzy

William Laurance

24th June 2014

Africa sustains some of the most spectacular ecosystems on the planet - from the Sergengeti to the Congo Basin to the Eastern Arc forests. But those ecosystems and their iconic wildlife are now facing their greatest peril, writes William Laurance - a mining boom of unprecedented intensity. more...
Tiger skin being processed at Xia Feng. Photo: © EIA.

China's lethal wildlife trade loophole

Vicky Lee

21st May 2014

A little-known licensing scheme allows over 100 Chinese companies to trade in wildlife products like tiger skins, ivory, bear bile and musk deer glands. Vicky Lee shows how the system provides cover for the lucrative illegal wildlife trade to reach wealthy buyers. more...
Minke whale meat for sale on Rakuten -

Rakuten pulls whale products - but ivory sales continue

The Ecologist

3rd April 2014

Internet retail giant Rakuten has announced it is terminating sales of whale products through its Japanese marketplace Rakuten Ichiba and has given merchants 30 days to remove them. But thousands of ivory products are still for sale. more...
Minke whale meat for sale on Rakuten -

Exposed - World's biggest seller of ivory and whale meat

The Ecologist

18th March 2014

Japanese retail giant Rakuten is exposed today as the world's biggest online marketplace for elephant ivory and whale meat products. more...
Disturbing evidence of an 8x10-foot section of 'poached' burl-wood. Photo: US National Park Service.

Redwood thieves force California forest curfew

Oliver Tickell

6th March 2014

Thieves are stealing valuable growths of bud tissue from the trunks of Coast redwood trees in California, putting their long term survival at risk. Park authorities have responded by closing a road used by the thieves at night. more...
Prince William in a pensive moment at the London Conference on wildlife trade. Photo: Zoological Society of London.

Prince William - we need new ideas to tackle wildlife crisis!

Paul Jepson

22nd February 2014

Prohibition - of alcohol, drugs and prostitution - has not worked. So, Paul Jepson asks, why did the London Conference insist it's the answer to saving rhinos, elephants and other endangered species targetted by the global trade in wildlife products? more...
Xoroxloo Duxee died of dehydration after the Bushmen's water borehole was disabled. Photo: © Survival

Bushmen are not 'poachers' - wildlife conference protest

The Ecologist

13th February 2014

The anti-poaching conference in London today was disrupted by protests at the Botswana delegation - who call the indigenous Bushmen of the Kalahari 'poachers' and are forcing them into death camps. more...
These contraband wildlife trade items were seized by the UK's Border Force. Photo: UK Home Office via

WildLeaks launched - the WikiLeaks for wildlife

The Ecologist

7th February 2014

A group of organisations fighting wildlife crime have come together to launch WildLeaks - the first global, secure online whistleblower platform dedicated to wildlife and forest crime. more...
This tiger skin was seized by Border Force, which made more than 675 wildlife crime seizures last year. Photo: UK Home Office via

UK's Wildlife Crime Unit secures two years' funding

The Ecologist

6th February 2014

The National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) will be able to tackle wildlife crime for a further two years after the UK government announced more than £500,000 funding until 2016. more...
Whale shark butcher at work. Photo: Wildlife Risk.

World's largest whale shark slaughterhouse uncovered in China

Sophie Morlin-Yron

3rd February 2014

The world's biggest slaughterhouse for endangered whale sharks has been uncovered in southeast China, writes Sophie Morlin-Yron. It's products are being traded across the world in health and cosmetic products. more...
A bird egg collection (this one doubtless legitimate). Photo: thekirbster via

Sweden: 3 wild egg collectors convicted after UK investigation

The Ecologist

3rd February 2014

An enquiry which started in the UK in 2009 involving the collecting and trading of wild birds' eggs, has led to the conviction of three Swedish egg collectors - and reveals the international scope of the wild egg trade. more...


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