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By Zak Smith
It is pretty amazing that in this moment when the COVID-19 outbreak has much of the country holed up in their homes binging Netflix, the most watched show in America over the last few weeks has been focused on wildlife trade — which scientists believe is the source of the COVID-19 pandemic. Make no mistake: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is about wildlife trade and other aspects of wildlife exploitation, just as surely as the appearance of Ebola, SARS, MERS, avian flu and probably COVID-19 in humans is a result of wildlife exploitation. As a conservationist, this is one of the things I've been thinking about while watching Tiger King. Here are five more:
Are tigers extinct in Laos?
That's the conclusion of a detailed new study that found no evidence wild tigers still exist in the country.
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The number of tigers in the wild rose to 2,967, up from 2,226 in 2014. Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the increase as a "historic achievement."
Great news from China! Following intense international backlash, the Chinese government said Monday that it has postponed a regulation that would have allowed the use of tiger bone and rhino horn for medicine, research and other purposes.
In October, China alarmed animal rights activists around the world when it weakened a 25-year-old ban on the trading of the animal parts. Conservationists said it would be akin to signing a "death warrant" for endangered tiger and rhino populations.
China said the controversial parts would now be allowed to be used for medicine and research at certified hospitals. The government further said the parts would only be sourced from farmed animals, but conservationists say that it is hard to tell whether parts come from legal farming or illegal poaching.
What's worse, the critically endangered Sumatran tiger was pregnant with two cubs when it died and was expected to give birth in two weeks, local reports said.
Thanks to dedicated conservation efforts, Nepal now has an estimated 235 wild tigers in the country, a nearly twofold increase from its baseline of 121 individuals in 2009, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) announced Sunday on the occasion of Nepal's National Conservation Day.
The South Asian nation is now on track to become the first country to double its tiger population as part of WWF's "TX2" goal to double the world's wild tiger population by 2022—the next year of the tiger on the Chinese zodiac.
By John R. Platt
At first glance rhinos, pangolins and jaguars don't seem to have much in common.
But there are a few things that link them. For one thing, they're all targets of poachers and smugglers, who traffic in their body parts and threaten the species with extinction.
By John R. Platt
April, goes the old saying, is the cruelest month, so perhaps it should be no surprise that one of the most anticipated books being published this month is about the infamous death-by-dentist of Cecil the lion. But that's not all, and the rest isn't necessarily cruel—April will also see the publication of fantastic new books about living a zero-waste lifestyle, taking back our public lands, how fossil fuels hurt indigenous peoples and a whole lot more.