The Monthly Free E-Newsletter of South African Friends of Wolves
Volume 10, Issue 127, May 2015
From the Editor’s Desk
Question: When money comes before conserving a country’s natural heritage, what do you get? Answer: Species that are left to become extinct and a government that loses all credibility. This is exactly what is currently happening in the supposed model country of democracy, the United States of America. However, the real scandal, in my view, is that the big global nature conservation societies are obviously not even interested in this development and keep quiet. Read the wolf news section below and be as disgusted as I am.
Our ‘national news’ section this time contains a positive item, for a change, reporting on South African Airways’ new policy regarding the transportation of hunting trophies. They may be bust, but they do have balls!
We have a very informative snippet from the world of science this time, summarizing the results of comparative behavioural studies on wolves and dogs that clear out some of the widespread misconceptions that are still surrounding the wolf (and the dog, actually).
A short wolf tale and Erin’s story how her pack came to enjoy a rare treat round off this month’s newsletter.
News from the Wolf Front
Nothing to report.
From Defenders of Wildlife (http://www.defenders.org)
- USA: Crisis: Red Wolf extinction emergency
By all indications, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is standing by as wild red wolves slip away into extinction.
But what’s most devastating is that this tragedy is 100 percent preventable.
Help us keep the pressure on FWS to stay on course to red wolf recovery with a generous donation to Defenders:
Since 1980, FWS has been tasked with returning red wolves to the wild. But now they’re dragging their feet in ways that could amount to abandoning the program altogether. Critical staff vacancies are going unfilled. Critical fieldwork is being skipped. And most telling of all – there has not been a single red wolf released into the wild in years.
Red wolves once roamed from Pennsylvania to Florida. Almost hunted to the brink of extinction, red wolf recovery efforts have been sporadic for decades. Today, fewer than 100 animals survive in the wild in a small part of eastern North Carolina.
And now, under pressure from North Carolina special interests, FWS appears ready to abandon this recovery program altogether!
Defenders will take whatever action is necessary to stop this tragedy.
We’ve simply come too far to give up on these magnificent creatures – there is no excuse for walking away now.
Help us stop the extinction of red wolves – donate today:
Thanks for all you do.
2: USA: Fight this anti-wolf bill
Our worst fears are coming true.
A new anti-wolf bill was just introduced, adding Washington State, Oregon and Utah to the growing list of states where Congress is trying to force wolves off the Endangered Species list.
This bill wouldn’t just strip federal Endangered Species Act protections – it would prohibit the states from offering wolves certain vital protections. Even if they wanted to.
With bills attempting to delist wolves in four other states, these bills could be the nail in the coffin for gray wolf conservation in the Lower 48.
Because of this impending crisis, our Board of Directors has stepped up and from now until April 30th, your donation will go twice as far for wolves and other wildlife you love.
These bills could be a veritable death sentence for thousands of wolves. And it would be a premature and tragic end 20 years of progress for wolf conservation.
And it’s not only wolves. Every day brings fresh horrors from anti-wildlife forces. Driven by big-money special interests, extremists in Congress have unleashed a torrent of proposals that could:
- Relax restrictions on trade in elephant ivory in the midst of the worst poaching crisis in years;
- Pave the way for oil and gas drilling in the fragile coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge; and
- Restrict access to the courts to enforce the protection of animals listed under the Endangered Species Act.
You Are the Reason There’s Hope.
While special interest groups are shovelling money into the prospect of plundering our wildlife and wild lands, your urgent donation helps us fight back.
With your help, we’re:
- Fighting on Capitol Hill to urge key members of Congress to oppose these reckless attacks on our wildlife and wild places;
- Defending the Endangered Species Act to ensure our most vulnerable wildlife is protected;
- Mobilizing grassroots activists by the tens of thousands to defend our natural heritage;
- Educating the public and urging action against these harmful attacks; and
- Much, much more.
We can’t lose this fight. Won’t you stand with us?
Thank you for all you do for the wildlife we love. We’re counting on your continued support.
- USA: Stop this dangerous predator: Congress
With the introduction of a bill that would force Washington, Oregon and Utah’s wolves off the Endangered Species List, the number of states that could be subject to congressional delisting has risen to seven. If enacted, these bills would leave nearly every wolf in the nation at the mercy of the states.
Congress has no business deciding whether wolves, or any other species, should be listed. The law is clear on this point. Listing decisions are to be based on science.
Tell Congress to stop interfering with efforts to protect endangered species:
These delisting bills are being driven by a small group of extremists and anti-government ideologues who are pouring millions of dollars into fat cat lobbyists and pressure tactics.
Among the worst of these bills are:
H.R. 843 which yanks Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections from wolves in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin indefinitely.
H.R. 884 ousts Wyoming’s wolves from the Endangered Species List along with wolves in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. And to add insult to injury, the bill would prevent any court, even the Supreme Court, from reinstating ESA protections no matter how bad things got.
H.R. 1985 goes further still by delisting wolves in Washington, Utah and Oregon – and would even prohibit the states from enacting certain protections for the wolves within their borders!
These bills cannot be allowed to pass.
If you love wildlife like I do, please take a moment and tell your members of Congress to protect our wolves and the Endangered Species Act itself from political meddling:
Thank you for all you do for our nation’s wildlife.
- South African Airways bans the transport of Hunting Trophies
In bad news for sport hunters, and good news for wildlife, a major airline has just made it a lot harder for hunters to bring their trophies back home from Africa.
In a bold move that’s intended to protect wildlife, South African Airways (SAA) – one of the continent’s largest airlines – announced (http://www.thesouthafrican.com/south-african-airways-bans-the-transport-of-hunting-trophies-on-all-their-carriers/) that it has banned the transport of trophies from rhinos, elephants, lions and tigers effective immediately.
Tim Clyde-Smith of SAA told members of the media:
Hunting of endangered species has become a major problem in Africa and elsewhere with the depletion to near extinction of wildlife that once roamed in prolific numbers. SAA has taken the step of banning all transportation of animals killed in hunting activity as a result.
… In consultation with key authorities, SAA will no longer support game hunters by carrying their trophies back to their country of origin. The vast majority of tourists visit Africa in particular to witness the wonderful wildlife that remains. We consider it our duty to work to ensure this is preserved for future generations and that we deter activity that puts this wonderful resource in danger.
The move reportedly comes after a troubling incident
(http://www.southafrica.info/travel/wildlife/trophy-transport-040515.htm#.VUuNkkuBuL-) this past April, when a shipment containing elephant tusks that was falsely labeled as mechanical equipment was discovered and seized in Australia. Now the airline says that no exceptions will be made, regardless of whether someone trying to transport wildlife parts has a valid permit (http://www.care2.com/causes/hunters-will-get-their-endangered-rhino-trophies-thanks-to-government-approval.html) from the relevant authorities.
Some bizarrely continue to claim sport hunting supports conservation efforts, but as populations of Africa’s iconic species continue to decline
(http://www.care2.com/causes/africas-giraffes-are-quietly-disappearing.html) at alarming rates that claim is just becoming more ridiculous. Conservationists argue there is nothing about killing any animal (http://www.care2.com/causes/giraffe-hunters-paying-up-to-15000-to-kill-for-sport.html), let alone an endangered species (http://www.care2.com/causes/10-endangered-species-you-can-still-hunt.html), for fun that supports true conservation efforts or the message that these species need all the protection they can get (http://www.care2.com/causes/last-male-northern-white-rhino-needs-armed-guards-just-to-survive.html) to stop us from driving them into extinction.
Poaching for rhinos reached an all time high
(http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/01/150122-rhino-poaching-south-africa-conservation-science/) in South Africa last year, while dates have been predicted for the complete disappearance for African elephants and lions, who conservationists are pushing for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Conservationists are now applauding SAA’s change in policy and hope this, along with restrictions on trophies already in place, will help protect Africa’s imperiled wildlife from hunting and wildlife trafficking. Not only will this be a deterrent for hunters looking to bring their trophies back home, but it will also block wildlife traffickers who are trying to transport products claiming they’re from legal hunts.
“This audacious move by SAA and its decision makers needs to be commended. SAA is a major stakeholder in Africa’s tourism industry and has taken a positive, proactive and strategic decision to help conserve our rich and diverse natural heritage,” wrote Neil Greenwood, the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s campaigns officer for the Elephant and Animal Rescue programs in the Southern Africa.
He raises the question of whether other international airlines will join this effort to stop the trade in wildlife, which we can all hope more soon will.
From SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Volunteer in style!
A limited number of only 8 volunteering opportunities are available at the SanWild Wildlife Reserve during March 2016 and June 2016. Placements will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
- March dates: 13th March – 1st April 2016 (20 days)
- June dates: 12th June – 1st July 2016 (20 days)
Accommodation & meals:
Volunteers will be accommodated in our Bukisa Private Bush Camp situated in the heart of the SanWild Wildlife Reserve. Accommodation is provided on a self-catering basis i.e. Volunteers are provided with groceries but need to prepare their own food and need to clean their tents and the kitchen themselves. A laundry service is included in the rates and the main building will be cleaned by staff. Shared accommodation in Safari-styled tents (two single beds in each tent)
Volunteers will be involved with and be expected to do tasks relating to the resource management of a wildlife reserve. Working hours will be from Monday – Friday from 07h00am to 13h00.
Volunteers will be off in the afternoons and can spend their leisure time at a beautiful rock pool overlooking a waterhole visited by numerous wildlife. The group will be taken on an afternoon or night game drive every day to view the many wild animals already living in the reserve that include amongst others cheetahs and elephants.
Volunteers will be off on weekends allowing them enough time to hire a vehicle and to visit other areas of interest like the world famous Kruger National Park that is only 54km from SanWild should they chose to do so. We are also close to Blyde River Canyon, Bourke Luck’s Potholes, The three Rondavels, God’s Window and the Eco Caves.
Tasks will include a variety of the following:
- Painting of the straining and stays posts on the perimeter fences, rehabilitation enclosures and release camps.
- Clearing of roads from vegetation growth in order for roads to be graded.
- Cleaning of rehabilitation enclosure and helping to feed and care for wild animals still in rehab at the time including our lions and African wild dogs.
- Please note that interaction or “playing” with wild animals in rehab is not allowed. This volunteering opportunity should therefore not be seen as a chance to get up close and personal with wildlife, but more as a chance to take great photographs as most animals are human-friendly and the opportunity to observe wildlife in their natural habitat.
- Clearing invader plants and combating soil erosion
Costs payable by volunteer:
- $1500 per volunteer – includes accommodation and meals
- Bring pocket money for extras on excursions, curios etc.
Nothing to report
From Born Free Foundation (http://www.bornfree.org.uk)
Every year Born Free rescues and protects some of the most beautiful and endangered animals around the world. Some are rescued from lives of misery, some taken in as orphans and others are protected in the wild. But we cannot do this alone, we need your help!
This spring we are asking our supporter to adopt one animal. For just £2.50 a month, your gift will help our charity to provide the care and protection these animals deserve.
You could help provide the food for Roque the tiger, rescued as a cub from a Spanish pet shop. Or help protect Emily Kate the elephant and her son, Ewok, from poachers, care for Dolo, the lion who was kept on a chain for 4 years, or look after Chinoise, the orphaned baby chimpanzee. These are just some of the many animals that need your help, please adopt one today!
Perfect for animal lovers
Adopt a Born Free animal this spring and not only will you be helping an animal in need but you will also receive a unique personalised adoption pack containing a cuddly toy, species fact sheet, your animal’s full story and more. PLUS, you will also receive Adopt! magazine twice a year containing updates on your animal and all our other animal adoptions.
Every Born Free adopted animal has a remarkable story, please help us look after them and provide the care and protection they need.
Wolves and Wolfdogs
Wolves are more peaceful in a pack than dogs
Dogs are thought of as loyal and obedient, but in comparison with their wild relatives they come out only second best where interaction amongst their own is concerned. Wolves seem to interact in a much more peaceful manner with each other.
The wolf is the bad, aggressive relative of the loving and devoted dog; the wolf is wild, the dog is tame, because the ancestors of the pet dog were at some time domesticated by humans. They accompanied them on hunting trips, greedily ate the leftovers of the prey given to them, and even got used to reading their human partners’ gestures and mimic.
But the difference in attitude between dog and wolf does not seem to be that clear-cut, or that is at least what a study of researchers of the University of Veterinary Medicine of Vienna implies. In the journal “Proceedings B” of the British Royal Society, the scientists report what they found out about wolves in the Austrian Wolf Science Centre. So far it was an accepted opinion that the cooperative and hardly aggressive character has made the dog man’s best friend. It was not clear, however, whether this attribute was only true for the relationship between human and dog or also for the relationship amongst dogs.
Greater tolerance in wolves
The team of the behavioural researcher Friederike Range of the University for Veterinary Medicine of Vienna compared how tolerant dogs and wolves are when they interact with their own kind. They analyzed the behaviour of nine wolves and eight cross-breed dogs that were raised at the wolf research centre in the lower Austrian town of Ernstbrunn.
The biologists experimentally fed a higher-ranking and a lower-ranking animal of the same kind simultaneously with either a big bone or a bowl of raw meat. Result: while lower-ranking wolves defended their food also against higher-ranking individuals, the lower-ranking dogs backed off from higher-ranking individuals.
Range said that sensitivity towards a higher-ranking individual appears to be more strongly imprinted in dogs than in wolves. At the same time, wolves possess a higher tolerance threshold, as shown by dominant animals putting up with the defensive threat behaviour of lower-ranking individuals. By comparison, dominant dogs acted much more aggressively towards lower-ranking individuals, even though dogs did not show intense aggression towards their own pack members in general.
A prominent sense of hierarchy in dogs
The researchers believe that the susceptibility of dogs to hierarchic structures played a major role in their domestication process. When humans domesticated wolves, they most likely selected the most amicable individuals. The relationship between humans and dogs was not about equality, but rather exploited the ability of the canine to accept leadership, and this eventually made the dog an obedient partner of man.
According to a study, the relationship between dog and man in Europe started most probably 32,000 to 19,000 years ago. A genetic study of the Finnish University of Turku shows that, back then, hunters and collectors were the first humans to keep dogs. Supposedly, wild wolves followed the hunters in search for carcasses and leftovers, and that could have been the beginning of the companionship that subsequently developed.
Recently, a Japanese study showed that similarly to parents and their children, the hormone oxytocin strengthens the bond between keeper and dog when eye contact is made. It is supposed that in this way, during their domestication period, dogs took advantage of the parental instincts of humans.
Original article (here translated from German and edited) by Alice Lanzke in WeltN24, 2015.
Wolf Myths and Legends, Part 115
by Tori Kindredwolfspirit
Stormbringer leaped to a rock and wriggled in anticipation. Today was her first hunt! She wondered what Kia and Nightstar would say right now. But suddenly she was overcome with sadness they couldn’t say anything. They were dead. They had died from the evil Black Sickness. Then, her father, Moonshadow, suddenly interrupted her thoughts with a bark that meant HURRY UP! She leapt down from the rock and joined her father and her Mother Runningdawn. Suddenly a very fat middle-aged doe appeared. She glanced at her father and he nodded approval. She leapt and snarled as she landed next to the deer. The deer slipped out from under her and sped off like lightning. She ran after it. After a while the deer tired and stumbled. The moment the deer stumbled she leapt and almost flattened it. Then she held it down until its body went limp. She gave it a couple of extra shakes, just to be sure. When her father appeared; she practically crushed him as she leapt towards him. He barked with approval as she howled with joy. Her pack joined her as she howled. Tonight her pack would feast!
A Wolfdog Diary
Boy, had we fun last week! We have a butcher in our neighbourhood who supplies us (or better our pack) during the hunting season with meat off-cuts he collects from butchering game brought in by hunters. Outside the hunting season, we get meat for the pack from a chicken farm, but after long months of nothing but chicken feet, heads, necks, parts and minced meat they will be so tired of it that we all look forward to the few months when they can have the much healthier and richer game meat.
Last week we popped in at his place to see whether he had some meat for us, and indeed, they were just busy mincing the off-cuts but had not yet packed any. He promised to let us know as soon as the meat would be ready for collection. He did not let us go empty-handed though. They had complete game carcasses in the cooling chamber that had been stripped in the morning, but he had not have the time or the staff to cut them up, and so he offered them to us whole if we were willing to cut them up ourselves. We only could take two because they were really large and I had to keep space in the freezers for the meat to come, but we could not deny the kids such a special treat. You should have seen the faces when we arrived home and unloaded the car – their eyes grew bigger and bigger. Luckily we had also taken four big leg bones to keep their attention away from Ted while he would be busy cutting the carcasses up into pieces that fit into the freezer. Aqua nevertheless tried to snatch and run away with a whole carcass, trying to pull it off the table outside where Ted was busy cutting.
When Ted was finished they all got another piece, and I packed the rest up for freezing. The bones were still full of fresh meat, and the kids were busy chewing as if there would be no tomorrow. In the early evening hours Ted and I wondered why it was so quiet and had a really good laugh when we discovered our lot almost passed out on the lawn behind the house. They were completely exhausted from all the chewing and had an unusually early night. The next morning the first thing they did was to go and look for the bones (or what was left of them) to continue chewing them. That kept them busy for another day, and took all their attention away from the usual nonsense they are busy with otherwise. Luckily I have enough left in the freezer to last them for quite a while, keep them occupied and out of trouble.
… will be continued