WILDLIFE

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1994:

Fourteen years after being
declared an endangered species and 11
years after being pronounced extinct, the
Palos Verdes blue butterfly has been resdi-
covered. University of California geography
professor Rudi Mattoni, believed to be the
last person to see the butterfly before it pur-
portedly vanished, recognized it again on a
mid-March insect collecting visit to the U.S.
Navy’s Defense Fuel Supply Point in San
Pedro. The site is protected as critical habi-
tat for the also endangered California gnat-
catcher, a small songbird.

While the British Columbia gov-
ernment insists it has no wolf-killing pro-
gram, Friends of the Wolf reminded the
public and the media at a recent demonstra-
tion outside the provincial environment min-
istry offices that the government is in fact
pursuing hunting, trapping, and grazing
polices that result in the slaughter of 1,200
wolves per year––400 more than the B.C.
government admits are killed. About three-
fourths are shot; the remainder are trapped
or poisoned. Estimates of the B.C. wolf pop-
ulation range from 5,000 to 8,000.
The Zimbabwean government’s
expropropriation of uncultivated land for
redistribution to the landless may pose a
new threat to highly endangered wild
African rhinoceroses, by wiping out their
habitat. Poaching has already cut the
Zimbabwean rhino herd from more than
3,000 to circa 100 in just 10 years. Norman
Travers, among the few wealthy estate own-
ers who still has resident rhinos, has trained
six elephants to carry heavily armed guards.
Each night the seven surviving rhinos are
driven into fortified corrals. Rhino protec-
tion costs Travers an estimated $22,500 a
year. His ranch also harbors giraffes, sable
antelope, zebras, and hippopotamuses;
about 50 visitors per week pay to see them.
The Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act
of 1994, recently introduced by Vermont
senator James Jeffords, would create a fed-
erally supported conservation fund to help
encourage the preservation of rhino and tiger
habitat by similar means.
On March 22, just two days
after Kenyan president Daniel Arap Moi
bucked much of his government to refuse
Richard Leakey’s January resignation as
head of the Kenya Wildlife Service, Leakey
resigned again, claiming he hadn’t been
given adequate authority to continue doing
his job, because his opponents had not been
sufficiently rebuked. Arap Moi replaced him
with David Western, 50, who had been
Kenyan regional coordinator for Wildlife
International, and director of the Amboseli
Research and Conservation Project. Western
now must find a way to enforce wildlife laws
without alienating officials whom Leakey
charged with merely wanting to loot Kenyan
wildlife for personal gain. According to
Leakey, 25 to 30 elephants were poached
during the two months he was off the
job––equal to the toll of the preceding year.
Scientists, caretakers, and 30 of
36 native wardens on April 12 fled the
Karisoke mountain gorilla preserve founded
in 1969 by the late Dian Fossey, as ethnic
fighting erupted throughout Rwanda, killing
more than 20,000 people in less than a week.
About 300 gorillas live in the region, half of
all the gorillas still in the wild.
The U.S. Supreme Court o n
April 18 declined to hear California rancher
Robin Moerman’s claim that protected tule
elk are competing with his cattle for forage,
violating his constitutional right to property.
A trial court ruled earlier that althrough rein-
troduced by the state, the elk “are not instru-
mentalities of the state nor are they con-
trolled by the state,” and the 9th Circuit
Court of Appeals upheld the verdict––a
major blow to the Wise Use movement and
the theory that wildlife and habitat protection
involve unlawful “taking” of property rights.
The U.S. Forest Service agreed
March 30 to forbid setting bait for bears dur-
ing the spring archery season in Wyoming,
settling a suit brought by the Fund for
Animals, but plans to turn regulation of bear
baiting in national forests over to state gov-
ernments later this year. Comments on the
proposal are due May 14 c/o Director,
Wildlife and Fisheries (2640), Forest
Service, USDA, POB 96090, Washington
D.C. 20090-6090.
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