From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1995:

About 30,000 orangutans remain in Borneo, say Indonesian offi-
cials, but only about 300 survive in East Kalimantan province, due to rainfor-
est logging and poaching––plus 165 orangs kept at a rehabilitation centre in
Samboja, near the Sungai Wein jungle preserve. Rescued from smugglers,
most suffer from hepatitis and/or tuberculosis contracted in captivity.
Thai authorities circa January 20 confiscated 21 endangered
Burmese bear cubs from a smuggler who boasted of having already shipped 70
cubs to South Korean restaurants this year alone––and got off with an on-the-
spot fine. The cubs were taken to a captive breeding center, where three died
within a day.

Stadium and Olympic village construction for the 2000 Olympics,
to be held in Sydney, Australia, under the theme “The Green Games,” may
jeopardize habitat for four endangered species––the green and golden bell frog
and three birds, the Lathan’s snipe, Pacific plover, and green shank. The
frog, once commonly used for dissection, is near extinction due to predation
by mosquito fish, introduced from North America to control mosquitos.
Craig Harwood, director of the Overseas Game Meat Export
C o m p a n y, based in Sydney, Australia, complained recently that up to
200,000 of the million kangaroos killed each year in New South Wales are left
to rot because the Australian government hasn’t adequately promoted kanga-
roo-eating abroad. Across Australia, about three million kangaroos per year
are killed, from a population estimated at 20 million, chiefly because they
compete with sheep and cattle for scarce water and forage. The kangaroo meat
market may soon expand to the U.S.: on March 7 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service removed the red kangaroo, western gray kangaroo, and eastern gray
kangaroo from the endangered species list, opening the door to kangaroo
product imports. Such imports were banned in 1974, but the ban was lifted in
1981. The USFWS said that while urbanization and competition for grazing
land had hurt the kangaroos, they had benefited from dingo massacres and the
construction of water holes undertaken to help the livestock industry.
The oil firm Oil Japan Esso-Kai on January 23 donated $700,000
to the Australian Koala Foundation. The wild koala population has plunged
from 400,000 to 80,000 in a decade, due to drought and habitat loss. “In two
of the three koala states, New South Wales and Queensland, bushfires have
caused massive destrution of habitat,” reports Sue Arnold of Australians for
Animals. “Most of the fires have been deliberately lit. In southeast
Queensland, the last large aggregation of koalas left on the entire continent
will almost certainly be wiped out,” by freeway construction, while the NSW
government has authorized accelerated woodchipping in koala country.
Endemic chlamydia, causing sterility, additionally pressures koalas. NSW on
February 13 implemented a new development policy––announced January
4––that prevents municipalities from approving construction until after deter-
mining if the site includes koalas. “Any move toward protecting koala habitat
is welcome,” responded Wilderness Society spokesperson Kevin Parker, “but
we need long uninterrupted stretches of wilderness, rather just little bits.” The
Fund for Animals meanwhile petitioned to add koalas to the U.S. endangered
species list. “It should embarrass Australia, and we’re hoping that results in
significantly more protection for koalas and their habitat,” said Fund director
of investigations D.J. Schubert.
Kenya on February 9 burned its entire stock of confiscated ivory,
rhino horns, and hippo teeth, worth an estimated $1 million, to dramatize a
plea to other nations to destroy their own stocks. It was Kenya’s third such
bonfire since 1989. Other African nations, with mounting stockpiles of such
materials, are pressing for resumption of legal traffic in wildlife parts––which
would provide cover for traffic in poached parts. So-called sustainable use
advocates, including the World Wildlife Fund and agencies of the United
Nations and U.S. government, recently warned in a joint report that because
African nations are restricted in their ability to profit by elephants, spending to
protect them is sharply down. About 600,000 elephants survive in Africa, half
as many as in 1985. WWF elephant expert Ginette Hemley predicts the species
will never recover due to human encroachments on vacated habitat. But
Kenyan minister of tourism and wildlife Katana Ngala said reopening the ivory
trade is no solution. “The ivory ban, combined with stepped-up security, has
led to a dramatic decrease in poaching and a slow recovery of Kenya’s ele-
phant population,” he said. Zimbabwe, perhaps the nation that has most cut
back on elephant conservation spending, meanwhile claims an urgent need to
kill or sell at least 5,000 elephants due to drought and alleged overpopulation.
As of 1988, Zimbabwe had only 43,000 elephants, but as the known levels of
both poaching and culling have risen, so have official estimates of elephant
numbers, placed at 70,000 last year and 80,000 now. For an elephant popula-
tion to grow that quickly would be biologically unparalleled.
South Africa, another leading proponent of reopening legal trade
in both ivory and rhino horn, was recently embarrassed when the S u n d a y
T e l e g r a p h, of London, revealed that it withheld data from the November
CITES triennial meeting showing that the rhino population of its most impor-
tant rhino reserve, the Umfolozi-Hiuhluwe Park, is only 1,210, not the 2,000
it claimed. The finding amounts to a 10% decrease in the total estimated wild
rhino population. Because of claimed success at rhino conservation, South
Africa won a relaxation of international rhino trafficking rules at the triennial,
enabling it to sell live rhinos abroad. Red faces grew even redder with the fur-
ther disclosure that poachers killed four rhinos in the Umfolozi reserve in
December, plus another at the nearby Mkuzi reserve in late February. In
between, ivory thieves hacked the tusks off of a 13-year-old tame elephant at a
supposedly secure game park––without otherwise hurting her.
Tanzanian wildlife project manager Louis Nzali warned on
February 5 that despite the arrest of 85 poachers in recent months, refugees
from ethnic strife in Rwanda and Burundi have overrun the Burigi game
reserve, killing thousands of animals. He urged the government to move two
major refugee camps away from the area of the reserve.
Taiwan rhino horn stocks are down from 2,332 pounds to 1,420
since imports were banned 1985, according to the Taiwanese Council of
Agriculture, billing the decline as evidence of increased concern for conserva-
tion rather than as the result of consumption and illegal exports.
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