SPECIES: North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis)
CURRENT RANGE: Along the east coast of North America, from Canada down to Georgia and Florida
CURRENT THREATS: Ship strikes, entanglement in commercial fishing lines
CONSERVATION STATUS: Endangered
WHERE CAN YOU SEE THEM: With just 400-450 left, chances of spotting them are slim, but your best bet is off the Georgia/Florida coast in winter.
(The following is a guest post from Margherita & Nick Ragg of adventure & nature travel blog The Crowded Planet. Follow their adventures via Facebook and Twitter. If you’re a blogger interested in guest posting on GGT, please email pitches to Editor-In-Chief Bret Love at GreenGlobalTravel@gmail.com.)
In The Land Below the Wind, Agness Keith wrote of the Bornean orangutans that used to visit her garden in order to eat fruit from the trees. The book was written in the 1930s, when the country was still covered in primary rainforest, thick and unexplored, providing habitat for a wealth of wildlife. It was said that orangutans could cross the whole of Borneo, swinging from one tree branch to another, without ever touching the ground.
Orangutans are one of four species of great apes, and found only in Borneo and Sumatra. Their affinity with humans was first recognized by the native people of Borneo, the Dayaks, who named them after the Malay-Indonesian words for man of the forest. Dayaks believed orangutans could talk, but chose not to in order to prevent being enslaved and put to work.
I realize this may sound like exaggerated hyperbole. But, until you’ve come face-to-face with an animal more than twice your height and 75 times your weight, it’s hard to fathom how the experience can alter your perception of humanity’s place in the Universe.
For me, it happened during the first game drive on the first day of my safari in Kruger National Park, South Africa.
He was a massive bull elephant, feeding on a tree about 75 yards from our open-air safari vehicle in Londolozi Game Reserve. As he noticed us, he slowly turned and ambled our way with a sense of purpose. When he got within 50 yards, I began looking at our guide nervously. By the time he’d reached the 30 yard mark, we asked if perhaps it was time to move the Jeep and give him some space. Solomon assured us that it was fine, as the elephant came closer and closer and closer.
(The following is a guest post by Sofie Couwenbergh, a Belgian language lover who balances a full-time job with a never-ending wanderlust, sharing her experiences on Wonderful Wanderings. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter. If you’re interested in contributing a story to Green Global Travel, please email pitches to Bret Love at info@GreenGlobalTravel.com.)
SPECIES: Southern Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus maccoyii)
CURRENT RANGE: Found in the open southern hemisphere waters of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans.
CURRENT THREATS: Over-fishing
CONSERVATION STATUS: Critically endangered
WHERE CAN YOU SEE THEM: In southern waters from 30° to 60° south, except during spawning season, when the Southern Bluefin Tuna migrates to the tropical seas off the west coast of Australia.
Conservation, n.: “The action or process of conserving; preservation of life, health, perfection, etc.; (also) preservation from destructive influences, natural decay, or waste.”
What would you pay for the life of an endangered species, of which less than 5,000 currently exist? According to Corey Knowlton, the Texas-based big game hunting guide who purchased a trophy-hunting permit for the right to kill one Black Rhino, $350,000 is the cost of conservation.
The permit, purchased from the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism, was sold at an auction last weekend by the Dallas Safari Club, which insisted that the money would be used to fund rhino conservation efforts. But details on how it will be used to that end remain sketchy at best.
The Namibian government has allowed five Black Rhino trophy-hunt permits a year since 2004. Numbers of black rhino have increased in recent years from 3,600 to 5,055. But this hasn’t stopped the Black Rhino from appearing on the IUCN Red List as critically endangered, the highest level of threat before extinction.
So news of the hunting permit’s sale sparked vitriolic debate between hunting advocates and wildlife conservationists center on whether killing for conservation is moral, or effective in terms of saving a species.