This will mean that I will be leaving Thailand, but I hope this will provide me with better opportunities to help tigers in the wild.
I'm not very active on DA these days, mostly due to work. I'm happy to share news coverage below of the tiger project I've been leading. It's a positive story, which is rare in tiger conservation. I hope this will generate more support for tigers that we can use to build upon these positive developments.
New population of rare tigers found in eastern Thailandwww.bbc.com/news/world-asia-39…
A new breeding population of the critically endangered Indochinese tiger has been found in a national park in eastern Thailand, conservationists say.
Camera traps discovered a small population with at least six cubs in the jungle.
Poaching and the loss of habitat has reduced the global population of the sub-species to under 250.
Conservationists said the success was due to the stepping-up of anti-poaching efforts in Thailand.
Until this find, only one other breeding population of Indochinese tigers - also in a Thai national park - was known of.
The extraordinary rebound of eastern Thailand's tigers is nothing short of miraculous," said John Goodrich, tiger programme director at Panthera.
The director of Thailand's national parks, Songtam Suksawang, said: "The stepping up of anti-poaching patrols and law enforcement efforts in this area have played a pivotal role in conserving the tiger population by ensuring a safe environment for them to breed.
"However, we must remain vigilant and continue these efforts, because well-armed poachers still pose a major threat."
Numbers of tigers in the wild have dwindled from 100,000 a century ago to 3,900 today, the groups said in a joint statement.
Last stronghold: By Jonathan Head, BBC South-East Asia correspondent, Bangkok
Thailand was the first country in this region to deplete its forests, to such an extent that by the 1980s it had banned logging. It was also among the first to establish national parks, but initially these were also badly stressed by illegal logging and hunting.
At the time, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and even Vietnam had a lot of pristine forests left, with healthy populations of tigers. Tigers had declined in Thailand to the point where in the early 2000s it was thought they were very small and fragmented.
But since then, massive illegal exploitation has badly depleted the forests and tiger populations in the other countries - even Myanmar - to the point where Indochinese tigers are believed to be extinct in Cambodia, down to just a handful in Laos and Vietnam and with unknown, but almost certainly greatly reduced numbers in eastern Myanmar.
Meanwhile, improved conservation strategies have allowed the tiny population of Indochinese tigers in Thailand to recover in some areas, although they have disappeared in others. So, with its reasonably well-run national parks, Thailand finds itself unexpectedly the last stronghold of the Indochinese tiger.
Thank you to those watching me. I really appreciate your kind words and comments.
I have not been active here in quite some time. One major reason for this is that I lost my camera and haven't been able to afford a new one. I am also living in Thailand (and have been for five years) so my access to my previous zoo friends is not as easy. That being said, I've been very hard at work for tigers here in Thailand. We have had great results recently and I am looking forward to sharing them with you sometime in the near future.
BTW - If any of you wish to follow me on Twitter you can follow me at @WalksWithTigers.
Please check it out at this www.amazon.com/Blood-Tiger-Con… with a description below:
"Blood of the Tiger takes readers on a wild ride to save one of the world’s rarest animals from a band of Chinese billionaires.
Many people think wild tigers are on the road to recovery, but they are in greater danger than ever—from a menace few experts saw coming.
There may be only three thousand wild tigers left in the entire world. More shocking is the fact that twice that many—some six thousand—have been bred on farms, not for traditional medicine but to supply a luxury-goods industry that secretly sells tiger-bone wine, tiger-skin décor, and exotic cuisine enjoyed by China’s elite.
Two decades ago, international wildlife investigator J. A. Mills went undercover to expose bear farming in China and discovered the plot to turn tigers into nothing more than livestock. Thus begins the story of a personal crusade in which Mills mobilizes international forces to awaken the world to a conspiracy so pervasive that it threatens every last tiger in the wild.
In this memoir of triumph, heartbreak, and geopolitical intrigue, Mills and a host of heroic comrades try to thwart a Chinese cadre’s plan to launch billion-dollar industries banking on the extinction of not just wild tigers but also elephants and rhinos. Her journey takes her across Asia, into the jungles of India and Nepal, to Russia and Africa, traveling by means from elephant back to presidential motorcade, in the company of man-eaters, movie stars, and world leaders. She finds reason for hope in the increasing number of Chinese who do not want the blood of the last wild tigers to stain their beloved culture and motherland.
Set against the backdrop of China’s ascendance to world dominance, Blood of the Tiger tells of a global fight to rein in the forces of greed on behalf of one of the world’s most treasured and endangered animals."
To all you twitter users, give me a shoutout so I can see who you are!
Freeland photos provides updates on Freeland's wildlife monitoring activities in Thailand. Utilizing cameratraps, Freeland is working with government partners to gather crucial information on tigers, elephants, and other species to better inform management efforts to protect these endangered species.
Old One Eye
Freeland/DNP surveys have been following this male for several years who is defying the odds and managing to survive, despite an injury to his right eye and numerous other challenges. Tigers are resilient, but they urgently need our help. Fewer than 250 Indochinese tigers remain in the forests of Thailand, threatened by poaching, habitat loss, and loss of prey. Help give this tiger and others a chance by supporting Freeland in protecting this symbol of Thailand’s incredible natural heritage.
For those who have been watching me for the year, you may know that, for World Ranger Day in 2013 (July 31st), I aimed to generate support for protected area rangers defending tigers and other wildlife in Thailand through donations (Journal HERE). People donating received a spiffy t-shirt, courtesy of WildlifeThailand.com if they donated more than $10.
Money raised was used to provide equipment to rangers that FREELAND works with in Eastern Thailand. One donation by LInconnu24 was used to buy a monocular for one amazing ranger. He reported to me last week that using this equipment, the ranger and his team arrested 8 poachers.
That is 8 fewer poachers in the forest thanks in part to one person's generosity. If anyone here doubts their ability to make an impact by making a simple donation to a cause like this, I encourage them to think again.
If anyone is interested in making an impact like this as well, I am still taking donations and t-shirts are still available. For more information, please visit this journal.
If you would like to help by making a larger donation or an in-kind donation. The ranger patrol teams watching over tigers in Eastern Thailand need some important equipment, including outdoor gear (rucksacks, multitools, compasses, water filters, etc.), as well as more technical equipment (GPS receivers, computers, hard drives and cameras). If you know of any companies willing to donate some of this equipment in-kind or if you have old equipment that you do not use and would like to donate, please contact me.
Arrested gang believed to have slaughtered 'more than 10' wild tigers
As many as 20 big cats were brought live to southern Guangdong city to be slaughtered and eaten for the entertainment of businessmen and officials
Sixteen members of a gang believed to have slaughtered more than 10 captured tigers over the years have been arrested in Zhanjiang, southern Guangdong, revealing a secret trade that has supplied blood sport, traditional remedies and exotic delicacies to wealthy customers and local officials, the Nanfang Daily reports.
Zhanjiang police raided a residential building in Leizhou on March 14 and found 16 people slaughtering a tiger, police said on their official microblog. One of the suspects jumped or fell to his death from the building while trying to flee.
Police seized the carcass of the tiger, believed to have been captured in Vietnam and shipped alive to China, assorted tiger goods to be sold on the black market, and a cache of weapons used to capture the big cats, including knifes, bullets and stun guns.
According to the report, watching the big cats being killed in the field then cooked and eaten had became popular among wealthy businessmen and government officials not only in Leizhou, but in Zhanjiang.
Many local officials, including delegates to the municipal people’s congress and senior officials at county and township level, are enthusiastic about such exotic banquets or drinking tiger-bone wine. The report said private businessmen would often pay for the officials to attend such events.
It is not known exactly how many tigers have been killed illegally in Leizhou. This case is only the third reported by local police – the others were in 2007 and 2010. But it is estimate as many as 20 were slaughtered and sold at local markets in that time, the report said.
The report said the criminal syndicates already have buyers for the meat or bones lined up before they smuggle the tigers from Vietnam. Tigers are slaughtered at various places in Leizhou to avoid police detection: in the woods, banana groves or houses. They quickly move on when a sale is complete.
The gang would buy live tigers from Vietnam for about 200,000 yuan (HK$) each and sell its meat and tiger skeleton in Leizhou as high as 300,000 yuan in total.
Trade in tiger parts was banned nationwide in 1993, although bones are sometimes used in traditional Chinese medicine and as a tonic for men.
The Indochinese tiger of Vietnam is classed on the threshold of “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Between 420 and 1,100 only are believed to survive in either captivity or the wild in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. The last Indochinese tiger in China was killed and eaten by a poacher in 2007.
The South China Tiger, a separate species that once roamed in Hong Kong, was killed off in large numbers in the 1950s and is believed to be extinct in the wild. There have been no official sightings since the early 1970s.
Spoiler Alert: It's the old man.
World Ranger Day
On the frontline of defense of the world's threatened wildlife and natural resources are the protected area enforcement rangers, who patrol day and night over inhospitable terrain. Their vigilance represents, in many cases, the only obstacle between globally important species and the criminals driving them to extinction.
Protected area rangers carry out their work at great personal risk from disease, accidents, and encounters with violent criminal groups. Over the last ten years more than 1,000 are known to have been killed in action, with an even larger number injured or maimed. In the first half of 2013 alone, a confirmed eighty-five rangers have lost their lives. It is possible many more have been unreported.
Many protected areas in developing countries lack sufficient financial support from government agencies. As a result, many rangers in these countries lack even the most basic training, equipment, medical insurance, and financial compensation.
To draw attention to this problem and to honor the world's rangers the 31st July has been declared World Ranger Day.
My Work With Rangers
In my work with FREELAND Foundation to help protect tigers and other species in Thailand's Eastern Forest Complex (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), I've worked closely with these dedicated rangers. I'm constantly amazed by the job these individuals do to protect Thailand's natural heritage, despite great personal risk, little pay, and almost no recognition. In some cases, these individuals do not even have enough food to conduct patrols.
Over the past several months, rangers in this area have faced more numerous and increasingly violent poachers. During this time, two rangers we have worked with have been shot by poachers, one killed. Furthermore, another ranger was severely injured by a bear, requiring extensive medical care and facial reconstruction. These individuals and their families do not receive financial assistance from the Thai government. Others that do their job have recently received death threats.
These people are true heroes of conservation. They deserve better.
To assist rangers, FREELAND helps conduct specialized enforcement training courses, provides equipment, and offers compensation following injury or death among many other activities. However, we can't do it alone. These rangers require more support.
An Appeal for Support
To celebrate World Ranger Day, I not only want to bring attention to these individuals, I also want to give you the opportunity to support these rangers.
WildlifeThailand.com, a great friend of these rangers, has provided me with a handful of t-shirts which promote the conservation of tigers in Thailand's Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai (or Eastern) Forest Complex. Only a few shirts have been made of which I have 15: 12 L (M for Westerners) and 2 XL (L for Westerners).
My plan for funds raised is to purchase various equipment for rangers in Thailand's Eastern Forest Complex. Specific equipment will be determined based on individual need and amount of funds raised. I will provide photographs of equipment donated as well as the rangers receiving donations. It likely won't be much, but it will at least make the job of the rangers a little bit easier.
How to Support
Please contact me via dA personal message or at HeWhoWalksWithTigers –at- Gmail.com if you wish to make a donation to these rangers; this address can also be used via PayPal. If you are not comfortable with making a donation through me (as this is not an official FREELAND fundraising campaign), feel free to visit FREELAND.org and use the online donation system. However, I will not receive notification of your donation and would not be able to provide a t-shirt or your message to the rangers. I am conducting this fundraising on my own to more easily connect those supporting conservation with the rangers they are helping. If you have any concerns, feel free to contact me. I take your trust very seriously.
I will answer any question in the comments so ask away about the rangers, fundraising, tigers…anything!
If you care about wildlife, please take a moment out of your day today to remember those who are putting their lives on the line to protect the world's extraordinary wildlife and wild places.
Be warned, snow leopard cubs can appear suddenly and without warning. If you find yourself ambushed by a snow leopard, stop, drop and roll or take shelter behind a pane of glass. Snow leopard cubs may cause cute overload if observed for extended periods of time.
Filmed at the Toronto Zoo. Please visit www.SnowLeopard.org for information about how YOU can help this endangered species!
After months of working in Thailand, I was flying from Tokyo to Toronto for an extended vacation. I hadn't seen my family since leaving almost a year prior. I was quietly excited. As I flew over central Canada, I spent hours watching the landscape move slowly past and snapping the occasional photo of towns, oil fields and beautiful geographic features covered in a blanket of radiantly white snow. I was eager to show my family these photos along with the many I've taken during my adventures in tigerland (still to be uploaded, if anyone is interested).
A few hours later, plane on the tarmac of Pearson International, I took stock of my belongings: passport, laptop, portable hard drive, headphones, and my camera. After packing my backpack, I joined the queue of fellow passengers, shuffled off the airport and braced my body for the cold Canadian winter.
My mother picked me up from the airport, taking to a home which seemed to change very little since I left, gleaming with Christmas decorations and warm. I spent the first few days in Canada acclimatizing to the cold weather and running pre-Christmas errands.
One evening, I decided to find my camera so that I could retrieve my in-flight photography. Entering my room, I noticed it wasn't with the belongings I had unpacked. I looked in my backpack. After noticing it was empty, I paused, blankly staring into a void that seemed much larger than the backpack could contain.
The wheels began turning, inner monologue sputtering…
"It had to have been in my bag"
"I couldn't have forgotten it"
"It must be here somewhere"
I politely tore my room apart in methodical desperation. All likely places scoured, my brain decided to treat me to a vivid, unsettling memory. During landing, I stowed my camera at my feet to make sure I didn't forget it. However, snuggled in a black case, it would have blended into the floor perfectly in the low light of the cabin. I forgot it.
I would have laughed at the irony, if my heart wasn't sinking.
Of course, I filled in the proper "missing item" forms, called the airline with relevant information. However, it was likely long gone. The tool of my trade that I used on all my adventures, which photographed tigers in India and was almost chomped by them in the zoo, could have been anywhere in the world or (cynically, I thought) in a dishonest airline employee's possession. It took over 5 years of abuse and was starting to malfunction, but it was a good camera. Most recently, I was using it to photograph FREELAND's activities for reports and brochures. Without it, I felt as though my stock would go down as a useful employee.
My thoughts wandered to what was next. I was a photographer without a camera. Most people would start thinking immediately of buying a new one (which I had entertained when struggling with some of the problems I was experiencing), but it wasn't that simple. After months of working unpaid, I was only just beginning to make money. My hopes were buoyed by generous cash gifts during Christmas, but with my return flight and student loans as heavy financial burdens, I felt I had already spent what was reasonable.
In the new "Life of Pi" movie (VERY highly recommended), the main character philosophizes that life "is an act of letting go". If there was a small chance I could recover the camera myself, my nerves would drive me to seek out every option, losing sleep and spoiling my holiday. I'm a worrier. However, the futility of my situation truncated my sadness and guilt (made easier by being with family on a wonderful vacation). Just when I had let go, things changed.
One of my things on "to-do" list in Canada was meet a friend from DeviantArt whom I had not seen in a few years.: the wonderfully talented MoonsongWolf.
MoonsongWolf, her husband, and myself got together at a Toronto pub, the Fox & Fiddle. We enjoyed sharing stories over greasy pub fare and lovely Canadian beer. I eagerly shared with them stories from Thailand. They, after all, had a significant part in making my work in Thailand happen, promoting my fundraising campaign on DeviantArt, offering incentives to donors, and making a kind donation themselves.
I had the displeasure of telling them my shameful tale of empty-headedness. However, it was easily remedied by great company and great beer. We parted ways at the end of the night and bid farewell.
A got a call a few days later from MoonsongWolf asking to share an idea with me. I returned the call and she shared with me an intriguing proposition (to say the least). She was looking to upgrade her used DSLR to something more modern and asked me if I was interested in taking it off her hands. Eyebrows raised, I thought that buying second-hand might be a viable option, but I would have to see.
She corrected me. She wanted to give me the camera. I sputtered a few awkward sentences of surprise and asked if she was sure. A few days later, I was picking up my first DSLR (Canon Rebel XT/EOS 350D) with all the kit I could hope for. She was my photography savior.
I cannot fathom why I am so fortunate (and if I even deserve) to know so many extraordinarily kind, talented, and generous people. The camera is something I am continuing to work with (being my first SLR), but I hope to have some great shots for all of you soon. Having a camera to take photos I can share with the world is something I value dearly; it allows me to show my audience the amazing animals I've worked with and the work I am doing to try and protect them. It means a lot to have such a tool. A good friend and a kind gesture can mean so much more. MoonsongWolf reminds me of how fortunate I am.
I encourage anyone who has enjoyed any of my photos to pay MoonsongWolf a visit and get to know her wonderful talent and personality; I also encourage you to snap up the opportunity for a commission if one should appear. Kind, selfless gestures seem rare these days… this wonderful deviant cannot get enough positive attention for her work on DeviantArt and beyond.
Thank you . You are a hero.
Check out this cool video of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking up against wildlife trafficking. There are some pretty high level people getting involved in this important issue! www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHrIl7…
Sign the pledge to respect and protect the world's wildlife! www.wildlifepledge.org/
Find out how FREELAND is fighting against human and wildlife trafficking freeland.org/eng/
Spread the word!
I'm still busily working away in Bangkok for FREELAND. In fact, I've been able to secure myself a spot here for at least another 6-months. I'm very excited!
I'm working on a project for FREELAND and need your help! I'm looking to design an educational poster on tigers and although I have plenty of images and info, there is one thing in particular I am missing: a human-tiger size comparison.
I envision a typical human silhouette versus a tiger silhouette to scale. I already have a human template, but I can't seem to find myself a tiger image of that sort that I can use. Are there any designers out there that have a silhouette image of a tiger that I could use for this project? If you have design skills and could make one from a reference image, I would be happy to provide refs. I need something large or something that can be scaled up (like a vector image). I'm more of a photographer than a designer, to be quite honest.
The person who helps me will be mentioned on the poster, which will have a neat role (although that is secret for now).
If you want to use your design skills for conservation. This is a great opportunity!
Send me a note or comment if you are interested.
P.S.: I've been quite horrible at responding to comments and notes here so PLEASE bear with me. Things are quite busy here in tigerland!
See some photos from a trip I had to Kanchanaburi, home to the Elephant Conservation Network. Includes civet poo coffee, a tiger pugmark, and a rather surly owlet.
I've been talking about FREELAND quite a bit over the past year. After all, I've been happily helping them partly because of your help! However, FREELAND is currently in a predicament and could use the help of fellow wildlife photographers out there!
The illegal wildlife trade is estimated to have a value of billions of dollars every year, making it the third most lucrative international industry behind guns and drugs. However, despite this trade wiping out wildlife all over the world, efforts of law enforcement have yet to match those of the criminals that traffic wildlife. Simply put, the illegal wildlife trade is not taken seriously. As a result, law enforcement and customs personnel often do not have the training to identify wildlife and wildlife products that they come across. This lack of knowledge prevents cases from being developed against wildlife criminals.
FREELAND is developing a mobile app for enforcement and customs personnel in Southeast Asia to help them easily identify wildlife that is being trafficked, especially those being trafficked illegally. However, given the number of species trafficked, FREELAND simply does not have the resources to pay for the rights to use professional photos of wildlife in their app.
Here is where you come in! If you are interested in helping FREELAND tackle the illegal wildlife trade and are a wildlife photographer, you can help by donating your photos for use in this app. All photographers will be credited and FREELAND will inform you when the app is released.
How to Help
For those interested, please take a look at the list of species below. If you have high-quality images of any of these species and wish to donate your photos to the cause, you cab send them to PhotosForFREELAND@gmail.com. If you do, please list the species and your name somewhere in the photo file name; that will make things easy for organizing and crediting later on (hopefully, if we do get a lot of photos)!
Image resolution is preferred to be larger than 2048 x 1566 pixels, but smaller images are also acceptable.
Please share with friends here on DeviantArt through your journal and in the groups you belong to! It will help get the word out there!
Gaur and Banteng
All wild cat species, specifically endangered South-east Asian cats
Southeast Asian Otters (Eurasian otter, hairy-nosed otter, smooth-coated otter, oriental small clawed otter etc.)
Asiatic Black Bear
Banded Palm Civet and Banded Linsang
Lesser Whistling and Wandering Whistling Ducks
Birds of Prey
Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot
Alligator and Caiman species
Philippine and New Guinea Crocodiles
Siamese and Estuarine Crocodiles
Day Gecko species
Monitor Lizard Species
Oriental Rat Snake
Asian Box Turtles
Malaysian Giant Turtle
Indian Star Tortoise
Burmese Star Tortoise
Asian Brown Tortoise
Asiatic Softshell Turtle
Chinese Softshell Turtle
Giant Clam species
Orchids (particularly CITES appendix I species)
FREELAND is a Thailand-based non-profit which aims to end human and wildlife trafficking. To find out more, please visit freeland.org/eng/
I just wanted to stop by to wish everyone a very happy International Tiger Day!
International Tiger Day was declared in 2010 at the St. Petersberg Tiger Summit. What can you do to celebrate, you ask? Well you could:
1) Watch a cool tiger documentary, like this one and this one!
2) Get informed on tiger conservation issues. There are an estimated 3,200 tigers remaining in the wild, but why? Go to a local book store or library and check out a book on tigers. I'd recommend "Tigers of the World" by Valmik Thapar or "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel. Do a Google search on tigers...there is plenty of information out there, all you have to do is go looking! Spread awareness here on dA and elsewhere!
3) Plan a fundraiser at your local school or place of work to raise money!
4) Do some volunteer work at your local zoo or exotic animal rescue (be sure they're legitimate though). Ask the zoo what their tiger enrichment program is and if you can help bring in toys for them to play with. Watermelons make for a fun, messy toys for tigers. If a local conservation group that works with tigers is nearby, ask if you can come in and volunteer. Even a little bit of your time and skills help!
5) Post tiger related artwork or literature to your deviantArt account. Already have? Post a link in the comments and share it with others!
6) On Facebook? Visit FREELAND and grab some cool timeline covers featuring photography by yours truly! Be sure to follow as well!
7) Learn about the work myself and FREELAND are doing in Thailand to protect tigers!
8) Donate to your favourite tiger non-profit. There are many organizations out there doing great work. I'm biased so I have to recommend FREELAND!
9) Looking for some tiger photography to adorn your den or to give as a gift? Don't buy something mass produced. You can get any of your favourite tiger photos of mine in a print right here on dA and shipped directly to you. If it is not set up as a print, let me know and I can put it up for you!
10) Tell people about International Tiger Day in YOUR journal too! Spread the word!