Wild horses in Utah. Wild horses are protected under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which says in its preamble that they are “an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.” Ranchers and state officials who seek unfettered access to western rangelands, however, see them not as integral but rather an impediment. As a result, wild horse numbers are kept artificially low. The Bureau of Land Management is now considering risky ovariectomies of wild mares, despite the availability of effective, far less invasive immunocontraceptives.
A hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate) cruises the reef off Indonesia’s Raja Ampat Islands. Habitat loss and degradation, entanglement in fishing gear, ingestion of marine debris, slaughter for meat, and the tortoiseshell trade have taken a heavy toll on this critically endangered animal.
A male lion in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve strikes a regal pose. Although this lion is protected from trophy hunters, other African lions—particularly in southern African nations—are not so fortunate. US policy on trophy hunting is in limbo: The US Department of the Interior is touting its supposed economic benefits and seeking to lift restrictions on trophy imports. President Trump, however, seems of a different mind on the matter (see page 14).
A 2013 UN report stated that from 2005–2011, over 1,000 orangutans were intercepted from wildlife traffickers. This is only a fraction of the ones taken or slaughtered, however. Poachers routinely kill mother orangutans to steal their babies for the pet trade.
In this issue, we discuss the critical ecological and economic services provided by whales—how these leviathans jumpstart life at the smallest scale and keep oceanic ecosystems humming. Then, going from aquatic to arid, learn what AWI is doing to help Senegal National Parks revitalize a portion of the Sahel in sub-Saharan Africa. And meet some inspiring young activists who are running their own nonprofit organizations and lifting their voices on behalf of animals around the globe.