AWI Quarterly » 2012 Summer

Rapid assessment of wild animal population abundance is problematic, particularly for rare, cryptic felid species. However, estimates of population abundance are critical for effectively targeting conservation and management actions. Traditional mark-release-recapture (MRR) methods require recapturing hundreds of animals—often necessitating the capture of thousands of animals initially (Manning et al. 1995).
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is one of the country’s strongest environmental laws. It has reportedly safeguarded 99 percent of the 1,482 species placed under its protection from extinction—in contrast to the high extinction rate for species not protected by the Act. Yet few citizens realize that some key provisions of the ESA are interpreted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to allow the very species protected by law—some of them extinct or barely clinging to survival in the wild—to be hunted in captivity.
Lonesome George, the last known Pinta giant tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni) in existence, has died. Galapagos National Park Service officials announced in June that George— believed to be around 100 years old—was found dead in his corral by his keeper of 40 years, Fausto Llerena.
Every year, more than 10,000 animals are shot, stabbed, mutilated, and killed in military training exercises that purportedly prepare soldiers for treating trauma on the battlefield. Although more advanced military training facilities have replaced animal victims with human-like simulators that “breathe,” “bleed” and “die” in a manner that more accurately mimics human trauma, horrific procedures are still used at 17 military training bases and four private contract facilities across the country.
Wildlife Services is a little-known program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that uses brutal methods and taxpayer dollars to kill approximately 5 million animals each year under the guise of “managing problems caused by wildlife.” It operates with little transparency, resisting public access to records documenting many of its activities.
There she was, in her 70s and arthritic, in the remote Baja, Mexico desert, camping out in the wilderness. It was by sheer willpower that Mrs. Thompson got into the small boat to finally see her beloved whales. And it wasn’t long before a friendly gray whale and her calf swam up to her in the small boat. It was then that the whale rose up to touch her hand. She wept in joy, love, and awe; and at the thought that they might suffer from whalers—including her own people of the Makah tribe of Northwest Washington.
Soldier Dogs by Maria Goodavage. The reader can’t get past the cover of Maria Goodavage’s book Soldier Dogs—featuring a black Lab in goggles with her head on a camouflaged lap—without uttering an audible “awwww!” From that point on you are hooked on this highly readable account of Military Working Dogs (MWDs).
Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle by Thor Hanson. Feathers is an apt title for this book about exactly that—from the evolution of the first feathers and birds, to man’s desire to use feathers as adornment, for warmth, or as prototypes for human flight.
The Last Great Ape by Ofir Drori and David McDannald. The Last Great Ape: A Journey Through Africa and a Fight for the Heart of the Continent, by Ofir Drori and David McDannald, chronicles the path of Ofir, an adventure seeker who leaves his Israeli homeland for Africa.