Rawr! Global Tiger Day brings attention to the reservation of tigers

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TigerDay.org

Global Tiger Day is held annually to bring attention to the reservation of tigers and to try to get people all over the world to join the fight to save them. According to the Tiger Day website, “The goal of Tiger Day is to promote the protection and expansion of the wilde tigers habitats and to gain support through awareness of tiger conservation.”

In just over a century, 97 percent of wild tigers have been lost. At this rate, wild tigers can become extinct in just five years.

Loss of habitat is a huge factor in the disappearance of the tiger. The tigers have lost  93 percent of their natural habitat during the expansion of cities and agriculture. Because we are now competing with tigers for the same land, tigers have now started to hunt livestock and have become vulnerable to poaching.

Climate change is also a factor. Rising sea levels are becoming a big concern as they threaten to destroy existing tiger habitats.

However, it’s not all bad news for the big cats! Things are looking great in Nepal after a survey showed a 63 percent increase in tigers since 2009. This brings their wild tiger population to 198. What a great way to start Global Tiger Day!

Nepal can be seen as inspiration to keep on fighting! This increase is a starting point to the things we can do as human beings who share this great planet with these beautiful creatures.

For more information of Global Tiger Day, visit their website. They have a great infographic on tigers all over the world and you can also check out some of their top documentary picks.

SAVE THE TIGERS!

Gov. Rick Scott continues to ignore Florida’s environmental damage

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JAXPORT, Meredith Fordham Hughes

Ever since Governor Rick Scott took office in 2011, Florida has taken steps back in conservation and land management.

Bob Graham, former governor and U.S. state senator, joined in on the debate and said Rick Scott reversed 40 years of Florida’s progress in conservation efforts.

During Scott’s term he has:

  • Cut $700 million from Florida’s management districts. The cuts hurt efforts to restore the Everglades and Indian River Lagoon while also threatening water supply. 300 positions were eliminated from the water district.
  • Ended an initiative that begun in 2001 that protected Florida’s springs. The initiative already totaled $25 million in spending.
  • Put the state’s water supply under the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) instead of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). People are concerned that the DEP will only follow the minimum requirements, if that, set by the EPA.

Some of the blame can be given to the strong Tea Party movement in Florida. The Tea Party wants to reduce government control and has unfortunately hurt the conservation progress by doing so. By making the government smaller, we are losing some of the control we had over the conservation efforts to keep Florida from getting much worse.

To be fair, I am not here to just mention all the bad things Rick Scott has done regarding conservation efforts. He has signed House Bill 7065, which gives financial support to help restore the Everglades. The $880 million promised to the restoration project was met with little criticism from the Florida state government.

However, some say the measure does not go far enough in getting the sugar industries off the hook for polluting the Everglades. The bill does not give consequences to sugar companies who do not reduce the amount of phosphorus coming off their land. Still, the bill does head in the right direction.

Florida has a diverse, beautiful ecosystem and it seems that the government forgets it in order to profit from their own agenda. As residents of the the state, we cannot stay silent as the state faces destruction caused by the ignorance of the people who are supposed to represent us.  Contact your representatives and keep fighting!

For a more in-depth list of Gov. Rick Scott’s decisions on conservation efforts, check out this great Broward New Times article at browardpalmbeach.com.

Mysterious Deaths in Indian River Lagoon

Toxic seaweed may be the cause of the deaths of 112 manatees in the Indian River Lagoon, according to the National Ocean Service.

The Indian River Lagoon is known to be one of the most diverse ecosystems in North America. However, the lagoon may be in danger after scientists discovered that more than 47,000 acres of its sea grass bed, the manatee’s main diet, have died off.

Because the sea grass has been wiped out, manatees are forced to eat the seaweed in the lagoon that, scientists now know, is plagued with sewage-fueled algae blooms.

The cause of the bloom is not yet known. One idea is that there is a leak in one of the 300,000 septic tanks around the lagoon, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Basically, the lagoon is now an active sewer.

Manatees aren’t the only casualties. Since last summer, 52 dolphins and 300 pelicans have also been found dead. These casualties may or may not be related to the deaths of the manatees because they all eat different types of food. Also, manatees have been found completely full of seaweed while dolphins and pelicans were found starving.

How’s Florida reacting to the news of the deaths of their marine life?

The Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University had $2 million in  state funds coming their way to study the bodies popping up in the lagoon. Good ol’ Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the project.

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Photo Credit: Flickr/Steve Duane

Help save the manatees by donating to the Save the Manatees Club at http://www.savethemanatee.org. They even give you the option of adopting a manatee for yourself!

Want to read up on the Indian River Lagoon crisis? Wired has a great article at http://bit.ly/1669oWc.

Attack of the Burmese Python!

Photo taken by Karunakar Rayker

Photo taken by Karunakar Rayker

In the Everglades, a creature unlike any others slithers through the trees. Animals scatter away in horror of the creature as it boasts its fangs and eats everything in sight. DUN, DUN, DUN! It’s the Burmese python.

Okay, maybe the story is not so dramatic, but the Burmese python has caused a lot of damage to the Everglades.

The python is known to be an invasive species. An invasive species is an exotic species that, once it is introduced to the ecosystem, explodes in numbers and does environmental harm or harm to human health, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

These invasive species can come from either a different part of North America or a different continent altogether.

Invasive species can lead to the extinction of native species.Think of the Everglades as a system of checks and balances. In a perfect ecosystem, plants get eaten by smaller animals, larger animals eat those smaller animals, and so on. This system of checks and balances can be disrupted once a predator that is not a part of the system is introduced.The animal thrives because it has no real predators and can eat anything.

Burmese pythons have become an invasive species after being released by pet owners. The pythons, one of the largest species of snake in the world, have been known to feed on mammals and sometimes even alligators!

According to a Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences report, in January 2012, there was a severe decline in mammal populations in the Everglades over the last eight years.  A full-grown 13 foot python, needs to eat about 200 pounds of food every five years, according to the Nature Conservancy. The Burmese pythons have been known to get up to 13 feet.

To fight back against the invasion, the Nature Conservancy launched Python Patrol. Citizens are encouraged to call in snake sightings at 1-888-IVE-GOT-1. The call will reach Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission call centers in South Florida where a trained responder are dispatched, according to the Nature Conservancy.

For more tips on ways you can help stop the invasion, visit the Nature Conservancy Python Patrol page at http://bit.ly/16W0EyU.

An Introduction

Hey guys!
My name is Dianmarie and I am a second year Journalism major at the University of Florida. My mission is to stir up curiosity and get people to understand how important conservation is for the continuation of life on this beautiful planet. I will post on a variety of different topics under the conservation umbrella and try to even get a professional opinion on some of the stories I write. 

Let’s make this interactive! My message box is always open and comments on any story are strongly recommended. Follow me at @insideplanet for more conservation posts!