Wednesday

The Bengal tiger is a Panthera tigris tigris population in the Indian subcontinent. It is listed as Endangered on the IUCN List since 2008, and was estimated at comprising fewer than 2,500 individuals by 2011.

It is threatened by poaching, loss and fragmentation of habitat. None of the Tiger Conservation Landscapes within its range is considered large enough to support an effective population of more than 250 adult individuals. India's tiger population was estimated at 1,706–1,909 individuals in 2010. By 2014, the population had reputedly increased to an estimated 2,226 individuals. Around 440 tigers are estimated in Bangladesh, 163–253 tigers in Nepal and 103 tigers in Bhutan.

The tiger is estimated to be present in the Indian subcontinent since the Late Pleistocene, for about 12,000 to 16,500 years.

The Bengal tiger ranks among the biggest wild cats alive today. It is considered to belong to the world's charismatic megafauna. It is the national animal of both India and Bangladesh. It is also known as the Royal Bengal tiger.

These adorable cubs went from having their teeth bared as they headed off in pursuit of their dinner to snuggling up and posing for a purr-fect family paw-trait with mum Arrowhead, five, in the space of minutes.

Wildlife photographer Andy Rouse, 54, snapped the images at Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve in India, where he devotes his time to the animals.


Andy said: “This is the first time anyone has seen these cubs so clearly.

“These are very very unique pictures of the first big adventure for a new family.

“Arrowhead appeared over a small hill with the two cubs walking shyly behind her – they were shy and nervous but they still had enough mischief to play a little.




Tuesday

Guaricema Pataxo’s indigenous roots are the cornerstone of her identity. The 53-year-old great-grandmother lives on her Pataxo people’s reservation and makes a living by hawking their handicrafts, fully decked out in traditional regalia.

But ask her to speak Pataxo, and she can only stumble through a few basic words and phrases.

Her situation is not unusual.

Of the estimated 2,000 indigenous languages thought to have been spoken in pre-Columbian times in what is now Brazil, only around 160 survive today. Experts warn that as many as 40 percent of those remaining could be lost in the next few decades, as elders die off and young people get more access to television, the Internet and cellphones.

The pace of change has been accelerated by big agriculture’s push into the hinterland, bringing roads, electricity and outsiders to areas with a high concentration of indigenous people.

A program spearheaded in part by UNESCO, the U.N.’s cultural and educational agency, aims to give a fighting chance to nearly three dozen threatened languages. Over nearly eight years, the program has helped 35 tribes to transcribe their languages, develop dictionaries and teaching tools for children and document their rich oral traditions.


“We used to learn our language and the stories of our people with our elders,” said Elly Mairu Karaja, of the Karaja people of central Brazil, a schoolteacher who’s worked with the program. “But now, with technology, the youngsters are living in the white world even while they’re on our land. There are many now who don’t want to be indigenous anymore.”

Along with the problem of anemic interest from younger generations, demography itself is playing against the survival of many indigenous languages, said Jose Carlos Levinho, director of Rio de Janeiro’s Indian Museum, which ran the project with Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency.

While the country’s indigenous population is thought to have numbered from 3 million to 5 million in pre-Columbian days, five centuries of disease, violence and poverty have whittled that to under 1 million. Now, Brazil’s original inhabitants make up less than 0.5 percent of this country of 200 million.

The indigenous population is splintered into 305 tribes, some with just several dozen or fewer members.

“In Brazil, nearly 40 percent of indigenous nations have fewer than 500 members,” said Levinho. “Studies have shown that these days, such small populations aren’t able preserve their languages.”

“We have several peoples who’ve completely lost their languages and want to try to recover them; we have some peoples where there are very few speakers left; some where there are generational conflicts; and some where the indigenous language has become the second language,” he added.

Portuguese is now the first language of most members of the Pataxo nation, including handicraft vendor Guaricema Pataxo.

“Our people often leave our lands to study outside and they meet lots of people and end up marrying white people, and it all gets more and more diluted,” said Pataxo, who has two children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, none of whom speak the tribe’s mother tongue.


The Pataxos’ ancestral home is along Brazil’s Atlantic coast and there are historical accounts of association between the tribe and Europeans dating back to the 1500s. Five centuries of contact, including efforts to “civilize” the Pataxo by removing their children and forbidding them from speaking their language, took a toll. Of today’s remaining 13,000 Pataxos, only around 1,600 are thought to speak the group’s native tongue.

“I don’t feel good” about not speaking Pataxo, the handicraft vendor said as she peddled seed necklaces at the recent World Indigenous Games in the central city of Palmas. “I would feel better if I had learned.”

Under the program to save indigenous tongues, specialists were dispatched country-wide to train a hand-picked cadre of tribe members to collect archival materials such as videos of traditional ceremonies where the old languages are used and to help transcribe languages that were exclusively oral.

Transcription “is a long, tense, difficult process,” said museum director Levinho. “It involved heated internal negotiations among the tribes .. There are lots of fights, lots of discussions.”

The team also faced practical hurdles, such as a flu outbreak near the beginning of a 2008 project that closed indigenous lands to outsiders, and threats of violence from farmers trying to drive indigenous people from their lands.

Despite the difficulties, UNESCO’s director general, Irina Bokova, said the project was a success during a recent trip to Rio de Janeiro.

Still, Levinho says he has little hope of making much of a dent in linguists’ prognosis that dozens of native Brazilian languages could become extinct within 20 years.

“I don’t see much changing this picture,” said Levinho. “We’d need to see a big investment . to grapple with the problem.”

For Yamalui Kuikuro, of the Kuikuro people from the central Mato Grosso state, where soy, cotton, corn and cattle have begun to replace forests, the disappearance of an indigenous language marks the beginning of the tribe’s end.

“When we lose our language, we no longer have any value, no longer have any identity,” said Kuikuro, his forehead glistening with red paint. “Language is the identity of indigenous peoples.”
Source 

 

“A united people will never be defeated!” shouted Maria Betânia Mota, as the indigenous assembly in a partially burned-out agricultural college began. Hundreds of voices roared back in approval.

Betânia Mota is the women’s secretary of its organisers, the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR), which represents the majority of those living in the 1.7m hectares of savannah and scrub that make up the Raposa Serra do Sol reserve in Brazil’s northernmost state.

It is home to 25,000 indigenous people who raise tens of thousands of cattle and crops on smallholdings and communal farms. Nearly half of Roraima is protected indigenous land.

Brazil’s 1988 constitution prohibits commercial farming and mining on indigenous reserves without specific congressional approval, but Brazil’s new hard-right president, Jair Bolsonaro – who has described indigenous people as “like animals in zoos” – wants to change that. He has singled out Raposa for its reserves of gold, copper, molybdenum, bauxite and diamonds.

“It’s the richest area in the world. You can explore it rationally beside the indigenous, giving royalties and integrating the indigenous to society,” he said in December. Brazil’s national mining agency has 97 requests, some dating back to 1980, to prospect in the reserve.

Bolsonaro has also said reserves such as this contain niobium, a versatile metal used to strengthen steel he believes could transform the Brazilian economy. The government’s geological service said it had no record of niobium in Raposa.


The indigenous people at the assembly already felt threatened by Bolsonaro’s rhetoric. Some communities remember the devastation caused by artisanal gold miners called garimpeiros, others the domination by powerful rice farmers. Then in January, a sudden, ill-explained visit by regional Bolsonaro allies raised suspicions that plans were already afoot.

“We are not fighting the farmer, a little garimpeiro. We are fighting the government,” Edinho de Souza, the CIR’s vice-coordinator from the Macuxi tribe, told the meeting. “We won’t let this land be destroyed.”

Raposa’s history is riddled with strife. In 2004, a Catholic mission was attacked and three padres kidnapped for two days. Paulo Quartiero, a rice farmer who led opposition to the reserve’s creation and later served as a politician and vice-governor, was accused of organising and leading the invasion, but the case has not yet concluded.

A year later, a mob torched a hospital, church and other buildings, most of which are still gutted today. No one was ever convicted. Ten indigenous people were hit by gunfire in 2008. The rice farmers were finally expelled from Raposa Serra do Sol by a supreme court decision in 2009, four years after the reserve was finally created.

Bolsonaro won 71% of the vote in Roraima, but he lost to the leftwing contender Fernando Haddad inside the reserve, where indigenous people are proud of running their own affairs. “Life in Raposa Serra do Sol is better today than before the non-indigenous were removed,” Father Jaime Patias, a Catholic missionary, wrote last May.

The CIR was formed in 1990 but its first meetings date back to the 1970s. Its former lawyer, Joênia de Carvalho, from the Wapishana tribe, has become the first indigenous woman voted into the Brazilian congress. After addressing the assembly, she said Bolsonaro’s threats, while legally difficult to impose, create “juridical insecurity”.

“People who covet indigenous lands and have a certain dispute with indigenous lands start to believe this and start to initiate conflicts,” she said.

The changes brought by Bolsonaro’s election win were the theme of the annual assembly. Local chiefs called tuxaua and other delegates were unimpressed by declarations from him and his conservative allies – who include landowners, military officers and fundamentalist evangelical Christians – about progress and promises to integrate them into Brazilian society. They heard similar arguments during Brazil’s military dictatorship between 1964 and 1985 as it forcibly developed the Amazon.

“We are here to fight to the last indigenous person, be it verbally or physically,” said Julio da Silva, 18, a Wapishana community security guard.

Representatives from five tribes and 200 communities had travelled far to be here, bouncing down dirt roads to sling their hammocks between trees, in dormitories and on verandas. They queued patiently for communal meals and debated their final resolution late into the night, voting phrase by phrase as it was projected on to a wall from a laptop.

“The land is our mother. You plant, you take from her, you use her but you respect her, taking care of her,” she said, adding that white people “don’t respect our nature”.

The school trains indigenous students in sustainable agriculture, said its coordinator Bleide de Souza, 36, a Macuxi, at the site of Quartiero’s former farm. Rice farming had compressed the earth and cleared bushes and trees. Pesticides decimated wildlife. “As we only do organic farming, we can’t farm here,” he said.

Raposa’s borders with Venezuela and Guyana and its mineral wealth give it strategic importance. Bolsonaro accused the “first world” in 2015 of using the UNto turn reserves such as Raposa into independent nations.

Orlando da Silva, 73, a Macuxi leader from the indigenous community of Uiramutã, rubbished such concerns. “We are original Brazilians, no one put us here,” he said.

When he was made chief at 19, his community just a few kilometres from the Guyana border was overrun with garimpeiros. He banned alcohol and parties where white farmers’ sons danced with indigenous girls but their daughters were not permitted to dance with men of the tribe.

He voiced his concerns over a hastily arranged visit his community received from a group of Bolsonaro supporters including a missionary with connections to Damares Alves, the evangelical pastor who heads the ministry which now houses Brazil’s indigenous agency, Funai.
Source

Wildlife poachers in Kenya will face the death penalty, the country’s tourism and wildlife minister has reportedly announced.

Najib Balala warned the tough new measure would be fast-tracked into law.

Existing deterrents against killing wild animals in the east African nation are insufficient, Mr Balala said, according to China’s Xinhua news agency.

So in an effort to conserve Kenya’s wildlife populations, poachers will reportedly face capital punishment once the new law is passed. Kenya is home to a wide variety of treasured species in national parks and reserves, including lions, black rhinos, ostriches, hippos, buffalos, giraffe and zebra.

Last year in the country 69 elephants – out of a population of 34,000 - and nine rhinos – from a population of under 1,000 - were killed.

“We have in place the Wildlife Conservation Act that was enacted in 2013 and which fetches offenders a life sentence or a fine of US$200,000,” Mr Balala reportedly said. “However, this has not been deterrence enough to curb poaching, hence the proposed stiffer sentence."


The move could put Kenya in conflict with the UN, which opposes the death penalty for all crimes worldwide.

UN General Assembly resolutions have called for a phasing-out of capital punishment, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights advocates its universal abolition. Kenya’s tourism chiefs say poaching has been on a downward trend largely thanks to enhanced wildlife law-enforcement efforts and investment in conservation.

“These efforts led to an 85 per cent reduction in rhino poaching and a 78 per cent reduction in elephant poaching, respectively, in 2017 compared to when poaching was at its peak in 2013 and 2012 respectively,” the ministry said.

Nevertheless, earlier this month two black rhinos and a calf were poached at Meru national park.


And the losses are still extremely high, virtually cancelling out the overall population’s growth rate, according to the Save the Rhino organisation. The charity points out many other African nations also suffer high rates of poaching.

The report of plans for capital punishment prompted sharply diverging reactions, with some social-media users applauding Kenya and calling it “fantastic news”, and others insisting it should never happen.

Some said authorities should go after kingpin traffickers rather than the “smallest animals in the criminal food chain”.

For years, many people angry at high levels of poaching, linked with lucrative organised crime, have called for the death sentence as a deterrent.

Gangs sell elephant tusks for ivory in the far East, where it is turned into trinkets; rhino horn is believed by some wealthy buyers there to serve as a medicine – even though it is made of keratin, the same substance as human fingernails, so has no health-giving properties.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, reposted the Xinhua report, saying “#SeriousAboutWildlifeCrime”.

Richard Vigne, head of Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy that was home to Sudan, the world’s last male northern rhino which was put down in March, said the animal would be remembered for ever as a signal to the world. While Kenya was a global leader in conservation, there arestill many species across the planet that faced a similar plight, he said.

"During March we celebrate Women’s History Month, honoring the enormous contributions Cherokee women have made throughout our history." said Principal Chief Bill John Baker

"From Isabel Cobb, the first female physician in Indian Territory, to Mary Golda Ross, a NASA aerospace engineer who helped America win the space race, Cherokee women have been at the forefront of defining our success. In 1851, we opened the first institute of higher education for women west of the Mississippi River. The Cherokee National Female Seminary's curriculum was academically challenging, reflecting our tribe’s vision of strong, educated women." announced Bill John Baker

Isabel Cobb, the first woman physician in Indian Territory, was the oldest of seven children of Joseph Benson and Evaline Clingan Cobb.

Born near Morgantown, Tennessee, on October 25, 1858, Cobb attended school in Cleveland, Tennessee, until 1870. Her family then moved to the Cooweescoowee District in the Cherokee Nation, settling about five miles southeast of present Wagoner, Oklahoma. She attended Cherokee Female Seminary in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and graduated in 1879.

Continuing her education at Glendale Female College in Glendale, Ohio, she graduated in 1881 and returned to teach at the seminary from 1882 until it burned in 1887. She then entered Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1888 and received the M.D. degree in 1892.

Following a six-month internship in New York at Staten Island Nursery and Child's Hospital, Cobb returned home in 1893 to practice medicine in rural Wagoner County. Working from a farmhouse on the family homestead, she practiced only within the neighboring areas, rarely seeing more than two hundred patients per year.


Known as "Dr. Belle," she primarily cared for women and children. She often performed surgery in the patient's home and did not always collect money for her services. In 1930 she broke her hip and subsequently retired from active practice.

A Presbyterian and a Republican, Cobb belonged to a number of Wagoner County literary societies. She never married but adopted a six-year-old Italian orphan in 1895. She died in Wagoner on August 11, 1947.
By Principal Chief Bill John Baker Cherokee Nation

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