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Wikramanayake E.,World Wildlife Fund | Dinerstein E.,World Wildlife Fund | Seidensticker J.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute | Lumpkin S.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute | And 16 more authors.
Conservation Letters | Year: 2011

In an unprecedented response to the rapid decline in wild tiger populations, the Heads of Government of the 13 tiger range countries endorsed the St. Petersburg Declaration in November 2010, pledging to double the wild tiger population. We conducted a landscape analysis of tiger habitat to determine if a recovery of such magnitude is possible. The reserves in 20 priority tiger landscapes can potentially support >10,000 tigers, almost thrice the current estimate. However, most core reserves where tigers breed are small and land-use change in rapidly developing Asia threatens to increase reserve and population isolation. Maintaining population viability and resilience will depend upon a landscape approach to manage tigers as metapopulations. Thus, both site-level protection and landscape-scale interventions to secure habitat corridors are simultaneous imperatives. Co-benefits, such as payment schemes for carbon and other ecosystem services, should be employed as strategies to mainstream landscape conservation in tiger habitat into development processes. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Mikota S.K.,Elephant Care International | Gairhe K.,Chitwan National Park | Giri K.,Government of Nepal | Hamilton K.,University of Minnesota | And 10 more authors.
European Journal of Wildlife Research | Year: 2015

A comprehensive elephant tuberculosis (TB) survey using culture and four serological screening tests was conducted in Nepal in response to concern raised by wildlife officials that TB could threaten wild populations of elephants, rhinos, and other susceptible species. Captive elephants come into close contact with wild animals during conservation and tourism activities inside Nepal’s national parks. Private and government-owned male and female captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) were included in the study. The mean reported age was 38 years (range 5–60 years). A total of 289 samples from 120 elephants were collected for mycobacterial culture. Culture samples were processed at the National Tuberculosis Centre (NTC) in Nepal and the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, IA. Acid-fast organisms were observed in 11 and 21 samples processed at NTC and NVSL, respectively, and nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTMs) were isolated from six elephants. There were no isolations of Mycobacterium tuberculosis or Mycobacterium bovis. Blood samples were also collected from 115 of the elephants for serological testing using the Chembio ElephantTB STAT-PAK®, the Chembio MultiAntigen Print Immunoassay test, a multi-antigen ELISA, and an immunoblot assay. Culture and serological results were variable and required careful interpretation to develop criteria to assess TB risk. Elephants were assigned to one of four disease risk groups (high, moderate, low, and undetermined), and management recommendations for each group were made to government authorities. Serological results were prioritized in developing recommendations because of culture limitations and inconclusive culture results. This strategy was based on evidence for the early predictive value of serological tests and the urgent need expressed by wildlife authorities in Nepal to protect their captive elephants, mitigate TB at the captive-wild interface, and safeguard tourism. © 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Lyashchenko K.P.,Chembio Diagnostic Systems, Inc. | Greenwald R.,Chembio Diagnostic Systems, Inc. | Esfandiari J.,Chembio Diagnostic Systems, Inc. | Mikota S.,Elephant Care International | And 7 more authors.
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology | Year: 2012

Three serologic methods for antibody detection in elephant tuberculosis (TB), the multiantigen print immunoassay (MAPIA), ElephantTB STAT-PAK kit, and DPP VetTB test, were evaluated using serial serum samples from 14 captive elephants infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis in 5 countries. In all cases, serological testing was performed prior to the diagnosis of TB by mycobacterial culture of trunk wash or tissue samples collected at necropsy. All elephants produced antibody responses to M. tuberculosis antigens, with 13/14 recognizing ESAT-6 and/or CFP10 proteins. The findings supported the high serodiagnostic test accuracy in detecting infections months to years before M. tuberculosis could be isolated from elephants. The MAPIA and/or DPP VetTB assay demonstrated the potential for monitoring antimycobacterial therapy and predicting TB relapse in treated elephants when continuously used in the posttreatment period. History of exposure to TB and past treatment information should be taken into consideration for proper interpretation of the antibody test results. Data suggest that the more frequent trunk wash culture testing of seropositive elephants may enhance the efficiency of the TB diagnostic algorithm, leading to earlier treatment with improved outcomes. Copyright © 2012, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

Kafey H.,University of Missouri | Kafey H.,Nepal Nature Foundation | Gompper M.E.,University of Missouri | Spinelli F.,221 W | And 2 more authors.
Wildlife Biology in Practice | Year: 2014

Many scientists and conservation workers agree that global tiger numbers in key areas could double by 2022 if efforts are taken immediately. Countries facing declining tiger numbers and having the ability to meet this goal have produced national tiger recovery plans that outline necessary program activities and their associated costs. To assess the financial feasibility of the tiger conservation program in Nepal and to recommend viable alternatives to secure funds to cover long-term tiger conservation costs, we conducted financial analyses of tiger conservation programs in Nepal. Our results show that the present funding level fails to cover the long-term costs of taking the recommended steps for tiger conservation. Thus there is a need to identify and secure alternative funding sources to supply approximately a 100% increase in revenues currently generated from tiger-bearing protected areas assuming a continuance of the current level of funding by the government. This finding is troublesome given the magnitude of the financial burden associated with necessary steps to increase the tiger population, plus the fact that no policy instrument exists that can target the revenue generated by the protected areas specifically for tiger conservation. To achieve financial sustainability of the tiger conservation program, alternative financial mechanisms warrant serious consideration. One alternative institutional mechanism could be a tiger conservation trust fund that would be entrusted to secure a wide range of financing from domestic and international sources to ensure financial sustainability of the Nepal’s tiger conservation program. © 2014 H. Kafey, M.E. Gompper, F. Spinelli, K.L. Poudel, B.P. Thapaliya.

News Article | August 22, 2016
Site: www.scientificamerican.com

It’s a little batty how little we know about the world’s bats. Oh, sure, the bats in the U.S. and some other countries have been fairly well studied. That’s because they actually need to be the subject of a lot of research. Not only do the famously flying mammals also provide an estimated $3.7 billion worth of insect control for farms in the U.S. alone, many of them are also dying from the fungal infection known as white-nose syndrome. Millions of dollars have been earmarked for studying that problem and looking for solutions. But how are the rest of the world’s bat species faring? Oddly enough, we don’t know all that much. According to numbers crunched by Jessica Welch, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Tennessee, the conservation status of 28 percent of the world’s known bat species is not currently understood. Nearly 200 species are currently listed as “data deficient.” Another 166 have never been evaluated for their extinction risk. Even worse, we also don’t know the population trends for nearly half of the world’s 1,296 bat species in order to understand if their numbers are climbing or shrinking. That, combined with the lack of other data on so many species, means that many bats could be at risk of extinction without anyone being the wiser. Welch came to this realization when compiling data from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species for another project. “I noticed that there is relatively little information on bat extinction risk, given that we know so little about bat population trends and sizes,” she says. “For example, there are over 10,000 recognized bird species, with just 812 having an unknown population trend. For bats, 635 species have an unknown population trend.” Now, going out in the field to try to collect population trend data for 635 species is a slightly insurmountable task. Welsh and her co-author Jeremy Beaulieu wondered if they could figure out which of these species were at risk using other methods. They decided to look at the information that we already know in order to calculate which bat species might be threatened by extinction. Luckily, previous research had helped to identify several risk factors for bat species—including geographic range, whether or not they live on islands, and how many litters they have per year. With that in hand, Welch and Beaulieu created a set of mathematical models and began to crunch the numbers. The results? The researchers found that six data deficient bats have a high risk of extinction, while ten species were what they called “of high interest.” They also calculated that many of the bats currently on the IUCN Red List may have higher or lower extinction risks than their current assessments. One of the species that came out as being the most at risk typifies their results, although it also wasn’t much of a surprise given how little we know about it. Eptesicus dimissus, a rare bat species from Thailand and Nepal, has only been observed by science one or two times since it was first documented in Royal Chitwan National Park. The IUCN assesses the species as “data deficient.” Welch and Beaulieu calculate that it is at high risk of extinction. “How can we know so little about a mammal that occurs in a national park,” Welch asks. “The reason this bat is considered endangered according to our model is that its predicted range is only 13 square kilometers! The could be an underestimate since we know so little about the bat, but until more field data on its distribution can be collected, it is important that this bat be protected where it is known to occur.” That’s actually the next phase of her research: looking at the published data for every bat species to help prioritize which ones need more scientific data and, as a result, identify which parts of the world researchers should focus their efforts. Once that’s done, maybe some of that missing bat information can finally start to be filled in.

Landolfi J.A.,Loyola University | Mikota S.K.,Elephant Care International | Chosy J.,Lincoln Park Zoo | Lyashchenko K.P.,Chembio Diagnostic Systems, Inc. | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2010

Mycobacterium spp. infection is an important health concern for Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) populations worldwide. The disease is of particular concern considering its potential to affect not only the individual animal but also herd and public health. Although elephant tuberculosis susceptibility is poorly understood, immune function alterations are central to disease pathogenesis in other species and probably affect outcome of mycobacterial infections in elephants. Measurement of immune mediator (cytokine) levels within blood samples can provide information regarding immune function that may elucidate disease susceptibility. For this study, mRNA levels of interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, IL-10, and IL-12; interferon (IFN)-γ; tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α; and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β were measured using elephant-specific, real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays in RNA-preserved whole blood samples from 106 Asian elephants, 15 of which were Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex seropositive. The Elephant TB STAT-PAK® (Chembio Diagnostics, Inc., Medford, New York 11763, USA), a novel lateral flow antibody detection assay developed for specific use in elephants, was used to determine serologic status for the study. Seropositive animals had higher levels of TNF-α and lower levels of TGF-β than seronegative animals; these differences between groups were statistically significant when levels were analyzed as categorical variables. Trends toward higher levels of IFN-γ and IL-4 and slightly lower levels of IL-10 and IL-12 were noted in the seropositive group, although differences between groups were not statistically significant. Presence of other inflammatory conditions was found to be a significant confounding variable in the analysis of the relationship between tuberculosis status and TNF-α levels, necessitating its inclusion in statistical models. Age and sex were not found to significantly affect the relationship between tuberculosis status and any of the cytokines measured. Interleukin-2 levels were below the sensitivity of the real-time RT-PCR assay irrespective of tuberculosis status. These findings provide a foundation for future research into the immunopathogenesis of elephant tuberculosis. Copyright 2010 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.

News Article | September 7, 2016
Site: phys.org

Rhino poaching carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail and a 100,000-rupee ($1,000) fine in Nepal, which is now home to over 600 rhinos A one-horned rhino has died weeks after it was shot by poachers in Nepal, becoming the first of the rare animals to be killed in the country in over two years. The injured adult male was taken to the Chitwan National Park, the country's biggest rhino conservation area, for treatment after it was shot in a forest in southern Nepal in August. But on Wednesday staff at the park said it had died of its injuries, becoming the first rhino to die at the hands of poachers since May 2014. "The critically injured rhino had started to recover, but died Tuesday," said assistant conservationist Nurendra Aryal. Conservation groups had praised the Himalayan nation for its progress in combatting the poachers who kill the animals for their prized horns. Thousands of one-horned rhinos once roamed the plains of Nepal, but their numbers have plunged over the past century due to poaching and human encroachment of their habitat. The animals' horns are prized in China and parts of southeast Asia for their supposed medicinal qualities. Rhino poaching carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail and a 100,000-rupee ($1,000) fine in Nepal, which is now home to over 600 rhinos. Madhav Khadka, manager at WWF's wildlife trade monitoring department, said the death showed Nepal needed to improve security outside its national parks, where forest rangers guard against poaching.

News Article | December 28, 2016
Site: marketersmedia.com

A new report has been launched focusing on the best places to visit in Nepal for those looking to visit on vacation or when sightseeing or travelling. Known for its mountain views, mischievous monkeys, temples, and opportunities for popular activities, it offers something for everything, but ensuring that the best bits are not missed requires prior planning. More information can be found at: https://saranepal.org/favorite-5-places-to-visit-in-nepal. The report explains that Nepal is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with a number of attractions for people to enjoy, including the natural beauty of the surrounding area, the culture and the tradition. It is a popular location all year round, and even the locals like to travel around the different places on offer. Whether travellers are visiting on their own, with friends or family, or journeying with colleagues, the top five places provided in the report will offer something for everyone to enjoy. They include natural and manmade attractions, and each has a full description showing what is available when people go to visit. The first place to visit in the new report is Annapurna Base Camp, which is described as brilliant for anyone who loves trekking, especially near mountains. One of the most beautiful places in Nepal, it generally takes between seven and twelve days to complete the full trek. Tilicho Lake is another area listed as worth visiting, which is the highest lake in Nepal and lies at a height of nearly 5,000 meters. It is claimed as a holy spot in the Ramayan, and many people are attracted to it every year. Other places featuring in the report include Lumbini, which is famous for being the birthplace of Lord Buddha, and offers monasteries, monuments and museums to visit. In addition to this, travellers can go to Chitwan National Park, Pokhara, and other attractive spots like Fewa Lake, Sarangkot, and Peace Pagoda. The full list features photos of each location, helping visitors to pick and choose the areas they most want to travel to. For more information, please visit https://saranepal.org/favorite-5-places-to-visit-in-nepal

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