About Oceans2Earth

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Oceans2Earth strives to assist with local solutions to global problems. O2E was founded in Melbourne, Australia in 2010 for the purpose of providing resources and financial assistance to animal welfare and conservation projects including elephant sanctuary land in Kenya, cat and dog rescue in Africa and community recycled product projects in Asia and Africa. The O2E Foundation aims to facilitate people’s awareness of the impacts of animal tourism, trade and human intervention on the welfare, sustainability and general health of wildlife populations.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

It's the Eye of the Tiger today aka let's ready about tigers!

Siberian Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica)

As the largest cat in the world, the Siberian tiger averages about 3.3 m (11 ft.) in length, with a tail measuring 1 m (3 ft.). Adult male tigers can weigh up to 320 kg (700 lb.), while female tigers are significantly smaller, weighing up to 180 kg (400 lb.).

Siberian tigers are distinguishable by their striped fur. Similar to people's unique fingerprints, no two tigers have the same striped pattern. Siberian tigers differ from other tigers because they have fewer, paler stripes, and they also have manes. The mane, in addition to their thick fur, helps keep them warm.

There are only 400-500 Siberian tigers left in the world, and they are considered endangered by IUCN's Red List. One cause of their dwindling population is loss of habitat due to deforestation. In addition, Siberian tigers are poached, or illegally hunted, for their fur and for body parts that are used for traditional medicines.

Efforts have been made to curb poaching of tigers and to protect tiger habitats. Many countries, including the United States, have created laws that outlaw the importation and selling of tiger parts. There are also breeding programs to help sustain the tiger population.

For more wildlife projects visit.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The extinction of a species - watching it happen

Costa Rica
Wow! What a stunning sight. The sunset in the distance, the interesting black sand and all those beautiful turtles. There are so many of them. It's an incredible scenic picture to behold. 

Our world is an amazing place. Images and memories like this one above need to a cherished and remembered. It won't always be like this. Yep - sorry but I'm putting a downer on the tranquility settling into your mind as you watch this picturesque moment.


Woo there.....what's this? Family day? Picnic?

This is Costa Rica. Current Day.
Turtle egg poaching is a family affair. 
A coming together to "harvest" the eggs and sell them off.

Once they are gone...they are gone.

Make smart choices. Be informed. 
Know where your food comes from. 
Understand how products are made. 
Say NO.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Nations in uproar as China rejects closure of tiger farms

The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation reports that the recent meeting of officials at the 62nd Meeting of the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) resulted in an uproar when China rejected the call for the closure of tiger farms and asked for "evidence that tiger farms encourage poaching of wild tigers".

Although China banned the trade of all tiger parts in 1993, the illegal trade continues and large-scale commercial breeding of tigers is booming with over 5,000 tigers in 20 farms in China. Huh?

Tiger farms breed tigers to farm body parts.
The UK (representing the EU) and India pushed for countries to report on the phasing out of tiger farms and their stocks of tiger products. This was eagerly debated with the final decision agreeing that countries with intensive tiger breeding operations must report on the number of tigers and tiger farms. They must also declare the stockpiles of captive-bred or confiscated tiger parts and propose an action on how these will be secured or destroyed.

The Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) Secretariat reported on all the positive actions taking place to save wild tigers, but closed with an alert to CITES Parties over the “mushrooming” of tiger farms, not just in China but across SouthEast Asia.

India followed up, expressing once more its concern over the lack of reporting on action to phase out tiger farms and over the growing stocks of tiger skins, bones and carcasses that are piling up in freezers on tiger farms. It pointed out that CITES adopted a Decision way back in 2007 (14.69) calling for an end to tiger farming but there has been inadequate reporting on progress.

It asked the CITES meeting to agree a deadline by which Parties must report on actions taken to end farming, and actions to be taken to “consolidate and destroy” stockpiles. India went on to make it clear that CITES must be prepared to address non-compliance in this regard. It was time to get tough.

China was quick off the mark to claim that illegal trade has been well controlled in it country in recent years, that it doesn’t allow trade in tiger bone for medicinal purposes (no mention of its legal skin trade!), that it hasn’t seen any evidence of trade from farmed tigers, and is not aware of tiger farms affecting wild tiger conservation.

Egypt called for demand reduction campaigns that would make the use of tiger parts unfashionable, the USA supported the idea of performance indicators tied to compliance measures and Israel urged CITES to take whatever steps were necessary to ensure Decision 14.69 to phase out tiger farms is implemented.

The wild indian tiger - as it should be!

After two days of debate and even an emotional Chinese outburst, the Notification to CITES Parties (member countries) to be circulated will request:

1. that all Parties with intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale fully implement Decision 14.69 in respect of the number of breeding operations and also the total number of tigers, and
2. all Parties to declare stockpiles of captive-bred or confiscated tiger body parts and derivatives along with actions proposed to “deal with” (originally it said “consolidate and destroy”) the stockpiles (originally said “the same”).


Over 122,000 supporters of the BAN TIGER TRADE campaign have now put their names to the petition, urging the Chinese government to END the trade in tiger parts.

We need to see is a ban on ALL trade of ALL tiger parts from ANY source with a ZERO tolerance policy.

If you haven't already, sign the petition at www.bantigertrade.com.

The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation relies heavily on our donations which are used to fund undercover operations and to send Debbie Banks (Evironmental Investigation Agency) to the CITES convention to put pressure on the Chinese government. Please help us continue to keep these investigations and our tiger protection programmes running by donating here.

Tiger Tracks is being organised by Save Wild Tigers and will be hosted by St Pancras International rail station, in London, from March 1-21, 2013.

The event will benefit EIA and Born Free Foundation, with a mission to raise awareness of the critical plight of the wild tiger and to generate funds to support global yet targeted tiger conservation programmes throughout tiger range countries through promotions, music, entertainment and much more. See you in London!

Thank you to The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and Debbie Banks of EIA for reports.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Indonesia's Shame

Shame Shame Shame Indonesia!

The rainforest is being felled for Palm Oil and other crops at an overwhelming rate with the remaining forest being degraded by drought and forest fires. Extinction of orangutans in the wild is likely in the next 10 years for Sumatran Orangutans and soon after for Bornean Orangutans.

Orangtuans are 97% genetically identical to humans. Orangutans are highly intelligent animals. Their intelligence is comparable to that of a five or six year old child. The blatant hunting and torture of these animals is absolutely abhorrent. Companies incentivise plantation owners and workers for productivity. Removing the "nusiance" orangutans is an ongoing and unobstructed activity. Government and corporate corruption know no bounds when the almighty dollar is at stake.

And what drives these shameful actions? Us.

We eat food and use products every day made from palm oil and its derivitives. The majority are unknowing - trusting that the world's corporations are "doing the right thing" by us. Some folks even subscribe to the "survival of the fittest" mentality. It's better us than them. I can't even continue with this thought; it gets me so frustrated and annoyed at the short-sightedness in the world.

Protecting the orangutan also protects the surrounding ecosystem and myriad of endangered and exotic species. Saving the orangutan saves the forest.

So sadly, the fight to save the orangutans goes on.

On 15th April 2012 we posted this video by Carlos Quiles. Saving Leuser, Tripa.

Recently, Australian Orangtuan Project Victorian State Representative Amber Partington visited Tripa. Here we share her story and her plea. Yes it's an Australian perspective but the message is global.

"On June 6th, I recently visited Sumatra, in particular an area called Tripa Peat Swamp Forest. Words cannot describe the devastion of what Jess and I witnessed.

Tripa Peat Swamp Forest

Three weeks prior, forest stood right where I am standing in this photo. Canals have gone in draining swamp, killing trees. Large hardwood trees, logged and sold. Rest of forest burnt. Palm Oil plantations planted where forest once stood. Local people kicked off land, threatened with their lives if they talk. All protected land under Indonesian law. MAJOR corruption = MAJOR problem.

As Australia (and other parts of the world) does NOT import Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO), [this has a direct effect], forest is destroyed, local people displaced and many animal lives lost. [Goodman Fielder is one of Australia's largest companies and the largest importer of Palm Oil. Their products including Meadow Lea margarine includes Palm Oil.]

Therefore we are asking Goodman Fielder to make a public commitment to use Certified Sustainable Palm Oil in their products by 2015.

It would mean the world to me if you could add your name to this important issue. Every name that is added builds momentum around the campaign. And hopefully, more likely for us to get the change we want to see. (Blog note: Hey! It worked for KFC changing to canola oil - we can do it!)


After you've signed the petition please also take a moment to share it with others."

Amber Partington
Victorian State Representative
orangutan.org.au| facebook.com/australianorangutanproject | twitter.com/ausorangutan

For you to appreciate these amazing great apes even more, here's a couple of videos.

1 - Shawn Thompson is a writer passionate about orangutans. His book The imtimate Ape is a must read. In preparation for his second book, Shawn heads back to the orangs. There's some funny bits in this and whilst it is a bit warm and fuzzy, it's a tear jerker for me!

2  - Ami (Borneo tour guide) and Jana join forces for this cute song celebrating not only orangs but the primates of Borneo. Stunning video footage shows those fun loving macques dive bombing into the river and gibbons leaping great distances, and a gorgeous orangutan stealing pen and paper and using them!

This video clearly demonstrates how much humans are encroaching upon wildlife habitat and how encounters are more and more common. The chorus repeats a bit but by the end of the 4 minutes I was singing along.

These videos and more can be found on our youtube channel right here

If these tasters haven't got you sold on these amazing creatures, perhaps a ONCE IN A LIFETIME TRIP will do it.



5th - 14th November 2012

See orangutans up close and personal the way they should be seen - in the jungles of Sumatra, and make a personal difference by directly contributing to the organisations helping to save the red ape from extinction.

Under the auspices of eco tourism group, Orangutan Odysseys, raising funds for the Australiam Orangutan Project, who in turn support the local NGO, the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, you will be guided through jungles, on an exclusive expedition led by two men who know orangutans and this location like few others in the whole wide world; Leif Cocks, one of Australia's foremost authorities on orangutans and the other guide, the most respected orangutan rescuer in Indonesia.

You will have to fight me for a space I think!

Please contact the Australian Orangutan Project directly:
Amber Partington
Victorian State Representative



The impact of the Palm Oil industry in Indonesia spills over. Read Celine's article posted June 17th 2012.

Southeast Asian Haze: Who’s To Blame?

By Celine Fernandez  WALL STREET JOURNAL

Just when it seemed safe to take a deep breath in Southeast Asia, the smoky haze that envelops the region each year is wafting up from Indonesian forests again.

Increasingly, though, experts aren’t just blaming Indonesians, who in the past have been accused of recklessly burning forest land on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan to make way for palm oil plantations – a practice that produces the smoke that then drifts northward over Singapore and Malaysia. Indonesian authorities have typically said they are doing their best to police the problem, which is hard to do given the country’s vast size and limited enforcement resources.

The question is whether other actors are fanning the flames, says Anthony Tan, executive director of the Centre for Environment, Technology & Development, Malaysia (CETDEM).

 “The haze comes from Sumatra and Kalimanthan. Which companies own the estates? Malaysian and Singaporean as well as local plantation owners,” he said. As a result, “Malaysian and Singaporean companies in Indonesia also have to bear the responsibility of open burning, of slashing and burning, that is happening within their estate territories.”

Moreover, he added, “it is the respective governments’ responsibility to take them to task. Just because they operate in a foreign country, they can’t wash their hands and say it does not affect us” when it actually does.

The issue is flaring up again because the smoke, which tends to appear at least once a year, is intensifying again.

According to Malaysia’s Department of Environment, satellite images show the number of “hotspots” producing smoke in Sumatra increased to 122 on June 13 from 67 the day before. The image also showed haze drifting from Riau in central Sumatra en route towards the west coast of peninsular Malaysia. Satellite images released by the Asean Specialized Meteorological Centre on June 18 June showed hotspots in Sumatra had risen further to 310 from 163 the previous day.

The sun rises through a thick haze over the skyline of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on June 17.

Malaysia’s DOE also said that on the morning of June 15th, air quality readings in three areas reached an unhealthy level of 131. Air quality readings improved by Monday, June 18.

In Malaysia, at least, authorities agree that it’s not entirely Indonesia’s fault, and they say they are doing what they can to help alleviate the situation, including reducing burning within Malaysia’s own borders. The DOE has imposed a temporary ban on open burning in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor except for religious purposes and barbecues with a fine up to RM500,000 or imprisonment of up to five years or both.

Still, “from the trend of hotspots monitored through satellite imagery, it has always and clearly shown that most of the hotspots originated from Indonesia and (then) the smoke plumes trespass the neighboring countries,” a DOE official said in a written response.

That doesn’t necessarily address the issue of Malaysian companies operating in Indonesia, though. According to Indonesia’s embassy in Kuala Lumpur, as much as 25% of the palm oil plantations in the archipelago nation are owned by Malaysian companies. This is largely because scarcity of land in Malaysia has forced big plantation companies there to expand abroad.

Many of Malaysia’s biggest palm oil companies, including Sime Darby Bhd., IOI Corp. Bhd. and Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd., are members of the Roundtable On Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which is dedicated to making palm oil production more environmentally-friendly, and which has a zero burning policy. Its members must be certified by RSPO as responsible producers. Moreover, many analysts say they doubt many of the biggest companies would want to engage in burning because it could be too detrimental to their reputations.

But last year, the London based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and its Indonesian partner Telapak said they had documentary proof that KLK subsidiary PT Menteng Jaya Sawit Perdana was burning land. KLK denied the accusations. In a statement, plantation director Roy Lim said “KLK has long abandoned using fire to clear land for new planting or replanting. Our policy and practice is zero burning for such activities.”

Whatever the case, Indonesian officials say it’s hard to police an industry that covers so much terrain and they suspect some other producers might be burning land, or buying land from farmers who burn the trees themselves.

“Of course we don’t know who does it,” said Suryana Sastradiredja, an Information, Social and Cultural Affairs Minister-Counselor at the Indonesian embassy in Kuala Lumpur. But it’s hardly surprising some land owners would want to set fires, he says. After all, “burning is the traditional method – the cheapest way to open new land.”

Sunday, 24 June 2012

LA Zoo's Elephant Exhibit Goes on Trial

After winding its way through the courts for five years, a taxpayer lawsuit against the Los Angeles Zoo regarding its controversial $42 million elephant exhibit has finally gone to trial. The lawsuit, filed by attorney David Casselman, seeks to stop the display of elephants in a small, inadequate exhibit that does not meet their needs. The zoo currently holds a male elephant Billy, and females Tina and Jewel, on little more than two acres of useable space.

Billy - one of three elephants in captivity at LA Zoo

Filed in 2007, the suit alleges ongoing illegal, damaging and wasteful actions by the zoo, including construction of an exhibit that does not provide the large space and natural conditions elephants need for health and well-being. The plaintiffs charge that inadequate conditions perpetuate captivity-caused foot and joint diseases that kill elephants prematurely, and that the risk of abusive handling practices still exists.

Witnesses in the trial include world-renowned elephant researcher Dr. Joyce Poole, wildlife veterinarians Dr. Mel Richardson and Dr. Phil Ensley, Emory University neuroscientist Dr. Lori Marino, Born Free Foundation CEO Will Travers, and The Elephant Sanctuary CEO Rob Atkinson. IDA Elephant Campaign Director Catherine Doyle, who has been fighting for the elephants at the Los Angeles Zoo since 2003, was also called to testify.

Tina & Jewel at LA Zoo. With little more more than 2 acres,
LA Zoo does not provide a usable, natural space for the elephants

The trial is attracting media attention and is sure to open the eyes of the public to the outdated practice of confining elephants in unnatural zoo exhibits that lead to terrible suffering and premature death. A win in the lawsuit would set a precedent that could send shockwaves through the zoo industry. The trial is expected to last through the week.

In Defence of Animals (IDA) has been fighting for elephants confined in inadequate zoo displays that cause them to suffer and die prematurely as well as those who are chained and beaten in circuses. They have a Hall of Shame for zoos exploiting elephants in the USA. Sadly there are many.You can support IDA's Elephant Protection Fund here

Article thanks to IDA

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

IPads for Apes?

With the unfortunate predicament and sad necessity for captive animals comes our responsibility to provide them with the most natural way of life possible. Even progressive zoos are acknowledging that a concrete box is no place for an animal.

At the RSPCA Scientific Conference 2007 research presentation ‘How much space does an elephant need? The impact of confinement on animal welfare’ by John L. Barnett, Animal Welfare Science Centre, Primary Industries Research Victoria, Australia the following statement was made;
Nevertheless, impacts of confinement can include behavioural changes/stereotypes (Lawrence and Terlouw, 1993), rebound behaviours (Cronin et al., 2003), behaviours indicative of frustration (Ekstrand and Keeling, 1994) and changes in time budgets (Kobelt et al., 2006) and acute and chronic
stress and associated physiological changes in immune function, health, metabolism,
nitrogen balance and growth and reproduction.”
We completely abhor the captivity of animals however often rescues cannot be rehabilitated and returned to the wild. That should not forfeit their lives however they deserve the best care we can give them. Enrichment is imperative. We have witnessed many ingenious gadgets and activities that help to give those captives a chance to use their bodies and brains. And so it seems technology has taken hold even in this. Read on…..

Providing enrichment for the orangs

Orangutans across the world may soon join the ranks of millions of humans as proud owners of new iPads. As strange as that may sound, a conservation group is testing its "Apps for Apes" program, allowing orangutans to communicate with each other remotely via the iPad's video chat technology.

Orangutan Outreach founder Richard Zimmerman says has iPads have already been donated to zoos in Milwaukee, Atlanta and Florida. A board member of the Houston Zoo also recently donated an iPad. More of the tablets will soon be sent to the Memphis Zoo, the Center for Great Apes in Florida and to the Toronto Zoo. Orangutans are considered to be amongst the most intelligent of primates, making them a good case study for the interactive technology.

"It's not a gimmick," Zimmerman told Yahoo News in a phone interview Tuesday. "If they don't want to do it, they won't. There are actual measurable benefits."

Zimmerman said that orangutans in zoos and other primate facilities usually receive all the food and love they need. However, during winter months they are forced to spend long periods of time indoors, which is counter to their natural habitat. And living indoors for extended periods of time can result in boredom and stunt social growth among other primates.

"They need stimulation, especially indoors," Zimmerman tells Yahoo News. "The zoo keepers can see the benefit from this sort of enrichment. We're doing this as enrichment as opposed to research. But researchers are getting involved, that's just not our jurisdiction."

Scientists and layman alike have long speculated on ways to better indoctrinate primates and other animals with human technology. Dolphins have already demonstrated an ability to interact with iPad technology with researchers using it as a language interaction device between dolphins and humans. There are even several iPad games made specifically for cats.

But even more interesting possibilities present themselves once a number of zoos have their orangutans acclimated to using the iPads. Zimmerman said he hopes they will be able to use Skype or the iPad's FaceTime feature to communicate remotely with orangutans at other zoos during "play dates." Zimmerman said he recently visited Jahe, an orangutan at the Memphis Zoo who used to live at the Toronto Zoo. When Zimmerman showed Jahe a photo on his iPhone of some of her relatives still living in Toronto, she appeared to recognize them.

"Given an opportunity to demonstrate that intelligence, it's pretty amazing," Zimmerman tells Yahoo News.

The biggest obstacle for now is coming up with the funding to purchase more iPads. Orangutan Outreach refuses to use its funds on the tablets, saying its priorities must be toward conservation and helping to rescue orangutans that are victims of violence in the wild.

Zimmerman said so far he has been unable to reach Apple directly about any possible donations for the project. "I could get them to the zoos tomorrow," Zimmerman said, if Apple were to make such a donation. "Our Plan B has been to hopefully get their attention through this effort."

When the tire swing or the rope hammock no longer entice, what’s a bored orangutan to do? Reach for the iPad, because there’s an app for that ape.

The Toronto Zoo is at “the top of the list’’ to get a donated iPad from Orangutan Outreach, a conservation group spearheading an Apps for Apes program.

Founder and director Richard Zimmerman said he has been watching the Milwaukee Zoo’s iPad program involving its three orangutans, which started last year, and is extending Apps for Apes to other zoos.

“It’s incredibly exciting,’’ he said.

In Milwaukee, a keeper holds an iPad through a mesh screen while the primates have fun manipulating a painting app with their fingers.

Zimmerman, whose charitable group raises funds for orphaned and rescued orangutans in their native Malaysia and Indonesia, and promotes awareness of orangutan conservation issues, said the painting program stimulates the primates, who get bored in captivity.

“Orangutans like to paint and they’re capable of using this digital device,” he said, adding “there’s no paint to eat.’’

Zimmerman has been in touch with the Toronto Zoo about sending an iPad once more devices are donated. “We wish it could go faster.’’

(Funds donated to Orangutan Outreach only go to its overseas programs.)

A Toronto Zoo spokeswoman said it’s trying to get donated iPads for the orangutan enrichment initiative. Staff have been working with York University animal behaviour expert Suzanne MacDonald to line up suitable primate-friendly apps.

“They have performed a couple of trials with iPhones, and there is response from the orangutans,’’ said the zoo’s Katie Gray.

Zimmerman is about to send an iPad to the Centre for Great Apes in Florida, and has already sent them to Atlanta. The Memphis Zoo is on his list but he doesn’t have one yet.

Once a number of zoos have iPads, Zimmerman hopes orangutans can get to “know each other’’ via a video chat app. He has no doubt orangutans can recognize other orangutans when they see their images.

At the Memphis Zoo recently, he visited an orangutan named Jahe, who used to live at the Toronto Zoo with her mother, Puppe, and brother, Budi.

Zimmerman showed Jahe, who’s about 12 years old, a photo of Puppe and Bude on his iPhone.

Jahe “was very close to her mother and her brother, they had a very strong relationship. She recognized them,’’ said Zimmerman. “Unscientifically speaking, they show recognition the same as we do — their eyes light up. She really demonstrated recognition.’’

Volunteer Australia

The Orangutan Outreach is massive in the orangutan conservation arena.

Orangutan Outreach's mission is to protect orangutans in their native habitat while providing care for orphaned and displaced orangutans until they can be returned to their natural environment. We seek to raise and promote public awareness of orangutan conservation issues by collaborating with partner organizations around the world.

Richard Zimmerman is the Founding Director of Orangutan Outreach, a New York-based non-profit organisation whose mission is to save the critically endangered orangutans and protect their rainforest home.

The organization quickly began to thrive thanks to an affiliation with the Animal Planet series Orangutan Island. With little more than his Mac, his iPhone and his will to save orangutans by working with like-minded groups and individuals around the world, Richard has raised over a million dollars for orangutan conservation and made a real difference in the lives of orangutans. He has expanded Orangutan Outreach to work with an increasing number of partners and is now working with the UK-base International Animal Rescue (IAR) to build a new state-of-the-art orangutan rescue and rehabilitation center in Ketapang, West Kalimantan.


If you'd like to make a direct donation to Orangutan Outreach, you can do so here. Toronto Zoo orangutans may get iPad.

Information sourced for this blog from:
Orangutan Outreach
Yahoo News
Toronto’ Star.com

Monday, 23 April 2012

Breeding program saving wild cats

At O2E we generally don't support breeding programs. It's such a controversial topic. We have seen projects that breed for bushmeat or commercial trade. We have also seenprograms that breed with all good intention only to find they have no resources or habitat to release into. Subsequently these animals live in captivity their entire lives, requiring constant care and attention. Some may say, 'well at least they are not extinct'. Is that good enough? To my mind, it's kind of like a living museum....or dare I say...a zoo, albeit without the kids and ice cream.

This article makes me think a little harder about the subject.

In April 2011, three young cats from the world’s most endangered species have been released into the wild in Spain from a captive breeding program at the La Olivilla breeding centre in Juan .
The Iberian lynx, once widespread across Spain and Portugal, were down to just 150 by 2005 — there were 4,000 in 1960. Scientists were forced to take drastic action and captured many from the wild population and put them in a captive breeding program.

Volunteer australia

Miguel Simon, director of the Lynx LIFE project, said:
“The situation was really dramatic: there were only two populations left in the wild. In order to preserve this species, we had to create a captive population in case the wild population became extinct.”

The Lynx LIFE team admits that radical intervention like this is a last resort. But if it works, these cats could be the first of many to roam free once again.

If the lynx went extinct it would be the first cat extinction (that we know of) since that of the saber-toothed cat at the end of the ice age.

"The cat’s decline was down to habitat loss, poisoning, road casualties, feral dogs and poaching. Its habitat loss is due mainly to infrastructure improvement, urban and resort development and tree monocultivation, which serves to break the lynx’s distribution area. It has also suffered the loss of its main food source: rabbits, which were wiped out by disease.

That breeding program has proved successful and there are now around 100 cats bred at the centre.
Concurrently, work to protect the habitat in Jaen and the Donana National Park in Andalucia,over the past decade has commenced and the wild population is now believed to be up to 300.

Dr Simon said: "The Iberian lynx is a key species in the Mediterranean ecosystem. It is a top predator, and if we preserve this species, we are preserving the whole ecosystem."

"It is our heritage, and we have to preserve it for future generations."

The Spanish Environment Ministry, Fundación CBD Hábitat and Ecologistas en Acción, supports the work of Lynx LIFE and together they have implemented a range of important projects including lynx supplementary feeding, habitat improvement, rabbit repopulations and awareness campaigns with the local human population.

The three lynx were released in early April into a protected area in Sierra Morena, a hilly, forested region, packed with shade for the cats to sleep in when the sun becomes unbearably hot — and it has plenty of rabbits.
Radio collars will help researchers monitor the released lynx

The cats received a careful pre-release check-up to ensure they are in good health then they were fitted with radio collars, allowing the conservationists to track their every move.

As the cats were released, they were a little confused at first, unsure of their new surroundings.
But after tentatively taking a few steps, they bound into the wild, ready to explore their new home.

Dr Lopez said: "Just a few years ago, everything seemed so difficult, and now we are approaching the successful conservation of the species."

A total of 15 releases have taken place this year, and if new wild populations begin to establish, more and more of the captive cats will be introduced to the wild.

When you are looking to support an animal program, do your research. Do they have a breeding program? What happens to the captive bred population?

Information by Paul Canning and BBC News
Paul Canning is a long-standing LGBT and human rights activist and the Editor of LGBT Asylum News. He contributes to a number of other publications, including Care 2 Make A Difference.