One of the most persistent (and pointless) threats to certain endangered animals is a popular belief that some part of the animal is an aphrodisiac, or will solve erectile dysfunction.
An article in Grist makes an interesting point about this: we now have pharmaceuticals like Viagra, which actually do improve erectile function. If these drugs were more accessible to people in countries where men traditionally use animal-based nostrums, they could reduce the market for rhinoceros horn and other non-cures for sexual woes.
The implication is clear. If we want to save black bears and rhinos, we have to get these drugs into the hands of the people who would otherwise be paying for those animals' parts or doing the hunting for themselves.I have a couple of qualms about this idea, but my immediate concerns about poaching and extinction tend to override them. The spread of generic potency drugs to countries that now rely on ingredients from poached animals could be very good news for a number of endangered animals. And if I were in the pharmaceutical industry, I'd be thinking very seriously about the PR possibilities.
In other wildlife conservation news, Save the Elephants has come up with a GPS-based tracking system for endangered elephant populations. Amoing other things, the system allows researchers to track migration patterns:
Our elephant tracking has already shown that there are certain crucial corridors that need to be left open so that elephants can reach their feeding grounds. We can identify precisely the location of several of these. Keeping them open should help to avoid conflict with people and reduce habitat destruction from confined elephants.STE intends to adapt its tags for other endangered species. Meanwhile, in New York, researchers using satellite telemetry have learned that "common loons from the Adirondacks spend their winter months along the coasts of Cape Cod, Long Island Sound, and New Jersey." Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk of Space for Species explains why this is so important:
From Earth, it's often hard to tell where these wayfarers are going or where they're coming from. From space, with the help of advanced technology, we can locate the breeding grounds, migratory pathways, and winter homes of a wide range of species, many of which are rare or endangered. We can gather data required to protect them or even save them from extinction and learn which regions and countries need to participate in their conservation.