Donate

PBS NewsHour

Why did Cecil the lion die? What you should know about trophy hunting

A girl holds a sign at the doorway of River Bluff Dental clinic in protest against the killing of a famous lion in Zimbabwe,
         Bloomington, Minnesota, July 29, 2015. The lion’s death at the hands of a Minnesota dentist has brought attention to the practice
         of trophy hunting. Photo by Eric Miller/Reuters

A girl holds a sign at the doorway of River Bluff Dental clinic in protest against the killing of a famous lion in Zimbabwe, Bloomington, Minnesota, July 29, 2015. The lion’s death at the hands of a Minnesota dentist has brought attention to the practice of trophy hunting. Photo by Eric Miller/Reuters

The killing of a beloved African lion named Cecil earlier this month has prompted outcry, spurred senators to propose an amendment to the Endangered Species Act and caused the government of Zimbabwe — where Cecil was shot — to call for the extradition of the Minnesota dentist who killed the lion.

The story has prompted contentious debate between opponents of trophy hunting, who call the practice barbaric, and its supporters, who defend it as an ancient sport whose fans included Teddy Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway.

But what exactly is trophy hunting, is it legal, and why do proponents say the practice helps conservation efforts? Here’s what you should know.

Francois Cloete poses in front of an Impala that he shot at the Iwamanzi Game Reserve in the North West Province, June
         6, 2015. Africa's big game hunting industry helps protect endangered species, according to its advocates. Opponents say it
         threatens wildlife. Now a mooted change in regulations in the United States could affect the number of foreigners who come
         to Africa to hunt big game, damaging the industry and possibly hurting wildlife. Picture taken June 6, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe
         Sibeko  - RTX1G43K

Francois Cloete poses in front of an Impala that he shot at the Iwamanzi Game Reserve in the North West Province, June 6, 2015. Photo by Siphiwe Sibeko/ Reuters

What is trophy hunting?

Trophy hunting is the sport of hunting wild game, generally with the intent to collect “trophies” — either an entire carcass, or body parts like the head, hide and legs — which are then taxidermied.

Hunters pay hefty sums for the chance to hunt some big game animals. Walter Palmer, the hunter who killed Cecil, reportedly paid around $50,000 for the privilege. Last year, the Dallas Safari Club auctioned off a coveted permit to kill a critically endangered black rhino to the tune of $350,000.

These high prices generally pay for hunting guides, supplies and hunting permits. Hunters usually need permission from the government of the country concerned and a permit from The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international treaty that regulates the wild animal trade, allowing hunters to transport animal remains back to their home countries.

A trophy of a wild animal is seen at the taxidermy studio in Pretoria, February 12, 2015. Africa's big game hunting industry
         helps protect endangered species, according to its advocates. Opponents say it threatens wildlife. Now a mooted change in
         regulations in the United States could affect the number of foreigners who come to Africa to hunt big game, damaging the industry
         and possibly hurting wildlife. Picture taken February 12, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko  - RTX1G444

A trophy of a wild animal is seen at the taxidermy studio in Pretoria, February 12, 2015. Photo by Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

African animals popular with trophy hunters include relatively scarce game like lions, rhinoceroses, leopards and elephants, as well as species that aren’t threatened, like warthogs and springbok.

According to IFAW, a major conservation charity, Americans account for about half of the roughly 5,600 lion carcasses traded internationally for trophy hunting in the past decade.

Is it legal?

Trophy hunting is, by definition, legal. National governments often regulate the types of animals that may be hunted, where they can be hunted and the types of weapon that may be used in doing so. International agreements like CITES also apply.

Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably by people opposed to hunting, trophy hunting is distinct from poaching, which refers to the illegal hunting of animals, often for the sake of harvesting valuable body parts like rhino horns or elephants tusks.

While the terms are distinct, there are times when trophy hunting crosses the line into poaching, as may have happened in Cecil’s case.

Palmer had the proper permits to hunt a lion, but he and his guides reportedly lured Cecil outside the boundaries of the protected Hwange National Park in order to shoot him, an action the government of Zimbabwe has described as illegal.

In a July 28 statement, Palmer said he had thought the hunt was conducted in accordance with local laws, that he had been unaware that Cecil was famous or beloved, and that he regretted killing the lion.

Workers prepare animal skins in front of animal trophies at the taxidermy studio in Pretoria,February 12, 2015. Africa's
         big game hunting industry helps protect endangered species, according to its advocates. Opponents say it threatens wildlife.
         Now a moot change in regulations in the United States could affect the number of foreigners who come to Africa to hunt big
         game, damaging the industry and possibly hurting wildlife. Picture taken February 12, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko - RTX1G43C

Workers prepare animal skins in front of animal trophies at the taxidermy studio in Pretoria,February 12, 2015. Photo by Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Can trophy hunting help conservation efforts?

Trophy hunters often justify the practice by arguing that much of the money they spend on hunts goes to help conserve and study animals, and to benefit local communities.

Unsurprisingly, answers to the question of whether trophy hunting contributes substantively to animal conservation are often highly politicized.

A 2006 study examining the preferences of 150 hunters who either had hunted in Africa or planned to do so found that they “were generally unwilling to hunt under conditions whereby conservation issues were compromised,” including areas where hunting quotas were intentionally exceeded.

86 percent of hunters interviewed said they would prefer to hunt in an area if they knew a proportion of the proceeds would go to local communities, and nearly half indicated they would pay an equivalent price for a less desirable trophy that came from a problem animal that would have had to be killed regardless.

These numbers may be affected by the fact that responses were self-reported, meaning hunters may have tried to portray themselves in a flattering light.

Professional hunter CEO of PHASA (Professional hunters association of South Africa), Adri Kitshoff, takes aim during
         a hunt for game at the Iwamanzi Game Reserve in Koster, in the North West Province, June 6, 2015. Africa's big game hunting
         industry helps protect endangered species, according to its advocates. Opponents say it threatens wildlife. Now a mooted change
         in regulations in the United States could affect the number of foreigners who come to Africa to hunt big game, damaging the
         industry and possibly hurting wildlife. Picture taken June 6, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko  - RTX1G43M

Professional hunter Adri Kitshoff takes aim during a hunt for game at the Iwamanzi Game Reserve in Koster, in the North West Province of South Africa, June 6, 2015. Photo by Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Conservation organizations are mixed on whether or not there can be net benefits to trophy hunting.

A 2009 study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, for instance, stated that:

Regarding conservation, big game hunting shows mixed results. Some areas are geographically stable, and wildlife populations are significant, but this is not the norm. Large disparities are seen between areas. Where management  levels  are  similar,  the  conservation  results  from  big  game  hunting  are  lower  than  those of neighboring national parks or reserves. Hunting areas are less resistant to external pressures than national parks, and thus will play a lesser role in future conservation strategies. An undeniable positive result is that the conservation results that are obtained are entirely financed by the hunters, without support from donors and often without government commitment

In response to a TIME story, Dr. Rosie Cooney of IUCN told the magazine:

I’m afraid while it would be nice to be able to recommend alternative approaches for conservation that don’t involve killing animals (even those that will no longer contribute to population growth), we view trophy hunting as playing an important and generally effective role in conservation over large areas of Africa in particular, with important local livelihood benefits in some contexts, such as in Namibia.

The U.K.-based charity Save the Rhinos offers a qualified endorsement of the practice:

In an ideal world rhinos wouldn’t be under such extreme threat and there would be no need for trophy hunting. However, the reality is that rhino conservation is incredibly expensive and there are huge pressures for land and protective measures; field programs that use trophy hunting as a conservation tool, can use funds raised to provide a real difference for the protection of rhino populations.

A report by the group Economists at Large found that trophy hunting did little to enrich the communities where hunting takes place.

that hunting companies contribute only 3% of their revenue to communities living in hunting areas. The vast majority of their expenditure does not accrue to local people and businesses, but to firms, government agencies and individuals located internationally or in national capitals … expenditure accruing to government agencies rarely reaches local communities due to corruption and other spending requirements

What do you think about trophy hunting? Sound off in the comments below.

The post Why did Cecil the lion die? What you should know about trophy hunting appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

How long-lasting is promising Ebola vaccine protection?

A nurse holds a syringe containing an experimental Ebola virus vaccine during
         a media visit at the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) in Lausanne November 4, 2014. A trial is being conducted with a vaccine
         from GlaxoSmithKline among 120 healthy volunteers with support from the World Health Organization (WHO). The participants
         will be monitored for six months to determine both the safety and efficiency of the vaccine in the fight against the worst
         outbreak of Ebola on record which has killed nearly 5,000 people.   REUTERS/Denis Balibouse (SWITZERLAND  - Tags: HEALTH SCIENCE
         TECHNOLOGY)   - RTR4CSBP

Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now a potentially exciting development in the search for an Ebola vaccine, and to Hari Sreenivasan.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Results of a clinical trial conducted in the West African country of Guinea and published today in the medical journal “Lancet” found an experimental vaccine was 75 percent to 100 percent effective in blocking new infections of the Ebola virus.

The trial involved more than 7,000 people, over 3,500 of whom were vaccinated. Guinea is one of three West African countries that marked the epicenter of the 2014 Ebola outbreak that killed more than 10,000 people.

For more on efforts to create a vaccine and on this trial, I am joined by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

So, you have got — there are several different companies and people working on vaccines, including a member of your team, but today we hear words like game-changer, you know, these are significant results. Why was this so important?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, National Institutes of Health: Well, it’s significant because of the outcome of the trial. It showed rather impressive results.

Now, it was done under very difficult circumstances, so that’s really very important. It was done right during the intensity of the outbreak itself. And the data that have been released today show that the results are really quite favorable. There is still a lot of work to be done to determine, in fact, if this protection against Ebola is durable, mainly that it can last for several months, because we certainly would like to have this available for future outbreaks.

And, inevitably, there will be future outbreaks of Ebola. So this is an important step in our armamentarium of preventing Ebola infection, in addition to the public health measures that you do to prevent infection.

HARI SREENIVASAN: But what did they do? How did they figure out that this is effective?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, it was a very interesting design to the study.

It’s called a ring vaccination study, ring meaning you create a ring around an index case of when someone gets infected, and you vaccinate the contacts of that person and the contacts of the contacts. But the thing about the ring study is that it was randomized, so when they identified a case of Ebola, they had two rings, one in which got vaccinated immediately, and one which got vaccinated 21 days afterward.

And then they compared the number of infections in those who were vaccinated immediately vs. those who had a delay of 21 days, and the results were rather impressive, because the number of Ebola infections in the people who were vaccinated immediately was zero, and the number of infections for those who had vaccination on a delayed basis was 17.

Now, relatively speaking, this is an interim analysis of results, but it’s still rather impressive. Now we’re going to have to look at the details of the data to really delve into what it means. But having said that, it’s important that the results came out this way.

HARI SREENIVASAN: This is — you alluded to this earlier. This is in the middle of an epidemic. This isn’t our kind of definition of a gold standard of a clinical trial, where you give some people medicine and some people a placebo, because I would imagine it’s almost unethical to not give someone a medication when you see people dying within days of having the virus.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, I wouldn’t say it’s unethical. But it’s difficult to do in situations like that.

But if you don’t know what works, and you do a controlled trial, then you get informed consent about how you’re going to do the trial, and then it really is quite ethical. So — but I think that this design was an interesting, novel design. It’s fashioned after the design of how we approached smallpox and the elimination of smallpox.

It was a creative design that was done under difficult circumstances.

HARI SREENIVASAN: When people think of vaccines, they also think of things that actually have the virus in it. Did this vaccine have Ebola in it?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: No, it didn’t. It had a protein of Ebola.

So let me explain what it is. A virus was used called vesicular stomatitis virus, which is a virus that infects animals. It rarely infects humans. And what the virus was is, you took one gene of Ebola and inserted it into this other virus, and then injected this other virus into the vaccine recipients.

Once it got in them, it started making the Ebola protein, so none of the individuals got the Ebola virus itself. They got the protein of Ebola that was given to them through this vector or this carrier virus.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Dr. Anthony Fauci from the National Institutes of Health, thanks so much for joining us.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Good to be with you.

The post How long-lasting is promising Ebola vaccine protection? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

First-ever Ebola vaccine shows ‘promise’ — now what?

The World Health Organization ran clinical trials for an Ebola virus vaccine in Guinea. The storage devices shown here
         use jet fuel to keep the vaccines at a temperature of minus 60 degrees Celsius. Photo by S. Hawkey/WHO

The World Health Organization ran clinical trials for an Ebola virus vaccine in Guinea. The storage devices shown here use jet fuel to keep the vaccines at a temperature of minus 60 degrees Celsius. Photo by S. Hawkey/WHO

A vaccine for the Ebola virus – the first of its kind in the disease’s 40-year recorded history – shows promise in trials in Guinea, according to a report released Friday in the medical journal Lancet.

“It could be a game-changer, because previously there was nothing against Ebola,” Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, assistant director-general for health systems and innovation at the World Health Organization, told reporters in Geneva. It’s “promising” but results still need to be confirmed by the scientific community, she said.

Doctors Without Borders, which helped run the trials in Guinea, called it a “breakthrough.”

“Too many people have been dying from this extremely deadly disease, and it has been very frustrating for healthcare workers to feel so powerless against it. More data is needed to tell us how efficacious this preventive tool actually is, but this is a unique breakthrough,” the group’s Medical Director Bertrand Draguez said in a statement.

An all-out search for a vaccine was launched after a widespread Ebola outbreak hit West Africa. The disease, which surged in the spring of 2014 primarily in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, has infected about 27,800 people and killed 11,300, according to the World Health Organization’s latest figures.

The new vaccine, called VSV-EBOV, was first discovered by the public health agency of Canada. Drug manufacturer Merck has acquired the rights to develop it.

In trials that started in Guinea in March 2015, the vaccine was tested in “rings” of people in contact with those infected with Ebola, Kieny said.

Some rings of people were vaccinated immediately. Other rings of contacts were vaccinated three weeks later, and the results of both groups were compared.

In the rings that were vaccinated immediately, none of the 2,014 people in the trial developed the disease after 10 days of being vaccinated.

Of the 2,380 people in the control group — those who had the delayed vaccine — 16 developed Ebola.

The vaccine appears to be so effective that WHO is going to stop delaying the vaccinations, as it was doing in the control groups, and will start vaccinating children and young adults in light of the new data, Kieny said.

The vaccine still needs to be registered, which will take a few weeks or months, but the hope is the vaccine will be stockpiled and ready to use the next time there is an Ebola outbreak, she said. “Not if, when, there will be a new outbreak, because there is no doubt there will be new outbreaks.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, describes the significance of the findings on Friday’s PBS NewsHour.

The post First-ever Ebola vaccine shows ‘promise’ — now what? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Watch: 1,000 musicians in Italy request a visit from Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl accepts

There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.

One thousand singers, drummers and guitarists in Cesena, Italy, gathered in a field to play the Foo Fighters’ “Learn to Fly,” in a large-scale musical request for the band to come play for them. The project took over a year to organize.

In the video, organizer Fabio Zaffagnini asks Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, Nate Mendel, Taylor Hawkins and Chris Shiflett to make the trip to Italy for their superfans. “Italy is a country where dreams cannot easily come true,” Zaffagnini said. “But it’s a land of passion and creativity.”

Dave Grohl and the rest of the band accepted the invitation.

The video has been viewed over 6 million times since it was posted to YouTube one day ago.

The post Watch: 1,000 musicians in Italy request a visit from Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl accepts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

BBC News

Suicide attack hits Turkish troops

Two Turkish security troops have died and 24 wounded in a suicide attack by Kurdish PKK militants, according to the regional governor's office.

'Second plane part' found on Reunion

More plane wreckage washes up on Reunion Island, after a wing part - possibly from missing flight MH370 - was found last week.

New doping claims 'very alarming'

The World Anti-Doping Agency is "very alarmed" after fresh allegations of suspected doping emerge in a leak of test data.

Myanmar flood death toll 'to rise'

The death toll from floods in Myanmar, that have hit 156,000 people, is expected to rise over the coming days, the United Nations warns.