Normally, I find watching Jeff Corwin a little too hyper--he's clearly a guy who loves animals, on the side of the angels, and all--but he's just so manic that for me, "The Jeff Corwin Experience" = exhaustion. So I was about to leave Animal Planet for something a little more soporific--the Sunday-morning "hyenas", as Michael Moore calls the McLaughlin Group, or "gasbags", my friend Bob's generic description of any of the talking head programs--when Jeff said something about investigating the illegal wildlife trade in Cambodia. Naturally, I was hooked, as that ties together my previous life in Southeast Asian studies and my present life in biology, especially sun bears. Jeff showed us a rescued baby sun bear named Bopha, living in a wildlife preserve--terminally cute! Additionally, he accompanied raiders who rescued turtles, cobras, pangolins, and other animals from the restaurants and medicine shops
A good episode, if very disturbing to see the extent of the trade and the loss of animals. The people who go undercover to combat the trade in wildlife for food and medicine are real heroes who risk their lives for this. So I've added a new link to my Animal links on the right: WildAid. Please check out their site, and if you like what they're doing, supporting them.
There are some serious ethical, cultural, and political issues here about protecting wildlife in such a poor country, and the International Snow Leopard Trust--another new link, by the way, and one certainly worthy of support--has some innovative ways of synthesizing animal protection and concern for the humans in the community. Definitely worth blogging about soon.