Ranil & the “Save the Pokies” Fund

Photo of Poecilotheria sp discovered by Ranil

There has been some speculation around our mission with Ranil P. Nanayakkara and the “Save the Pokies” GoFundMe. I am happy to post this information, to give the public further understanding and hopefully garnish further acceptance of the GoFundMe. This is all the information I could think of and compile regarding Ranil and the GoFundMe. If you have any further questions, PLEASE feel free to reach out to me personally to ask anything. I will do my very best to answer questions and provide any documentation I can get my hands on. (Contact info at the end of this blog.) Please have a look at each attachment and link.

Ranil has been acknowledged through awards such as the NRC (National Research Council), Sri Lanka,  Merit Award for Scientific Publication in 2014 and the Oscar & Jan Francke Student Research Award, International Society of Archeology in March 2018. More information about Ranil’s research is available on his ResearchGate.net profile. Below are some links to scientific papers that Ranil has published (dating back as far as 2011), just to show that he is heavily involved in mygalomorph research and has been for some years now. Ranil is not just a marine biologist, as I have heard people claim. The next edition of the British Tarantula Society will include more of Ranil’s work, and there are other species that Ranil shared with us recently that have yet to be described. Please check out these links to get a better understanding of Ranil’s contributions to arachnid science.

Below you will also find attached a picture of the contract to buy the land, both in Sinhala and English; included in the same document is receipt documentation from the landowner receiving the money, that was sent to Ranil. Next is the screen shots of the receipt of me sending it to Ranil – three transactions in all, totaling just over $4000. Please notice that I sent every penny; The TKC paid the fees. Next is screenshots of what the GoFundMe has force-withdrawn to me so far.

I believe that I misspoke somewhere and I cannot find it to correct myself. If we do not raise all of the money, the landowner has agreed to allow a partial purchase of the land. Although I cannot bring myself to be satisfied with anything less than everything, it is a relief to know that this won’t be all for nothing if we do not reach the entire goal. We have until June 15, 2019 to raise another $10,000. If we cannot reach our goal, Ranil will secure whatever percentage of land he has paid for. We will keep our supporters up to date on this effort.

If you review these documents and links and still have questions about Ranil or our efforts to help him purchase land in Sri Lanka, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me on Facebook or via email. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Links:

Discovery of the Critically Endangered Tarantula Species of the Genus Poecilotheria (Poecilotheria hanumavilasumica)

Courtship Behavior of Smith’s Tiger Spider (Poecilotheria smithi)

Some Notes on Ground Dwelling Mygalomorph Araneae Spiders of Sri Lanka

Tiger Spider of Sri Lanka

A New Species of Tiger Spider Genus Poecilotheria from Northern Sri Lanka

The Range Extension of the Critically Endangered Poecilotheria smithi in Sri Lanka with Notes on it’s Sociality

An Introduction to Common Spiders of Sri Lanka (a book distributed to Sri Lanka locals to educate them on their local arachnids and their importance in the ecosystem.)

A New Species of Tiger Spider from Sri Lanka  (Poecilotheria rajaei)

Current Distribution of Tiger Spiders Genus Poecilotheria, in Select Sites in Sri Lanka

The Taxonomy and Conservation Status of the Spiders Arachnida Araneae in Sri Lanka

Hitherto Unrecorded Species of Poecilotheria Tarantula from Sri Lanka

See also: Ranil’s Plea to the Tarantula Keepers Coalition’s Supporters

Attachments:
Original Land Contract
Original Land Contract

Land Contract Translated

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TKC Withdrawals
TKC Withdrawals

Ranil’s Message to TKC Supporters

TKC logo

 

A message from our biologist partner in Sri Lanka; to our wonderful supporters and any concerned individuals

Ranil's Message
Ranil’s Message to TKC Supporters

Please take a moment to consider what our friend is asking of us. If we can raise $7000 by the end of this month (we’re already over $1500!), and the other $7000 by May 20, we can help Ranil secure this land. Imagine a trip to Sri Lanka in 2023 to tour the research station and spend a few days out in the field with Ranil, observing these new species he has discovered. If we help him secure this land, it’s very likely that that could happen.

Report: A Study in Sri Lanka

Poecilotheria ornata

“Hey. Do you want to write a blog?”

When I saw the message from fellow TKC director Amy Salinas come through, I knew she was about to tell me something great. I immediately said yes without knowing what I was agreeing to. I was excited to receive the email she had forwarded to me. We had received a report from our biologist friend in Sri Lanka, Ranil P. Nanayakkara. Ranil has been working hard in the field and we are happy to share some of his findings with you.

Previously there has not been much effort to understand spider diversity in Sri Lanka. Species descriptions from Sri Lanka are centuries old and were done using museum specimens therefore there isn’t much information about the ecological system.  Ranil and his colleagues set out to better understand the diversity, population, ecology and threats to spiders in Sri Lanka. The goal of this study aspires to form baseline data for future research and to identify spiders which are endangered. Ranil and his colleagues also intend on popularizing mygalomorphs and creating awareness locally about the benefits of spiders in the ecosystem.

The Tarantula Keepers Coalition is proud to be working with Ranil and BEAR (University of Kelaniya / Biodiversity Education And Research). We hope that you find this report as interesting and exciting as we do. And we hope that after reading this, perhaps you will considering donating to our  “Save the Pokies” GoFundMe  to help us assist Ranil in his work and preservation of land.

The GoFundMe is about the Sri Lankan pokies but it’s also about so much more! If we can raise the funds goal of $14,000, we can help Ranil purchase the land he has been studying. This fifteen (15) acres of land is at risk of being cleared very soon. If this small but imperative piece of land is lost, we will never meet the species that Ranil and his colleagues have found in the lowland wet zone of Sri Lanka. Ranil’s research will be irrelevant for a location that ceases to exist.

Here I will briefly summarize the report that Ranil’s submitted to the Tarantula Keepers Coalition. I will also attach the report for anyone who cares to read the original. I urge all keepers to read Ranil’s report. It is extremely interesting and I will not be covering everything he reports on. I have removed locations, as well as photos and maps at Ranil’s request. I would love nothing more than to show you the beautiful spiders that he has found in his studies but Ranil wishes for them to remain a mystery until they are described.

Bio-inventory and Conservation of Mygalomorph Spiders in the Wet Zone of Sri Lanka

Ranil and his colleagues spent more than five-hundred hours surveying and observing locations in the wet zone of Sri Lanka. They collected information on distribution and habitat of different species found in Sri Lanka. A few of the species they observed include: Sason robustum, Indothele lanka, Chilobrachys nitelinus, Plesiophrictus tenuipes, and Poecilotheria ornata, which was the only arboreal species they observed. In addition to these species, our friends recorded several species belonging to Chilobrachys, Plesiophrictus and one species of Poecilotheria. These species are to be described in the near future!

The things Ranil saw…

Spiders were observed in undisturbed locations as well as domesticated locations. Our friends recorded that terrestrial spiders were abundant in the small holder tea plantations, where very little pesticides are used. More females were recorded than males, as females are likely to spend their whole lives in the same burrow unless something happens to cause them to relocate. Males, of course, tend to wander. Ranil and his colleagues suspected that the reports they had received from villagers about spiders venturing in to dwellings were likely to be male specimens. They confirmed two such males.

These terrestrial spiders behaved as expected by displaying a sit-and-wait predatory style. In over 120 hours of focal sampling, just under half (49%) of the spiders’ time was spent sitting at the entrance to their burrows. Just over a quarter (30%) of the time spent completely in their burrows. These spiders were nocturnal and were recorded as being active during the late night/early morning hours. (Interesting observation: the researchers noticed the spiders were less active during full moons! They do feel that more research needs to be done to confirm such findings.) The spiders’ time away from the burrow only accounted for about one-fifth (18%) of the observation. 3% of overall activity was direct feeding observation. Only P. ornata and Indothele species were seen attacking their prey when found within range, and immobilizing it. All other spiders retreated into their burrows after nabbing their prey. 

The threats the spiders face…

Ranil and his colleagues also assessed the spiders’ local threats during this study of the wet zone of Sri Lanka.  The largest threat is, unsurprisingly, human activity. Illegal encroachment by cinnamon and tea growers are threatening local extinction of the spiders since they are not distributed elsewhere. Human developing such as widening of the roads is leaving spiders homeless as the road side banks they prefer are destroyed. What were once large home gardens, plentiful with spiders, are being turned into homes and summer huts as tourism activity increases. Locals often kill spiders they see because they are afraid and do not understand the importance of each and every spider. (Ranil and his team intend to help put an end to villagers killing spiders by providing educational literature to locals so they know what spiders do for their ecosystem.) Much more research is necessary to understand their biology, ecology, and distribution; which will aid in long-term viability of an array of species, which will also be useful in future conservation efforts.

All in all…

World authorities in biological conservation and environment studies have identified the importance of the immediate task of taking inventory of spiders on this planet. Our researchers believe (and we agree!) that spiders, especially mygalomorphs which come from ancient linage, are a crucial part of the structure and function of the many ecosystems of Earth, as they act as biocontrol agents and bioindicators, maintaining the fragile balance. Ranil feels if we lose these ancient species, the whole planet will be overrun by many species of arthropod pests which will destroy crops.

One of my favorite parts of the Ranil’s report….

The closing of Ranil’s report is where I really felt it in my soul. I cannot possibly reword it better than he said himself so I quote:

“The major reason for nature conservation is psychological; the kind of refreshment only the natural environment can give us. The more urban our own day-by-day life becomes, the more crowded our cities, the more tension in everyday life – the greater will be the desire and need to escape to the wilder places that mother nature has given us, where we can gain recreation – re- creation, in the original sense of the word.

“No sooner than later, it is time when we can reserve these natural beauties, there is no other species of taxa in the world that can camouflage themselves or dwell in a tubular dwelling that was developed by them (when it comes to arthropods). Some have even manufactured lids to their dwellings that were constructed utilising the leaf litter from the surrounding environment. Protect nature; protect what Sri Lanka is blessed with. Educate the uneducated and realise what the future holds.”

Please feel free to read all of Ranil’s report below. And if you feel compelled, send a donation, or share Amy’s “Save the Pokies” GoFundMe. We are also holding auctions at The Tarantula Community group this month as we try to reach our goal before April is over.

The Tarantula Keepers Coalition continues to strive to bring you the more current information available as we work towards natural conservation and helping the hobby self-sustain. Stay tuned for blogs about the TKC Population Project, TKC merchandise, updates to our website, a possible TKC expo tour, and lots more!

 

Ranil's Report 1st Page

The TKC US Population Project

TKC logoYou may have heard talk of a project that we are kicking off. We call it the TKC US Population Project and I’m going to tell you a little bit about it. We’re pretty excited!

TKC US Population Project

This idea was born in the Tarantula Keepers Coalition board chat months ago when we were discussing the Sri Lanka Pokie restrictions. Several of the board members have a deep passion for the Poecilotheria genus and had Sri Lankan species breeding projects at the time. We wanted to distribute the spiderlings to other breeders to help ensure they thrive in the United States. Collectively, we decided it would be best to donate the spiderlings to the TKC. We created a program to allow us to ensure the spiderlings we procure be distributed to breeders across the country. We hope to ultimately have at least one breeder in each of the contiguous United States consistently breeding these species.

This project aligns with another project we have in the works, wherein we will be having our stock DNA tested. TKC directors will be paying out-of-pocket to have our Poecilotheria species DNA tested and we will document the whole process.

If the Brazil situation goes as Special Agent Dan Coil suggested (see our interpretation of director Garred Martin’s conversation with Special Agent Coil here), the TKC will also include Brazilian endemics in our US Population Project and do our best to help the United States self-sustain and the species to thrive in the US hobby.

The Breeders

The Tarantula Keepers board of directors will be holding a meeting next week to discuss the email applications we have received. We will then decide who we will be sending spiderlings to. There was an overwhelming response to our Facebook post, receiving more emails than we have spiderlings. We will not be able to send spiderlings to everyone who applied because of this. However, you will remain in our data base for the next time we have Poecilotheria fasciata available. Breeders are responsible for shipping charges. Spiderlings will begin to ship to breeders the 2nd week of April. 

We appreciate the particulation we are seeing in this project. Together, we can keep these species alive and well in the US.

Interested in Donating Spiderlings/Entering a Breeder Contract with the TKC?

If you are a breeder and have Sri Lanken Pokie projects, please keep us in mind when you have spiderlings. The directors intend on donating all our Sri Lanken Poecilotheria spiderlings to the TKC for this project. The TKC is also open to breeding projects so if you have a mature male or mature female of any of the Sri Lanken Poecilotheria and are interested in entering a breeding contract with the TKC, let us know!

Contact us at tkcuspopulationproject@thetkc.org to discuss our program.

 

The TKC Helps Desertas Wolf Spider Project See Goal

 

TKC logo

We are proud to announce that last week we raised enough funds through charity auctions to help bring  PredatororPrey Online and Bristol Zoo Gardens’ Desertas Wolf Spider project to their goal. It didn’t take much convincing from Tom Patterson when he brought up the project at a TKC board meeting. Conservation and land preservation are something that we all care very deeply about. This project was something that Tom has been watching for a few years.

“I had first read about the declining isolated population of Hogna ingens (Desertas Wolf Spider) in a 2015 article of the British Tarantula Society Journal,” Tom explained.  “I’m happy to see Bristol Zoo Gardens ongoing efforts to restore the ecological balance of the Castanheira Valley where this beautiful critically endangered spider is found. It’s great to be able to help fund projects like this through the TKC, and I hope to work on many future conservation efforts moving forward.” Tom spoke for us all when he concluded. “I wish Bristol Zoo Gardens and all other parties involved the best of luck with their work in the on Deserta Grande Island and the future of Hogna ingens.”

A little bit about the Desertas Wolf Spider project, excerpt from Bristol Zoo Gardens’ website

The Desertas wolf spider (Hogna ingens) is endemic to Vale da Castanheira, Desertas Islands, Madeira, Portugal. Despite having an impressive 40mm body size and being the largest known species of wolf spider, very little is known about this species.

Even though some taxonomists have provided redescriptions, every other aspect of this remarkable species has remained unknown until recently. It was assessed as Critically Endangered according to the IUCN (Cardoso 2014) but is not protected by any international, national or regional legislation or agreements.

In the absence of any native terrestrial mammals, this spider is a top predator in its habitat. Although its major prey consists of other invertebrates, such as beetles, woodlice and millipedes, adults have also been seen predating on juvenile lizards. The latter, along with birds and mice, are the major predators of H. ingens, mostly during its juvenile stage. This is when the spider is most vulnerable to predators because in addition to its smaller size, it tends to disperse in order to find new shelters, thus maximizing the likelihood of encounters with potential predators. As spiders grow and find proper shelters, mostly below rocks but also in soil crevices, their inclination to disperse gradually decreases. It takes about two years for spiders to reach maturity.

The small valley where the spider lives is currently mostly covered by Phalaris spp. The colonization of this grass in the Vale da Castanheira was hidden for some years due to the presence of rabbits that grazed and controlled the spread of the plant. With the eradication of rabbits from the Valley in 1996, Phalaris lost its main predator and now proliferates. This grass appears to not only displace many native plants, but also many of the native animals. It covers the surface of the soil and rocks, making the microhabitats below the rocks harder to access for the spiders.

Five year objectives:

– To restore the ecological balance in the Castanheira Valley through reduction of Phalaris density on the assumption that a viable population of spiders will persist across the entire valley
– To analyze the genetic structure of the population, its habitat preferences and the potential consequences of climate change
– To maintain and breed a second spider population at Bristol Zoo Gardens
– To raise awareness of the importance and uniqueness of the spider to visitors at Bristol Zoo Gardens

The TKC often holds auctions for various fundraising endeavors. Each of the board members has very generously donated spiders from our own collections. We have also donated spiders from our shops. The community comes together time and again to raise funds and has shown great support for the TKC.  We will soon be announcing other preservation and conservation efforts that we are working towards. We welcome any suggestions or ideas from our supporters as well. 

To take part in the auctions, supporters are encouraged to join the Facebook group The Tarantula Community

To donate to the cause, click here.

Resources:
Bristol Zoo Gardens Desertas Wolf Spider Project
PredatorOrPrey Online
Photo credit: Emanuele Biggi

TKC Information Update

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE!

To our community of dedicated followers, we cannot thank you enough. The amount of shares and traffic to our website is incredible. Thank you for all the questions you have brought to us. Please keep them coming! Our team works hard to see that no question goes unanswered. It is part of our mission to provide the most accurate, up-to-date information that we have. We believe that transparency is the best policy. Therefore, we believe it is necessary to share with you any information that is presented to us. This information is not intended as guidance for hobbyist, vendors, or importers; but as a tool in making informed decisions.

After our previous press release went live, board member, Garred Martin, was able to get connected via phone call with Special Agent in Charge at United States Fish & Wildlife Services (FWS), Dan Coil. Special Agent Coil, who works in law enforcement policy and analysis, is stationed at the Virginia headquarters. Garred sought clarification of the information that was given to us by the concerned hobbyist (see March 7, 2019 Press Release). Garred advocated to Special Agent Coil the worries of hobbyists, vendors, and importers, and expressed that the community is in need of an official statement from FWS to be made public. Special Agent Coil provided many answers before Garred began asking questions. This has been applied now to all Brazilian imports of flora and fauna and tarantulas were not singled-out, according to Special Agent Coil.

We discovered some discrepancy between the actual law and how FWS intends on enforcing it. Although the information we’ve received has been correct thus far, how the law would be enforced has only been based on opinion and interpretation of the law. Until they release their statement in the next month, FWS employees only have the Lacey Act to go by. They have been accurate in their answers because they have simply sited the the Lacey Act. They have not had answers for us on how they intend on enforcing the law.

“There seem to be some misconceptions.” says Garred. “From the start of this, the TKC has been attempting to form a good relationship with FWS. We are in no way trying to fight them or push any issue. We do not know why, but we do know FWS headquarters sent a request to Brazil for information regarding their tarantula species. Brazil replied that none of their species were ever exported for commercial purpose. As soon as Brazil was willing to put that in writing, FWS had no choice but to enforce importation of ALL Brazilian species. This was all confirmed in my phone conversation with Special Agent Dan Coil. No amount of pushing or fighting it would have changed the chain of events to follow.”

Questions and Answers

Garred was given permission to share the content of the phone call with Special Agent Coil. Special Agent Coil explained that using direct quotes would require a lengthy process of approval and thus delay his ability to answer our urgent questions, although he would agree to release one if we wished to go that route. We were granted permission to paraphrase and give credit to Special Agent Coil. Please note that we have used Special Agent Coil’s real name and station location and are thus not preventing anyone from verifying this reported encounter.



Why are their imports being seized and what measure should importers take?

Answer: From what we understand, species found in Brazil have been seized and are at risk of law enforcement action, as they are in violation of the Lacey Act. Importers should do their due diligence to not import any species endemic to Brazil. Importers should expect to be required to show proof of origin of any species, regardless of its country of origin, if that species can also be found in Brazil.

What about these species that were already legally cleared at port and are in the hobby?  Are they deemed illegal to trade, sell, and keep?

Answer: From what we understand, if FWS legally cleared the animals before this new ruling then it is indeed safe to keep, trade, sell and breed such species without the fear of being prosecuted or worry of committing a crime.

Are we able to get an official outline to send out to the entire hobby?

Answer: FWS has an official bulletin regarding this issue which is currently in review. It is anticipated that the bulletin will be released within one month. . FWS has also offered to have an agent present with the TKC at our first gathering at the Show Me Spiders Tarantula Takeover in April. This will be to answer questions and give insight of the work of FWS and future of our hobby, which we intend to livestream for those of you not able to attend.

More from Garred Martin

“Since this is an all new situation for the tarantula hobby,” explained Garred. “The opinions and advice given by FWS employees have changed over the past several months. None of what we have reported was meant to be taken as the way things are. The things we have reported have simply been what FWS has told members of the TKC, as well as others. The intention of the most recent release, from my understanding, should’ve been to report strictly as opinion and as an example of how FWS are responding to such inquiries.”

“Being as Special Agent Coil works in policy and analysis, I believe this is the most accurate opinion of how things will play out.” Garred continued. “Even still, I was told it would be thirty (30) days before a public announcement is made by FWS and these policies are finalized. That said, it is still possible that things may change between now and when the statement comes out. My understanding of what was said is that from now on, or until something changes, all species found on Brazil will be illegal to import. Species that occur in, but are not endemic to, Brazil will require documentation proving that these species were legally imported from the other country of origin. In other words, if a species is found in Brazil and Uruguay, FWS will require documentation proving that the ancestors originated in Uruguay.”

“The good news is that I was told what’s in is in and that if an endemic Brazilian species came into the country on a legal import and was cleared by FWS or customs, they would not be considered illegal. No one will be coming to people’s houses or businesses, or pursuing legal action against those that own or sell these species. It was my understanding that whether the species were let in because customs or FWS missed them on the import, didn’t check or simply didn’t know the law at that time, they would not be going after the individuals that imported these species. This is great news for the US hobby because if things are written as I was told they will be, we will be able to continue to breed, sell and transfer Brazilian species that have already come into the country.”

“Again, until that public statement is released, we are still not 100% sure.” Martin reminds supporters. “For now, all we can do is wait for the official public announcement and anticipate that what I was told while become the norm. We continue to strive to build a positive, long lasting relationship with FWS so we can work together on common goals. We plan to help implement sensible legislation on conservation that is in the best interest of the hobby as well as the animals in question. I personally am very grateful for Special Agent Coil’s offer to speak with our community, at our event. We look forward to planning this for our supporters.” 

The TKC will continue to provide updates and correspondence from FWS and any other government source we can. We understand that the encounters we report are not always what our supporters wish to hear and are not always found helpful by everyone. As an organization, we decided that it is better to report what correspondence we have as opposed to not reporting our communications at all. We anticipate most of our supporters understand and agree.

Our efforts to receive clarification from FWS and to research legislative options provided us with greater direction as an organization. Thus, we are confident we have much to offer our supporters in terms of offering membership and membership benefits. This will occur in the near future. Additionally, we plan to release a platform that will allow members to voice their opinions collectively. We anticipate these next steps will be the momentum the community needs to modernize the laws that impact our lives.

The Tarantula Keepers Coalition Announces Statement from USFWS Regarding “Contraband” Species within Tarantula Hobby

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tarantula Keepers Coalition

Media Contact

Email: inquiries@thetkc.org

Please see update related to this release: TKC Information Update

Bethpage, NY. (March 5, 2019) The Tarantula Keepers Coalition (TKC), a registered non-profit organization dedicated to representing the interests of U.S. breeders of tarantulas and other arthropods. The organization announced today their recent possession of an official statement from the United States Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS). “This is solid proof that USFWS is backing the opinion we previously announced,” states Garred Martin, one of the TKC directors. “We can now confidently move forward providing guidance to responsible breeders and keepers. The TKC thanks the hobbyist who sought their own answers and brought them to us to share with the community. ”

The law in question, the Lacey Act, requires U.S. citizens to comply with laws enacted in foreign countries, related to flora and fauna endemic to those countries. Brazil has made it known that they have not exported any species of tarantula for commercial purpose therefore all specimens removed from Brazil were done so illegally.

The statement was obtained from a concerned hobbyist who wishes to remain anonymous at this time. An inquiry and multiple follow-ups were made to the FWS regarding the legality of Brazilian species within the United States. The FWS response was as follows:

“Thank you for your inquiry regarding the purchase of Brazilian tarantulas.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s mission is, working with others, to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

The possession and domestic or international trade of illegally imported specimens is prohibited. In addition, any possession or sale of offspring of illegal specimens is also considered illegal.  A specimen that has been traded contrary to foreign government law becomes contraband at the time it enters the jurisdiction of the United States. If such a specimen makes its way into the United States, the individual or business holding or having control of the specimen has no custodial or property rights to the specimen and therefore, no right to possess, transfer, breed or propagate such specimens.

Therefore, the possession, sale or, purchase of Brazilian tarantulas imported contrary to Brazilian government law, or their offspring, is illegal [emphasis by FWS].

Thank you for your cooperation in complying with our regulations that help protect fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats.  Please feel free to respond to this message with any further inquiries that you may have regarding this matter.”

During further follow-up, the FSW stated, “A specimen that has been traded contrary to any foreign government law becomes contraband at the time it enters the jurisdiction of the United States.”

Therefore, if a species is endemic to multiple countries, it is the responsibility of breeders and keepers to confirm it (or its parent) was not taken from a country which prohibits its exportation. The FWS encouraged interested parties to also refer to CITES.

The FWS was asked to provide a list of species to which breeders and consumers could refer to remain lawful. In response, the FWS emphasized that it is the individual breeder and keeper’s responsibility to research the lineage of their own specimens to ensure it is not in violation of the Lacey Act.

Although unable to provide a list, the FWS did agree to officially confirm specific common pet species as “contraband” when specifically asked. Expressly confirmed contraband species were: Bumba cabocla, Acanthoscurria geniculata, Grammostola pulchra, Typhochlaena seladonia, and Cyriocosmus ritae.

The TKC is sensitive to the concern this news may cause to members of the tarantula keeping community. Within the next few weeks, the TKC will roll out a new consumer guide listing all known species that are contraband or could be contraband, according to this FWS guideline. The TKC encourages all supporters to utilize this information when making purchases. Future plans for this consumer guide include reports on the fragility of given species in their native habitats due to pollution and other human-made disasters. The TKC is diligently researching other countries’ exportation laws in order to provide the most comprehensive information to supporters.

Despite USFWS emphasizing that possession of species endemic to Brazil is illegal, they are not recommending the animals be destroyed or forfeited. If a keeper or breeder has one or more species which are subject to Lacey Act violation, the TKC recommends caring for the animal(s) as usual, but do not sell or trade it to anyone at this time.

The Tarantula Keepers Coalition continues to strive towards policy change to expand and protect the capacity of U.S. breeders to lend their expertise in repopulating and conserving these important animals. For more about their work, please visit www.thetkc.org.

 

Beloved Tarantula Breeder Creates GoFundMe to Rescue Undescribed Species of Tarantulas from Land Clearing in Sri Lanka

Bethpage, NY. (February 12, 2019) The Tarantula Keepers Coalition (TKC), a registered non-profit organization dedicated to representing the interests of U.S. breeders and keepers of tarantulas and other arthropods, launched a new fundraiser featuring one of their directors, Amy Salinas. “We are excited to have Amy helm this particular endeavor,” explained one of Amy’s co-directors, Warren van der Biezen. “Amy loves these animals and people in this community love Amy just the same.”

Salinas is perhaps best known for founding what is undoubtedly one of the most helpful and positive tarantula keeping groups on Facebook. It was her love of educating the masses about tarantulas, and the tarantulas themselves, that brought her to first contact biologist Ranil Nanayakkara. Salinas soon learned that Nanayakkara is working fervently to protect several newly discovered and undescribed species of tarantulas, including the Poecilotheria tarantula (or “Pokie”)–a favorite of Salinas. The TKC previously announced their own partnership with Nanayakkara, last month.

The GoFundMe Campaign seeks to raise $14,000 to accomplish a number of incredible goals. The amount is set to fund purchase of 15 acres of land to protect the land from being cleared and the animals from being killed or displaced. Additionally, the funds will provide for a research facility for Nanayakkara to continue his work researching tarantulas and partnering with local village communities to conserve the native flora and fauna. As a part of this research, Nanayakkara will be able to describe these animals and give them a name.

A personal stretch goal of Salinas is to eventually visit Sri Lanka to observe the species herself. “It’s a dream of mine to take video clips and photos of these animals safe in their home so people can see first-hand the difference their support made.” Although she has no plans for a trip yet, Salinas is content for now to fight for these animals with her friends, across borders.

Supporters of this campaign can visit Help Save Amy’s Pokies at its GoFundMe page. For more information about the TKC, visit the organization’s website www.thetkc.org.

The Tarantula Keepers Coalition Announcement Regarding Exciting New Partnership with Conservation Biologist in Sri Lanka

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tarantula Keepers Coalition

Media Contact

Email: inquiries@thetkc.org

Website: www.thetkc.org

The Tarantula Keepers Coalition Announcement Regarding Exciting New Partnership with Conservation Biologist in Sri Lanka

Bethpage, NY. (January 25, 2019) The Tarantula Keepers Coalition (TKC), a registered non-profit organization dedicated to representing the interests of U.S. breeders and keepers of tarantulas and other arthropods, announced today their partnership with Conservation Biologist, Ranil P. Nanayakkara. The TKC and Nanayakkara share in common a passion for the research and conservation of Sri Lankan species of Mygalomorph spiders.  

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The Tarantula Keepers Coalition Statement Regarding the Importation and Interstate Sale of Brazilian Endemic Spiders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tarantula Keepers Coalition

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The Tarantula Keepers Coalition Statement Regarding the Importation and Interstate Sale of Brazilian Endemic Spiders 

Bethpage, NY. (January 8, 2019) The Tarantula Keepers Coalition (TKC), a registered non-profit organization dedicated to representing the interests of U.S. breeders of tarantulas and other arthropods, announced today their statement regarding Brazilian endemic spiders. This statement comes in response to a July 2018 United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) seizure of Brazilian endemic animals from a U.S. breeder. “Since that initial seizure, there has been no official statement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” explains Quentin Salinas, one board member of TKC. “We have received no guidance pertaining to the subsequent and continued enforcement of the law.”

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