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« Reply #1170 on: May 22, 2015, 06:45 AM »

Police officer gives dog mouth-to-mouth after rescuing it from river in Colombia – video

Guardian
5/22/2015

Police officers in Colombia pluck a dog out of the Liboriana river and carried it to safety on Wednesday after it fell into the dangerous currents following heavy rain. Two police officers on patrol in Salgar spotted the animal flailing in the water. The dog suffered injuries but is expected to make a full recovery. More than 60 people lost their lives after the landslide in the worst disaster of its kind for a decade

Click to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ew95gU0IU0A


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« Reply #1171 on: May 22, 2015, 07:26 AM »

Baby porcupine is today’s daily dose of cuteness

Originally published May 21, 2015 at 2:26 pm
By Ken Lambert
Seattle Times staff photographer

Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, welcomed a prickly arrival on May 15 with the birth of a North American porcupine, seen here not even a week old. The baby porcupine, known as a porcupette, weighed just over a pound at birth. This marks the third birth for parents Molly and Oliver, both 4 years old. The gender is still unknown because of difficulty determining the gender of newborns.

Mom and her porcupette spend most of their time in an off-view den in the Northern Trail exhibit with access to the public exhibit. Zookeepers expect the porcupette will begin venturing into the public exhibit on its own by about 2 weeks old. Guests can now see the mom going back and forth between the den and public exhibit.

In the wild, female porcupines leave their babies during the day and usually nurse them once in the evening.

Porcupettes become active quickly and, as natural tree dwellers, their climbing instincts take hold within weeks. Climbing makes foraging easier on the young, a skill set they exercise early in their development as they wean themselves from mom and transition to an herbivorous diet of leaves, twigs and bark.
   
Zoo guests will begin seeing the porcupette more frequently as it becomes more active and curious.


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« Reply #1172 on: May 22, 2015, 09:42 AM »

BP oil spill caused dolphins’ lung disease and deaths: study

Agence France-Presse
22 May 2015 at 08:41 ET   

Dolphins swimming in the oil-contaminated waters of the Gulf of Mexico after the 2010 BP spill suffered unusual lung lesions and died at high rates because of petroleum pollution, US scientists said Wednesday.

The report in the journal PLOS ONE presents the strongest evidence to date that the environmental disaster that was unleashed when the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, 2010, pouring millions of barrels of oil into the sea, was the reason for an unusually high number of dead or dying bottlenose dolphins washing up on the shores of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Dolphins take big, deep breaths right at the surface of the water, where oil sheens are most concentrated, and “where there is a good chance of inhaling oil itself,” said lead author Stephanie Venn-Watson, a veterinary epidemiologist at the National Marine Mammal Foundation.

“Dolphins were negatively impacted by exposure to petroleum compounds following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and exposure to these compounds caused life threatening adrenal and lung disease that has contributed to increased dolphin deaths in the northern Gulf of Mexico.”

The oil spill was the worst in US history. The US government has estimated that about five million barrels gushed into the Gulf of Mexico, while BP’s experts suggested the amount was about three million barrels. A US judge ruled earlier this year that four million gallons were spilled, and ordered BP to pay fines on 3.19 million barrels, after accounting for oil collected following the explosion.

– Unusual lesions –

Unusual lesions in the lungs and adrenal glands, which regulate hormones and stress response, were a key sign that something was wrong with dolphins in the area of the spill, according to the research which compared autopsies of 46 dolphins that were stranded and died in the spill area from June 2010 to August 2012 to a comparison population of stranded dolphins off the Gulf coast of Florida.

“We found that dolphins that died after the oil spill had distinct adrenal gland and lung lesions that were not present in the stranded dolphins from other areas,” said Kathleen Colegrove, a veterinary pathologist at the University of Illinois.

“These dolphins had some of the most severe lung lesions I have ever seen in wild dolphins from throughout the US.”

One in three of the stranded dolphins in the spill area had a thinned adrenal gland cortex, a rate that was significantly higher than the reference population of stranded dolphins in Sarasota Bay, Florida, in which one in 10 had such a condition.

“The thinning of the adrenal gland cortex was a very unusual abnormality for us, that has not been previously reported in dolphins in the literature,” Colegrove told reporters during a conference call to discuss the findings, which are the latest in a series of research papers on dolphin health in the region after the spill.

– Bacterial pneumonia –

One in five of the oil spill dolphins had bacterial pneumonia, a serious lung disease that was severe enough to cause or contribute to the animals’ deaths.

By comparison, bacterial pneumonia was found in just one in 50 of the Florida dolphins to which the autopsies were compared.

Studies in other animals have shown that inhaling oil can cause adrenal dysfunction, lung disease and bacterial pneumonia, which Venn-Watson described as “one of the most common outcomes of chemical inhalation injury in other animals.”

Scientists ruled out other diseases known to have killed dolphins in high numbers in the past, such as brucellosis and morbillivirus.

They also ruled out cancers, autoimmune diseases, fungal infections and tuberculosis.

“No feasible alternative causes remain that can reasonably explain the timing, location and nature of these distinct lesions,” said Venn-Watson.

A 2013 study on cetaceans in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay, found that dolphins were missing teeth, had lung lesions and high prevalence of disease after the worst oil spill in US history.

While researchers lacked a baseline study of dolphin health in Barataria Bay before the oil spill, they said the combination of live and dead dolphin analyses, including the latest study, have provided a strong body of evidence.

“We feel that this study is a critical link in the chain,” said Venn-Watson.

More than 1,200 dolphins have washed up in area of the Gulf of Mexico affected by the spill since April 29, 2010.

– BP disputes –

In response to the study, BP took issue with the scientific findings.

“This new paper fails to show that the illnesses observed in some dolphins were caused by exposure to Macondo oil,” said Geoff Morell, BP senior vice president for US communications and external affairs.

Morell also noted that more than 100 dolphins were stranded from February, two months prior to the spill, until April 20, 2010, according to figures from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“According to NOAA, the Gulf ‘unusual mortality event’ (UME) began in February 2010, months before the spill,” he added.

“Even though the UME may have overlapped in some areas with the oil spill, correlation is not evidence of causation.”

However, the advocacy group Oceana’s vice president for the US, Jacquelyn Savitz, said the study “confirms yet again that the oil spill is linked to major impacts on marine animals in the Gulf, and that the oil was responsible for many of the record number of dolphin deaths.”


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« Reply #1173 on: May 23, 2015, 05:56 AM »

Alaska’s walrus cam is back – in high def

May 22, 2015
Shayne Jacopian for redOrbit.com – @ShayneJacopian

After a decade of dark screens and vacant hearts, the world can rejoice because Alaska’s walrus cam is back—and in high definition!

The camera feed, which shows large Pacific walruses chilling out on Alaska’s remote Round Island, ran out of private funding nearly ten years ago and was discontinued. But now, it is up and running once more thanks to funding from Explore.org, where the walrus cam is now a part of their “Pearls of the Planet” series, as well as other philanthropic organizations.

You can watch these big, chilly creatures flopping around here: http://explore.org/live-cams/player/walrus-cam-round-island

Thanks to Explore.org’s funding, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has been able to place two paid staff members on Round Island, and these folks will be able to prevent the walruses from being disturbed by boats.

There are four separate webcams stationed on Round Island, which monitor the nearly 14,000 walruses residing there and give nature lovers close-up views. These views they could only previously get with an hours-long boat ride to an island with no accommodations, and only after approval for a permit.

Thanks to Explore.org and “Pearls of the Planet,” those of us who don’t want to freeze our asses off can hang out in the warm sun with a tall, cold glass of iced tea while watching a babbling, bumbling band of blubbery beasts boldly and brashly and unabashedly blundering about the brisk bayside from the relative warmth of, well, just about anywhere but Round Island.


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« Reply #1174 on: May 23, 2015, 06:00 AM »

Intelligent lifeforms already among us: How should we treat them? Part II

May 22, 2015
John Hopton for redOrbit.com – @Johnfinitum

Science lovers like to think about potential moral issues connected to future treatment of artificial intelligence (AI), and potentially extra-terrestrials (ETs). And yet, argues Wolf Gordon Clifton, author of a new exhibit entitled Beyond Human: Animals, Aliens and Artificial Intelligence, we are not paying enough attention to our treatment of intelligent life already among us: animals.

In Part I, we asked what would be the definition of intelligence, and compared our actual treatment of animals with our hypothetical treatment of ETs and sentient machines. Here’s Part II.

RedOrbit: Is it reasonable to draw comparisons between entirely new life forms encountering each other from distance galaxies, and species that have evolved on the same planet?

Wolf Gordon Clifton: I see your point that humans and other animals share a common origin and evolved side by side, so that our current relationships with many other species build on millions of years of natural history, whereas the same is not true for humans and aliens or AIs.

However, I expect that our evolutionary history will still play a major role in how we relate to such beings, despite lacking any biological relationship to them. For instance, we are genetically pre-programmed to find small creatures with big heads and big eyes cute, because they remind us of our own species’ babies, but are naturally fearful of snakes, which posed a huge threat to our primate ancestors. Because of our evolution, we’re much more likely to relate positively to aliens if they look like babies than if they look like snakes.

Personally, I think one of the few really positive precedents in how we relate to animals is the fact that humans and octopuses can understand each other through eye contact, touch, and shared emotional associations with colors. An octopus is basically an alien already – it lives in a completely different environment and shares no common ancestors with us more recent than a brainless worm half a billion years ago. And yet we can still communicate with them at some level, thanks to having separately evolved compatible responses to eye contact, touch, and color. So evolution plays a major role in how we relate to other beings even when our species lack an evolutionary relationship.

(If it is a question of) what is right or wrong for us to do, I think that’s a complex issue. One can argue, for instance, that it may be natural for humans to eat other animals since we evolved doing so. However, our species evolved eating meat occasionally, by scavenging and sometimes hunting. We have only been farming since the end of the last Ice Age, long after Homo sapiens evolved, and have only had factory farming and industrial slaughterhouses for about a century or so.

So even if one accepts that evolution grants humans a natural right to kill animals for food, that conclusion is inapplicable to the ways in which most people do so today. And of course, humans have also evolved the capacity for moral reasoning and critical self-reflection, so if evolution dictates morality, then we have an evolutionary obligation to reflect on our actions and question whether they are morally justifiable.

In that case, deciding that it is morally wrong to kill and eat animals when plant-based food sources are available is also an evolutionarily natural course of action. As naturally evolved beings, one can actually argue that everything humans do is in some sense “natural” and a product of our evolution. For that reason, I think it’s generally much more productive to use our moral principles, logic, and intuition to decide what’s right or wrong than to attempt to rely on our evolutionary past for guidance.

RO: The “What should we do?” conclusion in Beyond Human gives a balanced view of how we might proceed on the subjects such as animals’ legal rights, experimentation, conservation, and even inter-species sex. But is it your view that human treatment of animals is currently highly concerning, and that we need to consider significantly reshaping our view of and behavior toward animal life (i.e. other intelligent life)?

WGC: If I wasn’t concerned by human attitudes and behavior toward animals, I would probably never have embarked on a project such as this. Most moral and ethical systems call for us to respect others on the basis of some shared quality: for instance, rationality, emotion, or the capacity to suffer. I believe that discovering such abilities in non-human animals (and someday maybe ETs and AIs) therefore creates a moral duty for us to extend moral consideration beyond our species, and think seriously about whether or not the ways we relate to other beings are compatible with our claimed values.

That doesn’t mean there are always easy answers, and thinking seriously about moral issues concerning other species doesn’t guarantee that any two people will reach the same conclusions (though I hope most would at least conclude we need to improve our treatment of animals in some way). One of my guiding mantras throughout the exhibit’s development has been that it should be “provocative but not propagandistic.” It should present information, perspectives, and dilemmas, but at the end of it, visitors should not feel that they’ve had anyone else’s opinion imposed on them.

As such, the final section of the exhibit strives to present fairly and accurately a wide range of different views on each topic it explores, and gives visitors the ability to offer their own answers, debate with one another, and ask questions of their own. To this end, I find your comment that Beyond Human is “balanced,” even in its discussion of controversial issues like legal rights, experimentation, conservation, and inter-species sex, very encouraging!

Food for thought, no doubt. (And happily food we can consume with no intergalactic moral questions attached).


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« Reply #1175 on: May 23, 2015, 06:01 AM »

The Eastern diamondback snake’s quest for fire

May 22, 2015
Eric Hopton for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

The connection between the eastern diamondback rattlesnake and fire is so strong we could almost call it the Firesnake. Biologist and scientific “snake charmer” Jennifer Fill, from the University of South Carolina (USC), has been studying that connection, bringing together her two passions – snakes and fire.

Eastern diamondbacks, Crotalus adamanteus, are now so rare that many conservationists are demanding the species is given endangered status. Fill’s research has proved that these snakes rely on an environment that’s also disappearing fast.

These snakes are pyromaniacs

Eastern diamondbacks have a crucial need for pine savanna, which needs periodic wildfires or managed burns to maintain the open-canopy where the rattlers find their prey.

These diamondbacks are a state-protected rarity in North Carolina, and in 2011 conservationists applied to have them listed federally as an endangered species.

The open-canopy forests, or savannas, of the south-eastern US, which were a traditional habitat for the snake, experience frequent fires. One tree species, the longleaf pine, Pinus palustris, has a combination of growth patterns and structure which make it one of the most fire-resistant trees around.

“For its first six to twelve years, it stays a little seedling at ground level,” she says. “It develops a deep taproot, and if a fire comes through, the needles burn in a way that protects the growing tip of the plant.”

After those early years, the tree has a burst of growth, a “bolting” which produces a tall tree with a firm root. The tree creates a natural habitat of well-spaced pines with a dense ground cover of grass and low-lying shrubs, great fuel for the frequent fires.

This savanna ecosystem is perfect for the medium-sized mammals that eastern diamondbacks subsist on, such as rabbits, fox squirrels, and raccoons. Fill recently published a paper in the journal PLOS ONE showing how she used telemetry to follow the movements of a group of snakes in Colleton County, on the south-eastern coastal plain of South Carolina. Her study found that every eastern diamondback she observed had pine savanna as a part of its home range.

Smokey the Bear gets some of the blame

One unexpected culprit in the loss of open-canopy longleaf pine forests is Smokey the Bear who is used to promote fire prevention. Thanks to Smokey, even natural and beneficial fires are now seen as threats. Forest fire prevention leads to many savannas turning into dense forests where the longleaf pine is out-competed by other tree species. The open canopy closes and the ecosystem changes with it.

Fill wants to see her research used for practical conservation. Working closely with the snakes has given her an appreciation of the species. She captured a lot diamondbacks to replace or fit new radio transmitters for tracking and found the animals shy.

“The very last thing that they want is for you to even see them, much less rattle or bite,” she says.

“These snakes are not aggressive animals and actually have distinct personalities. It’s been a privilege to see how they live in these fiery places.”


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« Reply #1176 on: May 23, 2015, 06:13 AM »

Chimps losing lives and limbs to the 'landmines of the forest'

Specialised rangers risk their lives to rid Kibale National Park of snares, which maim and kill chimpanzees, elephants, and wild cats

Friday 22 May 2015 14.22 BST
Guardian

Meet Max: Max is a double amputee, having lost both his right and left legs below the knee. He lost his limbs not to war, disease, or a car accident, but to wire snares. You see, Max is a chimpanzee in Uganda’s Kibale National Park. Before he turned eight, Max was caught by snares twice, losing a part of a leg each time. Despite these handicaps, he is a remarkable survivor, forced to crawl when on the ground but able to climb trees with the best of them. Still, Max, now 15, will never head his troupe or lead a normal chimp life.

Snares are “the landmines of the forest,” according to Jessica Hartel, the director of the Kibale Snare Removal Program.

“Like landmines, snares do not discriminate, are virtually undetectable, and can cause irreversible permanent physical damage within a split second,” she explained. “Like landmines, snares are unforgiving death traps that cause pain, suffering, and mutilation. Like landmines, snares are detonated automatically by way of pressure from the animals stepping into or through it.”

It’s estimated that one third of Uganda’s chimps suffer from snare wounds like Max. And the chimps aren’t the only victims. While hunters usually set wire snares to catch the park’s antelopes (bushbucks and duikers) and bushpigs, they inadvertently injure and kill everything from elephants to leopards to African golden cats. In fact, snares are one of the largest – and least discriminatory – problems for wildlife in developing countries, but also one of the least publicised.

“Snares are the most insidious of hunting methods currently used in Africa,” said David Mills who is studying African golden cats in Kibale with the Wildlife Conservation Society-Uganda and cat conservation group, Panthera. “Coupled with the breakdown of hunting traditions and taboos and exploding populations of hunters, they have contributed to the collapse of wildlife populations in many parts of Africa.”

Snaring doesn’t only kill and maim individual animals, it can also impact a forest’s ecology. With fewer prey animals like duikers and bushpigs, wild cat populations may decline. And if vital seed disperser populations fall – such as chimps, elephants and forest antelopes – it could change the structure and richness of the forest.

“When a hunter sets a snare for a duiker, the snare is also set for a leopard or golden cat who may also be looking for that duiker,” said Mills.

At any one time, there are 15,000 active snares in Kibale National Park, according to researchers. That’s nearly twenty snares for every square kilometre. However, since 1997 a group of dedicated, specialised rangers have put their own lives on the line to fight back against this flood of snares.
Snare heroes

Their names are: Paul Mugisha, Charles Friday, Godi Nyesiga, John Tweheyo, and Amos Twinamasiko. Currently, these five Ugandans are what stands between the mammals of Kibale and those unseen killer wires.

“Snare removal saves the lives of animals,” said Head Ranger Paul Mugisha. “Had it [not been] for the Kibale Snare Removal Programme, there wouldn’t be any animals in the park.”

Junior Ranger, Charles Friday, also said that some populations of common snaring victims were “increasing” due to the team’s efforts. Anecdotally, researchers say they are seeing fewer snare-related injuries and deaths for the 1,400 eastern chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in Kibale, which houses the largest population of chimpanzees in the country.

    Despite challenges such as heavy rains, falling trees and armed poachers, elephants are always our biggest worry
    Paul Mugisha

Yet it remains difficult to really see if the problem is getting worse or better, according to Emily Otali, the Field Director of the Kibale Chimpanzee Project and co-director of the Kibale Snare Removal Programme. An expert on chimps, Otali is the first black African woman to earn a doctorate in primatology.

She said rangers continue to come home with more and more snares, but that might be due to the fact that there are more rangers now (the program began with just two) covering a larger area of the park, she added.

“So one could say there are more snares yet the number didn’t so much increase as our efforts to find them,” she said. “On the other hand...[Retired ranger John Okwilo] told me that for every 10 snares they remove in an area, the poachers will go back to that same area and set 100 new snares. For the poachers, it is a game of who will give up first!”

The Kibale Snare Removal Programme is a conservation initiative run by the Kibale Chimpanzee Project. The organisation is funded by several Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) branches in Europe – Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands – and coordinates with the local JGI branch, the Ngogo Chimpanzee Project’s snare removal team, and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), including the park’s wildlife rangers. But unlike wildlife rangers, the snare dispatchers move through the forest unarmed, making their job especially dangerous.

“When there are many [poachers], we do hide from them and let them go,” said Okwilo, who retired earlier this year after 18 years on the team. He added that in such cases the team calls for armed wildlife rangers to track down poachers. If the poachers are few and unarmed, the snare squad will attempt arrest.

“In most cases, we are always afraid of [poachers], because some poach using guns while looking for big game like elephants,” Okwilo added.

But poachers aren’t the team’s only – or even highest – concern when in the forest.

“Despite challenges such as heavy rains, falling trees and armed poachers, elephants are always our biggest worry,” said Mugisha. The team has been chased and attacked by an elephant more than once during patrols.

Jessica Hartel, the programme’s head, said ranger safety is the “number one priority,” adding that “while some poachers are harmless locals setting the occasional snare in the forest, others are incredibly dangerous poaching much larger game like elephants and buffalo in teams armed with spears and guns. Our rangers are encouraged to patrol with [UWA armed rangers] and to never confront armed poachers without UWA.”

The team patrols daily, looking not only for snares, but also any other illegal activity in the park including firewood collecting, logging or grazing. They also spend eleven nights of every month camping deep in the forest, so they can cover remote areas.

“Since the inception of the Kibale Snare Removal Program in 1997, our rangers have removed over 6,500 snares,” said Hartel. “Despite our consistent efforts, snares continue to be a consistent, formidable threat.”

Socioeconomic realities

The team doesn’t only dismantle snares in the forest; it also works on changing hearts-and-minds in the park’s adjacent villages, which are booming. The total population surrounding Kibale has septupled in less than a century, and for many local villagers, snares provide the easiest way to access bushmeat inside the park.

Snares are “low cost with high potential benefit,” said Hartel, who added that hunters make the snares out of “recycled motorbike clutch or brake wire, which are cheap and readily available.”

“Snares are easy to set in the forest and do not require consistent monitoring,” she continued. “There is little time investment for local people living along the forest edge to enter and set a few nearby snares that can be checked once every few days.”

Although illegal, catching meat via snare is cheaper for many locals than rearing domestic animals or buying meat at the market.

“In a region where people live on $1 a month, not everyone can afford to buy meat at the butcher,” said Otali. However, she added that culture also played a role.

“Hunting in this area started as a sport for the king and his subjects. It is believed that the majority of the snares set are by people who still hunt for fun. Secondly, everyone concedes that bushmeat is tastier than domestic meat.”

In order to combat snaring in the long-term, the organisation believes education and reaching out to the community is just as important as disarming these “landmines.”

“Snare removals act as a bandaid, providing a quick fix to the problem without providing long-term treatment. Educational outreach, on the other hand, is the medication that can provide real solutions that change behaviour,” said Hartel.

Partnering with the Kasiisi Project, the snare team routinely gives presentations to school-age children on the impacts of snaring and the importance of wildlife like chimpanzees and elephants in Kibale National Park.

“Many of these kids are children of hunters,” said David Mills withWCS and Panthera. “Encouraging these kids to care for the forest is critical to the long-term reduction of hunting. It doesn’t ultimately matter if they choose to hunt as adults or not. In the US, hunters can be great conservationists. They use their resource wisely because they want to keep using it. This can happen in Africa too.”

In addition to hunting, locals often enter the park to collect fuelwood or clear forest edges for crops. Kibale is a new park, only formally established in 1992, and has had a tenuous relationship with those living nearby.

Community views

The rangers, all of whom live in local communities, pointed out that local views towards the park were often complex and sometimes ambivalent.

“The local community have mixed feelings about conservation in Kibale. Few people understand and appreciate the work being done...and the majority have negative attitudes toward conservation and I think they are the ones responsible for all the illegal activities,” said Head Ranger, Paul Mugisha.
Short documentary on the Kibale Snare Removal Programme.

Some locals resent no longer being allowed to hunt or log inside Kibale, while others face conflict with elephants and baboons that raid their crops and gardens.

In order to offset some of these impacts, the government has set-up a revenue sharing programme whereby 20 percent of entrance fees to the park go back to local governments. However, this only comes to around $1 a year per family and some have complained of mismanagement of funds.

Moreover, Mugisha said this revenue “doesn’t directly contribute much to the people who have losses due to the animals.” He said that the UWA should change its approach to prioritise local people surrounding the park.

Still, Junior Ranger Godi Nyesiga said most people in the area “are lovers of conservation” and “feel touched when they hear that animals are dying because of snares.”

Nyesiga pointed out that the park plays a large economic role in the community beyond the revenue programme, providing jobs for wardens, rangers, field assistants and tourist guides.

“Others own hotels [and] lodges where tourists pay a lot of money,” he added.
A red duiker left decomposing in a wire neck snare. Since poachers do not regularly monitor their snares, animals are left to suffocate, dehydrate, and starve to death.

A study in 2011 found that residents near Kibale were actually better off economically than those who lived further away. A finding that might explain why people often choose to live at the edges of protected areas. Overall, the study also recorded data that showed economic conditions were improving, though deep poverty still remained in some places and wealth inequality was becoming a rising problem.

There is no quick fix to the issues between the wildlife and people of Kibale, but Hartel sees educaiton as one of the most important long-term solutions.

“Through conservation education we have observed positive shifts in students’ attitudes towards chimpanzees, elephants, and other wildlife accompanied by a growing interest in and passion for conservation,” she said.

Back to the chimps

Now meet Kaana: in 2000, a snare almost took Kaana’s hand. She disappeared from her chimp family eight year after being snared and conservationists feared the worst. However, a few months later she showed up in another chimp community 10 kilometres away. Despite her injury, Kaana has become a mother.

“Chimps are very resilient, they survive easily with missing limbs and after bad injuries. They crawl or drag themselves on the ground and on trees and live,” said chimp expert, Otali, who noted that Kaana’s story was one of the happy ones. “But this is not necessarily easy or the life they should live.”

While some chimps survive, others don’t. And the toll can ripple through the chimp community.

“Nectar first lost her left hand at age five and was then again snared on her right hand at age eight,” said Hartel. “Unable to walk or feed, Nectar’s health began to deteriorate. Nectar then lost her mother and was left to care for her two-year-old brother, Pollen. Within a few months, both Pollen and Nectar disappeared and were never seen again.”

In the end, snaring can prove as deadly to chimps – or elephants, or leopards, or any other large mammal in the forest – as the blast of a gun. And, it should be remembered that there are far more snares in Kibale National Park than guns. The same could likely be said for many forests across Africa and Asia.

“We need more rangers out there removing snares,” said Otali.

Just as snares are hidden away in foliage, bushes and leaflitters, so the problem continues to remain opaque – and sometimes even ignored – compared with the more dramatic ways of wiping out the world’s wildlife. But in some places and for some species, snares are undoubtedly among the biggest threats. Just ask Max.

***********

Kibale (Chimpanzee) Snare Removal Program Short Documentary, Kibale Chimpanzee Project

Click to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=71&v=Rn3iLas18IY&hd=1


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« Reply #1177 on: May 23, 2015, 06:17 AM »

Endangered species found in Devon raid

Stuffed animals including a tiger’s head and birds of prey are seized by National Crime Agency officers
Panther chameleon

Press Association
Friday 22 May 2015 20.08 BST

A haul of taxidermy animals including a tiger’s head, monkey skulls, reptiles and stuffed birds of prey have been seized by the authorities. They were recovered by officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) at a residential address and business premises in Newton Abbot, Devon, on Thursday.

The operation follows the seizure by the UK Border Force of a chameleon preserved in formaldehyde at the Heathrow Worldwide Distribution Centre postal hub last month.

The reptile, which had been shipped from the US, was found to be a controlled species, meaning strict rules are in place to prevent illegal trading. It led NCA officers, supported by specialist officers from the UK Border Force, to Devon, where a 40-year-old man was arrested at his home. At the business address they seized a number of items, including primates, reptiles, birds of prey, ivory objects and other material, which will now be taken away for further analysis.

Dawn Cartwright, from the NCA’s Border Policing Command, said: “Unregulated imports or exports of rare species can have a devastating impact on their survival, which is why the law around moving them is so strict and we take potential breaches of that law so seriously. Working with Border Force and our law enforcement partners, we will continue to target the international criminal trade in endangered species.”

The man, who was arrested on suspicion of evading restrictions contrary to the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 and Control of Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997, was released on bail until September.


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« Reply #1178 on: May 23, 2015, 06:18 AM »

Anti-foxhunting groups lobby SNP MPs to help quash hunting ban repeal

Animal welfare campaigners promise to ‘buy Scottish’ if new MPs in Scotland vote against Tories’ promised motion to repeal Labour’s 2004 Hunting Act

Libby Brooks Scotland reporter
Friday 22 May 2015 14.12 BST
Guardian

New Scottish National party MPs are being lobbied by voters in the rest of the UK who are promising to holiday in Scotland and buy more whisky if they vote against the repeal of the hunting ban.

Traditionally, SNP MPs do not vote on legislation that only affects England and Wales, but anti-foxhunting groups are encouraging the party to gives its members a free vote on the issue as a matter of conscience.

Some Tory MPs are pushing for a vote on foxhunting to be held within the next few months after a repeal of Labour’s 2004 Hunting Act was promised in the party’s manifesto.

The SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, hinted last weekend that the party may be re-considering its position after she was pressed about it on Twitter, saying: “The SNP has not yet taken decision on this. We certainly don’t agree with repealing ban.”

    — Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon)
    May 16, 2015

    @The_Extractor_ the SNP has not yet taken decision on this. We certainly don't agree with repealing ban

Meanwhile, voters from the rest of the UK appear to be responding to Sturgeon’s pre-election overtures when she repeatedly said that the SNP would be a friend to progressives of whatever political stripe and wherever they lived.

Calum Kerr, the SNP’s freshly appointed environment and rural affairs spokesman, describes a “steady flow” of individuals lobbying him on foxhunting since he was elected, with “a reasonable number of emails from south of the border, some of them even offering to come to Scotland for their holidays if we support the ban”.

Tommy Sheppard, the newly elected SNP MP for Edinburgh East, has likewise noted the spike.

“It’s dwarfing all the other issues in my inbox at the moment,” says Sheppard, who estimates that about a third of hunting-related communications are coming from the rest of the UK.

“Some of them phrase it as ‘doing a deal’,” adds Sheppard, referring to the offers to holiday in the country or buy Scottish products in return for a vote against repeal.

He notes: “There’s a lot more variation in the emails than when people are writing with a standard template provided by [campaigning website] 38 Degrees, for example. It does seem to be more organic.”

Prominent campaigners against cruel sports, such as Peta and the League Against Cruel Sports, have not asked their membership to specifically target Scottish MPs, although the league has made a direct approach to the SNP leader at Westminster, Angus Robertson, and is calling for SNP MPs to be given a free vote on the issue.

But Stop the Cull, a group that normally campaigns on badger welfare, is currently advising its 42,000-strong Facebook group: “We are running a mini-campaign asking our supporters to please contact the SNP MPs who are in Westminster, to tell them – with the aim of getting them to stop the Tories from repealing the ban – that you are pledging to support Scotland by holidaying there and/or by buying Scottish products.”

It offers a shareable post featuring brands of Scotch whisky and the words “I pledge to buy Scottish.”

Robbie Marsland, of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, said that his organisation is considering doing likewise and asking its supporters to contact SNP MPs directly, “but only if we felt it could make a positive contribution to what we understand is a tricky position for the SNP”.

As for the current spate of lobbying, Marsland said: “The animal welfare movement across the UK is enormous and it really runs itself.”

With a majority of just 12, it would only take a handful of Tory rebels for the repeal to be blocked with the help of Labour and the SNP. Marsland estimates that as many as 30 Tory MPs could vote against the repeal.


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« Reply #1179 on: May 23, 2015, 06:23 AM »

Turtle on edge of extinction after sudden attack by mystery disease

Scientists cannot explain why the Bellinger river snapping turtle has been all but wiped out by a mysterious disease with a 100% mortality rate

Oliver Milman
Saturday 23 May 2015 00.06 BST
Guardian

A species of turtle has been pushed to the brink of extinction over the course of just one month after a mystery disease swept through its habitat in New South Wales, with alarmed scientists pinning hopes on a small band of survivors.

The Bellinger river snapping turtle, a species previously considered to be under no threat, has been virtually wiped out by a disease that causes them to become lethargic and then develop lesions on the eyes and throughout the body.

The turtle, only found in its eponymous river on the mid-north coast of NSW, is considered endearing by many conservationists because its face is set in a permanent grin.

But the jocular visages of the little creatures belie the serious threat the species now faces, prompting scientists from Australia and overseas to search for a reason for its sudden decline.

Dead turtles were first spotted beside the river by canoeists. Since then, more than 400 dead turtles have been recovered, with many others dying within a few days of being rounded up.

The disease cannot be treated, has a 100% mortality rate and has taken hold in 90% of the turtle’s habitat, raising fears that the animal may become extinct.

“There’s a real possibility they’ll become extinct, which is a tragedy really,” Dr Ricky Spencer, a zoologist at the University of Western Sydney, said.

“For this to occur over the period of a month is very alarming. It’s a mystery event never seen in Australia before. It may take years before we find out what’s happened here.

“What we do know is that it kills and it kills rapidly. Within a month, the turtles have gone from not threatened to endangered or critically endangered. The problem is that they only exist in the Bellinger river and nowhere else in the world, so a population crash here means extinction.”

Spencer has been working with the NSW office of environment and heritage, Taronga Zoo and the NSW national parks and wildlife service, as well as overseas scientists, to tackle the problem.

The team believe the turtles may have been attacked by a number of diseases after becoming vulnerable from a lack of food, but there is no established theory for the decline as yet.

A total of 17 healthy turtles have been taken into captivity, with scientists hoping that a successful breeding program will be able to bring them back from the brink.

“The captive breeding program will be very important,” Spencer said. “Hopefully the hatchlings will breed and we can release them back into a healthy part of the river at some point.”

The alarming decline, revealed on what is world turtle day, is the latest woe faced by a freshwater turtle species. According to the IUCN, 62% of the world’s freshwater turtle species are either threatened or endangered.

Freshwater turtles are considered crucial to the health of river ecosystems because they eat dead and decaying matter and help recycle nutrients.


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