- by Laura Simpson
- August 13, 2013
- 7:00 pm
(PHOTO ABOVE: night vision photography reveals hippo grazing on trucked-in food)
Conservationist Karen Paolillo takes a deep breath and opens the screen door to her cottage nestled along the Turgwe River at the Save Valley Conservancy in Zimbabwe. She looks down to see that the screen has been ripped again, vandalized during the night by Bella the baboon who is constantly trying to get into the house which she and her husband Jean-Roger built with their own hands. It’s breakfast time here, not for Karen, but for the many animals she hopes to keep alive in a once-green landscape that is quickly turning to dust.
Very low rainfall has created a localized drought along this section of the river and essential grasses are nearly gone now. The vegetation isn’t expected to return until December, so Karen has two choices. She can either find a way to feed the herds of hippos and other grazers who live in this area or she can witness the starvation of the animals she’s spent decades trying to protect.
Through land invasions, violent uprisings, several bouts of malaria and times when she had little to eat herself, Karen has stood among the wildlife here as their sole champion in a land where animals are valued not for their beauty but for the price they can fetch by wealthy hunters who fly in, usually from America, to claim their ‘prize’. Wildlife is a commodity to so much of the human community here, but to Karen, they mean so much more.
“Since I first formed the Turgwe Hippo Trust nearly 20 years ago, 48 hippo calves have been born,” explains Karen, who can identify each individual and knows them by name. The land is also home to thousands of lions, wildebeest, buffalo, elephants and more in the 3,000 square kilometer refuge.
Karen remembers her early days here well, as she protected the herd during an extreme drought in which the river dried up entirely. By pounding on doors and begging for help to conservation groups worldwide, she was able to gather enough funds to excavate a large cement basin and to fill it with water to allow the hippos to submerge and all the animals to drink. And with a blend of hay and horse cubes, she fed the grazers here, and remarkably, hippo calves were even born during the drought.
Now here we are again, and there is a small question mark over this second mission. Though the water basin is still intact and ready to supply hydration to the animals here, the cost of hay and a broken down vehicle provide the recipe for their biggest test of faith yet.
“She has finally given up the ghost,” says Karen of the used Land Rover that was generously donated to the trust by the Summerlee Foundation 14 years ago. “She has helped us remove over 11,000 snares in our patrols in the bush to combat poaching. She has pulled the sand pump to the river in order for us to dig up silted pools and repair natural pools for the hippos. She has carted wood and rocks for building projects. She has transported children to the hippos as well as taken our volunteers around the bush for various jobs that they are involved in. But now at the crucial time when I begin feeding the animals, I have no vehicle. I can feed the hippos closest to home with wheel barrows but that will not be the case for the hippos further away.”
The Harmony Fund, a small charity devoted to helping ‘underdog’ animal rescue teams across the planet, has set up a platform for people to help keep the animals alive during this drought. To learn more or to get involved, click here.
Delfine im Meer vor der japanischen Küste.
Alle Proteste helfen nichtJapan schlachtet Delfine ab
Alljährlich spielt sich in der japanischen Bucht von Taiji ein grausames Ritual ab. Dort werden dutzende Delfine abgeschlachtet, ein Teil der Tiere landet sogar im Handel. Tierschützer versuchen seit Jahren, das zu verhindern. Bislang ohne Erfolg.
Trotz weltweiter Proteste hat im japanischen Walfangdorf Taiji wieder das alljährliche Abschlachten von Delfinen begonnen. Zuerst wählen Tiertrainer dort die besten Exemplare für Delfinarien im In- und Ausland aus, dann werden die übrigen mit Speeren, Haken und Messern getötet.
Sechs Walfangboote verließen am frühen Morgen den Hafen von Taiji und orteten eine Gruppe von rund 20 Delfinen, wie die japanische Nachrichtenagentur Kyodo meldete. Durch Hämmern auf Metallstangen im Meer legen die Fischer den Orientierungssinn der Delfine lahm und treiben sie so in eine Lagune, die mit Netzen abgesperrt wird. Vor den Augen von Spaziergängern wählen Tiertrainer die besten Exemplare aus. Was der Besucher des Ortes jedoch nicht sehen darf, ist das Gemetzel an den übrigen Tieren, das sich in einer versteckt hinter Felsen gelegenen Nachbarlagune abspielt.
“Die Bucht” klärte auf
Tausende von Delfinen fallen auf diese Weise in Taiji, rund 700 Kilometer südlich von Tokio, sowie wenigen anderen Orten Japans der Treibjagd zum Opfer – mit Billigung der Regierung, die Fangquoten setzt. Die Jagd an der Küste unterliegt nicht der Kontrolle der Internationalen Walfangkommission. Ein Teil des laut Umweltschützern hochgradig mit Quecksilber verseuchten Fleisches der abgestochenen Kleinwale gelangt später in den Handel.
In seinem mit dem Oscar gekrönten Dokumentarfilm “Die Bucht” hat der US-amerikanische Taucher und Unterwasser-Fotograf Louie Psihoyos der Weltöffentlichkeit das Gemetzel mit Hilfe versteckter Kameras vor Augen geführt, das bis zum Frühjahr andauert.
Unterdessen überreichte der amerikanische Delfinschützer Richard O’Barry in Tokio der US- Botschaft eine Liste mit Unterschriften von 1,7 Millionen Menschen in aller Welt, die ein Ende der Delfinabschlachtung in Japan fordern.
Der US-Amerikaner war in den 60er Jahren Trainer der Delfine für die TV-Serie “Flipper”, seit 1970 kämpft er weltweit aktiv für den Schutz der Meeressäuger. Die Jagd auf die Delfine sei grausam und könne nicht als Teil der japanischen Kultur verklärt werden, sagte er zu Journalisten. O’Barry, der auch im Internet die Kampagne “Save Japan Dolphins” betreibt, hält sich in Japan mit rund 60 Unterstützern auf, um gegen die Delfinabschlachtung zu protestieren. Die Delfinariums-Industrie biete erst den finanziellen Anreiz, um die Treibjagd in Taiji in Gang zu halten, hatte O’Barry anlässlich einer früheren Jagdsaison gesagt.Trotz weltweiter Proteste haben im japanischen Walfangdorf Taiji wieder das alljährliche Abschlachten von Delfinen begonnen. Zuerst wählen Tiertrainer dort die besten Exemplare für Delfinarien im In- und Ausland aus, dann werden die übrigen mit Speeren, Haken und Messern getötet.
- Dolphins and Whales: The Cove and the Grind (ecofriendsmne.wordpress.com)
- There’s something about Bubi: Japan can’t get enough of water bottles that collapse to a third of their size (stufffound.wordpress.com)
- Business › Business leaders propose health policies to promote economic growth in Japan (japantoday.com)
- Taiji Cove: The Horror Behind the Curtain (conservationjournaljoannevere.wordpress.com)
- Stop the Slaughter of Dolphins in Japan (forcechange.com)
Posted: 25 May 2013 02:29 PM PDT
Two important amphibian news items to report here…the first regards the spread of the lethal Chytrid fungus into Caecilians (a third major grouping of the Amphibia); the second item: a report on the recent USGS survey of US amphibian populations.
Rare Amphibian Group Now at Risk from Frog-killing Fungus
Frogs (and toads), salamanders, and Caecilians — a lesser known amphibian looking somewhere between a large worm or a smallish snake — represent the three major groups of amphibians.
For the past two decades at least, a lethal fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatista) — generally known as Chytrid fungus or Bd — has spread through frog and salamander populations around the world, decimating local populations, causing extinctions (almost 300 world wide), and threatening to wipe out an estimated one third of the world’s frog and salamander species in the coming years.
The caecilian (pronounced like “Sicilian”) amphibian group is fairly rare and rarely studied. There are about 190 known caecilian species with the largest reaching a length of almost 2 meters. It was once believed that the legless caecilians were not at risk for the chytrid infection — possibly due to their secretive life cycles in deep soils.
No more. In a global survey of caecilians conducted by the Natural History Museum and the Zoological Society of London, England, scientists captured more than 200 caecilian specimens comprising 29 species. Examination of the skin of the live specimens revealed 58 individuals infected with the Bd fungus many of which subsequently died from the infections.
The fungal disease — called chytridiomycosis — primarily infects the skin of amphibians, blocking the absorption of oxygen (which is how most Amphibia get their oxygen) and water and probably interfering with other critical, cellular functions. There is no known cure for the disease and the origins of the fungus are likewise unknown (but may be more than 40,000 years old). Its spread is believed to have been enabled by the global, commercial frog trade (note: frogs are sold for pets, food, dissection kits, and even for pregnancy tests) which emerged in the latter half of the 20th Century. The fungus can also travel on the legs of migrating birds and can survive in water for lengthy periods.
In a press release, museum zoologist and lead researcher David Gower stated:
“The fungus was known to infect and potentially kill both the other major groups of amphibians, but we did not know if it definitively could infect caecilians in the wild, and whether it could potentially also kill them. We now know both of these are the case, and so this potentially major threat needs to be taken into consideration in caecilian conservation biology.”
The results of the survey are detailed in the May 2013 issue of EcoHealth.
Source material for this post cam from the SciAm article: ‘Frog-Killing Chytrid Fungus Hits Rarely Seen, Wormlike Amphibians’ by John R. Platt
US Geological Survey of US Amphibians Finds Troubling Trend
US frog, toad and salamander populations are declining at a rate of 3.7 percent per year, according to the recent completed USGS Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative. At that rate, nearly one half of these amphibians will have disappeared from their native habitats 20 years out.
The “alarming” news holds true even for species thought to be “safe” — with a decline rate of 2.7 percent per year.
Dicamptodon tenebrosus a species of Pacific giant salamanders (Dicamptodontidae) is a coastal giant salamander ranging from California to Washington. It has croaking vocalizations the can resemble a dogs bark (image credit: Marjef07)
Amphibians have been facing a “quadruple threat” for many years now — a combination of chytrid infections, climate change, pollution and habitat destruction. This survey represents the first time that US amphibian declines have actually been measured.
“These are really ancient species that have been surviving a long time on earth through all kinds of changes. It’s just a concern to see,” said USGS ecologist Michael J. Adams, “They just disappear. Populations are going away.”
Worldwide, the news is worse. According to the “red list” compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the rate of decline amongst amphibian species, globally, is an astounding 11.6 per year, which means that in 6 years or so, half of known amphibian sites will be “unoccupied”. Currently, one third of all members of the Amphibia class are on the IUCN red list.
The survey initiative transpired over a nine year period and included 34 study areas (comprised of hundreds of ponds, streams, and other sites). Scientists returned to each site every two or three years to conduct inventories of amphibian species. Most of the sites were on public lands and under some form of state or federal protection — making the observed declines even more of a concern.
The USGS survey did not investigate the causes of the declines (which can involve many interacting factors operating over wide regions), only their trends during the study period. But efforts are underway to conserve many species and remove or mitigate some of the more local causes (while climate change impacts will be nearly impossible to stop).
Amphibians provide an important ecosystem service by feeding on many types of insects and helping to maintain rich soils; they are important links in their respective ecosystems; their declines — the loss of biodiversity — bode poorly for ecosystem stability in the long term.
USGS Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative was published Wednesday in the online journal PLOS One.
Some source material (and quote) for this post came from the AP/Yahoo news article: ‘Study: Amphibians disappearing at alarming rate‘ by Jeff Barnard
To learn more about what you can do to help survey and save amphibians wherever you live — check out this important Planetsave post and consider becoming a ‘citizen scientist’ and joining the Amphibian Blitz Project!
- Amphibian Populations Could Disappear From Half Of Their Habitats Over The Next 20 Years (hngn.com)
- Study: Number of frogs, toads declining at alarming rate (denverpost.com)
- America’s frogs and toads disappearing fast (worldbulletin.net)
- Amphibians declining in the US, report says – Los Angeles Times (latimes.com)
- U.S. Researchers Find Frogs Are Dropping Like Flies (latinospost.com)
- Frogs Disappearing Faster Than Thought (newser.com)
- Will U.S. amphibians become endangered species? (salon.com)
- Amphibians in U.S. Declining at ‘Alarming and Rapid Rate’ (blogs.scientificamerican.com)
- Frog-Killing Chytrid Fungus Hits Rarely Seen, Wormlike Amphibians (blogs.scientificamerican.com)
- Amphibian News: Killer Fungus Found In Third Major Amphibian Group, USGS Amphibian Survey Findings ‘Alarming’ (planetsave.com)
STOP any kind of Safari in Africa http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkWSRRmLeSU&feature=youtu.be
Don’t forget to sign the petition http://www.causes.com/actions/1742571-stop-any-kind-of-safari-hunting-in-south-africa
On May 20, 2013, a supercell thunderstorm in central Oklahoma spawned a destructive tornado that passed just south of Oklahoma City. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this image of the storm at 2:40 p.m. local time (19:40 UTC). The red line depicts the tornado’s track. The twister touched down west of Newcastle at 2:56 p.m. and moved northeast toward Moore, where it caused dozens of deaths and widespread destruction. The tornado had dissipated by 3:36 p.m., after traveling approximately 20 miles (32 kilometers). Credit: NASA/Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA Goddard; caption by Adam Voiland. For a larger version of this image please go here.
On May 20, 2013, NASA and NOAA satellites observed the system that generated severe weather in the south central United States and spawned the Moore, Okla., tornado.
The tornado that struck Moore on the afternoon of Monday, May 20, was an F-4 tornado on the enhanced Fujita scale, according to the National Weather Service. F-4 tornadoes have sustained winds from 166 to 200 mph. This tornado was about twice as wide as the tornado that struck Moore on May 3, 1999. Moore is located 10 miles south of Oklahoma City.
Before, during and after the tornado, satellites provided imagery and data to forecasters. The first tornado warning was issued around 2:40 p.m. CDT (local time). By 3:01 p.m. CDT a tornado emergency was issued for Moore, and 35 minutes later at 3:36 p.m. CDT, the tornado spun down and dissipated.
NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a visible-light image that provided a detailed look at the supercell thunderstorm. NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite provided continuously updated satellite imagery depicting the storm’s movement. After the tornado, the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite’s lightning observations showed that the thunderstorm complex was still active after nightfall.
NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite provided forecasters with images of the storm system every 15 minutes. One GOES-13 satellite image was captured at 19:55 UTC (2:55 p.m. CDT) as the tornado began its deadly swath. The tornado was generated near the bottom of a line of clouds resembling an exclamation mark. The GOES-13 satellite imagery from the entire day was assembled into an animation by the NASA GOES Project at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
Four minutes after the tornado dissipated (19:40 UTC / 3:40 p.m. EDT), the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a visible image of the supercell thunderstorm that spawned the Moore tornado. That image was created by the NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team and Adam Voiland, NASA Earth Observatory.
Later as the storm system continued through the region, another satellite captured an image of the storm at night that showed it was still powerful. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite aboard Suomi NPP observed lightning in a nighttime image on May 21 at 07:27 UTC (3:27 a.m. EDT). Lightning appeared as rectangular shapes in the image. The VIIRS imagery showed the city lights in the Oklahoma City area, but there was reduced light output in Moore as a result of tornado damage.
The Suomi NPP satellite carries an instrument so sensitive to low light levels that it can detect lightning in the middle of the night. The Day/Night band on Suomi NPP produces nighttime visible imagery using illumination from natural (the moon, forest fires) and man-made sources (city lights). The data were captured by the direct broadcast antenna at University of Wisconsin.
Very Rare Leopards Caught On Camera
Posted: 23 May 2013 11:38 AM PDT
Critically endangered Javan leopards have been caught on digital camera traps in West Java. If you have been following conservation news, you know that the Formosan Cloud Leopard was recently declared extinct. They were driven into extinction by human activities. So it is very important that the Javan leopards be protected or they may suffer the same fate.
Image Credit: CFIR
Thirty cameras were placed in Gunung Halimun-Salak National Park in West Java, by researcher Age Kridalaksana, from the Center for International Forestry Research. For about a month the cameras recorded images of local wildlife. Most of the animals documented by the cameras were deer, civets and birds. There were also three Javan leopards. These leopards are about one hundred pounds and the height and length of an American mountain lion.
There are probably less than 250 left in the wild, according to IUCN. Loss of habitat, poaching and loss of prey animals are contributing factors in their decline. All these factors are due to human activities.
About 2,000 hectares of rainforest a year are being lost each year due to industrial activities such as mining and land clearing for palm oil plantations. If you want to protect these leopards and their habitat, make sure to stop using products containing palm oil. (Boycotting palm oil will likely also help orangutans.)
Even within Gunung Halimun-Salak National Park 25% of the forested area was lost from illegal logging.
The huge city of Jakarta with 20 million people is just several hours from the park. Surely, these wild animals deserve to have some natural habitat protected and kept undeveloped.
The Center for International Forestry Research works to conserve natural forests and their wildlife. They also are study poor human communities and their relationship with natural habitats. Their work is some of the most important on Earth. What complements it the most is human population management. If the human population had not reached over seven billion, some of these very difficult situations would be less damaging.
Very Rare Leopards Caught On Camera was originally posted on: PlanetSave.
- Scientists capture One of The World’s Rarest big Cats on film (greatcatsoftheworld.wordpress.com)
- Carefree leopard makes screen debut (newscientist.com)
- Endangered Javan Leopards Caught On Camera (futurepundit.com)
- World’s Rarest Big Cats Caught on Camera in Indonesia (news.softpedia.com)
- Camera Traps Capture Rare and Beautiful Javan Leopards (wired.com)
- Camera trap captures rare Javan leopard just lying around being a cat (Video) (treehugger.com)
- Rare Javan leopards captured in stunning camera trap photos (grindtv.com)
- Yet more felids: the Javan leopard (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand why genetically modified foods are dangerous, but if you look closely, you may just find the name of one listed among the names of more than 800 scientists from around the globe who have joined forces in an open letter to all world governments, outlining their detailed concerns over the alarming potential threat of biotech’s unauthorized, worldwide GM foods experiment.
Sources for this article include:
Russia has ordered the urgent evacuation of the 16-strong crew of a drifting Arctic research station after the ice floe that hosts the floating laboratory began to disintegrate, officials said Thursday.
Natural Resources and Ecology Minister Sergei Donskoi set a three-day deadline to draft a plan to evacuate the North Pole-40 floating research station.
“The destruction of the ice has put at risk the station’s further work and life of its staff,” the ministry said in a statement.
The station is currently home to 16 personnel including oceanologists, meteorologists, engineers and a doctor.
It conducts meteorological research, monitors environmental pollution and conducts a number of tests.
If the situation is not addressed, it may also result in the loss of equipment and contaminate the environment near Canada’s economic zone where the station is currently located, the ministry added.
The floating research laboratory will be relocated to Bolshevik Island in the Russian Arctic with the help of an ice-breaker.
“The ice floe has crumbled into six pieces,” said Arkady Soshnikov, spokesman for the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.
“The people are not at risk but it is not possible to work in these conditions. The ice may disintegrate so a decision has been taken to evacuate” the station, he told AFP.
The station was located at 81 degrees North and 135 degrees West as of early morning Wednesday.
Scientists point to increasing signs of global warming in the Arctic, which is being significantly affected by climate change.
The UN weather agency said this month that the Arctic’s sea ice melted at a record pace in 2012, the ninth-hottest year on record.
Vladimir Sokolov, who oversees the floating station at the Saint Petersburg-based Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, said the ice was disintegrating due to climate change.
“This has made the Arctic research significantly harder — the ice has become thinner and the weather conditions more difficult,” he told AFP.
He said it was important to continue studying the Arctic.
“The Arctic Ocean, just like the Antarctic, is the ‘refrigerator’ of the Earth. It significantly affects the climate of our planet.”
“If this ‘refrigerator’ has a glitch and we do not know about it, it leads to mistakes in forecasts and affects the quality of decision-making on entire territories.”
Russia, which has always prided itself on its exploration of the energy-rich region, established the first floating station, the North Pole-1, in 1937.
Funding for floating stations dried up after the collapse of the Soviet Union but resumed under strongman Vladimir Putin who has said Russia intends to expand its presence in the Arctic.
The first floating Arctic station of post-Soviet Russia, the North Pole-32, was put together in 2003. The crew of that station had to be rescued when the ice floe beneath it broke up in 2004.
At a meeting with the crew of the rescued North Pole-32 station, President Putin stressed the importance of the Arctic research.
“For us, for such a northern country like Russia communications in the North are very important both economically and militarily,” Putin said in 2004.
Russia alarmed its Arctic neighbours, including Canada and Norway, when it planted a flag on the ocean floor under the North Pole in 2007 in a symbolic staking of its claim over the region.
The five Arctic nations that also include Denmark and the United States are locked in a tight race to gather evidence to support their claims amid reports that global warming could leave the region ice-free by 2030.
- Russians have proven a land invasion of Canada is feasible by driving over the North Pole (nextbigfuture.com)
- Arctic expedition to study impact of climate change on plankton (guardian.co.uk)
- Annals Of Global Warming: The Imminent Arctic Fishery (timzimmermann.com)
- India Ink: India Arrives at the Arctic (india.blogs.nytimes.com)
- MAY 20, 2013 6 MPH amphibious trucks (newjerusalemcoming.wordpress.com)
- Melting Arctic requires global action (nation.com.pk)
- Russia to evacuate Arctic station over melting ice (arunbabyveranakunnel.wordpress.com)