Archive for ‘Animals’

Malians mobilise to protect dwindling elephants

Monday, July 5th, 2010
A desert elephant walks in the north of Mali, known as the Gourma area. Inhabitants of the Gourma region of Mali have organized vigilante brigades, and even attached global positioning systems (GPS) on the pachyderms to protect them from poachers in the region.

A desert elephant walks in the north of Mali, known as the Gourma area. Inhabitants of the Gourma region of Mali have organized vigilante brigades, and even attached global positioning systems (GPS) on the pachyderms to protect them from poachers in the region.

Ali Ag Rhissa, a young Touareg nomad, sits in his tent, his gun ready, on the frontline of one of Mali’s battles — protecting its majestic but dwindling herds of desert elephants.

Faced with the dual threat of drought and poachers, the elephant population has almost halved in recent decades.

But help is at hand from local people in northern Mali, who have started to form conservation brigades to ward off poachers and protect the animal from extinction.

Between 1972 and 1974 there were 550 elephants in the Gourma region, now there are no more than 354. In June alone, severe drought killed 21 of the animals.

The elephants of the Gourma are the biggest in Africa and are tempting quarry for poachers, both for their ivory tusks and their meat, which is popular in neighbouring countries.

“When we hear the sound of a vehicle, we get ready to make sure the poachers can’t settle here and kill our elephants,”

said Rhissa, who lives in a tent with his wife and three children in Banzena, near Timbuktu.

“We take precautionary measures. In this no elephants have been victims of poaching since we organised our protection brigades,”

said Bakary Kame, a water and forestry ranger.

“But you can never be too careful,”

added Kame, who had a rifle slung across his back.

According to official statistics, 50 percent of the elephants in the Gourma are adult females, with 11 per cent male adults, 26 percent young and 11 percent “very old”.

Gourma elephants are the only nomadic elephants in the world and the only ones that live in the desert apart from a group in Namibia.

Every year, they migrate hundreds of kilometres (miles) along the southern edge of the Sahara towards the border with Burkina Faso and back again in search of food and water.

Each one consumes up to 250 kilograms (500 pounds) of vegetation per day, and can suck up 10 litres in every trunkful of water.

They leave huge footprints close to a metre (three feet) deep when they trek across the barren landscape.

“To protect them from poachers, we have placed GPS chips in collars around the necks of some of the elephants. This way, we know where they are all the time,”

said Biramou Sissoko, the national coordinator for the government programme to conserve the elephants and biodiversity in the Gourma.

The government of Mali is taking steps to protect the elephants. Efforts are being made to educate local people about the plight of the animals, while legislation is also being drawn up to combat poaching.

The conservation action plan has been launched to protect the elephants’ ecosystem, and “biodiversity co-ordinators” are being appointed under Sissoko.

“Our role is to educate, and raise awareness of the damage done by poachers and the destruction of the environment,”

said Amadou Bore, one of the co-ordinators.

“Whoever comes here to take the tusks of elephants will find instead our own tusks — our rifles,” he said.

Source: Malians mobilise to protect dwindling elephants – france24

Date: 05 July 2010

Starvation, thirst kill many antelope in Jodhpur

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

The antelope, including chinkaras and black bucks, continue to die at regular intervals in the arid region of Jodhpur and Barmer. This has been primarily attributed to starvation and thirst, say sources On Saturday, the members of the Bishnoi Tiger Vanya Evam Paryavaran Sanstha, brought the carcasses of 25 chinkaras from Dhawa village at the office of deputy forest conservator (wildlife).

According to the general secretary of the organization, Ram NiwasBudhnagar, some 60-70 antelope, the major portion of which are theblack bucks, have died in the past 5-6 days due to acute shortage of water and fodder. He claimed they kept drinking the brackish water due to which their stomach got swollen as they could not digest their food and died a slow and painful death.

He blamed the forest department for this situation for it had “brazenly relied upon the monsoon rains.”

Budhnagar said, “We have demanded the present DFO be removed from office for failing to bring relief to the antelope.”

All these antelope were found dead in such villages like Bhawanda, Dhawa, Satlana, Dhundhara and Bhacharan etc. A medical team had visited a village and conducted post-mortem of six black bucks which confirmed their death from starvation and thirst.

According to experts, these animals are very shy in nature and due to the presence of stray dogs in the vicinity of water holes they fear to go there and prefer to remain thirsty, which lead to death.

Source: Starvation, thirst kill many antelope in Jodhpur - timesofindia.indiatimes

Date: 04 July 2010

Small mammals at risk as world warms

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

The biodiversity of small mammals in North America may already be close to a “tipping point” causing impacts “up and down the food chain” according to a new study by U.S. scientists.

Examining fossils excavated from a cave in Northern California, biologists from Stanford University, California uncovered evidence that small mammal populations were severely depleted during the last episode of global warming around 12,000 years ago.

The research, which was recently published in the science journal, Nature, underlines the effects climate change could have on all types of biodiversity, not just the “eye-catching species.”

“The temperature change over the next hundred years is expected to be greater than the temperature that most of the mammals that are on the landscape have yet witnessed as a species,” Hadly said in a statement.

“The small-mammal community that we have is really resilient, but it is headed toward a perturbation that is bigger than anything it has seen in the last million years.” she added.

Source: Small mammals at risk as world warms – CNN

Date: 26 May 2010

30,000 kinds of plants, 5,000 animals threatened with extinction, disappear one kind per hour

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Habitat destruction, over-exploitation of resources, environmental quality degradation and invasive species are causing the extinction of species “Disaster Quartet”, and human activity is the current large-scale loss of biological diversity, the main reason. At present, the world’s biological species is the rate per hour and one kind of disappearing, there are around 34,000 kinds of plants and more than 5200 kinds of animals threatened with extinction. This is from May 22 in Beijing at the “International Biodiversity Day” campaign on the public informed of.

Biodiversity is the formation of biological and ecological environment and the associated complex of the various ecological processes combined. Extinction of wild species, local extinction range, subspecies and ecocide are common forms of biodiversity loss. According to statistics, about 36.3% of species threatened with extinction, more than half of China’s mammal numbers have drastically declined.

At present, protection of biodiversity has attracted nationwide attention, as global co-operation, the main channels, including in situ and ex situ. Among them, the in situ conservation of biological diversity in the establishment of nature reserves is the most effective protection.

Source: 3万种植物5千种动物濒临灭绝 每小时消失1种 – xinhuanet, Science and Technology Daily

Date: 25 May 2010

Mammoths contributed to global warming with methane emissions

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Together with other large plant-eating mammals that are now extinct, they released around 9.6 million tonnes of the gas each year, experts estimated.

When the ”megafauna” disappeared there was a dramatic fall in atmospheric methane which may have altered the climate.

Analysis of gases trapped in ice cores suggests that the loss of animal emissions accounted for a large amount of the decline.

”The changes in methane concentration at this time seem to be unique,” said the researchers, writing in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. The scientists, led by Dr Felisa Smith from the University of New Mexico in the US, pointed out that a ”cold event” hit the Earth at about the same time that methane levels plunged.

”Our calculation suggest that decreased methane emissions caused by the extinction of New World megafauna could have played a role..” they wrote.

Source: Mammoths contributed to global warming with methane emissions – Telegraph.co.uk

Date: 24 May 2010

Mammoths contributed to global warming with methane emissions

Quarter of UK’s endangered species ‘declining despite government action’

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

The Government is part of an international treaty to stop global biodiversity loss by 2010 in order to protect hundreds of endangered species like the bumblebee, common toad and house sparrow.

But an official report, published quietly this week by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) discloses that 88 species are continuing to decline such as sky larks, pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly, fen orchid, freshwater pearl mussel and black grouse.

Of the 370 species identified as under threat only half are stable or increasing meaning the rest are in decline or there is simply not enough data. This includes wild asparagus, great yellow bumblebee, basking shark, lady’s slipper orchid and capercaillie.

Since 1994 when the UK first drew up its ‘Biodiversity Action Plan’ to stop species loss, it is thought 19 species have gone extinct, mostly insects and lichens but also the greater mouse-eared bat and colourful Ivell’s sea anemone.

Conservationists have pointed out that other species which are not including in the original action plan are also suffering including hedgehogs, wildcats and cuckoos.

Source: Quarter of UK’s endangered species ‘declining despite government action’ – Telegraph

Date: 22 May 2010

Third of plants and animals ‘at risk of extinction’

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

While Western countries are increasingly aware of the need to protect endangered species, the developing world’s appetite for raw materials is destroying vulnerable ecosystems. Population growth, pollution and the spread of Western-style consumption are also blamed for hitting plant and animal populations.

Species at risk include the fishing cat, as its wetland habitats in India, Pakistan and southeast Asia are converted for agriculture. Maritime ecosystems are under particular threat, with the south Asian river dolphin among the species whose numbers have plummeted due to damming and overfishing.

The latest report — the third edition of the UN’s Global Biodiversity Outlook — is based on data obtained from studies in more than 120 countries across the world.

It builds on recent work for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which showed that 21 per cent of all known mammals, 30 per cent of amphibians and 35 per cent of invertebrates are threatened with extinction.

Speaking in advance of the report, Ahmed Djoghlaf, who heads the Convention on Biological Diversity, said that countries had failed to honour pledges to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss.

He said:

“The magnitude of the damage [to ecosystems] is much bigger than previously thought. The rate of extinction is currently running at 1,000 times the natural historical background rate of extinction.“

He added:

“It’s a problem if we continue this unsustainable pattern of production and consumption. If the 9 billion people predicted to be with us by 2050 were to have the same lifestyle as Americans, we would need five planets.“

Source: Third of plants and animals ‘at risk of extinction’ – Telegraph UK

Date: 9 May 2010

World needs ‘bailout plan’ for species loss: International Union for Conservation of Nature

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Facing what many scientists say is the sixth mass extinction in half-a-billion years, our planet urgently needs a “bailout plan” to protect its biodiversity, a top conservation group said Thursday.

Failure to stem the loss of animal and plant species will have dire consequences on human well-being, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warned.

“The gap between the pressure on our natural resources and governments’ response to the deterioration is widening,”

said Bill Jackson, the group’s deputy director, calling for a 10-year strategy to reverse current trends.

By ignoring the urgent need for action we stand to pay a much higher price in the long term than the world can afford,”

he said in a statement.

A fifth of mammals, 30 percent of amphibians, 12 percent of known birds, and more than a quarter of reef-building corals — the livelihood cornerstone for 500 million people in coastal areas — face extinction, according to the IUCN’s benchmark Red List of Threatened Species.

“This year we have a one-off opportunity to really bring home to the world the importance of the need to save nature for all life on Earth,”

said Jane Smart, head of the IUCN’s Biodiversity Conservation Group.

If we don’t come up with a big plan now, the planet will not survive,

she said.

The IUCN draws together more than 1,000 government and NGO organisations, and 11,000 volunteer scientists from about 160 countries.

Source: World needs ‘bailout plan’ for species loss: International Union for Conservation of Nature – France24

Date: 6 May 2010

Three of the thresholds for key environmental processes set by scientists have been exceeded

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Scientists have set thresholds for key environmental processes that, if crossed, could threaten Earth’s habitability. Ominously, three of the thresholds -  biodiversity loss, nitrogen pollution, and concentration of carbon dioxide – have already been exceeded.

Although climate change gets ample attention, species loss and nitrogen pollution exceed safe limits by greater degrees. Other environmental processes are also headed toward dangerous levels.

Promptly switching to low-carbon energy sources, curtailing land clearing and revolutionizing agricultural practices are crucial to making human life on Earth more sustainable.

Source: Boundaries for a Healthy Planet – Scientific American Magazine

Date: April 2010

Cancer strikes animals due to environmental pollution, which may affect human health

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

In 1996, Dr. Frances Gulland, the director of veterinary science at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, and colleagues at the University of California, Davis, found that a striking 18 percent of deaths in stranded adult sea lions were the result of tumors in the reproductive and urinary tracts. Scientists also found that about 18 percent of dead beluga whales stranded in Canada’s St. Lawrence River had intestinal tumors or other cancers that were linked to industrial pollutants. Fish in contaminated waters have tumors, but not those in clean water. Dogs that are exposed to herbicides from chemically treated lawns have more cancers than those that are not.

The plight of sea lions will affect humans, since they “eat a lot of the same things we do,” said Dr. Gulland.

Source: Cancer Kills Many Sea Lions, and Its Cause Remains a Mystery – The New York Times

Date: Published: 4 March 2010

Source: Cancer in Pets, Wildlife and Fish – care2.com

Date: 10 March 2009

Source: Cancer Strikes Sea Lions – care2.com

Date: 10 March 2010

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