1 Tahrcountry Musings: 2006

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Fur Seals Threatening Whales And Penguins?

Fur seals were once hunted almost to extinction. Careful conservation measures have helped the species to rebound. They have reached record levels - an estimated four million worldwide. This has however led to fears that soon there may be too little food in the Southern Ocean to enable the area's other wildlife - whales and penguins - to survive. The key is Krill. It is feared that the spurt in the population of Seals is denying other wildlife proper access to Krill. Conservationists believe that if the present trend continues we may have to think of culling Fur Seals in the immediate future.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Christmas Eve News

A Giant Panda in a Japanese zoo (Adventure World in Wakayama) has given birth to twins bringing cheer to conservationists around the world. This brings the no of ex situ births this year to 30. The sex of the cubs is yet to be confirmed. Mei Mei, the mother, 12, and her breeding partner Eimei, 14, are both on loan from China. An estimated 1,590 Giant Pandas live in the wild in China

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cornucopia Of New Species

Scientists have discovered 52 new species of plants and animals in Borneo. The find includes catfish glyptothorax exodon with protruding teeth and suction cups on its belly, which help it, stick to rocks in fast flowing streams. Since 1994, 361 new species have been found in Borneo. The island shared by Indonesia, Malaysia and the sultanate of Brunei, is emerging as one of the most important biodiversity centers of the world but unfortunately the rain forest continues to be threatened with large areas of forest being destroyed for rubber, oil palm and pulp production.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Fish That Dance On Molten Sulpher Ponds

Researchers from the University of Victoria, Canada, have come across tonguefish that like to skip across pools of molten sulphur of undersea volcanoes in the western Pacific. The measured temperature is more than 180C (355F). The fish live on the edge of the pools, and in a couple of cases the scientists saw them out on the surface of a pool. The fish have been studied with remotely operated submersibles. The phenomenon has amazed the scientists and they are trying to work out how the creatures survive in such a hostile environment.

Friday, December 15, 2006

220-Million Year Old Microbes

Scientists have discovered in tiny drops of ancient amber, 220-million-year-old microscopic organisms. The amber was found near Cortina d'Ampezzo, a village in the Dolomites mountain range in northern Italy.The find has been described in this week's edition of the journal Nature by Alexander Schmidt and colleagues from the Humboldt University

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Albatrosses And Weather Research

A team of scientists at the University of California-Santa Cruz headed by Dr Scott Schaffer is using Albatrosses to gather huge numbers of sea-surface temperature readings in the North Pacific. The birds are equipped with small data loggers that track their movements and record water conditions. According to Dr Scott Schaffer the project will bring in details missed by satellites, and in the process give important new insights into the behaviour of Albatrosses. Nineteen of the 21 albatross species are threatened with extinction. The Albatross conservation initiatives are sure to get boost as a spin-off of this project.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Mongolian Wildlife In Peril

According to a report by Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Illegal hunting and trade is pushing some Mongolian animals like the snow leopard, Saiga antelope, wild camel, and Gobi bear to the brink of extinction. The report is part of the preparation of the first comprehensive Red List for Mongolian mammals. Unprecedented international trade in species is another reason attributed to the decline. Unlike other areas where loss of habitat has led to declines in species, the threat in Mongolia is hunting. ZSL has called for immediate legislation and other protection measures to stem this tide.

Monday, December 11, 2006

International Mountain Day And IUCN

December 11th is International Mountain Day, a day to reflect on the people who are directly affected by ecosystem degradation and climate change: mountain communities. IUCN is undertaking several initiatives for mountain peoples and ecosystems to adapt to global change. IUCN is also promoting Integrated Water Resource Management that entails democratic water governance from the watershed up to the regional level. For example, in Quito, Ecuador, part of the household water bill pays for conservation and compensates farmers in the Páramo - the highland natural grasslands that are important to water regulation. IUCN is also working in the Hindu Kush-Karakoram-Himalaya region to integrate ecosystem management in regional development and conservation processes. The whole idea is to give communities some control over their natural resources, and receive direct and indirect benefits from their conservation, so as to improve their living conditions and ensure the long-term delivery of ecosystem services.

For more info log onto www.iucn.org/themes/cem/ecosystems/mountains/

Friday, December 08, 2006

Indonesia - Greenpeace Activists Dump Logging Waste At The Door Of Logging Company.

Greenpeace activists have poured a truckload of logging waste at the office of Kayu Lapis Indonesia (KLI) one of the country's largest logging companies. This was in protest against destroying large parts of the last ancient forest in Papua and Kalimantan. Green Peace says deforestation rates in Indonesia were among the highest in the world and in the past five years the archipelago nation had lost an average area equivalent to six football fields a minute. 40 percent of its forests have been completely destroyed.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Provisions of CITES Not Adequately Utilized In Combating Illegal Logging

A new report published by TRAFFIC says, CITES, the Convention on the International Trade on Endangered Species is not being used to its full potential in combating illegal logging. The report gives several recommendations that could help combat illegal logging and promote international co-operation. To download your personal copy of the full TRAFFIC International report titled The Role of CITES in Combating Illegal Logging – Current and Potential’ click here

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

City Birds Trying Out Music Variations

A team of researchers from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands has found that urban species of birds sing short, fast songs rather than the slower melodies of countryside birds. This is an adaptation to counter background noise and increase their chances of finding a mate. The researchers targeted great tits in ten major European cities, including London, Paris, Amsterdam and Prague, and compared them to forest-dwellers. Urban tits consistently experimented with between one and five note calls, while those in forests close to the cities stuck to more normal combinations of two, three and four note tunes. One Rotterdam great tit attempted a 16-note song, which the researchers believe could have been copied from a blue tit. The findings are published in the current issue of journal Current Biology

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Rainforest Protection-Good News From Brazil

15 million hectares (57,915 sq miles) of Rain Forests in the northern Para state, Brazil, is getting the status of protected area bringing cheer to conservationists the world over. The decline in Amazon forest area has been a worrying feature.A host of wild denizens inhabit the proposeed conservation reserve including the Jaguars, anteaters, Giant Otters and Black Spider Monkey. Conservationists are hailing this visionary decision by Para Governor Simao Jatene.

Monday, December 04, 2006

River Salmon Bounces Back

20 years back acid rains had completely wiped out River Salmon in Wye River in mid Wales. Now they are returning owing to the successful conservation measures. Lime was added to water in the upper reaches of the river to help neutralise the chemical's impact and this has encouraged fish to breed again. The process has been going on since 2003 but it was only recently that fishes started breeding again. The partners in this venture are Wye and Usk Foundation, the European Union, Welsh Assembly Government, Environment Agency and Countryside Council for Wales.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Good Initiatives For Migratory Birds

The recently launched a project to protect the migratory flyways of water birds throughout Africa and Eurasia under the aegis of UN is the best thing that could have happened to migratory birds. The project christened Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) is the largest international wetland and water bird conservation initiative ever to take place in the African-Eurasian region. The USD 12 million project is designed to cover the entire African-Eurasian area, including Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago. The project will help foster international collaboration along the entire flyways, build capacity for monitoring and conservation, and demonstrate best practice in the conservation and wise use of wetlands in 12 selected countries.

Friday, December 01, 2006

New Discoveries In Venezuela

13 new species of freshwater fishes previously unknown to science have been discovered at the confluence of the Orinoco and Ventuari rivers in Venezuela. The discovery includes a Ray, a miniature Catfish and a type of meat-eating Piranha. The area is notorious for illegal gold mining, which is a threat to the ecosystem here. Scientists from Conservation International, Fundacion La Salle and Fundacion Cisneros participated in the survey. The scientists have appealed for immediate conservation measures.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

US Supreme Court To Hear Global Warming Case

Even though the US, with 5 per cent of the world’s population, is responsible for 25 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and accounts for 37 per cent of the world’s vehicles the administration has repeatedly refused to agree to limits on emissions, saying it would damage the economy. Now resorting to a piece of legislation enacted during the Nixon years, twelve states led by Massachusetts and 13 campaign groups have brought a case against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the supreme court. The EPA says the 1970 Act does not give it the powers to impose limits because CO2 is not deemed to be a pollutant. Industry groups go with the view of EPA that hat CO2 is a naturally occurring gas, thereby falling outside the purview of the law. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case, known as Massachusetts verses EPA, in June 2007.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Big Boost For The Protection Of Rare Song Bird

Protection strategies for Europe's rarest songbird, the aquatic warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola), is getting a shot in the arm following a deal to protect a key breeding site. UK's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) part-funded the purchase of land in Poland's Biebrza Marshes which support 80% of the European Union's population. It is the first time in the society's 117-year history that it has secured land outside of the UK.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Snow leopard fitted with GPS tag

For the first time, a team 0f scientist from the Snow Leopard Trust, the Northwest Frontier Province Wildlife Department of Pakistan and WWF-Pakistan has fitted a snow leopard with a Global Positioning System (GPS) collar to track the secretive creature's movements. The 35kg (75lb) female was captured on the Purdum Mali ridge in Pakistan in the Chitral Gol National Park in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The collar will stay attached to the animal for 14 months. The best spin off from this project is that it will tell us how much space a snow leopard needs. This will aid in devising suitable conservation strategies. The scientists hope to to tag more animals in the days to come.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Shocking-Zoo Poisons Lions

Ethiopia’s Lion Zoo is poisoning lion cubs and selling the corpses to be stuffed because it cannot afford to feed them. The dead cubs are sold to taxidermists for $175 each. The zoo costs about $4000 a month to run, but receives only $3500 as total revenues from entrance fees. Ethiopia's lions, which are smaller than other lions, are famous for their black manes. Less than 1000 are believed to exist in the wild now. Kenya-based International Fund for Animal Welfare said this is cruel and the zoo should prevent the animals from breeding if it could not care for them.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Threat For Barn Swallows.

Three million barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) are under threat of losing valuable roosting habitat in South Africa. The numbers represent more than 1% of the global population of Barn Swallows. A proposed airport development in South Africa is threatening the winter roosting sites of three million Barn Swallows that journey there after spending breeding months in countries across Europe and other parts of the world. The developments are meant to meet the demands of hosting World Cup 2010. Bird Life South Africa is objecting to the development and propose that the site be turned into a protected area.

SARS-Civet Cat Link Proved

A joint China-Hong Kong research team has discovered a genetic link between SARS in civet cats and humans. The research project was jointly conducted by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the Guangzhou Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and Hong Kong University. The research has conclusively proved that SARS coronavirus found in human victims is the same as the SARS coronavirus found in civet cats. The civet cat is a delicacy in Southern China.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Return Of Dormice Brings Cheer To Conservationists

The loss of habitat had led to steep drop of Dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius) in Britain. The efforts to stem this tide are coming to fruition. Reintroduction trials in Linconshire are on way to success. Dormice are good indicators of the environment's health. Common dormice may spend up to three quarters of their life asleep. They hibernate to conserve energy when food is scarce. . Dormice breed once or twice a year, with four being the typical size of a litter. They can live for as long as five years. Little is known about their social behaviour.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel Makes Headway

The first meeting of the new Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel and Sakhalin Energy Investment Company, which was convened by IUCN the World Conservation Union, recently, has come up with some firm proposals. Decisions on how to tackle oil spill prevention and response and the way ahead with a photographic identification programme for the Western Gray Whale are amongst the outcomes of the first meeting. In addition to the panel members, IUCN representatives, and officials from Sakhalin Energy, observers from financial institutions and environmental NGOs attended the meeting.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Indonesia To Curb Illegal Logging –Good News For Orangutans

Indonesia and United States has signed a pact to help stop illegal logging in Indonesia, habitat for most of the world's orangutans and many other endangered species. About 70 to 80 percent of logging in Indonesia is done illegally. United States has committed an initial US$1 million to fund supporting projects to stop illegal timber harvests. The projects include remote sensing of illegal logging activities and working with conservation groups. An estimated 7,000 to 7,500 orangutans living on the Indonesian island of Sumatra have been identified as critically endangered by IUCN the World Conservation Union. The island of Borneo, which is shared by Indonesia and Malaysia, is home to more than three-quarters of the world's remaining 50,000 to 60,000 orangutan

Saturday, November 18, 2006

World's Rarest Big Cat Captured

Scientists have captured what is believed to be the rarest big cat on Earth, the Far Eastern leopard(Panthera pardus orientalis) in the remote forests of southeastern Russia. The bonanza occurred while the scientists of the New York based Wildlife Conservation Society were studying Siberian Tigers. Only 30 animals are thought to survive in the wild. The scientists did a thorough series of tests on the leopard, from studying its teeth to collecting sperm samples, before releasing the animal back into the wild. Scientists hope that the information gained will help them to devise appropriate conservation measures.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

2006 Reuters-IUCN Media Award Presented

The 2006 Reuters-IUCN Media Award for Excellence in Environmental Reporting goes to Marina Walker Guevara of Argentina for her story “The children of lead” (Los ni?os del plomo). The Awards Ceremony was held at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Nairobi; Kenya.Walker Guevara was presented with the USD 5,000 prize. The reporting brings to life the moving story of Mischell Barzola, a six year-old girl from La Oroya, Peru, who has stopped growing because of lead contamination. "Los Niños del Plomo" also highlights the dilemma of the 4,000 families whose livelihoods depend on the lead industry, even though it threatens the health of their own children. Walker Guevara currently works as a reporter for the Center for Public Integrity, an investigative reporting organization in Washington, DC.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Orangutans In Dire Straits After Indonesian Bush Fires

Fires on the island of Borneo have killed up to 1,000 orangutans. The fires have been raging across central Borneo for months. There has been severe erosion of Orangutans habitat in recent years for making oil palm plantations. This means there are few places for them to go to avoid the fires. Local people have killed several animal that entered oil palm plantations. This is a Very sorry state of affairs for one of the world’s most adorable animal. Environmentalists have blamed farmers and logging companies clearing land for oil palm plantations for this predicament

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Balkan lynx Needs Urgent Attention

According to conservationists, urgent attention is needed to save the reclusive Balkan lynx. Only around 100 of the big cats are thought to remain in existence. The largest numbers are found in the remote hills of western FYR Macedonia, where they are considered a national symbol. They are also found in Albania, Serbia and Greece. The main problem according to conservationists is that major chunk of Albania's formerly dense forests, the lynx's preferred habitat, had been cut down for firewood and were now used for grazing. Efforts are on to reverse this trend.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Maligned Dingo Has Vital Ecosystem Role

The Dingo (Canis lupus dingo) is a much-maligned animal in Australia particularly in sheep rearing areas. Sheep farmers attempt to completely eliminate them as they prey on sheep. Poison is the most common method of controlling dingo populations. Now research carried out by Professor Chris Johnson of James Cook University in Queensland shows that Australia's last native "top predator" perform an essential role in maintaining biodiversity He has found that marsupial populations have a much better chance in areas that also have stable populations of dingoes. In cattle country, by and large, dingoes will hunt kangaroos or rabbits. They also keep fox and feral cat numbers in check, say researchers. The findings are reported in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Breeding success for rare lizards

Cayman blue iguana (Cyclura lewisi) is one of the critically endangered species in the world. The wild population of blue iguanas is expected to be extinct within 10 years. There is however new hope on the horizon. Three eggs laid by a Grand Cayman blue iguana that had been released into a nature reserve on the Caribbean island have successfully hatched. Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. UK Is heading this successful captive breeding and release programme

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Rare bats discovered in gold mine

The greater horseshoe bat, a very rare bat facing extinction threat has been discovered at the National Trust’s Dolaucothi Gold Mines in Carmarthenshire, south Wales,England. The name horseshoe bat comes from the distinctive horseshoe-shaped plate of skin around the nostrils of this bat. It is in a highly endangered state in Britain and the rest of northern Europe. The discovery in a new site is encouraging according to Carmarthenshire Bat Group, which regularly monitors the birds.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Reuters-IUCN Environmental Media Awards Announce Regional Winners

Reuters Foundation and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) have announced the regional winners of the 2006 Reuters-IUCN Media Awards for Excellence in Environmental Reporting. The six regional winners will receive a trophy at the ceremony co-hosted by Reuters and IUCN on 14 November 2006 in Nairobi, Kenya.The recipients will vie for the global prize of US$ 5,000.

This year’s regional winners competing for the global prize are:

Asia: Richard Stone and Hawk Jia of Science Magazine

English-speaking Africa and the Middle East: Anjam Sundaram of Associated Press

Europe: John Bohannon of Science Magazine

Francophone Africa: Dalia Abdel-Salam of Al Ahram Hebdo

Latin America: Marina Walker of Revista GatoPardo

North America, Oceania & the Caribbean: Sara Philips of Cosmos Magazine

Monday, October 23, 2006

North Sea Cod Fish At Alarmingly Low Level

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (Ices) has said in its latest report that stocks of cod remained below sustainable limits in North Sea. Stocks have been reduced to a stage where productivity has been impaired. ICES have recommended that a total ban should be in force till 2007. The minimum desired level is 70000 thousand Tons. Ideally it should be 1500000 Tons.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Extinction Threat For Congo hippos

According to researchers from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), poaching has brought the hippopotamus population in Democratic Republic of Congo to within a few months of extinction. Mai Mai militia, which has set up camp in Virunga National Park, is catching the animals for meat and ivory. The numbers now are below 400. Twenty years ago there were about 22,000 hippos in Virunga Park.

Hi guys I am back on the net

For the past couple of months I was virtually on my toes as one of the organisers of the 4th World Congress on Mountain Ungulates held at Munnar,Kerala,India. The event was well attended and was a huge success. After the event I was in to the wrap up.Now I am a free bird and expect to resume my regular postings.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Single Fish Species Controls Health Of Tropical River

Scientists have discovered that removing just one fish species from a tropical river can have deleterious effects. This contradicts the till now held belief that the greater abundance and diversity of other species would compensate for the loss. Researchers removed the flannelmouth fish (Prochilodus mariae) from a stretch of Venezuela's Orinoco River and measured how this affected the level of carbon in the ecosystem. The researchers found that the river's carbon cycle was disrupted within 48 hours of them removing the fish. The effect lasted for at least 40 days. The amount of organic carbon on the riverbed rose by 450 per cent. Full details appear in Science today (11 August).

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Environmental Crisis in Lebanon

Oil pollution in Lebanese coastal waters following Israel bombing has created an environmental crisis in Lebanon. International organisations are assisting the Lebanese government as it attempts to contain thousands of tonnes of oil believed to be on a scale during the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker incident in Alaska. The spill could be well over 35,000 tonnes endangering marine wildlife and posing a threat to the livelihood of thousands of people.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Scientists Solve Flying Reptile Mystery

The crest on the head of prehistoric flying reptiles was a puzzle for the scientists. Now UK scientists say they have resolved the mystery. A rare skull specimen found in Brazil shows the crest appeared at puberty, suggesting it was used to attract attention from the opposite sex. Dr Naish and colleague Dr David Martill who led the study examined the skull and found that the crest was different in the juvenile.Dr Naish said This is a significant find as it links the growth of the crest to physical maturity and therefore presumably to sex. The findings are published in the journal Palaeontology

Friday, July 21, 2006

Tiger Habitat Down By 40%

According to a comprehensive study just concluded, Tiger habitat is down by 40% from what they were a decade ago. WWF, Wildlife Conservation Society, the Smithsonian society, National Zoological Park and Save The Tiger Fund did the study. The study has identified 76 “tiger conservation landscapes”, places that have the best chance of supporting viable tiger populations into the future. The largest tiger landscapes exist in the Russian Far East and India. The conservation groups warn that it is critical to also address poaching of tigers along with the efforts at preserving tiger habitats.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Chinese Panda Sanctuary Gets World Heritage Status

The Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries in southwestern China has been named a World Heritage site by the United Nations. Out of the 1,600 Giant Pandas that are left in the wild,30% lives here. The move brings cheer to the conservationists who have been clamouring for this for many years.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Taiwanese authorities seize Illegal ivory

Taiwanese authorities have confiscated more than five tonnes of ivory in the southern port city of Kaohsiung Harbour. The seizure weighed a total of 3,026kg. The illegal consignment originated from Tanzania and was destined for Manila, the Philippines. Asian and African elephants are listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), which prohibits all commercial trade in these species. Environmentalists have urged Taiwanese authorities to link up with the ASEAN-WEN( Association of South-east Asian nations Wildlife Enforcement Network), as well as at the source in Tanzania, to ensure follow-up investigations.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

West African black rhino feared extinct

The West African black (Diceros bicornis longipes) is now feared extinct. This is according to new estimates announced by the African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG) of the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission. An intensive survey earlier this year of the West African black rhino has failed to locate any sign of their continued presence in their last refuges in northern Cameroon. AfRSG chairman Dr Martin Brooks said “this subspecies has been tentatively declared as extinct”

Friday, July 07, 2006

Scientists Unravel Mammoth Coat Colour

Scientists have determined the coat colour of mammoths that roamed the Earth thousands of years ago. The information came from a 43,000-year-old woolly mammoth bone from Siberia using the latest genetic techniques. The animals would have sported dark brown coats. Dr Michael Hofreiter from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany, led the study. Details of the study appear in the latest issue of journal Science.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

World Conservation Union Recommends Three New World Heritage Sites

Based on a rigorous yearlong evaluation process, World Conservation Union has recommended for inscription on the World Heritage List 3 new sites. The sites are China ’s Giant Panda Sanctuaries, the species rich Pacific waters surrounding Colombia ’s Malpelo Island, and the uplifting Kvarken Archipelago of Finland. World Heritage Committee will take decisions next week at its 30th session in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Friday, June 30, 2006

New Discoveries In Juruena National Park, Brazil

Scientists from Brazil's National Institute for Amazon Research and the Amazonas Secretariat for the Environment and Sustainable Development have discovered two new frogs, fish and bird species, one tree species and one primate. Covering 1.9 million hectares, the establishment of the Juruena National Park is part of ongoing efforts by the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) Programme, a large-scale conservation programme aimed at creating and supporting a system of well-managed protected areas and sustainable natural resource management reserves in the Amazon.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Efforts on To Rescue Yangtze River dolphin From The Brink

Yangtze River dolphin ( Lipotes vexillifer) in China is probably the world's most endangered mammal. Recent surveys found only 17 living individuals.Efforts are on to rescue this dolphin from the brink. It's been suggested that the only way to save them from dying out is to set up a closely monitored breeding population under semi-natural breeding conditions. A reserve will be set up in oxbow lake. Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has mooted the plan. It is going to be a very expensive proposition. ZSL and its collaborating organisations anticipate the endorsement of their plan, and have started to look for funds. The rescue plan speaks of conducting five dolphin capture operations in the Yangtze within the next three years. Once enough stock has been established the Yangtze River will be restocked.

Monday, June 26, 2006

New National Park Established In Georgia

A new National Park named Mtirala National Park, covering 15,806 ha, has been established in the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia.The area harbours important species like lynx brown bear, Caucasian salamander, golden eagle, black vulture and falcon.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Exciting Bird Rediscovery In Manas National Park

The Manipur Bush- Quail last sighted 99 years ago has been rediscovered in Manas National Park,Assam,India.The rediscovery was made ornithologist Anwaruddin Chaudhary and the Park Dy Director Ritesh Bhattacharjee. The authentic reords of the last sighting was from Morni, Assam in 1905.An intensive survey has ben planned to obtain more details

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Three New Lemurs Discovered In Madagascar

Madagascar is famous for its well over 70 species of lemurs, primitive primates which are distant relations to humanity. The formal announcement regarding the discovery of the three new species was made at a conservation conference on Wednesday in the Malagasy capital. The species have been named Microcebus mittermeieri, after Russell A. Mittermeier, the president of green group Conservation International and a renowned field primatologist, Microcebus jollyae, after Alison Jolly, a pioneering lemur researcher from Princeton University, and Microcebus simmonsi, after Dr. Lee Simmons, director of the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo in Nebraska.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sad day for the whales

20 Jun 2006
St Kitts and Nevis – Japan’s recruitment drive to bring pro-whaling, anti-conservation countries into the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has finally succeeded.

Pro-whaling countries obtained a narrow majority — 33 to 32, with one abstention from China — showing an abdication of responsibility by the global community, WWF said today at the 58th IWC meeting.

The vote for the so called “St Kitts and Nevis Declaration”, a non-legally binding statement asks for a “normalization” of the IWC — which according to Japan and its supporters — means it should return to its original 1946 mandate to regulate whaling, rather than concentrate also on conservation issues.

The St Kitts and Nevis Declaration also attempts to bring into question the scientific rationale for the global ban on whale hunting in 1986 and also slams non-governmental organizations. It also purports to give legitimacy to the scientifically invalid claim that whale populations are responsible for the decline of the world’s fisheries.

“We are saddened and disappointed that instead of building consensus on difficult issues, this declaration has brought both sides to the brink of open conflict," said Dr Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF’s Global Species Programme.

"WWF agrees that the IWC has serious deficiencies and needs modernization and reform, but this declaration takes the IWC in the wrong direction.”

This is the first time in decades that there has been a pro-whaling majority at the IWC.

"This is a shallow political victory for the whaling countries and their allies, and we hope this will be a wake up call to conservation-minded countries and peoples of the world, " added Dr Lieberman.

“At a critical juncture in conservation globally, when whales and other marine species are threatened by a range of threats, including climate change, bycatch, ship strikes, and other threats, it is sad to see the IWC moving backwards. We hope this is only temporary.”

Many of the countries that opposed the resolution stated for the record that they disassociated themselves from the declaration. Of the 17 European Union members to the IWC, only Denmark voted for the proposal.

There is no guarantee that other critical votes will be lost. The moratorium on whaling will stay in place as it needs a three-quarter majority to be overturned.

"Despite the moratorium staying in place for the time being, the IWC is poised on a knife edge between conserving whales and dolphins and returning to becoming a whalers' club," Lieberman said.

For further information:
Joanna Benn, Communications Manager
WWF Global Species Programme
Tel: +39 348 726 7313
(C)WWF - the environmental conservation organisation

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Japan defeated in new whaling bid

Japan was narrowly defeated in its attempt to lift the whaling ban. The tabled resolution at the International Whaling Commission's annual meeting in St Kitts was defeated by one vote. Certain delegates could not reach the site in time. There is a widespread view that the future of whales and dolphins should not be a political game of numbers.

World’s largest marine sanctuary

On the 15th of this month a chain of Hawaiian Islands became the largest marine sanctuary in the world. Total extent is 362,580-square-kilometer. The move follows a long campaign by Hawaiians and conservation groups. The area is home to Hawaiian monk seal, one of the world's rarest marine mammals. About 7,000 marine species live here, a quarter of which are found nowhere else.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

New Protected Areas Formed In Brazil

Brazilian government has announced the creation of new protected areas in the Amazon region totaling approximately 2.5 million ha. Amazon has the world's highest diversity of birds and freshwater fish, as well as the planet's largest rainforest, which is home to more than one third of all species. For an area that is severely threatened by illegal logging, slash-and-burn agriculture and other human activities this is a great boon. Environmentalist are rejoiced

Saturday, June 10, 2006

New Species of Hammerhead Shark Discovered

A new type of hammerhead shark has been discovered in US waters off the South Carolina coast. The shark has not yet been classified or named. Dr Joe Quattro, a biology professor at the University of South Carolina, discovered the shark. With only 454 recorded species of shark in the wild, this is an exciting discovery.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Herring Threatened In North Sea

Due to over fishing by Europe's trawler men, juvenile herring are not maturing properly in North Sea. International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) said serious reductions were needed in next year's catch. Herring populations form a continuous chain extending from the North Sea to the northernmost parts of the Baltic Sea.

Rare Species Of Millipede Thought To Be Extinct Makes Reappearance

The animal that has the most number of legs (Nearly1,000 legs) of any animal on the planet, thought to be extinct has made a comeback. This is the millipede Illacme plenipes. The species had not been seen since it was first spotted in a biodiversity hotspot in California in 1926. Paul Marek and Professor Jason Bond of East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina made the rediscovery. Full details can be accessed in the latest issue of Journal Nature

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Trigger for locust swarming identified

Researchers have identified the trigger that turns a motley assembly of locusts into a coordinated army capable of devastating vast expanses of crops and natural vegetation. The study by James Buhl and colleagues appear in the latest issue of Science Today. The crucial factor is a particular population density at which the insects fall into line with each other and begin to walk in the same direction. The researchers are now expanding their computer models to simulate the environments that the locusts live in and predict the behaviour of much larger swarms. This could help in predicting future attacks.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Albatrosses Being Pushed To The Brink Of Extinction

Research by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and BirdLife International has come up with the alarming finding that three species of Albatrosses on islands in the South Atlantic are being pushed to the brink of extinction. The species are the wandering, or great albatross, the black-browed albatross and the grey-headed albatross. The islands are critically important - for the wandering albatross. The main cause is mortality due to longline fishing on waters off South Africa and South America where the birds travel to feed. Up to 100,000 albatrosses a year drown on longline fishing hooks. RSPB and Birdlife International has called for urgent international intervention.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Poaching On The Increase In Nepal

The strife in Nepal has taken a heavy toll of wildlife. Field visits by WWF Nepal and park staff to sites inside the Bardia National Park found evidence of only three rhinos in the area, despite the translocation of more than 70 to the area since 1986. During the rhino survey, the team apprehended two armed poachers. The survey team confirmed the presence of three tigers in the Babai Valley, down from an estimate of 13 in 2001. Good news is that the ecosystem is still intact and if strong protection is given the wildlife will bounce back. Urgent protection strategies with emphasis on community involvement in protection is on the anvil

Ibrahim Thiaw Takes Over As Acting Director General of the World Conservation Union

Ibrahim Thiaw, the Director of the Union’s West Africa Office has been appointed as acting Director General of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) after the departure of Achim Steiner on 31 May 2006. Achim Steiner stepped down from the position of Director General to take up the post of Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, Kenya on 15 June 2006.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Frozen Global Seed Vault Planned

A frozen global seed vault to ensure diversity of food plants in the event of a catastrophe has been planned in a mountainside on the island of Svalbard 1,000 km from the North Pole. Norwegian government is spearheading this prestigious move on behalf of the international community. It will have space for three million seed varieties including rice, wheat, barley as well as fruits and vegetables. Power failures, natural disasters, wars or simply a lack of money can affect present day Gene banks. This will be the bulwark against all those imponderables.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Grim Prospect For River Dolphins In Nepal

Six months of field research conducted by WWF along Nepal’s longer river, the Karnali, has shown that river dolphin populations are more endangered than ever. River dolphins are one of the most endangered of all the world's cetaceans and are extremely vulnerable to extinction. Once abundant, the overall population of Gangetic river dolphins (Platanista gangetica) has been reduced to probably fewer than 100 in Nepal. Dr Chandra Gurung, WWF Nepal’s Country Representative says” “Dolphins in the Karnali face the threat of local extinction unless conservation efforts are stepped up immediately”. Habitat loss and hunting by humans are the main causes for the decline.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Next World Conservation Congress to be in Barcelona

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) Council today voted for Spain as the host country of the fourth World Conservation Congress in 2008. The Congress will be held in Barcelona in October 2008. Eleven countries had originally expressed interest in hosting the Congress. The finalists were Ethiopia and Spain.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Crackdown On Toxic Pesticides Help Endangered Bird Of Prey Bounce Back

Crackdown on toxic pesticides and concerted protection has helped a bird of prey to thrive throughout the UK, 35 years after it was on the brink of extinction. In 1971, just one pair of marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus) remained at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds' Minsmere reserve in Suffolk. By 2005, 360 breeding females were recorded in parts of eastern England, the Cambridgeshire Fens, Kent, Yorkshire, Lancashire and Scotland. Protection and augmentation of wetlands was an integral part of the drive to protect the bird. The future looks bright and environmentalists are a happy lot.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Reappearance Of The 'Extinct' Frog

Professor Carlos Rocha and a team of researchers from the Pedagogical and Technological University of Colombia (UPTC) in Boyac, have sighted a spectacular South American frog Atelopus ebenoides marinkellei which had been feared extinct for a decade. Conservation International supported the expedition. The discovery was made in a small remote region of Colombia. Red List of Threatened Species says of the painted frog that it "...has not been recorded since 1995, despite attempts to locate it. Fabio Arjona, executive director of Conservation International in Colombia says urgent measures are needed both in the wild and through captive breeding programmes.

4th World Congress on Mountain Ungulates,Sept 12to 15th,Munnar ,Kerala,India

The last date for receipt of abstrcts has been extended to 15th June.
See http://www.wmcu2006.org/callforpaper.htm for details.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

New study Reveals Apes can plan ahead

According to a study published in the latest issue of journal Science. Bonobos and orangutans are capable of future planning. Dr Josep Call, from the Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology spearheaded the study.The study showed that individuals are able to pick up a tool, transport it to a different location, keep it there for at least an hour, and bring it back to solve a problem. Humans and bonobos evolved into separate lineages about five to seven million years ago and orangutans about 14 million years ago. The German team suggests such skills may have evolved about 14 million years ago, when bonobos, orangutans and humans shared a common ancestor.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bowhead whales re-surfaces in the Arctic

Several Bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) have been observed near Svalbard Archipelago ( Norway) where they have been spotted only a few times in the last several decades. This gives fresh hope about this Endangered species. Bowhead whales are believed to live to be 200+ years old and are named after their enormous bow-shaped mouths. These whales live in Northern Hemisphere waters near the edge of the Arctic ice shelf.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Reuniting panda populations in China

Chinese Forestry Department of Shaanxi Province and WWF'’s China Programme have launched a programme to build up an ecological corridor to reunite two isolated panda populations. The two Tianhuashan and Xinglongling panda sub-populations in the Qinling Mountains were separated 23 years ago by the construction of a National Road. In 1999, the completion of a tunnel led to the abandonment of a 13km section of the highway. This created an opportunity to form a corridor. The work was initiated in 2005. The green bamboo corridor is turning out to be a reality now. There is new hope for the Panda. According to a WWF-Chinese government survey, there are nearly 1,600 pandas in the wild.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Magnets To The Aid Of Sharks

Sharks are reportedly able to detect magnetic fields. Some are even repelled by magnetic fields. Michael Herrmann, a research associate at the US-based company Shark Defense has used this info for an innovation in fishing gear, which will help addresses, the problem of shark bycatch. Thousands of sharks could be saved from being caught and killed on fishing lines thanks to this innovation. An estimated 89 per cent of hammerhead sharks and 80 per cent of thresher and white sharks have disappeared from the Northeast Atlantic Ocean in the last 18 years, largely due to bycatch. Michael Herrmann will receive the US$25,000 grand prize to further develop and test his winning idea. The prize is sponsored by WWF.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Message From Chair Caprinae Specialist Group

Please note that the URL of CSG/SSC of IUCN has Changed.New address is

Also, please note that the deadline for submitting abstracts to the 4th World Congress on mountain ungulates is at the end of this month. See http://www.wmcu2006.org/callforpaper.htm for details.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Talking Dolphins

St Andrews University researchers studying in Florida have discovered that dolphins recognise each other by names. The dolphins were able to recognise themselves and other members of the same species as individuals with separate identities. Royal Society of London funded the research. The whistles of dolphins were synthesised on a computer to produce computer voice of dolphins. When it was played back to the dolphins they responded. This proved conclusively that the dolphins know each other's signature whistle instead of just the voice. It also meant that these animals have evolved the same abilities as humans. The findings are published in the latest issue of US journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Important Blue Whale Colony Discovered

One of the world's most important blue whale colonies have discovered off the coast of Chile. This is rated, as is one of the biggest feeding and breeding sources of blue whale. 65 blue whales and 51 humpback whales were sighted. Blue whales were hunted to the brink of extinction during the first half of the 20th century until a ban in 1965. The International Whaling Commission estimates that only 400 to 1,400 remain.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Deep Ocean Trawl Brings Up New Species

A three-week voyage by scientists in the Atlantic has come up with tiny animals which appear new to science. The voyage is part of the ongoing Census of Marine Life (CoML), which aims to map ocean life throughout the world. One of the aims of the Census of Marine Zooplankton (CoMZ), is to provide a global inventory of these tiny organisms which will help scientists. By the time CoML ends in 2010, the scientists hope to have found and studied every zooplankton species in the ocean.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Booby Bird Makes A Comeback

Abbott's booby( Papasula abbotti) one of the world's rarest birds and a native of Australia's Christmas Island is making a comeback. The world's entire population of the bird, around 2,500 resides on this island. The most serious threat is the introduced yellow crazy ant(Anoplolepis gracilipes), which spread rapidly during the 1990s to cover 28% of the island's forest. Recent ant control efforts have proved successful. Booby has moved from Critically Endangered to Endangered status.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Lost World Of Frogs

Laos is turning out to be the lost world of frogs. A study conducted by Wildlife Conservation Society over the past 2 years, assisted by the American Museum of Natural History and Russian Academy of Sciences, has thrown up six new frog species. Details about latest three species have been published in the recent issue of Copeia, the journal of the American Society of Herpetologists. In recent years Laos has thrown up surprises like Laotian rock rat, which is the lone living member of an ancient mammal family, to the Annamite striped rabbit and saola, a type of forest antelope. Nine new amphibians have also been discovered

New IUCN Redlist Released

2006 IUCN Redlist has been released. The total number of species declared officially Extinct is 784 and a further 65 are only found in captivity or cultivation. Of the 40,177 species assessed using the IUCN Red List criteria, 16,119 are now listed as threatened with extinction. (Animals: 7,725 Plants and lichens: 8,394) Familiar species like the polar bear, hippopotamus and desert gazelles are facing extinction. A key addition to the 2006 Red List of Threatened Species is the first comprehensive regional assessment of selected marine groups. Thanks to conservation action, the status of certain species has improved: proof that conservation does work. The numbers of white-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) doubled in the 1990s and it has been downlisted from Near Threatened to Least Concern. The seabird Abbott’s booby (Papasula abbotti) listed as Critically Endangered in 2004 is recovering thanks to conservation measures and has now moved down a category to Endangered. Swift action since the dramatic 97% population crash of the Indian Vulture (Gyps indicus), listed as Critically Endangered in 2002, means that the future for this and related species is more secure. The veterinary drug that unintentionally poisoned them, diclofenac, is now banned in India. A promising substitute has been found and captive breeding assurance colonies will be used for a re-introduction programme. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species acts as a wake up call to the world by focusing attention on the state of our natural environment.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Cambodia – Good News For Bird Enthusiasts

A flock of white-shouldered ibis Pseudibis davisoni, one of the worlds' most endangered birds has been discovered in a remote province in Northeast Cambodia. Only 250 birds exist in the wild. This flock is believed to be between 20 and 30. The main causes for the decline in population are habitat loss through logging of lowland forest and drainage of wetlands for agriculture. The eggs are also poached by the local people.

Monday, May 01, 2006

First Captive Born Giant Panda Released Into the Wild

Xiang Xiang the panda today became the first captive-born giant panda to be released into the wild. Xiang Xiang was raised at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, or Panda Center, in the Wolong Nature Reserve. Only about 1,600 giant pandas are still left in the wild. If Xiang Xiang's release proves a success, other captive-bred panda releases will follow. Lack of genetic diversity in pandas in the wild is worrying the conservationists. These releases are expected to tackle this problem and pave way for increase in Panda population. Increased protection of habitat will have to go hand in hand with this.

It is good to see one of the world's best-loved endangered animals getting the conservation attention it deserves. Tahrcountry congratulate the Chinese authorities for these stps.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

WWF Indicts Shell

A new report by WWF — Offshore Oil Spill Response in Dynamic Ice Conditions — concludes that the highly dynamic sea ice conditions around Shell’s Sakhalin operation, which can last for more than six months of the year, would mean that the company would not be able to respond to an oil spill for half of the year or longer. WWF has demanded that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) should demand effective environmental protection measures for oil spills from Shell or decline funding. “Shell continues to gamble with the environment,” said Paul Steele, WWF International’s Chief Operating Officer. Any unrecovered oil would contaminate the feeding ground of the last known population of western gray whales. Endangered Steller’s sea eagle will also be affected.

Friday, April 28, 2006

China Cracks Down On Wildlife Smugglers

Chinese authorities in Yunnan have seized 278 bear paws and 416 pangolins from a 20-member gang engaged in smuggling endangered animals. The perpetrators are behind the bars. Bear's paw is a Chinese delicacy. Pangolin meat is believed to cure asthma. A recent survey conducted jointly by the China Wildlife Conservation Association and US non-governmental organisation Wildaid showed that those who eat wildlife fell dramatically compared with a 1999 survey. This is due to the fear of contracting diseases such as SARS. SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which broke out in China's southern province of Guangdong in 2002 killed 774 people and infected more than 8,000 people.

It is good to see Chinese authorities cracking down on smugglers. Chinese propensity to eat wildlife has been a cause of worry for environmentalists around the world. Creating awareness is our best bet for the future.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

France Releases Slovenian Bear in Pyrenees

only about 18 brown bears are thought to be left in the Pyrenees and there is a shortage of females. In an effort to boost the population France has imported a female from Slovenia and released it into the Pyrenees. It was the first of five bears due to be set free before June 15 in the mountains that divide France and Spain. Eventhough farmers are worried the bears will attack their animals ecology Minister Nelly Olin said their fears are unfounded and will be addresed properly when the time comes.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

130 Million Year Old Rainforest In Malaysia Under Threat

A 130 million-year-old tropical rainforest in Malaysia is under threat from logging. 300,000-hectare Belum-Temengor Forest complex in northern Perak state is a major catchment area and supports 274 species of birds and more than 100 types of mammals, including 14 globally threatened species such as the Malayan tiger, Sumatran rhinoceros and the Plain-pouched hornbill. Environmentalists are increasing the pace of protest to save this piece of land, which is also a corridor for wildlife from Thailand. The local administration is adamant saying logging provides jobs and is essential for the local economy.

It is really sad that the Malaysian Government does not realise the folly it is commiting. This valuable 130 million year forest is something which man cannot replicate if it is lost. Please try and save it for the posterity. Environmentalists from around the world are exhorted to write to nearest Malaysian embassy.

130 Million Year Old Rainforest In Malaysia Under Threat

A 130 million-year-old tropical rainforest in Malaysia is under threat from logging. 300,000-hectare Belum-Temengor Forest complex in northern Perak state is a major catchment area and supports 274 species of birds and more than 100 types of mammals, including 14 globally threatened species such as the Malayan tiger, Sumatran rhinoceros and the Plain-pouched hornbill. Environmentalists are increasing the pace of protest to save this piece of land, which is also a corridor for wildlife from Thailand. The local administration is adamant saying logging provides jobs and is essential for the local economy.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ukrainian lawyer wins environmental prize for efforts to protect the Danube

Ukrainian lawyer Olya Melen has won this year’s prestigious Goldman Environmental prize for her work in the Danube Delta. The prize went to Olya Melen for successfully using her legal skills to temporarily halt construction of a massive canal that would have cut through the heart of the Danube Delta. This delta is one of Europe’s most valuable wetlands, home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna, including the 300 species of birds, including the globally threatened Dalmatian pelican, and 45 freshwater fish species.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

European countries care less about illegal logging issues

A new WWF survey of 22 European Union governments and Switzerland has come up with the surprising fact that they care less about illegal logging issues now. This is in stark contrast to the previously conducted surveys. According to the survey, the best performing countries are the UK followed by the Netherlands, Denmark, Latvia and Belgium. WWF has urged national governments to stop paying lip service on illegal logging issues and to better support responsibly acting companies and governments inside and outside the EU through their national policies.

Friday, April 21, 2006

WWF opposes Shell’s Sakhalin II project

WWF has jumped in to the fray against Shell’s Sakhalin II project. WWf has demanded that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) should not fund Shell's proposed construction of the largest hydrocarbon construction project in the world in Russia's Far East without improved mitigation measures. Shell’s Sakhalin II oil and gas project had earned the wrath of environmentalists right from the word go. They maintain that Shell has provided no convincing evidence that the project is not harming the 100 remaining western grey whales. At the recent meeting in Vancouver, Canada, scientists confirmed that just one extra female death per year would be likely to result in their extinction. More emaciated whales were seen last year than any year since 2001 as it suggests disruption of feeding.

Here is another example where a multinationl's avarice is endangering the wildlife.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Portugal’s Wildlife Under Threat

A study by Portugal's Institute for the Conservation of Nature has found that more than half of Portugal's bird, animal and fish species face some degree of threat, mostly from human action. Species critically endangered include the Iberian lynx, the mountain goat, the monk seal, the black vulture and the Saramuga, a freshwater fish found in the Guadiana River basin. Forest fires, dams, hunting, timber planting for the pulp and paper industry, abandonment of farmland and draining of wetlands are the main culprit.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hope for Ecuadorian Sharks

Ecuadorian Sharks have been recently threatened by overfishing. But there is new hope on the horizon. Ecuador has made a major step forward in the conservation of its sharks by agreeing on a National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks. The Plan of Action is the result of joint discussions between the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries of Ecuador, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and all stakeholders. It falls under the FAO International Plan of Action for Sharks, part of the code of Practice for Responsible Fisheries.

Monday, April 17, 2006

4th World Congress On Mountain Ungulates-Reminder

The last date for submission of Abstract is 31 May 2006. For details log on to www.wmcu2006.org

Santa Cruz Island Is All Agog

In what is described as a Blessed event for wildlife biologists a pair of bald eagles hatched a chick on Santa Cruz Island for the first time in 50 years. The successful breeding marked a significant milestone in the four-year effort to reintroduce the eagles to the island. Bald Eagles disappeared off the coast of California the 1960s as DDT polluted their food chain.

This indeed is heartwarming news for wildlife enthusiasists

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Rare Tigers Born In Siberia

The first birth of Amur tiger cubs in over a century has been reported in southeast Siberia. Scientists found traces of cubs they said were about six months old and their mother in the snow-covered taiga. The tiger cubs were first spotted in the Zeiskii Nature Reserve by a driver. The WWF said tigers found in the Amur Region may have migrated there from the neighbouring Primorye and Khabarovsk Territories in Russia's Far East, home to a population of some 450 Amur tigers.

New Species Of Freshwater Stingray Discovered In Thailand

A new species of freshwater stingray has been discovered in a river in western Thailand. The species was first observed two years ago but has only now been confirmed as a new species by researchers from Smithsonian Institute. The Stingray has been named Himantura kittipongi.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Search Underway For New Director General Of IUCN

Achim Steiner will be stepping down as World Conservation Union (IUCN) Director General on 31 May in order to take up his appointment as Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) from 15 June 2006. A Search Committee has been constituted to find a successor and a process launched to fill this key position of Chief Executive of the World Conservation Union. Advertisement has been placed in several major publications and it is now being widely distributed through electronic networks and on websites. Spread the message around. For more information, please visit www.iucn.org/dgsearch.

Belgian Scientists Discover African fish That Leaps For Land Bugs

Belgian scientists have discovered an African fish that leaps for land bugs.The eel catfish, Channallabes apus, was found in the muddy swamps of the tropics of western Africa. The fish is able to propel itself out of the water and bend its head downwards to capture insects in its jaws. This discovery will help to explain how fish moved from sea to land millions of years ago. Details appear in the latest issue of the journal Nature

Loch Ness Elephant?

Paleontologist and painter Neil Clark has suggested that the Loch Ness monster was perhaps a paddling elephant. Neil Clark has suggested that the silhouette of the Loch Ness monster, with its long slender neck and characteristic humps resembles silhouette of swimming Indian elephant Clark suggests that a circus caravan could have stopped to allow its elephants a rest and have a swim. Circuses used to go along the road to Inverness Unsuspecting onlookers could have mistaken the submerged pachyderm for a strange beast. Clark's theory is published in the current edition of the journal of the Open University Geological Society.

I am back in Cochin

I am back in Cochin. The updates will be resumed.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Till 15th April I have only limited access to internet,that too very erratic. I will be travelling a lot to areas where internet is only a dream. The updates will resume their normal schedule from 15th onwards. I will try my level best to post very important news when I get a chance. Bye for now.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Malaysia - Good News For Orangutans

Consistent campaigns and pleas by environmental groups to protect the habitats of orangutans in the rainforests of Borneo is bringing in results. The Sabah state government has announced that it would cease all commercial activities in the Ulu Segama and Malau forests by December 2007. The area covers more than 200,000 hectares of forest and is home to a third of the wild orangutan population in Malaysia Borneo."

This comes as a whiff of fresh air amidst all the bad news about Orangutans that we have been getting these past few months. Kudos to the environmentalists who have been working ceaselessly, and to Malaysian Government for heeding to their pleas.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Greenpeace slams Australia for promoting GMO seeds

Greenpeace criticized Australia on Friday for promoting the experimental use of highly controversial "terminator seeds".Greenpeace says the GMO seeds undermines biological diversity and creates dependence among poor farmers. A very bad dependence on multinational companies to supply them with the seeds. Terminator seeds could spread their genes into conventional crops and make them sterile. Australia has been lobbying hard at the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, in the Brazilian city of Curitiba, to lift the ban on GMO seeds saying it impedes scientific research.

Kudos to Greenpeace.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Prince of Wales Receives British Environmental Award

WWF has presented His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales with an Awareness Award. The award is given in recognition of achieving an outstanding impact on public consciousness on the subject on the environment. " The determination of the prince not only to highlight the issues threatening the environment as well as proposing possible solutions, but also to act as a catalyst for change" was highlighted by the WWF. The prince said, “What we need now is a set of positive actions that will really engage human ingenuity and determination and create some solutions, matched by the political and personal will to carry them through."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Italian Celebrities Join Hands With WWF To Protect Biodiversity

Italian football star Gianfranco Zola has teamed up with WWF-Italy to promote environmental education programmes in Italian schools. Zola is one of several celebrities being recruited by WWF to help spread the message of biodiversity protection in Italy. “We have asked celebrities to come back to their primary schools and explain to young children the importance of protecting nature and biodiversity,” said Alessandra Vivarelli, WWF-Italy's Head of Public Relations. Other celebrities include the singer Elisa Toffoli, television presenter Paola Saluzzi, and soap opera Actor Marzio Honorato.

This is wonderful. Tahrcountry call up on celebreties, particularly sports celebreties all over the world to emulate this wonderful experiment. You can ceratainly play a great role here. Our children are our future.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Bleak future for global biodiversity.

The just published Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO) holds bleak future for the biodiversity. The GBO says "unprecedented efforts" will be needed to achieve to slow the decline in the richness of living systems. Forests continue to be lost at a rate of six million hectares a year and similar trends are noted for marine and coastal ecosystems such as coral reefs, kelp beds and mangrove forests. The report stresses that despite the gloomy trends, the target set by the Convention - involving a stabilisation, not a reversal of these losses is still within reach.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Protecting endangered species improves the lives of local communities

A new WWF report based on studies in Nepal, Uganda, India, Namibia, Costa Rica and China indicates that protecting endangered species improves the lives of local communities. Conservation and sustainable management of species and their habitats means better protection of forests, freshwater and marine areas. As a result, the rural poor who depend on these areas will have more access to goods and services they provide. This not only increases incomes, but access to freshwater, health, education and women’s rights often also improves. Ecotourism projects based on the observation of species in the wild generate significant amounts of money to communities. A prime example, is Tortuguero (Costa Rica), where live turtles are worth more to the local economy than turtle meat and eggs ever were. The community strongly supports conservation measures to promote ecotourism, and both turtle and tourist numbers have been climbing over the past 30 years.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Poaching reduces Borneo’s population of Sumatran rhinos

A field survey in the Malaysian State of Sabah and analysis of data on historical rhino habitat has come up with disturbing news that poaching has significantly reduced Borneo’s population of Sumatran rhinos. Field staff from WWF ,Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah Parks, the Sabah Foundation,the Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Project, SOS Rhino, Universiti Malaysia Sabah and Operation Raleigh participated in the survey. Evidence of at least 13 rhinos in the interior of Sabah is the only silver lining. Populations on the Indonesian side of the island and in the Malaysian State of Sarawak are believed to be extinct. There are believed to be fewer than 300 Sumatran rhinos left in the world.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Achim Steiner Nominated as Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme

UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has Nominated Achim Steiner as Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. He will succeed Klaus Töpfer, who finishes his second term on 31 March 2006. Achim Steiner is currently the Director General of IUCN - The World Conservation Union. Mr. Steiner serves on a number of international advisory boards including the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) and the Environmental Advisory Council (ENVAC) of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Chinese Frog and Ultrasonic Communication

The first non-mammalian species known to use the ultra-high frequencies that humans cannot hear has been discovered. The pride of place goes to a rare Chinese frog, Amolops tormotus. In the mammalian world Bats, whales and dolphins use it to communicate. Kraig Adler, a biologist at Cornell University in New York, first noticed the frog with no external eardrums while surveying amphibians in China. Detailed study and confirmation regarding use of ultrasonic waves was done by Professor Albert Feng of the University of Illinois

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Brazil's Plans To Dam Two Rivers Angers Environmentalists

Brazil's plans to dam two rivers in the Amazon basin are threatening some of the rarest wildlife Environmentalists say. World Commission on Dams (WCD had advised that dams should be avoided in areas rich in species. Thirty-three endangered mammal species live in the region to be flooded. Several species of large catfish that migrate some 4,500 km to breed in the upper Madeira will disappear with the dam.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Environmentalist Opposes Elephant Capture In Sumatra

Environmentalists are opposing Elephant Capture and translocation in Riau Province of Sumatra. The Government has initiated this move in an effort to put an end to elephant – man conflict. Sumatran elephants are highly endangered. Many of the endangered Sumatran elephants die during and immediately after the capture process. Environmentalists accuse that the Government is not dealing with the underlying problem, which is the uncontrolled conversion of forests that are home to some of Sumatra’s last wildlife populations. Riau has lost 57 per cent of its forests over the past 23 years. Half of the elephant population has been lost in the last seven years, with the remaining population numbering only about 350.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Leatherback Turtle Project Begins In Gabon

Leatherback Turtle is an endangered species. Gabon, West Africa, is believed to be the species last major ‘stronghold’. A conservation project designed to help protect the endangered leatherback turtle has just been launched in Gabon. In order to understand their migratory habits the turtles will be tagged and tracked. Dr. Brendan Godley of the University of Exeter leads the study. The leatherback is the largest living turtle and is so distinctive that it is placed in its own separate family, Dermochelys. It travels the farthest and dives the deepest The largest leatherback on record was a male stranded on the West Coast of Wales in 1988. He weighed 916 kg.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Rat Squirrel Rediscovered

Researchers of the New York-based conservation society were intrigued last year by the bodies of one animal brought for sale at a meat market in Laos. They thought this was a new species to science. It had the face of a rat and the tail of a skinny squirrel. Careful analysis has thrown up the fact that it's a species believed to have been extinct for 11 million years. a member of a family until now known only from fossils. The species is called Diatomyidae. Details appear in the latest issue of journal Science

Friday, March 10, 2006

Germany Pledges €5 Million For Caucasus Transboundary Nature Conservation

Germany has pledged €5 million to support the establishment of a transboundary nature conservation fund in the southern Caucasus region. The Caucasus region, covering some 50 million hectares belongs to the 200 most important ecoregions on this planet. Its most prominent species are the Caucasus leopard, lynx and the brown bear. The conservation fund aims to cover half the operational costs for the most important conservation areas in this biodiversity-rich region. The governments of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are expected to cover the other half. Only the interest will be used for project work, leaving the capital stock intact.

123 Taxa of East Africa Threatened

A Plant Red Listing Workshop for the Eastern Arc mountains and Coastal Forests of Kenya and Tanzania has assessed 123 taxa as Threatened, and an additional 12 as Near Threatened. The region hold at least 1,800 endemic or near endemic plant species. Among the Threatened taxa are a number of spectacular Annonaceae including Sanrafaelia ruffonammari Verd., a recently described genus and species endemic to the foothills of the East Usambara Mts., assessed as Critically Endangered. Another Usambara endemic Annonaceae, Anonidium usambarense R.E. Fr., has not been seen since the Type collection in 1910 despite extensive searches, and was therefore assessed as Extinct. Organized and led by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the Workshop was supported by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Dalai Lama’s Appeal Brings About Exciting Turn Of Events

In January this year at a prayer meeting, Dalai Lama had appealed to his people to do away with animal skins and artifacts. The Supremo had said he was "ashamed" to see images of Tibetans decorating themselves with skins and furs. Now reports are pouring in from Tibet that people have started burning wild animal furs. India's dwindling tiger population is an immediate beneficiary. There has been a sharp rise in the poaching of tigers and leopards in India in recent years to feed demand from Tibet. Since December, 1999, 18 out of 19 major seizures of wildlife parts or skins in India either involved Tibetans or were strongly linked to Tibet.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

TRAFFIC receives Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Award

This years’ Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime award has gone to TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring agency. TRAFFIC is a joint programme of IUCN, the world conservation union and WWF. UK’s Biodiversity Minister Jim Knight presented the Award to Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC International at a function held in London Zoo on Tuesday. TRAFFIC's focus is both local as well as global. The Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) was set up ten years ago to bring together policymakers, enforcers and non-government organisations with an interest in this field.

Monday, March 06, 2006

BBC Unveils Spectacular New Series – “Planet Earth”

BBC ‘s new series “Planet Earth”, promises to be a veritable feast for the eyes. Planet Earth, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, took four years to make. New technology has helped the producers in depicting what would have been unthinkable 5 years back.
The series includes

  • A complete hunt by wolves filmed from the air.
  • Grizzly bears in the Rockies tending newborn cubs and feeding on moths.
  • Displaying birds of paradise captured with a low light camera, including the blue bird of paradise which has never been filmed in the wild before.
  • Footage of a new species of blind cave fish in Thailand.
  • Pink river dolphins presenting stones as gifts during courtship - the only known use of tools by wild dolphins.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

India and US sign wildlife agreement

India is the newest member of the US-led Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT), a coalition that collaborates in the fight against illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife parts. India and the US also agreed to exchanges of park and customs officials for better implementation of the agreement. Launched in September 2005, the Coalition against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT) focuses political and public attention on growing threats to wildlife from poaching and illegal trade. The agreement is a sequel to the increased poaching of tigers and concerted efforts to stem the tide.

Friday, March 03, 2006

World’s most endangered cat species threatened by EU funds

Despite the EU's commitment to halt biodiversity loss by 2010, vast sums of European Union money are being spent on roads, dams and irrigation schemes which threaten critically endangered species and key habitats in Europe. Habitat of the Iberian lynx(lynx pardinus) the world’s most endangered cat species is being destroyed in the process. In Spain, the remaining Iberian lynx population,with around 100 individuals left, including just 25 breeding females is under major threat due to loss and fragmentation of habitat. EU funds are used here for infrastructure, such as 20 dams and 16 roads, including the new highway Toledo-Ciudad Real-Puertollano-Cordoba, which will have a detrimental impact on lynx habitat.Other major threats to the Iberian lynx's survival include plummeting numbers of wild rabbits (the lynx's principal prey), and illegal hunting.

New Shark Species Discovered in Mexico

Mexican marine biologist Juan Carlos Perez has discovered a new shark species in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Perez and his team have named the new shark "Mustelus hacat," after the word for shark in a local Indian dialect. Worldwide, marine biologists tend to discover two or three new shark species in any given year. But Perez's discovery is the first shark discovery in the Sea of Cortez since the tiny Mexican Horn Shark (Heterodontus mexicanus) was identified in 1972.

Chimps As Team Players

Till now altruism has been considered to be a human trait. But latest research on Chimps is turning this view topsy-turvy. In a controlled experiment chimps were seen helping each other. In the experiment there was no reward, and they still helped. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany conducted the study. Researchers also found that chimpanzees recognised when collaboration was necessary and chose effective partners. Details appear in latest issue of journal Science

Thursday, March 02, 2006

New Paraguay reserve for giant otters, armadillos and anteaters

A new nature reserve in Paraguay will protect some of the world's rarest mammals,the Giant Otter, Giant Anteater and Giant Armadillo. The new reserve is being set up by the legacy in memory of Sid Templar a British Businessman based in Halesworth. The acquisition is handled by England's Suffolk-based conservation organisation World Land Trust (WLT) and the reserve will be owned and managed by Guyra Paraguay, a non-government organisation working in partnership with the World Land Trust. The reserve will also protect a healthy numbers of jaguars, which feed mostly on capybaras (a giant aquatic relative of the Guinea Pig) and caiman (South American crocodiles). There is also spectacular array of birds including the Hyacinth Macaw.

Great stuff. Here is an example for other corporate houses to follow. Many developing countries are strapped for cash when it comes to conservation of wildlife.

Sumatra Rhino Population Reduced by 50 Percent

The population of the Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) ,the most endangered of all rhinoceros species in the world, has dropped by around 50 percent over the last 10 years due poaching and deforestation. Sumatran Rhino, the only two-horned rhino in the Asian region, is found in Leuser, Kerinci Seblat, South Bukit Barisan and Way Kambas National Parks. In the past, their habitats were connected to each other. But now, they are totally fragmented due to the opening of forest areas for plantations and human settlements, he said. Environmentalists are desperately seeking ways to stem the tide.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

International Year Of The Turtle 2006

2006 is the Year of the Marine Turtle. March 1 marks the official start of the Year of the Marine Turtle within the Indian Ocean and South-East Asian region. Six of the seven species of marine turtle — Hawksbill, Olive Ridley, Kemp's Ridley, Leatherback, Loggerhead and Green — are classified as “Endangered” or “Critically Endangered”. Many species migrate for thousands of kilometers between feeding and nesting grounds. Regional cooperation is absolutely essential to ensure that turtles are protected at different stages in their life cycles. They suffer from poaching and over-exploitation, as well as from capture in fishing gear and habitat loss. International Year of the Turtles will pool international effort and expertise to ensure the well being of this magnificent creatures of the ocean.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Frogs Gives Key to New Drugs

A University of Adelaide team has discovered that the secretions of the dumpy tree frog are very effective at warding off mosquitoes. Mice given the secretions remained bite-free for four times longer. The secretions can also act as powerful painkillers and hallucinogens. The researchers say "The discovery highlights the potential of the unsung properties of amphibian skin. Details appear in the latest issue of Biology Letters journal

Monday, February 27, 2006

Seychelles Bans Shark Finning

The Seychelles has banned the cutting off of sharks' fins by foreign fishermen. 100 million sharks are killed every year worldwide, mostly for their fins. Shark finning often involves slicing off the highly valuable fins, often from living sharks, and dumping the rest of the creatures back into the sea. Owing to the shark finning trade 65 out of 373 known shark species are globally threatened.

I am back in Cochin

I am back in Kochi.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

No Update for A Week

I am out of station for a week, mostly travelling. During this period I won't be having access to the internet. Consequently the next update will be on 27th. Sorry guys.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Convention On Biological Biodiversity Needs Your Input

The Virtual Curitiba Biodiversity Conference, launched almost a month ago is asking for more contributions. Join the Conference and express your opinion on how to achieve the 2010 biodiversity target. Log on to (http://2010.biodiv.org). Click on "Join the conference" to create your user account. Click on "Go to the discussions" to start posting your views by answering one of the 4 questions or to complement a previous comment posted by someone else.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Two New National Parks Created in Amazon

Brazil has created two new national parks in the Amazon. Total area of the parks is 1.5 million hectares .The Brazilian Amazon sprawling over 4.1 million square kilometers has seen lot of controversial logging operations in the recent past. Last year the forest lost 26,130 square kilometers to logging, development works and farming. The creation of 2 new National Parks brings fresh hopes for the environmentalists of Brazil.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

New Fish and Seaweeds Discovered

Scientists of Netherlands Antilles government, the US Smithsonian Institution and Conservation International have discovered new species of fish and seaweed in a two-week study of the Saba Bank Atoll in the Dutch Windward Islands, 250 kilometres southeast of Puerto Rico. 165 new species of fish has been discovered. Saba Bank now leaves far behind places such as the Straits of Florida and the northern coast of Venezuela. The mighty ocean still remains a vast unexplored territory. According to scientists of conservation international an average of 6-7 new species of marine fish was discovered every month last year.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Kenya's Worst Drought Threatens Wildlife

Kenya's worst drought in years is threatening Tsavo West National Park. Maasai who have trekked long distances to escape drought are driving cattle into Tsavo West National Park in search of water and pasture. Cattle would harm natural habitats, and spread disease. Maasai, who depend on cattle and often live on just milk and fresh blood, say they have no choice but to feed their starving cows wherever they can. It is a tricky situation out there.

Monday, February 13, 2006

UK Inter-agency Committee on Marine Science and Technology urges research on marine sounds

With speculation running rife that that the whale found in the Thames last month had been disorientated by sounds, UK’s Inter-agency Committee on Marine Science and Technology has urged that research into the effect of sound in the oceans on marine mammals should be commissioned by the UK Government post-haste. The committee says mammals are affected by many sounds, including sonar, oil exploration and ship. The report points accusing fingers at 13 cases of strandings of whales and dolphins which appear to have been linked to specific sources of noise by naval vessels. The committee has suggested inter alia that it would be a good idea to expose marine mammals to sound mimicking the noise of sonar, oil drilling and other activities to get first hand confirmation of these speculations.

UK Government should forthwith initiate research in to this very serious isssue. This path breaking reserch will help dispel forever the denials by Navys and oil exploration firms.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Whale Meat Ends Up as Dog Food

The shocking news that meat from Japanese “Whaling for scientific reasons” ends up as dog food has been brought to the attention of international community by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS). Ads describe whale meat as "organic" and fished "freshly out of the water”. Mark Simmonds, director of science at WDCS, said: "Whaling is a cruel activity and the fact that Japan is killing these amazing animals to produce dog food is shocking. A global moratorium on commercial whaling has been in place since the 1980s, but hunting for scientific research is permitted under the rules of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

Friday, February 10, 2006

Animals Freeze to Death in Macedonia Zoo

A 25-year-old lion and a baby llama died of cold in a zoo in the southern city of Bitola, Macedonia, near the border with Greece. Temperature had plummeted overnight to minus 28 degree celcius. Both animals lived in open bar cages with no heating. Macedonia gives very low priority to animal welfare.
This tragic case should make us rethink about the welfare of caged animals. Macedonia is not a rich country but that is not an excuse for treating animals like this. Poor creatures must have gone through agonizing moments. Imagine the plight of lion coming from a warm country. This should not happen again. Wake up animal lovers in and around Macedonia.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Oldest Tyrannosaurus rex relative unveiled

The fossil remains of the oldest Tyrannosaurus rex relative has been uncovered in the Junggar Basin, an area rich in dinosaur fossils, in the far north-west corner of China. The fossil is estimated to be 160 million year-old. The international team under Professor James Clark, a paleontologist at George Washington University, US, has named the dinosaur, which hails from the Late Jurassic period, Guanlong wucaii. Details appear in the latest issue of journal Nature

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Alternative drug won't kill India's vultures

The drug Diclofenac has accidentally poisoned a majority of the critically endangered vultures in India and neighbouring countries and has been found to be the chief culprit in the decline of Vulture population. Vultures are exposed to Diclofenac when scavenging on livestock treated with it. Diclofenac causes kidney damage. Scientist have discovered that the drug Meloxicam, equally effective as Diclofenac in cattle, does not cause any harm to Vultures. Use of Meloxicam would definitely reduce vulture mortality in the Indian subcontinent. Meloxicam is already available for veterinary use in India.
Details of the research are available at
Swan, G., et al. 2006. Removing the threat of diclofenac to critically endangered Asian vultures. PLoS Biology 4(March):e66. Available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0040066.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Direct Human Link to Orangutan Decline

A three year study by Sumatran Orangutan Society shows that a drastic reduction of population of Orangutans has occurred within the past century and it coincides with massive deforestation of orangutan habitat. Professor Michael Bruford of the Cardiff School of Biosciences, led the study. Professor Bruford believes that the animals still possess enough genetic diversity to stabilize if immediate action is taken. DNA information was used to simulate population history and to detect evidence of a population decline. Details appear in the journal "PLoS Biology.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

International Policy to Fight Biopiracy

Misappropriation of genetic resources is a serious issue confronting many nations. Even though treaties and conventions do exist implementation has faced roadblocks. Now IUCN the world Conservation Union is taking imitative to address this serious issue. At the request of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) secretariat the union’s Canada office in conjunction with its Environmental Law center has published results of an investigation in to claims of misappropriation of genetic resources. It will attempt to provide concrete info about what kinds of international policy decisions are needed to eliminate biopiracy.
Full info can be had from

Friday, February 03, 2006

Pigeons with Backpacks for Pollution Monitoring

An idea mooted by researcher Beatriz da Costa, of the University of California at Irvine, and two of her students to use pigeons for monitoring air quality is taking shape in real life. 20 pigeons fitted with GPS satellite tracking receiver, air pollution sensors and a basic mobile phone are be used to monitor air pollution, New Scientist magazine reported on Wednesday. The release will be into the skies over San Jose, California. A special pigeon "blog", a journal accessible on the Internet will host text messages on air quality beamed back in real time. An interactive map also will be in place.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Indonesian Turtle On The Brink of Extinction

Roti Island snake-necked turtles, found only in the wetlands of eastern Indonesia is on the brink of extinction. According to a report by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, the species is often exported illegally under a similar species, the New Guinea snake-necked turtle. Government controls have been very lax. In 2000, the IUCN Red List categorized the Roti Island snake-necked turtle (Chelodina mccordi) as “critically endangered’. The species is also listed in Appendix II of CITES, which requires any international trade to be carried out under a permit system. The continuing international demand for the turtle from collectors in Europe, North America and East Asia is pushing this endemic species towards extinction. TRAFFIC — a joint programme of WWF and IUCN is organising awareness building workshops for local enforcement agencies in an effort to stem the tide.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Australian Wollemi Pine Trees Endangered

The Australian Wollemi pine, a species dating back to Jurassic times has been endangered by a deadly disease probably introduced by an unauthorized hiker. The Wollemi pine, described as a living fossil, was thought to be extinct until 1994, when a park ranger stumbled upon a stand in a remote gorge in Wollemi National Park. Entry was very restricted to this place. Those authorized to visit had to undergo strict infection control procedures that involve sterilizing their footwear and equipment. A fungus-like disease has now endangered the wild stand. Despite the threat, the species is not at risk of extinction. Australian authorities had propagated thousands of trees in plantations from the wild stand.

Trapped Dolphin is Finally Free

A dolphin which had been trapped in Maryport Marina,England for almost a month has been freed by rescuers. Tony Woodley, of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue group spearheaded the rescue. The Dolphin that usually lives in saltwater was suffering in the freshwater of the marina, which was bleaching its skin due to lack of salt. Immediately after the release it met up with another dolphin and they swam away together.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

World Experts Adcocates Judicious Utilization of Groundwater

The International Symposium on Groundwater Sustainability, which has just been concluded in Alicante, Spain has advocated greater care of groundwater reserves, increasingly threatened by overconsumption. Underground water constitutes about 94% of all accessible fresh water. Two billion people depend directly upon water stored underground for drinking water. Overuse is having detrimental impacts for people, livelihoods and ecosystems. Ground water also provides a critical supply for many ecosystems,ecosystems dependent on groundwater. The upcoming 4th World Water Forum (Mexico, March 2006), will be a forum to discuss the modalities for judicious utilization of groundwater.

Monday, January 30, 2006

WWF and Honda join forces to save Sumatran rhinos

WWF and Honda Motors have decided to work together to protect the endangered Sumatran rhino, the most endangered of all the rhino species found only in Malaysia and Indonesia. Fewer than 300 Sumatran rhinos exist in the world. The project will focus mainly on increasing efforts to protect the Sumatran rhino’s habitat and reduce poaching through close cooperation with local communities and organizations. Honda Malaysia has pledged to contribute about US$1 million to the Rhino Rescue project. The other partners in this noble venture are Malaysian Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Perak State Park Corporation, the Sabah Wildlife Department.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Chimp Antibodies For Fight Against Smallpox

Chimps are helping human beings in the development of new vaccines against small pox. The current vaccine against smallpox blocks infection by the smallpox virus variola by targeting it with another virus, vaccinia. vaccinia can produce severe side effects in a small minority of people and couls even be fatal. A team led by Dr Robert Purcell, at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has been working on those taken from the bone marrow of chimpanzees because of their close similarity to human forms. Chimps produced particularly powerful antibodies in response. A hybrid human/chimp version that is powerful has been developed. These potent antibodies can also provide instant protection after exposure to the virus. This vaccine also carried a lower risk of complications.
Protecting wildlife has myriad spin-offs, which we are frittering away by failing to protect wildlife and its habitat. We are foreclosing the future benefits in our mad race for development.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Nations with wild populations of Asian elephants back elephant action plan

The three-day gathering of Nations with wild populations of Asian elephants convened by the Malaysian government, and facilitated by IUCN, the World Conservation Union, has come up with agreement on the best way to protect the remaining elephant populations. The consensus was that transboundary cooperation was necessary to protect the creatures' dwindling habitat. It is the first time that all the 13 countries are coming together. Elephants are found in 13 countries, from Bangladesh to Vietnam.The wild population of Asian elephants is estimated at 30,000 to 50,000.There are about 100 in Vietnam and more than 20,000 in India. The need of the hour is to strike a balance between the needs of elephants and burgeoning human population.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Ethiopian Red Fox in Trouble

An endangered species of red fox found only in Ethiopia is in trouble. Dogs accompanying livestock are bringing rabies which is endangering the Fox. Over the past two months five out of a population of 200 red foxes have died in Bale Mountains National Park. There are fewer than 500 red foxes left in Ethipia.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Environmental performance - New Zealand Ranks First

New Zealand ranks first in the world in environmental performance according to the pilot 2006 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) produced by a team of environmental experts at the environment school at Yale University and the Earth Institute at Columbia University. The 16 indicators used to rank nations are: child mortality, indoor air pollution, drinking water, adequate sanitation, urban particulates, regional ozone, nitrogen loading, water consumption, wilderness protection, ecoregion protection, timber harvest rate, agricultural subsidies, overfishing, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and CO2 per Gross Domestic Product. Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom are ranked two to five respectively. The lowest-ranked countries are Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Chad and Niger. Full report is available at http://www.yale.edu/epi

Benefits of Coral Reef Protection

A report, produced by UNEP with the International Coral Reef Action Network and the World Conservation Union says costs of safeguarding the world's fast-disappearing coral reefs and mangroves are small compared to the benefits they provide to humanity. The report estimated that intact coral reefs were worth $100,000-$600,000 per sq km a year and a sq km of mangroves $200,000-$900,000 a year. Benefits from coral reefs and mangroves arise from fisheries, timber and fuelwood, tourism and shore protection. By contrast, the cost of protecting a sq km of coral reef or mangroves in a marine park was just $775 a year. The survey indicated that costs of building a concrete breakwater in the Maldives to replace a damaged reef had been $10 million per km. Time to think about coral reef and mangrove conservation seriously.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

World’s Smallest Fish

Maurice Kottelat and Tan Heok Hui, who are researchers at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at the National University of Singapore, have discovered the world's tiniest fish. The fish lives in peat wetlands on the Indonesian Island of Sumatra and in the Malaysian part of Borneo.When fully grown, it is the size of a large mosquito. The fish distant cousin of the carp has been given the name Paedocypris progenetica. The previous record holder was a marine fish of the Western Pacific called the dwarf goby (Trimmatom nanus), which comes in at 8mm at sexual maturity. The habitat of this fish is disappearing very fast, and the fate of the species hangs in balance.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Decline of Orangutan populations linked to human activity

New genetic evidence indicates that the collapse of Orangutan populations is linked to human activity. The crash during the past 200 years, coincides with deforestation in the area. The study was conducted in the forests of Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary in Malaysia. By collecting the Orangutans' hair and faeces, the researchers were able to extract DNA to create genetic profiles.Professor Bruford a conservation biologist at Cardiff University says it may even be necessary to move Orangutans around to prevent inbreeding.

Monday, January 23, 2006

UK- Massive Culling of Grey Squirrels Planned

A massive cull of grey squirrels has been planned across Britain in an attempt to halt declining numbers of the endangered native red population. Grey squirrels were introduced to Britain from North America in the 19th Century. Grey squirrels seriously threaten woodland management through damage to trees and by squeezing out red squirrels. Biodiversity minister Jim Knight said the aim was not to completely eradicate the greys, which have a population estimated at more than two million - outnumbering red squirrels by 66 to one, but to reduce numbers over the next three years.