1 Tahrcountry Musings: December 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.