1 Tahrcountry Musings: August 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007

Spain – Virus Threat to Dolphins

Spain’s environment ministry has issued warning about the outbreak of Morbilli virus threatening dolphins and has sought the help of experts around the Mediterranean and adjoining seas for help in monitoring the infection. The virus had produced a massive epidemic in the 1990s. The newspaper El Mundo on Wednesday reported that several dolphins had been killed. Several dolphin corpses have been recovered from the coast in Murcia and Velancia. Javier Pantoja, head of marine conservation in Spain's environment ministry, says his department has arranged a mid-September meeting in which the affected regions and experts would discuss how best to confront the crisis.

Scotland – Wildlife Crimes - Environment Minister Promises Tough Measures

My UK contacts inform me that Environment Minister Mike Russell has promised tough crackdown on wildlife offenders. Bird poisoning is troubling the environmentalists. The killing of a golden eagle in Peeblesshire recently had come in for wide spread condemnation. New measures planned could result in the removal of firearms licences and cutting farm aid payments.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Rare dolphin sighted in China

Chinese scientists had recently declared that Yangtze River dolphin(Lipotes vexillifer) or baiji was probably extinct. But baiji has been was spotted and filmed by a local man in Anhui Province, eastern China. Scientists of the Institute of Hydrobiology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences have confirmed that the footage was of a baiji. Scientists will now try to capture the dolphins and move them to a reserve where they would try to breed them. The last sighting of a wild baiji was in 2004. The sighting has brought cheer to the environmentalists of China.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

“Our green accountability” from World Conservation Union

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has released its first Environmental Indicators report entitled “Our green accountability” to show its operational environmental impact. The report analyses the environmental sustainability of IUCN’s operations in 2006. The report analyzes trends in the use of paper, electricity, gas, water and carbon emissions from flight travel and looks at staff commuting patterns.

The main recommendations made in the report include

  • Improving training and awareness-raising of staff,
  • Establishing economic incentives for environmental gain and
  • Institutionalizing this report and the collection and analysis of data for it.

IUCN will use their experiences obtained over the last 18 months to contribute to the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) dialogue.

For further information, please contact GOGG@iucn.org.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

11th Hour – Message From Leonardo DiCaprio

Here is a message from Leonardo DiCaprio. Have alook at it. Spread it around

I'm writing to tell you about my new environmental film, The 11th Hour. The film documents the environmental crises we face and the solutions we must begin to implement.

Please click here to take a look at the trailer.

With help from over fifty of the world's most prominent thinkers and activists, including reformer Mikhail Gorbachev, physicist Stephen Hawking, and Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai, The 11th Hour documents the grave problems facing the planet's life systems. Global warming, deforestation, mass species extinction, and depletion of the oceans' habitats are all addressed. However, the most powerful element of The 11th Hour is not that it portrays a planet in crisis, but that it offers hope and solutions. The film ends with a call for restorative action through reshaping human activity.

Check out the website for more information on the film.
>> www.11thhouraction.com

The 11th Hour opened on August 17th in New York and Los Angeles. It will open in other cities across the country in the upcoming weeks. It would be great if you could go see it and bring a friend. You can go to our website to get more information on the movie and when it will play near you.

We need the message of this movie to hit as far and wide as possible.
The hope is us. Let's begin.

Thank you,

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio

UK – Hedgehogs House Sparrows and starlings Included In List of Species needing protection.

The new Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) of UK has included Hedgehogs, House Sparrows and starlings in the list of 1,149 species in need of conservation and greater protection. The plan includes 65 habitats as being in need of better conservation and protection. Other animals added to the list for the first time include the grass snake and the garden tiger moth. The BAP list considered to be one of the most authoritative reference sources for the state of the UK's wildlife is expected to give greater thrust to conservation measures in UK. BAP also contributes to global conservation commitments, outlined in the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Monday, August 27, 2007

Brazil - Manatees reintroduction Programme

Manatees (Trichechus inungis) of Amazon, which plays a vital role in the river ecosystem, are declining at an alarming rate. Habitat loss,hunting and slow rate of reproduction are the main causes of decline. Alarmed at this rapid decline scientists are planning reintroduction possibilities. National Amazon Research Institute (INPA) plans to introduce two male manatees into the Rio Cuieiras , a tributary of the Rio Negro. The scientists hope they will seek out females and begin repopulating the area. INPA has 36 manatees in captivity. They hope to utilise 18 of them for reintroduction trials. INPA is also planning an awareness programme to educate people living in the area about the manatee's importance to the environment.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Argentina - Huge New Marine National Park To Be Created

Argentina will create a new National Park along the Patagonia coast to safeguard more than half a million penguins and other rare seabirds like endangered Olrog’s gull and the white-headed steamer duck. The new park serves as a nesting and feeding ground for around 250,000 pairs of Magellanic penguin, estimated to represent 20 percent of the world’s population and the only colonies of Southern American fur seals. The area is also one of the most productive marine ecosystems on the planet.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Austria – Rare Birth - Panda Born in Zoo

Natural birth of birth of Pandas in zoos is a rare occurrence. The standard practice in zoo is artificial insemination. Viennaa’s Tiergarten Schoenbrunn zoo on Thursday celebrated the natural birth of a panda cub. The mother Yang Yang and mate Long Hui are on extended loan from China. The gestation period was 127 days. The last panda born in a zoo in Europe was in 1982 in Madrid.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Cambodia – DNA Tests on Elephant Dungs To Determine Elephant Numbers

600 elephant dung samples collected from Cambodia will be sent to Australia to determine the actual numbers of elephants. They will be analyzed at the Wantirna laboratory DNA Solutions in Melbourne. Mr Heffernan, from conservation group Fauna & Flora, is leading the project. Because each animal has a unique DNA profile, the scientists can use genetic testing to work out numbers. The size of the droppings provides clues about age, while the DNA fingerprinting will reveal details about sex ratios. The current estimate of elephants in Cambodia is only a guesstimate.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Peace Parks – A New Book

Peace Parks, a new book from the IUCN stable, with a foreword by the World Conservation Union’s Director General, Julia Marton-Lefèvre, explores how peace parks can help resolve political and territorial disputes. Real-life examples, such as the Selous-Niassa Wildlife Corridor in Africa and the Emerald Triangle conservation zone in Indochina are highlighted. IUCN the World Conservation Union describes the book as not only a groundbreaking book in international relations, but also a valuable resource for policy makers and environmentalists.

If you are interested in details about the book please contact

Sarah Halls, Global Media Relations Officer, The World Conservation Union (IUCN), Tel: +41 22 999 0127, e-mail: sarah.halls@iucn.org,

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ireland - The Return Of The White-Tailed Eagle

White-Tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla ) which disappeared from Ireland about 100 years ago has made a comeback. On 16th August Mr. John Gormley, Minister for the Environment released six White Tailed Eagles into the wild in Killarney National Park as part of the programme to reintroduce this native bird of prey in Ireland. These birds had pride of place in the cultural and natural heritage of Ireland for hundreds of years but due to trapping and shooting in the 19th and early 20th centuries they became extinct. The eagle chicks came from Norway. The project will operate over a five-year period with about 15 birds being released on each occasion. It is expected that most of the eagles released will disperse to the coastline after a few months

Friday, August 17, 2007

Campaign Against illegal wildlife Trade Items Being Brought to the UK As Souvenirs

A WWF initiated campaign is on, to educate and prevent British holidaymakers from bringing back illegal wildlife Trade Items. Last year, British customs officials’ confiscated more than 163,000 illegal wildlife trade items, many made from highly endangered species. This included: 158,000 illegal plants such as orchids and cycads; 221 elephant ivory and skin products; and 959 live reptiles such as snakes, chameleons, tortoises and terrapins. The unintentional act of holidaymakers is pushing some species to the brink of extinction. Under the CITES agreement, 827 species of animals and plants are banned from international trade and a further 32,840 is strictly controlled.

Tahrcountry congratulates WWF UK for this initiative. This needs to be duplicated in other countries also.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Migrate And Get Lucky In Love – The Hyena Story

The latest research on Spotted Hyenas by Dr. Oliver Honer from the Liebniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin has come up with some fascinating facts about Spotted Hyenas. Female Spotted Hyenas prefer an outsider when it comes to mating, males that have immigrated from another group after the female was born. This in turn prevents inbreeding. The research was done in Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. Read the details in the latest issue of Journal Nature

"The 11th Hour" from DiCaprio

The documentary "The 11th Hour” from DiCaprio is set for release on August 17th.It is a compilation of interviews with leading scientists, designers, experts, historians and thinker and highlights the threat of global warming and consumption. DiCaprio thinks this is bound to galvanize people in thinking green. For his part he tries to do everything possible except walking to work. He has maintained a hybrid car for almost six years and his house is built "green".

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

IUCN & UNESCO sends mission to investigate gorilla shootings in Congo(DRC)

IUCN The World Conservation Union and UNESCO are sending a mission to investigate shooting of four critically endangered Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park, in Democratic Republic of Congo, last week. The joint IUCN and UNESCO mission departed on August 11. The team will spend 10 days in Congo and will have meetings with Government representatives in Kinshasa, the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the park’s guards and political and military leaders. The mission will suggest measures to protect the animals and improve the conservation of the national park, which has been on the list of World Heritage sites in danger since 1994. Virunga National Park was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979 for its aesthetic and geological importance and for being a biodiversity hotspot. It was added to the danger list 15 years later amid concerns of poaching, deforestation and the effects of armed militia.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

France - Sad News- Freed Brown Bear Killed In Road Accident

My French contacts inform me that the female bear, named Franska, one of a group of brown bears released in the mountain ranges between France and Spain last year has been killed in a road accident near the southern French town of Lourdes. The release of the bears was under a European programme to help species in danger of extinction. Franska had run in to controversy recently with local farmers alleging that she was responsible for many sheep deaths in the area.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Pygmy Elephants Threatened In Borneo

Asia's largest project for the satellite tracking of elephants initiated by WWF has come up with disturbing news about pygmy elephants. Habitat destruction is driving them to the brink of extinction. There are fewer than 1,500 pygmy elephants left in Borneo their sole habitat. WWF has urged for immediate counter measures to be put in place, to stop destruction of habitat and preservation of corridors.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Large-antlered muntjac Photographed in Laos

My friends in Laos inform me that recently the Large-antlered Muntjac has been photographed for the first time using camera traps set in Nakai Nam Theun National Protected Area (NNT NPA), in the Annamite Mountains. Previous records were from specimens collected by hunters and a few fleeting glimpses by biologists. Another rare species found in the area is Annamite striped rabbit, one of the world's rarest and least-known rabbit.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Unusual Fossilized Cypress Trees discovered in Hungary

Hungarian scientists have discovered a group of fossilized swamp cypress trees estimated to be 8 million years old, in the Northeastern village of Bukkabrany. Many trees have been preserved in their original position in this place. Instead of petrifying the original wood has been preserved. This is a rarity. The find is expected to provide clues about the climate of pre-historic times