Tag Archives: Environment

The Forgotten Endangered Animals

 

International Court victory for whales

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Pic: Paul Hilton/Greenpeace

Japanese whaling in the Antarctic Ocean was ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice this afternoon. This is a landmark ruling which will stop hundreds of whales being killed each year in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica in the name of “research”.

Australia had asked the Court to stop Japan’s annual whaling hunting expedition, claiming their programme is not scientific but commercial, because of its large scale. Japan catches about 1,000 whales each year for what it calls scientific research.

In a statement, the court said: “The special permits granted by Japan for the killing, taking and treating of whales in connection with JARPA II are not ‘for purposes of scientific research’ pursuant to [the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling].”

The court’s decision is considered legally binding and Japan has said in the past that it would abide by the court’s ruling. But this isn’t the end of the story. While this may stop Japan’s whaling efforts in the Southern Ocean, campaigners fear that Japan could still try and find new excuses to continue this cull under another guise.

Greenpeace is urging governments to support a huge network of marine reserves that will act as sanctuaries for the diverse, beautiful, weird and wonderful species all over the world, including places like the Antarctic, which is under threat from commercial fishing and climate change.

They are calling on politicians to create a vast network of marine reserves to protect the Antarctic and species like emperor penguins, minke whales and colossal squid.

 

Big Garden Birdwatch 2014

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Pic: RSPB

More than half a million people are expected to be watching their garden birds the weekend (25-26 January), for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

It’s the biggest wildlife survey in the world and this year participants are being asked to log some of the other wildlife they see in their gardens too, including deer, squirrels, badgers, hedgehogs, frogs and toads.

Also new for 2014, is the RSPB’s LIVE bird counter, making it even easier to take part. The counter can be accessed from the RSPB website and doesn’t even need to be downloaded – simply take your laptop, tablet or smartphone to the window, enter the birds you see as you see them, while the clock counts down your hour.

Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director says: ”Winter has felt more like autumn for many of us and this could have a significant impact on the number of birds in our gardens.

“Birds come into gardens for food when they can’t find it in the wider countryside but if insects and berries continue to be available long into winter, numbers visiting gardens may be down. The Big Garden Birdwatch will be really interesting this year and will be a good indication of just how much the weather affects their behaviour.

“The key thing for the RSPB is that even if you feel you don’t have as many birds in your garden compared to normal, we still desperately need your results. We will be able to compare results to other mild winter years and compare regional trends, so if you don’t see many birds, we still need to know, it’s really useful information.

“The more people that take part, the greater our understanding of the threats and the solutions will be.”

Starlings hit an all time low in the 2013 Birdwatch with their numbers sinking by a further 16 per cent from 2012. Numbers of house sparrows, which are of high conservation concern, dropped by 17 percent in gardens compared to 2012, whilst numbers of bullfinches and dunnocks were down by 20 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.

The data gathered on the mammal and amphibian species will be shared with conservation partners so they can add it to their own records and will be used to help the RSPB tailor its advice on giving nature a home so people can help their wild visitors nest, feed and breed successfully.

To take part, people are asked to spend just one hour at any time of the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend noting the highest number of each bird species seen in their gardens or local outside space at anyone time. They then have three weeks to submit their results to the RSPB, either online or in the post.

Participants don’t have to actually count the other species like hedgehogs and frogs during the birdwatch hour; just tell the RSPB whether they have ever seen them in their gardens, at any time of year.

Gloucestershire badger cull called off

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Great news that the badger cull in Gloucestershire is being abandoned after marksmen failed to kill enough badgers to meet their greatly reduced targets.

The collapse of the trial means that the controversial cull is to end three weeks earlier than planned. Also, according to a document seen by the BBC, the licence will be revoked early by Natural England (NE).

The NE document says: “It is recommended that the daily removal rate of badgers is monitored closely and if the rate falls below projections (such that a significant reduction in badger numbers may not be achieved) then we should consider terminating culling operations (by revoking the licence) as in this scenario there is unlikely to be a net benefit from continued culling.”

The pilot culls were testing whether shooting free-running badgers at night could kill sufficient numbers of the animal to reduce TB in cattle herds and the one in Gloucestershire was tasked with killing 70% of all badgers in the area in a maximum of six weeks.

However,  just 30% were killed in that time, leading to an eight-week extension. A revised target  of 58% was set but shooters have failed to kill enough badgers on any night and several night saw no kills at all. The extended cull was due to end on 18 December.

Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, had wanted to roll out the culls across the country, but will have to wait for the verdict of an independent panel of experts, which will judge whether the culls have been effective, safe and humane.

Mark Jones, Executive Director of Humane Society International-UK said: “I am much relieved the government’s badger cull fiasco is finally over, for the time being at least. We hope the government will now do the decent thing and admit that killing badgers to control TB in cattle is a ludicrous and inhumane idea.”

Dominic Dyer, of Care for the Wild, said a protest against the cull in Bristol today would now turn into a celebration. “We’ve already learned lessons about culling – that it doesn’t work,” he said. “We know that there is another way – an improved cattle management system, in conjunction with volunteer-led badger vaccination.”

Green MP arrested in anti-fracking protest

Green MP Caroline Lucas is arrested near Balcombe during anti-fracking protest at Cuadrilla

Pic: The Guardian

The UK’s only Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas,  was among dozens of anti-fracking protesters arrested today as a “day of action” saw thousands of people take part in demonstrations at sites across the country.

Hundreds of activists blockaded the Balcombe oil drilling site in Sussex owned by Cuadrilla, as well as its Lichfield headquarters and the offices of its PR firm.

Demonstrators hung banners at the country home of the Conservative Lord Howells, who stirred controversy by suggesting the “desolate” north should be fracked and attempted to put up a small wind turbine at the home of Tory MP Francis Maude,  whose constituency includes Balcombe.

Protesters at Balcombe blocked part of the site road but were driven back by police. Lucas, who is the The MP for Brighton Pavilion, said she joined the protest to make up for the “democratic deficit” that was allowing corporate oil and gas interests to trump the concerns of ordinary people.

“Along with everyone else who took action today, I’m trying to stop a process which could cause enormous damage for decades to come,” she said today.

“People today, myself included, took peaceful non-violent direct action only after exhausting every other means of protest available to us. Despite the opposition to fracking being abundantly clear, the government has completely ignored the views of those they are supposed to represent.”

Thousands join march against fracking

Anti-fracking protests

Demonstrations in Balcombe today. Pic: Gareth Fuller/PA

Thousands of people marched through the Sussex countryside today in the biggest show of strength to date for the UK’s anti-fracking movement, the start of a three-day campaign against exploratory drilling near the village of Balcombe in west Sussex.

More than 2,000 supporters from around the country arrived in coaches and by train and filled “matchmaking” forms to on arrival, listing their preferences and skills in activities such as climbing, standing their ground, getting through or over fences, looking after people, providing entertainment or documenting the action.

Cuadrilla has in the past few days, after discussions with local police, halted drilling activities at the site and removed some equipment. The company has also urged protestors not to attempt anything that could compromise their own safety. The firm has partially drilled an exploratory oil well on the site and tests on the data obtained from drilling will help to determine whether the company presses on with its plans.

Protestor Liz Lyddon, from Brighton, said: “I am very concerned about climate change for our future generations. Fracking is not the direction we should be taking – there should be a huge investment in renewable green energy but there is no sign that any of our politicians are even thinking seriously about that.

“This shows that the opposition to fracking is growing.. and I do think that as people start to think about fracking they will begin to think about the wider issues around climate change and energy supply.”

Cattle transport, not badgers, really causes bovine tuberculosis

Dear Kitty. Some blog

This video from Britain says about itself:

Watch this cute badger cub run round in circles with excitement as it sets off for an evening outing.

From Wildlife Extra, about Britain:

Defra statistics show bTB soared after cattle imports

A case of foot in mouth for Defra as their own evidence reveals true cause of bTB outbreak

May 2013. Statistics released by Defra in a bid to explain why the badger cull must go ahead have, in fact, revealed the true cause of the bTB outbreak that they are trying to stop, say Care for the Wild.

bTB soared after Foot and Mouth controls relaxed

Figures show that incidences of bTB soared in 2000/2001, in certain areas. This correlates almost exactly with the relaxation of movement controls after the Foot and Mouth epidemic, which saw large numbers of herds restocked from the UK and across Europe.

Influx of untested…

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