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Posts tagged ‘Animal Kingdom’

Prague Zoo sends 3 pelicans to London’s St. James’s Park

May 30, 2019

PRAGUE (AP) — Three great white pelicans are on their way from Prague Zoo to Britain to join a famed flock that has made London’s St. James’s Park home since the 17th century. Keepers were carefully carrying the birds one by one Thursday morning to transport cages on of a van will take them on the 17-hour drive to the British capital.

It is for the third time the zoo has sent its pelicans to the park. It started with four birds in 1995 when the zoo was one of the few in Europe capable of breeding them. Three others followed in 2013.

Two males, Sun and Moon, and a female, Star, who were born in February, will join the current colony of three in London. The pelicans were first introduced to the park near the Buckingham Palace in 1664 as a gift to king Charles II from a Russian ambassador.


Sierra Leone bans industrial fishing for a month

Freetown (AFP)

April 1, 2019

Sierra Leone has banned industrial fishing in its territorial waters for a month from Monday in a move to try to shore up stocks that was applauded by environmental activists.

The government also decreed an April 1-30 halt to exports by major fishing companies “to protect our fish stock from depletion”, said a statement from the fisheries ministry.

“All industrial fishing companies should stock their fish in cold rooms … during the period of closure,” Minister of Fisheries Emma Kowa Jalloh told AFP.

The West African states of Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Sierra Leone lost about $2.3 billion (more than 2.1 billion euros) a year from 2010 to 2016 due to illegal and undeclared fishing, according to the Greenpeace environmental group.

Sierra Leone National Fishermen Consortium chairman Alpha Sheku Kamara accused China and Korea of destroying stocks.

“We are happy that the government has declared fishing period closure after series of complaints,” he told AFP at the bustling Tombo fishing community outside the capital Freetown.

“Industrial fishing boats from China and Korea are destroying our nets and also depleting the fish stock,” he said.

“We are calling on the government to effectively enforce the ban with surveillance.”

Many coastal communities in Sierra Leone depend on fishing for food and their livelihood, said Steve Trent, executive director at Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF).

“We applaud the ban but the long answer is for legal, equitable and sustainable fishing industry management to be introduced.”

“We are working towards helping Sierra Leone with surveillance boats and regulatory framework for sustainable fishing methods,” Trent said.

“Illegal fishing accounts for about 30 percent of catches by industrial foreign fleets in Sierra Leone, according to the 2017 Sea Around Us project at the University of British Columbia, the University of California at Berkeley and five other organizations.

It found that in the past decade industrial foreign vessels have increased illegal activities off Sierra Leone either on their own or by enticing small-scale fishers into illicit partnerships.

Reduced monitoring and surveillance resulting from the withdrawal of development aid encouraged unlicensed operations, researchers said, noting an estimated 42,000 tonnes caught by illegal fishing in 2015.

A representative of a large Chinese fishing company in Sierra Leone declined to comment to AFP.

Source: Terra Daily.


Chinese official hands over new panda to Vienna zoo

May 20, 2019

VIENNA (AP) — A senior Chinese official has officially handed over a 19-year-old male giant panda to Vienna’s Schoenbrunn zoo. Yuan Yuan arrived in Vienna last month and has spent the last few weeks in quarantine. He was chosen as a partner for Yang Yang, the zoo’s 18-year-old female panda, who has been at the zoo since 2003 but without a companion since its previous male, Long Hui, died of cancer in 2016.

Li Zhanshu, the head of China’s parliament, handed over Yuan Yuan at a ceremony Monday. China lends the rare bears to other countries as a sign of goodwill in what is known as “panda diplomacy.” Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen described the animals as a “symbol of friendship” and said they have a “certain diplomatic mission.”

Beluga whale with Russian harness raises alarm in Norway

April 29, 2019

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A beluga whale found with a tight harness that appeared to be Russian made has raised the alarm of Norwegian officials and prompted speculation that the animal may have come from a Russian military facility.

Joergen Ree Wiig of the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries says “Equipment St. Petersburg” is written on the harness strap, which features a mount for an action camera. He said Monday fishermen in Arctic Norway last week reported the tame white cetacean with a tight harness swimming around. On Friday, fisherman Joar Hesten, aided by the Ree Wiig, jumped into the frigid water to remove the harness.

Ree Wiig said “people in Norway’s military have shown great interest” in the harness. Audun Rikardsen, a professor at the Department of Arctic and Marine Biology at the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsoe, northern Norway, believes “it is most likely that Russian Navy in Murmansk” is involved. Russia has major military facilities in and around Murmansk on the Kola Peninsula, in the far northwest of Russia.

It wasn’t immediately clear what the mammal was being trained for, or whether it was supposed to be part of any Russian military activity in the region. Rikardsen said he had checked with scholars in Russia and Norway and said they have not reported any program or experiments using beluga whales.

“This is a tame animal that is used to get food served so that is why it has made contacts with the fishermen,” he said. “The question is now whether it can survive by finding food by itself. We have seen cases where other whales that have been in Russian captivity doing fine.”

Hesten told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the whale began to rub itself again his boat when he first spotted it. Russia does not have a history of using whales for military purposes but the Soviet Union had a full-fledged training program for dolphins.

The Soviet Union used a base in Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula during the Cold War to train the mammals for military purposes such as searching for mines or other objects and planting explosives. The facility in Crimea was closed following the collapse of the Soviet Union, though unnamed reports shortly after the Russian annexation of Crimea indicated that it had reopened.

The Russian Defense Ministry published a public tender in 2016 to purchase five dolphins for a training program. The tender did not explain what tasks the dolphins were supposed to perform, but indicated they were supposed to have good teeth. It was taken offline shortly after publication.

Wild animals get care at private Russian center

March 20, 2019
RAPPOLOVO, Russia (AP) — Gena the crocodile was left in a trash can. Elza the lion was roaming free in the cargo hold of a plane. As Tonya the bear grew up, the chain she wore dug so tightly into her skin that it started to cut through bone.
Luckily for these wild animals, and some 200 others, they have now found their way to the Veles Center, an out-of-the-way operation regarded as Russia’s premier facility for rehabilitating wild animals that were abandoned or fell victim to human callousness.
Taking care of all of them costs about 10 million rubles ($155,000) a year. The center gets help from volunteers and public donations, but much of the funding comes from Alexander Fyodorov, the St. Petersburg construction company owner who founded the center in 2009.
“It is probably not enough to say that I like wild animals who normally get little help and that a part of my life belongs here,” said Fyodorov. “I also want to do something important in this life.” The crocodile was simply left in a trash can and found by a street cleaner, he said.
“The cleaner at first thought it was a toy crocodile in good condition, but then the toy crocodile came to life.” The lion came to the center in a mixture of comedy and pathos after she was flown to St. Petersburg as an unannounced gift from one wealthy businessman to another.
“During the flight, she escaped from the cage and was wandering in the luggage compartment. When the plane landed at Pulkovo airport and personnel started to unload luggage, they found a lion that was attacking people,” said center veterinarian Natalya Bondarenko.
The man for whom Elza was intended asked the center to take charge of her. She appears to have happily adapted to life at Veles, bounding through the snow in her outdoor enclosure and rolling on her back kittenishly.
The bear, Tonya, spent eight years chained up before she came to Veles. “There were two chains around her neck that grew into the body; one grew seven centimeters (nearly three inches) inside her neck,” Fyodorov said.
“The bear had several surgeries. The last chain link reached the backbone. We cut a little part of the bone to remove that piece of chain.” The center aims to release its animals back into the wild, but for many that’s not possible because of environment or because they become dependent on human care and lose their survival skills.
For some of the animals, going back to the wild would mean leaving friends. For instance, a wolf named Vuk, who was found abandoned as a pup, has somehow appointed himself protector of the bears who live in an adjacent enclosure.
“The wolf considers himself a father for the bears, takes care of them, protects them if he feels there is any danger,” the vet Bondarenko said. Other occupants of the center, 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of St. Petersburg, include foxes, elks, donkeys, storks, peacocks and a group of 11 hedgehogs who bask in the attention of volunteer Yekaterina Gilchyonok, stretching for caresses rather than rolling into protective balls.
Veles, named after a Slavic pagan god of cattle, is an unusual undertaking in Russia, where care for wild animals largely is a “disaster,” says Svetlana Ilyinskaya of the Center for Legal Protection of Animals.
“We are missing centers both for saving animals and for supporting them. There is no state support or policy regarding the matter,” she says.

Croatia’s top oyster farmers in alarm after norovirus found

March 11, 2019

MALI STON, Croatia (AP) — Oyster farming is the pride of this small town in the south of Croatia’s Adriatic Sea coast. But tasting the famed local delicacy may not be a good idea at the moment. Authorities have detected norovirus, which causes diarrhea and vomiting, in parts of the Mali Ston bay — triggering shock and alarm among the breeders.

The traditional oyster-tasting feast in March has been canceled and fears are mounting of huge financial losses to the local community that harvests about 3 million oysters each year. Experts are pointing their fingers at the outdated sewage system in the area that has seen a rise in the numbers of tourists flocking to Croatia’s stunning Adriatic coast.

“I am really sorry but people themselves are to blame that something like this happened,” explained Vlado Onofri from the Institute for Marine and Coastal Research in nearby Dubrovnik. “It’s something that has to be solved in the future.”

While some stomach bugs can be eliminated with cooking, norovirus survives at relatively high temperatures. “The problem with oysters is that they are eaten raw,” Onofri said. Stunned locals pointed out their oysters are famous for high quality — a 1936 award from a London international exhibition still hangs on the wall in Svetan Pejic’s La Koruna restaurant in Mali Ston.

“Our oyster here is really a special oyster … and this is the only place (in the world) where it can be found,” he insisted. “Everyone wants to take our oysters and try to breed them elsewhere.” Navigating the oyster fields in their small boats, the farmers proudly show visitors rows and rows of oyster-filled underwater farm beds spreading through the bay.

Top municipal official Vedran Antunica questioned the assumption that the local sewage system was to blame for the outbreak. “Viruses are everywhere, now as we speak, the air is full of viruses,” Antunica said. “We had the same sewage system in the past, so why wasn’t it (norovirus) recorded? What has changed?”

Wild carnivores are making a comeback in Britain

by Brooks Hays

Washington (UPI)

Feb 26, 2019

Most of Britain’s native mammalian carnivores are rebounding, according to a new study.

Populations of badgers, foxes, otters, pine martens, polecats, stoats and weasels are all growing. Only wildcats continue to struggle.

Hunting, trapping, pollution and habitat destruction shrunk carnivore numbers across Britain during the 1900s and the first half of the 20th century. Most of the threats facing Britain’s carnivores have been stopped or reduced. As a result, the mammals have made a comeback.

“Unlike most carnivores across the world, which are declining rapidly, British carnivores declined to their low points decades ago and are now bouncing back,” Katie Sainsbury, an environmental scientist and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Exeter, said in a news release. “Carnivores have recovered in a way that would have seemed incredibly unlikely in the 1970s, when extinction of some species looked like a real possibility.”

Sainsbury and her research partners compiled the results of surveys documenting the health of local populations of badgers, foxes, otters, pine martens, polecats, stoats and weasels. The surveys revealed evidence of growing numbers and expanding ranges for badgers, foxes, otters, pine martens and polecats.

Though there is no evidence of decline among stoats and weasels, accurate population numbers are difficult to come by.

“These small and fast-moving predators are hard to see and to survey,” said Robbie McDonald, wildlife scientist and Exeter professor. “Ironically, the best means of monitoring them is from the records of gamekeepers who trap them. People are key to carnivore recovery.”

Only foxes have suffered a setback. Over the past decade, fox numbers are once again shrinking after several decades of recovery. Researchers estimate declining rabbit numbers are to blame.

Researchers shared the results of their research in the journal Mammal Review.

“Most of these animals declined in the 19th century, but they are coming back as a result of legal protection, conservation, removal of pollutants and restoration of habitats,” McDonald said. “The recovery of predatory mammals in Britain shows what happens when you reduce the threats that animals face. For the most part these species have recovered by themselves.”

As carnivore numbers increase, conservationists and wildlife officials will have to contend with how to manage their interactions with and effects on humans, especially gamekeepers, farmers and anglers.

Source: Terra Daily.


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