Monday, 22 September 2014

Responsible tourism can positively impact whales, says travel company

Leading ethical travel agent have put together a guide to whale-friendly tourism, outlining the ways in which people can take responsible whale watching trips that will result in supporting and protecting vulnerable whale species.

A recent US report indicates that populations of California blue whale have almost returned to their pre-whaling levels. According to researchers at the University of Washington, population levels are now 97 per cent of their historic levels.

The report also highlighted the plight of other blue whale populations across the globe. In Antarctica things are quite different for blue whales, with the population at just 1 per cent of their historic levels. This is due to international commercial whaling, and reports have found that busy international shipping routes put the whales at further risk.

New nature reserve to open in London

East Reservoir in London will be transformed into Woodberry Wetlands in 2015

London Wildlife trust will be transforming what was formerly Stoke Newington Reserve into Woodberry Wetlands, a new nature reserve in north east London set to open to the public in 2015.

The Wildlife trust has secured a total of £1.5 million in order to complete the reserve, on which will be built a bridge, boardwalk, café and visitor centre, designed to provide public access while minimising disturbance to wildlife.

The site – which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and owned by Thames Water, Hackney Council, and Berkley Homes – will give people the chance to enjoy nature in the heart of north east London. Visiting school and community groups will learn about urban wildlife, and volunteers will gain skills in practical nature conservation.

Chief Executive of London Wildlife Trust Carlo Laurenzi said: “The creation of Woodberry Wetlands shows that we can bring nature back into people’s lives, even in the heart of north east London. A new visitor centre and walkways will give free access to large parts of the site and we will significantly increase areas of reed bed and wildflower meadow to enhance the wildlife habitat.”

Concerns raised that South Africa set to reduce protection for elephants

Posted by: Ainsley Hay / posted on September 16th, 2014

At a recent stakeholder meeting called by the Department of Environmental Affairs to discuss proposed amendments to the Elephant Norms and Standards, it became apparent that the Department appears to be intending to remove all welfare-based provisions relating to elephants.

The Department states that it is experiencing difficulties enforcing and implementing the Elephant Norms and Standards. This has been highlighted by the recent civil charges laid regarding the four elephant calves illegally removed from the wild at Sandhurst Safaris, and placed into captivity at Elephants of Eden and now Knysna Elephant Park, an elephant-back safari operator.

The Department is essentially proposing that instead of addressing its shortcomings in enforcement and implementation, it will simply remove the pieces of the law that are being broken. No other concrete motivations have been provided.

Tropical fish a threat to Mediterranean Sea ecosystems

The tropical rabbitfish which have devastated algal forests in the eastern Mediterranean Sea pose a major threat to the entire Mediterranean basin if their distribution continues to expand as the climate warms, a new study warns.

The study, by an international team of researchers led by Dr Adriana Vergés of UNSW Australia and Dr Fiona Tomas of the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies in Spain, is published in the Journal of Ecology.

Members of the team surveyed more than 1000 kilometres of coastline in Turkey and Greece, where two species of rabbitfish have become dominant since they moved into the region via the Suez Canal.

"The study identified two clearly distinct areas – warmer regions with abundant rabbitfish and colder regions where they were rare or absent," says Dr Vergés.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Iberian pig genome remains unchanged after five centuries

September 17, 2014

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

A team of Spanish researchers have obtained the first partial genome sequence of an ancient pig. Extracted from a sixteenth century pig found at the site of the Montsoriu Castle in Girona, the data obtained indicates that this ancient pig is closely related to today's Iberian pig. Researchers also discard the hypothesis that Asian pigs were crossed with modern Iberian pigs.

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