Friday, 28 August 2015

Postcode Lottery grants £200,000 to Liwonde National Park

African Parks is pleased to announce that players of People’s Postcode Lottery have awarded the charity £200,000 in funding to be used for the rehabilitation of Liwonde National Park in Malawi.

In July, African Parks concluded a 20 year agreement with the Government of Malawi to manage Liwonde National Park and Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. Liwonde National Park is home to the largest remaining elephant population in Malawi as well as populations of black rhino.

The funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery will be used for the socio-economic development of local communities, to restore the biodiversity of the park, to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources, to reduce the incidence of human-wildlife conflict and to enhance the tourism product. It will also be used for the development of infrastructure which will not only facilitate park operations but also benefit local communities.

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “We have been impressed by the track record of African Parks when it comes to conservation and I am delighted that the support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery will contribute to the protection of wildlife in Malawi.”

New species of crayfish named after Edward Snowden

AUGUST 27, 2015
by Chuck Bednar

Edward Snowden is best known as the man who blew the whistle on the US National Security Agency’s surveillance activity, but thanks to researchers at the Humboldt University of Berlin, he now has another claim to fame – as the namesake for a new species of crayfish.

The new species, which is described in a recent edition of the journal ZooKeys, has been named the Cherax snowden and was found in the freshwater tributary creeks in West Papau, Indonesia, by German scientist Christian Lukhaup and his colleagues, The Washington Post reported.

So what made him Lukhaup name this new creature after Snowden, who leaked top-secret NSA documents to a trio of journalists back in 2013, exposing the agency’s surveillance program? He wrote that it was because he viewed the controversial figure as an “American freedom fighter.”

“After describing a couple new species, I thought about naming one after Edward Snowden because he really impressed me,” he told the newspaper. “We have so many species named after other famous people who probably don't do so much for humanity. I wanted to show support for Edward Snowden. I think what he did is something very special.”

Spotted: Rare nautilus seen after three decades

AUGUST 28, 2015

by Chuck Bednar

A species of nautilus that has been called possibly “the rarest animal in the world” has been found in the wild for the first time in 30 years, and as fate would have it, one of the biologists who spotted was also a member of the research team that saw it three decades ago.

Peter Ward of the University of Washington identified the creature, Allonautilus scrobiculatus, off the coast of Papua New Guinea in 1984 along with colleague Bruce Saunders of Bryn Mawr College. He also briefly saw it again two years later, according to NBC News reports. That was the last time that any scientist laid eyes on the creature – until this past July, that is.

rare nautilusAs part of an expedition to Ndrova Island, Ward and his fellow investigators set up “bait on a stick” systems hundreds of feet below the surface of the water every evening, and recorded the activity around the suspended fish and chicken for 12-hour periods. One night, the elusive creature finally made an appearance and was soon joined by a second.

They were ultimately scared off by a sunfish, and during the course of their expedition, Ward’s team used baited traps to capture Allonautilus and several nautiluses at depths of about 600 feet. They were quickly brought to the surface in chilled water, since the creatures dislike heat. Small tissue, shell, and mucous samples were taken from each, and they were measured and released.

Badger cull to be extended into Dorset, government announces

The badger cull is to be extended into Dorset following pilots in Gloucestershire and Somerset, the government has announced.

Ministers and the National Farmers' Union (NFU) say culling badgers will curb tuberculosis (TB) in cattle, but protesters say it has little effect.

Licences have been granted to allow six weeks of continuous culling in the three counties until 31 January.

Rock star and campaigner Brian May said he would fight the culls in court.

His Save Me Trust trust confirmed the "lawfulness of the decisions to issue the licences will be challenged by a Judicial Review in the High Court".

May, well-known for his anti-cull protesting, said: "We are all hugely disappointed that the government has decided to continue its cull policy, despite Natural England's scientific advisor branding the badger cull 'an epic failure'."

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Creepy Kangaroos: Why They Stand So Still

by Elizabeth Goldbaum, Staff Writer | August 27, 2015 08:35am ET

A field of grey, motionless kangaroos staring down a bicyclist in a recent YouTube video is not evidence of marsupial zombies, scientists say — though the pouched Australians look eerily possessed.

The upright kangaroos peer intensely at Ben Vezina, who posted the video on YouTube on Aug. 23, as he approaches them on bike in Hawkstowe Park in Melbourne. When he gets close, the stoic-looking animals bounce away.

Although the zombielike kangaroos look ready to devour Vezina, their behavior is much more benign and typical. "It looks really normal," said Marian Powers, a zookeeper at Fort Wayne Children's Zoo in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

"Kangaroos are really curious and inquisitive animals," and are very aware of anything that is odd to them, Powers told Live Science. The kangaroos in the video were likely interrupted from their grazing when Vezina suddenly appeared, Powers added. 

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