Sunday 31 May 2015

Why is it raining worms in Norway? Bizarre weather phenomenon sees creatures fall from the sky across the south of the country

Teacher Karstein Erstad found thousands of live worms on top of the snow
There have been reports of worm rainfall in Norway following his report 
Mr Erstad says the 'very rare phenomenon' happened in Sweden in 1920s

PUBLISHED: 18:49, 16 April 2015 | UPDATED: 20:48, 16 April 2015

Thousands of live earthworms have been falling from the sky in Norway - a rare phenomenon being reported across large swathes of the south of the country.

A biology teacher discovered the worms on the surface of the snow while he was skiing in the mountains near Bergen at the weekend.

Numerous reports have been coming in after he told his story, and there have been sightings of worm rainfall.

Teacher Karstein Erstad told Norwegian news website The Local: 'When I found them on the snow they seemed to be dead, but when I put them in my hand I found that they were alive.'

Initially he thought they had wiggled their way through the snow, but dismissed this when he realised it was up to a metre deep in some places.

Discovered: stone tools that go back beyond earliest humans

20 May 2015, 7.18pm BST

Senior Research Fellow (Archaeology of Human Origins) at UCL

Matt Pope receives funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council and Historic England. Matt Pope is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, a council member of the Prehistoric Society and a member of the European Society for Human Evolution.

Archaeologists have discovered stone artefacts in Kenya dating back to 3.3m years ago – making them the oldest stone tools yet discovered. The finding pushes back the record of stone tools by 700,000 years. While the tools predate the earliest known representative of our own genus, Homo, it is not yet possible to pin down exactly which species created the tools.

However, the artefacts may provide a link between the kinds of stone tool used by chimpanzees and other primates for pounding and nut-cracking but which lack intentionally removed flakes and more sophisticated edged stone tools created by hominins. The findings, which add to a number of recent discoveries of the use of stone tools by early humans, could mean that time has come for us to start considering whether all hominins used tools.

40,000-year-old bracelet made by extinct human species found

By Stephen Morgan May 8, 2015 in Science

© Anatoly Derevyanko and Mikhail Shunkov, Vera Salnitskaya
In what is quite an amazing discovery, scientists have confirmed that a bracelet found in Siberia is 40,000 years old. This makes it the oldest piece of jewelry ever discovered, and archeologists have been taken aback by the level of its sophistication.

The bracelet was discovered in a site called the Denisova Cave in Siberia, close to Russia's border with China and Mongolia. It was found next to the bones of extinct animals, such as the wooly mammoth, and other artifacts dating back 125,000 years.

The cave is named after the Denisovan people — a mysterious species of hominins from the Homo genus, who are genetically different from both Homo sapiens and Neanderthals.

Bhitarkanika’s 18.5 feet long crocodile’s skeletal remains to be preserved

crocodile skeletonThe skeletal remains of one of the giant size crocodiles in Bhitarkanika National Park is decided to be preserved in the interpretation centre museum of the national park, by the authorities in Kendrapara district, as it is expected to create interest among the visitors.

The carcass of the 18.5 feet long male crocodile, one of the largest crocodiles in Bhitarkanika was found last month, near a creek of the national park.

“During post mortem it was found that it had died of age-related sickness. Its body was buried near the crocodile breeding and rearing center. The skeletal remains would be later pulled together for preservation,” Range Forest Officer, Akshya Kumar Nayak said.

Saturday 30 May 2015

Evidence of 430,000-year-old human violence found

By Victoria GillScience reporter, BBC News

28 May 2015 
From the sectionScience & Environment

Human remains from a cave in northern Spain show evidence of a lethal attack 430,000 years ago, a study has shown.

Researchers examined one skull from a site called the Pit of Bones, which contains the remains of at least 28 people.

They concluded that two fractures on that skull were likely to have been caused by "multiple blows" and imply "an intention to kill".

As well as providing a clue as to why the bodies were in the cave, scientists say the study provides grisly evidence that violence is an intrinsic part of the earliest human culture.

Mice in space develop thin skin

By Jonathan WebbScience reporter, BBC News

27 May 2015 

A study of three mice that spent 91 days on the International Space Station has found abnormalities in their skin.

This is a record stay for any animal in space; due to their short lifespan it equates to about seven "mouse years".

The study is one of 20 experiments looking at various parts of the mice to measure the health effects of zero-g.

Using microscopes, scientists found the "astromice" had thinner skin than mice that had stayed on the ground, as well as changes to their muscles and hair.

The findings appear in the new journal NPJ Microgravity. Researchers say they are only preliminary, because of the very small sample size of three mice. But the observations are of interest because astronauts often report skin problems after long periods in space.

"If these were experiments on Earth, it would never have been accepted for publication because we had only three mice - but this is a unique experiment," said Dr Betty Nusgens from the University of Liege in Belgium, one of the study's authors.

She said it was difficult to extrapolate the findings to humans, but noted that other research had looked at human astronauts.

Nasa and other space agencies have overseen several such studies, including one called SkinCare, which looked at changes in the skin of German astronaut Thomas Reiter during his year on board the International Space Station (ISS) in 2006-7. Another, Skin-B, is currently underway.

Man Discovers Cat Gave Birth to 4 Kittens in Bird's Nest in Ireland

May 29, 2015, 3:07 PM ET

While most people would expect to find birds in nests, Irish pet store owner Henry McGauley says he recently discovered four newborn kittens in a pigeon's nest on a tree in the back garden of his home.

"Henry had heard squawking in the morning, and he didn't know what it was, so he went up the ladder to investigate," Henry's wife, Fiona McGauley, told ABC News today. "That's when he saw four baby newborn kittens."

The couple believes the kittens were born there and that they were only a few days old when they were found this past Monday, Fiona said.

"Their eyes aren't even open," Fiona added. "We left them there because there's not much you can do because they have to be at least six weeks old before they can be taken from their mother."

'New species' of ancient human found

By Rebecca MorelleScience Correspondent, BBC News

28 May 2015 

A new species of ancient human has been unearthed in the Afar region of Ethiopia, scientists report.

Researchers discovered jaw bones and teeth, which date to between 3.3m and 3.5m years old.

It means this new hominin was alive at the same time as several other early human species, suggesting our family tree is more complicated than was thought.

The new species has been called Australopithecus deyiremeda, which means "close relative" in the language spoken by the Afar people.The bones were found in the Afar region of EthiopiaThe remains belong to four individuals and date to between 3.3m and 3.5m years old

The ancient remains are thought to belong to four individuals, who would have had both ape and human-like features..
Living with Lucy

Lead researcher Dr Yohannes Haile-Selassie, curator of physical anthropology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in the US, told BBC News: "We had to look at the detailed anatomy and morphology of the teeth and the upper and lower jaws, and we found major differences.

Friday 29 May 2015

India's 'man-eating' tiger to stay in Rajasthan zoo

3 hours ago 
From the sectionIndia

A court in India's Rajasthan state has rejected a plea to release a tiger who has been branded a killer and caged.

Nine-year-old Ustad was tranquilised and shifted from a national park to a zoo earlier this month after he killed three men, including a forest guard.

A tiger lover had petitioned the court, saying caging the tiger was against India's wildlife laws.

India's tiger population stood at 2,226 in 2014. The country is home to 70% of the world's tigers.

Ustad, who lived in the 400 sq km (99,000-acre) Ranthambore National Park, popular for its tiger safaris, was shot with a tranquilising dart and driven to a zoo 400km (250 miles) away earlier this month.

He had been declared the prime suspect in the killing of a 53-year-old forest guard on 8 May. He was also accused of killing a 23-year-old local man in 2010 and a 19-year-old boy in March 2012.

The tiger is now is caged in an enclosure smaller than a football field in a zoological park in Udaipur district.

Alberta 'creationist' finds 60m-year-old fish fossils

50 minutes ago 
From the sectionUS & Canada
The fish fossils were found in rocks which are 60 million years old

When Calgary digger driver Edgar Nernberg came across five fish fossils in his digger bucket, he knew right away his find was "extraordinary".

The Albertan, who has a longstanding interest in fossils, was digging a basement for a new home in Calgary's north-west.

Mr Nernberg is, according to reports, a donor to Alberta's Big Valley Creation Science Museum.

However, he realised these fossils should be seen by a palaeontologist.

"When the five fish fossils presented themselves to me in the excavator bucket, the first thing I said was you're coming home with me, the second thing was I better call a palaeontologist," Mr Nernberg said, according to a statement from the University of Calgary.

The specimens were in sandstone from the Paskapoo Formation, a Palaeocene age sedimentary rock which underlies parts of southern Alberta.

'Hasn't changed my mind'
About 60 million years old, these rocks preserve evidence of life from the time following the mass extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous period, which wiped out three-quarters of all species on earth, including the dinosaurs.

"Because complete fossils are relatively rare from this time period in Alberta, any such discoveries are significant as they shed light on the nature and diversity of animals that lived not long after the extinction of the dinosaurs," said University of Calgary palaeontologist Darla Zelenitsky.

'Purring' Wolf Spiders Softly Serenade Mates

by Laura Geggel, Staff Writer | May 28, 2015 11:30am ET

Male wolf spiders use "purring" vibrations to serenade their sweethearts, but this wooing only works if the females can feel these vibrations, new research finds.

For the females to feel these vibrations, the courting couple must be standing on a suitable surface that can vibrate, like dry leaves, the researchers said in the new study.

Scientists had known that wolf spiders could make airborne sounds that are audible to humans. But this group of spiders doesn't have typical ears, and it's assumed that the critters can't actually hear any airborne sounds, said Alexander Sweger, a doctoral student of biology at the University of Cincinnati, who presented the unpublished research at the Acoustical Society of America's annual meeting in Pittsburgh on May 21. [Watch Wolf Spiders Make "Purring" Vibrations (Video)]

New app from IFAW promotes whale friendly tourism in Iceland

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW have launched a free ‘Whappy’ app, that contains information about whale friendly restaurants in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik which have pledged not to serve whale meat. It also features whale watching operators, whale friendly souvenirs and an identification guide for whales and dolphins that can be seen in Icelandic waters.

Sigursteinn Masson, IFAW’s Icelandic representative, said: “The new app is another way of informing tourists visiting our beautiful country about the wonder of whale watching, but it also helps them make whale friendly decisions and ensure their trip does not leave a bad taste in their mouth.

“Many tourists are not fully aware of the contradiction of going whale watching then later eating whale meat. Icelanders have very little appetite for whale meat these days, so if tourists sample whale meat in our restaurants they are contributing directly to the number of whales being killed.”

Born Free's Virginia McKenna calls for conservation lessons in schools

'We are messing up the world and it's a catastrophe,' says wildlife campaigner Virginia McKenna, in call for school lessons on conservation

By Martin Chilton, Culture Editor online

7:45AM BST 29 May 2015

Virginia McKenna, the star of Born Free, called for conservation to be a fixed subject on the UK school curriculum, in order to address the "catastrophic mess the world is in".

The 83-year-old actress, who played conservationist Joy Adamson in the Oscar-winning 1966 film, was speaking to The Telegraph before her event at the Hay Festival. She said: "Our world has never been more of a mess than it is right now; it's a landscape of disaster. We need our children to be taught conservation because otherwise they will be disastrously equipped for the grim future we face. We need this to start at a young age, when they are still at nursery school and primary school, where they can learn about the world in a natural, attractive way."

London-born McKenna, who won a best actress BAFTA at the age of 25 for her part in the 1956 film A Town Like Alice, launched the Born Free Foundation in 1991 with her late actor husband Bill Travers. Born Free is an international conservation and animal rights organisation, based in the UK, focusing on wild animals. McKenna added: "There is a Born Free poster campaign at the moment saying 'There's no point in saving the last Rhino'. In the past five years in Mozambique the elephant population has fallen from 20,000 to 10,000. One elephant is killed every 15 minutes. There will be soon none left.

Giraffe has zig-zag spine (but don't worry, all the other giraffes treat him normally)

The Masai giraffe is believed to have suffered with a wonky neck for five years after being injured in an accident

By Agency

1:38PM BST 29 May 2015

A giraffe with a broken neck has proved its survival instinct after surviving for five years with a zig-zag spine.

The Masai giraffe was discovered by photographer Mark Drysdale whilst on safari in the Serengeti in Tanzania.
 Photo: CATERS

A guide explained that the giraffe had survived the horrific accident without any medical attention - only to be left with the wonky neck.

Mr Drysdale, 53, who has been a fulltime professional wildlife photographer and guide for eight years, said: "I have never seen anything like it!

"But the other animals treated it as if it were completely normal and the giraffe seemed to be quite happy."

Male giraffes sometimes fight each other in vicious battles for the attention of females.

They stand side by side - pushing each other to prove who is strongest - but if they break their necks they normally die.

The Masai giraffe is the tallest species of giraffe and males can measure up to 19ft - making them the tallest animal on the planet.

Thursday 28 May 2015

Pensioner horrified by rats 'as big as cats'

By North Devon Journal | Posted: May 26, 2015

A pensioner was horrified when he saw a bin being raided by rats which he judged to be "as big as cats".

Don Proctor, 80, was sitting in his car waiting to take photos of a cruise ship about to dock in Torquay, Devon.

He saw something moving out of the corner of his eye and was appalled to see at least four rats scurrying in and out the bins.

He snapped a few frames while the rats raided the containers for food before scurrying off.

Semi-retired photographer Don said: "I looked round to see this ruddy great rat coming up and going into the bin for food.

Photos: 'Dementor' Wasps, Fanged Bats & Other Bizarre Species of the Greater Mekong

by Live Science Staff | May 28, 2015 10:58am ET

In 2014, 139 new species of plants and animals were discovered in parts of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, an area collectively known as the Greater Mekong region. This list of new species was recently published by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which seeks to preserve the Greater Mekong as one of the most biologically diverse regions on Earth. Here are some of the most incredible creatures and plants that researchers uncovered last year.

Khloe Kardashian causes outrage for selfie with tiger cub in Dubai

Reality TV star Khloe Kardashian has been condemned by wildlife charities for being the latest celebrity in the disappointing trend of taking wild animal selfies (click here to see the image). Khloe then posted the image on her instagram account.

For the photograph Khloe was cuddling a tiger cub, which, says the conservation charity World Animal Protection, probably would have had its “canine teeth and claws removed – a process which causes them great pain,” so that it was safe for tourists to handle. “These ‘once in a lifetime’ photos mean a lifetime of misery for the animal involved,” it said in a statement

More tigers live in captivity today than in the wild. It’s estimated that the number of captive tigers in the United States alone is at least 5,000 - far more than the 3,200 left in the wild globally. Many of these captive tigers are kept not by accredited sanctuaries or zoos but by private owners.

Tourists are often unaware of the cruelty tigers suffer for these tourist attractions. That’s why we recently launched the next step in our ‘Before they book’ campaign, to expose the hidden suffering that lies behind posing with tigers for holiday snaps.Dr. Jan Schmidt-Burbach, Programme Manager for Wildlife in the Asia-Pacific region, said: 

“We’re disappointed to see yet another celebrity posing with a wild animal. Tigers belong in the wild, where their needs can be fully met – not in captivity for use as entertainment or photo props.

First artificial insemination of Yangtze giant softshell turtle

Date: May 27, 2015

Source: ResearchSEA

Summary: A female Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) -- potentially the last female of her species -- has been artificially inseminated. The procedure, which brought together top scientists from China, Australia and the United States, provides a ray of hope in a continuing effort to save the world's most endangered turtle.

'Heroic' giant rats sniff out landmines in Tanzania

The pre-dawn silence at the foot of the Uluguru mountains is disturbed only by the cries of drowsy birds, the whisper of boots through grass and an intermittent clicking sound that is irresistible to 60 pairs of tiny, almost translucent, ears.

When the sun finally rises over the blue peaks to flood the fields below, it illuminates one of the more unlikely scenes of human-animal cooperation.

Watched over by men and women clutching bananas and the small clickers used to train puppies, dozens of African giant pouched rats shuttle across taped-off alleyways trying to catch the lingering scent of TNT from some of the 1,500 deactivated landmines that have been sown in the red earth.

Most scamper back and forth with an apparent mix of delight and concentration, as if they know that each time they find a mine and communicate their discovery with a fit of scratching, they will be rewarded with a click and a mouthful of fruit.

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Texas hunter shoots endangered Namibian rhino for $350,000

A US hunter who paid $350,000 to kill a black rhinoceros in Namibia successfully shot the animal on Monday, saying that his actions would help protect the critically-endangered species.

Corey Knowlton, from Texas, downed the rhino with a high-powered rifle after a three-day hunt through the bush with government officials on hand to ensure he killed the correct animal.

Knowlton, 36, won the right to shoot the rhino at an auction in Dallas in early 2014 -- attracting fierce criticism from many conservationists and even some death threats.

He took a CNN camera crew on the hunt to try to show why he believed the killing was justified.

"The whole world knows about this hunt and I think it's extremely important that people know it's going down the right way, in the most scientific way that it can possibly happen," Knowlton told the TV channel in footage released Wednesday.

Endangered saiga antelope mysteriously dying in vast numbers in Kazakhstan

The number of saiga plummeted in the 1990s as a result of poaching

Monday 25 May 2015

Authorities in Kazakhstan says around one-third of the endangered saiga antelope population in this Central Asian nation has mysteriously died off in the last few days.

Kazakhstan's agriculture ministry said Friday the number of saiga that have died may have reached 85,000.

The ministry says it suspects the animals, which are recognizable for their distinctive humped snout, may have been struck by an epidemic of pasteurellosis caused by a bacterial infection. Officials say international veterinarian experts have been flown to Kazakhstan to study other possible causes for the catastrophic die-off.

Mystery surrounds big cat sighting

Sheila Foster claims she saw a brown-grey animal the size of a dog with a long tail on Moss Lane in Macclesfield.

A mysterious big cat has been spotted in Macclesfield.

Grandmother Sheila Foster claims she spotted the unusual animal while looking out her front window on Moss Lane at 6am on Monday.

She described a “brown-grey big cat the size of a large dog which had a long tail with a kink in it”. It was stood on a wall about 50 yards across the road.

Sheila, 72, said: “At first I thought it was a big stone then it moved. I could hardly believe my eyes.”

California oil spill claims second sea lion despite SeaWorld rescue effort

Thirteen sea lions and two elephant seals remain under care at the facility as new carcasses, including two dolphins, turn up without signs of oil exposure
Tuesday 26 May 2015 20.37 BSTLast modified on Tuesday 26 May 201520.52 BST

A second sea lion rescued from along California’s oil-fouled coastline near Santa Barbara has died at SeaWorld San Diego, where veterinarians are still caring for 15 surviving marine mammals brought in for treatment, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

The petroleum-stained pinnipeds are among the earliest apparent wildlife casualties documented from a pipeline rupture that dumped as much as 2,400 barrels (101,000 gallons or 382,327 liters) of crude oil onto the shoreline and into the ocean west of Santa Barbara one week ago.

The spill left an oil slick stretching for more than nine miles (14.5 km) along the coast and forced the indefinite closure of two popular beaches. The area also has been placed off-limits to fishing and shellfish harvesting.

The stricken region lies at the edge of a national marine sanctuary and underwater preserve that is home to whales, dolphins, sea lions and other marine mammals, along with some 60 species of sea birds and over 500 species of fish.

Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes' quest for fire

Date: May 21, 2015

Source: University of South Carolina

Summary: The eastern diamondback rattlesnake has lost 97 percent of its habitat since Europeans first arrived in America. New research demonstrates the critical nature of one element of the diamondback's home range, pine savanna. For conservationists seeking surrogate habitats for the now-rare species' dwindling population, the results underscore the need for prescribed fire management to maintain the open-canopy forest and its ecosystem.

How female mountain gorillas in Rwanda avoid inbreeding with their fathers

Mountain gorillas in Rwanda could run the risk of inbreeding, as females often stay in their natal group well into adulthood, which means living closely with their fathers, usually the dominant male in the group.

However, in these circumstances they appear tactically to avoid mating with their fathers, according to Linda Vigilant and her research group from the Max Planck Institute for Anthropology in Germany, published in Springer’s journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

This strategy works so well that the chances of alpha gorilla males siring the offspring of their own daughters are extremely remote. 

To clearly establish the paternity of 97 mountain gorillas, Vigilant’s group did genetic tests on fecal samples collected since 1999. These included 79 gorillas born into four of the mountain gorilla groups monitored since 1967 by Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund researchers.

The researchers found that on average seven out of every 10 offspring (72 per cent) in a group with more than one male present, are sired by the dominant male.

From worker to queen at the drop of a gene

Date:May 26, 2015

Source:University of Leicester

Summary:Biologists have discovered that one of nature’s most important pollinators - the buff-tailed bumblebee – either ascends to the status of queen or remains a lowly worker bee based on which genes are ‘turned on’ during its lifespan.

The paper, entitled 'Reproductive workers show queen-like gene expression in an intermediately eusocial insect, the buff-tailed bumble bee Bombus terrestris', which is published in the journal Molecular Ecology, suggests that the development of an individual bumblebee into its designated caste of male, worker or queen depends on the activation of individual genes, despite the bees all sharing similar genomes.

The study is part of student Mark Harrison's PhD thesis and was supervised by Drs Eamonn Mallon and Rob Hammond from the University of Leicester's Department of Biology.

It is the first time the whole genome exploration of caste differentiation has been carried out for the buff-tailed bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, which is now possible due to the recent sequencing of the entire bumblebee genome.

Tuesday 26 May 2015

'Loud wakeup call' over critically endangered dolphin

By Helen Briggs
BBC Environment correspondent

7 hours ago 

The smallest and rarest marine dolphin in the world could be extinct within 15 years if protection is not stepped up, new research suggests.

Conservationists say the remaining population of Maui's dolphins has dropped below 50.

The critically endangered species is found only in waters off New Zealand.

Measures to prevent dolphins dying in fishing nets must be extended, according to the German conservation organisation Nabu.

Fishing should be banned across the dolphin's entire habitat rather than only limited areas, they say.

According to new estimates just 43-47 individuals, including about 10 mature females, are left.

The study is being presented at a meeting of the scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in San Diego, US.

More than 200 experts are attending the annual event.

Galápagos Islands volcanic eruption could threaten pink iguana species

The Wolf volcano, located at the highest point of the islands that inspired Charles Darwin, has erupted for the first time in more than 30 years

Tuesday 26 May 2015 03.27 BSTLast modified on Tuesday 26 May 201509.14 BST

A volcano perched atop one of Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands erupted in the early hours of Monday, the local authorities said, potentially threatening a unique species of pink iguanas.

The roughly 1.7km (1.1 mile) high Wolf volcano is located on Isabela Island, home to a rich variety of flora and fauna typical of the archipelago that helped inspire Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution following his 1835 visit.

Animal welfare threat as Japan makes plans for dolphin farms

As a result of mounting global pressure in response to the annual wild dolphin hunt and slaughter in Taji, Japan, authorities in the country have pledged not to source live dolphins for zoos and aquariums captured during those hunts. 

However, there are now proposals to create a dolphin farm in the same area in order to breed these captive dolphins and use their offspring to meet demand for the animals. 

Neil D’Cruze, International Head of Wildlife Research and Policy from World Animal Protection says: ‘Wildlife farming represents a very real threat to animal welfare. It can also act as cover for increased illegal poaching of animals from the wild that are typically quicker and cheaper to source. 

“Such wildlife farming is simply a flawed ‘short cut’ that will lead us to the same outcome – animals suffering in captivity and empty oceans. 

“Ironically, the vast majority of tourists pay for wildlife-based entertainment because they love animals. It is vital that unsuspecting tourists are made aware of the terrible suffering behind the scenes so that they don’t inadvertently support this cruelty. Wild animals should stay in the wild where they belong.”

Who is the world’s wildlife favourite airline?

Until recently there was little to choose between the biggest airlines when it came to wildlife protection. But in just a few weeks that has all changed. For the eco-tourist looking to spend their green pound in an ethical fashion or company buyers looking to meet their sustainability policies things have changed- there is now clear blue sky between the leader and the rest.

Until recently the major airlines made token gestures towards protecting the biodiversity of the planet. As long as it did not impact on their profits too much a nod was made towards protecting wildlife. Today though one airline in particular stands out ahead of the crowd when it comes to protecting wildlife. There is now a clear run-away airline to purchase from if keeping wildlife alive and in the wild is important to you.

Before looking at the best airline to buy your flights or holidays from I’ll take a quick look at our own British Airways. BA have in place a policy of not carrying ivory. So if you’ve just been on a safari holiday to South Africa and enjoyed these magnificent beast roaming the savannahs you can be safe in the knowledge that you are not sitting on top of an elephants heads being bought back as a trophy by some big game hunter.

Top 10 new species for 2015 announced

A list of the top 10 new species for 2015, compiled annually by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), has been announced to coincide with the anniversary of the birth on May 23 of Carolus Linnaeus, the 18th century Swedish botanist who is considered to be the father of modern taxonomy. An international committee of taxonomists from the ESF's International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) selected the Top 10 from among the approximately 18,000 new species named during 2014.

The annual list, established in 2008, calls attention to discoveries that are made even as species are going extinct faster than they are being identified. Scientists believe 10 million species await discovery, five times the number that are already known to science.

Charity joins the national fight to rescue red squirrel

MAY 26TH, 2015 - 12:01 AM JANICE BURNS

Three quarters of the UK’s remaining population of red squirrels is found in ScotlandRSPB Scotland has joined the fight to save the red squirrel from extinction by becoming part of a pioneering project.

The wildlife conservation charity has joined forces with five other charitable, government and landowning bodies in a bid to secure the future of the iconic woodland mammal.

The red squirrel is the UK’s only native squirrel and numbers have declined rapidly since the introduction of grey squirrels from North America in the 19th century.

Since 1952, 95 per cent of red squirrels in England and Wales have been wiped out, and today 75 per cent of the UK’s remaining population is found in Scotland.

However, greys still threaten the existence of the native reds because they compete for food and habitat, and transmit the deadly squirrelpox virus.

The Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels project aims to continue to prevent the spread northwards of grey squirrels and squirrelpox through a programme of grey squirrel control in a zone running coast to coast along the Highland Boundary Fault.

Monday 25 May 2015

Many Americans Support Equal Rights for Animals

by Tanya Lewis, Staff Writer | May 22, 2015 07:58am ET

Nearly one-third of Americans believe animals should have the same rights as people, a recent poll finds.

Thirty-two percent of the people surveyed believe animals and humans should have equal rights, up from 25 percent in 2008. Another 62 percent believe animals deserve some protection from harm and exploitation, but it is "still appropriate to use them for the benefit of humans." Only 3 percent believe animals don't require protection from harm and exploitation "since they are just animals," according to the poll.

Gallup interviewed a random sample of more than 1,000 people across the United States on May 6 to 10, 2015. About half of those surveyed were asked about the protection of animals, while the other half were surveyed about the treatment of animals in various settings. The poll's margin of sampling error was 5 percentage points.

Lowly 'new girl' chimps form stronger female bonds

May 21, 2015
Duke University
Low-ranking 'new girl' chimpanzees seek out other gal pals with similar status, finds a new study. The results are based on 38 years' worth of daily records for 53 adult females in Gombe National Park, Tanzania, where Jane Goodall first started studying chimpanzees in the 1960s. The researchers are still working out whether the low-ranking pairs are true buddies, friends of convenience, or merely acquaintances.
Continued ...

Enable Big Cats to Thrive, End Extinction Fears

By The New Indian Express

Published: 13th May 2015 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 13th May 2015 12:51 AM

The latest census of India’s population of the endangered Asiatic Lion shows that their numbers are up 27 per cent from those thrown up by the previous census conducted five years back. In 2000, the Asiatic Lion was declared the most endangered large cat species in the world by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The latest census shows that India has managed to bring back the Asiatic lion from the brink of extinction through a single protected reserve. While the rise in their population is welcome, it also poses fresh challenges for managing their habitat and conflict with humans. The slow and promising growth in their numbers is satisfactory, but 50 lions still die annually due to a variety of threats. Experts suggest the big cats need to be relocated to another habitat to ensure their safety because a single sanctuary is detrimental to their safety.

However, despite the Supreme Court ruling in 2013 that some of them should be shifted to another sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, the Gujarat government has repeatedly tried to appeal the decision and refused to transfer the lions. The rise in their population in Gir sanctuary should not be treated as an excuse to cling to its fauna, which they regard as the “pride of the state”. In the larger interest of preserving Asiatic lions, the Gujarat government must start cooperating and put everything else aside to save the lion via the translocation programme of the magnificent animal.

UK among worst in wildlife league

By Roger Harrabin BBC environment analyst

20 May 2015 
From the section Science & Environment

The UK is among the worst countries in the EU for protecting its wildlife habitats, says an official report.

Britain, Belgium and Denmark report around 70% of habitats are in unfavourable or bad condition.

Holland registered just 4% of its habitats in good condition; environmentalists say the figures are unacceptable.

The report by the European Environment Agency and the European Commission is based on data from member states.

It says EU laws designed to protect wildlife and habitats appear to be working - but only in a patchy way.

The document, State of Nature 2015, comes after the European President Jean-Claude Juncker has launched a review into the fitness of the wildlife and birds directives.

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