Wednesday 30 November 2016

Bobby: the gorilla on the wrong side of the law

 The western lowland gorilla was smuggled from Africa to Italy in the 1980s. As taxidermy, he is part of a new exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland

Monday 28 November 2016 07.02 GMT

Name: Bobby
Species: Western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)
Dates: 1983-2008
Claim to fame: Much-loved zoo animal
Where now:
National Museum of Scotland

In 1994, magistrates from the Italian province of Ancona found the manager of a local circus guilty of importing a gorilla into the country. Bobby (variously also known as Bongo, Bongo III and Bongo Junior) had been captured as a baby in Equatorial Guinea more than a decade earlier and is thought to have been brought to Italy soon afterwards as “a chimpanzee”.

Either way – gorilla or chimpanzee – the transportation of Bobby was in direct contravention of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international agreement signed in Washington D.C. in 1973 and eventually ratified by Italy in 1979. CITES binds parties to pass appropriate national legislation to allow its implementation, but it took the Italian Parliament until 1992 to do this (Legge 7 Febbraio 1992, n. 150, if you must know). It was only then that the Italian authorities were in a position “to penalize trade in, or possession of, such specimens,” and “to provide the confiscation or return to the State of export of such specimens.” 

“The Italian Parliament took thirteen years, one month and 22 days to translate into Italian the Latin expression nulla poena sine lege,” quipped professor of international law Tullio Scovazzi in the European Environmental Law Review

Bobby was confiscated from the circus, but instead of being repatriated to Equatorial Guinea ended up under the custodianship of the Giardino Zoologico di Roma. There, he lived alongside Romana, a female gorilla of a similar age that had been born in captivity in 1980. According to a history of gorillas at Rome Zoo, Bobby’s new situation resulted in “a considerable improvement both in the physical aspect and the behavioural profile.” When the “ape house” finally closed in 2000 and became a restaurant, Bobby and Romana moved to Bristol Zoo. 

Thai police nab Japanese woman with rare reptiles at airport (including Malayan snail-eating turtles and monitor lizards) – via Herp Digest

By Tokyo Reporter Staff on November 25, 2016

THAILAND (TR) – Local police have arrested a Japanese woman who was found to be in possession of dozens of rare reptiles without authorization, reports NHK (Nov. 23).

On Tuesday, the woman, a 44-year-old resident of Fukushima Prefecture, was found by an airline employee to be in possession of a suitcase containing 55 reptiles, including Malayan snail-eating turtles and monitor lizards, at Bangkok International Airport.

The woman, charged with violating wildlife conservation laws, was scheduled to depart on a flight for Narita International Airport.

“At the entrance of the airport I was asked by an unknown Asian [to carry the reptiles],” the suspect was quoted. “I received the suitcase and a commission of 100,000 yen. I did it like a part-time job”

At the time of her arrest, the woman was accompanied by a six-month-old boy.

“I do not know what kind of money these animals will fetch on the market in Japan,” said the arresting officer, “but I was surprised that even a woman with a child was involved in smuggling.”

Rare turtles and monitor lizards are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora of 1973.

How the world can save bees and pollinating insects

November 28, 2016

An international research team has released a top-10 list of ways countries can protect pollinating insects such as bees, which are vital for food production, following worrying declines in pollinating insect populations in America and Europe. 

Co-author Dr Saul Cunningham, newly appointed director of the Fenner School of Environment and Society at The Australian National University (ANU), said these insects are extremely important for Australia's high-value agriculture industry which produces fruits, nuts and seeds.

"Almonds are one of our biggest exports and the much-loved avocados, cherries, and mangoes all rely heavily on our pollinating insects," he said.

The recommendations, published in Science, include improving pesticide regulations, retaining habitat on farms, and establishing long-term monitoring programs.

Dr Cunningham said Australia was doing well in some areas, but falling behind in others.

"Australia is a world leader in some areas such as biosecurity, but we could be doing better when it comes to land care strategies and education," he said.

"To date, we have been very effective at keeping bee diseases out of Australia and limiting the expansion of exotic bumblebees, but we need to stay vigilant if we aim to retain these wins," he said.

Bumblebees are effective for pollinating greenhouse crops and many Australian greenhouse producers have called for an end to the ban on bumble bee imports.

However, Dr Cunningham said importing bumblebees could pose a serious risk to Australia and to native bee populations.
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