Sunday 28 March 2021

BBC: Walsall boy, 6, finds '488-million-year-old' fossil in garden

image captionSiddak Singh Jhamat was "digging for worms" when he made the discovery

A six-year-old boy has found a fossil dating back millions of years in his garden after receiving a fossil-hunting kit for Christmas.

Siddak Singh Jhamat, known as Sid, said he was "excited" to find the fossil in his garden in Walsall after digging for worms.

His father was able to identify the horn coral through a fossil group he is a member of on Facebook.

Vish Singh estimates the fossil is between 251 to 488 million years old.

"I was just digging for worms and things like pottery and bricks and I just came across this rock which looked a bit like a horn, and thought it could be a tooth or a claw or a horn, but it was actually a piece of coral which is called horn coral," the schoolboy said.

"I was really excited about what it really was."

Read on...

Saturday 27 March 2021

BBC: Pembrokeshire walrus seen 'basking in sun' in Tenby


image captionThe walrus was basking in the sun

As people travelled to beauty spots on the first day of lockdown easing in Wales, one walrus continued its jaunt around the Welsh coast. 

The large creature was spotted basking in the sun on the RNLI's slipway at Tenby in Pembrokeshire on Saturday. 

It is thought it is the same walrus seen around the west Wales coast at Broad Haven's South beach last weekend - and also at County Kerry in Ireland.

Walruses are more often seen in the North Pole or in the Arctic Ocean.

While there are believed to be about 20,000 in the North Atlantic, they are rarely seen in the UK and Ireland.

Read  on...

BBC: Baby goat, emu and goose make friends on Wiltshire farm


Thursday 25 March 2021

Africa’s elephants now endangered by poaching, habitat loss


LIBREVILLE, Gabon (AP) — Increasing threats of poaching and loss of habitat have made Africa’s elephant populations more endangered, according to a report released Thursday by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The African forest elephant is critically endangered, and the African savanna elephant is endangered. The two species had previously been grouped together as a single species and were classified as vulnerable by the IUCN. 

The number of African forest elephants has fallen by more than 86% over a 31-year period, while the population of savanna elephants dropped by more than 60% over a 50-year period, according to the IUCN, which rates the global extinction risks to the world’s animals.

Read on...

Here comes the Sun Bear


The survival chances are shrinking for the world's smallest bear.

There are no villains here, simply suffering on both sides.

It’s the kind of suffering that is rapidly ending the existence of a threatened species but it’s the kind of suffering that - with your help - we can prevent.

For context, sun bears are the smallest bears on the planet. Enigmatic and endearing, they spend their time clambering around Southeast Asia’s jungles, searching for insects, eating honey and digging holes.

In doing so, they play a pivotal role in many tropical forests - they create nesting holes for birds, aerate soils for saplings and protect trees from insect blights. They’ve gained their name from the golden patch on their chest, said to resemble the rising sun.

But to certain conservationists they are affectionately known by a different name - cooking oil bears.

They absolutely love the stuff.

And herein lies the problem. Ever on the search for food, sun bears break into farmhouses to drink cooking oil, blissfully unaware that it wasn’t put there for their benefit.

The outcome can be bloody. It can destroy the livelihood of a local farmer and the retaliation can be fatal for the bear itself.

We have no idea how many sun bears there are left, but when combined with the threats of international wildlife trade and habitat loss this additional casualty count is more than they can cope with.

Their population is plummeting.

We need to act.

Through your donations, we’re working with park authorities to reduce the human-wildlife conflict. We're ensuring any encounters between animals and communities can be resolved without harm to either party and with minimal loss to people’s livelihoods.

We’re clearing any snares set to catch wild animals and, through your support, are ensuring that the suffering these cause becomes a thing of the past. That will not only save sun bears but many other animals like tigers who share their home.


Please help save these bears - if everyone reading this donates just £3 - you could help put patrols in the field to reduce the conflict and clear the snares. Thank you.

BBC: Lord Howe Island: Saving an Australian paradise's 'cloud forest'

BBC: Thames seal death: QC 'heartbroken' over attack by her dog

A barrister says she is "heartbroken" after her dog attacked a popular seal known as Freddie Mercury. 

The seal, named after the late Queen singer, had won the hearts of residents frolicking on the River Thames near Hammersmith Bridge in west London. 

But after the attack on Sunday, vets decided to put the young pup down as his injuries were so serious.

Dog owner Rebecca Sabben-Clare QC said she "apologises unreservedly" and will not face charges over the incident.

In a statement, the commercial barrister said: "I am heartbroken by this terrible accident. 

"As an animal lover, I fully understand the dismay that has been expressed."

Read on...

Thursday 18 March 2021

Pygmy hippopotamus story


The pygmy hippo with nowhere to hide

In the animal kingdom, if there were one creature that could empathise with those of us who can never reach the top shelf in the cupboard - usually where the biscuits are kept - it would be the pygmy hippo.

Adorably peculiar, with stubby legs, soft round features, bulging eyes and a pinkish glow, these round balloon-like creatures only venture out at night, shyly waddling through the undergrowth in search of ferns, grasses and fruits on the forest floor - close to the rivers and swamps they call home.

For thousands of years, their lives have remained virtually unaffected by the outside world. But sadly, that has all begun to change.

In the last century their habitat has been overrun and destroyed.Forests have been felled and wetlands have been drained.

What’s more, illegal mining and logging has not only torn their homes apart, but also paved the way for bush meat poachers to slaughter these terrified creatures, which have nowhere left to hide.

They cannot survive in any other terrain so, put plainly, when the habitat is destroyed the hippos die.

Hectare after hectare has been destroyed, taking the hippos with it. There are fewer than 3,000 survivors - a number that’s rapidly going down.

Not a pretty picture.

We have to save them.

By saving the forests they live in we can also rescue a wealth of biodiversity which supports local livelihoods, and retain an area which stores vast amounts of carbon - fighting climate change and saving the pygmy hippos in tandem.

FFI has helped create a ten-year pygmy hippo conservation strategy. This starts with research. Lots of it. We need to know where these animals are and which bits of forest are critical to save. Without this key information the pygmy hippo will have little chance of survival.

So, through your donations, we’re undertaking vital research on where pygmy hippos have made their homes that will help them gain critical support from governments and big businesses - safeguarding this wonderful species.

This research might record the short stubby steps of the pygmy hippo, but it will make great leaps in securing their place on this planet.


We need to continue this vital research before it's too late - if everyone reading this donates just £3 - you could help us put in place protection for these forests and the animals that live there. Thank you.

Wild Justice 56


         Good morning!

This newsletter provides an update on Wild Justice's activities in all four of the nations of the United Kingdom.  Just two years after our public launch in February 2019 we are still youngsters exploring the art of the possible. But our aim is to make a difference for wildlife right across the UK.
Northern Ireland:
Having challenged the general licences (which permit what we regard as casual killing of birds) in both England and Wales, with some success, we are paying close attention to those in Northern Ireland and Scotland too. Last week we sent a letter to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland pointing out that their general licences are, in our view, unlawful. The current general licences expire in September and we have put DAERA on notice that we will be looking very carefully at their new licences. They may face legal challenges unless they change their licences materially - click here to see the letter. If you live in Northern Ireland we may ask you to help us get changes to these licences depending on DAERA's response, which we expect soon.
Scotland poses particular challenges for our work because the Scottish legal system is distinct from that of England and Wales and lawyers must be qualified in the Scottish system to operate in Scotland. Our brilliant legal team At Leigh Day and Matrix Chambers can operate in England, and can easily transfer what they have learned in English cases to Welsh cases, but Scotland is different and we will need a different team of lawyers to take legal challenges in Scotland. That's one reason why we have supported the legal challenge of Trees for Life on Beavers in Scotland rather than taking our own challenge.  But we are making progress in developing the capability to challenge public bodies in Scotland ourselves. Bear with us please - these things take time. 
Our challenge of Natural Resources Wales's general licences did not result in them being declared unlawful but did produce very important clarification of the conditions that apply to them.  NRW swore to the court in their evidence that the conservation licence GL004, was only valid for use to protect certain species of birds, in the breeding season and in areas where those birds actually nested.  We could call this the 'present risk' model, and it's a very useful clarification of the intention of the licensing authority. We in Wild Justice are glad that our legal challenge produced this clarification.  It's important because a large part of the user community for general licences appear to have believed that the licences allow landscape-scale culling - we call this the 'anywhere, any time' model. The anywhere, any time model will result in thousands of birds a year being killed unlawfully in Wales and put those people operating in that way in danger of facing legal proceedings themselves.  It would clearly be good for wildlife and good for those people wishing to use the general licences if the clarification made by NRW in a public court hearing was made widely known to people with guns and traps.
To cut a long story short, Wild Justice has asked NRW, in writing and in an online meeting, to make these points clear. NRW staff have refused.
So we have written to the Chair of NRW, Sir David Henshaw, asking him to ensure that NRW makes the conditions of their current general licence GL004 explicitly clear on their website. You can read our letter - click here - and we have asked for a response by 29 March.  We'll let you know what response we get and we may ask for your help in asking NRW some questions on this matter, if that is needed.
Thank you again to everyone (not just those living in England by the way) who responded to the DEFRA gamebird consultation. We'll be monitoring carefully what DEFRA does next.
But we have news of further actions too. First, we are compiling legal and factual dossiers to send to a public body in England in the very near future. We'll be able to let you know about this quite soon.
Also, we have sent a formal legal letter to a public body in England on the subject of lead ammunition and we expect a response to that letter at the end of this week.  This is separate from, and in addition to, the food samples that are being tested for lead levels - click here. Wild Justice believes that it is time to stop the widespread use of lead ammunition as lead is a poison. It is bizarre and unacceptable that it is routinely shot into food and scattered widely into the environment.
If you like what we are doing then please consider making a donation through   PayPal, bank transfer or a cheque in the post - see details here
That's it for now. Thank you for your support!
Wild Justice (Directors: Mark Avery, Chris Packham and Ruth Tingay).

BBC: Reddit investors adopt 3,500 gorillas in six days



Around 3,500 gorillas have been adopted by Reddit's WallStreetBets (WSB) community in six days.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, a charity for the protection of endangered mountain gorillas, has also received more than $350,000 (£252,000) in donations.

Its president Dr Tara Stoinski has thanked the Reddit community for the adoptions. 

She said: "They've truly made a difference for our world." 

The subreddit WallStreetBets gained prominence earlier this year after its users invested in the computer game retailer GameStop and boosted the share price.

The idea was that if enough Reddit users bought GameStop shares, they could drive up the price, hurting hedge funds which had bet against the company. Now the community has decided to help apes.

Read on...

Wednesday 17 March 2021

Spotted quoll discovered


"They're pretty secretive little creatures, so we've got to put secret little cameras around, it's almost like trying to find the Loch Ness monster," he said.

Mexican Wolf update


For immediate release, March 12, 2020

Arizona Game and Fish Department
New Mexico Department of Game and Fish 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Jackie Follmuth, AZGFD, (928) 532-3691,
Tristanna Bickford, NMDGF, (505) 476-8027,
Aislinn Maestas, USFWS, (505) 331-9280,
Wild Population of Mexican Wolves Grows for Fifth Consecutive Year
2020 survey shows at least 186 wolves across the Southwest

The wild population of Mexican wolves in the United States saw its fifth consecutive year of growth in 2020. According to the recent count, the U.S. population of Mexican wolves has increased by 14% since last year, raising the total number of wolves in the wild to a minimum of 186 animals.

From November 2020 through January 2021, the Interagency Field Team (IFT) conducted ground counts in Arizona and New Mexico that concluded with aerial counts of Mexican wolves in January and February. According to the IFT, the 186 wolves are distributed with 114 in New Mexico and 72 in Arizona. In 2019, the team documented a minimum of 163 wolves, which was a 24% increase from 2018. This population has nearly doubled in size over the last five years.

“With careful planning and using best practices, we were able to conduct the annual survey with the utmost emphasis on the health and safety of our staff,” said Brady McGee, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator. “Thanks to our staff’s efforts, we were able to document a minimum of 64 pups surviving in the wild last year. Pup production and recruitment in the wild population is extremely important to the recovery of this species. We are thrilled to see this number continuing to rise.”

Among the 2020 findings:

  • There were a minimum of 46 packs (including new pairs) documented at the end of 2020: 29 in New Mexico and 17 in Arizona, plus five single wolves in Arizona. A wolf pack is defined as two or more wolves that maintain an established territory. By comparison, there were a minimum of 42 packs at the end of 2019.
  • A minimum of 124 pups were born in 2020, with at least 64 surviving until the end of the year (a 52% survival rate). The average survival of Mexican wolf pups is around 50%.
  • The IFT recorded a minimum of 20 breeding pairs (12 in New Mexico, eight in Arizona) with pups in 2020. 
  • There were 96 collared wolves in the wild at the end of the year, which is slightly more than 50% of the wild population. These radio collars use satellite technology to accurately record wolf locations on a frequent basis. Biologists on the IFT use this information to gain timely information about wolf behavior in the wild and assist with management of the wild population.
  • The IFT documented 29 mortalities in the wild population of Mexican wolves in 2020, which is similar to the mortality rate in 2019 given the growing population.
  • This year’s survey represents not only an all-time record number of wolves in the wild but also the most ever breeding pairs, wild packs, pups born in the wild, and pups surviving to the end of the year.

“Many people eagerly await the results of the annual Mexican wolf count. As has been the case for a decade, this year’s result signals success in recovery of this element of the Southwest’s biodiversity and offers hope of eventually meeting recovery goals,” said Clay Crowder, Assistant Director, Wildlife Management Division, Arizona Game and Fish Department. “With continued year-over-year increases in the United States, it is important to recognize that Mexico is key to full recovery, and more attention is needed in support of efforts there.” 

In 2020, the IFT placed 20 captive-born pups into seven wild dens (a process called “cross fostering”) to boost the genetic diversity in the wild population. The IFT has since captured and collared seven of these pups and will continue efforts in 2021 to document others that may have survived. With these newly collared pups, the known number of fostered wolves alive is 12.  

The Mexican wolf is the rarest subspecies of gray wolf in North America. It is listed separately from the gray wolf as an endangered subspecies under the federal Endangered Species Act. In 1977, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and many partners initiated efforts to conserve the subspecies by developing a bi-national captive breeding program with the seven remaining Mexican wolves in existence. Approximately 350 Mexican wolves are currently maintained in more than 55 facilities throughout the United States and Mexico.

Partners in Mexican wolf recovery in the United States include the Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, USDA Forest Service, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services, White Mountain Apache Tribe, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service.

For more information on the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, visit the Mexican wolf website ( or visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department website on wolves (
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