Sunday 27 June 2021

Python poser


 Massive 8-Foot Burmese Python Mistaken for 'Garden Hose' by Homeowner

Hughes also told WNBC that because it is not immediately clear how long the python was on her property, she fears the worst for her rescue cat, who ...

Friday 25 June 2021

BBC: Sea lion opens gate to crash fisherman's interview about a 'plague of sea lions'


BBC: Why has the sea off Scotland turned turquoise?



You'd be forgiven for thinking you're looking at a photo from the Mediterranean but this is Scotland's west coast around the Isle of Arran. 

The vivid turquoise colour of the sea has captured the imaginations of those living nearby with many taking to social media for answers.

In the absence of any known samples being analysed, experts think it is a coccolithophore bloom.

Read on…

BBC: Scientists hail stunning 'Dragon Man' discovery


image captionThe Dragon Man's skull is huge, with a brain size about the same as the average for our species

Chinese researchers have unveiled an ancient skull that could belong to a completely new species of human.

The team has claimed it is our closest evolutionary relative among known species of ancient human, such as Neanderthals and Homo erectus.

Nicknamed "Dragon Man", the specimen represents a human group that lived in East Asia at least 146,000 years ago.

It was found at Harbin, north-east China, in 1933, but only came to the attention of scientists more recently.

An analysis of the skull has been published in the journal The Innovation.

One of the UK's leading experts in human evolution, Prof Chris Stringer from London's Natural History Museum, was a member of the research team.

Read on…

Subject: Wild Justice 66 - Grouse shooting debate and more


Good morning!
This newsletter tells you about the grouse shooting debate in parliament, asks that you contact Natural Resources Wales about their general licences, suggests a date for your diary, tells you that we are helping other campaigners on Badgers and gives you information on another petition we think you might want to sign.

Westminster Hall Grouse shooting debate: this debate was held on Monday evening and was triggered by a parliamentary petition launched by Wild Justice in August 2019 - the long delay is because of a general election in December 2019 and then coronavirus of course. There was a previous debate on this subject in October 2016. Progress has been made in that time and petitions causing debates of this type are a means of challenging government and keeping the issue alive. 
Since 2016
  • Hen Harrier numbers have increased in England very slightly, an important scientific paper has shown beyond doubt that Hen Harriers die or disappear mysteriously on grouse moors at a far, far higher rate than on other habitats and that the killing continues. What han't changed is that DEFRA does not have a plan for dealing with wildlife crime emanating from the grouse shooting fraternity.
  • the calls for burning of vegetation on peat soils have risen, notably from the Committee on Climate Change, and DEFRA has been slow to act, and its proposed measures to limit damaging burning are inadequate 
  • Scotland has committed to introduce licensing of grouse shooting there, the Labour Party has committed to introduce licensing in England but DEFRA has done nothing
You can read our initial comments on the debate in our blog (click here) and we'll be adding to those comments over the next few days and weeks. We're grateful to the accurate and helpful points made by Kerry McCarthy MP, Dave Doogan MP and Olivia Blake MP.  The DEFRA response was evasive and feeble.
Essentialy, the government of Scotland is taking action and the alternative party of government in England would take action but the current party of government in England remains wilfully blind to the problems and to taking action. 
Coverage of the debate in the Independent - click here.
But maybe the most interesting media coverage on grouse shooting recently was this piece on the Shooting UK website, which says that grouse moors are becoming less attractive purchases because of their unsavoury reputation and their commercial future may lie in delivering clean water, carbon storage and mitigating flood risk.  Times are a-changing.

NRW and their general licences: we asked you, in March, to consider writing to Natural Resources Wales asking them about their general licence GL004 which is the basis for killing of selected bird species (crows of several species) for the purpose of nature conservation. Hundreds of you wrote but none of you got a proper reply. This is astounding behaviour from a regulator: failing to make clear the legal basis for its own licences. So we're suggesting that you might like to write again and ask very specifically 'Under the terms of GL004, in what months of 2021, from July onwards, would it be legal to kill any species of crow to protect nesting birds?'.  The email address for enquiries: .
We know that this newsletter will be winging its way around NRW staff and Council as you are reading it, and we'd like to make it clear that we regard NRW as being in breach of its responsibilities as a regulator if it does not explain the terms of its licences to the public. We will make formal complaints about NRW's behaviour if it, again, fails to respond to reasonable questions from the public on this matter.  
Of course, the simplest way for NRW to clear this matter up is to put the relevant information on its website as we asked them to do back in February.
A date for your diary - in fact two: Wild Justice will be providing a live online Hen Harrier Day event on the traditional weekend before the start of the grouse shooting season - so that'll be Saturday 7 August. We're filming interviews and reports for that event from now on and it'll be quite a rush. Fingers crossed we get it all done in time, and thanks to our collaborators. More information nearer the date, through this newsletter.
Hen Harrier Action, following their successful Skydancer Day in the spring, will be holding an online event on Sunday 1 August.
So the profile of this amazing bird and the problems it faces will be getting more publicity than ever this year.
We told you in our last newsletter, only a few days ago, that we had lost our own legal challenge on behalf of Badgers and against the inhumane process of free shooting them.  But we have some resources freed up because the case did not go the whole way and so we are pleased to say that we are transferring £2,500 to the legal challenge of Tom Langton who is an indefatigable campaigner for Badgers. We wish Tom well and if you wish to top up his crowdfunder some more then you can do  so here.  At the time of writing, our contribution hasn't made it to the total but it will appear soon.
We know  we can't fight all the legal battles in the world on behalf of wildlife, but we do our best to pick important and strong cases. And we are happy to help others trying to do the same. That's why we have supported Tom Langton's challenge and it's why we supported Trees for Life's challenge to licensing of Beaver culls in Scotland. That challenge has now been heard and we are keeping our fingers crossed for a good result. Win or lose we have supported Trees for Life's action.
This is an interesting petition from a new organisation, called Wild Card, asking the Royal Family to rewild their landholdings. It's a polite and respectful request which we support. We would suggest that the grouse moor at Balmoral would be a good place to start and that would have a massive impact on neighbouring and nearby landowners.
Have a look for yourselves - click here - and see whether you'd like to support it, please.
That's it for now. There are news items stacking up at the moment - so we'll probably be back soon.
Wild Justice (Directors: Mark Avery, Chris Packham and Ruth Tingay).
Photos: Red Grouse and Jackdaw, Tim Melling; Badger, Chris Packham.

Thursday 24 June 2021

Saving yellow naped parrot


Beauty behind bars

Torn from their parents. 

Imprisoned for life. 

These rare parrots are paying a heavy price for their splendour.

Yellow-naped parrots are stunning birds. With their glorious green and gold-flecked plumage and piercing amber eyes, they really are exquisite. However, it is this beauty, combined with their incredible intelligence and mimicking skill, that has become their downfall.

These charismatic creatures have become a primary target for poachers, sold on to the pet trade at a level that is simply unsustainable. Pet hunters target vulnerable eggs and chicks, poaching up to 100% of nests in some locations. These highly social animals are then locked away, sentenced to a life of solitary confinement.

The reality of such stark cruelty resulting from people wanting to share their homes with these beautiful creatures is heartbreakingly ironic. They have a mere 50% chance of survival when seized from the wild.

But beyond the incessant suffering, their species isn’t coping.

Yellow-naped parrot numbers are thought to have halved in the last decade. Their population is plummeting, yet the plight of these brave birds is largely flying under the radar.

This doesn’t just affect the birds themselves. This illicit capture and trafficking has a terrifying knock-on effect on the surrounding ecosystem; yellow-naped parrots perform a valuable role as seed dispersers for many native fruit trees so they are crucial to the health of these tropical forests they call home.

Unless we intervene now, this downward spiral will soon end in disaster.

So, through your support, FFI is working hard with local communities to build support for the protection of the parrots. We are establishing a network of guardians and setting up patrols in key locations to prevent poaching and monitor populations, offering incentive payments to protect nests.

This work is a great step towards changing mindsets and attitudes around such a deeply ingrained cultural norm, and the long-term protection of these birds will ultimately hinge on reducing the demand.

With your help and donations, we can continue this work and stop this trade for good, helping yellow-naped parrots to flourish in the wild once more.


Please help save yellow-naped parrots. If everyone reading this donates just £3, you could help provide vital funds to incentivise locals to protect these birds, keeping them free and thriving. Thank you. 

Wednesday 23 June 2021

Tortoise in a wheelchair

A 70-Pound Sulcata Tortoise With a Rare Disease Can Now Walk Thanks to a Wheelchair
Everywhere there was somewhere and everywhere there were men women children dogs cows wildpigs little rabbits cats lizards and animals. That is ..

BBC: Chinese elephant mystery


image captionA herd of endangered elephants in China has completely dumbfounded scientists globally

Elephants are by nature fiercely intelligent beasts and experts who study them day in day out already know a great deal about them.

And yet a herd of endangered elephants in China has completely dumbfounded scientists globally, while captivating an entire nation in the process.

It's not unusual for elephants to move small distances. But this herd has been lumbering its way across China for more than a year now. The elephants have jnow strayed almost 500km (310 miles), a mammoth trek from their original habitat.

It's thought that they started their journey last spring from Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve in the southwest of the country, near the border with Myanmar and Laos.

They began moving north and in the last few months, the elephants have popped up in a number of villages, towns and cities.

Read on…

Sunday 20 June 2021

Subject: Wild Justice 64 - please contact your Westminster MP this Week


Good evening!  It looks like being a rainy weekend in many parts of the UK, and you won't want to spend the whole weekend watching football on TV will you?  In these newsletters we usually tell you about what we have been doing but in this newsletter, as we do sometimes, we are asking for your help to put pressure on decision makers to act.
On Monday, there will be a parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall on the subject of driven grouse shooting. These debates are open to all backbench Westminster MPs of all UK constituencies, so if you live in the UK your MP may be able to attend and speak.  Whether or not they do, you may wish to tell them your views on this subject. To find the email address of your MP - click here.
As well as backbench MPs, there will be speeches by shadow and government ministers on the subject. Opposition parties can challenge the government and we can all judge from the government ministerial response whether we are happy with what the government plans to do.  The debates are not followed by a vote and, in a way, these are talking shops, but they set the tone on important subjects and put the government on the spot.  Also, many Westminster Hall debates, including this one, are triggered by parliamentary petitions which reach 100,000 signatures and so they are used to highlight issues on which the public wants to see more action. 
Many of you have already contributed to this debate because you signed a parliamentary petition, initiated by Wild Justice, back in the summer of 2019!  That is the petition being debated all these months later.  The long delay is due to the 2019 general election and then of course the coronavirus pandemic. Can you remember 2019? Back then we could gather together in large numbers, there was still debate over whether Brexit would happen (and how) and Jeremy Corbyn was leader of the Labour Party - it seems a long time ago.
Also, last year, in 2020, many of you signed an e-action on this general subject that went to MPs, MSPs and members of the Senedd in Wales highlighting the problems associated with driven grouse shooting such as damaging burning of vegetation and illegal killing of protected wildlife - this is another opportunity to state your views on these issues to decision makers.
If you've already been involved on this issue, thank you for getting it into the Westminster parliament again - your voice, added to tens of thousands of others has already made a difference.  If you'd like to do more, then we set out some suggestions below depending on where in the UK you live.  If you're not moved to contact your MP this time then have a good weekend and you may want to watch the debate live on the Parliament YouTube Channel. on Monday starting at 4:30pm.
Points you could make to your MP
1. In general: - you are, of course, free to make any points to your MP that you wish, about this and any other issue - take the opportunity please. Please be polite.  Please only contact your MP.  You should give your name and address so that the MP knows that you are a constituent of theirs.  It's a good idea to keep a copy of your email so that you can compare any response, which might come weeks later, with what you send this weekend. It's a good idea to ask clear questions and check whether you get clear answers from your MP. But any expression of interest in any subject will be noted by MPs, and that includes people with views diametrically opposed to your own - they may be writing to your MP this weekend too - do you want your MP only to read their views?
2. If you live in Wales or Northern Ireland: intensive grouse shooting is a much commoner land use in Scotland and England than it is in Wales and Northern Ireland. And, of course, environmental matters like this are a devolved matter for your own parliament. So your Westminster MP might not be very aware of the issues or much inclined to pay attention to them. However, they are your Westminster MP and you are fully entitled to make any points you wish to them. But if you want to go for a walk in the rain or fall asleep in front of football on the TV we completely understand.  There will be other issues where we will ask for your help in future.  If you do want to contact your MP - skip to point 5 below for some suggestions.
3. If you live in Scotland: intensive grouse shooting is a live issue in Scotland and the Scottish government has said that it will act to license grouse shooting, heather burning and to restrict the mass killing of Mountain Hares. Statements from Scottish ministers over the last few years on raptor persecution have been very strong compared with the wilful blindness of DEFRA ministers.  You could ask your Westminster MP, particularly if they are an SNP Westminster MP, to make the point, or ask a colleague attending the debate to make the point, that Scotland is taking far more action than the UK government is taking in England.  That would be very helpful.  See point 5 below for more points to make.
4. If you live in England: intensive grouse shooting is a live issue in England and DEFRA has been woefully slow and feeble in tackling the problems associated with it, compared, for example, to the much greater action in Scotland.  For more details of points to make on grouse shooting, see point 5 below but ... this is also an opportunity to tell your MP that you support the #stateofnature petition (sign here, please, if you haven't already) which has received very nearly 200,000 signatures and that you want much stronger action than DEFRA has promised so far for a legally binding nature recovery target.
5. Wherever you live:  the problems of intensive grouse moor management, for the hobby of grouse shooting, include the following: 
  • about half a million Red Grouse are shot in a typical year - few of them are eaten - it's just shooting for fun
  • a grouse moor is as unnatural as a car park or a field of wheat and yet they dominate much of our uplands - they are a block to a wilder, more natural, and more beautiful landscape
  • our upland National Parks have been de-wilded by grouse moor management - it's time to let nature have them back
  • intensive grouse shooting is underpinned by wildlife crime - particularly the illegal killing of birds of prey such as Hen Harriers, Peregrine Falcons and Red Kites
  • thousands and thousands of foxes, stoats, crows and other predators are killed, legally, to make sure as many Red Grouse as possible survive to be shot at 
  • lead ammunition is still used on grouse moors and should be banned
  • heather burning damages protected habitats, increases greenhouse gas emissions, increases flood risk and increases water treatment costs - DEFRA proposals to address these problems are so weak that Wild Justice has started a legal challenge of DEFRA's proposed measures
  • the densities of Red Grouse are so unnaturally high on grouse moors that diseases are becoming commoner - the grouse are dosed with powerful medicines to help them get through to the opening of the shooting season and the checks on food contamination simply aren't up to scratch
DEFRA has been slow to act on any of these issues - as the petition states, it has been wilfully blind, in contrast to the action taken north of the border.  DEFRA has never made a clear, unequivocal statement on the scale of illegal raptor persectution on grouse moors, nor made a clear statement condemning grouse shooting as the source of that criminal behaviour. This debate is an opportunity to set the record straight.
DEFRA has a range of options at its fingertips to deal with the raft of issues that Scotland is already tackling.  DEFRA has dragged its feet on dealing with lead ammunition, raptor persecution and heather burning.  Its recently announced measures to limit heather burning are so poor that Wild Justice has started legal action on this subject.  You may wish to suggest that licensing of grouse shooting would be the best way to tackle all these issues at once or you might wish to say that only a ban on driven grouse shooting will adress the whole range of environmental problems caused by this crazy land use.
Phew!  Thank you. Even a very short email to your MP will make a difference to their awareness of the issue and will be a voice for change.
We'll give you our views on the debate some time next week, and we'll have another ask of you then too, particularly if you live in Wales.
We wouldn't want you to think we have been idle though. See this critique we published on our blog of Natural England's totally inadequate assessment of the biological factors that will affect any reintroduction of Hen Harriers in southern England (we think Natural England should throw away their current assessment and do it properly). Following last week's newsletter and our news of two potential legal challenges of DEFRA - on gamebird releases and heather burning - letters have been whizzing back and forwards and we have been discussing progress with our lawyers (we're waiting for more responses from DEFRA).  We're setting up some filming that will happen over the next few days and in July ahead of the Inglorious 12th, and we've been talking to several journalists writing pieces on grouse shooting.  And we have been progressing our plans for a website refresh and working with our accountant on our company accounts.
That's all for now - we'll be back next week.
Wild Justice (Directors: Mark Avery, Chris Packham and Ruth Tingay).

REPOST: Wild Justice 65 - this one we lost.


Yesterday, after writing the newsletter we sent you, we heard from our lawyers the bad news that we have lost our challenge to the licensing of free-shooting of Badgers. This is a great disappointment because we felt we had an arguable case had it ever come to court - but now it won't. 
It is in the nature of the judicial review procedure that one loses more cases than one wins, and our track record of making advances through court action is very good on general licences and gamebirds.
But this one, on Badgers, can only be seen as a defeat. Still, we did our best, and we would almost certainly make the same decision again faced with the same facts and probabilities.
Thank you to everyone in our legal team for their quite prodigious work on this complex case, thank you to a team of experts for giving us help and advice along the way, and thank you to all those who donated to make the legal challenge possible.  Because we have failed to get permission for judicial review there will be some funds available as a result for other legal challenges.
There will be another newsletter next week - there often is a rush of news in the run-up to the break that the courts and legal system have in the summer months.
Wild Justice (Directors: Mark Avery, Chris Packham and Ruth Tingay).

Friday 18 June 2021

Pigggies not offed

image captionVolunteers had been going to the woods to feed Matilda

A litter of piglets has been saved from slaughter after their mother escaped from a farm and gave birth in woodland.

Matilda and her piglets, dubbed the "Ollerton 11", were discovered by a dog walker in Nottinghamshire on Monday.

An animal charity had hoped to rescue the pigs from the woodland, but the farm rounded them up three days after they were found.

The farm has now handed over the pigs on the condition a planned demonstration is called off.

More than 5,000 people had also signed a petition to let Brinsley Animal Rescue save the pigs.

The pigs will be looked after at the rescue centre in Nottinghamshire to start with, but a permanent home has been found for them at Surge, an animal sanctuary elsewhere in the Midlands.

Read on…

Saving the Vietnam jungle


Help save thousands of animal lives

This is a one-off opportunity to stop a slaughter.

There’s a phenomenal area of Vietnamese jungle called Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park (or PNKB for short). It is a special combination of limestone hills and temperate forest, which has allowed it to bubble over with wildlife, from gibbons and geckos to pygmy lorises and bears.

There’s even a good chance that some of the planet’s super-rare creatures - namely saola and Sunda pangolins - are holding on in the area.

But a new wave of illegal logging is blitzing its way towards this area at breakneck pace. If it is left unchecked, the forests will be felled indiscriminately, and the animals living within them won’t stand a chance.

Thousands will die.

What’s more, that logging will bring poaching along with it. The gibbons will be cut down en masse and served up as bushmeat. The lorises will be ripped from the wild, shoved into crates and sold into the pet trade - half of them dying before even reaching their destination.

It will turn from an ecological paradise into a complete horror show.

Please help us stop this. Please help us get rangers in the field.

We need to act immediately, but if we can raise the funds in time to deploy enough rangers then we can stop the madness before it truly begins.

Once equipped with boots, raincoats, first-aid kits, binoculars, phones, GPS kits and other vital gear, those rangers have the power to stop the criminal logging, and stop PNKB being irreversibly damaged.

For those funds, we are reliant on people like you.

And we’ve received a sensational offer. One donor has offered to multiply every donation you make by 10, so your gift of £30 would be worth £300 - every penny of which would be used to protect PNKB in Vietnam.

If we miss this opportunity, the cost in animal lives will be unbearable. Please help save them - there are vanishingly few places on Earth where your support could make such a huge difference.

Please donate now.

If we’re to strike at the cause of animal extinctions - and the trade that almost certainly brought Covid-19 upon us - this work is essential. Only you can make the difference between life and death for so many animals.

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