tagged w/ Biodiversity
Campesinos in the department of San Pedro occupied Brazilian-owned farms on Oct. 1 to block the entry of transgenic soy, and began planting other crops such as sesame and yucca on the plots.
Some 120 campesinos occupied two 600-hectare (1,480 acre) farms, according to local media reports.
Cristino Peralta, the San Pedro correspondent of the daily ABC Color, said that the farmers immediately began planting the sesame and yucca after occupying the plantations.
"There was no law enforcement intervention," he said. "The group's leader Florencio Martinez said that the occupation marked the start of the recovery of Paraguayan territorial sovereignty."
San Pedro is considered Paraguay's best farmland, but it is also the country's poorest department. President Fernando Lugo worked as a bishop there for a decade.
Land is concentrated in the fewest hands in Paraguay than in any other Latin American country. Only 351 landowners hold 9.7 million hectares (24 million acres), while, according to civil society organizations, there are more than 350,000 families with insufficient quantities of land or no land at all.
The demonstrators said that they took over the Brazilian-owned plantations in protest of what they called the government's failure to implement land reform. Paraguay has also seen other campesino protests against transgenic soy plantations and the indiscriminate use of farming chemicals.
Lugo had requested that the campesinos give his government 100 days starting Aug. 15 to seek financing for land reform. The period ends on Nov. 22.
According to campesino leader Elvio Benitez, the government "continues without finding a solution to the lack of land of thousands of our compatriots, while the Brazilian's presence is getting bigger and bigger. We can't do anything else but occupy the Brazilian-owned haciendas because the soy crops are causing deforestation, eliminating natural forests and contaminating people with its pesticides."
People are standing up worldwide to the hoax that is GM food. We have enough conventional NATURAL food to feed the people of this planet. Good to see people standing up to the fake unnatural test tube food these mutli nationals are trying to shove down their throats for profit.Campesinos in the department of San Pedro occupied Brazilian-owned farms on Oct. 1 to... more
Global warming has been blamed for dramatic declines in seabird populations on the Great Barrier Reef and surrounding waters.
Tens of thousands of seabirds are failing to breed because warmer water from more frequent and intense El Nino events means there is insufficient food to raise their young, according to research compiled by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
Warm water near the surface forces fish, plankton and other prey into deeper water, where it cannot be reached by seabirds.
The research forms the basis of a report commissioned by the marine park authority and the Queensland Environment Protection Agency to address the impact of climate change on seabirds, and obtained by The Australian under freedom of information laws. "Recent analyses at key sites have revealed significant declines in populations of some of the most common seabird species, which raises concerns regarding the threatening processes acting on these populations," says the report, prepared by C&R Consulting.
The report, Seabirds and Shorebirds in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area in a Changing Climate, says the reef is home to between 1.3 and 1.7million seabirds and half the world's population of several species.
The results of research by Bradley Congdon and five other seabird experts working for the marine park authority have been published in another report, Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef: A Vulnerability Assessment.
The authors concluded that recent climate fluctuations were having significant detrimental impacts on seabird populations.
The two reports paint a grim picture of the predicament for seabirds. In the Coral Sea, populations of great and least frigatebirds declined by 6-7 per cent annually between 1992 and 2004.
Despite a return to more favourable conditions since the severe El Nino event of 1997-98, populations have not recovered.
On Raine Island, in the northern barrier reef, populations of at least 10 of the 14 breeding seabird species have been falling. Numbers of common noddies have fallen by 96 per cent, sooty terns by 84 per cent, bridled terns by 69 per cent, and red-footed boobies by 68 per cent.
The park authority's vulnerability assessment report says there is no evidence of significant human interference or habitat loss on Raine Island, indicating "depletion of marine food stocks linked to changing climate" as the cause.
On the Swain Reefs, in the southern reef, the number of brown booby nests has dropped from 350 in 1975 to less than 30 since 2000.
"The declining trend was consistent throughout the region and was not simply a consequence of inter-seasonal migration between islands," the report says.
Some may think the affects of global warming/climate change are not important because they are not playing out in their backyards... yet. However, the signs are here and the affects are being felt from one end of the foodchain to the other.Though to some minute, they nevertheless are effecting and will effect us all.Global warming has been blamed for dramatic declines in seabird populations on the... more
The seas around Britain face an ecological disaster because of over fishing and pollution, a new report warns.
Many fish species that were once common are either vastly reduced in number or locally extinct, the Marine Conservation Society (MSC) says.
Its report Silent Seas warns that without urgent action to protect marine life and to limit the damage already inflicted marine ecosystems will fail.
The MSC launched its latest report in support of its call for a Marine Bill to be introduced in the Queen's Speech which would designate protections zones where all fishing would be outlawed.
MCS head of conservation, Dr Simon Brockington who compiled the report, said: "Echoing Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring", Silent Seas forsees a world where extinctions of marine creatures begins to rise and the ecosystem starts to fail.
"Too many fish are taken from the sea, too much rubbish is thrown into the sea, and too little is being done to protect precious marine life and habitats. We have to act now!"
The report warns that the state of our seas has changed over the past 25 years and the loss of wildlife could result in fundamental ecological 'regime shifts' which was already happening in some parts of the world. In Namibia's seas over-fishing has led to a dramatic increase in jellyfish which now dominate the ecosystem.
In shallow UK waters numbers of many predatory fish such as sharks, skates and rays have fallen largely through fishing, and several once common species are now locally extinct.
A century ago large fish such as common skate, angel sharks, Atlantic halibut and cod in excess of a metre long were common in the North Sea but many of these species are classed as critically endangered.
The report also highlights the problems caused by pollution and particularly plastic which poses a significant hazard to marine wildlife.
MCS claims plastic litter washing up on UK beaches has grown by 126 per cent in the last 14 years. Sea birds, turtles, whales and seals are all killed by marine plastic either through entanglement, or ingestion causing death through starvation.
Dr Brockington said the threats posed by pollution, over-fishing and a lack of habitat protection would be made worse by climate change.
Continued pressure on the marine ecosystem would bring it to the point where it could support only creatures at the bottom of the food chain, such as jellyfish and plankton.
He said: "In the next few years we're going to start seeing the effects of climate change; the first effects are already there, such as migration of fish and plankton types.
"Unless we build a healthy ecosystem, the impacts of climate change will be far worse."
This is truly sad on a worldwide basis. This is our only home. When will we see this? Our actions matter... as do our inactions.The seas around Britain face an ecological disaster because of over fishing and... more
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) today denounced newly proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rules governing genetically engineered crops, including food crops engineered to produce pharmaceutical and industrial products. The proposed rules, UCS charged, would not protect the U.S. food supply from potential contamination by drugs from "pharma" crops, and could allow drugs that it deems "safe" to enter the food supply. This contamination could occur through cross-pollination or seed mixing between pharma food crops and crops intended for consumption.
The USDA ignored recommendations for a ban on the outdoor production of pharma food crops from the Grocery Manufacturers Association, major food companies, UCS, and more than 100 environmental, agricultural, health, and consumer organizations.
Below is a statement by Jane Rissler, UCS's Food and Environment Program deputy director:
"Under the proposed rules, USDA's new motto is 'Only safe levels of drugs in U.S. food.' If these proposals are enacted into law, American consumers must accept the possibility of drugs in their breakfast cereal or other common foods. Moreover, these rules likely will lead to contamination scares, which will hurt the food industry.
"The USDA proposal, unlike the ban we recommended, offers no incentives to drug companies to pursue already existing, safer methods for producing drugs.
"In its rush to enact the proposed rules into law before the end of the Bush administration, the USDA has given short shrift to public participation. The department is allowing only 45 days for the public to analyze and comment on this major proposal, which will determine the government's approach to regulating genetically engineered organisms for years to come.
"The proposed rules also overhaul the existing regulatory system for genetically engineered crops other than pharma crops. Some of the proposed changes represent steps in the right direction such as making the regulatory program more coherent and comprehensive, expanding the scope of genetically engineered organisms subject to government oversight, and allowing the department to consider impacts on public health."
For UCS's Web feature profiling innovative biotechnology companies that are developing drugs more safely, go to
For the location of pharma crops that have been grown outdoors across the country, go to
Here we go again.The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) today denounced newly proposed U.S. Department... more
The global economy is losing more money from the disappearance of forests than through the current banking crisis, according to an EU-commissioned study.
It puts the annual cost of forest loss at between $2 trillion and $5 trillion.
The figure comes from adding the value of the various services that forests perform, such as providing clean water and absorbing carbon dioxide.
The study, headed by a Deutsche Bank economist, parallels the Stern Review into the economics of climate change.
It has been discussed during many sessions here at the World Conservation Congress.
Some conservationists see it as a new way of persuading policymakers to fund nature protection rather than allowing the decline in ecosystems and species, highlighted in the release on Monday of the Red List of Threatened Species, to continue.
Speaking to BBC News on the fringes of the congress, study leader Pavan Sukhdev emphasised that the cost of natural decline dwarfs losses on the financial markets.
"It's not only greater but it's also continuous, it's been happening every year, year after year," he told BBC News.
"So whereas Wall Street by various calculations has to date lost, within the financial sector, $1-$1.5 trillion, the reality is that at today's rate we are losing natural capital at least between $2-$5 trillion every year."
The review that Mr Sukhdev leads, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (Teeb), was initiated by Germany under its recent EU presidency, with the European Commission providing funding.
The first phase concluded in May when the team released its finding that forest decline could be costing about 7% of global GDP. The second phase will expand the scope to other natural systems.
Key to understanding his conclusions is that as forests decline, nature stops providing services which it used to provide essentially for free.
So the human economy either has to provide them instead, perhaps through building reservoirs, building facilities to sequester carbon dioxide, or farming foods that were once naturally available.
Or we have to do without them; either way, there is a financial cost.
The Teeb calculations show that the cost falls disproportionately on the poor, because a greater part of their livelihood depends directly on the forest, especially in tropical regions.
The greatest cost to western nations would initially come through losing a natural absorber of the most important greenhouse gas.
And that isn't only on a monetary scale. The loss of forests, natural carbon sinks, biodiversity, our oceans, and the ecosystems that depend on them will lose us as a species far more than $$$$$$. We will lose our very essence and our reason for being on this planet. We will lose the very breath of our Earth. To me, while the global markets struggle to maintain a tangible asset, let us not forget that our Earth and its sustainability is our most precious asset in more ways than just the tangible. And if we as a world community do not get truly serious about dealing with this loss within the next year it will not matter what happens on a global market. The loss to us otherwise will be even more catastrophic.The global economy is losing more money from the disappearance of forests than through... more
From the report: From majestic African elephants to tiny and often unappreciated rodents, mammals on Earth are in a state of crisis. One in four mammal species on Earth is being pushed to extinction, according to the Global Mammal Assessment, the most comprehensive assessment of the world's mammals.
Writing in the October 10 issue of Science, ("The Status of the World's Land and Marine Mammals: Diversity, Threat, and Knowledge") and unveiling a "Red List" of endangered mammal species (at the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, Spain), the researchers who worked on the exhaustive study say that from 25 percent to 36 percent of species may be in danger of extinction.
"It is frightening that after millions and millions of years of evolution that have given rise to the biodiversity of mammals we are perched on a crisis where 25 percent of species are threatened with being lost forever," said Andrew Smith, an Arizona State University professor who played a key role in the mammalian assessment. Smith and his research assistant, Charlotte Johnson, are two of the 103 authors of the Science paper.
The Global Mammal Assessment was conducted by more than 1,800 scientists from more than 130 countries working under the auspices of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It was made possible by the volunteer help of IUCN Species Survival Commission's specialist groups and collaborations between top institutions and universities, including Arizona State University, Texas A&M University, University of Virginia, Conservation International, Sapienza Università di Roma and the Zoological Society of London.
The mammal assessment is the first comprehensive look at the health of terrestrial and marine mammals across the globe. It is a companion assessment to similar documentation of the world's amphibians, released four years ago by IUCN.
"Mammals are important because they play key roles in ecosystems and provide important benefits to humans," Smith explained. "If you lose a mammal, you often are in danger of losing many other species."
The assessment shows that at least 1,141 of the 5,487 mammals on Earth are known to be threatened with extinction. At least 76 mammals have become extinct since 1500. The real situation could be much worse as 836 mammals are listed as "data deficient."
The culprits driving this precarious position include habitat loss and over exploitation for terrestrial mammals, and pollution, global warming and over exploitation for marine mammals, Smith said.
Follow link for full article.From the report: From majestic African elephants to tiny and often unappreciated... more
The Bureau of Land Management has issued a Notice of Proposed Legislative Withdrawal to enable the eventual transfer of 365,906 acres of fragile public land in the Mojave Desert to the U.S. Marine Corps for bombing, tank training and other live fire exercises.
The lands identified by the Marine Corps for its Air Ground Combat Center training grounds near Twentynine Palms include habitat critical for survival of the threatened desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) and desert bighorn sheep. The Marine Corps says it needs the expansion for national security.
National security doesn't require seizing and bombing public lands and threatened species habitat, said Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. The public needs more explanation on the need for the proposed expansion under which deserts and wildlife that are already in decline will fall victim to tank treads, heavy artillery and other destructive military activity.
Today's proposal is the latest in a string of threats to the tortoise. Having survived more than a million years in California's deserts, desert tortoise numbers are now crashing, particularly in the West Mojave, where much of the expansion would occur. The population decline is due to numerous factors, including disease, habitat degradation, crushing by vehicles, military and suburban development, and predators. Because of its dwindling numbers, the desert tortoise, California's official state reptile, is now protected under both federal and state endangered species acts. The expansion could also lead to additional disastrous tortoise relocations. Nearly 2,000 tortoises are already being experimentally relocated for the expansion of Fort Irwin, an Army post about 25 miles north of the Marine Corps base. That effort so far has resulted in unexpectedly high tortoise mortality rates.
In August, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a new draft recovery plan that would weaken protections for the tortoise. The plan provides only vague descriptions of recovery actions actions that are not derived from the best available science. Recently, population genetics studies have identified the desert tortoise in the western portion of the Mojave Desert as distinctly different from its relatives to the northern, eastern, and southern portions. This finding sheds new light on why increased conservation and relocation success are more important than ever for the Fort Irwin effort.
The legacy of one million years of evolutionary history should not fall victim to our president's failed war, Anderson said. Endangered species remain the Bush administration's very lowest priority and in its final days, the administration appears to have set its sights on speeding the desert tortoise towards extinction.
They say they need this space as it is a national security issue? Hasn't their war killed enough?The Bureau of Land Management has issued a Notice of Proposed Legislative Withdrawal... more
A stunning look at the world’s most pressing problems through the eyes of nine Nobel Laureates, Nobelity follows filmmaker Turk Pipkin’s personal journey to find enlightening answers about the kind of world our children and grandchildren will know. Filmed across the U.S., and in France, England, India, and Africa, Nobelity Combines The Insights of nine distinguished Nobelists with a first-person view of world problems and the children who are most challenged by them.A stunning look at the world’s most pressing problems through the eyes of nine... more
Biofuels are a false solution to climate change and are doing much more harm than good.
Devastating die-offs of amphibians are a sign that a “mass extinction” is underway on our planet—brought on by us, two scientists say.
“Many scientists argue that we are either entering or in the midst of [Earth’s] sixth great mass extinction,” wrote the researchers in a paper published online this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The die-offs of amphibians and other plant and animal species support that claim, they added.
“There’s no question that we are in a mass extinction spasm,” said David Wake, a biologist at the University of California, Berkeley and a co-author of the study. “Amphibians have been around for about 250 million years. They made it through when the dinosaurs didn’t. The fact that they’re cutting out now should be a lesson.”
New species arise and old species die off all the time, but sometimes the extinction numbers far outweigh the emergence of new species. Extreme cases of this are called mass extinctions. There have been five in our planet’s history before now.
The new one is different—it’s apparently caused by us, Wake said. The study is co-authored by Wake and biologist Vance Vredenburg of the university at Berkeley and San Francisco State University.
When the current extinction started is debatable, Wake said. It may have been 10,000 years ago, when humans first came from Asia to the Americas and hunted many of the large mammals to extinction. It may have started after the Industrial Revolution, when the human population exploded. Or, we might be seeing the start right now, Wake said. But no matter what the start date, extinction rates have undeniably dramatically increased over the last few decades, Wake declared.
The global amphibian extinction is a particularly bleak example, he added. In 2004, researchers found that nearly one-third of amphibian species are threatened, and many of the non-threatened species are on the wane. Wake studies amphibians in the Sierra Nevada in the United States. The picture is as grim there as elsewhere, he said. “We have these great national parks here that are about as close as you can get to absolute preserves, and there have been really startling drops in amphibian populations there, too,” Wake said.
Global warming and habitat constriction are two other major killers of frogs around the world, Wake said. And the Sierra Nevada amphibians are also susceptible to poisonous winds carrying pesticides from Central Valley croplands. “The frogs have really been hit by a one-two punch,” Wake said, “although it’s more like a one-two-three-four punch.”
The frogs are not the only victims in this mass extinction, Wake added. Scientists studying other organisms have seen similarly dramatic effects. “Our work needs to be seen in the context of all this other work, and the news is very, very grim,” Wake said. The National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health helped support the study.
Are we next?Devastating die-offs of amphibians are a sign that a... more
Vietnam's appetite for illegal wildlife meat and demand for traditional medicine is devastating animal and plant species within and beyond its borders, experts warn in two new reports.
Vietnam has been one of Southeast Asia's most biodiverse countries, but some species may be lost before they are known to science due to an illegal global trade believed to be trailing only drugs and gunrunning.
Two new reports spell out that, despite Vietnam's international commitments to combat the trade, the smuggling of tigers, monkeys, snakes, pangolins and other animals to and through Vietnam is booming.
"Vietnam's illegal trade in wildlife continues unabated and affects neighbouring countries," wrote Nguyen Van Song of the Hanoi Agricultural University in the Journal of Environment and Development.
"Wildlife in Vietnam has become very scarce."
The study estimated that up to 4,000 tonnes of live animals or meat, skins, ground bones and other illegal products are trafficked into and out of Vietnam per year, generating more than 67 million dollars in revenues.
Species are mostly sourced from Vietnam's national parks and neighbouring Laos and Cambodia, to be consumed in Vietnam, China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, according to the study based on hundreds of interviews.
The largest volume of illegal wildlife goods is smuggled across the Vietnam-China border, with an estimated 2,500 to 3,500 kilogrammes (5,500 to 7,700 pounds) flowing daily through the two major border gates, it said.
There have been high-profile crackdowns. In a case last week, Vietnamese police seized more than two tonnes of live snakes and 770 kilogrammes of tortoises from Laos en route to China.
But the report estimated that the total value of confiscated wildlife accounts for only three percent of the illegal trade, and that authorities are at a disadvantage when a forest ranger polices an average of 1,400 hectares (3,500 acres) of forest at a monthly wage of about 50 dollars.
Smugglers connected to "influential people" -- shorthand for gangsters -- bribe or threaten officials and hide their contraband in trucks, ambulances, wedding and funeral cars and prison vans, the report said.
The capital Hanoi is Vietnam's largest market for illegal wildlife meat, with revenues of over 12,000 dollars a day, the report said.
"Hanoi is the cultural and political centre of Vietnam where wildlife protection and conservation policies are issued and implemented," said the report.
"This suggests that the gap between policies and implementation of wildlife protection is still big."
The most popular species served in Hanoi were snakes, palm civets, monitor lizards, porcupines, leopards, pangolins, monkeys, forest pigs, hardshell turtles, soft-shell turtles, civets, boas and birds.
The other market fuelling the trade is traditional Vietnamese and Chinese medicine, said a report by the wildlife monitoring network TRAFFIC.
Surveys found that "many high-profile animals of global conservation concern (such as tigers, bears or rhinos) can still be bought on the market, provided prior notice is given and that the price negotiated is high enough."
Informants had told TRAFFIC that live tiger cubs, tiger skeletons, raw materials and processed medicinal products were brought from Cambodia, Laos and as far as Malaysia to supply the Vietnamese market.
Traders in Ninh Hiep commune near Hanoi had offered to supply investigators with "any type of medicinal animal if ordered sufficiently in advance" -- including a frozen tiger(pictured above), rhino horn and wild bear gall bladder.
The shop-owners who offered the illicit goods, the TRAFFIC report found, were "well organised, each claiming that they were shielded from investigations through protection by enforcement personnel."Vietnam's appetite for illegal wildlife meat and demand for traditional medicine... more
A new study warns that 48% of the world's primates species face extinction.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species says the main threats are habitat loss, primarily through the burning and clearing of tropical forests, hunting of primates for food and illegal wildlife trade.
The survey showed that out of 634 recognised species and subspecies, 11% were Critically Endangered, 22% were Endangered, while a further 15% were listed as Vulnerable.
With 71% considered at risk of extinction, Asia had the greatest proportion of threatened primates. The five nations with the highest percentage of endangered species were all within Asia.A new study warns that 48% of the world's primates species face extinction.... more
A Japanese seaweed has been found in Scottish waters and could threaten the diversity of native species.
Heterosiphonia japonica was found by Dr Colin Moore while diving off the Isle of Oronsay, near Loch Sunart, in May. Since then, the academic from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, has found it in Glenmore Bay, Loch Sunart, Loch Drumbuie and Loch Creran. Conservationists believe the seaweed's rapid growth could threaten other native species.
Heterosiphonia japonica originates from the Pacific and can grow into dense tufts up to 30cm in length. Dr Fiona Manson, marine advisory officer at Scottish Natural Heritage, said the discovery of the species had given rise to concern.
"At the moment we don't know what impact it will have on marine wildlife, although it is likely it will reduce the diversity of our native seaweeds by outgrowing them, as it has in other parts of Europe," she said.
"Now it is here there is not much we can do to eradicate it but, like wireweed, another non-native species of seaweed spreading rapidly around the west coast, it is important boat users and others take care not to spread it further."
A Japanese seaweed has been found in Scottish waters and could threaten the diversity... more
Endangered species could become extinct 100 times faster than estimated. According to scientists, methods previously used to predict when species will die out are not accurate and dramatically underestimate the speed at which species become extinct.
Species such as the western gorilla, the Sumatran tiger and the Malayan sun bear may become extinct much sooner than feared. According to ecologist Brett Melbourne, "some species could have months instead of years left, while other species that haven't even been identified as under threat yet should be listed as endangered."
One of the factors overlooked in previous attempts to predict extinction risks is the proportion of males compared with females in a population and the differences in reproductive success between individuals in a group. As soon as these factors were included by scientists, it emerged that the threat of extinction could be imminent. "The older models could be severely overestimating the time to extinction. Some species could go extinct 100 times sooner than we expect," Melbourne said.
According to a 200y IUCN report, more than 16,000 species worldwide are threatened with extinction. An updated list will be published in October.Endangered species could become extinct 100 times faster than estimated. According to... more
Beautiful coral reefs are increasingly under threat from climate change, and so are 4,000 species of fish, critically dependent on them for food, shelter or reproduction, warns a study.
It blames global warming for the latest threat to marine biodiversity. Already many corals have died because of warmer waters associated with climate change.
''The problem for specialist coral fishes is that when the corals die, the fish have nowhere else to go. Other kinds of fish live more independently, but depend on reefs for shelter in the juvenile stage of their life,'' said the study's co-author Philip Munday.
''As coral communities become less healthy, so too do the fish communities. A loss of diversity in corals due to bleaching and other impacts is also likely to lead to a loss in diversity among the fishes which inhabit them,'' the researchers said.
Like corals themselves, coral fishes seem to prefer a temperature-stable environment and heating of the water may affect them in unpredictable ways.
For instance, Munday said, warmer water may lead to higher survival rates in baby fish - but it could equally send a signal to adults to stop breeding, as reproduction is often governed by water conditions.
Recent research has shown that some species might grow more slowly if temperatures go above their preferred range.
An estimated 200 million people worldwide derive their livelihoods and a major source of sustenance from coral reefs. In Australia, a $5 billion tourism industry depends significantly on visitors being able to view corals and their colourful fish.
Beautiful coral reefs are increasingly under threat from climate change, and so are... more
The U.S. agency focused on the condition of the oceans says the Caribbean monk seal has gone extinct.
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Services has confirmed what many biologists have long suspected: the only subtropical seal native to the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico is extinct. It also warns that the Hawaiian and Mediterranean monk seals could be next.
The last confirmed sighting of the Caribbean monk seal was in 1952 at Seranilla Bank, between Jamaica and the Yucatan Peninsula.
Biologists say humans left the population unsustainable after over hunting them.
Today, there are fewer than 1,200 Hawaiian and 500 Mediterranean monk seals remaining.
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jG7KS792s_njtUMaxoi66jmWRqgwD9154DUG0The U.S. agency focused on the condition of the oceans says the Caribbean monk seal... more
"Over the last two months, nearly 4,000 acres of prime mountain gorilla habitat has been cleared by illegal settlers in Africa's Virunga National Park, a World Heritage Site and site of Dian Fossey's groundbreaking gorilla research. World Wildlife Fund is calling on government officials there to take immediate action to protect the park.
Located in DRC on the border with Rwanda and Uganda, Virunga National Park is home to more than half the world's 700 remaining mountain gorillas - one of the most critically endangered species on the planet.
According to information received by WWF, the Wildlife Conservation Society and their conservation partners, most of the destruction took place from early May to June. Several thousand people moved in to the area to farm illegally in Virunga, with support from influential local individuals who sold plots of land within the national park. The forest was clearcut and turned into timber or charcoal before crops were planted.
WWF and its partners are working to improve the livelihoods of local people around Virunga through community projects - destroying the park is not a solution and in the long- term will cause even more suffering to people as well as gorillas
WWF is urging the Congolese and Rwandan governments to take measures to enforce the UN World Heritage Convention that protects this unique site. WWF is also calling on the international community to fund park patrols, the peaceful evacuation of illegal settlers, and the restoration of destroyed areas.
"What is happening in Virunga is a disaster," says Marc Languy, coordinator of WWF's program in the Albertine Rift. "Thanks to conservation efforts during the past decades, the mountain gorillas have survived civil unrest and war in the region. Loss of habitat is however the worse threat to this species. It is also a loss for the local communities as the forest provides many ecological and economical services to the neighboring population, and many local people benefit from gorilla tourism revenues"."
By Jan Vertefeuille
Read more about issues affecting gorillas:
"Over the last two months, nearly 4,000 acres of prime mountain gorilla habitat... more
..the leatherback question is of course a cover for the real question you and others have asked about other species. “What species can we allow to go extinct without major harm (as in bodily) or disruption (as in lifestyle which includes all the props — houses car, roads, food, that enable us to live the way we do) of mankind?”
The answer is:
We are already allowing species to go extinct, and will continue to in the future, due to lack of resources, personal and political will, and knowledge. We have already started “events” that we know of, such as global warming and others that we don’t, but will affect the leatherback and other animals like the polar bear in the Arctic. The reality is we have unwittingly started a science project, on a global scale, that we are part of.
The project’s premise?
“Just how much biodiversity do we need?”
“Who knows, because we might not be around to see how this experiment ends.”
So saving as many animals and plants as we can, trying to slow down global warming (we can’t stop it) is our attempt to try to be around when the experiment ends.
..the leatherback question is of course a cover for the real question you and others... more