As usual. Along with seabirds, owing to decisions made by the US government.
The US Government has auctioned leases to drill for oil and gas in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska, putting at risk internationally important concentrations of seabirds, and a number of threatened bird species, including the Critically Endangered Kittlitz’s Murrelet Brachyramphus brevirostri.Audubon (BirdLife in the USA) says the Chukchi Sea is also home to one-tenth of the world’s remaining Polar Bears Ursus maritimus, and the only population of Bowhead Whales Balaena mysticetus not yet considered by the IUCN to be threatened.At least 15 species of birds on Audubon Alaska’s WatchList use marine and coastal habitats in the Chukchi Sea. The WatchList identifies declining and vulnerable species and populations of birds.Bird species at risk include the Vulnerable Steller’s Eider Polysticta stelleri and Near Threatened Ivory Gull Pagophila eburnea. There are two major seabird colonies on the East (Alaskan) coast of the Chukchi Sea, supporting an estimated 850,000 breeding birds between them, mostly Thick-billed Uria lomvia and Common Guillemot (or Murre) U. aalge, and Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla. Kittlitz’s Murrelet breeds at both sites.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is caused by a coronavirus that is now believed to have originated in bats. In 2004, thousands of palm civets (a cat like carnivore) were killed off in China because it was believed that they were the main reservoir of this disease. Ooops. Continue reading SARS comes from bats→
Or is it just that they are more often recognized. Or more sensationally reported. A recent study suggests that “emerging” diseases such as HIV, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), West Nile virus and Ebola are more common. Continue reading Are emerging diseases emerging more?→
Last year’s Rare Birds Yearbook photo competition was a huge success with more than 1,000 images being submitted and the best were presented in Rare Birds Yearbook 2008, with each published photographer receiving a free copy of the book.The photo competition for Rare Birds Yearbook 2009 has just been launched and will run until 31 May 2008. This year sees a few exciting differences in the competition format.A new category, with a top prize of a travel-friendly Minox telescope, has been introduced for the best photo – or painting – of those species that did not feature with photos in the 2008 edition.There is a completely new contest for this year, a writer’s competition on the subject “My Encounter with a Critically Endangered Bird”. The first prize for this is a copy of the wonderful The Fifty Rarest Birds of the World. This leatherbound volume features stunning images painted by world-renowned wildlife artist Blake Twigden.An important objective of Rare Birds Yearbook is to create funds to save these Critically Endangered birds. That is why for every book sold Â£4 is donated to BirdLife International, to be used exclusively for the protection and conservation of these species.
Thousands of sick and dying bats are being found in caves in New York, Vermont and Massachusetts. These are mostly Myotis lucifungus (the fairly common little brown bat) but at least three other species, including the endangered Myotis sodalis (Indiana bat) are affected as well.But why? Continue reading Why are the bats dying?→
A flourishing wetland on Kenya’s northern coast is under serious threat from plans to grow vast amounts of sugarcane, partly for biofuel production. Developers want to transform nearly 20,000 hectares of the spectacular Tana River Delta, into sugarcane plantations with other parts of the Delta earmarked for rice.”This development would be a national disaster, wreaking havoc with the area’s ecosystem and spelling the end for wildlife across much of the Delta”, said Paul Matiku, Executive Director of NatureKenya. “Large areas would become ecological deserts. The Delta is a wildlife refuge with cattle herders depending on it for centuries as well. There is no commitment to mitigation for the damage that will be done and no evidence that local incomes will be in any way improved. The sugarcane scheme cannot be allowed to go ahead.”The Delta, covering 130,000 hectares in total, is one of Kenya’s largest and most important freshwater wetlands. It is a vast patchwork of habitats including savannah, forests, beaches, lakes, mangrove swamps and the Tana River itself. Local people live by the seasons, adapting to the regular floods that keep the area fertile through the year.The sugarcane scheme, submitted by Mumias Sugar Company and Tana and Athi River Development Authority, proposes nearly 50,000 acres of irrigated sugarcane, together with sugar and ethanol plants. Local community livelihoods are likely to be severely impacted by any large-scale irrigation project.
Almost half of the world’s oceans have been ruined to some degree … often very severely … by human activity. You’ve heard a lot on the news and in the blogosphere about this lately. This increased interest is in part because of the recent production (Feb 15th Science) of a map of the ocean showing these impact.Here is the map:Click Here to View Larger ImageContinue reading An Ocean of Despair→