Rare pheasant discoveries in Kashmir


Western tragopan

From Wildlife Extra:

Two new populations of Endangered Western tragopan discovered

Two rare Indian pheasants’ new territory – Western tragopan is shy and silent

June 2011: The extremely rare western tragopan has been recorded at two new sites along the Pir Panjal range in Jammu and Kashmir. Sightings and calls of the pheasant were validated at the Kalamund-Tatakuti and Khara Rakh areas of the range.

A Schedule I species on the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act and listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the IUCN Red List, the western tragopan is a medium-sized, brightly coloured pheasant endemic to the western Himalayas and inhabits coniferous forests. Locals had talked about seeing the bird in April – but its presence was confirmed the following month.

‘The bird is extremely shy and silent. But knowing that the best way to locate the species would be during its breeding season, when it becomes highly vocal, we returned in May,’ said Riyaz Ahmad, the team leader and assistant manager, species division of WTI.

The victim of rampant poaching

A victim of rampant poaching for its meat and plumage and habitat degradation and fragmentation, the western tragopan has previously been reported only from Kazinag range and Kishtawar National Park in the state. A few scattered records occur from Sud Mahadeo area of Jammu province.

‘I was pleasantly surprised to note the tragopan’s presence in these areas. Unlike its usual haunts, the moist north-facing coniferous slopes, the present sites are located on the south face of Pir Panjal along Poonch,’ said Dr Rahul Kaul, South Asia representative, IUCN SSC Galliformes Specialist Group and Chief Ecologist, WTI.

In addition to western tragopan, the team also sighted another threatened species in the region, the cheer pheasant.

Ecologically diverse and representative of western Himalayan forests possessing key species such as the markhor, brown bear and musk deer, the team has recommended Kalamund-Tatakuti for notification as a protected area.

NEW YORK (July 3, 2012) – The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced today that the markhor – a majestic wild goat species – is making a remarkable comeback in Pakistan due to conservation efforts: here.

Dutch spoonbill breeding 2011 figures


This is a video about a spoonbill trying to eat a fish, which turned out to be too big.

The Dutch Spoonbill Working Group reports that this year, 2332 spoonbill couples have nested in the Netherlands.

On Texel island, at least 510 couples have nested in 2011. Maybe some more, as some spoonbill nests are well hidden.

The biggest spoonbill colony of Texel is in De Geul nature reserve, where 416 couples have nested.

Victory for Dutch Afghan refugee girls


Afghan refugee sisters Karima and KrishmaTranslated from Dutch ANP news agency:

Two Afghan sisters may continue

Two Afghan girls and their family from Hengelo can remain in the Netherlands. 18-year-old Karima and 15-year-old Krishma have been living in the Netherlands for nine years and ran the risk of being deported.

The mayors of Hengelo and Borne wrote a letter to Minister Leers, asking him to give the girls a residence permit. They are so westernized that they cannot return.

Previously, the girls’ high school waged action to let them stay. They are very pleased that they can stay now.

After the earlier victory of Afghan refugee girl Sahar, whom the Dutch Rightist government tried to expel, another victory against this government. Karima and Krishma will not have to return to occupied Afghanistan, the world’s worst country for women.

So, for once, under pressure from below, this government makes a good decision, affecting two individuals (and creating a precedent for more individuals, it is to be hoped).

However, they had already made a very bad decision affecting many more Afghan, and Dutch, individuals.

They have decided to, again, send Dutch soldiers to Afghanistan; this time to Kunduz province.

This will mean more war, more dead Afghans including girls. And more refugees from Afghanistan. Contrary to what European xenophobes say, most of those refugees are not going to Europe to supposedly “Islamize” it in some Elders-of-Zion-style secret “Eurabia” plot. Most Afghan refugees go to Pakistan or Iran.

Some went and will go to Europe or other NATO countries. Good that, in the case of the sisters Krishma and Karima, a blow has been struck against punishing the victims of NATO’s war for that war.

The Dutch government makes bad decisions, not just on the Afghan war, but also on refugees other than Karima and Krishma. Next Tuesday 13:15 there will be a demonstration on the Plein square in The Hague against government plans to expel Mauro, a refugee boy from Angola, from the Netherlands.

Victims of human trafficking: human rights not a priority for Dutch government: here.

Sarah Bufkin, ThinkProgress: “America’s wars are forcing Afghans and Iraqis to flee their homes in greater numbers. According to a recent U.N. High Commission for Refugees study, nearly one half of the world’s refugees are from Afghanistan and Iraq, 3.05 million and 1.68 million, respectively. But neither the United States nor much of the developed world bears the burden of the 10.55 million refugees under the UNHCR’s purview globally. Instead, Pakistan, Iran, and Syria serve as the top host countries. The Economist has charted the numbers”: here.

Afghanistan: Rawa.org News Feed: While US talks withdrawal, Afghan corruption soars: here.

Deportation flight to Iraq blockaded and stopped: here.

New bat research app


This video is about vampire bats.

From the Zoological Society of London:

Batphone: From baddies to biodiversity

June 24, 2011

Scientists have brought to life the batphone, launching a new smartphone app to monitor the world’s bats.

From Transylvania to Tooting, citizen scientists will be pointing their smartphones to the skies to capture the ultrasonic calls of bats in their local area.

The iBats app has been developed for both the iPhone and Android phones by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in conjunction with the Bat Conservation Trust, Dr. George Roussos of Birkbeck, University of London, and Dr. Adam Talcott of Atomic Powered, USA.

The iBats app will assist a global network of more than 700 volunteer bat-trackers who are part of a global bat monitoring programme called iBats funded by The Darwin Initiative and The Leverhulme Trust.

The handheld technology lightens the load for volunteers who previously had to carry three pieces of recording kit to monitor their local bat species. With the launch of the iBats app, they now only need their smartphone and an ultrasonic microphone.

iBats volunteers are currently recording bat calls in the UK, Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Russia and Japan. The scientists coordinating iBats hope the launch of the iBats app will encourage more people to get involved in the project.

“Bats are like a heart monitor for wildlife. Their presence can tell us a lot about the health of the environment because they have an important role in terms of eating insects and acting as pollinators for many different plant species.

“We hope the iBats app will encourage more people to monitor their local bats and make a contribution to the global conservation of wildlife,” says Dr. Kate Jones, iBats Project Manager from ZSL.

The iBats app is capable of recording the calls of more than 900 species of bats which use echolocation for finding food and navigation. Volunteers will be able to upload recorded calls to the iBats website which uses special software to identify the bats that have been recorded.

The Call of the Panama Bats. Scientist Elisabeth Kalko uses high-tech equipment to track and study the 120 bat species in the region: here.

Rainforest plant developed sonar dish to attract pollinating bats: here.

Vampire Bats Locate Blood By Finding the Heat: here.

7 Surprising Facts About Bats: here.

Herring gull eats 5 live bats; video here.

Bats in Dutch Limburg province: here.

Three new bat species discovered in Indochina: here.

September 2011: Three new bat species have been discovered in southern Indochina, after research by an international team of scientists led the Hungarian Natural History Museum (HNHM) and Fauna & Flora International(FFI): here.

Young bats learn to hunt by eavesdropping on more experienced bats: here.

ZSL London Zoo’s brand new bat cave: This new exhibit will be opening especially for October half term, and will be home to 16 critically endangered Rodrigues fruit bats: here.

A new bat has just entered the animal kingdom recordbooks. Meet Walston’s tube-nosed bat, named after real batman Joe Walston, who works to save bats and other wildlife in Southeast Asia: here.

A cold-loving fungus is behind an epidemic decimating bat populations in North America: here.

Film on hooded vultures in Burkina Faso


This is a hooded vulture video.

From BirdLife:

Are Hooded Vultures threatened with extinction in Burkina?

Formerly common in public places, and regularly seen on the rooftops of houses and public buildings, the Hooded vultures are now rare and missed by many in Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso. Has Ouagadougou become an inhospitable city to these birds? What happened to them anyway? These questions have inspired the creation of a documentary film under the auspices of Naturama (BirdLife in Burkina Faso), the Association des Techniciens Indépendants du Cinéma et de l’audio-visuel (ATIC) with funding from BirdLife International and the North England Zoological Society.

Vultures occupy an important place in the culture and lifestyles of people in Burkina Faso. In traditional medicine, they are used to ward off evil spells while they are good environmental cleaners. In addition, Hooded Vultures are good indicators of the quality of the urban environment. So many are their benefits that people are expected to protect these birds. However, the reality is different based on what has happened in the last few years in Ouagadougou. According to the Director of Wildlife and Hunting in Burkina Faso, Mr. Urban Belemsobgo, the population of hooded vultures, has declined between 1974 and 2004 from 26 to 6 individuals in every 5kms. “Five major factors are likely to be leading to this alarming and deplorable situation”, explains Oueda Georges, Director of conservation department of Naturama. “These are: the poisoning of vultures, habitat loss, the collisions with electric power lines, hunting by poachers and the measures taken by the aviation agents to prevent bird strikes”.

It is therefore urgent that action is taken. That is why this film has been produced in order to alert the public and government about threats to vultures. “The documentary comes at a time when the Hooded Vulture has just declared as Endangered in the newly released 2011 IUCN Red List. This is as a result of its observed decline across the range in Africa”, says Kariuki Ndang’ang’a of the BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat. Idrissa Zeba, the Executive Director of Naturama, urges people in Burkina Faso to be aware of the threats to the Hooded Vulture and to create all suitable conditions for the hooded vulture so that it can reassert itself in the city of Ouagadougou.

Burkina Faso Losing Thousands of Hectares of Forests Each Year: here.

East Africa: Hooded Vulture Numbers Take a Nose-Dive: here.

The Cape Griffon vulture, the largest bird of its kind in Africa, is also one of the most endangered. Listed as “vulnerable” to extinction by the World Conservation Union (which is similar to “threatened” on the Endangered Species List) the Cape Griffon vulture has suffered a significant population decline over the past few decades: here.

India’s pharmacies flout diclofenac ban but vulture breeding centres have best year yet: here.

A team of BirdLife International and Fondation NATURAMA (BirdLife Partner in Burkina Faso) visited Oursi Lake recently to assess the impact of small scale funding received from Ricoh to support the rehabilitation of Oursi Lake ecosystem and improve livelihoods. Oursi is one of the most important wetland in Burkina Faso located about 450km from Ouagadougou. The lake is a major refuge for biodiversity in this Sahel zone and has bird assemblage of over 100 species including 27 Palearctic migrants: here.