Bahrain human rights violations continue


Bahrain Continues to Delay Human Rights Investigations: here.

This video is called Asma Darwish’s Hunger Strike in Bahrain.

From A Safe World for Women:

Bahraini Activist Asma Darwish

Interview by Joanne Michele, Safeworld Correspondent

On the 22nd of May, 2011 a Bahraini photographer, Mohammad Darwish, was arrested by the authorities.

The authorities refused to give any information to his family and on the 4th of June, his sister, Asma Darwish, went on hunger strike.

Asma was no stranger to human rights issues in Bahrain. Her husband Hussain Jawad was a member of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and Amnesty International and had himself been arrested three times. She herself was well known to the media and became a regular contact for the media through twitter under the name of @eagertobefree.

Her father-in-law, Mohammad Hassan Mohammad Jawad (Parweez), an independent human rights activist was arrested on March 22 and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Parwees was 65 and was the oldest political prisoner in Bahrain. When he was arrested he was tortured and held in solitary confinement for 4 months.

When we first spoke in December, Asma’s 16-year old cousin had just been released after two months in prison. He’d been arrested for watching, but not participating in, the protests, and was exposed to torture. Moreover, another cousin and uncle are both political prisoners, having been sentenced to 10 and 5 years, respectively.

Bahrain has the highest rate of drug-related deaths in the Arabian Peninsula, according to a United Nations (UN) report: here.

Panamanian crocodile-like camel fossils discovered


This video from the USA says about itself:

Fossilized camel toe bone unearthed during Florida training dig for OVIASC members.

By Jennifer Viegas:

Fossils of Crocodile-Like Camel Found

Mon Mar 5, 2012

Camels with long, crocodile-like snouts once lived near what is now the Panama Canal, suggests a new study.

The camels lived 20 million years ago and are now considered to be among the oldest known animals from Panama.

“They were probably browsers in the forests of the ancient tropics. We can say that because the crowns are really short,” lead author Aldo Rincon, a University of Florida geology doctoral student, said in a press release.

Rincon and his team are working with the Panama Canal Authority and scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute to make the most of a five-year window of excavations during Panama Canal expansions that began in 2009.

The new fossil camels, Aguascalietia panamaensis and Aguascalientia minuta, extend the distribution of mammals to their southernmost point in the ancient tropics of Central America.

Excavations are often difficult in the tropics because the lush vegetation prevents access. That’s not such a bad thing, considering that these species-rich areas contain some of the world’s most important ecosystems, including rain forests that regulate climate systems and serve as a vital source of food and medicine.

“We’re discovering this fabulous new diversity of animals that lived in Central America that we didn’t even know about before,” said co-author Bruce MacFadden, vertebrate paleontology curator at the Florida Museum on the UF campus and co-principal investigator on the NSF grant funding the project.

“The family originated about 30 million years ago and they’re found widespread throughout North America, but prior to this discovery, they were unknown south of Mexico.”

The two new fossil camels, found in the Las Cascadas formation, belong to an evolutionary branch of the camel family separate from the one that gave rise to modern camels.

Camels belong to a group of even-toed ungulates that includes cattle, goats, sheep, deer, buffalo and pigs. Other fossil mammals discovered in Panama from the early Miocene have been restricted to those also found in North America at the time.

While researchers are sure the ancient camels were herbivores that likely browsed in forests, they are still analyzing seeds and pollen to better understand the environment of the ancient tropics.

“People think of camels as being in the Old World, but their distribution in the past is different than what we know today,” MacFadden said. “The ancestors of llamas originated in North America and then when the land bridge formed about four to five million years ago, they dispersed into South America and evolved into the llama, alpaca, guanaco and vicuña.”

The study was published in the latest Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

See also here.

The feeding habits of mammals haven’t always been what they are today, particularly for omnivores, finds a new study. Some groups of mammals almost exclusively eat meat — take lions and tigers and other big cats, for example. Other mammals such as deer, cows and antelope are predominantly plant-eaters, living on a diet of leaves, shoots, fruits and bark. But particularly for omnivores that live on plant foods in addition to meat, the situation wasn’t always that way, finds a new study by researchers working at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, North Carolina: here.

Squacco heron photograph


9 February 2012 in the Gambia.

Squacco heron, the Gambia, 9 February 2012

This photo shows a squacco heron.

In Africa, this species is a winter migrant from southern Europe and western Asia.

July 2012. Birders have been gathering at WWT Welney in Norfolk this week to see an extremely rare squacco heron. The reason why it has turned up in the UK is unknown as these birds normally spend the summer in Southern Europe: here.

More squacco heron photos: here.

New Cambodian lizard species discovery


Lygosoma veunsaiensis, an iridescent skink new to science found in the Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area in Ratanakiri, Cambodia. Photo: © Gabor Csorba

From Wildlife Extra:

March 2012: A new species of skink has been discovered in Cambodia. The lizard is characterized by its very short legs, long tail and striking iridescent skin. The skink was found during a Rapid Assesment Programme expedition in northeast Cambodia led by Fauna & Flora International (FFI), in partnership with Conservation International (CI) in 2010.

The skink has now been named Lygosoma veunsaiensis to honour the Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area in Ratanakiri where it was found. It is the latest in a string of new species discovered in this area, including Walston’s tube-nosed bat and the northern yellow-cheeked gibbon.

See also here.

Birds of Gambia, bye bye


15 February 2012 in Kotu in the Gambia.

After the “hamerkop pond” birds, it is time to go to the airport.

This video is about birdwatching in the Gambia.

The bus passes the Sheraton hotel, with cattle egrets on its lawns.

We pass a sign along the road, which say: “Stop littering. Gambia is beautiful, Keep it clean”. The sign reminds me of the cattle egret which I saw flying this morning with a plastic bag entangled around its legs. Like in many other countries, there are much more signs for commercial promotion than for promoting the environment.

12:30: Banjul International Airport. Pied crows on trees. A hooded vulture flies past.

14:24: our plane takes off.

18:30: we pass the Strait of Gibraltar.

19:17: we fly over Madrid.

20:55: Lille, in northern France.

I may still blog on Gambia, if I find photographs which I forgot earlier; or if I find out how to post an iPhone made-music video on this blog, etc.

There are other Gambian bird photos here.

Gambia 2012 – Bijilo Forest Park: here.

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