Dutch humpback whale in Texel harbour


This video is called Humpback Whale Song.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Humpback Johannes in Texel harbour

Tuesday, December 18, 2012, 00:26

Humpback Johannes has been towed to the port of the research institute NIOZ on Texel. Rijkswaterstaat staff made ​​use of the flood and refloated the dead animal, tying its tail to a pontoon boat.

It now floats in the port. Tomorrow a crane will hoist it ashore. There the whale will be investigated by research institute Naturalis.

The humpback whale was confirmed to be dead on Sunday. The animal had stranded last Wednesday on a sandbank. Attempts by Ecomare to rescue the animal had failed.

A photo of the whale being towed is here.

Naturalis museum on the stranded humpback: here.

Ecomare museum on the humpback: here.

This is a Dutch regional TV video, on transporting the dead humpback to Texel.

Update: on Tuesday night, a ship will try to bring the dead sperm whale to the harbour as well.

Sperm whale update: here.

Asian elephants’ social networks research


This video is called The Asian Elephant – Two Species.

From Wildlife Extra:

Asian elephants have intricate social networks

Social networking elephants never forget

December 2012. Asian elephants typically live in small, flexible, social groups centred around females and calves while adult males roam independently. However, new research shows that while Asian elephants in Sri Lanka may change their day to day associations they maintain a larger, stable, network of friends from which they pick their companions.

Social networking

Researchers followed the friendships among over a hundred female adult Asian elephants in the Uda Walawe National Park in Sri Lanka for five seasons and analysed how these relationships changed over time. While the elephants tended to congregate in groups containing three adult females, there could be as many as 17 in a single group. Social strategies were also variable, with some elephants always being seen in each other’s company while others were ‘social butterflies’ who frequently changed companions. Surprisingly, 16% completely changed their ‘top five’ friends over the course of the study. Elephants who had few companions were very faithful to them, whereas those who had many tended to be less loyal.

Analysis of elephant ‘ego-networks’ showed that Asian elephants tended to also associate with larger sets of companions, especially in dry seasons. Social bonds were especially strong when resources were scarce, even to the extent of expelling unfamiliar elephants from sources of water. This may be due in part to the ecology of their environment, because other elephants, which live in drier areas, congregate in greater numbers in wet seasons. It was previously thought that, unlike African savannah elephants, Asian elephants had no extensive social affiliations, but at the population level, extensive clusters of interconnected groups were discovered.

Trunk calls

Dr Shermin de Silva from the University of Pennsylvania explained that, “Elephants are able to track one another over large distances by calling to each other and using their sense of smell. So the ‘herd’ of elephants one sees at any given time is often only a fragment of a much larger social group. Our work shows that they are able recognize their friends and renew these bonds even after being apart for a long time.”

The research was published in published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Ecology.

December 2013: The Malaysian National Elephant Conservation Action plan has been officially launched by the Malaysian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment and the Director-General of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), Dato Rasid Samsuddin, with the Director of Wildlife Conservation Society-Malaysia Program, Dr. Melvin Gumal: here.

Elephants being poached in Burma: here.

Robin, blackbirds on balcony


This morning, two (female or immature?) blackbirds on the balcony, looking for food on the dish, the floor and in the flowerpots.

This is a robin video.

A robin, which I had not seen there for some time, came as well.

Above them, of course great tits on the feeder.

At the feeder on the other side of the house, blue tit and great tit.

Bahrain dictatorship jails another human rights activist


Ms Zainab Al-Khawaja detained for peacefully protesting

From the Bahrain Center for Human Rights:

Bahrain: Human Rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja detained for peacefully protesting

17 December 2012

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) express grave concern over the ongoing judicial harassments against human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja.

On 9 Dec 2012, human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja was arrested after staging a one-person protest outside the intensive care unit at Salmaniya hospital, demanding visitation rights for an injured citizen. The security forces prevented his family from visiting him at the hospital. Al-Khawaja was held overnight and taken to the public prosecution office the next day. She was accused of “inciting hatred against the regime, through chanting political slogans” and has been given a 7 days detention order. Zainab Al-Khawaja has reportedly chanted “We are all the hero Aqeel” (the injured citizen). The family members of the injured man were allowed after the protest to visit him briefly. On 13 Dec 2012 before the end of her detention period, she was taken to the public prosecution where her detention period was extended for another 10 days, until 27 Dec 2012. Her lawyer said that his request for Al-Khawaja to be released on bail was rejected. He described her arrest as unfounded and has no justification whatsoever.

On 10 Dec 2012, the lower criminal court has sentenced Al-Khawaja to one month imprisonment in addition to a 100 Bahraini dinars fine in order to suspend the sentence, on charges of participating in an un-notified demonstration and entering restricted zone (Pearl Roundabout) on 12 Feb 2012. (See background here: http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5048)

Although the area is guarded by security forces and members from the Bahraini army since 16 March 2011, there is no official declaration, neither issued nor published, that declares the area as a “restricted zone”.

The human rights defender has been arrested several times during this year and there are more than 13 simultaneous cases against her. She spent around 4 months collectively in prison and she is sentenced to another 4 months which are suspended pending an appeal while she continue to face new charges. This month only, in addition to the above mentioned case about entering the area of Pearl roundabout, Al-Khawaja stood for trial on the cases outlined below, which could be resulted in more prison sentences:

1. Insulting a public official while she was in detention before the Lower Criminal Court: Pleading on 12 December 2012, postponed to 6 Jan 2013.

2. Insulting a public official (Bahrain Defence Hospital): Acquitted, however, the office of the Public Prosecution appealed against acquittal. The case is solely based on witnesses of prosecution who had never showed up for the trial sessions although requested by the court. The next hearing will be held on the 26 Dec 2012.

3. Illegal gathering in AbuSaiba roundabout and inciting hatred against the regime: Verdict expected on 26 Dec 2012.

4. Disturbing traffic while protesting on the street (Bahrain Financial Harbour): Court postponed the case to 27 Dec 2012 for studying the case.

5. Illegal gathering and rioting (Al Aali Roundabout): she was sentenced to 3 months imprisonment and BD300 bail to suspend the sentence, pleading was on 11 Dec 2012, postponed to 5 Feb 2013 to summon the prosecution witnesses.

The GCHR and BCHR believes that charges against human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja are politically motivated, and that she is targeted merely for practicing her human rights work and the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression and assembly.

The GCHR and the BCHR call on the US administration as well as other governments that have influence in Bahrain including the UK government, the EU and the leading human rights organizations to:

1- Call for the immediate release of human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja as well as all other detained human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.

2- Increase the pressure on the Government of Bahrain to stop the on-going daily human rights violations as well as the escalated attacks against human rights defenders.

3- To put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

Beached sperm whale, humpback videos update


This is a video recorded at Noorderhaaks island near Texel, the Netherlands, about an attempt to save the beached humpback whale Johannes. The video is from 13 December. The whale died yesterday, 16 December. The video shows two lifeboats trying to move the whale to deeper water, after a fairway had been dug.

This video is about the dead sperm whale, which beached on the same island days after the humpback whale.

Dead sperm whale update: here.