Young elephants playing, video


This video says about itself:

96 Elephants: An Earth Day Moment of Zen

22 April 2014

Happy Earth Day!

We’re grateful to all our supporters for helping to make the planet safe for wildlife. Here’s our extra special thank you that is sure to melt your heart: 96 seconds of baby elephants playing and frolicking.

This video is pure joy, but sadly the problems facing these magnificent creatures are downright heartbreaking. Check out this video, then head over to 96elephants.org to find out more about what you can do to save them.

Special Thanks to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Mpala Research Centre & Conservancy for arranging filming.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Hummingbirds and tanagers in Costa Rica


Brown violet-ear, 20 March 2014

In the morning of 20 March 2014 at Arenal observatory in Costa Rica, there were not only woodpeckers and bananaquits, but also, like at many other places in Costa Rica, hummingbirds. Eg, this brown violet-ear.

Brown violet-ear flying, 20 March 2014

Scaly-breasted hummingbird, 20 March 2014

And scaly-breasted hummingbirds.

Palm tanager, 20 March 2014

Also, a palm tanager.

Brown jay, 20 March 2014

The feeders attracted brown jays as well.

Two laughing falcons flying past.

A white-throated thrush.

A buff-throated saltator.

A sulphur-bellied flycatcher.

A male green honeycreeper.

Bay-headed tanager, 20 March 2014

A bay-headed tanager.

Golden-hooded tanager, 20 March 2014

And a golden-hooded tanager.

A black-striped sparrow.

A social flycatcher.

It stops raining. We walk around.

Garden emerald female, 20 March 2014

A garden emerald hummingbird sitting on a bush; then, flying.

A yellow-bellied elenia.

A house wren on the ground.

A variable seedeater.

A chestnut-sided warbler. And a fellow migrant from North America: a Tennessee warbler.

A black-cowled oriole.

A great kiskadee.

A white-necked jacobin hummingbird.

After that small bird, a bigger one: a keel-billed toucan; the second biggest toucan species of Costa Rica.

A hepatic tanager.

A grey-capped flycatcher.

Leaf-mimicking praying mantis, 20 March 2014

As we go back, a special insect: a leaf-mimicking praying mantis. Very probably, the genus Choeradodis. Probably, the species Choeradodis rhomboidea.

Lake Arenal, 20 March 2014

White-collared swifts flying above the lake. Though this is a big species for a swift, they were still too small and too far away to show on the photo.

A turkey vulture flying.

Rufous-tailed hummingbird, 20 March 2014

We started this blog post with a hummingbird. And now we finish it with another one: a rufous-tailed hummingbird.

Stay tuned, as there will be more about Costa Rica on 20 March 2014.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Japanese government party honours war criminals again


This video says about itself:

European right-wing politicians worship Japanese war criminals in Yasukuni Shrine

AFP – European right-wing politicians, including French National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, visited a controversial war shrine in Tokyo on Saturday ahead of the anniversary of Japan’s surrender.

The shrine, which honours 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 top war criminals from World War II, has often been regarded as a symbol of Japan’s wartime aggression.

“It doesn’t bother me to honour veteran soldiers of a former enemy,” 82-year old Le Pen, who will retire in January 2011 after the party elects his successor, said Thursday. …

The ‘election’ turned out to be that Jean-Marie appointed his daughter Marine Le Pen as his successor.

The European politicians arrived in Tokyo earlier this week at the invitation of Japan’s Issui-kai movement, which organised a two-day conference to discuss the future of nationalist groups.

Among other participants were Adam Walker, the British National Party‘s number two, and other representatives from far-right parties of Austria, Portugal, Spain, Hungary, Romania and Belgium.

From AFP news agency:

Japanese lawmakers visit Yasukuni war shrine on eve of Obama trip

By Agence France-Presse

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 9:04 EDT

Nearly 150 Japanese lawmakers on Tuesday paid homage at the Yasukuni shrine which honours the nation’s war dead, raising the stakes in an already tense region on the eve of US President Barack Obama’s visit.

A cross-section of parliamentarians — including at least one cabinet minister — paid their respects at the shrine, which honours those who have fought for Japan including a number of senior military and political figures convicted of war crimes.

China and South Korea see the shrine as a symbol of what they say is Japan’s unwillingness to repent for its aggressive warring last century. The United States tries to discourage visits, which it views as unnecessary provocation.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry said it “deplored” the mass visit as the shrine is a “place that enshrined war crimes that caused a war and destroyed peace.”

“I think it is such an empty gesture to talk about the future with neighbouring countries while paying respects to such a place,” ministry spokesman Cho Tai-Young said.

Japan’s conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stayed away from Yasukuni, having offered a symbolic gift on Monday at the start of the three-day spring festival.

However, the right-leaning minister for internal affairs and communications, Yoshitaka Shindo, was among the worshippers early Tuesday, paying his second visit in 10 days.

Shindo’s grandfather was General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, the figure sympathetically depicted by actor Ken Watanabe in Clint Eastwood’s “Letters from Iwo Jima”.

The mass visit will inevitably further aggravate strained ties in East Asia, and could irritate the White House, coming the day before Obama arrives on the first leg of a four-nation trip which also includes South Korea.

Washington would desperately like Japan and South Korea — its two chief allies in the region — to bury the diplomatic hatchet and stand together against Beijing’s increasingly confident regional swagger and against unpredictable Pyongyang.

‘Like Arlington’

Abe’s own visit to the shrine on December 26 soon after a trip to Tokyo by US Vice President Joe Biden immediately sparked fury in Asia and earned him a slap on the wrist from Washington, which said it was “disappointed”.

The Japanese premier’s gift on Monday provoked a Chinese charge that he was offering “a slap in the face” to Obama.

Conservative lawmakers make regular trips to the shrine during spring and autumn festivals, and on the August 15 anniversary of Japan’s World War II defeat.

They compare the site with Arlington National Cemetery in the US, where America’s war dead are honoured.

“Speaking personally, my father is enshrined here,” said Hidehisa Otsuji, an upper-house lawmaker who was at Yasukuni.

“The souls revered here are the people who lost their lives purely for the sake of the country.”

About 160 lawmakers visited the shrine during the spring and autumn festivals last year.

Sanae Takaichi, the policy chief of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, who went to the shrine as a member of the group, said politicians’ display of reverence should not provoke diplomatic difficulties.

“It happens to be the time for the spring festival,” she told reporters. “We welcome the US president’s visit to Japan from the heart.”

Others paying their respects at the shrine were some vice ministers and a special adviser for Abe, Seiichi Eto.

Chief Cabinet Secretary and Abe’s righthand man Yoshihide Suga said the administration would not interfere with shrine visits by members of the government.

“When a minister visits the shrine personally, it is a matter of an individual’s freedom of faith. The government should not step into it,” he said.

Justin Bieber apologises for visiting Yasukuni Shrine in Japan: Site at centre of international row honours convicted WWII war criminals: here.

Just days before US President Obama’s arrival today in Tokyo, the Japanese government provocatively announced the establishment of a new radar base on the southwestern island of Yonaguni—a move calculated to further raise tensions with China: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saudi prince kills 2,100 vulnerable houbara bustards in Pakistan


This video is called MacQueen’s Bustard on a mating dance.

Note: the article below here mentions “houbara bustards“. Meanwhile, biologists consider the MacQueen’s bustards of Pakistan and elsewhere in Asia, as a species, separate from the African houbara bustard. BirdLife still sees the two species as one species; which it considers Vulnerable.

From Dawn daily in Pakistan:

Arab royal hunts down 2,100 houbara bustards in three week safari

KARACHI: A Saudi prince has poached over 2,100 internationally protected houbara bustards in 21-day hunting safari in Chagai, Balochistan, during which the royal also indulged in illegal hunting in protected areas, says a report.

The report titled ‘Visit of Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud regarding hunting of houbara bustard’ prepared by Jaffar Baloch, divisional forest officer of the Balochistan forest and wildlife department, Chagai at Dalbandin, says the prince hunted for 21 days – from Jan 11, 2014 to Jan 31– and hunted 1,977 birds, while other members of his party hunted an additional 123 birds, bringing the total bustard toll to 2,100, sources said.

They said that hunting of the internationally protected bird was banned in Pakistan also, but the federal government issued special permits to Gulf states’ royals.

Permits, which are person specific and could not be used by anyone else, allow the holders to hunt up to 100 houbara bustards in 10 days in the area allocated, excluding reserved and protected areas.

The report dated Feb 4, 2014 (No: 216-219 HB/CHI) says that during the 21-day safari the prince hunted the birds for 15 days in the reserved and protected areas, poached birds in other areas for six days and took rest for two days.

Giving a breakup of date-wise as well as area-wise details of the prince’s expedition, the report says that he hunted 112 houbara bustards in the Gut game sanctuary (Arbe pat) which is a reserved and protected area on Jan 11, 2014.

Also read: Houbara bustard butchery | An eulogy for 2,100 bustards

The next two days on Jan 12 and 13th he hunted 116 and 93 birds in the Gut game sanctuary (Sai Rek) which is also a reserved and protected area. Then for the next two days Prince Fahd, who is also governor of Tabuk, visited Sato Gut and hunted 82 and 80 houbaras on Jan 14 and 15, respectively. On Jan 16, he visited Gut-i-Barooth and hunted 79 houbaras. Both these areas are not protected areas, says the report.

For the next six days the Saudi royal camped in the Koh-i-Sultan state forest, which is a reserved and protected area, and hunted 93, 82, 94, 97, 96 and 120 houbara bustards on Jan 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22, respectively.

On Jan 23 and 24, he continued his hunting spree in the Gut game sanctuary (Dam), which is a reserved as well as protected area, and hunted 116 and 197 houbara bustards, respectively.

The prince carried out hunting of the protected bird in Thalo Station and hunted 89 houbara bustards on Jan 25 and spent the next two days hunting the birds in Pul Choto, killing 34 and 89 birds on Jan 26 and 27, respectively. Both of these areas are neither reserved nor protected, says the report.

The remaining four days, Prince Fahd spent in the Gut game sanctuary, a reserved as well as protected area, and hunted 92, 94, 119 and 97 birds on Jan 28, 29, 30, and 31, respectively. The royal guest took rest on Feb 1 and 2 at the Bar Tagzai base camp after bringing the grand total of his trophies to 1,977.

The report says: “123 birds were hunted by local representatives and other labourers of the hunting party. The total bustards hunted by Prince Fahd bin Abdul Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud are 1,977 and total bustards hunted by local representatives and other labourers are 123 bringing the grand total to 2100”.

See also here. And here.

This reminds me of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco’s butchery of partridges.

Enhanced by Zemanta

New humpback dolphin sanctuary in Taiwan


This video says about itself:

First Film of Rare Humpback Dolphins with Bottlenose Dolphins in Watamu, Kenya

Thanks to Alex Simpson who edited the original footage with dolphin research photos to produce this video. Watamu Marine Association c/o Lynne Elson took this first ever footage of rare and elusive humpback dolphins on 10th April 2012. This family pod of 6-7 were associating with a pod of Bottlenose dolphins more commonly seen in Watamu Marine Reserve.

From Wildlife Extra:

Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin sanctuary set up in Taiwan

A dwindling population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins will be protected with the creation of Taiwan’s first marine wildlife sanctuary. Dolphin numbers have dropped by around 50 per cent according to local conservation groups, because of habitat degradation, industrial expansion and pollution.

Tsai Chia-yang, head of the Chuanghua Environmental Protection Union, said: “Indo-Pacific dolphin population is a key index to measure the health of the maritime environment.”

The Council of Agriculture confirmed the sanctuary, which will be off the west coast of the country, will cover a large area of 76,300 hectare (188,461 acres).

Normal fishing in the area will be unaffected, as the government said a total ban was not feasible as the success of the sanctuary depends on the cooperation of local fishermen, but guidelines have been tightened for operators in the region and there will be tough punishments for illegal fishing of the endangered species. Dredge fishing has also been banned.

In a further step, officials announced that any development projects in the area will require government approval.

Anyone caught poaching the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin could face up to two years in jail and will be fined Tw$500,000 (US$16,530), and anyone caught seriously damaging the habitat could end up with a five years’ prison sentence.

“Illegal fishing has seriously ruined the coastal ecological environment, threatening the endangered dolphins,” said Kuan, referring to the fact that the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins eat mullet among other fish.

In 2011, President Ma Ying-jeou ruled an end to a controversial plan to build a massive oil refinery and more than 20 related petrochemical plants in western Taiwan. This was in reaction to a series of protests for the endangered humpback dolphins.

He said there was a need for Taiwan to balance economic development with environmental protection. The setting up of this sanctuary for Indo-pacific humpback dolphins is a big step forward for the species.

Enhanced by Zemanta