Kurds don’t want ‘Free Syrian Army’ in Kobani


This video from Turkey is called Protest: Turkey helps ISIS, STOP Turkish Army support for ISIS terrorist group.

Translated from ANP news agency in the Netherlands:

October 24, 2014 14:06

The Kurdish fighters of the PYD in Kobani deny that there is an agreement on the arrival of 1300 troops of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to the Syrian border.

A leader of the fighters on Friday denied words to that effect from the Turkish president Tayyip Recep Erdogan earlier in the day.

The Kurds in Kobani fight against the Islamic State (ISIS). The PYD leader also reported that it might be better if the FSA instead of going to Kobani would instead open a second front against ISIS.

The ‘Free Syrian Army’ are hardly less sectarian Sunni anti-Kurdish fundamentalists than ISIS or the ‘official’ Al Qaeda in Syria called Al Nusra. As a rule, the FSA have pretty good relations with Al Nusra. It would indeed be much better, if the ‘moderate’ FSA, instead of selling their prisoners like Steven Sotloff to ISIS for beheading, would start fighting ISIS somewhere away from Kobani. It would also be better if they would no longer commit cannibalism, like happened before.

According to Erdogan there were already talks about the route that the FSA troops supposedly would follow to go to Kobani.

Apparently, Mr Erdogan wanted to ram a fait accompli down the Syrian Kurds‘ throats. He wants to subject them to the FSA; the FSA, in its turn, being largely subject to the Turkish secret police. Earlier, the Turkish government had demanded that the Syrian Kurds should subject themselves to the FSA; which they have refused.

Solidarity with Kobani in Zaandam, the Netherlands: here.

Old and new natural history books


Alexander Reeuwijk, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

This photo shows author Alexander Reeuwijk behind a table with old natural history books in Naturalis museum in Leiden, the Netherlands. Like the other photos of this blog post, this is a cellphone photograph, of 19 October 2014.

On that day, as this blog already noted, Remco Daalder, Amsterdam city ecologist, was awarded the Jan Wolkers Prize. This prize is named after famous Dutch artist and author Jan Wolkers. Natural history was one of his subjects. The Jan Wolkers Prize is for the best natural history book of the year in the Netherlands. Remco Daalder’s book is about swifts.

Remco Daalder’s book had been nominated for the prize shortlist along with four other books. One of them was Alexander Reeuwijk’s book about nineteenth century British naturalist and evolution theorist Alfred Russel Wallace and his travels in Indonesia.

The three other nominations were for Mathijs Deen, for a book on the Wadden Sea region; Bibi Dumon Tak for her children’s book on common animals; and various authors for a book on Planken Wambuis nature reserve.

Back to Alexander Reeuwijk. He presented his ten favourite natural history books from the Naturalis collections. These books were from the sixteenth till the twentieth centuries.

Pierre Belon's book, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

The oldest of Alexander’s ten books was from 1553. It was by Pierre Belon from France, about fish. Belon is often seen as the first ichthyologist. In Belon‘s time, fishes were not differentiated from aquatic mammals, aquatic invertebrates, etc. The book discussed over a 100 species for the first time ever.

The copy in Leiden is of De aquatilibus; the Latin translation of the French original.

Pierre Belon's book on sharks, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

The book contains many woodcut pictures, including of hammerheads and other sharks.

Alexander Reeuwijk’s next book was from five years later, from 1558. It was by Conrad Gessner from Switzerland.

Lobster, in Gessner's book, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

Gessner’s Historiae animalium was the first attempt to describe all the animals known. Including the lobster pictured here on a woodcut in the book.

Lobster, watercolour, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

The original watercolour depiction of the lobster, used for the woodcut, is also present in Naturalis.

Mark Catesby, parrots, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

The next book was based on two books, originally in English. Mark Catesby died in 1749. He wrote Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, published 1729-1747. George Edwards wrote A Natural History of Uncommon Birds, published 1743-1764. Catesby’s and Edwards’ books contain many pictures of birds considered as ‘exotic’ by eighteenth century Europeans, like parrots in North America and the Caribbean.

Mark Catesby's and Edwards' Dutch translation, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

Catesby’s and Edwards’ books were translated into Dutch by M. Houttuyn, and published as Verzameling uitlandsche en zeldzaame vogelen in 1772-1781.

Spotted sandpiper, Naturalis, 19 October 2014

This picture in the Dutch translation depicts, below, a spotted sandpiper from the Americas.

Alexander’s fourth book was Nederlandsche Vogelen, about Dutch birds, by Nozeman and Sepp, published in various volumes 1770-1829.

Book number five was Histoire Naturelle des plus Rares Curiosoitez de la Mer des Indes. By Louis Renard, about marine life in Indonesia. The Leiden copy was published in 1782, after the author’s death.

Next, a book about plants in the Netherlands: the Flora Batava. Jan Kops wrote the first volume, published in 1800.

Then, Histoire naturelle générale des pigeons et des gallinacés (1808). Written by Coenraad Temminck; about pigeons. With pictures by Pauline de Courcelles Knip.

Mauritius blue pigeon

One of Ms de Courcelles Knip’s pictures for the book shows a Mauritius blue pigeon; now extinct.

The next book was about kingfishers. It was A monograph of the Alcedinidae: or, family of kingfishers, 1868-1871, by Richard Bowdler Sharpe. John Keulemans made the pictures.

Then, a book from the USA, by Sherman Foote Denton. It was As Nature Shows Them : Moths and Butterflies of the United States, East of the Rocky Mountains; from 1898.

Finally, another book on birds in the Netherlands: Ornithologia Neerlandica, de vogels van Nederland, 1922-1935. Eduard Daniel van Oort wrote it. Marinus Koekkoek painted the pictures.

South African environmentalist wins award


This video is called BirdLife South Africa‘s Important Bird Areas.

From BirdLife:

BirdLife South Africa’s Dr Ross Wanless wins Environmentalist of the Year award

By Martin Fowlie, Fri, 24/10/2014 – 11:15

Dr Ross Wanless, from BirdLife South Africa’s Seabird Conservation Programme and the BirdLife Marine Programme, has been awarded the prestigious SAB Environmentalist of the Year Award.

Dr Wanless has overseen a number of impressive conservation achievements over the past six years at BirdLife South Africa, building on a career of seabird science and conservation work that started in 1997.

The SAB award recognises not just a lot of hard work over many years, but an individual who has been instrumental in delivering significant, lasting conservation outcomes. Very few conservation programmes can actually demonstrate tangible benefits for species they seek to conserve. It is still more exceptional for a programme to bring benefits to a suite of threatened species.

BirdLife South Africa’s extraordinary work through the BirdLife Marine Programme to prevent the extinction of albatrosses and petrels is one such example. Under the leadership of Dr Ross Wanless, the programme has used science, advocacy, persistence and win-win solutions to turn the tide against fisheries impacts on iconic seabirds. Earlier this year his team announced that their efforts in the South African hake trawl fishery had caused a reduction in seabird mortality of up to 90%. Dr Wanless is currently in South Korea, running a workshop with the Korean tuna longline fleet to assist that fleet to adopt best practice measures for avoiding accidental seabird catches.

Dr Wanless has recreated the African Seabird Group and oversaw a successful bid for the group to host the second World Seabird Conference, to be in Cape Town in October next year; he is chair of the local organising committee and sits on the World Seabird Unions’ conference executive committee. He also created and oversees the annual Celebrate Our Seas festival which kicked off in the beginning of October as part of National Marine Week. He maintains strong links to the University of Cape Town, and is currently supervising a Masters and a PhD student.

“It’s a real honour to receive this sort of recognition, but I do need to acknowledge that I have an amazing team at BirdLife South Africa, and this award is theirs as much as mine”, said Dr Wanless.

Find out more about the BirdLife Marine Programme.

Saving hen harriers in Britain


This video from Britain is called Hen Harrier Facing Extinction; BBC Inside Out.

From Wildlife Extra:

RSPB take action to protect Hen Harriers

Hen Harriers continue to be under threat in the UK

In a European Union-supported project, the RSPB are working toward creating a safe and sustainable future for the endangered Hen Harrier in the UK.

The organisation’s five-year programme, named the Hen Harrier Life+ Project, will focus on direct conservation action as well as community engagement and raising awareness among the public about the plight of the bird of prey.

The project will focus on seven sites in northern England, and southern and eastern Scotland that have been designated as Hen Harrier nesting sites under the European Union Birds Directive.

These are areas where the birds frequently come into conflict with humans. In northern England, and in southern, central and eastern Scotland where land is managed for Red Grouse hunting, Hen Harriers are frequently shot in spite of being legally protected.

Their persecution by humans is a long-running story, and in 1900 the birds became extinct on the British mainland. Although they have been making a comeback in the British Isles, their population still has a long road to recovery.

Between 2004 and 2010, the National Hen Harrier Survey recorded an 18 per cent decline in the UK Hen Harrier population. By 2013 the birds had experienced their worst breeding season in England for decades, failing to rear chicks anywhere in the country. But in 2014 things began to look up for the birds in Britain; at the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project, 46 young fledged from 12 nests. However the birds fared less well in England where there were four Hen Harrier nests, but due to natural deaths and unexplained disappearances of three birds that were satellite-tagged, only nine of the 16 chicks that fledged are thought to still be alive.

Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project will be working with landowners and the shooting community to raise awareness about the birds in order to ensure their future. It will also link up with and support the work of PAWS Raptor Group ‘Heads Up for Hen Harriers’ project, which includes the Scottish Government, Scottish Natural Heritage, and conservation and landowning interests.

Blánaid Denman, Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project manager, explains: “The project is not about RSPB fixing things on our own but about bringing together a whole conservation community, from organisations to individuals, working together to secure a future for hen harriers in our uplands.”

As well as working with volunteers and other organisations in order to actively monitor the birds in the wild, the project is also working with gamekeeping students, professional gamekeepers, and landowners.

Defra, the RSPB and other stakeholders are currently working on drafting an emergency recovery plan for Hen Harriers in England. Although the final plan is still to be agreed, the initial draft received widespread support from the shooting community.