Shrew and vole research on Texel island


This video says about itself:

Alien Invader: Greater White-toothed Shrew in Ireland

10 May 2009

This is the Greater White-toothed Shrew, an invasive alien species to Ireland.

It was first recorded in this country when skulls of this beast were found in regurgitated Barn Owl pellets in County Tipperary in the winter of 2007/2008. It is a native of the European Continent and North Africa. It has not yet been proven how this species came to be here, though it may have first arrived in 2001.

The arrival of this shrew is only the third accidental mammalian introduction event to Ireland in the last 60 years: Bank Voles from Germany came into Kerry in heavy equipment imported into the country by Siemens when they built the Ardnacrusha Hydroelectric power station on the River Shannon in the 1930s, though their presence was not noticed until August 1964; in 1951 commercial farming of American Mink began in Ireland and escaped animals managed to establish themselves in the wild. Both have used water-courses to spread across the country, and while the vole appears to have been a harmless introduction, the mink is a nuisance for fisheries and can be a problem for rare ground nesting waterbirds and people who keep poultry.

This toothy little fella was trapped for filming for a wildlife programme on invasive species in Ireland (broadcast on TG4 in late 2008). He was placed in this terrarium for filming purposes on the edge of the County Tipperary wood where he was trapped, and I slotted in beside the cameraman to take these shots, which admittedly are not great. The shrew was released immediately afterwards and no harm came to it.

Ecomare museum on Texel in the Netherlands reports today about small mammals research in the Krimbos woodland in the north of the island.

The greater white-toothed shrew was found there.

So were three vole species: tundra vole; bank vole; and field vole.

See also here.

Good kingfisher news from the Netherlands


This video from Ireland is called Kingfisher | The Secret Life of the Shannon.

This morning, Dutch kingfisher researcher Jelle Harder reported on the radio that this year, there are 39 kingfisher nests in the Gooi and Vecht river region. Last year, there were only 11 nests. The mild winter this year was favourable for the survival of kingfishers.

Saving reptiles and amphibians


This video from the USA is called What’s the difference between an amphibian and a reptile? Find out in this World Book Explains video.

From Wildlife Extra:

Zoos stave off extinction for many reptiles and amphibians

A frog that doesn’t croak, the largest living lizard, and a tortoise that can live up to 100 years are just some of the species staving off extinction thanks to the help of zoos, according to a new report.

The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), which promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums, has compiled a list of the top 10 reptiles and amphibians benefitting from the aid of its members in the UK and Ireland.

Dr Andrew Marshall from BIAZA’s Field Programmes Committee co-ordinated the compilation of the list with input from conservation experts based at BIAZA collections.

He said: “Zoos are part of a global conservation community. Last year, BIAZA published a report on the top 10 mammals most reliant on zoos, which highlighted the work being done to help safeguard their future. This year, we have focused on 10 prevailing examples of reptiles and amphibians.

“The list includes some fantastic species, many of which are facing a dramatic decline and are in a desperate situation in the wild.”

Strict criteria were used for the list. All the reptiles and amphibians proposed had to be associated with current field initiatives by zoos and/or essential conservation breeding in zoos.

Particular importance was given to initiatives which included a management role in the species’ conservation, rather than just providing funds. Priority was also given to species listed as threatened on the international IUCN Red List of threatened species.

“The top 10 list demonstrates the importance of zoos and aquariums not only for conservation breeding of safety-net populations, but also for their contribution to funding and management of conservation projects in the field,” said Dr Marshall, “including research, education and support for local communities, as well as protection of crucial wildlife habitats.”

TV presenter and naturalist, Nick Baker, who is supporting the top 10 campaign this year said: “Zoos and aquariums have a very important role in this whole thing … at the scariest level they are the Ark. They are where the insurance populations of these animals can be looked after and understood and studied.

“As much as BIAZA is very important in holding the Ark population, it is also very important in being that interface between these animals and the public.

“The problem with these animals is they are not furry, they do not have an instant appeal to the masses. As a consequence they can be forgotten.

“The reality is, when the zoos show them to the world they are reaching people and spreading that word and getting people to appreciate what these animals are about.”

BIAZA’s top 10 reptiles and amphibians most reliant on zoos are:

Axolotl – this Critically Endangered amphibian retains a tadpole-like appearance even as an adult and has the extraordinary ability to regenerate limbs, but it is vulnerable to water-quality changes and is Critically Endangered mainly due to high levels of pollution in its last remaining stronghold in Mexico.

This video is called Axolotl salamanders continue to intrigue researchers.

Golden mantella – These Critically Endangered frogs don’t croak! Instead males attract females by a series of clicking noises. This bright yellow frog is known for attempting to eat anything that can fit in their mouth, even if the taste is repulsive.

This video is called Golden mantella chorus.

Komodo dragon – there are fewer than 1,000 left in the wild, living on a small island off Indonesia. They are the largest living lizard with males growing up to 3m in length and weighing up to 90kg.

This video is called Massive Lizards : Documentary on Giant Komodo Dragons.

Lemur leaf frog – Due to massive habitat loss and the effects of chytrid fungus, this species’ range and its population has declined by over 80 per cent in recent years. An adult lemur frog is only 3cm to 4cm long, it could fit on the end of your finger.

This video from England is called Andrew Gray, Curator of Herpetology at Manchester Museum talking about Lemur Leaf Frog conservation.

Morelet’s leaf frog – these striking lime-green frogs with a pink or orange underbelly are rapidly disappearing as their forest habitat is destroyed. They have incredible jet-black eyes with no discernable iris, and wide webbing between their toes which allows them to parachute between trees.

This video is called Morelet’s Tree Frog.

Mountain chicken – One of the largest frogs in the world, this Critically Endangered species came by the name because it is commonly hunted for food on the islands of Dominica and Monserrat in the Caribbean. Despite its name, it lives mainly in the lowlands.

This video is called Mountain Chicken.

Orange-tailed skink – These beautiful and highly endangered skinks were discovered on Flat Island in Mauritius in 1995 where they were being preyed upon by non-native introductions such as the Indian musk shrew. The species would now be extinct if it weren’t for the help of zoos.

Ploughshare tortoise – one of the rarest land tortoises in the world and a most sought after reptile in the illegal pet trade. This Critically Endangered tortoise is endemic to Madagascar and can live up to 100 years.

This video is called Ploughshare Tortoises, Madagascar.

Round island boa – the only snake in its genus, found only on one small island off Mauritius, where it is suffereing from loss of habitat. It is one of the very few snake species that can change its colour over a 24-hour period, being darker during the day and lighter at night.

This video is called Round Island Boa.

Sand lizard – although common in other parts of the world, this is one of the UK’s rarest lizards, protected here by law, as it is in most of Europe. It is restricted to sand dunes and lowland heaths in southern England.

This video is called Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) – Life on the tree – Animalia Kingdom Show.

Bahrain human rights activist’s years in jail for tweets


This video says about itself:

8 May 2012

In the fourth episode of The World Tomorrow Julian Assange speaks with two leading Arab revolutionaries in the middle of conflict, Alaa Abd El-Fattah from Egypt and Nabeel Rajab from Bahrain. Alaa Abd El-Fattah is a long time Egyptian blogger, programmer and political activist. His parents were human rights campaigners under Anwar Sadat; his sister Mona Seif became a Twitter star during the 2011 Egyptian revolution, and is a founder of the No Military Trials for Civilians group formed under the post-Mubarak military junta.

El-Fattah was imprisoned for 45 days in 2006 for protesting under the Mubarak regime, and released after “Free Alaa” solidarity protests in Egypt and around the world. In 2011, from abroad, El-Fattah helped route around Mubarak’s internet blockade.

Nabeel Rajab is a lifelong Bahraini activist and critic of the Al Khalifa regime. A member of a staunch pro-regime family, Rajab has agitated for reform in Bahrain since his return from university in 1988. Along with the Bahraini-Danish human rights defender Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, he helped establish the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights in 2002. Rajab is reasonably new to the limelight — becoming a face for the Bahrain uprising of February 14 2011, after the sit-in at Pearl Roundabout.

Since then, he has been a public face for the revolution, waging a social media war on Twitter with PR companies working for the regime. After al-Khawaja was imprisoned, he led protests for his release. He has endured beatings, arrests and legal harrassment for engaging in pro-democracy demonstrations. On Saturday 5th of May, he was arrested at Manama airport , and charged the next day with encouraging and engaging in “illegal protests.” Nabeel Rajab remains in detention at the time of broadcast.

From the Irish Times:

Bahrain human rights activist spent two years in jail for tweets

Nabeel Rajab urges Ireland ‘to fight for democracy around the world’

Erin McGuire

Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 01:00

A Bahraini human rights activist who spent two years in prison for using Twitter to call for peaceful protests has urged Irish people to “fight for democracy around the world”.

Speaking yesterday in Dublin, Nabeel Rajab said the human rights situation in Bahrain was deteriorating, with increasing numbers of people being jailed or forced into hiding.

Rajab was released from prison in May after serving two years of a three-year term. He was arrested several times for his involvement in pro-democracy protests during the 2011 Arab Spring. All of his arrests were related to tweets criticising the government or encouraging people to demonstrate.

During the Arab Spring, activists in Bahrain were required by law to ask for permission to protest. Protests in the capital Manama have since been banned.

Social media use

Rajab, who is president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and co-founder of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, is known for using social media in his human rights work.

He has 234,000 Twitter followers, more than anyone else in Bahrain, a country smaller than Co Dublin with a population of 1.3 million. “The government hates [my social media presence] because of the influence I have. When they put me in jail they thought the Twitter account would stop, but it continued – my Facebook and Twitter accounts kept working.”

The Bahraini government’s violent crackdown on protesters motivated him to transfer his contracting business to his family. “When I realised I would be targeted and could get killed, I transferred everything to my family, my wife . . . I’m a fighter for human rights. Fears about my personal life were not an issue. I was prepared for anything.”

Many of his friends were also arrested during the Arab Spr- ing. He estimates 50,000 people were in and out of Bahraini jails in the past three years.

While in prison, he was isolated from other political prisoners and kept in a cell with people who spoke different languages so he could not communicate with them.

Rajab is on a two-day visit to Dublin as a guest of Front Line Defenders, a non-governmental organisation that protects human rights defenders. He is briefing Government officials and rights organisations on the clampdown in Bahrain.

Rajab believes there are similarities between Bahrain and Ireland in their shared struggles for democracy, justice and equality. “You were ruled by the British; we are ruled by a family who invaded the country 200 years ago and treated the indigenous population badly. [The government] marginalised people, put them in jail.”

He says that because Ireland achieved democracy, the Irish people “have an obligation to fight for democracy around the world . . . and to play a more active role in human rights struggles in the Middle East”.

This is especially important to Rajab now, as he believes the situation in Bahrain has deteriorated. “There are more people in jail, in exile, in hiding. There are more human rights violations. The Shia people are being marginalised more . . . The government’s efforts to contain the media have been successful.”

Rajab will return to Bahrain even though he does not feel safe there. He plans to dedicate the rest of his life to human rights work, despite the fact it could land him back in jail.

“Prison made me much more determined. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to anyone else . . . I’m going to continue tweeting, raising human rights issues, empowering people and criticising dictators of repressive regimes. I don’t want to end up in jail, but I’m not afraid . . . The situation has to change and I’m willing to pay the price for those changes.”

US Rep Jim McGovern Issues Statement on Refusal of Bahraini Government to Grant Him Access to Bahrain: here.

Save Irish Rathlin island golden hares, petition


This video says about itself:

Rathlin’s Golden Hare, Ireland

22 June 2008

Join Wyllie O Hagan in an evening encounter with Ireland’s Award Winning Wildlife Photographer Tom Mc Donnell.

See Rathlin Island from a photographer’s viewpoint. You will have seen Rathlin Island‘s seals, puffins and bird sanctuary before. Here we share with Youtubers the first video recorded sighting of the Island’s famous “Golden Hare”. Wyllie O Hagan filmed this footage of the hare on Rathlin Island in May 2008.

It was an extraordinary event, and this is the inspiration for O Hagan’s next relief print which will accompany “The Wild Swans at Coole“.

See the artist make the print here.

From the 38 Degrees site, this petition:

Save Rathlin Island Hares

To: Minister Mark Durkan, DOE

Make Rathlin Island into a hare reserve and reintroduce special protection for hares in Northern Ireland.

Why is this important?

This is important because the hare is being hunted out of existence on Rathlin, with a shooter being brought in by local farmers – apparently hares eat too much grass and are considered a pest. This beautiful animal is an integral part of our wildlife and heritage. Rathlin used to be one of its strongholds in Northern Ireland and people still come from all over the world to see these animals, including the rare genetic variant – the Golden Hare. Surely these amazing animals have a right to survival on their island home, where we can enjoy them for years to come. Once they are gone, like in so many other places in Northern Ireland, they are gone. Please help us protect them before it’s too late.

Good Irish whale news again


This video is called Filming humpback whales off Ireland’s south coast with Cork Whale Watch.

From Wildlife Extra:

Whale numbers unusually high in the seas around Ireland to the delight of whalewatchers

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) reports upwards of 30 fin whales along a 50km stretch of the West Cork coastline in southern Ireland, between the Old Head of Kinsale and the Kedge area, which is unusual for this time of year.

Colin Barnes from Cork Whale Watch, who has spent several weeks observing the build-up of this activity confirms there are huge ‘fish clouds’ comprising small sprat or larval herring in the area and these are likely to be what is attracting the fin whales in such numbers.

Combined estimates from land and boat based sightings suggest there could also be 20 or more fin whales in the waters between Seven Heads and Galley Head, County Cork.

This gathering is certainly the largest validated aggregation of this species so far this year and although not without precedent, it is unusual for so many fin whales to be inshore this early in the season.

This sort of activity is generally associated with a later peak between October and December each year.

Whale watchers are encouraged by IDWG to view the whales from land-based vantage points – elevated sites such as Cloghna Head, Galley Head, Sandscove/Ardfield, Dunworley and Sevens Heads.

There is a lot of wind out there at the moment so it is important to pick a moment when there is a lull in the breeze and the sea calms down.

The bonus is that this activity is not in isolation, as County Kerry has enjoyed a run of humpback whales in recent weeks and minke whales are appearing in the Irish Sea.

All this bodes well for this year’s All-Ireland Whale Watch Day taking place on headlands around the coast on Sunday 24 August between 2:00pm and 5:00pm.

For the latest information on this and other validated cetacean sightings, go to www.iwdg.ie.