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.

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Lioness, wounded by buffalo, saved


This video from Kenya says about itself:

9 April 2014

Early on 4th April, a call was received from Governor’s Camp in the Maasai Mara about an injured lioness. She had a deep, open wound on her lower left flank, the result of an encounter with a buffalo.

The DSWT immediately launched its SkyVets Initiative; collecting a Kenya Wildlife Service Veterinarian and flying from Nairobi to the Mara. Once on the scene, the vet set about darting the lioness, whose wound was extensive.

In an operation that lasted 1 1/2 hrs, throughout which the rest of the pride were kept a safe distance, the vet thoroughly cleaned the wound before suturing it closed. Long lasting anti-biotic drugs were administered, as well as packing the wound with green clay, to speed the healing process. With that, Siena the lioness could rejoin the pride and her cubs.

Working together effectively and efficiently, the DSWT, KWS, Narok County Council and Governor’s Camp were able to help this lioness and with that, ensure the return of a mother to her cubs.

With Africa’s lions are under serious threat, with less than 35,000 remaining today, our ability to help this dominant pride member and her cubs is critically important.

Read the full account of the Siena’s treatment on our website, where you can also choose to support our SkyVets Initiative, here.

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Zebra escapes from five lions, video


This video says about itself:

Maasai Mara zebra escapes lion ambush

A pride of lions awaits a convenient meal as the striped animal leisurely crosses a river before it makes an amazing U-turn in the national reserve in Kenya

February 24, 2014 by David Strege

Maasai Mara zebra escapes lion ambush …

Along with its extraordinary population of lions, leopards, and cheetahs, the Maasai Mara National Reserve in southwest Kenya is known for the Great Migration of zebra, wildebeest, and Thomson’s gazelle to and from the Serengeti each year.

But one zebra recently found itself on a lonely journey as it leisurely crossed a wide river, not knowing what was awaiting its arrival on the other side. Watch what happens when the zebra finds out a welcoming party was anything but friendly:

The 100100Channel told GrindTV in an email that the video entitled “Zebra came to the wrong neighborhood” came from one of its company agents during a safari in The Mara but offered little other details, not that many more are needed.

The zebra was taking its time crossing the river. The camera pans back to reveal four lions hiding in the brush and another over-eager lion sneaking up close to the river behind a berm. The over-eager lion exposed its position too soon, sending the zebra on a hasty retreat back across the river from whence it came.

The zebra was actually lucky on two counts: It was lucky to avoid five hungry lions, and lucky that no crocodiles were nearby.

See also here.

Zebra stripes are striking and beautiful, but what purpose do they serve? Read more here.

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Prehistoric apes discovery in Kenya


This video says about itself:

1 Oct 2012

On Rusinga Island in Kenya‘s Lake Victoria, paleontologist Will Harcourt-Smith is leading an effort to recreate the environments inhabited by primitive primates—apes of the genus Proconsul. Studying the adaptive changes of our ancient ancestors helps scientists trace the origins of adaptability in modern humans.

Science Bulletins is a production of the National Center for Science Literacy, Education, and Technology (NCSLET), part of the Department of Education at the American Museum of Natural History.

From Science, Space & Robots:

Fossil Forest Discovery Sheds Light on Environment Inhabited by Early Apes

A fossil forest discovery by researchers from Baylor University and an international team of scientists has shed light on the environment inhabited by early apes on Rusinga Island, Kenya. Researchers found fossils of tree stumps, calcified roots and fossil leaves. Researchers say the fossil find indicates that Proconsul and its primate relative, Dendropithecus, lived in a dense, closed canopy tropical seasonal forest about 18 to 20 million years ago. The research was published here in Nature Communications.

Daniel Peppe, Ph.D., assistant professor of geology in Baylor’s College of Arts and Sciences and co-author of the study, says in a Baylor release, “Our research findings provide direct evidence and confirm where the early ape lived about 18 to 20 million years ago. We now know that Proconsul lived in a closed-canopy, tropical seasonal forest set in a warm and relatively wet local climate.”

Fossils of a single Proconsul were also found among the geological fossil forest deposits.

Lauren Michel, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in the geology department at Baylor, says, “The varying diameters of the tree stumps coupled with their density within the fossil soil, implies that the forest would have been comprised of trees with interlocking or overlapping branches, thus creating a canopy.”

Posted on February 27, 2014

Saudi Arabia deports journalist to Somalia


This video is called Ethiopian immigrants sleeping on the streets in Saudi Arabia.

From Dalsan Radio (Mogadishu, Somalia):

Somalia: A Saudi Journalist Origin From Somalia Deported to Mogadishu, an Exclusive Interview With Radio Dalsan

14 January 2014

A Saudi born journalist but original from Somalia, Omar Osman has been deported from Saudi Arabia to Somalia in regards of allegation- after he twittered a misappropriate thing against the Saudi kingdom.

The 33 year old Osman, who’s the writer of AL-YOOM newspaper in Saudi Arabia for quite six good years, is now suffering despondently.

This deportation comes last Friday after he has been in jail for three months. In an interview with RADIO ALSAN Omar says:

“For the last three months I have been in jail. Then last week the internal security minster communicated with me, and told me that I have been illegally operating in Saudi Arabia. With no valid documents.

The minister told me in order to find an evidence, regarding your accusation we have done further investigation in cooporation with our security agencies,- we therefore dare to deport you to Somalia. After that they transported me to the immigration sector in the airport”.

Although it is his first time in Somalia, we visited him at his hotel in Mogadishu. Omar seem to be different because of the new faces, he hardly speaking broken Somali language with mixture of Arabic words. He told us his historical background with a long conversation. Omar says:

“I have valid documents. I was born in Riyadh the city in Saudi Arabia. 33 years now, I studied there from my primary school up to university. All my siblings are living there, I don’t have any family in Somalia” Omar quoted sadly.

In efforts from his family in Saudi Arabia is appealing to the government in order to return Omar back home.

Omar studied engineering then joined school of journalism where he has been working with different media organization in Saudi Arabia for the last decade.

Kenya: The Controversial Repatriation of Somali Refugees From Kenya: here.

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Sunfish strands in Kenya


This video says about itself:

5 Oct 2012

National Geographic Explorer Tierney Thys, marine biologist and adventurer extraordinaire, is perhaps best known for her work tracking massive 10-foot long, 5,000-pound ocean sunfish, or mola, around the globe. Her research on giant mola has spanned over a decade, and this breezy Northern Californian gives no indication of slowing down anytime soon.

Not only is Tierney a champion for the ocean in the scientific world, but also in the world of theater and dance. Along with fellow ocean advocate, Sylvia Earle, the duo acted as lead science advisers for the performance Okeanos, a multidisciplinary portrait of ocean life through dance.

Tierney conveys an inspiring message of hope, even amidst seemingly constant bad news. “I see incredible hope in the eyes of our children,” says Tierney. She is currently working with National Geographic Student Expeditions to create a summer marine-biology expedition for high-schoolers in Belize.

Her work in the field, in classrooms, and on-line as the Daily Explorer in National Geographic’s Animal Jam, an interactive game for young explorers-in-training, makes Tierney one of our most well-rounded and well-respected Emerging Explorers.

From The Star daily in Kenya:

Kenya: Rare, Huge Fish Found Dead At Shores of Indian Ocean in Malindi

By Alphonce Gari, 3 December 2013

A rare species of fish has been found dead at the shores of Indian Ocean in Malindi Marine National Park. The fish on Sunday evening attracted hundreds of residents and tourists visiting the park.

The fish, which Kenya Wildlife Service officials said is an ocean sunfish, weighed more than 150 kilos with a width and height of five feet. Local fishermen said they have never seen such a fish species in their lives.

Its head resembled that of a dolphin and it swims sideways as opposed to other fish species found in the Indian Ocean. Kenya Wildlife Service senior warden at the park Felix Mwangangi told journalists that the fish was found at 6.30pm.

He said it could have been brought by high ocean currencies from the deep sea. “The ocean sunfish is normally found in the deep sea, it was brought to the shores by ocean currents and may have crashed in the reefs and died as the body had injuries,” Mwangangi said.

He said the fish is not dangerous and is among the most friendly species found in the sea. Mwangangi said it is also one of the biggest species of bone fish found in the ocean.

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British colonial history records destroyed


This video from Brritain says about itself:

Classified British Colonial papers made public

19 Apr 2012

The UK Foreign Office has made public the first batch of thousands of “lost” colonial era files which were believed to have been destroyed. The classified papers reveal instructions that sensitive material relating to potential abuses should be burned before handing over to local governments.

The “migrated” archives came to light in January last year after four elderly Kenyans brought a High Court case against the UK Government over the alleged torture of Kenyan Mau Mau rebels in British camps in the 1950s.

Edward Hampshire at the National Archives explained what kind of things were in the records.

David also revealed that the name of Barack Hussein Obama, father of the US President was also on a document relating to the named of Kenyan students who were studying in the US in 1959. In a strange twist of irony, the US government said, they believed Kenyan students to be anti-American and anti-white.

And if you are interested in seeing a part of history with your own eyes, then go to the National Archives at Kew to see 1,300 records displayed.

Written and Presented by Ann Salter

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Revealed: the bonfire of papers at the end of Empire

DG was a code word to indicate papers were for British officers of European descent only

Ian Cobain

Friday 29 November 2013

The full extent of the destruction of Britain’s colonial government records during the retreat from empire was disclosed on Thursday with the declassification of a small part of the Foreign Office’s vast secret archive.

Fifty-year-old documents that have finally been transferred to the National Archive show that bonfires were built behind diplomatic missions across the globe as the purge – codenamed Operation Legacy – accompanied the handover of each colony.

The declassified documents include copies of an instruction issued in 1961 by Iain Macleod, colonial secretary, that post-independence governments should not be handed any material that “might embarrass Her Majesty’s [the] government”, that could “embarrass members of the police, military forces, public servants or others eg police informers”, that might betray intelligence sources, or that might “be used unethically by ministers in the successor government”.

In Northern Rhodesia, colonial officials were issued with further orders to destroy “all papers which are likely to be interpreted, either reasonably or by malice, as indicating racial prejudice or religious bias on the part of Her Majesty’s government”.

Detailed instructions were issued over methods of destruction, in order to erase all evidence of the purge. When documents were burned, “the waste should be reduced to ash and the ashes broken up”, while any that were being dumped at sea must be “packed in weighted crates and dumped in very deep and current-free water at maximum practicable distance from the coast”.

Also among the documents declassified on Friday are “destruction certificates” sent to London by colonial officials as proof that they were performing their duties, and letters and memoranda that showed that some were struggling to complete their huge task before the colonies gained their independence. Officials in more than one colony warned London that they feared they would be “celebrating Independence Day with smoke”.

An elaborate and at times confusing classification system was introduced, in addition to the secret/top secret classifications, to protect papers that were to be destroyed or shipped to the UK. Officials were often granted or refused security clearance on the grounds of ethnicity.

Documents marked “Guard”, for example, could be disclosed to non-British officials as long as if they were from the “Old Commonwealth” – Australia, New Zealand, South Africa or Canada.

Those classified as “Watch”, and stamped with a red letter W, were to be removed from the country or destroyed. Steps were taken to ensure post-colonial governments would not learn that such files had ever existed, with one instruction stating: “The legacy files must leave no reference to watch material. Indeed, the very existence of the watch series, though it may be guessed at, should never be revealed.” Officials were warned to keep their W stamps locked away.

The marking “DG” was said to be an abbreviation of deputy governor, but in fact was a protective code word to indicate that papers so marked were for sight by “British officers of European descent only”.

As colonies passed into a transitional phase before full independence, with British civil servants working for local government ministers, an entire parallel series of documents marked Personal were created. “Personal” files could be seen only by British governors and their British aides, a system that appears to have been employed in every territory from which the British withdrew after 1961. “The existence of the ‘Personal’ series of correspondence must of course be scrupulously protected and no documents in this series should be transferred to ministers,” colonial officials were warned.

While thousands of files were returned to London during the process of decolonisation, it is now clear that countless numbers of documents were destroyed. “Emphasis is placed upon destruction,” colonial officials in Kenya were told.

Officials in Aden were told to start burning in 1966, a full 12 months before the eventual British withdrawal. “It may seem a bit early to start talking about the disposal of documents prior to independence, but the sifting of documents is a considerable task and you may like to start thinking about it now.”

As in many colonies, a three-man committee – comprising two senior administrators and one police special branch officer – decided what would be destroyed and what would be removed to London. The paucity of Aden documentation so far declassified may suggest that the committee decided that most files should be destroyed.

In Belize, colonial administrators officials told London in October 1962 that a visiting MI5 officer had decided that all sensitive files should be destroyed by fire: “In this he was assisted by the Royal Navy and several gallons of petrol.”

In British Guiana, a shortage of “British officers of European descent” resulted in the “hot and heavy” task falling to two secretaries, using a fire in an oil drum in the grounds of Government House. Eventually the army agreed to lend a hand.

The declassified papers show colonial officials asking for further advice about what should and should not be destroyed. In 1963, for example, an official in Malta asked London for advice about which files should be “spirited away out of the country”, and warned that while some documents could be handed over to the new government: “There may again be others which could be given to them if they were doctored first; and there may be files which cannot be given to them under any circumstances.”

In June 1966, Max Webber, the high commissioner in Brunei, asked Bernard Cheeseman, chief librarian at the Commonwealth Relations Office, for advice about 60 boxes of files. “My Dear Cheese,” he wrote, “can I, off my own bat, destroy some of these papers, or should the whole lot be sent home for weeding or retention in your records?”

Not all sensitive documents were destroyed. Large amounts were transferred to London, and held in Foreign Office archives. Colonial officials were told that crates of documents sent back to the UK by sea could be entrusted only to the “care of a British ship’s master on a British ship”.

For example, Robert Turner, the chief secretary of the British protectorate of North Borneo, wrote to the Colonial Office library in August 1963, a few weeks before independence, saying his subordinate’s monthly reports – “which would be unsuitable for the eyes of local ministers” – would be saved and sent to London, rather than destroyed. “I … have been prevailed upon to do so on the grounds that some at least of their contents may come in handy when some future Gibbon is doing research work for his ‘Decline and Fall of the British Empire’.”

Those papers that were returned to London were not open to historians, however. The declassified documents made available Friday at the National Archives at Kew, south-west London, are from a cache of 8,800 of colonial-era files that the Foreign Office held for decades, in breach of the 30-years rule of the Public Records Acts and in effect beyond the reach of the Freedom of Information Act. They were stored behind barbed-wire fences at Hanslope Park, Buckinghamshire, a government communications research centre north of London, a facility that it operates along with MI6 and MI5.

The Foreign Office was forced eventually to admit to the existence of the hidden files during high court proceedings brought by a group of elderly Kenyans who were suing the government over the mistreatment they suffered while imprisoned during the 1950s Mau Mau insurgency.

Even then, however, the Foreign Office failed to acknowledge that the 8,800 colonial files were just a small part of a secret archive of 1.2m files that it called the Special Collections, and which it had held unlawfully at Hanslope Park.

The Foreign Office is understood to have presented a plan to the National Archive earlier this month for the belated transfer of the Special Collections into the public domain. On Thursday it declined to disclose details of that plan.

The newly declassified documents show that the practice of destroying papers rather than allowing them to fall into the hands of post-independence governments pre-dated Macleod’s 1961 instructions.

A British colonial official in Malaya reported that in August 1957, for example, “five lorry loads of papers … were driven down to the naval base at Singapore, and destroyed in the Navy’s splendid incinerator there. The Army supplied the lorries (civilian type) and laid on Field Security Personnel to move the files. Considerable pains were nevertheless taken to carry out the operations discreetly, partly to avoid exacerbating relationships between the British government and those Malayans who might not have been so understanding … and partly to avoid comment by the press (who I understand greatly enjoyed themselves with the pall of smoke which hung over Delhi during the mass destruction of documents in 1947).”

A few years later, colonial officials in Kenya were urged not to follow the Malayan example: “It is better for too much, rather than too little, to be sent home – the wholesale destruction, as in Malaya, should not be repeated.”

• This article was amended on 29 November 2013 to replace part of a sentence that had been accidentally deleted during the editing process.

Good African black rhino news


This video is called Saving the Black Rhino.

From Fauna & Flora International:

East Africa’s largest black rhino population hits 100

Posted on: 28.11.13 (Last edited) 28th November 2013

The birth of Ol Pejeta Conservancy’s 100th black rhino offers new hope for a species on the brink.

On a continent where rhino populations have been plagued for decades by illegal wildlife trade, and where poaching is just as much a threat today as it was three decades ago, the birth of a new black rhino shows there is still hope for this Critically Endangered species.

October saw the arrival of Ol Pejeta Conservancy’s 100th black rhino, making the Kenyan sanctuary’s black rhino population the most important in East Africa for conservation.

The conservancy, located in Kenya’s Laikipia County, has steadily built up its black rhino population from 20 individuals in the 1990s to the 100 it protects today. Its internationally-recognised rhino conservation programme has received key financial and technical support from Fauna & Flora International (FFI) since 2006.

The new birth has led to Ol Pejeta’s black rhinos being designated as the first Key I population in East Africa – a rating given by the IUCN’s African Rhino Specialist Group to identify populations of continental importance and help guide donor funds towards the most effective conservation efforts.

FFI’s Africa Programme Director, Dr Rob Brett, said, “As the largest population of eastern black rhino and one of the seven largest black rhino populations in Africa, Ol Pejeta’s Key I population is now in the top ranking in terms of continental importance.”

Illegal poaching – a persistent beast in our midst

Black rhino populations in Africa have been decimated from approximately 100,000 to just 2,500 individuals as a result of poaching in the 1970s and 1980s. Kenya alone saw its black rhino numbers fall below 400 in the 1980s – less than 0.02% of the original population.

With rhino horn worth more than their weight in gold and the threat of poaching rising, even animals in the most secure sanctuaries aren’t exempt from this threat. So how can we ensure that this species survives extinction?

According to Dr Brett, the strategy is all in the numbers.

“Boosting population growth through good management is the best strategy to buffer the effects of illegal poaching,” he explains. “If you don’t allow populations to grow as fast as they can, you’re left with fewer rhinos than if you failed to protect them from poaching in the first place.”

Conservation game-changers

Kenyan conservancies like Ol Pejeta have helped change the game of black rhino conservation by setting up fenced, guarded sanctuaries that both protect and boost remaining populations. Today, Kenya is home to roughly 80% of Africa’s 800+ eastern black rhinos.

As Kenya’s Rhino Coordinator with the Kenya Wildlife Service in the early 1990s, Dr Brett was responsible for the original stocking of the Ol Pejeta rhino sanctuary with 20 black rhinos translocated from Nairobi National Park and Solio Ranch.

“It’s fantastic to see how the consistently high standards of protection and biological management maintained at Ol Pejeta Conservancy over two decades have resulted in this milestone for black rhinos in East Africa,” said Dr Brett. “We’re demonstrating that you can increase black rhino numbers against a background of serious threats.”

The new calf was first sighted on 1 October with its 12-year-old mother, Njeri, and is yet to be sexed or named. It’s the Conservancy’s 9th rhino birth this year.

Are we out of the woods?

Ol Pejeta’s eastern black rhinos belong to one of only three remaining subspecies of black rhino in Africa. A fourth subspecies, the western black rhino, was declared extinct by the IUCN in 2011.

Work by organisations such as Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service and FFI has helped to define a new narrative for black rhinos – one in which population growth overcomes losses from poaching. The key now will be ensuring that this trend continues to boost the species’ chances for survival.

Black rhinos are crucial components of East African savannah and woodland ecosystems, and hold enormous value for tourism industries like Kenya’s.

Although numbers have increased since the 1980s, there are still only around 5,500 black rhinos in the world. Ultimately, it is conservancies like Ol Pejeta – together with the conservationists, communities, tourists and donors who support them – that stand between this Critically Endangered species and extinction.

Written by Kristi Foster

New dolphin species discovery in Australia


This video is called First Film of Rare Humpback Dolphins with Bottlenose Dolphins in Watamu, Kenya.

From Wildlife Extra:

New dolphin species discovered

Scientists find that dolphin in Australian waters is a new species

October 2013: A new, fourth, species of a humpback dolphin has been identified in the waters off northern Australia says a team of researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the American Museum of Natural History. Humpback dolphins are named after a peculiar hump found just below the dorsal and live within river deltas, estuaries and coastal waters throughout the Indian, Pacific and eastern Atlantic oceans.

This wide geographic spread has led to the evolution of different species and till now scientists knew of three; the Atlantic humpback dolphin (Sousa teuszii) that lives in the eastern Atlantic off West Africa, the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa plumbea), which ranges from the central to the western Indian Ocean, another species of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) that inhabits the eastern Indian and western Pacific Oceans.

“This discovery helps our understanding of the evolutionary history of this group and informs conservation policies to help safeguard each of the species,” said Dr. Martin Mendez, assistant drector of WCS’s Latin America and the Caribbean Program and lead author of the study.

The humpback dolphin grows up to eight feet in length and ranges from dark grey to pink and/or white in colour. The Atlantic humpback is “Vulnerable” according to the IUCN Red List, whereas the Indo-Pacific species is listed as “Near Threatened.” Humpback dolphins are threatened by habitat loss and fishing activity.

“New information about distinct species across the entire range of humpback dolphins will increase the number of recognized species, and provides the needed scientific evidence for management decisions aimed at protecting their unique genetic diversity and associated important habitats,” said Dr. Howard Rosenbaum, Director of WCS’s Ocean Giants Program.