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.

Good African wildlife news


This video says about itself:

An elephant gives birth during our trip to Amboseli National Park in Kenya and in the half hour we are allowed to observe tries to coax the newborn to his feet.

From Wildlife Extra:

Amboseli is on the road to recovery

Census shows wildlife is making a strong recovery on Kenya-Tanzania border

October 2013: Numbers of elephants and other large mammals in Amboseli National Park on the Kenya-Tanzania border are recovering from the devestating drought that occurred here between 2008 and 2010, results from the first census since the disaster shows.

Kenya Wildlife Service and Tanzania wildlife authorities conduct both a wet and a dry aerial census every three years in the Amboseli West Kilimanjaro and Magadi Natron cross border landscape. This year’s counts showed that numbers have increased by 12 percent during the dry season, from 1,065 in 2010 to 1,193 in 2013; while during the wet season there was an increase of 35 percent, from 1,420 in 2010 to 1,930 in 2013.

The census aims to establish wildlife population, trends and distribution, and enhance knowledge on the relation between wildlife, habitat and human impacts. The information gathered from the census will be used to improve wildlife security and human-wildlife conflicts, and advise communities on developing community conservancies and ecotourism projects in key areas.

The census was a collaboration between the two countries and their agencies; the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), Wildlife Division of Tanzania (WD) Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA).

KWS Director William Kiprono, said: “Amboseli is one of our success stories and we owe it to the local community, which has warded off possible poachers.”

October 2013. Efforts to conserve Kenya’s dwindling population of rhinos have been significantly boosted by WWF Kenya which handed over 1000 microchips and five scanners to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS): here.

More African countries join migratory birds campaign


This video is called White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) – birds greeting in the nest – Spring Alive.

From BirdLife:

New African countries join Spring Alive initiative

Tue, Aug 27, 2013

Three new African countries namely Kenya, Rwanda and Zambia have joined the Spring Alive initiative for the 2013 season which duly commences on the 1st of September, 2013. These latest additions therefore increase the total number of African countries participating in the initiative from eight in 2012 to eleven in 2013. This remarkable achievement is in furtherance of BirdLife Africa’s vision of expanding the programme into many Africa countries and also increasing the constituency of young people engaged in activities that promote bird awareness and conservation in general.

As part of the initiative, individual country web pages have been created for each new country on the international Spring Alive website- www.springalive.net. Therefore children, youth, teachers and bird lovers in Kenya, Rwanda and Zambia will now be able to gain access to a host of education materials that center on the five flagship species under the initiative. More so, children in these countries can also observe and record the arrival of the five flagship species each year on their home country web pages and participate in the Spring Alive drawing competition for Africa.

Furthermore, opportunities also exist for schools /clubs in Africa to build strong linkages or networks with their European counterparts under the Spring Twins component of the initiative. In all, it is expected that by joining the initiative children and bird lovers in all these countries will have the opportunity to experience spring in a very unique way through the host of activities available under the initiative and consequently enhance their interest and love for birds and nature in general.

The Spring Alive is an international project organised by BirdLife International, designed to promote children’s interest in nature and its conservation by highlighting the arrival of spring. The core component of Spring Alive is a mass-participation website that is implemented in all partner countries. Citizens, but specifically children and families, are encouraged to observe and record the arrival of 5 migratory bird species each year: White Stork, Barn Swallow, Common Swift, Common Cuckoo and Eurasian Bee-eater.

The campaign is also financially supported by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB; BirdLife in the UK).

By Callistus Agbaam, Project Officer- Wildlife Clubs of Africa Project (Phase II)

Good African elephant news


This video says about itself:

July 23, 2013

In this video produced by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), we hear from IFAW President and CEO, Azzedine Downes on the creation of the Kitenden Elephant Corridor in Kenya. On July 17, 2013, IFAW and the local Maasai community in Amboseli signed a lease agreement to create the corridor that effectively [extends] the National Park by 16,000 acres giving elephants space to roam free and safe.

Wildlife Extra writes about this:

About 1,400 elephants live in the Amboseli ecosystem, and routinely move into the ranch area, particularly during the rainy season occasioning human/elephant conflict in the area.

The Kitenden Corridor which runs from Amboseli to Mount Kilimanjaro will ensure that a favoured route that elephants have used for millennia to move across the Tanzanian border is secured from habitat fragmentation and potential conflicts with local communities.

The OOGR [Olguluilui/Ololarashi Group Ranch], and five other adjoining group ranches, are the first community in Kenya that has agreed to an ecosystem management plan between Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) and Maasai community group ranches that surround the park.

Plans are underway to transform the Kitenden Corridor into an operational conservancy.

African flamingo news


This video says about itself:

Sep 29, 2011

Flamingos, Cape Buffalo, Marabou Storks, Ibis and Pelicans around the shore of Lake Nakuru, a moderately alkaline lake in the Rift Valley, Kenya East Africa.

From Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam):

Tanzania: Report a Bird, Dead or Alive, With a Ring On Its Foot

By Anne Outerwater, 23 June 2013

Flamingos are mostly confined to brackish and soda lakes of the East African Rift Valley. Sometimes Greater Flamingos come to the coast and can often be seen from the Selander Bridge in Dar es Salaam.

But according to Zimmerman, Turner, and Pearson’s “Birds of Kenya and northern Tanzania” conditions suitable for breeding are found only in a few places.

Lesser Flamingos breed almost exclusively at Lake Natron in Tanzania and occasionally at Lakes Magadi and Logipi in Kenya. Greater Flamingos are not even mentioned as breeding at Lake Magadi but are found breeding in Lakes Elmenteita and Natron.

Lake Magadi in Kenya is a harsh environment. It is an alkaline lake 80% covered by soda. Water temperatures often rise above 45C and only one species of fish can live there, a cichlid. In 1962 no living person could be found who remembered seeing flamingoes breeding at Lake Magadi for at least the previous 50 years.

In the history of the Magadi Soda Company nobody had seen flamingos breeding there. Suddenly in July 1962 millions of flamingos showed up. They built platform nests rising out of shallow alkaline water with dry chips of crystalline soda. By early September 90% of the eggs had hatched, about 850,000 chicks.

The newly hatched chicks were covered with silky grey down, had swollen red legs, a short straight red beak and beady black eyes. If they fell off the nest mound during the first day it was difficult for them to climb back up because their legs were not strong enough.

The parents would then brood the chick on the flats. By the second day their legs had strengthened and they could usually climb back up to the nest to comparative safety. About a week after they hatched the young started to gather in groups which stayed under the shade provided by standing adults.

As time passed the young gathered into larger and larger groups watched over by fewer and fewer adults. After two weeks, several thousands of still downy chicks were under the supervision of about a dozen adults. At this point the greatest danger for them became apparent.

The alkaline water was supersaturated. As the chicks walked through it, the soda adhered to their legs and dried. After a few days about 100,000 of the chicks were carrying balls of soda the size of oranges on their legs. About half of them died.

Another 27,000 were saved from that fate when a small group of people from the East African Natural History Society saw the problem and took action by rescuing the chicks – catching them, tapping away the hard casement from around their ankles, and releasing them.

Official bird rings were placed on the legs of about 8000 Lesser Flamingos and 80 Greater Flamingoes – representing the overall ratio of breeding birds (10:1). For three months the parents brought the chicks food that they collected at night from Lake Natron.

It was estimated that 350,000-400,000 chicks finally flew away. By December they were gone from Lake Magadi. Very few of the rings have been recovered. A few rings from first year birds were found in Emgagai Crater Lake and Lake Magadi.

Ringed young were seen at Lake Magadi in the Ngorongoro Crater and another at Lake Nakuru. Then in July 1963 a ring was sent in from Sodere in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia, one thousand miles away. In 1997 a ringed Flamingo was recovered dead on the edge of the Western Sahara.

And five years ago a ring was recovered from Magadi which made the bird about 45 years old. Last week news came in to the Tanzania Bird Atlas from The Ringing Scheme of East Africa (run by East African Natural History Society) that a Lesser Flamingo was found freshly dead at Lake Baringo on 13th February this year. It was wearing a ring.

As reported, “The incredible thing about it is, that the ring was a BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) ring, one of those rings used for the Flamingo chicks which were born at Lake Magadi in 1962!! This bird was in fact ringed by Leslie Brown on 1st November 1962″ – meaning the bird had lived more than 50 years and 4 months.

The person who found the flamingo and reported the band is Nick Armour of Swavesey, England. Note: If anybody ever finds a dead bird with a ring on its leg contact the Tanzanian Bird Atlas or The Ringing Scheme of East Africa in Kenya.

Black Panthers against Greek nazis


After Black Panthers in the USA, and in Israel, now in Greece.

This video is called Greeks Protest Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party After MP Slaps Female Opponent During Live Debate.

From Channel 4 News in Greece:

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Standing up to Golden Dawn in Greece

The economic crisis in Greece has led to a rise in support for the far-right Golden Dawn and an increase in racist attacks. Jamal Osman talks to one man who is fighting back.

Michael Chege and his friends patrol their neighbourhood in Athens, Greece, most nights. After many encounters with the neo-Nazi group, Golden Dawn, they set up their own brigade, nicknamed the Black Panthers. They want to protect themselves from the fascists who are targeting people who are not ethnic Greeks.

Since the economic crisis tore Greece apart, people have been trying to find someone to blame. Some blame immigrants for the high unemployment and crime. Racist attacks against immigrants have been rising steadily. In the last year alone, more than 150 racist attacks were recorded by police, but most go unreported.

Greece is a gateway to Europe and many immigrants travel there as an entry point in the hope of reaching the richer nations on the continent.

Newly arrived immigrants, who do not speak the language or have proper documentation, live in fear. But Michael and his friends are taking on the extremists.

‘We will exterminate them’

“I’m not afraid of this neo-Nazi, stupid, idiotic group,” he told me. “In WW2, they were crushed. In WW3, we will exterminate them out of the face of the earth.

“I am a member of the Black Panthers and everybody knows that. So I am giving them (Golden Dawn) a straight warning – don’t mess with black people, anyhow. And I mean it.”

Members of the Black Panthers rescue each other if one is attacked. Using mobile phones with instant messaging and social media, their response is swift. “It has turned our lives better, at least in our neighbourhood,” Michael told me.

Michael arrived in Greece from Kenya at eight months. Although he has lived there for 28 years, he is treated as a new immigrant. Police stop him on a regular basis to check his identification papers. So he has to carry a bag full of documents to prove that he is legal in the country.

Racist, anti-semitic, violent - the true face of Golden Dawn - watch Konstantinos Georgousis' film.

For immigrants, the situation in Greece is worsening. They accuse the Greek police of harassment. I joined one of the many police patrols as they rounded up immigrants.

We came across drug users but the police did not bother to chase them after they ran away, but carried on arresting immigrants, which seemed a more important job than dealing with drug users. Thousands of immigrants are languishing in detention centres.

‘Get respect’

Growing up in Greece, as the only black child in his school, he had to fight every day to “get respect” from fellow pupils. He took up martial arts at the age of seven and has been doing it since then. That gave him the confidence to confront people like Golden Dawn members.

One of his latest encounters happened while he was on a bus in the city. Two men with “a neo-Nazi look” entered the bus. Some of the passengers were signalling to Michael, telling him to “leave, run or get down”, but he defied it. One of the techniques he learnt in his martial arts lessons was that “when you see a danger, you don’t wait, you go for it and push out”.

Although the fight inside the bus was “really hard”, Michael left the scene with minor injuries. He said: “It is not the first time and certainly not the last time … if you need respect, you must earn it”.

‘Cannibals’

A day later, on live television, he challenged the Golden Dawn leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, who thinks Africans are cannibals. In the television debate, Michaloliakos said: “The pygmies are boiled and eaten by other blacks in Africa … and they’re considered special too.”

But when Michael asked him whether he had ever been to Africa to witness that, the far-right leader replied: “No, I only read about it in newspapers, I know what I’ve read in newspapers.” Consequently, the Golden Dawn media wing made a video mocking Michael.

Michael says it is unfortunate to be a “stranger in your own land”. Greece, where he spent all his life, is the only place he knows. But as a father, it is no longer about him. He does not want his children to experience the same abuses he has. So he wants to raise them in Kenya, where they will not be treated as foreigners.

Over the last week, tensions have risen in the Greek government over draft legislation against racist incitement and state financing of the fascist party Golden Dawn. While the conservative main government party New Democracy (ND) refused to support the law, its coalition partners, the social democratic PASOK and the Democratic Left (DIMAR), are supporting it: here.

The president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), Ronald S. Lauder, today expressed disappointment with Greece for its continued failure to adopt new legislation to combat hate speech, racism and the denial of the Holocaust. “It is very worrying that the mainstream parties in Athens are apparently unable to find a compromise on this important matter. Hate mongers and extremists such as the leaders of Golden Dawn are not only a threat to minorities such as the Jews; they are a threat to democracy as a whole. Hence, they ought to be fought vigorously by all democratic forces, and with the full force of the law,” Lauder declared: here.

Amid growing political anger over a rising number of incidents involving Golden Dawn MPs and firearms, the police have said that the licences of politicians who hold gun permits will be reviewed: here.

The 2nd annual Thessaloniki pride this year will take place on June 14th – 15th. The Pride like last year is sponsored by the municipality of the city and the major Giannis Boutaris. Last year neo-nazis and Christian fundamentalists unsuccessfully tried to protest against the right of LGBT community to organize the pride in the city after a call of Thessaloniki Bishop Anthimos: here.

Worldwide conservation, crabs, apes, trees …


Land crab with eggs. Credit: Sam Weber

From Fauna & Flora International:

Flagship Species Fund supports eight conservation icons in 2013

Posted on: 22.04.13 (Last edited) 22nd April 2013

Fauna & Flora International’s Flagship Species Fund announces eight grants to be given to species conservation projects in 2013.

Flagship species are those iconic, charismatic species that capture public admiration and may be used as figureheads to promote broader conservation action.

The Flagship Species Fund is a partnership between Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the UK Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra). In 2013, the Fund will support the conservation of some of the most endangered, yet best loved, species as well as promoting new and emerging flagships for conservation.

The eight grants will cover a range of species (from mammals, reptiles and birds to invertebrates and plants), with projects working towards:

Last, but by no means least, the fund will be supporting the conservation of the land crab (Johngarthia lagostoma) on Ascension Island. The land crab’s relationship with the inhabitants of Ascension Island has come a long way since the first permanent settlements were made on the island in 1815, when a British naval garrison was built. The admiralty saw the crabs as pests and rewarded sailors from the garrison with rum for killing them.

Today, the crabs enjoy a much more favourable relationship with the islanders, with images of them appearing on postage stamps and guide books. However they still face severe threats as they are now locked in competition with introduced species including rats, mice and rabbits.

Land crab. Credit: Sam Weber

Land crab. Credit: Sam Weber

Mass spawning of thousands of land crabs only occurs at a few locations around the island, and on just a couple of nights each year. Dr Sam Weber, who will be leading the conservation efforts, remembers the first time he experienced this spectacle: “The bright orange of thousands of crabs moving over the black volcanic coastline is really striking and stopped me in my tracks. I particularly remember laughing at the little ‘hula dance’ they do as they release their eggs into an approaching wave. Now I can’t help wondering how much more impressive it would have looked at the time the first ships landed at Ascension and before species introductions and harvesting began.”

The Operation Land Crab team will be using the Flagship Species Fund grant to tag spawning crabs with coloured claw bands and microchips. This will allow the team to identify individual crabs in the future and study their migrations, growth rates and age.

Land crab. Credit: Sam Weber

Land crab. Credit: Sam Weber

FFI looks forward to following the progress of these interventions through the year, and wishes the project teams every success as they strive to conserve these iconic species.

Looking back- the rise of new icons for conservation

Since its establishment in 2001, the Flagship Species Fund has awarded 151 grants, which have in turn provided support for the conservation of 101 threatened species. This has included household names like the mountain gorilla, African elephant and hawksbill turtle.

But the Fund has also supported some little known, but engaging, species that have become new champions for the conservation of their habitats. These have included the cowboy frog, freshwater crayfish, Cebu cinnamon tree and Indian tarantula. The success of these projects proves that a species doesn’t need to be furry, act like a human, or be a candidate for a child’s cuddly toy, to enlist widespread interest and spearhead conservation action.

Through these projects, FFI has supported the work of 109 local NGOs or agencies, across 40 developing or transitional countries and five UK overseas territories.

In 2012, the Fund supported 11 locally developed and delivered projects, which resulted in meaningful change on the ground. These include:

  • Direct habitat management – 20,000 endemic hardwoods were planted in a re-greening agreement with villages in northern Sumatra
  • Association establishment and empowerment – around the Budongo Forest Reserve, Uganda, ex-hunters associations were established, which led to the willing surrender of 1,400 snares from ex-hunters
  • Awareness raising – through agro-theatre performances and poster display competitions in Tajikistan
  • Alternative livelihoods – The Lamu Marine Conservation Trust, working along the northern coast of Kenya, reported increased local revenue from turtle tourism and the reintroduction of 5,102 baby turtles to the sea

By supporting a wide range of species and approaches, FFI has continued to explore what makes a locally-powerful conservation symbol, and promoted the conservation of the world’s most iconic and threatened species.