Hard times for animals in Iraq

In the video from the USA

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert speaks on war, race issues, and the erosion of basic rights.

Like in Afghanistan … from Inter Press Service:

Iraq: Animals Too Struggle For Survival

By Ali al-Fadhily & Dahr Jamail

06 June, 2008

FALLUJAH – Amidst the huge and growing death toll, it has been easy to forget that animals, in their own way, are finding it hard to survive in Iraq.

Like human beings, animals find it very hard to stay alive now,” Dr. Sammy Hashim, a veterinarian who lives and works west of Baghdad, between Fallujah and the capital city, told IPS. “Naturally, no one cares for the poor animals when nobody seems to care even for human beings under the occupation.”

Dr. Hashim said animals cannot get basic needs. “Good drinking water, good feed, vet care and medicines are all unavailable in Iraq since the U.S. occupation of the country began in the spring of 2003. When we complain to the government, they laugh at us, saying humans are first priority.”

Farmers seem to have lost hope for the future of their animals. “We treat animals like our own children,” Hamdiya Alwan, 50-year-old widow of a farmer in the Abu Ghraib area of western Baghdad told IPS. “We were brought up to treat animals in the best way possible, but now it is getting very hard.

“It costs a lot to keep a cow or a few sheep with prices of feed so high, and agriculture in such bad shape. Of the six cows and 30 heads of sheep that we had before my husband was killed in 2004, I only have one cow and four heads of sheep now.”

Chicken farm owners have their own agonies. “It was good business, and a real support during the times of the sanctions (the UN-imposed economic sanctions on Iraq 1990-2003),” Hajji Jassim from the Saqlawiya area near Fallujah, 60 km west of Baghdad told IPS. “The support (subsidies) we got from our legitimate (previous) government was reflected in the prices of chicken meat.”

Jassim added, “Now it is impossible to work, with no electricity and no support whatsoever. This situation simply finished our business, and the government seems not to care at all for such a great loss.”

Some political leaders see this too, as a part of a plan to ruin the Iraqi economy. “The U.S. occupation has destroyed everything in Iraq, and this is part of the comprehensive plan of destruction,” a member of the al-Anbar provincial council in Fallujah, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the environment of fear, told IPS.

“The Americans could have continued the support to farmers given by the former regime to keep our farming industry running, but they deliberately stopped all kinds of support in order to destroy it, just like they did with our army and all the good things we had.” …

In her book ‘The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism‘, Canadian journalist and author Naomi Klein wrote that the U.S. followed up its ‘shock and awe’ bombing campaign with “shock therapy — mass privatisation, complete free trade, a 15 percent flat tax, a dramatically downsized government.” This policy has taken its toll on farms and the livestock business.

Signalling worse to come, the ministry of water resources announced May 22 that the country is suffering from water shortages that could lead to widespread drought.


Jerusalem’s golden butterfly, a new species

Melitaea phoebe telona, the old name

From Wildlife Extra:

New butterfly species declared in Israel.

Jerusalem Fritillary named.

June 2008. The beautiful orange-golden nymphalide was first discovered a hundred years ago, in 1908, by the German entomologist Fruhstorfer who classified it as a subspecies named telona.

However scientific research conducted in recent years demonstrated that this butterfly is actually a distinct species and not a subspecies as previously thought. Israel’s Environmental Protection Minister declared the new name chosen for the butterfly during the 25th anniversary of the Israeli Lepidopterists Society: Jerusalem’s Golden Butterfly.

The minister reiterated the Environmental Protection’s Ministry’s commitment to biodiversity conservation: “Israel is located on a crossroads between three continents and is characterized by different climatic zones. It contains some 113 species of butterflies, despite its small size,” said the minister. “The fast development and use of land threaten at least a quarter of these species of butterflies.”

Rope bridge helps Australian wildlife cross dangerous road

This video from Australia is called Ring-tail Possum In Tree Fern.

From Big News Network, from Australia:

Wild animals use rope bridge to safety

IANS Friday 6th June, 2008

A 70-metre rope bridge strung across a busy highway in Victoria is helping locals cross over safely – only the locals in this case are wild animals.

Yes, researchers have reported that endangered local species have indeed started using what has been dubbed the world’s first “wildlife rope-bridge”, thus avoiding accidents that were killing and maiming many.

“We have early proof that our native animals are regularly crossing the rope bridge over the Hume Highway near Benalla and many other animals are investigating the bridge,” said Rodney van der Ree of the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology (Arcue).

“Native animals have acclimatised to the 70-metre bridge and are using it to cross the highway to find food, shelter and mates,” van der Ree was quoted as saying in a statement.

Since June last year, researchers have observed 50 crossings of ringtail possums and almost as many partial crossings, seven partial crossings of brushtail possums and four partial crossings by squirrel gliders.

Van der Ree said the results for the squirrel glider are particularly encouraging as they are faced with the threat of extinction in the provinces of Victoria and New South Wales.

“The animal moves by gliding from tree to tree so where there are large gaps in tree cover, such as roads, it is unable to cross,” said van der Ree.

Relying on specially installed cameras at both ends of the rope-bridge which record the time and date on each photograph, the researchers established which animals were making an attempt and which are making it all the way across the bridge.

“We have also gathered information on other species, for which the rope bridge wasn’t originally intended, such as cockatoos, magpies and ravens, the occasional gecko, and large spiders, so this is a bonus,” said Kylie Soanes of the University of Melbourne.

See also, more extensively, here.

The rope construction differs from nature bridges elsewhere, like in Crailo in the Netherlands. The basic idea is the same, however.

Guardian resources about animals: here.

Nature bridges in the Netherlands: here. And here.

Hope for survival as isolated orangutans joined by rope bridge: here.

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