British ‘military advisers’ to Libya

This video from England says about itself:

26 Feb 2011

Speakers at the Stop The War march, ended in Downing Street, marched from Bahraini to Libyan embassy then together to Downing Street.

Amazing march, united and through central London chanting Free Libya Free Algeria Free Bahrain Free Algeria Free Yemen Free Palestine Free Afghanistan Free Iraq …

To a Free Middle East and Africa.

Libya: ‘mission creep’ claims as UK sends in military advisers: here. See also here. And here.

British military commander sent to Libya to organize troops. Mission creep, anyone? Here.

Hey, that reminds me of something.

The Vietnam war started for the USA with ‘military advisers’ as well. It continued with decades of war, over half a million United States ground troops, and fifty thousand US soldiers and three million Vietnamese dead.

France and Italy joined Britain’s increased interference in Libya’s civil war today by announcing that they would also send military advisers to aid the rebels: here.

As the bombing of Libya enters its fourth week, Italy is looking for ways to participate more actively in the war. As the former colonial power in Libya, Italy has substantial oil and gas interests that it seeks to defend against the predatory actions of rival powers: here.

Britain: It could be the onset of Easter, the good weather or just self-denial that prevents Parliament from being recalled to discuss Libya and the British role in yet another “Nato-led mission”: here.

This video from Ireland is called Clare Daly TD opposes imperialist intervention in Libya (24-03-11).

Cary Fraser, Truthout: “The recent decision by the Obama administration to spearhead the NATO effort to oust Muammar Qaddafi from power in Libya reflects the oft-evident American penchant for war as a substitute for intelligent diplomacy. It was this mindset during the George W. Bush administration which led the US into pursuing two expensive and indecisive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq”: here.


Poetry, music, and comedy

Apollo and the Muses, by Raphael

On 19 April, an evening of poetry, music, and comedy at the theatre.

At first, music by singer-songwriter Nicolaas, from Haarlem.

Poetry was by Frido Welker, an archaeology student. Some of his poems were about Rome.

Then, after the pause, a column by yours truly, on the Alphen massacre.

Stand-up comedy, mainly on health care, was by Mustafa Dönmez, a doctor by trade.

Finally, music was by Boys on the EdGe & the Girl.

Natterjack toad mating season video

This video, made 18 April 2011 in the coastal dunes in the Netherlands, is about the natterjack toad mating season.

A few people know that there is a “heaven” for frogs in Hanoi, Vietnam, where hundreds of amphibians of nearly 20 species are growing. That place is the amphibian research center in Co Nhue commune, Tu Liem district: here.

In forests, ponds, swamps, and other ecosystems around the world, amphibians are dying at rates never before observed. The reasons are many: habitat destruction, pollution from pesticides, climate change, invasive species, and the emergence of a deadly and infectious fungal disease. More than 200 species have gone silent, while scientists estimate one third of the more than 6,500 known species are at risk of extinction: here.

African lions really two species?

From Wildlife Extra:

African lions probably 2 distinct species

Lions in East and Southern Africa are larger, stronger and have bigger manes than their West African cousins.

Lions from west and central Africa have more in common with Asiatic lion

April 2011: There is a remarkable difference between the lions of west and central Africa compared to those in the east and south of the continent, according to new research.

The study suggests that lions from west and central Africa are genetically different from lions in east and southern Africa. The researchers analysed a region on the mitochondrial DNA of lions from across Africa and India, including sequences from extinct lions such as the Atlas lions in Morocco.

Surprisingly, lions from west and central Africa seemed to be more related to lions from the Asiatic subspecies than to their counterparts in east and southern Africa. Previous research has already suggested that lions in West and Central Africa are smaller in size and weight, have smaller manes, live in smaller groups, eat smaller prey and may also differ in the shape of their skull, compared to their counterparts in east and southern Africa. However, this research was not backed by conclusive scientific evidence. The present research findings show that the difference is also reflected in the genetic makeup of the lions.

The distinction between lions from the two areas of Africa can partially be explained by the location of natural structures that may form barriers for lion dispersal. These structures include the Central African rainforest and the Rift Valley, which stretches from Ethiopia to Tanzania and from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Mozambique.

Another aspect explaining the unique genetic position of the West and Central African lion is the climatological history of this part of the continent.

It is hypothesised that a local extinction occurred, following periods of severe drought 18,000-40,000 years ago. During this period, lions continuously ranged deep into Asia and it is likely that conditions in the Middle East were still sufficiently favourable to sustain lion populations. The data suggests that West and Central Africa was recolonised by lions from areas close to India, which explains the close genetic relationship between lions from these two areas.

West African lions highly endangered

There are thought to be about 1,700 lions left in West and Central Africa, which is less than ten per cent of the total estimated lion population in Africa. Numbers are still declining. They are under severe threat due to the fragmentation or even destruction of their natural savannah habitat, the depletion of prey and retaliatory killing by livestock owners.

African lions under threat from a growing predator: the American hunter: here.

May 2011. Conservationists have warned that Kenya’s lion population is in danger of becoming extinct within a few years if nothing is done to stem a wave of poisonings that have already left at least eight lions dead in recent weeks: here.

Kenya’s lions have been under threat, but a new scheme is saving lions and rewarding the Maasai: here.

Although lions are always filmed killing and eating antelope, zebra, warthog and buffalo, they are highly opportunistic and will kill and eat a wide range of species, especially when food is short, including rodents and any birds that they are able to catch. These young lions have managed to catch an unfortunate Maribou stork and they make very short work of the bird, squabbling between themselves over the ‘prize’: here.

Photographer Adri De Visser captured photos of the amazing sight when a lioness befriended a baby Uganda Kob after killing its mother. In the photo series, the lioness seemingly adopts the baby antelope, nuzzling it and picking it up by the scruff of its neck: here.

Fight for English rare insect habitat

This music video from Britain says about itself:

It’s that time of year again — turkey with sweet cranberry sauce, mouth-watering chocolate truffles, and a sprinkling of nutmeg on warming eggnog… and it’s all thanks to bugs. To celebrate the sheer wealth and variety of bug wildlife, Buglife has teamed up with the children from St Augustine’s School, Peterborough to produce a new version of the traditional Christmas song – welcome to the Twelve Bugs of Christmas!

From Wildlife Extra:

Judge orders National grid to stop spraying pesticide on insect rich habitat

Legal battle for bumblebee paradise

April 2011. Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust is fighting to protect a wildlife haven on the Isle of Grain in Kent from a huge National Grid warehouse development. This bug paradise is home to a variety of beautiful, rare and endangered insects including a large population of threatened bumblebee species.

The Isle of Grain supports an exceptional area of Open Mosaic Habitat providing lots of pollen and nectar rich flowers, bare ground ideal for burrowing and basking insects and pools for aquatic beetles and bugs – a similar habitat to West Thurrock Marshes, a key wildlife site that Buglife fought to save in 2008.

Isle of Grain

The Isle of Grain is home to an array of special plants, reptiles, bumblebees, hoverflies and beetles. Important bumblebees present include the Brown banded carder-bee (Bombus humilis) and Shrill carder-bee (Bombus sylvarum). Also living on the Open Mosaic Habitat are the White eye-stripe hoverfly (Paragus albifrons), which until recently was believed to be extinct, and Mellet’s downy-back beetle (Ophonus melletii), which is so rare that it has only been seen five times in the UK in the last 20 years.

Matt Shardlow, Buglife Chief Executive said ‘The Isle of Grain is likely to be one of the most important sites in Britain for rare and endangered invertebrates. This is a bug paradise and National Grid’s current plans to develop it into a huge business park and lorry depot would destroy it.’

National Grid spraying pesticides

National Grid has already sprayed large areas of the site with pesticides, justifying this as an attempt to eliminate Brown-tail moths. This has resulted in the loss of flowering plants and bushes used by pollinating insects such as bumblebees.

Judge orders a halt to pesticide use

Buglife have started a legal battle on behalf of the invertebrates inhabiting the site. In the first round of legal proceedings the judge agreed with Buglife that National Grid and Medway Council had failed to properly assess the impact on the wildlife of the site. The Judge concluded that National Grid must stop spraying the site with pesticides and allow the ecology to recover before undertaking further surveys to find out exactly how important the wildlife is. Despite the judge’s support of Buglife’s arguments he refused to allow Buglife to judicially review the planning permission.


Matt Shardlow responded ‘We are pleased that the judge recognised the ecological importance of National Grid’s land, and highlighted that the planning process has not properly considered its importance, but we are not convinced that the proposal to just do more ecological assessments will save the animals. Buglife is appealing this decision; that is the right thing to do for the bumblebees and to ensure that future generations of people will benefit from the bee’s diligent work pollinating flowers and crops’.

Dr. Ben Darvill, Director of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust said “The Thames Gateway is of national importance for rare bumblebees with populations hanging on in flower-rich pockets of habitat. The Isle of Grain is a very important site and if it is destroyed or degraded the whole population structure could collapse.”

Important site for rare invertebrates

The site is 164 hectares in total; over 100 hectares of important habitat for rare and endangered invertebrates will be destroyed or degraded by the development. The development has not been designed to avoid the most valuable areas open mosaic habitat.

The East Thames Corridor region currently supports one of the most important remaining metapopulations of the Brown banded carder-bee (Bombus humilis) and Shrill carder-bee (Bombus sylvarum) in the UK, but many sites are already lost or under direct threat of development. Bumblebee populations appear to operate at a landscape scale and it is probable that viable individual populations require minimum ranges of between ten to twenty km2 of good matrix habitat, including several large patches of flowers within these range areas. A thriving population of bumblebees will require dozens of active nests and tens of hectares of suitable habitat.

Mellet’s Downy-back beetle (Ophonus melletii) is a UKBAP priority species. This beetle has declined more than 50% over the last 25 years, and there have only been five records in the last 20 years, one of which was from Rochester (N Kent), finding this beetle on site is very significant.

White eye-stripe hoverfly (Paragus albifrons) is a very rare species. Hoverfly experts were poised to declare this species as extinct, but it is now known to survive on two brownfield sites in the Thames Gateway. The ecological requirements of this species are not fully understood.

If there is something banging into your window, making a loud whirring noise and generally blustering about like it has too much cider, it is probably a May bug, or Cockchafer beetle (or a teenager): here.

The world’s ants captured in 3D: here.

June 2011: The second phase of a reintroduction programme, aimed at increasing the population of one of the UK’s rarest insects, is now underway at a leading RSPB nature reserve. Since 2005, conservationists have been working towards extending the range of the pine hoverfly, the country’s most endangered hoverfly species: here.

Acrosathe annulata fly on Texel: here.

Asexual ants are actually having sex: study: here.