British Prince William’s sister-in-law eats whale meat


This video from Australia says about itself:

Swimming with Dwarf minke whales on board Eye to Eye Marine Encounters

From Wildlife Extra:

Pippa Middleton admits eating whale meat in newspaper column

Pippa Middleton has recieved criticism from conservationists across the world for eating whale meat on a trip to Norway, which she recounted in her column for the Daily Telegraph.

In the piece she said: ”We dined on smoked whale carpaccio (which tastes similar to smoked salmon but looks more like venison carpaccio).”

Despite strong international pressure and commercial whaling being banned since 1986 Norway is still one of three countries (the other two are Japan, and Iceland) that still allows whaling and in 2014 had a record year when more than 700 were killed.

“This is really disappointing news, particularly as Pippa is so high-profile, and given how active her brother-in-law, William [Duke of Cambridge], is on speaking out against poaching and wildlife crime. Commercial whale hunting is banned, the UK government backs the ban and for good reason. Killing whales is cruel, there is no humane way to kill them and many are slaughtered using brutal harpoon grenades. Last season, 731 minke whales suffered an agonising death at the hand of Norwegian whalers.”

Pippa does not say what type whale meat she ate but the most likely one is minke, the second smallest baleen whale.

Philip Mansbridge, UK Director of IFAW, said: “It’s likely that Pippa Middleton wasn’t aware of the horrific suffering caused by commercial whaling nor the devastating damage that it causes to whale populations.  By eating whale meat, she is unwittingly setting a bad example that may encourage other tourists to do likewise. We would hope she acknowledges her mistake and will promote whale watching true to the slogan: meet us, don’t eat us.”

From Celebitchy.com:

“Pippa is not known for common sense or compassion, but it still beggars belief that anyone, let alone someone from a country like ours, where whale meat has long been banned, could be oblivious to the uproar over Norway’s slaughter of these gentle giants,” Elisa Allen, associate director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals U.K., said Thursday in an exclusive statement to E! News. “Does she think or read? What’s next, a panda steak or an elephant canapé? These whales are harpooned and bled to death before they’re gutted. If Pippa is looking for a culinary experience, some of the best high-end vegan food—recently named by Forbes magazine as a top food trend—can be found in Norway, and it’s good for the heart, an organ Pippa seems to lack.”

Fukushima disaster kills birds


This video is called Japanese Wild Birds.

From Science World Report:

Bird Populations in Fukushima Plummet After Nuclear Disaster

Apil 16, 2015 11:46 AM EDT

Bird populations may have declined to a large extent in Japan’s Fukushima province due to the disaster that occurred there in 2011. Scientists have taken a closer look at bird populations and have found that since the March 11 earthquake, which caused the nuclear catastrophe, bird populations have plummeted.

“We were working with a relatively small range of background exposures in this study because we weren’t able to get into the ‘hottest’ areas that first summer after the disaster, and we were only able to get to some ‘medium-hot’ areas the following summer,” said Tim Mousseau, one of the researchers, in a news release. “So we had relatively little statistical power to detect those kinds of relationships, especially when you combine that with the fact that there are so few barn swallows left. We know that there were hundreds in a given area before the disaster, and just a couple of years later we’re only able to find a few dozen left. The declines have been really dramatic.”

The scientists also analyzed how the response of bird species differed between Fukushima and Chernobyl. One contrast was that migratory birds fared worse in the mutagenic landscape of Chernobyl than year-round residents, whereas the opposite was true for Fukushima.

“It suggests to us that what we’re seeing in Fukushima right now is primarily through the direct result of exposure to radiation that’s generating a toxic effect-because the residents are getting a bigger dose by being there longer, they’re more affected,” said Mousseau. “Whereas in Chernobyl, many generations later, the migrants are more affected, and one possibility is that this reflects differences in mutation accumulation.”

The findings are published in the Journal of Ornithology.

Russian gray whale Varvara, longest mammal migration


This video from the USa is called Gray Whale Migration.

From Treehugger.com:

Longest mammal migration ever recorded measures in at 14,000 miles

Melissa Breyer

April 16, 2015

And the remarkable journey is raising questions about the status of a critically endangered whale species.

In a study using satellite-monitored tags to track three western gray whales, a team of U.S. and Russian researchers recorded a stunning round-trip trek of 14,000 miles. The trio traveled from their primary feeding ground off of Sakhalin Island in Russia across the Pacific Ocean and down the west coast of California to Baja, Mexico and back home again.

One of the whales, dubbed Varvara by the scientists, visited the three major breeding areas for eastern gray whales, which are found off North America.

For a long time it was believed that western gray whales had gone extinct, but a small group was discovered in Russia off Sakhalin Island; they now number around 150 individuals and have been monitored by scientists from Russia and the U.S. since the 1990s. Meanwhile, populations of eastern gray whales were also in a tight spot, but conservation efforts have brought them back – today they are believed to have a population of some 18,000.

But here’s why Varvara’s visit to the eastern gray whales is interesting. Not all experts believe that the two species are in fact distinct, separate species. A number of scientists have proposed that western and eastern gray whale populations are not isolated and that the gray whales found in Russian waters are a part of an eastern population that is restoring its former range.

“The fact that endangered western gray whales have such a long range and interact with eastern gray whales was a surprise and leaves a lot of questions up in the air,” said Bruce Mate, director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University and lead author on the study. “Past studies have indicated genetic differentiation between the species, but this suggests we may need to take a closer look.”

“The ability of the whales to navigate across open water over tremendously long distances is impressive and suggests that some western gray whales might actually be eastern grays,” Mate said. “But that doesn’t mean that there may not be some true western gray whales remaining.

He adds, “If so, then the number of true western gray whales is even smaller than we previously thought.”

Does this spell doom for the western whales? Protecting them has proven challenging. Five western grays have perished in Japanese fishing nets within the last 10 years and their feeding grounds off Japan and Russia include fishing areas, shipping corridors, and oil and gas production – as well as future sites oil sites. But with this new research, hopefully fresh data and visibility will inspire some momentum in conservation efforts. With so few of these wandering giants left, and maybe even fewer than we thought, the time is now.

Malta poacher sentenced for killing northern lapwing


This is a video from the Netherlands about a northern lapwing and its chicks.

From the Times of Malta:

Thursday, April 16, 2015, 14:55 by Matthew Xuereb, Caroline Muscat

Hunter sentenced to three months in jail – ‘did not know’ that lapwing cannot be hunted in spring

Offender has pending case of attempted murder

Updated 6.08pm – Shaun Demicoli, 37 of Birzebbuga was sentenced to three months imprisonment and had his shotgun confiscated this afternoon after he admitted to shooting and injuring a lapwing bird early this morning. He also admitted breaching bail conditions imposed in 2011 and last year and relapsing. His pending cases include a charge of attempted murder of a Tunisian man.

Wearing a bus driver’s uniform, Mr Demicoli told the court that he did not know that that kind of bird could not be hunted in spring.

Mr Demicoli also had his hunter’s licence suspended for three years and was fined €200 for breaching the bail conditions. The court recommended that he should not lose his job, which he was given only recently.

He said he would appeal and walked out of court – the sentence only comes into force once the appeal is decided.

Lawyer Jason Grima was defence counsel.

The bird, which was handed to the police, was shot between Birzebbuga and Hal Far even though, in terms of Spring hunting rules, only turtle dove and quail can be legally hunted, in limited numbers.

The FKNK hunters’ federation said the offender was reported by other hunters. He is not one of its members.

It appealed to other associations to suspend him if he is their member, and said abuse will not be tolerated.

The incident followed another yesterday when Stefan Micallef, 43, of Naxxar, shot a protected cuckoo in Manikata. He was filmed by BirdLife volunteers hiding the bird under a bush after shooting it.

Mr Micallef told a court that he mistook the cuckoo for a Turtle dove, but was fined €2,500 and had his licence suspended for three and a half years. His shotgun and ammunition were confiscated. The sentence came with a stern warning from the court that protected species must not be shot.

Following the referendum, won by those in favour of the spring hunting season, the Prime Minister Muscat stressed on Sunday that illegal hunting would not be tolerated.

The incident yesterday was followed by a backlash on social media calling on Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to keep his word with #josephzommkellmtek and #closetheseason.

Earlier today, the Parliamentary Secretary for Animal Welfare, Roderick Galdes was asked to define what the prime minister meant when he said that the season would be closed if there was flagrant abuse.

He told the media there had to be major abuse such as happened last autumn when the season was closed.

ST HUBERT HUNTERS: IGNORANCE BY THE PERPETRATOR

Kaccaturi San Ubertu (KSU) in a statement said it commended the immediate action taken by the authorities in apprehending and sentencing the persons responsible of shooting protected birds.

“Today’s incident, where a protected bird was shot, exemplifies ignorance on the part of the perpetrator being unaware that spring hunting is only practiced on turtle dove and quail. It also highlights an ambiguity in our gun licensing system where a person with a criminal record involving aggression of a police officer and a pending case of attempted murder is allowed a gun licence.”

Birds singing in England


This video from Britain says about itself:

Getting to grips with warblers 4: Whitethroat Vs Lesser Whitethroat

In the fourth of our series of videos aimed at helping with the tricky task of identifying warblers, we take a look at Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat. BirdTrack reports show that May is a good time to catch up with them. So it’s a good time to brush up on the songs and ID features of these two common species.

By Graeme Lyons, in Sussex, England, on Twitter today:

Cetti’s Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat all singing at Woods Mill right now!

Mediterranean gulls in the Netherlands


This video shows a Mediterranean gull in summer plumage, with black-headed gulls in winter plumage.

Translated from the Dutch SOVON ornithologists:

Friday, April 17th, 2015

On Wednesday, April 15th large numbers of Mediterranean gulls flocked into our country. Counter Bert van Broekhoven even recorded a new national record from the counting site near Terneuzen: 238 Mediterranean gulls flying along. With its distinctive mewing cry and clear white wings this striking gull is conquering our country rapidly. Since the establishment of this species in the 80s of the last century it has increased exponentially.

Birds still killed in Malta


This 2014 video is called Malta – Massacre on Migration (Episode 1).

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Friday 17th April 2015

PETER FROST is outraged that year in and year out millions of migratory birds fly over Malta where they are killed by the thousands to satisfy a primitive bloodlust.

Each spring millions of birds fly north across the Mediterranean Sea on their way to Britain and the rest of Europe after wintering in Africa.

The popular holiday island of Malta lies on one of these key bird-migration routes and every spring thousands of Maltese hunters point their guns skyward and blast these birds of passage out of the sky.

The hunters claim their targets are the traditional quarry of turtle doves and quail but in fact anything with feathers is considered fair game. Thousands of local hunters arrive in trucks with banners and slogans such as “If it flies it dies.”

Over the last three years nearly eighty species of bird, including 17 species of birds of prey, have been recorded shot illegally by these Maltese hunters. Thousands of protected species, including birds of prey or herons, are persecuted each year.

Of these 80 species there were four species of very serious global conservation concern. They are Audouin’s gull, pallid harrier, red-footed falcon and lesser kestrel. The latter is considered under threat of total worldwide extinction.

Another 40 species are of European conservation concern, including greater flamingo, crane, kingfisher and lesser spotted eagle. The spring bloodlust also slaughters owls, swifts, swallows, martins, cuckoos and nightingales.

Far from showing any guilt Maltese hunters have recently requested that the islands’ government further defy international bird protection laws and the European Court of Justice by permitting the spring shooting of quail and turtle dove in even larger numbers.

The spring hunting of quail and turtle doves is illegal all across Europe but the Maltese government allows hunters to ignore the ban under special agreements with the European courts. They claim the slaughter is a long established cultural tradition.

Last week a special referendum in Malta narrowly rejected a proposed ban on the slaughter. The result was very close with just 2,220 more votes deciding against the ban out of a total of over a quarter of a million votes cast. Malta’s population is just over half a million.

Hunters scored 50.4 per cent of the vote mostly thanks to a strong showing from the island of Gozo, perhaps the most pro-hunting part of Malta. So the hunting goes on and thousands of birds will die this spring in Malta.

Against this background of wild-bird slaughter in Malta let me introduce Karmenu Vella. This 64-year-old politician is a long-serving member of Malta’s government, which has overseen and approved the widespread slaughter of birdlife on the island — including many endangered species.

Amazingly Vella took up last November his new job European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

Vella being put in charge of the European commission’s environment portfolio, which has specific responsibility for birdlife and its habitats, has horrified green groups, campaigners and wildlife protection organisations. It certainly terrifies me.

Many feel that Vella’s appointment is part of the newly elected commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s plan to weaken the powers of Europe’s environment directorate and that Vella has been selected specifically to implement these changes.

Other parts of Europe also have their illegal bird hunting too although tighter legislation and more enlightened environmental thinking have reduced, and are reducing, its impact.

As well as Malta hunters in parts of Spain and much of Italy still shoot and kill protected birds.

One of the worst offenders is Cyprus where around 10 million songbirds a year are shot, netted or limed to make a traditional Cypriot dish. The birds are often either pickled or poached for an island delicacy called ambekopoulia.

The dish is expensive and illegal. It can still be found in many traditional restaurants. One restaurant owner with ambelopoulia on his menu explains its popularity by likening it to Viagra.