Bring back the lynx, British people say


This video says about itself:

24 March 2014

With large tufted ears, a short tail and a trusting look, one could almost believe that lynxes are just big cats. In their hearts, however, they are wild and untamed. They are the tigers of Europe. This is the story of a hard earned friendship.

On the one side is Milos Majda, a quiet, nature loving ranger at the Mala Fatra national park in Slovakia. On the other side are two small lynxes, fresh from the zoo. With Milos’ help, it’s hoped the lynxes will return to the home of their ancestors in the forests of Mala Fatra in the heart of Slovakia. For two years Milos Majda and the biologist and animal filmmaker Tomas Hulik follow the journey of the lynx siblings from their warm nursery inside a cabin into the wilderness.

From Wildlife Extra:

British public vote in favour of lynx reintroduction

The majority of the British public would like to see the lynx back in the British countryside, a survey carried out by the Lynx UK Trust shows.

More than 9,000 people took part in the survey, with 91% supporting a trial reintroduction and 84% believing it should begin within the next 12 months.

Almost seven weeks ago the Lynx UK Trust, a team of international wildlife and conservation experts, announced their hopes to carry out a trial reintroduction of Eurasian lynx to the UK. Wiped out in the UK over 1,300 years ago by fur hunters, lynx have been successfully reintroduced across Europe, and the team hope that reintroduction here will provide a valuable natural control on the UK’s overpopulated deer species, leading to forest regeneration and a boost to the entire ecosystem.

“We’ve been blown away by the level of interest and support from the public.” comments chief scientific advisor to the project, Dr Paul O’Donoghue, “This is by far the biggest survey of its kind ever carried out in the UK, with almost five times the feedback of the original beaver reintroduction survey in Scotland which recorded an 86% approval rating. That led to government approval for the trial reintroduction, so we’re expecting to see a consistent response from Scottish Natural Heritage and hope for similar in England and Wales. The UK public have spoken; people overwhelmingly want these animals to be given the chance to come back and we’ve got an extremely capable team to deliver it.

“Lynx have proven themselves across Europe to be absolutely harmless to humans and of very little threat to livestock, whilst bringing huge benefit to rural economies and the natural ecology, including species like capercaillie which face some serious problems in the UK. It’s wonderful that the general public want to see lynx given the chance to do the same here.”

Encouragingly, over half of the people who filled in the survey were from rural communities, returning a level of support only 5-6% lower than urban communities, showing that this project has considerable support from people who live and work in the UK countryside.

Applications to Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage are expected to be completed by summer for sites in Norfolk, Cumbria, Northumberland and Aberdeenshire, with the Trust still evaluating potential release sites in Wales. Up to six lynx would be released at each site and closely monitored via satellite collars over a trial period likely to last for 3-5 years.

Chernobyl, Ukraine wildlife on camera traps


This video shows images from camera traps of wildlife in the zone around the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine. While on the one hand the nuclear radiation has killed and continues to make sick and to kill slowly many birds and other animals, on the other hand human activities disturbing wildlife have stopped, favouring some wildlife.

From Wildlife Extra:

Camera traps reveal Chernobyl’s wildlife

Camera traps set up in the Ukrainian side of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone reveal that the area is home to a rich diversity of wildlife, the BBC have reported.

The 42 cameras were installed in the exclusion zone by The Tree Project in November 2014.  In order to get a true picture the cameras are moved to new, randomly selected, locations at approximately 8 week intervals, which will mean by the end of 2015 the cameras will have been positioned at 84 locations.

TREE is one of three consortia funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Environment Agency (EA) and Radioactive Waste Management Limited (RWM) under the Radioactivity And The Environment (RATE) programme.

“The overall objective of the TREE project is to reduce uncertainty in estimating the risk to humans and wildlife associated with exposure to radioactivity and to reduce unnecessary conservatism in risk calculations,” explains its website.

“This will be achieved through four interlinked science components beginning with improving our understanding of the biogeochemical behaviour of radionuclides in soils through to studying the transgenerational effects of ionising radiation exposure on wildlife. Our studies will combine controlled laboratory experiments with fieldwork; most of which will take place in the Chernobyl Exclusion.”

Four months into the project the team has already captured more than 10,000 images of animals, suggesting the 30km zone, established shortly after the April 1986 disaster when a nuclear reactor exploded, ejecting radioactive material across the surrounding terrain and high into the atmosphere, is thriving in wildlife.

Species captured include Eurasian lynx, raccoon dog, Przewalski’s horse, Eurasian elk and brown bear.

Militarism and anti-militarism in Britain


This 2012 video from the USA is called Network XMilitarism in the Schools: Counter-Recruitment Conference. It says about itself:

Network X – 02/03/00 – Guests – Mario Hardy, Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, Asif Ullah, War Resisters League, Michaelle Jacobson, Seattle Teacher and Activist.

By Ian Sinclair in Britain:

Timely antidote to pro-war propaganda

Monday 27th April 2015

Spectacle, Reality, Resistance: Confronting a Culture of Militarism by David Gee (Forces Watch, £7)

ARMED Forces Day. Help for Heroes. The government’s Troops to Teachers programme. The media frenzy around the military funeral repatriations in Wootton Bassett. Girl band The Saturdays opening the Poppy Appeal.

It’s clear that we are in the midst of a resurgence of militarism in Britain.

The government presents these pro-military schemes as an attempt to encourage understanding and appreciation for the armed forces. But, with a 2008 Mori poll finding 81 per cent of the British public already view the military favourably, David Gee, co-founder of the activist organisation Forces Watch, is unconvinced.

Rather, he argues these recent policy initiatives are a direct response to the public’s increasing opposition to an aggressive foreign policy, in particular the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2009 the Chief of Defence Staff Jock Stirrup claimed that the Taliban’s roadside bombs were less of a threat to troops’ morale than the “declining will” among the public to support the war.

Tellingly, Stirrup added: “Support for our service men and women is indivisible from support for this mission.”

Unusually for a peace activist, Gee spends time looking at the role of popular culture, quoting cultural theorists like Guy Debord, Levi-Strauss and Slavoj Zizek.

He has a particular interest in Hollywood and how films with “violent romance quests” at their heart encourage audiences to form a positive view of the military and regenerative violence.

But while he notes that research shows war films as a key influence on British infantry recruits’ decision to enlist, he also explains how films like Avatar and The Hunger Games provide dissenting narratives.

Formed in 2011, Veterans for Peace UK is also working to counter pro-war propaganda, sending former soldiers into schools to teach children about the reality of war. “Simply put, we ought to know what war is, at the very least, before deciding whether or not to lend its support,” argues Gee.

While the parliamentary defeat for the government on their proposed attack on Syria was a huge victory for the anti-war movement, Gee is fully aware of the power disparity between the resistance and the Establishment.

“It might have failed to win our support for its recent wars but the government’s power to elicit public compliance and shape social culture through the education system, the media, and legislation is prodigious,” he notes.

Spectacle, Reality, Resistance is a short book but it’s important in inspiring anyone interested in exploring the increasing militarisation of society and learning about those opposing it.

Konik foal born, video


This video is about a konik horse foal being born, on 14 April 2015, in nature reserve Grensmaas in Limburg province in the Netherlands.

Laurent Beckers made this video.

Nazi violence in British election campaign


This May 2014 video is called UK: Nazi salutes as EDL march through Newcastle.

By Luke James in Britain:

Ukip‘ thugs ambush Labour party activists

Monday 27th April 2015

POLICE were hunting thugs yesterday who allegedly carried Ukip placards as they attacked Labour Party activists in South Thanet, Kent, at the weekend.

Officers are investigating claims that a Labour campaigner had a rosette ripped from his chest during the gang’s violent rampage on Saturday afternoon.

It was one of three alleged attacks carried out by the 10-strong mob linked to the English Defence League (EDL).

They also reportedly targeted Stand Up to Ukip and Tory volunteers campaigning in the constituency, which is being contested by Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

Eye witnesses reported that the men carried Ukip posters and chanted: “Ukip, Ukip” as they ran riot on Broadstairs seafront.

A Ukip spokesman told the Star that they “misappropriated” the party’s campaign material and condemned their “thuggery.”

The men are believed to be part of the white supremacist South East Alliance, which split from the EDL.

They are said to have attacked a dozen Labour activists who had travelled from Hackney to help the campaign of their party’s South Thanet candidate Will Scobie.

The group were canvassing at around 2.30pm in the high street when they were ambushed by men who leapt out of a car, according to a local Labour spokesman.

“The men squared up to our activists, ripped up their campaign literature, tore off their rosettes and then drove off chanting: ‘Ukip’,” he said.

Kent Police confirmed they were investigating the incident. A statement said: “It is alleged that a rosette was torn from the clothes of a 46-year-old man who was canvassing in the area. Enquiries are ongoing to locate the suspect.”

Mr Scobie last night appealed for anyone with information to help the police investigation.

“This was an appalling incident and very frightening for the people involved,” he said.

“The individuals in question were clearly sympathetic to Farage’s party and while we are of course not suggesting this had anything to do with Ukip’s campaign in the seat, it is just the latest example of the negativity Farage has bought to the area.”

Among them was Gary Field, a former EDL organiser with assault convictions who was photographed at the rally by the Mail on Sunday.

A Ukip spokesman told the Star: “This has been happening quite a lot in that people misappropriate our stuff.

“We utterly denounce any thuggery by anybody towards any political party.”

Mr Field was also identified by eyewitnesses as one of the gang who attacked Stand up to Ukip activists.

Norman Thomas, who runs community magazine Thanet Watch, was selling magazines nearby when Mr Field and his followers struck.

He told the Star: “Suddenly from out of nowhere came 10 or so people with St George’s flags and Ukip placards.

“They attacked the Stand Up to Ukip people, ripping up their posters and throwing them all along the sea front.”

The gang screamed: “Commie scum” at the three women and one man as they pursued them into a nearby pub, according to the local resident.

Ants have their own Highway Code, new research


This video is about Formica pratensis ants.

From Wildlife Extra:

Researchers find ants have their own Highway Code in high traffic areas

Researchers in Germany have discovered that ants have a sophisticated code of conduct in high traffic areas and their own rules of the road, according to new research published in Springer’s journal The Science of Nature – Naturwissenschaften.

One of the scientists’ observations is that ants speed up in response to a higher density of traffic on their trails, rather than slowing down as might be expected.

Not surprisingly, when the researchers increased the supply of food by leaving it next to the trail, ants accelerated their speed by 50 per cent. What was unexpected was that this was despite more than double the density of traffic.

When food increases in supply, more forager ants are sent out to carry it back to the nest. With this increase in ant density, the number of encounters between outbound and incoming individuals increases.

Researchers at the University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany suggest that the encounters provide an opportunity for ants to swap information and to change their behaviour according to conditions.

Rules of ant etiquette were also observed. For example, workers returning to the colony more often moved to the left than to the right to avoid colliding with an oncoming ant.

Rather than segregating strictly into lanes like human traffic, the ants used only a degree of segregation, with inbound ants more frequently using the left side of the trail.

The observations were made of the black-meadow ant, Formica pratensis, a species that lives mainly in open grassland and forages on aphid honeydew as its carbohydrate source.

The colonies studied were situated near favoured foraging sites where the ants protect and cultivate aphid populations. Repeated journeys in these colonies are made more efficient by the use of well-worn trails that can persist for over a decade.

A total of 1,865 individual ants were filmed on a 15cm (6in) section of trail. The video was stopped every 50 frames and the number of ants on each lane was counted. At low and medium densities, ants preferred the central lanes.

Of the total number, 496 ants were also studied for their speed. Encounters between ants included touching antennae or exchanging fluids. The number of encounters increased with density but this did not reduce the traffic flow.

“Even under the highest densities we could achieve, we did not observe any traffic jams,” says Christiane Hönicke, co-author of the study. “The ants increased their pace and were driven off the central lanes of the trail, resulting in a self-organised optimisation of the traffic.”