Dutch reed warblers depend on African rainfall


This video is about a young cuckoo, fed by its foster parent, an Eurasian reed warbler.

Translated from the Dutch SOVON ornithologists:

When it rains in the Sahel more Eurasian reed warblers survive

Friday, March 20th, 2015

About various migratory birds including the purple heron and the sedge warbler it was already known: if there is enough rainfall in the autumn in their wintering grounds in West Africa, it increases the likelihood that they will survive the winter.

An analysis of reed warblers captured in the Netherlands shows the same effect. How many reed warblers return to the Netherlands therefore depends in part on the amount of precipitation that falls in West Africa. This is reflected in the Breeding Birds Report 2013 published today by SOVON.

Belgian Foreign Minister Reynders dons blackface


This video from Belgium is called ‘Deplorable': Foreign Minister Under Fire for Blackface.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Blackface makeup Belgian minister angers people

Today, 21:32

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders has caused a stir with a special outfit. Reynders this Saturday celebrated the Brussels festival of the Noirauds (‘Blackies’) and had blackface makeup on.

The controversy arose after a French journalist who made a TV item about the tradition, expressed his outrage on Twitter: “Folklore, charity, or colonialism, the Brussels notables are face painting themselves as Africans?”.

In the report by France 2 also Reynders’ fancy dress was discussed.

Quickly more people responded on Twitter. A director of Human Rights Watch said that the minister should be ashamed of himself: “will u wear #blackface outfit 2 next meeting w African leaders?”

Actress Mia Farrow called it shocking and shameful.

Nigerian writer Chika Unigwe, who lives in Belgium, writes that in any other decent country one’s political career would be over. Nothing has changed since the days of Leopold, she added.

Unigwe alluded to the time that Belgium colonized Congo. The years under the reign of King Leopold II are characterized by enslavement, murder, torture and rape.

The ‘Noirauds’ festival started in 1876, with well off Brussels bourgeois donning blackface.

Sign Petition: Belgian Blackface minister must resign – Stop Blackface: here.

Two lion subspecies in Africa, new research


This video is called Lions Documentary National Geographic – The Kingdom of Lion.

Translated from Leiden University in the Netherlands:

African lion has two subspecies

The traditional separation of lions in an African and an Asian subspecies is unjustified, says biologist Laura Bertola. In Africa two subspecies live. PhD defence on March 18th.

Unique position

Lions are found in virtually all of Africa and a small part of India. Until now, they were divided into two groups: an African subspecies, Panthera leo leo, and an Asian subspecies, Panthera leo persica. This format is not correct according to Laura Bertola. They examined the DNA of lions in Africa and India. The animals in West and Central Africa are more like the Asiatic lions than like other African lions. Bertola: “They are clearly different from the lions in the rest of Africa. You can speak of two African subspecies. The unique position of the lions from West and Central Africa calls for even better protection. Especially because these populations are under great pressure. ”

Separated by rainforest and desert

Changes in the African climate over the last 300,000 years separated certain populations,” says Bertola. “The expansion of dense rainforest and dry desert formed a barrier to the lions. The historical isolation which arose so, is still visible in the DNA. From the DNA we can deduce what groups recently have been contacted and which groups have long been separated in their mutual evolution.”

Save West African seabirds


This video says about itself:

Thousands of seabirds take to the sky

You’ve never seen so many seabirds in one place! A tiny island off the South African coast is the location of one of the biggest gannet colonies on earth! Watch the birds take flight in this HD video.

From BirdLife:

Conservation plug-in charges efforts to save West Africa’s seabirds

By Martin Fowlie, Fri, 20/02/2015 – 09:44

Efforts to save West Africa’s disappearing seabirds are to be given a boost thanks to an ambitious monitoring initiative which will help identify and protect the areas in which they forage and overwinter.

The Alycon Project, a collaborative conservation initiative first taken on by The FIBA Foundation, aims to identify critical sites for seabirds, including a host of threatened albatross and petrel species. Though the project began in 2013, the day-to-day running of the project will now be taken on by BirdLife.

West Africa’s seabirds face a familiar problem. Though they spend much of their time on shore protected within Marine Protected Areas, the areas in which they forage are largely unknown, often existing outside of protected waters. Palaearctic migrants are an additional concern, given that so many are known to overwinter in unprotected coastal wetlands. Identifying the sites of value to West Africa’s seabirds is a vital first step in their conservation.

By taking on management of the project, BirdLife will channel its existing expertise in monitoring seabirds and designating Marine and Important Bird Areas – a wise use of vital conservation resources. Extra staff will join BirdLife to ensure that new sites identified receive the protection they deserve, plugging into BirdLife’s existing Global Marine Programme.

Possible threats to West African seabirds from local fisheries

And how about threats to West African seabirds from non-local non-African corporate fisheries?

Adult and juvenile European seabirds at risk from marine plundering off West Africa ocean: here.

will also be investigated, with an opportunity for further African countries to work in a way that is modelled on BirdLife’s Albatross Task Force.

BirdLife International would like to thank the MAVA Foundation, and in particular the former FIBA staff members who have supported our efforts and collaborated so openly, to effect a seamless transition for Alcyon to BirdLife International”, said Dr Ross Wanless of BirdLife South Africa. “We look forward to continuing a productive relationship and working towards the improved conservation of the marine biodiversity of the West African waters.”

Namibia on-board with BirdLife to end seabird bycatch in world’s worst fishery: here.

Ebola killing humans, gorillas, chimpanzees


This video is called Deadly Ebola Virus Wiping out Gorillas in Africa.

From Discovery News:

Ebola Has Crushed Gorilla and Chimp Populations

JAN 22, 2015 03:05 PM ET

Writing at theconversation.com, Meera Inglis, a PhD. in conservation policy at the University of Sheffield, calls attention to a perhaps little known, or not often considered, fact: The Ebola virus has put a sizable dent in Africa’s great ape populations.

In her piece Inglis calls Ebola “the single greatest threat to the survival of gorillas and chimpanzees” and cites mortality rates of about 95% for gorillas and 77% for chimpanzees.

She also notes that by some estimates 33% of gorilla and chimpanzee populations worldwide have died from Ebola since the 1990s.

Ebola’s Deadly Jump From Animal to Animal

“We need both short-term solutions to halting the spread of Ebola and long-term ones to prevent future outbreaks,” Inglis writes. She suggests vaccination programs in the short run, and in the long run a restoration and enlargement of great ape habitats as well as better protection for them from hunters.

With respect to vaccination, Inglis cites trials on chimpanzees of an encouraging new vaccine that trains the immune system to identify and defend against Ebola and does not appear to harm the animals.

Habitat restoration and greater protection from hunters, meanwhile, have their own obstacles. “Unfortunately,” says Inglis, “there appears to be a lack of political will to implement policies which would bring viable solutions into effect.”

“If we do not act fast,” she adds, “these may prove to be the last decades in which apes can continue to live in their natural habitat.”