No fruit bats, no durian fruit


This video says about itself:

14 May 2015

A Cave Nectar Bat is pollinating durian flowers in Thailand. The durian is the king of South East Asian fruits, selling for billions of dollars annually. However, every flower must be pollinated by a bat in order to set fruit, even when grown in orchards.

From the University of Nottingham in England:

Durian industry could suffer without the endangered fruit bat

October 3, 2017

Scientists have discovered that Southeast Asia’s endangered fruit bats — commonly known as flying foxes — play an important part in the pollination of the iconic and economically important durian tree.

Using camera traps, researchers collected video evidence showing the island flying fox (Pteropus hypomelanus) pollinating durian flowers, leading to the production of healthy durian fruit. Their study — Pollination by the locally endangered island flying fox (Pteropus hypomelanus) enhances fruit production of the economically important durian (Durio zibethinus) — has been published in the Journal of Ecology and Evolution.

The video footage was captured on Tioman Island by a team led by Dr Sheema Abdul Aziz as part of her PhD at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (France) in collaboration with the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. Dr Sheema said: “These are very important findings because they shed more light on the crucial ecosystem services provided by flying foxes. Previously it was known that the smaller, nectar-feeding bats are pollinators for durian — but many people believed that flying foxes were too large and destructive to play such a role. Our study shows the exact opposite: that these giant fruit bats are actually very effective in pollinating durian trees.”

The spikey tropical durian fruit, with its spikey skin and distinctive odour, is highly prized throughout Malaysia and Thailand. A ubiquitous icon of Southeast Asian culture, it is also a lucrative industry, generating millions of US dollars in local and international trade. The new findings suggest these economic profits owe a huge debt to large fruit bats such as flying foxes — as they were previously believed to be destructive rather than beneficial.

Dr Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, from the School of Environment and Geographical Sciences of the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus and one of the coauthors of the study, said: “The durian is a fascinating plant that, with its flowers pollinated by bats and its seeds dispersed by large animals like elephants, beautifully exemplifies the importance of plant animal interactions. The durian fruit is particularly famous for its pungent smell and unique taste, adored by most people in Southeast Asia and so often misunderstood — abhorred? — by westerners. We hope this study brings attention to the urgency of conserving flying foxes in Southeast Asia.”

Flying fox populations in severe decline

The island flying fox is already classified as ‘endangered’ on Malaysia’s National Red List.

Large fruit bats of the genus Pteropus are severely threatened by hunting and deforestation. They are often sold and eaten as exotic meat due to an unsubstantiated belief that consuming them can help cure asthma and other respiratory problems. They are also persecuted and killed as agricultural pests, as some people claim that the bats cause damage and economic loss by feeding on cultivated fruits.

Consequently, these factors have led to a severe decline in flying fox populations worldwide.

Repercussions for tropical ecosystems

This study shows that these bats play important roles as seed dispersers and pollinators in rainforests, especially on islands. Their disappearance could therefore have repercussions for tropical ecosystems.

This international team of researchers from Malaysia, France, India, and Thailand, in collaboration with Tree Climbers Malaysia, has found that Southeast Asia’s durian supply could be affected too.

Dr Sheema said: “If people end up hunting flying foxes to extinction, it’s not hard to see that there could be serious implications for Southeast Asia’s beloved ‘King of Fruits‘”.

Goat shit, rabbit shit, food on Vlieland island?


Vlieland goat shit, 29 September 2017

This 29 September 2017 cell phone photo is from the ship from Harlingen harbour to Vlieland island in the Netherlands.

On Vlieland there are not only beautiful birds, but goats and rabbits as well.

The captions on the boxes say Vlieland goat excrement and Vlieland rabbit excrement.

Do people really eat shit on Vlieland?

No: the content of the boxes is licorice.

Will French ortolan bunting eating stop at last?


This is an ortolan bunting video from France.

From BirdLife:

22 Sep 2017

In France, the Ortolan Bunting may soon be finally off the menu

The French Ministry of Ecology, Nicolas Hulot has committed to ending the large-scale trapping of Ortolan Bunting, which takes place to meet demand for a cruel dish where the songbird is blinded, plumpened and drowned in brandy. It’s a practice that has driven population declines of up to 84% in Europe since 1980.

By Alex Dale

Ortolan is a dish savoured with an almost ritualistic relish. Custom dictates that the diner eats the bird while wearing a napkin over their head; this, it is said, is to ensure the rich aromas do not escape while the gourmand chews the bird, bones and all, a process that lasts for several minutes. Pragmatically, the ritual may also have arisen because eating it is a messy business indeed. Or, others might say, out of shame. Because the process of delivering the Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana from perch to palate is a gruesome affair indeed.

The cruelty begins in the field, where around 30,000 Ortolan Buntings are captured every year during the autumn migration, as their flightpath from eastern Europe to west Africa takes them across France – and in particular Landes, a poaching hotspot in the south-west of France. Here, songbirds are trapped in huge numbers, either in nets, or, in Provence, by getting snared by glue smeared on the branches of their favoured trees. BirdLife estimates around 500,000 protected passerines are illegally caught every year in France. Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs and Brambling Fringilla montifringilla are also targets for poachers, and many other species, such as European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis become collateral victims in the annual slaughter.

Many birds meet their end here in the field – but the fate awaiting the Ortolan Bunting is even worse. Under the guise of tradition, the tiny birds are blinded (to disrupt their feeding habits) and kept in tiny cages, where they are force-fed to increase their fat reserves, before being drowned in brandy, roasted and served.

While the Ortolan Bunting is listed as Least Concern by BirdLife because of its vast range (it can be found throughout Europe and Central Asia), the tales of the Passenger Pigeon Ectopistes migratorius and Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola should guard conservationists against complacency. Indeed, no other European passerine has declined as rapidly in recent years, with an overall decline of 84% since 1980 – this, despite hunting of the species being forbidden by French law since 1999, when it became a protected species. However, because the Ortolan dish is considered a cultural tradition, authorities are often keen to turn a blind eye to the activities of poachers.

For the past 10 years, LPO (BirdLife in France) has been fighting this illegal practice on the ground, and also in the air, where alongside CABS (Committee Against Bird Slaughter), they have been identifying trapping sites and releasing the birds, before alerting the authorities. Until recently, LPO’s interventions were the only way to identify and prosecute the poachers, who operated with the blessing of local elected officials and hunting officials, and who claimed that the state “tolerated” these practices. Indeed the authorities wouldn’t file charges for installations of 30 traps or less.

However, the tide is turning. For the last two years, France’s national agency for hunting and wildlife (ONCFS) has been conducting inspections, which has strengthened LPO’s work and raised hopes that cases against hunters will be pursued instead of shelved. LPO has repeatedly provided the European Commission with evidence that the French government has done little to combat the capturing and killing of wild birds in their country, and in December 2016, the European Commission announced that it was taking France to the EU Court of Justice for failing to address violations of the EU’s Birds Directive – with a potential fine running into millions of euros.

And then, the news that would be music to songbirds’ ears. On 8th August 2017, with a tweet and a press release, the French ministry of ecology, Nicolas Hulot, stated his intentions to put a definitive end to the poaching of Ortolan Bunting in the Landes. In the statement, Hulot says: “Preserving biodiversity is essential to the future of our humanity, and it is the protection of a natural heritage that we have received as a legacy and that we must pass on to future generations for ethical as well as scientific reasons.”

“The practice of poaching Ortolans is illegal, it must stop….it poses a significant risk to the survival of the species, while the natural environment of this bird is threatened by climate change and urbanization which destroys its habitat”

Hulot’s announcement came as LPO was busy readying its tour of the Landes department to denounce the poaching of France’s songbirds, which is underway as you read this. “LPO has been struggling for years against trapping and every types of illegal killing of birds in France” says Bernard Deceuninck, Head of International & Overseas Service, LPO. “We have won a major battle against bird crime, but we still have a lot to do because the Birds Directive need a proper implementation on the field, including stricter controls of every types of so called ‘traditional’ hunting and trapping.”

Nonetheless, Hulot’s announcement represents a big step for bird conservation in France. LPO expects that the state must eventually put an end to the non-selective trapping of all birds, but that the government is beginning the crackdown with the Ortolan Bunting should leave a sweet taste in the mouth of conservationists worldwide.

French neofascists expel bigwig for eating ‘treasonable’ African food


This 2016 video is called How To Cook Simple Vegetarian Couscous.

Couscous is a famous originally North African dish, now eaten in many countries.

Recently, Florian Philippot, the vice president of the French neofascist National Front party, was spotted eating it.

Philippot’s fellow neonazis did not like that ‘treasonable’ eating of ‘Muslim’ food.

The quarrel between National Front fuehrer Marine Le Pen and deputy fuehrer Philippot led today to Philippot no longer being deputy fuehrer and no longer being a National Front party member.

In Italy, the French National Front‘s racist colleagues, the xenophobic Lega Nord Party, who used to be in the Rightist Berlusconi government coalition; a party whose Members of the European Parliament praise mass murderer Anders Breivik from Norway, are infamous for their crusade against other ‘Islamic’ food: kebab.

One should hope that a Lega Nord bigwig will spot another Lega Nord bigwig secretly eating kebab. And that the quarrel resulting from that will harm the Lega Nord like couscous is harming the French National Front now.