Electric fish discovery in Guyana

This video is called World’s Deadliest: Six-Foot Electric Eel.

From Wildlife Extra:

New genus of electric fish discovered in remote Guyana

Electric eel doesn’t stun prey

October 2013. A previously unknown genus of electric fish has been identified in a remote region of South America by a team of international researchers including University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) professor Nathan Lovejoy.

The Akawaio penak, a thin, eel-like electric fish, was discovered in the shallow, murky waters of the upper Mazaruni River in northern Guyana. Lovejoy’s team at UTSC analyzed tissue samples collected during a recent expedition by a researchers led by Hernán López-Fernández at the Royal Ontario Museum. By sequencing its DNA and reconstructing an evolutionary tree, Lovejoy’s team discovered the fish is so distinct it represents a new genus, the taxonomic classification level above species.

Biological diversity hotspot

The upper Mazaruni River is a hotspot for biological diversity, yet remains largely unexplored because of its remote location. The area contains countless rivers on top of a series of uplands that have remained isolated from the rest of South America for more than 30 million years.

“The fact this area is so remote and has been isolated for such a long time means you are quite likely to find new species,” says Lovejoy. Like other electric knifefish, Akawaio penak has a long organ running along the base of the body that produces an electric field. The electric field is too weak to stun prey but is instead used to navigate, detect objects and to communicate with other electric fish. This trait is advantageous given the murky habitats of the fish.

Gold mining degradation

The species is named in honour of the Akawaio Amerindians that populate the upper Mazaruni. The region is increasingly suffering from freshwater habitat degradation as a consequence of gold-mining in the area.

“The Mazaruni contains many unique species that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. It’s an extremely important area in South America in terms of biodiversity,” says Lovejoy.

The results of the discovery are published in the recent edition of the journal Zoologica Scripta.

November 2013: Plans to build a massive hydro-electric dam on the land of two unique tribes in Guyana would lead to the destruction of a unique people and vast tracts of rainforest says anthropologist Dr Audrey Butt Colson: here.

Guyanese anti-war protesters: Think Outside the Bomb!

Pro-peace demonstrations about Syria, not just in London, in the USA, or in the Netherlands

The US Congress is preparing to rubberstamp another illegal war of aggression, as claims that the action will be “limited” are quickly being exposed: here.

A concerted campaign is underway for a second vote in Britain’s parliament to sanction war against Syria: here.

France publishes intelligence brief for war in Syria based on lies: here.

Syria crisis: The British public has its say as two-thirds oppose strikes. Exclusive poll for The Independent sends clear message as David Cameron resists pressure for second vote: here.

Again, demonstration against war on Syria; Wednesday, The Hague, the Netherlands: here.

JSC: Jamaicans in Solidarity with Cuba

Source: Guyanese Solidarity Movement with Cuba

On August 31 2013, the Guyana Solidarity Movement with Cuba and other Muslim organizations held a peaceful rally demanding a stop to the killings in the Middle East.

Participants carried slogans with messages for the President of the US, including:

  • If we don’t end war, war will end us
  • Free Syria
  • Stop killing Syrian Children
  • Think outside the bomb!!! O 

Guyana Cuba Solidarity Rally 3 (2)

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New poison dart frog discovered in Guyana

Allobates amissibilis sp. nov., newly discovered micro-endemic frog species. Photo courtesy of M. Hoelting and R. Ernst/Senckenberg

From mongabay.com:

New poison dart frog discovered in ‘Lost World

July 19, 2013

Scientists have described a new species of poison dart frog after discovering it during a study to determine the impact of tourism on biodiversity in a tract of rainforest known as “The Lost World” in Guyana.

The scientists named the frog Allobates amissibilis — in Latin, “that may be lost” — in recognition of its home, which was the set for British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s 1912 book, The Lost World. The frog was discovered near Turu Falls, a waterfall at the foot of the Iwokrama Mountains in Central Guyana.

According to the Senckenberg Nature Research Society, the intent of the study was to investigate populations of another frog, the Hoogmoed’s harlequin frog (Atelopus hoogmoedi), to determine whether it might be impacted by planned ecotourism development in the region. While the researchers were conducting their survey, they came across the thumbnail-sized frog, which they couldn’t identify. Subsequent analysis showed it to be an undescribed species.

Allobates amissibilis is now the third Allobates species know from Guyana. Like other poison dart frogs, it derives its toxicity from the ants, mites, and other invertebrates on which it feeds. The species is thought to be a “micro-endemic” — found in only a small area of habitat.

CITATION: Kok, P.J.R., Hölting, M., Ernst, R. (in press 2013) A third microendemic to the Iwokrama Mountains of central Guyana: a new “cryptic” species of Allobates Zimmerman and Zimmerman, 1988 (Anura: Aromobatidae). Organisms Diversity and Evolution. Online first DOI: 1010.1007/s13127-013-0144-4

Also on this: Lost World Ecotourism Analysis Leads To New Frog Species Discovery.

See also here. And here.

High-living frogs hurt by remote oil roads in the Amazon: here.

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Reptiles, amphibians as pest control, video

The Sticky Tongue blog from Canada says about this video:

Reptiles and amphibians play an important natural role and often benefit humans directly by eating insects, rodents, and other pests. They are nature’s truly green, 100% organic and recyclable pest control.

Episode 8 of a year-long 24 episode education-outreach video series starring Whit Gibbons: Herpetologist, Author, that we produced in cooperation with The Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy.

Caribbean labour history, new book

This video is called Working conditions for hotel workers in the Caribbean.

By Steve Andrew in Britain:

Caribbean Workers’ Struggles

by Richard Hart (Socialist History Society, £6)

Tuesday 06 November 2012

If ever there was a person qualified to write a potted history of the Caribbean from the perspective of the labour movement in that region, there surely can be no-one more suitable to undertake the task than Richard Hart.

Born in Jamaica in 1917, Hart trained as a solicitor before throwing himself into the country’s emerging trade union movement.

He was involved in trade union activities in the British Caribbean region colonies for many years.

A member of the labour committee formed in Jamaica in 1938, he was responsible for drafting a model trade union constitution.

He also made his mark as a vice-president of the Jamaican TUC and, on a wider regional level, was the assistant secretary of the Caribbean Labour Congress.

Having already written countless pieces on the history of the region Hart’s work as an academic is now respected internationally and if you’ve not come across his writing before then this is as good an introduction as any.

Hart never made any secret of a self-styled “flexible” Marxism.

Although he was a founder member of the People’s National Party in Jamaica, he was later expelled by Michael Manley because of his left-wing views.

In later years, Hart was to work in Guyana with Cheddi Jagan, a strong advocate of trade unionism, and later the New Jewel Movement of Grenada before the catastrophic US invasion of 1983.

Short, concise and well referenced throughout, Caribbean Workers’ Struggles is a wide-ranging and immensely readable essay that gives centre stage to the struggle for workers’ rights and national independence against the forces of racism and imperialism.

Anchored in the realities of class struggle and political economy, it’s also a welcome response to the rather Eurocentric or sentimental accounts that have glossed over history as it has actually been lived.

A publishing venture that deserves support.

The Socialist History Society is launching Caribbean Workers’ Struggles on 6 December at 6.30 pm at the Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate London, EC2. Details:


The background to the bloody disintegration of the 1983 Grenadian revolution is explored in a film which contributes to the reconciliation process, says JOHN GREEN: here.

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Gold mining pollutes Guyana

This video is called Remote River Man – Amazing Guyana wildlife.

By Bert Wilkinson:

Runaway Gold Prices Spark Major Headaches for Guyana

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, May 29, 2012 (IPS) – Fabian George drank and generally used water from jungle rivers near his mountainside home for decades until world market prices for gold began climbing in recent years.

Now he and other villagers from the Chi Chi District in western Guyana near Venezuela won’t dare drink or bathe in water from the river nearest their tribal Indian community because of the chemical pollution and sedimentation from river and land dredges that local miners and Brazilians are operating in the area.

They, like other tribal communities in the South American nation’s booming “gold bush” sector, are today forced to walk long distances to inland creeks they believe are less polluted to obtain potable drinking water, as traditional sources are laced with sedimentation and mercury tailings from high-technology dredges as well as high- powered pumps and hoses stripping away mud or ore to recover gold.

Romanians protest against gold mine plan: here.

World’s largest(?) spider video

This video is called Goliath bird-eating spider – Expedition Guyana – BBC.

See also here.

New tree species discovered in Guyana

Carapa guianensis, a relative of the new species

From mongabay.com:

New tree species discovered in Guyana is rich source of oil

Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com

December 09, 2009

# Summary: Carapa akuri is a new tree species endemic to Guyana
# Carapa akuri produces oil-rich seeds valuable for a range of uses
# Carapa akuri may provide another reason to conserve Guyana’s forests

After years of lobbying, a new bill has been approved which will improve protection of Guyana’s biodiversity: here.

Guyana Strives to Protect Forests and Coast from Climate Change: here.

Groundbreaking Trust Fund Helps Keep Nature Alive in Guyana: here.

Guyanese wildlife paradise threatened

This video is about butterflies in Guyana.

From mongabay.com:

Guyana expedition finds biodiversity trove in area slated for oil and gas development, an interview with Robert Pickles

Jeremy Hance

November 29, 2009

Playful giant river otters, massive anacondas, unafraid tapirs, and the world’s largest spider recorded in Guyana‘s lost world.

An expedition deep into Guyana‘s rainforest interior to find the endangered giant river otter—and collect their scat for genetic analysis—uncovered much more than even this endangered charismatic species.

“Visiting the Rewa Head felt like we were walking in the footsteps of Wallace and Bates, seeing South America with its natural density of wild animals as it would have appeared 150 years ago,” expedition member Robert Pickles said to Mongabay.com.

A PhD student with the University of Kent and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Pickles is currently studying the genetics of the giant river otter in hopes to save this species from habitat loss. While the expedition, which also included tapir expert Niall McCann and local naturalist and tour operator Ashley Holland, found the necessary scat-samples that Pickles sought, they also took data on the biodiversity of one of the Guyana’s Shield‘s most untouched regions hoping to draw attention to a little-known area threatened by big logging and oil companies.

In just six weeks the expedition recorded an astounding variety of life: 158 species of birds, 22 species of medium to large mammals, and half of Guyana’s known endangered species.

“Including,” Pickles says, “all the felids with several captures of puma in the camera traps, the presence of the mighty Harpy and crested eagles, the extremely elusive bush dog, abundant tapir and then just below the Falls is an important breeding ground for the giant South American river turtle.”

Due to the difficulty of reaching Rewa Head, the ecosystem was been little touched by past or present hunters, leaving the animals largely unafraid of Pickles and other expedition members.

“It was quite remarkable the number of game species such as paca and currassow that could be seen and approached with ease. We also encountered four tapir during the expedition […] they were entirely nonchalant about our presence and would quite placidly paddle just next to the boat as we drifted downstream,” he says.

Most surprising, according to Pickles, was the number—and size—of the world’s largest snake found by the expedition in Rewa Head.

“I really have to say something about the anacondas up there though. We encountered 6 during our expedition, four of which were estimated as being over 16 feet. To verify our size estimates we caught a large snake basking on the river bank and measured her length with a rope. She turned out to be 18 feet 2 inches in length with a maximum girth of 27 inches. It was quite incredible to see so many very large snakes. Why do they get so large here whereas in the Venezuelan Llanos they rarely record them over 16 feet?” Pickles said, perhaps describing a future research project for an intrepid herpetologist.

This pristine wilderness—still free from the impacts of the modern world—may not remain so for long. Both a massive logging concession and an even larger oil drilling concession overlap the wilderness.

US-owned company, Simon and Shock International, currently has a license to extract timber from 400,000 hectares.

“The company has stated its environmental principles and has listed a range of measures to mitigate degradation of the concession,” Pickles says. “But the unfortunate fact is that no matter how green your intentions are, it can be very difficult to prevent the creep of hunting into a forest once you’ve put a road in there.”

The oil-drilling concession [of Groundstar Resources Ltd], covering an astounding 78 million hectares, poses similar threats according to Pickles.

Gold dredging has been outlawed in an unspoilt region of Guyana following a local campaign by concerned Amerindian villagers. This is being backed by scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

Road deaths decimating Shetland’s otter population: here.

Anaconda captured at Florida horse park: here.

Finding forest for the endangered golden-headed lion tamarin: here.

Guyanese freedom fighter Janet Jagan dies

This is Guyanese TV on Janet Jagan.

From British daily The Morning Star:

Leader of Guyanese freedom fight dies aged 88

Sunday 29 March 2009

FORMER Guyanese president Janet Jagan died on Saturday in Georgetown, the capital of her adopted country. She was 88.

US-born Ms Jagan, who always described herself as a communist, was elected president after her husband Cheddi Jagan died in 1997. She resigned in 1999 due to poor health.

The couple met in Chicago in 1940, where Mr Jagan was studying dentistry and Ms Jagan was a Communist Party of the USA activist.

Despite their different backgrounds – Jewish and Hindu – they married and moved to Guyana. In 1950, they founded the People’s Progressive Party, with Ms Jagan elected general secretary.

Despite persecution by the British colonial authorities, the two led the strugle for freedom for the south American nation until independence in 1966.

Ms Jagan was a dedicated fighter for Guyanese independence and Caribbean unity during years of corruption, gerrymandering, election-fixing and repression by British colonialism and the People’s National Congress government of Forbes Burnham, which worked to divide the country’s black and Indian communities.

See also here. And here. And here.

From the obituary in The Independent:

In her later years “Comrade Janet” wrote children’s stories, including When Grandpa Cheddi was a Boy (1993), Patricia, the Baby Manatee (1995) and Anastasia the Ant-Eater (1997). She also became a noted patron of the arts, helping to found the National Art Gallery in Georgetown.

Jessica Huntley – tireless Guyanese fighter for ordinary working people passes on: here. And here.

While I was in Suriname, I met people who had fled Guyana because of (United States government supported) Burnhamite communalist divide and rule policies. There are no such big intercommunal tensions in Suriname.

This is not a man’s world- ending violence against women in Guyana: here.