Rare bunting in Norway


This is a video about a singing black-headed bunting in Azerbaijan; Shirvan National Park.

The ornithologists of Utsira Fuglestasjon in Norway say on Twitter today:

Black-headed Bunting still present since 18 June.

This is usually a south-east European and Asian species.

Norwegian wolf poachers on trial


This video says about itself:

Wolf pups (Canis lupus) – Wolf behavior

30 May 2012

There were four adorable woulf pups, just one week old. The entire pack works together to care for those young pups.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Norwegian court to rule on six men accused of illegal wolf hunt

Landmark case pits survival of one of Europe’s smallest wolf populations against Norwegians’ cherished hunting rights

Elisabeth Ulven and Tone Sutterud in Oslo

Sunday 19 April 2015 15.33 BST

Six men charged over hunting some of Norway’s last wolves will learn their fate this week when a court rules on a landmark case that has gripped the country.

Illegal hunting of wolves is thought to be extensive in Norway, driving down population numbers to perilously low levels.

Now, for the first time, the authorities have prosecuted an alleged hunting team, charging the six men with environmental offences and organised crime, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 11 years.

“It’s such a serious offence that we were given almost unlimited investigative powers by the state attorney,” says Tarjei Istad, a prosecutor in the case.

The indictment includes attempted illegal hunting, firearms offences and organised crime. The prosecutor has asked for a five-year ban from hunting, which is something most Norwegians see as a birthright. The defendants are pleading not guilty.

All European countries except the UK and Ireland are believed to have a population of wolves, ranging from the largest in Spain, with an estimated 2,000 animals, to Norway, which has one of the smallest populations, with perhaps as few as 30. The grey wolf is listed by Cites as endangered regionally, though not globally.

“This is a question of attitude in certain hunting teams and communities,” said Istad, referring to audio surveillance of the suspects that revealed a lot of boasting about their hunts. He believes this court case is important to get the message across that Norway will not take illegal hunting lightly.

Petter Wabakken, an internationally acclaimed expert on wolves, agrees.

“Our research shows that half of all wolves felled in Norway were killed by poachers,” he said. “This is disturbing, especially considering that we have the smallest wolf population in Europe. Government policy has been to allow three breeding female wolves within an allocated area. This is not enough to sustain a healthy population.”

Norwegians are deeply divided over the management of wolves. Urban communities are generally positive about having large predators in their vicinity, while people in the countryside see them as much more of a threat.

Wolves tend to be targeted because of conflicts with human interests, such as competition for game, human safety and depredation of livestock.

“We can only conclude that poachers take the law into their own hands. It’s not licensed but illegal hunting that regulates the Norwegian wolf tribe,” Wabakken said.

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.”

Arctic tern research in Svalbard, update


This video shows Dr Maarten Loonen, Arctic tern researcher at Groningen university in the Netherlands. In Svalbard, he holds Arctic tern Guusje, the first tern provided with a geolocator in Dr Loonen’s Arctic tern migration research on Spitsbergen island. If the glue of the ring around Guusje’s leg will be dry, then she will be released, to (probably) travel all the way to the Antarctic, and back to the Arctic.

The 39 terns provided with geolocators on Spitsbergen in 2013 have been named by 39 sponsors in a crowdfunding scheme. That scheme is now finished.

Of the 39 2013 geolocator Arctic terns, 13 individuals were caught again at the same nesting colony in Spitsbergen in 2014. The majority of the 2013 terns had not returned to the nesting site, as it suffered much from Arctic foxes stealing eggs.

The Arctic tern Beauty had already been ringed and provided with a geolocator in 2012; this bird was caught again in 2013, but not in 2014.

Names of the terns ringed in 2013 and recaptured in 2014: Anke, Benji, Henk de Groot, Inky, Jacobird, Jan Pier, Karmijn, Lubbe, Marjolein, Mystic, NoorDrenthe, Suzanne, Tom.

Names of the terns, ringed in 2013, and not caught again in 2014: Angelo, Annelies, Arctic Jewel, BenJeanette, Berna, Ellen, Flo, Frederico Segundo, Gerie, Gerrit de Veer, Guusje, Herman, Hidde, Imiqutailaq, Joanne, Jonathan, Krukel 1, Maamke, Maarten, Meliora, Riiser-Larsen, Ruth, SolarAccess, Stirns, Suzanne, Viti.

In 2014, also 18 Arctic terns nesting in Groningen province, in the Eemshaven harbour, in the Netherlands have been provided with geolocators.

This video by Maarten Loonen says about itself:

9 June 2013

I am joining Derick Hiemstra and Klaas van Dijk in the Eemshaven to observe and ring Arctic Terns. In this industrial area, activity is low and Arctic Terns have started breeding. On this location the world champions [in] migration distance were equipped with a geolocator two years ago and recaught one year ago. Today Derick and Klaas are doing their normal checks. They read colour rings but also metal rings from terns. Then we continue catching and ringing some breeding pairs. All this is part of my preparation for this summer field season on Spitsbergen.

20 Arctic terns nesting in the White Sea region in Russia got geolocators in 2014 as well.

Jews, Muslims together against violence


This 25 March 2014 video is about Jews and Muslims demonstrating together against Geert Wilders‘ xenophobic PVV party in Amsterdam.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Jews and Muslims marching together against aggression

Today, 15:50

About 200 people this afternoon are walking from the synagogue on the Jonas Daniel Meijer Square in Amsterdam to the Weesperzijde mosque. The organizers of the solidarity walk oppose aggression against places of worship and are against anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Other religious and non-religious parties also have rallied behind the initiative.

In the rally Jews, Muslims and other Amsterdam people participate. Both at the mosque and at the synagogue speeches will be held and flowers will be laid.

Hundreds of Norwegian Muslims form human shield to protect Jewish Synagogue in Oslo: here.

Free Bahraini human rights activist


This video says about itself:

‘Night raids, torture, sham trials a daily reality in Bahrain’ – human rights activist

21 October 2013

In an Arab world swept away by revolutions and wars, few states have remained intact. And at what cost? Bahrain has seen protests, arrests and crackdowns on the opposition. Does stability necessarily mean political oppression in the Middle East? Why is Bahrain’s trouble off international media’s radar? We talk to human rights activist Maryam Alkhawaja, daughter of Bahrain’s renowned dissident, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, who is now in jail.

From the site of the government of Norway:

Norway calls for release of human rights defender in Bahrain

News story | Published: 10.02.2015

‘The human rights situation in Bahrain has deteriorated steadily since the start of the Arab Spring in 2011. The Norwegian authorities call for the release of the Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab,’ said State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bård Glad Pedersen.

Mr Rajab, who met the political leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in September 2014, has been imprisoned several times following accusations of having publicly insulted the Bahraini authorities on social media and having participated in and encouraged unauthorised demonstrations. Following a visit to Europe to draw attention to the human rights situation in Bahrain, Mr Rajab returned to Bahrain on 1 October 2014. He was summoned for interrogation just a day after his return, accused of having insulted a public institution on social media. On 20 January, Mr Rajab was sentenced to six months in prison for his ‘crime’. The sentence has been appealed, and the appeal is due to be heard by the court on 11 February.

‘The sentence against Nabeel Rajab is another example of how difficult the situation is for human rights defenders in Bahrain. A large number of human rights activists have been imprisoned with extremely harsh sentences. Norway calls for Nabeel Rajab to be released as quickly as possible,’ said Mr Pedersen.

A Bahraini human rights activist stripped of his citizenship and rendered stateless, has told the House of Lords in Westminster that Bahrain is using the revocation of nationalities as a weapon against the opposition: here.