Australian government, stop imprisoning refugees, Papua New Guinea court decides


This video says about itself:

Guantánamo of the Pacific”: Australian Asylum Seekers Wage Hunger Strike at Offshore Detention Site

22 January 2015

A massive hunger strike is underway at what some are calling “the Guantánamo Bay of the Pacific.” The Manus Island detention center is paid for by the Australian government and run by an Australian contractor, Transfield Services, but located offshore on Papua New Guinea’s soil. The inmates are not accused of any crimes — they are asylum seekers from war-ravaged countries who are waiting indefinitely for their refugee status determinations.

They are asking the United Nations to intervene against the Australian federal government’s plan to resettle them in Papua New Guinea, where they say they could face persecution. Some have barricaded themselves behind the detention center’s high wire fences; others have resorted to increasingly drastic measures such as drinking washing detergent, swallowing razor blades, and even sewing their mouths shut to protest their confinement. We speak with Australian human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson and Alex Kelly, a social justice filmmaker who organized a New York City vigil in solidarity with the Manus Island detainees.

From the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia:

Papua New Guinea court finds Australia’s detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island is illegal

April 26, 2016 – 11:02PM

Nicole Hasham, Michael Gordon

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says about 900 men being held at the Manus Island detention centre will not be brought to Australia after Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruled their detention was illegal.

The decision strikes one of the central pillars of the Turnbull government’s border protection regime, just weeks out from an election campaign during which the government is expected to heavily spruik its asylum seeker record. …

The court ruled the detention breached the constitutional right of asylum seekers to personal liberty. It ordered the Australian and PNG governments to immediately cease the “unconstitutional and illegal detention of asylum seekers” at Manus Island, and stop the breach of their human rights. …

The vast majority of men in the detention centre have been found to be refugees. The court ruling said they were seeking asylum in Australia but were “forcefully brought into PNG” and locked in an Australian-funded centre “enclosed with razor wire“. …

Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs said the unanimous ruling by five judges was “further confirmation that Australia’s detention policies are increasingly out of step with international norms”.

Professor Triggs said the future of men on Manus Island remained “profoundly uncertain”, citing UNHCR concerns that the sustainable integration of refugees into the PNG community “will raise formidable challenges and protection concerns”.

Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said the reported court ruling showed Australia “has been illegally detaining refugees on Manus Island for years”.

“The [Turnbull] government has got to shut the Manus Island detention camp and bring these people here… so that they can have their claims assessed and be integrated into the community,” she said.

“These people have been through enough. It’s time they were given the safety and care that they deserve.”

Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns said the decision was consistent with international law which stated that indefinite detention was unlawful.

The ruling also meant asylum seekers could likely make successful claims for damages for false imprisonment, and strengthened claims that Australia had breached its duty of care to asylum seekers.

“If Australia ignores the decision then it is contradicting its oft-stated claim that Manus Island detention is a matter for PNG jurisdiction,” he said.

Human Rights Watch Australia director Elaine Pearson said the ruling was a “massive victory for asylum seekers and refugees” who had been detained for almost three years.

“PNG’s Supreme Court has recognised that detaining people who have committed no crime is wrong. For these men, their only ‘mistake’ was to try to seek sanctuary in Australia – that doesn’t deserve years in limbo locked up in a remote island prison,” Ms Pearson said in a statement.

“It’s time for the Manus detention centre to be closed once and for all.”

She said the detention centre had caused “severe mental health impacts. These refugees have suffered enough, it’s time for them to finally move on and rebuild their lives in safety and dignity”.

In March, PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said the Manus Island detention centre must eventually close, and was a “problem” that had done more damage to his nation’s reputation than any other factor.

PNG Prime Minister Says Manus Island Detention Centre Will Close: here.

In what amounts to an indictment of the Australian political establishment, the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the imprisonment of refugees in an Australian-controlled detention facility on PNG’s remote Manus Island was unconstitutional: here.

Saving Beck’s petrels in Papua New Guinea


This video is called Beck’s Petrel, 19th April 2008, off NW Bougainville.

From BirdLife:

Finding Petrel: an eight day voyage of discovery

By Steve Cranwell, Fri, 15/04/2016 – 14:43

A small, dark seabird with a white underbelly faces almost certain extinction unless its nesting grounds are found. It is with this sense of obligation that an intrepid BirdLife International team sets off on an eight day voyage of discovery this weekend.

They will set out to sea on the trail of the Critically Endangered Beck’s Petrel Pseudobulweria becki somewhere near New Island and New Britain in Papua New Guinea. More than eighty years since it was first described, the species’ nesting grounds still remain unknown.

Team member Jez Bird explains that this means we need to act immediately: “Throughout the Pacific, we know that petrels have either disappeared from historic sites, or populations are declining on most of the islands where they cling on. The greatest threat has consistently been predation by invasive species, so finding the Beck’s Petrel nest sites is paramount to assessing their fortunes and launching any follow-up action.”

Beck’s Petrel has an estimated population size of 50-249 mature individuals. We do not have long to save their chicks and eggs from predation by invasive mammals.

As part of a Pacific-wide conservation initiative, Petrels in Peril, a new approach is being trialled to find the nesting grounds of Beck’s Petrel: it aims to capture birds at sea in order to fit small tracking devices. Team member Chris Gaskin has experienced success with this technique, having used it in helping discover the previously unknown nests of New Zealand Storm-petrel Fregretta maoriana.

As Chris clarifies, “This is the start of a long road, but the next couple of weeks will be crucial. Each time we attempt this there’s a lot to be learned. Will we find birds? Can we attract them close enough to capture? Will the tracking technology work? All vital questions, but after this trip we expect to have answers.”

Since their rediscovery at sea in 2007 by Hadoram Shirihai, successive trips have begun to reveal the whereabouts of Beck’s Petrel. While there is still very little known about the species, BirdLife’s work has honed in on a search area. The trip will focus its attention on the seas around the southern tip of New Ireland, one of Papua New Guinea’s remote Bismarck Islands. If the petrels are found, and if they can be attracted close enough, then a specially designed net will be deployed to capture the birds. Any birds caught will be quickly retrieved and their breeding condition assessed, the bird photographed and released safely back to sea.

“We do have a few additional tricks up our sleeve. If the conditions are right and the birds are there, we will be using every means possible to find out as much as we can about them this time round”, Chris adds. “The plan is to return in 2017 to fit transmitters that will ultimately allow us to identify where the birds raise their young on land.”

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is supporting conservation work throughout the islands of Papua New Guinea, the Solomons and Vanuatu. Beck’s Petrel is one of their focal species. Funded by CEPF this project is taking place in collaboration with local conservation group Ailan Awareness and the Wildlife Conservation Society and has the support of the New Ireland Provincial Government and the Conservation and Environment Authority of Papua New Guinea. With these organisations, the project is aiming to build a wider constituency to support future Becks Petrel conservation efforts. John Aini, head of Ailan Awareness affirmed: “We are stewards here on New Ireland. Every species represents part of a bigger picture that we’re dedicated to protecting for future generations. That’s why we’re supporting this important project.”

For further information about the Beck’s Petrel project please contact Steve.Cranwell@birdlife.org.

Rare nautilus seen for first time in 30 years


This video says about itself:

28 August 2015

The Allonautilus scrobiculatus has inhabited the earth for 500 million years and has only been seen twice, until now.

A rare species of nautilus, a marine mollusc, has been found by researchers for the first time in 31 years. It has been suggested that the Allonautilus scrobiculatus could be the rarest animal in the world.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rare nautilus sighted for the first time in 30 years

A rare nautilus has been sighted for the first time in three decades. Allonautilus scrobiculatus is a species of nautilus, marine animals that are small, distant cousins of squid and cuttlefish. They are an ancient lineage of animal, often christened a “living fossil” because their distinctive shells appear in the fossil record over an impressive 500 million year period.

The animal was first discovered by biologist Peter Ward and his colleague Bruce Saunders off of Ndrova Island in Papua New Guinea in 1984, when they realised that their differing gills, jaws, shell shape and male reproductive structures made them different to other nautilus species.

“Some features of the nautilus – like the shell giving it the ‘living fossil’ label — may not have changed for a long time, but other parts have,” said Ward. “It has this thick, hairy, slimy covering on its shell,” said Ward. “When we first saw that, we were astounded.”

This slimy nautilus turned out to be even more elusive than its siblings. Aside from another brief sighting by Saunders in 1986, Allonautilus disappeared until July 2015, when Ward returned to Papua New Guinea to survey nautilus populations.

“They swim just above the bottom of wherever they are,” said Ward. “Just like submarines, they have ‘fail depths’ where they’ll die if they go too deep, and surface waters are so warm that they usually can’t go up there. Water about 2,600 feet deep is going to isolate them.”

These restrictions on where nautiluses can go mean that populations near one island or coral reef can differ genetically or ecologically from those at another. The findings also pose a challenge for conservationists.

“Once they’re gone from an area, they’re gone for good,” said Ward.

Illegal fishing and “mining” operations for nautilus shells have already decimated some populations, Ward said. This unchecked practice could threaten a lineage that has been around longer than the dinosaurs were and survived the two largest mass extinctions in Earth’s history. As it stands now, nautilus mining could cause nautiluses to go extinct.”

Golden masked owl in Papua New Guinea, video


This video says about itself:

Golden Masked Owl @ Walindi Plantation Resort, Papua New Guinea

11 June 2015

New Britain Golden Masked Owl filmed onsite at Walindi Plantation Resort, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. This could be the first ever video of a very rare endemic owl. Video by Walindi’s General Manager Cheyne Benjamin, location discovered by Walindi’s bird guide Joseph Yenmorro.

New orchid species gets Jane Goodall’s name


This video is called Jane Goodall: A Retrospective.

Translated from the botanical garden in Leiden, the Netherlands:

Friday, October 3, 2014 10:10

Scientists of Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Hortus Botanicus Leiden have named an orchid that was discovered in 2003 during a collecting trip in Papua New Guinea by dr. EF de Vogel and Art Vogel after Jane Goodall: Dendrobium goodallianum.

Dendrobium goodallianum

The orchid blooms only one day and smells like coconut. Once the orchid blooms, it will be displayed behind glass to the public.

Currently Jane Goodall is in the top ten of the most influential women in the world. She is United Nations peace ambassador and travels the world 300 days a year to fight for the future of our endangered planet. The orchid was named after her because of her constant commitment to the preservation of biodiversity and her outstanding work in conservation.

See also here.

I certainly hope that the influence of famous primatologist and United Nations peace ambassador Jane Goodall will prevail over the influence of some influential, but not so constructive women. Though most warmongering is done by men, a few women like Samantha Power and Condoleezza Rice have done major harm to the cause of peace.

Asian fossil birds, new research


This video says about itself:

Two of Papua New Guinea‘s many birds of paradise – the Magificent and the King – put on an show of dancing and hanging upside down in spectacular courtship display.

By Hanneke J.M. Meijer:

The avian fossil record in Insular Southeast Asia and its implications for avian biogeography and palaeoecology

Abstract

Excavations and studies of existing collections during the last decades have significantly increased the abundance as well as the diversity of the avian fossil record for Insular Southeast Asia. The avian fossil record covers the Eocene through the Holocene, with the majority of bird fossils Pleistocene in age. Fossil bird skeletal remains represent at least 63 species in 54 genera and 27 families, and two ichnospecies are represented by fossil footprints. Birds of prey, owls and swiftlets are common elements.

Extinctions seem to have been few, suggesting continuity of avian lineages since at least the Late Pleistocene, although some shifts in species ranges have occurred in response to climatic change. Similarities between the Late Pleistocene avifaunas of Flores and Java suggest a dispersal route across southern Sundaland. Late Pleistocene assemblages of Niah Cave (Borneo) and Liang Bua (Flores) support the rainforest refugium hypothesis in Southeast Asia as they indicate the persistence of forest cover, at least locally, throughout the Late Pleistocene and Holocene.

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