Articles Posted in the Green News category

News briefs: Biofuels and ivory

October 30, 2008
Posted in Green News

  • African governments need to prioritise the “new challenge” presented by biofuels as the continent’s arable land is increasingly being used to grow crops for biofuels instead of food, South Africa’s new president, Kgalema Motlanthe, reportedly told African leaders at the African Peer Review Forum in Benin over the weekend. [BuaNews] He said he did not oppose the production of biofuels. But in some cases the potential for cleaner energy was being put before considerations of widespread hunger and opportunities from other types of land use. He said biofuels projects should be located within broader land reform strategies that needed to be developed and driven by African governments and peoples themselves.
  • The Namibian government sold 7.2 tons of ivory for $1.2 million in Tuesday’s auction – an average price of $164 a kilo, according to Reuters. The price was apparently much lower than experts had predicted – predictions had ranged from $300 to $800 a kilo, the report said. Nonetheless, The Namibian reports that the Namibian government was pleased with the money generated. About 2 tonnes of the stockpiled ivory was not sold because it was of poor quality, say reports. The money will be put into the Namibian environment ministry’s Game Product Trust Fund, which funds conservation work, the Namibian says. The next ivory auction will be in Botswana tomorrow. And the debate continues over whether such auctions will help elephant conservation or lead to more poaching.

eBay bans ivory

October 22, 2008
Posted in Conservation

eBay has decided to ban the sale of elephant ivory products from January 2009 and has called on all other Internet traders to do the same, a move that has been congratulated by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

IFAW says that the trade in wildlife on the Internet poses a significant and immediate threat to the survival of elephants and many other endangered species. In a report released this week the group tracked more than 7,000 wildlife product listings on 183 websites in 11 countries. eBay was responsible for almost two-thirds of the online trade in wildlife products worldwide.

According to the IFAW report, Killing with Keystrokes: An Investigation of the Illegal Wildlife Trade on the World Wide Web, more than 70 percent of all endangered species’ products listed for sale on the Internet are in the United States. The trade tracked in the US was nearly 10 times that tracked in the next two leading countries, the United Kingdom and China.

Elephant ivory made up 73 percent of the products tracked and exotic birds nearly 20 percent. But IFAW said that primates, big cats and other animals are also falling victim to the e-trade in live animals and wildlife products.

Despite the fact that the saie of ivory has been illegal since 1989, website are “teeming with ivory trinkets, bracelets, and even whole tusks for sale”, said IFAW. And every year, more than 20,000 elephants are illegally slaughtered in Africa and Asia to meet demand for ivory products.

Animal news in brief

August 22, 2008
Posted in Conservation

ELEPHANT MASSACRE IN THE CONGO: Poachers have killed a fifth of the elephants in the DRC’s Virunga National Park this year, Reuters reports. The park lies in eastern DRC on the border with Rwanda and Uganda. Read the full story.

SA PLAN TO SAVE THE SEABIRDS: The department of environmental affairs and tourism has launched a plan of action to help prevent seabirds from being killed by the fishing industry. More than 28 species of albatross and petrel have been recorded caught by South African fisheries. Thirteen of them are threatened with extinction. The National Plan of Action for Reducing the Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Long-line Fisheries (NPOA-Seabirds) illustrates the country’s commitment to managing seabirds and fisheries responsibly, says DEAT.

Also this week, the WWF released a report which it says underscores the need for international co-operation on preventing seabird deaths. Dr Samantha Petersen, manager of the WWF Responsible Fisheries Programme, “This report substantially improves our understanding of the circumstances under which seabirds are killed and for the first time reports on experiments conducted in South African waters to develop techniques to reduce seabird bycatch under local conditions.” Read more on WWF site

LONESOME GEORGE, LONESOME NO MORE?: Lonesome George got his name because he is the last remaining Pinta Island tortoise. For years researchers have been hoping that he would breed with a tortoise from a similar Galapagos subspecies at the research station where he has lived since 1972. George has two female companions in his corral, but scientists seem to have struggled to coax him to reproduce. But there appears to have been a breakthrough because two nests containing eggs have reportedly been found in George’s corral. Eight eggs have been incubated and fingers are crossed that genetic tests will show that George is the father. Read more on the Galapagos Conservancy website

DNA could help combat elephant poaching

August 5, 2008
Posted in Conservation

Seized tusks. Photograph W Clark

Africa’s elephants are being slaughtered for their ivory at such an alarming rate that most remaining large groups will be extinct by 2020, says Samuel Wasser, a conservation biologist at the University of Washington. Yet the public is unaware of the seriousness of the situation, he says.

Wasser’s lab has developed DNA tools that allow ivory to be traced back to the elephant population from which it came.

According to a UW news report, Wasser’s team found using DNA tracking that 6.5 tons of ivory shipped from Malawi and seized in Singapore in 2002, actually came originally from an area centered on Zambia. A 2006 shipment of 3.9 tons seized in Hong Kong had been sent from Cameroon, but DNA forensics showed it came from an area centered on Gabon.

Wasser says that DNA evidence gathered from recent major ivory seizures shows conclusively that hunters are targeting specific herds. This means that law enforcement can be focused on poaching hot spots. But that will only happen if there is sufficient public pressure to marshal funding for a much larger international effort to halt the poaching, says Wasser.

The illegal ivory trade is being carried out mostly by large crime syndicates, Wasser believes, and is being driven by growing markets in China and Japan, where ivory is in demand for carvings and signature stamps called hankos. Demand has also risen sharply in the United States in recent years, where it is used to make knife handles and gun grips.

See also Science Now Daily News

Via :: Science Daily

News in brief

March 22, 2008
Posted in Green News

Elephant trouble – Kenyan conservationist Richard Leakey has given his “qualified backing” for South Africa’s lifting of the ban on elephant culling. The new elephant management norms and standards were announced on February 28. He told the BBC that it was a “necessary part of elephant population management”. But he also said that South Africa had a responsibility to curb human activities that impinge on elephant habitat. Read more at BBC.

Water trouble – Many conflicts around the world erupt or are worsened by water shortages, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote in an opinion piece this week. And population growth and climate change are only going to make things worse. So, we urgently need to use water more efficiently and share it more fairly . “International Alert has identified 46 countries, home to 2.7 billion people, where climate change and water-related crises create a high risk of violent conflict. A further 56 countries, representing another 1.2 billion people, are at high risk of political instability,” according to Ban. From Environment News Service

Pollution on the move – Nasa has found that about 15 percent of the pollution over the Western United States and Canada actually originates in East Asia. What’s more it moves pretty quickly – pollution from forest fires or industry in East Asia can reach the western US in about a week. But you can’t simply blame East Asia for the pollution levels, says one scientist, some of it also originates in Europe, North America and elsewhere in the world. Environment News Service