Collapse of the far Eastern Steppe ecosystem and what is being done to help its recovery

The Eurasian Steppe is a vast grassland that stretches in the West from Romania and Ukraine all the way through much of Russia to the Far East of the Eurasian continent. In the past this huge grassland supported vast populations of ungulates (hoofed animals). The damage to the ecosystem has been most severe in the far East of this huge wildlife habitat, in an area called the Eastern Steppe. Continue reading “Collapse of the far Eastern Steppe ecosystem and what is being done to help its recovery”

News in Brief – Dolphins breaking nets, frogs resistant to illness, and bad news for the Great Barrier Reef

Dolphins breaking fishing nets

Dolphin in the Western Mediterranean Sea have taken to breaking into fishing nets. While this is considered a serious problem it is thought that actually this is probably the fault of the fishermen. There is no limit on the quota that the fisherman from Cyprus are allowed to take. This is meaning that there simply aren’t enough fish left in the sea. What is more absurd about this is that local fisherman are highly critical of this policy and actually would like limits put in place so as to protect their income over the longer term and stop large boats coming in from elsewhere to decimate the future stock. Amusingly they have attempted pingers on the nets, in order to put the dolphins off. Unfortunately it appears that the dolphin rapidly worked out what these pingers meant and have taken to treating them as a dinner bell, coming in rapidly to feast. Continue reading “News in Brief – Dolphins breaking nets, frogs resistant to illness, and bad news for the Great Barrier Reef”

A new discovery about the astounding intelligence of Bonobos

For those of you who have not heard of Bonobos, they are a close relation to the Chimpanzee. The population of Chimpanzees and the population of Bonobos is split by the Congo River. It seems that as the Congo River formed it split the population of Chimpanzees in the far distant past, and the Chimpanzee like animals on one side continued to evolve as chimpanzees dominated by males. However on the other side of the river, they took a different path, these chimpanzees started to be dominated by the females and as such the way the communities behaved changed. Rather than regular aggression and violence, things changed so that when tension arose it was dealt with by sexual contact instead of by violence. The females in the Bonobo population are the dominant force and the males are kept carefully under control. Continue reading “A new discovery about the astounding intelligence of Bonobos”

Do 97% of climate change scientists believe in climate change?

While a 97% agreement rate amongst climate change scientists appears to be a very nice figure and reliable enough to base discussion of the future on, it seemed odd to me that 3% of the scientists disagreed. As such in this article I’m going to look at the study that was done which created this figure. I will also look at another study that was done more recently which suggests a far higher figure. Continue reading “Do 97% of climate change scientists believe in climate change?”

Ivory banned

The UK government has proposed a total ban on the sale of ivory. This is a very very good move. It is likely to lead to a significant cut in the ivory that comes into the UK. The problem that has occurred over the last few decades is that while it is legal to sell ivory from before 1947 it is almost impossible for anyone but experts to be able to tell when the ivory has actually come from. As such this means that great quantities of ivory products that have been created recently has then been disguised as antique ivory and has been illegally sold in the UK anyway. Continue reading “Ivory banned”

Wild dogs impacted by domestic dog illness

Image source Burrard-Lucas Photography

Wild dogs are one of the hardest species of the savannah ecosystem to protect. This is because they live at low densities. They have been exterminated by humans in the misguided belief that wild dogs were killing more of their domestic livestock than other predators and they are highly impacted by illnesses that they can get on the rare occasions they have contact with domestic dogs. The last of these is a particular problem as because wild dogs are highly sociable, when an illness enters a wild dog population it can rapidly spread throughout Continue reading “Wild dogs impacted by domestic dog illness”

Reptile watching in the UK

When one thinks of snakes and lizards, the UK is not the first place that it would occur to look for them, and indeed they tend to be rarer and less seen than in hotter countries. This is partly down to the climate here – reptiles are mostly cold blooded, which means that they get their heat from the environment. While they can survive low temperatures they are incapable of doing much until they warm up.

To add to their problems in the UK, much of the heathland and moors that made such good habitat in the past has been given over to housing and other destructive uses. Continue reading “Reptile watching in the UK”

The rise of rhino poaching within South Africa

In 2006 there were 36 rhinos poached within South Africa. This is important, as South Africa has the vast majority of remaining Southern White Rhinos living within its borders (over 90%). In 2007 only 13 were killed, and it was thought that the poaching problems for the rhino was largely over. Unfortunately was is not the case, 2007 was a success in terms of limiting rhino poaching but it did not last. Continue reading “The rise of rhino poaching within South Africa”