Local people driven off their land on the edge of protected reserves by their own government

In many countries around the world, on the creation of protected reserves, the local indigenous population were given reserves of their own (bordering the new national parks). The intention of this was to allow these people to continue living as they have for millennia.

In countries where many tourists go to see animals in the wild, these human reserves often have high amounts of game, but falling outside the reserve, the restrictions on what can be done in them is far looser. Continue reading “Local people driven off their land on the edge of protected reserves by their own government”

Attacks on electric cars

Despite a number of European countries setting a date to end the sale of combustion engine cars (I have written about the UK date for this), there are many people who do not believe that this fight is over.

The argument goes, electric cars use more resources to manufacture them. Coupled with the fact that most electricity is made by burning fossil fuels you are creating less carbon emissions to just drive a gas guzzler (the arguers suggest the most carbon intensive means of creating electricity). Continue reading “Attacks on electric cars”

News in brief – Canada nationalising Kinder Morgan pipeline and Waitrose singled out for failing to reduce waste

Canada nationalising kinder Morgan pipeline

Justin Trudeau has successfully made Canada look like an environmentally forward looking government,  but if this pipe gets nationalised all that is likely to go out the window. Continue reading “News in brief – Canada nationalising Kinder Morgan pipeline and Waitrose singled out for failing to reduce waste”

China’s plan for a huge panda reserve

China is in the process of creating a huge panda reserve covering 10,476 square miles.  This reserve is three times the size of Yellowstone National Park in the USA.

With all of the work saving the panda in China, it is surprising that the first reintroduction attempt was only 2006. Since then seven more have been reintroduced,  but out of these eight only five survived. Continue reading “China’s plan for a huge panda reserve”

Saving the Sumatran rhino

As with many rhino species the Sumatran rhino has had a tough period in the last 40 years (in 1976 it was thought there were still 800 Sumatran Rhinos left in the wild).  They were once found across Sumatra, Borneo, and other parts of Indonesia, all the way up into mainland Asia in places such as Cambodia and parts of Bhutan and China. The decline had been extraordinary, leaving a current population estimate of 100 on the optimistic side (thought more likely to be 30). This Rhino species it is thought to be the most prehistoric, being surprisingly similar to the woolly mammoth of Europe’s past, the sole remaining example of a species from the genus dicerorhinini.   Continue reading “Saving the Sumatran rhino”

Virunga National Park to close for two years

Virunga National Park the oldest national park in Africa is going to close to the public for two years after the most recent attack killed 12 guards as well as abducting two British tourists.

Over 180 Rangers have been killed in the Virungas over the last two decades including six in the most recent attack where the two tourists were taken. This is the worst single attack in the parks last two terrible decades.

The park covers 3000 square miles. In recent years it has been hard hit by both poaching and the Congo Civil War. The park contains 218 species of mammal that are known about, as well as 22 different species of primate – three of the great Apes, including lowland gorillas mountain gorillas (one third of the world’s remaining population) and Eastern chimpanzees. The Virungas contains populations of rare ungulates such as Okapis, and the Red Forest Duiker.

3 years ago the Congolese government gave oil rights, specifically to do prospective drilling throughout the park, to Soco International. The worldwide uproar was immediate and ferocious and eventually the company bowed to international pressure and gave up the rights.

However it would appear that the Global relief that the park was not going to be ravaged was premature. The licences have been given to a company called Oil Quest Holdings, which is based out of the Isle of Man, who has as a managing director the son of the director of Soco International.

Without the pressure of constant troops of high paying tourists seeing the state of the forest it is highly probable that that there will be an increase in poaching as well as potentially large amounts of environmental damage done, indeed an analysis of the oil reserves under the park is almost impossible to do without doing some damage to the park.

Pressure must be maintained on the government of the DRC to make sure that this does not happen.

Amphibian epidemic: end in sight?

In Panama, a study has analysed a number of frog populations that appear to have developed a resistance to chytrid fungus.

This fungus has spread rapidly around the world, since the 1980s and has decimated many species’ numbers. It is thought at least 100 are gone forever.

What was particularly problematic was that it affected all frogs and salamanders,  and crossed from species to species without noticeable pause. Imagine an epidemic in which a cow herd could get an illness, and any people going nearby getting it as well. Given the difficulty of stopping infection amongst a human epidemic, this would likely be catastrophic.

While a resistance in the wild population is fantastic, supporting the many species’ highly depleted (but not wiped out) populations has just got far harder. The surviving wild population is now capable of fighting off infection, the captive population is not.

Reintroducing rare animals is a time consuming, complex job. With some of these species, it may be simpler to start the captive population again, however given the small wild population you are starting with this is likely to be a highly dangerous decision,  as not all captive breeding attempts are successful.

News in Brief – Reduction in the carbon cost of smelting aluminium, mysterious rise in banned ozone depleting chemicals, does the UK really need until 2040 to stop selling hydrocarbon powered cars?

Reduction in the carbon cost of smelting aluminium

At the moment aluminium smelting is a process which uses carbon dioxide, as an ingredient,  which is then released.  New technology has been developed that will drastically cut carbon emissions from aluminium production. This is such a carbon intensive process that the change will save 6.5 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions a year in Canada alone. Continue reading “News in Brief – Reduction in the carbon cost of smelting aluminium, mysterious rise in banned ozone depleting chemicals, does the UK really need until 2040 to stop selling hydrocarbon powered cars?”