For another month the Royal Geographical Society are holding an exhibition of photographs taken by a group of people who spent a considerable length of time exploring the Rwenzori mountains. The exhibition is in London, at the North end of Exhibition Road.
Despite a pledge by the UK government in 2013 to halt lion trophy imports there are still roughly five a year being imported into the UK. While this doesn’t sound like much, a number of things need to be held in mind.
Will Burrard Lucas, a British wildlife photographer, has taken the wildlife jackpot shot and managed to photograph a wild black leopard in Africa, in Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya.
Her took the photo in Kenya, on a camera trap he had set up. Black leopards (as with jaguars, servals, tigers and other cats) are normal leopards which have an extremely rare recessive gene. Given that the gene in question is recessive it is rare that a leopard would have both parents carrying the recessive gene and so ends up black.
In specific parts of the world, black leopards are far less rare – on the Malaysian peninsula as much as half of the leopards are black. However, these leopards live in dark jungles which means there is more dark shadows for the leopards top hide in. This means that there is a higher advantage for black leopards, making them more likely to have many young.
While leopards are active mostly at night, and therefore black leopards can be easier camouflaged, for savannah leopards they need to be able to hide during the day. Although they mostly lie up a tree during the day, a black leopard is more visible.
Andrew Wheeler was appointed by Donald Trump to be the head of the Environmental Protections Agency, taking on the role permanently in January 2019. When asked, Wheeler stated that he did not believe the climate change was the greatest crisis. This clearly isn’t really a person that should be put in a position of this responsibility in this field. He also claimed this is a problem that can be only dealt with globally, but the fact is that this global community is trying to do exactly that, and that America is one of the only countries who have refused to sign up to that attempt. He is intentionally ignoring the fact that as EPA chief he can do an awful lot, but clearly this is not something that matters to him.
The RSPO (Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil) has finally decided that deforestation is not sustainable. This has always been a serious concern about the RSPO as there is no way that deforestation can ever be classed as sustainable (by definition if it relies on cutting down rainforest, what happens when it runs out?).
The Nunavut government has put together a report looking into polar bear Inuit interactions. The report suggests that population growth has pushed the polar bears into close proximity with the Inuits and the result of this is likely to be more and more clashes and potentially deaths of humans.
The Chinese government has put off a difficult decision it has to make on whether to lift the ban on trade in rhino horn and tiger body parts. Trade was banned back in 1993, but in October they announced that they would allow these parts to be used for scientific medicinal and cultural reasons.
The mountain gorilla and the fin whale have been reassessed and their conservation status had been found to not accurately show their position.
In the case of mountain gorillas, this is understandable. In 2008 the mountain gorilla population numbered approximately 680, the most recent number was around 1000. That is an increase of roughly 50% in just a decade. As such they have been moved from critically endangered to endangered. Mountain gorillas are only found in two reserves and so the population will always be delicate, but clearly for the time being, with less instability in the region they are doing well. Given the wars and issues of this region, though, this position could change very fast.
Jair Bolsorano has only been the president of Brazil for two weeks and they have a similarly long time between election and inauguration that the United States does. Unfortunately even in that extremely short period of time he has already demonstrated a willingness and determination to be as bad for the environment as he was expected to be when he ran.
I wrote a few months ago about a move that the UK government had made to reduce the amount paid to solar panel owners for the excess power fed back into the grid to zero. This was an odd move, to suggest that multi-million pound energy suppliers should get energy for free from people off the street who have managed to afford some solar panels seems bizarre. The idea that the reward for doing the right thing on the environment was to give your energy supplier large amounts of electricity but actually then still have to pay them for any used outside sunlight hours and not be paid a penny for the large amount that you give them while you’re out at work was odd.