Is Cambodia expanding protected areas by over a million hectares?

The expansion of 1.06 million hectares, or 2.62 million acres of protected land is in theory fantastic news. Unfortunately Cambodia has not shown that it is the best in protecting its land set aside for wildlife anyway.

A biodiverse corridor alongside land being used

Analysis suggests that much of this gained land appears to have come from nearby Biodiverse corridors, and many of these corridors are lived in and extremely degraded. As such, while it is a great move, it is just a first step. Instead Cambodia needs to be paying to move alll villages out of these corridors.

We will have to see what happens in the future. However what must be held in mind, is that changing the designation of land does nothing if action does not fallow – for an example look at Indonesia, where many parks are rapidly being transformed into palm oil plantations.

Ozone layer hole early – Antarctic sea ice in danger?

The fear is that, with the Tonga eruption, this larger than normal hole might do extra damage to the vast store of ice on Antactica.

The Antarctic Continent has about 30 million cubic kilometres of ice. If just a small amount melts were in trouble

Why is this concerning?

Well, given the Antarctic and the Greenland icesheet has enough ice to raise sea levels by 65m worldwide. This means a 5% melt in Antarctica would raise sea levels by several meters (even without any melting of Greenland at all).

This quantity of sea level rise, would threaten cities such as Shanghai and London, to large parts of Florida and Bangladesh to total nations that would be wiped out, such as Maldives.

This means that while it may well take a century and increased carbon emissions for all of the ice at the poles to melt, it could threaten human populations long before this occurs.

Around 410 million people on earth live within just 2m of the height of the sea. This is roughly 5% of human population. Currently, there are issues with just 2% immigration into the UK. A sea level rise of 2m would likely trigger an order of magnitude more to move here, Western Europe, USA and other countries. We are all going to be hit hard, but some far harder than others.

A flurry of wolves born in California: are they making a comeback?

Grey wolves from Oregon now appear to be thriving in California (where they disappeared from about 100 years ago).

Wolves and cubs in California

Wolves have never been reintroduced to California, instead they were returned to Yellowstone, re-entered Oregan back in 1999, and then entered California in 2008.

Short of a sudden sustained assault on their numbers, they are back in California and are likely to multiply over the next few decades to take back up their position as apex predators. This should not be feared in any way, with sensible management, it could end up benefiting California, with healthier ecosystems, less car crashes caused by wildlife amongst many other benefits.

Lauren Boebert in the USA has spouted some fear mongering about wolves, and I thought it worth looking at this issue

It is true, Wolves are hunters. More than that, they are incredibly successful hunters. They work as a team, have incredible endurance and a very high level of intelligence. This is perhaps why in the last few centuries their numbers have been greatly depleted.

In places like western Europe and the USA, they were close to extinction as a whole and had become locally extinct in much of their range. So is this fear mongering reasonable? Of course not.

Lauren Boebert spouts rubbish about wild wolves and how dangerous they are

Here she is talking about wolves in Colorado. She quoted figures of 500 attacks from 2002- the present, and stated that 30 people died in this time – scary numbers indeed. However, she was instantly fact-checked – those were the number of attacks around the world not just in the USA, only 1 death occurred there.

Of course, every death is sad, but to put it in perspective, each year 175-200 people die as a result of their car colliding with a deer. So over the same period, there were 3500-4000 car deaths as a result of deer – and wolf presence greatly reduces this, both by reducing the deer numbers, and creating a climate of fear, which makes deer stay away from open spaces, and so cross roads far less often.

Positive news from Borneo – reconnecting wilderness

One of the problems with cutting down rainforest, it often what is left is so fragmented that it is useless for conservation. Remaining blocks of forest must allow a viable population of the rarest creatures, in order for the animals not to need to travel outside protected areas.

In Borneo, like in Sumatra, there has been a rapid loss of rainforest over the last few decades. Often it is claimed that enough is left behind in order to conserve the animals that live there.

Could this provide a way for wildlife and humans to thrive in close proximity?

In Borneo, while there is still a large quantity of wilderness, this is increasingly fragmented.

Continue reading “Positive news from Borneo – reconnecting wilderness”

Humpback whale sighting off Cornwall first in summer for a long time

There has been a steady 1 or 2 sightings of humpback whales off the coast of Cornwall over the last 5 or so years – with Cornwall wildlife trust identifying 10 individuals. However the others have visited in the winter, so this might be an indication of a recovering population.

This one was encountered about 2 miles from shore, so would only be seen from a boat.

Unfortunately, there is still a great deal of recovery that this whale population has to do. At their lowest it is thought that there were only 700 in the North Atlantic, but that number is now 35,000. You might think that this is a fantastic recovery, but best estimates suggest that there were around 200,000 humpback whales in the 16th century, before whaling began, so the population could still grow to be 500% of its current size and still not have reached the number of individuals that once existed.

Still, it just makes it clear, whether on the land or at sea, keep your eyes peeled, many species are recovering, and you never know what you might spot.

You think pangolins greatest threat is the poaching? not everywhere, what is worse?

Pangolins are bizarre animals!

A wild pangolin out during the day, a rare site indeed Credit David Brossard

How many of you knew about a pangolin? How many of you knew about a pangolin before say 5 years ago when their poaching became big news.

Generally the reason that they are little known about, is that they are secretive, and one of the most strictly nocturnal animals in the bush.

Despite this, seizures of tonnes of pangolin scales are regularly made on the way to Vietnam or China (and other similar parts of Asia). To be clear, in pretty much all of these countries the authorities are making lots of effort to stamp out this trade.

So this is why it is so horrifying to hear that poaching is not the primary human cause of death.

Electric fences!

Now it should be noted, that there is a wide range of predators in the African bush. We all know about lions and leopards, and even cheetah.

What about the smaller species?

The caracal, and serval are both cats that are incredible jumpers, and as such usual fences will not cause them a problem as they can jump over. Black backed jackals? Well these canines, are essentially the equivalent of the northern hemispheres red fox. Certainly, it is true that these animals might be a threat, but they are too savvy to be blocked by a fence, and anyway, live happily both sides of the fence as it is.

Electric fences are used in South Africa far more than other countries in Southern Africa: South Africa has about 6,000,000km of fencing, while Botswana has 3000km and Namibia 1100km.

So what can be done?

Well Pangolins are not a tall animal, but tend to travel on their hind legs. Raising the lowest strand of this fence from 20cm to 30cm would likely eliminate these deaths.

Why are they specifically at risk? Very sadly, by walking on their hind legs they expose their belly, when on the move. They struggle to see the strands of the wire, so the first thing that they know is it touches their sensitive underside. What is worse, Pangolins roll up into a ball when scared, but in this case this does not help, as this will leave the pangolin hanging from the wire. As the shocks keep coming the pangolin stays, and often starves or dies of thirst.

Does the wolf belong in Germany? Not according to the CSU

The Christian Social Democrats believe that there is no place for wolves in Germany, and members of the party have called for their intentional extinction. Taking around 10% of the vote they are a small but relatively influential party – and given the way that elections work in Germany, coalitions are common. Unfortunately, coalitions will often give small parties an outsized voice, so this foolish position has the potential to become government policy faster than one would expect.

Having returned to Germany in 2000, there are now as much as 1500 wolves living within its borders
Continue reading “Does the wolf belong in Germany? Not according to the CSU”

New estimates suggest that up to 100 of Indian Lions now live by the seaside

The Gir forest was the last refuge of the Asiatic lion. Back in 1893 it was thought that there were only 18 animals remaining. Thankfully that number has rebounded very well (there are scientists who doubt this extremely low number) and the Indian lion population is now thought to number about 600. The problem is, that the reserve is not particularly large at 1410 square km (544 square miles). Even in the Serengeti (which has one of the highest density of lions) there is about 1 lion for every 2 square miles, yet the Gir forest has more than one per square mile. This contributes to a mortality rate that is dangerously high, with 283 lions dying in the last couple of years.

As such it is not surprising that many of the lions live outside the reserve, and is thought that around 1 in 4 live outside the reserve.

This was one of the reasons that efforts were made to move some of these lions to other reserves, but Gujarat has blocked this despite loosing various court cases.

Wild Indian lions photographed on the beach

Now, it is not easy to live alongside lions, and the state government is both endangering the long term survival of the Indian Asiatic lion, as well as many of its human population by its determination to hold onto the whole population within its borders.

Happy Easter! next step – and beavers on holiday

I have been away with my family for 10 days.

Hopefully a handful of videos will drop in the next few days, with an attempt to raise our profile so that we can do what we set off to do.

Our first week was spent down in Devon, near one of the beaver lodges. Interestingly, the guide I reached out to stated that they did not operate this early in the year, as the beavers emerge to late in the evening. We decided to go down late in the week, anyway, on the off-chance. In actual fact we spent a couple of hours each evening down on the river with wild beavers in front of us for a significant part of the time.

Beaver watching is great for both adults and children. While the beavers return is incredibly good for the future of British ecosystems, it can also have direct impacts for humans. It is true that for most farms (largely all those not based on a flood plain) they gain more from the presence of the beavers, in terms of reduced flooding, water table management and increased insect health (for pollination).

We are building our beaver watching page up further, do take a look

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