Cricket News We can’t bring lives back, says helpless Vaas on Lankan blasts

first_imgHearth has 433 Test wickets.Sri Lankan authorities arrested 24 people in connection with the blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in the island nation on Easter Sunday, killing over 290 people and injuring around 500 others.Vaas and his former teammate Herath were in the city to inaugurate a local T20 cricket tournament organised by Jwala Singh.Herath, one of the best left-arm spinners of his time, said his country needs to stay strong during such times. “We need to convey our deepest sympathies and condolences. As Chaminda said, we are a united country. We kind of have a panic situation but (we are sure that) we(will) become a strong country,” he added.Vaas expressed confidence that the situation would be normal again in Sri Lanka.”This attack can happen anywhere in the world. We saw in New Zealand recently as well. These people don’t have simply one place (and) they can attack anywhere in the world. I am pretty sure that things will go back to normal,” Vaas remarked. Mumbai: “We cannot bring lives back,” said an utterly helpless Chaminda Vaas Tuesday as thoughts of the multiple blasts that killed nearly 300 and  shattered Sri Lanka’s tranquility, crossed the former cricket star’s mind. Yearning for normalcy, Vaas and his colleague Rangana Herath said the need of the hour is to stay strong and united.”So sad to see. We never thought these kind of things will happen in Sri Lanka.It is a lovely country and hospitable. People are very friendly. It is so tragic to see such things happen,” Vaas told reporters here.”We need to rebuild. We can rebuild churches or hotels but we can’t bring lives back. I am sure the Sri Lankan government and the people will be very united this time and make sure that we stick together,” said the former left-arm pacer with 400 ODI and 355 Test wickets. We cannot bring lives back said an utterly helpless Chaminda Vaas.Chaminda Vaas expressed his deepest sympathies and condolences to the families affected. Sri Lanka blasts took place on Sunday.  highlights For all the Latest Sports News News, Cricket News News, Download News Nation Android and iOS Mobile Apps.last_img read more

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GamCare backs London problem gambling service

first_img GambleAware forms ‘Lived Experience Group’ supporting treatment research July 23, 2020 Submit Share Share StumbleUpon Related Articles UKGC launches public awareness campaign on gambling controls, rights and safeguards August 3, 2020 GamCare will continue to support those afflicted by problem gambling after backing a new NHS Primary Care Gambling Service (PCGS) which has opened in London.The new service will give problem gamblers access to a multidisciplinary team of mental health nurses, GPs, GamCare treatment practitioners and therapists. It will also work alongside GPs to improve awareness of problem gambling, offering guidance on how to identify and support problem gamblers.Starting in South East London (Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham, Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich) there is a plan to expand the service further in the next few months.The PCGS will work alongside the National Gambling Treatment Service to support problem gamblers, with GamCare having developed an ‘integrated care pathway’.A Competency Framework for gambling treatment in primary care is also being developed by the PCGS, which is being funded by GambleAware.The new framework will set out the skills and experience needed for practitioners in this field and is a project being taken forward in association with the Royal College of General Practitioners.London’s primary care service will be led by NHS General Dr Clare Gerada who commented on the launch: “There is evidence that many people who have problems related to gambling are in contact with their GP, but don’t necessarily talk about their gambling. We will be exploring how to identify them, and how to help them get access to the treatment that is right for them. We know from other areas of work that people value the option of getting treatment in primary care settings.” GambleAware data finds stigma to be key barrier to treatment for women July 16, 2020last_img read more

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Stylish jumping spider named after late fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld

first_imgResearchers have named a previously undescribed species of black-and-white jumping spider Jotus karllagerfeldi, after the late fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld, known for his signature black-and-white style.In addition to Karl Lagerfeld’s jumping spider, researchers have described four more new-to-science species of jumping spiders in the new paper, including J. albimanus, J. fortiniae, J. moonensis and J. newtoni.All five newly described species belong to a group of miniscule spiders called the brushed jumping spiders, males of which can be extremely colorful and are known to perform elaborate mating dances using a brush of long, colorful bristles on their legs to wave to the females.Despite being colorful and charismatic, very little is known about brushed jumping spiders, researchers say, urging amateurs who photograph these spiders to lodge their specimens with museums so that more new species can be described. If there’s an iconic image of the late Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director of Chanel and Fendi, it’s his signature black-and-white style: white ponytail, black sunglasses, black-and-white suit with high, detachable white-collared shirts.That’s also the look being sported by a tiny black-and-white jumping spider species from Australia, according to a new study.The arachnid, named Jotus karllagerfeldi after the style czar, has large black eyes that resemble sunglasses, and short black-and-white appendages called pedipalps next to its jaw, which resemble a Kent collar.“Karl Lagerfeld inspired us with his unique sense of design and this new spider with big black eyes and white kent collar reminds us of his later looks — a fashion icon in black and white,” researchers write in the paper.A newly described brushed jumping spider species, Jotus karllagerfeldi. Image by Mark Newton/CeNak.In addition to Karl Lagerfeld’s jumping spider, Barbara Baehr, an arachnologist at Queensland Museum, and her colleagues described four more new-to-science species of jumping spiders, including J. albimanus, J. fortiniae, J. moonensis and J. newtoni. The specimens of all five species were drawn from museum collections.All five newly described species belong to a group of miniscule spiders called brushed jumping spiders. The males of these spiders can be black-and-white or extremely colorful, with iridescent turquoise and orange patterns, and are known to perform elaborate mating dances using a brush of long, colorful bristles, known as setae, on their legs to wave to the females.“The males perform unique dance rituals with their brilliantly decorated first pair of legs to attract females,” co-author Joseph Schubert, a jumping-spider taxonomist at Monash University, said in a statement. “These five new species are close relatives of the Australian peacock spiders which also perform courtship dances for females. This courtship behaviour makes them a crowd favourite and has popularised jumping spiders worldwide.”Despite being colorful and charismatic, “almost nothing is known about their diversity and taxonomic identity,” Baehr said.The researchers add that while museum collections tend to have few specimens of brushed jumping spiders, these arachnids are often photographed and posted online by naturalists. “We make a first effort here by re-illustrating old species and revising the specimens available at the Queensland Museum but we urge amateurs to lodge their specimens with museums so that the countless new species that are already photographed and available online can be described,” the authors write. “This is also important because large series of specimens are needed to match males and females in these sexually dimorphic spiders.”Members of the jumping spider genus Jotus can be very colorful. Images by Robert Whyte (Jotus fortiniae sp. nov., top row) and Michael Doe (unidentified species, bottom row)/CeNak.Banner image of Jotus karllagerfeldi and late Karl Lagerfeld by Mark Newton, CeNak, and Siebbi (modification by CeNak), respectively.Citation:Baehr, B. C., Schubert, J., & Harms, D. (2019). The Brushed Jumping Spiders (Araneae, Salticidae, Jotus L. Koch, 1881) from Eastern Australia. Evolutionary Systematics, 3, 53. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Shreya Dasguptacenter_img Animals, Arachnids, Biodiversity, Conservation, Environment, Green, Happy-upbeat Environmental, New Species, Research, Species Discovery, Spiders, Wildlife last_img read more

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Venezuelan crisis: Caring for priceless botanical treasures in a failed state

first_imgBotany, Conservation, data collection, Drought, Earth Science, Economics, Environmental Economics, Global Environmental Crisis, Orchids, Plants, Rainforest Conservation, Research, Science, Trees, Tropical Conservation Science, Tropical Forests Article published by Glenn Scherer Venezuela’s Botanical Garden of Caracas was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Its 70-hectare (173-acre) garden, National Herbarium and Henri Pittier Library are considered a national, and international treasure, and a vital repository of Latin American and global natural history utilized frequently by researchers.But a devastating drought that started two years ago, plus massive thefts of equipment (ranging from air conditioners to computers, plumbing and even electrical wiring), plus a failed electrical and public water supply, have all combined to threaten the Garden’s priceless collections.The annual botanical garden budget has been slashed to a mere $500 per year, which has forced staff to rely on innovative conservation solutions which include crowd funding to pay for rainwater cisterns, as well as volunteer programs in which participants contribute not only labor, but irrigation water they bring from home.As Venezuela’s government grows increasingly corrupt and incompetent, and as the national economy spirals out of control with hyperinflation topping 1.7 million percent in 2018, the botanical garden’s curators have no ready answers as to how to go about preserving the rare plants they tend on into the future. The Botanical Garden of Caracas, past and present: Seen in the glowing-green banner image at the top of this webpage as it once appeared, and above dry and desiccated as it looks today, is a portion of the Palmetum collection, formerly renowned for its 4,000 specimens and 250 species of palm and orchid, mostly from Latin America. Image by Jeanfreddy Gutiérrez Torres. Banner image by Alejandro Matheus CC BY-SA 3.0.Without water, life itself is impossible: the staff of the Botanical Garden of Caracas has labored against this natural edict for more than two years, as the UNESCO World Heritage Site struggles to keep its precious international plant collection alive against severe drought, a failed city electrical and water supply, and amidst one of the worst humanitarian emergencies ever endured by a Latin American nation.The Garden, in Spanish known as the Jardín Botánico de Caracas, is part of the Universidad Central de Venezuela, Central University of Venezuela, campus, and was declared a World Heritage Site in 2000. At its height, the Garden conserved more than 2,500 species corresponding to roughly 200 botanical families, of which 50 percent were endemic to Venezuela, with the rest coming from Central America, Africa, India and other parts of Asia and South America. Its Palmetum was renowned for having one of the finest collections of palms in Latin America, housing some 4,000 specimens of about 250 species.But year-by-year, day-by-day, this natural treasure house has become increasingly impoverished, with many exotic plants, dozens of native and endemic species such as orchids and palms dead or dying due to a lack of irrigation, or overrun by grasses.The gardens’ largest lake, constructed in the shape of Venezuela and covered in immense flowering water lilies, was half emptied by July of 2018, according to Reuters. Dead is one of the lake’s most prized and celebrated species, the giant 2.4-meter (8 feet) wide, Santa Cruz water lily (Victoria amazonica), so big and buoyant it can support a child’s weight.Thousands of liters of water are regularly transported, typically by hand, to keep lagoon plants alive, though many have died. Image by Jeanfreddy Gutiérrez Torres.A portion of the Venezuela Lagoon as it appeared before the nation’s economic crisis, and before the Jardín Botanico de la Caracas fell on hard times. Image by Warairarepano & Guaicaipuro CC0.A long, grinding crisisThe garden’s decline began well before the current Venezuelan economic crisis. The El Niño drought of 2010 and the invasion of the giant African snail seriously impacted this urban oasis, located near the center of the city of Caracas beside the Francisco Fajardo Highway. But those crises were a mere prequel to the current dysfunctionality now suffered by the facility according to its director, Jan Tillett, a Venezuelan agronomist who has worked at the Garden for 16 years.Founded in 1945 and opened to the public in 1958, the Botanical Garden of Caracas occupies 70 hectares (173 acres), with its value greatly enhanced by the Henri Pittier Library with its 6,000 volumes, and by the National Herbarium — all of these holdings are administered by the National Botanical Institute of Venezuela Foundation.These day, the staff of all three entities are crammed into common spaces because their office complexes lack basic services. As the Venezuelan economic crisis deepened in 2017, a wave of robberies deprived the Garden’s facilities of their air conditioners, water pumps, refrigerators, computers and other important tools, leaving the institution’s infrastructure in a precarious condition. That year the Venezuelan National Guard was ordered to withdraw its protection from the Garden and many surrounding Caracas neighborhoods in order to face the massive citizen protests against the controversial and notoriously corrupt government of Nicolás Maduro who was elected president in 2013.At the time, Garden officials made 21 formal complaints to authorities and pleaded for help, to no avail. “Everything was stolen,” Tillett laments. “Bilge pumps, clippers, hoses, a power plant, and even the ceilings, but the police did nothing.” Petty thefts have continued to occur daily.There is virtually no money available with which to replace the losses. The Garden received an operating budget for 2019 totaling 3 million bolivars, the equivalent of 500 dollars. Meanwhile, bureaucratic breakdowns have become so severe that the elapsed time between the approval of building permits and the execution of maintenance can be so long that Venezuela’s hyperinflation (1.7 million percent during 2018), can consume all the money before a hand is raised to accomplish a task.Then there are the issues surrounding water. “The last time water entered the [facilities’] pipelines was between January 14 and 16 this year,” laments Tillett.That drastic lack spawned a social media campaign to raise funds to pay for 200 water cisterns to supply vital water to aquatic plant lagoons and to perform manual irrigation. A volunteer program was also created and is coordinated by the garden’s chief researcher, Yaroslavi Espinoza. Volunteers not only do maintenance, they bring water from home in bottles to irrigate plants.As trees have died due to water scarcity, the Garden’s staff have chopped them down, leaving stumps. Image by Jeanfreddy Gutiérrez Torres.The lush Jardin Botanico Caracas grounds as they once appeared before being ravaged by drought and the deepening Venezuelan economic crisis. Image by ruurmo CC BY-SA 2.0.Lack of water takes its tollDespite these heroic efforts, a visit to the once magnificent Garden is cause for gloom. Near its entrance a large lagoon now sits dry and empty. Nearby, numerous stumps are a reminder of tropical tees felled at death. Other water-stressed trees stand with bare branches, or festooned with dying leaves, surrounded by yellowing grass.The ethnobotanical garden area, which should exhibit plants with medicinal and gastronomic uses, looks like an abandoned farm with dead fruit trees, a common sight these days in the Venezuelan countryside. One small lagoon has been filled up from cisterns and boasts a few aquatic species, but several others stand empty, damaged by recent earth tremors in Caracas. “The scientist in charge of these species has reproduced some of them and taken them to other places so that they do not get lost,” explains the Gardens’ director.But such efforts continue to be undermined. “We lost all the seedlings that were in the main nursery outside the exhibition area, where [thieves] stole the roof, so having their [water] tank full was worthless,” says Tillett. The plants died under a baking tropical sun. The staff tried to reactivate a fifty-year-old deep well, but could raise no water, probably due to the long drought and the theft of electrical wiring that operated water pumps. Since the wave of countrywide blackouts in March of this year, many city pumping stations have stopped working, making water supply problems even more intractable.Still, all is not lost. Tillett’s team has been able to conserve several species of palms of the genus Cicadas, and pines in the so-called Paleozoic Garden and the Arboretum, where trees tens of meters tall have stayed green thanks to the moist microclimate they themselves generate. Despite everything, the Garden still attracts visitors and lots of birds. “There are parrots, macaws, guacharacas (Ortallis genus) and white herons,” the director says.Daily work in the National Herbarium is ongoing as its curators strive to preserve invaluable botanical samples. Image by Jeanfreddy Gutiérrez Torres.Twenty years of samples waiting to be prepared and filed within the Caracas Botanical Garden herbarium. Image by Jeanfreddy Gutiérrez Torres.Plagued herbarium The National Herbarium has its own unique problems. Its immense botanical collection is being devoured by ladybugs. The lack of a cooling system has imperiled the samples of 450,000 plant species once well protected within the herbarium. As a result, a pest, the cigarette beetle (Lasioderma serricona) now infests almost all the samples of Venezuela’s lichens, fungi, algae and other vegetal biodiversity.The theft of nine air conditioners, dehumidifiers, furniture, shelves and computers forced Dr. Neida Avendaño, Herbarium director since 2017, to get creative. In order to protect samples from infestation, he ordered the storage of each in a plastic bag. At first, paradichlorobenzene mothballs were added to each container, but cheaper naphthalene was later substituted. Unfortunately for the plants, tropical heat and drought evaporate the mothballs quickly, forcing Avendaño and researcher Dr. Omaira Hokche to check and replenish the bags often, in a tedious and frustrating daily routine.Avendaño underscores the critical importance of protecting the museum research collection’s 750 typus and paratypus (a specimen of an organism that helps define the scientific name of a species and other taxon characteristics), along with 520 historical samples, some from the 17th century.The collection “has historical, genetic and scientific importance,” says Avendaño. “I worked here twenty years ago in research. Botanists, doctors and chefs come [to the herbarium] to request samples to investigate.” But even with the help of a private donation from a German researcher, there are still 20 years-worth of stacked samples awaiting protection.In the failed state of Venezuela, getting outside help for one of the world’s great botanical collections has been complicated and slowed by the nation’s cumbersome bureaucratic processes. Avendaño waits patiently in hope of assistance from the international scientific community, but she worries that help will not come. “I think they really do not believe that we work without water, without electricity, without toilets, building a database [working from home] with our [own personal] computers,” she concludes.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.Neida Avendaño, director of the National Herbarium, checks precious botanical samples every day. Image by Jeanfreddy Gutiérrez Torres.center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

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Microplastic waste fouls up beaches on Sri Lanka’s southern tourism coast

first_imgMicroplastics Beaches along Sri Lanka’s southern coast, a tourism hotspot, are increasingly being contaminated with microplastic pollution, a survey has found.The study found that 60 percent of sand samples and 70 percent of surface water samples from 10 survey sites contained an abundance of microplastics up to 4.5 millimeters (0.18 inches) in size.The researchers have called for meticulous waste management initiatives, regulating the use of plastics, and further studies to ascertain the magnitude of the pollution caused by plastic waste. Sri Lanka’s southern coastline is dotted with popular resorts and beaches, but this once pristine landscape hasn’t been spared by the global plastic waste crisis, a study finds.The authors of the paper, published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, studied 10 locations along a 91-kilometer (57-mile) stretch of the Indian Ocean island’s southern coast to assess the magnitude of the problem.They found that 60 percent of the sand samples and 70 percent of the surface water samples they collected contained an abundance of microplastics, or MPs, compounding the environmental pressure on a coastline ravaged by the 2004 tsunami and constantly battling against coastal erosion.The problem is just the tip of the iceberg, says lead author J.  Bimali Koongolla, a marine scientist at the  University of Ruhuna in Sri Lanka.“Microplastic waste is becoming a serious environmental problem in Sri Lanka, once considered an island state with unblemished pristine beaches,” she told Mongabay. “The seas are getting contaminated, and beyond environmental, this poses a severe health hazard as it impacts food chains.”She attributed the rising levels of microplastics in the seas and beaches to be poor waste management and an inability to break away from age-old littering practices.“The use of plastics is increasing non-biodegradable waste production. These plastics eventually get washed into the seas, polluting the very environment [local communities] depend on for sustenance,” Koongolla said.The sand sampling sites for the study on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. Image by Earth View Maps.Recreational beaches under threatThe sites worst affected by plastic pollution were Dondra, Weligama and Ambalangoda, all in Southern province, due to significant recreational activity as well as fishing.While recreational beaches had high levels of MPs, more remote beaches and fishing ports also exhibited large amounts of microplastic pollution as well as plastic debris, the researchers found.The size of MPs in surface water and beaches ranged from 1.5 to 2.5 millimeters (0.06 to 0.1 inches) and 3 to 4.5 millimeters (0.12 to 0.18 inches), respectively. Most were identified as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), with some polystyrene (PS) foam being also being discovered at a few sites.Researchers found an overall higher abundance of MPs on the beaches than in the waters, while samples from the ports indicated higher levels of MP pollution in the surface water.When sediments were analyzed, the popular and congested recreational beaches appeared to have more microplastic litter. The busy public beach of Weligama was the most polluted by count (157 microplastic items per square meter) as well as weight (5.98 grams per square meter).Though busy recreational beaches like Weligama are cleaned routinely, the process only removes the larger debris and risks burying microplastics even deeper in the sand.The fishing ports in Dondra and Ambalangoda also showed high concentration of MPs by count and weight in the surface water. “This is due to high levels of gear handling and other activities,” Koongolla said.She added that at the three sites classified as remote beaches, there was little or no polystyrene found, and only one of them yielded high counts of MPs in the sand. “This is largely due to storm activity depositing water-borne and land-based debris via runoff,” Koongolla said.Researcher J. Bimali Koongolla conducts a beach survey near the Dondra Harbor. Image courtesy of Kasun Indika.Role of riversKoongolla said that while tourism had flourished in Sri Lanka’s south, good waste management practices have not been introduced.“South has traditionally had a high density of tourist activity, along its coast,” she said. “While we cannot confirm if any MP samples we collected originated in the sea from fisheries or commercial vessels or on land, we can confirm that these beaches are used heavily due to increased tourist activity and tend to leave a lot of visible plastic debris.”Researchers also say there is a dire need to identify the sources of microplastic pollution. This includes determining the role of rivers in transporting MPs into the ocean. “Once we narrow down the localities that are particularly polluting, it is easier to introduce waste management initiatives and to take other preventive action. These can vary from restriction of single-use plastics to having better recycling centers,” Koongolla said.The study came out just before findings from a 2018 survey — commissioned by the National Aquatic Resources Agency (NARA) and supported by Norway’s Institute of Marine Research (IMR) and carried out on the Norwegian research vessel Fridtjof Nansen — were published in January.The survey, the first of its kind in 40 years, found that nearly four-fifths of small pieces of the plastic waste in Sri Lanka’s territorial waters arrived via rivers and canals, said Terney Pradeep Kumara, general manager of the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA).“This means only about one fifth of waste is sea-originated microsplastic wastage, caused by fishermen dumping plastic in mid-sea and oil spills from ships,” said Kumara, also a co-author of the southern coastal study.Following the Nansen survey, Kumara called for collective and effective waste management mechanisms and stricter laws to prevent extensive marine pollution.The polluted Dondra Harbor, a place that converges communities and faiths, but now also microplastic waste. Image courtesy of J. Bimali Koongolla.Further studies neededThe team of researchers point to the absence of sufficient coastal studies as a key reason for selecting the south, a top tourist destination.So far, only two studies have looked at microplastic pollution in the island’s coastal regions. A 2018 study looked at three beaches in Western province, while a 2016 study focused on the north coast.Koongolla said this new study offers only a glimpse of the microplastic problem in Sri Lanka. Ideally, she said, research should be conducted over different seasons and across several years. Sampling volumes should also be much larger to improve the quality of the data, she said.Banner image of a harbor in southern Sri Lanka studded with microplastics, an emerging environmental problem in the Indian Ocean island, once known for its pristine beaches, courtesy of J. Bimali Koongolla.Citation:Koongolla, J. B., Andrady, A. L, Terney Pradeep Kumara, P. B., & Gangabadage, C. S. (2018). Evidence of microplastics pollution in coastal beaches and waters in southern Sri Lanka. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 137, 277-284. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.10.031 Article published by dilrukshicenter_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

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New toolkit identifies multiple species from environmental DNA

first_imgResearchers have developed a DNA analysis toolkit designed to speed the identification of the multiple species in a biological community by analyzing environmental DNA from a sample of water or soil.To confirm the presence of a species at a site, the tool compares its genetic barcode (short DNA sequence) to barcodes of known species in one of several reference databases.The toolkit’s advantage is its ability to quickly process many barcode sequences, at multiple analysis locations on the gene, that enable it to identify the species of the DNA sequences of many organisms at the same time. Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and CALeDNA have developed a toolkit designed to quickly identify the species in a biological community by simultaneously analyzing the environmental DNA (eDNA) from multiple species from a single analysis of a sample of water or soil. Their aim is to eliminate the need for researchers to sort and process multiple eDNA sequences independently, thus saving time and money.They published a description of the open-source software tool, called the Anacapa Toolkit, as well as results of a field test in the kelp forests off southern California.Kelp forest at Anacapa Island off southern California. Image by Dana Roeber Murray via Flickr. CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0.eDNA is the genetic material shed by animals and plants into the surrounding ecosystem, usually water or soil, through their skin, scales, feces or pollen. eDNA has proved increasingly useful for identifying particularly aquatic species found at a given site. A single one-liter (one quart) sample of water can contain eDNA for many species and is a non-invasive means of collecting data.The software toolkit is a series of modules that can analyze DNA sequences from multiple locations (loci) on the genes extracted from the eDNA in the sample and compare them to a customized reference database of sequences of known species. It produces a spreadsheet of all the species found in the sample for which it has a known reference sequence.Lead author Emily Curd said the outputs of eDNA research in the Anacapa toolkit are standardized and eliminate many of the human steps and potential missteps that previous tools include. “When you compare our results against previous studies, we do a lot better capturing the biodiversity that’s out there,” Curd said in a statement.Scientists use genetic barcoding, analyses of short DNA sequences from a specific point on the gene, to identify a species by comparing its barcode to a database of known barcodes. Research teams have since developed metabarcording analyses that allow them to analyze the barcodes of many species at the same time and determine which species are present in the sample.A treefish, a California native, at Anacapa Island. eDNA from water samples allow researchers to detect the presence of individual species from the scales or skin they leave behind, even if the animal is no longer in the area. Image by Dana Roeber Murray via Flickr. CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0.In developing the new tool, the researchers recognized three main challenges to accurately and reliably identifying species using eDNA:eDNA studies often sequence multiple loci on the genes of a given sample because plants, fungi, and various animal species are each best detected using different loci, but researchers currently must process each of these independently;a lack of curated reference databases for all of the loci the researchers want to analyze for all the potential species in a water or soil sample of a given site hinders identification;current metabarcode pipelines (a series of steps, or workflow) often discard large portions of sequence data that are potentially useful for identifying the taxon (e.g. species) of a sequence that doesn’t fully align with reference sequences.To use the toolkit, a research team first collects a water or soil sample and extracts DNA from it using standard techniques that produce genetic sequences of the various life forms in the sample.Marine invertebrates of California’s Channel Islands. The toolkit analyzes the eDNA collected in water samples of the multiple organisms that form a biological community. Image by Ed Bierman, CC 2.0.“It’s amazing how sensitive this technique is,” said co-author Zack Gold, referring to the team’s experience that DNA from fewer than a few dozen cells is enough to detect an organism’s presence in a sample.The users upload these genetic sequences of yet-unknown species to the toolkit, which compares them to a genetic reference library of sequences with known identities. This comparison allows the tool to process the barcode sequences from the eDNA in the sample and identify the species associated with each barcode.The tool customizes the reference database for each analysis using information that the research team provides on the organisms that might be in their sample.The researchers do this by inputting primers for species or higher taxa of interest. A primer is a short nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) sequence from a particular location on the gene that provides a starting point for DNA amplification and synthesis. Synthesis of this existing strand of nucleotides primes, or provides a foundation for, synthesizing the DNA collected in the study sample.The toolkit’s Creating Reference libraries Using eXisting tools (CRUX) module generates custom reference databases based on these user-defined primers by querying public databases, such as GenBank and the European Molecular Biology Lab (EMBL) nucleotide database, to find known sequences for the organisms associated with the user’s selected primers.The toolkit, which is freely available, offers access to several reference databases to complement the user-customized reference database, and users can add their own sequences to their database.The toolkit’s advantage is its ability to quickly process the many barcode sequences, at multiple analysis locations on the gene (multiple loci), that allow it to identify the species of the DNA sequences of many organisms at the same time.Environmental DNA is often dilute or partially degraded, so the toolkit trims and processes sequences, eliminating poor-quality sections and separating sequence files from the various loci within each sample. It categorizes the sequence files by quality, and its classifier identifies the species associated with each sequence by comparing them to the sequences with known identities in the reference database. It produces a spreadsheet of sequences and species, plus reports on the identification.The researchers tested the toolkit on 30 samples of seawater from southern California’s kelp forests and found it captured a greater diversity of sequences and species than published reference databases.The taxonomic assignments (identifications) from the research team’s test samples collected from seawater off southern California, highlighting the Anacapa Island kelp forest vertebrate families identified from the 12S metabarcodes (primers). Families in bold are featured in the photographs. Image is Figure 2 of Curd et al (2019).Although all components of the toolkit are open and available to the public, researchers wanting to use the toolkit must have sufficient DNA analysis experience to select appropriate primers for their research site and to use standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques to copy and extract DNA to produce the sequences that they input into the toolkit.Gold called the new tool a “really big game-changer,” though he recognized it has limitations.Using eDNA, it cannot, for example, determine how many individuals of a particular species are in a certain area, just that a species is present. “It’s not going to replace all of the surveys and monitoring efforts,” Gold said, “but doing an eDNA survey is the most sensitive method to find where species are living.”FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Sue Palminteri Animals, DNA, Fungi, Monitoring, Oceans, Open-source, Plants, Research, Software, surveys, Technology, Wildtech center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

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Indonesia agrees to attempt Sumatran rhino IVF with eggs from Malaysia

first_imgConservationists have welcomed a long-awaited agreement by Indonesia and Malaysia to move ahead with assisted reproductive technology for the captive breeding of the nearly extinct Sumatran rhino.Indonesia has long balked at sending rhino sperm to Malaysia for use in artificial insemination, but has now agreed to accept eggs from Malaysia to carry out in vitro fertilization.If successful, the program would give the species a much-needed boost in genetic diversity.Scientists in Germany last year used IVF to successfully produced embryos — though not a baby — of white rhinos, an African species. JAKARTA — The governments of Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed to carry out in vitro fertilization of Sumatran rhinos, heralding a breakthrough in a decades-long effort to breed the nearly extinct species in captivity.The procedure will take place in Indonesia, which has long balked at requests to send sperm to Malaysia for artificial insemination efforts there.Conservationists in both countries and abroad had been pushing for some kind of assisted reproductive technology for the species, whether through artificial insemination (introducing sperm taken from a male rhino into a female) or IVF, in which an egg extracted from a female is fertilized in a lab and implanted in a surrogate female.Indonesia is home to an estimated 30 to 80 Sumatran rhinos (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), at most, while Malaysia now has just one — a female — after its last male died in May. Under the newly announced plan, researchers hope to use sperm from one of Indonesia’s captive male rhinos to fertilize eggs sent from the lone female of the species in Malaysia.“Originally the plan was to bring sperm [of the rhinos in Indonesia] there [to Malaysia], but after discussions and negotiations, it’s eventually decided to bring the eggs here [to Indonesia],” Indra Exploitasia, the director of biodiversity conservation at Indonesia’s environment ministry, told reporters in Jakarta on July 31.“We have actually agreed on this at lower levels,” she said, adding that both Indonesian and Malaysian governments were completing the administrative process. These include requirements under the Nagoya Protocol, which governs the international sharing of genetic material.Zulfi Arsan, head veterinarian at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, hand feeds Andalas, the first Sumatran rhino bred and born in captivity in over a century. Image by Jeremy Hance/Mongabay.Indra said the IVF procedure would be performed by Indonesian experts, with funding from the Indonesian government.“We would pick the best sperm from all of the male rhinos we have here,” she said, referring to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Way Kambas National Park.Should the procedure prove successful, resulting in a viable embryo, Indra said it would be implanted in the uterus of a surrogate mother from one of the captive female rhinos in Indonesia. Indra said Indonesia and Malaysia had not yet agreed on ownership of any offspring resulting from the IVF program.Despite this last sticking point, conservationists from both countries have welcomed the advance in this long-awaited collaboration, noting that producing a viable Sumatran rhino embryo through IVF would add much-needed diversity to the captive population.Four of the seven rhinos at the Indonesian SRS, including all of the males, are closely related. Iman, the Malaysian female, comes from a population in Borneo that was once considered a separate subspecies, and which has been genetically separated from the Sumatran populations for thousands of years.The journey toward collaboration between the two countries has been a fraught one, with Indonesia for years reluctant to heed Malaysian requests for a transfer of sperm to attempt artificial insemination in Malaysia. Last October, Indonesia’s conservation chief, Wiratno, said the IVF program had been postponed because Iman, who was being treated for a uterine tumor, had ceased to produce viable eggs.Officials from the Sabah Wildlife Department, in Malaysian Borneo, reported last December that Iman had suffered a ruptured tumor in her uterus, leading to massive bleeding. Since then, however, an intensive regimen of medical treatment and feeding has raised hopes about her prospects for recovery.The team caring for Iman, believed to still be fertile, says the rhino is recovering and produces viable oocytes with assistance.John Payne, the head of the Borne Rhino Alliance, said that collecting eggs from Iman would be very challenging and would require a highly skilled and coordinated team of veterinarians and anesthetists.“This is not a time for training or capacity building. It is a time to get on the best experts,” he told Mongabay in an email.Iman is the last Sumatran rhino left in Malaysia. A tumor in her uterus ruptured in 2017, and while scientists don’t believe she can carry a baby to term, they’re confident her eggs can still be used for in vitro fertilization. Image courtesy of the Sabah Wildlife Department.He said the rhino would be put under general anesthesia, which entailed some degree of risk, particularly inadvertent puncturing of a blood vessel if the animal moved slightly but suddenly during the egg extraction process.“This is even more dangerous in a rhino with large fibroids in the uterus, like Iman,” he said. “Great skill and rapid performance are both of the essence.”After the successful collection, Payne said the eggs had to be taken in a buffer solution, kept at the rhino’s body temperature, to where the IVF would be conducted.“Essentially, the quicker this is done the better, within a 24 hour time frame,” he said. “However, if the eggs are found to be still immature, they will need to be kept in a specialist laboratory for maturation, which could take up to a few days.”Payne suggested the collection be carried out by Thomas Hildebrandt, a professor from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, who has successfully extracted eggs from Iman since 2014. He added that Zainal Zahari Zainuddin, Iman’s Malaysian veterinarian, should also be involved in the process.For the IVF, Payne suggested Arief Boediono, an Indonesian professor who is an expert in the practice.Widodo Ramono, the executive director of the Indonesian Rhino Foundation (YABI), said his team was ready to help with getting the sperm needed to fertilize the collected eggs. “This would be an opportunity for our experts to perform IVF,” he said.Payne said his pick for the best sperm donor would be Andalas, a male at the SRS who was born in a captive-breeding program at Cincinnati Zoo in 2001 and has since sired two calves.“[H]e is a proven father, and the spontaneous method should ideally be used” to collect the specimen, Payne said.Widodo said the experts needed to ensure the availability of a healthy surrogate rhino mother before performing the IVF. “Right now, there’s only one: Ratu, who is currently going under a natural breeding program,” he said noting that experts hoped she would achieve more natural pregnancies. (Ratu is the mother of the two calves conceived naturally with Andalas.)“If there is an embryo [resulting from the IVF], it should be kept until a surrogate mother is available,” Widodo said, suggesting that Ratu, a proven natural breeder, should be kept in that role.There’s a growing urgency to step up the captive-breeding program for the critically endangered species. With such a small population to draw from in Indonesia, the risk of genetic defects being passed on through captive breeding are high — which makes the need for the Indonesia-Malaysia collaboration all the more important.Scientists in Germany reported success in producing embryos — but not yet a baby — of an African species, the white rhino (Ceratotherium simum), through IVF. Before this, this form of assisted reproductive technology remained unproven in rhinos, and some experts were skeptical it could be perfected in time to stall the extinction of a species.Earlier this year, a 7-year-old greater one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) gave birth following a combination of induced ovulation and artificial insemination.“This is the very first attempt at IVF using eggs from an aging and sick female with the sperm of an aging and fit male,” Payne said. “The chances of getting offspring at the first attempt is close to zero. What we are seeing here is the beginning of a process of refining techniques and protocols with a goal of success after several attempts.”Ratu, right, with her daughter, Delilah. Ratu and Andalas are parents to Andatu, a male born in 2012, and Delilah, a female born in 2016. Image by Jeremy Hance/Mongabay.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Animals, Biodiversity, Captive Breeding, Conservation, Critically Endangered Species, Environment, Ex-situ Conservation, Extinction, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Mammals, Megafauna, Rainforest Animals, Rhinos, Saving Species From Extinction, Sumatran Rhino, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation Article published by Basten Gokkoncenter_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

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‘No place to hide’ for illegal fishing fleets as surveillance satellites prepare for lift-off

first_imgA low-cost satellite revolution is paving the way for real-time monitoring of fishing vessels using synthetic-aperture radar (SAR).SAR allows researchers to monitor ‘dark vessels’ that aren’t transmitting Automatic Identification Signals (AIS) location data.Disabling or manipulating AIS transmitters is a tactic commonly used by vessels engaged in illegal fishing activity. The prospect of monitoring every vessel at sea in real time has moved a step closer to reality as a new generation of surveillance satellites takes to the skies.The satellites are being launched by a small number of private companies with the potential to transform the monitoring of marine fisheries. One of those companies is Capella Space, which will launch a constellation of 36 surveillance satellites into orbit starting in December, following successful trials with a pilot satellite.A 2018 map of areas likely damaged from ash and lava flow from Fuego volcano in Guatemala derived from synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites, operated by the European Space Agency (ESA). Each pixel is 30 meters (99 feet) across. Radar images penetrate smoke, clouds and darkness to provide information on the structure of what is below. They can thus assess ground surface damage from volcanic activity (here, red color indicates more damage), as well as the presence of a large fishing vessel on the sea. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/Copernicus/Google.Capella’s “minibar-sized satellites” are equipped with synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) sensors, which ping signals down to Earth and use the information bouncing back to generate radar images. Though radar pictures lack the detail of optical images and cannot currently be used to identify specific vessels, they can detect the presence of any ship in the ocean, day or night, whatever the weather.SAR’s greatest asset is that it can detect the presence of vessels that aren’t transmitting Automatic Identification Signals (AIS), so-called “dark ships”. Vessels weighing 300 gross tons or more are required to carry AIS transmitters, which broadcast a vessel’s name, country of origin, speed, and location. Crews engaging in illegal fishing activity often disable them or manipulate the data to give false coordinates.“It’s hard to quantify how widespread this practice is, but I think it’s pretty widespread,” said Peter Horn, who leads the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Ending Illegal Fishing Project.Paul Woods, cofounder and Chief Technology Officer at Global Fishing Watch, agrees. “There are a lot of vessels running around, particularly fishing vessels doing bad things, that don’t want to be tracked,” he said.Stacks of fish found in the hold of the Taiwanese-flagged fishing vessel Yu Feng from alleged illegal fishing activity off the coast of Sierra Leone.  Members of various security agencies of Sierra Leone and U.S. Coast Guard sailors found the illegal catch after conducting a joint boarding operation. Sierra Leone is patrolling the waters further from their shore to protect their economic zone. Image courtesy of United States Coast Guard.SAR is part of a suite of surveillance tools used by law enforcement agencies and environmental watchdogs, such as Skytruth, to check for the presence of “dark ships”. The technology is also widely used to identify oil spills and to observe changes in sea ice at the poles and forest cover in the Amazon.Now, a new breed of satellites, which are 20 times lighter than their outdated predecessors and therefore easier and cheaper to launch, promises to greatly expand the capabilities of SAR surveillance.Current drawbacks of SARSAR data are currently gathered by a handful of satellites, which are operated mainly by government agencies, such as NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), which gives its SAR data away for free. Airbus also has a SAR satellite system.The problem with these satellites is that they provide an incomplete picture of the world’s oceans because there aren’t enough of them. What’s more, because they are large—about the size of a trash dumpster—and power-hungry, they typically operate where it is light to allow for solar charging.“They only image a small portion of Earth every day,” said Woods. “So, we don’t have really good coverage of the oceans with SAR.”Huge school of fish off the Mexican coast. Image by Matthew T. Rader via Pexels.Although environmental watchdogs and enforcement agencies can task SAR satellites to take images of particular places where they suspect illegal fishing is taking place, such requests are expensive and time-consuming. Orders have to be placed many hours in advance, either over the phone or via fax, and there is always the possibility that requests will be deprioritized if the military wants to task the satellite at the same time.“It costs thousands of dollars to order an image, and we have to order it up to 72 hours in advance, because we have to wait for the satellite to get into position,” said Woods, highlighting SAR’s current shortcomings.This latency is the reason SAR data is mainly used for long-term strategic planning, such as deciding where to send patrols, rather than in live situations. “The guy who is doing illegal fishing will do it for six hours and then disappear,” said John Allan, Business Development Consultant for Capella Space. “If you’ve got to wait 24 hours to get an image, that’s useless.”The holy grail of real-time SARCapella claims its satellites will provide a much faster turnaround and that its customers will be able to order on-demand images online through an API. Inmarsat, a satellite telecommunications company, will then transmit the order to Capella’s nearest satellite in a matter of seconds.“It will do to satellite tasking what Amazon did to retail,” Allan said. “We’re going to make it so easy for people to task the satellites.”Capella’s network is due to be fully operational by 2022, though each satellite will start taking SAR images as soon as it is launched. When all 36 satellites are up, Allan said, the constellation will be able to provide a new image of a target every hour at the equator and even more frequently the closer you get to the poles. This is a significant step towards real-time SAR.Portuguese Navy Lt. Cmdr. Antonio Mourinha and Gabonese sailors inspect a holding bay for fish aboard an illegal fishing vessel during a fisheries engagement, part of a multinational partnership to enhance maritime security in Africa. Image by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Holmes, courtesy of United States Navy.“The exciting thing about low-cost satellites is that you can contemplate putting enough of them up there to have continuous SAR coverage every minute of the day, every square kilometer,” said Woods, who foresees a time when there is “no place left to hide” for illegal fishing vessels. “I don’t think we’re going to be there with Capella (by its own admission it doesn’t have enough satellites for this), but it’s a step in the right direction.”Capella is one of a handful of organisations that intends to launch SAR satellites. Europe-based ICEYE is another, having announced plans to build an 18-satellite constellation by 2020.Capella and ICEYE promise to capture high-resolution images, which could ultimately assist with vessel identification. Capella materials claim its pictures will cover an area up to 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) by 7 kilometers (4.4 miles) at 4-meter (13-foot) resolution, down to 5 km (3.1 mi) by 5 km at 50-centimeter (20-inch) resolution.“With higher-resolution images, we can profile the vessel, get a feel for it and put a high probability name on it,” said Allan. “It’s very different to current SAR.”Bjorn Bergman, Ocean Analyst at SkyTruth, a non-profit environmental watchdog, said the challenge lies in incorporating the SAR data into existing surveillance systems. This would theoretically allow real-time comparisons with data from AIS, VMS (Vessel Monitoring Systems) and other detection technology, such as NASA’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), which detects brightly-lit fishing vessels at night.“We need to think about how this data can be integrated automatically with other tracking systems,” he said. “That’s going to be really exciting. It will be the first layer that will detect all vessels regardless of whether they are using lights at night or transmitting AIS.”Global Fishing Watch claims such a system would help it achieve its ambition of monitoring all commercial fishing in the world every day.“We think it will help bring monitoring of industrial and commercial activity on the ocean into the same realm as it is on land, with all the activity visible to everybody all of the time,” said Woods. “That’s definitely possible, and we will get there.”FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Sue Palminteri Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img early warning, Fishing, Illegal Fishing, Law Enforcement, Marine Conservation, Monitoring, Oceans, Overfishing, real-time monitoring, Remote Sensing, Satellite Imagery, Sensors, Surveillance, Technology, Wildtech last_img read more

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What’s in a name? For Sri Lanka’s newest geckos, a political firestorm

first_imgBiodiversity, Conservation, Endangered Species, Environment, Herps, Lizards, New Species, Research, Species Discovery Article published by dilrukshi Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img Researchers recently described six new species of geckos, but the discovery has been overshadowed by controversy over their naming.Nationalist figures accuse the researchers of dishonoring historical heroes by naming the geckos after them, with one group even filing a complaint with the police.The scientific community has risen in support of the researchers, pointing out that naming a new species after an individual is universally considered a badge of honor.For their part, the researchers say the focus should be on the new species, which are so rare and their range so restricted that they should be considered critically endangered. COLOMBO — In 2017, herpetologist Sameera Suranjan Karunarathna and his team of researchers undertook a detailed study of lizards in more than 100 locations across Sri Lanka to record the distribution of different species and study their conservation status.What they didn’t bargain for was an ugly spat over the naming of six new species of geckos discovered as part of the study.The issue has become so politically contentious that an ultra-nationalist politician has challenged the naming exercise in parliament, while a group of Buddhist monks is demanding police action be taken against Karunarathna, who is now the target of an online hate campaign. In the process, little attention is being paid to the discovery of the new species or the threats they face.Cnemaspis gotaimbarai is named after another of in honor of another of Dutugamunu’s loyal warriors, Gotaimbara. The species was discovered from the forested hills of Kokagala in Ampara district, a region of immense archaeological and historical significance. Image courtesy of Majintha Madawala.The new research paper, published in the journal Vertebrate Zoology, records the discovery of six new endemic geckos of the genus Cnemaspis from little-known areas in Sri Lanka. It was expected to be welcome news as Sri Lanka petitions for the protection of its endemic lizards at a global wildlife trade summit taking place in Geneva. But instead of celebrating the latest additions to the island’s remarkable list of unique reptiles, the researchers are now dealing with massive hostility.Two of the new geckos, Cnemaspis nandimithrai and C. gotaimbarai, are named after Nandimithra and Gotaimbara, two legendary fighters from the Ten Giant Warriors who served the ancient Sinhala king Dutugamunu, the island’s ruler from 161 to 137 B.C.E.Cnemaspis nandimithrai is named in honor of Nandimithra, a warrior who served King Dutugamunu more than 2,000 years ago. Legend has it that he moved boulders to build a monastery for Buddhist monks. Image courtesy of Nimantha Abeyrathne.The four other geckos are named in honor of lesser-known heroes from the Uwa-Wellassa Rebellion of 1817-1818, when Sri Lankans rose up against the British colonial power: C. kohukumburai (after Kohukumbure Walawwe Rate Rala), C. hitihami (Meegahapitiye Walawwe Hitihami Mudiyanselage Rate Rala), C. butewai (Butewe Rate Rala), and C. kivulegedarai (Kivulegedara Mohottala).“The paper sought to highlight Sri Lanka as a top global hotspot for herpetofauna diversity and a local center of high endemism,” Karunarathna said. “The six additions we have made seek to underpin the fact that ours is an island of reptilian diversity and high endemism.”But some in the country’s political establishment have sought to seize on the issue to burnish their nationalist credentials ahead of elections later this year, by accusing Karunarathna and his team of dishonoring the historical heroes by naming geckos after them. Wimal Weerawansa, a member of parliament, called the naming decision disgraceful, while an ultra-conservative religious group has complained to the police chief in writing.Cnemaspis kohukumburai was discovered in a forest patch in Kadugannawa, in the central district of Kandy. Image courtesy of Majintha Madawala.Show of supportSri Lanka’s scientific community has rallied behind the researchers, pointing out that naming a new species after someone is a common practice meant to honor the latter. In the case of the six new gecko species, they say, naming them after national heroes is an attempt to perpetuate the memory of the latter and educate the public, and not an effort to undermine their legacy.“It is a well-established practice and there is nothing new in naming species after national heroes,” Mendis Wickramasinghe, a herpetologist who has helped describe more than a hundred new species, told Mongabay. “I have named a snake, Aspidura ravanai, to honor King Ravana and a shrub frog, Pseudophilautus puranappu, in the memory of a national hero, Veera Puran Appu. There is no question of attempting to insult their memory.”An isolated hill forest with scattered granite caves in Maragala, in Monaragala district, is the habitat of Cnemaspis hitihami. Image courtesy of Majintha Madawala.Environment lawyer and naturalist Jagath Gunawardane called the naming of a species after an individual the ultimate honor. In 2013, a shrub frog was named in his honor, Pseudophilautus jagathgunawardanai.In an attempt to quell the controversy, Anusha Gokula Fernando, the director of the department of cultural affairs, issued a statement reiterating that the practice of naming new species in honor of prominent personalities is established tradition.Karunarathna had previously named another species of gecko, Cnemaspis godagedarai, after Godagedara Rate Adikaram, a hero of the Uwa-Wellassa Rebellion. In all, he has described eight new gecko and four lizard species, and is in the process of describing a dozen more.The lush, cool and canopied forest of Bambarabotuwa in Ratnapura district is home to Cnemaspis butewei. Image courtesy of Majintha Madawala.Considered critically endangeredThe new Cnesmaspis species — all “point endemic,” or restricted to a very small geographic range — were recorded from cool, wet, spacious granite caves found within rock outcrops in forests largely undisturbed by human activity. These habitats are scattered in geographically isolated forested hills in the historical Uwa-Wellassa region and the central districts of Kandy and Ratnapura.The geckos, small or medium in size, aren’t just restricted in range but also have limited dispersal capabilities and niche specialization, Karunarathna told Mongabay. These factors, along with the relatively low abundance of the species, should qualify them for a conservation status of critically endangered, the researchers say. They also call for further study of Sri Lanka’s isolated forests, especially in the dry and intermediate zones, for both conservation and in-depth research to inform specific management activities.Kivulegedara Rate Rala played a significant role in the Uwa-Wellassa Rebellion of 1817-1818, for which the researchers chose to honor him by naming Cnemaspis kivulegedarai after him. Image courtesy of Sameera Suranjan Karunarathna.The new discoveries bring Sri Lanka’s Cnemaspis species, known as day geckos because they’re active in the daytime, to 32. The total number of known gecko species in the tropical island is 54, 44 of which are found nowhere else on Earth. Most are restricted to the wet zone; 20 species are considered critically endangered, nine endangered, five vulnerable and four are data deficient.Proposals for protection In April, a study highlighted how rare lizards found only in Sri Lanka are winding up in Europe as part of the illegal trade in exotic wildlife. The publication of the study by the wildlife trade monitoring NGO TRAFFIC came ahead of the 18th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Sri Lanka has put forward a proposal at the summit, currently underway in Geneva, to protect several endemic lizard species from international trade, although they don’t include any day geckos.At home, day geckos face growing pressure on their habitats. Sri Lanka’s forests are shrinking fast, whittled away by human encroachment, primarily for tea and crop farms, and settlements, Karunarathna said.“Other stresses include unplanned infrastructure development and granite mining, forest fires and logging that increase habitat degradation,” he said. “It’s best to fight against these causes than the nomenclature of geckos.”Herpetologist Sameera Suranjan Karunarathna has found himself at the center of a political firestorm after naming six new gecko species after historical figures. Fellow scientists say it’s the ultimate honor to name a species to perpetuate the memory of an individual. Image courtesy of Madhava Botejue.Citation Karunarathna, S. S., Poyarkov, N. A., De Silva, A., Madawala, M., Botejue, M., Gorin, V. A., & Bauer, A. M. (2019). Integrative taxonomy reveals six new species of day geckos of the genus Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 (Reptilia: Squamata: Gekkonidae) from geographically-isolated hill forests in Sri Lanka. Vertebrate Zoology, 69(3), 247-298. doi:10.26049/VZ69-3-2019-02Image of the isolated rocky forest area of Kudumbigala in Ampara district, where Cnemaspis nandimithrai, one of the six new species of day gecko, was recently discovered. Image courtesy of Majintha Madawala.last_img read more

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Will a massive marine protected area safeguard Cook Islands’ ocean?

first_imgIn 2017, the Cook Islands government passed the Marae Moana Act, which designated the country’s entire exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as a multiple-use marine protected area (MPA).Spanning almost 2 million square kilometers (772,000 square miles) — an area roughly the size of Mexico — the MPA is the biggest of its kind in the world.Now, as bureaucrats, NGOs and traditional leaders get to grips with implementing Marae Moana, many stakeholders are wondering what the act will mean in practice and whether it can meaningfully change the way the ocean is managed. This story is part of a series on Marae Moana, the massive, recently enacted multiple-use marine protected area covering the Cook Islands’ entire exclusive economic zone. Other stories in the series:Building the world’s biggest MPA: Q&A with Goldman winner Jacqueline EvansParadise, polluted: Cook Islands tries to clean up its tourism sectorGive it back to the gods: Reviving Māori tradition to protect marine lifeCook Islands MPA leader fired after supporting seabed mining freezeRAROTONGA, Cook Islands — At certain times of the year, Puna Rakanui’s grandfather used to travel to a favorite fishing spot and return with his canoe full of decapitated tuna. “He would tell us kids, ‘When you take fish out of the ocean, you must give something back,’” Rakanui said. “So he would chop the head off the tuna, tie a rock to it and sink it. To feed the fish. ‘That’s for tomorrow,’ he’d say.”In the decades since, that conservative attitude waned among residents of the Cook Islands, and alongside it the health and abundance of the archipelago’s marine habitats. Commercial fishing vessels exploited the deep ocean, while many of the islands’ lagoons were overfished and polluted by locals and tourists alike. Then, in 2017, something changed. The Cook Islands government passed the Marae Moana Act, which designated the country’s entire exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as a multiple-use marine protected area (MPA). Spanning almost 2 million square kilometers (772,000 square miles) — an area roughly the size of Mexico — it’s the biggest of its kind in the world. The intent was essentially to shift marine governance back into alignment with the attitude of Rakanui’s grandfather.But what does “multiple-use” actually mean? Two years on, communities still come to heads with the government over indiscriminate commercial fishing practices, and there is growing international interest in the minerals on the ocean floor. Bureaucrats, NGOs, traditional leaders and community members are currently debating a marine spatial plan to designate which activities will be allowed where within the MPA, a process they aim to complete by 2020. Now that the details are being hashed out, the questions on many stakeholders’ lips are: what will the act mean in practice? Can it actually change the way the ocean is managed, or is it simply a tourist-friendly title for business as usual?Map shows the location of the Cook Islands, with the international date line running past on a ragged course through the Pacific Ocean. Image courtesy of Google Maps.Old paradigm, new systemThe Pacific Ocean and its islands are often left off the edges of world maps, seen perhaps by cartographers as a convenient blank space through which to slice the globe and produce the flat maps we’re familiar with, with the continents in the middle. But for those born and raised in the Cook Islands, the ocean is anything but empty space.“It’s a highway, a line of communication, and a food basket for us,” said Rakanui, the spokesman for the House of Ariki, a parliamentary body of Cook Islands paramount chiefs. “And it was a place where [our ancestors] strengthened their ties with the supernatural powers … There’s nothing to hold onto out there except your canoe; and your faith in the water, taking you to where you’re supposed to be.”From the 16th century on, Europeans jumped on that highway, too: explorers, missionaries, whalers, slave traders and, eventually, colonizers. The Cook Islands became a British protectorate in 1888, and a territory of New Zealand in 1901. In 1965, the archipelago gained independence, but retained much of the colonial mindset on ownership and management of the land and sea. “When you look at our traditions … both the land and the ocean were recognized astapu [sacred],” Rakanui said. “But when we had the transition to the Western form of government, there was little focus on the ocean.“Because the land is so limited, everyone was fighting for it and setting boundaries around it,” he said. “They didn’t put any boundary on the ocean. But that’s not to say that they didn’t place any value on it.”Commercial fishing debris washed up on the shore of Rarotonga. Image by Monica Evans for Mongabay.In recent years, it’s become clear to the islanders that the ocean’s bounty is limited, too. For decades, the Cook Islands government has bolstered its economy by selling fishing licenses to foreign companies to exploit its waters. As technologies like fishfinders and sonar-emitting fish-aggregating devices (FADS) make it easier to find and attract a catch, the zone is increasingly at risk of being overfished.What’s more, abandoned nets and FADS are trapping threatened species like sea turtles, and washing up in huge volume on the Cooks’ 15 islands and atolls. Last year, members of the local environmental NGO Te Ipukarea Society (TIS) visited uninhabited Suwarrow, a coral atoll almost 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) away from the largest and most developed island of Rarotonga. They were appalled at the amount of fishing rubbish — particularly FADS — that they found there.For Polynesians, the ocean is both a god and a relative, and maintaining the mana(prestige, dignity, spiritual power) of one’s family is of overriding importance. So in 2010, when rugby league star Kevin Iro approached the House of Ariki saying he felt sorry for the ocean and asking for help to revive its mana, the chiefs came quickly on board.That was the beginning of a seven-year process of advocacy and consultation that culminated in the passing of Marae Moana, a title that means “sacred ocean” in Cook Islands Māori.Under the act, the country’s entire EEZ is marked out as a marine protected area, and the spatial plan that’s currently being developed will designate pockets for different activities such as commercial fishing or tourism. These activities must comply with Marae Moana’s overarching purpose: to protect and conserve the ecological, biodiversity, and heritage values of the Cook Islands marine environment.“We really wanted to express that out to the rest of the world, that we view the ocean not just as small bits and pieces but as a whole,” Iro said. “So rather than setting protection targets of 10 percent by 2020 or whatever, we said ‘Let’s flip that on its head and just say 100 percent is protected and work backwards from there.’”last_img read more

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