Monthly Archives: July 2009

Greek dolphins to disappear in absence of urgent steps


Common dolphins, once a frequent sight in the Mediterranean, may soon be extinct in Greece’s Ionian Sea due to overfishing, environmentalists have warned. WWF and a dozen other environmental organisations said research showed numbers of dark grey, white bellied dolphins had decreased from 150 to 15 in 10 years in protected areas in the Ionian, between Greece and Italy. “It is called the common dolphin but the problem nowadays in the Mediterranean is that it’s not common at all anymore. It is endangered. It is about to be extinct,” WWF Greece-based expert Giorgos Paximadis said. “Overfishing has caused the destruction of the marine environment and the dramatic decrease of common dolphins,” Paximadis told Reuters, adding that it deprived the dolphins of their food. The environmental groups urged Greece to take measures, including the adoption of larger mesh size for all bottom set nets, restrictions on trawling and on recreational fishing as well as stronger penalties for illegal fishing. The common dolphin population in the Ionian Sea is one of the last in the Mediterranean, Paximadis said. “As they are on the top of food web, it shows that the rest of the marine web is not healthy,” he said. Three other species of dolphins in Greece, including the bottlenose dolphin, are considered vulnerable but not yet in danger of extinction, he said. reuters

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Buffaloes face extinction in far-west


DADELDHURA, May 18: Animal scientists have warned that buffaloes will be extinct in the far western hills within five years if the current trend of export of buffaloes to India was not immediately halted.

Animal scientists issued the alarm at a review meeting organized by Regional Animal Services Directorate in Dadeldhura.

Chief of Community Livestock Services Project Dr Rebatiman Shrestha said many buffaloes were being exported daily to a food company in Bareli of India after the company offered a higher price for the buffaloes.

Animal scientists said around 27,000 buffaloes were exported to India via several points in the far west within the past 1.5 years.

Chief of Dadeldhura Livestock Services Office Dr Pan Singh Thagunna said the price of buffalo has drastically gone up of late. He said a buffalo used to cost Rs 10-15 thousand until a few years ago, but the price has gone up to Rs 30-50 thousand in recent days.

He added that farmers have been selling their buffaloes for immediate benefit without thinking about the long-term impact it could have on the country.

Many agents are found roaming in every nook and cranny of the region bargaining for the price, buying the buffaloes from the farmers and taking them to India.
Thagunna said the food company in Bareli exports fresh and dry meat of buffaloes to the Gulf countries.

Due to the lack of buffaloes, Dadeldhura has already started feeling the heat of the shortage of milk and milk products. The district used to witness highest export of ghee to India in the past. However, the ghee export from Dadeldhura is nil nowadays.

Large number of buffaloes is being exported to India from other districts as well, raising the fears of animal scientists of an immediate extinction of the domestic animal.

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3 Pacific Bird Species in Danger of Extinction


The three bird species are part of the 2009 Red List compiled by the Birdlife International and the International Conservation Union.

The Marquesas Kingfisher, the Nightingale Reed-Warbler of the Marianas and the Crow Honeyeater of New Caledonia all face extinction, according to the list, mostly due to environmental threats like introduced predators and deforestation.

The Marquesas Kingfisher, according to the Red List website, located in the Marquesas in French Polynesia, is found on two small islands only, and ‘is suspected to be declining owing to habitat deterioration and predation’.
According to the site, its situation on one island may be precarious and if it confirmed as extinct there it may require up-listing to Critically Endangered.

The Nightingale Reed-Warbler, is endangered because it is known from three very small islands only, where habitat loss and degradation are diminishing its range and probably its population. The brown tree-snake (Boiga irregularis) is blamed for the Nightingale Reed-Warbler’s demise in Guam where the species was once found and it is feared that the same will happen again.

The Crow Honeyeater’s decline is being attributed mainly to introduced predators, mainly rats.

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Tuesday 23rd June 2009

A coalition of environmental groups has accused a British company of funding the imminent destruction of a critical area of Indonesian rainforest. The groups claim that, if allowed to proceed, the process would destroy a fragile tsunami buffer zone (1) as well as accelerate global climate change.

The Scottish firm Jardine Matheson Holdings is the majority shareholder of AAL, the palm oil company behind plans to decimate the untouched forests of Tripa in Aceh Province, northern Sumatra. Jardine’s chairman, Sir Henry Keswick, was knighted this month in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

The environmental coalition – including groups such as the Sumatran Orangutan Society, Wetlands International and Greenpeace – accused the firm of turning a blind eye to a massive rainforest crime and driving the destruction of an entire ecosystem.

The region, on the northwestern coast of Sumatra, is home to the highest concentration of Sumatran orangutans in the world. Less than twenty years ago the Tripa swamp forests harboured around 1,500 orangutans. Today there are just a handful left.

The dense peat swamp soils also house a huge store of buried carbon, which will be released into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change if the planned conversion of this area to palm oil plantations goes ahead. The 13,000 hectare plot also provides a critical forest barrier against natural disasters such as the 2004 tsunami, which killed more than 225,000 people.

The coalition includes Greenpeace, the Sumatran Orangutan Society, Wetlands international, The Orangutan Foundation and the Orangutan Land Trust.

For more information, photo and video please call Greenpeace on +44 207 865 8255


Reacting to the news, Greenpeace forest campaigner James Turner said:

“It’s scandalous that a British company is bankrolling the destruction of this vital part of Indonesian rainforest. If the executives at Jardines don’t stop this they will be rightly accused of speeding up climate change, destroying a vital tsunami buffer zone and driving the Sumatran orangutan to the brink of extinction.”

Helen Buckland, UK Director, Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) said:

“It is frankly shocking that the Chairman of Jardine Matheson has been knighted for services to British business interests overseas, while his company is actively contributing to the demise of the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan. British businesses must be held accountable for their part in the destruction of this globally important area of forest. “

Alex Kaat from Wetlands International said:

“This case in unfortunately just one example. Throughout Indonesia and Malaysia, we see that the last remaining peatswamp forests are cleared for palm oil production to meet the growing demands for vegetable oils and biofuels.”

Michelle Desilets, Director of the Orangutan Land Trust said:

“The crisis facing Tripa Swamp Forest demonstrates just how ruthless this industry can be. A UK-based company, chaired by an individual recently knighted for services to British business interests overseas and charitable activities in the UK, provides the investment for such destruction, and as such, surely cannot claim to have any interest in Corporate Social Responsibility.”

Denis Ruysschaert from PanEco (2) said:

“The latest Tripa monitoring flight, on 11 June 2009, showed a gloomy picture of the on-going destruction, worse than expected”.

For more information, photo and video please call Greenpeace on +44 207 865 8255


(1) A 2005 post-tsunami master plan for the rehabilitation and reconstruction for the region and people of the province of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam and Nias Island, agreed by the Indonesian people and authorities, emphasises the need for the development of a coastal greenbelt buffer zone.

(2) PanEco Foundation is a scientific organisation that monitors the area for more than 10 years to protect S. ourangutan population and to provide local livelihood, has never seen such a dramatic scale of destruction. PanEco last year released “Tripa value report”. It explained that Tripa destruction was putting local people at greater vulnerability to tsunami-like disasters, was contributing to climate change and was driving a unique Sumatra orangoutan population to extinction. But, destruction is accelerating.

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Deforestation pushes Enriquillo’s crocodiles to the brink of extinction


Santo Domingo.- The Environment Ministry (Semarena) aims to study Enriquillo Lake’s crocodiles to determine their current population and the possibilities of surviving the almost total loss of their habitat, which experts blame on the deforestation and encroaching desertification.

Protected Areas vice minister Eleuterio Martinez the lake’s rising waters buried the croc’s reproduction areas along its shoreline. He said the recent floods have left the crocodiles with only the nesting areas in Cabrito island’s beaches, where 30 hatchings were recently found.

The official noted that when the eggs hatch the mothers ferry their young on their backs to the fresh water springs at the shore, but because of the longer crossing, many fall off and die. “We’re monitoring that species. This Thursday technicians will render a detailed report on the situation and what’s happening there.”

He said crocodiles need special surroundings and sand to nest, and Cabrito island, whose area has been reduced by half, is the only place left to reproduce.

During Enriquillo’s normal volume, of around 40 meters below sea level, the islets La Playita and Arenita are also used by the females to lay eggs, but the recent rise has placed them underwater.

“The lake has grown enormously, because from 205 square kilometers it now has almost 400 square kilometers,” he said, adding that the numbers of the crocodiles, on the endangered species list, isn’t known.

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VietNamNet Bridge – Two men were arrested Thursday for transporting a dead endangered tiger from a central province to Hanoi, according to police in the capital. 

Hoang Van Su, 36, and taxi driver Nguyen Trung Phong, 32, were found driving with a 60-kilogram frozen tiger and 11 kilograms of tiger bones in the trunk of Phong’s cab.

Dr. Pham Trong Anh, a tiger expert from the Hanoi-based Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, said the tiger was a baby of about 4-5 months old. He said the bones belonged to at least two different tigers.

Police said Su had hired Phong to carry the tiger and bones from the central province of Thanh Hoa to a buyer in Hanoi. The frozen tiger’s cause of death has yet to be made available.

One kilogram of fresh tiger meat costs more than VND20 million (US$1,123) a kilogram while bone sells for around VND15 million ($842), according to a report from the Vietnam News Agency.

An official from the Environmental Police Department, who wished to remain anonymous, said the case showed the possibility of larger-scale illegal tiger trafficking in the country.

Police said they were following up on the case. Tigers are on Vietnam’s endangered species list and it is illegal to hunt the large cats in the country.

In Vietnam, tigers are only found along the Truong Son Mountain Range in the central region. Experts estimate the country has less than 200 tigers left, as scores have been wiped out to make traditional medicine.

Locals in poverty-stricken Truong Son areas often resort to tiger hunting as the animals’ skin, teeth, meat and bones fetch high prices in major cities.

VietNamNet/Thanh Nien 

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Brantas River at risk of drying up as deforestation takes its toll


The condition of the Brantas River in East Java is under serious threat of drying up, officials warn, with 54 of its 111 watershed areas damaged or destroyed, mostly due to deforestation.

East Java Governor Soekarwo recently called on all concerned parties, including state-owned water operator Jasa Tirta and state-owned forestry company Perhutani, to reforest the damaged areas, protect the current water sources and create new ones.

He also proposed that both state enterprises set aside their dividends to purchase 100 hectares of highlands in Sumber Brantas village, Bumiaji district, Batu municipality, for reforestation.

“We’re ready to help pay for the lease of a plane to spread acacia seedlings over the area to accelerate the reforestation drive,” Soekarwo said.

He added the provincial administration was committed to protecting the water sources of the Brantas River, which is heavily depended on by people living in the 14 regencies and municipalities through which the river flows.

Data from the East Java Environmental Agency shows much of the river’s watersheds are in critical condition; 925 hectares of these affected areas are located in forests, and 1,899 hectares are outside forests.

The damaged areas, as a result of illegal logging, have caused half the number of water sources feeding into the river to dry up.

Of the remaining water sources, only a few still flow, but at depths of only 20 centimeters, from the usual 1.2 meters.

Soekarwo said the extent of deforested areas had severely silted up the Sutami reservoir in Karangkates, and would affect irrigation and clean water supplies.

“We can’t dredge the reservoir before reforesting the areas,” he said.

Several agencies, the governor went on, had taken steps to deal with the threat. The East Java Public Works Office has repaired the irrigation networks and pumps, while the provincial administration is educating farmers on water management for more efficient farming.

The agriculture office has set aside Rp 650 million (US$62,500) to provide 25 kilograms of rice seedlings per hectare to each farmer facing the threat of crop failure.

An estimated 60 percent of East Java’s population live in areas that form part of the Brantas River basin. The river flows from Batu city, through Malang city, then the regencies of Malang, Blitar, Tulungagung and Trenggalek, Kediri city, Sidoarjo and Gresik regencies, before finally reaching the sea in Surabaya.

The municipal tap water operator in Surabaya gets 95 percent of its raw water supply from the Brantas River.

Ecological Research and Wetland Conservation Agency (Ecoton) director Prigi Arisandi warns the disappearing water sources in the upstream areas of the Brantas River are not just caused by rampant logging, but also large-scale exploitation by bottled water companies in several upstream areas, such as Batu, Trawas in Mojokerto, and Pandaan in Pasuruan.

“The government has no issued any regulations for this industry,” he said.

“As a result, what they pay to government is not commensurate with what they take from nature.

“They only pay Rp 10,000 for 6,000 liters of water, a cut of which is still demanded by village and district officials.”

Prigi agreed with Soekarwo’s proposal that the private sector should set aside part of its profits, or corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds, to purchase land in upstream areas that could be conserved and reforested

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