As Go the Hippos...

  • Jun. 2nd, 2009 at 8:07 AM

Now, on one side of the lake are fighters from one of the two rebel groups, a band of Hutus from Rwanda. They shoot elephants, hack off the tusks, leave the mutilated carcasses to scavengers, and swap the ivory for munitions. But as the elephants dwindle, the rebels have turned increasingly to tilapia and catfish for their food and income, plundering the lake’s rivulets—spawning ground long off-limits to village fishermen.

On the other side, members of a local militia called PARECO are slaughtering hippos. They sell the teeth as ivory and the flesh as prized bush meat. In the 1970s, some 29,000 hippos lived in the park. By the end of 2006, their numbers had plummeted to only a few hundred—that year, militia fighters massacred thousands. The lake water, as in the biblical plague, washed the shore red.

The killings have had an unanticipated side effect. A hippo’s defecation feeds the plankton that feed the larvae that become the fish on which the villagers rely. A single pachyderm’s 60 pounds of daily dung delivers a gargantuan bacterial feast; now, even isolated killings of the animals wreak havoc on the fragile geometry of the lake ecosystem.



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Wolves Delisted in Idaho and Montana

  • May. 3rd, 2009 at 6:55 PM
In what has been, for me, one of the greatest disappointments of Obama's presidency so far, gray wolves were delisted today in Idaho, Montana, and the Great Lakes. They were NOT delisted in Wyoming, although several groups have sued the government in an attempt to force that to occur.

To stay updated on the wolf situation in the Northern Rockies, I recommend these blogs:

Ralph Maughan's Wildlife News (wolf category)
My Yellowstone Wolves

Sushi Lovers Beware!

  • Apr. 15th, 2009 at 8:10 PM
A new report from the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) claims that breeding populations of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna in the Mediterranean will collapse by 2012 if fishing continues at its current rate. Demand for the fish is driven primarily by sushi restaurants in Japan and elsewhere.

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The WWF has information about how to avoid irresponsibly harvested tuna, as does Seafood Watch.

Good news on Colony Collapse Disorder

  • Apr. 15th, 2009 at 10:08 AM
As a lifelong gardener, I've been following the news on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which has been killing off honeybee colonies en masse for several years, pretty closely and was very excited to hear the other day that researchers may have found a cure.

Apparently the latest suspect is a parasite called Nosema ceranae and they've had very good luck improving survival rates once treatment for this particular parasite is begun.

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Meanwhile, I've been choosing plants for my garden specifically to attract both honey and native bees, in the hope of giving them a little bit of a hand.

A few of the useful resources I've found include:

Urban Bee Gardens
The Xerces Society
ATTRA: Native Bees

If you're not familiar with CCD, Haagen Dazs has set up a site with a helpful introduction to the topic: Help the Honey Bees. It also happens to be one of the prettiest uses of Flash I've ever seen.

Up to 2,000 New Orangutans Found in Borneo

  • Apr. 14th, 2009 at 4:58 PM
I thought the inaugural post of this community should be something happy, so here's some good news for one of our most endangered relatives: researchers in Borneo have found 219 orangutan nests, which may house up to 2000 previously unknown wild orangutans! With only 50,000 known orangutans in the wild, that's an increase of up to 5%.

In even better news, the Indonesian government is considering protecting the area of the discovery in order to ensure it remains undeveloped.

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