Monthly Archives: July 2017

Earth’s big carnivores are in trouble.

Some of the world’s largest carnivores have lost 90% of their historic range according to a recent study. These are; the Ethiopian wolf, red wolf, tiger, lion, African wild dog and the cheetah. If they are to survive longterm they have to be reintroduced in the areas where they used to live. A difficult prospect.

Scientists looked at historical maps of 500 years ago to come to the sad conclusion that these big carnivores are in trouble. This contraction is a global issue. Out of 25 large carnivores 15 of them have lost more than 60% of their historic range.

Man is part of the solution to expand the range again of these carnivores. People have to be willing to live again with some of these carnivores such as the wolf. Human tolerance is key.

As well, protected areas will work in regions where there is low human density, little livestock and limited agriculture. If one adds larger networks of protected land and favorable human attitudes carnivores can come back to their old haunts.

There is already some success as in parts of Europe the brown bear, the lynx and the gray wolf are coming back to the areas that were once theirs. The dingo and several types of hyena are also doing well as compared to the lion and tiger.


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The Cook Islands in the news.

The Cook Islands have just created one of the biggest marine sanctuaries in the world. This sanctuary will protect parts of the Pacific ocean that are three times as big as France. This zone will be 1.9 million of square kilometers of the ocean.

The Cook Islands count only 10,000 people and its 15 islands cover about 236 square kilometers. The idea of this sanctuary is not to restrict any human activity but to control it and to exploit it in a durable fashion for years to come. The sanctuary will comprise an area of 320,000 square kilometers where fishing will be forbidden.

The Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Henry Puna hopes that this new sanctuary will inspire other nations around the world to do the same and protect more of the oceans.

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The ice is melting faster!

Scientists in the U.K have just determined that an increase in sunshine in the past 20 years is having an effect on the ice melt in Greenland. This could literally affect millions of people worldwide. If the Greenland ice sheet melted we could see global sea levels rise by 6 meters.

It has been estimated that 25 per cent of global sea level rise can be attributed to the melting of the ice sheet on Greenland. Since 1995 Greenland has lost about 4.000 gigatons of ice.

Scientists believe that as the Arctic is warming faster, it is affecting the weather over Greenland. There are less clouds and more clear skies in now. This increase in sunlight explains about two-thirds of the ice melt in Greenland since the 1990’s. Since 2003 ice loss has nearly doubled.

No doubt that things could simply go on towards the day when the ice sheet in Greenland is no more, and millions of people who live by the shore will be severely affected. Just slowing the rate of melt will be difficult. Perhaps we should prepare people for what seems inevitable, a global rise in sea levels in the next 25 years that could be catastrophic.

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The woodchuck and I.

I had the good fortune today of seeing a woodchuck up close and personal as. I must say that I am always ready for such animal encounters as I always carry my camera when walking in the botanical garden.

I had spotted the animal from afar as I was walking on the road that passes by a large field. This field is used by children who plant vegetables and other produce and are then used by the community. The animal was towards the end of the field where only grass is present.

I immediately walked straight towards the object of my interest, but at a slow pace. Woodchucks are notoriously shy and a sudden advance on them would have been the kiss of death on my photographic projects. I therefore moved only when it was not looking at me.

The animal was content in eating the grass that was in front of it, sometimes turning left and at times not moving and looking in my direction. I acted the part of appearing to be a statue. It would often chew on the grass and then look up. I was always on the move until I was a few feet from it, hiding behind a rock formation that had been shaped as a wheel by employees of the garden. From there I began taking pictures as I was unsure for how long the animal would stay.

The weather was not the best as the skies were cloudy but at times the sun would shine. I was now crouching and taking pictures of the animal and decided to get even closer to it but slowly. I knew that any rapid movements on my part would mean the sudden departure of my subject.

At times the woodchuck exhibited a strange behviour. At one point it stood on its back legs and stood up looking at me, seeming to strike a pose for me. Of course it is possible that it was trying to intimidate me by appearing larger than it really was. Interestingly not a sound was uttered by the animal. I took more pictures especially as the sun’s rays were now shining on my subject. The animal is not a colourful subject as its fur is brown with some reddish tint into it and it has the face of a beaver. But it is wild.

I was now facing the animal squarely and it did not seem to mine. In fact, it was so comfortable that it installed itself on a flat rock and stretched it front paws slightly in front of it. It was still eying me though, keeping a close eye on me. I was happy as I took more pictures while it stretched in the sun.

After about ten minutes of this the woodchuck suddenly got up and entered a small forest at the back of the area leaving me alone. Not once had it uttered a sound. It was always looking at me and knew at all times where I was and what I was doing. I was not doing much of course, except taking pictures.

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A bees life…

Well now it is official; a bees life is shortened because of the use of pesticides called
Neonicotinoids. They die sooner than bees not exposed to these pesticides and it is not by a small amount, almost 25%.

Not only that, there was higher worker mortality and deficits in learning and memory. The queen was affected as well. Bee keepers are not surprised by all this as they have been on the frontlines of this for the past years.

Some of the changes in bees include bees flying longer, worker bees living fewer days and the inability to keep the colony clean of dead bees. The queen was not taken care adequately as well.

For the beekeepers the answer to this problem is clear; when corn seed is treated with these pesticides it should be done on an only-as-needed basis and not as a preventative measure.

Some countries have put a ban on those pesticides that hurt bees and research is still being done on the bees and the effects pesticides have on them. Health Canada is presently considering a ban on two of those pesticides that seem to harm bees.

Let us remember that bees are vital to plant and crop pollination. Bees are not the sole pollinators yet they are the most abundant with 700 species alone found in Canada. We depend on bees.


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