The two zoos will create a 1,000-acre haven in Louisiana for giraffes, antelopes, birds and other species.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced it will consider listing sperm whales in the Gulf of Mexico as a “distinct population segment” as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in response to a petition that was filed by WildEarth Guardians in 2011.
“I’m glad to see our Gulf whales move one step closer to better protections,” said Taylor Jones, Endangered Species Advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “After two and a half centuries of unregulated whaling, humanity owes this species every opportunity for recovery.”
It’s estimated that as many as 1,000,000 were killed by whalers, but commercial whaling of sperm whales declined decades ago and essentially stopped when the moratorium against whaling was put in place.
Today, sperm whales are listed as endangered, but the population of 1,300 in the Gulf may be different enough to warrant separate protection. Jones told the AP the group is happy but not surprised, because their petition is based on information in NOAA Fisheries’ recovery plan for sperm whales.
Not only are these year-round residents genetically different, but they are unique in a number of ways. According to WildEarth Guardians:
They are a resident population that generally does not migrate beyond the Gulf. They use a different repertoire of vocalizations than other sperm whales. These vocalizations, called “codas,” have distinct patterns and are likely culturally learned, much like human language. Sperm whales in the Gulf have a “dialect” that is rarely encountered outside the Gulf. They are smaller than other sperm whales and group in smaller numbers, and have been observed foraging in shallower water than other sperm whales. Because of these unique adaptations, if the Gulf sperm whales were to become extirpated, there is little evidence that other sperm whales would or could colonize the area.
They also face unique threats in the area ranging from oil and gas development, climate change, dead zones caused by runoff and the after effects from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, along with possible future catastrophe if anything happens to pipelines currently running through the Gulf. They’re also known to congregate near the mouth of the Mississippi River, which is a busy area that leaves them vulnerable to noise pollution and ship strikes.
If they are listed, the government will have to put additional safeguards in place which could limit activities in the Gulf and require industries to undergo more comprehensive environmental reviews to show that their activities will not harm either the whales or their habitat, along with possibly designating critical habitat for sperm whales.
Infographic “Say ‘No, Thanks? to Plastic Bags”
Designed by LOQI, posted on Visual.ly
Plastic plastic everywhere…
Since the end of 2009, Bhutan has been trialling a new approach to education. Its Green Schools for Green Bhutan programme is part of the country’s attempt to integrate principles of its revolutionary Gross National Happiness (GNH) model into all areas of public policy.
Since 1971, this tiny Himalayan state has rejected the idea of measuring progress and prosperity through GDP alone, instead governing through a GNH index – based on four pillars: equitable social development; cultural preservation; conservation of the environment and promotion of good governance.
—from “’Let Nature Be Your Teacher’: Bhutan Takes Conservation into the Classroom” by Annie Kelly writing in Guardian.co.uk (Jan. 2, 2013)
In 1971, the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan introduced a model of measuring prosperity not by GDP but through Gross National Happiness (GNH), a system of governance based on four pillars: equitable social development, cultural preservation, conservation of the environment, and promotion of good governance. In 2009, the GNH model began to be integrated into the education system through the Green Schools for Green Bhutan initiative.Schools in Bhutan are being encouraged to put the principles of GNH at the heart of education in an effort to make learning more relevant, thoughtful and aligned with sustainable practices. The government has introduced a GNH-based national curriculum, and Unicef Bhutan has funded a training programme for headteachers to help schools implement the scheme at classroom level.The Jigme Losel primary school in the capital, Thimphu, is considered a model of the green schools mindset. The school has introduced practical programmes, including basic agricultural skills, to teach the more than 800 pupils about conservation. Each class has its own tree to care for, and there is a communal vegetable patch and flower garden for the children to manage. The school runs a sustainable food programme feeding low-income students and their families.Children are taught about conserving natural resources, climate change and the dangers of deforestation and pollution. ‘Most of our country is mountainous, but here in the city I think the children can feel disconnected,’ headteacher Choki Dukpa says. ‘Environmental protection is enshrined in our constitution, but young children have to learn why it is important to protect the environment and how the country’s future prosperity depends on its conservation’. [photo]
“In a century when the natural world is slowly dying all around us - when wildness has been pushed the margins - the wide open space of the Great Plains are a landscape of hope.”
Now that the federal government has passed responsibility for these majestic lands back to the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, walking away from decades of conservation stewardship, these natural wonders now stand threatened. The Saskatchewan government has announced its intention to sell to the highest bidder and throw this heritage jewel under the blade of energy and other development.
Human-wildlife conflict remains a major concern in Borneo, where villagers in West Kalimantan recently set fire to a tree housing an orangutan that had raided their crops. The severely injured orangutan was rescued by ProFauna Indonesia, but faces a long and painful recovery. For more, visit: www.profauna.net/en/en.
Source: Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP-UNEP)
Lonesome George, the giant tortoise who became the face of the Galapagos Islands conservation effort, was found dead in his corral Sunday morning, according to a statement by the Galapagos National Park Service. He was believed to be more than 100 years old and weighed 200 pounds.
Image: Teddy Garcia / Reuters
Sad stuff. Last of his subspecies. Pour one out for the old guy.
Less ‘pink slime’ may mean more poorly treated cattle
Many grocery stores are getting rid of beef with added lean, finely textured beef due to consumer concern. Score one for consumers — but not for the cows. The American Meat Institute estimates that an additional 1.5 million head of cattle will be necessary to create the meat that will take the place of “pink slime.”