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UN urges Bangladesh to scrap coal plant near world's largest mangrove

UN urges Bangladesh to scrap coal plant near world's largest mangrove The sprawling Sundarbans, home of the Bengal tiger and pristine mangroves, could become a toxic dumping ground if a massive coal plant is built near its borders, a United Nations agency warned this week. The 1,320-megawatt Rampal plant under construction in Bangladesh would "irreversibly damage" the World Heritage Site if built as planned, UNESCO's World Heritage Center said Tuesday in a joint report with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The two organizations formally recommended that Rampal's developers cancel the project and move it to a safer location.  They also recommended that Bangladesh halt development of the Orion Khulna coal plant, a 660-megawatt facility in the vicinity of the Sundarbans. SEE ALSO: The Great Barrier Reef isn't dead, despite its viral obituary The U.N.-backed report is the result of a months-long research mission to determine how the coal projects and other developments would affect the World Heritage site. It also comes as major environmental groups such as Sierra Club and are lobbying to scrap the plants. "There is a very substantial threat of air pollution and water pollution," Fanny Douvere, who coordinates the World Heritage Center's marine program, told Mashable . "A lot of the things that are being proposed for Rampal would not be permitted elsewhere where there are higher [environmental] standards," she said by phone from Paris. The Sundarbans lie on the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers. Image: IUCN/Mizuki Murai Rampal is being built just 14 kilometers, or 8.7 miles, from the boundary of the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest. Spanning 140,000 hectares in Bangladesh and India on the Bay of Bengal, the Sundarbans are home to critically endangered species such as the Royal Bengal Tiger, the Ganges and Irrawaddy river dolphins, and estuarine crocodiles. The Sundarbans were deemed a World Heritage site in 1987 for their 'outstanding universal value,' meaning the forest is one of the most remarkable places in nature. The coal plant's developer, Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Co. Ltd., is a joint venture between major power companies in both nations. The governments of India and Bangladesh, which are heavily subsidizing the $1.82 billion coal plant, insist the project is safe. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdury, a top energy adviser in Bangladesh, said Rampal would have no adverse impact on the Sundarbans, Bangladeshi media reported in July. Map of Sundarbans National Park in Bangladesh. Image: Wikicommons Douvere said she and her partners at IUCN met with the plant's developers and government officials during a fact-finding mission to Bangladesh in March. The team ultimately found the coal plant would pose at least four substantial threats to the area. The first and second threats include air and water pollution from dirty smokestacks, windblown coal ash and power plant wastewater and waste ash that could blow or leak into the nearby Sundarbans. Third, building and operating the plant will require significant dredging and shipping that could destroy dolphin habitats and biodiversity. It may also strain the forest's freshwater flow, which is drastically declining as rising sea levels, port developments and increased shipping activities cause saltwater intrusion. The fourth threat is the cumulative impact of all the industrial and related development infrastructure, such as barges to move the coal and facilities to store it, plus transmission lines to carry the plant's electricity to cities. The World Heritage site is not permanently inhabited, but an estimated 6.5 million people depend directly or indirectly on the wider Sundarbans ecosystem. Image: IUCN/Mizuki Murai On top of this, the government's Environmental Impact Assessment of Rampal fails to identify the measures or procedures needed to avoid these impacts, said Remco Van Merm, the conservation officer at IUCN's World Heritage program. The assessment "further reinforces IUCN's conclusion that this development is likely to have a negative impact on the environment," he told Mashable by email. Destroying parts of the Sundarbans could eventually cause the local extinction of several endangered species, Van Merm added. It may also make local communities more vulnerable to storms, floods and cyclones as the protective forest buffer disappears. "Only intact healthy ecosystems can continue to efficiently provide these services," he said. The Rampal coal plant isn't just a threat to the environment: It also poses a large financial risk, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a Cleveland-based research group, said in a June report. The institute said electricity rates in Bangladesh are expected to rise to help offset the costs of the plant. At the same time, energy demand isn't likely to be high enough to keep the plant running at full capacity, meaning the plant could earn less money than expected. Rampal coal power plant site; Wikimapia image accessed May 2016. Image: Sourcewatch "The proposed Rampal power plant is fraught with unacceptable risk, out of step with the times, and would set Bangladesh back," the institute said in its report. Rampal's sole debt backer is the Export-Import Bank of India, which has committed a $1.6 billion loan to build the plant, according to BankTrack, a global network of non-governmental organizations that tracks the private financial sector. Other financial backers are indirectly involved in the coal plant as shareholders, bondholders or underwriters through NTPC, India's largest power utility, or the import-export bank , Yann Louvel, BankTrack's climate and energy campaign coordinator, told Mashable.  Douvere of the World Heritage Center noted that Tuesday's report is not a blanket recommendation against all coal plants in Bangladesh. "We're not saying the country shouldn't have any coal power plants," she said. "But it's very much a problem when it is going to jeopardize the 'outstanding universal value' of a place."

Bye-Bye, Bao Bao! National Zoo panda moving to China

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Zoo will be saying bye-bye to panda cub Bao Bao.

Madagascar lemurs find refuge in private sanctuary

The iconic ring-tailed lemurs are probably the most widely recognised amongst around 100 known species in Madagascar Threatened by habitat loss and hunting, Madagascar's lemurs, a critically endangered species, are finding refuge in a private sanctuary on this vast Indian Ocean island. At Nahampoana game reserve, one of the wide-eyed creatures -- the island's signature primate -- appears between long bamboo stems, while a little further down three others play in the trees on a riverbank. Nearly two decades ago, this 50-hectare (123 acre) former French colonial garden was turned into a privately run game reserve.

Pets at work may help atmosphere - but bring their own risks

In this Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016, photo, bulldog Rosie sits under the desk of her owner Barbara Goldberg, CEO of O'Connell & Goldberg Public Relations, at her office in Hollywood, Fla. Goldberg is a small business owner who believes pets improve the quality of their work life, boosting morale and easing tension for staffers. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) NEW YORK (AP) — When a conference call turns tedious, Brent Robertson can still count on getting a smile from watching Gus rolling around on the floor.

What a purr-formance! Cellist creates album for cats

David Teie, a US composer and cellist, prepares to play his cello during a interview to promote his new album "Music for Cats". David Teie plays a few high-pitched notes on his cello before passing to the low ones, stopping Lizzy, a small black cat with white paws, in her tracks. Curious, he raises up on his back legs and puts his paws on Teie's knees during an unusual performance in Lady Dinah's cat cafe in Shoreditch, east London. Despite an allergy to cats, Teie has created the world's first album entirely for felines and is distributed by a major label, Universal Music.

Humans eating wild mammals into extinction: study

More than 300 wild mammal species in Asia, Africa and Latin America are at risk of extinction due to humans, a study says More than 300 wild mammal species in Asia, Africa and Latin America are being driven to extinction by humanity's voracious appetite for bushmeat, according to a world-first assessment released Wednesday. The findings, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, are evidence of a "global crisis" for warm-blooded land animals, 15 top conservation scientists concluded. "Terrestrial mammals are experiencing a massive collapse in their population sizes and geographical ranges around the world," the study warned.

Indian capital's zoo closes over bird flu scare

New Delhi zoo has temporarily closed after two birds died of bird flu New Delhi zoo has temporarily closed after two birds died of bird flu, its curator said Wednesday, a month after India declared itself free of the disease. Riaz Khan said tests had confirmed the birds died of the H5 strain of avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu. The closure comes a month after India announced the country was bird flu-free, saying there had been no reports of an outbreak since May when more than 100,000 chickens were ordered to be culled in southern Karnataka state.

Out of the countryside, wildlife returning to Amsterdam

Out of the countryside, wildlife returning to Amsterdam More than 10,000 different animal species roam the city's nooks and crannies, sharing space already packed with around 800,000 Amsterdamers and millions of annual tourists, according to a new study. Since 2012 small grey or brown furred harbour seals have occasionally been known to travel down from the North Sea coast, arriving in Amsterdam after slipping through locks at the town of IJmuiden and swimming down the North Sea Canal to the city. "Biodiversity in Amsterdam has increased in the last decades, which has not been the trend nationally or even internationally," said Geert Timmermans, head of the city's ecology and landscape architecture project.

10,000 endangered frogs die in Peru

Dead wrinkly green frogs (Telmatobius culeus) are collected by a National Forestry and Wildlife Service staff member on the Coata river bank in Peru Peru is investigating what killed some 10,000 Titicaca water frogs, a critically endangered species affectionately known as the "scrotum frog," in a river that is feared to be polluted, authorities said Monday. Hundreds of the large, wrinkly green frogs have been found floating on the surface of the Coata river in southern Peru in recent days, prompting the National Forestry and Wildlife Service (Serfor) to launch an investigation. "Based on local residents' statements and samples taken in the days after the incident, it is believed that more than 10,000 frogs were affected over about 50 kilometers (30 miles)," Serfor said in a statement.

Endangered black rhino born at Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An endangered black rhino has given birth to an 80-pound female at Des Moines' Blank Park Zoo.

David Rosenfelt returns with 'The Twelve Dogs of Christmas'

This book cover image released by Minotaur shows "The Twelve Dogs of Christmas," by David Rosenfelt. (Minotaur via AP) "The Twelve Dogs of Christmas: an Andy Carpenter Mystery" (Minotaur), by David Rosenfelt

David Attenborough calls for peepholes in zoos

Gorilla Kira holds her baby at the zoo in Moscow on August 11, 2016 Veteran British naturalist David Attenborough called Monday for gorillas in zoos to be kept behind walls with peepholes rather than glass panels, to respect their privacy. The 90-year-old television presenter spoke out after a gorilla briefly escaped Thursday from its enclosure in London Zoo. Attenborough said the incident was "hardly surprising" when animals are subjected to intrusion.

This Dolphins Bro Harassing A Random Steelers Fan Might Be The World's Worst Fan

This Dolphins Bro Harassing A Random Steelers Fan Might Be The World's Worst Fan It was bad enough that this Steelers fan had to watch her team get beat badly by the 1-4 Miami Dolphins, but she also had to deal with sitting next to this guy, who finds this sort of gesturing about a woman he doesn’t know totally cool:Looks like someone wants to go overtime with a #Steelers fan.. #FinsUp #Dolphins

3,500 dogs, owners march in Spain against animal cruelty

A dog named "Charly" rests in the arms of his owner after both took part in a run in Madrid, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016. About 3,500 dogs of all breeds and sizes with purple bandanas around their necks marched the streets of Madrid with their owners in tow in the fifth edition of the "perroton," or Dogathon, a yearly event that seeks to raise awareness about animal cruelty and the importance of dog adoptions. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco) MADRID (AP) — About 3,500 dogs of all breeds and sizes ran through the streets of Spain's capital with their owners in the fifth edition of the "Perroton," or Dogathon, a yearly event that seeks to raise awareness about animal cruelty and encourage dog adoptions.

As marine parks scale back, dolphin exhibit opens in Arizona

ADVANCE FOR FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2016 AND THEREAFTER - Guests interact with a dolphin, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016 at Dolphinaris in Scottsdale, Ariz. Arizona's first dolphin attraction has already made a splash before its opening, drawing protests online and at its doors. Mexico-based Dolphinaris is showcasing five bottlenose dolphins at time when the public opinion has become more negative toward animals in captivity. (AP Photo/Matt York) SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — An exhibit opening Saturday in Arizona lets people swim and play with dolphins in pools on the edge of a dirt and cactus landscape near a freeway, angering animal rights activists who believe marine mammal parks should be a thing of the past.

Hungary's anti-migrant fence disrupts wildlife habitats

In this photo from Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, a doe looks back in the forest near Knezevo, northeast Croatia, near the border with Hungary. Thousands of deer and other wild animals have become the unintended victims of Hungary’s attempts to prevent migrants crossing the border from Croatia _ their natural habitat is disrupted by kilometers of barbed wire fence. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic) DUBOSEVICA, Croatia (AP) — Hungary's razor-wire border fence aims to keep refugees from entering the country — but it's also blocking the natural migratory patterns of thousands of deer and other wild animals.

Woman mauled by tiger to sue Beijing wildlife park

A woman who was mauled by a tiger after getting out of her car at a wild animal park in Beijing is suing the park, saying she hadn't been fully informed of the park's dangers and left the vehicle because she was carsick, a Chinese newspaper reported. The woman, surnamed Zhao, was seeking 2 million yuan($299,917.52) in compensation from Badaling Wildlife World, the Beijing Times reported on Thursday in what it said was her first interview since the incident on July 23. Zhao said a park official in a nearby vehicle failed to come to the rescue.

London Zoo: Escaped gorilla back in enclosure; no one hurt

Police and evacuated visitors stand outside London Zoo after a gorilla escaped in London, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. London police say an incident involving a gorilla that escaped from its enclosure at the London Zoon has been concluded. There are reports the animal was subdued Thursday with a tranquilizer gun and recaptured. There were no initial reports of injuries. (Lynne Chapman via AP) LONDON (AP) — A silverback gorilla escaped from an enclosure at London Zoo Thursday, sparking a frantic search by keepers and armed police. Some visitors were locked down in a cafeteria until the animal was sedated and recaptured.

Gorilla briefly escapes its London Zoo enclosure

A general view of London Zoo where a gorilla escaped earlier today, London LONDON (Reuters) - A gorilla escaped from its enclosure at London Zoo on Thursday and some visitors had to be locked inside a cafe for their own safety before it was recaptured, British media reported. The creature was caught after reportedly being tranquilised, the Press Association said. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the incident was now over. A gorilla named Harambe became the centre of global media attention earlier this year after being killed by staff at the Cincinnati Zoo in the United States, minutes after a three-year-old boy fell into its enclosure. ...

TripAdvisor says it's taking a stand on animal exploitation

BOSTON (AP) — Travel website TripAdvisor says it's taking a stand against animal exploitation by no longer selling bookings to attractions where travelers can make physical contact with captive wild animals or endangered species.

Welcome Ajabu! Dallas Zoo unveils male baby elephant

In this undated photo released by the Dallas Zoo, male baby elephant Ajabu walks along its mother Mlilo in the Giants of the Savanna exhibit at the Dallas Zoo in Dallas. The Dallas Zoo on Wednesday announced the male calf named Ajabu has gone on public display, with his mother, in the Giants of the Savanna exhibit. Ajabu was born May 14 to Mlilo (muh-LEE'-loh). The pachyderm was pregnant when she arrived earlier this year at the Dallas Zoo. (The Dallas Zoo via AP) DALLAS (AP) — Visitors to the Dallas Zoo can now observe a baby elephant whose mother gave birth this spring after being rescued from the African nation of Swaziland.

'Drone doctors' are helping bring whales back from brink of extinction

'Drone doctors' are helping bring whales back from brink of extinction The southern right whale was given its name because tragically, it was the "right" whale for whaling. The animals tended to swim close to shore, making them easy marks for whalers who hunted them to the brink of extinction.  Thanks to drones, researchers are helping the southern right whale make a comeback while keeping an eye on the effects of climate change. SEE ALSO: Climate activists shut down 5 tar sands oil pipelines Researchers from Murdoch University, supported by WWF Australia, are monitoring the whales as they breed in the Great Australian Bight in the country's south. Fredrik Christiansen, a researcher at Murdoch University, told Mashable southern right whale populations are recovering, albeit slowly. In Australia, they are thought to number only around 3,500. Bella's calf on July 3 (top) and September 4 (bottom). The calf grew 1.83 metres (6 foot) in length in two months. Image: FREDRIK CHRISTIANSEN/MURDOCH UNIVERSITY "Although the humpback was hunted almost as much, the humpbacks are 10 times as many now as the southern right whale," he said. "They are still endangered. There are still populations in the North Atlantic where they are critically endangered." When the whales visit Australia, they typically breed and aggregate along the south coast of the country from late May to late October. That gives scientists the opportunity to use drones to monitor their health. Christiansen said the technology has proved invaluable. "To get this kind of information before you would need a helicopter or a plane — it was expensive, noisy and involved some risk for the operator," he added. The team fly DJI Inspire 1 Pro drones off the cliffs of the Great Australian Bight with the permission of the Aboriginal Lands Trust, allowing them to minimise disturbance to the animals while getting high resolution images and measurements. After months of monitoring, the team found female southern right whales lose an extraordinary amount of body mass while feeding and fattening their calves. Some females lose more than half a metre in width roughly, Christiansen explained, while the calves can grow more than two metres (seven foot) in length. "When the whales leave, the females look quite emaciated," he said. "There is so much energy being transferred between the female and the calves, especially when they're not feeding." During this time, the mother whales rely entirely on their fat stores. Maybeline and her calf on July 2 (top) and August 31 (bottom). Maybeline lost 40 cm (16 inches) in width while her calf gained 1.53 metres (5 foot) in length. Image: FREDRIK CHRISTIANSEN/MURDOCH UNIVERSITY Ultimately, the team hope to discover how climate change will affect the whales. For example, how krill production in their Antarctic feeding ground — the abundance of which will likely be impacted by the rise in sea temperature and receding sea ice — will affect their condition once they arrive in Australia. Monitoring these factors can tell scientists about the probability of the whales surviving and reproducing. Southern right whales only calve every three to four years. "We can also compare our population to other populations to see if the Australian population is doing better," he added. Bella on July 3 (top) and September 4 (bottom). She lost 31 centimetres (12 inches) in width in 63 days. Image: FREDRIK CHRISTIANSEN/MURDOCH UNIVERSITY To continue the work, the WWF is campaigning to raise additional funds. "This [drone] technology is getting picked up all over the world by whale monitoring groups," Christiansen said. "In a few years, we're going to know the condition of most baleen whale populations around the world." BONUS: Veteran caught in extreme flooding saved thanks to drone

To save human lives, U.S. hurricane shelters protect pets, too

By Harriet McLeod NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - With Hurricane Matthew barreling down on the southeastern United States, Lindsay and Henry Barrios faced a potentially life-changing decision: whether to evacuate their South Carolina home. Fortunately for them, and their dog named Cash, many hurricane shelters now accept animals, a lesson learned after Hurricane Katrina slammed New Orleans and large parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005. People showed up then at shelters with pets, only to find that shelters turned them away.

A bit wild: Asian animal cafes go from mere cats to meerkats

In this Sept. 30, 2016 photo, Miyu Nakajima, left, and Nina Arakawa, right, pet a snake at Tokyo’s Snake Center, in Tokyo. Cat cafes where customers sip lattes while petting resident kitties are just opening their doors around the U.S. and Europe. But in Asia, where the first one opened more than a decade ago, the concept has moved well beyond felines. At Tokyo’s Snake Center, visitors pay 1,100 yen (about $11) for a cup of coffee and a slithery friend to wind around their arm; a plate of curry bread snacks or a really big snake costs extra. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) BANGKOK (AP) — Cat cafes where customers sip lattes while petting resident kitties are just opening their doors around the U.S. and Europe. But in Asia, where the first one opened more than a decade ago, the concept has moved well beyond felines.

Iceblocks for elephants as Sydney's zoo turns 100

The Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge can be seen behind giraffes as they eat leaves shaped into the number 100 during centenary celebrations at Sydney's Taronga Zoo The animals of Sydney's harbourside Taronga Zoo munched celebratory meals on Friday, to mark the park's centenary. One of Sydney's main tourist attractions, Taronga Zoo opened in 1916, when Australia was at war in Europe. Its "bar-less" enclosures were inspired by Hamburg Zoo and it was stocked with a menagerie of 228 mammals, 552 birds and 64 reptiles which crossed Sydney Harbour by barge from an earlier zoo.

Meet Granddad: Weird, Ancient Reptile Gave Rise to Mammals

Meet Granddad: Weird, Ancient Reptile Gave Rise to Mammals Two weird, mammal-like reptiles that sort of looked like scaly rats, each smaller than a loaf of bread, roamed ancient Brazil about 235 million years ago, likely dining on insects the predators snagged with their pointy teeth, a new study finds. "These new fossils help [us] understand in more detail the evolution of pre-mammalian forms that gave rise to the group of mammals, in which we humans (Homo sapiens) are included," the study's lead author, Agustín Martinelli, a paleontologist at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, told Live Science in an email.

The 'big five' decisions at CITES wildlife trade meeting

An installation showing a rhino and an elephant in Mandela Square as part of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild, Fauna and Flora) convention in Johannesburg on September 26, 2016 The world's largest wildlife meeting wrapped up late Tuesday with conservationists hailing progress in tightening rules on trafficking of endangered species including sharks, grey parrots and pangolins. More than 2,500 delegates sifted through 62 proposals to reform trade restrictions on more than 400 species. Wildlife campaigners generally welcomed the outcome, adding that concrete action was now needed to tackle a global boom in poaching and trafficking.

World wildlife talks end with tighter conservation rules

All trade of the reclusive, scale-covered pangolin -- the world's most heavily trafficked mammal, prized as an edible delicacy and an ingredient in Asian traditional medicine -- will now be banned A global conference on wildlife trade wrapped up on Tuesday after adopting a slew of decisions to curb rampant trafficking of threatened species such as sharks and pangolins. Officials and conservationists meeting under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) have been gathered in Johannesburg for the past 11 days seeking to toughen restrictions on the trade of species nearing extinction. "We were encouraged that governments fully embraced the precautionary principle by making decisions in the best interest of the species in the wild," said Susan Lieberman, vice president of policy at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Preview: November's biggest games - 'Call of Duty,' 'Watch Dogs 2,' 'Pokémon Sun & Moon'

"Pokémon Sun" and "Pokémon Moon" take players off to Polynesian climes. The "Call of Duty" series looks to match the seismic change of 2007's "Modern Warfare" with the far-flung "Infinite Warfare;" cyberhacking and youthful ambition abound in "Watch Dogs 2;" a Hawaiian-esque paradise is stuffed with collectible in "Pokémon Sun & Moon;" "Dishonored 2" makes its play to become one of the year's top action games; and "Gran Turismo Sport" marks the racing franchise's first foothold on PlayStation 4.

Factbox: Decisions made at U.N. meeting on wildlife trade in South Africa

The 17th meeting of the U.N.'s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has been meeting in Johannesburg, with ivory, rhinos and parrots on the agenda. Sharks and Rays CITES members also voted to include the silky shark, three species of thresher sharks and nine species of devil rays in its "Appendix II" listing, which strictly controls trade so that species are not overharvested or threatened.

Vienna zoo appeals for help to name panda cub

Giant Panda twin cubs are seen in a breeding box inside their enclosure at Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo has picked a name for a female panda and is asking animal lovers to help it choose one for her male twin. Giant Panda Yang Yang gave birth to the cubs on Aug. 7. "We have already found a name for the female panda but we are not giving it away," zoo director Dagmar Schratter said.

Butterfly photobombs koala at Australian wildlife park

SYDNEY (Reuters) - An inquisitive butterfly that photobombed an Australian wildlife park's promotional video with a koala joey has proved a viral hit. Staff at Symbio Wildlife Park, on the New South Wales coast, were filming Willow the koala when she reached out to grab the butterfly, which flew on to the marsupial's head before resting on her nose. The video, uploaded last week with a tagline "the cutest thing you will ever see", has been viewed more than 3.2 million times on Symbio's Facebook page. (Reporting by Stefica Bikes; Editing by Patrick Johnston)

Decisions made at U.N. meeting on wildlife trade in South Africa

A Kenya Wildlife Service ranger stacks elephant tusks on a pyre near Nairobi The 17th meeting of the U.N.'s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has been meeting in Johannesburg, with ivory, rhinos and parrots on the agenda. Sharks and Rays CITES members also voted to include the silky shark, three species of thresher sharks and nine species of devil rays in its "Appendix II" listing, which strictly controls trade so that species are not overharvested or threatened.

Top African wildlife park looks to villages to stop poachers

In this photo taken Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, recruits at the Southern African Wildlife College on the edge of Kruger National Park in South Africa explain conditions in the wild during their attempts to track poachers. As teams of poachers stalk rhinos and elephants in the park, wildlife officials are turning to nearby communities to help stop the slaughter by using local knowledge to deter poachers, not join them. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell) KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, South Africa (AP) — On the edge of South Africa's largest wildlife reserve, the line between poacher and park ranger can be uncomfortably thin. Sometimes, Marianne de Kock watches it disappear.

Ivory trade vote exposes divisions on saving elephant

Targeted for their tusks, Africa's elephants have been decimated by poaching, with a new study showing the number has fallen by around 111,000 in the past decade The global conference that governs wildlife trade voted Monday against strengthening the ban on ivory sales, exposing bitter divisions among African countries and experts over elephant conservation. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) rejected a proposal to include all African elephants in its highest category of protection, which bans trade in species facing extinction. A coalition of 29 African countries -- led by Kenya and Benin -- had pressed for African elephants to be put in the CITES "Appendix I" category.

Namibia, Zimbabwe fail to get U.N. permission to export ivory

Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management official checks ivory inside a storeroom in Harare By Ed Stoddard JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Namibia and Zimbabwe failed on Monday to convince a U.N. body on Monday that they should be allowed to export ivory - something they had argued would protect rather than further endanger Africa's elephants. Member countries of the U.N.'s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted overwhelmingly to reject the proposals to sell tusks seized from poachers and taken from animals that had died naturally or been put down by the state. "African elephants are in steep decline across much of the continent due to poaching for their ivory, and opening up any legal trade in ivory would complicate efforts to conserve them," said Ginette Hemley, the head of the CITES delegation for conservation group WWF.

Pangolins, the world's most trafficked mammals, get major boost in battle against extinction

Pangolins, the world's most trafficked mammals, get major boost in battle against extinction The pangolin — a scaly, bug-eating, cat-sized anteater — may soon gain a higher level of protection as conservationists race to save the mammal from extinction. Pangolins, native to Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, are believed to be the most trafficked animals in the world. Their scales are a common ingredient in traditional Asian medicines, and their meat is considered a luxury food in many cultures. SEE ALSO: Countries call for end to domestic ivory trade as elephants disappear At a world wildlife conference in South Africa this week, countries are expected to give eight pangolin species the top level of protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). A Temminck's ground pangolin licks up insects. Image: Tikki Hywood Trust/u.S. fish and wildlife service By listing pangolins in Appendix I — a group including species threatened with extinction — nations would agree to ban international commercial trade of pangolins and their parts in all but "exceptional circumstances," according to CITES. "This decision will help give pangolins a fighting chance," Susan Lieberman of the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement from Johannesburg. "These species need extra protection, and under CITES Appendix I, they will get it," she added. Pangolins feed on ants and termites, using their claws to break into nests and their long, sticky tongues to lap up insects.  When a predator approaches, they roll up into a ball, with their scaly exterior protecting pangolins from the fangs of larger creatures. Sadly, this ball-rolling approach only makes it easier for poachers to snatch them. A CITES subcommittee voted late last week to move pangolins into Appendix I from Appendix II, a less stringent designation that allows for some controlled levels of trade, so long as it doesn't threaten the species' survival.  The final CITES category, Appendix III, includes species that are protected in at least one country that has asked other nations to help control the trade. Pangolins' change in status will become official if confirmed during the summit's plenary session this week. It would then enter into force 90 days later. Wildlife experts estimate that more than 1 million pangolins have been traded illegally in the past decade — despite earlier efforts to halt the poaching and illegal trade of these nocturnal mammals. A Zimbabwe game reserve guide pets "Marimba", a female pangolin weighing 22 pounds, Sept. 22, 2016. Image: JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images CITES established a "zero annual export quota" for Asian pangolin species in 2000, and many countries in Africa and Asia with pangolin populations have already adopted domestic laws to prohibit the capture and trade of pangolins. In the United States, one species of pangolin, the Temminck's ground pangolin, is listed as "endangered" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. But as Asian pangolin species become harder to find, due to dwindling populations and the zero export quota, traders are turning to African pangolin species to meet market demand, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Bags of African pangolin scales seized by Hong Kong officials, June 23, 2016. Image: Hong Kong customs This summer, Hong Kong officials said they discovered more than 8,800 pounds (4,000 kilograms) of African pangolin scales hidden in cargo labeled "sliced plastics" from Cameroon, the government said in a press release.  The haul, worth $1.25 million (HK$9.8 million), was estimated to represent between 1,100 and 6,600 pangolins. Pangolins don't generally thrive in captivity, and they have a slow reproductive rate and low natural population density in the wild. As poachers snatch rising numbers of pangolins and urban development destroys their habitats, the mammals are increasingly nearing extinction, conservation groups have warned.

UN wildlife conference bans trade in African grey parrot

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A U.N. wildlife conference has approved a ban on international trade in wild populations of the African grey parrot, which is heavily sought after as a pet because of its ability to mimic words.

7 bee species listed as endangered for the first time in U.S.

7 bee species listed as endangered for the first time in U.S. HONOLULU — Federal authorities on Friday added seven yellow-faced bee species, Hawaii's only native bees, for protection under the Endangered Species Act, a first for any bees in the United States. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the listing after years of study by the conservation group Xerces Society, state government officials and independent researchers. The Xerces Society says its goal is to protect nature's pollinators and invertebrates, which play a vital role in the health of the overall ecosystem. SEE ALSO: This is why millions of bees have died in South Carolina The nonprofit organization was involved in the initial petitions to protect the bee species, said Sarina Jepson, director of endangered species and aquatic programs for the Portland, Oregon-based group. Jepson said yellow-faced bees can be found elsewhere in the world, but these particular species are native only to Hawaii and pollinate plant species indigenous to the islands. The bees face a variety of threats including "feral pigs, invasive ants, loss of native habitat due to invasive plants, fire, as well as development, especially in some for the coastal areas," Jepson told The Associated Press. The bees can be found in a wide variety of habitats in Hawaii, from coastal environments to high-elevation shrub lands, she said. The yellow-faced bees pollinate some of Hawaii's endangered native plant species. While other bees could potentially pollinate those species, many could become extinct if these bees were to die off entirely. Hawaii-based entomologist Karl Magnacca worked with Xerces on much of the initial research. It has taken almost 10 years to get to this point, he told the AP. "It's good to see it to finally come to fruition," he said. The bees "tend to favor the more dominant trees and shrubs we have here," he said. "People tend to focus on the rare plants, and those are important, that's a big part of the diversity. But the other side is maintaining the common ones as common. (The bees) help maintain the structure of the whole forest." Magnacca added that there are a lot more rare insects that deserve protection. "It may not necessarily be appropriate to list them as endangered, but we have this huge diversity that we need to work on and protect here in Hawaii," he said. "There's a huge amount of work that needs to be done." The bees are critical for maintaining the health of plants and other animals across the islands, said Gregory Koob, conservation and restoration team manager for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Honolulu. There is no designated critical habitat attached to the listing, he said, but the protection will allow authorities to implement recovery programs, access funding and limit their harm from outside sources. All federal agencies must consult with the Fish and Wildlife service when interacting with endangered species. "As an animal, it can't be taken or harmed or killed by individuals," Koob said. "Any research that is done needs a permit from Fish and Wildlife Service unless it's done by a state agency." Koob said that if the bees were removed from ecosystem, the plants that they pollinate would likely not survive. "Those plants are not only food and nesting habitat for the bees, but they also provide habitat for other animals," he said. "It's the web of life." Friday's listing finalized the protection of 10 animal species in Hawaii, the seven bees along with the band-rumped storm-petrel, the orangeblack Hawaiian damselfly and the anchialine pool shrimp. It also added 39 species of plants native to Hawaii. The rusty-patched bumble bee, found widely across the continental United States, is also being considered for protection.

Feds list 7 Hawaii bee species as endangered, a first in US

In this undated photo provided by John Kaia, a yellow-faced bee is shown in Hawaii. Federal authorities added seven yellow-faced bee species, Hawaii’s only native bees, for protection under the Endangered Species Act Friday, Sept. 30, 2016, a first for any bees in the United States. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the listing after years of study by the conservation group Xerces Society. (John Kaia via AP) HONOLULU (AP) — Federal authorities on Friday added seven yellow-faced bee species, Hawaii's only native bees, for protection under the Endangered Species Act, a first for any bees in the United States.

Sea Dogs Beat Rock Cats To End Skid

Portland, Maine — William Cuevas, making his Double A debut, allowed one run and four hits in five innings as the Portland Sea Dogs beat the New Britain Rock Cats 4-1 Tuesday night at Hadlock Field.

County says there are 5,000 cats living on the streets

Tuesday afternoon, the director of Clay County Animal Care and Control went before the Clay County Commission to ask for financial help to combat the county’s large feral cat problem.

Purrfect friend for homeless cats

MOVE over Catwoman, there’s a new group of modern day superheroes in town. Barbara Jackson and her team have rescued more than 700 cats since creating Wild Cats in 2010.

Rock Cats Home Opener on Thursday Night at NB Stadium

New Britain, CT- The New Britain Rock Cats Baseball Club, the Double-A Eastern League Affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, will host OPENING NIGHT 2015 this Thursday, April 16 at 6:35 PM against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays affiliate).

Dogs reunited with owners far more than cats

Sometimes people maybe assume something bad has happened to their cat. Maybe they don’t look quite as hard. I do think cats aren’t maybe regarded as much as dogs. — Andrea McDonald, Coquitlam City Hall

More concerns about Raleigh neighborhood dogs: woman’s dog killed

Police were called again about a group of vicious dogs in one local neighborhood.

Releasing feral cats raises concerns

The Orange County animal shelter starts to get busy around this time of the year as people bring in newborn kittens and pregnant mother cats.Celesta Peterson, who has volunteered at the shelter for eight years, said she used to walk past feral cat...

Sick coyotes' habits boost encounters with humans

Certain coyotes are known to have frequent unnerving encounters with humans and their pets in residential neighbourhoods, and scientists now have an explanation. It turns out that coyotes infected with a common skin parasite tend to develop habits that make them problem animals. "These coyotes that were losing their hair and were sick were more likely to run into people in residential areas ...

Yates, Sea Dogs agree to split in surprising move

Sea Dogs couldn't replicate the magic behind their hot start, and it leads to a mutual parting-of-ways for coach and team.

QC’s ‘4 pets per house’ ordinance repealed

First, the good news: The controversial animal regulation ordinance limiting the number of cats and dogs Quezon City residents can keep has become null and void following the approval of another one which does not contain the provision.   The bad news, however, is that the "four domesticated animals per household" policy may still be incorporated into the implementing rules and regulations (IRR ...