Archive | Animals

Wildlife on the Increase in Uganda Parks

KAMPALA, Uganda, Sept. 25 (UPI) — The populations of animals in Uganda’s national parks and game reserves have soared over the past decade, the Uganda Wildlife Authority says.

The latest figures show that the population of some species has doubled since 1999 as wildlife has benefited from improved monitoring and the expulsion of rebels from the country, UWA spokeswoman Lillian Nsubuga said.

Since the expulsion of the Lord’s Resistance Army from northern Uganda, wildlife officials have also been able to limit poaching in the region’s parks and reserves, she said.

“We can’t say that poaching is no longer a problem, but we have been able to reduce it,” Nsubuga told BBC News.

The animals on the rise include zebras, buffaloes, giraffes and elephants.

The population with the biggest increase is that of the Impala, a grazing antelope.

The number of Impala in Uganda has risen to more than 35,000 from around 1,600 at the time of the last census in 1999, the UWA said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Veterinarians: Prepare Pet Disaster Plan

SCHAUMBURG, Ill., Sept. 18 (UPI) — The American Veterinary Medical Association produced a video to remind people to make plans for their pets and animals in case of a disaster, officials say.

Dr. Ron DeHaven, chief executive of the American Veterinary Medical Association, says the entire video can be viewed at www.avmatv.org or www.avmamedia.org. The video is open for free use on any Web site, DeHaven says.

“In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and taught us many important lessons, one of which was that many people are completely unprepared to evacuate with their pets in a disaster,” DeHaven said in a statement.

“As a result, many animals died during Hurricane Katrina, and many more were displaced.”

DeHaven explains in the video how evacuating or protecting animals in a hurricane or any disaster such as a house fire, tornado or forest fire can be difficult.

For example, if a natural disaster strikes and animal owners flee with their pets, they may find that many hotels and shelters will refuse animals over a certain size — or in general, DeHaven says. However, some shelters do provide for pets and it is important to have identity them and prepare for their requirements in advance.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Animals, Other, Pets0 Comments

Ban & Jerry's Weighs in on Genetic Foods

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 (UPI) — Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s has joined the debate in Washington over genetically modified salmon, observers said.

Speaking at a Washington protest Thursday, Ben & Jerry’s CEO Jostein Solheim said his company won’t use products consumers are not interested in buying, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News reported.

“Most Americans do not want to eat food made from genetically engineered animals. … Ben & Jerry’s certainly has no interest in using foods from animals that are genetically engineered in our product,” Solheim said.

“Today it’s a fish that we’re talking about, but very soon it will be a genetically engineered pig, a chicken, even, God forbid, our beloved cows,” he said.

The protest in Washington was organized by people opposed to the genetically modified salmon produced by Canadian company Aqua Bounty at its facility near Prince Edward Island.

Aqua Bounty is approaching the end of a long process to have its genetically modified salmon approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

A coalition of groups from both the United States and Canada organized the Washington rally.

A report by scientists from the FDA concluded the Aqua Bounty salmon, engineered to grow at twice the normal rate, are not significantly different from other salmon as a food.

The FDA will hold public hearings on the fish Sunday and Monday.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Animals, Fish, Other0 Comments

Body 'rhythms' Determined by Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 (UPI) — Israeli scientists say honeybees removed from their usual hive roles quickly and drastically changed their biological rhythms, behaviors and internal clocks.

Researchers at The Hebrew University say the findings indicate social environment has a significant effect on the physiology and behavior of animals, a Society for Neuroscience release reported Tuesday.

In people, disturbances to the biological clock are known to cause problems for shift workers and new parents and for contributing to mood disorders, scientists say.

Circadian rhythm, the body’s “internal clock,” regulates daily functions, but how that clock is affected by — and affects — social interactions with other animals is unknown, they say.

The researchers studied honeybee “nurses,” those bees who spend all their time caring for larvae in a continuous activity different from other bees whose activity levels rise and fall throughout the day.

The scientists found that when these “nurse” bees were separated from the larvae, their cellular rhythms and behavior completely changed, matching a more typical circadian cycle of other bees.

This is evidence of the tightly regulated interactions between genes and behavior in a bee colony, a scientist not affiliated with the study says.

“The presence or absence of larvae switched the genes ‘on’ or ‘off,’ which guaranteed the adaptive behavior of the bees,” Jurgen Tautz, of the University of Wurzburg in Germany said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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'Roadkill' Project Aims to Help Wildlife

DAVIS, Calif., Sept. 14 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’re turning their attention to roadkill for a better understanding of the impact of the nation’s roads on wildlife and the environment.

Volunteers like retired veterinarian Ron Ringen, 69, are taking photographs of killed animals and using GPS devices to record the precise location for the study, The New York Times reported.

“I’m almost a fanatic with it,” Ringen said. “You get hooked.”

He’s among hundreds of volunteers collecting and uploading roadkill data to the California Roadkill Observation System, a mapping Web site built by researchers at the University of California, Davis.

The aim is to better understand where and why cars strike animals.

“For some people the only contact they have with wild animals is when they run them over,” Fraser M. Shilling, lead researcher on the project, said. “This is the first time people have been able to record roadkill online and I think it will change our understanding of what our road system is really doing to wildlife.”

Researchers say they will use the data to build statistical models to predict roadkill hot spots and suggest where animal road crossings, culverts and warning signs would be most effective on current and future roadways, the Times said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Animals, Cars, Other0 Comments

Turtle Species Facing Rapid Decline

LONDON, Sept. 10 (UPI) — World populations of freshwater turtles are in catastrophic decline with one-third of the globe’s species facing extinction, a U.S. conservation group says.

Conservation International says the unsustainable taking of turtles for food and to supply a lucrative pet trade are behind the drop in numbers of the estimated 280 world species, the BBC reported Friday.

Turtles are highly sought in Asia, particularly in China, where turtle meat is believed to have medicinal benefits.

Habitat loss caused by damming of rivers for hydro-electricity is another major problem, CI said.

The outlook is worrisome, said Peter Paul van Dijk, director of CI’s Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Conservation Program.

“These are animals that take 15-20 years to reach maturity and then live for another 30-40 years, putting a clutch of eggs in the ground every year,” he said.

“They play the odds, hoping that in that 50-year lifetime, some of their hatchlings will somehow evade predators and go on to breed themselves.

“But if you take these animals out before they’ve reached 15 and can reproduce, it all ends there,” van Dijk said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Animals, Conservation, Electricity, Other0 Comments

Tiniest Creatures Defend Trees

GAINSVILLE, Fla., Sept. 2 (UPI) — Researchers say one of Africa’s smallest creatures — the ant — is up to the job of protecting trees from one of the continent’s largest animals — elephants.

University of Florida biology Professor Todd Palmer says hordes of angry ants will crawl up into elephant trunks to repel the ravenous pachyderms from devouring tree cover throughout drought-plagued East African savannas, a university release says.

“It really is a David and Goliath story, where these little ants are up against these huge herbivores, protecting trees and having a major impact on the ecosystems in which they live,” Palmer said. “Swarming groups of ants that weigh about 5 milligrams each can and do protect trees from animals that are about a billion times more massive.”

Rainfall, soil nutrients, plant-eating herbivores and fire are the main regulators of the mixture of trees and grasses that make up savanna ecosystems, he said.

“Our results suggest that plant defense should be added to the list,” he said. “These ants play a central role in preventing animals that want to eat trees from doing extensive damage to those trees.”

Conducting research in the central highlands of Kenya, Palmer said he noticed elephants rarely ate a widespread tree species known as Acacia drepanolobium where guardian ants aggressively swarm anything that touches the trees.

But they would feed on other trees that did not harbor these ants, he said.

When it came to tree species that had ants on them, “the elephants avoided those trees like a kid avoids broccoli,” Palmer said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Animals, Drought, Other0 Comments

Drought Strikes Mali Nomads Hard

TALATAYE, Mali, Aug. 27 (UPI) — Nomadic tribes in the desert regions of northern Mali are facing one of the worst droughts in 20 years, authorities in that African nation say.

More than a quarter of the district’s population has already migrated elsewhere, toward he Niger river, into neighboring Niger and even as far as Burkina Faso far to the south, Inter Press Service reported Friday.

“Since the end of last year’s rainy season, many herders understood that this was going to be a drought year,” Mohamed Assaleh, mayor of the northern town of Talataye, said. “Grass hasn’t grown anywhere in the district. So they have decided to search for pastures further afield.”

Talataye’s population, estimated at 30,000, survives mainly from herding cattle, camels, sheep and goats. Drought is a recurring threat, and the herders presently face acute shortages of water and pasture.

“It’s unclear how many herds remain in Talataye versus how many have been displaced,” Assaleh said. “Wherever they go, the animals die in large numbers, especially sheep, cows and donkeys.

“A few camels and goats survive in places where there are a few trees.”

The Malian government sent about 400 tons of sorghum for distribution in the district of Talataye, but it’s little help, Assaleh said.

“It’s sorely needed support … but is not part of the customary diet,” Assaleh said.

The government had not consulted with locals before sending the sorghum, he said.

“It should have been replaced by rice or millet. What is worse is that the animals die eating it. So these donations will neither feed people, nor replace cattle feed,” Assaleh said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Animals, Drought, Other0 Comments

Fertilizers Found to Damage Aquatic Life

RALEIGH, N.C., Aug. 27 (UPI) — Fertilizer chemicals that end up in streams and rivers may be causing development abnormalities in aquatic life, U.S. researchers say.

North Carolina State University toxicologists found that nitrates and nitrites — common agricultural fertilizer chemicals — are taken up by water fleas and converted to toxic nitric oxide, a university release said Friday.

Nitric oxide can be toxic to many organisms, and the study found the water fleas were plagued with developmental and reproductive problems consistent with the toxicity, even at what would be considered low concentrations.

This raises questions about the effect the chemicals may have on other organisms, Dr. Gerald LeBlanc, professor of environmental and molecular toxicology at NC State, said.

“There’s only limited evidence to suggest that animals could convert nitrates and nitrites to nitric oxide, although plants can,” he said. “Since animals and plants don’t have the same cellular machinery for this conversion, it appears animals use different machinery for this conversion to occur.”

He said the toxic effects even at low concentrations worried him.

“Nitrite concentrations in water vary across the United States, but commonly fall within 1 to 2 milligrams per liter of water,” he says. “We saw negative effects to water fleas at approximately 0.3 milligrams per liter of water.”

Harmful effects of nitric oxide included developmental delay in which water flea babies were born on schedule but were underdeveloped and, in some cases, lacked appendages important for swimming.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Animals, Aquatic Life, Chemicals, Other0 Comments

Groups Urge Serengeti Protection

LONDON, Aug. 25 (UPI) — British wildlife groups say they are urging the government of Tanzania to reconsider plans to build a highway through the heart of Serengeti National Park.

The Wildlife Conservation Society and the Zoological Society of London recommend that alternative routes be used that can meet the transportation needs of the region without disrupting the greatest remaining migration of large land animals in the world in world’s best-known wildlife sanctuary, a WCS release said Wednesday.

At issue is the proposed Arusha-Musoma highway slated for construction in 2012 that would bisect the northern portion of the park and jeopardize the annual migration of wildebeest and zebra, a spectacle comprising nearly 2 million animals.

“The Serengeti is the site of one of the last great ungulate migrations left on Earth, the pre-eminent symbol of wild nature for millions of visitors and TV viewers, and a hugely important source of income for the people of Tanzania through ecotourism,” Dr. James Deutsch, Executive Director of the WCS’s Africa Program, said.

“To threaten this natural marvel with a road would be a tragedy. We implore the Tanzanian government — known around the world for its commitment to conservation — to reconsider this proposal and explore other options.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Animals, Conservation, Ecotourism, Other, Transportation0 Comments

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